Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Allegedly responding to a bomb alert, dozens of heavily armed PSNI officers in riot gear descended on the Camlough Road area in armoured landrovers. They were soon backed up by a helicopter, which hovered extremely low over the estate for several hours.
True to form, the paramilitary police spent their time goading and provoking local nationalist youths, who responded by throwing stones and fireworks.
Concerned at the aggressive attitude of the PSNI towards the youngsters, a number of Derrybeg residents contacted local éirígí activists, who then made their way to scene, accompanied by the concerned residents. Almost immediately, several riot clad PSNI members, heavily armed with machine guns, surrounded them. The political police directed their attention towards one éirígí activist in particular and proceeded to question him under Section 43 of the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’, which gives the PSNI the power to “stop and search persons for items which may constitute evidence that person is a terrorist”. They also accused the activist of gathering information “likely to be of use to terrorists”.
Several hours later, after finding what they described as a “hoax device”, the PSNI withdrew from the area.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Today, once again, we have witnessed the British police force in Ireland engaging in repression and, once again, it is used against a nationalist community in Newry.
“Several months ago, it was announced that the use of Section 44 would be suspended; at the time, éirígí expressed concerns that it would simply be replaced with other repressive legislation, in this instance Section 43 has been employed instead.
“éirígí is urging domestic and international human rights organisations to closely examine the use and validity of this legislation with a view to initiating test cases challenging the compatibility of these powers with established EU human rights case-law.
“éirígí was one of the very few organisations prepared to consistently challenge the use of Section 44 powers in the Six Counties. We have also previously highlighted the draconian nature of the equally objectionable Justice and Security Act and, as a party, we will continue to mount strenuous opposition to its use, along with the various other draconian legislations which are in use in occupied Ireland.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “The Derrybeg estate and its residents are no strangers to Crown Force repression and have been to the fore in resisting this repression over the years. Today’s actions by the PSNI are only proving to people that they are an unchanged, unaccountable paramilitary force.
“Our activists in Newry have received a lot of unwanted attention in recent times from the political police. However, rather than intimidating them out of political activity, it will in fact strengthen their determination to continue to build the party in the Newry area and across Ireland – to complete the reconquest of this country by the working people of this country.”
Monday, 27 September 2010
As of midnight on Sunday [September 26], the 10-month, partial moratorium on zionist settlement construction in the occupied West Bank is at an end. The land grab is now, officially, back on.
As he allowed the deadline for any extension to what was, at best, a patchy moratorium to pass last night, Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu had the audacity to place the onus for the continuation of any talks on the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.
“I call on president Abbas to continue with the good and honest talks we have just embarked upon, in an attempt to reach a historic peace agreement between our two peoples,” Netanyahu said.
As he was speaking, members of Netanyahu’s own party, Likud, joined 2,000 zionist settlers and christian fundamentalists in a triumphalist demonstration in the Revava settlement in the northern West Bank. There are currently around 500,000 zionist settlers living in 120 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the West Bank Nour Odeh has reported the feeling on the ground is that talks with the Israeli government are not worth pursuing in the present circumstances.
“Palestinians of all political persuasions have been very clear and quite united in saying that no negotiations can happen while settlement construction is eating up Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem,” Odeh said.
“Settlements are built mostly on privately owned Palestinian land. So this is not just a political issue but a very personal issue for thousands of Palestinians across the divide.”
Meanwhile, the two opposing attitudes of the outside world towards the Palestinian struggle were also witnessed over the weekend.
On Friday [September 24], the International Atomic Energy Association, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, rejected an Arab-proposed resolution calling on Israel to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
Despite the fact that Israel is believed to be only nuclear-armed state in the region, the general assembly of the 151-member IAEA blocked the resolution at its meeting in Vienna. Fifty-one member states voted against the resolution while 46 voted in favour and 23 abstained.
Israel, with the support of the USA, attempted to intimidate the assembly by warning that any vote in favour of the resolution would prove to be a “fatal blow” to “regional security”.
The boat is manned by activists from the Jews for Justice for Palestinians group and includes an 82-year-old survivor of the Nazi holocaust, Reuven Moskovitz.
“It is a sacred duty for me, as a survivor, to protest against the persecution, the oppression and the imprisonment of so many people in Gaza, including more than 800,000 children,” Moskovitz said.
