Archive for the ‘Irish’ Category

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2015 ANTI INTERNMENT LEAGUE MARCH

The 2015 Anti Internment League’s (AIL) march against internment, took place in north Belfast at 2:30 pm on Sunday 9 August to oppose “the unjust imprisonment of Republicans via internment by remand, revocation of license and miscarriage of justice to stand as one in opposition to this British policy in Ireland”.

This year’s march only managed to travel 500 metres from Ardoyne Avenue to the junction of Old Park Road and Rosapenna Street. It was at this point that it was stopped by a cordon of PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland), in space-age riot gear, armed with shields, batons and guns standing between a line of heavily fortified land rovers. This line was backed up by several other PSNI land rovers to the rear and at least one water canon truck.

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This years march highlights again that a two tier system of policing and justice may well be in place in the north of Ireland.

This AIL parade was to be the only republican parade of the year to march through Belfast yet it was still refused full permission by the Parades Commission (PC). Each year and several times per year, Orange Order (OO) parades march through the city centre while violating the PC conditions they march under – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYMZlkhRllU – and in a sectarian manner.

Furthermore, as witnessed at the recent 12th July march in Ardoyne, a member of the OO attempted to murder his republican neighbours by driving a car into a crowd of on-lookers. He injured two, hospitalizing a teenage girl in the process. He was released on bail shortly after being arrested – http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/bail-for-orangeman-charged-with-attempted-murder-1.2285843 . Contrast that with the imprisonment of Irish Republicans, for months and sometimes years on end, with no court appearance and based simply on the word of a police officer. This is a mere snapshot of how justice and policing is administered in the north of Ireland.

The Parades Commission (PC) ruling that this march would be blocked unless it was in and out of Belfast city centre by 1:30pm was an impossible task. Especially when organisers had already decided to begin at 2:30pm. Hence the march was blocked.

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So why not just march at 1:30? The march would have gone ahead, with full PSNI protection, and for the second year in a row Republicans would have marched through Belfast city centre. This would have demonstrated that momentum was gathering. The parade goes through again next year and the year after that and could eventually lead to the loyalist community respecting the right of Republicans and Catholics to march in their own city.

But march organisers claim they had already accommodated the PC by moving from a busy shopping Saturday to a quieter Sunday. They also moved the time of their march to 2:30 to accommodate the Ballymurphy Massacre march taking place in Belfast that day. Republicans may indeed argue that the need for this parade is based on the fact that they move too much. Therefore asking the PC to accommodate their 2:30 start would not be unreasonable.

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As this journalist witnessed, this march was a peaceful march. Furthermore the marchers have no history of violence on such marches and it was billed as a ‘human rights march’ by organisers. In fact, on more than one occasion, the marchers have been subject to attack and abuse from British loyalist groups who have targeted the march in the past.

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PRESENT DAY INTERNMENT

The AIL believe that since internment was first officially introduced in Ireland in 1971, that it has never been fully revoked. While internment in Ireland today may not be as brutal or obvious as it was in the 1970s, like the ‘The Hooded Men’ – http://www.museumoffreederry.org/history-internment01.html – they claim it still exists through use of remand, revocation of license and miscarriage of justice.

The AIL are Irish Republicans who oppose the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), follow on agreements to the GFA and the British presence in Ireland. Internment was officially reintroduced by the British in August 1971 in Ireland, to arrest and imprison without trial anyone they believed to be in the IRA. Very few of those arrested were members of the IRA yet the practice served to increase their popularity.

Remand

Today, the AIL believe, that both the British and Irish administrations in Ireland are implementing internment by remanding Republican activists in prison on spurious charges. Republicans are then later freed, without any charge, but with severe limitations and restrictions placed on their freedom. These restrictions such as prohibiting them from speaking to the media or expressing their opinions publicly.

Republican activists believe the intention is to remove them from the political sphere and to weaken republican activism and protest against the Good Friday Agreement and British institutions in the north of Ireland.

Stephen Murney and Dee Fennell are recent examples but the list is much longer.

License

Additionally, Republicans have been interned through the revocation of their license, which granted their release from prison under the Good Friday Agreement. Revocation of this license returns them to prison. One such case was that of Marian Price, even though she had never been released on license but on royal pardon.

Martin Corey – https://rsfnational.wordpress.com/political-prisoners/martin-corey/ is another such example.

It is on this basis that Irish republicans march against what they perceive as internment. They do so as close to 9 August as possible, to commemorate the date the British Government reintroduced internment without trial in Ireland in 1971.

