16 January 2006

Parents to lodge complaint with Ombudsman after CS gas claims


A Shaws Road resident said he will be contacting the Police Ombudsman’s office today following an incident on Saturday night in which a 10-year-old boy was sprayed with CS spray by a PSNI officer.
Peter Tubridy had been on his way to the shop at around 10pm when he claims he was grabbed by a member of the PSNI and threatened with arrest.
Neighbour Jim Connolly, whose 12-year-old son was also injured, witnessed the incident and described how he was also sprayed as he went to plead with the officer to let Peter go.
“I had been in the front room with my son Stephen just playing a game on the computer when I saw cops running up the street.
“When I went out to see what was going on I saw one of them had young Peter up against the railings with his hands behind his back.
“I went over and told him that Peter was only ten but he turned round, told me to stand back, and then sprayed me full in the face with CS spray."
Incapacitated by the spray, Jim says he had to hold onto nearby railings to make sure he didn’t fall over.
He maintains that the PSNI were in no danger when they used the CS spray.
“They were under no threat from me or anyone who I saw. There were about 30 cops and only three adults.
“I was out in my flip flops and vest, all I wanted to do was let them know that Peter was only ten years old."
Jim’s 12-year-old son Stephen was also hit with the spray when he went out to help his father after seeing him struggling to stand.
Stephen’s mum Brenda says she has had to have him on a nebuliser since the incident because of the reaction he had to the CS spray.
“You couldn’t breathe in the house because of the smell of them when they came back in.
“I wasn’t even out of the house and it was affecting me.
“Stephen has been on the nebuliser ever since to help him breathe."
Peter’s mum Maura Tubridy said when she went out to look for her son after hearing he had been arrested that the scenes were like “30 years ago."
Sinn Féin councillor for the area Gerard O’Neill was on the scene when the trouble broke out and condemned the PSNI for their handling of the situation.
“From what I witnessed I believe the PSNI have a lot to learn from Community Watch about local policing.
“The actions of the PSNI last night fly in the face of what good policing should be.
“If there are problems in this area they need to be dealt with in a way that does not see 10-year-old children assaulted.
“If this is what they call a policing strategy then they are very wrong," he said.
In a statement released a PSNI spokesman said they had been attacked while responding to reports in the area of under age drinking.
“Around 10pm on Saturday police were responding to reports that a group of 10 to 30 teenagers aged between 14 and 19 years of age were drinking and causing an annoyance to residents.
“A police vehicle was attacked by stone throwers and as police arrested a 19-year-old man at Rossnareen Park, a group of around six males in their late teens attempted to pull him from police.
“A number of additional police vehicles may have come under attack from missile throwers at Shaws Road and Corrib Avenue as two males in their late teens were being arrested.
“Attempts were again made by around six males to pull the two males from police.
“One officer was assaulted in this incident but was not seriously injured.”

Journalist:: Evan Short

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