Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Maghaberry Protest Intensifies

It has been confirmed that Gavin Coyle has now joined Thomas and Desmond Hamill, Martin Mc Gilloway and Austin Creggan on Dirty Protest in the SSU, Maghaberry.

These 5 Republican prisoners are Roe 4 prisoners and are now adhering to the new policy by Roe 4 where by any prisoner aligned with Roe 4 will join their comrades on protest no matter where the administration of Maghaberry hold them.

The blame for this new development can be laid directly at David Ford, he has continually ignored the Republican prisoners on protest in Maghaberry and instead has delayed any productive developments.
This protest could be resolved very easily if Ford was to implement the August Agreement.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

PSNI Death Threat Against Newry Activist Condemned

The latest news from éirígí

Members of the PSNI in Newry have made a direct threat to kill a member of éirígí in the Newry area.

The threat was made on Friday evening [October 26] when éirígí's Newry spokesman Stephen Murney was stopped and searched by members of the PSNI just minutes after he left a community event in the town. The well attended event was being held to promote suicide awareness and prevention.

During the stop and search in Monaghan Street, one member of the armed PSNI unit menacingly told Murney, “I’ll put a bullet in your f***ing head.”

Commenting on the incident, Murney said, “I was stopped and searched by the PSNI in Monaghan Street shortly after leaving the suicide awareness event. It was during that search that a member of the PSNI said he would put a bullet in my head.

“Given the history of collusion between the Six-County police force and loyalist death squads, I am taking the threat seriously. In the past, similar threats were made to people and, in many cases, those threats were later carried out by state forces acting in conjunction with their loyalist proxies.

“While the threat is a worrying development it certainly won’t be deterring me from my political activities. I will be recording the details of this threat with my legal representatives and with the human rights group CAJ.”

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “Such behaviour by the PSNI is totally unacceptable, although it is far from surprising. The PSNI has inherited the old bully-boy tactics of the RUC. Indeed, half of the current manpower of the PSNI who patrol the streets of the Six Counties were themselves members of the RUC. It is little wonder that they feel that they can act with impunity.

“Constitutional nationalist parties have created a smokescreen of cover for the PSNI to engage in widespread harassment and human rights abuses. Contrary to what those parties state, incidents such as these confirm the reality that the PSNI is merely the old RUC dressed up in new uniforms with a new name.”

Saturday, 27 October 2012

éirígí Newry Slam Benefit Appeal Hearings Move

Newry Court House

éirígí in Newry have expressed their concern after it was revealed that benefits appeal hearings are to be moved, and will now be held in Newry Court House rather than Ballybot House.

Ballybot House is a widely used, purpose built, multi-purpose community resource centre located in the city’s Cornmarket area. A number of local people and community groups contacted the party after hearing of the move.

Commenting on the development éirígí’s Newry representative Stephen Murney said, “It can be a daunting enough experience to appear in front of a benefit appeals panel but this decision to relocate to a heavily fortified Court House will do nothing but cause additional stress and worry to many of those working class people who will be affected by this decision. The people who contacted éirígí are quite rightly concerned about the negative impact this move will have on ordinary citizens, the vast majority of whom have never entered a Court House in their lives.

“Entering a Court House is not a pleasant experience and indeed this move could be seen as a very carefully designed plan to try and deter people from appealing draconian decisions regarding their benefits. Indeed, this is very clearly a not so subtle attempt to portray those struggling to maintain their welfare entitlements as criminals.

“Those in positions of power seem to be hell-bent on using scare tactics against those who are being directly affected by the Tory/Stormont cuts. The Stormont poverty enforcers are threatening to strip people of their benefits if they refuse to do unpaid labour through the Workfare scheme and now benefits appeal hearings will be held within a fortified British Court House.”

Murney concluded, “Not only is the Stormont administration willingly implementing Tory cuts on behalf of the British government in Westminster, but now they are using heavily fortified courts as part of their anti-social programme. The extent that those responsible for this mess will go to seems to know no bounds. It appears that they will try everything and anything to prevent the sick, the disabled and the unemployed from accessing their rightful entitlements.”


