Saturday, 24 December 2011

Vol Eddie Grant Remembered by éirígí in Newry


On Christmas Eve, éirígí in Newry held a solemn commemorative event in the Derrybeg estate to remember local IRA volunteer Eddie Grant.

While many families are preparing for the festive season local éirígí activists came together, with the family of Eddie Grant, to remember and pay tribute to the supreme sacrifice he made in the fight for liberation.

A wreath was laid on the Derrybeg monument by Eddie’s niece Jacqueline in memory of her uncle.

Wreath is laid

éirígí Newry area spokesperson Stephen Murney spoke and paid tribute to Eddie.

Stephen said, “Today we remember IRA volunteer Eddie Grant who was killed in action on Christmas Eve 1973 along with his comrade Brendan Quinn from Cloughreagh.

“We are deeply honoured to have Eddie’s family represented at this wreath laying ceremony today.

“Nicknamed ‘Starchy’ by his mates, Eddie was best known in Derrybeg as a raker, always up to devilment. He grew up with a group of friends who also took the same decision to join the ranks of Óglaigh na hÉireann. They went on to become a very effective fighting unit.


At the Derrybeg monument

“Eddie came from an old republican family. His cousin Paul Smith died at Edentubber and his uncle John McEnerney was a Vice-Commandant of the 4th Northern Division IRA. After attending a few Republican Clubs meetings Eddie made the decision to join the IRA. No task was too great; he was always willing to volunteer for active service.

“On the 24th December 1973, Eddie and his comrade Brendan Quinn were killed in a premature explosion at Clarke’s Bar (Armaghdown) on Monaghan Street. Unfortunately a civilian was also to die with the two Volunteers.”

Murney concluded, “As a new year approaches éirígí remains fully committed to the struggle for a British withdrawal from the occupied Six Counties and the establishment of a 32-county socialist republic.

“éirígí takes this opportunity to thank its members and supporters for the commitment and energy they have displayed throughout 2011. Their sterling work across Ireland has inspired many others to become involved in the struggle for national, economic and social freedom.”

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

PSNI Harassment Must Stop

Stephen Murney with stop & search dockets

éirígí in Newry have announced that it’s time to up the ante and vigorously counter PSNI harassment in the area.

This comes after a local republican approached the party having been stopped and searched an astonishing 98 times in little over a year.

éirígí’s Stephen Murney explained, “These particular stop and searches are only those where a search record has been obtained, these don’t include the numerous times when no such record was given to the victim, so it’s fair to say the actual number is much higher, well over 100 in the space of a year.

“Most of these are conducted under Sections 21 & 24 of the draconian British Justice & Security Act, which consists of your personal details and movements being recorded and a humiliating search for ammunition and wireless apparatus.

“It has also been brought to our attention that a number of times school kids as young as 14 have also been stopped and harassed in similar fashion.”

Stephen continued, “This man approached us as a result of this incessant harassment. This is just one man and the amount of search records he has received is unbelievable. There are numerous other republicans, including éirígí members, in this area who are also being stopped and searched on a regular basis.

“We have already held a number of events including protesting at the doorstep of the PSNI at Ardmore barracks, erecting banners and posters across Newry and distributed thousands of leaflets across the district. It’s time republicans in Newry took our campaign to a new level. We can’t sit back any longer and let these thugs get away with this; it’s time to up the ante and resist these thugs.

“In the New Year we will be organising several initiatives to counter this relentless campaign of harassment. One of the first things we will do is to convene a public meeting to discuss a number of issues; PSNI harassment will be a major topic at this event and we urge everyone concerned to attend to tell of their experiences and suggest ideas. We will be publishing the final details in the coming weeks.

“By doing this we can put a viable model in place where we can resist, monitor and expose the PSNI at a new level.”

Murney concluded, “I would urge all victims of similar human rights abuses to publicly come forward and expose the unchanged nature of these British paramilitaries. They should log all incidents with their solicitor and are more than welcome to contact éirígí.”

