Mothers take on RAAD with a silent protest on peace bridge
Hundreds of mothers wearing white will form a human chain across Londonderry's Peace Bridge in a silent protest against Republican Action Against Drugs today.
A core group of mothers have formed a new organisation called MOVE ON — Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere in Our Neighbourhoods — and are using Mother's Day weekend to launch their first public event but they will also patrol the streets where RAAD is active.
The protest is the third rally sparked after the vigilante group ordered the parents of four young men to bring their sons to a designated area in the town to be shot because they were allegedly involved in a fracas outside a bar with members of RAAD.
That followed the fatal shooting of Derry man Andy Allen in Co Donegal.
One of the founder members of MOVE ON, Bronach McMonagle, said the women of Derry have historically played a vital role in bringing about change in the city.
She said: “This new group came about because of the increasing bully-boy antics of RAAD who thought it was acceptable to give four mothers an appointed time and location to bring their sons to so that they could be shot.
“What does it say about the direction our society is going when mothers are told this by gun-toting bullies?
“We are not going let them do this — no one has that authority.
“The rally held in Creggan last week and the follow-up rally in the Guildhall Square against RAAD showed the strength of feeling there is against them in the city and we didn't want to lose that momentum which is why, given that it is Mother's Day on Sunday, we hastily organised this rally across the Peace Bridge.”
She added: “We want as many people as possible to gather at the cityside end of the bridge, wearing a white t-shirt.
“We will link hands and just silently make our feelings known.
“We will release white balloons too but there will be no speeches and it won't take more than half an hour.
“Like everyone else, the mothers of Derry have had enough of RAAD and once Friday's protest is over it will not be the end of this organisation.
“There are alternative solutions to what RAAD say they are offering to deal with.
“There are funded organisations in place which help people with drug and alcohol problems but we will patrol our own streets too where we will engage with the young people.
“The mothers of Derry took to the streets before and brought about change and we will do it again, peacefully, the way it should be done.”
A link between Republican Action Against Drugs and the dissident Continuity IRA has recently emerged. Information obtained by the Belfast Telegraph showed the group has been trading weapons with the CIRA. Documents revealed it was behind the supply of a number of grenades to the dissidents in exchange for guns. A later swap of more grenades was made for ammunition. At least one of the grenades was used in an attack on police in west Belfast.