In the past few days residents of a Newry housing estate have approached the socialist republican party éirígí with serious concerns about the inclusion of the PSNI in a community based fun day which took part in the Barcroft estate.
A number of PSNI vehicles and armed personnel complete with flak jackets, guns and batons were present in what can only be described as an attempt to normalise British state forces in the Newry area.
The residents said that they had received no prior notice that the PSNI would be taking part in the events.
éirígí's Newry representative Stephen Murney said “A number of residents from the Barcroft estate contacted our party regarding the PSNI's presence at this event. Those residents said that their families felt unable to participate in the event due to the PSNI presence. That presence, they said, effectively meant that the fun-day was not the inclusive or welcoming event it should have been for all residents of the estate.
"While the community group in question should be commended for organising a very successful community festival, it's unfortunate that they felt the need to invite members of the British state forces to take part."
“It should also be mentioned that a number of families in the Barcroft estate have in the past been subjected to early morning house raids by this same force, and young children have also had to go through the ordeal of watching their fathers being arrested and dragged to an interrogation centre, coupled with local residents having to endure hundreds of stop and searches at the hands of this force with their children present.
“In fact, a number of residents of the Barcroft area have had incidents of PSNI harassment and brutality logged and documented with the independent human rights organisation CAJ and their legal representatives.”
Stephen continued “What we have here is a situation where some local community associations seem to ignore the reality of the adverse impact that the PSNI is having within our communities, particularly in relation to young children.
"They ignore the harassment, house raids and arrests and pursue a strategy of providing fig-leaf cover for the force by including them in events such as this.
“On another more serious note, it’s quite alarming that these PSNI gunmen and women were carrying firearms in the vicinity of children. All right-thinking persons would agree that loaded weapons should not be permitted to be anywhere near young children.”
Murney concluded “Given the fact that other services such as the fire brigade were present would suggest that this was a meek attempt to portray the PSNI along the same lines as genuine emergency services. The PSNI is anything but a normal emergency service.
“We would urge local community groups to reconsider such attempts to normalise an abnormal police force. If they insist on inviting the PSNI to participate in such events then they should have the courtesy of giving residents prior notice to ensure that young children with previous traumatic experiences at the hands of the PSNI won’t have to endure further trauma.”
Below we list just some examples of the major issues relating to the PSNI which have been publicly criticised by victims' groups and by human rights organisations:
· 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.
· 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.
· Expanded the already extensive network of ‘big brother’ style cameras and other surveillance equipment.