Tuesday, 31 August 2010

LIDL Gaelic Products Not Available in 6 Counties

It has recently emerged that Lidl is offering a range of Gaelic products including hurls, sliotars and helmets to shops in the 26 counties. Bizarrely this offer is not available to people who shop at Lidl stores in the 6 counties.
Such was the concern at this partitionist attitude, a Newry GAA club contacted Newry & Mourne District Council to raise their concerns that this decision could have been politically motivated.

Newry & Mourne District Council has sent a letter to Lidl asking them to explain why they are excluding the people of the 6 counties. The letter was backed by most Newry & Mourne councillors, however one unionist bigot, Henry Reilly, suggested that Lidl should stock orange collerettes instead.

To date Lidl has not responded to N&MDC, but nonetheless they should be challenged as to why they are discriminating against a vast section of the people of Ireland.

Thousands of people in Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Derry and Tyrone are being excluded from accessing this range of Gaelic equipment and it seems the reason is that they reside in occupied Ireland.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Newry Handed Over To The Bigots

The freedom of Newry was handed over to sectarian bigots on Friday night [August 27] as thousands of unionist bandsmen and supporters were bussed into the overwhelmingly nationalist city from across the Six Counties for a sectarian coat-trailing exercise.
Putting the impact of this march in its proper setting, during the most recent census in 2001, Newry was found to have a population of 27,433, of whom almost 90 per cent would be viewed as from a catholic/nationalist background.

In the run up to this display of naked bigotry, the organisers proclaimed that “All genres of music will be on parade, which should provide entertainment to suit all musical tastes”.

They forgot to mention Newry being brought to a standstill for several hours with severe traffic disruption; unionists drinking openly in the street, actually outside Ardmore PSNI barracks; the playing of sectarian songs; bands displaying the emblems and flags of unionist paramilitary death squads and nationalists afraid to look out of their windows or venture onto their own streets.

Despite its failure to intervene in any instance of the above, the PSNI was also out in force, sealing off all main roads, which prevented residents and motorists from travelling anywhere near the town centre.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “It’s unreal that, in 2010, nationalists are either hemmed into or are too afraid to leave their homes because of unionists indulging in sectarian intimidation in a predominately nationalist area.

“In recent weeks, unionists erected provocative flags on the outskirts of Newry in an attempt to intimidate nationalists and now they are coming into Newry in their thousands from all across the Six Counties in an exercise of intimidation against nationalist residents.

“The parading of this bigotry by unionism all too often ends in violence, as was seen with the sectarian assault on a middle-aged woman in Ballymena at the weekend. This is the reality that the promoters of sectarian processions need to face up to.

“éirígí will continue to campaign for the right for everyone to live free from sectarian harassment and intimidation.”


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Breizhistance: The Struggle for Independence and Socialism in Brittany

Sometimes it is easy to slip into self-doubt and wonder whether the struggle for an independent and socialist Ireland is an impossible task.
One of the easiest ways to overcome any doubts or questions is to look at similar struggles being fought throughout the world. In recent years, many activists have become well informed on the struggles in Venezuela, Palestine and the Basque Country. Another, less reported struggle is that of the people of Brittany.

In this fellow Celtic country, many activists are drawing similar conclusions to those of many in Ireland – they are organising not only for independence but also for socialism.

Less than a year ago, over the weekend of October 24-25 2009, left-wing supporters of independence for Brittany met in conference. After substantial deliberations, a new organisation was formed: Breizhistance-Socialist Party of Brittany. The new organisation announced the appointment of a national directorate and that a meeting would be held in public to announce its 100 Proposals for an Alternative Brittany. At this meeting, attended by over 60 people, the new proposals were launched alongside the public launch of this new political initiative.

The proposals centred on demands for a democratic process in all of Britanny to allow for self determination, as well as on how the economy can be transformed in order to redistribute the wealth of the nation equitably.

After this presentation of its political programme, Breizhistance quickly demonstrated that it was not to be just a party of theory. On November 11 2009, around 30 activists gathered outside the French Army recruitment office in Rennes to protest against the presence of a foreign army in Brittany and in other occupied countries such as Afghanistan. November 11 in France is officially a day of remembrance for those who died in WW1 but the protestors highlighted the fact that, instead of just remembering the dead, the day was used to sanitise old imperial adventures and justify present day imperialist activities by the French state.

In the months that have passed, Breizhistance has built on these initial steps and has become central to the struggle for independence and socialism in Brittany. With a focus on popular mobilisation around the area of national rights, Breizhistance has remained consistently active.

