Playing fast and loose with the law PSNI drive republicans out of Belfast

The BBC and UTV place the number of people attending éirígí’s banned protest against ‘Armed Forces Day’ in Belfast between 50 and 100. From the footage that seems about right. What seems strange is the police claiming they prevented the protest as it became an ‘illegal parade’ in Castle St when protestors stepped on the road – a technically correct interpretation of the law on parades and protests. However, what the PSNI failed to mention is roadworks on Castle Street at the point they intervened mean footpaths on both sides of the road are closed and pedestrians are directed to walk on the road. Seems the PSNI have played outside the spirit of legislation to get a result and made éirígí’s points on the nature of the north for them.

Update: éirígí’s own version and direct link to the UTV report.

  • pete whitcroft

    What do Eirigi want to achieve and how?
    This is not sarcasm.
    What do you perceive the plan to be?

  • Mark McGregor

    Pete,

    I’m not a member of éirígí but to me they have pretty clear objectives – admit republicanism has been almost defeated, is at one on its lowest ebbs and start trying to rebuild. The plan seems to be making something out of nothing – a hard task.

  • guest

    Mark,
    Republicanism ahs been defeated?
    26-6.if ye want to keep score

  • Ulick

    “admit republicanism has been almost defeated, is at one on its lowest ebbs and start trying to rebuild.”

    Really? Would that be lower than the 30’s when pretty much every republican of note was interned in the Free State, or the 40’s when they were being interned and hanged on both sides of the border, or the 50’s when 10 years of planning was wiped out through lack of support in the north, or the 60’s when republicanism was practically non-existent? Republicans are now getting electoral support unseen since partition and you reckon its at one of its lowest ebbs? Very good – how far are you going back – the Battle of Clontarf?

    A bit of bias creeping in there Mark by any chance?

  • Ulick ?

    You stated that “Republicans are now getting electoral support unseen since partition and you reckon its at one of its lowest ebbs?”.

    Ulick, did you ever stop to think that De Valera and FF promoted the exact same message to the “Old IRA” and its support networks? Does the post-Civil War period, or the 30’s and 40’s when Fianna Fail took prominence not come to mind?

    My grandfather personally knew Connolly and Mac Diarmada; participated in the northrern mobilisation for 1916 and fought in the Tan war; knew the barren post-partition years; As my mother remembered, he had hard-backed copies of Lenin’s writings (probably 1st editions in those days)in their mud-built country cottage home with its clay floor when she was a child; My parents knew the failed and barren years of Irish Republicanism in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Knew full well of all those decades when it was not easy to be a Republican until the explosion of the North at the end of 60’s-early 70’s; Parents who told their sons from early on, to remember the lessons of history and how the leaders would sell the ordinary 5/8 short. But as so often happens, children seldom listen to their parents. They think they know better.

    At least those in éirigí have a starting point that others failed and others still fail to recognise – they have recognised defeat when they have seen it and want to re-build again.

    And if you think I’m bluffing about my own antecedents, I’m sure that Mick can trace my ISP and identify who I am in order to arrange a 1 to 1 meeting with you, if you so wish – that’s if you think I’m a bluffer.

  • Dave

    “Republicanism ahs been defeated?
    26-6.if ye want to keep score”

    Good one. The Shinners are, of course, unionists, along with all the other NI citizens who supported the GFA and thereby supported the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland when they signed the GFA. They like to refer to éirígí as a dissident republicans with the implication that the Shinners are the mainstream. That’s a bit rich since it conflates provisionalism with republicanism. Mainstream Irish republicanism is comprised of the citizens of Ireland, so even if allow the Shinners to steal that label (and redefine it as support for British rule), they themselves were always the dissidents of Irish republicanism.

  • ranger1640

    How ironic that McKenna wants to walk down a road where he is not allowed? If you follow McKenna’s thinking through to its logical conclusion,Orange Order will be walking the Garvaghy road this year.

  • dublinsfsupporter

    eirigi call themselves a political party but have not received 1 vote and have no strategy. They chose not to stand anyone against Sinn Féin at the last Euro Elections. I wonder why?

  • Arrests in Armed Forces Day in Glasgow.

