Saturday, March 28, 2009

éirígí protest against 28-day detention

More than 100 people - republican ex-prisoners, community and political activists, young and old - gathered on Belfast's Falls Road on Saturday 28 March to oppose the most recent internment of Irish citizens by the British government.

Labour leader betrays Irish workers by opposing planned general strike

A better quality of life for whom?Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has accused the Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore of betraying Irish workers and trade unionists and of siding with the political and capitalist classes responsible for the current conomic crisis.

Casey was speaking following comments by Gilmore in which he expressed his opposition to the general strike scheduled for March 30.

Casey said: “The actions of Gilmore are despicable. At a time like this when workers and trade unionists are having pay cuts forced upon them and being made to pay for the greed and incompetence of successive administrations and their banking and developer friends, the least they can expect is the support of those who claim to have workers interests at heart.”

He added: “Instead of trying to galvanise support for the workers of this country, the people he and his party claim to represent, Gilmore has shown where his loyalties lie. He has sided with the political and capitalist classes in this country. He has betrayed the rights of Irish workers and trade unionists.”

Casey concluded: “Now, more than ever, worker and trade union militancy and solidarity are required to defend those rights. Workers and trade unionists should ignore the weasel words of Gilmore and take to the streets in large numbers on March 30. I would also urge the wider public to publicly support this national strike and help to defend the rights and living standards of all Irish workers and their families.”

Monday, March 23, 2009

Letter to media re 28 day detentions

A chara

Despite the many promises made in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), St Andrews agreements and by the political classes north and south of the border, recent events have shown that the culture of political policing in the six counties remains as deeply rooted as ever. The RUC may have changed their name and uniform but they remain the same force, with the same hostile attitude towards republicans and human rights.

Last week, for the first time since internment, the RUC/PSNI detained individuals in custody without charge for longer than seven days. They may now be held for up to 28 days. In August of last year éirígí held nationwide protests to remember the introduction of internment by the British Government in 1971 and to highlight the introduction of this new legislation that now allows them to carry out these detentions. As éirígí warned at that time, what we are now seeing is the re-introduction of internment under a different name and directed once again at republicans.

The silence of virtually all politicians on both sides of the border at this flagrant abuse of human rights by the RUC/PSNI and the British government is deafening. Contrary to the commitments made at the time of the GFA, the British government have increased militarisation of the Six Counties and have overseen an upsurge in human rights violations. They promised the repeal of repressive and draconian legislation yet they have enacted and have begun implementing new laws effectively re-introducing internment for a 28-day period without a whimper from the political classes. This shows the utter failure and bankruptcy of the agreement and those who championed it.

Those who gave their full support to the RUC/PSNI claimed an era of supposedly “accountable” policing was at hand. Now that those claims lie in tatters the onus rests with Sinn Fein and the SDLP to withdraw their support for British policing in Ireland.

Is mise

Gerry Casey
éirígí Co.Sligeach

Click here to see Sligo Weekender Coverage

Friday, March 20, 2009

Intimidation of Shell to Sea campaigners intensifies

Over the course of recent weeks the state has intensified its intimidation of Shell to Sea campaigners. The detention in Mountjoy jail of Maura Harrington, the issuing of summons against other campaigners and the assault by Gardaí on Niall Harnett that led to his hospitalisation are a clear indication of the imminent re-commencement of work by Shell at Glengad in north Mayo.

Shell’s attempts to carry out their work at Glengad and to lay their off shore pipe-line failed last year when the pipe-laying ship the Solitaire was forced to depart the area without completing its work following nationwide protests and an 11-day hunger strike by Maura.

Maura was jailed on March 11 for 28 days by Judge Mary Devins, wife of Fianna Fáil Minister Jimmy Devins, on charges of assault relating to an incident that occurred at Pollathomais Pier in June 2007. During that incident, up to 20 people were brutally injured by Gardaí who assisted Shell in forcing their way onto private property with a digger against the wishes of the landowner Paddy McGrath.

