“this is not a flash in the pan..”

The front-page of yesterday’s Irish News provided a timely reminder of the failure of some to understand, nevermind accept, the “basis of a civilised society” that the rule of law represents. Others, of course, are all too aware of the importance of due process.. The self-declared Direct Action Concerned Families Against Drugs (CFAD), described in the report as “a new community group”, were boasting of their “success” in north Belfast – Holy Cross Monastry in Ardoyne also appears to have been co-opted into their campaign. From the Irish News report [link added]

CFAD came into being in September and has since organised white-line pickets and collected 5000 signatures from residents and businesses in support of its work. It initially targeted four people by sending letters to their homes telling them that families in the area knew of their activities and were appealing to them to stop. Letters were later also sent to neighbours informing them about the group’s actions. It was made known that people could go to the monastry to discuss the situation. The group said last night that 20 people have now come forward and pledged to quit involvement with drugs. It said members have also visited some homes and physically removed drugs such as cannabis.

The report also noted that the 20 people “know that their behaviour will in future be monitored” – [By “volunteers patrolling” the neighbourhood? – Ed]. I wonder what Policing Board member Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson now thinks of “that type of action”? As I’ve noted before, Newton Emerson said it best about that ubiquitous “community” label.

Because community implies grassroots legitimacy it is an ideal disguise for such top-down exercises in social control. Being so deliberately ill-defined it is also a tricky disguise to unmask. But unmask it we must if we are not to be told who we are, what we are, how to think and where to think it by everyone anxious to group us under their own agendas. A fair society, as St Augustine observed, must comprise one community of law.

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  • Mark McGregor

    Barking up the wrong tree here Pete. This project isn’t under any political patronage. It is however a direct response to the utter failure of the PSNI and their cheerleaders to deal with the crime the group is so effectively targeting.

  • Peter
  • Comedy Worker

    Another branch of Thugs R Us opens.

    How dare the PSNI try to police using only lawful and human rights compliant methods.

    What is so important about evidence anyway?

    Somebody told me that they heard that somebody had said that they heard somebody talking about hearing someone say that they knew somebody who had a mate who was sure he had read something about somebody knowing who the drug dealers were.

    Guilty as charged! Hang em!

  • Padraig

    Thank God for people like this giving of their free time for the public good.

    If they are taking up a collection to purchase good quality automatic weapons I hope they come calling at my door, I’ll give them all I have and join them if they’ll have me.

    May good bless these brave men and women they are in my prayers and I know they have the full support of all right thinking people in the area.

  • spadesaspade

    Not too many local people are as quick to allow credence to statements issued by M Anderson.
    Her recent track record has turned into a joke.
    An excellent example of this was when she recently appeared on television with the full dramatic version of a rape (not an alleged rape) behind a local bar the previous night. In her statement she went to great lengths to point out that in all the years of the troubles, local woman had never experienced the fear that was now present in the community, she now represents. Her advise to viewers was that this animal had to be removed from society for the safety of the local community.
    Furthermore if anyone with information as to who carried out this hideous crime were not prepared to deal with the police ,she would relay the information directly.
    At the same time she decided to organise a candle lit procession to Free Derry Corner the following night with the impression of showing support for the American tourist raped. Had she have bothered to spend 5 minutes investigating the events of the previous night she would surely have given a different interview to the press and not been as quick to call for any vigils. However as it must be when you’re in the limelight and having possession of more realistic accounts supplied by actual witness’s of the previous nights events her morality shone through.
    Oh yes she went ahead with the vigil by which time the young man charged with the Alleged offence was now out on bail.
    In the last few weeks the same young man has been found not guilty of any such offence.
    Local people are dismayed at her lack of professionalism in that as a member of the local policing authority surely we are all innocent until proven guilty. The very least local people were expecting from our locally elected representative was an acknowledgement of her mistakes and totally shabby treatment of a young local man who will no doubt be branded for life as the boy who got away with rape.
    If this is the standard of common sense required to become a member of a policing board we’re in big trouble and so is her better for Derry project.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Barking up the wrong tree here Pete. This project isn’t under any political patronage. It is however a direct response to the utter failure of the PSNI and their cheerleaders to deal with the crime the group is so effectively targeting.

