Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Free Martin Corey

A striking image of political internee Martin Corey as he grieved for his brother who recently passed away

Monday, 28 May 2012

Thousands take part in weekend of events for republican prisoners

This weekend saw several events take place across the country to highlight republican prisoners


On Friday a talk took place In the donegal Celtic club. Three former POWs spoke about their involvement in escapes from Portlaoise, Armagh and Whitemoor prisons.


On Saturday there was a successful protest in Cork raising awareness about republican prisoners, members of 32csm, Republican Sinn Féin and Independent Republicans were joined today by German and Polish comrades, again under the watchful eye of the Garda special branch , Irelands political police.
Up to 200 leaflets were handed out highlighting the ongoing protest within Maghaberry, the plight of those Interned by the British state and calling for the repatriation of Michael Campbell,
Thanks to our International comrades, and all those who took part!


Also on Saturday an Anti-protest took place in Drogheda. This was attended by independent republicans, éirígí and 32csm members. There were many colourful banners, placards and flags on display which attracted a lot of attention to hundreds of passing motorists. The Gardai special branch targeted and harassed those taking part in the peaceful protest.

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Belfast Marian Price march/rally

The weekend of events culminated with a march in Belfast for Marian Price. Over 2,000 people took part in this event and the large turnout is evident of the increasing awareness and support for interned republicans such as Marian.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

PSNI Provocation Leads to Newry Riot

PSNI landrovers in Derrybeg

Once again the PSNI in Newry are directly responsible for creating and provoking a serious riot situation in nationalist areas.

Under the guise of an alleged “security operation” the PSNI accompanied by the British Army arrived in force and proceeded to surround and seal off the Derrybeg and Carnagat areas on Thursday [May 24].

Dozens of armoured PSNI landrovers, armoured cars, jeeps and British army lorries kept these areas under siege and at one stage two PSNI helicopters kept the local population under surveillance.

éirígí activists from these areas received numerous reports from residents concerned at the heavy handed actions of the PSNI and were at the scene immediately to ensure the safety of their communities. As we have seen numerous times in the past couple of years, the British forces have a history of provocation in situations like this and this instance was no different.

Speaking from the scene éirígí representative Stephen Murney explained, “While engaging with the community we witnessed several armoured landrovers driving at speed towards a group of young people who had gathered to watch what was happening. This deliberate attempt to intimidate and provoke the community created a riot situation in which stones, paint and petrol bombs were thrown, with various media reports stating a PSNI member was injured.

“The blame for this trouble lies squarely with the PSNI who spent their time goading and driving armoured landrovers directly at young people.

“éirígí activists remained in the area until the British state forces withdrew, leaving the local community to pick up the pieces and clear the destruction left behind by actions of the PSNI.”

Stephen continued, “These communities are no strangers to Crown Force repression and have been to the fore in resisting this repression over the years. If the PSNI aren’t harassing residents in these areas by using stop and search legislation and house raids they are provoking our local youths to create riot situations such as this.

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

Monday, 21 May 2012

PSNI Confirm the Reality of Political Policing

Last Friday (May 18), a widely circulated PSNI press release was issued to the media hours before a number of republicans appeared at specially-convened courts the following day. The press release blew a hole in the myth perpetuated by constitutional nationalist parties in Stormont regarding their much vaunted claims of having secured what they have continuously described as “a new era of civic policing” in the Six Counties.

The PSNI press release confirmed the clear organisational overlaps, interconnection and collaboration between that force and MI5, and vindicated what éirígí and others have been saying for quite some time – that the primary purpose of the PSNI remains that of a fully armed pro-British militia which exists to support, maintain and enforce British rule in the Six Counties.

For several years, constitutional nationalist parties in the Six Counties have peddled the lie that they achieved the following:
  • No role for MI5 in ‘civic policing’
  • No PSNI personnel under MI5 control
  • No secondment of PSNI personnel to MI5
  • Annual oversight and reporting mechanisms on MI5’s role
  • A clear firewall established between the PSNI and MI5

So let’s examine the reality.

No role for MI5 in ‘civic policing’? MI5 does not have powers of arrest; does not have powers to question people; does not have powers to search or seize property. MI5 is fully dependent upon the PSNI to do all this for them. MI5 has overall primacy for Britain’s “national security” interests. As such every British police force, whether in London, Birmingham or the Six Counties is subservient to MI5 and are obliged to carry out those operations, arrests, searches and interrogations dictated at the behest of MI5.

No PSNI personnel under MI5 control? No secondment of PSNI personnel to MI5? In January 2007, constitutional nationalists put great emphasis on a public statement made by the then British prime minister, Tony Blair. Blair stated that PSNI personnel attached to PSNI Headquarters Staff would act in a “in a liaison capacity” with MI5. His statement was conveniently seized upon by constitutional nationalists to camouflage the reality that there are, in fact, many sections of the PSNI which fall under that overarching and all-encompassing description of “Headquarters Staff”.

In a Freedom of Information request published in 2009, the PSNI admitted that that the physical location of PSNI Headquarters comprised not merely the Knock Road HQ in Belfast but it included multiple locations across the Six Counties and also, significantly, included the following departments:
  • Command
  • Crime Operations (including the PSNI intelligence unit C3)
  • Finance &Support
  • Human Resources
  • Operations Support, including the Tactical Support Groups (TSGs)

The Crime Operations Department (and its specialist sections) was formed when Special Branch and the Criminal Investigation Department were amalgamated under a unified command within the PSNI. It is unclear how many former Special Branch officers are located throughout the various specialist branches of Crime Operations or what percentage of total personnel they constitute. Given that former RUC Special Branch officers would have substantial years of service and intelligence experience, it is likely these continue to occupy pivotal positions.

