Friday, 31 August 2012

Sectarian Ritual Shuts Down Newry

Stephen Murney

The three days of sectarian coat-trailing experienced in Newry over the weekend of 24-26th August brought nothing but frustration, disruption and inconvenience to the people of the area.

The bank holiday weekend began on Friday evening with a show of strength hosted by the South Down Defenders flute band, with over a score of other unionist bands along with three thousand of their supporters taking over the streets of Newry.

Coupled with an accompanying and domineering major PSNI operation, many local people were simply unable to venture into the city centre. Those local people who had no choice but to travel around Newry, either by car or on foot, found themselves delayed or intimidated not only by unionist bands but also by the menacing behaviour of heavily armed members of the Six-County police force.

Saturday and Sunday proved to be no different with several more sectarian marches taking place alongside the accompanying clamp-down of nationalist residents of Newry by the PSNI.

Voicing the socialist republican party’s opposition to such sectarian shows of strength, éirígí’s Stephen Murney said, “After being contacted by local residents and several shop-owners in the town, our party activists and supporters were present for each of these marches. Local nationalists found themselves targeted by the PSNI’s Tactical Support Group for simply observing the march.

“éirígí party members were verbally abused and threatened with arrest by PSNI personnel in full view of members of the public.

“At the same time, a constitutional nationalist MLA, also observing the marches and performing the same role just a few feet away from éirígí party members, was allowed to do so unhindered by the same PSNI personnel.”

Murney added, “We are often told by the main unionist parties’ PR machines that these marches bring an economic benefit to the towns in which they are held.

“Perhaps, shop-owners in Newry should tell those unionist apologists just how little these marches actually added to the economy of Newry over the last weekend of August.

“It is obvious to all citizens in Newry that the presence of these sectarian marches actually kills off trade rather than enhancing it.”

Murney continued, “It’s also obvious that unionists will use any excuse to indulge in sectarian coat trailing exercises in Newry. They march to catch buses to another town, then they march after getting off buses from other towns; they march going to a church and then march coming back from a church. They also march for no reason at all other than sheer sectarianism.

“Newry has had enough of these sectarian displays. These marches only cause, rather than heal, division.

“In July of this year, the convenor of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council described the Orange Order and its off-shoots as being ‘out of time and out of place’ in modern society.

“Perhaps, it’s time that others within the nationalist community and, indeed, the protestant community in Newry also stood up just as courageously to send out the same message. Such marches are, indeed, out of time and out of place in Newry.”

Monday, 27 August 2012

‘Know Your Rights’ Campaign Launched in Newry

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Several dozen people attended the public launch of éirígí’s “Know your rights” campaign in Newry Arts Centre on Thursday [August 23].

The event was introduced by the party’s Newry representative Stephen Murney and was chaired by Councillor Davy Hyland. A legal professional provided an in depth view of the various legislation used and abused by Britain’s police force and provided a presentation on the statistics available.

éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith gave a historical and present day analysis of British policing in Ireland and made comparisons between repressive legislation used as far back as the RIC, RUC and the present day PSNI.

Mac Cionnaith explained, “The historical use of special powers to address opposition to British rule in Ireland created a sort of sham internal legitimacy within the Six Counties that has supported the continued use of similar coercive measures from partition right through to the situation we find ourselves in today where two political parties who once opposed such repressive laws now acquiesce to their use.

“Repressive laws have become so much part of the fabric of life in the North that the mindset of constitutional nationalists has veered away from viewing repressive legislation as anything other than normal – little surprise given that they have fully brought into Britain’s normalisation policy. Perhaps, those parties have forgotten that one of the demands of the civil rights movement, which they both claim descent from, was the repeal of the Special Powers Act – not its replacement with more repressive legislation.”

Pointing out that the repressive legislation in use today is intended to prevent anyone from expressing or organising political, social or economic opposition to the status quo in the Six Counties, Breandán continued, “That was the intent behind the introduction of the Special Powers Act in the Twenties, and that is the intent behind such legislation today. The new stop and search powers under the Terrorism Act will likely be used in a similar way – those powers will be used for ‘dragnet’ low level intelligence gathering exercises and general intimidation and harassment.

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“The lack of knowledge which prevails about extent of repressive legislation amongst our communities, and even amongst many political activists, demonstrates how well the British state has succeeded in isolating and demonising Republicans and radicals in the Six Counties. It also demonstrates how well the British state has succeeded in its normalisation policy.”

Breandán concluded, “It is vital that we familiarise with those remnants of our individual rights and civil liberties, especially today when new anti-‘terrorist’ legislation is casting the net of repression ever wider. It is important that we educate others what the British State in the Six Counties is capable of and how it operates. The launch of this “Know Your Rights” card is part of that process of education. It will be updated regularly to take account of changes in legislation.”

