Video emerges of Easter 'show of strength' by Continuity IRA
DIEHARD republicans brought guns back onto the streets of Northern Ireland on Saturday, firing shots during a “sinister show of strength” in an Armagh cemetery.
The paramilitaries involved belong to the Continuity IRA – the hardline anti-peace process gang behind the terror event at St Colman’s Cemetery in Lurgan.
In 2009 the organisation murdered PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll just three miles away in Craigavon.
On Saturday around a dozen masked Continuity IRA members carrying flags led a republican flute band on a procession around the graveyard and onto the North Circular Road.
After a number of speeches a young gunman, who had his face covered, emerged from a colour party and fired three shots into the air.
Clearly nervous, he initially forgot to take the safety catch off the weapon and twice clicked the trigger without anything happening.
After managing to get the gun to fire he ran off and clambered through a hedge at the side of the cemetery.
Now footage obtained by Channel 4 purports to show the incident. The video was posted online by Republican Sinn Féin, the republican splinter group that left Sinn Féin in 1986.
A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said no reports had been received of the incident.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson condemned the display and questioned why police were not in the area despite having prior knowledge of the Continuity IRA parade.
He told Sunday Life: “I’m very concerned that guns were produced and that shots were fired.
“Police need to investigate who organised and took part in this sinister show of strength.
“Given that there was no distinguishable police presence this raises questions as to who made this decision and why.”
In previous years when masked Continuity IRA members have descended on St Colman’s Cemetery for Easter Rising commemorations a PSNI helicopter has hovered overhead.
But yesterday there was absolutely no sign of the police, a fact not lost on dissident supporters in the graveyard who commented on the lack of a security force presence.
Moments earlier they listened while a Continuity IRA spokesman said: “We salute our POWs and applaud their resolution in the face of the ongoing attempts of the British government, and the puppet Stormont regime, to break their spirit and criminalise their cause.
“There can be no let up in the resistance to British rule.”
Although small the Continuity IRA – which has its stronghold in Lurgan’s Kilwilkie estate – can be deadly.