Monday, 30 April 2012

Court Upholds Spurious PSNI Charges Against éirígí Activist

Stephen Murney
A PSNI campaign of constant harassment against Newry éirígí activist Stephen Murney resulted in a Six County court upholding the PSNI’s vindictiveness on Friday, April 27.

Last September, the PSNI mounted yet another operation on the Derrybeg estate in Newry, raiding and searching homes, cars and individuals. éirígí representative Stephen Murney was present in the area to offer solidarity to the affected residents. However, around mid-day, the PSNI took exception to his presence and moved to arrest him, punching, kicking and threatening him with further violence in the process. Stephen was then arrested, handcuffed and unceremoniously bundled into a PSNI vehicle and taken to Armagh barracks where he was eventually charged before being released seven hours later.

On Friday, Newry court heard the full details of the spurious PSNI case against Stephen. Prior to the commencement of the hearing, a protest was held outside the courthouse in support of Stephen which also highlighted ongoing PSNI harassment of Republicans.

The case itself, scheduled to start at 10.30am, was delayed for almost two and a half hours as all three of the PSNI witnesses for the prosecution had failed to appear for the court hearing.

In other instances, the non-appearance of all of the prosecution witnesses would often lead to the automatic dismissal of a case. Not so in Stephen’s case. Instead, the magistrate allowed the Prosecution Service to contact the PSNI and to give the PSNI personnel additional time to turn up.

When the case eventually commenced at a few minutes before one o’clock after the trio eventually arrived, it was clear that the case against Stephen was a largely concocted one.

The first PSNI member to give evidence had no “pocket book” with her to confirm that her statement was based on contemporaneous notes made at the time of Stephen’s arrest. She was then given time to drive to Tandragee barracks to get her pocket book. In the meantime, evidence given by PSNI witness number two differed from that of the first, while the evidence of PSNI witness number three failed to match any of that given by the previous two.

A further delay of over another hour then ensued while the court waited on the first PSNI witness to return back from Tandragee.

Disregarding the major inconsistencies in the PSNI evidence, the magistrate then went on to criticise Stephen for refusing to answer any questions put to him by the PSNI while he had been held in Armagh barracks.

It was clear from the outset of the hearing that, given widest possible degree of latitude which the magistrate had afforded to the PSNI, the outcome was going to be a foregone conclusion.

Setting aside six of the charges against Stephen, the magistrate found him guilty on the remaining three charges of resisting arrest and obstructing and assaulting one member of the PSNI and not all three PSNI members as argued by the prosecution and which eight of the original nine charges had alleged. He then fined Stephen £600.

Speaking outside Newry courthouse after the case, éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “The only thing that Stephen is responsible for is that he was prepared to assist his neighbours in the Derrybeg estate as they had their homes and cars raided and searched by the PSNI – searches that, it should be remembered, uncovered absolutely nothing. Assisting one’s neighbours is neither blameworthy nor wrong; indeed, it is to be commended.

“If the PSNI and courts believe that they can deter activists such as Stephen Murney from engaging in normal political activities which is exactly what Stephen was doing at the time of his arrest, they are badly mistaken.”

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Newry éirígí activist to contest charges

éirígí’s Newry spokesperson will contest charges brought against him by the PSNI at a court hearing due to be held tomorrow, Friday, April 27.

In September, Stephen Murney was arrested and beaten by the PSNI during a British state forces operation in the Derrybeg estate. Stephen had been in the area in response to requests from local residents who were extremely concerned and alarmed by the PSNI’s aggressive behaviour during a very heavy-handed operation, which saw local homes being raided, residents being harassed on the street and cars searched.

As Stephen and other members of the local community remonstrated with the PSNI over their behaviour, PSNI personnel singled Stephen out and then assaulted and arrested him.

After being beaten, Stephen was taken to Armagh PSNI barracks where he was held for seven hours before being charged with several spurious offences, including resisting arrest and assault – even though it was he who was the victim of the assault.

