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One man charged after masked colour party takes part in Lurgan parade

Police arrested twelve men following an un-notified dissident republican parade in Lurgan, CoArmagh on Saturday. Picture by Mal McCann 
Connla Young

ONE man has been charged after police swooped on a republican parade - which included a masked colour party - in Lurgan on Saturday.

The 51-year-old was one of 12 men arrested after a Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) march through the Kilwilkie estate.

Several hundred people attended the parade, which was organised to open a memorial garden to Lurgan man Edward Costello, killed during the 1916 Easter Rising, and other republicans.

Organisers did not notify the Parades Commission about the parade.

Police say the 12 men were arrested on “suspicion of offences under the public processions act and associated offences”.

Parade organisers say the colour party, which wore combat clothing and included a woman and young boy, was the ‘Republican Sinn Féin National Colour Party’.

The 51-year-old man was charged with taking part in an unnotified public procession and is expected to appear at Craigavon Magistrates Court on June 22.

Nine others were released on police bail to return at a later date while two were released on unconditionally.

It is believed those arrested came from the Republic.

Seven of the men were arrested after a Dublin registered minibus was pulled over as it left Lurgan on the Banbridge Road during a major police operation.

At one point up to 11 police vehicles surrounded the minibus as officers questioned some of the occupants.

The men were searched at the roadside while a police officer used a hand held video recorder to capture footage.

A police Land Rover with a CCTV camera mounted on its roof was also at the scene.

Several bags were removed from the minibus and taken away by the PSNI while two republican flags were also removed and photographed.

Five other men were arrested in a separate operation.

A van carrying members of a band which took part in the parade, Bellaghy based Martyrs of Éireann, was pulled over by police a short distance from the Kilwilkie estate.

A source close to the band said some of those had their details taken and were told they were going to be prosecuted for taking part in the parade.

Two police Land Rovers with cameras attached monitored the parade as it made its way through Kilwilkie.

Police signs warned that the parade had not been notified and also used a loud speaker to issue a warning to those taking part.

Republican Sinn Féin president Des Dalton, who spoke at the event, was critical of the PSNI operation.

“It also gives the lie to those who say that the six-county state is a normal democratic society,” he said.

“Arbitrary arrest and internment continue to be used against Irish republicans for simply commemorating our patriot dead.”

A wreath was laid on behalf of the IRSP.

DUP assembly member for the area Carla Lockhart welcomed the police operation.

“I condemn those who have involved themselves in such activity,” she said.

“North Lurgan has and is moving on and the harsh reality for these people is that they are in the minority. People do not want this on their streets.”

It emerged earlier this year the new memorial in Kilwilkie was built without planning permission.

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