Eirigi-Derrybeg-300x225The following press statement was released by the Irish socialist-republican current éirígí. The SDLP is the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the north of Ireland equivalent to the NZ Labour Party; its base is among the middle class nationalist population in the north of Ireland.  The PSNI is the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the revamped version of the old protestant-dominated, sectarian police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

As senior Sinn Féin figures publicly condemn the arrest and detention of Gerry Adams as ‘political policing’, éirígí’s Breandán Mac Cionnaith has said it is time for Sinn Fein and the SDLP to recognise the fact that British policing in Ireland is inherently political. He has also called on Sinn Fein to immediately clarify its current view of the PSNI.

The éirígí General Secretary said, “First and foremost the PSNI, as Britain’s police force in Ireland, has no moral right to arrest or detain any Irish political activist. That applies to all political activists and not just Gerry Adams. éirígí has consistently held the position that the PSNI is a British police force, enforcing British law in support of the British occupation of the Six Counties – all of which is inherently political.

In contrast both Sinn Fein and the SDLP have repeatedly claimed that the era of political policing and British injustice effectively ended with the rebranding and restructuring of the RUC. They have repeatedly encouraged people to provide information on republican activists to the PSNI and encouraged our young people to join the ranks of that same organisation.

Both parties have also made extensive efforts to integrate the PSNI into nationalist and republican communities, repeatedly facilitating PSNI incursions into community centres, schools and other facilities.”

Calling for clarification from Sinn Fein Mac Cionnaith continued, “In recent days Sinn Fein spokespeople have made reference to ‘a very influential. . . dark side’, ‘embittered rump’ and a ‘cabal’ working within the PSNI. They have further highlighted a number of instances of clear political policing and political interference. Why have Sinn Fein waited until now to reveal this aspect of the PSNI? At what point did Sinn Fein change its view of the PSNI and why did they wait until this week to articulate it?

The view of the PSNI articulated by Sinn Fein leaders in recent days stands in marked contrast to their previous words and actions. Sinn Fein now needs to rapidly clarify exactly what their view of the PSNI actually is. Is the PSNI a reformed, acceptable policing force or is it a force that is controlled by a ‘very influential dark side’? It can’t be both.

It is simply not good enough to suggest that a ‘small cabal’ within the PSNI is responsible for political policing. That excuse is far too close to the ‘few bad apples’ line that was trotted out by the apologists for the RUC in the 1980s and 1990s.

Outlining éirígí’s view of the PSNI Mac Cionnaith, “éirígí’s analysis of the PSNI has remained consistent since our foundation in 2006. The primary function of the PSNI, like all police forces in capitalist societies, is maintenance of the state and the socio-economic status quo. It is the height of political naivety to believe that cosmetic changes like the creation of Policing Boards or Policing Partnerships or adjusting the religious make-up of the PSNI would affect the inherent nature of British policing in Ireland.

The PSNI, MI5 and the British Army are three interlinked arms of the British state, working hand in glove with each other to undermine the struggle for Irish freedom and justice. The impotence and powerlessness of constitutional nationalism to effect real change, or achieve proper accountability, through the Policing Board or Policing Partnerships must be seen against this reality.

On a regular and all too frequent basis the PSNI has clearly shown its true nature as the RUC’s successor. It is worth highlighting just some of the PSNI’s political policing methods regularly used in the Six Counties. It should be noted that Sinn Fein and the SDLP have chosen not to publicly describe any of the following activities by the PSNI as ‘political policing’:

• The PSNI continues to prevent effective investigations into the deaths of Irish citizens at the hands of British-controlled death squads.
• The PSNI continues to obstruct and unnecessarily delay inquests into many of those same deaths as a matter of routine.
• The PSNI continues to withhold information, documentation and intelligence files from the families of those who died as a result of British state terrorism.
• The PSNI has re-employed huge numbers of ex-RUC Special Branch personnel, many of whom are implicated in the murders of Irish citizens and other serious human rights abuses.
• Large numbers of PSNI personnel routinely operate under MI5 control. A report by the Committee on the Administration of Justice in 2012 suggests the actual figure could be as high as 2,500 personnel – one third of the PSNI’s total manpower. This clearly indicates the formal establishment of an unaccountable ‘a force within a force’, rather than the existence of a small ‘cabal’ of rogue cops.
• The PSNI regularly calls upon Britain’s shadowy military force, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, to conduct undercover operations on its behalf.
• The PSNI ignored rulings of the European Court of Human Rights by continuing to conduct thousands of unlawful ‘stop and searches’, almost exclusively against republicans. Evidence shows that MI5 directs the usage of stop and search powers by the PSNI.
• The PSNI has engaged in evidence tampering in a number of cases against republicans.
• The PSNI has fired large number of plastic bullets at unarmed civilians and stockpiled many thousands of those lethal projectiles.
• The PSNI has approved use of child informers.
• The British state has introduced 28 day detention for those under arrest.
• The PSNI and the British courts routinely use ‘internment by remand’ to imprison political opponents for periods of up three years.
• The PSNI and the British courts impose a draconian form of internal exile upon political opponents within the Six Counties. Such measures have not been used in the Six Counties since the abolition of the old Special Powers Act.
• The PSNI and the British courts have flouted European court rulings by retaining DNA samples and fingerprints of thousands of innocent people, including children.

Furthermore, the PSNI has:
• Facilitated illegal unionist demonstrations and co-operated with unionist paramilitaries in a manner that echoes the behaviour of the RUC.
• Suppressed legitimate peaceful political protests by nationalists, republicans and other progressives.
• Introduced and used Taser stun guns.
• Introduced and used CS gas spray.
• Updated its vast arsenal of weapons including automatic assault rifles and heavily armoured vehicles. It also operates an aircraft force larger than that of any police force in the British state.
• Expanded the already extensive network of ‘big brother’ style cameras and other surveillance equipment.

In conclusion Mac Cionnaith said, “It is a simple fact that all efforts to ‘reform’ British policing and justice in Ireland have failed. The two constitutional nationalist parties in the Stormont Coalition need to now publicly acknowledge the abject failure of their policing projects and withdraw their support from the PSNI and the British courts.

“They need to remove all of their party members and supporters from the Six County Policing Board and from the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships. By retaining their positions on such bodies, Sinn Fein and the SDLP are condoning, supporting and legitimising the continuation of political policing and political justice in occupied Ireland.

“Selective criticism by some politicians of some elements of political policing by the PSNI is simply not good enough.”

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