Frazer bail restrictions relaxed for parades

July 1, 2013

A judge has agreed to a temporary relaxation of loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer’s bail restrictions to allow him to attend a parade marking the Battle of the Somme and a Twelfth of July demonstration and the Scarva sham fight.

The judge has ruled that the 53 year old remains banned from saying anything publicly about any of the gatherings or the union flag dispute.

Based on his record and his behaviour since being charged, District Judge Austin Kennedy said,

“You can attend quietly all three events without making any comment to anyone about the events.”

The Markethill man is charged with encouraging offences by an address to flag demonstrators in January.

He is also accused of three counts of taking part in an un-notified public procession, obstructing traffic in a public place, and possession of a prohibited weapon, namely a stun-gun.

He was granted bail in March on a series of tight conditions including an order not to be within two miles of public protests, demonstrations or processions.

Frazer appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Friday seeking to have that prohibition temporarily lifted for the three upcoming events.

Police opposed the application, arguing that the situation within the loyalist community remains volatile and that Frazer’s attendance at the events could inflame others to commit offences.

Defence counsel Richard Smyth claimed his rights to freedom of assembly and religious expression were involved and said the Somme commemoration in particular was an event which was very close to Mr Frazer and his grandmother’s seven brothers had fought in World War One.

Mr Smyth further argued that all three events were important for the cultural identity of his client and said he felt police and the prosecution were “attempting to lay the blame for whatever tensions there are in loyalism solely at the door of Mr Frazer.”

Judge Kennedy ruled that Mr Frazer was still banned from making any public speeches or giving interviews connected to the flag dispute.