RAAD interview on Newsnight prompts more questions

Newsnight’s featured report last night by the excellent Liz MacKean on RAADS in Derry (extract) was a welcome if depressing reminder to the wider audience that is hasn’t all gone away you know.  RAAD boasted that they have all the “resources” of the IRA. This is what you’d expect them to say, in the interview which was restaged with the use of actors. Just as graphic in the report was the sight of rubble and graffiti, the debris of a disturbed community, among so much new building. In the follow-up live two way, presenter Emily Maitlis’ posture of incredulity that all this was going on unsettled and surprised Justice Minister David Ford ( see in whole programme).  Did he really expect understanding that it was all so difficult?

It was unwise to begin his reply by stressing his arms length role and the operational responsibility of the PSNI. Operational responsibility is a great old cop-out for the politicians, though David Ford is probably generally less guilty of evasion than most.

Paramilitary activity should be faced as a political problem for power sharing, not one to be ducked because of history. Ford’s argument was that it was important neither to exaggerate nor underplay the phenomenon. Well probably. But what we didn’t learn was what the wider community was doing about it.  Are they still as helpless in the face of  hoodlum violence as they were during the armed struggle? How mixed up is RAAD with dissident republicanism? And why do these hoods get bail when they go out and re-offend? I genuinely ask.

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  • Mick Fealty

    It was a good piece as always when Liz McKeen comes to Northern Ireland. But it could have borne slightly closer questioning of the IRA man whose own child had been shot by RAAD?

    The Minister might not have had to bear the full frontal rage of Ms Matliss, for one thing…

  • sonofstrongbow

    If I were a RAAD member I imagine looking around I’d be fairly comfortable with where I’m at.

    The wider Republican community with its ‘sensitivities’ around effective policing provides cover that ensures that robust criminal investigation will not happen. The validation of past violence by Republicans, and some journalists: the use of the term “armed struggle” abounds, would lead me to surmise that my actions will one day be accepted, at the very least within my community.

    Also interacting with former colleagues, now comfortably embedded as ‘community workers’ or NGO apparatchiks to ‘dissuade’ me from my contemporary path would all lead me to be pretty confident about swatting away the occasional tough interview question.

  • Barnshee

    Just part of the price of the GFA
    Republicans shooting republicans in /Derry?
    Cops carefully avoiding getting involved?

    Seriously WGAF?

  • Neil


    your attempts to portray all of Nationalism as a bunch of mad bandits amuses me. I have heard working class Loyalists voice the same complaints I hear from nationalists – and indeed Brian. The judiciary does nothing to help – the cops can gather all the evidence they need on both sides of the fence but then the judge gives two months in a youth club/young offendors for multiple serious crimes.

    We called the cops, initially, here in our staunchly Republican West Belfast area. They did nothing, other than place us firmly on the radar of the criminals who proceeded to torture us.

    Where people get no justice they will seek it from any quarter, and I believe certain organisations fill that role on your side of the fence too.

  • sonofstrongbow


    Your view of what constitutes ‘justice’ does not amuse me I can assure you. You advocate the law of the jungle, or at the very least some medieval view of what is lawful.

    No doubt the backstreet thuggery you support follows all the precepts of innocent until proven guilty and human rights. No doubt a beating of some little anti-social yob makes you feel all warm inside.

    What I do find funny, in an ironic kind of way, is hearing Republicans champion unaccountable violence towards alleged lawbreakers given the years of campaigning, and violent action, against ‘heavy handed’ policing and ‘British justice’.

    Your whataboutery cri de coeur is bizarre. What on earth makes you think that ‘loyalist’ thuggery in any way excuses or even contextualises its republican adherents?

  • Neil

    I reiterate my original point, which you’ve illustrated beautifully. All Republicans are not the monsters that inhabit your feverish imagination.

    If you care to respond to what I’ve written you’ll realise at no point have I stated support for the ‘law of the jungle.’ I have stated that ‘people’ who get no justice will seek it from another quarter, a fact that should be observable even to a moron (search ‘RAAD’ for evidence).

    It’s not whataboutery to point out that this situation occurs across the community here, to counter your usual fantasy driven rants about how ‘Republicans are basically animals and here’s why.’

