The headquarters of the Irish Republican Socialist Party were raided by the PSNI police on Friday in the latest show of strength by the Crown forces against republicans in Belfast and Derry.
Journalists and camera crews had been tipped off in advance to be on the scene in west Belfast for the operation since early morning, as PSNI began raiding homes and provoking members of the IRSP. A large-scale military operation subsequently descended on the IRSP offices in full view of the cameras, and one voluntary office worker was arrested.
Smear allegations of criminal activity against the Irish Republican Socialist Movement were released by the PSNI to television networks and were angrily rejected.
Accusations of prostitution and “human trafficking” were directed by the PSNI against a Romanian man who they claim had links to the IRSM.
In a statement, the IRSP said the allegations had been concocted by British Military Intelligence (MI5) and “designed to discredit the party as part of recent moves to implement fresh start aims to wipe alternative republican thinking from the political stage”.
“By mid afternoon it had become clear that a full-scale attempt to criminalise and demonise the Irish Republican Socialist Movement was under way,” they said.
“The Irish Republican Socialist Movement is happy to confirm that they know nothing of this individual, nor is the movement involved in any way shape or form, with prostitution, human trafficking or extortion.
“Tonight, the IRSP headquarters remains occupied by hostile British troops under the guise of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, our members have been unlawfully prevented from observing the search take place and our solicitors have written to the office of the Chief Constable demanding an explanation for this unlawful action. Other members of the IRSP are in Police custody and we expect more raids to follow.”
The party linked the raids to its recent efforts to prevent an eviction of a single mother in the Lower Falls area.
“The Republican Socialist Movement are confident of the reasons for today’s psychological attacks,” they said.
“The stated aim of the Fresh Start Agreement was to wipe from the stage of Irish politics all traces of alternative republican thinking. MI5 know that the IRSP has re-organised into a vibrant and confident party in recent years and are determined to smash that momentum.
“The IRSP state clearly that in this aim, MI5 and their stooges in the PSNI will fail. Tonight the attacks on our party are ongoing. We will release a full statement in due course.”