25 people reported to Public Prosecution Service over ‘illegal' Ardoyne parade

An RNU parade takes place in Ardoyne on Easter Saturday. Picture by Facebook
John Monaghan

POLICE have reported 25 people to the Public Prosecution Service over an Easter Rising parade in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

The PSNI were not notified of the parade, which took place on Easter Saturday, March 26.

It was organised by the dissident Republican Network for Unity (RNU) group.

The event was held to commemorate four Ardoyne members of the Provisional IRA's youth wing, Na Fianna - Bernard Fox, Josh Campbell, Joseph McComiskey and Davy McAuley - who died during the 1970s.

In a Facebook post, RNU admitted it had not sought permission for the parade, which departed Ardoyne Avenue en route to Berwick Road.

It said the PSNI had continually attempted to stop the march, "deeming the parade 'illegal' because of RNU’s refusal to ask permission from a state body to commemorate republican dead on the 100th anniversary of the Easter rising."

Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said: "By law in Northern Ireland, organisers of parades and protests are required to give formal notification of their intentions to the Parades Commission and abide by any determinations or restrictions issued.

"Police responded to an un-notified parade in the Ardoyne area and issued a series of warnings to participants.

"They chose to disregard these warnings and continue the parade. Police gathered evidence and as a result of the investigation, 25 parade participants have been identified, spoken to by police, cautioned and informed they will be reported to the Public Prosecution Service.

"This was an entirely avoidable situation," added Superintendent Noble.

The commemoration was addressed by several speakers including prominent republican Tony Taylor, who RNU said had read a statement over the phone from Maghaberry.

His lawyers recently launched a legal challenge against a decision to revoke his licence and return him to jail on the instructions of Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

In a separate development, organisers of a loyalist protest against an Easter Rising parade claimed on social media that they were to be questioned by police.

The parade and associated protest took place at Royal Avenue in Belfast on April 24, the calendar anniversary of the Easter Rising, with the day itself costing more than £100,000 to police in Belfast alone.

The parade and protest passed off without major incident.

The Irish News reported at the time that a republican band may have breached a Parades Commission determination by playing music on a stretch of Donegall Street.

Police said that anyone who breached Parades Commission determinations or held un-notified parades "can expect to be contacted by police in the coming weeks."

Superintendent Noble said: "Our investigations into alleged breaches of Parades Commission determinations surrounding the 24 April Easter commemoration parades, associated protests and other un-notified parades over the Easter period in Belfast are continuing."

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