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Preacher Stephen Tallon Failed to Halt Trial for Speaking About Jesus

A man who was arrested for breach of an anti-social behaviour order by speaking and singing about Jesus through a loudspeaker in public has failed to halt his trial due to be held on November 2nd.

Stephen Tallon was arrested by a Garda who heard him “singing and referencing Jesus” in the Bull Ring area, Wexford town, on the morning of October 7th.

Mr Tallon had in August been made subject of a District Court order prohibiting him from “engaging in public speaking and recording” anywhere within the environs of Wexford town including the Bull Ring area.

This was made under section 115 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 dealing with civil anti-social behaviour orders.

On Friday in the High Court, Mr Tallon, who has been in custody in Cloverhill, Dublin, since October 7th on remand on charges including a breach of that order and public order charges, failed to get an order that his trial on Monday be halted, and for bail, pending judicial review proceedings.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan, following a one-side only represented application by Colman Fitzgerald SC, for Mr Tallon, also refused to grant leave to judicially review the charges against him.

The judge said he was satisfied the District Court judge who is due to hear his case on Monday, will be in a position to decide whether the case raised constitutional issues including freedom of speech, as claimed by Mr Tallon’s lawyers. The District Court was, he said, the appropriate forum to hear the evidence in the case.

This would include Mr Tallon’s claims there was no evidence, as required for it to be an offence, he was harassing, likely to harass, causing or likely to cause significant or persistent alarm or distress to others or to their use or enjoyment of their property.

The court heard a local shop owner had on October 7th call a Garda, complaining the noise prevented her from hearing or talking to customers as the man sang and spoke “about redemption and religion”.

When Garda Daniel Guihen and a colleague arrived within minutes, Garda Guihen said, in a statement of evidence, he lowered his car window and heard a male voice “singing and referencing Jesus”.

The officer recognized Mr Tallon whom he knew previously and arrested him for breach of the August order.

In an affidavit, Dublin solicitor Cormac O’Ceallaigh, who took over Mr Tallon’s case from his previous Wexford solicitors on October 19th, said under the civil anti-social behaviour order, the District Court in August said it was satisfied he had behaved in an anti-social manner.

That court was also satisfied Mr Tallon had been issued, as required by the law, with three or more behaviour warnings in six consecutive months, two in June and two in July.

Mr O’Ceallaigh said the law also provides those warnings be recorded in writing and served on the individual but he, as solicitor, had not yet had sight of those warnings.

In the application for judicial review, an order was also sought quashing the making of the August civil order.

Declarations were also sought that Section 115 of the 2006 Act was invalid having regard to Articles 38 and 40 of the Constitution protecting the right to trial by due course of law and freedom of expression.

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