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Review from ISN paper
Here's Harry's review from the ISN paper, RESISTANCE (March/April), no.5. Copies are still available in Connolly Books and Books Upstairs Dublin), Barracka Books (Cork) and Charlie Byrne's (Galway) or free from email@example.com
Solidarity with the Raytheon Nine
Eamonn McCann, Resisting War Crimes is Not a Crime: the Raytheon Nine(Derry: Derry Anti-War Coalition, 2008), 48pp, £2/€3.
By Harry Browne
If members of the anti-war community in Ireland thought we faced media indifference and obstruction, at least after February 2003 (and we did, to be sure), then imagine the utter frustration of the Raytheon Nine, who face trial soon.
The nine members of the Derry Anti-War Coalition who occupied the city offices of a military contractor in August 2006 included one of Ireland’s finest journalists, Eamonn McCann. But as reported in the March edition of Village magazine, a Derry judge ordered last December that there be no media reporting of the case, and, incredibly, no reporting about Raytheon at all – ‘such as their recent expansion announcement’.
This bizarre blanket ban, as grotesque and direct an infringement of press freedom as you’d expect to hear about in the ‘free world’, has hardly been remarked upon. The NUJ has kept silent; Village reports that, having previously called for the charges to be dropped and given that McCann is a member, the union feels itself ‘compromised’ in making any comment on the matter.
Luckily, the coalition published this excellent pamphlet before the judge came down heavy, and its circulation, while perhaps legally problematic in Northern Ireland and Britain, is hugely welcome for those of us who want to learn about and support the Raytheon defendants.
Not that McCann, who otherwise shows his rare journalistic chops with the writing and structure of this publication, focuses much on the defendants at all. Don’t look here for human interest on the nine, nor indeed for exploration of their political backgrounds and differences.
Those of us who were, let’s say, curious as to how this group of SWP members and (non-Sinn Féin) republicans came to coalesce around non-violent direct action don’t get more than a generic history of the campaigning and meetings that preceeded the Raytheon occupation and ‘decommissioning’.
At no point are the nine names even listed, though a photo of the accused appears on the back. It’s not about individuals, the message seems to be: these happen to be the nine men, but it could have been anyone from the coalition, which had vigorously and democratically approved such action. (The pamphlet opens with an account of a large meeting preceding it.)
The Derry occupation came as Israeli bombs rained on Lebanon. So, this pamphlet has two main subjects: what Israel has done in Lebanon and, to a lesser extent, Palestine; and what one of Israeli’s suppliers, the US-based multinational Raytheon, has been doing in Derry.
Both stories should be reasonably familiar, but McCann tells them superbly and thoroughly. Particularly useful is the latter tale, of how a pathetic set of patronage-hungry politicians ‘from both sides of the divide’ have lied their way through the last decade, pretending – way beyond what the company itself was willing to say – that Raytheon was not doing military work in Derry.
Not all the work here is McCann’s, despite the byline. Short articles by other interested parties – e.g. Jewish peace activist Joshua Ruebner, the editors of Non-Violent News – are scattered around, with scant referencing. But the pamphlet is at its best when McCann’s voice is clearest, in Derry and, finally, in Lebanon.
It ends with an extraordinarily emotionally powerful account of a Derry contingent’s visit to Qana, where the coalition presented a memorial stone. McCann quotes fellow defendant Kieran Gallagher, who is moved by the Lebanese scene to declare: ‘Fucking up Raytheon was the best thing I ever did in my life.’
And the author adds simply: ‘Me, too.’
Harry Browne is a columnist with Village magazine and a member of Anti-War Ireland.