Thousands of republicans attended scores of rallies across the island of Ireland last weekend to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising.
The DUP called for so-called ‘dissident’ rallies to be ‘banned’ after a statement by the breakaway Oglaigh na hEireann was read out at an Easter Monday commemoration in Derry.
Representatives from a number of hardline republican groups were among the hundreds of people who gathered at Derry City Cemetery to mark the 94th anniversary of the Easter Rising.
They heard a representative from Oglaigh na hEireann promise that the group’s actions in the coming year would be “louder than a thousand words”.
DUP Policing Board member Tom Buchanan called for stronger PSNI action against the rallies.
“These people should not be given the opportunity to get up and make such outrageous statements,” he said.
“The PSNI needs to explain why they have stepped back and allowed this type of thing to happen without intervening.
“There needs to be stronger action taken in these types of commemoration parades after seeing and hearing what has happened today.”
Eight members of the group, in camouflage combat fatigues, black berets and with faces obscured by dark glasses and green scarves over their mouths, formed a colour party at yesterday’s march.
Wreaths were laid at the Cuchulainn monument in the cemetery from representatives of groups including the IRSP, Derry County 32 County Sovereignty Movement (CSM), the Irish Prisoners’ Welfare Association (IRPWA) nd the Republican Network For Unity.
An Oglaigh na hEireann member said: “Our actions this year will be louder than a thousand words”.
He sent a message of solidarity to republicans in jail, especially in Maghaberry.
The masked colour party disappeared into the crowd at the end of the commemoration.
A short time later, a group of young people gathered close to the cemetery and attempted to set up a barricade at the roundabout close to St Mary’s Church by burning rubbish on the road.
At least one petrol bomb was thrown.
The main address was given by Marian Price, the secretary of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.
She called for republicans to “take action” in their local communities.
“Our intellectual opposition to the current structures must be matched with action on the ground to leave people in no doubt that 1916 is unfinished business,” she said. “We need to act now; we cannot wait any longer.”
Ms Price also attacked Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness in her speech. “Quislings denouncing us as traitors is a familiar chorus. Republicanism cannot be led by quislings,” she said.
Belfast republican Terry McCafferty, who was recently released from prison, was among those at the commemoration.
Elsewhere, Sinn Fein President told the annual Easter commemoration at west Belfast’s Milltown cemetery that northern nationalists would still be “on their knees” and “second class citizens” had it not been for the Provisional IRA.
Mr Adams said he was proud of the IRA and his association with it, although he denied being a militarist. He welcomed the fact that the violence had ended, and also recognised its cost.
“The war should never be glamorised or repeated,” he said, “but neither should the republican involvement in it -- the [IRA’s] involvement, the involvement of our patriot dead -- be permitted by us to be criminalised or retrospectively delegitimised.”
Referring to the recent controversy over his role during the conflict, Mr Adams said: “This is bigger than me. This is about us as a republican community, especially in this city of Belfast. This is about our integrity and the just nature of our cause.”
He said there was a “relentless campaign” against him which was is not really about him at all.
“It’s about trying to defeat the struggle.”
He further commended the Provisional IRA, claiming it was “an undefeated army when it took brave decisions to support the Sinn Fein peace strategy and to create the present opportunities for a new future”. This decision was central to political advances of recent years, he said.
“This society, the citizens of this island, would not be in the new place, a better place particularly here in the North, but for the dedication and determination of republicans.”