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UK news from Black Flag #213 1998.

Includes - Green Anarchist / GandALF trial, the killing of IRA member Diarmud O'Neill in London, protests against dole bullies in Edinburgh, killing of Loyalist "King Rat" Billy Wright and an account of day of direct action against an opencast mine.

Submitted by Fozzie on August 23, 2020

Solidarity with Green Anarchist

3 of the 4 defendants in the Green Anarchist trial were convicted on November 13th 1997 and sentenced to 3 years. They have been convicted of "conspiracy to incite persons unknown to commit criminal damage". The prosecution could never say which persons or what damage. The charges were based on GA's reports of direct action and sabotage.

Common sense says that publishing reports of actions cannot be incitement, this was not the reason for the charges. The police operation leading up to the arrests took millions of pounds and involved 55 raids on activists. It is clear that the GANDALF defendants (GA and ALF) were being set up to attempt to hit the Animal Liberation Front and intimidate the growing direct action movement. The trial was bizarre, the attitude of the judge clearly prejudiced. The sentences were vindictive and intended in themselves to intimidate.

Solidarity for Noel, Saxon, and Steve, the three who have been imprisoned is growing. Two more, Robin Webb, ALF press officer and Paul Rogers, another GA editor, are due for trial in the spring. London Gandalf Support Group has been set up to spread solidarity with the defendants and defiance against the state. Index Against Censorship, usually more concerned with liberal causes in far off countries, are disseminating many of the direct action reports. There is no real difference between people being jailed for producing opposition newspapers here or in China, except for the prison food. The support group are calling for Amnesty International and Liberty to throw their support behind the defendants. A "liberation tour" of towns and cities in Britain is planned.

Meanwhile direct action, incited or not, continues.

Write to the 3 prisoners:

Noel Molland (CK4321) and Saxon Wood (CK4322), HMP Guys March, Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7 OAH.

Steve Booth (CK4323), IIMP Lancaster, The Castle, Lancaster, LA1 I YL. Gandalf Defendant's Campaign, PO Box 66, Stevenage, SG1 2TR.

London Gandalf Support Group, do London Greenpeace, 38 Mount Pleasant, Lon-don, WCIX OAP.
Updates on www.cbuzz.co.uk/

Diarmuid O'Neill

In September 1996 Diarmuid O’Neill, an IRA member under observation by the security forces, was shot and killed by Special Branch and armed police when they raided an address in Hammersmith. After being shot, Diarmuid was denied paramedic assistance for 25 minutes, by which time he was dead. One police officer was seen standing with his foot on Diarmuid's head as he lay dying. Diarmuid was dragged bleeding out of the house into the street, where he lay, bleeding from the bullet wounds.

The killing was carried out as part of a raid on an IRA active service unit. In December Patrick Kelly, James Murphy and Brian McHugh were gaoled for conspiracy to cause explosions,

Evidence at the trial made it clear that the police and Special Branch were fully aware that Diarmuid was not likely to be armed. They had already bugged the flat and his car. They had the unit under constant surveillance, including at the Hornsey warehouse space they used to store arms and explosives. When the police opened fire on Diarmuid he had already showed both his hands clearly through the door of the flat,and Patrick Kelly had shouted "We give up-we are unarmed”. The other members of the unit recall the police shouting "Shoot the fucker" as Diarmiud opened the door.

In September 1996 the British state transferred its shoot to kill policy against Republicans from the six counties to the streets of London. If the cops that day weren’t hyped up to kill, why did they watch footage of the entirely unrelated Canary Wharf bombing and footage of bomb victims before carrying out the raid? Why did they attempt an immediate cover up by releasing reports of a "gun battle with terrorists" when there had never been any suggestion of a gun battle? The Justice for Diarmuid O'Neill Campaign has called for a public enquiry into the killing.

Taking On The Dole Bullies

On the morning of 11 February 1998 Edinburgh Sheriff Court sentenced a claimant to 150 hours community service for delivering an Edinburgh Claimants "3 Strikes" warning letter to a Benefits Office official at High Riggs Unemployment benefit office. Four hours later 20 claimants and supporters carried out a 3rd Strike action against Marianne MacDonald, a Project Work interviewer at High Riggs, and her manager Mr Laird.

Demonstrators - all wearing masks consisting of Marianne MacDonald's face! - stormed into the benefit office in central Edinburgh. They carried posters of MacDonald with the words NO ONE LIKES A BULLY. Protesters gave out leaflets bearing MacDonald's photo and detailing how she had consistently harassed claimants and tried to cut their benefits on 8 documented occasions.

The leaflets denounced Labour's New Deal as 'compulsory slave labour" and condemned the cuts in single parent's benefits. Police arrived but too late to stop the action. There were no arrests. Edinburgh Claimants declare "We won't be intimidated by the police and courts. The 3 Strikes resistance continues."

