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Friday, February 23, 2018

No Stone Unturned”

Posted by Jim on February 22, 2018

No Stone Unturned”
Monday, March 5, 2018. 7 P.M. Free admission. Open to the public.
Capitol Visitor Center, First St., NE (Beneath the East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol at First Street and East Capitol Street), Washington D.C. 20515.


“No Stone Unturned” is the documentary film on the 1994 Loughinisland Massacre. Loughinisland is a small village in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Six Catholic men were shot dead by Loyalist/Unionist/Protestant paramilitaries as they watched in a pub the World Cup football match between Ireland and Italy. The Massacre is another blatant case of British Government/police collusion in assassinations in Northern Ireland.

“No Stone Unturned” is a must-see documentary film. It is authentic, powerful and deeply moving.

No Stone Unturned is the latest work of Alex Gibney —the American documentary film director and producer—and Oscar-winner (“Taxi to the Dark Side”; “Sinatra: All or Nothing at All,” etc., etc.). Esquire Magazine has said he “is becoming the most important documentarian of our time.”

Letter to the Editor by NY State FFAI Chairman

Posted by Jim on

MARTIN GALVIN – ATTORNEY AT LAW

 

EDITOR

IRISH NEWS

113-117 Donegal Street  

BELFAST ,Northern IRELAND

February 9,2018

 

Re: Trevor Ringland -Sympathies lie with victims and families of Loughinisland atrocity

February 2,

With Sympathies Like These Who Needs Enmities

A chara

Trevor Ringland writes his ‘Sympathies lie with victims and families of Loughinisland atrocity.'(February 2nd) He advises these families to shun republican minded supporters and stop blaming Britain, if British troopers, constabulary, or agents murdered loved ones. With sympathies like these who needs enmities?

Mr. Ringland wants families to accept that British troopers or constabulary who murdered, acted “outside the law” are “innocent until proven guilty’, and no excuse for holding Britain accountable. His alternative facts show the deep divide keeping legacy justice a fundamental issue.

Did British troopers, constabulary or agents act “outside the law” at Loughinisland, Ballymurphy etc.? Certainly they acted outside the letter of British law. Certainly anyone charged by the crown should be presumed innocent and get a fair trial (unlike Internment.)Why do families believe that the killing of their loved ones, while outside the letter of the law was part of actual British policy?

Look at Loughinisland. “NO STONE UNTURNED” names and shows recent film of suspects, then reveals, besides DNA evidence available from the recovered car, weapons, and clothing, the wife of one of the gunmen had telephoned and written confessing her involvement and naming the gunmen.

No one was ever charged. Are families promised “no stone unturned” then stonewalled, wrong to believe killers were not “innocent until proven guilty”, but innocent by British state immunity?

Look at Ballymurphy. These families say that British troopers murdered innocent people, including a Catholic priest, and mother of eight. After taking 11 innocent lives, and parents from 57 children the British massacred the truth. Victims became posthumous gunmen. The crown made their troopers innocent and the dead guilty.

Families fought for their right to establish truth at a British inquest. Now Britain moves towards pardons dressed up as statutes of limitations, for British troopers and constabulary. Have families no right to believe that the British are putting their undeclared immunity into law?

Former RUC officer and Glenanne Gang member Peter Weir, said the British government at “the very highest level”, was aware of the murder gang’s activities.(IRISH NEWS, August 28,2017)Despite promises and Court orders, these families have not gotten their right to an overarching investigation. Can these families not ask whether a full investigation might show Weir was right?

The divide over legacy justice is deep. Clearly the mechanisms agreed in the past failed to work. Any new agreement on legacy mechanisms must give real truth to victims. Families must get more than hopes of justice, followed by disillusionment.

Slan, MARTIN GALVIN

Graham and other protestant leaders tried to stop Catholics from becoming president

Posted by Jim on

Billy Graham tried to stop JFK becoming president because he was Catholic

@niallodowd

The death of Billy Graham recalls an extraordinary moment in American life when Graham and other leading Protestant church leaders tried to stop JFK becoming president because he was a Catholic.

On August 18, 1960, with Kennedy showing unexpected strength, Graham convened a meeting in Montreux Switzerland, far from the media and prying eyes. Among the invited guests was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, whose 1952 book The Power of Positive Thinking is still a bestseller today. Peale was also a notorious Catholic hate

In all, about 25 Protestant leaders took part, with Graham leading the discussion.

Peale’s wife Ruth, revealed the subject of the secret meeting to block JFK, who would be the first Catholic president in quite specific terms in her letter to a friend found among Peale’s papers.

Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale

Ruth Stafford Peale wrote to a friend in Connecticut on August 19, 1960: “Norman had a conference yesterday at Montreux, Switzerland, with Billy Graham and about 25 church leaders from the United States. They were unanimous in feeling that the Protestants in America must be aroused in some way, or the solid block Catholic voting, plus money, will take this election.”

That secret meeting was never divulged until 1992 when Peale’s biographer Professor Carol George discovered it among his papers.

As George discovered, “it was clear that the Montreux gathering set in motion plans for a one-day conference in Washington to rally concern about the possibility of a Roman Catholic in the White House. Before August was over, Dr. Peale agreed to preside.”

There is no doubt that Graham was the prime mover but he stayed in the background. At a news conference after the meeting, Dr. Peale said the participants had held a “philosophical” discussion of “the nature and character of the Roman Catholic Church” and he found it wanting.

That religious bias was too much even for the media at the time. They attacked Peale, forcing him to recant, and the entire affair rebounded on them with Kennedy’s religion quickly fading as an issue because of the extremism of his opponents.

A week after the Washington meeting, Kennedy delivered a brilliant address to a group of Texas ministers in Houston.

“I believe in an America,” he said, “where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the President, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners how to vote during the 1960 campaign.”

JFK as a senator

JFK as a senator

He also pointed out separately that no one had held his religion against him when he fought for the US in the Second World War and was a decorated hero. It was game, set, and match and Kennedy marched on to the White House.

Graham seemed to genuinely regret his bias and in later life made common cause with several popes on matters of morality, though his mask slipped again during Watergate when he was recorded swearing about Jews in a discussion with his friend Richard Nixon.

According to an article in The New York Times on January 17, 1961, Graham said “Mr. Kennedy’s victory had proved there was not as much religious prejudice as many had feared, and probably had reduced forever the importance of the religious issue in American elections.”

It was no thanks to Graham, however, that Americans truly adopted freedom of religion.

Inept governments at heart of latest failure

Posted by Jim on February 20, 2018

“Varadkar’s government is now paying the price for Enda Kenny’s complete detachment from The North, and years of letting the British and DUP do what they like. As far as Kenny and his government were concerned,  the more difficult things were for Sinn Féin the better. The more he could embarrass Gerry Adams with reference to failure in The North the more points he scored in the Dáil. All the while the Good Friday Agreement atrophied as Kenny’s government never asserted its right to be involved or consulted even in economic matters.”

Inept governments at heart of latest failure

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, February 21, 2018

When you think about it,  people in The North have been on this merry-go-round for six years now.

It began to revolve in 2012. Perhaps it was the census results that spooked unionism or the loss of control in Belfast or both. Whatever it was, since then there have been years of talks and talks: the Haass talks, the Stormont House Agreement, the Fresh Start Agreement and then the past year of five sessions of what were really Sinn Féin-DUP talks.

On each occasion the DUP either walked out, walked away or after reaching an agreement reneged on it. The DUP always denied they were the problem but this time they’ve been caught out and have provoked universal exasperation.

Micheál Martin had a point in the Dáil when he laid the blame for the present impasse at the door of the two governments,  but then ruined it because he couldn’t resist the obligatory dig at Sinn Féin and the DUP as ‘dysfunctional’.

Nevertheless,  there’s validity in Martin’s criticism. True, he can’t have it both ways blaming London and Dublin but also taking a side swipe at the two main parties here. The fact is that since 1985 until 2010 it’s been an axiom that together London and Dublin supervise and jointly manage what happens here. Since then, Martin said, the Irish government has taken their foot off the accelerator. That’s putting it mildly.

Here are the facts. David Cameron, now shown up as one of Britain’s worst prime ministers, an arrogant, careless dilettante, a fitting precursor for the useless, spineless excuse for a Premier we suffer under now, openly sided with the DUP. He destroyed any pretence the British government claimed to be even-handed about this place[Northern Ireland]. Secondly, both he and May sent political nonentities here as proconsuls. [Prime Minister]May selects ciphers,  abject in their loyalty to her who had worked for her in the home office including the present incumbent, ciphers who wouldn’t say boo to a goose in case they annoy their benefactor.

May completed Cameron’s work by unforgivably tying the Conservative party – note not the British government – formally to the DUP thereby removing any ability of herself or any hologram she sends as proconsul to act as mediator, honest broker, arbitrator or guardian of the Good Friday Agreement.

For their part the Irish government simply disengaged from The North. Eamon Gilmore, a former Stickie who had, shall we say, issues with Sinn Féin, hardly took the place under his notice. Charlie Flanagan could only see northern Nationalists through the magnifying glass of Sinn Féin in the Dáil. Sometimes you could hardly distinguish his contributions at talks in Stormont from the British line. Can you remember a single word he said about The North?

In those circumstances leaving it up to Sinn Féin and the DUP to make a settlement on their own, which is what has been going on for a year now, is completely irresponsible. The major fault lies with the British, of course, as the sovereign power because no proconsul can act as mediator being already compromised by the infamous Tory-DUP deal. Worse, any independent mediator daft enough to accept an invitation to try to reach a deal will find the DUP can pick and choose what they like since the British government will exert no pressure on them.

Varadkar’s government is now paying the price for Enda Kenny’s complete detachment from The North,  and years of letting the British and DUP do what they like. As far as Kenny and his government were concerned the more difficult things were for Sinn Féin the better. The more he could embarrass Gerry Adams with reference to failure in The North the more points he scored in the Dáil. All the while the Good Friday Agreement atrophied as Kenny’s government never asserted its right to be involved or consulted even in economic matters.

So perhaps the next time Micheál Martin gets up to blame the failure of the two governments since Kenny became taoiseach in 2011,  he might consider what he would have done in Sinn Féin’s position faced with an overtly biased British government and a disengaged Irish government.

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on

 February 19th 

FDNY BOXING MATCH The FDNY Bravest Boxing Team is back in action on Friday, March 30th when they take on the Gardia Siochana Boxing Club of the Irish National Police Service for the 2018 Transatlantic Championship. There are 8 bouts scheduled between the two departments who have split the first six meetings. This event will be held at Terminal 5 located at 610 W. 56th St., NY, NY. Proceeds will benefit Building Homes for Heroes. This organization builds mortgage free, handicap accessible homes for veterans returning home with severe injuries. Tickets cost $30 for General Admission and $50 for VIP Ringside and are on sale now at www.fdnyboxing.com.                                                                                                                                    41ST ANNUAL FDNY VS. NYPD RACE                                           On Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 0930 hours, the 41st  Annual FDNY VS. NYPD Race will be held in Central Park. All active and retired members are eligible to participate. Race starts at East 103rd Street in Central Park. Registration is at J.H.S. 13, 106th Street between Madison and Park, or online at Runsignup.com. Registration fee is $30 and includes a long sleeve shirt and beverages. For information, contact E-37/L-40 at 212-570-4237.   FDNY PHOENIX SOCIETY The FDNY Phoenix Society cordially invites you to the 2018 Lunar New Year Celebration, Year of the Dog, on Sunday, February 25, 2018, from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. Breakfast will be from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at PS 130 Elementary School, 143 Baxter Street, New York, NY. Parade lineup time is at 12:00 pm on Mott Street between Canal Street and Hester Street. Class A uniform is required. All Department Members, family and friends are welcome to march along with us. To RSVP, please contact David Lin, Recruitment, President, or Ben Chou, E298, VP, at FDNYPhoenixSociety@gmail.com.  Reply with full name, work location and contact info. For more  information, visit www.facebook.com/FDNYPhoenixSociety.

It is with great sadness That I inform you of the death of our sister Hibernian, Katherine M. ‘Kitty’ Geissler.

Posted by Jim on February 19, 2018

Dear Sister and Brother Hibernians,

 

It is with great sadness That I inform you of the death of our sister Hibernian, Katherine M. ‘Kitty’ Geissler.

Kitty was a LAOH National Life Member and the recipient of the first LAOH Mother Theresa Award.

============================

Please wear sashes.

Visitation:

Friday, February 23, 2018, 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM; Coffey Funeral Home – 91 North Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591

MASS of Christian Burial: Saturday, February 24, 2018, 10:00 AM. Transfiguration Church- 268 South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Interment: Saturday, February 24, 2018, 11:30 AM. Gate of Heaven Cemetery- Stevens Avenue, Hawthorne, New York 10532

Please stop and say a prayer for Kitty and her Family.

As our Sister, Kitty goes off to Tir N’anOg. Tir N’anOg is the place of the Blessed. There is no pain there. There is no sorrow. There is only great joy.

Weep but briefly for your loved one, For by now Kitty has obtained a pleasure that is unattainable on this Earthly Realm, For by now Kitty has seen the face of God.

 =========================== 

      Katherine M. ‘Kitty’ Geissler, a longtime resident of Tarrytown died February 18, 2018 at the age of 105. Kitty was born in County Limerick, Ireland on November 4, 1912. She was the daughter of James and Hannah Ring Bagnell. She immigrated to the United State in 1930 and married George R. Geissler on October 7, 1942.

    In 1938, Kitty joined the LAOH, Division 9 in Port Chester. The family moved to Tarrytown in 1951 and she joined the Division 11 which has since been named in her honor. Through the years she has served on every level of office including 10 consecutive terms as President. On the County level she also held many offices including that of President. She is well known throughout Hibernian circles and has been a delegate to most of the New York State and National Conventions. For several years she was a delegate to the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. She was an active member of the Irish American Association of Westchester, The Catholic Daughters, Ladies of Charity, Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Tarrytown Senior Citizens. She was a parishioner of Transfiguration Church and a member of their women’s Club.

    In 1979 Kitty was honored by the Irish American Association for her many charitable works on behalf of senior citizens, the sick and the infirmed, cancer patients, the mentally challenged and the Missions. At that time she was the first A.I.A. Irish Woman of the Year. In 1986, Kitty was Aide to Grand Marshal, Patrick Grimes in the Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day parade and in 1988 Aide to Grand marshal Bill Burke in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In 1997, Kitty was the first Grand Marshal of the Sleepy Hollow St. Patrick’s Parade. Kitty’s dedication and good works were recognized by the L.A.O.H. when she was awarded the first Mother Teresa award by the organization. Kitty was a dedicated Hibernian with numerous contributions, respected community member, proud mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She is truly a model of Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity who was dedicated to live and work with our Motto.  

    Kitty is survived by her daughters Alice Koraca and Mary Brady both of Tarrytown. She is also survived by her 8 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband George, her son George, her son-in-law Ralph Brady, her daughter-in-law Mary Geissler and her brother William Bagnell.

Yours in Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity

Mary Hogan Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians Inc

Sinn Fein chased support for letter urging Varadkar to seek law changes in north

Posted by Jim on

The Taoiseach has been urged to ensure citizens in Northern Ireland have the same rights as those in his jurisdiction.

Leo Varadkar has been urged to push for law changes in Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)11
Leo Varadkar has been urged to push for law changes in Northern Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sinn Fein mobilised its base in the Irish Republic to garner support for a letter from high-profile members of civic society urging the Taoiseach to push for law changes in Northern Ireland.

The letter from 100 prominent people in fields such as sport, law and the arts calls on Leo Varadkar to ensure citizens north of the border have the same rights as those in his jurisdiction.

A similar public letter was sent to the Taoiseach signed by high-profile nationalists in Northern Ireland before Christmas.

The latest letter – signed by well-known names such as musicians Christy Moore, Damien Dempsey, Glen Hansard and Frances Black – presses Mr Varadkar to lobby for legislation for Irish language speakers and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland – two of the key sticking points in the Stormont powersharing talks.

It also urges the Taoiseach to take action to ensure families impacted by the Troubles can get timely access to the courts. Long-running delays to conflict-related inquests is another unresolved issue at Stormont.

An email obtained by the Press Association indicates that Sinn Fein was involved in an organised nationwide effort to find individuals willing to sign the letter.

bpanews_ebb2e70b-7955-4cb8-9b88-cdb67a23aae8_embedded335083
Christy Moore is one of the signatories of a letter calling for Leo Varadkar to push for law changes in Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

The email sent last week by a senior party officer in the Irish Republic to council leaders across the state read: “We are seeking support from public figures at local and national level in the areas of the arts, culture, legal, business, community etc and so far have some 70 signatories including Christy Moore, Damien Dempsey, Glen Hansard and Frances Black.

“But there are also many more signatories without a national profile but who are well known in communities for the work that they do. And this is where you come in…

“We are looking for your help to get this up to 100 by the end of the day.

“Please get in touch with suggested names as well as a link person who will contact them.”

A Sinn Fein spokesman confirmed the party assisted in the endeavour.

“We were asked to assist by the organisers of this initiative in garnering support for a civic lobby in support of the rights-based agenda in the north,” he said.

“We are happy to do so, to give voice to the frustrations felt throughout Irish civic society at the denial of basic rights in the north.”

The December letter penned by figures from within northern nationalism was signed by well-known names such as All-Ireland-winning Tyrone GAA captain Peter Canavan, Republic of Ireland and West Brom footballer James McClean and Olympic boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon.

Unionist leaders risk steering Northern Ireland into uncharted waters

Posted by Jim on February 18, 2018

This article from The Detail provides for the US Congress an excellent summary of the steps that led to the impasse in Northern Ireland. It is objective and balanced. It highlights the salient issue that explains the retrograde steps of the DUP: ‘The DUP knew that the historic Unionist majority in Northern Ireland was being replaced by the growing Catholic/nationalist community. The party had a plan to woo Nationalists, but never put it into action. Recurring financial scandals undermined the DUP position and forced it to shore-up its base.’”—Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Unionist leaders risk steering Northern Ireland into uncharted waters
Steven McCaffery. The Detail. Belfast. Thursday,  February 15,  2018

DECADES ago the decline of a County Mayo town was chronicled in a book entitled “No One Shouted Stop”.

Locals were said to have been initially angry at the depiction of their area as a place ravaged by emigration and economic hardship, until they came to see that the author John Healy was trying to help. He was ringing an alarm bell.

As Unionist politicians continue to make decisions that are arguably destabilizing Northern Ireland, it seems there is no one within their ranks who is prepared to shout stop.

Northern Ireland is changing rapidly and Unionist politics has failed to keep pace. In fact, Brexit is seen by some Unionist politicians as a means of halting the process of change by creating a hard Border and forcing a deeper economic dependence on London.

There are voices within Unionism who know that this tactic cannot work. Some of those voices are likely to have backed the proposed deal to restore Stormont, but they seem to have been drowned out for now.

Almost 20 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, there is a real risk that it is being undone.

How has this happened and how has the Irish language become the focus of disagreement?

In 2007 Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley led the DUP into government with Sinn Féin, despite internal party tensions. Robinson and Paisley saw the strategic need to make the move and so pushed on.

But the seeds of this latest crisis were sown in what happened next.

The DUP knew that the historic Unionist majority in Northern Ireland was being replaced by the growing Catholic/nationalist community. The party had a plan to woo Nationalists, but never put it into action. Recurring financial scandals undermined the DUP position and forced it to shore-up its base.

Meanwhile, after 2010 the first of a series of weak Conservative Party governments came to power in Westminster and began a long courtship of the DUP. In Dublin, government parties became obsessed with the growth of Sinn Féin and viewed the peace process through that party political prism.

Northern nationalists came to believe the DUP was using Stormont to prioritize Unionist interests and that Sinn Féin was unable to counter it.

This is where the Irish language came to the fore.

Calls for an Irish language act to cater for the growing Irish language community and Irish medium school sector dated back to at least 2006, but the issue remained on the political backburner. It was the actions of DUP ministers that turned up the heat.

Gregory Campbell repeats his “curry my yoghurt” comments at a DUP conference


In 2014 the DUP’s Gregory Campbell singled out the Irish language in the Stormont chamber by replacing the phrase “go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle” with the words “curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer”.

He repeated the jibe at his party conference, adding: “We will never agree to an Irish Language Act at Stormont and we will treat their [Sinn Féin’s] entire wish list as no more than toilet paper. They better get used to it.”

In 2016 a DUP minister renamed a fisheries boat, replacing the Irish ‘Banríon Uladh’ title put in place by a Sinn Féin minister, with the English version `Queen of Ulster’.

By late 2016 controversy had erupted over the DUP role in the botched Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, with the projected loss of hundreds of millions of pounds to the public purse.

On December 23 that year DUP Communities Minister Paul Givan announced the withdrawal of a £50,000 grant scheme which allowed people from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend Irish lessons in Gaeltacht areas of Donegal. His letter to Irish language groups ended: “Happy Christmas and Happy New Year.”

Irish language activists organized public protests. The political temperature soared. Martin McGuinness pulled the plug on Stormont, forcing a snap election, during which Arlene Foster compared the granting of an Irish language act to the feeding of crocodiles. The touch paper was lit.

Thousands attended a rally in Belfast in May 2017 demanding an Irish language act.

Today the origins of the Irish language dispute are lost in a public debate about how an Irish language act might work. But the reality is that 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement promised “parity of esteem” for the British and Irish identities, an Irish language act has become Nationalism’s acid test.

A clumsy public debate on the technicalities of an Act has fogged the deeper question: ‘If a shared future does not have room for both the British and Irish traditions, then what does a shared future look like?’

Unionist politicians have painted themselves into a corner. If they baulk at a compromise now, while also pursuing policies likely to deliver a hard Brexit, then Northern Ireland will be entering uncharted territory. Is no one in Unionism ready to shout stop?

Right to remember our fallen comrades

Posted by Jim on

By Stepen Murney, Saoradh National Secretary

Easter 2017 saw thousands of Irish Republicans march defiant and proud
behind an impressive colour party in Derry at the Unfinished Revolution
Easter commemoration.

Truculently dressed, and following their orders as gaeilge, the 30
strong display marched through the city, before paying their respects to
Ireland’s fallen at Derry city cemetery.

Comrades young and old, male and female, veterans and youths all played
a part in the colour party. This represented the unique and impressive
mixture of activists signifying the diverse make up of Saoradh as an
organisation.

Since this extremely successful event, many members of the colour party
have been arrested, detained and interrogated by the RUC Crown Forces,
clearly nerved at the fact Saoradh can mobilise thousands of
revolutionary republicans on our streets.

Five Saoradh activists have been seized and detained by the RUC in the
past week in Derry alone in relation to this.

Unionist hysteria and Constitutional Nationalist opposition has resulted
in an obvious clampdown of any political alternative to the status quo.
Our enemies, in all guises, clearly don’t want us mobilising and
organising within our communities in this fashion.

They are worried and worried they should be. Our business is revolution
and this is something they fear greatly.

The excuse given for the arrests of our comrades focuses on the clothing
worn by the participants of the Easter march.

This is clearly an absurd excuse given the fact that former republicans
in Sinn Fein can put their activists on the street during commemorations
wearing full combat uniform including replica weapons and balaclavas
unhindered.

Loyalist Death squads can also freely display UDA and UVF insignia on
their clothing at various events whilst the RUC don’t bat an eyelid.

The difference in the treatment meted out by enemy forces is telling.
One rule for some is obvious.

The Unfinished Revolution march in Derry was a display of defiance and
opposition to British Occupation.

Saoradh is a militant, radical movement committed to ending British rule
in Ireland and establishing a socialist Republic. Therefore because of
who we are, and what we represent, we expect to be targeted by the
state.

As an organisation Saoradh will face down any and all attempts by our
enemies to quell dissent. It is our right to remember our fallen
comrades and volunteers in a way we see fitting.

* Saoradh’s annual Easter commemoration takes place on Saturday 31st
March at 2.30pm, leaving from the International Wall in West Belfast.

Media accused of fanning anti-Gaelic hate

Posted by Jim on

Poo

An element of sectarianism has surfaced in the the mainstream media as
extreme unionism rallied in opposition to the Irish language this week.

Several major news organisations, including the Irish Times and the
Guardian, used the language of violence to claim Gaelic was being used
by nationalists as “a weapon” in the peace process.

A Guardian editorial sparked anger when it said: “The darker truth here
is that Sinn Fein has chosen to weaponise [the Irish language] for
political ends, less to protect a minority than to antagonise
unionists”, and claimed the small number of Irish speakers in the North
— a result of centuries of persecution — justified it having no
special protection.

At the same time, fringe and militant unionists were given substantial
airtime to rally hatred against the language and the nationalist
community in general.

The worst offender was the BBC, a public broadcaster which is funded by
a television licence. Its presenter, Stephen Nolan, sought to deride the
Irish language by repeating anti-Irish comments previously uttered by
DUP MP Gregory Campbell.

In 2014, Campbell mocked the Irish language expression for ‘Thank you,
Chairperson’ [‘Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Chomhairle’] as “Curry my
yoghurt, can Coca-Cola”.  The phrase has since become a catch-cry for
anti-Gaelic sentiment.

On Nolan’s programme, the veteran broadcaster appeared to try to
belittle Niall O Donnghaile, an Irish speaker and Sinn Fein political
representative, by repeating the phrase directly into his face as
elements of the audience laughed.

Nolan’s choice of commentators this week also included extreme
anti-Irish unionist David McNarry, who vowed to tear down signage
carrying words in Gaelic.

“What I am actually advocating is unionism taking a stand now, saying
that ‘look, enough is enough’,” the former MP said. “It wouldn’t be
lawful and I think that is the notice that has to go out because there
will be resentment to this and there will be people who will feel as I
do, don’t want to break laws, never been in trouble in their lives
before but actually want to take a stand.”

Jim Allister of the North’s most extreme unionist party, ‘Traditional
Unionist Voice’, is frequently interviewed by Nolan. This week he sought
to increase hostility to the Irish language and claimed Irish language
legislation could “destabilise Northern Ireland”.

Nolan has also regularly promoted notorious flag protestor Jamie Bryson,
who is associated with widespread loyalist disturbances in 2013. His
frequent appearances on the Nolan Show have been linked to a recent
invitation to address a meeting of a Westminster parliamentary
committee. The leader of the cross-community Alliance Party, Naomi Long,
this week refused to appear before the committee because of Bryson’s
attendance.

In response to the media assault on his language, Irish speaker and
commentator Seamas O’Reilly wrote: “Why on earth should we indulge the
whims of people so systemically racist that they are ‘antagonised’ by
people speaking their native language in their own country?

“Why should that kind of small-mindedness be taken as a given?”

DUP CAN’T TOLERATE IRISH

Posted by Jim on

 

There is mounting concern that unionists in the north of Ireland are
incapable of treating nationalists with respect after the DUP suddenly
backed away from a deal which would have legislated for the rights for
Irish language speakers.

Twelve years after the DUP first signed up to an Irish Language Act in
the St Andrews Agreement, its senior members became panicked this week
by the prospect of that finally coming to pass. The legislation could
have meant the language becoming visible in unionist areas and would
have paved the way for the return of power-sharing in the north of
Ireland.

However, the arrival into Belfast of the British Prime Minister and
Irish Taoiseach on Monday, amid reports that a deal was to be signed,
generated a sectarian backlash among unionist extremists. On Wednesday
the nonplussed DUP leader Arlene Foster announced that the talks were at
an end.

Her party’s refusal to accept official status for the Irish language has
become a symbol of the party’s sense of supremacy over the nationalist
community, as well as its refusal to accept the ‘parity of esteem’
referred to in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The DUP has also refused to countenance the prospect of marriage
equality, adding to a growing conviction that the DUP may never yield on
equality issues.

British Direct Ruler Karen Bradley is due to update MPs at Westminster
next week, amid speculation of a possible Assembly election or a return
to full Direct Rule from London. Speaking during a walkabout in Belfast
on Friday, she said it had been “a difficult week” but said she believed
there was still a way to restore powersharing in Belfast.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said ‘a draft agreement was in
place’ before the DUP walked away from it. She revealed that there had
actually been a compromise plan for three related pieces of legislation,
on the Irish language, Ulster-Scots and cultural diversity.

However, Mrs Foster has insisted no draft agreement was in place. “I
regret that we didn’t reach an agreement because they were insisting on
having this free-standing Irish language act,” she said.

Both parties have refused to reveal specific details of the
negotiations, insisting that confidentiality is still required because
the process could e revived at some stage. No imminent attempt to
restart the talks is likely.

Sinn Fein negotiator Conor Murphy said that the “good faith” that has
existed during the negotiations “evaporated” with the DUP move on
Wednesday.

“We had reached an accommodation, everyone involved in the process
understood that, and the DUP failed to close the deal in relation to
that and abruptly called a halt to proceedings,” he said.

The 26 County Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, said the
collapse of negotiations was “hugely disappointing” and insisted there
was “no appetite” for a return to full Direct Rule from London. He said
he believed an “accommodation” on the key disputes was close and the
parties were just hammering out how the “basket of legislation” could be
presented.

“We didn’t see a final text from the two parties but we had a clear
understanding of where this was going,” Mr Coveney said.

At a press conference in Belfast, the Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald
said that by the end of last week the DUP and Sinn Fein had agreed a
draft agreement to restore Stormont. “At that time we advised the DUP
leadership that the deal should be closed before those opposed to it
could unpick what we had achieved,” she said.

But the DUP leader Arlene Foster said no draft agreement was in place
and that Sinn Fein “certainly didn’t have an offer of an Irish language
act”.

She later said she would not agree to anything that “diminishes the
Britishness of Northern Ireland” and claimed a Sinn Fein insistence on
the Irish Language Act would “hold Northern Ireland to ransom”.

“I am not going to do anything that will impinge on the lives of those
of us who don’t engage with the Irish language,” she said.

She accused the new Sinn Fein leader of  “bullying” and “trying to put
out propaganda.” She added that full Direct Rule “is always a second
best option… but it is the only option at the moment.”

Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who has remained involved in the
negotiations, insisted progress had been made despite the “step back” by
the DUP.

“The focus now is on getting the final bits and pieces tied down and
producing an agreement that is fair and balanced, based on equality and
the rights of citizens, and which creates the opportunity for more
progress in the time ahead,” he said.

“In a very real sense this is the last chance agreement.”

DUP CAN’T TOLERATE IRISH

Posted by Jim on

There is mounting concern that unionists in the north of Ireland are
incapable of treating nationalists with respect after the DUP suddenly
backed away from a deal which would have legislated for the rights for
Irish language speakers.

Twelve years after the DUP first signed up to an Irish Language Act in
the St Andrews Agreement, its senior members became panicked this week
by the prospect of that finally coming to pass. The legislation could
have meant the language becoming visible in unionist areas and would
have paved the way for the return of power-sharing in the north of
Ireland.

However, the arrival into Belfast of the British Prime Minister and
Irish Taoiseach on Monday, amid reports that a deal was to be signed,
generated a sectarian backlash among unionist extremists. On Wednesday
the nonplussed DUP leader Arlene Foster announced that the talks were at
an end.

Her party’s refusal to accept official status for the Irish language has
become a symbol of the party’s sense of supremacy over the nationalist
community, as well as its refusal to accept the ‘parity of esteem’
referred to in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The DUP has also refused to countenance the prospect of marriage
equality, adding to a growing conviction that the DUP may never yield on
equality issues.

British Direct Ruler Karen Bradley is due to update MPs at Westminster
next week, amid speculation of a possible Assembly election or a return
to full Direct Rule from London. Speaking during a walkabout in Belfast
on Friday, she said it had been “a difficult week” but said she believed
there was still a way to restore powersharing in Belfast.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said ‘a draft agreement was in
place’ before the DUP walked away from it. She revealed that there had
actually been a compromise plan for three related pieces of legislation,
on the Irish language, Ulster-Scots and cultural diversity.

However, Mrs Foster has insisted no draft agreement was in place. “I
regret that we didn’t reach an agreement because they were insisting on
having this free-standing Irish language act,” she said.

Both parties have refused to reveal specific details of the
negotiations, insisting that confidentiality is still required because
the process could e revived at some stage. No imminent attempt to
restart the talks is likely.

Sinn Fein negotiator Conor Murphy said that the “good faith” that has
existed during the negotiations “evaporated” with the DUP move on
Wednesday.

“We had reached an accommodation, everyone involved in the process
understood that, and the DUP failed to close the deal in relation to
that and abruptly called a halt to proceedings,” he said.

The 26 County Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, said the
collapse of negotiations was “hugely disappointing” and insisted there
was “no appetite” for a return to full Direct Rule from London. He said
he believed an “accommodation” on the key disputes was close and the
parties were just hammering out how the “basket of legislation” could be
presented.

“We didn’t see a final text from the two parties but we had a clear
understanding of where this was going,” Mr Coveney said.

At a press conference in Belfast, the Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald
said that by the end of last week the DUP and Sinn Fein had agreed a
draft agreement to restore Stormont. “At that time we advised the DUP
leadership that the deal should be closed before those opposed to it
could unpick what we had achieved,” she said.

But the DUP leader Arlene Foster said no draft agreement was in place
and that Sinn Fein “certainly didn’t have an offer of an Irish language
act”.

She later said she would not agree to anything that “diminishes the
Britishness of Northern Ireland” and claimed a Sinn Fein insistence on
the Irish Language Act would “hold Northern Ireland to ransom”.

“I am not going to do anything that will impinge on the lives of those
of us who don’t engage with the Irish language,” she said.

She accused the new Sinn Fein leader of  “bullying” and “trying to put
out propaganda.” She added that full Direct Rule “is always a second
best option… but it is the only option at the moment.”

Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who has remained involved in the
negotiations, insisted progress had been made despite the “step back” by
the DUP.

“The focus now is on getting the final bits and pieces tied down and
producing an agreement that is fair and balanced, based on equality and
the rights of citizens, and which creates the opportunity for more
progress in the time ahead,” he said.

“In a very real sense this is the last chance agreement.”

RADIO FREE EIREANN will be pre-empted for Special Fundraising Programming- as the WBAI fundraising drive continues. We thank everyone who pledged last week during our two hour special program!lo

Posted by Jim on February 16, 2018

  • 8

It is surely hard to fault the logic and common sense in this Editorial from the Irish News of Belfast

Posted by Jim on

It is surely hard to fault the logic and common sense in this Editorial from the Irish News of Belfast.

 And— it is must be added— it is  perfectly clear that extreme Unionists do not want to accept equality or show respect towards the Irish language, which is Unionist code language for disrespecting the Catholics of Northern Ireland. Anyone who does not understand this, does not understand the basic history of how Northern Ireland came to be created by the British “Government of Ireland Act, 1920.’ It was created TO BE an anti-Irish and anti-Catholic state. —Fr. Sean McManus

DUP wobble strengthens SF
Irish News Editorial.Belfast. Friday,February 16, 2018
Following the collapse of the Stormont talks, the British and Irish governments have the unenviable task of putting a fractured process back together amid recriminations over what was or was not agreed.

Arlene Foster’s statement bringing the process to a halt came as a surprise given the indications in recent days that a deal was on the table.

Indeed, the visit by Leo Varadkar and Theresa May on Monday was taken as a sign that positive news was in the offing although we can now see that their empty-handed departure was an ominous portent.

In the end, it was the possibility of some form of compromise on an Irish language act that has scuppered the deal. As word filtered out that agreement had been reached on a possible three-stranded package, Unionists became jumpy, fuelled by unsubstantiated speculation about what might be in the deal and outrage from the usual quarters.

Rather than hold her nerve and sell this opportunity to get back into government – no mean achievement given Sinn Féin’s year-long reluctance to do so – the DUP leader buckled under pressure, plunging all of us into the political unknown.

It is profoundly disappointing that we have reached this point.

According to Michelle O’Neill, an ‘accommodation’ had been reached with the DUP but they had failed to close the deal. Mary Lou McDonald yesterday went further, saying there was a draft agreement and set out some of the issues covered.

The DUP is dismissing any suggestion of a deal,  but it would explain why the two premiers arrived out of the blue in Belfast on Monday.

Collapsing the process after making progress on closing the gap between the two parties is a curious move by a leader who is looking increasingly peripheral as the DUP’s power base is focused on Westminster.

If anything, Mrs. Foster’s move will strengthen the new Sinn Féin leadership, who can point to their willingness to strike a deal only for Unionist intransigence to torpedo the prospect of a power-sharing administration.

Ultimately, both sides will have to get round a table once again but the DUP wobble shows it needs to prepare its supporters for movement.

DUP wobble strengthens SF

Posted by Jim on

It is surely hard to fault the logic and common sense in this Editorial from the Irish News of Belfast.

 And— it is must be added— it is perfectly clear that extreme Unionists do not want to accept equality or show respect towards the Irish language, which is Unionist code language for disrespecting the Catholics of Northern Ireland. Anyone who does not understand this, does not understand the basic history of how Northern Ireland came to be created by the British “Government of Ireland Act, 1920.’ It was created TO BE an anti-Irish and anti-Catholic state. —Fr. Sean McManus

DUP wobble strengthens SF
Irish News Editorial.Belfast. Friday,February 16, 2018
Following the collapse of the Stormont talks, the British and Irish governments have the unenviable task of putting a fractured process back together amid recriminations over what was or was not agreed.

Arlene Foster’s statement bringing the process to a halt came as a surprise given the indications in recent days that a deal was on the table.

Indeed, the visit by Leo Varadkar and Theresa May on Monday was taken as a sign that positive news was in the offing although we can now see that their empty-handed departure was an ominous portent.

In the end, it was the possibility of some form of compromise on an Irish language act that has scuppered the deal. As word filtered out that agreement had been reached on a possible three-stranded package, Unionists became jumpy, fuelled by unsubstantiated speculation about what might be in the deal and outrage from the usual quarters.

Rather than hold her nerve and sell this opportunity to get back into government – no mean achievement given Sinn Féin’s year-long reluctance to do so – the DUP leader buckled under pressure, plunging all of us into the political unknown.

It is profoundly disappointing that we have reached this point.

According to Michelle O’Neill, an ‘accommodation’ had been reached with the DUP but they had failed to close the deal. Mary Lou McDonald yesterday went further, saying there was a draft agreement and set out some of the issues covered.

The DUP is dismissing any suggestion of a deal,  but it would explain why the two premiers arrived out of the blue in Belfast on Monday.

Collapsing the process after making progress on closing the gap between the two parties is a curious move by a leader who is looking increasingly peripheral as the DUP’s power base is focused on Westminster.

If anything, Mrs. Foster’s move will strengthen the new Sinn Féin leadership, who can point to their willingness to strike a deal only for Unionist intransigence to torpedo the prospect of a power-sharing administration.

Ultimately, both sides will have to get round a table once again but the DUP wobble shows it needs to prepare its supporters for movement.

Crisis much bigger than Irish language act

Posted by Jim on

“ ‘Arlene Foster—who defected from the UUP [ Ulster Unionist Party] in opposition to political compromise made by David Trimble—seemed unwilling and unable to deliver a similar compromise on language rights. …The Irish language act—which is as much about the symbolism of respect as it is about the Act itself—had been the focus of the last few days.’

This article from today’s Irish News of Belfast is important reading for the US Congress. Remember the State of Northern Ireland was only created by the British ‘Government of Ireland Act, 1920’—whereas the ancient and venerable Irish language is 2,000 -years old. … Yet,  Arlene Foster acts as if Northern Ireland is 2,000 -years old and that the Irish language is less than 100 -years old. How can the Beloved Community—pending the inevitable re-unification of Ireland—be built up on such an awful and willful falsification of  history and the desecration of historical memory?”— Fr. Sean McManus

Crisis much bigger than Irish language act

Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, February 16, 2018

AS the dust settles on the doomed deal that never was, it seems clear that  20 years on from the Good Friday Agreement unionism and nationalism are in very different places.

There are aspects of political unionism that have not yet reconciled itself with the past and there are elements within the DUP who still ‘hold their nose’ while doing business with Sinn Féin and never really felt comfortable being in government with republicans.

What also seems clear after this week, is that those hard-line elements of the DUP are the ones who hold the balance of power.

‘Unionist outrage’ is an overused phrase but when details of the proposed draft agreement, with what would amount to an Irish language act, started to emerge late on Sunday night it was apparent the DUP had backed itself into a very intolerant corner.

Arlene Foster, who defected from the UUP in opposition to political compromise made by David Trimble, seemed unwilling and unable to deliver a similar compromise on language rights.

We could do an autopsy on the failed negotiations for ever and a day, but it won’t change the fact nationalists remain sceptical about the long term benefits of Stormont. The constant blocking of social and equality issues by the DUP – appears on the face of it at least – to suggest an unwillingness to adapt and modernize.

The Nationalist electorate, including young first time voters, came out in record numbers to give Sinn Féin a mandate after they collapsed the institutions and the message they sent was loud and clear.

The Irish language act—which is as much about the symbolism of respect as it is about the Act itself—had been the focus of the last few days.

But there are much wider issues and more deeply rooted problems that amount to a lack of trust between the two main parties.

Over the course of the last 20 years there have been many political crises, however, this time it is different.

Political rivals can work in government together. They don’t even have to particularly like each other, but where there is a lack of trust – that is almost impossible to overcome.

Arlene Foster may have satisfied the hard-liners in her party by collapsing the talks without compromise, but it may also cost her the leadership of the DUP.

By appeasing the ‘no surrender’ element of her party she’s fed a different kind of crocodile, and it will be back for more.

English and Irish newspapers put blame squarely on DUP… So, too, must the US Congress.

Posted by Jim on February 15, 2018

Foster’s position much weakened

Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Thursday, February 15, 2018

In the space of less than a week, the Stormont talks process has been surrounded by contrasting periods of considerable optimism, huge anticipation, growing concern and ultimately bitter disappointment.

The climate has largely been shaped by changes of mood within the DUP so it was probably appropriate that the end of the present round of discussions was signaled yesterday by a sharply negative statement from Arlene Foster.

All the indications are that the main parties, as well as the Irish and British governments, were ready to finalize a deal for the restoration of devolution which was vetoed at the 11th hour by the DUP leader’s internal opponents.

A return to the negotiating table is inevitable sooner or later but Mrs. Foster or her successor will plainly go there in a much weakened position. The DUP has an unusual way of doing business.

NO DEAL Theresa May humiliated by DUP partners after Northern Ireland government talks collapse after her visit

Harry Cole, Westminster Correspondent, The Sun.England.Thursday, February 15, 2018

THERESA MAY was left humiliated last night as a power sharing deal in Northern Ireland was dead in the water – less than 48 hours the PM flew to the province to herald a breakthrough.

Her ally and DUP boss Arlene Foster said there was “no prospect” of a deal, pointing to a return to direct rule from London.

Theresa May flew to Belfast earlier this week ahead of an expected deal
In a statement, which has effectively torpedoed talks aimed at ending the 13-month impasse at Stormont, Mrs. Foster said attempts to find a stable and sustainable resolution had been unsuccessful.

She said: “In our view, there is no current prospect of these discussions leading to an Executive being formed.”

And she called for direct rule from London: “It is now incumbent upon Her Majesty’s Government to set a budget and start making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure.”

The Stormont government collapsed last year in a row over a botched green energy scheme.

Since then divisions over issues including Irish language rights, same sex marriage and how to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled past have proved insurmountable.

But On Monday the Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadakar travelled to Stormont to encourage the region’s parties to finally end the deadlock

Mrs. May urged them to make “one final push” to strike a deal to salvage powersharing.

Afterwards, Mrs Foster said while the leaders were welcome, their presence proved a “bit of a distraction” as it interrupted negotiations. The DUP leader said the governments had been told in advance of their trip that “the deal wasn’t done”.

She said that she believed a deal was on the cards, and it was now time for representatives to work together
The DUP’s Simon Hamilton said: “I think the visit of the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach acted as a bit of a distraction at the beginning of the week.

“I don’t think it was entirely helpful in getting us to reach a successful conclusion.”

“I am sure, as all prime ministers get advice from time to time they can take that advice or they can ignore that advice. Certainly, in our view it acted as a distraction.”

Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland chief Michelle O’Neill said the party had stretched itself and blamed the DUP for collapsing a process aimed at rebuilding coalition government at Stormont after a 13-month suspension.

“It is so galling for Arlene Foster to falsely claim that‘ respect for the Unionist and British identity had not been reciprocated.’… To say that about the State of Northern Ireland that was artificially createded in 1920 by an Act of the British Government is truly mind boggling —a State that was created to be anti-Irish, anti-Catholic and anti-democratic….A State in which, in the not too distant past, it was illegal to fly the Irish flag.”— Fr. Sean McManus

Posted by Jim on

 

Foster says No

After DUP insists Irish language act is deal breaker, Dublin seeks hand in how North is governed

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, February 15, 2018
THE Dublin government last night signaled that it will be seeking direct input into how Northern Ireland is governed following the DUP’s decision to halt the latest effort to restore devolution.

Optimism that a deal between Stormont’s two largest parties could be brokered evaporated quickly yesterday afternoon as a statement from Arlene Foster said Sinn Féin’s desire for a free-standing Irish language act meant the negotiations were at an impasse.

The DUP leader, pictured, called for the immediate imposition of direct rule, saying the British government needed to set a regional budget and start making policy decisions.

However, nationalists appear determined to resist any plan for the north to be governed solely by the Tory-DUP partnership.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said direct rule was “not an option”, while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called on the two governments to “establish the intergovernmental conference”.

In a brief statement, Tánaiste Simon Coveney appeared to echo December’s remarks by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who said his government would expect to have a “real and meaningful involvement” in Northern Ireland affairs if efforts to restore devolution failed.

“As co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, the UK and Irish governments have an obligation to uphold and protect the letter and spirit of that agreement,” Mr. Coveney said.

“We will need to reflect in the coming days on how best to do that.”

Secretary of State Karen Bradley urged all the parties to “reflect on the circumstances which have led to this and their positions, both now and in the future”.

She said the British government needed to consider “practical steps” and that in the absence of an executive, it would have to take “challenging decisions”.

DUP blamed for collapsing efforts to restore devolution

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, February 15, 2018

THE DUP was last night blamed for collapsing efforts to restore devolution after the latest round of negotiations came to an abrupt and unsuccessful conclusion.

Arlene Foster’s late afternoon statement took most observers by surprise as there had been an expectation that differences between Stormont’s two biggest parties could be resolved by the end of this week.

However, it appears the DUP leadership was spooked by unease within the party ranks and open opposition among broader unionism to Sinn Féin’s demand for an Irish language act.

“Sinn Féin’s insistence on a stand alone Irish language act means that we have reached an impasse,” Mrs. Foster said in a statement.

She claimed respect for the “unionist and British identity” had not been reciprocated by republicans and that the deal as it stood was not a “fair and balanced package”.

The DUP leader signaled an immediate desire for direct rule by calling on the British government to set a regional budget and to start “making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure”.

At a Stormont press conference, DUP negotiator Simon Hamilton said the visit of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday had hindered efforts to secure a deal.

“I don’t think it was entirely helpful in getting us to reach a successful conclusion,” he said.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said her party had negotiated in “good faith” and that an “accommodation” had been reached with the DUP leadership.

But she blamed the DUP for failing to “close the deal”.

“They have now collapsed this process,” she said.

“These issues are not going away.”

Ms. O’Neill, pictured, said she would be in contact with the British and Irish governments and urged the DUP to reflect on its position.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he “regretted” the DUP statement and said “power sharing and working together are the only way forward for Northern Ireland”.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney described yesterday’s developments as “very disappointing”

He said the Dublin government’s role as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement meant it had an “obligation to uphold and protect the letter and spirit” of the 1998 accord.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley urged all the parties to “reflect on the circumstances which have led to this and their positions, both now and in the future”.

“The position of the UK government remains the same – devolved government is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland and is best for the union,” she said.

“I believe the basis for an accommodation still exists.”

Mrs. Bradley said she now needed to consider “practical steps” but that in the absence of an executive, the British government would have to take “challenging decisions”.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called for the details of the proposed deal to be published.

He said his party would resist efforts to “hand power to a Tory/DUP government”.

“The balance underpinning this place is that nationalism and unionism must work together – that’s a reality that some still fail to face,” he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann also called on Stormont’s two biggest parties to publish details of what had been agreed to date.

“Print it, publish it online – do it whatever way they want, but it is vitally important that the people of Northern Ireland know what accommodation they did reach,” he said.

“It’s time for openness and transparency and for both parties to let everyone know where they got to, outside a select few in the leadership of each party.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long accused the two governments of being “too optimistic”.

She said the DUP and Sinn Féin had been “stringing them along”.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith said it was “desperately disappointing news, especially as there had been widespread hope last week that a deal might be reached”.

Blaming the “DUP’s unwillingness to accept legislation to support the Irish language or marriage equality” for the collapse he said:

“Karen Bradley will now have to explain how she hopes to get the DUP back to the table, and if that proves impossible, how she is going to take forward issues such as equal marriage, as well as dealing with tough decisions on health, education and infrastructure that have been left unresolved for over 400 days.”

The leadership and willingness to compromise that forged peace 20 years ago has clearly been lacking

Irish language bogeyman may haunt former first minister for years to come

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, February 15, 2018

FOR months the DUP has been saying that it was ready to restore the institutions without delay yet when it came to the crunch and agreement looked in sight, Arlene Foster effectively pulled the plug on the entire process.

With her previous statements on an Irish language act she had clearly painted herself into a corner but even if the former First Minister had been willing to concede ground, elements within her party wouldn’t let her.

In recent weeks,  we’ve been hearing that there was the outline of a deal and certainly the Taoiseach and Prime Minister believed agreement was near when they arrived in Belfast on Monday. It quickly became apparent that their optimism was misplaced but hope remained that matters could be sorted by the end of the week.

Now we are in a situation as bleak as any faced since the institutions collapsed 13 months ago.

Because maneuvering  this process have been so tightly guarded we may never find out where exactly the pressure point lay.

Was itmore to Nationalists than it would give to Unionists, though this has more to do with a failure to implement previous commitments rather than any inevitable slide towards Irish unity.

As he deputized for an absent DUP leader at Stormont yesterday, Simon Hamilton’s assertion that Republicans showed a lack of respect for Unionists and Britishness sounded more like deflective rhetoric than pin-pointing a red line that his party could not cross.

Portraying Sinn Féin as unreasonable appears designed to mask divisions within the DUP ranks and quell unease among unionism’s grassroots.

It’s hard to believe Sinn Féin is shedding too many tears but nobody is likely to regard the political uncertainty ushered in by Mrs. Foster’s statement as a positive development. Michelle O’Niell laid blame for failing to close the deal at the DUP’s door and given the mood of recent days it’s hard to argue with her.

Although the DUP is ostensibly happier than the other parties with direct rule overseen by a Tory government that relies on [DUP] support for survival, that arrangement is fragile and could collapse at any time.

Meanwhile, nationalists will not accept the imposition of direct rule without any input from Dublin and the manner in which the talks concluded, coupled with Brexit, means they’ll likely find a sympathetic ear south of The Border.

When the smoke clears and the recrimination dies down, questions inevitably will be asked about Arlene Foster’s judgment and her leadership qualities.

It appears no effort was made to prepare Unionism for concessions and instead she created an Irish language bogeyman that may haunt the former first minister for years to come.

For the foreseeable future Mrs. Foster will be the leader without office, becoming increasingly irrelevant as her MPs steal the limelight and make the possibility of compromise more distant.

It now looks inevitable that the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement will pass with the institutions mothballed and the possibility of devolution remote. The kind of leadership and willingness to compromise that helped forge peace 20 years ago has clearly been lacking and the optimism that greeted the accord has all but disappeared.



John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, February 15, 2018
THE Dublin government last night signaled that it will be seeking direct input into how Northern Ireland is governed following the DUP’s decision to halt the latest effort to restore devolution.

Optimism that a deal between Stormont’s two largest parties could be brokered evaporated quickly yesterday afternoon as a statement from Arlene Foster said Sinn Féin’s desire for a free-standing Irish language act meant the negotiations were at an impasse.

The DUP leader, pictured, called for the immediate imposition of direct rule, saying the British government needed to set a regional budget and start making policy decisions.

However, nationalists appear determined to resist any plan for the north to be governed solely by the Tory-DUP partnership.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said direct rule was “not an option”, while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called on the two governments to “establish the intergovernmental conference”.

In a brief statement, Tánaiste Simon Coveney appeared to echo December’s remarks by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who said his government would expect to have a “real and meaningful involvement” in Northern Ireland affairs if efforts to restore devolution failed.

“As co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, the UK and Irish governments have an obligation to uphold and protect the letter and spirit of that agreement,” Mr. Coveney said.

“We will need to reflect in the coming days on how best to do that.”

Secretary of State Karen Bradley urged all the parties to “reflect on the circumstances which have led to this and their positions, both now and in the future”.

She said the British government needed to consider “practical steps” and that in the absence of an executive, it would have to take “challenging decisions”.

DUP blamed for collapsing efforts to restore devolution

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, February 15, 2018

THE DUP was last night blamed for collapsing efforts to restore devolution after the latest round of negotiations came to an abrupt and unsuccessful conclusion.

Arlene Foster’s late afternoon statement took most observers by surprise as there had been an expectation that differences between Stormont’s two biggest parties could be resolved by the end of this week.

However, it appears the DUP leadership was spooked by unease within the party ranks and open opposition among broader unionism to Sinn Féin’s demand for an Irish language act.

“Sinn Féin’s insistence on a stand alone Irish language act means that we have reached an impasse,” Mrs. Foster said in a statement.

She claimed respect for the “unionist and British identity” had not been reciprocated by republicans and that the deal as it stood was not a “fair and balanced package”.

The DUP leader signaled an immediate desire for direct rule by calling on the British government to set a regional budget and to start “making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and infrastructure”.

At a Stormont press conference, DUP negotiator Simon Hamilton said the visit of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday had hindered efforts to secure a deal.

“I don’t think it was entirely helpful in getting us to reach a successful conclusion,” he said.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said her party had negotiated in “good faith” and that an “accommodation” had been reached with the DUP leadership.

But she blamed the DUP for failing to “close the deal”.

“They have now collapsed this process,” she said.

“These issues are not going away.”

Ms. O’Neill, pictured, said she would be in contact with the British and Irish governments and urged the DUP to reflect on its position.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he “regretted” the DUP statement and said “power sharing and working together are the only way forward for Northern Ireland”.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney described yesterday’s developments as “very disappointing”

He said the Dublin government’s role as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement meant it had an “obligation to uphold and protect the letter and spirit” of the 1998 accord.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley urged all the parties to “reflect on the circumstances which have led to this and their positions, both now and in the future”.

“The position of the UK government remains the same – devolved government is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland and is best for the union,” she said.

“I believe the basis for an accommodation still exists.”

Mrs. Bradley said she now needed to consider “practical steps” but that in the absence of an executive, the British government would have to take “challenging decisions”.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called for the details of the proposed deal to be published.

He said his party would resist efforts to “hand power to a Tory/DUP government”.

“The balance underpinning this place is that nationalism and unionism must work together – that’s a reality that some still fail to face,” he said.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann also called on Stormont’s two biggest parties to publish details of what had been agreed to date.

“Print it, publish it online – do it whatever way they want, but it is vitally important that the people of Northern Ireland know what accommodation they did reach,” he said.

“It’s time for openness and transparency and for both parties to let everyone know where they got to, outside a select few in the leadership of each party.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long accused the two governments of being “too optimistic”.

She said the DUP and Sinn Féin had been “stringing them along”.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith said it was “desperately disappointing news, especially as there had been widespread hope last week that a deal might be reached”.

Blaming the “DUP’s unwillingness to accept legislation to support the Irish language or marriage equality” for the collapse he said:

“Karen Bradley will now have to explain how she hopes to get the DUP back to the table, and if that proves impossible, how she is going to take forward issues such as equal marriage, as well as dealing with tough decisions on health, education and infrastructure that have been left unresolved for over 400 days.”

The leadership and willingness to compromise that forged peace 20 years ago has clearly been lacking

Irish language bogeyman may haunt former first minister for years to come

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, February 15, 2018

FOR months the DUP has been saying that it was ready to restore the institutions without delay yet when it came to the crunch and agreement looked in sight, Arlene Foster effectively pulled the plug on the entire process.

With her previous statements on an Irish language act she had clearly painted herself into a corner but even if the former First Minister had been willing to concede ground, elements within her party wouldn’t let her.

In recent weeks,  we’ve been hearing that there was the outline of a deal and certainly the Taoiseach and Prime Minister believed agreement was near when they arrived in Belfast on Monday. It quickly became apparent that their optimism was misplaced but hope remained that matters could be sorted by the end of the week.

Now we are in a situation as bleak as any faced since the institutions collapsed 13 months ago.

Because maneuvering  this process have been so tightly guarded we may never find out where exactly the pressure point lay.

Was itmore to Nationalists than it would give to Unionists, though this has more to do with a failure to implement previous commitments rather than any inevitable slide towards Irish unity.

As he deputized for an absent DUP leader at Stormont yesterday, Simon Hamilton’s assertion that Republicans showed a lack of respect for Unionists and Britishness sounded more like deflective rhetoric than pin-pointing a red line that his party could not cross.

Portraying Sinn Féin as unreasonable appears designed to mask divisions within the DUP ranks and quell unease among unionism’s grassroots.

It’s hard to believe Sinn Féin is shedding too many tears but nobody is likely to regard the political uncertainty ushered in by Mrs. Foster’s statement as a positive development. Michelle O’Niell laid blame for failing to close the deal at the DUP’s door and given the mood of recent days it’s hard to argue with her.

Although the DUP is ostensibly happier than the other parties with direct rule overseen by a Tory government that relies on [DUP] support for survival, that arrangement is fragile and could collapse at any time.

Meanwhile, nationalists will not accept the imposition of direct rule without any input from Dublin and the manner in which the talks concluded, coupled with Brexit, means they’ll likely find a sympathetic ear south of The Border.

When the smoke clears and the recrimination dies down, questions inevitably will be asked about Arlene Foster’s judgment and her leadership qualities.

It appears no effort was made to prepare Unionism for concessions and instead she created an Irish language bogeyman that may haunt the former first minister for years to come.

For the foreseeable future Mrs. Foster will be the leader without office, becoming increasingly irrelevant as her MPs steal the limelight and make the possibility of compromise more distant.

It now looks inevitable that the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement will pass with the institutions mothballed and the possibility of devolution remote. The kind of leadership and willingness to compromise that helped forge peace 20 years ago has clearly been lacking and the optimism that greeted the accord has all but disappeared.

Talks collapse as DUP block Irish Language Act

Posted by Jim on February 14, 2018

The current phase of political talks in Belfast has ended after unionist
hardliners in the DUP rejected measures to increase recognition for the
Irish language in the north of Ireland.

The latest crash in the political process came despite fresh enthusiasm
earlier this week with the arrival into Belfast of the British Prime
Minister Theresa May and the 26 County Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. The talks
participants and the two governments had again sought to inject momentum
into the efforts to restore power-sharing in the north of Ireland, which
have now collapsed six times in the last thirteen months.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose party holds the balance of power at
Westminster, today said there is “no prospect” of an agreement to
restore power-sharing and admitted there are still “serious and
significant differences” between her party and Sinn Fein. She called on
her Tory colleagues to reassert full direct control over the north of
Ireland.

The latest phase of the process began over three weeks ago and had been
reported to be moving steadily towards a deal across a range of issues.
However, Ms Foster has now described the negotiations as “unsuccessful”.
She said the DUP and Sinn Fein had been unable to reach agreement on a
long-delayed promised Irish Language Act, which would have enshrined the
rights of Irish langage speakers in law.

The 2006 St Andrews Agreements included an Irish Language Act to give
legal status to Irish, which should have paved the way for greater use
of Irish on street signs and in public bodies. However, that legislation
was frustrated when the DUP repeatedly blocked it at the Stormont
Assembly in Belfast.

The current crisis began in January 2017 with the resignation of Sinn
Fein’s late Deputy First Minster at Stormont, Martin McGuinness. He quit
in response to still unresolved allegations of corruption against Ms
Foster and her party. The integrity of the political institutions set up
under the peace process were then called into question, as well as the
DUP’s commitment to the implementation of equality and civil rights
measures, including an Irish Language Act.

There had been high hopes in certain circles that a deal to include an
Irish Language Act could be reached this week. Monday saw a familiar
high-profile effort to recreate the ‘hothouse atmosphere’ and ‘media
circus’ beloved by the two governments and main television networks.

Speaking in Belfast, Theresa May urged the North’s political leaders to
make “one final push”. With public pressure building for a resolution,
Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy urged the “DUP need to make up their mind up
about whether they are up for a deal or not”.

However, Arlene Foster yesterday condemned the involvement of the
British Prime Minister as a “distraction” and this evening, the DUP’s
powerful ‘backwoodsmen’ were again claiming credit for vetoing a measure
they fear could increase the visibility of the Irish language in their
areas.

Ms Foster said: “Despite our best efforts, serious and significant gaps
remain between ourselves and Sinn Fein especially on the issue of the
Irish language.

“I have made it consistently clear that unionists will not countenance a
stand-alone or free standing Irish Language Act. Sinn Fein’s insistence
on a stand-alone Irish Language Act means that we have reached an
impasse.”

She called for all powers of government in the north of Ireland to be
returned to London.

“It is now incumbent upon Her Majesty’s Government to set a budget and
start making policy decisions about our schools, hospitals and
infrastructure,” she said. “Important decisions impacting on everyone in
Northern Ireland have been sitting in limbo for too long.”

In a brief statement to the media, the British Direct Ruler in Ireland,
Karen Bradley, claimed “a basis for accommodation still exists”.

In a tweet, the 26 County Foreign Minister said he was “very
disappointed” by the DUP statement. “NI needs a Govt,” he said. “As
co-guarantors of Good Friday Agreement, the UK and Irish governments
have an obligation to uphold and protect the letter and spirit of that
Agreement. We will need to reflect in the coming days on how best to do
that.”

In a statement this evening, Sinn Fein’s new Deputy Leader, Michelle
O’Neill, said:

“Sinn Fein over the past 13 months worked to restore the institutions on
the basis of respect, integrity and equality for all sections of
society.

“When this latest round of talks was announced in January, I said a
short, sharp and focused negotiation was required to resolve the
outstanding issues of rights and equality available everywhere else in
the islands.

“Sinn Fein engaged, we worked in good faith, we stretched ourselves. We
had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP. The DUP
failed to close the deal. They have now collapsed this process.

“These issues are not going away. Sinn Fein are now in contact with both
governments and we will set out our considered position tomorrow. The
DUP should reflect on their position.”

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on

February 14th 

SSG CHRIS ENGELDRUM FDNY VFW POST 12033 The SSG Chris Engeldrum FDNY VFW Post 12033 would like to extend an invitation to all FDNY members to attend the funeral of Army Private 1st Class Emmanuel Mensah. Private 1st Class Emmanuel Mensah died on December 28th, 2017, after rescuing 4 people during the 4th Alarm at Bronx Box 3303 2263 Prospect Ave. The US Army posthumously awarded him The Medal of Valor for his actions on that day. The funeral will be held at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 627 East 187th Street, Bronx, NY 10458 on Saturday, February 17th, 2018, at 10:00 am.

McNarry of UUP will pull down any street sign that is in Irish.

Posted by Jim on February 13, 2018

“Further Taliban-like disrespect and contempt for the ancient and venerable Irish language. Whence such hatred and ignorance? How can such a venemous attitude build up the Beloved Community in Northern Ireland?”—Fr. Sean McManus


David Young Press Association. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ukip’s former leader in Northern Ireland has said he would break the law to pull down an Irish language sign if one was erected on his street.

David McNarry, a one-time senior member of the Ulster Unionist Party, compared his potential unlawful activity to the suffragette movement.

The former Assembly member was commenting on the prospect of an Irish Language Act featuring in any deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP to restore powersharing.

Mr McNarry said, if such legislation resulted in Irish language signs being placed on the Co Down street where he lives, he would haul it down.

He told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show that erecting gaelic signs in unionist areas would be “offensive and disrespectful” to his culture.

“What I am actually advocating is unionism taking a stand now, saying that ‘look, enough is enough’,” he said.

“We don’t need Irish language signs at the bottom of my road. I know the name of my road, I know where I am going when I go up it.”

He added: “I would take the sign down. It wouldn’t be lawful and I think that is the notice that has to go out because there will be resentment to this and there will be people who will feel as I do, don’t want to break laws, never been in trouble in their lives before but actually want to take a stand.”

Mr McNarry said such signage would be about changing the culture of Northern Ireland from a “British dimension to a covert Irish dimension”.

The main sticking point preventing the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland is the Irish language.

Sinn Féin wants a standalone piece of legislation to protect speakers, an Irish language act, but the DUP has long insisted it would only countenance new laws if they also incorporate other cultures, such as Ulster Scots.

There was speculation over the weekend that three pieces of legislation, an Irish language act, an Ulster Scots act and a broader culture act, could be a means to satisfy both sides.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning government since January 2017 and several rounds of talks to resolve the crisis have failed.

However, speculation has been growing that a deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP is imminent.

The DUP/Sinn Féin-led coalition imploded last January amid a row over a botched green energy scheme.

That rift subsequently widened to take in long-running disputes over culture, social issues and legacy.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar travelled to Stormont on Monday to encourage the region’s parties to finally end the impasse.

Theresa May urged them to make “one final push” to strike a deal to salvage powersharing.

DUP concerned new Stormont deal may favor Sinn Fein more

Posted by Jim on

“In 2014 Gregory Campbell boasted to the DUP party conference to wild applause: ‘We’ll say it slowly so you understand Caitriona (Ruane) and Gerry – we will never agree to your Irish Language Act. Do you understand? The paper your wish list is written on, well, we’ll just regard it as toilet paper’.”

Suzanne Breen. Belfast Telegraph. Tuesday, February 13 2018

A DUP insider has expressed concerns that the deal under consideration at Stormont offers Sinn Fein more than it does their party.

The source blamed the failure to finalize an agreement yesterday on continuing differences over the Irish Language Act.

“There is more in the deal currently proposed that benefits Sinn Fein than the DUP,” they said. “There also isn’t enough there to protect the institutions from being collapsed again by Sinn Fein.”

The source said it was wrong tois no power struggle between Westminster and Stormont. But individuals in both groups have raised key issues,” they said.

DUP and Sinn Fein leaders both insisted yesterday that good progress had been made in the talks to restore power-sharing.

Arlene Foster and Mary Lou McDonald were speaking as the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach travelled to Stormont to encourage the parties to finalize an agreement.

Theresa May called for “one final push” to secure a deal and Leo Varadkar said he was “very hopeful” of an agreement being brokered this week.

Mrs Foster said: “There isn’t a deal yet but there is very good progress and we will keep at it and continue to work on that progress.”

She described the tone of the discussions as “very good” and said the DUP would “continue to have conversations with Sinn Fein around the outstanding matters”.

Mrs Foster said: “It is about finding”frustrated at the pace of progress, we all are as well”.

Ms McDonald said: “We believe that we are close to an agreement which, certainly, we can put to our grassroots and to the community as a whole.” She acknowledged “we are not exactly there just yet” but maintained “there is nothing insurmountable if there is the political will”.

There were no bilateral talks between the two big parties yesterday and the DUP spent much of the day in internal meetings. “Clearly we need to meet, clearly we need to resolve the outstanding issues,” Ms McDonald added.

The Prime Minister described her discussions with the parties as “full and frank” and was optimistic about progress. Mrs May said: “The DUP and Sinn Fein have been working hard to close the remaining gaps.”

Mr Varadkar said there was a “lot of work to do” but progress was going in the “right direction”. The Taoiseach and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney held discussions with all the parties except the DUP. It is understood that the party felt that a meeting was inappropriate because the talks related to the internal affairs of Northern Ireland.

UUP leader Robin Swann hit out that the talks remained “an exclusive two-party process” and said a deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein still wasn’t over the line.

“We made clear to the Prime Ministerdiscussions but we remain excluded from the process.

“If the intention is to form a stable and effective Executive, then this talks process would need to move to the next stage very rapidly,” he said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood claimed the Prime Minister and Taoiseach had been brought to sign-off on a deal but were “instead left embarrassed by the DUP and Sinn Fein”.

“The opportunity is still there to get this deal over the line but it will require a level of leadership and courage that has evaded these parties for far too long. Instead of allowing these parties to run the show, both Governments need to drive this process to a conclusion,” he said.

Alliance leader Naomi Long said any deal must be “futureproofed and sustainable”. She said reform of the petition of concern was essential “to prevent any future difficult decisions destabilizing a new Executive and Assembly”.

Mrs Long added: “It is vital not only we see an Executive restored, but it is stable and capable of addressing the major political, social and financial challenges which face us. Anything less will fail to restore public confidence in politics and the institutions.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said a “DUP climb-down” on the Irish language appeared increasingly likely. The DUP was switching from “curried yoghurt to humble pie”, he claimed.

“In 2014 Gregory Campbell boasted to the DUP party conference to wild applause: ‘We’ll say it slowly so you understand Caitriona (Ruane) and Gerry – we will never agree to your Irish Language Act. Do you understand? The paper your wish list is written on well, we’ll just regard it as toilet paper’.

“A question which the DUP now has to face is – is the Sinn Fein wish list still ‘toilet paper’ or is it now the Program for Government?” Mr. Allister asked

Rebel Cork raises its Head again

Posted by Jim on February 10, 2018

Sinister agenda of prison authorities

 

Republican prisoners have condemned the authorities in Maghaberry prison
over a new clampdown on educational and historical materials at the
jail.

The latest incident involves the memoir of former IRA diretor of
operations, ‘My Life in the IRA’ by Mick Ryan. The history book was
released earlier this month and presents a Volunteers’ account of the
IRA border campaign of the 1950s. However, the book was refused to
prisoner Connor Highes and then banned by the prison authorities,
ostensibly on account of the cover image which appears on the book.
A spokesperson for prisoner support group Cogus said Hughes had been
told it was due to the “outline of an old 50s rifle” on the cover.

Other items which have recently been banned include the DVD of the
historical documentary ’66 days’ on the 1981 hunger strike. It was
prohibited just days before it was broadcast on the BBC.

The Cogus spokesperson described the move as “sectarian” and “alludes to an agenda that is both anti-Irish and anti-nationalist.

They said: “This prohibition outlines a deeper agenda in which the prison
administration still harbours a closed mindset that refuses to
acknowledge any narrative but their own regarding the hunger strike of
1981, and furthermore shows the lengths that the administration wil go
to censor a different narrative”.

‘ANTI-BRITISH’

Meanwhile, a Cork County councillor has been branded “anti-British” by
unionists following his motion that the local authority oppose the
extradition of Irish prisoners to the North of Ireland due to the
practice of full-body strip searching at Maghaberry prison.

The former Sinn Fein councillor had a motion passed by Cork County
Council opposing the brutal practice last month. The motion has been criticised
in the North with Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister saying
it is “cloaked in a diatribe of anti-British rhetoric”. Democratic
Unionist Party MP Jeffrey Donaldson claimed the motion was an excuse for
“anti-British sentiment”.

A committee of the Dublin parliament and a number of human rights groups
have also raised concerns about the practice of strip-searching at
Maghaberry. Mr McCarthy said it is a violation of the European Human
Rights Convention.

He said his concerns are not about nationality, but human rights and
fears the situation will worsen once Britain exits the EU.

“This is not anti-British, it’s a human rights issue. My wife is
English. My mother is English and all one side of my family is British,”
he told the Cork Evening Echo.

“Yes, I’m an Irish republican. Yes, I’m a former Sinn Fein councillor
and a former prisoner myself but I’m also a politician and this issue is
purely about human rights. If it was any other group of prisoners that
were receiving the same kind of treatment as republican prisoners, I’d
be speaking out as well,” he added.

Mr McCarthy has called for staff at Maghaberry to use search technology
instead of subjecting prisoners to full body strip searches, which he
has described as cruel. “The technology is there,” he said.

Gardai raid homes of republicans

Posted by Jim on

 

In a series of early morning raids in Dublin this week, eight
republicans and their families were subjected to armed police forcing
entry to their homes.

One home targeted by armed and masked men was occupied by a woman and
her two 12 year old daughters. In another home, a 15 year old member of
Saoradh’s youth group, Eistigi, was held at gun point by screaming
members of the ‘Emergency Response Unit’, leaving him shaking with
fear.

Personal property was seized including phones, laptops and other
computers. The confiscated items included those belonging to children
and work related equipment. In several cases the legally required
receipt for seized items was not issued.

Saoradh estimated the number of Gardai involved in these raids is 60.
“With recent cuts to overtime and the lack of rural policing along with
the high profile gangland feud in Dublin and the drugs epidemic, this
is a shocking misuse of resources,” they said.

Those targeted had been engaged in normal political activity,
highlighting national issues such as internment and the homelessness
crisis, as well as local issues like road safety.

“Several of the activists targeted yesterday are vocal in their
condemnation of the 26 county administration,” Saoradh said. “They have
faced ongoing harassment and intimidation from the state while
providing aid on the streets. These raids are a blatant attempt to stop
republicans embarrassing the state by showing how they have failed the
people.

“Saoradh will continue to campaign for and help the victims of this
crisis, regardless of the efforts to silence our activists.”

The Civil Rights Association

Posted by Jim on

Contrasting views of the North’s Civil Rights Association and how it
relates to where we are as we approach the 50th anniversary of its first
campaign.
 

‘WE HAVE COME FULL CIRCLE’

 

By Sinn Fein Chairman Declan Kearney (for eamonnmallie.com)

 

Billy Nelis was an ordinary man. He was a child of the orange state;
born in 1932.

He and his generation and their parents experienced first hand the
injustice of the northern state.

When the Civil Rights Movement was formed they stood up in their tens of
thousands to support its demands.

