There was outrage in west Belfast this week after a ten year old girl was pictured being harassed by the PSNI.
Saoradh said Matt Johnston’s daughter was put through a traumatic and abusive experience as he was delivering political leaflets. After being ordered from the vehicle a PSNI woman approached his daughter and asked for her name and date of birth.
Mr Johnston said he was being questioned by another PSNI man and became aware of the approach after a resident brought it to his attention.
When he challenged the PSNI member, she refused to remove the child’s name from the notebook. Mr Johnston said his daughter was left frightened by the incident and asked him why she had been singled out.
Saoradh believes the PSNI are now deliberately targeting the children of their supporters during stop and search operations.
The intimidation and interrogation of the little girl was a sinister development, they said, and a continuation of harassment against republican families and children since the organisation was formed earlier this year.
Damian Mac Eochaidh, a Saoradh member who witnessed the incident, said there was an ongoing process of state-sponsored child abuse involving children, “wholly designed to overwhelm parents and to coerce them into abandoning their legitimate political beliefs”.
Risteard O Murchu’s his own teenage daughter and 12-year-old son were involved in a stop and search operation as he left them to school.
“Being heavily armed and hyper-aggressive, the child was obviously terrified. The legislation invoked was the draconian section 21 Justice and Security act and a search ensued,” he said.
“Passers-by, on being naturally concerned about the welfare of a clearly, terrified, little girl and who inquired as to what was going on, were then themselves detained and searched by police also.”
Saoradh demanded that the Children’s Commissioner in the Six Counties publicly condemn the intimidation of children by “armed agents of the state” and called for her to meet with a party delegation to discuss the situation.
“Those who endorse and promote the PSNI locally, while they pursue their war against the community, need to publicly explain why they continue to support the frontline force of occupation,” they added.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Paul Maskey said his party had contacted the PSNI to strongly criticise the actions.
“This is unacceptable policing. The human rights of children should not be abused and children should be free from intimidation from anyone including action such as this by the PSNI.”