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Ard Fheis Video Essay



 Hugh Corcoran – Workers' Co-ops

 Guest Speaker – Phil Ferguson, Workers Party New Zealand

 John McCusker

 Guest Speaker – Tomás Ó Conghaile, Irish language activist
 Address by An Cathaoirleach Brian Leeson

éirígí Ard-Fheis November 2011 – Full Report


Saturday, November 26, saw upwards of 150 people participate in Ard-Fheis éirígí, November 2011. The daylong event, which took place in the Teachers Club on Dublin’s Parnell Square, saw activists from across the country come together to rededicate themselves to the struggle for a free Ireland.
An Ard-Fheis opened with an organisational report for 2011 delivered by Runaí Ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnatith. Reports then followed from Daithí Mac An Mháistir, Ciaran Heaphey and Pádraig Ó Meiscill, the respective heads of éirígí’s Membership, Finance and Publicity Departments. A question and answer session then completed the organisational section of An Ard-Fheis.
Next on the clár was a discussion on the issue of abortion, which saw many members give their views on this potentially divisive issue. The hour-long discussion was particularly useful as it gave party activists the opportunity to hear the views of comrades from all parts of the country. The issue will now be discussed further within the party’s local Ciorcal (branches) before the membership will decide éirígí’s position on abortion.
The head of éirígí’s Irish language department, Ursula Ní Shionnain, then presented a comprehensive draft Irish language policy paper to An Ard-Fheis, before taking questions and comment from the floor. A number of activists took the opportunity to stress the importance of the Irish language in the wider struggle for a free and independent Ireland. As is the case with all important policy and strategy issues the draft language paper will be further discussed within local Ciorcal before a vote will be taken on the adoption of same.
The second item but one before lunch saw An Ard-Fheis discuss, and vote on, motions covering a wide spectrum of issues including International Solidarity, the British occupation of the Six Counties, the current economic crisis and the cutbacks to vital public services on both sides of Britain’s border in Ireland. The full text of all motions carried by An Ard-Fheis can be accessed here.
The final business of this morning session saw the seven national party positions filled as follows, Brian Leeson (Cathaoirleach), Rab Jackson (Leas-Chathaoirleach), Breandán Mac Cionnaith (Rúnaí Ginearálta), Ciaran Heaphey and Micheál Mac Neighill (Cisteoirí x 2), Pádraig Ó Meiscill (An tOifigeach Caidrimh Phoiblí) and Daithí Mac An Mháistir (An tOifigeach Ballraíochta).
After a short lunch break An Ard-Fheis resumed with the first of three external speakers, Hugh Corcoran of Na Croisbhealaí workers’ cooperative café in Belfast. Hugh spoke of the process of establishing a co-op, of the role played by co-ops in wider political struggles internationally, and of the importance of supporting such grassroots’ worker-led initiatives.
Daithí Mac An Mháistir then took to the stage to give a short presentation on the establishment of éirígí’s new supporters organisation, Clann éirígí. Daithí explained that Clann éirígí had been established to provide a relatively easy access point to the struggle for people in Ireland and overseas. He went on to detail how membership of Clann éirígí will targeted at four main categories of people, namely, those living outside of Ireland; students in universities and colleges across Ireland; those living in Ireland in areas as where there is no established éirígí organisation and finally those who wish to formally align themselves with éirígí but who are not in a position to commit to full party membership. More about Clann éirígí will follow on this website in the coming weeks.
The second external speaker addressing the packed hall was Phil Ferguson from New Zealand. In his contribution Phil explained his own background as a political activist who came to Ireland in the 1980s to play an active role in the Irish republican struggle.
The second éirígí presentation of the afternoon saw John McCusker give the rationale behind the recent launching of a fundraising drive for an éirígí national headquarters building. He explained that the party intends to purchase a premise which will become the physical centre for a resurgent militant Irish republicanism, a base within which a wide range of administrative, campaigning, publicity and educational activities can take place. Further details of éirígí’s National Headquarters Fund will follow on this website over the coming weeks.
The third and final external speaker, Irish language activist Tomás Ó Conghaile, then spoke to An Ard-Fheis. He spoke about the work of the Irish language movement, and the importance of the language in the context of the struggle for the reconquest of Ireland.
The final speaker of the day, Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson, was then introduced to An Ard-Fheis by éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan. In his address, Brian looked back on the local elections in the Six Counties and the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor, both of which took place in May of this year. He congratulated and thanked those who voted for éirígí and those who took to the streets of Dublin to oppose the British royal visit.
Brian then went on to talk about the current state of republicanism and the socio-economic crisis that is gripping all parts of Ireland. He asked those present to consider the possibilities that the current situation might hold for the building of a revolutionary socialist republican movement and the role that they might play in realising that potential.