The boat’s cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children's toys and musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza's fishing communities and prosthetic limbs for orthopaedic medical care in Gaza's hospitals.
The ongoing resistance of the Palestinian people, combined with consistent acts of international solidarity, offers the best chance for freedom and peace in the region, not talks in the White House.
Saturday, 25 September 2010
O’Neill had been staying in a hotel room in with two other men, Patrick Kelly and Brian McHugh, all of whom were unarmed at the time. This arrest operation was the culmination of a six week surveillance operation against a suspected IRA active service unit. The surveillance operation, codenamed Operation Tinnitus, saw seven men placed under 24 hour surveillance.
This surveillance, which included the monitoring of men’s personal movements, the vehicles they were using, and their places of residence, as well as a storage unit in north London, which was believed to be an arms and explosives ‘dump’. Their conversations and electronic communications were also monitored.
In a covert search of the storage unit, police uncovered explosives, and munitions, this occurred with a synchronized covert entry and search of Room 303 of the Premier West Hotel by MI5, where Brian McHugh and Patrick Kelly had been staying, and where Diarmuid O’Neill was later murdered. In this search, two bugging devices were fitted with a recording facility and a video recording was made of the entry and search. No arms or munitions were found in the search of the room.
As a result of the intelligence gleaned from Operation Tinnitus, a decision was made to arrest five suspected members of the ASU. The planning and preparation of the arrest operation was based upon the intelligence provided by SO13 and MI5. The storage yard was allegedly discounted as a location for arrest, firstly, due to the presence of explosives in the vicinity, the danger of a stray bullet activating the explosives was a real and present danger.
It was therefore decided on Sunday, September 22 that the suspects would be arrested, simultaneously, in early morning raids the following day at three separate addresses in London and at Gatwick Airport. The police plan of entry to the hotel room where O’Neill and the others were staying centred on the use of a key to open the door to the room. This had been used previously for the covert entry by MI5.
If this failed, the contingency plan consisted of an enforcer being used to gain entry. In the event that neither the key or the enforcer gained entry to the room, it does not appear that at any stage did there exist, or was it indicated to officers that there existed, a viable contingency plan, such as a plan to pause, or regroup, and certainly withdrawal or negotiation was not considered an option, nor was there any provision made for the possibility that a member of the public may come across or interrupt the operation. CS RIP gas, a more lethal form of CS gas, was included due to what were described as fears for the safety of the officers involved. This, however, went against general advice that CS RIP gas should not be used against a subject with a firearm and with no knowledge of its concentration or effects in a confined area. None of the officers had any experience with CS RIP rounds, although they had previously been trained in the use of ordinary CS gas.
Police briefings took place in relation to the arrest operation, which comprised a number of “beliefs”. The most prominent, and precarious, of which was the “belief” that the suspects would shoot their way out. The assertion by the intelligence agencies that the men in the hotel room had access to arms and explosives was proven not to be the case, therefore questioning their motives for asserting such beliefs. Additionally, the officers were shown video footage of the IRA’s 1996 Canary Wharf bombing, presumably priming the officers for violence.
In the raid, neither the key nor the enforcer worked and CS RIP gas was fired into the room. A record of the police communication with the suspects, mainly Diarmuid O’Neill, was present on the tapes of the police entry into the room, which were retrieved through the security service’s bugging devices, and these recorded all three suspects surrendering. The interaction went as follows:
Sound of breaking glass as CS gas is fired through the window.
All: Jesus Christ!
Sound of police attempting to batter down the door and shouting.
All: All right! All right! We give up, we’re unarmed, we give up. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. We’re unarmed. Whoa, whoa, whoa.
At this point a number of officers were overcome by gas and left the building gasping for air
Police: I’m a police officer. Get on the floor.
O’Neill: Whoa, whoa, whoa.
Police: Come to the ****ing door now!
O’Neill: Okay we’re down, we’re down
Police: Open that door
Police: Get to the ****ing door now
Police: Show me your hands!
Police: Show me your hands now!
O’Neill: They’re up, They’re up
Police: Get out here
O’Neill: We’re on the deck
Police: Show me your hands through the door, show me your hands through the door!
Police: Show me your hands
Police: Open it! Open the door
O’Neill: I can’t. It won’t
Police: Open it! Come on show me your hands, show me your hands! Open it!
