15 July 2004 Edition
Ógra member finally cleared
Nine months of frustration for Ógra Shinn Fein member Daniel Turnbull finally came to an end on Tuesday 6 July, when charges of gathering information that would likely be of use to terrorists were dropped at Omagh Court.
Turnbull, from Omagh, was arrested after taking photographs at an Ógra Shinn Féin protest at the British Army barracks in the town in October last year.
The 23-year-old explained how the innocuous incident then sparked off a nasty chain of events that caused a great deal of distress for himself and his family.
"I had taken photographs of young republicans outside the British Barracks as part of a national Ógra Shinn Féin weekend when later I was stopped by the PSNI," Turnbull said.
"They ransacked my car and forcibly searched me. Then, two weeks later, they raided my home at around 6.30am, with around 60 PSNI members involved in the operation. There were armed patrols walking up and down the street and the commotion woke up everyone in the area.
"I was kept under house arrest until 11am and was then transferred to Antrim barracks, where I was interrogated. They asked me to name all Ógra Shinn Féin members they had pictures of and who they had been building up files on and when I refused, I was sent to Maghaberry prison, where they locked me up with a loyalist prisoner."
Turnbull spent two nights in Maghaberry before being released on bail. The case continued for the next nine months, as court dates were constantly postponed due to unavailable forensic results.
"The forensic results that were holding everything up were on two toy cap guns that the PSNI had found while wrecking my house," Turnbull said.
"It was laughable but it was just another excuse to prolong the case for as long as possible. The whole episode is a disgrace and should never have come to court in the first place"
Ógra Shinn Féin have been keeping up protests at all his court appearances and were there again as he was acquitted. Speaking at the protest, Barry McColgan Six-County Ógra Organiser said,
"The PSNI have carried out this harassment of Danny because they think by doing so they will stop our growth but they have actually helped our growth. Just last week I attended the formation of yet another Ógra group in Loughmacrory, with over 20 new members. And this growth will continue to skyrocket as long as the injustices of the state persist and as long as freedom is denied.
"It is great that this show trial has ended and credit must be given to Ógra, which has played a major role in bringing Danny's case to an end. They kept the pressure on the PSNI by highlighting the absurdity of the case through protests, leaflets and the press."