Miscarriage of Justice

One further and arguably more sinister way in which internment is implemented, according to those in the AIL, is through miscarriages of justice. The most publicized of these cases is that of Brendan Mc Conville and John Paul Wootton – The Craigavon Two – http://justiceforthecraigavontwo.com.

Jailed for the killing of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in March 2009, campaigners believe the evidence against them is flimsy and their imprisonment unjust. And despite the continued concerns about the conviction of the Craigavon Two – http://www.irishnews.com/news/2015/08/10/news/fresh-concerns-raised-over-carroll-case-221344/ – they remain on the inside.

These are the main reasons the AIL believe internment is still being used as a tool by the British authorities in Ireland against those who oppose their presence in Ireland.

Recent Marches

These points were raised again at this years march as they had been at previous marches. In recent years, the 2013 AIL march was marred by British loyalist violence and was re-routed as a result.

The 2014 rally was relatively peaceful yet it was still attacked by British loyalist protestors as it passed through Royal Avenue in Belfast city centre. The PSNI, again in full riot gear, stood and watched Republican marchers while standing with their backs to the loyalist mob on Royal Avenue, that threw missiles, bangers and other projectiles at the marchers.

The PSNI made no attempt to tackle loyalist protestors or prevent them from attacking the passing republican parade. Again a two-tier approach in operation.

When this years march was blocked by Robocop styled PSNI riot squad there were already countless PSNI land rovers policing the area before, during and surprisingly afterwards. What was also surprising was the shut down of Belfast city centre. As my taxi driver said “it’s like the 70s in the city centre”.

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Notwithstanding the heavy and semi militarized police presence the parade was peaceful. Organisers had called for this beforehand and had asked those with non-peaceful intentions to stay well away. Organisers even removed one of the marchers, holding the Irish tricolor, from the bonnet of a PSNI land rover at the police cordon.

Once at the police cordon, the announcement came over the loudspeakers, as was posted on police signage, that the march could proceed no further. This met with chants and boos from the crowd but this was to be the height of the disturbances.

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Shortly afterwards speeches were made by one of the organisers and a Donegal Councillor, Micheal Colm Mac Giolla Easbuig, from the Gaeltacht region in Donegal. Immediately after these speeches one of the organisers announced that this was the end of the march and they would now be dispersing. He asked that everybody do so peacefully. Everybody followed suit.

Shortly afterwards I noticed, as I conducted my final interview after the march, that an eerie silence descended as all participants had dispersed. We were one of the last people left in the area. After this interview we went on our way and walked for about 10-15 minutes before getting into a car to leave the area. We drove around for some time, as most roads were blocked with traffic leaving the area, so we had to return to Old Park Road to get to the Falls Road, where I had parked my car.

It was now at least one hour after the march had ended and some time since everybody had left the Old Park Road/Rosapenna Street junction. It is therefore surprising that the police were still in the area. The bands and marchers had long since dispersed so their presence was no longer required. Why did the police remain there for so long after the march had ended and people had dispersed? Why were they still so heavily armed? Did this in any way contribute to provoking a response from local youths?

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When I returned to the Old Park Road area at that time I witnessed some stone and missile throwing at the police. But by Belfast standards it was hardly noteworthy. What was noteworthy was the heavy police presence, the armory that they carried and the deployment of a water cannon truck. I could see little justification for such a presence, particularly as everybody had left at that time.

Contrast that scene, with the scene 5 minutes, at the Twaddle interface. A mere handful of police stood in front of a loyalist mob that had gathered there. However, Police land rovers swooped into the Twaddell area as they noticed that the marchers were heading for the shops opposite Twaddell. The are they were heading to is a predominantly republican area. Land rovers swooped in to prevent marchers marching in their own area and on their own streets and little or no police presence to block loyalists. Again two tier.

Despite the peaceful nature of the march this is how one Dublin media outlet reported on it. ‪http://www.thejournal.ie/belfast-parade-water-cannon…/… A similar approach was taken by outlets north and south of the border – http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/police-stop-antiinternment-parade-31438007.html

It needs to be remembered that roughly 60% of all parades held in the north of Ireland are OO or OO related. The vast majority of these are contentious yet still they march through city centres and through catholic and republican neighbourhoods. Little is done about their PC breaches – https://www.paradescommission.org/getmedia/46c7e2b9-5235-46ff-8ef5-6b176f2088ef/NorthernIrelandParadesCommission.aspx and flash points such as Drumcree and Twaddell are still tolerated by the authorities.

