Monday, 30 July 2012

Liam Lynch Remembered

Liam Lynch memorial
Republicans from various parts of the country gathered in county Tipperary yesterday, Sunday July 29, on the slopes of the Knockmealdown mountains at the site of the impressive 60 foot high round tower memorial, erected in 1935, to commemorate ‘the Real Chief’ – Liam Lynch.

Among those who attended the mountainside ceremony was Malachy McCreesh whose brother, Raymond, died on hunger-strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in 1981.

Liam Lynch was born in Barnagurraha, County Limerick, in 1893, and spent his youth in that county, living with his parents, three brothers and a sister.

At the age of 17, he went to work in Mitchelstown in County Cork, where he later joined the Irish Volunteers after their formation in 1913. From being First Lieutenant, he rose to the rank of O/C of the First Southern Division, commanding IRA units across Munster, during the Tan War.

After the signing of the Treaty, which he opposed, Lynch was appointed Chief of Staff of the IRA.

Despite Liam Lynch’s best efforts over several months to maintain the unity of the Army, Free State forces using British artillery attacked the Republican garrison in Dublin’s Four Courts in a deliberate act designed to foment a bitter Civil War.

The Free State government and its forces showed no mercy against those who stood firm behind the Republic and many Republican graves across Munster bear testimony to that fact.

On April 10, 1923, Liam Lynch was shot and seriously wounded as he scaled the Knockmealdown mountains with his comrades in an attempt to escape encirclement by over 1,000 Free State soldiers engaged in a countrywide sweep of south Tipperary and Waterford. Captured by the Free Staters, he was taken to Clonmel where he died almost twelve hours later from his wounds.

In accordance with his last dying wish, Liam Lynch was buried beside his friend and comrade, Michael Fitzgerald, who died on hunger strike in Cork gaol in October 1920.

éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith delivered the main oration at Sunday’s commemoration, during which he said:

“Liam Lynch and many like him were born into an Ireland which, just a few decades earlier, had experienced the unprecedented ravages of An Gorta Mór – The Great Hunger. Between 1845 and 1850, approximately 1.5 million Irish men, women and children died of starvation or related diseases. By 1855, almost two million others had fled Ireland to avoid a similar fate.

“It was an Ireland completely under foreign occupation where the nation’s wealth was controlled by a minority landowning aristocracy loyal to Britain; an Ireland where families were evicted from their homes at the point of British bayonets.

“It was also an Ireland where people like O’Donovan Rossa and others in the IRB sought to organise and fight for freedom. It was an Ireland where a widespread popular resistance in the form of the Land League had been organised to effectively oppose the unjust economic system of that time. An Ireland which, by the end of the 19th century, was again attempting to rebuild and reclaim its cultural heritage through organisations such as the GAA and Conradh na Gaeilge.

“People like Liam Lynch saw the injustice caused by the British occupation of their country and by the unjust exploitation of this country’s resources and its people by a small minority and decided to act.”

Liam Lynch

Mac Cionnaith also pointed out that it was important to reflect on the ideals which motivated Liam Lynch and many Republicans like him.

Mac Cionnaith said that Lynch and his comrades had stood fully behind those objectives set out in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of 1919 for national self-determination, for social and economic justice and democracy, of cherishing all the children of the nation equally, of claiming the wealth of Ireland for the people of Ireland.

“Those who fought in 1916, those who fought through the Tan war and who followed the leadership of Liam Lynch in the aftermath of the Treaty and the partition of this country, were men and women of principle; men and women with a vision for a new, equal and free Ireland,” he said.

Alluding to the general strikes, workplace occupations and land seizures which took place across Ireland in the years between 1918 and 1923, Mac Cionnaith continued, “The struggle for independence and national sovereignty also become a revolt of the exploited classes against their domestic oppressors as well. The present-day popular rejection of the Home Tax is, perhaps, an indication that that spirit of revolt still exists but has still to be properly harnessed.

“Today, the total number of unemployed across the 32 counties has reached well over 600,000 people, with thousands of those who are employed facing wage-cuts, and countless families are again struggling to hold on to their homes as the threat of eviction stalks at their doors.

“Thousands of our young people are again being forced abroad as economic migrants.

“Ireland remains partitioned and Britain still remains the occupying power in Six Counties.

“The Ireland of today remains controlled by imperialism, albeit in a new and more subtle form. The livelihoods of Irish people are controlled by external undemocratic capitalist forces which are, in essence, no different to the external undemocratic controlling forces which Liam Lynch and his comrades mobilised against during their life-times.

“The Ireland of today is most certainly not the kind of Ireland which Liam Lynch or any of his comrades had envisaged.”

Liam Lynch, he said, was quite emphatic in his view that those who supported and endorsed the structures of partition had placed themselves firmly in the camp of the counter-revolution.

In reference to the approach of the forthcoming centenary year of the Easter Rising, Mac Cionnaith told his audience that the modern-day forces of counter-revolution will embark upon an unprecedented revisionist propaganda campaign aimed at trying to persuade the public mind that the objectives of 1916 had been successfully secured through partition.

“We must all be prepared to confront and to challenge that revisionist propaganda campaign both north and south.

“We must again educate and inform others, particularly the younger generation, about the true nature of Irish Republicanism; that our struggle is about achieving real political freedom, it is about delivering social justice, it is about economic equality for all. It is about creating a democratic, independent, and sovereign Irish Republic. An Ireland undivided by a British imposed border. An Ireland whose total resources will come under the control of the ordinary working people of this island regardless of gender, religion or race – a truly free Ireland.

“The business of establishing a free, sovereign and independent Irish Republic remains unfinished. The goals and objectives of those who fought, were imprisoned and who were executed remained unfulfilled.

“Settling for anything less than the complete achievement of those Republican objectives was never an option for Liam Lynch who, in his own words, defiantly asserted – ‘We have declared for an Irish Republic and will not live under any other law’.”

Friday, 27 July 2012

Mandy Duffy (wife of republican PoW Paul Duffy) arrested for having, publicly available information.

Mandy Duffy has been arrested during a police investigation into Irish Republican ‘activity’.

Mandy Duffy wearing pink cardigan
Mrs Duffy, an avid ambassador of Republican prisoners issues and a humanitarian, was arrested by the RUC/PSNI on Monday morning [23rd] due to the ongoing victimisation of non supporters of British/Sinn Feins’ GFA.

The mother of five and the wife of Republican prisoner Paul Duffy, was stolen away from her family in the morning leaving the extended family to look after the children.

The RUC/PSNI have not yet confirmed as to the full rationale of their actions, which left the Duffy children without both parents, but it is believed to be due to possession of publicly available documentation printed by a European civil rights organisation which provides information as to the rights of civilians who have been arrested.

Mrs Duffy the sister-in-law of Lurgan republican Colin Duffy was then released on Tuesday morning.

In January Colin Duffy was found not guilty of of the attack on  Massereene Army base.

It is understood Mrs Duffy’s home was not raided before her arrest. A community worker in Lurgan, she is a well-known campaigner for republican prisoners.

Two months ago her husband Paul Duffy (47) was charged with directing terrorism between 2009 and 2012.

His brother Damien Duffy (43) and his cousin Shane Duffy (41) were charged with conspiring to murder persons unknown, conspiring to cause an explosion and collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists. The three men, who deny the charges, are currently in Maghaberry prison on the no-wash protest.

Monday, 23 July 2012


From The Pensive Quill

Alan Lundy is a 33 year-old Ardoyne man who was recently remanded to jail on charges that many suspect were contrived to remove him from the streets where his republican worldview had been causing problems for those sentinels of partition, Sinn Fein and the PSNI. In the public discourse of those campaigning on his behalf there has been no attempt made to portray the imprisoned man as a disinterested member of the local community. His family are quite candid about his politics, stating:
Alan is an unrepentant Republican, and does not hide his perfectly legitimate beliefs from anyone. He is involved in numerous Republican projects such as commemorations and Prisoner Welfare, and also takes part in community initiatives including anti-drug projects and opposing sectarian parades.

