Saturday, July 31, 2010

Petition: Thousands demand that Dunnes stop stocking Israeli goods

Click here to view original article courtesy of Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC)

On Thursday last (July 29) the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) delivered a petition to Dunnes Stores signed by over 6,000 shoppers across Ireland. The petition demands that Dunnes Stores stop stocking Israeli products, until Israel respects Palestinian rights and international law. Present at the handing-in were Brendan Archbold, the trade union official at the centre of the 1980s Dunnes strike when workers refused to handle South African goods, Freda Hughes IPSC National Chairperson, Aengus O'Snodaigh TD of Sinn Fein along with supporters of the campaign and members of both the Palestinian and South African communities in Ireland.

The petition has been signed by over 6,000 shoppers in a two-week blitz that has seen Palestine solidarity activists enlist the support of Dunnes’ customers across the country. Signatures have flooded in from Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Derry, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny, Newry, Wexford, Waterford, Bantry, Gorey, Enniscorthy, and Sligo. In many locations around the country, solidarity activists presented their local Dunnes' managers with copies of the petitions they have collected.

This campaign comes a quarter-century after Dunnes was at the centre of a bitter two-year campaign of boycott and pickets, when it sacked a group of workers who refused to handle South African goods.

Freda Hughes IPSC Chairperson holding 6,000 signatures calling on Dunnes to stop stocking Israeli produce
Freda Hughes IPSC Chairperson holding 6,000 signatures calling on Dunnes to stop stocking Israeli produce

"Dunnes was on the wrong side of history, siding with the South African apartheid regime against its own workers,"  Freda Hughes, IPSC Chairperson, said. "This is a chance for it to put itself on the right side of history. Israel's treatment of Palestinians amounts to nothing short of Apartheid. We must not ignore the lessons of South Africa and how apartheid was ended there – essentially it jumped before it was pushed. The boycott campaign can, and should, be used to isolate Israel both figuratively and literally until such a time as it complies fully with international law and ends its Apartheid regime in Palestine. We are not asking consumers to boycott Dunnes Stores. We are asking Dunnes Stores, and consumers islandwide, to boycott Israeli goods and services. This campaign is not designed to negatively affect Irish jobs."

IPSC activists collect signatures in Sligo (July 10)

Ms. Hughes
continued," We are delighted to see representatives from both the Palestinian and South African communities here today to show their solidarity and call for progressive steps to be taken in ending Israeli Aparthied and its abuse of human rights in the region. We are asking Dunnes to show its support for human rights and justice by refusing to stock Israeli goods just as the US chain-store Olympia Food Co-op in Washington State did last week."

Brendan Archbold
said, "The parallels between the old Apartheid regime of South Africa and the state of Israel are quite striking. Just as South African forces shot and killed their own people in Sharpeville and Uitenhage, so too do the Israeli military adopt a shoot-to-kill policy whether it is in relation to the Palestinian people themselves or those peaceful supporters of the Palestinians aboard the international flotilla recently attacked by Israel."

Brendan Archbold calls for Dunnes to boycott Israeli produce
Brendan Archbold calls for Dunnes to boycott Israeli produce

Aengus O'Snodaigh spoke of his support for this campaign and said,"Israel has a long history of human rights abuses against the people of Palestine, and it believes it is beyond reproach for its apartheid policies. Israel needs to understand there are political and economic consequences for its crimes, and a consumer and retailer boycott of Israeli goods is an important aspect of holding Israel to account. I support this petition, but also call on the Irish and other European governments to suspend Israel's preferential trading status with the EU under the Euro-Med Agreement."

The petition campaign is part of a coordinated international effort for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which has seen actions take place in dozens of countries, including Israel and South Africa. Many South African organisations, and figures including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have endorsed the BDS campaign.

Members of the Palestinian and South African communities attended the hand-in today 
Members of the Palestinian and South African communities attended the hand-in today

Passer by stops to sign the petition before it is handed in
Passer by stops to sign the petition before it is handed in

For more information on the Camapign of Boycott Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and on the activities of the IPSC please click here

The Miami Showband Massacre

Sometime after 2.30am on the 31stJuly 1975, five members of the Miami Showband were travelling back to Dublin on the road between Banbridge and Newry when they were stopped in the townland of Buskill  by what they thought was a routine UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) military checkpoint.  What followed was the slaughter of three of the band members and the unintentional exposure of the involvement of British military personnel in carrying out and assisting loyalist death squads in their murder campaign.

Earlier that night they had played a gig at the Castle Ballroom in Banbridge. Following the gig, the band loaded all their gear onto their equipment van driven by the bands road manager. One of the band members, drummer Ray Millar, headed off in his own car to Antrim to stay the night with family. The other five boarded the band's van and started off on the trip home to Dublin.

When they were stopped, they were directed into a lay-by where they were taken from the van while it was 'searched'.   They were ordered by one of the UDR gang to stand over beside a hedge and to give their names and other details.  As the 'search' of the van continued, another member of the gang appeared on the scene.  According to the testimony of two of the Showband survivors, Stephen Travers and Des McAlea, this man, who was clearly in charge  and barking orders at  the others, was an army officer with what they described as a "crisp English accent". 

