PSNI attack mourners, make arrests
PSNI attack mourners, make arrests

Riot police used CS gas to attack dissident republicans following the funeral of veteran IRA man and former H-Block escaper Peter ‘Skeet’ Hamilton.

Among those arrested were prominent dissidents. It is understood that several of them have sought legal advice following the PSNI assault.

It marks the latest incident in a strategy by the PSNI to undermine dissident groups through a combination of large-scale arrest operations followed by coercive recruitment attempts.

Earlier in the day hundreds of republicans from all over Ireland had attended the Ardoyne funeral of 57-year-old Mr Hamilton who died following a short battle with cancer.

‘Skeet’ joined the IRA in the aftermath of the the unionist and RUC pogrom of August, 1969.

An influential figure in the conflict in north Belfast, he was arrested and jailed in 1975. One of 38 IRA men who escaped from the H-Blocks prison in 1983, he had been living in Dundalk since 1994 where he worked for an ex-prisoners project.

On Wednesday his coffin was flanked by a republican guard of honour as it crossed the border on the way to his sister’s home in north Belfast in preparation for his funeral.

A volley of shots marked the arrival of the late IRA man’s body.

Around 1,000 people had gathered in Ardoyne to pay their respects. His passing brought together mainstream and dissident republicans.

Within hours of his funeral however, a PSNI riot squad arrested four senior dissidents in the Brompton Park area.

The four men were taken to Lisburn Barracks and held overnight before being charged with assaulting the riot squad.

PSNI claims that a street fight had erupted between rival factions of republicans were dismissed by Martin Og Meehan, a spokesman for the Republican Network for Unity, who observed the arrest operation.

He said “stormtroopers” were waiting outside the wake house where they “verbally abused” a number of republicans before “brutally attacking” and arresting them as they attempted to make their way home.

“The Republican Network for Unity refute the RUC/PSNI version of events as the beatings and arrests are an integral part of Britain’s continued role in policing in the occupied Six Counties,” he said.

“RNU utterly condemn the tactics deployed by the RUC/PSNI by deviously waiting for people who are mourning the loss of a comrade.

“People should be allowed to say goodbye to a comrade without political policing. Their skulking presence at Skeet’s wake yet again shows that even in death, the RUC/PSNI will interfere.”

“Despite bully-boy tactics, RNU will continue to expose the true nature of political policing which is designed to intimidate, silence and criminalise Republican activists and communities”.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News