Saturday, 31 July 2010
In an all too familiar pattern, we have witnessed how a vulnerable and besieged nationalist community find the guns and fingers pointed inwards, at them, and not outwards at the real perpetrators. Plus ca change.
It is imperative that we collectively cut through the hype, innuendo and refocus on the core issues - sectarian parades and the right to protest.
In line with the European Convention, every man, woman and child has a right to live free from sectarian harassrnent. These were the rights being claimed by residents of Ardoyne.
Everyone also has a fundamental right to engage in peaceful protest in defence of these rights. These were the rights being claimed by residents of Ardoyne.
Let us be clear, these are rights - not privileges and, as such, they are not subject to negotiation nor is there a mandate in the land that may impinge upon them.
This is the context in which activists found themselves in Ardoyne, at the invitation of residents. Those activists found themselves where they have always been.
Irish republicans have a proud tradition of supporting beleaguered communities at their request. From the Garvaghy and Ormeau Roads, to Ballinaboy in County Mayo, the activists that comprise éirígí are part of this tradition.
Thus, when faced with a peaceful sit-down protest by Ardoyne residents in defence of their fundamental rights on one hand and the encroaching of those that would extinguish those rights in the form of heavily armed and PSNl members on the other, there was only ever going to be one result.
It was at this point that a small number of activists sat down and linked arms with the residents.
The imagery of peaceful protesters being manhandled off the Ardoyne Road and the moral force of their argument wasn’t lost amongst the riots that ensued, it was buried.
It was intentionally buried by those in the media and political institutions who have no interest in showing a society where the rights of nationalists come second to unionist demands.
It was intentionally buried by those in the media and political institutions who have no interest in showing a society where peaceful protesters are punched, kicked and batoned by state forces in their own communities.
The people who brought violence to Ardoyne on July 12 were the PSNI. It was they who attacked peaceful protesters, besieged a community and assaulted onlookers.
The end result of this has always been, and more than likely will always be, wide-scale rioting.
Without a doubt there were those amongst the rioters who were reacting to assaults on their community by British state forces. Without a doubt there were those amongst the rioters who cared little for their community and certainly cared little for the protesters that they showered with bricks, bottles and, in at least one instance, a petrol bomb.
These are issues that need to be addressed locally. It would appear that there is a growing belief in our communities that the much promoted channels to stopping sectarian parades aren’t working.
The lobbying, rational debate, passive protests and appeals for goodwill have failed to halt sectarian parades.
They have failed to stop sectarian orders from demanding them.
They have failed to stop the six county Parades Commission from allowing them.
They have failed to stop the PSN1 from forcing them through at all costs, both physical and financial.
Thus, we must re-address the situation. We must refocus on the core issue. We must stop these sectarian parades once and for all.
If we fail in this task then we will condemn ourselves to revisiting this debate year upon year.
Thursday, 29 July 2010
The stretch of the Shore Road close to Ballykinler British army base has been closed indefinitely to civilian traffic after an executive order was issued to that effect this week by the British secretary of state Owen Patterson.
The British government’s Justice & Security Act of 2007, which is applicable solely to the Six Counties, gives the British army permanent powers to requisition property. This power had previously only been available to the British army under emergency legislation.
Mac Cionnaith said: “The disruptive nature of the British army presence in the Six Counties can be seen again with the closure of the Shore Road in Ballykinler. This closure should be seen for what it is: a declaration of intent on the part of the British government to protect its occupation by any means deemed necessary.
“Three years ago, we were told that, with the ending of Operation Banner, the role of the British army in Ireland was effectively at an end. Yet here we are in 2010 and the British army is seizing and closing an Irish road to everyone but the Crown Forces.
“The establishment parties who support the current dispensation in the Six Counties have been extremely quiet in the face of this clear act of aggression on the part of the British government. Perhaps the litany of false dawns they have proclaimed has shamed them into silence.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “The British army’s malign involvement in Ireland cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. Now, more than ever, republicans should begin organising themselves for renewed resistance to the British occupation.”
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Policing board chair, Desmond Rea, stated that "Having questioned the Chief Constable on the police operation put in place to deal with the serious disorder, Board Members were unanimous in their support of the tactics the police used" Those members included former republicans Daithi McKay and Gearóid ÓhEára.
