A statement from Saoradh member, Damhnic Mac Eochaidh, read out at the demonstration against British/PSNI harassment in Belfast, and also one by 15-year-old Ailise ni Mhurchu from west Belfast, on the PSNI stop and search procedures she has endured while going to and coming from school.
Can I first of all begin by thanking you all on behalf of Saoradh for attending here tonight. It is to be commended that we have such a good turnout here, given the short notice and cold weather.
As Republican activists, no quarter is given and none should be asked for. We have taken the conscious decision to embark on a life of struggle, a life committed to achieving Freedom for our country and betterment of the lives of the working class. We seek to remove the twin evils of occupation and capitalism as we achieve liberation. We make no apologies for that, and are aware of the intimidation, harassment, hardship, imprisonment and possible death that awaits us.
Accordingly, we face an enemy that is willing to use the tools at its disposal. Fists, batons, tasers, plastic bullets and live ammunition are but equipment to the Crown Forces. Their real tools are the various forms of legislation they utilise in futile attempts to break the Republican Struggle. Legislation that has been imposed on us by a foreign parliament at Westminster with no right to be in Ireland.
RIPA. The Terrorism Act. The Justice and Security Act. Stop and Searches. Home Invasions. Arrests. Malicious Charges. Miscarriages of Justice. Collusion. The murder of Irish citizens, the most recent just a few weeks ago in our city centre.
These are all separate components of the British War Machine in Ireland, supported by unknown numbers of MI5 operatives. All of which is supported by a Sinn Fein/DUP coalition at Stormont, implemented by their unionist “justice” minister. We continue to resist all these mechanisms of British Rule.
In the course of their war on our communities, Britain and the Stormont State has now taken to attacking and threatening the families and children of activists. Not content with threatening the lives of their parents, stealing their toys and consoles, confiscating laptops with important exam coursework and wrecking their homes, the PSNI have now specifically targeted children for harassment.
The children of activists, many of whom not yet in their teens, now find themselves being the victims of stop and searches on their way into school. They are being targeted on their way to GAA, soccer, boxing or Irish dancing practice. Their hurling coaches are being threatened with arrest for carrying sticks. Even on holiday, they are targeted by whichever secretive arm of the Crown Forces MI5 deem appropriate. Is this part of the process to pressure children into becoming informers that Gerry Kelly has publicly stated he approves of?
It is no coincidence that this targeted harassment of children has coincided with the recent launch of Saoradh. It is in the interests of the State, of reformists and of the establishment clergy that there is no national, articulate and radical Revolutionary Movement that will organise to oppose their collective agenda. This, allied with the efforts of the gutter press, condemnation from reformists and the hysteria of political unionism are the age-old combination of forces that has traditionally railed against progressive, socialist, Republican alternatives. Those who support the armed wing of unionism need to publicly explain their endorsement of those who abuse our children, and be honest as to the responsibility they bear with regards to passing information to the PSNI on activists and their children.
We are here, Saoradh are here, along with other welcome organisations and individuals, to state that nothing will break us. We will not be strangled at birth. The advantage of movements such as ours is our resilience and the strength of comradeship. Our activists, our families and our children have the collective strength and internal support to withstand these attacks. We also want to appeal to the public, anyone who is the victim of harassment, intimidation or approaches and thinks they are alone. You are not alone, contact Saoradh and we will assist and support you.
They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken.
Ailise ni Mhurchu
I am glad to get the opportunity to speak here tonight about my experiences of British stop and search powers. The first time I was stopped and searched was I was 11 years old on and it happened on Lanark way. I was frightened being surrounded by so many members of the PSNI. At that time I didn’t realise that this would become the norm for my family. 5 years later, I’ve now overcome those fears.
I’ve been in my daddy’s car during most of the stop and searches and have got used to it. I’m still only 15 years old and still at School. I’m now in my important GCSE years and have recently experienced stop and searches while being brought to school and some times being late. I find it difficult trying to explain why I be late. Outside of my family I feel like a lone voice, especially among those whom I feel have a duty to protect me as I have done no wrong.
I’ve now began to question why is this happening? and why these PSNI people are not challenged by any politicians? As a 15 year old, I am now speaking out and I would hope more and more people who should know better would speak out against these stop and searches. I see the PSNI as an oppressive force denying me my freedoms as a human being.
I just want to finish by saying in the words of Martin Luther King, “In the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.