Northern Ireland

Dissident parade to take place in Derry on GFA 25th anniversary

Trouble flared following an Easter parade in Derry in 2018
Trouble flared following an Easter parade in Derry in 2018

ANTI-agreement republicans are to hold an Easter rally in Derry in opposition to the Good Friday Agreement on its 25th anniversary.

The parade is expected to take place on Easter Monday - which falls on April 10 - exactly 25 years after the historic peace accord was signed.

It comes amid speculation that US president Joe Biden and other global leaders will visit the north next month to mark the agreement’s anniversary.

It is understood the republican parade will make its way from Creggan shops to the city cemetery where a commemoration will be held.

Violence has flared at similar events in the past while masked men dressed in combat gear have taken part in colour parties.

This year’s parade is being organised by the Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee, which has the support of anti-agreement party Saoradh.

In previous years the Parades Commission has not been notified about such Easter Monday rallies, despite a legal requirement to do so.

It is understood organisers do not intend to notify this year’s event.

Details of the parade emerged amid a rise in activity by armed republican groups in recent months.

On February 22 a senior PSNI officer was critically injured after he was ambushed by the New IRA at a sports centre near Omagh.

In 2018 petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at the PSNI after trouble flared at a similar unnotified Easter parade.

Violence also broke out last Easter Monday in Derry when police moved in to arrest suspected members of a colour party after a parade arranged by the National Republican Commemoration Committee.

Petrol bombs and other objects were thrown at PSNI vehicles at an entrance to the city cemetery.

In a statement confirming the parade is due to take place a spokesman for Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee said the GFA “has copper fastened partition and British rule in Ireland”.

“An agreement which has attempted to normalise the continued occupation of Ireland by Britain,” it said.

In a reference to last year’s trouble the organising committee said the scenes witnessed “didn’t happen by accident”.

SDLP Policing Board member Mark H Durkan said:

“Police and organisers should be doing all they can to minimise disruption to the public."

The SDLP MLA urged “organises to do all they can to ensure what they are doing is legal and there should not be any need for the police”.