Union backs miscarriage of justice campaign

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One of Britain’s largest unions has passed a motion calling for the conviction of two County Armagh men known as the ‘Craigavon 2’ to be reviewed.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) passed the motion earlier this month.

Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton have always denied involvement in the Continuity IRA attack on a PSNI patrol in which a senior PSNI member was killed. Mr McConville is currently serving a 25 year sentence while Mr Wootton is serving 18 years.

The men were hurriedly jailed amid a security backlash in 2009 by British authorities following the Continuity IRA attack, as well as a Real IRA gun attack the previous day in which two British soldiers were killed.

Despite massive errors, contradictions and state secrecy over the evidence presented, it took five years before an appeal was heard in 2014. However, the Court of Appeal in Belfast refused the appeal and the case is currently being considered by the Criminal Case Review Commission.

The RMT currently represents 83,000 members across Britain. Its motion, which has now been adopted as national policy, “acknowledge concerns about how the convictions of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were achieved and call on the Criminal Cases Review Commission to fully investigate the case”.

Senior assistant general secretary Steve Hedley said members are concerned about the “miscarriage of justice which has happened for nearly a decade now”.

“We have looked at the evidence as a union and we think at the very least there should be a review of what happened,” he said.

“It’s no good waiting for 20 odd years and having a review after that and setting people free when their lives are destroyed.”

Their call comes amid continuing pressure for justice reforms in Ireland, including an end to internment, the use of special courts, and the mistreatment of prisoners.

The Anti-Internment Group of Ireland organised a demonstration in Newry last weekend. Addressing the rally, Stephen Murney called for the release of the Craigavon 2. He also condemned the continued incarceration without trial of republican activist Tony Taylor.

“Tony’s wife Lorraine, and their children, have suffered immensely as a result of the Internment of Tony,” he said.

“Lorraine herself has travelled across the country and has spoke at countless events and rallies to highlight and raise awareness around this grave injustice.

“The Taylor family must be commended for their strength and resolve in the face of such hardship, hardship that most of us here can’t imagine.”

He urged people to continue to speak up against injustice, despite the oppressive and vindictive actions of the state forces in the North.

“Those of us who have been most vocal in opposing these unjust policies and our families, have paid a heavy personal price in the form of constant Crown Force ‘stop and searches’, house raids, and, ultimately, the loss of liberty,” he said.

“We are bearing the brunt of it every day of the week. Internment was wrong and unjust in previous years and it remains as equally wrong and unjust today.

“Each and every one of us here today have a responsibility to ensure that these issues don’t go unchallenged. It is our duty as republicans to stand up, speak out for and defend the oppressed.”

 

* A 2018 National March Against Internment organised by the Anti-Internment League will take place this year on Saturday 11th August, departing Writers’ Square in Donegall Street at 1pm and marching to Belfast City Hall.

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