A sad attempt at culture

On Friday night I ended my 9 week alcohol ban and went out with friends from work in Newry. My usual tipple starting off is always a double southern comfort and coke. Last Friday I decided to add a Cosmopolitan as a chaser.

While we were having a few drinks and waiting for the rest of our party to arrive I heard loud drums. Owing to the part of town that we were in I suspected I was in for a treat from our loyal sons of Ulster.

They didn't disappoint.

The South Down Defenders had organised a parade and band "competition", no doubt tested on their strident anti-Catholicism.

There was a minimal police presence and standing outside the Brass Monkey having a smoke I was left to ponder what drove these people to parade and invite over 60 bands from across the North to take part.

There was only 6 people watching these bands and the only people who clapped as the bands passed were the two Stewarts.

All in all it was quite pathetic!

I didn't feel in anyway threatened standing almost side by side with these "loyal brethren".

Though I did find those subdued and pompous looking bands people quite alien to me.

If that is what they call culture then I am glad to be considered uncultured.

What do Unionists get out of these cultural events?


If Lynch had invaded

That is the title of a new RTÉ documentary to be shown next Tuesday night and it lasts for an hour and a half.

The synopsis of the documentary is presented below

"At 9pm on the 13th August 1969 the Taoiseach Jack Lynch made a dramatic television broadcast on RTÉ which outlined his government’s response to the outbreak of violence in Derry the day before. The crisis marked the greatest challenge to his political career as Lynch declared that “the Irish government can no longer stand by and see innocent people injured and perhaps worse.” What did Lynch mean, and was this a precursor to an armed invasion of Northern Ireland? Co-presented by Keelin Shanley and Tom Clonan, If Lynch Invaded tells the story how Jack Lynch dealt with the crisis of August 1969, and explores what might have happened had the Irish Army crossed the border."

Before we start to look at the entire premise of the documentary I have to take issue with the title.

Invade! That word for me smacks of negative overtones and conjures up images of the British invading foreign countries and subjugating the local inhabitants with a foreign writ and way of life.

You can't invade your own country!

If Lynch had sent the Free State army North it would have been about the assertion of National Sovereignty, Re-Uniting the country and forcing out a foreign invader.

Why not call it "If Lynch had asserted the primacy of Bunreacht Na hÉireann" or "If Lynch had stood up for fellow Irishmen" or "If Lynch had any balls" or "If Lynch wasn't such a total coward, a free-stater and a panderer to the British".

Anything but invade!

I suppose one needs to remember that it is RTÉ we are talking about.

Lynch was never an Irish Republican, not like Kevin Boland and Neil Blaney. He stood idly by as Irishmen and women were killed.

I don' know what would have happened if Lynch had sent troops North, none of us do.

J. Bowyer Bell, in his book about the IRA, suggested that the Brits waited 14 hours before deploying British troops in the hope that the Irish government would send troops North.

Lynch was good about making statements about Irish Unity but when it came to action he always fell short.

An attitude of "I'm alright Jack" pervaded his government with only a few notable exceptions.

"13 gone but not forgotten, we got 18 and Mountbatten"

That was the graffiti which went up on the gable walls in Republican areas thirty years ago today.

Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the IRA assassination of Lord Louis Mountbatten and the killing of 18 members of the Royal Parachute Regiment at Warrenpoint.

Both Operations were carried out by the South Armagh Brigade of Oglaigh Na hÉireann.

The reference to 13 is in relation to the 13 Irish people that the Parachute Regiment murdered in Derry on Bloody Sunday. It was presented as revenge and was the single biggest loss of life which the Crown forces suffered since the end of WWII.

I watched the RTÉ and TV3 documentaries into the killing of Mountbatten in Mulloghmore.

I can't and won't stand over the killing of the civilians on Shadow V, including Paul Maxwell.

That said as a member of the British Royal family Mountbatten was a legitimate target and he placed those civilians in harms way by coming to an island where his Crown forces still occupied its 6 North Eastern counties.

We can't change the past but we can place the blame on the correct people, the British Establishment.

These people can't expect to deny a people freedom, encage its people in a sectarian bastarised state and then feign shock when the people arise to demand their freedom.

I also don't accept the old chestnut from many left wing people in England and Scotland which tries to remove blame from the average British soldier. They present such soldiers as the victim of the capitalist class system, used and abused by the British elite.

Every British soldier that came to this country had a choice; they choose to take a gun to the throat of the Irish people.

When times were hard many working class English and Scottish men choose the dole rather than the Imperialist Crown Forces. Those are the real men of value.

While I was living in London I had a chance to speak to many of these men. I remember one telling me about how all his friends joined the British army when times were hard. I asked him why he never did.

