19 May 2005 Edition

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Sinister arrest of Ógra Sinn Féin member

Jarlath McNulty, the outgoing Chair of Strabane District Council, has described as "highly sinister" the false arrest and questioning of a 17-year-old member of Ógra Shinn Féin on Friday evening last.

The youth was standing with friends watching an altercation between the PSNI and a number of other youths in the area of Canal Basin/Railway Road at approximately 9.20pm when he was signalled out by the PSNI.

Despite the fact that he was guilty of no wrongdoing, he was told he was being arrested for disorderly behaviour before being handcuffed and taken to the barracks in a jeep.

Still handcuffed he was led into an interview room where a PSNI video recording of a recent Ógra Sinn Féin protest at Strabane barracks was set ready to play.

As it was being played the youth was questioned in a hostile manner as to the identities of other young people in the video and other lines of hostile questioning.

"It is clear that the arrest of this youth was an elaborate set up and a means by which the PSNI hoped to pressurise this young man to give information about other young republicans," said McNulty.

"Thankfully, he was wise enough not to succumb to the pressure being applied by the PSNI. The PSNI did not charge the youth with disorderly behaviour on Friday night but told him that he would find out in due course if charges are going to be brought against him. The youth will now be contacting his solicitor about his false arrest and subsequent questioning.

"This sinister episode reinforces the fact that the PSNI is still very much a partisan political police force and not the civic service that the SDLP claim it is," said McNulty.


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