RWG : Defend Freedom of Speech

On the morning of Wednesday 7th February, Anthony McIntyre - a member of the Irish Republican Writers Group (IRWG) - was physically attacked and injured by one of the leading participants in the recent Sinn Fein led pickets on his home in West Belfast. This was but the latest in a long line of intimidation of members of the IRWG. When Anthony McIntyre and Tommy Gorman of the IRWG issued a statement last November accusing the Provisional IRA of being behind the killing of Real IRA member Joe O’Connor, their houses were picketed and they were subject to threats and intimidation.

At that time, the WSM issued the following statement: "The Workers Solidarity Movement is totally opposed to the intimidation of members of the Republican Writers Group in Belfast. After publishing a statement about the killing of Joe O’Connor in Ballymurphy, Anthony McIntyre and Tommy Gorman have been subjected to threats, and to pickets of their homes. The Republican Writers Group members have made it clear that their statement was not intended to place anyone in danger, no names were mentioned. However, it appears that the republican leadership have used that statement as an excuse to restrict free speech and discussion. The Republican Writers Group have helped to facilitate debate among republicans, while at all times rejecting any suggestion of a return to armed struggle. But this debate isn’t popular with republican leaders who seemingly believe that they are above criticism. They arrogantly give to themselves the right to decide what viewpoints we may hear, and to set limits to debate. All who subscribe to the principle of free speech should reject this authoritarian behaviour, and join the call for an end to the threats and intimidation."

In the light of this latest attack on McIntyre, we re-iterate this statement. As anarchists, we see freedom of speech and the right to express political opinions as being of paramount importance. Condemnation of attacks on the free speech of the IRWG does not in any way imply that we see republicanism as having anything to offer the working class of either the 6 or 26 County states. We do not see either republicanism or loyalism as having anything to offer. We wish to see an atmosphere free of intimidation which will allow for the free flow of political ideas - a flow from which a new politics will ultimately emerge - one which will put allegiance to class above allegiance to flag.

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This edition is No63 published in March 2001