The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Rathenraw Threat

 

Anthony McIntyre • 19 August 2004

Perhaps it was naivete, but with the bad press Sinn Fein had taken over the ongoing party intimidation in the Antrim estate of Rathenraw, there was an expectation that wiser heads within the body would have prevailed and acted as a foil to the rampant intimidation currently directed at those who have parted ways with the Adams-led nationalist party. Spin reversals in the media, preceding briefings by what the Irish News described as ‘a senior IRA source’ denying that Sinn Fein’s military wing was involved in threatening residents, suggested that the politicians behind the harassment may have had their horns pulled in. Yet today, the chairperson of Rathenraw Community Association, Paddy Murray, has been the recipient of further abuse and death threats over the phone.

While there is no solid evidence that Sinn Fein was involved a number of journalists suspect that it was. Moreover, the Murray household was visited by the PSNI this afternoon and the family was informed that the police had information that the Provisionals would be expelling them from their home over the coming days. Again, while it could be PSNI mixing or the result of inaccurate information being received, the fact that Sinn Fein militia men surrounded the Murray home on Friday last, one of whom wore a balaclava, means that the PSNI warning cannot be lightly dismissed.

The fears of Paddy Murray and his colleagues on the Rathenraw Community Association are compounded by the fact that during Friday’s intimidation the high profile Sinn Fein councillor for the area, Martin Meehan, admits to having been in the estate. This was shortly after he had informed two local Antrim newspapers that the ‘Republican Movement’ would not tolerate the ongoing problems in Rathenraw estate: ‘action would be taken against those involved.’

Furthermore, whatever reassurance Paddy Murray and his family may take from today’s Provisional IRA comments the militia’s discourse as reported in the Irish News was replete with language similar to that used when the organisation lied through its teeth while seeking to evade culpability for the October 2000 shoot-to-kill murder of Ballymurphy Real IRA member Joseph O’Connor. Dismissing claims that the IRA had issued death threats against either Mr Murray or other members of the Rathenraw Community Association, the senior IRA source said:

In recent days the media has carried allegations about IRA threats against individuals in the Antrim area. These allegations are total nonsense. They are being said by individuals seeking to promote themselves and pursue personal agendas.

In October 2000 the same body said:

In light of the speculation and allegations surrounding the killing of Joseph O'Connor, the IRA wishes to state that it was not involved in his death. The IRA leadership extends its condolences to the O'Connor family. Malicious accusations suggesting IRA involvement are designed to heighten tension and promote the agenda of those opposed to current IRA strategy.

Then, as now, Sinn Fein representatives were unavailable for television interview. Paddy Murray insists that the campaign of harassment has moved up a level with Sinn Fein’s Martin Meehan claiming that a criminal gang was involved in the intimidation of people in the Rathenraw estate. Meehan asserted that there are those within the estate ‘who are using the name of the Republican Movement to cover their anti-social and anti-community actions.’

Speaking to a West Belfast paper of dubious record the Sinn Fein councillor insisted that:

The area is being plagued by a control freak, a 'Fagin' type character who uses young people to create havoc and do his dirty work for him. This dirty work involves intimidating other residents, attacking homes, stirring up tensions and trying to control basic day-to-day life in the estate. The activities of this figure and his cohorts are anti-social, unacceptable and definitely anti-republican.

Initial media reporting - since reversed - irritated former members of Sinn Fein who are now at loggerheads with the autocratic party. When Aine Gribbon and Paddy Murray sat at my kitchen table at the start of this week, they spoke about their fears of how the loyalists might react to the nonsense that Sinn Fein was pumping out to the media. Aine Gribbon, having stood on three or four occasions as a Sinn Fein election candidate, states forcefully:

I can hardly be described as anti-Sinn Fein but I am very worried that the councillors for Antrim are setting Paddy up for attack. Because they are intent on portraying him as the bad guy in all of this, he is now open to attack by loyalists. Sinn Fein could have turned up at the public meeting held on the estate last Wednesday but failed to do so. Why? They chose to have a go at him in the media where they knew they would not be forced to explain themselves.

At a press conference held on the Rathenraw estate on Tuesday, Aine Gribbon further claimed that the local community was bewildered at the Sinn Fein attitude.

One irony of the dispute is that Paddy Murray is doing no different now than he was when a member of Sinn Fein. Why is Sinn Fein so concerned now? If true that he is a Fagin type control-freak, is that only a crime when it is done for someone other than Sinn Fein? It seems strange that a party characterised by control freakery from the top down would find the practice such a problem - unless of course it is not doing the controlling.

That this dispute has been allowed to fester so long is symptomatic of a broader Sinn Fein tendency to abhor diversity, difference and dissent. The party structure is so rigid that it finds it almost impossible to make the necessary adjustments that go a long way to resolving such issues. Every hint of movement outside the preordained synchronicity is viewed as a major threat to the leadership. Diktat by control freaks is without doubt a problem plaguing Rathenraw. But the control freaks are politicians, none of whom live in the estate, who see Rathenraw as merely a pond from which votes can be fished at will.



 

 

 

 

 

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Index: Current Articles



19 August 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Rathenraw Threat
Anthony McIntyre

Troubled Waters
John Kennedy

International Conference Misled by Sinn Fein
Francie Mackey

Rearming the Provos with Picket Signs
Marty Egan

AOH USA
Richard Wallace

Fionnbarr Ó Dochartaigh and the Captain Kelly Campaign
Liam O Comain

Imperfect Peace: Terence O'Neill's Day Has Come
Anthony McIntyre


16 August 2004

Repression in Rathenraw
Anthony McIntyre

Beating the Wife
Kathleen O Halloran

Fan Abuse
Sean Smyth

Save the Black Mountain
Davy Carlin

Parallels and Paradoxes
Liam O Ruairc

 

 

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