Monday, 30 January 2012

Stencil Campaign

éirígí in Newry have started a stencil campaign in the area, the stencils depict the iconic image of, the working class warrior, James Connolly with his famous quote "WE DEFY YOU! DO YOUR WORST!", and the other highlights the unchanged nature of British policing and is part of our "Different Name, Same Aim" campaign. A few of these have already appeared in working class areas and over the coming days and weeks more areas will be covered. ARISE 

Friday, 27 January 2012

RUC-PSNI: Unchanged, Unchanging, Unchangeable‏

éirígí policing mural

The recent revelations that more than three quarters of “civilian staff” employed by the PSNI were in the force when it was called the RUC is clear proof of the unchanged and unaccountable nature of the militia.

It was also revealed that almost half of them are involved in “sensitive” roles such as the intelligence branch.

The PSNI has attempted to defend this position by claiming they need the “expertise and skills” of these human rights abusing RUC members. The expertise and skills that we recall being used by these people is collusion, murder, frame-ups, brutality and harassment.

éirígí's Stephen Murney said “These revelations will come as no surprise to republicans who have been on the receiving end of brutality and abuse at the hands of these thugs. We have stated all along that this force remained nothing but the same force it always was, bar a few cosmetic changes, and this now proves that we were right. They are simply the same old wine in new bottles.

“They were unacceptable when they were called the RIC, they were unacceptable when they were called the RUC and they are unacceptable today under their current guise of the PSNI.

“A few years back some within our communities were trying to sell their “policing project” as a fresh new beginning with promises of accountability and manners being placed on them. They have failed miserably and this is evident everyday of the week with stop & searches, house raids and regular harassment taking place across the six counties and now it's revealed the same people who terrorised our communities for decades are working for the PSNI wearing a different uniform.

Stephen concluded “éirígí activists have been to the fore in opposing and resisting the British police and as a result we have found ourselves in their sights time and time again. We will continue with our Different Name, Same Aim campaign with more vigour and determination as before”

Stormont Isn't Working for Newry's Working Class

éirígí in Newry have expressed concern at unemployment figures released which show that a staggering 3,696 people living in Newry & Mourne are currently receiving unemployment benefit.
In Newry city itself the Ballybot area has the highest level with 11% claiming unemployment.
 Areas in Newry are listed as follows starting with highest:
  • Ballybot ward – 11%
  • Daisy Hill ward - 9.2%
  • St Mary’s ward 8.9%
  • Drumgullion ward – 7%
  • St Patricks ward – 5.8%
  • Drumalane ward - 6.5%
  • Windsor Hill ward– 3.9%

éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said that the figures clearly show that Stormont isn’t Working and has called for the Stormont politicians to refuse to do the dirty work of the British government.
Stephen explained “coupled with the 155% increase in youth unemployment and with another 26,000 public sector jobs predicted to go in the next few years it’s clear that the onslaught against the working class shows no sign of stopping.
“All the Stormont parties are keen to hide the stark reality of these actual unemployment figures, poverty levels and the wages gap – not only for economic reasons but because of the political signals these figures send out – a message that the Six-County state is an impractical and ineffectual economic entity based upon a misguided philosophy that partition can be made to work.
“Stormont never worked for working class communities in the past. It’s not working for them now”
Murney continued “The fight-back against this injustice has to come from both the employed and the unemployed. It has to come from those people who will be the first targets of the Tory-led British government’s attack on our living standards.
“There are some politicians in Stormont who claim to be opposed to the Tory cuts. If they are genuinely opposed to them then they should refuse to enforce them and stand up for the disadvantaged and vulnerable.  In the struggle to defend jobs and working conditions, to protect the public services that are so important to our communities, and also in the struggle to create a new political and socio-economic order in Ireland where capitalism will be unable to prey on workers or the most vulnerable elements of society, Stormont has no progressive role to play.
Stephen concluded by stating “éirígí in Newry will continue with our Stormont Isn’t Working campaign and will not be found wanting when it comes to standing up for the working class.