The Tactical Support Groups within the PSNI Operations Support department were, in 2010, comprised of almost 500 personnel.

The PSNI’s overall manpower currently stands at around 7,600 full- and part-time personnel.
At any one time, at least 1,200 of those personnel are attached to PSNI Headquarters staff and, as such, all are highly likely to be acting in a ‘liaison capacity’ directly with MI5.

Palace Barracks

Annual oversight and reporting mechanisms on MI5’s role? Here again, oversight and reporting mechanisms concerning MI5 have been shown to be completely meaningless and worthless.

The appointment of a British peer, Lord Carlile, a fervent supporter both of non-jury Diplock courts and the prolonged detention without trial of suspects, to a role in annually reviewing MI5 in the North, was bizarrely hailed as “progress” by constitutional nationalists at Stormont.

This was probably due to the fact, based on Tony Blair’s statement of 10th January 2007, that Carlile’s annual review of MI5 in the Six Counties is supposed to take place in consultation with the First and deputy First Ministers at Stormont – thereby directly implicating the north’s largest constitutional nationalist party into providing a fig-leaf for MI5’s surreptitious activities in the Six Counties.

Announcing that he had received Carlile’s third and most recent annual report, Britain’s colonial overlord in the Six Counties, Owen Paterson, stated on Monday19th December 2011 that “there are no difficulties of any significance in the inter-operability between the PSNI and the Security Service and identifies this is a sound working partnership and one that is to be commended”.

“Given its sensitive nature,” Paterson refused to make the report public. He also reinforced the sensitive, secretive and potentially controversial nature of its contents by declining to place a copy in the Library within the Westminster Parliament, thereby preventing his fellow British MPs from examining or questioning its contents.

A clear firewall established between the PSNI and MI5? It is obvious from all of the foregoing that no “clear firewall” was ever established between these two forces. Instead, constitutional nationalist parties created a smokescreen of lies and misinformation to mislead their own party members and supporters into believing that they had achieved progress and ended an era of political policing which has existed for as long as the Six County state itself.

That a permanent and malign MI5 presence exists in the North is undeniable. The multi-million pound base that MI5 has built at Palace Barracks serves as an inescapable physical testament to that fact.

Many individuals and solicitors can also attest to MI5’s permanent presence within the PSNI’s main interrogation centre in Antrim. On a regular basis, and in the presence of their legal representatives, persons held in Antrim are repeatedly asked if they wish to avail of the opportunity to have “an intelligence interview” – a euphemism used by PSNI interrogators to describe questioning byMI5 and/or recruitment of the individual by MI5.

There are many within the political establishments in both jurisdictions on this island who have invested much time, energy and propaganda in creating the myth of a new, reformed Six Counties.

They have thrown their full support behind the PSNI, while turning a blind eye to that force’s continuing and increased collusion with MI5 and covert British military units such as the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR). The two main constitutional nationalist parties in the Six Counties, in particular, heralded the so-called devolution of policing and justice powers to the Stormont administration as the dawn of a new era.

It’s time they admitted the failure of that project.

Political policing remains just as much a reality today in the Six Counties as it was ten, twenty, thirty and forty years ago.

No amount of Stormont spin can change that.


Statement from the Family & Friends of Republican prisoners, Maghaberry

In a further attempt to disrupt the campaign to highlight the inhumane and degrading treatment of Republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison, the PPS - at the request of the RUC - has now levelled spurious charges against members and supporters of the F&F group.

These charges follow on from the recent spate of heavy handed house raids and arrests carried out over the past seven days in South Derry, East Tyrone and North Armagh.

The house raids and subsequent charges are clear attempts by the six county state and Owen Patterson - the English Secretary of State - to stem the growing awareness and discontent around the malpractice of the prison regime and the criminal justice system. The brutal practices of strip-searching and control movement, the internment of Marian Price and Martin Corey, the illegal detention of Gerry McGeough and the use of draconian laws are all examples of how little has changed in the operation of British Rule in the six counties. Far from being the ending of the nationalist nightmare that we were promised, we are now seeing the consolidation of the six counties as a police state.

That freedom loving people and Republicans are not prepared to accept the status of second class citizenship and turn a blind eye to these injustices has resulted in the British state forces becoming more and more desperate to quash any opposition to their mis-rule. Such desperation is reflected in the latest attempt to force the “croppies to lie down” and remain silent about their oppression.

However, just as in the past, Irish Republicans will refuse to be cowered down by British repression and the F&F group will re-double their efforts to expose the injustices of British mis-rule. As part of the process to address all of these injustices we would also call on all of you and the Irish people to continue to support the activities of the F&F group and to do whatever you can to highlight the oppression being carried out before our eyes.

Family & Friends of Republican prisoners, Maghaberry. PRO.

Friday, 18 May 2012

"The Murder of Sam Marshall" Book available online

The recently published book "The Murder of Sam Marshall" is now available online and can be accessed at http://www.justiceforsammarshall.com/

Sam Marshall was murdered in highy controversial circumstances on March 7th 1990. In March of this year, coinciding with the 22nd anniversary of his murder, his family publicly launched the new book about the murder at an event attended by several hundred people in their home town of Lurgan in County Armagh. Most of the several thousand copies that were printed have now been distributed throughout Ireland and beyond.

From the time Sam was murdered in 1990, his family have always believed that there had been some form of state involvement in his death.

As a result of information and facts concerning Sam’s killing discovered in recent times, they are now convinced that members of British state forces, including British military intelligence and the Special Branch, were directly involved in the planning and commission of his murde and that British government ministers are aware of that fact.

