Republican refused bail in speech case

Dee Fennell.
Dee Fennell.

A Republican activist who made a speech on Easter Sunday in St Colman’s Cemetery, Lurgan, was refused bail today (Friday) at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

Damien Fennell (33), Duneden Park, Belfast, is accused of encouraging people to commit acts of terrorism and inviting people to support a proscribed organisation.

A public prosecutor said the defendant had made a speech on Easter Sunday, April 5, in St Colman’s Cemetery, Lurgan, which was recorded and broadcast on the internet. It was removed on April 15.

She added that on April 20 police searched the home of the defendant and a number of items were recovered including one page of the speech made by Fennell.

The investigating officer, a detective sergeant, had a transcript of the speech Fennell made with him in court and handed one to the judge.

He read out in court various excerpts from the speech including a quote from Marie Dunne about it wasn’t enough to shout up the IRA but important to join the IRA.

In the speech Fennell also said: “The use of arms prior to 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms in Easter 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms after 1916 was totally legitimate.”

The officer said that 24 hours before the speech shots had been fired at the Lurgan cemetery and two days later armed men were on the streets of Lurgan.

He added that if the defendant went on making these speeches then further offences could be committed.

The officer said the defendant did not accept the legal system and felt he would not abide by any conditions set by the court.

He accepted Fennell had limited record with a previous offence for obstructing.

He believed there was a risk of further offending.

Mr Peter Corrigan, representing the defendant, said his client had not been charged with membership of a proscribed organisation and there was no suggestion he was a member. He had no relevant previous convictions.

He outlined Fennell’s background and his youth work saying he had ‘played a very positive role in relation to the community’.

The solicitor said he had a very young family and if bail was refused this would be detrimental to the whole family.

He had an address outside Lurgan and if he had to move out of the Ardoyne area he could stay with his parents. He would abide by any conditions set by the court.

District Judge, Mr Alan White believed there was clear evidence which could be seen to be encouraging people to join the IRA.

He added that there also could be a risk of further offences.

Judge White refused bail but told Fennell he could apply to the High Court.

He was remanded to appear again on videolink at Craigavon on May 29.