Monday, June 6, 2011
30 years of campaigning for peace and disarmament
Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group will hold its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday (8 June 2011) exactly 30 years after the group first met. As the minute book shows (see photograph), at 8 pm on 8 June 1981, ten people met at 83 Smithy Bridge Road to discuss forming a 'group against missiles'. They were amongst the many thousands of people concerned about the escalating nuclear arms race and the arrival of 96 Cruise nuclear missiles from the USA at Greenham Common in Berkshire. They named themselves 'Littleborough Peace Group' to emphasise their positive objectives and agreed to affiliate to the national Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Many of those present, subsequently, spent time supporting the Greenham Common Peace camp which ultimately saw the departure of Cruise nuclear missiles from Britain ten years later, while the earliest local campaigns focused on collecting signatures for the International Peace Petition. This called on the presidents of the USA and the then Soviet Union "to end the arms race which threatens all with annihilation ... to terminate immediately all research, development, testing, manufacture and deployment of nuclear bombs and missiles; and ... progressively, but quickly, destroy present stockpiles."
The group has remained continuously active since 1981. Littleborough Peace Group worked closely with Rochdale CND during the 1980s and 1990s and formed a key part of Rochdale Stop the War Coalition from 2002. The three groups merged in January 2007 to become the current, borough-wide, Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group.
Some of the founding members have sadly died or moved away during the past three decades, but several remain very active supporters of the group.
Rae Street was one of those attending the inaugural meeting in June 1981. She has since been a vice-chair of national CND and was, until earlier this year, chair of the Greater Manchester and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Along with Pat Sanchez who sent her apologies for the inaugural meeting in 1981, Rae was also a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons.
"Greenham Common is, now, thankfully, a natural resource and wildlife sanctuary, open to the public, while all those people in Littleborough who signed the International Peace Petition in the 1980s played their own small, but essential role in persuading Reagan and Gorbachev to eventually sign the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987. However, the threat of nuclear annihilation remains and the need to campaign for a nuclear-free future has never been greater. The nuclear-armed states (China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA) have the capacity to destroy our planet many times over. Just one of the 48 nuclear warheads carried by each of the UK's Trident submarines has an explosive power 8 times greater than that which killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima. Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group remains as determined as ever to rid our world of nuclear weapons and war."
"All those who have supported our campaigns in the past or who wish to join us in future campaigning will be very welcome at our 30th anniversary celebrations. For details of all our activities, they should contact Philip Gilligan ( firstname.lastname@example.org, 01706 370712)." she added.
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