Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lisbon 2 – Democracy EU-Style

No Means No!The vision of a unified Europe first articulated in the Schuman Declaration of May 9th 1950, to the effect that “the pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe”, is the vision that has guided the European project since its inception. We must be under no illusion that it is the consolidation of political power in a centralized, ‘free market’ based, neo-liberal Europe that the Eurocrat establishment has as its primary objective. All European treaties throughout the last 60 years have been directed at progressing towards the achievement of this objective. Essentially this is what Lisbon 1 was about. It is what Nice 1 and 2 were about. The particulars of the ‘assurances’ or ‘guarantees’ agreed at the EU summit of June 19th notwithstanding, this is what the coming Lisbon 2 is about also.

We will be made to vote again and again if needs be until we vote ‘right’, both literally and figuratively – until we vote to accept that the economic and political future of the millions of people who inhabit the EU area is best determined by an unelected Commission and a burgeoning and ever-more powerful EU bureaucracy. Such is ‘democracy’ EU-style. It is the epitome of bourgeois democracy – replete with the illusion of substance, yet in practice inherently anti-democratic in any real sense, and directed fundamentally at securing the interests of capital and its political servants.

EU RemovalsMost of the ‘assurances’ agreed by EU heads of State at the summit relate to issues (such as conscription, abortion and taxation etc.) that never formed part of the left opposition’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. Nowhere in all of the campaigning against Lisbon that éirígí was involved in were these types of issues seriously articulated by the man and woman on the street. They do not reflect the grounds upon which working class people came out comprehensively against the Treaty. The CAEUC, of which éirígí is a member, based its opposition to Lisbon primarily upon the fact that the Treaty would undermine sovereignty, was fundamentally anti-worker, promoted greed over need and increased the militarization of Europe. Many of the 862,415 Irish citizens (over 53 per cent of the 26-county electorate) who voted against the Lisbon Treaty agreed with this analysis and opted to vote against the vision of Europe that was being proposed by those who deigned to tell them what was in their best interests, having already discarded the democratic determination of the peoples of both France and the Netherlands and denied all other European peoples the right to vote one way or the other. This is democracy EU-style.

As to what will be different this time? There is absolutely nothing about the assurances ‘secured’ by Cowen et al. on June 19th that will in any way, shape or form alter the substance of the Lisbon Treaty. Not one full stop, nor comma, of the Treaty will be altered. The fundamentals of Lisbon remain the same: it codifies neo-liberalism, further deepens the democratic deficit and progresses the Eurocrat plan for an EU super-state. The ‘assurances’ given with regard to the fear of creeping EU militarism are instructive in this regard. That the assurances can state that the 26-County government may “determine the nature and volume of its defence and security expenditure and the nature of its defence capabilities” at the same time as the text of the Lisbon Treaty obliges all signatories to commit to “progressively' improving (military) capabilities” highlights the contradiction between what is being said and what must be done. The EU bureaucracy is speaking out of both sides of its mouth. What the ‘assurances’ amount to is subterfuge and scaremongering. Subterfuge in that the ‘assurances’ are intended to give the impression of a changed Treaty while doing nothing of the sort in reality. When Brian Cowen states that: “We came here (to Brussels) with two aims. Ireland (sic) wanted firm legal guarantees. We got them. We wanted a commitment to a protocol. We got that. I am confident we now have a solid basis to go to the (sic) Irish people and to ask them again for their approval for Ireland (sic) to ratify the Treaty so that Europe can move on”, he is engaging in a display of shocking cynicism. He implies that the ‘assurances’ are something other than mere legal re-statements of aspects of the existing Treaty, which they are not.

Delivering the message on Hill 16The scaremongering is to be found in the subtext to all of this, which is as follows: “if we don’t vote yes, what is an already economically disastrous situation, will be compounded and exponentially made worse”. The implication is that accepting Lisbon will help rescue Ireland from the depths of the economic recession it finds itself in. Given the fact that neo-liberal ‘free’ market economics is what caused the global meltdown in the first place and the fact that the same neo-liberal agenda is codified in Lisbon, the proponents of a Yes vote are like quack doctors whose proposed cure for a disease is more disease.

