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21 January 1999 Edition

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RUC man's award a propaganda stunt

South Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Sean Hayes has rejected the award given to an RUC man in England as a ``transparent propaganda stunt''.

Sergeant Stephen Jones received the ``United Kingdom's Community Police Officer of the Year Award'' on Wednesday 13 January. Jones, in collecting the award, claimed that the RUC had provided an effective policing service in the area and that they policed with the ``consent'' of locals.

The award was hailed by Mo Mowlam as ``a sign of good hope for the future'' in that it shows how the RUC can work in partnership with the community.

In light of Jones receiving this award and the praise which goes with it, Ronnie Flanagan's claim that Jones worked in partnership with the community, and the recent RUC claim that 85% of respondents to a poll in the Markets found RUC performance ``good'' or ``very high'', An Phoblacht decided to do its own poll of RUC performance in the Markets area where Jones regularly patrols.

The RUC in the Markets first came to the attention of the world in 1996 when they were filmed on news reports attacking nationalists in the Markets after an Orange Order parade was forced down the Lower Ormeau Road. During this attack over 400 plastic bullets were fired in under one hour.

Jones and his men, however were already well known.

Local man John Dobbin filed a complaint against Jones over the treatment meted out to him after he was arrested and interrogated by the RUC.

Jones `community police' squad built on their reputation with their patrols becoming the subject of numerous complaints by Sean Hayes and other locals.

Locals explained that RUC members in the area have been involved in a campaign of petty harassment against residents. In the time that Jones has served in the area it has been the subject of hundreds of house searches which have resulted in physical abuse and incalculable property damage.

With an outstanding record like this who does want Stephen Jones and his friends patrolling in the Markets? It is certainly not the people who have had their personal details collected by ``community RUC men'' only to have them passed into the hands of loyalist death squads and find themselves, like Brendan Davison, murdered by loyalists dressed in RUC uniforms.

Sean Hayes concluded that Wednesday's award ``is meaningless to the nationalist people of the Markets and Lower Ormeau Road who have suffered so much at the hands of the RUC'' and reiterated the view that ``the RUC have never been and never will be acceptable to the nationalist and republican community''.

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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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