While Maura was charged with assault, no Garda was charged for their brutality on the day, or for invading Paddy McGrath’s property. In Jailing Maura, Devins attempted to humiliate her further by ordering her to receive psychiatric assessment, to pay the Garda Benevolent Fund €1000 and to refrain from interfering with Shell’s work for twelve months. Refusing to bow to these insults Maura received a further two days in jail for contempt of court.

Shell to Sea activist Niall Harnett taken from Belmullet courtOn the same day Niall Harnett was assaulted by Gardaí at Belmullet court which resulted in his hospitalisation. The following day Judge Devins dismissed assault charges brought by Niall against three Gardaí as he remained in hospital unfit to attend court.

More than 20 summonses have also now been issued to ten campaigners relating to their involvement in a number of protests last year against Shell in the region. While hundreds took part in those events it seems that Shell’s Cops have deliberately targeted specific individuals with a view to crippling campaigning on the issue.

Also particularly reprehensible has been the long running attempts by sections of the media to smear and demonise those involved in opposing the give-away of our natural resources to Shell. Their gutter journalism is reminiscent of similar such campaigns waged against republicans over the course of the past few decades and was evident again in recent days. In particular their attempts to publicly vilify Maura since her detention were despicable, though not surprising.

There clearly exists a deliberate policy by the state, their surrogates within the media, and by Shell to silence, intimidate, demonise and tie up Shell to Sea activists with ongoing court cases and bogus charges. It is a clear strategy to distract and divert opposition to Shell and the giveaway of the oil and gas reserves worth up to €500 billion off our coast in the Corrib field and elsewhere.

Currently the work Shell need to carry out at Glengad hasn’t begun yet. However, the recent upsurge of state harassment of campaigners, coupled with information coming from the Erris area, indicates that the work is now imminent. Onshore work is likely to begin in the coming weeks with the offshore pipe-laying by the Solitaire now likely to commence sometime in April or May. The Department of Energy and Natural Resources have also recently received more than 200 submissions, most of which are from local residents calling on Minister Eamonn Ryan to agree a public oral hearing so that public opposition to the pipeline can at last be openly aired.

These coming weeks and months are now of vital importance. All of us, republicans, socialists and progressives of all persuasion, must rally our resources and intensify the campaign against Shell. It is a huge challenge as the forces of the state, as we have repeatedly seen, will be deployed in large numbers to act as Shell’s enforcers and bully-boys in Erris. They will spare no effort to defeat us.

It is for these reasons in the time ahead that we must build a mass campaign for the nationalisation of Irish natural resources. We must mobilise to ensure that justice prevails, not just for the people of Erris, but for the people of Ireland as a whole. We must ensure that Maura is freed and that the rights of other activists are upheld, that the pipeline is disrupted, that Shell are run out of Ireland with their tail between their legs and that the Corrib gas field at long last is taken under public control.

Despite the presence of such vast energy resources capable of satisfying Ireland’s energy requirements for decades, tens of thousands of families continue to struggle to heat their homes. Because of this approximately 3000 people die from preventable, cold-related illness annually. Now as the recession deepens and unemployment soars, fuel poverty is set to increase rapidly. Despite this, the Fianna Fáil led administration has spearheaded a witch-hunt against public sector workers and workers in general. Attempts have been made to scapegoat victims as the perpetrators of an economic crisis created by failed policy and the greed fuelled actions of big business in this country.

Given the choice between nationalising the Corrib gas or imposing pay cuts on workers and slashing vital health and education services, the Fianna Fáil led administration has shown where their loyalties lie. They will not make the decision to nationalise the Corrib gas field willingly. It is therefore our collective responsibility as Irish citizens to force the changes in this country that are required to ensure a future for all the children of the nation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

éirígí demand immediate release of Shell to Sea campaigner

Maura Harrington with Pat 'the Chief' O'Donnell at a recent Shell to Sea meeting in SligoSligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has described the jailing of Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington as a deliberate attempt by the state to silence opposition to the give away of Ireland’s natural resources to Shell and has called for her immediate release. He also claimed that her arrest and detention are probably timed to coincide with the likely commencement by Shell of fresh efforts to lay the pipe-line to Glengad beach in north Mayo which had to be abandoned last year.

