An eírígí activist has said he was offered a cash inducement in return for information about the organisation’s future direction during a disturbing roadside encounter on the outskirts of Belfast.
Following a history of stops, searches and threats by uniformed members of the PSNI against eírígí, the latest incident saw the police operating side-by-side with plain clothed men with English accents.
The eírígí activist in question, a family man from west Belfast, was attending a meeting on the outskirts of the city organised through his place of employment, which offers advice and support to those in need. Having concluded the meeting, he immediately came upon a PSNI checkpoint. The only car stopped, he was asked for his driving license and ordered to pull over to the side of the road.
Once stopped, he was ordered out of his vehicle, which he believed was to facilitate a search. However, upon stepping out of his vehicle he was confronted by two plain clothed men, both of whom spoke with English accents. One of the men in question addressed the activist by his first name, said he had met him over a year ago at a business conference in England and asked if he remembered him.
The activist stated that he didn’t know the man, had never met him before and shouted over to the uniformed PSNI personnel that he wanted his license back or he was leaving. The ‘spooks’, realising that the eírígí activist was refusing to be intimidated, began to offer inducements. They said that they were interested in learning more about eírígí, its future direction and his role within it, for which, they were prepared to offer money. They repeatedly prodded the activist to go down a nearby lane with them, which was within sight, and where a car was waiting.
Again the activist refused their approaches, demanded his license back and stated that he would be reporting the approach and the accompanying harassment to his solicitor.
It was at this point that things became increasingly menacing, eírígí said. The ‘spooks’ told him that they were offering him the ‘easy way’ but that, if necessary, they were prepared to do it the ‘hard way’ and that he would be well advised to accept their offer.
The activist told them that he wasn’t interested in their offers nor cowed by their threats. He again demanded his license back, at which point the uniformed PSNI officer came over and menacingly asked if he had been drinking, which of course he hadn’t been. At this point the activist took his license back, got into his car and immediately contacted his employer and other members of eírígí.
Speaking after the approach eírígí’s Runai Ginearalta, Breandan Mac Cionnaith, condemned the ongoing harassment of eírígí activists and commended the response of the activist in question.
“Once again we bear witness to the nefarious agencies of the British state, those that work in the shadows, attempting to bribe, cajole and threaten those that work in the open. These forces have been central to the harassment, arrest, incarceration and murder of Irish republicans in Ireland for decades. In this instance, their sinister operation was directly facilitated by the PSNI, which seemingly remains as ‘ill-mannered’ as ever.
“The only person emerging from this incident with honour is the eírígí activist who not only refused the approaches of the MI5 operatives but had the courage to report them to his peers and comrades.
“We, in eírígí, would reiterate that people are not obliged to speak to, accompany nor work for these shadowy forces. They destroy the lives of their targets and informers, weaken communities and separate families. All approaches should be refused and immediately logged with appropriate legal professionals. There is no shame in being approached by these people; the only shame is in working for them.”