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Any Mick'll Do

  • Brian McNeill
  • 'Cause any Mick'll do, any black, any Jew
    Any poor wee soul (bugger) who's not like you
    They're down from the trees and they're up from the bogs
    They come round here and they steal your job
    They're all the bloody same - just no' the same as you
    And when a scapegoat's what you need - any Mick'll do

    Gerry Conlon stood before the jury
    Before the judge in his gown and his wig
    And the whole damn country was sure he was guilty
    Even though the evidence was rigged
    And when it all came out, it was the old familiar shout
    He'll be guilty of something, sure as hell
    What's a Paddy more or less, and anyway, he confessed
    Stick him down in his cell, and his father as well

    They told Annie Maguire she was a bomber
    She heard every expert witness testify
    That they'd found traces of gelignite upon her hands
    And British justice would not be denied
    And when they found they were wrong, it was the same old song
    She's a danger to us all if she's free
    With every day that goes by, we're more committed to the lie
    So just leave her be and throw away the key

    I hate every Jew who kicks a Palestinian
    And every Nazi who ever kicked a Jew
    I hate every stupid bigoted opinion
    And if you don't hate them too, then I hate you
    But what I hate most of all is the sheer damned gall
    Of a system that never thinks twice
    About furthering a grudge with a jury and a judge
    And when they're loading the dice, tell me who pays the price

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  •  [1995:] The Guildford Four, The Birmingham Six und The Maguire Seven haben jahrelang im Knast gesessen, weil sie Iren waren. Ihre Fälle haben eine Mentalität in England hinterlassen - in Schottland auch - die sagt, es waren nicht nur die IRA oder die UDA, die Bomben geworfen haben, sondern jeder Ire ist schuld. Jeder Paddy, jeder Mick, jeder mit einem irischen Paß. In London ist es jetzt viel schwieriger für diese Leute, einen richtigen Job zu kriegen, oder die richtige Schule für ihre Kinder. Und das gilt nicht nur für Iren. Es gibt soviel Rassismus in England, gegen Schwarze, gegen Juden, gegen Araber - und auch ein bißchen, manchmal, gegen Schotten. Man kann sowas entweder akzeptieren, oder man kann ein bißchen was dagegen machen. Als Musiker hat man keine andere Möglichkeit, irgendwas zu machen, als ein Lied zu schreiben. Dieses Lied ist mein kleiner Widerstand. (Intro Brian McNeill)

  •  [1970:] We had a lot of Irish people beside us, who had come over to work in Glasgow, and my mother always described them as coming 'from the bog'. I used to picture them walking with feet sucking at wet peat to get to us. (Molly Weir, Shoes Were For Sunday 191)

  • english [1995:] It was a [...] long hard look, across the water from Galloway to the Ulster coastline, that was the beginning of this. The song focuses on one of the worst legacies of Ireland's troubles - the sneer that's abroad on the British mainland, the malignant whisper that accuses every Irish man or woman, regardless of their beliefs, of being somehow responsible for all the agony. Open prejudice - that's bad enough, but to watch the British courts give the attitude its stamp of approval, as in the cases of the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, the Maguires, etc., is sickening. I hold no brief for terrorism of any kind, but like most decent people in the British Isles I hold no brief for judicial racism either, and I can only wish our island free of it. (Notes Brian McNeill, 'No Gods')

  • deutsch [1996:] Mitte der siebziger Jahre veränderte sich die Beziehung zwischen England und Irland. Noch einige Jahre zuvor hatte ich [meinem englischen Freund] Rob vertrauliche Dinge mitteilen oder meinen Arbeitskollegen etwas in aller Unschuld erzählen können, obwohl sie den Akzent noch vor den Worten hörten. Kurz bevor Rob mich verließ, hatte die IRA bei einem Bombenattentat in Birmingham einundzwanzig Menschen getötet und über hundert verletzt. Es war schlimm genug, dass mich die Putzfrauen aus unserem Büro in der Toilette gegen die Wand drückten und mich mit wütenden Vorwürfen überschütteten. Aber selbst Rob sagte in meiner eigenen Küche zu mir: "Deine Freunde bringen meine Freunde um." Und das, obwohl er mich kannte. Obwohl er sich an fünf Fingern ausrechnen konnte, dass ich wohl kaum jemanden aus der IRA kannte. (Nuala O'Faolain, Nur nicht unsichtbar werden (Are You Somebody?), S. 168)

