A series of arrests and raids in Belfast and Lurgan have been slammed by republican dissidents as “a blatant attempt not only to undermine the upcoming Easter Commemoration in Derry but also to undercut the growing signs of Republican discontent”.
“Easter is a hugely important time for Republicans across Ireland, when we commemorate those patriots who lost their lives to advance a Socialist Republic, as proclaimed in 1916,” said Mairtin Og Meehan of the Republican Neetwork for Unity.
“For the past few months, the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) and Derry Independent Republican Graves Association have been jointly organising a fitting tribute to fallen Volunteers.
“Unsurprisingly, the RUC/PSNI has attempted to disrupt this by today’s arrest of RNU Ard Comhairle member, Tony Catney, who has been instrumental in the planning of the above commemoration.
Also detained was former political prisoner, Paul Duffy who is intended to be a guest-speaker on Easter Sunday. Alongside Tony and Paul, another two respected Republicans were also taken to Antrim Interrogation Centre.
“During the remainder of the day the homes of the four men were destructively raided by the political police, while their families, including children were placed under house arrest!
“Last year’s commemoration in Derry attracted a large crowd which was seen as a sign of growing opposition to British rule and housetrained Republicanism. The crown is reacting to growing Republican disquiet by targeting prominent Republicans who are seen to be organising that opposition.”
Republican Sinn Fein also criticised raids in Armagh City and Keady areas last week. Five members of the party were interrogation in Antrim PSNI Barracks.
A spokesperson said that it was clear that this was an attempt to disrupt the activities of Republican Sinn Fein in the period leading up to Easter.
“Republican Sinn Fein condemns the RUC and will continue to promote the ideals of true Republicanism,” the party said.
Nine bomb alerts took place across West Belfast on Thursday but were all declared hoaxes, by the PSNI.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams condemned the incidents as “reckless and irresponsible”.
“There can be no justification by anyone for this type of action.
“The Upper Springfield community, which has suffered much over the years, has been thrown into chaos by the actions of a small number of unrepresentative people masquerading as republicans,” he said.
“This activity in the heart of a republican community, as republicans face into Easter - a time when we remember our patriot dead - is especially offensive,” he added.
Meanwhile, eirigi in Donegal criticised Fianna Fail Senator Cecilia Keaveney in which she suggested that consideration should be given to allowing British Army bomb disposal units operate in the 26 counties.
Local spokesman Micheal Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said: “The comments from Senator Keaveney are truly amazing. Next week, Republicans the length and breadth of this island will commemorate the sacrifice of the women and men of Easter Week who, along with many more before and after the rising, sacrificed their liberty and lives in order to secure the removal of British troops from our shores.”
He added: “While it is bad enough that the occupation of the Six Counties continues, it is outrageous and indefensible that Keaveney would suggest to invite to British troops to operate here in Donegal or elsewhere thoughout this state. It is an insult to all those who fought and died for Irish freedom and an insult to those northern nationalists who continue to live under the British occupation.
Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig said such comments served only to “give the green light to the British occupation forces to continue with their incursions into this state”.
He pointed to rhe latest incident last week in which armed PSNI officers set up a checkpoint and stopped traffic in County Donegal just outside Belleek.
“Yet absolutely no action has been taken by this administration which is led by Senator Keaveney’s party Fianna Fail, the self styled ‘republican party’.”