18 April 2002 Edition

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RUC/PSNI presence halts Derry Council meeting

A meeting of the Derry City Council Environmental Services Committee has had to be adjourned for a fifth time due to the SDLP's insistence on inviting RUC/PSNI personnel into the business of the Committee.

On Friday 12 April, more than 50 protestors gathered in the offices of Derry City Council to demonstrate their disgust at the presence of two known RUC human rights abusers at the meeting.

As the meeting commenced, Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan demanded that the SDLP Chairperson, Shaun Gallagher, explain why the pair had been invited to the meeting by the SDLP. In response, Gallagher adjourned the meeting and announced that the business of the committee would be conducted at the next full Council meeting.

Reacting to the protest, Gallagher accused Sinn Féin of, "fascist jackboot politics". In response, Sinn Feín assembly member Mitchell McLaughlin has called on the SDLP to take the policing issue out of Derry City Council.

Speaking to An Phoblacht McLaughlin said, "we have the SDLP talking about jackboot politics when in the last few weeks we have seen their friends in the RUC/ PSNI use their jackboot tactics to arrest and harass people of this city".

McLaughlin was referring to the raids on the offices of the ex-prisoners group Tar Abhaile and the offices of Cúnamh, from they removed confidential files relating to Bloody Sunday.

"The heavy handed manner in which these operations were carried out shows that the RUC/PSNI are still the same sectarian force", said McLaughlin.

Councillor Gearóid Ó héara said: "The SDLP have decided to support the current unacceptable policing arrangements. They are simply using their position of dominance in the Chamber to promote their party position on policing, and in doing so demonstrating that they value their support for the PSNI more than they value the work of the council."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1