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20 July 2000 Edition

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Lurgan night of terror

Vicious RUC assault on Twelfth



A Lurgan man whose evidence of RUC threats against Rosemary Nelson formed a crucial part of the UN Cumaraswamy report into death threats against the human rights lawyer, was severely beaten by the RUC in the early hours of the Twelfth.

Twenty-one-year-old Shane McCrory was standing with friends in the Taghnevan area of Lurgan at about 1am on the morning of the Twelfth when he was assaulted by the RUC. Two men and a woman who came to the young man's aid were also set upon by both male and female RUC members.

After a two hour-long ordeal at the hands of the RUC, McCrory ended up with a hairline fracture to his skull, a broken nose, severe bruising and a wound to his side where an RUC woman repeatedly struck him with the point of her baton until she cut him.

Speaking at a press conference in Belfast on Friday morning, 13 July, McCrory told how he was standing with friends in the nationalist Taghnevan estate when the RUC drove in. ``They jumped out of the Land Rovers and we scattered,'' said Shane. Four RUC members, however, grabbed McCrory and beat him to the ground. Jim Boyle, a 56-year-old who saw the incident from his window, ran over to help and was himself beaten. Kathy Doyle, 22, who jumped on top of McCrory to protect him, was beaten about the body by RUC officers and called a ``fat bastard'' by one RUC man from the back of a Land Rover.

A third person who went to help McCrory, Terry Magee, was also attacked by the RUC. He was beaten to the ground and handcuffed. As he lay there, unable to defend himself, the RUC continued to attack him.

But it was when he was put in the back of a Land Rover that the worst came for McCrory. For the next two hours in the RUC vehicle, he was continuously assaulted. At least eight RUC members were involved in this systematic beating.

In the back of the Land Rover at Lurgan RUC barracks, an RUC man head butted him, breaking his nose. ``The RUC man apologised then hit me again'', said McCrory.

Then, in an act of humiliation and vindictiveness, an RUC woman complained to McCrory about the state of her Land Rover. ``It's covered in blood'', she screamed before she punched him on his already broken nose.

All three men have been charged with a series of offences, including assault, disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest.

Shane McCrory has been on the RUC's `hit list' for two years now and was only recently acquitted of charges of possession of petrol bombs.

Most of the harassment, he believes, arose out of the fact that he gave evidence to Dr Param Dato Cumararswamy, who was investigating RUC death threats against Rosemary Nelson, killed in a bomb attack last year in Lurgan. Shane told the United Nations rapporteur that on 15 December 1998, when he was in Lurgan town centre, two RUC men stopped him and searched him as a way of harassing him. As they let him go, one of the RUC men said `Don't ask for Rosemary Nelson'. When Shane asked why, he was told `She'll be dead soon'.

Sinn Féin councillor John O'Dowd told the press conference that as the RUC were in Taghnevan beating nationalists, ``loyalists across in Mourneview were able to fire weapons unhindered in a show of strength''. He also pointed out that the incident occurred while the police bill was being debated in the British parliament. Pointing to Shane McCrory's blood stained clothes, O'Dowd said: ``Before us we have the clear physical evidence of why the policing bill will be a complete failure and why the RUC needs to go.''

In a separate incident in the Shankill estate on the following night, Royal Irish Regiment soldiers assaulted two children, aged 13 and 16.

Ryan Mulholland and Colm Grimley were standing around on a green when an RIR patrol drove onto the green narrowly missing the boys. Members of the patrol grabbed the pair and beat them with batons. Both were brought to Lurgan RUC barracks.

``Over the past two weeks, the crown forces in this area were spoiling for a fight and it was only a matter of time before an incident like this arose. On a number of occasions RIR patrols had been guilty of throwing golf balls and bottles at people'', concluded O'Dowd.
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