29 October 2005

Former prisoners’ anger after support group raids

Daily Ireland

Posted by Danielle Ni Dhighe

Connla Young

Former republican prisoners have reacted with anger after the offices of a support group was raided by the PSNI yesterday.
The offices of Teach na Fáilte in Strabane, Co Tyrone, and on the Falls Road in Belfast were searched and documents were removed during a series of raids carried out across the North yesterday morning which saw 20 homes and businesses targeted.
Set up almost ten years ago, Teach na Fáilte works with former Irish National Liberation Army prisoners.
A Teach na Fáilte spokesperson said a number of homes belonging to Teach na Fáilte employees were also raided by several heavily armed PSNI units.
A leading figure in the ex-prisoner’s group Eddie McGarrigle hit out at the PSNI after he was tossed from his wheelchair by a PSNI man attempting to pull the shutters down outside the group’s Strabane office.
“At a time when Teach na Fáilte is getting its doors sledgehammered open Bertie Ahern met with political representatives of a group that has killed 28 people since its ceasefire,” said Mr McGarrigle.
“What is Bertie Ahern going to say about these raids?
“Two years ago he spoke about his support of Teach na Fáilte and the republican socialist movement and the direction they are taking.
“The mood of the republican socialist movement and former INLA prisoners is one of absolute anger.
“They have taken away all our funding documents and put a lot of people out of employment.
“For over ten years we have been peace building and working towards conflict resolution and this work can all be verified.
“People should be aware that the offices of the IRSP were not raided and with the exception of two people who are members of the IRSP the majority of raids were carried out at the homes non-political people. They are simply employees at Teach na Fáilte.
“Many of these people work with us on the New Deal programme.
“I believe this action has been carried out to provoke a response.”
Earlier this month Mr McGarrigle called on anti agreement republicans not on ceasefire to bring their campaigns to an end.
Belfast-based IRSP man Paul Little said the raids were politically motivated.
“The PSNI have demonstrated once again that they are not a new beginning to policing but rather a new politically motivated paramilitarist force, that excels in all the bad traits of the RUC.”
A spokesperson for the PSNI said the 20 raids were carried out by their Organised Crime Squad.
The PSNI claimed the raids formed part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

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