The offices of political party Saoradh in Derry have once again been raided as MI5 are reportedly under orders to ‘bring down’ Thomas Ashe Mellon, a 43-year-old republican activist who is a leading figure in the party.
PSNI Special Branch police were involved in the search operation, described by Saoradh as a “heavy handed rapid entry raid”. They claimed it had followed a call by political leaders, including Sinn Féin, for British forces to put in place “a tangible plan of action against republicans”.
The PSNI are now said to be working with British military intelligence and the British Army’s Special Reconnaissance Regiment to jail Mr Mellon. He was previously charged with ‘directing terrorism’ and found not guilty by a judge in a prosecution that was described by a source for the Sunday Life newspaper as “a holding charge” aimed at “getting him off the streets”.
He was convicted recently of taking part in a banned Easter commemoration last year through the Creggan, a conviction which is currently under appeal.
Saoradh denounced the raid as “a culmination of unprofessional journalism by some, a near hysterical clergy all being dragged nose-first by the crocodile tears of former republicans”.
They said members have been under “overt surveillance” in recent weeks as part of an effort “to thawrt any and all republican activism”.
“It is clear that our party headquarters, our party members and our support base are being actively targeted in a futile attempt to stop the public availing of the free services we offer,” they said.
“As local Republicans and members of our community made their way towards Junior McDaid House this morning, colonial foot soldiers hurled abuse. Proof, as if it were needed, that British Crown Forces are intent on harassing and intimidating Republican communities.
“While so called elected representatives sit at home watching live videos of Republicans being harassed and our community coming under attack, our activists are on the ground responding. Attacks like this will do nothing to thwart Republican activism and will only harden our resolve.”