Billy died on Friday and his burial yesterday coincided with the 46th
anniversary weekend of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry city.

That was apposite. He took part in the march and stood in the killing
grounds of the Bogside.

That day in 1972 British soldiers killed 14 unarmed marchers who were
engaged in peaceful protest against internment without trial in the
north of Ireland.

One week previously another anti-internment protest was attacked by
British soldiers on Magilligan strand.

Civil rights protestors had been attacked since the first demonstrations
began.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the famous marches from
Coalisland to Dungannon, and at Duke Street in Derry city.

Infamous images of the RUC beating protestors at Duke Street were
broadcast around the world by the international media.

The Civil Rights Movement gave expression to the popular outrage against
the injustice and discrimination in housing, jobs and right to vote
which were systemic within the northern state.

As the repression of democratic rights intensified alongside the
redeployment of British combat forces and reintroduction of internment,
northern nationalism rose to challenge the actions of the state.

The popular momentum of the Civil Rights Movement swept right across
society, especially in the north, but importantly it also reached into
the southern state.

I have memories as a wee fella attending Civil Rights Movement
anti-internment protests in Toomebridge among other children and people
of all generations. I can remember being sworn to secrecy when being
brought to a location where civil rights leaflets and pamphlets were
being discreetly printed… (and thinking for many years afterwards that
the monks were terrible cooks!)

Years later I upset a very superficial university seminar discussion on
the origins of the Civil Rights Movement by setting out the historic
reality that the civil rights campaign was inspired by the Campaign for
Social Justice, and also directly by the strategic decision of the IRA
and Sinn Fein leaderships at that time.

Through the medium of the Wolfe Tone Society the Army and Sinn Fein
committed to building alliances with other democrats, trade unionists,
communists and many others to demand state reform.

That culminated in the formation of the NI Civil Rights Association, or
Civil Rights Movement in 1967.

The leaderships of both the IRA and Sinn Fein encouraged their activists
to organise and support the Civil Rights Movement.

Veteran republicans like Kevin Agnew and Pat Shivers whom I grew up
knowing well played key roles in developing the Civil Rights Movement in
counties Antrim and Derry.

Kevin’s former home in Maghera is synonymous with the earliest meetings
to establish the Civil Rights Movement.

Republicans recognised the importance of progressive coalitions to
successfully advance the common ground of equality and rights for all
citizens.

Ironically it’s now quite common to hear a revisionist narrative today
which glosses over that.

The role of the IRA and Sinn Fein may well sit uncomfortably with some
but the reality is the SDLP didn’t exist in 1967/’68. Of course the SDLP
is entitled to claim inspiration for its formation from the Civil Rights
Movement but it was only formed in August 1970, after the Civil Rights
Movement was launched by republicans, human rights activists, trade
unionists and other political activists.

Today 50 years on from the Civil Rights Movement, rights are still being
denied in the north of Ireland.

The political and violent opposition which the Civil Rights Movement
faced amidst mounting injustices eventually gave way to political
conflict.

People like Billy, Kevin and Pat understood very well why tens of
thousands of a new generation turned to armed struggle.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement . It
drew a line under the political conflict here by setting out a framework
to enshrine equality, parity of esteem and mutual respect on the basis
of proper power sharing and All-Ireland political institutions in the
form of an international treaty.

In ways the promise and principles of the Good Friday Agreement
addressed what the Civil Rights Movement did not get resolved.

Just as the unionist state opposed the Civil Rights Movement, powerful
sections of political unionism have resisted and pushed back against the
Good Friday Agreement since 1998. Now the Good Friday Agreement faces
its greatest ever threat from the DUP/Tory government alliance, and
their shared support for Brexit and austerity, and opposition to
equality and dealing with the past.

This current political crisis stems from a refusal by the northern state
to embrace the requirements of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Irish peace process is the most important political project in
Ireland.

It came about because northern nationalism and other strands of
democratic and progressive opinion, with the support of Irish America
and the Irish government created the circumstances which led to the Good
Friday Agreement receiving overwhelming popular support of the Irish
people north and south.

Today the progressive and democratic coalitions which led to the Good
Friday Agreement are needed again to defend and implement the Good
Friday Agreement.

As a co-guarantor of the agreement the Irish government has a huge
responsibility to get onto that position.

Irish America also has a very important role to play once more.

The 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement this April should be a
landmark anniversary in the transformation of this society.

That ought to be a shared objective for all democrats and progressives.

During the last three weeks the Sinn Fein leadership has organised eight
meetings across the north of Ireland. Over 1200 from all walks of life
in civic nationalism have attended.

Some who participated were veteran civil rights activists themselves
from that era and many more were the children and grand children of
civil rights activists.

One clear and consistent message came through from each meeting: civic
nationalism wants the political institutions restored but only on the
right terms.

A year after Martin McGuinness’s resignation popular nationalist and
progressive opinion are saying that parity of esteem, the rights agenda,
dealing with the past, equality and mutual respect, and proper power
sharing must be delivered: there can be no return to the status quo.

The reality of financial scandal, and continued denial of rights and
respect by the DUP, supported by the Tories has remobilised northern
nationalism.

There is a new popular momentum within civic nationalism. It is
demanding the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement: nothing
less will be acceptable.

We have come full circle. The war is over but there will be no return to
second-class citizenship in this place.

Billy Nelis’ generation refused to accept second class citizenship and
the post civil rights generations have never been more determined and
confident.

They are not going to be put back into the box – they will never again
be pushed to the back of the bus.

 

‘PEOPLE UNITED DESPITE DIFFERENCES’

By former MP Bernadette McAliskey (for Irish News)

 

In August 1968 the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA)
organised its first march from Coalisland to Dungannon. On February 6
1972, Nicra organised what was effectively its last civil rights march,
in Newry, to protest the State killing of unarmed civilians taking part
in the Derry march on what became Bloody Sunday.

Nicra was formed by people who were members of political parties and
groups who united, despite other differences, to collectively campaign
for basic reforms which they believed would provide basic equality of
citizenship within the political structures of the north.

Founding members were drawn from the Northern Ireland Liberal Party; N.
Ireland Labour Party; Republican Labour Party; Communist Party of
Ireland; Nationalist Party and the various Republican Clubs, which were
the northern membership of Sinn Fein (headquartered in Gardiner Place,
Dublin).

The Nicra ‘strapline’ was ‘non-violent; non-sectarian; non-political’.

At that time there was no Provisional Sinn Fein/IRA, no SDLP, no IRSP,
no Alliance party, no TUV, no People before Profit, no Green Party, no
DUP either. Except for the Unionist party all the political parties
currently making up Stormont are post-Nicra and are a product of the
fragmentation of the Unionist Party on the one hand, the Nationalist
Party and Republican Movement on the other and the emergence of
different political configurations whose starting point is not
necessarily the constitutional status of N. Ireland.

Nicra’s basic agenda was one family, one house; one man (sic), one
vote; one man, one job; an end to gerrymandering (electoral boundaries
which created the housing/ voting problem) and an end to the Special
Powers Act, which effectively criminalised any opposition, however
peaceful, to Stormont policy and practice and to the constitutional
position.

These demands for fair distribution and equal access were so modest
that, while supporting them, the more radical and impatient voices of
youth, including my own, pushed for more through the People’s Democracy
and other small radical/socialist groupings. There was insufficient
housing, so equality of distribution was not, to my mind, enough. There
was insufficient work for decent wages, so distribution of existing work
was not enough.

The response of the N.I. administration at Stormont and of the UK
government in London to the demand for equality of access to democracy;
equality of social and economic opportunity and an end to repression,
was to increase repression in the hope of silencing the demand and to
further reduce the opportunity to effect change through democratic and
due process.

They bear the brunt of historic responsibility for the period between
1972 and 1998. From 1998 onwards responsibility, like power, lies closer
to home and is shared by those with the duty of managing and
administering shared government, a duty they actively sought, negotiated
and seek to maintain, and from which, with deliberation, they seek to
exclude others.

Fifty years on from 1968, emergency legislation remains on the statute
books. People are still imprisoned without fair trial. The housing
crisis – overcrowding, homelessness and social exclusion – are all
greater now than in 1968.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive, created in 1971 to address fair
allocation of Social Housing based on need and to redress the shortage
of affordable homes, has been decimated, starved of resources and
stripped of assets.

There can be no equal opportunity in employment where those in work earn
insufficient wages to adequately feed themselves and their families and
pay rent to an on unregulated private sector or inappropriately
regulated social sector.

An examination of collective conscience on how the damage done over 50
years by the actions of the State and those employed to do their bidding
officially, and as we now know furtively, within the militarist
organisations on all sides of the conflict is to be addressed and truth
and justice extracted from and secured for those who have now girded
themselves with the belt of peace.

Without openness, transparency, accountability and participation in
decision making, leadership becomes no more than the power to control.

Power without accountability becomes corruption.

Those claiming bragging rights from 1968 might reflect with greater
humility on the price paid against the degree of progress made since
that first march and examine their actual contribution to the reality of
2018 – a stagnant, sectarian dysfunctional Stormont making the rich
richer and the poor poorer; a damaged, demoralised and divided
community; justice denied; truth distorted; and controlled management of
conflict and corruption mistaken for peace.

EU could rescue Six Counties from hard Brexit

Posted by Jim on

 

With no sign of a British government solution to the issue of the Irish
border, the European Union is reportedly preparing a draft of the
British withdrawal treaty with the North of Ireland effectively having
status within the EU.

The move comes after Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator warned that
border checks will otherwise be unavoidable under British plans to
leave the EU single market and customs union.

Mr Barnier also warned that agreement on a transition period to smooth
Britain’s exit from the EU was “not a given” — indicating the
possibility remained of a sudden and chaotic introduction of border
controls across Ireland.

Michel Barnier made the remarks after London expressed a new
determination to leave the customs union and the single European
market. The comments also came after unionist hardliner Ian Paisley jnr
of the DUP called on the British parliament to adopt a “no surrender
attitude”.

Unionists remain focused on a potential blame game with the EU over the
introduction of border checks, with the DUP insisting it is only the
the EU which is “brandishing the threat of customs controls”.

Last month, South Down Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard warned over the
possibility of civil disobedience and local anger and frustration in
border areas “at even the thought of a customs post going up”.

British officials negotiating in Brussels were told by their
counterparts on Tuesday that while full alignment between North and
South would be the only option included in the withdrawal treaty, there
could be a “sunset clause” included in the legally binding text, which
is expected to be published in about two weeks. That clause would allow
the text on the border to become obsolete if a better alternative for
“regulatory alignment” across the border is found.

Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy again called for a broad alliance across
Ireland to support special status for the North, which he said is now a
“live project”.

“It has been evident for anyone who has examined this matter that the
only way in which a hardening of the Irish border can be avoided is for
all of Ireland to remain part of the single market and customs union,”
he said.

“Anything less risks the imposition of border controls and the
undermining of the Good Friday Agreement – it is therefore now time for
all Irish political parties and the Irish government to unite in
pursuing that goal.”

An official report for the British government found that the North’s
economy faces a potential 12% hit as a result of Brexit. But the East
Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson has repeated the unionist and Tory hard line
that Brexit must come at any cost and said the “gloves are off”.

“The blackmailing burghers from Brussels and the cheap political
opportunists in Dublin must meet a tough UK government response,” he
wrote. “In these negotiations, if the gloves are off, it is time we
went into the fray with a no surrender attitude.”

Sinn Fein’s outgoing leader Gerry Adams expressed concern at the
developing standoff and urged more clarity to what he described as the
“fudge” which was negotiated in December.

“The Irish government must urgently seek clarification from the EU
negotiating team on the current state of play with the British,” he
said.

“Specifically, we need to know if the legal language of the draft
agreement will support the North remaining within the single market and
customs union; if the Irish government will support that position; and
will it refuse to accept, as was agreed in December, that there will be
no hard border?

“The Irish government must also demand that the British government
spell out what measures it plans to put in place to ensure that full
regulatory alignment is put in place.”

ADAMS: ‘I DID MY BEST’

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As he prepares to hand over the reins to Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein
president Gerry Adams has been giving interviews and facing a welter of
last-minute criticism from of his political opponents.

He says his legacy is not an issue which he has concerned himself with,
because he believes he did the best he could.

“I don’t mind. If I thought about it very deeply those people who
detest me will continue to detest me. Those people who admire me will
continue to admire me.

“All I did in the course of the job, I was doing my best. And I think
that is all we can do. I am satisfied I have done my best,” he said.

Much of the media commentary has been speculation about Mr Adams
involvement with the IRA, something he has always denied.

Mr Adams said he first began peace efforts with Catholic priest Father
Alec Reid as far back as 1976 and 1977, several years before he became
the leader of Sinn Fein.

But it was not until 1988 that Fr Reid mediated Mr Adams’ dialogue with
the then SDLP leader John Hume, which led to the IRA ceasefire six
years later.

Mr Adams has said he regrets that it took until 1994 for the first IRA
ceasefire, but accused others of hiding behind a “subterfuge” of moral
denunciations to avoid dialogue.

“I regret the fact anyone was killed, particularly those who were
killed by the IRA. Of course I do,” he said. “All victims deserve the
truth and justice and their families deserve that.

“People will judge me whatever way they want to judge me and I accept
that. I have been very moved by the generosity and grace of some people
who were really hurt in the conflict.

“That has been quite inspirational, to meet people who were prepared to
set aside that hurt for the common good. What we all have to do is make
sure it never happens again.”

He said that when he and Mr Hume eventually met in 1988 they “did what
is just the imperative, the primacy of any process (which) is to talk,
to listen.”

“And out of that came the Hume/Adams principles,” he added.

Mr Adams criticised past British prime ministers who refused to talk to
Sinn Fein during the conflict and called them “the stupid ones.”

“Probably the toughest (prime ministers to deal with) were the stupid
ones who wouldn’t talk.

“If you consider that I was an elected official along with others and
other elected officials wouldn’t talk to us and the British prime
ministers handed over the future … to generals, to military bosses,
to people who brought in collusion, internment, shoot to kill and all
the rest of it and just militarised the situation with all the awful
consequences of that.”

Mr Adams said that John Major had the chance to help bring peace to the
north but failed to do so, while Tony Blair seized the opportunity
“with both hands”.

Mr Adams also said the idea of Irish unity has become more prevalent
since Britain decided to leave the European Union. Mr Adams said
however that he does not believe a united Ireland is inevitable.

“You have to work for it and you have to convince people. But we now
have a very peaceful and democratic way of achieving it,” he said.

Mr Adams added: “That means persuading people that the best way for all
of us on this island is if we govern ourselves. Why do we want English
people to govern us? Why do we want anybody but ourselves to govern
us?”

He said that at the “very core” of Irish unity was “uniting orange and
green.”

“(It’s) about harmony and peace between those two big traditions. And
as we become more multicultural it is also about making space for all
of those other folks out there who wouldn’t be part of the orange and
green tradition. It is about trying to build a tolerant, respectful,
citizens based, rights centred society,” said Mr Adams.

When asked how he would judge himself, Mr Adams replied: “To tell you
the truth, I haven’t thought of that.

“I am a very good dancer, I sing extremely well, I am a half-decent
cook, I have written a wee bit, I like walking, but I’m comfortable in
my own skin and I am surrounded by some wonderful people, a great
family, my wife, people who love me.

“The most important thing in life is friendship and the most important
thing you can give to anyone is time. So I am blessed with friends and
all this time,” he said.

Mr Adams added that he also felt “blessed” to still be alive, having
survived a number of assassination attempts.

“I have escaped a number of attempts to kill me and so on. I have been
blessed by some very incompetent assassins, so there are lots of good
things in life,” he said.

Thousands of Sinn Fein delegates are gathering today at the RDS in
Dublin to acclaim of Dublin Central TD Ms McDonald as his successor.
Sinn Fein’s northern leader, Michelle O’Neill, will also be elevated to
the vice-president position.

Mr Adams is passing on the Sinn Fein presidency after more than 34
years in the post.

 

AOH NEW YORK STATE FREEDOM for ALL IRELAND BULLETIN

Posted by Jim on

 

January 2018

MARK THOMPSON -RELATIVES FOR JUSTICE-
AOH TOUR FOR VICTIMS’ FAMILIES

Mark Thompson ended a weeklong emergency American tour which generated a new Congressional initiative, five public events and formal proclamations of support by the New York State Senate, Assembly and local governments. Sponsored by the New York State Board Ancient Order of Hibernians, the tour brought together other Irish American organizations, and commitments to help Relatives for Justice and the victims they represent break the deadlock on legacy truth.

The emergency tour was an AOH response to crown moves to give British troopers and constabulary an amnesty, while denying Inquest Courts and Ombudsmen investigators needed funding. Mark Thompson made an emergency appeal for American help, noting that the AOH and Irish-American grassroots had been a driving force behind every American initiative for Irish justice.

Before his first public meeting, Mr. Thompson held the first of several pre- arranged telephone briefings, beginning with Congressman Richard Neal’s office. These briefings would climax in a meeting with Congressman Joe Crowley and a proposal for a new Congressional initiative to support legacy victims.

SUFFOLK
Mark Thompson’s first public address took place at the Suffolk County AOH Hall, in Babylon, Long Island, hosted by New York State AOH President Victor Vogel. AOH officers including Past State President Jim Burke, Suffolk County President Jerry Belmont and Nassau County President Pete Begley packed the hall, alongside relatives of legacy victims. Chris Thompson of the Suffolk County Brehon Law Society, and noted MacBride Principles campaigner Patrick Doherty, now with New York State Comptroller DiNapoli’s office, also attended. Here RFJ received the first of many legislative Proclamations of support for its work, sponsored by New York State Senator Phil Boyle.

New York Freedom-for-all-Ireland Chair, Martin Galvin noted:

“the phrase to get away with murder was literally true of British policy. British crown forces, or their paid agents who colluded and carried out murders, were shielded. Now as Relatives for Justice threatens to use British justice mechanisms to get truth for these victims, the British are starving their own courts, inquest judges and Ombudsman investigations of funding while moving towards pardons dressed up as statutes of limitations.”

MANDATED BY FAMILIES

Mark Thompson began by saying that “Relatives for Justice was mandated to represent hundreds of families in the north whose loved ones, were not alone murdered but then slandered to justify their murders”. He pointed in the audience to relatives of Maura Meehan and Dorothy Maguire, killed by British troops in Belfast in 1971,and to relatives of John Boyle, shot by British SAS troops in 1978.He detailed the circumstances of these killings and the legal cover-up which followed, to explain how the British mistreated hundreds of families .

He said, “now as families get near truth after years pushing against a wall of deceit, the British want to use amnesties and a funding cut-off to lock the door on justice. Victims’ families want(a)no amnesty pardons for British forces,(b)funding for legacy inquests and Ombudsman inquiries, and (c implementation of the legacy mechanisms agreed at Stormont House in 2015”.

He quoted an expression that “when America sneezes Britain catches a cold and we want Irish America to sicken the British with demands for legacy justice”.

MANHATTAN

The next night, Mr. Thompson spoke in mid-town Manhattan at an event co-hosted by Queens, Brooklyn, New York and Bronx AOH.
The crowd included, AOH national officers Jere Cole, Sean Pender Dan Dennehy Jeff Nisler and Tom Beirne, State President Vic Vogel and Treasurer John Manning. Special thanks to Walter Cooper , Jim Sullivan, back from Florida and Parade Committee Chairman Denis McCarthy. Hibernians were joined by Jennifer Frankola of the Brehon Law Society, and Leslie Cassidy of the Irish American Unity Conference.

Here RFJ received a State Assembly Proclamation of support sponsored by Assemblyman Dinowitz and a Bronx Borough Proclamation presented on behalf of the Borough President by Gabriel and Patricia Megahey, friends of long time Bronx resident Liam Ryan. David Tubiolo presented a Proclamation from Westchester County. These Proclamations made special note of RFJ’s work for this American citizen, murdered in his native Tyrone.

This time Mr. Thompson pointed to Malachy McAllister, the proprietor of the Wolfe Tone Pub, who escaped an assassination attempt in Belfast, at the hands of British agents as well as the killing of Liam Ryan in Arboe County Tyrone. He explained the facts of these cases, how the British hid the truth and appealed for AOH and American help.

ROCKLAND

Mark Thompson then traveled to Rockland County for an event at the Hibernian House, arranged by Dermot Moore and co-chaired by Vincent Tyer and John McGowan.

Again Mr. Thompson met relatives and friends of victims killed by crown forces or crown agents. A cousin of Sam Marshall and friends of Rory and Gerard Cairns were in the audience. Mark Thompson started with an explanation of these killings as well as recent developments in the Loughall inquests. He used these specific cases to illustrate, the obstacles that the British have used to stonewall the families in the battle for truth.

One of the most emotional moments came when one relative asked whether the British would ever allow truth about these murders.
Mr. Thompson replied that “the families will never give up, have gained a lot of progress that once seemed impossible and it is important that RFJ and Irish America never give up supporting them”.

The event also included presentation of a Rockland County Legislature Resolution of support by Vincent Tyer, donations to RFJ and was attended by Past National President Brendan Moore.

CONGRESS

Before traveling to Albany, Mark Thompson detoured to Queens and a formal meeting with Congressman Joe Crowley. He was accompanied by AOH members Sean Pender, Bob Nolan, Dermot Moore and Martin Galvin. Here Congressman Crowley agreed to lead a formal Congressional sign-on letter to the British government.

Mr. Thompson then headed to Albany and the AOH Hall in Albany where the prestigious Fr. Murphy award was presented to Ciaran Geraghty, Past NYS FFAI Chair by past State President Tim McSweeney. The event was co-chaired by Dolores Desch and John Levandosky, with National Director Liam McNabb as Master of Ceremonies, State President Vic Vogel piping the dignitaries in and State Vice-President Tom Lambert among a host of State and National officers in attendance.

Here Mark Thompson explained that it was the anniversary of the murder of his brother Peter Thompson. The Thompson family had been laughed at, then threatened when they tried to find out the truth. He explained that that murder, that cover-up and that injustice was the driving force which had motivated him to help form and lead Relatives for Justice, and why he felt so deeply about other families put through the same grief.

PEEKSILL

Mark Thompson’s final public event at the Quiet Man Pub, Peekskill hosted by National Director Dan Dennehy, FFAI Chair Bob Bolbach, County President Brian Duffy, District Director Aidan O’Kelly Lynch and Division President Clive Cronin. Here Mark Thompson said he was overwhelmed at by support he had received night after night, from Irish America and the AOH. He noted again how grassroots Irish-America had spearheaded every initiative to help victims of British rule that had come from America. He found everywhere he had spoken, a tremendous willingness indeed desire to help. He said he victims’ families will be encouraged by the groundswell of support he found in America.

State President Vic Vogel then presented Mr. Thompson with a special plaque, memorializing the five tour events where Mr. Thompson spoke. The State President, who had authorized the tour attended multiple events as did National officers, Jere Cole, Sean Pender and Dan Dennehy.

ISSUES UPDATE

A-New British colonial secretary had never been in six counties
British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Karen Bradley to succeed James Brokenshire to preside over the six counties. Bradley had never even visited the north of Ireland before her appointment. Now she will preside over talks to restore Stormont power sharing despite her lack of interest, much less knowledge of Irish issues. She named former British trooper Kris Hopkins, as a Special Policy Advisor (Spad).Hopkins had survived IRA attacks in Belfast and South Armagh. The appointment was criticized by Mark Thompson of RFJ, who said the selection was made as the “Tory/DUP alliance seeks to push an amnesty for British soldiers through Parliament.”

B-UVF Commander and British Agent Gary Haggerty gets minimum sentence for 5 murders and 202 terror crimes

Former Ulster Volunteer Force loyalist killer and British informer Gary Haggarty, received a sentence in Belfast Crown Court that will free him for a new life under the PSNI/MI5.
The original sentence of 75 years for 5 muders,23 conspiracy to murder and 4 kidnapping counts among 202 terror offenses was reduced to six and one half, allowing Haggarty to walk free to his new life almost immediately. Among the murder victims was grandfather Sean McParland, shot dead in front of his children
two Catholic workman eating lunch on the job, Eamon Fox and Gary Convie, Sean McDermott and John Harbison. Fox’s son Kieran said he was “gutted” by the sentenc. “The man is a serial killer. He was a paid State informer. The RUC knew he was killing at will and let it continue.”

C- Free Tony Taylor calls after 700 days Interned by License
Derry Republican Tony Taylor has now spent over 700 days imprisoned in Maghaberry by order of British secretaries despite repeated calls for his release or due process. Mr. Taylor,a respected Derry Republican was jailed under procedures described as Internment-by-License. He served a sentence for possession of a weapon but was then jailed based on secret information that the British refuse to release to him or his lawyer for defense.

D-Battle to Ban Irish flag from St. Patrick’s Day Parades
While Irish flags are proudly carried around the world and in most of Ireland in St. Patrick’s Day Parades, an announcement was made that the Irish flag would be banned in the strongly Republican town of Strabane on the West Tyrone-Donegal border.
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council
announced that the Council wanted a “cross-community” event that would be inclusive and promote reconciliation by banning flags.
When Independent Republican Councillor Paul Gallagher protested, he was told that Irish flags have long been excluded from St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Derry, Belfast, Newry and Downpatrick.
Councillor Gallagher challenged the ban at a Council meeting and is asking why British flags can be flown in events funded by unionist dominated councils but Irish flags can be excluded.
In Strabane the ban on Irish flags may rescinded but uncertainty continues as well as the status of the ban in Derry and Newry.
Special Thanks With Apologies

Brothers I want to thank each of you who helped make the Mark Thompson tour so successful. This tour through the events and publicity in Irish-American papers has gotten a great response, not only from those who attended, or read about it, but perhaps most important from the victims’ families in Ireland who welcome our AOH backing in their fight for truth and justice. We are now working on a Congressional letter and other initiatives including ideas for additional tours.

I apologize to everyone whose name is not included.

Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM

Slan,

MARTIN GALVIN

Radio Free Eireann- Saturday -February 10, 2018

Posted by Jim on

Special Pledge Programming 12noon-2pm

RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast a special two hour Pledge Program  this Saturday February 10th on WBAI Radio 99.5FM or WBAI.ORG at 12 noon-2pm New York time or 5pm-7pm in Ireland or anytime after the program on WBAI.ORG   Archives

Author,retired fireman and  story teller  BILLY O’CONNOR will talk about his latest book “Da Mick”  taking  a humorous look at being a New York City Fireman  when the Bronx was burning in the 1970s.
Donors who pledge to support the program will get a copy of the book.

LORRAINE TAYLOR,will talk about her husband TONY TAYLOR, a Derry Republican who has now spent more than 700 days Interned -by-license , jailed on British charges  kept secret from him or or any solicitor picked by him.

While Irish flags and “England Out of Ireland” banners are a feature of St. Patrick’s Day Parades in New York,  Independent Irish Republican Councillor PAUL GALLAGHER, will give a quick update on last week’s story of British attempts to ban Irish flags from St. Patrick’s Day Parades.

JOHN FAY the creator and moderator of NUZHOUND,the daily collection of articles on the north of Ireland  will explain why that service may have to close down..

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin co-host.

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on February 9, 2018

February 9th 
SSG CHRIS ENGELDRUM FDNY VFW POST 12033
The SSG Chris Engeldrum FDNY VFW Post 12033 will be holding its monthly meeting on Thursday, February 22nd. The meeting will be held at Randall’s Island, Building 11 Cafeteria at 7:30 pm. All Military Veterans who have served overseas during time of war are eligible to join. For additional information, see the Post website at FDNYVFW.com.BRAVEST FOOTBALL CLUB TRYOUTS
The Bravest Football Club will be holding tryouts for new players on Tuesday, February 13th and Tuesday, February 20th starting each day at 11 AM sharp.  The location is the bubble at the Bay Terrace Sports Center, 212-00 23rd Avenue, Bayside, NY 11360.  Any member interested in playing for the team is encouraged to attend these tryouts.  Contact Head Coach John Rosati at 646-270-5133 for more information.  For returning and new players, regular practices will begin on Tuesday, February 27th starting at 11 AM, also in the bubble at the Bay Terrace Sports Center, 212-00 23rd Avenue, Bayside, NY 11360.  Practices will continue every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 AM thereafter.

Easter Week by Joyce Kilmer

Posted by Jim on February 7, 2018

Easter Week

(In memory of Joseph Mary Plunkett)

(“Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.”)
—William Butler Yeats.

“Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.”
Then, Yeats, what gave that Easter dawn
A hue so radiantly brave?
There was a rain of blood that day,
Red rain in gay blue April weather.
It blessed the earth till it gave birth
To valour thick as blooms of heather.
Romantic Ireland never dies!
O’Leary lies in fertile ground,
And songs and spears throughout the years
Rise up where patriot graves are found.
Immortal patriots newly dead
And ye that bled in bygone years,
What banners rise before your eyes?
What is the tune that greets your ears?
The young Republic’s banners smile
For many a mile where troops convene.
O’Connell street is loudly sweet
With strains of Wearing of the Green.
The soil of Ireland throbs and glows
With life that knows the hour is here
To strike again like Irishmen
For that which Irishmen hold dear.
Lord Edward leaves his resting place
And Sarsfield’s face is glad and fierce.
See Emmet leap from troubled sleep
To grasp the hand of Padraic Pearse!
There is no rope can strangle song
And not for long death takes his toll.
No prison bars can dim the stars
Nor quicklime eat the living soul.
Romantic Ireland is not old.
For years untold her youth shall shine.
Her heart is fed on Heavenly bread,
The blood of martyrs is her wine.

The Four Immortal Chaplains

Posted by Jim on

 

by Michael C. Gabriele

Seventy-five years ago, four U.S. Army chaplains made the ultimate sacrifice at sea

The Four Immortal Chaplains

A painting by Dudley G. Summers depicts the Four Chaplains in prayer together on the on the deck of the torpedoed USAT Dorchester Feb. 3, 1943.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 1943, the USAT Dorchester was steaming across frigid, U-boat-infested waters in the North Atlantic. Suddenly, a German torpedo struck near the engine room, triggering a massive explosion. The transport vessel, which was carrying more than 900 passengers bound for a U.S. Army base in Greenland, capsized and sank in less than 20 minutes.

Among those on board were four Army chaplains, each with the rank of first lieutenant: Father John P. Washington; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; Rev. Clark V. Poling, a Reformed minister; and Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist minister. Just hours before the attack, Father Washington had celebrated a Mass that was attended by men of many faiths.

As the ship sank, the chaplains calmly ministered to the panic-stricken and wounded, assisting soldiers and others boarding lifeboats. Many survivors later testified to their bravery.

“I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,” recalled Pfc. William B. Bednar. “I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.”

Others reported seeing the chaplains handing out life preservers until there were no more to give — including their own. One eyewitness, John Ladd, said, “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven.”

Survivors on rafts were awestruck as they caught a final glimpse of the courageous quartet, who came to be known as “The Four Chaplains,” standing together on the slanted deck, arms locked and singing hymns as the ship slipped beneath the waves. They were among more than 670 passengers who died at sea that day. In the 75 years since their death, and still today, there have been many dedicated to commemorating the chaplains’ sacrifice and keeping their story alive.

AMERICAN HEROES

Though the four chaplains came from different backgrounds, each was motivated by profound love of God, country and neighbor. The tragedy of Pearl Harbor moved them to volunteer as military chaplains, and that call brought the four men together for the first time in 1942 at the Army Chaplains School at Harvard University.

Father John Washington was born in Newark, N.J., July 18, 1908, and from an early age felt called to become a priest. Ordained in 1935, Father Washington served in several New Jersey parishes. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he volunteered to be a Navy chaplain but was turned down due to poor eyesight — the result of a childhood BB gun accident. Undeterred, he went to the Army and passed the eye test by covering his weak eye both times when reading the eye chart, praying that God would forgive his sleight of hand.

Rev. George Fox, born in Lewiston, Pa., March 15, 1900, had served with distinction as a medic during World War I. He was ordained a Methodist minister at Boston University’s School of Theology in 1934. Eight years later, he volunteered to be an Army chaplain on the same day that his son, Wyatt, entered the Marine Corps.

Rev. Clark Poling was born into a prominent family of ministers in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 7, 1910. He studied at Yale University’s Divinity School in New Haven, Conn., was ordained a minister in the Reformed Church of America and volunteered for chaplain duty in 1942.

Rabbi Alexander Goode was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., May 10, 1911. An outstanding athlete and scholar, he planned to follow his father’s footsteps as a rabbi. He earned a Ph.D. in Arabic studies and desired to bring Jews and Arabs together. Like Washington, he had been turned down by the Navy but was accepted in the Army Air Forces.

The chaplains, disappointed at being sent to serve in a rear guard capacity in Greenland rather than on the front lines, did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives for their brothers in arms when the opportunity arose.

As news of the Dorchester’s demise reached the United States, the magnitude of the loss of life coupled with accounts of the four chaplains’ heroic charity and sacrifice astonished the nation.

In 1944, all four men posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart, and in 1948 a U.S. postage stamp was issued in their honor bearing the words “These Immortal Chaplains.” Congress authorized a one-time only posthumous “Special Medal for Heroism,” which was presented to family members in 1961. Then, in 1988, a unanimous act of Congress established Feb. 3 as the annual Four Chaplains Day.

Today, a host of monuments, chapels and works of art, including stained-glass windows at the Pentagon and West Point, also memorialize the Four Chaplains’ faith in action.

The Four Chaplains Monument

(from left to right): Lt. John P. Washington, a Catholic priest; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, a rabbi; Lt. Clark V. Poling, a Reformed minister; and Lt. George L. Fox, a Methodist minister. Courtesy of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation

REMEMBERING A LEGACY

Members of the Knights of Columbus have long honored the memory of the four chaplains, and at least three military units are named in their honor — The Four Chaplains Council 10652 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa.,The Four Chaplains Council 13901 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and The Four Chaplains Assembly 3557 at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.

St. Stephen’s Parish in Kearny, N.J., the last parish where Father Washington served, will celebrate the 75th anniversary with a Mass on Sunday, Feb. 4. Members of St. Cecilia Council 6928 in Kearny will take part in the solemn annual tribute, just as they have done for many years.

“Council members feel strongly that it’s important for people to remember the Four Chaplains,” said Grand Knight Kevin Purcell. “Today the world needs inspiring stories more than ever.”

Mark S. Auerbach, the city historian of Passaic, N.J., and a distant cousin of Rabbi Goode, shares a similar passion for keeping the memory of the Four Chaplains alive.

“I’m fulfilling my father’s wish to do all I can to tell the story of the Four Chaplains so that it’s never forgotten,” he said, adding that the 75th anniversary of the chaplains’ sacrifice brings a sense of urgency to their legacy.

“We’re rapidly losing members of the ‘Greatest Generation,’” Auerbach said. “It may be hard for people to comprehend what they did for us. They went from living through the Great Depression to fighting for our survival during World War II.”

Integral to the story of the Four Chaplains is their demonstration of interfaith heroism — four men from different religious traditions who rose to the occasion in a life-and-death crisis and worked together at a moment’s notice to serve others.

“They came from different faith traditions, but they were united in their service to humanity,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, archbishop of the Military Services, USA, who will preside at the Feb. 4 Mass at St. Stephen’s Parish.

“In giving up their life jackets, they stripped themselves of their only hope for survival,” Archbishop Broglio explained. “This was faith in action. They didn’t wake up that day thinking they would be heroes. They acted because of their faith and their values. The challenge is to live what you believe.”

Father Joseph A. Mancini, pastor of St. Stephen’s and chaplain of Council 6928, maintains an archive on the Four Chaplains at his church.

“Sometimes we take our heroes and put them on a pedestal,” said Father Mancini. “They wouldn’t want that. The Four Chaplains were regular guys who did an extraordinary thing. Their sacrifice was an act of service, but we’re all called to some act of service.”

For more information, visit fourchaplains.org.

MICHAEL C. GABRIELE is a freelance writer based in Clifton, N.J.


K OF C SUPPORT FOR CATHOLIC MILITARY CHAPLAINS

Today, more than 300,000 men and women in uniform — about 25 percent of the U.S. military — are Catholic. They are served by 198 active-duty Catholic chaplains, who make up only 6 percent of the chaplain corps.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, led by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, created a Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program in cooperation with U.S. dioceses in order to better meet the needs of Catholic military personnel.

The Knights of Columbus then launched the Father McGivney Military Chaplain Scholarship in partnership with the archdiocese in 2011.

“We started with a five-year pledge of $1 million,” explained Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson at last year’s Supreme Convention in St. Louis. “Not only did we meet that goal in 2015, but we contributed $200,000 last year and this year as well.”

The Fourth Degree pledged to raise an additional $200,000 in 2018, bringing the Order’s financial support of Catholic chaplains to $1.6 million.

Thanks in part to the Knights’ partnership, there are currently 45 co-sponsored seminarians in 20 seminaries across the United States and in Rome preparing for eventual military service.

To donate, visit kofc.org/militarychaplains.

Official Correspondence from the UFA

Posted by Jim on February 6, 2018

 February 6th 

FDNY RUGBY Looking to stay in shape and compete?  FDNY Rugby is looking for new players.  Rugby combines the speed and physicality of football with the stamina of soccer. We travel around the US and the world, and have a full social calendar.  There will be a new player informational meeting on Tuesday, February 20th, at Building 17 at the Fire Academy with two sessions at 3 pm and 7 pm.  NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. Contact us at fdny.rugby@gmail.com with any questions.

FDNY CSU – NEW GROUP FOR FAMILY MEMBERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS The Counseling Service Unit of the FDNY, with the support of Captain Kananowicz (aka K9) from Engine 53, is running a monthly support group for members who have children or family members with special needs. Come together with other members who share similar challenges and exchange ideas and get support. We will hold the next group on Wednesday, February 28th, from 11 am – 12:30 pm on Randall’s Island, Room 226. To RSVP, contact Kim Ahearn Young at the CSU at 212-570-1693 x 322 or Kimberly.Young@fdny.nyc.gov, or Captain Eugene Kananowicz (aka K9) at 516-238-1024 or ek953@icloud.com.

FDNY NIGHT WITH THE BROOKLYN NETS Join the Brooklyn Nets for FDNY Appecation Night on Tuesday, March 13th, at 7:30 pm, as they take on the Toronto Raptors. Each ticket includes an exclusive FDNY t-shirt, and a portion of each ticket sold will benefit the FDNY Foundation. Tickets cost $85 for Lower Level seats, $60 for 100 Level seats, or $30 for Upper Level seats. Please note you must purchase a special ticket to receive the FDNY Night Shirt. The t-shirts can be redeemed from outside Section 19 the night of the event. Special tickets can be purchased through the link http://www.nba.com/nets/tickets/2017-18/fdny-night, or by purchasing a group of 10 or more. Groups of 10+ are invited on the court for a post game free throw. For group tickets of 10+ or general information, please contact William Lamson at 718-942-9695 or wlamson@brooklynnets.com.

Fish rot from the head down

Posted by Jim on February 4, 2018

As they say, the fish rots from the head down.This is especially true regarding collusion. Indeed, it is a perfect metaphor for collusion in Northern Ireland:the British Government’s historic, systemic and official policy of using Unionist/Protestant murder gangs to assassinate Catholics. However, when it suited, the British Government also colluded in the murder of Protestants—— as the Raymond McCord, Jr. case illustrates.Not only that, but when it also suited, the British Government used its agents in the IRA to assassinate at will—as the Stakeknife case illustrates. And all this was planned, approved and controlled from the very top of the British Government.
The United States Congress must continue to expose this murderous policy.”—Fr. Sean McManus.
Wanted: The Scottish spy chief who masterminded Ulster’s Dirty War

Neil Mackay and Peter Swindon. The Herald. Scotland. Saturday, February 3, 2018

THE Scots army officer who commanded a shadowy British military intelligence unit in Northern Ireland which colluded with terrorists who murdered civilians during the Troubles should be questioned as part of a police probe, the families of victims have said.

Brigadier Gordon Kerr, who is originally from Aberdeen, ran the Force Research Unit (FRU) whose officers ‘handled’ top-level paramilitary informers. The FRU’s most prized double-agent – Freddie Scappaticci, codenamed Stakeknife – who allegedly worked for military intelligence inside the IRA was arrested on Tuesday and questioned for four days about dozens of murders as part of Operation Kenova, an investigation into the activities of Stakeknife and collusion by the security forces.


The arrest of Scappaticci comes 15 years after the Sunday Herald first named him as Stakeknife in May 2003. The Sunday Herald also named Kerr as the head of the FRU in November 2000.

The probe, led by Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, from Bedfordshire Police, involves a team of 48 detectives who are interviewing current and former police officers in Northern Ireland, members of the British army and MI5 officers.

The whereabouts of Kerr, now 70, are currently unknown, and it is understood he is no longer in the armed forces. Bedfordshire Police would not confirm whether Kerr has been or will be brought in for questioning, but relatives of victims, who believe their loved ones were killed due to FRU operations, want Kerr probed. Last night, the SNP’s Northern Ireland spokeswoman insisted “no one is above the law”.

John Finucane, 37, was eight-years-old when two UDA gunmen burst into his home and shot his father fourteen times when he and his family were eating Sunday dinner. Pat Finucane, a prominent human rights lawyer who represented republicans, was killed in 1989 after alleged collusion between FRU officers and loyalist paramilitaries, including Brian Nelson, a former Black Watch soldier who became head of intelligence for the terror group the Ulster Defence Association.


John Finucane, a solicitor who stood as a Sinn Fein candidate, called for “greater scrutiny” of Kerr’s role at the time of his father’s death.

He said: “Given the unit Kerr ran has led to the deaths of so many people we have always found it strange that there hasn’t been any scrutiny of what Kerr was doing.” Finucane added: “Gordon Kerr is very much at the centre of the actions of the FRU…Kerr’s role in all of this needs to be examined. We may not necessarily get justice, but we want the truth. Those who were in charge tend to be protected.”

He said that if allegations were true that “Scappaticci was killing people at the behest of those in charge” then the question was not “who pulled the trigger, it’s who pulled the strings. It’s something that isn’t going away no matter how much the British government wants it to”.

When asked whether he has confidence in Operation Kenova, Finucane said: “I don’t have confidence in a process that doesn’t directly involve the families. A police investigation will only gather evidence and submit that to the prosecution. It is a fundamentally flawed process from the outset. I wouldn’t be optimistic that Kerr will be questioned or prosecuted.

“Allegations of collusion deserve a process where those directly affected have the ability to examine documentation and ask questions, and for people like Kerr to be represented too, because they may well say they were directed under orders by the [UK government] minister responsible at the time.”

Paul O’Connor, Director of the Pat Finucane Centre, a leading human rights group in Northern Ireland, added: “In respect of Kerr, we would be of the view that he and others in the chain of command, both within FRU and the wider security community, have questions to answer regarding their handling of agents such as Brian Nelson and the murder of Pat Finucane and others.”

Mark Thompson, founder member and CEO of Relatives for Justice, a group that supports families in Northern Ireland who were bereaved during the Troubles, also called for Kerr to be questioned by Kenova detectives.

He said: “Operation Kenova is a consequence of efforts by families to get to the truth about the so-called Dirty War. There are a number of questions that relatives have about that period and a strongly held belief that people were sacrificed to help protect other people.”

Thompson said families were “hopeful” that Chief Constable Jon Boutcher “will get to the bottom of this. He’s built a trust and confidence with families that’s unprecedented. I have no doubt Jon Boutcher will arrest handlers and in my view, he needs to go where the evidence leads him. He needs to follow that evidence trail to the top. We would certainly say the Kenova inquiry would have to detain and question Gordon Kerr, if Jon Boutcher wants to retain his credibility.

“There is a murky backdrop to this that is isn’t just black and white. It’s not just about the people who pulled triggers. It’s about the  nature of the system. Effectively the state was deciding who would live and who would die.

“The problem Jon Boutcher will have is if somebody like Gordon Kerr ends up in the dock we will have the domino effect which will go up the chain of command to the very highest level, and it will arrive at senior levels in Whitehall and Downing Street. From a reputational point of view, [as far as senior figures in Whitehall and Downing Street are concerned] that has to be avoided at all cost.”

The SNP’s Northern Ireland spokeswoman, Deidre Brock MP, said Operation Kenova is staffed by experienced detectives who should be trusted to do their job.

She added: “Anyone who may have pertinent information should be questioned and should be willing to cooperate— and anyone who may have committed a crime should be reported to the appropriate prosecutor. No-one should be seen as being above the law and I trust the investigating team to do their job properly.”

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: “I’m afraid we aren’t releasing any information regarding the individuals we are in contact with, or those who might be of interest. This week’s arrest was the first by Operation Kenova – we aren’t confirming the identity of the arrested man.”

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher confirmed on Friday that a 72-year-old man – who is believed to be Scappaticci – was bailed on Friday and will “return to police custody at a date in the near future”.


Boutcher said: “This arrest was a significant step in what continues to be an incredibly complex and wide-ranging investigation. My team is continuing to speak with witnesses and victims’ families and we are exploring a huge number of lines of enquiry.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We are assisting the police in their investigation. As the investigation is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on

February 4th
WTC Retired Lieutenant
Edward T. Meehan
Ladder Company 22
WAKE
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
2:00pm – 4:00pm and 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Wyman-Fisher Funeral Home
100 Franklin Ave
Pearl River, NY 10965

FUNERAL
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Service: 11:30am
St. Anthony’s Church
36 West Nyack Road
Nanuet, NY 10954

All Off-Duty Members should attend in Class A Uniform.

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on February 3, 2018

February 3rd
WTC Retired Firefighter
Ronald Svec
Ladder Company 82
WAKE
Monday, February 5, 2018
2:00 – 4:00 PM and 7:00 – 9:00 PM
O’Brien Funeral Home
2028 Route 35
Wall, NJ 07719

FUNERAL
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
10:30 AM
St. Catharine’s Church
215 Essex Avenue
Spring Lake, NJ 07762
All Off-Duty Members should attend in Class A Uniform.

Helena Moloney, republican and trade unionist

Posted by Jim on

DOMHNAIGH — On January 28, 1967 , Helena Moloney, republican and trade unionist, died in Dublin. Moloney was born in Dublin in 1884. While only at teen-ager Moloney heard Maud Gonne give a pro-nationalist speech near the Customs House. Inspired by Gonne, Helena began a lifelong commitment to republicanism. Moloney joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Erin) in 1903 and five years later was named editor of Bean na hÉireann (women of Ireland), a republican – as well as feminist – monthly founded by Moloney’s role model, Maud Gonne. Helena began an acting career at this time as well, joining the Abbey Theater, but her commitment to political and then labor activism would eventually end her acting. During this time Helena also became more active in the Irish labor movement, where she worked closely with James Connelly and Countess Markievicz. Connelly made her secretary of the Irish Women Workers’ Union in November 1915. She was jailed in 1911 for throwing stones during the protest of a royal visit, making her the first woman jailed in the cause of Irish freedom since the days of the Ladies Land League some three decades earlier. Moloney took an active role with Connelly’s Citizen’s Army during the 1916 Easter Rising. She took part in the attack on Dublin Castle, where her commanding officer, Sean Connolly, was killed. She was arrested and held until December of that year. Moloney opposed the treaty and supported the republican side during the Civil War. She continued to work for labor causes after the Civil War and was the first woman to become president of the Irish Trade Union Congress. She did not abandon the republican cause, however. She was active with the Women’s Prisoner’s Defense League and the People’s Rights Association during the 1930s. Moloney continued to work for the causes she believed in until illness forced her to retire from public life in 1946.

Churchill on Ireland

Posted by Jim on

black-and-tans

“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English” – Churchill

In 1904 Churchill said “I remain of the opinion that a separate parliament for Ireland would be dangerous and impractical”. Churchill’s ancestry is linked to loyalism to Britain, he is a direct descendent of the ‘Marquis of Londonderry’ who helped put down the 1798 United Irishmen rising. He would live up to his families reputation when it came to suppressing revolutionary forces in Ireland.

The Black and Tans were the brainchild of Churchill, he sent the thugs to Ireland to terrorise at will. Attacking civilians and civilian property they done Churchill proud, rampaging across the country carrying out reprisals. He went on to describe them as “gallant and honourable officers”. It was also Churchill who conceived the idea of forming the Auxiliaries who carried out the Croke Park massacre, firing into the crowd at a Gaelic football match, killing 14. Of course this didn’t fulfill Churchill’s bloodlust to repress as people who he described as “odd” for their refusal “to be English”, he went on to advocate the use of air power in Ireland against Sinn Fein members in 1920. He suggested to his war advisers that aeroplanes should be dispatched with orders to use “machine-gun fire or bombs” to “scatter and stampede them”.

Churchill was an early advocate for the partitioning of Ireland. During the treaty negotiations he insisted on retaining navy bases in Ireland. In 1938 those bases were handed back to Ireland. However in 1939 Churchill proposed capturing Berehaven base by force. In 1941 Churchill supported a plan to introduce conscription in the North of Ireland.

Churchill went on to remark”the bloody Irish, what have they ever done for our wars”, reducing Ireland’s merit to what it might provide by way of resources (people) for their imperialist land grabs.

‘It is never too late’

Posted by Jim on

A diverse gathering of republicans took place this week at St Mary’s
Cemetery Navan to commemorate the 6th anniversary of Volunteer Martin
Rattigan and his brother Joe, whose 4th anniversary
occurs later this year. North Armagh republican Cait Trainor delivered
the following oration.
 

Firstly let me say how honoured I am to have been asked by the Family
and Friends of Martin and Joe to come and here today and speak. The
fondness in which Martin & Joe’s friends speak of them is touching, they
speak of warm, witty and determined people, men who loved their country
immensely, two men who touched the lives of so many in their community.

For many Martin Rattigan is the epitome of old school Republican, he
travelled the length and breadth of Ireland campaigning, on his travels
he picked up many friends and acquaintances and nowhere outside of his
home town was Martin so well-known and loved as in County Armagh.

Martin operated as an IRA volunteer in South Armagh for many years,
during his time spent there on behalf of his country, Martin developed a
great affection for the place, he referred to Slieve Guillion as “my
little mountain”. At the beginning of whats referred to as the troubles,
Martin was part of an active service unit, made up of mainly Navan
Volunteers, he was billeted in Iniskeen when the unit heard word that
British Soldiers had blew up the road at Courtbane, the unit took up
position on the road and an ambush followed, it was here that the first
British Soldier of the campaign in South Armagh was killed.

Martin was involved in many IRA operations in subsequent years, based
mainly around Portadown and Lurgan. After ending active service Martin
was to continue his Republican activism, throughout his life he
campaigned for Republican prisoners and was involved in the Cuban 5
campaign, a keen internationalist Martin also made important links with
the Basque Separatists.

Joe was equally as active in campaigning on Republican issues, his
friends describe him as “Martin’s right hand man”, Joe sold Republican
papers religiously to try and get the word out, and he did whatever was
needed.

The esteem in which these two men are held is evidenced here today, the
very many of their friends who have come out to commemorate them, and
their family will never allow their memory to be forgotten.

If Martin and Joe where alive today, I have no doubt that they would be
to the forefront of the very many campaigns Republicans are currently
fighting. One of those very serious issues is Internment.

Internment or Licence revocation as the Brits are calling it, has become
a very worrying trend in Irish Republican circles, at present we have 3
men, all in Maghaberry Jail who are subject to this. In the case of Tony
Taylor who has now been in Jail for nearly 2 years, no acceptable reason
has been forthcoming, citing a generic “risk to security” is not a
reason, it is an assumption and not a fact, it is not a strong enough
assumption to take away someone’s liberty. The same goes for Gabriel
Mackle released only a matter of weeks and thrown back in Jail, once
again a mantra of being a “security risk” is all we know. Having secret
reasons given by a secret police in order to deprive someone of their
liberty is the stuff of tyrannical despotic states that decent society
is allegedly supposed to oppose.

The most shocking of these 3 cases though it has to be said is that of
Neil Hegarty, Neil was released from Jail in December after serving a
5-year sentence; Neil was welcomed home by his family and friends and
was undoubtedly looking forward to reconnecting. With Christmas only a
matter of weeks away, his friends and family were elated about having
him back at home, the first time in 5 years they would socialise
together, enjoy a meal and have quality time with their loved one. Just
over 24 hours after his release the Police arrived at Neil’s door, told
him his licence had been revoked and carted him off.

In the 26 counties we have an onslaught of IRA membership charges being
brought against Republican activists in an attempt to censor them, to
hamper the good work they are doing. Any Republican can be arrested and
charged with IRA membership, all it takes is the “belief” of a Chief
Superintendent. No evidence need be provided just simply the “belief” of
one person. And we all know that these Chief Superintendents are hardly
the most reliable of witnesses, given the atrocious track record of the
Gardai of telling lies and setting people up. When the charged person
eventually gets to court; and the Superintendent is questioned on their
“belief” they have in the past used privilege, in other words, secret
information. Essentially you can be arrested, charged and convicted of
IRA membership without having any specific allegation or evidence ever
given to justify it.

All this is supported by the Governments and a willing media. The
propaganda and media bias against the Republican people of Ireland means
that the Public are completely apathetic about these human rights
abuses, so it is our duty to inform them at every opportunity.

In recent years we hear people constantly talking about how to make
republicanism relevant, how we as “alternative” republicans must somehow
change ourselves and our ideology along with it, to those people we
state clearly that we are not alternative Republicans, there is no
alternative Republicanism, we stand by the Republic as laid out in the
1916 Proclamation.

One hundred years ago Irish Republicans took part in the first sitting
of an all Ireland Dail Eireann. On the same day volunteers of Oglaigh na
hEireann struck the first blow against the crown in the Tan War. Both
are seminal moments in Irish history and both are still an example and
inspiration to Irish Republicans.

Attempts are currently underway once again to try and deny the
legitimacy of the republican struggle and undermine resistance to
British rule. Let there be no doubt in people’s minds, the republican
struggle is and always has been legitimate. The illegitimacy lies in the
British occupation and those who seek to normalise it. It lies with
those who seek to equate resistance to the occupation with the savagery
meted out by the forces of the occupation. Republican resistance to
British rule was legitimate in 1798, it was legitimate in 1916 and it
remains legitimate today. As long as the British occupation remains and
the Irish people as a whole are denied self determination free from
foreign interference then to quote Padraig Pearse “the only honourable
attitude for Irishmen and Irishwomen is an attitude of revolt.”

The Irish Republic is the embodiment of the sovereignty of the Irish
people past, present and future. It is what countless generations gave
their lives and liberty for. It cannot simply be a passing piece of
rhetoric, we as republicans must act towards its re-establishment.

What we must also do however is face reality, we are at a critical time
in our history, The challenges we face are real and the British and
Freestaters are certainly winning the war of “hearts and minds”.

Martin Rattigan knew only too well when it was time to face reality, as
a member of the Provisional movement for many years, he gave them his
all, and he worked tirelessly believing that their plan was a new way, a
chance. However Martin like so many others realised, that PSF had went
down the path of reformism and revisionism, a testament of Martin’s
character was his courage and strength, his ability to put ego to one
side and say enough is enough, he walked away from the movement he had
dedicated his life to. He put his Country before pride.

Martin demonstrated a political maturity that surpasses what many people
are capable of, it would have been easy for Martin to stay with them, to
see out his days quietly, to not rock the boat, but Martin was a man of
integrity and honour and when he realised that PSF had actually become
part of the problem, that they were in fact propping up British rule
instead of trying to end it, his mind was only on the cause of the
Republic and nothing else.

The lesson that we can all take from Martin and Joe is that it is never
too late, you are never too old to do service for your country, that as
Republicans we must always follow the cause and never the man.

In leaving here today, let us take that lesson with us and act upon it.

The legacy of Connolly, 150 years after his birth

Posted by Jim on

The following is an abridged article written by Jim Slaven of the James
Connolly Society.
 

June 5th 2018 will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of James
Connolly in Edinburgh’s Cowgate. This will provide us with an
opportunity to reappraise Connolly’s life and work. Not to merely
commemorate or recall the dates that mark out significant chapters and
events in his life, but rather to meaningfully engage with the man, his
writings and his philosophy.

Like many other working class kids, Connolly (and his brother John)
joined the British Army in a bid to escape poverty and destitution.
After seven years Connolly absconded from the British Army and spent
time in Dundee and Perth (where he married Lillie Reynolds, an Irish
Protestant he had met in Dublin) before Connolly returned to live in
Edinburgh, back in Little Ireland. Connolly took up employment as a
manure carter (as his father had before him) and immersed himself in
political activity with the Scottish Socialist Federation. Quickly
establishing himself as one of the key writers, orators and organisers
in the city. Within a few short years he had twice stood for election in
the St Giles ward in the city. He also became active in the Social
Democratic Federation and in the Independent Labour Party in the city
once it was founded by Keir Hardie.

During this period Connolly studied socialist writings, including those
of Marx and Engels (it is said he taught himself French and German
sufficiently to read texts that were not yet available in English).
Edinburgh during the 1890’s was the hub of socialist activism in
Scotland and a wide variety of political influences were embraced by the
young Connolly. As well as Irish nationalism, the teeming tenements of
Little Ireland and the surrounding area where home to exiles from the
Paris Commune and Fenian movement, Scottish republicans, Chartists and
socialists of varying international hues.

In Edinburgh Connolly was introduced to a wide range of individuals some
of whom influenced him and his thinking greatly. The city was a fertile
intellectual, political and cultural environment for the young Connolly.
Figures such as visionary sociologist and urban planner Patrick Geddes
and anarchist Peter Kropotkin mixed with socialists of various strands.
These included fellow Little Ireland resident John Leslie a poet and
activist, and the likes of Keir Hardie, Eleanor Marx and William Morris.
Another influence was exiled Communard Leo Melliot who famously told an
Edinburgh meeting commemorating the Commune that ‘without the shedding
of blood there is no social salvation’. The influence of the Paris
Commune on Connolly’s political thinking could be seen in the decades
that followed. Throughout his life Connolly commemorated the Commune
annually.

After the failure of his cobbler’s shop, and now married with three
young children, Connolly said he was going to buy a mirror to watch
himself starve to death. He even considered leaving Edinburgh and
politics for good and emigrating to Chile. Only the intervention of his
friend and comrade John Leslie dissuaded him. And in 1896 after an
appeal by Leslie he was offered the position of paid organiser with the
Dublin Socialist Club. He accepted and moved to Ireland.

Within days of arriving in Ireland Connolly made his famous statement
that “The struggle for Irish freedom has two aspects: it is national and
it is social”. Shortly thereafter this was expounded in more detail in
the manifesto of the newly established Irish Socialist Republican Party
(ISRP). This highlights that these are not ideas Connolly came to later
in life or even in Ireland. These were ideas Connolly arrived in Ireland
with, having developed them in the Irish milieu of the Cowgate.

It was during this period of Connolly’s life that he began to develop
his theoretical writings with the publications of Erin’s Hope. He also
began writing for the journal of Daniel De Leon’s Socialist Labour Party
in the United States. Although a small organisation the ISRP and
Connolly were leading public protests against Queen Victoria’s Diamond
Jubilee and the Boer War. A war Connolly said was motivated to
facilitate ‘an unscrupulous gang of capitalists to get into their hands
the immense riches of the diamond fields’.

His time in Dublin, like the rest of his life, was marked by severe
poverty. With an expanding family (the Connolly’s now had six children)
and limited job opportunities Connolly decided to emigrate to the United
States in 1903. The following year he was joined by his family, however
his eldest child, Mona, died in a tragic accident as the family prepared
to leave Dublin.

Initially a member of the SLP however Connolly clashed repeatedly with
De Leon and a mutual antipathy was not long in the making. Throughout
his life Connolly forthrightly shared his opinions (and disagreements)
on any issue he chose. De Leon was famous for his intolerance of those
who disagreed with him within the SLP and socialist movement.

While Connolly was in the US the International Workers of the World
(IWW) was formed, known as the Wobblies. Adopting a syndicalist approach
of the One Big Union, Connolly immediately joined and became an
organiser. Throughout his time in the US Connolly travelled extensively
giving speeches and organising. In 1908 Connolly toured the United
States in support of Eugene Debs Presidential campaign. During this
period Connolly continued to write both for papers and more theoretical
works. While in the US he also wrote plays, published a pamphlet of his
songs entitled Songs of Freedom and his popular book Socialism Made
Easy.

On his return to Ireland in 1910 Connolly was determined to adapt the
IWW’s approach of industrial unionism to Irish conditions and joined the
Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), which had been formed
by Jim Larkin during Connolly’s time in the United States. Connolly
worked as an organiser in Belfast attempting to unite Catholic and
Protestant workers in ITGWU activity. This, and the Catholic Church’s
vociferous attacks on socialism in Ireland, led Connolly to rethink the
relationship between religion and ideology.

As ever Connolly continued to write with Labour, Nationality and
Religion and then Labour in Irish History being published. Labour in
Irish History remains a classic work which reframes Irish history from
the perspective of the working class. This established Connolly’s
reputation as an original thinker, theoretician and Marxist historian.

One of the defining workers struggles between Labour and Capital on
these islands was the 1913 Dublin Lockout when the ITGWU, led by
Connolly and Larkin, faced the owner of the Dublin Tramways, William
Martin Murphy. In Murphy, the workers were up against an immensely
powerful and immensely class-conscious opponent. At one point involving
20,000 workers the sheer scale and ferocity of the lockout shook Irish
society and the British Empire. After British police attacked, and
killed, workers James Connolly concluded the only way for workers to
protect themselves from state violence was to create a worker’s militia.
The Irish Citizens Army was born. This army, of and for the working
class, is recognised as the first of its kind in the world.

After the British union bureaucracy refused to call out their members in
solidarity the lockout was defeated. The struggle of the workers and the
violent state response led many Irish nationalist to conclude any
nationalist movement must have a social dimension. The lockout confirmed
Connolly’s view that only when the Irish people were in control of their
own destiny, without outside interference or impediment, could Irish
workers be free. The pieces were falling into place for revolution. The
question was would an opportunity present itself?

The outbreak of the war in 1914 provided Connolly with an opportunity to
underline his principled approach to political action. As the left
across the world abandoned their previous opposition to the war in
favour of national chauvinism, Connolly held firm. He now found himself
in a small band of principled socialists campaigning against the world
war. His experiences in the British Army left Connolly with an abiding
hatred of militarism and the British military in particular. The
anti-war writing produced by Connolly during this period are among his
very best writing. For Connolly the failure of the vast majority of
socialists to hold the anti-war line and support the war confirmed his
view that Ireland must seize the opportunity for revolution and
independence, both national and social. Britain’s role in a world war
was, for Connolly, an opportunity working class revolutionaries could
not pass up. Ireland was on the road to Easter 1916 and revolution.

Throughout his political life Connolly’s view on Irish independence was
consistent. He viewed Britain’s involvement in Ireland as a disaster. He
identified, however, that a nationalist movement led by the middle class
would be unable to complete the ‘reconquest’ he viewed as essential.
Such a nationalist movement would demand political freedom but would be
unable to demand economic freedom. Firstly, because the bourgeois
nationalist is unable to think outside the logic of the capitalism
system and secondly because their own economic position, privileged
relative to the working class, is a direct result of economic oppression
imposed on the people of Ireland by British colonisation. Connolly’s
solution was simple but revolutionary: the working class must lead the
struggle for political and economic freedom.

As we approach the 150th anniversary of his birth we need to re-engage
Connolly’s life and work with the working class he fought for every day
of his life. To channel his rage at injustice and his determination to
fight for those marginalised, silenced and excluded under capitalism. To
use his love of life and politics and culture and humour to give people
hope and optimism.

Strong support urged for ‘March for Truth’

Posted by Jim on

Victims of the conflict have announced plans for a mass march in Belfast
to demand action on efforts to deal with the legacy of the conflict.

A number of groups representing relatives bereaved at different times
have come together under the banner “Time for Truth” and urged people to
join their protest on February 25.

It comes as various attempts to bring closure to conflict killings have
failed due to a refusal to provide resources or the legal constraint of
“national security”.

Announcing the march, Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was shot dead in
the UVF Loughinisland massacre in County Down in 1994, said the truth
cost nothing.

“I am calling on everyone to come out, put your feet on the streets and
march with us,” she said. “Solidarity, everybody together sending a
strong clear message that we deserve and we need the truth. It’s human
decency that people would get the truth and know what happened to their
loved ones and know why.”

She added: “I was eight years old when my father was murdered. He was
34, not much older than I am now. For him and his memory, and for his
legacy, I require the truth and I need the truth for him.

“He was afforded no dignity in his death. He lay dying along with five
other men on a pub floor in ’94 while they watched the World Cup. The
truth costs nothing, the truth belongs to everybody.”

At the launch event, John Teggart, whose father Danny was killed by
soldiers in Ballymurphy in west Belfast in 1971, rejected the suggestion
the march would only represent one side of the community.

“It is open to all families irrespective of their backgrounds who lost
loved ones or who were injured in the conflict,” he said.

“We are calling on all sections of society to support the Time for Truth
march, the pursuit of the truth is a matter for all society. This covers
all walks of life – all victims under the one banner.”

New evidence emerged this week that the PSNI have secretly been
withholding files containing evidence supplied by the British Minister
of Defence from as far back as 2007. The police have claimed they didn’t
know they had the database in their possession, and admitted it had not
been included when providing intelligence material for conflict-related
inquests.

Sinn Fein described the development as “staggering”. Republican Network
for Unity said it was “just another cover up within an act of
collusion”.

A number of completed inquests which could be impacted by the
revelation. Padraig O Muirigh, who has represented families in four
completed inquests as well as several pending cases, said it was
“astonishing”.

“Once again there are serious question marks about how the PSNI have
handled legacy cases in the coroners court and related proceedings,” he
said.

“The families I represent have no confidence in the PSNI, or indeed MoD,
fulfilling their obligations with respect to legacy inquests and
consideration should be given to some independent oversight of the
disclosure process.”

Mike Ritchie of Relatives for Justice also said it “beggars belief that
nobody thought that this information would be relevant for inquests”,
while Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said “there are going to
be a large number of families that have serious questions”.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said the PSNI’s explanation was not acceptable.
“They still haven’t clarified who decided not to tell the disclosure
unit,” he said.

Fight for civil rights continues

Posted by Jim on

Fifty years on from the launch of the civil rights movement,
nationalists are contining to battle for equality in the face of
systematic and opportunistic discrimination.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the famous civil rights marches
from Coalisland to Dungannon and at Duke Street in Derry city. Images
of the RUC beating protestors at Duke Street were broadcast around the
world by the international media.

But while nationalist politicians have been bickering over who should
get credit for the civil rights movement, it emerged this week that
Catholics are still almost 50% more likely to be unemployed as
Protestants. The latest annual figures released by the Stormont
administration this week showed that the inequality gap is actually
widening.

In sports, nationalist teams are currently prevented from playing at a
publicly owned sports pitch in North Belfast due to a loyalist threat.
And there was international disbelief when a local council announced
this week that it had blocked the flying of Irish flags at a public St
Patrick’s Day celebration.

Derry City and Strabane District Council said that as it had provided
some funding, it would insist no flags be used at the St Patrick’s Day
event. The council’s move has left it open to accusations of anti-Irish
discrimination, as it has never previously objected to the use of the
British flag at loyalist events.

Independent republican councillor Paul Gallagher said the changes were
a result of a mistaken “interpretation of legislation” by councillors
Sinn Fein is to seek to reverse the decision.

Meanwhile, pupils from Irish-medium schools across the north have been
forced to protest at Stormont parliament buildings over the
discrimination that Irish language speakers face on a daily basis.

Katy-Rose Meade, an A-level student from Colaiste Feirste secondary
school in Belfast, addressed the rally on the steps of Parliament
Buildings.

“The community has organised and mobilised for over 12 months, and will
continue to do so until our rights are delivered, as was promised more
than 12 years ago (in the St Andrews Agreement),” she said.

“I was six when that promise was made and during my lifetime I have
witnessed obstacle after obstacle placed before the growth of our
community-led revival.

“That community has had enough. Nothing other than a stand-alone
rights-based Irish-language Act, as is afforded to other minority
language communities on these islands, will do,” Katy-Rose added.

HAGGARTY TO GO FREE IN BRAZEN COVER-UP

Posted by Jim on

 

There was widespread shock this week after it was confirmed that
loyalist Special Branch double agent Gary Haggarty could be freed
within weeks despite pleading guilty to five murders, five attempted
murders and hundreds of other crimes.

A 35-year jail term was reduced to six-and-a-half years for his support
of the British state and agreeing to give evidence. But despite working
as a paid police informer for 11 years, a prosecution using his
testimony is only set to go ahead in one case.

With time served on remand, Haggarty is now eligible to appear before
parole board hearing which could secure his immediate release.

Haggarty committed hundreds of offences alongside the unionist
paramilitary UVF in the period from 1991 to 2007. His murder victims
included innocent Catholic workmen Eamon Fox and Gary Convie, killed as
they had lunch together in a car in north Belfast in 1994.

Mr Fox’s son Kieran said he felt let down.

“What is justice in this country? It is just designed to look after the
criminal,” he said.

“How can a man convicted of that many crimes be set free? The man is a
serial killer, he was a paid state informer, he was allowed to kill at
will, police knew he was killing at will and let it continue.”

He added: “You live by the sword, you die by the sword.

“All the families here today did not ask to be here, we were dragged
into this through no fault of their own. The police could have prevented
us being here today but did not, they were prepared to look after a
criminal, a terrorist, back him.

“It just seems life in this jurisdiction here, you are dispensable, it
doesn’t matter, get on with it.”

Also killed was grandfather Sean McParland, who was shot dead by
Haggarty in front of his children simply to protect his position as an
informer. To “prove himself” to fellow gang members and avoid suspicion
that he was an informer, Haggarty volunteered to take the lead role in
the murder. He shot Mr McParland at close range in the chest.

Haggarty’s murder victims also included John Harbinson, who was beaten
to death with a hammer by a UVF gang in North Belfast in May 1997 —
afterwards Haggarty went and had a drink in a nearby house — and Sean
McDermott, a 37-year-old Catholic found shot dead in his car near Antrim
in August 1994.

Prosecutors have claimed Haggarty’s evidence is insufficient to provide
a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against 11 other
suspected loyalist paramilitaries and the “police intelligence officers”
who directed his actions.

Andree Murphy of Relatives for Justice said he trial and sentencing of
Haggarty gave scant attention to the actions of the RUC/PSNI, and why
they failed to prevent or actively assisted in the targeting of
individuals.

“It seems perverse that Haggarty’s evidence is good enough to convict
him, and potentially other loyalists, but deemed to fall short when it
comes to RUC Special Branch Officers,” she said.

In a statement, Niall Murphy of the Kevin Winters law firm said their
clients feared that “the entire process has been stage managed and
directed to ensure that no prosecutions were ever brought — the
fundamental premise underpinning that guarantee, being the fact that
state agents and employees are a species protected from prosecution.”

He particularly condemned the failure to prosecute the attempted murder
of John Flynn, even though the PSNI had paid him compensation for the
RUC’s role in two attacks, and excoriated the use of a sick note by a
member of the Special Branch to successfully avoid other prosecutions.
He said it was the most concerning decision not to prosecute a case in
court since the murder of journalist Martin O’Hagan.

He added: “What of the role of the two Registered Informants who
accompanied Haggarty to Skegoneill Avenue to commit the murder [of Sean
McParland], and the other Registered Informant who prepared the second
getaway car. Or indeed the role of the Registered Informant who
selected the house for the murderous attack and perhaps most
concerningly the roles of Haggarty’s Special Branch handlers who he
asserts were directing him on a murderous rampage of terrorism to fulfil
Special Branch’s own intelligence interests and security ambitions for
the north Belfast UVF?”

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney last night said the families of those
killed and injured by Haggarty had “received neither truth nor justice”.

“This reduced sentence means that he is effectively getting away with
murder,” he said.”But families are also being denied the truth around
allegations that Haggarty’s RUC Special Branch may have ignored warnings
about murder and may have covered up his involvement in murders and
attempted murders over many years.”

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on February 2, 2018

February 2nd 
FDNY BRAVEST BOXING TEAM
Join the FDNY Bravest Boxing Team as they take on the Garda Siochana Boxing Club of the Irish National Police Service for the 2018 Transatlantic Championship on Friday, March 30th, 2018 at Terminal 5, 610 W 56th Street, NYC. Doors open at 7pm, the first bout begins at 8pm. Tickets are on sale now at www.FDNYBoxing.com and cost $30 for general admission (first come, first served) or $50 for a VIP ringside seat. Proceeds benefit Building Homes for Heroes.FRIENDS OF FIREFIGHTERS EVENTS

  • On the Arm Breakfast at Friends of Firefighters
    On Wednesday, February 14th, from 8-11am, drop by the firehouse for a Valentine’s Day breakfast prepared with love by retired firefighters Tony Cat, Pete Colascione, and Billy Hodgens. Catch up over hot coffee and a delicious meal. No RSVP needed. Bring your appetite!
  • Firehouse Kitchen Talk at Friends of Firefighters 
    On Tuesday, February 27th, from 6-9pm, Lt. Rob Brown (L120) will be presenting on “Heart Health.”
  • Firehouse Kitchen Talk at Friends of Firefighters
    On Tuesday, March 27th, from 6-9pm, Captain ‘K9’ Kananowicz (E53) will be presenting on “Helping FDNY with family members with special needs.”

As always, Firehouse Kitchen Talks are FREE to all active and retired FDNY members, and include a mouthwatering dinner prepared by firefighters, for firefighters.

