Gardaí involved in abusive Belfast search - RSF

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Republican Sinn Féin have said a heavy-handed police raid on one of its member’s homes in west Belfast involved a specialist unit from the 26 Counties.

Last Sunday, May 17, the party activist opened his front door and was approached by plainclothes PSNI police, who said that they were there to conduct a search of the home.

The activist refused them entry and asked to see a warrant at which they said only “we don’t need a warrant, we have a signed authority by the inspector to search the premises and all those within the home”.

Armed and uniformed PSNI then forced their way into the home, running to each room shouting “police”. The activist’s pregnant partner and seven children were awakened by masked figures standing at the bottom of their beds. They forced everyone out of their beds and down the stairs, where they were searched.

A forensic-type unit of men in boiler suits with military technical equipment then arrived, with two police dogs. Republican Sinn Féin reported the men all spoke with a Dublin accent and were greeted by the plainclothes RUC members. They noted they had great difficulty understanding each other’s accents; they shook hands and were then heard to say they were glad the search unit were “up with us”. Another described it as “cross-border policing”.

They then proceeded to ransack the interior of the home, the gardens and outer perimeter. To the family’s horror, an urn containing the ashes of a deceased child was opened and poured onto a bed. One of those involved told the activist’s five-year old child “we are here for your daddy’s bombs”.

The RUC helicopter flew overhead as neighbours came out of their homes in support of the family. Tensions escalated dangerously to the point where one armed PSNI man drew a gun and aimed at one of the neighbours, who was carrying a stick, before chasing him through the streets.

After four hours, a blender was removed from the house. Still not satisfied, they returned after dark and shone spotlights through the bedroom windows of the home where the terrified children were attempting to get to sleep.

RSF said its members had been subjected to a long-running campaign of “harassment and British political policing” through stop and searches, home raids, and direct violence.

“This intimidation, harassment, psychological and physical abuse will not deter Sinn Féin Poblachtach from our objectives nor will it kill the will of activists to be free,” they said.

“The Republican Movement and Sinn Féin Poblachtach strongly condemn the attacks on our members and their families; we send our support and solidarity.”

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