Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Stephen Murney Interview with Mustadafin World Front

Part 1 of an interview éirígí's Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney took part in with Fatima Bidar from Mustadafin World Front, a news website working on human rights and anti-imperialist subjects. They have decided to have interviews with activists around the world and publish them in three languages, English, Persian and Arabic and we are privileged to have been asked to participate. The interview focuses on the struggle in Palestine and the fact many of us in Ireland naturally take to the streets to protest and show solidarity and support to the people of Palestine as we in Ireland are also involved in struggle against occupation and imperialism. Many Irish people have a very real understanding and empathy with the Palestinian struggle simply because Irish people are able to directly relate to the experiences of the Palestinian people. Any population that has the misfortune to find itself under foreign occupation will inevitably stretch out in solidarity and friendship to others in the same situation.

Part one

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* Hello Stephen. Please introduce yourself to us and tell us about your activities.

- My name is Stephen Murney, I live in Newry in occupied Ireland. I’m a political activist with the socialist republican political party, éirígí, and I’m also a former republican prisoner. As a member of éirígí, I’m active across a wide range of issues of concern including campaigning for a British withdrawal from Ireland and exposing the unchanged nature of British imperialism in Ireland.

That includes challenging false premise that the various political agreements since 1998 have somehow resolved the main issues which have caused repeated cycles of conflict and oppression in our country over successive generations.

It should be remembered that those agreements were very carefully crafted by Britain and US administration. While they created an illusion of change, the reality is that did not address or resolve the core political, social or economic issues that lay at the heart of conflict in Ireland.

In both partition states in Ireland today, the two administrations are implementing anti-working class austerity measures, both have access to a wide range of repressive legislation. In the North of Ireland in particular, we still have heavily armed police that can call upon the British military for support and assistance, and Britain’s secret intelligence service, MI5, with several hundred personnel in the North, still operates with impunity.

Campaigns that I’m directly involved in include opposing the anti-working class programmes of the Stormont Coalition parties and raising awareness in relation to the conditions Republican prisoners have to endure. Along with other party members, I’m also active on international issues such as the situation in Palestine and party comrades are intensely involved in the mass protests and popular mobilisations opposing the introduction of water-taxes in southern part of Ireland. There the government is attempting to tax people for using water in their own homes.

* Why is Palestine important for you as a social activist?

- Given our own history in Ireland – the historical and ongoing experience of having been forcibly occupied by Britain as a foreign power, of having gone through the devastating impact which imperialism and colonialism wreaks upon subject nations and people, of experiencing the very political, social and economic injustices that occupation creates – many Irish people have a very real understanding and empathy with the Palestinian struggle simply because Irish people are able to directly relate to the experiences of the Palestinian people.

Any population that has the misfortune to find itself under foreign occupation will inevitably stretch out in solidarity and friendship to others in the same situation.

As a small example, here in Ireland we have a system of detention used by the Northern state which we call “Internment by Remand”. That system ensures many Republicans are held in prison for lengthy periods without ever being found guilty of any offence. I have been a victim of that system.

Palestinians suffer under “Administrative Detention” which ensures they can be held in Israeli prisons for years without trial. I and many other Irish Republicans and our families can relate to that.

* Why do we still witness America and England's support for Israel and the UN silence, while everybody is talking about human rights and freedom?

- America and Britain see the Israeli state as an outpost, one whose interests they will protect at all costs.

Let’s not forget that both the USA and Britain helped established the modern Israeli state, have armed it, financed it, and have helped Israel develop an offensive nuclear capability.

Israel has often been described as the USA’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the Middle East. That demonstrates the important strategic interests - political, economic and military – which the US in particular attaches to Israel.

* Western mainstream media has been hiding the truth about Palestine and hides the murders of Israel in Palestine. Do you think it is possible to confront with the mainstream media? If yes, how?

Its important to remember that the western mainstream media is very much controlled by capitalist forces whose interests are tied directly to the interests of US, British and other western governments. It is therefore not beneficial for them to expose the brutal and unjust nature of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. In that respect, it is extremely difficult to break through the barrier of that media’s self-imposed censorship.

However, through the development and use of social media, it has become possible to widely disseminate the truth of what is happening in Palestine to a far wider audience than would have been the case twenty or thirty years ago.

Indeed, as was seen during the recent armed assault upon Gaza, the use of social media by Palestinian people and by their activists, by the support and solidarity networks which have developed in many countries meant that it was possible to present real time updates of what was happening almost instantly.