In the court case the Sheriff stated that the 3 Strikes campaign was "a pre-meditated and clearly illegal attempt to undermine the operation of the welfare benefits system".

Earlier, on 21 January, the claimant had been found guilty of Breach of the Peace at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for delivering the "3 Strikes" letter. In court the Procurator Fiscal described the whole 3 Strikes campaign in Edinburgh, including the fly-posting of a photo of a dole official round the city and the placing of the photo on the internet. The Sheriff (the judge) said this was a "sinister offence" and he was "considering a prison sentence".

The 3 Strikes campaign is a collective response by claimants to harassment and benefit cuts - dole officials and their managers responsible for particularly bad treatment of claimants are given warning letters asking them to treat claimants fairly: if they ignore 2 warnings and commit a 3rd "offence" then their photo is taken and put on posters with details of their actions, and a demo is held at their benefit office.

Edinburgh Claimants c/o Peace & Justice Centre, St Johns, Princes St., Edinburgh (mail only)
0131 557 6242 Get in touch!

End Of The Road For The 'Peace Process'?

On Saturday 27th December an Irish National Liberation Army team killed "King Rat" Billy Wright, leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force. The shooting was the more audacious for being carried out inside Long Kesh, with the gunmen scaling down from the roof of one of the H-Blocks to fire at Wright as he was transported to the visiting area.

Wright's death brought a predictably sectarian response from the dregs of the LVF. They randomly opened fire at the Glengannon Hotel, killing one of the doormen, Seamus Dillon, and wounding others. They followed this up with a similar attack on the Clifton Tavern, killing 31 year old Eddie Treanor. The LVF described these attacks as a "tribute" to Wright's memory. After all, as Wright himself believed, any Taig will do. Billy Wright was Loyalism incarnate - pumped full of supremacist religious bullshit (Wright was a teetotal born again Christian) - his sole political objective was to terrorise the nationalist community into accepting the discriminatory, anti-democratic status quo of the six county state.

Wright never accepted the peace process. He believed his Loyalist heritage and "culture" was being stolen away. This meant that nationalists were no longer prepared to let mobs of bigots march through their estates unchallenged. The LVF's defence of its cultural heritage included the killing of Michael McGoldrick, a Catholic taxi driver, whose crime was to be a Catholic in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mo Mowlem, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is talking of "testing times in the months ahead", but for the nationalist communities the "testing times" have never gone away. In the last 18 months 8 Catholics have been murdered by Loyalists, while British politicians have praised the Loyalist paramilitaries for the maintenance of their ceasefire! John Slane was shot 5 times in a murder off the Falls Road. In April a gang of over 30 Loyalists in Portadown killed Robert Hamill, while the RUC looked on. In July, a gunman murdered 18 year old Bernadette Martin because she was a Catholic who dared to sleep with her Protestant boyfriend in a Protestant area. Later the same month, the mutilated body of James Morgan was retrieved from an animal carcass pit. Gaelic Athletic Association members Gerry Devlin and Sean Brown were murdered after the Mid Ulster UVF (LVF) targeted GAA officials in response to the rerouting of Orange marches. Sinn Fein offices in New Lodge, the Falls Road, Derry and Monaghan were bombed. Churches were set alight, with St MacNissis in Co. Antrim totally destroyed.

Following the murder of Eddie Treanor, eye witnesses reported seeing the car used in the attack driving away at speed with a woman "squealing with delight" in the backseat. They also reported seeing a well known UFF member in the car. It is certainly the case that the mid Ulster-based LVF could not have pulled off an attack in Belfast without either support from the UDA or UFF or, at least,without having made inroads into their membership. According to the "Progressive Unionist's" Billy Hutchinson the peace process is in crisis because of "concessions to republicans" in any event. Quite what these concessions are remains to be seen. So far, Sinn Fein have been admitted to talks having signed up to the Mitchell Principles and on the basis that the IRA ceasefire has held. Perhaps Billy has a problem with anyone sitting down to talk with democratically elected nationalists. Perhaps he has a hang up about prisoners in the 26 counties being given early release dates? Maybe 6-county born Loyalists should apply for transfer to the south then? Or do the PUP want to be able to decide penal policy in the south without having cross border decision making processes in the 6 counties? Plainly, the UDA and UVF are gearing up to formally abandon their "cease fire" rather than concede a hint of democracy through the talks, and Wright's death is to be their excuse.

Billy Wright and the LVF didn't even pretend to engage with the peace process. Their reward for refusing to cease their butchery was face to face meetings with Mo Mowlem and David Trimble. There are 2 possible explanations for this. Either the likes of Mowlem and Trimble simply think murders of nationalists are irrelevant, or they think that the LVF provide a useful incentive, a bloody reminder to the nationalist community of what might unfold if the peace process fails. Either way, Billy Wright, in life, was proof of the sectarian nature of the Northern state- in refusing to say any-thing more than "no", in carrying out sectarian assassinations to block the path to change with nationalist corpses, Wright, a murderer and a bigot, was courted by the political establishment in London and Dublin as his reward.

