Police conspiracy in Cardiff / North of England Irish Prisoners Committee


Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 3, March/April 1980

On 15 September 1979 two Hands Off Ireland! supporters and a member of Provisional Sinn Féin were arrested during a street meeting in Cardiff city centre. The three were charged with displaying or distributing insulting or abusive writing – the writing in question being Hands Off Ireland! No 8 and a Provisional Sinn Féin leaflet on H-Block.

The three have been leading a defence campaign against this attack. The week after the arrest a very successful rally was held on the same spot. On the 10 November this was followed up by a march through Cardiff city centre which attracted a great deal of interest from the Saturday shoppers. This march was planned as part of the run up to the trial itself which was originally set for 13 November. But even before the march it was clear that the defence campaign was having an effect on the police.

On the day before the march we learnt, by accident, that the police had changed the charges. The police had decided to go for less obviously political charges. So two months after the event, the police ‘discovered’ that it was the behaviour of the comrades which was reprehensible – not their literature. The charges were changed to ‘insulting and abusive’ behaviour and ‘wilful obstruction’. This chopping and changing of charges is an age-old police tactic. Such is British ‘justice’, a weapon fashioned by the ruling class and deployed by the police in whatever way is necessary to attack the working class. The defence campaign will fight these new charges just as vigorously as it fought the old ones. The new date for the trial is 17 March and there will be another demonstration in Cardiff before the hearing.


Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 3, March/April 1980

In this issue of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! we print a special feature on British imperialism’s attacks on Irish prisoners of war. A major part of Hands Off Ireland!'s campaign has been activity in defence of the prisoners.

Throughout Britain Hands Off Ireland! has organised support for pickets called by Birmingham Provisional Sinn Féin and the North of England Irish Prisoners Committee. From Wormwood Scrubs to Durham regular pickets have been held. But it is in the work of the North of England Committee that the most important development has taken place.

The Committee was formed by Provisional Sinn Féin and calls for Political Status for all Irish Prisoners of War, Smash H-Block, and Support for the Provisional Republican Movement. Hands Off Ireland! has, of course, given full support to the Committee as has Women Against Imperialism. Tyneside Irish Solidarity Committee, TOM, IMG, SWP and RCT have also supported its activities. But the most significant support, politically, has been the active participation of the Asian Youth Movement Bradford in the Committee.

Support has been reciprocated by the Committee which has adopted the demand Smash the PTA: End all Immigration Controls. The Committee has agreed to support the demonstration on 1 March called by the Anwar Ditta Defence Committee (see report in this issue). The growing trend of unity between the struggle against British imperialism in Ireland and the struggle against racism in Britain bodes ill for the British ruling class. Black workers defending Irish prisoners of war and Irish workers defending black people is a great step forward in the fight against British imperialism today.


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