The Warrington Bomb and Red Action

Recently, BBC North West’s Inside Out programme conducted an investigation into the 1993 Warrington bombing. Ending the police’s embarrassment of not catching the killers of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry was, seemingly, the motivation. Inside Out speculates that the perpetrators of the lethal bombing were Jan Taylor and, Red Action member, Patrick Hayes. Inside Out asks that when the police were looking for Irish suspects; should they have been looking for a rogue IRA active service unit made up of Englishmen.

The documentary’s evidence supporting their claim leaves some questions. First is the linking of the bin bombing and gas works bombing in Warrington to the Harrods bin bombing and the bombing of a gas works in Tyneside. They are linked by target but, it is also implied, by suspects. The Tyneside gas works was bombed by an Englishman; the Warrington gas works by Irishmen. That the Warrington gas bombing was conducted by Irishmen wasn’t mentioned in the documentary. Partially based upon this faulty evidence the programme reasons that the Warrington bin bombing was carried out by the Harrods bin bombers: Hayes and Taylor. The film insinuates that English IRA active service units were attacking similar targets but Warrington gas bombing was done by Irishmen.

Another problem with the same targets, same nationality of suspects theory is that Hayes and Taylor were also convicted of bombing a train. Where does the train attack fit in to Inside Out’s story?

Inside Out uses Hayes’ Red Action membership as more evidence of guilt. Firstly, the programme doesn’t make it clear that only Hayes was a Red Action member, Taylor wasn’t. The programme also points out Red Action favoured “chicken-box bombs”, like the one used by Hayes and Taylor. The fact is that Red Action has never been found to have bombed anything. The implication is that Red Action had a bombing campaign but they did nothing of the sort. Why would Red Action favour a certain bomb when they had nothing to do with bombing?

Red Action is painted as a shadowy organisation. Whilst certainly secretive it was hardly unreachable. The Independent, ITV and the BBC had all interviewed Red Action. The organisation was very openly pro-IRA, it was on the front of its newspaper and on its stickers; it wasn’t a secret. It was not the underground network Inside Out would have us believe.

Red Action Sticker

Red Action Sticker

Another claim is that the (or these?) English IRA active service unit were rogue or not in the loop. It is pointed to that the IRA was already at the peace table so why would they need to continue bombing? Furthermore, the polices’ claim that the IRA didn’t use the correct code words is their evidence of the bombers being rogue. But the IRA disputed that the wrong codes were used at the time. It’s a ‘he said; she said’ situation in which the truth may never be known.

Inside Out’s own evidence can be used to dispute the rogue unit idea. To provide evidence that there was a campaign to bomb certain targets in England they discuss how the IRA’s top man in England was caught with a list of targets, including gas works, and semtex. If the orders were coming from the IRA’s leading volunteer in England how were the active service units rogue or acting alone?

The evidence presented implying the guilt of Patrick Hayes and Jan Taylor is hardly clear cut. The idea that English IRA units were bombing the same targets isn’t true and the idea they were rogue has little evidence. I believe the documentary provides more questions than answers. The simplest being what was the purpose of documentary? And why now?

Read more:

The Arrest of Patrick Hayes

Patrick Hayes statement in Red Action following his arrest. 

Charge of the New Red Brigade, The Independent. This article asks who Red Action are following Hayes’ arrest.

Violence with Violence, World in Action (ITV) investigates anti-fascist groups.

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Archive in Focus: Syd Shelton, Rock Against Racism

Fantastic video featuring an interview with Syd Shelton, the official photographer of Rock Against Racism. The video features a slide show of some of Syd Shelton’s most powerful works of political photography.

Syd Shelton tells why it was important to engage with the white working class community to prevent a further rise in support for the far right.

He also discusses the photography and how Temporary Hoarding moved away from Cartier Bresson-esque photography which dominated the left and used staged photographs.

He recollects his experiences at the Battle of Lewisham: the riot shields, a group of girls capturing a Union Jack from the NF honour guard and how this day helped form the ideas which would lead to Rock Against Racism.

Finally, he discusses the setting up of the first Rock Against Racism Carnival and the, sometimes taut, relationship with the Socialist Workers’ Party.

Give it a watch!

(source: http://vimeo.com/37939497)

The Lost Race: History of the National Front

A BBC2 programme looking into the history of the extreme right, National Front, once Britain’s most popular extreme right wing party. Contributors to the programme include John Tyndall, Nick Griffin, Martin Webster and other extreme right wing figures. Also the programme takes a sneak preview of the BNP and Third Way, now called National Liberal Party. First shown on 24th March 1999.

*Source*

Combat 18

Combat 18 (1 = A(dolf) 8 = H(itler) ) was an organisation set up to combat Anti-Fascist Action. It achieved some notoriety in the media and was blamed for the 1995 Lansdowne football riot in Dublin.
Here are some videos:

This report was done shortly after the Lansdowne riot and features Manchester AFA.

True Lies documentary:

World in Action did no less than three reports on C18:

 

These videos are thanks to the fantastic work of 45antifascist