Thursday, 24 March 2011

éirígí Newry: Oppose Royal Visit

éirígí in Newry are asking local people to mobilise in protest against the upcoming state visit to the Twenty-six counties by the head of the British state and commander-in-chief of the British armed forces, Elizabeth Windsor, in May.

éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said: “Some commentators are treating this visit as if it is some sort of celebrity affair. This visit is a clear attempt to normalise relations between Ireland and Britain and copper fasten the ongoing occupation. Our society is far from normal and won’t be normal until the occupation ends”

“If this visit went unopposed it would be disastrous and would give the illusion that the cause of conflict in Ireland no longer exists, and that isn’t an option for Irish Republicans.”

“The basic necessities of being a socialist republican means actively opposing the ongoing occupation, British imperialism and monarchy in all its forms. Given the fact that Mrs Windsor is the head of the British state that continues to occupy 6 Irish counties and is also the figurehead for British troops who maintain that occupation are the main reasons why we are calling for people from Newry and indeed all over Ireland to mobilise in protest at the visit”

Murney added: “Unlike others, éirígí certainly won’t be shying away from our duty to vigorously oppose this visit and we encourage all republicans, socialists and other progressives to do likewise. We will assist with getting people down to protest in any way we can"

”Let’s give Windsor the only welcome she deserves.......a hostile one!”

Monday, 21 March 2011

PSNI Harassment: Did Someone Mention Manners?

Despite éirígí continually highlighting and exposing a relentless campaign of PSNI harassment in Newry it seems there is no end in sight for local republicans.
On Friday night [March 18], a republican activist, who happens to be a supporter of éirígí, was walking in the centre of Newry when he was surrounded by the PSNI in three cars and an armoured landrover. The heavily armed officers decamped from their vehicles and proceeded to detain and question the activist under section 24 of the British government’s Justice and Security Act.

They held the young man for over half an hour before allowing him to continue on his way.

The activist in question has been stopped and searched roughly sixteen times since January, during these incidents he has been assaulted, arrested and threatened. On one occasion, the PSNI unsuccessfully attempted to recruit him as an informer.

All these incidents have been logged with the victims’ solicitor.

The following night éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney along with two friends suffered a similar ordeal.

éirígí’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said: “Myself and 2 friends were stopped and searched under section 24 on Saturday night [March 19]. I was threatened with arrest after I gave my details, they claimed they weren’t the right details despite the fact that I have been stopped on numerous occasions. We were then searched for ‘ammunition, transmitters and wireless apparatus’.

“My Two friends were each given a blue search record slip, but I was handed a small card and told to present myself to the barracks. One of my friends asked why was I getting one of those and not a blue slip the officer replied, “because he’s special.” I believe they are issuing these generic cards in an attempt to isolate republicans in the confines of a barracks.

“Then as a parting shot one of the officers said that we ‘better get used to it because we’ll be seeing them a lot more often’. If anything, the levels of PSNI harassment and intimidation have got worse in recent times. Where is the accountability we were promised? Where are the manners we were told would be put on this force? Judging by the harassment that has taken place this weekend, it’s getting to the stage where local republicans are unable to venture into the centre of their own city.

“Given that these experienced human-rights abusers maintain all the apparatus of counter-insurgency at their disposal, including tens of thousands of plastic bullets, access to draconian legislation and CS gas, the nationalist and republican population should treat them with nothing but the hostility they deserve.

“In the past few weeks, éirígí in Newry has been inundated with complaints from people who are being harassed and intimidated by these thugs in uniform on a regular basis. It’s clear that the reason these victims are coming to éirígí for assistance is because they know that constitutional parties are unable or unwilling to speak out against it and can do nothing about it.”

Murney added: “We again call on the constitutional nationalist parties to withdraw their support for this unaccountable force. The function of any police force is to uphold the legitimacy and authority of the state it operates in, it is ridiculous to be of the opinion that any involvement in British policing structures will change that.

“éirígí will continue to stand up for the victims of these human-rights abusers and to campaign against political policing.

“The repressive actions of the PSNI are constantly proving that éirígí’s analysis of British policing in Ireland is correct.”

Thursday, 10 March 2011

éirígí- Election Analysis: Voters Put Soldiers of Destiny to the Sword

The Twenty-Six County general election marked a historic shift in the politics of the state.

