Sunday, 11 November 2012

New ‘Know Your Rights’ Leaflet Targets MI5 Harassment

The Conway Mill on Belfast’s Fall Road was the setting for a very well-attended public meeting on Thursday [November 8] at which éirígí launched its latest ‘Know Your Rights’ leaflet.

As concern grows in communities across the Six Counties about the increasing activities of Britain’s MI5, the party has produced a four-page information and advice leaflet setting out the steps people should take if they find themselves approached by the secretive spying organisation.

The meeting, chaired by Belfast éirígí activist Máire Drumm, began with a fifteen minute video presentation detailing some of MI5’s methods of operation.

She then introduced the first of two speakers at the meeting, éirígí’s rúnaí ginearálta, Breandán Mac Cionnaith.

Mac Cionnaith explained that the party had seen an upsurge in people coming forward to report approaches made to them by MI5, approaches which often occurring with the co-operation of the Six County police force.

In the course of his remarks, Mac Cionnaith said that, for several years, constitutional nationalist parties in the Six Counties had peddled the lie that they achieved the following:

  • No role for MI5 in ‘civic policing’
  • No PSNI personnel under MI5 control
  • No secondment of PSNI personnel to MI5
  • Annual oversight and reporting mechanisms on MI5’s role
  • A clear firewall established between the PSNI and MI5

Mac Cionnaith then dissected each of those claims.


He pointed out that MI5 does not have powers of arrest; does not have powers to question people; does not have powers to search or seize property and is fully dependent upon the PSNI to carry out those operations, arrests, searches and interrogations.

Constitutional nationalists, he said, put great emphasis on a statement made by the then British prime minister, Tony Blair, in 2007. Blair stated that only PSNI personnel attached to PSNI Headquarters Staff would act in a “in a liaison capacity” with MI5. Constitutional nationalists seized upon that statement to fool their members and supporters into believing that only a handful of PSNI personnel would be working with MI5. Those politicians, he said, failed to admit that many sections and departments of the PSNI fall under that overarching description of “Headquarters Staff” and that, at any one time, up to 1,200 of the PSNI personnel attached to Headquarters staff could be acting in a so-called ‘liaison capacity’ directly with MI5.

Mac Cionnaith also said that so-called annual oversight and reporting mechanisms on MI5’s role have been shown to be completely meaningless and worthless. He observed that the appointment of a British peer, Lord Carlile, a supporter both of non-jury courts and the prolonged detention without trial for suspects, to a role in annually reviewing MI5 in the North, was bizarrely hailed as “progress” by constitutional nationalists at Stormont. He also noted that that Carlile’s annual review of MI5 in the Six Counties is supposed to take place in consultation with the First and deputy First Ministers at Stormont – thereby directly implicating the north’s largest constitutional nationalist party into providing a fig-leaf for MI5’s activities in the Six Counties.

Mac Cionnaith also pointed out that Britain’s former Six County minister, Owen Paterson, had stated in December last year that there were “no difficulties of any significance in the inter-operability between the PSNI and the Security Service... This is a sound working partnership.”

Constitutional nationalist parties, said Mac Cionnaith, had created a smokescreen of propaganda to mislead their community into believing that those parties had achieved major progress on ending the era of political policing which has existed for as long as the Six County state itself. He bluntly described that as “a deceit”.

Referring to the recent controversy regarding the re-hiring of ex-RUC personnel as ‘agency staff’ by the PSNI, Mac Cionnaith stated, “It is also noticeable that no mention is ever made of exactly how many ex-RUC personnel are employed by MI5.

“Given that over 1,000 ex-RUC men were rehired back into the PSNI by the back-door, it is quite conceivable that at least a similar number have entered MI5’s base in Holywood through the front door.”

Máire Drumm then introduced the second speaker, Pádraigín Drinan, the well-known Belfast-based solicitor who, for forty five years, has been to the forefront in campaigns to defend against the erosion of human rights and civil liberties in the Six Counties.


From her participation in the Civil Rights movement in the late 1960s, Drinan was involved in representing many of those interned without trial by the British state during the 1970s, and over the course of many years has represented families who lost relatives at the hands of British state death squads. She has also represented many people who have been subjected to harassment and abuse by state forces and recently mounted a legal challenge against stop and search tactics used by the PSNI.

Ms Drinan said that, as a solicitor, she welcomed éirígí’s initiative in publishing the ‘know your rights’ leaflets. She described the latest publication on MI5 as “a necessity for many people” and added “that after all these years of repressive legislation it was remarkable how few people are actually aware of what their rights”.

Ms Drinan said, “The decision to make this information available is a very welcome and timely step.”

