New legislation needed after Saoradh's provocative display.
The outpouring of grief over the appalling murder of Lyra McKee in Derry has developed into mounting anger over the response of those associated with the dissident faction responsible.
Saoradh, a political group linked to the organisation known as the New IRA, initially issued a statement of breathtaking cynicism which attempted to place the blame for the killing of 29-year-old Ms McKee `squarely at the feet of the British crown forces’.
The organisers of a dissident republican rally intended to take place in the Creggan district of Derry today did at least call it off in what was said to be a mark of respect for the victim, but outrageously Saoradh went ahead with a march along Dublin’s main thoroughfare O’Connell Street on Saturday.
It could not have been described as any kind of a political initiative as the participants, who numbered less than a hundred, provocatively wore paramilitary-style clothing as well as dark glasses and berets as they marched past the GPO less than 48 hours after Thursday night’s atrocity.
They were verbally challenged by some members of the public but gardaí stayed well in the background and did not attempt to intervene.
Although such gatherings are under the specific control of the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland, there is no parallel body south of the border.
Gardaí said they were not given advance notification of the Dublin event but confirmed that, as matters stand, a licence is not required for gatherings in public places across the Republic.
This is an issue which plainly needs to be addressed and the murder of Ms McKee should provide the opportunity for new legislation to be urgently introduced through Dáil Éireann.
An institution on the scale of the Parades Commission would not be necessary but a straightforward legal provision requiring organisers to obtain formal permission from gardaí well ahead of any proposed march would be fully justified.
While no one would wish to prevent legitimate demonstrations and protests, it is only reasonable to expect that, in the interests of public safety and to prevent any kind of insulting displays, standard guidelines are put in place by the authorities.
Organisations from a range of backgrounds have caused offence in the past by marching in circumstances which caused huge concern to the vast majority of Irish citizens from all traditions, but we are now in a different era.
A funeral service for Ms McKee is scheduled for Wednesday and it was entirely inappropriate for Saoradh, which has made such disingenuous comments about her murder, to stage a propaganda display in the centre of Dublin before she is laid to rest.