Northern Ireland news

Loyalist David Stitt and four others charged with taking part in illegal NI Protocol protest parade

David Stitt is accused of taking part in an illegal protocol protest parade

LEADING loyalist David Stitt and four other men were accused of taking part in an illegal protocol protest parade.

Although none of the five defendants attended Newtownards Magistrates Court, they were all charged with taking part in an unnotified parade on May 31 last year.

The five accused are: David Stitt (51), from Lord Wardens Court in Bangor; Mark Anderson (38), from Dunville Link in Holywood; Lee Paul Kennedy (33), from Upper Crescent in Comber; Louis Cowan (36), from Oakley Avenue in Holywood; and Edward James Shaw (45), from Carrowdore Gardens in Bangor.

The charge arises following a protest parade in the Kilcooley estate in Bangor where dozens of people were led on a parade by the North Down Defenders Flute band, which Stitt once described as "our homeland security".

At the time, loyalist groups were holding numerous 'pop up protests' in the form of non publicised band parades but under legislation, any parade has to be permitted by the Parades Commission.

In this instance, the charge alleges that Stitt and others "took part in a public procession in respect of which the requirements of section 6 of the public processions (NI) Act 1998 had not been satisfied".

Defence counsel Conan Rea confirmed that "the matter is to be contested".

Adjourning the case to July 26, District Judge Mark Hamill said he wanted to know "if there are legal issues, the number of witness and the estimated duration of this saga" before he fixed a date for contest.

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