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Ireland 1848

An experimental documentary of the Great irish Famine. Shot as a film might have been shot in 1848 fifty years before the cinema was invented.

April 21, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Remembering Ireland’s Great Famine

A review of Black ’47 a soon to be released film about the famine in Ireland

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin | Dissident Voice | April 13, 2018

Weary men, what reap ye?—Golden corn for the stranger.
What sow ye?— human corpses that wait for the avenger.
Fainting forms, hunger–stricken, what see you in the offing?
Stately ships to bear our food away, amid the stranger’s scoffing.
There’s a proud array of soldiers — what do they round your door?
They guard our masters’ granaries from the thin hands of the poor.
Pale mothers, wherefore weeping— would to God that we were dead;
Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.”
— “Speranza” (Jane Wilde, mother of Oscar Wilde)

Last Wednesday I attended a preview for a forthcoming Irish film, Black 47 (Director Lance Daly), about the worst year of the catastrophic Irish famine and is set in the west of Ireland in 1847.

The story centers around an Irish soldier, Feeney (James Frecheville), returning from serving the British Army in Afghanistan only to find most of his family have perished in the Famine or An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger) as it is known in Gaelic.

The English and Irish terms for Ireland’s greatest tragedy are infused with different ideological approaches to the disaster. By emphasising the failure of the potato crop only, the impression is given that there was no food to be had on the island when the opposite was true – there were many other crops which did not fail but were not accessible to the vast majority of the people – hence, the Great Hunger.

Feeney (James Frecheville), Black 47 (Director Lance Daly)

In Black 47, the colonised fight back as Feeney puts the skills he has learned abroad with the British army to effective use in Ireland. He kills or executes the various people involved in the British colonial system he blames for the starvation and death of his family: from the bailiff to the judge to the colonial landlord. Moreover, Feeney goes a step further as he refuses to speak English to those in power before he kills them, reflecting back to them an immediate understanding of the powerlessness of those without the linguistic tools to negotiate compromises (as was seen in the film when a monolingual Irish speaker gets tough justice for ‘refusing’ to speak English in court).

Back in the late 1980s a book entitled ‘The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures‘ [1989] showed how the language and literature of the empire, English, was used by colonised peoples in the creation of a radical culture to aid their resistance to the hegemony of imperial power. However, now with many of his family dead, Feeney has ceased to be a Caliban profiting on the language of his masters and becomes a powerfully drawn hero who is uncompromising in his insistence that the Irish language and culture will be a respected equal to the imposed English language and culture of the colonists.

In the film the ruling class and their hierarchy of supporters are flush with food and the army is used to transport harvested crops to the coast and exportation. This fact is displayed symbolically when one of Feeney’s victims is literally ‘drowned’ in food, as he is found head first in a sack of wheat.

The international aspect of the Black 47 narrative hints at the geopolitics of the day with Feeney’s return from Afghanistan and the concurrent mass emigration to the United States from Ireland. Feeney’s indignation at finding out how his masters have treated his own family and compatriots as he risked his life for them abroad is similar to the treatment of the African-American soldiers of the Vietnam war on their return to the United States.

But this is not a black and white, Irish versus the Brits, movie. There is complexity as some of the British show empathy for the desperate Irish and pay the ultimate price or go on the run.

Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.

— Francis Bacon

Black 47 is a revenge movie which is cathartic for an audience feeling the utter helplessness of the victims living in a brutal system without real justice, where what should have been their protectors (the law, the state, the army, etc.) became their attackers and betrayed them. In previous food crises, according to Christine Kenealy:

The closure of ports was a traditional, short-term response to food shortages. It had been used to great effect during the subsistence crisis of 1782-4 when, despite the opposition of the grain merchants, ports had been closed and bounties offered to merchants who imported food to the country. During the subsistence crisis of 1799-1800, the government had placed a temporary embargo on the export of potatoes from Ireland. In 1816 and 1821, the British government had organised the shipment of grain into areas in the west of Ireland where there were food shortages. The grain was then sold on at low prices. Similar intervention and market regulation occurred in Britain.

Unfortunately for Ireland, Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan (2 April 1807 – 19 June 1886), a British civil servant and colonial administrator, was put in charge of administering famine relief. Trevelyan was a student of the economist Thomas Malthus and a believer in laissez faire economics and the free hand of the market. Trevelyan described the famine as an “effective mechanism for reducing surplus population” as well as “the judgement of God”.

