[Sinn Fein]

20th June 2002

Short Strand raids a cynical ploy by the PSNI

East Belfast Sinn Fein Councillor Joe O'Donnell has said that this morning's raids and arrests in the Short Strand area were a cynical attempt by the PSNI to portray the siege of the area as tit-for-tat violence and to demonise Short Strand residents.

Cllr. O'Donnell said:

``On the 11th May the Short Strand area came under attack from both loyalists and the PSNI. A number of pipe bombs were thrown by loyalists and the Chair of Belfast Sinn Fein had to undergo brain surgery after being attacked and beaten by the PSNI.

``Since then there has been an ongoing siege of the area by both loyalists and the Crown Forces with residents unable to attend the Doctors surgery or get to the post office, chemist and shopping centre. Residents have been hemmed in, by the British Army and PSNI,  for hours at a time while small numbers of loyalists block the roads. Homes have been attacked by stones, bottles, bricks, pipe and petrol bombs.

``The PSNI response to this has, once again, been to raid nationalist homes and arrest nationalists. Clearly, the PSNI are working to a political agenda, with this mornings raids being a cynical attempt to portray the siege of this area as tit-for-tat violence and to demonise the residents of the Short Strand.''

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