    Mark, if this group were doing exactly the same thing that they are doing now, but wearing police uniforms, you’d be right here posting youtube videos and talking about heavy-handed tactics. Given that you have made clear recently that you don’t and won’t support “British policing”, irrespective of how effective or ineffective it is, I don’t think your comments on their capability to deal with crime are that relevant.

    The article says they’re removing cannabis. If they’re going to define cannabis as an evil substance which damages communities, where next ? Would you approve if they were entering people’s houses to confiscate alcohol ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Very interesting, Nevin. The rules are very clear that the site is monitored daily and that offensive or sectarian comments will be monitored; but there’s a guy there posting under the name “FTPSNI” and there’s another contribution under a name which appears to be emanating from the drug-dealing INLA.

    I think it tells us most of what we need to know.

  • wild turkey

    spadesaspade

    You don’t get it, do you? I will try to break this to you gently.

    Guys are guilty even when proven innocent. Women are innocent even if proven guilty.

    The war may be lost… but the struggle continues. So just layoff Martina. She tries her best and therefore cannot be wrong or mistaken.

    Nevin

    I believe there is a similar website (think it is called MethMommies.com) in Wasilla Alaska. Can’t find the link at the moment but it does feature a granny of a very famous now(or soon to be) newborn Alaskan.

    Anyway, thanks for the link to CFAD. I have shared it with my kids. At times, we ponder, then laugh. Callous perhaps, but as a result we are drawn closer together as a family unit.

    thanks

  • USA

    More waffling from Peter Baker.
    I browsed through their online stuff and these folks seem to be commited individuals who care for their community, their children and the environment in which they live.
    This type of community liason goes on in the US within African American communites, Hispanic communities and many others. They work with law enforcement to help get the job done.
    This is just Baker again trying to make cheap political capital.
    The vast majority of his posts are just a biased exercise in blinkered pettiness.
    As the ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahearn once said in the Dail “You are a waffler, you’ve been wafflin around here for years”.
    I did see Martin Meehan listed as a member for what its worth.

  • Mark McGregor

    USA,

    That’s Mairtin og Meehan (son) and he’s a key figure in this non-SF approved group.

    CS,

    Most of my post is additional info but feel free to disregard it because you don’t agree with my politics. I assume you are disregarding my blogs too? Silly attitude tbh and I’m surprised you’d adopt it.

  • spadesaspade

    Sorry wild turkey.
    I didn`t know the war was lost.
    I thought it was thrown away (surrendered for 30 pieces).

  • Driftwood

    I hope CFAD are going to be monitoring pharmacies, and GP surgeries for possible over prescriptions of SSRI’s etc.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/health/confessions-of-an-opiateeater-13985061.html

    It’s important that CFAD have all the pharmacological facts and experience available to them in their altruistic mission. A sort of SWAT team to supplement the Salvation Army and the NI Community Addiction Service. Shame on the cynics and naysayers who are only pouring scorn on this vital initiative. The government should be handing out massive grants to this group in order to…cont p94

  • Wild Turkey, did you get my earlier email?

  • Confronting drugs scourge

    ONE of the most disturbing issues facing families in Ardoyne in recent times has been the alarming rise of drug abuse. That has led to a surge in criminality, house-breaking, robberies, kidnappings and anti-social activity.

    Given these facts, scores of residents recently met and agreed to address this issue. As a result, a steering-committee was elected and a new group called Concerned Families Against Drugs was established.

    In an attempt to raise awareness about the damage, drugs is causing to countless families within this community we recently held a public meeting to ask fellow residents how best to deal with these ongoing problems.

    Concerned families Against Drugs are currently in the process of adopting a radical approach to stop drugs barons destroying lives. Our next step is to also consult other groups and community leaders and to ensure proper resources are made available to families in need.

    Afterwards, we will hold another public meeting. Where residents will be notified how we intend proceeding. In the meantime, we urge families to stop turning a blind eye to those selling and using drugs.

    MÁIRTÍN Óg MEEHAN
    Runaí,
    Concerned Families Against Drugs,
    Belfast.

  • McGrath

    Barking up the wrong tree here Pete. This project isn’t under any political patronage. It is however a direct response to the utter failure of the PSNI and their cheerleaders to deal with the crime the group is so effectively targeting.

