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News ::
Just Normal Times in Northern Ireland
03 Apr 2002

Having a bad day? Well, you could live in Northern Ireland, you know. As the Protestant marching season got underway rioting erupted on the streets of Belfast. Bricks, bottles, fire bombs, and the like were hurled and a Catholic teenager was stabbed three times in the head by Protestant youths. Earlier a woman was set upon by Protestants, who attacked her as she sat in her car. After both attacks, the youths fled to an area of North Belfast controlled by the Ulster Democratic Association, the largest loyalist paramilitary group. Sinn Fein councillor Eoin O'Brion said the latest wave of violence began when a loyalist mob attacked Catholic houses in Park End Street. Several nationalist residents, including a Sinn Fein councillor, were attacked by police in riot gear. As youths clashed in the area, innocent Catholics living on the stretch of road were targeted by heavily armed police who broke into their homes.

In an incident which is causing quite a stir, a Catholic women, Donna Miskimmon was dragged from her home and beaten behind a police vehicle. What the police were unaware of was the fact that the incident was being videotaped. A local Sinn Fein councillor, Gerard Brophy, was also beaten by officers as he tried to calm the situation. As he showed the tape publicly for the first time, Sinn Fein Assemblyman Gerry Kelly said: "If this was any other country in the world this would be a scandal of massive proportions." Mr Kelly said the video was being forwarded to Nuala O'Loan, who investigates all complaints against the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), formerly the RUC. "The video will be posted to the police ombudsman," he confirmed. "It will also be given to the Irish government, the British Government and to America. People need to see what nationalists in north Belfast are going through." Miskimmon said she had been trying to find out what had happened to her son when she was hit, arrested and later charged with riotous behavior. "I was only trying to protect Christopher, my 15-year-old boy. There was no call for what happened," she said. A police spokesman said no comment could be made on the complaints.

In another instance of police terror, police burst into the Derry home of Cathy Nelis and terrorized her family. Cathy Nelis said the first members of the family knew about the search was when the police personnel burst into their bedrooms. She said: "My youngest child aged two was in our room but the older child was in her own room and I could hear her screaming with fear. "I tried to go and comfort the child but I was prevented and told to stay where I was. "It was only after an argument that I was allowed to go and get the child to comfort her." She said: "I wanted to go down the stairs to get a bottle to comfort the child but they wouldn't allow this. "I wanted to try and dress the children but again they wouldn't let me. The Derry mother said she was not allowed to get dressed herself for more than an hour and even when she was given permission, she was followed by a police woman. When her mother, local Assembly woman Mary Nelis, arrived outside her house, she was refused entry. Sinn Fein M.P. Martin McGuinness was also refused entry to the house and when he tried to intervene on behalf of Mrs. Nelis, he was curtly dismissed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) member in charge. Cathy Nelis said that among the many items removed from the house were her children's videos, shoes and many personal documents. The front door of the house was also smashed in during the operation. Cathy Nelis said: "This was just done to intimidate and strike fear in people. There is no reason whatsoever why they could not have knocked at the door like any civilized being would have done. "Instead they had to smash it down, scaring the life out of my children in the process."
Sources: Irelandís Own, Irish Abroad, Belfast Telegraph, Derry Journal News, Irish Independent, Irish Republican News and Information

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