26 February 2006

SF reacts angrily to commission's stance


(Seamus McKinney, Irish News)

Parades Commission criticism of a planned republican commemoration march in Strabane does not bode well for this year's marching season, according to Sinn Féin.

Sunday's march is held annually to commemorate the deaths of IRA members, Michael Devine (22), his brother David (17) and Charles Breslin (20) who were shot dead in Strabane by the SAS in 1985.

In its determination on this year's parade, the commission expressed disappointment at the presence of an IRA colour party at last year's march and cautioned the organisers over pro-IRA chants at the event.

The commission's comments have provoked an angry reaction from Sinn Féin in Strabane.

Town councillor Jarlath McNulty said the commission's stance did not bode well for this year's marching season.

"In all the years that this parade has been going on there has never been any local objections and the fact that thousands of local people turned out to support last year's 20th anniversary parade shows the massive sense of hurt and anger that still exists within this community about the terrible events of February 23 1985," he said.

"This annual commemoration has never been controversial to the Parades Commission before so the question has to be asked why now?"

He said people in Strabane believed the two Orange Order members and an SDLP member on the commission had a bearing on the decision.

Strabane SDLP assembly member Eugene McMenamin said he believed the commission determination was fair.

He said it put the onus on the organisers to control the parade although he conceded that it was "practically impossible" to stop people from chanting.

"I know that in recent times, in the past years, this parade has passed off peacefully and I can't see any problems come this Sunday," he said.

But Ulster Unionist assembly member for West Tyrone, Derek Hussey claimed that last year there was "irrefutable evidence of the wearing of paramilitary attire and the chanting of IRA slogans".

"The event is abhorrent to all unionists in this area," he said.

"Event organisers have a responsibility to control their parades in accordance with the commission's requirements therefore if it is the case that the organisers of this republican 'show of strength' cannot meet the Parades Commission's res-trictions, the commission has a duty to ban the parade," he said.

February 26, 2006

This article appeared first in the February 24, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

Redicolous to not let people commemorate. Charlie was a hero, sad is a nation that does not honor her heros!
Bill Taylor
Counsin in the states!
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