Armistice Day protest by Republican SF ‘shameful’

A poster publicising the protest on November 11
A poster publicising the protest on November 11

A planned protest by Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) on Armistice Day at Lurgan police station has been branded “antagonistic” and “shameful”.

The republican party called for the protest on November 11 to show “opposition” to what it described as harassment of their members by local police.

However, the date and nature of the protest has been described as “deliberately disrespectful” and provocative.

Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie said that, while everyone, including RSF, has the right to protest, it was on Armistice Day that “we reflect upon those who fought for the right to protest and that is why we are respectful”.

“Those dissidents have the right to protest. It is clear that what they are doing is antagonistic and deliberately disrespectful.”

Describing the protestors as “reprobates who are trying to provoke” Mr Beattie said: “It is shameful and disgraceful.”

On Twitter there was a call for a counter protest but it was unclear who was behind this.

Mr Beattie appealed to those who wanted to embark on a counter protest: “Do not give these people the oxygen of publicity.”

He urged them instead to turn up “on the 11th hour of the 11th day to a dignified memorial”.

Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon DUP councillor Phil Moutray said: “To hear of a dissident republican protest on such a poignant weekend is deeply upsetting, but not surprising. These low-lifes have no regard for or understanding of the events on Armistice Day.

“Marking the end of the Great War and remembering our fallen soldiers is incredibly important. Young men from our shores, both unionist and nationalist, fought and lost their lives for the freedoms we have today.

“Any attempt to politicise the remembrance events should be rejected.”

Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly (SDLP) said she “just despaired that people were so self-interested that they would have no consideration for the local community”.

Urging people to “be responsible” Mrs Kelly described any counter protest as “counter productive”. “There are those within the loyalist community who have a laissez-faire attitude to supporting the security forces.”

Christopher Hamill, public relations officer for Thomas Harte Cumann (RSF) Lurgan said the date of the protest was of “no relevance”.

“There is nothing disrespectful about it. It will be a peaceful public protest. It was called in response to recent cases of harassment,” he said.

PSNI Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said: “We are aware of these reports and are monitoring the situation.”