Northern Ireland news

DUP demands action over republican paramilitary funeral

A paramilitary colour party accompanied the funeral of republican, Stephen Mellon.
Seamus McKinney

A DUP MLA has called on police to take action against members of a paramilitary colour party which accompanied the funeral of former IRA member, Stephen Mellon.

A former Provisional IRA member, Mr Mellon was buried at Derry city cemetery on Saturday. The funeral cortege from his Bogside home to St Columba's church, Long Tower was accompanied by four masked men in full paramilitary uniform. The men were flanked by eight others wearing the black berets and black uniforms which are traditionally worn at republican funerals.

Mr Mellon was a member of a well-known GAA family in Derry. He served as a referee while his father, the late Tommy Mellon was for many years chairman of the Derry county GAA board.

Following his funeral, the Derry man's family – including his son, well known dissident republican, Thomas Ashe Mellon – issued a statement thanking the republican movement for the traditional funeral given to their father.

However, Derry DUP's Gary Middleton has called on police to prosecute anyone involved in what he described as “paramilitary displays.”

“I have spoken with the PSNI following this latest incident and have been told that an evidence gathering operation was in place.

“Whilst on this occasion there do not appear to have been any weapons present or shots fired, the presence of masked figures in paramilitary style dress should not be ignored. Neither can it be somehow normalised because it appears to happen regularly now at the funerals of those linked to dissident republicanism,” he said.

Mr Middleton said he expected police to investigate last Saturday's funeral and that arrests would follow.

“It is vital that anyone taking to the streets in such blatant illegal activity should have the knowledge that their actions will be subject to proper police investigation and subsequent action,” he said.

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