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16 March 2006 Edition

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Political policing: new campaign launched

Adams slams "demonisation" of Tom Murphy

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has slammed sections of the Irish media in the wake of another black propaganda exercise aimed at respected republican Tom Murphy. Newspapers and television reports last week linked Murphy to the high profile PSNI and Garda operation along the Louth/Armagh border.

Tom Murphy was the target of a similar black propaganda exercise last year when police raided premises in Manchester and selected media outlets were drip-fed stories that the raids were linked to a huge "IRA property empire". These raids eventually came to nothing yet Tom Murphy's name was widely traduced in newspapers in Ireland.

Speaking to the media last Friday, Gerry Adams said that Tom Murphy was not a criminal but a " good republican" adding that "He is also, very importantly, a key supporter of the Sinn Féin peace strategy and has been for a very long time."

The high profile raiding in Louth and South Armagh last week was accompanied by PSNI briefing to the media that placed Tom Murphy at the centre of the story. But the picture of a house and yards, allegedly that of Tom Murphy, which was plastered all over the national dailies and broadcast on TV, was not Murphy's house.

Instead of challenging clearly contradictory statements by officers involved in the raid, many journalists appeared only too willing to play their part in disseminating PSNI propaganda.

The Sunday Times carried contradictory statements by a senior member of the Garda without comment. "The fry was half eaten, the tea was poured and the seat warm, but he was gone." Clearly placing Tom Murphy at the heart of its coverage, The Sunday Times admitted in the next breath that the raiding party, "had no great interest in going after him".

One moment we are asked to believe that Tom Murphy was caught by surprise leaving cups of steaming tea in his wake, and the next that he "had been tipped off well in advance". The notion of "being tipped off" is used to explain the appalling lack of evidence against Tom Murphy.

Incredibly, the non-existence of evidence was used by the paper as evidence of greater wrongdoing. According to the newspaper he must have been "able to remove the most incriminating material".

Media dissemination of misinformation, such as was witnessed in the case of Tom Murphy for the second time over the past number of months, is just one aspect of political policing which Sinn Féin intends to challenge in a new campaign launched this week.

Securocrats are still at war

BY LAURA FRIEL

 • Picket on Strand Road Barracks, Derry

"Political policing is a threat to everyone," was Gerry Adams's meassage at the launch of a new Sinn Féin campaign to end political policing in the North.

"The securocrats and the political detectives are still at war. Their aim is to prevent progressive change, to stop changes in policing, to thwart the restoration of the power sharing Executive, to curtail the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and to undermine the peace process," said Adams.

Accompanied by North Belfast MLA Cathy Stanton and Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd, Gerry Adams announced a continuous campaign of action including postering and leafleting, to highlight the issue, beginning with a day of action and protest this Wednesday 15 March.

"This campaign is about confronting and ending political policing. Sinn Féin is challenging political policing and demanding that the British government move to end it," said Adams.

"The end of political policing requires action by the British government. It is their responsibility. It requires powers on policing and justice to be transferred to a locally elected Assembly within a framework of equality and human rights," said Adams.

Commenting on the Special Branch "coup d'etat" which collapsed the power sharing Executive and Assembly, Adams described Stormontgate as a "direct attack on democracy".

John O'Dowd said there were political parties who still saw it as in their interest to ignore political policing. "In four years on the Policing Boards the SDLP in particular has failed to hold the political detectives publicly to account."


 • Picket on Crossmaglen Barracks, South Armagh

Political policing may well be primarily anti-republican but it is also fundamentally anti democratic, said O'Dowd. All political parties should challenge the manipulation of the political process by a self-appointed, non-elected reactionary element within policing and the British state.

"Hugh Orde admitted in 2003 that there are some in the PSNI who want him to fail. I believe that there are still British securocrats and political detectives who want the Agreement, power sharing and negotiations for a new beginning to policing to fail," said O'Dowd.

The evidence of political policing is undeniable. It includes the summary execution of political opponents, either through the mechanism of shoot-to-kill or collusion with unionist death squads.

It includes the political manipulation of the justice system through cover-up and frame-up. And in the context of the current peace process, it includes overt political interference with democratic institutions of government.

The campaign literature points out that political policing has been a destructive force in Ireland since British occupation. With the imposition of partition and the formation of the RUC, an armed militia to protect the interests of a one party unionist state, political policing became embedded in the Six Counties.

Images of armed RUC officers attacking unarmed civilians during the civil rights marches or lines of RUC officers facilitating unionist mobs burning out their Catholic neighbours in 1969 remain pertinent visual records of political policing in the north.

Contemporary images would include the failure of the RUC/PSNI to protect Catholic school children during unionist mob attacks at Holy Cross Primary and the now notorious Stormont raid.

In 2002 PSNI Special Branch collapsed the power-sharing Executive and Assembly undermining the democratic process and stalling the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Lines of armoured vehicles outside parliamentary buildings and riot clad officers running through the halls, were an affront to democracy and an assault against the will of the people. But a media, rendered compliant by years of political policing, used the footage to further facilitate the anti-democratic agenda of Special Branch and anti-Agreement unionism.

A new beginning to policing was always an integral part of the peace process. The Stormont raid placed the quest for a new police service, not only at the heart of the equality and human rights agenda, but also at the core of the political project. The manipulation of the political process by the securocrats and police must be a thing of the past.

Collusion is political policing at its most deadly. In the mid 1980's the British state reorganised and rearmed unionist paramilitaries to operate as death squads directed by MI5 through British army units like FRU and Special Branch.

