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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Militant's Funeral Mirrors New Irish Troubles

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Catholics united Monday at the funeral of an anti-British militant slain in week-long riots that left Northern Ireland's peace process in shreds.


Several thousand mourners walked behind the hearse bearing 35-year-old Dermot "Tonto" McShane in Londonderry, the province's second-largest and mostly Catholic town.


McShane was fatally wounded Saturday when an army armored vehicle rammed a barricade being used by several men lobbing gasoline bombs. His coffin was covered with an Irish flag and buried in the cemetery plot reserved for members of the outlawed Irish National Liberation Army, a rival splinter gang of the IRA.


In a sign of how anger at the British government's handling of last week's Protestant marches has united Catholics, the mourners included Martin McGuinness, a senior figure in the IRA-allied Sinn Fein party, and John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party, Sinn Fein's moderate rival for Catholic votes.


"It's been a dark week in our city. The death of Dermot revives memories of years past," said the Reverend Con McLoughlin, who conducted the funeral at St. Columba's Roman Catholic church.


"Scarcely in the 21 years that I have been here have I found people so saddened and depressed almost to the point of despair," the priest told the packed church. "Almost every family in this parish had suffered in the course of 'the troubles.' The hope had been that, just maybe, the nightmare was over."


In London, Sir Patrick Mayhew, the senior British official in Northern Ireland, announced a wide-ranging review of the routing and policing of parades, but seemed pessimistic about what could be achieved.


"There are no immediately obvious answers," Mayhew told the House of Commons.


Some other lawmakers, however, pointed accusingly at leaders of the pro-British unionist parties.


"We in this house are entitled to expect that fellow parliamentarians ... show a higher standard of leadership than we saw last week -- higher leadership than simply saying, 'there is a crowd, I must follow it,'" said Sir David Steel of the Liberal Democratic Party.


Disorder abated but didn't disappear from the streets of the British-ruled province overnight. In Belfast, Catholic nationalists threw about 50 gasoline bombs at a police station early Monday morning. No one was hurt.


In Downpatrick, the town where St. Patrick is believed to be buried 30 kilometers southeast of Belfast, Catholic rioters threw gasoline bombs at police and burned cars. Three tanker trucks, all empty, were set afire at a fuel depot in Armagh, 55 kilometers southwest of Belfast.


In London, police said arrested seven men and seized enough material to make three dozen bombs early Monday. Commander John Grieve, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, said it was "a significant success in our struggle against Irish Republican Army terrorism."


Violence erupted July 7 when police blocked members of the Orange Order, Northern Ireland's dominant Protestant fraternal group, from marching through a Catholic part of Portadown, a town 25 miles southwest of Belfast.


Militant Protestants subjected Northern Ireland to four days of rioting, and police backed down on Thursday and forced the march through the Catholic area. Catholic fury then spilled onto the streets.


The mayhem was a blow to Northern Ireland's tourism industry. A cruise liner, the Southern Cross, expected to dock this weekend in Londonderry announced, Monday that its 850 passengers and 450 crew had demanded a different course after watching TV news reports on board.


The Irish Republican Army denied that it planted the bomb that exploded early Sunday outside the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen -- the first in Northern Ireland since the IRA stopped its violent campaign against British rule in 1994.