Part 2 of the interview will be published next week

Monday, 24 November 2014

Murney urges community vigilance following upsurge in Newry break-ins

Following a recent spate of break-ins in the Newry area, éirígí’s Newry spokesperson has urged local communities to be vigilant and to take precautions to keep their homes safe from intruders.

Several homes were targeted recently in the O’Neills Avenue and Barley Mews areas which prompted a number of residents to contact the socialist republican party.

Commenting on the incidents éirígí’s Stephen Murney said “The fact that there have been several homes broken into in a very short space of time in the same general area is a worrying development. To be targeted in such an intrusive manner can obviously be very distressing for any family. 

“Unfortunately in today’s society there will always be those who will resort to criminality to satisfy their own selfish needs. It’s clear that the PSNI and the British judicial system are failing working class communities. However there are measures local people can take to help prevent their homes from being targeted”.

“It’s time local communities started to look at alternative community based projects which could help stem this, and other types of anti-social activity. In the past, in other areas of Newry, éirígí activists have been heavily involved in organising community empowerment initiatives which, in a positive way, helped to at least thwart and prevent similar anti-social elements.

The party representative concluded “Particularly at this time of year we would urge local residents to be vigilant and to pay particular attention to neighbours who may be more vulnerable to thieves, such as the elderly and those who live alone. A good deterrent to criminals is of course a strong community spirit and local residents working with each other to ensure their homes and valuables are safe and secure. Organising community based initiatives is one way of combating this unwanted activity”.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

éirígí Newry slam glorification of British Forces of Occupation

The socialist republican party éirígí has criticised a number of supermarkets in Newry after the erection of stalls to promote the Royal British Legion’s “Poppy Appeal”.
The collection stalls were erected in at least two large stores, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, and this has prompted members of the public to contact the party to voice their concerns and opposition.
Commenting on the offensive pro-imperialist stalls, éirígí's Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said “It is often falsely portrayed that the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal is simply for remembrance purposes, yet nothing could be further from the truth.
“In fact according to the Royal British Legion, the appeal supports not only former British soldiers but also serving members of the British Armed Forces. This includes the occupation forces currently garrisoned here in Ireland, those who colluded with loyalist death squads and those who have murdered countless Irish citizens including here in Newry. Not only that but it also includes British soldiers who were involved in murderous exploits in Iraq and Afghanistan in more recent times.

"Even in Britain itself, there is increased criticism of the poppy campaign which many people now view as having less to do with memorialism and more to do with support for specific British military campaigns and jingoistic enthusiasm for British involvement in war generally."
Murney continued by saying “It was only a few weeks ago our activists were among those who protested at Sainsbury’s in opposition to that stores complicity in funding Israeli genocide, murder and terrorism and now they, along with Tesco, add further insult to injury by helping to support British imperialism.
"Those  who permitted these stalls on their premises would do well to spare a thought for the victims of the Britain's war machine in Ireland and elsewhere”.

The Newry representative concluded “We are formally writing to the managers of both stores to voice our opposition to the promotion of the British Armed Forces and we will be demanding that in future they refrain from promoting such offensive displays.  It will be interesting to see their justification for permitting these displays."

