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An insult to Lyra's memory - New IRA plans show of strength at Easter parade

It's set to take place five days before the first anniversary of the author's murder

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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.

Friends of murdered journalist Lyra McKee defaced the walls of a dissident republican office in Londonderry with red paint. Cate McCurry/PA

Friends of murdered journalist Lyra McKee defaced the walls of a dissident republican office in Londonderry with red paint. Cate McCurry/PA

PA

Lyra McKee

Lyra McKee

The National Republican Commemoration Committee held an Easter Rising dedication parade in Coalisland on Easter Sunday amid heavy Police presence.

The New IRA is planning on putting on a "significant" show of strength at its Easter commemorations in Londonderry - five days before the first anniversary of its murder of Lyra McKee.

The terror gang's political wing Soaradh was forced to cancel last year's display, which it organises, because of the public revulsion it faced in the wake of the author's killing.

However, it's full steam ahead for this year's parade which is scheduled to take place on Easter Monday, ending at the republican plot in Derry's City Cemetery.

Insiders say plans are being discussed which include putting on a "significant" show of strength with New IRA members dressed in military fatigues and wearing berets and sunglasses.

Ironically the sinister display is being organised by the terror gang's Derry boss Thomas Ashe Mellon, who was fined £750 in court last year for taking part in an illegal dissident republican parade.

"He (Mellon) wants the Easter Monday parade to be as big as the New IRA one through Coalisland a couple of years ago," a source told Sunday Life.

"This is all about Tommy showing everyone that the New IRA is still active and has support in Derry. He doesn't care if it upsets the family of Lyra McKee."

What is bothering Mellon - who has a conviction for having articles of use to terrorists and is on a 10-year MI5 watch-list - is how his raised media profile has led to increased attention from the PSNI. Almost every time the taxi driver ventures out in his car he is stopped and searched.

His closest allies have also been the focus of intense police monitoring. These include painter and decorator Mark Canning (right), who was the target of an M15 recruitment attempt two weeks ago.

The 43-year-old, who has a conviction for taking part in an illegal paramilitary-style parade in support of the New IRA, managed to film part of the encounter. He tells an undercover soldier to "f**k off" after Thomas Mellon's name is mentioned.

The M15 operative had told him: "Get your head right and think about what you're doing. Mr Mellon and company, all sitting watching, laughing at you Mark as you head off and do your 12- and 14-hour shift while they are scratching their balls in Derry."

Republicans say that while the New IRA in Derry has been badly damaged by the Lyra McKee murder, and several failed terror attacks in the city, it remains determined to kill a police or prison officer.

One member of staff at Maghaberry Prison was recently warned to heighten his security after being involved in a clash with a republican inmate.

The incident involved INLA-aligned Belfast man Paddy O'Neill, who is serving a five-year sentence for carrying out a punishment-style shooting for dissident gang ONH (Oglaigh na hEireann).

A statement put out by Saoradh after the altercation named the prison officer, who has since been told that he is under threat and to increase his personal security.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

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