Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 12:55 UK

Anarchist's ashes lough scattering

The ashes being scattered on Lough Neagh
The American anarchist's last request was to have his ashes scattered in Northern Ireland

There was a hint on anarchy on the breeze over the waters of Lough Neagh recently with the scattering of the ashes of an American man.

They belonged to Harold Thompson, who died in jail last October at the age of 66 after being sentenced to life plus 50 years for murder and robbery in 1979.

His parents were from Ireland and had emigrated to the United States after the troubles of the first half of the 20th century.

After a stint in Vietnam he became involved in anti-war protests and anarchism, notching up run-ins with the authorities before the killing that would see him spend the rest of his life behind bars.

His supporters describe the man he was convicted of killing as a police informer who had killed the mother of one of Mr Thompson's children and threatened the life of another.

His robberies are described as "expropriation activities" on an anarchist support website.

Harold H Thomspon was jailed for a killing and robbery
While serving a sentence for a killing and robbery Harold H Thompson became a jailhouse lawyer

A failed escape bid in 1986 saw him receive another 31 years for the attempted murder of three guards and other offences.

He became a "jailhouse lawyer" working on appeals and complaints about the system for other prisoners and writing essays on anarchism and poems.

One of the people who wrote to him in prison was Belfast man Sean Matthews, who helped organise his last farewell in Northern Ireland.

"In his writings he had expressed the wish that his ashes be scattered here - he had accepted that he would die in prison," he said.

The ceremony took place a few weeks ago in the presence of six anarchist supporters of Mr Thompson, including Mr Matthews and a woman from Spain.

"Like a lot of American rebels he was impressed by Irish republicanism, I'm not myself, but with his parents being Irish and him being Irish American it's not surprising," Mr Matthews added.

He said that Mr Thompson had been an inspiration to him and described his history of robbery as "no worse than the wage slavery that underpins our economy".

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