THE NEVER FORGET FOUNDATION
The Never Forget Foundation invites you to the unveiling and blessing of their 911 Memorial on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at Redwood Club, 2680 Schurz Avenue, Bronx, NY, 10465. Coffee will be served at 9:00 am, followed by the unveiling at 11:

PSNI handling of legacy inquests ‘putting nationalist confidence in policing at risk’

Posted by Jim on February 1, 2018

“All this coming on top of other issues regarding the Northern Ireland police is very troubling.There is nothing more important for the Irish Peace Process than an acceptable police service, as promised by the Good Friday Agreement :
“fair and impartial, free from partisan political control; accountable, both under the law for its actions and to the community it serves …”—Fr. Sean Mc Manus

PSNI handling of legacy inquests ‘putting nationalist confidence in policing at risk’
John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, February 1, 2018

THE PSNI’s handling of legacy inquests is jeopardizing Nationalist [“Catholic”] confidence in policing, it was claimed last night.

It came as police appeared to concede that some relevant material held on a military intelligence database may not have been disclosed to inquests over the last decade.

Presiding coroner Mrs. Justice Keegan revealed yesterday that the database – which includes Ministry of Defense (Mod) documents – has been in the possession of the PSNI since 2007 but has not been routinely searched when compiling disclosure of intelligence material for legacy cases.

The PSNI Disclosure Unit said it was not aware it was in police possession, a revelation described as “astonishing” by one solicitor.

The Police Ombudsman’s office has requested additional information from the force ahead of potential investigation.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, head of the PSNI’s legacy and justice department, yesterday said the database containing military and police intelligence was passed to it for “safe keeping” at the end of the British army’s Operation Banner in 2007 and police and the MoD agreed that each would be responsible for its own material.

“Since then, the PSNI has been disclosing police material held on the database to the coroner, as well as informing the coroner of our knowledge of any relevant military intelligence on the database, so that the coroner could request further disclosure from the Ministry of Defense,” he said.

“Following a recent legacy investigation and having taken further advice about his disclosure responsibilities, the Chief Constable has now directed that because the PSNI holds the database, the PSNI has legal duties of disclosure in relation to the material stored in it.

“PSNI has informed the Presiding Coronial Judge and other criminal justice partners of this matter and has begun a process of checking the military database to ensure that our full disclosure duties are met.

“We hope that in most cases the majority of relevant material will have already been disclosed by the MoD.

“PSNI remains committed to ensuring that all legal duties placed upon the Police Service are fully discharged, despite the real and significant resourcing pressures it continues to face.”

John Teggart, a spokesman for relatives of 10 people shot dead by British soldiers in 1971 in what became known as the Ballymurphy Massacre, said they had “grave concerns” about the revelations.

“We are calling for clarification around this statement and have raised this issue with our legal representatives. We are months away from our full inquests – all this is very distressing for the families,” he said.

A son of Co Derry GAA official Sean Brown, who was shot dead by the LVF in 1997, also voiced concern.

Damian Brown said: “It really does raise questions about what might be in this intelligence database that the PSNI apparently forgot they had.”

Mike Ritchie of Relatives for Justice also said it “beggars belief that nobody thought that this information would be relevant for inquests”, while Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said “there are going to be a large number of families that have serious questions”.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly last night said the PSNI’s explanation was “not acceptable”.

“They still haven’t clarified who decided not to tell the disclosure unit,” he added.

The SDLP’s Dolores Kelly said senior police have “serious questions to answer about how this was allowed to happen and if the organisation’s disclosure mechanisms are fit for purpose at all now”.

“The PSNI’s handing of legacy inquests is now putting confidence from the nationalist community in policing at risk. That must be addressed.”

Leo’s not playing for northern Nationalists

Posted by Jim on January 31, 2018

“Under Enda Kenny—who never evinced the slightest interest in The North— we had ministers responsible for this place who differed only in their antagonism towards Sinn Féin, one a former Stickie[ ‘Offiicial Republican], the other from the law and order right of Fine Gael. … [Nationalists] watched in alarm,  as every northern issue Sinn Féin raised in the Dáil,  was batted away derisively by Enda Kenny,  and in Stormont talks his minister Charlie Flanagan adopted a position indistinguishable from the British when he wasn’t completely disengaged.”


Brian Feeney.Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, January, 31, 2018

IN December after Leo Varadkar pronounced himself mighty pleased with the deal on the border that the EU had wrung out of the British. He came out with this declaration: “To the nationalist people of Northern Ireland I want to assure you that we have protected your interests throughout these negotiations and will continue to do so and you will never again be left behind by an Irish government.”

Two days later the British government publicly ratted on the deal and they’ve been rowing away from it ever since.

British duplicity isn’t the point here. We’ll see in the coming months how successfully they squirm around the legalities.

No, let’s look at Varadkar’s pronouncement, which you might find touching.

Or on the other hand, coming from a Fine Gael-led government which has done nothing for northern Nationalists for six years, except exhibit hostility towards their political representatives, you might find his remarks to be what they call in diplomatic parlance a bit of a démarche— in normal language, a manoeuvre.

Under Enda Kenny—who never evinced the slightest interest in The North— we had ministers responsible for this place who differed only in their antagonism towards Sinn Féin, one a former Stickie[‘Official Republican’], the other from the law and order right of Fine Gael.

They stood idly by as the Conservative-led governments since 2010 cleaved ever closer to the DUP, indulging their merest whims, and by 2017 were displaying overt support for the raving right of the Tory party in security and legacy matters here.

It was a new experience for northern Nationalists who had been used for over 20 years to the unequivocal support of Irish governments and an identity of policy.

The reasons are obvious and have been outlined here before. John Hume had made his party, in effect, the Irish government in The North, pursuing and promoting its policies.

However, by the beginning of this decade not only was Sinn Féin overwhelmingly the choice of northern Nationalists, whose votes had made Martin McGuinness deputy First Minister, but they won 220,661 votes and 14 seats in the 2011 Dáil. By 2016 that became 295,319 and 23 seats, making them a political threat in The South.

Consequently,  from 2010 northern Nationalists found themselves bereft of political influence in both Westminster and Dublin.

They watched in dismay as David Cameron’s precarious coalition courted the DUP, even throwing a party for them in the Downing Street garden.

They watched in alarm,  as every northern issue Sinn Féin raised in the Dáil,  was batted away derisively by Enda Kenny, and in Stormont talks his minister Charlie Flanagan adopted a position indistinguishable from the British when he wasn’t completely disengaged.

Disenchantment grew as the DUP, with British connivance and Irish complicity, blocked everything in the Assembly and in talks on flags, Orange marches, the past, the present, the future.

Sinn Féin could not provide any political leverage for northern Nationalists. They faced undisguised hostility in London and Dublin.

Now, since December it appears the Taoiseach has pulled on a green jersey. He met Sinn Féin on December 18 and later agreed with them that calling a British-Irish Inter-Governmental Council is a good idea.

He actually answered questions from Gerry Adams. He said Barry McElduff’s stupid stunt was “perhaps an error of judgment”.

He told the DUP they don’t represent a majority in The North on Brexit, producing predictable apoplexy from poor Sammy Wilson. Not to be outdone, Simon Coveney hoped for a united Ireland.

What’s going on? Will Mary Lou McDonald’s Sinn Féin at last be able to exert the sort of political leverage that John Hume exercised?

Don’t hold your breath. Varadkar has noticed that polls show 22 per cent of people are more likely to vote Sinn Féin with Mary Lou as leader.

Varadkar has also enjoyed a huge boost in his poll ratings, not unrelated to his confrontation with the British.

Unlike beleaguered Micheál Martin he is not competing with Sinn Féin for votes. What Varadkar’s aiming to do is keep those Fianna Fáil voters who switched to Fine Gael in 2011.

He’s also hoping for Sinn Féin transfers in the next election in 2019. His manoeuvre has nothing to do with the northern Nationalists.

Scappaticci arrested

Posted by Jim on January 30, 2018

The man alleged to have been the British Army’s most high-ranking agent
in the Provisional IRA has been arrested and is being questioned about
allegations that he murdered dozens of people while working undercover
in the IRA’s feared internal security unit.

The agent known as Stakeknife has been named as Freddie Scappaticci from
west Belfast. The BBC reported that he was arrested in England but said
the investigation team would not release details of the arrest nor where
he is being held “due to security reasons.”

In 1993, Mr Scappaticci was allegedly recorded providing details on the
late Martin McGuinness and the IRA to investigative journalist Roger
Cook, after a ‘Cook Report’ documentary on Mr McGuinness was broadcas.

The tapes covertly recorded by Mr Cook were passed ten years later to
the Panorama documentary team. Mr Scappaticci was subsequently accused
of being ‘Stakeknife’, and receiving a six figure sum every year by the
British government while serving as head of the IRA’s so-called ‘nutting
squad’. The unit has been linked to more than 40 killings, many of which
are now feared to have been carried out at the behest of Stakeknife’s
MI5 handlers.

Scappaticci subsequently left Ireland but always denied that he was an
IRA informer. He is said to have appeared briefly at his 98-year-old
father’s funeral in west Belfast last year.

Operation Kenova, a police investigation, was launched in 2016 after
victims demanded to know the truth of his alleged activities. A
statement by Operation Kenova claimed it had spoken to more than 40
families and generated 1,500 lines of enquiry. The investigation into
Scappaticci is expected to take several more years before the case comes
to trial, if at all.

The 72-year-old’s arrest comes 24 hours after the sentencing of
notorious loyalist ‘supergrass’ Gary Haggarty for several murders in
another highly controversial case of collusion. It ended in shock for
victims and relatives as the double agent received a sentence which will
likely see him released within weeks. There was a sense of cover-up
following the sentencing, which was exacerbated by the decision in
October that no prosecutions would be brought against his handlers in
RUC police Special Branch.

In another development today, a large number of disparate groups of
victims of the conflict announced plans for a mass march to demand
action on stalled efforts to deal with the legacy of the conflict. The
march will take place under the banner “Time for Truth” in Belfast on
February 25.

Announcing the march, Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was shot dead in
the UVF Loughinisland massacre in County Down in 1994, said the truth
cost nothing.

“I am calling on everyone to come out, put your feet on the streets and
march with us,” she said. “Solidarity, everybody together sending a
strong clear message that we deserve and we need the truth. It’s human
decency that people would get the truth and know what happened to their
loved ones and know why.”

A full report on each of these developments will be carried in our
weekend edition.

Gary Haggarty was a Special Branch informer for 11 years

Posted by Jim on

Haggarty recruited by Special Branch less than a year after joining UVF
Gary Haggarty was a Special Branch informer for 11 years

Allison Morris. Belfast News. Tuesday, January 30, 2018 

GARY Haggarty was recruited as an RUC Special Branch informer less than a year after joining the ranks of the murderous Mount Vernon UVF when he was arrested for possession of ammunition.

Victims’ relatives expressed anger yesterday as it was confirmed the Loyalist supergrass could be freed within weeks despite pleading guilty to five murders and almost 200 other paramilitary crimes.

A 35-year jail term was reduced to six-and-a-half years for helping police and agreeing to give evidence against his former associates, although a prosecution is only set to go ahead in one case.

With time served on remand Haggarty is now eligible to appear before parole commissioners to secure his release to a new life in witness protection.

The Irish News understands that he was first recruited by Special Branch in the early 1990s after being arrested for possession of a bag of bullets at a house in Glasgow Street in north Belfast.
Detectives from CID had already charged Haggarty when they were outranked by Special Branch, who had all charges withdrawn.

He acted as an informer for 11 years but committed hundreds of offences, including the murders of Catholic workmen Eamon Fox (44) and Gary Convie (24) as they had lunch together in a car in north Belfast in 1994.

Mr Fox’s son Kieran hit out at the sentence yesterday, saying Haggarty was a paid state informer who was “allowed to kill at will”.

“What is justice in this country? It is just designed to look after the criminal,” he said.

Politicians also said justice had not been served.

PPS acting deputy director Michael Agnew said the discounts applied in such cases are difficult for victims, but “without it convictions for the many offences would not have been achieved”.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the PSNI “fully realize that there will be many questions surrounding the Haggarty case”.
“However, as he is now a key witness in a forthcoming trial PSNI is now prevented by law from talking about this case.”

Judge steps down in key collusion case

Posted by Jim on January 27, 2018

In a dramatic day at Belfast’s High Court, a judge who sought to quash a
report which found British state collusion in the Loughinisland massacre
is to step aside from the case.

In 2016, the Police Ombudsman determined that the RUC police colluded
with loyalists who killed six Catholic men in a bar as they watched a
soccer match. Five others were wounded in the attack.

On Friday, Justice Bernard McCloskey delivered a contradictory series of
rulings before accepting that a legal challenge to that report should be
re-run in front of another judge — but only to ensure victims’
relatives’ confidence in the final outcome.

Nevertheless, he lashed out at arguments he was potentially biased after
previously representing the same RUC police chief, Raymond White, in a
similar case as “flimsy, artificial and entirely unpersuasive”.

Legal experts described the rulings as “unprecedented”. The outcome
meant no final order could be made on whether to quash the Ombudsman’s
report, which still stands, despite the judge’s insistence that parts
should be removed.

Niall Murphy, lawyer for the Loughinisland families said it was “the
most unprecedented resolution to a judicial review application that I
have ever experienced in my years in practice”.

“What we have now is an opportunity for the Police Ombudsman and the
families to re-engage in a brand new reflection of the legal issues
raised and we look forward to doing that as quickly as possible.”

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was one of the six men killed in the UVF
gun attack on the Heights Bar in 1994, said the families welcome a new
judge taking a look at the case.

“We are delighted that our report still stands in its entirety – the
(ombudsman’s) report that we got in 2016 is still the report that’s on
record.”

She added: “I will be here fighting for truth and justice until I have
no fight left in me.”

“All we ever wanted was the truth, that’s it, the bottom line –
everybody deserves it. It’s human decency for people to know and for
people to acknowledge what happened to their loved ones. That’s all we
want,” she said.

US deportations taking a toll

Posted by Jim on

Concerns have been expressed at the accelerating rate at which
undocumented Irish people living in the United States are being deported
back to Ireland.

Nineteen-year-old Dylan O’Riordan, originally from County Galway, has
already been detained for four months in punitive conditions by US
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In the Suffolk County House of
Corrections in Boston, the teenager is required to wear a bright yellow
jail jumpsuit at all times.

He moved to the US when he was 12 years old along with his parents, who
are both legal US Permanent Residents. He now faces deportation on the
basis he has overstayed his visa.

“I was aware how with Trump immigration was going to get a lot harder,
but I didn’t pay as much mind to it as I should have, which was my first
mistake,” he said.

Dylan is confined with 150 men in a section of the county jail
contracted to ICE. “There’s a lot of people from El Salvador, a lot of
Guatemalans, couple of Haitian people, and I’m the only Irish in the
whole facility,” he said.

O’Riordan’s lawyer points out that his client was brought here when he
was a child, but ICE won’t budge.

“Their position has been, well, he waived whatever rights he had when he
came,” said Tony Marino. “Twelve-year-olds don’t waive rights! I’ve
never seen anything like it. I can’t wrap my head around it.”

A prominent local Irish immigrant, John Cunningham, went on camera with
an Irish TV crew last year talking about his fear of living illegally in
Boston. Weeks later, ICE arrested him and sent him back to Ireland.

Kieran O’Sullivan, of the Irish Pastoral Centre in Boston, said that the
number of Irish being sent home from the US has surged, with a total of
34 Irish immigrants being deported in 2017.

Mr O’Sullivan explained there had been a number of high profile
‘detentions’ involving Irish people in the Boston area over the last 12
months.

He said it was “disturbing” that detainees spend lengthy periods in jail
while paperwork regarding their expulsion is processed.

“This causes considerable upset to the families of those detained
whether in the US or back home in Ireland,” he said. “This notion that’s
out there – that they’re a threat to the country – is nonsense.”

Emigration from Ireland has been officially encouraged by successive
Irish governments, and it is a process that continues. The late former
Tanaiste Brian Lenihan asked people to leave, telling them “we can’t all
live on a small island”. This week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar urged young
people without wealthy parents to emigrate to save up for a mortgage.

It is estimated that as many as 50,000 unauthorised Irish are living in
the shadows in America. Fine Gael TD John Deasy TD has been appointed to
be special envoy to the U.S. Congress to work out a solution to the
problem.

Fionnuala Quinlan, the Irish consul general in Boston, says with the
island’s small population there’s hardly a family in Ireland that
doesn’t know of someone living illegally in the U.S.

“That’s really why the government places such a strong emphasis on it,”
she says. “We know the impact that living an undocumented life has on
people not being able to go home for funerals or celebrations, the fear
and isolation that can result from that.”

Westminster edges closer towards unilateral amnesty

Posted by Jim on

A British MP has warned that new recruits could be deterred from joining
the British Army because of the possibility of prosecution for war
crimes.

Ruth Smeeth made the claim when she spoke in favour of an amnesty for
British soldiers who were responsible for killing civilians in Ireland.
The MP for Stoke said: “Our brave service personnel were acting under
orders; we asked them to do many things for us; we need to have their
backs.”

The concept of an amnesty has gained support among Westminster
backbenchers, who have depicted prosecutions of former British soldiers
are a “witch-hunt”.

An amnesty bill, if passed, would effectively close off investigations
into how British forces carried out state killings and colluded in
state-sanctioned attacks through unionist death squads.

Among those present for the debate were relatives of 10 people killed by
soldiers in the Ballymurphy massacre.

John Teggart, who lost his father, said the discussion had been “one
sided”.

“You can’t debate an issue when they are all singing off the same hymn
sheet,” he said. “I am not happy; the voice of victims was left sitting
in the public gallery.”

Sinn Fein’s Chris Hazzard accompanied the victims’ families to London.
He said: “There must be no immunity for people who have killed Irish
citizens. A fundamental democratic principle is equality under the law,
and this proposal runs entirely contrary to that.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly was also adamant that an amnesty for British
soldiers cannot be part of any resolution on dealing with the legacy of
the conflict.

“Everyone needs to be equal under the law, and there can be no immunity
for people who have killed Irish citizens,” he said.

“That is a basic principle and the DUP were adamant during negotiations
that there should be no amnesties, despite the fact that two of their
MPs have decided to support the statute of limitations.

“The way forward on legacy is not through self-serving and selective
amnesties. It is in the implementation of the mechanisms of the Stormont
House Agreement.

“In that agreement, all parties endorsed legacy mechanisms which should
have been operational long before now.

“The reason they aren’t is because they have been blocked by the British
government which is still refusing to honour its commitments under the
Stormont House Agreement and to abide by their international obligations
to victims.”

In a statement, Amnesty International called for the government to
reject any moves to legislate for a statute of limitations.

Grainne Teggart, the charity’s campaigns manager, said: “All victims of
human rights violations and abuses from Northern Ireland’s conflict have
a right to an independent investigation, with the possibility of
prosecutions to follow where the evidence leads.

“This is true, whatever the identity of the victim and whatever the
identity of the perpetrator. To remove this recourse would be a betrayal
of victims’ fundamental right to justice.”

Provocative flags hoisted ahead of Bloody Sunday weekend

Posted by Jim on

The sister of a man shot dead on Bloody Sunday has said the erection of
flags for the British Army’s Parachute Regiment outside Derry is “blind
sectarianism”.

The flags were put on lampposts in Newbuildings ahead of this weekend’s
Bloody Sunday commemorations.

Paratroopers were responsible for killing 14 people in Derry on January
30, 1972, and injuring many others during an anti-internment rally.

Kate Nash’s 19-year-old brother William died and her father Alex was
wounded on the day.

She said the flags were “designed to hurt people'”

“It is just blind sectarianism to taunt people. You wouldn’t do it. It
is hurtful. I am not paying any attention to it,” she said.

“It would disturb you. And I’m not going to let it disturb me. I have
more important things to do.

“I abhor sectarianism and I know that it is just done to hurt people,
and I’m just not even going to think about it.”

DUP MP Gregory Campbell denied the flags were sectarian, claiming they
were a reaction to bonfires and parades in the Bogside last summer.

“I don’t know about this occasion, but on previous occasions what has
happened is that a small number of individuals have put up Parachute
Regiment flags and they were in response to something that was done
either in the Bogside or around bonfires or around parades, such as the
12th of August,” he said.

BLOODY SUNDAY DISARRAY

Meanwhile, three republican groups have now pulled out of events to mark
the 46th anniversary of Bloody Sunday this weekend over what has been
described as an irrelevant and potentially hostile political agenda.

The decision by Republican Sinn Fein, the IRSP and Saoradh was prompted
after organisers produced a poster which listed a British mercenary
soldier who died in the conflict, William Best, alongside massacres
caused by the British forces of occupation.

IRSP spokesman Michael Kelly said that following “an emotive internal
debate, the Irish Republican Socialist Party have concluded that they
will not attend this year’s Bloody Sunday march, nor participate in any
events associated with the currently constituted Bloody Sunday
committee”.

He also expressed concern that some campaign groups have been denied
speaking rights in the past.

Republican Sinn Fein said in a statement that its concerns had not been
taken seriously by the Bloody Sunday Committee.

“After long and considered consultation with our membership we have
decided that it is impossible for us to attend this year’s Bloody Sunday
March, giving the anti-republican message expressed by the creation of
the official poster advertising the march, and which has been on display
this past week during events run by the Bloody Sunday Committee in Derry
City in relation to the march,” they said.

“It was important for us to give consideration to the opinions of the
republican community in Derry, who expressed similar concerns and
ultimately have taken the same decision.”

Saoradh spokesman Packy Carty confirmed the party will hold its own
wreath laying and anti-internment rally today [Saturday].

He said the original Bloody Sunday parade was organised to highlight
internment.

“Until such a time as the Bloody Sunday March returns to its roots, we,
as a movement, will mark the anniversary and continue to highlight
modern British internment and ongoing political repression,” he said.

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on January 26, 2018

January 26th


FRIENDS OF FIREFIGHTERS CALLING ALL RUNNERS
Are you interested in running a 5K in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on April 29th to help raise money for Friends of Firefighters? If so, please email Marlo at info@friendsoffirefighters.org to learn more. They would be grateful for your support!

FIRE, SMOKE COALITION PRESENTATION AT FDNY FIRE ACADEMY
On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at 1100 hours, the Fire, Smoke Coalition will make a presentation at the FDNY Fire Academy. The objectives of this presentation are to focus attention on and discuss related resources to address the deadly and life-long consequences of our exposure to fire and smoke. This presentation will review how to Prevent, Protect, Detect, and Diagnose exposures. This presentation will also discuss firefighter rehabilitation and medical monitoring using the Masimo RAD-57 handheld Pulse CO-Oximeter, as well as our routine exposures that are often overlooked and often underestimated. The content of this presentation is directly related to a Department initiative targeted to enhancing on-scene and post-fire operations rehabilitation and contamination reduction practices. All off-duty members are invited to attend. For additional information, email DC Joseph Jardin at Joseph.Jardin@fdny.nyc.gov.

Radio Free Eireann- Saturday -January 27th,2018

Posted by Jim on

 

RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday January 27th on WBAI Radio 99.5FM or WBAI.ORG at 12noon-1pm New York time or 5pm-6pm Irish time or anytime after the program on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES
Ballymurphy Massacre campaigner JOHN TEGGART,will describe his feelings as he and other campaigners sat in the British Parliament and heard Tories and DUP MPs praise a proposed new British law which could prevent any prosecutions of British troopers who murdered 11 people over a three day killing spree.
On the anniversary of his father’s death in a British prison,RFE will play a tape of Guildford Four member Gerry Conlon speaking about the incident in a live reading at Rocky Sullivan’s.
As we near the St. Patrick’s Day season,we will get hear from some of the artists who will be coming to New York to perform.
John McDonagh and Martin Galvin co-host

FDNY Families with Special Needs

Posted by Jim on

  

FDNY Families with Special Needs

By, Capt. Eugene Kananowicz (K-9)E-53 Capt. Michael Doda L-148

Having a family member with special needs is both difficult and rewarding. It affects all members of a family, even one’s extended family at the firehouse. It can tax a family’s resources to the limit. It can take a toll on any individual, especially ones who internalize challenges, always stay calm, put on a brave face when faced with adversity, and solve problems. Does that sound like anyone you know? I just described the traits of most of the exemplary firefighters that I know. It can be a challenge for those same individuals to accept help, after all, firefighters provide help. FDNY Special Needs group allows you to do BOTH, both give and receive. Another quality that makes our FDNY special is that we look after each other. The fact is, even with the best of intentions, other family, friends, and even some of the ‘brothers’ at the fire house may not ‘get’ what you are going thru. The members of this group understand the challenges. The reward comes when you share your experiences, knowledge, and accept guidance from people who share a common bond.   The group meets monthly thru-out the year and it is organized by the counseling services unit of the FDNY. Meeting dates, times, and locations are sent out via the Intranet, Diamondplate, and unit Emails. You will be notified directly via email from the information provided at your first meeting. Family members with special needs is a broad term and includes ALL types of disabilities, ALL ages (small children, teenagers, and adults), and ALL family members (children, parents, siblings, etc.) The meetings take a ‘kitchen table’ format and approach to the discussion (maybe with a little less sarcasm) with the hope that you might hear some good information and act on it. The hope is that the ‘brothers’ and/or ‘sisters’ in the group may have been thru a similar situation that can be helpful in making a decision on various topics easier.   I feel very strongly that having other firefighters around you that share this bond is vital. In 2016, my son Michael, in addition to his developmental issues, had a bad year that included several long hospital stays. My wife and I were faced with a difficult decision about choosing a long term acute rehab facility. We had to choose quickly, had no prior experience and limited information available…so we just started visiting facilities. Then it happened… I got connected with ‘Tom,’ a fellow firefighter that I used to work with, and his wife, and they had picked the very same facility for their son that we were visiting. That sealed the deal! They gave us a rundown of the type of services provided there and it was exactly what my child needed. Wow! Words cannot express the relief we felt in having a helpful hand in this decision. I am happy to report that both family members are doing very well.   The stress affecting our families, marriages, and/or other relationships is very real. It is financial, emotional, relational, and even physical. I am sure that attending a meeting, even if you just come to listen and check it out, will provide some much needed stress relief, good conversation, and hopefully some good information to assist your family member with special needs. If you would like more information, call or email:

Capt. Michael Doda L-148 dodam@fdny.nyc.gov mdoda@aol.com 646-251-7590   Capt. Eugene Kananowicz (K-9) Eng. 53 kananoE@fdny.nyc.gov ek953@icloud.com 516-238-1024   Kim Ahearn Young, LCSW Clinical Director CSU Kimberly.Young@fdny.nyc.gov 251 Lafayette St. 3rd Fl. New York, NY 10012 212-570-1693 x 322

Mairtin O’Muilleoir to speak at Manhattan College

Posted by Jim on

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

 

By Irish Echo Staff

 

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, a former Lord Mayor of Belfast and currently a member of the Legislative Assembly for South Belfast, will visit Manhattan College on Friday, January 26 for a presentation and discussion on the current state of affairs in the North capital.

The event will begin at 11.30 a.m. in room 5C of the Raymond W. Kelly ’63 Student Commons. It is free and open to the general public.

A tireless advocate for peacemaking and supporter of a new and resurgent Belfast, Ó Muilleoir, said a release, has launched a series of initiatives designed to showcase the best of Belfast.

Added the release: “An Irish speaker, Ó Muilleoir believes strongly in the promotion of culture as the bedrock of successful and diverse communities. A journalist and author, his books in Irish and English include Belfast’s Dome of Delight, a history of Belfast City Hall, and the Irish novella, Ceap Cuddles.

“Ó Muilleoir served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from June 2013 to June 2014. During his term, he appointed 10 chaplains, including representatives of the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist faiths as well as ministers from the four main Christian churches.

“He initiated a series of efforts to build bridges to political opponents, including a meeting with Queen Elizabeth. He also pioneered transatlantic links, signing a sister city agreement with the Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh and welcomed President Barack Obama to Belfast.”

In December 2017, the Manhattan College men’s basketball team participated in the inaugural Belfast Classic, becoming the first team to win a game played within the European Union.

The team and student spirit squads also traveled around Belfast and participated in community service activities during their time in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Ó Muilleoir heads Belfast Media Group, the Echo’s parent company.

Sean Bresnahan on a United Ireland.

Posted by Jim on January 21, 2018

Sean Bresnahan on a United Ireland.

The existing two state arrangements in Ireland are the creation of British imperialism, designed to preserve imperial power in Ireland and the continued domination of Westminster — and those allied to Westminster — over the affairs of Ireland at the expense of her people.

Britain’s partition of Ireland, under the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, backed by supporting legislation employed since, can fairly be considered the product of military force — and indeed the continuing employment of that force.

The six and 26-county states stand in violation of Ireland’s sovereignty and are founded on the usurp of the Irish Republic, declared in law on 21st January 1919, as ratified by the Irish people through the contemporary democratic process of the time. This remains the last occasion Ireland was able to exercise genuine self-determination.

As such, their legitimacy is open to contest by those unwilling to view partition as a fair political settlement or an arrangement born of a democratic process, or indeed any process beyond the deployment of power in the form of superior military force and the threat of force — an act which itself constitutes the use of force.

Partition, and the states spawned thereof, can rightly then be held not only as illegitimate but indeed illegal and thus subject to challenge.

Hello Mary Lou!

Posted by Jim on

 

Hello Mary Lou, goodbye Gerry: Sinn Féin gets a new face at the top

@IrishCentral

At a special party conference in Dublin on February 10th the Sinn Féin party will officially elect a new leader in succession to Gerry Adams, who has held the position since 1983.

Since there is only one candidate, the result is a foregone conclusion: when nominations closed, Mary-Lou McDonald was the only name on the list, so it is as certain as anything can ever be in politics that she will become the party’s Uachtarán (pronounced “ookhtarawn”, Irish for President).

At 69, Adams is two years younger than Donald Trump and it is likely he will still have a significant role, at least on a consultative basis, in the party he has been leading for 35 years.

Comparing the results of the Irish and Middle East peace processes, Bill Clinton is reported to have told Adams once: “The difference between you and Arafat, Gerry, is that you delivered.” Given the part Adams has played in persuading the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to end its armed campaign and put its faith in normal electoral activity by its political counterpart, Sinn Féin, it is hard to believe that Adams will completely disappear from the scene although he will presumably become less visible.

But Mary Lou McDonald will be the main public face of the party and her arrival into the top job marks a process of generational change in Sinn Féin. The violence in Northern Ireland began in 1969 which was the year she was born. Adams consistently denies having been a member of the IRA but himself and his close friend Martin McGuinness, who died last year, have long been regarded as the pivotal figures in the republican movement in Ireland.

Gerry Adams, Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald. Credit: ROLLINGNEWS

Gerry Adams, Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald. Credit: ROLLINGNEWS

Although she has been very loyal to Adams and defended her leader to the hilt when allegations were made linking him to certain controversial episodes in the Northern Ireland conflict, McDonald herself would not be associated in the public mind with the “Troubles” as they are called.

She is best-known for her combative interventions in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament, as well as her formidable debating skills in panel discussions on TV and radio. Whereas Adams also has his strengths, he can be a poor performer in the broadcast media on economi issues and a couple of “car-crash” interviews he gave in the last general election to Dáil Éireann in 2016 are thought to have damaged his party’s prospects at the time.

Adams comes across as far more comfortable in a purely Northern Ireland context and appears ill at ease and at times poorly-informed on political issues south of the border. McDonald is a more formidable opponent in Dáil debates, where she gives as good as she gets. She was a major focus of media attention in November 2014 when, after a bitter row on the controversial issue of water charges, she refused to leave the Dáil chamber and staged a four-hour “sit-in” despite being suspended from the House.

Cynics and political rivals said McDonald was simply acting to divert attention from a major controversy at the time over the manner in which the republican movement had dealt with allegations of sexual abuse by some of its activists.

How will Sinn Féin fare in electoral terms under its new leader? Her profile as a parliamentarian rather than a former participant in the northern conflict is seen as an advantage with the voters.

However ,there is a submerged element among the electorate who would have a certain, usually-discreet, admiration for Adams and his role in the Troubles. Will they turn to Mary Lou next time, or just stay at home: time will tell.

Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald. Credit: RollingNews.ie

Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald. Credit: RollingNews.ie

It is likely that her background in middle-class south Dublin will make Sinn Féin more acceptable as a future participant in government. Mary Lou (her birth-name is Mary Louise) comes from the leafy suburb of Rathgar and attended a private, fee-paying secondary school before going on to Trinity College Dublin where she studied English Literature.

She later took a Master’s degree in European Integration Studies at the University of Limerick and worked for a time at the Institute of international and European Affairs in Dublin. She met her future husband, Martin Lanigan, in 1990; they were married six years later and have two children, a boy and a girl. Martin works in a gas utility company and the family live on Dublin’s northside.

Her first involvement with party politics was as a member of Fianna Fáil. At the party’s ardfheis (national conference) in 1998, she made a speech on the need for police reform in Northern Ireland to ensure fairer representation of the nationalist community. F

ianna Fáil sources say her aspiration to achieve political office was blocked by the late Brian Lenihan Jr, whereas she herself insists she moved over to Sinn Féin because they were more serious about achieving social equality and a United Ireland.

She also became chair of a broad-based republican organisation called the Irish National Congress and took an active interest in the long-running Drumcree dispute north of the border between local nationalist residents and Orange Order members seeking to hold a parade on the Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

She ran unsuccessfully for the Dáil as a Sinn Féin candidate in the 2002 and 2007 general elections. In 2004, she got elected as a Member of the European Parliament for Dublin but lost her seat in the 2009 European elections. She was elected to the Dáil in the 2011 general election for the constituency of Dublin Central and has held that seat since then. In 2009 she succeeded Pat Doherty as vice-president of Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin has been involved in a stand-off with the Democratic Unionist Party in the north, leading to the suspension of the power-sharing administration, and it will be interesting to observe McDonald’s role in attempting to resolve that dispute. In the south, although the two main parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, have disavowed the prospect of a coalition with Sinn Féin, the advent of Mary Lou to the position of president means their objections will carry rather less weight than in the era of Gerry Adams.

Her impeccably middle-class Dublin background and strong parliamentary record mean she cannot be ruled out on the basis of historical involvement in the Northern Ireland conflict. In the past, strong declarations of opposition to coalition with specific parties have given way to more practical considerations and this could well happen in the future.

Politics is meant to be about principles but it is also a numbers game and if Sinn Féin is needed to make up the numbers, Mary Lou McDonald could be destined for high office in a coalition government. Hello Minister Mary Lou?

Radio Free Eireann Saturday Jan. 20 12:00 noon

Posted by Jim on January 19, 2018

RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday January 20th on WBAI Radio 99.5FM or WBAI.ORG at 12noon-1pm New York time or 5pm-6pm Irish time or anytime after the program on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES
Former political prisoner, author and political commentator ANTHONY McINTYRE will report on Karen Bradley,who despite never having been to the north of Ireland was appointed as British colonial secretary, Bradley’s new talks to restore Stormont,Barry McElduff’s resignation and the by-election for his seat.
Saoradh organizer JOE BARR will tell us about a controversy regarding next week’s Bloody Sunday March in Derry,and why sadly for the first time in years he will not be attending.
John McDonagh and Martin Galvin co-host

 

Sunday Bloody Sunday Jan. 30, 1972 – still no arrests

Posted by Jim on

The dead

Mural by the Bogside Artists depicting all who were killed by the British Army on the day

Belt worn by Patrick Doherty. The notch was made by the bullet that killed him.[48]

In all, 26 people were shot by the paratroopers; 13 died on the day and another died four months later. Most of them were killed in four main areas: the rubble barricade across Rossville Street, the courtyard car park of Rossville Flats (on the north side of the flats), the courtyard car park of Glenfada Park, and the forecourt of Rossville Flats (on the south side of the flats).[42]

All of the soldiers responsible insisted that they had shot at, and hit, gunmen or bomb-throwers. The Saville Report concluded that all of those shot were unarmed and that none were posing a serious threat. It also concluded that none of the soldiers fired in response to attacks, or threatened attacks, by gunmen or bomb-throwers.[49]

The casualties are listed in the order in which they were killed

John ‘Jackie’ Duddy,

age 17.

Shot as he ran away from soldiers in the car park of Rossville Flats.[42] The bullet struck him in the shoulder and entered his chest. Three witnesses said they saw a soldier take deliberate aim at the youth as he ran.[42] He was the first fatality on Bloody Sunday.[42] Like Saville, Widgery also concluded that Kelly was unarmed.[42] His nephew is boxer John Duddy.

Michael Kelly,

age 17

Shot in the stomach while standing at the rubble barricade on Rossville Street. Both Saville and Widgery concluded that Kelly was unarmed.[42

Hugh Gilmour

age 17

Shot through his left elbow, the bullet then entering his chest[50] as he ran away from the paratroopers near the rubble barricade on Rossville Street.[42] Widgery acknowledged that a photograph taken seconds after Gilmour was hit corroborated witness reports that he was unarmed, and that tests for gunshot residue were negative.[5]

William Nash,

age 19

Shot in the chest at the rubble barricade. Witnesses stated Nash was unarmed.[42] Three people were shot while apparently going to his aid, including his father Alexander Nash.[51]

John Young,

age 17

Shot in the face at the rubble barricade, apparently while crouching and going to the aid of William Nash.[51] Two witnesses stated Young was unarmed.[42]

Michael McDaid,

age 20

Shot in the face at the rubble barricade, apparently while crouching and going to the aid of William Nash.[51]

Kevin McElhinney,

age 17

Shot from behind, near the rubble barricade, while attempting to crawl to safety. Two witnesses stated McElhinney was unarmed.[42]

James ‘Jim’ Wray,

age 22

Shot in the back while running away from soldiers in Glenfada Park courtyard. He was then shot again in the back as he lay mortally wounded on the ground. Witnesses, who were not called to the Widgery Tribunal, stated that Wray was calling out that he could not move his legs before he was shot the second time.[42]

William McKinney,

age 26

Shot in the back[52] as he attempted to flee through Glenfada Park courtyard.[53][54]

Gerard McKinney,

age 35

Shot in the chest at Abbey Park. A soldier ran through an alleyway from Glenfada Park and shot him from a few yards away. Witnesses said that when he saw the soldier, McKinney stopped and held up his arms, shouting “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”, before being shot. The bullet apparently went through his body and struck Gerard Donaghy behind him.[42]

Gerard Donaghy,

age 17

Shot in the stomach at Abbey Park while standing behind Gerard McKinney. Both were apparently struck by the same bullet. Bystanders brought Donaghy to a nearby house, where he was examined by a doctor. The doctor opened Donaghy’s clothes to examine him, and his pockets were also searched for identification. Two bystanders then attempted to drive Donaghy to hospital, but the car was stopped at an Army checkpoint. They were ordered to leave the car and a soldier drove it to a Regimental Aid Post, where an Army medical officer pronounced Donaghy dead.

Shortly after, soldiers found four nail bombs in his pockets. The civilians who searched him, the soldier who drove him to the Army post, and the Army medical officer, all said that they did not see any bombs. This led to claims that soldiers planted the bombs on Donaghy to justify the killings. Donaghy was a member of Fianna Éireann, an IRA-linked republican youth movement.[42] Paddy Ward, a police informer[55] who gave evidence at the Saville Inquiry, claimed he gave two nail bombs to Donaghy several hours before he was shot.[56] The Saville Report concluded that the bombs were probably in Donaghy’s pockets when he was shot. However, it concluded that he was not about to throw a bomb when he was shot; and that he was not shot because he had bombs. “He was shot while trying to escape from the soldiers”.[42]

Patrick Doherty,

age 31

Shot from behind while attempting to crawl to safety in the forecourt of Rossville Flats. He was shot by soldiers who came out of Glenfada Park. Doherty was photographed, moments before and after he died, by French journalist Gilles Peress. Despite testimony from “Soldier F” that he had shot a man holding a pistol, Widgery acknowledged that the photographs show Doherty was unarmed, and that forensic tests on his hands for gunshot residue proved negative.[42][57]

Bernard ‘Barney’ McGuigan,

age 41

Shot in the head when he walked out from cover to help Patrick Doherty. He had been waving a white handkerchief to indicate his peaceful intentions.[5][42]

John Johnston,

age 59

Shot in the leg and left shoulder on William Street 15 minutes before the rest of the shooting started.[42][58] Johnston was not on the march, but on his way to visit a friend in Glenfada Park.[58] He died on 16 June 1972; his death has been attributed to the injuries he received on the day. He was the only one not to die immediately or soon after being shot.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Posted by Jim on

By John Lennon

 

Well it was sunday
bloody sunday
When they shot the people there
The crys of thirteen martyrs
Filled the free derry air.
Is there any one among you
Dare to blame it on the kids?
Not a soldier boy was
bleeding

When they nailed the
coffin lidds!

Sunday bloody sunday
Bloody sunday’s the day!

You claim to be majority
Well you know that it’s a lie
You’re really a minority
Oh this sweet emerald isle.
When Stormont bans
our marchers

They’ve got a lot to learn
Internment is no answer
It’s those mother’s turn
to burn!

Sunday bloody sunday
Bloody sunday’s the day!

You anglo pigs and scotties
Sent to colonize the north
You wave your bloody
Union Jacks
And you know what it’s worth!
How dare you hold on to ransom
A people proud and free
Keep ireland for the irish
Put the english back to sea!

Sunday bloody sunday
Bloody sunday’s the day!

Yes it’s always bloody sunday
In the concentration camps
Keep Falls and roads free forever
From the bloody english hands

Repatriate to britain
All of you who call it home
Leave ireland to the irish
Not for London or for Rome!

Sunday bloody sunday
Bloody sunday’s the day!

Posted by Jim on January 12, 2018

Radio Free Eireann

January 13th Saturday 12:00 noon in New York and 5:00 pm in Ireland on WBAI 99.5 FM. WBAI also streams the show on the internet.

Martin Galvin will interview Belfast’s Relatives For Justice Leader Mark Thompson on events concerning the families of those killed by British troops and their supporters in Ireland.

Bloody Sunday March

Posted by Jim on

Bloody Sunday March
Best suits, coats , gloves and hats
The whole town had set off to mass
Laughing, joking, they’re once a week natter,
Discussing the things that really do matter
A shout from across “ye fur the march the day”
“For civil rights, sure ye couldn’t keep me away”
Dockers, window cleaners, butchers and, bakers…
Lawyers, doctors, and all the shirt makers
Schoolteachers, unemployed, even undertakers
Bankers, borrowers, and all the bookmakers
They came in their thousands on that January afternoon
They came with no notion of what was going to happen soon
Behind the scenes, paratroopers, waiting for the order
To get in there, to kill , maim, cause mayhem and disorder
Bogwogs, fenian thugs, slags,
Whores rearing scum
Names we were called
By Britain’s great sons.
This wasn’t just any day
They went for a cull
They left us in silence
Just a heart wrenching lull
They laughed back at barracks
Patting each others backs,
While mothers and fathers
Tried to trace their wanes tracks
They found them, dead and wounded
Sons daughters, husbands, a wife
Young Peggy, shot and wounded
Trying to save a boys life
Well Britain that day I cursed you
May you forever be damned
For that day you came
And sullied my land

Kings County Board of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians

Posted by Jim on

REMINDER:

 

The Kings County Board of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Inc. cordially invites you to join us on Sunday, February 11, 2018 at our 99th Annual St. Brigid Celebration to be held at Buckley’s Restaurant, located at 2926 Avenue S, Brooklyn, NY 11229. We will start our Celebration in Honor of our Patron Saint with Mass at 11:00 am followed by Brunch. Tickets for Brunch are $45.00 per person which includes food, coffee, tea, cake, soda and live music.

        In conjunction with our Brunch, we will be printing our Annual Souvenir Booklet. Mindful of your past generosity, we are asking once again for your support. PLEASE SEE THE ENCLOSED JOURNAL LETTER and return along with your ticket form attached. You may contact Mary Hogan (Booklet Chairperson) at 917 699-9290 or via email: LAOHBKLYN@AOL.COM

        St. Brigid is the Patron Saint of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians as well as the Patron Saint of Ireland. St. Brigid’s Feast Day is one of the LAOH national holidays which is celebrated by Hibernians across the country. St. Brigid is known throughout the world for her kindness and charity towards others; it is St. Brigid that we emulate when we practice our Motto: “FRIENDSHIP, UNITY AND CHRISTIAN CHARITY”.

        It is our tradition in Brooklyn that when we come together with our family and friends to celebrate St. Brigid, we also bestow the prestigious LAOH Kings County St. Brigid Award; this award honors one of our sisters who exemplifies our Motto of Friendship, Unity, and Christian Charity. We will also be recognizing our Kings County LAOH sisters who will be honored as Aides/Deputy Marshals at this year’s St. Patrick Day Parades. So please bring your family and friends and join us on this special day!  For ticket reservations to our Brunch, please contact Ms. Maureen Careccia, Chairperson at 646-303-9694 or via e-mail: sweetlady1957@hotmail.com .

 

All checks should be made payable to “Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians”

(please spell out our name, the bank will no longer cash checks made out to LAOH)

and mailed to:

Ms. Maureen Careccia, 2427 East 29th Street, Brooklyn, NY  11235

NO TICKETS WILL BE SOLD AT THE DOOR.

 

Seating is by reservation only and must be paid in full by January 10, 2018. Everyone is welcome and we look forward to sharing this special day with our friends and family!

A United Ireland within 5 years?

Posted by Jim on January 10, 2018

This article from the Huffington Post provides a reality check for the British Government and for the Unionists/Loyalists/Protestants of Northern Ireland. A United Ireland is not only right and proper but inevitable.

In the meantime, all concerned should concentrate on building up the Beloved Community in Northern Ireland. 

The term, “The Beloved Community” was first devised at the beginning of the 20TH Century by the important American philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce (1855–1916). But it was Blessed Martin Luther King, Jr. who made the term famous, investing it with a deeper and wider meaning.  The King Center explains:
‘For Dr. King, The Beloved Community was not a lofty utopian goal to be confused with the rapturous image of the Peaceable Kingdom, in which lions and lambs coexist in idyllic harmony. Rather, The Beloved Community was for him a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.
Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.’”  —Fr. Sean McManus  

A United Ireland Is Five Years Away. We Need To Start Planning For It Now

When we look back, it will be clear that 2017 was the moment everything changed

Kevin Meagher. Huffington Post. UK Edition.Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Something fundamental has changed in Northern Ireland this past year.

2017 will be seen as the point when the argument for the reunification of the island of Ireland – partitioned in 1921 as a fig-leaf to cover Britain’s withdrawal from much of the rest of its first colony – crystallized into a coherent, evidence-based proposition with clear and growing support.

Last March’s elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly saw Sinn Fein come within 1,100 votes from topping the poll. Just thirty odd thousand votes now separate parties committed to remaining in the UK from parties explicitly backing Irish unity. That’s the equivalent of three council wards.

Unionism no longer has the numbers to dominate proceedings and the growing probability is that Northern Ireland will actually cease to exist by the mid-2020s.

Especially as a wave of enthusiasm for Irish unity is building among the young. Last month, a Lucid Talkpoll asked a cross-section of 18-44 year olds whether they wanted to ‘leave’ and become part of a single Irish state or ‘remain’ in the UK. Fifty-six per cent wanted to live in a united Ireland and just 34 per cent opted for the status quo.

Clearly, Brexit has played a large part in bringing the debate into focus. After all, Theresa May conceded before Christmas that there must be no hard Border between Northern and southern Ireland and promised to avoid regulatory divergence between the two jurisdictions, however unworkable that sounds in practice.

But Brexit is merely an accelerant poured over the dry tinder of electoral, demographic, economic and constitutional changes that will deliver a united Ireland whether or not Britain self-ejects from the European Union.

As such, a crisis is looming in the next parliament. The question of Irish reunification will need to be resolved and British politicians need to remove their heads from the sand and start planning for this change in earnest.

The next scheduled assembly elections are due in 2022. By then, Sinn Fein will probably be the largest party and, if votes for Irish nationalist parties outweigh those for Unionists, it will be impossible to deny a referendum on the North’s constitutional status, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement.

As soon as its clear nationalism has the votes, there will have to be a Border poll and a majority for Irish unity sees Northern Ireland ceasing to exist
This is all fairly predictable and the main British parties need to make an explicit manifesto commitment to hold a Border poll in the likelihood of this happening.

Long-term population changes make reunification inevitable in any event. Northern Ireland was created as a Protestant-Unionist fief in 1921[by the British “Government of Ireland Act,” 1920] and was governed like that for the first half century of its existence, with Catholic-Nationalists frozen out of every level of political and economic decision-making.

Now, Catholics outnumber Protestants among the under-35s and at every level of the education system – from nurseries to universities. Structurally, the game is up for Unionism. The future belongs to Nationalists. Unionists’ sheer lack of generosity towards them (evidenced in the currently row over the denial of an Irish language act) guarantees Unionism will never have much crossover appeal – and has left it too late to change tack.

And forget the DUP’s deal with the Tories – that’s little more than a discountable footnote in British political history. The Tories regard them as little more than useful idiots, easily bought off with a dollop of public money that, in all likelihood, was coming to Northern Ireland anyway.

The DUP’s Arlene Foster has proven to be comprehensively out of her depth as the de facto leader of political Unionism. Forced to account for her role in introducing the Renewable Heat Incentive Fiasco – the bungled commercial energy scheme which has wracked-up a £700million liability – she brought the DUP to near cataclysm. Her party has seen the future. But it isn’t Orange.

It is highly likely that the independent review into the fiasco, led by retired judge Sir Patrick Coghlin, will park this mess squarely at her door and she will be gone for good in the next 12 months.

Across the Irish Sea, the likelihood of a second referendum on Scottish independence in the next few years remains very real. Having narrowly lost in 2014, nationalist demands for separation have been turbo-charged by the anger of pro-European Scots who resent being forced out of the EU by the English. Given the Scottish antecedents of many Ulster Protestants, the psychological blow of ‘losing’ their kith and kin would be catastrophic.

As if that wasn’t enough, it is entirely feasible to see Jeremy Corbyn – a long-term Irish republican sympathizer – emerging as Prime Minister if Theresa May’s shambolic government collapses before 2022 (a near racing certainty). In case Unionists hadn’t noticed, we are truly through the looking glass these days.

No wonder Gerry Adams feels it’s now safe to retire.

In contrast, Northern Ireland, as a concept, limps on to its centenary in 2021. There will be little to celebrate. We are now in injury time. As soon as its clear Nationalism has the votes, there will have to be a Border poll and a majority for Irish unity sees Northern Ireland ceasing to exist.

Is it really that simple?

Yes, aided, I would argue, by the sheer paucity of coherent arguments for retaining the Union. It could be suggested this has long been the case, but even the most objective analyst would now question how and why the place will, or should, endure. The argument for the constitutional status quo hangs by a gossamer thread.

Irish unity is now a medium term probability. Within five years, it will have gained unstoppable momentum. When we look back, it will be clear that 2017 was the moment everything changed.

Official Communication of the UFA

Posted by Jim on

 January 9th

WTC Retired Lieutenant Joseph Stach Ladder Company 6

WAKE Thursday, January 11th from 2-4pm & 7-9pm  St. Ann’s Church 16 Jefferson Street Nyack NY 10960   FUNERAL MASS Friday, January 12th at 11am (REVISED TIME) St. Ann’s Church 16 Jefferson Street Nyack NY 10960

All Off-Duty Members should attend in Class A Uniform.

FDNY BOXING SAVE THE DATE: FRIDAY, MARCH 30th

Posted by Jim on

  The FDNY Boxing Team will take on the Garda Siochana Boxing Club of the Irish National Police Service for the 2018 Transatlantic Championship.  This event, a/k/a “War on the West Side” will take place at the highly acclaimed Terminal 5, located at 610 West 56th Street.  This venue features multiple spacious bars, a large ground floor viewing area, balconies overlooking the ring on floors two and three, plus a rooftop cigar bar where all the action can be seen on their two big screens.   General admission is only $30 and VIP Ringside cost $50.  Tickets are on sale now at www.FDNYBOXING.com or www.AXS.com.   Group sales of 10 or more are available for FDNY members at a 25% discount by calling Bobby McGuire, President FDNY Boxing at 917-282-8727 (fdnyboxing@aol.com).  It makes for a great company night out.   They are also looking to feature a couple of “grudge” matches.  So if you have a problem with another member and both parties agree to settle it in the ring, they would love to hear from you.  Any boxers under 201 lbs would need to be within 10 lbs of each other.  You would be scheduled to box three 1 minute rounds.  Experience is not necessary but they highly recommend that you start training ASAP.  If you don’t have a trainer or coach, theirs are available at no cost.   As always, proceeds from this event will benefit Building Homes for Heroes.  This organization builds mortgage free, handicap accessible homes for our veterans returning home with severe injuries.  We look forward to seeing you at the fights.

Karen Bradley is the new British Direct Ruler

Posted by Jim on January 8, 2018

 

A 47-year-old English MP has been appointed as the new British Direct
Ruler in the north of Ireland, taking over from the departing James
Brokenshire. Karen Bradley has no known connection to Ireland.

The announcement was made this evening by British Prime Minister Theresa
May as part of a general cabinet reshuffle.

Bradley has previously worked on developing economic and fiscal policies
for the Tories before securing a position at the Home Office in 2015,
where she had responsibility for Organised Crime. She won a promotion to
the post of Culture Secretary in 2016 before today’s move, viewed as a
sideways promotion in the ranks of the British government. Late last
year she made headlines for her concerns over the broadcasting takeover
of Sky plc by 21st Century Fox.

Bradley represents her home constituency of Staffordshire Moorlands,
near the city of Stoke in the English midlands, and has a degree in
Mathematics. She becomes the third female British Direct Ruler, after Mo
Mowlam and Theresa Villiers. She is is thought to be ambivalent on
Brexit, but previously described a move to take Britain out of the EU
single market as “nonsensical”.

Her appointment will raise hopes of a new Tory departure on the Irish
peace process and Brexit negotiations on the border.

Earlier today, it was revealed that James Brokenshire was stepping down
as Direct Ruler after just 18 months in the post, ostensibly for health
reasons.

In his letter of resignation to Ms May, Brokenshire said he expected to
be able to return to work �relatively quickly� after an upcoming
surgical procedure. However, he added that he would not �be able to give
the effort, energy and complete focus needed at this important time� and
therefore believed that �the right thing at this time” is to “stand down
from my current responsibilities�.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said Brokenshire “had immersed himself fully in
the role by dedicating long hours to trying to make progress. James
leaves the role with a very intimate knowledge of Northern Ireland and I
look forward to working with him again in the future.”

In a tweet, Sinn Fein’s leader in the north, Michelle O’Neill, said she
wished Mr Brokenshire a “speedy recovery”. She added: “Best wishes to
you and your family at this time.”

British Direct Ruler quits

Posted by Jim on

 

The head of British government in the north of Ireland, James
Brokenshire, has quit the Tory cabinet ahead of a major reshuffle by
Prime Minister Theresa May.

The British government confirmed the resignation but gave no further
details officially. However, it was claimed the 50-year-old minister
decided to stand down because he is facing a surgical procedure on his
right lung.

It is Britain’s first major reshuffle since Ms May took office. Up to
six ministers are expected to be sacked — but the MP from Kent in
southeast England was not among ministers who were predicted to go.

Brokenshire’s spell at the head of Britain’s ‘Northern Ireland Office’
was marked by dismal failure, even by the standard of his office, and he
became known chiefly for his robotic delivery of NIO holding statements.

During his period in the job, he presided over the collapse of the
devolved institutions and the effective return of full Direct Rule. In
particular, his decision to impose himself as the hopelessly compromised
chair of talks between Sinn Fein and unionists, despite his party
critically depending on the DUP for a majority at Westminster, fatally
undermined negotiations.

His stance on Brexit was implacably in support of May, his former boss
at the Home Office, and failed to take into account his brief in the
north of Ireland. In addition, his decision to continue a Tory policy of
selective internment of former republican political prisoners caused him
to become a hate figure for hardline republican groups, but won favour
with with the DUP.

His replacement could abandon these policies and lay the groundwork for
a new impetus to restore the Stormont Assembly in Belfast. However, any
new Direct Ruler sent by May while under the malign influence of the
DUP, and is likely be seen to be tainted. His replacement is likely to
be revealed later today.

Relatives For Justice

Posted by Jim on January 4, 2018

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on January 3, 2018

January 3rd

NEW YORK ISLANDERS FIRE DEPARTMENT APPRECIATION NIGHT

Join the New York Islanders on Thursday, January 18th at 7 PM for Fire Department Appreciation Night when they face off against the Boston Bruins. All participants that purchase a special ticket will receive an exclusive New York Islanders Fire Department T-shirt. A portion of each special ticket sold will benefit the FDNY Foundation.

For more information, please visit https://www.fevo.com/…/New-York-Islanders-vs-Boston-Bruins-… or contact Patrick Bogan at 718-942-9689 or patrick.bogan@newyorkislanders.com.

Tory/DUP pact a major obstacle

Posted by Jim on January 1, 2018

 

“The Tory/DUP deal is a major obstacle in the path of a full return to duty by our MLAs as it is difficult to see how Secretary of State James Brokenshire can maintain that he is an independent chair of the negotiations while being inextricably linked to one of the conflicting parties.”

Irish News Editorial. Belfast. Monday, January 1, 2017
As we enter a new year today, there can be no doubt that our two main political priorities are addressing the Brexit crisis and ending the suspension of our devolved institutions.

Avoiding disaster over Brexit is an absolute imperative, and we would be in a much stronger position to achieve this objective if our power-sharing administration was back in place.

While the recent history of Stormont may have attracted little enthusiasm among ordinary citizens, the idea that its absence could allow a discredited Westminster pact between the Conservatives and the DUP to take unchallenged and extremely damaging decisions is not sustainable.

The Tory/DUP deal is a major obstacle in the path of a full return to duty by our MLAs as it is difficult to see how Secretary of State James Brokenshire can maintain that he is an independent chair of the negotiations while being inextricably linked to one of the conflicting parties.

However, if Mr Brokenshire manages to take a back seat, the other issues on the table, particularly the campaign for an Irish language act, are all fully capable of being resolved.

What is even more important is for all of our politicians to accept that no one has an overall majority in the Assembly and that progress can only be made in a climate of mutual respect.

In the first instance, the DUP needs to realize that a 28 per cent share of the overall vote entitles it to be an equal partner in government and not in any sense the dominant force.

If the Executive can be restored, one initiative which could surely be supported by ministers on all sides would be extending an invitation to the UK Brexit minister David Davis to make a long overdue visit to the Irish border region.

Nationalists and Unionists tend to have different perspectives on the EU debate but there is general agreement that an Toutcome which undermines trade in any part of Ireland and restricts the free movement of people would be appalling.

It is shocking that Mr. Davis knows that these questions are at the top of his department’s agenda but, during his 18 months in office, has managed a single brief trip to Belfast during which he conspicuously failed to go anywhere near The border and take on board the concerns of residents there, from all sections of society.

Security considerations cannot be a factor, as Margaret Thatcher, a Tory icon as prime minister between 1979 and 1990, was able to regularly arrive at locations from Derry to south Armagh during the height of The Troubles.

Attempting to follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Thatcher may not transform the reputation of the hapless Mr. Davis or transform the wider process but it would at least represent a small and symbolic step in the right direction.

Tensions over new Saoradh office

Posted by Jim on December 31, 2017

Unionists have protested after republican party Saoradh opened a new
office in the centre of a County Tyrone town of Dungannon.

The group, which was formed last year, put signs up outside the office
in the town square in Dungannon last week. The square is often used as a
route for sectarian unionist parades and is home to a British Army war
memorial, prompting fears of confrontations.

The group describes itself as an “unashamed revolutionary party” and is
strongly left-wing — last week it condemned an open letter by prominent
nationalist professionals urging greater involvement by Dublin in the
North as “a Catholic Bourgeois letter”.

It already has offices in Derry and Belfast and national chairman Davy
Jordan said the party also intends to open an office in Dublin. It plans
to fly the Irish tricolour from its office in Dungannon on specific days
each year.

“We are definitely not meaning to cause offence to anybody, that’s not
the reason for being in the square,” Mr Jordan said. “We have as much
right to be in the square as anyone else.”

It is understood the new office will also function as a base for the
Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, a support group for
republican prisoners.

Two signs bearing the image of 1916 Easter Rising leader Thomas Clarke,
a native of Dungannon, and Kevin Barry, a republican executed by the
British in 1920, also raised unionist hackles.

Ulster Unionist councillor Walter Cuddy said he was “disappointed” by
the development but powerless to prevent it.

“If they are a legal organisation and allowed to have an office we can’t
stop that in a democracy,” he said.

Loughinisland ruling ignites legal tussle

Posted by Jim on

Unionists are seeking to quash findings of collusion between the RUC
police and unionist paramilitaries in up to six Police Ombudsman reports
following a surprise court judgment before Christmas.

A judge claimed that Ombudsman Michael Maguire went beyond his statutory
powers in reaching conclusions about collusion on the Loughinisland
massacre.

Two retired RUC men had challenged a report last June over the 1994
murder of six people at the Heights Bar by the paramilitary UVF in which
the ombudsman concluded that “collusion was a significant feature”.

However, Mr Justice McCloskey ruled that the RUC men were subjected to
“destructive and withering condemnations” in the report without due
process.

The ruling came as a blow to the victims of the massacre.

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was murdered in the Heights Bar, said
that last Christmas was the first where they felt that “the truth had
been set free and allowed to breath”.

“This judgment, which has been delivered four days prior to Christmas
Day, has devastated us all,” she said. “We feel that the truth has again
been suffocated. We will study this judgment over Christmas and renew
our efforts to defend the inconvenient truth, in the New Year”

Niall Murphy, lawyer for the families of those bereaved, said the case
had been premised entirely on procedural grounds. He noted that the two
RUC men had not challenged a single fact contained in the Police
Ombudsman’s report.

“The facts therefore remain as facts,” he said, and pointed to the
weight of evidence to support the allegations of collusion.

DUP MP Ian Paisley called on the British government to “move to set
false accusations aside” in six reports by the Ombusdman’s office./

Among the reports is the 2007 Operation Ballast findings by Nuala O’Loan
into the activities of the north Belfast UVF and the killing of Raymond
McCord junior.

The former ombudsman spent three and a half years investigating the 1997
murder of the 22-year-old and a series of related killings and concluded
there was collusion. Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologised
to the family of Mr McCord.

Raymond McCord senior said Ian Paisley’s response does not take into
account that the findings were accepted by the British government.

“All the evidence of collusion in my son’s case is there, it has been
well documented, there is no other name for it other than collusion and
instead of seeking justice for victims, Ian Paisley is seeking to
overturn important rulings and investigations.”

Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly defended Dr Maguire, saying his
work “is crucial to current policing and indeed in legacy cases.”

He said the Loughinisland judgment must be appealed “as it has possibly
catastrophic implications for the setting up of the investigative
process of the Historic Investigations Unit”.

Ian Paisley sought arms from Israel, ambassador reported in 1987

Posted by Jim on December 30, 2017

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley.

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley.RollingNews

Unionist firebrand leader may have done more than just flirt with paramilitaries.

Irish cabinet papers from 1987 reveal that the Israeli ambassador in London reported to the Irish government that Ian Paisley, then the Unionist firebrand leader, sought arms from Israel.

The Irish Ambassador Noel Dorr reported the bizarre request to Dublin in a confidential transmission.

“He (the Israeli Ambassador) said that Rev Ian Paisley had been in touch with him to obtain arms,” Dorr wrote.

“I expressed surprise at this since I thought it unlikely that Paisley would leave himself open on something like this.

 

“The ambassador said the request related to border protection. I said I presumed that the emphasis was on surveillance equipment rather than on arms, but the ambassador did not elaborate further. He said he had replied to Paisley that these things could be dealt with only between governments.”

Paisley did flirt with paramilitaries, most notably the armed Third Force he created in the early 1980s. He was denied access to America and had his visa revoked for threatening violence.

 

Rallies were held on hillsides near Newry, and Armagh. On Dec 3, 1981 Paisley said that the Third Force had between 15,000 and 20,000 members.

The group was established by Paisley as a complement to the security forces (Paisley had previously been associated with the Ulster Protestant Volunteers loyalist paramilitary group). It grew from opposition to the increasing pace of co-operation between the governments of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

In a statement, Paisley’s son – North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley – angrily denied his father had sought arms from Israel.

“The claims being made by the Press that my father was involved in an attempt to obtain arms from Israel are absolute nonsense,” he said.

“The basis of a chat at a function between officials – where drink was taken – who were hostile Irish Government officials with their own prejudiced agenda, and where there are no official notes other than cloudy recollections – tells its own story. There is no doubt that given our poor border security in the 1980s… my father made it his business to highlight how other countries could protect themselves from border incursions, such as Israel.

“He publicly and privately urged HMG to up its game and protect our citizens. That is a very far stretch from an attempt to go about the private procurement of arms. Obviously, it is easily to slander the dead. If my father was alive this story wouldn’t see the light of day.”

RADIO FREE EIREANN

Posted by Jim on

RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday December 30th th on WBAI Radio 99.5FM or WBAI.ORG at 12noon-1pm New York time or 5pm-6pm Irish time or anytime after the program on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Author, political commentator Dr. ANTHONY MCINTYRE will make New Year’s predictions on issues like negotiations to revive Stormont, Brexit and review the import of a series of sensational historic documents released by the British and Irish governments at the end of the year.

 
RADIO FREE EIREANN also wishes listeners a HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our listeners.

Why do archive files on Britain’s colonial past keep going missing?

Posted by Jim on December 28, 2017

 

Around 1,000 files have disappeared while ‘on loan’ to the government. This sort of accident is happening too often for comfort

 Siobhan Fenton . The Guardian. England. Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The National Archives are home to more than 11m documents, many of them covering the most disturbing periods of Britain’s colonial past. The uncomfortable truths revealed in previously classified government files have proved invaluable to those seeking to understand this country’s history or to expose past injustices.

It is deeply concerning, therefore, to discover that about 1,000 files have gone missing after being removed by civil servants. Officially, the archives describe them as “misplaced while on loan to a government department”.

The files, each containing dozens of pages, cover subjects such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the British colonial administration in Palestine, tests on polio vaccines and territorial disputes between the UK and Argentina. It is unclear whether duplicates exist.

The loss of so many documents of such significance has understandably caused concern among historians, politicians and human rights groups. Amnesty International has called on Theresa May to order an urgent government-wide search for the documents, while Labor MP Jon Trickett has warned that the loss “will only fuel accusations of a cover-up”.

Such suggestions may seem far-fetched, but recent history has given many people reason to be suspicious. Documents in the National Archives have previously been key in revealing human rights abuses by the British state.

In 2014, for instance, investigators from the Irish broadcaster RTÉ uncovered a 1977 letter from the then home secretary, Merlyn Rees, to the prime minister of the day, James Callaghan, in which Rees claimed that ministers had given permission for torture to be used in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The information had reportedly been withheld from the European court of human rights.

Also in 2014, the government was accused of a cover-up after it said it could not release information about the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program because the files had suffered “water damage” .

In 2013, meanwhile, the Guardian revealed that more than 1m documents that should have been declassified were instead being unlawfully kept at a high-security compound in Buckinghamshire. Their existence only came to light when a group of elderly Kenyans took the government to the high court, claiming they had been tortured during the 1950s Mau Mau rebellion. The Foreign Office was forced to admit it had withheld thousands of colonial-era papers.

Even if the files that have now been reported missing vanished as a result of sloppiness or incompetence rather than malice, that is in a way no less damning. Britain has long failed to acknowledge the horrors that its colonialism and imperialism have wrought on the world.

Many Britons have grown up believing their homeland saved and civilized the world, while atrocities, genocide and human rights abuses often go unmentioned. Successive governments have failed to narrow this knowledge gap, whether by setting up truth commissions, establishing a museum of colonialism or teaching schoolchildren about colonialism as part of the standard curriculum.

In 2014, a YouGov poll found that 59% of those surveyed thought the British empire was more something to be proud of than ashamed of.

The loss of these documents provides an apt metaphor for what colonialism means to many in Britain. Embarrassing facts are neatly filed away, labelled as “the past”, and on the rare occasions that the archives are inspected, damning evidence is nowhere to be seen.

• Siobhan Fenton is a freelance journalist

DUP prepared to shaft their deluded voters

Posted by Jim on December 27, 2017

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, December  27,2017.

Absolutely everything people in the DUP say about Brexit is fantasy so it’s no surprise that remarks by blowhard DUP MPs about Irish government involvement in The North is also fantasy. In fact it’s just completely wrong.

Perhaps,  because the likes of Deputy Dodds and Donaldson always opposed the Good Friday Agreement— and in Donaldson’s case walked out on David Trimble— it’s understandable that they don’t know what the GFA says about Irish government involvement in The North.

What’s puzzling is that no-one in Sinn Féin stands up and makes a detailed speech spelling out for DUP slow learners Dublin’s guaranteed role in The North. It’s in black and white in the GFA under the heading British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference (BIIGC). “There will be a new British-Irish Agreement dealing with the totality of relationships.’’ Geddit?

Paragraph 5 is quite instructive. “In recognition of the Irish government’s special interest in Northern Ireland and of the extent to which issues of mutual concern arise in relation to Northern Ireland, there will be regular and frequent meetings of the conference concerned with non-devolved Northern Ireland matters, on which the Irish government may put forward views and proposals. These meetings, to be co-chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, would also deal with all-island and cross-border cooperation on non-devolved issues.”

There’s a lot more. The relevant section in the GFA runs to nine paragraphs. In the absence of devolved administration here,  the BIIGC meets regularly as it did during the period 1999-2007.

In fact it met 18 times during those years before devolution returned in 2007, four times alone in 2006 and each time issued lengthy communiqués covering matters like, security, policing, human rights and justice.

The British-Irish Agreement which established the BIIGC actually predated the GFA by a month. It was a fail safe mechanism in case devolution failed. In that event all devolved matters revert to the remit of the BIIGC. When it’s operating it has a full-time secretariat in Belfast. It used to have a staff of 21 – 10 British and 11 Irish officials. In effect it replaced the old Maryfield structures established under the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement which guaranteed the Irish government an input into The North. The new British-Irish Agreement of 1998 replaced the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

Perhaps you can see now why the DUP deny the BIIGC’s existence though they are fully aware of its role? If it’s not obvious,  here’s why.

For the hardliners among the DUP MPs, any role for the Irish government in The North has always been anathema. For them Brexit, despite their claims they don’t want a hard border, is a way of bringing them closer to Britain which is their whole reason for existence as Unionists even though partition has brought economic disaster to The North in the past 96 years. Just look at the average income in The North, €23,700 compared to The South, €39,873.
The Republic’s industrial output is 10 times bigger than The North’s but its workforce is only 2.5 times bigger.

The DUP’s hardcore would rather eat grass than connect economically to The South. They don’t care that all their claims about Brexit are fantasy or that over the past 18 months one by one has dissolved into thin air.

What they most certainly don’t want is to lose their favored position of influence over the British government to be replaced by meetings of the BIIGC with Irish ministers putting forward views and proposals. The British-Irish Agreement requires ‘all [BIIGC] decisions be by agreement between both governments.The governments will make determined efforts to resolve disagreements between them.’

Just as they’re prepared to shaft The North’s agriculture, including their own misled and deluded voters, for the Holy Grail of closer connection to Britain, so ideologues like Deputy Doddss demand direct rule right now with no Irish government input. That, as demonstrated here is like his prognostications about Brexit, impossible.

You can see the DUP MPs, for it is they who are running the party, are rattled. They got nothing on the north-south border despite the loudmouth claims of Ian Óg [ young Paisley]. They learnt May can be defeated despite their support. In 2018 they plummet to earth.

Loughinisland Families respond

Posted by Jim on December 22, 2017

Loughinisland Families Response to Retired Police Officers’ Association Judgement

Thursday, December  21, 2017

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was murdered in the Heights Bar:
“Last Christmas, 2016, was the first Christmas since the atrocity whereby we felt that the truth had been set free and allowed to breath. This judgment, which has been delivered four days prior to Christmas Day, has devastated us all. We feel that the truth has again been suffocated. We will study this judgment over Christmas and renew our efforts to defend the inconvenient truth, in the New Year.”

Niall Murphy, solicitor for the families of those bereaved states:

“This case was premised entirely on procedural grounds. Ronnie Hawthorn and Raymond White, did not challenge a single fact contained in the Police Ombudsman’s report. The facts therefore remain as facts:

• It is still a fact that the RUC recovered the getaway car, intact and destroyed it.
• It is still a fact that the RUC received a letter, from a former employee, notifying them of the names of the culprits, and the RUC lost that letter, depriving future investigations of a key exhibit.
• It is still a fact that the twine from the getaway car, which was recovered was lost.
• It is still a fact that the chief suspect, person A, who was not arrested for 2 months despite investigators having his name within 12 hours, was tipped off by a police officer on 21st August 1994, the day before the RUC actually bothered to arrest him.
• It is still a fact that transcripts of the interviews of the suspects, that the RUC did bother to arrest, were then destroyed by police.


None of these facts would have seen the light of day, but for the Police Ombudsman’s report, and the families are eternally grateful for the recovery of those facts, which are still facts, notwithstanding this judgement.”

“It is a further matter of fact that the report, was delivered in its entirety to the Chief Constable months in advance of publication. The Chief Constable, who then has a right to reply, to object to factual errors, did not take issue with the report as it was published, indeed he accepted the report in its entirety, as did the then Prime Minister David Cameron who personally wrote to the families on 12th July 2016, as did the then Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

The office of the Police Ombudsman and specifically the work of its Historic Directorate is held up by the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights in their defence, in respect of found failings in respect of the British Government’s breaches of article 2, the right to life. As such, this judgment will be required to be considered by the Council of Ministers in Strasbourg, and the State’s compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, considered acutely in that regard.”

Deepening disquiet over PSNI’s failure to deal with past

Posted by Jim on December 20, 2017

Deepening disquiet over PSNI’s failure to deal with past

Brian Feeney. Irish News.Belfast. Wednesday, December 20,  2017 

There’s a distinctly unpleasant whiff beginning to rise from the PSNI.

