Thursday, 29 March 2012
For Irish republicans everywhere Easter is a time of commemoration, when those who have died in the struggle for Irish freedom are remembered. It is also a time of reflection when republicans take stock of the contemporary struggle for the creation of an Irish Republic. And finally it is a time of recommitment, when republicans dedicate themselves to another year in pursuit of the ideals for which so many have died over the centuries.
This Easter marks the 96th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising when hundreds of Irish women and men joined an armed uprising against British rule. In villages, towns and cities across Ireland this anniversary will be marked by hundreds of commemorative events. With wreath laying ceremonies, parades, speeches and song thousands of republicans will come together to remember those who gave their lives that Ireland might be free. This Easter éirígí is organising a number of commemorative events (see below). Join with us and remember Ireland’s martyrs with pride.
Battle of Mount Street Bridge Commemoration, 12noon, Easter Saturday, April 7th. Speaker: Cllr Louise Minihan
Wreath Laying Ceremony, 2pm, Easter Saturday, April 7th, assemble at gates of Bluebell Cemetery, Old Naas Road, Bluebell
Main Easter Commemoration: Easter Sunday, April 8th, assemble at 12.30pm at Phibsboro Shops for March to Glasnevin Cemetery. Speaker: Cllr Louise Minihan
Main Easter Commemoration, Easter Monday, April 9th, assemble at 1pm at gates of Milltown Cemetery for March to Republican Plot. Speaker: Brian Leeson
A number of wreath laying ceremonies, starting at 1pm, Easter Saturday, April 8th, at the Egyptian Arch, Newry
Birr, Co Offaly
Wreath laying ceremony, 12noon, Easter Sunday, April 8th, Manchester Martyrs monument, Birr, Co Offaly
Roscrea, Co Tipperary
Wreath laying ceremony, 10am, Easter Sunday, April 8th, Damer House, Roscrea, Co Tipperary
Arklow, Co Wicklow
Wreath laying Ceremony, 12noon, Easter Saturday, April 7th, Billy Byrne Monument, Arklow, Co Wicklow
Monday, 26 March 2012
On Tuesday [March 20], the Tory-led British government succeeded in passing its Health and Social Care Bill in Westminster. The Bill represents the greatest upheaval of the NHS since its formation in 1948 and and proactively facilitates a further opening up of the service to private companies.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Care is currently on a shortlist to take over core children’s health services in Devon, England, with a recent report by Corporate Watch finding that many private corporations involved in managing NHS services, who unsurprisingly also lobbied heavily in favour of the new Tory bill, are skilled tax dodgers.
It’d be enough to make you thankful that the Six Counties has a devolved administration, except that Stormont’s evolution-denying, creationist health minister Edwin Poots is planning his own major shake-up, or should that be ‘shake down’, of the NHS.
Speaking to a group of nurses and midwives at the Ward Sisters conference in Newtownabbey on Wednesday [March 21], Poots announced that he wanted to see 95 per cent of A&E patients discharged or admitted within four hours, and that no-one should have to wait longer than 12 hours in Accident & Emergency. He also announced some measures that might, he claimed, go toward achieving this goal.
This statement was undoubtedly in response to the outcry that a man had recently died unnoticed on a trolley in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Unfortunately for Poots, these targets have already been in place for five years as part of the department of health’s ‘Priorities for Action’ [PfA]. Worse still, in that time results have steadily declined.
In December 2007, 91 per cent of A&E patients were admitted or discharged within four hours and less than ten patients had to wait over 12 hours. In December 2011 however, the percentage of patients being dealt with in less than 4 hours had dropped to 85 and the number of people forced to wait over 12 hours had increased to almost 1,000.
Among Poots’ first decisions as health minister was to reduce the A&E opening hours at Lagan Valley hospital and close outright the A&E department at Belfast City Hospital. These actions have only worsened the current healthcare crisis. Since the closure at the City, the RVH has reported a 50 per cent increase in the number of patients attending A&E, placing already pressured staff under ever increasing strain.
In November of last year, Poots announced a review of health and social care provision. The consultation on the review included private sector and business interests such as the Confederation of British Industry and yet excluded the trade union movement, which represents tens of thousands of workers in the health sector who might have had something to say about the work that they do and where they felt change was required.
The review was also to take account of Reshaping the System, the report by private US consultancy group McKinsey and Co., written in 2010, but which only came to public attention in April 2011. Focused on financial matters, the report argued that health and social care could operate within budget constraints through implementing recommendations such as slashing around 10,000 jobs, withdrawing certain procedures, reducing the use of medication, and charging for patient transportation and hospital stays. When the report was first made public, politicians were quick to distance themselves from its recommendations.
