Category Archives: Repression and resistance in the six counties today

Roe 4 prisoners on “upsurge in harassment against our visitors”

Statement from Republican Prisoners, Roe 4, Maghaberry gaol (issued by Saoradh POW Dept):

“Over the past number of weeks Republican prisoners have witnessed an upsurge in harassment against our visitors. These escalations in provocative behaviour have now become a routine occurrence, with family, friends and loved ones enduring intimidation from bigoted screws.

“In the past week alone there have been several incidents. In the first one man was dragged from the visits, forcibly strip searched and held in isolation for 48 hours. This was highlighted at the time, but the gaol administration remained undaunted. Subsequently the so-called ‘drug dog’ reacting to visitors has been used to prevent visits from taking place.

“These dogs are notoriously unreliable and, in any case, Read the rest of this entry

Republican POWs and the struggle in Maghaberry today

by Nathan Hastings

The following is designed to outline the historical context of Republican Prisoners and their conditions in Maghaberry Jail. This is not aimed at providing a detailed history, but at illuminating the issues which exist in Maghaberry today.

There is a long history of Irish women and men being imprisoned as a result of their opposition to the occupation of Ireland. Through-out this history there has been a recurring theme of Britain and its agents using imprisonment and conditions in the sites of imprisonment to attack and harass those who it has viewed as rebellious or troublesome. This has been carried out as a matter of both direct state policy and the cruelty and resentment of those in control in the sites of captivity.

In response to this there has been the recurring theme of struggle and resistance to oppression amongst those imprisoned through generations. This theme can be seen, for example, in the refusal of members and supporters of the Land League to wear prison clothes, shave or cut their hair whilst imprisoned, opposing the prison uniform. The response to this in the 1880s was an offer of civilian-style clothing.

This is almost identical to Read the rest of this entry

The costs of capitulation

by Socialist Democracy

The Orange marching season in the North of Ireland kicks off each year with Twelfth of July marches, preceded by the 11th night bonfires.  This year the Twelfth demonstration passed almost without incident.  The 11th night bonfires saw a rash of hijacking and petrol bombing in east Belfast and parts of County Down.  These were protests following a court order applying fire safety rules to a bonfire.  The Ulster Volunteer Force gangsters behind the hijacking believed as a matter of principle that the bonfires should be free of any legal impediment.

They were a small minority.  The unionist population was indifferent, the paramilitaries had been paid off and, for the first time ever, the Democratic Unionist Party stepped forward to demand obedience to the law.

It has taken decades of conflict resolution and social engineering to get to Read the rest of this entry

Remembering rubber and plastic bullet killings by ‘Crown forces’

by Philip Ferguson

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.

In 1971 Emma Groves was blinded in both eyes when a British soldier fired a rubber bullet at her, through her window, as she stood in her living room

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

Statements from prisoners in 26-county state and six-county state to Saoradh ard fheis, November 18

Statement From Portlaoise Republican Prisoners, read by Ger Devereux

We the Republican Prisoners incarcerated in E3/E4 Portlaoise Gaol send solidarity greetings to our Revolutionary comrades in attendance today, and Revolutionary Socialist activists internationally, engaged in their numerous campaigns. We particularly applaud the unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament, but as the Catalonian people have now witnessed, colonial powers will never relinquish their illegal occupation voluntarily. History has thought us that it is not sufficient to affirm your independence through symbolic declarations or demonstrations- you must be prepared to defend them.

We would also like to commend our imprisoned comrades in Maghaberry Gaol for their continued resolve and discipline in the face of a sectarian aggressor. The oppressive measures being implemented against our comrades needs to be highlighted, but more worrying of late are the increased physical attacks occurring on a weekly base. As a small token of solidarity with our comrades, the Republican Prisoners in Portlaoise will embark on a 72 hour fast commencing this week, to highlight the ongoing sectarian attacks that they face.

Like all emerging Revolutionary organisations we have had our teething problems, but the party’s emphasis on principles rather than Read the rest of this entry

Support anti-extradition protest, Newry, 1pm, Saturday, November 11

No automatic alt text available.Saoradh in Ard Mhacha is organising an anti-extradition protest on November 11 in Newry.

The protest will take place at Newry courthouse, a long-standing symbol of British oppression in the border town.

Commenting ahead of the protest local Saoradh activist Clíodhna McCool said, “There are currently three Irish Republicans facing extradition from the Free State to the 6 counties.

“If this goes ahead they will be sent to Maghaberry prison where they will suffer Read the rest of this entry

In review: UVF – behind the mask

I agree with most of this review.  And the review is well worth reading and thinking about, which is why I’ve reblogged it.  However, it also has a problem.  Mike M notes that whenever catholic and protestant workers have united, the protestant establishment has played the Orange card, and this has always succeeded in getting the protestant workers to split and line up again behind their exploiters.  Very true.  Yet, at the end of the review, what does Mike suggest? 

Well, he suggests protestant and catholic workers unting on economic issues!  The reason is that the political tendency Mike identifies with has never understood the importance of the national question.  At least, unlike the CWI followers in Ireland, they recognise that there is a national question; but they fail to integrate it into the reasons for the divisions in the working class in the north-east. 