The book reveals new facts to support that view. It reveals evidence exposing the full extent of the joint Special Branch/British surveillance operation which was in place at the actual time of Sam’s murder.

Many people will undoubtedly be shocked when they learn just how close members of an undercover British military unit were to Sam when he was shot. Indeed, many people will be asking why those undercover British soldiers did not intervene to protect Sam or to apprehend his killers.

This book also reveals how the most senior ranking members of the RUC and British government ministers lied, not only to the Marshall family but to the wider community and the press, about Sam’s murder.

This highly informative book exposes the existence of an official state cover-up marked by British duplicity, deception and denial which began in 1990 and which continues to the present day. It also directly links Sam’s murder to four other murders and one attempted murder in the Lurgan, Portadown and Dungannon area.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Statement from the Family & Friends of Republican Prisoners, Maghaberry.

We the Family & Friends utterly condemn the series of raids and arrests of prisoner family members and their supporters over the last number of days.

This is another example of the states attitude to republican's who dare to stand up for the rights of political prisoners in Maghaberry.

During these politically motivated raids all material relating to the protest ie posters, placards, minutes of F&F meetings, prison crafts and prisoner's letters/cards were seized.

The Family & Friends will not tolerate this blatant attempt to suppress our voice, this will only leave us more determined to increase our efforts to achieve a just and fair settlement to the current protest.

PRO,Family & Friends of Republican Prisoners, Maghaberry

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Stormont rubber-stamping British policy

On Tuesday [May 8], the Six-County Assembly again demonstrated its primary purpose as a rubber-stamp mechanism for implementing British government policy when its members voted to approve the Pensions Bill.

The Bill formally increases the state pension increase to age 66 and beyond. These increases to state pension age will also mean similar increases in the qualifying age for state pension credit and the winter fuel payment. Further plans are being put in place to raise the pensionable age even higher to age 68.

As the pension age rises, the proportion of retirement spent in poor health will increase.

There is a strong relationship between income level and healthy life expectancy. The poorer you are, the lower your healthy life expectancy after the age of 65.

The most deprived 40 per cent of the population spend on average 25-30 per cent of their retirement with a serious health problem, and 45 per cent with a disability.

All the official research suggests that an increase in the state pension age will mean a higher proportion of retirement spent in ill-health or with a disability.

Once again, the hardest hit will be the poorest.

As has consistently been the case in respect of the British government’s attacks on vital public services, on pay, on jobs and on benefits provision, Stormont has again proven to be incapable of offering any resistance to British government policy.

Extending the working life of older people is also likely to have a further adverse affect on employment prospects for younger people.

At present, almost 30 per cent of all those who are unemployed in the Six Counties are aged under 25.

The disparity is even greater for young males.

The current increase in state pension age for women from 60 to 65 years will tend to increase the unemployment rate for young adult females, as older women continuing in work reduce employment opportunities for younger women.

Increasing the state pension age further to 66 and over for both sexes is likely to reduce employment opportunities for young adults of both sexes, unless more employment opportunities in substantial numbers are created in the economy – another task which Stormont has failed to address.

As the monthly labour report for April demonstrated, the seasonally adjusted unemployed claimant count in March 2012 increased to 61,500 in the Six Counties.

Added to this figure is an estimated 50,000 other people who want to work but who are not classed as officially unemployed simply because they are in receipt of benefits other than Job Seekers Allowance. The stark but unspoken truth is that, under Stormont, a total of 111,500 people are seeking work in the Six Counties. In contrast, the same monthly labour report shows that the number of unfilled “live” vacancies available to jobseekers was a mere 2,012.

But it is not just those currently in work and those who are seeking to work that Stormont is failing. The needs of the youngest and the oldest are also being ignored.

In January of this year, a report published by the Campaign to End Child Poverty found that over 1 in 5 children in the Six County statelet were living below the poverty line – the point at which families struggle to pay for basic necessities such as food, heating and clothing. That figure increased to over 2 in 5 in West Belfast (where 46 per cent of children live in poverty) and North Belfast (41 per cent), with Derry close behind at 36 per cent.

Equally shameful figures released towards the end of last year showed that fuel poverty among older people in the Six Counties had reached crisis levels with 61.5 per cent of older people living in fuel poverty – an increase of almost 15 per cent since 2006. Even more alarming was the increase, from 62 per cent to more than 83 per cent, of older people living alone who are experiencing fuel poverty.

But Stormont's cuts are okay?

Stormont’s response was to cut the level of the annual winter fuel payment to those in need, in some cases reducing the amount from £400 to £300.

Only after a massive outcry by a wide range of groups from across the community and voluntary sector did Stormont concede an additional one-off payment. However, not everyone affected by the original cut were entitled to that one-off payment.

As a right-wing coalition, willingly implementing the policies of their masters in the other right-wing coalition in Westminster, Stormont politicians can at least take comfort from the fact that their policies are paying massive dividends for some.

Under Stormont, the private sector rental market has grown dramatically with private landlords and property speculators raking in tens of millions of pounds each month.

In 2001, there were approximately 44,000 privately rented houses across the Six Counties. Over a ten year period, this has increased spectacularly to over 113,000 such properties in 2011, including one-, two- and three-bedroom properties. During the second half of 2011, private landlords and speculators were charging, on average, £436 per month for one bedroom properties, £517 for two bedrooms, and £578 for three bedrooms in the Belfast area.

Many of those forced to seek accommodation in the growing private landlord sector are young single people and young couples who cannot access homes within the social housing sector due to the high demand within that sector and the ever-decreasing number of social housing units available in the North.

Here again, Stormont is failing. In period from 2007/08 until 2010/11, not one penny was allocated to the North’s only statutory social housing provider, the Housing Executive, to enable new homes to be built. Little wonder that there are over 20,000 people officially classified as homeless in the Six Counties.

