Following the arrest and detention this morning (Wednesday) of a member of the socialist republican party, éirígí, while putting up anti-G8 posters on Belfast’s Falls Road, the PSNI also seized similar posters from other members of the party in the Glen Road area of the city.
Pádraig Ó Meiscill was arrested beside the International Wall on the Falls Road in West Belfast this morning (Wednesday) and taken to Grosvenor Road barracks by the PSNI as he and another party member, John McCusker, were erecting posters opposing the G8 summit.
It is believed that Ó Meiscill is the first member of any opposition political party to be arrested during the current ‘security’ clampdown in the run-up to the G8 conference in Fermanagh.
éirígí’s general secretary, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, condemned the arrest and said, “Both Pádraig and John were putting up posters calling for opposition to the G8. Such activity falls well within the scope of what the vast majority of people would consider to be legitimate and peaceful political activity.
“However, both members were accused by the PSNI of ‘causing criminal damage’ by erecting the posters. When both men challenged the PSNI personnel on the ludicrous reason for stopping and questioning them, the PSNI then stated that Pádraig, who is well-known as a Gaeilgeoir and Irish language activist, was being arrested and taken to Grosvenor Road barracks ‘to have his identity checked’.
“This arrest was later followed by other incidents which included the harassment of other party members in the Glen Road area of Andersonstown and the seizure of anti-G8 posters under ‘anti-terror’ legislation by the PSNI.
“All of our party members who were subject to this PSNI operation today were engaged in legitimate political activity. They were breaking no laws and they were not engaged in any form of disruptive or other activity. Despite these facts, they were clearly targeted in a coordinated manner by several heavily armed PSNI units.
“It is clear that the PSNI is acting under strict political orders to suppress any form of political opposition against the forthcoming G8 summit in Fermanagh and today’s incidents are a clear indication of the true nature of the intense security operation currently being deployed across the Six Counties.
“In recent days, the PSNI and others have sought to create an oppressive atmosphere of fear and intimidation ahead of the G8 conference in an attempt to stifle legitimate political protest. The entire buildup, with high profile policing operations, British military deployments, temporary prisons, round-the-clock special courts and airborne drones, is clearly designed to prevent any form of political dissent against the reactionary capitalist and imperialist policies of the G8 countries.
“Our members are being harassed, arrested and party literature seized as they attempt to cut through that climate of intimidation by engaging in legitimate political activity aimed at sending a message to the general public that people are entitled to protest against the aims of the G8.
“That is clearly a message which the PSNI are under strict orders to prevent being heard.
“Despite this harassment, our members intend to continue going about the same type of political activities which the PSNI now deem to be illegitimate.”
Mac Cionnaith added, “The PSNI’s targeting of our members should send a clear warning out to other political parties of the left, to trade unionists and to community sector groups organising against the G8 summit. It is warning that what has previously been accepted as normal political activity is now under threat in the Six Counties.
“Although they may deny it through their slick PR machines, the PSNI and the powers-that-be in the Six Counties are intent on preventing citizens from exercising their rights to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and freedom of political expression in order to stifle opposition to the G8 summit.”
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