Systematic Campaign of Police Harassment
JM: And now we head over to Derry. There was a certain segment of Derry that made the world-wide news there during the week. The Olympic torch, which is going around the world and is heading to London, made its way through Derry/Londonderry during the week and there were people protesting or trying to highlight what exactly is going on in The Six Counties. And Gary, maybe you could explain. What happened and why was there a protest about the running of the Olympic torch?
GD: Hello, how are you doing? Basically, over the last number of weeks there has been a systematic campaign launched by the British police in Derry. There were a large number of what I would describe as “punishment raids” where dozens of armoured Land Rovers (and) heavily armed British police officers seal off areas and kick in doors, searching properties and abusing whoever happens to be in that home. Things were brought to a head last weekend and local women decided that they would hold a protest. So they done a bit of a text around on mobile phones and within two hours, maybe two hundred people turned up on the streets of Creggan. There was a lot of anger, a lot of frustration. So it was suggested that rather than protesting in neighbourhoods where you wouldn't get a lot of publicity that the Olympic torch was due to travel through the city the next day so it was suggested that there would be a peaceful protest, mainly by women and children, to highlight the on-going raids by the British police.
JM: And then what happened?
GD: What happened was there was an area put aside for the peaceful protest which was acceptable to the women organising it. This was done by a private security firm who were shepherding people out along the route. The agreement was that there would be a dignified, peaceful protest. However, as the torch approached, members of the TSG, which is Tactical Support Group, which is an elite unit within the police force, basically surrounded the protesters and started shoving and jostling them. They then stopped the traffic, which included double-decker buses, which effectively (was) so no one could see the protest. As a result of that people started moving out and things just gradually got worse when a unit of I think the Metropolitan Police dressed as joggers attacked a number of the protesters, including children. Then that was the green light for the members of TSG to attack men, women and children who were effectively holding a peaceful protest.
JM: And did you block the torch from going around? I read one account they had to re-route the torch.
GD: No. Initially the protest was not about the Olympic torch. The Olympic torch was to be used to highlight, the event of the Olympic torch being carried was to highlight, but in the attack by the British police the torch was re-routed a short distance and went another route.
JM: And Gary, another thing that's going on in Derry: they had an event here in New York City during the week and it was touting about how Londonderry is the Cultural Capital of the United Kingdom. And this is all part of this “normalisation” that The Six Counties are now more than official, they are part of the United Kingdom. And this is a wonderful event that's going on, being that your the Culture Capital of the United Kingdom and using the term “Londonderry”!
GD: That's correct. Martin McGuinness has used it a number of times quite publicly. That's of no surprise to people in this city. It's all about normalisation. The reality is, is that we in this city and other parts of The Six Counties, basically live in a police state. That the right to peaceful protest ... people will remember previous Olympics where the Tibetans protested along the route of the Olympic torch when China was holding it. They were basically cheered by people throughout the world for having that right. But after the protesters were attacked in this city the politicians came out and condemned (it)...put the blame on women and children who were in fact having a peaceful protest.So they can't portray this city as a cultural city. The reality is that we live in a police state. And just this week they've announced new measures. Because the British police aren't getting the support from the community that they have announced new measures which (say) basically, if a police officer has the opinion that you don't support the British police that they can remove your taxi licence or if you happen to be a Door Supervisor, like a bouncer, that they can now remove that. So this is further erosion of people's human and civil rights
A friend of mine was arrested only this week. And when he was being arrested and interrogated, one of the items that they took from him, that they had removed from his home, was a John Pilger DVD. It was placed in an evidence bag and he was questioned by the police as (to) why he was watching a John Pilger DVDs. Now this isn't propaganda. This is reality. This was done in the presence of his lawyer. And it was also videoed and audio recorded. This is the type of thing that's happening here in Derry. And at the same time, they're portraying to the world that we are the UK City of Culture.
SB: And Gary, this is Sandy Boyer. Things are so “normal” there that you still have political prisoners interned and tortured.
GD: That's correct. I've just returned from a protest in Armagh City there where they're trying to highlight the fact that Republican prisoners in Maghaberry are engaged at the minute in a “dirty” protest. The same protest that effectively led to the Hunger Strikes in the 1980's.
SB: So Marian Price is interned and....
GD: Marian Price is interned without trial on evidence on a secret intelligence.... whether it exists or not that they may believe she has done something or other.
SB: And her health is so bad that the week before last the UN Special Rapporteur on Health sent two doctors for an official investigation to report back and the Hydebank Prison, where she's being held, said they couldn't give them access.
GD: That's right. That all just fits into the whole human rights/civil rights erosion that's happening in The Six Counties. These people will stop at nothing to stamp out any alternative opinion; that if you don't agree with this state then that's why Marian Price is put up there to say: if we can do this to a fifty-eight year old woman we will do it to anybody. And the unfortunate thing about this is this is all coming from Stormont which Nationalist politicians, including Sinn Féin, have all signed up for. They told us this would be a new beginning for police officers; we've all seen the advertisements for police officers on bicycles were riding through the neighbourhood. The reality on the ground in areas like Creggan and Derry is completely different. You are talking maybe a hundred RUC officers with automatic assault weapons and armoured Land Rovers. That's the reality of policing in this part of the country.
JM: But Gary, how does Provisional Sinn Féin get away with this? Like they'll go out and demand for Nationalists inform to the police to have Republicans arrested. Republicans then go into to gaol. And then they'll come out and say: “We're against the torture and what's going on in the prison.” I mean, it's ridiculous! They tell them: “Lock 'em up” and then they say “Well, don't protest against that”.
GD: That's right. It's the case of them trying to ride two horses. And during the recent raids in this city too, none of them were to be found. They never seem to show up. And don't forget that The Creggan has always been the backbone of The Provisional Movement. It's my sincere belief that people now are seeing through this and people are starting to come on the streets and it's having a big effect. None of these Sinn Féin people, they're nowhere to be found when these raids are happening because they can't condone them, they can't explain them. You know, they have the check to travel around the world and say: “Look what we've done in Ireland”. And yet in areas like The Creggan, they're effectively hiding when these raids are happening. There's also a campaign by the media of censorship which will keep all this stuff hidden from the outside world. And it's only when you turn up The Olympic flame and it had to be re-routed maybe fifty or a hundred yards, do you get your message out beyond that censorship.
JM: Well, Gary, I'm gonna wrap up here. I wanna know what's the odds at the bookies about your fair citizen there from Londonderry, Martin McGuinness, who has an office over in London, about him meeting the Queen? When will it happen? We know it's going to happen. When is it going happen?
GD: It's as sure as getting into Heaven as Martin McGuinness will meet his boss. There's talk there that it could happen at the end of this month. But only he knows that.
JM: But Gary, what's the big deal about him meeting her? He takes her paycheck. He might as well shake her hand and thank her for it, no?
GD: It won't be a sad day for me or for a lot of other Republicans when McGuinness meets Lizzie Windsor. Because why shouldn't he? He's her loyal subject. So why not?
JM: O, ye will bend the knee you rebel dog and boy ... will he be bending it, Gary!
GD: No problem.
JM: Alright Gary. Thanks for coming on.