12 October 2006 Edition

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RIR event Protestors confronted by PSNI

Notorious regiment passes out

Members of campaign group An Fhirinne protested last week as British monarch Elizabeth Windsor viewed the final passing out parade of one of the most notorious British army regiments ever to have operated in the Six Counties - the Royal Irish Regiment, in Belfast.

On Friday, 6 October inside the King's Hall, the British Queen presented the RIR with the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for it's, "contribution to peace and stability", in the North.

The medal is second in order of merit to the Victoria Cross which can only be awarded for individual acts of courage in warfare.

The British Queen praised the, "sacrifice", of RIR and UDR members over the 36 years of the regiment's existence and noted their, "uncommon courage".

However as the woman who is Commander in Chief of all British Forces lavished these final praises on the RIR inside the building, nationalist protesters were being confronted by the PSNI outside.

As up to 50 protesters from the An Fhirinne, a campaign group whose aim is to highlight the collusion between the British state and unionist paramilitary death squads, attempted to stage a protest in front of the hall the PSNI blocked the road and stopped them.

Initially the PSNI, who blocked the road, allowed An Fhirinne to hold their protest but then warned the protesters they were breaking the law and began using an armoured surveillance vehicle to film them.

Robert McClenaghan of the group told An Phoblacht: "An Fhirinne is a campaign group made up of people who have been murdered as a result of state collusion with unionist death squads.

"As far as we are concerned the PSNI were involved in a political policing operation and used the excuse that the protest was illegal to gather intelligence on a peaceful protest".

Meanwhile Sinn Féin's Fra McCann said in a statement that, "very few nationalists will be sad to see the end of the RIR/UDR as many of it's members were involved in the killing of many Catholics".

He cited the Miami Show Band killings in 1975 and the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in May 1974, "as two of the worst atrocities of the troubles and members of the UDR were up to their necks in them"


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