Nonetheless recommendations made by McKinsey were to be found in the completed review, published as Transforming Your Care, but probably better known as the ‘Compton Review’. The main points from the review, which dominated the discussion, were the reduction of the number of acute hospitals in the Six Counties from ten to between five and seven, and the recommendation of cross-border co-operation for the counties straddling the partition line.
On Wednesday [March 21], the Irish News reported that health minister Poots is currently mulling over aggressive proposals to cut £78 million from the health service over the next 12 months. Among the cost-saving measures being proposed are the loss of 500 nursing jobs, the closure of hospital beds and wards, the reduction of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and dialysis treatment slots, and a ban on replacing staff who leave over the next year.
Commenting on this, John Compton, the chief executive of the Health and Social Care Board and the main figure behind the Compton Review, said: “Every public sector organisation in Northern Ireland has to live within their means.”
He can say that though as, with the £145,000 salary he receives as head of the HCSB, Compton can easily live within his means. For the rest of us, however, for all of us who are dependent on the public provision of health, these proposals must be fought strenuously and successfully.
Workers from health service unions will be holding lunchtime protests against cuts in pensions, pay and services. They will take place on Wednesday 28th March from 12.30pm to 1.30pm at Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast; Ulster Hospital, Dundonald; Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry; Antrim Area Hospital; and Craigavon Area Hospital, Portadown.
The 2012 British Budget, as with every previous Tory budget, is a welfare budget for the millionaires at the expense of the rest of us.
This comes into stark detail when we see that the wealthy have received tax cuts, while those on benefits are facing further cuts to their meagre living allowances.
David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osbourne are looters and thieves. They are looting the public purse for the benefit of their already super-privileged class.
As always, working people in Ireland unfortunate enough to be living under British rule will suffer most from the British Budget. Already deprived areas will be stripped bare of public provision, while workers will be expected to face further wage cuts and lay offs.
The alternative to this right-wing budget does not lie with those parties in Stormont who will grumble but ultimately implement everything the Tories tell them to implement. It lies with working class communities and those organised in workplaces. We must build a sustained campaign of opposition to Britain's austerity budget and those who implement it. Anything less will lead to a generation of despair for our people.
At a time when the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in society are suffering it's sickening to think that those who are partly responsible for their suffering are to be rewarded.
The Stormont politicians are responsible for enforcing savage British government cuts. There are also high unemployment levels and fuel poverty is rife, indeed it was recently revealed that almost half of the people in Newry & Mourne are suffering from fuel poverty with some having to decide whether to "heat or eat".
The child poverty and unemployment figures are shocking, though sadly not surprising. We live in a time of global economic collapse, with working people around the world staring into the financial abyss. In the midst of this catastrophe some politicians, can think of nothing else than squeezing that extra pound out of the taxpayer to line their own pockets.
Tuesday, 13 March 2012
The ongoing campaign of harassment waged on éirígí activists by British state forces has taken yet another sinister twist. Building upon a sustained campaign of stops, searches and threats by uniformed members of the PSNI, the latest incident saw them operating, seamlessly, with the nefarious ‘intelligence agencies’ – the spooks.
The éirígí activist in question, a family man from west Belfast, was attending a meeting on the outskirts of Belfast organised through his place of employment, which offers advice and support to those in need. Having concluded the meeting, which had been organised at very short notice, he immediately came upon a PSNI checkpoint. The only car stopped, he was asked for his driving license and ordered to pull over to the side of the road.
Once stopped, he was ordered out of his vehicle, which he believed was to facilitate an unwelcome and intrusive search of his person and/or his property. However, upon stepping out of his vehicle he was confronted by two plain clothed men, both of whom spoke with English accents. One of the men in question addressed the activist by his first name, said he had met him over a year ago at a business conference in England and asked if he remembered him.
The activist stated that he didn’t know the man, had never met him before and shouted over to the uniformed PSNI personnel that he wanted his license back or he was leaving. The spooks, realising that the éirígí activist was refusing to be intimidated, began to offer inducements. They stated that they were interested in learning more about éirígí, its future direction and his role within it, for which, they were prepared to offer money. They repeatedly prodded the activist to go down a nearby lane with them, which was within sight, and where a car was waiting.
Again the activist refused their approaches, demanded his license back and stated that he would be reporting the approach and the accompanying harassment to his solicitor. It was at this point that things became increasingly menacing. The spooks told him that they were offering him the ‘easy way’ but that, if necessary, they were prepared to do it the ‘hard way’ and that he would be well advised to accept their offer.
The activist told them that he wasn’t interested in their offers nor cowed by their threats. He again demanded his license back at which point the uniformed PSNI officer came over and menacingly asked if he had been drinking, which of course he hadn’t been. At this point the activist took his license back, got into his car and immediately phoned his employer and members of éirígí’s Ciorcal Náisiúnta to report the approach.
Speaking after the approach éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, condemned the ongoing harassment of éirígí activists and commended the response of the activist in question.
