Thursday, June 30, 2011

Newry Protest against Ongoing PSNI Harassment

Protest against ongoing MI5 and PSNI harassment of republicans, organised by éirígí.

Saturday 2nd July. Ardmore PSNI barracks, Belfast Road, Newry, 2pm

The Political Face of the Gardaí

In the weeks preceding the visit of Elizabeth Windsor to Dublin in May, it was made quite clear that the Twenty-Six County state would not tolerate any form of political protest.

In fact, anyone expressing any dissenting view from the official line that the commander-in-chief of Britain’s armed forces was welcome was to be regarded as a subversive troublemaker.

It began with the national media’s campaign to inform the Irish people that anyone who had the least objection to Windsor’s state visit was a political dinosaur. We were treated to warnings of doomsday scenarios in which crazed republicans, mad mullahs and members of the flat earth society would burn down or bomb our capital city to the ground. But, lest we panicked, we were assured that An Garda Síochána had a masterful plan to protect the peace from these nihilists intent only on rapine and destruction.

This plan involved the Gardaí instigating a campaign of political repression to a level not previously witnessed in the state for many years. Those who attempted to raise awareness of why Windsor should not be made welcome in Ireland were to be intimidated off the streets.

In the days and weeks before the visit, political activists were followed around Dublin and stopped and questioned on every street. Personal possessions were confiscated, as well as political leaflets, flags and banners. Activists were body searched and photographed.

Despite being shown a council permit, which allowed for the erection of political posters, Gardaí began to rip down the same posters, at first, only at night but, later, in broad daylight.

The Gardaí behaved extremely aggressively; there was plenty of charming comments to political activists such as “Just clear the fuck off home” and “We are going to sort ye out tomorrow [the day of the Windsor’s arrival].” Responses to activists who spoke in Irish included “I don‘t speak Polish” and “Just speak fucking English”. A number of Gardaí would not give their name or number.

It has been remarked that, when needed, the Gardaí are nowhere to be found in certain, invariably working class, communities in Dublin. Therefore, the scene of thousands of Gardaí crowding our streets to squash any political dissent before and during the Windsor visit demands explanation.

The short answer is that the Gardaí, just like police forces the world over, are a political organisation. Their first duty is the protection of the state and the protection of the interests of those who run the state. The promotion of crime-free environments in working class communities is way down the list of obligations, if on the list at all.

The measures taken by the Gardaí over the past weeks is a worrying sign and raises concerns for all citizens in the Twenty-Six Counties who value political freedom. Now Windsor has been and gone, what next might the state declare offensive or a threat to public order? What campaign or opinion might they next attempt to close down or silence?

Now that the Gardaí have discovered that they can suppress civil liberties without any outcry from the public, how far will they push their new found powers?

There has long been an attitude among political activists to simply accept whatever harassment they receive from the Gardaí as ‘just the way things are’. This attitude has got to change.

Republicans and socialists made a clear demonstration during the Windsor visit that the streets do not belong to the Gardaí. They belong to us, the citizens of Ireland. Irish citizens have every right to organise and express their views without harassment. People must become educated on their rights. They must learn to stand calm and firm in the face of state intimidation and to challenge it at every opportunity.

We cannot allow a situation to develop in this country where those in power believe that they will be able to close down any political activity that they wish.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Anti-Racism World Cup 2011

The Anti-Racism World Cup (ARWC) will take place again this year at Donegal Celtic FC in West Belfast from Friday 22 July through to Sunday 24th.  For the last five years teams have travelled from across the world to play against teams from various ethnic minority groups and from local communities in Belfast and across Ireland.

Last years tournament involved over 500 local people and 100 international guests and was a showcase for Anti-Racism against a backdrop of an upsurge of racist attacks in Belfast.
This year the ARWC intend to bring more teams to Belfast, including for the first time a Palestinian youth team, and to make the tournament the largest anti-racist event in Ireland in 2011

The Teams and their supporters take part not just in a weekend of football with local Irish Teams but also participate in political talks, exchanging ideas and talking about their experiences with local groups and individuals, and of course there’s the top class international and local music line-up and the family fun fair.

If your organisation would like to become part of the ARWC come along to the launch or contact or alternatively log on to their website for more details by clicking here

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Saor Éire 2011 – A gathering for socialists and republicans: Video Essay

On May 7th of this year, éirígí held a day long conference in the Aisling Hotel in Dublin entitled "Saor Éire 2011 – A gathering for socialists and republicans".  

Below are a number of video's of addresses made to the conference by a variety of speakers on a range of subjects.

Monday, June 27, 2011

PSNI - Different Name, Same Aim

The following article was written by former Republican POW and Blanketman Alec McCrory from Belfast.  It was written following a recent protest at Maghaberry prison in support of the Republican POW's

Returning from the protest several cars and a minibus were stopped on the Miora Road by the RUC/PSNI. There were 8 to 10 land rovers present and a few dozen of the meanest looking cops dressed like something out of a Star Wars movie. 

All the passengers on the minibus, including children, were ordered out of the vehicle onto the hard shoulder where they were searched and asked for their personal details. This was the second time in an hour that the bus had been stopped; the first being on the Donegal Road as it was leaving Belfast. In total upward to thirty people were stopped and searched in what was clearly an intelligence gathering exercise. The protest at the jail, attended by 500 people, was peaceful and orderly throughout. It now appears that anyone, regardless of age, participating in peaceful protest will be targeted by the state.

