West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Sinn Féin challenge PSNI over John Street Incident

Published: 17 December, 2012

Sinn Féin members of the Omagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) met with the PSNI last Thursday following concerns reported to the party's office regarding the different approach adopted by PSNI when dealing with two recent incidents in the town. One involved a group of young people in John Street and the other an illegal loyalist parade and demonstration which took place in the town. The delegation comprising of Cllrs Marty McColgan, Frankie Donnelly, Sean Begley, Sorcha McAnespy and Sean Clarke, also raised concerns about a loyalist demonstration planned for the same night.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Marty McColgan said:

"We had been informed in the early part of this week of an incident in the John Street area of Omagh in the early hours of Monday morning when a group of friends enjoying a bit of craic after a night out were the victims of a heavy handed approach by the PSNI. Given the seriousness of the charges levied against the PSNI by the young people, we requested to meet with the PSNI area commander.

"Subsequently a video emerged via Facebook detailing some of the heavy handed approach adopted by the PSNI on the night in question. The video showed the PSNI manhandling people and forcing them onto the footpath in a very aggressive manner, and shows one particular officer drawing his baton. No attempt had been made by the PSNI to ask the young people to step onto the footpath, indeed the PSNI claim young people were on the road but they clearly were not preventing the flow of traffic, all of which is clear to be seen in the video.

"The result of the incident has seen a number of young people being arrested and charged and one receiving injuries to his hand and arm. It is ridiculous to think that someone could end up with a criminal record as a result of this incident and we have advised the young people in contact with us to complain to the police ombudsman's office.

"If the PSNI are to build confidence within the wider community this clearly isn't going to help the process."

Also at the meeting was Sinn Fein councillor Sean Begley who added:

"The actions in the early hours of Monday morning are in huge contrast to the facilitation of a loyalist parade in Omagh the previous Thursday whereby loyalists were given a free hand to block roads and cause widespread disruption to the town. The different approach is certainly not lost on local people.

"During our meeting with the PSNI area commander we outlined our concerns regarding the Loyalist parade the previous Thursday in Omagh and how the PSNI had sat back and watched while the illegal demonstration took place and main roads were blocked. We also raised concerns regarding another loyalist demonstration planned for the same night. We are promoting the idea of shopping local and helping the local economy and need to be sending out a strong message that Omagh is open for business. People doing Christmas shopping shouldn't have to contend with a loyalist mob in Omagh Town centre."