At the time of his arrest he was also vice chair of the local Seán Mac Diarmada 1916 Society, which indicates he was walking in the republican footsteps of his late republican father. He was further involved in the Greater Ardoyne Residents Committee (GARC ) which Sinn Fein, copying what the British used to do to it, has been trying to demonise, something even the most rudimentary bullshit detector is easily capable of picking up: 

This continuing saga has delivered the anti-peace elements both an issue for building on and an unwelcome level of influence within the Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective (GARC). This and other similar groups, like the Rasharkin Residents Collective, are clearly opposed to our peace process and the new policing dispensation.

Sinn Fein alleging that? Surely it has to be an act of ‘diabolical mimicry.’  Borrowing from the template of evangelical religion the auld peace process realises that it just couldn’t survive had it not an array of devilish enemies lined up trying to wreck it. And they all must be banished: to Hell or Maghaberry.   

The name at the centre of this case is not unfamilar to me. I attended the funeral of Alan Lundy senior in 1993. It seemed inconceivable at that point that the republican struggle would collapse so ignominiously that his son, then barely into his teens, would be in prison twenty years later courtesy of the same British police force that had jailed his father. Alan senior had been a republican prisoner with whom I had spent time in jail. He had been gunned down by the UDA, presumably armed with weapons allowed into the country by the British state. The PSNI, then called the RUC, had been in the vicinity of the attack all day but had left the scene just prior to the arrival of the loyalist death squad. Nothing sinister in that, just colleagues changing shifts you might say. 

One of the charges currently laid against Alan Lundy dates back to a 2005 Ardoyne riot for which he could have been arrested at any time. He lived openly, and as recently as this year’s 12th of July parade was visible as a GARC protest march steward. This invites comparisons with the case of the imprisoned Gerry McGeough, and has noses twitching around the scent of the British Police Service of Northern Ireland once again finding it hard to learn new tricks, instead reverting to form and resorting to base instinct.  

McGeough, a former republican prisoner, was arrested and subsequently imprisoned for a 1981 IRA operation, as he left a polling station in Fermanagh South Tyrone. He too had been living openly and could have been swooped up at any time. It was only after he had demonstrated an unerring ability to publicly articulate a critique of the Sinn Fein position on policing that British police moved to take him out of the game. It had all the hallmarks of a political prosecution and there is nothing to suggest that the pursuit of Alan Lundy is anything different. In court this week his defence counselJohn O'Connor said it "beggared belief" that alleged evidence from 2005 was only emerging now. 

The Irish Law and Democracy Committee too has expressed its concerns, and raised a number of serious questions which significantly taint the PSNI action in relation to this case. It had observers on the ground in Ardoyne during this month’s Twelfth disturbances and disputes claims made by the PSNI. 

On Thursday last the mother of the imprisoned man was approached by 2 members of Sinn Féin, Brendan McFarlane and Gerard McCabe who offered the party’s help. The mother referred both men to her son Daniel who was more au fait with the issues. Concerned about his jailed brother, Daniel decided to explore the offer. That evening the North Belfast News was running an ad inviting members of the public to attend a local ex-prisoners centre the following day where their concerns about heavy handed policing on the Twelfth could be discussed. Accompanied by two other family members Daniel Lundy turned up at the centre where Councillor McCabe told him nothing could be done at that time as it was a legal clinic. A strange answer given that concerns about the PSNI abuse of legal processes had brought the family to the centre in the first place.

Frustrated at feeling they were being played, the trio left unhappy but were phoned by Gerard McCabe within 20 minutes and asked to return as Gerry Kelly, on occasion the recipient of heavy handed British policing methods in North Belfast, had arrived in the office and was prepared to speak to the family. In the 1970s Kelly had served time in the same Long Kesh cage as the late Alan Lundy. Now he serves on the same policing board as the force that helped kill him.  

To the consternation of the family reps Kelly, they say, informed them that he would not be able to publicly support them. His rationale for taking this stance was not that he doubted Alan’s innocence; he had in fact acknowledged it was ‘ludicrous that Alan, or indeed anyone, should be charged with an offence of rioting in 2005 after a lapse of 7 years’.

In the family’s account Gerry Kelly would not help it because two sons of the late Alan Lundy, including the imprisoned one, were 'political opponents' of his and that precluded him offering any help to the family.  If accurate this is clientelist politics at its vilest, doused with a streak of malice to add some tang. 

Gerry Kelly has disputed this version and issued a statement to that effect in which he stated that ‘I am left with the belief that Daniel saw it only as a means to attack myself and Sinn Fein politically.’ But as suggested by Martin Óg Meehan ‘isn't it an indication of his credibility on this issue?’ To the discerning ear Kelly only manages to make his retort sound like yet another rerun of the redundant securocrat argument. 

The Lundy family is angry that Sinn Fein has refused to help:

... given the sacrifice that our Father and Husband, Alan Sr. gave to the Irish freedom struggle including losing his life 1993. Is Gerry Kelly only representing those who support Sinn Fein or the wider community? 

The short answer is yes. The long answer is also yes. The upshot – only yes-men to Sinn Fein stand to benefit from the party’s patronage.  

In Ardoyne, as elsewhere, Sinn Fein is being cruelly exposed on the issue of policing and justice. It has often been said that when the tide goes out it is then we really get to see who is naked. On this issue Sinn Fein has been beached wearing only the emperor’s new clothes. The prolonged false tide the party needed to give it cover has receded and its leaders are streaking about the beach ‘naked as jaybirds.’ Meeting monarchy has done little to mask that. Nobody is pointing the finger and saying ‘the queen has no clothes.’ And the Union Jack offered to Martin McGuinness as a loin cloth is too small to provide sufficient cover for the stones which are being squeezed with increasing force and frequency. While Sinn Fein might try to scream in a high pitched voice ‘no sharks’ this is belied by the gathering of voracious British police mouths eager to feast on the party’s powerlesness.  

That the republican son of a former IRA volunteer and Sinn Fein activist languishes in a British jail almost two decades on from the assassination of his father suggests Sinn Fein achieved something more akin to emasculation than emancipation.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Hyland calls for the release of Cllr Louise Minihan

Independent republican councillor for Newry and Mourne, Davy Hyland, has called for the immediate release of éirígí Dubin City councillor Louise Minihan who was imprisoned today after being arrested in her Ballyfermot constituency.

In 2010 Louise took part in a paint protest against the then health minister Mary Harney, during which Louise poured red paint over the minister. This resulted in Louise being arrested, charged and subsequently convicted of assault and criminal damage. Louise was given a two month suspended sentence and received a €1,500 fine which at the time she made clear she would not be paying.

Davy was speaking after travelling to a protest in Dublin with several other republicans from Newry. The well attended protest was held outside Mountjoy Prison where Louise could be held for up to seven days.

Davy said “Firstly i want to send my full support and solidarity to Louise Minihan, her comrades in éirígí and her family. Louise’s actions were in defence of the working class against an onslaught of savage government policies. When Louise took direct action against Harney she explained to her that the red paint she had just poured over her represented the blood that she and the rest of the Dublin government have on their hands as a result of the cutbacks to healthcare.

“During minister Harney’s reign she earned the well deserved title of the “Minister for Death”. Cllr Minihan should be commended for her actions, not punished.

The Newry and Mourne councillor continued “I’m proud to be here at this protest with dozens of fellow republicans demanding the release of Louise. The people who should be jailed are those who are responsible for, and who implement, these anti-social policies rather than punishing people like Louise who stand up for, and defend, the working class against them.”


