Behave or stay away - court

A DERVOCK man fined £250 for giving a "one fingered salute" to nationalist protestors during a loyalist band parade in Rasharkin has been told by a District Judge if he can't behave himself he should stay in his own area.

Wednesday, 7th April 2010, 1:59 pm

The comment was made by District Judge Richard Wilson at North Antrim Magistrates Court in Coleraine on Wednesday of last week where Richard McConaghie (20), of Greystone Crescent, admitted a disorderly behaviour charge and was fined 250.

The court heard the incident occurred on August 21 last year at Main Street, Rasharkin, during a "volatile" situation when nationalist protestors gathered to object to a loyalist band parade.

A number of people have already appeared in court in connection with incidents in Rasharkin last year.

A prosecutor said police identified McConaghie from video footage. He was standing on a wall at Rasharkin Orange Hall making a "one fingered salute" towards nationalist protestors.

McConaghie, who had a previous record, told police he was "provoked" by nationalist protestors.

Mr Wilson said McConaghie was "not covering himself in glory".

A defence lawyer said on the evening in question a band parade was being held in Rasharkin and his client was there as spectator and he said his client felt provoked by the nationalist protestors and he gave the "one fingered salute".

The lawyer said it was a direct, albeit foolish, reaction to "taunts" by other factions who were protesting at the band parade.

He said the defendant should have been "a bigger man" and not responded to what was being shouted across at him.

District Judge Wilson noted that McConaghie had court appearances in September last year and he said they were obviously not weighing too heavily on the defendant's mind at the time of the August offence.

The defence lawyer said his client's actions were a "knee-jerk reaction" during a volatile situation when discourteous remarks were being shouted in his direction.

Fining McConaghie 250, Mr Wilson said: "If he can't behave himself he should stay where he comes from and not go to Rasharkin at all. Otherwise he could be losing his liberty."