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IRA'S SICK APOLOGY; EXCLUSIVE: Provos 'sorry' for beating 3 kids.

Byline: MAURICE FITZMAURICE

BUNGLING Provos have apologised to the families of three children they beat with baseball bats.

The IRA hardmen told the teenagers they were no longer under curfew after admitting they battered the wrong people.

A punishment squad hooded the two 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old before threatening to kill them and locking them in a cupboard for smashing a window.

But days later a well-known republican arrived at one of the victim's homes to tell his mother that threats against them had been lifted.

The news will add to pressure republicans are under over the alleged kidnap of former INLA man Bobby Tohill as well as continuing punishment attacks.

Unionists say the beatings are a breach of the terror group's ceasefire.

Sources in the Markets district of Belfast say the three boys were ordered to turn up at a street corner in the area even though all of them are from the nearby Short Strand.

They were met by well-known republicans who took them down an alley where they were hooded and spun around to disorientate them before being taken to the house of another republican.

The source added: "The three lads were beaten and told they were going to be shot unless they behaved themselves and then they were locked in a cupboard for a few hours.

"That was on Thursday night but within a few days the mother of one of them was visited and told that the curfew imposed since Thursday has been lifted because they didn't smash the window in question.

"It's obvious that no lessons have been learned by the provos around here after the suicides in Ardoyne.

"There's Sinn Fein up in North Belfast spouting about child abuse yet the Provies in Market are beating kids for things they haven't even done."

The INLA has come under fire in Ardoyne following the suicide of two young men there who were subjected to intimidation.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 26, 2004
Words:321
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