Yes, there are various surveys and polls indicating levels of satisfaction that the unlamented, discredited RUC could never have attained but there is growing dissatisfaction with critical aspects of policing and no sign they will be addressed.

People living in mixed districts and some Nationalist districts are deeply unhappy with the failure of the police to deal with loyalist flags and paraphernalia. The police have completely failed to deal with loyalist paramilitaries who still despoil working-class Unionist districts, prey on businesses and prevent investment. The PSNI record on recruiting Catholics has stalled and gone into reverse. There’s more. The reasons and excuses provided are well known but the results never change.

The major aspect which has crystallised dissatisfaction in recent months is failure to deal with the past in ways which obstruct dealing with the past. On December 15,  we had a lengthy self-serving epistle from the chief constable explaining why he is going to appeal a High Court order commanding him and his force ‘to expeditiously honour its enforceable public commitment to provide an overarching report into the Glenanne group of cases’. This to be done independently, expeditiously and with ring-fenced funding.

The reason Mr. Justice Treacy issued such an order is that on July 28 he quashed the PSNI decision to abandon the HET inquiry into the notorious Glenanne-based police/UDR murder gang and ordered an independent investigation. However by November the court found that the PSNI had ignored the court’s instruction; had done precisely nothing. Now the Chief Constable, still having done precisely nothing, is appealing the order to the Court of Appeal with your money. He has no hope of overturning the order but will appeal on esoteric legal grounds. Another year’s delay.

In his letter explaining why he has not complied with the order but is appealing,  the Chief Constable cites cost. He has conjured a figure of £60 million over five years out of misty Hy-Brasil. The Glenanne cases involve the killing of 120 or more people in the 1970s by a gang composed of RUC, UDR, and UVF. Most had dual membership. The HET was tasked with examining 2,555 cases involving 3,260 killings. The North’s Criminal Justice Inspection team found in 2013 that the total cost of the HET was £60 million.

How come the disparity? How could investigating the Glenanne gang cost so much? Their names are well known. All you have to do is pick up Anne Cadwallader’s book, Lethal Allies and you will find the gang’s whole modus operandi, their weapons, their scenes of crime. It’s a textbook for anyone pursuing an inquiry. Cadwallader makes a credible case without being paid £60 million.

Chief Constable George Hamilton asserts in his letter that there are ‘insufficient detective resources’ in the UK for carrying out an independent investigation. Rubbish. Pull the other one. The HET was able to set up and get under way using retired detectives. They successfully completed dozens of cases, few as straightforward as the pre-prepared treasure trove sitting waiting for Glenanne investigators.

The chief constable asserts that the Historical Investigation Unit recommended in the Stormont House Agreement is the body to investigate the Glenanne gang. It isn’t. That’s just kicking the can down the road. Mr. Justice Treacy ordered an independent, ring-fenced body. So the non-existence of the HIU is a red herring.

Mr. Hamilton also takes a swing at ‘the continuing political vacuum’ as a reason for not proceeding. No. Our useless invisible proconsul [James Brokenshire, NI Secretary of State] could allocate targeted funds for the past immediately. Has Hamilton asked him?

Unfortunately the Glenanne case is simply the most egregious example of the PSNI stalling, blocking, redacting, asking for Public Immunity Certificates, losing evidence and so on. Although Hamilton denies it, the inescapable conclusion is that the PSNI is preventing truth emerging but searching for delays and pretexts to protect State interests.

Regardless of motive the result plays to the political position of Unionism, not, altogether now, ‘the political vacuum’. It’s unionists and our proconsul who don’t want appalling conspiracies like the Glenanne RUC/UDR/UVF murder gang investigated. The consistent failure of the PSNI to proceed proactively supports that position. It smells fishy.

Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on December 19, 2017

December 19th

FDNY TRIATHLON TEAM 2018 SEASON REGISTRATION
Join the FDNY Triathlon Team for the 2018 race season. Registration is now open to all Department Members. We urge everyone who is racing triathlons, or who has aspirations to race triathlons, to be a part of the team and represent the Department at races. We have coaches available to assist with your training and other resources to help you have a successful season. Team Uniform Kit order will be placed in January. Train with the group locally at swim, bike, run sessions & clinics, or join the crew at our multi day camps in Lake Placid and New Paltz in the spring and summer. Reach out to us this week at info@fdnytri.com for registration info. If you are interested in the FDNY Cycling Team only, reach out to us as well. We have the newly reorganized team doing races and events this season and invite all to join the crew.

ANNUAL FDNY SKI RACES
The 45th Annual FDNY Firefighters Ski Races at Hunter Mountain will take place on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. Proceeds will be donated to the NY Firefighters Burn Center Foundation. There will be a plaque dedication honoring FF William Tolley, L 135. Trophies for each 1st, 2nd, 3rd place Ski teams and Snowboard teams will be awarded along with many lottery prizes. “Let’s keep the tradition going.” Register your team online at www.Huntermtn.com ASAP to get the discounted fee. For additional information contact Joe Jove 518-263-4023.

FDNY VS NYPD HOCKEY GAME
The 45th Annual FDNY vs NYPD Hockey Game will be played at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, March 24, 2018 at noon. Tickets are available from team members or can be purchased in quantities of eight or more by sending an email to Capt. Tom Reno at FDNYhockey25@gmail.com.

FDNY HOCKEY TEAM 2018 KING OF THE ICE HOCKEY TOURNAMENT
The 2018 King of the Ice Tournament will be held at the Freeport Rec Center Rink in Freeport, NY from February 26 through March 21. Round robin will be played from February 26 – March 14. Playoffs will be March 19-21. Registration will be available on January 5th at www.FDNYhockey.org. Space is limited to the first 96 teams, no exceptions. Days and times of tournament are listed on the website. Any questions please email Frank Heal at frankFDNYhockey@gmail.com.

FDNY HOCKEY TEAM 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
The FDNY Hockey Team will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary with a reunion in March of 2018. All Alumni members are asked to send their contact information to Frank Heal at frankFDNYhockey@gmail.com for details.

President unveils art installation honoring 1916 rebels

Posted by Jim on December 15, 2017

“All of the participants in 1916 had come to perceive and recoil from what was a constant theme in the assumptions of the imperialist mind: that those dominated in any colony such as Ireland were lesser in human terms, in language, culture and politics.The historical evidence for this view was all around, in the circumstances of housing, hunger, emigration, exclusion and language loss. The cultural freedom allowed was a freedom merely to imitate or ingratiate.” — President Higgins

President unveils art installation honoring 1916 rebels
Ed Carty. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, December 15, 2017

A new art installation in honor of the 1916 rebels has been unveiled at Aras an Uachtarain as a permanent testament to the journey towards an inclusive Republic.

The sculpture, Dearcan na nDaoine – The People’s Acorn, by artist Rachel Joynt, was placed in the grounds of the president’s official residence as part of Easter Rising commemorations.

President Michael D Higgins said: “What we sought was an appropriate and permanent tribute to the women and men whose effort and sacrifice contributed so much to Irish freedom and a symbol that would also serve as an inspiration towards realising the promise of a true republic, which remains a challenge for us all.

“I hope that what we have achieved with this commemorative work is a fitting tribute to the memory and vision of the signatories of the Proclamation, and all those who stood with them. It is, I think, both an accolade to our shared past and a beacon for a brighter future.”

Among those at the ceremony were some of the relatives of the signatories of the Proclamation and descendants of others who fought and died in the rising.

Others at the unveiling included 170 children from seven schools, who contributed their thoughts and wishes for Ireland’s future. Among them were P7 pupils from St Teresa’s Primary School in west Belfast.

Principal Terry Rodgers said St Teresa’s was one of seven schools included in the project and the only one from the north.

“For the children to see their names and writings inserted into a time capsule and sculpture in the grounds of the Aras an Uachtarain and to be able to bring their own children to visit the sculpture in years to come – what a wonderful experience,” he said.

The artwork is a giant bronze acorn which contains letters and poems while the shell is impressed with text and used pencils.

“All of the participants in 1916 had come to perceive and recoil from what was a constant theme in the assumptions of the imperialist mind: that those dominated in any colony such as Ireland were lesser in human terms, in language, culture and politics.

“The historical evidence for this view was all around, in the circumstances of housing, hunger, emigration, exclusion and language loss. The cultural freedom allowed was a freedom merely to imitate or ingratiate,” the president said.

Next year Mr Higgins will install an artwork at Aras an Uachtarain commemorating the 1913 Lockout.

 

Official Communication of the UFA

Posted by Jim on December 14, 2017

 

December 14th

PUTNAM COUNTY CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY BLOOD DRIVE
Please give a life sustaining gift. Donate a pint of blood so others might have a chance. Unfortunately, because of the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays, the blood supply is very low and the demand is high. Please come join Putnam County members at the Daniel O’Brien VFW Hall, 32 Gleneida Ave (Rt.52) Carmel on Friday, December 29th, from 2:00 till 8:00pm. For information please call Paul DeLeo 347-408-6052, Denis Hanrahan 845-225-3048.

MEMORIAL MASS
On Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 1100 hours, E-46/L-27 will have a Memorial Mass honoring the memory of Lt. Curtis W. Meyran, B-26, Lt. John G. Bellew, L-27 and Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo, R-3, all of whom made the supreme sacrifice as a result of injuries sustained while operating at Bronx Box 3-3 2997, January 23, 2005. The mass will take place in quarters, 460 Cross Bronx Expressway, Bronx, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.

MEMORIAL MASS
On Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1000 hours, E-290/L-103 will have a Memorial Mass honoring the memory of Firefighter Richard T. Sclafani, L-103. The mass will commemorate the 13th anniversary of his supreme sacrifice and will take place at St. John’s Church, 479 New Jersey Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.

PLAQUE DEDICATION
On Friday, January 19, 2018 at 1100 hours, a Plaque Dedication will be held honoring the memory of Firefighter Robert F. DiGiovanni, L-144, who died on January 27, 2017. The dedication will take place in the quarters of E-295 and L-144, 12-49 149th Street, Queens, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.

PLAQUE DEDICATION
On Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1100 hours, a Plaque Dedication will be held honoring the memory of Firefighter Kevin A. Rooney, E-42, who died on January 22, 2017. The dedication will take place in the quarters of E-42, 1781 Monroe Avenue, Bronx, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.

PLAQUE DEDICATION
On Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1500 hours, a Plaque Dedication will be held honoring the memory of Firefighter Brian J. Masterson, M-9, who died on January 22, 2017. The dedication will take place in the quarters of M-9, 305 Front Street, Staten Island Homeport, Staten Island, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.

IRISH MEP Martina Anderson ripped into Britain

Posted by Jim on

IRISH MEP Martina Anderson ripped into Britain over the Brexit deal and said as soon as the deal was done the UK “rubbished the joint report they solemnly signed”.

Charlotte Davis. Express. UK. Wednesday, 13, 2017

Ms. Anderson was furious after David Davis implied in a television interview that the Brexit deal was not legally binding and could be altered. But Mr. Davis since insisted his words were misrepresented by the media.

Mr. Davis’ claim caused uproar among the Irish Government, who demanded a concrete promise on there being no hard border in Ireland – with Dublin insisting it considered the agreement bullet proof.

Speaking prior to the EU summit, Ms. Anderson said: “The British Government has done it again. They have pulled of a spectacular piece of theatre over the last week or so.

Martina Anderson said Britain are opposing the rights they signed up to
The UK Government has been making promises to Irish people for years and then refusing to fulfil them
“Only a statement of intents says David Davis. We are coming to a gentleman’s agreement with David Davis who thinks nothing of misleading his own parliament.

“But its no surprise, it’s the way they do things. They create drama through late night and last minute negotiations. They flush out bottom line of those they are negotiating with.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed on Friday enough progress has been made on key Brexit issues in order to move on to trade talks.

But Ms. Anderson claimed Britain makes promises to get others to move things forward and then it “negotiates compromises downwards”.

She said: “They use ambiguity to confuse and disorientate their opponents.
“And then when they don’t like what the final compromise is they simply ignore it and don’t implement it.
“No one knows them better than us. The British Government has been making promises to Irish people for years and then refusing to fulfil them. Even today they are negating to implement the Good Friday Agreement.”

Ms. Anderson demanded the Brexit deal become legally binding. She said once the resolution is turned to legal action there can be “no more ambiguity, no more contradictions, no more taking the British Government as their word”.

AOH Division 35 to Honor one of it’s own.

Posted by Jim on December 13, 2017

We should not be collateral damage in Brexit shambles

Posted by Jim on December 9, 2017

 

By Sinn Fein MP Elisha McCallion

 

The people in the north of Ireland voted to remain in the EU. Yet on 29
March Theresa May signalled to the European Council the British
Government’s intention to leave the EU and drag us out.

The first phase of a two-year negotiation on Brexit started in June and
prioritised the British Government’s “divorce bill”, the rights of EU
citizens and how Brexit will impact Ireland.

The EU made clear this Brexit process must safeguard the Good Friday
Agreement in all its parts, the rights of citizens and north-south
cooperation – including no hardening of the border.

When finally the British and the EU appeared to agree on a solution on
Monday, the DUP vetoed it in their own narrow sectorial interest. The
putative agreement between Theresa May and the President of the European
Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, appears to have been derailed by them.

In effect, when attempts were made to cater for the unique position of
the north of Ireland and to protect citizens’ rights, our economy, and
the Good Friday Agreement, the DUP went out of their way to block this.

Last week the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, visited
Dublin. He said if the British Government’s offer on the border is
unacceptable for Ireland, then it will also be unacceptable for the EU.
This is a welcome approach which needs to be maintained.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, should continue to stand up for the Irish
people – north and south – against the British Government, DUP and the
right-wing press.

The DUP are Theresa May’s partners in this sorry mess. But the DUP do
not speak for the cross-community majority here who voted Remain.

They, like their Tory partners, represent only a tiny section of the
Brexit-at-any-cost British establishment.

No one, least of all the DUP, has made a credible case that the north of
Ireland will be better off outside the EU. They cannot tell us how we
will maintain essential cross-border services such as the all-Ireland
cancer centre in Derry or the freedom to travel and trade across the EU.

In Ireland, Brexit would mean economic damage on an unquantifiable scale
due to trade tariffs and regulatory divergence.

All of this is occurring against a backdrop of relentless, DUP-driven
Tory austerity, severe cuts to public services and investment.

The solution to Britain’s Brexit crisis in Ireland is clear. The north
of Ireland should have Designated Special Status within the EU, ensuring
that we remain within the customs union and the single market. That is
the only guarantee of stability and certainty which will deliver the
full protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts; including
Irish citizenship and the benefits of EU citizenship.

This is a common sense, practical, and achievable proposal and does not
change the constitutional position of the north. We are told Brexit is
happening and we must accept it. Sinn Fein and citizens across the
island of Ireland reject this as an abdication of political leadership.

We are at a crucial juncture in the process. The Irish Government have
the responsibility and the leverage to ensure clarity and certainty from
the British Government.

The DUP’s determination to deliver Brexit regardless of the cost to the
people of Ireland, north and south, including large swathes of their own
electorate, is clear. But they represent a minority of people in the
north, a minority in Ireland, a tiny minority on these islands and a
minuscule minority in Europe.

The relationship between the people of Britain and the European Union is
entirely a matter for the people of Britain. But the people of Ireland
cannot be collateral damage in process that is driven by Brextremists in
the DUP and the Tory Party.

Defending the economic security and future of Ireland must be the
priority for the Taoiseach in the immediate time ahead.

The Burning of Cork

Posted by Jim on

During the War of Independence, Cork was one of the main centres of
resistance to British rule. In one of the worst atrocities committed
during the War of Independence, British forces deliberately set fire to
several blocks of buildings along the east and south sides of Saint
Patrick’s Street during Saturday and Sunday 11/12 December 1920.

Five acres of the city was torched, 300 homes destroyed as well as 40
businesses, leading to the loss of 2,000 jobs. The City Hall and the
Carnegie Library were also completely destroyed by fire. A look back at
those events, 97 years ago this week.
 

In the aftermath of an IRA ambush at Dillon’s Cross in which one British auxiliary
was killed and a number injured, Cork City went through a period of
terror the extent of which had never before been experienced.

Some time after the ambush, a large group of Black and Tans opened fire
on civilians without the slightest warning or provocation near the corner of King
Street (now MacCurtain Street) and Summerhill North. The shooting was
totally indiscriminate. Women and children huddled in doorways or ran
for shelter. The streets soon became deserted. Some panic-stricken
people took refuge at the railway station, and could hear rifle and
revolver fire continue for more than twenty minutes.

However, the worst was yet to come. At 10 pm. Alfred J. Huston, the
Superintendent of the Cork city fire brigade, ordered the ambulance from
Grattan Street fire station to Dillon’s Cross in case there were
casualties from a fire which was raging. (A number of houses in the
vacinity of Dillon’s Cross had been set alight by irate British forces).
As the ambulance was travelling through Patrick Street the firemen came
upon a fire at Grant and Co., a department store at the southern end of
Patrick Street. The driver of the ambulance described an encounter they
then had – “On reaching the comer of Patrick Street, I, who was driving,
saw forty or fifty men walking in a body in the centre of Patrick
Street, coming towards us in very mixed dress – some with khaki coats,
some with khaki trousers, and some wore glengarry caps”.

At 10.30 pm Captain Huston received a report of the fire in Grant’s. He
found that ‘the fire had gained considerable headway and the flames were
coming through the roof’. The fire brigade was successful in containing
this fire. If it had spread to the English Market, which was located to
the rear of Grant’s, a major conflagration could have occurred. While
the fire in Grant’s was being fought, Captain Huston received word from
the town clerk that the Munster Arcade and Cash’s department store were
on fire. It was now about 11.30p.m. These two buildings were situated on
the eastern side of Patrick Street. All available units of the fire
brigade were immediately sent to fight these fires, which were spreading
rapidly.

Despite the best efforts of the fire brigade, the fires spread to
adjoining buildings and caused extensive damage. The blaze in the
Munster Arcade spread to the following establishments – Egan’s
Jewellers, Sunner’s, Forrest’s, the Dartry Dye Co., Saxone Shoe Co.,
Burton’s Tailors, Thompson’s and Cudmore’s. The fire from Cash’s spread
to the Lee Cinema, Roche’s Stores, Lee Boot Co., Connell & Co.,
Scully’s, Wolfe’s and O’Sullivan’s. All of these buildings were totally
destroyed.

Shortly before dawn, two of Cork city’s historic buildings would also be
destroyed by flames. On Sunday 12 December Captain Huston received word
that both City Hall and the nearby Carnegie Library had been put to the
torch. Seven members of the fire brigade tried in vain to fight the
flames and, like the buildings in Patrick Street, both places were
completely destroyed. As they fought the flames the members of the fire
brigade were subject to continuous harassment from crown forces, who
fired on them, turned off hydrants and slashed hoses with their
bayonets.

In his report to the Lord Mayor, Captain Huston wrote; “I have no
hesitation in stating I believe all the above fires were incendiary
fires and that a considerable amount of petrol or some such inflammable
spirit was used in one and all of them. In some cases explosives were
also used and persons were seen to go into and come out of the
structures after breaking an entrance into same, and in some cases I
have attended the people have been brought out of their houses and
detained in by-lanes until the fire gained great headway”.

Widespread looting also occurred throughout the night. A young girl who
lived at Clankittane, near Victoria Barracks, recalled seeing a
lorry-load of Auxiliaries returning to the barracks in the early hours
of Sunday, December 12th. The lorry, which was full of stolen goods,
stopped outside Hennessy’s public house. Some drunken Auxiliaries
dismounted and banged on the door of the pub, shouting for the owner.
When someone put their head out of an upstairs window, an Auxiliary made
a threatening gesture with a revolver and demanded that the doors be
opened and drink served.

As to the question of who actually started the fires, many witnesses
gave statements that groups of armed men, some in uniform, others in
civilian clothes, were responsible for the destruction wreaked upon the
city.

From his office in Victoria Barracks Major F. R. Eastwood, the brigade
major of the 17th Infantry Brigade, compiled the following report:

 

Official Military report on the state of Cork City for the period from
10 p.m. on Saturday, December 11, 1920, to 5.30 a.m. on Sunday, December
12, 1920, during which period the city was in complete control of the
military.

(1) Three arrests were made.

(2) At 22.00 hours, Grant & Co., Patrick Street, was found to be on
fire. Warning was sent to all fire brigades.

(3) At about 00.30 hours, Cash & Co. and the Munster Arcade were
reported on fire.

(4) At 05.30 hours the majority of the troops were withdrawn, and the
remainder at 08.00 hours.

(5) Explosions were heard at 00.15 hours, but were not located. No shots
were fired by the troops.

F. R. Eastwood,

Brigade Major, 17th Infantry Brigade. Cork.

 

The fact that the burning of Cork occurred while the city was, as Major
Eastwood stated, ‘in complete control of the military’ is in itself a
damning indictment of the British forces then in occupation of Victoria
Barracks.

Writing about the burning of Cork, Florence O’Donoghue, intelligence
officer of Cork No. 1 IRA Brigade at the time of the atrocity, stated; “It
is difficult to say with certainty whether or not Cork would have been
burned on that night if there had not been an ambush at Dillon’s Cross.
What appears more probable is that the ambush provided the excuse for an
act which was long premeditated and for which all arrangements had been
made. The rapidity with which the supplies of petrol and Verey lights
were brought from Cork barracks to the centre of the city, and the
deliberate manner in which the work of firing the premises was divided
amongst groups under the control of officers, gives evidence of
organisation and pre-arrangement. Moreover, the selection of certain
premises for destruction and the attempt made by an Auxiliary officer to
prevent the looting of one shop by Black and Tans: ‘You are in the wrong
shop; that man is a Loyalist,’ and the reply, ‘We don’t give a damn;
this is the shop that was pointed out to us’, is additional proof that
the matter had been carefully planned beforehand”.

The action of the British Crown forces in Cork on the night of 11/12
December brought widespread condemnation upon the officers and men who
garrisoned Victoria Barracks. Whatever remaining goodwill some citizens
of Cork may have had for the British forces was now gone.

Hamill case against alleged RUC conspirator gets go ahead

Posted by Jim on

A decision to halt the prosecution of a former RUC man and two other on
charges linked to the loyalist mob killing of Catholic man Robert Hamill
is to be quashed, High Court judges has ruled.

They ordered a new hearing to determine if the trio should face trial
for an alleged attempt to obstruct the course of justice.

The verdict came in a legal bid by the murder victim’s mother, Jessica
Hamill, to have charges reinstated.

Her 25-year-old son was attacked in Portadown, County Armagh in 1997. He
never regained consciousness and died in hospital.

Members of the PSNI (then RUC) in the area at the time watched while the
murderous assault on Mr Hamill took place, but did not intervene.

As evidence of collusion mounted, RUC man Robert Atkinson and his wife
were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by tipping
off loyalists involved in the murder.

In September 2014 a judge at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court refused to
return the trio for trial, ruling that a key prosecution witness was
“unreliable” and “unconvincing”.

It had been alleged that a phone call was made from Atkinson’s house to
the home of a suspect in the killing, with advice given to destroy his
clothing.

Mr Atkinson denied making the call and claimed his phone was used by
another man. That man’s ex-wife, Andrea Jones, later gave evidence to
contradict this. She said she had been asked by her former partner to
make a false statement about the incident.

Jones subsequently pleaded guilty to carrying out an act tending to
pervert the course of justice.

But the prosecution against the Atkinsons and a third suspect was
stopped for a second time on the basis of insufficient evidence against
them. That decision was based solely on a district judge’s assessment of
the credibility of Jones’ evidence.

Mrs Hamill’s legal team challenged his determination, arguing that it
was irrational.

They claimed the District Judge failed to consider all of the evidence
against the defendants and neglected to take into account issues
supporting Jones’ claims of a conspiracy involving the three defendants.

The conviction of Jones should have been treated as corroborating
evidence, it was contended.

Ruling on the challenge, Justice Stephens held that there was not
insufficient evidence, and quashed the 2014 decision.

McCANN CASE REACHES COURT

Meanwhile, two former British soldiers charged with murdering an
Official IRA man in Belfast 45 years ago are mounting a legal bid to
have the case thrown out before it reaches trial.

The former paratroopers are also seeking anonymity.

The defendants, known only as Soldier A and Soldier C, are facing
prosecution for the cold-blooded killing in April 1972 of of Joe McCann.
Neither were present as proceedings got underway at Belfast Magistrates’
Court.

In a statement Joe McCann’s widow, Anne, said: “There are three
incontrovertible facts about this incident; Joe was unarmed, he as
running away, and he was shot in the back.”

SMOKESCREEN HIDES BREXIT BORDER CHASM

Posted by Jim on

A tsunami of spin and dissembling on the Irish border has scraped the
British government into a second round of negotiations with the European
Union over its departure, but at the expense of any confidence in the
negotiations process.

The draft agreement was upended on Monday by a last minute ultimatum
issued by the hardliners of the DUP, spooked by the premature cheering
of the Dublin establishment.

In the document published on Friday, Britain conceded on the rights of EU
citizens with little protest, but the section on Ireland and the border
is an inoperable mass of contradictions. Clarification was badly
needed, and unionists extracted six strongly pro-union declarations from
the British Prime Minister Theresa May to assuage any fears of
abandonment by the Tories.

Nationalists, meanwhile, saw a promise of special status for the north
of Ireland, ‘leaked’ by Irish media last weekend, evaporate
into a guarantee only to uphold the relatively minor cross-border bodies of the
1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The glue for the deal was a promise that, in the event of no overall
deal being reached, Britain (and the north of Ireland) would maintain
“full alignment” with some elements of the European Union’s single
market and customs union. But there was no indication of how, in the
absence of an overall Brexit deal, such a promise could be implemented
through the battered and collapsed structures of the Good Friday
Agreement.

In Dublin, a new multi-million pound Department of Spin wheeled into
operation with serious effect. The Tory promise of ‘no hard border’
— still without any detail on the promised ‘frictionless’
technology — was blared out through every medium, to cheers from
establishment figures. It produced a hysterical ‘be-happy-don’t-worry’
response in both the mainstream and social media.

The result, clearly intended, is that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his
Fine Gael party will have extremely strong support in the event of an
early general election.

Claims that Varadkar had steered the chaotic Tory government towards a
‘soft Brexit’ – some form of membership of the European Union single
market – were particularly exaggerated, and could be exposed very
quickly. Nobody thought to tell Theresa May, as among her careening
statements was a concisely stated determination to pull out of the
European Union in its entirety, and bring the north of Ireland with it.

She has now written to the people of the Six Counties in a letter that
is to be delivered to every household. In it, she describes herself a
British Prime Minister “who hugely values Northern Ireland’s position
within our United Kingdom”. She outlines six Brexit commitments:

“First, we will always uphold and support Northern Ireland’s status as
an integral part of the United Kingdom, consistent with the principle of
consent.

“Second, we will fully protect and maintain Northern Ireland’s position
within the single market of the United Kingdom.

“Third, there will be no new borders within the United Kingdom.

“Fourth, the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland,
will leave the EU customs union and the EU single market.

“Fifth, we will uphold the commitments and safeguards set out in the
Belfast Agreement regarding north-south cooperation. This will continue
to require cross-community support.”

Finally, she declared that people in Britain and the north of Ireland
would no longer have recourse to the European Court of Justice.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams said he gave a “cautious and qualified” welcome
to the agreement, but said that many questions remained unanswered.

“Brexit is the greatest threat to the economies of this island in
generations,” he said in Dublin.

“Today’s communique does not set the final deal on Brexit.

“The communique sets out broad principles. These have been assessed by
the Irish government as sufficient progress to allow the Brexit process
to move into the next phase of negotiations on trade.

“While the communique recognises the unique and special circumstances
surrounding the issue of the Irish peace process, the Good Friday
Agreement and the border, it does not address key areas of concern for
many citizens – especially nationalists living in the north and citizens
in the border region.

“The insistence by the British that Britain and the north must leave the
customs union and the single market presents a real and live danger
which cannot be understated.

“This also contradicts the British Prime Minister’s claim that there
will not be a hard economic border.

Mr Adams said he also had concern at the statement that the Six Counties
would no longer be subject the jurisdiction of the European Court of
Justice.

He added: “While today’s communique represents some progress there are
many unanswered questions around key issues and the Irish government
must remain focused and vigilant.

“Sinn Fein is also very mindful that this Brexit process is a work in
progress. Our experience through years of agreements with Britain is
that the devil is in the detail.”

In their statement, Republican Sinn Fein said that the discussions
highlighted “once more” that those living in the Six Counties are
“little more than pawns in the game” for the English elite.

The Tories have a long history of playing the ‘orange card’ for their
own advantage, they said, and called again for a federal solution to the
Irish constitutional question, in order to protect the interests of all
four provinces.

“Unionists should be aware from the experience of history, that the
Westminster government will look after England first with jobs,
infrastructure and investment; all other areas will be well down the
pecking order,” they said.

“It is time for a mature, honest debate on how the people of all of
Ireland can move forward as a sovereign unit, with the interests of the
people being paramount. Time for a new and United Ireland.”

Despite humiliating Theresa May, the DUP got nothing

Posted by Jim on

“… the DUP never accepted the Good Friday Agreement …  Don’t forget,  Foster left the UUP because of her opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.”


Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast.  December 10,  2017

The first point to make is that despite the huge odium they have incurred, the very personal humiliation they inflicted on Theresa May and the international embarrassment and ignominy they heaped on Britain, the DUP got nothing.

Leo Varadkar was being generous when he said what changes there were since Monday were ‘stylistic’. ‘Cosmetic’ would have been more accurate.

Foster’s ‘six substantive changes’ are, in fact,  six statements of the bleeding obvious spelt out for DUP dummies.

For example,  the paragraph beginning: ‘Both Parties [EU and UK] recognise the need to respect the provisions of the 1998 Agreement regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent.’ As if before yesterday they didn’t? You might like to notice in passing that the DUP never accepted the Good Friday Agreement,  never mind respected its provisions but also that their fig leaf, the St Andrews Agreement,  is not mentioned at all. Don’t forget,  Foster left the UUP because of her opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.

The other changes to please the DUP are equally anodyne. They pledge ‘unfettered access’ for The North’s businesses to the UK internal market and the integrity of The North’s place in the UK’s market. None of that was ever in question except in the paranoid politics of the DUP Brextremists. The Irish government never wanted a sea border. Why would they, given the billions of euros of goods they send across Britain as a land bridge to the EU? Varadkar completely outfoxed the British and DUP on that.

Yet, Arlene’s MPs (who kept her well away from the negotiations in her Fermanagh fastness) told her they weren’t entirely satisfied but they ran out of time and agreed only ‘in the national interest’. The British press say Theresa May just had to face them down because the EU had given her an absolute deadline and nothing was more important than getting to Phase 2, trade talks.

So in the absence of other solutions there will remain ‘full alignment’ with the rules of the customs union and single market ‘which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and  the protection of the 1998 Agreement’. Exactly what DUP Brextremists like Depooty Dawds [Deputy Dodds] didn’t want and resisted on Monday. As a result, the DUP has threatened to vote against the final agreement despite their explicit support for Brexit legislation being written into their dirty deal with the Conservatives.

Aside from the cross Border aspects of yesterday’s agreement,  there are vital provisions for maintaining the rights of EU citizens in The North enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement,  including European Convention on Human Rights and importantly, healthcare in other EU states. As the Taoiseach said: ‘We have achieved everything we wanted to achieve.’

The Republic with the EU26 [the other countries in the EU] behind it easily outweighed the UK, a lesson for Brexiteers.

Sadly, despite the British government being in flagrant breach of their GFA obligation to be ‘rigorously impartial on behalf of all the people’ here, after having just spent a week placating one party to the exclusion of all others, the Taoiseach in typical Fine Gael style went out of his way in several paragraphs to address Unionists’ concerns ‘in particular’. By contrast, in his statement running to 1,000 words he had 55 words for Nationalists in The North who Enda Kenny left swinging in the wind for six years. Long past time for Varadkar to start respecting northern Nationalists’ representatives.

Still, as someone tweeted yesterday, if the Good Friday Agreement was Sunningdale for slow learners, Friday’s agreement was Monday’s agreement for the DUP slow learners.

 

Commitments on border ‘politically bulletproof’ – Varadkar

Posted by Jim on December 8, 2017

RTE. Dublin.Friday, 8 Dec 2017

Leo Vardkar said joint commitment is ‘rock solid and cast iron’


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Brexit deal between the European Union and the UK, which was announced in Brussels, has achieved “what we sought to achieve”.

He said the joint commitment by the EU and Britain to the retention of a free-flowing border between Ireland and the UK post-Brexit is “rock solid and cast iron”.

Mr Varadkar described assurances outlined in the agreed text as “politically bulletproof”.

“We have protected what we sought to protect and we achieved what we sought to achieve,” he said.

The European Commission has said enough progress had been made in Brexit negotiations with Britain and that a second phase of negotiations should begin.

The commission announced its verdict in an early morning statement after intense talks, which resulted in British Prime Minister Theresa May taking an early-morning flight to Brussels to announce the deal alongside Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Mr Juncker said: “I will always be sad about this development, but now we must start looking to the future, a future in which the UK will remain a close friend and ally.”

Mrs May said the deal agreed today is a significant improvement from Monday and the joint report is in the best interests of the whole of the UK.

She said that “we guarantee there will be no hard border in Ireland” and “we will uphold the Belfast Agreement”.

Mrs May said that she spoke with Mr Varadkar yesterday and they agreed there will be no barriers to trade north-south or east-west.

She also said that the agreement would guarantee the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK “enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts”, and that it included a financial settlement which was “fair to the British taxpayer”

The text of Britain’s Brexit agreement says on the border that the UK “will maintain full alignment” with the EU single market, customs rules that support peace, cooperation, economy of island of Ireland.

Reacting to the breakthrough at Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Varadkar downplayed changes in the wording of the text from Monday’s ill-fated draft, which was scuppered by the DUP.

He said the amendments were “stylistic changes in language” or “just statements of fact” that his Government had “no difficulty with”.

The Taoiseach acknowledged relations between the UK and Ireland had become strained during the phase 1 negotiations but he predicted that now his Government has achieved the desired guarantees on the border it would become one of London’s “closest friends” in the next stage of the Brexit talks.

The commission’s recommendation that sufficient progress has been made will now go to the European Union summit of leaders taking place next week.

Mrs May said she expected a formal agreement to be approved at the summit.

“Prime Minister May has assured me that it has the backing of the UK government. On that basis, I believe we have now made the breakthrough we need. Today’s result is of course a compromise,” Mr Juncker told a hastily arranged news conference.

The commission said it was ready to begin work immediately on Phase 2 talks, which cover trade and long-term relations with the bloc.

European Council President Donald Tusk said the EU is ready to start negotiating a transition period with the UK and wanted more clarity on how it sees their new relationship after leaving.

He said Britain will have to respect all EU laws during the transition, as well as as respect its budgetary commitments and the bloc’s judicial oversight.

But it would no longer take part in decision-making that will be done by the 27 remaining states.

Mr Tusk said, however, too much time was spent on negotiating the outlines of Britain’s exit, which he said was the relatively easier part.

“We all know that breaking up is hard but breaking up and building a new relation is much harder,” he said.

“So much time has been devoted to the easier task and now … we have de facto less than a year,” left of talks before Britain is due to leave in March, 2019.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the deal “fully protected” the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process and an all-Ireland economy.

“What it means is any deal that is done has to be better than the default position, otherwise we won’t be able to agree it”

Under the terms of the negotiations being carried out under Article 50 of the EU treaties, the European Council must agree that sufficient progress has been made on the divorce issues of citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the UK’s financial settlement before talks can move on to the issues of trade and transition.

The publication of the joint report makes it all but certain that EU27 leaders will approve this step on Thursday, marking a significant step forward in the process leading towards UK withdrawal in March 2019.

It eases pressure on Mrs May, who was facing the prospect of businesses activating contingency plans to move staff and activities out of the UK if no progress had been made by the end of the year.

Mr Juncker cautioned: “The joint report is not the withdrawal agreement. That agreement needs to be drafted by the negotiators on the basis we have agreed yesterday and today and then approved by the Council and ratified by the UK Parliament and European Parliament.”

He said that he and Mrs May had discussed the need for a transition period following the formal date of Brexit, and shared “a joint vision of a deep and close partnership”.

“It is crucial for us all that we continue working closely together on issues such as trade, research, security and others”

“We will take things one step at a time, starting with next week’s European Council, but today I am hopeful that we are all moving towards the second phase of these challenging negotiations and we can do this jointly on the basis of renewed trust, determination and with the perspective of a renewed friendship.”

Mrs May said that the negotiation process “hasn’t been easy for either side”.

“When we met on Monday, we said a deal was within reach,” said the PM. “What we have arrived at today represents a significant improvement.”

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said “substantial progress” had been made from the text her party rejected on Monday.

Ms Foster, who negotiated directly with Mrs May into the early hours of Friday, said Northern Ireland would now leave the single market and customs union and insisted there would be no border down the Irish sea, dividing Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK.

“There will be no so-called ‘special status’ for Northern Ireland as demanded by Sinn Féin”

“Northern Ireland will not be separated constitutionally, politically, economically or regulatory from the rest of the United Kingdom and the joint UK-EU report at the conclusion of phase one makes clear that in all circumstances the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.”

But the DUP leader made clear there was “still more work to be done”.

What the DUP really fears is British betrayal

Posted by Jim on

The DUP and the Conservatives signed a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement in June. DUP leader Arlene Foster reportedly torpedoed the proposed Brexit border deal during a phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May. 

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It was a perfect snooker on Monday. The DUP had May on the cushion. There was one ball she had to hit but her path was blocked by a collection of the wrong balls as you could see.

Just as in a real game of snooker she has decided to take her time trying to work out how to escape from the snooker. The rest of this week she’ll be walking round the table working out angles.

While she’s doing that there are some parochial conclusions that can be drawn. First, it’s the end of devolved administration here until a British general election changes the complexion of government. She may have thought on Monday she was reading out a stone-walling statement but Arlene Foster was in reality reading out her own P45. Spurred on by her hard line,  MPs who were panicked by the leaks about the EU-UK agreement on The Border in Ireland she proved beyond peradventure that Sinn Féin are correct about the Stormont stand off.

By coincidence Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney had just been on the radio trying to finish an uninterrupted sentence to explain why the Good Friday Agreement was in danger from the Conservative-DUP alignment – there’s that word again. Theresa May’s alacrity in responding to the DUP statement showed why there can be no deal at Stormont. Just as Sinn Féin have been claiming all along it’s obvious now that the British government and its useless proconsul block anything that might discomfit the DUP. So there can be,  and will be,  no progress as long as the Conservative-DUP link remains.

People are going to have to stop saying the DUP and Sinn Féin are as bad as each other. The evidence quite clearly points to DUP stone-walling supported by the Conservative government as the reason for the failure to resume business at Stormont.

Secondly, Theresa May is now doing what Sinn Féin sources confirm the British government always does in negotiations. They reach a draft agreement,  and then begin to negotiate backwards from it,  having discovered their opponent’s bottom line. For example, that’s what they’re doing with the Stormont House deal on the past. On Monday May incredibly took off the table an agreement she’d made that morning with the EU. She unagreed it. Having talked Dublin down from ‘no regulatory divergence’ to ‘continued regulatory alignment’ she will now try to water that down too.

The British will still have to accept most of the concessions they’ve already made because they’re desperate to get to Phase 2 and talk about trade. However they will now plead mitigation because, since all the ambiguities and subtleties have been exposed and dissected, it’s going to be much more difficult to convince the Brextremists of the merits of the deal, but deal there must be.

What we also know from experience is this. May and her advisers will easily convince their DUP dupes by spelling out in words of one syllable how different the agreement was from the leak that spooked the DUP. They will cobble together a deal, then at the appropriate time rat on the DUP. The DUP know that. They may heap all the abuse on the Irish government but their real fear is the British betraying them. After all, they’ve always done it in the past and getting a deal with the EU is vastly more important to the British than placating Depooty Dawds[Deputy Nigel Dodds].

What the DUP are attempting is to embarrass the British government into sticking to the principles May enunciated “in the House of Commons,” as poor redundant Arlene kept repeating. Fat chance.

The worrying aspect of all this is that the Irish government may not appreciate that having convinced the DUP and the Brextremists and concluded a deal to get into trade talks, the British will then rat on the Irish when it comes to the detail of a trade deal.

What the Irish government has to do is to get the principles agreed in any EU-UK deal on The Border written into the final withdrawal treaty the UK makes with the EU. If they aren’t written into that,  then they don’t exist except as a gleam in Leo Varadkar’s eye.

Theresa May’s Irish Headache, and the Final Death Knell of British Imperialism

Posted by Jim on


“After centuries of oppression, will Ireland benefit from Britain’s implosion?…

Henry Porter. Vanity Fair.Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The United Kingdom, whose long slide into irrelevance was hastened by the arrogance of Brexit, is now moving rapidly toward dissolution over the terms of its self-imposed estrangement. On Monday, Theresa May made a terse statement announcing that negotiations with the European Union had been suspended because of disagreements over the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, uniting two issues—Europe and Ireland—that have obsessed the British political establishment for more than half a century. The Irish question, perhaps better than any other issue, underscores the chaotic nature of the U.K. government’s approach to Brexit, and the enfeebled state of the country since voting to cut ties with Europe.

What has happened this week looks like karma on a grand scale. But the predicament over the border is also a sign of the rapid retreat from reason that characterizes the plan to leave the E.U. May’s government has long promised a “hard Brexit” from Europe, leaving both the Customs Union and the Single Market, while maintaining a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—a devoted member of the European Union. Not even the head-banging Brexit extremists on May’s backbenches want a return to the border patrols and watchtowers of the Troubles.

But May’s policy is dizzy with cognitive dissonance. It makes no sense whatsoever to withdraw from the E.U. and keep an open border through which goods can pass without standard customs procedures. The formula—drafted late last weekend and, crucially, not shared with the Democratic Unionists on whom May relies for support in the House of Commons—meant that Northern Ireland would have a special customs status and therefore remain more attached to the E.U. than the rest of the U.K.

The U.K. may be suffering a kind of institutional mental breakdown, but the processing speeds of politicians are as yet undimmed. Leaders in Scotland, Wales, and London quickly began to ask why they couldn’t be granted the same exception. Members of the Northern Irish D.U.P., meanwhile, were appalled to realize that the move would also make Northern Ireland more Irish. A border with Britain, drawn across the Irish Sea, would represent a significant step toward eventual unification of the north and south of the island. So the ardently unionist D.U.P. pulled its support and called a halt to the draft agreement needed for the Brexit negotiations to progress. Brussels’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told member states on Wednesday that if May’s government cannot reach an agreement in 48 hours, talks could be delayed until March, accelerating  the exodus of businesses from the U.K.

There is a desperate, suicidal urgency about the U.K. government’s behavior, and it is reasonable to wonder if some spooky determinism is at work—payback for centuries of domination in Ireland and a more recent record of exceptionalism in Europe. A hundred years ago Britain’s influence extended across five continents and, despite the huge cost of World War I, most of the trappings of empire were intact. At that time, the idea that Britain’s plans could be frustrated by Ireland would have been laughable. Today, it is a hard reality because the Irish—like all E.U. member states—have a veto in the negotiations. As the Irish writer Fintan O’Toole asked this week, “If, for the first time in 800 years, Ireland is proving to be in a much stronger political position than Britain, what does that say about what Brexit is doing to Britain’s strength?”

The answer is a humiliating one for the British, or, more precisely, the English, who dominated the history of the British Isles and empire before supporting Brexit by a majority. (Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the E.U.) It is the English who, if they were more self-aware, would feel the full force of the ignominy of the events of this week. But we are not living in a reasonable age and the London press—strongly biased in favor of Brexit—immediately heaped blame on the Irish government for what is essentially an English problem.

Does it have to be this way? Is the possible breakup of the United Kingdom and certain decline of its component parts simply the final stage of a cycle as old as history itself, the rise and fall of empires? You can argue that there are strong psychological reasons for what is going on in the English, who have had difficulty accommodating both the evidence of decline and the need for cooperation with neighboring states. Yet it would be wrong to generalize because very large numbers of English—particularly on the left and in the major cities—voted to remain in the E.U. What is happening appalls them as much as it does the Remainers in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Britain’s membership in the E.U. did, for a time, mitigate the forces of decline. With people on both sides of the Irish border becoming citizens of the same political union in the 1990s, the sectarian and national differences began to matter less, culminating in the Good Friday Agreement under Tony Blair that ended the Troubles. Britain could function as a moderately successful economy and allow expression of its many skills in, for example, finance, scientific research, and the creative arts within Europe. While there were, admittedly, problems with immigration, the benign dissolution of borders had millions of supporters who saw in the E.U. a place for Britain as a modest, successful, post-imperial nation.

That future now seems unlikely as May’s government stumbles toward a settlement that would sever Britain from the world it once ruled. Some sort of fudged solution will no doubt be hastily applied in Ireland so that the U.K. and exasperated Brussels officials can move on and Brexiters can achieve their ambition of leaving Europe. But the truth is that the patch probably won’t work, and it certainly won’t mask the destructive reality of English nationalism and its hard-line allies in Northern Ireland.

I keep on writing in these columns that it is very hard to know where this is all going to end. But that is true for every member of the government and Britain’s entire civil service. As we learned on Wednesday, David Davis, the man in charge of Brexit negotiations, never commissioned the studies on Brexit’s economic impact that he said had been ordered. I cannot think of an act of greater negligence or dishonesty in post-war government. His airy assertion that the usefulness of such studies would be near zero, because of the magnitude of the change, is hardly reassuring.

Next year will be one of huge national anxiety. We may see a collapse of the May government, another general election, and even a second referendum. But, right now, things are so desperate and delusional. It’s as if we are all cramped in an elevator that is in free fall, vaguely hoping that if we all jump at the same time when it hits the ground we will be saved.

Mark THOMPSON-Relatives for Justice- Manhattan event January 11th -FFAI

Posted by Jim on

 

Brothers,
      Attached is a note from Brother Martin Galvin re a FFAI event taking place on January 11th in the city. He is asking the Brooklyn brothers to be listed as a co-sponsor which I believe we should. I plan on attending and I’m hopeful to get a decent turnout from Kings County.
        Please talk it up & let me know who is interested.
Jerry McCabe
 
 
 
 
 
——– Original message ——–
From: Martin Galvin
Date: 12/6/17 10:56 AM (GMT-05:00)
Subject: Mark THOMPSON-Relatives for Justice- Manhattan event January 11th -FFAI
 
Brothers
 As you know New York State AOH is bringing out Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice for a one week tour the second week in January.Mark and RfJ are often the only hope of justice for hundreds of families who had loved ones murdered by British forces directly or in collusion with loyalists. Most recently they filed papers on Liam Ryan a Tyrone born American citizen,long time Bronx resident and Con Ed worker who was murdered after returning to Tyrone and buying a pub.
He is coming to us because he says American and especially AOH for these victims is critical as the British are making moves to end all hope of justice and truth with a Statute of Limitations.
In order to get the widest possible audience we are holding one public event in New York City on Thursday evening January 11th at the Wolfe Tone Pub on East 29th street.(Malachy McAllister is a good friend of Mark’s and they requested to hold an event there.) He will also be going to Suffolk County,Rockland,Albany and Peekskill before returning to Belfast.
Two years ago New York County booked Ruan O’Donnell.  County Chair Tom Beirne invited Brother Manning and Queens and the Bronx to be co-sponsors.
That seemed to be very positive initiative  and allowed us all to be more involved and feel more part of a very successful event.I am trying to copy Brother Beirne’s great idea.
I have spoken to a couple of you,most recently at the Parade Meeting last week but want to confirm before listing New York, Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn  as co-sponsors of this event.
This would not mean any additional work or financial obligation for  any co-sponsor-just have someone at the event to be introduced representing each co-sponsor and we may try to have county banners depending on space.
I just know the Bronx members felt more involved as a result of Brother Beirne’s initiative 2 years ago   and this would allow each county to share credit for any contributions that we would make.
-please email me back to confirm if this is ok
thanks
MARTIN GALVIN

Pro-union Brexit deal set to inflame border concerns

Posted by Jim on

 

 

As a draft deal on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union was
being parsed today, unionists appeared to have won dramatic changes,
heavily eroding a previous commitment to no regulatory divergence along
the Irish border and adding clear guarantees of no regulatory barriers
between the north of Ireland and Britain.

All sides involved in the talks spoke of having achieved their desired
goals. DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party had won “six substantive
changes” to the text on the Irish border in overnight talks, ensuring
there would be “no red line down the Irish Sea”.

Despite major contradictions in the text, Brussels officials and the
governments in Dublin and London proclaimed themselves satisfied with
the outcome, which permits negotiations to move forward to the specifics
of trade agreements.

DUP spokesman Sammy Wilson said the agreement ensured the north of
Ireland would leave the European Union, its customs union and single
market “along with the rest of the United Kingdom”, and that there would
be no customs or trade barrier between the north of Ireland and Britain.

He also claimed his party had defeated Sinn Fein’s call for designated
special status for the north of Ireland, which would not be separated
“constitutionally, politically, economically or regulatory from the rest
of the United Kingdom”.

The text makes copious references to the “1998 [Good Friday] Agreement”
and the principle of consent — the requirement of a majority of
citizens in the Six Counties to support any future constitutional change
— even though voters in the north of Ireland soundly rejected Brexit
and, polls indicate, continue to do so.

In another apparent contradiction, Dublin said the final wording of the
agreement preserves the promise of “full regulatory alignment” between
the North and South of Ireland.

It pointed to a section of the text which declared that in the absence
of an overall agreement, “the United Kingdom will maintain full
alignment with those rules… which support North-South cooperation, the
all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.”

However, that statement appears to be a significant dilution of the
situation earlier this week. The deal also goes on, in the next
paragraph, to spell out the opposite case — “the United Kingdom will
ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland
and the rest of the United Kingdom unless, consistent with the 1998
Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that
distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland.”

This appears to provide an extraordinary veto on trade deals to the
devolved Stormont Assembly and Executive, which collapsed in January,
despite there being no indication that they will return.

The agreement also specifies that a separate strand of the negotiations
in phase two will be concerned with Irish issues. It says this work will
also address issues arising from “Ireland’s unique geographical
situation”, including the transit of Irish goods through Britain and
Ireland to markets in mainland Europe.

British Prime Minister May said the deal would ensure “no hard border”
in Ireland and added the deal was a “significant improvement”.

A Dublin government spokesman said the negotiations had preserved the
Common Travel Area, the Good Friday Agreement “and crucially obtaining a
guarantee that there will be no hard border.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said it was a “significant day” for Ireland.

“We have achieved all that we set out to achieve in phase one of these
negotiations,” he told a press conference in Government Buildings in
Dublin. “I am satisfied that sufficient progress has now been made on
Irish issues, the parameters have now been set and they are good.”

He said Ireland’s focus would now move to phase two of the negotiations.
Mr Varadkar said his government would remain “fully engaged and
vigilant” throughout the process.

“This is not the end but it is the end of the beginning,” he added.

Brexit deal reached between EU and London

Posted by Jim on

The full text of a draft agreement released this morning (in reference
to Ireland) in negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Ireland and Northern Ireland

 

42. Both Parties affirm that the achievements, benefits and commitments
of the peace process will remain of paramount importance to peace,
stability and reconciliation. They agree that the Good Friday or Belfast
Agreement reached on 10 April 1998 by the United Kingdom Government, the
Irish Government and the other participants in the multi-party
negotiations (the ‘1998 Agreement’) must be protected in all its parts,
and that this extends to the practical application of the 1998 Agreement
on the island of Ireland and to the totality of the relationships set
out in the Agreement.

43. The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union presents a
significant and unique challenge in relation to the island of Ireland.
The United Kingdom recalls its commitment to protecting the operation of
the 1998 Agreement, including its subsequent implementation agreements
and arrangements, and to the effective operation of each of the
institutions and bodies established under them. The United Kingdom also
recalls its commitment to the avoidance of a hard border, including any
physical infrastructure or related checks and controls.

44. Both Parties recognise the need to respect the provisions of the
1998 Agreement regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland
and the principle of consent. The commitments set out in this joint
report are and must remain fully consistent with these provisions. The
United Kingdom continues to respect and support fully Northern Ireland’s
position as an integral part of the United Kingdom, consistent with the
principle of consent.

45. The United Kingdom respects Ireland’s ongoing membership of the
European Union and all of the corresponding rights and obligations that
entails, in particular Ireland’s place in the Internal Market and the
Customs Union. The United Kingdom also recalls its commitment to
preserving the integrity of its internal market and Northern Ireland’s
place within it, as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union’s
Internal Market and Customs Union.

46. The commitments and principles outlined in this joint report will
not pre-determine the outcome of wider discussions on the future
relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom and are,
as necessary, specific to the unique circumstances on the island of
Ireland. They are made and must be upheld in all circumstances,
irrespective of the nature of any future agreement between the European
Union and United Kingdom.

47. Cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a central part
of the 1998 Agreement and is essential for achieving reconciliation and
the normalisation of relationships on the island of Ireland. In this
regard, both Parties recall the roles, functions and safeguards of the
Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the
North-South Ministerial Council (including its cross-community
provisions) as set out in the 1998 Agreement. The two Parties have
carried out a mapping exercise, which shows that North-South cooperation
relies to a significant extent on a common European Union legal and
policy framework. Therefore, the United Kingdom’s departure from the
European Union gives rise to substantial challenges to the maintenance
and development of North-South cooperation.

48. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting and supporting
continued North-South and East-West cooperation across the full range of
political, economic, security, societal and agricultural contexts and
frameworks of cooperation, including the continued operation of the
North-South implementation bodies.

49. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South
cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future
arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The
United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the
overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United
Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique
circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed
solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those
rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the
future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the
protection of the 1998 Agreement.

50. In the absence of agreed solutions, as set out in the previous
paragraph, the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory
barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United
Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern
Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are
appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United
Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern
Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.

51. Both Parties will establish mechanisms to ensure the implementation
and oversight of any specific arrangement to safeguard the integrity of
the EU Internal Market and the Customs Union.

52. Both Parties acknowledge that the 1998 Agreement recognises the
birth right of all the people of Northern Ireland to choose to be Irish
or British or both and be accepted as such. The people of Northern
Ireland who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU
citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland. Both Parties
therefore agree that the Withdrawal Agreement should respect and be
without prejudice to the rights, opportunities and identity that come
with European Union citizenship for such people and, in the next phase
of negotiations, will examine arrangements required to give effect to
the ongoing exercise of, and access to, their EU rights, opportunities
and benefits.

53. The 1998 Agreement also includes important provisions on Rights,
Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity for which EU law and practice has
provided a supporting framework in Northern Ireland and across the
island of Ireland. The United Kingdom commits to ensuring that no
diminution of rights is caused by its departure from the European Union,
including in the area of protection against forms of discrimination
enshrined in EU law. The United Kingdom commits to facilitating the
related work of the institutions and bodies, established by the 1998
Agreement, in upholding human rights and equality standards.

54. Both Parties recognise that the United Kingdom and Ireland may
continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the
movement of persons between their territories (Common Travel Area),
while fully respecting the rights of natural persons conferred by Union
law. The United Kingdom confirms and accepts that the Common Travel Area
and associated rights and privileges can continue to operate without
affecting Ireland’s obligations under Union law, in particular with
respect to free movement for EU citizens.

55. Both Parties will honour their commitments to the PEACE and INTERREG
funding programmes under the current multi-annual financial framework.
Possibilities for future support will be examined favourably.

56. Given the specific nature of issues related to Ireland and Northern
Ireland, and on the basis of the principles and commitments set out
above, both Parties agree that in the next phase work will continue in a
distinct strand of the negotiations on the detailed arrangements
required to give them effect. Such work will also address issues arising
from Ireland’s unique geographic situation, including the transit of
goods (to and from Ireland via the United Kingdom), in line with the
approach established by the European Council Guidelines of 29 April
2017.

 

 

Senior figures in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have insisted they would never enter any coalition with Sinn Féin

Posted by Jim on November 20, 2017

Martin McGuinness’s widow, Bernie; Gerry Adams; Michelle O’Neill; and Mary Lou McDonald at the Sinn Féin ardfheis. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Martin McGuinness’s widow, Bernie; Gerry Adams; Michelle O’Neill; and Mary Lou McDonald at the Sinn Féin ardfheis. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

By Sarah Bardon

Sinn Féin passed a motion at its ardfheis this weekend allowing it to enter government as a minority partner, a significant shift by the party.

However Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin ruled out doing business with Sinn Féin.

Mr Varadkar said the party “might be getting younger but their policies are the same”. His view was echoed by senior figures in the party including Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty.

Mr Flanagan said: “From a policing and a security point of view, Sinn Féin is not fit for government. It also engages in Paul Daniels economics,” he said, referring to the magician.

Ms Doherty said the main contender for the leadership of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald, has sought to “defend the legacy of Sinn Féin and the IRA”.

The Minister pointed to Ms McDonald’s loyalty to Gerry Adams when he was being accused of covering up sex abuse allegations.

Martin’s criticism

In a speech on Saturday night, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin strongly criticised Sinn Féin for always “putting the Provisional movement first”.

He added: “They might be new leaders but they are not new faces. For one moment let’s assume that Sinn Féin will act against type and actually hold a democratic election for its next leader.

“The fact is that every one of their potential leaders joined Sinn Féin before the ceasefires and has repeatedly defended the Provisional IRA’s campaign.”

A number of Fianna Fáil TDs have spoken in favour of a coalition with Sinn Féin. However, party spokesman on housing Barry Cowen urged “such troublemakers” to remember the vote taken by the ardfheis earlier this month.

The Fianna Fáil conference agreed not to enter any coalition arrangement with Sinn Féin. Mr Cowen insisted there would be no deviation from that policy by the party.

No Stone Unturned – review

Posted by Jim on November 18, 2017

——————————————————–
Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney exposes the collusion which
shielded the perpetrators of the 1994 Loughinisland massacre from
justice. The shocking No Stone Unturned finally names the chief suspects
while revealing the RUC’s deliberate mishandling of the multiple murder
inquiry.  Review by David Roy (for Irish News)
————————————————————-

The Alex Gibney written and directed No Stone Unturned is a powerful,
profoundly disturbing documentary exposing the collusion which fatally
tainted the RUC investigation into one of the most notorious incidents
of the Troubles.

On June 18 1994, six men were gunned down at The Heights Bar in
Loughinisland as they watched the Republic of Ireland play Italy in the
World Cup.

Although police quickly recovered the getaway car, along with weapons
and items of clothing used in the attack, no-one was ever charged in
connection with the atrocity.

Featuring interviews with former police officers, veteran journalists,
Police Ombudsman investigators and the legal team representing the
victims and their families, the film places the killings in the
tit-for-tat context of the times.

Oscar-winner Gibney painstakingly reveals how RUC Special Branch
officers apparently knew of the attack 24 hours beforehand, then
interfered with the investigation by obstructing inquiries, destroying
evidence (the getaway car was actually crushed), withholding crucial
information and even warning suspects in advance that they were about to
be arrested.

While collusion between paramilitary killers and some members of the
security forces during the Troubles is hardly news at this point, it’s
still deeply shocking to have the often comically brazen mechanics of
such perversions of justice repeatedly laid bare here.

For years, south Down locals have suspected that the Loughinisland
killers were prominent members of a notorious UVF cell operating in the
area.

No Stone Unturned presents compelling evidence that this is correct –
and furthermore that one or more of those involved in the Loughinisland
attack were actually Special Branch informers who were also involved in
other sectarian murders of the era.

Even the VZ58 assault rifle used in the Heights Bar attack is traced
back to a shipment of arms believed to have been smuggled into the north
with the aid of notorious British Army ‘supergrass’ and UDA man Brian
Nelson.

This gripping documentary begins with a reconstruction of the attack,
interwoven with grisly crime scene photographs of the blood-saturated
aftermath and the harrowing recollections of Aidan O’Toole, who survived
being shot while working behind the bar, and relatives of the six
patrons who perished.

We learn that No Stone Unturned is named for words spoken to Clare Rogan
by an RUC officer attending the wake for her husband, Adrian, who was
murdered in the attack.

“We will leave no stone unturned until we get the perpetrators,” she was
told.

Ironically, it has taken an outsider to fully excavate the facts of the
Loughinisland murders.

Gibney’s film names the four people police identified as the chief
suspects at the time of the Loughinisland attack: the gang leader still
lives in south Down and is eventually captured on camera.

Their names were included in a leaked Police Ombudsman-produced draft
document dating back to 2008, but redacted for Al Hutchinson’s Police
Ombudsman’s Report published in 2011 – which also ruled out collusion in
the Loughinisland case.

However, the 2011 report was quashed last year by Dr Michael Maguire’s
new Police Ombudsman report, which confirmed that RUC/UVF collusion had
indeed been a key factor in the failure to apprehend the killers.

We see the emotional moment when Dr Maguire first presents his verdict
to the families of the Loughinisland victims.

“That’s all we ever wanted to know,” responds Adrian Rogan’s tearful
daughter, Emma, now Sinn Fein MLA for south Down.

The 2008 draft document also named the RUC’s senior investigating
officer. Gibney reveals that he took several weeks’ holiday leave
immediately after taking charge of the murders and later retired abroad,
refusing to co-operate with the Ombudsman’s investigation.

It’s almost worth seeing this film just to hear ex-Irish News journalist
Barry McCaffery’s story of tracking the ex-cop down to a small village
in France and presenting him with the leaked Loughinisland info.

Beyond the multitude of damning evidence implicating members of the
security forces presented by No Stone Unturned, one of its most
incredible revelations is that the wife of the notorious alleged UVF
killer who led the Loughinisland attack repeatedly attempted to turn him
in after discovering that he was having an affair.

On one occasion, she phoned the RUC to ‘anonymously’ report her husband
and his accomplices. Unfortunately, having previously been employed in
the canteen of an RUC station, officers recognised her voice and
promptly had her arrested.

However, despite also writing a letter naming the killers and admitting
her own role in the planning of the killings, the woman was then
released without charge.

It’s all pretty damning, depressing stuff, especially as Gibney suggests
that justice for the Loughinisland victims and their families may have
been deliberately sacrificed by the British government in order to
safeguard the 1994 IRA and UVF ceasefires which paved the way for the
Good Friday Agreement.

He also reminds us that even if the suspected multiple murderers are now
successfully re-investigated and prosecuted, they will only serve a
maximum of two years in prison under the terms of the 1998 accord.

Made for an international audience, some minor stylistic choices are
likely to grate on local eyes and ears (especially those sensitive to
the sound of mournful flutes), but these in no way undermine one of the
most powerful documentaries you will see this year.

* No Stone Unturned is currently showing at QFT Belfast and cinemas
across Ireland and in London. See http://wildcarddistribution.com for
more details.

Sinn Fein clear way to enter Dublin govt as junior party

Posted by Jim on

The prospect of a Sinn Fein Tanaiste serving under a Fine Gael or Fianna
Fail Taoiseach is closer today after a controversial vote at Sinn Fein’s
annual conference in Dublin this weekend.

The decision to allow it to enter negotiations on forming a government
as a a junior coalition party is seen as a potential landmark in Sinn
Fein’s journey to the corridors of power in Dublin.

In recent years, Sinn Fein has been incrementally opening its policy on
coalition with the two main right-wing parties, moving from outright
opposition to one embracing the possibility of propping up a left-right
government.

Despite a number of reservations expressed by delegates, the party
confirmed on Friday evening it was willing to consider entering
coalition as a minority party when some 75% or 80% of hands were raised
in support of motion eleven.

This came despite the knowledge that no junior party has survived
propping up a Fine Gael or Fianna Fail government unscathed, and two of
them — the Progressive Democrats and Democratic Left — have
disappeared entirely from the political stage. Two others, the Labour
party and the Green Party, have been decimated to a tiny fraction of
their previous support.

However, Sinn Fein’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty argued the case in
a forceful speech. He insisted Sinn Fein must look at any proposal for
government and judge each one on its merits. This is not about power but
change, he said, adding a final decision would be made by the members of
the party at a further special convention.

Sligo/Leitrim TD Martin Kenny said Sinn Fein was right to be cautious
about entering a coalition but it must make itself “uncomfortable” and
“take risks” to ensure the party had a voice in government.

“We must ensure we do nothing to give our opponents an excuse to beat
us,” referring to previous criticism by the other parties of Sinn Fein’s
failure to enter negotiations on forming a government after the last
election.

The party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald confirmed the vote meant
Sinn Fein was willing to go into coalition with either Fianna Fail or
Fine Gael after the next election.

“This is not about signing up to say we want to be a junior party, this
is us saying we believe that we are ready,” she said.

“We have made it clear we will talk to anybody after the election. I do
not think it is fundamentally democratic to think they have a divine
right to discount others.”

A final decision on entering a coalition will still have to be taken by
a special Ard Fheis, convened for that purpose, although it would be
expected to certainly endorse the leadership position.

Despite the collapse of power-sharing in the North and upheaval in Sinn
Fein over allegations of bullying and ‘whisper campaigns’ by party
management, this year’s annual conference has again seen no protest by
party grassroots against the leadership.

However, control of the party is now in a degree of flux, with an old
guard bring edged out to make way for a new, more career-minded
leadership.

Martin McGuinness, whose death this year which accelerated this process,
was remembered fondly in tributes over the weekend. Party leader Gerry
Adams is this evening expected to signal that his 34 years as Sinn Fein
President will come to an end. One of his own advisers was quoted in the
media urging him to go as his leadership “caps our potential growth”.

Mr Adams’s full presidential address will be carried here later today.

Continue reading »

45 YEARS FOR THE TRUTH

Posted by Jim on

Rulings that the murder of 11-year-old British Army victim Francis
Rowntree was ‘not justified’ and that the rubber bullets fired at him
were lethal have been widely welcomed, although 45 years late and
following the recent death of his mother.

Theresa Rowntree, who had long campaigned for the truth to be revealed
about her young son’s death in 1972, died in a Belfast nursing home in
March – just months before this week’s verdict.

Francis, a pupil at St Finian’s Primary School, was shot in the head by
a rubber bullet on 20 April 1972 while walking through the Divis Flats
complex close to the Falls Road in west Belfast, and died two days
later.

His wounds included skull fractures and lacerations of the brain, in
preliminary inquest findings revealed this week.

The soldier who fired the rubber bullet used “excessive force”, coroner
Brian Sherrard said.

Eye witnesses, including a British Army officer instructing the
soldiers, told the court that a crowd gathered around a vehicle carrying
a number of soldiers which stopped in the area. A number of children had
come to watch the disturbance out of curiosity.

The court also heard that two rounds of rubber bullets were fired by a
soldier to “disperse” the crowd, and that one of the bullets hit the
boy’s head. No warning was given before the shots were fired.

The Coroner noted the soldier was not given any training in the use of
the bullets or made aware they were potentially lethal.

However, Francis’s death did not alter or diminish British strategy in
their efforts to control nationalist areas using rubber and plastic
bullets.

Over the next 17 years, the weapons were responsible for another 16
deaths. Eight of the fatalities, including Francis – a primary school
pupil in west Belfast – were children, ranging in age from 15 to ten.
This week’s ruling could have implications for the families of the other
victims.

His older brother Jim said his family had finally got “a bit of closure”
after 45 years.

“This is the first time that they have decided this gun was lethal. The
government had denied it but now it’s down in black and white,” he said.

“It’s an awful thing that my mother couldn’t have seen it. She died in
March. She knew she was right. She’s looking down on us now – her and
Frank.”

Mr Rowntree said he now wanted an official apology from the British
Ministry of Defence.

The family later issued a statement through their lawyer, Padraig O
Muirigh.

“Many young children were killed and maimed by the rubber bullet and its
successor, the plastic bullet,” the statement said. “Their use, free
from regulation and training, amounted to a systemic abuse of human
rights.

“These findings are not only a legal victory for the Rowntree family but
for all those who campaigned for many years for these lethal weapons to
be banned.”

Direct Rule budget passes through Westminster

Posted by Jim on November 13, 2017

Sinn Fein has said talks with unionists to restore the Six County
Executive are over after it was confirmed today that the British
government is pushing a ‘Northern Ireland’ budget bill through all
stages of the Westminster parliament, a key step towards the return of
full Direct Rule of the north of Ireland from London.

Sinn Fein said it had ended talks with the DUP and have called for
“joint British-Irish partnership arrangements” for the north of Ireland.

Sinn Fein’s Northern leader Michelle O’Neill said that by moving to
bring in a budget for the north of Ireland from Westminster, the British
government was acknowledging that “an agreement hasn’t been possible”.

She said Sinn Fein met the DUP this morning and told them of its
decision to end the negotiations, without setting a date for their
resumption.  “This phase of the talks are over,” said Ms O’Neill.

She accused British prime minister Theresa May of prioritising “her own
electoral survival by the Tory-DUP pact over the interests of all the
people here in the North”.

Ms O’Neill said in the absence of an Executive and Assembly,
responsibility to move on issues such as an Irish language act and other
equality issues lies with the British and Irish governments.

She called for Dublin and London to convene a meeting of the
British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference to address issues which were
blocking the return of devolved power-sharing.

Ms O’Neill said that full Direct Rule from Westminster was “not an
option”. She also referred to a period in 2006 where there were
discussions on joint British-Irish government structures.

“Clearly there is a mechanism within the Good Friday agreement in the
intergovernmental conference that would allow work to be done across the
British-Irish governments. That is what we are asking for,” she said.

“We have sought urgent meetings with the Taoiseach and the two
governments,” added Ms O’Neill.

“The way forward now is for the two governments to fulfil their
responsibilities as co-guarantors of the Good Friday agreement and the
St Andrews Agreement to honour outstanding commitments and to deliver
rights for everyone that are enjoyed by everyone else elsewhere on these
islands.

“This in itself would pave the way for the Executive to be restored.”

Ms O’Neill said difficulties were compounded by Brexit and the DUP’s
“refusal to accept the vote in the North to reject Brexit”.

There has been no effective devolved government since the late Martin
McGuinness stood down as Deputy First Minister in January in a row with
DUP leader Arlene Foster amid concerns about corruption and the
integrity of the northern institutions.

Ms O’Neill did not say when or if talks with the DUP might resume. “The
issues aren’t going to go away,” she said at a Sinn Fein press
conference attended by senior party figures including party president
Gerry Adams.

“So, whether we deal with them now, or deal with them in one month, two
months, three months they have to be resolved in order to restore these
institutions and to allow people to have confidence in these
institutions,” she added

Intimidation rising, figures show

Posted by Jim on November 11, 2017

Hundreds of people are being forced from their homes every year by
loyalist paramilitaries, according to figures released this week.

They show that a total of 477 people presented as homeless to the
Housing Executive because of paramilitary intimidation, and increase of
ten per cent over last year.

The most high profile of these cases took place recently when the east
Belfast UVF forced out Catholic families living in the ‘shared space’ of
Cantrell Close, and the separate burning out of Catholics living in
Derry’s Waterside.

Racist attacks have been reported by loyalists against Bangladeshi,
Syrian and Belgian families, with bricks thrown at their homes in north
and east Belfast, as well as arson attacks against their cars.

Examples of hate crimes and the day-to-day level of harassment and
intimidation of Catholics were again visible this week, with a new
`Taigs Out’ sign in the County Down village of Clough.

Clough is just a few miles from Loughinisland which has been in the
headlines due to the release of a documentary about state collusion in a
loyalist atrocity in 1994.

The PSNI said they were treating the graffiti as a hate crime. However,
locals noted there had been no action to remove it for almost a week.

“It’s disappointing that five days after the sign was notified to the
police, it is still there intact, continuing to intimidate a section of
the community as it was designed to do,” said Amnesty International’s
Patrick Corrigan. “If the authorities can’t take action to remove a
sign, then how are people meant to feel safe?”

Sinn Fein assembly member Sinead Ennis also said she had contacted
police about the sign.

“The erection of this sign was a clear attempt of sectarian
intimidation,” she said. “I reported it as a hate crime to the PSNI on
Friday night and asked for it to be removed. The sign caused great upset
to people in the area and those passing by it.”

Separately, a sectarian sticker which included the slogan ‘Kick a fenian
in the head’, was discovered at a recycling centre in Banbridge, County
Down.

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Savage reported it to the PSNI He said the
sticker was a “veiled reference to the brutal sectarian murder of Robert
Hamill in Portadown in 1997”.

Mr Hamill, a Catholic, was beaten to death by loyalists as PSNI members
watched in April 1997.

‘Fenians Out’ messages have also appeared in Derry’s Waterside recently.
Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson, believes the graffiti was
designed to intimidate Catholic users of the council-run sports complex
and nearby St Columb’s Park.

He said: “It is disappointing to see this but it is not surprising. The
message we need to get out is that all council facilities are open to
everybody and there is no place for sectarianism anywhere.

“We must ensure people feel safe and comfortable using Foyle Arena and
St Columbs Park, and that there are no ‘no go’ areas in the city,
despite what some people might want to create.”

The pain and humiliation of Brexit

Posted by Jim on

By Jude Collins (judecollins.com)

When I hear what the EU negotiators are telling the UK, I invariably
feel a jolt of pleasure. It’s like the playground bully – he’s been
condescending and brutal with you for so long, it’s a thrill to see the
school principal give him a bone-crunching kick in the rear-end.

So whatever reservations I have about the EU, and I have quite a few,
their stance on a post-Brexit border here invariably makes me want to
punch the air. This firm attitude is displayed most recently in an
internal EU paper which makes it clear yet again to the semi-deaf Brits
that if they want to avoid a hard border in Ireland, then our North-East
Nest will have to remain in the single market and customs union. The
rules must be the same on both sides if our currently invisible border
is to continue.