Now lets reflect on the actions of the RUC/PSNI. The first acts of violence were carried out by the RUC/PSNI when they beat peaceful protesters with batons, punched, kicked and dragged them off the road. They also fired dozens of lethal plastic bullets many of which were fired at head height, this resulted in many people being injured.
To date the irrelevants have yet to condemn the actions of their military wing in the RUC/PSNI and now we know why, they support their actions and they support their tactics and this has been proven by the board members unanimous support for the British militia.
Once upon a time we were told the policing board would hold the RUC/PSNI to account and that manners would be put on them. It's now clear that they aren't holding them to account but are instead acting as cheerleaders for them and supporting them for putting manners on nationalist communities.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
On Sunday 25th July 2010 hundreds of republicans were prevented from marching through a totally nationalist area by the RUC. In a blatant attempt to prevent the march, in solidarity with the republican prisoners in Maghaberry, reaching its destination the RUC blocked the route at the top of North street.
The march continued on its way, followed by an RUC helicopter, reaching its final destination in Taghnevan estate.
Maura McCrory, a former member of the Relatives Action Committee (RAC) and anti H-Block committee member chaired proceedings and introduced Gary Donnelly who read the POWs statement, thanking people in advance and telling us that they are strong and united. Paul Duffy, a former republican prisoner and brother of a current protesting prisoner, Colin Duffy, then addressed those gathered.
Paul Duffy's speech:
"We have come together here in Lurgan today to stand in solidarity and in support of those Republican prisoners currently held in Maghaberry. In doing so, we are demonstrating to them that, while they may be imprisoned in a British gaol, they are not isolated, they are not alone and that we will campaign tirelessly on their behalf on the outside until they have been granted the full rights and conditions to which they are entitled.
"Irish history is littered with attempts by the British state in Ireland to break the will and resolve of those Irish republicans who found themselves in British gaols. The most epic of all those prison struggles commenced in March 1976 and culminated in the hunger-strike of 1981 during which ten Republican prisoners died in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.
"That prison struggle in the H-Blocks and Armagh Prison came about as a direct result of Britain’s three phase strategy of “Ulsterisation”, “normalisation” and “criminalisation”. Ultimately, that strategy lay in tatters in 1981, but at a very high price, and in the aftermath of the hunger-strike, Britain quietly conceded to all five of the prisoners’ demands.
"For the last decade and more, Britain has again revived and revamped its three phase strategy of “Ulsterisation”, “normalisation” and “criminalisation”.
Britain believes it has successfully concluded the “Ulsterisation” phase having secured the establishment of a partitionist administration at Stormont. It believes that it is well on the way to achieving its policy of “normalisation” – as if the forceful partition of this country could ever be described as normal.
That leaves one element of Britain’s strategy still to be achieved – that of “criminalisation”. Of criminalising any Republican who refuses to accept that Britain has any right to interfere in Ireland.
"Britain’s key to achieving that element of criminalising Irish republicans still remains today, just as it was thirty four years ago in 1976, to break the spirit and resolve of republican prisoners in Britain’s gaols.
"Today, Republican prisoners are again subjected to an unjust, oppressive and violent regime. Republican prisoners are again locked up around the clock in their cells, surrounded by their own bodily wastes. That situation has not arisen by accident. It has came about as a direct result of a deliberate policy embarked upon by the British state and the prison authorities with one simple outcome in mind – to treat those men in Maghaberry as common criminals rather than acknowledge that they are in prison because of their political beliefs.
"Those who uphold the British state in Ireland and those who administer British rule in the Six Counties would do well to look back to the consequences of previous prison struggles. They may say the prisoners have no support – but that’s exactly what was continuously said about the prisoners in the H-Blocks and Armagh in 76, 77, 78, 79, and 1980."
"Those of you who are old enough to remember those years will also realise the demands of the prisoners in the H-Blocks and Armagh were about basic rights – demands which Britain eventually conceded. So, too, the demands of the prisoners in Maghaberry are about basic rights and justice.
The granting of the right to Free association to the prisoners with an end to controlled movement whereby each prisoner is accompanied by up to five screws each time he leaves his cell.
An end to strip searches which is nothing more than a practice aimed at humiliating and degrading the prisoners and their families
"Those are not unreasonable demands. In what is supposedly one of the most modern and most expensive prisons in Europe, bristling with the latest technology, these demands could be quite easily granted – if the political will was there on the part of the authorities. The prisoners have already indicated to all the various delegations that have visited the gaol that they are prepared to explore ways and means which will result in a just settlement. In contrast, the authorities prefer to prevaricate and to permit conditions to deteriorate even further.
