Irish Republican News · March 28, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Constant harassment for ex-PoW with speech problem


A former republican prisoner who suffers from a severe speech impediment is afraid to leave his Belfast home because of constant harassment by the PSNI police.

West Belfast man Michael Mervyn was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 1993. He served seven years and was released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The 52-year-old said he has since returned to his home on the Twinbrook estate on the outskirts of west Belfast.

However, since 2008 the former prisoner, who carries a medical card explaining his communications problems, has been subject to constant harassment from the PSNI.

He has been arrested and charged with obstruction and resisting arrest after failing to give his details to police, who refuse to accept that he has a severe speech impediment.

Mr Mervyn said he had been stopped several times under section 24 of the so-called ‘Justice and Security’ act.

Despite producing a medical card asking people to be patient while he tries to speak, PSNI patrols have arrested him for failing to give his name and address.

In 2008 he appeared in court charged with obstructing police and resisting arrest. However, the case was thrown out after the magistrate heard details of his communication difficulties.

“When I get stopped I get all anxious and that makes my speech problems worse”, he said. “I’ve shown them the card I carry but they keep saying that’s not good enough.

“It’s embarrassing they laugh and tell me to ‘spit it out’ when I stammer. The more embarrassed I get the worse my speech gets my throat just locks and I can’t get a word out,” he said.

The former republican prisoner was recently followed from his house and then stopped just metres away and arrested, because he couldn’t tell police his address.

“That was the first time I’d been out the door in a month because it’s easier just to avoid them (PSNI). I’m a prisoner in my own home.”

Republican Network for Unity spokesman Carl Reilly said repeatedly stopping Mr Mervyn was in breach of equality legislation “designed to protect vulnerable individuals”.

“This man was sent to prison for being a republican, he was released, has tried to rebuild his life but he is now a prisoner in his own home.

“He has been put under severe strain as a result of this harassment”, he added.

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