Following the panel discussion there was a very informative question and answer session during which those in attendance raised their concerns and gave their accounts of the harassment they have received. Some valuable and helpful advice was provided by the legal professional.

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Speaking after the launch éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said, “We are delighted to have launched this ongoing campaign in the Newry area. The turnout tonight is testament to the fact that the PSNI have been waging an unrelenting campaign of harassment and intimidation in Newry through the use of stop and searches and various other means.

“I have no doubt that the people who attended this launch have left here tonight with a better understanding of their rights when confronted by the state forces. This is just one example of how we need to educate, organise and agitate within our communities and éirígí will not be found wanting when it comes to that.”

Sunday, 19 August 2012

éirígí Newry meets with human rights group CAJ

CAJ logo
éirígí representatives and victims of state harassment recently held a meeting in Newry with human rights group, the Committee on the Administration of Justice [CAJ].

CAJ is an internationally-recognised independent human rights organisation, which lobbies and campaigns on human rights issues both in the Six Counties and abroad. The organisation is currently monitoring stop and search incidents and are recording and logging the details.

The meeting was convened after members of the socialist republican party contacted CAJ with details of an unremitting campaign of state force harassment being waged against people in Newry.

The CAJ representatives heard first-hand accounts of numerous incidents that have taken place in the area. These incidents include countless stop and searches, assaults, house raids, arrests, intimidation, provocation, the targeting of children and people being targeted while at work.

Speaking after the meeting éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said, “This was a very worthwhile and positive meeting with a leading human rights organisation. CAJ have provided us with stop and search/police harassment monitoring forms, which they ask victims of PSNI harassment to fill in each time they are targeted.

“We are asking people when filling in these forms to note the legislation used, details of the incident including the location and time, and if possible to note the rank and numbers of the PSNI members involved.

“As well as launching éirígí’s own “Know Your Rights” campaign in the area next Thursday [August 23] we will also be advising people to contact their legal representatives and CAJ to have the incidents logged and recorded.”

Murney added, “We are delighted with the proactive approach CAJ are taking and we in éirígí have pledged to work closely with them and we look forward to future meetings with the organisation.”

The Newry launch of éirígí’s “Know Your Rights” campaign will take place on Thursday 23rd August at 7.30pm in the Newry Arts Centre, Bank Parade, beside the Town Hall.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

PSNI accused of covering-up unionist attack on Armagh church

An explosion which wrecked a phone box in the townland of Ballyargan in County Armagh last Sunday [August 12] occurred only yards away from a catholic church. A spokesperson for the socialist republican party éirígí has accused the PSNI of covering up the location of the blast and of failing to attribute any sectarian or other ominous motivation to the explosion despite obvious evidence.

A spokesperson for éirígí in the Newry area, Stephen Murney, said, “The PSNI, in a classic piece of media management which went unchallenged by the main news media outlets, issued a terse statement on Monday 13th August about a blast on the Lisraw Road. That PSNI statement said that detectives based at Ardmore in Newry were investigating reports of an explosion at a phone box and that the extent of the damage was too great to have been caused by a firework.”

Murney added, “At no time since last Sunday has the PSNI mentioned that the seat of the explosion was less than twenty yards away from the entrance to St Patrick’s catholic church at Ballyargan. Many people will no doubt find it remarkable that the PSNI did not deem the actual location of this blast and its close proximity to a catholic church to be of any factual relevance or to be indicative of a sectarian motive from those responsible for causing the explosion.

“This is even more remarkable given that St Patrick’s Church has previously been subjected to other sectarian attacks in the past. St Patrick’s is situated in a fairly isolated location and is located in the middle of a triangle bounded by Markethill, Tandragee and Scarva. A decade ago, unionist slogans were daubed on the church and gravestones in the adjoining cemetery were broken on several occasions, and in the mid-90s it was also fire-bombed.”

Murney also questioned why no representatives from the SDLP or SF appear to have publicly questioned the PSNI version of events.

He said, “Furthermore, one must also ask why those constitutional national politicians who constantly claim to hold the PSNI to account have failed to publicly challenge the PSNI’s reporting of last Sunday’s explosion. Why have SDLP and SF members of the Policing Board and the so-called Police and Community Safety Partnerships failed to publicly take the PSNI to task for the deliberate cover-up of what, to all intents and purposes, was an attack with obvious sectarian motivation? How can such media management, misreporting and cover-up by the PSNI be considered to be compatible with the safety of any community.”