We must resist the renewed attempt to have the Lisbon Treaty forced upon us as we did when we first defeated Lisbon against all odds in June 2008. On that occasion, the people of the Twenty-Six Counties defended the democratic rights of all of the peoples of Europe. Once again we must organise to reject the anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-citizen paradigm that the Lisbon Treaty represents. We must organise to reject the notion that a neo-liberal EU super-state can deliver the people of Europe anything than a continuation of denial of democracy, capitalist crisis and periodic economic meltdown. Our position with regard to Lisbon 1 was quite simply that saying NO to Lisbon was to say yes to the possibility of a democratic Europe, to the possible realisation of an “internationalism based upon the ideal of a free federation of free peoples”. It remains our position, no matter what ‘assurances’ emanate from Brussels or any other EU bourgeois institution.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Right to Protest Suppressed by Riot Squad in Belfast

As dozens of masked paramilitary police decamped from armoured jeeps onto a Belfast street it could have been a scene from 1969, 1979 or 1989. But it wasn’t. Instead it was June 27th 2009 – the day of Britain’s inaugural ‘Armed Forces Day’.

If proof was ever needed of the unchanged nature of both British policing in Ireland and the wider occupation, it was provided in Belfast today. As one arm of Britain’s occupation forces were ‘celebrated’ with the flying of the ‘Armed Forces Day’ flag above City Hall, another arm of those same occupation forces were busy suppressing the right to peaceful protest.

While republicans are all too used to the PSNI blocking the routes of ‘illegal’ marches, today the PSNI went a step further and prevented éirígí activists and supporters from even reaching the assembly point for a static picket. Those walking on the footpath found their path blocked by baton-yielding paramilitaries clad from head to foot in body armour. Such pre-emptive policing would sit comfortably in the police state of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Riot squad comes out against people walking on the footpath

The picket which was called in opposition to the flying of the ‘Armed Forces Day’ flag over Belfast City Hall was unable to take place as upwards of 120 people were prevented from entering the centre of Ireland’s second city.

As it became apparent that the PSNI were intent on using violence to prevent access to the city centre an impromptu protest was held on Castle Street.

As part of this protest the names of those killed as a result of British state violence was read to the listening crowd. The task of reading this lengthy list of names was shared between Marie Drumm, whose mother Máire was murdered by unionist death squads, and éirígí’s Seán Mac Brádaigh. This dignified memorial to the victims of British state violence stood in contrast to the menacing backdrop of the masked militia.

Seán Mac Brádaigh reads from the list of victims of the British Army

Speaking after the protest éirígí General Secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “All the talk of change in recent years has today been exposed as just that – talk and nothing more than empty, hollow talk. Belfast city centre remains a no-go zone for republicans – unless, of course, those republicans are wiling to ask the British state for permission to enter their own city.

“In light of the potential threat to the safety of those attending the picket we decided that it would be best for people from the west of the city to walk together to City Hall. And this is what we did only to find the footpath blocked by the PSNI riot squad. When we moved to the footpath on the other side of the road the PSNI moved ahead of us to block it also. Despite the spin of the PSNI there was no attempt made by éirígí to march to City Hall. What we witnessed today was the actions of a police state where protest and dissent are met with brute force.”

In closing Breandán committed éirígí to opposing ‘Armed Forces Day’ in the future.

“Today was the first so-called armed forces day. By our protest here today éirígí has ensured that it did not pass unopposed. In the years to come we will build on today’s protest and ensure that June 27th becomes a date of protest – not a date of celebration.”

Click here for more photos.>>

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

éirígí attack plans for Lisbon 2 referendum

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has condemned the decision by Brian Cowen’s administration to hold a re-run of the Lisbon Treaty referendum, which was democratically rejected last year.

Casey said the decision exposes the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the European Union and the contempt with which the political establishments in both Dublin and Brussels view the Irish people.

He said: “By ignoring the democratic decision of the Irish people last June to reject the Lisbon Treaty and by their decision to re-run the exact same referendum in October, the EU and the Brian Cowen’s administration have shown yet again the utter contempt with which they view the Irish people and the notion of democracy. From the time this Treaty was voted down, nothing whatsoever has been changed in it. Not a single paragraph, not a single word. The referendum the Irish people are being forced to vote for later this year will be exactly the same as that which they rejected last year.”

