UUP attempt to criminalise republican POWs

On the 24th January, during private members business at Stormont Ulster Unionist Party politicians proposed a motion which, now passed, has set a dangerous precedent in terms of the dilution of individual’s basic human rights.

Capitalising on recent events to suit their own agenda, politicians hostile to Irish republicanism, successfully passed a motion which stated “that terrorist suspects should remain in custody for as long as necessary to allow judicial proceedings to be completed” the motion also called “on the Minister of Justice of take urgent steps to review bail policy in Northern Ireland, with particular regard to cases involving murder and terrorism.”

Words of temperance from constitutional nationalists present at the debate both rang hollow and highlighted a concerning development. Their concerns were not the further erosion of the legal rights of Irish republicans or even citizens holistically for that matter but a concern regarding the repercussions of such reforms due to the current “perception” of legalised internment.

This perception exists and the reason for this is twofold; the first, that the PSNI, judiciary, intelligence services and a compliant media facilitate the modern, insidious form of selective detention that exists today. The second is due to the tireless efforts of Irish republicans which highlight on the picket lines, through posters and leaflets, online and on the streets, the continued removal of political activists for years without conviction. The fact that these concerns are being heard in the debates of the six county assembly is testament to the work carried out by progressive political activists.

The UUP motion that was passed by a comfortable majority of 51 votes to 33 is a motion that seeks to radically alter an individual’s right to seek bail, it is an unmasked attempt by the most reactionary in our society to normalise and legalise arbitrary detention. It is not difficult to predict that Irish republican activists will be the primary victim of such a conservative move.

It falls on every citizen on this island, and especially those within the boundaries of the six county state to oppose Doug Beattie and co. whom have shown time and time again to be motivated by bitterness not logic, to value repression rather than liberty.

Hypocritically, violence is denounced by the same politicians willing to use the coercive mechanisms of the state to quell political dissent. Despite this being an issue for which Irish republicans must prepare to vehemently oppose, our opposition will not be enough. Mass discontent and civil disobedience against the deliberate deterioration of civil and political rights is needed. Irish republicans are motivated by strongly held anti-colonialist, democratic beliefs, by a passionate anti-imperialist worldview and a desire to see the Irish people unified in a prosperous republic. Sharing our ideology is not necessary to add your voice to ours. We must organise in defence of the rights of all.