Everybody has a right to march through their own city centre and through their own neighbourhoods. As I witnessed at yesterday’s Anti-Internment march, the police presence at that time was unwarranted and could have been provocative. A pregnant woman was manhandled in the most brutal fashion into the back of a police land rover and the city was put into a military styled shut down.

While not as brutal as in the past, it would appear as if a two tier police and justice system – one rule for Irish Republicans and another, much more lenient one, for the pro British community – is in force today in the north of Ireland. And this time it has the approval of certain Republican parties.

The traditional image of an Au Pair in Ireland was a 19 year old French girl who came here to learn English. She would live with an Irish family, for about six months, and everybody would get along famously. It was ideal.

That ideal is in ruin and has been replaced by an exploitative reality. As demonstrated by the recent Mohammed Younis case, the Irish system appears reluctant to protect the vulnerable.

Childcare costs in Ireland are the highest in the EU and account for 35% of the average family income compared to an EU average of 12%, according to the OECD. Families are facing economic difficulties they never faced before. They simply cannot afford the cost of €3,000 per month (for three young children) for professional childcare.

Families therefore need a cheaper alternative and, at around €600 per month, the traditional yet unprofessional Au Pair is making childcare affordable for a number of Irish households. The traditional Au Pair is being exploited. Exploited in the family home and the Government is doing little about it.

The profile of the Au Pair changed from being almost exclusively European teenagers to include young women in their mid-20s from Latin America.

Their treatment was written about as far away as Venezuela, in the on-line journal El Universal. That journal documented the negative experience of one Venezuelan Au Pair, whom this Journalist spoke to. The Philippine Government even took the extraordinary step of banning their citizens from taking such jobs in Ireland and the EU for a period of 15 years.

Failings of the system

It is estimated by the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI) that up to 10,000 people work in the home in Ireland, yet it is not exactly known how many work as Au Pairs. One of the reasons it is not known is that legally, Au Pairs do not exist and there is no register. They do not exist and they therefore do not have any legal protection.

However, Citizens Information define an Au Pair as, “…a young person who is treated as a family member in exchange for certain services…it is a voluntary arrangement between a private household and a private individual”. Au Pairs are not employees, or ‘Domestic Workers’, and should not be treated as one.

However, they point out that simply “…using the term ‘Au Pair’ does not mean an employment contract does not exist”. Using the term ‘Au Pair’ does not exempt a family from legislation or employers’ duties nor does it allow them to use an Au Pair to do the job of a Domestic Worker. A Domestic Worker is employed to carry out various duties in the home and, unlike Au Pairs, they have full legal protection.

Calling someone an Au Pair while using them as a Domestic Worker, is exploitation. According to my investigation, highlighted in the following two case-studies, exploitation is widespread in Irish family homes.

Case Study One (face to face interview)

Angela (not her real name) from Brazil, worked as an au pair in Cavan town from 7:30am to 10:30pm, four days per week, and minded three children. In addition to her bed and board she was paid a mere €120 per week. She had no written contract.

To complicate matters, one of the children required medical attention three times a day and Angela did not have any medical expertise. The mother worked as a nurse yet played little part in raising the children. Angela did everything from playing with the children, watching movies with them and making dinner for the whole family four days a week.

Even when Angela finished work she would still continue working in her free time. She also washed the clothes of the family, including their underwear. She was there to be au pair and to improve her English, yet she ended up cooking and cleaning, looking after the children full time and doing extra babysitting hours which she did not get paid for. She was effectively a Domestic Worker. She was exploited. 

Case Study Two (face to face interview)

Maya – Venezuala (not her real name) came to Dublin in June 2014. She was told that she would just look after children and that she would get €150 per week for 45 hours work. The previous au pair had been paid €200 per week. There were three children.

On holiday in Bulgaria, Maya looked after the children at all times and when they returned to Ireland matters got worse. She needed to return to school to fulfil her visa requirements, however, her family told her she could not as she had to work full time.

Maya had to clean and vacuum the entire three storey house and iron everybody’s clothes.

On one occasion she was told to bring the child into the city centre for the day. She was given €5 to cover all costs so she was out of pocket and not reimbursed by the family.

She experienced psychological abuse by the mother as she told her off about coming home late and often asked “why are you moody today?”. Maya felt she was getting into her head.

The mother used scare tactics when Maya asked for a contract and a pay increase. She said it would mean more tax and she was warned never to tell anybody she worked for them.

