Dundalk court case opens against NI men preaching against homosexuality

A Loughbrickland preacher says he will never retract any of his comments on homosexuality, as a court case against him begins today in Dundalk District Court.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:22 am

Three open air preachers from NI were arrested by Garda in Dundalk on 21 September after being warned to stop preaching on homosexuality. When they declined, Ryan Williamson, 44, and Robert Ervine, 34, both from Loughbrickland in Co Down, and Sean Paul Tully, 43, from west Belfast, were all handcuffed and taken into Dundalk Garda station and charged with public order offences.

Speaking to the News Letter last night, Ryan Williamson said he would not consider retracting any of his preaching.

“That is out of the question - I can’t retract it, it is God’s word,” he said. Asked if he would return to Dundalk if he is convicted, he would not rule it out. “I will go anywhere the Lord is leading me.”

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NI street preachers, from left to right, Sean Paul Tully, Ryan Williamson, and Robert Ervine. All three were arrested by Garda in Dundalk are to appear in court on public order charges.

He has been preaching in the town for about two years.

“Generally the feedback is very good. It would be one of my favourite places for preaching. There seem to be quite a few nationalities there and amongst them, quite a few fervent Christians who support us.”

“Although in every town there are those that really hate it, then there are those that are neutral.”

He also defended himself from claims on social media that he had been preaching that children with disabilities are a judgement from God.

“I have never heard anyone preaching that and if anyone did in my company I would certainly have words with them,” he said. He also insists that he is not fixated on preaching about sexuality.

“I would only spend about 2-5% of my time preaching on it. I was preaching in Banbridge yesterday and never mentioned it. But if I am preaching in Belfast and there is an LGBT protest against us, then I would normally explain from the bible why it is wrong and why Christians hold that view.”

His solicitor, Ciaran Mulholland of Mulholland law in Dundalk, said that due to Covid restrictions, the three men will not need to appear in court in person today.

He had previously written to the Garda to press them to withdraw the charges. “It is most unfortunate that the superintendent has not responded to the representations made with regards to the legality of the prosecution,” he said last night.

Mr Williamson has been preaching across NI for over a decade, but claims the PSNI has been increasingly confronting him about his comments on homosexuality in the past 12 months. In August he was arrested by the PSNI in Larne after refusing to stop preaching. He was released pending a report to the PPS.

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