The following article was written by ,ex-POW and former blanketman, Alec Mc Crory and tells of his and his family's recent experience at the hands of the PSNI
Last Sunday afternoon I was bringing my wife and two daughters, 11 and 2 year old respectively, to the cinema at the Kennedy Centre. On the way I called into the local garage for petrol and a newspaper. When I returned to the car my oldest daughter drew my attention to two police land rovers circling the garage like vultures waiting to swoop on some unsuspecting victim. However, she and I both knew who they were waiting for and we were not in the slightest bit surprised. My family have become accustomed to this type of special treatment from the new police service with their fine manners and sense of civic responsibility.
I was followed a short distance before being flashed to stop on the bypass. One of our finest new policemen, fresh from his passing out ceremony by the look of him, approached the driver’s door and informed me that I was being stopped under the Justice & Security Act. Of course, I demanded an explanation for this blatant act of harassment and he simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “I’m only doing my job, sir.”
“If you have a problem take it up with the Ombudsman,” says he. Some of the older RUC types had a giggle at his expense as I proceeded to give him a tongue lashing. That I had my wife and two young daughters on board didn’t cut me any slack with this young prodigy.
My family and I were hastily ordered out of the car onto the side of the road. Under section 21 & 24 my car was searched for munitions and wireless apparatus then, as my wife held our two-year-old baby in her arms, I was also searched for said items. The young constable looked slightly miffed whenever I refused to open my car bonnet or to raise my arms for the body search. Clearly unprepared for such a challenge to his authority, he took to his task with even greater gusto. Suffice to say, nothing was found and I was free to go.
The above experience has become common place for some republicans and their families. Normal activities such as going to school, attending the hospital, visiting a grandparent, have become fraught with anxiety and fear of being stopped and searched by heavily armed policemen. On one occasion the attitude of the police was so openly aggressive towards me that my daughter was left trembling on the street on the verge of tears. Now every time she sees a land rover she tenses up and prepares herself for the worst. I fear these unpleasant experiences are having a negative impact on her development leading to a deep resentment of those who are tasked with upholding “law and order” in our society.
The policy of legal harassment of republicans and their families must end. According to CAJ there is no enhanced protection for minors written into the legislation, an incredible omission when one considers the implications. What my daughter endures each time she is stopped with me is, in my opinion, a form of child abuse. This approach to policing dissent is counterproductive and seriously undermines the argument for an impartial, civic orientated police service: an argument which remains as unconvincing today as it did with the onset of Patton.
Finally, the children should not suffer for the perceived sins