Hundreds attend anti-RAAD rally

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Up to 1000 people attended a rally calling for vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) to disband in the Guildhall Square yesterday.

The public protest was organised by the ‘RAAD - Not In Our Name’ group and was attended by MLAs and councillors from both Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

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Recently, RAAD claimed responsibility for the murder of Waterside man Andy Allen in Buncrana and on Wednesday night they carried out paramilitary style shootings on two young men in the Bogside.

Speaking at the rally was the uncle of RAAD murder victim Andy Allen, William Allen.

Mr. Allen described RAAD as a “bunch of cowards” and told them to “get lost”.

“They say that there’s no pain worse than that of childbirth but there is, it’s called child death.

“When they removed Andy’s body from the house to be buried the sound I heard coming from his mother was unnatural and it’s something I never want to experience it again. It’s time for RAAD to stop with their black propaganda. They are nothing but a gang of murderers, child abusers, cowards and liars - it’s time for them to get lost.”

Earlier this week RAAD issued threats against four young men. Two of the men were shot in the ankles in the Bogside on Thursday evening but a community worker associated with the Rosemount Community Centre revealed on Friday evening that the threat against the other two men had been lifted after negotiations.

Speaking at yesterday’s rally, SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey welcomed the lifting of the threat but called on RAAD to stop terrorising the people of Derry.

Mr. Ramsey said: “This is a welcomed move especially from the families’ perspective as they were living under severe stress and pressure as a result of these threats.

“Clearly this move was taken by the organisation to reflect the mood of the people of Derry. I would urge them to go further and reflect the mood in Derry properly. They need to immediately lift all the death threats on people living in Derry and the dozens who have been exiled.”

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney said that RAAD were not a republican group and added that anyone with information pertaining to the group should contact the PSNI.

“I have been a republican all of my life and I can tell you now that what RAAD is doing has nothing to do with Irish republicanism. I would call on anyone with information about the group to take it to the police so we can get those responsible for attacking our community locked up behind bars.”

Veteran journalist and civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann said RAAD were making the drugs problem in Derry worse.

“RAAD are utterly useless. Irony and hypocrisy is wasted on them. What they are doing doesn’t work. They are making the drug problem in our city worse and it’s time that they put down their guns and stand down immediately.”