The PSNI’s apparently increasing reliance on the tactics of repression was highlighted on Sunday a massive operation was deployed to deal with a sponsored walk on Belfast’s Black Mountain.
The walk was organised by republican activists to raise funds for the eirigi group and included a short demonstration and speech at a British military communications post on the mountain, which is on the outskirts of west Belfast.
However, as the 30 or so eirigi members and supporters were finishing their hike they were met by no less than seven armoured PSNI jeeps, two helicopters, 30 PSNI riot personnel and a number of unmarked cars.
The PSNI proceeded to search, question and film those who were on the walk, as well as many bystanders who were out enjoying the winter sunshine on what is public land.
Along with the adults searched at the scene, the PSNI also felt the need to search a child’s pram. At no stage did those involved explain what exactly it was they were looking for.
The scale of the operation caused a stir at a near-by Gaelic pitch, where spectators had gathered to watch a football game, and resulted in many residents phoning a local newsroom to report the PSNI activity.
When contacted by journalists, the PSNI denied they had stopped or searched anyone on the Black Mountain.
The PSNI’s over-kill came only days after it was revealed that there were more than 12,000 stop-and-search incidents in the Six Counties under the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’ and ‘Justice & Security Act’ between July and September this year.
eirigi general secretary Breandan Mac Cionnaith said: “The most recent figures on PSNI stop-and-search operations reveal a dramatic rise. This will be very worrying for the nationalist communities who have traditionally borne the brunt of British state repression.
“The figures on stop-and-search between July and September are three times the number for the previous quarter - this works out at an average of 110 stop-and-search operations every day.
“This is the reality of policing in the Six Counties. It is one that is far removed from what was promised by the nationalist parties who took the decision to endorse the PSNI.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “These figures clearly show that the PSNI is not a civic police service - it is a politically-motivated paramilitary force, funded and armed by the British government for the purpose of protecting the occupation of the Six Counties.
“When it comes to policing nationalist communities, the PSNI’s idea of what is acceptable constitutes harassment on a massive scale, the firing of plastic bullets, raids and the use of CS gas and Tasers.
“However, it will soon become obvious to them that any amount of harassment will not deter eirigi activists from opposing the British occupation.”