Creggan policing concerns raised with the Dublin Government says community worker Conal McFeely

Creggan community worker Conal McFeely, has raised concerns about how the area is being policed with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:28 pm
Conal McFeely

The community worker, who issued a scathing criticism of a policing operation on Thursday in which a woman was allegedly pinned to the ground by a number of officers, said Simon Coveney’s office has been contacted.

“We have been in touch with a number of organisations outside the city. This includes the Department of Foreign Affairs. We want them to support an investigation into what happened last week and to look at the wider issue of how the Creggan community is being policed,” he told the ‘Journal’ yesterday.

He was speaking after Creggan Neighbourhood Partnership (CNP) and Creggan Enterprises (CE) called for an independent investigation into the actions of the PSNI in the Ballymagowan area.

In a statement they claimed: “It has become clear that the PSNI are treating Creggan as a place apart – a testing ground for highly aggressive, unnecessary and inappropriate policing tactics which only serve to alienate this community even further.”

The PSNI said the operation was led by its Terrorism Investigation Unit with assistance from District Policing and Operational Support.

CNP and CE, however, have raised serious concerns about how the operation was handled. “Certainly mobile phone footage of some of these incidents, circulating on social media, supports these claims. Police engagement with Creggan residents saw two local men and a number of young people injured and a woman thrown to the ground and knelt on by several officers,” they claimed.

They further claimed: “A heavily armed police presence remained in the area throughout the day into the evening and incited large crowds of young people, building tensions in the community.

“CNP and CE are growing increasingly concerned at the nature of profiling which this community and its residents are facing.”

Chief Superintendent Darrin Jones responded: “The vast majority of the public welcome the action we are taking against those who are causing serious harm to the community. It was hugely frustrating and concerning to see that the disorder that broke out was being instigated in the background by people who clearly wanted to disrupt the search activity, an attempt which was unsuccessful.”

He added that it was disgraceful that young people were used to attack police, and also said police would meet with elected reps.

Chf. Supt Jones claimed: “We saw young people being used to confront police and as a result it is our understanding that two males, believed to be teenagers, suffered injuries. One suffered scorch burns while holding a petrol bomb and a second male was hit on the head with a brick that was thrown by someone else involved in the disorder.”

But CNP and CE claimed there was wider issue with policing the Creggan and warned “failed policies of the past” were “counterproductive to the notion of peacebuilding and conflict transformation”.

“The end result of these tactics is the creation of a sub-class of people, an entire community profiled and its public image/reputation blackened. A supposedly ‘end-justifies-the-means’ approach to policing this community is alienating a new generation and disconnecting them completely from all systems of governance.”