Terror victims have hit out at plans for 10,000 republicans to converge on a Fermanagh village to celebrate the legacy of the IRA hunger strikers.
Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew announced today that the National Hungerstrike commemoration will be held in Derrylin on the 3rd August.
“I am proud that Fermanagh has been selected to stage the National Hungerstrike Commemoration given the fact that Bobby Sands was elected to represent this constituency in 1981,” she said.
“The annual commemoration is not only a dignified parade to honour Irish Hungerstrikers but a series of events including lectures, displays and youth events that allow people to remember the sacrifice made by these men.
“The commemoration attracts up to 10,000 people so there is also an economic benefit to the local businesses as many people travel to the area.
“The organising committee is already working with the local community to minimise any disruption during the parade and ensure that the event is successful.
“The Hungerstrike was a pivotal moment in Irish history and it is right and fitting that it has now come to Fermanagh and I would appeal to local people to come out and support the event.”
However Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation, which provides support to “innocent victims and survivors of terrorism” throughout County Fermanagh, described the plans as “a cruel and shameful proposal which will re-awaken deep hurt within those who have had loved ones murdered within the Village and surrounding areas”.
Spokesman Kenny Donaldson said: “Today we have spoken to a number of the families affected and their feelings range from anger, numbness and sheer disbelief. Each has said that they feel that they have been taken back to the day when their loved one(s) were murdered.
“Those terrorists and their sponsoring organisations who committed murder and those who give political voice and justification for those deeds must reflect on what they’re doing to victims and survivors across Northern Ireland. This is but the latest attempt being made to glorify and romanticise terrorism in a bid to decriminalise its’ roots and effects - so that such events and practises become firmly rooted within the ‘mainstream’ of our Society. In the days and weeks which lie ahead we will be working with the families affected to try and support them as best we can.
“The glorification of terrorism is a toxic disease which is endemic within our Society. Is the political system serious about eradicating glorification of terrorism practises or will the sum total of its’ efforts continue to be chest beating condemnations?”
The Parades Commission confirmed that it received notification from the parade organiser in relation to a parade on 3rd August in Derrylin.
“Based on the information it received, the Commission did not place any conditions on the parade,” a spokeswoman said, “However, all parades are covered by the Commission’s Code of Conduct which sets out clear guidance to be observed by participants to ensure that those participating in public processions do so legally and peacefully while at the same time minimizing disruption, annoyance or offence to those who work or live on or near the route along which they pass.”