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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Intimidation Continues in Rathenraw

The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness … this and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs: when he first appears he is a protector.
– Plato, as quoted in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Anthony McIntyre • 15 October 2004

The nationalist estate of Rathenraw frequently captures media attention. But unlike a nationalist enclave in, say, Larne, where reports of attacks invariably identify loyalists as the perpetrators, those behind the campaign of intimidation being waged against the residents of Rathenraw are other nationalists. Foremost amongst the ‘legitimate targets’ is the former republican prisoner Paddy Murray. Those doing the targeting are members of Sinn Fein. Murray previously chaired the party cumann in Antrim town but like many of his colleagues living on the Rathenraw estate he resigned from its ranks earlier this year, for the most part in response to a combination of gross inefficiency and authoritarianism that had come to characterise the party’s structures.

The campaign against Rathenraw republicans and community activists - quite often the same people - is being directed from North Belfast. At times it ebbs and simmers but frequently returns to the boil as a reminder of sorts that the defeated army ‘hasn’t gone away you know.’ It might no longer be able to put it up to the Brits, despite a few believers proclaiming that the leadership took the ‘‘war’’ to Leeds last month, but it can certainly push its chest out when it feels it is being squared up to by those who don’t think the way the defeated army ordains that they should think.

Despite the suggestions by Tony Blair that Irish society stands on the cusp of a new era in which the Provisionals' armed militia will see the curtain pulled down on it, the militia itself carries on as if peaceful intent was a figment of Blair’s well established fertile imagination. Paddy Murray is one of those people that the peace process excludes and affords no protection to.

Three weeks ago, in a signal that the long running campaign of intimidation against him was moving up a gear, an attempt was made to burn his shed. The following week a further attempt was made and this time the arsonists succeeded. The following night, graffiti stating, ‘Paddy Murray Tout - PIRA’ was daubed on the wall by a close associate of a prominent local Sinn Fein member. The same man accompanied by his wife later attacked Murray in the street. The graffiti writer then threatened the former republican prisoner that ‘a squad from Belfast’ would soon arrive in the estate to ‘put you out.’ The attackers then reported Murray to the PSNI who called to the Murray family home and asked that he give a guarantee that he would pose no threat to his Sinn Fein linked neighbours.

This incident was followed by the graffiti writer once again taking to the walls, on this occasion to scrawl, ‘what happened to your daughter Paddy’? The daughter in question lost her young life less than a year ago as a result of a traffic accident in Belfast. Two nights ago the ‘squad from Belfast’ entered Rathenraw estate in cars. Before alighting they put on balaclavas and proceeded to write on the road, ‘Paddy Murray MI5 Agent – RIRA.’ They then lobbed a brick through the window of the nearby home of someone else they had taken umbrage with, injuring a child a few weeks short of his first birthday.

Before they could leave the scene of their artistry and child assault Murray and others managed to see them as they pulled off their face apparel. He recognized at least two of them. ‘I was particularly disappointed with one of them. I had done him a lot of favours and now this was how he was repaying me.’ When asked if he considered the incident a violent Sinn Fein attack he gave an unambiguous response stating that ‘they are members of Sinn Fein. I know them very well.’

Paddy Murray took his complaint up with Sinn Fein’s Denis Donaldson who said he would get to the bottom of the matter but also stated that he did not believe that the party members named by Murray to him were responsible. In Murray’s view:

Denis definitely did not know that attack was going to happen and seemed really surprised about it when I raised it with him. But he seemed more concerned that party members had been spotted doing what they did than he did that the attack had taken place. He was more annoyed that they got caught than he was that they were carrying out this type of intimidation.

Republican councillor and former Sinn Fein member, Martin Cunningham, who yesterday made a round trip of 140 miles in order to visit the estate and offer support to the intimidated republicans, said that he had grave concerns about the situation there:

It is clear to me that the people of Rathenraw want nothing to do with Provisional Sinn Fein. They are sick of the lies, double standards and intimidation. Most worrying of all however, is that some sections of the party seem to be in collusion with elements belonging to loyalism. I fear that the way in which Sinn Fein is misrepresenting the Rathenraw situation may lead to some of the residents there being targeted by loyalists.

Sinn Fein repression in Rathenraw, in particular against Paddy Murray and his family, is distressingly similar to the violent campaign of intimidation being orchestrated by the UDA in Lisburn in a bid to silence the writer Davy Adams. Whether orange-shirts or green-shirts, the common mindset is the absolutist one that demands all must bow before it as an act of reassurance that it really is the undisputed master of the community it claims to serve. The Chilean writer Ariel Dorfmann could as easily have been contemplating the UDA or Sinn Fein when he wrote:

Dictators aspire to total power in order to seek refuge from the demons they have unchained. As a way of silencing their ghosts, they demand to be surrounded by a rampart of flattering mirrors and genuflecting counsellors that assure the tyrant that yes, you are the most beautiful of them all, the one who knows more.

Sinn Fein’s organised violence against those who dissent from its writ belies the body’s commitment to peace. In denying his party’s involvement in violence Gerry Adams may as well ask, as Groucho Marx did, ‘who are you going to believe – me or your own eyes?’





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

15 October 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Intimidation Continues in Rathenraw
Anthony McIntyre

Mick Hall

Choosing the Green
Liam O Ruairc

Anti-Racism Network Rally
ARN Steering Committee

A Coversation with Gerry Adams
Paul de Rooij

12 October 2004

George Harrison: An Appreciation
Sandy Boyer

Derrida, doctrinaires, debate
Seaghán Ó Murchú

That Hammering Sound
Michael Youlton

Truth Hurts
Mick Hall

Left Nationalism In Euskal Herria
Anthony McIntyre


The Letters page has been updated.



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