Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Joint Statement From The Lower Ormeau Concerned Community and Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition

As they prepare to submit a formal joint response to the consultation on the draft Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill, two key nationalist residents’ groups - the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community in Belfast and the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition in Portadown – whose communities were at the very heart of the turmoil and conflict over contentious marches in the 1990’s jointly set out their views and concerns.

The Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill, released for public consultation on April 20, purports to offer a solution to the problems created by contentious parades in areas such as the Garvaghy Road and lower Ormeau Road.

Far from solving the issue caused by contentious parades in Portadown, south Belfast and elsewhere however, the Bill creates a whole new range of problems.

Now out for consultation, the draft legislation will bring any and all public gatherings of 50 people or more within the scope of the law - a recipe for potential disaster, and a far cry from the panacea it alleges to offer.

The solution to the vexing and long-standing problem of contentious parades lies not in complex legislation, but in a common sense approach of using viable alternative routes, taking the small number of disputed parades (less than 3% of the total) away from sensitive locations where they have a long history of causing disturbance.

Instead of specifically dealing with the minority of marches that are problematic, the new legislation proposes to treat all parades and outdoor gatherings as if they were the same.

The solution is to focus on the real problem - a small number of contentious loyal order parades that can be resolved by obliging the organisers to take an alternative route.

The re-routing of contentious parades is neither new nor radical. The European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights recognise that restrictions, including route restrictions, can be placed on parades to protect the rights of others, or to prevent disorder. Such restrictions have been upheld by the domestic courts.

Nationalist residents are not seeking to have parades banned. Rather, it is about guaranteeing the right to assembly in a proportionate and balanced way, taking into account the range of human rights violations which can occur when marches are forced upon certain communities.

When a loyal order parade, with a long history of causing sectarian trouble, seeks to pass through a nationalist area, there is a solution which reasonably respects the rights of both the marchers and the residents: the use of a viable alternative route.

If the primary purpose of the parade is to go from A to B, that purpose may equally be satisfied by a number of alternative routes.

We have seen a number of loyal parades over the years that have a shameful secondary purpose: to march through a nationalist or Catholic area for the sole purpose of sectarian triumphalism.

Any code such as the Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill code must, by its nature, be fully capable of taking account of the long years of sectarian conflict and abuse around marches and not air-brush such events from history by the introduction of some arbitrary dateline.

To ignore that history would make absolutely no sense, and be grossly unfair to those who have suffered years of sectarian abuse.

To make a decision on, say, the Drumcree parade without that historical context would be wrong, and cause irreparable damage to wider community relations.

The Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Bill is a flawed piece of legislation. It is the classic sledgehammer to crack a nut - a difficult nut, yes, but still a nut.

Those responsible for the bill should go back to the drawing-board to create a workable solution based on common sense and human rights.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Republican Delegation Meets Pows

A delegation of the Families & Friends campaign group met with a delegation of POWs in Maghaberry today, Monday 28th June 2010. The delegation consisted of Alex McCrory, Mandy Duffy, Paul Little, Marian Price, Carl Reilly and Elaine Carlin. The prisoner delegation included: Colin Duffy, Harry Fitzsimmons, Sean Carlin, Brendy Conway, Damian McLaughlin and Stevie O'Donnell.

The meeting that took place was very informative; in that the POWs were able to relay at first hand the conditions which they are living under to the campaign group. Likewise the campaign group was able to brief the prisoners on the campaign outside.


The POWs spoke of the 2 Demands which needed to be met in order to end the protest.

1. Freedom of Association with an end to controlled movement.

2. End to degrading and humiliating Strip Searches.


The POWs painted a vivid picture of their current living conditions. Some described it like living in a sewer. The landings are covered in excrement and urine and this is being pushed and walked back into their cells deliberately by the screws. The POWs' bedding and belongings are also being deliberately interfered with. During meal times the screws, who are dressed in protective clothing; masks, gloves etc, are handling the POWs food using the same gloves that have been contaminated with excrement and urine.


