Manus Deery was only 15 when he was shot dead by a British solider in Derry in May 1972. The coroner’s finding that he was “a totally innocent victim” is a welcome and long overdue victory for his family.
It took the state 45 years to admit that he was innocent, standing with a group of friends when he was shot by a British soldier firing from the city walls overlooking the Bogside.
The army backed the soldier’s story that Manus was a gunman— as they had over Bloody Sunday and the Ballymurphy massacre the previous year.
Manus was killed just three months after Bloody Sunday. The Bogside was in open rebellion and barricades blocked every entrance, preventing the army or police from entering.
The attitude of the army was that the people of the area were rebels to be put down.
But the state killing of innocent people and the attempt to smear them all as “terrorists” was a major factor in fuelling the violence.
The verdict is a tribute to the persistence of Manus’ family in campaigning for justice and to clear his name.
The British establishment wanted the Bloody Sunday Inquiry to be the end of such cases.
The leadership of Sinn Fein encouraged many of the Bloody Sunday families to call for a halt to the annual Bloody Sunday marches. But some, including Manus’ sister Helen, insisted on continuing the annual march. Thousands still march every year.
They have faced obstacles at every turn. Just this week, the current Northern Ireland secretary, Tory MP James Brokenshire, complained that there has been “too big a focus on state killings”.
Bloody Sunday and the killing of Manus Deery should be a lesson to all of us about the lengths that the British state will go to in maintaining its rule and the lies it will use to cover it up.
We should remember this when we hear the same thing said about Iraq or Afghanistan.
Colm Bryce, East London
It's time to fight frack
At 74 years old I should be enjoying a relaxing life.
Instead I was arrested recently at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site in the Fylde, Lancashire.
Together with other activists, I am trying to prevent an industry that will contaminate our air and water and worsen climate change.
The threat of fracking in the north of England has put paid to our retirement.
Studying the literature about fracking, attending meetings, going on marches, rallies and protests now take up much of our time.
We see through the reassurances about jobs, lower gas bills, energy security, “gold standard” regulation and all the rest.
The reality of fracking, described in hundreds of medical and scientific studies, is devastation for individuals, families, communities, and gas workers themselves.
So despite the inconvenience, the early starts, the long days out, I will continue to enjoy the company of like-minded, well-informed campaigners. And despite being arrested for standing by my beliefs I will go on opposing fracking and working for a total ban.
David Mason, Frack Free Scarborough
Airlines put profit first, passengers come last
United Airlines was rightly criticised for barring two teenage girls from a flight for wearing leggings.
But last week they outdid themselves by forcibly dragging a 69 year old man off a plane.
Normally when someone is removed from a plane it’s for racist reasons. This time, although the target was Asian, the main cause was that United had overbooked the flight.
They asked for volunteers to leave, but when not enough came forward, they got the authorities to forcibly remove David Dao—wounding him in the process.
We already knew that corporations were prepared to evade tax, and pump out greenhouse gases in the pursuit of profits.
Apparently they’ve got no qualms about dragging people off planes either.
Bethan Turner, Manchester
Fight for refugees to come here safely
The French Navy rescued a father and his two sons, from a small inflatable raft off the coast of Calais a few weeks ago.
They were all suffering from mild hypothermia.
The group had been living in the Calais “jungle” camp until its destruction last November.
They were so desperate they turned to smugglers who sold them an inflatable dinghy and told them which way Britain was.
This is the most dangerous way of trying to cross the Channel.
The sea lanes are used daily by 400 commercial ships plus fishing and pleasure boats. In addition there are quickly-shifting sand banks, strong currents, and low visibility due to fog.
Refugees risk their lives to try and get to Britain, braving miserable, dangerous conditions and constant harassment by the French police.
We cannot let this barbarity carry on 22 miles from our shore.
We must continue to campaign for refugees to be welcomed safely to Britain.
Sally Kincaid, Leeds
Justice denied for workers
The case concerning whether baby Charlie Gard should be allowed to die raises complex issues. But it certainly revealed how legal aid is denied to many workers.
Postal worker Chris Gard and carer Connie Yates were unable to work for several months due to their son’s ilness.
But a couple cannot receive legal aid if they have more than £30,804 pre-tax income. That excludes so many people.
Charlie Gard’s parents were fortunate a firm of solicitors agreed to do their case for free.
Jane Hutchinson, West London
Solidarity with Reker Ahmed
It’s disgusting what happened to the lad.
Sean P Worth, on Facebook
Reker get better. I wish we could deport hate-filled racists but no country deserves such a punishment.
Frankie McBean, on Facebook
Branch out in your union
With 40 years of experience as a trade union activist, you notice changes at work.
Being within national rather than trade-based unions has a drastic effect on how branches are set up and run.
Nevertheless, this can be overcome. Contact your local union office and ask for your full time officer’s details.
With a bit of effort a branch file can be set up. Membership records can be sent to you. With this information the branch can organise and grow.
Robert Trahearn, via email
Who’s an ally in South Africa?
The movement to get rid of South African president Jacob Zuma should be supported.
But I urge comrades there not to enter alliances with the right wing forces that used to back apartheid.
Steven Mathe, on Facebook