This internal paper is just a working document from the EU Brexit Task
Force under Michel Barnier; it’s not a finalized EU position. But it
makes clear the direction in which EU thinking is going. We’ve been fed
a diet which caricatures countries like France, Germany and Italy, but
it’s clear that in terms of the border in Ireland, the EU are the
hard-headed, logical ones, not the Brits. If you’re going to have two
totally separate economic systems north and south, you’re going to have
to build a border to show the dividing line.

Best of all, of course, is the fact that the British can’t park this
matter in a side road and move on to matters of future trade between the
EU and the UK. The EU is insistent that the matter of a border in
Ireland must be resolved before the talks between them and the UK move
to a new phase.

It’s truly refreshing to see the EU take its commitment to the Good
Friday Agreement seriously. The British and the southern Irish
government could learn a lot from them. And they’d better learn fast.

PSNI ‘compelled’ to produce collusion report

Posted by Jim on

The PSNI is being ordered by a High Court judge to finalise and publish
an all-encompassing report into suspected British state collusion with
a loyalist unit behind more than 100 murders.

The judge, who has already ruled that the PSNI unlawfully frustrated
any chance of an effective investigation, insisted on the completion of
a thematic report into the so-called Glenanne Gang’s onslaught against
nationalists throughout the 1970s.

Lawyers for the families of victims brought the action as it emerged
that Mr Justice Treacy’s original verdict is set to be appealed.

Earlier this year the judge ruled that bereaved relatives were denied in
their legitimate expectation that the result of an overarching
investigation would be published.

In the High Court in Belfast on Tuesday, he said he would grant what is
called “an order of mandamus” that compels the PSNI Chief to conduct a
lawful investigation, and complete and publish the comprehensive
thematic report.

He also said witnesses and those bereaved by the gang were dying without
achieving any closure on suspected state collusion.

“The very sad inescapable fact is that while these debates rage on at
huge public expense, the victims’ families languish with no end in sight
and the ever increasing realisation that nothing much may happen in
their lifetime,” he said.

Judicial review proceedings were brought in the name of Edward Barnard.
Mr Barnard’s 13-year-old brother Patrick was among four people killed in
a St Patrick’s Day bomb attack on the Hillcrest Bar in Dungannon in
March, 1976.

Up to 120 murders in nearly 90 incidents in Mid Ulster and border areas
are under scrutiny. They include outrages such as the 1975 Miami
Showband Massacre, the Step Inn pub bombing in Keady, and the 1974
Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Before drafting the terms of his order, the judge has given the PSNI a
week to confirm that there are no minutes or documents about the
decision not to complete the HET investigation.

Referring to the collusion allegations, he said: “I have no doubt that
for some families their confidence has been undermined by delays which
they believe are inimical to addressing their principal unresolved
concerns.

“In the meantime witnesses or potential witnesses are lost and family
members of the deceased die without any closure or resolution.”

The judge added: “Furthermore, the anxiety of the surviving family
members is not only undimmed but exacerbated by the delays of a system
that appears powerless to stop it.”

Sinn Fein’s Linda Dillon said it was a “hugely pivotal day” but
criticised the PSNI for their legal blocking efforts.

“These kind of actions are undermining the confidence levels in the PSNI
and new policing dispensation in the north,” she said.

“I am calling on the PSNI to comply with the judgement and provide the
necessary resources and facilitate an effective and independent
investigation so that the families can get access to truth and justice.”

Lawyer Darragh Mackin said it was a “landmark decision for the families
of the Glenanne gang in their pursuit of justice”.

“Not only has the court confirmed that the decision not to investigate
was unlawful but it has gone further to compel that such an
investigation is now conducted in line with our clients’ expectation,”
he said.

“We now urge the chief constable to put in place the mechanisms for such
an independent investigation without any further delay.”

Eugene Reavey, whose three brothers were murdered by the Glenanne Gang
in south Armagh in January 1976, said it was a “big day for us” and “a
big help to all the legacy cases, not just Glenanne”.

RSF FIGURE ORDERED HELD WITHOUT TRIAL

Posted by Jim on

A prominent Armagh republican, Gabriel Mackle, has been interned on the
orders of the British Direct Ruler James Brokenshire.

From Tandragee, he was imprisoned in April 2014 on IRA charges at the
high security Maghaberry jail, where he was assaulted while resisting
the punitive prison regime. On Thursday night, he was seized by the
PSNI at his home and brought to Banbridge PSNI base before being
brought back to Maghaberry.

His ‘release licence’ has been terminated by the British government for
reasons not yet disclosed. Last weekend, Mr Mackle took part in the
annual Edentubber commemoration organised by Republican Sinn Fein in
County Louth where he delivered an oration.

His lawyer Fearghal Shiels said he intends to fight his detention.

“He strenuously denies having breached any conditions of his license
and his return to custody shall be vigorously challenged through the
courts,” he said.

RSF president Des Dalton described Mackle’s reincarceration as
politically-motivated internment. He called for his immediate release.

“Gabriel Mackle is being interned for no other reason than his
adherence to his republican beliefs,” he said.

“The British government are once more using internment to silence
opposition to their continued occupation and partition of Ireland.”

600 DAYS BEHIND BARS

Meanwhile, there have been calls for the release of another internee,
Derry man Tony Taylor, as he reached the 600th day of his detention
without trial.

His wife has spoken of how her family have been “living in a nightmare”
since her husband’s arrest 600 days ago last Tuesday.

Lorraine Taylor reiterated calls for her husband to be released or
given a fair hearing. Mrs Taylor has also appealed to the Taoiseach,
Leo Varadkar, to intervene in light of his government taking action to
help secure the release of another Irish citizen, Ibrahim Halawa, in a
separate case in Egypt.

A ‘closed hearing’ was held in May this year, which included ‘secret
evidence’ from MI5, after which a decision was again taken to refuse
Mr Taylor’s release. No fresh charges have been put to him in a case
which Sinn Fein has branded “an affront to human rights.”

Lorraine Taylor said: “600 days now and we are coming up to another
Christmas and it’s not fair. My children need their daddy home. A
family should all be together at Christmas time.

“Every day we are living a nightmare. He is missing out on so much. He
has missed the wain’s formal. We love him and we miss him every day.

“It is 600 days and all we are asking for is a fair trial; a fair
hearing in an open court so Tony can prove his innocence.”

Mr Taylor’s family and supporters are currently awaiting the results of
an appeal against a decision not to award him Legal Aid in respect of a
Judicial Review.

Mrs Taylor said that she wanted to thank the people of Derry and all
those from right across the political and campaigning spectrum who have
helped highlight her husband’s case and raised human rights concerns
over his continued detention.

“The support we have received has been amazing from the people of Derry
and all the different groups. They cannot all be wrong,” she said.

She also said Mr Varadkar could help put pressure over her husband’s
case. Representatives from the ‘Free Tony Taylor’ campaign earlier this
month handed over a letter to Mr Varadkar welcoming Mr Halawa’s release
and urging him to raise Mr Taylor’s case, while the Taoiseach was
visiting Derry.

“We welcome the release of Ibrahim Halawa and we are asking if he can
do the same for Tony.”

Foster’s refusal to step aside causes disastrous consequences.

Posted by Jim on November 10, 2017

Foster’s refusal to briefly step aside over RHI has had disastrous political consequences
If the then First Minister had agreed to stand aside for a week or two…I’m pretty sure she would still be First Minister today. …  The Assembly and Executive wouldn’t have collapsed. There would have been no throwaway lines about crocodiles and Sinn Féin wouldn’t have been able to galvanize and mobilize an angry Republican/Nationalist electorate.

Alex Kane. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, November 10, 2017

I was reading Lilah-Liberty For Want of a Nail the other night. You know the one: ‘For want of a nail the shoe was lost’, followed by the horse, the rider, the message, the battle and the kingdom itself…’ And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.’

When I reached the end and kissed her goodnight, I suddenly thought of Arlene Foster.

If the then First Minister had agreed to stand aside for a week or two (as Peter Robinson would probably have done; or, at least, have found a way of resolving the standoff) and allowed an initial inquiry to rummage through the BBC Spotlight allegations, I’m pretty sure she would still be First Minister today.

The Assembly and Executive wouldn’t have collapsed. There would have been no throwaway lines about crocodiles and Sinn Féin wouldn’t have been able to galvanize and mobilize an angry Republican/Nationalist electorate. There wouldn’t have been an early election and Unionists would still have an overall majority; with the DUP still able to wield the petition of concern on any and every issue. Northern Ireland wouldn’t be as polarized and unsettled as it has become.

There wouldn’t have been 10 months of impasse. Mike Nesbitt would still be leader of the UUP. It’s possible, in the absence of the increasingly toxic relationship between Unionists and Republicans before and after the Assembly election, that the UUP and SDLP wouldn’t have lost all their parliamentary seats in June. The political debate would not have been dominated by Sinn Féin’s ‘rights’ agenda; and the Irish language issue wouldn’t really be registering as a make-or-break problem.

We wouldn’t be facing a long period of direct rule. Public confidence in the assembly wouldn’t be at its lowest ever ebb. And, ‘Is the assembly actually worth preserving?’ wouldn’t have become the most asked question in pubs, at water coolers and across dining tables.

All of this mess because Arlene Foster wouldn’t step aside. There could, of course, be more mess to come. If Sinn Féin remains of the opinion that James Brokenshire’s decision to legislate for a budget means – as John O’Dowd said on last week’s The View – “this present process is over”, then it could take a while before another talks process is established. And if that is the case, then it’s a pretty sure bet that Sinn Féin won’t be in the mood for compromises from their side.

Similarly, Unionism generally and the DUP in particular isn’t going to be happy if Foster’s stubbornness (some call it pride) leads to the collapse of devolution. They may not love power sharing with Sinn Féin, but they also know that direct rule has rarely done any favours for Unionism. They know, too, that the deal the DUP has with Theresa May does not carry any guarantee that her government – assuming, of course, she hangs on – would take sides with them against Sinn Féin and risk the implosion of the entire political/institutional process. And while Foster will be keen to boast of the importance of the DUP in the Commons at the moment (expect at least one big name at their annual conference in a few weeks), she won’t want to tell her party that she has crashed Stormont.

So yes, her refusal to stand aside led to a veritable avalanche of unexpected, unintended consequences. But – and it’s an important but – I suspect that those consequences were coming down the line at some point, anyway. The sheer despair and anger in Martin McGuinness’s resignation letter last January (the one in which he finally blew the lid on the nature of the relationship between the DUP and Sinn Féin) wasn’t actually anything new. Some of us had been writing about it for years. But its publication blew away the manufactured, self-serving fiction that “we actually get on very well together”.

In essence, all her refusal to stand aside for a while did was hasten the point at which we all begin to accept that the present process cannot work. We have tested, tested again and then retested the process since 1998; yet every attempt ends in a new crisis and a mountain of fudge. Sinn Féin was clearly uncomfortable with Foster. RHI provided the opportunity to embarrass her and the competence of her colleagues and advisers. Her refusal to stand aside (and they couldn’t take it for granted that she wouldn’t) gave them an unexpected opportunity to up the ante, bring down the Executive and push their own agenda.

We are where we are. We are where we were always going to be.

All the pretences and sleights-of-hand and cosmetics have been rendered worthless. We’re back at base camp, with the unclimbed mountain still there; still unconquered.

As I keep saying, politics here is heading to a very, very bad place.

The Hibernian by Martin Corey Proud Hibernian

Posted by Jim on November 9, 2017

The Hibernian

He or She is proudly an Hibernian
He or She proudly wears the green
Like his or her father did before.
He or she is proud to let it be seen.

For whether he or she is young or old
Irish born or of descent
When the pride takes hold
It’s Ireland, proud to represent.

They call it the land of winter
But to him/her it’s full of warmth
For each visit it gets better
Full of the Craic and the charm.

It’s the heart of an Irish Nation
That history made borderless
With The Famine and Starvation
Emigration and British oppress.

But its heart, it is still beating
More proudly and stronger than ever
And at the hall of the Hibernian meeting declares ‘Ireland Free,Pro-Life and Gaelic Forever’.

Martin Corey
Proud Hibernian

The PSNI is not representative of society – and that’s a big problem

Posted by Jim on November 8, 2017

“The fact that the police don’t represent society and that its senior officers are overwhelmingly Unionist [Loyalist/Protestant] accounts for the PSNI’s hostility.”

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. November 8, 2017

How do you solve a problem like the PSNI? Seventeen years ago, it emerged as a bright shiny new police service – service, not force – civilians in uniform.

Hopes were high that with unprecedented transparency, accountability and a 50-50 recruitment policy it would develop to be representative of society in The North.

Let’s be clear about this. No one wanted a reliable, impartial, effective, representative police service more than northern Nationalists. They’d never had one. They still haven’t.

The bad news is that all indications are the PSNI isn’t going to become representative of society, isn’t on track to be, and because of that hasn’t managed to treat nationalists or manifestations of nationalism impartially. We’ll come back to that later.

The biggest blow to preventing a representative police service emerging was the success of Unionists in stopping 50-50 recruitment. Unionists [Loyalists/Protestants] don’t want a representative police service, never have, and have worked consistently to prevent one. In one of the many stupid decisions he made, the then proconsul [Northern Ireland Secretary of State] Owen Paterson, a caricature English blowhard about ‘Ahland’[Ireland], mollified his DUP sycophants and abolished 50-50 recruiting in 2011. Of all actions, that one, vindicated Gerry Adams’s description of him as a ‘complete tube’.

In 2015 there were 400 new recruits to the PSNI. Seventy-seven of them were Catholic -19 per cent. Bit of a drop from 50-50 eh? About 200 police leave every year. Increasingly the majority of them is Catholic. Soon we’ll be getting down to around 25 per cent Catholics in the PSNI. Not good. At senior level, it’s far, far worse. You might have read here last year that of the 7,500 or so full-time and part-time officers about 500 were of the rank of inspector or above. Only ninety-two of those were Catholic, probably fewer now. That means about one per cent of the PSNI of the rank of inspector, or above, is Catholic. What’s being done about this disparity? Nothing.

Outside the PSNI in the real world, the Equality Commission requires affirmative action to change that state of affairs. Not in the PSNI. That’s clear neglect by the Department of Justice and NIO but then what would you expect? No nationalists involved. Sinn Féin silent.

The PSNI doesn’t look like The North. The majority of children in school is Catholic. In third level education, 47 per cent of students are Catholic, 30 per cent Protestant and the rest other denominations.

Yet in the PSNI, 75 per cent aremanifestations of Nationalism compared to appeasement of Loyalist manifestations. One example will suffice.

You might have noticed a mild letter in this paper last Friday from a Tyrone GAA fan. He pointed out that after Tyrone won their third All-Ireland in 2008 the cavalcade from Dublin went up through Monaghan where the Gardaí turned out in light-hearted mood wearing false beards, like many of the Tyrone team that year, and waved them on. As the writer said in a telling phrase, when the team crossed the border ‘into OUR OWN COUNTY’, the PSNI stopped the cavalcade to check for tax discs. Utterly disgraceful given the day that was in it. When the difference in the behavior of the Gardaí celebrating the historic win was pointed out, the PSNI threatened to arrest the complainant. Welcome home with Sam Maguire.

In Mid-Ulster where that GAA cavalcade was headed, 66 per cent of the population are Catholic and massively supportive of the GAA. If there’d been a senior Catholic PSNI officer in charge when the winning team entered their own county the reaction may have been different. Maybe not, but that’s another story. The important point is that police behavior that night was not an isolated incident. There are numerous examples of hostile behavior towards people and players attending GAA matches.

In the last week, there’s been a lot of debate about the GAA and the PSNI. There are two sides to the story.

Loughinisland relative slams PSNI response to film

Posted by Jim on November 7, 2017

Emma Rogan, MLA.
 
Connla Young.Irish News. Belfast. Monday, November 6, 2017
 
 THE daughter of a man killed in the Loughinisland massacre has strongly criticised the PSNI after it requested an investigation into how sensitive documents came to be used in the film No Stone Unturned.

The documentary, due for general release this Friday, named three people suspected of involvement in the UVF gun attack that claimed lives of six innocent men as they watched the Republic of Ireland play a World Cup match in a bar in June 1994.

It also claimed that the wife of one of the suspected gunmen gave his name to police shortly after the massacre.

The man, Ronald Hawthorne, was arrested after the attack but has never been charged.

The film by Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney also alleges that during an interrogation of Hawthorne an officer tried to convince him to kill a prominent republican.

It comes after a Police Ombudsman’s report published in June last year identified “catastrophic failings” in the RUC investigation and found that collusion was a significant feature in the murders.

In a statement issued last week, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin acknowledged the “hurt and anger” felt by families and said police remain “firmly committed” to apprehending those responsible for the attack and will be reviewing the documentary.

However, he added that police were aware that sensitive documents thought to originate from the Police Ombudsman’s Office are suspected to have been used in the film.

He said Durham police are already investigating how a solicitor’s firm obtained separate documents from the ombudsman’s office.

“While there is nothing to suggest these matters are linked, the PSNI has requested that the existing investigation is extended to include this recent suspected theft of sensitive material,” he said.

The film makes clear that the Loughinisland documents were posted to the filmmakers unsolicited.

Last night Sinn Féin MLA Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian Rogan was killed, slammed the PSNI response.

“Six men are dead and families still devastated but they want to go after a document,” she said.

“A document that’s in a film that gives the families the truth.

“How dare they distract from their responsibilities to us and all the other families.”

Ms Rogan described the PSNI’s response as “cruel”.

“The families’ first concern is for the perpetrators to be brought to justice,” she said.

“But the PSNI statement provides us with a cruel insight into their priorities.

“Their only investigative action arising from the film, and the work of journalist and lawyers to expose the truth, is an allegation of theft against the film makers.

“It’s stunning and disgraceful in equal measure.”

The PSNI could not be contacted last night for comment

Campbell extradition hearing proceeds; Corry returns home

Posted by Jim on October 30, 2017

Campbell extradition hearing proceeds; Corry returns home Continue reading »

DUP is finding it difficult to accept NI no longer ‘a Protestant state’

Posted by Jim on

Adams: the DUP is finding it difficult to accept NI no longer ‘a Protestant state’

Gerry Adams has said the DUP is struggling to reach a compromise with his party because Unionist leaders once boasted of having “a Protestant parliament for a Protestant state”.

 Suzanne Breen. Belfast Telegraph.Friday, October 27, 2017.

Gerry Adams has said the DUP is struggling to reach a compromise with his party because unionist leaders once boasted of having “a Protestant parliament for a Protestant state”.


Speaking in Armagh last night, the Sinn Fein president insisted his party was committed to making the ongoing negotiations work and to restoring power-sharing at Stormont.

But he claimed the British Government had “no investment” in the talks process and “no affinity with it”. He also accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of trying to “wash his hands of the North” and said it felt like “John Bruton was back in office”.

Mr Adams claimed he didn’t know if the current talks would succeed but he stressed that his party’s Northern leader Michelle O’Neill was committed to making them work.

The Sinn Fein president said the political impasse could be overcome only by the DUP and his party working together.

“That will present many challenges for us. It also presents problems for the DUP leadership,” he said.

“What we need to do collectively is to accept that a rights-based society is in everyone’s interest. Moving to that position given that their leaders used to boast that they had a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state, is very difficult for political unionism.

“But on the other hand it is self-evident that this is no longer a Protestant state. And the notion of a Protestant parliament should never have been acceptable. No thoughtful unionist really believes that this would ever be acceptable in these modern times.”

Mr Adams added that Arlene Foster’s party must recognise “that they can only be in political office on the basis of a modern political dispensation bedded in equality and fairness”.

He continued: “In other words, they have to treat the rest of us as equals and we have to treat them as equals. Is the DUP leadership up for this? We will know soon enough.”

Turning to London, Mr Adams said: “For their part, this British Government has no investment in the process, and no affinity with it. It is beset with its own difficulties and is only in power with DUP support.”

He claimed Secretary of State James Brokenshire had been “less than helpful”. Brexit was “a disaster” for everyone in Ireland including “unionist business people and farmers who must be appalled by the DUP leadership’s attitude and their disrespect for the vote of the people”.

With Leo Varadkar increasingly attacking his party in the Dail, Mr Adams said the Taoiseach shouldn’t think rivalry between Fine Gael and Sinn Fein was more important than the process to restore devolution.

“It is not. He must rise above this. It is crucial that he makes the North a priority, not just because of Brexit… but because of the obligations and responsibilities of his office,” the Sinn Fein president said.

He maintained that Mr Varadkar could play a meaningful role in efforts to restore the institutions.

“If he has the political will, he clearly has the ability and will get huge public support for efforts to persuade the British to fulfil their obligations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MP Elisha McCallion has slammed Mr Brokenshire for refusing to meet the Joint Oireachtas Good Friday Implementation Committee several times.

“This comes alongside his refusal to meet with groups from the Irish language sector. Mr Brokenshire has no such problems when meeting groups like the Orange Order,” she said. “The failure by the British Government to act with rigorous impartiality as required by the Good Friday Agreement has contributed to the current political crisis.”

The Northern Ireland Office didn’t respond to a request for comment

Dublin refuses to recognise Catalonia’s independence

Posted by Jim on October 28, 2017

Dublin refuses to recognise Catalonia’s independence

The 26 County state has said it will not recognise Catalonia’s
declaration of independence from Spain, according to the Department of
Foreign Affairs in Dublin.

“The resolution of the current crisis needs to be within Spain’s
constitutional framework and through Spain’s democratic institutions,”
it said.

However, in Scotland, the Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs, Fiona
Hyslop said the people of Catalonia “must have the ability to determine
their own future.”

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams TD described the declaration of
independence as a “historic step” towards Catalan statehood, and
expressed his solidarity with the people.

“The right to self-determination is a corner stone of international law
and this declaration must be respected,” he said. “I believe it is now
incumbent on the Spanish government to agree an internationally mediated
process on the way forward. That is what the Catalan government have
offered. That goodwill must be reciprocated.

“It is time for the Spanish government to seize the opportunity for
dialogue. I would encourage the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to urgently press
for this process with the Spanish Prime Minister.”

However, neither the Taoiseach nor the Irish President, Michael D.
Higgins, have issued statements on the situation.

In dramatic scenes yesterday, a motion to declare independence was
approved by the 135-member Catalan parliament, with 70 votes in favor.
Opposition lawmakers walked out of the chamber in protest ahead of the
vote.

After the vote officials and lawmakers cried “Llibertat! [Freedom]”.

An emotional President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont called on his
people to remain peaceful. “In the days ahead we must keep to our values
of pacifism and dignity. It’s in our, in your hands, to build the
republic,” he said.

Outside parliament, thousands who had gathered cheered the news, some
dancing and raising a toast. In Barcelona, people crowded around TV sets
to watch the historic events unfold.

The Sant Jaume Square outside the government office was packed with
thousands of people celebrating. Many were draped with the “Estelada”
flag that adds a blue triangle to the red and yellow Catalan flag and
has become a symbol of the separatist struggle.

“I feel so emotional after the huge fight we went through, we finally
got it,” said Rosalina Cordera Torelles. Another woman said she was
relieved. “Now we are Catalan at last,” said Rita Carboneras. “We can be
ourselves.”

But despite the referendum and declaration of independence, the
government in Madrid still claims to still rule over Catalonia. Both it
and Spain’s Constitutional Court have insisted the declaration is
“illegal” under Spanish law.

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said it was a move that “not only goes against
the law but is a criminal act.” He declared he was “sacking” the head of
the Catalan regional police and shutting down the Catalan government’s
overseas offices. A spokesman for Spain’s prosecutor’s office said it
would bring charges of “rebellion” against prominent Catalans.

In Ireland, a variety of protests and events are being organised in
support of Catalania, with the involvement of Sinn Fein, the 1916
Societies and People before Profit.

People before Profit said it would be submitting a motion to Dublin City
Council calling for recognition.

Ahead of Friday’s declaration, republican members of Derry City and
Strabane District Council united to formally back Catalan independence.

A proposal by Sinn Fein Councillor Caoimhe McKnight that the council
writes to the British and Irish governments asking them to formally
recognise the democratic outcome of the Catalan independence referendum,
was backed by all republican councillors.

Independent republican councillor Paul Gallagher, wearing a T-shirt
bearing the Estelada flag, hailed the Catalan people’s discipline and
courage and expressed concern Spain might move to establish “tyranny” in
the region in defiance of the democratic wishes of the people there.

Cllr McKnight said the motion demonstrated solidarity with the people of
Catalonia, who in turning out to vote in their independence referendum,
in spite of a “full-frontal attack by the Spanish authorities”, had been
“inspirational”

WTC LODD Active Member FF Robert M. Tilearcio  Engine Company 266

Posted by Jim on October 27, 2017

An Official Communication
from the Uniformed Firefighters October 25th
WTC LODD
Active Member
FF Robert M. Tilearcio
Engine Company 266
 

 

Wake:
Friday, October 27th, 2017

Massapequa Funeral Home, Inc.

South Chapel

4980 Merrick Road

Massapequa, NY 11762

516 882-8200

2 pm – 4 pm

7 pm – 9 pm

Funeral:

Saturday, October 28th – 10:00 am

St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church

2 Bayview Avenue

Massapequa, NY 11758

 

Internment

St. Charles Cemetery

Farmingdale, NY

All Off-Duty Members should attend in Class A Uniform.

Sectarianism should be defined as a hate crime

Posted by Jim on October 26, 2017

Jim Gibney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday , October 25, 2017

HOW do you spot sectarianism, I asked myself as I read Sinn Féin’s One Community document which the party will debate at its Ard Fheis in a few weeks’ time and its campaign literature on the same theme #SUAS (Stand Up Against Sectarianism), which it launched a few weeks ago?

I remember a few years ago coming out of the lift on the top floor of the assembly and bumping into the north’s deputy first minster, Martin McGuinness, who was red in the face and clearly in a reflective and rushed mood.

I asked him how he was. He said it is difficult when you are dealing with bigots as he disappeared into the lift. He had just left a meeting with the DUP.

I stood beneath the large chimney pot towering over the yard of ‘C’ and ‘D’ wings in Crumlin Road jail. It was the spring of 1977.

I watched lads in their late teens and early twenties ‘bouling round the yard’, chattering away and animated, as young men are when they are together. You would think they were on a social outing.

In fact, many were walking a tightrope: balancing very grave matters indeed. Many of them would spend the best years of their young lives in jail – on the basis of forced statements usually composed by their RUC assailants.

Judges, educated in some of Ireland and Britain’s most prestigious universities, with trained minds to spot police brutality and injustice, dished out cruel justice that ruined lives.

I was 16. I was in competition with another 16-year-old for a plum job as an apprentice electrician. It was touch and go.

I was asked what school I went to. The other lad, a Protestant, got the job.

In the mid-1970s the Workers’ Party ran a poster campaign: ‘Sectarianism Kills Workers’.

In May 1975 I stood in Richard ‘Oatesy’ McErlean’s parlour in Thompson Street in Belfast’s Short Strand/Ballymacarrett area.

Two of his sons, John and Thomas, lay in the parlour side-by-side in their coffins. They had been killed by the UVF as they played cards in the loyalist Mount Vernon estate having been lured to their death by a work colleague.

In a rally of thousands in the mid-1990s outside Belfast City Hall, organised by trade unionists, I shouted with scores of others, at the platform party for failing to mention the sectarian killing of Catholics by loyalists.

The march was against sectarianism.

The northern State was set up on the basis of a crude sectarian head-count. How many Protestants were needed to keep Catholics and their united Ireland aspiration at bay?

Historically the English administration fostered political sectarianism using Protestant colonists from Scotland and England to hold Ireland for the Crown.

You can usually see racism based on skin colour. You can see homophobia and misogyny because specific groups – gays and women – are the target.

Sectarianism in the north is insidious because it was a cornerstone of the state. It was state practised and all classes played their part in ‘keeping Catholics in their place’.

State-sponsored sectarianism is visible and invisible, crude, sophisticated and divisive.

It dictated employment, education, housing and voting rights. It demeans, demoralises and disempowers its victims.

That is why in Sinn Féin’s One Community document it argues for it to be defined legally as a ‘hate crime’.

Opposition to it is driven by the principles of equality and parity of esteem – the bedrock of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

This is the only acceptable basis on which the north’s administration can exist in the all-Ireland framework of the GFA.

The document argues for the all-Ireland institutions of the GFA and the councils to drive opposition to sectarianism and for sectarian awareness training for the police, trade unions, public sector workers and for children to be educated about it also.

It calls on the GAA, rugby, soccer and boxing organisations to promote anti- sectarianism similar to the high-profile campaigns they ran against racism and homophobia.

Important anti-sectarian work is ongoing in local communities, civic organisations, education, business, sport and faith groups and with foreign nationals.

Sectarianism not only kills, it poisons the mind and the society that tolerates it or pretends it does not exist.

It does exist but there is no acceptable level of sectarianism permissible.

Terence MacSwiney – Irish Martyr

Posted by Jim on October 25, 2017

One armed man cannot resist a multitude, nor one army conquer countless legions; but not all the armies of all the empires of earth can crush the spirit of one true man. And that one man will prevail. — Terence MacSwiney

Probably no man outside of Michael Collins was as responsible for getting England to agree to peace talks in 1921 as Terence MacSwiney, and he accomplished this without an act of violence. MacSwiney, like Ghandi some twenty years later, helped bring English rule in his country to an end by passive resistance; he refused to submit to English law, and by that simple act he brought the harsh glare of a worldwide spotlight to the injustice of England’s colonial regime.

MacSwiney was born in Cork city in 1879, he died on Oct. 25, 1920. He got a degree in philosophy from Royal University in 1907. As time went by, MacSwiney became more and more involved with the Republican movement, helping to form the Cork unit of the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and publishing a weekly paper called, Fianna Fáil (soldiers of destiny) in 1914. The paper was suppressed by the English after only eleven issues.

In Jan. 1916 he was jailed for making a seditious speech; he was jailed again later in that year and again in 1917. He was elected to the first Dáil Éireann in 1919 as the representative of Mid-Cork while his friend Tomás MacCurtain was elected Lord Mayor of Cork. On March 20, 1920, MacCurtain was murdered in his home by several disguised members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, one of whom was later shot dead by the IRA. MacSwiney was then elected Lord Mayor of Cork. Through all this time he had continued his work with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and was, in fact, commander of the Cork No. 1 Brigade of the IRA.

On August 12, 1920, MacSwiney and four other Cork IRA leaders, including Cork No. 2 commander, Liam Lynch, were captured by British. Incredibly, not recognizing the others they had captured, the English soon released them, but held on to MacSwiney. On the 16th, MacSwiney was court-martialed and sentenced to two years in prison. But MacSwiney had no intention of submitting to a legal system he believed had no standing in his country. When he was asked if he wished to address the court, he said, “I have decided that I shall be free alive or dead within the month, as I will take no food or drink for the period of my sentence.” Thus began the series of events that would burn the name of Terence MacSwiney deep into the heart of his native land, and contribute so much to the freeing of 26 of her counties. MacSwiney was wrong about one thing though, a month would not be long enough to decide the outcome of his hunger strike; it would continue for an inconceivable 74 days.

The British whisked MacSwiney away to Brixton prison in London, perhaps thinking that they could better control the publicity his hunger strike would generate if he was out of Ireland; they were sadly mistaken. He weakened quickly but hung on, day after day, with the story getting more and more coverage in newspapers around the world. British Prime Minister Lloyd George could ended it by releasing MacSwiney, but he refused; a decision that was fatal to both MacSwiney and England’s hopes of maintaining its stranglehold on all 32 counties in Ireland.

As more and more time went by, with MacSwiney somehow remaining alive, some in England began to speculate that Father Dominic, who was attending MacSwiney, must be smuggling food into him in his voluminous black beard. The government even had the contents of the basin MacSwiney used to clean his teeth sent to a lab for analysis. Prayers must have been offered by many in the English government that MacSwiney either die or end his hunger strike, but, please God, soon. He did neither, however, and soon longshoremen were threatening to strike in protest in New York, French and German papers were hailing his courage, and 30,000 Brazilians were demanding Papal intervention.

James Daly, Connaught Rangers, who was executed for his part in the “India Mutiny.”

MacSwiney lapsed into unconsciousness on the same day as the start of the trial of Kevin Barry, a young man whose name would become historically entwined in tragedy with MacSwiney. Barry, only 18, stood accused of murder in the death of a British soldier during an ambush in Dublin. Meanwhile, in India, Irishmen in England’s 88th Regiment of Foot, the Connaught Rangers, had mutinied, protesting the persecution of their families in Ireland by the very government they were serving; fourteen had been sentenced to death.

As the year of 1920 rolled toward its end, events and their own pigheaded intransigence were conspiring against British rule in Ireland . The tactics that had worked so well for them for so many centuries in Ireland and their other colonies — stripping the native population of all rights, intimidating the people of those lands by demonstrating the absolute power of life and death that they could wield over them with impunity — were no longer as effective. The increased scrutiny of the press was shining the light of truth on them and removing that impunity. Terence MacSwiney’s hunger strike drew continued and ever-growing focus on British oppression and brutality in Ireland.

At 5:40 A.M, Oct. 25, Terence MacSwiney’s body finally gave out and he died. His last words to a priest by his side were, “I want you to bear witness that I die as a soldier of the Irish Republic.” MacSwiney was hailed by people all over the world, even in the land of his oppressors. The Daily Telegraph in London wrote, “The Lord Mayor of Cork condemned himself to death for the sake of a cause in which he passionately believed, and it is impossible for men of decent instincts to think of such an act unmoved.” Irish Volunteers, wearing uniforms which were prohibited by English law, escorted his casket through London as thousands of Irish exiles lined the streets. They attempted to land MacSwiney’s body in Dublin and take it overland to Cork for burial, but British General Macready, fearing the certain outpouring of emotion along the route, sent the police and a force of Black and Tans to meet the boat and, after a scuffle on the docks, with MacSwiney’s sister, Annie, clinging to the coffin, the body was snatched away and loaded back onto the boat. MacSwiney was buried in Cork on the 29th.

Courtesy of Kilmainham Jail Museum
Young Kevin Barry, whose execution followed close on the heels of MacSwiney’s death.

Most observers, even in England, felt that after the outrage of the world at MacSwiney’s death, the government would never execute Kevin Barry. On Nov. 1, Barry was hung. The next day, in India, a Connaught Ranger, James Daly, was lined up and shot by a firing squad composed of fellow British soldiers. The English government had learned nothing from their actions in 1916, when they executed the leaders of the failed Easter Uprising and created martyrs that inspired future generations of Irish nationalists. With the deaths of Daly, Barry and MacSwiney, British officials had demonstrated to the world that the English government had only one answer to their colonial subjects who yearned for freedom — the same answer they had always given: brutal repression and executions.

The IRA had no hope of mobilizing an army large or well equipped enough to defeat one of the strongest armies in the world. Ireland’s only hope lay in making the world, especially America, see the justice of their cause and make it impossible for England to continue to tyrannize them. As hard and long as they fought, as much as they sacrificed, those in the IRA could not accomplish this. One man, Terence MacSwiney, with extraordinary determination and the moral courage of a man who knew he was right, accomplished more than the thousands carrying guns. – Joe Gannon

Inability to deal with past is one of peace process’s greatest failings

Posted by Jim on

Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, October19, 2017

The collapse of the Gary Haggarty ‘supergrass’ trial was a depressing end to a process that cost millions of pounds and caused an immeasurable amount of pain and suffering to the families of those murdered and targeted by the loyalist and his cohorts.
The inability to deal with the past is one of the great failings of the peace process and the Haggarty case a glaring example of that failing.
The de facto amnesty that ran for the early years after the signing of the peace accord made it appear as though the past was an easy issue to manage.
So relieved were we all that there was no sustained violence on the streets that for many years those families who never received any help, justice or recognition were forgotten about in the initial warm glow of peace.

They suffered quietly, silently and with great dignity. Many have since died of old age or broken hearts.

The emotional battering, the long-term, generational trauma victims’ families have endured should shame all those in authority.

Promising people justice when it’s impossible to deliver heaps trauma upon trauma. Leaving victims without answers, using them as a political negotiating tool and making them feel like a financial burden is an immoral way to end any conflict.

Haggarty was never going to be the answer to getting justice for the victims of the Mount Vernon UVF.

A low-life, murdering criminal of the worst possible character he was a dud witness. However, what the case did do was lay bare the activities of that particular group of loyalists and in turn the police officers that recruited them.

The 200 charges he pleaded guilty to, including five murders, and the 300 further offences taken into consideration paint a picture of a man who was involved in weekly and at times daily criminality.

And all while [ Haggarty was] working as an RUC Special Branch informer alongside Mark Haddock, another agent who led the ragtag gang of murderers, almost all of whom were in the pay of the State.

To use people like Haggarty as a prosecution witness is madness. Any defense barrister worth his wages would have torn his evidence apart.

Investigating murders during the Troubles was no easy job and the RUC detectives tasked with that worked in unique and dangerous circumstances.

But when the killer was sitting in the passenger side of a police officer’s car with his hand out waiting for a brown envelope of cash, well that would have made the job considerably easier and that is what the Haggarty case revealed.
Every murder carried out by the Mount Vernon UVF was arguably preventable given how infiltrated they were and completely solvable given how much information was available.

This week The Irish News carried an interview with the Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson, a woman who gets what is needed and who understands the issues and – like those who have lost – is frustrated by how little has been done to help those in need.

The people she deals with come from all walks of life, from those killed by members of the security forces in disputed circumstances to the widows of soldiers and police officers, murdered during the conflict.

Almost all – and this is important to emphasis in the current misreporting of the past – have been failed and denied justice.

The reality is few have any hope of their day in court. Evidence was not retained and as the Haggarty case demonstrated the only witnesses available are often those who were involved.

What Ms. Thompson did say is the victims she deals with want and need the truth and recognition of hurt, and that doesn’t need to take place in a courtroom.
And they deserve that. Whether their loved one was shot dead by loyalists or blown up by the IRA, murdered by a soldier or police officer or executed by a State informer, they all deserve to be given what information is available and apologized to for being failed.

Haggarty may have been an appalling witness but he did give thousands of pages of testimony during his time in custody. That testimony could give answers to his victims’ relatives. They deserve to see it and they deserve an apology for this shameful time in our history.

No deal, no political future for DUP leader

Posted by Jim on October 24, 2017

Patrick Murphy. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, October 21, 2017

If there is no deal on the return of Stormont, there would appear to be no political future for Arlene Foster.

Predicting politicians’ prospects is not an exact science, but it is difficult to see her surviving as DUP leader, unless she returns her party to a fully functioning executive.

It will make little difference to Michelle O’Neill whether Stormont returns or not because,  for Sinn Féin,  Stormont is an option. For the DUP it is a necessity, despite its influence in Westminster. So the outcome of the current talks will also significantly determine the political fortunes of the party and thus the future direction of Unionism.

So what does the future hold for Arlene, the DUP and Unionism in general? All three face a number of political challenges, but there does not appear to be a clear strategy to address them. While the Unionist bus has loads of passengers, no-one appears to be driving it.

Arlene Foster’s current problems come from two sources: history and her own behavior. History shows that post-partition Unionism is largely founded on a siege mentality, so a Unionist leader can easily be undermined by suggesting that he/she is conceding too much to a real or imaginary enemy.

It was a tactic first exploited by Ian Paisley, who drove Terence O’Neill from office in 1969 and ensured that every future Unionist leader became a prisoner of his/her own right wing. (That wing includes those who oppose Irish language legislation but sing in Irish on July 12: Lile ba léir é, ba linn an lá, meaning that the lily was theirs and they won the day.)

This siege mentality arose because in defending a self-invented politico-religious purity, Unionism failed to develop a broader political base beyond the issue of the State’s existence, particularly from 1922 to 1967. Arlene Foster is now a prisoner of that history.

But she has also contributed to her own problems. Although the DUP gained two extra Westminster seats in June, she presided over the loss of Stormont’s unionist majority in March. Her ill-judged “crocodiles” remark boosted Sinn Féin’s vote.

(She then attempted to defuse Nationalist concerns by visiting a convent school, a tactic also used by Terence O’Neill. But, like him, she merely antagonised her own supporters in yet another re-run of Unionist history.)

More damaging than her electoral performance has been her party’s record in ethics and probity in government. At least some of the RHI scandal appears to have been her responsibility and her failure to discipline Stormont speaker Robin Newton is disturbing, particularly since he is receiving £87,000 a year for a non-existent job.

Then there are the apparent links between some in her party and loyalist paramilitaries, an untenable position while loyalists are driving Catholics from their homes in Cantrell Close.

Political leaders need two skills: leadership and a sense of politics. Mrs. Foster has not impressed in either and she now faces a choice of two career evils. She can agree to a stand-alone Irish language act and lose the support of her party, or she can witness Stormont’s cold storage and lose the support her party.

A year ago this column confidently asserted that she was the most secure Unionist leader since Lord Brookeborough. She was, but she confused personal ability with political arrogance and lost the plot.

(That same column wondered why SF was not challenging Robin Newtown for failing to reveal his links to Charter NI, while using his position as speaker to prevent the SDLP from raising questions about it. How the fortunes of Sinn Féin and the DUP have changed since then.)

Only Sinn Féin can rescue Arlene now. Martin McGuinness might have, but Gerry Adams is unlikely to. Her only hope is that Sinn Féin might want Stormont’s return to influence the Brexit deal on The North, but there is little sign of that happening.

Unionism’s problem is that, for 100 years, its leaders failed to move its electorate away from the ‘not-an-inch’ philosophy. Mike Nesbitt tried and his party suffered the consequences. Arlene Foster did not try and may be about to personally suffer those same consequences.

It is too late for her to change now, but if her successor is not to repeat her same mistakes, he/she must re-position Unionism as outward looking and inclusive rather than defensive and divisive.

Sadly, there does not appear to be anyone in the DUP’s ranks who has suggested such a move and without a return to Stormont, the party is destined to curse the darkness rather than light a candle.

The DUP may be in the darkness for a while.

Black MSNBC host accused of racism towards Irish by AOH

Posted by Jim on

America’s largest Irish group, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, has slammed black MSNBC host Joy Reid for what they say were her racist comments about Irish Americans.

America’s largest Irish group, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, has slammed black MSNBC host Joy Reid for what they say were her racist comments about Irish Americans.Twitter

The Ancient Order of Hibernians claim that all Irish Americans are owed an apology.

America’s largest Irish group, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, has slammed black MSNBC host Joy Reid for what they say were her racist comments about Irish Americans.

Reid wrote on Twitter: “Kelly grew up in segregated Boston, in an Irish Catholic neighborhood where women were bullied, not honored, and blacks scorned & rejected.”

Reid made the comments about the Boston Irish after Boston native and White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly had criticized African American congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, who claimed President Trump had insulted the wife of a soldier killed in Niger during what was supposed to be  a consoling phone call. Kelly strongly defended the president.

Neil Cosgrave, the chairman of the AOH anti-defamation committee, slammed Reid and MSNBC saying, “It is hard to imagine that the scurrilous generalization of ‘Irish Catholic neighborhood(s)where women were bullied, not honored’ would not draw the outrage of MSNBC if the subject was any other than Irish Catholics and the commentator other than MSNBC’s own Joy Reid.

 

General John Kelly. Image: Public Domain.

General John Kelly. Image: Public Domain.

“We note with grim irony that in years past the Hibernians have drawn to the attention of MSNBC multiple instances of unambiguous bigotry for which no reference to a dictionary is required, merchandise with phrases such as ‘Everyone Loves a Drunk Irish Slut.’

“We wonder if Ms. Reid made such a sweeping disparaging generality replacing ‘Irish Catholic’ with any other ethnicity/religion would she not be immediately taken to task and denounced by MSNBC management.

Frederica Wilson.

Frederica Wilson.

“Racism is a serious charge, it should not be cheapened or use flippantly as a mere rhetorical device as has been done by Congresswoman Wilson without risk of blunting its inherent evilness. As to the hypocrisy of MSNBC backing up claims of racism while engaging in their own brand of bigotry, they owe all Irish Americans, and specifically those from Boston, an apology.”

Anti-Catholic Trump supporter says Catholicism is a cult

Posted by Jim on

An evangelical anti-Catholic and President Donald Trump supporter says Catholicism is a “cult-like pagan religion” and the religion’s spread is due to “the genius of Satan.”

Dr. Robert Jeffress got a massive endorsement for his new book via a twitter ‘shout out’ by the president. ”Great book just out, ‘A Place Called Heaven,’ by Dr. Robert Jeffress – A wonderful man!”

Trump’s “wonderful man,” has saved his worst hatred for Catholics. Rightwingwatch.org has an amazing transcript of Jeffress’ thoughts on Catholicism:

“This is the Babylonian mystery religion that spread like a cult throughout the entire world. The high priests of that fake religion, that false religion, the high priests of that religion would wear crowns that resemble the heads of fish, that was in order to worship the fish god Dagon, and on those crowns were written the words, ‘Keeper of the Bridge,’ the bridge between Satan and man.

“That phrase ‘Keeper of the Bridge,’ the Roman equivalent of it is Pontifex Maximus. It was a title that was first carried by the caesars and then the emperors and finally by the Bishop of the Rome, Pontifex Maximus, the Keeper of the Bridge.

“You can see where we’re going with this. It is that Babylonian mystery religion that infected the early church, one of the churches it infected was the church of Pergamos, which is one of the recipients of the Book of Revelation. And the early church was corrupted by this Babylonian mystery religion, and today the Roman Catholic Church is the result of that corruption.

“Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn’t come from God’s Word, it comes from that cult-like, pagan religion

Dr. Robert Jeffress. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Dr. Robert Jeffress. Photo: Gage Skidmore

“Isn’t that the genius of Satan? If you want to counterfeit a dollar bill, you don’t do it with purple paper and red ink, you’re not going to fool anybody with that. But if you want to counterfeit money, what you do is make it look closely related to the real thing as possible.

Most of this anti-Catholic jeremiad comes across as being from someone who himself is unhinged with bigotry or in Jeffress’ own words “a wacko.”

So, it may be news to all those Catholics who voted for Trump in 2016 by a 52-45 margin (white Catholics went all out for Trump 60-37) that their president is pals with a religious bigot who thinks that their religion is a “counterfeit religion.”

Next time you’re in your Catholic Church of choice, perhaps you should remember Galatians, 6:7: “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

Or, as they say at the Pottery Barn, “You broke it, you bought it.” You own Donald J. Trump, anti-Catholic President of the United States of America.

History of Irish Government post- Rising 1916

Posted by Jim on

Dáil Éireann (English: Assembly of Ireland) was the revolutionary, unicameral parliament of the unilaterally declared Irish Republic from 1919–1922. The Dáil was first formed by 73 Sinn Féin MPs elected in the 1918 United Kingdom general election. Their manifesto refused to recognise the British parliament at Westminster and chose instead to establish an independent legislature in Dublin. The convention of the First Dáil coincided with the beginning of the War of Independence.
The First Dáil was replaced by the Second Dáil in 1921. Both of these Dála existed under Irish law and it was the Second Dáil which narrowly ratified the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The status of the Third Dáil of 1922–1923 was different as it was also recognised by the British. It was elected under the terms of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty as a provisional parliament to pave the way for the creation of an independent Irish state. With the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, a new parliament called the Oireachtas was established, of which Dáil Éireann became the lower house.
First Dáil (1919–1921)
In the 1918 general election a large majority of 73 out of 105 representatives returned in Ireland were members of the Sinn Féin party. In accordance with their manifesto, these representatives gathered in the Mansion House on 21 January 1919 for the first meeting of new assembly called Dáil Éireann. Owing to many of its number being in prison, only 27 TDs (MPs) were able to attend. At its first meeting the Dáil issued a Declaration of Independence, declared itself the parliament of the Irish Republic and adopted a short constitution.
On the same day, but in unconnected circumstances, two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary were ambushed and killed by Irish Volunteers at Soloheadbeg in Tipperary, acting on their own initiative. In this way the Irish War of Independence began. Shortly afterwards the Irish Volunteers were renamed to the Irish Republican Army, a force nominally under the control of the Dáil. In August the Dáil was declared illegal by the British government and thereafter met only intermittently and in secret.
Second Dáil (1921–1922)
In May 1921, elections were called in Ireland to two new bodies established by the British government. These were the Parliaments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. These legislatures were brought into being by the 1920 Government of Ireland Act in a vain attempt to placate nationalists by granting Ireland a limited form of home rule. However, both parliaments were rejected and boycotted by Sinn Féin, who instead treated them as elections to Dáil Éireann.
The Second Dáil (made up of Sinn Féin members elected to the northern and southern parliaments envisaged by the British) met in August 1921 and in September it agreed to send envoys to negotiate a peace settlement with the British government. These envoys returned from England with the Anglo-Irish Treaty which, after prolonged and acrimonious debate, was narrowly ratified by the Dáil on 7 January 1922.
Third Dáil (1922–1923)
To implement the Anglo-Irish Treaty the Third Dáil was elected in September, 1922. This Dáil was not recognised under British law as Dáil Éireann but merely as a provisional assembly. Unlike previous Dála, the Third Dáil did not include members elected in Northern Ireland. The election was effectively a referendum on the Anglo-Irish Treaty in the southern partition of Ireland but the pro-treaty members of Sinn Féin won a majority of seats. After this result the anti-treaty faction refused to recognise the new British controlled assembly and the Irish Civil War followed shortly afterwards.
In October, acting as a constituent assembly under British Law, the Third Dáil ratified the Constitution of the Irish Free State. The new state was officially established in December and thereafter the Third Dáil served, not as a unicameral parliament, but rather as the lower house of new parliament called the Oireachtas. It was dissolved in August 1923.
Until the conclusion of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921 it was the mission of Dáil Éireann to create a parallel system of government in Ireland that would gain the allegiance of the public and eventually supplant the British state. Some success was achieved in this goal. For example the Dáil was able to persuade many Irish people to boycott the British judicial system and instead seek justice in a network of Dáil Courts. Nonetheless, the Irish Republic was not quite a true de facto state and received no support among the Unionist majority in North-East Ireland.
However, for its members the role of Dáil Éireann was symbolic as well as concrete. By winning the 1918 general election they were able to claim that the Dáil was the legitimate parliament of Ireland, and that from the Dáil they derived legal authority to wage war against British rule. This was not merely an abstract philosophical point. At this time many Irish people were devout Roman Catholics whose church taught that war was sinful unless waged by a legitimated authority and for a just cause. Part of the reason for convening Dáil Éireann was therefore to satisfy the requirements of Jus Ad Bellum and to make it easier to win the support of both clergymen and the general public. Despite this, the Catholic hierarchy was outspoken in its condemnation of the IRA during the war, although individual priests were supportive.
The Dáil Constitution adopted in 1919 was a brief, provisional document that placed few limitations on the power of the Dáil and could, in any case, be amended by a simple vote. Under the constitution the executive of the republic consisted of a cabinet led by an official called both the President of Dáil Éireann and the Príomh Aire. In 1921 the constitution was changed to rename this official President of the Republic and make him head of state.
At all times the Republic’s executive consisted of members of the Dáil and was theoretically answerable to it. The most important tasks of ministers were to command the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and, during 1921, to communicate and conduct negotiations with the British government. While notionally answerable to the cabinet, in practice individual IRA units enjoyed a high degree of autonomy.
After the election of the Third Dáil in 1922 the role of the Dáil changed substantially. Under the Anglo-Irish Treaty this body was intended to prepare the ground for the creation of an independent state called the Irish Free State. Powers were therefore progressively transferred to it from the British administration over a short period. The Third Dáil also had the role of acting as a “constituent assembly” to adopt the new Free State constitution.
The Irish Republic and its cabinet continued to exist right up until the Irish Free State came into force, though under British law the Third Dáil was charged with electing an executive called the “Provisional Government”. For a time, until they were effectively merged, this Provisional Government and the old republican administration existed side by side, with significant overlaps in membership.
Today the First and Second Dála continue to have symbolic importance for the most radical Irish republicans. The general election of 1918 was the last occasion on which a single general election occurred across the whole island of Ireland and is seen by these republicans as granting a mandate for violent resistance to British rule in Northern Ireland that is unextinguished even to this day.
Because the Third Dáil and its successors have not been elected on an all-Ireland basis, in republican ideology they have not been legitimate. In this view, the Second Dáil has never been dissolved and those (minority) of members of the Second Dáil who rejected the Anglo-Irish Treaty have granted the group that is today the Provisional IRA explicit authorisation for its campaign. Its breakaway fragments continue to hold this view, even though the main body is on ceasefire. Opinion polls have shown that the majority of the population of the Republic of Ireland reject this view.
The Constitution of Ireland, adopted in 1937, established the modern Irish state, referred to today as Ireland. Under the constitution a new legislature retained the title Oireachtas, and its lower house remained Dáil Éireann. The first Dáil to meet under the Constitution of Ireland was described as the Ninth Dáil.

No deal, no political future for DUP leader

Posted by Jim on October 22, 2017


Patrick Murphy. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, October 21, 2017 

If there is no deal on the return of Stormont, there would appear to be no political future for Arlene Foster.

Predicting politicians’ prospects is not an exact science, but it is difficult to see her surviving as DUP leader, unless she returns her party to a fully functioning executive.

It will make little difference to Michelle O’Neill whether Stormont returns or not because,  for Sinn Féin,  Stormont is an option. For the DUP it is a necessity, despite its influence in Westminster. So the outcome of the current talks will also significantly determine the political fortunes of the party and thus the future direction of Unionism.

So what does the future hold for Arlene, the DUP and Unionism in general? All three face a number of political challenges, but there does not appear to be a clear strategy to address them. While the Unionist bus has loads of passengers, no-one appears to be driving it.

Arlene Foster’s current problems come from two sources: history and her own behavior. History shows that post-partition Unionism is largely founded on a siege mentality, so a Unionist leader can easily be undermined by suggesting that he/she is conceding too much to a real or imaginary enemy.

It was a tactic first exploited by Ian Paisley, who drove Terence O’Neill from office in 1969 and ensured that every future Unionist leader became a prisoner of his/her own right wing. (That wing includes those who oppose Irish language legislation but sing in Irish on July 12: Lile ba léir é, ba linn an lá, meaning that the lily was theirs and they won the day.)

This siege mentality arose because in defending a self-invented politico-religious purity, Unionism failed to develop a broader political base beyond the issue of the State’s existence, particularly from 1922 to 1967. Arlene Foster is now a prisoner of that history.

But she has also contributed to her own problems. Although the DUP gained two extra Westminster seats in June, she presided over the loss of Stormont’s unionist majority in March. Her ill-judged “crocodiles” remark boosted Sinn Féin’s vote.

(She then attempted to defuse Nationalist concerns by visiting a convent school, a tactic also used by Terence O’Neill. But, like him, she merely antagonised her own supporters in yet another re-run of Unionist history.)

More damaging than her electoral performance has been her party’s record in ethics and probity in government. At least some of the RHI scandal appears to have been her responsibility and her failure to discipline Stormont speaker Robin Newton is disturbing, particularly since he is receiving £87,000 a year for a non-existent job.

Then there are the apparent links between some in her party and loyalist paramilitaries, an untenable position while loyalists are driving Catholics from their homes in Cantrell Close.

Political leaders need two skills: leadership and a sense of politics. Mrs. Foster has not impressed in either and she now faces a choice of two career evils. She can agree to a stand-alone Irish language act and lose the support of her party, or she can witness Stormont’s cold storage and lose the support her party.

A year ago this column confidently asserted that she was the most secure Unionist leader since Lord Brookeborough. She was, but she confused personal ability with political arrogance and lost the plot.

(That same column wondered why SF was not challenging Robin Newtown for failing to reveal his links to Charter NI, while using his position as speaker to prevent the SDLP from raising questions about it. How the fortunes of Sinn Féin and the DUP have changed since then.)

Only Sinn Féin can rescue Arlene now. Martin McGuinness might have, but Gerry Adams is unlikely to. Her only hope is that Sinn Féin might want Stormont’s return to influence the Brexit deal on The North, but there is little sign of that happening.

Unionism’s problem is that, for 100 years, its leaders failed to move its electorate away from the ‘not-an-inch’ philosophy. Mike Nesbitt tried and his party suffered the consequences. Arlene Foster did not try and may be about to personally suffer those same consequences.

It is too late for her to change now, but if her successor is not to repeat her same mistakes, he/she must re-position Unionism as outward looking and inclusive rather than defensive and divisive.

Sadly, there does not appear to be anyone in the DUP’s ranks who has suggested such a move and without a return to Stormont, the party is destined to curse the darkness rather than light a candle.

The DUP may be in the darkness for a while.

Sinn Fein facing potential split

Posted by Jim on October 7, 2017

Sinn Fein could be facing a damaging split over its internal party
management, according to reports. A number of rows and expulsions in
recent months has seen some members already link up in a potential new
national structure.

Meetings of those angry at the party over alleged bullying, control and
marginalisation are believed to be already underway.

Between 30 and 40 people are said to have turned up at one meeting in
Waterford to share grievances. The meeting, organised by Melissa
O’Neill, a councillor who was expelled from Sinn Fein last December,
agreed to form ‘support hubs’ in towns around the country. Meetings have
been planned in Athlone, Tipperary and Limerick.

The prospect of setting up a rival republican party to Sinn Fein was not
ruled out, according to Ms O’Neill. She said dozens of members and
former members attended who felt disrespected or disenfranchised from
the party.

There have long been accusations of a clique in the Sinn Fein leadership
expelling or marginalising individual activists using a tactic known as
“the big shaft”. Management processes have been described as dictatorial
and intimidating, with the goal of isolating and removing any potential
challenge or dissent.

There have been not yet been allegations of a political motivation, but
some have drawn comparisons to the Provisional IRA’s so-called “nutting
squad”, which maintained PIRA discipline during the conflict.

Last month, three Wicklow councillors were expelled from Sinn Fein after
they challenged the party in a dispute over internal leadership roles.
Lisa Marie Sheehy, who was Sinn Fein’s youngest councillor, also
resigned from the party last month, claiming she had been “undermined,
bullied and humiliated”.

Sinn Fein has repeatedly denied that there is a culture of bullying
within the party. But internal disputes which previously took place
behind closed doors have become more public.

Sinn Fein housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin denied there was a culture
of bullying within the party.

He said there were “some people who went into the role of elected
representatives and found it was much more difficult that they
originally thought,” he said.

“We also have really good republicans, really long-standing republicans
who for very long periods of time were the only Shinner in the village.
Now that the party has grown, and there are younger people there, they
are finding it difficult to adjust.”

But one councillor who left the party in County Cork said that the party
had been routinely trying to replace established party figures with more
biddable people. Cork East councillor June Murphy said the “reason they
pick them so young is because they’re perfect for grooming”.

Melissa O’Neill claimed she was aware of hundreds of Sinn Fein people,
young and old, who are not happy with the party structures but were
fearful of speaking out.

“We don’t want anyone to go through what we went through,” she said.
“The sense of the weight of the world off their shoulders, the energy in
the room of a psychological sense of relief, after being gagged for so
long. The people leaving that room were different to the ones that came
in. We all felt it.”

Tara Reynor O’Grady, a human rights campaigner who was expelled from
Sinn Fein in June, said people felt “emancipated” as a result of the
meeting. “There was a sense of encouragement, and a tremendous
conviction that they were justified in their grievance,” she said.

The management and control problems have been picked on by Sinn Fein’s
opponents recently as a reason to rule out the possibility of a
coalition with the party. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has
described Sinn Fein as “a cult”, while Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar
suggested Sinn Fein politicians were only allowed to deliver
pre-prepared texts in parliament.

The party is expected to address the matter at its Ard Fheis [annual
conference] in November.

Hamilton admits UVF behind shared-space intimidation

Posted by Jim on

The PSNI has been forced to admit unionist paramilitaries were behind
threats which caused four Catholic families to flee their south Belfast
homes.

After coming under pressure over the force’s non-committal response to
the intimidation, PSNI chief George Hamilton finally pointed the finger
at the UVF murder gang this week.

“There are people using the guise of the UVF who we believe are members
of that organisation who are threatening people because of their
community background, because of their religion, to leave their home –
that is not acceptable,” he said.

Although Mr Hamilton said was not sure if the threats were supported by
the leadership of the UVF, which he described as “chaotic and
disorganised”, or if they were made by individual members, when
challenged outright if it was the UVF, he finally replied: “Yes.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly, the party’s policing spokesman, vowed to
pressure the PSNI to bring individuals before the courts.

“It is 2017 and the UVF continues to be involved in murder,
racketeering, extortion, drug dealing and issuing sectarian threats,” he
said. “They have no other purpose than to serve their own ends.”

While sectarian intimidation remains common in the north of Ireland —
five Catholic families were recently burned out of the mainly Protestant
Waterside area of Derry — the Cantrell Close and Global Crescent
estates had been promoted as a cross-community ‘shared space’.

Despite efforts to hold up the development as an example for shared
living, loyalist paramilitaries had always sought to claim them as part
of their territory.

The attribution of blame by the PSNI comes after mounting pressure on
the force to confront unionist paramilitaries.

Their hands-off approach has been sharp contrasted by their harassment
of republicans, which has led to protests in nationalist areas. This
week, four men and a woman appeared in court charged with holding an
“unnotified procession” in connection with an Easter Rising
commemoration in Lurgan.

There is also little nationalist confidence in a new panel which began
work this week to monitor efforts to “stamp out” loyalist paramilitaries
and IRA groups. Set up as a result of a 2015 talks agreement, the
‘Independent Reporting Commission’ will report annually on progress to
the London and Dublin governments and will take over the role of the
former MI5-linked ‘Independent Monitoring Commission’.

The four IRC members are former US special envoy to the North of Ireland
Mitchell Reiss, ex-human rights commissioner and political leader Monica
McWilliams, lawyer John McBurney and former Irish diplomat Tim O’Connor.

Mr Reiss said he was grateful for the opportunity to again play a role
in the North of Ireland. “I hope the commission’s initiatives will help
to bring about the continued transformation envisioned by the British
and Irish governments, the local political parties and the citizens of
the North of Ireland,” he said.

“Northern Ireland is British” – so mind what you say

Posted by Jim on

by Jude Collins (judecollins.com)

 

Oh dear. Was that another crocodile moment? As you probably know by now,
the potential First Minister Arlene Foster clashed with the potential
Deputy First Minister at the Tory party knees-up. Michelle was asked if
an Irish Language Act would make the north less British, to which she
replied “The north isn’t British”. Arlene, alert to insult even at
breakfast time, quickly told her “I don’t want this to turn into a row,
but Northern Ireland is British.” They can’t both be right. Which is?

It all depends on what you mean by saying our North-East Nest is
British. Arlene is right that this part of Ireland, while it has
devolved government, is ultimately controlled by Britain. So if you’re
saying “Who wields power in the NEN?” then the answer is Britain. No
ifs or buts. They haven’t gone away, you know.

But if you’re talking about the people here (remember how John Hume used
to say that the border was about people, not territory?) then while by a
small percentage the majority here regard themselves as British, a very
large (and growing) minority do not see themselves as British. Never
have, never will. Maybe if we apply the criterion offered by poor
deluded Maggie Thatcher and ask “Is the north as British as Finchley?”
the thing becomes clearer. Of course we’re not.

There are a number of interesting things about the exchange between the
two women. As UUP leader Robin Swann noted, Michelle’s comment “sucked
the atmosphere out of the room” – that short exchange is what the
question-and-answer session was reduced to. And as Swann also pointed
out, Michelle’s comment may have been deliberate. It could well have
been dangled to see if the DUP leader had shuffled away from her famous
and revealing crocodile comment. If that was the case, Arlene certainly
took the bait.

But the little introductory clause used by Arlene – “I don’t want this
to turn into a row” – is perhaps even more significant. She clearly felt
that Michelle shouldn’t have said our NEN wasn’t British, and if she did
there could be a row. Say you don’t consider this part of Ireland
British and you’re likely to provoke anger or at least heated dispute
from unionist politicians.

That’s the part that jars with me. No one is asking Arlene or any
unionist politician to deny that our NEN is British. Certainly Michelle
wasn’t. What is important is that nationalists and republicans should
have the right to express their views on the nature of the north. But
if a row is possibly going to break out any time a
republican/nationalist expresses the view that our NEN is really part of
Ireland, not Britain, we’re back just about where we started. Behind
Arlene’s correction lies an implication: taigs may be tolerated about
the place these days but they better mind what they say to those who run
the colony.

NATIONAL FALLEN FIREFIGHTERS MEMORIAL DAY

Posted by Jim on October 6, 2017

Sunday, October 8th is National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day.

On this day, it is appropriate to fly your American flag at half-staff from sunrise to sunset.

This year at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service, 95 fallen firefighters will be honored.

How to properly fly your flag at half-staff.

When raising the flag to half-staff on a vertical pole, always raise it briskly to the top of the flagpole for a moment before lowering it.

When taking it down for the night, raise it to the top of the flagpole again & lower it to the bottom.

With a telescoping flag pole it is acceptable to put the USA flag on the second set of rings instead of the top set. In this case the top set would be left empty.

When the United States flag is flown at half-staff, State & other flags should be removed of flown at half-staff too.

What if you can’t lower your flag?
For flags that can’t be lowered, such as those on many homes, the American Legion says that attaching a black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag is an acceptable alternative. The ribbon should be the same width as a stripe on the flag and the same length as the flag.

An Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on October 5, 2017

October 5th

ORGAN DONOR ENROLLMENT
The Department for Citywide Administrative Services and LiveOnNY have joined forces for Organ Donor Enrollment beginning on October 4, 2017. Currently New York has the lowest percentage of residents registered as organ donors in the nation – and every 18 hours a New Yorker dies waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.  Help save the lives of 10,000 New Yorkers in need of a transplant every day by signing up for the New York State Donate Life Registry at www.donatelifeny.org.

HISPANIC HERITAGE CELEBRATION
On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, a Hispanic Heritage Celebration will be held in the Auditorium at 9 Metrotech, hosted by the Hispanic Heritage Society and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.  All are welcome to attend. Come celebrate with your fellow employees, enjoy live music and great food!  Donations of non-perishable items to the Relief efforts in Mexico and Puerto Rico are welcome. To RSVP, please email diversity.inclusion@fdny.nyc.gov.

KING OF THE WHEELS 2017
The 9th annual King of the Wheels Roller Hockey Tournament will be held from November 6th to November 17th, at Skate Safe America in Old Bethpage.  The tournament flyer and application can be found online at www.fdnyhockey.org.  All applications must be submitted with payment by October 21st.  The tournament schedule will be posted shortly after the application deadline.  For any further information, or questions please email Derek Kern at: derekkern@hotmail.com, or call him at (631) 487-4810.

NEW YORK STATE FREEDOM for ALL IRELAND BULLETIN   

Posted by Jim on

NEW YORK STATE FREEDOM for ALL IRELAND BULLETIN   

September 2017

A chairde:

             FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A-Catholic Families Forced to Flee Belfast Homes-Four Catholic families were forced to flee their homes after being told by the constabulary they were under death threat from loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force paramilitaries. The families were driven out of the Cantrell Close area in Belfast, a new Housing Executive project aimed at cross-community housing. The IRISH NEWS noted that “if similar threats happened anywhere else in Ireland or Britain or the western world, it would likely make international headlines.” UVF flags had already been draped around this estate since June to mark the area as UVF territory.

B-English Protests over British Trooper Prosecutions- Supporters of Dennis Hutchings, a former British trooper charged with shooting dead John Pat Cunningham in Benburb, marched in London protesting prosecutions of any former British troopers for Troubles murders. The victim, then 27 with learning difficulties and a fear of troopers, was shot in the back while running away. Because of new inquests, and investigations, a few rubberstamped killings by British crown forces are now being seriously investigated for the first time. Troopers fear facing charges. During the protest, speakers expressed outrage that Hutchings  at age 75 could be prosecuted for a 1974 killing. The angry protest took place one day after the crown announced it would proceed with charges against Belfast Republican Ivor Bell,80, for a 1972 incident despite Mr. Bell’s severe medical issues.   

C- DUP Demands Funds Cutoff for Relatives For Justice

Democratic Unionist Party MP Emma Little-Pengelly demanded that the victims’ group have its funding ended because RFJ representatives had attended an anniversary Mass for three Tyrone IRA Volunteers, killed by the SAS twenty-nine years ago. She pointed to an RFJ message that it was “privileged” to be at the Mass for Brian and Gerard Mullin and Martin Harte.RFJ said it would “support all victims and survivors without fear or favor.” Little-Pengelly is the daughter of Noel Little, a member of Ulster Resistance which helped to bring in South African arms for loyalist paramilitaries.

D-Orange Order Insulted by Reconciliation Efforts

Rev Mervyn Gibson, the Grand Secretary of the Orange Order branded efforts to persuade Unionists that they would be better off in a united Ireland as “insulting.” Rev. Gibson told the IRISH NEWS, that he “finds it insulting when people even try and convince me of a unionist place in a united Ireland”. He said claims of financial betterment were a “bribe” or “attempt to buy unionists”. Gibson also said that the Conservative Party-DUP deal might mean restoring Orange Order Parades in Drumcree and other nationalist areas where they had been blocked.   

          

     NEW YORK FFAI MARK THOMPSON RFJ TOUR DATES SET

 Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice will be speaking at five New York AOH FFAI events in January, arriving on January 9th,returning to Belfast January 15th.

Wednesday January 10th-Suffolk County co-sponsored by Nassau

Thursday January 11th-in Manhattan co-sponsored by NY City counties

Friday January 12th-Rockland

Saturday January 13th-Albany

Sunday January 14th-Peekskill

  Mark is a great speaker who has given truth, hope and a small measure of justice to many families whose loved ones were murdered by the British directly or by their loyalist agents. If we can make this tour a success he is willing to return because he understands the importance of American and AOH pressure on the British!

     

                SPECIAL ENVOY WIN

Last month we noted that the AOH joined Congressman Crowley and other groups in demanding that a new Special Envoy be appointed for the north. The announced decision not to appoint one has been reversed with AOH support.

Hope to see some of you at the “Spirit of 1916 Awards” Bronx Fundraiser Sunday October 22nd at the Rambling House, Katonah Avenue in Woodlawn 3pm-7pm.In addition to honoring our National Secretary Jere Cole, Past NY County President Thomas Beirne, and

Hugh McMorrow, we are honoring MacBride Principles champion, Pat Doherty. (914-589-7105)

    Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.

                                      

                                                    Slan

                                                Martin Galvin

Carrying His Cross for Ireland: The Life of Thomas Ashe

Posted by Jim on

 
Join us for a Commemoration of Thomas Ashe,
Kerry-Born Irish Patriot,
Victim of Hunger Strike, September, 1917.
The Kerry Hall
305 McLean Ave., Yonkers
Sunday October 8th, 2017 2.00PM
Free Admission/All Invited
Guest Speaker: Gabriel Doherty, Historian, University College Cork
For more information, please contact Association Historian
Gerry O’Shea – jamesgoshea@gmail.com
Loretta King
President

Documents prove military lied about killings

Posted by Jim on September 30, 2017

 

Fresh inquests have been sought into the deaths of two IRA Volunteers in
separate incidents in 1972 and 1973 after documents emerged which
confirmed that the men were unlawfully killed by British soldiers.

Recently uncovered British military archives show that an IRA volunteer
shot dead by the British army in 1972 was the victim of a planned
ambush.

Daniel McAreavey was shot and killed by British soldiers at the junction
of Bosnia Street and Plevna Street in the lower Falls area. Local
witnesses at the time stated that the 21-year-old was wounded and then
executed.

The British military claimed that one of their units happened to be
passing when they were fired upon by a gunman and that they then engaged
with him. However, a classified file from the 2nd Battalion of the
Anglian Regiment states that Mr McAreavey was caught in an “area ambush”
which is military parlance for a kill zone.

A record for October 6, 1972 read: “Area ambush in Raglan Street –
Plevana St – Osman St Daniel McAreavey shot dead and 2 gunmen wounded by
SF. (Security Forces).

Ciaran MacAirt of the Paper Trail organisation, who found the archives
said: “This is an admission by the British Army that Daniel McAreavey
was caught and killed in a deliberate British military ambush. This
archive completely subverts the British narrative of an accidental
patrol that happened upon the scene.”

He noted the use the generic term SF or “Security Forces” points to the
involvement of another unit, possibly the notorious military
assassination unit, the MRF.

He also noted the British soldiers called the area of their ambush and
kill ‘the Reservation’, “as if this was some sick hunt and the people
were animals”.

“We can be sure that the British Army’s area ambush was a deliberate
plan to trap and kill its targets. There was nothing accidental in the
deployment of British troops in the area at that time.”

Padraig O Muirigh of O Muirigh Solicitors said the McAreavey family had
always held the view that their loved one was killed unlawfully by the
British Army.

“In recent years new witness testimony has come to light from two
individuals who spoke to the deceased as he lay injured after an initial
burst of fire. Their evidence supports the proposition that the deceased
had died after sustaining fatal injuries in a second burst of fire as he
lay injured on the ground,” he said.

“This find by Paper Trail is further evidence of a cover-up in relation
to the circumstances of Mr McAreavey’s death. It is clear that there was
no adequate RUC investigation at the time. The Royal Military Police
took the statement from the soldiers, a derogation by the police to the
military of their duty to investigate. It is also highly unusual that
there was no autopsy carried out on the deceased’s body.”

COVER-UP

A fresh inquest is also being sought into the separate killing of an IRA
man in 1973 after documents confirm British soldiers did not follow
their own ‘yellow card’ rules of engagement.

Brian Smyth was killed after members of the Parachute Regiment opened
fire on a group of men in Ardoyne in April 1973. Three other men were
wounded in the incident, one of whom suffered permanent brain damage.

