As éirígí correctly predicted earlier this week, several thousand unionists and scores of bands brought Newry to a standstill on Friday [April 17] as they engaged in what can only be described as an orgy of sectarian triumphalism.
Many residents found themselves hemmed into their own streets surrounded by a ring of steel enforced by the PSNI with a helicopter constantly hovering over the area. The PSNI’s notorious Tactical Support Group [TSG] were strategically positioned in adjoining side streets keeping a watchful eye on the local population while they facilitated the sectarian bigot fest.
Many people found themselves unable to leave their homes either through fear or because of the massive British security operation that was in place. Motorists attempting to enter Newry, via the Belfast Road, one of Newry’s main arterial routes, found it almost impossible to do so for several hours due to the unionist takeover of a significant part of the mainly nationalist town.
Commenting on the sectarian coat-trailing exercise éirígí’s Newry representative Stephen Murney said, “I was present along with a few other local people to observe this sectarian march. Immediately we found ourselves under close surveillance by the PSNI. A large part of Newry resembled a ghost town as roads were blocked and local people were prevented from going about their normal activities.
“It’s time these sectarian parades came to an end. They are unwanted and unwelcome. In Newry there is a deep sense of anger and frustration from local people who have to suffer year in and year out due to these sectarian marches”.
Murney continued, “This is only the start of the marching season and Friday night’s scenario will be repeated in Newry again and again the coming summer months.
“There is no logic in bussing in thousands of loyalists from across the six counties to march in an area with which they have absolutely no affinity. The only thing it does is to create tension.
Concluding Stephen added, “After a reduction in these parades some years ago, they have managed to resurface in greater numbers and with greater frequency each year which is worrying for the future. “