He added: “The so-called declarations and guarantees being given on certain issues are a red herring. They are meaningless and will have no legal force whatsoever as they will not be part of the Treaty itself. As such, they will not override the actual content of the Treaty. To put it simply, they will be meaningless political promises from untrustworthy politicians at both European and national level."

“Once again, this administration are attempting to bulldoze through, using a combination of coercion and deceit, a treaty that will further increase the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the EU. A vote for the Lisbon Treaty will further erode this state’s sovereignty, speeding up moves towards the creation of an EU super-state. The Treaty will see a further abandonment of the state’s neutrality as the militarisation of the EU will substantially increase, with moves towards an EU army intensifying and the establishment in the Treaty of the so-called mutual defence pact."

“The Treaty also continues to promote the right-wing ideology of greed over need, of privatisation and is fundamentally anti-worker, with negative consequences for the rights of workers, rights which need to be strengthened, not diminished. These are the very policies and values that have created the economic recession that we are currently in, that has led to massive unemployment, wage reductions, income levies and cuts in essential public services, such as health and education. For Irish workers to vote for Lisbon would be akin to turkeys voting for Christmas.”

Casey concluded: “Cowen and his colleagues have completely ignored the concerns of the Irish people over the Treaty. They have failed to secure any changes to it because they never once sought any changes to it. But Cowen and his cronies in Leinster House and in Brussels need to understand quite clearly that when we said No, we meant No. What part of No do these people not understand?”

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shell Spin Conference Disrupted

Attempts by Shell Oil to put a friendly face on its operations in County Mayo were scuppered by éirígí activists on Wednesday [June 17] when a Dublin press conference was disrupted.

The journalists and politicians who attended the conference were met by activists demanding the nationalisation of the Corrib gas field and an end to Shell’s brutal assaults on the Erris community.

éirígí members challenge Shell's PR team

Shell’s hastily convened spin operation was called in the wake of the hijacking and sinking of a Mayo fisherman’s boat by a number of unidentified masked men. The hurried nature of the event suggested that their PR machine was attempting to upstage a press conference to be held the following day by the fisherman in question, Pat O’Donnell, during which he was due to give further details of the attack.

O’Donnell has been prominent in the last number of years in opposing Shell’s project in Erris and has rejected any overtures at coming to an accommodation with the company. The sinking of his boat follows the recent assault on fellow local and anti-Shell activist Willie Corduff, also by a group of masked men.

Speaking at the event, éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír said: “Shell’s press conference was merely an attempt to spin its way out of culpability in the recent attacks against the people of north-west Mayo and justify the attempted exploitation of the natural resources in Corrib.

“These attacks, including the hijacking and sinking of Pat O’Donnell’s boat, constitute an attack on the rights of Irish citizens.

“The attacks are, of course, typical of Shell’s internationally renowned modus operandi of bullying, intimidation and human rights abuses. A casual glance at Shell’s recent history provides plenty of evidence. Only last week, Shell was forced to pay $15 million compensation to the Ogoni people of Nigeria for their collusion with the military regime in human rights abuses.

Liz McManus is confronted about Shell“The Ogoni community’s success in demonstrating Shell’s complicity in torture and murder carried out by a military junta should provide a wake up call to those in Ireland who have chosen to ignore the company’s destructive and increasingly sinister activities in Mayo.

“At the heart of Shell’s behaviour lies their greed. The Corrib gas field contains billions of euro worth of natural gas. In Shell’s estimation, intimidation, assault and hijackings are a legitimate means of accessing these resources.

“The Dublin government has an obligation to protect the economic interests of the Irish people by nationalising the Corrib gas field, ensuring the retention of billions of euro in the public coffers. They also have a duty to protect Irish citizens against attack by hired thugs.

“After all, the resources that lie buried in Corrib belong to the people of Ireland, not a private company.”

And in a another development yet another discovery of hydrocarbon natural resources has been made off the west coast of Ireland.

On Tuesday, June 9, Serica Energy, a British-owned company, announced the discovery of oil off the Mayo coastline.

