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DUP slams policing of paramilitary funerals

By David Young

Published 06/11/2015

Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig
Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig
Masked men firing shots in tribute to McGlinchey
Declan McGlinchey

The DUP has hit out at how paramilitary funerals are policed after masked gunmen put on a show of strength following the death of republican Declan McGlinchey.

"The PSNI really need to get their act together," Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig said.

Guns were brought out by men in paramilitary gear after the death of Mr McGlinchey (39), son of notorious INLA leader Dominic McGlinchey.

Mr McGlinchey died from a heart attack on Sunday and was buried on Wednesday in Bellaghy.

Speaking last night to the Belfast Telegraph, Policing Board member Mr Craig said the PSNI needed to learn lessons.

"This was not a one-off - this is continually happening.

"I was specifically told that the police had no specific intelligence which pointed towards a paramilitary display at the funeral, yet here we are again witnessing a paramilitary display.

"There is clearly something wrong with their intelligence, or they are being misled around a lot of this activity.

"It's not unreasonable to expect, at the funeral of a former paramilitary, some form of paramilitary display."

Mr Craig claimed the PSNI had planned to send a helicopter to monitor the McGlinchey funeral and gather photographic evidence of any criminal activity and the people involved, but fog prevented the helicopter from taking off.

"It was deeply frustrating. In fairness, I think the PSNI were as frustrated as I was about that," he said.

"I don't want to see heavy-handed tactics used which would inflame the situation, but I do want to see evidence gathered and people prosecuted for blatantly ignoring the law on these issues."

The MLA added: "I was sceptical about the police assurances that there would be no paramilitary display, and my scepticism has been proved correct.

"With the precedent of paramilitary displays at other republican funerals - and questions being raised even before this funeral - it is now for the police to demonstrate their ability to compile a case against those involved in the illegal activity at this event."

Mr Craig said the issue would be addressed at the next meeting of the Policing Board.

Mid Ulster MLA Ian McCrea expressed outrage at the presence of children at the funeral.

"I was appalled to see the pictures showing schoolchildren and young people watching on while a paramilitary display was conducted in front of them," he said.

"The response of the PSNI at these incidents has been somewhat muted.

"This stands in sharp contrast to the swift reaction to other much less serious offences in recent years.

"People can well recall when a very strident approach was evident in recent times, with some people being arrested and prosecuted not so much for what they did in public, but what they said online."

In July, unionists were furious after dozens of republicans marched unimpeded through the streets of Londonderry for the funeral of Peggy O'Hara, mother of INLA hunger striker Patsy O'Hara. Shots were also fired over her coffin.

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