In recent months, éirígí in Newry has been to the fore in exposing and opposing the unchanged nature of British policing in occupied Ireland.
As a result, party activists and supporters in the area have been at the receiving end of PSNI assaults, intimidation, stop and searches, house raids, threats and provocation.
Activists have highlighted this harassment by organising protests and leaflet drops, erecting banners, stickers and posters and actively challenging the PSNI on the streets when they are engaged in such behaviour.
One example in particular is indicative of the level of harassment the PSNI has been engaged in over the last few months. éirígí in Newry were recently contacted by a local republican who was concerned at the amount of unwanted attention he has been receiving at the hands of the British police force.
The victim has been stopped and searched no less than 62 times over a period of just 7 months by the PSNI, using various forms of repressive British legislation.
On one occasion, the man’s 14-year-old child was also stopped under Section 43 of the ‘Terrorism Act’. All of these incidents have occurred while the local republican has been going about his normal, daily business.
As well as being stopped and searched on a regular basis, he has also had his house targeted in a dawn raid, with the PSNI presenting a warrant claiming to be searching for firearms. Not surprisingly, nothing was found.
The latest incident in a litany of politically-inspired harassment occurred on Saturday [January 22] when the victim was stopped an astonishing three times in a two and-a-half hour period in the Kiln Street, Mill Street and Sugar Island areas of Newry.
The day previous he had been stopped in the city centre, where he was given a generic contact card instead of the written record the PSNI is required to fill out during instances of stop and search. The card advised the recipient to contact the local barracks for a full record of the harassment. It is possible the PSNI is now using this procedure in an attempt to isolate republicans in the confines of a barracks.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “While it’s astonishing that so much harassment is being directed towards a single individual, there are many more republicans in the Newry area and across the Six Counties who are suffering persecution at the hands of the PSNI.
“Is this the ‘new beginning’ to policing we were promised? Is this the civic, accountable police service the establishment parties desperately tried to sell to working class nationalist communities?”
Mac Cionnaith added: “While the PSNI’s cheerleaders tell us there are only ‘a few bad apples’ within the ranks of the force, it is situations like this man’s that rubbish their claims. It is clear that the PSNI is accountable to no-one other than the British government whose presence in Ireland it is duty bound to protect.
“The British police force in Ireland was rotten to the core when it was called the RIC, it was rotten to the core when it was called the RUC and it is rotten to the core under its current guise of the PSNI.
“It’s time for people to take a stand and make our voices heard loud and clear that we will not sit back and let these pro-British paramilitaries continue with their repressive actions. Those in positions of responsibility should withdraw their support for the PSNI and stand by the people they claim to represent rather than silently watching them being, once again, labelled a suspect community.
“éirígí will continue with its Different Name, Same Aim campaign in an effort to highlight the unacceptable nature of the PSNI.
“We commend the Newry republican in question for remaining steadfast in the face of this intimidation and we encourage anyone who is suffering similar treatment to contact a local éirígí activist and to have the incidents logged with their solicitor.
“éirígí will stand shoulder to shoulder with the victims of Crown Forces harassment. All those with an interest in human rights should do likewise.”