Two men charged in connection with riots in Northern Ireland were today denied bail on grounds that they could re-offend – as police were pelted with stones and missiles on an eighth night of violence.
Matthew Shaw, 32, and Jonathan Maitland, 25, both from Belfast, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court, having been arrested following the riots on Thursday night.
Shaw was charged with rioting while Maitland was charged with rioting and possessing petrol bombs in suspicious circumstances.
It came after another chaotic night on Friday which saw 14 police officers injured, bringing the total number of officers hurt in the recent disorder to 88.
Seamus Bannon, representing Shaw, told the court his client had found himself at the scene of the riots on Lanark Way at ‘the behest and encouragement of others’.
Scroll down for video
Riot police are seen looking on as a hijacked car is set alight in the Tiger Bay area. Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill voiced her concern that the violence of recent days (pictured – Friday) will continue throughout the weekend
A Loyalist rioter is seen holding a paint bomb amid rioting in the Tigers Bay Area yesterday . He is seen above with white paint splatters over his balaclava and his outfit
More fireworks are seen exploding by the closed peace gate in Lanark Way in West Belfast. Young people were being lured into joining the rioting through social media
A rioter is seen spraying a substance towards police lines. Miss McKee Corner, whose 29-year-old sister was shot dead by the New IRA at a riot in the Creggan area of Londonderry in April 2019, called on the mobs to withdraw
A rioter, holding what appears to be a brick or rock, is seen above looking towards police lines amid the unrest in Northern Ireland
A police officer is seen using a water cannon as they clash with nationalist youths in the Springfield Road area of Belfast on Thursday night
Mr Bannon said his client ‘has no sectarian axe to grind’ and was ‘at a loss to explain how on earth he found himself in this position’.
‘It’s clear to me that he has no axe to grind in terms of what’s going on. His wife is actually Catholic and he was found at the Unionist/Protestant side of this divide’ he said. ‘He has no sectarian axe to grind at all.’
The court heard Shaw is a father to two children, while his partner is heavily pregnant with their third child.
Mr Bannon said: ‘She is absolutely appalled and disgusted that he has found himself in the position he now is in. It’s brought embarrassment on her and embarrassment on his children.’
Applying for bail, Mr Bannon noted that his client was charged only with being present at the scene and had not harmed or injured anybody.
He said the single reason for opposing bail would be risk of further offences.
He added: ‘Given the conversation that I have had with his wife, he is going to have very significant explaining to do when he’s speaking to her next.
‘She is a very stabilising influence, she runs a good house and she keeps him and everybody in the house in check. I submit that if he is granted bail, that in itself will be a significant factor on any particular issue that the court might have.’
However, Judge Rosalie Prytherch said the offences he is charged with are very serious, and that the situation in relation to the riots is ongoing.
She noted that he had made the decision to travel some distance at the encouragement of others to be present on Thursday night.
Denying bail, she said the risk of reoffending was too high and that the community needs to be protected. He was ordered to appear before the court via videolink on April 21.
A car is seen burning in Belfast amid the unrest. Yesterday, details were revealed of how Facebook and other social media platforms have been used by agitators
On Friday night PSNI officers attended the scene at Tiger Bay, a loyalist area in north Belfast with riot vans and police dogs in tow
Fireworks are seen exploding on police vehicles after being fired at police officers during clashes with nationalist youths in the Springfield Road area of Belfast on Thursday
Shaw, who is in receipt of employment benefits, was granted legal aid. Maitland was charged with rioting and possession of petrol bombs in suspicious circumstances.
He was also denied bail over fears that he could reoffend, with the court hearing he lived just a 15-minute walk form the scene of the disorder.
His solicitor Higgins Hollywood Deazley told the court his client attended the scene after being sent footage of what was happening on social media.
Lyra McKee was shot dead by the New IRA at a riot in the Creggan area of Londonderry in April 2019, called on the mobs to withdraw
He said his client had found a plastic bag at the scene, and picked it up thinking there was alcohol in the bag.
Another man wearing a balaclava approached him and asked if he was going to do anything with that bag to which he said ‘no’, and then provided the bag to them.
He said an allegation that his client had lit a petrol bomb was under dispute in his police interview.
Shaw told police he could not remember if he had lit the petrol bomb or passed his lighter to them, but believed he had passed his lighter as it was no longer in his possession.
The reason for his lack of memory, Mr Deazley said, was that his client was intoxicated having taken about ’12 beers, tins of Harp’.
He said his client had only been at the scene for a short time, was suffering from PTSD after being the victim of an assault some years back, and was struggling with family issues.
Judge Prytherch denied the application in view of the seriousness of the charges, the ongoing situation in relation to public disorder and the risk of reoffending.
It came as the sister of killed Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee called on rioters last night to end the violence in west Belfast before someone dies.
Nichola McKee Corner spoke after water cannon were used for the first time in six years.
Yesterday, details were revealed of how Facebook and other social media platforms have been used by agitators.
Postings list dates and times of protests where hundreds of rioters – some as young as 12 – have gathered to attack each other and police.
Hours before some of the worst violence on Wednesday, a Facebook post urged people to ‘join the fight and keep us British’.
A police officer is seen trying to put out a fire during protests in the Loyalist Tigers Bay Area of Belfast. Loyalist leaders had urged the community not to participate in protests on Friday after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh
Riot police are seen protecting themselves with a riot shields amid the unrest. The street is seen above covered with debris
Debris thrown by some of the rioters is seen on the streets of the Tigers Bay Area. There were sporadic incidents of unrest in Northern Ireland on Friday evening
That night, a bus was set alight and a burning car was driven at the ‘peace walls’ dividing loyalist and nationalist areas.
Inflammatory online posts include phrases such as ‘no surrender’ and ‘f*** the PSNI’ – Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Loyalist paramilitaries – suspected of smuggling drugs – are allegedly behind some of the violence, which has also broken out in Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and Londonderry.
Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie, a Northern Ireland assembly member, said: ‘The South East Antrim Ulster Defence Association is nothing more than a criminal drug gang who put kids on the streets to cause violence on their behalf.’
Loyalist parades planned for the coming days are thought to have been cancelled following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
On Friday night PSNI officers attended the scene at Tiger Bay, a loyalist area in north Belfast with riot vans and police dogs in tow.
Some officers have come under attack, with missiles such as stones and bottles thrown at them, and reports of petrol bombs being used.
Officers are seen standing behind riot police lines. Some officers have come under attack, with missiles such as stones and bottles thrown at them, and reports of petrol bombs being used
Police officers arrived in riot vans on Friday following more arrest in Belfast. Debris was left in the middle of the road on North Queen Street