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21 August 1997 Edition

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RUC increase harassment of nationalists

Mick Naughton.details some of the many reports of increased Crown Force harassment in the wake of the IRA cessation

RUC witch hunt against protestors


Mid-Tyrone Sinn Féin councillor Sean Clarke has accused the RUC of conducting a witch hunt against local nationalists who took part in a peaceful protest against an Orange march in Mountfield on Sunday 22 June.

Councillor Clarke described to An Phoblacht how the RUC were engaged in what he called ``a door to door'' operation in the general Mountfield area, but also in other parts of mid-Tyrone including Loughmacrory and Greencastle warning local people that their, ``presence in Mountfield on that day was technically illegal in one way or another.''

Clarke added that the RUC's ``determination in relation to Mountfield is in stark contrast to their disinterest and failure to apply their own laws with respect to loyalist roadblocks throughout the Omagh district, and in places like Castlederg and Newtownstewart last summer.''

RUC patrol abuse priest


Sinn Féin Councillor Patsy McMahon has accused the RUC of confronting a Catholic priest in Carrickmore last Wednesday afternoon and asking him to account for his movements.

Councillor McMahon said that the priest in question had just made a pastoral and social visit to a family at Creggan Road in Carrickmore when he stopped to talk to local Sinn Féin representative Barry McElduff. ``It was at this point that the RUC surrounded the visiting priest and quizzed him about his identity and movements,'' explained McMahon.

``This is another example of the disgraceful sectarian motivation of the RUC who appear to be systematic in their planning given their associated undercover surveillance activity in the mid-Tyrone area over the past number of weeks. The present political climate is one where people expect demilitarisation from the British forces, not an increase in their profile in nationalist areas.''

Meanwhile Glenelly Sinn Féin Councillor Martin Conway has demanded ``an entirely new police service to replace the RUC.'' Conway stressed that this was a fundamental issue which Sinn Fein will be addressing in the negotiations next month.

Mural painters harassed


The immediate withdrawal of the RUC and the British army has again been called for by nationalists in Lurgan. The call comes in the wake of another sustained period of saturation of nationalist areas in the north Armagh town by the British army, particularly the Royal Irish Regiment and its RUC allies.

Lurgan Sinn Féin Councillor Francie Murray spoke of his disgust this week as report after report reached him of unprovoked attacks on local people in the Taignavan estate.

``One of the clearest examples of the need for British demilitaristion is the fact that as young people were painting a Celtic-themed wall mural around 20 British soldiers stopped and proceeded to harass and verbally abuse them, particularly the young women. One person was threatened, assaulted and arrested during this harassment which can only be seen as extremely provocative.''

All across Lurgan the level of harassment has been steadily rising with a marked increase in complaints. Councillor Murray said: ``It is the case that these forces are once again militating against the peace. These sectarian forces masquerading as law and order are totally unacceptable to the nationalist community. Pending their complete disbandment they must be immediately withdrawn to barracks.''

Ex-POW hospitalised by RUC


The deliberate targeting by the RUC of former republican POWs appears to be on the increase again. On Tuesday evening, a vicious RUC assault on Sean Montgomery, an Ardoyne republican, and his brother left both men in hospital.

As the two brothers stood chatting outside Sean Montgomery's Ardoyne home an RUC mobile patrol stopped and began to verbally abuse them. Members of the patrol entered the front garden and attacked the pair before throwing them into armoured personnel carriers and taking them to Antrim Road RUC barracks.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Mick Conlon described the attack as being ``very sinister given the recent loyalist attacks on Ardoyne'' and compared the RUC actions with the recent successful fleadh events when the RUC kept out of the besieged streets which form the Ardoyne enclave. ``We have just had a very peaceful festival, primarily because the RUC and British paratroopers largely kept out of the area. Now they have signalled a resumption of their sectarian attacks with this latest incident on a well known former republican POW.

``They should take account of the fact that this community doesn't need them, never wanted them, and they should disband immediately.

``For decades they have set up our people for assasination, false imprisonment and torture. Sean Montgomery served a long sentence in Long Kesh and still the unionist statelet seeks its additional pound of flesh. I challenge the British government to bring its forces to book, or are they still out of control with the tail wagging the dog?''

Sean Montgomery took up the detail of the attack:

``My brother Stephen and I were sitting enjoying the summer evening when the RUC pulled up outside my home. The one in charge, was I believe an RUC sergeant called Naylor from Oldpark barracks. Without warning they struck Stephen my brother and as I tried to prevent this they turned on me. Both of us were brought to the barracks with chants of `this is another dig for Drumcree' and `fenian bastards'. Both of us were charged with assault despite the RUC doctor refusing to authorise our custody, demanding we be treated immediatley for our injuries, particularly the head injuries. This can be verified at the hospital, which only released us at 11.30am on Wednesday, 12 hours after the RUC attack began. I will be seeking legal redress as a consequence of this sectarian RUC behaviour and have contacted my lawyer.''

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