Monday, May 30, 2011

Release of Garda exposes Corrupt Two - Tier 'Justice' System

 Last Thursday (May 26), Dean Foley was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, with 12 months suspended, for assault. Foley, a serving Garda at the time of the attack, was convicted for a brutal unprovoked attack on Stephen Murphy in Cork.  Foley knocked Murphy unconscious and inflicted a series of horrific injuries on him. As a result, Murphy suffered bleeding to the brain, broken teeth and broken bones to his face.

However, the next day, despite the savage nature of the attack, the judge that sentenced him reconsidered that sentence and suspended all of it ensuring Foley's immediate release. In an extraordinary decision, the judge decided to keep Foley out of prison because as a Garda he would have a 'harder time' serving his sentence than an ordinary prisoner would.

Convicted Garda Dean Foley

If the situation had been reversed and Garda Foley had suffered this attack and injuries at the hands of a member of the public, the attacker would not be treated so leniently. The reality is that the perpetrator would be in a prison cell for the best part of a decade.

Coincidentally a young man who carried out an assault resulting in similar injuries was recently convicted at a court in County Clare and sentenced to 6 years in prison. So while this young man goes to jail for six years, Foley walks free despite the savage brutality of his crime solely because he was a member of the Gardai.

We have regularly seen Gardai act with impunity in breaking the law and in attacking peaceful protesters. For the past ten years at anti-Shell protests in Mayo Gardai have attacked peaceful protesters causing serious injuries and hospitalisation in many instances. (click here for article on policing in north Mayo)

Victim of Garda assault at student anti-cuts demo
Such brutality are not isolated incidents. Gardai have been involved in attacking protesters on many other occasions including the 'Reclaim the Streets' demo a number of years back, éirígí's Anglo Irish Bank protest  in May of last year (click here) and the student anti-cuts protest in Dublin last November (click here).

We have seen the litany of other crimes committed by Gardai, including the planting of drugs as well as weapons and explosives, the manufacturing of false confessions and the deliberate framing of individuals as exposed by the Morris Tribunal  in Donegal.

All of the above are just the tip of the iceberg, yet how many Gardai have gone to jail for any of these offences? None.

On the other hand, those engaged in peaceful protest have regularly been imprisoned.  

Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington has been imprisoned on five separate occasions for her role in protesting against Shell's planned pipeline in north Mayo.

Pat O'Donnell after Garda Assault
Fellow campaigner Pat 'the chief' O'Donnell served five months out of a seven month sentence in Castlerea prison last year for public order offences relating to a cavalcade in support of Ms Harrington who was on hunger-strike at the time.

Many people who are unable to pay their debts or fines are regularly jailed despite the hardship inflicted on them and their families. In the first 10 months of 2010, 3,200 people were jailed in the twenty six counties for non-payment of debt.  No leniency or consideration is given by the courts and the so-called justice system as they despatch working class men and women to jail for extremely minor offences and inability to pay.

Yet here we have the extraordinary situation of a judge coming back into court the day after sending a brutal attacker to prison, to change his mind and let him go free solely because he was a Garda and might have a 'hard time' in prison.

Describing the decision as “shocking but not surprising” éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey said it exposed the “corrupt and two-tier nature” at the heart of the twenty six county state's so-called 'justice' system.

Casey said: “This is a shocking decision to allow this criminal escape justice solely on the basis of him being a Garda. It gives Gardai and others in positions of authority within this state a green light to to abuse their positions and commit horrific crimes safe in the knowledge that they will not serve time.”

“While shocking, this judgement is not surprising considering the corrupt and two—tier nature of what passes for a 'justice system' in this state. It is extremely rare for a Garda to ever have to answer for his/her crimes before the courts. It is even rarer that justice is done on the seldom occasion that they do.”

"The Gardai, the courts and the 'justice system' are not there to provide justice for working people. It is there for one reason and one reason only - to serve and protect the interests of this state's elites."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Restaurant Workers Demonstrate to Defend Conditions

Members of the Restaurant and Catering Workers Forum held a demonstration at the Annual Irish Restaurant Awards on Wednesday [May 25]. The Awards are hosted by the Restaurants Association of Ireland, which is behind an attack on the wages and conditions of workers in the industry by calling for the abolition of the Catering Employment Regulation Order

Friday, May 27, 2011

Resist the Latest Attacks on Workers Pay & Conditions

The Dublin governments enterprise minister Richard Bruton yesterday (May 26) issued a series of proposals designed to undermine the current system of Joint Labour Committees (JLC's), Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements (REA).  These are the structures which set basic rates of pay and conditions of employment across a variety of employment sectors.