Single tenants under the age of 35 on low incomes or in receipt of welfare benefits are now also being subjected to Stormont’s cuts. They face reductions in the amount of housing benefit to which they were previously entitled. Many face reductions of £45 per week in their housing benefit, creating a situation where they will simply be unable to pay their rent and, as a consequence, will be forced into homelessness.

After partition, Stormont’s ruling elite showed little interest in defending the rights of the working class, the unemployed, the young, the elderly, and the vulnerable in society. Those who inhabit those marbled halls today show that they, too, have no interest in defending those rights.

The reality for people in the Six Counties is that Stormont’s policies are having a massive, negative impact on housing, employment, health and social services, with continued community disintegration and housing shortages, reduced services for the ill and vulnerable, and the driving down of public sector wages for nurses, classroom assistants, and many others.

In the struggle to defend jobs, working and living conditions, to protect public services that are so important to our communities, and in the struggle to create a new political and socio-economic order in Ireland, Stormont’s politicians have repeatedly shown that they have no progressive role to play – that they are part of the problem, not the solution.

The political elites who opted to participate in Stormont have consistently demonstrated that they chose the wrong values, made the wrong decisions and allowed the wrong priorities to take precedence.

It’s also time they accepted the blame.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Statement from the Family & Friends of Republican Prisoners

Statement from the Family & Friends of Republican Prisoners, Maghaberry. 9th May '12

Since Monday 30th April 2012, prisoners on the Republican Collective Landing have been denied ALL medical consultations.  The denial of medical consultations has come on the back of Maghaberry introducing a new policy whereby they are demanding that prisoners now change their clothing before speaking to a doctor or nurse.  The prisoners have and will continue to shower prior to any medical consultation but the new policy  which would require them to go to a decontamination cell and change their clothing before and after a two minute consultation is totally unacceptable to the prisoners.  After several complaints it has become apparent that the medical staff  have no issue with seeing the prisoners without the need for a change of clothing but as usual the denial of these consultations  lies solely with the prison admin. Once again the denial of human rights to political prisoners remains the norm in Maghaberry.  We the Family & Friends are highly concerned with this new development and call on people to apply pressure were possible and support the POWs on protest.

Mandy Duffy PRO
Family & Friends of Republican Prisoners, Maghaberry.

Thousands attend Loughall Commemoration

A few photos of the recent 25th anniversary Loughall commemoration in which up to 2,000 people took part.









Republican legend and St Mathews defender Billy McKee lays a wreath on behalf of the 1916 societies







Brothers, sisters and daughters of those killed at Loughall including Colm Lynagh brother of IRA commander Jim Lynagh & Tommy McKearney brother of Padraig McKearney












Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Defend Cavehill from Royal insult

I have noticed that this campaign has been gaining considerable strength in Belfast. Dozens of republicans  have been involved in distributing thousands of leaflets in Belfast and Irish republicans gathered at the same spot to launch a campaign against an attempt by Belfast City Council to use it for pro-monarchist propaganda.

In the month of June 1795, Wolfetone, McCracken, Nialson and many other members of the Belfast Society, being a nice day, they climbed to McArts fort on Cavehill. This is where they swore an oath to subvert the authority of England, break the connection with England, to fight for Irelands Independence and if necessary to die for these goals. Which many did make the ultimate sacrifice.

The significance of McArts fort and what happened that year can never be forgotten as it Is the origin of modern Republicanism and Socialism in Western Europe.

Those who gathered at McArts Fort are now widely known throughout the modern world today as the architects of equality for all classes, the beginnings of the abolishment of slavery and highlighted the wrongs of human right abuses and racism.

With this they shared the same dream as the Americans, French and Comrades throughout the world at this time was the anti monarchy belief.

These are the reasons Republicans can never allow the British Queen’s beacon be lit on such a historical location and anyone saying otherwise is far from being republican.

Todays subdued reflection as to what happened over two hundred years ago was marred by British Forces where they found it necessary to arrest one of the participants for not taking his shoes off during an unnecessary and aggressive search of those who attended the gathering. As most had left to carry on with their day to day lives, those who where left chatting where set upon by British forces and subjected to degrading and unlawful searches.

Shame on any so called republican who tries to justify such arrogance and unnecessary harassment of fellow republicans .

The shoneens who backed this imperialist beacon and endorsed it should hang their heads in shame!!!!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

‘Know Your Rights’ campaign launched in Belfast

On Thursday 26th April, Belfast bore witness to the much anticipated launch of éirígí’s ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign.

Welcoming the upwards of 80 people who had gathered inside Conway Mill, éirígí’s Upper Falls Chairperson, Críostóir Ó Tiobraide explained that, confronted with an phalanx “of rights abusers – landlords, loan sharks, bosses, bureaucrats and cops – we are confronted with the age old dilemma; to do something or to do nothing”.

Know Your Rights cards

“For our part, in éirígí,” he continued, “we have committed to do something. To this end, we are publishing a number of articles aimed at encouraging a more full understanding of our rights, the first of which is a ‘Know Your Rights’ card dealing with the most commonly abused pieces of ‘Stop and Search’ legislation.”

Accompanying the distribution of over 500 such cards was a panel discussion led by éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, and a solicitor, whom was acting in a purely professional capacity.

Presenting a timeline of repressive British laws in Ireland, pre-partition to post-GFA, Breandán explained that, “Such legislation is not designed to convict people or to prevent bombings.”

Breandán Mac Cionnaith

“It is,” he said, “intended to prevent anyone from expressing or organising political, social or economic opposition to the status quo in the Six Counties.”

