Robust police action promised after illegal republican Easter parade

Republicans take part in an Easter commemoration parade in Lurgan, Co Armagh, organised by Republic Sinn Fein.''Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Republicans take part in an Easter commemoration parade in Lurgan, Co Armagh, organised by Republic Sinn Fein.''Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Police have promised a “robust” investigation into an illegal dissident republican parade in Lurgan.

A small number of people wearing military garb and sunglasses with scarves partially covering their faces walked through the Kilwilkie estate in Lurgan on Saturday.

As in previous years, the event to commemorate the Easter Rising had not secured the required permission from the Parades Commission.

PSNI Chief Inspector Bernard O’Connor said: “Organisers of parades are required to give formal notification of their intentions.

“Warnings were given to participants and an evidence-gathering operation was in place.

“Police take the issue of illegal parades and protests very seriously and in each incident, seek to protect the public, preserve public order and gather evidence with a view to prosecuting anyone who breaks the law.

“A robust investigation is now under way.”

Mr O’Connor added: “As with all inquiries, the investigation will be conducted thoroughly and all appropriate evidence considered in an effort to bring law breakers before the courts.”

Ulster Unionist Assembly member Doug Beattie said the participants were flouting the law.

“This dissident republican ‘parade’ takes place year after year, men and women dressed in paramilitary garb, with no permission from anyone,” he said.

“They are sticking two fingers up at the law abiding majority in Lurgan and wider society.

“Whilst I appreciate the PSNI may not want to give these people the oxygen of publicity by taking direct action on the day, it is important that decisive action is seen to be taken in the hours and days ahead.

“We need to see people being brought before the courts, held accountable and sentenced.”

During the parade, police were stationed close by in a Land Rover marked with a sign that read: “Attention! Attention! No notice of this public procession / meeting has been given to a member of the Police Service in accordance with the Public Procession (NI) Act 1998. You are warned that any person organising or taking part in the procession/meeting is LIABLE TO PROSECUTION”.

Des Dalton, president of Republican Sinn Fein, spoke at a service in the Kilwilkie estate. A wreath-laying ceremony also took place at the republican plot at St Colman’s Cemetery.

Upper Bann DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said she would be awaiting the convictions of those who took part in the illegal parade.

She said: “We have witnessed another illegal, un-notified parade in Lurgan by Republican SF.

“It is totally unacceptable behavior to walk through the streets with masked faces to commemorate terrorism.

“I have been speaking with the PSNI who have been evidence gathering today and I await the convictions in due course.”

She added: “We live in the 21st century. This is unacceptable and these individuals need to face the rigours of the law for their illegal, irresponsible behaviour.”