State Force Provocation Continues in Newry
The first half of April has seen an upsurge in PSNI harassment in the Newry area. During the first sixteen days of the month, éirígí has been inundated with numerous reports of harassment taking place.
éirígí activists, former republican prisoners, adults, children and people going about their daily basis have all been targeted by the PSNI.
Below, éirígí has listed 21 incidents of harassment reported to the party so far this month. On some days there are more than one incident. As these incidents include only those reported to the party, it is likely the actual figure of people harassed by the PSNI in the Newry area during this period is higher.
- 1st April – A local man was taking his 7-year-old son to Gaelic this morning. The child plays for one of the local youth teams and was due to have a photo shoot with his young team mates. The PSNI stopped and searched them on the Camlough Road under Sections 21 & 24. They were searched for ammunition, wireless apparatus & transmitters. They were held for half an hour resulting in the young child missing his GAA photo shoot.
- 1st April – Later that evening another local man was stopped & searched in Patrick Street while going about his daily business. The militia targeted him using Sections 21 & 24 of the Justice & Security act. He also had to endure a humiliating body search in full public view. After being held for half an hour he was eventually allowed on his way.
- 3rd April – A young man was stopped and searched in the Rathfriland Road area. He was held for half an hour during which time he was questioned about his movements and searched.
- 4th April – A local man was stopped and searched at a checkpoint on the Belfast Road. He was held under “anti-terror” legislation and had his car ripped apart by PSNI gunmen. This patrol was particularly aggressive. The man was eventually allowed to go on his way after nothing was found.
- 5th April – A total of ten PSNI gunmen in two armoured cars and an armoured landrover surrounded four éirígí activists at gunpoint in Monaghan Street. At the time the activists were erecting “Britain Out Of Ireland” posters and were threatened with arrest if they didn’t stop what were clearly legitimate political activities. All the activists were searched for ammunition, wireless apparatus and transmitters and had their movements recorded. The PSNI paid particular attention to éirígí’s Newry representative, stating, “We have stopped you before Mr Murney haven’t we?” After being detained for half an hour the activists were allowed on their way and carried on with their political activities undeterred.
- 7th April – A republican was stopped & searched on the Rathfriland Road. He was held for 20 minutes, questioned, searched and had his movements recorded.
- 11th April – Another day in “normalised” Newry with the PSNI militia swamping the Carnagat, Parkhead and Derrybeg areas for several hours. One republican was arrested and taken from his family. Residents were harassed and intimidated for the duration of this exercise in “community policing”.
- 12th April – A local republican was stopped & searched twice within a half hour period. This incident happened in Canal Street. A short time later another local was also stopped & searched in the same area. A total of seven car loads of PSNI personnel were involved in these incidents.
- 13th April – The man who had been stopped & searched twice within half an hour the previous night was again stopped again on his way to work. He was held for half an hour, interrogated about his identity, movements and searched.
- 13th April – A local republican was stopped and searched in his car near the Dublin Road. He was held for up to 45 minutes while his car was ripped apart by members of the heavily armed PSNI.
- 13th April – éirígí’s Stephen Murney was targeted by a PSNI patrol in the Cornmarket area of Newry. As the PSNI personnel stepped from their armoured car, they immediately radioed for further reinforcements. Two more armoured cars arrived and all the PSNI personnel armed with assault rifles decamped from the vehicles to surround the political activist. He was questioned about his identity (even though they initially called him by his first name), his movements were noted and he was searched at gunpoint. Stephen began to note down the ID numbers of the paramilitaries but a number of them including a senior officer refused and hid their numbers from view stating that they “didn’t have to” give their numbers. Stephen was also threatened with arrest before eventually being allowed to continue on his way.
- 15th April – Yet more RUC/PSNI harassment of parents and children in Newry on Sunday morning. A local man was taking his young son to football practice when his car was surrounded by members of the state militia’s Tactical Support Group (TSG). He was held for quite some time while the so-called community police force searched him and his car. He had to phone for a friend to come and pick up the child so that he would not miss practice. When his friend arrived to collect the child he too was detained & searched by the PSNI.
- 15th April – A local republican and former republican prisoner was stopped in his car at a PSNI checkpoint in the centre of Newry. He was held, questioned and searched and his car was searched too.
- 16th April – A local republican was stopped & searched twice in the space of a few hours. The second time he was stopped in his car on the Camlough Road. His car was thoroughly searched and he was also searched. Three car loads of the PSNI were involved.
Speaking about the ongoing harassment éirígí’s Stephen Murney said, “These incidents are not surprising in the slightest. It’s clear that the PSNI remains just as unaccountable and unreformable as their predecessors in the RUC. It is noticeable that those parties that have given their support to the PSNI and who promised “to put manners” on that force have totally failed to do that. The PSNI attitude is clearly one of doing what they want, when they want.
“We are currently organising a number of initiatives to counter British state force harassment in Newry. In the very near future we will be holding a number of events to highlight this upsurge in harassment in the Newry area and we also will be launching a “Know Your Rights” campaign. The details will be publicised in the near future.”
- éirígí will be launching a 'Know Your Rights' card relating to stop & search procedures on Thursday 26th April. The launch will take place at 7pm in the Conway Education Centre, Conway Mill, Belfast.