Republican News · Thursday 10 July 1997

[An Phoblacht]

Derry defiant

Ignoring John Hume's appeal to ``keep off the streets'', ten thousand very angry Derry citizens poured into the Bogside on Sunday night to march on the RUC Barracks in Strand Road. Anger almost too deep for words swept the city after people saw the humiliation of their nationalist neighbours in Garvaghy Road - by the RUC, by Mo Mowlam and by Britain's Labour administration.

Donncha MacNiallais, Bogside Residents Group spokesperson, recalled events lasy year: ``Those scenes of brutality, and the violence that preceded and followed them, shocked people out of any sense of complacency. Nationalist Ireland was united in its opposition. It could never happen again, we were told. It must never happen again. With this year's marching season upon us, once again we were facing the same issues and problems. The election of a Labour government was hailed in some quarters as a ray of hope amidst the gloom. Tony Blair wasn't dependent on Unionist votes. Mo Mowlam wasn't an arrogant colonial blimp like Paddy Mayhew. Everyone agreed that things had to change. nationalist Ireland watched, waited, and hoped for change.

``Instead, we are undergoing the annual nationalist experience of watching a British government folding under the threat of unionist violence.

Last year Garvaghy Road residents were beaten into the ground in broad daylight. Today they were attacked in the dead of night. It's a clear message from the British government: unionist violence or the threat of it will dictate political response.

``Ronnie Flanagan, of the same RUC incapable of ensuring a safe passage of the worshippers of Harryville, tells us ``I did it for you.''

``It's a case of New Labour, old habits. Portadown's Orangemen were prepared to reduce the 6 Cos to anarchy and Mo Mowlam capitulated.''

Martin McGuinness put it bluntly: ``Tony Blair failed his first test in Ireland.'' Referring to John Hume's plea for people to stay off the streets, he said, ``All over the world, in Nicaragua, Chile, El Salvador, South Africa, to Palestine, the message is clear: the only place to be when demanding justice and equality is on the streets, confronting your opponent.''

The massive crowd, including many young people and the middle-aged, returned to the Bogside in a peaceful and disciplined manner.

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