There were minor disturbances outside Derry City Cemetery this afternoon before the beginning of an Easter republican commemoration.
A small number of petrol and paint bombs were thrown at PSNI Land Rovers at the roundabout at the top of Eastway in Creggan just before 3pm. One petrol bomb thrown by a young teenager struck a police vehicle.
Police had circled the area in advance of the parade and displayed banners on the side of the vehicles advising the crowd that the gathering was a unnotified one. Otherwise, the security force presence remained low, although a police helicopter continued to hover over the Cemetery throughout the event.
A several hundred strong crowd had assembled in the area this afternoon for the Easter commemoration organised by the Easter Commemoration Committee.
A 12 strong republican colour party entered the Cemetery followed by the John Brady Memorial Flute Band. Before the oration was delivered, seven children laid floral tributes to the seven signatories of the Easter Proclamation of 1916 at the city’s republican plot. Flowers and wreaths were also laid on behalf of the ‘IRA’ and the Irish Republican Welfare Association. Relatives of those buried at the plot also laid floral tributes.
The 1916 Proclamation was read out before a statement on behalf of republican prisoners in Maghaberry, Portlaoise and Hybebank prisons was read out.
The statement from the prisoners said that the ‘Ireland of today, was far removed from the one envisioned by the Proclamation of 1916 and that country remained shackled by imperialism, neo-colonialism and institutionalised sectarianism.
‘The country remained under the control of a wealthy minority and divided into two separate states and was still being subjected to policies of counter-insurgency imposed by the British and their lackeys. We must strive to organise and develop in order to achieve our aims. The commemoration of the sacrifice of 1916 provides the opportunity to do this and to continue to resist.’
The main oration at the commemoration was delivered by former republican prisoner Thomas Ashe Mellon.
In the address, he said: “Our own city has felt the revolutionary ethos of the men and women of 1916 for the last 100 years. Derry is the worst area for unemployment and indeed poverty so we remain committed to the principles of 32 county socialist republic in order to address the inequalities caused by capitalism.
“Freestate leader, Michael D Higgins said over the weekend that without the 1916 Rising he would not be head of an independent country. But, six counties of Ireland remain under military occupation by thousands of British soldiers, a similar number in the PSNI, MI5 operatives, a compliant judiciary and a loyalist prison service. Resistance against this shall continue.”
Describing the Northern Ireland Assembly as a “Brit puppet parliament,” the speaker continued: “Sinn Fein have abandoned republicans and have no right to the legacy of 1916. They are quislings, collaborators and traitors.”
Thomas Ashe Mellon also said he echoed calls made at a commemoration in County Tyrone on Sunday past for a “strong political vehicle to be built” that is capable of achieving both short and long-term objectives which he said are “anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and anti-reformist within working class communities and with a republican base.”
“Activists from this city must be at the core of this movement and our activist base is increasing and will articulate these ideas to create a 32 county socialist republic. We are the unfinished revolution. In the words of Seán Mac Diarmada, a signatory of the 1916 Proclamation, ‘Damn your concessions England, we want our country.”
The commemoration ended with the playing of ‘A Soldier’s Song.’