Under Bruton's proposals, more than 200,000 workers could face further wage cuts and deterioration of their working conditions, particularly in the catering, hotels, security and hairdressing industries.

Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton

Amongst his proposals are plans to cut overtime and end workers entitlement to Sunday premium payments that they currently are obliged to receive under the legally binding ERO's. He also plans to scrap half of the existing 13 joint labour committees and 'review' the remit of the remainder. Extremely worrying also for workers is the creation of a new procedure whereby agreement would no longer be necessary to change legally binding registered employment agreements.

Defending his plans, Bruton described them as “a fair and balanced set of proposals that would be in the interest of creating employment”.

Unsurprisingly, employers organisation IBEC welcomed these proposals but urged Bruton to go even further and abolish the JLC's completely. They too are pushing the line that the JLC's and ERO's are causing job losses and that cutting overtime, ending Sunday premium payments and abolishing these structures completely would actually create jobs.

According to Torlach Denihan of Retail Ireland (IBEC), the Retail JLC “is destroying jobs, is unnecessary because of the minimum wage and should be abolished.”

Not everyone agrees with IBEC or Minister Bruton's jobs claims. On Tuesday the government published the review it had commissioned on this whole area of JLC's. The authors of the report, Chairman of the Labour Court Kevin Duffy and UCD professor of economics Frank Walsh, made clear that abolition of this system will NOT create employment.

However, Brendan McGinty, IBEC's director of industrial relations, was more revealing in outlining the real motives in attempting to abolish the JLC's which has nothing to do with job creation.

IBEC's Brendan McGinty

Calling for the complete scrapping of the JLC system McGinty said: “These employers and workers (in the sectors covered by the JLC's) should be free to determine their own arrangements in the same way as the overwhelming majority of those in the private sector do.”

That is precisely why workers should be very worried about any attack on the JLC's. Let's be clear - the JLC's are no radical bodies acting on behalf of workers awarding them excessive rates of pay.

They are very basic structures designed to provide basic rates of pay and minimal conditions of employment for workers in extremely vulnerable sectors of employment. These are areas where trade union representation and collective bargaining are quite often non-existent.

When McGinty says he wants employers and workers to be free to sort their own arrangements like most in the private sector do, what he actually means is they want empoyers to be free to exploit their workers, to drive down wages and working conditions without any legal recall for their employees. They want their members to be free to intimidate, to bully, to hoodwink and to pit worker against worker in order to maximise their profits at workers expense.

One of IBEC's main arguments for abolition has been that employees rights are already covered by existing employment rights legislation. Once again however, this was dismissed by the authors of the government review who outlined quite clearly that primary legislation does not adequately cover matters currently dealt with by joint labour committees and registered employment agreements.

Even despite the presence of the JLC's and of the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA), an office of Minister Bruton's department whose mission statement claims that it “aims to secure compliance with employment rights legislation and to foster a culture of compliance in Ireland”, exploitation of workers is rife by McGinty's members within the private sector.

NERA's quarterly report for September 2010 (click here to read it) revealed that in the first nine months of last year, almost €600,000 in wages owed was recouped by workers following investigations by the authority of industry sectors governed by Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) or Registered Employment Agreements (REAs).

Last year also seen the highest ever numbers of cases being referred to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). More than 15,000 complaints were made by individuals in 2010, an increase of more than 1,100 on the figures for 2009.

For anyone in any doubt the figures above are a compelling reason for workers to, at a minimum, maintain the protection and the rights afforded them through the JLC's and other legal mechanisms.

As éirígí have repeatedly pointed out, current legislation and its enforcement is inadequate. Employers have been forced to pay back money that they owed to their workers. However, the absence of fines in most instances or the miniscule fines when they are actually imposed coupled with the lack of prison sentences, means there is no effective deterrent for employers who break the law.

So rather than diminish and abolish JLC's and reduce the rights of workers, what is actually needed is that those already in existence need to be enhanced, enforced properly and punished severely when breached. A slap on the wrist and 'pay back what you owe' is not enough.  Employers who break these laws need to be going to jail for their crimes.

Condemning this latest attack on workers, éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey described them as the the “thin end of the wedge”. He said that all trade unionists and workers must unite to resist what is “a serious attack on the living standards and working conditions of employees in already vulnerable sectors”.

