21 October 2005

'PSNI Tried To Recruit Me' - Claims 'Terrified' Derry Man

Derry Journal

Friday 21st October 2005

A Derry man who is heavily involved in doing charity work for various groups around the city has claimed that the PSNI subjected him to 'a terrifying ordeal' in an attempt to get him to act as an informer. David Houston said that his ordeal took place on a lonely country road outside Claudy on Wednesday night and said he is still in a state of shock after what happened.

He told the 'Journal' what occurred: "I go to Jordanstown every week as part of the course I am doing and I take it in turns with a fellah from Claudy to share cars. This week I left my car in Claudy and we went up in his so later I collected my car from Claudy and began my journey home at around 8.30 or so. "Just outside Claudy there was a PSNI checkpoint and I was flagged down and pulled into a side road. They asked me for my documents and while I had no licence with me I had insurance details which they said was fine. Then while one of them was at my window talking another one got into the car and sat in the passenger seat and said they wanted a word with me. "As you can imagine this was very frightening for me as there were six of them and only me on this road with not another car in sight. Then they asked me about a fellah (a well known dissident republican) and I said I didn't know him and they asked me had I fallen out with the 'boys'.

"I told them I did not know what they were on about. Then they started talking about the various charity work I had done and saying things like 'we saw you in the paper' and the like. They even went so far as to pull out a pile of notes and offer them to me for my charity work." Mr. Houston added: "I told them that I wanted nothing to do with them or their money and they said that they just wanted me to give them a wee hand. They referred to me collecting for republican prisoners which I have done on some occasions and they said they were interested in who attended the meetings about the prisoners.

"I again told them I wanted nothing to do with them but they kept repeating that they only wanted 10 minutes of my time. They then mentioned three republicans by name and said they were interested in finding out about them and would I keep an eye on them." Mr. Houston went on: "At this stage I was terrified because I was thinking that I was alone on a dark road with six cops and not another being around. The policemen then said that they wanted to have a chat with me at Jordanstown the next week and they asked had I a mobile. I said no but one of them said I did and they took it off me and took down the number. One of them then said that I would receive a call on Tuesday night from 'John' and they would arrange to meet me on Wednesday. "I am still in shock over what happened and I am terrified they could be waiting for me next week when I go to Jordanstown again." Michael Gallagher of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association hit out at the actions of the PSNI and said that everyone who called for support for the PSNI had to take some responsibility for what had happened to Mr. Houston.

He said: "Those advocating support for the PSNI/RUC cannot escape responsibility for incidents like this when a man going about his business was subjected to a terrifying ordeal at the hands of these armed thugs. "If you support the PSNI then inevitably you support this sort of activity where people are being forced to become informers. It was pressure like this that probably resulted in Gareth O'Connor becoming an informer and eventually he was found at the bottom of Newry canal.

"I would call on everyone who comes under this sort of pressure to go public immediately as not everyone is as strong as David Houston in resisting this sort of pressure." Repeated attempts to contact the PSNI press office yesterday proved unsuccessful.

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