Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Newry Handed Over To The Bigots, Again

Sectarian bigotry has once again graced the streets of Newry as tens of thousands of unionist bandsmen and supporters were bussed into the area two days in a row.

On Friday night [August 26] over 50 bands and over 2,000 supporters descended on the city which is almost 90 per cent nationalist.

In an almost routine example of bigotry, intimidation and disruption, Newry was brought to a standstill 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.

It was also reported that in the run up to this “bigotfest” event the PSNI had sealed roads and stopped traffic to facilitate the erecting of loyalist flags.

éirígí’s Stephen Murney was at the scene to observe these sectarian coat-trailing exercises on Friday and Saturday.

Stephen said, “I was standing watching on Friday evening when I was immediately targeted by heavily armed members of the PSNI, one of which was a notorious thug called Sgt Wright. He made reference to the fact that we recently exposed their true nature and seemed quite annoyed about it. A TSG gunman standing beside me then quipped, “At least I get paid to watch the parade.”

“It’s unreal that citizens of Newry are being targeted by this militia who are facilitating a sectarian parade through a nationalist area. It’s bad enough being on the receiving end of sectarian intimidation without having to be subjected to PSNI harassment too.”

On Saturday it was much worse. It was reported that an estimated 110 bands many of which were displaying UVF and YCV flags, 115 preceptories and 50,000 “supporters” were on the streets of Newry as well as a massive British “security operation” to facilitate the bigots.

Widespread disruption lasted for two full days, affecting businesses, shoppers, resulting in the harassment and intimidation of local people as well as costing thousands of pounds. Anyone Walking down Hill Street on Saturday afternoon would have noticed many shops were closed and many restaurants were empty on what should be one of their busiest days of the week.

At one point an ambulance responding to an emergency call was stuck in traffic due to the disruption.

It’s high time the people of Newry took to the streets to oppose this blatant naked sectarian intimidation.

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


Friday, 26 August 2011

éirígí Information Stall in Newry

éirígí in Newry will be setting up an information stall in Hill Street on Saturday 3rd September.

There will be various publications available to shoppers highlighting a number of issues such as the “Stormont isn’t working” leaflets which focus on the how Stormont has failed society, “Different Name, Same Aim” leaflets highlighting the unchanged nature of British policing in Ireland, and the latest issue of Poblacht na nOibrithe, the monthly éirígí newsletter which highlights issues that éirígí are actively involved in locally.

Local independent republican Councillor Davy Hyland along with local éirígí activists will be at hand to engage with the community in Newry and address any queries or concerns people might have.

This initiative will give local people the chance to engage with socialist republicans at a grassroots level, on the streets where the fight back will begin.

The information stall will be in place from 12pm-3pm on Saturday 3rd September and will be situated across from Newry Credit Union (weather permitting).


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Mass Strike Action on the Horizon in the Six Counties

As unemployment continues to grow and the Tory cuts agenda as implemented by the Stormont administration begins to bite, the two largest public sector unions in the Six Counties have declared their intention to ballot members for strike action.

As cutbacks continue to lead to compulsory redundancies, service closures, and attacks on pay and conditions, public sector workers have become increasingly aware of the need for serious action to defend jobs and services.

Announcing that balloting in her union would begin on August 22, Unison regional secretary Patricia McKeown said yesterday [August 17]: “It has never been more necessary for UNISON members in health, social services and education to stand together to fight for our jobs and services and to force employers to listen.

“Many survived the cuts throughout the ‘Thatcher’ era. The action they took then saved our services and increased jobs. The cuts we now face are many times greater.”

NIPSA held a meeting yesterday with Stormont education minister John O’Dowd to discuss the budget cuts, a meeting described as offering “little comfort to members”. The union now intends to ballot members on strike action when the new school semester begins.

NIPSA’s assistant secretary Paddy Mackel said: “It is clear that not only will there be significant job losses, amounting to hundreds in each of the five Education Boards, but also there will be a devastating impact on the delivery of education and support services to young people.

“Our members are right to be afraid of being made redundant in such dire economic times. But also importantly the community has every right to be angry that their children will be affected by cuts affecting support in classrooms, welfare support, cuts in transport, professional advice and the staff who provide a range of important back-up support services.

“It is perverse that children and young people should be forced to pay for the gambling choices of investors and speculators.”

This news of a stirring among the statelet’s two largest public service unions, which between them represent over 85,000 workers, comes as the desperate need to protect jobs has been brought into focus yet again.

The latest Labour Market Report, published yesterday by DETI, reveals that 63,000 people are currently unemployed, and of that number 20,000 are 18-24 years old – meaning 1 in 5 young adults are currently seeking work. On top of the 63,000, another 51,000 job seekers are reclassified as economically inactive, putting the actual unemployment figure at 114,000 people or 12.4 per cent of the workforce.