Earlier in the afternoon I was stopped on the Anderstown Road.  Two land rovers and an unmarked police car were at the scene which makes one wonder whether Baggot's claim to be under resourced isn't just a gimmick to squeeze more money from the public pot.  Any time I am stopped there would appear to be an abundance of resources on the ground.  

As I stood on the road watching them going through personal documents, which they are not entitled to do under the legislation, I noted the interest being shown by passing motorists and pedestrians.  A crowd of onlookers stood at the entrance of the Felons watching the proceedings with an enquiring gaze.  Long gone are the days when people would stop to show their disapproval of such policing tactics, however, a few horns were sounded as a small gesture of solidarity. 

Is there a growing tolerance within our communities for this type of policing?  Do people really believe that certain republicans deserve to be targeted by the state because of their political beliefs?  Felon setting is alive and well in some quarters.

Those who make excuses for political policing would do well to remember the not too distant past.  When the IRA was the nemesis of the British state thousands of republicans were imprisoned under emergency laws designed to crush dissent.  Under the guise of the international "War on Terror" laws protecting the human rights and civil liberties of citizens have been grossly undermined.  

The RUC/PSNI has greater powers today than before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.  Anti-terror legislation is so wide-ranging that Marion Price was re-imprisoned for "encouraging support for terrorism".  It is no longer necessary to commit an offense to find oneself in prison.  The repressive arm of the British state will be used to silence all who continue to swim against the tide of normalisation. 

Beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fifth Anglo Irish Protester’s Case Thrown out of Court

Justice – Twenty-Six County Style

Those attending Court 17 of the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin on Friday June 17 were given a master class on just how ‘justice’ in the Twenty-Six Counties is dispensed. It took District Court Judge McDonnell less than ninety minutes to throw the case against éirígí’s Daithí Mac An Mháistir out of court. Under normal circumstances this verdict would have been a cause for celebration for the accused, so why was it that it was the Gardaí in Court 17 that had smiles on their faces?

And why was it that a crucial piece of defence evidence - in the form of a tape recording from inside of Pearse Street Garda barracks – was handed by the courts to the Gardaí, despite the fact that the tape recording had not been played in court?

Anglo Irish Bank Protest May 15th 2010

To fully understand what happened on Friday 17th one has first to go back to May 15, 2010 when four éirígí activists staged an early morning protest on the roof of the front porch of the Anglo Irish Bank building on Dublin’s Stephens Green. Five hours into their protest the four, Ursula Ní Shionnain, Daithi Ó Riain, Robbie Fox and Eoin Ó Se were violently removed from the porch by the Gardaí.

In the minutes that followed a further three people, John McCusker, Pádraig Ó Meiscill and Daithí Mac An Mháistir were arrested by baton-yielding Gardaí on the ground. All seven éirígí activists were then brought to Pearse Street Garda barracks before appearing in the Bridewell Court on a range of public order charges. While six of the accused were immediately released on bail, McCusker spent forty-eight hours in Clover Hill Prison at the behest of the Gardaí who claimed they were not satisfied that McCusker was who he said he was. Click here for a full report on the Anglo Irish protest of May 15, 2010.

McCusker and Ó Meiscill – Convicted and Appealed

On January 18th 2011 the case against McCusker and Ó Meiscill case was heard by Judge Watkins in the District Court in the Criminal Courts of Justice. Both men were charged under the controversial Public Order Act 1994, a piece of legislation which has attracted widespread criticism since it was introduced. In its prosecution the state failed to produce any video or photographic evidence, or any non-Garda witnesses.

In effect the case boiled down to whether the judge believed the word of the Gardaí or the word of the defendants. Despite the many inconsistencies and contradictions contained within the Garda evidence Judge Watkins chose to believe the Gardaí. But before convicting the two Belfast men she took the opportunity to call them liars and repeatedly question what business people from ‘outside the jurisdiction’ had attending a protest in Dublin. Both men immediately appealed their convictions, which have yet to be heard.

Ní Shionnain, Ó Riain, Fox and Ó Se – Case Thrown out of Court

On April 4th 2011 the case against the four people who had taken part in the protest on the roof of the porch of Anglo Irish Headquarters was heard. On this occasion the state alleged that Ní Shionnain, Ó Riain, Fox and Ó Se had breached Section 13 of the Public Order Act, by trespassing on the roof of the porch of the Anglo Irish Bank headquarters in a ‘manner as causes or is likely to cause fear in another person’. In reality the four had climbed onto the roof and erected a large banner with the words ‘People of Ireland Rise Up!’ emblazoned upon it.

During their trial a number of Garda and civilian witnesses gave testimony that was simply untrue, variously claiming that the protest represented a safety risk and that the four were aggressive, abusive and threatening. The opportunity to fully refute these untruths was denied to the defendants when the judge threw the case out of court before the defence had even begun.

As the prosecution presented its case it emerged that the porch roof constituted a ‘common area’ which all tenants of the building had the right to access. While the state brought representatives from Irish Life Assurance, which owns the building, and Anglo Irish Bank, which part occupy the building, it failed to bring a representative from ESB International, the second co-tenant of the building. Without a representative from ESB International in court to deny that the company had given the four éirígí activists permission to access the porch the judge had no option but to acquit the accused as the state had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were in fact trespassing.

