“If what’s happening to republicans was happening to Muslims, there’d be outrage”

Turgon noted yesterday ‘unionist fury’ over new Chief Constable Baggott’s comments about border policing. Baggott’s comments about dissident republicans are also interesting, given the campaign of harassment the PSNI are currently engaged in against them. He claims that he has no problem with people who hold different political opinions from himself, and is only concerned with those who engage in acts of violence, yet under his helm his police force are aggressively targetting people because of their politics. This is done with the help of Sinn Fein (who want to “close down” the dissidents and are encouraging their supporters to inform on them), who are passing on intelligence coloured by political/personal animosity and self-protection, and greatly aided no doubt by the presence of Mi5 and all its apparatus now permanently embedded here. On the one hand, the security forces are proving successful in their ability to stop attacks, but on the other hand, upping the ante by harassing everyone whose politics fall outside the pale of Sinn Fein’s approval – especially at a time when Sinn Fein’s support in grassroots areas is on the wane because of the perception that the Good Friday Agreement means ‘Got Fuck All’ – is a failed strategy that will only feed into the problem the more it is overused. It may seem for now that no one cares if the likes of Marian Price, 55, is arrested and released, because of her past as the Old Bailey bomber, or if other ‘usual suspects’ are harassed, but that is a short-term sentiment that is growing into longer-term resentment the more it is abused. Now that the Provos have lost their ability to keep people in line through fear of the IRA, the PSNI is moving in to politically police for them. The pay-off may not be worth it as it fuels the fire of discontent. Cheap stunts rarely are in the long run. Suzanne Breen has the numbers:

“The number of people stopped and search­ed in the North under section 44 of the Terrorism Act has risen dramatically. In the three months to October, 10,265 people were detained compared to 1,657 for the same period last year.
Of the 10,265, only 39 were subsequently arrested.”

And fewer than 39 charged, even less brought to trial or convicted. Shaking down 10,265 people in a 3 month span for a handful of arrests and less convictions?

In addition to the political harassment of Marian Price, which was nothing more than a big show for the PSNI and the media who delighted in the ‘sensational’ arrest (huge coverage of the arrest, barely a word of the following day’s release), the cynical Casablanca strategy of the PSNI (“Round up the usual suspects”) has most recently resulted in the harassment of the late Martin Meehan’s son, Mairtin og Meehan, who was arrested this week helping a neighbour who’s home had been attacked with a blast bomb. He was CS-sprayed and refused medical aid at the scene, despite having a heart condition. When he was processed at the station a police doctor had him immediately sent to hospital.

Tony Catney, who Sinn Fein ridiculously fingered to the PSNI and media figures as the head of the Real IRA in Belfast, was arrested at Belfast International Airport and released a few hours later.

As Suzanne Breen has reported, Brendan Shannon has been repeatedly harassed by the PSNI, most recently at his daughter’s school which has led to complaints lodged by the Vice Chair of the West Belfast DPP. The harassment is getting so bad that the Andersonstown News is reporting on it, and Sinn Fein has to be seen to be doing something about it with their toothless tigers.

éirígí activists were also subject to police overkill recently when they staged a token protest at a British communications post on the Black Mountain: “…30 or so éirígí members and supporters were finishing their hike they were met by no less than seven armoured PSNI jeeps, two helicopters, 30 PSNI riot personnel and a number of unmarked cars”.

Last month also saw the stop and search of IRSP members that included 4 unmarked cars and the police pointing guns at people’s heads (as reported by the Irish News). The IRSP party were held for 50 minutes and released as nothing was found.

The Derry Journal reports of a man stopped over 20 times in the space of a month under Section 44 by the PSNI, whose brother, seeing him yet again stopped by police, stopped to help him and was himself arrested. This is typical practice as it has been reported that those who are witness to the political harassment meted out by the PSNI are also targetted and then subject to future harassment themselves. It’s part of how the net widens.

A list of dissidents is also being circulated amongst PSNI officers – which in the main contains people who are well into their 40s and 50s, people who would be ‘names’ more than any credible threat.