Casey said: “These proposals to slash rates of pay and conditions have nothing to do with creating jobs as Bruton and the employers organisations would have us believe. This is part of a long term ideological strategy to drive down wages and diminish the rights of workers using the recession as their excuse. They are about creating even larger profits for employers and making it easier for them to exploit their employees.”

They must not be allowed to succeed. If they do they will turn back the tide of all the hard won rights and entitlements that workers struggles have achieved over the past century, imperfect as they may be."

He added: “According to IBEC, Bruton should go further and abolish the JLC's altogether to bring the wage setting framework 'into the 21st century'. In reality, abolition of the JLC's, further restricting workers rights and scrapping premium payments would not be taking us into the 21st century as IBEC suggest, it would be taking us right back to the start of the 20th century.”

All trade unionists and workers need to unite to defeat these proposals. Low paid workers have already suffered massive reductions in income in order to bail out the banks and pay off the private gambling debts of big business. There can be no compromise with these proposals.”


Thursday, May 26, 2011

James Connolly, Monarchy & Labour Party Hypocrisy

The tweet below was posted by Labour party TD for East Galway Colm Keaveney on the first day of the Windsor visit and was reproduced in the Galway Independent newspaper the following day in its May 18th issue.

Below is the contents of a letter from éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey in response to Keaveney's remarks which was published in yesterday's Galway Independent (May 25th).  Just click on the image below to read the digital edition or click here to read it on the papers website.

The following text is the full content of the response to Deputy Keaveney.

A chara

Please allow me to respond to the Labour TD Colm Keaveney's ill-informed tweet relating to the Windsor visit published in last weeks Galway Independent. In it he describes the socialist republican party éirígí as 'thugs'.

So what merits such a tag in Deputy Keaveney's eyes?

Is it upholding our right to organise a series of protests against the visit of the British head of state, all of which were peaceful despite huge provocation from Gardai? Is it our refusal to be intimidated by persistent Garda actions who, in the run-up and during the visit, intimidated and threatened activists engaged in legal political activity?

Party members erecting posters in Dublin, including myself, were illegally stopped and searched and interrogated by Gardai refusing to show ID or cite what act they were acting under as obliged by law. Despite having permits to poster, these were torn down and the remainder seized by Gardai.

éirígí Dublin City Cllr Louise Minihan had her car searched by up to a dozen Gardai who seized a banner that read 'Fund Communities Not Royal Visits' deeming it to be 'offensive'. Other similar banners and flags were also seized as Gardai tried to prevent peaceful protests taking place. I was grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground by Gardai as I videoed their attempts to prevent people joining a protest at the Spire.

While the Union Jack flew over government buildings, Gardai effectively banned our national flag from Dublin city centre, seizing tri-colours and throwing them in refuse trucks.

As someone who has watched Gardai police anti-Shell protests in north Mayo, this intimidation, illegality and blatant attempts to prevent peaceful protest does not surprise me. But if Deputy Keaveney is concerned about 'thugs' he would be better served taking on those 'thugs' for which his government are responsible i.e the Gardai. Or does Deputy Keaveney think that the right to engage in legal political activity and peaceful protest should only extend to other countries and not here?  Does he believe the thuggery outlined above is acceptable?

Is mise

Gerry Casey
éirígí Sligeach

Labour TD Colm Keaveney
Previously a full-time Trade Union official with SIPTU until his recent election to Leinster House, Keaveney and his colleagues in the Labour party would like us all to believe that they are following in the footsteps of James Connolly and James Larkin.

Speaking at Arbour Hill just two days before he welcomed the first English Monarch to visit the 26 counties in 100 years off her plane, Keaveney's party leader Eamon Gilmore said: 

"It is an occasion to honour the memory of a man who, through his ideals; through his vision; and through his sacrifice; bequeathed to us a living legacy. That legacy is the Labour Party."

Gilmore welcomes Windsor to Dublin
He added:

"So as we gather to celebrate the life of James Connolly - the values he stood for, the ideals he fought for - we might also reflect on our own call to duty."  

So what were those values of Connolly's that the Labour party leader wanted to celebrate?  What for instance were Connolly's views on Monarchy and of royal visits to Ireland?

Speaking in the advance of the last 'British royal' visit in 1911 Connolly made his views absolutely crystal clear "that the occasion will be utilised to make propaganda on behalf of royalty and aristocracy against the oncoming forces of democracy and National freedom".

James Connolly
 And in comments that could just as easily be directed now at Gilmore and Keaveney he said:

"Let the capitalist and landlord class flock to exalt him; he is theirs; in him they see embodied the idea of caste and class; they glorify him and exalt his importance that they might familiarise the public mind with the conception of political inequality, knowing well that a people mentally poisoned by the adulation of royalty can never attain to that spirit of self-reliant democracy necessary for the attainment of social freedom."  

