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Northern Ireland's Children's Commissioner concern at children's presence at Lurgan dissident republican parade

Published 02/06/2016

A child in a communion dress at the controversial parade in Lurgan
A child in a communion dress at the controversial parade in Lurgan

Northern Ireland's Children's Commissioner has voiced concern following the appearance of a young boy and girl at a dissident republican event in Lurgan.

Koulla Yiasouma also said she planed to ask the PSNI for assurances that they took the presence of children and young people into account in public events.

Her statement came after a number of politicians questioned the silence of lobby groups such as Amnesty International over the commemoration last Saturday, after which police made 12 arrests. A masked colour party included a boy who wore military-style fatigues, a beret and sunglasses and had his face covered with a scarf.

A girl in a Holy Communion dress was also on view standing beside the ranks of masked men, at the opening of a memorial garden to 1916 Easter Rising rebel Edward Costello.

Craigavon councillor Colin McCusker said on Tuesday: "If there is evidence to show that these children were forced to take part in this there probably is a role for Amnesty International but also for other authorities who are tasked with looking after our young ones. What about the Children's Commissioner? Is there a role for the Department of Education, or Health?"

Commissioner Yiasouma said: "As Commissioner for Children and Young People, my primary concern is the wellbeing and safety of children and young people. It is for all those involved - from parents to Government and relevant authorities - to ensure that children are not put in a position which could in any way compromise their safety.

"Every child has the right to be kept safe from harm and this must remain the focus of government and all public authorities."

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