Irish Republican News · December 7, 2012
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Politics behind decision to charge éirígí activist

The PSNI has been accused of “a crude attempt at political censorship” after Newry-based éirígí representative Stephen Murney was remanded without bail on charges that he had information “likely to be of use to terrorists”.

The charges against Mr Murney were spurious, said eirigi general secretary Breandan Mac Cionnaith.

During Saturday’s hearing a PSNI detective told the court the 29-year-old’s Facebook page contained images in which the faces of PSNI members were visible. Similar images were recovered from personal computer following a raid on his home last month.

Mr MacCionnaith, who was in court on Saturday, said Mr Murney has a high profile in the Newry area, and had been a target of political supression.

“These spurious charges that have been laid against Stephen Murney are charges which could be pressed against any political activist, any human rights activist, or any photojournalist in the six counties,” he said.

“These charges are a blatant but crude attempt at political censorship and the open suppression of legitimately held political opinions.

“We believe that the PSNI have chosen to bring these charges against Stephen as a test case, which if successful, will open the floodgates for similar charges to be pressed against hundreds of people right across the six counties.

“The wider implications of these charges are immense.”

Mr Mac Cionnaith, said that as a member of éirígí, Mr Murney had documented and recorded numerous instances of stop and searches, house raids, along with many other examples of heavy-handed operations conducted by the PSNI in the Newry.

“As the local spokesperson for the party in the Newry area, Stephen has regularly highlighted these issues through statements carried in local newspapers, articles to the party website and via social media outlets.”

Among the items which the PSNI claimed may be “likely to be of use to terrorists” were political posters, leaflets and literature, also found in the raid on his home. Other items which the PSNI cited in court were uniforms belonging to a band of which Mr Murney was formerly a member, and a BB toy gun belonging to his son.

Mr Mac Cionnaith said the charges were akin to those brought by the former RUC police against political activists and others under the old Special Powers Act between 1922 and 1972.

“It is a fact that the PSNI have subjected Stephen to intense harassment as a result of his exposés of their activities along with those of the secretive MI5 in Newry. One well-known human rights organisation has previously documented this PSNI campaign against Stephen.

“We believe that the PSNI have chosen to bring these charges against Stephen as a test-case, which if successful, will open the flood-gates for similar charges to be pressed against hundreds of people right across the Six Counties. The wider implications of these charges are immense.

“Stephen has stated that he will strenuously oppose these charges. His legal representatives are ready to vigorously challenge these charges, even should that mean taking this case to Europe, if necessary, as the charges are clearly premised on breaching the European Convention on Human Rights.

“As a party, we will take every step we can to assist Stephen, including raising his case with trade unions, human rights and civil liberties organisations, political parties both in Ireland and internationally.”

Mr Mac Cionnaith was defiant that the small socialist republican party would not be deflected by the recent attempts to suppress and smear the party.

“The PSNI, supported by the British government and the puppet administration at Stormont, may think that they have cleverly chosen the battle-ground.

“I can assure them that it is one from which this party and our members will not cede one inch of ground.

“We refuse to intimidated; we refuse to be criminalised; we refuse to be censored and we refuse to be silenced.”

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© 2012 Irish Republican News