Northern Ireland

Priest "shock" after meeting PSNI "harrassment victims"

Fr Paddy O'Kane
Image caption Fr Paddy O'Kane has challenged dissident republicans over their campaign of violence

A Londonderry priest has said that he has "no regrets" about meeting families who claim they are the victims of police harrassment in the city.

Ballymagroarty parish priest Fr Paddy O'Kane said that he had heard "harrowing stories" from people he said were "angry and afraid".

However, he admitted that he had not "heard the other side of the story".

Fr O'Kane, who is opposed to dissident violence, has also said that he will not publicise any future meetings.

He said that some of those he spoke to at the Rosemount Resource Centre were not dissident supporters but claimed to have been harassed because of associating with friends who were opposed to the peace process.

The Catholic priest, who agreed to the meeting after talks with the Real IRA linked 32 County Sovereignty Committee, said that he had also heard "very worrying questions" about the impartiality of the Police Ombudsman.

The most worrying aspect of the meeting, he said, was hearing stories of young people "with hatred in their hearts".

"That one statement summarises a lot of what I heard.

"If that is what is happening, we are going to have another generation of bitter young people who will feel that the only way they have forward is through violence and history will repeat itself again."

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