Daithí Mac An Mháistir – The Prosecution, May 9th, 2011

Accused of breaching Section 6 of the Public Order Act, Daithí Mac An Mháistir was the last of the seven éirígí activists who had been charged on May 15th 2010 to be brought to trial. His trial was conducted over two days with the prosecution presenting their case on the afternoon of May 9th and the defence refuting the charges on June 17th.

The case against Mac An Mháistir was, like the cases against Ó Meiscill and McCusker, based exclusively on the testimony of a number of Garda witnesses. Despite the alleged offence having taken place at the rear of a bank headquarters on one of Dublin’s busiest streets the state failed to produce any video or photographic footage from Anglo Irish Bank, Dublin City Council, adjacent buildings or any other source. Stranger still the state failed to produce any Garda video or photographic evidence despite the fact that a number of Gardaí were using both video and stills camera’s throughout the May 15th protest.

Nor were any civilian witnesses brought in to back up the Garda allegations, even though the alleged offences took place on a bustling city street on a Saturday afternoon. So when the state accused Mac An Mháistir of ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or being reckless as to whether a breach of the peace may be occasioned’, it did so solely on the basis of the word of three Gardaí.

As is so often the case with Garda witnesses each of the three provided a strange mix of testimony, which was at times very definitive and yet at other times very vague. For example all three Garda witnesses recounted hearing the defendant shouting a range of colourful obscenities at the Garda line. And yet the same witnesses couldn’t hear, or couldn’t recall, what words Superintendant Joe Gannon had used when directing the protesters to move out of the way just minutes later. When asked if Gannon had used the correct formula of words when invoking Section 8 of the Public Order Act, or had Gannon just told people to get out of the way the Garda witnesses previously excellent powers of recall hit a convenient blind spot.

Another example of this schizophrenic recall saw each of the three Garda witnesses give a very precise recollection of seeing Mac An Mháistir step out of the line of protesters and ‘push’ or ‘shove’ Gannon, before running away. Yet the same witnesses had very vague recollections of if, when, why or how the Gardaí had drawn and used their batons against unarmed protesters.

One witness, a Garda O’Brien, who was capable of remembering that he had drawn his baton, was incapable of remembering why he or any of his colleagues hadn’t subsequently completed the requisite baton report form. Nor had he any recollection of hearing Superintendant Joe Gannon of Pearse Street tell him that there would blood spilled at the éirígí protest in the days before May 15th.

In previous cases involving éirígí activists, Garda witnesses have revealed special powers to rival those of the X-men, with extraordinary powers of recall and x-ray vision being the most common special powers. On this occasion the super-human hearing of Templemore’s finest was on display, when Garda O’Brien revealed that he was able to hear things that weren’t even said. He told the court that one of the four protesters on the porch roof had threatened to jump off if the Gardaí came any closer – a ridiculous claim that was met with open laughter from many in the public gallery.

In relation to the defendant’s arrest and the sequence of events directly prior to his arrest, each of the three Gardaí recounted near-identical versions of what they had claimed to have seen. Those sitting in the public gallery could have been forgiven for thinking that these testimonies had been scripted and rehearsed. The striking similarities between each of the Garda accounts were all the more remarkable when one understands that they collectively bore little resemblance to what actually happened, as borne out by contemporary photos and videos.

A Garda O’Riordan, the arresting officer, testified that she had witnessed a line of protesters and a line of Gardaí in a standoff; that the defendant had stepped out of the line of protesters to push Superintendant Gannon; that she had chased the defendant and grabbed his arm; that he had pushed her backwards and that Garda O’Brien had come to her assistance to effect the arrest.

When it was put to O’Riordan that the defendant had been put to the ground on three separate occasions by the Gardaí, she denied that this had happened. When it was put to the O’Riordan that she had put the defendant in a headlock she denied that this too had happened. And yet video footage from the protest clearly shows the defendant on the ground on three separate occasions and also shows the O’Riordan putting the defendant in a headlock.

By the time the prosecution had completed its deeply flawed case it was late afternoon, meaning that the defence could not be heard. Following a lengthy discussion June 17th emerged as the next available date that Judge McDonald, the state prosecutor and the defence were all available to complete the case.

But before the court rose the defence moved to admit an important piece of evidence on the basis that the relevant witness would not be able to attend the court on June 17th. When it emerged that the witness, Robert Sevcik was in possession of a tape recording from inside of Pearse Street Garda barracks the atmosphere within the court shifted dramatically. Now it was the turn of the state prosecutor and the Gardaí to start sweating.

When he took the stand Sevcik explained that he had taken part in an anti-fur protest outside of Barnardos furriers at the bottom of Grafton Street on the afternoon of May 15th 2010. During the course of the protest he had been arrested on public order offences by Gardaí based in Pearse Street. Prior to his arrest Sevcik had switched on a digital recording device which was subsequently taken from him when he was taken into Garda custody. When the device was returned to Sevcik a number of months later he discovered that the recording device had continued recording for a significant period of time inside of the Garda barracks.

Despite the best efforts of a clearly flustered state prosecutor to establish what exactly was on the tape the judge ruled that he would allow the tape recording to be played at the next court appearance on June 17. The disk which contained a copy of the recording was then placed in the care of the court registrar who was directed to lodge it in the court safe until June 17th.