The Irish Law & Democracy Committee - 12th July 2012: Preliminary report findings

The Irish Law & Democracy Committee has implemented and carried out its initiative for the Monitoring of Contentious Parades through the use of its Independent Human Rights Observers.The ILDC was monitoring events on the 12th July 2012 in Ardoyne.

 We have made a number of preliminary observations as result of its monitoring of events. They are as follows:

  • The first and main parade was that of the Orange Order, the core parade from which all other parades and protests derive.
  • A number of breaches occurred in the outward leg of the Orange Order parade, in respect of the bands, Orangemen, and supporters in a broad range of contexts.
  • The policing operation of Ardoyne residents/protestors of the outward leg was entirely inappropriate, which heightened tensions and caused confrontation.
  • The resulting confrontation led to a number of concerning incidents. It is the contention of the ILDC that a number of Ardoyne residents/protestors were assaulted by the PSNI. Moreover, and somewhat highly concerning was that a member of the Press was stopped from carrying out his work as a freelance photographer and was the subject of a search and detention under highly dubious circumstances, whilst an ILDC member and independent human rights observer was assaulted by the PSNI during this incident. Both of the latter matters are now the subject of a Police Ombudsman Investigation. 
  • The policing operation for the return leg of the Orange Order parade was again a failure which resulted in altercations between Ardoyne residents/protestors and parade supporters that almost culminated in physical attacks on Ardoyne residents/protestors, due to the incursions from parade supporters from Twaddell/Woodvale towards Ardoyne residents/protestors as a result of a lack of any security measures being put in place to restrict them and subsequently protect the Ardoyne residents/protestors from such incursions from the Orange Order parade supporters.
  • The policing of the GARC march was calamitous and whilst totally inadequate it was focused primarily on the Ardoyne side, which as a result led to an attack on those in the GARC march. The operational decision making by the PSNI ultimately risked the safety of those participants in the GARC march and could easily have led to serious injury/loss of life of those participants. It led to a situation where objects were thrown from both sides in a riot type situation.
  • It is a matter of public record that assurances were given to a legal representative for GARC that “sufficient resources were in place to ensure the safety of those involved in the GARC march. This was amid serious concerns conveyed in this respect, in light of the fact that there was a large hostile protest in close proximity to where the GARC march was to pass.” It would appear that the PSNI failed to fulfill these assurances.
  • It was plainly clear the same level of protection was not afforded to the GARC march as was the Orange Order parade, whilst a robust response was deployed  to the Ardoyne area an unobtrusive and understated approach was deployed to the loyalist side, which led to the ‘ambush’ on the GARC march.

Nonetheless, a number of issues remain under investigation by the ILDC in relation to events on the day, in Ardoyne. We will however release any further details as they are attained by us. Our report into the events in Ardoyne will be released in due course. Our full report into the summer parades will be released on the 5th November 2012.

If there are any inquiries in relation to our initiative or any other aspect of our activities please do not hesitate to contact us on:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan Imprisoned in Mountjoy

Councillor Louise Minihan

éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan was today taken to Mountjoy Prison to serve up to seven days imprisonment for her ‘red paint’ protest against former Minster for Health, Mary Harney.

In November 2010 Cllr. Minihan poured diluted red paint over Harney’s clothing as the ‘Minster for Death’ took part in a publicity stunt on the grounds of Cherry Orchard Hospital, which is located in Minihan’s constituency. In February 2011 Minihan was handed a two month suspended sentence and a €1,500 fine following her conviction on charges of assault and criminal damage, relating to the Harney protest.

At the time of her sentencing Minihan informed the court that she had no intention of paying the fine, knowing that non-payment would result in her imprisonment instead.

Shortly after 2pm today, Minihan was arrested in her Ballyfermot constituency before being transported to Mountjoy where she can be held for up to seven days.

Speaking prior to her arrest, Cllr. Minihan remained defiant saying,

“My protest was a legitimate political action, which should never have been brought before the courts. I never intended to pay any court-imposed fine or to apologise for my actions. To have done so would have undermined the legitimacy of my protest and the wider political struggle against the anti-social policies Mary Harney so proudly championed.

“Harney’s ideologically driven policy decisions inflicted unnecessary pain and suffering on hundreds of thousands of people. There is no doubt that her policies resulted in many unnecessary deaths, particularly amongst the most vulnerable in our society. Mary Harney has blood on her hands and should hang her head in shame.

“My protest was taken in defence of vital services at Cherry Orchard Hospital and the wider public health service. During her term as ‘Minister for Death’ Harney chose to run down the public health service, regardless of the resulting human misery and suffering. I am proud to have taken a stand in defence of the public health service and will be not be deterred by a couple of days in jail.”

Minihan concluded by calling for the resignation of the current Minister for Health, James Reilly, “Since coming to office the current Minister for Health, James Reilly, has shown that he is intend on privatising our health service, just like Mary Harney before him. Recent revelations have shown that he himself stands to financially benefit from such privatisation, making his position as Minister for Health totally untenable. He needs to resign from his position immediately.

“The time has come for the current two-tier healthcare system to be abandoned. The people of this country are entitled to and deserve a first-class public healthcare system which treats people on the basis of need and not wealth. Any further cutbacks, or attempts to privatise our health system, must be met with fierce resistance on our streets and in our communities.”

Statement from Seán Mac Diarmada 1916 Society

Seán Mac Diarmada 1916 Society, Ard Eoin condemns unreservedly the internment by remand of Alan Lundy our Vice Chairman, friend and comrade. He is held on scurrilous charges brought by the British State in order to try and break his resolve and determination to achieve a 32 county socialist democratic Republic, as enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation. These attempts to break his legitimate political stance shall fail.

Alan has been an active Republican since his teens, and in recent years has been to the forefront of many Republican initiatives in the Ardoyne area and further afield. He has been involved in campaigns including demonstrating against Political Policing, peaceful radical action against sectarian marches, opposing the scourge of drug dealers in his area, Prisoner Campaigns, defending McArt's Fort/Cavehill from Royalist ceremonies and commemorations for our Patriot Dead. He is a committed and tireless Activist who over the years has dedicated his life to the pursuit of Republican objectives.

Bearing this in mind it is important that all Republicans and those who know Alan stand up against the injustice of his imprisonment and the hurt that the British State has imposed upon his family, especially his partner and three children. We would appeal to everyone to attend any of the protests that have been organised to call for his release and we add our voice to the growing calls for his release from custody and dropping of charges against him. We look forward to welcoming our comrade back to the streets of Ardoyne.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Lundy Family Statement 16/7/2012

Today our father, son and brother Alan Lundy was unjustly remanded in custody on two dubious charges of riotous assembly. The first of these charges relates to an incident that occurred seven years ago in 2005, and with the length of time between this incident and Alan being charged means we are very sceptical about the strength of the case against him. The second charge relates to Alan allegedly throwing a missile while stewarding a Residents’ parade against unwanted sectarian marches through his home district of Ardoyne on 12th July 2012. This second charge is even more dubious, based on just one PSNI officer’s testimony, an officer who was tasked with videoing events on the day, but somehow failed to film this incident. That is because it is our view, and the view of the 2000 people that were present, that no such missile throwing took place. At that parade, along with all the other stewards and GARC representatives, Alan was responsible for calming the situation and ensuring the safety of his people as they came under attack from a Loyalist mob while the PSNI looked on.

It is our family’s belief that Alan is simply a victim of Political Policing. Alan is an unrepentant Republican, and does not hide his perfectly legitimate beliefs from anyone. He is involved in numerous Republican projects such as commemorations and Prisoner Welfare, and also takes part in community initiatives including anti-drug projects and opposing sectarian parades. The two charges that Alan is facing have been brought in order to remove him from the streets, no other reason. Not because he has committed any offence, but purely to imprison him in a foolish attempt to break his belief in the Republican struggle. This is but a further example of the harassment that Alan has faced from the PSNI, the RUC before them and the British Army since his teens. He has been the subject of numerous Stop and Searches under draconian legislation over the years, and has had his home raided on a number of occasions. However all of this only served to strengthen his resolve and determination to achieve positive change in our country, and the response of the State has been to intern him by remand to try and end the valuable work he does in our community.

