A chaotic late night PSNI assault on a group of nationalists in Stewartstown, County Tyrone has been described as “crazed”.
In the early hours of Sunday 23rd January, a large number of heavily armed PSNI police swarmed into the centre of the village and appeared to single out republicans. A number were pepper-sprayed, beaten, handcuffed and arrested.
One local man received facial injuries while being handcuffed and held face down on the ground while his daughter was restrained, pepper-sprayed and restrained on the ground, while another 14-year-old child was chased and then assaulted.
Saoradh has published images of the injuries suffered by one of their party members.
“In recent weeks the British Crown Forces have been peddling police reform and 20 years of so called ‘change’ when in reality absolutely nothing has change. This is the same RUC that it has always been,” they said.
Anger at the PSNI’s continuing targeting of nationalist and republican communities was expressed at a talk during the Bloody Sunday Committee’s 50th anniversary events.
One Derry family recounted their experience at the hands of the PSNI, which began when pregnant young mother Cliodhna McCool had her bank account suddenly frozen. The harassment escalated and culminated in a violent raid on the family home, one of hundreds directed against republicans in recent years.
Speaking at the event, Gervaise McCool, brother of Cliodhna, recalled that in 2019, the PSNI Chief Simon Byrne had threatened republicans: “My message to them is ‘you carry on doing this we will have your house, if you keep going, we will have your car, we will have your kids, we will have your benefits and we will put you in jail.”
He said the PSNI “often bust down or saw through unlocked doors screaming and shouting to the point they shake with adrenaline.”
One such raid took place on his family home in August 2020, during which his autistic 14-year-old brother was violently attacked by the PSNI and separated from his family.
Mr McCool said the PSNI had also no weaponised the use of Social Service referrals as a way of mentally abusing republican families and their children.
“Social workers are being harnessed as proxies in the PSNI’s targeting of ‘suspect’ families,” he warned.