Police: Shoot the ****er!
Shouting by police followed by a burst of automatic gunfire
O’Neill: ****ing hell!
Another burst of gunfire
All: Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa!
Sound of choking
Police: [entering room] Dead as a ****ing rat, just stay where the **** you are.
Just stay on the floor. Stay on the floor.
One in the bathroom and one on the floor. Just keep your hands where we can see them, okay and don’t ****ing move.
Diarmuid O‘Neill appeared to have been complying with all the orders, against what were often contradictory instructions, that were asked of him by the police officers and appeared to have been in fact struggling to open the door. Officer ‘Kilo’ [his codename to ‘protect’ his identity], the officer who shot Diarmuid, insisted that his decision to fire was a result of the fear that O’Neill posed a threat to his life. He also states that he denied hearing any voices from inside the door; this is clearly contradicted by the recording from the surveillance bug. In addition, what the surveillance bug picks up is a shout, immediately prior to the shooting, of a member of the SO19 team shouting “shoot the ****er”.
Diarmuid O’Neill was shot six times and officer ‘Kilo’ was the only officer to discharge his firearm, firing six shots. He stated that he had fired the shots in pairs but the recording on the bugging device shows them to have been fired in two bursts rather than in bursts of two, as he claimed. He went on to state that when he opened fire, Diarmuid O’Neill remained in an upright position throughout, again pathological evidence contradicts this as the entrance wounds and the trajectory of the bullets would ascertain.
Therefore, the second burst of shots were fired when Diarmuid O’Neill was falling to the ground, according to the pathologist report, at the point the second burst of fire came, Diarmuid O’Neill was in a non-threatening position. The justification for the firing of the shots was that they were a pre-emptive strike in self-defence, but clear shouts of surrender are heard from the room, whilst the suspects are openly compliant. Officer ‘Kilo’ claims that prior to his opening fire he shouted “show me your hands, show me your hands you ****”. This does not appear on the tape recording. Neither was there any warning given by officer ‘Kilo’ to Diarmuid O’Neill in regard to a warning of a commencement of shooting. What it does show is the contempt that he held for Diarmuid O’Neill and the other men in the room.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, a police officer was seen standing with his foot on O’Neill’s head as he lay dying before he was dragged bleeding and mortally wounded down six concrete steps onto the street. He was denied immediate medical treatment for 25 minutes although an ambulance was at hand. O’Neill subsequently died in hospital.
Predictably, the British and Irish media reported that an exchange of gunfire took place and that explosives had been found in the hotel. At the inquest two years later, such details were revealed as lies, again a well known tactic of disinformation had been used.
In the inquest into Diarmuid’s death, it pronounced that he was lawfully killed, although issues around fairness and credibility surround that inquest. No officer has been held to account for the death of Diarmuid O’Neill. Diarmuid’s death was an extra-judicial killing by agents of the state.
This is reinforced by evidence from those arrested in relation to the incident. Brian McHugh asserted a number of points when he issued a statement after his conviction:
“I was in a crouched position beside the bed I had been sleeping in and almost directly to Diarmuid’s left and slightly behind him. Diarmuid was trying to answer both policemen, saying ‘okay, okay’ to the man asking him to open the door, and ‘we’re on the deck’ to the second policeman. One of them shouted ‘open this ****ing door now’, open this ****ing door now was repeated again. In answer to one of the men, Diarmuid said he could not open the door, that it wouldn’t open. One of them replied ‘open it, open it’. The policeman fired two shots, hitting Diarmuid. Diarmuid said ‘****ing hell’, clearly surprised that shooting had started now that access had been gained to the room.”
Others who were arrested also stated that police officers told them that Diarmuid’s murder was a message to second generation Irish not to get involved.
This case has grave similarities to the killing of IRA volunteers Sean Savage, Daniel McCann and Mairead Farrell in Gibraltar. The relatives of the three took a case against Britain to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that the British government had breached Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to life, in a landmark judgement. Those similarities lie in the fact that ‘beefed up’ intelligence was produced in order to push the state operatives to a heightened state of anxiety and apprehension, which is in essence killing by proxy. The finger once again points in the direction of the intelligence agencies, MI5.
