Thursday, April 29, 2010

May Day protest in Sligo - Resist the cuts

This Saturday, May 1, a demonstration has been organised in Sligo to protest against the Dublin government public service cutbacks. The protest, which takes place at 12 noon outside the offices of Sligo/North Leitrim Fianna Fáil TD Jimmy Devins in John Street, has been organised by the newly formed Sligo Workers Alliance.

Over the past 12 – 18 months there has been a systematic campaign by the administration in Leinster House and employers to reduce workers pay and living standards and to erode many of their hard earned rights and working conditions. Particularly abhorrent has been their attempt, cheered on by large sections of a compliant corporate media, to pit private sector workers against public sector workers.

Yet at the same time as they are imposing these cuts and slashing essential health and education services, they are pumping tens of billions of euros to bail out the banks through NAMA. This makes it all the more appalling that what passes for leadership in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have sold out their members once again by negotiating the Croke Park public sector pay and reform agreement with the Fianna Fáil led administration at the end of last month.

Speaking in advance of the demonstration éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey urged trade union members to reject the Croke Park pay deal and urged all workers and the unemployed to support and participate in Saturday's protest.

Casey said: “The economic crisis this state is now in was not created by workers or by social welfare recipients. It was brought about by the greed and corruption of the wealthy political and business elite on this island. Workers and the unemployed must not now be made pay for it and any attempt to do so needs to be vigorously resisted."

Casey added: “The decision therefore of ICTU leaders to agree to the Croke Park pay deal at the end of March with the government is truly shameful and a betrayal of the interests of trade union members and indeed of all workers. It is astonishing that these people, who claim to represent the interests of their members, could agree to a deal that would have such a negative impact on the living standards and working conditions of public sector workers, would have major implications for their ability to take industrial action and would massively reduce the effectiveness of public services. Indeed, privatisation is inevitable in the public service unless a strong and defiant stand is now taken.”

“All of these cuts – cuts in pay, cuts in social welfare, cuts in essential public services such as health and education - are not only unjust in that they impact disproportionally on the less well off and low paid workers, but they are also completely unnecessary. The real agenda here is an ideological one. It is about taking on the trade unions and reducing their power and effectiveness and reducing workers pay and conditions in order to bail out the banks and to boost profits for employers.”

“Workers in the private sector who believe the right wing propaganda and swallow the line that cuts in public sector are necessary should examine very closely at what is happening. If these cuts are not reversed and further cuts are imposed, not only will it seriously damage the long term effectiveness of our public services which impacts on the lives of all workers, but the government and the employers will use it to drive down wages and conditions even further within the private sector. It will be used to drive down the minimum wage, minimum rates of pay and social welfare payments also.”

“The gains achieved for workers over the decades have never been granted willingly. They have always had to be taken by workers themselves. This battle is no different. This is a battle that will not be won by union leaders cosying up to the Dublin government and to employers. It will only be won by determined and sustained action in the workplace and on the streets.”

Casey concluded: “These cuts must be resisted vigorously. All workers and the unemployed should mobilise for Saturdays demonstration and let the government and the so-called “leadership” of the trade union movement that they have had enough and will not be made to pay for the failures of capitalism, for the greed and incompetence of the political and business classes and to bail out the banks. Resist the cuts – Resist the Croke Park pay deal.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

McDaid's arrogance and hypocrisy exposed in pension row

éirígí Tír Chonaill spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has accused Fianna Fáil North East TD Jim McDaid of “arrogance” and “staggering hypocrisy”. His comments came following McDaid's refusal to stop drawing down a ministerial pension despite still still being in receipt of his salary as a TD.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: “The arrogance of Deputy McDaid knows no bounds. Despite the fact that he continues to receive a massive salary and expenses from his role as a TD in Leinster House, McDaid insists that he is entitled to receive a Ministerial pension and refuses to relinquish that income.”

He added: “Indeed, in act of staggering hypocrisy, McDaid goes on to accuse those challenging his position of engaging in a 'witch hunt'. Yet this is the same Deputy who had no hesitation in taking part and supporting his party's witch hunt against public sector workers and social welfare recipients.”

