Shots fired over coffin of veteran Derry republican

POLICE are investigating reports of shots being fired over the coffin of a veteran Derry republican.

A three-member masked colour party was armed with what appeared to be a Thompson sub-machine gun and a semi-automatic weapon outside the home of 71 year-old Seamus O'Kane at Glenowen on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr O’Kane’s coffin was draped in a red Starry Plough flag of the republican socialist movement. It also bore beret and gloves, a tribute normally reserved for former active members of republican paramilitary organisations.

A former teacher at the now-closed St Peter’s High School in Derry, it is understood Mr O’Kane was a member of the Official IRA in the 1970s. In 1972, he was arrested and questioned about the Official’s bombing of Parachute regiment HQ, Aldershot barracks in England. He was later released without charge.

Wednesday’s paramilitary display, ahead of the funeral today, was condemned by DUP assembly member, Gary Middleton who said it was “disgraceful.”

“Paramilitary activity is wrong. The glorification of terrorist activity is equally wrong and should not have any place in our communities."

However, Mr O’Kane’s friend and community activist, Tommy McCourt said Mr O'Kane had always lived by his principles.

“He was involved in social politics from the early civil rights days right through until recently.”