PSNI move against republican funeral
PSNI move against republican funeral


Levels of Crown force harassment have jumped in the Derry City and Strabane area following the arrest of fifteen people at the funeral of former republican prisoner Mickey Barr in Strabane on Thursday.

The 35-year-old, a former member of the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs, was shot dead by a criminal gang in a Dublin pub last week. The ‘new IRA’ has claimed Mr Barr was a member but have denied he was involved in the ongoing gangland feud in Dublin, which has so far cost six lives.

At his funeral, around a dozen men took part in a uniformed colour party and accompanied the cortege as it travelled towards the church. Black flags were also placed on lampposts along part of the route while a black beret and gloves were placed on top of the coffin which had been draped in an Irish tricolour.

The PSNI said the men had been detained under the ‘Terrorism Act’ and described the funeral as a “paramilitary display”. Three cars also seized as part of the operation, which has now also seen a number of homes in the area raided.

Colour parties have featured at several other recent Easter Rising commemorations, all of which were allowed to proceed without PSNI interference. Similar funerals, both republican and loyalist, have also taken place in the past year without direct police action.

At this week’s funeral, however, the PSNI adopted tactics more like those witnessed during republican funerals of the late 1980s, when riot police moved in and arrested men at the scene, provoking serious disorder.

Jonathan Craig, a DUP representative on the Policing Board, welcomed the PSNI’s new ‘hardline’ approach to republican funerals.

“I think is this likely to change the public’s perception. The perception was that police were treating illegal republican parades differently to other parades.”


There has been aggressive Crown force activity elsewhere in Derry this week, including a failed MI5 recruitment bid that has been recorded on video and now uploaded to the internet.

And in a separate development, a taxi driver in the city has said he has been forced to quit his job following intense PSNI harassment.

Ciaran Hassan said that the PSNI stopped him last Monday morning as he made his way to the Derry courthouse where he was due to take part in jury service. It was just the latest in an ongoing campaign of harassment which he said began six years ago, after he was arrested and held for two days without being charged.

The 42-year-old said that over that period, he was stopped and searched so many times by PSNI that he gave up his job as a taxi driver, as the frequency of their detentions meant he could not do his job.

“It’s gotten to the stage where it’s just ridiculous,” he said. “On Monday morning I was walking up Fahan Street on my way to the courthouse and two police officers stopped under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and I actually started laughing, because I was on my way to be part of a jury.”

The father-of-five added: “When I was taxiing, they would stop me all the time when I had passengers in the car, and it was so embarrassing, because these people would be sitting in the car watching this all going on, and there was nothing I could do.”

A letter of complaint has now been sent to the Police Ombudsman for by Mr Hassan’s lawyers.

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