Speech by RNU’s Paul Crawford at July 3 Newry anti-internment rally
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“I’d like to begin by thanking the organisers of today’s picket for asking myself to represent the Republican Network for Unity and our POW’s department Cogus here this afternoon. It’s a privilege and an honour to address you all.
“The fact that we are here for the 3rd year in a row is evidence that Internment as a tactic to disrupt political activity is very much alive but also that our opposition to Internment is equally alive.
“In order to oppose Internment we must first understand what it is and what it is used for. In many ways the word has been over used and as such has lost much of its impact and meaning. There are those who would say that everyone incarcerated by the British or the Free State are interned. There are those who would state that while all internees are political prisoners, not all political prisoners are internees.
“For our purposes, however, it is enough to state that the original definition of internment is correct. Those who are detained without charge for the political expediency of the state. People like my comrade Tony Taylor, a perfect example of internment by the state to prevent and hamper legitimate political activity.
Tony, like Martin Corey before him, has been remanded in custody at the behest of the British secretary of state. No semblance of a trial, no pretence of a trial. Secret evidence that can’t be disclosed and won’t be disclosed because it doesn’t exist.
“We have miscarriages of justice like the cases of the Craigavon 2, men who have been deliberately framed on the word of informers and Walter Mittys. Set up by the dirty hand of the British security apparatus and practically ignored by the political elite despite a growing realization that these men are innocent across the board.
“We have men like Shea McGrane, a veteran republican from North Louth who has been remanded in custody for ‘directing terrorism’ just as his friend Michael McKevitt another veteran republican from the same area has been released after serving many years for the same charge. A charge that was created specifically to imprison him to try and smash republican opposition to the fledgling Good Friday agreement. This is a blatant case of selective detention.
“My comrade Carl Reilly is another example of selective detention. Carl has also been arrested on a charge of directing terrorism; this charge is based on secret recordings allegedly taken in the 26 counties yet passed to the state forces in the north to use as evidence to remand him here. This case is stinking. Part of a concerted effort to remove members of my own party from political activism for months or even years.
“I myself am Carl’s co-accused, released on bail. I am forced to endure draconian and repressive bail conditions which are clearly designed to prevent me from carrying out my role within my political party in an effective manner. I am not allowed to send Carl a birthday card, to talk to him or even to have 3rd party contact with him. In essence I’m not even allowed to ask his wife to tell him I was asking for him.
“Many activists north and south are effectively interned on bail, in prison outside of prison walls. Tortured by petty and vindictive police at all hours of the night and morning, waking up wives and children in the early morning under the pretence that they are checking if republicans are at home.
“There are many names I’ve not mentioned here, many who have happily been relased, many still in who fall into the above categories. Many who have spent months and years on fabricated or contrived charges only to be released and have charges dropped. While the majority of these activists over the years would not perhaps fall into the classic definition of internees the reason they are and were detained is the same reason that the British and free staters have interned activists in the past. It has been used a tool of political repression, a mechanism to stifle political debate and to curb political activity.
“Any political system that relies on such human rights abuses to maintain political hegemony is clearly sick and unstable. As republicans our job is as ever to endure , to resist and to overcome. This we will do together.
Posted on July 22, 2016, in 21st century republicanism and socialism, British state repression (general), Democratic rights - general, Frame-ups, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish politics today, Partition, Prisoners - current, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Repression and resistance in the six counties today, Republican Network for Unity, six counties. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Speech by RNU’s Paul Crawford at July 3 Newry anti-internment rally.
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