A County Tyrone republican has lashed out at the justice system in the North of Ireland after charges against him and four others were quietly dropped by Crown prosecutors this week — after more than 14 months held without bail at Maghaberry prison.

The charges against Coalisland man Kevin Barry Murphy were based on alleged forensic evidence linking him to a claimed arms find in County Armagh in April last year.

Another man, Patrick Carty from Dungannon, was also freed after the RUC/PSNI  and prosecutors abandoned claims that his fingerprints were discovered on a mortar rocket.

Relatives and friends of the two men, who packed into the public gallery at Armagh Magistrates Court, were filmed entering and leaving the court complex by Special Branch police.

Murphy was previously cleared by a court of IRA charges in 2004 after it emerged that a police informer had been used to lure him and three others to a site where a rocket launcher had been hidden.

He said he had been interned by remand [‘awaiting trial’] and denied ever being a member of the ‘Real IRA’.

“In the past I have been acquitted of being a member of that organisation,” he said.

“The important point is that for the last 14 months we have asked for the fingerprint evidence and they have failed to produce it. It is tantamount to internment by remand.

“Someone said we were guilty of something without producing the evidence. That is the strategy being used against republicans. In the eighties we had the super-grass trials, in the nineties we had shoot-to-kill and today they are using internment by remand.”

He also called for the role of the RUC/PSNI and the forensic scientists used in his arrest and detention to be examined.

“An independent body needs to look at how those who step outside the box, those who are not pro-Good Friday Agreement republicans, end up in Maghaberry,” he said.

“What happened to us is also an indictment of constitutional nationalism which has remained silent on the issue.

“It’s an indictment of the new political dispensation on policing and justice.”

The two men have spent their detention at Maghaberry prison in County Antrim, where they joined in the ongoing no-wash protest against criminalisation by other political prisoners held there.

Arms charges against three other men were also dropped this week, although they continue to be held at Maghaberry without bail.

Mr Murphy’s lawyer, Peter Corrigan said the charges had been dropped to avoid having to finally reveal the statements of evidence.

“We have been requesting the so-called fingerprint evidence from the police station from his arrest right through the proceedings,” he said.

“We initiated experts to go into the lab and that request was refused.

“All of a sudden they know we are going to see the statements of evidence and they withdraw the charges.”

He said he believed his client had been targeted for imprisonment and ‘malicious prosecution’.

“This is effectively internment by remand when you don’t produce the evidence to justify the detention,” he said.

“In light of this case we are calling for custody time limits to be brought in so the prosecution cannot do this, so they cannot delay cases without producing the evidence.

“This case is going to be referred to the police ombudsman and we will be initiating civil proceedings for malicious prosecution.”

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Internees released

Welcome home Republican Internees Kevin Murphy and Packy Carty, victims of a British campaign of evidence invention and falsification to place Irish Republicans in the hands of the British torture regime in MagHaberry gaol.

Both Kevin & Packy have been through the ongoing protest and brutal violations at the hands of the British state.They have had the clothes torn and cut from their bodies and had to run the gauntlets of the Riot squads in MagHaberry Torture camp and been beaten to the ground.

These men were Interned! .... The charges were invented to give the British Crown months and years to torture these men and others away from the public gaze.. Kevin and Packy have been released. Their Friends and comrades continue to suffer the brutality of the British Stormtroopers in the torture camp of MagHaberry and it is our duty to ensure that we redouble our efforts to support the Republican POWs within the British torture system.

Speaking following his release Packy Carty said "I've just Been released from Maghaberry Gaol after being interned by the British State for 9 months , God Bless the Republican POWs in Roe 4 who are in a living hell, i am blessed to have endured their hardships with them"

Friday, 19 October 2012

Upcoming POW events - Dungiven, Belfast, Newry & Dublin

In the coming weeks several events will take place in various parts of Ireland to highlight ongoing injustices endured by republican prisoners and political internees. These events are organised by the Families & Friends of Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry, the Dublin based Free Marian Price Committee and the Newry/South Armagh Republican Prisoners Support Group.