    The protestors, believed to have be an Irish republican group, are understood to have started singing and chanting sectarian slogans while a service was taking place in George Square. Supporters of the event, some wrapped in Union Jacks, were also involved in noisy confrontations. Police were then forced to close off nearby George Street.Sunday Herald

    Some of our more vociferous citizens would have felt at home in Glasgow 🙂

  • Secret Squirrel

    ‘ I’m sure that Mick can trace my ISP and identify who I am ‘

    He can get your IP number but unless he’s instigating criminal proceedings against you and has a court order, your ISP shouldn’t/won’t divulge your identity. :o)

  • Reader

    Ulick ?: I’m sure that Mick can trace my ISP and identify who I am…
    What Secret Squirrel said; but IP addresses are great for detecting sock puppets; and it’s probably straightforward to identify the user’s ISP from their IP address

  • Old-timer

    “eirigi call themselves a political party but have not received 1 vote and have no strategy. They chose not to stand anyone against Sinn Féin at the last Euro Elections. I wonder why?
    Posted by dublinsfsupporter on Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:01 AM”

    Probably because of the fact that they only took a decision to contest future elections at the their ard fheis which was held just a few weeks before the recent election. Then again, I remember when the SDLP in the north and all of the parties in the south used to throw out the same line against Sinn Fein, but maybe you are suffering from selective memory loss.

  • cynic

  • Comrade Stalin

    Blimey, it’s Ulick O’Connor. Coincidentally, I’m just reading your Michael Collins book (again), Ulick. (as others have said, your IP address cannot be used to obtain personal details without the co-operation of the ISP).

    eirigi are very much a fringe movement and I don’t think their ideological message is likely to be successful. They don’t have the leadership or the pragmatism to succeed in the political arena; they want to take us to the same place Jim Allister does. However, I don’t think it was right for the PSNI to stop the protest, and I wonder if that decision would stand up at a court hearing.

  • Ulick

    Ulick ?

    I don’t see what your antecedents lend to the debate or refute my point. I could throw in a few of my own if I wished, such as the internment order from I have in front of me signed by Dawson Bates in 1942 ordering the imprisonment of my uncle. If I had a mind to I could dig of the letter from the Military Pensions Board of Assessors acknowledging my grandfathers letter refusing their money in the 30s or the internment order for my father and my mothers arrest warrant from the late 50s. I could also supply minutes of ‘republican meetings’ in Dublin, Belfast and London spanning the 60s, so don’t try to lecture be about the barren years of the 40s, 50s and 60s my friend, I know all about it, but that still has no relevance to my point that you quoted. It is an undisputed fact that republicanism has more support now than at any other time since partition.

    Regarding éirigí, I am broadly sympathetic to them, indeed a very good friend of mine recently beat a trumped up PSNI charge in relation to an éirigí protest outside Stormont and I’ve attended most of their protests in the north this past few years. However, their (and others) constant harping about the defeat of republicanism shows and ignorance of history and a certain detachment from northern affairs on a par with the old republican leadership of 1969.

  • Captain Black

    How to drive people into the arms of dissidents…..

    The PSNI way…

    compare this to Orange parades and loyalist demos…

    the bigots of the RUC haven`t gone away you know!

  • Rory Carr

    The sensible thing to have done about this Armed Forces Day would have been to simply ignore it, which is what the rest of the UK largely did, most people being totally unaware of its passing. This little venture really is New Labour’s MoD’s team equivalent of John Major’s cones. Not only will it wither on the vine it is, I believe an annual plant.

    “An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in one year.”.

    This is the trouble with little ultra-leftist groups, they are so taken with the purity of their analysis no matter how much it flies in face of experience or reality that they can never question the effect their actions might have – in this case drawing attention to an event when public apathy had already practically ensured its death.

    No doubt next year when the government is quietly trying to avoid embarrassment from any mention of an Armed Forces day, éirigí will start crowing that it was discontinued because of the massive support they had in calling for it to be stopped. And what’s more – some of éirigí’s followers will actually believe that this is true! (at least those who haven’t lost heart and joined the Moonies or the Scientologists).

