PSNI urged to act over republican funeral displays

Michael Barr was murdered in Dublin pub the Sunset House last month
Michael Barr was murdered in Dublin pub the Sunset House last month

There have been calls for swift action by the PSNI over anyone engaging in republican displays linked to a paramilitary’s funeral.

Large numbers of black flags have been erected in Strabane following the shooting of Co Tyrone man Michael Barr in Dublin on Monday, April 25.

His funeral is to take place on Thursday, beginning at 9.15am at his father’s house in Clady, Co Tyrone, and proceeding to St Mary’s in Strabane for a 10am mass.

A newspaper report on Wednesday cited “concerns” there could be a dissident “show of strength” around the funeral.

The Facebook page of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) describes him as an “IRA volunteer” and former inmate of Portlaoise, and called on all IRPWA members to attend.

DUP Alderman Allan Bresland, of the Sperrin district of Derry City and Strabane District Council, said the array of black flags which have sprung up since he was shot dead in Dublin’s Sunset House pub was”not great publicity for Strabane”.

He added: “If there is a display of force, I would hope the police would move in and arrest every one of them.

“That’s my feelings about it ... Because I think the other side of the house gets off far too light.”

It was put to him that the PSNI often monitor such situations and then make arrests later, to which he said: “Doing that’s alright, providing they follow up on it.”

Londonderry-based dissident councillor Gary Donnelly would not comment when asked if he plans to attend, or when asked about whether he would discourage any republican displays, saying only that “there’s a family grieving here”.

Strabane-based councillor Paul Gallagher said that he would not be attending.

Mr Gallagher also described himself as a “dissident”, stressing that he does not support violence.

However, when asked about this stance, he also said he did not condemn violence either.

“Condemnation has never brought us anywhere,” he said.

Asked if he would condemn Mr Barr’s killing, for example, he said he “would not be in a position to comment”, adding that there was a lot of “murky water” around the case.

It has been speculated that Mr Barr’s murder may be part of an ongoing gangland feud in Dublin, sparked by the extraordinary murder of gangster David Byrne in the Regency Hotel, north Dublin, on February 5.

One newspaper noted that there had been a heavy Garda presence on the Donegal side of the border near Strabane on Tuesday as his coffin was brought back, but Garda said they could not confirm such “operational” details.