For 80 years, politics in the south has been dominated by Fianna Fáil, the Soldiers of Destiny, who, only twice since its foundation in 1926, received less than 40 per cent of the vote in a general election. In fact, it averaged 45 per cent of the vote in 24 previous elections, a feat likely unmatched anywhere in Europe.

February 25 marked the ignominious collapse of Fianna Fáil – its vote reduced by a massive 24 percentage points to just 17 per cent, resulting in a colossal loss of 58 seats. When Leinster House reconvened today [Wednesday] the party returned with just 20 TDs and with just one TD in the capital. Their sole Dublin TD is, ironically, former Twenty-Six County finance minister Brian Lenihan, the man who has imposed four austerity budgets since the commencement of the economic crisis in late 2008. It is a parlous state for a party once so dominant.

Fianna Fáil was founded from the ashes of the Civil War, emerging from a demoralised republican movement. The decision of the 1926 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis to reject a motion, proposed by Éamon de Valera, that abstention from Leinster House was a tactic and not a principle led to a split in the party. Following the split, de Valera gathered his supporters at Dublin’s La Scala theatre and established Fianna Fáil. The party had five key aims, including the securing of political independence of a united Ireland as a republic; the restoration of the Irish language; the establishment of a social system that “as far as possible” afforded equal opportunities to all Irish citizens and an economy based on self-sufficiency.

Fianna Fáil worked assiduously in building up its local organisation and, by 1931, had over 1,400 local cumainn across the Twenty-Six Counties. It established its own daily newspaper, the Irish Press, in 1931, funded through donations from the Irish emigrant community in the United States. It also maintained a close relationship with the IRA, with a crossover of membership in many areas and, in 1931, both organisations marched together to the grave of Wolfe Tone at Bodenstown.

Fianna Fáil polled extremely well in the 1927 general election, winning 44 seats and, just five years later, it rose to power. Its 1932 general election campaign was boosted by the active participation of thousands of IRA volunteers; the IRA leadership having suspended its orders forbidding members from working for political parties in elections. Its assent to power was not only aided by the active support of the IRA but, more particularly, by a Cumann na nGaedheal government that had been in power for a decade but which had utterly failed to improve the material conditions of the majority.

Much like the most recent general election, the 1932 election was fought against the backdrop of a global economic crisis, exacerbated domestically by the monetarist policies pursued by the Dublin government. Poverty and unemployment were rife, while the capital continued to be a city of slums. Almost 100,000 people were unemployed and an estimated 250,000 had emigrated. Despite the appalling conditions in Dublin’s slums, in the first decade of the new Free State fewer than 2,000 houses were built on average per year. Just prior to the election, Free State finance minister Ernest Blythe rushed through an emergency budget that implemented a further cut to the state pension. It was a callous act from a party far removed from the concerns and realities of working people.

In contrast to the conservatism of Cumann na nGaedheal, Fianna Fáil’s election campaign struck a distinctly radical tone. The Free State minister for industry dismissed any notion of government intervention to tackle the unemployment crisis, declaring that: “It is not any business of this Dáil to provide work, and the sooner that is realised the better. The government should not be held responsible for the provision of work in the country; it is not its business.”

De Valera’s response struck a chord with those suffering the ravages of unemployment, “if unemployment was not the government's affair, then, in God's name, whose affair was it?”

Fianna Faíl’s campaign pledge was to tackle mass unemployment and poor housing conditions. The party declared its belief in the duty of the state to provide work for its people; it promised to undertake a mass house building programme in order to clear the slums and create employment and pledged to increase social spending and reduce the salaries of high paid public servants while maintaining those of lower paid ones. The British governor general’s scandalous £10,000 salary came in for particular criticism. It was a message that resonated with voters disillusioned with a decade of austerity at the hands of Cumann na nGaedheal. Fianna Fáil won 44.5 per cent of the votes, returning with 72 seats and forming a government with the support of the Labour Party and three independent TDs.

Fianna Fáil has always considered itself as the ‘party of the nation’; one that transcended class divisions. Outlining why it had selected the name Fianna Fáil – Soldiers of Destiny, Éamon de Valera, its founding leader and most dominant historic figure, explained that the name symbolised a “banding together of the people for the national service”. The party successfully commanded the support and loyalty of workers and small farmers, yet its political programme emphasised the need for the establishment of a native capitalist class and, over its many years in power, its policies favoured the wealthy.

