In the Newsletter and in my local papers, it was reported that a parade, which took place in Fermanagh on New Years Day, was illegal. The parade was said to be illegal because no request had been made to the Parades Commission to hold it.
Last year, as the Policing and Justice devolution wrangle was at its height, Sinn Fein vigorously opposed any proposed scrapping of the Parades commission. Both Martin McGuiness and Gerry Adams stated that DUP proposals to scrap the commission as a pre-condition of the transfer of Police and Justice was totally unacceptable. What is “sauce for the Goose is sauce for the Gander,” as they say. Sinn Fein will not be able to find a political excuse for breaking the law, if that is what has happened.
This particular parade is an annual event. Normally, it would not be in the news. Sinn Fein attracted criticism about it because, in furtherance of their politics, they published a report about the parade on their website.
I have been to numerous 12th July parades and St. Patrick’s Day parades. This was the first time that I had witnessed a purely republican parade. I had been invited to it by a friend of mine, himself a republican. I decided to go, with a view to learning from the experience.
The location of the procession was in a remote area of the Fermanagh countryside, known as Moane’s cross, near Roslea. It is highly unlikely that there would have been any bystanders.
The story of the failed attack by the IRA on an RUC barracks more than 54 years ago is legendary within the republican movement. It formed part of the IRA border campaign of 1956-1962. Two of the attackers, Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon, were killed in the incident. There is a well known song about the incident called “Sean South from Garryowen.”
South was from Limerick. When I was in my teens, I lived with my family in Limerick. I have sung the song many times. It was not until I came to live in Fermanagh that, years later, I became aware that the song referred to an incident within living memory.
At the site where South and O’Hanlon were killed, located by the side of a road, is a monument. The procession began from a distance of about 150 yards and ended at the monument. When the procession ended, the commemoration continued in front of the memorial. The ceremony included the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann (the Irish national anthem) by a solo flautist, a speech by Sinn Fein Councillor, Sean Lynch and another speaker saying the Rosary. The use of the Rosary on such an occasion would have offended many who are of the Catholic faith. It also provided a stark illustration of how Sinn Fein uses sectarianism to promote its politics.
The concluding speech by Sean Lynch began with a mention of previous IRA campaigns. The results of those campaigns were presented as a triumph. There were no surprises there. Then the “Elephant” (the dissident IRA) swam into my mind. As you would expect, the dissidents were not mentioned in any of the speeches. However, they must have been in the thoughts of some of those present. Even the most tongue-artful republican would find it very difficult to distinguish the current dissident IRA campaign from previous IRA campaigns.
The last part of Lynch’s speech was about Sinn Fein’s future political prospects. Lynch discussed the general election on the horizon in the Republic of Ireland and the Assembly Elections in Northern Ireland, emphasising his party’s credentials as the only “All-Ireland” political party. He finished with a plea to young and intelligent people to come forward to join Sinn Fein.
After the ceremony, we went to the local hall where tea and food were waiting. In the hall were exhibited three old weapons of the sort used at the time of the 1957 attack. These included a Bren light machine Gun and a Thompson Sub-machine gun
It was an enjoyable and insightful afternoon.