Irish Republican News · November 21, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
South Down raids and arrests slammed

The arrest of eight people from Kilcoo and Castlewellan in South Down during the early hours of Tuesday morning has been slammed by local Sinn Féin Councillor and Assembly candidate Willie Clarke.

``Once more the people of South Down have been subjected to the sharp end of British State oppression,'' he said. ``The eight people arrested in Kilcoo and Castlewellan included a grandmother of 66 and the parents of nine young children, who were effectively orphaned for a period of 48 hours as a result of this operation.

``During the pre-dawn raids, a number of houses were searched and family members were subjected to verbal abuse. In an attempt to cause as much humiliation as possible, a woman was frog marched in front of her children where she was then handcuffed and bundled into a waiting Land Rover.

``These raids were nothing more than an intelligence gathering operation and were a crude attempt to embarrass Sinn Féin in the run up to the Assembly elections.

``All of the people detained are completely innocent of any wrongdoing and were released within 48 hours of their arrest.

``There is palpable anger at the British Army and RUC/PSNI, who have flagrantly violated the human rights of eight nationalist families who live in this locality. It follows a pattern of increased activity by British state forces that has involved the setting up of road blocks in Liatroim, Kilcoo and Castlewellan and the continued harassment of local people, including schoolchildren.

``The determination of the British Army and RUC/PSNI to target innocent nationalists contrasts with how tolerant they are of the many drug dealers who are plying their trade throughout South Down with impunity,'' added Clarke.

``Accountability and fairness are words missing from the vocabulary of the securocrats in the British Government, who at every opportunity seem determined to victimise and humiliate nationalists and republicans living in the Six Counties.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News