He told me that they would have had to nail the uniform to his back. He said that he was not put on this earth to deny freedom to others.

The relationship between Ireland and England will always be a complicated one until England releases her hold on our country. That old man in a pub in Camden reminded me that friends come in many forms.


Equality! It's new, strung and shall be heard!

Unionist's are none too pleased that Irish Republican Ruairí Gildernew took part in the recent Hunger Strike Commemoration in Galbally.

You see Ruairí is also a member of the Tyrone District Policing Partnership.

Unionism seems to think that there is something wrong with a Republican attending a Republican parade; I suspect they are more annoyed that Republicans are actually on the DPP's in the first place.

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott said his actions were "incompatible" with his DPP role and called on him to resign.

Ruairí said he was on the DPP to represent republican views and would take part in such an event again.

"I think it is entirely a non-issue and Tom Elliott and the like of him are incensed that the republican movement can draw a crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 people into a nationalist area to commemorate the nationalist martyrs of the hunger strike and not one penny of policing resources was spent in policing this,"

DUP assembly member Arlene Foster has called on the Policing Board to investigate Mr Gildernew's presence at the event.

"Ruairí Gildernew, on applying to take up his role as an independent member of Dungannon DPP, signed a declaration stating his opposition to terrorism.

"One wonders how his actions at Galbally can be consistent with such a pledge."

Very simple really Arlene, the IRA are not and never have been a terrorist organisation.

It's about time that Unionism got used to Republican's, we haven't gone away you know!

They offer no chance of victory

I see that the Real IRA staged a show of "strength" last Friday night in the South Armagh village of Meigh.

Eight men armed with AK47 assault rifles and an RPG mounted road blocks on the outskirts of the village and entered the local pub and distributed leaflets.

These leaflets threatened locals that they should not have contact with the PSNI/Gardaí or Sinn Féin.

From people I have spoken to who were in the pub and who were stopped in their cars they also warned anyone local who was involved in drugs or anti-social elements that they would be dealt with in the near future.

I obviously oppose this action for a multitude of reasons.

1. Armed Struggle will not advance Republican objectives at this time; it will only lead to more Irishmen and women in the grave and in jail.

2. These people are a minority in our area and they have no right to tell the people that they should have no contact with a political party which receives 84% of the vote in the area.

That is fascism and will not be tolerated by the local people.

The only people elected to speak for the people of Meigh are Packie McDonald, local councillor, and Conor Murphy, MP/MLA, both of whom are Sinn Féin representatives.

Let us presume for a moment that these dissidents are the local variety.

Their threats against those engaged in drugs and anti-social behaviour might appear credible if it wasn't for the company that some of them keep.

I appeal to these men and women to desist.

Even though I disagree with them most profusely I don't want to see any local Republican languishing in a British jail or resting in Dromintee or Meigh graveyard.

A United Ireland can be achieved through political means and I encourage them to join with us to advance the Republican struggle. James Connolly said it best

"We believe in constitutional action in normal times; we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional times."


McCausland didn't read GAA Constitution

I see that "Ulster-Scot" Nelson McCausland has again attacked the GAA and Republicans over the use of a GAA pitch for last weekends Hunger Strike Commemoration.

It took place in the Republican stronghold of Galbally.

Our Culture Minster (Don't laugh) had this to say

"It cannot be right that a sports ground should be used for commemorating and celebrating something as offensive as the whole H-Block episode."

I agree that the Hunger Strike was offensive, offensive by the fact that the British government let 10 men die rather than face up to their responsibilities.

Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff said there were no alternative venues for the rural, largely republican community.

"We were remembering, not terrorists but inspirational, politically-motivated Irish hunger strikers,"

I don't know why Barry is trying to reason with this idiot, it's pointless.

Nelson claims that the event breaches Rule 7a of the GAA constitution.

He is incorrect!

Rule 7a states

"The Association shall be non-party political. Party
political questions shall not be discussed at its
meetings, and no Committee, Club, Council or
representative thereof shall take part, as such, in any
party political movement"

The GAA is not, nor have they taken party in a party political movement.

The Hunger Strike event was remembering 10 men, 7 IRA men and 3 INLA men.

Irish Republicanism belongs to all and all are welcome.

Nelson seems to think that the GAA is the IRFU; it's not and for good reason.

I will print below the preface to the GAA constitution and highlight parts I feel are important.

