The Derrybeg estate in Newry was once again placed under siege by the PSNI last night [Friday], provoking some of the most serious rioting in the nationalist area in many years.
A convoy of armoured jeeps descended on the working class housing estate yesterday evening and began sealing off the entrance to the area. They also had a large presence in the Carnagat and Parkhead areas, as well as sealing off several other main roads around Newry.
The PSNI claimed they were responding to a bomb alert at the Camlough Road roundabout, which is, in fact, some distance from Derrybeg. However, local residents, éirígí activists and elected representatives were able to walk right up to the roundabout during the ‘alert’, with traffic flowing freely around it.
As expected, the PSNI spent their time goading young republicans who had gathered nearby. Over four hours of rioting ensued as the youths responded to the attempted intimidation with a range of missiles.
As a direct result of the PSNI actions, there was also a car accident, which resulted in a young man being taken to hospital with minor injuries. Despite being in the vicinity, the PSNI did not even respond to the incident and it was left to éirígí activists and local residents to clear the road and remove the damaged car to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians.
In a blatant attempt to draw young people into further confrontation, the PSNI then decided to enter Derrybeg itself, a tactic which failed miserably.
éirígí activists and other residents remained at the scene for the duration of the trouble and confronted the PSNI as to why they were even in the estate.
After leaving Derrybeg for a short period, the PSNI returned in armoured landrovers in another attempt to stoke tensions.
This time, however, éirígí activists placed themselves in front of the landrovers and refused to let the political police enter the estate. As the activists were joined by other residents, a standoff ensued before the PSNI were forced to admit defeat and, embarrassingly, withdraw.
When a member of the so-called District Policing Partnership arrived on the scene, she informed the residents and éirígí activists that she had been speaking to a senior PSNI officer. She passed on the information that the officer in question told her that “they would be dealing with the people who had surrounded a landrover”. When an éirígí activist challenged her as to what her colleague in the PSNI meant by saying they would “deal” with people and “Did it mean the PSNI would be using violence?”, she refused to answer, stating “I won’t speak to you” before leaving the area.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Serious questions need to be asked as to why the PSNI felt the need to be anywhere near the Derrybeg estate in the first place, considering the alleged alert was nowhere near the area.
“A pattern seems to be emerging with incidents like this. Several weeks ago, the PSNI used similar tactics in the exact same area, provoking a riot situation. Each time there is an alleged security alert in Newry, the PSNI use it as an excuse to arrive in force to seal off the Derrybeg estate, close roads, antagonise youths and cause riot situations.
“The blame for this situation lies squarely with the PSNI and we commend our activists and the people of Derrybeg who stood shoulder to shoulder and refused to allow the PSNI, who were intent on causing trouble, to enter their area. People across the Six Counties who are suffering due to the unwanted presence of the PSNI should take a leaf from the book of the people of Derrybeg.
“éirígí will fully support any community that is resisting the repressive tactics of Britain’s police force in Ireland.”