Republicans protest at Alliance HQ

Published Thursday, 11 August 2011
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Republican protestors have staged a sit-in inside the headquarters of the Alliance Party in Belfast over prison conditions.

Members of the Republican Network for Unity claim that the Justice Minister, Alliance Party leader David Ford, has reneged on a deal over strip searches in Maghaberry prison.

Following talks between the prison service and inmates last August, an agreement was reached to end random full-body searching before domestic and legal visits.

In a statement released hours before the incident, RNU spokesman Ciaran Cunningham said: "Given the growing crisis in Maghaberry Gaol, RNU again demand that the Agreement is implemented before the situation deepens.

"We also demand an immediate meeting with Mr Ford before the protest escalates further and seek a resolution."

Dramatic scenes outside Alliance HQ - republican protester resisting arrest.

UTV’s Sharon O’Neill on Twitter (@sharon_utv)

It is understood two people were removed from the building on University Street by police - they, and a teenager outside, were arrested as the area was cleared.

Mr Ford said: "This matter is being dealt with by the PSNI. We will be making no further comment.

"All Alliance Party representatives will continue to offer a service to constituents in an open and accessible manner."

He later described the incident as "clearly horrifying".

"It was worrying to know that people would abuse the open office (...) and abuse it in such a way that gave some concerns to members of staff," he told UTV.

Three people have since been charged in connection with the incident and are all due to appear in court on 7 September.

A 16-year-old boy faces charges of disorderly behaviour and obstructing police, while two men - aged 34 and 35 - are accused of behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Stephen in Ireland wrote (1,267 days ago):
So a sit down portest in Forde's words is clearly horrifying? Don't get that. Thought a sit down peaceful protest was the best way to protest. Clearly Now that he is justice minister he is redefining what a peaceful sitdown portest is. Not taking sides but if an agreement was made it should have been adhered to. But just remember folks this goes way beyond this protest as peaceful sitdown protests have now been redefined as "clearly horrifying" and thus are not to be allowed for any issue. Or is it just because they were dissidents??
the voice in ards wrote (1,268 days ago):
guilpin, i am sure that if the nazis had won the war you and your side kicks would not be allowed to come on here and spout your hatred,due to the brave men from around the world who gave their lives for freedom you have freedom of speech, but i know you have no gratitude for these men, so i find it insulting that you call people nazis, but you dont know any better, ignorance is a terrible thing.
joe in belfast wrote (1,268 days ago):
these dissidents are doing the same as PIRA, and look where their mouthpieces are today. these dissidents are saints compared to PIRA.....
the voice in ards wrote (1,268 days ago):
guilpin you make me laugh with your stupid nazi rubbish, i think that you come on here to wind us up?nobody for real could come out with such rubbish.
steve in belfast wrote (1,268 days ago):
Guilpin you seem to have a great hatered and disregard for the Nazis ! Shame the Republic didn,t hold your same views during the war !!!
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