Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RIR Stunts Will Be Opposed

éirígí candidate for the Lower Falls in the forthcoming local government elections in the Six Counties John McCusker has said any attempt by the British army to hold a parade in Belfast will be actively opposed by the socialist republican party.

The British Ministry of Defence recently announced that they plan to parade soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment through the streets of the Six Counties when they return from the war against Afghanistan in May.

In 2008, hundreds of people attended an éirígí demonstration in opposition to an RIR parade through Belfast city centre.


 
McCusker said: “The Royal Irish Regiment is about as welcome in Ireland as it is in Afghanistan, which is not very welcome at all.

“If the British Ministry of Defence thinks it can march the RIR through the streets of Belfast without facing opposition then it is gravely mistaken; it should have learnt its lesson in 2008.

“The British army is an army of occupation.  In both Afghanistan and Ireland, it acts as the military enforcer of the diktats and interests of foreign politicians and business interests.  It has no positive role to play in either
country.”
 



McCusker added: “At a time when Britain is involved in its latest imperialist offensive, this time against the people of Libya, it is even more incumbent that the glorification of these mass murderers is opposed at every turn.

“éirígí will be actively opposing any British army propaganda stunt that involves the parading of killers in uniform through Irish streets.  We call on all republicans, socialists and democrats to do likewise.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Attack on Libya – Another War for Oil


A US destroyer fires a tomahawk missile into LibyaThe United States, Britain and France have launched a joint military assault on Libya, which came just days after a United Nations resolution imposing a ‘no-fly zone’ on the country.


The assault commenced on Saturday night [March 19] when over 100 cruise missiles were fired from US warships and submarines off the coast of Libya. According to reports, dozens of civilians have been killed as western powers move to impose regime change on a country that it held as a close ally until very recently.


US and British interference and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrates that the civilian population suffers most, as western powers, under the guise of protecting the civilian population seek to protect and advance their strategic and business interests in the region.


Declarations from western powers that the military strike against Libya is motivated solely by a desire to protect the civilian population cannot be taken seriously. Western imperialist powers have stood by as protestors in other countries in the region have been slaughtered. In Yemen, 40 protestors were shot dead by state forces, while the west’s closest ally in the region Saudi Arabia has swept into Bahrain, where martial law has been declared, in support of that country’s autocratic regime.


The brutal Saudi regime bans political parties, has declared protests ‘un-Islamic’ and continues to incarcerate almost 8,000 political prisoners. The Saudi’s so-called peace keeping force in Bahrain has besieged and machine gunned hospitals, where demonstrators are being treated for injuries sustained at the hands of state forces.


Yet, the continuing military offensive against the civilian population in Bahrain has met only with weasel words from US secretary of state Hilary Clinton who lamely stated, “We have made clear that security alone cannot resolve the challenges facing Bahrain.” The US also supported its Israeli ally, when its military bombarded Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, slaughtering over 1,400 Palestinians. There was no UN resolution imposing a ‘no fly zone’ to protect the civilian population of Palestine.


Just last October the Obama administration agreed an arms deal with the Saudi regime worth US$60 billion, which included the sale of 84 F-15 fighter jets; the upgrading of a further 70 older F-15s; and 200 new attack helicopters. At a press conference announcing details of the deal, Andrew Shapiro, US assistant secretary for political and military affairs, was clear about its purpose, which was to enhance the ability of the Saudis to “deter and defend threats to its oil structure, which is critical to our [US] economic interests”.


Under the deal, the US air force will train Saudi pilots to fly the F-15 jets and discussions are taking place to upgrade Saudi Arabia's navy, worth an additional US$30bn. That attack helicopters are being used to machine gun hospitals treating pro-democracy protestors in Bahrain is unlikely to trouble the Obama regime. The Saudis, along with Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, are also offering military support for the attack on Libya.


For the west, the blood of civilians is, after all, secondary to ensuring that the oil keeps flowing.