Ms Drinan continued, “Anyone approached by MI5 personnel, should contact a solicitor and let the solicitor act on their behalf. The goal of MI5 is to gather intelligence on a person’s neighbours, friends and even on members of that person’s family. They will try their hardest to extract any information, no matter how innocuous that may appear, from those whom they approach with each meeting.

“Anything they may offer, in terms of monetary incentives/jobs, is solely for their own benefit and not for the benefit of the person approached – and it is worth remembering that.

“No-one approached by MI5 should give away any personal details about themselves or anyone else, however harmless that information might seem.

“No-one is under any obligation to speak with MI5 no matter where or how they are approached. You can ignore them and you can walk away from them.”

She stressed the importance for everyone to report all approaches made by MI5 in order to protect their rights and civil liberties.

Several hundred copies of the new leaflet were readily snapped up by those attending the public meeting.

 The leaflet may be downloaded here.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

éirígí criticise heavy handed PSNI raids in Newry

Stephen Murney

éirígí in Newry have criticised a series of raids and arrests that took place across the city early on Monday morning [November 05].

Several families were targeted during the dawn raids and homes were left ransacked as well as a number of residents being arrested and taken to Antrim holding centre during the state force operation.

Criticising the raids, éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said, “This is an all too familiar pattern. Here we have several homes ransacked and a number of people arrested and taken from their families. Unsurprisingly, those arrested were later released without charge within a matter of hours and with nothing untoward found during the searches.

“The PSNI’s strong-arm tactics left a number of children terrified and families were left to pick up the pieces. These raids were a particularly frightening for young children.

“The PSNI operation lasted for several hours and a large force of PSNI personnel in countless armoured landrovers saturated a number of working class areas. At the same time, a PSNI helicopter hovered over the city, keeping the local population under surveillance. These communities have endured this type of treatment many times in the past and today’s actions are clear proof of the unchanged nature of policing.”

Murney continued, “I met and spoke with some of the families targeted in these raids and they were left distressed, worried and seething with anger at the actions of the state forces. During the raids the PSNI confiscated mobile phones, ipods, family cars and even children’s computer games. Those who had their cars confiscated now have to find alternative transport to get them to work.”

Stephen concluded, “While constitutional nationalist parties tell us that this type of RUC style policing is a thing of the past, for republicans it’s clearly very much part of the present.”

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Successful POW events

A number of successful events have been held to highlight the serious humanitarian crisis facing republican prisoners.

In Newry around 100 people ,from all backgrounds and ages, took to the streets to protest in support of the political prisoners, A large RUC presence was evident at the picket. Those gathered were addressed by Dee Fennell, who spoke on behalf of the Families & Friends of Republican Prisoners and Ciaran Cunningham, who spoke on behalf of Cogus.

Here is a video of the picket and speeches

On the same day several hundred people too part in a rally in Dublin in support of the release of political internee Marian Price

On the 25th October around 50 republicans held a torch lit vigil at Divis Tower in West Belfast in support of Republican prisoners in Maghaberry

On the 21st October there was a fantastic turnout in Dungiven with around 140 republicans turning up for the white-line picket in support of the prisoners on protest in Maghaberry. The flow of traffic heading through the town was massive with crowds heading to the Derry County final and the message that we have prisoners on protest in Maghaberry was well received with plenty of cars tooting and many people shouting support as they drove by.

Go raibh maith agat to everyone who attended these and any events to highlight the injustices republican prisoners are currently enduring.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

éirígí to commemorate Wolfe Tone in Newry

éirígí have announced plans to commemorate the anniversary of one of Ireland’s most iconic revolutionaries, Theobald Wolfe Tone, in an event to be held in Newry.

The commemoration will take place in Newry city centre on Saturday 17th November at the Cochran and Lowans plaque situated at John Mitchel Place, Hill Street. The Volunteers Patricia Black & Frank Ryan Memorial Flute Band from Glasgow will also be in attendance.

Speaking ahead of the event éirígí’s Stephen Murney said, “Wolfe Tone is regarded by many as the founding father of Irish Republicanism. In 1791 he founded the revolutionary society of the United Irishmen along with Samuel Neilson, Thomas Russell and Henry Joy McCracken, taking their inspiration from the French Revolution. Wolfe Tone was captured with a French fleet in Lough Swilly County Donegal and taken to Dublin. He was tried and condemned to death in November; he died on the 19th November 1798.

Theobald Wolfe Tone

“The reason we have chosen Newry as the location to hold this commemoration is that in 1792, Wolfe Tone held a meeting in the Crown Inn (now Best estate agents) in Hill Street directly beside the Town Hall. At this meeting a local branch of the United Irishmen was formed. The first chairman of the United Irish Society in Newry was James Lang.

