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30 March 2000 Edition

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Springfield Road Barracks abandoned

by Laura Friel

Rumours that the RUC have abandoned their barracks at Springfield Road in West Belfast, apparently only sneaking in and out to turn the lights on at night, came as welcome news to local residents, many of whom have literally lived under the shadow of its corrogated iron walls for years.

Local people are calling for the NIO to come clean and admit that the barracks has been closed so that demolition can get underway as soon as possible. However, hopes that the barracks will at last be torn down have been tempered by the realisation that for many nationalists, the memories of brutality within those bleak walls will never be fully erased.

Seando Moore described to An Phoblacht three days in Springfield Road Barracks which almost 25 years later he says he will never forget. In June 1976, Seando was arrested after his mother's home was raided by the RUC. Initially, Seando was taken to Fort Monagh near Turf Lodge before being driven in a jeep by British military police to Springfield Road barracks.

During the journey, Seando was forced to kneel with his hands under his knees. Earlier that day, an RUC Special Branch officer, Ron McAdam, had been shot dead by the IRA outside the Royal Victoria Hospital on the Falls Road. In the immediate aftermath, the RUC arrested and brutalised scores of young men in West Belfast.

``They were determined to get a result at any price,'' says Seando. ``They didn't care if you were innocent or guilty as long as they could force you to sign.'' Many of those arrested were taken to Springfield Road barracks. During three days of intensive interrogation, often carried out by five to six RUC Special Branch men at a time, Seando was repeatedly beaten and kicked.

``My clothes were taken away and I was dressed in overalls. A hood was placed over my head,'' he recalls. ``During one interrogation session, I was sitting on a chair with the hood still over my head. An RUC officer said I was to be shot. A gun was placed against my knee and a blank fired. As the shot was fired, my knee was hit with a baton.''

In a further incident during his interrogation, the RUC threatened to hang Seando out of the window. ``It was no idle threat,'' he says. ``Only a few weeks earlier, a young man by the name of Rooney had been held out of an upper floor window.'' In a moment of panic, Seando smashed the glass in the window, cutting his hand. ``I was taken to Musgrave Hospital where my hand was treated before I was returned to the barracks.''

For 24 hours before his release without charge, Seando was held in a toilet at the barracks. ``It was a very small enclosed space,'' says Seando, ``and it was humiliating as well as uncomfortable to be held in a toilet for so long.''

Psychological torture accompanied sustained brutality. Another detainee sustained 127 bruises during interrogation that day. ``He was actually charged with assault and jailed for six months,'' says Seando. ``We both later won brutally cases against the RUC.'' Seando received compensation for his injuries but no RUC officers were ever prosecuted.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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