So Mike falls back into suggesting as a road forward something he has already identified as failing!  Moreover, as Seamus Costello noted way back in the 1970s, you can’t trick the protestant working class into a false unity by ignoring the national question; they’re not stupid.  You have to be honest with them on the national question.  Instead of adopting a partitionist view which focuses on uniting wage-workers in the six counties across the sectarian divide, by ignoring the national question, it is necessary to counterpose the solving together of the national and class questions through uniting the mass of the Irish working class on an all-island basis.  This points to an all-Ireland workers’ republic in which the protestant workers would be free, instead of being the alienated tools of imperialism. – P.F.

Aaron Edwards, UVF: Behind the Mask, Dublin, Merrion Press, 2017, £14.99; reviewed by Mike Milotte.

UVF: Behind the Mask is a vast if somewhat episodic account of the killings, feuds and internal factionalism of the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force written by a lecturer at Sandhurst, the British Army’s officer training college. It would barely merit mention in this journal* were it not for its underlying, yet never fully argued thesis that Ulster loyalism is a genuine expression of Protestant working class discontent, while the violent conflict in Northern Ireland in which the UVF played such a significant part, was an “ethnic civil war”.

The author, Aaron Edwards, comes from an area of Belfast where the UVF was particularly active. During the “peace process” he befriended several leading UVF figures, one of whom persuaded him to write this book. While he rejects UVF violence, the book itself is permeated with a sense of Edwards’ high opinion of some of its worst perpetrators.

Socialists or pro-imperialists?

Edwards expresses sympathy for the views of former UVF men who have declared themselves to be socialists, but his key formulations are clearly at odds with the view of most left-wing activists and writers for whom working class loyalism is a form of Read the rest of this entry

Prisoners statement on Maghaberry prison regime

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 STATEMENT FROM REPUBLICAN PRISONERS, ROE 4 MAGHABERRY. 31/05/17

Over the past number of months Republican Prisoners have been consistently gathering Freedom of Information statistics regarding the regime in Republican Roe House.

This has been undertaken to dispense with the false claims by NIPS (Northern Ireland Prison Service) spokespeople and unionist politicians that the restrictions in place here are due to threats.

These statistics showed that in the 6-month period between 1st September 2016 and 1st March 2017 there were no alarms hit on the wing, whilst 621 alarms were activated in other areas of Maghaberry, including over 100 in certain houses. Despite this our regime remains among the most restrictive in Europe.

These statistics have been shown to all the relevant oversight bodies, groups and political parties, some of whom had previously stated that a period of calm would leave room to open discussions with the Jail Administration regarding increasing numbers out on the landings.

These statistics were further reinforced by media coverage of a tribunal involving two former governors which revealed that the restrictive closer of a stair grill on the wing was contrived by reactionaries, and NIPS lied to a Stormont committee regarding this.

Reactionaries in the Jail Administration have responded to all of this with increased restrictions on movement and a variety of punitive measures. They are determined to demonstrate that they will not abide by the August 2010 Agreement and their actions go unchallenged by the aforementioned parties.

It is clear to us that Maghaberry Jail remains a bastion of the Orange State which refuses to heed pragmatism for a reason.

Republican Prisoners
Roe 4
Maghaberry
31/05/2017

Read the rest of this entry

Republican POWs’ statement

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Statement from Republican Prisoners, Roe 4, Maghaberry. 02/05/17

NEW AGREEMENT BETWEEN ROE 3 AND ROE 4 REPUBLICAN PRISONERS.

In 2014, Republican Prisoners announced that the Republican Prisoner communities within Roe House (Roe 3 and Roe 4) would be sharing several facilities on the wing. These facilities had previously been used separately to facilitate space for distinct prison communities; although it was agreed at that time that certain facilities would be shared. It was also agreed that the canteen and yards would remain subject to separate use.

Republican Prisoners Roe 4 are now pleased to announce that these facilities (including the canteen and yard) will now be shared by both Republican Prisoner communities as of 2nd May 2017.

This comes after discussion and agreement between both communities that the sharing of these facilities is both practical and beneficial for all. This also lays to waste recent claims by NIPS spokespersons that the ludicrously restrictive controlled movement policy was necessary due to tensions on the wing. This is of course nonsense.

This move represents a progressive development for Political Prisoners and highlights the emptiness of NIPS excuses for their reactionary policies.

We look forward to moving on with this new arrangement with mutual respect for the distinct communities on the wing.

Republican Prisoners
Roe 4
Maghaberry
02/05/17

After the Stormont election: the way forward

by John McAnulty

The common assertion arising from the latest election in the North of Ireland is that Sinn Fein now has the upper hand. That reform of the local settlement is now inevitable and Gerry Adams has gone so far as to assert that a united Ireland is now back on the agenda.

However the loss of the overall unionist majority is largely a profound psychological shock rather than a practical issue. The seats are:

DUP SF  SDLP  UUP ALLIANCE OTHER
(inc 2 Green, 1PBP) 
28  27  12  10 8 5

 

So The DUP remains the largest party and would nominate the first minister. The loss of the overall majority relies on the dubious idea that Alliance is not a unionist party – they have in the past designated themselves as unionist to save the assembly and until recently fulfilled a role as lynch pin for the sectarian setup by holding the justice ministry position.

In addition in the coming negotiations Sinn Fein will be facing the British government. They themselves have complained that the pro-unionist positions of the British secretary, James Brokenshire, should make him unsuitable as chair.  They will also be appealing to a Dublin government hostile to Sinn Fein that acts as an agent of reaction in both parts of the Island. 

The settlement in Ireland is not designed to lead to a united Ireland and the issue depends entirely on gaining permission from Britain to hold a vote restricted to the six-county area – permission that will not be forthcoming.  Read the rest of this entry