Family members of republicans are being increasingly harassed and coerced to provide information and collaborate with the Crown Forces.
One man, the brother of a republican, has recently endured no less than five approaches over the course of a period of eight days.
The campaign directed at him by the PSNI police and MI5 (British military intelligence) follows a detention almost a week ago as he travelled home from work. The man was held for almost two hours in the village of Aughnacloy while the PSNI searched his vehicle.
Soon after being allowed to leave the man received a phone call from a female with an English accent claiming to be an MI5 agent named ‘Hannah’. She said that she could ‘make his life easier’ before he quickly hung up.
But before reaching Derry, the man was stopped and subjected to a further search before being allowed to travel home, still apparently under surveillance.
The man has since been stopped by both Crown Forces and Garda personnel while travelling on both sides of the border in a clear attempt to pressure him into becoming an informer.
Saoradh has denounced what they said had been a sharp increase of such of activity in the weeks leading to Christmas. They again urged everyone, republican or otherwise, to be vigilant and to contact a lawyer if they find themeselves facing similar harassment or intimidation.
They said the mother of one of its members recently received a text message from an MI5 agent going by the name of ‘Liz’, the third time since 2019 that she has been contacted this way. In the text message, the British agent speaks of the state harassment facing her son and blames it on “the company he keeps”. ‘Liz’ goes on to say that she can ‘help’ her.
A member of Republican Sinn Féin in Tyrone was also approached by text after receiving a number of calls from an unfamiliar number. A message from a woman calling herself ‘Edel’ also offered to ‘help’, claiming they were aware he was in financial difficulties.
More sinisterly, another woman, a former member of Saoradh was stopped and approached in Newry late at night by a uniformed PSNI member and a plain-clothed agent. Operating out of an unmarked vehicle, they referred to the woman’s personal circumstances and urged her to cooperate with them.
When she lifted her phone to try to record the approach, the PSNI member violently snatched it from her hand. Fearing for her safety the targeted woman then began screaming and shouting for them to leave her alone. The PSNI member then flung her phone back through the window and told her “we will talk again” before returning to their unmarked car.
“It speaks volumes that the Crown Forces in collusion with MI5 would target a lone, vulnerable woman in the dead of night. This is their true nature,” said local Saoradh representative Murney.
“These approaches are about one thing – persecuting Republicans for their political beliefs and activities.”