PSNI target Sinn Fein’s policing trailblazer

The former head of Sinn Fein on Belfast city council has criticised the PSNI police who confiscated his taxi, falsely claiming it had been used in relation to ‘dissident’ activity.

Michael Browne was a west Belfast Sinn Fein councillor for 14 years until he stood down last year having previously served as head of the party’s team in city hall.

Following the party’s endorsement of the PSNI in 2007, he was one of the first republicans to sit on the district policing partnership (DPP) boards, which work with the police on a local basis. He was later elected chair of the west Belfast branch of the DPP and considered a model of ‘good’ republicanism in the North of Ireland.

The father-of-six was working on Wednesday evening as normal when he was stopped by the PSNI. They told him his car fitted the description of a vehicle wanted in connection with an incident earlier that evening and so they were seizing it.

The former senior Sinn Fein member said despite asking police to check the taxi depot’s log book to confirm he had been working all night, he was told by a PSNI member they were “just following orders”.

“I’m disappointed but not surprised by the actions of the police,” Mr Browne said.

“Despite explaining I had been working all night, hadn’t left my car and was nowhere near the area at the time the incident they were investigating took place, they insisted on taking my taxi, which is of course my livelihood.

“They made no effort to check what Iw as telling them, all very easily cleared up in minutes with the depot.

“As far as I’m aware, they still haven’t checked the log book.

“I told them I was in my car all night so if they genuinely believed it was used in a criminal act it stood to reason they would have to arrest me as well but they told me I was free to go.

“I’m disappointed that so many years after people were asked to put their faith in a new police service this type of behaviour is still taking place.

“I will be contacting the ombudsman to make a complaint about the actions of police and will also be considering several other avenues of recourse.”


Also this week, an early morning house raid in the Parkhead area of Newry was condemned by local republicans.

eirigi’s Stephen Murney attended the scene in the company of independent republican councillor Davy Hyland.

“We went not only to show solidarity and support to the victims of this raid but to also actively confront the PSNI gunmen who were responsible for traumatising this family including young children,” Mr Murney said.

“When we arrived the PSNI had just left and we spoke to the mother of the kids. She explained to us that the PSNI placed them all under house arrest including her two daughters aged 10 and 12.”

As a result, the children were unable to go to school. The PSNI also refused to allow the children to be cared for by a concerned neighbour.

The family were “held in the living room at gunpoint,” said Mr Murney.

“In recent times we have seen numerous quarters commenting on the PSNI coming into schools to talk to the pupils about various topics.

“Yet on the other hand this force is terrifying school children by kicking their doors in and preventing them from going to school at gunpoint, and in this case forcing a young girl to miss her exam.”

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2011 Irish Republican News