I would encourage everyone concerned to try and attend these events

F&F's have organised a white-line picket on Sunday 21st October to highlight the prisoners on protest in Maghaberry. 

This protest will coincide with the Derry county final. 

Assemble at Dungiven GAA club at 1.00 pm

All Republicans welcome.

Poster for the Belfast event on Thursday 25th October

The Dublin Free Marian Price Committee will hold a march in Dublin on the 3rd of November which will start at the garden of remembrance @ 2pm, we would encourage all who are able to attend to do so.

Victory to the Prisoners,
Beir bua!

Newry-South Armagh Republican Prisoner Support Group will be holding a white line picket on Monaghan Street, Newry on Saturday 3rd November at 2pm

This is an Independent event an is open to all Republicans

Victory To The POWS 

éirígí Slam Newry Normalisation Stunts

Britain Out of Ireland
Recently in Newry a number of events have taken place which can only be described as an attempt to normalise the British state forces, events which have prompted local people, angered by the offensive displays, to contact éirígí.

These normalisation initiatives focused on both the British army and the British police, the PSNI.

These included a publicity stunt held in the Quays shopping centre on Saturday [October 13] in which the PSNI were put in the same light as genuine emergency services such as the fire, rescue and ambulance service.

This particular event was advertised as a ‘fun day for all the family’. For many families across Newry, their experiences of the PSNI have been far from fun. Countless citizens of Newry have endured house raids, and stop and searches at the hands of the PSNI.

Voicing the party’s anger, éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said, “Saturday’s event clearly tried to portray the PSNI as a “normal” emergency service when in fact they nothing of the sort.

“In recent weeks advertisements for the British army have appeared in Newry city centre as well.”

Stephen continued, “The British army’s record in Ireland consists of murder and brutality. These tactics have also been adapted in their recent imperialist exploits in other countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Local people contacted our party and told us of their disgust that these recruitment advertisements were displayed in various parts of Newry.

“Indeed, to add further insult, one such advertisement, which depicted an armed British soldier, was displayed in Hill Street, just a few yards from the spot where three unarmed local men, Sean Ruddy (28), James McLaughlin (26) and Robert Anderson (26) were murdered in 1971 by British soldiers who shot them in cold blood.”

Murney added, “However the British army’s role in Ireland is not consigned to the past, it is very much part of the present day. British troops remain garrisoned in the Six Counties and the sinister Special Reconnaissance Regiment is on active operations here. Undercover British soldiers are currently involved in covert surveillance operations right across the North.

“éirígí will resist all attempts to normalise the presence of British forces – irrespective of whether they are British troops or British police.”

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Davy Hyland welcomes Marian Price, Gerry MCeough, Martin Corey motion

Cllr Davy Hyland response to motion submitted to Newry & Mourne District Council by cllrs P McDonald and M Murphy

The motion reads as follows: " That this council calls for the immediate release of of Marian Price, Martin Corey and Gerry McGeough. Everyone is entitled to due process. Both Marian Price and Martin Corey have been denied this. Their continued detention without trial is an infringement of their human rights and clearly undermines the justice system. their imprisonment is unjust and is in defiance of rulings by the courts in both cases. Both have been granted bail by the courts and yet remain in prison.

the arrest and continuing detention of Gerry McGeough represents  a flagrant breach by the British Government of its commitments in the Weston park Agreement woth respect to OTRs.

All three should be released immediately"

As an independent republican councillor who has been campaigning on behalf of republican prisoners and their families for some time, i very much welcome, support and endorse this motion. The basic infringement of natural rights is clearly a serious humanitarian issue and any help or support for their cause is clearly welcomed.

Martin Corey from Lurgan was released from gaol in 1992 having served 19 years and was arrested once again in April 2010 and held without trial, ie internment, ever since.

