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24 July 1997 Edition

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Gardai challenged in West Cork

Clonakilty Sinn Fein Councillor Cionnaith O Suilleabhain has questioned the motives of the Garda Siochana in the wake of a house search of a party supporter in the town on Saturday 19 July. The councillor accused them of ``harassment and attempted intimidation of a family whose only crime in the eyes of the gardai is that they support Sinn Féin, and this on the day the IRA announced its cessation''.

At 9:15 a.m. the man, his wife, and their five year old daughter were asleep in their council flat when a detective sergeant from Bandon Garda Station and three uniformed local Gardai arrived with a warrant to search the premises. The householder had no idea what the search was about until he was questioned on his knowledge of the I.R.A. as they searched his living room and bedroom, where his wife was still in bed. He told them he knew nothing of the I.R.A. and they asked him if he had any connections with Sinn Fein to which he replied that he supported the aims of the party.

The gardai removed photographic negatives of the man at the Bodenstown Wolfe Tone commemoration without telling him or issuing a reciept. The Gardai also removed a receipt of a plane ticket to London without issuing a receipt. They then queried the man on what was ``up there'' in his attic.

The next day O Suilleabháin accompanied the man to Clonakilty Garda Station, where Garda John Moore was on desk duty. O Suilleabháin demanded to know what the purpose of the search was, and also requested that a receipt be given for the removed negatives and plane ticket counterfoil. The Garda replied that they were only ``assisting'' in the search at the request of the Bandon detective and had no knowledge of what it was about. He denied taking the negatives, and claimed he knew nothing of the plane ticket counterfoil.

However, he offered to contact the Bandon detective for receipts, and a copy of the warrant for the man. The councillor and the man arranged to come back on Monday evening, at 6:00 p.m. When they returned the Garda at the desk had no knowledge of their business on the Sunday at Clonakilty Garda Station.

O Suilleabháin has since ensured that the man has contacted a solicitor and urged any other victim of Garda harrassment to report it to their local Sinn Fein representative where all details will be treated in confidence if requested.
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