Famine Memorial in Dublin by artist Rowan Gillespie

With this change in attitude on the part of the British government towards food shortages, the crisis was doomed from the beginning. Kinealy states:

In 1847 alone, the worst year of the Famine, almost 4,000 vessels carried food from Ireland to the major ports of Britain, that is, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and London. Over half of these ships went to Liverpool, the main port both for emigration and for cargo.

Ultimately, one million people starved to death and one million emigrated reducing the population by about 20% – 25%.

Black 47 is an uncompromising film that depicts the harrowing results of a crop failure combined with an ultra exploitative system that knew no moral or legal boundaries. Sure, attempts were made by well-meaning people to alleviate the crisis but the failure of the state to end the crisis on a macro level resulted in an unprecedented disaster for the Irish people. It will go on general release in September.

Further research:

For those interested in finding out more about the Great Hunger, here is a select list of material covering different aspects.

Art

The preview showing of Black 47 was to complement a concurrent exhibtion of art in Dublin Castle showing at the Coach House Gallery until June 30. The exhibition, titled ‘Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger‘, is an exhibition of the world’s largest collection of Famine-related art.

​Belfast mural

Music:

Sinéad O’Connor – ‘Famine

Damien Dempsey – ‘Colony

Christy Moore – ‘On a Single Day

Books:

The Great Hunger by Cecil Woodham-Smith

The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy by Tim Pat Coogan

The Graves are Walking by John Kelly

Atlas of the Great Irish Famine edited by J. Crowley, W. J. Smith and M.Murphy.
(Massive hardback volume covering almost all aspects of the famine throughout Ireland, lavishly illustrated.)

National Famine Commemoration Committee

The National Famine Commemoration Committee was first established in 2008 following a Government decision to commemorate the Great Irish Famine with an annual national famine memorial day.

Film
Ireland 1848 – ‘An experimental documentary of the Great Irish Famine. Shot as a film might have been shot in 1848 fifty years before the cinema was invented.’

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

April 14, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Film Review, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Irish Senate delays vote on anti-settlement bill under Israeli pressure

Press TV – January 31, 2018

Under pressure from the Tel Aviv regime, the Irish Senate has postponed a vote on a bill that forbids the import and sale of products from Israeli settlements as well as the services originating from the occupied territories.

The bill, entitled Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018, states that it is “an offence for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances; and to provide for related matters.”

It also says that those who “assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods” would be committing a crime punishable with up to five years in prison.

The Irish Senate debated the motion on Tuesday. Senator Frances Black, who had put forward the motion, described the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Golan Heights as a “war crime.”

She also stressed the anti-settlement bill was actually about respect for international law and standing up for the rights of vulnerable people.

“It is a chance for Ireland to state strongly that it does not support the illegal confiscation of land and the human suffering which inevitably results,” Black said.

“In the occupied Palestinian territories, people are forcibly kicked out of their homes, fertile farming land is seized and the fruit and vegetables produced are then exported to pay for it all,” she added.

A group of Israeli activists, among them former lawmakers and ambassadors as well as legal experts, artists and academics, had also sent a petition to the Irish parliament, asking it to support the motion.

They urged “Ireland to support any legislation that will help enforce differentiation between Israel per se and the settlements in the occupied territories,” read the petition. “The Israeli occupation of the territories beyond the 1967 borders, ongoing for more than 50 years with no end in sight, is not only unjust but also stands in violation of numerous UN resolutions.”

However, the Irish Senate suddenly decided to adjourn the debates regarding the bill until July as the regime in Tel Aviv scrambled to torpedo the measure.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney “had asked today for time… He has given a commitment in writing that if the debate is adjourned today the government will facilitate time for this debate to be resumed before the summer recess in July,” Senator Alice Mary Higgins said.

The cancellation came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Irish bill, saying it seeks to harm the regime and support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for Palestinian rights.

“The initiative gives backing to those who seek to boycott Israel and completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The Israeli premier further ordered the Foreign Ministry to summon Irish Ambassador to Tel Aviv Alison Kelly.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The continued expansion of Israeli settlements is one of the major obstacles to the establishment of peace in the Middle East.