In July of this year his release was ordered by Judge Seamus Treacy who recognised that Martin’s human rights had been violated and infringed upon under article 5 of the said act. However Patterson, the British secretary of state, over ruled Treacy’s findings and insisted that the republican should remain in gaol. During the hearing it transpired that the so-called evidence against Corey was so secret that not even Justice Treacy was allowed to see it. The book of evidence given to him was an empty book with the words “the secretary of state, states that this evidence exists”, a truly colonial and imperialistic mindset if ever there was one!!!!

Patterson is now gone and his predecessor hasn’t said or done anything to the contrary and hence Martin Corey remains imprisoned, having not been charged with anything.

Marian Price from Belfast is another internee. Jailed in the 1970s she suffered from 200 days of horrific forced feeding. She has, more recently, been interned for over 500 days (1 ½ years) on a spurious charge. Having been imprisoned and isolated in an all-male prison she is now being held under armed guard in hospital suffering from pneumonia and numerous other health problems- there is a distinct possibility that this middle aged woman will die whilst in prison under the most flimsy of charges. Has Britain not learned anything from the experiences of 1981 when ten republicans lost their lives in Long kesh???

Is Britain determined to repeat the deadly mistakes of the past???

However it is really important to remember that the three named prisoners in this motion are not the only victims of the gaol scandal. In Maghaberry over 40 other republican prisoners have been forced to go on “dirty protest” fighting for political status in filthy squalid cells without the most basic of needs.

They are locked up approximately 23 hours a day, denied education, free association and all the rights associated with political status. They are still being stripped searched despite the fact that body scanners have been introduced and utilized in other prisons and yet there exists an agreement, facilitated by independent observers, that could end all of this suffering in the morning.

It was reached in August 2010 but for some strange reason David Ford reneged on it and it currently sits on the Stormont ministers desk gathering dust.

I want to finish by urging the councillors who are proposing this motion to not only use words but to follow their words with actions. No one can deny that they are a well organised party and hence they should and must mobilise their members, their support base and indeed their voters to actively protest against the injustices being inflicted upon Republican prisoners and political hostages held in British prisons.

Hopefully this motion will be supported by all within this chamber tonight and following it i would like to see a delegation of Sinn Fein, SDLP and independent councillors, and even unionist Councillors, to visit the prisoners and see at first hand the real conditions which they and their families and friends are enduring. Anyone who undertakes such a visit will come away from that prison with a much different view and interpretation of prison conditions in the six-counties.

Could i finish with a perspective from the republican prisoners themselves.....”We are currently engaged once more on a protest against conditions imposed on us that do not befit a republican prisoner of war. We cannot and will not be criminalised for actions of resistance to British rule in Ireland. The republican prison struggle has a long and turbulent history. The core and only reason there are republican POWs is British rule in Ireland. While this remains there will always be republican prisoners and until our demands are met our protest goes on”


Its 27th September about 5 o clock in the morning I am lying in my cell nervously thinking about the day ahead.

Today I am in court and with court comes the brutal, degrading and humiliating tactic of the forced strip search of Republican prisoners. This is not my first time being brought to court so I know what lies ahead. My heart beats faster and faster I can actually hear it pumping through my chest as thoughts of what I am about to receive run through my mind. I might be worried but at the same time I know I wont comply to these bitter heartless torturers.

The next few hours seem to drag in then about 7 o clock the alarm bells ring throughout the wing, they couldn't be any louder. I lift myself up into a sitting position and stretching myself out I look into corner of the cell and see last nights dinner I had thrown it there as it wasn't edible.

Looking on the floor beside my bed I see my breakfast, a small packet of Alpen and a half carton of milk, the screws had threw it into my cell the night before knowing I was for court this morning. I eat this and when finished I keep the spoon as I will need it later. I rip up the plastic container it came with and the milk carton and I throw them out the window, this procedure happens with the three daily meals, it stops them from using the containers and cutlery over and over again and it also leaves the outside of the Republican wing looking like a rubbish dump which annoys the administration as they have to pay industrial cleaners every so often to come in and clean it up.

