Northern Ireland news

DUP claims band fundraiser was attempt to glorify IRA campaign

The band fundraiser saw masked men pose with imitation Armalite, Kalashnikov and Dragunov sniper rifles as well as an imitation stick grenade
Seamus McKinney

A fundraising event for a republican band involving masked men with replica weapons was an attempt to glorify IRA violence, the DUP has claimed.

The "historical re-enactment", organised by the Spirit of Freedom flute band, saw people dress up as IRA men and adopt firing positions.

Staged as part of a tour of Derry's Long Tower area last Saturday, pictures were posted on social media sites.

The band, which frequently takes part in Sinn Fein-organised commemorations, notified police in advance that it would be re-enacting episodes from the area's recent history.

However, DUP East Derry MP Gregory Campbell claimed the event was an attempt to “sanitise IRA terrorism”.

“IRA violence took a significant toll on communities across Northern Ireland. Whether this is a re-enactment or not, this is certainly not appropriate nor welcome in any form within our society,” he said.

The images were also condemned by Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn, who said masked men in paramilitary uniforms had no place in modern society.

“The appearance of firearms, even imitation ones, is always concerning,” he said.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said the party was not responsible for the event but described it as a history tour to raise funds.

“The organisers informed the police in advance that the tour would include historical re-enactments with period costume and that imitation firearms, which cannot be fired, would be on display,” he said.

Announcing details of the walking tour, band spokesman Micky Kinsella said a number of former IRA men were involved with flute bands and connections between the IRA's campaign and bands would be discussed.

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