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

SINN FÉIN – THE ILLUSION OF RADICALISM DISAPPEARS

SINN FÉIN – THE ILLUSION OF RADICALISM DISAPPEARS


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In the past éirígí has generally avoided singling out individual parties among the Stormont Coalition for criticism – choosing instead to address the collective actions and responsibility of ALL members of that Coalition in implementing Westminster’s austerity programme.
However, following the publication of the draft Stormont budget (largely agreed by Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party) it would be simply wrong not to highlight Sinn Féin’s abject failure to protect the interests of the most vulnerable in our society and indeed the interests of the working class generally.
The DUP has never claimed to be a radical or left-wing party. Sinn Féin, on the other hand, consistently presents itself as both radical and left-wing.
Far from being a radical all-Ireland party with radical all-Ireland policies, reality demonstrates Sinn Féin to be a partitionist party implementing conservative and reactionary policies.
That party’s endorsement of the Stormont budget proves the point beyond any doubt.  As Sinn Féin leaders in the Twenty-Six County state present their party as a bulwark against austerity, their leaders in the Six Counties are actually implementing austerity.  It is a party which selfishly seeks to sit in power for power’s sake, and not for the sake of making positive, meaningful change to the lives of the people which it claims to represent.
In the 26 Counties, Sinn Féin has made opposition to austerity their major campaign platform, promising to protect the vulnerable and the interests of Ireland, rather than accepting the demands of the Troika.
In the 26 Counties, Sinn Féin’s recent electoral growth was largely based on its apparent opposition to the Dublin government’s programme of austerity, including the slashing of public spending and public services, the raising of new and existing taxes and the targeting penalising of ordinary workers and the less well-off.
In the 26 Counties, Sinn Féin have been the most vocal critics of the Irish Labour Party whom they accused of selling-out the working class by implementing budget cuts designed and imposed by the Troika.
In the 6 Counties, well…. that’s where we see a totally different Sinn Féin, a party that too often accedes to demands of the British political establishment.
In the 6 Counties, Sinn Féin is a party that refuses to defend public services, that agrees to cuts to public services and embraces the privatisation of public services, a party whose ministers have closed dozens of schools.
In the 6 Counties, Sinn Féin is a party that sells out the working class by agreeing to and implementing hundreds of millions of pounds of budget cuts at the behest of the Tory Party in Westminster.
Sinn Féin in power in the Six Counties has much more in common with the Irish Labour Party in power in the Twenty-Six Counties than either would prefer to admit.
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Joan Burton, Irish Labour Party, “we have little choice but to observe the conditions of the troika.” –  Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin, says cuts are, “Best deal possible”
Perhaps, they should both merge as one party and abandon their pretext of protecting working class interests, of being radical and of being left-wing.

Vols Patricia Black & Frankie Ryan MFB re-launched

Last night (01/11) was the occasion for the Volunteers Patricia Black and Frankie Ryan Memorial Flute Band to re-launch at a function in the Parkhead area of Glasgow.
Since their formation to the present day the band have been staunch supporters of éirígí.
The crowd in attendance were able to hear Angela Nelson, Chairperson of the Justice for the Craigavon 2 campaign speak in relation to the continued imprisonment of Brendan McConville and JP Wootton. After giving a detailed overview of the facts of this blatant injustice, Angela urged those listening to do all they can to highlight the case.



Next to speak was Stephen Murney, éirígí representative for Newry. Stephen spoke of the Craigavon 2 and the friendship he made with the two Republicans while also unjustly imprisoned in Maghaberry Gaol. He proceeded to inform the crowd of his own experience in the conditions faced by Republican Political Prisoners in the gaol and the daily challenges they face in resisting the criminalisation policy the prison regime attempt to enforce upon them.



Stephen then spoke of éirígí and the role of those assembled in bringing change to our respective communities and to the wider world. He was clear to place emphasis on activism of many kinds. Whether it be through outlets like Republican bands, international solidarity groups, community groups, youth clubs among others. The emphasis, he said, must be on everyone being active in their own communities and promoting the revolutionary change needed to our societies.
Stephen finished by thanking the band for their continued support and discipline in the previous four years.
The band then took to the floor for a rousing performance before the night ended with a local folk band taking to the stage.
Congratulations to the band on a successful re-launch.




STORMONT’S BUDGET – AN ATTACK ON ALL OF US

Stormont
It was quite apt that the two main Stormont parties chose the run-up to Halloween to announce agreement on their draft budget which will see several hundred million pounds being slashed from public service spending across the Six Counties.
In recent times, members of at least one Stormont party opted to don the false face of hypocrisy in order to engage in street campaigns claiming to oppose such cuts in the full knowledge that such actions were mere acts of street theatre completely devoid of any real substance. ‘Ruling by fooling’ is one description that comes to mind.
But the false faces have now been removed. For the main Stormont parties, completely defending the existence of Stormont now takes precedent over defending public services or defending working class communities and the vulnerable in our society.
Since September 2010, when we originally launched our party’s Stormont Isn’t Working campaign, éirígí has consistently stated that Stormont’s economic agenda is designed in Britain and has been and will be implemented without question or dissent by local politicians.
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We make no apology for correctly forecasting that British Tory government instructions to institute widespread cuts across all public sector services would be dutifully implemented by Stormont through ‘modernisation agendas’, ‘health service streamlining’,  ‘reform initiatives, and ‘private investment incentives’.
Of course, we were accused of scare-mongering when we said that the reality for people in the Six Counties would be a massive, negative impact on housing, employment, health and social services, with continued community disintegration and housing shortages, reduced services for the ill and vulnerable, and further financial pay offs to companies through the privatisation of public services with rock-bottom wages.
Stormont’s latest draft budget, like those before, completely vindicates our position.
For the sake of our communities, we would have like to have been proved wrong.
But now is the time to fight-back, to join with trade unions, communities and with the more progressive elements within our society and say: enough is enough!
We are now facing into the most critical time for public services in the Six Counties since the era of Margaret Thatcher.
Plans are being implemented to shed thousands more jobs in the public sector. That will mean less services for you, increased waiting lists for health care, less support for the ill and the elderly, for families, for young people. Front-line services in health and social care and in education are already being cut across all six counties. And all this will grow even worse over the next five years.
Working class communities and those workers organised in trade unions must unite in opposing the joint agenda of the British government and its Stormont lackeys.
A new political, economic and social order is required right across Ireland to bring radical, meaningful and effective improvement to the lives of working class people.
Stormont is a clear impediment to that. Now is the time to reject the Stormont parties, reject their hypocrisy and build a radical political alternative.

