12 September 2002 Edition

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Rigorous investigation demanded

Sinn Féin National chairperson, Folye Assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin has called for a rigorous investigation by the Police Ombudsman of the PSNI attack on Sinn Féin Belfast chairperson Paud Devenney. He made his comment afer the Ombudsman's office released a report on Monday saying that it had found no evidence to support allegations that RUC/PSNI officers injured Devenney in May.

Paud Devenney was beaten unconscious and left lying in a pool of blood in the Short Strand area of East Belfast. He was rushed to hospital where he required immediate neural surgery and intensive care. The PSNI had been called to the Short Strand area after loyalists threw blast bombs at nationalist homes.

Video recordings of the loyalist attack and subsequent the PSNI response show Paud Devenney trying to calm the situation after local residents were confronted with PSNI hostility.

"The Police Ombudsman is required to carry out a rigorous investigation of the attack of Paud Devenney, who was left in a critical condition after he was brutally attacked by a member or members of the PSNI as he attempted to calm the situation in the Short Strand," said McLaughlin.

Sinn Féin has called on eyewitnesses to cooperate with the Police Ombudsman. "We have said that people need to test its remit," said McLaughlin, "but clearly the local community are not convinced that the PSNI or the Police Ombudsman represents any break with the failed policing arrangements of the past."

Any independent or rigorous investigation of the incident would have included statements from the PSNI and clinical medical evidence would demonstrate not only the nature but the cause of the injuries received by Paud, McLaughlin pointed out.

"A fundamental problem remains that a conspiratorial 'wall of silence' not unlike the 'wall of silence' that surrounded the case of Paud's namesake Sammy Devenney who was killed by the RUC in 1969 still exists," said McLaughlin.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Paud Devenney will be pursuing a civil case.

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