A MEMBER of the Orange Order has been remanded in custody on Thursday accused of the attempted murder of a police officer during Twelfth of July rioting in north Belfast.
In the dock of Belfast Magistrates Court was Mark Jason Blaney, from Alliance Court, a cul-de-sac street off Alliance Avenue in north Belfast.
He was arrested at his Alliance Close home on Wednesday by boiler-suited officers from a special Tactical Support Group (TSG) unit detailed to make arrests over the trouble.
The 30-year-old had been identified by a special police unit which had been studying heli-teli pictures and also CCTV images from the ground of the trouble last month when a feeder parade was stopped from returning home by the shopfronts in Ardoyne.
Blaney, a father-of-three, is accused of attacking an officer with a sword during a riot on the Woodvale Road.
The full-time work was also charged with having an offensive weapon and riotous behaviour on July 12.
Bail was refused and the accused will appear in court again on Thursday, September 5.
Belfast Magistrates Court was told that when investigating police police put the charges to him on Wednesday evening, Blaney replied: “I didn’t intend to harm anybody. I’m sorry. I apologise.”
The prosecution said the accused had admitted receiving a text message arranging a meeting where swords and flags were handed out.
But a defence lawyer said this text message just referred to a meeting of an Orange lodge.
The police objected to bail because they said there was a risk he would commit more offences.
Mark Blaney’s solicitor said the accused was “under no illusions about the consequences of his actions”, but pointed out that the accused had a full-time job and three young children, and argued that the court could manage the risk of re-offending.
The district judge said that, given the context of the allegations and that there were more contentious parades to come over the next month, she was refusing bail.
Blaney was remanded in custody to Maghaberry prison in Co Antrim for a month.
However, it is understood he is expected to apply for bail at the High Court in Belfast in an effort to secure his freedom and also to keep his job.
Belfast Daily revealed yesterday that searches had been carried out in the Glenbryn area of the upper Ardoyne on Wednesday morning.
It is understood police have been looking to arrest members of the Pride of the Ardoyne band which accompanied Orange Lodges back to north Belfast before their route home was prevented by police landrovers.
Said a source: “All but one of the band members were not at home.
“Police called at one band member’s home but he fled out the back door.”
It is understood one band member was identified by police after he appeared on a recent BBC 3 documentary ‘Petrol Bombs and Peace’ over the parading trouble.
Hundreds of hours of footage, heli-teli images, newspaper articles and public broadcast footage are currently being studied to identify people involved in the trouble.
A special team of police officers was set up in the wake of the Ardoyne riots to identify those involved.