Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Saor Éire 2011 – A gathering for socialists and republicans

éirígíThey think they have bought half of us off with the withdrawal of the British garrison in Ireland to barracks and fooled the rest of us into believing that bail outs and tax breaks for the rich are somehow in the interests of working people.

However the fools they have left us armed with something far more dangerous than any bullet or any ounce.

The historical legacy and political ideas of James Connolly should act as a guide to the actions that republicans and socialists should be engaged in.

Ninety-five years after the execution of Irish socialist republican James Connolly, Ireland remains under the yoke of capitalism and imperialism.

On Saturday, May 7, éirígí has organised a gathering where the way forward for the national liberation and class struggles in Ireland today can debated and discussed.

‘Saor Éire’ in the 1930s was central to the project of radicalising a generation of activists and it is fitting then that it will today be the title for a gathering which hopes over the coming years to achieve the same end.

‘Saor Éire’ – A gathering for socialists and republicans

James ConnollyVenue: Ashling Hotel (Parkgate Street, across from Heuston Station)
Date: Saturday, May 7

10am – The resources of Ireland for the people of Ireland?
The giveaway of Irish natural and the struggle to reclaim them. Speakers: Maura Harrington (Shell to Sea) and more.

11am – James Connolly – Idol or Ideologue for Irish Republicans?
Speakers: Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh (author) and Dr Brian Kelly (lecturer, QUB).
A discussion on whether Irish republicans only see James Connolly in terms of his involvement in the 1916 Rising or seriously use his writings and actions over his lifetime as a guide to their political commitments.

12 Noon – Fighting back against the EU/IMF cuts
Speakers include éirígí's Daithí Mac An Mháistir, Pepe Gutierrez from Latin America Solidarity Campaign and Brendan Ogle of Unite the Union.
1pm – Break

1.30pm – No Queen Here – Why we oppose monarchy and imperialism
Brian Leeson of éirígí, Roger Cole of PANA and others will take part in a discussion on the imminent arrival of the commander of British military and why imperialism in Ireland and abroad must be resisted.

3.30pm – James Connolly Commemoration, Arbour Hill cemetery.

éirígí 1916 Commemorations

‘British Queen’ meets the guillotine at the GPO

On Saturday [April 16], up to 150 people joined éirígí’s latest protest against the upcoming state visit by Britain’s Elizabeth Windsor. The protest which took place in front of the historic GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell Street included a piece of street theatre which saw ‘Elizabeth Windsor’ beheaded in a French revolution-style guillotine.

Prior to the street theatre taking place dozens of placard-carrying protesters lined the central boulevard of O’Connell Street facing the GPO, while at the same time others distributed hundreds of leaflets to pedestrians on either side of Dublin’s main thoroughfare. The sentiment of many passers-by closely echoed the ‘No British Withdrawal? No Royal Visits!’ and ‘Britain Out of Ireland! – Saoirse Anois!’ message contained on the placards and banners.

As half past one approached the distinctive shape of a guillotine was seen to make its way along O’Connell Street. This unusual sight was made all the more bizarre when the ‘British Queen’, in full ceremonial fur lined purple robe, appeared on the scene. The sight of the British monarch was greeted with a mixture of catcalls, boos and the clicking of camera shutters as journalists, protesters and passers-by recorded the unusual sight.

Cathaoirleach éirígí then addressed the crowd, outlining éirígí’s plans for further protests in the run up to, and during, the Windsor visit, including the establishment of an Irish Freedom Camp at the Garden of Remembrance on May 15. He encouraged everyone present to become organisers in their own right, to ensure that Windsor would be met by large numbers of protesters when she arrives in Dublin.