    Mind you this little venture is nothing on last year when they really outdid themselves by proving their non-sectarian credentials with a most blatantly sectarian picket of Queen Elizabeth’s symbolic distribution of alms at an Anglican Maunday Thursday religious service in Armagh. Since HM attended the service in her role only as Head of the Anglican Church this picket was not only misplaced but downright disgraceful and might have sullied the name of Irish Republicanism.

    Fortunately, despite their ridiculous, grandiose claims, éirigí, much as they wish to, do not represent Irish Republicanism. That role, for good or ill, in the present epoch lies firmly in the more capable hands of Sinn Féin.

  • cut the bull

    The best form of protest would have been people going into the town in pairs wearing Tshirts in opposition to the armed forces day.

    What would the PSNI do demand that these people take thier tops off.

    Large crowds are easy to control, however individuals appearing throughout the town with a suitable message of protest on their Tshirts would even leave the PSNI scratching their heads and there would have been no agument what so ever in relation to parading.

  • Comrade Stalin

    cut the bull,

    Trouble is that there aren’t large numbers of people who are sympathetic to the eirigi point of view. I’m not crazy about the British military or their record here, but it’s unrealistic to expect them not to be treated on the same basis that they are elsewhere in the UK.

    Furthermore, the implication that a future 32-county state of the kind that eirigi presumably want would actively suppress this kind of celebration isn’t going to build the kind of shared, agreed Ireland that most people who are nationalists would presumably like to see.

  • Observer

    You think there should be a British Armed Forces Day in a 32 county Irish Republic???

  • Dixie

    17.The sensible thing to have done about this Armed Forces Day would have been to simply ignore it, which is what the rest of the UK largely did…
    Rory Carr

    The rest of the UK…This statement alone shows just how far PSF has gone from Republicanism to Adams-ism. Get into bed with anyone in the South as long as it gets us into government and become so cosy in government up here you begin to talk like the Unionists.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy Collins

    I think Eirigi had a super showing. After looking at the heavy heavy equipement of psni and all the psni dressed in riot gear from shields, covered faces to batons standing just inches from members of Eirigi reading their statement…the fact anyone was able to attend is a miracle. By the heavy handed and abundance of psni response to Eirigi’s planned protest of the british flag… it shows me that the psni and british gov’t is very insecure and fearful of the message of Eirigi.

  • Mark McGregor

    CS,

    Your postion is one I find easy to respect, along with many others presenting a ‘shared future’ vision and tolerant space for constitutional nationalism within British political life.

    However, when a legal political protest is dispersed by riot cops for daring to step on the road on the way to a static protest, ignoring the fact roadworks gave no option but to set foot on the ‘Queen’s’ highway, – I think we have a demonstration of the nature of control and stifling dissent endemic in the north’s political establishment via their paramilitary tools and the further destruction of the myth of ‘shared future’ by baton weilding, masked and jackbooted pretend cops.

    Shame on them and those that legitimise them is my view.

  • Guest

    “However, when a legal political protest is dispersed by riot cops for daring to step on the road on the way to a static protest, ignoring the fact roadworks gave no option but to set foot on the ‘Queen’s’ highway, – I think we have a demonstration of the nature of control and stifling dissent endemic in the north’s political establishment via their paramilitary tools and the further destruction of the myth of ‘shared future’ by baton weilding, masked and jackbooted pretend cops”
    And it will continue to happen Mark.It is the essence of British rule.Them squaddies are on vacances ffs!!

  • pith

    50 bigots doing step eriobics in Castle Street. It’s hardly Rosa Parks on the bus.

  • Mark McGregor

    Rory Carr,

    You have a delightful gift with language and it’s always a pleasure to read.

    Deploying it to attack republicans forced off their own streets while engaging in legimate, peaceful protest and ignoring the actions of RUC thugs is maybe a step into submission under the ‘process’ beneath you?

    Almost seems like you support the PSNI preventing people making their way to a protest. I’m assuming despite the flowery language, you really aren’t saying that. It is an assumption though given you don’t at any point challenge the RUC/PSNI breaking up dissent.

