Derrylin parade: Robinson appeal to cancel ‘obnoxious’ march

A previous hunger strike commemoration march in Dungiven in 2012
A previous hunger strike commemoration march in Dungiven in 2012

Peter Robinson has made an eleventh hour appeal for an “obnoxious” republican march in Co Fermanagh to be called off.

The First Minister was speaking ahead of Sunday’s hunger strike commemoration in Derrylin.

Parade organisers expect up to 10,000 people – including 27 bands – to take part in the event in honour of the 10 republican terrorists who died in the Maze prison protest in 1981.

The Parades Commission has stipulated that no flags, banners or symbols “relating to a proscribed organisation” shall be displayed, and that “musical instruments must not bear an inscription or mark of a proscribed organisation, or depict weaponry of any kind”.

However, Mr Robinson said the parade will still be “intimidating” and offensive to victims.

“The event planned by Sinn Fein in Derrylin should be cancelled. It will be intimidating for people in the locality as well as being offensive to victims who do not want to see people who were convicted of terrorist crimes, held up as some sort of role models,” he said.

“Given that these individuals were in prison for committing horrendous crimes, it takes a warped sense of morality to hold them up as examples for young people, as was the case at last year’s event.

“As parading is not a devolved matter, I have raised my concerns about this event with the Secretary of State. I am especially concerned that impressionable youngsters who did not live through the carnage of the Troubles will believe the lie that the likes of Bobby Sands or Francis Hughes were people they should look up to; they were not.”

The DUP leader added: “No civilised society idolises terrorists who skulked in hedgerows and ditches to murder in cold blood. I have already announced my desire to see stronger laws governing the glorification of terrorism.

“This is another example why we need such laws. If Sinn Fein has any respect for victims they will call this obnoxious event off.”

Victims’ groups in Fermanagh have been circulating a 30-minute video on social networking sites highlighting the “IRA’s campaign of genocide” in the county during the 1970s and 1980s.

The ‘Killing Fields’ film is a vintage BBC Spotlight programme.

It was broadcast just days after the IRA exploded a bomb on a school bus in Lisnaskea. The presenter described the attack as “only the latest incident in a concentrated IRA campaign” in Fermanagh.

He added: “Its target is primarily the security forces, but it’s led Protestants to believe it’s aimed at them and ultimately intended to drive them out of the county altogether.”

Ann Travers, who lost her sister Mary in an IRA gun attack in 1984, has been contacted by victims in Fermanagh, who are “deeply distraught” at the hunger strike commemoration.

Ms Travers said she also hoped that Sinn Fein would call off the event to avoid further trauma being inflicted on bereaved families.

“In my view, Sinn Fein have once more demonstrated that they lack the mindfulness and consideration needed when dealing with victims of IRA terrorism. They have no concept of the stress and re-trauma caused,” she added.

Announcing details of the Derrylin event, Michelle Gildernew said she was proud the event was coming to Fermanagh as “Bobby Sands was elected to represent this constituency in 1981”.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP added: “The annual commemoration is not only a dignified parade to honour Irish hunger strikers but a series of events including lectures, displays and youth events that allow people to remember the sacrifice made by thes