  • english [1997:] Complacency set in swiftly after the anger and euphoria at the Bridgewater Three's release [jailed for life in 1978 for the murder of paperboy Carl Bridgewater]. All made the same reassuring claim - such a miscarriage of justice could not occur today.
    Three features seem to be common to all similar cases :
    1. An overriding belief in the defendants' guilt. This starts as an honest conviction among the police and may be based on what looks like good evidence - for example, the 'traces of explosive' found on the fingers of the Birmingham Six, shown years later to stem from a flawed forensic test. [...] For years, judges refused to consider that police officers could get it wrong, let alone deceive the courts.
    2. The manipulation of evidence by investigators. [...]
    3. The failure by the prosecution to disclose evidence which suggests innocence [also] lay at the heart of the Judith Ward, Guildford Four and Stefan Kizsko cases. ... The pressures to secure convictions in high-profile cases have not diminished: the temptation to manipulate evidence has not been removed. (David Rose, Observer, 23 Feb)

  • [1997:] Some years ago there was a bomb placed in a pub in Guildford, in Essex. The local police arrested the first four Irish people who were handy. They became known as the Guildford Four: Gerry Conlon, his father, his aunt [Annie Maguire] and his friend. They were held in jail for fourteen years before they discovered it wasn't them who did it at all. In Britain, if you are Irish you are a Paddy or a Mick. That used to be a friendly term. Now it's different somehow - in England, not in Scotland. If you're Irish and want a good job or get your children into a good school you're two steps behind everyone else in the queue. (Intro Iain MacKintosh)

  • [1997:] I used to have a high opinion of [98-year-old Lord] Denning (one of the very few judges to take 'Private Eye's' side in a libel action), but he blotted his copybook irrevocably when, in a famous appeal case brought by the Birmingham Six, he ruled that if they were telling the truth about police torture and perjury, it was 'such an appalling vista' that it was better for them to be kept in prison, adding for good measure 'the case shows what a civilised country we are'. (Richard Ingrams, Observer, 30 Nov)

  • [1998:] On 23 March, 1997, two days after he was arrested on charges of rape, a young black man called Marlon Downes was found hanging in his cell at Harlesden police station. It was a remarkable final act: the air-conditioning grille from which he tied off the noose was over six feet above his bed and it would have taken an uncommon feat of acrobatics to get it up there. Unless, of course, the noose was somebody else's handiwork. [...] the Downes family point the finger, not at the cause of Marlon's death - that still remains to be uncovered - but at the processes and the unbalanced legal game that is blocking their way [in trying to establish the truth]. (Observer Life, 26 Apr)

  • [1998:] Twenty years ago [I was arrested.] No one knew I had been arrested. [...] I was informed I was being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, that I could be detained for up to seven days, that I had no right to contact a solicitor or anyone else. My hands were swabbed to test for contact with explosives. I was then fingerprinted, photographed, my shoes were removed and I was locked up. [...] So far, it was all standard procedure. Thousands of (mostly) Irish people have had this experience since Harold Wilson's Labour Government introduced the PTA after the Birmingham bombings in 1974. Paul Hill was the first man to be arrested under the Act. It took him 15 years to prove he was innocent. [...]