Highlighting that, in just three years, over 76,000 people had been targeted through the misnamed ‘Justice and Security Act’ alone, Breandán argued that it was “vital that we familiarise ourselves with those remnants of our rights, especially today when new anti-‘terrorist’ legislation is casting the net of repression ever wider”.

“The alternative is to reluctantly accept repressive legislation as a daily part of our lives. And that, my friends, is no alternative at all because it means accepting the abnormal as normal and that would be the ultimate success of Britain’s normalisation policy in Ireland.”


Following this address, a solicitor delivered a detailed presentation of the relevant provisions and fielded questions from amongst the most targeted sections of our communities.

Speaking from the launch, éirígí representative John McCusker situated the campaign firmly within the activist’s toolkit of “educating, organising and agitating”.

“We seek to organise and agitate for the maximum amount of change and central to this is educating ourselves as to how the opposing forces seek to frustrate, paralyse and defeat. The ‘Know Your Rights’ campaign is being launched across the Six Counties with a ‘Stop and Search’ card and other rights abusers will be outted in due course.”


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Loughgall 25th Anniversary

The P.H. Pearse Society is hosting an Independent Republican March and Commemoration on Sunday 6th May at 5pm from Galbally Community Centre. The families of all nine men killed at Loughgall by the SAS on 8th May 1987 will be represented.

The event is non-party political and everyone is welcome. No party-political flags or banners are to be carried and the Commemoration itself will consist of a member of each family (or someone nominated by the family) talking about their loved one.

The families have also organised an anniversary mass in St. John the Baptist’s Church, Galbally at 7.30pm on Tuesday, 8th May.

Volunteers Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley, Eugene Kelly, Paddy Kelly, Jim Lynagh, Padraig McKearney and Gerard O’Callaghan were members of the East Tyrone Brigade IRA. Civilian Anthony Hughes was also killed that evening. These men were all victims of the British Shoot-to Kill Policy in Ireland.

The attack was part of British murder campaign in East Tyrone/North Armagh in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s when the full might of the British war machine including SAS, British Army, RUC, UVF, UDR were unleashed on the people of East Tyrone.

These nine men were husbands, fathers, sons and brothers to their loved ones whose only crime was that they were Irish in British Occupied Ireland. They were killed by faceless, nameless paid SAS assassins who were smuggled into Ireland to carry out Britain’s war of terror against the democratic rights of the Irish people.

This commemoration gives all Republicans, young and old, a chance to remember these fine Irishmen who died twenty five years ago that evening in Loughgall. Their story is one that the people of Ireland will always remember with sadness, anger, love and pride.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

éirígí interview with Basque publication Ekaitza‏

This is a recent interview with éirígí's John McCusker that was published in Basque publication Ekaitza.

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What were the root causes for the creation of éirigi ? 

The root causes for the creation of éirígí were essentially the same as in every other generation and formation for much in Ireland hadn’t changed. We remained occupied. Working people remained exploited.

What had changed, however, was that over some two decades of ‘Peace Processing’ in the Six and ‘Social Partnership’ in the Twenty Six, people were gradually being discouraged from taking ownership of their own destinies and instead placing them in the hands of political elites and trade union bureaucrats.

With this direct action, demonstrations, strikes and street confrontations were being hollowed out and the revolutionary socialist republican trend was not being adequately represented.

Thus, in 2006, on the 90th anniversary of the Easter rising, a decision was taken by a small number of socialist republicans, based in Dublin, to form éirígí.

It is important to note that this decision was not taken lightly nor was it in response to any single factor or event but rather a result of a prolonged and in-depth examination of a multitude of factors, historical, contemporary, national and international.

Subsequently, it was their view that none of the existing political parties or organisations, on their own, represented a viable vehicle for the development of a revolutionary Irish socialist republican movement.

It was only then, guided by the words of Fintan Lalor that “somewhere and somehow and by somebody a beginning must be made”, that éirígí was established with the goal of encouraging the resurgence of revolutionary socialist republicanism.

And what are its main goals and main challenges today?

Our aims, in summary, are to affect a British withdrawal from the occupied six counties and the establishment of a 32 county socialist republic based upon the principles of sovereignty, democracy, liberty, justice, equality, community and international solidarity and cooperation.

As for the challenges, well they have been and remain many. Forming a socialist organisation in Dublin, in 2006, in the midst of the mythical ‘Celtic Tiger’ was in itself a formidable task. Encouraging radical republicanism, in Belfast, in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement with its promises of progress and prosperity was also a significant challenge.

In a few short years, however, much has changed. The ‘Celtic Tiger’ is no more. The promised progress and prosperity remain just that, empty promises. These realities have, to some degree, proven our analysis to be correct and our foundation justified.

Which is its social base: i.e., is éirigi mainly constituted by workers, students,? 

éirígí’s base is reflective of those that we have sought to speak directly to, those with the least to loose and the most to gain by throwing off the chains of oppression. We are a working class party. We are constituted by workers, students, community activists, language revivalists and ex-prisoners amongst others.

How many members?

Our membership, which we would measure in the hundreds as opposed to the thousands, is certainly based upon quality over quantity. We seek to attract good socialist republicans who share our vision and who are determined to build a cohesive and coherent movement which is fit for the task we have set for ourselves. Alongside this membership, we have an ever expanding support base, spreading to many cities, towns and villages across the country.

Why, according to éirigi, are the six counties still occupied by the British? According to you, what are the main interests for Britain to remain in Ireland?

The reasons for the continued occupation of the Six Counties are many.

However, a quick insight into the psyche of the British administration can be quite easily gleaned from an examination of what they themselves have had to say about it.

