Irish Republican News · September 19, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
PSNI harassment of ex-prisoner ends in tragedy


A former republican prisoner who was violently arrested while putting up a suicide awareness poster on a lamppost has taken his own life.

Henry MacErlean died at his home in Ardoyne in north Belfast on Sunday evening. At the time of his arrest, the PSNI police accused him of “interfering with a lamppost using tools and a ladder”.

The PSNI were accused of double standards at the time, with Sinn Fein Policing Board member Pat Sheehan saying it was “unacceptable” at a time when loyalists were erecting flags on lampposts with impunity as part of the Protestant marching season.

Mr McErlean was accused of disorderly behaviour, obstructing police and resisting arrest. He had been due to appear before Belfast Magistrates Court last Friday but was too ill to attend.

A committed member of Republican Network for Unity, spokesman Carl Reilly said he “felt very strongly” about raising awareness of mental health issues.

“His love for his community and working for the betterment of that community with ex-prisoners and other groups had gained Henry enormous respect,” he said.

“Henry was a life long Republican from a staunch Republican position, he spent his adult life confronting partition and British rule in Ireland and spent long years in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh as a captured Republican soldier.”

The breakaway IRA group known as Oglaigh na hEireann claimed Mr McErlean was a member.

“Henry was a proud and disciplined Volunteer of Oglaigh na hEireann and served the cause of Irish Freedom with distinction. He never bent the knee and stayed true to the Republic,” they said.

“He was an inspiration to all Volunteers who came in contact with him and showed leadership and honesty at a time when Republicanism needed it most. He will be sorely missed by all Oglaigh na hEireann Volunteers, but his legacy will inspire us all.”

A republican guard of honour escorted Mr McErlean’s funeral cortege on Thursday. The previous night the people of North Belfast came out in their hundreds to attend a vigil in honour of the lifelong Republican.

“It was an honour for each and every one of us to play a part in,” the RNU said.

“There are no words sufficient to explain this loss. We express our sincerest condolences to Henry’s family and promise to be there for them at every twist and turn.”

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