Stephen Travers was concerned that the two UDR men who were 'searching' at the back of the open van would damage their instruments and tried to go over and warn them to be careful but he was bundled back into line.  Just then,  a bomb that the gang were trying to hide in the van exploded prematurely throwing the band and gang members close to it in all directions.

Two of the UDR members, Wesley Somerville and Harris Boyle, died instantly in the explosion.  They were  also senior members of the illegal UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force).  The UVF gave them a full paramilitary funeral, including a volley of shots, in a ceremony that was conducted by the DUP MP Willie McCrea.

None of the band members were killed in the bomb blast.  Des McAlea was thrown over a ditch by the force of the explosion, suffering only minor injuries and managed to make good his escape across fields.  Fellow band members Fran O'Toole, Tony Geraghty and  Brian McCoy were not so lucky.  While they survived the blast, the gang were intent on killing all of the band to eliminate any witnesses who might have been able to identify them as responsible for what had happened.

The gang opened fire on the band members who were dazed and in shock following the blast. Stephen Travers was hit in the intial gunfire and was seriously wounded.  Both Tony and Fran had tried to carry him off to safety but they were unable to and tried to make their escape themselves.  As Stephen lay there he could hear the UDR men chase down his friends in the fields and murder them despite their pleas for mercy.

Brian McCoy,  hit nine times by machine gun fire, was the first to die.  Tony Geraghty was shot four times in the back.  Lying helpless on the ground, band frontman Fran O'Toole died after being shot in the face twenty two times. 

One of the soldiers waded though the aftermath of the explosion kicking at bodies to ensure that they were all dead.  Seriously wounded, traumatised and terrified, Stephen decided to lie still and pretend to be dead as the Soldier approached.  Luckily for Stephen, just as he came near him, one of the other soldiers shouted that "those bastards are dead.  I got them with dum-dums".  The soldiers then departed the scene, and despite suffering horrific injuries Stephen survived the attack.

Among the other UDR soldiers involved in the massacre were James Somerville, a brother of Wesley who was killed in the blast, as well as Thomas Crozier and Rodney McDowell.  These men, along with a host of other RUC and UDR men were all part of what was known as the 'Glenane gang', a notorious UVF unit operating in the Mid-Ulster area in the mid 1970's and responsible for countless other  sectarian atrocities in the area and across the border.

That unit, led  by Robin Jackson (known as 'the Jackal) , were involved in  a bomb attack in Dundalk in 1975 that resulted in two deaths and dozens of injuries and the Dublin/Monaghan bombings that killed 33 people and injured more than one hundred.  The weapon used to kill  Brian McCoy was the same weapon used in the assassination of IRA volunteer and Long Kesh escapee John Francis Green six months beforehand in county Monaghan.

According to a number of former British army Intelligence operatives, Robert Nairac a member of the British Militarys undercover 14th Intelligence company, was working with the 'Glenane gang' and was involved in the planning and carrying out of the John Francis Green assassination as well as the Miami Showband massacre.

The political establishments on both sides of the border may be willing to dismiss the Miami Showband massacre and other atrocities such as the Dublin/Monaghan bombings as the actions of "rogue" soldiers, RUC men or Intelligence operatives.  However, the evidence, the refusal of the British government to come clean and co-operate with the Barron inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan attacks and the record of British military involvement in Ireland shows otherwise.

The history of the British army in our country has been a shameful and bloody one.  Both directly, and indirectly through collusion with their allies in the loyalist death squads,the British security forces have consistently engaged in terrorising the nationalist community and those who opposed the British occupation of Ireland by whatever means necessary, including mass murder.

Collusion has been central to Britain's policy of maintaing their occupation of Ireland.  Since the foundation of the 6-county state, nationalists and republicans throughout the six counties have lived with the reality of the British state actively assisting Loyalist death squads.  The list of victims of British collusion is lengthy and includes Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Sam Marshall and Eddie Fullerton to name just a few.
All attempts to establish the truth about collusion between the British occupying forces and the loyalist death squads has been hampered and blocked by the British state.  They refuse to reveal their full role in atrocities such as the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and continue to deny the truth and justice that the victims' families deserve.

Despite this, the families continue to campaign tirelessly to find the truth.  Once again, éirígí pays tribute to the families' determination and fully support their efforts to achieve the truth and justice that for too long has been denied to them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ardoyne Protests - Putting the Blame Where it Lies

The following article by John McCusker, Chair of éirígí's West Belfast Ciorcal, appeared in the July 31 edition of the Andersonstown News.  It is a response to the condemnation by the political establishment to  those residents of Ardoyne and supporters who staged peaceful protests on July 12 in order to try to prevent a sectarian Orange Order march being forced through their area against the wishes of the community.

Click on the image below to read the article in a new window.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No Private Hospitals – Fund our Public Hospitals: Health Crisis is "Deliberately Manufactured"

The most recent General Purposes meeting of Sligo Borough Council on July 19 heard proposals to build yet another private hospital in Sligo. Planning permission has been sought to develop the hospital on a site just off the N4 at the Summerhill Roundabout on the approach to the town centre.

This is the third such proposal in recent times. Last year it was announced that plans are underway to build a  €50 million private hospital right next to the existing Sligo General Hospital, while plans are also afoot to develop another such hospital at Carraroe.

