Political Policing in Newry


It could have been a scene from the 1970s or ’80s when, in the early hours of last Wednesday morning [June 16], a large convoy of armoured PSNI landrovers descended on the nationalist Derrybeg estate in Newry.

Dozens of riot clad members of the political police decamped from their vehicles and conducted a politically-motivated operation during which they raided the home of a republican activist. A search operation was also carried out in the surrounding area which lasted for most of the day.

Throughout the day, heavily armed PSNI personnel stopped vehicles entering and leaving Derrybeg, which caused widespread disruption for residents in the area, including parents collecting their children from the nearby school.

Several other homes across the city were also targeted in Wednesday’s raids.

éirígí’s rúnaí ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith condemned the raids: “At a time when the great and the good are proclaiming a new beginning for policing in the Six Counties, the PSNI is proving, by its own actions, that it is business as usual as far as its treatment of nationalist communities is concerned.

“Is this the new beginning to policing we were promised? This is not normal policing, this is not civic policing. This is the same repressive policing that we have been subjected to for decades. Nothing has changed with this paramilitary force except their name and badge.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “Despite the change of name, the primary aim of the PSNI is exactly the same as the primary aim of the RUC – to protect the British occupation of the Six Counties. Ironically, the actions of the PSNI last week proved that point. The type of political policing is exactly the type of thing the RUC were infamous for.”

The Derrybeg estate has a proud history of opposing the British occupation, whether it comes in the form of the British army or British policing. No doubt, republican activists from the area will continue their work despite this upsurge in Crown Forces harassment.

Serious concern has also been expressed by éirígí as newly published figures show that politically-motivated stop and search legislation has been used on almost 35,000 occasions in the Six Counties within a 12 month period.

Amongst those being harassed with this legislation are éirígí activists engaged in peaceful protests and other political activity.

Mac Cionnaith concluded: “While constitutional nationalist politicians might try to claim that there has been a sea-change in policing in the Six Counties, the reality of ongoing repressive tactics on the ground belies the harsh truth that little has changed. People in working-class communities across the North are only too aware of that fact.”


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