An annual PSNI operation to harass and disrupt Irish republicans ahead of events for the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising has seen raids in three counties.
On Sunday, March 28, armed and masked members of the PSNI entered republican north Lurgan, in County Armagh, and held a number of residents there at gun point on the ground for over an hour. Later that night, the PSNI, accompanied by the British army, occupied and ‘searched’ a nearby graveyard, remaining there for three days. In neither case was anything found.
Members of Republican Sinn Féin in Irvinestown, County Fermanagh and Castlederg, County Tyrone were also subjected to heavy-handed British Crown Force raids on the morning of Tuesday, March 30.
Houses were searched and all clothing was taken, shoes, socks, trousers, jumpers, hoodies, and coats. All electronic equipment was also taken, including phones, laptops and children’s tablets, leaving the occupants with what they had on them at the time of the searches. Houses were wrecked and vehicles were seized in both premises in the co-ordinated raids.
And the early hours of Thursday, April 1, several British Crown Force vehicles, including armoured Land Rovers descended on the home of a republican in Omagh, County Tyrone. They ransacked it, seizing political and other items related to Easter events.
While it is common practice for the PSNI in the run up to Easter to raid homes and seize anything relating to Easter commemorations, republicans have always refused to allow the harassment to prevent the events going ahead.
“This will not stop Republican remembering our patriot dead,” said one of those searched in Armagh.
Republican Sinn Féin added: “Let us be clear: No matter how many searches, how many arrests, British Crown Forces will never break us.”