Site of proposed new Private Hospital

All of this comes at a time when services at Sligo General Hospital are being slashed with further savage cutbacks already on their way.  Last year seen a dramatic reduction in services, including the removal of vital Cancer services to Galway, the downgrading of the Stroke Unit, the shutdown of wards and the closure of 78 beds.

The figures for the number of people left waiting on trolleys in Sligo General Hospital betweeen January and May of this year stood at a staggering 876.  Compared to the same period in 2007, the figure has more than doubled, up a massive increase of 419 people from 357.
As previously reported here, the Regional Director of Operations for HSE West John Hennessy confirmed in recent weeks that this year the Hospital was facing a budget deficit of €12 million and would mean new cutbacks which he admitted would impact on essential frontline services and would include yet more bed closures.  Amongst the measures he indicated were on the way were a ban on purchasing  equipment for the remainder of 2010 and the introduction of 5-day wards.

In the latest development at the hospital, staff were informed on Tuesday (July 27) that another eleven nursing positions were to go, a move that the INMO (Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation) have said will have a "devestating impact" on essential frontline services.  According to the INMO spokesperson, the proposed cuts would decimate services at the hospital.

Impact trade union have said that among the other measures to be implemented by the HSE will be a further 60 bed closures as well a significant reduction in drug stock levels.  The HSE are also planning to alter the fixed term contracts of 25 employees.  According to IMPACT, in some instances this will result in workers having their weekly hours reduced from 35 hours to as little as eight hours per week

Reacting to the HSE's plans, IMPACT's Richy Carrothers has said that among the many areas affected will be essential radiology and oncology services.   In relation to the cuts in workers hours he said that "a reduction in the number of working hours, on the scale proposed, would devastate the lives of these workers."

He added:  “Reducing working time to just eight hours per week would mean that these workers, who are engaged in delivering vital services in the North West, could not earn a living wage, and would have to join the other reported 3000 public servants whose incomes are so low that they would have to claim family income support (FIS) from the state.”

Further north at Letterkenny General Hospital, the news appears to be even worse.  It is believed that up to 120 jobs are to go as well as the closure of the hospitals orthapaedic ward and it's medical rehabilitation unit.  Day services are also set to be reduced and all elective surgery is to be cancelled for the remainder of this year.

Responding to the latest proposed cutbacks and HSE nationwide figures which reveal that around 2000 nursing and midwifery posts have been lost since the introduction of the moratorium on recruiting nurses and midwives, the INMO described the current situation as "unsafe and unworkable".  The end result of this ban on recruitment is "longer waiting times for public patients for services, overcrowded hospitals with less inpatient beds, overworked staff and increased risks to both patients and staff" according to the INMO. 

At Belmullet District Hospital in County Mayo, the recruitment ban has resulted in ten of the hospitals forty beds lying idle as they have not the staff to cater for them.

Now the Dublin government, and Mary Harney in particular, are flagging up even more savage cuts in health care in the upcoming budget.  According to Harney the budget cuts in Health will be "substantial" and have "serious consequences for the health service".  This weeks Sunday Tribune reported that those cuts are likely to be as high as €700 million.

Once again, not only will patients suffer  and indeed die from the reduction in quantity and quality of service, but Harney has also revealed that the HSE would be focusing on changes in work practices and conditions within in the health service.  If the government get their way, it is front line staff, already  dangerously overworked and overstretched due to previous cutbacks resulting in increased workloads, who will have their already inadequate and unacceptable working conditions worsen.

And we know our health service is in deep crisis, but it is a deliberately manufactured crisis, one created by deliberate political decisions taken by successive Fianna Fáil led administrations.  What we have witnessed in recent years, and this blog has repeatedly reported on, has been the systematic stripping down and removal of services from Sligo General Hospital and other hospitals around the country.

This has not been accidental or forced upon the 26 county government by forces beyond their control.  Make no mistake about it.  This is ideology driven, pure and simple.  It is part of a deliberate strategy of running down the public health care system and increasingly privatising all aspects of health care, including our hospitals.

Fianna Fáil and the Greens are using the current economic crisis, brought about by a combination of greed and corruption by the wealthy political and business elite as a smokescreen for implementing these cuts and their real agenda, which is about privatising the public healthcare system.
Despite the Dublin government's claims, there is no excuse for cutting funding and services for hospitals. The money to properly fund our health service is there, only they believe spending tens of billions on bank bailouts and up to €10 million on bringing the English Monarch here, are more important than spending on people's health - well on working people's health anyway.

At the time of last years budget, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan attempting to justify his savage cutbacks said that there was "no pot of gold that can be raided from the wealthy that can solve our difficulties”. What he said then was untrue and remains so today.  The business elite in this country, who amassed billions of euros on the backs of workers throughout the so-called 'Celtic Tiger', remain wealthy individuals.  Indeed, despite the economic recession, the richest people in this country have got even richer.

There are also hundreds of billions of euro worth of oil and gas lying under the seabed off the Irish coast, the rights to these resources shamefully given away to multi-national corporations such as Shell, by previous Fianna Fáil-led administrations.  Those natural resources could and should be nationalised at the stroke of a pen.

