The content of the “PSNI Craigavon” Facebook page has caused quite a stir within Republican circles recently. Rather than portray themselves as some kind of “legitimate law enforcement agency” this page is being used as if it was a personal page with some highly questionable posts being published.
In what is a blatant attack on Saoradh, a legitimate political party, a post has been published attacking our statements. Do they normally publicly attack political parties or is this an exception? These forces not only attack us, but they also try to excuse the issue of Internment.
The post in question was in response to our condemnation of a serious Crown Force operation in Lurgan. This resulted in the heavy-handed arrest of two Saoradh activists, one of which has since been interned by remand.
In regards to the issue of Internment, this is something that has been in place for decades in various forms and guises. Since the 1980’s the practice of remand has been increasingly used to take political activists from the streets.
Internment today is not on the same level as mass internment in the early 1970’s. However, the end result is exactly the same. Republicans are being removed from their communities and are placed in a British prison.
These periods of Internment by remand can last for several years. In many cases, the charges are withdrawn before a ‘trial’ or the victim is acquitted. It gives the perception of “due process” but in reality, many people are being gaoled for their political beliefs.
Another example of Internment involves the revoking of licences. Veteran Republican Martin Corey from Lurgan spent a considerable period of time in Maghaberry when his licence was revoked. Neil Hegarty found himself back inside after completing a 5-year sentence. Neil was released merely a day before his licence was revoked. Tony Taylor has now been in prison for over 2 years after his licence was revoked.
None of these men were questioned about anything, nor did they face a trial. The revoking of licences is the most blatant example of the British State interning Republican activists today.
The Craigavon Two are both scapegoats held in Maghaberry for just over 9 years. This is one of the most unbelievable and flawed cases in history and is on par with the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, the corrupt Crown Forces in Craigavon Barracks know only too well the stitch-up they, MI5 and the British Army created to lock Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton up for almost a decade.
Even our most vocal opponents agree that all the above amounts to modern day Internment.
Saoradh is involved in many levels of activism and community politics. Homeless drives, drug awareness, suicide awareness and prevention, defending Ireland’s resources, protesting water charges, organising soup kitchens and campaigning for a British withdrawal are just some of the things we involve ourselves in.
We don’t have to hide behind initials, unlike the author of the “PSNI Craigavon” Facebook page. People within our communities and further afield know who we are. They see and speak to us every day. They contact our activists and they call into our offices. Our party representatives and spokespersons put their names to our statements. We have nothing to hide and we are not strangers and outsiders in the areas we live in.
It’s also interesting to note the comments under the post. Most notably from Evan Maxwell a British Crown Force cheerleader and product of Ogra Sinn Fein. Evan joins the RUC-PSNI in their tirade and clearly has an issue with the Republican language we use in our statements, ironically it’s the same language and phrases Ogra Sinn Fein once used.
More disturbingly Evan Maxwell has an obvious issue with Republicans videoing and photographing stop and searches. Amazingly he calls for the introduction of even more draconian legislation and accuses victims of harassment of “documenting material that would be of use to terrorists”. Evan even goes as far as directing the Crown Forces to the page of our national party Headquarters in Junior McDaid House to see this for themselves.
Did Evan progress from Ogra to New Sinn Fein? if so the party has questions to answer in regards to his felon setting. It’s a far cry from the days when Sinn Fein claimed they would be “putting manners” on these forces. Here we have one of their former youth leaders publicly calling for repressive legislation to be introduced by the British state to be used against Republicans. If this is the New Sinn Fein mindset in public, then what are they saying to these forces privately?
Ironically it was my own court case that won the right to be able to video and photograph these forces involved in the harassment of Republicans. Although It took being interned by remand from 2012-2014 to have this put in place. If the Crown Force action against me had of been successful then this would have had far-reaching implications for not only political activists but also journalists and press photographers.
R Vs Murney is now enshrined in case law to protect our human rights.
Up until 2014 Republicans generally did not record or video stop and searches. Anything sinister or untoward that happened during incidents of harassment would have been difficult to prove as it was simply our word against theirs. Now we are able to defend and protect our rights by documenting these incidents through the use of photographs and video. This is something that everyone should welcome rather than oppose, including Evan, considering he has marched around Brussels highlighting the human rights abuses inflicted in other countries.
The fact that our party statements warranted such a knee-jerk reaction makes one thing certain, we are creating reactions and we are doing the right thing.
Stephen Murney is a former Republican Prisoner and Saoradh Activist based in Newry