Paramilitary uniforms mark Easter Rising parade

Dissident republicans parade in Coalisland
Dissident republicans parade in Coalisland

Fifty people in paramilitary-style uniforms led a dissident republican parade past the police station in Coalisland today.

Organisers said some 2000 people took part in the event.

The parade - promoted in advance under the name ‘Unfinished revolution’ - was explicitly warned by the Parades Commission not to use paramilitary uniforms, a warning which was blatantly ignored by participants.

The Parades Commission and PSNI did not offer any comment tonight om the matter.

Meanwhile, unionists have said they will be contacting the police after masked republicans took part in an Easter parade in Lurgan.

It was reported that a seven-strong colour party - carrying republican flags and wearing masks - were followed from Kilwilkie estate to St Colman’s Cemetery by around 20 supporters as a police helicopter hovered above the Republican Sinn Fein parade on Saturday.

Lurgan DUP councillor Carla Lockhart said: “First Minister Arlene Foster has said that dissident republicans will use the events of Easter 1916 to legitimise their warped actions in 2016. This is further proof that she was right. Violence was always wrong.

“I will be speaking with local police about this incident but it’s a reminder to police throughout Northern Ireland that events relating to the Easter rebellion this weekend should be monitored. It is vital that the police have adequate evidence gathering at these events to secure prosecutions.”

UUP councillor Colin McCusker said: “I was well aware that this was more than likely to happen. If I knew, the PSNI knew too. I would like to know what preventative measures, if any, were taken to stop this happening.”

In recent weeks it has been claimed that the Apprentice Boys holding their annual Easter Monday demonstration - properly notified under law - in Lurgan this year will stretch police resources.

“But an unnotified parade which was basically a display of terrorist thuggery goes unpunished,” he said.

TUV Upper Bann Assembly candidate Roy Ferguson said: “Not for the first time, republicans glorifying terrorism seem to have a different rule applied to them to that applied to the Loyal Orders.

“If indeed the PSNI tried to arrest people at the parade and failed to do so, questions need to be asked about the strength of the PSNI presence at the parade.”

Police Superintendent Paul Reid said: “Police are aware of a small unnotified parade which took place in the Kilwilkie area of Lurgan on Saturday afternoon.”

An investigation is underway and enquiries are ongoing, he added.

Meanwhile, North Down DUP MLA Peter Weir accused Sinn Fein Councillor Niall O’Donnghaile of placing a memorial to Roger Casement at the German U-boat gun beside the war memorial in Ward Park at Bangor on Sunday.

“This is a disgraceful and childish stunt of the worst kind, and shows how hollow the speech of his party leader is today when he talks about healing divisions,” Mr Weir said. “The stunt which clearly took place today was then posted on Cllr O’Donnghaile’s Facebook page with comments that it was in memory of Roger Casement.

“I am glad to say that the memorial notice was quickly removed, but it should never have been there in the first place. It was a provocative act which ran the risk of stirring up tension. It is deeply disrespectful to those who payed the supreme sacrifice named on the adjacent war memorial.

“I call upon Councillor O’Donnghaile to apologise and for Sinn Fein to condemn and disassociate themselves from this stunt.”