National Rights

In the French state at present the ruling UMP [Union pour un Mouvement Populaire] has started a debate on the issue of “national identity” because it fears the recent resurgence of what it calls “regionalism”.

The debate, according to the right-wing politicians, is to centre on the usage of the French language, the importance of the “national anthem” and display of the French tricolour. The French Socialist Party is not immune from this jingoism, with public figures on occasion suggesting that all houses should be forced to display the French tricolour and that the French national anthem should be sung each day by schoolchildren.

The people of Brittany, the Basque Country, Corsica and Martinique who find their countries occupied by the French state obviously have a huge issue with the idea that inspires the ‘national identity’ since it calls into question their very existence as nations.

As part of the French jingoistic debate, 12 public meetings were scheduled to take place in Brittany. The first was arranged for Guingamp on Monday, December 17 at 5pm. The day, the proximity of the date to Christmas and time were all designed to ensure that the ability of protestors to upset this showpiece for the French state would be limited. Breizhistance, only a few months in existence, called a protest and, at short notice, mobilised over 100 activists. Consequently, the meeting was officially postponed while one planned for Nantes was cancelled.

One of the major nationalist campaigns in recent years in Brittany is entitled ‘44 = BZH’. [BZH is short for Breizh, which is the name for Brittany in the Breton language]. This campaign sees the slogan displayed everywhere all over the country – on stickers, posters, graffiti and items of clothing. The message is simple. The 44 counties of Brittany make up the country and the French occupation and partition of it into different regional administration sections doesn’t alter this fact.

On March 1 this year, an interesting method of getting the message across was organised in a public square in Nantes. Around 2,000 people, including Breizhistance activists, gathered and a human fresco of the 44 = BZH was organised. The amazing aerial photographs demonstrated the popular demand for Brittany’s independence.

In early June, six young Breizhistance activists appeared in court to appeal a sentence they received for acts of graffiti undertaken in favour of the 44 = BZH campaign. The six had endured raids on their homes and 40 hours in police custody for this simple act of defiance in December 2008. At their initial trial, the six received a fine totalling €32,000 fine, two month suspended prison sentences and 100 hours of community service each. This obvious act of overkill by the French state is the subject of ongoing protests.

One of the more original aspects of the Breizhistance campaign to secure the national rights of the Breton people was in relation to the bi-annual Forum on Human Rights held in Nantes. The conference is hosted and funded by the local administration in Nantes which is controlled by the French Socialist Party.

The sessions of the 2008 conference included discussions on Identities and Minorities and The Crisis in Labour Law. This from a political party which cooperates closely with the French right to deny Bretons and other oppressed peoples self-determination, while also promoting privatisation and the EU inspired race to the bottom in terms of workers’ rights.

Breizhistance took the opportunity to highlight what an obvious joke the conference really represented by organising a colourful protest.

Just as in Ireland, the struggle for national independence and socialism is alive and well in Brittany.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Stand Up for Equal Rights for the LGBT Community

Suppose black citizens were told they weren’t allowed to avail of the same form of marriage as other members of Irish society – that they’re just not normal people like everyone else?

Suppose Asian people in Ireland were told they weren’t really fit to make decisions regarding their own children.

Suppose the right of women to certain kinds of social protection was severely limited.

This state could easily be called an apartheid state.

Well, in Ireland today the Twenty-Six County establishment is about to legislate for such an apartheid state for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.

The legislation that will be up for debate in Leinster House next month is the Civil Partnership Bill that the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government has introduced. The bill as proposed will provide certain legal rights for LGBT couples but will not provide the same rights and protection as are conferred under the auspices of civil marriage and they will also be excluded from rights under the constitution.

Gay couples will not have the same rights as heterosexual couples. In the area of tax and social welfare, the fact that gay couples can’t marry means that they may have to pay more tax. They may also not be able to access the same levels of social welfare benefit such as pension benefit. The Dublin government has already amended legislation in this area, in 2005, to specifically exclude gay couples from having the same rights as married or unmarried straight couples.

So, when in relation to the Civil Partnership Bill, the political establishment says it will deal with these aspects with another piece of legislation at some point in the future, it is rather difficult to trust their sincerity.

The most worrying aspect of the Civil Partnership Bill, though, is how it treats the rights of gay couples in relation to their children; in fact, the bill fails to mention this at all. The Twenty-Six County Constitution declares that family life can only be based on marriage. Now, with marriage being inaccessible to gay couples and the Civil Partnership Bill ignoring the issue, we are in a situation where it is impossible for gay parents to form legal bonds together or with their children.

