Monthly Archives: July 2013

The fate of Newbridge Credit Union: a volunteer director speaks

I’m putting this up for information purposes, as the blog ran material earlier about events at Newbridge Credit Union

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Breda Reid (r) with one of the credit union's 2012 Education Bursary winners, Rebecca Murphy; picture by Leinster Leader

Breda Reid (r) with one of the credit union’s 2012 Education Bursary winners, Rebecca Murphy; picture by Leinster Leader

Knowledge is power they say and the members of Newbridge Credit Union have been kept in the dark for too long. It contains all the info I can give at this time, you will see what I mean when  you read it. Please forward to your family and friends who may be interested and ask them todo likewise. If we can get it to go viral we may get some response. We can but hope.
Breda Reid


Well at last it is out in the open. The Sunday Business Post reported yesterday that the final dismantling of Newbridge Credit Union will take place within the next few months. Strange isn’t it that a Sunday newspaper is the vehicle chosen to inform volunteers, staff and members of our Credit Union’s fate. Although, perhaps it is not so strange as the Central Bank and Dept of Finance have preferred this method of communication from the beginning of this particular fiasco.  In the 24 hours before the appointment of the Special Manager on January 13th last year the Dept of Finance leaked like a sieve with information that had local media buzzing before we even knew the order had been approved by the judge.

Since Wednesday 11th of January 2012 the Board of Directors have been silenced by a gagging order which threatens them with a personal fine of €100,000 and/or three years in jail if they breathed a word of what was going on in their credit union.

Their right to defend themselves was removed by judicial decree and they have been subjected to unrelenting negative Read the rest of this entry

1997 Liam Walsh commemoration

img_1826The same day as the 1997 commemoration for Máirín Keegan (see here), a commemoration took place for Liam Walsh, also of Saor Eire, who died in a premature explosion while on active service in October 1970.  Máirín, who was taking part in the action, was uninjured – she died of cancer several years later – while another participant in the action, Martin Casey, was injured.

Liam had originally been in the IRA in the 1950s, including having been commander of the South Dublin unit in the late 1950s.  He was one of a layer of Dublin Volunteers who was attracted to revolutionary socialism in the early 1960s and joined with a small layer of Trotskyists such as Máirín to found and develop Saor Eire, an armed Marxist/republican group.

Liam’s funeral was attended by 3,000 people.  There’s a bio of him, with some great photos, here.

Below is a link to a short video of the 1997 commemoration.

Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of an oration about him.

The 1997 commemoration involved just a handful of people, an indication of how Saor Eire had been forgotten in the period between when they dissolved in the mid-1970s and 1997.  It’s good to give this courageous group of socialist-republicans their due.

Those still alive have also maintained their principles.  Their socialist-republicanism has been vindicated by what happened to both the Sticks (whose rejection of republicanism led to a rejection of socialism) and the Provos (whose rejection of socialism led to a rejection of republicanism).

It has also been vindicated by the way that the currents that have come out of the Provos since the end of the 1990s have all adopted formal positions for socialism.


Songs of Freedom Tour

Songs of Freedom0020

Statement by Maghaberry POWs

Statement on Controlled Movement from Roe 4 Republican POWs

Recently Republican prisoners in Maghaberry have been subjected to an intensely restrictive regime which has resulted in intense controlled movement whereby only one prisoner accompanied by three screws is allowed out on the landing at any time.

This has virtually ground the regime to a halt and Republican prisoners are facing long delays in every aspect of their routine.

Cells are not opened to as late as 11 am, access to the phone is restricted as is access to the yard and canteen.

Governors in Maghaberry have tried to explain that this restrictive regime is a result of action being taken by the POA (Prison officers Association) over a dispute around overtime. They have been told by Roe 4 prisoners that this is not acceptable and have been reminded that even before this action by the POA the phasing in of less restrictive controlled movement under the terms of the August Agreement had not been adhered to and in fact the Republican prisoners are now under a more restrictive regime than they were prior to them taking protest action.

Roe 4 Republican prisoners and their support groups on the outside demand an end to this latest abuse of Republican Prisoners and call once again for the implementation of the August Agreement.