De Valera once infamously declared that “if I wish to know what the Irish want, I look into my own heart” and it was this ability to be all things to all people – the classic ‘catch all party’ – that ensured its almost permanent presence in government over the following 80 years. Its party leadership was as comfortable in the Galway tent consorting with the Ireland’s wealthiest property developers as it was on the stump outside the parish church preaching the message of ‘republicanism’. Indeed, a more contemporary Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern famously declared himself to be a socialist, while simultaneously enacting policies that resulted in greater inequality in the Twenty-Six Counties.

The collapse of Fianna Fáil in the general election is therefore hugely significant and its position in Dublin is particularly perilous. The 2009 local and EU elections saw the party lose its EU parliament seat in the capital to Joe Higgins and it was decimated at local government level.

Its decision to heap the burden of private banking debt upon the shoulders of working people while simultaneously imposing savage cuts and tax increases on workers resulted in outrage and anger in working class communities. It seems working people chose the ballot box to exact its revenge on Fianna Fáil and the party was given the kicking of its life. It remains to be seen whether or not it can recover from this electoral drubbing. Its new party leader Michael Martin seems keen to return the party to the ‘radical republican roots’ of its early years. However, by the time it gets around to reorganising itself, it may find that Sinn Féin, which managed to tap the deep well of anger amongst the electorate and return 14 TDs, will have captured that particular ground.

Sinn Féin’s election campaign message certainly had echoes of the earlier, more ‘radical’ roots of Fianna Fáil and its 1932 general election programme. It campaigned strongly against the EU/IMF deal and the programme of cuts imposed by the Fianna Fáil/Green Party coalition. Its party president Gerry Adams used every opportunity to call for the reduction of salaries of high paid public servants while protecting those of lower paid ones and called for state programmes to create employment. All of which were positive messages to deliver and ones that would be supported by all progressives. Whether this represented a genuine shift to the left as many suggest or a return to the days when the Fianna Fáil leadership railed against high paid public servants and Cumann na nGaedheal-imposed austerity remains to be seen.

Certainly, Gerry Adams’s central message during the election campaign was for a return to what he described as ‘republican values’ and, interestingly, he used the launch of his party’s election campaign in the National Gallery to decry the era of TACA, when, in the 1960s, Fianna Fáil began tapping the golden circle for donations to fund its election machine.

The ‘golden circle’ phrase was never far from Adams’s lips during the election campaign. The reference to TACA seemed to imply that Fianna Fáil had somehow steered off course in the 1960s, when its relationship with builders and developers was cemented and Sinn Féin was keen get ‘radical republicanism’ back on track. It was an open appeal to the Fianna Fáil base to return ‘republicanism’ back to the early days of the Soldiers of Destiny. It was a message that certainly resonated and Sinn Féin’s success in securing seats in a large number of rural constituencies is testimony to that.

However, its continued support for corporate welfare in the form of the low rate of corporation tax in the Twenty-Six Counties and its commitment to implementing swingeing Tory cuts in the Six Counties indicate clear contradictions in its political programme. These are contradictions it seems content to live with and, so long as its message remains popular electorally in the south and it fails to be challenged politically in the Six Counties, that will remain the case.

The general election in the Twenty-Six Counties was fought against the backdrop of the greatest economic crisis to face the state since its establishment in 1922.

The political response to the crisis, marked by the socialisation of private banking debt and the imposition of severe austerity programmes, which have devastated living standards, exacerbated unemployment and resulted in the return of mass emigration, precipitated the demise of Fianna Fáil. The surrendering of economic sovereignty to the IMF/EU was a stark illustration of the utter failure of Fianna Fáil’s founding aim of securing the independence of Ireland. Its subservience to big business was demonstrated when, in a final act of treachery, it facilitated Shell, one of the world’s most powerful oil corporations, in raiding Ireland’s gas in the Corrib field. This treacherous act came from a party that declared at its founding rally in 1926 that it would “make the resources and wealth of Ireland subservient to the needs and welfare of the people”.

The party that rode to power on the back of an economic crisis in the 1930s has been utterly decimated as a result of its approach in government to the current economic crisis.

The challenge for the left is to transfer the anger expressed in the ballot box into action on the streets. Parties and independent candidates that rejected the IMF/EU deal and the bank bailouts had a successful election and there now exists a significant block of TDs opposed to the politics of austerity. Discussions have already commenced within the United Left Alliance, which returned five TDs, on the formation of a left party. Voters have demonstrated that they are open to more radical ideas and it is crucial that this sentiment is built upon and channelled into active political participation.

