Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Members of the PSNI in Newry have made a direct threat to kill a member of éirígí in the Newry area.
The threat was made on Friday evening [October 26] when éirígí's Newry spokesman Stephen Murney was stopped and searched by members of the PSNI just minutes after he left a community event in the town. The well attended event was being held to promote suicide awareness and prevention.
During the stop and search in Monaghan Street, one member of the armed PSNI unit menacingly told Murney, “I’ll put a bullet in your f***ing head.”
Commenting on the incident, Murney said, “I was stopped and searched by the PSNI in Monaghan Street shortly after leaving the suicide awareness event. It was during that search that a member of the PSNI said he would put a bullet in my head.
“Given the history of collusion between the Six-County police force and loyalist death squads, I am taking the threat seriously. In the past, similar threats were made to people and, in many cases, those threats were later carried out by state forces acting in conjunction with their loyalist proxies.
“While the threat is a worrying development it certainly won’t be deterring me from my political activities. I will be recording the details of this threat with my legal representatives and with the human rights group CAJ.”
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “Such behaviour by the PSNI is totally unacceptable, although it is far from surprising. The PSNI has inherited the old bully-boy tactics of the RUC. Indeed, half of the current manpower of the PSNI who patrol the streets of the Six Counties were themselves members of the RUC. It is little wonder that they feel that they can act with impunity.
“Constitutional nationalist parties have created a smokescreen of cover for the PSNI to engage in widespread harassment and human rights abuses. Contrary to what those parties state, incidents such as these confirm the reality that the PSNI is merely the old RUC dressed up in new uniforms with a new name.”
Saturday, 27 October 2012
éirígí in Newry have expressed their concern after it was revealed that benefits appeal hearings are to be moved, and will now be held in Newry Court House rather than Ballybot House.
Ballybot House is a widely used, purpose built, multi-purpose community resource centre located in the city’s Cornmarket area. A number of local people and community groups contacted the party after hearing of the move.
Commenting on the development éirígí’s Newry representative Stephen Murney said, “It can be a daunting enough experience to appear in front of a benefit appeals panel but this decision to relocate to a heavily fortified Court House will do nothing but cause additional stress and worry to many of those working class people who will be affected by this decision. The people who contacted éirígí are quite rightly concerned about the negative impact this move will have on ordinary citizens, the vast majority of whom have never entered a Court House in their lives.
“Entering a Court House is not a pleasant experience and indeed this move could be seen as a very carefully designed plan to try and deter people from appealing draconian decisions regarding their benefits. Indeed, this is very clearly a not so subtle attempt to portray those struggling to maintain their welfare entitlements as criminals.
“Those in positions of power seem to be hell-bent on using scare tactics against those who are being directly affected by the Tory/Stormont cuts. The Stormont poverty enforcers are threatening to strip people of their benefits if they refuse to do unpaid labour through the Workfare scheme and now benefits appeal hearings will be held within a fortified British Court House.”
Murney concluded, “Not only is the Stormont administration willingly implementing Tory cuts on behalf of the British government in Westminster, but now they are using heavily fortified courts as part of their anti-social programme. The extent that those responsible for this mess will go to seems to know no bounds. It appears that they will try everything and anything to prevent the sick, the disabled and the unemployed from accessing their rightful entitlements.”
Friday, 19 October 2012
These normalisation initiatives focused on both the British army and the British police, the PSNI.
These included a publicity stunt held in the Quays shopping centre on Saturday [October 13] in which the PSNI were put in the same light as genuine emergency services such as the fire, rescue and ambulance service.
This particular event was advertised as a ‘fun day for all the family’. For many families across Newry, their experiences of the PSNI have been far from fun. Countless citizens of Newry have endured house raids, and stop and searches at the hands of the PSNI.
Voicing the party’s anger, éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said, “Saturday’s event clearly tried to portray the PSNI as a “normal” emergency service when in fact they nothing of the sort.
“In recent weeks advertisements for the British army have appeared in Newry city centre as well.”
Stephen continued, “The British army’s record in Ireland consists of murder and brutality. These tactics have also been adapted in their recent imperialist exploits in other countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Local people contacted our party and told us of their disgust that these recruitment advertisements were displayed in various parts of Newry.