To many Slugger readers this may seem perfectly fine, such is the hatred for ‘dissident Republicans’ shared by Unionists and Shinners alike. However this sort of policing is false comfort, a chimera made to look as though the police are doing more than what they are, taking advantage of the sentiment held towards dissidents to puff the PSNI up. And the more that this goes on, the more people are politically harassed and the police are politically profiling, the worse it will make things. Combined with the balls-up farce that Stormont is, it’s a dangerous cocktail given the lessons of history that should have been learned from the Troubles. Casablanca policing benefits no one.

One of the outworkings of the peace process is that Sinn Fein will no longer have a hegemony over Republicanism. If democracy is to work and the peace process to succeed, the One Party State of West Belfast (and beyond) is going to come to an end and rightly so. Groups like Republican Network for Unity and éirígí are the initial steps of republicans who have lived in that One Party State all their lives seeking a political alternative. They are able to do this because of the peace process – it has given them the space to seek and create political alternatives to Sinn Fein that can be viable and have the potential to become credible political opposition. This is a good thing for democracy. The political harassment of those who do not support Sinn Fein under the guise of chasing militant dissidents is a grave mistake. The only logical outcome of it is to send more people, not less, into the arms of militant republicanism, as they will see no other choice than to rebel.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    It’s almost as if the Police were policing those most likely to commit crimes, you know, like terrorism.

  • random_quotes

    RN,

    I dont see anywhere in your post where you outline a viable solution to the issue?
    Do you propose letting the dissidents run wild and free, as trying to stop them will only make a few more idiots join up?

  • drunk as a rule

    I imagine if you do a little bit more research you’ll find that the individuals who were detained by the PSNI were detained in accordance with all relevant legislation both nationally & internationally or else such practice would not be permitted.

    The reason for this as I’m sure you are aware is to disrupt terrorism and as such it is intended to save lives due to the revolting intent of some to murder Police Officers

    10,265 may have been detained under the Terrorism Act as you quote from Breen but taken into account with a more significant statistic, which is giving the Police the opportunity to save even just ONE person’s life seems like an inconvenience that can be tolerated in my books.

  • Sean

    Rusty

    A ten fold increase in detentions wouldn’t have anything to do with a ten fold increase in dissident attacks would it?

  • jone

    State forces make life uncomfortable for people who are on the record as wanting to overthrow the state by force of arms.

    Who’d thunk it?

  • Carson’s Cat

    Is it not now time for a new ‘Godwin’s Law’ equivalent where the debate is lost once someone says “You wouldn’t say/do that do a Muslim”

  • Fabianus

    CC

    I hereby declare it to be “Moongodwin’s Law”.

    But to the issue. I’m afraid that we’re seeing in Northern Ireland an echo of what’s happening in the rest of the world, especially in the USA.

    The terrorists have ensured that we’ll all be subjected to scrutiny and invasion of privacy at airports etc. It’s the price we have to pay for being safe.

    If ex-terrorists here and their kinfolk are “harassed” in the process then I sympathise with the innocent but can’t forget in a hurry two murdered soldiers and a cop not so long ago. And we won’t even dwell on the rash of bombing attempts in recent weeks.

  • bigchiefally

    This is a strange post. The people being harassed arent being harassed because they want to get the Brits out of Ireland, it is because they are actively attempting to shoot and bomb them out.

    There is a big difference. That seems to be exactly the chief constables point, and it makes sense.

    I dont really feel there is a huge groundswell of opinion behind these dissidents, even SF seem to, occasionally at least, approve of measures to combat them. It is ridiculous that the police are terrified to go into large areas of the country.

  • joeCanuck

    Strange post indeed.
    And the premise may be wrong too. There are lots of Muslims who will tell you differently. And Black people in N.A.
    Advances are being made but there are lots of police folk everywhere who are little gods in their own minds. Still, we have to support those protecting us and hold the bad ones to account.

  • Neil

    Big Chief,

    It’s a major part of the problem, and arguably it’s a problem created and maintained by SF. I live in WB masell, so I feel I can comment. Support for the ‘dissident’ Republicans is growing in my area, why? Roll back a decade or so, and Sinn Fein are getting ready to call ceasfire and do away with the guns.