I can hear the cleaners outside with big hoovering machines cleaning up the mess we had made by pouring the stuff threw the doors last night. I realise I had better go to the toilet quickly before they come and get me for court. The toilet consists of a sheet of newspaper on the ground and an empty half carton of milk, out the window the urine goes and onto the wall the rest of it goes. Its not a nice thing to be spreading this onto the wall first thing in the morning, not a nice thing to be doing anytime of the day but we have no other choice the administration has forced us into this position but at least today there is room to spread it, my cell was cleaned for the first time 2 weeks ago, before that the four walls were covered top to bottom with a double coat of excrement as well as the ceiling. The ceiling isn't accessible to all the prisoners as height comes into play here. To cover the ceiling it entails stacking a load of newspapers on top of the plastic chair we have or placing your brown bag of clothes on top of the chair and standing on it, it takes good balance as it is awkward but it is a good feeling knowing that the person cleaning it with the power hose will be finding it difficult to dodge the waste coming down on him from the ceiling.

Shortly after the door opens and there they stand. The riot squad. These are the hateful rats that work our landing every single day. There are four of them “shower, you're for court” one of them snarls. I walk out carrying my towel, toothbrush/paste and soapbox, one of them takes these from me and searches through the towel and box, another searches me from head to toe while the other two just stand and stare at me with hate filled eyes. The four of them walk me the short distance to the showers, two to the front of me and two behind me, this is what they call controlled movement. No other prisoner will be out on the landing while another prisoner is on it and at all times he will have four of this riot team around him.

At the showers they throw a box at my feet with a brown paper bag on top, in this box we have our clean clothes, they don’t let us wear the clothes we have in our cells when we leave the landing as they say they are contaminated.

I take my clothes out of the box and lift the brown bag, they open the steel barred grille let me in and then lock it behind me. I'm only in a few minutes when one of them shouts “hurry up the bus is here” I take my time I'm in no rush for what lies ahead. I put the clothes I had wore leaving my cell plus the towel and toiletries into the brown paper bag I walk over to the grilles the same four are standing waiting. One takes the brown bag and searches it thoroughly while another searches me again from head to toe and the other two yet again just stare with their hate filled glare. “Right use the phone” one of them says I tell him that I can't use the phone as my phone card is in my cell “not our problem” he says and I quickly realise that I wont get my 5 min phone call to my family today with that he turns to other members of the riot team who have now gathered at the reception desk "that’s him for the bus, he doesn't want the phone" they all burst out laughing. Pathetic.

Four of them again walk me the short distance to the grilles that leads me off our landing and out into to the circle, through one gate and then another a short walk to the turn-style,through it and straight onto the bus at the entrance of Roe house. The engine starts and away we go. There is a small hole in the material used to blank out the window and as we go through the two large electronically controlled gates I can see we pass the search box. The search box contains the boss chair which is a body scanner that can detect objects hidden inside ones body they put us through this on our way back from visits so why cant they just put me through it now instead of driving straight by it and on to the reception area where a body search will be forced upon me by a five strong riot team.

My stomach is in knots as the van pulls up to the reception area. I'm brought into the reception area and asked immediately if I am going to comply with the strip search. My answer is no. They put me into a small room and tell me I have 15 minutes reflection time to think about it. "I don’t need it" I say but the door slams firmly shut. During this time I am pacing up and down the small room taking deep breaths and moving my arms and wrists in circular motions to loosen them up for the attack that lies ahead. After the allotted time the door opens and a governor walks in he asks me am I going to comply with the strip search, more determined than ever I repeat "no", he asks is there anything he can do that will change my mind again I say no, "ok then" he says "I am going to order the search" and he walks out. Within seconds a five strong riot team rush through the door, one of them runs to the corner with a hand held video camera in his hand while two quickly rush me and grab my arms, they pull them straight out from my sides and twist my wrists, fingers and arms into some kind of martial art lock. A third grabs hold of my head and pushes it down to my chest whilst pushing me hard enough to force me to my knees.

