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26 February 1998 Edition

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Disabled men attacked

By Mick Naughton.

The targeting of nationalists by the RUC continued this week a disabled man had his eyepatch pulled off while he was stopped and questioned by the RUC on the Cliftonville Road in North Belfast.

The man, Charlie McMeekin, was walking home when the incident occurred. He told how the RUC roughed him up during a body search before one RUC member laughed and demanded to ``see under that patch.'' Sighted in one eye for many years now Charlie McMeekin is a familiar figure in the area.

His mother declared herself ``shattered'' at hearing of her son's treatment.

``We have contacted our solicitors and will take this despicable incident as far as we legally can, but I have to say that this bunch of bigots have no humanity They have no place in our community''.

Sinn Fein councillor Bobby Lavery also hit out at ``another bunch of sectarian thugs'' who attacked another disabled nationalist in nearby Newington last Friday lunchtime. The man, who lives at the flashpoint area between loyalist Tigers Bay and Newington, was watching television downstairs when he heard a loud smash upstairs. Confined to a wheelchair, the middle aged man realised that a rear window had been smashed. Fearful of a petrol bomb attack he phoned his sister who alerted neighbours and the local Sinn Fein office.

``Unfortunately this is a private rented house and recently the landlord removed security window grilles to sell the house. But it left this wheelchair-bound man vulnerable to attack and I am appealing to the landlord to replace the grilles immediately'', said Bobby Lavery.

Last year in the area dozens of nationalists were forced out of their homes by loyalist gangs as the RUC looked on. .''
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