Friday, 26 November 2010

Republican Congress Public Debate Available for Download

Last night in Belfast, public debate hosted by Comhdháil Poblachtach Ollscoil Banríona, Irish republican socialist student society ( Republican Congress)
Is the cure for Ireland's ills a 32 County Socialist Republic?

Speakers (in this order)

  • Daithí Mac An Mhaistír - Éirígí
  • Eoin O’Broin - Sinn Féin and author of , ‘Sinn Féin and the Politics of Left Republicanism’
  • Brian Hanley - Author of ‘Lost Revolution- The story of the Official IRA and Workers Party’
  • Anthony McIntyre - Author of ‘Good Friday- The Death of Irish Republicanism’
  • Q & A session

Download here:

A very good public debate with éirígí's Daithí Mac An Mhaistír up first

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Belfast Honours Volunteers Black & Ryan

Around 150 people gathered in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery on Saturday afternoon [November 20] to mark the 19th anniversary of the deaths of IRA volunteers Patricia Black and Frank Ryan on active service.

Patricia and Frank were killed in an accidental explosion in England on November 15 1991.

Lenadoon woman and former St Genevieve’s Secondary School student Patricia was just 18 at the time of her death. Frank Ryan, who was born in England of Irish parents but later moved to Belfast, lived in Poleglass. Both are buried in Milltown Cemetery.

Saturday’s commemoration, which was organised by the Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band from Glasgow in conjunction with the Black family, included a wreath laying ceremony at the graves of both Patricia and Frank. éirígí’s Rab Jackson gave the oration.

Peter Black, Patricia’s brother, said the family was glad to see his sister being remembered nearly 20 years after her death.

“We as a family are immensely proud of Patricia’s contribution to the freedom struggle and we are honoured that so many republicans came out to commemorate both my sister and her comrade Frank Ryan.”

Peter added: “Patricia was an uncompromising opponent of British rule in Ireland and it is important that the younger generation are informed of the reasons why she and many others like her chose to become involved in struggle.”

Below is the speech which Rab Jackson delivered at the commemoration.

“Nearly 20 years have passed since the deaths of volunteers Patricia Black and Frank Ryan on active service.

“In that time, republicans have experienced much disappointment and turbulence, but those here at this commemoration today and many more people around Ireland have emerged from this period as committed to the struggle for the Socialist Republic as they ever were.

“Indeed, a new generation of young people has become attracted to republicanism. There is little doubt that many more will join the struggle in the time ahead as the economic meltdown wrecks the lives of working class people across the country.

“And it isn’t simply the traditional avenues of republicanism that people are becoming involved in. Through the language revival, sporting and other cultural activities, trade unionism, projects like the Volunteer Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band, many different community initiatives and éirígí, people are again building community pride and cohesion in working class republican areas.

“Our aim at this time must be to build support for the republican struggle in Belfast and further afield, to encourage people, young and old, to get involved in socialist republican politics and, just as importantly, to educate people about the sacrifice that Patricia, Frank and many, many people like them made in pursuance of their beliefs.

“It takes a special type of courage, diligence and ingenuity to be able to take the fight against oppression right into the power base of the oppressor. These are qualities which Patricia and Frank obviously possessed in abundance.

“This is why people like Patricia and Frank are perfect role models for young people in working class communities today. When their community was under attack, their country occupied and their neighbours exploited, oppressed and imprisoned, they didn’t look the other way or keep their heads down. They decided to take risks, to become involved in struggle because they valued the place where they were from and the people who they loved more than anything else.

“This is why it has been such an honour for me to be asked to speak at this commemoration today. I know I am not alone in extending solidarity to the Black and Ryan families and in pledging that the names of Frank and Patricia and the courage they displayed will never be forgotten. But in remembering our fallen volunteers, we must always keep our eyes fixed on what they died for and what remains to be struggled for and achieved.

