Saturday, 27th of January, Saoradh marked the Anniversary of Bloody Sunday by focusing on continued British Internment, the issue that those marches were shot down protesting against on that fateful day in 1972.
wreaths were laid at the Bloody Sunday monument at Rossville Street by Mark Canning, Peter Kavanagh, Tiarnan Gallagher and Paddy Nash, in memory of the 14 civilians murdered by the British Army.
The crowd then moved to a platform at Free Derry Corner where a number of speakers took to the platform and spoke about Bloody Sunday, continued British internment, British imperialism, and the continued resistance to British occupation in Ireland. The John Brady Band stood to attention and played the National Anthem and the crowd was called on to disperse and form a white line picket to highlight Republican Political Prisoners, the John Brady Band played throughout the picket. Afterwards, tea and refreshments were available at Junior McDaid House.
- Damien Donaghy – A Bloody Sunday survivor, Damien was the first to be shot by the Para’s
- Jude Macrory of Eistigi – the Saoradh youth wing
- Neil Hegarty’s Daughter Aoife – Neil from Derry is interned by revoked license
- Martin Dillon of the Tony Taylor Campaign – Tony is interned by revoked license
- Sean Darragh of the IRPWA
- Stephen Murney of Saoradh
Partial Video of the speeches
Stephen Murney’s main oration;
A chairde agus a chomrádaithe, Friends and comrades.
I want to thank the organisers of today’s event for inviting me to address this Anti-Internment rally on behalf of Saoradh. From the outset I just want to make something clear. In the build up to this event we were described as “paramilitaries”. Let me say this. The only “paramilitaries” on these streets are wearing the uniform of the British colonial forces.
There can be no comparing repressive state violence, with the revolutionary violence a subjugated people uses to break it’s chains! Bloody Sunday was an act of violent British imperialism and every generation of working class Irish Republicans, since that day, have denied the British state a monopoly on the use of force!
When the so-called British Army veterans attempted a coat-trailing exercise in Derry last year it was Saoradh who came to the fore and faced them down, and when they moved it to Belfast we were not found wanting in challenging their revision and taking to the streets to remind people of British imperialist war crimes.
The reasons we are here today certainly aren’t lost on those in attendance here. This city has experienced it’s fair share of injustice over the decades. In August 1971 the British state introduced Internment. This process saw hundreds of people held in Long Kesh concentration camp without charge or trial. In 1972 14 Irish citizens were shot dead in cold blood by the British Army in the streets around us. At the time they were protesting for the very same reason we are here today. To oppose Internment. Over 45 years have passed and we still have men and women interned by the British state.
Internment in it’s present day form is a more insidious process. It involves the victims going through a conveyor belt type of process which involves you being arrested, interrogated, charged and remanded in prison for periods which can exceed several years. There are some in society who describe this as “due process”. I would describe it as a blatantly corrupt process, a process which ensures that key political activists and opponents of the state are removed from the streets for lengthy periods. This is internment by remand. All too often we hear of Republican activists being arrested, charged and remanded. And all too often we hear of those charges being withdrawn or the victim being found innocent but only after spending a lengthy period of time in a British prison.
Another form of Internment that has come to pass recently involves the rovoking of licences. This ensures that the person on the receiving end will face no charges or trial. If thats not a form of internment, then I dont know what is.
Comrades there are three cases inparticular that I want to highlight here today. Two of them are directly connected to the city of Derry. Tony Taylor, Neil Hegarty and Gabriel Mackle.
Tony Taylor hails from this city. He has now been interned for almost 700 days after his licence was revoked. Tony’s wife Lorraine, and their children, have suffered immensely as a result of the Internment of Tony. Lorraine herself has travelled across the country and has spoke at countless events and rallies to highlight and raise awareness around this grave injustice. The Taylor family must be commended for their strength and resolve in the face of such hardship, hardship that most of us here can’t imagine.
Gabriel Mackle was released just a few weeks, before he was arrested by Stormont’s RUC militia. He had just completed serving his sentence when his licence was also revoked.
Our comrade Neil Hegarty, a native of rebel Cork, but very much a son of Derry, was barely released a day before he had his licence revoked. This was after he had just served a 5 year sentence.
I served time in prison with all 3 men. Tony, Hega and Gabriel should not be in prison today. They haven’t faced charges and they won’t see a trial. This is internment and it must be opposed by all right thinking people. These are injustices of the highest order. To removed someone’s liberty for no reason. To take them from their families, their children and their community in such a way is evil.
By selectively interning republican activists the British state are trying to send a message to others. That message is a simple one- if you disagree with the Stormont administration, oppose the British forces, speak out against injustices and human rights abuses that are carried out by the RUC , MI5 and British army, you will automatically find yourself labelled as being a dissident, and you will find yourself becoming a target of stop and searches, house raids, harassment and ultimately imprisonment in these forms.
Some of those who were at one time opponents of ‘internment by remand’ and who even represented and defended victims of that process are today part and parcel of the prosecution and judicial system which implements this form of internment. Today it is often said that we live in a better society – ‘a new dispensation – is the phrase often used. Despite all the supposed ‘changes’, many of the old repressive injustices remain including internment, political policing, Diplock courts and ongoing MI5/British military activity.
Over forty years have passed since internment in 1971, yet Irish men and women are still being interned at the behest of the British state, arrested by its willing armed forces, including the RUC/PSNI, and aided and abetted by their political apologists in Stormont. Stormont is facilitating internment. And then there are those who were previously politically opposed to ‘internment by remand’ and who were themselves the victims of that process are today remarkably silent on its continued operation in the Six Counties.
Those of us who have been most vocal in opposing these unjust policies and our families, have paid a heavy personal price in the form of constant Crown Force ‘stop and searches’, house raids, and, ultimately, the loss of liberty. Our comrades here in Derry are bearing the brunt of it every day of week. Internment was wrong and unjust in previous years and it remains as equally wrong and unjust today.
Comrades as we leave here today let us continue to highlight these genuine injustices. Let us not forget why those people who were murdered in cold blood by the British Army on the streets around us were on these streets in the first place. For the same reasons we are here today.
Smash Internment – Free the People