The PSNI’s refusal to take down an ‘IRA recruitment poster’ in Londonderry sends out a dangerous message, Foyle MLA Gary Middleton has said.
The poster, which has been erected in the Bogside area of the city, carries a picture of a hooded man wielding a rifle and bears the words ‘unfinished business – join the IRA’.
The DUP say they reported the poster as a hate crime on Monday and asked for it to be taken down.
However, a PSNI spokesperson told the News Letter there were no plans to remove the poster, saying: “At this stage no crime has been disclosed therefore it has not been recorded as a hate crime.”
Mr Middleton was livid to learn of the PSNI’s response and expressed concern that the PSNI were treating the Bogside as a ‘no go area’.
He said: “I think the message that the PSNI are sending out is very dangerous. The message I am now getting from the PSNI is that it is ok to encourage people to join the IRA.
“Are people not committing a crime by encouraging people to join the IRA? It is an illegal organisation. Membership alone is illegal.
“Had this been a poster saying something along the lines of ‘join ISIS’ or ‘support al Queda’, it would have been down immediately and it would have been condemned from all quarters. This is no different to that.
“The wording on this sign is ‘unfinished revolution, unfinished business’. From my recollection the business of the IRA was murder and mayhem, as it was for all terrorist organisations – that is their aim. They don’t go with peaceful means, they go with violence.
“It really shocks me that the PSNI have taken the stance that they have and I can assure you that I will be raising it higher now.
“Had this been in Bond Street in the Waterside and it had said ‘Join the UDA’, everyone would have been coming out and condemning it – rightly so – and I have no doubt it would have been taken down.
“What maddens me is the question of how they cannot see this as a breach of the peace, encouraging people to join the IRA. The IRA are not peacemakers.
“What concerns me so much about this is the impact this might have on young people in the Bogside.
“We have seen in recent weeks in the Bogside how young people have been manipulated, through the bonfire activities.
“It concerns me that young people could be manipulated into joining the IRA.
“This is not some graffiti on the side of a wall, this is a poster that someone has had to take the time to print out and fix to the wall. I believe it is a genuine attempt to recruit people into the IRA.”