    Political trials all have their farcical sides. We walked free, and so it is the farce that comes to mind when I think back on those days [...]. Now that it is being proposed [in the wake of the Omagh bombing] that silence equals guilt [and that the word of one police officer is sufficient to prove a person guilty of membership of a terrorist organisation], there is nothing remotely funny about it at all. The proposed legislation will not make the peace one bit more secure. At the very best, it will prove redundant. At its worst it will lead, as the Prevention of Terrorism Act did, to miscarriages of justice, personal tragedy and institutional chaos. (Ronan Bennett, Observer, 30 Aug)

  • See also Paul Hill, Gestohlene Jahre (Stolen Years)

  • [1998:] The taboo surrounding anti-English feeling in Scotland was finally lifted last week when Lord Gordon of Strathblane, chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board, acknowledged the problem and warned of the dangers it posed to Scotland's tourist economy. [...] The disclosure of racial abuse against the English in Scotland causes great discomfort within Scotland's political classes, and even within the race relations establishment. Many find it difficult to accept that the Englishmen of the Empire, the root cause of all world problems ranging from Third World debt to football hooliganism, could have fallen so low. The Scottish National Party, whose leader Alex Salmond has consistently stated his opposition to racism, is nevertheless irritated by any discussion of anti-English feeling. The party cannot bring itself to condemn an anti-English incident without also pointing out there are few reported cases. '[...] I've been here 30 years and I have not experienced it,' said SNP spokesman Noel Dolan, who was born in Ireland but raised in England. 'My wife is English, my sister has an English accent, we have not had any problems. It seems irresponsible to me. ... I can't say it doesn't exist [but there] has been a lot of overstatement about the level of racism in Scotland. I find it objectionable that the fact that we condemn it needs to be repeated ad nauseam.' [...] A sizeable number of English settlers in Scotland have joined the Scottish National Party and have adopted the glorious euphemism 'New Scots' to describe their nationality. All describe the warmth with which they were received by Scottish people when they first arrived, and how they wanted to be a part of it. [...] But they are way beyond the cruelty of the classroom, and their professional backgrounds have cosseted them from the rivalry and suspicion spawned by hardship on the council estates. (Dean Nelson, Observer, 8 Nov)

  • [1998:] At his trial in 1987 [for killing four members of the Household Cavalry and seven horses in the IRA's 1982 car bomb in Hyde Park, Danny] McNamee was branded the 'master-bomber'. Some newspapers linked him to 97 deaths, and he was sentenced to 25 years. He was released last month under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. [...] last Monday he was waiting for the Court of Appeal to decide whether to quash his conviction for conspiracy to cause explosions. [...] He and his supporters believe his is possibly the last miscarriage of justice case from the Troubles. [...]

    It started the moment soldiers kicked in the door of his flat in Crossmaglen and dragged him out of bed. At the time, he didn't panic. Not even when they took him to Bessbrook Military Barracks. He figured it was just an attempt to disrupt his wedding, arranged for six days later. That's the sort of harrassment many male young Catholics had to put up with back then, he says. This time, though, it was more serious. English detectives were waiting to question him about three fingerprints linked to IRA bombs.

    During the trial, the fact that McNamee had been the only one of eight siblings to go to university was turned against him: his degree was in physics - handy, of course, for any bomb-maker. 'Graduate in Mass Murder', the headlines screamed. [...] Bizarrely, in Parkhurst Prison he also bumped into Desmond Ellis, a confessed bomb-maker thought to be the real Hyde Park bomber. [...]

    The appeal, which boiled down to untangling the Crown's withholding of evidence at his trial, [resulted in quashing the conviction,] but in a move which enraged his supporters and astonished legal observers, the judges added that this did not necessarily mean he was innocent, merely that the conviction was unsafe. (Rory Carroll, Observer, 20 Dec)

  • [1999:] Keith Blakelock, the police officer killed during the riots on Broadwater Farm in 1985, is a household name. [...] But the name of the man falsely accused of Blakelock's murder, Winston Silcott, is probably better known. The original conviction of Silcott reflected the wave of revulsion at Blakelock's death. The nation thirsted for revenge and Silcott was the scapegoat - but on appeal his conviction was found to be 'unsafe and unsatisfactory'.

