Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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My Side Of The Story - Jude Macrory Talks Back

Jude Macrory, responds to the backlash he received regarding the riots in the Bogside and the Fountain. 

I didn't really want to have to do this but recent events over the past number of weeks and months with pathetic attempts to blacken my name on social media has left me no choice.

Over the past number of weeks there has been a plethora of attention both on social media and in the mainstream media surrounding the recent riots and the Bogside Bonfire.

There has been numerous slanderous and malicious news articles published about myself and local Republicans culminating in political point-scoring on multiple media and social media platforms. Below is an account of what exactly happened.

As many people are aware, myself and numerous other Republicans based at Junior McDaid House are voluntary community activists and we assist our communities in any way that we possibly can. With that being said, during the recent riots in the Bogside, myself and others were on the ground assessing the situation, speaking with residents and attempting to dissuade the young people from attacking their own area and The Fountain Estate.

On the third evening of rioting I was again on the ground working with Bogside residents when just after 12am, British Crown Forces came into the Bogside and began to attack anyone they came into contact with, regardless if they were involved in the trouble or not. With many people fleeing the baton swinging Crown Forces, personal items were scattered across the road and as I proceeded to collect those items so to return them, I had also lifted the hat of an RUC Constable. Immediately I was manhandled, handcuffed and hauled off to Strand Road Barracks. In the aftermath of this, the riots continued and my own car was subsequently targeted and burnt out.

After almost two days of interrogation in Strand Road Barracks I was released on bail with extremely strict and disproportionate conditions for the offence of which I was accused. I was prohibited from entering the Bogside and had to abide by a curfew amongst other draconian conditions. As a community activist who lives on the fringes of the Bogside, this was extremely difficult for me.

In the days leading to the Bogside bonfire this month I had my first court appearance in relation to the charge of stealing a hat from the Crown Forces. As I was leaving court I was approached by Constable McCloskey. He asked me in an almost helpless manner was there anything I could do to help with the bonfire situation in the Bogside this year as he recognised the success of last year following the intervention of community activists based at Junior McDaid House.

My natural response was to laugh at him as I reminded him it was the Crown Forces who had me on strict bail conditions not to enter the Bogside and now he was asking me to specifically go to the Bogside. Constable McCloskey continued “there must be something you can do or someone you can send down to sort it out”. Again I laughed and reminded him that at every opportunity the Crown Forces get they persecute Republicans and our community, but now he was begging me to try negotiate with the youth involved in the Bogside bonfire.

Following my court appearance my solicitor was making a bail withdrawal application on my behalf as the bail conditions were that strict it was almost as if I was under house arrest. My bail withdrawal application was opposed by multiple Crown Force personnel so it had to be taken to court. Again, the same personnel stood in court and contested my bail application stating that I was openly part of an organisation that refuses to condemn violence, and they were worried I would further commit an offence if bail conditions were relaxed.

Rightly, my defence pointed out that it was in fact a Crown Force Constable that actually approached me and asked me to enter the Bogside and now his colleagues were in court blocking my application. The British Judge, recognising the hypocrisy of the Crown Forces, relaxed my bail conditions on August 15th, the day of the bonfire, for one night only under the pretence that I was going into the Bogside to sort out the bonfire issue. Knowing the court had done this solely to use me, I wasn’t going to waiver my own principles to go and negotiate with the young people involved in the bonfire because a British Judge in a British Court had "allowed me to".

Despite ongoing issues with the bonfire and other voluntary community activists working on the ground, not once did I have a conversation with anyone involved in the bonfire regarding the building, location or even the lighting of the bonfire. I openly invite anyone to produce evidence stating otherwise.

I was attempting to use the Crown Forces hypocrisy to have my bail conditions relaxed, however the British Court in conjunction with local media outlets tried to twist the situation. Local media jumped on the chance as both the riots and the Bogside bonfire are hot topics at the minute and of course sensationalist headlines and reporting soon followed.

My court appearance after the bonfire was an opportunity for British Judge Barney McElhom to rant about the burning issue of the bonfire and what was put on it. Again, sensationalist media hype followed suit. My defence pointed out that even if I wanted to have any involvement in the bonfire this year to try and resolve it, the time given wasn't sufficient.

British Crown Forces, British Judges and local media outlets who jump at every opportunity given to them by the British Establishment have been exposed for exactly what they are. Their interests don’t lay at the heart of our communities, but ours does.


➽Jude Macrory is a Derry republican.

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