    At this point, you call a cop into your street you’re liable to find yourself with a SF/Chuck calling at your door and it might not be pretty. The police were SF, and they were obeyed as they would take action to the nth degree and you piss off the provos back in those days and life could swiftly become very difficult.

    So the IRA was dissolved, but what leadership was given on the ground to people regarding policing the community? Very fucking little. One day the hoods were terrified to be caught by the chucks, as this leads to a busted kneecap at best, the next the RA had gone, and the hoods could do as they pleased. As time goes on those hoods realise that they are now in charge of the henhouse. They can even attack shinners and get away with it.

    In the background to all this is the fact that a) the RUC didn’t really deal in this area before for fear of being shot and b) post ceasefire the Shinners gave no guidance, and actually took a mighty long time to invite the cops into the area, and actually voice unconditional support for the rule of law.

    So the vacuum was created by SF, they prevented the cops from dealing with certain areas (and I for one understand perfectly well why they did this). However it took SF too long to commit to the process completely, they having to keep a door open to retreat through in case the whole thing went tits up.

    So the hoods were left in charge, normal folk (like yours truly; believe me I know having suffered at the hands of anti social behaviour day and daily for years) have to suffer in silence. The PSNI have been called time out of number, and despite the threats, vandalism, theft and abuse witnessed by many, the PSNI have done NOTHING.

    The ‘dissident’ Reps will step into the vacuum, and by fuck people who’s lives are improved exponentially will support them, as hard as that may be to understand for someone who has no experience of ASB.

    Incidentally, the PSNI do not keep any details regarding ASB – the majority of people NI suffer ASB at some point, but the cops keep no records and have no targets for this as it’s deemed a minor offence. This is undoubtedly why the cops do fuck all about it.

    SF have walked themselves into this situation, they’ve nurtured it like a baby to get this situation, it just further underlines how little of a fucking clue they have.

  • Brian MacAodh

    What do you think America is? A police state? Don’t believe all the propaganda.

    It is rare that anyone is harassed without good reason. Look at the Ft Hood killer….he raised all kinds of red flags yet no one even questioned him (unfortunately)for fear of offending the muslim community. A few more attacks like that, though, things will change.

    As for NI, someone help me out…I realize there are dissident republicans out there who have left SF and don’t like the GFA. But what options or strategies have they proposed? Other than murder and bombings, have they come up with any viable alternatives to working within the GFA to peacefully reach a UI?

  • igor

    the campaign of harassment the PSNI are currently engaged in against them.

    ….proper order

    ” 30 or so éirígí members and supporters were finishing their hike they were met by no less than seven armoured PSNI jeeps, two helicopters, 30 PSNI riot personnel and a number of unmarked cars”

    How terrible. Did they need counselling? By the way how many helicopters does PSNI have? I thought it was only one?

  • igor

    ASB is ” deemed a minor offence” ….. no its not – it isn’t an offence at all. That’s the problem.

    If you want to change that tell SF to do a deal and get P&J devolved then they can legislate to their hearts content to lock up the wee buggers. All they have to give up is the Parades Commission, Catriona Ruane and a few bits and pieces. It will be a small sacrifice.

  • belfastpete

    I wouldnt be worrying too much about the dissidents or correctly speaking those who didnt change at all, they are completely infiltrated with informers.
    They may be able to plant bombs here and there but have any gone off?
    They are being arrested left right and centre, the security forces have a complete stranglehold on them.
    Yes they may be get support in areas were anti social behaviour is a problem but so would a group of men stopping this problem who called themselves the mickey marleys roundabout association, they dont get support based on their political ideology.
    The dissidents will fade away and then years down the line another group will start up again and then the same process all over again.

  • Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    If the numbers are correct with 10,225 people detained in just a three month period ending this October…wow….and the logic is that these people are dissidents…wow… Let’s see the definition of a dissident in northern ireland these days are Republicans who dissagree with the current leaderhip of sinn fein…aka Martin McGuiness and Gerry Adams (who the world is wondering does he or does he not have swine flu)So…this reports is letting it be known that her majesty’s government feel there are at least 10,225 people who don’t agree with Martin and Gerry. Is it that they don’t agree with gerry about finding a home in a united Ireland for the orange order parades, or is it that these people have the nerve to want to discuss other POLITICAL stragegies to obtain unification and don’t feel just because Martin has worked on it for years that he has a lock about how it should be done.
    On a different note—I posted on Gerry Adams latest blog about him using money for a side trip (howebeit a small trip) to see a member of Peter Paul and Mary using money collected by Americans such as me. The money asked for and given by donnors was for Gerry and Sinn Fein to work for a united Ireland. I asked a simple question–how did visiting an member of Peter Paul and Mary and singing If I had a hammer advance the unification of Ireland. As a donnor I had a right to question how he and Friends of Sinn Fein spends the money.
    I think like it says in the Bible…to paraphrase if someone is not reliable with a little amount of money…how can they be reliable with alot of money. My comments have not been posted.
    I bring this up because…there are many people and by the numbers of this report…thousands of people who just have questions for the leadership of sinn fein…what that makes them…are just normal everyday people who think like Socretes…there is no stupid question…and a free people have a right to ask questions.

  • Fitzy

    Not to speak for Rusty, but the point I took from the post was that this type of non-strategic harassment of dissidents will do absolutely nothing but add numbers (or ‘sympathizers’) to their ranks and fuel to their fire. Does anyone really think that arresting Price and then immediately releasing her will scare her or anyone else away from their cause? Did the PSNI really think she was directly involved in any recent attacks, or that they’d get anything from her… or was it purely to piss her/them off?
    Remember that during the troubles, the vast majority of nationalists did not ‘support’ the armed struggle, but they also weren’t lined up at the cop shop to give evidence either. The real problems with these methods is that it will increase this population in this middle ground, who won’t be picking up a gun but also won’t be giving evidence about their neighbors picking up guns either.
    … and I’m not advocating the thought of just letting the super chucks do/kill as they please. I’m all for arresting and convicting them, but I personally believe that there is little strategy behind the current activities, just in the moment tactics that could make the situation worse.

  • They came for the Communists, and I

    didn’t object – For I wasn’t

    a Communist;

    They came for the Socialists, and I

    didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Socialist;

    They came for the labor leaders, and I

    didn’t object – For I wasn’t a labor leader;

    They came for the Jews, and I didn’t

    object – For I wasn’t a Jew;

    Then they came for me –

    And there was no one left to object.

    Martin Niemoller, German Protestant Pastor,

    1892-1984

  • “Look at the Ft Hood killer….he raised all kinds of red flags yet no one even questioned him (unfortunately)for fear of offending the muslim community.”

    Brian, lets not over egg the pudding, I doubt it had little to do with offending Muslims why the cops never went near Malik, more likely the reason why he was not flagged up was because he was a serving US army officer and the local cops thought he had been vetted by the army A1. In any case I doubt they would have tugged him without the OK from his CO.

    I do not wish to be rude but there is little evidence the US authorities loose much sleep about upsetting muslims. Whether at home or abroad, indeed from over here during the last decade they seem to have been doing little else.

  • Frank Stagg

    Rusty Nail, the failed state of NI is a fascist state. As it is claimes to be part of the UK, you have to expect the paid Nazis of the RUC/PSNI/UFF to do these things.

    Orange Nazis posting here like to mock by exaggerating (eg MOPE) those they hate. We have to expect this from the Nazis and the Crown Catholics.

  • sleepingpostie

    The fact that three men are awaiting trial in a case where MI5 are seeking permission to have 35 unidentified agents give ‘evidence’ from behind a screen is also telling as far as ‘community’ policing goes and S.F’s claim that everything has changed. How in the name of anything can a ‘state’ which seeks to use such tactics raise any claim to be democratic?

  • joeCanuck

    Well, sleepingpostie, what I gathered from the press reports was that over 150 hours of conversations between the alleged accused were recorded and they need that number of witnesses to establish the chain of custody. It’s not unusual for any State to try to keep the identity of its agents under wraps. But there needs to be some limit on that; people have usually been given the right to face their accusers.