Yet Lenihan and his cronies in the Fianna Fáil/Green Party coalition have taken deliberate political decisions not to nationalise these natural resources and not to make the rich pay.  Instead they are content to reduce the incomes of low paid workers and welfare recipients and slash essential health and education services.

So is there a solution?  Of course there is - but that solution is not in private hospitals. They have no place in the provision of health care. Private companies mean a hospitals priority is creating profit for shareholders, rather than patient care.

Private hospitals and private health care are also clearly not in the interests of working people, both those that use and need our health service and those that work within it.  Ironically the site of this new proposed private hospital is located adjacent to St Joseph's private hospital, the owners of which, the Mount Carmel Medical Group, in the past week have claimed an inability to pay redundancy in the region of €400,000 as recommended by the Labour Court to their former workers.

St Josephs Hospital

What we currently have in this state is a form of medical apartheid.  Those who can afford to pay, get their treatment when they seek it.  Those who cannot afford to pay are forced to endure lengthy waiting times for treatment that they may need right away.  The increased numbers of people waiting more than three months for a colonoscopy  (see here for previous story on Colonoscopy waiting lists) is just one example of how an essential procedure that could save a persons life is denied for lengthy periods to those who cannot afford to go private.  The end result of these delays for many people is quite often completely unnecessary suffering and death.

This two-tier apartheid system is completely unacceptable and needs to be dismantled immediately.  Health care is a basic human right - not a privilege - that must be free, easily accessable by all and must be completely under public control. Patients must be treated based on their medical need, not their ability to pay as things currently stand.

Jon Anza is Brought Home

Jon AnzaThe body of Jon Anza, patriot and ETA activist, was finally returned to the Basque Country last week.

Activists of the nationalist left welcomed him with voices chanting, flags waving and tears in their eyes. The thousands who gathered in the seaside town of Ziburu in the area of the Basque Country occupied by France witnessed an emotional display in Anza’s memory. Beaten, banned, tortured and kidnapped, the Spanish and French states want this determined people to disappear but, from this display, it is clear they are standing firm.

Mystery surrounds Anza’s disappearance from a train travelling to Toulouse and the fact that he was then missing for days before he was found collapsed in the street in the French city. The fact that his body lay unclaimed in the Toulouse morgue for almost a year, while his passport was among the personal items on his person also appears sinister.

The reaction of the state didn’t stop once his whereabouts were known. On receiving information on the location of his body, his family and around 100 supporters travelled to Toulouse. As they are entitled to, they demanded that a doctor of their choosing could observe the autopsy. This right was refused and the crowd of supporters was attacked by police with batons and tear gas.

Now, though, Anza is back in the Basque Country. According to the Basque newspaper Gara, the homecoming event started at five in the afternoon and, after a brief press conference, the fallen patriot’s family arrived. A path had been left through the thousands gathered and they marched to the stage flanked by thousands holding aloft Ikurrunias [the Basque national flag] with black ribbons at their centre. Anza’s sister and his partner held aloft a giant picture of their loved one, which they carried onto the stage and placed it as the centrepiece.

The first act of remembrance was the performance of a poem in honour of Anza by a young Bertsolari [traditional Basque poet]. This was followed by the emergence of three ETA volunteers form the crowd. The activists read a statement praising Anza’s commitment to the Basque cause and commenting on the current political situation in the occupied country. This was followed by traditional singers, a poignant rural dance and a ballad singer. Another speech followed that commented upon Anza’s role both as a patriot and a socialist. The event ended with Eusko Guduriak being sung and chants rebounding around the tightly crammed square. The Basque Country had said goodbye to one of its most loyal sons.

The end of the nightmare that Jon Anza’s family has lived through doesn’t mean that the dirty war which Spain and France have waged for many decades is over. Only last month, Mikeldi Zenigaonaindia, a recently released Basque political prisoner, related in an interview how he had been kidnapped twice in the last five months in an effort to get him to inform on his comrades.

While being held captive in a forest, his life was threatened and he was told that he would be framed and would have to spend the rest of his life in prison. So, Anza is safe at last but fascism in the form of the Spanish state still stalks the streets of the Basque Country.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Donegal Hears Plans for New Aid Flotilla to Gaza

A Public Meeting held on Saturday last (July 24) in Donegal Town's Central Hotel heard in-depth eye witness accounts of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla on May 31. 

Fiachra O'Luain from Inishowen in County Donegal and Cork native Fintan Lane, who were on board the Challenger 1, recounted in detail their experiences when Israeli commando's stormed their boat.  They spoke at length of witnessing the attack on the Mavi Marmara which resulted in the murder of nine of their colleagues on the Flotilla and outlined how they themselves and their colleagues were assaulted and brutalised by their Israeli captors on the boat and in Israel while in captivity.

Fiachra O'Luain Addresses Public Meeting-Donegal Town July 24 2010 from éirígí Sligeach on Vimeo.

Fintan, who was speaking on behalf of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) which organised the Flotilla, also outlined the organisations plans for another Aid Flotilla during the Autumn.  He said that pressure must not just be maintained, but intensified, in order to support the people of Gaza and to bring the inhumane and illegal siege of the area to an end.

