Protest after dawn operation to arrest elderly woman

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Sinn Féin has hit out after a 63-year-old woman was arrested by the PSNI police on Thursday following an early-morning operation in the Creggan area of Derry. Sadie Callan, an active Sinn Féin party member, was taken to Belfast for interrogation under new “terror” legislation.

The Eamonn Lafferty Cumman of Sinn Féin held a protest on Thursday afternoon outside Strand Road PSNI station in Derry in solidarity with their cumann member.

The arrest comes as 67-year-old Donegal republican John Downey is currently enduring a 72-hour interrogation following his extradition earlier this month. Arising from a hearing in Belfast this week, the PSNI were given up to three days to question him on matters unrelated to the current case against him.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Raymond McCartney described the latest arrest of Sadie Callan as “mishandled”.

“She would have suffered from ill-health in recent times and there is now an emerging picture from the PSNI in Musgrave that it’s a legacy arrest and a legacy issue,” he said.

“We feel that even the timing of the arrest, at 7 o’clock in the morning, the nature of it, could have been handled far, far, far better than this and, in my opinion, this is an error of judgement and, as you can see, in terms of public confidence, this does nothing for the republican and nationalist community in the city in and around policing.”

Sadie has since been released, but the PSNI have said they intend to bring a prosecution.

“This is the type of arrest that should have been happening differently,” added Raymond McCartney.

“This is a woman in her sixties who has suffered ill-health in recent times. In other circumstances, particularly with British soldiers, they have been arrested by appointment.”

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