Wednesday, 29 September 2010

PSNI Harassment in Newry

The latest news from the éirígí Newry Blog

The PSNI yet again resorted to the use of repressive legislation yesterday [Tuesday] as the force launched a major “security operation” on the outskirts of the Derrybeg estate in Newry.

Allegedly responding to a bomb alert, dozens of heavily armed PSNI officers in riot gear descended on the Camlough Road area in armoured landrovers. They were soon backed up by a helicopter, which hovered extremely low over the estate for several hours.

True to form, the paramilitary police spent their time goading and provoking local nationalist youths, who responded by throwing stones and fireworks.

Concerned at the aggressive attitude of the PSNI towards the youngsters, a number of Derrybeg residents contacted local éirígí activists, who then made their way to scene, accompanied by the concerned residents. Almost immediately, several riot clad PSNI members, heavily armed with machine guns, surrounded them. The political police directed their attention towards one éirígí activist in particular and proceeded to question him under Section 43 of the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’, which gives the PSNI the power to “stop and search persons for items which may constitute evidence that person is a terrorist”. They also accused the activist of gathering information “likely to be of use to terrorists”.

Undeterred by the harassment, the éirígí activists remained in the area to ensure the safety of local people.

Several hours later, after finding what they described as a “hoax device”, the PSNI withdrew from the area.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Today, once again, we have witnessed the British police force in Ireland engaging in repression and, once again, it is used against a nationalist community in Newry.

“Several months ago, it was announced that the use of Section 44 would be suspended; at the time, éirígí expressed concerns that it would simply be replaced with other repressive legislation, in this instance Section 43 has been employed instead.

“éirígí is urging domestic and international human rights organisations to closely examine the use and validity of this legislation with a view to initiating test cases challenging the compatibility of these powers with established EU human rights case-law.

“éirígí 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, along with the various other draconian legislations which are in use in occupied Ireland.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “The Derrybeg estate and its residents are no strangers to Crown Force repression and have been to the fore in resisting this repression over the years. Today’s actions by the PSNI are only proving to people that they are an unchanged, unaccountable paramilitary force.

“Our activists in Newry have received a lot of unwanted attention in recent times from the political police. However, rather than intimidating them out of political activity, it will in fact strengthen their determination to continue to build the party in the Newry area and across Ireland – to complete the reconquest of this country by the working people of this country.”

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Successful Launch of Vol. Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band

Saturday night saw the launch of the newest Republican flute band, the Volunteer Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band, which is based in Glasgow.

Patricia Black was a Volunteer in the Belfast Brigade of the Irish Republican Army who died while on active service in England on November 15th, 1991 alongside her comrade, Vol Frank Ryan.

The band were only formed just a few months ago and already they are up and running. They are a well turned out and disciplined band comprising of members of various ages.

The Volunteer Patrica Black Memorial Flute Band was launched on the 2nd of May 2010 after several band members travelled from Glasgow to Belfast to meet with Patricia's family.

A number of Patricia's relatives, local republicans and band members gathered at Patricia's graveside in Milltown Cemetery to mark the occasion.

The band is based in the Garngad area of Glasgow and is politically aligned to éirígí, the Irish socialist republican political party. The band is the first republican band to solely carry the name of a female volunteer.

At a time when when republican flute bands seem to be dwindling it's very uplifting to see a new RFB on the road, it's also a welcome development for éirígí who are growing from strength to strength.

Listening to the younger members of the band speaking on the stage was very encouraging, you could tell straight away that they were up to date with the current political situation. They spoke about how much they admired Patricia, and how they felt that éirígí was like a breath of fresh air for disillusioned socialist republicans such as themselves. I was however saddened to hear how they have been victims of intimidation from anti-republican elements in Glasgow, (as usual the perpetrators were those who should know better) but it was uplifting to hear that it only makes them more determined to carry on playing in Patricia's memory.

I look forward to seeing this band at future republican events and they are a welcome addition to the socialist republican movement.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Action in Support of a Bigotry-Free Newry

Latest From éirígí Newry Blog

On Sunday afternoon [September 12], around 30 nationalists and republicans, including several éirígí activists, made a stand against sectarian intimidation in Newry.

Several weeks ago, imperialist and sectarian flags were erected on the newly opened Newry by-pass in an attempt by unionists to intimidate nationalists in the area. This was a highly publicised incident which attracted the attention of both the local and Six County media.

