More than 70 people gathered at Grosvenor Road Barracks in Belfast on Saturday [June 18] to demonstrate their opposition to the ongoing harassment of republicans.
The protest, organised by éirígí, was called in the aftermath of an upsurge of intimidatory behaviour by the PSNI and British intelligence agencies.
Among the crowd were many éirígí activists, republican ex-prisoners, family members of serving political prisoners, community workers and others.
In recent weeks, both the PSNI and MI5 have upped their harassment of republican activists and ex-prisoners, in the process often tormenting young families and placing huge strain on many individuals.
Towards the end of the demo, the protestors gathered at the entrance to the barracks where they were addressed by éirígí’s representative for the Upper Falls area Pádraic Mac Coitir.
As Mac Coitir began speaking, a number of PSNI landrovers attempted to drive through the crowd of protestors at high speed. However, the protesters refused to be cowed and the PSNI were forced to wait until the proceedings had ended before entering the base.
Mac Coitir encouraged anyone who has been on the receiving end of harassment to immediately contact their solicitor and inform other members of their community so assistance could be forthcoming.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith commended those who attended the protest.
“At a time when anybody who is seen to be out of step with the establishment point of view is deemed suspect, or worse, being outright ciminalised, it is encouraging to see that so many Belfast republicans took the time to attend Saturday’s demonstration."
“It is important to show the British state and its agencies that we will not be intimidated nor will we allow republicans to be isolated and marginalised.”
Mac Cionnaith added: “The most depressing aspect of the current campaign of harassment is that the nefarious activities of MI5 and the PSNI are completely legal, according to British law, under the Justice & Security Act of 2007. At the time, éirígí were the only party to point out that the Act was about normalising repression in the Six Counties and giving it a permanent legal footing – there is now abundant evidence to support this position.
“éirígí will continue to campaign against political policing and the activities of the British intelligence agencies. It is time all those who claim to uphold the human rights of nationalists began to do likewise.”