“People in our communities today, whether that be in Belfast, Dublin, Derry or Cork are still told they are worthless by the great and the good, they are still seen as, at best, expendable and, at worst, suspect, by the people in power. Exploitation and poverty are still the fate of far too many people in working class areas of Belfast and elsewhere.

“However, if we can instill the pride that Patricia and Frank showed in their community, their class and their country then the struggle for national independence and socialism will reach a successful conclusion. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.”

Friday, 5 November 2010

Has Society Gone Completely Bonkers?

A close friend and comrade of mine, Sammy Cusick, has made the front page of today's Irish News. Sammy is a well known, North Belfast, community activist and is a member of Concerned Families Against Drugs, the anti-Drugs group.

Now it's not unusual for Sammy to feature in the Irish News, he has been in it numerous times for his community activities, but today's story is slightly different.

Just over a week ago Sammy was in the Irish News after a large quantity of dangerous drugs including Cocaine and Mephadrone were taken off a drug dealer by Óglaigh na hÉireann. The drugs were passed onto CFAD who then destroyed them by flushing them down a drain and a photograph of this was featured in the Irish News on October 20th.

As a result of this the PSNI are seeking to have Sammy charged with possession of Drugs!!

Sammy should be praised, not prosecuted for destroying these dangerous drugs and keeping them off the streets. How many lives have been saved by this action being taken?

Sammy responded to this by saying "that most right-thinking people welcomed the fact that these drugs are no longer being sold to our young people. It's a pity the PSNI don't show the same view"

Sammy continued "In the past we have had mothers, fathers and other members of the public approach us with drugs they have found or removed from young people for us to dispose of. This would mainly be because those people don't have any faith in the PSNI to deal with the problem. When you see this type of action being taken you can understand why the community have so little faith in the PSNI"

CFAD have also issued a statement saying "We view this threat from the PSNI and PPS as nothing more than political policing at its worst. Particularly given the fact that well-known Drug Barons openly live in properties and freely swan about in their flash cars paid for through the proceeds of serious crime.

Since our formation in 2008, the PSNI and so-called Criminal Justice System have failed miserably to tackle the increase in the supply of dangerous drugs onto our streets. CFAD's record speaks for itself and people who live in Nationalist areas of North Belfast know only too well, the positive impact our anti-drugs campaign has had. We will not be threatened by possible hilarious charges from the State and continue to expose anti-community criminals who prey on our youth.

CFAD suggest, that the negative energies of the PSNI and PPS would be better spent questioning their inactivity in seriously combating drugs and related crime in working-class communities across North Belfast."

CFAD have come under attack from many quarters since they were formed including from those who should better. Also the discredited IMC have in past claimed they were a vigilante group who were involved in "punishment shootings", after these claims were made CFAD met the IMC and set the record straight.

It seems some people aren't happy with the great work CFAD are doing, thankfully it's a different story in their respective communities.

A few questions need to be asked regarding the priorities of the PSNI.

Why don't they seek to track down and prosecute the dealers?

Will they also seek to charge priests and other community activists who have in the past destroyed drugs? Indeed i can recall a Councillor in Newry who has also destroyed drugs in the recent past, for which he should be praised, but will the PSNI now be seeking to charge him for possession of drugs?

This is perfect example of how the PSNI are failing Nationalist communities in the 6 counties. Rather than target criminals and drug dealers they are targeting community activists who are taking dangerous drugs of the streets and making their communities safer.

Have they any idea how much this will alienate them from nationalist communities? Thousands of nationalists will be reading today's Irish News and will be left scratching their heads wondering why society is so f**ked up.

I have been speaking to Sammy regarding this and as i expected he will stand firm and continue with his community work.
Maith thú Sammy agus CFAD

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Interview with Óglaigh na hÉireann

 Brian Rowan interviews Army Council and GHQ staff of Óglaigh na hÉireann

Rowan: I’d like to ask about the roots of your organisation, how it emerged — the when and why of that, what you see as the organisation’s role.

