Catalogue of violent attacks by RUC
By Laura Friel
A Celtic football shirt appears to be like a red rag to a bull to some members of the RUC. It's not always such plain sailing for a bigot and racist to identify their target in the North of Ireland. For the average RUC officer any difficulty can usually be overcome with a little detective work.
A name and address is usually sufficient to alert the questioning RUC officer to your religion and ethnic identity. But lets face it, if you're a taig, wearing a Celtic football top is a dead, potentially even deadly, give away.
In Belfast city centre last Friday afternoon when an RUC mobile patrol spotted a 13 year old school boy wearing a Celtic football shirt walking down Fountain Street their response was predictable as well as immediate
The two RUC officers travelling in an armoured car followed the boy into Queen Street. Here the boy was stopped , searched and arrested. The unaccompanied minor was then taken to Musgrave RUC barracks where he was held and interrogated. The boy was charged with littering and then released.
``To stop, search, arrest and interrogate a 13 year old and then charge him with littering is ridiculous,'' said West Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Fra McCann, ``in an even more sinister twist on route to the barracks the boy was intimidated and told by one of the RUC officers to cover the Celtic top he was wearing.''
This incident is only the latest in a series of RUC attacks on young people wearing Celtic tops. Just over three months ago two RUC officers were jailed and two other members of their patrol fined for their part in a sectarian assault on a young nationalist from North Belfast.
Catholic teenager Bernard Griffin had just left Ardoyne GAA club and was queuing at a chip van when he was confronted by an RUC mobile patrol. The fact that he was wearing a Celtic top, Bernard believed, was a significant factor in the RUC's decision to single him out for abuse.
Bernard was arrested and during the journey to Antrim Road RUC barracks, he was brutally beaten in the back of the RUC Land Rover. The teenager was subjected to sectarian abuse which included references to the Celtic football top he was wearing at the time. One RUC officer also threatened to have Bernard shot dead by the LVF.
In February this year, another young man from North Belfast, Alan Lundy Jr.was wearing a Celtic top when an RUC officer in the front passenger seat of an RUC Land Rover stopped and questioned him as he was walking along Fitzroy Avenue, in the University area of South Belfast.
Alan was beaten unconscious with the RUC kicking him when he was on the ground. The RUC officers stripped off his jacket and shoes and threw them away before dragging the stricken youth along the ground and throwing him in the back of the Land Rover. As he was being dragged, one RUC officer bit Alan in the hand.
Alan was held in Donegall Road RUC barracks for several hours before being released without charge. In hospital be received treatment for bruising and severe lacerations to his face. He was also given a tetanus injection for the bite wound.
In the most serious incident in August 1989, 15 year old Seamus Duffy was shot dead by an RUC officer who fired a plastic bullet at close range. The North Belfast schoolboy was wearing a Celtic top at the time he was killed.
At the inquest the RUC produced video footage of youths throwing stones. A claim that one of the stone throwers wearing a green and white striped top was Seamus Duffy was dismissed by the jury. Seamus and a companion had been walking home when an RUC vehicle came into Sheridan Street.
The RUC claimed they were unable to identify which of two RUC officers travelling in the back of the vehicle fired the fatal round. In 1990 the Director of Public Prosecutions Prosecutions decided no action would be taken against any RUC officers involved in the killing.
Meanwhile a helmeted RUC officer caught on television footage head butting a nationalist in Derry was fined after pleading guilty to assault. Last week Graham Smith of Portglenone RUC barracks became the first RUC officer to be convicted on the basis of video evidence.
In Belfast RUC officer Paul Ross was found guilty of assaulting Short Stand nationalist Christine Brennan during a HSS Stena crossing to Stranraer last year. A row had ensued after the off duty RUC officer made sectarian comments to an employee of his brother's security firm about her Catholic boyfriend. The RUC officer bit Christine Brennan on the ear after his remarks were challenged by other ferry passengers.
Commenting on the most recent incident, Sinn Féin Councillor Fra McCann said, ``Two weeks ago we were faced with violence and road blocks by members of the Orange Order and their supporters while the RUC stood by and allowed such antics to continue.''[p]
``Contrast their attitude to the Orange Order to the actions against a 13 year old nationalist and we can see clearly why a repackaged RUC will never be acceptable to the nationalist people.''