Sunday, November 2, 2008

Myth of "normality" shattered in Belfast

éirígí have commended all those who came onto the streets of Belfast on Sunday to protest at the "homecoming parade" for the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) in defiance of the threats and lies of the RUC-PSNI, unionist politicians and others.

éirígí members and activists from Sligo and throughout the entire north-west were among the crowd of at least 400 republicans that gathered at Divis Tower before marching to the RUC-PSNI barricade blocking the bottom of the Falls Road.

There they were addressed by éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson and Brenda Downes, whose husband John was murdered by the RUC in 1984. A statement was also read out on behalf of Relatives for Justice - the organisation that campaigns on behalf of the victims of British state violence – by Alex Mc Crory, an eírígí activist, former political prisoner and blanketman.

Addressing the crowd Brian Leeson commended those who attended and defied British law to do so.

He said: "We will not ask the permission of our oppressors to march on our streets. If we are to take this country back we must take these streets back and break the mentality that we must ask the British state nicely to allow us to do so."

"The people of Vietnam did not seek permission from the United States to fight back; the people of South Africa did not ask the permission of the apartheid regime to fight for their rights. We, Irish republicans, will not seek permission from the Six County Parades Commission or any other British appointed body to protest the occupation of Ireland."

Brian said: "Throughout the last number of weeks, the RUC-PSNI, unionist politicians and some who should know better raised the spectre of violence in response to éirígí calling people onto the streets. Today, éirígí did exactly what it said it was going to do and held a peaceful, disciplined, dignified protest in opposition to the British military tramping through the streets of Belfast."

"Today, the unionist politicians, the unionist paramilitaries who encouraged the pro-British rabble into the city centre, the RUC-PSNI and the Six County Parades Commission were all proven conclusively wrong. All the threats and lies failed to intimidate the republicans of Belfast and further afield from making a forceful point."

Brian continued: "More importantly, the British government's normalisation agenda, of which this parade was an integral part, was today proven to be an agenda that is doomed to fail.

"Belfast is not a British city. It is an Irish city that is under British military and political occupation. As long as the British government continues planning stunts that will portray their presence in Ireland as somehow normal and acceptable, they will have to deal with large numbers of Irish republicans opposing them."

Sligo/Leitrim éirígí activist Gerry Casey who was among those from the north-west that took part in the demonstration said that republicans should take encouragement from Sundays demonstrations against the UDR/RIR.

He said: "The British state have been sent a clear signal - Irish Republicanism remains a force to be reckoned with. Their normalisation policy ended up in tatters today at their barricade blocking the route of the demonstration from the Falls Road into the City Centre."

He continued: "Is it a 'normal' society that sees heavily armed, masked paramilitary thugs masquerading as police, blocking the road from behind their armoured jeeps and riot shields to prevent peaceful demonstrators from marching through their streets?"

"Of course not. Unlike any normal society the British occupation of Ireland has always been maintained and had its rule enforced from the barrel of a gun. Sundays events show that despite what many would wish us all to believe, this remains the case."

Casey concluded: "Forty years ago, the RUC similarly blocked demonstrators marching for Civil Rights in what were also termed "illegal" parades. Today the RUC-PSNI have shown that while the uniform and name may have changed, the force remains the same anti-democratic paramilitary outfit it always has been and remains in the front line of upholding British rule in Ireland and of repressing those who dare to challenge Britains ocupation."