Resuming transmission. . . again. . .

indexWhile I’d intended to get back into the swing of things at the start of July, after a nice little holiday break involving a couple of Seth Lakeman gigs in the west country, a brief idyll in Cornwall, a visit to Cork, a garda raid in Wicklow, and chilling out in London and Belfast, I managed to pick up a very bad case of the flu in London at the start of July.

The flu made me very lethargic and so I’ve not been able to get much done for this blog, or much else.  It finally seems to be going, the hearing in my left ear has returned, and I’m feeling a bit more energetic.  I’m massively behind in stuff that I wanted to write, but am now able to start getting back into it.  So my plan is that the blog will start to come back to life over the next two-three weeks.

I’m also still looking for more contributors.  Keep in mind that this isn’t an ‘open’ blog; it’s a specifically socialist-republican blog, so I’m looking for socialist-republican/class-struggle/Marxist analysis of Irish history, politics, society and economy, as well as more newsy articles and features.  Book, film and music reviews are also very welcome.

Statement from Galway Pro-Choice on the abortion legislation

index21 years since the X Case Ruling, the Irish Government has finally introduced legislation to provide for life-saving terminations. However, instead of protecting women, it has made the route to their constitutional right to be so arduous that it effectively encourages them to continue to travel abroad even when legally entitled to a termination in this country.

For the first time in Irish law, this Act defines ‘unborn human life’ which was given an equal right to life to that of the woman, as a fertilised ovum from the moment of implantation. Consequently this bill does not offer the right to choose a termination to women in Ireland who are pregnant with a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality. It makes no provision for abortion in cases of rape or incest, during an inevitable miscarriage while there is still a foetal heartbeat, nor indeed does it serve the needs of women whose health is at risk if a pregnancy is continued.

Orlaith Reidy of Galway Pro-Choice stated:

Forcing women who are suicidal to face panels of between 3 to 7 medical professionals is such an ordeal in itself that women entitled to a legal abortion here will continue to travel abroad, rendering the legislation ineffective. There is also no provision to ensure those against terminations in all circumstances cannot sit on these decision making panels raising the possibility of a woman not being granted a termination regardless of her case including if there is a genuine risk to her life.

Savita Halappanavar died in Galway University Hospital after being denied a termination of an inevitable miscarriage. The inquest into her death found that Read the rest of this entry

UNITE and organising against Croke Park III

imagesby James Fearon

Rank-and-file Unite union members have expressed angry opposition to the Croke Park III agreement (called Haddington Road to protect the guilty.) The recent Belfast Conference saw the Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, using language that echoes James Connolly’s ’Old Wine in New Bottles’, say that workers would not be deceived by a deal that was the contents of the ‘Croke Park bottle’.

The radicalism did not last long. No sooner than we have been marched up the hill than the leadership are instructing us to turn around and march back down again. It should come as no surprise; we have been at this point of departure before when Unite rejected Croke Park I. Jimmy made exactly the same noises then but later went in to avoid being ‘victimised’. 

Only the incurably naïve could suggest that we take the bureaucracy’s rhetoric at face value. Radical speeches are followed by a climb down, in this case by means of a re-ballot with a recommendation to ‘accept’ coming from the leadership. 

For years the trade union leadership have hidden their betrayals behind the low level of industrial struggle and the concomitant low level of self confidence among workers. Promises of success at the negotiating table were always linked to reminders of unsuccessful attempts at industrial action. No mention is made of course that the lack of success was as often as not due to the Read the rest of this entry

The Rossville Street (Derry) Bloody Sunday murals

by Irvine Forgan

‘…illusion only is sacred, truth profane’ – Feuerbach: The Essence of Christianity.

A mural on the gable end of a housing estate in Rossville Street in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry depicts events that occurred on Bloody Sunday when the British army opened fire on civil rights protestors and killed fourteen people. [1] The protest occurred in January 1972 when the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association organized a march in Derry against internment. This setting is explained in the mural with an image that shows a sizeable crowd of protestors and a megaphone placed below a banner containing the writing – Civil Rights Association. The mural which has its own cultural specificities provides a contrast between coerced somatic control and democratic politics. This contrast emerges from its dramatic imagery which is largely based on a photograph taken during the march. A group of men, led by a local catholic priest (later to become Bishop Daly) who is waving a white handkerchief, is seen carrying the body of Jack (Jackie) Duddy from the scene of the shooting. The photograph shows blood on Jack Duddy and on the handkerchief. Notably, the mural does not – an indication that emphasis is placed on grievance and democratic rights and not on the body. The intrusion of violence on this exercise of democratic rights is underscored by a banner that during the attack became bloodstained when used to cover the body of one of those killed and which is represented in the mural not as one might expect on the body of a protestor, but with a masked and armed British soldier standing on the blood spattered writing: Civil Rights.