After several court appearances a date has now been set for a full hearing of the case on April 27.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

éirígí "Know your rights" Belfast launch

 The PSNI, like the RUC before it, habitually harasses citizens as a core component of its activities. Confronted by these forces, many people unknowingly waive a number of their basic rights. Regrettably, due to the sheer number of repressive laws available to the British state forces, a great number of people are simply unaware as to what their rights are. For others, these forces are imposing and even intimidating figures of power and, as a result, they simply do as they are told. Whatever the case, we know that the PSNI act in opposition to the interests of the working class and, therefore, it falls to us to defend our own rights.

To defend them, you must know them!

Pass On!

State Force Provocation Continues in Newry

Stephen Murney with a mountain of stop & search records
The first half of April has seen an upsurge in PSNI harassment in the Newry area. During the first sixteen days of the month, éirígí has been inundated with numerous reports of harassment taking place.

éirígí activists, former republican prisoners, adults, children and people going about their daily basis have all been targeted by the PSNI.

Below, éirígí has listed 21 incidents of harassment reported to the party so far this month. On some days there are more than one incident. As these incidents include only those reported to the party, it is likely the actual figure of people harassed by the PSNI in the Newry area during this period is higher.

  • 1st April – A local man was taking his 7-year-old son to Gaelic this morning. The child plays for one of the local youth teams and was due to have a photo shoot with his young team mates. The PSNI stopped and searched them on the Camlough Road under Sections 21 & 24. They were searched for ammunition, wireless apparatus & transmitters. They were held for half an hour resulting in the young child missing his GAA photo shoot.
  • 1st April – Later that evening another local man was stopped & searched in Patrick Street while going about his daily business. The militia targeted him using Sections 21 & 24 of the Justice & Security act. He also had to endure a humiliating body search in full public view. After being held for half an hour he was eventually allowed on his way.
  • 3rd April – A young man was stopped and searched in the Rathfriland Road area. He was held for half an hour during which time he was questioned about his movements and searched.
  • 4th April – A local man was stopped and searched at a checkpoint on the Belfast Road. He was held under “anti-terror” legislation and had his car ripped apart by PSNI gunmen. This patrol was particularly aggressive. The man was eventually allowed to go on his way after nothing was found.
  • 5th April – A total of ten PSNI gunmen in two armoured cars and an armoured landrover surrounded four éirígí activists at gunpoint in Monaghan Street. At the time the activists were erecting “Britain Out Of Ireland” posters and were threatened with arrest if they didn’t stop what were clearly legitimate political activities. All the activists were searched for ammunition, wireless apparatus and transmitters and had their movements recorded. The PSNI paid particular attention to éirígí’s Newry representative, stating, “We have stopped you before Mr Murney haven’t we?” After being detained for half an hour the activists were allowed on their way and carried on with their political activities undeterred.
  • 7th April – A republican was stopped & searched on the Rathfriland Road. He was held for 20 minutes, questioned, searched and had his movements recorded.
  • 11th April – Another day in “normalised” Newry with the PSNI militia swamping the Carnagat, Parkhead and Derrybeg areas for several hours. One republican was arrested and taken from his family. Residents were harassed and intimidated for the duration of this exercise in “community policing”.
  • 12th April – A local republican was stopped & searched twice within a half hour period. This incident happened in Canal Street. A short time later another local was also stopped & searched in the same area. A total of seven car loads of PSNI personnel were involved in these incidents.
  • 13th April – The man who had been stopped & searched twice within half an hour the previous night was again stopped again on his way to work. He was held for half an hour, interrogated about his identity, movements and searched.
  • 13th April – A local republican was stopped and searched in his car near the Dublin Road. He was held for up to 45 minutes while his car was ripped apart by members of the heavily armed PSNI.
  • 13th April – éirígí’s Stephen Murney was targeted by a PSNI patrol in the Cornmarket area of Newry. As the PSNI personnel stepped from their armoured car, they immediately radioed for further reinforcements. Two more armoured cars arrived and all the PSNI personnel armed with assault rifles decamped from the vehicles to surround the political activist. He was questioned about his identity (even though they initially called him by his first name), his movements were noted and he was searched at gunpoint. Stephen began to note down the ID numbers of the paramilitaries but a number of them including a senior officer refused and hid their numbers from view stating that they “didn’t have to” give their numbers. Stephen was also threatened with arrest before eventually being allowed to continue on his way.
Stop & Search
  • 15th April – Yet more RUC/PSNI harassment of parents and children in Newry on Sunday morning. A local man was taking his young son to football practice when his car was surrounded by members of the state militia’s Tactical Support Group (TSG). He was held for quite some time while the so-called community police force searched him and his car. He had to phone for a friend to come and pick up the child so that he would not miss practice. When his friend arrived to collect the child he too was detained & searched by the PSNI.
  • 15th April – A local republican and former republican prisoner was stopped in his car at a PSNI checkpoint in the centre of Newry. He was held, questioned and searched and his car was searched too.
  • 16th April – A local republican was stopped & searched twice in the space of a few hours. The second time he was stopped in his car on the Camlough Road. His car was thoroughly searched and he was also searched. Three car loads of the PSNI were involved.

