Three elected Leinster House TDs were video-recorded by specialist PSNI police as they attempted to speak to the family of a jailed republican activist, it has emerged.
Family and friends of eirigi member Stephen Murney had gathered at Newry courthouse last week for a hearing on ‘trumped up’ charges against the outspoken republican involving items of clothing and computer images of police.
The three TDs - Clare Daly, Maureen O’Sullivan and Mick Wallace - had attended the court to observe proceedings in the case.
One of the TDs directly challenged the PSNI as to the legality of recording what was essentially a confidential conversation between the three parliamentarians and Mr Murney’s partner and parents.
The PSNI also continuously monitored and video-recorded all those taking part in a protest against his internment outside the courthouse. Those present at the committal hearing only observed a further judicial delay as the hearing was postponed for a further two weeks.
It later emerged that the eirigi man was forcibly strip-searched twice in Maghaberry prison as he was taken to court and then again on his return from prison.
Speaking after the hearing, eirigi’s Breandan Mac Cionnaith said, “the PSNI, the prosecution and the court system in the Six Counties have successfully colluded with each other to ensure that Stephen has now been imprisoned for almost a year.
“Wednesday’s hearing again resulted in yet more unacceptable delays with the dual purpose of prolonging Stephen’s imprisonment and penalising his family.
“Despite all this, Stephen and his family remain in good spirits and remain confident that he will be completely vindicated of those charges laid against him.”
Meanwhile, a hearing for republican prisoner of conscience Martin Corey was due to be held this week but was also postponed by Parole Commissioners.
The 63-year-old republican has been interned by a British order since April 2010. He is facing no charges and authorities have refused to tell him or his legal team why he was detained.
Campaigners say the Lurgan man has the right to go before Parole Commissioners for a review every 12 months but that he hasn’t been given that opportunity in more than two years.
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie says she intends to “make representations” to British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers on the matter.
“It is a form of internment,” she said. “The bottom line is we need to get the Martin Corey case resolved for himself, his family and the sake of the wider community.”
A long-time friend of the Lurgan republican, Jim McIlmurray, said Mr Corey already served the equivalent of a seven-year prison sentence and spoke of his concerns about the state of his health.
“If Martin had committed a crime they would have charged him at this stage,” he said.
Mr Corey’s case was raised in the Dail this week by Independent TD Maureen Sullivan, while Clare Daly TD raised Mr Murney’s case.