Boy (10) questioned by police after Lurgan republican parade

Police question a young boy after twelve men were arrested following an un-notified dissident republican parade in Lurgan, Co Armagh on Saturday. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

A 10-YEAR-OLD boy has become the youngest ever person to be cautioned in relation to a parade in the north.

The child was cautioned by police after a masked colour party took part in a republican parade through Lurgan at the weekend.

One man was charged after police stopped several vehicles carrying people from the Republican Sinn Féin parade, which had taken place in the Co Armagh town’s Kilwilkie estate on Saturday.

Organisers of the march did not notify the Parades Commission in advance.

While adults have been cautioned in connection with unnotified parades in the past, it is rare for children to be quizzed.

After being cautioned it is understood that the 10-year-old was questioned by a police officer at the side of the road.

It is understood that when asked if he had taken part in the parade and if he was one of the organisers, he replied “No comment”.

It has also been claimed that during that earlier a four-year-old boy, who is a brother of the 10-year-old, was asked for his name and date of birth by a police officer after a minibus was stopped as it made its way from a republican commemoration at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast to Lurgan.

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 from the north Armagh area.

The 10-year-old, who comes from Dublin, was travelling on a minibus which was pulled in by police on the Banbridge Road just outside Lurgan.

It is believed the boy’s father and older brother were among the seven arrested while his mother was cautioned before being allowed to travel home.

Seven men who were travelling in the minibus were arrested after being searched and filmed at the roadside while five others were detained in a separate operation after their car was stopped.

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’.

Up to 11 police vehicles and a large amount of officers surrounded the minibus as the major operation swung into place.

The PSNI refused to confirm on Monday night if any children were cautioned during the operation saying only that “a number of other people were cautioned by police at the time and allowed to continue on their way”.

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

A 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 south.

Earlier, 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.

Band sources say some of those travelling in the vehicle were told they are to be prosecuted.

The PSNI said last night it stopped a number of vehicles in the Lurgan area and issued warnings to occupants that no notification of a public procession had been received for anywhere in the Lurgan area on Saturday.

It added: "Persons suspected of participating in an unnotified procession would be investigated and reported with a view to prosecution".

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

"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," she said.

RSF General Secretary Josephine Hayden was critical of the PSNI.

“It is disgraceful that children are being asked their names and cautioned and questioned in this way,” she said.

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