Belfast Telegraph

Dissident display in Lurgan was disgrace

Editor's Viewpoint

Republican dissidents have again debased the spirit of Easter. The sight of masked figures parading through Lurgan in broad daylight was truly stomach-churning.

First Minister Arlene Foster predicted that dissidents would use the centenary of the Easter Rising as an excuse for their nefarious activities, and she was right.

There have been a number of different demonstrations of this warped attitude. They include the murder of the prison officer Adrian Ismay and the attacks on the new Carson mural on Belfast's Falls Road.

The republican parade in Lurgan was further proof that the misguided dissidents have absolutely nothing to offer the people of Northern Ireland.

We had hoped that the days of masked figures parading our streets had long gone, but sadly we have been proved wrong.

The Lurgan event was all the more disturbing considering that it took place just a few miles from the place where PSNI officer Stephen Carroll was murdered by members of the Continuity IRA.

His widow Kate has rightly told this newspaper that there was no need for such a "show of strength", and she makes the pertinent point that if this was a genuine commemoration of 1916, why did those taking part feel the need to wear masks?

Mrs Carroll is absolutely correct.

The Lurgan parade should be regarded as nothing more than another futile attempt at tawdry intimidation.

The Parades Commission was given no notice of this event, which therefore made it an illegal gathering.

The focus now falls on the police to respond effectively.

They have confirmed that an investigation is already under way.

In previous years illegal weapons were produced at republican dissident events and similar concern was expressed throughout the community.

Last year the PSNI arrested one individual who is awaiting trial on charges which include the encouraging of acts of terrorism.

We all hope that a similarly tough approach by the police will take place this time, and that more arrests and prosecutions will follow.

It is absolutely unthinkable that, in 2016, masked people can swagger along our streets in support of their concept of an armed republicanism that belongs totally to the past.

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