MP slams PSNI over ‘IRA parade’

An advert for the commemoration in Portadown
An advert for the commemoration in Portadown

The MP for Upper Bann has challenged police over their absence from what he said was an IRA parade in Portadown.

Advance publicity material for the wreath-laying ceremony in honour of ‘volunteer Julie Dougan’ showed three men in berets firing a volley of shots.

DUP MP David Simpson said that since Tuesday evening’s republican commemoration in the grounds of St John’s Chapel, Portadown, he was “disappointed with the absence of a police presence in the locality at the time”.

He added: “Republicanism continues to put a severe threat on the lives of people and this particular commemoration was set up to glorify their terrorist campaign that murdered approximately 2,000 innocent people during the Troubles.

“I ask the PSNI to clarify their reasoning for not having any degree of surveillance at the ceremony.”

The local businessman hit out at what he said was “a laissez-faire attitude from the PSNI”.

He accused police of “a double standards mind-set which has recently penned unionists in and blocked them from marching a short distance to hold a religious ceremony and dedicate an arch in memory of a deceased Orangeman”.

The MP was referring to a recent U-turn by the Parades Commission in which it initially allowed but later forbade Orangemen from walking a short distance up the traditionally unionist end of the Garvaghy Road to hold a ceremony at one of their own arches,

The DUP had accused the Parades Commission of performing an “outrageous U-turn” after it reversed a decision that would have allowed the parade to walk a short distance along the lower end of road, along which junior Orange parades walk every year.

The Parkmount Arch Committee in Portadown had applied to have the parade to their own arch, in honour of a recently deceased member of their lodge.

Mr Simpson said: “Whilst there should be no comparison made between a republican commemoration and an Orange parade, this weekend I remain hopeful that our Orange Brethren would be able to exercise their civil and religious liberties without the fear of obstruction.”

It is understood that the republican event on Tuesday at no time ventured onto a public road.

It is also understood that no paramilitary regalia was in evidence.

A PSNI spokesman said they were aware of an event in the Garvaghy Road area of Portadown on Tuesday night.

“The event passed off without incident,” he added,