A Derry man has been sentenced to a month in jail after he taunted a Unionist flag protest outside Belfast City Hall with his Irish tricolour tattoo.
Damien Joseph Young was sentenced by the city’s Magistrates Court after he pleaded guilty to the act – just a day after he was released from prison.
The court heard that the 47-year-old had only been released from a four month sentence for assault when he provoked the loyalist crowd with his gesture.
When arrested after flashing his tattoo at the 50 protesters, he told police: “I was only trying to be the big man.”
The court heard that traffic on Donegall Square had to stop abruptly to avoid hitting him as he headed straight for the group.
The UTV website reports that a prosecution lawyer said police saw Young, of no fixed address, take off his jacket and throw it to the ground.
The officer said he then rolled up the sleeve of his jumper and pointed to the Irish flag tattooed on his upper right arm.
Police removed Young for his own safety as the crowd became agitated and started shouting. Young then swore at the officers as they approached him.
He told police he was staying at the Morning Star hostel in the city, but staff later confirmed he was banned from the premises.
The court heard Young plead guilty to charges of disorderly behavior and engaging in a provocative act.
His lawyer revealed that the offenses were committed the day after he had completed a four-month jail sentence for assault.
Young walked to Lisburn from Maghaberry Prison before getting a train to Belfast and began drinking after failing to secure bed and breakfast accommodation.
His lawyer said: “He came across the flag protestors and went over to them, but it was not aggressive in any fashion.
“With drink on him he thought it would be a bit of a laugh to roll up his sleeve and show his tattoo, the flag of the Irish Republic.”
District Judge Rosalie Prytherch rejected Young’s story.
She said: “I think it’s anything but a bit of a laugh. You have an absolutely appalling record for disorderly behaviour. And this is the very day after you get out of Maghaberry.”
The report adds that as Young was led back to the cells he directed a thumbs-up gesture towards the judge.