Police statelet

The PSNI has ramped up a campaign of political arrests with the detention of Marian Price, the National Secretary of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.

The arrest of Ms Price on Tuesday morning brings to 14 the number of people to date interrogated in relation to a drive-by gun attack on Massereene army base in Antrim in March.

A 39-year-old man was arrested in Coalisland, County Tyrone, at around the same time, also in connection with the shootings.

Marian Price was jailed along with 11 others, including her sister Dolours and Sinn Fein junior minister Gerry Kelly, in 1973 for an IRA campaign in London. She was released early from prison in 1980 on health grounds.

She came to political prominence again in 1998 when she attended several events which were organised in opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.

She is also spokesperson for the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA).

“The recently staged political arrest of 32 County Sovereignty Movement National Secretary Marian Price underscores the fact that policing in the Six Counties will always be political,” the organisation said in a statement. “We have long stated that where sovereignty is disputed policing will always take a side in that dispute.”

It said “the myth that policing in the Six Counties could be detached from the constitutional question” had been “shattered yet again”.

“The British government has repeatedly used policing to curry favour with whichever political mood prevails... Now that we have unionists grappling with the issue of devolving minimalist Policing and Justice ‘powers’ to Stormont we witness the targeting of high profile republican activists for arrest by the RUC/PSNI. Coupled with this is the appearance before Crown Courts of Irish Republicans on the most spurious of grounds.

“All of this points to where the British Government desires that political policing should lead. We urge all republicans to be vigilant in the times ahead as British efforts to secure its illegal sovereign claim over part of Ireland intensify.”

The arrest of Price followed the detention of Tony Catney, one of the leaders of the Republican Network for Unity.

Danny McBrearty of the RNU blasted the “tactical arrests of respected leaders of republican groups”.

He said this was “part of an obvious British strategy of repression and intimidation of those Republicans who oppose British rule and recognize that Stormont is a trap designed to copper-fasten that rule.

“These arrests prove the point more eloquently than anything that could be said.

“Marian Price recently concluded a highly successful general meeting of the Sovereignty Movement in Derry. Tony Catney was seized at Belfast Airport following successful RNU meetings in Glasgow. Both of these groups are open, political groups lawful even under repressive British law.”

“The crown is reacting to growing Republican disquiet by targeting prominent Republicans who are seen to be organizing that opposition.

“British repression has never silenced or defeated Republicans; it has only provoked political resistance.”

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