Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Is an IRA 'recruitment poster' illegal?

'Join the IRA recruitment poster
On Sunday 5 April 2015 a North Belfast republican addressed an Easter Rising commemoration event in Saint Colman's cemetery in Lurgan.  The event had been organised by the Irish Republican Prisoners' Welfare Association and the speaker was Damien 'Dee' Fennell,

Fennell told the small gathering, which included some primary school children: 
It isn't enough to shout 'Up the IRA'.  The important thing is to join the IRA.  As you leave here today, ask yourself is it enough to support republicanism or could you be a more active republican?
Dee Fennell speaking in Lurgan
Some days later Dee Fennell was arrested and charged with encouraging acts of terrorism, inviting support for the IRA and addressing a meeting to encourage support for the IRA.  All three offences were dated 5 April 2015 and all come under the Terrorism Act 2000.

The case is ongoing but I thought about it today in relation to the current situation in Londonderry where someone has erected a recruiting poster for the IRA.  It depicts an IRA terrorist and carries the message:
Unfinished Revolution, Unfinished Business, Join the IRA.
I would have thought that if it is an offence to say 'Join the IRA', then it must also be an offence to erect a poster that says 'Join the IRA'.  What is the different between a recruitment speech and a recruitment poster?

However this morning the Belfast Telegraph reported a PSNI spokesman as saying: 'At this stage no crime has been disclosed therefore it has not been recorded as a hate crime.'

I'm not sure what the PSNI spokesman meant when he said, 'No crime has been disclosed'.  I would have thought it was fairly obvious what the crime is - encouraging people to join a prohibited terrorist organisation.

If Dee Fennell is being prosecuted for such an offence in Lurgan then surely the PSNI should be seeking to identify the person who erected the IRA recruitment poster?

Moreover, if it is a criminal offence to encourage membership of the IRA, then the PSNI should also remove the recruitment poster.

At a time when several republican terrorist organisations that call themselves the IRA are still active and seeking to murder and maim, it is particularly disappointing to hear such an equivocal statement from the PSNI.  It is incumbent on senior officers to clarify the situation and reassure the public that they will remove the IRA recruitment poster and pursue those responsible for erecting it.,

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