Maura was arrested on Wednesday and sentenced to 28 days in Mountjoy Jail. Maura spoke at a public meeting at the City Hotel in Sligo last month. At that meeting she warned of Shell’s plans to recommence efforts to lay the pipeline in March or April of this year and that intensified efforts by the state against Shell to Sea activists would be made to try to prevent protests.

Casey said: “It looks increasingly likely that Shell are now planning to commence work yet again at Glengad Special Area of Conservation. They had to abandon their efforts last year following protests and a hunger strike undertaken by Maura. We believe that this arrest is a deliberate effort by the state to assist Shell by removing one of the most active and vociferous campaigners against them. Her detention isn’t the first time the state has jailed campaigners to try to defeat opposition to the give away of our valuable natural resources to Shell. The Rossport Five spent over three months in jail back in 2005 for the brave stance they also took against Shell.”

He added: “Maura must be released immediately. A public inquiry must also be established to investigate fully the true extent of the role played by the Gardaí as enforcers for Shell and to probe the countless abuses, including physical assaults, which campaigners claim that Gardaí have inflicted on protestors.”

He concluded: “It is long past time for the Fianna Fáil-led administration to take the massive amount of gas reserves currently at the mercy of Shell’s greed back under state control and to use the proceeds for the benefit of the people of Ireland. The wealth generated should be utilised to provide investment in efficient and effective health and education systems for all, to redress the neglect by the state of the north-west region and to end fuel poverty. Send Shell to hell – nationalise the Corrib gas.”

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Death Squads Out of Ireland

The message that the British army is not welcome in Ireland, under any guise, was yesterday (Saturday) brought to the gates of the British embassy in Dublin.

éirígí activists gathered at the embassy in response to PSNI chief Hugh Orde’s announcement that members of the British Special Reconnaissance Regiment [SRR] were now active in Ireland. It is unclear how many covert British units were active in the Six Counties before the reinforcements were called in.

éirígí activists outside the British embassy

It is clear, however, that 5,000 regular British troops remain garrisoned in the North on an indefinite basis, to be deployed at will by the British government.

British claims that the SRR would be exclusively used for surveillance operations were met with widespread scepticism.

Closely aligned to the notorious SAS and the discredited 14th Intelligence Company, the SRR are well skilled in the practices of murder and collusion. In 2005, an SRR gang was caught red-handed by Iraqi police in Basra carrying a bomb in what appeared to be a classic covert British dirty tricks operation.

At today’s protest, dozens of party activists and supporters carried banners, flags and placards demanding an end to the presence of British death squads such as the SRR, and the entire British garrison in the occupied North.

Britain's war machine out of Ireland

Speaking at the event, éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “We have heard much over the last decade about the demilitarisation of society in the Six Counties. This process was never completed, and what we are seeing now is actually a remilitarisation by the British government of the situation in the Six Counties.

“We can only conclude from developments that the measure of demilitarisation which the British government conducted was purely tactical and variable depending on the perceived level of threat to its occupation here.

“Hugh Orde has taken it upon himself to invite to Ireland what can only be described as a British death squad. Today’s protest was about sending a message to Orde and to Gordon Browne, that éirígí will be actively opposing the deployment.”

“People in Ireland know what the consequences of deploying groups like the SRR are because they have seen it all before. The Black and Tans, the Force Research Unit and the SAS all played similar roles in an effort to shore up the British occupation.

British death squads out of Ireland

“Their role, as determined by their political leadership in Downing Street, is to compliment and strengthen Britain’s stranglehold on Ireland. The British garrison in Ireland must be deconstructed, not re-enforced”.

“éirígí, through our Campaign for a British Withdrawal, will be hammering home the point that the British government and its armed forces are not welcome in Ireland, in whatever guise they come.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let the Government Stew

Hundreds of thousands of workers have taken to the streets against government cutséirígí chairperson Brian Leeson has called on trade unions across the country to reject any notion of a ‘social solidarity’ pact with government and big business and instead form a campaigning coalition for workers’ rights.