As a result of this unhygienic handling of the POWs food the POWs are already becoming sick. Vomiting and diarrhea is already common place.This is of major concern given that requests for medical treatment have been refused. It's only a matter of time before some of the POWs become seriously ill.

Morale and Unity

Despite living under these conditions the morale and unity among the POWs is very high. This was quite evident to the delegation during the meeting. when the POWs were expressing total confidence in achieving their demands. The comradeship among the POWs was evident to all.

The campaign group outlined to the POWs how the campaign was progressing outside and asked the POWs for their views. The POWs stated that they were delighted with all the work the campaign group had done to date. They said that events carried out `taoibh amuigh' increased the moral of all the POWs. The large protests at the gaol were specifically mentioned as they gave a big lift to the POWs. The need for the campaign taoibh amuigh to be escalated was also mentioned.

The POWs thanked the campaign group for the meeting and for all their work and support. They expressed their gratitude to everyone who has campaigned on their behalf and have also asked for their continued support.

RUC/PSNI Publicity Stunt is a Failure

Today's Newry Democrat carries an interesting article regarding the recent public "policing" meeting held in Newry Arts centre.

The article states that there were more members of the RUC/PSNI at the meeting than members of the public!, it also states that the event "failed to stir the general public".

The English chief of the British police in Ireland pledged that  "his aim is to deliver normal policing to communities across Newry and tackle the "myths and falsities" about the "PSNI"

At the same time he had dozens of heavily armed paramilitaries guarding the Arts centre

Is this the "normal policing" he is talking about? Or maybe he was referring to recent events in the Derrybeg estate?

Ironically on the opposite page was this article about the recent harassment of Republicans in Newry's Derrybeg estate: A POLICE raid on a Newry estate on Wednesday has been slammed as being like “a scene from the 1970s or ’80s”.

The raid which began on one house in Derrybeg in the early hours of June 16 and extended to a search operation of the estate itself lasted most of the day, with armed PSNI officers stopping vehicles entering and leaving Derrybeg.

Several homes across Newry were also searched on the same day and a number of items were seized for forensic examination. Four men were arrested but were released without charge later the same day.

The day’s events prompted Breandán Mac Cionnaith, general secretary of the Irish socialist republican political party, éirígí, to claim that police are systematically targeting the nationalist community of the city.

“At a time when the great and the good are proclaiming a new beginning for policing in the Six Counties the PSNI is proving, by its own actions, that it is business as usual as far as its treatment of nationalist communities is concerned,” he said.

“Is this the new beginning to policing we were promised? This is not normal policing, this is not civic policing. This is the same repressive policing that we have been subjected to for decades. Nothing has changed with this paramilitary force except their name and badge.”

Mr Mac Cionnaith said that Derrybeg was the target of “Crown Forces harassment” due to its “proud history of opposing the British occupation”.

“Despite the change of name, the primary aim of the PSNI is exactly the same as the primary aim of the RUC – to protect the British occupation of the Six Counties.”

A PSNI spokesperson said anyone who is unhappy with police action should contact the Police Ombudsman.

While elected representatives have not condemned this attack on the Derrybeg community, the ordinary working class people from Derrybeg have rallied around the victims of this draconian policing and have given them their full support. Indeed other communities across the district have also sent messages support.


Monday, 28 June 2010

Successful Protest at Belfast City Hall

The PSNI was forced to watch impotently from the sidelines earlier today [Saturday] as éirígí held a well-attended anti-British Armed Forces Day picket at Belfast City Hall.

Last June, PSNI riot squads hemmed peaceful protestors into the Castle Street area when they attempted to make their way to City Hall to oppose the triumphalist celebration. However, this year, the best efforts of dozens of PSNI landrovers and scores of political police, as well as attempted intimidation by unionist elements, could not prevent around 100 republicans coming from across Belfast to the éirígí-organised demonstration.

