Belfast Telegraph

Many protest over republican march

Hundreds of people have protested at a controversial IRA parade in Northern Ireland.

The Tyrone Volunteers Day demonstration in Castlederg - a town close to the Irish border and repeatedly targeted by bombers - commemorated republicans who died during the violent conflict, including two men killed by their own device.

Unionist victims' campaigners waved fading black and white photos of younger loved ones killed during the troubles, with memories still fresh some shouted angrily and two demonstrators temporarily broke through a security barrier amid emotional scenes in Co Tyrone.

The mainly middle-aged crowd was separated by a line of police officers from republicans, who numbered several hundred and included bandsmen, supporters and banner-carriers.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers had urged organisers to call off the march, saying it was causing great hurt to victims of terrorism.

One loyalist victims' campaigner, David Kerrigan, said: "There is no use talking to them, they have set relations back in this town 20 years."

The parade followed Friday night's serious loyalist violence in Belfast city centre when 56 Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers were hurt by flying masonry.

The summer has seen heightened tensions around parading, flags and community relations which will be addressed by renewed political talks this autumn.

Castlederg, close to the Irish border in the region's west, was one of the most bombed towns during the conflict and the Sinn Fein-organised demonstration came on the 40th anniversary of the death of two IRA men killed by their own explosives in the town they allegedly intended to target.

Unionists said the march was deeply insensitive but Sinn Fein argued that the town centre should be a shared space for nationalists and unionists and Stormont deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the intention was not to glorify terrorism.

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