Speaking about the ongoing harassment éirígí’s Stephen Murney said, “These incidents are not surprising in the slightest. It’s clear that the PSNI remains just as unaccountable and unreformable as their predecessors in the RUC. It is noticeable that those parties that have given their support to the PSNI and who promised “to put manners” on that force have totally failed to do that. The PSNI attitude is clearly one of doing what they want, when they want.

“We are currently organising a number of initiatives to counter British state force harassment in Newry. In the very near future we will be holding a number of events to highlight this upsurge in harassment in the Newry area and we also will be launching a “Know Your Rights” campaign. The details will be publicised in the near future.”

  • éirígí will be launching a 'Know Your Rights' card relating to stop & search procedures on Thursday 26th April. The launch will take place at 7pm in the Conway Education Centre, Conway Mill, Belfast.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Remember the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living

Hundreds of republicans and socialists gathered in Belfast’s Milltown cemetery on Monday [April 9] to mark the 96th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The crowd was joined by the Volunteers Patricia Black & Frankie Ryan Memorial Flute Band and the Pollok & Thornliebank Republican Flute Band as they made their way from the cemetery gates to the Harbinson plot in the heart of Milltown.

Colour party

The commemorative event was chaired by éirígí’s John McCusker, who spoke of the importance of Easter as a time to remember the sacrifices of the past and to recommit to the struggle now and into the future. Paraphrasing the Irish-born socialist and union organiser ‘Mother’ Mary Jones, McCusker urged the 800-strong crowd to “to remember our dead, not only today but always, and for all of us to redouble our efforts to fight like hell for the living.”

Amhrán na bhFiann was then performed by the Pollok & Thornliebank RFB, and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was read by Armagh ex-prisoner Fionnuala Perry of the Irish Republican Martyrs Commemoration Committee.


Following the lament and a minute’s silence in memory of the dead, wreaths were laid on behalf of the IRMCC, éirígí, republican ex-prisoners, Family and Friends of Republican Prisoners Maghaberry, James Connolly Republican Society, and éirígí Newry.

McCusker then introduced the main speaker of the day. Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson was unable to attend due to a family bereavement, and condolences were expressed from the platform to Leeson and his family. Daithí Mac an Mháistir of Dublin then gave the main oration.

John McCusker

In his address, Mac an Mháistir declared that Irish freedom could not truly be achieved under capitalism. He said, “While it is important to reflect upon and remember the heroism and sacrifice of those we are gathered here to commemorate, what is required more than anything today is that we recommit to strive & struggle in whatever way we can for the realisation of the Irish Socialist Republic that the Easter Rising in many respects proclaimed. It is for this objective and nothing short of it that Ireland’s pantheon of freedom fighters fought and died throughout the last hundred years.

“Recommitting ourselves to this objective is the only form of homage appropriate to the memory of those who fell in that fateful week in 1916, and in all subsequent periods of struggle for Irish freedom. Ireland is not free, and recommitting ourselves to actively struggling for its freedom is the only logical way to conceive of this objective being realised.”

