Activists who stormed a leading American software manufacturer in Londonderry, Northern Ireland earlier today, are still occupying the premises. Nine people forced their way into the Raytheon offices in the Springtown industrial estate, when it opened its doors first thing this morning, while 20 other activists staged a protest outside with placards.
The Derry protesters are now surrounded by a large number of members of the PSNI. Two PSNI negotiators, flown by helicopter from Belfast, have been sent into and are talking with the protesters.
The protesters are saying they will only end their protest when Raytheon issue a statement committing themselves to closing their operations in Derry.
Civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann, today told the BBC: "It's a major supplier of high-tech equipment to Israel and other western forces.
"We see it as a direct relevance to what is happening in the Middle East and we wanted to dramatise our opposition to it."
In a statement, The Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) said in part:
"Members of the Derry Anti-War Coalition, who are affiliated to the IAWM, began an occupation of the factory this morning in protest at the production of missile components there, currently being used in the Israeli assault on Lebanon. The Raytheon factory produces components for Guided Missile Units (GBU) such as Patriots, Mavericks, Sidewinders and Sparrows, all of which are used by Israel and paid for with US taxpayer’s money.
It is tragic that the Raytheon factory was held up at the time of its opening as an example of the “peace-dividend” for the north, when its function is exporting death and destruction to innocent people in Lebanon, Israel and beyond.
The Derry anti-War protesters are absolutely right to demand that Raytheon pull out of their city and out of this country. The Irish people have a witnessed first hand the brutality and conflict brought by colonialism and empire. We should be playing no part in inflicting that suffering on others. Given the carnage we are now witnessing in Lebanon and Gaza there is simply no excuse for such weapons of death being produced in this country."
The following is from the Belfast Telegraph.
Computers damaged in arms firm anti-war demo
Anti-war protesters today stormed American arms manufacturer Raytheon's Londonderry base, with nine people barricading themselves into the building and wrecking equipment.
The protesters were soon locked in a tense stand-off with upwards of 50 police, after some inflicted considerable damage, especially to computers.
According to the protesters, the computer system was "completely disabled".
Amid chaotic scenes at the Buncrana Road site, thousands of documents and dozens of computers were burned and thrown from windows by members of a group that entered at 8am.
Among those who entered to protest against the world's largest missiles manufacturer was veteran civil rights campaigner and Belfast Telegraph columnist Eamonn McCann.
An American flag was also set alight and a glass door smashed as debris rained down from a second floor window and littered the area outside.
A banner was unfurled from inside the building, reading: "Raytheon has been decommissioned".
A dozen more people protesting over the deaths of Lebanese civilians remained outside, with placards bearing anti-war and anti-Raytheon slogans.
Speaking from inside, as dozens of uniformed police gathered, Mr McCann said: "The people of Derry cannot go on feeling shock and horror as they watch TV screens and do nothing,
"I certainly would not welcome an arrest and prosecution, who would? But judgment has to be made. People felt they had no option but to take this form of direct action."
Around 50 police were on the premises both inside and out as the protest developed. There were minor scuffles as they tried to prevent people leaving the scene without being searched and a cordon was erected around the building, with the protesters pushed back and informed that the area was a crime scene.
A spokeman for Raytheon said this morning that the company is not making any comment "on this particular occasion".