Unfortunately this is not the first time our family has suffered from Political Policing, Alan’s father, also named Alan, was a Republican Activist, Sinn Fein member and ex POW. In 1993 he was murdered after working in the home of his friend, Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey. An RUC jeep had been present in the street for most of the day, and shortly after leaving, a UFF death squad (including state agents) opened fire on the Maskey home, killing our husband, father and grandfather in a clear case of State sponsored murder and Collusion.

Now almost twenty years on, Britain is trying to criminalise Alan Jr and remove him from his family, including his three children. The “new dispensation” that politicians keep speaking of with regards to policing in the Six Counties is a falsehood, certainly in terms of their dealings with our family. We see absolutely no difference between the RUC that helped to facilitate the murder of our husband, father and grandfather, and the PSNI who harass our family on an almost daily basis and have imprisoned Alan Jr.

We demand an end to the harassment of Alan, his immediate release from custody and the dropping of these nonsensical charges against him. We want him back with his loving family and his Ardoyne community, where he deserves to be.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

‘Orangefest’ in Newry Brings State Harassment

“Orangefest” has once again graced the streets of nationalist Newry, treating local residents to hours of disruption, bigotry and state force harassment.

The centre of Newry resembled a ghost town with many shops opting to remain closed and most residents deciding to stay at home. The ‘benefits for local economy’ we so often hear about to justify such events was nowhere to be seen. The ‘colourful display and enjoyable experience’ didn’t materialise for the people of Newry.

Thousands of Orangemen accompanied by dozens of bands took part in the annual sectarian ritual which also included a large scale security operation mounted by British state forces. Local residents, including éirígí’s local representative Stephen Murney, were stopped, searched and questioned throughout the day by the PSNI who used the occasion to step up their harassment of the local population.

Stephen explained, “I had arranged to meet Councillor Davy Hyland and another comrade beside the Town Hall to observe this coat-trailing exercise. Before I had even reached my destination I was stopped and questioned under the Justice & Security Act. When I eventually met Davy, we immediately found ourselves surrounded by members of the PSNI’s Tactical Support Group (TSG). For a second time I was questioned under the Justice and Security Act, while Davy and another comrade also had their details noted. We were also photographed and videoed by the PSNI for “intelligence purposes” while our comrade was threatened with arrest.


“While standing watching the parade members of the Orange Order were shouting abuse at councillor Hyland and made obscene hand gestures towards us in an attempt to provoke a reaction. They failed, but the PSNI unsurprisingly didn’t intervene. Another more serious incident occurred when members of a loyalist flute band went to attack a photographer who had dared step in front of their band to take a photograph. Again the PSNI stood idly by and did nothing despite being situated just a few feet away from the incident.”

Murney continued, “Shortly after the parade had left the centre of Newry, I was stopped and searched for ammunition for a third time while Davy Hyland, for a second time, had his details recorded. There was no justification whatsoever for the harassment we received today. Many other people, including councillors and members of other parties, were standing observing this march a few feet from us unhindered yet the PSNI took exception to our presence and deliberately targeted us.

“While the people who live in Newry cannot walk freely in their own city, thousands of unionists can indulge in threatening behaviour, intimidation and provocation while being protected by the forces of the British state.”

Stephen ended by saying, “We certainly won’t be intimidated by sectarian shows of strength nor will we be deterred by PSNI harassment. We will continue to campaign for the right of everyone to live free from sectarian harassment and intimidation.”

A few more photos

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Friday, 13 July 2012

Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective Statement

12th July 2012

“GARC is a non party-political residents’ group that is there to serve and give a voice to all the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales, in terms of opposing unwanted bigoted parades through our community by Loyal Orders. GARC is committed to peaceful, radical action in order to bring an end to triumphalist parades that are open manifestations of sectarianism and that result in massive disruption to the lives of people in this community, the militarization of our community and the criminalisation of our community.”

Today we witnessed yet again the Loyal Orders being granted permission by the Parades Commission to march through our area, despite the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the residents of this area stating their opposition to such open expressions of sectarian bigotry taking place within this community.

The media focus of the past few days has been on the apparent inconvenience caused by the Orange Order by having to be back through Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales by 4pm. We only wish the media and unionist politicians, including the First Minister, were as concerned about the inconveniences that the residents of our areas face as a result of unwanted Loyal Order parades. These include being subjected to sectarian taunts and behaviour, the flaunting of loyalist paramilitary emblems celebrating those who have killed our loved ones, heavy militarization of the area, restrictions on freedom of movement, restricted access to local amenities and the criminalisation of our area. The Orange Order have successfully convinced the media that they are the victims of the parading issue in Ardoyne this year, while the plight of the real victims, the residents have been ignored. The Orange Order have got what they wanted, both an outgoing and return parade to demonstrate their supposed supremacy over the Catholic, Nationalist and Republican people. These parades were fully supported, facilitated and protected rigourously with all the resources at the PSNI’s disposal.

In the aftermath of the Orange Order return parade a number of residents who had been at another peaceful protest were attacked by a massive crowd of loyalists who had gathered at the junction of Twaddell and Woodvale, which nearly resulted in hand to hand fighting as a result of the PSNI failure to protect them. The PSNI then formed a line made up of riot police at the top of Brompton Park in order to antagonise gathering young people, who then unfortunately engaged in violence. A senior officer from the PSNI then got in contact with the named GARC parade organiser, who was told, in the presence of other GARC members that they would pull out of Brompton for our parade to take place, if we helped clear that area of rioters. They ensured us that this would happen immediately and that the same would happen at Estoril Park were we were to enter the Ardoyne Road. A number of GARC representatives then went to the scene and with a megaphone appealed for the violence to cease, in order that our planned peaceful protest could proceed. Our march shortly after departed from Ardoyne Avenue with over 2000 people walking in dignified silence against sectarian parades.

On arrival at Estoril with 2000 people we were told that this was not the case and after negotiations with the officer in charge it became apparent that the PSNI were hoping for a stand off to develop to increase the likelihood of violence and to criminalise the whole march. We decided that we would then take the march down Duneden Park and away from the police lines voluntarily and onwards to our dispersal point. At the bottom of Duneden Park we were contacted by our Legal Representative who had been informed by the senior PSNI Officer in charge that the route was now clear and we would now be free to proceed according to the determination made by the Parades Commission. Again however when we arrived at the top of Estoril Park the police refused to remove their lines and let the parade swiftly proceed before those who had previously been engaged in violence could arrive from Brompton Park. By holding the march up anti social elements, including well known state agents and paid PSNI informers from the Upper Springfield area, had gathered at the side of the legitimate parade participants. The PSNI, after a further 15 minute period, then allowed us to access the road, after ensuring parade organisers that they would be full protected from loyalists who had gathered at the Twaddell/Woodvale junction.

On accessing the Ardoyne/Crumlin Road and viewing Twaddell/Woodvale junctions for ourselves it became apparent that the policing operation was totally inadequate to defend marchers from the hundreds, if not thousands, of loyalists who had gathered. Loyalists had been allowed to gather even on the spy-camera roundabout within touching distance of our parade. As the head of our parade entered Brompton Park, the middle was attacked with missiles as varied as sticks, bottles, fireworks, scaffolding poles and even a set of step ladders taken from a photographer. Young people who had followed from Estoril, including previously named PSNI infomers, but were not part of the parade then retaliated. GARC stewards and other parade participants, to their eternal credit, then managed to get our marchers, who behaved with dignity in the face of a premeditated attack orchestrated by visible UDA and UVF members into Brompton Park. We then appealed to those in Brompton to follow us to our arranged dispersal point in Ardoyne Avenue, half a mile away, which we did.

