19 November 1998 Edition
Vicious wave of Garda repression
SF members arrested and beaten
A concerted wave of repression against Sinn Fein members in Dublin this week has left major suspicions that a political agenda is operating within the Garda.
Two local Sinn Fein Directors of Elections were arrested in early morning raids at their homes, while the home of overall Dublin Director of Elections, Derek Sweetman, was subjected to a Garda raid.
These raids and arrests followed the arrest of a number of Sinn Fein Youth activists in Dublin city centre, all of whom were beaten by gardai.
At 6am on Monday morning plainclothes gardai raided the homes of Dublin Sinn Fein Director of Elections Derek Sweetman, Alan Donnelly who is Director of Elections for his brother and Sinn Fein local election candidate Paul Donnelly, and Michael Reilly, Director of Elections for Nicky Keogh, a Sinn Feín election candidate in Cabra.
Up to eight Garda detectives descended on the home of Michael Reilly, his partner Ruth and their five children at Dunard in the north of the city. A babysitter and her infant child were also present.
The gardai produced a warrant and claimed to be looking for firearms. During the raid two of Reilly's children who have special needs were confined to a bedroom and were extremely frightened. Gardai refused a number of requests by Mick and Ruth to be allowed to take them from the room.
Mick Reilly was eventually arrested and taken to Santry Garda barracks allegedly for `witholding information'. He was repeatedly slapped around the head during interrogation and punched in the chest leaving him extensively brusied. He was released on Tuesday evening without charge.
Meanwhile in Clonsilla Alan Donnelly's home was raided and he was arrested for firearms offences which allegedly took place six months ago. Donnelly was taken to Santry barracks but was released without charge on Tuesday evening.
The arrests of Sinn Féin Youth activists took place last Friday night when seven members of SFY were waiting for a taxi on Dublin's O'Connell Street. They were approached by a uniformed garda who questioned them as to their destination. He accused one of those present of abusive behaviour towards him and as a Garda van pulled up Pearse Doherty was arrested. When the other people remonstrated, all of them- two men and two women - were arrested and put into the van where three gardai beat them with batons.
On arrival at Store Street Garda barracks the youths were kicked and thumped by gardai and one was knocked unconscious. Phone calls and a doctor were requested but this was refused. Eventually only one of the arrested youths, Matt Carthy, was allowed to see a doctor.
A Special Branch detective visited each of the youths separately at Store Street. He kicked one of the young men and called the women `dirty Provo bitches'.
Three of the youths were released at 3am on Saturday morning, while two of the men appeared in court the same day charged with a number of minor public order offences.
Pearse Doherty, who was refused access to a solicitor despite repeated requests at Store Street, was remanded to Mountjoy Prison. When a solicitor attempted to visit Doherty at the prison he was told that he was not there. Doherty was eventually released at lunch-time on Tuesday.
Matt Carthy, Chairperson of Sinn Fein Youth in Dublin, has said that the arrests were linked to incidents surrounding the Sinn Féin Youth conference several weeks ago when a number of confrontations with gardai took place over harassment of youth activists. He said that certain gardai now had an agenda to harass and brutalise members of Sinn Fein Youth and were particularly vindictive of late. Their campaign, he said, would not succeed.
Dublin Sinn Fein Chairperson Sean Brady has slammed the raids and arrests. He said: ``It is significant that three Sinn Fein Directors of Elections were arrested in areas where the party intends to make major gains in the local elections next June. As party activity is steadily stepped up across Dublin we have witnessed a parallell upsurge in Garda hrrassment of our members.
``It is a similar situation with Sinn Fein Youth. Gardai seem to be outraged as the growing strength and presence of Sinn Fein Youth in this city and some gardai to be attempting to force it underground.
``Sinn Fein is set to become a major force in this city and we will not be deterred by the actions of gardai pursuing a political agenda of their own. But at the end of the day it is up to the government to make these bully boys accountable.''