Once at City Hall, the republicans, among them many young people, former political prisoners and victims of state violence, were addressed by John McCusker, the chairperson of éirígí’s ciorcal in west Belfast.

McCusker pointed out that, while the British government has now designated June 26 as ‘Armed Forces Day’, families across the Six Counties and beyond are living with the fact that nobody has ever been held to account for the state killings of their loved ones.

He also stated that what we are seeing is just the beginning of éirígí’s campaign for a British withdrawal.

Afterwards, éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “Today, the inability of the PSNI to permanently prevent the right to protest was witnessed. All those who made their way to Belfast City Hall are to be commended for upholding this fundamental right in the face of a major attempt at mass intimidation.

“The British government and its agencies of occupation should take note that significant numbers of nationalists and republicans are once again prepared to defy their thugs in uniform in pursuance of the national independence struggle. These numbers will only grow in the time ahead.”

Thursday, 24 June 2010

British Armed Forces Day Protest – Saturday

éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith has called for republicans and socialists to gather at Belfast City Hall on Saturday in opposition to the marking of British Armed Forces Day.

The éirígí-organised demonstration will take place at Belfast City Hall at 12pm, to coincide with the raising of the British Armed Forces flag on the building.

Mac Cionnaith said: “The marking of British Armed Forces Day by Belfast City Council is a slap in the face to all those who have lost loved ones at the hands of the British army. Coming, as it does, after the publication of the Saville report, the council should have had the sense and sensitivity to refuse to honour those who have murdered hundreds of Irish citizens over the last four decades.

“The fact is the British army is an occupying army in Ireland, its forces remain active along with the PSNI in suppressing the Irish people’s right to national self determination. It is completely inappropriate for any council in Ireland to be acting as cheerleaders for this army.

“It is notable that the constitutional nationalist parties on Belfast City Council have given next to no attention to this issue.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “éirígí is calling for republicans and socialists from across Belfast to gather at Belfast City Hall on Saturday to express their opposition to the occupations of Ireland and Afghanistan and the decision of Belfast City Council to endorse these crimes.”

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Political Policing in Newry

It could have been a scene from the 1970s or ’80s when, in the early hours of last Wednesday morning [June 16], a large convoy of armoured PSNI landrovers descended on the nationalist Derrybeg estate in Newry.
Dozens of riot clad members of the political police decamped from their vehicles and conducted a politically-motivated operation during which they raided the home of a republican activist. A search operation was also carried out in the surrounding area which lasted for most of the day.

Throughout the day, heavily armed PSNI personnel stopped vehicles entering and leaving Derrybeg, which caused widespread disruption for residents in the area, including parents collecting their children from the nearby school.

Several other homes across the city were also targeted in Wednesday’s raids.

éirígí’s rúnaí ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith condemned the raids: “At a time when the great and the good are proclaiming a new beginning for policing in the Six Counties, the PSNI is proving, by its own actions, that it is business as usual as far as its treatment of nationalist communities is concerned.

“Is this the new beginning to policing we were promised? This is not normal policing, this is not civic policing. This is the same repressive policing that we have been subjected to for decades. Nothing has changed with this paramilitary force except their name and badge.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “Despite the change of name, the primary aim of the PSNI is exactly the same as the primary aim of the RUC – to protect the British occupation of the Six Counties. Ironically, the actions of the PSNI last week proved that point. The type of political policing is exactly the type of thing the RUC were infamous for.”

The Derrybeg estate has a proud history of opposing the British occupation, whether it comes in the form of the British army or British policing. No doubt, republican activists from the area will continue their work despite this upsurge in Crown Forces harassment.

Serious concern has also been expressed by éirígí as newly published figures show that politically-motivated stop and search legislation has been used on almost 35,000 occasions in the Six Counties within a 12 month period.

Amongst those being harassed with this legislation are éirígí activists engaged in peaceful protests and other political activity.

