Some republicans facing PSNI harassment through stop-and-search abuses may also be coming under pressure to provide information to British military intelligence, it has emerged.
Arlene Shannon (pictured), whose partner is north Belfast republican Aidan Ferguson, has revealed that she and her 15-year-old son have regularly been targeted in ‘stop and search’ operations -- but that MI5 had now lodged 300 pounds in her bank account without her permission.
Ms Shannon said the money mysteriously appeared in her account when she checked it online last month.
She said she also received two text messages from a woman calling herself Helen, with one saying: “Hi Arlene, money in the bank is for you. Don’t worry, no strings attached. Hope to chat to you sometime, give me a call if I can help further.”
Bank officials have confirmed the cash was lodged by a man who walked into a branch in Bangor, County Down. She said she will give it to charity but the incident has left her “freaked out”.
Ms Shannon said she decided to speak out after a PSNI/MI5 stop-and-search operation last week when her teenage son, who has mental health issues, was searched.
Mr Ferguson said he and “at least 10 people” he knows have been approached in recent years by intelligence agencies asking them to provide information. He said there had been an increase in stop and search operations and approaches to members of new republican party Saoradh since it was launched last month.
Meanwhile, the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) has warned the PSNI are “playing with fire” after a series of house raids and stop and search operations against members.
The comments came as PSNI Chief George Hamilton was marking the fifteen-year anniversary of the rebranding of the force from the RUC. On the same day, the force’s members were pictured carrying out a raid at the home of former republican prisoner Sean Carlin in west Belfast.
In an unusually hard-hitting statement, the IRSP’s Lower Falls representative Michael Kelly warned that “British security forces risk bringing serious conflict onto the streets”.
The IRSP was linked to the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), which announced an end to its armed campaign in 2009.
Mr Kelly said that if the targeting of members represents a shift in policy “then the party fears that the political landscape may be facing a crisis unprecedented in decades”.
“The Irish Republican Socialist Party has been in existence for over 40 years, in that time we have never tolerated attacks on our membership from any quarter,” he said.
“This remains our principled position today. The British state and the PSNI are playing with fire.”