A LEADING Republican and a prominent loyalist are to appear before the same Belfast court today charged with separate high-profile offences, Sean Hughes (51),once named a member of the Provisional IRA‘s army council, was charged last night in connection with the 2005 murder of Robert McCartney in South Belfast. The charges are linked to an internal IRA investigation alleged to have taken place following the murder of Mr McCartney. Flags protest organiser Willie Frazer (52), was charged yesterday in connection with widespread loyalist demonstrations over changes to the flaying of the Union flag over Belfast City Hall.
He is to appear before Belfast Magistrates Court today charged with three counts of taking part in an un-notified public procession and obstructing traffic in a public place. He was arrested in the Tandragee Road area of Markethill, Co Armagh, on Wednesday this week. Police announced the charges against Mr Frazer just hours after his fellow protest leader Jamie Bryson was arrested in Bangor. The 23-year-old had previously taunted police about their apparent inability to arrest him. Officers had searched his home and workplace and seized his car on Wednesday, but could not find the loyalist poster boy. He was still being questioned last night.
Sean Hughes is to appear before Belfast Magistrates Court this morning charged with addressing a meeting for the purpose of encouraging a proscribed organisation. He was arrested at his family farm in Jonesborough, South Armagh, on Wednesday and taken to Antrim police station. He is the second mainstream republican to be held in connection with the McCartney case in recent months. In November, West Belfast man Padraic Wilson was charged with membership of the Provisional IRA and holding a meeting in support of the organisation. Sinn Fein held a protest at PSNI headquarters in east Belfast following the arrest of Mr Wilson. He is on bail awaiting trial on the charges which he has denied. Both arrests came after the sisters and partner of Mr McCartney, who campaigned for justice in the aftermath of his death, made fresh statements to police in relation to meetings they held with the IRA following the 2005 murder of the 33-year-old at a Belfast City Centre bar. Mr Hughes is a veteran republican and a long-time supporter of Sinn Fein. In 2009 the Serious Organised Crime Agency froze assets belonging to him and five members of his family. The move was criticised by then Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy who said he was a long-time friend of the “sound republican”. In 2002 Peter Robinson used parliamentary privilege to name Mr Hughes as a member of the IRA army council, an allegation he has denied.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : ALLISON MORRIS, IRISH NEWS.
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