We would like to pay tribute to all those who took part in our parade and conducted themselves with dignity and respect for their rights and community. We today have made history as the first people from our community to march on the front of that road and demand an end to unwanted Loyal Order Parades, and the sectarian intimidation that results from them. We would again, as we did in the run up to today, appeal to people not to engage in violence that will only disrupt the lives of our own people living in Ardoyne. And we hope that people would acknowledge the very visible and legitimate way in which we have consistently done so. Tonight we put ourselves at the front line of a riot situation that was developing and positively used our influence to try and make it cease.

In addition it would be wrong if we did not criticise the role of the PSNI in today’s events. They attacked residents returning to their homes in the morning, failed to protect residents in the immediate aftermath of the Orange Order return parade from attack by loyalists, tried to ensure a stand off situation would develop into violence on two separate occasions at the top of Estoril Park and totally failed to protect GARC marchers from loyalist paramilitary attacks on the Crumlin Road. They had previously stated that they would ”robustly enforce” the Parades Commission’s 12th determinations, and ensure marchers and protestors would be fully protected. What today has demonstrated is that while they robustly defended the Orange Order marches, they were more than willing to see the people of Ardoyne and their supporters attacked. This again reinforces the majority view within the Ardoyne area that the PSNI is a sectarian militia there to protect those who support the state, while permitting attacks on those who stand up for their rights.

This year’s 12th of July in Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales has shown us that the continued demand of the Loyal Orders to march through our community leads to an increase in community disruption, as has been the case for generations. We in GARC are willing to work with anyone within the community to help bring a solution to the Parading issue in our locality. The only solution has to be an end to Loyal Order parades and they bear the responsibility for the consequences. To demonstrate our willingness to find a sensible, peaceful solution, while remaining true to the vast majority of our residents’ wishes that there are no Loyal Order parades through our area we are prepared to take the first step. GARC will in future refuse to apply for any parades on the Crumlin/Ardoyne Roads, if the Loyal Orders reciprocate and give an undertaking to do the same. This will, in effect, create a shared and neutral non-parading zone on that stretch of the road. This could be coupled with an obligation and determination by the Stormont Executive to allocate funds to fully upgrade the alternative route down Glenside and onto the Forthriver Road, giving Loyal Orders the opportunity to march were they are fully welcome and appreciated, while safeguarding nationalist residents’ rights. We hope this proposal is taken in the good faith intended.

In conclusion, we remain committed to giving a voice to all those within Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales who oppose unwanted sectarian parades by Loyal Orders and will continue to organise peaceful action to constructively demonstrate our opposition. We would again like to thank all those who attended our parade today and acted with the utmost dignity and in peace, they were a credit to their people. Thank you all.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Mac Cionnaith accuses judiciary of equal culpability in Corey internment

Owen Paterson
The ongoing internment of Lurgan republican Martin Corey took yet another twist yesterday afternoon [July 11].

Two years ago, a British NIO minister ordered Martin Corey’s imprisonment on the basis of “closed material”. No evidence has ever been produced to substantiate any charge against Martin.

On Monday 9th July, Mr Justice Treacy ruled that he should be released on unconditional bail. In a case centring on the secrecy of how Martin Corey was sent back to prison in 2010, the judge found that the North’s parole commissioners had breached his human rights by refusing to release him.

British NIO minister Owen Paterson then sought and was granted a stay on the release order by a second court, thereby ensuring Martin Corey’s continued detention. Remarkably, that stay was granted despite the absence from that hearing of Martin’s legal team.

A third court on Tuesday 10th July then decided to refer the case to a court of appeal hearing on Wednesday 11th July which has postponed any decision until September, thereby ensuring Martin’s continued internment for another two months at least.

Commenting on this latest twist in the Corey case, éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “What has been witnessed over the past three days is nothing short of an unprecedented farce. It is a clear case of the British government literally arranging the bench in order to get a decision that it is happy with. Any sense of fairness, lack of prejudice or integrity which one is supposed to associate with any system of justice has been totally absent in the Martin Corey case.

“While the responsibility for Martin Corey’s continued internment lies directly with the British government, the Six County judicial system is not without blame either. That system is the same judicial system that upholds injustice through its operation of non-jury Diplock courts.

“That judiciary has this week proven itself to be a willing and integral tool in the implementation of British government policy. Judges in no less than three separate hearings have shown that they are equally culpable for Martin's ongoing detention.”

Mac Cionnaith also said, “Those constitutional nationalist political parties who endorsed and supported cosmetic changes to the justice system, and who provide a smokescreen cover for such blatant injustice, also need to examine their own positions.

“Those parties cannot be allowed to merely dismiss Martin Corey’s continued internment as being the result of ‘British interference in the due process’.

“The judicial system, which has now play its part in Martin Corey’s continued internment, is part of the structures which those parties endorsed and which they heralded as ‘a new beginning’. There can be no escape from that fact, however unpalatable that may be for some to admit.”

PSNI ignore annual sectarian ritual

Flag and bunting at Ardmore barracks
éirígí spokesperson in Newry Stephen Murney has responded to the erection of flags and buntings around the city, including outside Ardmore PSNI barracks.

Murney said, “The ability of unionists to erect flags and bunting unhindered outside Newry PSNI barracks is not in the least surprising.

“It is widely acknowledged that flags and bunting are regularly erected outside catholic churches and shops in various towns and villages. Individual catholic homes in unionist areas are also singled out for this treatment.

“On an annual basis, the PSNI not only turn a blind-eye to such behaviour, our party activists and supporters, as well ordinary nationalists, would argue that the PSNI actually facilitates this behaviour.”

Murney, the local spokesperson for the socialist republican party in the Newry area, added, “Our party members can point to numerous incidents in various areas where the PSNI are actually present as the erection of flags and bunting takes place but do nothing except engage in friendly conversations with those responsible.

“It is notable that, despite the clear intent of those behind this annual sectarian ritual to intimidate and provoke nationalists or to deliberately foment and increase tensions within communities, the PSNI merely publicly respond by saying that ‘no crime was committed’.”

Concluding, Murney said, “It is patently obviously to everyone that the PSNI has a long-standing and unwritten corporate policy, inherited from the RUC, which is implemented each July.

“That policy can be summed up as stating such sectarian provocation by unionists is not to be considered as ‘behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace’.”

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Mac Coitir urges vigilance as sinister Unionist alliance re-emerges over Ardoyne

Pádraic Mac Coitir
éirígí spokesperson Pádraic Mac Coitir has said that nationalist communities across the Six counties need to be vigilant as the 12th July approaches and a sinister alliance involving the Orange Order, unionist political parties and unionist paramilitaries is re-emerging in north Belfast.

Mac Coitir said, “It should be abundantly clear to any independent or impartial observer of the Orange Order’s annual coat-trailing exercises that there is no valid or legitimate reason why marches by an overtly sectarian organisation should be permitted to proceed through overwhelmingly nationalist towns such as Newry or Crumlin or to go past areas such as Ardoyne in north Belfast.

“It is also striking that in north Belfast, a sinister alliance between the Orange Order, unionist parties (including Stormont ministers such as Nigel Dodds and Peter Robinson) and unionist paramilitaries is re-emerging to ensure that the Order is permitted to trample over the rights of the people in Ardoyne.

“Although the Parades Commission only imposed minimal restrictions on the Orange Order’s march past Ardoyne, any move by the Commission to make further concessions to the Order at the behest of this unholy alliance will be viewed by many as cave-in to the bully-boys and cudgel carriers.”

