Members of a colour party in Saoradh’s National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Newry last weekend were stopped and searched by armed PSNI police.
Marchers had items of clothing seized in what Saoradh described as a “Crown Force attack” on the parade participants
“During the march the Crown Forces issued threats, manhandled stewards and at one stage even attempted to block the march from its route,” Saoradh said.
“However they failed to deter those present and our original route was defiantly completed.”
The PSNI’s actions sharply contrast with their treatment of unionist events which are overtly paramilitary. One such gathering on Friday evening showed the DUP-linked ‘community worker’ Dee Stitt posing between loyalists in full UDA paramilitary uniform.
In contrast, the republicans detained last weekend were held for the crime of wearing white shirts, black ties and berets.
Several hundred people took part in the event to commemorate all 22 Irish Republican Hunger Strikers. The colour party, led by seven flag bearers, marched in formation as participants and bands filed in behind them.
The route of the march was marked by national and black flags and reached its destination at Raymond McCreesh Park, named after the IRA hero, where wreaths were laid.
A statement on behalf of Irish Republican prisoners was read by Saoradh chairperson and former republican prisoner Brian Kenna. The main oration on the day was delivered by Saoradh activist Dee Fennell from Belfast.
“The ongoing attacks against republican commemorations by the State are in direct contrast to their laissez-faire attitude to UVF/UDA events and displays celebrating the murderous activities of pro-British death squad members,” Saoradh said.
“As such these attacks vindicate the republican analysis that the MI5-directed PSNI is the frontline force of occupation and is content in that role given to them by their British paymasters.
“No amount of.. futile harassment or attempted intimidation will deter Saoradh from commemorating the republican patriot dead with pride and dignity”.