  • notaword

    and another thing: what was all this moaning a few weeks back about the crippling of the psni, its reduction to a mere service, etc….all wheeled out by sectarian apologists to rationalize their pathetic non-response to saving the life of kevin mcdaid. it would seem to me based on yesterday’s overkill that the psni have plenty of heavy duty equipment and lots of overtime pay to use whenever they think fit.

    the police intervention shows just how stupid it is to speak about this place as if its ‘anywhere else in the uk.’ underneath the ‘changing city’ bullshit, all the invest ni happy talk, its still a sectarian state top to bottom.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mark,

    surely there must be at least a trace of embarassment at crying “we’re oppressed, we’re oppressed” at such a minor issue. Parades are rightly highly regulated in Norn Iron an although I agree with some of the protesters sentiment trying to make this into a cause célèbre really show the paucity of your arguement and the weakness of the overall crpto-dissident position.

  • Reader

    Mark McGregor: preventing people making their way to a protest.
    and : while engaging in legimate, peaceful protest
    and ‘Guest’ referred to it as a ‘static’ protest
    So what was it? What was the nature of the protest that was permitted, and what was the nature of the protest that was attempted?

  • Cynic

    “forced off their own streets”

    Like the Orangemen on Garvaghy Road perhaps?

    But the problem is Mark they are everybodys streets, not the preserve of one group or one community. Did you miss Drumcree 1.1?

  • oldruss

    Perhaps this wasn’t so much about what eireigi is or is not, or what Armed Forces Day is or is not; but rather a commentary, and a sad one, on the mindset of those who run the PSNI, fka RUC. Why was such a massive display of force needed to attend to a relative small group of apparently unarmend, peaceful, demonstrators.

    Notaword summed it up well in the above post on Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:28 PM. The six counties, for all of the equality legislation, and police reform, and all the progress that’s been beginning with the Good Friday Agreement, there is still a long, long way to go.

    The PSNI, fka RUC, can protect Belfast city center from a peaceful protest, but couldn’t or wouldn’t protect those tragic families in south Belfast last week, nor protect Kevin McDaid, either. AS one Roma, who fled with his family from Belfast last week asked, “is it safe to go back?” The answer, it would seem, has to be, “No.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mark,

    There’s no democracy on earth where the police do not take flawed decisions, and the right way to sort this out is the courts. This is a route that has been used successfully in the past by republicans.

    There are all sorts of problems associated with the idea that you need permission from the Parades Commission to walk on a road where no footpath is available. The court would need to account for this.

  • Big Maggie

    oldruss,

    “The PSNI, fka RUC, can protect Belfast city center from a peaceful protest, but couldn’t or wouldn’t protect those tragic families in south Belfast last week”

    The question arises in my mind: Who’s next?

    Now that the Village people have demonstrated they can act with impunity, whom will they set their sights on now? Foreigners or indigenous “enemies”?

    Perhaps more funding is required.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Leaving aside for a moment the strategy of eirigi, it really is astonishing that the PSNI can mount an operation like that against a protest march and fail to act during a pogrom in Belfast and a lynching in Coleraine. The priorities are very telling indeed.

  • GavBelfast

    The spectacle of experts from across the pond cheer-leading for a murky organisation that, in its analysis, has given succour to those who murdered two soldiers and a policeman, and tried to murder civillians, barely three months ago, is as accidentally entertaining as it depressing.

  • oldruss

    GavBelfast:

    From across the pond, as it were, I wasn’t “cheer-leading” for anyone. I WAS being critical of the PSNI, fka RUC. The world-wide headlines from last week describing the violence directed against the Roma families in south Belfast did little to engender anything positive about Belfast in the minds of us readers ‘from across the pond’. Juxtaposed as those stories were with the robust defense this week of Belfast city center by the PSNI, fka RUC, made for a most stark contrast.

  • notaword

    gav:

    loadarubbish. what’s ‘murky’? what ‘succor’? don’t be stupid, or at least try to hide it…

  • Bisto

    “a technically correct interpretation of the law on parades”

    Imagine if such a technicality were breached by Orangemen in Portadown. What would Brendan McKenna be saying about that?

    Classic republican “one rule for us, a different one for others” approach.

  • Big Maggie

    Bisto,

    “What would Brendan McKenna be saying about that?”

    I think you’ll find that the name of the gentleman in question is Breandán Mac Cionnaith.

  • Reader

    Big Maggie: I think you’ll find that the name of the gentleman in question is Breandán Mac Cionnaith.
    I would certainly use the name preferred by Breandán, as a matter of my personal style. But I also wouldn’t quibble if someone else would rather use the name that is almost certainly on Breandán’s birth certificate.