 1916 commemoration speech by Daithí Mac an Mháistir

Ar dtús báire ba mhaith liom mo fhíorbhuíochas a ghabáil do éirígí Béal Feirste as ucht iarraidh orm teacht anseo inniu chun labhairt ar an ocáid cuimhneacháin seo ar Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916. Go raibh maith agaibh.

Is ollmhór an onóir dom bheith i gcroí-lár ghluaiseacht na Poblacta, Iarthar Bhéal Feirste, i measc laochra na saoirse – i measc shaighdiúirí na Poblacta on nglún seo agus ó na glúin a tháinig romhainn atá ina luí sa chré thart timpeall orainn, agus libshe, na daoine uaisle a choimeádann muinín sna cuspóirí álainne ar son a thug said a gcuid saol luachmhara.

Firstly, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to éirígí Béal Feirste for inviting me here today to speak on this the occasion of the commemoration of the 96th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

It is a true honour to be here in the heart of Republican West Belfast amongst the heroes of Ireland – amongst the martyred soldiers of Ireland from this and previous generations who are buried here in the hallowed grounds of this cemetery – and amongst you, the noble, risen people who have kept faith with the objectives for which they gave their precious lives.

I would particularly like to take this opportunity to salute the memory of Volunteer Daniel Burke, of the Irish Republican Army’s Belfast Brigade, 1st Battalion, who died on active service on this day in 1974.

We come here today on this Easter Monday not alone to reflect and remember, but to recommit also.

While it is important to reflect upon and remember the heroism and sacrifice of those we are gathered here to commemorate, what is required more than anything today is that we recommit to strive & struggle in whatever way we can for the realisation of the Irish Socialist Republic that the Easter Rising in many respects proclaimed.

It is for this objective and nothing short of it that Ireland’s pantheon of freedom fighters fought and died throughout the last hundred years.

Re-committing ourselves to this objective is the only form of homage appropriate to the memory of those who fell in that fateful week in 1916, and in all subsequent periods of struggle for Irish freedom.

Ireland is not free, and recommitting ourselves to actively struggling for its freedom is the only logical way to conceive of this objective being realised.

It will not fall from the sky, nor will it be achieved through wishful thinking or attempts to kill unionism with kindness. Neither will it be achieved by the donning of sackcloth and ashes, or by talk of reconciliation with the forces of reaction.

Given the fact of the ongoing occupation of the six-county area and the catastrophic effects that the crisis of capitalism is having on people right across Ireland, it should be self-evident to all right thinking people that the goal of revolution in Ireland is as justified and necessary today as it ever has been. It is certainly the case that more and more people are coming to believe this.

In recognition of this reality, it is essential that we prepare our forces in earnest for the coming period of struggle before us. The class struggle is at its most heightened in decades. The battle lines are drawn very clearly for all to see between the ‘masters of the universe’ and the ‘wretched of the earth’.

We must prepare our forces well because we have ‘a world to win’ and our enemy is strong.

We must redouble their efforts to build a revolutionary movement that is capable of sweeping away once and for all the rotten edifice that is the political and economic system in Ireland, north and south. In this regard we are firmly of the belief that the primary, and as yet still elusive, objective of the glorious Rising of Easter week – that being the liberation of the people of Ireland – is impossible under capitalism.

In this regard, we are firmly of the belief that is impossible to talk of freedom under capitalism.

It is our firm belief also that we will have to fight is we are to successfully achieve our primary objectives of removing the British presence from Ireland and casting off the scourge of capitalism once and for all.

It will fall upon people just like those of us gathered here today to step into the breach and do the fighting – it will be people like us who come from the revolutionary Fenian tradition who will fight for Ireland’s freedom, or it will be no-one. It has always been this way.

Just as the men and women of 1916 struck out for Irish freedom, so too will this generation have to.

To come here and commit to do anything less or anything different than struggle for full Irish freedom would be an affront to the lessons and legacy of 1916, and to the memory of all those interred here.