Daithí Mac An Mháistir – The Defence, June 17th 2011

Those who are familiar with court procedures know that it is normal practice for all parties to be present in the court before the judge enters the chamber, which usually occurs on time. On the afternoon of June 17th, however, Judge McDonnell and a number of Gardaí witnesses were almost half an hour late arriving in court, an unusual occurrence which set the tone for what was to follow.

McDonnell aimed his first salvo at the defence, unusually demanding that any legal submissions be made at that point – prior to any element of the defence case being heard. When the defence questioned the legal basis for such a requirement he was instructed to leave the court to take direction from his client on the matter. Twenty minutes later the defence team and the accused returned to the court and informed the judge that they would not be making any submissions at this point, whilst reserving the right to make such submissions later in the case. If the judge thought that the defence were going to be bullied into making a submission which would allow him to throw the case out of court he was sadly mistaken.

Having failed to force the defence to make premature legal submissions McDonnell turned his attention to the state prosecutor, questioning the legal basis for the case being taken against the defendant. In a bizarre twist the Judge began to question at what point the defendant had been informed of the reason for his arrest.

It should be noted that this issue had not been raised at any prior point by the prosecution or the defence. In effect the judge was introducing an entirely new element to the case – an element which legal experts believe would have been instantly dismissed by McDonnell or any other District Court judge had it been introduced by the defence. Having himself introduced the issue of when the defendant was informed of the reasons for his arrest, the judge went on to dismiss the arguments of the state prosecutor and use the issue as the basis for throwing the entire case out of court.

Having stopped the case before the defence had even started; Judge McDonnell produced the disk which Sevcik had brought to court on May 9th, allegedly to ensure that it could be returned to Sevcik. A disk that contained recordings of conversations between Gardaí inside of Pearse Street barracks on the day of the Anglo Irish protest. A disk that the Gardaí had not heard and did not have access to. A disk that had been submitted by a defence witness who had himself been the victim of Garda harassment and abuse.

So how did Judge McDonnell propose to return the disk to Sevcik? By entrusting the disk to the Gardaí that were present in court – the very same Gardaí who had policed the protest at Anglo Irish Bank; the very same Gardaí who had forcibly removed the four éirígí protesters from the roof of the porch; the very same Gardaí who had attacked unarmed protesters with batons; the very same Gardaí who had arrested the seven éirígí activists; the very same Gardaí who can be heard on the tape recording from inside Pearse Street barracks.

Those sitting in the public gallery could hardly believe what was happening in front of them. And neither could the defence who informed the judge that the tape recording was to be used in two other cases at the Circuit Court and should therefore not be handed over to the Gardaí. A plea that fell on deaf ears.

And with that the disk was handed to Garda O’Brien, the baton-happy cop who had told the court that he had heard an éirígí activist threaten to jump off the roof during the May 15th protest. One thing is for certain – he won’t have needed his super powers to figure out which of his colleagues can be heard on the Pearse Street recording.

Before Judge McDonnell finished his day’s work he took the opportunity to take one final swipe at the defence when he declared that it had conducted itself in an ‘improper’ manner and that it was his belief that the case was to be used for ‘collateral’ reasons. Strange that he was able to draw these conclusions when the defence had been denied the opportunity to utter one word of a defence or outline how it intended to refute the charges that had been brought against Mac An Mháistir. Nor had the judge heard the Pearse Street recording. Yeah, sure he hadn’t!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Emigration Continues to Rise

We have all got it wrong and we should be thankful for the great opportunities we are now presented with. That's not the view of éirígí but it appears to be the thinking of former Progressive Democrat (PD) Minister Liz O'Donnell.

She was speaking on national radio last week following the release of a report showing a massive increase in the numbers emigrating from our shores once again. According to the document from the British governments Department for Work and Pensions, more than 13,000 people moved from Ireland to Britain in search of work in 2010. This is a massive increase of 25% on the 2009 figure of 11,050. The numbers have been steadily increasing since 2006 when the figure for emigration to Britain was 9,500.

As far as Liz is concerned however, this is just one great adventure for these people to enjoy. She tried to equate it with a student or some other young person taking a year or two out to travel the world and possibly work abroad before they return home to finish college or pursue their career.

But these are not the same things. They are in fact totally different. The stark reality is that the tens of thousands of Irish people who are now leaving our shores and heading for Britain, Europe, Australia, the US and elsewhere are doing so not out of choice. This is not an adventure for them. This is forced emigration from which many of these people will never return.

While the economic collapse and the lack of government action to secure and create employment is the main reason for this exodus, it alone is not the full story. As thousands and thousands of workers started to lose their jobs in recent years, both the previous Fianna Fáil led administration and now the current Fine Gael/Labour coalition have set about introducing measure after measure to try to humiliate them and make life as miserable for them as possible.

And it is no co-incidence that the vast majority of those who emigrated to Britain, more than 6000, were in the 18 – 24 age bracket. While social welfare cuts have been imposed right across the board, this age group has been particularly singled out for harsh treatment.. Under 21's had their dole reduced to €100 a week while those in the 22-24 year old bracket had theirs reduced to €150 a week making it virtually impossible for them to survive on the dole in this country.

So what we seen was young people either losing their jobs or unable to get a job through no fault of their own when they finished their education. As if that was not bad enough, they were then forced to wait up to 16 weeks to receive their pittance of an entitlement, all the time being forced to jump through hoops needlessly. As we previously highlighted (click here) many were refused what they were entitled to and would then possibly have to wait up to twelve months for their appeal against that decision to be heard.