Conversely, children in these families have no rights to have a legal relationship with their parents. According to the LGBT Noise campaign group, this means that gay couples are denied “the right to make educational and medical decisions for their children; it denies them the right to visit their children in hospital; it denies them custody and visitation should the adult relationship break down.”

It is also patently clear that to set up a different system with less legal rights for a minority cannot be adjudged to be fair for gay couples. Ireland now finds itself promoting apartheid while Spain, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Argentina, Portugal, Nepal, Mexico, Iceland, Holland and Belgium have already legislated for the LGBT community to have equal rights in this area.

Irish republicans and socialists have long campaigned on issues relating to national liberation and economic exploitation. They have also a proud history of standing up for the rights of victimised minorities. It is to be hoped that as many as possible will make their way to protest on Sunday.

March for Marriage

Sunday, August 22 2010 at 2pm

Assemble: City Hall, Dame Street, Dublin

Friday, 20 August 2010

War Criminal Blair Should be Arrested in Dublin

Responding to reports that former British prime minister Tony Blair is to attend a book signing session in Dublin next month, éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír has said he should be arrested if he enters the Twenty-Six Counties.

Reports have suggested that Blair is to sign books at Eason’s bookstore in Dublin on September 4.

During his time in office, Tony Blair waged war, along with two US presidents, on the people of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Independent assessments of the cost of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 have estimated that one million Iraqis lost their lives as a result of it.

Blair also oversaw the normalisation of the British occupation in the Six Counties, during which time a number of nationalist civilians were killed by pro-British forces.

Mac An Mhaistír said: “Tony Blair is a war criminal who is responsible for the laying to waste of two already poor countries – Afghanistan and Iraq – under false pretences. On his watch, a number of Irish citizens were also killed in acts of collusion between the British state and unionist paramilitaries – the most prominent of these being human rights solicitor Rosemary Nelson.

“If this man lands in the Twenty-Six Counties, the Dublin government should immediately order his arrest to facilitate his appearance at the International Criminal Court.”

Mac An Mhaistír continued: “Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the Dublin government would have the moral integrity or courage to carry out such an arrest. Consequently, if Tony Blair does land in Ireland to sign copies of a book that attempts to justify his blood-soaked career, éirígí will be mobilising in protest.

“Tony Blair should not be allowed to profit from the deaths of a million Iraqi civilians. éirígí will be making sure that message is heard loud and clear in Dublin.”

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Sectarian Intimidation in Newry

Just over a week after the new Newry by-pass was opened unionists rushed to mark their territory on the outskirts of the city.

A month has now passed since “orangefest” graced the streets of the North and despite unionists leaving a trail of destruction behind them in Ardoyne, and sectarian intimidation in Newtownbutler, they continue to indulge in sectarian intimidation by erecting flags in Newry.

The bizarre thing about this is that there are no housing estates nearby, it’s clear that those responsible for erecting these flags have done so in a blatant attempt to intimidate people and wrongly claim the area as a unionist area.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of nationalists have to travel along this road on a daily basis heading both north and south and the last thing they need is to feel intimidated by unionists whilst travelling through the area.

We in eirigi believe in the right for everyone to live free from sectarian harassment, regardless of whether they live in Ardoyne, Newtownbutler, Portadown or Newry.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

September Demo Against Windsor Visit

As the countdown to an official visit by the British head of state to the Twenty-Six Counties continues, éirígí have announced details of the latest demonstration against the move.
With Dublin City Council now due to debate a motion opposing a British royal visit on the evening of September 6, a public protest will take place between 7pm and 9pm outside of City Hall on Dame Street in Baile Átha Cliath.

The upcoming protest follows on the back of a similar, well-attended event at Dublin City Hall on July 5. On that occasion, the council failed to debate the motion due to an overrun of another item on the agenda of the monthly meeting of the full council [see Successful ‘No Royal Visits!’ Protest in Dublin for full report].

The full text of the motion, which has been submitted by éirígí councillor Louise Minihan, reads: “That this council notes with deep concern the proposal for a state visit to the Twenty Six Counties by the British head of state. Such a visit would be entirely inappropriate whilst the British state continues to implement imperialist policies and commit human rights abuses across the world, most notably in Afghanistan, Iraq and here in Ireland. This council calls on the Dublin government to abandon its plans to invite the British head of state to Ireland and on behalf of the proud citizens of this city we declare that Elizabeth Windsor is not welcome in Dublin.”