  • Reader

    Kathy C: So…this reports is letting it be known that her majesty’s government feel there are at least 10,225 people who don’t agree with Martin and Gerry.
    Nope – that will be multiple counting – elsewhere in the article it was reported that one person was stopped 20 times in a month. The police have maybe identified 500 – 1000 people who are worth noticing.

  • Reader

    Mickhall: “Then they came for me –
    And there was no one left to object.”
    Martin Niemoller, German Protestant Pastor,

    So wake me up when they get as far as the Communists. But while they are still trying to close down terrorist groups they are just doing their job.
    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/slippery-slope.html

  • reader

    Such confidence in those you have absolutely no control over, of course Niemollers point is we can all in some peoples eyes be accused of being terrorists.

    I have to say using that quote was pretty callous and dam stupid, for example one month Dutch jews were upright respected law abiding citizens, the next month they were on a train to Auschwitz accused of amongst other things being in league with terrorists.

    I can understand you being careless with other peoples freedoms, but to be so dismissive and dam careless with your own makes you well, you tell me.

    Was the miscarriages of justice outrages that sent innocent Irish people to jail so long ago you can dismiss them from your thoughts completely and cheer the state on as long as they use the word terrorists.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Brian,

    It is rare that anyone is harassed (in America) without good reason.

    Bollox. Do a Youtube search for “taser”.

    There was a story in the news a few months ago where a cop arrested a woman, leaving her kids in her car at the side of the road, while he took her down to the police station. She was subsequently released. Her crime ? Asking him why he pulled her over.

    American police are totally out of hand. The PSNI are pussycats in comparison.

    And the ultimate in harassment is the extradition on terrorist charges of a guy who had the temerity to illegally log into computers which had not been properly secured.

    Please, stop this bullshit that the USA is a nice, peaceful place where law and order is properly upheld. I like the place, but there are some things they don’t do so well, and police accountability is one of them.

  • 6countyprod

    Do you consider this to be harassment as well, RN?

  • Dave

    “State forces make life uncomfortable for people who are on the record as wanting to overthrow the state by force of arms.

    Who’d thunk it?” – jone

    By force of ideas, dupe. éirígí are not a militant movement. They and others like them are being harrassed by the British state because they are not – unlike the Shinners and brainwashed muppets such as yourself – loyal to it.

  • NCM

    RN’s point, I believe, is that it is shortsighted for the security services not to differentiate between republicans engaged in non-violent political activism from those who are engaged in armed struggle. From a strictly self-interested standpoint of the security services, the former should be encouraged because it decreases the “pull” of the latter. On the other hand, if non-violent political activism is quashed, this plays directly into the hands of those who say that only armed force will work, since they are proven half-right in the sense that political activism is largely precluded (thus channelling dissent into less desireable avenues).

    What it comes down to is, political dissent, political activism, carrying flags and signs and chanting, etc. is healthy, especially when the alternative is so grim. If you’re a free democracy, then stop rounding up people engaged in strictly political activity. That’s the sort of thing the Soviets did and it’s hardly something to emulate.

  • NCM

    BTW, re: the discussion about the US Army psychiatrist that went on a rampage at Ft. Hood, something that no one’s considering in these posts is that the Army is terribly desperate for psychiatrists, to the point that they’re willing to overlook a raging lunatic so long as he shows up to work and treats patients.

  • Dave

    NCM, that’s his point alright but it isn’t the case that the police (who are directed in this activity by those who have overall responsibility for it – MI5) are policing militant threats to the British state: they are policing intellectual threats to that state.

    The ‘good’ republicans are those who now fully endorse the legitimacy of British sovereignty and who have formally renounced their former right to national self-determination, agreeing with the British state that they have no right to a nation-state in the here-and-now or in the hereafter, whereas the ‘bad’ republicans are those who do not agree with the British state on those points.

    That is the ‘bad’ republicanism that is being policed here. It is the ideals of a nation-state and a right to self-determination that is actually the cornerstone of international law. Indeed, the British state holds those ideals and lives by them for its own nation. So there is nothing wrong with the ideas that the British state seeks to police as far as that state is concerned: it’s just that they don’t regard the Irish nation in that region as having the same right as the British nation since it involves a claim to what that state claims is its territory.