In recent months, Tel Aviv has stepped up its settlement construction activities in the occupied Palestinian lands in a blatant violation of international law and in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ireland May Criminalize Trade with Israeli Settlements

Palestine Chronicle | January 25, 2018

Ireland is set to discuss a new bill that seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods originating in illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian Territory.

Independent Senator Frances Black, yesterday, launched the “Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018”, which is scheduled for debate in Seanad Éireann on Wednesday 31 January 2018.

According to a press release announcing its launch the bill “seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories”. “Such settlements,” said the statement, “are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground”. Despite the illegality of the import and sale of goods from Israeli settlements, the statement points out that Ireland is still providing “continued economic support through trade in settlement goods”.

Drafters of the bill revealed that the legislation had been “prepared with the support of Trócaire, Christian-Aid and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), and applies to settlements in occupied territories where there is clear international legal consensus that they violate international law”. They insisted that the “clearest current example of these violations were the expansion of settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, which have been repeatedly condemned as illegal by the UN, EU, the International Court of Justice and the Irish Government”.

Speaking in advance of the bill’s introduction, Senator Black said:

“This is a chance for Ireland to stand up for the rights of vulnerable people – it is about respecting international law and refusing to support illegal activity and human suffering.”

Black said he is “passionate about the struggle of the Palestinian people”. He insisted that “trade in settlement goods sustains injustice” and explained that “in the occupied territories, people are forcibly kicked out of their homes, fertile farming land is seized, and the fruit and vegetables produced are then sold on Irish shelves to pay for it all”.

The bill is seeking more than mere denunciation of Israeli settlements and is trying to get governments around the world to treat settlements as illegal. Black pointed out that six years ago the Irish Government criticized the relentless progress of Israeli settlements, but they have failed to do anything about it since.

“In years since then it has only gone one way, with settlements expanding, more Palestinian homes being demolished and land being confiscated. It’s clear that empty promises have not worked but nothing has been done. Ireland needs to show leadership and act” Black protested.

The Occupied Territories Bill 2018 will be debated at Second Stage in Seanad Éireann on Wednesday and will be streamed live on Oireachtas TV. It has been co-signed by Seanad Civil Engagement Group Senators Alice-Mary Higgins, Lynn Ruane, Grace O’Sullivan, Colette Kelleher and John Dolan, as well as Senator David Norris.

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Death of an Irish Hunger Striker

By Pauline Murphy | CounterPunch | September 8, 2017

One hundred years ago Thomas Ashe became the first Irish Republican to die on hunger strike. Ashe was imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin for delivering a ‘seditious speech’ to a public gathering in County Longford. On the 20th of September Ashe decided to go on hunger strike when he was denied the status of political prisoner. Five days later on September 25th he was dead.

Although Ashe is considered the first Irish Republican prisoner to die on hunger strike, his death was not the direct result of starvation, instead it was caused by force feeding. This brutal act carried out by prison authorities involved inserting a tube into the mouth of the hunger striker and pushing it down into their stomach. Gruel was poured down this ghastly device which caused gagging, vomiting and for Thomas Ashe – death.

Austin Stack was also a Republican prisoner who went on hunger strike around the same time as Ashe. Stack also underwent force feeding but lived to recall the terrible technique used by the prison authorities: ” It was very painful. My eyes watered during the whole time so that I could see nothing. I vomited during and after the process so that not one half of the food entered my stomach. My clothes were covered with vomit. There was no attempt made to examine me.”

The act of refusing food is a powerful weapon used by those who have nothing else left to fight with. This tool of protest against injustice was first used in the early 1900s by imprisoned British and Irish suffragettes. It was also the first time force feeding was used to break a hunger strike.

In 1912 Suffragettes Gladys Evans and Mary Leigh became the first prisoners in Ireland to hunger strike for political status and receive the treatment of force feeding. They were jailed along with Lizzie Barter who flung a hatchet at British Prime minister Herbert Asquith while he was visiting Dublin. She missed Asquith but hit Irish Home Rule leader John Redmond instead!

Barter evaded arrest but was apprehended the next day when she was involved in a disturbance at Dublin’s Theatre Royal where the British PM was due to speak. Barter hurled a burning chair into the orchestra pit while Leigh and Evans were caught at the same venue attempting to set fire to the royal box.

The Suffragettes were jailed in Mountjoy for “having commited serious outrages at the time of the visit of the British Prime Minister”. Leigh and Evans went on hunger strike and were force fed until they were released months later.