The find, located approximately 40km south of the Corrib gas field, is the latest in a series of such discoveries off the west coast. In recent years, both foreign and indigenous corporations have been granted drilling licences to explore Ireland’s coastlines for natural resources, with many of them proving successful. There is estimated to be hundreds of billions of euro worth of oil and gas in Irish territorial waters.

Serica hold the exploration license for the Slyne basin

However, due to the slavish actions of the Twenty-Six County government, the people of Ireland will fail to benefit from these natural resources in any substantial way. Under the current deal, the Irish people receive no royalties and no percentage share from any oil and gas harvested. So poor is the current deal that even a reduction in the retail price of any oil and gas discovered or guarantees on employment opportunities do not exist.

The most recent discovery will prove no different. The profits from whatever oil is extracted from the find will merely swell the coffers of Serica Energy, while the Irish people will be forced to buy back the oil at full cost price.

In a statement typical of the fawning attitude that the Dublin government has adopted towards the multinational energy companies, minister of state Conor Lenihan managed to mention that he hoped the find would “lead to further commercial activity within the licensed area involved”.

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “The discovery of yet another potential source of energy off the Irish coastline should come as good news. The financial potential that this find, and others like it hold, is massive, with potential profits in the tens of billions. Sadly, however, these profits will not benefit the Irish people. Instead, they will simply add to the bank balances of the multinationals.

“The response of the Twenty-Six County government to this discovery has been pathetic. The best response that Conor Lenihan can summon is a statement which amounts to cheerleading for the further private exploitation of Irish natural resources.

“Ireland’s natural resources don’t belong to Serica, Shell, Providence Resources or any other private company, foreign or indigenous – they belong to the people of Ireland. This fact has been conveniently forgotten by the politicians whose goal in life seems to be to curry favour with the business class.

“éirígí repeats its call for the establishment of a state-owned national exploration company, whose task it would be to discover and harvest the natural resources of Ireland for the benefit of the people of Ireland.”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Know Your Enemy!

Know Your Enemy!

At 10.30am on June 27th Britain's 'Armed Forces Day' flag will be raised over Belfast city hall. éirígí is organising a public protest in opposition to this blatant attempt to normalise Britain's occupation of the Six Counties. The protest will begin at 10am. Bígí Linn. Click here for more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oppose Britain’s ‘Armed Forces Day’

'Armed Forces Day' Flag to Fly on Belfast City HallConcerned at falling recruitment rates to its army, air force and navy and spooked by growing disgust at its contemporary wars of conquest, Downing Street has decided on a propaganda stunt of ‘shock and awe’ proportions in the form of an official ‘Armed Forces Day’.

Rarely has the scene been better set for a display of jingoism than that which will occur on June 27 – the day chosen for the ‘honouring’ of one of the world’s most murderous militaries.

Last year, the United Nations estimated that the US-British led coalition in Afghanistan directly killed at least 2,000 civilians. This year that figure is expected to rise considerably.

In Iraq it is estimated that a minimum of one million Iraqis have lost their lives as a direct consequence of the US-British led invasion and occupation.

In graveyards across Ireland the names of those who have lost their lives at the hands of Britain’s military adorn countless headstones.

To be trampling on the graves of the global victims of British imperialist violence in London, Birmingham and Manchester is bad enough. To be doing so in Belfast and Carrickfergus only adds insult to injury for the hundreds of Irish families who have lost loved ones as a result of the actions of the British military.

For those who claim that the British military no longer have an active role in Britain’s occupation of Ireland the facts speak for themselves.

More than 5,000 British combat troops remain permanently stationed in military bases across occupied Ireland.

In 2007, the British army garrison in the Six Counties had its ‘emergency’ repressive powers of stop and search, arrest and property seizure legislated into permanency.

In 2009, it was announced that British army ‘special forces’ were once again operating in occupied Ireland – that is, if they had ever gone away.

éirígí rallied against the RIR paradeIn an Irish context, this is what British Armed Forces Day is all about – attempting to make the unacceptable acceptable.

Like the establishment of the puppet parliament at Stormont, the regular visits of Elizabeth Windsor and the parading of the RIR through Belfast in November 2008, Britain’s ‘Armed Forces Day’ will be used in a vain attempt to normalise the occupation of the Six Counties.

