23 May 2002 Edition

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Derry republican arrested

Sinn Féin has condemned the arrest of a veteran Derry republican in the Waterside in Derry RUC/PSNI on Thursday 16 May.

Sinn Féin organised a protest, on the afternoon of the arrest at Shipquay Street in Derry city centre. Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming, a brother of the arrested man, accused Special Branch of doing their best to disrupt the Sinn Féin election organisation in Donegal.

The arrested man, Gary Fleming, was working as Director of Elections for Padraig MacLochlainn the Sinn Féin candidate in Donegal and he was arrested on the eve of the election.

"This arrest, like all the others in Derry and Belfast is the RUC/PSNI trying to destabilise the peace process while ignoring the ongoing attacks by loyalists across the Six Counties," said Paul Fleming. "At a time of recurring pipe bomb attacks by loyalists on nationalist homes in North and East Belfast, the RUC/PSNI arrest republicans."

Republican memorial vandalised in Fermanagh

Loyalists are being accused of vandalising a republican memorial in the Fermanagh village of Belleek.

In the sledgehammer attack on Wednesday 8 May, the memorial to Volunteers Ciaran Fleming, Antoine MacGiolla Bhríde and Joe MacManus was badly damaged.

The monument was unveiled recently by the Sinn Féin MP for the area, Michelle Gildernew.

Unionists objected to the memorial while the families of two men, William Hassard and Frederick Love, killed by the IRA for working for the Crown forces, have claimed that it is an insult to their relatives.

"Nobody has a monopoly on suffering," Gildernew responded. "This is a failure to recognise that republicans have the right to honour their dead."

Fermanagh Sinn Féin councillor Pat Cox described the action as one of pure sacrilege and bigotry. He said the monument was neither an affront, disrespectful or a provocation to anyone."

Legal challenge to British Army

A ruling that the British Army acted legally, when it allowed two British soldiers convicted of killing North Belfast teenager Peter McBride to remain in the army is going to be challenged in the courts by British soldiers dismissed for lesser offences.

Madden and Finucane solicitors have appealed against a ruling by Judge Brian Kerr that the Ministry of Defence was not in breach of the law by allowing the two soldiers to remain in their regiment.

The appeal comes as the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry revealed this week that soldiers dismissed for lesser offences such as drug taking, are taking the first steps in a process that could see claims for unfair dismissal against the MoD.

Solicitors from Yorkshire and London have been contacting the centre seeking copies of the ruling after a number of British soldiers came looking for advice from their solicitors.

This move came after the Pat Finucane Centre backed a letter from the dead teenager's mother, Jean McBride, in the British press asking former soldiers to seek legal advice on their dismissals.

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