Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Parades Commission rules on controversial hunger strike march in Derrylin - IRA clothes and flags banned

Hunger striker Bobby Sands' coffin, flanked by an IRA colour party, leaving his mother's home in Twinbrook.
Hunger striker Bobby Sands' coffin, flanked by an IRA colour party, leaving his mother's home in Twinbrook.
Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott
Thomas Bullock and his wife Emily who were gunned down in their Derrylin home in 1972

The Parades Commission has ruled on a huge march to commemorate republican hunger strikers - banning any IRA clothes, flags, banners and symbols.

More than 10,000 people are set to take part in the contentious event in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh on Sunday.

It will mark the anniversaries of the deaths of 10 republican hunger strikers, including Bobby Sands.

Senior unionist Tom Elliott MLA has been scathing of the plans, saying “such vulgar triumphalism is like walking over the graves of the dead.”

The Parades Commission issued its determination on Thursday morning, placing the following conditions on the organisers and participants:

  • "No paramilitary-style clothing is to be worn at any time during the parade and flags, bannerettes and symbols relating to a proscribed organisation shall in no circumstances be displayed.
  • Musical instruments must not bear any inscription or mark of a proscribed organisation, or depict weaponry of any kind.

There have been calls for the parade to be called off, including from IRA victim Dianne Woods, whose aunt and uncle were murdered in 1981.

Thomas Bullock (53), an off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, and his wife Emily (50) were shot near Derrylin.

Dianne Woods pictured at Kinawley Parish Church, Derrylin, where Thomas Bullock (53), an off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, and his wife, Emily Bullock (50) are buried.  Thomas and Emily were shot and killed at their home at Aghalane, near Derrylin.
Dianne Woods pictured at Kinawley Parish Church, Derrylin, where Thomas Bullock (53), an off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, and his wife, Emily Bullock (50) are buried. Thomas and Emily were shot and killed at their home at Aghalane, near Derrylin.

"It makes me feel sick," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"There are no words to describe it. I feel my stomach turning at the minute. It's 42 years ago but it might as well be 42 days.

"It's devastated our family."

Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew has said she is proud the village had been selected for the national hunger strike commemoration,  "given the fact that Bobby Sands was elected to represent this constituency in 1981".

The Parades Commission said in its determination: "The Commission has received representation that the notification of this commemorative parade has caused offence and has led to a re-opening of painful and traumatic memories for individuals who suffered bereavement within the vicinity of Derrylin."

It added: "Whilst the Commission recognises that victims are opposed to this parade in its entirety, the Commission has communicated with them in respect of the organiser's assurances that the route does not directly pass the landmarks which were raised of being as special concern."

Further reading:

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