Whilst on my knees my arms are outstretched in a crucifix type position and my wrists are twisted agonizingly upwards. The fourth member goes behind me and pulls my legs from the kneeling position while the third one forces my head to the floor, all the while the other two still have my arms, wrists and fingers in locks, I am now lying face flat on the floor two of the riot squad are on the ground with me still with my arms wrists and fingers in these painful locks. Again the fourth member of the team begins taking off my shoes and socks, he searches them and finds nothing, he then pulls off my jeans and underwear leaving me naked from the waist down, again he searches these and finds nothing, Then the third one lifts my head about 8 inches off the floor while the other two have my arms wrists and fingers still in locks then the one doing the stripping pulls off my t-shirt searches it and finding nothing, he throws it on top of me and the senior officer of the riot squad tells them one by one to pull out. The first to go is the one stripping me he is then followed by the one who is holding my head to the floor. This leaves three of them still in the room, one in the corner who has been videoing the whole ordeal and the other two who have my arms, wrists and fingers in locks. All of a sudden one of them starts shouting “stop resisting, stop resisting" I can't move never mind resist and at this they systematically pull my arms up outstretched behind my back. I squeal in agony, I don’t know how to explain the position I am in because I don’t think it would be humanely possible to put ones body in this shape, I think my shoulders are going to pop out, I feel my wrists are at breaking point, I am still screaming in pain when they let me drop to the floor, “don’t get up till we leave the room” one of them says. I just lie there in agony but a sigh of relief comes over me, it was over, for now.

I get myself together and get on my feet I look at the door, the hatch is open and the one who had the camera is still videoing, I get dressed and the hatch slams shut. Within a minute the governor walks into the room “have you any complaints about the search?” he asks I say it was overly aggressive and uncalled for. "I'll make a note of it" he says he leaves the room and a nurse enters “have you any injuries?” I just look at her, and she leaves. The screws at the door shout "lets go."

I walk out to the reception area and there is the riot squad standing laughing, they all stand tall as if they had just carried out something to be proud of. I just look at them smirk and turn and walk to the front door.

Out we go and into the prison van for the short journey to Laganside courts in Belfast. Once there I am brought straight down to the cells and I wait to be called. Within the hour I am brought upstairs to the courtroom. I get to sit beside three of my friends who are in the dock with me, all four of us in court on trumped up charges placed against us by the RUC. Within minutes the judge adjourns it as the so called police witnesses haven’t appeared.

I shake hands with my friends and am lead back down to the cells. I am held here for a few hours. They bring me lunch, a sandwich and a packet of crisps and then its back onto the prison van and the same short journey back to Maghaberry.

The nerves in my stomach return again. I know they are waiting on me.

Back in reception the whole brutal procedure is repeated again.

I am in agonizing pain as I am brought back to Roe 4. I am lead straight to my cell by four of the riot squad. Two in front and two behind.

The cell door slams behind me. My dinner is already sitting on the bed, freezing cold potatoes and some kind of cheese and broccoli slice. I throw it behind the door and lie down on top of the bed and think about the day I've just had. I ask myself, why do they drive past the search box with the boss chair in it?

If they put us through the boss chair leaving Maghaberry then there would be no need for these brutal forced strip-searches. Then reality kicks in, it is all about power and control. I cant help but wonder what sort of person would you have to be to go to work every day and brutalise another human being ? A sick individual is my only conclusion.

As I lie there in thought my cell door opens “anything for the duty governor” one of them says, I don’t even lift my head to acknowledge him the cell door slams shut.

Its about half 6 now time to start the nightly building of the dam to block the door for when I put the stuff out later. Some skill is needed in mastering this art but within a few days I had it sussed.

