Inadvertently, Seán Johnston from Derry may have struck a blow for nationalist residents and other who are bothered on a regular basis by the noise and deliberate provocation caused by loyalist bands throughout the summer.
Seán – an accidental martyr – was given a suspended three-month prison sentence and a £250 fine for 'playing Irish rebel music as he passed an Orange parade'. The bold Sean was playing the Wolfe Tones loudly on his car stereo as he drove past an orange parade.
The BBC reports District Judge Barney McElholm as saying that it was a "seriously stupid action", and that "if there was such a thing as "a good time and good place" to play music by the Wolfe Tones, it was not during Orange Order parades".
Now, as everyone knows, everyone is equal before the law – so if it is 'seriously stupid' (and apparently also illegal) to play music associated with one tradition as you pass members of the other tradition, then this bodes ill for the musical offerings of loyalist bands – particularly the 'kick the pope' bands that accompany many Orange marches – as they pass by Catholic Churches, nationalist residential areas, and even places where Catholics and nationalists tend to congregate.
It is unlikely that Mr McElholm's judgement is of sufficient importance to act as a legal precedent, but any other such cases that come before him, at any rate, will presumably be judged in the same way. His colleagues elsewhere in Northern Ireland may take a differing view, but it will only be a matter of time before any inconsistencies make their way up the legal system by way of appeals, until finally Northern Ireland has a judge-made law that will finally silence the worst of the loyalist bands.