Irish Republican News · August 24, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Warning over media threat as PSNI raids go on
Warning over media threat as PSNI raids go on
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Concern is growing at the level of harassment by the PSNI police and their increasing use of the pro-unionist media to set up members of the nationalist community for attack.

Hundreds of armed PSNI members have been involved in raids recently, sometimes in the company of crews from British-owned media outlets.

Dungannon Councillor Barry Monteith criticised what he called the “unacceptable harassment of Republicans” by the PSNI in Counties Tyrone and Derry in recent weeks.

He said the raids were not the result of misinformation or lapses in judgement.

“They took place in the context of British policing policy to intimidate, criminalise and marginalise Republicans,” he said.

“Unfortunately sections of Irish society aid and endorse this felon-setting of republicans. Other republicans have been similarly targeted in recent times, yet those who talk of heavy handedness now were strangely silent then.”

Councillor Monteith warned that some of those whose homes were raided are now facing the possibility of loyalist attack after they were identified by the media.

“These raids follow a pattern”, he said.

“They take place in blaze of publicity. The media are undoubtedly tipped off by the Crown Forces. Indeed on one occasion in East Tyrone the Media arrived at the house to be raided before the PSNI.

He questioned the relationship between the media and the “Are there similar underhand exchanges of information like those recently uncovered in London between police and media?”

He warned of sinister attempts to set republicans up for possible loyalist attack.

“A number of republicans targeted in the East Tyrone area by these propaganda raids have subsequently received loyalist death threats.”

In the latest raids, a prominent member of the Republican Network for Unity group and his elderly parents were arrested and interrogated by the PSNI. The arrests on Monday were described by the group as a clear case of political harassment.

Ciaran Cunningham, a former political prisoner, was arrested at his west Belfast home, ostensibly in connection with a robbery, while his 64-year-old mother and 63-year-old stepfather were also arrested in Newry and taken in for questioning. All three were later released.

Earlier this month, he was dragged from the offices of Six-County Minister for Justice, David Ford, following a peaceful sit-down protest by the RNU.

Republican Network for Unity said it was “no shock” that the PSNI (formerly the RUC) were targeting Mr Cunninghan and said it showed their “hatred” for republicans activists.

“Ciaran wasn’t at home at the time and the RUC forced entry to his family home. His sister-in-law arrived and asked the RUC what was happening? She was told to get the occupants and they would explain it to them, not her.

“Ciaran arrived home to find eight landrovers, two 4X4 jeeps, two unmarked cars and a van outside his home. He was met at the door by RUC members in white forensic suits and was told he was under arrest. His wife who was kept outside her own home wasn’t answered as she asked the escorting officer why he was arresting her husband in front of her kids.

“The RUC then began door to door enquiries of Ciaran’s neighbours asking did they ever see anything suspicious at his home?

“Sadly Ciaran’s elderly mother got similar treatment as did his step-dad at the same time and both have been arrested and all three have been taken to ASCS [Antrim interrogation centre].

The RNU said the police were fully aware that there was no basis for the arrests.

“This is about the RUC still being at war against this community and targeting republicans and their families in the process.”

CRIME SCENES

Councillor Monteith also criticised the procedures being used by the police in these operations.

“During the raids, people’s homes are declared a ‘Scene of Crime’ in order to prevent access by family and friends who want help those in distress.

“As part of the raid it is now standard procedure to remove all clothing from the house and all mobile phones and computers from the house. This includes phones and computers belonging to any children in the house.

“Despite the fact these computers hold important school work they are not returned for months, even years.”

Mr Monteith said he knew of some people who had not had their property returned after several years having gone by and no charges brought.

“These raids combined with the continued stop and search harassment and MI5 harassment by the Crown Forces are all part of the British policing strategy in Ireland.

“This harassment is totally unacceptable, yet it is unfortunately not surprising. The legacy of British Policing in Ireland is one of repression, discrimination, abuse and victimisation against the Irish people.

“Someone claimed these raids are like a return to the bad old days as if they were a bolt from the blue, when in reality they are a continuation of British policing policy in Ireland.

“For grassroots Republicans the bad old days never went away.”

© 2011 Irish Republican News