In November 2014, Maya felt she could not continue so she decided to leave. When she informed the mother of this she “went crazy” and attempted to make her feel guilty. Maya did not tell the mother the real reasons for her departure as she needed a reference. Finally the mother said “if you what to leave, you can go now”! Maya was forced to move out with immediate effect and nowhere to live.

The smallest child demanded a lot of attention and was aggressive, punching Maya on two different occasions. If the child woke up in the morning it was Maya, not the parents, who went to her. The final straw for Maya was when the 13 year old daughter told Maya that she had to leave as “my mother doesn’t care about you”.

Maya and Angela’s cases were typical of a number of Au Pair stories I heard. 

Best International Practice

Swiss and German systems, are seen as the benchmark of good international practice in the Au Pair industry. This is how they compare to the Irish system.

Germany

  • 4 paid weeks holidays per year.
  • Families expected to contribute towards the Au Pair’s German language course.

Switzerland

  • Treated as a normal employee.
  • Au Pairs receive a written contract.
  • Once they pass their probationary period they cannot be dismissed without one month’s notice.
  • Families must contribute toward the social and health insurance of the Au Pair.
  • The Au Pair is also entitled to sick and unemployment benefit.

Ireland

As there is no legal definition there is no legal requirement. These are mere recommendations based on the requirements of the Irish National Au Pair Association (INAPA).

  • 2 weeks holiday per year.
  • No requirement that families pay for a language course.
  • Dismissed at a moment’s notice.

INAPA, who represent the Au Pair industry in Ireland, claim to be “continuously raising the standards for the Au Pair industry in Ireland”. They recommend a 35 hour working week, plus babysitting, for Au Pairs. They claim the Au Pair programme is culturally and linguistically based. The case studies would reject this.

INAPA make no commitment on sick pay and claim that being sick for more than four days could mean “…the Au Pair returns home and her allowance is suspended”. Their dismissal policy is ambiguous stating, “an Au Pair can be dismissed from her role with immediate effect if there is an allocation of abuse of the children in any way”. This policy goes on to state that, upon dismissal an Au Pair would receive, “…paid notice, but if there is inaccurate information provided on the application, this cannot be guaranteed”. INAPA were unresponsive to my many requests for clarification of this policy and other related queries.

Statistics

From talking to Au Pairs in Ireland, the MRCI and researching various Au Pair websites, I discovered that the average weekly pay for an au pair in Ireland ranges from €85 to €150. This is for a 30 to 35 hour working week. In addition, Au Pairs are asked to work at least two evenings (8 hours) babysitting. Babysitting is almost always unpaid.

Au Pairs get free bed and board. This is valued at €54.13 per week according to the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). This means that, on average, Au Pairs receive €139.13 per week, which equates to €3.24 per hour. This is much lower than the lowest possible minimum wage rate in Ireland of €6.92, which any employee in Ireland receives in their first year of employment after turning 18. This rate increases to €8.65 after two years in employment. I did not discover any increase in pay among the Au Pairs I interviewed.

Almost every Au Pair agency in Ireland, that this journalist investigated, could be seen to freely advertise ‘Au Pair Programmes’ as 35 hour working weeks plus additional babysitting hours. These were agencies affiliated to the INAPA. This is despite the European Committee for Au Pair Standards (ECAPS), a committee established in 2006 to define Au Pair standards in Europe, recommending a maximum 30 hour week which includes babysitting hours.

According to Eurostat, the average working week in Ireland is just over 38 hours. These workers are legally entitled to 4 weeks holidays per year and are fully protected by employment legislation. They work the same number of hours as Au Pairs yet they get twice the holidays and substantially greater pay.

Protection for Au Pairs and the role of NERA

NERA inspectors, appointed by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, carry out inspections of all workplaces to ensure compliance with employment related legislation. This includes workplaces in the family home. However, inspections are rare. Since 2011 they have just carried out 143 inspections in the home involving domestic work and have only recovered €6,800 in unpaid wages. In all of these cases the family were given prior notice of their arrival. In fact they only visit families who have already registered with Revenue. There was no evidence to sugest that they attempt to visit unregistered houreholds.

NERA did not comment on this nor why they have only followed up on wage payments and not on other contractual obligations of families using working people in their home.

None of the Au Pairs I spoke with are aware of the existence of NERA.

Political Parties

When this journalist contacted political parties there appeared to be no interest in the plight of Au Pairs. Political party concerns are on child protection and the economic needs of families, not on Au Pairs.