The British government is keen to ensure that BP maintains access to Libyan oil, while another major British oil corporation, Shell, reached a deal with the Libyan state oil company in 2005. This deal gave the oil giant access to explore for gas in five blocks covering 20,000 square kilometres in the Sirte Basin and would see it spending between US$105m and $450m on upgrading a Libyan gas plant and US$187m on exploration. 

While the British government expresses concern for the civilian population of Libya, it supplied missiles and air defence systems to the same regime under an agreement reached in 2007. The hypocrisy is astounding.


People power has toppled the dictatorships of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt; a former key ally of the west, who facilitated the US invasion of Iraq and the Israeli siege of Gaza. The wave of protests sweeping through the Middle East has unnerved the US, Britain and Israel.


éirígí supports the right of the people of Libya to determine their own future without interference from outside powers.


Establishment figures in Ireland are falling over themselves to welcome the announcement that US president Barack Obama will visit the Twenty-Six Counties in May. There has been a deathly silence from establishment political figures about Obama’s war mongering in Afghanistan, the use of US drones on the Pakistani border, which last week killed 40 civilians in Waziristan, his administration’s continued support for despotic regimes such as Saudi Arabia, the failure to close Guantanamo Bay, and the continued use of Shannon airport by the US military.


The slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians in a bloody war for oil in both Iraq and Afghanistan is a stark reminder of the human cost of the west’s imperial ambitions. While the west claims its purpose in bombing Libya is to defend the civilian population, it has stood by and supported Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Bahrain to defend that country’s despotic regime and attack pro-democracy demonstrators. Meanwhile, the fact that Yemen lacks oil means that the lives of the innocent of that country are of no concern to the western imperial powers.


The US, British and French military attack on Libya is quite simply another war for oil and should be opposed as such.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sinn Féin called on to re-think Opposition to Anti-Royal Protests

The socialist republican party éirígí have called on Sinn Féin to re-think their publicly stated opposition to protests against the forthcoming visit by the English Monarch Elizabeth Windsor.


Their call comes in the wake of recent comments carried in various national and local media outlets by newly elected Sinn Féin TD for Sligo/North Leitrim, Michael Colreavy, in which he called for “no protests” against the visit.  Deputy First Minister of Britain's puppet parliament at Stormont, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness made similar public statements in recent days.




Responding to Deputy Colreavy's remarks éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey said: “The decision by Sinn Féin to publicly call on people not to protest about the upcoming visit by the British Head of State and Commander in Chief of the British army defies all logic."


“The purpose of this visit is an attempt to legitimise and normalise the continued occupation of the six counties by her government and thousands of her troops. It is a further attempt to copper-fasten partition and continue to deny the right of self-determination to the Irish people as a whole.”



Casey added: “This woman and the sectarian institution that she represents is an apologist for illegal military occupations and war crimes carried out by her troops, not just in Ireland but in Iraq and Afghanistan also."


“She believes that she and her family have a god-given right to rule and live a life of luxury funded by the labour of working people whom she considers her ‘subjects’.  Everyone that considers themselves a republican, a socialist and a democrat should, not only be appalled at the prospect of this visit, but should be actively protesting and organising resistance to it.”

 

He continued: “Our position is clear - it is that of James Connolly and of Bobby Sands. Britain has no right to occupy the six counties or any part of Ireland.  Until there is a complete British military and political withdrawal from our country it must be consistently and vociferously challenged. 


“There cannot and will not be any ‘normalisation’ of British – Irish relations. As such, this and future British state visits will be met with vigorous opposition.”


Casey concluded: “I would urge Deputy Colreavy to urgently re-examine the stance he and the leaders of his party have taken; a stance clearly at odds with the views of his own party’s grassroots members in this region.  It is not too late for them to do the right thing and to join the growing opposition and resistance to this visit.”

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sligo Mayor condemned over support for Royal invitation

éirígí have launched a scathing attack on the Fine Gael Mayor of Sligo Cllr Matt Lyons following comments he made to the Sligo Champion newspaper yesterday (Wed Mar 9). His comments were in relation to a campaign by some to invite the British Head of State Elizabeth Windsor to Sligo during her visit to the twenty six counties in May.

