PARADE MONITOR’S ADDRESS PUBLISHED
A DUP minister has removed the address of a human rights activist from his on-line blog after being contacted by police. Social development minister Nelson McCausland posted personal details of North Belfast man Fra Hughes on his website Nelson’s View last week.
Mr Hughes – who acted as a parades observer for a Belfast – based human rights group – complained to police, saying he was concerned about the safety of his family. While the PSNI said it was not a police matter, they spoke with the north Belfast assembly member, who removed the address. Mr Hughes attended a number of parades across the North of Ireland this summer including an Apprentice Boys march which passed close to Ardoyne on August 11th. Mr McCausland claimed he filmed marchers but when asked to identify himself, he refused. He also reproduced a picture of Mr Hughes with north Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Conor Maskey. He later wrote : ” I can’t understand why he was unwilling to identify himself when he is happy to do so on the Sinn Fein blog and numerous YouTube videos relating to Palestine.” During the entry the minister also listed Mr Hughes ‘ address. Mr Hughes last night said the episode has left him feeling ” vulnerable “.
A spokesman for the PSNI confirmed it had raised Mr Hughes ‘ concerns with Mr McCausland – who also faced criticism for a blog entry about parades last month – and he ” agreed to take down the personal details from the website and did so that day “. Mr Hughes, who is also a founding member of Belfast Friends of Palestine, last night said the episode has left him feeling ” vulnerable “. ” I have serious concerns for my business and my family following several articles on minister McCausland’s blog,” he said. A spokesman for the PSNI confirmed it had contacted Mr McCausland about the contents of his website. ” Police in Antrim Road received a report on Tuesday 11th September of a man’s personal details appearing on a blog,” he said. A spokesman for the DUP confirmed that Mr McCausland removed a portion of the post after being approached by the PSNI. ” He felt that if the police had come and had mentioned it to him he would respect that and act in good faith and in the best interests [ of everyone ] ,” he said. ” That’s not to say he was admitting it was illegal to do it.” A spokesman for the ILDC, set up in 2010 by a group of Queen’s University Belfast law students to campaign against human rights abuses and monitor contentious parades at the request of host communities, said it was ” dismayed ” by the minister’s actions. Mr McCausland’s blog entries have been a source of controversy in the past. He made headlines last month when members of Rasharkin Residents Collective, which opposes a loyalist parade through the Co Antrim town, said they would consider legal action over comments made by the minister. Mr McCausland is also facing an assembly motion of censure after the SDLP claimed he breached his ministerial code of conduct by failing to condemn breaches of legally binding Parades Commission determinations by loyalist bands marching past St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Belfast.
WITH MANY THANK’S TO : CONNIA YOUNG, IRISH NEWS.