18 February 1999 Edition
RUC target youth
A 19 year-old man from West Belfast has acussed the RUC of assaulting him as he left a Belfast city centre nightclub in the early hours of last Saturday morning.
The youth was dragged from a fast food resturant before being forced into the back of an RUC landrover by up to eight RUC men from the No 4 Belfast Mobile Support Unit. At least four people witnessed the incident and the youth sustained head injuries. RUC constables Haynes, Morrison and MacKinnon later claimed the youth either assaulted them or resisted arrest.
The young man was then taken to an RUC barracks where he was left handcuffed in a cell for over 90 minutes before he was transfered to Castlereagh and charged. The young man was also forced to give fingerprints by three RUC men, constables 3303, 3351 and 4751, despite being advised by a solicitor over the phone that he was not obliged to under the offences he was being charged with. During the fingerprinting the youth sustained a cut lip and bruising to his back, under his arm pits and to his wrists.
Meanwhile Sinn Fein councillor Francie Murray has accused the Craigavon RUC of attempting to recruit a local man as an informer. In a statement the young man claims that on 9 January he was arrested after being told he was unfit to drive and taken to Lurgan Barracks. After being left in an interview room for over an hour on the pretext that they were looking for a doctor, the young man was offered a solicitor. A lone RUC man then entered and told the man that in exchange for information they would ``go easy'' on him. Despite impounding the man's car no charges were laid against him.
A leaflet to be issued in light of the recent upsurge in recruitment activity by the RUC advises that ``for nationalists, it is vital to avoid contact and break the link''. Those especially vulnerable are people in financial difficulties; those experiencing stress or personal difficulties; those who have admitted involvement in petty crime or anti-social behaviour; people on driving charges, particularly `drink-driving'.
It advises people to never go to RUC stations unaccompanied and to always contact a solicitor as the first action.
Parents accuse RUC
A 14-year old boy's parents have accused the RUC of waging a campaign of intimidation and harassment against their son.
The boy's parents, who did not want to be named, said they are ``disgusted'' at the way the RUC have treated their son since he came to their attention following a rioting incident during last year's Lundy Day Parade in Derry.
According to the parents, the RUC approached the boy when he was walking through the town and suggested in an aggressive tone that he was going to go to prison. Afterwards, the RUC called to their house in the Creggan when, as the father says, ``a phone call would have done''. He believes this was done to increase the pressure on him and his family.
Local Sinn Fein councillor, Peter Anderson, called on the RUC to end its campaign of harassment against the boy.
Meanwhile, a 30 year-old West Belfast resident, Paul McKinley has accused the RUC of harrassing him last Thursday morning.
Paul McKinley was lying in bed when the RUC smashed through his front door with a sledgehammer and forced him to the floor at gunpoint as they searched for bomb-making equipment at his house on O'Neill Street. McKinley, who has never been involved in any political activity, cannot understand why he has been made the target of a vindictive 90 minute house search. ``They said they were looking for timing devices and detonators but it was just harassment,'' he said.
North Belfast Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly, who noticed the raid taking place while he was at a wake two doors down, asked to see the householder but was refused entry by the RUC. Kelly had to inform the RUC that a wake was taking place two doors down and was eventually able to get the RUC to move their vehicles, ``but not before many of those mourning for the deceased were seriously inconvenienced,'' he said.
Charm offensive continues
A questionnaire being distributed to homes and businesses throughout Mid-Ulster seeking the general public's view on the performance of the RUC has been described by Sinn Fein's Mid-Ulster chairperson, Paul Henry, as another ``transparent element of the RUC's charm offensive strategy''.
Henry said the Good Friday Agreement details the criteria for an acceptable policing service but the RUC do not come close to fulfilling any of them.
``The need for an alternative to the RUC remains paramount and no amount of cosmetics or window dressing will cover this up. The household survey is yet another attempt by the RUC to create the impression that this force is actually delivering a policing solution to the criminal activity which undoubtedly exists within our community''.
Henry classed this lastest tactic as a charade and said that the only effective response is to bin the questionnaire.
Meanwhile Sinn Fein intensified its ``Disband the RUC'' campaign by organising two weekend events in the South Derry area.
The first event was held at Bellaghy RUC barracks last Friday night and the second was held by Sinn Fein Youth in Maghera town centre on Saturday evening.