Lurgan dissident march: 81 reported to PPS after 'un-notified parade'
The PSNI has reported 81 people to the PPS for a variety of offences related to an illegal dissident republican parade held in Lurgan in May this year.
The parade was held to mark the opening of a 1916 centenary garden in memory of republicans who had died going back as far as local man Edward Costello, who was killed in the Easter Rising.
There was a large security presence in Kilwilkie as a group of uniformed and masked men paraded.
Several announcements made by police regarding illegal public processions were ignored and the masked colour party marched through the area.
Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said in a statement on Monday: "You may recall the significant press coverage in relation to the un-notified parade in Lurgan on the 28th May 2016, where a number of participants wore paramilitary style uniforms.
"We promised there would be a robust and thorough investigation and we have been working very hard gathering evidence for prosecutions. This was a complex case and our commitment to it has been immense.
"I am pleased to announce that we have concluded the investigation and have reported 81 people to the PPS for a variety of offences. The offences include participating in an unnotified parade as well offences relating to paramilitary style uniforms under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
"This was one of the largest investigations of its kind in this area and the number of people reported reflects the tenacious and professional investigation that followed the incident.
"The PSNI in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District want to work with communities so they can conduct events in a way that is peaceful and lawful, however we will thoroughly investigate instances where it is alleged the law has been broken."
Ulster Unionist justice spokesperson and MLA Doug Beattie welcomed the PSNI announcement.
He said: "It is clear the PSNI have been thorough and proactive in investigating what can only be described as an illegal republican paramilitary parade, complete with colour party in Lurgan on the 28 May 2016.
"The news that they have reported 81 individuals to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for offences including participating in an un-notified parade as well as wearing of paramilitary uniforms contravening section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000, is most welcome.
"The images - which were screened across the UK - of individuals including children in paramilitary clothing with their faces covered, did nothing to promote Northern Ireland and Upper Bann as a place to visit.
"It is now up to civic society to take a lead in the education of our young people to stop them joining such parades and for society as a whole to say these types of parades are not acceptable. The expression of an individual’s culture is a right that must be respected, but this went well beyond what any reasonable person would call an expression of culture or identity.
"The PSNI have worked hard to bring these cases to the PPS and they must be commended for their actions."