Belfast Telegraph

Unionists vow to contact police over why masked men allowed to stage show of strength in Lurgan

Masked men paraded through a Co Armagh town as part of a Republican march ahead of Sunday's Easter Rising commemorations.

The march took place in Lurgan on Saturday afternoon.

Masked men made their way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colman's Cemetery.

Lurgan DUP Councillor Carla Lockhart condemned those who staged what she termed a "republican show of strength".

"This is deeply concerning. The days of masked men parading through our streets should be gone. This has no place in the new Northern Ireland," she said.

"First Minister Arlene Foster has said that dissident republicans will use the events of Easter 1916 to legitimise their warped actions in 2016. This is further proof that she was right. Violence was always wrong.

"I will be speaking with local police about this incident but it's a reminder to police throughout Northern Ireland that events relating to the Easter rebellion this weekend should be monitored.

"It is vital that the police has adequate evidence gathering at these events to secure prosecutions."

TUV Assembly candidate Roy Ferguson said the display was "totally unacceptable".

"The events on Saturday afternoon underscored once again that there are parts of Lurgan where Republicans effectively do as they please," he said.

"This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs and I will be contacting the PSNI to demand an explanation as to why the terrorist show of strength was permitted to take place and how they propose to bring those involved before the courts.

"It was predictable that the events of this weekend would be used to glorify terrorism. I hope that Lurgan hasn't sent the standard for the PSNI response."

Elsewhere, in Dublin one of the key commemorations of Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising centenary took place on Saturday with President Michael D Higgins honouring all those who fought and died for Irish freedom.

The weekend of celebrations began at midday on Saturday with the head of state laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square in central Dublin to mark the sacrifices of patriot dead.

It is one in a series of specially choreographed events taking place over the next three days to remember the rebellion, a seminal moment in Irish history which sowed the seeds for independence.

Earlier Sabina Higgins, the President's wife, laid a wreath at the grave of Countess Constance Markievicz at Glasnevin Cemetery as official Ireland strives to make the commemorations more inclusive.

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