The case against Irish activist Stephen Murney is unraveling but Murney remains in prison.
Most of you probably never heard of Stephen Murney.
Murney is a 29 year old who lives in the city of Newry, which is locagted just inside the borders of British occupied Ireland. He was going about his business preparing to celebrate his birthday when a unit of heavily armed British police charged into his home and arrested him. They took him to a high security interrogation center and charged him with a number of rediculous charges related to, what else, terrorism.
Stephen is a member of the socialist republiclan political party Eirigi. He had been in the heart of a struggle against an ongoing campaign of harassment by the PSNI against Republicans in the Newry area. Stephen has frequently documented, photographed and recorded incidents of harsh PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) stop and searches of people, house raids and other rough treatment in the Newry area. Stephen regularly highlighted these issues in local newspapers and on the internet.. He, himself, has been the subject of nearly daily harrasement, threats and assaults.
As reported by Censor Offender:
In late November 2012, Stephen Murney wrote a letter to a local newspaper expressing his strong condemnation of several early morning raids by the PSNI on homes in the Derrybeg Estate, Newry. He stated that these incursions were causing deep distress to the targeted families and maintained the raids were excessive, unnecessary and avoidable.On November 28th, some 24 hours after Stephen’s letter was published, in scenes similar to those he had described and criticised, police smashed in his front door and stormed into his home in a dawn raid. Police officers searched his house, seized a computer, political literature and a flute band uniform and arrested Stephen.The PSNI then three days later charged Stephen Murney with three ‘offenses’. The first charge is, collecting information which maybe of use to terrorists. The second charge is, distributing information which maybe of use to terrorists. The third charge is, possessing items which could be used for terrorist purposes.The first charge concerns Stephen openly taking photographs of people, including PSNI officers at a protest rally in Newry in June 2012. The PSNI didn’t question, or arrest Stephen, or confiscate or examine his camera/phone or ask for certain images to be deleted at that time. The police did ask him to stop taking photographs and he promptly agreed and did so. The second charge relates to Stephen later posting the same photographs on Facebook, as well as having other political images on this computer. The third charge is in regards to the items of clothing (flute band uniform), two airguns and political literature seized from his home.At a hearing on December 21, Stephen’s lawyer said the photographs had been openly taken, that Stephen had stopped when instructed and that the posting of some photographs was also for a perfectly legitimate purpose. Some of these photos were taken by Stephen at political protests, commemorations and other events. But most of the photos were downloaded from the internet, many were old, dating back to the Civil Rights Movement in north of Ireland in the late 1960s. The lawyer added that the items that could allegedly be used for ‘terrorist’ purposes consisted of flute band uniforms, possessing two ball-bearing airguns (belonging to his son and are legal and widely available throughout Ireland), legal political leaflets and images freely available to the public on the internet. Many supportive references from community organisations in Newry in support of Stephen Murney were also presented to the court.
On that charge of having articles likely to be of use to terrorists, we find Stephen was in possession of two BB guns (ball-bearing airguns), berets, trousers and jumpers which were all part of the uniform of a drum and flute band that Stephen was previously a member of.
As the Green Left reported Pat McNamee, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and a friend of Murney stated at a recent protest:
“Stephen Murney is charged with having a band uniform that he wore whilst a member of a local republican flute band. In ‘newspeak’, that is having a paramilitary uniform and being equipped for terrorism.”
“Stephen Murney is charged with having photographs of protests he had taken part in, which inevitably included images of members of the PSNI, who were also present at these demonstrations. In ‘newspeak’, that is having information useful to terrorists.
“Stephen Murney is charged with having his son’s toy guns in his home. In ‘newspeak’, that is having an imitation firearm.
“In 'real speak', however, Murney has been held in jail for more than six months solely because he is an effective republican and community activist.”
Again, from Green Left:
Murney is in jail, not because he has done or planned to do anything unlawful, but due to his political views and role as an active, outspoken and effective Republican and community activist.
In a normal, civil society, there would have to be substantial evidence against Murney to warrant the serious charges he now faces. But Ireland's north is not a normal, ordinary place. So, rather than these charges being recognised as ridiculous, in the six Irish counties still claimed by Britain, they are depicted by the PSNI as a very grave matter. If Murney is convicted, he faces a lengthy prison sentence.
The British authorities have used a policy of selective internment against Murney in an bid to silence him and other opposition. A political activist is now in effect interned without trial on the basis of the most ridiculous “evidence”.
Murney is innocent and his jailing utterly unjust. The flimsy charges against him should be dropped and Murney should be immediately and unconditionally released.
Murney said: “Internment was wrong and unjust in previous years and it remains as equally wrong and unjust today. I would encourage all those that disagree with its continued use to organise and publicly oppose internment in its current form.”
It is centuries overdue...the British must get the hell out of every bit of Ireland.
Stephen Murney must be set free.
The following is from The Irish Revolution.