5 April 2001 Edition

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Sinn Féin man's son assaulted

In a vicious and unprovoked attack, the RUC batoned the son of a Sinn Féin representative to the ground.

The incident occurred on Saturday night, 24 March, as 19-year-old Paul Braniff was walking along a street in Downpatrick with his 17-year-old cousin.

According to Francie Braniff, the Sinn Féin representative for Drumaness outside Ballynahinch, ``the assault was unprovoked and uncalled for.

``Paul was walking along the street at about midnight when an RUC patrol car stopped beside him and his cousin. An RUC member jumped from the car and hit Paul with a baton. Paul tried to defend and protect himself and ended up being arrested. He was held in Downpatrick RUC barracks until 8.30am on Sunday morning.

``This is not the first time my lad has been attacked by the RUC.In fact he has a case pending next month and is suing the RUC over a previous assault. When he was 16 the RUC beat him after they tried to move him and his mates off a wall for no reason,'' said Francie.

Paul Braniff has lodged a complaint with his solicitor.

VAST funding coup

Sinn Féin assembly member Alex Maskey with Marion Walsh, Breandan Lochlainn, and Cis Carabine of the VAST organisation (Victims and Survivors of Trauma) at a press conference announcing news that NIVT (Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust) and BRO (Belfast Regeneration Office) had granted them a funding package of £100,000.

VAST provides supports for the families of victims and survivors of the conflict and will use the money to establish three new posts within the organisation and to pay for a trauma therapy programme as well as running costs for the next two years.

Addressing the press conference, Alex Maskey spoke as someone who has suffered in the war rather than as a Sinn Féin representative. Marion Walsh, who also spoke to outline the work of VAST, is the mother of 17-year-old Damien Walsh, who was shot dead by loyalists on 25 March 1993.

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