Following the accounts given by Fiachra and Fintan, a lively question and answer session took place, particularly relating to how people in Donegal and other parts of Ireland could help the Palestinian people in their ongoing struggle for justice and freedom.  Amongst the topics discussed was the ongoing campaign of Boycott,  Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as well as the next Gaza Aid Flotilla and how individuals could assist in terms of finance and raising the issue in the media. 

The North West Forum's Jim McLaughlin, who chaired the meeting, said that another public meeting was planned for Donegal town at the start of September.  For more information check out or phone 087 9730539

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our Water is Not for Sale

Opinion Piece by éirígí Tír Chonaill Spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig carried in todays edition (July 25) of the Donegal on Sunday Newspaper

“I understood when I was just a child that without water, everything dies. I didn't understand until much later that no one “owns” water. It might rise on your property, but it just passes through. You can use it, and abuse it, but it is not yours to own. It is part of the global commons, not “property” but part of our life support system.” - Marq de Villiers
An admirable thought, and the fact that water is part of our life support system is without question. The human body can live for over a month without food but last no more than a week without water. So you would wonder at anyone who would seek to turn this most essential of needs for basic survival into just another commodity, to be bought and sold to line the pockets of big business.

But this is just what might happen if the government in Lenister House have their way. Domestic metering has been an idea which has floated around within the Dublin government for some time now and earlier this year, Green Party leader and Environment Minister for the Fianna Fail led coalition, John Gormley, said that €1 billion would have to be raised annually through water charges, which he intends to impose on 1.1 million households, to cover the cost of treating the water system. Do the math and it is evident that the water charge that would need to be imposed on each home to raise this €1 billion would be more than prohibitively expensive for most, especially in these harsh times of economic crisis created by the capitalist greed of big business around the globe.
Of course, John Gormley isn't going to come out with a “like it or lump it” demand that we pay this tax just so we can have the right to consume the basic element for human survival. No, the reasons behind the imposition of domestic metering and water charges will be dressed up with terms such as conservation and suggestions that there will be job creation from the installation of meters, all in a vain attempt to make he and his ilk in the government look like the good guys in all of this.
Taking his concerns for water conservation – which no one would deny is a fair enough concern – Mr. Gormley would do better to look at the current state of our water services and ask why up to 40% of our water is lost through leaking pipes before it even reaches the tap. Countless homes across Donegal will be able to testify to the lack of investment there has been in our water supply infrastructure after their experiences earlier this year, when services were cut off due to harsh winter weather causing a less than fit for purpose system to freeze and supply lines to burst. In parts of Donegal in 21st century western Europe we seen parents having to melt snow and boil it just to feed their children. Throughout each year many homes in Donegal are subject to stoppages in water supply, “boil water” notices and periods of unusable discoloured water flowing from our taps.
And before anyone argues that a water tax would generate the money needed to remedy any of these problems by supplying the funds to fix our less than fit for purpose water services, remember that John Gormley said that the €1 billion raised from water tax would go towards the €1.2 billion needed to only treat the water, not improve the system. In 2007 the Dublin government in their 'National Development Plan' committed €4.75 billion in spending towards the Water Services Sub-Program to ensure a better water service. This commitment seems to have now disappeared out of the pipeline in one of its many leaks.
Then of course there is the claim of possible job creation that Mr. Gormley has used to try to bolster his plans for imposing this water tax, saying that employment would come with the installation of the domestic water meters. Knowing the current state of unemployment in the Twenty-Six Counties, with well over 22,000 unemployed here in Donegal alone, and knowing that the press would possibly use job creation as a headline, suggesting such a thing to back his argument and gather public support was a reprehensible move to make on his part. He also suggests this possible jobs boost while his government ponders 17,000 public sector job cuts, which would lead you to wonder about the state of thinking that there exists within his department.

Maybe if the Dublin government took some of the many billions of euros of our money they used to bail out the banks and developers who were responsible for today's economic crisis, and invested it in upgrading our water supply, jobs would be created, water would be conserved and no one would have to face the possibility of paying a draconian tax just to receive the basic necessity of life.
But of course we all know the Dublin government too well at this stage to think they would do anything else. The commodification of our natural resources and the giving away of well over €540 billion (thats €540,000,000,000!) in oil and gas to private foreign companies when those resources could be nationalised and the resulting hundreds of billions of euro invested in hospitals, schools, infrastructure and jobs, only goes to show the contempt Lenister House has for the ordinary working class here in Donegal and indeed all of the Twenty-Six Counties.
Domestic metering and water tax is the first step on the road to the privatisation of our water services and we only have to look to England and Wales to see what an unmitigated disaster the commodification of water can be. Ultimately what we will have are those who have the very least in society, those who struggle to put food on the table for their families, paying for a service so the wealthiest in society can water their gardens.
The bottom line is that water meters and water tax is unnecessary, unfair and unwanted and such plans should be vigorously resisted by everyone, everywhere. Our water is the single most important element for our survival and that of future generations. Our water is not for sale!

