A stop-and-search operation by the PSNI targeted dozens of republican activists attending the Saoradh Ard Fheis in Derry last weekend.
Several homes in the Derry area were raided and Saoradh members were taken for interrogation on the eve of the party’s second annual conference.
Davy Jordan, who was re-elected for a second term as the National Chairperson, spoke of the level of harassment and intimidation that the party had faced since its launch last year .
He said “On behalf of our party and our activists I’d just like to say to Theresa May, Leo Varadkar, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill and the rotten systems they preside over, that we are here to stay. We are growing, our message has found fertile ground. Do your worst, it won’t be enough”.
A number of speakers addressed the Ard Fheis on a range of issues including supergrass trials, extradition, homelessness and the special criminal courts.
Issam Hijjawi, of the Palestine Democratic Forum, gave a speech where he compared the Oslo Accords with the Stormont Agreement and argued that the leaderships at that time in both Palestine and Ireland had gambled away their ideals and principles.
SUPPORT FOR PRISONERS
Several statements were read out on behalf of political prisoners. Lorraine Taylor, wife of interned Derry Republican Tony Taylor, raised her husband’s continued administrative detention at the hands of the British, as well as the recent internment of Gabriel Mackle.
There was also support for republican prisoner Damien McLaughlin has been ordered to be extradited from the 26 County state into British jurisdiction, despite the court’s recognition that conditions at Maghaberry jail breach human rights conventions.
Prisoners on the E3/E4 wing of Portlaoise jail are currently engaged in a 72-hour fast to highlight the brutality faced by their comrades in Maghaberry.
In a statement from the jail, Mr McLaughlin thanked those involved in the campaign.
“My extradition has now been ordered by the High Court Judge Aileen Donnelly, and with no avenues for appeal remaining, I am to be sent to Maghaberry gaol in between the next 10 to 25 days,” he said.
“Judge Donnelly had essentially acknowledged that I will be subjected to treatment which contravenes Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which prohibits the use of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment), but has now incredibly ruled that such cruel treatment is necessary for use on Irish Republican prisoners due to the ‘high risk environment’ in Maghaberry gaol.
“I would call on everyone to redouble their efforts to prevent the extradition of Ciaran Maguire (Finglas) and Sean Farrell (Crumlin).”
Meanwhile, five members of Republican Sinn Fein have had charges withdrawn against them relating to ‘illegal parades and wearing paramilitary style clothing’. The five, four men and a woman, were accused of taking part in a colour party at a republican Easter Commemoration in Lurgan, County Armagh.
A prosecution lawyer told Craigavon Magistrates Court that the case against the five, who all refused to identify themselves or to stand up in the Crown courtroom, “is to proceed by way of report”.
In a statement, RSF said: “From the outset of this case we have known they where politically motivated arrests designed to appease unionist politicians who where crying for people to be arrested.
“These five people where dragged from beds at 6am in the morning, one was arrested while out shopping with his young son who was left screaming. But more worryingly one of the men had to be admitted to hospital for treatment following his arrest.
“Today’s news comes as no surprise as all members have denied all charges against them and today’s developments are a positive step forward for all involved in the case.”