    Last week, the Metropolitan Police 'reluctantly' paid Silcott £50,000 for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. The Met wrung its hands over the 'disappointment and distress that this decision will cause to many officers in the Metropolitan Police Service, especially those on duty that day'. A police lobby group, Protect the Protectors, said the decision would stick 'in the throat of every decent, law-abiding citizen'. The group's founder, PC Norman Brennan, said it was 'pity Mrs Blakelock can't get compensation from the person who killed her husband'. It is indeed a pity. But in order for that to happen, Mr Brennan, a small detail has to be cleared up: the police have to catch the killer or killers. Silcott got compensation because the Met got it wrong.

    What really sticks in the throats of law-abiding citizens is a police force more interested in finding someone guilty than in finding the right person guilty; a police force which reeks of racism, and which reacts to mistakes by blaming the victim. (Observer Comment, 17 Oct)

    See also notes 'Go Down, Ye Murderers'

  • [2000:] This is the most controversial of Brian's songs, but he makes no apology for that, and the response of audiences around the world to its powerful and uncompromising lyrics show a huge and growing swell of support for the stance he's taken. Brian wrote the song after seeing, on a trip between Spain and his home in the North of England, the way that Irish musicians were treated at London's Heathrow Airport. He was part of a mixed party of Scots, English, Irish, Breton and Galician musician bands on their way between the usual hectic run of summer folk festivals.

    As a Scot with a British passport, Brian had no problems with either the customs or the immigration officers, nor had the English or the Bretons, or the Galicians, but the minute one of the Dublin musicians produced his documents - an Irish European Union passport - everything seemed much more difficult. One by one, all of the Irish contingent were taken into separate rooms, where most of them were given body searches. More than an hour and a half went by. When Brian expressed his surprise and concern to the immigration officers, he was told sharply - and rudely - to mind his own business, what was happening was a security precaution to do with the troubles in Northern Ireland. When he protested against such blatant nonsense, his name was taken. Later, when he talked to the Irishmen about it, he was told they expected it, such humiliation wasn't out of the ordinary for them in Britain - and that stoical acceptance shocked him as much as the officials' behaviour.

    It's a sad fact that racism seems to be on the up everywhere, despite the most strenuous efforts of well-meaning educational establishments and liberal governments. No one has a monopoly to it. To be Irish in Great Britain, or West Indian or Pakistani... To be English in certain parts of Scotland... To be Turkish in Germany, or from the old East... To be a Greenlander in Denmark, to be Moluccan in Holland, to be Palestinian in Israel, black or hispanic in America - and so on and so on, the list is seemingly endless. To be any of these is to be in some way discriminated against, a second-class citizen. Sometimes it's completely overt, sometimes it's surprisingly subtle, but one thing is sure - it's not going to be made to go away just by a sorrowful shake of the head and a whisper that most people aren't really like that. Both Brian and Iain feel that when they stand up on a concert stage, they have the responsibility to sing about the bad as well as the good, and their view of what to do about racism is simple enough.

    Make a start. Don't just pass by on the other side of the street. The next time you hear racist views being expressed, in the pub, or in the bus queue, or in the launderette or the supermarket, or even in your own family, do something about it. Challenge, argue, refuse to accept. Stand up and be counted. (Notes Iain MacKintosh & Brian McNeill, 'Live and Kicking')