The Government responded by saying that, as there is no legal definition of an Au Pair there is nothing they can do. This is alarming and could lead to a repeat of the Mohammed Younis case. Mohammed was exploited by his employer and awarded €91,000 by a Rights Commissioner. Initially the High Court then ruled against this, in August 2012, as he was an undocumented worker so they held his contract could not be recognised. However, in the last week the Supreme Court upheld the original dceision. As a number of Au Pairs in Ireland are from outside the EU, the same fate could just as easily befall them.

Peadar Tóibín of Sinn Féin, Clare Daly and Roisín Shortall have all raised the matter of Au Pair exploitation in the Dáil, yet it has so far fallen on deaf ears and stimulates the standard “…there is no legal definition…” response.

Where to from here?

Au pair – meaning “at par” or “equal to”, indicating that the relationship is intended to be one of equals

If Au Pairs fail to be legally recognised or an effective inspection system implemented, exploitation will continue. In the meantime, NERA need to be pro-active in inspecting all houses that use home employees of any description, to differentiate between Domestic Workers and Au Pairs and take the necessary action. In the absence of such practice, the Au Pair will be anything but “at par”.

Internment

An anti-internment march, organised by the Anti-Internment League (labelled as ‘dissidents’), was held in Belfast city on Sunday 10 August 2014.

DISSIDENT a person who opposes official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state.

This march was not only organised to commemorate the introduction of internment in Ireland in the 1970s, it was organised to highlight the continued use of internment in 2014 and in an era of power-sharing between Irish republicans and British loyalists.The march was described as a “Human Rights parade to oppose the continued use of internment, by remand, miscarriage of justice and revocation of licences by the British Government and the 26 County Administration.”

What is the march about and why was it called?
Chairperson of the Anti-Internment League, Mr. Dee Fennell, explained it was about mobilising people “to oppose the continued use of internment by both the British Government here in the 6 counties [north of Ireland] and by the 26 county [south of Ireland] administration”.

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The same march was marred by violence as British loyalist protestors rioted to stop the march and, in particular, to stop it marching up Royal Avenue in the city centre in 2013. In rioting, British loyalists injured over 50 PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) and forced it to be re-routed. Many were expecting violence again this year.

What is Internment?
The Anti-Internment League believe internment takes three forms;

Internment by remand – whereby Irish republican activists are charged with secret evidence and removed from the streets and political causes they contribute to.
Internment through Revocation of Early Release License – the British Secretary of State, for the Six Counties, can return any early release prisoner to jail without a full and clear explanation.
Internment through Miscarriage of Justice – Irish republican activists that have been convicted in a Diplock court by secret and contaminated evidence and paid perjurers. In the 26 counties, the word of a Garda, above a certain rank, is enough to convict someone of membership of a “subversive” organisation.

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The detention of Marian Price and Martin Corey as well as the conviction of the Craigavon Two (Brendan Mc Conville and John Paul Wootton) are examples of modern day internment.

Alban Mc Guinness, of the SDLP, believes Martin Corey’s detention is “internment without trial” due to the lack of evidence and absence of due process.

Gerry Conlon of the Guilford Four, had been a tireless justice campaigner for the Craigavon Two as has Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six. Similarly the ‘Free Marian Price’ campaign had broad cross party and cross community support.

 

How does it happen?

Fennell believes people can be jailed purely based on their political beliefs. He feels “it is an injustice that any republican is currently imprisoned in the context of a continuing occupation of our country” Unfortunately, nobody knows why people have been jailed as little information is forthcoming from the PSNI or Gardaí (Police in southern Ireland). Those arrested and their families receive the bland explanation of ‘national security’.

As it is widely believed that internment has resulted from MI5 gathered secret intelligence, there is a great amount of mistrust amongst Republicans of the current power sharing executive and pressure is mounting on Sinn Fein (Sinn Fein are the largest single political party in the 6 counties, a partner in the government and the main Irish republican party).

Is it only Irish republicans who are being targeted?
“Basically, if you’re opposed to the state you’re at risk of being interned…internment has been there since the inception of the northern state, just the manner in which it’s being used has changed…” claims Mr. Fennell.

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Des Dalton, President of Republican Sinn Fein, believes internment is “…far from a matter of history”. One of Republican Sinn Fein’s members, Martin Corey, was held “…without charge for three years and then finally released and placed under a form of internal exile…where he was actually not even allowed return to his home town of Lurgan”.

