Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness in clash over IRA tribute parade

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson disagree over the Sinn Fein-backed parade
Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson disagree over the Sinn Fein-backed parade

Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers are at loggerheads over a contentious republican parade to mark the deaths of IRA terrorists.

Peter Robinson hit out at the decision to hold the annual Tyrone Volunteers Day parade in Castlederg next week to mark the anniversary of the deaths of two IRA men who blew themselves up with their own bomb.

He questioned the decision to host the event in the town the bombers had been targeting, rather than where they died.

The parade has sparked a huge political row between Sinn Fein and the DUP, with unionist politicians describing the event as "obnoxious" and a "parade of shame".

Sinn Fein attempted to ease tensions around the event by re-routing the parade away from the Co Tyrone town's cenotaph and a Methodist Church. But DUP leader Mr Robinson yesterday called for the demonstration to be scrapped.

He said: "If you're going to have a commemoration at all, and I think it's inappropriate to have it at all, you would have it at the place where they blew themselves up rather than at the target town. That is totally insensitive."

IRA men Seamus Harvey and Gerard McGlynn were killed 40 years ago in Co Donegal as they transported a bomb which was destined for a police station.

Mr Robinson added: "I think very little change has been made.

"Let's recognise first of all that the principal purpose is to glorify two individuals who sought to bomb Castlederg but blew themselves up well away from Castlederg." Mr McGuinness said Sinn Fein had gone to great lengths to reach a compromise over the event, at which his party colleague Gerry Kelly will be the main speaker.

He added: "The parade which is about to take place is a parade that is totally and absolutely confined to the nationalist and republican areas of the town, and it doesn't impinge on the unionist communities.

"I think that people should be prepared to accept that great efforts have been made to try and get a compromise."

The Parades Commission is expected to issue its determination today ahead of the event on August 11.

BACKGROUND

The Parades Commission is expected to announce its determination on the Castlederg rally later today.

Twelve bands are due to take part in the parade, with 500 participants and the same number of supporters listed on the notification to the Parades Commission.

A protest against the parade by Derg Valley Victims' Voice is due to be ruled on as well.

Both parades are listed to take place on August 11.

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