“McDaid insists on keeping his extravagant salary, expenses and pension. Yet he has been an enthusiastic supporter of cutbacks in workers pay, in social welfare and in essential health and education budgets, as evident by his complete support of the most recent and savage budget imposed by his party.”

“From his ivory tower, he has also publicly sought to heap further misery on low paid workers, demanding to have the minimum wage reduced from its already low level.”

He concluded: “His arrogance and hypocrisy is typical of this administrations attitude to the Irish people. Workers and social welfare recipients did not create the current economic crisis which has resulted in mass unemployment, 21,000+ here in Donegal, and emigration from our shores once again. Yet McDaid and Fianna Fáil want them to pay the price for their economic policies in order to maintain the wealthy and extravagant lifestyle that he and his political and business cronies have become accustomed to.”

Donegal on Sunday (2/5/10) newspaper coverage of this story can be viewed here

Lack of Leitrim child sex abuse services condemned

Revelations that County Leitrim has no dedicated therapeutic service for children who have been sexually abused has been described by local éirígí activist Gerry Casey as an "outrageous scandal" and he has demanded the immediate provision of such services.

He was speaking following the revelation in this weeks Sunday Tribune newspaper which showed that a number of counties, including Leitrim, have no dedicated service, with many other counties only providing partial services for those in need. The information was contained in a confidential Health Service Executive (HSE) audit, obtained by the Sunday Tribune.

Casey said: “The failure of the HSE and the Dublin government to provide a dedicated therapeutic service in County Leitrim, and a number of other counties around the country, for young children who have been sexually abused is an outrageous scandal.”

He added: “These are extremely vulnerable children who are after going through hell. These kids are in need of immediate access to specialist assistance and resources to help them deal and survive the abuse they are after enduring. That the state will not provide the funding and resources to have the necessary dedicated therapeutic service in County Leitrim and elsewhere is unforgiveable and must be immediately rectified.”

“Once again the warped priorities of this administration are exposed. They have no hesitation in pumping tens of billions of Euros into bailing out the banks, yet they impose savage cuts in the health service and they refuse to adequately fund essential services such as these dedicated therapeutic services.”

Casey concluded: “This just confirms once again their contempt and lack of compassion for the most vulnerable sections of society. In this instance it is young children who having suffered betrayal at the hands of their abuser, when they require the necessary specialist assistance, find they are betrayed by the state also, by being denied the level of care they require and deserve.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

éirígí occupation of Anglo Irish Bank 24th April 2010

Green Attempts to Impose Water Tax will be Resisted

John  GormleyThe announcement by Green Party leader and Twenty-Six County environment minister John Gormley that the Dublin government plans to commence installing domestic water meters and to introduce water charges will come as no surprise to many.

The McCarthy Report, published last July, recommended the introduction of water charges for domestic users and, since its publication, the Dublin government has treated this neo-liberal program of savage cuts to public services as an article of faith. As predicted last December (Water Charges: The Battle Commences), the Dublin government is attempting to soften up public opinion by using water conservation and job creation in a cynical attempt to justify the introduction of what amounts to a double tax on already hard pressed working class households.

However, it seems the Green Party ‘commitment’ to recycling is not just restricted to refuse and waste. It appears party leader Gormley has engaged in a bit of recycling when announcing, to much media fanfare, a ‘new investment’ of €1.8 billion [£1.6 billion] in water infrastructure. It’s an old trick that he has obviously picked up from his Fianna Fáil colleagues in government.

Just three years ago, the Dublin government’s National Development Plan (2007-2013) committed spending of €4.75 billion [£4.15 billion] in the Water Services Sub-Program. The first point of this sub-program emphasised that it would be used to ensure “good quality drinking water is available to all consumers of public and group water supplies in compliance with national and EU drinking water standards, including any infrastructural improvements required to meet the 2013 parameter for the presence of lead in drinking waste”.

The Dublin government’s failure to invest in maintaining and upgrading the water supply infrastructure ensured that tens of thousands of households across the Twenty-Six Counties were forced to endure weeks without water, as the creaking infrastructure was unable to withstand the cold snap last January.