When Brian’s speech completed a rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann brought a memorable and successful Ard-Fheis to a close.
Motions
An Teanga
Motion No 1
This Ard Fheis
  1. Views the failure of the Stormont Executive to properly legislate for Acht na Gaeilge as a deliberate attempt to undermine the rights of Irish speakers and an attempt to stifle further language growth in the Six Counties.
  2. Believes that the current policies being implemented by the Dublin government will have long-term negative consequences for the promotion and potential growth of An Gaeilge and will threaten the future sustainability of existing Gaeltacht communities.
Abortion/Termination
Motion No 2
This Ard Fheis
Accepts the reasons for the delay in the Ard Fheis mandated discussion on the issue of abortion/termination and welcomes the recent publication of internal party documentation as a prelude to a widespread discussion and debate within the party on this issue.
Policy Development
Motion No 3
This Ard Fheis
Commits éirígí to a process of ongoing policy formulation and mandates An Ciorcal Náisiúnta to oversee this important factor in the party's overall development as a matter of priority.
Organisation
Motion No 4
This Ard Fheis
  1. Supports the proposed amendment to section 4.4 of Bunreacht éirígí to read:
    Through the contesting of elections where the contesting of such elections is deemed to advance éirígí's objectives. Decisions relating to the contesting of elections and participation in institutions to which members are elected shall be made by the membership at Ard Fheis or Ciorcal Aitiúil.
Motion No 5
This Ard Fheis
  1. Endorses the efforts made by An Ciorcal Náisiúnta to secure an éirígí national headquarters.
  2. Commits all members and party units to actively supporting those efforts.
Motion No 6
This Ard Fheis
Commits An Ciorcal Náisiúnta to organising a minimum of four major internal national party events annually.
Motion No 7
This Ard Fheis recognises the importance of popularising socialist republican politics and as part of this process proposes over the coming year to:
  1. Re-publish its position paper ‘From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come’ and to distribute it widely at party events locally, regionally and nationally;
  2. Commence publishing pamphlets at regular intervals that encompass both historic events and issues as well as contemporary political, socio-economic, and cultural campaigns and issues;
  3. Encourages the party at local and regional level to holding publicly advertised meetings on a regular basis.
British Occupation
Motion No 8
This Ard Fheis
  1. Commends all of those who have supported éirígí's campaign for a British withdrawal over the last twelve months. Their steadfastness in the face of intense harassment by the forces of the Six and Twenty Six Counties is to be commended.
  2. Notes with deep concern the ongoing use of draconian legislation in both the Six and Twenty Six Counties and, in particular, condemns the clearly politically inspired targeting of our party members and supporters.
Motion No 9
This Ard Fheis
  1. Condemns the Dublin government for their display of grovelling servitude during the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor to the Twenty Six Counties.
  2. Pays tribute to the hundreds of citizens who joined with éirígí to oppose the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor to the Twenty Six Counties.
Motion No 10
This Ard Fheis
  1. Notes with deep concern the ongoing use of plastic bullets by the British police in the occupied Six Counties.
  2. Rejects the assertion that plastic bullets are a legitimate 'non-lethal' weapon.
  3. Reiterates its call for the immediate banning of plastic bullets across Ireland.
Motion No 11
This Ard Fheis
Pays tribute to the commitment and dedication of the family of the late Pat Finucane, the Ballymurphy Massacre Campaign and all others who campaign for the truth in relation to Britain's official and unofficial death squads in Ireland.
Political Prisoners
Motion No 12
This Ard Fheis
  1. Calls for the immediate release of all Irish republican political prisoners.
  2. Extends solidarity greetings to all Irish republican political prisoners imprisoned in Ireland and overseas.
  3. Calls for an end to the human rights abuse, including strip searching, of republican political prisoners in Maghaberry Prison.
  4. Supports the republican political prisoners in Maghaberry in their demand for the implementation of the August 2010 Agreement.
Natural Resources
Motion No 13
This Ard Fheis
  1. Condemns the recent granting of 13 offshore exploration licences in the Atlantic Margin, by Twenty Six County minister of Communications and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, as a further surrender of Ireland's natural resources to private corporate interests.
  2. Recognises that under the current licencing terms, the state's take from its vast oil and gas reserves will be extremely low, offers no security of supply as companies can export these resources or sell them back to consumers on the domestic market at full market price
  3. Believes that the people of Ireland should control and enjoy the benefits of its natural resources and therefore calls for the nationalisation of Ireland's vast oil and gas reserves and the establishment of a state oil and gas exploration company.
  4. Pledges its continuing support for the Shell to Sea campaign and recognises the commitment and steadfastness of the community in Rossport and the Rossport Solidarity Camp in opposing the continuing occupation of north-west Mayo by Shell Oil.
