A spate of heavy-handed operations in Derry by the PSNI has followed in a grim Crown Force tradition of Christmas-time raids in republican areas and the seizure of family gifts and children’s toys.
A dawn house raid in the Brandywell area on Monday morning saw a 21-year- old arrested and taken away to Musgrave Interrogation Centre in Belfast.
The PSNI told the family that the raid was a result of their friendships in the area and because they had taken part in a lotto draw to support republican political prisoners.
“The raid and detention yesterday was carried out solely to intimidate and criminalise the young man detained and his family,” Saoradh said.
“As draconian criminalisation continues to increase, British Crown Forces deem it illegal to be friends with Republicans.”
Later in the week, large numbers of PSNI and British Army descended on the outskirts of Creggan and began searching fields and using drone equipment to spy on people living in the surrounding areas.
And before 6am on a foggy Thursday morning, more than 20 armed and masked PSNI members forced entry into the home of a republican activist and engaged in shameful act of state oppression.
They ironically arrived in tinsel clad armoured jeeps and cars in what was described as “a sadistic and ironic attempt to normalise their annual acts of festive destruction”.
The raid saw a tirade of abuse and attempts to intimidate and terrify those inside. Items removed include games consoles, mobile phones, educational toys, children’s laptops, an Alexa device and the family car.
The heartbroken mother of the family challenged politicians and the clergy to respond to the abuse and the considerable damage and upheaval wreaked on their family home.
“I challenge any member of Sinn Féin, SDLP, independent republicans or the clergy to explain to my family why they sit in silence and watch as my home is torn apart by scores of armed members of the Crown,” she wrote.
“Explain to my young son why armed men are staring at him naked, or while he’s using the toilet men are watching him?
“Explain how their father is beat up, then thrown to the street on a cold winter’s morning while his children watch on in tears. This is some New Ireland we live in, more like Nazi Germany. Shame on anyone who supports these Nazi thugs.”
The raids took place against the backdrop of increased loyalist attacks and intimidation in the forms of gun and bomb attacks yet “not one house raid, arrest or even as much as a stop and search” has taken place in loyalist areas, Saoradh said.
They also noted one of the PSNI members operating in the Creggan provocatively wore a badge with an insignia associated with the disgraced former name of the RUC. The badge consists of a poppy with a harp in the centre and Crown atop the words Royal Ulster Constabulary.
“In a climate were republicans are condemned for celebrating the actions of IRA Volunteers, current-day mercenaries wear the insignia of arguably the world’s most murderous and sectarian ‘police force’, sadly supported and endorsed by the once proud revolutionary party Sinn Féin,’ they added.
The plight of people in the Six Counties had not improved despite countless peace deals, they said. “The occupied people of Ireland’s situation has not changed, and can never change until Britain’s continued occupation is driven from our country.”
Sinn Féin made no direct comment on the raids but local Assembly member Karen Mullan said it was ‘totally unacceptable’ for a PSNI member to wear the old RUC badge on his cap.
Independent councillor for the area Gary Donnelly strongly criticised what he said was yet another aggressive British police action in the festive season.
“Contrast this with the lack of response to the explosion in violence by loyalist paramilitaries who in the last few months have shot two innocent people in the head and attacked a number homes with pipe bombs and gunfire,” he said.