By our deeds and actions we must show that we are as worthy of belonging to the same august tradition of service to the cause of Ireland’s freedom and the exaltation of its people as the martyrs we remember here today proved themselves to be.

If, as James Connolly noted, “The national movement of our day is not merely to re-enact the old sad tragedies of our past history, it must show itself capable of rising to the exigencies of the moment.

“It must demonstrate to the people of Ireland that our nationalism is not merely a morbid idealising of the past, but is also capable of formulating a distinct and definite answer to the problems of the present and a political and economic creed capable of adjustment to the wants of the future.”

In this respect we must set ourselves apart from those who pay lip service to the true meaning of 1916.

We must show the people that we are deadly serious in our commitment to a Socialist Republic, where our socialism will in practice equate to “the application to agriculture and industry; to the farm, the field, and the workshop, of the democratic principle of the republican ideal”, and not merely some vacuous, empty rhetoric about an ‘Ireland of equals’.

We are entering into a period of historical commemoration of the centenaries of some of the formative events of the last hundred years of Irish history, the 1913 Lock-Out and 1916 of course being two of the most significant for socialist republicans.

You can be assured that the establishment and the political parties that support and defend it will each vie to appropriate the legacy of the revolutionary period that spanned the years from 1913 to 1921.

Well. Let me say one thing with absolute certainty.

The volunteers of Easter week would be scathing of the hypocrisy of those who claim to be Republican yet practice politics that see them supporting a British police force that harasses Irish republicans preparing to remember their dead, as happened to éirígí activists here in this city and in Newry in the last week.

They would be scathing also of those who ”bubble with love and enthusiasm for ‘Ireland’, and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland, wrought by Irishmen upon Irishmen and women, without burning to end it”.

They would be scathing too of so-called socialist republicans who endorse Tory slave-labour ‘workfare’ proposals from the vantage point of their Stormont ivory-tower committees.

These people are, are Connolly declaimed them to be, frauds and liars in their hearts.

We however know what we are. We are of the same faith as those who gave their lives in pursuit of the noblest of causes.

We have remained true to the fight to free humanity for evermore from the bonds of oppression and injustice.

Of 1916 it is indeed no exaggeration to state that ‘never had man or woman a grander cause, never was a cause more grandly served’.

Never was there a grander cause than the cause of freedom. Never was it more grandly served than by those who are buried here in Milltown cemetery.

The martyrs of the Irish freedom struggle, of 1916 and beyond, died that the nation might live; that the British political and military presence in Ireland be obliterated; that the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland be vindicated and made a reality; that a free People’s Republic take its rightful place amongst the nations of the world.

They have set the benchmark for all of us in struggle. Their sacrifice is an enduring reminder of the lengths that we must be prepared to go to in resisting that which is wrong and in attempting to bring about that which is right.

Their example is a testament to the fact that there can never be compromise with imperialism and occupation, and that there can never be compromise with injustice.

Their memory steels those of us who are dedicated to rebuilding a revolutionary socialist republican movement in that firm conviction. It steels us, to paraphrase Bobby Sands, “to fight back our tears and scorn our fears, and cast aside our pain. For loud and high we must sing our cry, ‘A Nation once again!’”.

I measc laochra na nGael go raibh a n-anamacha dílse uilig.

Beirigí bua agus Tiocfaidh ár lá.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

PSNI "make life hell"

At War With Our Dead in Life and Death

Within one week, and within one mile of the resting place of many of our republican dead, the forces they opposed in life have attempted to deter their commemoration in death.

On Saturday 31st March, four éirígí activists erecting a banner at the junction of the Falls and Whiterock Roads, encouraging people to remember our patriot dead, noticed that they were being surveilled by the PSNI.

Following a number of sightings, two armoured personnel carriers screeched to a stop beside the activists and out decamped a number of heavily armed paramilitary police operatives, who proceeded to stop, search and detain them, as well as members of the public who had stopped to express their concern for those being held against their will.

A mere week later, on Saturday 7th April, nine éirígí activists and supporters were distributing Easter commemoration leaflets, in the Turf Lodge area of the city. After a short period they too noticed that they were being surveilled by an unmarked PSNI car, which prompted a resident to remark that it was “ridiculous that you can’t even walk your own streets”.