    As I said if you could respond to what I actually say as opposed to what your paranoid imagination wishes I’d said, I surely would appreciate it old boy.

  • Mick Fealty


    I think you’re mischaracterising Neil. He’s explaining. Not advocating!

    Engagement needs a degree of precise listening!

  • Mick Fealty

    Neil, we cross posted. Any chance people can get down to discussing the actual content?

  • andnowwhat

    Brian Walker.

    Take half an hour and have a look at reports in local papers around England and Wales. I’m sure you will find that there are similar frustrations with the justice system and policing.

    The same complaints one hears on Nolan and Mitchel’s shows are the same you’ll hear when you flick over to 5Live.

  • sonofstrongbow


    I suggest you read again paragraph two and three of Neil’s 5.55pm post.

    Allow me to sub it for you: the police “did nothing”, when people don’t get “justice” they will seek it from “any quarter”, “I (Neil) believe certain organisations” (since the thread subject is RAAD a direct reference to that organisation) “fill that role” i.e. the delivery of justice.

    Neil’s claim, and your support for that claim, that he is not advocating so-called punishment beatings is disingenuous.

    Like you I will ignore the fact that both his posts so far have been littered with personal abuse and pejorative characterisations towards me.

  • Brian Walker

    andnowwhat, The problem in England is more gangs than vigilantes but agreed, there are similar issues of law enforcement and community response. Barely under the surface is dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system. Some of this is simplistic, some is fair comment about too much bureacracy not enough action. I have a hunch – only a hunch- that the PSNI is not engaging enough with local communities. Yes, I know the difficulties over DPPs. I would dearly love to read a detailed investigation into the situation in Derry,

  • wild turkey

    Far be from me to dispute any assertion that many people, in many different locales and jurisdictions are generally pissed off with policing and the justice system when it comes to providing real community policing and protection against anti-social behaviours. i’d say that is, sadly, a given, but….

    “Take half an hour and have a look at reports in local papers around England and Wales. I’m sure you will find that there are similar frustrations with the justice system and policing.”

    ok anw, i defer to your media monitoring expertise and experience. i assume your assertion is correct.

    question 1. in the same half hour read, how many reports will i find in those england and wales papers about RAAD-like operations?

    “The same complaints one hears on Nolan and Mitchel’s shows are the same you’ll hear when you flick over to 5Live.”

    question 2: if i flick over to 5live, how long will have to listen until i hear a report of a RAAD-like operation in england wales or scotland?

    if i listen to a complete week of 5live how many reports of RAAD-like incidents will i hear about in GB? 1,2,3,4 or more?

    wager? i’ll go with zero

    do we have a bet? put up or………….

  • andnowwhat

    Brian and Wild Turkey:

    Obviously, they don’t have groups like we have over here but what they do have is areas that are much worse but in those areas, there are sometimes individuals or groups (there’s a woman who was big for cleaning up her area somewhere near or in London) who feel obliged to take matters in to their own hands.

    I don’t know if they still do it but as recently as 6 years ago, when I was going out with a girl from there, they had locals on the streets at weekends in all weathers as they had in other parts of W Belfast.

    So, why are people the length and breadth of these isles having to take matters in to their own hands?

    I would assert that RAAD would not be operating were it not for the slf same frustrations as I mentioned above. The anti RAAD marches are hardly big, are they?

    We’ve seen innocent people’s houses/flats smashed by the cops using “intelligence” that is months out of date and officers not certified to use the firearms they’re carrying when they encounter dissident road checks whilst we have a cop leaving his gun in a kid’s bedroom. The frontline is a joke

    Then beyond that, we have cases, such as the guy who killed Harry Holland, or the guy who sexually assaulted that jogger in Antrim and every time you hear someone has been arrested, you wait until they’ve been convicted to hear the almost inevitable news that they were known to the police or convicted for similar crimes before.

  • Mick Fealty


    Like I say, a description of a process, not an endorsement.

    Thing that struck me was in the interview with Hugh Brady who absolutely gets the problem in one. People have no patience with due process.

