PSNI attempt to denigrate memory of the Hunger Strikers during peaceful Falls Road vigil.
The IRSP in Belfast have accused the PSNI of attempting to denigrate the memory of the hunger strikers after a peaceful vigil on the Falls Road (held to mark the anniversary of the death of Michael Devine) was stalked by at least five PSNI vehicles, including a specially adapted camera mounted jeep which circled the vigil for its entire duration recording the identities of those present.
Upper Springfield IRSP spokesperson Aisling McLaughlan claimed that the harassment began minutes after those present had made their way onto the road to participate in the peaceful and now annual black flag vigil.
‘Activists had taken up their place on the Falls Road with black flags and images of the Hunger Strikers as we have done so for years now, we noticed at first one jeep which approached us at speed initially with sirens sounding, some activists were forced to move out of the way for their own safety as the jeeps driver appeared determined to park as close as possible to the vigil’.
Shortly after the arrival of the first jeep, a second with a specialised mounted camera appeared, which for the entire duration of the event drove slowly along the length of the vigil stopping only to capture the faces of those present. Throughout the event several unmarked cars with armed PSNI officers present also drove slowly past the vigil, sounding sirens intermittently and halting traffic as they stopped to point out individual ex-prisoners and members of the IRSP.
The IRSP spokesperson believes that the PSNI are now attempting to marginalise and intimidate any political activist or action which has not been sanctioned by one of the mainstream Stormont parties here.
“Over the last number of years these people have been engaged in a particularly open and overt campaign of intimidation against the republican and republican socialist community in west Belfast and beyond.
“They have threatened and intimidated legitimate activists, including ex-prisoners, community workers and others and have even attempted to intimidate local artists who commissioned a mural against political policing”.
“Their only conflict seems to be with the principled Republican community and today’s action in denigrating the memory of the hunger strikers is another new low.”
Following today’s attempted denigration of a Hunger Strike vigil, the Belfast Comhairle Ceantair of the IRSP met and agreed that party activists would be encouraged – in the strongest possible terms – to persist in their legitimate activity despite obvious PSNI provocation and the damning silence from previously hysterical mainstream politicians.
Messages of solidarity with our comrades in Palestine were also relayed including a particular message of support for PFLP Hunger Striker Bilal Kayed.