    Posted by Mark McGregor on Dec 20, 2008 @ 01:54 PM

    You are not concerned that this group is operating out side the law? Did they have a search warrant for the action described? If someone doesnt fall into line with these people and gets a bullet in the back of the head, will you be OK with that?

    This seems like 1930’s German politics or has the Taliban infiltrated West Belfast?

  • Máirtín Óg Meehan
    Full Member
    ***
    Irish Republican Socialist Forum

    CFAD Letter in North Belfast News
    « Thread Started on Nov 27, 2008, 7:58pm »
    The following letter was published in tonight’s North Belfast News, thought you all should read it;

    ‘A chara,

    We would like to congratulate the North Belfast News’ recent editorial on our community response to the drug plague ravaging our streets.

    The editorial was a balanced reflection on both the people’s emerging initiative against drugs whilst also highlighting the PSNI failure to combat this effectively.

    However in recent weeks it has become clear that not everyone understands what this group is about. There have been attempts to smear our work with lies, falsehoods, dangerous innuendo and manufactured lies.

    Consequently, let us take this opportunity to reiterate that we are not a flag of convience for any political or armed group, nor do we represent any political or armed group. All attempts to discredit us will fail because the response to our initiative is growing as is the support of our people.

    Progress to date has been staggering. Three cannabis factories have been uncovered. Twenty people have come forward and used the facility of the church to reveal their involvement in the distribution of drugs. Furthermore, the homes of known drug dealers have been presented with a letter to end their activities. The neighbours of drug dealers have been informed of who lives beside them. Along with this a petition is going around the area, gathering support for this initiative.

    Having said all this the battle against drugs is a long one and filled with many pitfalls and obstacles, we need council and guidance on our way. As stated in this week’s Holy Cross Parish Bulletin, Fr. Gary CP PP will facilitate and offer sanctuary to anyone who seeks such protection in an independent manner as is the history of the Passionists since 1869. Thus far, many have sought his independent facilitation skills in this matter. This comes having been reassured his only affiliation is to the Gospel which he stated in previous media coverage. Once contacted he remains in his words duty bound by his vocation to assist in so far as he can.

    Finally, if all that we can achieve is saving one son, one daughter or one family from the evil of drugs, then it will be worth it!’

    Is Mise, Gerard (Cleaky) Clarke

    CONCERNED FAMILIES AGAINST DRUGS

  • Jimmy Sands

    I don’t know how you can all be so cynical about Mr. Meehan’s no doubt heartfelt concern at criminality, robberies and kidknappings. It’s the same sort of negative attitude which doomed OJ Simpson’s efforts to bring his late wife’s murderer to justice. Let’s wish him and his friend Mr. Clarke every good wish in restoring decency to a damaged society.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Most of my post is additional info but feel free to disregard it because you don’t agree with my politics. I assume you are disregarding my blogs too? Silly attitude tbh and I’m surprised you’d adopt it.

    Mark,

    I don’t agree with your politics but that’s nothing to do with it. You don’t consider that there is any possible way that “British policing” can be worthy of support, so what’s the point in getting into a debate with you on the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the PSNI (which is one of the issues you raised in your blog) ? Does your ideological view on the legitimacy of the police effect your ability to comment rationally on it and rationally on the need for things like due process, rights of stop and search or entry to a dwelling, etc ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Incidentally, that Bebo page suggest an organization run by wingnuts. There is a comment from a person who claims that the police are aware that he uses cannabis, and they tell him to just stay out of sight when he does so. Sounds reasonable to me.

    Following that comment, an individual, presumably one of the organizers of this group, claims that the PSNI failure to arrest people using cannabis on the street shows that they don’t care about the community. This clearly ignores current practice in the UK and Ireland which is not to arrest or prosecute people using, or in possession of, small amounts of hash. This obsession with what the rest of the world considers a relatively inoffensive drug, and the associated involvement of the priestcraft (and their wholehearted commitment to nothing other than the gospel – as if the church hasn’t got a history of social interference of it’s own), suggests to me that we are in the presence of a right-wing nutjob agenda.

    I’d be very critical if the police were arresting cannabis users in public. I’d want to know why their resources were not being expended dealing with car crime and anti-social behaviour which is in turn often alcohol-fuelled, at least in my recent experience.

  • frustrated democrat

    It seems the intelligence information about drugs and drug dealers in this group is mind boggling.