éirígí Newry Voice Concern at Child Poverty figures‏

Over 80,000 children in the Six Counties are living in poverty, according to a new report published yesterday [January 10].

The report, produced by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, found that over 1 in 5 children in the statelet live below the poverty line – the point at which families struggle to pay for basic necessities such as food, heating and clothing.

That figure rises to over 2 in 5 in West Belfast (where 46 per cent of children live in poverty) and North Belfast (41 per cent), with Derry close behind at 36 per cent and Newry & Mourne coming in at 25 per cent.

The report also reveals that there are now more children in households without work and in households where only some of the adults have jobs.

Commenting on the report, éirígi condemned the dire situation in which more and more families are finding themselves.

A spokesperson for the party said “It’s disgraceful that families are being forced to choose between feeding themselves or heating their homes, and it’s a situation that’s more common than many people are willing to admit.

“This already intolerable situation will only worsen as our communities feel the bite of the Tory cuts agenda. People in work are having their pay frozen or reduced and, and people in receipt of benefits are finding these slashed. Add to this that more people are finding that their income cannot keep up with inflation and it’s clear that many families are struggling to afford even the basics.

“The cabinet of millionaires in Westminster will not have to face these circumstances, neither will the Stormont politicians who are just getting by on their £43,000-a-year ‘poverty’ pay.”

The spokesperson concluded “The most vulnerable are suffering the most from the regressive economic policies of the Tories. This sorry state of affairs will continue only as long as people allow it. Workers are facing further attacks on pay and conditions, and people on benefits and tax credits will see all of these schemes cut as the British government and its Stormont administration continue with their austerity economics. Now is the time to say ‘No more’ so we don’t condemn yet another generation of children to a poverty-ridden existence.”

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Newry Times Interview with éirígí Newry about British policing

Given the revelations that 75% of “civilian staff” employed by the PSNI were in the force when it was called the RUC, the following interview was conducted by the Newry Times with éirígí’s Newry representative Stephen Murney 

Newry Times - How do you feel now about the Policing Board knowing that many ex-RUC officers are providing intelligence etc.. and working in what the BBC described as 'the most sensitive areas of policing'?

Stephen Murney - The revelations about the existence of continuity RUC within the so-called civilian staff of the PSNI is evidence of the completely unaccountable nature of policing structures in the Six Counties. éirígí has said all along that the Six County Policing Board and the District Policing Partnerships are nothing but paper tigers with absolutely no power to alter the ethos and impact of British policing in the North. The fact that even members of the Policing Board have admitted that they have no powers to hold these RUC veterans to account further vindicates our analysis. 

Newry Times - How do you react to these latest revelations that former members of this RUC still wield power and influence behind the scenes?

Stephen Murney - There has been no sea change in the thinking of those who control policing in the Six Counties. These people remain wedded to repressive strategies and tactics and continue to see the PSNI as the frontline of the British occupation - and that is exactly what the force is. 

The PSNI remains a routinely armed force, just like the RUC; it continues to stockpile and use deadly plastic bullets, just like the RUC; it uses repressive legislation to harass and intimidate nationalists and republicans, just like the RUC; it blocks inquiries in an attempt to hide the truth about state killings and collusion, just like the RUC. Given all this, it is hard not to conclude that the PSNI is simply the RUC under a different acronym. 

Newry Times - Do you think these revelations will harm the cooperation between the local community and the PSNI and do you think it will cause concern amongst the public?

Stephen Murney - The news that such a large numbers of RUC veterans are still serving in completely unaccountable roles will undoubtedly cause concern among members of the public, many of whom have first hand experience of repressive policing. The PSNI's tactics on the ground and the regular revelations about their unchanging strategies and personnel are leading ever greater numbers of people to reject them as an unaccountable force. 

Newry Times - Do you agree there is a need for these former RUC officers to be on the PSNI payroll right now?

Stephen Murney - The RUC was an organisation that habitually abused human rights, engaged in the torture of detainees, colluded with death squads and adopted a policy of shoot-to-kill. Those who staffed this force should be facing the prospect of prosecution for these crimes, not being given continued employment. 

