The handling by the authorities of a republican prisoner who tragically lost his twin baby grandchildren last week ranks among the worst of any stage of the conflict.
Kevin Murphy, a long-standing Saoradh activist who is currently interned by remand in Maghaberry jail, has now been imprisoned for almost three years without trial. He was previously interned by remand for five years before charges against him were suddenly dropped.
In recent days and weeks, a time of unbelievable trauma, hurt and grief his family has endured has laid bare the vindictive nature of the PSNI, MI5 and British Judiciary in the Six Counties for all to see.
The twins’ birth, to Kevin’s daughter Saoirse, was complicated. Compassionate bail was applied for but was refused, despite Saoirse almost losing her own life during childbirth.
Whilst opposing bail the PSNI stated in court that they didn’t deem the situation to be an act of emergency. The Crown Force stated that in their opinion Saoirse must be okay “as she could move about via a wheelchair with her husband’s assistance”.
The next day Saoirse’s son and Kevin’s grandson Pádraig died. Only then was Kevin released between the hours of 3-5pm (travelling time to and from jail included) for two hours.
For Pádraig’s funeral, Kevin was released under compassionate bail for just four hours, including travelling to and from the prison. As part of his release conditions, he was not allowed near the family home, a few minutes walk away.
As a result the family were forced to stand in the pouring rain while Saoirse was still very weak and in a wheelchair so Kevin could be present to offer full support. The PSNI said they opposed his presence at the family home because they “would be unable to monitor his movements”.
Grace’s condition worsened with her life at immediate risk, and again compassionate bail was applied for and granted for just two hours. The MI5-directed jail administration did not let Kevin know he was due to be released and he only found out through phoning out to his wife to enquire as to Grace’s condition.
He was told he should have been released 20 minutes prior to this phonecall. Kevin ultimately was released for only 70 minutes to drive from Maghaberry to the hospital in Belfast, spend five minutes to say his final goodbye to Grace and ten minutes with his family, before getting back to Maghaberry in time to adhere to the release conditions.
Kevin was released once again on compassionate bail due to Grace sadly passing away on January 2. The magistrate throughout the bail hearing used flight risk and risk of reoffending to justify overly stringent conditions being imposed. This was despite the fact that Kevin had adhered to all conditions previously imposed during this traumatic time.
Once again the McGrath and Murphy families had to stand and mourn for all this time in the pouring rain as he wasn’t allowed to return to his own home.
Despite an appeal to the High Court, he was refused an overnight stay at his home address due to the fact the PSNI stated they could not monitor the inside of the family home. This denied Kevin any opportunity to grieve adequately, or show appropriate levels of support for his daughter, her husband and the wider family after the loss of both his grandchildren.
Due to the denial of access to the family home, the grief stricken family had to set up a marquee in the church grounds as Kevin was not allowed to leave the vicinity of the chapel.
PSNI intrusion reached a new low level of depravity with the mourning grotesquely recorded by armed and masked police.
“As sickening as the above details are, they will come as no surprise to a Republican base that has long since become accustomed to the sick enjoyment that State Agencies get from attempts to amplify the grieving process for Republicans and their families,” Saoradh said.
“Regardless of the circumstances they seek to twist the knife. This should serve as a wake up call to those who believe that any sort of normalisation process regarding the PSNI is worthy of support, much less supporting the Crown Force itself.
“Saoradh demand that those within our communities that support, advocate and recruit for these sectarian bigots must publicly explain their rationale for doing so in light of the facts of this case being put into the public domain.
“Kevin Murphy’s case and ordeal have been replicated numerous times since the false claims of a ‘new dispensation’ - this is not unique or an anomaly but rather the outworking of a distinct and identifiable British strategy. One that is doomed to fail.”
Saoradh said there had been no support “whatsoever” from rival nationalist parties or church figures.
“Likewise the plethora of long range revolutionaries and human rights advocates must also explain why they are so willing to highlight State abuses of power thousands of miles away, while ignoring the persecution of a family on their metaphorical doorstep in East Tyrone.
“For these proponents of equality, social justice and fairness it would seem that Republicans are the only ones unworthy of any compassion or empathy at times of loss and bereavement.
“Saoradh, the IRPWA and the Republican Movement are absolutely clear and unequivocal in our support for the McGrath and Murphy families at this time. We also send full solidarity to our comrade Kevin at this sad time. That is to be expected, as is his strength, integrity and discipline serving as an inspiration to us all.
“What is also to be expected is that any other political organisation, independent representative or indeed anyone with a semblance of humanity would do exactly the same at this time and speak out in support of the McGrath and Murphy families. Let’s see who steps up. And who refuses to.”