Dalton believes it is evident that “…the British state are still maintaining…” the same methods used in the past. It is because of the continued use of these methods, he believes, that it is important to question “…this attempt to sell the big lie, that there is normalisation, that the 6 county state is a normal democratic state – that that lie is challenged”.

Until such time as such methods are ended, Dalton believes that we will not have normality nor the basis for a democratic and just peace and there can be no moving forward “…to any kind of a just and lasting settlement in Ireland…”

He believes there is a deliberate targeting of people, who served lengthy sentences in the past, to send a message to those now questioning the current process “…you open your mouth, you’re back to jail…” This attempt to silence and frighten people, Dalton believes “…has to be challenge, it has to be faced down”.

Parades Commission determination
The Parades Commission (PC), a public body responsible for placing restrictions on parades it deems contentious or offensive, gave the march permission to go from Ardoyne Avenue in north Belfast, up Royal Avenue in the city centre, to finish in Andersonstown in the west.

The PC also gave permission for two British loyalist counter demonstrations, who objected to this march being allowed through Belfast city centre. It was as a result of similar loyalist counter demonstrations that violence erupted at last year’s anti-internment march.

The two counter demonstrations requested permission for 1,100 people which the PC flatly rejected. Permission was eventually given for 400. Without notifying the PC, British loyalists also gathered at the bottom of the Shankill Road, approaching the city centre.

Expectations
Prior to the march, a number of Irish republican activists were expecting violence as they believed the main issue for loyalists was “…having Fenians [old name for Irish republicans] march through the city centre…” and making use of what is a shared space – the city centre. To add insult to last year’s injury, British loyalists still insist on marching through Irish neighbourhoods and singing sectarian songs outside their places of worship.

Local Republicans, in north and west Belfast, were expecting loyalist protestors to do all possible to prevent the march happening as per its plan. This was highlighted by the fact that the PSNI said they could not guarantee the safety of those taking part. A comment which, some believe, was intended to intimidate Republicans into staying at home.

The March into Belfast city centre
Despite loyalists attacking the march with missiles and minor explosive devices, taunting with sectarian slogans and singing and creating an intimidating atmosphere by blowing horns, the march went through the city centre as planned – one of the few Irish republicans marches to achieve this.

While march organisers asked their participants not to react to loyalists taunts, Republican marchers retaliated with taunts of their own. There was proactive waving of arms, hands and flags, countless vulgar gestures as well as a returning of the missiles thrown at them. Whilst leaving Royal Avenue, Irish republican marchers had to move at speed as some believed objects were being thrown from the roof of a nearby building at the marchers.

Clearly British loyalists came prepared with these small explosive devices and horns. This rubbishes any idea that they were provoked, as stated by their leaders on the day. Loyalists could be heard jeering and booing before Republicans even got onto Royal Avenue.

As Republican marchers entered Royal Avenue, the heart of their own city, British riot Police, in full riot gear, were already facing their shields and bodies towards the Irish Republican marchers, with their backs to the loyalists who were throwing missiles and yelling abuse.

The behaviour of the British loyalist, mob is in stark contrast to counter demonstrations held by Irish republicans during their marches. In fact a number of Irish republican counter demonstrations were called off.


Misinformed Comment
An ill informed quote in the following link, apparently from a Belfast city tour guide, is one of the many aspects this parade highlights and is fighting against. It highlights that internment is unfortunately not yet history. It highlights how quickly people wish to move on even though the past has not yet been dealt with. And it highlights people’s main concerns – an absence of business and profit.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/bemused-belfast-tourists-told-theyre-seeing-living-history-at-republican-antiinternment-parade-30497651.html

Furthermore the march highlights that not all is well in the 6 counties and no amount of wishing or talking it away will make it any different. What we witnessed on Sunday 11 August was 4,000 people, march through Belfast city centre to peacefully voice their opinions and discontent, despite British loyalist violence, taunts and abuse.

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Discontent also with the Sinn Fein leadership for having lead them into a power-sharing agreement that has, thus far, failed to deliver the United Ireland it promised and failed to unite the Irish and British communities in harmony. Both communities still live apart, know very little about each other and relations appear to be worsening.

Irish Republicans entered this process freely and after a 30 year conflict where, one of the world’s most fortified armies could not defeat them. An army once numbering as high as 27,000, that used 300,000 soldiers during the conflict as well as members of the SAS, to assassinate Irish republicans, and the undercover MRF, used to assassinate innocent Catholics with the intention of enticing republicans to retaliate against their Protestant loyalist neighbours.

