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20 August 1998 Edition

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Criminal twist to RUC approach

By Mick Naughton.

In a disturbing development to the `normal' methods used in RUC approaches to young nationalists, it has emerged that in addition the RUC is using the threat of violence behind bars, particularly on the criminal wing of Maghaberry prison.

On Monday 17 August, a 20 year old Oldpark nationalist revealed to local SF councillor, Bobby Lavery, how an RUC Special Branch unit had consistently attempted to recruit him as an informer following an incident last June, when he was arrested for possession of drugs.

In the incident, the youth, who wishes to remain anonymous, was arrested by the RUC beside Castle Court in King Street. After being taken to Musgrave Street RUC barracks he was approached by plainclothes RUC members, one of whom called himself `Alan' and gave a telephone number.

After being held a number of hours, the youth was told by these RUC men that they would make sure he got two years in Maghaberry, where named and known criminals with drug dealing connections would `fix him'.

This could be prevented, they said, if he kept a watch not only on named drug dealers in north Belfast, but also on a number of Belfast republicans.

After refusing the approach, the youth was released after he contacted Madden and Finucane solicitors. The youth has since been approached every time he signs bail at the RUC barracks.

Two weeks ago, three known Ardoyne criminals, who openly deal drugs in front of the RUC's drug headquarters in the Antrim Road barracks (beside the Waterworks) attacked the youth, giving him a severe beating.

Calling upon the RUC to ``desist immediately with this intimidation'' Bobby Lavery again pointed to the open drug dealing and attendent threats to young people at the Waterworks.

``This once pleasant park has become notorious for drug dealing and physical attacks. But this odious trade can only continue with tacit RUC approval,'' he said. ``Now however, not content to have drug peddlers camped outside their barracks they have developed a new tactic in threatening young people into becoming agents, by using `colleagues behind bars' as potential RUC enforcers.''
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