Meanwhile, the Stormont parties and bosses organisations – such as the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors – continue to press for the devolution of taxation powers, so that they drive down the corporation tax rate to between 10 and 12.5 per cent.

Obviously not content with the Tories’ current incremental lowering of the rate, these organisations want the rate driven down as quickly as possible even further than the Tories’ current target of 23 per cent. This will mean that around £400 million will be slashed from the Six-County budget and will lead to an even more vicious assault on jobs and public services, all in the name of turning the Six Counties into a mini-tax haven for banks and multinational corporations.

The decision by NIPSA and Unison to ballot members on strike action is a clear indication of the groundswell of anger that exists in many workplaces, and must be welcomed. This kind of fight-back by the working class offers the only real hope of putting a stop to the slash-and-burn agenda the Tory-led government wishes to impose on our communities.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Hunger Strike Memorial Event in Coolock

Hunger Strike Memorial Event in Coolock

A series of events will take place in Dublin’s Coolock area on Saturday 27 August to remember the 30th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike, organised by the local éirígí ciorcal.

The day will commence at 2pm with a public meeting in Le Chéile Community Centre, Donneycarney, which will be addressed by former blanketman Pádraic Mac Coitir from Belfast.

After the meeting there will be a Hunger Strike Memorial GAA challenge match at the Inis Fáil GAA club in Balgriffin. Refreshments will be served afterwards in the Inis Fáil club and will be followed by a night of music and song.

Speaking about the events, éirígí spokesperson Ciarán Heaphey said, “This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the 1981 H-Block Hunger Strike, a momentous year in the history of Irish republicanism when ten brave young Volunteers from the IRA and INLA gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.

“The H-Block Hunger Strike was the culmination of an epic prison struggle, a period in which the British government attempted to criminalise the growing resistance to its brutal occupation of the Six Counties.

“For several years prior to the hunger strike, republican prisoners endured blanket and no-wash protests and suffered torture at the hands of the prison regime. Despite these appalling conditions the prisoners refused to bend to the will of the British government and in 1981 ten young men sacrificed their lives rather than be branded criminals by the Thatcher government.

“Writing just days before he died after 73 days on hunger strike, Kieran Doherty who was elected TD for Cavan/Monaghan summed up what was the H-Block prison struggle was about:

“The British and Maggie Thatcher won’t break me or my comrades. We are not criminals, we are Irish Political Prisoners of War and we will win in the end. Defeat is unthinkable after all that has passed. It is not just the 5 demands; the Republican Movement is at stake.”

Heaphey continued, “Thirty years on, the Hunger Strikers continue to inspire and on Saturday 27th August we in the local éirígí ciorcal invite people to participate in an event being held in their memory.

“Join us in honouring the memory of the ten H-Block martyrs.”


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

PSNI Harassment on the Rise

Saturday, August 6, was a busy day for the British militia in Newry who went into overdrive harassing, assaulting and arresting numerous republicans in what can only be described as an harassment spree.
Within the space of an hour the PSNI had stopped and searched at least 15 republicans in the centre of Newry.

Amongst those targeted included a 14-year-old child, at least 5 éirígí activists and supporters along with local independent republican councillor Davy Hyland.

This comes just a few weeks after éirígí took to the streets at Ardmore barracks with over 70 people opposing the PSNI and their repressive tactics.

We also predicted that éirígí’s campaign to confront British policing would be met with a fierce response from the PSNI; that prediction has become reality.

One of those stopped & searched on Saturday was éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney.

“I was stopped and searched just after two of my comrades suffered similar treatment including Cllr Davy Hyland. They were particularly aggressive and were demanding my details despite not notifying me which legislation they were using.”

“They then proceeded to search me and attempted to take my mobile phone and wallet from me. I protested against this, explaining that they were personal property and they had no right to take them unless they had a warrant, I also pointed out that under section 21 and 24 it does not state that they can remove personal items,” Stephen said.

“I was then physically grabbed by two PSNI thugs who twisted my arms and bent my wrists with such force that i had to let go of my wallet and phone. They then went through my personal items and threatened me with arrest for “assault” and being “aggressive” despite me remaining calm and peaceful with numerous witnesses.”

A few hours later another republican was assaulted and arrested by the same patrol, who used the exact same tactics of trying to take his personal property during a stop and search. This republican is now facing several trumped up charges.

It’s clear that the PSNI area commander Davy Beck is sticking to his recent promise that they will continue to target republicans.

We urge anyone on the receiving end of such harassment to contact their solicitor to have the incidents recorded.”

Stephen continued, “I have a message for Davy Beck and his band of PSNI thugs. If they think they can harass and intimidate republicans without provoking a reaction from us then they can think again.

“They can beat us, harass us and arrest us but they better get used to republicans openly challenging and resisting them because we won't be going anywhere.

“We are in it for the long haul.”