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PSNI Harassment of éirígí Activists in Newry

26/03/10

éirígí members and supporters were stopped and harassed by the PSNI in the High Street area of Newry last night [Thursday].

The activists had been leafleting homes in the High Street area of the city when several PSNI vehicles drew up alongside them. Heavily armed PSNI personnel attempted to quiz the éirígí activists but, when challenged to explain under what legislation the harassment was taking place, the officers were unable to respond.

High Street, Newry

The activists subsequently refused to answer any questions put to them and insisted upon their right to continue distributing leaflets door-to-door as local people watched the stand-off develop. The PSNI then followed the éirígí activists for well over an hour as they went about distributing the leaflets.

éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Our members and supporters in Newry were engaged in quite legitimate political activity last night – the same type of political activity that is supposed to be widely acceptable in a democracy. However, it seems that engaging in political activity which is deemed acceptable elsewhere in Europe is classed as subversive by the PSNI, who are intent upon suppressing any form of political activity that is not supportive of the status quo within the Six Counties.

“There is a recurring pattern of PSNI harassment being waged against our members who are engaging in similar activity throughout the Six Counties. Almost without exception, that harassment is being conducted under politically motivated legislation, such as Section 44 of the British Terrorism Act, which the European Court of Human Rights judged to be unlawful in January of this year.

Mac Cionnaith continued: “Despite the ECHR ruling, the PSNI is continuing to use, on a daily basis, legislation which the court has declared to be “coercive”, “arbitrary” and “not in accordance with the law”. Indeed, during the whole of last year, stop and search legislation was used on almost 30,000 occasions.”

“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 policing tactics on the ground belies the harsh truth that little has changed and people in working-class communities across the North are only too aware of that fact.”

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