Households are not responsible for the chronic waste of water; rather the Twenty-Six County government’s refusal to invest in maintaining and installing water pipes has resulted in an unspecified amount of water being lost through leaking pipes. This fact came to light in the 2008 Local Government Management Services Board on Service Indicators in Local Authorities, which revealed that two-thirds of local authorities in the state lost 40 per cent of water through leaking pipes. It begs the question as to what other ‘commitments’ in the Development Plan have been quietly dropped.

Water tapJohn Gormley’s announcement of investment in water infrastructure is little more than window dressing, designed to provide cover for the introduction of a new water tax. In addition, Gormley argued that the installation of domestic water meters would create thousands of new jobs, a point some in the corporate media quickly latched on to. With almost 500,000 currently unemployed in the Twenty-Six Counties, this is a cynical attempt to buy public support for proposals that will burden households with an additional tax. Yet, this is the same government that is proposing to slash 17,000 jobs in the public sector and has pointedly refused to invest in a public works program, preferring instead to pump billions into propping up a failed banking system and rescuing the parasite class of property speculators and developers.

Given that the Water Services Act 2007 makes provision for water services to be ‘contracted out’, there is no doubt that private companies will be awarded the lucrative contract to install domestic water meters. This is not surprising given that the further opening of the public sector to private investment is the neo-liberal way of rescuing capitalism from perpetual crisis.

While there is a need to invest in water conservation measures, water meters are not the solution. They are simply a monumental waste of public money, which have been proven to add nothing to conservation. Indeed, Gormley’s colleagues in Fianna Fáil presided over a regime for over a decade, during which their developer friends were provided with massive tax incentives to build over 800,000 housing units, with absolutely no measures taken to install water conservation instruments such as dual flush toilets or rain water and grey water gathering devices. Their cynical conversion to water conservation should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

It should also be noted that, as has happened across Europe, the installation of water meters and the imposition of a water tax are simply the initial steps in the privatisation of the public water supply. It is clear that Fianna Fáil and the Green Party intend to provide a new market in which their private business wing can invest in the future.

The battle against the water tax has commenced. éirígí is committed to the campaign against the water tax and is part of the Anti-Water Tax campaign which was launched in Dublin last February.

Over the coming months we intend, along with working class communities and other left wing groups, to play a full and active part in defeating this double tax and ensuring that the domestic water supply remains in public hands.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

éirígí Sligeach mark 1916 anniversary with launch of "NAMA Proclamation"

Today, Saturday April 24, the anniversary of the 1916 Rising, éirígí Sligeach marked the occasion by launching its “Proclamation of the NAMA Republic”, a satirical version of the 1916 Proclamation. The document is an effort by éirígí to expose the reality of modern day Ireland, where greed and inequality reigns supreme, where the wealthy business and political elite are a power unto themselves and where the vision contained within the 1916 Proclamation has been completely abandoned.

Speaking at the launch outside Irish Nationwide bank in Sligo at 12 midday on Saturday, exactly ninety fours years to the minute after Padraig Pearse read aloud the 1916 Proclamation at the GPO in Dublin proclaiming the Irish Republic, local éirígí activist Gerry Casey said:

The social and national ideals contained within the Proclamation of 1916 have been completely abandoned by the political establishment, north and south of the border. The British occupation and partition continues, with British troops and a British police force continuing to engage in the repression of the nationalist community and all those opposed to the continuing occupation and the human rights abuses being committed by the occupation forces.”

He added: “Mass unemployment continues. Thousands of our young people are being forced to emigrate, unable to survive following massive cuts in their social welfare payments. Poverty is on the increase. Savage cuts have been imposed in our local health and education services.”

The choice of location for the launch was symbolic. Irish Nationwide, the bank brought to its knees by Sligoman Micheal Fingleton, along with other financial institutions are being being bailed out with tax-payers money to the tune of at least €70 billion.”

Fingleton, who is one of the signatories on éirígí's “NAMA Proclamation”, received a €1 million bonus from Irish Nationwide in spite of the bank receiving €2.7 billion in tax payers money. His bonus and the bank bail out billions is money that should have been spent creating jobs, eradicating poverty and reversing the cutbacks in pay, social welfare, health and education. Instead it will go to line the pockets of private bankers across Europe and beyond.”

