Irish Republican News · April 16, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Political policing of individuals and communities
Political policing of individuals and communities

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A PSNI campaign of harassment in the Newry and Mourne area has been exposed after it was revealed that almost 4,000 stop and searches have been carried out by the force across the area since 2009.

The figures were obtained by the Eirigi party through the Freedom of Information Act. They reveal that between January 1, 2009 and January 31, 2015, a total of 3,957 people were stopped and searched under the ‘Terrorism Act’ and ‘Justice and Security Act’ in the Newry and Mourne Policing Area.

Between the same dates 221 premises were searched during police raids.

Concerns have been raised in the past about levels of stop and search operations in nationalist areas, including Ardoyne in north Belfast and parts of north Antrim.

Stephen Murney, an Eirigi representative in Newry, said the figures demonstrate that the PSNI is guilty of political policing.

“The fact that almost 4,000 stop and searches took place, along with over 220 raids on family homes and other premises, in the Newry area would suggest that the PSNI are still treating the people of Newry as a ‘suspect community’.

“This should make uncomfortable reading for those nationalists who act as PSNI cheerleaders in order to portray that force as some sort of benign and apolitical institution. It is nothing of the sort.”

Mr Murney continued, “Let’s not forget either that the PSNI is also continuing to hamper the efforts of many families across the Six Counties who are trying to find out the truth about the murders of their relatives by British sponsored unionist death squads.

“When one looks at this force’s record, the reality is that the PSNI have in, many respects, simply picked up where the RUC left off. It’s time constitutional nationalists conceded that they got it wrong.”

“I would urge local communities to reject these forces and not be fooled by the spin and the various ‘sheep in wolves clothing’ initiatives peddled by those who are attempting to legitimise the British state forces.”

KELLY ARRESTED AGAIN

Separately, a prominent North Belfast republican has also accused the PSNI of political policing in the wake of his recent arrest.

Sean Kelly (pictured) was held over the death of a convicted drug dealer in north Belfast. The Ardoyne man, who was imprisoned for his role in the controversial Shankill Road bomb attack of 1993 and released under the Good Friday Agreement, believes his arrest is connected to attempts to have his release licence revoked.

“They are trying to create a pattern, create a hype around it, that if they do go for it in their view they have justification,” he said.

In 2005 Kelly previously had his early release licence revoked and was returned to prison after claims he was involved in rioting. He has also been arrested several times in recent years. On each occasion he was released without charge.

Once again, no evidence was produced during his most recent questioning. The republican believes he is being deliberately singled out and claimed “there is a clear anti-peace process element operating within the PSNI”.

“This is also being used by elements within the PSNI in order to create a crisis in the peace process and tensions in the local community,” he said. “Questions remain, who really is pulling the strings?

“As recently experienced not a shred of evidence was produced during questioning.”

He said his treatment raises questions.

“It’s political policing at its worst and there are more questions than answers,” he said.

“This is a complete and utter onslaught on me personally and the process. It’s bigger than me, I am just a pawn in this and that’s my full view on it.”

Although often depicted as a potential hardliner, the north Belfast man said he remains a strong supporter of the peace process.

“I have been a defender of the peace process since I was released from jail and this is well known in republican communities and everybody knows my position.”

“My position on the peace process has seen me rearrested and returned to jail in 2005. That was also used as a tool and mechanism against the republican movement.”

Mr Kelly said he will continue to work for republican ex-prisoners and said he remains “very strong and will not be deterred” by recent events.

© 2016 Irish Republican News