Newry Times - Before this week were you aware of the former RUC officers working for the PSNI in a civilian capacity?

Stephen Murney - As recently as a number of months ago it was publicly revealed that over 50 per cent of serving PSNI officers are RUC veterans. Given this, it is no surprise that members of the RUC continue to work in such large numbers in 'civilian' roles. The culture of repression remains embedded within the PSNI - there are no better people to serve this culture than veterans of the RUC. 

Newry Times - Would it be fair to suggest that these officers are being employed through a loophole in the Patten Report which suggests the only way former RUC officers can be re-integrated into the Police is through a civilian capacity?

Stephen Murney - As was stated above, over 50 per cent of serving PSNI officers today are former RUC officers, so there is no loop hole in the Patten Report, rather there is a gaping hole which has allowed the culture of repressive policing to continue unimpeded.  Fundamentally, this is about British government policy in Ireland and there policy remains that of protecting their presence by any means necessary, including through the use of the continuity RUC.

Newry Times - Will you be lobbying, by stating the terms of Patten Report, that these ex-RUC officers should repay their redundancy lump sum now and also lobby for the closing of this loophole?

Stephen Murney - What éirígí will be doing is continuing its campaign against political and repressive policing, in Newry and elsewhere. The PSNI is an unacceptable and unaccountable force, just like the RUC. They should be opposed as such.  

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Pig at the Trough

Alasdair McDonnell

There are over 110,000 people unemployed in the six counties. Over 80,000 children are living in poverty. As harrowing as these figures may be, spare a thought for that oft maligned group also on the verge of sinking into penury – our politicians.

One man has been brave enough to champion their cause: blundering SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell 

MP, MLA. According to Alasdair:
“We need to be very careful that our assemblies don’t turn into millionaire clubs again. Politics is not a job for life, people should be encouraged to come in and go out. It is important that ordinary people should be able to leave their job or trade to spend a period as representatives, and also be able to go back to their previous life without landing in poverty.”

The child poverty and unemployment figures are shocking, though sadly not surprising. We live in a time of global economic collapse brought, with working people around the world staring into the financial abyss. In the midst of this catastrophe this career politician, who’s been around for longer than anyone cares to remember, can think of nothing else than squeezing that extra pound out of the taxpayer to line his own pocket.

McDonnell warns against ‘millionaire clubs’. A brief look at his own financial interests would indicate that he’d be quite comfortable there. As well as his wage as an MP and an MLA (£65,766), with expenses averaging well over £150,000, McDonnell also has
  • A farm in county Antrim, from which rental income is received.
  • A house in Belfast, from which rental income is received.
  • The Ormeau Health Centre and adjacent property, from which rental income is received.
  • Arrow Travel, Belfast.
  • A holiday home in Glenarriffe, county Antrim.
  • He is a director of Medevol, a medical trials company.
  • He is waged as a part time GP.
McDonnell’s constituents would not be surprised at his callous disregard in the face of their hardship. He is, after all, the same man who blamed the people of the Lower Ormeau Road for bringing upon themselves the massacre in Sean Graham’s bookmakers, which left five dead and a community traumatised, for refusing to lie down and accept the British state in Ireland, doing his best to absolve the unionist death squad and their handlers of any responsibility for the attack.

One of the weapons used in the attack was later handed back to the death squad responsible by the RUC. Has McDonnell raised this with his paymasters in London? Has he ever called for an inquiry into the matter? No. He remains content to blame the victims.

McDonnell embodies some of the worst aspects of Irish political culture: the vulgar money grubbing of the gombeen man coupled with the lickspittle mentality and moral cowardice of the shoneen. A truly disgusting individual.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The British State, their Police and Security Forces (Rab Jackson, éirígí)

Posted Image

The police force within any society acts as a crucial component part of the state apparatus. The state itself is a network of institutions including the armed forces, the judiciary, the civil service, the church and where applicable the monarchy. It is an apparatus which has as its role the maintenance of the social, economic and political interests of the dominant classes. This explains why Fredrick Engle’s once described the state fundamentally as ‘armed bodies of men acting in defense of private property’. And if the state is the instrument of the ruling class, clearly the police force represents its cutting edge.

