Judge orders man to remove ‘anti-Irish Sea Border’ graffiti

Larne Port has been at the centre of the Protocol debate.

A JUDGE has ordered a man to remove anti-Irish Sea Border graffiti in Larne.

Neill Magill (28), of Herbert Avenue in Larne, has had sentencing deferred to await the outcome of his clean-up of a wall close to the town’s PSNI Station.

The defendant was at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday via a video link from his solicitor’s office.

Previously Magill admitted two charges – causing criminal damage to a wall and also possessing spray paint with intent to damage property at Hope Street in Larne.

The offences occurred on March 22 this year.

A prosecution lawyer told the court that around 8.50pm on March 22 this year a police patrol exiting Hope Street saw the defendant “spraying something” on a nearby wall.

The words “All Irish Sea Border staff…” were found written on a wall.

Magill made off and when he was caught he was concealing a tin of spray paint which he threw on the ground.

He didn’t comply with police and had to be restrained. A spray paint lid was found on him and two tins of spray paint were found during a search of his home.

When interviewed he made full admissions.

The court heard the defendant had a previously clear record.

A defence solicitor told an earlier court it was one incident of “anti-Irish Sea border graffiti”.

At Thursday’s Court, District Judge Nigel Broderick asked if the graffiti was still visible on the wall and the defence solicitor said his client said it was.

The judge said the defendant had indicated to a Probation Officer he would be keen to “apply himself” and get the wall cleaned.

Judge Broderick said if that was done it would be taken into consideration when he sentences Magill.

The defence lawyer said Magill had also offered to clean up the wall when he was interviewed by police.

The judge said he didn’t want to “make a bad situation worse” and the permission of the property owner should be sought.

A prosecutor said she would get the investigating police officer to speak to the owner of the wall.

Judge Broderick added that he wanted Magill “to clean it off and make good what he did”.

He said the defendant could be shown how to remove the graffiti and added: “I don’t know if you need some special chemical or a spray so if I adjourn the matter for four weeks would that give enough time to sort that out?”

The prosecutor said that would be enough time. The case was adjourned to July.

At least two other men from the Larne area have been charged in connection with anti-Irish Sea Border graffiti in the town relating to an incident in early February this year.

During that cases it was heard there have been numerous incidents of such graffiti appearing in Larne and other parts of Northern Ireland.

EU customs rules are enforced at ports including Larne as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol – the section of the Brexit deal which keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

Many Unionists and Loyalists have expressed strong opposition to the Protocol and there have been heightened tensions in towns like Larne.

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