Thursday, 30 December 2010

Open letter to leaders of all Stormont political parties and Sammy Wilson

Dear Minister,

I am a community worker and watched with interest yesterday as the Assembly political parties reached agreement on a draft budget despite having been at loggerheads for weeks. Given the ambiguity with which the budget was presented and the complete lack of clarity as to how the departmental budgets will function and also your commitment to a public consultation, I’m wondering if you could take a few minutes out of your hectic schedule to answer a constituent’s question.

Firstly, I'm particularly interested to know how this budget will in any way alleviate the deep social and economic inequalities that plague this place. In fact I would be interested to know if the assembly has in any way tried to unite in opposition to the paltry investment from Westminster over the next four years? Given that you and your political party have been involved in bringing the assembly down countless times over other issues, did this one not seem important enough?

Also I would like to know if the health service, which is already massively under resourced where it counts and overburdened with fat cat consultants where it doesn't count, is now set to be dismantled further? Shall I maybe start learning how to do basic surgery at home?

I would also like to know whether you and your family rely on the NHS or have private healthcare and wouldn't be affected by these decisions either way. Not that this would have impacted either way on the execution of your duties as a public servant of course ;)

Furthermore, and I apologise for demanding so much of your time as I know that over a four year term and within an assembly with more staff than Westminster it must be difficult to get a minute, but what way will the budget impact on education? In the area where I live there are kids leaving primary school regularly with the reading age of a seven year old yet it seems kids aren't worth investing in as heavily as banks. Your thoughts per chance?

And by the way, while I’ve got you a minute, will my daughter be able to go to university as I don’t earn enough a year and really cant afford £9000 and given the cuts you all seem set on implementing, by the time she finishes university she will never get a job anyway and will be unable to repay herself. Just gimme a heads up and some ideas on this one if possible.

Lastly, community groups, organisations and activists across the state are the buffer which keeps society functioning whilst you’s guys eat those cheap meals and shake your metaphoric phalluses at each other. So how much money will you be taking back out of those communities? (If I misspelt phalluses I apologise. Adult education is becoming very sparse in my area for some reason).

Oh yes and by the way, shall you all be leading from the front during this dire economic climate by taking wage cuts yourselves and maybe getting some of that expenses money back into the public purse?

Yours in complete contempt

Seán Brady


Saturday, 18 December 2010

PSNI Provoke Riot in Newry

The Derrybeg estate in Newry was once again placed under siege by the PSNI last night [Friday], provoking some of the most serious rioting in the nationalist area in many years.
A convoy of armoured jeeps descended on the working class housing estate yesterday evening and began sealing off the entrance to the area. They also had a large presence in the Carnagat and Parkhead areas, as well as sealing off several other main roads around Newry.

The PSNI claimed they were responding to a bomb alert at the Camlough Road roundabout, which is, in fact, some distance from Derrybeg. However, local residents, éirígí activists and elected representatives were able to walk right up to the roundabout during the ‘alert’, with traffic flowing freely around it.

As expected, the PSNI spent their time goading young republicans who had gathered nearby. Over four hours of rioting ensued as the youths responded to the attempted intimidation with a range of missiles.

As a direct result of the PSNI actions, there was also a car accident, which resulted in a young man being taken to hospital with minor injuries. Despite being in the vicinity, the PSNI did not even respond to the incident and it was left to éirígí activists and local residents to clear the road and remove the damaged car to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians.

In a blatant attempt to draw young people into further confrontation, the PSNI then decided to enter Derrybeg itself, a tactic which failed miserably.

éirígí activists and other residents remained at the scene for the duration of the trouble and confronted the PSNI as to why they were even in the estate.

After leaving Derrybeg for a short period, the PSNI returned in armoured landrovers in another attempt to stoke tensions.

This time, however, éirígí activists placed themselves in front of the landrovers and refused to let the political police enter the estate. As the activists were joined by other residents, a standoff ensued before the PSNI were forced to admit defeat and, embarrassingly, withdraw.

When a member of the so-called District Policing Partnership arrived on the scene, she informed the residents and éirígí activists that she had been speaking to a senior PSNI officer. She passed on the information that the officer in question told her that “they would be dealing with the people who had surrounded a landrover”. When an éirígí activist challenged her as to what her colleague in the PSNI meant by saying they would “deal” with people and “Did it mean the PSNI would be using violence?”, she refused to answer, stating “I won’t speak to you” before leaving the area.

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Serious questions need to be asked as to why the PSNI felt the need to be anywhere near the Derrybeg estate in the first place, considering the alleged alert was nowhere near the area.

“A pattern seems to be emerging with incidents like this. Several weeks ago, the PSNI used similar tactics in the exact same area, provoking a riot situation. Each time there is an alleged security alert in Newry, the PSNI use it as an excuse to arrive in force to seal off the Derrybeg estate, close roads, antagonise youths and cause riot situations.

“The blame for this situation lies squarely with the PSNI and we commend our activists and the people of Derrybeg who stood shoulder to shoulder and refused to allow the PSNI, who were intent on causing trouble, to enter their area. People across the Six Counties who are suffering due to the unwanted presence of the PSNI should take a leaf from the book of the people of Derrybeg.

“éirígí will fully support any community that is resisting the repressive tactics of Britain’s police force in Ireland.”