Mac Coitir continued, “Indeed, any further concessions by the Parades Commission to demands by this unionist triumvirate in respect of Ardoyne would be viewed by nationalist opinion across the Six Counties as the equivalent of similar u-turns which occurred in relation to the Garvaghy Road in Portadown and Ormeau Road in Belfast during the 1990s in the face of similar threats at that time made by Orangemen, unionist politicians and paramilitaries.

“It is also noticeable that there has been a complete failure by the British government and its agencies, including the Parades Commission, to treat sectarianism and sectarian parades in the same manner as racism and racist assemblies have been treated elsewhere within the British jurisdiction. Indeed, one has only to look at examples of where complete bans have been placed on racist and neo-fascist assemblies in various towns and cities in England as evidence of such disparity.”

The éirígí representative also pointed out that, “It is very striking that, last year, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities found that the British government’s approach of treating sectarianism in the Six Counties as a distinct issue rather than as a form of racism to be problematic, as it allows sectarianism to fall outside the scope of accepted anti-discrimination and human rights protection standards.

“Were a proper approach to be taken against sectarianism, then far greater protection would be afforded to communities in Ardoyne, Newry, Crumlin, Rasharkin and many other areas affected by these annual coat-trailing rituals.”

Britain taking steps to repudiate justice

Legislation currently going through Westminster will have a major adverse impact upon civil and human rights’ protection in the Six Counties. The British House of Lords this week begins its consideration of the controversial Justice and Security Bill (not to be confused with the already existing Justice and Security Act 2007).

If passed into law, the bill will introduce what are known as ‘closed material proceedings’ (CMPs) which will allow the British government to present secret evidence to a judge without having to disclose it to the rest of the court or, indeed, to a defendant in a trial, or a claimant in a civil case.

Being able to present secret evidence to a judge in any legal case without the other side having the chance to refute it or to even know what it is obviously gives the British Government a huge and unfair advantage in legal proceedings and has the very real potential to present a very one-sided or misleading version of events.

The bill also proposes to extend the draconian secret evidence mechanism to encompass ordinary civil law cases, including employment tribunals.

The draft legislation proposes that the law should be changed so that where a minister decides that certain material, if openly disclosed, would cause damage to the interests of ‘British national security’, that minister can trigger the use of CMP. This means the material will not be disclosed to the other side, yet the British government will be allowed to put the material before a judge and rely on it in defending or pursuing any action through the courts.

If CMPs are implemented, the wide definition of ‘sensitive information’ and ‘British national security interests’ will effectively lead to many controversial cases in the Six Counties being held behind closed doors.

The leading independent human rights’ organisation in the Six Counties, the Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ) has already publicly warned of the consequences of the use of these ‘closed material proceedings’.

The CAJ has openly signalled that these secret courts could be used by the British state to thwart any effective investigations into murders which involved either members of the British forces or British agents. Civil actions for damages relating to miscarriages of justice, ill-treatment, unlawful state murders, and failures by the British state to take reasonable steps to protect life are all likely to fall under the remit of these CMPs.

éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “This new legislation is clearly aimed at strengthening the existing draconian apparatus which the British state and its various agencies already have access to.

“At a time when MI5 is playing an increased sinister role in the Six Counties, and both it and MI6 are targeting Islamic and black communities in Britain, this legislation undoubtedly will be used against all those deemed to be ‘enemies of the state’.

“What is particularly noticeable, however, is the muted response to this legislation from constitutional nationalist politicians in the Six Counties. Having previously signed up to a policing regime which incorporated a formal role for MI5 in Ireland, those parties’ silence on this latest erosion of civil and human rights is not at all surprising.”

“Once this legislation is enacted, these secret procedures will create processes that may look and sound like a trial or an inquest but in fact will be nothing of the sort. The core element of justice will be noticeably absent.

"Cases such as those relating to the infamous shoot-to-kill policy, collusion and even those like the Ballymurphy Massacre could all fall under the remit of this legislation.”

Martin Corey case is confirmation of a selective internment policy

Martin Corey
The actions of British NIO minister Owen Paterson, in over-ruling a court’s direction to release Lurgan republican Martin Corey, clearly demonstrates where the real power lies in the Six counties, according to Breandán Mac Cionnaith, the general secretary of the socialist republican party éirígí.

Mac Cionnaith’s comments follow the re-arrest of Martin Corey yesterday evening (July 9), only hours after a court had directed that he should be released unconditionally on bail. Corey has already been imprisoned for over two years without any charges ever being made against him. His previous arrest in 2010 was also ordered by NIO minister Paterson.

Mac Cionnaith said, “The usurping by Owen Paterson of the court’s ruling that Martin Corey should be immediately released is clear confirmation that a British government policy of selective internment without trial is operating within the Six Counties.

“Paterson’s unprecedented intervention, and his ordering of Martin’s re-arrest, is evidence that the so-called policing and justice reforms endorsed by the constitutional nationalist parties at Stormont are nothing more than a piece of political deception of the worst kind.

“Paterson’s actions also demonstrate that the British government remains the real power in the Six Counties and that the role of Stormont politicians is confined only to providing a facade of cosmetic cover to that reality.

“As a party, éirígí is calling for the immediate release of Martin Corey. His case, like that of Marian Price, should be of major concern to all those who value civil liberties and human rights.”

Monday, 9 July 2012

If you care, you’ll be there!

Below is a statement from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) regarding the upcoming 12th July Orange Order parade

GARC is a non party-political residents’ group that is there to serve and give a voice to all the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales, in terms of opposing unwanted bigoted parades through our community by Loyal Orders. GARC is committed to peaceful, radical action in order to bring an end to triumphalist parades that are open manifestations of sectarianism and that result in massive disruption to the lives of people in this community, the militarization of our community and the criminalisation of our community.

This 12th July once again the Greater Ardoyne community faces the reality of two unwanted sectarian marches by the Orange Order being granted permission to take place through our area by the Parades Commission and facilitated by the PSNI. This is despite the fact that the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales have consistently voiced their legitimate opposition to such marches. The whole ethos of the Loyal Orders is one of Protestant supremacy over the Catholic, Nationalist and Republican people, and they see these marches as the best way in which to assert that supposed supremacy over the Ardoyne Community. All such expressions of naked sectarianism are totally unacceptable to the vast majority of residents within our community and will remain so until all Loyal Order marches are banned from taking place through Ardoyne.

Over the past number of months GARC representatives met with the Alderdice Commission on two separate occasions, and also made a submission to the Parades Commission regarding the upcoming 12th July Orange Order marches. At each of these engagements GARC voiced the opinion of the vast majority of the people of Ardoyne – that Loyal Order parades are unacceptable. GARC articulated how the Orange Order march on the 12th July affects the day today lives of Ardoyne residents in terms of freedom of movement due to policing operations, their right to live free from sectarianism, the restriction of use of local shops and amenities. We also presented written evidence from a number of youth providers within the area regarding the increase in young people being put through the Criminal Justice System as a result of provocation caused by sectarian marches.

We also presented them with information around the alternative route that would take Loyal Orders away from the Greater Ardoyne Community and the comparison in cost between any necessary upgrades of roads on that route and the budget for the policing operation to force marches through.

In addition we highlighted the historical violent consequences of Loyal Order marches through Ardoyne and the unacceptable negative impact that such actions have on our people, all of which could be avoided by banning the Loyal Order marches. One of the most salient points of our submission was the fact that the Parades Commission are failing to follow their own guidelines for making determinations by failing to take into account breaches of their determinations in previous years and the impact that sectarian parades have on local residents’ day to day lives, and the frustration that this causes for the people of Ardoyne, Mountainview and The Dales.

However despite submissions by GARC, other Residents and Political Representatives of the area the Parades Commission has still granted the Orange Order permission to trample over the people of this area yet again.