Mac Cionnaith concluded: “While constitutional nationalist politicians might try to claim that there has been a sea-change in policing in the Six Counties, the reality of ongoing repressive tactics on the ground belies the harsh truth that little has changed. People in working-class communities across the North are only too aware of that fact.”

Friday, 18 June 2010

Families and Friends POW Group presents the IRISH BRIGADE

The Families and Friends of Maghaberry POWs


The Irish Brigade

Friday 2nd July

St Johns Gac Whiterock road Belfast

8pm til the wee hours

£5- admission

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

éirígí: Britain Admits What the World Knows

It may have taken more than 38 years, but the British government today [Tuesday] admitted what the world has known since January 30 1972 – that those the Parachute Regiment slaughtered on the streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday were innocent.
As thousands gathered outside Derry’s Guildhall, British prime minister David Cameron rose to speak in the British House of Parliament and admit that his government could no longer hide from the truth.

Earlier, the families of the 14 dead who have campaigned for so long for truth and justice, were presented with the findings of the Saville Report. The report found:

No warning was given to the thousands on that day’s civil rights march when the British army opened fired on it in 1972.

The British army did not open fire in response to petrol bombers, stone throwers or gun attacks.

Many of the dead and injured were shot while attempting to aid the wounded and dying.

None of the casualties were posing a threat or doing anything that would “justify” their being shot.

The British army lied about its actions on January 30 1972.

Speaking in the House of Commons, David Cameron said that, on behalf of his government and his country, he was “deeply sorry” for the massacre that took place on Bloody Sunday.

éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Today is, first and foremost, a victory for the families of the 14 dead. Their steadfastness and determination in demanding that Britain face up to what it did to their families on Bloody Sunday has been an inspiration to everyone in Ireland who cares about truth and justice. Even during the darkest days of the last 38 years, they never gave up, never stopped believing that they and the people of Derry were worthy of justice.

“Today, for the first time ever, a British prime minister was forced to stand in his own parliament and apologise for a crime his government committed in Ireland. The people of Derry and the families of the dead should be deeply proud that they have brought this about. éirígí salutes their courage and integrity.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “If David Cameron is truly sorry about what happened on Bloody Sunday he can do a few things to right the wrongs. Firstly, he can take his troops out of this country and Afghanistan, ensuring that never again will British soldiers run amok in cities and towns where they are not welcome.

“Secondly, he can remove the whole apparatus of the occupation from Ireland and recognise the Irish people’s right to unity and self-determination. He can do likewise in Afghanistan.

“Finally, he can declare Britain’s resolve to never again interfere in the internal affairs of another country and drown democratic movements in blood.

“When David Cameron does these things, we will know he and his government are sincere about righting the wrongs of the past.”

Monday, 14 June 2010

Newry & Mourne Council Pass POW Motion

We, The Families and Friends of Maghaberry POWs in Newry, would like to express our satisfaction at Newry and Mourne District Councils decision to pass a motion at Monday night’s meeting regarding the serious humanitarian issue in Maghaberry prison.

The motion was proposed by Independent Cllr Martin Connolly and the only objections came from four unionists.

The motion proposes that Newry & Mourne district Council writes to, the Justice Minister, David Ford expressing their concerns regarding the deteriorating situation in Maghaberry and that the claims from the POWs regarding the inhumane conditions in Roe House be thoroughly investigated.

Newry & Mourne District Council will also seek to send a delegation to Maghaberry prison to meet with the POWs and if necessary meet with the prison authorities as well, this delegation will be made up of councillors and council officials from Newry & Mourne District Council.

This is a small but significant victory in highlighting the suffering endured by republican prisoners and their families.

This issue should be of concern to everyone, regardless of what political parties they support.

We are hopeful that other councillors around the country might now submit similar motions to their councils. We encourage people to contact their local councillors and put pressure on them to highlight the inhumane and intolerable conditions in Maghaberry.

