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2 July 1998 Edition

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Attacks on Lurgan residents

By Sean O'Tuama

A dossier of complaints is to be presented to Police Commission Chair, Chris Patten, following a series of assaults on nationalist residents during Crown force raiding in Lurgan's Kilwilkie estate. The attacks began at 5am on 29 June after raids uncovered ammunition and a quantity of explosives in one house in the estate. Around one thousand RUC, RIR and British troops were involved in the operation, marauding around the estate kicking in doors and threatening residents.

At 7am an elderly woman fell from her wheelchair during an RUC and British army raid on her home, breaking her arm and cracking a rib.

The police and soldiers jeered and laughed but did nothing to assist her. Attempts by her son to access medical treatment were thwarted when the RUC refused to let him through a Crown force cordon. Only after a protracted argument with an RUC sergeant was the seriously injured woman's son allowed to secure medical help.

Throughout the day over a dozen plastic bullets were fired indiscriminately. In one instance, a plastic bullet was fired at Mrs Marshall and Mrs McConville as they pushed their young children in buggies through a narrow pathway. Mrs McConville told An Phoblacht, ``We were just walking along and heard this unmerciful bang and saw the bullet fly between us and into the wall.'' She added that the children ``were in convulsions of panic'' after the attack and that both women were ``badly shaken.''

In a number of incidents children were also assaulted. A twelve year old boy was slammed in the face with a shield by an RUC man and then crushed against a wall. A fifteen year old girl was confronted by two RUC men and a number of British soldiers who pushed her off a wall and batoned her across the back.

In a statement to An Phoblacht one resident, who did not wish to be named, said: ``at about 3.30am the Army and police swamped Kilwilkie estate getting people out of their beds to search their back gardens,'' and ``revving up their landrovers'' to make sure they woke everyone. A cordon was put round Ennis Close where ``old people were taken from their homes, people were prevented from going to the shops and children prevented from going to school.'' Abuse was shouted at women and children and the whole estate was effectively ``put under curfew.''

Inevitably rioting erupted in the estate that evening when youths hurled bricks and petrol bombs at the crown forces.

Speaking on Tuesday 30 June, Sinn Fein Assembly member, Dara O'Hagan said ``After yesterday's onslaught by the British army and the RUC on the Kilwilkie estate, local community activists and a number of lawyers will be taking evidence all afternoon. This will be presented to Commission on Policing Chairperson Chris Patten. I would appeal for all those with a complaint to make about the behaviour of the RUC and British army to do so.''

She went on to say of the crown forces actions ``This type of hostile and provocative behaviour is in contradiction to the search for a lasting peace and a direct contravention of the Mitchell Principles on non-violence. At a time when a process of demilitarisation is urgently required the British response is to dramatically increase their military presence in nationalist areas.'' O'Hagan called on Direct Ruler Mowlam to withdraw all military forces from the area immediately.

Anyone who was unable to attend the incident centre should contact the community centre which will put them in touch with lawyers to register their complaint.
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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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