Republicans have been removing dozens of PSNI symbols across north and west Belfast as part of a campaign against Britain’s ‘normalisation’ of the PSNI and other state forces.
Signage which featured the PSNI emblem on issues such as anti-social behaviour or off-road vehicles was amended in order to remove their logo. Instead of ‘Police Warning’, the signs now read ‘Community Warning’.
“The PSNI is not a normal ‘police force’, and every inch they take on the road to ‘normalisation’ must be taken back,” said Lasair Dhearg, a campaigning organisation which formed in Belfast three years ago.
They said “almost all” of the original RUC police remain.
“The RUC were never disbanded, as was the core republican demand in years previous, but simply re-branded as the PSNI.
“And, just like the RUC, it’s much despised ‘Special Branch’ did not go away either. The same public relations exercise was applied and it, just like the RUC, was re-branded and reformed into what is now known as ‘C3 Intelligence Branch’.
The responsibilities of C3 include intelligence gathering, the infiltration of republican political organisations and the recruitment and running of ‘covert human intelligence sources’ (informers).
Lasair Dhearg noted that some four in five members of C3 are Protestants, of which 92% are former RUC officers.
The group also condemned the PSNI’s ‘Tactical Support Group’ [TSG], whose duties include house raids, searches, ‘counter terrorism’ and surveillance, among others.
“These two agencies, C3 and the TSG, provide the basis of a re-branded RUC Special Branch. They use the same tactics and methods as the Special Branch, and for the same purpose,” they said.
“Many years of a 50/50 recruitment policy has done little to impact the makeup of the new Special Branch. It remains almost 80% protestant, a dim representation of a population that is almost 50% Catholic; not that it would matter anyway.
“Little wonder then that, employing the same modus operandi, the same political direction and indeed the same workforce, we have the same outcomes.”
They believe that Britain’s policy of ‘normalisation’ is in full swing.
“A strategy, fully endorsed by local political parties, that attempts to force the PSNI center stage in efforts that it be perceived as ‘normal’ within the Republican and nationalist community.
“This is a process that sees heavily armed members of the force visit local schools, accompanied by their weaponry, to garner interest from young members of the community who may see these weapons being handled by ‘a friendly face’.
“This ‘hearts and minds’ campaign also sees members of local PSNI structures deliberately attending local events, even when there is no clear need.
“PSNI members are sometimes filmed on bicycles in areas they don’t normally frequent, whilst heavily armoured vehicles lurk in nearby streets in efforts to protect the PR event.”
They called for support to fight a normalisation policy that “pervades every level of the PSNI”, down to mundane signage in working class areas emblazoned with PSNI emblems.
“As the PSNI is quite literally fighting to normalise the force on our street corners, so too must republicans, in order to roll back Britain’s normalisation process,” they said.
“It’s very emblems must be stripped from our streets and every inch of the force itself, root and Special Branch, must be stripped from our island.”