Monday, 21 March 2011
PSNI Harassment: Did Someone Mention Manners?
On Friday night [March 18], a republican activist, who happens to be a supporter of éirígí, was walking in the centre of Newry when he was surrounded by the PSNI in three cars and an armoured landrover. The heavily armed officers decamped from their vehicles and proceeded to detain and question the activist under section 24 of the British government’s Justice and Security Act.
They held the young man for over half an hour before allowing him to continue on his way.
The activist in question has been stopped and searched roughly sixteen times since January, during these incidents he has been assaulted, arrested and threatened. On one occasion, the PSNI unsuccessfully attempted to recruit him as an informer.
All these incidents have been logged with the victims’ solicitor.
The following night éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney along with two friends suffered a similar ordeal.
éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said: “Myself and 2 friends were stopped and searched under section 24 on Saturday night [March 19]. I was threatened with arrest after I gave my details, they claimed they weren’t the right details despite the fact that I have been stopped on numerous occasions. We were then searched for ‘ammunition, transmitters and wireless apparatus’.
“My Two friends were each given a blue search record slip, but I was handed a small card and told to present myself to the barracks. One of my friends asked why was I getting one of those and not a blue slip the officer replied, “because he’s special.” I believe they are issuing these generic cards in an attempt to isolate republicans in the confines of a barracks.
“Then as a parting shot one of the officers said that we ‘better get used to it because we’ll be seeing them a lot more often’. If anything, the levels of PSNI harassment and intimidation have got worse in recent times. Where is the accountability we were promised? Where are the manners we were told would be put on this force? Judging by the harassment that has taken place this weekend, it’s getting to the stage where local republicans are unable to venture into the centre of their own city.
“Given that these experienced human-rights abusers maintain all the apparatus of counter-insurgency at their disposal, including tens of thousands of plastic bullets, access to draconian legislation and CS gas, the nationalist and republican population should treat them with nothing but the hostility they deserve.
“In the past few weeks, éirígí in Newry has been inundated with complaints from people who are being harassed and intimidated by these thugs in uniform on a regular basis. It’s clear that the reason these victims are coming to éirígí for assistance is because they know that constitutional parties are unable or unwilling to speak out against it and can do nothing about it.”
Murney added: “We again call on the constitutional nationalist parties to withdraw their support for this unaccountable force. The function of any police force is to uphold the legitimacy and authority of the state it operates in, it is ridiculous to be of the opinion that any involvement in British policing structures will change that.
“éirígí will continue to stand up for the victims of these human-rights abusers and to campaign against political policing.
“The repressive actions of the PSNI are constantly proving that éirígí’s analysis of British policing in Ireland is correct.”