20 March 1997 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Candidate threatened

Sean McGirr, Sinn Féin candidate for Armagh City in the forthcoming local elections, spoke this week of a campaign of harassment against him by the crown forces which he considers has escalated to a point where he might be assassinated.

The latest incident was on Wednesday 19 March, when neighbours told him that an RIR patrol outside his house had been overheard discussing its layout, safety measures, and exits at the rear.

This sinister development follows weeks of harassment, including an incident last Friday 14 March, when two men tried to trick their way into a house opposite McGirr's. The occupant of the house, a 70 year old woman, refused them entry, whereupon they forced their way in, and one immediately searched the house in a manner suggesting he was looking for someone.

Both McGirr and the woman's family are adamant it was not a robbery, stressing that no money or valuables were taken, nor did the pair ask for any. The pair fled when the woman threatened to telephone the RUC.

Five car loads of RUC arrived within five minutes, whereas their usual response time for that area is anything up to an hour. McGirr said the RUC swamped the area, and raided the woman's house, ignoring the fact that she had called them.

The woman, asthmatic and diabetic, was so distressed that she was admitted to hospital within twenty-fours. She has now slipped into a coma. Her family are convinced the RUC's behaviour was directly responsible for the woman's condition. She remains in a coma in South Tyrone hospital.

McGirr' believes the two men were loyalists who mistook the woman's house for his, as the houses face each other, and that the whole incident, including the RUC response, was a set-up to attack him.

The family of the ill woman are distressed by an RUC statement about the incident which bore no relation to actual events, besides ignoring the RUC's very real responsibility for the woman's condition.

These chilling incidents fit a pattern of harassment which Sean McGirr has faced, including an incident two weeks ago when RIR troops detained him for three quarters of an hour, forcing him to strip out his car. Shaken, McGirr located a local priest who stood with him. The RIR, frustrated by the appearance of this witness, petulantly threw away McGirr's car keys.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1