Trouble at dissident Easter Rising event in Londonderry

A colour party from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement parades to Creggan Cemetery in Londonderry.
A colour party from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement parades to Creggan Cemetery in Londonderry.

About 150 people have taken part in a dissident republican rally in Londonderry to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

The annual event at the city cemetery organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement followed similar hard-line republican demonstrations in north Belfast, Lurgan in Co Armagh and Coalisland in Co Tyrone over recent days.

A number of bricks and one petrol bomb, which failed to explode, were hurled at police Land Rovers at the start of the event in Londonderry.

At the outset, police vehicles had driven past the crowd displaying large signs warning the march from the Creggan area to the cemetery was unlawful as it had not received the necessary permissions from the Parades Commission.

A number of men in paramilitary style-clothing led the parade, accompanied by a band.

Inside the cemetery, a message from dissident prisoners held inside Maghaberry jail was among the statements read out to the crowd.

While many Easter Rising parades organised by the mainstream republican movement in Northern Ireland proceeded with the necessary permissions, police have faced criticism for allowing the unlawful events to take place.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said officers were investigating suspected breaches of parading laws and said any evidence would be presented to prosecutors.

“In policing all events over the Easter weekend, our over-riding desire is to ensure that commemorative occasions, parades and protests pass off lawfully and peacefully,” he said.

“Our focus is on keeping communities safe and our job, with a few notable exceptions, has been made that much easier because of the responsible attitude of all parties concerned.”

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster said she had raised “deep concerns” with the police about the sight of masked men at some of the Easter Rising events.

“I want to see these people behind bars,” the Democratic Unionist leader tweeted.

“No place for masked men in Northern Ireland. Police assure me that evidence has been gathered.”