    I have three questions

    1. If the drug dealers tell them to bugger off what will they do?

    2. Do they work with and have they given all the information they hold to the PSNI?

    3. Do they consider themselves to be an alternative to the PSNI?

  • Paul Pot

    I much preferred it in the old days, when all you had to do was pop into Kellys Cellars in the afternoon……..

  • Mark McGregor

    CS,

    The focus of the group seems to be the impact on their community through the use of drugs – mainly how users get the money to pay those dealing ie criminality.

    Regardless of personal views on the harm caused by use, a community dealing with the reprecussions of how that use is paid for is standing up for and protecting itself by dealing with the source of their problems – suppliers/dealers – something the RUC/PSNI has shown no interest in.

    I of course don’t expect the embodiment of British rule in Ireland to act against activity that would damage a working class and mainly republican community.

    I applaud those that act together to prevent damage to them and their neighbours. I applaud any person ensuring an already impoverished society challenges those that would feed and create groups that leech of them. I especially applaud those that recognise the armed wing of Britain in Ireland won’t and can’t play a role in empowering them.

    CFAD abu!

  • Jimmy Sands

    Mark,

    I’d e interested in your answers to FDs questions. #1 in particular.

  • Mark McGregor

    Jimmy,

    I’m not part of the group.

    However, I’d like to see them use numbers/community to overcome any objection and remove their supply.

    They seem to have successfully done that already.

    As for working with the peelers – I object to that on ideoligical grounds but the reason they have had to take community action is due to the inability or deliberate inaction of the RUC so they already excluded themselves from this proactive, nonviolent and successful community response to those feeding a situation that destroys their society.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “I’d like to see them use numbers”

    22? 45? 88?

  • Mark McGregor

    Don’t really get that Jimmy.

    Enough to ensure the safety of those confronting the dealers. Enough to ensure they know targetting of one member of the community opposing them won’t make an impact. Enough to get them to shut up shop.

  • Dave

    A similar vigilante group in Dublin, Concerned Parents Against Drugs, was a protection racket that was run by Sinn Fein/PIRA as a means of extorting money from drug dealers. The drug dealers who paid the protection money where protected from harassment by so-called ‘concerned parents’ while those who refused to pay had their business disrupted or were simply shot. One of the Sinn Fein/PIRA members behind the group is now one of the biggest drug dealers in the city.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Were they the ones who murdered Josie Dwyer?

  • y o y

    those suppliers and dealers were spawned and nurtured by that community ffs
    get a grip.theyre your own people
    noone elses. its shows how meehan et al are prepared to help the most vulnerable of their own people…. because that what most of the low level dealers are
    meehan is well known to be on a power trip…

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • dunreavynomore

    dave
    indeed! republicans my eye.
    Mark is your ideological position on police just with the psni or police in general?

    (I have to submit the word ‘stop’ these peelers are everywhere ,

  • Tir Eoghain Gael

    Cannabis is nowhere near as harmful as alcohol and in my experience does not lead to anti social behaviour as the user generally couldn’t be bothered to create havoc when under the influence unlike the sense of bravado that someone feels while under the influence of drink.
    Most Cannabis users don’t even leave the house while using it and the only thing they are inclined to attack is a pizza.

  • frustrated democrat

    Mark

    You don’t speak for the group but seem to suggest you don’t want them to pass any information to the PSNI. You then want to criticise the PSNI for not doing anything, however all policing relies on cooperation and information from the public to succeed.

    Do you see the contradiction in your position?

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    You know the arguments about a NI Human Rights Act?

    Have an attempt at assessing what existing rights are being breached by this self-appointed group of vigilantees?

    Because it’s not about what actions some people are prepared to carry out. Some people are prepared to do just about anything.

    The important thing is how those actions are moderated and how the people carrying them out are accountable – that’s as true for the private citizen as it is for the State.

    This vigilantee group tramples over everyone’s rights, under the convenient cover of a “community” group label.

    But it’s always interesting to see how readily some are prepared to embrace their fascistic tendencies – just as long as it’s in the pursuit of their ideological position.

    Try to make sure you don’t end up on one of their lists.

  • GavBelfast

    Mark, you seem like a good ‘un for talking-up the antics of proxies – while not being a member of course?