A Celebration of Resistance: James Connolly: 1910 - 2010

(English version follows)

Mar chuid d’Fhéile Gasyard na bliana seo, beidh Cnuaschoiste Shaor Doire ag óstáil oíche phlé agus cheoil chun comóradh céad bhliain tuirlingt Shéamuis Uí Chonghaile i nDoire agus a fhilleadh ó Mheiriceá Theas go Éire a mharcáil.

Dúirt urlabhraí do Chnuaschoiste Shaor Doire “Is imeacht de chomóradh chéad bhliain é a cruthaíodh chun tuirlingt Shéamuis Uí Chonghaile i nDoire a aibhsiú, feicthe anois mar cheann de na teagmhais is stairiúla in Éirinn.

“Aon chéad bhliain ó shin ar an lá seo, an 26ú Iúil 1910 i lár méadú corraíola shóisialta agus tionsclaíochta, d’fhill duine de na réabhlóidithe Éireannacha is túisce ar Éire, ag fógairt ceann de na tréimhsí is stairiúla a bheadh ag ár n-aicme agus ina dhiaidh sin do stair na hÉireann. I rith an ama seo ghlac Ó Conghaile páirt, arís eile i gcorraíl san áit oibre tríd an ról a bhí aige i gCeardchumann Oibrithe Iompair agus Ilsaothar na hÉireann. Leis an bhorradh seo i ngníomaíocht cheardchumainn ar fud na tíre, go dtí Glásáil Amach Bhaile Átha Cliath, agus i gcruthú ceann de na céad milístí oibrithe, Arm Saoránach na hÉireann agus go dtí a bhás míthráthúil tar éis an ról a bhí aige i rith Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916, déanfaidh an comóradh céad bhliain ceiliúradh agus tuilleadh scrúdú ar shaol agus polaitíocht radacach An Chonghailigh.

“I rith na hoíche beidh roinnt painéalaithe ag féachaint ar ábharthacht agus an ról a bhí ag polaitíocht aicmeach An Chonghailigh ansin agus fiú inniu. Thar roinnt blianta amach romhainn beidh tuilleadh athscrúdú ar mharcóirí stairiúla cosúla i stair na hÉireann gan dabht a tharla san áit oibre agus ar an tsráid. Ba chóir go mbeadh an ceiliúradh seo faoi fhilleadh Shéamuis Uí Chonghaile ar Dhoire agus ar Éire í féin feicthe mar thús orthu, is ceiliúradh é ar fhrithbheartaíocht an lucht oibre in aghaidh impiriúlachas agus caipitleachas.”

I measc iad siúd a bheidh ag glacadh páirt ar an bpainéal plé beidh iar-ghníomhaí Cearta Sibhialta Bernadette McAliskey, staraí de chuid Páirtí an Lucht Oibre Dr. Emmet O’ Connor agus iar-chime poblachtánach agus eagraí an IWU, Tommy McKearney a roinnfidh a gcuid smaointe ar an tréimhse seo agus ar Shéamuis Ó Conghaile é féin. Beidh bailéid oibrithe ó cheoltóirí áitiúla ag an oíche chomh maith agus bia dea-mhéine.

Beidh na ceiliúraidh ar siúl ag a 7i.n. ag an ionad Gasyard, Bóthar Lecky, Dé Luain an 26ú Iúil.

A Celebration of Resistance: James Connolly: 1910 - 2010

As part of this years Gasyard Feile, the Free Derry Collective will be hosting a discussion and music evening to mark the centenary of James Connolly’s landing in Derry and his return from North America to Ireland.

A spokesperson for the Free Derry Collective said “It’s a centennial event which has been created to shed some light on James Connolly’s landing in Derry, itself now seen as one of Ireland’s most historical episodes.

“One hundred years to the day, on 26th July 1910 amidst increasing social and industrial unrest, one of Ireland’s foremost revolutionary figures James Connolly returned to Ireland, heralding what was to be one of the most historic periods for our class and subsequently for Irish history. It was during this time Connolly once again, took part in workplace agitation, through his role within the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. With this upsurge in trade unionism activity across the country, to the Dublin Lock Out, and the creation of one of the first workers militia, the Irish Citizens Army and to his untimely death following his role played during the Easter Rising of 1916, this centenary event will both celebrate and examine further the life and radical politics of Connolly.

“During the evening several panellists will also be looking at the relevance and role that Connolly’s class politics has had back then and even today. Over the next several years there will undoubtedly be a further re-examination of similar historical markers in Irish history which took place both in the workplace and on the streets. This celebration of James Connolly’s arrival back to Derry and Ireland itself should be seen as just the beginning of these, it’s a celebration of working class resistance to both imperialism and capitalism.”

Among those taking part in the panel for discussion will be Veteran Civil Rights activist Bernadette McAliskey, Labour historian Dr. Emmet O'Connor and Former republican prisoner and IWU organiser, Tommy Mc Kearney who will share their thoughts on this period and of James Connolly himself. The evening will also have a selection of workers ballads from local musicians and some complimentary food.

The celebrations will take place at 7pm Gasyard Centre, Lecky Rd on Monday 26th July.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gaza Aid Flotilla Survivors to address Donegal PublicMeeting

Two Irishmen, Dr Fintan Lane and Fiachra O'Luain were among the many pro-Palestinian activists kidnapped by the Israeli military during their murderous assault on the Gaza aid Flotilla on May 31. 

