Belfast Telegraph

Police rapped over dissidents' brazen shows of strength in Northern Ireland

The National Republican Commemoration Committee held an Easter Rising dedication parade in Coalisland on Easter Sunday amid heavy Police presence.
The National Republican Commemoration Committee held an Easter Rising dedication parade in Coalisland on Easter Sunday amid heavy Police presence.
The National Republican Commemoration Committee held an Easter Rising dedication parade in Coalisland on Easter Sunday amid heavy Police presence.
The National Republican Commemoration Committee held an Easter Rising dedication parade in Coalisland on Easter Sunday amid heavy Police presence.
A masked youth throws stones at police in Lurgan. Presseye
A masked youth throws stones at police in Lurgan. Presseye
A masked youth throws stones at police in Lurgan. Presseye
A colour party from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement
Parades to Creggan Cemetery in Londonderry yesterday
Parades to Creggan Cemetery in Londonderry yesterday
The National Republican Commemoration Committee parade in Coalisland
The National Republican Commemoration Committee parade in Coalisland on Sunday
Members of Republican Sinn Fein at Kilwilkie estate in Lurgan on Saturday

By Rebecca Black

The PSNI has come under fire for failing to stop a number of dissident republican shows of strength.

Masked men and women openly paraded through the streets of Lurgan, north Belfast, Coalisland and Londonderry over the past three days.

In one of the most sinister displays a threat from the Continuity IRA against members of the security forces was read out by masked men in Lurgan.

Unionists have criticised police for not taking any preventative measures to stop the paramilitary displays.

However, last night PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton used social media to hit back at some of the critics. Responding to negative comments on Twitter, Mr Hamilton wrote that his officers could hold their heads high, "despite commentary from uniformed naysayers".

He added via his Twitter account, "officers have done an outstanding job #proud."

Earlier Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin also defended the policing operation of the illegal parades which saw dissidents wearing military garb, dark coloured berets and sunglasses openly march in Ardoyne, Londonderry, Lurgan and Coalisland across the Easter weekend.

Ulster Unionist councillor Colin McCusker has demanded to know what preventative measures were taken to stop the paramilitary show of strength in Lurgan on Saturday.

"I was well aware that this was more than likely to happen - if I knew, the PSNI knew too. I would like to know what preventative measures, if any, were taken to stop this happening," he said.

"In recent weeks the finger has been pointed at the loyal orders by some claiming that by the Apprentice Boys holding their annual Easter Monday demonstration in Lurgan this year, a parade which has been properly notified under the law, they are stretching police resources, but an unnotified parade which was basically a display of terrorist thuggery goes unpunished.

Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016
Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.
Picture Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016 Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Picture Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016 Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Picture Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016 Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Picture Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016 Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Picture Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016 Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Picture Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016 Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Picture Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016 Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Picture Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 26/3/2016 Masked Men during a Republican Sinn Fein Parade in Lurgan on Saturday, To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Picture Pacemaker
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )
McBurney/Members of Republican Sinn Fein commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Pictured a members of the RSF colour party addresses crowd gathered at St Colman's Cemetery Date: Saturday 26 March 2016 Location: Kilwilkee Estate, Lurgan Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Liam McBurney +44 7837 685767 +44 2890 660676 liammcburney@gmail.com
McBurney/Members of Republican Sinn Fein commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Pictured members of the RSF colour party march through the streets of the Kilwilkee Estate Date: Saturday 26 March 2016 Location: Kilwilkee Estate, Lurgan Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Liam McBurney +44 7837 685767 +44 2890 660676 liammcburney@gmail.com
McBurney/Members of Republican Sinn Fein commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Pictured members of the RSF colour party march at St Colman's Cemetery Date: Saturday 26 March 2016 Location: Kilwilkee Estate, Lurgan Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Liam McBurney +44 7837 685767 +44 2890 660676 liammcburney@gmail.com
Members of Republican Sinn Fein commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Pictured members of the RSF colour party march through the streets of the Kilwilkee Estate
McBurney/Members of Republican Sinn Fein commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Pictured members of the RSF colour party march through the streets of the Kilwilkee Estate Date: Saturday 26 March 2016 Location: Kilwilkee Estate, Lurgan Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Liam McBurney +44 7837 685767 +44 2890 660676 liammcburney@gmail.com
McBurney/Members of Republican Sinn Fein commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Pictured a man lays a wreath at the Republican Plot of St Colman's Cemetery Date: Saturday 26 March 2016 Location: Kilwilkee Estate, Lurgan Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Liam McBurney +44 7837 685767 +44 2890 660676 liammcburney@gmail.com
McBurney/Members of Republican Sinn Fein commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Pictured a members of the RSF colour party addresses crowd gathered at St Colman's Cemetery Date: Saturday 26 March 2016 Location: Kilwilkee Estate, Lurgan Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX Liam McBurney +44 7837 685767 +44 2890 660676 liammcburney@gmail.com
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )

"Those involved in the parade are relics of the past and should be shunned for the pathetic cause which they desperately cling to."

DUP MLA and Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said: "I am extremely surprised that the intelligence hasn't allowed them (the PSNI) to pre-empt these events.

"Serious questions will have to be asked over what will be done to ensure that those who organised and carried out these events are arrested and prosecuted."

ACC Stephen Martin said that suspected breaches of Parades Commission determinations in Coalisland and unnotified processions in Ardoyne and Lurgan are being investigated.

He also said most events over the Easter weekend had passed off peacefully.

"In policing all events over the Easter weekend our overriding desire is to ensure that commemorative occasions, parades and protests pass off lawfully and peacefully," he said.

"Our focus is on keeping communities safe and our job, with a few notable exceptions, has been made that much easier because of the responsible attitude of all parties concerned.

"We are, however, investigating suspected breaches of Parades Commission determinations in Coalisland and unnotified processions in Ardoyne and Lurgan. We have gathered evidence at these events and will present reports to the Public Prosecution Service with a view to holding individuals accountable."

On Saturday around 20 dissidents marched through the Kilwilkie estate to St Colman's cemetery in an illegal parade during which a masked man read out the Proclamation and then threatened to use violence against "British forces".

A low-flying police helicopter observed events. Another illegal parade took place in Ardoyne on the same day organised by the Republican Network for Unity.

On Sunday around 50 dissidents wearing military clothing, berets and dark sunglasses appeared in the area of the main Coalisland parade.

Yesterday, another group wearing military uniforms and disguising their identity appeared during a parade at Derry City Cemetery. A statement from dissident prisoners held at Maghaberry jail was among the statements read out.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: "I want to see these people behind bars. No place for masked men in Northern Ireland. Police assure me that evidence has been gathered. It's clear that the Parades Commission determination has been breached."

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