Families and Friends of Maghaberry POWs

Disgraceful Treatment Of POW Delegation

A delegation of the Friends, Family and Ex-Prisoners campaign group have accused the Prison Service of bad faith after the delegation was denied an agreed delegation visit in the jail today. The six person delegation eventually got through to the main visiting area after having to undergo totally unacceptable treatment. It became apparent to the delegation at the early stages that the Prison Service were not treating this group seriously. Problems processing the delegation, delays and lack of facilities outline the unconcerning attitude of the Prison Service in relation to the delegation. The insincere approach of the Prison Service was further evidenced by two other developments during the visit: The first was the prevention of the prisoners' delegation from the meeting through the use of strip searches and secondly the unavailability of governor Taylor (who was supposed to sort out any problems that may arise) when requested by the delegation. The end result was that the delegation visit did not take place.
Speaking outside Maghaberry Paul Little said;

“Today was a wasted opportunity in which the inevitable resolution of the Republican prisoners protest in Roe House has been delayed. It has been delayed by the prison service and the P.O.A. in a vain attempt to continue to penalise republican prisoners and drag the prison regime for republican prisoners back to the 1970.s. We note with concern the words of P.O.A. representative Finlay Spratt on the BBC Spotlight programme were he said the prison system could ‘Bring it on’ in regards to prison reform. His words demonstrate where the problem lies within Maghaberry Prison and it’s not with the republican prisoners who are behaving with great dignity and resolve. The IRSP are fully committed to supporting republican prisoners in their campaign to achieve their human rights within Maghaberry and the first step towards a resolution has to be facing down of the POA and their sectarian bigots within the prison.”

Mandy Duffy (a spokesperson for the Friends of Colin Duffy campaign group), who was also part of the delegation said of the non meeting:

"If the Prison Service think that they can treat this delegation or any future delegation as second class citizens and expect the prisoners and the campaign group to accept this they are seriously mistaken. The inevitable consequences of today's behavior by the Prison Service and the POA will be to highten further tensions within the gaol and reinforce the belief by many that the Prison Service and the POA are not interested in resolving the legitimate concerns of the prisoners."

It has since emerged that the POWs have been forced to escalate their protest by mixing their feces with urine and pouring it out the cell doors

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Newry Irish Night in Aid of Republican POWs

Acclaimed Irish folk singer Pól Mac Adaim and political singer/songwriter Ciaran Murphy plus various other artists will play a night in aid of Maghaberry POWs on Saturday July 3rd in the Railway Bar in Monaghan St, Newry.

This event will also be used to launch a Newry branch of the Families and Friends of Maghaberry POWs who have been mobilising hundreds of people and supporting the POWs by organising marches, rallies, protests, pickets and functions across the country.

The formation of this group in Newry and the overall success of mobilising vast numbers of people onto the streets proves that support for republican prisoners is growing and more and more people are willing to get involved.

This promises to be a great night of folk and craic and all for a worthy cause

Victory to Our POWs

Monday, 7 June 2010

Conor Casey-Political Hostage

In recent times we have seen yet another perfect example of the "new beginning" we were promised several years ago.

Tyrone Republican, and former POW, Conor Casey was arrested and charged with firearm and "terrorism" offences. He is now Interned in Maghaberry gaol and could spend a considerable length of time in that hell hole.

The interesting thing is why Conor was arrested and charged and what the so-called evidence is?

It has emerged that Conor's "crime" was that he attended the funeral of his comrade, Óglach John Brady, who was murdered while in British custody. Conor attended his friends funeral and placed the National flag on John's coffin. It seems that this was sufficient enough for the British police to charge him with firearms and "terrorist" offences.

Conor, like many others, could now find himself behind bars for a number of years under this type of de-facto Internment. We have seen numerous examples in recent years of Internment. Sean Hoey, Chris Ward, Terry McCafferty have all been incarcerated for a number of years before their cases collapsed. When Terry McCafferty was released the British said there was no reason for him to be in jail. Numerous other Republicans including Colin Duffy are also interned by remand.

When will Britain learn, that no matter how many times they use draconian laws to try and break the Irish people, they will fail every time?