STOP STORMONT CUTS!

The Stormont Coalition
The Political Parties of the Stormont Coalition will ramp up their PR machines over the next few weeks using catchy slogans and sound-bites aplenty. Government ministers and party representatives will harp on about “being brave” and “making difficult decisions” for the people of the Six Counties. Stormont government sources are suggesting that the impending cuts could run as deep as £700m – £850m.
And we’ve seen it all before. In December 2010 the two main Coalition partners, the DUP and SINN FEIN, along with ALLIANCE, agreed to and voted for these cuts with the aim of ‘absorbing’ £4 BILLION of ‘spending cuts’ – at the time, one Stormont Coalition Minister commented, “It will be a good Christmas present for the people of Northern Ireland(sic).”
Stormont
Stormont’s 2010 Christmas present means:
  • An estimated 130,000 people are seeking work – a figure Stormont won’t acknowledge
  • One in every four young people aged 18-24 are without a job
  • 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line – where families struggle to pay for basic necessities such as food, heating and clothing. *Astonishingly, this figure increases to more than 2 in 5 in West Belfast and in some areas of Derry as high as 63%*
  • 21% of pensioners live in poverty
  • 34,776 households on waiting lists
  • The new Welfare Reform Bill will hit the less well-off
If the Stormont coalition won’t acknowledge that there are 130,000 people in the Six Counties who want and who need work, how can that coalition ever get to grips with the economic crisis or all the social problems which flow from that?
And Stormont’s cuts agenda already impacts upon everyone.
  • In Health, up to 5,000 jobs, including many front-line workers, face the axe by 2015
  • 1,500 posts earmarked to go in the next year
  • The number of hospital beds is being reduced
  • 50% of residential care homes for the elderly to close
  • In education, schools in each of the Six Counties are facing threat of closure
  • Individual school budgets cut-back
  • Many young, newly qualified teachers cannot get permanent jobs
  • Far reaching changes to Welfare Benefits will hit the vulnerable, the ill and the poor
  • Housing Benefit will be cut and a ‘bedroom tax’ introduced
  • Community and voluntary sector groups are under-resourced and under-funded
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First Minister Peter Robinson, DUP & Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin
Party representatives from the Stormont coalition would have you believe that they are not responsible for the misery sowed upon the people in this part of Ireland. Some of them would even tell you that the same Stormont government that implements the very cuts to your public services is not responsible for some of the highest child poverty rates in Western Europe.
Not content with the high child poverty rates or high youth unemployment, those snake-tongued politicians with their double-speak, media jargon and fancy PR campaigns are now going to attempt to swindle you out of a few hundred million more – and hand it, by way of a few fancy cash transactions, straight into the pockets of the European banks.
Party representatives from each of the government coalition partners will meet over the next few days, sit in a room together and cut the budgets of the government departments that handle Housing, Education & Welfare by as much as 20%. Our Health Service, already ravaged by cuts to beds and under-staffing, may not escape the turmoil.
Then those same politicians, after a few hours of deliberation and a few cups of tea, will stand in front of the assembled media and tell you that what they just did – they didn’t do – that it was someone else.
But you’ll know exactly who it was – and don’t you forget it.
IGNORE THE LIES from the Stormont Coalition Parties – These are not ‘Tory Cuts’ – They are Stormont Cuts!