Wednesday 23 October 2019

Police to investigate breaches of parade rules at dissident republican march in Newry

Saoradh is linked to the New IRA, an amalgam of armed groups opposed to the peace process

A colour party at the start of a parade in Newry, Co Down. The political party Saoradh had organised the parade to commemorate hunger strikes. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A colour party at the start of a parade in Newry, Co Down. The political party Saoradh had organised the parade to commemorate hunger strikes. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Aine McMahon

Police have launched an investigation after a dissident republican march in Newry breached parade restrictions.

Saoradh held a march to commemorate hunger strikers in Newry Co Down on Saturday after it was given the  go-ahead by the Parades Commission to abide by its strict conditions.

Police have identified Saoradh – liberation in Irish – as the policing wing of the new IRA, who have been blamed for shooting journalist Lyra McKee on April 18.

The murder has been widely condemned across the political spectrum, criticism fuelled by a statement released by the group apologising to the family of Ms McKee.

PSNI officers watch as a colour party takes part in a parade in Newry, Co Down. The political party Saoradh had organised the parade to commemorate hunger strikes. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
PSNI officers watch as a colour party takes part in a parade in Newry, Co Down. The political party Saoradh had organised the parade to commemorate hunger strikes. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The gunman was aiming at police during disturbances in the Creggan in Co Derry when he hit the 29-year-old, who died in Altnagelvin Hospital in the city.

The parade began at Kilmorey street and made its way through the city to Raymond McCreesh Park, where a rally was held to commemorate the IRA and INLA members who took part in hunger strikes.

Belfast dissident republican and Saoradh national executive member Dee Fennell  said it was appropriate to end the march on the street named after IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh.

He added: “No doubt this commemoration will become a mainstay in the republican calendar for years to come. It is particularity fitting that today's proceedings finished here in Raymond McCreesh Park.

“I want to commend the local people who faced ongoing intimidation and vilification for ensuring this park remains named after a gallant IRA volunteer and H Block martyr.”

Several hundred participants took part in the march, with some wearing paramilitary style garb.

People holding placards with pictures and the names of hunger strikers at a parade in Newry, Co Down. The political party Saoradh had organised the parade to commemorate hunger strikes. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
People holding placards with pictures and the names of hunger strikers at a parade in Newry, Co Down. The political party Saoradh had organised the parade to commemorate hunger strikes. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Police officers following the parade could be heard telling the marchers: “This parade breaches parade commission determination and you are now liable for prosecution.”

The Parade Commission’s code of conduct prohibits the display of all references, insignia, flags or emblems relating to any proscribed organisation and the wearing of paramilitary-style clothing is also banned.

The code of conduct states participants “must act with due regard for the rights, traditions and feelings of others, and must refrain from using words, or behaviour, which could reasonably be perceived as being sectarian, provocative or threatening”.

PSNI chief inspector Nigel Henry said the parade breached the Parades Commission determinations on a number of occasions, despite numerous verbal warnings.

“The aim of the policing operation today was to keep people safe and facilitate the parade in line with the law. A full evidence gathering operation was in place and an investigation into the breaches has commenced,” he said.

Saoradh is linked to the New IRA, an amalgam of armed groups opposed to the peace process.

The New IRA has been responsible for multiple murder bids against members of security forces.

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