‘The Occupation’ tells the story of how a small group of anti-war protesters caused a multinational arms manufacturer to leave Derry. The Raytheon company, makers of the Tomahawk cruise and Patriot missile systems, set up a software facility in Derry in 1999. It was hailed at the time as part of a ‘peace dividend’ following the signing of the Good Friday agreement of 1998.
In 2006, after years of protest by the Derry Anti-War Coalition, the company’s offices were occupied and computer equipment was deliberately destroyed. The protestors were tried and acquitted by a jury at Belfast Crown court after successfully arguing that that were acting in defense of the innocent in south Lebanon, where missiles manufactured by the company had been used by the Israeli Defence Forces.
In 2010 Raytheon pulled out of Derry but refused to admit it was because of the actions of the anti-war protesters.
Michael Bradley worked for BBC Radio Foyle at the time and felt the story didn’t get the attention it deserved and the acquittal had far-reaching implications. Michael returns from Japan, where he now lives, to follow up on the story. It took a freedom of information request by a Derry Journal reporter to confirm that it was the actions of the protesters that caused Raytheon to leave Derry.
Journalist, author and politician Eamonn McCann, who led the protests, says the occupation was his proudest moment in more than forty years of social activism.
The documentary also features Joe Brolly who was a barrister for some of the protestors and argued in court that the protesters were acting in defence of the innocent in South Lebanon.
Produced by Micheal Bradley, Declan McGrath and Tim Desmond.
First Broadcast on the 25th of November, 2017
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One, the home of Irish radio documentary.