Instead of the Republic envisioned in 1916, what we have is a partitioned Ireland, continuing British occupation, social inequality, increasing poverty, and a two tier society.”

Following the launch outside Irish Nationwide, éirígí activists distributed copies of the "NAMA Proclamation" at the entrance to Tesco in Wine Street car park.

Speaking as they distributed these proclamations, Casey said: “We have begun to distribute these proclamations here in the city centre and door to door in the Sligo area and will continue doing so in the coming weeks. We aim to make people aware of the full extent of what NAMA and ever more cutbacks planned to fund these bank bail outs will mean for families in working class communities.”

He concluded: “There is a stark choice facing Irish society now. It can accept the NAMA Republic and proceed with the failed capitalist system that led us into this economic wasteland and is guaranteed to lead us back there once again. Or it can mobilise to smash the NAMA Republic and build a new Ireland based on the vision of the 1916 Proclamation. One that is based on public ownership, that respects workers rights, that ensures health and education services based on a person's need, not their wealth, and a decent standard of living for all.”

The ‘Proclamation of the NAMA Republic’ can be viewed here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Direct Action at Anglo Irish Bank

Six éirígí activists, including Dublin city councillor Louise Minihan, have this morning locked themselves inside the headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank in Dublin.

Inside Anglo Irish

The protest, timed to coincide with the 94th anniversary of the Easter Rising, is part of éirígí’s day of action against NAMA and the pro-wealthy policies of the Dublin government.

éirígí activists and supporters are set to gather outside Anglo Irish Bank at 12pm for a demonstration.

Distributing the NAMA Proclamation

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “Ireland is in crisis. Half a million people are unemployed while thousands more are emigrating. All the while the Dublin government is trying desperately to save the banks and the business class, while workers suffer.

Set  the People Free

“Drastic action must be taken to oppose these anti-social policies. Today’s action has been taken in this spirit. éirígí is calling on community groups, trade unions and every organisation that represents working people to take similar action to bring this appalling situation to an end.”

Remembering 1916

Ninety four years ago today (April 24) at 12 noon, Pádraig Pearse stood outside the GPO on O'Connell Street in Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic. It was a defining moment in Irish history, particularly for Irish republicans and socialists.

Despite facing overwhelming odds, it was a direct challenge to the might of the British Empire, a challenge to their occupation of our country and a challenge to the repression and denial of basic human, civil and political rights to the Irish people.

It was a challenge for which those brave men and women of the Irish Volunteers and James Connolly's Irish Citizen army, who took part in the Rising of Easter Week, were to pay a heavy price, both in the fighting that took place and in the subsequent British reprisals. The civilian population of Dublin also suffered heavy casualties with hundreds killed and injured by British troops during Easter week.

Sixty four of those who took part in the uprising were killed in action. Fifteen, including all seven signatories of the Proclamation, were executed by firing squads. Roger Casement was also subsequently hanged at Pentonville Prison in August of that year. Almost 1500 others were interned in prison camps within England and Wales.

Over the course of Easter week, and during this week when the actual anniversary occurs, as well as Republicans, other political parties ranging from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael through to Sinn Féin will have commemorated these events and those who took part in them. So what exactly were the men and women of 1916 fighting for and why exactly do virtually all political parties, bar unionists, commemorate and honour those who fought in Easter week?

The Proclamation is quite clear in its content.

We hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a sovereign Independent State.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.

The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

However, not only have these rights and aspirations not been achieved, many of those politicians and parties now paying tribute to the rising, have played an active role in opposing and subverting those ideals. By their actions and political decisions, they are actively assisting in the denial of the self determination and sovereignty aspired to by the 1916 proclamation.

The British occupation and partition continues. It is enforced on the ground in the six-counties by the heavily armed paramilitary police force the RUC/PSNI and by British troops, including undercover British army regiments, who remain active within the six-counties. The occupation is administered by the political establishments in the Stormont and Westminster regimes and supported and assisted by the regime in Leinster house.

