Upsurge in Stop and Search police harassment in northern Ireland


Over the first couple of weeks of November we have witnessed intensification in British state repression and intimidation on the streets of the North primarily directed at republican activists.  The widespread use of stop and search powers, house raids and use of sophisticated surveillance techniques is an attempt not only to criminalize republicans from the wider community but anyone who dissents from the status quo.

This upsurge in stop and search powers comes after the revealing of recent internal PSNI report describing the culture in Garnerville police training college as “more associated with a pseudo-militaristic training environment."(1) From the training to the streets, the RUC/PSNI remain a heavily armed paramilitary force in working class communities whose first priority is to defend the interests of the status-quo. While MI5 maintains controls over issues of ‘national security,’ PSNI is only accountable in name only.

Whole families and young children have also been subjected to victimization from the apparatus of state violence. As 15 year old Ailíse ní Mhurchú from West Belfast told a crowd at Saoradh's Anti-PSNI protest recently. "I am glad to get the opportunity to speak here tonight about my experiences of British stop and search powers. The first time I was stopped and searched was I was 11 years old on and it happened on Lanark way. I was frightened being surrounded by so many members of the PSNI. At that time I didn't realize that this would become the norm for my family. 5 years later, I've now overcome those fears.

"I've been in my daddy's car during most of the stop and searches and have got used to it. I'm still only 15 years old and still at School. I'm now in my important GCSE years and have recently experienced stop and searches while being brought to school and sometimes being late. I find it difficult trying to explain why I am late. Outside of my family I feel like a lone voice, especially among those whom I feel have a duty to protect me as I have done no wrong.

"I've now began to question why is this happening? and why these PSNI people are not challenged by any politicians? As a 15 year old, I am now speaking out and I would hope more and more people who should know better would speak out against these stop and searches. I see the PSNI as an oppressive force denying me my freedoms as a human being.

"I just want to finish by saying in the words of Martin Luther King, "In the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends".

While some sections of the left are silent, anarchists have a long history of being on the receiving end of state terror and therefore recognize this ‘fork in the road’ comment by Stormont first minister Arlene Foster marks an escalation in police harassment and intimidation that needs to be actively opposed by all dissenters.

“When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called "the People's Stick………There is no horror, no cruelty, sacrilege, or perjury, no imposture, no infamous transaction, no cynical robbery, no bold plunder or shabby betrayal that has not been or is not daily being perpetrated by the representatives of the states, under no other pretext than those elastic words, so convenient and yet so terrible: "for reasons of state."- Mikhail Bakunin