  • Reader

    Big Maggie: Now that the Village people have demonstrated they can act with impunity
    What – with several criminal records between them over the years?
    More topically – aren’t a couple of them facing new charges. You have a strange definition of ‘impunity’!

  • Brian MacAodh

    Cynic

    thanks for that clip. i had a good laugh

  • Big Maggie

    Reader,

    “I would certainly use the name preferred by Breandán, as a matter of my personal style. But I also wouldn’t quibble if someone else would rather use the name that is almost certainly on Breandán’s birth certificate.”

    Fine. So you won’t mind when people speak about Barbara-Ann Deeks, William Perks, Paul Hewson, Christopher Davidson, Demetria Gene Guynes and Declan McManus, will you? After all those were the names on the birth certs.

    Or one could simply acknowledge that the reluctance to use Irish names is a Unionist trait. It’s a little disrespectful. And just when I’d understood there was going to be “outreach” on the Unionist side.

    “You have a strange definition of ‘impunity’! ”

    Have I? The Roma are gone; what will the “punishment” be for those being held by the PSNI?

    I see now that your Unionist fellow-travellers are doing what I feared they would: turning their xenophobia on others. Anna Lo has been threatened with an arson attack by Unionist racists, and it looks as if there’s a poster campaign warning foreigners out in the Donegall Road area.

    Well, it is the marching season after all: the season of goodwill towards all men. I wonder where those Unionist xenophobes and sectarians take their cues.

  • Reader

    Big Maggie: Fine. So you won’t mind when people speak about Barbara-Ann Deeks, William Perks, Paul Hewson, Christopher Davidson, Demetria Gene Guynes and Declan McManus, will you? After all those were the names on the birth certs.
    I have no idea why I should care. What do their mummies and daddies call them? I have already told you what I would do myself. And have you seen the recent Bank advert where ‘Ringo’ says – “Don’t call me by my stage name”?
    Big Maggie: what will the “punishment” be for those being held by the PSNI?
    I imagine the punishment will be as wishy-washy as punishments usually are, these days. I suppose you want some sort of political multiplier to be applied, or do you just follow the Daily Mail ‘string em up’ philosophy? Instead, let’s just hope they don’t claim ‘political status’.
    Big Maggie: Anna Lo has been threatened with an arson attack by Unionist racists…
    If you know who made the call, you ought to tell the PSNI. According to the BBC the call was anonymous (i.e. – a phone threat, not intelligence info). And, since Anna has refused to be intimidated, the only person who thinks their campaign has benefited from the threat is – you.

  • Big Maggie

    Reader,

    “I have no idea why I should care.”

    But you cared enough to respond to my point about Breandán. I’m referring to Unionists’ discourtesy in his case and others, such as Bairbre de Brún. I don’t believe Barbara Brown is the name on her birth cert. It’s a matter of respect for the other’s language.

    Anna Lo: No, I don’t know who made the call but would be surprised if it emanated from the Nationalist community, given the unfortunate history of racist attacks/threats against her and others.

  • Come on folks, get serious here. Surely everyone must have had a wry smile when poor ole Breandan was stopped walking along a wee stretch of road. All part of a learning curve for marchers and march protesters alike me thinks.

  • Big Maggie

    Militant Mike,

    “Surely everyone must have had a wry smile when poor ole Breandan was stopped walking along a wee stretch of road.”

    The difference is that Castle Street isn’t a stretch of road but a commercial street. It’s what I’d call “common ground” i.e. not contended or by any one tribe. The OO and their circus on the other hand are not welcome to march on Garvaghy Road, an overwhelmingly Nationalist residential area.

    You’d think they’d have got it by now. But perhaps they have no wish to get it.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Big Maggie: “The difference is that Castle Street isn’t a stretch of road but a commercial street. It’s what I’d call “common ground” i.e. not contended or by any one tribe. The OO and their circus on the other hand are not welcome to march on Garvaghy Road, an overwhelmingly Nationalist residential area.”

    Remind me again where the right not to be offended was written down, Mags.