Responding to the emigration figures, éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey said the massive increase  was shameful but comes as no surprise.

He said: “The upsurge in the numbers of people, particularly young people, emigrating from our shores is an indictment of the political classes and their bankrupt capitalist ideology.”

As unemployment skyrocketed, the previous Fianna Fáil led administration introduced measures which were calculated decisions to make life here unbearable for the jobless. In particular their cuts aimed at 18-24 year olds were undertaken specifically to force these young people to emigrate in order to hide the true extent of unemployment in the twenty six county state. These policies have shamefully now been adopted by the new Fine Gael/Labour coalition despite pre-election promises to protect the most vulnerable.”

Reacting to the recent comments of Liz O'Donnell, Casey described them as “despicable” and said that she is not alone among the political classes in attempting to portray forced emigration in a positive light.

Casey said: “Last year former Tanaiste Mary Coughlan of Fianna Fáil told BBC radio how she thought that emigration 'wasnt a bad thing'. Now this tells us one of two things. Either these politicians have no idea whatsoever about the hardships and deprivation that they have caused and how their decisions have torn families apart – or – they know exactly the misery that they have and are continuing to inflict upon working people and the unemployed. Either way, it is indefensible and unforgivable.”

Indeed not content with just forcing our young people to emigrate, this state and its agencies also felt it appropriate to act as recruiting agents for the British army. Last April it was revealed that Fás had written to unemployed people in the Limerick region advising them of 'careers' in the British army. Aside from the fact that in doing so they were acting illegally, that they considered it justifiable to recruit young Irish people as cannon fodder to advance British Imperialism around the globe shows their contempt for their own citizens.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Short Strand defiant in face of Sectarian Attacks

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has said the response of the RUC/PSNI to the ongoing loyalist attacks on the Short Strand area of Belfast is yet further evidence of a force not to be trusted by nationalists.

Casey was speaking following the second night of attacks by hundreds of loyalists on the homes of families in the small nationalist enclave of the Short Strand in East Belfast.

Casey said: “As loyalists continued to fire missiles at people's homes, the RUC/PSNI made no meaningful effort to stop them or protect residents. Many local people were injured, some seriously, while dozens of homes were damaged during the attacks.”

“Only for the bravery of the local residents who defied and fought off this UVF led attack on their area, there would have been even more widespread carnage and destruction.”

“We have all seen the speed and brutality with which the RUC/PSNI act against nationalists and republicans engaged in peaceful protests, the protests against sectarian marches through Ardoyne last summer being a prime example. Yet here we had masked and armed UVF thugs violently attacking a small isolated nationalist enclave causing injuries and destruction with the RUC/PSNI effectively standing by allowing them to do so. When they did intervene, they fired plastic bullets injuring young nationalists attempting to protect their area from further attack.”

"Also reprehensible has been comments from the RUC/PSNI in the media portraying this as 'clashes' between two rival sets of rioters.  Many media outlets have also swallowed this line and have reported it as such.  The reality is that once again the Short Strand is under siege by sectarian loyalist thugs who want to rid East Belfast of all nationalists.  These are unprovoked sectarian attacks on a small vulnerable community.  They should be described and reported as such and the people of the Short Strand should be commended for their determined resistance and assisted in any way possible."

éirígí national vice-chairperson Rab Jackson and the party’s Upper Falls representative Pádraic Mac Coitir visited the Short Strand on Tuesday to show solidarity with residents and to meet with local éirígí activists and community workers.

Pádraic MacCoitir & Rab Jackson
The two were shown some of the most badly damaged houses and talked to residents who said they had experienced the most terrifying night in a long time."

Jackson said: “Nationalists are sick, sore and tired of the fact that every time there are difficulties within unionism, this manifests itself in violent sectarian attacks. Ultimately, what we witnessed last night was the cranking up of a unionist mob – at the behest of the UVF – that simply doesn’t want a catholic about the place in east Belfast.”

“The attack on the Short Strand is also an indicator of the total failure of what is called the peace process and those who police it to protect nationalists in vulnerable areas.”

Jackson added: “The people of the Short Strand are to be commended for their bravery in confronting the UVF and eventually forcing them from the area.”

“The Short Strand community has a long and proud history of defending their area from British and unionist aggression, éirígí is confident that the current generation of residents will be no less determined.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Labour Party Hypocrisy Exposed with Water Tax Vote

The hypocrisy of the Twenty-Six County Labour Party was further exposed at the monthly meeting of Dublin City Council on Monday last [June 13].

Despite that party’s pre-election posturing as defenders of the working class, its councillors voted against a motion opposing the introduction of both a domestic water tax and a new ‘household charge’. And so Labour made explicit its commitment to the introduction of two new regressive taxes which will hurt the poorest and most vulnerable the most.

The motion, which had been submitted by éirígí Councillor Louise Minihan, read:

That this council condemns the decision by the Minister for Environment Phil Hogan to introduce:
  • Water meters to every home in the state;
  • A flat rate household charge which is a property tax in all but name.
Both measures outlined by the government are in reality, unjustifiable stealth taxes. The notion that the government hands are tied on these matters exposes that it is the EU/IMF that is in total control of this state.

This council also recognises that at the end of 2010 45,000 households were in mortgage arrears, 443, 400 people are unemployed and the introduction of these charges and will only serve to push struggling families further into poverty and hardship.

