Eamonn McCann: Futile violence witnessed in Derry an obstacle to radical change

Eamonn McCann
Eamonn McCann

Hardly anybody in Derry supports attacks on the Fountain or believes that last night’s use of guns against the police serves any good purpose.

We have a host of intractable problems in Derry and across the North, with young people in particular in working-class communities understandably feeling that they have been left behind. The activities of the last few nights do nothing whatever to address this situation.

We need mass action to effect radical change. But nothing deters mass political action like the sound of petrol bombs and gunfire ringing out in the streets. If this were to continue, it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed, likely an innocent person with no involvement in what’s happening.

Whatever about young people going on a rampage, there can have been nothing casual or spontaneous about fetching out an automatic weapon and loosing off shots in the general direction of the police.

It's hard to believe this was a 'lone-wolf' operation. Somebody must have given the go-ahead. They must have had a conscious political purpose.

If the purpose was to show that armed struggle for a united Ireland is still a viable option, those responsible are either careless of the facts or seriously deluded.

We do need fundamental political change, to deal with unemployment, poverty, health, education etc., which affect young people with their lives ahead of them more than anybody else.- and also to deal with injustices rooted in recent history.

It is in no way to condone the activities of the last few nights to say that the release of Tony Taylor, who shouldn't be in jail in the first place, might do more to alleviate the present situation in Derry than all the appeals from community organisations and political parties. The Secretary of State could do this at the stroke of a pen.

We have to encourage an understanding that actions which further divide the working class are counter-productive to solving working-class problems.

That means offering a perspective which goes beyond competition between the Protestant and Catholic communities - the traditional basis of politics in the North - and instead offers at least the possibility of common action, uniting rather than further dividing the society we share.

We are up for a fight against inequality and injustice. But rocks, petrol bombs and guns cannot be part of that fight.

We say this as a united Ireland party which wants to see the island coming together into a society where justice prevails, economic equality is the norm, and neutrality is reasserted in the wider world. Conversations along these lines are made enormously more difficult by the sort of activity we have seen over the last few nights.

We need an end to it.