  • Adolf

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Pete, it certainly is interesting to see “how readily some are prepared to embrace their fascistic tendencies”, whether in Ardoyne or this board. If those who police others feel they don’t have to be held accountable, or can tell others how to think, we do indeed move away from a fair society where the rules are thrown out the window by those ‘in charge’.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mark:

    The focus of the group seems to be the impact on their community through the use of drugs – mainly how users get the money to pay those dealing ie criminality.

    Which I don’t accept, and which you won’t be able to prove. People, especially teenagers, who are smoking and don’t have any money definitely commit crime (often stealing off their own parents) in order to fund their habit. Drugs which happen to be illegal aren’t a prerequisite for crime.

    I’m in no way attempting to diminish the seriousness of crimes against the elderly, anti-social behaviour, and all the rest. I have to deal with this (albeit not to quite the same extent) here in Newtownabbey and I can appreciate the frustration when the police appear to be impotent in the face of a group of teenagers damaging properties, harrassing people and lighting fires. But it’s nothing to do with illegal drugs. The temptation to resort to vigilantism is difficult to resist, but I am well aware that it would create more problems than it would solve.

    Regardless of personal views on the harm caused by use

    I would emphasise that we are not talking about my personal views. It’s general policing practice here and elsewhere not to come down hard on people smoking or caught with small quantities of dope, and we’re not that far away from the day when it might be entirely legal to do so.

    What you are advocating here is heavy-handed policing, by people other than the police.

    , a community dealing with the reprecussions of how that use is paid for is standing up for and protecting itself by dealing with the source of their problems – suppliers/dealers – something the RUC/PSNI has shown no interest in.

    No police force in the UK or Ireland, and I suspect much of the USA and Europe, takes much interest in small-time dope dealers unless there is real evidence of other crime on the side. So I can’t accept this particular point as a criticism of the police here. Of course, their effectiveness in dealing with anti-social behaviour, burglary and assault is another matter, but that’s not what this article is about.

    And we know they’re not big time drug dealers, because if they were, there’d be dead CFAD supporters littering the streets. Try marching up to the house of a dealer in Dolphin’s Barn or Ballybrack and asking him to go to a monastery and promise not to be bad again, and tell me what happens.

    I of course don’t expect the embodiment of British rule in Ireland to act against activity that would damage a working class and mainly republican community.

    Except cannabis possession or dealing on a small scale in the Irish republic is treated in much the same way – ie not very seriously at all. So it’s nothing to do with British rule in Ireland.

    I applaud those that act together to prevent damage to them and their neighbours.

    Agreed absolutely. We need more of it. Unfortunately the only way to do it is in concert with the police and the law. Entering the houses of suspected criminals and circulating letters accusing them of crimes is almost certainly illegal, and the police are showing a degree of leniency towards this which many people would considered unjustified. You can’t just make up your own list of what is a crime or is not and start enforcing it, not here or in the 32-county republic, or you’ll quickly have a complete collapse.

    I applaud any person ensuring an already impoverished society challenges those that would feed and create groups that leech of them.

    So when are the offlicenses, tobacconists and bookie shops going to get shut down in Ardoyne ?

    I especially applaud those that recognise the armed wing of Britain in Ireland won’t and can’t play a role in empowering them.

    CFAD abu!

    This is daft as a brush and I don’t think you’re really this nonsensical. Smalltime cannabis dealers don’t get police attention in Britain or Ireland.

  • catchagrip

    why doesn’t this group just put up some burning crosses outside the doors of those they accuse/suspect. Maybe a few lynchings ….sure wouldn’t that be justice?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m keen to tease out a couple of key points :

    – the group try to present themselves as going after the source of drugs, but they are in fact going after small time dealers, not kingpins, and they’re going after substances with no serious connection with crime. The effect on anti-social behaviour and burglary in West Belfast is likely to be close to nil.

    – what is being advocated here is heavy handed policing. Due process is to be bypassed where it is seen to be expedient to do so. The human rights of the suspects are not to be accounted for. It’s important to point out that these methods have the support of people who call themselves republicans, and it provides some interesting insight into the kind of society they want to create.

  • Jimmy Sands

    This is of course the provisional agenda, first to eviscerate the legitimate police force by propaganda and non-co-operation, and then whilst affecting concern at it ineffectiveness, fill the void with vigilantes under the control of its members. Perhaps Meehan and Clarke will offer to re-open the McCartney case?