This is why éirígí will be actively opposing British Armed Forces Day. In the words of James Connolly: “Britain has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland and never can have any right in Ireland.”

The Six Counties are not and never will be part of the ‘United Kingdom’. They remain what they have always been – an integral part of Ireland’s national territory.

Those who would hope to use Britain’s ‘Armed Forces Day’ to demonstrate the ‘normality’ of the British occupation must be opposed. Days such as June 27 should become rallying points for supporters of Irish freedom and democracy.

Let the images of protest, resistance and dissent replace those of ‘normality’ and subjugation.

Bígí Linn!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

European Union support for Colombia and Israel ignored by politicians

Over recent weeks we have all seen what has passed for debate in the European election campaign. However, completely absent from this debate has been the role of the European Union (EU) in bankrolling terror states involved in gross human rights abuses, political repression, torture, murder and other breaches of International law.

Particularly reprehensible has been the EU’s decision to maintain and upgrade, favoured trading status with both Colombia and Israel, regimes that violate International law on a daily basis.

In Colombia, trade unionists, political opponents and human rights activists all face intimidation, arbitary detention, kidnapping, torture and murder at the hands of the Colombian regime or their right wing death squad allies. Last year, over 40 Trade Union activists were murdered. Already this year, 19 more Union activists have been slaughtered.

Israel continues its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the building of its illegal annexation wall. The inhumane siege of Gaza continues as the civilian population increasingly struggle to get food and essential medicines to survive. The Israeli military continue bombing the area, obliterating the remnants of an already destroyed economy and infrastructure. During their recent invasion of Gaza, Israel committed countless war crimes, deliberately bombing civilian targets, killing more than a thousand Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of young children.

Rather than cutting all ties with Israel, imposing sanctions on them and seeking to bring those responsible for the war crimes committed against the Palestinian people to justice, Israel has been allowed to retain favoured trading status with the EU.

By doing so, the EU are bankrolling the Colombian and Israeli terror regimes and éirígí believe they are complicit in the human rights abuses and war crimes committed by these states. That this scandalous situation is deemed unworthy of being debated by the candidates exposes the shallowness of the claims of a commitment to human rights which occasionally emenate from the EU and its politicians. Their silence shames them all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Don’t bankroll Israeli terrorism – Boycott Israeli goods

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has called on Supermarkets in the Sligo area not to stock Israeli goods in their stores. He also has urged the public to refuse to buy such Israeli produce and to complain to management where such goods are for sale.

He was commenting after speaking to and writing to the management of a number of supermarkets in the Sligo area asking them to remove Israeli products which they are currently selling, specifically Jaffa oranges as well as organic potatoes and carrots. While some of the shops in question have now taken the Israeli products off their shelves, a number of other outlets have so far refused to do so.

Casey said: “I discovered in recent weeks that a number of supermarkets in Sligo were selling products of Israeli origin. Among the produce being sold were oranges, potatoes and carrots of Israeli origin, including items being sold under the supermarkets own brand names. I have spoken to and written to the management of the stores in question asking them to cease this practice, which effectively is helping to bankroll Israeli state terrorism and the continued occupation of Palestine. Some of the shops have withdrawn all the Israeli produce from their shelves. However, we are still awaiting a response from the other supermarkets who have so far refused to withdraw these products from their shelves.”

He added: “éirígí is calling publicly on these stores, and all other retailers in the region, to refuse to sell Israeli produce in their stores. éirígí is also urging the general public to be vigilant and to check the country of origin on all the produce they buy. Where they discover Israeli goods being sold, I would urge them to refuse to buy them, to complain to the management of the stores in question and to contact éirígí or the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign to make us aware of what Israeli items are being sold and where they are being sold.”

Casey concluded: “This is an opportunity for people to take practical measures that can make a difference, similar to what happened with the boycott of apartheid-era South African goods. It is an opportunity for people to express their abhorrence at the crimes committed by the Israeli state on the civilian population of Palestine and to show their support for the rights of Palestinian people to secure peace, justice and freedom. Don’t help fund Israeli terrorism. Boycott all Israeli goods.”