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Police admit O'Hara funeral mistakes, claims DUP

Masked men and woman at the funeral of Peggy O'Hara
Seamus McKinney

The DUP has claimed police admitted under-resourcing Saturday's funeral of the mother of INLA hunger striker Patsy O'Hara.

Dozens of masked men and women, dressed in INLA uniforms, formed a colour party in Peggy O'Hara's funeral cortege as it made its way from St Columba's church in Derry to the city cemetery.

The show of strength came after a volley of shots was fired over Mrs O'Hara's coffin as it was returned to her home last Wednesday.

Police used video cameras to record Saturday's funeral procession but did not intervene, despite calls on Friday by DUP politicians to adopt a tougher approach to policing the funeral.

Following a meeting with PSNI deputy chief constable Drew Harris on Monday, Foyle MLA Gary Middleton claimed police admitted getting their approach wrong.

Mr Middleton said: “The police did indicate to us that had they had more information at the time that they would have policed it differently.

“Of course, that was no surprise to us as politicians because after the wake and after the firing of the shots we did alert the police and we did make our concerns known to the police about the fact that we did not want a repeat display on Saturday when the funeral took place.”

Mr Middleton welcomed the fact that the senior officer pledged to take all their comments on board.

He said police admitted to having only one Land Rover present and claimed that had officers been present in numbers, the masked men and women would not have had a chance to mount such a display.

Police declined to comment on Mr Middleton's claims but referred to Mr Harris's statement after the meeting.

He had said it was important to note that evidence was recorded and police were trying to identify the masked men and women.

“Detectives from the serious crime branch are leading the investigation into this sequence of events. They will bring to bear their past experience of such investigations,” he said.

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