Much of the focus on the question of special branch is misplaced. From a republican perspective, it matters not whether special branch is amalgamated with crime branch, whether or not there is a reduction in its numbers, whether or not special branch officers are limited to shorter term postings or whether or not district policing commanders are made aware of special branch/MI5 activity in their areas. From a republican perspective, the problem lies with the existence of special branch/MI5 itself, or to be more specific, with the existence of any type of secret British police department and agenda in Ireland whatever it may be called. Palace Barracks is the site for the overseeing and directing of the ‘national interests’ and this is not negotiable.

Again on this question it is necessary to return to the nature of the state and the role of the police perform within it. As explained, the state upholds the interests of the ruling classes, with the police force acting as the cutting edge. Defense of these interests is the fundamental role of the state and its police force. Consequently, the role of a special branch/MI5 type department within or, as suggested now, alongside the police is crucial. In fact it is true to say that special branch/MI5 stands as the most important department within/alongside any police force. It is the department which gathers intelligence about the enemies of the state and acts upon it using a wide range of techniques including physical surveillance, electronic surveillance and, most importantly the recruitment and running of informants. Its role is to weaken revolutionary or subversive organizations through application of this intelligence, resulting in the killing or imprisonment of members of these organizations.

Special branch/MI5 is a secret police department with a very specific role to which the concepts of accountability and control are anathema. Certainly the policing Board itself will never be in the position to control, or be privy to all the activities of special branch/MI5 simply has no constructive role in Ireland from a Republican ideological view point. In fact they represent one of the most destructive and limiting obstacles to Republicanism and should be implacably opposed undermined and removed.

The only change of late has been a cosmetic one. This was a commitment by the then outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the form of a letter, that the roles of MI5 and PSNI will be distinct. He qualifies this by saying “All necessary interaction between the security services and the PSNI, for example in response to the threat of international terrorism (national security), will, as directed by the chief constable, be by way of liaison”. This essentially means that MI5 is severed except when it needs to interact with the PSNI nor when it needs to use the PSNI to carry out its policies.

A ‘civic’ police force even if it wished to, has no accountability mechanisms or legal power which allows it to refuse the work handed to it by MI5. ‘civic police officers, of course will have to carry out the arrest orders on those the British deem to be desirable and they will be tasked with pushing orange marchers through areas where they’re not welcomed. Republicans who oppose British rule in Ireland and whom the British consider to be running contrary to national interests will feel the full weight of the ‘civic’ police officers. In these circumstances it will be clear that empty promises by British Ministers about the transfer of powers will not be worth the paper they’re not written on.

The implications now and in the future for republicans endorsing the policing structures in the context outlined cannot be underestimated. The conundrum for republicans must be; can you continue to oppose British state in Ireland, whilst at the same time endorsing, working within, and encouraging others to work within the legal framework of that same apparatus? Can you effectively pursue a republican agenda whilst playing by British rules designed to protect British state interests?

If and when the British state becomes threatened in Ireland, as it inevitably will at some point, from a left or republican direction, those working within its cutting edge will be compelled or directed to defend it. This means the PSNI and MI5. They will have no choice but to act thus at that point. Subsequently and tragically, those involved in British policing structures will be implied (as the SDLP have been thus far) every time the state cracks down on its opponents in order to defend the interests of its masters in the British ruling class. Every time a republican is jailed or killed, a strike is broken up, or a public protest is violently dispersed, the representatives of the republican community who support and endorse this institution and who work alongside it will be implicated in its abuses. This is the essential dilemma for republicans on this issue. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

éirígí New Year Statement 2012


éirígí takes the opportunity of the New Year to recognise and pay tribute to all those who supported the struggle for a free Ireland in 2011. As the New Year dawns, éirígí also wishes to restate its commitment to the overthrow of the British occupation of the Six Counties and the capitalist socio-economic system which exists on both sides the border.

