Wednesday, December 11, 2013


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.”

Since his arrest several Irish republican and other groups have campaigned for his freedom, including Eirigi, Republican Network for Unity, Irish Republican Socialist Party, Republican Sinn Fein, 32 County Sovereignty Movement, as well as local Councillors and other individuals.

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.

Stephen Murney case: dismissal of some charges demonstrates paucity of prosecution case

Stephen MurneyIn a dramatic follow-up to the ‘no bill’ application made by Stephen Murney’s legal team on Tuesday 26th November, the judge hearing the case summoned the defence and prosecution teams to a brief sitting yesterday evening (Friday 29th November).
Although he had previously stated that judgment was being reserved until December 10th, the judge announced that he was dismissing those charges relating to “items for use in terrorism”. These charges related to old band uniforms of Stephen’s and to toy guns belonging to his son – facts that had been consistently presented by the defence ever since Stephen was first charged exactly one year ago.
The charges featured heavily in every court hearing during the past twelve months as PSNI witnesses and the prosecution, constantly and without fail, portrayed these “terror” charges and the items they related to as some sort of evidence to show Stephen’s involvement in a “terrorist conspiracy”.
Far from accepting that the items were, in fact, band uniforms and toys, the prosecution continuously referred to “paramilitary uniforms” and “Uzi machine guns” that could be used in “paramilitary shows of strength”.
Tuesday’s lengthy legal submissions to the court by the defence – along with the ability to demonstrate the true nature of the items which included photographs of Stephen wearing the uniform in a band and evidence relating to the toy guns – clearly demonstrated the spuriousnature of the charges against Stephen.
While these charges are now dismissed, Stephen still remains in custody and will face trial in January in relation to “collecting and possessing items that may be of use to terrorists”.
Those charges relate directly to photographs of PSNI harassment of citizens, raids and houses searches. The photographs had been taken quite openly by Stephen to document and record human rights abuses and infringements of civil liberties by the PSNI in his role as publicity officer for éirígí in the Newry area.
Speaking last night after the dismissal of the charges, éirígí’s Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “It has taken a full year for Stephen’s case to reach this pre-trial stage. With this dismissal of some charges, it is clear that the entire PSNI/prosecution case is entirely without any foundation whatsoever.
“From the outset, we have said that these charges were nothing more than a spurious means to remove a committed and dedicated party activist from his family and his community. In short, Stephen’s imprisonment has been tantamount to ‘internment by remand’.
“Tomorrow, we will be protesting in Newry to highlight Stephen’s ongoing and unjust detention in Maghaberry where he has now been held for one full year.
“His continued imprisonment makes a complete nonsense of the propaganda spewed out by constitutional nationalist politicians who say that this Six County state has been reformed; that the PSNI is completely different to the RUC, and that political policing is a thing of the past.
“Those politicians know the truth but they also know by publicly acknowledging that truth, they admit to their own failure.”
This article is taken from the éirígí site.

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