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Political fall-out over Derg parade rumbles on
WEST Tyrone MLA Ross Hussey has requested a meeting with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) following its decision not to prosecute anybody involved in an IRA commemoration in Castlederg last August.
Mr Hussey has described the PPS determination as “seriously flawed”, but local Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Ruairí McHugh, has dismissed his comments as “political posturing.”
Explaining the decision a PPS spokesperson said, “Following careful consideration of the police file, in this case a decision has been taken not to prosecute the two individuals reported as there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of convictions.”
Mr Hussey said there is widespread “disgust and anger” among the unionist community in Castlederg, which he will fully express to the PPS when they meet.
Tensions had been high ahead of the West Tyrone Volunteers event on August 11 to mark the 40th anniversary of the deaths of IRA men Seamus Harvey and Gerard McGlynn, killed when a bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely in 1973.
Around 300 republicans took part in the commemoration while a similar number on the unionist side held a counter-protest at Castlederg’s cenotaph. Guest speaker at the republican event was Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly while high profile figures like Jim Allistair, Arlene Foster and Gregory Campbell showed solidarity with protesters.
Following the commencement of the commemoration parade, those opposed to it marched to police barricades holding a banner bearing the words ‘29 innocent victims of IRA terrorism – Where is our justice?’
Afterwards, complaints about military trappings and banners carried by those taking part in the republican commemoration were made with calls for those involved to be prosecuted.
Mr Hussey said the decision by the PPS not to prosecute has caused anger among the IRA victims and unionist community in the Castlederg area.
He added, “This decision is flawed. I have asked to meet the PPS and hopefully that will take place in the not too distant future.
“There clearly were breaches of the determinations and we will be calling on the PPS to justify their decision. I am in regular contact with the Derg Valley Victims Voice and I can understand their frustration, anger and upset. They had to endure an unnecessary parade glorifying terrorism and now are being failed by the PPS who should have taken strong and decisive action.”
Cllr McHugh said Mr Hussey’s stance is a “continuation of the internal battle that is going on within political unionism”.
He continued, “The republican commemoration in Castlederg last August is being conveniently used as a mechanism for political posturing. The PPS is an independent body and has found that there is no case to answer. This shows the attempts by political unionism to bring prosecutions were fundamentally flawed.
“All political unionist representatives should be looking at the entire marching issue in Castlederg and be seeking to resolve issues around parading.”