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Maghaberry POW Fundraising Night

In what should be the first of a series of gigs, organisers plan to assist the campaign in raising funds necessary to publicise the ongoing plight of POWs in Maghaberry.

The 1st gig is taking place tonight (June 5th), at St Johns GAA club, Whiterock Rd, West Belfast.

Tonights line up includes Cruncher O'Neill, Pol Mac Adaim and Ciaran Murphy  for a night of craic and folk.

Doors open at 8pm, admission is £5
Organised by The Families and Friends of Maghaberry POWs

Thursday, 3 June 2010

National March for the POWs, 25th July

The Concerned Families, Friends of Maghaberry POWs are organising a march in support of the POW's protesting in Maghaberry. It will take place on 25th July 2010 in Lurgan. We ask all those interested to start now to organise for this march. We hope to bring thousands of republicans together for this event. We ask everyone to contact anyone you know who has an interest in POWs. Arrangements should be put in place as soon as possible for transport, to bring people from across the 32 counties to this demonstration of Support for the POWs.

We are also asking any bands willing to take part to get in touch

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

éirígí to Protest Against British Armed Forces Day

The British government and its supporters in Ireland will be attempting to glorify the role of the occupation forces when the British Armed Forces flag is raised at Belfast City Hall on Saturday, June 26. Be there to expose the truth


Right to Protest Suppressed by Riot Squad in Belfast

As dozens of masked paramilitary police decamped from armoured jeeps onto a Belfast street it could have been a scene from 1969, 1979 or 1989. But it wasn’t. Instead it was June 27th 2009 – the day of Britain’s inaugural ‘Armed Forces Day’.

If proof was ever needed of the unchanged nature of both British policing in Ireland and the wider occupation, it was provided in Belfast today. As one arm of Britain’s occupation forces were ‘celebrated’ with the flying of the ‘Armed Forces Day’ flag above City Hall, another arm of those same occupation forces were busy suppressing the right to peaceful protest.

While republicans are all too used to the PSNI blocking the routes of ‘illegal’ marches, today the PSNI went a step further and prevented éirígí activists and supporters from even reaching the assembly point for a static picket. Those walking on the footpath found their path blocked by baton-yielding paramilitaries clad from head to foot in body armour. Such pre-emptive policing would sit comfortably in the police state of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The picket which was called in opposition to the flying of the ‘Armed Forces Day’ flag over Belfast City Hall was unable to take place as upwards of 120 people were prevented from entering the centre of Ireland’s second city.

As it became apparent that the PSNI were intent on using violence to prevent access to the city centre an impromptu protest was held on Castle Street.

As part of this protest the names of those killed as a result of British state violence was read to the listening crowd. The task of reading this lengthy list of names was shared between Marie Drumm, whose mother Máire was murdered by unionist death squads, and éirígí’s Seán Mac Brádaigh. This dignified memorial to the victims of British state violence stood in contrast to the menacing backdrop of the masked militia.

Speaking after the protest éirígí General Secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “All the talk of change in recent years has today been exposed as just that – talk and nothing more than empty, hollow talk. Belfast city centre remains a no-go zone for republicans – unless, of course, those republicans are wiling to ask the British state for permission to enter their own city.

“In light of the potential threat to the safety of those attending the picket we decided that it would be best for people from the west of the city to walk together to City Hall. And this is what we did only to find the footpath blocked by the PSNI riot squad. When we moved to the footpath on the other side of the road the PSNI moved ahead of us to block it also. Despite the spin of the PSNI there was no attempt made by éirígí to march to City Hall. What we witnessed today was the actions of a police state where protest and dissent are met with brute force.”

In closing Breandán committed éirígí to opposing ‘Armed Forces Day’ in the future.

“Today was the first so-called armed forces day. By our protest here today éirígí has ensured that it did not pass unopposed. In the years to come we will build on today’s protest and ensure that June 27th becomes a date of protest – not a date of celebration.”