The chairperson of the Newry Saoradh branch has been charged with taking part in an illegal dissident republican parade.
At Newry Magistrates Court on Wednesday, Anthony Coyle (57), from Main Avenue in the city, was one of seven defendants charged with taking part in an unnotified parade on 20 April last year.
The other six are: Micheal Doran (63), John F. Kennedy Park, Bessbrook; Aidean Hynes (39), Mourneview Park, Newry; Cliodhna McCool (27), Derrybeg Terrace, Newry; Martin Stephen Murney (36), Rath Gullion, Newry; Niall Reynolds (29), Woodside Green, Portadown and Oliver Patrick White (45), Barley Mews, Newry.
In line with recent guidance from the Lord Chief Justice, none of the defendants attended court where a prosecuting lawyer told District Judge Amanda Henderson there was “no proof” their summonses had been served.
District Judge Henderson deemed the summonses as not served.
None of the facts surrounding the charge were opened in court but it is understood it relates to a wreath-laying ceremony in the republican plot of St Mary’s Cemetery in Newry.
It was reported at the time that Coyle led the proceedings and was quoted as telling the people who had gathered: “Your attendance has ensured that we have made a dignified and fitting tribute to our IRA patriot dead despite crown force provocation.”
An evidence gathering police land rover was there at the time and the group accused the police of “scaremongering” by deeming the parade illegal just two days beforehand.
Speaking at the time a senior police officer claimed the parade was illegal as organisers had failed to comply with the law which requires the Parades Commission and PSNI to be notified of any parade or procession through the submission of form 11/1.
Chief Inspector Stephen McCauley said: “No such notification was received. Anyone who takes part in an unnotified parade is committing a criminal offence and can therefore be liable for prosecution.”
On its social media page at the time the organisation declared: “No amount of threats will deter revolutionary Republicans from remembering our fallen. We defy you, do your worst!!!”
The wreath laying procession organised by Saoradh was one of the number of similar events held both north and south of the border to commemorate the Easter Rising and came two days after a New IRA gunman murdered talented journalist Lyra McKee.
Lyra (29) was fatally shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry/Londonderry on April 18.
A similar march had been planned in the Maiden City by Saoradh but it was cancelled in the wake of the horrifying murder.
The New IRA has admitted responsibility for her death and while Saoradh denies that it is the political wing of the New IRA when it was launched in 2016, it boasted that it had the backing of New IRA prisoners.