A spokesperson for éirígí in the Newry area, Stephen Murney, said, “The PSNI, in a classic piece of media management which went unchallenged by the main news media outlets, issued a terse statement on Monday 13th August about a blast on the Lisraw Road. That PSNI statement said that detectives based at Ardmore in Newry were investigating reports of an explosion at a phone box and that the extent of the damage was too great to have been caused by a firework.”
Murney added, “At no time since last Sunday has the PSNI mentioned that the seat of the explosion was less than twenty yards away from the entrance to St Patrick’s catholic church at Ballyargan. Many people will no doubt find it remarkable that the PSNI did not deem the actual location of this blast and its close proximity to a catholic church to be of any factual relevance or to be indicative of a sectarian motive from those responsible for causing the explosion.
“This is even more remarkable given that St Patrick’s Church has previously been subjected to other sectarian attacks in the past. St Patrick’s is situated in a fairly isolated location and is located in the middle of a triangle bounded by Markethill, Tandragee and Scarva. A decade ago, unionist slogans were daubed on the church and gravestones in the adjoining cemetery were broken on several occasions, and in the mid-90s it was also fire-bombed.”
Murney also questioned why no representatives from the SDLP or SF appear to have publicly questioned the PSNI version of events.
He said, “Furthermore, one must also ask why those constitutional national politicians who constantly claim to hold the PSNI to account have failed to publicly challenge the PSNI’s reporting of last Sunday’s explosion. Why have SDLP and SF members of the Policing Board and the so-called Police and Community Safety Partnerships failed to publicly take the PSNI to task for the deliberate cover-up of what, to all intents and purposes, was an attack with obvious sectarian motivation? How can such media management, misreporting and cover-up by the PSNI be considered to be compatible with the safety of any community.”
In conclusion, Murney said, “Although Sunday Masses are not held there, the explosion beside St Patrick’s church clearly suggests there is a small unionist grouping within the Markethill, Tandragee and Scarva area intent on stirring up sectarian strife. That the PSNI is seeking to downplay that reality is a matter which should be of major concern to all.”