International
Motion No 14
This Ard Fheis
  1. Reaffirms éirígí's position that the struggle for national, economic, political and social freedom in Ireland cannot be understood in isolation from the wider struggle for freedom and justice internationally.
  2. Restates its firm belief that the realisation of a just international political order can only be achieved through the overthrow of the global system of imperialism and capitalism and its replacement by a system based upon the fundamental tenets of socialism.
  3. Once again takes the opportunity to extend fraternal solidarity and revolutionary greetings to all of those individuals and organisations that struggle for national, economic, political and social freedom across the globe.
  4. Extends special solidarity greetings to the peoples and revolutionary movements of Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela.
Motion No 15
This Ard Fheis
  1. Reiterates éirígí's support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and self-determination
  2. Takes this opportunity to once again extend fraternal greetings and solidarity to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as it struggles for the creation of an independent, secular and socialist Palestinian state,
  3. Calls for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners, and in particular, calls for the immediate release of Comrade Ahmad Sa'adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Motion No 16
This Ard Fheis
Stands in solidarity with the Scottish people in their continuing struggle for national liberation, and views a positive outcome to the proposed 'referendum on independence' as one means of galvanising support behind the demand for full political and economic independence in the pursuit of the final goal of a Scottish Worker's Republic.
Motion No 17
This Ard Fheis
  1. Notes that a commitment given at the January 2011 Ard Fheis to organise a major public conference on an international theme was not fulfilled. Mandates the incoming Ciorcal Náisiúnta to ensure that at least one such conference occurs during 2012.
  2. Mandates the incoming Ciorcal Náisiúnta to continue its work to develop further links with relevant progressive individuals and organisations across the globe.
Religious Sectarianism and Racism
Motion No 18
This Ard Fheis
  1. Condemns sectarian attacks in general and the concerted sectarian attacks on the community of the Short Strand earlier this year in particular.
  2. Notes with deep concern the rise in racially motivated attacks across Ireland.
  3. Condemns all racially and religiously motivated attacks, from whatever quarter they emanate.
Socio-Economic
Motion No 19
This Ard Fheis
  1. Condemns the Dublin government for the ongoing cutback budgets, which penalise working class communities, the poor, the sick and other vulnerable sectors of society.
  2. Is appalled that public services are targeted to bear the brunt of the Dublin government's plans to reduce the public debt which resulted from the bail-out of banks and financial institutions.
  3. Rejects any notion that working people and their families should be subjected to severe austerity measures in order to pay for an economic crisis created through an unrelenting pursuit of super-profits by private financial institutions and property speculators.
  4. Commits éirígí to a campaign of vigorous and sustained opposition to the interference of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in Irish affairs.
Motion No 20
This Ard Fheis
  1. Recognises that the introduction, next January, of a €100 household tax in the Twenty Six Counties represents yet another Dublin government attempt to force the working class to pay the private gambling debts of bankers and speculators.
  2. Acknowledges that this is simply the beginning of a series of new taxes that will be imposed on households in the Twenty Six counties as part of the EU/IMF deal
  3. Calls for a boycott of this unjust tax and pledges its active support for the No Household and Water Tax campaign
Motion No 21
This Ard Fheis
  1. Re-asserts the view that the primary purpose of the Stormont Assembly and Executive is to administer and implement British government policy in the Six Counties.
  2. Recognises that the Stormont Executive willing agreement to implement cut-backs in public sector expenditure amounting to over £4 billion will increase even further the already unacceptably high levels of unemployment and social and economic disadvantage in the Six Counties.
  3. Views as duplicitous and deceitful, the consensus within the Stormont Executive of actively advocating a reduction in corporation tax levels while penalising workers and the less well-off in society.
Motion No 22
This Ard Fheis
  1. Is deeply concerned at the lack of action by the trade union leaderships in campaigning against cuts which already have hit living standards extremely harshly, cost thousands of jobs and damaged public services across Ireland.
  2. Encourages the general membership of the trade union movement to actively reclaim their movement from a failed elitist leadership that shows little interest in defending the interests of the working class.
  3. Supports and endorses those calls from grass-roots trades unionists for strike actions as a means of fighting back against the austerity measures being imposed on the working class across Ireland.
  4. Re-commits éirígí to joining with trades unionists, community and voluntary organisations and other progressive groupings in building grass-roots opposition to the cut backs being imposed by the Dublin government and Stormont Executive that are targeting the less well off and most vulnerable in our society.


