New policing campaign group to be formed

Tommy McCourt and Hugh Brady chair a meeting at the Bishop's Field Sports Centre grading policing issues. (0502Sl43)
Tommy McCourt and Hugh Brady chair a meeting at the Bishop's Field Sports Centre grading policing issues. (0502Sl43)

A new group is to be set up in Derry to monitor the actions of the PSNI after concerns about alleged harassment of dissident republicans were expressed at a public meeting.

The meeting, which was called by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, was held in the Healthy Living Centre, Creggan, on Sunday evening. It was chaired by Tommy McCourt and Hugh Brady from the Rosemount Resource Centre, and attended by several hundred people.

Mr McCourt said they were there to facilitate the meeting after concerns were raised following a number of house searches and other incidents, mainly in the Creggan area, in recent weeks.

A number of those present gave accounts of PSNI searches in their homes, alleging harassment and claiming they had been targeted because of their political beliefs. Several speakers also voiced criticisms of local community workers and the press.

Prominent 32CSM member Gary Donnelly called on community leaders to speak about police actions. “Where are the clergy? Where are the community workers?

“Are they afraid of losing their funding? No one is speaking out so it is up to us to speak out,” he said.

Mr McCourt proposed setting up a forum to address the concerns.

SDLP councillor Anne Donnelly said if she was supplied with a list of questions she would raise them with the Policing Community Safety Partnership (PCSP). “Adults can make their own decision but we have to draw the line at defenceless children.

“I don’t care what party I belong to, as an individual I will not stand by and see any children being harassed,” she said.

It was agreed that a further meeting will be held with a view to establishing a new campaign group.