25 September 1997 Edition

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Sinn Féin Youth in RUC protests

by Eoin O'Broin

Several hundred Sinn Féin Youth activists last weekend called for the immediate disbandment of the RUC as they staged a series of demonstrations outside RUC barracks in north and west Belfast. The protests, which are the first of a number planned for the coming months, brought together young people of all ages, as well as veteran protestors, in a lively and colourful display of resistance.

On Saturday 20 September, at the Springfield Road Barracks just off the Falls Road, local youths gathered around 1pm. Displaying banners calling fro the release of political prisoners and the disbandment of the RUC, the crowd stood chanting ``SS RUC' for an hour before dispersing. Approximately 10 RUC and British army jeeps were stationed outside the station. Inside the RUC men shouted verbal abuse at the protestors. One RUC man played the sash from a portable tape player out of the sanger.

On Sunday 21 September, this time at North Queen Street Barracks, a similar crowd gathered to have their voices heard. Whistles, tricolours and banners brought a dash of colour to the usually grey and monotonous barracks. As Sunday drivers and massgoers passed by they honked their horns in support. Young children climbed the height of the barracks' metal cage and placed tricolours at the top, symbolically letting the RUC who really owns the land on which the barracks was stationed.

Speaking after the protests Sinn Féin Youth activist Niall O'Murchu said that the aim of the demonstrations ``was to remind the RUC that they are not wanted and will not be tolerated in our communities. For too long we have suffered harassment, collusion and murder, and we want it to stop.'' He said that more protests are being planned for Belfast, ``so watch out for details.''

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