There has been a clear contravention of Diarmuid O’Neill’s right to life and those responsible should therefore be held to account on this matter, ranging from officer ‘Kilo’ who pulled the trigger to those who contrived to create these circumstances and denied a fair hearing of the circumstances that led to the death of Diarmuid, and ultimately the British state should be held to account in Strasbourg.
What is also undoubted is that, 14 years on, there has never been an impartial, effective investigation into Diarmuid’s death, something his family consistently sought, and something that is clearly needed.
Friday, 24 September 2010
Thursday, 23 September 2010
The event was the third such protest organised by éirígí since June, when Brian Cowen revealed that his government intended to invite Elizabeth Windsor on a state visit, most likely in the summer of 2011.
The protest, which began at 6pm outside City Hall, was timed to coincide with a special sitting of Dublin City Council, which was convened to clear a backlog of motions which had been submitted by councillors. One such motion by éirígí councillor Louise Minihan read:
“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.”
As the protest got underway, the well known Dublin actor Jer O'Learey read aloud an article written by James Connolly on the occasion of a visit to Dublin by the man then masquerading as the king of England, George V. That visit, in 1911, was the last time that a reigning British monarch stepped foot in Dublin. To those listening on Dame Street on Monday evening it was clear that Connolly’s analysis of British royalty is as accurate today as it was at the time that it was written, almost a century ago.
Later, as the éirígí motion was being debated within City Hall, those gathered outside made their voices heard with chants of “Can you hear us loud and clear – British royals not welcome here”. As had been the case with the previous protests, the high level of public support from motorists and pedestrians alike was noticeable.
Following a half hour debate on the motion, Dublin City Council voted, not unexpectedly, against the anti-royal visit motion by a margin of 24 to 11. The three main establishment parties, Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, remained true to historic form and voted against the motion, in effect welcoming the head of Britain’s armed forces to Dublin.
Addressing the protest following the debate, Minihan said: “The councillors behind us have shown themselves to be hypocrites by passing motions in here on human rights abuses in other countries and ignoring the facts when it comes to our own.
“The visit by the commander and chief of the British armed forces was never going to be beaten in the capitalist halls of power. But it can be beaten by republicans, socialists and other progressives taking to the streets like we do tonight and physically demonstrating our opposition and outrage.
“It is our right to resist our oppressors. What the Gardaí, the Special Branch and the capitalist politicians will never understand is that we stand in the vein of Tone, Connolly, Sands and Farrell and though they may try to criminalise us, arrest us, or even kill us – so long as Ireland is unfree there will always be those willing to take our place.”
Minihan continued: 'This establishment needs to be taught the lesson that they have failed to learn from the time of the United Irishmen to 1916, right down to today. I defy this establishment to bring the figure head of oppression to our shores. We will be ready and we will be waiting, the croppies will never lie down!
“In the coming weeks and months, éirígí will be stepping up our opposition to any proposed British royal visit.”
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
In the latest instalment of the Republican History series, the origins of the Fianna’s famous sunburst flag are explored.
From their earliest days, Fianna Éireann carried Irish national flags on their outings and when trying to recruit new members. About 1910 [a year after the Fianna had been established], Countess Markievicz set about designing a distinctive flag for the organisation.
The flag she designed had a golden sunburst either placed centrally or emerging from the bottom right hand corner. The background colour was blue and the words Na Fianna Éireann were inscribed above the sunburst in gold lettering. The 15 points of the sunburst represented the 12 points of the Fianna’s Code of Honour and the three elements of the Fianna motto, “purity in our hearts, strength in our arms and truth on our lips”.
A photograph of those attending the 1912 Ard Fheis of the Fianna shows the delegates gathered outside the front of the Mansion House. In the background, two flags are displayed. Alongside the traditional green harp flag is a Fianna flag proudly displayed. A Fianna flag from the period is today held by the National Museum in Dublin and is as described above except that it has “B Company” [the company probably being part of the Dublin Brigade of the Fianna] written in black on the sun.
The flag that Markievicz designed was based on the banner of Fionn and his earlier Fianna; this had also had a golden sunburst on a blue field and was carried aloft by Fionn’s Fianna when going into battle. The O Rahilly, who was later to be killed in action in Easter Week, described the use of the rising sun as representing the coming of Lugh [the ancient Irish sun god] from the Kingdom of Manannan [the sea] to rescue Ireland from its enemies.
