No prosecution over DUP placard insult at Gay Pride parade

The incident happened at a Gay Pride march in Belfast last August
The incident happened at a Gay Pride march in Belfast last August

A 25-year-old woman investigated by police for holding a placard bearing an offensive message about the DUP will not be prosecuted.

Police sent a file to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) over Ellie Evans carrying the placard with the words ‘F*** the DUP’. The incident happened at a Gay Pride march in Belfast last August.

Organisers of the event confiscated her placard saying its content was in breach of Parades Commission rules.

DUP MLA Jim Wells lodged a complaint with police and Ms Evans was questioned under legislation relating to public order and inciting hatred.

However, the PPS said that after examining all the evidence in the case it has decided not to take the matter any further, stating that it did not meet the “test for prosecution”.

According to the PPS, this test involves an assessment of whether the available evidence provides a reasonable prospect of conviction, and whether such a prosecution would be in the public interest.

In a statement the PPS said: “Two potential public order offences were considered in relation to the incident.

“However, it was concluded that there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction for an offence under Article 9 of the Public Order (NI) Order 1987 because the message was not directed towards a group of persons defined by religious belief, disability, race, sexual orientation, colour, nationality or ethnicity.

“An offence contrary to Article 19 of the 1987 order was also considered but the available evidence did not provide a reasonable prospect of proving the required intent to provoke a breach of the peace or, alternatively, that a breach of the peace was likely as a result of the accused’s conduct.”

However, the PPS spokeswoman added: “It was further considered that the potential for prosecution under Article 9 of the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 did not arise because no determination had issued from the Parades Commission in respect of the Belfast Pride parade.”

Following the incident last year, Ms Evans accused the PSNI of being “heavy handed” in calling to her home to invite her to attend a voluntary interview, saying they could have written instead.

The News Letter was unable to reach Mr Wells for comment yesterday.

Speaking to the BBC last October, the South Down MLA said: “There’s absolutely no place for that type of language to be aimed at Northern Ireland’s largest political party.”