PSNI stop and search ‘held up hearse’- claim

Derry City & Strabane District Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly. DER2114MC153
Derry City & Strabane District Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly. DER2114MC153

A man has said that a funeral party and a Fire & Rescue vehicle were among those delayed while his vehicle was stopped and searched in Derry.

The man said he was driving along Marlborough Terrace on Wednesday morning when he was stopped under ‘terrorism legislation’.

He said that because he is a known republican such operations have become an almost daily occurrence.

The man said he had passed the same police on Creggan Road minutes before they returned and stopped his vehicle.

“They held the traffic up across the whole area and it’s a very busy area,” he said. “There were four car loads of them.

“There were drivers there getting very angry, roaring and shouting. There was an emergency Fire Brigade and they had to pull up on the side of the road at that point and there was a hearse, somebody getting buried, which can’t have been very nice. There was a bin lorry and traffic held up all over the area.”

The man, who has asked not be identified, said the police at the scene quoted terrorist activity and the threat of terrorist in the Derry area as the reasons for the stop and search.

“We are all the same, they are constantly doing this to Republicans,” he maintained.

“Last night was the same with me and another fellow, and also the night before. It is steady 24-7 and it has been going on for years.

“They even come down and look in your windows, even at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Speaking about the episode on Marlborough Terrace, Independent Derry-Strabane Councillor Gary Donnelly claimed that this and numerous similar stop and search operations were prime examples of the oppression of people going about their business in the city.

He said: “This is an example of the PSNI as an oppressive occupying force and it is far removed from the smiles and PR spin of their hollow Community Neighbourhood Policing facade.”

Colr. Donnelly added: “There are people who advocate for Nationalists to join this force, but this proves they are just an unreformed section of the Crowned Forces and nothing has changed.”

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman responded to the concerns raised by the local man: “Anyone with a complaint about police actions should contact the office of the Police Ombudsman.”

Under the law, people can be stopped and searched or stopped and questioned under a number of legislative powers in Northern Ireland, including the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) (Northern Ireland) Order, Misuse of Drugs Act, Justice and Security Act and the Terrorism Act.

PSNI statistics for the period July 1, 2015 to September 30, 2015, 7,756 persons were stopped and searched/ questioned in Northern Ireland. Of these, 636 were subsequently arrested (8%).

In Derry and Strabane over this period there were 1,123 cases of people being stopped and searched. There were 76 arrests made as a results of the operations conducted locally.