In September 1913 Labour leader James Connolly was arrested after speaking at a mass rally with Jim Larkin outside Liberty Hall in Dublin city. Connolly was sentenced to three months imprisonment and was labeled a common criminal. Inspired by the Suffragettes, he went on hunger strike which lasted eight days before he was released. While Connolly came out of his hunger strike unscathed, the same cannot be said for James Byrne.

In October 1913 Labour activist James Byrne was arrested on false charges of intimidation and he was sent to Mountjoy jail. The 38 year old father of six from Dun Laoghaire was a secretary of the trades council and when he was denied political status in prison he followed the example set by Connolly just months previously and he went on hunger strike. Byrne also undertook a thirst strike and his health rapidly declined while imprisoned. The authorities released Byrne when his condition worsened and just under two weeks later he died of pneumonia. His funeral drew thousands of mourners and James Connolly delivered the graveside oration.

In 1917 the death of County Kerry native Thomas Ashe resulted in an inquest which revealed the barbarity of force feeding. The inquest also revealed that he had been stripped of his boots, bed, bedding and clothes. Ashe was left with a single blanket and the cold stone ground to lie on. The pathologist’s report revealed markings and bruising around Ashe’s mouth and jaw indicating the brutality of force feeding.

The verdict of the inquest declared that Ashe “died of heart failure and congestion of the lungs….. that his death was caused by the punishment of taking away from the cell, bed, bedding and boots and allowing him to be on the cold floor.” British authorities refused to accept the result of the inquest and many copies of it were burned by order. The copies that survived ensured the truth was revealed and the act of force feeding was later abandoned but, the act of hunger striking for political status would remain a staple of protest for Republicans throughout the rest of the 20th century. Following the death of Thomas Ashe 100 years ago, 22 more Republicans would die in prison in the following years and decades after 1917.

Pauline Murphy is a freelance writer from Ireland.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Netanyahu slams Ireland’s pro-Palestine stance

Press TV – July 12, 2017

Enraged by Dublin’s financial aid to anti-Israel Palestinian rights groups, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at visiting Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney over his country’s pro-Palestine policy.

Netanyahu’s office made the criticism in a statement issued on Tuesday after the premier’s meeting with Coveney in Jerusalem al-Quds.

The premier “expressed his dissatisfaction over Ireland’s traditional stance” on Palestine and urged Coveney to condemn what he called Palestinian “incitement,” the statement read.

He also challenged the top Irish diplomat over Dublin’s assistance to the “NGOs that call for the destruction of Israel,” it added.

Coveney, for his part, said in a news briefing that his discussions with Netanyahu touched on a range of issues, including Israeli settlements, the humanitarian and political situation in the blockaded Gaza Strip and the so-called peace process.

“Of course, we have clear differences on some issues, but these differences are honestly held and openly expressed,” he noted.

Ireland runs Irish Aid, an official overseas development program for overseas development.

A number of Palestinian rights groups, such as Al-Haq, Addameer and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, are funded by the program.

During his three-day trip, which began on Monday, Coveney is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, United Nations officials and representatives from the NGOs funded by Irish Aid.

Speaking prior to his departure for the occupied territories, Coveney said he was “looking forward to hearing a diverse range of views from” the Palestinians, Israelis and NGOs.

“Of course, I will also use the opportunity to make clear Ireland’s concerns about the impact of the continuing occupation and the fact that, as things stand, the prospects of a comprehensive peace agreement remain dim,” he pointed out.

The meeting took place on the same day that Ireland’s South Dublin County Council voted unanimously to fly the Palestinian flag over the County Hall in Tallaght for a month in solidarity with the “oppressed people of Palestine.”

It has become the fourth Irish local authority to make such a move in recent months.

“I am delighted with [the] vote in solidarity with the people of Palestine. It might seem like a very small gesture but I know from the reaction to similar decisions made by other councils that today’s vote will be applauded across Palestine and elsewhere,” said Councilor Enda Fanning.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Palestinian officials say they want the resolution of the conflict with Tel Aviv based on the so-called two-state solution along pre-1967 boundaries.

However, Netanyahu has on several occasions said Israel should maintain its military occupation of the West Bank under any agreement with the Palestinians.