When I need to go to the toilet later I will use the plastic spoon I saved from this morning from breakfast to mix it all together until it turns into a brown nasty liquid which I will be able to pour out onto the landing.We never get to see it but I would love to see the state of the landing and the mess they have to clean up after all the lads have emptied their mix out the doors. With this done and after a little bit of reading I close my eyes and settle down for the night. Tomorrow brings a new day and although we might be locked up 23 hours a day I will get to see my friends and comrades during that little bit of exercise time. This brings a smile to my face because despite the treacherous conditions we are forced to live in despite the brutal regime we are forced to endure, the craic and the spirit couldn't be greater.

It fills me with great pride to play a small part in this phase of the prison struggle. We are more determined now than ever to see this protest through to the end and we will win. These men on dirty protest here in Maghaberry are brave men, these men are strong men but above all else these men are Irish Republicans.

Victory to the protesting prisoners in Maghaberry.


Monday, 15 October 2012

éirígí picket Newry event for Ed Balls

Despite persistent rain, members of éirígí held a successful picket today outside the front entrance of the Canal Court Hotel in Newry where a business lunch was being held, attended by the British shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ed Balls. Those attending the lunch included ministers from all of the Stormont parties.

The protest was part of the party’s Stormont Isn’t Working campaign and was held to highlight the fact that Stormont’s failed economic agenda is designed in Britain and implemented by local politicians.

éirígí members also handed out leaflets to shoppers and other passers-by, many of whom expressed their support for the protest.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith, who was present on the Newry picket-line, said, “The social and economic fabric of the Six-County state is in complete disarray and the Stormont assembly is unable to provide any meaningful or effective solutions.

“The previous economic recession of the Thatcher era during the 1980s saw unemployment in the 6 counties reach a peak of 123,500 by October 1986.

“In the intervening years, various British governments introduced no less than 13 separate measures to massage and hide the true levels of unemployment. Those measures are still being used by the Stormont coalition today to hide the extent of mass unemployment within our communities.

Stormont Isn't Working

“Stormont’s ‘official’ statistics are heavily massaged to minimize the number of unemployed persons downwards. Those massaged figures put the number of unemployed at 71,000.

“Stormont is deliberately concealing the fact that there are another 60,000 men, women and young people who need and want work, but who are excluded from the ‘official’ count.

“Today, in the Six Counties, the scandalous reality is that there are an estimated 130,000 people seeking work.

“Almost one in four young people aged 18 to 24 are unemployed as a result of Stormont’s economic ineptitude.

“One senior economist has described the method used by Stormont for measuring unemployment as ‘unreliable’ and ‘not well regarded in the economics world’.

“Over 11,000 people recently applied for the 450 full- and part-time jobs due to be created by a large international supermarket chain in Portadown. That demonstrates just how critical the demand for employment has become.”

Stormont Isn't Working

Mac Cionnaith continued, “In addition to unemployment, child poverty levels are also growing unabated under Stormont and the welfare reform bill will mean that the less well-off in our society will again be the hardest hit. Yet, Stormont politicians are united in a campaign to secure further tax-breaks for large businesses and multi-national companies which already make vast profits.

“It’s clear that Stormont is simply not working for ordinary people and that is the message which our party activists will be driving home over the coming weeks and months.”

Local éirígí member Stephen Murney also criticised the PSNI for attempting to harass party members participating in the picket.

He said, “The PSNI attempted to take the names and other details of party members immediately the protest commenced. Our members quite rightly refused as the PSNI could not even state the legislation under which they were seeking that information. Even when it was pointed out to the PSNI that there were no legal grounds for anyone to provide them with such details, the PSNI continued to persist in their harassment.

“It was only after one of our members phoned a solicitor and then offered the phone to the lead PSNI officer for the solicitor to inform that officer of the limitations of their powers that the PSNI backed off. At one stage, the PSNI also demanded to see the credentials of a press photographer who was covering the events both inside and outside the hotel.

“The PSNI actions once again demonstrated that political policing is still very much a reality.”