RULING DUE ON IRA COMMEMORATION PARADE

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

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

THE Parades Commission is expected to rule later on Thursday on a controversial IRA parade.

The ‘Tyrone Volunteers Commemoration’ parade is held to remember the republican dead, including two IRA members killed by their own bomb in 1973.

Sinn Fein MLA and Policing Board member Gerry Kelly is due to make a speech at the event on Sunday, August 11.

His party has offered to re-route the parade away from the town’s war memorial and Methodist church.

However, unionists have described the parade as “grossly insensitive” and say it should not be allowed to go ahead.

Delegations from Sinn Féin, the DUP and Ulster Unionists have met with the Parades Commission to discuss the parade.

On Wednesday First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness clashed over the event.

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

The DUP leader said there was “absolutely no justification” for the republican parade in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

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

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.”

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robiinson clashed over the IRA parade in Castlederg

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robiinson clashed over the IRA parade 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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