At a time when the communities we represent are suffering from the effects of an economic crisis that they were not responsible for creating, it is the role of elected representatives to use their platform to serve the interest of the people, and not the agenda of a wealthy elite, or the greed of EU/IMF - which is the only agenda that can be served by the imposition of unjust stealth taxes, that will hit hardest those, who can least afford to pay it.

Dublin City Council is committed to opposing any introduction of water charges, the so-called ‘interim household charge’ and the eventual introduction of a property tax.

Following a debate that lasted close to an hour, 27 Labour and Fine Gael City Councillors voted against, while 13 éirígí, independent and Sinn Fein Councillors voted in favour. Fianna Fáil and a single Labour councillor abstained, meaning that the motion was defeated by 27 votes to 13.

Prior to the commencement of the City Council meeting, 20 éirígí activists took part in an anti-water tax / household charge protest outside of City Hall.

Speaking at the protest Louise Minihan said, “Prior to the general election the Labour Party told people that they would moderate the most extreme right-wing policies of Fine Gael. There is little doubt that many people voted for the Labour Party because they believed those pre-election promises. But now, just weeks after the election, the Labour Party are showing their true colours. Instead of opposing the introduction of a domestic water tax and household charge they are instead acting as apologists for their senior coalition partners.

“Over the course of the next few years the right-wing establishment will attempt to introduce a domestic water tax which will ultimately lead to the privatisation of that most necessary of natural resources. The only thing that will stop the introduction of a water tax is a mass, community-based campaign of opposition. The building of that campaign must now begin in earnest. Tonight was just the start of éirígí’s contribution to the campaign to defeat these unjust taxes – a start upon which will build into the future.”

Protest Highlights MI5 & PSNI Harassment


More than 70 people gathered at Grosvenor Road Barracks in Belfast on Saturday [June 18] to demonstrate their opposition to the ongoing harassment of republicans.

The protest, organised by éirígí, was called in the aftermath of an upsurge of intimidatory behaviour by the PSNI and British intelligence agencies.

Among the crowd were many éirígí activists, republican ex-prisoners, family members of serving political prisoners, community workers and others.

In recent weeks, both the PSNI and MI5 have upped their harassment of republican activists and ex-prisoners, in the process often tormenting young families and placing huge strain on many individuals.

Towards the end of the demo, the protestors gathered at the entrance to the barracks where they were addressed by éirígí’s representative for the Upper Falls area Pádraic Mac Coitir.

As Mac Coitir began speaking, a number of PSNI landrovers attempted to drive through the crowd of protestors at high speed. However, the protesters refused to be cowed and the PSNI were forced to wait until the proceedings had ended before entering the base.

Mac Coitir encouraged anyone who has been on the receiving end of harassment to immediately contact their solicitor and inform other members of their community so assistance could be forthcoming.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith commended those who attended the protest.

“At a time when anybody who is seen to be out of step with the establishment point of view is deemed suspect, or worse, being outright ciminalised, it is encouraging to see that so many Belfast republicans took the time to attend Saturday’s demonstration."

“It is important to show the British state and its agencies that we will not be intimidated nor will we allow republicans to be isolated and marginalised.”

Mac Cionnaith added: “The most depressing aspect of the current campaign of harassment is that the nefarious activities of MI5 and the PSNI are completely legal, according to British law, under the Justice & Security Act of 2007. At the time, éirígí were the only party to point out that the Act was about normalising repression in the Six Counties and giving it a permanent legal footing – there is now abundant evidence to support this position.

“éirígí will continue to campaign against political policing and the activities of the British intelligence agencies. It is time all those who claim to uphold the human rights of nationalists began to do likewise.”

Fine Gael & Labour Treat Cancer Patients with Contempt

Fine Gael Minister and TD for Sligo/north Leitrim John Perry has been accused of treating cancer patients and their families with contempt in order to further his own political career.

Sligo/north Leitrim FG TD's John Perry & Tony McLoughlin flank their leader Enda Kenny in Sligo
In a scathing attack éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey also accused Perry of gross dishonesty and of engaging in a deliberate deception to dupe people into voting for him and Fine Gael at the general election.

Casey was speaking following a press conference held on Friday (June 17) in Sligo Park Hotel by Perry relating to his pledge to have breast cancer services returned to Sligo General Hospital (SGH) within 100 days of Fine Gael taking power.  Friday marked the 101st day of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition.

At the press conference, cancer care campaigners from the north-west called on Perry to resign his seat as promised by him if the services were not delivered within those 100 days.  This is just one of a series of  U-turns carried out by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition since assuming power. 

(Below is a video of Friday's press conference courtesy of Sligo today.  The second video below, also courtesy of Sligo Today  shows the pre-election commitments given by John Perry, Susan O'Keefe, Tony McLoughlin and other politicians in relation to restoring breast cancer services to SGH)

In a statement released after the press conference the Save Our Cancer Services - North West campaign called on Fine Gael and Labour representatives to resign their seats.

"This is a profoundly disappointing and disturbing day, not only for the North West region and healthcare provision, but for the image and integrity of politicians and the democratic process itself. It is very clear that both Fine Gael and Labour gave unambiguous commitments to restore cancer services to Sligo General Hospital on assuming power and those promises and commitments were predicated on the reality that to leave one half of the country denuded of these services was not only very bad governance regarding the running of a health service but it was grossly unfair and discriminatory."