  • NCM

    Good analysis Dave, but also depressing.

  • Nollaig a chara

    Rusty u failed to mention the continued harrassment of republicians who are still involved with or supportive of Sinn Fein or the peace process eg: Slab Murphy, Sean Hughes but to name the obvious, also where as i’m not doubting the number you gave regarding the number of ppl stoped and searches (10,265)
    It goes without saying that not all of those ppl were ‘dissidents’ not all were republician (of whatever shade) not all were catholic….etc to say that that number is a reflection of herrassment on dissidents is wrong…. also if the dissidents worried about touts within there own respective organisation rather than focusing there attention on what they speculate Sinn Fein is doing it might suit them better

  • Jimmy Sands

    “And fewer than 39 charged, even less brought to trial or convicted. Shaking down 10,265 people in a 3 month span for a handful of arrests and less convictions?”

    How many convictions would you like?

    “The harassment is getting so bad that the Andersonstown News is reporting on it,”

    Good heavens that’s almost unheard of.

    “éirígí activists were also subject to police overkill recently ”

    Perhaps you could have phrased that better.

  • Reader

    Mickhall: I can understand you being careless with other peoples freedoms, but to be so dismissive and dam careless with your own makes you well, you tell me.
    Was the miscarriages of justice outrages that sent innocent Irish people to jail so long ago you can dismiss them from your thoughts completely and cheer the state on as long as they use the word terrorists.

    Niemoller specified an order – first the Communists. So did I. Stopping and searching potential gunmen and bombers isn’t even getting close to lifting ideologues and minorities. We’re not on the slippery slope yet.
    Secondly, I don’t think the PSNI have any motive to lift mere moaners and bigmouths. Dissident republican politics isn’t the least bit bothersome. It’s dissident republican bombs and guns that are of interest. And that’s the cynical position on targeting dissidents!
    And at the end where you hinting at the “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” notion? That doesn’t apply in this case – the GFA was an international agreement backed up be referenda in NI and in the RoI. Electoral challenges from dissident republicanism have been so embarrassing that it’s scarcely possible to find a patsy willing to humiliate himself by trying any more. So where’s the mandate, who are the RIRA and CIRA fighting for? They are violent zealots, freaks, dinosaurs – in short; terrorists.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Comrade Stalin

    I have lived in the states for a total of 10 years…and have actually had one terrible experience with the police here. I didn’t mean to say that the police here don’t harass people without good reason…….a startling number of cops are real assholes on a power trip. I agree with you there.

    What I meant was in the context of counterterrorism (which is what I assume most of these dissidents are being stopped and harrassed about)…Law Enforcement officials do not just stop muslims or go into mosques and start interrogating people at the slightest provocation. They better have a real good case before they take someone in for questioning or treat them how dissidents in NI are apparently treated.

    How out of control is the ASB in West Belfast? If the PSNI aren’t stepping up, someone has to.

  • latcheeco

    Comrade,
    Would that wild lack of police accountability in the States be before or after the local sherriff is democratically elected by the public?

    Your assertions are, no doubt, based on your own in depth knowledge and not just generalizations garnered from clips you’ve seen on T.V. of isolated incidents which occur during the policing of over 300 million people.

  • Personally I believe its a good article but some of the ‘thinking republican’ replies are more of McGuinness’s mental masturbation, which are frankly quite obscene in these hard times.

    Some people will find it difficult to put ham on the table never mind turkey for xmas.

    http://bit.ly/13YFck

  • On a sponsored walk and protest at a British army Intelligence and Communications post on Black Mountain on the outskirts of West Belfast. The PSNI operation against the 30 or so party supporters who took part in the walk and peaceful protest involved two helicopters, seven armored jeeps, a number of unmarked cars and up to 30 PSNI riot personnel.
    rc helicopters

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Comrade Stalin: “And the ultimate in harassment is the extradition on terrorist charges of a guy who had the temerity to illegally log into computers which had not been properly secured.”

    Almost all of which had a log-in screen that plainly informed the user that unauthorized access was a Federal crime, Josef. Having been informed of the downside risk, the hacker opted to enter the system and muck about with the system. Bad choices lead to bad outcomes.