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Julien Behal/PA Wire

Heavy garda presence expected at funeral of Omagh suspect

The Garda Commissioner has said he will not tolerate any paramilitary displays at the funeral of Seamus McKenna in Dundalk today.

GARDAÍ WILL BE out in force this morning as the funeral for dissident republican figure Seamus McKenna takes place in Ravensdale, near Dundalk.

The 58-year-old died in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin at the weekend, after he was injured in a scaffolding accident while working in the Co Louth town last week.

McKenna was named in a civil case taken by the families of the 29 people killed in the 1998 Omagh bombing. However, he was cleared of any liability in 2009. Four other men – Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly – were found to have been responsible.

Dissident republicans from across Ireland are expected to turn out for today’s funeral proceedings, which begin at the home of McKenna’s son Sean in the Armagh village of Silverbridge. The funeral procession will travel across the border to St Mary’s Chuch, Ravensdale for mass at 11am, with burial afterwards in the church cemetary.

Speaking on Monday, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said the force would not permit any dissident shows of force at the event: “There is one army in this country and there is one police service and we will ensure that remains the position”. He added:

We don’t like being present in any large numbers at a particularly sensitive time when people are burying loved ones, but we will not allow any displays of paramilitarism – either in this case or beyond.

Gardaí in riot gear at the funeral of Real IRA figure Alan Ryan in Donaghmede (Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire)

The Gardaí were criticised after shots were fired in the air ahead of the funeral of Real IRA member Alan Ryan in Donaghmede, north Dublin, last year. Over 20 people have since been arrested over those displays.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter issued a strongly-worded statement in the aftermath of those events, saying that the paramilitary trappings should not “blind people to the fact that what is at issue is criminal terrorism” carried on by people who want to “drag the people of this island back to a dark past”.

Read: Shatter slams ‘reprehensible events’ at Alan Ryan funeral >

Read: Man arrested over shots fired at Alan Ryan funeral >

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