Northern Ireland news

Saoradh say they will not 'go away' despite pressure to disband

Saoradh member Dee Fennell in Milltown Cemetery, west Belfast. Picture Mal McCann.

A LEADING member of dissident republican group Saoradh has said that the organisation will not be "going away", despite pressure to disband following the murder of north Belfast woman Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old was shot dead by a gunman from the group known as the 'New IRA' during a disturbance in the Creggan estate in Derry on Thursday night. She had moved to the city just over a year ago.

Two teenagers were arrested in connection with the shooting but later released without charge.

Several hundred people attended the Saoradh Easter commemoration at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast yesterday. The group are closely linked to the 'New IRA'.

Saoradh hold their annual Easter commemoration in Milltown Cemetery, west Belfast after cancelling the planned Derry parade. Picture Mal McCann.

The Wolfe Tone Flute band, from Craigneuk in Scotland, accompanied the march, which had been due to take place in the City Cemetery in Derry but was called off following a public backlash at the murder of the author.

Shouting above the noise of an overhead helicopter north Belfast activist Dee Fennell, told the Belfast gathering; "Saoradh isn't going away".

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"We will continue to engage ourselves in activism in the course of this year and in future years, I just want to make that absolutely and abundantly clear."

Speaking earlier the organisation's chairman, Brian Kenna repeated a statement read by Fennell at the organisation's main parade in Dublin at the weekend.

Saoradh chairman Brian Kenna speaking in Milltown Cemetery, west Belfast Picture Mal McCann.

"Lyra McKee's family, friends and partner are suffering an incredible loss,” he said.

"They have lost someone they loved in the most tragic of circumstances.

"While no words can or will alleviate the sense of loss I believe as republicans we should acknowledge when there is hurt or loss of life of civilians.

"If an IRA volunteer fired shots that accidentally killed Lyra McKee then the IRA should publicly admit responsibility for that and apologise. For no other reason than it is the right thing to do", he added.

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A PSNI presence remained outside the cemetery during the march, filming people as they left the graveyard.

It is the second time the organisation and its supporters have met in recent days, around 300 members of the group marched along Dublin's O'Connell Street on Saturday, many of them dressed in combat style clothing.

The display, just days after the murder in Derry sparked outrage with Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan describing the march as "disturbing".

Irish defence minster Paul Kehoe said he would be looking at ways to ban similar demonstrations in the Republic in the future adding that Saoradh should "disband".

Leo Varadkar said the actions of those participating in the parade were "beneath contempt".

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