‘Know Your Rights’ campaign launched in Belfast
On Thursday 26th May, Belfast bore witness to the much anticipated launch of éirígí’s ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign.
Welcoming the upwards of 80 people who had gathered inside Conway Mill, éirígí’s Upper Falls Chairperson, Críostóir Ó Tiobraide explained that, confronted with an phalanx “of rights abusers – landlords, loan sharks, bosses, bureaucrats and cops – we are confronted with the age old dilemma; to do something or to do nothing”.
“For our part, in éirígí,” he continued, “we have committed to do something. To this end, we are publishing a number of articles aimed at encouraging a more full understanding of our rights, the first of which is a ‘Know Your Rights’ card dealing with the most commonly abused pieces of ‘Stop and Search’ legislation.”
Accompanying the distribution of over 500 such cards was a panel discussion led by éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, and a solicitor, whom was acting in a purely professional capacity.
Presenting a timeline of repressive British laws in Ireland, pre-partition to post-GFA, Breandán explained that, “Such legislation is not designed to convict people or to prevent bombings.”
“It is,” he said, “intended to prevent anyone from expressing or organising political, social or economic opposition to the status quo in the Six Counties.”
Highlighting that, in just three years, over 76,000 people had been targeted through the misnamed ‘Justice and Security Act’ alone, Breandán argued that it was “vital that we familiarise ourselves with those remnants of our rights, especially today when new anti-‘terrorist’ legislation is casting the net of repression ever wider”.
“The alternative is to reluctantly accept repressive legislation as a daily part of our lives. And that, my friends, is no alternative at all because it means accepting the abnormal as normal and that would be the ultimate success of Britain’s normalisation policy in Ireland.”
Following this address, a solicitor delivered a detailed presentation of the relevant provisions and fielded questions from amongst the most targeted sections of our communities.
Speaking from the launch, éirígí representative John McCusker situated the campaign firmly within the activist’s toolkit of “educating, organising and agitating”.
“We seek to organise and agitate for the maximum amount of change and central to this is educating ourselves as to how the opposing forces seek to frustrate, paralyse and defeat. The ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign is being launched across the Six Counties with a ‘Stop and Search’ card and other rights abusers will be outted in due course.”