BY CAROLINE BELLAMY
LONDON - Thirty members of Fuascailt, a group campaigning on behalf of Irish political prisoners, gathered in a busy shopping center in Hammersmith, west London, November 9.
They were demanding an independent public inquiry into the recent police execution of a young unarmed Irish republican, Diarmuid O'Neill, who was shot dead in the area September 27. At first, police claimed that there had been a "gun battle," but no firearms or explosives were found in O'Neill's flat. Police say they will carry out an investigation into the shooting themselves. Amnesty International is one of several organizations calling for the inquiry to be public and independent of the police.
The action by Fuascailt was prompted by the closing down by the police of a Communist League book table in Hammersmith on October 12. The socialists staffing the table had been campaigning for a public inquiry and displayed newspaper photographs of O'Neill and the bloodstained steps of his flat with the caption "Innocent until proven Irish." The Hammersmith Gazette published an article on this attack on freedom of speech, and the Irish Post published a letter on it written by Communist League members. The local law center and Members of Parliament were also informed of the police conduct.
The Fuascailt activists set up a table and distributed hundreds of leaflets detailing the facts of the O'Neill case to shoppers. They also passed out leaflets for a public meeting organized by the local trade union council to be held in Hammersmith town hall on November 26 entitled "Ireland: The Issues." The platform at the public meeting will include a speaker from Sinn Fein, Jeremy Corbyn MP, and Pete Turner from Hammersmith and Fulham Trade Union Council. Bernadette McAliskey and Billy Power of the Birmingham Six have also been invited to speak. Fuascailt supporters also collected signatures on a petition demanding a public inquiry, and the Communist League set up another book table.
"We are here to reverse the imbalance in the media," said Peter Middleton of Fuascailt, "to inform ordinary people on the street about the issues that affect Irish people in Britain and to demand a public inquiry into the murder of Diarmuid O'Neill."
Linda Kerry said "people we stopped often said, `Oh, didn't he deserve it?' But when we told them the facts they felt the police had a case to answer." There was hostility from some passersby, but the majority of reactions were positive. "The response to the petition was good not just from the Irish community but from people as a whole" said Bill Thompson.
Three police watched the entire action closely but made no attempt to intervene.
Caroline Bellamy is a member of Transport and General
Workers Union branch 1-667 in London.
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