Political Policing An Enduring Feature Of Society In Ireland Today

A press statement from the 1916 Societies on the arrest this week of Dee Fennell. 

The 1916 Societies condemn without reservation the draconian, politically-motivated arrest and detention of our friend and comrade Dee Fennell from Ardoyne and extend our full support to his family and loved one’s at this time.

We consider the imprisonment of any political activist, for expressing what are ultimately political sentiments, among the most repressive measures ever introduced in Ireland by the British government, who despite best efforts to legitimise their ongoing presence in the Six Counties remain in occupation of a part of our country against the wishes of the people who live here.

To protest that occupation is not only a right, it is a duty. For that Dee Fennell should be commended, rather than gaoled to suit MI5-based British policing and their need to stamp out an alternative narrative to that which claims for Britain a new-found right to remain in the North.

The 1916 Societies say she has no such right and should withdraw from Ireland, leaving her people in peace to determine their own future – as is their democratic entitlement.

This entire uncomely episode – with yet another young family victim to the machinations of illegal British ‘laws’ – their patriarch and breadwinner confined to a prison cell in Maghaberry Gaol – relays the truth of the so-called ‘new dispensation’ in Ireland. The truth is that when we scratch the surface nothing has changed, despite the presence of the ‘poacher-turned-gamekeeper’ at the heart of Stormont rule.

Those in question are conspicuous and indeed complicit by their silence – and not for the first time.

Aside from the fact Britain should have no power to make any law here to begin with, what we’re dealing with is the manipulation of law to achieve a political outcome, essentially to remove the right of free speech – a right protected under international law – and to criminalise dissenting voices to the new political narrative, crafted by Britain to maintain her undemocratic presence in Ireland.

Such an attack on the basic right to free speech is surely beyond acceptable in the mind of any right-thinking person, regardless of their opinion on the views expressed by Dee Fennell.

The case in question sets a dangerous precedent and should be a cause of concern for those who hold freedom of speech as integral to our civil and human rights. The right to form our own political opinions – most especially in a country like ours – given the extraordinary political circumstances that still exist here – should never be subject to the whims and diktats of the British government, to suit her security needs and uphold the partition of Ireland accordingly.

Again, we express our full support to Dee and his family and call for his immediate release – as that of all who remain incarcerated at the behest of British security policy in Ireland.

The time is now for Britain to respect the popular will of the Irish people, to withdraw her sovereign claim and allow all in Ireland, together and without external impediment, to determine future constitutional arrangements in an Irish Republic where political prisoners and repressive laws are finally a thing of the past.

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