Draconian new powers introduced at Westminster in the name of protecting the public are already being abused in the north of Ireland, according to republicans in Derry.
Legislation passed at Westminster this week contain what the opposition Labour party in London described as “the most draconian” ever brought into British law since World War Two.
They include the power to detain and isolate members of the public in special isolation facilities, the power to shut down gatherings, protest and demonstrations, and the power, ‘if border staff fall ill’, to seal borders, including the border through Ireland.
Police in England have already taken steps to question members of the public about their movements after British ministers said there should be “no unnecessary journeys”.
Saoradh said that within 24 hours after the measures were put in place, its members were being “stalked and harassed” by Crown Forces.
“One Republican activist was followed for a short distance before Crown Force personnel shouted from the safety of their armoured car ‘I hope this is your first and last outing for exercise’ while naming the activist,” they said.
In another case, Crown Force members shouted “sarcastic comments about social distancing” at two Saoradh members who were standing outside their workplace, they said.
“It is clear that British Crown Forces will abuse these new powers and continue to target Republicans in the same way they have abused the draconian stop and and search powers.
“The targeting of Republicans, who at this very time are trying to help those most vulnerable in working class communities, will not go unnoticed or forgotten by the communities we are part of and live in.
“The actions of British Crown Forces were “predictable”, they said. “They are the real virus plaguing our society.”