Republican News · Thursday 22 June 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Brits `kidnap' priest

A CATHOLIC priest, arrested in a dawn raid by British troops in West Belfast during one of the biggest house-to-house searches in several years, is sueing the British Ministry of Defence for false imprisonment.

Father Des, known locally as the people's priest, lives in Ballymurphy and does community work in the area. At 6am on 29 October last year, as part of a major operation involving the searching of homes, British soldiers raided Father Wilson's Springhill Avenue home and arrested him uner section 14 of the Emergency Provisions Act on suspicion of being a member of an `illegal organisation'.

Father Wilson was taken in a British Saracen to Springfield Road Barracks where he was put in a half-curtained cubicle and told to sit facing the wall. Later, he was questioned about his involvement in the Catholic Church and was asked if he was a practicing Catholic. He was also asked if he drank, what he thought about drinking and what he did for recreation.

Father Wilson was then photographed and when he was put in the cublicle he was ordered to stay awake when he attempted to rest his head against a wall.

A Lance Corporal in the Duke of Wellington Regiment said in evidence that he was assigned to the arrest by senior officers in the intelligence section of his company, which was based in Henry Taggart Barracks, one of four major military installations within a square mile of Ballymurphy. They suspected that Father Wilson was in the IRA!

Brigadier Rosbotham, overall British Army commander in Belfast, admitted in court that a mistake had been made.

Phoblacht, Saturday 21 June 1980

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