18 December 2005

Birdman of Belfast gets wings clipped

Sunday Life

Defiant Gerry: 'They can coop me up in jail... but I'll not pay litter fine'

By Stephen Breen
18 December 2005

The angry 'have-a-go' hero is being fined by Belfast City Council - for feeding PIGEONS!

Outraged Gerard Braiden - whose best pal Norman Lowry was left fighting for his life after they attempted to stop a notorious car thief last March - hit out at the council for slapping him with a £50 litter fine.

Mr Braiden (51), was involved in a heated row with a litter warden last week after he fed pigeons with seed at Hector Street in the city centre.

The warden, who was accompanied by two police officers, told Mr Braiden that he was committing an offence by feeding the birds.

Ironically, the bird-lover was feeding the pigeons just a few yards from where his pal was mown down by car thief Stephen O'Hagan.

And in the week that O'Hagan was due to be jailed for a catalogue of motoring offences, Mr Braiden can't believe that he could also end up in court.

The Belfastman has refused to pay the fine - and has vowed to go to jail if necessary.

He said: "I love all kinds of animals - including pigeons.

"I can't believe the council wants to fine me for feeding the birds.

"But I am taking a firm stand on this. There's no way I'm going to pay this fine.

"I will go to court and, if I have to, go to prison."

He added: "Litter in the dictionary is defined as dropping rubbish in a public place.

"But I wasn't dropping anything in a public place - it was on private property.

"I can't even see how they think I'm dumping rubbish, because as soon as the seed was dropped on the ground, the pigeons had gobbled it up in a matter of minutes.

"I don't know why they are taking this action against me - the whole thing is crazy."

Jim Ferguson, operations manager for the council's street cleansing department, defended the action.

He said: "The litter warden observed Mr Braiden on numerous occasions feeding pigeons with corn seed.

"He was warned, but continued to feed the pigeons - even though we told him it was an offence under the 1994 Litter Act.

"Corn seed attract rats and, if everybody in Belfast fed pigeons with corn seed, rats would be running riot everywhere.

"Mr Braiden will receive a £50 fine and, if he doesn't pay it, he will have his day in court."

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