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Castlederg Policing issue - Doherty seeking Nuala O Loan to attend Public Meeting

21 February, 2007


West Tyrone Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty has made a written request to Police Ombudsman Nuala O Loan asking her to attend a public meeting in Castlederg so as to appraise constituents of the complaints procedures available against PSNI officers who they believe to be operating in a partisan political manner.

The local MP has followed up a meeting he held with Nuala O Loan on Friday last with this request saying,

"I had requested Friday's meeting with Nuala O'Loan to discuss the relentless campaign of victimization being carried out by the PSNI against the nationalist community in Castlederg, and in particular, the campaign being waged against young male nationalist in the area.

"Apart from the PSNI adopting a consistently aggressive approach when dealing with people they clearly recognise as being from the nationalist side of the community in this area, this campaign has seen an unprecedented number of young nationalists being arrested and dragged before the courts- a number that bears totally no resemblance to the demographic make of the local community.

"In December 2005, hundreds of local nationalists were forced to protest outside Castlederg PSNI barracks such was the anger about the overtly partisan nature of policing in the area. However since that time the situation has, if anything, got progressively worse.

"Among the issues I raised with Nuala O Loan were some of the recent examples of this political policing by the PSNI in Castlederg including: interrogating and subjecting two young catholic school boys to a traumatic ordeal after wrongly accusing them of stealing from a local shop in the town in November and arresting nationalist youths at the behest of a loyalist crowd in December.

"I have now also received written confirmation from the Ombudsman's Office that following an earlier complaint I submitted in my capacity as MP, disciplinary action is now to be taken against a PSNI officer for 'facilitating' the progression of an Apprentice Boys parade along a stretch of the Lurganbuoy Road which had been prohibited by the Parades Commission.

"I believe that Nuala was seriously concerned about the situation in Castlederg and I trust that she will take up my request for her to attend a public meeting to appraise constituents of the complaints procedures available against PSNI officers who they believe to be operating in a partisan political manner.

"Perhaps her attendance at this public meeting will carry even more significance in that it will firmly shine the spotlight on what has been going on in Castlederg as will Sinn Fein's continued representations on the issue at the highest levels of both governments." ENDS

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