The Ireland of today is not the Ireland fought for by the men and women of Easter week and subsequent generations of Republicans. Their objective was not a partitioned Ireland or a puppet parliament in Stormont or in Dublin. Their objective was not a two -tier Ireland where poverty is widespread and the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few to the detriment of working class people and working class communities the length and breadth of this island.

Their objective was not to see the giveaway of our natural resources to private multi-national companies to exploit and create profits, wealth that could and should be utilised for all of the Irish people. Their objective was not an island where the forces of the state, including the so-called forces of 'law and order' side with the wealthy political and business elite to deny local communities their rights and to stifle legitimate and peaceful protest through harrassment and intimidation.

Mass unemployment is once again rampant on this island. More than half a million people are now unemployed, with thousands more forced to emigrate once again to foreign shores in order to secure work and earn a living. This is particularly true for young people who have been particularly hard hit by savage cutbacks in social welfare payments, making it virtually impossible for any young person to survive while unemployed in this state.

The current recession has been used cynically by the Fianna Fáil led administration and by employers to further attack and undermine the pay and working conditions of workers, increasing hardship for low income families in the process.

Extremely harsh cutbacks in pay, social welfare and essential health and education services have all been imposed, with more planned, in order to bail out the banks and to protect the profits and the lavish lifestyle of the wealthy political and business elite.

Poverty is on the increase once again. According to an Institute of Public Health report from 2007, elderly people, the young and the ill continue to die in their thousands each winter due to preventable cold-related illness, while the Combat Poverty Agency made clear that people “who live in poverty are at greater risk of poor mental and physical health: they get sick more often and die younger than people who are better-off”.

The Central Statistics Office also revealed that in 2008 more than four per cent of people were still living in consistent poverty, with almost 15 per cent at risk of poverty. Almost a third of those living in consistent poverty were children.

All the figures above have, almost certainly, risen over the past 18 months as the recession kicked in and the latest budget cuts took effect. So much for adhering to the “cherishing all of the children of the nation equally” contained in the 1916 Proclamation.

Proclamation  of the NAMA Republic

And at the same time as they impose so much hardship on working class communities, they have pumped in the region of €70 billion through NAMA to bail out the banks that, along with the political classes, created the current economic crisis. Indeed, the true cost of NAMA for Irish tax-payers, is likely to rise above €100 billion as time goes on.

What passes for a government in Leinster House will be spending tens of billions of euros of our money to private banks when that money should be spent on health and education, on housing and jobs, on ending poverty and creating the Ireland envisioned in the 1916 proclamation.

But they have shown where their priorities lie as they deliberately chose to bail out their cronies in the banks. And in order to pay for that bail out, they deliberately chose to impose savage cutbacks on essential health and education services, on low paid workers, on the unemployed, on children, the elderly, the ill and those with special needs. In short, the most vulnerable in society, are being made to pay for the greed and the corruption of the wealthy political and business elite on this island.

So while politicians from all those parties stood during Easter Week and some will do so again this week, at the gravesides of those who died fighting for Irish freedom and an end to the British occupation of our country, the reality is that they have abandoned everything that those republicans, the likes of James Connolly and Liam Mellowes, fought and died for. Despite paying lip service to them, they have betrayed both the social and national ideals and the vision of the 1916 proclamation, as well as that of the Declaration of Independence and the Democatic programme adopted by the First Dáil in 1919.

Those who at one time opposed the British occupation now administer and enforce that occupation from Stormont in coalition with the DUP. Those who once opposed British policing in Ireland, now endorse and fully support the armed paramilitary RUC/PSNI, a force with an appalling human rights record, who continue to intimidate, assault and imprison nationalists and political activists opposed to British rule in Ireland. Those who once opposed British rule in Ireland describe those who continue to oppose the occupation and political repression by the forces of the British state as “traitors”.

But while the ideals and vision of the men and women of 1916 has been completely abandoned by those sitting in Stormont and Leinster House, as socialist republicans, éirígí remain as committed as ever to striving for and ultimately attaining the democratic socialist republic that so many have suffered imprisonment and death to achieve.

