The PSNI police clashed with republican youths in Derry during what the PSNI described as an “illegal” Easter commemoration at the city cemetery on Monday.
Locals have accused the PSNI of being heavy-handed and of taking photographs of children as young as seven.
Two youths were arrested in relation to the riot on the Creggan estate, in which bombs and petrol bombs were thrown.
Reports said up to 70 people were involved in the clashes at their highest.
The trouble broke out as a commemoration rally was being held by the 32 County Sovereignty in the City Cemetery.
At one stage during the event, a uniformed member of the ‘Real IRA’ read out a statement from the “leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann” calling on republicans to “unite and continue the armed struggle.”
During the rally, Francie Mackey of the 32CSM warned a crowd of around 300 people that British intelligence was “setting people up for murder.”
He called on local republicans to be vigilant and claimed that a number of plans by British forces to assassinate leading republicans were uncovered recently.
“The PSNI and MI5 are actively targeting individuals just as they did in the days of the RUC,” he said. “We believe that they are setting people up for murder. In the days ahead we appeal to the republican base here in the city to be vigilant in the face of this serious threat and to report any suspicious activity to the 32CSM - no matter how small it may seem. It could save somebody’s life.”
Mr Mackey also urged all republicans to work together to develop a united strategy. “We need to unite all true republican groups with one common purpose. If we do that, we are confident that, together, republicans can make a difference and uphold the Proclamation.”
REPUBLICAN NETWORK FOR UNITY
The Derry/Strabane area has increasingly adopted a more traditionalist republican approach to the current political process.
A rally at the same venue on the previous day, organised by the Republican Network for Unity (RNU), heard Belfast republican Anthony McIntyre describe the north of Ireland as “more British than Thatcher’s Finchley”.
The commemoration was attended by hundreds of republicans from a variety of organisations and were chaired by Derry republican Brian McFadden.
RNU member Ronan Moyne, a nephew of IRA volunteer Jim Moyne, encouraged local republicans and ex-prisoners to get involved with the new organisation. Mr Moyne said it was important to create an alternative to mainstream republicanism.
“We need to counter the propaganda from all quarters, especially from those who now administer the very system they told us they opposed. We acknowledge there are challenges ahead but I am hopeful the family of ex-POWs and genuine republicans in this city will come together and I am confident we can build a focused and credible alternative,” he said.
The main oration was delivered by writer and critic Anthony McIntyre who said that, as a young IRA volunteer 30 years ago, he could never have imagined that the leaders of republicanism would be sitting down with Ian Paisley.
“I had no idea that three decades later we would be standing at the gravesides of dead republicans in a Northern state even more British than Thatcher’s Finchley - Finchley, remember, has no MI5 knock out centre.
“Britain has no strategic reason to keep Finchley. Whatever else, the North of Ireland has more strategic value to the current British state than Finchley,” he said.
Mr McIntyre also criticised the leadership of Sinn Féin for using the memory of dead volunteers for political gain. “It is a sad spectacle to watch the memory of dead volunteers being smuggled into the odious Stormont, a place they sought to destroy while alive or prevent ever being resurrected. Their memory is being used as a smokescreen for the ambitions of others,” he said.
* Other groups which held commeorative events in the city at the weekend were the Irish Republican Socialist Party and Republican Sinn Féin.