Soon, this car was joined by a marked car and an armoured jeep. The posse now fully formed, out jumped upwards of ten PSNI personnel, a number of whom were armed with assault rifles. The lead officer then proceeded to barge into and push éirígí’s Upper Falls representative, Pádraic Mac Coitir.

Upon being challenged, and having rather clumsily fumbled their way through their own legislation, the PSNI proceeded to detain, question and, in some cases, search the nine ‘leafleteers’, much to the disgust of local residents.

Commenting on both incidents, Pádraic Mac Coitir condemned the ongoing harassment and commended the fortitude of the activists.

“Easter week is arguably the most hallowed period in the republican calendar, when we remember the men and women of 1916 and every subsequent generation of Irish rebels.

“Those in Belfast City Hall have made much of their plans to commemorate a no doubt sanitised and revised version of the events of 1916, for its centenary. Yet, when republicans of the city seek to commemorate their own dead they are met with the jackboot of the British state, the PSNI.

“Despite their attempts at intimidation, the éirígí activists involved were unflinching in their efforts to build a commemoration befitting those being remembered.

“The banners went up and the leaflets went out.

“Now, all that remains is for all socialists and republicans to attend this, and other events, sending a message to the wreckers that we will not be cowed.”

In conclusion, and in direct reference to increasing PSNI harassment, Pádraic stated that the long-awaited ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign, initiated by éirígí some time ago, is to be publicly launched by the party in the coming weeks.

“The PSNI, like the RUC before them, habitually abuse the rights of Irish citizens. We aim to dispel some of the myths around a number of these ‘Stop and Search’ provisions and powers, which will empower people to be more assertive in the face of them.

“It should also be noted that the PSNI are but one abuser of rights in this society and as the campaign unfolds a number of other abusers will be identified and campaigned against as well.”

Clann éirígí membership now available online

Clann éirígí
At the November 2011 éirígí Ard-Fheis the party launched a new national and international supporters’ organisation called Clann éirígí (the word ‘clann’ is the Irish for ‘family’). On Easter Sunday 2012 Clann éirígí went online with the launch of an electronic application form on the éirígí website.

In return for an annual membership fee (€20 waged / €5 unwaged) members of Clann éirígí receive:

Four quarterly newsletters (two hardcopy and two electronic)

  • A green star badge
  • Visitor status at éirígí Ard-Fheiseanna (numbers permitting)
  • Notice of upcoming éirígí events in their area (where appropriate)

Membership of Clann éirígí is open to those who are:

  • Over sixteen years of age
  • Resident anywhere in the world, including Ireland
  • Supportive of the principles and objectives of éirígí as contained within Bunreacht éirígí

Speaking in relation to the online launch of Clann éirígí, rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “In the six years since éirígí was founded the need for a formal éirígí supporters’ organisation has become increasingly clear to us. Hundreds of people from all corners of the globe have indicated their desire to join either éirígí or some form of éirígí support organisation. Up until now we have been unable to accommodate these international supporters.

“And here in Ireland countless others have made it clear that they would join a formal support organisation, should one exist. Many of these people, who are unable to join the main party for a wide variety of genuine reasons, still want to be a formal part of our project. Clann éirígí is recognition of the fact that many people simply cannot commit the sort of time and energy that is required for membership of an activism-based organisation like éirígí.

“Clann éirígí is aimed at those people both inside and outside of Ireland who want to formally align themselves with the objectives, analysis and activism of éirígí. For a relatively small sum of money it allows people to show solidarity with the struggle for Irish freedom whilst also keeping themselves abreast of important developments via the quarterly newsletter and electronic updates. I would encourage anyone who supports éirígí, regardless of where they live, to join Clann éirígí and make a positive step towards building the Irish revolutionary movement that our great country needs.”

To join Clann éirígí please go to the ‘Join Us’ page and fill in the Clann éirígí application form. The ‘Join Us’ page can be accessed here.