While many tributes have been paid to the volunteers of Easter Week, the only truly fitting tribute that can be paid to them will be the completion of their unfinished business. We will continue with our efforts to sow the seeds of socialist republicanism within working class communities once again on both sides of the border. While we acknowledge the difficult task that lies ahead of us, we will not be deflected from that task in the months and years ahead.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

éirígí condemn jailing of Shell to Sea activist Niall Harnett

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has condemned the latest jailing of a Shell to Sea campaigner describing it as unjust and another example of this states' attempts to criminalise those opposed to Shells pipeline in north Mayo.

Casey was responding to the sentencing of Niall Harnett, who received a 6-month sentence for going to the assistance of a fellow protester who was being assaulted by a Garda. He also received a 5-month sentence to run concurrently.

Casey said: “The jailing of Niall Harnett is totally unjustified. This is just the latest in a long line of attempts by the state to remove and jail key activists opposed to Shell's pipeline and the giveaway of our natural resources.”

He added: “Niall's jailing, as with the Rossport five, as with Maura Harrington on a number of occasions in the past and as with Pat O'Donnell who is also currently being held in Castlerea prison, is designed to disrupt the campaign to stop an unsafe pipeline being forced through the local community by Shell. It is the continuation of this states' attempts, at the behest of Shell, to suppress all forms of peaceful, legitimate protest by the local community.”

“These jailings and the policing of demonstrations against Shell have exposed the reality that this state has colluded at every level, political, policing and judicial, in denying their own citizens' basic civil and human rights, in order to protect the status quo and the interests, financial and ideological, of the wealthy political and business elite.”

He concluded: “The reign of Shell law and the intimidation, assault and jailing of activists engaged in legitimate protests in north Mayo must be ended. Niall Harnett should be released immediately, as should fellow Shell to Sea activist Pat O'Donnell. ”

Shannon Exporting Death and Destruction

Barack ObamaIn March of this year, US president Barack Obama thanked Ireland for its assistance in transporting troops to and from occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. Shannon Airport is now effectively a US military outpost.

The statistics are shocking and they seem to be getting worse all the time as the Twenty-Six County government believes its help for the USA’s imperial adventures in the Middle East is going unnoticed by Irish citizens.

In 2009, for example, 1,276 civilian flights were given permits for the transport of weapons and munitions through Ireland, with almost all of these travelling to and from the United States and through Shannon on military missions. On average, 25 US military flights [carrying approximately a weekly total of 5,000 US troops] are using Shannon each week. That’s over a quarter of a million troops a year transported through the airport.

Up until 2003, Dublin governments claimed to uphold the 1907 Hague Convention on Neutrality, which states that “belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power”.

So why has the Twenty-Six County government so publicly abandoned the concept of Irish neutrality? Is it for money? It doesn’t look like it. In 2009, the movement of US troops through Shannon was worth €7 million [£6.1 million] to the airport. Small beans to sell your neutrality for, especially when you consider that, in the same year, the Twenty-Six County state spent €3 million [£2.6 million] on a security bill to facilitate the US military entourage.

In total since 2005, it has been claimed that over €35 million [£30 million] has been made, with the consequent security costs in the region of €15 million [£13 million]. Making the Twenty-Six Counties a client state cost the US the bargain price of €20 million [£17.4 million million]. That works out at around €80 [£70] a head for every child that has lost their lives as a result of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

As well as the brutal reality of Ireland’s role in these wars, the situation in Shannon has given rise to some strange goings on. Below are some of most thought provoking:

US plane in ShannonUS Military Base in Ireland: Spain, England, Germany and Japan have them, so the best paid politicians in the world were probably wondering why Ireland hadn’t got one. What are we talking about? US military bases, of course.

The concept of neutrality was promptly ditched and a quarter of a million US troops now travel through Shannon Airport each year and, to give the whole thing the feel of an authentic US military base, two soldiers have, since 2003, been permanently based at Shannon with approval from the Leinster House careerists.

Are the RAF now also using Shannon Airport: The simple answer is that it would seem so. On September 5 last year, at least two containers marked as property of the RAF beside a chartered Omni Air International plane at Shannon were spotted by vigilant anti war activists. One of the containers that sat near the Omni Air plane was marked “Property of RAF Brize Norton”. RAF Brize Norton is the home of the RAF's strategic air transport and air-to-air refuelling forces. This is the most important British military base for maintaining the occupation of Afghanistan and is the main transport base for sending troops and supplies in and out of the country.