With experience of the Parades Commissions previous determinations and disregard for the rights of Ardoyne Residents, GARC had anticipated such a decision and had applied for a parade of our own prior to the Orange Order march where people from this area could demand an end to unwanted sectarian Loyal Order parades through our area - a constructive peaceful parade that would demonstrate to the wider public the strength of opposition within the area. This decision was taken following a highly successful parade last year that was attended by almost a thousand people. This year’s parade, like last years, is not a contentious parade as it is not entering any Loyalist or Unionist area, it is the people of Ardoyne walking in their own area. The dispersal point of our parade was also consciously chosen to be within the area yet away from the flashpoint where the Orange march passes, in order to draw young people away from conflict.

However the Parades Commission has ruled that instead of taking place prior to the Orange Order march, our parade must take place afterwards. History shows us that the Orange Order march passing results in violence, violence that GARC is opposed to and has consistently stated that is totally unacceptable and only serves to take the onus of responsibility away from Loyal Orders. This being the case we view with cynicism the Parades Commission’s determination to grant us permission to access the Crumlin and Ardoyne Roads. Should trouble break out prior to our parade setting off, it will be the senior PSNI officer in charge on the day who determines our route. What the Parades Commission have done is ban our parade “by proxy”, granting permission but setting in motion a train of events that they hope will ensure it is unable to take place on the day.

They will fail. GARC remains determined to demonstrate through our peaceful protest parade and strength of numbers that the people of Ardoyne refuse to be subjected to the repeated denial of our rights to live free from sectarian harassment and intimidation that Loyal Order marches through our community causes. Let us see if the PSNI will protect Ardoyne Residents in their own area from Loyalists with the same ruthlessness that they force Orange marches through our area. We are asking that Ardoyne Residents and all others who support the Human Rights of our community to assemble at the bottom of Ardoyne Avenue at 5pm on Thursday the 12th of July. We cannot stress enough that we only wish people to take part in our parade who are going to act peacefully, with dignity and in a manner that respects the people of Ardoyne. If you care, you’ll be there!

Anyone who has aspirations of violence on the day is not welcome and we would ask that you stay away, and that the people of Ardoyne are allowed to live in peace. We wish to see people taking part in our parade who represent all that is good about our community – inner strength, dignity, co-operation, respect, determination and resistance. The people of Ardoyne do not want violence and GARC want to yet again re-emphasise that point. Violence only serves the interests of those who demand sectarian marches through our area, causes undue suffering to the people of Ardoyne and criminalises our community.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Criticism of Stormont will not be tolerated

The house on the hill
Many will no doubt be accustomed to the ongoing battle being waged by parties within the Stormont Executive to stamp out dissent and criticism from republican quarters.

Indeed, most observers will be all too familiar with the Stormont parties’ attacks on political opposition to the Executive’s role in the maintenance of partition and union with Britain, its role in maintaining injustices against Irish citizens, and its implementation of right-wing economic policies.

However, an increasing and disturbing trend is emerging whereby any form of criticism of, or dissent from, the Stormont narrative is now coming under attack.

Those at the receiving end of this wider Stormont offensive are not republicans, no matter how far one might stretch one's imagination.

The most recent salvo fired in this offensive against the not-so-usual suspects came from none other than Stormont’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness.

A judgment from a Fair Employment Tribunal hearing in June found that his party colleague, Conor Murphy, had discriminated against a protestant job applicant while Murphy was minister of regional development.

In a BBC interview shortly after the tribunal’s findings, McGuinness attempted to place the Stormont Executive above and beyond the reach of established equality and fair employment legislation by stating, “What this calls into question, in this particular case, is whether or not a minister has a right to make a ministerial appointment or are ministerial appointments going to be dictated by a body which, effectively, is not part of the government?”

A strange question for him to pose. After all, this was the same equality and fair employment legislation that McGuinness’ party had once advocated and had also enlisted the support of Irish-America to reinforce through the adoption of the MacBride principles.

Earlier this year, in February, SDLP environment minister Alex Attwood announced the go-ahead for construction of a £100 million privately-owned golf resort a mile away from the entrance to the Giant’s Causeway world heritage site.

Friends of the Earth warned that building a golf course within sight of the UNESCO-recognised Giant’s Causeway site on the North Antrim coast would be akin to constructing a drive-through burger bar near the Taj Mahal.

The National Trust publicly opposed those plans and initiated a legal challenge against the proposal. UNESCO itself has asked for project to be stopped.

The DUP sent out their attack terrier in the form of DUP MP Ian Paisley Junior, who bluntly stated: “Thanks National Trust, at a time of economic depression, you put the two fingers up to everyone in Northern Ireland and say you’re going to try to hurt rather than help the economy. You are a disgrace to Northern Ireland.”

Paisley’s party colleague, Stormont minister Arlene Foster, said she and her executive colleagues from all parties were “highly disappointed” by the legal challenge.

There is no record of any of the other Stormont parties expressing disagreement with either Paisley’s or Foster’s views.

It then emerged in June that the same DUP minister, Arlene Foster, had previously attacked the Co-operative Group over the showing of a documentary opposing fracking. Fracking is the controversial method of extracting gas from shale rock. Critics of fracking state that the controversial method of gas extraction can pollute water and cause minor earthquakes.

Foster, Robinson and McGuinness

Foster claimed the film, Gasland, was biased, and said the Co-op’s decision to sponsor the screening was misplaced.

The Co-op rejected her criticism. In its response, Co-op regional secretary Gerard Hill told the minister: “The Co-operative is campaigning for a moratorium on the exploration of shale gas, at least until all the risks and impacts are properly identified and addressed. The event comprises a screening of Gasland followed by an open discussion on what shale gas development might mean.”

Obviously, Foster is adverse to ‘open discussion’ or debate on a subject which has widespread implications for thousands of families in Fermanagh and adjacent counties. Once again, there was silence from her ministerial colleagues in Stormont’s Executive.

And, of course, there is the ongoing saga of the Stormont parties’ collective campaign aimed at lowering corporation in the Six Counties while they simultaneously and hypocritically penalise the poor and less well off in society.

At a time when families, the young, the old, the ill, the low-paid and the unemployed are all facing cut-backs as a result of Stormont’s cuts in public expenditure, all parties in the Executive are united in their attempts to secure even greater tax breaks for those large companies, banks and financial institutions that can well afford to pay increased tax rates.

Disagreeing with this policy, however, also means incurring Stormont’s displeasure.

Opposition by many community and voluntary sector organisations to cuts in social welfare benefits were met with a warning from Stormont finance minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson.

“We need to ensure that we do not create unnecessary alarm,” he said.

It might have escaped the attention of Wilson and his other colleagues from all parties within the Stormont Executive that alarm already exists throughout communities and within families in every one of the Six Counties. There is real and genuine concern about the impact all these cut-backs will have.

Alarm also exists within Stormont, but for different reasons.

At the last election, the five parties which make up the Stormont executive polled a total of 608,350 votes out of a possible electorate of 1,210,009. That means just over 50.2% of all those eligible to vote actually cast their ballots for those parties.

As disillusionment and despair increases within working class communities at the failure of the Stormont executive to effect real political, social or economic change, the Stormont parties are keenly aware that, before long, they could well become a minority government in the truest sense of the word.

That is why any and all criticism, from whatever quarter, is collectively viewed by all of Stormont’s parties as not being beneficial to their political project.

And therein lies the real challenge for Socialist Republicans and for all other progressives.

It is the challenge to harness that growing disillusionment, to reverse that sense of impotency among our communities in order to genuinely give them a real sense of empowerment, and to build a real and effective alternative to Britain’s neo-colonial Stormont project – a project which, in most people's daily experiences, is fast becoming a failure.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Orange Order’s sinister ploy hidden behind the charm

éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith gives his view of the Orange Order’s recent visit to Dublin.

