Oppression ‘backfiring’ on PSNI

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With incidents of harassment by the PSNI rising significantly, a report for the Stormont administration has admitted that the abuse of stop and search powers is actually bolstering support for republican groups in Derry.

A report commissioned by the Stormont Executive warned that oppressive measures were backfiring on the authorities.

“It is clear that the detention of senior republican figures coupled with the use and alleged abuse of stop and search powers are huge, burning issues in Derry, generating sympathy for traditional republican views and hostility towards the police,” the report warned.

It also said that those being caught up in the PSNI stop-and-search operations include unaligned people and those openly working in support of normalisation in the city.

Paddy Gallagher of Saoradh in Derry said there had been a big jump in Crown Force oppression.

“Over the course of recent days and weeks we have seen a huge increase in the number of stop and searches by British Crown Forces across the occupied six counties, specifically in Derry,” he said.

“However, what now seems to be a worrying trend is the aggressive nature of stop and searches and the blatant process of trumped up charges.”

One local activist was reported by Saoradh to have been sexually assaulted in the course of one such detention. After the victim recorded the incident on their phone, it was seized by the PSNI.

“While we strive to highlight and expose British led injustices in Ireland others would rather bury their head in the sand,” said Mr Gallagher.

“Pro-establishment parties, counter revolutionaries, former republicans and most notably the Catholic Church still choose to ignore the fact armed British militia men continue to abuse Irish citizens on a daily basis.

“We, as republicans, have become accustomed to the daily onslaught of abuse, intimidation and harassment meted out by British Crown Forces. These tactics have failed in the past and will continue to fail today.”

Republican Sinn Fein also reported a rash of stop-and-search detentions in north Armagh this week, including an illegal attempt to search the home of one activist.

They said a dispute over bail conditions had also been used as a pretext for the summary imprisonment of republicans Stephen Conlon and Christopher Hamill. Both men were arrested and bailed earlier this year over their alleged participation in a colour party at a republican Easter commemoration.

“Two Republican Sinn Fein members are being held in Maghaberry jail on charges which amount to at the most public order offences and do not carry a jail sentence,” they said.

They also pointed to a case in Banbidge, County Down, where one of their activists suffered what he described as a “very heavy stop and search” by three PSNI as he was walking with his two daughters and two grandchildren.

“They put me up against a wall told me they were going to search me under the security and justice act,” he said. “They then searched me on the main street of a Protestant town in front of the children.

“They would not let me record it and threatened to seize my phone if I did. They also demanded to know were my car was parked which I refused to answer.

“If they think I will be intimidated by this act of harassment then they are very much mistaken.”

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