The street is a site of spiritual and cultural significance famous as the focus of resistance to British presence in the six counties. The artists describe the murals as follows: “This is real art done by the people and for the people. That’s what makes it authentic. That’s what gives it meaning in a world where meaning has all but been destroyed by ambition and the greed for money. It honours our past. Our work commemorates the real price paid by a naive and innocent people for simple democratic rights.”[2]  This characterisation which assigns to the mural an authority pitted against the marginalization caused by the victorious ideology of economic growth does not alone however enable the mural to resonate with the Peircean notion of the iconic mode as a sign which bears the closest possible resemblance to what it stands for (as the artists put it – ‘This is real art done by the people and for the people. That’s what makes it authentic . . . it commemorates the real price paid by a naive and innocent people . . .’). Since Foucaultian theory which sees power manifesting through discourse as intrinsic to the ideological structuration of a society—whereby meaning is produced and mediated through the dynamics of this force, and notions of Debord whose spectacle ‘…depicts what society could deliver, but in so doing it rigidly separates what is possible from what is permitted’ (Debord, 2009: p.  25), the uniformity of the iconic mode is susceptible to questions of practice and power.

This means that the meaning of a text, the meaning arising out of discourse, the meaning that emerges from any medium, is always mediated and constructed—it is never transparent but is driven by an underlying ideology. However, the implication for the Bloody Sunday mural is that its highly evocative signifier does not draw our attention to its mediation; embedded in convention it seems to present reality more directly than symbolic signs. Daniel Chandler has noted that a highly motivated sign—such as an iconic sign, is a sign informed largely through social convention (Chandler, 2007: p.38), a notion that  recurs in the writings of Umberto Eco who argues that at a certain point an iconic representation appears to hold greater ‘truth’ than the real experience. In this way experience is transferred to convention —thereby people begin to “look at things through the glasses of iconic convention” (Eco, 1976: pp. 204/5).  In this illusory state, the sign is preferred to the thing signified thus permitting imagery to mediate the growth of convention. This enquiry is thus concerned to explore the signifying and ideological values articulated in the Bloody Sunday mural.

The convention that foregrounds the Bloody Sunday mural is articulated by Tom Kelly one of the Bogside artists as ‘…the real price paid by a naive and innocent people for simple democratic rights’ (ibid). But the march was scarcely a question of democratic grievance. Bill Rolston observes that by the time of the march a mood prevailed of insurrection against the British. “When British troops were deployed on the streets of Belfast in August 1969, it was ostensibly to protect nationalists under attack from mobs of loyalists and members of the local part-time paramilitary police force, the B Specials. At the same time, it was clear from at least the beginning of 1970 that an insurgency was brewing, leading to the conclusion that the British army was to be involved in a counter-insurgency mode in Northern Ireland” (Rolston, 2005: pp. 181-203). The mural should be compared to the polemic of early agitprop iconography such as the Resist British Rule and Brits Out posters and murals against the British army’s presence.

Unlike the exhortations of these early murals, however, the Bloody Sunday mural speaks of the victim – those injured and dead rushed to cover under the armistice of the white cloth. These protagonists are passive anti-heroes. Hence the imagery does not document the event; rather a moment from the event is captured and reformulated as a new contingency: one which advances a propogandistic message whereby insurrection is encouraged into an alternative modality of meaning as helplessness. This signifier is one of relational and community membership that is considered to live on in a narrative sense after biological death.  Unlike the kaleidoscopic opportunities for interpretation offered by allegory, this narrative pivots on the metonym – who is the masked British gunman?

