I have previously noted how the PSNI seem determined to hand propaganda coups to éirígí and essentially make their points for them at every turn. We have also noted the misuse of Section 44 legislation against republicans – legislation of dubious legality. From the heavy handed response to eirigi members making their way to Belfast City Hall for a protest to PSNI harassment of members on Black Mountain.
When I commented on the launch of éirígí’s anti-PSNI campaign I didnt expect the police to repeat the same mistakes immediately. Yet when éirígí activists hung banners around Belfast yesterday the PSNI response was to detain them under Section 44 legislation.
Four éirígí activists were detained in the Beechmount area by the political police using the now notorious Section 44 and Justice & Security Act legislation. The car that three of the men were travelling in was boxed in by two armoured jeeps before the vehicle and its occupants were searched by the paramilitary police. Initially, the PSNI claimed they were detaining the men under road traffic legislation, yet, when the driver produced all the necessary documentation, Section 44 came into play .
The éirígí activists in question, including national vice-chairperson Rab Jackson, had just hung large anti-PSNI banners on the Falls and Springfield Roads prior to being stopped and searched. The text of the banners read RUC- PSNI: Different Name, Same Aim and British Police Out Of Ireland.
As the PSNI were leaving the scene, the officer in charge admitted that, far from investigating any terrorist incident, the activists were actually detained for hanging banners critical of the force.