19 July 2001 Edition

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RUC brutality in Ballycastle

RUC members and loyalist bandsmen injured ten nationalists involved in a protest against an Orange march through Ballycastle, County Antrim last Thursday 12 July.

According to Sinn Féin spokesperson Charlie O'Neill, six of those injured had to receive hospital treatment while a further four received on the spot first aid treatment. Some of those injured were bitten by dogs.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, O'Neill explained that nationalists had gathered at Altananam Park at the top of Ballycastle to protest against an Orange Order parade through the mainly nationalist town when the RUC moved in.

The Sinn Féin representative accused the RUC of provocation, saying their heavy handed tactics were an attempt to provoke a riot.

Said O'Neill: ``The RUC were dressed in riot gear from the beginning and were using dogs. They also targeted those who were stewarding the protest and of the first six injured, five of them were stewards. Indeed, each time the stewards stopped some local youths, incensed by the RUC's actions, from throwing stones at the RUC and marchers, the RUC batoned charged into the estate and aggravated the situation.''

It was when the Orange parade was passing Altananam Park that the RUC moved against the protesters and pushed them into the estate, inflicting the injuries. Orangemen and members of the bands also threw missiles at the nationalist protesters, wounding a further four people.

One loyalist bandsman who came into the nationalist estate and attacked residents was arrested by the RUC but was released immediately.

``The people of Ballycastle don't want these parades as they bring nothing but disruption,'' said Charlie O'Neill. ``Added to that is the fact that these bands flaunt UDA and UVF flags, despite the record of these gangs in killing Catholics.''

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1