Monday, 12 December 2011

éirígí honour Newry IRA Volunteers


12/12/11
éirígí held a wreath laying event in Newry yesterday [December 11] to remember three IRA volunteers, William Canning, John Francis O’Hare and Peter Shields who were killed in the Egyptian arch ambush on the Camlough Road.
This event marked the 91st anniversary of the ambush.
At the Egyptian Arch
Speaking at the event éirígí’s Newry area representative Stephen Murney paid tribute to the volunteers.
Stephen said, “We are here today to pay our respects to these courageous volunteers and the sacrifice they made on that cold December night 91 years ago. The ambush took place on the 12th December 1920 in the middle of the War of Independence when IRA units throughout the length and breadth of Ireland took on the might of the British Empire, laid ambushes and attacked RIC stations.
“Despite the odds being stacked against them they nonetheless faced the foe with outstanding courage and bravery. The principles by which the organisation stood and for which many of its members paid the ultimate sacrifice remain relevant almost a century later. Sadly their work remains unfinished and it’s now up to us to continue the fight for liberation.”
Stephen concluded, “As 2012 dawns Ireland, more than ever, needs a radical mass movement that will represent one class in society – the working people – and which will adopt but one attitude to the British occupation – that of uncompromising active resistance.”

éirígí Newry Offers Support and Solidarity to Republican Prisoners

éirígí would like to offer our solidarity and support to the republican prisoners on protest in Maghaberry.

This time of year is usually difficult enough for republican prisoners and their families but given that the prisoners have been on protest for several months makes it even harder.

23 hour lock up, regular beatings, strip searches and controlled movement are just some of the human rights abuses being inflicted on political prisoners in Maghaberry.

All that could be avoided if the Stormont Justice Minister, David Ford, would implement the agreement that was reached in August 2010.

In contravention of the agreement that was reached in August 2010, prisoners are regularly being subjected to humiliating strip searches and face the threat of beatings and the forced removal of their clothing when they refuse to consent to these searches. The prisoners are subjected to 23-24 hour lock-up and many have been forced to begin a no wash protest.

This is an intolerable situation that goes against not just the August 12 agreement but every notion of humane treatment.

On the outside there are regular protests, pickets and various other activities to raise awareness about the serious situation republican prisoners in Maghaberry find themselves in. In Newry a motion was passed by Newry & Mourne council to send a delegation to Maghaberry but this was blocked by British Minister Ford.

 éirígí extends its solidarity to the protesting prisoners in Maghaberry and pledges to continue supporting their struggle and that of their families until political status is secured. All those with an interest in human rights should do likewise.

