Immediately local republicans travelled the short distance to see if we could help the victims, in particular the children.
As we got close to the scene it quickly became clear that there was little or no hope of us getting anywhere near the bus as we were faced with a massive presence of heavily armed militia members and British soldiers. they had the bus pulled off the motorway and then into a secluded layby hidden from view. Hundreds of motorists that drove past would have been oblivious to the terror that women and children as young as 4 years old were going through.
Here is what the outraged parents of the children had to say about the incident:
21 Children, Women and Men, returning to Belfast from a Sunday trip to Killmhanam Gaol were pulled off their bus yesterday at Banbridge at gun point by the PSNI /RUC. They were held at the road side for over two hours, all were searched for arms (including children), all were swabbed for explosives (including children) all were photographed (including children). Concerned onlookers and friends were threatened and turned away at gun point. Children cried and in fear wet themselves, mothers wept and fathers raged...nothing was found. Now compare this with the treatment of the UVF rioters in the Short Strand, and tell me the RUC have gone away!Another parent said:
A five year old boy wet himself while being searched by a TSG boiler suited ****! His father and mother had to be restrained by us. A group of the 12 children were crying uncontrollably as they were all searched by TSG members from Ardmore RUC station. There was British soldiers on standby with explosive swaps who wiped the inside and out of the bus and were testing them at a roadside lab lorry, they (the Brits) then took out tool kits and took out all the seats and the side panels of the bus, children had to watch as their parents and elderly grandparents were searched in front of them... I dare anybody tonight to attempt to tell me that the PSNI are heroes or that we should endorse these shower of filthy child abusing b******ds!!!!!
As soon as i got back home i immediately phoned a comrade who was on the bus to let him know that we tried to get to the scene to help but were prevented from doing this by gun weilding thugs. They were very grateful that we had tried to assist them. We made it clear that republicans from Newry will not be found wanting when it comes to standing up against these uniformed thugs.
I am one of the parents that was there, i had my 3 sons with me, this has left my youngest son traumatised, 4 years of age took off a bus by heavily armed men at gun point, videoed and photographed as he was getting of , he was then separated from me by the PSNI which caused the kids more distress, the child wet himself with nerves, the PSNI then held him on a grass verge for near 2 hours with the child soaked to the bone with his own urine . This was a well planned operation of intimidation by the PSNI, it started that morning at 8o'clock when the PSNI watched us board the bus in West Belfast, they knew that 11 kids 4 woman and 5 fellas were on the bus, they planned the operation for max intimidation, in all my days i have never seen as much PSNI, brit soldiers, plain clothes cops do a stop an search, there was a very sinister element to why the PSNI took it upon themselves to do this, on another point a PSNI man wrote my name and address on a bit of paper and put it in his pocket, i challenged him on it, and he told me it was for his personal use.The following is in todays Irish News
What makes this incident even more disturbing is that children were targetted as well as adults. Youngs kids being seperated from their parents by armed gunmen who then photographed and videoed them. Young kids wet themselves with fear and were forced by these gunmen to stand on a grass verge for 2 hours soaked in their own urine. THIS IS CHILD ABUSE
These kids will not grow up with a different perception of the PSNI. They have now experienced what older generations have experienced. They grow to hate the PSNI. The PSNI have just created a new generation who will grow to oppose and resist them.