Feud fears after Ryan's grave is defaced
EXTRA armed garda units were on duty last night amid concerns of confrontations between associates of the murdered 'republican' figure Alan Ryan and criminals who painted the words 'Rat Scum' on his gravestone.
Ryan's family had to clean the gravestone prior to yesterday's march and ceremony to mark the first anniversary of his murder.
Gardai had already been on alert and extra armed units were on patrol in north Dublin on Friday night.
Around 200 people took part in the half-mile march from Ryan's house in Clongriffin to Balgriffin Cemetery, a big drop on the 2,000 people who attended his funeral and burial last year.
A heavy garda presence was in place yesterday with uniformed gardai standing in ranks around the grave to prevent any illegal paramilitary activity.
Sixteen men and women in paramilitary uniform led the demonstration, responding to shouted orders in Irish. However, unlike last year, there was none of the more sinister displays of men and women in combat uniform with masks. Prior to Ryan's funeral last year, shots were also fired over his coffin at his home.
Gardai discovered the defaced gravestone when they arrived early yesterday morning, in order to prevent any attempt to fire shots over the grave, prior to the demonstration. Gardai informed Ryan's family, who arrived shortly after 10am with cleaning materials and scrubbed the stone clean.
Three republican flute bands, one from Parkhead in Glasgow, took part in the march, along with around 40 men dressed in white shirts and black trousers.
Ryan's brother, Dermot, veteran republican Val Lynch, Ryan's friend Paul Stewart, who was with him when he was shot, and Francie Mackey from Co Tyrone spoke at the graveside. They all described Ryan in glowing terms as a dedicated community activist, and "true" republican who had made the "ultimate sacrifice" for his beliefs.
The speakers also all criticised "establishment lackeys" in the media who they said had vilified Ryan during his life and after. The speakers were similarly critical of the Garda Siochana, using the terms "corrupt" and "the reincarnation of the RUC".
An attempt was made to murder one of Ryan's close associates in north Dublin in August. Ryan's brother, Dermot, referred to "dirty people who have been exposed for using the good name of Irish republicanism for their criminal gain".
Gardai mounted a major operation with close policing of the entire event and with over 300 officers on duty, including armed members of the Special Detective Unit, the Public Order Unit, four gardai on horseback and members of the Dog Handling Unit.