AP 3 - 2022 - 200-2

31 July 1997 Edition

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Crown forces urged to call ceasefire

Sinn Fein Cookstown District Councillor Finbar Conway has demanded the British Army and RUC ``call a ceasefire in their campaign of harassment against the nationalist community of Pomeroy.''

Conway is one of a number of Sinn Fein councillors, from across the Six Counties, who have highlighted incidents of harassment of nationalists by crown forces since the IRA's renewed cessation last week.

Conway was critical of an operation around Pomeroy which lasted a week and only ended on 25 July. ``Families in the Tandragee, Thornhill, Corrycoar and Tirnaskea Road area had to put up with a real nightmare, a full-scale military invasion which involved hundreds of troops and much helicopter activity'', reported Conway.

The councillor added that, ``the area was effectively under martial law for a week. People going to and from work were body searched and detained on the roadside for hours on end. It was community punishment''.

A large group of Omagh residents held a demilitarisation picket outside the town's RIR camp on the Derry Road on Friday 25 July. Displaying banners highlighting the new opportunities for peace they called for a complete demilitarisation in the North.

Sinn Fein Councillor Francie Mackey pointed up the contrast between the IRA cessation and the British military presence. Omagh town is one of the most heavily militarised garrison towns in the North, with heavily fortified British Army, RIR and RUC bases. Mackey thanked the picket organisers, and urged nationalists to take possession of the peace process.

Derry Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal Crumley has also criticised the increased harassment of nationalists in the Creggan and other areas of Derry.

Crumley attacked the crown forces who set up vehicle checkpoints in Creggan within hours of the resumption of the IRA cessation and which were mounted frequently since the cessation.

``They sought to search almost every car, monitor residents and target republicans'', stated Crumley.

Lisburn Sinn Fein Councillor Michael Ferguson has highlighted the dangers nationalists are currently facing from provocative crown forces activities.

Ferguson has raised the issue of a young man seriously beaten by the RUC on 7 July, in the wake of the Drumcree disturbances. The man was denied hospital treatment for his injuries, and subjected to extreme sectarian abuse from a hospital porter.

Colin McCaffrey who ended up being charged with assault and riotous behaviour was assaulted three times that night by the RUC, and taken to Lagan Valley Hospital. He entered the hospital barely able to walk, yet was not offered any wheelchair. A porter then told the RUC they should ``shoot two of them dead and that will stop them.''

McCaffrey's injuries included a broken nose, open head cuts, bruising and swelling on his nose and face, and concussion.

Ferguson has written to the Chief Medical Officer at Lagan Valley Hospital to investigate the allegations.

The Poleglass councillor has also raised the case of a young nationalist Sean Bradley, who was arrested outside Woodbourne Barracks for ``allegedly obstructing a search,'' when the RUC failed to open a false pocket stitched into his coat. Ferguson described these incidents as worrying, saying ``It appears the RUC are intent on provoking a response from people in order to instigate riot type situations and put pressure on the IRA cessation.'' He further called for the RUC to withdraw from nationalist areas, end their harassment campaign, and commit themselves to securing the peace process.


An Phoblacht
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