Republicans harassed in Scotland
BY JIM SLAVEN
The past month has seen an increase in attempts by the Scottish Special Branch to force people into working for them. Several people have been approached throughout Scotland in a co-ordinated attempt to intimidate and harass republican activists. As well as targetting republicans, the police have been using threats against members of the wider Irish community in an attempt to alienate republicans.
Within the last week, a 37-year-old from Livingston, West Lothian, was visited at his girlfriend's house early in the morning by two males who identified themselves as Special Branch officers. The man was questioned about visits to the James Connolly Bookshop in Edinburgh. He was then asked if he could get information on republican activities in east-central Scotland. When he replied he could not and would not help them, they told him ``there was plenty of money if he would help them''. When he again refused they insisted on leaving their names and phone numbers and threateningly tolm him he lived in an area with plenty of loyalists who might think he was fund-raising for the IRA.
The next day a younger man was visited at his home in Edinburgh by a male and female who at first identified themselves as Drugs Squad and only once they were in his house did they say they were in fact Special Branch and ``wanted to discuss his (republican) Tattoo''. He was also offered ``plenty of money'' in return for information about ``what republicans are thinking''. When he also refused to help them they also left their names and phone numbers and reminded him of a court case he has coming up.
These incidents are only the latest in a series of attempts to recruit people to spy on republicans. Recently in Glasgow, a Black Taxi driver was arrested as he ended his shift at 4am by plain clothed and uniformed police. When the man reached Aitkenhead Road police station, the plain clothed officers identified themselves as Special Brnach and proceeded to show him wedding pictures showing him in the company of local republicans. They also played him tape recordings of republicans. He was asked to pass information about several named republicans and was then shown a bag of money which they said was ``£25,000, enough to buy your own taxi''.
That figure was doubled when a former member of a republican flute band found himself in a court cell awaiting a hearing on an assault charge. He was told he had two visitors. He was asked by the branch to drink in the same pubs as certain named republicans. When people travelled from Ireland for Celtic matches he was to befriend them. If he agreed to help them he would receive £50,000. Like the other examples given he refused and approached local republicans to tell them what had happened.
Harassment of republicans at the ports, particularly Troon, has also increased. Solicitors are currently investigating the practice of refusing known republicans the right to take hand luggage on board the Seacat. Only last week a group of 12 adults and a child were all forced to hand over their small bags. The bags where then put to the side, clearly apart from the others. These are just examples of a systematic campaign against republicans in Scotland who are working to support Sinn Féin and the Good Friday Agreement. Ironically, all those approached are asked their views on the peace process when it is republicans who are working to promote the peace process and securicrats who are undermining it. People are being urged to come forward if approached no matter when or under what circumstances.