White Phosphorous: The use of white phosphorous in warfare is illegal under the Geneva Convention; the chemical burns right through human skin and can burn the bone and through vital organs. The fact that it has a tendency to stick to skin makes it all the more dangerous. When it sets fire to buildings water won’t put it out.

However, the USA has, in recent years, used white phosphorous in Fallujah in Iraq, while the Israeli army used it in munitions during the 2009 attacks on the Gaza Strip. In both cases, civilians were killed and, despite efforts to cover up the effects and the reasons for its use, it can be plainly stated that white phosphorous was used with a full knowledge of the effect it would have.

Reports from January 2009, suggest that Shannon airport was used by the US military to transport some of this deadly material to the Middle East. A C-130 Hercules landed at Shannon on January 8. Activists monitoring the airport noted unusual modifications to the loading equipment at the back of the plane. The plane in question was based at Little Rock Air Force base in Arkansas, only a short distance from the facility at Pine Bluff in the same state, which is the US military’s only active manufacturing plant for white phosphorous.

Mystery Cargoes: On January 25 2009, a US Navy C-9B Skytrain logistics plane was reported to have landed at Shannon. By law, the plane should have had its registration number on display. The number was incomplete, with four digits missing, but, more importantly, there was a detachment of Twenty-Six County soldiers guarding it. At the same time, another airplane with 300 US soldiers was parked at the airport but it required no protection. What was the cargo that required such special attention?

Imperialists Out of IrelandAttacks on Gaza: Activists Shannon Watch also reported that a plane registered to Kalitta Air landed in Shannon on December 20 and 22 2008, only days before the commencement of the viscous Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. Kalitta is known to transport munitions around the world for the US Air Force. In 2006, the same airline delivered laser-guided bombs to Israel to be used in the war against Lebanon; these bombs were transited through Prestwick airport in Scotland without clearance. As a result, there are good grounds to suspect that Kalitta's trips through Shannon have been for supplying Israel with more tools of death and destruction.

Torture: Activists have documented the occasional transit of aircraft associated with the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ program through Shannon. Sightings by activists of a Gulfstream jet registered N379P at the airport played a vital role in exposing the international network of airports involved in the now notorious torture program. In one case, N379P refuelled at Shannon on July 22 2002, the day after it transported Binyam Mohamed to Rabat, Morocco to be tortured.

Reporting Crime: On June 18 2008, Edward Horgan of Shannon Watch approached the security hut at the entrance of Shannon Airport. He was reporting a very serious crime – torture. At that very moment, a plane that had left the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention facility the day before – registration N54PA – was parked in the airport grounds. Instead of investigating the possibility of a crime (three different Gardaí refused to do this), they charged Horgan with trespassing and obstructing them in their jobs.

Twenty-Six County state aids and abets kidnappers: 23 CIA agents and two Italians were convicted on November 24 2009 of the kidnapping in 2003 of Muslim cleric Abu Omar. The 23 were sentenced to over 115 years in prison for the crime. The plane used to transport the kidnapped cleric refuelled at Shannon on its return flight, as it brought him to be tortured by US agents. The Dublin government doesn’t seem to care that it has helped in the kidnap and torture of this man and continues to facilitate every US military request.

In the major war crimes of the 21st Century – in Afghanistan, in Iraq and Palestine – Ireland has been complicit as a result of both the actions and inaction of the criminal clique in power in Leinster House. The Irish people are the only ones who can restore this country’s reputation as an exporter of international solidarity – first on the agenda must be the removal of the USA from Shannon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Release Martin Corey

Breandán Mac Cionnaithéirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith has condemned the arrest on Friday [April 16] of former republican political prisoner Martin Corey from Lurgan and the revoking of his license by the British secretary of state.

Mac Cionnaith said: “The arrest and re-imprisonment of Martin Corey amounts to nothing less than internment by the back door. Almost 18 years after his release from Long Kesh in 1992, Martin has been put under arbitrary arrest and imprisoned without charge and without trial.