In conclusion, Murney said, “Although Sunday Masses are not held there, the explosion beside St Patrick’s church clearly suggests there is a small unionist grouping within the Markethill, Tandragee and Scarva area intent on stirring up sectarian strife. That the PSNI is seeking to downplay that reality is a matter which should be of major concern to all.”

Friday, 10 August 2012

éirígí to Launch ‘Know Your Rights’ Campaign in Newry

éirígí have announced the details of the public launch of our much anticipated ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign in Newry.

The PSNI, like the RUC before them, habitually abuse the rights of Irish citizens as a core component of its activities. Confronted by these forces, many people unknowingly waive a number of their basic rights. Regrettably, due to the sheer number of repressive laws available to the British state forces, a great number of people are simply unaware as to what their rights are.

For others, these forces are imposing and even intimidating figures of power and as a result they simply do as their told. Whatever the case, we know that the PSNI act in opposition to the interests of the working class and, therefore, it falls to us to defend our own rights.

Speaking ahead of the launch, éirígí’s Newry representative Stephen Murney explained, “Only too often we hear of incidents were people are on the receiving end of harassment, particularly in the Newry area. It can be a very intimidating experience when a person is surrounded by several aggressive heavily armed PSNI members barking questions and making demands. This campaign will enable people to know their rights and defend them.

“By launching this campaign in the Newry area, we aim to dispel some of the myths around a number of these ‘Stop and Search’ provisions and powers, which will empower people to be more assertive in the face of them.”

Stephen concluded “This event will include a panel discussion which will be chaired by independent republican councillor Davy Hyland and will feature éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith and a legal professional.”

Venue: Newry Arts Centre (Beside Town hall)
Date: Thursday 23rd August
Time: 7.30pm

Friday, 3 August 2012

éirígí voices concerns of another upcoming sectarian siege of Newry

Stephen Murney

éirígí in Newry have expressed their opposition to yet another sectarian show of strength in the area after it emerged that the city will once again be placed under siege to allow three days of unionist triumphalism at the end of this month.

From Friday 24th August until Sunday 26th August, a total of five unionist parades will take place with over 3,000 participants and 50 bands taking over the streets of Newry, beginning with the sectarian South Down Defenders Flute Band who will be bussing in thousands of unionist bandsmen and supporters into the overwhelmingly nationalist city from across the Six Counties for a sectarian coat-trailing exercise.

Stephen Murney, the local spokesperson for the socialist republican party in the Newry area, said “Just last month we had thousands of unionists accompanied by dozens of bands descending on Newry leaving the area a virtual ghost town. Band members and participants shouted insults at local people observing and even rushed to attack a local photographer.

“A massive security operation sealed Newry off and most people couldn’t go about their daily business. I have no doubt that this upcoming sectarian ritual will mean the same for the nationalist people of Newry".

Murney continued “Before and after the 12th July our party were inundated with complains from local people who are sick and tired of this happening time and time again. The fact that this next disruptive demonstration will take place over a three day period will mean that many nationalist people in Newry will have to endure an entire weekend of sectarian intimidation and bigotry.

“The annual Friday night sectarian procession is well known for bringing Newry to a standstill for several hours with severe traffic disruption; unionists drinking openly in the street, actually outside Ardmore PSNI barracks; the playing of sectarian songs; bands displaying the emblems and flags of unionist paramilitary death squads and nationalists afraid to look out of their windows or venture onto their own streets.

Stephen concluded “Newry will once again be handed over to the bigots, we in éirígí deeply oppose such sectarian rituals and we call for an end to sectarian organisations being permitted to proceed through overwhelmingly nationalist towns such as Newry”.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Liam Lynch Remembered

Liam Lynch memorial

Republicans from various parts of the country gathered in county Tipperary yesterday, Sunday July 29, on the slopes of the Knockmealdown mountains at the site of the impressive 60 foot high round tower memorial, erected in 1935, to commemorate ‘the Real Chief’ – Liam Lynch.

Among those who attended the mountainside ceremony was Malachy McCreesh whose brother, Raymond, died on hunger-strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in 1981.

Liam Lynch was born in Barnagurraha, County Limerick, in 1893, and spent his youth in that county, living with his parents, three brothers and a sister.

At the age of 17, he went to work in Mitchelstown in County Cork, where he later joined the Irish Volunteers after their formation in 1913. From being First Lieutenant, he rose to the rank of O/C of the First Southern Division, commanding IRA units across Munster, during the Tan War.

After the signing of the Treaty, which he opposed, Lynch was appointed Chief of Staff of the IRA.

Despite Liam Lynch’s best efforts over several months to maintain the unity of the Army, Free State forces using British artillery attacked the Republican garrison in Dublin’s Four Courts in a deliberate act designed to foment a bitter Civil War.