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Maghaberry Protest in Support of POWS


Once again this is an opportunity to show solidarity with the POWS and their families at this important time of the year. In recent weeks a situation has developed were men are being prevented from seeing their loved ones due to a disputed oral search introduced by the NIPS. This search, like the forcible strip search, is another breech of the August 12th agreement which supposedly dealt with these two issues; as the prisoners understood both procedures would be discontinued in favour of a more humane approach based upon new technologies. The children of these men have saw their fathers once in the past month, yet they continue to travel to the jail each week only to be turned way in disappointment and despair. What type of system treats children in such a way. The NIPS is guilty of playing with the emotions of these children who are desperate to see their fathers before Christmas. It is our job to support these families and to add our voices to the call for the immediate implementation of the 'agreement' which is now long overdue. Let us stand beside them on the 19th and show them we care.

Protest organised by members of the family and friends support group.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

éirígí: Fallen IRA Volunteers Remembered in Newry

On Sunday, December 12, around 70 republicans and socialists gathered at the iconic Egyptian Arch in Newry to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of an ambush in which 3 IRA volunteers lost their lives.
The éirígí-organised event entailed the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and was attended by people from across the district and further afield. It was also fitting to have family members of the volunteers in attendance.

During the event, a PSNI helicopter hovered overhead keeping everyone under surveillance, but they failed in their attempts to intimidate those in attendance.

The plaque was unveiled by Jackie Shields, whose grandfather, volunteer Peter Shields, fought bravely in the Egyptian Arch Ambush and died as a result of wounds he received.

A wreath was then laid and a minute’s silence was observed.

The event was chaired by local éirígí activist Stephen Murney.

Murney spoke about the growth of éirígí in the Newry area and the Crown Forces harassment that has come with it.

“The most recent incident occurred just a few hours ago when myself and a fellow éirígí activist were stopped by the British police in Hill Street after we had just collected this memorial plaque,” he said.

“We were surrounded, forced from the vehicle at gunpoint and made to stand with our hands raised above our heads while we were vigorously searched. The vehicle we were in was also extensively searched and the political police attempted to remove the plaque from the boot of the car. We strongly objected to this and lifted it from the car ourselves.

“After roughly 20 minutes, during which time they made snide remarks about the plaque, they let us continue on our way. It’s ironic that we are here commemorating an event in which the then RIC was one of the targets and, now, 90 years on their predecessors in the PSNI are trying to disrupt us and disrupt our commemorative event.

“Let us make one thing clear: no amount of petty harassment and intimidation will ever stop republicans from honouring our patriot dead, nor will it deter us from our political activities.”

The guest speaker for the event was prominent local republican Davy Hyland.

Hyland explained in great detail the history surrounding the ambush and the funerals that followed, which, according to reports, were the biggest ever seen in Newry, with an estimated 20,000 people turning out to pay their respects.

Hyland asked: “What, I wonder, would volunteers Canning, O’Hare and Shields make of contemporary Ireland 90 years on? As staunch Irish republicans, I doubt if they would be enthusiastic or happy with the current state of play.

“In the south, due to the greed of the banks, developers and the corrupt government itself, they have had to be rescued by the IMF and EU at a cost of €85 billion. In their latest budget, their response has been to once again target the most vulnerable in society, with massive cuts being imposed on the young, the old, the sick, the unemployed and those living on the minimum wage.

“Yet the politicians in Leinster House, along with their big business cronies, who were the ones who actually created the crisis, escape with their own wealth intact with their bonuses guaranteed and with their gambling debts paid off by those who played no part in the fiasco.”

Hyland added: “As republicans, we do have a duty, not only to remember the past, but also to organise for the future in a comradely fashion.

“I would like to thank éirígí for organising this commemoration and erecting this plaque for the Egyptian Arch Martyrs. It ensures that volunteers Canning, O’Hare and Shields will always be honoured and remembered.”

Respect Fallen Freedom Fighters

The latest news from éirígí Newry

The following Letter was published in today's Newry Democrat

Since last year éirígí in Newry started planning a commemorative event to remember the 90th anniversary of the Egyptian Arch ambush in which 3 IRA volunteers paid the supreme sacrifice for Irish liberation. For far too long this historic event was largely forgotten about and we felt it would be fitting to pay tribute to the fallen volunteers.

In last week’s edition there was an article regarding éirígí commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the Egyptian Arch Ambush.

The title of the article claimed that the Volunteers were part of an “ambush gang”. As the organiser of this commemorative event, and a proud Socialist Republican, i have to say found this description deeply offensive.

I also spoke to relatives of the volunteers and they too shared the disgust and were hurt that their loved one was described as being a member of a “gang”.

The Newry volunteers were soldiers of the Irish Republican Army who took part in a meticulously planned and daring operation involving over 200 volunteers.

Last Sunday people from all walks of life, both young and old, came together with eirigi to pay their respects to these courageous volunteers and the sacrifice made on that cold December night 90 years ago. They didn’t commemorate members of a “gang”, they commemorated soldiers of an army, an army that was to the fore in resisting British occupation. Despite the odds being stacked against them they nonetheless faced the foe with outstanding courage and bravery. The principles by which the organisation stood and for which many of its members paid the ultimate sacrifice remain relevant almost a century later.

Many people would associate the word “gang” with gangsters and criminals. The use of the term in this instance is effectively criminalising the volunteers and their actions. I doubt that was the initial intention but i think a bit more care and consideration should be shown in future when referring to fallen Óglaigh who gave their lives for our liberation.

éirígí Newry