The British, as you are no doubt aware, have long sought to present themselves as peacekeepers in Ireland, honest brokers between two irrational warring tribes. And, in keeping with this, in 1990, Peter Brooke the then British Secretary of State over the Six Counties, stated that Britain “had no selfish economic or strategic interest” in them.

However, in more recent statements emanating from some of the main players in the British Establishment we find something a little closer to the truth.

For instance, Jack Straw, one of the most powerful members of Tony Blair’s administration, has been a little more candid in relation to the threat that would be posed by the ‘break up’ of what they deem their United Kingdom, in that he warns that it would be detrimental to the interests of England. 

He warns of a weakened voting position within the EU. A slip down the world GDP tables. A threat to their position within the G8 and an assault on their permanent seat within the UN Security Council.

If this isn’t ‘selfish or strategic’ enough, David Cameron, the now British Prime Minister has publicly declared himself to be a unionist, treasuring the ‘union’, read ‘occupation’ of the north east of Ireland, with his ‘head, heart and soul’.

Add to this the reality that Britain maintains a garrison of 5000 soldiers in the Six Counties and the recent development of an MI5 headquarters, second in size and importance only to its London HQ, which will house hundreds of British Secret Service spies and spooks, it is clear that Britain isn’t contemplating going anywhere.

éirigi claims for socialism, stating that the Irish question is a social question, and makes it clear in “From socialism alone can the salvation of Ireland come”. To what extent éirigi is a revolutionary party (structure, organisation, etc.)?

From that document, as well as ‘Imperialism – Ireland and Britain’ and ‘Elections, Elected Institutions and Irelands Revolutionary Struggle’, all of which are available on our website, we have sought to make clear our revolutionary intentions. How this theory influences our method of organising is also, we hope, as clear.

Éirígí is a party which is based in its grassroots, explicitly a ‘bottom up’ party, éirígí promotes internal democracy and participation.

The most important level of organising is at the local level, where we form into local Ciorcal, which is the Irish for circle. This in itself has been influenced by the revolutionary circles of the IRB and the Bolivarian circles in Venezuela.

It is here that all major policy and strategic discussions and decisions are initiated and, in most cases, settled. We strive to achieve consensus prior to votes being taken, which is on the basis of one person one vote, and even at the stage of votes being taken we have mechanisms in place to protect minority positions.

If we are to call ourselves revolutionaries, if we are to call for freedom, democracy and participation then we must also seek to afford our members, ourselves, these same rights. 

The éirigi document “From socialism alone can the salvation of Ireland come” points out clearly its refusal to participate at Stormont, considered as a puppet-parliament. Could you elaborate a bit on this aspect? 

From our perspective the Good Friday Agreement, the St. Andrews Treaties and the revival of the administration at Stormont have copper fastened the partition of Ireland and represent strategic defeats to Irish republicanism.

In terms of Stormont being a puppet-parliament, it is difficult to make an argument for it being anything but that when you actually analyse what it is and what it isn't.

Stormont and those who have taken up residence there have been acceded just enough power and privilege to purchase their cooperation but not enough to effect any real change.

Pat Sheenan, in an interview he made in the Basque country (Ekaitza n°1256) for Gara, explained that participating at Stormont is just a means, and by no means, a final goal. Why, according to éirigi, is it considered as a wrong strategy? 

Regarding the claim made by Pat Sheehan, who I know well, that participating in Stormont is solely a means to an end but not an end in itself, well, I suppose the question that would need to be posed is ‘a means to what end?’

If it is a means towards national liberation, I fear it cannot stand up to scrutiny. The administration at Stormont has at its heart an acknowledgement that the continued British occupation in Ireland is in fact legitimate. Any moves towards establishing a united Ireland are relegated to securing the consent of the majority in the Six Counties, an artificial majority, the weight of which has yet to be outlined by the British, who have sole control over if, when and what form such a vote would take.

Is it a means towards social justice? If so, then again, it fails the test. Stormont is given a set budget by the British government with which to play. It has no fiscal powers nor influence over British policy. It has slavishly implemented savage public spending cuts as demanded by the British Treasury, stripping billions from already under funded public services and communities. 

Tellingly, the area in which we sit, is one of the most deprived in Europe and, ironically, is officially more deprived now than it was at the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. 

Is it a means towards a cultural revival? If so, then it fails to live up to expectations. An Irish Language Act, which was to secure equal rights for Irish language speakers, as promised under the terms of the St. Andrews Agreement, has been vetoed by the Unionists at Stormont.

Even those Stormont Ministers who pay lip service towards the Irish language have failed miserably to provide it with the support it deserves.

We have witnessed Irish nursery schools being denied funding, Irish language road signs vetoed and even the disgraceful spectacle of the only Irish language secondary school in the Six Counties being forced to take the then Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane, to court over her refusal to provide school buses to transport pupils to and from the school, thereby denying them their right to an Irish language education.

To you, what would have been the alternative to the Good Friday Agreement? 

In terms of an alternative to the Good Friday Agreement, well, I’m not sure that’s the question we should be asking.

It eludes to an alternative, but similar, settlement, with possibly, better conditions. The Good Friday Agreement was not inevitable nor was it novel; its basic premise was on offer some 20 years earlier (Sunningdale).

As we have witnessed elsewhere, in Palestine for instance, it is not possible to negotiate with your enemies from positions of weakness, where it is their framework, their rules and on their terms.

You will, quite simply, be defeated.

Rather, what should be sought is a strengthening of your forces, a deepening of your politics, a popularising of your struggle and a solidifying of your base. If we had those forces, capable of mobilising thousands of people, in times such as we face now, we would be facing into an entirely different future.

Unfortunately those forces are not currently available to us and our role is about rallying those forces again and bringing them to that critical period where people can really affect change on the streets, in their communities and in their workplaces and not through parliamentary establishments.