“Indeed, to add further insult, one such advertisement, which depicted an armed British soldier, was displayed in Hill Street, just a few yards from the spot where three unarmed local men, Sean Ruddy (28), James McLaughlin (26) and Robert Anderson (26) were murdered in 1971 by British soldiers who shot them in cold blood.”
Murney added, “However the British army’s role in Ireland is not consigned to the past, it is very much part of the present day. British troops remain garrisoned in the Six Counties and the sinister Special Reconnaissance Regiment is on active operations here. Undercover British soldiers are currently involved in covert surveillance operations right across the North.
“éirígí will resist all attempts to normalise the presence of British forces – irrespective of whether they are British troops or British police.”
Despite persistent rain, members of éirígí held a successful picket today outside the front entrance of the Canal Court Hotel in Newry where a business lunch was being held, attended by the British shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ed Balls. Those attending the lunch included ministers from all of the Stormont parties.
The protest was part of the party’s Stormont Isn’t Working campaign and was held to highlight the fact that Stormont’s failed economic agenda is designed in Britain and implemented by local politicians.
éirígí members also handed out leaflets to shoppers and other passers-by, many of whom expressed their support for the protest.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith, who was present on the Newry picket-line, said, “The social and economic fabric of the Six-County state is in complete disarray and the Stormont assembly is unable to provide any meaningful or effective solutions.
“The previous economic recession of the Thatcher era during the 1980s saw unemployment in the 6 counties reach a peak of 123,500 by October 1986.
“In the intervening years, various British governments introduced no less than 13 separate measures to massage and hide the true levels of unemployment. Those measures are still being used by the Stormont coalition today to hide the extent of mass unemployment within our communities.
“Stormont’s ‘official’ statistics are heavily massaged to minimize the number of unemployed persons downwards. Those massaged figures put the number of unemployed at 71,000.
“Stormont is deliberately concealing the fact that there are another 60,000 men, women and young people who need and want work, but who are excluded from the ‘official’ count.
“Today, in the Six Counties, the scandalous reality is that there are an estimated 130,000 people seeking work.
“Almost one in four young people aged 18 to 24 are unemployed as a result of Stormont’s economic ineptitude.
“One senior economist has described the method used by Stormont for measuring unemployment as
‘unreliable’ and ‘not well regarded in the economics world’.
“Over 11,000 people recently applied for the 450 full- and part-time jobs due to be created by a large international supermarket chain in Portadown. That demonstrates just how critical the demand for employment has become.”
Mac Cionnaith continued, “In addition to unemployment, child poverty levels are also growing unabated under Stormont and the welfare reform bill will mean that the less well-off in our society will again be the hardest hit. Yet, Stormont politicians are united in a campaign to secure further tax-breaks for large businesses and multi-national companies which already make vast profits.
“It’s clear that Stormont is simply not working for ordinary people and that is the message which our party activists will be driving home over the coming weeks and months.”
Local éirígí member Stephen Murney also criticised the PSNI for attempting to harass party members participating in the picket.
He said, “The PSNI attempted to take the names and other details of party members immediately the protest commenced. Our members quite rightly refused as the PSNI could not even state the legislation under which they were seeking that information. Even when it was pointed out to the PSNI that there were no legal grounds for anyone to provide them with such details, the PSNI continued to persist in their harassment.
“It was only after one of our members phoned a solicitor and then offered the phone to the lead PSNI officer for the solicitor to inform that officer of the limitations of their powers that the PSNI backed off.
At one stage, the PSNI also demanded to see the credentials of a press photographer who was covering the events both inside and outside the hotel.
“The PSNI actions once again demonstrated that political policing is still very much a reality.”
Over the course of the last month tens of thousands of third level students have started the new academic year in colleges and universities across Ireland. It is an unfortunate fact that the post-education prospects for these students are as bleak as those that have faced any generation in recent decades. For too many their educational efforts will be rewarded with a choice between emigration and the dole queue.
