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10 January 2002 Edition

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Teenagers accuse RUC/PSNI of bigotry

Two incidents, one just days before Christmas and the second on 5 January, saw RUC/PSNI members carry out acts of unwarranted harassment against teenagers in West Belfast.

In the pre-Christmas incident, two youths were stopped and searched after the RUC/PSNI accused them of carrying out burglaries in the Upper Dunmurry area.

The teenagers were walking home in the early hours of the morning of 21 December when they were held.

One of the youths was thrown against an armoured Land Rover and body searched while his companion was told to "spread" against a wall. The young lad's T-shirt was pulled over his face for the duration of the search.

Said one of the youths who spoke to An Phoblacht about the incident: "We didn't even fit the description of the alleged burglar. After the body search they let us go but before they left I accused them of harassment. One of the RUC/PSNI members said that if I didn't 'shut the fuck up you'll get a kicking".

As they were driving off, one of the RUC/PSNI members was shouting sectarian abuse from the Land Rover.

In the second incident, which occurred in similar circumstances along the nearby Stewartstown Road, a youth returning home was a night out was the target of RUC/PSNI abuse. The teenager was lighting a cigarette when an RUC/PSNI patrol passed by. The Land Rover stopped an the crew got out and accused the youth of using a laser pen.

One of the RUC/PSNI members forced the young lad's hands open and took his lighter and cigarettes from him. Satisfied that the youth didn't have a laser pen, the RUC/PSNI member threw his lighter and cigarettes back at him but before he got into the vehicle the youth accused him of being "a bigot in uniform".

At this, the RUC/PSNI man became very aggressive and threatening but when the teenager's friends arrived on the scene the RUC/PSNI patrol drove off.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Sean Paul Begley of Ógra Shinn Féin accused the RUC/PSNI of continuing its policy of harassment against nationalist youth.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1