Other nationalist organisations had already taken inspiration from this tale before the Fianna. Pádraig Pearse’s St Enda’s school, for example, had chosen a blue poplin banner emblazoned with a sun disc as its standard.
Markievicz, herself, probably first came across the idea when she was a member of the nationalist women’s organisation Inghinidhe na hÉireann. As they didn’t have a uniform, the women would wear sashes on public occasions to distinguish themselves from other citizens. The sash was blue in colour with a golden sunburst embroidered in the front and was fastened at the shoulder by a penannular broach.
The sunburst had also been an emblem on Fenian flags used on both sides of the Atlantic. During the Rising in 1867, Thomas F Burke was arrested in Tallaght in possession of a green flag which had on it a sunburst and, on the reverse side, an image of Ireland and a harp.
In the year following the foundation of the Irish Volunteers, a committee of historians was put in place to make recommendations in relation to appropriate uniforms and flags. They recommended the Volunteers should also use the sunburst emblem, with the flags being blue and a nine-pointed golden sunburst overlaying this. In the top right corner, the logo of the particular regiment was to be embroidered.
Some banners were created to this specification but controversy, with prominent nationalists such as Francis Biggar criticising the idea, and the split in the Volunteers in September 1914 meant that it didn’t become its national flag.
The flag’s fame today is due to its association with Fianna Éireann and, although it usually appears now without the inscription of the organisation’s name, with a quarter rather than half a sunburst and with orange being used instead of gold, most republicans associate the banner with militant republican youth.
Monday, 20 September 2010
Tuesday, September 7, saw the official launch in Dublin’s Connolly Books of Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba, a book by the Canadian author Keith Bolender.
By way of introducing proceedings Cuban Ambassador to Ireland Teresita Trujillo spoke of the extent to which Cuba has had to endure armed aggression both from internal and external (primarily US-based and directed) forces since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959. While stressing that Cuban intelligence and security services are now quite adept at averting and containing this threat, she did take the opportunity to draw the attention of those present to the fact that it is within the context of defending the Cuban homeland against this very same aggression that the ongoing case of the Cuban 5 (also known as the ‘Miami 5’) needs to be seen; these five men (who are now entering their 13th year in US maximum security prisons) were tasked not with carrying out espionage against US military and political targets as has often been portrayed in the mainstream media, but rather with infiltrating those organisations that have used and continue to use terror against the Cuban government and people.
Bolender’s book examines the history of terrorism against Cuba since the earliest days of the Revolution, through a series of testimonials from more than 75 individuals who have suffered directly or have had friends or relatives killed.
An estimated close to 1,000 acts of terrorism have been committed inside Cuba since the Triumph of the Revolution in 1959, with more than 3,500 killed and thousands more injured. The book deals exclusively with those acts directed against average citizens.
Chapters include the bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455 in 1976. Others cover the hotel bombing campaign against Cuban tourist facilities, biological terrorism, Operation Peter Pan, La Coubre, the attack on the village of Boca de Sama, the torture and murder of teachers during the literacy campaign, amongst others. Most of these attacks were conducted by counter-revolutionary organizations based in Florida, often with the knowledge and support of the American government. The connection of terrorists such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles and United States strategy against Cuba is examined, as well as how Cuban government national and international policy has developed as a response to these acts.
The Cuban national identity in coping with terrorism is also explored. The final chapter deals with the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five, explaining why they were needed to infiltrate the Cuban-American groups in Florida in order to prevent further acts of terrorism.
In his introduction to the book Noam Chomsky states that: “perhaps the most striking feature of Washington’s war against Cuba since it dared to liberate itself at last in 1959 has been the frenzy with which it has been waged. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs invasion soon after taking office was authorized in an atmosphere of “hysteria,” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later testified before the Senate’s Church Committee. At the first cabinet meeting after the failed invasion, the atmosphere was “almost savage,” Undersecretary of State Chester Bowles reported, describing “an almost frantic reaction for an action program.” The core component of the “action program” was a major terrorist war. Robert Kennedy, who was assigned the task of coordinating the massive campaign of state-directed international terrorism, repeatedly declared that overthrowing the government of Cuba was “the top priority of the United States Government—all else is secondary—no time, money, effort, or manpower is to be spared.”
Amongst the numerous interviews included in Bolender’s book is one with Haymel Espinosa Gomez, daughter of Cubana Airlines co-pilot Miguel, whose last words from the flight recorder of the doomed aircraft have been heard thousands of times in Cuba.
