Saturday, 18 February 2012

A community stands against punishment attacks in Derry

Several hundred people from both sides of the community gathered today despite arctic conditions outside Annie’s Bar, in Derry’s Waterside.  They came together united in their outrage at last weeks brutal murder of local man Andrew Allen.

The rally itself was organised by Andrew’s friends and neighbours from the ‘Top of the Hill’ area, independently from all the political parties.  Their message was a clear and dignified one, a call to the paramilitaries who carried out last weeks murder to immediately desist from carrying further acts of violence: NOT IN OUR NAME!

As news broke of yet another punishment attack there was a palpable sense of anger in the Derry air which this time claimed the life of a young man who had earlier been systematically ‘exiled’ by the group ‘Republican Action Against Drugs’ or RAAD.

Several years ago a similar solidarity rally took place in Derry city centre at the height to the ‘legal highs’ controversy.  That solidarity protest followed the brutal shooting of a 52 year old shop owner shot several times as the same so-called ‘protectors of the community’ issued warnings to shops in the city not to stock the ‘legal highs’.

Andrew Allen was a 24 year-old father of two who was brutally murdered as masked gunmen fired shots through a window of the house he was living in with his girlfriend Arlene in the outskirts of Buncrana, County Donegal.

Eight months previously Andrew’s mother was notified by the PSNI in Derry that a death threat had been made against her son by an unknown group.  Andrew did what many other young people had done over the last number of years following similar death threats, he fled the city.

In the weeks that followed several attempts were made by his family to communicate with the group involved, who informed the family a fortnight later that the death threat had finally been lifted.

There was no party political involvement at today’s rally; local elected representatives seeking their own political mileage from such acts, although many of the great and the good attended for the usual photo opportunity.

Anarchists in Derry also participated as well as many other non-aligned activists to show our solidarity with the Allen family and with the community who quite rightly decided to make a unified stand against such acts of violence, exiles and murders by all armed groups. For ourselves as anarchists we condemn without reservation the cruel murder of Allen and stand by working class communities against all forms of exiles, 'punishment' beatings and shootings of anyone accused of 'anti-social behaviour' or drug dealing carried out by either republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

As each week passes the numbers increase steadily of many more young people who continue to be targeted by various paramilitary groups. Some are subjected to beatings while others are like Andrew Allen had been, forced into exile from their families and loved ones.

At today’s rally Andrew’s sister-in-law Leona, on behalf of the family said she did not want "any other mother or father to have to experience this heartache".

"We would like to stress for these people who are hiding behind masks and guns to stop destroying our families, to leave our children alone and to stop these murders," she said. "We want these death threats to stop. We want these death threats lifted."

Throughout the decades armed groups carried out countless beatings and killings in the name of their respective communities and they still haven’t brought an ended the drugs trade or to any other forms of anti-working class community behaviour.

Such actions are nothing more than a crude attempt by these groups to maintain control over what they view as 'their communities'.  For anarchists it is our belief that this is nothing short of authoritarian thuggery. We believe that a stronger, more militant and confident working class will be able to, and must, take on responsibility for tackling the scourge of drugs and anti-social crime on its own communities as part of a wider independent movement.