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18 March 2004 Edition

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PSNI threats and beatings

PSNI members who held three teenagers at gunpoint and warned not to move have been described as "armed thugs" by Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin North Belfast Assembly member Kathy Stanton said that the incident was "only the latest in a litany of offences" carried out by the PSNI against North Belfast nationalists.

According to Stanton, PSNI members entered a hostel for homeless children on Belfast's Antrim Road on Saturday 7 March and held guns to the heads of three teenagers as they lay sleeping. One of the three was also handcuffed and forced to the floor.

And a 14-year-old boy who was arrested by the PSNI in West Belfast on Friday night 12 March has been charged with possessing an offensive weapon, his hurling stick.

Hurling mad Cathal Shannon, who plays for the O'Donovan Rossa club on the Falls Road, was arrested after he and some of his friends were stopped by the PSNI at the junction of the Stewartstown and Shaws Roads.

His father, Seán, who is furious at the way his son was treated by the PSNI, has has vowed to take the matter as far as he can.

A furious Shannon is now seeking legal advice over the incident and intends making a complaint to the Police Ombudsman's Office.

And a 29-year-old man who was badly beaten with batons by the PSNI as he made his way home in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh on Saturday night 13 March has been charged with resisting arrest and drunk and disorderly behaviour.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was walking home with a friend and was carrying a bottle of beer when members of a PSNI patrol jumped from their car and stopped them.

"They told me I had no right to be drinking alcohol in the street and told me to drink up and go home," he said.

The man said that as he drank the beer one PSNI man grabbed him and handcuffed him. At the same time the other members of the patrol set about him with their batons, hitting him around the legs and back, causing him to collapse.

The man was taken to Enniskillen PSNI Barracks, where he was medically examined by a PSNI doctor. However, on his release at 6am on Sunday morning, he was examined in the Accident and Emergency department of the Erne Hospital, where he was treated for severe bruising to his legs and lower body.

The man has since contacted a solicitor and is lodging a complaint with the Police Ombudsman. Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew described the incident as a vicious unprovoked attack by the PSNI.

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