However, the space of agitation this narrative offers, in line with the social circulation of all public imagery, involves a variety of semiotic shifts and constraints against its circulation when brought under the mediating influence of political exigencies.  Helplessness and therapy as displayed in this mural are inevitably submission to hegemony which, once won, embeds itself in the iconic imagery. A mural (the Loughgall mural, no longer extant) painted in 1987 in Springhill Avenue, Belfast serves to illustrate this point. The mural was a memorial to eight members of the IRA ambushed and killed by the Special Air Services unit (SAS) of the British army. It showed the Celtic Cross Shields of the four provinces of Ireland and names of the dead and figurative representations of the members wearing IRA berets and camouflage dress.  The following two reports, separated by 17 years, capture the changed thinking within the republican and nationalist community. In May 1987, An Phoblacht/Republican News argued: ‘Republicans do not complain about the way in which the British Forces carried out their operation. Centuries of British terror have taught us to expect it. The illegitimacy of the forces which carried out the Loughgall killings is not simply in their actions but in their very presence in our country. It has always been and always will be illegitimate and unacceptable.’ Seventeen years on, in August 2004, the Irish News reported that relatives of one of the IRA members killed at Loughgall had a ‘very useful meeting with the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) chief constable. One member of the family commented afterwards, “We are just a family trying to get the truth about what happened to my brother”. The police spokesperson described the encounter in similar terms: “It was a useful meeting with an open two-way discussion. The Kellys (the family in question) raised a number of issues with the chief constable. He in turn offered his assessment of the decision to deploy the army against what he feared was a dangerous gang.”’ The defiance that characterized the republican struggle has been replaced with what Kevin Bean refers to as a therapeutic tone and a joint search for the truth as part of a process of reconciliation (Bean, 2007). The dead volunteer in question was Padraic Kelly. The Republican activist Kevin Rooney recalls: ‘I remember vividly his father’s tribute the day after the Loughgall ambush, when he described his son and seven comrades as ‘brave Irish soldiers fighting a war against an oppressor’. At the time, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the six county’s then police force) and the British Army regularly attacked IRA funerals to prevent any military displays. When asked by a TV reporter about the prospects of a clash between security forces and mourners at his son’s funeral, Kelly replied: ‘My son will be buried with full military honours as befitting an Irish soldier. If they try and prevent Padraic’s coffin leaving the house with his IRA beret and gloves then we will bury him in the back garden!’[3] However such an open spirit of defiance is a Read the rest of this entry

éirígí to hold series of anti-private banking protests

Cathaoirleach éirígí, Brian Leeson, has announced that the socialist-republican party are to hold a series of anti-private banking protests in Dublin and Wicklow (see below).  Come along and spread the word amongst your family, friends and work mates.

5pm, Thursday, July 11, Bank of Ireland, Ballyfermot, Dublin.

5pm, Thursday, July 11, Artane Roundabout, Malahide Road, Dublin.

11am, Saturday, July 13, Dargle Bridge, Bray, Co Wicklow, Dublin.

5pm, Thursday, July 18, Bank of Ireland, James’s Street, Dublin.

Speaking in relation to the Anglo Irish Bank tapes controversy Leeson said, “The content of the Anglo-Irish Bank tape recordings has caused widespread revulsion across this state and beyond.  The arrogance, vulgarity and cavalier attitude of the bankers is particularly galling to families and communities that are having to live with the reality of mass unemployment, enforced emigration, underfunded public services, reduced incomes and increased taxation.

“The tapes provide a Read the rest of this entry

éirígí and the anti-G8 protests

g8_belfast_15jun2éirígí activists were heavily involved in protests against the G8 visit to Ireland.

That opposition was based on a simple, but true, premise. This was a visit by eight individuals who have been responsible for war crimes and widespread human rights abuses, and who collectively share a political and economic ideology that has not only crippled Ireland’s economy but which has also condemned tens of millions of people around the world to death as a result of poverty and hunger.

These same war criminals kill their opponents without compunction from a safe distance in order to maintain the position of wealthy and powerful elites around the globe.

The purpose of the G8 visit to Fermanagh was to show how ‘normal’ Britain’s six-county colony in Ireland has become – that the Irish struggle for justice had been defeated. Along with many others, éirígí aligned itself to that respectable minority seeking to prove that notion wrong.

It was evident from the security measures put in place across the Six Counties and which even extended into the Twenty Six Counties that Ireland is a society which is far from ‘normal’. The cost of the British security operation in the Six Counties has been estimated to have Read the rest of this entry