[Sinn Fein]

11th March 2002

Cllr. Martin Ferris beaten in custody

SF calls on Minister to rein in Gardaí and end political intimidation

Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle member Martin Ferris, who was assaulted by gardaí while detained in Killarney garda station today, has called on the Minister for Justice to rein in those guards in Kerry who he says are clearly out of control and engaged in a campaign of political intimidation against Sinn Fein in the run up to the general election. Cllr Ferris said:

"Over the last few weeks a small number of gardaí in Kerry have orchestrated a campaign of political intimidation and harassment against both myself personally and Sinn Fein. This has involved the arrest of six members of the party in the county - all of whom have been released without charge. These arrests are designed to undermine Sinn Fein's potential in the upcoming election and are an attack on the democratic process. "I myself was arrested in Ardfert this morning at 9.30am and taken to Killarney station. While I was being held I was assaulted by members of the Garda Siochána. This is an absolutely intolerable situation and an unacceptable breach of my human rights.

"I want to say that I believe that the silence of the government and opposition parties with regard to the behaviour of these gardaí is a total disgrace. It is not good enough for the government to say that it would be inappropriate for them to intervene. Unacceptable garda behaviour in Donegal necessitated the intervention of the government and I believe that it necessitates it here also.

"Tonight I am calling on the Minister for Justice to rein in these guards in Kerry, who are clearly out of control. And I will be seeking a meeting with him in the coming days to discuss the matter. I have also made a formal complaint regarding my assault in custody."

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