The Socialist Party has called for a fair trial for the prisoners known as the Craigavon Two. They were convicted of the killing of PSNI officer Stephen Carroll in Craigavon and are currently appealing their life sentences.
It has been argued that much of the evidence against them is suspect and that the PSNI has interfered with their right to a fair hearing at their appeal. A key prosecution witness has been described as a “Walter Mitty” character by his own father. The PSNI arrested a defence witness at an earlier stage of the appeal knowing that to do so would interfere with the hearing.
The background to their trial is that a number of small dissident republican paramilitary groups are maintaining intermittent campaigns with very little support. Such campaigns are entirely futile and deepen sectarian division.
Poverty, sectarianism and injustice can only be overcome through a united struggle by Catholic and Protestant working class people for a better life for all.
The state – the PSNI, MI5 and the courts – have responded to the dissident campaigns by seeking to imprison those it considers to be involved by a variety of methods. A number of individuals have been effectively interned without trial, mostly through the revoking of licences of previous life sentence prisoners. Others have been imprisoned on the basis of weak evidence or been entrapped by secret service agents. Over the recent period the evidence of supergrasses has been used against loyalists.
Methods such as these must be opposed by all socialist and trade union activists. Repressive methods actually act to win sympathy for the dissident groups in working class areas, though the vast majority of working class people remain resolutely opposed to their dead end campaigns. Furthermore, the repression meted out to dissident groups today will be used tomorrow against the one force which has the ability to change society for the better – the organised working class acting through its trade unions, genuine campaigning groups, and left political groups and parties.
The Socialist Party organises in both Catholic and Protestant working class communities in Northern Ireland and fights for workers unity and a socialist alternative to capitalism, poverty and sectarianism. We have a proud history of opposing the repressive methods of the state and will continue to so without giving an ounce of support to paramilitary groups which play an entirely negative role.