A daylight march by a Republican group affiliated to the New IRA, the dissident terrorist group who have reportedly admitted responsibility for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee, was “beneath contempt” and is “an insult to the Irish people”, the Taoiseach has said.
The military-style rally took place outside the GPO in Dublin city last Saturday, less than two days after McKee, a rising journalist and activist, was killed in Derry.
The PSNI have said that they believe the New IRA was responsible. The self-styled dissident group, the Irish News have reported, have admitted responsibility for McKee’s murder. They used a recognisable codeword in their contact with the publication.
Saoradh, an organisation affiliated with the New IRA, caused outrage on Friday after it released a statement describing Ms McKee’s death as an accident. On Saturday, it held a rally in Dublin city centre, sparking condemnation from many on social media.
About 100 people attended, many dressed in green, military-style costumes.
Organisers said it had been planned a month earlier. Gardaí said that the group had not required a permit to assemble.
Paul Kehoe, the defence minister, has described the march as “absolutely absurd”.
“I duly condemn what happened here [on Saturday] during a march. People purporting to be members of some republican army, which they are absolutely not,” he said, adding that the only army in Ireland was the Irish Defence Forces.
“The actions by Saoradh in Dublin this weekend are beneath contempt . . . The right to assemble and march was won by the men and women of 1916 who fought for freedom and the democracy we have today. This weekend they dishonoured their legacy and memory. It was an insult to the Irish people,” Leo Varadkar said, adding that the proclamation “condemns those who in the name of Ireland would dishonour the flag through cowardice or inhumanity”.
Charlie Flanagan, the justice minister, said that the demonstration on Saturday “had been very disturbing”.
“I know that all right-thinking embers of the public are sickened at the sight of a small number of people in paramilitary uniforms, particularly after the horrific killing of a young journalist, Lyra McKee, on Thursday night,” Flanagan said.
By Colin Gannon