Two leading members of the Lasair Dhearg organisation were followed for several hours by the PSNI in Belfast city centre before being subjected to a forced stop and search this week.
Padraic Mac Coitir and Ciarán O’Brien are both spokespeople for the socialist republican organisation, founded in 2017 and which has never had links to any armed group.
Lasair Dhearg has been campaigning strongly against political policing in the north of Ireland in recent weeks. Despite intense PSNI harassment, they have been erecting posters to draw attention to statistics which show that the force has arrested and charged twice as many Catholics than Protestants in the last ten years.
In this instance, the two spokesmen described being ‘stalked’ for hours and over several miles by the same PSNI vehicle as they made their way around Belfast last Saturday, January 22.
Near the Lisburn Road in the south of the city, the passenger of the heavily armoured vehicle gestured a sarcastic thumbs up to both activists, before they were detained for a gratuitous and provocative stop and search.
Afterwards the same PSNI men went on to follow both men as they made their way into and about Belfast city centre, passing them more than 15 times and loitering after them in several locations.
A video of the harassment was posted on social media.
“The PSNI have forcibly stopped and searched over 374,000 people in the past ten years, the equivalent of approximately one fifth of the total population of the Six Counties,” the organisation said in a statement.
“These statistics serve as a reminder to the rest of us to know your rights when faced with a situation such as this: know your rights.”