During the 1997 bombing campaign against tourist facilities, Italian tourist Fabio de Celmo was killed and close to a dozen injured. Others were luckier. Nicolas Rodriguez Valdes was the barman at Cuba’s most famous café, Bodegita del Medio, when a bomb blew out the top floor of the Havana restaurant in September 1997. While no one was killed, dozens including Nicolas were severely injured. Remarkably, just moments before the explosion Rodriguez agreed to have his picture taken with a tourist who turned out to be Ernesto Cruz Leon, the Salvadorian later arrested and convicted with planting the Bodegita bomb.
Cuba suffered a variety of biological terrorism over two decades, including the introduction of Dengue 2 that killed more than 100 children in 1981. Ana Elba Caminero was living in a neighbourhood near the Havana airport when she was faced with the horror of seeing her two daughters Janet and Isnaviz come down with headache, fever, and aching bones. Both soon started vomiting blood. One day later Janet, six years old at the time, died. The same afternoon Janet was buried the mother had to visit the hospital to comfort Isnaviz, who was aware her younger sister had just died of the same disease she had. Fortunately, a few days later the 12-year-old recovered and Cuban authorities were able to identify the infection, unknown previously in the country.
In the early 1960s close to a dozen young Cubans were tortured and killed for teaching farmers to read and write under the government’s Literacy Campaign. Manuel Ascunce was 16 years old on November 15 1961. He was instructing Pedro Lantigua, 30 years his senior when counter-revolutionaries broke into the home during one of the sessions. Ascunce and Lantigua were taken into a near-by forest, where the teenager was beaten, stabbed more than 14 times and hung from a tree while still alive. Lantigua suffered a similar fate.
An entire village was terrorized in late 1971 when Boca de Sama came under assault. Two residents were killed, eight others wounded. The Pavon family survived, but during the attack a number of 50 calibre bullets smashed through their house, one hitting 15-year-old Nancy. The projectile shattered her right foot, leaving it hanging by the tendons. Desperate, the family stumbled into the darkness, and after hours of terror evading the bandits, was finally able to make it to the safety of a neighbour.
These are just a few of the dozens of dramatic accounts found in this very important book.
An appreciation of the extent and nature of the aggression against Cuba attested to in the pages of this book is vital to a holistic understanding of the context within which the Cuban Revolution has endured and evolved.
Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba, is published by Pluto Press. Spanish translation published by Editorial Jose Marti (Havana).
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Vigil for the Miami Five
To mark the 13th anniversary of the imprisonment of the Miami Five by the US Government for their efforts to prevent acts of terror against Cuba, there will be a vigil calling for the release of the five on Wednesday 15th September, at the US embassy on Pembroke Road, Dublin, from 6pm. Bígí linn.
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Volunteer Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band Launch
Vol Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band
Followed by Disco
Saturday 18 September 2010
8pm - Late
Join Patricia's family, friends and comrades in launching a band formed in her memory.
Sunday, 12 September 2010
With the all-Ireland fast approaching hundreds of Down fans have been busy erecting flags and bunting on lampposts, streets, houses and cars across the county to show support for the boys in red & black as this historical sporting event draws near.
The Down GAA flags seem to have annoyed the British paramilitary police, known as the PSNI, because recently they stopped a number of Down from fans erecting these flags and threatened to arrest them for “criminal damage”.
The ironic thing about this is that this happened on the Newry by-pass close to where Unionists have erected sectarian flags unhindered. The PSNI seem to have a policy of one rule for some.
The Orange state is very much still alive and well, and nationalist Newry is bearing the brunt of it. Unionists erecting provocative sectarian flags, thousands of unionist bigots marching through nationalist areas against residents wishes, nationalists being unable to purchase GAA equipment in Lidl stores across occupied Ireland and now the PSNI threatening GAA fans for showing support for their team whilst unionists are able to plaster the place with intimidating sectarian flags.
Will the PSNI now be stopping all GAA fans and arrest them for "criminal damage" for erecting sporting flags?
There has been a noticeable increase in PSNI harassment directed at nationalists, and it’s clear that it’s not just political activists being targeted but also GAA activists and fans.
