Daily Ireland

Government buildings taken over in protest

**photo on site

Republican protesters blockaded key government buildings in Belfast and Derry yesterday.
The co-ordinated protests began at 11am and were billed as the latest stage in Sinn Féin’s strategy of “democratic resistance”.
They came in the wake of last week’s Independent Monitoring Commission report, which blamed the IRA for the Northern Bank heist and recommended sanctions against Sinn Féin.
Derry assembly member Raymond McCartney hinted that more protests could follow. The monitoring commission last week claimed that members of the Sinn Féin leadership had been involved in “sanctioning” the bank robbery in Belfast.
The body also alleged that senior unnamed Sinn Féin members were also leading IRA members.
It blamed these people for overseeing a range of robberies over the last year.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams angrily rejected the commission’s report as “rubbish” and challenged Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to have him arrested if the allegations were true.
Yesterday, more than 100 republican activists occupied the foyers and front entrances of Windsor House and Bedford House in Belfast city centre.
Doors were chained and padlocked, and workers prevented from entering or leaving the buildings.
The protesters carried placards and banners saying “143,000 voters are not wrong — we will not be criminalised”.
Eight members of the PSNI watched the protests from a distance.
Similar protests took place in Derry, involving dozens of republicans.
Work was brought to a standstill at Orchard House in Derry city centre and the main tax office at Duncreggan Road as placard-bearing protesters once again padlocked themselves into the buildings
Speaking outside Orchard House, Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said there is deepening frustration among republicans and he hinted that more protests are likely to follow.
Mr McCartney said he had been contacted by the protest organisers shortly after 11am.
“We have come here to the Northwest Development Office to protest at this IMC report,” he said.
“The workers here have been told that this peaceful protest will last for 45 minutes.
“This is another example of the continuing frustration of people who no longer feel that it is enough to protest passively.
“There is a degree of inconvenience but this is part of a series of events to show solidarity with Sinn Féin representatives and the party as a whole.”
The PSNI went to the scene at Duncreggan Road but took no action, watching the protest from a short distance. All the protests ended without incident afer 45 minutes.

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