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Brian Lawless/PA

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During the republican hunger strikes in 1981, 10 prisoners died, including Bobby Sands

Police have said they have launched an investigation after a dissident republican march in Newry, County Down, breached parade conditions.

Saoradh held the march to commemorate republican hunger strikers on Saturday.

The Parades Commission had allowed the march to take place but imposed a number of conditions, including no paramilitary-style clothing to be worn.

Ch Insp Nigel Henry said the ruling was breached “on a number of occasions, despite numerous verbal warnings”.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer added: “The aim of the policing operation was to keep people safe and facilitate the parade in line with the law.

“A full evidence gathering operation was in place and an investigation into the breaches has commenced.”

A spokesperson for the Parades Commission said it was now a matter for police.

“The commission noted that this was the first time this parade was held, and that while the commission has no powers to ban a parade, its conduct will necessarily influence the commission’s decision about any future event,” they added.

What is Saoradh?

The PSNI previously described Saoradh, a political party, as the voice of the New IRA.

In April, the New IRA said its members were responsible for the killing of Lyra McKee.

Founded in 2016, Saoradh has the support of prisoners from the dissident group referred to as the New IRA in Maghaberry and Portlaoise prisons.

Several high-profile dissidents, including Colin Duffy and Nuala Perry, have also been linked to the party. It is chaired by Brian Kenna.

According to its constitution, Saoradh’s objective is to “effect an end to Britain’s illegal occupation of the six counties” and establish a 32-county Irish socialist republic.

The party has been highly critical of Sinn Féin in the past, with its chairman describing members as “false prophets who have been defeated and consumed by the very system they claim to oppose”.

Saoradh, which has offices in Belfast and Londonderry, campaigns for the release of all republican prisoners.

The parade started on Kilmorey Street in the city and finished at Raymond McCreesh Park, which is named after an IRA hunger striker who died in the Maze Prison in 1981.

During the republican hunger strikes in 1981, 10 prisoners died, including Bobby Sands.

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Debates over the name of Raymond McCreesh Park have gone on since it was opened in 2001

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) councillor David Taylor said he was “both angry and disgusted” about the alleged breaches.

“Prior to the event, I had made representations to the Parades Commission outlining my concerns that the march was designed to raise community tensions and inflict further trauma on innocent victims of IRA violence,” he said.

“Unfortunately, my fears were justified as a consequence of the unacceptable events that occurred in Newry.”



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