Anger is mounting after several days of aggressive British military operations in which masked and armed soldiers conducted searches and raids in Derry and Tyrone.
A small housing project just off the Southway area of Creggan in Derry City was described as “effectively under siege” by British troops who were accompanied by heavily armed PSNI.
A claim of a supposed firearms find was delivered to the media but was ridiculed by local residents. It later emerged the find amounted to a single rusted gun of unknown vintage.
Saoradh hit out at what they said was a “show of strength” by the British forces and condemned the “smoke and mirrors facade of a supposed find”, which they suggested would be used as an excuse to raid republican homes in the run up to Easter.
Subsequent searches and raids took place in Ballymagroarty and surrounding areas. Saoradh said the family home of a member of the party’s National Executive had been “invaded and ransacked”, with the Saoradh member “hauled off to Musgrave Interrogation Centre”.
“The surrounding fields around the Saoradh members home has been saturated by scores of heavily armed and masked members of the British army, dressed in black clothing, accompanied by members of the Crown Forces with no identification marks on their uniforms,” they said.
“The sight of British troops accompanied by unidentifiable members of the Crown Forces is nothing new as this tactic of non-identification is favoured by the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR).”
They added: “The British army have a long history of atrocities in Ireland, and most notably in Derry. The presence of the British army on the streets of Derry once more is a worrying one, and one we will not let go unchallenged.”
Elsewhere, raids continued in Tyrone, where one supposed arms find was identified as a century-old antique.
The badly rusted, century-old Smith & Wesson revolver was displayed to the media as a ‘dissident’ weapon, but experts have dated it to the War of Independence or earlier.
The PSNI’s desperation to justify oppressive Crown Forces raids has also seen it seize toy pellet guns, most recently in Beragh, County Tyrone.
A recent operation against the Irish Republican Socialist Party ended in embarrassment for the PSNI this week when an alleged weapon was shown to the judge.
Party activist John O’Connor had his home raided last year by the PSNI’s ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’ and subsequently charged with possession of a firearm.
The cheap pellet gun was shown to the judge, who immediately dismissed the charges and dropped all bail conditions against Mr O’Connor.
The IRSP has linked the charges to smears and censorship which are often directed against the party ahead of an election, in this case the local council elections in May.
“This is just another, in a long line of lies, deceit and fabrication by the PSNI’s PCTF against the IRSP and its membership,” the IRSP said.
“As we approach the upcoming election, we expect the PSNI and the PCTF to ramp up their attacks against the IRSP in a political attempt to do all they can to stop the IRSP from gaining any electoral positions, knowing we will use such a position to confront their actions and hold them to account in elected chambers.”