Saturday 17 February 2018

Border gang attempt to abduct man from shop

Appeal: Pauline Torley who has asked the Sinn Fein leader to intervene to lift the threat to her son
Appeal: Pauline Torley who has asked the Sinn Fein leader to intervene to lift the threat to her son
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

The PSNI is investigating a sinister incident in which three men assaulted and apparently attempted to abduct a 52-year-old man from a shop in south Armagh.

The incident was said to have happened last Sunday afternoon following an incident earlier in the day when the victim's car was almost forced off a local road.

According to local sources, the three men later spotted the victim as he went to a shop in Crossmaglen to buy newspapers last Sunday afternoon.

They followed him into the shop, assaulted him and attempted to drag him out to a car outside but gave up after a young female member of staff intervened.

The owner of the shop declined to comment when contacted last week saying he was not there at the time and did not want "to discuss anything like that".

Local sources say the three younger men involved come from well-known families associated with Sinn Fein and the "fuel" business in south Armagh.

Witnesses said that one of the men, from a "republican" family in the area, attempted to headbutt the 52-year-old in the shop during the incident.

After grappling with the man for some minutes, the three drove off as more local people began to gather outside.

It is understood the incident was part of a campaign against a number of local families who have been targeted by figures closely associated with the diesel laundering and smuggling business, which remains controlled by the local Provisional IRA.

Local people say violence has been directed against a number of families who have been caught up in what they describe as a campaign of intimidation and threats.

Two weeks ago the family of local man Eoin Kelly were told by the PSNI that there was an "active" threat to his life from members of this group, although the PSNI statement to his family did not mention any organisation by name.

This led Mr Kelly's mother, Pauline Torley, to appeal to the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to intervene to lift the threat to her son.

Mr Adams has not responded so far but local Sinn Fein MP Mickey Brady condemned the death threat and said anyone with information should give it to the PSNI.

In response last week, Mrs Torley said that she welcomed the MP's statement but added: "Sadly his condemnation is of no comfort whatsoever given the history of his party in these matters."

Mrs Torley pointed out that previously Sinn Fein had branded the innocent young local man, Paul Quinn, as a "criminal" after he was abducted and beaten to death by an IRA squad in October 2007.

Having received no response to her appeal to the Sinn Fein leader, Mrs Torley said: "Sinn Fein must do better than this."

Despite the repeated claims by both the British and Irish governments that there is "excellent" police co-operation in the Border area, local people say there is no proper policing in areas that remain dominated by the Provisional IRA and where it conducts its illegal operations of fuel and tobacco smuggling.

Crossmaglen station, only a hundred yards from the scene of the attempted abduction and assault incident, remains surrounded by high blast walls, the same fortifications put in place during the height of the IRA's campaign. Police also generally patrol the area in armoured convoys, often with British Army helicopters providing aerial cover.

Gardai and local people say that despite claims that "dissident" republican elements are responsible for terrorist and criminal activity, no group, other than the Provisionals, still operate in south Armagh.

Sunday Independent

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