“Once again we bear witness to the nefarious agencies of the British state, those that work in the shadows, attempting to bribe, cajole and threaten those that work in the open. These forces have been central to the harassment, arrest, incarceration and murder of Irish republicans in Ireland for decades. In this instance, their sinister operation was directly facilitated by the PSNI, which seemingly remains as ‘ill-mannered’ as ever.
“The only person emerging from this incident with honour is the éirígí activist who not only refused the approaches of the MI5 operatives but had the courage to report them to his peers and comrades. We, in éirígí, would reiterate that people are not obliged to speak to, accompany nor work for these shadowy forces. They destroy the lives of their targets and informers, weaken communities and separate families. All approaches should be refused and immediately logged with appropriate legal professionals. There is no shame in being approached by these people; the only shame is in working for them.”
éirígí encourages anyone who is victim to this, or any other type of harassment, to not suffer in silence. Shine a light on the shadows. Don’t be spooked by the spooks.
Wednesday, 7 March 2012
éirígí spokesperson Stephen Murney has welcomed the quick response by the Water Service following a drainage issue in the Derrybeg estate.
Stephen, who is also a local community activist in the area, said “I was contacted by several residents in 5th Avenue after a manhole was constantly leaking with water actually running down the street. A foul smell was also emanating from the manhole cover which would suggest the presence of raw sewage.
“I contacted the Water Service on behalf of the concerned residents and i’m glad to say they responded quickly and fixed the problem.
“This could have posed serious health risks particularly as there are young kids playing in this street. I’d like to thank the Water Service for their speedy response to resolving this issue “.
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
The text of the motion read as follows: “This council notes, with grave concern, the ongoing harassment of republican activists in the Newry area by the PSNI. Members of the socialist republican party éirígí, along with other republicans, are being harassed on an almost daily basis while going about their everyday business and while engaging in legitimate political activities. This harassment includes regular stop & searches which in the past have been condemned by the European courts of human rights. It is imperative that Newry and Mourne District Council condemn this unnecessary harassment and call for this type of political policing to stop.”
éirígí's Stephen Murney, and a number of other activists were in the council chamber for the motion.
Stephen said, “This was a motion regarding ongoing human rights abuses being carried out by the PSNI. It’s disappointing that the council failed to pass this motion. Constitutional nationalist councillors proposed that it should be amended. However, the proposed amendment would have simply watered down the motion by giving misplaced credence to obviously failed and cosmetic accountability mechanisms.
“The three so-called accountability mechanisms, namely the Police Ombudsman's Office, the Policing Board and the district policing partnership have all proven themselves to be inherently flawed and ineffective.
“A cursory examination of those bodies demonstrates their ineptitude:
- The Ombudsman's Office continues to be embroiled in internal turmoil due to its complete mis-handling of scores of cases involving collusion between members of state forces and unionist death squads.
- The Policing Board completely failed to notice the re-employment of the hundreds of former RUC personnel, including many ex-Special Branch officers, through a process which virtually amounted to a revolving back-door.
- The District Policing Partnerships across the Six Counties are having little or no impact, and attendances by the public at DPP meetings in many areas can often be counted in single figures.
“éirígí's view is that these bodies have been proven to possess no powers capable of altering the ethos and impact of British policing in occupied Ireland. The fact that even members of the Policing Board have admitted that they have no powers to hold the PSNI to account further vindicates our analysis.
“There is no ‘new policing dispensation’ as some claim. How can there be a ‘new dispensation’ when most PSNI members served when the force was called the RUC? On top of that they continue to use repressive legislation and tactics the RUC used, so there's nothing ‘new’ about it.
“When nationalist parties joined these Policing Boards they claimed they were doing so to end human rights abuses and to hold the PSNI to account. It’s perfectly clear that their project has failed utterly.
“If anything we would challenge those who participate in these bodies to honestly and publicly admit to their own failed policies, and to stop providing cover for those engaging in outright political policing methods that even the RUC would be envious of.
“One constitutional nationalist councillor even suggested that the victims of harassment should meet with the chief superintendent of the paramilitary force. Such a suggestion needs to be treated with the ridicule it deserves.”
Stephen concluded, “We are grateful to Davy Hyland for submitting the motion on our behalf and he was perfectly right not to accept an entirely different watered down version. It’s unfortunate that éirígí had to ask Davy to highlight this ongoing issue in the first place to try to force other councillors to break their silence. If it wasn’t for Davy Hyland this issue would never have been highlighted in the chamber.
“éirígí will continue to highlight and resist political policing in all its forms.”
This new éirígí mural was erected in the Derrybeg estate in Newry. The mural depicts the éirígí logo along with revolutionary icon James Connolly. Several more of these will be erected in other working class areas of Newry in the run up to easter.