"Therein lies the challenge that each and every one of us must take up. We must get the message out amongst our families, friends, neighbours and communities that the demands of the prisoners are reasonable, that all they are asking for is fair and just treatment.
Endorsing the prisoners’ demands does not mean endorsing any particular or political point of view.
Endorsing the prisoners’ demands is about taking a stand for justice and for basic rights. That is something that many people can agree upon.
So let’s start to enlist that support from today onwards. That way, the Republican prisoners can, and will be, victorious. "
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
On Sunday [July 18], two éirígí activists were driving along the Armagh Road in Newry when they were stopped by the political police.
The activists were removed from the vehicle and were forced to endure a humiliating search in front of dozens of pedestrians and motorists under sections 21 and 24 of the British government’s Justice & Security Act. They were then questioned about their movements and their personal details were recorded while the vehicle was thoroughly searched by other members of the PSNI for unknown items.
The remit of the British government’s Justice & Security Act, which was introduced in 2007 as one of the final elements of the normalisation strategy, is confined to the Six Counties. The act contains repressive powers for the political police, the Six County judiciary and the British army.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Only last week, éirígí predicted that section 44 would simply be replaced with equally abhorrent legislation. It’s now clear that our prediction has become reality.
“éirígí activists in Newry are no strangers to Crown Forces harassment. In recent times, they have been harassed while delivering leaflets and, just last month, an activist’s home in the Derrybeg estate was targeted in a dawn raid which extended into a search operation of the estate itself which lasted the whole day. Now, our activists are being stopped under the draconian British Justice and Security Act. It’s clear that our activists and supporters in the area are being singled out for special treatment because of their political activities.
“The PSNI are only proving by their own actions that they are an unchanged, unaccountable paramilitary force. The PSNI remains a British police force, enforcing British law in support of the British occupation.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “No amount of PSNI harassment, in Newry or anywhere else, will prevent éirígí activists from continuing the work of rebuilding the republican struggle.”
Friday, 16 July 2010
Since Monday night’s Orange Order incursion, the residents of Ardoyne and those who support their right to live free from sectarian harassment have come under sustained attack from the British government, the PSNI, organs of the Six County state, the corporate media and some political parties who should know better.
According to the narrative constructed by these bodies, what happened in Ardoyne was an orgy of violence ignited by irresponsible outsiders who called people onto the streets to suit their own twisted ends. The narrative is a familiar one: it is one that was used against the residents of the Ormeau and Garvaghy roads, Derry and elsewhere in the 1990s, it is a tactic that has been used against the people of Ardoyne for over a decade.
What the people purveying this propaganda in an attempt to obscure the truth from the wider population ignore are some very simple facts:
1.In the run up to this year’s sectarian march, the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective conducted a survey which found that 1,100 households objected to the Orange Order incursion on their community.
2.éirígí responded to the call from Ardoyne residents to extend solidarity to their besieged community. éirígí did not call people onto the streets.
3.The first act of violence on Monday was the PSNI attack on a peaceful sit-down protest by residents and supporters.
4.By its own admission, the PSNI fired at least 70 plastic bullets in Ardoyne on Monday, injuring a number of people.
5.The resolution to the annual conflict in Ardoyne is a simple one: Reroute the Orange Order from the area and accept the residents’ right to live from sectarian harassment and intimidation. When the Orange Order’s ‘Tour of the North’ was rerouted from Ardoyne earlier this summer, there was no violence. Likewise, the Garvaghy and Ormeau roads and other nationalist areas of the Six Counties have been largely quiet since the Orange Order was stopped from imposing itself upon them.
The Six County establishment may wish to bury its head in the sand on this issue but they should remember one thing: Monday’s dignified peaceful protest was a message from the people of Ardoyne that they will not be treated as second class citizens, they will not be intimidated and they will not be demonised.
éirígí’s activists and supporters were proud to stand, and sit, beside the people of Ardoyne on Monday and they will do so again if the call is put out.
THE CAMERA DOESN'T LIE
It is understood the perpetrators poured flammable liquid in through a broken window and also through the letterbox.
The family are foreign nationals, who have lived peacefully in this area for a number of years and, while it is still unclear whether this is why they were targeted, the attack was wrong and should be condemned by all.
This area has a history of standing up against injustice, inequality and oppression and no doubt the local community will rally round this family and make it clear the perpetrators are representative of no one.