  • english [2002:] Paddy Hill, who spent 16 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, is set to receive £1 million compensation from the Government after 10 years of negotiations. Hill [...] said that, although not totally satisfied, he would accept this settlement. 'This is still not enough compensation after spending all that time in jail for a crime I did not commit and for the brutality suffered at the hands of the police and prison authorities, but it is time to move on,' he said. The 56-year-old father of six rejected two earlier offers, saying they were 'absolute insults'. [...] Hill was convicted in August 1975 and received 21 life sentences for the pub bombs in Birmingham city centre, in which 21 people were killed and 189 injured. No one claimed they had carried out the bombings. Police arrested the men after Hill and four others tried to board a ferry to Northern Ireland on the night of the bombings to attend the funeral of a known IRA bomber. [...]
    Hill was released in March 1991 when the police case against him was overturned in the Court of Appeal. He did not receive any counselling and found it difficult to adapt to life on the outside. Three years ago he founded the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation to help other ex-prisoners in a similar situation. His solicitor Gareth Peirce [...] said it was important to extract a full apology [from the British Government] because 'influential people continue to reiterate behind closed doors... that the men were in fact guilty and escaped life imprisonment only on a technicality'. [...]
    In a book about his 16-year struggle for justice, Hill described an attack on prisoners by officials at Winson Green prison in Birmingham: 'I was punched and kicked across the room... Somebody grabbed me by the hair and smashed my head down on the top of the door. My nose burst apart and the blood ran from it like a tap.' (Martin Bright / Amelia Hill, Observer, 9 June)

  • english [2002:] In 1980, the innocent Birmingham Six tried to sue the police from their prison cells. Lord Denning said that if he accepted that the police had beaten confessions out of them, the men would have to be released. 'This,' he said as he threw out the case, 'is such an appalling vista that every sensible person in the land would say, "It cannot be right these actions should go any further".' In his retirement, the old brute mused that the campaign which freed the Birmingham Six years later wouldn't have pummelled his and the law's reputations if the men had been hanged on conviction, as they would have been in the good old days. Judicial murder, he said, would have 'satisfied the whole community'. (Nick Cohen, Observer, 14 Jul)

  • english [2005:] [The trial of Kamel Bourgass and others suspected of terrorism] brings back memories of Auntie Annie's 'bomb factory' at the height of the IRA's mainland assault. Annie Maguire, a court was told, taught her small children how to mix up nitroglycerine for the paramilitaries in her Kilburn parlour. Under prosecution questioning about what bombs look like, her son, Patrick, drew on his knowledge of the Beano and described a 'long black ball with a wire coming out of it'. The fantasy was enough. Mrs Maguire, a monster for a fearful nation, was jailed for many years. Two of her sons were also locked up and her younger children farmed out. Of those sentenced with her, her brother-in-law, Guiseppe Conlon, died in prison, of emphysema and despair, with an inmates' chorus of 'What shall we do with the fucking bombers?' in his ears.
    More than a quarter of a century later, in February this year, Tony Blair apologised publicly to the Maguire seven for one of the gravest miscarriages of justice of the last century. There was no bomb factory and no plot. Annie Maguire and her family had long since been declared innocent. They deserved, the Prime Minister said, to be 'completely and publicly exonerated'. By then, another war on terror was in train. [...] The affair of the sham ricin casts a long shadow over the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the credulous sensationalists of the media and, most of all, over politicians. [...] Eight innocent men were presumed guilty. Ten others held for two years without charge reportedly had non-existent links to the ricin plot cited on their government control orders. Sanctions get harsher and the borderline grows fainter between fair trials and wild allegation garbed in flimsy intelligence and sanctified as truth. All the lessons of what could happen next lie in our recent past. Justice tailored to a time of terror, real or perceived, is the shortcut back to the world in which Annie Maguire was torn from the dock, kicking and hysterical, to begin her 14-year-sentence. 'I'm innocent, you bastards', she cried. 'No, no, no.' But this was Salem. So the door slammed on her screaming and almost no one thought she might be right. (Mary Riddell, Observer, 17 Apr)

See also
a copy of an account from MOJO, the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation formed by Paddy Hill after the convictions were quashed
the Prime Minister's apology over IRA bomb jailings
IRA trials: A reporter's memories
1976: Guilty verdict for 'Maguire Seven'
1991: Birmingham Six freed after 16 years
1978: Police hunt Bridgewater killers
1997: Bridgewater Three freed
See also
Notes 'Go Down, Ye Murderers'
Paul Hill, Gestohlene Jahre (Stolen Years)

Quelle: Scotland

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29.10.1999, aktualisiert am 02.04.2010, 15.04.2009