"These commitments and pledges are well documented and it is disingenuous, to say the least, for anyone to suggest now that there may be some valid excuse or explanation for reneging on them. To do so merely adds to the growing and dangerous disconnect that is emerging between the electorate and politicians."

Expressing his support for the cancer care campaigners, éirígí activist Gerry Casey said: 

“Perry's pledge to the people in the north west was unequivocal – the return of breast cancer services within 100 days or he would resign. There was no ambiguity, no room for any fudge.”

“The time is up and Perry and his colleagues have not delivered on their promises. All the Fine Gael and Labour TD's and Senators in Sligo/north Leitrim should now live up their pre-election commitments and resign their seats.  ”

“In the days before the general election, Labour Senator Susan O'Keefe went to great lengths, including erecting posters, outlining her and Labours pledge to return breast cancer services and indeed make SGH a ninth centre of excellence."

"During that whole campaign she made much of her so-called 'integrity'. People can now see clearly for themselves how little integrity O'Keefe actually has. She refuses to resign her seat or resign from the Labour party despite it supposedly being a 'red line issue' for her and Labour when she was looking for votes at the start of the year.  Now as she collects her fat salary and generous expenses as a Senator, the suffering of cancer patients and their families in the north west have been quickly forgotten.”

Susan O'Keefe & Labour leader Eamon Gilmore making bogus pre-election promises to cancer care campaigners in Sligo City Hall
Casey concluded: “These broken promises show the true nature of our so-called democracy. Relying on electing politicians every five years is to a large degree meaningless as we have no control over what they do, what decisions they make once they get their grip on power. Occasionally putting a mark beside a candidate on a ballot paper is designed not to enable change or allow people's participation in decisions effecting their communities or country. It is designed to give people that illusion while the decision making processes remain firmly within the grip of the political and business classes that control this country."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Water Tax Will Be Resisted

Below is a letter which was published in this weeks edition of the Leitrim Observer (June 15).  The letter, from éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey, was a reply to an editorial in the paper the previous week relating to the planned introduction of domestic water charges.

A chara

Please allow me reply to your editorial relating to the imminent introduction of water charges by Fine Gael and Labour.

You say that “there is a great deal of water wastage in this country”. You add that “this charge will hopefully tackle the whole issue of water conservation and see a pro-active attitude towards water leakage and burst pipes”.

The vast majority of water wastage has absolutely nothing to do with domestic households, the people who will pay this new charge. Burst pipes, water leakage and industrial usage account for the vast majority of water wastage. For a fraction of the hundreds of millions they are to spend having water meters installed in every household, they could upgrade the water infrastructure, eradicating leaks and accompanying wastage.

Fine Gael and Labour are using the fig-leaf of “water conservation” as a cover to introduce a new tax, which will impact hardest once more on social welfare recipients and low and middle income earners. It is also the first step towards privatising another essential public service, the domestic water supply.

And while talk of waivers for the less well off is occasionally mentioned, this is an attempt to deflect opposition from this double tax. Whether or not there is a waiver when water charges are introduced, you can be sure it wont remain in place too long. Remember the waivers with refuse charges? They are now a thing of the past, as the millionaire pays the same amount to get rid of his rubbish as the poorest family does.

The focus of all these cutbacks are the less well off not the wealthy. So while the government target Joint Labour Committee's to cut wages and conditions for low paid workers, and while carers and welfare recipients have endured cut after cut driving tens of thousands into poverty, there is no mention of targetting the rich. No mention of a 'wealth tax' or of nationalising our natural resources, moves that would generate hundreds of billions of euro's for the public purse.

We did not create the crisis and should not pay for it, either through water charges or other wage or welfare cuts. It is not our debt or the debt of this state. It is the private gambling debts of a number of greedy bankers and developers.

If the government proceed with their plans éirígí will, as part of the No Water Tax campaign, play its part in building a vigorous campaign of opposition to defeat this tax and ensure the domestic water supply remains in public hands.

Is mise

Gerry Casey

Thursday, June 16, 2011

'Fracking' in the Lough Allen & Clare Basins

'Fracking' is a term that not everyone may be aware of. It is used to describe a method of shale gas extraction known as Hydraulic Fracturing.  Unfortunately it is a term we are very likely to hear a lot more about in the coming months and years.

The dangers that this procedure poses to the environment, to water quality and to human safety is well documented worldwide. France has recently banned the use of fracking as have a number of regions in the United States. In Lancashire in England, fracking has been halted in recent weeks following a series of earthquakes that occurred and are believed to be linked to the recent exploration activity using this method in that region.

In the dying days of the Fianna Fáil led administration back in February of this year, one of their final acts was to award licences to a number of companies to explore for commercial gas in the Northwest Carboniferous Basin (more commonly known as the Lough Allen basin) and the Clare basin. The Lough Allen Basin is a huge area that covers parts of counties Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo and Tyrone. It covers an area of 8000 square kilometres in total. The Clare basin encompasses parts of Counties Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick.

Awarding the licences the then Minister of Natural Resources Conor Lenihan awarded licences to two companies to begin exploration in the Lough Allen basin – Australian company Tamboran Resources and the Irish Lough Allen Natural Gas Company. Enegi Oil Plc was awarded the licence to begin exploration in the Clare Basin.

