Victims’ disgust as IRA Castlederg parade cleared

A memorial to Tyrone IRA volunteers is unveiled in Castlederg.
A memorial to Tyrone IRA volunteers is unveiled in Castlederg.

A group representing terror victims in west Tyrone has expressed its disgust that IRA commemoration participants have escaped prosecution.

Last August republicans marched through Castlederg in honour of two terrorists who died when a bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely in 1973.

Opponents of the event had expected anyone identified as breaching Parades Commission determinations – including wearing paramilitary dress and displaying paramilitary symbols – to be prosecuted.

Derg Valley Victims Voice (DVVV) has said a “no prosecution” decision by the Public Prosecution Service has caused outrage among the many IRA victims from the area.

“The Parades Commission’s detailed ruling relating to August 11 was clear. It stated there were to be no undue stoppages when the parade had started, there were to be no paramilitary symbols displayed in any manner, and uniforms that could reasonably be perceived as belonging to a proscribed organisation were not to be worn,” a DVVV spokesman said.

“These were conditions that we believe were intended to prevent the glorification of terrorist acts taking place on streets that bore the brunt of a deliberate and sustained terrorist campaign.”

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly told those attending the Tyrone Volunteers Commemoration rally that the IRA pair’s “courage and their sacrifice” had “inspired others who took up their mantle and continued their struggle”.

The DVVV spokesman said: “We are unclear, despite correspondence with police and the PPS, why prosecutions have not been brought.

“Victims’ relatives are taking this stand because we have no desire to see terrorism of any origin normalised or commemorated in this country. Doing so sends the message to younger generations that it was acceptable to murder, maim and destroy in the pursuit of political or sectarian objectives.”

A Parades Commission spokeswoman said: “Investigations and prosecutions in relation to breaches are a matter for the PSNI and the PPS.”

A spokeswoman for the PPS said: “Following careful consideration of the police file, in this case a decision has been taken not to prosecute the two individuals reported as there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of convictions.”