Northern Ireland

Man went to union flag protest with stone in pocket

A man who went to a union flag protest in Belfast with a stone in his pocket has been given 18 months probation.

David Rowe, 20, of Laurelvale, County Armagh, pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

Rowe was said to have travelled to the city as street disorder flared out of "nosiness".

The court heard he came from Portadown with his girlfriend and others to be a spectator at protests in the Albertbridge Road area on 7 January.

He was stopped, searched and found to have a stone in his pocket.

It was not alleged that Rowe took part in rioting that flared over the decision to limit the number of days on which the union flag flies at Belfast City Hall.

His lawyer said he was only there to observe events with his friends.

"He came with his girlfriend out of nosiness to see what was happening in Belfast that particular day," he said.

The district judge imposed an 18 months probation order.