“Martin Corey is a very well-known, respected and industrious member of the community in Lurgan. His arrest and imprisonment without any charges or so-called evidence having been preferred against him demonstrates the shallowness of the devolution of justice powers to the Six County administration.

“This is nothing less than an outright example of political policing and political imprisonment.”

Mac Cionnaith concluded: “All those who believe in justice and who seek to uphold civil and human rights should join in the demand for Martin’s immediate release.”

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Israeli Embassy protest demands release of Palestinian political prisoners

The annual Palestinian prisoners day (April 17) was marked in Dublin with a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy. The protest was jointly organised by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and éirígí.

It was part of a series of events being held in the Palestinian territories and worldwide to highlight the appalling conditions under which Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli jails and to demand their immediate release. Demonstrations were held throughout the West Bank, east Jerusalem and in Gaza, where a protest and 24 hour fast were held at the offices of the Red Cross.

The Palestinian Prisoner day protests took place within hours of the death of Palestinian prisoner Raed Abu Hamad in his cell at Eshel Prison. Hamad, who was serving a ten year sentence, had been in solitary confinement for the past 18 months and, according to his lawyer, had been continually denied medical treatment.

In the region of 7000 Palestinians are believed to be currently incarcerated in appalling conditions in Israeli jails. Around 300 of those are in what is known as "administrative detention" - in short, they have been interned without trial.

Those prisoners who were ‘convicted’ did not receive fair trials as they were subject to Israeli military law and had their cases heard in biased non-jury military courts, making a mockery of Israel's claims to be a 'liberal democracy'. Among those detained are around 300 children, and according to human rights organisations, that figure is on the increase.

Speaking at the demonstration was éirígí spokesperson Dáithí MacAn Mhaistir and IPSC spokesperson Freda Mullin Hughes. While the demonstration at the Israeli embassy demanded the release of ALL Palestinian political prisoners, both speakers paid a particular focus on the cases of two individuals abducted and held as prisoners by Israel in order to highlight the ill-treatment of Palestinians at the hands of the zionist states' so-called 'justice' system.

Ahmad Sa’adat, general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, (PFLP) was abducted by security officials of the Palestinian Authority in January 2002 at Israel's behest and interned without trial. Israeli forces laid siege to the prison where he was being held in March 2006 and proceeded to kidnap Sa’adat and five comrades of his.

Ahmad Sa’adat

A member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Sa'adat received a 30 years jail term following a trial in an Israeli court in 2008. His convictions included membership of the PFLP, holding a post in that organisation which is prohibited by Israel, and incitement. The incitement charge related to a speech he made back in 2001 after Israel's assassination of his predecessor, Abu Ali Mustafa.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah is co-ordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall. Bil’in has come to international attention because of a five-year long campaign of non-violent resistance to Israel’s attempt to build a stretch of its Apartheid Wall through the village.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah

In December 2009, the Israeli military carried out a night time raid on Bil'in during which they abducted Abdallah from his home. They proceeded to charge him with a number of offences including 'incitement', of ‘organising and participating in demonstrations without a permit’, and of ‘possession of arms’. The 'possession' charge relates to an exhibition which Abdallah organised of bullets and grenades that the Israeli military have used against protestors in Bil’in.

According to éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey, who participated in the demonstration, it was important to hold a show of solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners.

He said: "The treatment of Palestinian political prisoners, both in the manner of their detention, and the abuse and torture, both physical and psychological, that they suffer once in detention, is appalling. It is important that we extend our solidarity with those prisoners and their families and let them know that their cause is not forgotten and will not be forgotten."

He added: "It is also particularly important to highlight to the public at large, here in Ireland and around the world, the plight of these prisoners and the Palestinian people in general, at the hands of the Israeli zionist regime. These prisoners should not be in jail. They have been imprisoned for resisting the illegal occupation and theft of their land and resources, and the human rights abuses and atrocities that come with that brutal and inhumane occupation. "

He concluded: " We must all intensify our efforts on these prisoners' behalf to ensure that, not only do they secure their freedom from Israeli captivity, but that the Palestinian people as a whole obtain their freedom from Israeli occupation and secure a viable, free and independent Palestine that has been denied them for so long."

For more photos from Saturday's protest click here