A masked member of the Real IRA reads a statement to supporters at Creggan cemetery, Derry, during a commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising. Photograph: Peter Morrison/AP
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has defended itself against unionist charges that it demonstrated weakness over a Real IRA rally inDerry.
East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell demanded a “more serious approach” to commemorations in which masked Real IRA members issued statements promising more violence.
The Democratic Unionist party’s security spokesman said: “I think that unless we see some sort of response now in terms of further arrests, unless we see that leading to a non-repeat of this, then we have got to have a different approach.”
The PSNI waited until after an Easter Monday commemoration marking the 1916 Easter Rising finished at Derry’s Creggan cemetery before moving to detain six men. Although the police did monitor the pro-Real IRA rally from a police helicopter there were no officers on the ground inside the cemetery.
The Derry PSNI area commander, Chief Inspector Gary Eaton, defended his officers’ approach to the republican demonstration. He said: “Any alleged breaches of criminal law reported to police or coming to our attention will be rigorously and thoroughly investigated.
“The PSNI work to ensure that all their actions are appropriate, proportionate and lawful. Our priorities are to protect the public, preserve public order, uphold the human rights of all and gather evidence of any wrongdoing.”
Several hundred dissident republican supporters attended a march to the cemetery, where wreaths were laid.
A Real IRA spokesman dressed in a balaclava and black combat gear said “Óglaigh na hÉireann” would continue to attack “crown forces” and “British interests and infrastructure”.
The six men remained in custody in the PSNI’s serious crime suite in Antrim town police station on Tuesday. WITH MANY THANKS TO: THE GAURDIAN.
Six men have been arrested by detectives investigating a dissident republican parade, which took place in Londonderry on Easter Monday
The Real IRA vowed to continue its campaign of violence against the police and army in Northern Ireland during the 32 County Sovereignty Movement‘s annual commemoration at Creggan cemetery.
Several hundred dissident republican supporters watched as a colour party marched to the cemetery.
After wreaths were laid, a masked man wearing black combat clothing addressed the crowd and threatened further violence against police and soldiers.
He claimed to be speaking on behalf of the organisation Óglaigh na hÉireann and said they would continue to attack “Crown forces” and “British interests and infrastructure”.
His words were met with applause by the crowd.
A PSNI helicopter hovered overhead during the event but there was no attempt to move in as police officers kept their distance.
In a statement, police said they “took the decision to run a low-key operational response to the event”.
“Any alleged breaches of criminal law reported to police or coming to our attention will be rigorously and thoroughly investigated,” local area commander Chief Inspector Gary Eaton said.
“The PSNI work to ensure that all their actions are appropriate, proportionate and lawful. Our priorities are to protect the public, preserve public order, uphold the human rights of all and gather evidence of any wrong-doing,” he added.
The six men, who were arrested in connection with the incident on Monday afternoon, have been taken to Antrim Serious Crime Suite for questioning.
Police have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
WITH MANY THANKS TO: UTV NEWS.