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13 October 2014

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Cumann na mBan honoured in Liverpool despite police restrictions

THE women of Cumann na mBan were remembered in Liverpool, England, on Saturday despite attempts by Merseyside Police to disrupt the event by placing restrictions on the parade.

Assistant Chief Constable Darren Martland warned organisers of the commemoration that Cumann na mBan, which is no longer in existence, "is a proscribed organisation" and that it is an offence to "wear uniforms, carry flags or wear brooches" linked to the organisation.

Founded in 1914, Cumann na mBan played a vital role in the struggle for Irish freedom with its members taking part in the Easter Rising and Tan War.

Many women from Liverpool's Irish community took part in the Easter Rising of 1916, including Nora Thornton, Kathy Doran, Francis Downey, Peggy Downey, Anastasia MacLoughlin, Kathleen Murphy and Rose Ann Murphy.

Commemoration organisers Cairde na hÉireann Liverpool reluctantly agreed to abide by the restrictions after correspondence with the police, but hit out at the decision to threaten the organisers with arrest or prosecution.

Cairde described Merseyside Police's actions as a "deliberate attempt to restrict the Irish community’s rights to commemorate our heritage and history."

"We view Merseyside Police’s stance on this matter vindictive, disproportionate and criminalises a whole generation of Liverpool Irish women and men who contributed to the foundation of an independent Irish state. Cumann na mBan is an organisation that exists only within the text books of Liverpool Irish history and poses a threat to no one in the community," Cairde said in a statement.

Despite the restrictions the commemoration went ahead. Six flute bands led hundreds of participants in procession through the city to Pier Head where Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann delivered the main speech.

Cumann na mBan Liverpool 2014

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