The éirígí activist in question, a family man from west Belfast, was attending a meeting on the outskirts of Belfast organised through his place of employment, which offers advice and support to those in need. Having concluded the meeting, which had been organised at very short notice, he immediately came upon a PSNI checkpoint. The only car stopped, he was asked for his driving license and ordered to pull over to the side of the road.
Once stopped, he was ordered out of his vehicle, which he believed was to facilitate an unwelcome and intrusive search of his person and/or his property. However, upon stepping out of his vehicle he was confronted by two plain clothed men, both of whom spoke with English accents. One of the men in question addressed the activist by his first name, said he had met him over a year ago at a business conference in England and asked if he remembered him.
The activist stated that he didn’t know the man, had never met him before and shouted over to the uniformed PSNI personnel that he wanted his license back or he was leaving. The spooks, realising that the éirígí activist was refusing to be intimidated, began to offer inducements. They stated that they were interested in learning more about éirígí, its future direction and his role within it, for which, they were prepared to offer money. They repeatedly prodded the activist to go down a nearby lane with them, which was within sight, and where a car was waiting.
Again the activist refused their approaches, demanded his license back and stated that he would be reporting the approach and the accompanying harassment to his solicitor. It was at this point that things became increasingly menacing. The spooks told him that they were offering him the ‘easy way’ but that, if necessary, they were prepared to do it the ‘hard way’ and that he would be well advised to accept their offer.
The activist told them that he wasn’t interested in their offers nor cowed by their threats. He again demanded his license back at which point the uniformed PSNI officer came over and menacingly asked if he had been drinking, which of course he hadn’t been. At this point the activist took his license back, got into his car and immediately phoned his employer and members of éirígí’s Ciorcal Náisiúnta to report the approach.
Speaking after the approach éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, condemned the ongoing harassment of éirígí activists and commended the response of the activist in question.
“Once again we bear witness to the nefarious agencies of the British state, those that work in the shadows, attempting to bribe, cajole and threaten those that work in the open. These forces have been central to the harassment, arrest, incarceration and murder of Irish republicans in Ireland for decades. In this instance, their sinister operation was directly facilitated by the PSNI, which seemingly remains as ‘ill-mannered’ as ever.
“The only person emerging from this incident with honour is the éirígí activist who not only refused the approaches of the MI5 operatives but had the courage to report them to his peers and comrades. We, in éirígí, would reiterate that people are not obliged to speak to, accompany nor work for these shadowy forces. They destroy the lives of their targets and informers, weaken communities and separate families. All approaches should be refused and immediately logged with appropriate legal professionals. There is no shame in being approached by these people; the only shame is in working for them.”
éirígí encourages anyone who is victim to this, or any other type of harassment, to not suffer in silence. Shine a light on the shadows. Don’t be spooked by the spooks.