Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Republican rioter jailed

A republican rioter who threw a petrol bomb at police during riots at Ardoyne last year has been jailed for two years.  Nineteen-year-old Ruairi Muldoon from Fortwilliam Demesne was sentenced to two years in prison and three years on licence after pleading guilty to charges of riot and throwing a petrol bomb on the evening of 12 July last year. 

Belfast Crown Court judge Tom Burgess said, 'This was a dreadful riot.  Businesses were badly damaged, residents put at risk and the level of fear must have been enormous.'

The case is interesting for several reasons and not just for the sentence handed out to the rioter.

1. The rioter lived in Fortwilliam Demesne, a fine new development of private houses in the prestigious  and tree-lined Fortwilliam Park.  His home was several miles away from the route of the homeward Orange parade but he travelled all that way to engage in a riot.

2. Just days before the Ardoyne incident Muldoon had been involved in throwing stones at police on the Limestone Road, again some distance away from his home.

Muldoon is clearly a young man who doesn't need an excuse to riot or attack the police.

As well as sentencing Muldoon, the judge issued a general warning that involvement in riots leads to imprisonment and the sentence handed out to Ruairi Muldoon certainly emphasises that message.

Muldoon first appeared in court on 1 August 2011, a few weeks after the incident, and yet he has only been convicted and sentenced 11 months later.  That is one of the shortcomings of our justice system.  A strong sentence is a good thing but it would be even better if justice were meted out more quickly.

Another young republican, Kevin McFall, from Moyard Parade in West Belfast was charged on the same day as Muldoon but I have not yet seen the outcome of that case.  Nevertheless he certainly had to travel quite a few miles to get to Ardoyne.  McFall was seen on CCTV sniffing glue while throwing a petrol bomb.  He also exposed himself to police officers and two weeks later he was arrested after a separate incident and charged with aggravated burglary, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault on police. 

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