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27 November 1997 Edition

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RUC attack protesters

By Eoin O'Broin

Two Sinn Féin Youth activists were arrested and several others physically attacked and threatened during a Disband the RUC protest at Cushendall RUC barracks last Sunday.

The protest, which involved 50 young people from Antrim and Belfast, was the first SF Youth protest to be held in the North Antrim area.

The protesters made their way to the part time RUC barracks. One youth climbed the fence of the barracks and hung a tricolour. Within seconds the RUC moved in, pushing people to the ground and arresting the youth who had hung the flag. After several minutes of negotiations between the protesters and the RUC, the young man was released and the protest proceeded.

After almost an hour, an impromptu march was held into the town centre. As the protesters walked peacefully in single file, chanting `SS RUC', they were accompanied by about 20 RUC men on the opposite side of the road. As the march approached its destination, the RUC drew their batons and raced towards the crowd. One youth who was leading the crowd was arrested, several others verbally abuse and attacked, and a number of Basque visitors who were taking part in the protest were also assaulted.

The arrested youth was released shortly after having been cautioned with disorderly behaviour. And the protesters ended the demonstration.

North Antrim Sinn Féin Youth spokesperson Catherine O'Hagan said, ``The behaviour of the RUC is yet another example of why such a sectarian force should be disbanded. Both arrests were totally unnecessary and conducted with an unacceptable amount of force. Protesters were threatened physically and verbally, some were attacked. When confronted as to why the arrests were made, an RUC man said ``there may be foreign visitors who may take offence to the protest''. He was obviously unaware that the only tourists in the town were Basques accompanying the protest who themselves were subject to physical and verbal abuse. What the RUC don't realise is that their bully boy tactics has only strengthened the resolve of our youth to continue such protests until the RUC is totally disbanded''.
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