Six republican prisoners on leave took '˜part in dissident displays'

Dissident republicans granted weekend leave from prison have boasted about taking part in illegal Easter Rising demonstrations in Lurgan and Coalisland, it has been claimed.

Thursday, 7th April 2016, 3:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2016, 3:36 pm
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast , UK - March 26, Pictured is the Republican Sinn Fein commemorative march as it makes its way from the Kilwilkee Estate to St Colemans Cemetary on March 26, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye )

Six convicted terrorists made the claims on return to prison, said Adrian Cochrane-Watson, an Assembly candidate for the UUP.

“I have met with Prison Service staff who left me in no doubt about their revulsion that these six individuals were allowed out of Roe House and Foyle House,” he said.

“On their return to Maghaberry these terrorist thugs boasted about their participation in the illegal demonstrations in Lurgan and Coalisland.”

On Easter Sunday in Coalisland around 60 men and woman paraded in military-style uniform for an Easter Rising commemoration.

The march was organised by the National Republican Commemoration Committee, which has ties to prisoners held on the Roe Four landing at Maghaberry Prison, who are aligned to a group calling itself the IRA. In Lurgan masked men paraded for a march organised by Republican Sinn Fein. After the display a masked man read out a threat from the Continuity IRA against members of the security forces.

First Minister Arlene Foster was critical of police following the displays, saying they should have acted to stop the parades.

She said: “I want to see these people behind bars. No place for masked men in Northern Ireland.”

The PSNI said it gathered photographic evidence at the parades and was investigating “suspected breaches of Parades Commission determinations”.

Mr Cochrane-Watson said the thought that terrorists would be granted concessions after the murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay in March was hard to take. “These are the same convicted terrorists who laughed and joked in the face of prison officers at the recent murder of their colleague in east Belfast,” he said.

Mr Cochrane-Watson said he would be seeking answers from the Justice Minister.

The Department of Justice has not confirmed if the six inmates in question were granted home leave over Easter weekend.

A spokesman said: “Prisoners coming to the end of their sentences can apply for periods of pre-release home leave.

“With the exception of the pre-planned Christmas scheme, these periods of home leave can take place at any time throughout the year.”