“Those who play its games, those who organise its activities and those who control its destinies see in the G.A.A. a means of consolidating our Irish identity. The games to them are more than games - they have a national significance - and the promotion of native pastimes becomes a part of the full national ideal, which envisages the speaking of our own language, music and dances. The primary purpose of the G.A.A. is the organisation of native pastimes and the promotion of athletic fitness as a means to create a disciplined, self- reliant, national-minded manhood. The overall result is the expression of a people’s preference for native ways as opposed to imported ones.”

"Since she has no control over all the national territory, Ireland’s claim to nationhood is impaired. It would be still more impaired if she were to lose her language, if she failed to provide a decent livelihood for her people at home, or if she were to forsake her own games and customs in favour of the games and customs of another nation. If pride in the attributes of nationhood dies, something good and distinctive in our race dies with it. Each national quality that is lost makes us so much poorer as a Nation. Today, the native games take on a new significance when it is realised that they have been a part, and still are a part, of the Nation’s desire to live her own life, to govern her own affairs.”

The GAA is quite clearly an Irish Republican organisation; it includes all and excludes no one.

Rules 2, 4a and 15 reinforce this position.

Rule 2

"The Association is a National Organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity in a 32 County Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic Games and pastimes."

Rule 4a

"It shall foster an awareness and love of the national ideals in the people of Ireland, and assist in promoting a community spirit through its clubs."

Rule 15

States that the National flag should be flown at all matches and when the anthem is played it should be observed in a respectful manner, failure to do so can result in a 500 fine.

Nelson doesn't seem to grasp the impact that Hunger Strike has on the Irish psyche.

Hunger Strike or "Cealacha" was a key component of Brehon Law.

As Brehon law didn't have a police force Hunger Strike was a remedy to achieve justice.

Under Brehon law, if you allowed a person to starve on your doorstep for a debt that you owed or an injustice that you perpetrated then you would find yourself charged with murder.

Thomas Ashe, Terence MacSwiney, Michael Gaughan, Frank Stagg, Bobby Sands.

All these men continue an Irish tradition of protest, in the words of MacSwiney

"It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most that will conquer"

Nelson will never understand because his bigotry does not allow him to.

We have nothing to be ashamed of and nor will we apologise to the likes of McCausland.


1737 Administration of Justice Act

As part of the St Andrews Agreement the British government signed up to the introduction of an Irish Language Act. The fact that they have failed to live up to that comes as no surprise.

That said what they should do is to repeal, with immediate effect, the 1737 Administration of Justice Act.

This is a piece of legislation which forbids the use of any other language in a court save English.

This relic of the Penal times has already been repealed with respects to Welsh and Scots Gaelic with the introduction of the 1993 Welsh Language Act and the Gàidhlig Language Act 2005.

Irish speakers should be entitled to the same level of protection under the law.

Over 4000 children are being educated through the medium of Irish and over 10% of the population of the 6 counties have a working knowledge of the language.

Equality may be a dirty word for some people but it's now a fact of life in the occupied counties so they better get used to it

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brún said

“It is unbelievable that nine years after they signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the British Government is still defending this relic of colonialism which forbids the use of Irish in the courts.

“The British government must ensure the full protection of the right of irish speakers in all walks of life, including in the courts.”

NAMA is a threat to Irish liberty and prosperity

I must admit that when it comes to detailed economics I am not the most versed; it was never my calling.

That said I am very interested in politics and law and as such I have followed the NAMA debate with much interest.

Even a casual reading of the proposed NAMA legislation leaves you with great anger towards the banking sector and Fianna Fáil.

With regards the banking sector perhaps we should not expect any better, what would you expect from a pig but a grunt but Fianna Fáil are a different matter.

Like the Emperor Nero they fiddled (the books) while Dublin burned.

Instead of trying to cool the property market they actively encouraged its inflation with the slashing of property taxes designed to help their Galway race going property developer mates.

Yet despite their treasonous actions it's the average PAYE worker who will be left to carry the can.

Not one Fianna Fáil or Banking Executive is being forced to take responsibility for their incompetent actions.

NAMA will bankrupt our nation's children well into the future.

I read in today's SBP Pat Leahy's fragrant disregard for democracy when he suggests that the Green party elite might be defeated by the Green party membership.

"Such a defeat seems, at this stage, unlikely - but any party so dominated by its activists is necessarily volatile.

As one senior civil servant put it recently: ‘‘I just don’t trust the Greens. They’re far too democratic for my liking. They are liable to do anything.”

If the Green's have any backbone they will reject NAMA and demand a more equitable remedy to the ongoing banking crisis.

Why would anyone trust Fianna Fáil or the banks on this issue?

George Bernard Shaw said it best, "a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support Paul"


Watch you don't trip over the Elephant in the corner

I see that the "Ard Chomhairle Plus" meeting has taken place in Navan following our poor performance in the Euro and local elections.

