Monday 16 September 2019

Kevin Doyle: 'Banning these bravado demos is more easily said than done'


The Colour Party outside the GPO at the Saoradh Easter Commemoration in Dublin.
Photo: Tony Gavin 20/4/2019
The Colour Party outside the GPO at the Saoradh Easter Commemoration in Dublin. Photo: Tony Gavin 20/4/2019
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Two more parades featuring anti-State activists took place outside the GPO in Dublin yesterday.

Despite all the outrage, public backlash and political condemnation of a Saoradh demonstration, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) brazenly took to the streets.

Dressed in cheap imitation army fatigues with berets and sunglasses, colour parties from both groups cut through shoppers on Henry Street before lining up at the base of The Spire.

A pamphlet handed out to bemused tourists by RSF included a photograph of the 'England Get Out of Ireland' banner Mary Lou McDonald endorsed on her St Patrick's Day trip to New York.

And that is why Ms McDonald was so heavily criticised for endorsing that sort of rhetoric at a delicate time in Anglo-Irish relations. But the select bunch of bravados on O'Connell Street yesterday have no time for the Sinn Féin leader.

Somehow they see her supporters as part of the conspiracy to maintain British rule over the six counties. In fact they believe all "Free State parties" are the same.

"Every vote for one of them is a vote for prolonged British rule in Ireland and recognises the enemies' right to control six of our counties," one of the leaders told the small gathering.

He attacked the media and described the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as "corrupt, rotten, illegal states running this country for their own and Britain's interest".

A woman expressed solidarity with prisoners in Portlaoise and Maghaberry, which both house convicted IRA criminals.

A lone piper played a lament and they mumbled the national anthem before stomping back down Henry Street.

Gardaí facilitated their march which saw traffic in the city centre briefly interrupted.

This isn't the first time RSF and other similar groups have held GPO demonstrations at Easter - but until now we've always turned a blind eye.

They are from a different era and not worth giving the attention.

However, the resurfacing of dissident activities on this island means we can no longer assume they are harmless.

The message sent out from such marches is the peace we enjoy is not enough.

"The State we are living in today is not what was envisaged in 1916," the gathering was told yesterday.

That may be true - but it's immeasurably better than the Ireland of the 1970s. And it exists at the behest of the millions who voted for the Good Friday Agreement.

A string of ministers have said they want to see a clampdown on fake military parades in the wake of the murder of Lyra McKee.

Balancing the right to free speech and freedom of assembly with a desire to prevent the glorification of the dissidents will be difficult.

But on this occasion the politicians will have the backing of a strong majority.

Irish Independent

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