Fine Gael Cllr Matt Lyons
According to éirígí Sligo activist Gerry Casey, the Mayor's suggestion that there was no reason why the local authorities should not be supportive of the British 'Queen' being invited to Sligo was “truly appalling”.
Casey said, “Contrary to Cllr Lyons suggestion, there are many good reasons why the local authorities should not be supportive in any way of a British 'Queen' being invited to Sligo.

video

“Let us remember exactly who this woman is and what she represents. She is Commander-in-Chief of the British army. Five thousand of her troops continue to occupy the Six Counties where they have committed countless atrocities against the nationalist population. Over the past decade they invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan killing thousands in the process. They continue to occupy and commit massacres against the civilian population in Afghanistan. She is an apologist for the war crimes and human rights abuses carried out by her troops."

Casey added: “She is head of a fundamentally undemocratic and sectarian institution who believes that she and her family have a God given right to rule. They are parasites on the working people of Britain.  They are also parasites on the working people of the six counties, Irish Citizens who continue living under British occupation and who endure hardship and poverty as their taxes are used to fund the Windsor's wealthy and extravagant lifestyle.”

Referring to the cost to the Irish tax-payer of this proposed visit and the true purpose of it, Casey continued, “While the Fine Gael/Labour coalition have pledged to maintain the savage welfare cuts imposed by Fianna Fáil, they appear to be more than willing to splash out €15 million on this visit. That is much needed money that could go towards those in need and funding for our hospitals and schools."

“This visit is designed for one purpose – to normalise the occupation of the six counties. But there is nothing normal about 5000 occupying troops, hundreds of MI5 personnel and a 9000 strong paramilitary police force engaged in widespread repression against the nationalist community and those who dare challenge British rule in Ireland."

The coming weeks will see demonstrations in Sligo and nationally in opposition to the now confirmed visit. The first will take place in Dublin outside the British Embassy in Dublin at 2pm this Saturday (March 12). An on-line petition calling on Enda Kenny to abandon plans for this visit has already been launched and people can view it and sign it by clicking on the image below."



Casey concluded: “I would now call on the local councillors, and particularly our newly elected TD's, to publicly declare whether they, like Cllr Lyons, support squandering €15 million on the visit. I am also calling on the officials of Sligo County and Borough Council to reveal whether they have held any discussions with groups or individuals about inviting the English Monarch to Sligo. If they have they must immediately make public the details of those discussions and meetings. The public have a right to know if public officials are planning behind closed doors to welcome a war crimes apologist to Sligo.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Online Petition launched Demanding Enda Kenny Abandon planned 'British Queen' Visit

éirígí have launched an on-line petition as part of its campaign against the planned state visit to the 26 counties by the  British Head of State Elizabeth Windsor, which was confirmed over the weekend.
 

The petition demands that Enda Kenny and his incoming government abandon plans for this visit ,due to take place in May, which were announced over the weekend.


Launching the petition, Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said that opposition to the visit is growing daily and that éirígí's campaign of resistance against it will be intensified over the coming weeks.


“The political elite and large sections of the corporate media cannot contain their excitment at the prospect of seeing a 'British Queen' paraded through the streets of Dublin. They conveniently ignore the fact that she is the Commander in Chief of the British army who continues to occupy part of our country and that she is an apologist for war crimes committed by her troops in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.”


Referring to the petition Brian said:


“Millions of Irish people, both here in Ireland and around the world, are opposed to this visit. Our online petition was launched in order to give such people an opportunity to express their opposition against what is a blatant attempt to 'normalise' and legitimise the ongoing British occupation of the six
counties.”


“By any definition the continued prescence of 5000 occupying troops, hundreds of MI5 personnel and a 9000 strong paramilitary police force engaged in widespread repression against the nationalist community and those who dare challenge British rule in Ireland is not 'normal'.”


