Political parties press Parades Commission over contentious IRA march

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Delegations from the DUP and Sinn Fein are both meeting with the Parades Commission today over a proposed republican march in Castlederg next month.

The Tyrone Volunteers Day event is planned to take place on Sunday August 11 to commemorate two IRA members killed in 1973 when the bomb they were transporting exploded.

This morning DUP MLAs Arlene Foster and Thomas Buchanan met the parading body.

They have said the parade is “obnoxious”.

“Twenty-eight innocent people were murdered by terrorists in the Castlederg area,” Mr Buchanan said.

“The innocent victims of Castlederg, many of whom have never received justice, should not be expected to accept PIRA terrorists being glorified and hailed as heroes.

“I have written to the Chief Constable asking him to recognise the toxic impact this event will have on community relations within the area. I look forward to his reply.”

This afternoon, Sinn Fein will lead a delegation to meet with the Parades Commission over the same parade, led by West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has released details of a letter that he has written to Parades Commission chief Peter Osbourne urging him to ban the parade.

In the letter Mr Nesbitt writes: “This proposed Parade will commemorate the deaths of two individuals who were intent on achieving terrorist murder, but who died at their own hands: the facts are not in dispute. The issue is whether it is right for you, the Parades Commission, to do anything, by commission or omission that offers any endorsement, real or perceived, of terrorist activity.

“Sinn Fein’s website for the Castlederg area states the proposed Parade is “Tyrone Volunteers Day”, a clear reference to the two men in question having been active members of the terrorist, and proscribed, organisation, the Provisional IRA.

“The web further states: Tyrone Volunteers Day .... remembers the 56 Volunteers of the IRA’s Tyrone Brigade and three Sinn Féin activists .... who laid down their lives during the most recent phase of the struggle for Irish freedom.”

Mr Nesbitt goes on to write: “It is a well recorded fact that the current leadership of Irish Republicanism, including Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, justified the terrorism of the PIRA by claiming the “conditions” of the time justified their violent reaction. The Ulster Unionist Party disagrees; we argue those conditions did not and indeed never do exist. Ours is an absolute position regarding terrorism, Sinn Fein’s is not, and the great difficulty is that once you take the sort of qualified position adopted by Sinn Fein, you then open the door to a debate as to whether those “conditions” no longer exist, as Sinn Fein argue, or whether they still exist, as is argued by the so-called dissident republicans who remain wedded to terrorism and were responsible for another event that will be commemorated in August, the Omagh Bombing.”

He concluded his letter by writing: “I urge the Commission not to do or say anything regarding the proposed Castlederg Parade that will be interpreted as endorsing past terrorism, as that will not only be an affront to the great majority of people in Northern Ireland, but also give succour to those engaged in contemporaneous terrorism.”

Victims group Derg Valley Victims Voice are planning to hold a protest at the parade.

Ulster Unionist Castlederg councillor Derek Hussey said the parade proposal has provoked a reaction in the area like he has never seen before.




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