Two men and a woman allegedly tore down flags and banners at a loyalist protest camp and provocatively waved an Irish tricolour, a court heard today.
Police claimed the trio struck early on Tuesday amid continuing public order tensions at the Twaddell Avenue site in north Belfast.
Appearing in the dock at the city’s Magistrates Court were Patrick Quinn, 22, Sean Hyland, 21, and 20-year-old Kerry O’Hara.
All three have been charged with damaging flags or banners and waving a tricolour at a community flashpoint with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
Quinn, of Rosehead, Dunmurry, Belfast, and O’Hara, from Ardmore Road in Derry, are also both accused of stealing a flag from the camp.
With neither of them seeking bail, they were remanded in custody to appear again by video-link next week.
Hyland, of Cranbrook Court, Belfast, faces a further charge of obstructing police.
Opposing his bail application, a constable claimed the accused lives too close to the scene of the alleged trouble.
“In this case what allegedly happened was this gentleman with the two others tore down banners, took down flags and also stood on the opposite side of the road to the camp with a tricolour and he waved it,” he said.
He told the court it was a highly volatile location with ongoing public order problems.
Shots have been fired at patrols in the nationalist Ardoyne area in the past, according to the officer.
Although he stressed it was not a “no-go area”, planning would be required before police could go in to check on any bail conditions.
Loyalists have been protesting at Twaddell Avenue since July, after a decision to restrict an Orange Order parade.
Hyland’s lawyer argued that the accused had no reason to go near the site.
He added: “Tensions have been caused not by members of the local community but by this illegal camp.”
District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled that Hyland could be granted bail once an alternative address is approved by police.
She imposed an exclusion zone and prohibited him from going within 500 metres of the Twaddell Avenue demonstration.
Hyland will appear again in court on May 21.
Before he was led from the dock his lawyer continued to argue that the camp should be “dismantled”.
He told Judge Bagnall: “It’s perhaps something Mr Hyland will pursue in another court.”