Police and Eirigi at odds over Parkhead house search

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Monday, December 5th, 2011

Parkhead Crescent in Newry was the scene of a police raid on Friday morning.

A house search carried out by the PSNI last Friday has led to a war of words between the police and local republican group Eirigi. Eirigi spokesman Stephen Murney told Newry Times that child occupants of the house were allegedly held at gunpoint by the PSNI and one child missed an important school exam. This claim was however, dismissed by the PSNI. The Eirigi spokesman said, “I received a phone call from a concerned member of the public and immediately made my way to the scene accompanied with Independent republican councillor Davy Hyland. We went not only to show solidarity and support to the victims of this raid but to also actively confront the PSNI who were responsible for traumatising this family, including young children.” He continued, “When we arrived the PSNI had just left and we spoke to the mother of the kids. She explained to us that the PSNI placed them all under house arrest including her two daughters aged 10 and 12. As a result of this the children were unable to go to school and one of them missed her 1st year Christmas exam that she was due to sit that morning. A concerned neighbour also arrived and said she would take the children from the house and mind them so they wouldn’t be traumatised any further. The PSNI refused this and held them in the living room at gunpoint.” The Eirigi spokesman added, “In recent times we have seen numerous quarters commenting on the PSNI coming into schools to talk to the pupils about various topics. Yet on the other hand this force is terrifying school children by kicking their doors in and preventing them from going to school at gunpoint, and in this case forcing a young girl to miss her exam.” The PSNI however, denied all of Eirigi’s claims. Speaking to Newry Times the police said officers did carry out a search in Parkhead Crescent on Friday 2nd December. “It was in relation to investigation into alleged theft and handling stolen goods offences. A number of items were seized for further analysis and a male person was arrested, interviewed and subsequently released on police bail pending further enquiries. The man arrested was afforded all rights.” Newry and Mourne Area Commander, Chief Inspector Davy Beck said, “We have a responsibility to investigate all allegations and incidents of crime to the best of our ability. However the decision to search a home is never taken lightly and we make every effort to minimise the impact on the family and the wider community.” On Eirigi’s claim of house arrest he stated, “One person was arrested in this incident as part of the investigation into an allegation of theft however there were no restrictions placed on the remaining occupants of the house. Indeed, police encouraged the family to continue with their normal routine but the family chose to remain in the house.” The Chief Inspector added, “We can confirm that a neighbour did call and offer to take children to school and police at the house were happy to facilitate this, as is our practice in such circumstances, however the householder again declined this offer.”
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