Civil rights campaigner backs anti-RAAD protest

A veteran civil rights activist is calling for support for a weekend rally protesting against the activities of Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD).

Dermie McClenaghan, who was a leading light in the civil rights movement in Derry in the 1960s, says people should “turn out in large numbers” for Saturday’s rally at Guildhall Square (3 p.m.)

He said: “RAAD’s defiance is related directly to what they consider is either support for them or apathy among the the Derry public as regards what they are and what they do.

“It is difficult to imagine the extremes to which it would go if it felt it had a ‘free hand’ altogether. It is up to the people of the city to tell them that they do not. Indifference to the activity of RAAD is interpreted by it as permission and, thus, support for it.

“It is aware that the issue of drug abuse is an emotive one and so it attaches itself to that issue. If it was a sincere and caring organisation and truly interested in the welfare of people, it would by now realise that the problem of drug abuse and other problems that working class people have to put up with are deeply rooted in the nature of the society in which we live. It is that reality it should be focusing on rather than reducing the problem to the behaviour of individuals. By doing this it is dealing with the consequences rather than the causes.”

Mr. McClenaghan says that “not in a million years” will RAAD prevent the abuse of drugs.

“If it continues with its activities, it will drive drug activity underground where it will flourish in conditions more suitable to its needs. RAAD must stop what it is doing. It is wrong. It must consider the dehumanising effect its activities are having on the young people in the city. Stop maiming and killing working class people. Stop reducing the problem to the weakness of, and behaviour of, working class people. Look at the causes of the behaviour of working class people. Stop maiming and killing them.”