éirígí echoes the sentiments expressed by the Derrybeg Community Association who visited the family to offer their support. The victims of this attack are residents of Derrybeg and are as much part of this community as anyone of us. As citizens, they have a right to respect, equality and, when an incident such as this happens, solidarity.
Everyone has the right to live in a safe and secure environment free from racial or sectarian intimidation, whether it be the people of Ardoyne or those people who have made Ireland their home in recent years.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
As yesterday’s unwanted Orange march approached the Ardoyne shops, around 200 residents and supporters, including a number of éirígí activists, took to the road and staged a sit-down protest. It took dozens of riot clad, baton wielding PSNI officers nearly five hours to drag the determined peaceful protestors from the path of the sectarian march, injuring many in the process.
Saturday, 10 July 2010
Mac Cionnaith said: “As so often has been the case in the Six Counties, the British government continues to maintain a varied range of repressive legislation on the statute books which it can use at will. That is also the case in respect of this so-called suspension – Section 44 will merely be replaced by Sections 21 and 24 of the Justice and Security Act 2007.
Mac Cionnaith continued: “In the first three months of this year, the PSNI made use of powers under Sections 21 and 24 of the Justice and Security Act 2007 to stop, question and search individuals on over 2,000 occasions.
“The Justice and Security Act applies solely and exclusively to the Six Counties. Indeed, the powers available to the PSNI under the Justice and Security Act are undeniably far more wide-ranging than those available under the discredited Section 44 which the European Court ruled in January to be “unlawful”.
“It should be noted that, in September last year, the then Acting Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI stated that ‘Section 21 of the 2007 Act is extremely useful, in particular because no reasonable grounds are required for it to be exercised’. Those comments alone illustrate the completely arbitrary and rights abusive nature of the Justice and Security Act.
“That such an outrageous statement could be placed on the public record should be a matter of apprehension and great unease to any individual or organisation with an interest in defending and protecting human and civil rights.
“There can be doubt that the coming months will see a tremendous upsurge in the use of Sections 21 and 24 of the Justice and Security Act.”
Mac Cionnaith added: “We in éirígí will be urging domestic and international human rights organisations to closely examine the use and validity of this equally abhorrent legislation with a view to initiating test cases challenging the compatibility of these powers with established European human rights case-law.
“éirígi was one of the very few organisations prepared to consistently challenge the use of Section 44 powers in the Six Counties. We have also previously highlighted the draconian nature of the equally objectionable Justice and Security Act and, as a party, we will continue to mount strenuous opposition to its use.”
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
On Friday night there was a function in West Belfast, entertainment was provided by the Irish Brigade and Ciaran Murphy. Belfast Republican and ex-POW Tony Catney said a few words about the deteriorating situation in Maghaberry at this event.
On Saturday night local Republicans attended the official launch of The families & Friends of Maghaberry POWs in Newry. This is a local group which covers the Newry, South Down and South Armagh areas. We are an independent Republican group, set up with the sole aim of highlighting the inhumane and brutal conditions endured by Irish Republican Prisoners in Maghaberry. This Irish Night took place in the Railway bar which was filled to capacity with local Republicans including ex-POWs and family members of current POWs. The entertainment was provided by Pól MacAdaim and Ciaran Murphy.
On Sunday hundreds of Republicans once again descended on Maghaberry Gaol where a protest rally was held at the main gate. Tony catney addressed the crowd and introduced recently released political prisoner, Gary Donnelly, from Derry to say a few words. Gary gave a 1st hand account of the horrendous conditions endured by the POWs who in recent weeks have been forced to embark on a form of "Dirty protest".
Thursday, 1 July 2010
Friday 2nd July - Irish night featuring the Irish Brigade, St Johns G.A.C. Whiterock Road.
Promises to be a very good night, tickets available from Families, Friends and Ex-POWs group members.
In Belfast tickets are on sale in Caffreys Bar and the Red Devil bar Falls road, Hoops Barbershop Beechmount and Delicious Cafe Beechmount .
Saturday 3rd July - Official launch of Newry Branch of the Families & Friends POW group, 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 @ 8pm.
Sunday 4th July - Protest Rally this Sunday 4th July at Maghaberry Gaol @3.30pm, Organised by the Families & Friends of Maghaberry POWs,
Pick up point for those travelling from Newry will be the Derrybeg bus shelters @ 2.30pm