15 May 2003 Edition

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McElduff detained by PSNI

Sinn Féin has hit out at the continued harassment of the party by the PSNI following an incident in which the force detained West Tyrone representative Barry McElduff for three-quarters of an hour at the weekend.

"Barry was returning from constituency business in Strabane around midnight on Saturday night when his car was overtaken by a PSNI car with its lights flashing and sirens blaring," said a party spokesperson.

"Two PSNI personnel subsequently approached his car and he was asked for his driving licence. He declined to hand over his licence at this point stating that this was nothing more than continuing political harassment (Barry had been brought before the court the previous day by the PSNI on the petty basis that one of the characters on his number plate was a couple of millimetres too small).

"About five minutes later, five PSNI jeeps and five PSNI squad cars arrived on the scene and up to 30 members of this force gathered around Barry's car.

"A stand-off ensued and Barry's car was searched. He was only allowed to proceed after a delay of three-quarters of an hour.

"Representatives of no other political party are subject to such harassment and this incident is further evidence of the overtly political nature of this force and betrays the lie being propagated by the SDLP that we have a new beginning to policing," said McElduff.

PSNI recruiters abandon Strabane PR stunt

Sinn Féin says that after being informed that a PSNI had positioned a mobile recruitment unit at Safeways Car Park in Strabane on Tuesday, 13 May, Sinn Féin activists arranged a spontaneous picket to highlight the continued partisan political nature of the force.

"However, as the protesters arrived the PSNI personnel were hastily packing up shop and speed through the protesters as they moved into position," said a party spokesperson.

"On hearing of the presence of the PSNI recruitment unit, Sinn Féin activists quickly gathered together plackards and set out to make sure that this PR Stunt by the PSNI would not go unchallenged.

"Before leaving for the protest, we alerted the Strabane Chronicle that we would be carrying out the protest. However, as we were arriving on the scene five minutes later, it was obvious that the PSNI had been listening in to this telephone conversation as they were packing up shop with great haste.

"As we reached the entrance of the Safeway Car Park, the jeep and the mobile unit speed through us and made off in the direction of Derry.

"This is the same force that detained Sinn Féin elected representative Barry McElduff for three-quarters of an hour on Saturday night, the same force that is bugging the phones of many people in this area, the same force that is recruiting criminals in return for information on members of this community and the same force that is still controlled by British Intelligence Services."

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