Thursday, 12 July 2012

Derry and the War on Drugs: An Anarchist View

News that the Red Cross, an international humanitarian organisation, have been directly assisting local community workers in the Rosemount area of Derryhas again heightened concerns of a potential “drugs epidemic” developing in the city.
The story first broke over the last few weeks prior to a BBC Spotlight programme investigating the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs or RAAD.  It revealed that the Red Cross has been working with the Rosemount Resource Centre over the past eight months, believed to be the first time ever the humanitarian group has worked with another organisation in the north.  
It’s been well documented over the last number of years that community workers within the Rosemount Resource Centre liaise with several armed republican groups and a growing number of young people said to be involved in anti-social behaviour or drugs.

Workers at the centre stated that as mediators they help prevent young people falling victim to possible punishment beatings and shootings, being exiled from their families or worse, executed. Likewise it’s said that if it wasn’t for their direct intervention then the numbers killed or maimed locally would be excessively higher.  There’s on doubting that that’s true enough, recent figures show an estimated forty people have been shot in Derryalone as a result of paramilitary-style attacks over the past 5 years. Five in Strabane while another three were shot in Donegal, including a young 24 year old father of one, Andrew Allen, murdered by RAAD in Buncrana back in February.
RAAD themselves have been in existence since 2008, and are said to have been created by members and recent ex-members of the Provisional IRA.  After a pipe-bomb attack outside a house in the city the following year they informed a local newspaper to explain that, “There is absolutely no political agenda within our organisation” stating also that they “rank-and-file members” of Sinn Fein were “fully supportive” of it activities.

Over the past number of months news coming out of Derry at times has resembled some type of Mexican border town rather than a host for the forth coming ‘UK City of Culture’, hence the pressure is on for someone to put a lid on things as the situation spirals out downwards.  The PSNI and RAAD, as well as a number of other republican groups have claimed they too are tackling the “drugs problem”. So in turn our children have been brutality assaulted or beaten, terrorised in house raids, drug finds here and there, people shot by appointment and expelled, blast bombs thrown, elderly people traumatised, even a raid on a rock memorabilia shop for selling ‘legal highs’ has been the order of the day.  So the propaganda war escalates as to who are the rightful ‘protectors of the community’.
Amidst all the hysteria no one has so much as considered even asking the young people themselves as to why some feel the need to be engaged in taking drugs in the first place. No one has considered cutting the drugs trade out from under the dealers, through legalisation or decriminalisation. Nor has anyone considered asking what help or assistance young people themselves could be given in order to tackle the issues surrounding drug taking or criminality?
In what look’s to be more and more like a battle for domination and control ordinary working class households, housing estates and communities have been left behind.

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