Republican News · Thursday 10 July 1997

[An Phoblacht]

Residents battered in Bellaghy

The RUC attacked the people of Bellaghy and Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness the night after finishing their work on Garvaghy Road. Residents assembled peaceably to oppose the annual Orange parade through the predominately nationalist village. Hundreds of RUC and British Army flooded the village to corral residents in a tiny area, then surged forward trying to move residents back further.

Martin McGuinness was giving a radio interview to the international press, some 200 yards away from the main crowd, when he was attacked and struck by an RUC or British Army baton.

A disabled woman, Brí Ní Corraín, was knocked to the ground and injured her wrist. Meanwhile nationalist protestors were being battered by the RUC everywhere within range. After intervening for peace and calm, McGuinness continued the interview with blood dripping from his head wound.

Dismissing questions about his own injury, McGuinness said he wanted to talk instead about the RUC attack on the people of Bellaghy, which he described as ``a disgrace''.

Riot-clad RUC created a ``sterile zone'' between the Orange marchers and the local residents, but provoked trouble when they tried to push nationalists even further back. This marked breaking point for some frustrated residents, who hurled placards and banners at the RUC, who replied with batons and boots.

Defending residents' rights, McGuinness said people had every right to protest before the world when they were being abused, and to demonstrate their anger at the state's treatment of other nationalists at Garvaghy Road.

Jim Hasson, Bellaghy Residents Group spokesperson, warned the RUC to ``remember that this village belongs to local residents and will belong to us long after the Crown Forces have left.''

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