A protest by a group called ‘Irish Socialist Republicans’ successfully disrupted a concert performance in honour of the British Army at a rural village in County Limerick this week.
An event organised by the Knocklong History Society had been denounced as a “pro-imperialist” event.
Armed Special Branch garda police were involved in the heated situation where a dozen republicans staged a protest against a British Army memorial band.
The British Legion Leiston Band had benn invited to perform a brass concert to remember locally-recruited British soldiers killed in the First World War.
Speaking after the event was cancelled, a representative of the republican group, George McAnaspie said protestors had defied a “ring of steel” placed around the Knocklong Community Centre by the 26 County Armed Response Unit and Special Branch.
Mr McAnaspie’s grandfather was involved in the rescue mission of IRA leader Sean Hogan in 1919, which took place in Knocklong. He said republicans from Limerick, Tipperary and Cork had been involved in securing “a massive victory” for socialist republicans in the Munster area.
“The organisers of this event had hoped to facilitate a Brit Imperialist Band in an effort to portray the ongoing British occupation of Ireland as legitimate,” he said.
“The fact that the event had to be cancelled, despite the ring of steel, due to a protest by local republicans, shows beyond any doubt that there is nothing legitimate or normal about the British Occupation of Ireland.”
He continued: “The British Legion are not just an innocent Brass Band or a charity. They are active supporters of the British military and key fundraisers in support of Brit forces involved in wars of conquest around the world.
“Left unchecked, events like the concert in Knocklong could become subtle recruiting grounds for the British Army in Ireland and therefore must be opposed”.
He said the protest in Knocklong demonstrated “what is possible when republicans get organised and stand together in a determined and disciplined way”.
Commenting, Limerick Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan said it was “a bit strange” to invite the British Legion band to Knocklong.
“Somebody invited them and didn’t expect any sort of reaction to it. I am not saying that I condemn or support it, but it would be controversial to invite the British Legion band to come to a rural village, where there was a huge armed resistance during the British occupation at the time.
“It seems a bit strange that you would invite just the band from the occupying forces and not to have a Republican-type band - a bit of balance.”