While constitutional nationalist politicians might try to claim that there has been a sea-change in policing in the Six Counties, the reality of ongoing repressive policing tactics on the ground belies the harsh truth that little has changed and people in working-class communities across the North are only too aware of that fact.
Friday, 10 September 2010
In 1948, despite the massive debt amassed during the Second World War, the British government of the day introduced the Health Service Act, creating the NHS and laying the foundation for the ‘welfare state’ as we know it today. (Though, like the Education Act of the same period, it had to be introduced into the Six Counties over the opposition of many within the unionist regime at Stormont.)
Sixty years later, and the British government of today, the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, is working to take the welfare state apart. The legacy of Margaret Thatcher is being evoked often by Tory MPs, with a proud acclamation that the government of David Cameron is going further than Thatcher’s ever did, and faster. They are able to safely use the issue of dealing with the current deficit as a cover for their ideological mission.
They can also use the ‘common sense’ arguments that are regularly peddled in the mainstream media without question, such as cuts being inevitable or the public sector being too big and in need of trimming, giving the Tory-led government free rein for its slash and burn policies.
The attack on the welfare state is out in the open. Despite the fact that the number of people claiming unemployment benefits continues to rise in the Six Counties, over 500 social security jobs are due to be cut by the end of next March. The British work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has also suggested that that the unemployed would have to work in order to get their benefits. The outworkings of this have been seen recently, when it came out that fifteen unemployed people had been sent to work in a local retail store for their dole, while the permanent staff in the store had their hours slashed from 36 per week to 20.
Conservative estimates have it that around 40,000 jobs will be lost over the next four years in the Six Counties, 30,000 of them in the public sector as a result of the British government’s plans. It’s being predicted that the British government will cut the block grant, which acts as the Six-County assembly’s budget, by around £2 billion [€2.4 billion], though the full extent of the cuts won’t be apparent until British chancellor George Osbourne announces his four-year comprehensive spending review in late October. However, the prospect of increasing numbers of unemployed people forced to work for minimal pay, while undermining the livelihoods of other workers, should be enough to stir anyone into action.
The trade union movement in the Six Counties has begun to rally over the past few months against the Tory attack on the welfare state and on working people. The work has begun with awareness-raising campaigns to challenge the myths on the necessity of cuts. On August 12, members of NIPSA across the Six Counties engaged in lunchtime pickets against public service cuts. They have produced a leaflet entitled ‘Who suffers most from public spending cuts?’.
In the Six-County context, the biggest myth that needs to be challenged is that the public sector here is somehow much too large. The public sector does make up two-thirds of the Six-County economy, however public sector workers in the Six Counties represent only 12.5 per cent of the population, compared with 11.2 per cent for Scotland, 10.5 for Wales and 9.1 for England. The public sector in the Six Counties is not bloated at all, the issue is merely that the private sector is so small, made up predominantly by small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) that are themselves dependant on the public sector to a large extent.
Public spending in Britain and occupied Ireland is not particularly big when compared to other countries as well. Among the European countries, public spending in Britain and occupied Ireland is lower than that of Slovenia, Hungary, Norway, Luxemburg, Portugal, Finland, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, France, and Sweden.
The European Trade Union Confederation has called for a day of action for September 29th in opposition to austerity measures and attacks on the working class being imposed throughout Europe. As part of this day, and as part of the developing campaign against the Tory axemen, unions in the Six Counties will be organising lunchtime rallies in both Belfast and Derry.
There will be more rallies and protests when Osbourne’s spending review is announced in October. These large events will only make up a small part of the campaign against the Tory onslaught though, a campaign that will without doubt last the lifetime of the current British government. The unions must not dismiss widescale industrial action as a tactic in this fight. And, if we are to be successful, the fight must be taken up by every constituency in the community, by workers inside and outside of the unions, by local community activists, by the unemployed, by students and by the retired.
A message must be sent clearly to the Tories and their Lib Dem partners, and those in the banks and the multinational corporations who are behind the neoliberal agenda they serve, a message must be sent that healthcare and education, and welfare, are a right for all people, and not a privilege only for those who can afford it.
Monday, 6 September 2010
Several hundred people took to the streets of Dublin on Saturday September 4th, 2010 to demonstrate against the presence of British war criminal Tony Blair in the capital. The former British prime minister was in Ireland to be fawned upon by the west British establishment on the occasion of the publication of his autobiography.