RAAD: you're only making things worse
On Thursday last, a Sinn Fein spokesperson in west Belfast expressed alarm at the growing drugs problem in the area.
Councillor Arthur Carson warned that pushers were now targeting school-children.
Two nights earlier, the former republican paramilitaries now operating under the cover-name Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) had fired shots into a house in Dove Gardens in the Bogside. The shooting sparked a major riot when the PSNI moved in, disrupting the area for hours and spreading fear among many residents.
The gang told the Journal that, "unfortunately", the man they had been trying to murder had escaped injury. However, they boasted, they had discovered and destroyed 12 cannabis plants the previous week. Which is laughable, or would be if RAAD wasn't skulking in the shadows looking for unarmed victims to kill.
The relevance of west Belfast lies in the fact that the group which RAAD bases itself on, Direct Action Against Drugs, shot dead 10 alleged pushers in Belfast between April 1994 and September 1996. An unknown number of others were forced out - "exiled".
At the time, DAAD offered exactly the same justification as RAAD do in Derry now - that the community and especially the young must be protected against the dangers of drugs. DAAD statements then and RAAD statements now could easily be interchanged.
What reason is there to believe that the tactic which failed so dismally then will work now? Any chance anybody from RAAD will explain this to us? I suppose not.
The main effect of RAAD's activities is to make it even more difficult to have a rational, adult debate about the nature of the drugs problem and what the best remedy might be. They are making things worse, not better. But I don't suppose they care much about that either.
Incidentally, if it had been "dissidents" rather than RAAD - who, in republican terms, are not dissidents at all - who had taken control of an area and tried to kill a local resident, triggering rioting on a par with recent trouble elsewhere, would not the statements of condemnation have been more numerous, more strident and carried more prominently in news bulletins?
Now why would that be?
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