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Anti-war march leaves Derry bound for Belfast

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Thursday February 13, 2003 17:10author by Ali la Pointe - Fu-fighting anti-imperialistas Report this post to the editors

Protesters retrace 4 day 1968 Civil Rights trek.

AROUND 40 people took part in the first stage of a four-day anti-war march from Derry to Belfast yesterday to protest at the possibility of war on Iraq. The march, which includes Civil Rights Movement veterans and anti-Raytheon activists, is retracing the route of the Belfast to Derry march which launched the Civil Rights campaign in 1968.

Organised by Derry’s anti-war coalition, protesters held a brief rally at the city’s Guildhall before departing on the eight-hour first-leg journey to Dungiven.

Many marchers carried banners highlighting opposition to the policy of US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair towards Iraq. Some marchers also dressed in white CND suits.

The group was joined by more marchers as it neared Dungiven for an overnight stop. Another rally was held at Dungiven Castle last night.

Stage two of the march is set to leave Dungiven at 10am today for Magherafelt, where a meeting has been arranged at the Town and Country Inn tonight.

Tomorrow morning the group will depart Magherafelt at 10am for Newtownabbey where they will be joined by anti-war protesters for a rally at the Rushpark community centre.

The march concludes on Saturday when it is due to join a Belfast city centre rally as part of an international day of action. A similar protest has been planned for Dublin.

A group spokesman said they were delighted at the support they had received from the public.

“We had a great send off and the weather has been nice to us. We understand many people will not be able to join us because of work commitments,” he said.

“But we hope they can come along even for a short distance and time as we go through the various towns,” the spokesman added.

Speaking as the march left Derry, Sinn Fein assembly member Mary Nelis described British government spending on preparation for the war as “obscene”.

“It is obscene that at a time when Gordon Brown and Tony Blair claim they are unable to pay firefighters a decent wage, when senior citizens are living on a pension well below the poverty line and when the health service needs massive investment, they can conjure up almost £2 billion to invade Iraq,” she said.

The Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign (FEIC), which also took part in the march, placed a St Brigid’s Cross -a swords into ploughshares symbol- outside the Raytheon Plant on Derry’s Branch Road.

While no arms are manufactured at the Derry facility, Raytheon is the world's largest missile manufacurer and is using the Derry plant to develop ASTOR (Airborne Stand Off Radar) targeting software for its missile and attack aircraft co-ordination with £800 million British Ministry of Defence funds.

FEIC spokeswoman Rose Kelly said the move was in protest at the possible use of weapons manufactured by Raytheon in any war on Iraq. Raytheon, the manufacturers of cluster bombs, daisy cutters, hellfire, sidewinder and tomahawk missiles, are responsible for the "Bunker Buster" cruise missile which incinerated 400 Iraqi civilians taking refuge in a bomb shelter in Baghdad during the last Gulf War.

author by Goretti Horgan - Derry Anti War Coalition and SWPpublication date Fri Feb 14, 2003 14:22author email gorettih at aol dot comauthor address Derryauthor phone Report this post to the editors

The response the marchers have been getting along the way has been amazing....people stopping their cars to offer food and accommodation and local people joining in the march as it goes through towns and villages. There were over 20 people at the Dungiven public meeting and over 40 people at the public meeting in Magherafelt! A Magherafelt Stop the War Coalition was set up at that meeting which includes Sinn Fein, The Workers Party, Socialist Party and loads of independents. Also, the three-day march has meant that the media has had to cover the anti-war movement at least a little - the NI media tends to be uninterested in any story that is not about Catholics Vs Protestants. One of the remarkable things about the anti-war movement is the way that Protestants and Catholics have come together without anyone really caring who is what - a nice change for the North!
There are now two full buses from Derry going to Belfast and we will probably have a third, this is despite the fact that loads of people are making their own way there and 30 of the 'usual suspects' are walking to Belfast...in the past, there have been difficulties filling even one bus! It looks as if the Belfast march will be the biggest non-sectarian demonstration for years that isn't about something to do specifically with the Northern 'situation'.

author by Shane OCurry - feicerpublication date Fri Feb 14, 2003 17:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Heard them on the radio this morning as they were leaving Magherafelt. Made th'oul' heart swell. heard the response has been great, wherever they go. Free nosh in Magherafelt! Shows that ordinary people refuse to believe the lies they are told, even when the in-security services are using paranoia tactics like militarising airports to terrorise the populace into changing its position on the war. It shows the way for those who think ordinary people can do nothing. It makes me ashamed of sitting here at my computer...

 
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