13 October 2000 Edition

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RUC university propaganda stunts

Sinn Féin representatives Sean Hayes and Mary Nelis have objected to the RUC being allowed floor space at Queen's University in Belfast and Magee University in Derry to put on propaganda stunts.

In a statement Nelis, Assembly member for Foyle, said she would be raising her concerns with the Minister for Higher and Further Education, the SDLP's Sean Farren.

The RUC were allowed to put up a recruitment stall during an information day at Magee College in Derry attended by pupils from various schools from the Derry area.

``To expose nationalist schoolchildren to the propaganda and cosmetics of the RUC is an insult to a community which has been subjected to a sectarian barrage of abuse and violence from this paramilitary force throughout its history,'' said Nelis. ``I would question those school boards in nationalist areas who were informed that the RUC would be in attendance at this event and who voiced no objections. Such an attitude is irresponsible.''

Meanwhile, Sean Hayes has accused Queens Students Union of, ``undermining the promise of a new beginning to policing'' after allowing the RUC to have a stall at Freshers Day.

``I have been contacted by a number of students who were deeply offended by the presence of the RUC stall at Freshers Day,'' said Hayes. ``The RUC is not a student society, it is the most discredited paramilitary force in Western Europe and I am shocked that QUB students union would choose to give such an organisation space on their Freshers Day.''.

Hayes has also called on the SDLP to ``clarify its position on the RUC''.

His call came after SDLP councillor Margaret Walsh failed to support a Sinn Féin motion to Belfast City Council aimed at blocking RUC boss Ronnie Flanagan from addressing a council-organised conference on drug misuse.

Said Hayes: ``Sinn Féin attempted to pass an amendment ensuring that Flanagan would not be allowed to speak at next year's conference. The amendment was based on the fact that for years the RUC have used drug dealers as agents in their dirty war against the republican community.

``The RUC has no role to play in the battle against drugs. It is insulting of an SDLP representative to give the RUC any credibility on this issue. It also seems that the SDLP are sending out conflicting messages on the RUC. On the one hand we see senior party spokespersons saying that the RUC are unacceptable and a new policing service is required. Yet local councillors are quite prepared to give political credibility and cover to this force.''

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