Despite this attention, little or no action was taken to tackle the issue, indeed while the PSNI is threatening to arrest GAA fans for erecting Down flags in the same area, the force took no action against the unionists erecting sectarian flags.

Consequently, local nationalists took it upon themselves to remove the provocative sectarian emblems on Sunday afternoon.

This action was taken to support the right of everyone to live free from sectarian intimidation and harassment. Such was the support it received that numerous passing cars were beeping their horns in solidarity as the flags were being taken down.

éirígí general secretary Breandán MacCionnaith said: “Unionism has traditionally used flags and emblems in an attempt to mark out territory and construct sectarian divides.

“This type of sectarian intimidation is completely unacceptable and should be opposed by all citizens.

“Those activists who removed the offending items should be commended for their efforts to create a bigotry-free environment in the Newry area.”

Sunday, 12 September 2010

éirígí Newry: Down GAA Fans Threatened by Political Police

The latest from the éirígí Newry blog

With the all-Ireland fast approaching hundreds of Down fans have been busy erecting flags and bunting on lampposts, streets, houses and cars across the county to show support for the boys in red & black as this historical sporting event draws near.

The Down GAA flags seem to have annoyed the British paramilitary police, known as the PSNI, because recently they stopped a number of Down from fans erecting these flags and threatened to arrest them for “criminal damage”.

The ironic thing about this is that this happened on the Newry by-pass close to where Unionists have erected sectarian flags unhindered. The PSNI seem to have a policy of one rule for some.

The Orange state is very much still alive and well, and nationalist Newry is bearing the brunt of it. Unionists erecting provocative sectarian flags, thousands of unionist bigots marching through nationalist areas against residents wishes, nationalists being unable to purchase GAA equipment in Lidl stores across occupied Ireland and now the PSNI threatening GAA fans for showing support for their team whilst unionists are able to plaster the place with intimidating sectarian flags.

Will the PSNI now be stopping all GAA fans and arrest them for "criminal damage" for erecting sporting flags?

There has been a noticeable increase in PSNI harassment directed at nationalists, and it’s clear that it’s not just political activists being targeted but also GAA activists and fans.

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 policing tactics on the ground belies the harsh truth that little has changed and people in working-class communities across the North are only too aware of that fact.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Winter Fuel Allowance and Fuel Poverty

Despite being blessed with sunshine at the minute, the summer months are drawing to a close, so it’s appropriate to post the following information to ensure people don’t miss out on the winter fuel payment. It's also appropriate to highlight fuel poverty which affected 429,000 households in Ireland in 2001

Winter Fuel Payment

People over the age of 60 are entitled to the winter fuel payment benefit, which helps alleviate the financial strain on order citizens during the winter period.

To have reached the qualifying age for a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2010/11 you will need to be born on or before 5 July 1950.

In order to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment you must be aged 60 or over during 20 to 26 September 2010 and normally live in the north of Ireland. Those who are eligible can get up to £250 which increases to £400 if the person is aged 80 or over.

Couples both aged 60 and over whom qualify and who are receiving Pension Credit or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance will get one payment made to the person receiving that benefit, the other person is not entitled to the payment.

You won’t qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if, during the week of 20–26 September 2010:
  • You were in hospital for more than 52 weeks previously, getting free treatment as an inpatient
  • You were in custody serving a court sentence
  • You were subject to immigration control and did not qualify for help from the Department for Work and Pensions
  • You lived in a care home, an independent hospital or Ilford Park Polish Resettlement Home (and had done so for the previous 12 weeks or more) and you were on Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
 People who need more information can contact the helpline on 084 59 15 15 15


Fuel Poverty
The Human Cost of Expensive Fuel

What is fuel poverty?

Dr John Healy and Dr Peter Clinch, two of Europe’s leading researchers in the field have defined ‘fuel poverty’ as being ‘the inability to heat the home adequately because of low household income and energy inefficient housing’ (Alleviating Fuel Poverty in Ireland, 1999). Other definitions link fuel poverty to household income, defining households that spend in excess of 10% of disposable income on heating as suffering from ‘fuel poverty’.

While there may be no universally accepted definition of what constitutes fuel poverty there is general agreement that fuel poverty is caused not only by low household income, but also by poor quality housing. Features of such housing may include little or no insulation, poor or non-existent damp proofing, poor quality or ill-fitting doors and windows. Fuel poverty disproportionately effects those on lower incomes, the old and those with disabilities.

