Following on from our conversations on Policing I recieved an e-mail from a collegue in Tyrone with news of the farcical trial of two Ógra Shinn Féin activists in Tyrone.
Fifteen months after their arrest, two Ógra Shinn Féin activists John McDermot from Strabane and Daniel Turnbull from Omagh have appeared in court charged with obstruction, disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest.
At the time of their arrest in September 2004 Sinn Féin in Omagh accused the RUC/PSNI of heavy handed tactics after a number of protestors were beaten with batons and the two arrested at a peaceful protest against a British Army PR exercise at the Silver Birches Hotel.
Both men were released after two hours following a protest in which 100 people blocked the main entrance to Omagh RUC/PSNI Barracks. Turnbull and McDermott appeared at Omagh Court House on Thursday 5 January.
In order to coincide with the appearance, Ógra Shinn Fein held a solidarity protest which also aimed to highlight ongoing political harassment by the RUC/PSNI. Omagh Town Councillor Martin McColgan, Sean Begley and Barry McElduff MLA attended the protest.
Ógra Six-County Organiser Barry McColgan said: "The ongoing harassment and intimidation of Ógra activists and young nationalists and republicans across the North and especially here in Tyrone is totally unacceptable. I would call on all the main political parties and right thinking people to condemn this ongoing campaign of politically motivated harassment. We demand an end to this political policing."
The verdict on the trial of the two Ógra activists will be announced onWednesday 18 January.
I wish the two lads all the best and I know that this whole exercise is complete rubbish designed to harrass and intimidate young Republicans. This incident and incidents like it will have an effect on the Policing debate within the Republican community.
These two lads are the type of people who will be asked to join any new policing structure and young Republicans in general will be asked to endorse and support any accepted force. It will not be the old men and women who will be joining a new force, it will be the youth. Their views should be respected and listened to.
Failing to do so would be foolish in the extreme!
For any new police force to be acceptable to Republicans we need an end to Political Policing, an end to the Securocrat agenda.
Until this happens there will be no support for any police force