Unionist gunmen operating in death squads are often paid state agents. It was recently revealed that Torrens Knight, a unionist paramilitary responsible for mass sectarian murder, is being paid £50,000 a year by Special Branch.

Political policing has also been at the heart of the continuing cover up about collusion, from crime scene cover up to Special Branch primacy thwarting prosecutions. Another example emerged this week of Special Branch destroying evidence to protect a UVF sectarian killer. This latest revelation came during an investigation by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Laon into the murders of two Protestant teenagers, Andrew Robb and David McIlwaine in 2000. An electoral register identifying Catholic targets was discovered by the PSNI during initial investigation of the double killing. The evidence was destroyed at the behest of Special Branch because the Mid Ulster UVF killer who it implicated was one of their agents.

"The political and military doctrine which governs policing in the Six counties comes from a mindset which is still at war with nationalists," says Sinn Féin. Political policing is now central to the securocrats' strategy of copper fasting British direct rule as a means of thwarting political progress. It must be challenged.

What is Political Policing?

Political Policing is subversive or repressive activities and the promotion of a partisan political and sectarian agenda. Today, Political Policing continues within the PSNI with:

* Politically-motivated phoney arrests, like that of Sinn Féin MLA Francie Brolly, well-known GAA member and cultural activist;

* High-profile and heavy-handed raids, like the one on County Antrim GAA's Casement Park;

* Psy-ops, leaks and misinformation with the assistance of elements within the media; and

* Partisan political control of policing and justice, under British securocrats who are not democratically accountable.

Reality of Political Policing in Ireland

Political policing has been a destructive influence in Ireland since British occupation.

With the partition of Ireland in 1921, the RUC was formed as a political, partisan, Protestant and unionist militia. 7 of the first 8 people killed during the latest phase of the conflict in 1969, were killed directly by the RUC.

In the following years, many people were killed across Ireland, at least 1500 of them by unionist paramilitaries organised, directed and armed by the RUC and British establishment. No RUC member has ever been brought to justice for these murders.

In 2001, the PSNI was formed. Members of RUC Special Branch transferred en bloc, into the PSNI. Many of them remain in the PSNI today.

In 2002, the PSNI Special Branch collapsed the power-sharing Executive in the six counties. At the centre of conspiracy was a Special Branch agent, Denis Donaldson.

Collusion

Evidence of collusion is now irrefutable. Unionist paramilitaries were formed in the 1970s in a 'counter-insurgency' strategy by the British establishment in Ireland. In the mid-1980s, the UDA, UVF and Ulster Resistance were rearmed and re-organised by British Intelligence. The killing of Pat Finucane in 1989 exposed the extent of collusion between the RUC and British establishment, with unionist paramilitary death squads. At least four British agents were in the gang which assassinated Pat Finucane and were paid and directed by RUC Special Branch and British Military Intelligence.

Agents Exposed

In recent years, several British agents have been exposed, including :

  • Brian Nelson:
  • Billy Stobie;
  • Ken Barrett;
  • Mark Haddock;
  • Torrens Knight; and
  • John White.

Dozens of people have been assassinated in RUC/British Army shoot-to-kill incidents. The killing of Neil McConville in 2003 by the PSNI was the most recent example of shoot-to-kill, in an undercover Operation codenamed Trill co-ordinated by the PSNI's Crime Operation Department (COD). Senior PSNI members are implicated in the McConville case but have not been held to account or brought to justice.

Cover-ups

Families seeking the truth about the killings of 10 people from County Tyrone, including grandmother Roseann Mallon have been obstructed at inquest hearings by the PSNI Chief Constable who has refused to hand over information.

Court cases have collapsed in order to prevent human rights lawyers learning the truth (eg: case of Carroll, Brogan and Doherty). Other cases have lead to wrongful convictions by no-jury Diplock courts using fabricated evidence.

Former RUC or serving PSNI members have removed or concealed information and evidence to thwart murder investigations. This includes killings of young Protestants like David McIlwaine and Raymond McCord.

Spying

Listening devices and bugs have been found in the homes of Sinn Fein members, Sinn Féin offices and in the car used by the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. Telephone calls between Sinn Féin's Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP and Tony Blair's Office and the British Secretary of State were tapped by the RUC and PSNI and leaked to elements within the media. Spy cameras and surveillance devices have been trained on Catholic Churches and GAA clubs, as well as family homes. The most recent example was in February 2006 when cameras were discovered to be trained on a local GAA club at Dromintee, South Armagh and the homes of a SF Cllr and local nationalists.

Secret files have been compiled and kept by the PSNI on thousands of nationalists. In autumn 2005, it emerged that files kept on dozens of nationalists in the Belfast area, including Sinn Féin leaders, had been kept in the PSNI's Castlereagh barracks. These files had already been passed onto unionist paramilitaries.

Sectarian policing

The policing of Orange marches through nationalist areas shows the role of PSNI District Commanders and so-called Tactical Support Groups (TSGs) in political policing. These events contrast with the passive PSNI response to roads being blocked by the supporters of sectarian Orange marches.

Poisoning the Peace Process

The political and military doctrine which governs policing in the 6 counties comes from a mindset which is still at war with nationalists. Political policing within the PSNI aims to prevent change in policing; restoration of the power-sharing Executive; implementation of the Good Friday Agreement; and stability in the Peace Process. Political policing is now central to the securocrats' strategy to copper-fasten British direct-rule.

To end political policing, powers on policing and justice must be transferred, away from London and out of the hands of British securocrats and, into a locally elected Assembly within a new framework of equality and human rights on an all-Ireland basis.

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An Phoblacht
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