Leeson then introduced Ursula Ni Shionnain, who acted as chairperson of the ‘citizen jury’ which was to try Elizabeth Windsor. Following a short introduction Ursula read out twelve ‘sample charges’ which were to be brought against Elizabeth Windsor and the British Empire. With each charge Ursula asked those present to state whether they believed the accused to be guilty or innocent. The twelve sample charges brought against Windsor were:
  1. An Gorta Mór – the Great Hunger, when the British state, with the famine Queen Victoria as Monarch, allowed at least one million Irish citizens to die of hunger and related diseases.
  2. Theft of Ireland’s Natural Resources – For centuries past Britain has plundered Ireland’s natural and human resources for its own ends.
  3. Execution of 1916 Leaders – A clear war crime in the form of the summary execution of unarmed prisoners – in the process robbing Ireland of some of the greatest minds of a generation. The reigning British monarch at that time - George V – was the last one to visit this city.
  4. Attempted Eradication of the Irish Language – Understanding the importance of language and culture successive British monarchs and governments has consistently and systematically attempted to eradicate the Irish language from the face of the earth. To this day in the occupied Six Counties the British state, under the reign of Elizabeth Windsor, continues to discriminate against the Irish language and those who wish to use it.
  5. Suppression of Irish Civil Rights Movement – In the mid 1960’s - having suffered endemic discrimination from the time of partition -the nationalist people in the occupied Six Counties set about developing a civil rights movement. The British state, with Elizabeth Windsor on the throne, ensured that it was mercilessly crushed.
  6. Bloody Sunday – Dublin and Derry – On two Sundays, in two Irish cities separated by fifty-one years the British military ruthlessly slaughtered unarmed civilians. King George V, the last British head of state to visit this city, reigned when Croke Park was attacked while Elizabeth Windsor pinned medals on the chest of Colonel Derek Wilford – the commanding officer of the troops who committed the Derry massacre.
  7. Dublin and Monaghan Bombings – Within one mile of where we stand 26 men, women and children died when three car bombs exploded on May 17th, 1974. A further seven people died when a fourth car bomb detonated in Monaghan town. All thirty-three victims died at the hands of a unionist murder gang that was under the direct control of the British state. The reigning monarch at the time of the bombings, Elizabeth Windsor, is scheduled to arrive in the city on May 17th – the 37th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
  8. Torture of Irish Political Prisoners – For hundreds of years the British state have sought to portray the Irish struggle for freedom as nothing more than a criminal conspiracy. As a consequence the prisons have often become battlegrounds with torture, degradation and humiliation being the weapons of choice of the British state. During the reign of Elizabeth Windsor the conflict within the H-Blocks saw hundreds of republican prisoners suffer unspeakable abuse at the hands of the British state, culminating in the deaths of ten brave hunger strikers. To this day the British state refuses to extend political status to republican prisoners being held in Maghaberry.
  9. Sinking of the General Belgrano – The liberation of the Malvinas islands by Argentina in 1982 gave British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher the external enemy she needed to consolidate her flagging support at home. She personally authorised the sinking of the General Belgrano as it sailed away from the conflict zone, taking 323 souls to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
  10. Unionist Death Squad Collusion – From the early 1970’s to the present day the British state, through its military and paramilitary police, have implemented a policy of collusion with the unionist death squads, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Irish citizens. Through all of this time Elizabeth Windsor has been the commander-in-chief of the British military.
  11. Fallujah massacre, Iraq, 2004 – In November 2004 United States and British military forces launched an all-out offensive on the town of Fallujah in Iraq. Chemical weapons were used extensively used during the course of the assault resulting in the deaths and maiming of hundreds of civilians. The British troops committed this war crime for ‘queen and country’ – their queen being Elizabeth Windsor.
  12. Ongoing Occupation of the Six Counties –As we stand here today 5000 British combat troops are stationed just over an hour away in occupied Ireland. They, in conjunction with the 9000 paramilitary police of the PSNI and 100s of MI5 spies, maintain Britain’s illegal occupation of the Six Counties. Throughout her almost sixty years as British Monarch, Elizabeth Windsor has provided never ending support to her loyal troops, regardless of the atrocities they have committed in occupied Ireland.

For each charge a member of the citizens’ jury held aloft a placard for that specific charge so that by the end of the trial Windsor was surrounded by a dozen placards detailing the crimes of which she and her empire had been convicted.

Unsurprisingly the citizens’ jury found Windsor and the British Empire guilty of all charges. All that remained was for Elizabeth Windsor’s head to be placed in the guillotine before the blade was dropped to loud applause and cheers. The sight of Elizabeth Windsor’s head rolling along the pavement on O’Connell Street was perhaps the most surreal image of the day.

Four weeks now remain until the real Elizabeth Windsor walks the streets of Dublin – the first British monarch to dare to do so in a century. Irish republicans, socialists and all other progressives are duty-bound to ensure that her visit is met with widespread protest and opposition. If you are interested in helping éirígí in its campaign against the Windsor visit phone 086 236 7298 or email stopthevisit@gmail.com.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Case Against Anglo Irish Accused Collapses

Four of the éirígí activists who were arrested for their part in a protest at the Anglo Irish Bank headquarters in Dublin in May last year were cleared of all charges today [Thursday] after the Garda case against them collapsed.

Ursula Ní Shionnain, Daithí Ó Riain, Robbie Fox and Eoin Ó Sé occupied the roof of the bank last year to raise a banner imploring “People of Ireland, Rise Up”.

The four were subsequently arrested, along with three other activists, assaulted by Gardaí and charged with trespass.

Today, a Dublin court found that there was insufficient evidence to convict the four activists.

Ursula Ní Shionnain said: “Our protest was a legitimate act of civil disobedience at a time of economic and political crisis.  We should never have been arrested and dragged through the courts but, today, we were vindicated."

“The people who should be in front of courts are the bankers and politicians who led Ireland to economic ruin.  They should be tried and convicted of destroying people’s livelihoods, leaving tens of thousands on the dole and looting the public purse.”

Ní Shionnain continued: “It should now be recognised that our three co-accused – Daithí Mac An Mhaistír, John McCusker and Pádraig Ó Meiscill – are equally as innocent.

“éirígí will continue with its campaign against the obscene bank bailouts and the vicious anti-working class measures being implemented by the Dublin government, using whatever means we deem necessary.