Opencast Mine Put Out of Action

As part of the campaign against open cast mining, an opencast mine was occupied and put out of action on Halloween last year. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage was inflicted on the mine in a well planned and effective action. The ease with which the mine was invaded was amazing and shows you really can get the bastards - we think of them as omnipotent a lot of the time and it was inspiring to see how vulnerable a lot of their operations are to determined sabotage.

The attitude of the workers to the trashing of the mine was mixed but many responded by sitting in their hut drinking tea and cheering whenever a big piece of machinery hit the deck.

I'm writing this article from the perspective of what it's like taking part in an action - an effective action, a direct conflict, an attack on the other side. I'm leaving out arguments about the politics and issues of the particular protest i.e. opposition to opencast mining. The contempt opencast mining bosses show for local democracy, the environment, workers lives, casualisation of labour etc. I take as being self-evident. This article is more like a long version of the Tin Tin T-shirt, the one saying "Fuck! we're really doing it!"

The disorganisers had obviously put this thing together on a shoe string, with enthusiasm, a little experience and a sense of mischievous fun. Fairly careful plans had been taken to avoid unwanted ears getting info on the important whores and whens of the main battle plan - achieved through decoys and last minute changes of plan. There were precautions against infiltrators and also there were a good sprinkling of novices (including me) and possible incompetents (e.g. people with video cameras).

When we first arrived we were woken on the coach with bars of chocolate being handed out and a bottle of duty free being handed around (nice touch that - robbing banks high on scooby snacks). Then out into the cold - this had been one of my main concerns, apart from being arrested, and so I was suitably togged -long johns etc. We had to crouch down behind a hedge for a while as there seemed to be quite a bit of traffic which we later found out were our own scouts! The time came to go over the top, march on to face the music. People started to go off in different directions towards machinery. One worker was driving around and was given a leaflet. He came over towards us at the bottom of a cliff "what's the point of this eh? Can't you speak?" No we couldn't. We didn't really know what we were there for or what we were doing. After this I was thinking well that's the excitement over, a few people will just lock their necks to dumptrucks and the rest of the day will be boring. This view was soon dispelled.

There were some amongst our ranks who had a real purpose and were setting about executing it in a very impressive and together way. Methodically destroying trucks and equipment. "I'm not sure they should be doing this" said my mate at first, but after witnessing these uber terrorists in action for a while "I can't believe we're getting away with this" as he set off his third fire extinguisher.

The impression I initially had was that we'd be taking the site and occupying it. Maybe someone would talk to the media, blah blah blah, but some fun would be had. Little did I know just how much fun it actually would be. As each piece of equipment was systematically decommissioned spirits lifted. There were moments of farce too when a gang of about thirty anarchists were trying to throw this great lighting pylon down a cliff. Most of us were on the other side of the ravine watching for over half an hour as it moved towards its destiny. Nearly there, oh no, nearly, oh fuck it - and off they all went - "no - come hack"' and back they all came to try again.

By this time lots more workers had turned up for their shift and seemed mostly quite entertained by the change to their working day. Though one guy completely lost his rag when he heard a window getting it. "Oh! Someone's got to fuckin' pay for that" as he marched over throw-ing rocks (he was an impressive shot too). He was 'peacefully' surrounded until he cooled down a bit and saw there wasn't any mileage in continuing his strop, and off he went, to leave the pixies to get on with their business. This was the exception as far as opposition went. Crash! "Hooray!" when, at last, the lighting pylon went over the cliff. But it was the workers who were cheer-ing - as good a sound as the crash itself.

Originally we had expected an all-dayer, but by 10 o'clock we seemed to have accomplished what we'd set out to do. There didn't seem much point in hanging around to be nicked, so after a meeting outside the front gate we left. Besides we were hungry, so we went down the cafe for a breakfast. There were some who went off and did get arrested but I couldn't see the point.

One of the good bits of planning was that it was in Derbyshire, it being public knowledge that the cops here were bankrupt, and always bottom in the cop league tables (or however they rate the pigs now). Their cars keep breaking down apparently and have to be left without repairs. So we knew the chance of a crack response unit arriving in the nick of time was minimal, and when they did a right disheartened and motley crew they turned out to be.

The bastards who own opencast mines are wide open, it's only through years of victory that they've become so complacent about ripping us off. But it would be quite easy, really effective and of course very worthwhile, to organise into small cells and rip the shit out of these operations. The very least it can do is force them to use profits to pay for extra security, delays and repairs. But ultimately it could have the effect of substantially worrying these fat cats into retreat and stop them taking the piss quite so blatantly. Victory on the scale of the apparent success of the roads protest where 2/3rds of the national pro-gram has been scrapped and the last 1/ 3rd is under review (with some exceptions admittedly) could be ours if we seize the opportunity.