Irish Republican News · December 14, 2012
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Nationalists arrested amid loyalist disorder


A PSNI operation against the nationalist residents of Ardoyne has heightened tension at a time when the Six-County police have openly facilitated loyalist roadblocks and disturbances.

A member of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) was arrested and sent to Maghaberry prison this in connection this week with an unpaid fine relating to a sit-down protest by nationalist residents two years ago.

Rab Jackson, the national vice-chairperson of the socialist republican party eirigi, was also arrested and taken to Maghaberry.

The PSNI formally “cautioned” other residents for taking part in recent protests against sectarian marches.

Dee Fennell, a father-of-four and a leading figure in GARC, was among 29 people who took part in a brief sit-down protest in July 2010 against a controversial Orange Order march past the Ardoyne interface.

Spokesman for the GARC residents group Aidan Ferguson said the arrests, coming at a time when parts of Belfast were being brought to a standstill by loyalists, had created a lot of anger in the Ardoyne area.

It showed “if proof were needed” that the two-tier sectarian society in the North of Ireland has not changed, he said.

“The arrest of Dee Fennell, taken from his family in the mouth of Christmas, for peacefully protesting shows equality, fairness and PSNI impartiality is a myth.”

Both he and eirigi’s Rab Jackson are expected to serve around five days in Maghaberry for refusing to pay their fines.

eirigi’s Padraic Mac Coitir said nationalists had been arrested for a peaceful protest in which traffic had not even been blocked.

“The residents’ protest in question was a totally peaceful one which was confined to the footpaths and did not in any way impede traffic. Nevertheless, the PSNI are now cautioning residents with a view to charging them,” he said.

“During the past week, senior PSNI officers have repeatedly said in broadcast interview and media statements, made in relation to loyalist protests in Belfast and elsewhere, that they would facilitate peaceful protests.

“Those statements were made as unionists blocked roads and traffic, organised illegal marches, engaged in widespread violence and attacked people and property in an orchestrated series of Drumcree-style actions.

“Unionist paramilitary leaders also made veiled threats against nationalists living in interface areas.

“Time and time again, the PSNI has shown that it uses one set of laws for unionists and another set of laws for nationalists.

“The PSNI actions against residents in Ardoyne contrast strongly with their inactions when dealing with unionists.”

eirigi general secretary Breandan Mac Cionnaith said the arrest of Rab Jackson formed part of a pattern of deliberate harassment against his party.

“It is very obvious that police forces in both partition states have been given some sort of political direction to initiate a co-ordinated campaign of harassment against party members and supporters,” he said.

“It could well be their assessment that the various campaigns and the extensive local activism which our members are involved in are having an impact.

“However, this campaign of harassment and arrests will not deter our party members and our supporters from continuing with their activism, nor will it disrupt the party in any way.

“In fact, it will have the reverse effect - it will encourage our members to continue and increase the levels of political work that they are engaged in on a daily basis.”

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© 2012 Irish Republican News