    In a western democracy, which NI pretends to emulate, there is no right not to be offended and, barring Garvaghy Road being a private street, all public streets are common ground.

    Sounds more like a case of “civil rights for me, but not for thee.”

  • Big Maggie

    Dread Cthulhu,

    Please don’t be disingenuous. The two cases have nothing in common, as you well know.

    The residents of Garvaghy Road have every right to live in peace without triumphalist and provocative marches, whose organizers well know are not welcome. The residents of Castle Street (if any) haven’t had to endure such provocation.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Big Maggie: “The residents of Garvaghy Road have every right to live in peace without triumphalist and provocative marches, whose organizers well know are not welcome.”

    Stuff and nonsense — there is no right to go through life without being offended. Unless Garvaghy Road went co-op, it is a public thoroughfare. As such, any group willing to go through the bureaucratic hooplah to march down it has a right to march down it.

    Big Maggie: “The residents of Castle Street (if any) haven’t had to endure such provocation. ”

    IOW, not all animals are equal — how Orwellian.

  • Big Maggie

    Dread Cthulhu,

    You insist on being disingenuous. Good luck to you. I’ve nothing more to add on the issue. It would be pointless, given your position.

    But speaking of the OO, I note with relief that membership of the loyalist orders has plummeted owing to an increasing secularization. Long may the trend continue until finally everybody can have a peaceful summer in Northern Ireland!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Big Maggie: “You insist on being disingenuous.”

    No, I simply insist on not being as completely wall-eyed in my biases as you are. If it is permissible to someone’s peaceful right to the public road, then it is permissible to deny *anyone’s* peaceful right to the public road. I freely admit that I prefer to err in favor of civil rights, but that doesn’t make my arguments disingenuous.

    You have stated, in essence, that the one group of partisans (eirigi) should have free and unfettered access to the public road and that other group of partisans (the OO) shouldn’t. You sole fig-leaf of a rationale is that the folks on Garvaghy road have been “offended enough,” whilst the folks on Castle Street not so much. If it is permissible to deny the OO the public street, it is permissible to deny eirigi the same right. If it is not permissible to deny eirigi the public street, then the OO should be allowed to march.

    The problem with your argument is that your arguments have no basis in either logic or law.

    As for the OO, I suspect it has as much to do with the general decline in fraternal orders — locally, Elk and Mason lodges here have been imploding — the next generation have other interests and greater access to entertainments.

  • Big Maggie

    Dread Cthulhu,

    This has become a tiresome debate—as it becomes each and every year.

    Tiresome because the OO wish to annoy their neighbours in the manner they always have. But they can’t get their way now as they could in the past. Good. May their membership wither and die off.

    They either wish for a peaceful summer or they wish to continue marching where they’re not welcome. They can’t have both.

    And that’s all I have to say on the matter. Over and out.

  • Paul

    Dread

    on whos civil rights do you wish to err upon?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Paul: “on whos civil rights do you wish to err upon? ”

    I’m a grand believer in freedom, Paul. This has to be paired, obviously, with responsibility.

    The mark of a civilized democracy is that it is safe to hold unpopular beliefs, as the OO and eirigi would appear to do. However, there are those who are playing favorites, wanting “their” side the right to the road whilst denying it to the other. Me, I believe that they both have the right to the road… but, if we’re going to ban one, we should ban all.

    Given them the right to march, make sure that they understand the responsibilities that accompany those rights (including proper prior planning and permitting, marshaling, etc.,) and hang them from the highest yardarm, bureaucratically speaking, if they demonstrate they cannot exercise those rights in a responsible fashion and maintain control over their event.

  • Reader

    Big Maggie: I’m referring to Unionists’ discourtesy in his case and others, such as Bairbre de Brún. I don’t believe Barbara Brown is the name on her birth cert.
    That wasn’t one of the scenarios I outlined in 2.15, and it wasn’t one of your examples from 2.14 or 2.18.
    What’s your next case – Ian Óg?

  • Big Maggie

    Reader,

    “That wasn’t one of the scenarios I outlined in 2.15, and it wasn’t one of your examples from 2.14 or 2.18.”

    No idea what you mean by this. I was alluding to Unionist discourtesy towards the Irish language coupled with a recurring reluctance to use the Irish form of certain peoples’ names.