Police investigation into Newry dissident republican parade begins

Commemoration held by Saoradh, who are regarded as the political wing of the New IRA

A colour party passes a police vehicle in Newry, Co Down on Sunday. The political party Saoradh had organised the parade to commemorate hunger strikes. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

A colour party passes a police vehicle in Newry, Co Down on Sunday. The political party Saoradh had organised the parade to commemorate hunger strikes. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

 

A police investigation has been launched into a dissident republican parade in Newry.

The commemoration was held by Saoradh on Saturday to commemorate the deaths of republicans on hunger strike.

Saoradh is widely regarded as the political wing of the New IRA, the group responsible for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry in April.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Inspector Nigel Henry said the parade had “breached the Parades Commission determinations on a number of occasions, despite numerous verbal warnings.

“A full evidence gathering operation was in place and an investigation into the breaches has commenced,” he said.

In Northern Ireland, the Parades Commission must be notified of all public processions. It can place restrictions on contentious parades.

PSNI officers look on at the parade on Sunday. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
PSNI officers look on at the parade on Sunday. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The parade marches through Newry. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The parade marches through Newry. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

In a statement, a spokesman for the Parades Commission said the conditions imposed on the parade included that there should be “no colour parties of any type, nor flags, clothes, instruments, badges or emblems displayed which could be seen as associated with any paramilitary organisation.”

No paramilitary-style clothing was to be worn at any time during the parade.

The parade was led by a colour party dressed in black berets, black sunglasses and black gloves. They carried flags including the Tricolour, the flags of the provinces of Ireland, and republican emblems including the Starry Plough.

The Parades Commission said that the investigation was a matter for the police and criminal justice system.

“The Commission noted that this was the first time this parade was held, and that while the Commission has no powers to ban a parade, its conduct will necessarily influence the Commission’s decision about any future event,” the spokesman said.