ONH: The organisation began with nothing more than a number of conversations between senior republicans across Ireland [in 2005]. They had watched how the anti-agreement republican military world had the perception of [being] badly organised, ineffective and perceived [as] highly infiltrated, and, in some cases, I suppose they were. They decided that after a very lengthy debate to try and salvage a group of republicans and form them into an organisation. It would have taken a year just to agree to the formation of a group. We had agreed the title Oglaigh na hEireann, but hadn’t made it public. We looked at all of the IRAs, including the Provisional IRA. We looked at all their strengths and weaknesses. We picked out what we believed were flaws in structure and operational, and we designed a structure for Oglaigh na hEireann, that while based on the same format as the Provisionals, had sections that were fundamentally different, which we believed offered better security and limited the security services in the event of them being able to successfully recruit agents and informers.

Rowan: [Is it] a new beginning, or picking up where others had left off?

ONH: It was a mixture of both. At that particular stage a number of people had come to our attention as having become disillusioned with the Provisional IRA strategy and approaches were made both ways [from ONH to individuals, and from individuals to ONH]. We believed that some of the people who were starting to form a core structure were people who could offer a formidable military alternative to what was then on offer militarily. It’s a number of people who were former members of other organisations, and that’s across the spectrum – Provisional IRA, INLA, Real IRA. The vast, vast majority of people who were recruited were deliberately selected for their skills, experience and know-how. This is island-wide. There wasn’t an open recruitment procedure.

Rowan: When does this become a first operation?

ONH: There was a number of training operations, and testing the structure, which have never been claimed. [The] first operation claimed was a kneecapping on south link pitches Andersonstown. The victim was shot six times —elbows, knees, ankles.

Rowan: Talk to me about this description of a two-headed beast, used to describe the Oglaigh na hEireann relationship with the Real IRA — two bits of one organisation?

ONH: It simply isn’t the case. Oglaigh na hEireann is a separate entity. The confusion initially in some media and security circles, we assume, came about [because] there was a handful of former senior members of the Real IRA who were playing pivotal roles in the emerging Oglaigh na hEireann. Unfortunately because Oglaigh na hEireann wasn’t doing interviews or statements at that time the water remained cloudy.

Rowan: That suited you?

ONH: No end.

Rowan: What about joint operations — sharing materials, expertise?

ONH: At the present stage there is a friendly and cordial relationship between Oglaigh na hEireann and other armed republican organisations. That doesn’t cross over into joint operations. I don’t believe there is any sharing of expertise.

Rowan: Let’s deal with the tactics and strategy of your own organisation. Describe your immediate aims, and then we’ll talk about what you think is achievable longer term.

ONH: Our fundamentals are about securing the organisation, about credible recruitment and carrying out credible, high-grade operations. We also want to offer working class communities, who have been abandoned, protection from criminals and drug dealers. Every time we are not involved in an operation we are recruiting, developing expertise, gathering intelligence and planning the next operation. All of that is made easier on the back of some of our operations. The Provisional IRA took approximately 15 years to wind down. There is no ready-made IRA pack that can be assembled in a short period of time. An Oglaigh na hEireann capable of having a sustained campaign will take time to develop. It will take time to develop the structures, personnel, finance and weaponry.

Rowan: If Oglaigh na hEireann went full out [now]?

ONH: I think we would be playing right into the hands of the British, who, while the Provisional IRA were winding down continued with their war machine in Ireland unabated. To go at it full steam would increase momentum short term, but we believe ultimately would fail within a very short period of time.

Rowan: As your expertise builds, as you become more successful in your terms, what happens inside and outside the organisation?

ONH: Inside the organisation successful operations increase morale. It also gives republicans increased confidence to carry out more daring attacks. Republicans who acknowledge that Oglaigh na hEireann are doing the right things offer their services. That in turn increases our capabilities even further.

Rowan: Do you have what previously would have been Provisional IRA bomb-making expertise?

ONH: Yes.

Rowan: Do you want to elaborate?