    This is, as Brian points out in his original post, fundamentally a political problem, not a justice one. There is some sense in andnowwhat’s view that there are analogues in Britain, but to frank, the Creggan is not Croxteth… Though Shantallow and Galliagh might be close…

  • sonofstrongbow


    It may indeed be the case that people do not have patience with due process. However the checks and balances that govern the process are time consuming.

    Championing a divergence from due process will inevitably lead to what may be called the Niemoller paradigm: at some time the thugs may come for you.

    The other point I was making is that it was largely the Republican community that pushed for the strengthening of the checks and balances already mentioned. It is at least worthy of noting in passing the irony of some members of that community now moving, in law and order terms, somewhere way off to the right of Atilla the Hun.

  • andnowwhat


    Within the area I came from and in one that I live very near (a loyalist one) the players are known to all the community and what’s worse, they’re known to be known (I’m all Rumsfeld here 🙂 ) to the police.

    Now, there’s clearly something going on specifically in Derry and I’m way too far away to know what it is but I did see the thing on the BBC last week where people eventually did voice their support for RAAD. As far as I know, RAAD are getting the right guys because at the moment, I can’t recall any complaints that they are not.

    The constant restrain from the police asking for people, within tight knit communities, to give information is a bloody joke. It’s a total non starter for someone to be asked to put themselves and/or their family at risk from criminal elements, especially when there is a good chance of the crook being soon back in the area.

    I’d advise anyone, who hasn’t already, to go and watch a criminal court case. I’ve been a prosecuting witness in two drug dealing cases and it’s an eye opener.

  • sonofstrongbow


    What you say may indeed be the case. However I’m sure I would not wish to live in a country where being “known” to the police, or indeed fellow citizens, was enough to have legal sanctions, let alone a beating, visited on me.

    I’ve been a victim of crime on a number of occasions over the last few years. Thefts, including farm plant, criminal damage, the most notable event being an arson of a small barn at a remote farm yard. I was informed by one of the guys who work for me that the culprit was ‘known’.

    I passed the name to police and weeks later they came back saying they could not make him ameanable through lack of evidence.

    What should I have done? Gone around and burnt his house down perhaps, gather the lads from the yard and give him a beating?

    If you step away from civilised mores, no matter how laudable the original reasoning, you’re off to hell in a handcart.

  • son of sam

    The irony is of course that R A A D is a creature of the Provos and their cover grouping of Direct Action Against Drugs.Having created the monster, the Republican movement seem strangely powerless to stop or control its movements.For all his supposed authority, Martin Mc Guinness cant put a stop to these “punishment shootings”.Those with longer memories will remember the I R A ‘s use of the same sanction.It was allegedly all right then but not any more.Hypocrisy is not dead.

  • wild turkey

    “So, why are people the length and breadth of these isles having to take matters in to their own hands?”

    Fair points ANW and above is the $64,000 question. Do i have the answer? nope

    but as mick says above
    “People have no patience with due process. This is, as Brian points out in his original post, fundamentally a political problem, not a justice one.”

    partisan politics aside, the political problem with a small p
    is one of legislation, ie criminal justice laws, in combination with cumulative of case law. but who writes, who creates, both the legislation and case law? um, lawyers? and who benefits when, as you point out ANW, repeat offenders persistently get leniently passed thru the revolving doors of the legal system? um, lawyers perhaps? lawyers whose fees are directly thru PPS/CPS or for the defense, legal aid, are effectively paid by us, the taxpayer.

    i have had personal experience of the criminal justice system here. many many moons ago i intervened in a robbery/assault where an employee of the establishment was being beaten over the head with a bicycle lock chain. one of those very heavy plastic coated bicycle lock chains. bits of the guys skull were literally spurting about. i intervened by clocking the assailant cross the head with a wine bottle. although it was generally acknowledged that this stopped the assault and maybe saved the guys life, when asked by the police to give a witness statement, i was told i was being questioned “under caution” as charges of GBH might be preferred against me. and oh yeah, all the assailants were known to the police and had previous criminal records.

    for what is worth, in my homeland, things are done a bit a differently. often wrong and unjustifiable but occassionally right.