Nine people were murdered and many more injured by Israeli forces when they stormed the Mavi Marmara ship and other boats on the freedom Flotilla in International waters, hijacked the boats and kidnapped the crew and activists who survived the attack. Many of those who were kidnapped were brutalised by their Israeli captors.

Both men, who were on board the Challenger 1, will be in Donegal Town this Saturday (July 24) to address a public meeting and relate their experience during the raid, their kidnapping and their subsequent ill-treatment at the hands of their Israeli captors.
The meeting will also have a discussion on the continuing illegal siege of Gaza, while Dr Lane, a member of the Free Gaza Movement and the IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign) will outline plans for the next flotilla that is to attempt to deliver much needed supplies to the besieged population of Gaza.

                                                                                       Fintan Lane             Fiachra O'Luain
Speaking immediately after their eventual release from Israeli custody at the beginning of June Fintan revealed some of the abuse and ill treatment they and other activists endured. He revealed how Fiachra was beaten up at the airport and had to be brought to hospital for tests.

He continued: “Ken O’Keefe, the Irish-American passenger, suffered a severe beating at the hands of security officials at Tel Aviv airport before boarding, and his injuries were so bad that he had to be hospitalised in Tel Aviv – the Israelis are claiming this delay in his repatriation is for ‘technical reasons’, yet another Israeli lie.”

In relation to the actual hi-jacking of their boat Fintan said: “When they boarded our boat, we resisted entirely peacefully. I sat on the floor and tried to reason with them, but the Israeli commandos physically attacked us. Fiachra was dragged around the ground and I had a gun pointed in my face by a screaming commando. His mania was so intense that I genuinely feared for my life. Others received beatings.”

He added: “When they finally took over our ship, and forced us to dock in Ashdod, we refused to disembark. We sat down, linked arms and said that we had been illegally kidnapped and brought against our will to Israel. We were all forcibly removed from the boat and brought to interrogation rooms in the port. At this point, I refused to hand over my passport, restating my position that I would not cooperate with my illegal detention and was under no obligation to do so. I was then physically assaulted, my arms were painfully twisted behind my back for prolonged periods and my passport taken.”

In the wake of the murderous Israeli attack and subsequent kidnapping of Irish citizens, the Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned that Israel would face serious consequences” if any Irish citizens were injured. True to form, despite the overwhelming evidence of ill treatment and brutality meted out to those illegally detained, including both Fintan and Fiachra, the 26 county government have shamefully refused to take any action whatsoever against the zionist regime.
The meeting which has been organised by the North West Solidarity Network takes place on Saturday July 24 in the Central Hotel at 3pm.  All welcome.  For more information phone 087 9730539

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Different Legislation, Same Harassment

As éirígí predicted, the recent suspension of Section 44 of the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’ has not deterred the PSNI in its campaign of harassment against the nationalist community.

On Sunday [July 18], two éirígí activists were driving along the Armagh Road in Newry when they were stopped by the political police.

 The activists were removed from the vehicle and were forced to endure a humiliating search in front of dozens of pedestrians and motorists under sections 21 and 24 of the British government’s Justice & Security Act. 

They were then questioned about their movements and their personal details were recorded while the vehicle was thoroughly searched by other members of the PSNI for unknown items.

The remit of the British government’s Justice & Security Act, which was introduced in 2007 as one of the final elements of the normalisation strategy, is confined to the Six Counties. The act contains repressive powers for the political police, the Six County judiciary and the British army.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Only last week, éirígí predicted that section 44 would simply be replaced with equally abhorrent legislation. It’s now clear that our prediction has become reality.

“éirígí activists in Newry are no strangers to Crown Forces harassment. In recent times, they have been harassed while delivering leaflets and, just last month, an activist’s home in the Derrybeg estate was targeted in a dawn raid which extended into a search operation of the estate itself which lasted the whole day. Now, our activists are being stopped under the draconian British Justice and Security Act. It’s clear that our activists and supporters in the area are being singled out for special treatment because of their political activities.

“The PSNI are only proving by their own actions that they are an unchanged, unaccountable paramilitary force. The PSNI remains a British police force, enforcing British law in support of the British occupation.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “No amount of PSNI harassment, in Newry or anywhere else, will prevent éirígí activists from continuing the work of rebuilding the republican struggle.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

Remembering Dunnes Stores Strike - 26 Years on

Twenty six years ago today (July 19 1984) 21-year old cashier Mary Manning was suspended by management at the Henry Street branch of Dunnes stores where she worked. Two days earlier, Mary and her worker colleagues received a directive from their union IDATU (Irish Distributive and Administrative Trade Union) not to handle any products that originated from South Africa. This was as a consequence of a motion adopted at the IDATU annual delegate conference in April 1984. That motion said that because of the apartheid system, union members were to refuse to handle South African goods.




Karen Gearon, who was the IDATU shop steward within the store, passed the directive around to her colleagues. When Management at the branch became aware of this directive, they attempted to intimidate the workers into continuing to handle the relevant products but they took no specific measures against staff. However on July 19, that all changed. Management told employees that they must handle South African goods or severe disciplinary action would be taken against them.