Regarding the current Irish political prisoners, does éirigi consider them as a crucial issue? 

The issue of political prisoners, particularly within an Irish context, is always a crucial issue. The British administration has always sought to break the spirit of prisoners, in the hope, that what was broken there would be broken everywhere – in our homes and in our communities.

In the aftermath of the GFA, the British attempted to say that there were no longer any political prisoners in the Six Counties and that anyone convicted from that point forward would be treated as an ordinary criminal (no more segregation, no special status, etc.). That resulted again in significant protests and lead to a kind of special status (segregation). The British establishment, however, remained at war with these prisoners, reintroducing for instance forced strip-searches, for the prisoners to move from a part of the jail to any other part of the jail (to attend visits, the doctor, etc.). Again prisoners refused this as an unnecessary and inhumane attack on their dignity. Hence the prisoners engaged in another protest and put in place some strategies to respond to what the administration imposed on them: some of them refused to go out of their cells, to shave, to wash, etc. In 2010, there was an agreement reached which had been mediated between a number of trade union leaders, some politicians, the prisoners and the British administration, which was signed by all sides stating, among other things, that the strip-searches would no longer take place and granting them greater freedom of association. But very shortly after, the British administration reneged on the agreement and showed some indications that lead to think clearly that they were attempted to re introduce strip-searches into the jail. That again initiated a protest which is ongoing as we speak.

How the Marian Price case could be solved? 

Well, in the case of Marian Price, the answer is really quite simple – Marian must be released immediately and unconditionally. Marian is quite literally being held hostage. Arrested on spurious grounds Marian had her license revoked and was returned to prison to complete a sentence that was given to her decades ago. The problem is, however, that there was no license to be revoked, Marian was freed under a ‘pardon’ which the British now, ludicrously claim to have lost.

Have you seen the film documentary “When the war ends”? 
If yes, what can you about the difficulties former prisoners experimented when they try and (re)integrate into society after the GFA? 

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this particular documentary. However, I think I have an idea of the basic premise of the film.

Not a former prisoner myself, I am certainly not an expert on the inner workings of an ex prisoners mind. I do, however, have family, friends and comrades who have been imprisoned for their political activities.

Political prisoners have not, rightfully so, experienced the stigma of being former prisoners in a criminal sense.

In our communities, many of these people returned to being leaders. Some political, some culturally, some sporting. Many of them critical to building a strong sense of community.

However, former prisoners remain persecuted in many ways. Having lost many years of liberty, time robbed from their families, gaps in normal life experiences, they have, shamefully, found themselves continuously victimised by the state and capital.

Denied many forms of employment, licences, insurance, exploited by unscrupulous employers in other cases, the life of an ex prisoner is surely a trying one.

Is éirigi of a special support to them?

In terms of éirígí, the practical support that we can offer ex prisoners is quite limited and is but one of many areas that we must address in the future. 

What we can do, however, for many prisoners, is offer support for the many initiatives that they have founded themselves and provide a political home for those wishing to continue their political struggle. 

Undoubtedly, we would like to do more on this issue but I don't think it is a bad thing that ex-prisoners have organised themselves. Some organisations, however, only offer support to prisoners affiliated to their movement or do not support prisoners convicted after the GFA. However, any initiative which seeks to make the lot of ex-prisoners better is positive in my opinion.

In his brilliant book, “The Provisional IRA...”, Tommy McKearny makes clear that unionist elites under the Orange State acted in such a way that working (cross community) class never achieved unity. 
Is it something éirigi works on? What are the main difficulties and achievement for bringing communities together so far in the North of Ireland?

The British government has consistently sought to prevent working class unity and often used the unionist elites and their proxies to do so.

Despite this, many people within éirígí have engaged with working class people, from a Protestant background, on many issues and for many years in some cases.

Personally, I have been involved in campaigns and demonstrations that have had a strong sense of working class unity, with one example being a campaign that ultimately resulted in a victory over property developers.

We have no issue with the protestant working class and seek class unity and to this end, at a recent Ard Fheis, we unanimously passed a motion that committed éirígí to:

“…working towards unity of the working class regardless of religious background. To the Protestant community across Ireland, in particular, éirígí extends the hand of genuine comradeship, believing that a democratic, socialist, revolutionary movement encompassing those of all religions and of none has the potential to achieve a new social and economic order which will ultimately benefit all of society.”

There are, however, significant difficulties in achieving this. Sectarian organisations such as the Orange Order, continuously stoke up sectarian tensions, marching through areas where they are not welcome and refusing to properly engage with local residents.

Cross community workers have come under attack from loyalist paramilitaries and fear, suspicion and grievance emanate from all sections. 

I have, myself, had my image published in a loyalist magazine, with my name, highlighting me as an Irish Republican, etc. Whether those are crude attempts at intimidation or actually targeting individuals for attack, we cannot afford to underestimate their dangerousness.

Likewise, we cannot afford to underestimate the challenge posed by sectarianism nor can we afford to underestimate the benefits that will flow from its eradication.

Is it overstated to say that the Republican movement is deeply divided today? To what extent? 

It is undeniable that there are significant differences of opinion, emphasis and strategy amongst republicanism. For our part, we in éirígí have attempted to steer a course clear of recrimination.

What is more important is helping to build a new republican movement, one which is fit for purpose and one which is capable of achieving our aims and objectives.

What is the main aspect the Republican movement lack? 

To this end, we are attempting to illuminate that which has, throughout our history, been lacking. It is our belief that a movement that can satisfactorily address the causes of national and social liberation has yet to become the dominant force within Irish politics. This is the task, as daunting as it is that we have set ourselves.

