Ardoyne protest appeals rejected (BBC News NI)

Eight men who failed to overturn convictions for staging sit-down protests at a disputed Orange Order parade in Belfast have vowed to go to jail rather than pay fines.
Each had been fined £400 for blocking a main road at Ardoyne in the city during the Twelfth of July march in 2010.
Some were also convicted of resisting arrest and final an additional £200.
Judge Derick Rodgers threw out the appeals after rejecting all grounds of challenge.
Outside Belfast County Court, it was claimed the charges were brought in a doomed attempt to silence the Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Coalition’s opposition to Orange parades.
GARC spokesman Damien Fennell, 30, of Linden Gardens, Belfast, who was one of those found guilty of obstruction, said: “We will not be going anywhere.
“We will be continuing to oppose unwanted loyal order parades through our area by whatever peaceful means necessary.”
Mr Fennell also claimed the punishment was unjust. He added: “All of the appellants here today will be refusing to pay their fines.
“We are willing to go to jail to demonstrate our opposition to these parades through our area.”
Last December a total of 25 men and one woman were found guilty of staging an illegal sit-down protest on the Crumlin Road. Identification evidence was held to be strong enough to convict them.
The charges were defended with residents and campaigners claiming they were involved in a peaceful sit-down protest which did not breach a Parades Commission determination.
Those who appealed were Mr Fennell; John Darragh, 32, of Mountforde Gardens; William Catney, 53, from Springfield Park; Robert Jackson, 48, of Kenard Avenue; Paul Carson, 47, from Highbury Gardens; Alan Lundy, 33, from Rosehead; Aiden Ferguson, 31, of Highbury Gardens; and Daniel Lundy, 31, of Russell Place – all in Belfast.
Their lawyers argued that the road was already blocked before the protest began.
Judge Rodgers rejected this submission and a further contention that the blockage was caused by police diversion signs. He stressed that the appellants were not deprived of their right to protest under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Upholding the convictions, he stated: “They could have applied to the Parades Commission for permission to protest and done so legitimately and subject to any restrictions placed on them.
“Alternatively, they could have carried out an unregulated parade which did not involve blocking the highway and preventing its legitimate use.” He also dismissed the appeals against resisting police, declaring that officers acted lawfully in clearing the roadway.”



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