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Political Repression Behind Charging of Newry éirígí Activist

01/12/12

Stephen MurneyA spokesperson for the socialist republican party, éirígí, has described the PSNI’s actions in pressing charges against one of the party’s members as a blatant but crude attempt at political censorship and the open suppression of legitimately-held political opinions.

The party’s general secretary, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, said, “As a member of éirígí, Stephen Murney has documented and recorded numerous instances of stop and searches, house raids, along with many other examples of heavy-handed operations conducted by the PSNI in the Newry.

“As the local spokesperson for the party in the Newry area, Stephen has regularly highlighted these issues through statements carried in local newspapers, articles to the party website and via social media outlets.”

He went to explain, “Two of the charges against him directly relate to these activities – the same type of activities which the British government promotes and encourages dissenting communities in certain other states to engage in.

“The third charge also is directly related to Stephen’s work as a party member. His solicitor has been informed that among the items which the PSNI claim may be “likely to be of use to terrorists” are éirígí posters, leaflets and literature of which many thousands of copies have been distributed throughout communities across the north, along with stencils which party members make use of.”

Mac Cionnaith then stated, “These spurious charges that have been laid against Stephen Murney are charges which could be pressed against any political activist, any human rights activist, or any photo-journalist, in the Six Counties.

“These charges are a blatant but crude attempt at political censorship and the open suppression of legitimately-held political opinions. In that regard they are akin to the type of charges brought by RUC against political activists and others under the old Special Powers Act between 1922 and 1972.

“Other items which the PSNI are using to justify these charges include uniforms belonging to a band of which Stephen was a member quite a number of years ago and an item belonging to his son.”

Mac Cionnaith continued, “It is a fact that the PSNI have subjected Stephen to intense harassment as a result of his exposés of their activities along with those of the secretive MI5 in Newry. One well-known human rights organisation has previously documented this PSNI campaign against Stephen.

“We believe that the PSNI have chosen to bring these charges against Stephen as a test-case, which if successful, will open the flood-gates for similar charges to be pressed against hundreds of people right across the Six Counties. The wider implications of these charges are immense.

“Stephen has stated that he will strenuously oppose these charges. His legal representatives are ready to vigorously challenge these charges, even should that mean taking this case to Europe, if necessary, as the charges are clearly premised on breaching the European Convention on Human Rights.

“As a party, we will take every step we can to assist Stephen, including raising his case with trade unions, human rights and civil liberties organisations, political parties both in Ireland and internationally.”

Mac Cionnaith ended on a note of defiance: “The PSNI, supported by the British government and the puppet administration at Stormont, may think that they have cleverly chosen the battle-ground.

“I can assure them that it is one from which this party and our members will not cede one inch of ground.

“We refuse to intimidated; we refuse to be criminalised; we refuse to be censored and we refuse to be silenced.”

 

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