This week saw the latest charm offensive launched by the Orange Order.

It remains to be seen if this latest PR mission will end up in a mess similar to the annual Orangefest and blue-bag display or even that which surrounded by Orange Order’s plagiarism of a well-known cartoon character back in 2008 in a previous PR failure. The latter was quietly dropped by the Order, unlike their contentious parades.

On Tuesday of this week, Drew Nelson, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, addressed members of the 26-County Seanad in Dublin.

As expected, Nelson’s speech glossed over the inherent sectarian nature of the organisation and its role in fomenting sectarian violence, murder, intimidation and division or in advocating and implementing religious and political discrimination during the two centuries-old history of the Order.

Anyone naive enough to have expected that Nelson was prepared to don the sackcloth and ashes would have been sorely disappointed.

Nelson used the occasion to point the finger of blame for the Orange Order’s woes at others, namely various British military and political figures who, at different times, “used” the Order. He conveniently forgot to mention the evidence which shows that the Order very actively lobbied those same military and political figures urging them to make “use” of those loyal subjects within the Order’s ranks.

Unsurprisingly, according to Nelson, contention over Orange parades was a dastardly plot thought up in the late 1980s by republicans to discredit the Order. Once again, Nelson chose to ignore demonstrable historical evidence, including several damning inquiries by his beloved Westminster parliament into the activities of the Orange Order.

He also forgot to mention a legal case taken by former British NIO minister, Adam Ingram, against George Galloway in 2004. Ingram, a member of the Orange Order in his youth, had objected to a passage in Galloway’s book, entitled I’m Not The Only One, which described the former Stormont minister as, in his youth, playing the flute in a “sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist Orange Order band”.

But the Court of Session in Edinburgh rejected the motion for an injunction which would have halted publication of the book. A judge at the Court of Session ruled that the adjectives applied by Mr Galloway, such as “anti-Catholic” and “protestant-supremacist”, were fair comment.

Nelson also urged the Twenty-Six County state to consider re-joining the British Commonwealth – music, no doubt, to ears of some among his audience.

And, of course, there was his appeal to have an Orange parade facilitated though Dublin city streets.

Ormeau blockade

This was the clever and sinister ploy hidden behind the smokescreen of charm.

Nelson knows that were such a parade through a commercial part of Dublin city centre to be successfully held, then the Order would openly demand that Twenty-Six County politicians use their influence to neutralise opposition to sectarian parades in the Six Counties, much in the same way that the so-called “Derry model” was once used by some to try and facilitate Orange marches through other nationalist communities in Belfast, Portadown and elsewhere.

A march though a commercial area of any city is not comparable to one which deliberately and provocatively goes through a working-class nationalist residential area while ignoring other less contentious and non-controversial alternative routes.

It would be both foolhardy and wrong for anyone to suggest otherwise.

But that is exactly the outcome the Order hopes will eventually emerge from their Dublin visit.

Now that the Orange Order’s voice has been heard within the Seanad, the onus is clearly on those who invited Drew Nelson and his colleagues to ensure those who are most affected by the Orange Order’s annual “cultural expressions” also have their voices heard within those same confines.

Nelson’s audience in the Seanad may wish to consider comments, also made this week, by the Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, convenor of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council. She had responded on Scottish Television to a public attack by the Orange Order upon that Church’s decision to maintain a neutral stance on the forthcoming referendum there.

Foster-Fulton stated: “The Orange Order has shown itself again and again to be out of date and out of time. The Church of Scotland is proud of what our faith has given and continues to give our nation. 21st Century Scotland is a multi-cultural nation where faith, faithfulness and belief takes many forms. By celebrating difference we show confidence in who we are. It is those who demand that their voice be heard above others who have lost the moral high ground.

“Our concern in the referendum debate is to argue, whatever the outcome, for fairness in our economic system, support for the silenced and the dispossessed, care for creation, rehabilitation in our justice system and other core values of our faith. Our role in the referendum debate will be active and will be clear. We shall provide spaces where people of differing views can listen to each other in respect and in dignity. We shall support real dialogue between all the people who make up this nation as it is they, and not one institution or organisation, who shall determine our nation’s future.”

That alternative view of the Orange Order is one which those within Leinster House would do well to promote rather than engage in PR makeovers for an organisation not only discredited in Ireland but in Scotland as well.


Thursday, 5 July 2012




Last week, Martin Mc Guinness met with the British Queen in Belfast. That “gesture” was not the result of full consultation or open debate in the party as claimed by leadership.

Pearce Doherty, TD , previously articulated Sinn Féin’s position regarding such visits by British royalty to Ireland, particularly one by the Commander in Chief of Britain’s armed forces - until such times when there would be a complete withdrawal of the British political and military presence from Ireland, and truth and justice given to victims of collusion, no welcome should be accorded to British royalty or any officer of Britain’s forces.

Last year, republicans correctly decided not to greet Britain’s head of state or acknowledge her claim of sovereignty over part of our country.

On 10th June this year, Caral Ní Chuilin denied that Sinn Fein would attend the jubilee celebrations. On 11th June, Martin Mc Guinness said a meeting would be a huge ask but there was “no doable” proposition for this. All this information came to party members via the media.

I was confident that no meeting with the Queen would occur as no open debate was taking place within the party.

On 21st June, a text message informed me of a meeting for Belfast and Lisburn councillors in the City Hall for a ‘briefing’. I instinctively knew it related to the visit. Past experience with these types of briefings indicated a deal was already done.

That morning, one of my colleagues arrived and I asked what information he had. I expressed my opposition to meeting with British royalty. I decided not to attend the briefing but, over the next two days, consistently voiced my opposition to any such meeting to party colleagues. On the second day, while in a party office, the media confirmed Martin Mc Guinness would meet the Queen.

On June 23rd, I attended a non-party political protest in Belfast addressed by families of victims of British State violence. Standing in solidarity with them, their pain and suffering was very tangible.

Eamon Cairns, speaking of the murder of his two sons, Gerard and Rory, in their family home, finished with this very poignant sentence: “It makes it very difficult for me to see how Martin Mc Guinness can go behind doors and shake the hand dripping with the blood of my children”.

His words reflected the views of many both inside and outside Sinn Féin.
I have always been able to hold my head up as a Republican. I have met and maintained contact with many relatives of dead volunteers and those murdered through collusion and British state violence.

I could not set all those to one side through acceptance of the party leadership’s most recent ‘symbolic’ ‘significant gesture’.

I joined the Republican Movement in 1970. The objective of a 32 County Socialist Republic was the basis on which our struggle was built. Many people dedicated their lives to securing that objective. Many others died for it.

Many people influenced my thinking over the years, a lot of them strong principled republicans, many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs.

I acknowledge that many people, including many innocents, lost their lives. War is a terrible thing and many families are today without their loved ones. Irrespective of whether they are from Derry, Ballymurphy or Kingsmill; their grief is the same.

I am not opposed to peace or Unionist outreach. I’m involved in a project to enhance “cross community engagement” to reduce sectarianism. That project’s work was recognised at The Aisling Awards in 2011 when it received the award for “Outstanding Community Endeavour”.

I make no apologies for being a Republican.
As Republicans, we oppose monarchy in all its forms.

As Republicans, we have no need to meet a British monarch, the Commander-in-Chief of Britain’s armed forces, while our country remains partitioned and many people are denied truth or justice about the deaths of their relatives by that same monarch’s government responsible for those murders.

Reluctantly, I have no option but to resign from Sinn Fein, a party I first joined 42 years ago.

I will remain as an Independent Councillor and continue to represent my community as I have done for the past seven years. I wish to reassure those people who elected me that I will represent their interests and will endeavour to carry out my duties to all my constituents to the best of my ability.

My contact details can be accessed through Lisburn City Council.

Le meas,
Cllr Angela Nelson