    “Texas man will not be charged for beating daughter’s molester to death. Grand jury says 23-year-old man was within his rights to use deadly force to protect daughter from attacker on family’s ranch” link below.


    i suspect that if it had occurred in this jurisdiction the father in question would be facing a serious court case on a serious charge.

    bottom line though? RAAD are in no way comparable to the Texas dad. Far from it. and thats my basic point.

  • Mick Fealty


    Some, I agree. We’ve had some really passionate and enlightening disagreements between people from strongly Republican areas on Slugger.

    For me, that’s why the Hugh Brady interview was one of the most enlightening aspects of this Newsnight peace. There’s no short cuts to getting out of the dead end of this paramilitary culture.

    Pete Shirlow, I think, in one of his texts on the troubles, noted how very early on some IRA men had huge scruples about stealing cars because of the moral transgression involved.

    Forty years have passed and killing and maiming kids or exiling them has gone through a period when it was mainstream in Loyalist every bit as much as Republican areas. Possibly even moreso at times.

    I remember working in Margate about twenty years ago and seeing this guy walking down the main street. I don’t know for sure, but I at the time I suspected he must have been from NI.

    As he hobbled along both his knees bent backwards in the most nauseating way. My presumption was that he was the beneficiary of a very early iteration of an artificial kneecap.

    Frankly, although i’ve not seen the figures, I suspect it is not as bad as it was five years ago, and certainly nowhere near as bad as ten years ago when Slugger first started.

  • galloglaigh


    Why would you want to question closer the IRA man whose own child had been shot by RAAD? If he had gone to the PSNI, they might well have pipe bombed his house – or worse! Anyway the man died of cancer a few weeks ago – enough said!


    You’re digging a hole. In Neil’s 6.52, he got you by the balls. Now you’re saying that because someone states the reality on the ground, that person is supporting an organisation (RAAD), and is also advocating so-called punishment beatings. The reality on the ground, is that the justice system does noting to help the drugs problem, and an organisation like RAAD fills that vacuum. That is exactly what Neil is saying. He’s not advocating RAAD or any other organisation. I think it’s you SOS who is being disingenuous. You’ve been rattled!

    By the way, one of the ex-Provos on the programme was once ‘tarred and feathered’ for being caught with cannabis.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m very sorry to hear that Gallo.

    I would have respectfully asked that question because there seems to me to be a problem around moral authority locked in around this problem.

    I do acknowledge that it is no easy deal being confronted with such a dilemma regarding your own child. But I don’t see how this ‘approach’ has a pups chance of solving the problem.

  • sonofstrongbow


    Oh dear it seems you’ve been discomforted by the points I’ve made. You have a bit of a history of coming along and and making juvenile interventions.

    I’ll edit out the childish abuse in Neil’s post and get to the hub of what he said; ” I have stated that ‘people’ who get no justice will seek it from another quarter”.

    Given that the thread is about RAAD it is clear which “quarter” he is referring to. The quote above also demonstrates he believes that that organisation delivers the “justice” people “seek”.

    It appears from your last paragraph that you also support such activities.

    Of course if that is not the case I’m sure both you and Neil will post your condemnation of criminals attacking other criminals.

  • galloglaigh

    SOS (Silly Old Sausage)!

    Now you’re trying to twist what I’m saying. You have a history of that. It seems you’ve been discomforted by the points I’ve made, and are now being disingenuous about what I’ve written. Perhaps an eye test would solve your problems? Should have gone to…


    People in such situations have, as Mr. McFadden said, three choices:

    1) Phone the PSNI, and have your house bombed.

    2) Leave the country with your whole family and save your son.

    3) Have your son shot.

    Mr. McFadden chose option 3. Whether or not that is a bad situation for your son, it’s the best situation for your family. That is the reality of these situations. And before some Silly Old Sausage tries to say I’m an advocate, I’m not.

    There was talk on the programme of the weapons available to RAAD. This organisation in Derry have been extorting money and cars from dealers. That is common knowledge in Derry, and the Spotlight programme mentioned this. One man had a Seat car taken, and a leading figure was driving it for a month after.