For millions of people across Ireland 2011 will be remembered as a year of cutbacks, austerity, unemployment, emigration, poverty and despair. As the global capitalist crisis deepened the ruling class in both states intensified their attacks upon the weakest in society, determining that the many should pay for the greed of the few.

Willing fools in Leinster House and Stormont happily implemented the anti-social dictates of their respective masters in Berlin, Washington and London. By their actions the administrations in both failed statelets have committed a great wrong against the people of Ireland; burdening this and future generations with untold debts and deprivation. And all in order to protect the ruling elite of financiers, property developers, bankers and politicians.

2011 saw the British state attempt to further increase its malign influence in Ireland. In the Six Counties Britain’s paramilitary police continued with their campaign of harassment and intimidation of the nationalist community in general and republican activists in particular. House raids, stop and search, batons and plastic bullets were all used to intimidate and attack those who continue to resist the occupation. These activities by the PSNI provided yet more proof of the irreformable nature of British policing in Ireland. éirígí again calls on those who claimed that such reform was possible to accept the reality of the situation and withdraw their support for Britain’s paramilitary police and Britain’s legal system.

In a year that saw the thirtieth anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike remembered across the world the British government continued to attempt to treat republican political prisoners as criminals, resulting in an entirely predictable and justified protest by those same prisoners. éirígí reaffirms its support for the protesting prisoners in Maghaberrry Jail in 2012 and calls upon the administrations in Stormont and Westminster to grant them full political status immediately.

In the Twenty-Six Counties éirígí was to the fore of organising opposition to the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor. That opposition forced the Dublin government to mount the largest security operation in living memory, including the lock-down of much of Dublin city for up to a week. Despite the hype of the state and corporate media, the parading of Windsor through a sterile ghost city did little but reinforce the very abnormal nature of relations between Britain and Ireland. Those who joined the street protests and wider campaign of opposition to the Windsor visit followed in the footsteps of Connolly and Markievicz, who in their time led opposition to the last visit to Dublin by a British monarch. For their bravery and discipline in the face of ample provocation they are to be commended.

Internationally the struggle against the tyranny of imperialism, the markets and neo-liberalism gained much ground over the last twelve months. Countless millions across the globe took to the streets to challenge their respective ruling elites, providing real hope for the possibility of a global fight back. In the United States, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere mass demonstrations and industrial action gave a glimpse of the possibilities that a global mass movement for justice could produce. Recognising the need for a global socialist solution to a global capitalist problem, éirígí takes the opportunity to send New Year’s solidarity greetings to all of those who fight against intolerance, discrimination and exploitation.

With Britain in control of the Six Counties and the IMF/EU/ECB in control of the Twenty-Six Counties all of Ireland is now under an effective foreign occupation for the first time in almost a century. What could not be achieved with tanks and guns has now been realised with treaties and bailouts. The agenda of these joint occupations is clear – the creation of a deeply unjust neo-liberal political, social and economic order – an order which will see an ever increasing amount of power and wealth concentrated into the hands of an ever decreasing number of people.

As 2012 begins the need for a reinvigorated Irish revolutionary republican movement has never been greater. The ideas at the core of Irish republicanism are as relevant today as they were when they first emerged in the 1790s. The vision of a free Ireland governed by the people for the people stands in stark contrast to the partitioned, occupied and deeply unequal Ireland of today. A new all-Ireland Democratic Socialist Republic represents the only viable and sustainable alternative to the division, poverty and chaos that the current system has produced.

The building of a popular movement that will deliver such a new republic is already underway. Over the coming twelve months éirígí intends to accelerate that build, by increasing its campaigns of active opposition to the British and IMF/EU/ECB occupations.

éirígí encourages those republicans who have withdrawn from active struggle to reconsider their position as a new year begins. The Irish people have rarely faced greater challenges than those that currently confront them. Your skills, experience and heart are badly needed at this juncture in our history. And to those who have never been active in struggle éirígí extends an invite to join with us in taking a stand against occupation and injustice. Together we can build a revolutionary republican movement capable of creating a new all-Ireland state – one which will genuinely guarantee the political, social and economic rights of all, regardless of their gender, religion or race.