Unionists welcome 'swift action' by police after Mickey Barr funeral paramilitary display
Unionists last night welcomed the "swift action" taken by the PSNI after 15 men were arrested over a paramilitary display at the funeral of Co Tyrone dissident republican Mickey Barr.
Police were criticised for their response when similar displays were witnessed at other funerals over the last year as well as during commemorations of the Easter Rising.
Unionists expressed concern following the funeral in Bellaghy last November of Declan McGlinchey, a son of murdered INLA chief Dominic McGlinchey, and that of veteran republican Peggy O'Hara in Derry in July.
Loyalist paramilitaries also formed a guard of honour at the funeral of Colin 'Bap' Lindsay in Belfast in July.
Asked about arrests following paramilitary displays, police last night said 13 men and three women were questioned in relation to the O'Hara funeral.
One person was reported to the Public Prosecution Service but the other 15 were released unconditionally.
A spokesman said no-one has been arrested in connection with the Lindsay or McGlinchey funerals.
The arrests in Strabane were made after the burial of 35-year-old Barr, a member of the 'IRA' murdered by a Dublin crime gang in the city last week.
Jonathan Craig, a DUP representative on the Policing Board, welcomed the police's approach yesterday.
"I think is this likely to change the public's perception. The perception was that police were treating illegal republican parades differently to other parades."
He said police have observed previous republican funerals and commemorations and later made arrests but in this case, they had ample warning that an illegal display was likely to take place.
"This gave them enough time to get the resources together," he said.
Ulster Unionist policing spokesman Ross Hussey also congratulated police on "taking swift action".
"I know that the police are doing all they can to bring to justice those who brazenly swagger about dressed in paramilitary garb as if they are above the law," he said.
"But hopefully those that do so will soon have their comeuppance in court, which will send a clear warning out to others that they are not untouchable."