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17 December 1998 Edition

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Shopping centre closed down

Nationalist objections to the new RUC barracks in Castle Court shopping centre, Belfast, reached a high point on Saturday when 200 Sinn protesters blocked access to the complex's carpark for an hour.

At one point the RUC moved in to clear an exit, under the pretext that the protesters were ``detaining people against their will''.

A number of women were kicked by RUC personel although none was seriously injured.

Undeterred the protesters moved into the shopping centre itself and staged a 15 minute picket outside the barracks.

During the protest, which was the fourth in a week, the nationalist protesters were subjected to constant harassment and abuse by passing loyalists, one even suggesting that they should ``go home and clean their houses''.

Alex Maskey, speaking after the protest, described the new barracks as ``nothing other than a cynical public relations exercise''. Protest organiser Eoin O'Broin said the barracks was ``an insult to the many victims of RUC violence, intimidation and harassment''.

More protests are planned and Sinn Fein has called for an urgent meeting with the Castle Court management in order to discuss the matter.

O'Broin said, ``a Sinn Fein delegation met the Castle Court manager Alec Bell on Wednesday 16 December to express the disatisfaction of the nationalist people about the RUC presence in the Centre''.
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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
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