Anger over PSNI search

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

INDEPENDENT Councillor Davy Hyland has said he will be contacting the Police Ombudsman after 15 members of his canvassing team were stopped and searched by the PSNI.
At 8.15pm last Wednesday (April 30), as Mr Hyland and his team were about to canvass in Shandon Park, they were pulled over by police and held for 40 minutes. Mr Hyland explained that he was the only male member of his team that was not searched and questioned by the police. Five women who were travelling in the convoy were not searched either.
“I'm going to contact the Police Ombudsman and register an official complaint," stated Mr Hyland. "I'm looking an independent investigation into the matter because I've looked around other areas and, especially in Newry, I know that there hasn't been any other political party affected in this way.
“I was in the second car and a police car came after the first car with their horns blazing and lights flashing. By the time we arrived two police cars had surrounded the first car.
“There were three people in that car and they were being ordered out, fairly aggressively, to be stopped and searched.
“The did say they were stopping us under Section 21. I explained that we were involved in an entirely legitimate political process and that I was a candidate for the forthcoming elections and that they were a part of my election team.
“We were all wearing high-vis election bibs and we had election literature and I showed the officer that but it didn't make any difference.
“I asked why he was stopping us and he said 'I'm not stopping you, I'm stopping this man in the car'. They proceeded then to stop and search all the other male members of the team, excluding myself.
“I said would you do this to any other political party? Conor Murphy and the Sinn Fein team were in Shandon Park at the time and I asked are you going to stop those people?
“Again, he didn't answer and just said that that has nothing to do with it."
Mr Hyland also expressed his disappointment that the incident deterred him from canvassing in Shandon Park as he has a policy of stopping at 9pm.
“You have to canvass and you have to give out leaflets if you want to get elected and we were stopped from doing that. Part of that Section 21 is searching for explosives and firearms. None of the team was asked anything about that and they were just searched.
“They spent an inordinate amount of time doing it. If they wanted to do it they could have done it in five minutes, it didn't have to take that long." PSNI area commander for Newry and Mourne Andy Beck defended the police approach.
“I understand that the use of stop and search powers is a sensitive issue for many in the community. However, these powers are essential in keeping the public safe and are used only when necessary, to protect the community, and the police officers who serve it," he said.
“I would encourage Mr Hyland, or anyone with concerns about the actions of police in Newry and Mourne, to contact me so that we can discuss the matter and address any complaints.
“Alternatively, anyone with a complaint can contact the Police Ombudsman, who will conduct a full and independent investigation."

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