Despite these threats, Mary Manning refused to handle two South African Outspan oranges that a customer brought to the checkout she was working at. She was immediately summoned by management and given five minutes to reconsider her position. She stood her ground, refused to breach the union directive and insisted to management she would not handle any South African goods. She was immediately suspended. 

Ten of Mary's fellow employees walked off the job in solidarity with her. They were Catherine O'Reilly, Karen Gearon, Theresa Mooney, Vonnie Munroe, Sandra Griffin, Alma Russell, Michelle Gavin, Liz Deasy, Dorothy Dooley and Tommy Davis. They were joined the following year by Brendan Barron who worked in the Crumlin branch of Dunnes Stores. 

So commenced a strike that did not end for more than two years and nine months. Despite all the odds stacked against them, despite the personal sacrifices that they had to make, they remained united and persisted with their action until the Dublin government finally decided to ban all South African goods from stores in the 26-counties in April 1987. 

Many of the strikers fell into ill health as a result of the constant picketing outdoors throughout that whole period including times of extreme weather conditions. Some lost their homes as a result of being unable to keep up their mortgage payments.

They suffered intense harassment by management at Dunnes, by companies who supplied Dunnes and by the Gardai. Indeed on a number of occasions, some of the women strikers had to get hospital treatment for injuries sustained as a result of Garda and management violence against them. 

But they refused to be beaten and grew stronger in their determination as each day passed. They took their fight to both the national and international stage, with both Karen Gearon and Michelle Gavin going as far as addressing the United Nations Special Committee on Apartheid in New York.

The lessons from this dispute for workers and trade unionists are many. The relevance of these lessons are as important, if not more so, today as Trade Unionism in Ireland is at its lowest ebb in decades.  This follows years of capitulation to government and business through the so-called partnership agreements and the recent Croke Park agreement on pay and reform in the public sector.

Despite these setbacks, all is not lost.  The strike and the resilience of these workers shows  us all the vast potential that exists within trade unions and what can be achieved when workers unite and remain united and determined to achieve their aims. It shows how essential the strike, the withdrawal of labour, is for workers. 

It also shows the necessity of worker and trade union solidarity with others as opposed to just looking after sectional interests. As the motto of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) goes, 'an injury to one is an injury to all', a line the present so-called 'leadership' of the Trade Union movement here in Ireland would do well to reflect upon and act upon.

Trade Unionism is about protecting workers in the workplace in terms of their wages and conditions of employment. But it is also about far more than that, something which the Dunnes Stores strikers represented and which the likes of ICTU have long since abandoned. 

This principled stance taken by these workers revealed the power that they and all workers have and how a strike and trade union solidarity can bring about significant political change. The withdrawal of labour is a tool feared by governments and business alike for they know the power that workers have if they utilise it properly. Sadly it appears that the likes of David Begg and others in ICTU fear it just as much as governments and employers.

Let no-one be under any illusion, this dispute played a major role in forcing the Dublin government to ban South African goods, a move that was extremely important in isolating South Africa economically.

Two years ago, a plaque was embedded in front of Dunnes's store on Henry Street to commemorate the strike and the workers who participated in it. Speaking at the ceremony, Kadar Asmal who had been Chairperson of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement during the strike and who went on to become a Minister in post Apartheid South Africa delivered a message on behalf of former South African President Nelson Mandela. 

According to Mandela “young workers who refused to handle the fruits of apartheid 21 years ago in Dublin provided inspiration to millions of South Africans that ordinary people far away from the crucible of apartheid cared for our freedom". 

South Africa's ambassador to Ireland, Priscilla Jana, described the strike as "one of the longest, most bitter and one of the most profound acts of solidarity" in the struggle to bring an end to apartheid.

"These brave men and women were in the prime of their youth then. No ego, no glory, no personal gains, just a dogged determination to fight against what they believed was unjust, unfair and inhuman" she said.

The strike ended in 1987, more than 23 years ago. But the tactic of boycott remains as relevant today as it did then. While the apartheid regime of South Africa has been long consigned to history, the apartheid state of Israel continues to deny human rights and freedom to the Palestinian people.

Palestinian civil society, including trade unions, have called for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, similar to that which played a large part in bringing the South African apartheid regime to an end.

In recent years ICTU have adopted numerous resolutions demanding a boycott of Israeli goods in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for an end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state. Now those words need to be followed up by actions similar to those of the Dunnes Stores workers in 1984.

Amongst those around the world supporting the boycott against Israel are South African workers and trade unions. The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, (SATAWU) which refuses to handle Israeli goods at South African ports, described recent actions by the Swedish Portworkers’ Union, who called a boycott of all Israeli ships and cargo from June 15 through to June 24, as “the kind of powerful workers’ action that was used during the fight against the South African apartheid regime and helped bring it down. It must be used again today against this criminal apartheid regime in Israel.” 

So 26 years on from the commencement of the Dunnes Stores strike, let us remember their sacrifice and bravery. But let us also commit to ensuring that the boycott of Israeli goods is now stepped up until sanctions are imposed and the Palestinian people secure their freedom. The Dunnes stores strikers made a difference in relation to South Africa. We can now do the same for the people of Palestine.