Gilmore and the Labour party have portrayed  this visit as one of the greatest moments in Irish history, as they grovelled before the English monarch, the head of what Connolly described as "a survival of the tyranny imposed by the hand of greed and treachery upon the human race in the darkest and most ignorant days of our history."
While Connolly along with other socialist republicans was leading the opposition to the last 'royal visit' to Dublin,  Gilmore and the Labour party were shutting down large sections of the city, using their political police to try to prevent protests against this visit.   Cheered on by a largely compliant and unquestioning media, they attempted to demonise and criminalise those who dared take to the streets in opposition to this visit in the same way that Connolly and Markieveicz were treated in 1911 by the British authorities.

Clearly at odds with the current Labour party view of monarchy, Connolly described it as deriving its only sanction "from the sword of the marauder, and the helplessness of the producer, and its gifts to humanity are unknown, save as they can be measured in the pernicious examples of triumphant and shameless iniquities."

So while Gilmore, Keaveney and the rest of the Labour party may wish people to believe that they are following in the footsteps of James Connolly, do they seriously think he would have welcomed the Commander in Chief of the British army to our shores while they continue to occupy part of our country?

They may want us to believe that Connolly would have wined and dined in Dublin Castle rubbing shoulders with the political and capitalist classes that have caused so much suffering to Irish workers  in order to honour  an English monarch, but does anyone with capacity for rational thought seriously believe them?  

Unlike Eamon Gilmore and the Labour party, James Connolly was avowedly opposed to capitalism, to monarchy and to all forms of privilege.  Unlike them, he was a staunch defender of workers rights and of the poor.  Unlike them, he was not a social democrat - he was a socialist and a revolutionary socialist at that.  Unlike them, he was an anti-imperialist opposed to the occupation of any part of Ireland by a foreign government.

In his final statement which was given to his daughter Nora on the eve of his execution, Connolly re-iterated his position on the British occupation in no uncertain terms.

"The British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland

Commandant-General, Dublin Division,
Army of the Irish Republic

May 9th 1916 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rebel Cork Opposes Windsor Visit Despite Political Police Intimidation

éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey has slammed the harassment and intimidation of éirígí activists in Cork by Gardai during the recent Windsor visit as "shameful".  He said it was indicative of the political nature of the  twenty six county police force and their contempt for the right to protest and the right to enagage in legitimate political activity.
Rebel Cork Says No to the British Queen 
Casey was speaking in the wake of the  attendance by the commander-in-chief of Britain’s armed forces, Elizabeth Windsor  at events in Cork on the final day of her visit to the twenty six county. state  Despite the media fanfare and a massive security operation, socialist republicans from across Cork were to the fore in opposing the presence of the figurehead of British imperialism.
Hundreds of posters and stickers were erected throughout the city centre and over 3,000 leaflets were distributed to households in areas such as Gurranabraher, Knocknaheeny, Mayfield and Togher.

However, in a repeat of the harassment of local activists during the May Day march by political police in the city, éirígí activists were subjected to a sustained campaign of surveillance, detention, stop-and-searches and the theft of legitimate political materials such as leaflets and banners.

Perhaps the most serious incident in this campaign of harassment took place on May 19, when éirígí members were again detained soon after erecting a banner stating Fund Communities not Royal Visits.

The activists were held in a petrol station forecourt for almost an hour by no less than 18 Gardaí, including members of the Armed Response Unit and a plethora of Special Branch secret police.

During this detention, personal items such as mobile phones and cameras were seized and private contents such as text messages and photographs were read and recorded.

The vehicle in which the activists were travelling was also subject to an invasive search, while banners and other materials were confiscated by a detective, who preposterously cited “incitement to hatred” legislation.

The fact that the Special Branch view a call to fund deprived communities in Cork ahead of fêting a foreign monarch as “incitement to hatred” speaks volumes about the mentality of this particular police force.

Condemning this behaviour Casey said:  "This is political policing at its worst.  The sole purpose of Garda actions had nothing to do with 'security' or 'public order' but with preventing peaceful protest and stifling opposition to the Windsor visit.  Just as with the Gardai's behaviour in Dublin, their colleagues in Cork showed that they would not be outdone in their attempts to harass and intimidate political activists engaged in legitimate peaceful activity."

