Folks will have noticed that not much material has gone up on the bog in recent weeks. This is purely because I have been swamped with work-work. As of next week, this load will lighten and I’ll back into stride with getting stuff up regularly again.
by John McAnulty
Another week, another crisis. The Irish peace process continues to have popular support (or at least widespread public indifference), but its internal contradictions see it constantly spiral out of control. It is clear that Peter Robinson’s threat to resign as First Minister marks a new stage in the decay of the Irish settlement.
As with all political manoeuvres in the North of Ireland, appearance does not match reality. We are told that the current crisis arises from the dismissal of the court case against John Downey on charges relating to the Hyde Park bombing of 20th July 1982, and the disclosure of letters of comfort held by almost 200 “On the Run” (OTR) republicans that assure them that there are no active police investigations involving them. In a small number of cases royal pardons were issued by the British. The relatively secret processes were minor elements of a wider settlement where both loyalist and republican prisoners were released on license after serving two years of their sentence.
The stench of hypocrisy hangs heavily here. “On the Runs” was a very public issue. When it fell off the agenda everyone understood that a private deal had been struck with the British. Tony Blair’s henchman, Jonathan Powell, reported that the DUP accepted the “OTR” settlement as long as it was kept secret and attached to the earlier Trimble leadership. The issue was referred to in the Eames-Bradley public report on resolving issues of the conflict. At least two confidential reports were presented to the police authority and the arrangement was referred to in court cases.
So why a political explosion around an issue that, at least in its broad outlines, was fully understood by all the politicians?
Resolving the past?
The matter is obscured by the insistence of all concerned that the difficulty lies in arriving at a consensus on the past. Once we agree on the past the current divisions will resolve themselves and we will be able to move on. Yet in other conflicts, no matter how bloody, no one has to agree a common view of the conflict. The issue is resolved and history moves on on the basis of that resolution. So the claims that we must resolve the past, at least on the part of unionism, are simply a cover for Read the rest of this entry →
The ICTU Belfast demonstration of January 31st had one major purpose: to return ICTU to the streets after months hiding from the Loyalist mobilizations around the flag and Orange Order demonstrations.
The aim of the bureaucracy was, having re-established themselves as a political voice, to immediately bury themselves again. For that reason the demonstration was called for Friday lunchtime and mainly advertised among the unions themselves. The result was a demonstration of 200, mostly made up of the bureaucrats themselves, with a leavening of committeemen and women.
The modesty of the union’s physical demonstration was more than matched by the modesty of their political programme.
Rather than be so bold as to make any demands, the unions set out a number of issues they had “witnessed”. They did not demand jobs for all, but simply observed “stubbornly high unemployment.”
Some observations were quite forced. Where others had observed Orange sectarian reaction mobilized on the streets, ICTU observed “a rise in community tension.” This stands in line with a long tradition where the unions, rather than oppose sectarianism, balance between the bigots and their victims. Yet again they banned political banners in a desperate bid to avoid giving offense.
Given that level of unstinting capitulation to the sectarian state, the central demand of the unions on the parties at the centre of the sectarian carve-up of society, parties dedicated to Read the rest of this entry →
éirígí press statement:
On Thursday evening (February 6) two éirígí election workers were assaulted by a member of the Garda Special Detective Unit – more commonly known as the ‘Special Branch’. The assaults mark a significant escalation in the ongoing campaign of harassment of éirígí activists by the Dublin government’s political police.
The incident occurred at 20.50 on Claddagh Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin as three éirígí activists finished up delivering local election material to homes in the area. As the trio, Scott Masterson, Daithí O’Riain and Dónall Ó Ceallaigh were walking along Claddagh Road a Red Ford Mondeo, registration number 04 D 1915, approached the footpath at speed before coming to a dramatic halt.
As the vehicle came to a halt the passenger shouted at the three activists through his open window. As the passenger did not identify himself the three activists sensibly continued to walk onwards.The passenger then attempted to exit the Mondeo, again shouting as he did so. It was at this point that the individual first identified himself as a Garda. In his haste to exit the vehicle the as yet unidentified individual tripped and stumbled.
Having recovered his footing the individual then proceeded to firmly grab Scott Masterson by his two biceps and forcibly attempted to push him backwards, an effort which Masterson peacefully resisted.
During this unprovoked assault the individual was continuously shouting and demanding Masterson’s name in a very aggressive manner. When asked by Masterson to produce identification to confirm that he was a Garda, as all plain-clothes Gardai are required to do, the individual said that he would not. Masterson then informed the individual that he would not reveal his name until Read the rest of this entry →
Fergus Whelan is the author of Dissent Into Treason, a book about “the hidden history of the Protestant Dissenters whose Dublin congregations were established by officers of Cromwell’s army and who went on to contribute their republican ideas to the revolutionary movement established in 1791, the United Irishmen.”
4.30pm, Saturday, February 15
Organised by Stoneybatter & Smithfield People’s History Project
Here’s a glorious version by the wonderful Damien Dempsey, played at a tribute to Luke Kelly:
Posted in Culture
On Wednesday (29 January) éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith was contacted by the Irish News to outline the party’s views on the challenges facing modern-day republicanism and on certain recent statements made by prominent former IRA prisoners. A written response was provided to the Irish News that same afternoon. While the Irish News has yet to publish the response supplied by Breandán to that paper, so éirígí have published it on their website. The text of the response to the Irish News request for the party’s view is below:
éirígí is an open, independent, democratic political party.
éirígí is not aligned to, or supportive of, any armed organisation and by extension is not supportive of the armed actions of such organisations. Since its foundation in 2006 éirígí has argued that the conditions simply do not exist for the prosecution of a successful armed struggle.
Over the course of the last eight years éirígí has been repeatedly asked to join the right-wing, reactionary chorus of condemnation of republican armed actions. We have refused to do so because we understand that forty years of the politics of condemnation have achieved nothing. We further understand that engagement and influence are far more useful than sound-bite condemnations.
Instead of pointless condemnation, we have chosen to put forward our critique of modern Ireland and the role that republicans can play in shaping positive change, in the belief that ever greater numbers of people will be won over to that position. We have advanced our critique both in public and in private.
It is clear that there are those republicans who do not agree with éirígí’s analysis of the current objective conditions. It is equally clear that there still are men and women from both sides of the border willing to engage in armed actions. As has been the case in the past, those actions need to be seen in the context of partition and the imposition of a deeply unjust socio-economic order. Armed political actions are a symptom of that disease and not the cause.
Without addressing the root cause of conflict in Ireland, it seems certain that there will be people willing to resist British political interference, partition and injustice through armed means. Simple recognition of that fact does not equate to either condoning or condemning those individuals or their actions.
At the time of éirígí’s establishment, the party asserted that a Democratic Socialist Republic could only be achieved through the establishment of a Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1913 lockout, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Commemorations, Constance Markievicz, Economy and workers' resistance, General revolutionary history, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Republicanism post-1900, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions
2014 marks the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Derry. Join the families in their continuing campaign for truth and justice at the annual Bloody Sunday march. Sunday 2nd February 2014. Assemble at Creggan Shops, Central Drive, Derry, at 2.30pm.