éirígí and its companion organisations in the One Per Cent Network have commenced the post-election fight-back and have called a demonstration for next Thursday, the aim of which is to highlight the fact that, despite the election, the interests of the wealthy one per cent in society continue to be protected.

It is obvious that a Fine Gael-led government will be no different to a Fianna Fáil-led one; it is committed to the four year austerity programme introduced by Fianna Fáil and backs the IMF/EU deal. The establishment war on the working class will continue relentlessly.

Fine Gael will act in the same fashion as the recently elected Tory government in Britain, with wide scale privatisation of public assets, additional income and stealth taxes on working people and further public spending cuts.

Fianna Fáil has been dumped from office; the task of destroying the rotten edifice of capitalism will require mass political action and a commitment to building the socialist alternative.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Maghaberry POWs United Once Again

Since last year the situation in Maghaberry has remained tense following an agreement being reached after several months of protest. Part of the agreement and one of the most important parts of it was the issue of strip searches.

Since the agreement was reached the screws have repeatedly breached it by insisting on strip searching POWs on a regular basis. Most of the POWs complied with this process while a small minority of just 6 POWs objected and refused to comply.

This meant that the small minority were subjected to forced strip searches as well as vicious beatings on a regular basis.

Over the past few days all the POWs have now made a stand and are now refusing to comply with the strip searches.

This example of Republican unity is to be welcomed and has been welcomed. In 1981 the POWs were united in protest, 30 years later they are united once again.

Statement from the IRPWA

IRPWA welcome prisoner unity.

The IRPWA welcome the latest development among the republican prisoners in Maghaberry Gaol whereby, it is our understanding, that ALL POW's are now refusing to conform with the prison services policy of strip searches. We hope and trust that all POW's and their representatives on the outside can now come to a common agreement to face down the common enemy of draconian practices and intransigence within the Prison Officers Association and the Northern Ireland Prison Service. We commend all those who have arrived at this decision and support their efforts to defend the agreement made in good faith by the Republican POW's last August.

Restore Political Status Now.

Victory to the POW's.

Statement from RNU Aligned POWs' in Maghaberry Gaol

POWs in Maghaberry aligned to the RNU POW Department have been raising concerns about the slow implementation of the 12th August (2010) agreement in the background for some time now.

RNU's POW Department were in contact with a number of agencies and will continue to do so in regard to the agreements full implantation. The POWs allowed the "Prison forum" an opportunity to work and allowed the Facilitators on the outside the time and space necessary to try and use their positive influence also, sadly this time was wasted by sections of the NIPS who it seems are determined to use the perceived-division on the Republican wing as a means of stalling the agreement.

The POWs informed us that they wouldn't allow that continue...They believe that the stance they took and continue to take is the correct one and believe that all isn't lost. The Republican Prisoners and the RNU POW Department call for the FULL implementation of the agreement and an end to strip-searches in Maghaberry Prison...

The POWs' took a decision last week to formally refuse the strip-search entering and leaving the prison, they are asking for the installment of the "boss-chair" which can offer a humane and dignified search without compromising prison security in the reception area immediately as agreed in the August deal!!


Statement from RSF

Press Release / Preas Ráiteas

Maghaberry Gaol Political Status Committee

The Maghaberry Gaol Political Status Committee understands that the Republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison have taken the difficult decision to refuse to comply with strip searching in any form. The prisoners have come to the conclusion that despite the diligent work of the independent facilitators the prison authorities have no intention of implementing the agreement reached last August after a protracted protest. Part of that agreement was that the degrading practice of strip searching would be ended completely with the introduction of the Boss Chair. This scanning device was meant to be used in all cases where there would have been a strip search from the end of January 2011. Despite it now being March strip searching is still being practiced in Maghaberry. The continued use of this sadistic practice is designed to humiliate the prisoners and undermine their morale. Republicans will once more take to the streets in support of the prisoners in their struggle against the inhumane regime in force in Maghaberry Gaol.

For confirmation contact:
Fergal Moore - Vice President Republican Sinn Féin

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Newry Independent Republican '81 Committee presents IRISH NIGHT

Newry Independent Republican '81 Committee
Railway Bar
9pm 12th March 2011
Music by Pól MacAdaim