    Another dealer fled to Spain, so his younger brother, a lesser dealer, was shot by appointment. When the brother returned from Spain, he handed over two sums of £10,000 to RAAD. He has survived being shot – so far!

    These are all known facts within the Creggan, Bogside, and Rosemount areas of the city. It is also known that RAAD work closely with the RIRA, and weapons pass from one to the other. In the Spotlight programme, the leader of RAAD in Derry is seen liaising with the leader of the RIRA in Derry, when the PSNI jeep was bombed.

    For how long will RAAD be able to operate, under the cover of lack of community support for the PSNI. It’s all a big kop-out by the Justice Minister imho, and he’s the one with the power to legislate!

  • mariodub

    This sort of attacks will only increase the lawlessness in the areas affected,it wont be to long before the drug dealers start to strike back as they are doing in Dublin,Then where will the community affected be ? There has to be another way to tackle this the wars on drugs have never worked.

  • although i’ve not seen the figures, I suspect it is not as bad as it was five years ago

    It’s actually much worse – around six times worse – according to the PSNI’s statistics.

    In 2007/08 there were 5 republican shootings.

    Last year it was 33 and this year (until Feb 29), it was 27.

    In the same period, loyalist paramilitary shootings have virtually come to an end, even though they ran into triple figures a mere decade ago.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I’m surprised that I was still shocked by this. I was trying to work out why. Perhaps it was the idea of a “members’ discount” on the number of bullets received by the offspring of volunteers, perhaps a tacit admission that it was more difficult for children of such people to become useful members of society but then I thought of Sophie’s Choice, where of course the sadistic nazi adds to a parent’s grief by forcing her to become complicit in the crime against her own child in exchange for a mitigation of violence. The violence against the child is not enough. The family must be tortured as well.

    Like I say, a description of a process, not an endorsement.

    I’m sorry but it was clearly an attempt at justification. Mealy mouthed I grant you as these things generally are, but an apologia nonetheless.

  • antoinmaccomhain

    RAAD, or Derry seems to be where Dublin was in the 1980s. Perhaps i’m wrong, but ‘heroin’ hasn’t hit the streets there so far. If not, then RAAD have done everyone in Derry a big favour. I’ve noticed in the course of this dialogue youse are having that no one has mentioned whether exactly people mean when they say drugs. In the 1980s when CPAD started in Dublin there was basically 2 drugs. Hash and heroin. Only a very small few were against the hash. The drug culture has evolved since then. Poly drug use is now the norm. Most CPs eventually came to the conclusion that RAAD have already reached-That they won’t be able to eliminate the drug problem. CPs actually approached dealers years ago and told them straight up, that they wouldn’t be selling drugs in the flats anymore. They just wanted the drug dealing itself removed from outside their front doors. Most CPs eventually through trial and error realized that NA was the best way forward. I’m not personally a big fan of NA, but perhaps one of the community workers could get in touch with NA with a view to setting up what’s called an Open NA meeting. The good news is that it’s free, and no one will have to stick their hands in their pockets.

    I gaurantee that most of the addicts are 15-25, early school leavers, and from council estates. The rest isn’t rocket science. If they don’t set up training centres and ‘courses for horses’ the problem will keep repeating itself. ‘The devil makes work for idle hands’ as they say.

  • Jamie

    Live across the pond in state of Oklahoma.
    We have the same issues in the city I live in as well as many others
    across the US as am sure you know. We could use an organisation
    like RAAD here to get rid if what some of us plainly refer to as
    shitheads in our communities as our police and criminal justice system do no better. If RAAD works, why not?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Don’t you have the Klan for that?

  • Sionnach


    you are mixing the brothers up, Brian died of cancer, his two nephews were shot by RAAD , but only one of his brothers, the youngest, has been giving interviews.

  • lamhdearg2

    A Sinn Fein MLA has said a death threat issued against a Londonderry community worker may have been manipulated.

    The threat against Sean McMonagle from Creggan came to light on Tuesday morning.

    Raymond McCartney said the person who carried the threat on behalf of the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs is now accepting that the threat was exaggerated.

    Mr McCartney said he expected a clarifying statement on the threat