Saturday, 29 January 2011
éirígí Ard-Fheis Visitors Harassed
The men had taken the ferry from Belfast to Stranraer in the aftermath of the annual conference on the Falls Road but, on their arrival in the Scottish port, they were accosted by several police officers.
They were questioned about their reasons for being in Belfast and had their belongings searched before one of them, Ian Lynch, was detained for further questioning.
Mr Lynch had all his personal possessions, including his wedding ring, confiscated before being placed in a holding cell. He was then questioned for one hour and 40 minutes about éirígí, party literature he had in his bags, who he had met and where he had stayed during his time in Belfast.
After they had finished their highly political line of questioning to no avail, the Scottish police released Lynch without charge.
Mac Cionnaith said: “It is par for the course that éirígí-organised events receive the unwelcome attentions of both the British and Twenty-Six County state police forces. However, this does not make the harassment of activists returning from open political events any more acceptable.
“Given the presence of several PSNI vehicles, including two cars containing Special Branch officers, outside our Ard-Fheis venue throughout last Sunday, it is obvious that the PSNI had contacted their Scottish counterparts in relation to the presence of several Ard-Fheis visitors from Scotland.
“Given the line of questioning to which these men were subject to, it was obvious that the Stranraer police knew the men were returning from a legitimate political and public event organised by éirígí.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “The powers that be should be aware that no amount of harassment will deter éirígí and its supporters from building further links between progressive organisations in Ireland and Scotland, England and Wales.
“Actions by both the PSNI and Scottish police merely underline the unchanged nature of British political policing and the hostility with which those forces have for Irish republicans and members of the progressive left in Scotland.”