What about the trade unionist movement in the six counties?

Trade unionism, within the Six County context, has never fully grasped the opportunity to play its role within progressive politics. It has itself not been immune to sectarianism and division. It has been reluctant to confront the excesses of the British state for fear of alienating some of its membership.

At the same time, Trade Unionism across Ireland has not adequately served the interests of its members and has stood accused, particularly through its participation in ‘Social Partnerships’, of cosying up to the state and business.

Having said that we recognise that there are many good people within the Trade Union movement attempting to initiate change and we encourage all of our members to become members of Trade Unions with the aim of acting on our call for the membership to reclaim their unions from the bureaucrats.

I am, myself, a member of the Independent Workers Union, organised among others, by Tommy McKearney, whom you have already referred to. A small union, granted, is attempting to build a different type of trade unionism in both the 26 Counties and Six Counties. It doesn't have a lot of resources for the moment, but there are some serious people engaged in initiatives across Ireland, proposing a radical policy to serve the interests of the working class. It doesn't restrict itself to only representing only a particular category of worker and welcomes unemployed people, students, etc., which is not the case for traditional trade unions.

A date for the referendum on the European Union's permanent austerity treaty has been set as Thursday, May 31st. Sinn Féin would be campaigning asking people to vote 'No'. What support éirigi will give to this campaign? Does it mean that éirigi considers allying with SF on this specific campaign?

Éirígí has and will campaign for a ‘No’ vote on this issue and in terms of this campaign, we welcome all entrants to it. 

Éirígí has been a prominent member in a number of broad based campaigns such as ‘Shell 2 Sea’, the Irish Anti-War Movement and the Campaign Against the European Union Constitution, which was one of the leading organisations in the defeat of the first Lisbon Treaty.

We worked alongside Sinn Féin and other left wing and progressive movements, so it is not a problem to continue working alongside these organisations for this very campaign.

What strikes me about éirigi is that this party is clearly internationalist, even if it is a young party, with no official international connections. Why the international aspect is important to éirigi? 

It is our belief that internationalism has always been a central tenant of Irish Republicanism. The United Irishmen were largely inspired by the ideas, events and revolutions in the United States of America and France. The Fenians made links with the First International, Connolly with the Second International and the volunteers of the Connolly Column fought Franco’s fascism during the Spanish Civil War.

Éirígí understands that now, more than ever, the struggle to free Ireland from the clutches of imperialism and capitalism is linked to the wider international struggle of the poor and oppressed against the forces of the rich and powerful.

To this end we have worked closely with a number of international solidarity groups and developed ever closer relationships with like minded individuals and groups world wide.

As I have said, as for many things, we haven't claimed to have reinvented the wheel, internationalism is a core component of the Irish Republicanism.

The last éirigi Ard Fheis launched the idea of creating a Clann éirígí for foreign people. Could you give us more details about it?

In the six years since éirígí was founded the need for a formal éirígí supporters’ organisation has become increasingly clear to us. Hundreds of people from all corners of the globe have indicated their desire to join either éirígí or some form of éirígí support organisation. Up until now we have been unable to accommodate these international supporters.

And here in Ireland countless others have made it clear that they would join support organisation, should one exist. Many of these people, who are unable to join the main party for a wide variety of genuine reasons, still want to be a formal part of our project. Clann éirígí is recognition of the fact that many people simply cannot commit the sort of time and energy that is required for membership of an activism-based organisation like éirígí.

Clann éirígí is aimed at those people both inside and outside of Ireland who want to formally align themselves with the objectives, analysis and activism of éirígí. For those wanting to make the move from being bystanders to participants in our fight for freedom. For a relatively small sum of money it allows people to show solidarity with the struggle for Irish freedom whilst also keeping themselves abreast of important developments via the quarterly newsletter and electronic updates. I would encourage anyone who supports éirígí, regardless of where they live, to join Clann éirígí and make a positive step towards building the Irish revolutionary movement that our great country needs.

An application form and a full list of rights and entitlements can be accessed via our website.

Will éirigi support the independence referendum to be launch in Scotland? 

Éirígí has yet to announce its official position on the referendum for Scottish independence, or perhaps, ‘near independence’. It is, however, something we will be watching and debating with interest.

Once again, there are very selfish economic and strategic reasons for England to maintain what they claim to be the United Kingdom. They will use everything at their disposal to prevent any break up of what they currently hold and occupy. We have already seen the use of threats, misinformation and propaganda in attempts to frighten people. So certainly, for anybody interested in independence, it will be very stimulating.

What do you think about the Peace Basque process so far?

In terms of the Basque ‘Peace Process’, as with many other situations, we have been keen to avoid hectoring or lecturing people from afar as to what actions or initiatives they should or should not engage in.

We have long valued our relationship with the people of the Basque nation and for our part in éirígí, we were delighted to see so many Basque people at our recent Easter Commemoration in Belfast.

In line with this, we would be more than willing to share our experience and analysis of what is termed the ‘Irish Peace Process’, a process which is unfortunately being held up as a model of excellence across the globe.

I remember, if we look back during the Irish ‘peace process’, we were constantly being shown the example of South Africa, there were a lot of people coming from South Africa and encouraging us to follow the model they had been involved in. And it only became clear in latter years, in terms of what wasn't delivered in South Africa, that it certainly wasn't about the liberation of South African people, about equality, etc. Not so long ago, we witnessed workers on strike being physically attacked by the ‘new’ South African police force. 

We do not have a lot of time to talk about this case, but for sure there is much to say.

In short, just as I wouldn’t have recommended the Oslo Accords as a model for the liberation of Palestinians, I wouldn’t recommend the Good Friday Agreement as a model for the liberation of anyone