Dé Luain, Feabhra 08, 2010

Protest Against Section 44 & the PSNI

As reported previously on this site, an average of 100 nationalists are being stopped & searched every day of every week by the PSNI under repressive legislation.

Last year alone, at least 20,000 people were harassed by Britain’s political police under Section 44 of the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act’ and the Justice & Security Act 2007.

éirígí activists have been among those targeted by the PSNI using these pieces of foreign legislation (PSNI Repression on the Rise).

On Saturday past (6th February), just one day after an alleged new dawn in British policing in Ireland was declared, it was business as usual for the PSNI in west Belfast.

Four éirígí activists were detained in the Beechmount area by the political police using the now notorious Section 44 and Justice & Security Act legislation. The car that three of the men were travelling in was boxed in by two armoured jeeps before the vehicle and its occupants were searched by the paramilitary police. Initially, the PSNI claimed they were detaining the men under road traffic legislation, yet, when the driver produced all the necessary documentation, Section 44 came into play.

When John McCusker, the chairperson of one éirígí ciorcal in Belfast, arrived on the scene in support of the activists, he too was detained, searched and had his mobile phone seized on the spurious grounds that it was being used to “gather information likely to be of use to terrorists”.

The éirígí activists in question, including national vice-chairperson Rab Jackson, had just hung large anti-PSNI banners on the Falls and Springfield Roads prior to being stopped and searched. The text of the banners read RUC- PSNI: Different Name, Same Aim and British Police Out Of Ireland.

As the PSNI were leaving the scene, the officer in charge admitted that, far from investigating any ‘terrorist’ incident, the activists were actually detained for hanging banners critical of the force.

In response to the increased use of repressive legislation against the nationalist community and the harassment of its activists, éirígí has called a demonstration at the Andersonstown Barracks site in Belfast on Monday night at 6pm.

Speaking after the incident, John McCusker said: “The PSNI’s actions on Saturday morning were a prime example of what is wrong with British policing in Ireland. Using so-called anti-terror legislation to attempt to prevent people putting up banners exposes the deeply abnormal nature of British policing in the Six Counties. The fact that the PSNI have used Section 44 and similar legislation on at least 20,000 occasions in the last 12 months further illustrates that abnormality.

“The banners that were erected were designed to highlight the fact that, despite the change of name, the primary aim of the PSNI is exactly the same as the primary aim of the RUC – to protect the British occupation of the Six Counties. Ironically the actions of the PSNI this morning proved just that point. The type of heavy-handed political policing that we were subjected to is exactly the type of thing the RUC were infamous for.

“éirígí intends to step up its campaign against the PSNI over the coming weeks and months. Incidents like Saturday’s only increase our resolve to expose the unchanged nature of the PSNI. We are appealing for as many people as possible to join the protest in Andersonstown on Monday to demonstrate that nationalists and republicans won’t be intimidated by Britain’s police force in Ireland.”

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