A 76-year-old woman injured during a Crown Force operation to disrupt an Easter 1916 commemoration in Lurgan has come to symbolise the defiance of republicans against a new effort to disrupt republican Easter parade colour parties.
Lelia Quine was hospitalised after the PSNI charged a Republican Sinn Fein Easter Rising commemoration in the north Armagh town on Saturday afternoon.
A weekend of events took place across Ireland as people commemorated Ireland’s patriot dead on the 102nd anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
The Lurgan parade, which featured a small republican colour party in military-style clothing at its head, was an easy target.
A sudden PSNI assault at the local garden of remembrance brought back memories of the attacks on republican funerals at the height of the conflict. At one stage up to 12 armoured units of PSNI with batons drawn were involved in a snatch-and-grab operation. Caught in the middle was Lelia, a pensioner, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and with a pacemaker fitted.
Her daughter, who did not want to be named, said her mother attended the event to honour her dead brother, one of the ‘Hooded Men’ who were tortured by British Army. She said she was “disgusted” by the actions of the PSNI. “She only came here because of Gerry, she wanted to commemorate her brother,” she said.
RSF president Des Dalton, who was present in Lurgan on Saturday, said the incident “shows the true face of British rule in Ireland”.
The commemoration resumed when the PSNI left the area. That theme of defiance was continued over the weekend, particularly in Derry where republican youths had to battle to keep the PSNI away from intervening in a commemoration there.
As the parade gathered in the Creggan led by a 16-strong colour party, , PSNI armoured vehicles moved to close off a key artery on the route to the cemetery. Masked youths responded by throwing petrol bombs. As the parade slowly proceeded, a large deployment of PSNI vehicles subsequently attempted to block the parade route. In an intense exchange, the armoured Landrovers were again attacked with dozens of petrol bombs and other missiles before moving back.
Ultimately, after a number of skirmishes, the parade with its way to the city cemetery. Wreaths were laid after which the main oration was delivered by former republican prisoner Stephen Murney. He accused state forces on both sides of the border of harassing republicans.
He said: “The entire republican community was enraged when we witnessed the vicious attack against a Republican Sinn Fein parade in Lurgan carried out by the RUC. The entire colour party was arrested and participants injured by Stormont’s military wing.
“We utterly condemn the actions of the crown forces and we send solidarity and support to Republican Sinn Fein along with all those arrested and injured.”
On Wednesday, Saoradh’s office in Derry, Junior McDaid House, was targeted by British Crown Forces in a heavy-handed raid.
Five Derry activists were arrested by masked and armed PSNI. The men were taken for interrogation at Strand Road barracks and released under bail conditions aimed at denying them the right to political expression.
Saoradh representative, Paddy Gallagher said that after calls for republicans to be ‘brought before the law’ by some in Sinn Fein and other Stormont parties, “we are now witnessing the Crown Forces answer those calls”.
“Republicans face a daily battle with British Crown Forces as we try to live our lives but on the word of British administrators within Sinn Fein, these battles have increased,” said Mr Gallagher.
“Tactics such as this by the violent forces of British imperialism has failed in the past, they failed today and they will fail in the future.”