ONH: No. We have found that former IRA volunteers have applied to join Oglaigh na hEireann on the back of those successful operations.

Rowan: Security activity?

ONH: We have noticed a dramatic increase in both overt and covert surveillance. A number of people have also been approached with offers from the security services to work for them — from right across the security spectrum. Four people in the last week have been approached with at least one offered a substantial amount of money. In the aftermath of Section 44 stop and search, with the increased [security] activity and presence, we watched as they tried to increase their presence on the ground, and, likewise, we adapted to counter that threat.

Rowan note: The interview then deals with a number of specific Oglaigh na hEireann attacks including the car bomb at Palace Barracks military base which houses the MI5 Headquarters in Northern Ireland, and the under-car booby trap bomb attack in which police officer Peadar Heffron was critically injured. It also touches on a dissident intelligence-gathering operation in a wooded area close to Palace Barracks. Over an unspecified period of time, digital cameras were used to record images of activity at the base.

Rowan: Did you target Peadar Heffron, or did you target a police officer?

ONH: We never target an individual in uniform. We target the uniform and what it stands for.

Rowan: Did you target him because of his involvement with the GAA — that he speaks the Irish language? Were you making a point?

ONH: No comment on that.

Rowan: Is he not as Irish — more Irish — than those who make up your organisation?

ONH: Absolutely not. Irish history is littered with mercenaries who have worked for and implemented British laws.

Rowan: What is it about new policing that you object to?

ONH: Policing in the north of Ireland is still controlled by National Security — MI5. All its powers, laws and finance come from England, and it is no different today in 2010 than it was in 1994 [the year the IRA announced a complete cessation of military operations]

Rowan: Do you really believe that?

ONH: Yeah I do ? everything that the RUC did — the abuse, harassment and frame-ups — still continues today.

Rowan: How big an operation was the Palace Barracks attack — its timing [coinciding with the devolution of justice powers] and the fact that MI5 Headquarters is on site?

ONH: The timing of it was deliberate. The significance was deliberate, and a major effort was put into that operation.

Rowan: Did you have the base under camera surveillance prior to that attack?

ONH: We’ll not go into details on duration of our surveillance except to say that we garnered significant intelligence.

Rowan: Is it from this that you target the Army Major [in a planned under-car booby trap bomb attack] in Bangor?

ONH: We won’t go into detail on how we garner intelligence except to say that we have shown that we can pinpoint police officers and soldiers very accurately.

Rowan: Security assessments suggest the fingerprint/type of bomb used in Bangor was
different to the make-up of the device used when you targeted a police dog-handler in east Belfast — clearly suggesting more than one bomb-maker.

ONH: Oglaigh na hEireann has developed explosives expertise.

Rowan: It was the dog-handler you were targeting — not his partner?

ONH: Had we been targeting his partner it [the bomb] would have been under her seat. Our intelligence and surveillance showed us that she regularly drove him to work. We deliberately picked areas [for attacks] that were seen as safe zones for security forces. It was to send a direct message that nowhere is safe.

Rowan: I want to talk about some recent developments — the speech by the Director General of MI5, the threat level raised in Britain, Police Federation calls for a thousand more police officers, a stepping up of overt policing. What does all of this say to your organisation?

ONH: It says that they — MI5/British Intelligence — are acknowledging a growing threat, which they admit they played down and ignored, played it down and underestimated it.

Rowan: Is Britain – attacks there – part of your focus and thinking?

ONH: Oglaigh na hEireann will decide when and where it attacks. Sceptics will say, ‘they would say that because they don’t have the capabilities’. Eighteen months ago, they told us we couldn’t even detonate a bomb. Nothing is beyond our reach.

Rowan note: The interview then deals with a claim by Martin McGuinness that the British and Irish governments have been talking to dissident groups. The Belfast Telegraph has been told of a process of contacts — not face-to-face, but mediators talking to representatives of the dissident groups and separately to British and Irish officials, but with all sides knowing who is involved.

Rowan: Has your organisation met face-to-face with representatives of the British or Irish governments?

