Thursday, 29 September 2011

Newry éirígí Activist Arrested & Beaten

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith has said yesterday’s [Wednesday] assault and arrest of a party member in Newry is the culmination of a long campaign against republicans in the area by the PSNI.
Stephen Murney, éirígí’s Newry area representative, was held for seven hours and charged with a string of offences after he intervened to check on the welfare of a neighbour who was having his car searched by the PSNI.

Mac Cionnaith said: “Republicans in Newry, including éirígí activists and supporters, have been suffering incessant harassment at the hands of the PSNI for some time now. This harassment has included assaults, arrests, house searches and constant stop and searches. In the last number of weeks, the PSNI has decided to add to this list the policy of harassing parents outside schools when they are dropping their children off or picking them up.

“Yesterday, the PSNI began yet another day by raiding homes on the Derrybeg estate and, later, searching cars in the area. éirígí representative Stephen Murney was present in both instances to offer solidarity to the affected residents. However, the PSNI decided to take exception to his presence and moved to arrest him, punching, kicking and threatening him with further violence in the process.

“After seven hours in custody in Armagh barracks, in the course of which the political police demanded unsuccessfully that he document political activities in Derrybeg, Stephen was charged with a string of spurious offences. We will be challenging these charges and are confident they can be beaten.”
The charges are:
  • Two counts of assaulting PSNI officers
  • Two counts of resisting arrest
  • Two counts of disorderly behaviour
  • Two counts of obstruction
  • One count of fraud, as the date of birth on his provisional driving license was wrong

Mac Cionnaith added: “There is no longer any doubt that the PSNI is both incapable and unwilling to transform itself into a civic police service. The force is nothing more than a sectarian unionist militia, dedicated to protecting the British occupation.

“While incidents like yesterday’s are habitually greeted with silence and indifference by the PSNI’s nationalist cheerleaders on the Six County Policing Board, people in working class communities are increasingly willing to stand up to these thugs in uniform. This was witnessed in Derrybeg yesterday when many residents left their homes to challenge the PSNI when they were assaulting and arresting Stephen.

“éirígí will not take the mistreatment of its membership by state forces lying down. The PSNI should be aware that the party will not be deterred by any amount of harassment or beatings. Anyone who is suffering similar behaviour at the hands of the PSNI should contact their solicitor or éirígí.”

Below is Stephen Murney’s account of yesterday’s arrest.

“At roughly 9am, a large convoy of armoured landrovers and cars descended on the Derrybeg estate. They raided a home in the area and took the usual from the house, including a child’s X Box. I visited the victims during the raid to see how they were and to see if they needed anything.

“At 12pm, I was in Main Avenue, Derrybeg when I observed a neighbour getting his car searched by the PSNI. A small crowd of residents had gathered to watch and I went over and asked my neighbour if he was okay.

“The cops came straight over and told me to “Fuck off up the street” and mind my own business. I told them I was concerned at the treatment my neighbour was receiving as well as them tormenting the residents of Derrybeg on a regular basis and that I would stay to observe what was happening.

“I was then grabbed by both arms by two of the thugs, who then assaulted me. They took me over to a wall and pushed me into it with such force one of the coping stones came off. They twisted my arms up my back and placed the handcuffs on me. I was then punched in the ribs several times and kicked in the legs while I was handcuffed. On two occasions, one of the officers told me he was going to break my jaw.

“This happened in full view of numerous residents, including my mother and sister, who were all disgusted with the cops and challenged them. The PSNI then aggressively pushed and shoved them out of the way. The residents of Derrybeg should be commended for challenging them.

“I was then taken to Armagh barracks where I was photographed and had my fingerprints and DNA taken.

“At the barracks, a doctor examined me and noted cuts, marks and swelling to my wrists and arms and bruised and sore ribs. I was held for roughly seven hours, during which time the PSNI attempted unsuccessfully to conduct an “intelligence interview” with me. I was then released on bail to appear in court on October 26.”

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Stormont Isn't Working !

Stormont Isn't Working banner erected by local éirígí activists in Ray McCreesh park

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Newry & Mourne District Council Maghaberry Delegation Refused

éirígí in Newry have expressed their deep disappointment and anger at the decision by the British prison service to decline a request by Newry & Mourne District Council to send a delegation to visit republican prisoners currently on protest.

In July the council unanimously agreed to send a delegation to Maghaberry to investigate the prisoners’ concerns, the instigator of the successful motion was Independent republican Councillor  Davy Hyland who has expressed his disappointment at the decision.

Davy said “It’s disgraceful that the NIPS, under the auspices of the so-called “Justice” minister, have refused the councils request with no reason being given. It would have been an important opportunity for councillors and council officials to hear at first hand what republican prisoners have to endure. I will continue to highlight the situation in Maghaberry and promise to do everything in my power to make people aware of the human rights abuses being carried out against republican prisoners in the gaol on a daily basis”

His sentiments were echoed by éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney.

“When it was first announced that Davy’s motion was passed we, and the families of the prisoners, were jubilant, and were of the opinion that this would bring more attention to the issue as well as more pressure on British minister Ford. However it soon became clear that David Fords office were dragging their heels on the issue and didn’t want the council delegation to go to Maghaberry.”

“The British prison service didn’t even give a reason for refusing the councils request. I would personally like to commend Councillor Davy Hyland and also former Councillor Martin Connolly who both raised the issue in the chamber. If it wasn’t for them it would most likely have never been mentioned in the council chamber”Stephen said.

Stephen concluded “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.”

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Successful Information Stall in Newry

éirígí held a very successful information stall in Newry city centre yesterday [September 3].

The stall was in place for several hours in Hill Street and attracted much attention from many people on this busy shopping day.

Several éirígí activists manned the stall and distributed almost 2,000 éirígí publications highlighting a number of issues including the socio-economic situation, the unchanged nature of Britain’s locally recruited militia, the PSNI, and the blight of sectarian intimidation and harassment endured by the people of Newry in recent times. Badges, flags, stickers, proclamations and posters were also available on the stall.

Newry information stall

Speaking at the stall éirígí’s Stephen Murney commended the local activists for holding the event.
Stephen said, “We are here today to engage with the people of Newry at a grassroots level, on the streets. Many of them are deeply angered and worried about the draconian cuts being imposed on them by the Tories through the Stormont administration as well as the impeding rise in electricity and coal prices.

“It was very heartening to see both young and old showing an interest in éirígí. Several relatives of fallen volunteers also approached us and commended us for the great work we have been doing.

Newry information stall

“Today we showed working class people that there is an alternative and that it doesn’t have to be this way. The wealth of this country belongs, of right, to the people of this country, not to the British government, their accomplices in Stormont, multinational companies or a small class of native capitalists. It is time to recognise what has failed the working class people of Ireland. Capitalism has failed, British rule has failed, partition has failed and Stormont has failed. It is time to start laying the foundation stones of a new society, a society based on socialism and national independence.

“The starting point is fighting back. Fighting to defend the public services and workers’ wages and conditions; fighting against unemployment and British government-Stormont cutbacks.”

Stephen concluded, “We would like to thank the people of Newry for the warm welcome we received. Such was the success of this community engagement initiative we are now exploring the possibility of making this a regular event.”