A major Crown effort to imprison more than 40 republicans was dismissed after all charges were thrown out at Newry Courthouse last week.
The 43 people - 35 men and eight women - all faced two charges arising from the National Hunger Strike Commemoration organised by Saoradh in Newry in October 2019, which had been deemed illegal.
It was claimed that flags, clothes, instruments, badges and emblems had all been specifically banned by the Parades Commission.
PSNI ‘evidence gathering teams’ were deployed on the day and they asserted that as the parade was about to march off, a colour party unveiled illegal flags. The parade’s progress was also supposedly in breach of the law because it was not a “notified route”.
However, the Crown case fell apart when defence counsel Kevin Magill highlighted that the Parades Commission statements had not been presented before the court.
“How can you determine what a breach is when the determination is not before you,” he argued. The point was conceded by prosecutors.
Saoradh condemned what it said was the “hysteria” which had greeted the plans for the annual parade by unionists, including the ‘moderate’ Alliance Party.
“Much of this centred on rehashed arguments that centred on the supposed commemoration of ‘terrorists’ - an annual faux outrage that has consistently failed in the same way Thatcher’s criminalisation policy did.
“The event was respectful, dignified and appropriate. Tributes were paid to all hunger strikers from Thomas Ashe to Red Mickey Devine. Participants, including many families and young children, enjoyed the music from the bands as the parade made its way to Raymond McCreesh Park for speeches.
“There were no incidents that could be described as anything other than peaceful and honourable, and a great day was had by all.”
They accused the PSNI of submitting to the demands of the DUP in charging over 40 people with breaches of the Parades Commission determination that never occurred.
They concluded: “Just as Britain’s policy of criminalisation against our Prisoners failed and will continue to fail abysmally, so too will any attempts to prevent Republicans from respectfully honouring our martyred dead via malicious prosecutions and ongoing use of repressive State apparatus.”