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Faceless Operatives Targeting Real People

21/08/12

PSNIThe hallmarks of ‘policing’ from the shadows were on display in a recent case of harassment directed at an éirígí activist in Belfast.

In addition to their broader campaign of harassment of the civilian population, the PSNI, along with the British intelligence and judicial agencies, are increasingly targeting political and social activists for ‘special treatment’. Designed to frustrate, isolate and incarcerate, these campaigns intend to place extraordinary amounts of pressure on ordinary people, in the hope that they will be deterred from their legitimate political activities.

One such case involves an éirígí activist in Belfast. Having been stopped, searched and harassed on a number of occasions whilst engaging in legitimate political actions, the activist involved has experienced a sinister series of events designed, no doubt, to curtail his criticism of the status quo. Having parked his car in the vicinity of a friend’s house, a considerable distance from his own home, he was later to receive a phone call to say that the PSNI had entered his car and conducted a search on it, without anyone being present.

More worryingly still, during the course of the search an unmarked and non-standard PSNI vehicle arrived on the scene. Two non-uniformed men alighted from the vehicle, approached the PSNI personnel and, after a brief chat, themselves began to search the car, seemingly paying particular attention to what was, or was not, under the bonnet.

When the éirígí activist returned, he found the car had been ransacked. Neighbours told him how the car had been searched by people in and out of uniform, door panels had been removed and the engine area thoroughly examined/worked on. It was then that he noticed that his MOT certificate had been removed from the vehicle, rendering him unable to drive it, and a note had been left instructing him to contact a specified number at Woodbourne Road PSNI barracks.

Unwilling to contact the barracks on his own, as is advisable, he made contact with his legal advisor who contacted the number on his behalf. The solicitor was given no reasonable grounds as to why the car had been searched nor the certificate removed, other than being told that it was removed ‘to be checked’. They also refused to release the document to the solicitor, insisting they return it themselves.

In the days that followed, the PSNI attended the activist’s home, which he shares with his family. On being told that the named activist was not at home, the PSNI began to question and harass his relatives. The PSNI aggressively asked his family about his political activities and his role within éirígí, to which, to their credit, no answers were forthcoming. Upon handing the said document to his relatives, the PSNI menacingly told them to warn the activist that ‘he hadn’t been on their radar’ but that he ‘would be now’.

Criticising the harassment, éirígí’s Lower Falls representative John McCusker condemned the actions of the PSNI whilst commending the conduct of his fellow activist and his family.

McCusker said, “The activist in question is a long standing and well respected member of éirígí in Belfast. He has been to the fore in challenging the status quo politically, socially and economically in his local area and it is for this, and for nothing other than this, that he and his family have been subjected to menace from both the uniformed and the faceless agencies of the British state.

“Although those challenging the state, political elites and/or big business expect to be targeted by their watchdogs, in this case the PSNI, it doesn’t make it any less wrong nor worrying. As we speak, there are still no justifiable answers as to why the car was searched, why the document was removed nor as to who the two non-uniformed personnel were. Indeed, the PSNI has denied that any non-uniformed people attended the scene whatsoever, despite being made aware that a number of witnesses had come forward to confirm that they had.”

Commending the actions of the activist in question, McCusker said that, "It is a credit to my comrade and his family as to how they reacted to what is a stressful situation. Anyone forced into contact with the PSNI should never do so alone, they should always bring someone with them and where possible engage a credible legal professional to act on their behalf. Where someone has been approached, stopped, searched or questioned on their own, they should immediately make a note of all relevant details and record them with their solicitor and the Committee on the Administration of Justice.

“It is only through shining a light on those in the shadows that we can collectively combat their sinister agendas.”

 

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