"These actions, including the theft of political material, in Dublin and Cork were not the actions of over-zealous or rogue cops.  This was a deliberate policy implemented from the top down within the Gardai, obviously on the orders of their political masters."

Casey concluded:  "A decision was taken to try to stop or at least  to minimise the protests and to deter the public from joining the protests where they did occur.  They also were obviously given the green light to use whatever means necessary to do so.  This included the systematic breaking of their own laws by the use of illegal stop and searches and the theft and destruction of banners, posters and other political materials."
However, éirígí activists in Cork City have pledged their determination to continue promoting the politics of socialist republicanism and will not be deterred in their efforts by petty attempts at bullying or harassment by the political police.

éirígí Easter Commemorations

Below are video's & photographs from last months éirígí organised Easter Commemorations





Monday, May 23, 2011

éirígí pledge to oppose any 'royal visits' to North-West

éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey has re-affirmed his party's commitment to organise demonstrations in the north-west against the visit of any member of the English 'royal family' to the region.

Casey was speaking in the wake of two days of protests organised by éirígí in Dublin against the visit of Elizabeth Windsor, the British head of state and Commander in Chief of the British army. He was responding to local media reports that an invitation has been extended to Charles Windsor to visit the region.

Casey said: “The shameful visit of Windsor to Dublin was met with a series of éirígí organised protests during her stay in the City.  Gardai shut down the City Centre and intensive efforts were made by them to prevent peaceful protests taking place through intimidation, threats and assaults.”

“They carried out illegal stop and searches and stole political material including posters and banners off activists advertising and taking part in peaceful protests..  As the Union  Jack flew from government buildings, Gardai were effectively banning our national flag, the tricolour, from our capital city, confiscating them and dumping them in bins and refuse trucks.  Despite this, Windsor was met with loud demonstrations and determined opposition to her presence.”

“To those who wish to see any member of the 'royal family' here in the north-west, éirígí wish to make it clear that we will oppose on the streets any such visit to the region the same as we did in Dublin over the past week.”

Casey concluded: “There should be no welcome for these people who are parasites living lives of luxury and leisure on the backs of the working classes of Britain whom they view as their 'subjects'. There should be no welcome for the Commander in chief of the British military which continues to occupy the six-counties and is involved in slaughter and war crimes in many places around the world.”

The Anti-Windsor March on Dublin Castle – Full Report

The largest demonstration of the entire Windsor state visit took place on Wednesday [May 18] with éirígí’s March on Dublin Castle. Despite the best efforts of the state and the corporate media to deter people from taking to the streets up to 350 people joined the protest, which assembled at the site of Robert Emmet’s execution at St Catherine’s Church on Dublin’s Thomas Street.

Although the start time for the first of the speakers had to be postponed by half an hour to facilitate those who had been delayed by the lockdown of Dublin city, the crowd was kept well entertained by Joe Keegan’s repertoire of rebel songs.

At 6.15pm the first of the speaker’s, éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan, took to the platform. She was followed by independent Councillor Davey Hyland from Newry, independent Dublin City Councillor Cieran Perry, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland Eugene McCartan, independent Fermanagh Councillor Bernice Swift and éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith.

A common theme of opposition to Windsor, and the archaic system of monarchy, class and imperialism that she symbolises, emerged from the contributions of all the speakers. Belfast singer/songwriter Pól MacAdaim’s songs of resistance resonated with those themes. Videos of all those who spoke and sang will be posted on this website shortly.

With Breandán’s contribution complete the march lined up on Thomas Street behind the lead banner which bore the words ‘Britain out of Ireland’. Behind that a black coffin bearing the words ‘British Empire’ was carried by four protesters. And behind that again the main body of the protest assembled carrying a range of colourful placards, flags and banners.

As the protest moved off a cacophony of whistles and chants rose above the Rebel Liberties, a sound that was added to by the approving claps and cheers of many of the onlookers that lined Thomas Street. By the time the march reached the top of Francis Street it has swelled in size to an estimated 350 people. It was at this point that a detachment of roughly fifty helmet-wearing, baton-yielding Gardaí moved rapidly from a side street to form a line along the right-hand side of the march, where they remained for the remainder of the protest.

Hundreds of Riot Police Block March from Proceeding to Dublin Castle

By the time the March on Dublin Castle reached the Garda lines it was clear that the state had no intention of allowing the protest to get any further than Christchurch Cathedral. Hundreds of Gardaí, many wearing helmets and carrying batons, positioned themselves on three sides of the demonstration. It was a show of strength without any recent parallel in the Twenty-Six Counties, which made a mockery of the suggestion that the state was willing to tolerate opposition to the Windsor visit. The air of intimidation surrounding an entirely peaceful protest was palpable.

Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson then addressed the crowd, congratulating people on their courage and discipline in the face of the extreme provocation provided by both the Windsor visit and the security operation that surrounded it. Hundreds of black balloons were then released in memory of all of those who have died at the hands of Windsor’s official and unofficial death squads. And the black coffin of the British Empire was left at the Garda lines.

Brian Leeson addresses crowd at Garda Lines
In his closing contribution Brian reminded those present that thousands of people had lined the streets of Dublin in 1911 to greet ‘King George V’ and only a couple of hundred had joined with James Connolly to oppose it. And that was only five years before the 1916 Rising. In five short years everything can change. The challenge now is to accelerate the rebuilding of the republican movement to ensure that any future British royal visit will be met not by three hundred protesters but by ten thousand.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Anti-UDA/Windsor Protest at the Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge

The second day of Elizabeth Windsor’s state visit to the Twenty-Six Counties saw éirígí activists and supporters staging protests at Islandbridge and Dublin Castle. The first protest was called after it was revealed that up to thirty leading members of the Ulster Defence Association had been invited to attend a wreath-laying ceremony in the Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge.
Before the protest even began, however, it was clear that the Gardaí were intent on provoking conflict. As éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan arrived at the assembly point at Kilmainham Jail her car was pulled over and searched. During the course of the search a banner with the words ‘Fund Communities, Not Royal Visits!’ was seized on the spurious grounds of it being “offensive material”. A video of the search can be seen below.

By the time the Gardaí had completed their search of Minihan’s car a force of at least forty Gardaí had assembled outside of the building where the leaders of the 1916 rising were executed. There is little doubt that those brave men would have been disgusted at the prospect of the British Head of State and her UDA henchmen being afforded such an extravagant welcome by the Dublin government.

With Windsor now in the Memorial Gardens the thirty or so protesters made their way along Inchicore Road with the intention of demonstrating at the junction of Memorial Road and the N4. But this was not to be, as the Gardaí blocked access to Memorial Road with a line of rapidly deployed boys in yellow. When questioned on the legality of his impromptu roadblock, the commanding Garda replied that he was acting under the provisions contained within Section 21, a phrase that was becoming all too familiar to people across Dublin.

With their preferred route to the Memorial Gardens blocked the protesters returned to Kilmainham Jail to lay a wreath in memory of the victims of the UDA, before making a second attempt to access the Gardens. On this occasion upwards of 100 Gardaí were deployed to block the junction of South Circular Road and the N4. Although not as close to the Memorial Gardens as had been originally intended, the protesters’ voices, whistles and bodhráns loudly proclaimed their opposition to the mass murderers of the UDA.

While the protest may not have been particularly large that did not diminish from the hugely important principle upon which is was based; that it was morally bankrupt for the Twenty-Six County authorities to invite the leaders of one of the most vicious of unionist death squads to Dublin. As befitting an act of solidarity with the victims of the UDA, the protest was conducted with discipline and dignity throughout, despite the provocations of the state’s bully-boys.

éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey, who was among those taking part in the demonstration at Islandbridge, slammed the actions of the Gardai in attempting to prevent legitimate peaceful protests as "beneath contempt".

Casey said:  "It is highly ironic that those of us protesting against the presence of the UDA at Islandbridge are intimidated and threatened while those unionist death squad leaders are received as special guests complete with Garda protection.  Even more so was the fact that Gardai siezed a 'fund communities not royal visits' banner from the car of Cllr Louise Minihan on the basis that it was somehow 'offensive'."

"What was really offensive was not a political banner but the presence of the UDA death squads and the role of the Gardai in attempting to prevent our protest.  Their intimidation of protesters by issuing threats to arrest  searching cars and individuals, seizing political material, manhandling people and trying to prevent photos and video footage being taken was beneath contempt."

Casey concluded:  "Once again the Gardai have shown themselves as a political police force who have no hesitation in breaking their own laws in order to protect the interests of the political and business elite in this state.  They also have put the interests of the British state and their proxies in the unionist death squads before  the interests of the citizens of this state, in particular the families of the victims of collusion who continue to seek justice for their loved ones."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Windsor Visit – A Bad Week for Irish Journalism

For months the political, business and media establishment have told us that the Windsor visit would result in all sorts of benefits and positive changes for this state.  So now as she has finally left our shores, what are all these benefits and what exactly has changed as a result of this visit?  Has there been any postive political developments?  Has there been any change in the relationship between the peoples of Britain and Ireland?

