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South Down MLA harassed at PSNI checkpoint

16 August, 2004

Sinn Fein's Equality and Human Right's Spokesperson Caitriona Ruane MLA has condemned the PSNI for continuing to harass people in nationalist areas of South Down.

Ms Ruane said:

"Last week I experienced first hand the 'new beginning' to policing when I was stopped and held at a joint British Army/PSNI check point. When I asked what legislation I was being stopped under the PSNI officer rather glibly explained 'legislation, just emergency legislation'. It was obvious that he was unable to clarify what specific 'emergency legislation' I was being stopped under and his manner became increasingly abrasive when I asked why I was being harassed.

"Perhaps it would be an idea that before being sent out to target nationalist communities members of the PSNI should at least know what piece of draconian legislation that empowers them to intimidate and annoy innocent people.

"While I am aware this incident is well down the scale of harassment nationalists have experienced throughout the past 30 years it does provide further evidence of the daily treatment that nationalists are still experiencing at the hands of the PSNI. Castlewellan recently hosted the very successful Celtic Fusion festival where thousands of people enjoyed a host of events. There was no trouble and certainly no need for joint PSNI/British Army checkpoints stopping people as they entered and left the town.

"It is clear there is still much work to be done before we have the new beginning to policing that was envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement. I have taken the details of the officer involved and will now be raising this matter with the Police Ombudsman and the British/Irish Intergovernmental Sectariat and both governments. ENDS

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