Derrylin hunger strike parade: Thousands march to republican rally, as Sinn Fein say 'it was never our intention to offend'
Michelle Gildernew MP tells crowd Peter Robinson had 'sectarianised' the commemoration
Thousands of republicans have marched through the Co Fermanagh village of Derrylin in a controversial commemoration of the 1981 hunger strikers.
There was unionist anger and frustration from IRA victims' families in the run up to the huge parade on Sunday, which saw 27 bands and their supporters march along the main street of the village.
Six members of the security forces were killed by the IRA in the area during the Troubles, with First Minister Peter Robinson saying the march – organised by Sinn Fein – was obnoxious, intimidating and offensive.
Michelle Gildernew MP, who gave the keynote speech, said republicans acknowledged the ongoing pain of those "saddened, offended or angered" by the event, adding "that was never our intention".
She said Mr Robinson and other unionist leaders had "sought to sectarianise it" and then criticised how they had recently handled cross-party talks at Stormont.
"As unionism has created an axis to oppose the Good Friday Agreement, those who support it, including the governments, need to build a pro-Agreement axis," she said.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative told the crowd the day was a celebration of the courage of the ten H-Block hunger strikers - "noble, selfless and decent" role models for republicanism.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and deputy first Minister Martin McGuinness were present, as well as the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland, Ahmad Abdelrazer.
Palestinian flags had been waved by many during the rally and Mrs Gildernew said it sent a message "that the vast majority of the Irish people reject the aggression of Israel and support the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and justice and national rights".
Belfast Telegraph Digital