Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jul 1998
Source: An Phoblacht/Republican News 
Contact:  Michael Pierse


The Coalition of Communities against Drugs (COCAD) has reacted angrily to a
decision taken in the District Court last Friday, in which three of the
twelve anti-drugs activists charged in connection with the death of Josie
Dwyer in May 1996 were told they would be tried in the Special Criminal Court.

The court, which deprives defendants of a trial by jury, has been described
by North Inner City SF Councillor Christy Burke as "draconian" and "outdated".

COCAD representative Hugh McGeown said that there has been no explanation
from the state for the decision to use the court, although the defendants'
counsel has made efforts to find out. McGeown also asserted that this action
is a "clear indication of a hidden agenda" which has tried "to break the
anti-drugs movement and deliver areas back to drug lords". There is
simultaneously an attempt, he said, to link COCAD, which is the biggest
anti-drugs network in the country "with paramilitary involvement and in
doing so criminalise it". They said "this reflects a lack of confidence by
the state in its case against the accused".

McGeown was defensive of the anti-drug patrols, which had come under fire
following the murder, although they were a completely separate issue. "Where
the state negates its responsibility for the protection of its children,
then parents are perfectly entitled to protect their families...communities
never get credit for what they've done". Anti-drugs activists have
emphasised that these patrols were perfectly legal and intended as a
peaceful means of opposing drug-dealing, they were not in any way related to
the murder.

- ---
Checked-by: Melodi Cornett