Category Archives: Democratic rights – general
by Mick Healy
A very interesting talk on Ireland’s Basque refugees during the Spanish Civil War was given by political activist Stewart Reddin at Ubh café in Newbridge, Co. Kildare on Saturday, June 16 as part of June Fest. The cafe was packed out for the talk, with part of the audience having to stand on the stairs.
Stewart told the extraordinary story of Ireland’s Basque refugees and one man in particular, Iker Gallastegi. Iker survived two dictatorships, was taken to Mexico as a child refugee just months after being born. He returned home at five years of age only to be forced to flee again as a ten-year-old following the fascist bombing of Gernika.
Living in Ireland as a refugee from 1937 to the 1950s, Iker attended school in the Meath Gaeltacht and became a Gaelic speaker. He studied in UCD and turned down an offer to play for Bohemians football club before returning home to fight in the Basque struggle against Franco’s fascist regime.
He returned again to Ireland to train with IRA members including Seamus Costello and Frank Keane in the early 1960s. on February 12 this year, Iker passed away peacefully at his home in Algorta aged 91.
After the talk local folk singer Sive, who recently shared a stage with Christy Moore in Dublin, entertained the large crowd with a few songs like “Hoverfly” and “I Don’t Know”.
One of the interesting post-referendum developments is the ructions in Fianna Fail. For folks not familiar with Irish politics, Fianna Fail was the dominant party in southern irish politics from 1932-2011 and was actually in power a majority of that time. Although when it was founded in the mid-1920s it was attacked by the Catholic hierarchy as ‘communistic’, its dominant figure for almost 50 years was the socially reactionary Catholic nationalist Eamon de Valera, who served many years as prime minister and many years subsequently as president. In power in the 1930s, de Valera quickly made peace with the Catholic hierarchy and opposed Catholic moral teaching through the state.
In the 1980s, FF was closely aligned with the Catholic right in support of the 8th amendment and in preventing divorce being legislated for.
In the referendum a majority of FF members of parliament and the senate opposed repeal of the 8th amendment, however the party leader, Micheal Martin, supported a Yes vote. Some Fianna Fail parliamentarians announced their intentions to try to frustrate Read the rest of this entry
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the civil rights movement as a mass movement on the streets of the north-east of Ireland.
A peaceful movement was met with fierce repression by the Orange state – peaceful protesters were assaulted with police truncheons and tear gas. Sections of the Special Powers Act, legislation jealously admired by the apartheid regime in South Africa, were used to try to ban marches and other civil rights activity. Orange mobs, protected by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, were also unleashed on the nationalist population.
As the nationalist working class began to effectively defend its areas with barricades and street fighting, the British government sent in troops to “restore order”, ie put a risen people back in their place.
An array of repression
Over the following decades the British used a whole array of repressive measures against the nationalist people: batons and tear gas, along with stun guns, live rounds, rubber and then plastic bullets, internment, non-jury Diplock Courts, supergrass frame-up trials and shoot-to-kill (ie execution) policies were all deployed. While the British state widely used terror Read the rest of this entry