A MAN has been cleared of praising the IRA at a republican march through Alexandria and been found not guilty of a breach of the peace.

James MacDonald, 50, was cleared of the alleged breach under the Terrorism Act after the march last April 25 where he made a speech in Back Street, Renton.

The march, from the Irish Republican Bands Scotland, who are currently making a second bid to parade through Clydebank next month, went off without any incident.

There were about 60 people across the three bands, another 30 walking with them and 20 police, followed by two speeches, Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard last week.

One of the lead police officers for the event said he heard a reference to the IRA, amongst five that were of concern.

He said: “Upon hearing the first reference to the IRA, I was concerned about the content of the speech and requested one of the officers start his body camera.”

The first statement he took issue with was: “No matter who the new British overseer, rest assured we will be paying them a visit too.”

Then: “There are far too many pub patriots and plastic IRA men on both sides of the sea. I ask them to join us.” Mr MacDonald also spoke of a “duty to support the right of every Irish man or woman to take up arms against foreign oppressors”, made a reference to fighting for a 32-county socialist democratic Ireland, and said “join us”, which officers took as meaning “join the IRA”.

But Mr MacDonald’s solicitor argued his client was actually praising Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA.

Sheriff Tom Ward watched a video on the accused’s mobile phone showing the first half of the speech not caught by the police which mentioned Sinn Féin and the IRA.

The officer said he made Mr MacDonald aware of his concerns and said there were a number of people who had been part of the parade who objected to the detention. He said one person said Mr MacDonald was “out of order”.

He admitted if the reference had been to Sinn Féin, “that would not have been a comment that would cause me concern”.

The defence also suggested Mr MacDonald was visited by Special Branch while in custody in Clydebank, something the sergeant said he was unaware of and which the solicitor that said they were unable to obtain notes to prove the visit.

The parade last year parade went from Middleton Street in Alexandria, then Main Street, then Back Street and lasted about an hour.

Sheriff Ward said during the officer’s evidence: “I’m not entirely clear what constitutes a crime.”

Mr MacDonald, who was listed in court papers as a resident of Grantham Road, Radcliffe on Trent, Nottingham, was found not guilty.