Monday, 5 December 2011

PSNI Hold Schoolchildren at Gunpoint



04/12/11
“Educate that you may be free.” So wrote Thomas Davis in 1846.
Yet today in 2011 we have British forces, namely the PSNI, interfering with the education of our children. This occurred during an early morning house raid in the Parkhead area of Newry on Friday [December 2].
éirígí’s Stephen Murney received a phone call from a concerned member of the public and immediately made his way to the scene accompanied by Independent republican councillor Davy Hyland.
Stephen said, “We went not only to show solidarity and support to the victims of this raid but to also actively confront the PSNI gunmen who were responsible for traumatising this family including young children.
“When we arrived the PSNI had just left and we spoke to the mother of the kids. She explained to us that the PSNI placed them all under house arrest including her two daughters aged 10 and 12. As a result of this the children were unable to go to school and one of them missed her 1st year Christmas exam that she was due to sit that morning.”
Stephen continued, “A concerned neighbour also arrived and said she would take the children from the house and mind them so they wouldn’t be traumatised any further by these thugs. The PSNI refused this and held them in the living room at gunpoint.
“In recent times we have seen numerous quarters commenting on the PSNI coming into schools to talk to the pupils about various topics. Yet on the other hand this force is terrifying school children by kicking their doors in and preventing them from going to school at gunpoint, and in this case forcing a young girl to miss her exam.”
éirígí pledge to continue to expose the British police and their tactics. We urge anyone who is suffering similar treatment to contact éirígí and their solicitor.

“You Can’t Ride Two Horses with One Arse”



03/12/11
On Wednesday [November 30] éirígí members in Newry took to the streets with thousands of people in a display of support and solidarity with the working class.
The rally assembled at Daisy Hill hospital and marched through the city centre to the City Hall.
Colourful flags and banners belonging to the various unions were prominent throughout the route along with éirígí flags and our ‘Stormont Isn’t Working’ banner which drew much attention.
Stormont Isn’t Working banner
The night before the rally, éirígí members were busy in the centre of Newry putting stickers up regarding the cuts on public services. While they were engaging in this legitimate political activity the three activists were stopped & searched by the British forces (PSNI). The reason given for this stop and search was “due to the increased terrorist threat in this area”.
éirígí activists across the North marched with thousands of working class people in protest at the anti-social policies being implemented by the London government and its Stormont administration. Yet éirígí members preparing for this rally were held and harassed by Stormont’s anti-working class police force.
There were several main speakers at the rally, most notably the first speaker made reference to the Six-County elected representatives and brazenly told them, “You can’t ride two horses with one arse!” Her comments were met loud cheers with a rapturous round of applause by the thousands of people at the rally. The only ones who didn’t clap and cheer were the constitutional nationalists and Stormont supporters who stood awkwardly in the crowd not knowing where to look.
Speaking after the rally éirígí’s Stephen Murney said, “The sentiments expressed here today are correct. The Stormont politicians cannot ride two horses at once. They have picked which side they are on. They are on the side of the enemy of the working class and should be treated as such.
“éirígí are of the opinion that Stormont is unsustainable and the continued onslaught on public services is evidence of them dancing to the Tory tune and embracing, what can only be described as, Thatcherite politics with their constant attacks on the working class and our communities. Thatcherism, a theory that amounts to nothing less than social and economic vandalism, is alive and well in the halls of power.”
Terrorist stickers?
Stephen continued, “These attacks on public services is yet another example of how ‘Stormont isn’t working’, along with fuel poverty, unemployment, health cuts and benefits cuts all of which are implemented at the behest of the British Tory government.
“The increasingly obvious signal is that a new political, economic and social order is required right across Ireland to bring radical, meaningful and effective improvement to the lives of working class people. Stormont is a clear impediment to that.
“Only by organising in our communities, in our workplaces and on the streets can we build sufficient strength to defeat this attack on the working class.
“The message must be made clear to the British government and those who are prepared to do their dirty work in the Six Counties – they will not get away with what amounts to murder.”


