20 November 1997 Edition

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Garda Special Branch continue to harass young republicans

Sinn Féin Youth has strongly criticised what it calls ``the unnecessary harassment and intimidation'' of its members. Over the last number of weeks Garda Special Branch detectives have stopped and questioned several Sinn Féin Youth members. The increase in harassment comes at a time when republican youth in Dublin are firmly establishing themselves as a well organised body.

In one incident on Wednesday 12 November, Branch members parked outside a UCD student's house and followed him to college. The student, who doesn't wish to be named, found the experience nerve-wracking: ``To be honest I felt very intimidated, but I certainly will not be leaving Sinn Féin Youth, so they failed on that score''.

Matt Carthy of Sinn Féin Youth claims that the gardaí are increasingly seeing a republican youth movement as a threat: ``In one sense we are quire proud that the Gardaí feel that our members should be constantly checked up on, but that does not mean we will allow this situation to continue. As far as we are concerned, our duty is to work towards a lasting peace without the interference of detectives trying to make the situation more difficult''.

Meanwhile, at a Sinn Féin Youth Organisation Group held in Dublin last week it was reported that membership of the movement has increased dramatically. Over 40 people attended the meeting and everyone contributed to discussion. Not surprisingly, a Special Branch crew were outside to welcome members as they left.

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