Leeson was speaking as senior trade unionists were joining the employers’ group IBEC in Leinster House for a Dublin government briefing on the economic crisis.

The Twenty-Six County administration has been keen to resume talks on a ‘social solidarity’ pact between themselves, IBEC and the trade unions.

Leeson said: “The whole notion of social partnership has been shown to be a sham. Logically, it couldn’t outlast the utter failure of the economic system it was designed to protect with a veneer of equality and cooperation.

“What social partnership failed to hide or prevent was the fact that the gap between rich and poor in the Twenty-Six Counties became wider than ever during the years of economic boom. Now that the economy lies in ruins, it is those who were prevented from benefiting in any sustainable way from the boom-times that are expected to pay the price.”

He continued: “No doubt, the Twenty-Six County government had plenty of excuses for the trade unions today about the need to do away with special needs classes for children, the slashing of hospital budgets and presiding over ever-lengthening dole queues.

“These excuses, along with the pleas from government ministers for the unions to share in the blame through a solidarity pact, should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

Waterford Crystal workers are maintaining their sit-in“The social solidarity that is needed at present is between all those who are under threat of losing their jobs and those who have already lost them; between the parents of children whose education is suffering because Batt O’Keeffe wanted to save €7 million and the communities who are having their hospitals’ budgets slashed; between all the trade unions in this country who represent working class people.

“The unions should let the government and IBEC stew in their own isolation. It is time to treat these criminals to the spectacle of a campaign that will fight against every anti-social public service cutback and every single job loss.

“Workers in places like Waterford Crystal have already indicated how attacks on peoples’ livelihoods and living standards can be met with effective action. It is time for the unions to help build a nationwide campaign, encompassing all 32 counties and every interested individual and organisation. éirígí will not be found wanting.”

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nationalise the Corrib Gas instead of targetting social welfare recipients

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has accused the Fianna Fáil led administration of trying to target the least well off in our society to pay for their failed economic policies and the greed of their cronies in the banking and development industries. He has called on them to nationalise the Corrib Gas field and all other natural resources and to cease their plans for cuts in social welfare payments and services.

Casey was speaking as it emerged that the Department of Social and Family affairs are currently examining a number of options to cut social welfare payments and make it more difficult for claimants to receive assistance.

Casey said: “The administration’s response to this economic crisis has not been to make those responsible for it pay but to instead make workers and the less well off carry the burden. Following their attack on the pay of public sector workers, it has now emerged that they have moved on to looking at ways to cut social welfare allowances and to make it more difficult for people to claim the assistance they need.”

He added: “This is a stark reminder of where Fianna Fáil’s priorities lie. Oil and gas reserves potentially worth €500 billion have been discovered off our coast in the Corrib gas field and elsewhere. The wealth generated from these fields could be used to fight this recession, to secure Irelands energy requirements for years to come and provide much needed funding for essential public services whose budgets and resources are currently being slashed. This is particularly relevant in the context of the current cutbacks in health and education, both locally and nationally. The most recent being the loss of seven primary school teaching posts in County Sligo and proposals to slash the budget of Sligo General Hospital by €7 million.”

“The state has squandered millions upon millions of euro in policing operations to try to suppress peaceful opposition to the shameful give away of these valuable natural resources from the Corrib gas field to Shell. This includes €325,000 last year in overtime alone to just five Gardai. However, instead of discussing plans to nationalise these valuable natural resources, they have decided to discuss how they can target the most vulnerable in our society, those reliant on social welfare payments. This is despicable and must be resisted at all costs.”

He concluded: “I am now challenging Fianna Fáils local deputies Eamonn Scanlon and Jimmy Devins to explain why their administration refuses to nationalise the Corrib Gas which could be used to benefit all the people in this state. They must also explain how they can justify the current plans by their administration to target social welfare recipients which will cause real hardship and widespread poverty.”