On Saturday [June 28] upwards of 120 people took to the streets of Newry to protest against the ongoing use of Internment by remand.
The picket was a non-party political event organised by the Anti-Internment Group of Ireland and was supported by the IRPWA. Scores of people, including many éirígí activists, attended the event which drew a lot of attention from shoppers and the general public in Newry
The colourful picket stretched the length of Monaghan St, one of the busiest streets in the city, and the protesters carried many flags, placards and banners. Republican music was also played for the duration of the picket which added to the atmosphere.
The main speaker at the event was éirígí's Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney, who was released from Maghaberry prison 5 months ago after being interned by remand for 14 months.
Stephen began by speaking about the historical aspect to internment and how it’s current day use is a more sinister and deceptive practice as it gives a false impression of “due process”.
Stephen said “All too often we hear of Republican activists being arrested, charged and remanded. And all too often we hear of those charges being withdrawn or the victim being found innocent but only after spending a lengthy period of time in a British prison. If that's not a form of internment, then I don't know what is.”
Murney continued by pointing out the conditions and further punishment political internees can expect to endure “And it's while in those prisons that they are further punished, violated and oppressed by the British state using various means. While this picket today has been organised to highlight and oppose internment, we can't do so without acknowledging the fact that there are numerous other issues that stem from being interned. A few examples are forced strip searches, a brutal practice, the graphic details of which which we are only all too familiar with. Controlled movement which limits and severely restricts the freedom of movement and association between political prisoners. Isolation of Republican prisoners such as Gavin Coyle who has been locked up since 2011 in a small cell for 23 hours a day, he has no contact with any other prisoner. This amounts to psychological torture.”
Stephen finished by thanking the organisers and participants for taking part in the protest and urged everyone to continue to highlight and oppose internment in it’s current day form.
Speaking after the protest the éirígí activist said “What we have achieved here today is very important, we have brought this message to hundreds of everyday people here in Newry. And the message is that internment is still in use and it needs to be opposed by everyone. It’s interesting to note that not one single newly elected nationalist councillor from Newry and Mourne District Council or indeed the new Mayor of Newry attended this event in their home town. In the run up to the elections you would have tripped over them but now they are nowhere to be seen. They portray themselves as champions of human rights, but they must have had more important issues to deal with on Saturday.
Murney concluded “Events like these are vital to raise awareness i would urge everyone to organise and participate in similar initiatives to highlight internment.”