“At the lower end of Hill Street a plaque is situated in John Mitchel Place which commemorates Cochran and Lowans, who were executed in Newry for their part in the 1798 rising. Cochran and Lowans, both from Newry, were publicly executed on the high ground at the rear of the Bank of Ireland, Trevor Hill, a site known as Gallows Hill where Heather Park is situated today.”

Stephen continued, “Cochran on his return from the Battle of Ballynahinch, gave money to a woman on the outskirts of Newry to conceal him However she induced her husband to go into Newry and report his whereabouts for a much higher reward. The only information available on Lowans is that after the Battle of Ballynahinch he was apprehended at Bellman’s Loanin (now Windsor Avenue) off the Downshire Road. Both men were interned in the Linen Hall Barracks before their execution. They were then hung, drawn and quartered.

“Their heads were then spiked on a building in Margaret Square for forty-one days. Cochran’s father was not given permission to bury his son’s head along with his body until he agreed to carry it uncovered in his hands shouting “Traitor, traitor, the head of a traitor” all the way to the graveyard.

“Both Cochran and Lowans are buried in St Patrick’s graveyard, Church Street, Newry. The name of Cochran has been kept alive in Newry by a street named Cochran Row in a small housing estate on the Armagh Road. Part of the tunnel from the Bank of Ireland to Gallows Hill can still be seen in Heather Park.”

Tone was also very much aware of the class struggle being intertwined with the freedom struggle and he is quoted as saying, “Our freedom must be had at all hazards. If the men of no property will not help us they must fall; we will free ourselves by the aid of that large and respectable class of the community – the men of no property.”

Join with éirígí in commemorating those revolutionaries who gave their lives and let us continue to finish the task and complete their objectives, which remain unfilled.

Assemble at the Cochran & Lowans Plaque, John Mitchel Place, Newry, on Saturday 17th November at 4.30pm, with main speaker Pádraic Mac Coitir. Refreshments and entertainment will be available in a nearby establishment afterwards.

éirígí to highlight MI5 activities in the Six Counties at Belfast meeting

Palace Barracks

The socialist republican party éirígí are to hold a public meeting in Conway Mill, Belfast at 7pm on Thursday evening, November 8th, at which the party will formally launch an information and guidance leaflet aimed at advising people who have been or who may be subject to harassment by MI5.

Speaking ahead of the meeting and leaflet launch, éirígí spokesperson Padraic Mac Coitir said, “An increasing and disturbing trend has emerged in the Six Counties where undercover MI5 agents have been involved in numerous attempts to recruit various individuals to ‘work’ for them.

“It is clear that MI5 operatives, based at their headquarters in Palace Barracks, Hollywood, are engaged in a massive intelligence gathering trawl right across the Six Counties. It is also clear, from the cases reported to us, that they doing so in total collusion with the PSNI.

“Many of those targeted by MI5 and who contacted the party in recent months are not republicans, but are community workers, trade union activists and ordinary members of the public.”

Mac Coitir explained, “The circumstances in which people have been approached by MI5 vary from case to case.

“Cases that have been reported to the party include:

  • Individuals being stopped at what appeared to be normal ‘run-of-the-mill’ PSNI traffic checkpoints. In these cases, PSNI personnel then stood aside as well-dressed civilians approached the person stopped, introduced themselves as ‘X’ or ‘Y’, and then proceeded to attempt to recruit the person stopped
  • Telephone calls being made to people by individuals who have identified themselves using various pseudonyms such as ‘Ian’, ‘Mark’ ‘John’, etc. During these calls people have been asked to meet with MI5. Monetary incentives and jobs have been offered to people if they will assist them in gathering information
  • Individuals being approached while travelling through airports on way to a family holiday or as a journey connected to their work
  • Individuals being approached in person at their place of work
  • Individuals being approached while shopping in town centres

“Incidents have been reported to the party from across each of the Six Counties and it is clear that the frequency of such incidents is increasing.”

Mac Coitir continued, “In response to this increased activity by MI5, éirígí is launching a comprehensive information leaflet advising people what to do if they find themselves approached by MI5. Earlier this year, the party published a ‘know your rights’ card detailing a person’s rights when stopped or questioned by the PSNI. That received a very positive response in our communities, and we believe that this initiative regarding MI5 will be equally responded to.”

The meeting in Conway Mill on November 8th will be addressed by éirígí’s Breandán Mac Cionnaith and Belfast solicitor Padraigin Drinan.

Mac Coitir also said that the party would also be showing a short video at the meeting on the activities of MI5.