In recent months, the Tel Aviv regime has stepped up its illegal settlement construction activities in the occupied lands and oppressive measures against the Palestinians, leading to an increase in global anti-Israel sentiment.

July 12, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 5 Comments

Ireland Continues to Remember 1916 and Continues to Betray It (With Some Canadian Help)

By Aidan O’Brien | CounterPunch | June 9, 2016

Dublin.

Do you remember Ireland’s 1916 commemorations in late March? Do you remember the spectacle? Do you remember all those fighting words and strong images of national independence and national justice? The attention of the world was on Dublin for a few days and Dublin played the part of the rebel city. Well it was all a bit too real and too popular. And for that reason it had to be officially repressed as soon as possible.

The official repression occurred on May 26 when the Irish state honoured the British soldiers who butchered Dublin in 1916.

That’s right! It’s worth reiterating: a few weeks after glorifying the 1916 birth of modern Ireland, the Irish state on May 26 turned around and honoured the men who stuck a bayonet through the heart of modern Ireland. Think about that.

The Irish state needless to say was doing this on the sly. In a military graveyard somewhere in Dublin the Irish state together with the British army prayed for the British war dead of Easter 1916. It was a semi-secret ceremony because the Irish people would’ve been insulted otherwise.

You must remember that the Irish state isn’t the Irish people. The Irish state being more in tune with the UK and the EU (and of course with the USA) than with the Irish people.

One brave Irish protester (Brian Murphy) however did sneak into this prayer for the Empire to register the disgust of the Irish (the living and the dead). But the words “insult” and “disgust” were barely out of his mouth when the Canadian ambassador (Kevin Vickers) attacked him.

That’s right! It’s worth repeating: Canada’s representative in Ireland attacked a peaceful Irish protester at a gathering in Dublin to honour the Empire that viciously attacked Ireland in 1916. Think about that.

The Irish media thought this Canadian defence of the British Queen was funny. But the Irish media are so detached from the Irish people they might as well be located in Canada. So the “Irish” declared the Canadian ambassador to be a hero. And the peaceful Irish protester? He was arrested. Then mocked.

In contrast the Canadian media and the Canadian government understood the craziness of the incident and felt a bit embarrassed.

But not the Irish. Nothing it seems embarrasses the Irish state and the Irish media. They continue to feel around in the dark – looking for a Dollar here and a Euro there and to hell with Ireland.

So on May 31 Ireland’s memories of 1916 moved north of the border. In Belfast the Irish state continued to honour the British military. This time the object of “Irish” respect was the British navy. The excuse was the number of Irishmen who died at sea while fighting for Britain in the First World War.

Standing alongside British royalty the Irish state tossed “red poppies” into the sea. Why? Why honour cannon fodder if you’re not condemning at the same time the practice of using people like cannon fodder? Why honour the desperate Irishmen who joined the British army for economic reasons if you’re not at the same time condemning the economic conditions that turned the men into mince meat?

Why recall Irish mercenaries without questioning the system? Because the contemporary Irish state is a mercenary itself. One that is trapped in similar economic conditions to those of 1916. Conditions which force   one to betray oneself. And ethics in general.

On May 26, the same day that the  Irish state was praying for the British who butchered Dublin, the Irish Treasury was informing the Irish people that Ireland’s national debt amounts to €207 billion.

In 2007 Ireland’s debt was €47 billion. So the treasonous Irish bank bailout of 2008, and the equally bad EU enforcement of this bailout in 2010, more than quadrupled “overnight” Ireland’s debt burden.

And today? The Irish Treasury broke down the figures. Each Irish worker it said “owed” €102,000. And servicing this debt cost each Irish worker in tax€3,400 a year. In 2007, in comparison, the servicing of Ireland’s national debt cost each Irish worker €900 a year.

According to Bloomberg the Irish Treasury got its sums right. Ireland’s national debt per capita ($48,730) is the highest in Europe. Indeed on a per capita basis the “unsustainable” Greek public debt ($31,850) is more attractive than Irish debt. In fact in the world, only Japan’s per capita public debt ($77,660) surpasses Ireland’s. Tiny agricultural Ireland however is not mighty Japan.

And who does Ireland owe? According to Britain’s Daily Mail : in 2010 Ireland owed the British banks  £88 billion. This means, in short, that Ireland owes Britain £88 billion worth of “red poppies”. And to hell with 1916.