An army that predominantly patrolled, harassed and monitored a population of less than 700,000. Irish Republicans entered a process they believed would deliver a United Ireland. The near future seems to be one of continued recognition of British rule in the 6 counties and punitive measures for anyone who speaks out.

Sinn Fein claims this recognition is temporary as they call for a Border Poll to decide the future of the 6 counties. Their opponents, however, see a Sinn Fein getting comfortable in suits and with titles, devising 10 year plans and ultimately accepting the authority of a British state.

How successful Sinn Fein’s attempts to hold and win this poll will be, nobody knows. What we can be sure of is that, in the absence of a sincere attempt to unite Ireland and all its communities, Irish dissident republicans will not have gone away either.

Movement

The article (see link below) raises valid points. Some of which I agree with. How they chose to present these points is not valid and I do not agree with. It is written by the ‘Northern Ireland Unionist Collective Group’ who exist to;

“encourage and facilitate debate within the loyalist community with the aim of seeking positive ways to move our communities forward.”

Debate within the loyalist community would indeed be welcome, as precious little is seen from the outside.

In the article, the writer makes reference to the cliché of ‘Freedom Fighter’ V ‘Terrorist’ and chooses the later. Surprisingly, for someone from the ‘Northern Ireland Unionist’ community, they do so in reference to Israel.

He makes the points that the “…Israeli terrorist groups of the 1940s…modelled themselves on the IRA.” And that Yitzhak Shamir took the code-name ‘Michael’ as a tribute to Michael Collins. They then make one of many errors in the piece and claim there was admiration between “…Irish republicanism and Zionism…”. This is not true.

Whatever admiration existed, did so as a result of Jewish suffering – NOT Zionism.

The insignificant links between Irish Republicans and Germans during WW2, that the writer notes, existed purely on the basis of ‘my enemy’s enemy’. Nothing else. In fact it is Britain, and not just their royal family, who must take responsibility for the thousands of Jews they sent back to Hitler’s gas chambers. Some of whom were rounded up on the Channel Islands.

While the writer attempts to make these tentative links between Irish Republicanism and German Fascism, he neglects the stance Irish Republicans took against fascist Franco. Many of whom did so, paid for it with their lives and opposition from the Catholic Church.

He is right in stating Menachim Begin was an admirer of the Irish revolution against British imperialism. He admired our stance of ignoring their courts. A very powerful stance to take and aligned with Irish republican principles. What the writer neglects to mention here is that, Begin was influenced by how badly the Irish movement was infiltrated with informants. As a result, Begin kept his cells as small as possible and everything was on a need to know basis.

Terrorist Army

So let’s look at that old chestnut of a word ‘Terrorist’ whose definition depends on who holds the power. As they say – ‘it’s what the big army calls the little army’. Those with the power label their enemy as ‘Terrorist’, slaves to mainstream media believe it and oppose the every action of the ‘Terrorist’ no matter what their reasoning may be. Terrorist is only ever used in the pejorative sense.

Despite this meaning, Begin took pride in being called a ‘terrorist’ by British imperialists. He believed – if you call me this, I must be terrorising you, which means you must be afraid of me, so my work here is done.

The bond between Irish Republicanism and the Jewish fight for freedom is something we should be proud of. Proud that we stood in solidarity with the Jewish people in their hour of need. Likewise, we should be equally proud of abandoning it when it was distorted into Zionism and abuse of Palestinians. Thereby turning freedom into oppression.

The support Irish Republicans give to Palestine is proof positive that we are interested in the movement, not the man. We support freedom and independence and oppose oppression, no matter who leads it, no matter how much we may have supported or opposed them in the past. This will always be the way.

http://niucg.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/israel-palestine-and-northern-ireland.html

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Gerry Carroll, of the PBPA, claims to be a socialist. I have no reason to doubt this. What I do doubt, or rather what I question is, his assertion that there is scope for the PBPA to ‘attract’ the middle class vote. I would like to know exactly what he means by ‘attract’?

Let’s leave that definition aside for the time being and deal with whether or not the middle class would vote for someone like the PBPA. As a protest vote, maybe yes. The middle class can be ‘attracted’. However, if we want politics and party politics to mean anything, groups like the PBPA cannot ‘attract’ the vote of the middle class, nor any other grouping, and should not. If such groups start to ‘attract’ the middle class vote then they are no longer the middle class and groups like the PBPA are no longer what they claim to stand for. Part of being middle class means accepting the status quo and the favouring of vested interests groups over, and to the exploitation of, non-corporate human beings. This can be either voluntarily or involuntarily.