Brian concluded by urging people to be pro-active in their opposition:


“éirígí would encourage people to express their opposition by signing the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/Saoirse/petition.html and demand that Enda Kenny and his incoming government abandon this planned state visit. We are also urging people to take to the streets and partcipate in protests against this visit, the next of which takes place this coming Saturday March 12 at 2PM outside the British Embassy in Dublin. Together we can ensure that Britain’s attempts to ‘normalise’ its occupation of the Six Counties is stopped in its tracks.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Remember the Hunger Strikers


This day thirty years ago (March 1st 1981), Bobby Sands  the Officer Commanding (OC) IRA prisoners in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh refused food and commenced on a hunger strike that led to his death and that of nine of his  IRA and INLA comrades. It was the second hunger strike undertaken by Republican prisoners in the six counties in the space of just six months in their struggle to secure political status and to defeat British attempts to criminalise the fight for Irish freedom and those engaged in it. 


On October 27th1980 Brendan Hughes and six of his colleagues had started the first hunger strike and issued what became known as the Five Demands, which amounted to political status. 

On December 1st, three Volunteers from Armagh Women's jail led by Mairead Farrell joined their comrades on the hunger strike. On December 18th, as Sean McKenna was close to death, the strike was ended as the prisoners believed that a deal had been reached with the British. 
 
As it transpired following the halting of the protest, the British government proposals did not come near satisfying the five demands and were completely unacceptable to the prisoners. As far as they were concerned, another hunger strike was their only option. 


 
In a statement issued in February 1981 the prisoners outlined their plans:

We the blanketmen, and we the women political prisoners in Armagh, have had enough of British deceit and of broken promises. Hunger-strikes to the death if necessary will begin commencing March 1st, 1981, the fifth anniversary of the withdrawal of political status in the H-Blocks and in Armagh jail. We are demanding to be treated as political prisioners which everyone recognizes we are. 
 
We call upon all those who supported us during the last hunger-strike to again rally to our cause and we call upon those who sat on the fence to now see the intransigence of the British and the justness of our cause."

At 1.17AM on May 5th, after 66 days without food, Bobby Sands became the first of the hunger strikers to die. Nine more of his colleagues from both the IRA and INLA followed him to their deaths over the coming months before the end of the hunger strike on October 3 1981.




Today, throughout Ireland and indeed throughout the world, many people will remember with pride the bravery of these ten men and draw inspiration from their sacrifice. However, it is also tinged with sadness for the comrades, friends and families who watched their loved ones die an agonising death in defence of their fellow prisoners and in defence of the republican struggle and British attempts to criminalise it.

Sad too is the fact that thirty years on from the day when Bobby Sands made that momentous decision to refuse food and embark on a protest to the death, the British occupation continues while republican prisoners are currently denied political status and continue to be brutalised in prisons throughout the six counties.  The objectives that these men fought and ultimately died for have yet to be attained.

 

éirígí’s Pádraic Mac Coitir, who participated in the blanket and no wash protests during the struggle for political status which culminated in the 1981 Hunger Strike said it was a defining moment in Irish history.
 

“It marked a serious setback for British strategy in Ireland, unfortunately at a great cost to the republican prisoners and the nationalist community outside the prisons" he said.




He continued:  “What 1981 taught republican Ireland and, indeed, the British establishment was that a united, determined people cannot be criminalised, ignored, repressed out of sight or shot off the streets."

“The sacrifice the hunger strikers made in defence of their fellow prisoners and in defence of the republican struggle should never be forgotten. It should serve as an inspiration to all those who continue the struggle against injustice, in Ireland and beyond.”



Mac Coitir added: “It is important to remember that it wasn’t just the men in the H Blocks who fought against Britain’s criminalisation strategy. The struggle of the female prisoners in Armagh was every bit as crucial and served as a siren call, if one were needed, that women were equal participants in the fight for national independence."

“Equally importantly, there are republicans in prison today who are denied the political status that was won at such a high cost three decades ago. While these prisoners are denied their human rights and, indeed, while even a single person remains imprisoned as a result of the British occupation, the goals of the hunger strikers will remain unfulfilled."