According to Kathy Sheridan writing in the Irish Times on Wednesday - 'All is changed, changed utterly'. The reality however is completely different. Look beyond the media hype and spin and it is clear that nothing has changed at all.

As the Windsors departed our shores yesterday (Friday) their government continue to deny the Irish people the right to self-determination. Just one hundred miles up the road from our capital city, 5000 British troops continue to occupy the six counties. The 9000 strong human rights abusing British paramilitary police – the RUC/PSNI – and the hundreds of MI5 operatives who enforce the occupation remain in place also.

The RUC/PSNI continue to engage in a systematic campaign of harassment and intimidation against those who dare challenge British rule in Ireland. They continue to carry out house-raids and terrorise nationalist estates as well as engaging in illegal stop and search operations which violate human rights legislation.

The internment of ex republican POW's has also been stepped up with Marian Price last week being the latest to be jailed at the behest of the British government without trial. The denial of political status for republican prisoners, their ill-treatment and torture and miscarriages of justice all continue unabated.

Have the families of the victims of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, the anniversary of which was the very day Windsor arrived in Dublin, received a commitment that the British government will open their secret files on their role in the atrocities? Once more the answer is no as Britain rules out doing so, denying justice yet again to the families. Yet not a single whimper of protest from the sorry excuse for leaders of this so-called 'republic' who were too busy bowing and scraping before the 'British Royals' to stand up for the people they claim to govern on behalf of.

As for the relationship between the people of Ireland and Britain, nothing has changed there either.

Why not?  Put simply this visit was never about them. This was about a select wealthy political and business elite who care nothing for the working class people of either Ireland or Britain. It was about 'normalising', not relations between Irish and British people, but rather the continued military and political occupation of the six counties.

Over recent months the establishment went into overdrive promoting this visit and trying to downplay and silence opposition to it.  However, even more shameful was the unquestioning sycophantic role played by the corporate media over this visit. We have been treated to months and months of meaningless platitudes such as 'its time to move on', 'leave the past behind us', 'forgive and forget' and the extreme nonsense that somehow welcoming an undemocratic, sectarian, head of an occupying army is somehow us as a nation 'maturing'.

Gardai try to Intimidate éirígí activists legally erecting posters in Dublin on eve of Windsor visit
In a prime example of how overwhelmingly pro-establishment, compliant and gutless the corporate media in this state is, they ensured that there was absolutely no critical analysis of these platitudes and bogus assertions. There was virtually no questioning of the basis of any of those claims regardless of how ludricous they were. Instead they merely produced article after article, opinion piece after opinion piece, parroting the 'consensus' of how great the English Monarch is and how great this visit would be for all of us.  And as for anyone who had the cheek to question this consensus the corporate media spared no effort in their attempts to portray them as somehow being political dinosaurs filled with hate and bitterness.

So it would have been hard to imagine that Irish corporate media coverage of the actual visit itself could be any more cringeworthy. However, to be fair to them, they made a sterling effort and succeeded to produce four days of vomit inducing commentary that ignored the opposition to it and ignored the plight of Dublin residents suffering under the massive security operation and lock-down. They also deliberately ignored the co-ordinated and illegal actions of the Gardai in attempting to prevent legitimate peaceful protest.
Union Jack Flies above Government Buildings Dublin while Gardai throw Irish National Flag in Refuse truck
None dared break the consensus and report on Gardai stealing posters and banners or throwing the national flag in rubbish bins and refuse trucks as they effectively banned it from the capital city of this state. There was no questioning as to whether the tens of millions of euros spent on this visit would have been better spent elsewhere, such as in our hospitals and schools or for Special Needs Assistants and Carers or to assist the families of victims of British atrocities.

They did not dare direct their “move forward” comments towards Windsor and her government. Surely it would have been appropriate to ask that in order to 'move forward' and 'put the past behind us' that the British finally end their occupation of the six counties? Surely they could have asked them if they were genuine in wanting improved relations between Ireland and Britain that they open up their secret files on their involvement in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and other atrocities they committed in collusion with the unionist death squads (whose leaders were her special guests at islandbridge on Wednesday)?

But no, silence on these issues was the consensus. No mention of the fact that these troops of hers continue to commit atrocities around the world.  Indeed within hours of Windsor departing from Ireland, hundreds of her notorious Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) soldiers marched through Ballymena after completing their latest stint in their brutal occupation of Afghanistan. 

