Raytheon 14 go on trial

May 27, 2010

Sandy Boyer co-host of Radio Free Eireann on WBAI in New York City and a veteran organizer for Irish political prisoners, reports on the start of a trial of antiwar protesters in Northern Ireland who targeted the weapons firm Raytheon.

NINE WOMEN and five men are on trial in Northern Ireland after they attempted to disarm the mainframe computer at the Raytheon plant in Derry. They could face up to several years in prison.

Raytheon is a leading U.S. arms manufacturer. It produces Tomahawk cruise missiles, Sidewinder missiles, Hellfire missiles, the "bunker buster" bombs, the delivery systems for cluster bombs, white phosphate and Napalm. The Derry plant manufactured guidance systems for Israeli missiles that have been used to kill and maim Palestinian and Lebanese people.

The protest began on January 12 in response to the Israeli bombing of Gaza. The nine women entered the building that housed the Raytheon plant and chained themselves to each other and to the internal doors leading to Raytheon's part of the building

Goretti Horgan, one of the protestors, says, "Our intention was to bring down the mainframe. We knew that when the Derry mainframe went down, all of Raytheon's UK plants were knocked out. In other words, it was a really effective way of stopping the war machine."

Members of the Raytheon 14
Members of the Raytheon 14 (Indymedia Ireland)

When they couldn't reach the computer mainframe, the women barricaded themselves in the building. They refused to leave until the police agreed to investigate Raytheon's complicity in Israel's war crimes in Gaza--an agreement they never kept.

The women are charged with burglary, criminal damage and assault. Five men who tried to support the women while they were barricaded in the building are also on trial. They are all charged with obstructing police, one is being charged with criminal damage, and one with impersonating a police officer. Two of the men are also being charged with assaulting a police officer after the police beat a pregnant woman.

The Raytheon 14 action was too much for Raytheon--they finally left Derry this February.

The women's occupation was the culmination of a 10-year campaign to drive Raytheon out of Derry. In 2006, nine men invaded the Raytheon plant and damaged the mainframe computer. A Belfast jury acquitted them of criminal damage because it found that their action was intended to prevent the Israelis from killing more people in Lebanon.

As the trial was preparing to resume, Goretti Horgan said, "We are on trial not as the accused but the accusers. We are confident that a jury of ordinary people will find that it is not we who are guilty but it is Raytheon that is guilty of complicity in Israeli war crimes."

Further Reading

From the archives