Free Stephen Murney demonstration

June 10, 2013

More than fifty éirígí activists and supporters, together with family and friends of Stephen Murney, took up residence in Newry’s Monaghan Street on Saturday 1st June to mark the six month anniversary of the Derrybeg man’s arrest and imprisonment.

The prominent republican was arrested last November and charged with the collection and distribution of information, and the possession of articles, likely to be of use to terrorists, following the discovery of two BB guns, two black berets, three military-style jumpers and three pairs of combat trousers in a police raid of his home.

Mr Murney refused strict bail conditions in February which prevented him from living with his son and partner and ordered that he would be electronically tagged and required to sign in at Newtownhamilton Police Station every day.  He was also banned from using electronic devices such as mobiles and laptops.

Speaking at the white line picket, former SinnFein MLA, Pat McNamee and friend of Mr Murney, compared the arrest and detention of the eirigi frontman to the fictional totalitarian world of the George Orwell book “1984”.

Posing the question, “Why is Stephen Murney imprisoned?”, Pat suggested that only through entering the world of Orwell’s ‘newspeak’ could we obtain the answer.

“Newspeak is the term used by Orwell, in his book 1984, to describe the language employed to oppress people in what was a fictional totalitarian state.  That state is not really so fictional nowadays.”

Elaborating, he continued by explaining that:

“Stephen Murney is charged with having a band uniform that he wore whilst a member of a local republican flute band.  In ‘newspeak’, that is having a paramilitary uniform and being equipped for terrorism.

“Stephen Murney is charged with having photographs of protests he had taken part in, which inevitably included images of members of the PSNI, who were also present at these demonstrations. In ‘newspeak’, that is having information useful to terrorists.

“Stephen Murney is charged with having his son’s toy gun in his home.  In ‘newspeak’, that is having an imitation firearm.

“In ‘real speak’, Stephen has been held in prison for over six months solely because he is an effective republican and community activist.”

Concluding the rally, Davy Hyland, independent councillor in Newry and Mourne District Council vowed that he and those assembled on Saturday would continue to raise the case of Stephen Murney until he is released and allowed to return to his family, home and community.