But long before today’s students complete their courses they are dealing with the reality of post ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland. In both the Six and Twenty-Six Counties the ruling administrations are launching sustained attacks upon the very notion of universal education. From Cork to Belfast and Dublin to Galway students are struggling with the double blow of increasing tuition fees and decreasing student grants. If current trends are allowed to continue it is clear that third level education will once again become the exclusive preserve of the privileged and the rich.
Faced with such an appalling prospect the response of a significant section of the student body has been heartening. Through organisation like Free Education for Everyone (FEE) students across Ireland have set about organising resistance to the right-wing agenda emanating from Stormont and Leinster House. Protests and direct actions have become relatively commonplace on campuses where student militancy has been lacking for far too long.
Congratulating those students who are actively fighting for a free education system, Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said, “The right to free education is something that was hard fought for by previous generations, not only here in Ireland but across Europe and the world. While the current system is far from perfect it is light years ahead of the type of system that the right-wing want to create. In fighting for a free education system, students are not just acting in their own self-interest; they are acting in the interests of the generations that are coming behind them. For that they are to be commended.
“The issue of educational rights must, of course, be seen in the context of the wider fight for national, social and economic rights. The fight for one set of rights cannot be separated from the fight for another set of rights. Those political forces that want to make students bear the full cost of their education are the same forces that want to privatise our health service, sell off our state assets, give away our natural resources, decimate social welfare and bring about an end to social housing. Those students that are fighting against fees today are the workers that will be fighting for decent housing and healthcare tomorrow.”
Leeson concluded by inviting students to join éirígí in the fight for a new Ireland, “éirígí’s analysis is quite simple – the only way to secure long-term educational, housing, health, national, social and economic rights is through an overall change of system; replacing the current one, which is based upon human competition, with one that is based upon human co-operation. We believe that a Thirty-Two County Irish Socialist Republic is the only political and economic model that is capable of delivering a just and equitable society.
“We are asking students across the country to come on board with éirígí, to join the fight for not just educational rights, but also for a free, independent and socialist Ireland. We recognise the potential strength of an organised student body; a militant movement of young women and young men that will not allow the state to set a limit on their futures. And we are committed to turning that potential into a reality, but for that to happen we need individual students to come forward, to join the resistance and encourage their friends to do likewise.”
If you are currently in third level education anywhere in Ireland and interested in joining, or working with, éirígí please click here. You can use the ‘Message’ box to let us know what college or university you are in and what activities you are up for. Such activities might include distributing leaflets, putting up stickers and posters, organising meetings, establishing societies, taking part in protests and direct actions, etc. Make the decision today. Join the resistance. Join éirígí.
Across the Six Counties, the statistics also show that young people are particularly hard hit by unemployment with 29.6 percent of all claimants aged 25 or under. By way of context, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in April 1998, the youth unemployment rate was 9.6 percent.
Commenting on the figures Stephen Murney, the local spokesperson for the socialist republican party in the Newry area, said, “When you look at the statistics released in January and compare them to the recently released figures you will see that in almost every electoral ward in the Newry and Mourne area, there has been an increase in unemployment . The Ballybot ward, as was also the case in January, still has the highest level of unemployment in Newry city with 12 percent claiming unemployment.”
Three electoral areas in Newry are listed as having levels of unemployment which are higher than the overall Six-County average. They are the Ballybot ward (12 percent), Daisy Hill ward (9.3 percent) and St Mary’s ward (8.6 percent).
Stephen continued, “The onslaught being waged against the working class by Westminster and their willing partners in Stormont shows no sign of abating. In July, the Stormont administration voted to introduce the Tories’ workfare programme. This programme amounts to slave labour were people have to work to receive their benefits. People are being threatened that they will be stripped of their benefits if they refuse to do unpaid labour through these schemes.
“Those fortunate enough to have a job may find that their hours and overtime are slashed as their employers take advantage of those forced into the Tory/Stormont Workfare programme.
“With 129,000 people now seeking work in the Six Counties it’s clear that Stormont isn’t working and that a new system is needed, a system that will have the interests of the working class at its heart rather than the current one which adopts a right-wing Tory agenda. éirígí is determined to help play a part in creating such a system.”