The middle class need to be made aware of what it is to be middle class, whether they see themselves as middle class and then, based on their vision for themselves and the planet, are they happy with this definition of their status?

Not until a real conversation like this is begun and held should any sort of ‘attraction’ be even considered. It smacks of career politics. And that most certainly IS middle class. Is this what he means?

The question I would then pose to Mr. Carroll is, how he believes and what he and his colleagues are doing to ‘attract’ this middle class? And does this mean they will eventually engage in the usual malarky, that political parties engage in, of doing exactly the same thing as those you oppose? Are we delaying the inevitable here? Is the old wine in new bottles phenomenon never ending?

Additionally questions about Darren Pio O’Reilly’s comment (after the victory cavalcade through the city with tricolours fluttering out of their cars including a particularly loud version as they passed Derry police station) that he would have been happier to have had “red flags” flying but certain realities make political life that bit more “complicated” – need to be posed.

What does he mean by “…certain realities make political life that bit more “complicated”…”. Does he mean he’ll fly under any flag, banner or whatsoever as long as it gets him elected?

These are the times to ask these questions. It’s a bit late posing them when these guys become TDs, MLAs or something even more sinister.

neil-lennon-celtic-manager-resignation

A well written piece by Kevin Mc Kenna and perfectly true. Not a one had a word to say!!

As if I wasn’t suspicious enough about so called ‘humanitarian’ groups. In Ireland, there is a massive snobbery about racism. Meaning that we either believe that it happens elsewhere or it is carried out by the fringes.

We quite rightly condemn the nut jobs who send racist messages in the post or post similar messages on the side of the road (given the wealth of services and CCTV we have in this country for identifying revenue generating traffic offences, I find it hard to believe that the perpetrators cannot be identified!!). Similarly we get quite excited and feel quite smug about exposing the racist interaction of some nut (drunken or otherwise) on the street or the bus etc. But this is the low hanging fruit we are exposing and we should consider exposing and ending such forms of racism as quite rudimentary. Absolutely nothing to feel smug about here!

Yet whenever it comes to something so close to home and, God forbid, risks challenging the racist relationship (When racism within UKIP was fully exposed, not that it wasn’t already known, they still made significant electoral gains in the UK) with our closest neighbours…EVERYBODY goes silent!! Even feminists go silent on the treatment of women by the DUP and the Orange Order never mind their racist treatment of Irish people and Catholics.

Time for these ‘humantarian’ organisations to re-examine themselves or simply disband as their current efforts are both misleading and dangerous.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/25/neil-lennon-persecution-shames-scotland-celtic-manager

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Dear all,

I promised you had probably heard the last from me on these matters. However, Near FM had a very different idea. They decided to censor the opinions of a Palestinian woman and her family from tonight’s documentary episode of ‘Understanding Irish Muslims’ on the basis that this family conversation constitutes ‘current affairs and news’.

They claim the BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) regulations are making them do it. Their interpretation of these regulations differs to mine as I will explain below.

Tonight’s episode featured Muslims who speak Irish, play GAA and rugby as well as talking to Muslims in their homes and eating delicious Turkish and Arabic food! Yum! 🙂 Very light and easy going topics I think you’ll agree.

In so doing, I spoke to a Palestinian and a Turkish family. The Palestinian family spoke about their homeland and how they feel about Palestine and Israel. They did so very briefly and in a casual way, in their own front sitting-room and over a plate of cakes, buns and tea. Even Fluffy the cat was there!:-)

Of all the episodes in this documentary, the only one that could be considered ‘current affairs’ would be the feature on the Arab Spring. Yet the BAI had no objection to this when it was submitted for their approval back in February 2013.

Well apparently this is not current affairs and news. They believe a family discussion over tea and scones is current affairs & news.

Just this morning (some hours before the final episode was to go live) Near FM pulled out a BAI document I had never seen before. A document that Near FM claims to mean that “The BAI Contract does not allow for current affairs within Sound & Vision programming.”

This document quite clearly states that the BAI will not fund “Programmes produced primarily for news or current affairs” (Section 4.5 E) This programme is not primarily for news or current affairs. Furthermore the piece that Near FM find objectionable is a mere 0:45 second recording out of a total of 2 hours.

Why Near did not advise me of this before, despite having tonight’s episode for 3 weeks, is difficult to understand.

Make your own minds up on this.