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PSNI Probe Terror as masked men fire rifles in memory of hunger striker Mickey Devine in Derry

He was the tenth and last republican on hunger strike to die in prison after protesting about their belief the British government was criminalising them.

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INLA gunmen fire shots at a mural of Mickey Devine in Derry this week to mark the 40th anniversary of his death during  the 1981  hunger strike.

INLA gunmen fire shots at a mural of Mickey Devine in Derry this week to mark the 40th anniversary of his death during the 1981 hunger strike.

INLA gunmen fire shots at a mural of Mickey Devine in Derry this week to mark the 40th anniversary of his death during the 1981 hunger strike.

These are the terrifying images of masked gunmen back on the streets to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of a hunger striker.

The PSNI say they have launched an investigation which took place in broad daylight on Friday evening at a mural in Fern Park, Galliagh in Derry of INLA man Mickey Devine.

Devine, one of the founders of the INLA who came from the Creggan area of the city, died in the Maze on August 20, 1981 60 days after he joined the hunger strike.

He was the tenth and last republican on hunger strike to die in prison after protesting about their belief the British government was criminalising them.

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Mickey Devine

Mickey Devine

Mickey Devine

On Saturday night, UUP leader Doug Beattie described those behind the show-of-strength as "embarrassing freaks".

But in a statement posted on its social media, the Irish Republican Socialist Party - political wing of the fanatical INLA - said: "Michael Devine was the tenth and last of the republican prisoners to die during the 1981 prison protest.

"He was the third member of the INLA to die on hunger strike. Nine other republican prisoners died during the hunger strike."

In a video posted on social media two masked gunmen are seen with rifles and they are accompanied by seven more masked men, all dressed in black clothing, as they walk to the site of the mural.

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Masked men dressed in black

Masked men dressed in black

Masked men dressed in black

A small crowd can be seen and heard applauding the show of strength and family members of Mr Devine are also seen standing close by as they await to unveil a new plaque in his honour.

The two gunmen then fire off a number of shots into the air before marching back the way they came through the estate.

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The Irish National Liberation Army were a fanatical republican offshoot paramilitary group which carried out scores of terror attacks, including killing top Tory MP Airey Neave in the House of Commons car park in 1979, and killing 17 people in the Droppin' Well pub bombing in Ballykelly, Co Derry, in 1982.

Yesterday police confirmed they were investigating the show of strength.

Superintendent Catherine Magee said: "We are aware of reports circulating on social media of masked men holding what appear to be firearms.

"An investigation is underway. Anyone with information is asked to contact us on 101, quoting reference number 2840 of 20/08/21."

"Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online."

UUP leader Beattie retweeted the video of the shocking incident and commented: "State of these ghouls... embarrassing freaks".

DUP MLA Gary Middleton says the incident calls into question the "enforcement of law" in the city.

He told this paper: "The brazen display by republicans in Londonderry on Friday raises serious questions about the enforcement of law and order across our city.

"There can be no place for thuggery and intimidation within our communities. Neither can there be no-go areas. We need robust action.

"I have spoken with senior PSNI officers this morning. I would urge local people with information to pass it to the PSNI. We must root out this activity from our communities."

The display follows a similar incident in Derry in May when around 15 masked men, some carrying firearms, fired shots at a commemoration to hunger striker Patsy O'Hara.

O'Hara, who was also in the INLA, was the third prisoner to die in the 1981 hunger strike and a large crowd gathered at a mural on Bishop Street honouring the Derry man.

On that occasion pistols were also used and masked men could be seen on video picking up gun cases afterwards.

The police described that incident as "reckless" and "brazen".

They said: "The fact this occurred in the middle of a built-up area is even more shocking because any of the bullets fired could have ricocheted or strayed at any moment and into the nearby crowd, among which young children were present."

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

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