Duffy arrest an exercise in persecution

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Prominent republican Colin Duffy, currently on bail awaiting trial, has overcome a cynical attempt by the PSNI to return him to jail over an alleged breach of his bail conditions.

Mr Duffy was arrested on Tuesday morning and taken to Musgrave Barracks in Belfast for an alleged breach of bail after the PSNI called to his house at around 6am. When no-one answered the door, they returned at 9am and arrested him on the basis of violating his bail.

The Armagh republican has endured a long and shocking history of harassment, false arrest and false imprisonment by the PSNI, and previously the RUC, stretching across four decades. For many years he was represented by the human rights lawyer, Rosemary Nelson, until she was assassinated in 1998 in a suspected act of RUC collusion.

Saoradh in Armagh condemned what they said was a “disgusting false arrest” and “blatant harassment of a family in mourning”. They said it was no coincidence the ‘bail check’ took place after the birthday of Mr Duffy’s recently deceased son, who died in a road traffic collision last July.

“Yesterday was a tremendously difficult day for Colin and Martine as it was their son Séanna’s 20th birthday; the first birthday since Séanna was killed so tragically last year, a fact known full well by the Crown Forces who have consistently acted in an outrageously deplorable manner towards the family while investigating the tragic accident which took Séanna’s life; and in fact to this day they have never told Colin, Martine or the solicitors acting on their behalf any of the circumstances of the accident that killed their son.”

At Belfast Magistrates’ Court, defence lawyer Darragh Mackin noted Mr Duffy had been up until the early hours comforting his other children over the painful birthday anniversary of Seanna, and that when the family eventually went to bed, no-one heard the door being knocked.

Saoradh also pointed out that Mr Duffy had been self-isolating at home in line with medical advice, along with all the members of his household, to prevent a coronavirus infection. But his arrest had put him in contact with “countless people who could have been in contact with Covid-19 putting him and his family at unnecessary risk during this pandemic.”

The judge released him under unvaried bail conditions, denying a PSNI request for electronic tagging. Saoradh concluded: “All the Crown Forces will have achieved by their actions is to confirm that they have an undeniable agenda fuelled by hatred.”

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