Running parallel with the vicious media campaign of vilification was a campaign of intimidation and harassment conducted by members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit ERU. The overt campaign was directed at the entire McKevitt family including the three youngest children who were aged 8, 6 and 5. The ERU sat in unmarked cars outside their home for long periods of time; they followed the McKevitt’s on a daily basis by car and also on foot. They followed Bernadette while she went shopping in Dundalk and they even followed the children from school. On numerous occasions the ERU stopped the children while they were playing outside their home with their friends and asked them their names. In the evening time after the children were put to bed, the ERU parked opposite the McKevitt house and shone a spotlight into the children’s bedrooms. On Christmas day 1999, at 1.00pm as the family sat down to their Christmas dinner the ERU sat outside the front of the McKevitt home and activated the police siren blaring it for several minutes.
At times they used a loudhailer shouting many things including obscenities outside the home (All of these details are documented; names in some cases, times and numbers of cars are recorded also).
Over the years anyone who called to their home was stopped by the ERU and had their names taken in a very aggressive and intimidating manner. At times even the children of neighbours were stopped and asked their names. On one occasion the window cleaner who had called to collect payment was approached by members of the ERU as he left the house. He was thrown onto the bonnet of his car and searched while his hands were held up his back. He was then questioned before being allowed go free. The man was badly shaken and when he went home he made a complaint to his local politician.
On another occasion one of the McKevitt children who had attended a birthday party was dropped home by a school friend’s mother. The ERU followed the woman who incidentally had other children in the car and forced her car to stop. They were very aggressive with the woman demanding to know what she was doing at the McKevitt’s house. The woman was left shaken and in tears.
Some visitors to the McKevitt home had their homes visited by plain clothes policemen. Neighbours of the McKevitt’s who visited their home to assist them had the ERU sitting afterwards outside their home on many occasions also. There are many more such incidents too numerous to include. The McKevitt’s kept a log of the surveillance which they passed on to Jane Winter director of BIRW.
In addition, meetings of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, which Bernadette attended, were disrupted frequently. On one occasion a road block was set up outside of the entrance to a hotel were the meeting was scheduled to take place. Everyone entering the hotel was stopped and their details taken regardless if they were attending the meeting or not. Obviously the hotel was reluctant to accept any further bookings from the group.
Official complaints were lodged with the Gardai and with the McKevitt’s solicitor on numerous occasions. One complaint that stands out in particular concerned the videoing of Bernadette and one of the children aged 7, on two separate occasions by detectives. Understandably the family were alarmed and anxious to know the purpose of the videoing and to whom it would be passed on to, as it took place around the time Rosemary Nelson was murdered.