One might feel sorry for Ireland’s financial predicament. But it was self inflicted. Indeed the two political parties that emerged from Ireland’s revolutionary years (1916-1921) and have since ruled Ireland, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, both share the blame. The former pressed the “bailout button”. And the latter kept the finger on it.

And these two kamikaze decision makers are the ones who now decide to treat the butchers of Ireland and Ireland’s mercenaries with as much respect as Ireland’s Freedom Fighters. Ireland’s moral compass to put it mildly, is broken.

Ireland’s debt trap is an immoral trap in every way. Because it can only be serviced by nonstop payments to the Empire: the NATO establishment. And these payments are not just financial but political as well. Indeed the payments involve culture and history too. Ireland’s debt in a word is totalitarian. And it is swallowing the truth. The truth about the past as much as the truth about the present.

And Kamikaze “Ireland” continues to crash itself into 1916. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil managed to form an administration at the beginning of May. One acting as government and the other acting as opposition. Nonetheless the Irish people remain leaderless. And that probably is a good thing. Since the solution to the debt and to history remains in the streets.

At this point it’s worth repeating a few words from Ireland’s 1916 Proclamation of Independence:

“We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefensible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.”

Think about that. About the betrayal and the solution.

Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

The 2016 Irish Elections: Sinn Féin v the Empire

By Aidan O’Brien | CounterPunch | February 25, 2016

Dublin – Exactly 100 years ago a bunch of no nonsense Irish nationalists took over Dublin’s General Post Office and changed the world. This Friday something similar might happen. On February 26 the Irish vote in a general election and one of the favourites in this race for power is the same bunch of no nonsense nationalists who took over the GPO in 1916: Sinn Féin.

In 1916 the world was the British Empire and the Irish outsiders who took it on inspired the rebellion of colonised people everywhere (for example, in India). Indeed anyone with an Irish passport will acknowledge the goodwill they receive around the world (particularly in the Third World) because of the Irish refusal to submit to Britain in 1916.

In 2016 the world, on this side of the Atlantic, is the European Empire (the EU). And it is obvious that only outsiders will ever take it on. And if half or even a quarter successful they could inspire freedom movements not only in Europe, but everywhere else that feels the jackboot of Europe. This week history is glancing in the direction of Irish nationalism again.

This is not hyperbole but simply how the dice have rolled. Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal have all had their chance to take on the Euro imperialists and each have backed down. Why should Ireland be any different?

Sinn Féin, to begin with, is not a bunch of clowns (Italy’s Five Star Movement); nor is it led by middle class engineers and economists (the Greek Syriza party); neither is it a group of politely indignant professors (Spain’s Podemos party) nor über constitutional leftists (Portugal’s lefty coalition).

Among Europe’s anti-austerity parties Sinn Féin is the odd man out because it is a national liberation movement. It’s a throwback to modern times when national liberation meant something. And so it has more in common with America’s old Black Panther movement than with Podemos or Syriza. And that is exactly Sinn Féin’s strength.

Despite its name – in English it means “ourselves” – Sinn Féin is not a narrow minded nationalist organisation. On the contrary, it’s internationalist credentials are impressive. It fought alongside the ANC when no one else (apart from the Communists) dared to do so. It assisted the FARC when Clinton & co. were implementing Plan Colombia. It also is a comrade of ETA in Euskadi – the Basque region (Spain). And it has close links to Free Cuba – as it did with Libya when it was Free.

Added to this honourable past and present Sinn Féin of course has fought Britain in a war during the 1970s and 1980s. And in “peace” time it has the audacity to ignore the British made border that divides Ireland in two. It alone among those racing for power this week operates on an All-Ireland basis.

In a word: Sinn Féin has the backbone every other anti-austerity group in Europe lacks. And if it gets into a position of real power it can use it. Berlin has yet to encounter such an anti-imperialist movement. And if Berlin is to break – Sinn Féin might be the one to instigate it.

All of this is conditional however. Does Sinn Féin want to fight Berlin? The signs are not good. Sinn Féin like most anti-austerity parties in Europe remains loyal to the European Union. And in the Irish election the Sinn Féin slogan is “A Fairer Recovery”. This implies a commitment to Ireland’s comprador capitalist structure. It implies a naivety that threatens to mimic all the other political parties (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens) which have betrayed the Irish people.