“We call on working people across Ireland to join us in this campaign – all of our futures are at stake.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'British Queen' for the Guillotine

éirígí are to hold a protest at the GPO in Dublin this Saturday April 16th at 1pm,  which will see the symbolic beheading of an effigy of 'Elizabeth Windsor' in a French revolution-style mock guillotine.

It is the latest in a series of demonstrations organised by the socialist republican party against the upcoming state visit by Elizabeth Windsor to the Twenty Six Counties.

Speaking in advance of Saturday's protest, Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said:

“With the Windsor state visit due to begin in Dublin in just over a month éirígí are stepping up its campaign of opposition to the visit.  This Saturday's protest is just the latest that éirígí have organised against the parading of the British head of state and commander-in-chief of the British Army through the streets of Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland.”

He added:  “As éirígí has already pointed out, the timing of the visit is deliberately provocative.  It is designed to rub salt in the wounds of the victims of British state violence, beginning as it does on the 37th anniversary
of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.”

“And if that was not bad enough, Windsor will attend events at the Garden of Remembrance and Trinity College within yards of the site of the explosions at Parnell Street, Talbot Street and South Leinster Street where 26 people were killed.  The British state continue to this day to thwart all efforts to reveal the truth about British military involvement in those bombings.”

Leeson also revealed the reasons behind the inclusion at Saturday's protest of a piece of street theatre that will see an effigy of Elizabeth Windsor symbolically beheaded in a mock guillotine.

“The guillotine has been chosen to make a very serious political point. It is closely associated with the French revolution, when the people of that country threw off the chains of monarchy in favour of freedom and republicanism based on equality, liberty and fraternity. And that was over two hundred years ago.”

“Yet two centuries later our people are still expected to bend the knee to a woman who was born into her role as head of the British state and commander-in-chief of the British military – a state and a military which
continue to occupy the Six Counties.”

He concluded:  “The mock guillotining of Elizabeth Windsor symbolises that which needs to happen to all of those political and economic systems which are based upon inherited privilege, imperialism and class. The time of monarchy, imperialism and exploitation is well and truly past. Nothing makes that point quite as clearly as the guillotine.”

éirígí to establish Irish Freedom Camp at Garden of Remembrance

éirígí has announced its preliminary plans for protests during the visit of the British head of state, Elizabeth Windsor.  Speaking in Dublin éirígí Chairperson Brian Leeson outlined the socialist republican party’s plans for protests during Windsor’s engagements at both the Garden of Remembrance and Dublin Castle.  Leeson said:

‘Although the Dublin and London governments have yet to reveal the exact timetable for the Windsor visit I can confirm that éirígí will be organising protests at both the Garden of Remembrance ceremony and the Dublin Castle banquet.  Additional éirígí protests may well be announced closer to the date of Windsor’s arrival.

Garden of Remembrance

We have chosen to organise a protest at the Garden of Remembrance for obvious reasons.  This garden is dedicated to those who have given their lives in the struggle for freedom from British domination and occupation.  To have a British head of state visit the garden while the occupation of the Six Counties continues is deliberately insulting and provocative.

The fact that that the ceremony is scheduled to take place either on, or within a couple of days of, the anniversary of the 1974 Dublin/Monaghan bombings only adds insult to injury.  Where else in the world would the commander-in-chief of a foreign military be feted within yards of where eleven innocent citizens were murdered by that same military?  The British state has yet to admit its role in not only the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, but also the wider policy of collusion with the unionist death squads.’

Leeson continued by outlining éirígí’s plans for an Irish Freedom Camp:

‘At 3pm on Sunday May 15th éirígí will hold a rally at the Garden of Remembrance in opposition to the Windsor visit.  And from that time until Windsor arrives at the Garden of Remembrance we intend to establish a twenty-four hour a day presence at the gardens in the form of an ‘Irish Freedom Camp’.

We are inviting people to join the freedom camp for as long as they can, at any point over the number of days that it will be in place.  We hope that the camp will act as a rallying point for those who are opposed to this visit and all that it represents.’

Leeson concluded by outlining éirígí’s protest plans for the Dublin Castle banquet:

‘At a time when so many Irish people are struggling to put bread on the table and keep a roof over their heads  it is nothing short of sickening that the Dublin government have chosen to treat Windsor and her entourage to the most lavish of banquets in Dublin Castle.  I have no doubt that the banquet will be attended by many of the same politicians, business people and other so called leaders who are responsible for the current economic mess.  I don’t imagine that they will be asked to eat the same EU-subsidised cheese that the state was so happy to distribute to the population before Christmas.'

'éirígí are organising a protest at the Dublin Castle banquet to give the people of Dublin and the rest of the country the opportunity to not only register their disgust at the Windsor visit, but also to vent their anger at the ruling elite of this state who think they can continue to live the like princes and princesses while the rest of us face unemployment, poverty, emigration and despair.’

éirígí will be holding a demonstration, which will include the symbolic beheading of 'Elizabeth Windsor' in a mock guillotine, against the visit outside the GPO in O'Connell Street, Dublin at 1PM this Saturday April