The Free State government and its forces showed no mercy against those who stood firm behind the Republic and many Republican graves across Munster bear testimony to that fact.

On April 10, 1923, Liam Lynch was shot and seriously wounded as he scaled the Knockmealdown mountains with his comrades in an attempt to escape encirclement by over 1,000 Free State soldiers engaged in a countrywide sweep of south Tipperary and Waterford. Captured by the Free Staters, he was taken to Clonmel where he died almost twelve hours later from his wounds.

In accordance with his last dying wish, Liam Lynch was buried beside his friend and comrade, Michael Fitzgerald, who died on hunger strike in Cork gaol in October 1920.

éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith delivered the main oration at Sunday’s commemoration, during which he said:

“Liam Lynch and many like him were born into an Ireland which, just a few decades earlier, had experienced the unprecedented ravages of An Gorta Mór – The Great Hunger. Between 1845 and 1850, approximately 1.5 million Irish men, women and children died of starvation or related diseases. By 1855, almost two million others had fled Ireland to avoid a similar fate.

“It was an Ireland completely under foreign occupation where the nation’s wealth was controlled by a minority landowning aristocracy loyal to Britain; an Ireland where families were evicted from their homes at the point of British bayonets.

“It was also an Ireland where people like O’Donovan Rossa and others in the IRB sought to organise and fight for freedom. It was an Ireland where a widespread popular resistance in the form of the Land League had been organised to effectively oppose the unjust economic system of that time. An Ireland which, by the end of the 19th century, was again attempting to rebuild and reclaim its cultural heritage through organisations such as the GAA and Conradh na Gaeilge.

“People like Liam Lynch saw the injustice caused by the British occupation of their country and by the unjust exploitation of this country’s resources and its people by a small minority and decided to act.”

Liam Lynch

Mac Cionnaith also pointed out that it was important to reflect on the ideals which motivated Liam Lynch and many Republicans like him.

Mac Cionnaith said that Lynch and his comrades had stood fully behind those objectives set out in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of 1919 for national self-determination, for social and economic justice and democracy, of cherishing all the children of the nation equally, of claiming the wealth of Ireland for the people of Ireland.

“Those who fought in 1916, those who fought through the Tan war and who followed the leadership of Liam Lynch in the aftermath of the Treaty and the partition of this country, were men and women of principle; men and women with a vision for a new, equal and free Ireland,” he said.

Alluding to the general strikes, workplace occupations and land seizures which took place across Ireland in the years between 1918 and 1923, Mac Cionnaith continued, “The struggle for independence and national sovereignty also become a revolt of the exploited classes against their domestic oppressors as well. The present-day popular rejection of the Home Tax is, perhaps, an indication that that spirit of revolt still exists but has still to be properly harnessed.

“Today, the total number of unemployed across the 32 counties has reached well over 600,000 people, with thousands of those who are employed facing wage-cuts, and countless families are again struggling to hold on to their homes as the threat of eviction stalks at their doors.

“Thousands of our young people are again being forced abroad as economic migrants.

“Ireland remains partitioned and Britain still remains the occupying power in Six Counties.

“The Ireland of today remains controlled by imperialism, albeit in a new and more subtle form. The livelihoods of Irish people are controlled by external undemocratic capitalist forces which are, in essence, no different to the external undemocratic controlling forces which Liam Lynch and his comrades mobilised against during their life-times.

“The Ireland of today is most certainly not the kind of Ireland which Liam Lynch or any of his comrades had envisaged.”

Liam Lynch, he said, was quite emphatic in his view that those who supported and endorsed the structures of partition had placed themselves firmly in the camp of the counter-revolution.

In reference to the approach of the forthcoming centenary year of the Easter Rising, Mac Cionnaith told his audience that the modern-day forces of counter-revolution will embark upon an unprecedented revisionist propaganda campaign aimed at trying to persuade the public mind that the objectives of 1916 had been successfully secured through partition.

“We must all be prepared to confront and to challenge that revisionist propaganda campaign both north and south.

“We must again educate and inform others, particularly the younger generation, about the true nature of Irish Republicanism; that our struggle is about achieving real political freedom, it is about delivering social justice, it is about economic equality for all. It is about creating a democratic, independent, and sovereign Irish Republic. An Ireland undivided by a British imposed border. An Ireland whose total resources will come under the control of the ordinary working people of this island regardless of gender, religion or race – a truly free Ireland.

“The business of establishing a free, sovereign and independent Irish Republic remains unfinished. The goals and objectives of those who fought, were imprisoned and who were executed remained unfulfilled.

“Settling for anything less than the complete achievement of those Republican objectives was never an option for Liam Lynch who, in his own words, defiantly asserted – ‘We have declared for an Irish Republic and will not live under any other law’.”