The text of the motion read as follows: “This council notes, with grave concern, the ongoing harassment of republican activists in the Newry area by the PSNI. Members of the socialist republican party éirígí, along with other republicans, are being harassed on an almost daily basis while going about their everyday business and while engaging in legitimate political activities. This harassment includes regular stop & searches which in the past have been condemned by the European courts of human rights. It is imperative that Newry and Mourne District Council condemn this unnecessary harassment and call for this type of political policing to stop.”
éirígí's Stephen Murney, and a number of other activists were in the council chamber for the motion.
Stephen said, “This was a motion regarding ongoing human rights abuses being carried out by the PSNI. It’s disappointing that the council failed to pass this motion. Constitutional nationalist councillors proposed that it should be amended. However, the proposed amendment would have simply watered down the motion by giving misplaced credence to obviously failed and cosmetic accountability mechanisms.
“The three so-called accountability mechanisms, namely the Police Ombudsman's Office, the Policing Board and the district policing partnership have all proven themselves to be inherently flawed and ineffective.
“A cursory examination of those bodies demonstrates their ineptitude:
- The Ombudsman's Office continues to be embroiled in internal turmoil due to its complete mis-handling of scores of cases involving collusion between members of state forces and unionist death squads.
- The Policing Board completely failed to notice the re-employment of the hundreds of former RUC personnel, including many ex-Special Branch officers, through a process which virtually amounted to a revolving back-door.
- The District Policing Partnerships across the Six Counties are having little or no impact, and attendances by the public at DPP meetings in many areas can often be counted in single figures.
“éirígí's view is that these bodies have been proven to possess no powers capable of altering the ethos and impact of British policing in occupied Ireland. The fact that even members of the Policing Board have admitted that they have no powers to hold the PSNI to account further vindicates our analysis.
“There is no ‘new policing dispensation’ as some claim. How can there be a ‘new dispensation’ when most PSNI members served when the force was called the RUC? On top of that they continue to use repressive legislation and tactics the RUC used, so there's nothing ‘new’ about it.
“When nationalist parties joined these Policing Boards they claimed they were doing so to end human rights abuses and to hold the PSNI to account. It’s perfectly clear that their project has failed utterly.
“If anything we would challenge those who participate in these bodies to honestly and publicly admit to their own failed policies, and to stop providing cover for those engaging in outright political policing methods that even the RUC would be envious of.
“One constitutional nationalist councillor even suggested that the victims of harassment should meet with the chief superintendent of the paramilitary force. Such a suggestion needs to be treated with the ridicule it deserves.”
Stephen concluded, “We are grateful to Davy Hyland for submitting the motion on our behalf and he was perfectly right not to accept an entirely different watered down version. It’s unfortunate that éirígí had to ask Davy to highlight this ongoing issue in the first place to try to force other councillors to break their silence. If it wasn’t for Davy Hyland this issue would never have been highlighted in the chamber.
“éirígí will continue to highlight and resist political policing in all its forms.”