Members and supporters of Fírinne gathered outside the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen where a District Policing Partnership meeting was taking place to highlight the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the use of stop & search under the British government’s Section 44 and the Justice & Security Act is unlawful.
The PSNI displayed their usual disregard for the right to peaceful assembly by videoing the demonstrators and noting down the car registration numbers of local people.
Bernice Swift, the project manager of Fírinne and an independent republican councillor in Fermanagh, attended the protest.
“The Strasbourg court ruled it was unlawful for police to use the powers, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, to stop and search people without needing any grounds for suspicion, further adding that the way they were authorised, were ‘neither sufficiently circumscribed, nor subject to adequate legal safeguards against abuse’,” Swift said.
“Unanimous agreement by European judges said the power to search a person's clothing and belongings in public included elements of humiliation and embarrassment which was a clear interference with the right to privacy. One example in Fermanagh, where one young man was stopped and searched three times in two hours was wholly unacceptable, and has now been ruled as illegal.”
Swift continued: “The Human Rights court has shown that section 44 is an invasion of people's right to liberty and privacy. Therefore, Fírinne demands that the British government and the PSNI cease using it to harass and detain people. Anyone who is stopped under this repressive legislation should contact their solicitor as the PSNI are in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith commended the protestors.
“It is encouraging that Fírinne in Fermanagh have recognised the significance of this ruling when so many political parties and organisations have remained silent on its ramifications.
“The British government and the PSNI are clearly acting in contravention of the civil and human rights of Irish citizens – this fact must be exposed.
“éirígí is encouraging all organisations and individuals to put pressure on the British government to cease, with immediate effect, the use of stop & search powers in the Six Counties.”