Troubles victims’ anger at latest IRA commemorations

IRA Commemoration Parade through Castlederg village in 2013.
IRA Commemoration Parade through Castlederg village in 2013.

A victims group in Co Tyrone has appealed for republicans to recognise the hurt caused by the “glorification” of terrorism.

In the wake of a PPS decision this week not to charge anyone with alleged breaches of a Parades Commission determination at an IRA commemoration last August, Derg Valley Victims Voice (DVVV) said two rallies held last night sent the wrong message to a new generation.

Last night’s events commemorated IRA man James Joseph ‘Josie’ Connolly who was attaching an under-car booby trap to the van of a work colleague – an RUC Reservist – when it exploded prematurely in 1989.

One of the rallies was a Sinn Fein-backed gathering at the Hillview Park memorial in Castlederg to mark the 25th anniversary of Connolly’s death.

The other was organised by the Connolly family to take place at the dead man’s graveside in Aghyaran.

A spokesman for DVVV said: “Whenever members of our group were told there would be no prosecutions relating to the 11th August parade, anger did come into it but there was hurt as well. The danger with what is going on is that Sinn Fein is trying to normalise acts of terrorism, and legitimise those acts of terrorism, and you have young folk growing up today who are led to believe that what happened in the 70s and 80s was acceptable – this is about glorifying acts of terrorism.”

DUP MLA for West Tyrone Tom Buchanan said the decision not to pursue prosecutions over the August 11 parade in Castlederg “flies in the face of all logic”.

A spokeswoman for the PPS said there was “insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of convictions”.

According to a report in yesterday’s Irish News, Kevin Connolly, the brother of Josie Connolly, had called on Sinn Fein to cancel last night’s Castlederg memorial event.

Mr Connolly said he had contacted a member of the party and told him the family would be “offended” if an event was organised against their wishes.