Policing controversy follows protest arrest
Policing controversy follows protest arrest

A young man who was arrested at a Sinn Féin protest rally outside a British Army barracks in Omagh was released on bail in the High Court in Belfast today.

Omagh man Daniel Turnbull was arrested by the PSNI and charged with ``collecting information likely to be useful to terrorists''. He had taken photographs of an Ogra Shinn Féin protest outside Omagh barracks a few weeks ago.

Sinn Féin MP for West Tyrone Pat Doherty described the arrest by ``heavily armed PSNI thugs'' was ``blatant political policing'' by the PSNI.

``This young man has now been remanded in custody by the courts for four weeks. This is a direct attempt by the PSNI to disrupt the Sinn Féin election campaign.

``They have clearly been aided in this by the Orange Judiciary who have no problem freeing loyalists caught red handed with weapons, while at the same time remanding in custody young republicans for photographing fellow party members.

He challenged Joe Byrne, the local SDLP representative and member of the Policing Board, to comment on this matter.

``Joe Byrne has often been to the forefront of the SDLP campaign to convince nationalists that this sort of political policing is acceptable. Let him speak now.''

``I will be contacting both the British and the Irish governments about this matter and I am demanding that this young man is released and these politically motivated charges are dropped with out delay.''

Daniel Turnbull was today released on bail of 750 pounds and ordered him not to go within 500 metres of any Crown force establishment or have any photographic equipment in his possession in a public place.


Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly set out the party's policing agenda at a press conference in Belfast this morning.

The North Belfast MLA said Sinn Féin had been central to discussions relating to the future of policing in Ireland.

``Sinn Féin put Policing on the agenda of the negotiations in 1997 and we insisted that this issue be directly addressed in the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin continues to pursue the agenda of radical change. We have made it a central plank of successive negotiations. The approach of our negotiating team has delivered substantial improvements on policing,'' Kelly said.

He said Sinn Féin continued to engage with the British Government ``to ensure that policing is democratically accountable and representative''.

Mr. Kelly also called for an end to the police Special Branch. ``The corrosive position of the Special Branch at the core of the current policing arrangements has to end. There can be no part in a new beginning to policing for the `force within a force' which has, as a matter of policy, been involved in the targeting and murder of citizens.''

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