The British army originally claimed the men were armed but this was
disputed by eyewitnesses, including a nun, who maintained the men were
not carrying weapons.

One of the injured men was later convicted of having a gun during the
incident — before being acquitted on a retrial after one of the
soldiers involved revealed he was told to lie and claim that they were
armed.

The newly uncovered document, which dates from 1977, considered the pros
and cons of whether the British government should provide an
out-of-court settlement to the injured men and the mother of the dead
man, Mary Smyth.

Mrs Smyth was herself killed along with her 10-year-old grandson after a
loyalist fire bomb attack at her Oldpark Avenue home in 1978.

The document confirms that no firearms were found on the men and that
there was no forensic evidence to indicate that they were armed.

The British army was also worried following the allegations made by the
soldier who came forward and the subsequent acquittal that “the evidence
given by the soldiers concerned is bound to be suspect” and they they
might face prosecution.

Mr O Muirigh said that the original RUC investigation “failed to
establish the facts of this matter” and that no evidence was taken from
civilian witnesses.

“These grave failings in the RUC investigation and subsequent inquest
could be remedied by a fresh inquest,” he said.

“We would appeal to any of those present with Mr Smyth when he was shot
and any other witnesses to the incident to contact our office”.

The crisis of the Spanish state

Posted by Jim on

 

Ahead of the October 1 referendum on self-determination, the Spanish
government is engaged in a level of political repression in Catalonia
not experienced since the days of the Franco dictatorship. Kate Shea
Baird writes for the Independent on the sudden collapse in Spanish
democracy.
 

Last week Mariano Rajoy lost control of the narrative on the Catalan
question. Appearing before the press after a series of raids and arrests
designed to halt a unilateral referendum on independence planned for 1
October, the Spanish Prime Minister trotted out the government’s
well-worn arguments in defence of the constitution and the “rights of
all Spaniards”.

However, Rajoy’s professed defence of the rule of law is increasingly at
odds with reality on the ground. Over recent weeks, judges in Spain have
used startlingly loose interpretations of the Supreme Court’s ruling on
the referendum’s illegality to issue orders that violate many of the
rights they’re charged with upholding. Local police across Catalonia
have seized posters and banners related to the 1 October vote, and the
Spanish Civil Guard has searched a number of newspaper offices for
incriminating materials. These aren’t signs of a state that’s confident
in its authority.

Significantly, this legal overreach hasn’t been limited to Catalonia,
and nor has the popular response to it. Judges in Madrid and Bilbao have
ruled public debates on the Catalan question illegal. While both events
eventually went ahead despite the court suspensions, the apparent
attempt to use criminal law to suppress political expression recalls
some of the darkest moments of Spain’s recent history.

The scale of state repression in Catalonia and its extension to the rest
of Spain mark a significant shift in the ongoing dispute over the
national question. The conflict is less and less about competing
conceptions of democracy and increasingly about the defence of the basic
rights like freedom of assembly, speech and the press.

As Rajoy addressed the country on Wednesday night, the streets of
Barcelona swelled with tens of thousands of people demonstrating outside
the Catalan economy ministry, where a junior minister had been arrested
earlier that morning. On the other side of the city, protesters gathered
outside the headquarters of the pro-independence party “Popular Unity
Candidacy”, blocking the entrance of the national police, which had
spent the morning attempting to search the offices without a warrant.

Is this a revolt with a national current? Undoubtedly. But there is
something else going on, too. Wednesday’s rallies were not the highly
organised, disciplined affairs that characterise the annual
demonstrations of the independence movement. Their spirit owed something
to the anti-establishment “indignados” movement that occupied the
squares of Spain’s major cities in May 2011 and politicised a
generation.

Protesters alternated between collective renditions of the Catalan
national anthem, “Els Segadors” and the libertarian and anti-fascist
chants of “the streets will always be ours” and “no passaran”. As night
fell, the air was filled with the sound of people banging pots from
their balconies in protest, even in neighbourhoods where support for
independence is relatively low. Elsewhere in Spain, emergency solidarity
protests were held in more than 20 cities, using the hashtag
#CatalunaNoEstasSola, “Catalonia, you’re not alone”.

Since the financial crisis in 2008, both the independence and the
“indignados” movements have questioned the foundations of the so-called
“’78 Regime” in Spain, the constitutional settlement that transitioned
the country to democracy after decades of dictatorship. While neither
movement on its own has had the strength to pose a serious threat to the
established order, united around a common cause, they could create the
most formidable grassroots movement in Europe.

The Tories have already betrayed the DUP

Posted by Jim on September 27, 2017


Despite their deal, the Conservatives are cutting the ground from under their ‘mates’

 Fintan O’Toole. Irish Times. Dublin.Tuesday, September 26, 2017

  
 I apologize to the Democratic Unionist Party. After it did a deal to keep Theresa May in power, I suggested it would eventually be stabbed in the back by its Tory friends. This has proved to be doubly wrong. It didn’t happen eventually – it has happened already. And it has been stabbed, not in the back, but in the front. Sorry about that.

The DUP’s enthusiastic support for Brexit is largely an exercise in identity politics, a way of expressing an emotional attachment to Britishness. But it has two political imperatives. The DUP’s own voters do not want a hard Border. And they do not want to lose the agricultural subsidies that account for 87 per cent of farm incomes in Northern Ireland.

They need their friends in London to swing these two big things for them. Otherwise Arlene Foster will look less like Moses leading her people to the promised land and more like a scout leader who has lost the compass, forgotten the tents and dropped the sandwiches in the bog.

The DUP always acknowledged that a hard frontier is not just undesirable but impossible, a reality made starker by figures showing the Border is crossed 110 million times a year. But it has been pushing a magical solution: technology. Some as-yet-undiscovered technology (vaguely imagined as having something to do with number-plate recognition and data analytics) would allow the frictionless movements of goods and people.

There was something oddly touching in this act of faith, like one of those cargo cults that developed on remote South Sea islands when fridges and TVs washed ashore and were worshipped as mysterious messages from the gods.

But, while the DUP was placing all its bets on this technological thoroughbred, its Tory friends dragged the poor beast out the back and shot it. At the end of July, Jeffrey Donaldson was still rhapsodising about the ingenious machines that were going to solve the Border problem, sighing that “Modern technology is a wonderful thing”. Two weeks later the Tory government published its long-awaited position paper on the Irish dimension of the Brexit negotiations.

It was a mercy killing without the mercy. The DUP’s solution was dismissed in a single line, committing the UK to “avoid any physical border infrastructure in either the United Kingdom or Ireland, for any purpose”. No physical Border infrastructure means no magic machines. Unless it is going to suggest that Border controls will be purely spiritual, it is hard to see where this leaves the DUP.

Sent to slaughter

On agricultural subsidies, too, the DUP has been brushed aside by its Brexiteer mates. The party knows very well that agriculture matters much more to Northern Ireland than it does to England. And most of it is currently unthinkable without the cheque in the post from Brussels: Northern Ireland makes up 3 per cent of the UK population but gets almost 10 per cent of its European Union farm subsidies.

A beef farmer in Northern Ireland who followed the DUP’s advice to vote for Brexit might typically have a commercial income of £14,745. The Brussels cheque is for almost twice that amount: £28,726. What’s going to happen after Brexit? The DUP has a simple answer: London will send that farmer £28,726.

In the short term, this is probably true. The Brexiteers cannot afford an immediate food security crisis, so London will pony up for a few years. But in the medium term, frankly my dears, London doesn’t give a damn.

Remember the tragicomic episode in July when one of the arch-Brexiteers, Michael Gove, now the UK’s food minister, visited a farm show in Antrim and was feted by the DUP? He issued a statement praising the quality and worldwide renown of, um, Welsh lamb. Hard to blame him – all these rainy, hilly peripheries where people talk in funny accents do rather meld into one another.

The ultra free market

What the Brexiteers really want is an ultra free-market Britain, liberated from subsidies and regulations. George Eustice, the UK farming minister, has been clear about the implications: “If subsidies equal direct payments, of course we want to move away from that.” 

The promise to protect farm subsidies is tied up with the idea that Britain will have a vast amount of money to spend because it will no longer be sending it to Brussels. Leaving aside the mendacity of the infamous £350 million a week that is supposed to be available, has the DUP noticed that this mythic sum has been promised yet again to the National Health Service, not to farmers? In the 4,326-word essay in which Boris Johnson revived these claims, he said nothing about giving a penny of the dividend to farmers.

The DUP needs to consult a self-help manual, He’s Just Not that into You, which is advertised as ideal for those “who want to get past the crappy get-out lines fellas use”. The crappy get-out lines about the wonders of technology and the cheque in the post from London didn’t disguise the truth that the Brexiteers are just not that into dealing with the complications of Ireland. Whether it likes it or not, the DUP has to join the rest of Ireland in trying to do so.

support@HolyLandPrinciples.org
PO BOX 15128

Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849

Pudgy Walsh’s street renaming

Posted by Jim on September 26, 2017

An Official Communication from the UFA

#34 of 2017 ·  September 26th

  1. ROBERT “PUDGIE” WALSH (LADDER 108) STREET RENAMING
    This Sunday, October 1st , will be a “Street Naming Ceremony” to honor Lt. Robert “Pudgie Walsh, Ladder 108. Location:  Avenue P & East 36th Street, Marine Park, Brooklyn.  Time:  12 noon.  Pudgie was the former Head Coach and Founder of the Bravest Football Club, long time Head Coach of the Brooklyn Mariner Football Club, as well as a member of the U.S. Navy.  All off duty members and their families are invited to attend.  Attire for the day is casual.

GIVE BALLYMURPHY CHANCE FOR TRUTH

Posted by Jim on September 25, 2017

 

A chara

 

 It is said everyone deserves their day in Court. Why are the “Ballymurphy Massacre” families, waiting for their day in court, forty-six years after the killing of their loved ones? Why is Arlene Foster’s permission needed to get Court inquests and a chance for truth?

 

 The “Ballymurphy Massacre,” was set in motion when British Prime Minister Edward Heath greenlit Brian Faulkner’s call for Internment. Faulkner’s Ulster Unionist Party ran Britain’s Orange State for nearly fifty years. Internment, or mass arrests and indefinite imprisonment of suspected Republicans without charges or trial, was their answer to periodic Irish resistance.

                       INTERNMENT

 On Monday August 9,1971,British troopers rampaged across the north, broke into homes, terrorized families, jailed hundreds without charge, and began a catastrophic Internment policy lasting four years.

 

 Mass arrests and home invasions were step one. They selected  men held without charge, hooded and brutalized them with techniques which have Britain charged with torture in the European Court.

                     ELEVEN VICTIMS

 The massacre began hours after the first days’ raids ended. British Paratroopers barracked in Ballymurphy came out and opened fire without warning.

 

A Catholic priest, waving a white handkerchief, Fr. Hugh Mullan,     nineteen year old Francis Quinn, mother of 8 children, Joan Connolly, were each shot dead for going to help wounded victims.

 

Daniel Teggart, was felled by a bullet to the leg, then shot a total of 14 times, as he lay on the ground. Noel Philips was also shot dead that first night.

 

 Joseph Murphy was wounded, and taken into custody. Before his death on August 22nd, he whispered that he had been shot a second time while in the Para’s barracks. The second bullet was found after his body was exhumed for an autopsy.

 

Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr and John McKerr were murdered over the next two days. An eleventh murder victim, Paddy McCarthy, died of a heart attack, when troopers placed an empty gun inside his mouth in mock execution.

 

                       COVER STORIES

However the “Ballymurphy Massacre” did not end with taking 11 innocent lives, or taking parents from 57 children. The British also massacred the truth. Cover stories were crafted. Victims became posthumous gunmen. British Royal Military Police made their troopers innocent and the dead guilty.

 

 No eyewitnesses could challenge the official story line. No lawyers could ask why no British casualties, nor weapons recovered from so many dead IRA gunmen. The BBC and newspapers  relayed this British version.

 

Brigadier General Frank Kitson, had written “Law should be used as just another weapon in the government’s arsenal… little more than a propaganda cover for disposal of unwanted members of the public”.(Low Intensity Operations)

As a secret British Ministry Memorandum, uncovered  by Relatives For Justice put it, the British “Army should not be inhibited in its campaign by the threat of Court proceedings”.

 

British troopers would have undeclared immunity. The families of murdered “unwanted members of the public” would not be allowed to “inhibit” Britain’s campaign with court proceedings. They would have to swallow their grief and take it.

 

 It worked so well in Ballymurphy that the British decided to try it again five months later, with the mistake of too many witnesses on “Bloody Sunday”.

 

               RELATIVES FOR JUSTICE

 

More than a quarter-century later, Relatives For Justice organized a conference for forgotten victims of the Troubles. Afterwards, still grieving families vowed to fight for truth. They fought for and in 2011, won the legal right to reopen inquests. They would get their day in court and chance for truth!

 

They are still waiting. Eighteen months ago, British Chief Justice Declan Morgan, met the Ballymurphy families, among others, about delays in legacy inquests. Morgan said Britain was  legally obligated to hold these inquests. He planned to deal with all 50 legacy inquests within 5 years, given cooperation and some funding.

 

On September 5th,Morgan went public with his “deep frustration” at getting nothing. The funds are there said the British, but need agreement and Arlene Foster’s permission for release. Democratic Unionist Party head Arlene Foster refused. She says it would divert money from “innocent victims.” After all, Foster assumes, if British troopers killed the Ballymurphy victims, they must have been guilty of something.

 

Once the British ruled through the UUP, and blamed them for the injustices of the Orange State. Today they give nationalists a say, but impose sham requirements for agreements amounting to a DUP veto. The British not worried about the victims being proven innocent. They worry that the truth may point to the guilt of those who fired the shots and those who gave them immunity to do so. They think unionists can always cancel out nationalist demands. The British do worry about American pressure. Will Irish-Americans help get the “Ballymurphy Massacre” families their chance for truth?

                                                        Slan

 

                                                MARTIN GALVIN

The writer is Freedom-for-all-Ireland Chair for ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS, in New York State.

Posted by Jim on September 23, 2017


I will fight for “local families” says DUP man amid controversy over housing development

DUP councilor Paul Porter with party leader
 Arlene Foster. The old Dunmurry high school 
site was the subject of comments by the Seymour 
Hill and Conway Residents’ Association calling
 for homes to be filled up with people from the
 loyalist/unionist community
 
Brendan Hughes. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, September 23, 2017

A DUP councilor has said he will fight for “local housing for local families” amid controversy over a residents’ group calling for homes to be “filled up with people from the Loyalist/Uunionist[Protestant] community”.

Seymour Hill and Conway Residents’ Association faced criticism earlier this week over a Facebook post encouraging people to meet with a DUP councilor about a new social housing development.

The group told people to “call in to see councilor Jonathan Craig” about the old Dunmurry High School site development, adding: “Please get yourself on the list and let’s get these houses filled up with people from [the] loyalist/unionist community [Protestant].”

Their board includes the former Lagan Valley MLA’s wife, ex-DUP councilor Yvonne Craig. Nationalist parties branded the remarks “extremely disappointing” and “disgraceful”.

Mr. Craig distanced himself from the comments, saying he has “no influence whatsoever” over housing allocation.

The residents’ group later apologized for using the “wrong vocabulary” and said their message was “aimed at local houses for local people”.

Following the apology, DUP Lisburn councilor Paul Porter on Thursday wrote on Facebook: “As your local councilor, I will continue to fight for more local housing for local families and individuals !”

The post was ‘liked’ on the social media site by several DUP representatives.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir yesterday expressed concern over a development site having “no plans yet to build homes for local families”.

In a video on Twitter, Mr. Ó Muilleoir said: “Distressed to hear that while the community of Short Strand lost homes when the Sirocco site was cleared, the developers have no plans yet to build homes for local families on the Sirocco site which I find absolutely disgraceful. Needs sorted as soon as possible.”

The sack of Balbriggan

Posted by Jim on

A look at an infamous event in the Tan War in County Dublin, 97 years
ago this week.

A rampage by the notorious ‘Black and Tans’ on the night of Monday,
September 20 followed the deaths of two of their number who were shot
dead while in Smyth’s pub, Balbriggan earlier that day.

The sack began around 11pm as lorries loaded with Black and Tans arrived
in the town from the barracks at Gormanston and directly proceeded to
shoot, burn and loot the town in a systematic spree of horrific
violence.

In Clonard Street, 20 houses were destroyed leaving helpless and
terrified inhabitants to flee into the fields surrounding the town.

Several pubs were looted and burned including Derham’s Pub and McGowan’s
pub on George’s Hill.

Local businesses were also targeted with Deeds and Templar Hosier
completely destroyed. This factory had employed 130 workers and an
additional 180 who did work for it from home.

There was only one house targeted on Hampton Street and it was that of
John Gibbons, who was taken for ‘questioning’ concerning the shootings
earlier that day.

Also at the barracks was the town’s barber James Lawless, both men
protesting their innocence.

They were later taken to Quay Street where they were beaten and stabbed
to death, their bodies found the next morning as the smoke from burned
out town still rose in an eerie silence.

A terrified population sought refuge wherever they could, many going to
Dublin to stay with relatives as news of the carnage spread throughout
the land.

Others with nowhere to go or those who did not want to leave slept in
makeshift straw homes in the fields around the town.

The English press covered the destruction.

“To realise the full horrors of that night, one has to think of bands of
men inflamed with drink, raging about the streets, firing rifles wildly,
burning houses here and there loudly threatening to come again tonight
and complete their work,” according to the Manchester Guardian.

A British civil servant in Dublin Castle, Mark Sturgis, felt no remorse.
He wrote in his diary: “Worse things can happen than the shooting up of
a sink like Balbriggan.”

The policy of ‘unofficial’ reprisals was sanctioned at the highest
level. The OC of the British forces in Ireland, General Sir Nevil
Macready, defended it privately.

“Where reprisals have taken place, the whole atmosphere of the
surrounding district has changed from one of hostility to one of
cringing submission.”

Trump administration seen turning its back to Ireland

Posted by Jim on

The US administration has been urged to reverse a decision to abolish
the post of special envoy to the north of Ireland.

The US State Department confirmed earlier this month that the post had
been “retired” and its responsibilities assigned to the Bureau of
European and Eurasian Affairs.

The first US special envoy to was Senator George Mitchell, who was
appointed in 1995, while Richard Haass undertook the role during George
W Bush’s administration. The involvement of the US government in the
north of Ireland has diminished substantially in recent years in line
with the normalisation of British rule.

The last person to hold the post was Senator Gary Hart but he was not
replaced following Donald Trump’s election victory. Senator Hart
condemned the proposal to abolish the diplomatic role as “a sad, even
tragic, decision”.

Now 25 members of the US Congress have written to the US Secretary of
State Rex Tillerson urging him to reconsider abolishing the post. It has
been signed by Republicans as well as Democratic members of Congress.

The letter notes that “40 million Americans of Irish descent have begun
to speak out on this issue” and describes the 1998 Good Friday Agreement
as “one of America’s most successful foreign policy accomplishments in
recent memory”.

The letter highlights the threat Brexit poses to the peace process after
the Westminster parliament passed legislation to allow British
negotiators breach the 1998 peace deal. Sinn Fein is seeking to rescue
the agreement by making it a protocol of the Brexit withdrawal treaty.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians has urged members of Congress who take
an active interest in Ireland to oppose Tillerson’s plans.

It described the proposal to scrap the north envoy as “appalling” and
wants US Congress members to “push back”.

The AOH has sent letters to the members of the U.S. Senate Committee
on Foreign Relations and the Congressional Friends of Ireland caucus
asking them to voice their objection, said a statement.

“Nearly twenty years ago, the historic Good Friday Agreement ended ‘the
Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, proportionately one of the deadliest
conflicts in world history.

“All parties to the conflict have acknowledged the leadership of United
States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland George Mitchell was pivotal in
reaching that historic accord,” said AOH National Political Education
Chairman, Neil F. Cosgrove.

“The Good Friday Agreement is a landmark in U.S. Diplomacy and prima
facie evidence of American leadership in the cause of peace and justice.

“It is therefore shocking that Secretary of State Tillerson has
announced plans to eliminate the position of Special Envoy to Northern
Ireland while many objectives of the Good Friday Agreement are yet to be
realized and at a time when the Agreement, and the peace it fostered, is
at risk,” Cosgrove stated.

Continued Cosgrove: “Apparently, Secretary Tillerson, and many in the
government on both sides of the aisle, have confused the transitory
peace which is a cessation of violence with the much greater vision of a
permanent peace articulated in the Good Friday Agreement; a peace based
on ‘parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment.’

“Twenty years on, we are still far from the goal of true peace. We need
only look at recent actions targeting those who wish to express their
identity through the Irish language and reports that the Catholic
community of Northern Ireland faces disproportionate hurdles in
accessing housing to see that the Good Friday Agreement aspiration of
‘parity of esteem’ has yet to move from paper to practice.

“In the nearly twenty years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed,
a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland has yet to materialize and
attempts to address the legacies of the past with justice have
continually met with obstruction.

“The most tangible symbol of the Good Friday Agreement, the power shared
devolved Northern Ireland parliament, is currently in collapse with no
sign of restoration.

“Brexit, which the communities of Northern Ireland as a whole rejected,
threatens economic upheaval to a fragile Northern Ireland economy and a
return to “hard borders” in Ireland both physical and psychological.”

The dismaying case of Tony Taylor

Posted by Jim on

by Jude Collins (judecollins.com)

 

If you drive around the north of Ireland you’re sure to come across one
of the signs: three words that test our notion of democracy. They are
‘FREE TONY TAYLOR’.

Tony Taylor is in prison because the former Secretary of State Theresa
Villiers thinks it’s a good idea that he should be. “His early release
from prison under the Good Friday Agreement has been revoked” is a more
official way of putting it but it amounts to the same thing. Which is
internment.

Decades ago, in the 1950s, internment was seen as part of the state’s
machinery. We lived in a unionist-controlled state, so of course they
were going to put in prison anybody they thought had a face that didn’t
fit. People who were Irish language enthusiasts, people who were active
members of the GAA, people who just happened to live in a strongly
republican area. Into prison they went, and they came out only at Her
Majesty’s pleasure.

Then we had internment in the 1970s, and the nationalist population had
become sufficiently bold to see that internment didn’t have to be as
inevitable as the weather, that if the government could shove into jail
anyone they selected with no questions asked, we were living in a …what?
Police state? Corrupt state? Call it what you will but nationalists and
republicans in the 1970s made their feelings about internment clear.

Tony Taylor is a member of the Republican Network for Unity. That means
he doesn’t think much of the political line adopted by Sinn Fein. On
Friday, after a visit to Maghaberry prison, the Mayor of Derry City and
Strabane District Council Maoliosa McHugh has declared his support for
the release of Tony Taylor. So too have Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney,
Martina Anderson and Elisha McCallion.

That’s good. Although it’s a pity that eighteen months had to pass
before protest at Taylor’s detention should assume a markedly higher
profile.

Taylor’s case is one that tests our commitment to democracy. It’s safe
to say his thinking would be different from, even contrary to that of
most nationalists and republicans. But that’s exactly the point. If we
only agitate for rights in the case of those who agree with us, we’re
behaving in a way that says “I’m all for democracy but for my lot only –
the others can look after themselves.”

There are a lot of people – not all unionists – who would say there’s no
smoke without fire, Theresa Villiers must have had good security
information to decide to intern Taylor. Except that’s not how justice
works. You put people in jail when you’ve evidence that they’ve done
wrong – evidence that stands up in court, is robust enough to withstand
scrutiny. If Theresa Villiers or the justice system doesn’t have such
evidence, then Tony Taylor, like the rest of us, is innocent until
proved guilty.

Our shame should be that it took so long for his case to receive support
at an official level.

‘FREEDOM FOR CATALONIA’

Posted by Jim on

A sudden and violent attempt to suppress the Catalan independence
movement by the Madrid government has shocked those struggling for
self-determination across the world.

Describing the independence referendum in Catalonia as a “democratic
imperative”, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD said that the people
there must be allowed to decide their own future.

He was speaking after Spanish national police stormed ministries and
buildings in Barcelona belonging to Catalonia’s regional government to
put a stop to the referendum.

The Guardia Civil, which acts with the authority of Madrid’s interior
ministry, searched for “evidence” regarding the vote.

In the early hours of the morning armed officers arrived at various
Catalan ministries, including the economy department, foreign affairs
department, and social affairs department. More than a dozen Catalan
officials were arrested, including the chief aide to Catalonia’s deputy
prime minister.

Mayors of Catalan towns who back the referendum were also interrogated
and threatened with arrest, while documentation relating to the poll was
seized.

Pro-independence crowds formed outside the regional ministries in
support of the provincial government and in protest against the raids
and searches.

For some, their brought back painful memories the Spanish Civil war in
the 1930s, when republicans and socialists, supported by the Catalan
government, died fighting against the fascist dictatorship of General
Franco.

“It is unacceptable for there to be political prisoners in a European
democracy. The [governing party] Partido Popular leads us to an
authoritarian regression that cannot be tolerated,” a spokesperson for
Podemos said on social media.

Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalonian government, said the
Madrid authorities had “de facto suspended” home rule in Catalonia.

Thousands of additional Guardia Civil have now been sent to the area
ahead of the referendum. The growing police presence and aggressive
crackdowns are fuelling mounting protests among the Catalan population,
with thousands taking to the streets of Barcelona, and dock workers
refusing to provide services to the police arriving on ferries.

The secession referendum is scheduled for October 1, and top regional
officials insist the vote will go on as scheduled.

There is strong support in Ireland for Catalan independence.

“The future of Catalonia should be decided by the Catalan people,” Mr
Adams said.

“Those who truly cherish the principles of democracy, have nothing to
fear from Catalonia having an independence referendum. In fact, given
that significant numbers of Catalans have repeatedly expressed their
desire to vote on their political future, the referendum should be
embraced as a democratic imperative.

“The Spanish Government has a moral responsibility to respect the
legislation passed by the Government of Catalonia. Mariano Rajoy’s
administration should engage in meaningful discussions with Catalan
representatives to ensure that the vote goes ahead, and without
coercion.

“To prevent the referendum from taking place would be an affront to
democratic ideals. Let the people of Catalonia have their say.”

Scottish Cabinet secretary for external affairs Fiona Hyslop said “that
all peoples have the right to self-determination and to choose the form
of government best suited to their needs, a principle which is
enshrined in the UN Charter.”

She said that the governments in London and Edinburgh had been able “to
come together to agree a process to allow the people to decide”.

“It is essential that democracy and civil rights are respected in all
countries,” she added.

Bobby Sands film which received public funding is to make television premiere

Posted by Jim on September 21, 2017

The film ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’ is due to make its television premiere on Sunday evening on BBC Two Northern Ireland.

 

John Monaghan. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The documentary on Bobby Sands was written and directed by Brendan J Byrne

A DOCUMENTARY about Bobby Sands – which faced criticism from Unionists after it emerged that public money had been used to make it – will make its television premiere on BBC NI at the weekend.

The film, ‘Bobby Sands: 66 Days’, charts the IRA hunger striker’s life and imprisonment and is based on extracts from his prison diaries.

Written and directed by Ardoyne-born Brendan J Byrne, the extracts are read by west Belfast actor Martin McCann and the film combines archive news footage, custom animation and dramatic reconstruction.

The 27-year-old IRA prisoner died after spending 66 days on hunger strike in the Maze prison in May 1981.

Released in cinemas last summer, it will be shown for the first time on television on BBC 2 NI at 9pm on Sunday.

The film proved hugely popular amongst cinema-goers across Ireland when released last year, recording the Republic’s highest opening weekend returns for an Irish-made documentary, taking in more than €50,000.

In The North it came fifth in the box office chart on its debut weekend, finishing ahead of the combined audience total for both Star Trek and Ghostbusters.

Unionists reacted with anger to the news that the film had received tens of thousands in public funding from the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen.

Northern Ireland Screen revealed they gave £76,000 to the project, while the BBC did not disclose how much it contributed.

Former Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP, the Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott, last year said that the decision to award public money for the film was “disgraceful”.

Kelly accuses Tories of duplicity over ombudsman Troubles probe

Posted by Jim on

Claire Simpson. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, September 20, 2017

SINN Féin has accused the British government of “duplicity” amid a row over funding for Police Ombudsman probes into Troubles-era cases.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire has warned that some inquiries may take up to two decades to complete due to pressure on resources.

He told the BBC’s Spotlight programme he has written to 130 families this year, telling them he does not know when investigations into their loved ones’ deaths will be finished.

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly said the ombudsman’s comments showed that legacy bodies agreed in 2014 as part of the Stormont House Agreement must be established and properly funded.

“The ombudsman has warned that the current system isn’t fit for purpose and strongly criticized the failure to adequately investigate, among others, the activities of the Glenanne Gang which was responsible for more than 100 murders, mostly of nationalist civilians, in Armagh and Tyrone, as well as being involved in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of the ongoing efforts to cover up the British state’s involvement in the conflict here and particularly their deep-seated collusion with loyalist death squads,” he said.

“That is why the British government is still blocking the implementation of the legacy bodies agreed at Stormont House and refusing to fund outstanding conflict-related inquests despite repeated requests from the lord chief justice.”

Optimism is beyond northern Unionists

Posted by Jim on September 20, 2017

 Optimism is beyond northern Unionists and has been for perhaps centuries
 
“Some used to balk at equating Catholics with Nationalists, Protestants with Unionists. What about the Catholics who vote Unionist, they niggled, Protestants who don’t think of themselves as Unionist?
What we now have is what wishful thinkers lament as ‘increased polarization’ and the rest of us recognize as the truth of ages.”
 

Fionnuala O’ Connor. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Curious, but not all that surprising.
Since Catholics/nationalists are turned off Stormont and feel cheated by the Tory-DUP deal, Protestants/Unionists should surely be in cheerful mood, moderately optimistic?

But optimism is beyond northern Protestant Unionists and has been for perhaps centuries. This community may be past cheering up.
Perhaps this is the point to get rid of a quibble, though these days only sticklers raise it.

Some used to balk at equating Catholics with Nationalists, Protestants with Unionists. What about the Catholics who vote Unionist, they niggled, Protestants who don’t think of themselves as Unionist?
What we now have is what wishful thinkers lament as ‘increased polarization’ and the rest of us recognize as the truth of ages.

Stickle how you like; mavericks fail to make an impact, too few for this place’s good. Most Unionists are Protestant, most Nationalists[are[ Catholic.

And here we are, well into a changed demographic situation that one section refuses to acknowledge.

Catholic schoolchildren outnumber Protestant children, the bigger number of the most elderly is Protestant. Only one outcome ahead, but Protestant unionists cannot say it outside their own homes, church halls, Orange lodges, perhaps pubs and clubs, anywhere ‘the others’ might hear.

The growing Catholic share of the population is to be talked down, ignored.

The evaporating majority is felt as brutal fact, but denied. That denial underlies and perhaps excuses, certainly accounts for much in Unionist politics, lack of leadership and state of mind.

The Assembly election was a big frightener. The Westminster turn-up for the books was not a famous victory. Instead of voicing satisfaction at the DUP’s king-making, Unionists fret, primarily that Theresa May is a broken reed.

Criticism of the DUP’s ‘bung’ —as the London media mocked it with creationist and homophobic quotes for light relief —produced Protestant ‘hurt’ and ‘dismay’.

Under the headline “PM didn’t deserve vicious abuse… and we in NI shouldn’t be sneered at either” the Belfast Telegraph’s religious correspondent and former Queen’s University public affairs officer Alf McCreary wrote that he had never been a DUP supporter. ‘But I believe they – and the rest of us – have been sneered at dreadfully by London commentators who depict us as country bumpkins and political crackpots.’

Some who imagine their mindset is not predictable much less tribal were as hurt as the others, the openly-Unionist wounded.

Far from enjoying a moment in the sun,  anxious Protestants saw May’s vulnerability and returned morosely to their Stormont dilemma.

Unionists appeared to like being back on the hill more than Nationalists, Republicans. But its lure seemed to gradually fade as Irish became the big sticking point. Now the Orange Order and Jim Allister are in full cry; defensiveness and bad temper rule.

There is half-spoken admission that Unionists have come badly out of this shared Stormont, from the start seen as a reward for terrorists, a non-British arrangement, now also an incubator of social liberalism. Direct rule is becoming a preferred option. Mightn’t it hook “the province “ back into the consciousness of “the mainland?”

A middle-class Unionist , reluctantly but solidly on board for the early peace process,  marveled that Catholics made so much of Arlene’s crocodiles.

RHI and previous scandals had passed him by. ‘A nationalist song-and-dance’, he said angrily.

Another thought the Assembly’s possible inbuilt corruption on top of the Executive’s stalemate had diminished an efficient Foster, made her look unimpressive.

The fault, in other words, is not in Unionism but in the structure. In which the Unionist majority is no longer safe.
The overall verdict is that we are off to hell – or a united Ireland – in a handcart.

As if the unspeakable demographics aren’t scary enough Brexit is looming, its outcome unreadable. The conclusion is near-despair. Which republicans, it seems many believe, have engineered — or rather which has been designed, plotted and choreographed by the all-knowing, terrifying Gerry Adams.

Today’s mood is more like whistling past the graveyard. “It’s classic profound unionist insecurity, all shark-infested waters,” says a long-time Unionist specialist. “Theresa probably won’t last, Brexit — and Corbyn -—are out there, while Adams, the biggest shark of all, is cruising ever closer to the shore, with his Border poll, Irish unity etc. And nobody really knows what the next census will bring.

How Adams personifies the nightmares is what strikes another chronicler. ‘When he goes, what on earth will they do?’ Well, who knows. Not Unionists. But they won’t relax

Official UFA Post

Posted by Jim on September 19, 2017

  1. September 19th

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Attn. Kings County AOH Div. 35

Posted by Jim on September 18, 2017

Greetings members of AOH Division 35 & Kings County. I am canceling the Division 35 meeting for tomorrow night Tuesday September 19th as a precaution due to a pending storm with high winds and heavy rain that is only way.

I hope to see you all at the AOH Kings County Board meeting on Monday September 25th 7:30 PM at the Baile N nGael 2750 Gerritsen Avenue.

Please pass on this notice, as i do not have everyone’s contact info.

Please be safe.

Eddie V.
President
Division 35

Loyalist Red Hand Commando applies to be legalised

Posted by Jim on

To All,

Obviously I have a lot to say with regard to the Red Hand Commandoes wanting to legitimize themselves.
Like many this sounds ludicrous given the despicable acts of terror they committed against innocent Catholics during the troubles.
Many families whom lost love ones at the hands of this evil group would understandably never accept there new found position or for that matter any sort of an apology.
The Red Hand Commandoes in “Collusion” with a British intelligent agent Brain Nelson was responsible for the assassination attempt on my family in 1988. 
Although no one was seriously injured in the attack I would ague that I also lost a loved one to this group albeit 16 years later.

The attack by the Red Hand Commandoes on my young family forced us to flee our homeland to seek asylum. Our struggles continue today but the unrelenting stress and threat of deportation back into the hands of our perpetrators was too much for my beloved wife Bernadette. 

Brian Nelson colluded and provided the information and weapons to Red Hand Commandoes to carry out the attempted assassination and the British Government turned a blind eye. ”They stood by and watched as there agent conspired to murder there citizens”.
Nearly thirty years on I don’t think there is a judge or jury in NI that could possibly bring a sense of justice to the families who suffered at the hands of the Red Hand Commandoes.
In my case even if the courts find one of there former leaders “Winstone Winkie Rea guilty of the murder of two Catholics he is charged with and my attempted murder it won’t bring any form of justice to our respective families but the truth may bring some closure.
In light of the recent omissions made by the Red Hand Commandoes I would suggest that there leadership do what is required of murderers in the US when they come before a parole board….prove how remorseful they are, formally admit and take responsibility for the murders and the atrocities they committed during the ‘Troubles”  Prove to the families that they are sincere and help bring closure and an end to the suffering of many afflicted by there actions.
Show me that they really care and ask my family for forgiveness.
It takes courage to build peace and if we are to obtain an everlasting peace for our children and our grandchildren its time for both sides to admit responsibility for there actions and that includes the British Government..!!
Malachy McAllister

 

Explosive film on a north of Ireland massacre debut at New York Film Festival

Posted by Jim on September 16, 2017

James O’Shea @IrishCentral

 

On June 18, 1994, six men were shot and killed by two masked members of the Ulster Volunteer Force in Heights bar in Loughinisland, Co Down.

On June 18, 1994, six men were shot and killed by two masked members of the Ulster Volunteer Force in Heights bar in Loughinisland, Co Down.

A long-awaited film documentary by an Oscar-winning director is set to bring the story of the British government’s role in the infamous 1994 Loughinisland massacre to a world audience and re-open allegations of massive collusion between British security forces and Loyalist killers.

“No Stone Left Unturned” will have its world premiere on Saturday, September 30 at the New York Film Festival and will include a Q & A session with famed director Alex Gibney. Producer Trevor Birney is also expected to attend.

Efforts to have the film included in last year’s Tribeca Festival were ended due to legal reasons.

The Loughinisland massacre took place on June 18, 1994 in the small village of Loughinisland, County Down, Northern Ireland. Members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, burst into a pub with assault rifles and fired on the customers, killing six civilians and wounding five. The pub was targeted because it was frequented mainly by Catholics and was crowded with people watching the Republic of Ireland team playing in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

The massacre occurred just as the IRA were deciding whether or not to call a ceasefire, a critical time in the Irish peace process. It was a clear attempt by elements within the British military to kill off the peace process.

Releasing his 2016 report of the massacre, Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Dr. Michael Maguire said he had no hesitation in determining collusion between police and security services and loyalist paramilitaries happened at the highest levels.

The movie will tell the story in the context of the 1994 World Cup and Moira Casement, niece of victim Barney Greene, said the families hoped people would be brought to account.

“The ripples that the report caused and the media interest in that was good to see,” she said. “There wasn’t a paper you picked up that didn’t refer back to Loughinisland. It caused wider ripples.”

Alex Gibney the director, is from New York. He won an Oscar in 2008 for a documentary called “Taxi to the Dark Side, “which was about the Bush administration’s use of torture in Iraq.

This title, “No Stone Left Unturned,” comes from family member Claire Rogan’s comments about how the police assured the families there’d be no stone unturned in the investigation. Claire Rogan’s husband Adrian was murdered watching the game.

The documentary looks at the issue of how the state’s policy of protecting intelligence and informers was prioritized over the families’ rights to natural justice and bringing killers to court.

The horrific scene at the bar.

The horrific scene at the bar.

The Police Ombudsman’s report came out in June 2016 and it has confirmed the fact that there were informers in Loughinisland,” Rogan said.

“While the Ombudsman’s report gave us much more answers we feel there are still unanswered questions there and that’s that this documentary is about.”

Niall Murphy from KRW Law said the state’s involvement in the massacre made it a story that had to be told.

“We have a circumstance where the car is delivered to a murder gang by a registered informer, he said.

“Police are aware of this within an hour and within months the car is destroyed. The RUC kept destroying the evidence. They destroyed the car after ten months. They destroyed all interview notes of any suspect who was interviewed in the first two years.

“Gough Barracks was a convenient excuse. Asbestos became the state’s convenient shredding machine. Every interview note ever taken from a suspect was destroyed and we don’t have that any more.

“Police have lost the log book of the car (car’s title) and we know now that they didn’t collect cigarette butts from the bar. They left a bullet in the bar that wasn’t discovered for almost two years.

“We also would learn from (Police Ombudsman) Al Hutchinson’s report that nine out of sixteen suspects didn’t have forensics taken properly – fingerprints, DNA, hair samples.

“The getaway car was found, three balaclavas were found, three boiler suits were found, three gloves were found – none of which were found by police. All were found by citizens and brought to the police’s attention. All that evidence would be destroyed.”

Emma Rogan, whose father Adrian was murdered that night, said for her the film will be a permanent memory to the victims and the injustice done.

“I personally feel that the film is a legacy,” she said.

“When I’m dead and gone it will be there for generations.

“My granda Rogan died. Willie O’Hare died – all the older generation are dying off, but this will be here for my children’s children to see what happened here and what was wrong.”

Thank God Dave Cullen doesn’t know me

Posted by Jim on

By Cait (for Damn Your Concessions)

 

Tout, informer, snitch, rat, grass and I am sure there are more terms
used, all have the same meaning in Ireland, someone who gives
information to the British forces, some of these people may be involved
themselves in the acts they inform on, they may work closely with the
people they will one day see imprisoned, or worse killed. Some may be
just local snoops, 50p touts as they are known in Armagh, and they give
anything ranging from very valuable information, such as surveying the
movements of someone of interest to the Police, to informing that
someone had an argument with their wife.

Then we have what is known as the super-grass, this is an informer on
speed! The Super grass is generally someone who is involved with those
they inform on, someone who has been around a while and is trusted; they
are not your commoner garden 50p tout. What makes them “super” is the
sizable numbers of people they implicate, the trials that follow are
usually show trials, with the super grass divulging a lot of
information, some of it may be true, much of it lies. The trials
generally have major protests outside and a lot of media interest. In
Ireland being a tout makes you pond life, scum of the earth some people
will say, lower than whale shite is a term I particularly enjoy.

The term super grass came into popular use in Ireland in 1981,
Christopher Black a member of the Provisional IRA was arrested. After
securing assurances that he would have protection from prosecution,
saving his own skin like the coward that he is, Black gave statements
which led to 38 arrests of alleged IRA members. This was the first big
super grass trial. Two years later on 5th August 1983 22 members of the
Provisional IRA were sentenced to a total of more than 4,000 cumulative
years in prison, based on Black’s testimonies alone.

18 of those convicted on Black’s evidence had their conviction
subsequently overturned in 1986, such is the reliability of super-grass
tainted evidence. It is well established that Supergrasses lie, their
motivating factor being providing “evidence” to avoid prosecution.

Black, however, would not be the last big supergrass, nor would it only
affect the Republican community, in all, over 500 people from both
Loyalist and Republican backgrounds were put on trial on the word of a
super-grass, It was a corrupt system of course, supergrasses were
seduced into telling lies and implicating innocent people to save their
own skins, given large cash inducements and promises of an anonymous new
life.

By the mid-1980s, the super-grass system had collapsed, public concerns
about the credibility of the evidence could no longer be ignored and
even members of the judiciary complained they were being used as
political tools to implement government security policy.

So there we are, all ancient history, super-grass trials are proven to
be flawed, the evidence provided by these cretins is known to be
non-credible, thank God we don’t have to worry about super-grass trials
in 2017 and the prospect of innocent men and women going to jail on the
word of a fantasist…….

Uh-oh! Not the case at all, today in 2017 we have a new super-grass, and
his name is Dave Cullen.

In March 2013 Dave Cullen was arrested and remanded to Portlaoise Prison
charged in connection with the fatal shooting in Gormanstown of Peter
Butterly. Just over a year later, in June 2014 Dave Cullen offered to
turn state witness in return for the charge to be dropped, two days
later Dave Cullen was removed from Portlaoise Prison under the
protection of armed Guards, this secured Dave Cullen’s status as
Ireland’s most recent super-grass.

To date based on the statements of Dave Cullen 9 men in total have been
arrested, so far 2 of them have been convicted and are serving lengthy
sentences, the rest are either remanded in Portlaoise or on bail while
one man is currently unaccounted for (on the run).

Dave Cullen like many supergrasses before him has brazenly given
evidence to the special criminal court; the special criminal court is a
non-jury Diplock court in the 26 counties. It is believed that in return
for this Cullen has secured immunity from the murder charge, has been
assigned a new identity and has been given a cash lump sum along with a
monthly stipend. Anyone who knows anything about Irish politics knows
this is a recipe for disaster.

The arrests did not come in a flurry after Cullen turning super-grass,
the arrests have continued right up until this current month (September
2017), he has to justify his payments somehow, like all touts anything
he says should be taken with a bucket of salt. It appears that the State
has learned nothing, that so intent are they on breaking Republicanism
that they are prepared to employ the services of the most despised and
reviled creature of all, the Super-grass!

The fate of the tout is never pleasant, they generally go on to live a
desperate lonely life, the money runs out, and their usefulness expires.
They live out the rest of their lives looking over their shoulder as
they are all too aware that they are marked men.

Their state protection only goes so far because the reality of the
situation is that no one likes a tout, a deceiver, a liar, not even the
people they are touting to as they have proven they cannot be trusted.
They are a commodity for a short period of time and when they outlive
their usefulness they are thrown to the mercy of the waves by their
handlers. Touts like Martin McGartland and Kevin Fulton (real name Peter
Keeley) have been very open about their unimportance after the fact,
even going to court to try and secure money that was promised to them.
So it would seem on top of being liars and cretins we can add stupid to
the list.

As per my previous blog published in July where I spoke about the
upsurge in IRA membership charges, it is clear that the 26 County state
is intent on smashing Republicanism, if they are not using the word of a
superintendent to jail political activists, they are prepared to use the
word of an even more despicable type which is the super-grass. For our
part we must do what those before us did and protest these sham show
trials with every fibre of our being.

Loyalists planned to set fire to ‘every street corner’

Posted by Jim on

Loyalists planned widespread disturbances across the Six Counties in
response to council threats against their bonfires, it has been
revealed.

An idea to build bonfires “on every street corner” was considered before
authorities in Belfast backed away from a threat to remove bonfire
material there.

The ‘Grand Secretary’ of the anti-Catholic Orange Order, Mervyn Gibson,
said tensions has been raised following a Belfast City Council
injunction against four loyalist bonfires in Belfast, but that major
disorder had been narrowly averted.

“It’s how the court order is interpreted next year that worries me, in
that people will now be looking to bring this in across other parts of
the province, if that happens they’ll not stop bonfires people will just
move it off council property,” he said.

Gibson also warned that Orangemen remained angry at restrictions on
their parades, despite the relatively peaceful marching season this
year. He again called for the scrapping of the Parades Commission and
for the infamous Drumcree march in Portadown to once again pass down the
predominately Catholic Garvaghy Road.

“I think that Sinn Fein have moved on from parades politically, whereas
we’re still there and dealing with the legacy of the Parades
Commission,” he said.

Meanwhile, the issue of sectarian flags also remains a concern. Unionist
flags erected in June and are still flying in mixed areas of Belfast,
such as the Ormeau Road in south Belfast and now appear a permanent
fixture.

South Belfast resident Dominica McGowan said there is “clear community
support to remove these flags in shared spaces”.

“However, three months later and there is still no sign of these flags
coming down,” she said.

She added: “The Ormeau Road area is a diverse area and we do not feel
it’s fair to mark the territory with unionist flags, so we are asking
for support for the flags to be removed.”

Union flags and and UVF flags were erected on lamp posts at Global
Crescent and Cantrell Close – housing developments that were part of a
Stormont ‘shared communities’ strategy.

In 2014, the PSNI police said that in future the flying of loyalist
flags in the mixed Ormeau Road area would be treated as a “breach of the
peace”.

But in later years when the flags were again erected, the PSNI said they
would only remove flags if there were “substantial risks to public
safety” or a criminal offence was thought to have occurred.

Loyalists also continue to fly an apartheid era South Africa flag in a
County Down village in an apparent statement of racist hate. The flag is
one of several put up in Moneyslane over the summer and remained up this
week.

The flag, which was replaced as the flag of south Africa in 1994, was
used by the apartheid regime during the years of discrimination by the
white minority over the country’s black majority. Three flags contained
in the centre of the banner include the Union Jack.

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Savage last night questioned the reason for
putting up the flag.

“I would like to know the rationale, what links Moneyslane has to South
Africa, it seems bizarre that this was up there?” he said. “Given its
past and the regime it represented in this day and age it should not
have been flown anywhere in the world.”

INJUSTICE UPON INJUSTICE IN SUPERGRASS ‘TRIAL’

Posted by Jim on

 

There have been protests against the planned use of a paid informer in
the non-jury trial of republican political activist Kevin Braney, the
chairperson of Saoradh in Dublin.

Mr Braney was brought before a sitting of the Special Criminal Court
last month on foot of accusations made against him by ‘supergrass’ Dave
Cullen. Cullen had a murder charge against him dropped by the state
after he agreed to give evidence against republicans.

Mr Braney has previously spent two years on remand on two previous
charges of IRA membership, which were ultimately dropped. Prosecutors
have said they are now seeking a trial before a non-jury court because
“the ordinary courts are inadequate for effective administration of
justice”.

This week, the juryless court heard that in response to being arrested
and charged by the Gardai, Mr Braney denounced the charge as
politically motivated and demanded a fair trial.

As he was being led away, he and supporters shouted “end supergrass
trials”.

Separately, republican prisoners at Portlaoise jail flew a protest flag
out of their cells in a demonstration against the judicial abuses.

In a statement released to the media, Mr Braney said the combination of
a juryless trial and a paid informer made it impossible to prove his
innocence.

He said his family and friends had endured Garda harassment, abuse,
threats, and attempts to set him up.

He also described the years he has already spent or remand as amounting
to internment. After a further six weeks behind bars on remand this
year, he was informed by his lawyer that charges were now being
prompted by the word of the ‘supergrass’ Dave Cullen.

“He [Cullen] has since entered the witness protection programme, in
doing so abandoning his children and family, and is in receipt of
monthly payments,” Mr Braney said.

“Throughout the 1980’s, the British government used ‘supergrass’
evidence extensively against republicans, but all of those cases
ultimately failed when scrutinised by international observers and human
right activists.

“Difficult and all as it is for me or any republican to prove innocence
in the non-jury ‘Special Criminal Court’, it becomes nigh on impossible
when you add a paid perjurer/supergrass to the mix.

“I call upon all republicans and anybody interested in human rights and
natural justice to publically oppose this sinister development.”

The 1916 Societies condemned the use of the “long discredited”
supergrass tactic in the 26 Counties as a means to target and imprison
Irish republicans “without meaningful evidence or due process”.

“We call on those who have set in place this reactionary policy – which
is a fundamental, grotesque violation of the right to a fair trial – to
desist at once,” they said.

“We call for all charges against those concerned to be dropped
forthwith and for those currently imprisoned on the say-so of a paid
agent of the state, Dave Cullen, to be released without further ado.

“To those effected by these reprehensible measures, we extend our
solidarity and support. We call also at this time on republicans and
progressives to join in our opposition to this frightening development,
which is a cause of concern for us all as to the future direction our
society is set toward.”

Disbelief as RHC murder gang seeks respectability

Posted by Jim on

Using a long-standing cover name, loyalist paramilitaries in the UVF
have sought to be legalised in a plan which has brought anger and
incredulity to its victims.

Using the name of the Red Hand Commando, a group of loyalist
paramilitary figures announced that they had travelled to London last
Wednesday to petition the authorities there to be de-proscribed
(legalised).

The British government has said it is considering the application, which
may be related to the group’s attempt to secure ‘peace fund’ payments as
a community group.

In a statement, the organisation sai they “hope that this course being
taken by the Red Hand Commando can lay out a road map for the
transformation of loyalist groups in general.”

The RHC is normally considered to be synonymous with the UVF. Over the
course of the conflict, the murders of twelve innocent civilians have
been directly claimed under the name.

Alan Brecknell, who was seven-years-old when his father, Trevor, was
killed in a no-warning gun and bomb attack on Donnelly’s Bar in County
Armagh, said he could not understand the motivation for the move.

Mr Brecknell said while it was “of course good that loyalists say they
are committed to peace and community development, I cannot understand
why they want to use the name Red Hand Commando.

“Why would a community worker want to call themselves a ‘commando’ of
any kind?

“Every time bereaved families hear the term ‘Red Hand Commando’ it
reminds them of the decades of pain and grief they have suffered. Why
not leave it in the past where, they say, it belongs?”, he added.

Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said: “It is absolutely
scandalous and adds insult to injury of the hundreds of victims of RHC
and UVF.

“The silence from political unionism about this terrorist organisation
stands in stark contrast to their position on republican actors”, he
added.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said any move to legalise the Red Hand Commando
was “ludicrous”.

“How, and more importantly why, would you have a paramilitary
organisation working as a community group? And what does that say to the
victims of this organisation if their status and their activities is to
be somehow legitimised? I am sure victims would find that abhorrent.”

Mr Kelly said the organisation was created as part of the UVF, which, he
said, was still involved in drug dealing and murder. This week, tens of
thousands of pounds in cash raised from drugs sales linked to the
organisation in north Belfast were seized by the PSNI police.

On Monday, the UVF was also blamed for an attack in Larne in which shots
were fired through a bedroom where three children were sleeping. Four
shots were fired at a family home as part of ongoing disorder in the
town. Two masked men armed with shotguns also hijacked a car.

In recent months several properties and vehicles in the Larne area have
been targeted in arson attacks as part of a UVF-related feud. Two cars
were gutted in a blaze at a house at around 3am on Sunday.

Prominent Belfast victims campaigner Raymond McCord implored the British
Direct Ruler James Brokenshire not to lift the ban on the RHC. He said
the loyalist grouping represented “gangsters” who should disband.

“They are not a community organisation, they represent no one except
themselves, they are still involved in crime,” he said.

Central problem for Nationalists has been about consent

Posted by Jim on September 13, 2017

Dominic McSherry.Letters to Editor. Irish News. Belfast.Wednesday, September 13, 2017


It is looking increasingly likely that the DUP, at least in the short-term, is focused on indirectly wielding power in Northern Ireland through the Tory Committee established to administer their supply and demand payoff. This conveniently circumvents the need to work with Nationalists/Republicans on an equal footing in Northern Ireland, something John Taylor recently remarked was not necessary while Unionism remained in the majority. In a sense this is old-style Unionism writ large, simply ignoring the wishes of the large minority in Northern Ireland, and in that sense is deeply disturbing. This harks back to the good old days of Ulster Unionism, when Nationalists knew their place, and everything was as it should be. But it wasn’t, and we’ve 30 years of violent political conflict to evidence that perspective.

The central problem historically for Northern nationalists has been about consent. They did not give their consent to be locked into a British state in 1921, with a predetermined Unionist majority that thwarted any possibility of political change, and which treated them, as John Taylor alluded to, as lesser than [equals]. They did not give their consent to be absented from representation in Dáil Éireann, and instead ruled by an Orange political elite, at the acquiescence of London. Effectively, they were being ruled against their wishes. This type of political sterility was fertile ground for a philosophy that sees the use of violence as the only means to resist political oppression. The emergent IRA saw this as the only solution, as did the ANC.

However, for Northern Ireland hope arrived in 1998 in the form of the Good Friday Agreement, that had at its core the principle of power sharing between Unionism and Nationalism, centered on equality and parity of esteem. This was voted on by the people of Ireland and for the first time in history a political architecture was consented to by Nationalism/Republicanism in The North. This consent is now absent again and this is very concerning.

They say that if you do not learn the lessons of history,  then you risk repeating them. So, my advice to the British government and political Unionism is to be extremely careful at this juncture in our shared history. The failure to resurrect the political institutions and the return to some form of direct rule, will mean that hundreds of thousands of Nationalist/Republicans in Northern Ireland will be ruled against their wishes again.

In a sense Northern Ireland will simply revert to being a colony without its own political institutions and being ruled from a distance by the dominant power. This needs to be avoided at all costs, lest the stench of the cesspit starts to rise again.

Official UFA Communication

Posted by Jim on

Huh 7thSeptember 13th

LT MICHAEL J. VECSI (LADDER 122) MEMORIAL MASS
On Thursday, September 14th  at 0900 hours, a memorial mass will be held honoring the memory of Lieutenant Michael J. Vecsi, L-122, who died on September 14, 2014. The mass will take place at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 4055 Victory Blvd., Staten Island, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.

AFRICAN AMERICAN DAY PARADE
On Sunday, September 17th , permission is granted for off-duty members to participate in the 2017 African American Day Parade. Participating members of the Department should assemble on W. 112th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and St. Nicholas Avenue, NY at 1200 hours. Dress uniform, including white gloves shall be worn. For further information call the FDNY Vulcan Society at 917-570-9017 or FDNY Office of Community Affairs at 718-999-8112.

FF JOHN P. HANNON 20TH ANNUAL MEMORIAL GAELIC FOOTBALL GAMES
Sunday, October 1st at 1pm.  Paddy’s Field, Woodlawn, Bronx.  For more info call Pete Hannon, Engine 95, 917-640-1032.

LT CRUZ ANTONIO FERNANDEZ (LADDER 111) PLAQUE DEDICATION
On Monday, October 2nd  at 1130 hours, a plaque dedication will be held honoring the memory of
Lieutenant Cruz Antonio Fernandez, L-111, who died on July 14, 2006. The dedication will take place in the quarters of E-214 and L-111, 495 Hancock St., Brooklyn, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.

FF JAMES M. DUNN (LADDER 114) PLAQUE DEDICATION
On Friday, October 6th  at 1130 hours, a plaque dedication will be held honoring the memory of
Firefighter James M. Dunn, L-114, who died on September 6, 2016. The dedication will take place in the quarters of E-201/ L-114 and B-40, 5113 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. All off-duty members and their families are invited to attend. Members are requested to attend in dress uniform.

FDNY FIRE MUSEUM FUNDRAISING COOK-OFF
The NYC Fire Museum will once again be hosting the annual FDNY Cook-off Fundraiser. Members wishing to enter the contest with a signature dish that will be judged by three celebrity chefs should contact Noemi Bourdier at the NYC Fire Museum at nbourdier@nycfiremuseum.org (212) 691-1303 x11. The event is open to all Fire/EMS members and will be held on the evening of Thursday, November 2nd in the Museum at 278 Spring Street, Manhattan.

Loyalists considered a bonfire on every corner in response to injunction

Posted by Jim on September 11, 2017


Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast. September 11, 2017

The grand secretary of the Orange Order says loyalists considered building bonfires on ever street corner in response to the legal challenge to pyres on council land in July.

However, the Rev Mervyn Gibson says the decision not to proceed with the protest “reflected well” on his community.

Rev Gibson praised elements within loyalism who helped calm tensions around the July period following a Belfast City Council injunction against four bonfires in Belfast.

At first there were concerns that the injunctions, aimed at controlling bonfires being built on council land, would spark violence among hard line loyalists in the area.

However, the senior Orangeman said the way the situation was handled “reflected well” on the community.

“At one point there was talk of a bonfire on every street corner, that was considered, thankfully they didn’t do that but you can see how it could have ended up,” he said.

“It’s how the court order is interpreted next year that worries me, in that people will now be looking to bring this in across other parts of the province, if that happens they’ll not stop bonfires people will just move it off council property.

“We suggested a few years ago, and I think they’re looking at it now in a couple of places, about a green area making it a bonfire site that could be used at Christmas and other times of the year to hold community events.

“If it’s a site for community use and there were three or for other uses during the year I think that would work.

“I would never disown bonfires, I loved them when I was growing up and they meant as much to me personally then as they do to those young lads now.

“So, it could have easily turned nasty and it didn’t, that was a good thing and reflected well on that community”, Rev Gibson added.

S/F is committed to restoring the institutions

Posted by Jim on September 9, 2017

By Gerry Adams (for Leargas)

In the cut and thrust of negotiations there is always the risk that
someone will say something that makes the process of achieving agreement
more difficult. Sometimes they do that deliberately. Sometimes they are
just stupid. Or tongue in cheek. During the negotiations leading to the
Good Friday Agreement in 1998 the Ulster Unionist politician John Taylor
famously dismissed proposals from Senator George Mitchel saying he
wouldn’t touch them with a ’40 foot barge pole’. Taylor was renowned for
such hyperbole.

Last week he was at it again claiming that nationalists in the North
‘are not equal’ to unionists. He wasn’t alone in making outrageous and
stupid comments. The morning after the DUP leader Arlene Foster made,
what some in the media described as a ‘new offer’ and a ‘compromise
proposal’ to Sinn Fein, her Westminster colleague Sammy Wilson was in
fine ‘Taylor mode’. He said: “They (Sinn Fein) are not a serious party…
we now have the spectacle of a party with seven MPs who don’t go to
their work and 27 MLAs who won’t go to their work – why on earth would
anyone vote for such a bunch of malingerers.”

That’s Sammy doing what he does best. Messing. His problem of course is
that more and more people in the North are voting for Sinn Fein, as
evident in the Assembly and Westminster elections earlier this year.

More crucially, Arlene Foster’s ‘new offer’ – her ‘compromise’ proposal
was nothing of the sort. It came during a period when Michelle O Neill
was exploring the potential of the next phase of talks with other
leaders, including Arlene and the two governments. The same proposal,
that Ministers be put back in place while negotiations continue in
parallel, was suggested by DUP negotiator Edwin Poots in June and raised
some weeks ago by his party colleague Simon Hamilton. It was rejected
then and Arlene Foster knew it would be rejected last week. It wasn’t a
serious effort to resolve the crisis.

And when you think about it why would Sinn Fein agree to go back into
power sharing with the DUP with no agreement in place? On the vague
possibility of possible legislation that may or may be agreed by a DUP
party which thus far has shown no real desire to agree. And if it
doesn’t work we pull the whole edifice down again. That’s not a recipe
for progress, but for disaster.

In addition, as it has tried to put the blame on Sinn Fein for the
current crisis the DUP, and elements of the media, have claimed that
Sinn Fein doesn’t really want to be in the power sharing institutions.
They accuse us of not wanting to have to manage the mess that Brexit is
already creating for the economy of the North, and in particular for our
rural and farming families, and for those living on both sides of the
border corridor. They also say that being in government in the North
undermines our political project in the South.

This is patent nonsense. From the time of the Good Friday Agreement Sinn
Fein’s political strategy has been built on the need for an Executive
and Assembly and all-Ireland institutions. For almost 20 years we have
worked to ensure that these are viable and effective. For ten years –
first with Ian Paisley, then with Peter Robinson and latterly with
Arlene Foster, Martin McGuinness stretched himself and our party to keep
the institutions in place through the most difficult of circumstances.
Martin’s decision in January was reluctantly taken.

It is also a fact that Sinn Fein’s electoral fortunes in the South are
assisted by an Executive and Assembly in place.

In the Oireachtas our political opponents, especially the Fianna Fail
leader Micheal Martin, cynically exploit the absence of the institutions
to attack Sinn Fein. Martin doesn’t care that the status quo continues
to discriminate against nationalists; or that Irish speakers are being
treated as second class citizens; or that commitments in Agreements,
which a Fianna Fail government of which he was part, have not been
implemented; or that LGBT citizens in a part of this island do not have
the right to marriage equality. Martin’s only interest in the current
crisis is to exploit it in his electoral battle with Sinn Fein in the
South.

So, let me be very clear. Sinn Fein is fully committed to the power
sharing institutions agreed in the Good Friday Agreement. However, the
institutions can only work if they are based on equality, respect and
integrity.

Last week’s proposal by the DUP Leader Arlene Foster for a parallel
process did contain a welcome acknowledgement that the Irish language
threatens no one. The crocodiles will be delighted to hear that. And she
did include a promise of legislation. This is welcome also. But more
than soft words are required. So, to ensure there is no misunderstanding
let me repeat what I said last week. There will be no return to the
Assembly or Executive without a stand-alone Irish Language Act and the
resolution of the other outstanding issues.

Britain out of Ireland

Posted by Jim on

——————————————————–
The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) has said it is supporting a
‘border poll’ on unity as part of a new campaign for a United Ireland
outside of the EU. The following is the first section of its new policy
document, ‘Britain out of Ireland – Ireland out of the EU’.
———————————————————

Demographics in the north of Ireland are changing.

Conceived by Britain in 1921 as a gerrymandered state with built in
Unionist majority; generational based political shifts in the six
counties have presented a scenario wherein for the first time ever,
progressive sentiment may tip the balance of public opinion in favour of
ending partition itself.

Since its inception, the Irish Republican Socialist Party have
challenged and rejected the right of the six-county state to exist in
any form, this remains our position today.

In 1998, we opposed the Good Friday Agreement, it’s so called ‘principle
of consent’ and the triple lock system which saw the sectarian state
known as ‘Northern Ireland’ consolidated as a quasi-legitimate entity.

Our outlook in this regard remains constant and standing on the platform
of anti-imperialism, we remain committed to the dismantling of the
British state in Ireland, be that by the utilisation of ‘constitutional
methods’ or outside the confines of the GFA if needs be.

THE CASE FOR A ‘BORDER POLL’

Central to the project of revolutionary change however lies a duty to
recognise political and social reality as it exists at every juncture of
historical development.

The IRSP have traditionally held a sceptical attitude towards electoral
solutions to the British imposed border in Ireland and unlike the
parties of mainstream nationalism, we do NOT recognise the Good Friday
Agreement’s ‘principle of consent’ which in reality amounts to a
reactionary veto on progress towards Irish National Liberation, nor do
we believe that there can be any parliamentary road to Socialism.

In the event of any failure to end partition via so called
‘constitutional’ means, Republican Socialists would be under no more
compulsion to recognise the Unionist Veto than we are today, holding
that it was founded upon the fraudulent coercion of the Irish people who
under a state of duress were compelled to accept the unconstitutional
division of Ireland in 1921.

Such a corrupt constitutional set up never has and never will receive
recognition from the Irish Republican Socialist Party.

However, the demographic and subsequent political shifts currently
being witnessed in the north are occurring at a pace unpredicted by any
political party when the Good Friday Agreement was conceived. It is our
belief that rising progressive sentiment (particularly amongst our
youth) which today seeks an end to partition in our lifetime can
conceivably be harnessed to significantly weaken, discredit and
eventually play a part in dismantling the sectarian northern state
itself.

The fact that this momentum may express itself via the Good Friday
Agreement1 (that is via a ‘border poll’ or unity referendum) presents no
ideological or principled difficulty for the IRSP. Progressive popular
opinion is of greater revolutionary importance than the past or current
programs of any political party and for Republican Socialists to ignore
the sentiments of a progressive section of the Irish working class would
represent no less than arrogant posturing on our behalf. We have no
intention of retreating into such an intellectual morass.

Since our inception ours has been a party that has rejected
abstentionism for its own sake, favouring critical engagement with
established political institutions, when and where to do so would weaken
the power of the state and advance the Irish revolutionary position.
Such were the teachings of our founding members James Connolly and
Seamus Costello in whose tradition we today stand.

It is the considered opinion of the IRSP that in the current
environment, there is more to be gained in actively calling for and
campaigning around a ‘border poll’ for an end to the sectarian state
than there is to be lost.

Similar initiatives in Scotland and Catalonia have introduced thousands
of previously apolitical youths to the concepts and merits of radical
politics there, bringing them onto the streets and into the ways of
progressive activism, arguably changing the political landscapes and
future fortunes of those nations forever.

Thus far, no movement on the left has added their weight to calls for a
border poll here, leaving centrist nationalist parties like the SDLP and
Sinn Fein free to promote their own concept of a United Ireland; united
under the flag of the European Union and so subsequently (and
unavoidably) bereft of Socialist principles or values. Such a setup is
anathema to Republican Socialism and or even basic principles of Irish
independence.

In such a dynamic, it is the duty of the left to intervene, not least to
point out the inherent contradictions in a pro-EU/pro-independence
position, but to harness and mobilise those who wish to challenge in a
non-violent fashion, the ongoing partition of Ireland, while rejecting
the constricted and pro-capitalist values of the EU.

The IRSP understand that the prospect of an immediate and successful
outcome in a border poll is not assured, however it is our belief that
the mobilising of significant numbers around such an initiative (along
with the popular public debate which will undoubtedly follow) may with
time set off a popular momentum for Irish unity which cannot be
reversed.

We feel that such a prospect, however remote in the immediate term, is
vastly more desirable and credible than a return to sporadic armed
actions, which in the current environment can offer nothing but a return
to suffering for Republicans and the Irish working class in general.

In recognition of the above principles, the IRSP takes this opportunity
to call for (at the earliest opportunity) a ‘border poll’ on the issue
of partition in Ireland, and declare our intention to campaign
pro-actively and from a revolutionary socialist platform for a
progressive result, namely an end to partition in Ireland.

Joint authority ‘is out’ – Theresa May

Posted by Jim on

A belligerent British government statement, apparently ruling out a role
for the 26 County government in the running of the Six Counties, has
cast a shadow over efforts to restart powersharing talks in Belfast.

Dublin’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney had said that full
direct rule from London could not be reimposed without the input of the
26 County government.

Under both the Good Friday and St Andrews’ peace agreements, the British
government is under a legal obligation to consult Dublin if
power-sharing in the North fails to function. The DUP/SF Executive in
Belfast has not met for seven months after the late Martin McGuinness
resigned as deputy first minister in a row over a financial scandal and
unimplemented previous agreements.

“There can be no British-only direct rule, that is the Irish
Government’s position,” Mr Coveney said. “It would be very difficult to
even contemplate how direct rule would function in that context.”

However, within hours of his statement the British government issued a
terse retort, saying: “We will never countenance any arrangement, such
as joint authority, inconsistent with the principle of consent in the
agreement.”

In an ominous sign for ongoing talks efforts, it appears the DUP
influenced the British decision to issue a statement rebuking Coveney.

Senior Sinn Fein representative Alex Maskey said the British
intervention represented a “slapdown” for the Dublin government’s
position.

Sinn Fein’s leader at Stormont, Michelle O’Neill criticised the British
government’s statement on power-sharing. She said both governments are
“co-equal”.

“They have a joint and equal role in the process, in safeguarding rights
and implementing the agreements,” she said.

“The Irish government must assert that role and the British government
acknowledge that they are partners in that process.”

The SF leader in the North added that the 2006 St Andrews Agreement had
ended the British government’s ability to suspend the institutions and
impose direct rule.

“It also committed in the event of no agreement to a new British-Irish
partnership to implement the Good Friday Agreement,” she said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said unilateral British direct rule would
amount to “joint Tory-DUP direct rule” and undermine the principles of
the Good Friday Agreement.

“The rapid and extreme response to Minister Coveney’s reasoned statement
bears all the hallmarks of a British government politically controlled
by the DUP,” he said.

“The SDLP are clear that our first choice has always been and will
always be restoring our devolved institutions. We believe that local
decisions on behalf of local people are best made by our local
institutions.”

South Armagh-born Labour MP Conor McGinn accused the British government
of overreacting to Mr Coveney’s “matter-of-fact remarks”

He also claimed it was the latest indication that the DUP was “calling
the Tory tune”.

“The Irish government has a legitimate and constitutionally enshrined
role to play in the north as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday
Agreement,” he said.

‘READY FOR TALKS’

Last week, a DUP proposal to bring back the northern Executive straight
away while discussing culture and corruption issues in a “parallel
process” was dismissed by Sinn Fein.

However, Sinn Fein’s leader at Stormont, Michelle O’Neill, said Sinn
Fein is ready to restart formal negotiations with the DUP, other parties
and the two governments.

Ms O’Neill said: “The Sinn Fein and DUP leaderships have for more than a
week now been engaged in intensified dialogue to determine whether
political progress is possible.

“We do believe progress is possible and are therefore ready to re-engage
in formal negotiations together, and with the other parties and both
governments, to try and reach agreement in a short, sharp and focused
negotiation.

“This process should begin immediately.”

Coalition closer as Adams to step back

Posted by Jim on

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams has made the first step in his gradual
withdrawal from front-line politics in a historic shift which he
believes will help pave the way for a new generation of party leaders.

Mr Adams ended years of speculation over his leadership by confirming
that he will set out his future intentions at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis
[annual conference] in November, a move which will lead to him stepping
aside from the day-to-day political work.

The announcement came at Sinn Fein’s annual ‘think in’ at the Citywest
Hotel in County Meath. Mr Adams said he would detail the party’s
“planned process of generational change” after November.

At the same event last year, both Mr Adams and lifelong ally Martin
McGuinness indicated that they were working towards retirement. Mr
McGuinness passed away in March, and it is now thought likely that Mr
Adams will begin to take on an ambassadorial or honorary role.

Commentators also believe a ‘new generation’ of party figureheads will
be in a stronger position to negotiate possible coalition deals, without
the distraction posed by the allegations of IRA activity often directed
against Mr Adams.

At the party gathering, the 68-year-old told grassroots members of a
plan to achieve “strategic objectives” that includes an “orderly
leadership change”.

He said that if again confirmed as party leader at the Ard Fheis in
November, as expected, he “will be setting out our priorities and in
particular our planned process of generational change, including my own
future intentions.”

Mr Adams said the plan was “about preparing the party for the next ten
years and to ensure that we are better able to achieve our strategic
objectives”.

It is the first time he has indicated a timeframe for the transition,
which could potentially see Sinn Fein’s next leader in the Dublin
parliament become Tanaiste [Deputy Prime Minister] in a future coalition
government under Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin.

Senior Fianna Fail figures have stressed that as long as Gerry Adams
remains as Sinn Fein leader, the party would be blocked from supporting
them in a coalition government because Mr Adams would then automatically
take on the role of Tanaiste.  Despite two decades of peace work, that
would still be politically unacceptable for many Fianna Fail members.

‘TOXIC’

However, another series of bullying allegations against Sinn Fein
management cast a shadow over Mr Adams speech and undermined the
prospects of coalition.

Earlier this week Lisa Marie Sheehy, Sinn Fein’s youngest elected
councillor in the 26 Counties, resigned from the party, citing a
“bullying culture” and a “toxic atmosphere”.

It is estimated about 20 Sinn Fein councillors in the South are
currently affected by various disputes, out of a total of 159, amid
claims of bullying, sham investigations, kangaroo courts, whispering
campaigns and diktats.

A number of senior Sinn Fein politicians, including Martin Ferris,
Pearse Doherty and David Cullinane, have been implicated in the
increasingly public disputes. Ms Sheehy, a 23-year old Limerick
councillor and postgraduate student of politics, described the process of
investigation as a game of “pass the parcel”.

Prominent Tipperary councillor Seamie Morris said his mental health had
been affected by the party’s “dirty tricks”, while Westmeath councillor
Paul Hogan claimed he had received a death threat.

