Northern Ireland is one of those places where sometimes you throw up your hands and scream as loud as you can, "What's Going On." Just last night a Protestant loyalist mob burned down the Alliance party office after a protest over the Union flag. In specific, the thugs were all in a tither because members of the Party had voted to restrict the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall to designated days.
Well, that is not what this post is about. Rather what we have here is the totally absurd charges of terrorism leveled against a member of the socialist republican group EirIgi. Eirigi has come under increasing pressures from the State of late. The latest example is the strange case of Stephen Murney. Well, it might be strange elsewhere but in Northern Ireland...not so much.
The Irish Times has reported that during a hearing on Saturday a police detractive testified that Stephen Murney, a public relations officer with the group, was seen,
... by police taking photographs of police officers on a mobile phone during a protest in support of dissident republican prisoners as the Olympic torch was passing through Newry in June.
The pictures were later placed on his Facebook page. Pretty damaging stuff, I should say. But wait, that isn't all.
The court heard that when police raided his home last week they found two pellet guns, two black berets, three military style jumpers and three pairs of combat trousers.
The detective also said that a laptop computer containing images of police officers was also seized during the raid.
However, a defence solicitor said the images dated back years and contained no pictures of serving PSNI officers.
Unfortunately, this crazed terrorist has an attorney (this isn't the USA) who pointed out things like the fact that the pictures from the protest were taken for building a case of harassment. He also told the court that the clothing seized were old band uniforms.
Whoa! This is getting hairy...
Eirigi general secretary Breandan MacCionnaith told local and national media:
These spurious charges that have been laid against Stephen Murney are charges which could be pressed against any political activist, any human rights activist, or any photojournalist in the six counties.
These charges are a blatant but crude attempt at political censorship and the open suppression of legitimately held political opinions.
We believe that the PSNI have chosen to bring these charges against Stephen as a test case, which if successful, will open the floodgates for similar charges to be pressed against hundreds of people right across the six counties.
The wider implications of these charges are immense.
Just have to mention that Mr. Murney, according to a local spokesperson for EiIrgi, "... has been particular active in highlighting and campaigning against PSNI harassment...
A black operation or black op is a covert operation by a government, a government agency, or a military organization. This can include activities by private companies or groups.
A black operation typically involves activities that are highly clandestine and often outside of standard military/intelligence protocol or even against the law.
Republican socialist group éirigí is being subjected to a concerted
smear campaign following the arrest of one of its members this week.
A member of the organisation in Dublin, Ursula Ní Shionnain, was
detained on Tuesday in what appeared to be a carefully planned Garda
operation in county Offaly, and charged with arms offences.
A further move to arrest party chairman Brian Leeson bore the hallmarks
of a 'black ops' campaign against the entire organisation.
Éirígí General Secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said Mr Leeson's arrest
and 72-hour detention was a "cynical exercise" designed to foster "black
propaganda and misinformation" within sections of the media.
“Brian’s release, without charge, confirms our view that his arrest had
a clear political motivation," he said.
He linked the events to the left-wing party's growing political support
and its recent decision to contest local elections in the 26 Counties.
Mr Leeson had played a central role in organising opposition to the
austerity policies being implemented by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition
in Leinster House, he said.
"We are of the view that this arrest and the accompanying coverage by
some media outlets is designed to undermine opposition to this
forthcoming budget and to attack our party.
“We also believe that it is more than just mere coincidence that Brian’s
arrest came just over a week after the party voted at our annual Ard
Fheis to contest local government elections in the 26 Counties.
“We fully believe that these things are most certainly not unconnected.”
He also said the party would not take steps to distance itself from Ms
“I have no doubt that some of the more sensationalist media outlets will
try to exploit Ursula's arrest to insinuate all sorts of conspiracy
theories and to engage in McCarthy-like 'reds under the beds' hysteria
against éirígí. That, of course, will be nothing new."
Media depictions of Irish republicans have become more heavily
propagandised in recent weeks, particularly in the tabloid newspapers. A
commemorative event in Dublin for prominent local republican and
anti-drugs campaigner Alan Ryan, murdered by drug dealers in September,
was described as a "terrorist party" in one newspaper.
A separate incident in Newry has reinforced a belief that Éirígí, in
particular, is facing an increased policy of suppression. An early
morning raid and arrest on the Newry home of prominent éirígí activist
Stephen Murney took place on the eve of Leeson's arrest.
It had demonstrated yet again the political nature of policing in the
North, said éirígí spokesperson John McCusker.
“Stephen is well-known as an éirígí party member in the Newry area who
is very active within his local community. For the past couple of years,
the PSNI have conducted a lengthy and intense campaign of harassment
“Independent human rights organisations are currently investigating this
campaign of harassment against Stephen and other people in the Newry
area. Indeed, they have documented evidence detailing this open
political victimisation. It has included constant stop and search
procedures, harassment, assaults, house searches and threats from the
PSNI officers – all carried out under the guise of so-called
The PSNI seized items from Mr Murney's home which included éirígí party
literature and personal items belonging to him and other members of his
family. He was then arrested and taken to Antrim Holding Centre.
McCusker added, “Many of Stephen’s neighbours gathered beside his home
this morning in a show of solidarity and to demonstrate their abhorrence
of the PSNI’s actions. I would commend those people for showing such
communal solidarity with Stephen and his family.
“Serious questions must be asked about the overt and aggressive
political policing which is becoming a daily occurrence," he concluded.
The Republican Network for Unity said the arrests were an example of
"joined up political policing" between the Gardai and the PSNI which had
been carried out to demonise Éirígí and its political work.
Source: Irish Republican News