PSNI harass republicans

Sinn Féin Assembly member for West Belfast Fra McCann has accused the PSNI police of `engaging in a campaign of harassment against republicans'. Mr McCann's remarks come after homes in New Barnsley and Ballymurphy were raided this morning and one man was arrested.

Four homes in the New Barnsley and Ballymurphy area were raided by heavily armed PSNI members and one man was arrested.

Sinn Féin has accused the PSNI of continuing ``a well planned and deliberate campaign of harassment'' against republicans.

``We are told time and again by the SDLP and others that we have achieved a new beginning to policing. I would challenge anyone to explain the differences between this mornings operation and those carried out in this area by the RUC over many years.

``Sinn Féin will be raising these raids with the British government and I am demanding that the PSNI release the man they have arrested without delay.''

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing, Gerry Kelly, has claimed that remarks made by the SDLP member Alex Attwood after he met with the Police Federation ``vindicate completely'' the stance taken by Sinn Féin on the issue.

Mr Attwood had claimed that members of the Federation who are members of the PSNI were not committed to the Patten reforms.

``Sinn Féin have consistently said that the old RUC group which moved en masse into the PSNI, especially those within Special Branch, were a block to achieving an acceptable policing service,'' said Mr Kelly.

``The SDLP have consistently claimed that such an acceptable policing service had already been achieved.

``Alex Attwood comments yesterday vindicate the Sinn Féin position. He is now accepting that we do not yet have an acceptable policing service and that there are those within the PSNI resisting the creation of one.

``That is why Sinn Féin stayed out of the current arrangements and instead focused on negotiating with the British government on getting policing structures right.''

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