Irish Republican News · January 13, 2012
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘No public interest’ to PSNI’s use of rally footage

The PSNI police have failed in a legal bid to force the handover of unseen TV news footage from a rally by the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

PSNI lawyers went to court seeking an order for the BBC to provide unbroadcast footage from the organisations’ annual parade and gathering at Derry’s City Cemetery last April. During the event, a masked man claiming to be from the ‘Real IRA’ appeared from the crowd and read out a speech. However, the PSNI appeared to want to identify all those who attended the event, and particularly sought the identities of those who had formed a uniformed republican colour party.

A spokeswoman for the 32 County Sovereignty Committe, Marian Price, was later charged and later interned without trial by the PSNI, partly on the basis that at the rally, she held a piece of paper for the gloved man as he read out a ‘Real IRA’ statement.

A PSNI helicopter did obtain some footage but had mainly directed its cameras to a group of youths who appeared to be armed with petrol bombs after the speech concluded.

Although the PSNI had access to the BBC’s broadcast material they wanted to be given all and any unseen footage from the rally. Lawyers for the PSNI claimed it would be of maximum benefit to experts carrying out facial mapping, voice recognition and gait analysis in an attempt to identify those who attended.

The judge rejected arguments that the BBC was being used as an investigative tool by the PSNI, but said the PSNI had failed to show reasonable grounds for believing believing production of the footage was in the public interest.

His decision runs contrary to other recent judgments in similar cases. It also comes on the heels of the PSNI’s success in securing access to an extensive archive of interviews given by prominent republicans, under condition of lifetime confidentiality, to journalists working with Boston College.


Separately, the trial of 37 people for participation in a nationalist anti-internment march in Lurgan in January of last year has been taking place in Craigavon Courthouse this week.

AMong those on trial are the President and Vice-President of Republican Sinn Fein.

In a statement, the group described the prosecutions as an attack on the right to publicly express a political opinion.

“In the Middle East people are being applauded for coming out on to the streets to demand political change but in the Occupied Six Counties Irish people are being prosecuted by the British state for doing the same thing,” the statement read.

“The prosecution of people for participating in a protest march held on January 23 last to call for the release of veteran Lurgan Republican Martin Corey who has been held without trial in Maghaberry prison since April 2010 is clearly an attempt to force Irish Republicans off the streets and to silence anyone who refuses to accept British occupation.

“Not for the first time Irish Republicans find themselves before a British Court for upholding the principle of ‘the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland’ and in defiance of laws designed to silence the voice of protest. This political trial puts the political reality of the Six-County state under the spotlight and shows it to be still fundamentally undemocratic.”

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© 2012 Irish Republican News