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Political Policing in Ireland – Ten Years of the RUC/PSNI



26/11/11
Below is the text of a speech delivered by éirígí Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney at a public meeting on political policing organised by the Republican Congress at Queens University Belfast on Thursday evening [November 24].
Stephen Murney



















I want to thank the Republican Congress for inviting me here to speak of my experiences and the experiences of republicans in Newry with British policing.
Firstly I’d like to talk briefly about my childhood, when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. I come from a republican family in Newry where relatives having their houses raided was a regular occurrence. Family members being stopped & searched, sometimes 4-5 times a day was also a regular thing. Members of my family were beaten and arrested and imprisoned in British prisons for their republican beliefs and activities. When I was being taken to primary school in the mornings my mother would have been stopped and searched daily.
These things happened over 20 years ago, today I’m an adult, and I’m experiencing those exact same things on a regular basis.
Just over 10 years ago the RUC changed its name to the PSNI. Republicans knew at the time that this wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the functions and tactics used by the force. This wasn’t the first time this force had a name change. In 1922 it went from being called the RIC to the RUC and in 2001 it changed its name to the PSNI.
It’s ironic that 10 years after this force was given a lick of paint, the PSNI now has access to more repressive legislation than it ever had. It has ignored the European Court of Human Rights in regards to stop & search legislation, it continues to fire lethal plastic bullets at men, women and children, it has introduced tasers, has CS gas at its disposal, and in 2006 it was confirmed that Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie approved the PSNI policy of using children as informants to inform on their own family members. The PSNI also co-operates fully with the British army and MI5, indeed in the past year in Newry the PSNI have searched entire housing estates in joint operations along with the British army, placing these areas under siege.
Another example of the link between the British army and the PSNI is that in 2009 the former PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde gave the order for the covert British army unit the Special Reconnaissance Regiment to be deployed in occupied Ireland. This unit has close links with the SAS, where is the accountability there?
The rebranding of the RUC was described as “a new beginning” and was heralded as a “new era”. In 2007 during what was described as the “policing debate” some people made astonishing claims and promises. We were told that the PSNI would be held to account, we were told that manners would be put on the PSNI, we were told that we would control the PSNI and we were told that things would change for the better.
None of that has materialised.
In the Newry area there has been a notable increase in harassment directed towards éirígí members and other republicans in the past few years. Stop & searches happen on an almost daily basis, house raids are a regular occurrence. I have also had my home raided in the early hours by the PSNI using the excuse of searching for firearms and explosives.
Just a few weeks ago the PSNI using a battering ram, forced their way into the home of a member of éirígí under the guise of searching for firearms in Newry’s Derrybeg estate.
For several hours they searched the home, during which time they harassed residents and refused family members access to the victim’s house. Some of those involved in the raid were dressed in white forensic suits and had sniffer dogs with them. When the victim’s family members arrived at the scene they had assault rifles pointed at them and PSNI gunmen pretended to be shooting at them in a petty display of intimidation, assaults and arrests also take place on a regular basis.
It’s now common practice for republicans in Newry to be assaulted and arrested during stop & searches and then the victim finds themselves facing charges and being hauled before British courts. I myself am currently facing a total of nine charges after being assaulted and arrested during a stop & search operation even though I was handcuffed and then punched and kicked by several members of the PSNI in front of my mother, sister and neighbours.
Several of my friends and comrades in Newry have also experienced the exact same treatment.
Numerous times they have placed entire communities under siege, which in turn causes riot situations. In recent years we have seen the worst rioting in Newry in over a decade as a result of these tactics used by the PSNI.
Children have also been targeted by the PSNI in Newry. We have cases of children as young as 14 being stopped and searched under draconian acts. A few months ago the PSNI stopped a bus full of kids just a few miles outside Newry. The kids were returning from what should have been an enjoyable day trip to Dublin to celebrate Father’s Day but were stopped by the PSNI and British army just outside Banbridge.
A few of us from Newry received a phone call telling us what was happening, we travelled the short distance to where the PSNI and British army were holding the victims but we were prevented from getting anywhere near them by armed PSNI and British army gunmen.
Crying children, as young as 4 years of age, were separated from their parents. The kids were then searched for weapons, searched for ammunition, swabbed for explosives, videoed and photographed. One child wet himself with fear and was forced by the PSNI and British army to stand at the side of the road crying, soaked in his own urine.
This is child abuse.
Quite a lot of the attention that éirígí activists receive in Newry is completely unwarranted and is a perfect example of how unchanged and unaccountable this force is and how they pursue a strategy of engaging in political policing. A lot of the harassment has occurred when we are involved in political activities such as delivering leaflets, erecting posters and banners and taking part in peaceful protests and pickets. These activities are widely accepted as legitimate political activities but when you partake in this type of activism in occupied Ireland you find yourself being stopped and searched for munitions and wireless apparatus.
If you disagree with the Stormont administration, oppose the British forces, speak out against injustices and human rights abuses that are carried out by the PSNI, and even though you may not currently support armed struggle, you will automatically find yourself labelled as being anti-peace process, a dissident, a conflict junkie and you then find yourself becoming a target of political policing, stop and searches, house raids and harassment.
We could, however, always go for the easy option and support the British police like our former comrades have. If we did that then our lives would be much easier. We wouldn’t get stopped and searched on a regular basis, nor would we have our homes raided. And I’m certain we wouldn’t find ourselves being assaulted and arrested by armed thugs of the British state. But that’s isn’t an option for us because we are Irish republicans.
The PSNI and their supporters might try to present the force as a fresh new beginning but they simply follow the same failed anti-republican agenda and strategy of harassment and intimidation they have always used to try and suppress republicanism.
The PSNI cannot be reformed, just like the RUC and the RIC before it could not be reformed. The issue of policing in Ireland will not be resolved until partition and British occupation is ended. Until that happens we will always have two militias operating in two different states to protect the interests of those states. The PSNI is at the frontline of protecting those in power, the occupation and upholding the British state it serves and protects.
So what has changed since 2001?
Well it’s clear that, for republicans, nothing has changed.

