5 October 2006 Edition

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PSNI brutalising New Lodge residents

"The PSNI are running amok in this area", said Sinn Féin councillor Carol Ní Chuilin. She was speaking after a weekend incident in which 23-year-old Kevin Thompson was beaten by the PSNI.

According to Thompson the PSNI assaulted him after he and a number of friends became involved in a verbal exchange with a PSNI squad. He claims the PSNI smashed his head off the side of an armoured vehicle causing cuts and bruises to his head and face. Despite the severity of his injuries the PSNI took Thompson to Antrim Road PSNI barracks rather than hospital.

Thompson has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman's office over the incident which occurred in the early hours of Friday morning 29 September.

This PSNI attack is the latest attack on the New Lodge Road community according to Ní Chuilin who says that since June the PSNI has been involved in numerous assaults and excessive use of CS Spray. A particular PSNI squad members are behind the attacks and Ní Chuilin has passed their identification numbers to the Police Ombudsman's office.

"People were beaten with batons and sprayed in the face with the CS gas".

The PSNI have also come in for criticism from the solicitor representing Carol Ní Chuilin. Patrick Murray of Kevin Winters and company said that the PSNI were in breach of the guidelines laid down for the use of CS Spray. The PSNI are prohibited from using the spray at a distance of less than a metre or in an enclosed space such as a car. They are not allowed to spray a person who is restrained or is handcuffed nor can they use the spray as a crowd dispersal tactic.

"In the cases which I have been dealing with, including an incident on 1 June on the New Lodge Road and the incidents arising out of the arrest of a young man on September 17, there are clear indications from eye-witnesses that the PSNI actions are a breach of the guidelines and we are asking the Police Ombudsman to thoroughly investigate these.

"It is also worrying that the same PSNI officers have been involved in a number of incidents and is something the Ombudsman will have to look at as well", Murray said.

Meanwhile Carol Ní Chuilin has criticised the PSNI over it's inaction after a sectarian incident in the Parkside area of North Belfast on Sunday 24 September.

Loyalists, some wearing band uniforms, chased a group of young nationalist children through the area then attacked houses and cars.

When nationalist residents pointed the culprits out to a nearby PSNI patrol they were ignored.

"Instead of dealing with the loyalists the PSNI flooded Parkside", said Ní Chuilin.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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