Confrontations at Easter 1916 events across the North erupted in a mini-riot in Derry today as the annual march by the 1916 Commemoration Committee, supported by Saoradh, gathered in the Creggan estate in the city.
The PSNI again displayed a banner on an armoured vehicle declaring they had “no notice of this public procession/meeting” and vowing to arrest those who participated.
Local youths clashed with the PSNI at various points along the parade route. At least one armoured PSNI vehicle was struck by petrol bombs before the parade reached its destination.
“Despite a heavy Crown Force presence a masked colour party flanked and protected by the youth of Creggan have successfully made their way into the city cemetery,” Saoradh said.
The trouble followed a surprise attack by police on a commemorative event in Lurgan on Saturday, in which one woman was injured. PSNI clubbed and beat march participants as they moved in to arrest members of a colour party wearing military-style clothing. Nine people were arrested.
That incident was condemned by Sinn Fein, Republican Sinn Fein, Saoradh, and other organisations.
Sinn Fein’s policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly said he had raised the situation with senior members of the PSNI and called for policing to be “consistent and even-handed”, “for instance when loyalist paramilitaries have taken over and intimidated areas in full view of the PSNI”.
Saoradh said it unequivocally condemn the police operations against the Easter parades, which they said was a display of state violence. It said Saturday’s attack had been a well-planned operation.
“The scenes witnessed were beyond contempt - our national flag trampled all over as baton drawn thugs intent on violence charged in not caring who was injured in the operation.”
They described PSNI operations at marches over the weekend as an attempt to “appease unionists and ensure Republicans are put in their place”.
Republican Sinn Fein were livid at the attack on their parade on Saturday and said the mask had “truly slipped from the sectarian police in Occupied Ireland”.
“In their rush to attack the colour party they knocked over an elderly frail woman, and they arrested and assaulted members and supporters of Sinn Fein. Such was the zeal to arrest and attack people concerned with the injured woman they refused demands to call an ambulance or permit some people to attend to her.
“The venom of this unwarranted attack shone a bright light on the lie that there is a new police force in Occupied Ireland. It is clear that while they have changed the name, it is the same style of policing, the same anti-Irish agenda that is practised by this paramilitary police force.
“The anger on the ground amongst those living in Kilwilkie and Republicans across Ireland in palpable, and rightly so. For over 100 years we have commemorated our patriot dead of 1916. We do so with dignity and we will continue to do so.”