That said, a fight against Berlin is still a real possibility. If so it doesn’t have to be a suicidal head on confrontation – as 1916 was. In its recent war against Britain, Sinn Féin mastered the art of guerrilla warfare. If it chooses to do so, it can use this deep experience to reinvent the resistance to the European Empire. As an outsider Sinn Féin has thrived at the expense of the Dublin and London establishments. Now it can be the turn of the European Elite to suffer a Sinn Féin “attack”.

Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Féin, once famously said that “the IRA haven’t gone away”. If Sinn Féin finds itself in power next week the fighting spirit of the IRA must be quickly found again and used creatively. If it is – Europe’s anti-austerity movement may find the backbone it so badly needs. To have a chance it needs a strong dose of no nonsense anti-imperialism.

February 25, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

States of hope and states of concern

By Bjorn Hilt | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | January 11, 2016

At the UN General assembly last fall there was an essential vote on the future of mankind. Resolution number A/RES/70/33 calling for the international society to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had been submitted by Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. For that, these countries deserve our deep respect and gratitude. The resolution reminds us that all the peoples of  the world have a vital interest in the success of nuclear disarmament negotiations, that all states have the right to participate in disarmament negotiations, and, at the same time, declares support for the UN Secretary – General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.

The resolution reiterates the universal objective that remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons, and emphasizes the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The resolution calls on the UN to establish an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of willing and responsible states to bring the negotiations on nuclear disarmament forward in this spirit.

When voted upon at the UNGA a month ago, on December 7, 2015, there was a huge majority of states (75 %) that supported the resolution, namely 138 of the 184 member states that were present. Most of them are from the global south, with majorities in Latin-America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. After having shown such courage and wisdom, they all deserve to be named among the states of hope, states that want to sustain mankind on earth.

Only 12 states voted against the resolution. Guess who they are: China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States. What is wrong with them? Well, they are either nuclear-armed states or among the new NATO member states. They are the states of concern in today’s world. It is hypocritical that states that claim to be the protectors of freedom, democracy, and humanity constitute a small minority that refuse to enter into multilateral, inclusive, interactive and constructive negotiations to free the world from nuclear weapons. Among the three other nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan had the civility to abstain, while the DPRK was the only one to vote “yes.”

Despite the reactionary, dangerous, and irresponsible position of the 12 states of concern and the tepid attitude of the abstainers, the OEWG was established by an overwhelming majority of the UNGA. The OEWG will convene in Geneva for 15 working days during the first half of 2016. The OEWG has no mandate to negotiate treaties to free the world of the inhuman nuclear weapons, but has clearly been asked to discuss and show how it can be achieved. Surely, the nations of hope that voted in favor of the OEWG will take part in the work. We can hope that at least some of the states of concern and some of the abstainers come to their senses and take part in this essential work for the future of mankind.

Participation in the OEWG is open for everyone and blockable by none. No matter what the states of concern do or don’t do, there is good reason to trust that the vast majority of nations of hope together with civil society from all over in the fall will present an outcome to the UNGA that will turn our common dream of a world free of nuclear weapons into a reality—perhaps sooner that we dare to believe.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Irish politicians face Christmas jail time for trying to inspect US war planes

RT | November 30, 2015

Two members of Ireland’s Dáil (parliament) face Christmas in the clink for trying to inspect US military aircraft at Shannon airport.

Independent TD (MP) Mick Wallace and United Left TD Clare Daly used a rope ladder to gain access to a restricted area of Shannon Airport in July 2014.

They suspected the US of carrying weapons through Ireland, a neutral country that is not part of NATO, and were arrested as they approached two US planes on the taxiway guarded by police and the Irish army.

The pair contested charges of trespassing on the grounds that they were inspecting the planes for humanitarian reasons and to highlight Ireland’s lack of neutrality.

They were subsequently fined €2,000 for their anti-war protest and could now be sent to prison for up to 30 days for refusing to pay up.

Warrants are believed to have been prepared by Irish courts and could be acted on in the coming days. The deadline for the fine payment expired on July 22nd.

Wallace said he and his colleague are prepared to go to prison.

“The decision of myself and Clare Daly to scale the fence at Shannon Airport was designed to help keep the peace, not break it,” he told Irish newspapers. “We do not accept the judge’s decision to the contrary, and under no circumstances will we pay the fines. We realise this may mean serving time in prison. It’s not something we’d look forward to, but if it happens, so be it.”