Senior Fianna Fail figures have denounced Sinn Fein’s Machiavellian
approach to internal party dynamics as “cult-like” and requiring
fundamental change before coalition can be considered.

Sinn Fein has denied there is a problem. In each of the instances, a
spokesperson has insisted the issue is localised and a result of
constituency splits, personality disputes, or communication issues.

Questioned about the latest incident by journalists at the ‘think-in’,
Mr Adams responded to the allegations of bullying from Sheehy by
insisting that no such culture exists.

“There is no culture of bullying within Sinn Fein and it’s actually
very unfair to the members of this party that this allegation has been
made,” he said.

Open Letter to Steve Bannon From Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President, Irish National Caucus)

Posted by Jim on September 7, 2017

Open Letter to Steve Bannon
From Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President, Irish National Caucus)

Mr. Steve Bannon
Breitbart
September 7, 2017
 
Dear Steve,
I’ve been wondering if you were any relation to Fr. Bannon (1829-1913) —  the “Confederate Chaplain,” who was born in County Leitrim, Ireland.

Your last name and politics might indicate a close relationship.

However, I now doubt it, because at least Fr. Bannon would not have been anti-Catholic, something which you have, almost stereotypically, declared yourself to be. (And, yes, Catholics can be anti-Catholic).
Your crass and vicious charge alleges that the Catholic bishops are supporting immigrants out of “economic interest” and because “they need illegal aliens to fill the churches.” In other words, the Catholic Bishops are using one of Jesus Christ’s most sacred commands, “Do this in memory of me” — The Mass/ The Eucharist — not in fidelity to the Gospel but to make money (from the poorest people in the country?)

No anti-Catholic outburst could possibly be more offensive to lay Catholics, priests, and Bishops. It is also one of the oldest anti-Catholic tropes in America — and in England, with its historic anti-Catholic oppression in Ireland, and since 1920 in “Northern Ireland.” … So, Steve, get ready to be inducted into the Orange Order, the anti-Catholic, secret-oath-bound, organization in Northern Ireland. You would find it a congenial home: it is almost seen as respectable— like how the White Citizens Council in Alabama and Mississippi were a bit more respectable than the KKK.

Also, of course, to charge that The Mass/The Eucharist is all about making money is like the Nazi’s accusation that the Jews were sucking money out of Germany, which brings us back to another historical foundation: the historic targets of the KKK are Catholics, Blacks and Jews.

Well, this Fermanagh-born Irishman takes his stand with Catholics, Blacks and Jews against the KKK. As Martin Luther, himself,  said in 1521,” Here I stand, I can no other

NEW YORK STATE FREEDOM for ALL IRELAND BULLETIN

Posted by Jim on September 6, 2017

August 2017

A chairde:

FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A-British Collusion no Illusion-Former RUC officer Stephen Weir told the IRISH NEWS, that top British officials were directly complicit with the notorious “Glenanne Gang.” Off-duty members of British crown forces, working with Ulster Volunteer Force loyalists, the gang committed more than 130 sectarian murders, including the horrific Dublin-Monaghan bombings which killed 33 civilians and injured more than 300.Weir said most leaders of criminal loyalist groups were paid British agents, working for the British Army or RUC. He spoke after a Belfast High Court judge ruled that the PSNI had violated the human rights of relatives of the gang’s victims, by shutting down any probe of British state connection to the murders by arming, paying, shielding and directing the murderers.

B- Document Proves Immunity for Killings by British Troops
A top level British Ministry memorandum, uncovered by Relatives For Justice, noted that the British Army “should not be inhibited in its campaign by the threat of Court proceedings.” RFJ Director Mark Thompson, said “we always believed that British Troopers had immunity, now we have concrete evidence.” The sister of murder victim Gerard Gibson said the 1972 document explains why no British troopers were ever prosecuted for his murder or for other killings like Bloody Sunday.

C-Finucane Appeal Granted but new Threats against Lawyers-.
The Finucane family’s legal fight for a public inquiry into the assassination of civil rights lawyer Pat Finucane will now go to the Supreme Court. Pat Finucane was the lawyer for Bobby Sands MP, and other high profile political cases in British courts. He was murdered by British agents after threats from the RUC and at Westminster. British Prime Minister David Cameron reneged on promises of a public inquiry to unearth all the facts of British
state involvement. Meanwhile a report by Human Rights First, titled A Troubling Turn, documents that lawyers who bring legacy cases against British crown forces have received death threats and abuse and triggered by British tabloids calling such cases “witch-hunts”.

D-Internment Day March Halted- a Republican parade which applied to march to Belfast City Center was blocked. This year’s march was intended to highlight the injustice of the Internment by License of Tony Taylor. The Derry Republican was released on license or parole but then suddenly put back in prison without charges or a right to be present or be informed of secret evidence against him. His case is a threat against others including releases under the GFA. He is supported by the SDLP, Sinn Fein and Catholic Church and Independent Republicans. Meanwhile “Britain First” an extreme right wing group was allowed to rally at Belfast City Hall.

SPECIAL ENVOY FOR NORTH MAY BE SCRAPPED

The AOH is opposing plans by the State Department to scrap the post of Special Envoy for the North. The decision to leave the post vacant was contained in a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Chair Corker. Congressman Joe Crowley, called the decision a “major mistake.” AOH PEC Chair Neil Cosgrove, has written to Congress and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urging them to push back against this decision. The post appoints a senior official to provide American monitoring and leadership at a time when the Tory-DUP alliance is deeply worrisome.

NEW YORK FFAI WILL HOST MARK THOMPSON TOUR FOR RFJ

State President Vic Vogel has authorized FFAI to sponsor a one week tour by Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice in January.
RFJ founded in Belfast, in 1991 has played a leading role in supporting the families of victims murdered by British crown forces or in collusion with loyalists. No one knows more about the fight to hold Britain to account and get justice for the victims! Mark has agreed to come because he and the victims rely on American help, especially from the AOH.

Mark Thompson, arrives January 9th,and is tentatively booked for public events in New York City on the 11th and Albany on the 13th.We want your requests to book the open dates on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. We want your help and ideas to get press coverage and political briefings as well as generating money for FFAI. This is a great opportunity for us at a time when events in Ireland show that American and specifically AOH pressure on the British is crucial! Please contact me directly.

FFAI THEMED COMMEMORATIONS AND EVENTS
Brothers, the AOH holds many Memorials, Commemorations, and FFAI related events. I would like to highlight, promote and where possible attend these events.

Recently I mentioned to Tyrone AOH leaders the AOH Memorial and Easter Commemoration in Suffolk County, where Tom Clarke lived before returning to Ireland. The AOH in Tyrone, Clarke’s county, were impressed and are discussing ideas how to give recognition.
Your events and work may inspire others around the state and in Ireland!

Please contact me at MGALVINESQ@AOL.COM.

Slan
Martin Galvin

How Arlene Foster helped Nationalism find its teeth

Posted by Jim on

DUP leader has hardened nationalist resolve like no unionist first minister before her

Eamonn Mallie. Irish Times. Dublin. Monday, September 4, 2017

As long as there was an IRA campaign of violence on this island, there was a large section of the Catholic nationalist community, North and South, who wouldn’t dare state openly: “I am a nationalist.”

In Northern Ireland these Nationalists are now standing up to be counted for the first time, thanks to DUP leader Arlene Foster and the behavior of a number of her colleagues.

There are two reasons why in the past many Nationalists kept their heads below the parapet: they hated the IRA violence; and they felt ashamed at what was being done in their names to fellow human beings, be they British soldiers, police officers, gardaí, Protestants, Catholics, Nationalists, Loyalists or Republicans.

A common refrain on the lips of Catholic nationalist mothers in Northern Ireland in the wake of the killing of a Catholic, a Protestant, a soldier, a police officer, a member of the IRA or a member or a loyalist organization was: “He is somebody’s son.”

The IRA ceasefire, followed by the loyalist ceasefire, followed by the dramatic reduction in soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland – all culminating in the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998 – immeasurably changed the atmosphere and realized an unparalleled stability for the first time in more than three decades.

The leadership in the Assembly and Executive afforded by David Trimble, Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson, in the words of former Northern Ireland secretary of state Patrick Mayhew, “kept the bicycle upright and moving forward”.

Despite many hitches and imperfections in the relationships of Trimble, Paisley and Robinson with their fellow Nationalist ministers, a sense pervaded of Nationalists bedding in at the heart of government, feeling at last that they had an opportunity to exercise real power in the place where they live.

Enter Arlene Foster

Installing power-sharing was a major advance – so much so that both the Dublin and London governments took their eyes off the ball in recent years.

So, where are we today? Deadlocked.

The limited liberal tendencies, however, of Trimble, Paisley and Robinson and their involvement with Republicans and Nationalists at the highest level of government ultimately resulted in their downfalls.

Enter Arlene Foster as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. Early in her tenure of office she struck a more strident note than her predecessors, refusing to engage in a “Forum on Brexit” in Dublin.

She only reluctantly met then taoiseach Enda Kenny to discuss Brexit.

She opted to support Brexit, but the majority of the people of Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union.

This did not deter Foster from parading herself at home and abroad effectively as the prime minister of Northern Ireland, declaring that she spoke for “all” the citizens.

This was despite having presided over the implementation of the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, which could potentially cost taxpayers more than £400,000,000.

And she refused to stand aside for a short period at the request of Martin McGuinness to allow time to evaluate what had happened.

Pernicious habits

By now, other pernicious habits were creeping into practices in the Assembly, with the DUP leadership stifling any and every move by Sinn Féin and other parties to introduce progressive legislation on issues such as same-sex marriage, legacy and an Irish language act.

The DUP, under Arlene Foster’s tutelage, was using a so-called “petition of concern” (a legal instrument designed to protect minority interests such as same-sex marriage) to block movement on all social matters to which they were opposed. The DUP had the necessary numerical strength to do this and ruthlessly deployed the device.

Outside the Assembly chamber, there were growing rumblings in all Nationalist areas, with comments such as “What are nationalists getting up there at Stormont?”

One also heard: “Isn’t the DUP giving them the runaround up there at Stormont?”

Bile was coming to the surface in the Assembly and Foster was not checking it.

Some DUP elected members wilfully set about insulting Nationalists interested in the Irish language while on their feet in the Assembly chamber and outside it.

Chief among the culprits was former minister Gregory Campbell, who mockingly blurted in the Assembly “Curry my yogurt can coca coalyer”, a distortion of the Irish-language term “Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle”.

On another occasion, Campbell jibed Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney, who took part in the hunger strikes in 1980.

“The point is Raymond McCartney, when he was on hunger strike, said he was prepared to go through with this – and he didn’t. He said he was prepared to die – and he didn’t. Somebody says they are prepared to do something and they don’t, is that success or failure?”

In the past two weeks Campbell has on BBC Radio referred to the Gasyard Féile in Derry as the “Gasyard Failure”.

Referencing an exhibition of photos by Martin McGuinness, he added: “The Gasyard failure should be a real bundle of laughs this year. First Marty’s photos (don’t know if there will be the obligatory warning at start in case those of a nervous disposition are viewing), then the serial election loser George (the cat) Galloway. Roll up, roll up, get your tickets please!”

Gaeltacht funding controversy

This habitual deriding of Sinn Féin is one thing, but the contempt for the Irish language was another.

A decision by DUP Minister Paul Givan in December 2016 to unilaterally kill off the Líofa Gaeltacht Bursary Funds Scheme – funds for children to go to the Gaeltacht in Donegal to learn Irish – was interpreted by Nationalists as revenge for the challenge to Arlene Foster to temporarily step aside over her handling of the Renewable Heat Incentive. No evidence has been found to show Ms Foster personally committed any wrong.

Nationalists right across Northern Ireland, who rarely express a political opinion, started asking about Sinn Féin’s stewardship at Stormont.

One member of the GAA community pointedly remarked in a reference to Sinn Féin that “they couldn’t even protect the bit of money for the children going to the Gaeltacht”.

It should be stated that Paul Givan hurriedly restored the £50,000 fund – but the damage was done.

Sinn Féin had been getting the message from the ground of unease at its performance dating back to the Assembly Election in 2016, when Gerry Carroll of People Before Profit topped the poll in west Belfast and veteran civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann took a seat in Foyle, also for People Before Profit.

The crocodile bites

It was the dismissal of an Irish Language Act or Acht na Gaeilge by Arlene Foster in February this year in a pre-election comment that ultimately did for her in the nationalist psyche, particularly in the face of an extremely ill co-equal First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Crudely rejecting the granting of a free-standing’ Acht na Gaeilge (Irish Language Act) as sought by Sinn Féin and the SDLP in the lead into the March Assembly election, she stated: “If you feed a crocodile it will keep coming back and looking for more.”

That was final nail in Arlene Foster’s coffin as far as Nationalists were concerned.

Martin McGuinness had been advised by the hierarchy of Sinn Féin after Christmas that grassroots feelings were at breaking point. The political edifice was toppled by Mr McGuinness on January 16th, 2017. He died on March 21st.

The bringing-down of the Assembly and the Executive proved about as popular in Nationalist Northern Ireland as the IRA ceasefire on August 31, 1994.

Nationalist voting trends have spoken for themselves since Martin McGuinness stepped down as deputy First Minister, bringing an end to the Assembly and the Executive.

The demand for a free-standing Acht na Gaeilge is today’s “One man, one vote” of the Civil Rights campaign of over half a century ago.

It is yesterday’s banner today, and it screams:

“What do we want?

“Equality and Parity of Esteem.”

“When do we want it?

“Now.”

The big test

The demand for a free-standing Irish Language Act is emblematic of a homogeneous, radicalized Nationalist community attitude for which nothing short of full-blooded “parity of esteem” will guarantee a restoration of a devolved government.

To Nationalists, the failure of Unionism to acknowledge parity of esteem is its original sin.

The demand for Acht na Gaeilge is the political 11+ test being set by Nationalists for the DUP and Unionism to move into the big political school with a restored power-sharing administration on the basis of equality and fair play.

On March 4th, 2017, the News Letter – a Belfast-based newspaper read predominantly by Unionists – had splashed on its front page: “Northern Ireland is today waking up to a fundamentally altered political reality: Unionism is no longer a majority in the Stormont chamber for the first time since the creation of the Province a century ago.”

The message coming through to the DUP from nationalism is loud and clear: the days of being treated as second-class citizens are over, as are the days of tolerating abuse of political power.

Foster has done to Nationalism in Northern Ireland what Brexit has done to politics in Britain: she has radicalized Nationalist opinion just as Brexit has traumatized politics in the UK.

She has done more to harden the attitudes of normally moderate nationalist opinion than any of her former fellow first ministers, Trimble, Paisley or Robinson.

The KKK’s war on Catholics

Posted by Jim on

The Klan is known mainly for its racism, but it also long harbored a virulent strain of anti-Catholicism

 Jonathan Wright. Catholic Herald. London. Saturday, September 2, 2017
[Jonathan Wright is an honorary fellow in the department of theology and religion at Durham University. His book Layered Landscapes: Early-Modern Sacred Space Across Faiths and Cultures, co-edited with Eric Nelson, is published by Routledge,]

During its 1920s heyday the Ku Klux Klan was unremitting in its hostility towards Catholicism. As one Arkansas member put it, the loyalty of Catholics was “across the sea and the religion they profess is a foreign religion … the quicker we invite them to go back to the other side of the big pond the better it will be for us”. A typically rabid editorial in one of the Klan’s many periodicals – with the suitably sinister headline “To Your Guns!” – hammered the point home to its readership: “Drop not your fiery cross but carry it over vale and hill till pagan Roman Catholicism is expelled from our fair and free American life forever.”

The Klan pursued a goal of what it termed “100 per cent Americanism” and Caleb Riley explained why this made detestation of the Pope obligatory: “I am an Anglo-Saxon white man, and so constituted and trained that I cannot conscientiously take either my politics or my religion from some secluded ass on the other side of the world.” A Klan member from Mississippi was more succinct: he had no time for “that old dago by the Tiber”.

The fantastical allegations came thick and fast. Every time a Catholic father had a son he would add a rifle to the arsenal stored in the basement of his local church. It paid to be prepared for the great Catholic insurrection that was sure to come. After all, who could fail to notice that two antique cannon at Georgetown University in Washington were pointed directly at the Capitol Building? Worse yet, the Pope had already bought lands close to DC and was planning a “million-dollar mansion” from which he could mastermind the overthrow of the government.

At North Manchester, Indiana, a rumour once circulated that the pope was on board a train from Chicago so Klan members duly assembled at the station in the hope of giving the Pontiff what-for. In Florida, Governor Sidney J Catts, supported by the KKK, spent an inordinate amount of time travelling through his fiefdom warning of an imminent papal invasion of the state.

Ahead of the cataclysm, the Klan explained, Catholics would do their level best to ruin public morals and undermine American values. Klan audiences in the 1920s were routinely treated to speeches by women who claimed to be former nuns: they would often display leather bags in which, it was alleged, the newborn children of illicit liaisons between nuns and priests were carried to church furnaces to be cremated. Did people not realize, a Klan member in Sacramento asked, that “nearly all the bawdy houses, bootleg joints and other dives are owned or controlled by Romanists”?

Tragically, these were not simply the ravings of a fringe group. During the 1920s the Klan was extraordinarily successful.

Its membership probably topped four million and it was spread across all 48 states: 700,000 in Indiana, in the region of 400,000 in Texas and Ohio. The Klan was part of the mainstream of American politics, perfectly capable of determining the outcome of elections great and small.

Campaigns were launched against the provision of federal funds to Catholic parochial schools and Catholic teachers
in the public sector were hounded; in Atlanta, members of the school board who refused to follow the Klan’s whims had their lives threatened.

In some places, the Klan’s power went largely unchecked. When, in 1921, a man confessed to killing a Catholic priest in broad daylight, the jury in Birmingham, Alabama, mostly made up of Klan members, blithely acquitted him. Elsewhere, tensions between the Klan and its opponents boiled over. At Lilly, Pennsylvania, in 1924, a Klan rally descended into chaos and four people died. Twenty-nine rioters, all but four of them Klansmen, were arrested. In Niles, Ohio, when the Klan erected one of its burning crosses in front of a church, local Catholics burned tires outside Klan members’ houses. Such was the pitch of reciprocal violence and menace in Lafayette, Louisiana, that the local bishop urged his flock not to take “cheap revenge upon the Klan”.

By the end of the 1920s, the KKK had managed to divide the Democratic Party and had played a major role in derailing the Catholic Al Smith’s bid for the presidency, but its period of widespread political influence evaporated almost as quickly as it had arrived. The rants continued, of course, just as local politics could sometimes be infected by the Klan’s activities, and the memories of the terrible 1920s would leave deep wounds.

It was important for American Catholics to remember the stories of men like Pearce DeBardeleben, a Catholic store owner from Sylacauga, Alabama, who, in April 1921, was dragooned to the woods by Klan members, flogged with leather straps and punched so brutally that he lost most of his teeth.

The ugly nostrums that allowed the KKK to reach such giddy heights of influence may no longer be bandied about the corridors of power, but it would be remiss of American Catholics to assume that they have entirely disappeared.

Jonathan Wright is an honorary fellow in the department of theology and religion at Durham University. His book Layered Landscapes: Early-Modern Sacred Space Across Faiths and Cultures, co-edited with Eric Nelson, is published by Routledge

RTÉ receives negative feedback over north’s absence from map of Ireland

Posted by Jim on

VISUAL MISREPRSENTATION: More than 200 

complaints were logged by RTE over its use of a map 

of Ireland on which the north was conspicuously absent

Bimpe Archer. Irish News.Belfast.Tuesday, September 5, 2017
MORE than 200 complaints were logged by RTÉ over its use of a map of Ireland on which the north was conspicuously absent.

The broadcaster confirmed the extent of the negative feedback it received yesterday.

“A total of 203 complaints have been received in relation to the data map used on The Late Late Show segment on

Ireland’s Health Divide on Friday night,” a spokesman said.

“RTÉ will respond to these complaints within 20 days, in keeping with RTÉ complaints procedure established under the Broadcasting Act 2009.

“In addition, 33 viewers contacted RTÉ Information offering negative feedback.”

The appearance of the map on Friday night’s The Late Late Show prompted a storm of criticism from nationalists both north and south of the border, as well as some more mocking comments on social media.

Among the joking suggestions were that the image represented an ‘after’ picture following last month’s serious flooding or a future Brexit hard border.

RTÉ has insisted that the map was merely serving as a visual representation of the 2016 census results which consists of data solely from the Republic.

However, that has not satisfied critics who branded it “deeply offensive” and “rank partitionism”

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor found that Catholics have to be outsiders in Britain

Posted by Jim on September 4, 2017

Luke Coppen.The Spectator. London.Saturday, September 2, 2017

(Luke Coppen is editor of the Catholic Herald. London)
Among yesterday’s tributes to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, one stood out. It came not from a churchman, but from one of Britain’s most divisive politicians. Tony Blair described the late cardinal as a ‘wonderful advertisement’ for Christianity.

Now, you might expect a well-known Catholic to say something like that. Some reports did, after all, present Murphy-O’Connor as the man who ‘converted’ the New Labour leader. But while it’s true that the cardinal received Blair into the Catholic Church months after the latter resigned as prime minister, their relationship was complicated. Together they helped to decide the place of Catholics in Britain today – and not in an entirely happy way.

At the beginning of 2007 the cardinal wrote to Blair asking for an exemption from new gay adoption laws. The Cabinet said no, forcing the Church to shut or cut ties with its adoption agencies. The cardinal was furious. In one of our last email exchanges, earlier this year, he confirmed that he still felt strongly about it a decade later.

At times he seemed to blame Blair. But he also recognised that the prime minister’s authority had, by then, all but drained away. There was a small ‘Catholic tendency’ in the Cabinet, but a larger secularist one, led by ministers like Alan Johnson, who had lost a scuffle with the Catholic bishops over church schools a year earlier.

When Murphy-O’Connor succeeded the sainted Basil Hume as Archbishop of Westminster, he took up Hume’s quest to lead Catholics back into the establishment. He did well at first. In 2002, after the Queen Mother’s death, he became the first cardinal in centuries to read at an English royal funeral. That year he was also the first Catholic cleric to preach to the reigning monarch since 1688.

But his tussle with the Blair cabinet confirmed a new reality. The establishment was no longer exclusively Anglican, but it was embracing a new belief system – secular liberalism – that was no less hostile towards the Catholic Church. Hume had glimpsed a place at the heart of British affairs for Catholics; Murphy-O’Connor had discovered that it didn’t exist after all.

But he didn’t give up easily. He considered an offer by Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, of a seat in the House of Lords. He even rehearsed the opening of his first speech (‘As my predecessor, Cardinal Pole, was saying…’) But almost five centuries after Pole’s death, Rome had a different attitude to earthly power and vetoed the idea.

‘There is still a sense that being Catholic is different,’ the cardinal told me after his retirement. ‘You’re not part of the establishment and most Catholics wouldn’t want to be.’ If, in order to gain admission, he was required to abandon Catholic teaching, then ultimately he preferred to remain an outsider.

BBC NI had bias against Catholics

Posted by Jim on September 3, 2017

BBC NI ‘had bias against Catholics’ during Troubles, claims veteran journalist Dillon

 Claire McNeilly. Belfast Telegraph. Saturday, September 2, 2017

A legendary BBC NI journalist has accused his former employers of being biased against Catholics and nationalists during the Troubles.
 
Martin Dillon, who worked as a reporter and producer at the corporation during the worst years of violence, claimed that the BBC “paid scant regard to Nationalist culture or social injustice” at that time, so much so that one of his colleagues described himself as the “token Catholic”.

The renowned author also revealed that, on getting to Ormeau Avenue, he was amazed to witness senior BBC NI executives holding an annual drinks party with Unionist politicians to celebrate the ‘Twelfth’ parade marching past the building.

And Mr. Dillon, an 18-year corporation veteran who introduced the then groundbreaking Talkback programme to Radio Ulster over 30 years ago, further claimed that the Beeb’s Northern Ireland newsroom “relied almost exclusively on information supplied by RUC and British Army press offices”.

His explosive claims, in a new book about his career out on Monday, were challenged by ex-Radio Ulster chief Don Anderson, who told the Belfast Telegraph that it was actually loyalists, not nationalists, who believed that the BBC was biased against them.

Mr Dillon left Northern Ireland 25 years ago following death threats from paramilitaries and now resides in the USA.

He wrote in Crossing The Line: My Life On The Edge that BBC NI tended to appoint mostly high-profile unionist figures – including a former NI Prime Minister’s wife – to the role of Governor, and further accused them of needlessly destroying precious archive film footage of the early days of the Troubles.

“I always felt the BBC did itself a disservice by appointing heavily politicised figures from one community to the role of overseeing broadcasting in Northern Ireland,” he writes. Recalling his attempts to retrieve BBC archive film of the late Brian Faulkner, who would become Northern Ireland’s most senior politician, marching through a predominantly Catholic area of Co Down in the Fifties – because he “believed the footage of Faulkner provided a singularly potent image of how Unionist and Orange Order triumphalism of the period asserted itself” – Mr Dillon said he was “reliably informed” that it had been gifted to his wife when she [Mrs. Faulkner] retired as BBC NI Governor.

He adds: “I informed Lady Faulkner I needed to locate the film. She was not helpful. At the same time, I discovered that most of BBC Northern Ireland’s archive film footage of past political events, including the early days of the Troubles, had been destroyed in the 1970s.”

Mr Dillon said that when he mentioned this, “others hinted the archive was destroyed ‘by mistake'”. They also said “‘somebody’ had given permission to get rid of unnecessary archive files, and the person charged with the task destroyed a large number of files representing a vitally important record.”

Another of the ‘Shankill Butchers’ author’s claims is that a senior BBC NI editorial figure was well-known for refusing to interview a priest in case he upset his friends in the Orange Order. And he reveals: “Others saw Catholics as the source of the violence. These views had the cumulative effect of ensuring BBC news personnel had no lines of communication into the Catholic community.”

Mr. Dillon said his then boss, Cecil Deeney, “was one of a small number of Catholics working in BBC NI programming, and that “there was some truth” when another colleague, Terry Sharkey, once joked about being a token Catholic at the Corporation.

He admits that he was “amazed” when BBC bosses gathered with Unionist politicians and dignitaries to celebrate the Twelfth on the sixth floor of Broadcasting House.

And, during the Ulster Workers Strike in the Seventies, he recalls being “asked by Dick Francis and Ronald Mason to use my paramilitary contacts to acquire UDA passes to get BBC executives through paramilitary roadblocks”.

But the award-winning Falls Road native reserved some of his harshest criticism for the late James Hawthorne, BBC Controller in the late Seventies and Eighties, whom he claimed tried to influence the way he reported the contentious Anglo-Irish Agreement.

“A year had passed since the implementation of the Agreement,” he writes. “Unionists bitterly opposed it,  and I found myself facing criticism from some BBC figures for allowing Unionists to appear on the airwaves to voice their opposition to it.

“One evening, James Hawthorne summoned me to his office to express his displeasure with my coverage of the Agreement. He stressed that I should not forget I was employed by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

“Without issuing an editorial edict, he was in effect telling me, in an underhand way, to get in line with British government policy.”

Don Anderson, who was Mr Dillon’s immediate editorial boss at one time, told the Belfast Telegraph that “loyalists did not like the BBC”.

“Reporters and camera crews working on the streets were quite often attacked by loyalist crowds because they believed the BBC was biased against them,” he said.

“When I was a reporter I was shot at by a loyalist with a revolver. Luckily, it missed.”

Mr Anderson added: “Only Martin can say whether or not James Hawthorne told him to adhere to British policy when it came to reporting on the peace process.”

Dr Hawthorne, who was controller from 1979 to 1989, died in 2006.

Mr Dillon, now in his late 60s, is one of the foremost chroniclers of the Troubles.

A former Belfast Telegraph reporter, he wrote his first book, Political Murder in Northern Ireland, when he was still working for newspapers.

He joined the BBC in the Seventies as a reporter and was later promoted to programme editor. His books include The Shankill Butchers, The Dirty War and God and the Gun.

A BBC spokesman said: “BBC Northern Ireland is proud of its role in reflecting and serving the entire community.

“Accounts of people and events in the past will sometimes differ – and may even be disputed. We cannot comment on the specifics of an unpublished book at this stage.”

IRA Volunteer Tom Williams was hanged at age 19 by the British

Posted by Jim on September 2, 2017

IRA Volunteer Tom Williams was hanged at age 19 by the British on 2
September 1942, 75 years ago today, for his part in a gun battle with
the RUC which left one RUC man dead

‘Executed: Tom Williams and the IRA’, was written by Jim McVeigh. He
writes: “If the history of this small island were compared to a rich
tapestry, then Tom Williams’ story would only be the faintest of
threads. Yet it is a remarkable story and deserves to be told.” The
following are extracts from the book.

Boyhood

Thomas Joseph Williams was born in number 6 Amcomri Street in the
Beechmount area of Belfast on the 12th May 1923. This was a year of
pogroms. Through 1920, 1921, 1922 and into 1923, small Catholic enclaves
right across Belfast came under vicious attack from rampaging Orange
mobs, sometimes with the support of the new forces of the state. Before
moving to Beechmount, Tom’s family had fled the small Catholic enclave
in the Shore Road area of Belfast after their houses were attacked and
burnt.

Tom’s uncle, Terry Williams had been jailed for helping to defend the
Shore Road area from sectarian attack and from his earliest age Tom grew
up hearing these stories of persecution and resistance. But this was
more than folklore – discrimination and sectarian violence continued to
be a daily reality for Catholics in the northern state.

Tom was the third child of a family of six. His brother Richard was the
eldest, followed by Mary, who died of meningitis at the age of three.
Tom was next and then baby Sheila, who died shortly after birth. Indeed
Tom’s mother Mary died shortly after giving birth to Sheila at the young
age of 29, leaving Tom in the care of his father, Thomas. Life was hard
and early death commonplace at that time, especially among children.

Tom, who was still only a toddler, and his brother Richard went to live
with their Granny Fay at 46 Bombay Street in the Clonard area of
Belfast. A great bond of love and affection was to develop between Tom
and his granny and it was upon her knee and in this small district that
he began to learn of the struggle for Irish independence.

As soon as he was old enough, Tom joined Na Fianna Eireann, the
republican scout organisation founded by Countess Markievicz in 1909,
becoming a member of the Con Culbert slua in the Clonard area. Alfie
Hannaway, a boyhood friend of Tom’s and his OC in Na Fianna, remembers
appointing Tom to the rank of Quarter Master for the Company.

The C Company slua, which comprised over 30 boys from the district,
spent much of their time drilling, in fitness activities and on occasion
scouting for the IRA.

Manhood

For most working class Catholics, discrimination meant that employment
opportunities were limited, and Tom was only able to find work as a
message boy and as a labourer. He worked for a period in Greeves’ mill
and even found work in the Docks area in the aircraft factory there.

In the months before his arrest, he worked in a printing firm. Almost
everywhere he worked his sincere and friendly personality as well as his
willingness to work hard, endeared him to his workmates and employers.
These were qualities which would impress almost all who met him.

As soon as he was of age, Tom joined the IRA and at 17 became a
Volunteer in C Company in the Clonard area where he lived. At the time,
C Company’s area of command ran the length of the Lower Springfield
Road, along the Falls Road from Beechmount to Conway Street,
encompassing the streets in between. By the time Tom joined the IRA in
1940, it was already two years into its campaign and feeling the effects
of arrests on both sides of the border.

Like most other young Volunteers, Tom was an enthusiastic supporter of
this campaign and was probably ignorant of the growing difficulties the
IRA leadership were facing. When Britain declared war on Germany on
Sunday 3 September 1939, many republicans, including the young Tom,
believed that the war presented the IRA with an opportunity to strike.

Tom was soon appointed Adjutant of C Company and in the months before
his final arrest, at the young age of 18, he became the officer
Commanding. In 1942 C Company had seven Sections with around ten
Volunteers in each Section. His appointment to the rank of Company OC
was a considerable responsibility for one so young.

Comrade

Easter has an important place in the republican calendar, and in 1942,
Belfast republicans were determined to commemorate the 1916 Rising. The
problem was that since the 1920s republican parades of any description
had been banned. It was decided by the IRA leadership in Belfast that
three separate Easter parades would be held and that a number of
diversionary operations would be carried out in other areas across
Belfast.

Tom, as the OC of C Company, was instructed by his Battalion staff to
make the necessary preparations for an operation in the Clonard area. A
volley of shots was to be fired over an RUC patrol car that regularly
passed by the corner of Clonard Gardens and the Kashmir Road and the
Volunteers were to withdraw safely.

In the days preceding the operation, Tom selected and briefed those
Volunteers who would take part; eight in total, including Tom himself.
The youngest of the group, Margaret Nolan, was just 16 years old, the
oldest 21. They met on the day of the operation and around 2.30pm took
up their allotted positions.

Shortly after 3pm, an RUC patrol car carrying four constables turned
into Clonard Street and headed towards the junction of Clonard gardens
and the Kashmir Road. All four [RUC men] were armed with their service
revolvers; in addition McMahon carried a pump action shotgun.

As the Ford V Light car passed the junction into Clonard Gardens, Tom
and his comrades opened fire. One of the bullets struck the car,
smashing a rear window but missing the occupants.

Constable Williamson accelerated into Clonard Gardens, where instead of
hastily driving away, Lappin, McMahon and Murphy alighted, drew their
weapons and set off at a run back towards Cawnpore Street and the scene
of the shooting. The stage was now set for a confrontation that would
have far reaching and tragic circumstances.

As the last of the IRA group entered the back kitchen [of number 53],
they alerted Tom and the rest of the group to the presence of the RUC on
their tail, within seconds all hell broke loose in the tiny back kitchen
and scullery. In the controversial statement that Tom later made to the
RUC while in hospital, he described what happened:

“I ran into the scullery.There is a little glass enclosure in the yard
and from the scullery window I could see a policeman coming into this
enclosure with his gun drawn. When he was about three yards from me and
beside the kitchen window, I pointed my revolver at his body and fired
one shot. He staggered and fired back and I fired four or five more
shots at his body.”

At least two other weapons were fired. According to forensic evidence
given at the trial, three of the rounds that struck Murphy were fired
from a Webley revolver, the weapon fired by Tom, and two others from the
short Webley. Before being fatally wounded in the heart, Murphy fired
three rounds from his revolver, whilst the fourth misfired. All three
rounds found their mark, striking Tom in his left thigh and once in his
left forearm.”

Prisoner

“Following their arrest, all eight were eventually charged with
Murphy’s killing. The two young women were moved to Armagh Jail, while
the men were taken to Crumlin Road Jail, except for Tom, who for the
moment lay under armed guard in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Soon Tom was discharged from the jail hospital and joined his comrades
on the Wing. Joe Cahill recalls their first meeting. Tom appeared to be
`standoffish”. Sensing that something was wrong he spoke to Tom alone.
Upset, Tom explained that he had broken an IRA order and had made and
signed a statement to the RUC.

Tom said that while lying injured, he had been told by a doctor and by
members of the RUC that he was dying from loss of blood. Then, as now,
the IRA ordered its captured volunteers not to cooperate in any way with
the enemy authorities. Despite this, Tom decided to make a statement
accepting sole responsibility for the killing in the hope that it would
save the lives of his comrades.

The trial began on 28 July in number one court, Crumlin Road Courthouse.
Seated in the dock were Tom and his five comrades. Weeks before, the
charges of murder against their two women comrades had been dropped. The
younger of the two, Margaret Nolan, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge
and was released with a recorded sentence. Marge Burns was immediately
rearrested and interned in Armagh prison.

The defendants were represented by Cecil Lavery, reputed to be one of
the best defence barristers in Ireland at the time. On the prosecutors’
bench sat John Clarke McDermott, attorney general for the Six Counties.
McDermott was an ex Unionist MP and Stormont minister. Having served as
a British officer during the First World War, his unionist sympathies
prompted him to join the B Specials in the 1920s.

The trial judge’s unionist credentials were no less impeccable. A
committed unionist, Edward Sullivan Murphy was elected unionist MP for
Derry City in 1929. A proud and devoted Orangeman, he held the position
of deputy Grand Master within the Order for a number of years.”

Condemned

“The court was silent as the foreman, Thomas Stevenson, rose to read
the verdict. He declared, by a unanimous decision, that all six men were
guilty of murder but that in the case of Pat Simpson they were
recommending mercy because of his youth. On receiving the verdict of the
jury, all six young men stood to attention one by one and made a brief
statement.

Tom was the last to speak. In a loud and steady voice he declared: “I
am not guilty of murder. I am not afraid to die.” The black cap was
then placed on Murphy’s head and he passed sentence on the six. Almost
immediately an appeal was lodged on behalf of the six and the date of
execution was postponed pending its outcome.

Within a few short weeks of the trial, their appeal was heard by Judges
Babington, Andrews and Brown. On 21 August the previous verdict of the
court was upheld and the new date of execution set for 2 September.
Their only hope now lay with the Reprieve Campaign that was being
mounted on their behalf outside the prison.

The first act of the campaign was the gathering of a petition calling
for clemency. When the petition was handed to the Minister of Home
Affairs at Stormont on 21 August, it contained almost a quarter of a
million signatures. It was signed by prominent personalities such as
Cardinal McRory, three other Catholic bishops, hundreds of Catholic
priests and a large number of Protestant clergy, as well as Sean
MacBride and a considerable number of MPs and TDs.

Under pressure, de Valera instructed his government officials to
intervene on behalf of the six young IRA volunteers. U.S. Secretary of
State Cordell Hull took up the case with the British government. The
U.S. State Department was urged by Senate and Congressional leaders to
intervene. Even the Vatican intervened, pressing the British government
to reprieve the men.

On Sunday 30 August the Stormont government issued a statement through
the Governor of Northern Ireland. Shortly before the statement was
issued, Tom and his comrades were called to a legal visit. When they
entered the room they were sombrely greeted by their solicitor D.P.
Marrinan. He looked at each of them in turn and finally turned to Tom
and said: “I’ve good news for everyone except Tom.”

He then told them that all but Tom had been reprieved. There was a
stunned silence for a few moments, and then Tom was the first to speak:
“Don’t grieve for me, remember, from day on this is how I wanted it. I
wanted to die and I’m happy that you five are going to live.”

Martyr

“By all accounts, that September morning was shaded by a dark sullen
sky overheard. A silence lay across the jail. from the evening before, a
large crowd had gathered near the jail and in the hours before the
execution many of them knelt quietly in prayer. Throughout Ireland,
Catholic churches were filled to capacity for morning mass. In many
towns and cities, streets were blocked as hundreds and in some cases
thousands stood in silence as a mark of respect.

Tom rose early that morning, dressed, washed and shaved. At around
6.30am he celebrated mass with Fathers Alexis and Oliver and again at
7.15am with Fathers McAllister and McEnaney. Shortly before the stroke
of eight, the cell door opened and the two executioners entered,
accompanied by the prison governor and a number of prison and city
officials.

The main executioner, an Englishman, was Thomas Pierrepoint, assisted by
his nephew Albert. Pierrepoint bound Tom’s arms behind his back with a
long leather strap. As the buckle of the leather strap was fastened, the
two prison guards present moved to either side of a large wooden locker
which stood against one of the walls. The locker was lifted to reveal a
door – the door to the gallows. Without a falter in his step, Tom calmly
walked the last few paces of his life.

A half an hour after the execution, Tom’s five comrades were led from
their cells to the prison chapel. The jail was silent. So too was the
chapel, except for the sobs of the small group. One of the priests
present began to say Mass but broke down weeping. Another priest stood
up and continued with the Mass. When the ceremony was over, all present
gathered in the sacristy. It was Father Alexis who spoke. “I met the
bravest of the brave this morning.”

Principles keep you on the true path

Posted by Jim on

The oration delivered by Padraig Garvey, of Republican Sinn Fein in
Kerry, at the annual hunger strike commeration organised by the
independent Bundoran / Ballyshannon 1981 H-Block Commemoration
Committee.

Here today we remember all those who died and who took part in the 1981
H-Block hunger strike. Hunger strike is an ancient form of protest in
Ireland. In more recent times it has been used by the suffragettes in
their struggle to gain votes for women as well as by Irish Republicans
in the struggle for political status and the freedom of our country.”It
is the most dramatic form of protest, the last resort; it shows huge
courage and commitment. It destroys the oppressor’s narrative of
criminality and selfish motives on the part of the jailed which the
oppressor used to justify their methods.

We see the elements that drove the 1981 hunger strike. British injustice
in Ireland; Britain’s attempts to portray freedom fighters as criminals
and the resistance of the Irish people to this. The resistance, I feel,
we can learn from.

The first point is the commitment of the prisoners. These were the
people at the sharp edge of the British oppression and without their
determination nothing could have happened.

Next is popular public support. Most Irish people knew in their hearts
that the protest was right. A well-organised, committed movement to
drive the protest on the outside.

Adherence to long-standing Republican principles gave the protest an
inner strength. The basic beliefs that ‘England had no right in Ireland,
never had a right in Ireland and never will have a right in Ireland’.

The belief that through the All-Ireland Republic the Irish people had
the best means of living in peace, fairness and prosperity together. If
we look back at history we see those basic elements of the H-Block
protests were there that brought success to the Republican Movement.

Between the 1916 Rising and the Tan War it was welcome home rallies for
freed prisoners, protests against conscription, the hunger strike of
Thomas Ashe, and the running of abstentionist candidates in by-elections
that built on the support gained from the Rising up to the general
election of 1918 and the establishment of the First Dail Eireann in
January 1919. The establishment of the All-Ireland Republic smashed any
notion of legitimate British rule in Ireland.

It was from this broad support that the IRA were able to wage a
successful campaign. It took threats, treachery, betrayal and the
dropping of principle by some to over throw what had been achieved.

Again, in the late 1940s and early 1950s it was the commitment that
drove the revival of the Movement from a very low ebb. They raided for
arms and ran in council elections and as abstentionist candidates in
Leinster House and Westminster elections. This built a nationwide
support base for later campaigns. Although the Border Campaign was not
successful it did create the core which led to the Provisional campaign
from 1969 on. It was with that ousting of that leadership that
abstentionism was dropped in 1986 and the road to Stormont taken.

The need to build popular support based on Republican principles is as
important today as ever. Often the talk of popular support ism used with
talk of dropping principles or joining with other groups. The principles
we hold underpin the Irish Republic. We cannot see the Irish Republic as
the legitimate government authority in Ireland and also give some
support to other institutions who would claim authority in Ireland.

Abstentionism from Stormont, Leinster House and Westminster is not just
some old hard- line, dead-end principle but is necessary if we are to
call ourselves Republican. Abstentionism must not be used as an excuse
not to engage with public debate. We can run in council elections in the
Free State and take seats and use these, along with pickets, protests to
put Eire Nua, SAOL NUA and the wider Republican position to the people.
Terence MacSwiney was Lord Mayor of Cork and elected to the First Dail
and Bobby Sands and Kieran Doherty were also elected TDs.

When we look back on 1981 we remember those who gave their lives and
those who were prepared to give their lives for a principle. Principles
are powerful things. They keep you on the true path. When discarded you
are directionless. By holding true to our principles, the principles of
the 22 martyr hunger strikers; by openly and proudly promoting them, a
free, united and socialist Ireland is guaranteed.

Derry museum occupied over memorial including British soldiers

Posted by Jim on

Two women who lost loved ones in the conflict have occupied the Museum
of Free Derry in the city’s Bogside, refusing to get out at closing time
and sleeping overnight on the floor after a row over a notorious
exhibition which equates Bloody Sunday victims with their killers.

Helen Deery, whose 15-year-old brother Manus was shot dead by a British
soldier in 1972, and Linda Nash, whose 19-year-old brother William was
killed on Bloody Sunday in the same year, are outraged that their loved
ones names are part of an exhibition which also names dead British
soldiers.

The names of everyone killed in the conflict from 1969 to 1972 – IRA
Volunteers, civilians, British Army and police – flash up on a screen on
one visual exhibition at the Bogside Museum.

This week, the women brought overnight bags, sleeping bags and pyjamas
into the museum, sat in the foyer with ‘victims betrayed’ placards and
refused to leave at closing time. They slept on the concrete floor
overnight and say they will do so every night until the exhibition is
taken down.

“We are occupying the Museum of Free Derry and we are not coming out
until that display is down,” said Ms Deery.

“We have tried every other form of protest to have them take our loved
one’s names down. I have told them on numerous occasions of the hurt and
anxiety that this is causing me and other family members. I am staying
here until they take this down.

“I have my pyjamas and a sleeping bag with me. I slept on the concrete
floor last night.

“I have eight pins in my legs and a spine injury and am very sore this
morning. But I am adamant that I am not leaving.

“I am Manus’ voice now. His next of kin. I want to keep his name sacred.
He was just a child.”

Linda Nash, whose brother William was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, says
the presence of her loved ones name alongside British soldiers who died
is ‘hurtful’.

“This is another thing that keeps me awake at night,” she said. “It is
wrong. I am staying here until I see them physically take the exhibition
down. I want to see them delete my brother’s name from it.

“We are here to hold a peaceful protest. We don’t want any confrontation
at all. We are just sitting down. We have even been giving tourists an
explanation as to what we are doing when they asked.

“We are not going to make a fuss, we’re just going to live here until
they take it down. If we are arrested, we will let the police take us
out, but as soon as we are released we will be going back in. This has
to end now.”

In early June the museum received a petition of over 1,000 names in
protest at the display, with a promise that it would respond.

“We have been repeatedly rebuffed and can withstand the insult to the
memory of our relatives no longer,” the women said.

“We will remain inside the Museum in peaceful protest until the
offending exhibit has been permanently removed.

“The management at the museum have been given since the beginning of
June to respond to our concerns and have repeatedly sought to ignore the
hurt they have caused or to delay a mature response. They have pushed us
to this action and we will now see it through.”

Republican Sinn Fein offered its solidarity to the two women and claimed
Sinn Fein of being behind the exhibition and the museum “by proxy
through its membership”.

They accused Sinn Fein of rewriting history, “whitewashing the
bloodstained pavements and trying to cover the cracks of this abnormal
society.

“Included in this process was their attempt to end the Bloody Sunday
marches despite the fact that there still has not been a single
conviction against any member of the British murder squad who carried
out the execution of innocent civilians on that day.”

“They have seen it appropriate now to include those innocent people
killed on Bloody Sunday along with other victims of British murder
squads such as Manus Deery, in an electronic memorial with the same
people who murdered them, also there are IRA volunteers included on this
memorial.”

GLENANNE PLOT ‘WENT TO THE TOP’

Posted by Jim on

A former RUC police officer this week said he believed the British
government was aware of the activities of the Glenanne Gang’s death
squads at the very highest level.

The gang, made up of members of the RUC, UDR and UVF, operated across
the Mid-Ulster area in the mid 1970s. It is believed to have carried out
around 120 murders, the majority of which were innocent Catholics.

It included Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson, a notorious unionist
paramilitary commander and RUC (now PSNI) Special Branch agent linked to
scores of murders.

John Weir, who held the rank of sergeant and became involved in the
activities of the notorious gang, said that senior officials in Downing
Street would have been aware of their operations.

His comments came just weeks after a High Court judge ruled that the
PSNI had unlawfully frustrated any chance of an effective investigation
into the gang.

“They were feeding information direct to government,” he said.
“Obviously some of it was going through their senior officers but not
all. Some of those men, they themselves were connected to parliament.

“And I know that and I also know that they know that even the very
bottom of army intelligence, which I don’t think in a way were that
capable a lot of them, but they knew all about Glenanne.”

“Glenanne was watched, every movement from there was watched and that’s
when I was in that area, I know that, every car that went in and out of
the place, they had the number of the cars.

“So what I’d say – why didn’t anybody make any effort to stop it?
Everything stops at the people who were operating rather than see where
it was really coming from and why it was allowed to go on. “If they knew
this was going on why did they allow it to continue?”

He said the truth behind many events that took place during the conflict
are already known, but that the authorities will resist the truth
emerging.

“Everybody knows who did what and who’s behind what,” he said. “But at
this present time it all stops with….. a few rotten apples at the bottom
of the barrel. But it goes much, much higher than that. If people have
nothing to hide, let them bring the truth out.”

“And when I’m talking about governments, I mean the Irish government as
well as the British government.”

Sinn Fein representative Linda Dillon said in light of the comments
there needed to be a thorough investigation into collusion between the
British state and the Glenanne Gang.

“There is a greater onus than ever on the PSNI to come back to the
courts and set out how it intends to address the families’ concerns,”
she said.

DISCLOSURE ORDERED

Meanwhile, the British Army and PSNI police have been ordered to
disclose intelligence files in a major legal action over collusion
behind the Miami Showband Massacre, which has been linked to the
Glenanne Gang.

Three members of the popular band were taken from their tour bus and
shot dead on a country road after a gig in Banbridge, County Down in
July 1975. Band members were made to line up at the side of the road
while attempts were made to hide a bomb on the bus.

The device exploded prematurely, killing some of the murder gang. The
remainder then opened fire on the band members, murdering three of them.
Two others were also injured, but survived the atrocity.

A lawyer representing survivors and relatives of murdered group members
confirmed that the High Court has directed more than 80 categories of
documents are to be made available on the attack.

They are understood to include material held on ‘The Jackal’. The UVF
boss Jackson, a one-time UDR member who operated with the Glenanne Gang,
was linked to one of the murder weapons by fingerprints. Before he died
in 1998, Jackson admitted he had been tipped off by a senior RUC man to
lie low after the killings.

Despite facing the order to hand over the files, the British authorities
may still try to retain some files by securing a ‘Public Interest
Immunity’ order for secrecy in the name of “national security”.

Following the development, lawyer Michael Flanigan said: “This is a case
in which collusion is self-evident.

“The documents which the court has ordered disclosure of will go some
way to explaining how that collusion came into effect, resulting in the
loss of the lives of these innocent, talented young men.”

An Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on September 1, 2017

August 31st

FRED’S TEAM, NYC MARATHON
Members of the FDNY BFI will be running the NYC Marathon to support cancer research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYC’s premier cancer research and treatment facility. They are part of Fred’s Team and the money they raise goes directly to MSK. Please be generous in supporting cancer research. Suggested donation is $10/pp. Please click on the link to donate and share the link via social media.

http://mskcc.convio.net/site/TR/RunsWalks/FredsTeam?team_id=59045&pg=team&fr_id=2921&_ga=2.155459643.1829518167.1504099856-57033811.1485437743

IAFF TO ESTABLISH HURRICANE HARVEY DISASTER RELIEF
The IAFF response team arrived in Texas at the Houston Local 341 union hall, where the IAFF has established disaster relief operations. General President Schaitberger is on his way to meet with affected members and assess the situation. Thousands of IAFF members’ homes are in some of the worst hit areas, and already dozens have reported severe damage by the rising waters – with many more to come. Yet members continue to work around the clock, rescuing thousands, while at the same time knowing that their own homes are likely under water.
The best way to help your brothers and sisters is with a donation to the IAFF Disaster Relief Fund, which provides assistance to IAFF members affected by major disasters.
Donate today with a tax deductible contribution online or make a $10 donation by texting DISASTER to 50555*

www.iaff.org/disasterrelief
PLEASE DO NOT SELF DISPATCH TO THE DISASTER ZONE. For additional updates, visit the IAFF website.

NEW ROCHELLE AFFORDING HOUSING LOTTERY APPLICATIONS
Applications are now being accepted for affordable housing units at Heritage Homes Phase III, Winthrop and Brook Streets, New Rochelle, NY 10801. Applications may be obtained in person at 542 Main Street 3rd Floor, New Rochelle, NY 10801 or at www.cornellpace.com. To request by mail :send a self-addressed legal-sized envelope with your application request to ‘Cornell Pace’ at the above mentioned address.

NYC LABOR DAY PARADE 2017
The UFA will be marching and showing solidarity with the rest of NYC’s Central Labor Council on Saturday, September 9th 2017 at 10am. We are NYC and workers here set the standard that other cities follow. We come from all backgrounds and all walks of life, and we all play an important role in helping to keep NYC a world class, union-made city. Parade steps off from 44th Street & Fifth Avenue. For more information:(212)-604-9552 or visit www.nycclc.org .

WTC MEMORIAL WALL CEREMONY

Posted by Jim on

To date, 127 names are listed on the World Trade Center Memorial Wall at FDNY Headquarters. On Thursday, September 7th at 4pm, a ceremony will be held at FDNY Headquarters where 32 names of new fallen heroes will be added to the wall.

Firefighter Gary E. Celentani E-233 November 25, 2002
Lieutenant Cruz A. Fernandez L-111 July 14, 2006
Firefighter Robert J. Ventriglia E-207 November 2, 2010
Firefighter James M. Hicks E-7 July 25, 2015
Firefighter Thomas A. Lynn E-5 October 23, 2015
EMT Norman Valle Sta. 20 January 6, 2016
Firefighter Thomas Farrell L-41 March 25, 2016
Firefighter Robert W. Johnson E-81 April 10, 2016
Fire Marshal Gregorio Morales BFI July 30, 2016
Firefighter William E. Woodlon E-21 August 20, 2016
Lieutenant Ronald D. Biller E-151 September 18, 2016
Captain Vincent R. Ungaro E-235 October 1, 2016
Firefighter Paul F. Santoro E-259 October 15, 2016
Firefighter John A. Dunn E-230 November 7, 2016
Firefighter Harry L. Davis Sq-18 November 11, 2016
Lieutenant Raymond W. Alexander E-70 November 21, 2016
Firefighter Joseph P. O’Toole L-41 December 12, 2016
Firefighter Kevin A. Rooney E-42 January 22, 2017
Firefighter Brian J. Masterson M-9 January 22, 2017
Firefighter Robert F. DiGiovanni L-144 January 27, 2017
EMS Lieutenant Edith Elida Torres EMS Communic February 8, 2017
Firefighter Robert E. Newman B-4 February 9, 2017
EMT Rose M. Scott EMS Communic February 15, 2017
Lieutenant Steven Sorger E-6 March 11, 2017
EMS Lieutenant Mario Bastidas Sta. 58 April 1, 2017
Firefighter Roy E. Smith E-156 April 2, 2017
Firefighter James J. Lanza L-43 April 6, 2017
Paramedic Mark A. Harris Sta. 23 May 13, 2017
Firefighter Raymond J. Pfeifer E-40 May 28, 2017
Lieutenant William J. Kelly L-116 June 10, 2017
Firefighter William J. Gormley L-174 June 14, 2017
Marine Engineer Robert W. Alexander M-1 August 14, 2017

Fraternally,
Gerard Fitzgerald, President
Robert Eustace, Recording Secretary

Radio Free Eireann Saturday September 2nd

Posted by Jim on

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin co-host.

RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday September 2nd on WBAI 99.5 FM radio or wbai.org at 12noon New York time or 5 pm-6pm Irish time or listen any time after the broadcast on wbai.org/archives.

Tyrone AOH President and former Republican political prisoner GERRY McGEOUGH will explain the controversy surrounding the upcoming Hibernian Day Parade with special honors to families of the 1981 Hunger Strikers.He will also talk about the connection between the Irish and the Carribean and why a new statue to Irish patriot,Henry Joy McCraken is going up in Dublin rather than locations where he was born or executed by the British.

KATE NASH , the sister of one of the innocent Civil Rights Marches killed on Bloody Sunday in Derry will speak about why families of the Bloody Sunday victims are protesting at the Free Derry Museum

MICK O’BRIEN of the DRIUDS Irish rebel band will talk about their upcoming American tour and documentary on the band and why an appearance by the band in Belfast has sparked calls to stop government funds for festivals where Irish rebel music is played.

RADIO FREE EIREANN can be heard live in New York on 99.5FM or on wbai.org on Saturdays noon-1pm New York time or 5pm to 6pm Irish time or listen any time after the broadcast on wbai.org/archives (programs are listed in date and time order)

Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon-1pm New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and wbai.org

It can be heard at wbai.org in Ireland from 5pm to 6pm or anytime after the program concludes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Lord Kilclooney says Nationalists ‘are not equal’ to Unionists

Posted by Jim on August 31, 2017

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, August, 31, 2017

A former senior Ulster Unionist who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement has claimed northern nationalists are not equal to unionists.

John Taylor, now cross-bench peer Lord Kilclooney, told The Irish News that a unionist majority meant nationalists could not claim equality – though they were entitled to equality of opportunity.

On a day when five Stormont parties voiced their support for an Irish language act, he defended his controversial remarks – originally made on Twitter – and said Sinn Féin was “dictating terms” with calls for standalone language legislation.

The former UUP deputy leader, MP, MEP and Stormont minister has previously called for Scotland to be re-partitioned in the event of a vote for independence.

His comments on equality are likely to fuel debate about a perceived lack of respect from unionists for Irish nationalist culture.

Speaking from his home in Armagh, Lord Kilclooney said he found Twitter’s 140-character limit “restrictive”, which meant tweets were “sometimes misconstrued”.

However, he said he was standing by his assertion that nationalists and unionists “are not equals”.

“What I’m saying is that all people, nationalists in particular, must have equal opportunity with everyone else,” he said.

“But when it comes to equality, which is the word used by Sinn Féin, they are a political minority in Northern Ireland.”

Asked whether it was merely an issue of meaning or one that had real political implications, Lord Kilclooney responded: “I get worried when Gerry Adams talks about equality – and I make the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of political support.

“The distinction is to ensure that each individual in Northern Ireland is equal in life’s opportunities, whereas politically it means nationalism is a minority political force.”

He claimed Unionism had increased its majority in June’s general election because “Michelle O’Neill went to Loughgall and praised the IRA murder gangs”.

“That really roused the Unionists and they came in greater force and they voted DUP,” he said.

The former minister in the old Unionistbut they had to “recognize they are a minority and can’t dictate terms”.

Lord Kilclooney also said it was “increasingly evident in my opinion” that support for The Union among the Catholic population was growing.

Power of the MacBride Principles

Posted by Jim on August 30, 2017

“Several documents refer to the government’s difficulties combating the influential MacBride Principles, an anti-discrimination campaign in the USA that acted as guidelines for US companies doing business in Northern Ireland.”

Mark Devenport . BBC-NI. Belfast.Friday, 25 August 2016

…A series of documents from the 1980s reveal the Northern Ireland Office’s attempts to promote political dialogue against a backdrop of continuing IRA and loyalist violence.

They cover events in the 1980s running up to 1989.

The files come from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

They have been released under what is known as the 30/20 rule, which refers to the phased release of files that used to be kept secret for 30 years but will in future be released after 20 years.

Throughout this period the government struggled with how to address deprivation in areas like west Belfast, where Catholic male unemployment was running at 47%.

Dr. Phoenix came across one strongly worded document from April 1987 written by Sir Ken Bloomfield, the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Difficulties

Sir Ken spoke of west Belfast’s “ghetto mentality” and alienation “from normal civilized behavior.”

He feared that if the government engaged in efforts to regenerate West Belfast, Unionists might respond “on the lines of “do you have to kill British soldiers… to benefit from a cornucopia of assistance?”

Despite these concerns, the government signed off on a major development programme for deprived areas in Belfast in 1988.

Several documents refer to the government’s difficulties combating the influential MacBride Principles, an anti-discrimination campaign in the USA that acted as guidelines for US companies doing business in Northern Ireland.

Secretary of State Peter Brooke wrote to cabinet colleagues that the implementation of what he called tough and radical new fair employment laws would be crucial to the success of the government’s Northern Ireland policies and to perceptions abroad, especially in the United States

DUP won’t share equal power with Nationalists

Posted by Jim on

[“At no point in Unionist history has courageous political leadership been shown; instead, encouragement of insurrection and sedition.”]

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, August 30, 2017.

ANOTHER summer is over: another Unionist defeat. This time it’s bonfires. Statues and emblems will follow close behind.

Not at all you say. There will be plenty of bonfires next summer and statues and emblems will remain in place.

True, but that’s not the point. It’s part of a long slow inexorable process with many stops and starts.

The process is two-fold. First, Unionists are being compelled to obey the law and , secondly, they’re being compelled to recognize the existence of an Irish Ireland in the north.

Both changes are being achieved by legal means, unusual in The North.

Take the first point. Every place has its origin- myth, often invented to bolster self-confidence and esteem, rarely based on fact.

For example, heroic French resistance in the last war, though historical research indicates now the phrase ‘French resistance’ is an oxymoron.

There’s the origin -myth of modern Britain based on the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ and the D Day landings, even though they were a sideshow. The Red Army won the war while the Americans concentrated on the Pacific.

The Unionist origin -myth is based on a much more dishonorable claim. The origin of The North, given to Unionists in 1921[ by the 1920 Government of Ireland Act] was based on lawlessness, sedition and defiance of the British government.

As a result, their belief developed that they could do anything they liked and get away with it.

That was reinforced in 1974 when Unionists – political, paramilitary and civilian – defied the British government successfully once again.

Unionists passed laws that suited them, and openly disobeyed any laws they didn’t like, but the game’s up.

They tried a repeat unsuccessfully in 1985 with the Anglo-Irish Agreement and got nowhere.

They’re still at it. They profess loyalty to Britain but still, after 20 years, refuse to accept the Parades Commission and its rulings.

The difference is that without their own Administration they no longer control the legislation nor, more importantly, the courts, the police and the councils.

As usual, buoyed up by their origin -myth, they have been defying a whole range of laws with bonfires but they are literally hoisted by their own petard.

The bigger the bonfire the more likely Unionists are to be stopped legally. Belfast councillors led the way and next year all across The North dangerous intimidating towering bonfires will be blocked.

Oh yes, of course there will be some, but they will be the exception. It’s the beginning of the end.

On the second point, statues and emblems, Sinn Féin have craftily proposed erecting Nationalist versions rather than demolishing Unionist ones.

Across The North, councils have the power to do it – and they will. Exclusively “Unionist space “ will vanish. Unionists no longer own The North nor have the power to exclude any vestige of Irishness.

In all this, Unionist politicians have consistently played their graceless, cowardly role.

They’ve played on the gullibility of the wilder elements of their supporters as they always did, but at the same time stabbing them in the back.

Unionists publicly supported dangerous toxic bonfires but secretly voted against them, then denied they had.

At no point in Unionist history has courageous political leadership been shown; instead, encouragement of insurrection and sedition.

Before this year the worst recent example was during the infamous ‘fleg’ [flag] protests in 2013.

The terms of trade in politics have changed and Unionist politicians know it, but they won’t tell their supporters, and still use them in their traditional role as cannon fodder.

Voices like Rev Harold Good’s appealing for generosity and the need to discuss the future of Unionism and a Unionist society now faced with rapid demographic change, at best fall on deaf ears, at worst are received with vituperation.

Sammy Wilson’s latest appeal for direct rule, in itself no surprise from perhaps the most thoughtless Unionist MP, speaks volumes.

At bottom, it’s an appeal to restore some system of administration here which doesn’t involve sharing power with Nationalists.

Individual DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] members find it distasteful to have to share power with Sinn Féin but that party represents the overwhelming majority of northern Nationalists.

The reluctance to share power on equal terms with their fellow citizens is nothing new for Unionists.

They wouldn’t [even] share power with the SDLP [Social Democratic snf Labor Party] who were harmless.

Retired Firefighter Michael O’Hanlon Engine Company 68

Posted by Jim on August 29, 2017

WTC related death

Retired Firefighter Michael O’Hanlon
Engine Company 68

  

Wake:
Thursday, August 31st from 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm
Yorktown Heights Funeral Home
945 E Main Street
Shrub Oak, NY 10588
914-962-0700

Funeral:
Friday, September 1st at 10am
Church of the Assumption
920 1st Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
914-737-2071

 
All Off-Duty Members should attend in Class A Uniform.

Fraternally,
Gerard Fitzgerald, President
Robert Eustace, Recording Secretary

British government officials ‘knew about loyalist Glenanne Gang’

Posted by Jim on August 28, 2017

A member of the notorious loyalist killer group, the Glennanne Gang, has told how he believes its leader personally killed more than 100 people and dismissed suggestions that a public inquiry would exposed the truth. In a rare interview from his home in South Africa, John Weir insists that a truth commission is the only way that victims will get closure.

Connla Young. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, august 28, 2017

A FORMER RUC officer and member of the notorious Glenanne gang has claimed the British government was aware of the group’s activities at the very highest level.

John Weir, who held the rank of sergeant, was speaking just weeks after a High Court judge ruled that the PSNI unlawfully frustrated any chance of an effective investigation into suspected state collusion with the sectarian killer gang.

Made up of members of the RUC, UDR and UVF, it operated across the Mid-Ulster area in the mid 1970s.

Based out of a farm owned by former RUC officer, James Mitchell in Glenanne in south Armagh, the gang is believed to have carried out around 120 murders, the majority of which were innocent Catholics.

Now one of its most prominent members, former sergeant John Weir, has said that the establishment of a truth commission and amnesty may be the only way some of the darkest secrets of the Troubles will ever be revealed.

Originally from Co Monaghan, he was a member of the RUC’s Special Patrol Group in Armagh when he became involved in the activities of the Glenanne Gang.

The former policeman gave evidence to the 2003 Barron Report – which examined the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings that claimed the lives of 33 people and an unborn child.

He and another former colleague William ‘Billy’ McCaughey were convicted of taking part in the murder of father-of-seven William Strathearn (39) at his home in Cullybackey, Co Antrim, in April 1977.

The former Derry GAA player and shopkeeper had opened his front door at 2am after the gunmen said they needed aspirin for a sick child.

Convicted in 1980 he was released from prison in 1993 and later went to live in Nigeria.

Now living in South Africa, the former policeman last said that senior officials in Downing Street would have been aware of the group’s activities.

“Of course they would,” he said in an interview with the Irish News.

“How would they not be?

“Right, for example, the army commanders……do you mean to say that those men were not actually feeding information.

“Even they were feeding information direct to government.

“Obviously some of it was going through their senior officers but not all.

“Some of those men, they themselves were connected to parliament.

“And I know that and I also know that they know that even the very bottom of army intelligence, which I don’t think in a way were that capable a lot of them, but they knew all about Glenanne.”

After last month’s court ruling relatives of people killed by the gang demanded an independent inquiry be set up.

However, the 66-year-old believes that only a truth commission can provide answers to bereaved relatives.

He added that all families who lost relatives during the Troubles should benefit from similar court rulings.

“I would support independent enquiries into anything but I think independent enquiries, most of them have not produced anything,” he said.

“The first thing they have to do is do away with any threat of prosecution for those years,” he said.

“It is a waste of time anyhow because with the GFA (Good Friday Agreement) nobody is going to do any time anyhow.

“So why not just basically have an amnesty for those years – for absolutely everybody right across the divide.

“Before that would be brought in, or in conjunction with tha, t then a commission would set up where all sides, loyalists, republicans and of course security services, security forces, everybody is going to come out and tell the truth.”

Mr Weir believes any process to examine the past must go right to the top.

“I don’t think an independent inquiry gets anywhere, we have had the HET, we’ve got independent inquiries, have they ever come out above a certain level – it stops,” he said.

“You talk about Glenanne Gang, I know that’s a name, but where does it stop.

“It stops with the likes of us, it doesn’t go (up).

“Nobody talks about the MI5 boys and all the intelligence people.

“They were all visiting Glenanne, nobody talks about that.

“Glenanne (James Mitchell’s farm) was watched, every movement from there was watched and that’s when I was in that area, I know that, every car that went in and out of the place, they had the number of the cars.

“So what I’d say – why didn’t anybody make any effort to stop it?

“Everything stops at the people who were operating rather than see where it was really coming from and why it was allowed to go on.

“If they knew this was going on why did they allow it to continue?”

He said the truth behind many events that took place during the Troubles are already known.

“Everybody knows who did what and who’s behind what,” he said.

“But at this present time it all stops with….. a few rotten apples at the bottom of the barrel.

“But it goes much, much higher than that.

“If people have nothing to hide, let them bring the truth out.

“And when I’m talking about governments, I mean the Irish government as well as the British government.”

He believes authorities will resist the idea of a truth commission.

“They are not going to do that, and that’s why everybody is avoiding it, and that’s why nobody wants a truth commission, and that’s why the truth always stops at a few dirty apples as they call them, along the line no matter what the investigation is about.

“They never come out and tell the truth – and truth is MI5 and Special Branch run the civil war for x number of years.

“Surely everybody nowadays can see that.

“And they killed their own as well, you know.

“It’s not as if it’s all a one sided thing – there’s a much killing done on both sides with the backing of the authorities.

“Both sides have suffered but its just one side, the unionist side, the loyalist side that is a bit reluctant to come out and make a big fuss about it because they feel they are closer to the security set up at the time.”

Weir also claimed that the majority of paramilitaries during the mid-1970s were working for state agencies.

“It’s a bit complex in that way,” he said.

“But I would say 80 percent high ranking loyalists worked for MI5 or for Special Branch or for somebody else.”

“And I would say 50 percent on the republican side were doing it.”

He said searches were often “stopped by Special Branch”.

“Army commanders, nobody (was) happy at the time, they thought their hands were tied,” he said.

He also said that loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces shared close ties.

“It was all very, very plain at the time and you had loyalists, on the loyalist side UDA, UVF, they were ether in the UDR or their brothers were in the RUC or UDR so they were all very, very closely knit so it was understandable they were all working together,” he said.

“It was all worked to bring about what you have now, a type of peace where you have got the two extremes sort of in power.

The former sergeant said that high ranking RUC officers knew of his involvement with the Glenanne gang and repeated previous claims that senior officers including Chief Superintendent Harry Breen were aware of the collusion.

Mr Breen was shot dead along with his colleague Superintendent Bob Buchanan outside the village of Jonesborough, Co Armagh, as they made their way back from a meeting with Gardai in Dundalk.

In 2013 the Smithwick Report found that there was collusion between the IRA and Gardai in the killing of the two officers.

Weir also said that a former head of Special Branch, Assistant Chief Constable Brian Fitzsimmons, who was based in Newry at the time, was also aware of the activities of the Glenanne Gang.

Mr Fitzsimmons was killed with 28 other people when the military Chinook he was travelling in crashed in at the Mull of Kintyre in June 1994.

Weir said that while serving in Newtownhamilton in Co Armagh he was approached by people who were aware of his activities and suggested targets to him.

He claims he was even asked to join the British army at the time.

“To be quite honest I thought I was untouchable,” he said.

“I thought that if anyone bothered with me or what I was doing that it would just destroy everybody so actually I didn’t think anybody could touch me.”

Weir said that during his time in the Glenanne Gang he was also tipped off by RUC colleagues about police surveillance that had been placed on him

He said regrets about the past don’t dominate his life.

“Often people will say they have regrets, just saying you have or you haven’t regrets, it’s much bigger than just saying that off the cuff because everybody who ended up in the situation and for many reasons has regrets.

“Regrets that you went through all this but on the other hand I do understand it.

“It’s not as if I’m running about in a state of depression every day, ‘I shouldn’t have done this, I shouldn’t have done that’- because that is not the case.”

He also poured cold water on jail house conversions experienced by many who took part in the conflict.

“You see at that time I seen all these people, even some of them now, they turn religious and they come out and condemn themselves but I don’t really put a whole lot of weight on that because you see at that time what people did they were not forced into it, they were not actually forced into it, that’s on all sides,” he said.

Slain priests’ courage worthy of remembrance

Posted by Jim on August 27, 2017

Fr. Patrick McCafferty. Letters to the Editor. Belfast Telegraph. Saturday, August 26, 2017

In the community I serve as pastor, Corpus Christi Parish in west Belfast, the summer months of July and August mark the anniversaries of two profoundly traumatic events, 46 and 45 years ago respectively, that continue to cause pain, in 2017.

On August 9, 1971, Fr. Hugh Mullan was shot and killed as he ministered to wounded and dying parishioners. That same day, Frank Quinn, Noel Phillips, Joan Connolly, Danny Teggart, Joseph Murphy, Eddie Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr, Paddy McCarthy and John McKerr were also shot dead. Eleven months later, on July 7, 1972, Fr Noel Fitzpatrick, also a curate in Corpus Christi, was killed in the exact same circumstances. Three teenage parishioners – Margaret Gargan (13), John Dougal (16) and David McCafferty (15), along with 39-year-old Paddy Butler – died with him.

The Parish of Corpus Christi comprises the main areas of Ballymurphy, New Barnsley, Springhill and Moyard. The parish is unique, in the north of Ireland’s history of violence, in that two of its priests, within 11 months of each other, were killed in the exercise of their priestly ministries.

During the darkest of days, F.r Mullan and Fr. Fitzpatrick were faithful to their priesthood and to God’s people. Without hesitation, they went into the midst of the gravest danger, to bring Christ in his sacraments, to dying men, women and children; to whisper into their parishioners’ ears the Gospel words of comfort and hope, as their lives ebbed away on streets close to their own front doors.

The men and women, boys and the young girl killed, in what have become known as the Ballymurphy and Springhill massacres, were innocent people shot dead by the British Army. The trauma and suffering of their families, for close to 50 years now, has been deepened and exacerbated by refusals to acknowledge the grave wrong, perpetrated against innocent civilians and an entire community, in the summer months of 1971 and 1972.

The early 1970s were years of atrocious suffering for everyone in Northern Ireland. Hundreds of people lost their lives – soldiers, police, civilians and paramilitaries. Thousands of people were plunged into grief. There still exists an ocean of deep sorrow in the hearts of the surviving relatives of those murdered and slain, during those terror-filled days.

To this day, the relatives of the victims of the Ballymurphy and Springhill massacres seek justice for their murdered relatives. Added to their demands for vindication, are the appeals, also, of the families of those innocents murdered at Kingsmill (January 1976) and Teebane (January 17, 1992), for honest admittance of the sheer magnitude of the unjustifiable evil that was visited upon them, in those and so many other atrocities.

The God who is loved and worshipped by Christians, Catholic and Protestant, in the north of Ireland, is the God of justice, who hears the victims’ cries and who champions their cause against the cruel and violent. This is the true God whom Fr Mullan and Fr Fitzpatrick served and preached, along with countless other Catholic priests and Protestant ministers, during the Troubles.

The self-sacrifice of two priests during the worst violence of the Troubles is worthy of note. Their fidelity is a light in the darkness of those times and their courageous witness is worthy of remembrance as our entire community continues to seek healing of the deep wounds that still cause pain in many hearts today.

The most audacious Australian prison break

Posted by Jim on August 26, 2017

The most successful prison break in Australian history was an
international rescue effort that took years to organise, and which
finally freed six Irish republicans from a British jail in Fremantle.

By Gilbert King (for smithsonian.com)

The plot they hatched was as audacious as it was impossible–a
19th-century raid as elaborate and preposterous as any Ocean’s Eleven
script. It was driven by two men–a guilt-ridden Irish Catholic
nationalist, who’d been convicted and jailed for treason in England
before being exiled to America, and a Yankee whaling captain–a
Protestant from New Bedford, Massachusetts–with no attachment to the
former’s cause, but a firm belief that it was “the right thing to do.”
Along with a third man–an Irish secret agent posing as an American
millionaire–they devised a plan to sail halfway around the world to
Fremantle, Australia, with a heavily armed crew to rescue a half-dozen
condemned Irishmen from one of the most remote and impregnable prison
fortresses ever built.

To succeed, the plan required precision timing, a months-long con and
more than a little luck. The slightest slip-up, they knew, could be
catastrophic for all involved. By the time the Fremantle Six sailed into
New York Harbor in August, 1876, more than a year had passed since the
plot had been put into action. Their mythic escape resonated around the
world and emboldened the Irish Republican Brotherhood for decades in its
struggle for independence from the British Empire.

The tale began with a letter sent in 1874 to John Devoy, a former senior
leader with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, known as the Fenians.
Devoy, who was born in County Kildare in 1842, had been recruiting
thousands of Irish-born soldiers who were serving in British regiments
in Ireland, where the Fenians hoped to turn the British army against
itself. By 1866, estimates put the number of Fenian recruits at
80,000–but informers alerted the British to an impending rebellion, and
Devoy was exposed, convicted of treason and sentenced to 15 years’ labor
on the Isle of Portland in England.

After serving nearly five years in prison, Devoy was exiled to America,
became a journalist for the New York Herald and soon became active with
clan na gael, the secret society of Fenians in the United States.

Devoy was in New York City in 1874 when he received a letter from an
inmate named James Wilson. “Remember this is a voice from the tomb,”
Wilson wrote, reminding Devoy that his old Irish recruits had been
rotting away in prison for the past eight years, and were now at
Fremantle, facing “the death of a felon in a British dungeon.”

Among the hundreds of Irish republican prisoners in Australia, Wilson
was one of seven high-profile Fenians who had been convicted of treason
and sentenced to death by hanging until Queen Victoria commuted their
sentences to a life of hard labor. After being branded with the letter
“D” for “deserter” on their chests, the Fenians were assigned
backbreaking work building roads and quarrying limestone beneath an
unforgiving sun. “Most of us are beginning to show symptom of disease,”
Wilson wrote. “In fact, we can’t expect to hold out much longer.”

Devoy was also feeling pressure from another Fenian–John Boyle O’Reilly,
who had arrived at Fremantle with Wilson and the others, only to be
transferred to Bunbury, another prison in Western Australia. O’Reilly
grew despondent there and attempted suicide by slitting his wrists, but
another convict saved him. A few months later, with help from a local
Catholic priest, O’Reilly escaped from Bunbury by rowing out to sea and
persuading an American whaling ship to take him on. He sailed to the
United States and eventually became a poet, journalist and editor of the
Catholic newspaper the Boston Pilot.

But it wasn’t long before O’Reilly began to feel pangs of guilt over his
fellow Fenians’ continued imprisonment in Fremantle. He implored his
fellow exile John Devoy to rally the clan na gael and mount a rescue
attempt.

It was all Devoy needed to hear. Escape was entirely possible, as
O’Reilly had proved. And he couldn’t ignore Wilson’s letter, imploring
him not to forget the other Fenians that he had recruited. “Most of the
evidence on which the men were convicted related to meetings with me,”
Devoy later wrote. “I felt that I, more than any other man then living,
ought to do my utmost for these Fenian soldiers.”

At a clan na gael meeting in New York, Devoy read Wilson’s “voice from
the tomb” letter aloud, with its conclusion, “We think if you forsake
us, then we are friendless indeed.”

Devoy put the letter down and in his most persuasive voice, shouted,
“These men are our brothers!” Thousands of dollars were quickly raised
to mount a rescue. The original plan was to charter a boat and sail for
Australia, where more than a dozen armed men would spring the Fenians
out of prison. But as the planning progressed, Devoy decided their odds
would be better using stealth rather than force.

He convinced George Smith Anthony, a Protestant sea captain with whaling
experience, that the rescue mission was one of universal freedom and
liberty. Before long, Anthony concluded that the imprisoned Fenians were
“not criminals,” and when Devoy offered the captain a “hefty cut” of any
whaling profits they would make, Anthony signed on. He was told to set
out to sea on the whaler Catalpa as if on a routine whaling voyage,
keeping the rescue plans a secret from his crew; Devoy had decided that
it was the only way to keep the British from discovering the mission.
Besides, they were going to need to return with a full load of whale oil
to recoup expenses. The cost of the mission was approaching $20,000 (it
would later reach $30,000), and one clan na gael member had already
mortgaged his house to finance the rescue.

Devoy also knew he needed help on the ground in Australia, so he
arranged for John James Breslin–a bushy-bearded Fenian secret agent–to
arrive in Fremantle in advance of the Catalpa and pose as an American
millionaire named James Collins, and learn what he could about the place
they called the “Convict Establishment.”

What Breslin soon saw with his own eyes was that the medieval-looking
Establishment was surrounded by unforgiving terrain. To the east there
was desert and bare stone as far as the eye could see. To the west, were
shark-infested waters. But Breslin also saw that security around the
Establishment was fairly lax, no doubt due to the daunting environment.
Pretending to be looking for investment opportunities, Breslin arranged
several visits to the Establishment, where he asked questions about
hiring cheap prison labor. On one such visit, he managed to convey a
message to the Fenians: a rescue was in the works; avoid trouble and the
possibility of solitary confinement so you don’t miss the opportunity;
there would be only one.

Nine months passed before the Catalpa made it to Bunbury. Captain
Anthony had run into all sorts of problems, from bad weather to faulty
navigational devices. A restocking trip to the Azores saw six crew
members desert, and Anthony had to replace them before continuing on. He
found the waters mostly fished out, so the whaling season was a
disaster. Very little money would be recouped on this trip, but
financial losses were the least of their worries.

Once Breslin met up with Captain Anthony, they made a plan. The Fenians
they had come for had been continually shifted in their assignments, and
for Breslin’s plan to work, all six needed to be outside the walls of
the Establishment. Anyone stuck inside at the planned time of escape
would be left behind. There was no way around it.

To complicate matters, two Irishmen turned up in Fremantle. Breslin
immediately suspected that they were British spies, but he recruited
them after learning that they had come in response to a letter the
Fenians had written home, asking for help. On the day of the escape,
they would cut the telegraph from Fremantle to Perth.

On Sunday, April 15, 1876, Breslin got a message to the Fenians: They
would make for the Catalpa the next morning. “We have money, arms, and
clothes,” he wrote. “Let no man’s heart fail him.”

Anthony ordered his ship to wait miles out at sea–outside Australian
waters. He would have a rowboat waiting 20 miles up the coast from the
prison. Breslin was to deliver the Fenians there, and the crew would row
them to the ship.

On Monday morning, April 16, the newly arrived Irishmen did their part
by severing the telegraph wire. Breslin got horses, wagons and guns to a
rendezvous point near the prison–and waited. He had no idea which
prisoners, if any, would make their way outside the walls that day.

But in the first stroke of good luck that morning, Breslin soon had his
answer.

Thomas Darragh was out digging potatoes, unsupervised.

Thomas Hassett and Robert Cranston talked their way outside the walls.

Martin Hogan was painting a superintendent’s house.

And Michael Harrington and James Wilson concocted a tale about being
needed for a job at the warden’s house.

Moments later, Breslin saw the six Fenians heading toward him. (It might
have been seven, but James Jeffrey Roche “was purposely left behind
because of an act of treachery which he had attempted against his
fellows ten long years before,” when he sought a lighter sentence in
exchange for cooperating with the British, Anthony later wrote. The deal
was ultimately rejected, but the Fenians held a grudge.) Once on the
carriages, the escapees made a frantic 20-mile horse-drawn dash for the
rowboat.

They hadn’t been gone for an hour before the guards became aware that
the Irishmen had escaped. Breslin and the Fenians made it to the shore
where Anthony was waiting with his crew and the boat. The Catalpa was
waiting far out at sea. They’d need to row for hours to reach it. They
were about half a mile from shore when Breslin spotted mounted police
arriving with a number of trackers. Not long after that, he saw a coast
guard cutter and a steamer that had been commandeered by the Royal Navy
to intercept the rowboat.

The race was on. The men rowed desperately, with the authorities and the
British, armed with carbines, in hot pursuit. To spur on the men,
Breslin pulled from his pocket a copy of a letter he had just mailed to
the British Governor of Western Australia:

This is to certify that I have this day released from the clemency of
Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, etc., etc.,
six Irishmen, condemned to imprisonment for life by the enlightened and
magnanimous government of Great Britain for having been guilty of the
atrocious and unpardonable crimes known to the unenlightened portion of
mankind as “love of country” and “hatred of tyranny;” for this act of
“Irish assur- ance” my birth and blood being my full and sufficient
warrant. Allow me to add that in taking my leave now, I’ve only to say a
few cells I’ve emptied; I’ve the honor and pleasure to bid yon good-day,
from all future acquaintance, excuse me, I pray. In the service of my
country,

John J. Breslin.

The Fenians let out a cry and the crew kept rowing for the Catalpa,
which they could now see looming in the distance. But the steamer
Georgette was bearing down, and the wind was rising–the beginnings of a
gale. Darkness fell and waves came crashing down on the overloaded boat
as it was blown out to sea. Captain Anthony was the picture of
confidence, giving orders to bail, but even he doubted they’d make it
through the night.

By morning, the Georgette reappeared and went straight for the Catalpa.
The Georgette’s captain asked if he could come aboard the whaler.

Sam Smith, minding the Catalpa, replied: “Not by a damned sight.”

The Georgette, running low on fuel, then had to return to shore. Anthony
saw his chance, and the Fenians made a dash for the whaler, this time
with a cutter joining the race. They barely made it to Catalpa before
the British, and the ship got under way. Anthony quickly turned it away
from Australia, but the luck of the Irish seemed to run out. The wind
went dead, the Catalpa was becalmed, and by morning, the Georgette,
armed with a 12-pound cannon, pulled alongside. The Fenians, seeing the
armed militia aboard the British ship, grabbed rifles and revolvers and
prepared for battle.

Captain Anthony told the Fenians the choice was theirs–they could die on
his ship or back at Fremantle. Though they were outmanned and outgunned,
even the Catalpa’s crew stood with the Fenians and their captain,
grabbing harpoons for the fight.

The Georgette then fired across Catalpa’s bow. “Heave to,” came the
command from the British ship.

“What for?” Anthony shouted back.

“You have escaped prisoners aboard that ship.”

“You’re mistaken,” Anthony snapped. “There are no prisoners aboard this
ship. They’re all free men.”

The British gave Anthony 15 minutes to come to rest before they’d “blow
your masts out.”

The Catalpa was also perilously close to being nudged back into
Australian waters, with no wind to prevent that from happening. It was
then that Anthony gave his reply, pointing at the Stars and Stripes.
“This ship is sailing under the American flag and she is on the high
seas. If you fire on me, I warn you that you are firing on the American
flag.”

Suddenly, the wind kicked up. Anthony ordered up the mainsail and swung
the ship straight for the Georgette. The Catalpa’s “flying jibboom just
cleared the steamer’s rigging” as the ship with the Fenians aboard
headed out to sea. The Georgette followed for another hour or so, but it
was clear the British were reluctant to fire on an American ship sailing
in international waters.

Finally, the British commander peeled the steamer back toward the coast.
The Fenians were free.

The Catalpa arrived in New York four months later, as a cheering crowd
of thousands met the ship for a Fenian procession up Broadway. John
Devoy, John Breslin and George Anthony were hailed as heroes, and news
of the Fremantle Six prison break quickly spread around the world.

The British press, however, accused the United States government of
“fermenting terrorism,” citing Anthony’s refusing to turn over the
Fenians, and noted that the captain and his crew were only “laughing at
our scrupulous obedience to international law.” But eventually, the
British would say that Anthony had “done us a good turn; he has rid us
of an expensive nuisance. The United States are welcome to any number of
disloyal, turbulent, plotting conspirators, to all their silly
machinations.”

The Fremantle Six still carried the torment from their ordeals at the
Convict Establishment, and despite their escape, the men remained
broken, Devoy noted. He’d known them as soldiers, and he was not
prepared for the changes that ten years under the “iron discipline of
England’s prison system had wrought in some of them.”

Still, the Fenians had reinvigorated the spirits of their fellow Irish
nationalists at home and abroad, and the tale of their escape inspired
generations to come through both song and story:

So come you screw warders and jailers
Remember Perth regatta day
Take care of the rest of your Fenians
Or the Yankees will steal them away.

Collusion and the abuse of power

Posted by Jim on

By Gerry Adams (for Leargas)

On Monday of this week the families and friends of Fran O’Toole, Tony
Geraghty and Brian McCoy remembered their loved ones who were killed
when members of the Glenanne Gang attacked the Miami Showband as they
returned home from a successful gig in Banbridge on July 31 1975 outside
Newry. The survivors have been fighting for justice ever since.

Last Thursday, as part of the ongoing battle around truth and legacy,
around 40 relatives were in a courtroom in Belfast to hear the outcome
of a case taken by one of the families against the PSNI. Patrick Barnard
aged 13 was one of four people killed in a bomb attack on the Hillcrest
Bar in Dungannon in March 1976. It was one of scores of attacks carried
out by the Glenanne Gang, which included in its ranks members of the
British Army, the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), the RUC, and unionist
paramilitaries. In what is a significant judgement the High Court
concluded that the PSNI breached its human rights obligations by
refusing to publish an overarching thematic report regarding the murder
of Patrick and “its linkage to other murders and offences carried out by
the Glenanne Gang.”

During the 1970s, when the gang was active, it was responsible for over
120 killings, and scores of injuries, including the Dublin and Monaghan
bombs in May 1974 which killed 33 people, and the bomb attack in
December 1975 at Kay’s Tavern in which two Dundalk men Jack Rooney and
Hugh Watters were killed. In 2001 a Commission of Inquiry under Mr.
Justice Henry Barron was established by the Irish Government. Four
reports were published and a Sub-Committee of the cross-party Joint
Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights
conducted an extensive examination of the reports. The Sub-Committee
concluded “that given that we are dealing with acts of international
terrorism that were colluded in by the British security forces, the
British Government cannot legitimately refuse to co-operate with
investigations and attempts to get to the truth.”

The Sub-Committee was right. But the British have consistently and
illegitimately refused to co-operate. It is now clear that policing,
intelligence and political elements within the British system have
sought to frustrate families and victims getting to the truth of the
Glenanne Gang and its actions.

The judgement last week by Mr Justice Treacy, sitting in the High Court
in Belfast, was given in a case taken by Edward Barnard, the brother of
Patrick. Edward’s legal team argued that the PSNI was in breach of a
package of measures agreed between the British government and the
Committee of Ministers (CM), which is responsible for implementing
judgements by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). These measures
had been agreed after the ECtHR ruled between 2000 and 2003 that a
number of complaints, regarding killings with British state involvement,
had breached Article 2 – the right to life – of the deceased. The
British government gave a commitment to the Committee of Ministers that
investigations into state killings would be carried out independently.

The Historical Enquiries team (HET) was part of this process. It was
supposed to be an independent investigative process with three main
objectives. Firstly to assist in bringing a measure of resolution to
families of those killed between 1968 and 1998; to re-examine all deaths
linked to “the troubles” and to ensure that “all investigative and
evidential opportunities are subject to thorough and exhaustive
examination” and to do so in a manner that “commands the confidence of
the wider community”.

However, seven years ago the PSNI brought the HET under the control of
its Crime Operations Branch and removed investigative functions from HET
officers. Under the new regime the HET could no longer arrest and
question suspects. The PSNI also took control of the HET’s budget.
Critically, in a reply to a letter from Edward Barnard’s legal
representatives the Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI (ACC) Drew
Harris, on 12 June 2014, confirmed that the “HET does not intend to
prepare an overarching thematic report into those cases referred to as
the ‘Glenanne Gang’ linked cases.”

In deciding whether the PSNI decision not to produce an overarching
report into the Glenanne gang was an abuse of power Justice Treacy
“referred to case law which stated that “conspicuous unfairness”
amounted to abuse of power. The more extreme the unfairness, the more
likely it is to be characterised as an abuse of power.”

Justice Treacy ruled: “The unfairness here is extreme – where the
applicant had believed that the murder of his brother would finally be
considered in context for the purposes of discovering if there was any
evidence of collusion in the murder, that process is now completed and
will not be taken up by any other body.

The frustration of the HET commitment communicated by the ACC completely
undermined the “…primary aim [of the HET] to address as far as possible,
all the unresolved concerns that families have”. It has completely
undermined the confidence of the families whose concerns are not only
still unresolved but compounded by the effects of the decisions taken …”

The Judge is also critical of the decisions of the then PSNI Chief
Constable in 2010. He expresses his concern that “decisions were taken
apparently by the Chief Constable to dismantle and abandon the
principles adopted and put forward to the CM to achieve article 2
compliance.”

Justice Treacy concluded that: “In the context of the Glennane series,
as I said earlier, the principal unresolved concern of the families is
to have identified and addressed the issues and questions regarding the
nature, scope and extent of any collusion on the part of state actors in
this series of atrocities including whether they could be regarded, as
the applicant argued, as part of a ‘state practice’. I consider that
whether the legitimate expectation (that the HET would publish an
overarching thematic report) is now enforceable or not its frustration
is inconsistent with Article 2, the principles underpinning the ECtHR
judgments in the McKerr series and with the Package of Measures.”

In other words as the summary of the judgement states “the Chief
Constable’s decision to transfer the work of the HET into a branch of
the PSNI was fundamentally inconsistent with Article 2 and frustrated
any possibility that there would be an effective investigation in the
Glenanne cases.”

That has been the pattern for decades. The British state has
consistently sought to cover-up the role of its policing, intelligence
and military agencies in the killing of citizens.

Despite these efforts last week’s judgement was a significant success
for the Barnard family and the scores of others effected by the actions
of the Glenanne Gang. Regrettably, this legal milestone was largely
ignored by the mainstream media or given little prominence in their news
coverage. Where it was covered words like ‘rogue’ were used to describe
the role of RUC, UDR and British Army members in the Glenanne Gang. The
cover-up continues but so too does the search for truth by families.

Informer Sean O’Callaghan found dead

Posted by Jim on

A self-confessed IRA informer has been found dead in a swimming pool in
Jamaica.

Sean O’Callaghan, who became a darling of the mainstream media for his
far-fetched accounts of IRA activity and anti-republican political
commentary, was aged 63. His cause of death remains unknown, although
his family have said they believe he drowned after getting into
difficulty while swimming.

O’Callaghan, from County Kerry, joined the Provisional IRA in the
mid-1970s. By 1976, aged 21, he ended his involvement with the
Provisional IRA and moved to London. But by the end of the decade, he
had returned as an informer and started spying for the Irish Garda
police.

In 1985, O’Callaghan murdered another informer in Kerry, John Corcoran,
which he subsequently admitted but later denied. It is thought he used
Corcoran as a scapegoat in order to protect himself and ward off
suspicions that he was the informer.

Apparently haunted by his actions, in 1988 O’Callaghan walked into a
police station in England and confessed to IRA involvement. He was
jailed for life, but was freed by a royal pardon in 1996.

In recent years, he invented increasingly absurd tales of his IRA
involvement for attention and cash. Among these was the claim he
thwarted a plot to assassinate the Prince of Wales and Princess Diana in
the 1980s.

His wilder inventions and commentary on the IRA were given front-page
prominence. More recently, he featured in the British tabloids as a
critic of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow Chancellor John
McDonnell.

All this time, he battled depression and alcoholism. In an interview two
years ago O’Callaghan spoke of the threat he lived under. “I’m sure the
Provos and dissident republicans would shoot me in an instant if they
got the chance, so I keep looking in front of me as well as behind me,”
he said. “That’s just how it is.”

Right-wing extremist Ruth Dudley-Edwards, a friend of Callaghan’s,
explained how he dodged the IRA death sentence for being an informer.

“He always moved around. He had no fixed address or credit card. He left
no trail,” she said.

“He received warnings from the police that he was under threat. After a
certain period, he likely ceased to be a target for the Provos but the
dissidents wouldn’t have hesitated to kill him.”

Former IRA prisoner and writer Anthony McIntyre rejected Callaghan’s
depiction of himself and described him as a “calculating, self-serving
and manipulative man.”

“I don’t buy the line that he had some sort of ‘Road to Damascus’
conversion and was turned because of the horrors of the past. Most
people work for the security services for money or to save their own
skin,” he said.

LOYALIST BID TO ‘CLEANSE’ DERRY’S WATERSIDE

Posted by Jim on

Five Catholic and mixed families have been forced out of their homes in
Derry amid a pogrom by loyalist paramilitaries in the predominately
Protestant Waterside area of the city.

In one incident, shots were fired into the home of a young Catholic
mother on Saturday night. Her one-year-old daughter was asleep upstairs
when two shots were fired through the living room window.

The woman’s boyfriend, who is also Catholic, said the bullets narrowly
missed him and a friend as they sat watching television. He said his
girlfriend had been “warned” warned about bringing Catholics into the
area after moving there six months ago.

One neighbour said that the gunmen could have easily killed the baby
girl.

“The people who did this fired two shots in the window and could have
killed this child as she lay sleeping,” she said. “It would be very
traumatic for that mother and that baby to have come through this and
some of the neighbours are completely traumatised by this attack.”

Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson said there had beren a clear
attempt to kill.

“I want to get the message out that the vast majority of people in the
Waterside are disgusted by this and there’s a lot of good work going on
to bring the communities together,” he said. “But we need people to step
up to the mark so that these thugs have no hiding place.”

He has already helped to rehouse four Catholic and mixed religion
families since August 11, when a Catholic man and his Protestant wife
and children fled their home after they were given 24 hours to leave.

A further attack took place on Monday, when a pipe bomb was thrown at
the home of a Catholic man living in the Clooney estate. The elderly
man, Andy Logue (62), has been forced to take temporary shelter in a
community centre.

The victim, who is originally from County Donegal, said he reported a
broken window but was then told he had been the target of a failed bomb
attack. He believed those behind the attack intended throwing the device
into his home but it dropped short.

He said: “I was in having a cup of tea with my neighbours and the next
thing the police said you better get up against that wall there because
we found a device. And we’re up here (Lincoln Courts community centre)
since.”

The Irish Republican Socialist Party in Derry City said such attacks
were “nothing new” to the Waterside. Derry City IRSP spokesperson
Danny Morrison said: “These attacks are carried out by mainstream
loyalist elements in either the UDA and UVF, they have become
predictable and normal practice.

“Gun and bomb attacks carried out with impunity, under the cover of
darkness, terrorising families and pushing a sectarian, right-wing and
racist agenda.”

“Going back to 2014, and long before that, there was racist pipe bomb
attacks on Romanian families, racist graffiti, sectarian gun and pipe
bomb attacks all done to ethnically cleanse PUL [loyalist] areas.

Mr Morrison concluded: “The IRSP are calling on those responsible for
these sectarian and racist attacks to immediately cease their
activities before someone gets killed.”

Radio Free Eireann Saturday August 26th

Posted by Jim on August 25, 2017

RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday August 26th on WBAI 99.5 FM radio or wbai.org at 12noon New York time or 5 pm-6pm Irish time or listen any time after the broadcast on wbai.org/archives.

Award winning Belfast journalist, will discuss the life and death of Informer Sean O’Callaghan,a one time IRA Volunteer now reviled by many Republicans as a traitor, and lamented by British state supporters.

With the fate of statues of controversial historical figures being a hot topic, author Dermot McAvoy will take an iconic look how the Irish have dealt with the issue.

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin co- host.

Radio Free Eireann is heard Saturdays at 12 Noon-1pm New York time on WBAI 99,5 FM and wbai.org
It can be heard at wbai.org in Ireland from 5pm to 6pm or anytime after the program concludes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES

Senators alerted to MacBride threat

Posted by Jim on August 24, 2017

All U.S. senators have been alerted by the Irish National Caucus about a threat to the MacBride Principles contained in the Financial Choice Act

By Irish Echo Staff. New York City. August 24, 2017

The MacBride Principles are under threat from a section of an act that has been approved by the House of Representatives and is now before the U.S. Senate.

And Irish Americans are deeply concerned with the section in the Financial Choice Act that would, in effect, “most shamefully sabotage shareholder proposals by over 99% of the American people.”

This contention is being made by Fr. Sean McManus, founder and president of the Irish National Caucus, the lead advocacy group for the fair employment guidelines for Northern Ireland.

In a letter to all the one hundred U.S. senators, the INC states: “That section of the act would destroy the SEC Shareholder Proposal – Rule (14a-8) replacing it with a requirement of 1% ownership of the company over a three-year period (instead 1% or $2000 for one year) in order to be able to submit a proposal.”

The letter states: “So, for example, this would mean that to submit a shareholder proposal to Apple, one would have to own $7.5 billion in shares —and to submit a shareholder proposal to Wells Fargo, one would have to own $2.5 billion in shares —whereas at present one only needs to have owned $2,000 worth of shares for one year.”

Fr. McManus, who crafted the letter, said by way of elaboration: “This would amount to a flagrant attack on America’s founding principle, ‘We the people.’

“It would outrageously eliminate millions of citizens and the average American from having a say on the conduct of publicly held companies.

“The ordinary citizen, investor, consumer, and stakeholder are dismissed, leaving only the super-rich with any say. What American can possibly condone this? And what member of the U.S. Senate would vote for it— to take away the voice of the ordinary citizen, franchising only the mega rich? It is undemocratic, un-American, and would further lend credence to the all too common charge that the U.S. Congress is controlled by the 1% mega rich.”

With regard to specific implications for the MacBride Principles – which are enshrined in federal law – Fr. McManus continued: “From a specifically Irish-American perspective, 116 companies have agreed to implement the MacBride Principles. The principles have been signed into law by 18 states and numerous cities and towns.

“And the principles were twice passed by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed into law by Democratic President Clinton in 1998.

“Therefore, this terrible initiative is not only an attack on basic American values, but it will be seen as an attempt to sabotage the MacBride Principles, which have played a key role in promoting equality and non-discrimination in employment in Northern Ireland, thereby making a vital contribution to the Irish peace process.”

The Fermanagh-born McManus stated in his letter that he was “totally confident in saying that the Irish National Caucus is reflecting the opinion of the majority of concerned Irish Americans – Republicans and Democrats alike – when I respectfully ask you take a strong stand against this un-American attempt to silence the voices of ordinary American citizens.”

An Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on August 23, 2017

August 23rd

Retired Firefighter
John J. O’Sullivan
Former UFA Queens Trustee
& Former UFA Financial & Recording Secretary

WAKE
Wednesday, August 23rd from 2-5pm & 7-9pm
Thursday, August 24th from 2-5pm & 7-9pm
Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home
47 Jerusalem Ave
Hicksville, NY 11801
516-931-0262

FUNERAL MASS
Friday, August 25th at 10:45am
St. Ignatius Loyola Church
129 Broadway
Hicksville NY 11801

All Off-Duty Members should attend in Class A Uniform.

An Official Communication from the UFA

Posted by Jim on

August 23rd

WTC
Retired Battalion Chief Joseph D. McKeon
Battalion 46

WAKE
Wednesday, August 23rd from 4-6pm & 7-9pm
Donohue Cecere Funeral Home
290 Post Ave
Westbury, NY 11590
516-333-0615

FUNERAL MASS
Thursday, August 24th at 10am
Our Lady of Hope RC Church
534 Broadway
Carle Place NY 11514
516-334-4908

All Off-Duty Members should attend in Class A Uniform.

Beware Brits bearing gifts and border Trojan Horses

Posted by Jim on

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, August 23, 2017

“Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes,” as they don’t say in the DUP. Beware of the Greeks even when they’re bearing gifts.

It refers to the Trojan horse which enabled the Greeks to get inside the impregnable walls of Troy and overwhelm the garrison from within.

Britain’s paper on the Border last week is their government’s attempt to create a Trojan horse.

Theresa May’s sweetness-and-light article she gave this paper alone is such an obvious trick it deserves to be unwrapped carefully to discover her real intention.

First, it was only published in this paper because it is mainly read by nationalists and the British know that 89 per cent of nationalists who voted voted Remain.

May set out to convince nationalists that the British totally support the Good Friday Agreement, which the official paper says was signed up to by eight parties in The North but ignores the fact that their partners in government, the DUP, didn’t sign up.

Well, the British support the Good Friday Agreement up to a point.

If you read the document, and hardly anyone has, you’ll see that in paragraph 6 the British say the Agreement, endorsed by referendums north and south, confirms that “Northern Ireland’s constitutional status is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland alone to determine”.

Naughty, naughty – no it’s not. The Good Friday Agreement actually says in Constitutional Issues paragraph (ii) “it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment to exercise their right of self-determination”.

The British paper reasserts their false reinterpretation again in paragraph 53 of their document.

Maybe no-one in Sinn Féin read the document or, if they did, didn’t understand the significance of the change – which is vitally important – or maybe they are asleep at the wheel again.

Twenty-four years ago, the IRA army council had to be convinced that the British recognised the Irish people’s right to self-determination.

It was enshrined in a carefully worded paragraph in the 1993 Downing Street Declaration which was shown beforehand to the IRA to gain their acquiescence.

Now the British government – which Theresa May claims puts the Good Friday Agreement “at the heart” of its Brexit negotiations – has cavalierly cast aside that bedrock position.

Laughably, they then go on to threaten Brussels that if they oppose the British proposals they are undermining the peace process by making Britain breach the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Now let’s have a look at how absurd this position is.

The Agreement is backed by an all-Ireland referendum and lodged as an international treaty which binds Britain legally to support and respect it. They can’t breach it.

It is the action of the British government which threatens the Good Friday Agreement, not Brussels’, which is not bound by the obligations of an international treaty.

Essentially the duplicitous British position claims that it is the big bad EU which is bullying the Irish government into imposing a hard Border but kindly John Bull is doing his best to protect Ireland’s interests.

Yet the truth is, in her contempt for the plight of northern Nationalists, no northern party – no, not even their bought-and-paid-for DUP suckers – was consulted about the paper on the Border.

To add insult to injury, May’s speechwriters altered a critical clause in the Good Friday Agreement, they are supposed to be the joint guarantors of, to enhance the position of Unionists.

So much for an Agreement they’re legally obliged to uphold.

Luckily, Irish government officials can read and will be pointing out to Michel Barnier this particular flaw in the British paper.

Luckily too, Barnier will tell the British their suggestions about the Border are impossible but not before he dismisses David Davis’s transparent attempt to bounce Brussels into abandoning their negotiating position that no matters of trade can be discussed until progress on the first three items that Davis – don’t forget – has already agreed to deal with.

They are: the rights of EU citizens (that’s you); the divorce bill; and, wait for it, the Irish border at a political level, not the mechanics of trade, which is really all the British are interested in.

Only a fool would fail to recognise May’s Trojan horse.

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, August 23, 2017

“Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes,” as they don’t say in the DUP. Beware of the Greeks even when they’re bearing gifts.

It refers to the Trojan horse which enabled the Greeks to get inside the impregnable walls of Troy and overwhelm the garrison from within.

Britain’s paper on the Border last week is their government’s attempt to create a Trojan horse.

Theresa May’s sweetness-and-light article she gave this paper alone is such an obvious trick it deserves to be unwrapped carefully to discover her real intention.

First, it was only published in this paper because it is mainly read by nationalists and the British know that 89 per cent of nationalists who voted voted Remain.

May set out to convince nationalists that the British totally support the Good Friday Agreement, which the official paper says was signed up to by eight parties in The North but ignores the fact that their partners in government, the DUP, didn’t sign up.

Well, the British support the Good Friday Agreement up to a point.

If you read the document, and hardly anyone has, you’ll see that in paragraph 6 the British say the Agreement, endorsed by referendums north and south, confirms that “Northern Ireland’s constitutional status is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland alone to determine”.

Naughty, naughty – no it’s not. The Good Friday Agreement actually says in Constitutional Issues paragraph (ii) “it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment to exercise their right of self-determination”.

The British paper reasserts their false reinterpretation again in paragraph 53 of their document.

Maybe no-one in Sinn Féin read the document or, if they did, didn’t understand the significance of the change – which is vitally important – or maybe they are asleep at the wheel again.

Twenty-four years ago, the IRA army council had to be convinced that the British recognised the Irish people’s right to self-determination.

It was enshrined in a carefully worded paragraph in the 1993 Downing Street Declaration which was shown beforehand to the IRA to gain their acquiescence.

Now the British government – which Theresa May claims puts the Good Friday Agreement “at the heart” of its Brexit negotiations – has cavalierly cast aside that bedrock position.

Laughably, they then go on to threaten Brussels that if they oppose the British proposals they are undermining the peace process by making Britain breach the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Now let’s have a look at how absurd this position is.

The Agreement is backed by an all-Ireland referendum and lodged as an international treaty which binds Britain legally to support and respect it. They can’t breach it.

It is the action of the British government which threatens the Good Friday Agreement, not Brussels’, which is not bound by the obligations of an international treaty.

Essentially the duplicitous British position claims that it is the big bad EU which is bullying the Irish government into imposing a hard Border but kindly John Bull is doing his best to protect Ireland’s interests.

Yet the truth is, in her contempt for the plight of northern Nationalists, no northern party – no, not even their bought-and-paid-for DUP suckers – was consulted about the paper on the Border.

To add insult to injury, May’s speechwriters altered a critical clause in the Good Friday Agreement, they are supposed to be the joint guarantors of, to enhance the position of Unionists.

So much for an Agreement they’re legally obliged to uphold.

Luckily, Irish government officials can read and will be pointing out to Michel Barnier this particular flaw in the British paper.

Luckily too, Barnier will tell the British their suggestions about the Border are impossible but not before he dismisses David Davis’s transparent attempt to bounce Brussels into abandoning their negotiating position that no matters of trade can be discussed until progress on the first three items that Davis – don’t forget – has already agreed to deal with.

They are: the rights of EU citizens (that’s you); the divorce bill; and, wait for it, the Irish border at a political level, not the mechanics of trade, which is really all the British are interested in.

Only a fool would fail to recognise May’s Trojan horse.

Ireland will not be pawn in Brexit talks says minister

Posted by Jim on

Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, August 23, 2017

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said the British government’s stance on trading relations with the European Union after Brexit is “not a realistic position”.

Speaking during a three-day visit to Canada, he said the Republic’s government is “confused and puzzled” by what trade agreement the UK wants with the EU.

“At the moment they have the best trade deal possible, the best one imaginable, which is a customs union and access to the single European market and the European economic area,” he said.

“What they seem to be suggesting all along really for the last 14 months now is that they want to have all the advantages of being in the EU but none of the responsibilities and costs, and that’s not a realistic position.”

Speaking to Bloomberg, Mr Varadkar added: “It’s not yet clear to us these better deals that the British government really wants from Europe and from other countries, and I think some more clarity in that area would be very helpful.”

The Republic’s foreign affairs minister also warned British authorities yesterday that Ireland will not be used as a “pawn” in Brexit negotiations.

Simon Coveney also said sufficient progress on the future of the Border has not been made during Brexit talks.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire in Dublin, Mr Coveney said: “We do not want the Irish issue, the Border issue, to be used as a pawn to try to pressurise for broader trade agreements.”

He warned that in order for Brexit negotiations to move onto the next phase, “measurable and real progress” is needed.

Before the meeting, Mr Brokenshire insisted there was no possibility of the UK staying within a customs union post-Brexit.

He said that to do so would prevent the UK from negotiating international trade deals.

Following a meeting with the Irish and British Chamber of Commerce, he said there would be a period of implementation where the “UK would adhere closely to the existing customs union”.

“But ultimately it is about the UK being able to negotiate international trade deals. We want to harness those freedoms. If we were to remain in the customs union that would prevent us from doing so,” he said.

He added: “We are leaving EU, customs union and single market. We have set out options as to how we can achieve that frictionless trade.”

Mr Coveney said the Irish government believes the best way to progress “the complexity of Britain leaving the European Union is for Britain to remain very close to the single market and effectively to remain part of the customs union”.

“That would certainly make the issues on the island of Ireland an awful lot easier to manage.

“But of course the British government’s stated position is not in agreement with that but that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to advocate for that.

“In the absence of that it is up to the British government to come up with flexible and imaginative solutions to actually try to deal with the specific island of Ireland issues.”

A typical Derry lad

Posted by Jim on August 20, 2017

Mickey Devine

A typical Derry lad

TWENTY-seven-year-old Micky Devine, from the Creggan in Derry city, was the third INLA Volunteer to join the H-Block hunger strike to the death.

Micky Devine took over as O/C of the INLA blanket men in March when the then O/C, Patsy O’Hara, joined the hunger strike but he retained this leadership post when he joined the hunger strike himself.

Known as ‘Red Micky’, his nickname stemmed from his ginger hair rather than his political complexion, although he was most definitely a republican socialist.

The story of Micky Devine is not one of a republican ‘super-hero’ but of a typical Derry lad whose family suffered all of the ills of sectarian and class discrimination inflicted upon the Catholic working-class of that city: poor housing, unemployment and lack of opportunity.

Micky himself had a rough life.

His father died when Micky was a young lad; he found his mother dead when he was only a teenager; married young, his marriage ended in separation; he underwent four years of suffering ‘on the blanket’ in the H-Blocks; and, finally, the torture of hunger-strike.

Unusually for a young Derry nationalist, because of his family’s tragic history (unconnected with ‘the troubles’), Micky was not part of an extended family, and his only close relatives were his sister Margaret, seven years his elder, and now aged 34, and her husband, Frank McCauley, aged 36.

CAMP

Michael James Devine was born on May 26th, 1954 in the Springtown camp, on the outskirts of Derry city, a former American army base from the Second World War, which Micky himself described as “the slum to end all slums”.

Hundreds of families – 99% (unemployed) Catholics, because of Derry corporation’s sectarian housing policy – lived, or rather existed, in huts, which were not kept in any decent state of repair by the corporation.

One of Micky’s earliest memories was of lying in a bed covered in old coats to keep the rain off the bed. His sister, Margaret, recalls that the huts were “okay” during the summer, but they leaked, and the rest of the year they were cold and damp.

Micky’s parents, Patrick and Elizabeth, both from Derry city, had got married in late 1945 shortly after the end of the Second World War, during which Patrick had served in the British merchant navy. He was a coalman by trade, but was unemployed for years.

At first Patrick and Elizabeth lived with the latter’s mother in Ardmore, a village near Derry, where Margaret was born in 1947. In early 1948 the family moved to Springtown where Micky was born in May 1954.

Although Springtown was meant to provide only temporary accommodation, official lethargy and sectarianism dictated that such inadequate housing was good enough for Catholics and it was not until the early ‘sixties that the camp was closed.

BLOW

During the ‘fifties, the Creggan was built as a new Catholic ghetto, but it was 1960 before the Devines got their new home in Creggan, on the Circular Road. Micky had an unremarkable, but reasonably happy childhood. He went to Holy Child primary school in Creggan.

At the age of eleven Micky started at St. Joseph’s secondary school in Creggan, which he was to attend until he was fifteen.

But soon the first sad blow befell him. On Christmas eve 1965, when Micky was aged only eleven, his father fell ill; and six weeks later, in February 1966, his father, who was only in his forties, died of leukaemia.

Micky had been very close to his father and his premature death left Micky heartbroken.

Five months later, in July 1966, his sister Margaret left home to get married, whilst Micky remained in the Devines’ Circular Road home with his mother and granny.

At school Micky was an average pupil, and had no notable interests.

STONING

The first civil rights march in Derry took place on October 5th, 1968, when the sectarian RUC batoned several hundred protesters at Duke Street. Recalling that day, Micky, who was then only fourteen wrote:

“Like every other young person in Derry my whole way of thinking was tossed upside down by the events of October 5th, 1968. I didn’t even know there was a civil rights march. I saw it on television.

“But that night I was down the town smashing shop windows and stoning the RUC. Overnight I developed an intense hatred of the RUC. As a child I had always known not to talk to them, or to have anything to do with them, but this was different

“Within a month everyone was a political activist. I had never had a political thought in my life, but now we talked of nothing else. I was by no means politically aware but the speed of events gave me a quick education.”

TENSION

After the infamous loyalist attack on civil rights marchers in nearby Burntollet, in January 1969, tension mounted in Derry through 1969 until the August 12th riots, when Orangemen – Apprentice Boys and the RUC – attacked the Bogside, meeting effective resistance, in the ‘Battle of the Bogside’. On two occasions in 1969 Micky ended up at the wrong end of an RUC baton, and consequently in hospital.

That summer Micky left school. Always keen to improve himself, he got a job as a shop assistant and over the next three years worked his way up the local ladder: from Hill’s furniture store on the Strand Road, to Sloan’s store in Shipquay Street, and finally to Austin’s furniture store in the Diamond (and one can get no higher in Derry, as a shop assistant).

British troops had arrived in August 1969, in the wake of the ‘Battle of the Bogside’. ‘Free Derry’ was maintained more by agreement with the British army than by physical force, but of course there were barricades, and Micky was one of the volunteers manning them with a hurley.

INVOLVED

At that time, and during 1970 and 1971, Micky became involved in the civil rights movement, and with the local (uniquely militant) Labour Party and the Young Socialists.

The already strained relationship between British troops and the nationalist people of Derry steadily deteriorated – reinforced by news from elsewhere, especially Belfast – culminating with the shooting dead by the British army of two unarmed civilians, Seamus Cusack and Desmond Beattie, in July of 1971, and with internment in August. Micky, by this time seventeen years of age, and also politically maturing, had joined the ‘Officials’, also known as the ‘Sticks’.

He became a member of the James Connolly ‘Republican Club’ and then, shortly after internment, a member of the Derry Brigade of the ‘Official IRA’.

‘Free Derry’ had become known by that name after the successful defence of the Bog side in August 1969, but it really became ‘Free Derry’, in the form of concrete barricades etc., from internment day. Micky was amongst those armed volunteers who manned the barricades

Typical of his selfless nature (another common characteristic of the hunger strikers), no task was too small for him.

He was ‘game’ to do any job, such as tidying up the office. Young men, naturally enough, wanted to stand out on the barricades with rifles: he did that too, but nothing was too menial for him, and he was always looking for jobs.

Bloody Sunday, January 30th, 1972, when British Paratroopers shot dead thirteen unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Derry (a fourteenth died later from wounds received), was a turning point for Micky. From then there was no turning back on his republican commitment and he gradually lost interest in his work, and he was to become a full-time political and military activist.

TRAUMA

Micky experienced the trauma of Bloody Sunday at first hand. He was on that fateful march with his brother-in-law, Frank, who recalls: “When the shooting started we ran, like everybody else, and when it was over we saw all the bodies being lifted.”

The slaughter confirmed to Micky that it was more than time to start shooting back. “How” he would ask, “can you sit back and watch while your own Derry men are shot down like dogs?”

Micky had written: “I will never forget standing in the Creggan chapel staring at the brown wooden boxes. We mourned, and Ireland mourned with us.

“That sight more than anything convinced me that there will never be peace in Ireland while Britain remains. When I looked at those coffins I developed a commitment to the republican cause that I have never lost.”

From around this time, until May when the ‘Official IRA’ leadership declared a unilateral ceasefire (unpopular with their Derry Volunteers), Micky was involved not only in defensive operations but in various gun attacks against British troops.

Micky’s commitment and courage had shone through, but no more so than in the case of scores of other Derry youths, flung into adulthood and warfare by a British army of occupation.

TRAGIC

In September, 1972, came the second tragic loss in Micky’s family life. He came home one day to find his mother dead on the settee with his granny unsuccessfully trying to revive her.

His mother had died of a brain tumour, totally unexpectedly, at the age of forty-five. Doctors said it had taken her just three minutes to die. Micky, then aged eighteen, suffered a tremendous shock from this blow, and it took him many months to come to terms with his grief.

Through 1973, Micky remained connected with the ‘Sticks’, although increasingly disillusioned by their openly reformist path. He came to refer to the ‘Sticks’ as “fireside republicans”, and was highly critical of them for not being active enough.

Towards the end of that year, Micky, then aged nineteen, got married. His wife, Margaret, was only seventeen. They lived in Ranmore Drive in Creggan and had two children: Michael, now aged seven and Louise, now aged five.

Micky and his wife had since separated.

In late 1974, virtually all the ‘Sticks’ in Derry, including Micky, joined the newly formed IRSP, as did some who had dropped out over the years. And Micky necessarily became a founder member of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army), formed to defend the IRSP from murderous attacks by their former comrades in the sticks.

In early 1975, Micky became a founder member of the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) formed for offensive operational purposes out of the PLA.

The months ahead were bad times for the IRSP, relatively isolated, and to suffer a strength-sapping split when Bernadette McAliskey left, taking with her a number of activists who formed the ISP (Independent Socialist Party), since deceased.

They were also difficult months for the fledgling INLA, suffering from a crippling lack of weaponry and funds. Weakness which led them into raids for both as their primary actions, and rendered them almost unable to operate against the Brits.

Micky was eventually arrested on the Creggan. In the evening of September 20th, 1976, after an arms raid earlier that day on a private weaponry, in Lifford, County Donegal, from which the INLA commandeered several rifles and shotguns, and three thousand rounds of ammunition.

ARRESTED

Micky was arrested with Desmond Walmsley from Shantallow, and John Cassidy from Rosemount. Along on the operation, though never convicted for it, was the late Patsy O’Hara, with whom Micky used to knock around as a friend and comrade.

Micky was held and interrogated for three days in Derry’s Stand Road barracks, before being transported in Crumlin Road jail in Belfast where he spent nine months on remand.

He was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment on June 20th, 1977, and immediately embarked on the blanket protest. He was in H5-Block until March of this year when the hunger strike began and when the ‘no-wash, no slop-out’ protest ended, whereupon he was moved with others in his wing to H6-Block.

Mickey Devine final salute
Mickey Devine final salute

Like others incarcerated within the H-Blocks, suffering daily abuse and inhuman and degrading treatment, Micky realised – soon after he joined the blanket protest – that eventually it would come to a hunger strike, and, for him, the sooner the better. He was determined that when that ultimate step was reached he would be among those to hunger strike.

SEVENTH

On Sunday, June 21st, this year, he completed his fourth year on the blanket, and the following day he joined Joe McDonnell, Kieran Doherty, Kevin Lynch, Martin Hurson, Thomas McElwee and Paddy Quinn on hunger strike.

He became the seventh man in a weekly build-up from a four-strong hunger strike team to eight-strong. He was moved to the prison hospital on Wednesday, July 15th, his twenty fourth day on hunger strike.

With the 50 % remission available to conforming prisoners, Micky would have been due out of jail next September.

As it was, because of his principled republican rejection of the criminal tag he chose to fight and face death.

Micky died at 7.50 am on Thursday, August 201h, as nationalist voters in Fermanagh/South Tyrone were beginning to make their way to the polling booths to elect Owen Carron, a member of parliament for the constituency, in a demonstration – for the second time in less than five months – of their support for the prisoners’ demands.

A united Ireland is the only practical solution to Brexit

Posted by Jim on August 19, 2017

The one sure way to enshrine free movement, free trade, and regulatory clarity in relations between the two parts of Ireland is to put them back together

Mary Dejevsky. Independent. London. Thursday, August 17, 2017

If you found the UK Government’s first Brexit “position paper” on avoiding a “cliff-edge” in trade borderline delusional, just try the second, on Northern Ireland. A lot of Irish magic will be needed if the proposals set out there are going to have any chance of success.

Three policies have commanded particular attention. On trade, most exchanges between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be regarded as local, and nothing to do with international rules at all. Except much hair-splitting about what constitutes small and medium-sized business. For the rest, tariff matters and payments would be handled by a whole new, hi-tech system – the UK’s track record of digital project management does not bode well.

As for the movement of people, well there would essentially be no need for change. Any risk that the Northern Irish-Republic of Ireland border could become a “back-door” into the UK (or vice versa) would be minimized because the Irish Republic is not – and would not be – a member of the Schengen, so the UK and Ireland could keep their own special passport-free regime, while keeping the outer borders secure.

Except that there are no passport or ID checks between the UK and Ireland, whatever sort of papers you carry. Indeed, the only way, travelling by road, you know you have crossed from the Republic into Northern Ireland is a sign saying that the speed limit is now posted in miles per hour. Any indication that you are crossing into another country is vanishingly discreet. Like it or not, there is a “back door” (which predates both countries’ EU membership). Whether this longstanding “special arrangement” can continue after Brexit is another matter. How feasible is a “soft” border between a member and non-member of the EU?

Then there is food safety. Standards in Northern Ireland, the position paper boasts, are high, so there is really no need for any special checks on goods crossing what would become the EU border. But how well would that cheerful acceptance survive the first whiff of contaminated eggs, horsemeat masquerading as beef, or whatever comes next – in either direction?

Such problems were always lurking in the event of a UK vote for Brexit, and to an extent, with two different currencies, opportunities for gaming the system were always there. Strangely, though, the devolutionary focus during the referendum campaign was almost entirely on Scotland. What would happen if the Scots voted differently, and by a large margin, from the rest? (They did.) Would this spur demands for a new independence referendum? (Yes, and no.) What would come next? (Too soon to say.)

But the effect of Scottish independence in the event of Brexit was comparatively clear-cut. Scotland would become an independent state. It would be recognised as such by the UK and internationally. It would re-join the EU (oh yes, it would); it could be required to join the euro and Schengen, and there might well be a “hard” border with England. But everyone would know the score.

The position with Northern Ireland is infinitely more difficult. And it was made more so because a majority of the Northern Irish voted to remain in the European Union. The margin (56 – 44 per cent) was not as sweeping as in Scotland (62 – 38 per cent), but it was solid. It was also bigger than the margin of victory for Leave in the UK as a whole (52-48), but also in England (53 – 47 per cent).

One reason why Northern Ireland, despite its unionist majority, voted more like Scotland than England or Wales may be that people on both sides of the sectarian divide saw EU membership as a kind of guarantee for the continuation of the Good Friday agreement that had (mostly) brought peace. Without the EU, the relatively relaxed relations with the Republic, the free movement of people and free trade across the border would all be called into question.

This is where we are now, with the UK trying desperately to hold on to the gains from EU membership as they relate to Northern Ireland, while preparing to break from the EU in almost every other respect. It is neither a logical nor comfortable position. No wonder Ireland’s Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, recently expressed his frustration not just with the pace of negotiation, but with the whole UK approach.

Happily – and unhappily – there is a solution, which is as simple and obvious as it is elusive. The one sure way to enshrine free movement, free trade, and regulatory clarity in relations between the two parts of Ireland is to put them back together. The North would thus remain in the EU – which is what a majority of those who took part in the referendum voted for – while the rest of the UK, aka Great Britain, would leave. The only border needed would be the sea.

How feasible would this be? Alas, despite the pro-EU vote in Northern Ireland, not at all – at least in the short term. The Northern Ireland parties may be finding it hard to form a new power-sharing government, now that the politicians who made peace have left the scene, and the unionist share of the vote may be declining, but a forced march to unity risks the peace.

The differences are not to be underestimated. From a distance, it is easy to condemn the recent clashes in the American south as “only” about a monument. But monuments – and flags – cannot be dismissed lightly. Over the decades they have sealed Ireland’s division. One person’s patriot is another’s traitor. The two communities remain fenced off from each other in Belfast and (London)Derry; if they find it so hard to share a city, how can they share a country?

And yet… Is it really beyond the bounds of wise states-people to devise a solution? Would a clearly federated state not be possible; a state, what is more, with world-class guarantees for the rights of what would become the Protestant minority? Is the fear that would precipitate a resort to arms really still there?

Since the Brexit vote, the unity question has been very quietly, very tentatively, reopened, after 10 years in which the Good Friday Agreement had pronounced it closed. But a twist of fate – the Conservatives’ need for the DUP’s parliamentary votes – at once enhanced the status of the DUP in Northern Ireland and regrettably put any new thinking on hold.

But such an obvious remedy to the Brexit-Northern Ireland conundrum cannot remain off limits for ever. Demographic change in the North is already affecting elections there. Socially and economically, the Republic is a very different country from the one it was before it joined the EU. Arguably, the country that has changed least, in its institutional attitudes, is the UK.

If only it could fully accept the Republic of Ireland as an independent sovereign state, with no need for colonial-era privileges such as passport-free travel and votes in UK elections. If only it chose to halt the generous protection that stunts Northern Ireland’s development and allows a loyalist minority to live in the past. If the UK made moves in this direction, some of the biggest stumbling blocks in the Brexit negotiations would melt away – with the bonus of normalized relations between Great Britain and Ireland – even if, in the end, we decided not to leave.

Hostility to Sinn Fein unity effort emerges in Dublin

Posted by Jim on

With the prospects of Irish reunification appearing to grow in the
aftermath of the Brexit referendum, some elements within the 26 County
establishment have become increasingly nervous. Some reactionaries have
already called for the Good Friday peace Agreement to be rewritten in
the context of Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Last week, the former 26 County diplomatic figure Sean Donlon said
reunification should only take place with the support of unionists,
without seeing any inherent contradiction. Irish Times commentator
Fintan O’Toole this week also sought to move the goalposts, demanding a
higher but unspecified target beyond the requirement of a simple
majority for unification as outlined in the Good Friday Agreement.

The response comes amid efforts by Sinn Fein to encourage the
establishment parties to develop a coordinated approach on the issue.
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly called on all nationalist parties across the
island to work together to deliver a united Ireland.

Delivering a speech in Ballina, County Mayo to commemorate the 1981
hunger strikes, Mr Kelly outlined his party’s vision of a “new, agreed
and United Ireland, upholding, protecting and respecting the rights of
all citizens” that would also uphold “the rights of citizens to be
British and Unionist”.

Speculation has grown that there is a growing belief in Fianna Fail they
the party should be open to a coalition government with Sinn Fein. Last
week, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said his party is “open to
negotiating with other parties to deliver a republican programme of
government”.

Mr Kelly threw dont the gauntlet to all the other parties in Ireland.

“I challenge the leaders of the SDLP, Fine Gael, and Fianna Fail to stop
hiding behind the mantra of now is not the time to discuss unity,” he
said.

“One hundred years on since 1916, as we face into Brexit, now is the
time not only to discuss unity, but to plan and deliver Irish Unity.”

“So Leo [Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar], Colm [SDLP leader
Colm Eastwood] and Micheal [Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin], this is
the time put aside your narrow party political interests, the time for
national leadership, the time to stand together to plan and deliver
Irish unity.

“That is the project that can define the coming political era. Sinn Fein
is willing to stand with all those in favour of unity.”

The north Belfast representative added: “Sinn Fein wants an Ireland that
is defined by hope, prosperity and opportunity for all citizens
irrespective of their age, gender, religious persuasion, cultural
identity, political affiliation, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.”

India’s partition: The British game of ‘divide and rule’

Posted by Jim on

By Shashi Tharoor

On August 15, 1947, India won independence: a moment of birth that was
also an abortion, since freedom came with the horrors of the partition,
when East and West Pakistan were hacked off the stooped shoulders of
India by the departing British.

Seventy years later, it is hard to look back without horror at the
savagery of the country’s vivisection, when rioting, rape and murder
scarred the land, millions were uprooted from their homes, and billions
of rupees worth of property were damaged and destroyed.

There was an intangible partition, too. Friendships were destroyed,
families ruined, geography hacked, history misread, tradition denied,
minds and hearts torn apart.

The creation and perpetuation of Hindu-Muslim antagonism was the most
significant accomplishment of British imperial policy: the colonial
project of “divide et impera” (divide and rule) fomented religious
antagonisms to facilitate continued imperial rule and reached its tragic
culmination in 1947.

The British liked drawing lines on maps of other countries; they had
done it in the Middle East after World War I, and they did it again in
India. Partition was the coda to the collapse of British authority in
India in 1947.

The killing and mass displacement worsened as people sought frantically
to be on the “right” side of the lines the British were to draw across
their homeland. More than a million people died in the savagery that
accompanied the freedom of India and Pakistan; some 17 million were
displaced, and countless properties destroyed and looted. Lines meant
lives.

In that last, mad, headlong rush to freedom and partition, the British
emerge with little credit. Before World War II, they had no intention of
devolving power so rapidly, or at all. The experience of the elected
governments in the last years of the British Raj confirmed that the
British had never been serious about their proclaimed project of
promoting the responsible governance of India by Indians.

When the elected ministries of the Indian National Congress quit office
in protest against the British declaring war against Germany on India’s
behalf without consulting them, the British thought little of appointing
unelected Muslim Leaguers in their place and, in many cases, assuming
direct control of functions that had supposedly been devolved to
Indians. They openly helped the Muslim League take advantage of this
unexpected opportunity to exercise influence and patronage that their
electoral support had not earned them and to build up support while
their principal opponents languished in jail.

This was all part of the policy of divide and rule, systematically
promoting political divisions between Hindus and Muslims, defined as the
monolithic communities they had never been before the British.

The British had been horrified, during the Revolt of 1857, to see Hindus
and Muslims fighting side by side and under each other’s command against
the foreign oppressor. They vowed this would not happen again. “Divide
et impera was an old Roman maxim, and it shall be ours”, wrote Lord
Elphinstone. A systematic policy of fomenting separate consciousness
among the two communities was launched, with overt British sponsorship.
When restricted franchise was grudgingly granted to Indians, the British
created separate communal electorates, so that Muslim voters could vote
for Muslim candidates for Muslim seats. The seeds of division were sown,
to prevent a unified nationalist movement that could overthrow the
British.

No one in any responsible position in Britain as late as 1940 had any
serious intention whatsoever of relinquishing the Empire or surrendering
the jewel in His Majesty’s Crown to a rabble of nationalist Indians clad
in homespun. But the devastation of World War II meant that only
one-half of the phrase could survive: bled, bombed and battered for six
years, Britain could divide, but it could no longer rule.

The British – terrorised by German bombing, demoralised by various
defeats and large numbers of their soldiers taken prisoner, shaken by
the desertion of Indian soldiers and the mutiny of Indian sailors,
shivering in the record cold of the winter of 1945-46, crippled by power
cuts and factory closures resulting from a post-war coal shortage – were
exhausted and in no mood to focus on a distant Empire when their own
needs at home were so pressing.

They were also more or less broke: American loans had kept the economy
afloat and needed to be repaid, and even India was owed a sizeable debt.
Overseas commitments were no longer sustainable or particularly popular.
Exit was the only viable option: the question was what they would leave
behind – one India, two or several fragments?

Britain’s own tactics before and during the war ensured that by the time
departure came, the Muslim League had been strengthened enough to
sustain its demand for a separate homeland for Muslims, and the
prospects of a united India surviving a British exit had essentially
faded. Divide et impera had worked too well: a device meant to
perpetuate British rule in India ensured a united India could not
survive without the British. Two countries was what it would be.

The task of dividing the two nations was assigned to Sir Cyril
Radcliffe, a lawyer who had never been to India before and knew nothing
of its history, society or traditions. Radcliffe, perspiring profusely
in the unfamiliar heat, drew up his maps in less than five weeks,
dividing provinces, districts, villages, homes and hearts – and promptly
scuttled to Britain, never to return to India. The British Empire simply
crumbled in disorder. The British were heedless of the lives that would
be lost in their headlong rush to the exits.

The scars of the partition have lasted 70 years, even though India has
emerged as a thriving pluralist democracy while Pakistan – splitting
into two with the secession of the East as Bangladesh in 1971 – and
Bangladesh have encountered difficulties in maintaining democracy. But
India’s flourishing democracy of seven decades is no tribute to British
rule. It is a bit rich for the British to suppress, exploit, imprison,
torture and maim people for 200 years and then celebrate the fact that
they are a democracy at the end of it.

If Britain’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of a single
political unit called India, fulfilling the aspirations of visionary
Indian emperors from Ashoka to Akbar, then its greatest failure must be
the shambles of that original Brexit – cutting and running from the land
they had claimed to rule for its betterment, leaving behind a million
dead, 17 million displaced, billions of rupees of property destroyed,
and the flames of communal hatred blazing hotly across the ravaged land.
There is no greater indictment of the failures of British rule in India
than the tragic manner of its ending.

* Shashi Tharoor is an elected member of India’s parliament and chairs
its Foreign Affairs Committee. He is the prize-winning author of 16
books, including, most recently, Inglorious Empire: What the British Did
To India.

BREXIT BLAME GAME UNDERWAY

Posted by Jim on

Claims by the British government that they wish to impose no additional
border reinforcements in Ireland following their departure from the
European Union are being greeted with scepticism.

After months of contradictory and confused statements and stances, two
documents emerged this week which offered the prospect of setting out
the British position on key issues such as customs and immigration
controls.

However, the claim that the British government will make no effort to
prevent immigrants arriving to Britain via Ireland on foot of their
racially-motivated Brexit has already been widely ridiculed. A bizarre
‘do-nothing’ fudge on customs controls in the north of Ireland has been
greeted similarly.

The Irish border currently has 275 border crossings, more than twice the
number the EU has along its entire frontier with eastern Europe. Despite
detailed plans being advanced for weeks, suggestions to use advanced spy
cameras and electromagnetic scanning on the border to impose controls
appear to have been shelved for now.

However, fears remains that the documents could form the first gambit in
a blame game over moves which could ultimately return the Irish border
to its status as the most militarised frontier in western Europe.

The hardline unionist DUP said it had persuaded the British government
to “rule out” any Brexit that would involve a border between the two
islands. They said they had convinced London to reject the treatment of
the Six Counties as a separate entity, subject to separate rules, or for
it to remain part of the EU customs union or single market.

The current British position puts the onus on the Dublin government and
the EU to impose border restrictions to prevent illegal immigration and
trade controls. British officials claimed that their hands-off proposals
could be open to “fraud” but that this could be “managed”.

However, former UKIP leader and prominent Brexiteer Nigel Farage said it
was “of concern” that EU citizens would still be able to move freely
across the Irish border without any immigration checks. The Liberal
Democrats said the latest proposal “has more holes in it than a
colander” as it admitted Britain would not reclaim control of its
borders.

The 26 County Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said
significant questions remained unanswered, but accepted the British
papers as a negotiating stance.

He joined in warnings about delivery, but welcomed stated commitments to
upholding the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area, as
well as EU-related funding for the border area.

Referring to the paper on future customs arrangements published on
Tuesday, Mr Coveney said he welcomed language he had not heard before
about a ‘customs union partnership’ which, it was argued, would negate
the need for customs checks. However, he said some proposals were
“unworkable.. in the context of smuggling and so on”.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill rubbished the plans, describing them as
“big on aspiration and light on clarity”, “big on rhetoric but thin on
actual commitments”.

She said the proposals on customs had been dismissed within hours as
deluded, untested and unrealistic.

“What the British government are doing is treating us as collateral
damage,” she said. “They are very interested in the needs of the British
people but not of the needs of the people here who voted to remain
within the European Union.

“I think we could be forgiven for thinking that the British government
in this latest document are using us and our unique circumstances here
to try to put pressure on the European Union.”

Labour MP Conor McGinn, who grew up in the North of Ireland, accused
Theresa May’s government of “vagueness and posturing.”

“These proposals on a light touch border are lighter still on detail,”
Mr McGinn said.

Sinn Fein’s Brexit spokesperson David Cullinane aid today that the
British proposals for a “bespoke” customs union after March 2019 show
that the Tories “have not quite grasped the reality of the situation
that Britain finds itself in”.

However, he welcomed the fact that the London government had
acknowledged that a full and complete break from the customs union and
the single market would not be possible by March 2019.

“Furthermore, the proposal to extend article 50 requires the agreement
of all 27 states, including the Irish government.

“The Irish government should stand up for the national interest and
should only agree to an extension that is in our interests, that is, the
economy, trade, the rights of citizens, and the protection of the Good
Friday Agreement, in all of its aspects.

“The British government’s policy of Brexit is bad for our economy, trade
and agreements.

“The best solution is for the whole island of Ireland to remain within
the EU; the single market, customs union, and common travel area
together. This can be achieved through designated special status for the
North within the EU, avoiding any economic border, and retaining the
free movement of people, goods, and services.”

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said the current Tory Brexit agenda is an
attack on the human rights of the people of the north.

“The fact that the proposals published this week by the British
government on dealing with Brexit and the north is totally silent on the
human rights, particularly the European Convention on Human Rights, and
continued access the courts over breaches to human rights legislation is
very concerning.

“The Tories talk about being committed to the Good Friday Agreement in
all of its parts but appear to have ignored their human rights
obligations under the agreement.

“The entirety of the Good Friday Agreement, including the human rights
it safeguards, must be protected in the Brexit negotiations.

“The best way to protect our rights is for the north to secure
designated special status within the EU.”

There are also concerns that Britain’s new diplomatic offensive amounts
to little more than covering propaganda for aggressive actions down the
line. Notably, after months of encouragement in the British right-wing
media for Ireland to leave the EU as the solution to the border problem,
traditional anti-Irish rhetoric has returned.

An openly racist piece for Country Squire Magazine, headlined ‘Get
Stuffed, Eire’, has attracted widespread indignation.

In a long rant claiming the “best things in Eire are all British”,
author Jim Browne labelled Ireland a country “where the burglars from
Britain – with surnames like Kettle and Rafferty – return to build
eyesore ‘palaces’ in ratholes like Rathkeale (a small Irish town swollen
by the proceeds of crime)”.

Torture was ‘the norm’ in the North, says university lecturer

Posted by Jim on August 17, 2017

Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill says he suffered ‘waterboarding’ after arrest in Belfast in 1978

Freya McClements. Irish Times. Dublin. Monday, August 14, 2017

A university lecturer who alleges he suffered “waterboarding” after he was arrested in Belfast in 1978 has said he believes torture “was the norm, rather than the exception” in the North in the 1970s.

Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill – who was then a 20-year-old student at Queen’s University, Belfast – said he believed he was going to die when water was poured over his mouth and nose.

“The sensation was that of drowning, you felt you were drowning because you couldn’t breathe in air, all you were breathing in was water.

“I remember thinking, how far are they going to go? Are they going to kill me?”

A 1978 statement by Dr. Ó hAdhmaill, who was then known as Phelim Hamill, is one of a number of documents uncovered by Derry-based human rights organization the Pat Finucane Centre which contain allegations of what is now known as “waterboarding”.

It involves temporarily filling a victim’s nose, sinuses, mouth and throat with water so that he or she has the sensation of drowning.

The statements given by Dr. Ó hAdhmaill and others are to be publicly read in Derry on Monday as part of an exhibition on the legacy of colonialism.

In his statement, to the Association for Legal Justice (ALJ), Dr. Ó hAdhmaill said he had been arrested and beaten by about 20 detectives.

“My arms and legs were pinned down and a light-coloured towel was put over my head, obstructing my vision.

“They tied the towel around my neck and choked me. Whilst the towel was tied around my face a cup of water was poured down my throat and nose giving me a drowning feeling.”

A British government spokesperson said the UK “considers torture or inhuman treatment to be an abhorrent violation of human rights and human dignity”.

“It consistently and unreservedly condemns the practice,” the spokesperson said.

Sign admission

Dr. Ó hAdhmaill said the RUC wanted him to admit involvement in the murder of a police officer. “I was held for a number of days, during which I was badly beaten.

“The main aim was to get me to sign a statement of admission of involvement in the IRA and involvement in the killing of a member of the RUC who worked in Castlereagh. A number of people were rounded up and brought in, and I was one of them.

“During that particular period it was the norm and I thought my treatment was severe, but it wasn’t unusual.

“It was only really when things came out about waterboarding in Iraq that people started to revisit some of the stuff that took place in the North and my case was one of a number of cases where it was alleged that what we went through was waterboarding.

“I had never heard the term waterboarding until Iraq, so I would never have used the term waterboarding.”

In a statement, the PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said that as he had not seen the documentation referred to he was unable to provide any substantive comment on its substance at this time.

“Where people have a complaint regarding the actions of army personnel, they should contact the police.

“Anyone with a complaint about the actions of police should contact the office of the Police Ombudsman,” he said.

Prison term

In 1994 Dr. Ó hAdhmaill was convicted of conspiring to cause explosions in England and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

He was released under the Good Friday Agreement, and is now a lecturer in social policy at University College, Cork.

“The thing that I’m most concerned about today is peace, and it seems to me that we’re not going to get peace until we have some sort of release for people who have gone through all sorts of things.

“That includes people who have been damaged by the IRA, people who have been damaged by loyalists but also people who have been damaged by the state.

“Rather than saying no, we didn’t use torture, I think the British government needs to come out and say yes, we did this as part of a number of different attempts to deal with what we thought was an emergency situation

“At the end of the day the British soldiers and the RUC, regardless of what I personally feel about them, they were the cannon fodder, they were the foot-soldiers, they did what they were told.

“You have to look at the people who were behind the policy. You have to look at the state.”

Strong turnout for restricted anti-internment march

Posted by Jim on August 12, 2017

Over a thousand people took part in an anti-internment parade through
Belfast which was banned from the city centre last weekend, while two
tiny loyalist and fascist events were allowed to take place there.

The well-marshalled parade organised by the Anti-internment League (AIL)
passed off quietly and ended in a rally at a PSNI barrier of Land Rovers
and riot police.

It had earlier travelled from Ardoyne to North Queen Street through the
Cliftonville Road, Antrim Road and New Lodge districts, but was
prevented from carrying through to West Belfast.

The rally was chaired by AIL spokesman Dee Fennell and included an
address by Lorraine Taylor whose husband Tony is currently interned in
jail without charge.

Mrs Taylor said the jailing of her husband has “devastated” her entire
family.

Former political prisoner Tony Taylor was summarily returned to prison
last March by then British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers. Parole chiefs
recently rejected a bid by him to be released from Maghaberry Prison.

Mrs Taylor told those attending that her husband has told her he is
“committed to the process of the transition to a peaceful society”.

“And that view was clearly shared by the numerous people who spoke up
for him in his parole hearing recently – including clergy, politicians,
community and trade union mediators and human rights organisations ,”
she said.

“The decision not to let him out was at best underhand.

“It was based on a secret submission to the hearing by the secret
services, a submission that Tony could neither hear not challenge.”

In an unusual joint statement, the SDLP’s Mark H Durkan, Sinn Fein MP
Elisha McCallion and MEP Martina Anderson aid Mr Taylor’s detention
violated his human rights.

“The British government’s continued use of this unjust power to revoke
someone’s license while providing no evidence of any wrongdoing is an
affront to justice and human rights,” they said.

“As political leaders in this city and district we have raised Tony
Taylor’s case at every level and supported the campaign for his
release.”

They said Mr Taylor should either be brought before a court or released.

“If evidence exists to suggest he is a risk to the public it should be
put before him and his legal team in open court so it can be
challenged,” they said.

There was also strong condemnation of the burning of stolen campaign
posters for Mr Taylor on loyalist bonfires in the Nelson Drive and
Tullyally areas of Derry.

Ms McCallion said the placing of posters on the bonfires was a hate
crime. Lorraine Taylor also expressed her disgust and said she would be
reporting the incident to the PSNI.

“What would [DUP MP] Gregory Campbell have to say about this, he called
my husband a terrorist, will he support the burning of his image on the
bonfire?” she said.

Sinn Fein leaders open door to left-right coalition

Posted by Jim on

There is increasing speculation that Sinn Fein could become the junior
partners in the next coalition government in the 26 Counties after the
party leadership refused to rule it out.

While current leader Gerry Adams and reputed leader-in-waiting Mary Lou
McDonald both condemned the deals currently used to hold up minority
governments in Dublin and London, neither would rule out entering into a
coalition with either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

“You either take the plunge and you go into government or you don’t,” Ms
McDonald said.

Any decision on the matter will need to go before a special Sinn Fein
Ard Fheis, a potentially fraught conference of party delegates, many of
whom would be ideologically opposed to a deal with a right-wing party.

Both Mr Adams and Ms McDonald were speaking after the Fianna Fail
leader, Micheal Martin, while ‘ruling out’ a coalition with Sinn Fein,
left open the prospect of a confidence-and-supply deal with the party
for a minority government after the next election.

Any coalition would be a “matter of discussion” and depend on the
agreement of a “robust, transformative and ambitious” programme for
government, Ms McDonald said.

“Then, crucially, can we only ask the party itself,” she said, but
added: “We want to be in government.”

Mr Martin has consistently rejected the prospect of a coalition with Ms
McDonald’s party, but some of his most prominent TDs now openly say they
would favour such an alliance over one with Fine Gael.

A future coalition government involving Sinn Fein must have a strategy
for Irish unification, party leader Gerry Adams has indicated.

He said his party will place an emphasis on housing, the health service
and Brexit as part of any post-election negotiations on forming a
coalition government.

The Louth TD described ‘confidence and supply deals’ such as the current
one between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as “fundamentally dishonest” and
“quasi-democratic”.

“Nobody votes for a confidence and