Speaking in advance of the protest, éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír encouraged people to come along to City Hall.

“Those who support the British occupation of the Six Counties intend to use this visit to further cement the strategy of normalisation, to use a visit by the British head of state to deepen the partitionist mindset and further isolate the liberation struggle from the bulk of Irish society,” Mac An Mhaistír said.

“In opposing this visit, people in the Twenty-Six Counties have a unique opportunity to get onto the streets in support of Irish freedom, to show that they have not and will not forget those who are forced to live under British rule. Each and every one of us that live in the Twenty-Six Counties have an obligation to stop this visit from going ahead and now is the time to start getting people onto the streets. It is no good closing the stable doors after the horse has bolted, to only start organising opposition on the eve of a British state visit. Opposition needs to be organised and built, it won’t just happen.”

He continued: “Virtually all of the recent opinion polls on this issue have shown that the population is fairly evenly split on whether this visit should go ahead or not. The battle is now on to shift public opinion one way or the other. Over the next few months, the establishment will do everything in its power to win people over to the idea of supporting a visit by Elizabeth Windsor. Republicans, socialists and other progressives need to use their energies and influence to encourage ever greater numbers of people to oppose both this visit and the British occupation.

“The last protest in July was a great success. On behalf of éirígí I would like to thank everyone who joined us on that occasion. I want to ask each of those people to come back to City Hall in September, but this time to try and bring their family and friends, to ensure that this protest is much bigger than the last one. Between now and next summer, when the Dublin government hope to parade Windsor through the streets, we need to build similar protests, large and small, across the Twenty-Six Counties.”


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

éirígí Issues Challenge to Sinn Féin

éirígí general secretary Breandán MacCionnaith has issued a challenge to the leadership of Sinn Féin to engage in a public debate with the socialist republican party.

MacCionnaith was speaking at éirígí’s Divis Mountain demonstration on the outskirts of Belfast on Saturday [August 7]. His comments came after Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams claimed to be interested in dialogue with a number of republican organisations.

MacCionnaith said: “There are those in Ireland who want to see éirígí go away; who seek to misrepresent and criminalise us out of fear of the challenge we are presenting to the political, social and economic apartheid that continues to exist in the Six Counties.

“In the past week, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams claimed to have contacted a number of groups, including éirígí, to request discussions. As party general secretary, I can confirm that no such request has been made of éirígí by Gerry Adams or anyone else in Sinn Féin.

“However, if Sinn Féin want a debate, let’s have one. But it should be an open public debate. We have no interest in behind closed doors discussions. Let éirígí and Sinn Féin put their political, social and economic agendas to a public republican audience, in west Belfast for example, and let them decide who has the most radical, realisable manifesto for change.”

MacCionnaith continued: “There are those who fear that we will damage the substandard political settlement which they have negotiated. Well, they should be afraid, because that is exactly what we intend to do.

“éirígí is not going away. We will continue to build across Ireland to complete the reconquest of this country by the working people of this country.”


Monday, 9 August 2010

Successful Mountain-top Protest

Around 100 people participated in éirígí’s demonstration on the Divis Mountain in Belfast on Saturday [August 7].

The demonstration took place in opposition to the British Ministry of Defence laying claim to a section of the mountain, where they have maintained a military communications post.

Speaking at the protest, rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Today we are standing at another example of the British misuse of Irish resources. The Divis Mountain is a piece of natural heritage that should be the property of all the people of Belfast, to be appreciated and enjoyed.

“Instead, this part of it has been misused by the British war machine in Ireland, at times through sentry boxes and at times through use as a communications post. Every person who has a concern for human rights or national independence should actively be opposed to the presence of such outposts in Ireland.”

Mac Cionnaith spoke of the history of the mountain, noting that the protest was taking place not far from the spot where the United Irishmen first came together in 1791 and pledged to oppose British rule in Ireland. He also commented on recent remarks about éirígí in the corporate media, challenging Sinn Féin to a public debate with the party in west Belfast.

Following the embarrassment caused to them by a similar éirígí demonstration last year, the PSNI had a more low-key presence this time around. Two PSNI helicopters hovered above the demonstration while three land rovers sat in the car park taking vehicle registration details. This was used to stop and harass a number of people as they left in their cars, though this attempt to isolate people in smaller numbers proved futile.

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