Northern Ireland news

Men and women in combat gear take part in Tyrone Rising commemoration

Connla Young
28 March, 2016 01:00

UP to 60 men and women dressed in military-style clothing have taken part in an Easter Rising commemoration in Co Tyrone.

Dozens of people in combat gear marched in file behind a colour party during the parade in Coalisland on Sunday.

The march was organised by the National Republican Commemoration Committee which is affiliated to republican prisoners held on the Roe Four landing at Maghaberry Prison who are aligned to the `IRA'.

Earlier this month the `IRA' claimed responsibility for killing prison officer Adrian Ismay who died days after a bomb exploded under his van in east Belfast.

There was a strong PSNI presence in the area yesterday with road blocks on several routes leading into the mainly nationalist village. A PSNI helicopter also flew overhead as several thousand people accompanied by bands marched from Clonoe to St Patrick's Hall in the town.

Officers also took photographs and filmed those taking part while police vehicles fixed with cameras circled local roads.

St Patrick's Hall holds special significance for republicans after Irish Volunteers from the north who were meant to take part in the rising gathered there in 1916.

Tricolours lined the parade route while the letters `IRA' and imitation weapons were nailed to several telephone poles.

Several well known republicans attended. High profile republican veterans were also in attendance including `hooded man' Kevin Hannaway who laid a wreath at the hall. He is currently on bail after being arrested in Dublin earlier this year and charged with assisting the IRA.

Co Derry man Brian Shivers, who was acquitted of killing two British soldiers in Antrim in 2009, also laid a wreath in memory of dead republicans.

Belfast republican Billy McKee, who is a founding member of the Provisional IRA, sent a message to organisers saying that if he had been in better health he would have attended.

The main address was delivered by Co Tyrone republican David Jordan.

A former prisoner, Mr Jordan is currently on bail after being charged with trying to kill a PSNI man in a bomb attack in Castlederg in May 2008.

In what is being viewed by observers as a significant development he spoke of the need for a "political vehicle" to be established.

"Our overall objective must be to empower the Irish people using our revolutionary thinking to do so," he said.

"It is of the utmost importance that a strong vehicle be built. The vehicle must be ideologically united on radical socialist republican objectives. It must be capable of formulating and implementing short term and long term objectives."

During his speech, Mr Jordan called on Catholic, Protestants and dissenters to construct a "socialist republic".

He said any new `vehicle' "must be a instrument beyond the influence of power and wealth".

"We should never be able to be bought because we should not have a price," he said.

Mr Jordan said a "political vehicle" is necessary.

"It is vividly clear that without a revolutionary political vehicle to have a strong clear anti imperialist, anti capitalist structure then republicanism will fail to mature and develop as a political and relevant social philosophy."

It is understood there are currently no plans for any new political grouping to stand candidates in elections. Sources say it will instead focus on local campaigns and community issues.

The Irish News understands discussion about the establishment of a new party have been ongoing for some time and will continue into the future.

The Tyrone republican said that "Republicans can justifiably feel that the formation of a political vehicle will lead to reformism as this has been the republican experience".

"We have to make it impossible that a political vehicle should ever become a parliamentary political party, it should never regard the Free State or six county statelet, or the combination of the two, as a legitimate governing authority of Ireland.

"It should never believe that election to these bodies would constitute the reconquest of power by the oppressed.

"A republican vehicle should give a clear anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti reformist message and this should never be diluted."

28 March, 2016 01:00 Northern Ireland news