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Anti-agreement republicans back 1916 parade plan

L-R Derry and Strabane councillor Gary Donnelly, Thomas Ashe Mellon, Kevin Murphy, Alan Lundy, Paul Duffy, David Jordan, Kevin Hannaway, Nuala Perry and Aidan Ferguson. Picture: Hugh Russell
Connla Young

ANTI-agreement republicans are planning to hold a commemoration to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising in Co Tyrone next year.

The National Republican Commemoration Committee, which in a statement justified "armed revolution," gathered in St Patrick’s Hall in Coalisland yesterday to launch the parade .

The committee is affiliated to republican prisoners held on the Roe Four landing at Maghaberry Prison who are aligned to the ‘IRA’.

On the morning of the Rising in 1916 republicans from across the north gathered at St Patrick's Hall to take part in the rebellion, but their part was eventually called off.

The 'Unfinished Revolution' parade will take place from Clone to Coalisland on Easter Sunday next year.

Among the gathering was Kevin Hannaway, who is currently on bail after being arrested in Dublin earlier this year and charged with assisting the IRA.

He is one of 14 Catholics, known as the ‘Hooded Men’, who claim they were tortured by the British government after being detained during internment in 1971.

In a statement, the committee said the planned parade will "serve as an opportunity for those who legitimately continue to struggle for Irish freedom, by whatever means necessary, to re-dedicate ourselves to the ongoing fight to end the British occupation of our country and the establishment of a 32 county democratic socialist republic."

The parade organisers said the Easter Rising is an "unfinished revolution, armed and otherwise."

"While we have listened to the opinions of those who state that the time is not right for a continuation of revolution by any and all means, it is our opinion that while the denial of national self determination and British occupation continue, so too will armed revolution," it said.

"Those who remain true to the ideals and principles of the 1916 Proclamation need to publicly re-dedicate ourselves to the achievement of that vision."

Mr Hannaway said he was happy to attend the march launch.

"I believe I have a common denominator with everyone in this room, I, with them, will always oppose the British presence in Ireland,” he said.

"I have tried to live my life as an Irish republican and I will go to my grave as one."

Also in attendance was Derry and Strabane councillor Gary Donnelly and prominent Co Tyrone republican Kevin Murphy.

In 2012 explosives charges against Mr Murphy were dropped while in 2004 he was one of four men cleared of conspiring to kill police and British soldiers and possession of a rocket launcher near Coalisland RUC station in February 2002.

He was joined at the launch by Tyrone man David Jordan, who was recently released from Portlaoise Prison, in Co Laois, after serving a sentence for possession of a weapon and Derry man Thomas Ashe Mellon, who earlier this year completed a sentence connected to the discovery of a note smuggled into republican inmates at Maghaberry Prison

High profile Lurgan republican Paul Duffy also attended the event.

He was acquitted of paramilitary charges last month after a judge ordered prosecutors to hand over details of a tracking device used during a multi-million pound MI5 surveillance operation.

SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness said he remains opposed to the use of violence.

"The use of violence during the course of the Troubles was wrong and the continued use of violence is still wrong" he said.

"The Irish people as a whole, both north and south, have on a widespread basis supported democratic change in Ireland and that is the broad spectrum of opinion through the body politic in Ireland.”

Mid Ulster Sinn Féin MP Francie Molly said his party’s approach is working.

"We believe we have a strategy to deliver on the proclamation, it’s the right strategy and is delivering," he said.

"We believe it’s the best way to bring about the republic proclaimed in 1916."

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