Building for November 30



Twenty trade unions representing around 175,000 public sector workers in the Six Counties have voted to strike next Wednesday, November 30. They will join million of workers in Britain for what union leaders there believe will be the biggest strike action since 1926.
This mass strike has been declared in response to the assault by the Tory-led government in London on the pensions of workers in the public sector.
This assault has come in a number of ways. The first is that the Tories wish to change the way pensions are adjusted each year for inflation. They want to change the way this is measured from the retail prices index (RPI) to the consumer prices index (CPI), which will cut 15 per cent from the value of public sector pensions.
The second is that the Tories will increase the pension contribution public sector workers make by 3.2 per cent by 2015. This is taken from workers’ wages and amounts to a new tax directly solely at public sector workers. Traditionally pension contributions are agreed through negotiation but in this instance the British government has decided to ram it through unilaterally.
The Stormont executive voted in September to follow the Tory line and introduce this measure to the Six Counties, though its Scottish counterpart has opposed the increase as long as the pay freeze remains in effect in the public sector.
The third measure is that the age of retirement in the public sector will be increased. So, the Tory-Lib Dem plan for the future of pensions is that workers will have to work longer and contribute more for pensions that are worth less.
Attacking the conditions of public sector workers is merely the thin edge of the wedge. The agenda of the Tories is ultimately to attack all public services – health, education, public transport, social welfare, and more – services that are of no use or importance to the millionaire-filled British cabinet and their capitalist masters.
November 30 will see teachers, classroom assistants, lunchladies and principals stepping out of school to join other public sector workers in rallies all over the Six Counties. Marches and rallies will take place in Belfast, Derry, Newry, Ballymena, Cookstown, Downpatrick, Magherafelt, Omagh, Portadown and more.
These rallies will send a strong message, but more will be needed. The trade unions have all voted in favour of further action beyond the strike on November 30. This ongoing campaign will include work-to-rule actions, lunchtime protests and more, with the possibility of more all-out strike action in the future.
In the end, only a concerted effort by public sector workers and the working-class communities who depend on their services will defeat the anti-social policies being implemented by the London government and its Stormont administration.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Political Policing in Ireland- Ten Years of the RUC/PSNI


Dispelling the Myth


To mark the tenth anniversary of the RUC’s cosmetic change to the PSNI 
and to highlight its daily harassment of Republican activists,
the Republican Congress have organised a public meeting to be addressed by:
  • Chris Donnelly (RC/IRSP)
  • Stephen Murney (éirígí)
  • Ciaran Murphy (RNU) 
Taking place this Thursday, November 24th at 7pm in the
Elmwood Learning and Teaching centre, 216 PCS, Elmwood avenue, 
Belfast (behind Queen’s Student’s Union).