No mention of the fact that she is a war crimes apologist. No mention of the fact that she continues to refuse to strip from the Paratroopers responsible for the Bloody Sunday massacre the honours that she awarded those murderers. 

Instead we heard a narrative of a little old lady and her husband over for a few quiet days in Ireland to promote peace and goodwill.  And no 'journalist' dared ask the obvious question – what exactly is it about this anti-democratic, sectarian, war crimes apologist who lives a life of privilege, that has the leaders of this so-called 'republic' here in the 26 counties almost wetting themselves with excitement at the prospect of being in her company and fawning over her? 

The one sure thing that could be said about the Irish corporate media's coverage was that it could not be described, no matter how broad a definition used, as 'journalism'. Those that produced such biased, unquestioning and sycophantic reports in this propaganda blitz should hang their heads in shame. It has exposed yet again a complete lack of any credible mainstream media outlet willing to critically examine or question the political establishment line.

Friday, May 20, 2011

éirígí anti-Windsor Protests, May 17th – Full Report

Tuesday’s [May 17] day of protest against the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor began on O’Connell Street when a group of éirígí activists and supporters staged an impromptu sit-down protest beside the Spire monument. As Windsor left Casement Aerodrome, on the outskirts of the city, the chants of ‘Can you hear us loud and clear? British royals not welcome here!’ and ‘Whose streets? Our streets?’ were echoing off the historic GPO.

As more activists arrived with flags and megaphones the face of the Gardaí said it all. Despite the massive security operation that had been put in place it was clear that the voice of Irish republicanism was going to be loudly heard in the centre of Dublin. By the time Gardaí formed a line to prevent further supporters joining the protest there were already thirty people sitting on the ground, with more arriving by the minute.

Within ten minutes of the action starting there were two groups of protesters in place – one on the otherwise deserted central plaza of Dublin’s main thoroughfare and one hemmed behind the police line at the top of Henry Street. With roughly two hours remaining until Windsor’s scheduled arrival on O’Connell Street scores of Gardaí began to forcibly push protesters back down Henry Street.

When that task was completed another large force of Gardaí prepared to move on the activists sitting beside the Spire. In the face of certain arrest and removal from the streets for the duration of the Garden of Remembrance ceremony, the group of activists made their way en bloc to their comrades at the top of Moore Street.

The professionalism of the Garda was to the fore as the various top brass starting issuing contradictory orders to various sections of their yellow-coated goons. So as some Gardaí tried to arrest the protesters others opened the police line to let them onto Henry Street, and yet more started pushing protesters back down the street!

The chaotic scenes continued for roughly five minutes before the now 150-strong group of éirígí activists and supporters made their way to 16 Moore Street for a wreath-laying ceremony. The protest had lasted over half an hour, during which time hundreds of onlookers and dozens of journalists had witnessed both the dignity of the protesters and the aggression of the Gardaí.

At 16 Moore Street éirígí ‘s Ursula Ní Shionnain gave a brief speech prior to the laying of a wreath in memory of all of those who have died for Irish freedom, which was followed by a minute’s silence. With the ceremony complete the large and very loud protest moved onwards towards the Garda line at the corner of Parnell Square. Once there, the entire crowd sat down on the road where they remained for close to two hours in a remarkable demonstration of dignified and disciplined political protest.

Those who found themselves sitting on Parnell Street were an unusual mix of seasoned political activists, school children, university students, workers, the unemployed and those who call the streets of the north inner city home. For almost two hours they sang rebel songs, chanted anti-royal slogans, blew whistles and banged drums – united in their opposition to Windsor and all that she represents.

Despite the oppressive security operation and the ample provocation of Windsor’s presence in the Garden of Remembrance, the ever-swelling crowd did not walk into the trap that the forces of the state had laid for them. Instead they maintained a dignified and disciplined protest which succeeded in its objective.

Footage of the protest was beamed around the world by Sky News and other multi-national news stations. The message was unmistakable – Windsor is not welcome; Britain out of Ireland. In countless radio, television and print interviews éirígí spokespeople hammered home that same message again and again. And when Windsor finally arrived at the Garden of Remembrance the noise of the protest was deafening as hundreds of voices, whistles, drums and air-horns screamed their unmistakable opposition to the British Empire.

Although Windsor, and the apologists that joined her, may not have seen any protesters they most certainly heard them, a fact confirmed by journalists who were in the Garden and those who could hear the protest as far away as Denmark Street. All in all, it was a most unusual and most successful protest – one that sat in perfect harmony with the anti-royal protests of Connolly and Markievicz one hundred years before hand.