ONH: No.

Rowan: Let me talk about contacts, quiet dialogue, involving mediators talking both to your organisation and British and Irish officials. Do you recognise that description?

ONH: I recognise the description, yes.

Rowan: I’m told it’s at two levels — alternatives to punishment attacks, and exploring a way forward without armed struggle/activity. Is that a reasonable description?

ONH: We are a people’s army. It’s inevitable that we will be interacting with the community. Some punishment attacks are resolvable, others aren’t. It’s a giant leap to get from that to a perception of engagement with the British or Irish governments. People from all walks of life talk to us about non-violent ways. Again, we don’t see that as direct contact with either government.

Rowan: How do you respond to the description of dissident republicans as traitors — “conflict junkies”?

ONH: We think it’s farcical. Some of the hypocritical comments coming from former armed republicans who are engaged in demonisation of former comrades for upholding the proclamation and the IRA’s Green Book.

Rowan: We hear a lot about senior Sinn Fein figures being warned of threats. Are they legitimate targets in your eyes?

ONH: No. Ireland has seen enough of feuds while the British sit back and happily watch it.

Rowan: The IRA was better armed, supported, resourced, and they acknowledged a military stalemate. So, what makes you think you can achieve more?

ONH: The overview of the structure we pointed to earlier in the interview, we believe has more durability to penetration. We have no desire to replicate or be a morph of the Provisional IRA. They failed — so, why would we want to copy them? There is a fragile Assembly. There is a forging together of political opposites that is much easier to undermine and defeat than the war that the Provisionals had.

Rowan: Do you think a war can be won?

ONH: We think a war can create the conditions where republicans can create dialogue that will fulfil republican objectives.

Rowan: Brits out?

ONH: A 32 county democratic socialist republic. Brits out is simply not good enough.

Rowan: So it’s a pipedream then?

ONH: Some people say that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness sitting in a room sharing power in a partitionist Assembly endorsing British policing was also a pipedream.

Rowan: Has killing become the cause, just to say, ‘we haven’t sold out’ — killing for killing’s sake?

ONH: As far as we are concerned we are not engaged in killing for killing’s sake. We are engaged in a war against the illegal occupation of our country and usurpation of Irish sovereignty.

Rowan: So you think that killing will work?

ONH: We think that a war will create the conditions for credible dialogue aimed at British withdrawal. Internal settlements are not what Irish republicans fought, died and went to jail for.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sowing the Seeds of Division

Recently saw the home of Liam Shannon being targetted in an attempted bomb attack in West Belfast, another device exploded nearby.

Liam has a history of being targeted  by Loyalist paramilitaries, most reports are laying the blame at their feet. However whilst listening to Talkback on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday it was clear that the felon setting had started.

The headline of the show was "Were "Dissidents" Responsible?".

Presenter Wendy Austin pressed Liam on who was responsible and she implied that Republicans may have been responsible, Liam immediately rejected that claim and said that the most likely culprits were Loyalists who had targeted him a number of times over the years. Indeed in one of these previous Loyalist attacks they attached a device to a container of fuel, almost identical to last nights attack.

Next up was, former Republican, Maírtín ÓMillionaire, who spoke highly of Liam yet went against him and tried to lay the blame with Republicans, i found it somewhat bizarre that while the victim was rejecting the claim that republicans were involved Mairtin would push the notion that they were.

The Shinners comrades in the British "Security services" have joined them in the felon setting by stating that "it was more than likely dissident republicans than loyalist paramilitaries"

Óglaigh na hÉireann and the CIRA have both denied responsibility, so that rubbishes the constitutional claim that Republicans were involved.

It needs to be asked, why would former republicans try to cause friction and division in the Republican community by falsely claiming Republicans were responsible for this disgraceful attack? Not only is that wrong but it's also highly dangerous.

Why would they try to sow seeds of division in Nationalist/Republican communities?
Who's agenda does that serve?
Who's pulling their strings?