A hardline Republican group’s march through the streets of Dublin, just days after the murder of journalist Lyra McKee, has been described by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as “beneath contempt”.
Supporters of the group, Saoradh, marched through the capital last weekend dressed in paramilitary-style apparel.
The march came just a day after the group issued a statement claiming that a “Republican volunteer” was attempting to “defend people” from the PSNI, Northern Ireland’s police force, when McKee – a renowned journalist – was shot and died in Derry last Thursday night.
On their website, the group said: “A Republican volunteer attempted to defend people from the PSNI/RUC. Tragically a young journalist, Lyra McKee, was killed accidentally.
“This outcome is heartbreaking and we extend our sincerest sympathy to the family, friends and loved ones of the deceased.”
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar condemned the marches by the group over Easter weekend, and said that the group “dishonoured” the rebels who battled for freedom in 1916, in a series of tweets on Sunday night.
Mr Varadkar posted: “The actions by Saoradh in Dublin this weekend are beneath contempt. People north and south are mourning the death of a brave campaigner and journalist, Lyra McKee.
“On Sunday we marked the heroes of 1916 who put Ireland on the path to democracy.
“Others like Saoradh want to return Ireland to a violent and troubled past. We can never allow this to happen.
“Saoradh should apologise for their actions this weekend.
The actions by Saoradh in Dublin this weekend are beneath contempt. People North and South are mourning the death of a brave campaigner and journalist, Lyra McKee. And on Sunday we marked the heroes of 1916 who put Ireland on the path to democracy.— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) April 21, 2019
“The right to assemble and march was won by the women and men of 1916 who fought for freedom and the democracy we have today.
“This weekend [Saoradh] dishonoured their legacy and memory. It was an insult to the Irish people.”
In response to Saoradh’s march in Dublin and their statement, the public – as well as friends and family of Lyra McKee –hit back in their own protest, covering Saoradh’s HQ in Derry with several red handprints on Monday morning.
The social media accounts of Saoradh were suspended by tech giants Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday morning.