PSNI clash with eirigi over Newry alert
PSNI clash with eirigi over Newry alert

The PSNI were accused of using of repressive legislation to harass a nationalist community on Tuesday as the force launched a major “security operation” on the outskirts of the Derrybeg estate in Newry.

Allegedly responding to a bomb alert, dozens of heavily armed PSNI officers in riot gear descended on the Camlough Road area in armoured landrovers. They were soon backed up by a helicopter, which hovered extremely low over the estate for several hours.

The PSNI were observed goading and provoking local nationalist youths who responded by throwing stones and fireworks.

Concerned at the aggressive attitude of the PSNI, a number of Derrybeg residents contacted eirigi activists, who made their way to scene, accompanied by the concerned residents.

Almost immediately, several riot clad PSNI members, heavily armed with machine guns, surrounded them. The PSNI directed their attention towards one eirigi activist in particular and proceeded to question him under Section 43 of the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’, which gives the PSNI the power to “stop and search persons for items which may constitute evidence that person is a terrorist”. They also accused the activist of gathering information “likely to be of use to terrorists”.

Several hours later, after finding what they described as a “hoax device”, the PSNI withdrew from the area.

Runai ginearalta eirigi Breandan Mac Cionnaith said: “Today, once again, we have witnessed the British police force in Ireland engaging in repression and, once again, it is used against a nationalist community in Newry.

“Several months ago, it was announced that the use of Section 44 would be suspended; at the time, eirigi expressed concerns that it would simply be replaced with other repressive legislation, in this instance Section 43 has been employed instead.

“eirigi is urging domestic and international human rights organisations to closely examine the use and validity of this legislation with a view to initiating test cases challenging the compatibility of these powers with established EU human rights case-law.

“eirigi was one of the very few organisations prepared to consistently challenge the use of Section 44 powers in the Six Counties. We have also previously highlighted the draconian nature of the equally objectionable Justice and Security Act and, as a party, we will continue to mount strenuous opposition to its use, along with the various other draconian legislations which are in use in occupied Ireland.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “The Derrybeg estate and its residents are no strangers to Crown Force repression and have been to the fore in resisting this repression over the years. Today’s actions by the PSNI are only proving to people that they are an unchanged, unaccountable paramilitary force.

“Our activists in Newry have received a lot of unwanted attention in recent times from the political police. However, rather than intimidating them out of political activity, it will in fact strengthen their determination to continue to build the party in the Newry area and across Ireland - to complete the reconquest of this country by the working people of this country.”

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