How many people in Ireland are affected by fuel poverty?
The total number of households suffering from fuel poverty in Ireland in 2001 has been estimated at 429,000 households. Working on the basis of household occupancy of 2.5 persons per household this figure suggests that more than one million people in Ireland were affected by fuel poverty in 2001. With the dramatic rises in energy prices since 2001 it is safe to assume that the number of people living in households experiencing fuel poverty is no lower today and may indeed be significantly higher.

26 Counties:
Statistics from 2001 estimated that 226,000 households in the twenty-six counties were affected by fuel poverty (‘Quantify the Severity of Fuel Poverty’, Healy and Clinch 2002).

Six Counties:
The situation in the six counties is even worse with 203,000 households deemed to be suffering from fuel poverty in 2001 (‘Ending Fuel Poverty’ Department for Social Development).

What impact does fuel poverty have?
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland have stated that those experiencing fuel poverty are at increased risk of:
  • Respiratory illness
  • Increased blood pressure and stroke
  • Worsening arthritis
  • Accidents at home
  • Social isolation
  • Impaired mental health
  • Adverse effects on children’s education
  • Adverse effects on nutrition

Premature Deaths:
The most serious documented effect of fuel poverty is that of premature deaths from avoidable illnesses. Each winter the mortality rate in Ireland rises by roughly 20% when compared with the rate throughout the rest of the year (23% in the twenty-six counties – Healy; ‘Action on Poverty Today, Winter 2005’ and 17% in the six counties – Excess Winter Mortality in Europe, 2002).

These deaths which are known as ‘excess winter deaths’ account for roughly 3,000 ‘extra’ deaths across the country each year with between 1,500 and 2,000 of those being in the twenty-six counties (‘The Potential Health Benefits of Improving Household Energy Efficiency’ Clinch and Healy 2000) and the remainder in the six counties. The rate of ‘excess winter mortality’ can vary dramatically with higher rates coinciding with harsh winter and/or higher levels of influenza.

While it would be overly simplistic to suggest that all of these ‘extra’ deaths can be attributed directly to fuel poverty it is clear from recent research that fuel poverty is a significant contributory factor in many of these deaths.

What can be done?
Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of low income/high energy costs and poor housing. As such the elimination of fuel poverty can only occur by addressing both issues.

Take Back the Gas:
While thousands of Irish citizens are dying prematurely because they cannot afford to heat their homes the Dublin government is giving away billions of euros of Irish oil and gas to the international energy companies. The gas in the Corrib field alone is sufficient to meet much of Ireland’s needs for at least a decade but it will only be available to the Irish people at the same price as gas from the Ukraine or Russia.

The Dublin government should immediately begin a process of re-negotiation with the international energy companies to ensure that Irish oil and gas is made available to the people of Ireland at an affordable price. Failing to act will leave hundreds of thousands of people exposed to the fluctuations of the international energy markets.

Improve Housing Standards:
Measures need to be taken to ensure that all new house-builds meet the highest international standards in terms of insulation and energy efficiency. In addition a major government-led programme of retro-fitting of such measures to the existing Irish housing stock should be undertaken without delay.

Linking of ‘Fuel Allowances’ to Energy Prices:
All ‘Fuel Allowance’ payments should be directly linked to the price of fuel and energy. As the price of fuel and energy increase (or decrease) appropriate adjustment in the payment of such payments should be made automatically.



Wednesday, 1 September 2010

éirígí Newry: LIDL Gaelic Products Not Available in 6 Counties

The latest news from éirígí Newry

It has recently emerged that Lidl is offering a range of Gaelic products including hurls, sliotars and helmets to shops in the 26 counties. Bizarrely this offer is not available to people who shop at Lidl stores in the 6 counties.

Such was the concern at this partitionist attitude, a Newry GAA club contacted Newry & Mourne District Council to raise their concerns that this decision could have been politically motivated.

Newry & Mourne District Council has sent a letter to Lidl asking them to explain why they are excluding the people of the 6 counties. The letter was backed by most Newry & Mourne councillors, however one unionist bigot, Henry Reilly, suggested that Lidl should stock orange collerettes instead.

To date Lidl has not responded to N&MDC, but nonetheless they should be challenged as to why they are discriminating against a vast section of the people of Ireland.

Thousands of people in Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Derry and Tyrone are being excluded from accessing this range of Gaelic equipment and it seems the reason is that they reside in occupied Ireland.

For more up to date Republican news visit