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22 August 2002 Edition

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Caught on camera...

PSNI started Short Strand trouble


BY FERN LANE


The residents of the besieged Short Strand have submitted video evidence to the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, which gives the lie to RUC/PSNI claims that the violence which erupted in the area on Thursday night and Saturday night was instigated by nationalists. Copies of the videotapes have also been handed to both the British and Irish governments.

The tape shows that on Thursday night around 11.30pm, the British Army and RUC placed the Short Stand effectively under curfew, ignoring the fact that for hours beforehand, bottles, bricks, bolts, fireworks, glass and pipe bombs had been thrown into Clandeboye in a sustained loyalist attack. The video footage shows that, although missiles were continually thrown over the peace wall by loyalists, no attempt by the British Army or RUC/PSNI was made to enter Cluan Place or Paullet Avenue.

The video footage also captured the events of Saturday evening, when once again police claimed that they had come under attack from the nationalist community.

The video clearly shows that police attacked nationalist residents, injuring a number of people in the process, including cameraman Paddy McDaid, who sustained a broken hand after being batoned. The video also shows police officers kicking in doors in Clandeboye Gardens and throwing bricks at residents. Three other residents were injured, one receiving a broken hand as he attempted to make a note of the officer's number, another with a head wound which required stitches and the third who received severe bruising to the body after being beaten. In the ensuing disturbance, police say six of their officers were injured.

Sinn Féin representative Stiofán Long said police claims that they had come into the area to keep the two communities apart was flatly contradicted by the videotape.

The tape of these events was handed to the press, including the BBC, ITV and RTE. Although ITV showed a short section of it on Monday evening, neither the BBC nor RTE, at time of writing, has aired the footage. After inquiries by residents' representatives, the BBC staff claimed they had not done so because the tape they had been sent was blank. A second tape was immediately despatched to the corporation, but once again BBC staff claimed it was blank.

Asked about this failure by the BBC to show the evidence gathered by the Short Strand residents, Councillor Joe O'Donnell said the reasons were clear. "It doesn't suit their agenda," he said. "They are running completely with the PSNI and British government agenda, which claims that this is all a tit for tat sectarian conflict with the police in the middle of it heroically trying to keep the two sides apart."

"Nothing is further from the truth and this video footage demonstrates that."

 

Caught on camera - PSNI started Short Strand trouble



BY FERN LANE



The residents of the besieged Short Strand have submitted video evidence to the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, which gives the lie to RUC/PSNI claims that the violence which erupted in the area on Thursday night and Saturday night was instigated by nationalists. Copies of the videotapes have also been handed to both the British and Irish governments.

The footage shows that on Thursday night, after a day of sporadic attacks from Cluan Place, a sustained attack on Clandeboye Gardens was mounted from both Cluan Place and by a large crowd of loyalists who had gathered in Paullet Avenue. The attack reached a peak at around 9pm, when a hail of bottles, bricks, bolts, fireworks, glass and pipe bombs were thrown into Clandeboye, and continued for several hours. At around 11.30pm, a large contingent of British Army and RUC/PSNI personnel entered Clandeboye Gardens and effectively placed the area under military curfew until 1am on Friday morning. The video footage shows that, although missiles were continually thrown over the peace wall by loyalists, no attempt by the British Army or RUC/PSNI was made to enter Cluan Place or Paullet Avenue.

As the attack intensified into Thursday night, local Sinn Féin Councillor Joe O'Donnell persuaded all the residents of Clandeboye Gardens to leave their houses and get out of the area for their own safety, an evacuation which involved some 200 people, including small children who had to be taken from their beds.

The video footage also captured the events of Saturday evening, when once again police claimed that they had come under attack from the nationalist community. It shows that, early in the evening, a Special Branch officer, Stevie Goldblock, accompanied by three Land Rovers and around 15 officers in riot gear, entered Clandeboye Drive. The officers removed bottles from the area, smashing several in the process, apparently deliberately. Before he left, Goldblock threatened a number of children who had gathered, telling them he would be back. Minutes later, there was an attack on Mount Pottinger Road by a group of up to 25 loyalists.

Shortly afterwards, the same RUC officers, including Goldblock, re-entered Clandeboye Gardens, which by this time was almost deserted, on the pretext of clearing away rubble. They began to antagonise residents, with one officer saying that they were collecting bricks and stones because the loyalists in Cluan Place were "running out of ammunition".