Wallace said it broke his heart that his country was promoting war by facilitating US military campaigns in the likes of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The left-wing property developer made headlines years ago, before he won his seat in the Dáil, for hanging banners against the invasion of Iraq on one of his construction projects.

Wallace and Daly would likely be part of a Syriza-like ruling coalition if left-wing candidates succeed in next year’s general elections.

Shannonwatch, a group which monitors the military use of the airport, obtained details earlier this year showing the amount of troops and weapons which came through Irish territory and airspace in 2014.

“US troop carriers and aircraft with machine guns, rocket motors, and other war material are routinely allowed to fly through Irish airspace,” read the group’s document.

Shannonwatch spokesperson John Lannon said at the time: “There would seem to be an overwhelming bias towards facilitating flights from the US and other NATO countries. How can our government claim we are in any way neutral when this is happening?”

“When we see the scale of the refugee crisis created by the use of weapons in Syria, we begin to get a glimpse of how arms shipments can impact on a region. It’s not something we should be part of,” Lannon added.

Shannon Airport was the site of its most famous incident of civil disobedience 12 years ago when five Catholic peace activists broke into a hangar and caused more than $2.5 million damage to a US Navy plane with hammers and a pickaxe.

The “Pitstop Ploughshares” activists were eventually found not guilty by an Irish jury, who said they had the lawful excuse of saving lives in Iraq.

November 30, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Secret Death Squads Backed by Thatcher Government Killed Hundreds in N. Ireland

Sputnik – 17.06.2015

Following the broadcast of an Irish documentary, a number of human rights groups are calling on London to take responsibility for its role in colluding with paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. These actions allegedly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Catholics, all to support the Crown.

In 1974, a coordinated attack was launched in the Irish cities of Dublin and Monaghan. On May 17, three car bombs were detonated during rush hour in the nation’s capital. Only 90 minutes later, a fourth explosion went off in Monaghan, just south of the border with Northern Ireland. Thirty-three people were killed. An estimated 300 were injured.

The loyalist paramilitary group Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility for the attack, and in a recent Irish documentary, “Collusion,” a member of the group claims that the bombings were conducted under direction from the British Army. The goal: to implement a civil war.

This is only one of several claims levied against the Thatcher government for its role in the Troubles, and in the face of “overwhelming evidence of collusion,” human rights groups and Irish officials are calling for the British government to own up.

“As a result of the RTE programme ‘Collusion’ showing the knowledge by British Prime Ministers of the murder of Catholics with British army assistance, it is time for the Irish Government to stop asking and start demanding,” said Senator Mark Daly, according to Irish Central.

The allegations suggest that the British Army’s secret Force Research Unit (FRU) recruited and managed members of paramilitary organizations in its efforts in “destroying” the IRA.

These gangs, acting under orders from the army, executed hundreds of innocent people. According to Anne Cadwallader, author of “Lethal Allies,” a single loyalist group may have been responsible for the deaths of 120 Catholics.

Other evidence also points to British involvement in the assassination of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. Famed lawyer of Bobby Sands, leader of the Republican hunger strike in Maze Prison, Finucane was gunned down by members of the Ulster Defence Association who were acting as paid informants for the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

“Carry on – just don’t get caught,” British government officials told former Special Branch head, Raymond White, according to the documentary.

Allegations also say Thatcher’s administration attempted to downplay investigations into murders involving collusion, and former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Lown said that authorities in London were still involved in covering British involvement as late as 2003.

“Soft diplomacy has got us nowhere it’s time to ask the EU, UN and the Hague war crimes tribunal to carry out investigations,” Daly said. “The British Prime Minister and State were no better than a third world dictatorship ordering a terror campaign by murder gangs who deliberately and indiscriminately murdered Catholic and Irish Citizens.”

On Thursday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will meet with Prime Minister David Cameron in London. While part of those discussions will involve economic matters between the two countries, Kenny is also expected to discuss “legacy issues,” seeking British documents which detail the collusion.

But even if Kenny succeeds, it may be too late.

“The initial British response at political level was denial. The second phase was usually cover-up and the last phase eventually was apology,” former secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs Sean Donlon said during the documentary.

“But the apology, of course, never came in the lifetime of the administration which had been involved.

June 17, 2015 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments