John Connolly, 32 di Newtownbutler ha dichiarato al Fermanagh Herald di essere da qualche tempo bersaglio di atti intimidatori da parte del PSNI, soprattutto nelle aree di Lisnaskea e Enniskillen. Atti nei suoi confronti, ma ancor più grave nei confronti di chi capiti si trovi con lui.
L’ex OC (Officer Commanding n.d.r.) del carcere di Maghaberry (a Lisburn n.d.r.), dove ha scontato una pena detentiva di 7 anni, ha dichiarato come al verificarsi di un attacco repubblicano nella zona, le attenzioni vengano rifersate tutte su di lui.
L’ultimo fatto è avvenuto nella notte di mercoledì 17 settembre quando, imboccando la Holyhill Road nei pressi di Enniskillen si è accorto di essere seguito da un’auto che gli puntava le luce abbaglianti. Temendo si trattasse di lealisti ha proseguito sino a trovarsi attorniato da altre 2 auto. Era la polizia. Gli agenti hanno puntato le armi attraverso i finestrini dell’auto suscitando una reazione isterica di una ragazza di 17 anni, figlia della proprietaria dell’auto in quel frangente guidata da John Connolly.
Ne è seguita la perquisizione sia dell’ex OC, che della ragazza (effettuata da un agente donna) che ne ha riportato un grave shock.
Nel mentre, un ufficiale di polizia ha dichiarato ‘non succede spesso di fermare il capo’.
John Connolly, pur pensado si intedesse fare riferimento alla sua carica di OC ricoperta tra le mura di Maghaberry, ha pretesto di mettere a verbale “Sono stato il capo, ma non ora. Sto cercando di andare avanti con la mia vita, e non voglio dover subire queste molestie “. Ha altresì dichiarato che se il PSNI avesse fatto uso delle sirene si sarebbe fermato, perchè è invece spesso capitato che simili circostanze si siano trasformate in meri attentati.
Il Fermanagh Herald per dover di cronaca ha chiesto spiegazioni al PSNI, il cui portavoce ha placidamente dichiarato di come si sia trattato di un semplice “Stop & search”, all’interno di operazioni previste per la notte di mercoledì in Enniskillen. L’ufficiale ha altresì invitato a chiunque si fosse sentito leso da azioni inadeguate perpetrate da agenti del PSNI, ad inoltrare degli esposti per permettere l’esatta valutazione degli accadimenti.
A former officer commanding IRA prisoners in Maghaberry claimed this week that the PSNI were deliberately targeting him, and those with him, at road stops, mainly in the Lisnaskea area but also in Enniskillen.
John Connolly (32) from Newtownbutler served a seven-year sentence from 2000-’07 after being convicted of possessing a barrack buster bomb with intent to kill members of the security forces. He was released in November, 2007 but, now, he claims that every time there is a dissident Republican attack, he comes in for special attention.
His latest run-in with the PSNI, who were wearing body armour and heavily armed, occurred near Enniskillen on Wednesday night, 17th September as he was driving a car belonging to a female friend. The woman’s 17-year old daughter was a front-seat passenger.
The female owner of the car told the ‘Herald’ she is concerned that her daughter was bodily searched despite her name and address having been radioed through to Enniskillen Police Station.
Mr Connolly said he was followed out of town by an unmarked car which then flashed its lights as he headed up Holyhill Road. Fearing it was Loyalists, he drive on until he was eventually hemmed in by two more vehicles.
“It was the Police. They ordered me out of the car. They were pointing their weapons in through the window. My passenger was in hysterics. I calmed her down and told her, ‘it’s me they’re looking to search’.
“The made my put my arms in the air and then on the car roof and they kicked my legs apart. I was then asked by one officer if I had anything sharp that might endanger either him or his colleagues and, when I said No I was asked, ‘where’s the rocket launcher?’ He then went through the whole list, claymore mines, AK 47’s, etc.
“It was general victimisation and harassment, but the more worrying thing was the girl being told, ‘it’s not often we get to stop the boss’. I took this to be a reference to my having been OC of the IRA prisoners in Maghaberry. But, I would like to put it on record, I was the boss but not now. I am trying to get on with my life, and I don’t want this harassment.”
Mr Connolly confirmed that the girl in the car with him was searched by a female Police officer./ As far as I can see, this is political policing at its worst. Is it because I disagree with Sinn Fein.” The girl’s mother said her daughter was distressed and very upset when she came home: “She thought they were going to be arrested and even shot.”
Mr Connolly said he would have stopped had the Police put on their sirens, but never for flashing lights: “I told them many’s a man has been gunned down in those circumstances.”
Mr Connolly and his young passenger were each given a cope of their ‘Stop and Search’ form, on neither of which is a name recorded of the searching officer, just their number and rank. We asked the Police Press Office to explain why a vehicle not belonging to John Connolly was stopped, if it had been followed on its outward journey, and why the young girl as searched despite her personal details having been radioed through.
A PSNI spokesman replied: ‘While we do not comment on named individuals, we can confirm that as part of a proactive policing operation, officers stopped a number of cars in the Enniskillen area on Wednesday. During this operation, the occupants of vehicles were spoken to’. If anyone feels the actions of police officers were inappropriate, we would encourage that individual to come forward to allow the matter to be fully investigated.
It is always open to individuals to make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s Office.