Sinn Féin representative Stiofán Long approached Goldblock, requesting that he pull his people out of the area and explaining that the behaviour of some of his officers was creating a dangerous situation. Goldblock responded by claiming that they were there to protect the Catholic community, but during this exchange one officer is seen on video shoving an 11-year-old boy and threatening him with sexual violence. The officer was repeatedly asked for his number by the residents who had gathered, but refused to provide it.

At this point, police attacked the crowd, injuring a number of people in the process, including the cameraman, Paddy McDaid, who sustained a broken hand after being batoned. The video also shows police officers kicking in doors in Clandeboye Gardens and throwing bricks at residents. Three other residents were injured, one receiving a broken hand as he attempted to make a note of the officer's number, another with a head wound which required stitches and the third who received severe bruising to the body after being beaten. In the ensuing disturbance, police say six of their officers were injured.

Stiofán Long said that police claims that they had come into the area to keep the two communities apart was flatly contradicted by the videotape.

"Its utter rubbish" he said. "There was no confrontation between either community and we have video evidence to prove that. The PSNI came into Clandeboye Drive and started attacking young people.

"A PSNI man threatened an eleven-year-old boy and as a local man tried to take down his number, he was attacked and had his arm broken. Two other people were injured. All these people will be filing complaints with the Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan."

A tape of these events was handed to the press, including the BBC, ITV and RTE. Although ITV showed a short section of it on Monday evening, neither the BBC nor RTE, at time of writing, has aired the footage. After inquiries by residents' representatives, the BBC staff claimed they had not done so because the tape they had been sent was blank. A second tape was immediately despatched to the corporation, but once again BBC staff claimed it was blank.

Asked about this failure by the BBC to show the evidence gathered by the Short Strand residents, Councillor Joe O'Donnell said the reasons were clear. "It doesn't suit their agenda," he said. "They are running completely with the PSNI and British government agenda, which claims that this is all a tit for tat sectarian conflict with the police in the middle of it heroically trying to keep the two sides apart."

"Nothing is further from the truth and this video footage demonstrates that."

 

Sinn Féin press officer assaulted by PSNI in Short Strand



Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has repeated his call for the Police Ombudsman to investigate the partisan behaviour of the PSNI in the Short Strand area of East Belfast after a Sinn Féin Press Officer had his hand broken in an assault by the PSNI on Saturday night.

"Since last May, when the Chairperson of Belfast Sinn Féin, Paud Devenney, was almost killed by the PSNI in the Short Strand, there have been a succession of incidents where the PSNI have been involved in assaults, threats and misinformation," said McLaughlin.

"As recently as last Saturday, the British Army were forced to discredit a statement, supposedly issued in their name by the PSNI, blaming republicans for planting pipe bombs.

"On Saturday evening, the PSNI once again flooded the Short Strand. A number of local residents suffered broken bones, and among those assaulted was a Sinn Féin Press Officer and resident of the Short Strand, who was filming the PSNI operation at the time.

"After video evidence was produced last week exposing the lies being told by the PSNI, a decision was clearly taken to attack those residents filming PSNI activity. This is obviously an attempt to stop the truth about what is happening in the Short Strand from coming out.

"I want to repeat the call which I made last week for the Police Ombudsman to send a team of investigators into the Short Strand and report on the disgraceful actions of the PSNI in that area."

Cork women offer Short Strand respite



Mna Le Chéile, a Cork based Women's Forum, has invited families from the Short Strand area of East Belfast to Cork this weekend.

The group made its invitation after following the ongoing attacks on the small nationalist community in An Phoblacht.

Jackie Connolly, chair of the group, said: "We were absolutely shocked to read about the children and the families that are living in the Short Strand area of East Belfast. They are under constant attack from loyalists. We made contact with the Short Strand Community Centre and invited them to send families to Cork City on a well and truly deserved break from these attacks."

A list of events has been planned for this Friday through to Monday, including buffets, evening meals, karaoke, a visit to a Leisureplex and swimming pool, a visit to Fota Wild Life Park, picnics, musical evenings, and historical tours.

The residents will have their accommodation in Cork provided by Mna Le Cheíle, and childminders will also be on hand.

Before returning to Belfast on Monday, the families will meet with the Lord Mayor of Cork and receive a tour of City Hall.

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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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