Licenced to kill

THE DECISION to release Private Lee Clegg on licence, arrested in February 1991 and then eventually convicted of the murder of Karen Reilly in June 1993, highlights all too clearly the nature of British rule in the Six Counties. The campaign to release Clegg mobilised large sections of the media and the establishment, who were outraged that one of ‘our boys’ could get his hand slapped for using ‘excessive’ force. Major realised that he could no longer ignore the ‘Middle England’ voters who have been so successfully roused by the rightwing press, particularly the Daily Mail. Clegg was released in an attempt to stop Major being outflanked from the right on this issue.

We see history repeating itself, yet again. Ian Thain - of the 1st Battalion Light Infantry - the only previous British soldier ever to be convicted of murder in the Six Counties, was similarly released on licence after serving a derisory two years. The fact that over 300 civilians have been killed by the security forces somehow fails to excite the ‘moral’ indignation of the rightwing press, normally so militant and strident about ‘law and order’ (luckily for Clegg the death penalty has been abolished - much to the chagrin of many of his campaigners).

The Bloody Sunday Massacre was an even more extreme example of British ‘justice’ in action. The cold-blooded murder of 13 unarmed civilians was entirely swept under the carpet. Indeed, the cravenly sycophantic press blamed the victims for starting the violence. Naturally, the soldiers were entirely vindicated by Lord Widgery and everyone patted each other on the back for their spirit of fair play and justice.

British justice is no justice. While republican political prisoners continue to rot in jail - some have served 20 years or more on overtly trumped up charges - British soldiers still swagger around the streets of Belfast and elsewhere, licenced to kill like 007.

The British state has waged unrelentless war against the Irish people for countless decades, and in war there are no rules.

The Communist Party calls for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British forces, and for the immediate release of all Irish political prisoners. The graffiti which adorns the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast at the moment says it all: “No justice - no peace”; “Clegg out - all out”.

Danny Hammill