An IRA commemoration event in Dunloy yesterday breached Parades Commission guidelines by featuring paramilitary-style uniforms and trappings, it is reported.
Yesterday’s parade was in memory of IRA members Declan Martin and Henry Hogan, who died after ambushing undercover British soldiers in Dunloy in 1984.
Unionists had hit out at the decision to allow the annual parade without restrictions, despite the organisers having been warned over paramilitary content in previous years.
The application was for a parade to run from 2pm to 5pm involving eight bands, 500 participants and 300 spectators.
Last night TUV leader Jim Allister said there were significant paramilitary trappings at the event, contrary to the Parades Commission code of conduct.
“Once more in Dunloy there were paramilitary-style uniforms and trappings on display, along with an apparent absence of police,” he said.
“The partiality and weakness of the Parades Commission in failing to punish such displays year on year guaranteed that they would proceed with the immunity which has now become customary.
“What a contrast with how the commission deals with loyalist parades, when even the music is censured, but no such restraint is ever applied to republicans. Little wonder unionists feel alienated in their own land.”
However, Sinn Fein hit back at his comments.
“Today was a dignified commemoration to remember two much valued and loved members of the local community who lost their lives in the fight for Irish freedom,” a spokesman said.
Asked about paramilitary trappings, he declined to make any further comment.
In a letter on its website addressed to organisers of the parade, the Parades Commission had said: “As you are aware, the commission has written to you on several occasions in the past about reported breaches of conduct which have taken place at the parade...”
It said that “breaches were again reported to the commission at last year’s (2013) parade”.
It added: “In the absence of any response, and in light of the continuing reported breaches of the code of conduct which have taken place at the parade, the commission can only take the view that you do not intend to address the concerns it has raised.”
The year before, another letter had been sent about weaponry depicted on a bass drum. The same issue had been reported a year earlier, with the commission warning organisers the image may breach the Terrorism Act.