Last April when Lenihan first invited applications for licences to explore for natural gas in these areas, éirígí warned of the potential dangers that lay in store if this exploration and drilling was allowed proceed without meaningful consultation and the consent of communities effected.

Responding to Lenihan at the time (click here to read article) éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey said that “such exploration and extraction has the potential for grave environmental damage and danger to human health and safety. We have seen in north Mayo the conflict that can arise when such developments, with the potential risks involved, are imposed on local communities. Once again in these instances, there has been no proper in-depth consultation with local communities who may be effected by this prospecting and possible extraction of gas.”

He added: “If our natural resources are to be exploited, then it needs to be done in consultation with local communities, in a manner that protects the environment and protects peoples health and safety. To date, the record of the political establishment and of the exploration companies, as exemplified in the ongoing dispute over Shell's planned pipeline in north Mayo, on environmental and safety issues does not breed confidence.”

Claims by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources who now say that fracking would not be allowed in the Lough Allen basin without a public consultation phase and an environmental impact assessment should be treated with contempt.

Indeed, both companies involved in the Lough Allen basin exploration have already confirmed that fracking is their intended method to extract gas from this region. So much for consultation!

Lough Allen Basin
One need only look at the example of Shell's pipeline in north Mayo to see how the department deliberately ignored the dangers to human safety and the environment, ignored deliberate breaches of the law and environmental regulations by Shell and never held any meaningful consultation with the local community.

Instead, they ignored their legitimate concerns, tried to demonise and criminalise them and then sent the Gardai in to intimidate and beat them into submission when they realised they could not be duped or bought off.

The whole Corrib gas saga is proof of how environmental regulation in this state does not work and cannot be relied upon to protect citizens from large oil and gas companies whose only concern is profit.

As in the Corrib case, any gas extracted in the Lough Allen or Clare basins will be of no benefit to the public, the rightful owners of this natural gas. Once again the shareholders of private companies will benefit from this at our expense.

As the start of exploration in the region is imminent éirígí activist Gerry Casey said that the whole process needs to be stopped immediately.

He said: “There has been no consultation with the local communities effected and no consent given by them to this project. This whole process needs to be stopped immediately and the use of fracking banned before any damage can be done.”

Genuine and in depth consultation must be held with the people in these regions. If the gas can be extracted safely without any threat to the environment and public health, then and only then, it should be extracted to benefit the people of the region and the island as a whole, not to boost profits for private companies.”

Casey added: “All our natural resources must be nationalised and extracted safely where possible. The vast wealth that could be generated would go a long way towards creating well resourced and efficient public services in areas such as Health and Education. It would provide long term funding to create sustainable long term employment and help to eradicate the scourge of fuel poverty and poverty in general.”

If Fine Gael and Labour think that people will roll over and just accept the current situation they are sadly mistaken. If they insist on continuing this process they will meet fierce resistance, just as Shell and the government have faced for the past ten years in north Mayo.”

In recent weeks Cinema North West have been holding public showings of the award winning US documentary 'Gasland' which exposed the dangers of the fracking process throughout the US. Their next screening takes place next Thursday night (June 23) at 8PM in their mobile cinema beside the Coach House Hotel in Ballymote, Co Sligo. (Click here for more details)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A&E Cutbacks Will Put Lives at Risk

The socialist republican party éirígí have described the latest proposals by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to slash essential services at a number of hospitals in the HSE west region as "appalling" and "totally unnecessary". According to éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey, lives would be placed at great risk if these cutbacks proceed.

Casey was speaking after it emerged that from mid-July, the HSE are planning to shut the Accident & Emergency (A&E) unit at Roscommon county hospital at weekends and at night-time on week days.  Staff shortages, specifically the lack of junior doctors as a result of the ban on recruitment are believed to be behind the move.

Plans are also underway for major cutbacks at Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar where it is expected that a number of operating theatres will be closed during the summer months in order to cut costs for the HSE.

Casey said: “These latest plans by the HSE and their political masters in the Fine Gael/Labour coalition to slash essential services at both these hospitals are not just appalling, they are totally unnecessary.”

“Shutting the A&E unit at Roscommon County hospital on week nights and completely at weekends will lead to unnecessary deaths as witnessed when similar services were withdrawn from other hospitals in the past. It will also lead to increased pressure and even longer waiting times at A&E units in Galway and Sligo which will have to deal with those who should be treated in Roscommon.”

He added: “These hospitals are already overstretched dealing with current patient levels. The increased workload will result in already overworked and under-resourced staff being placed in an impossible situation which will result in yet a further reduction in the quality and efficiency of service that patients require.”

“According to the general manager at Mayo General Hospital Charlie Meehan, amongst the proposed cuts would be the closure of two operating theatres during July and August as well as shutting a ward and ceasing orthopaedic services. He also revealed they were considering reducing the numbers of coronary care beds in an attempt to save money.”

“Labour and Fine Gael are in power for 100 days and already they are showing that they are taking up where Fianna Fáil and the Green party left off. Pre-election promises to protect essential services have already been cast aside as they set about continuing to dismantle our public hospitals and public health service to facilitate privatisation. This follows their broken pledge to return breast cancer services to Sligo General Hospital within those first 100 days.” (click here)

He concluded: “Fine Gael and Labour must not be allowed to put private profit and paying off the private gambling debts of bankers and developers before the health and well being of the people. If these cuts are implemented, the reality is that people will suffer and die unnecessarily as a result of deliberate political decisions.”