ROBINSON AND MCGUINNESS CLASH OVER IRA PARADE

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robiinson clash over IRA parade in Castlederg

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robiinson clash over IRA parade in Castlederg

THEY normally put on a united from for the cameras in their roles as First and deputy first minister for Northern Ireland.

But an IRA parade to commemorate two dead Provo bombers 40 years ago has set them on a collision course.

On Tuesday, Sinn Fein said it would voluntarily re-route the parade in Castlederg on Sunday, August 11 away from the Cenotaph and local Methodist Church.

However, it is not enough for unionists who say the parade should be banned as it “glorifies terrorism”.

The ‘Tyrone Volunteer Commemoration’ parade is due to to be addressed by Sinn Fein MLA and Policing Board member Gerry Kelly.

A local victims groups has applied to the Parades Commission to hold a protest on the same day as the IRA rally.

On Wednesday, DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson entered the fray saying there was “absolutely no justification” for the republican parade in Castlederg.

Mr Robinson challenged the Parades Commission to show sensitivity to IRA victims.

The parade commemorates Tyrone’s republican dead and is backed by Sinn Fein.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said re-routing the parade had been sensible but the issue raised broader questions about dealing with the past.

Peter Robinson, however, described the parade as insensitive and said it glorified terrorism.

“The principle purpose is to glorify two individuals who sought to bomb Castlederg, but blew themselves up well away from Castlederg,” he said.

“If you are going to have a commemoration at all, and I think it’s inappropriate to have it at all, you would have it at the place where they blew themselves up rather than the target town. That is totally insensitive.”

Martin McGuinness said the issue was “of how we deal with the past and whether or not people have a right to commemorate those people who have lost their lives”.

“Right across society in the course of recent years, we have seen people on all sides of the debate, albeit from a different perspective and different narrative, honour their dead.”

Unionists object to the 'Tyrone Volunteer Commemoration' to be held in Castlederg

Unionists object to the ‘Tyrone Volunteer Commemoration’ to be held in Castlederg

However, there is still deep opposition to the parade from unionists.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has also written a letter to the commission urging them “not to endorse terrorism” by allowing the parade.

West Tyrone MLA Thomas Buchanan, who will led a DUP delegation to the Parades Commission, said the parade was “obnoxious”.

“Twenty-eight innocent people were murdered by terrorists in the Castlederg area,” he said.

“The innocent victims of Castlederg, many of whom have never received justice, should not be expected to accept PIRA terrorists being glorified and hailed as heroes.

“I have written to the chief constable asking him to recognise the toxic impact this event will have on community relations within the area. I look forward to his reply.”

Ulster Unionist assembly member Ross Hussey, and his brother, Councillor Derek Hussey, discussed the parade with the Parades Commission’s Peter Osborne last week.

“This is a community which suffered greatly at the hands of IRA terrorism and which still lives with the legacy of having to come to terms with the 29 murders, 50 plus bombs and the loss of potential that hit the area as the ethnic cleansing policies of the IRA and their republican colleagues took effect,” Mr Hussey said.

“The two individuals being ‘commemorated’ blew themselves up in a car bomb which exploded en route to Castlederg. This was no brave patriotic action, it was an act of terrorism against neighbours.

“If Sinn Féin really wants to move forward, then they should take this parade away from Castlederg or better still, abandon it all together.”

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