It would seem that the party are aiming to gain three seats in the next Dáil elections in order to qualify for speaking rights.

A noble and indeed sensible suggestion as the loss of the technical grouping was a hammer blow in terms of communication.

The attitude coming out of the meeting however leaves me uneasy.

"Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams rejected suggestions that the party was in difficulties in the South due to Mary Lou McDonald losing her European seat in June and Seán Crowe losing his Dáil seat in the 2007 general election.

Mr Adams said the party was not in trouble in the Republic. “Clearly as a political party we encourage creative, honest direct debate,” he told reporters."

Now I hope that was just the usual chest out, head up spiel for the media. I say that as someone who, like a lot of others within the party, recognises the very real difficulties that we have in the 26 counties.

I don't plan to rehash the same arguments as I have made my opinions clear on a number of different occasions.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the aim was to try to increase Dáil representation from four to at least seven in the next general election.

Seats that Sinn Féin is targeting include Donegal South West and Donegal North East where our respective candidates are Pearse Doherty and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, and Dublin Central with Mary Lou McDonald.

The party is also hoping to regain the seat that Seán Crowe lost in Dublin South West.

If a General Election was held in the morning I don't believe that we would win all those target seats, if any, in fact I suspect that we would lose a few of our current seats on a bad day.

I don't say this with any relish; in fact I pray that I am wrong. That said I am a realist and we have a great many challenges facing us both within and outside the party.

While organisational issues need to be addressed they are not the full extent of our problems, despite what many of the "pragmatist" faith may believe.

As a party we are not fit for purpose, our message needs refined as does our position within the political spectrum.

We are a Socialist Republican party (I know to many that may sound like a dirty word but check the party constitution, it's very clear on the issue) and as such our policies and actions must reflect that ideology.

Thomas Davis once said "Educate that you may be free" and so it must be with us. We need to explain to voters what we stand for, what we are going to do and how we are going to do it.

That includes all party activists being fully armed with our latest policies and action plans.

The time is ticking to the next election and as each day passes so does our chance to turn things around.

Internal debate is one thing but there is a time for talking and a time for action.

Party activists should not be leaving it to others to shape our destiny.


Poor Willie is all flustered

I know it's wrong to make fun of the afflicted but Willie Frazer has to be an exception to that rule.

It seems that Willie and Jim Allister want Martin McGuinness arrested over an alleged photo of Martin holiding a pistol in the early 70's.

I have reproduced the picture for your amusement.

Law lesson 101 for the illustrious barrister and his court jester

1. There is no evidence that Martin is holding a real pistol, it could be a replica
2. There is no evidence that the photo has not been doctured
3. There is no evidence that the photo was taken in Ireland
4. A prima facie case has not and can't be established thus a prosecution is impossible

I have photos of myself and friends holding and indeed shooting AK47's, handgun and rifles.

The fact that the photos were taken while on holiday and totally legal would not be known to a stranger viewing the pictures.

Poor Willie, he reminds me of a quote from Plato

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."

Fáilte Abhaile

Republican prisoners Pearse McCauley and Kevin Walsh were released from Castlerea prison on Wednesday.

Despite the fact that these men qualifed for early release under the GFA they served their full sentences.

Speaking following the release of the two republicans, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

“In a public statement some years ago the IRA members convicted in relation to Jerry McCabe’s death and the wounding of Garda Ben O’ Sullivan, expressed their deep regret and apologised for the ‘hurt and grief we have caused to their families’.

I believe that this apology was genuine and it echoes the sentiments of republicans everywhere. I deeply regret the great loss and hurt suffered by the McCabe and O’Sullivan families. "


Gerry "This man is not for leaving"

I have been amused this last month or so to see the media and others attempt to build up a campaign in order to force Gerry Adams to stand down as President of Sinn Féin.

It was never going to materialise but I did find it amusing none the less.

Gerry has made it very clear today that he has no intention of standing down in the near future.

"I'm the party president and sinn é"

Toiréasa Ferris's article (more so the poor election results) has certainly ignited a spark inside the bellies of many activists and from my perspective that can only be a positive.

Sinn Féin has in the past (and indeed the present) been accused of being a top-down party in terms of ideas and control and in some respect that notion is correct.

Many within the party have been happy to leave decision making, policy formation/direction etc to the leadership and the phrase "the leadership has lead us thus far...." has been trotted out on many an occasion.

I have always found that very unfair on our leadership; after all they are only human and can make mistakes as easily as the rest of us.

For some time I have encountered a crumbling of that mindset and many activists are now no longer prepared to sit back and wait for change.

Gerry has said that space is being made to allow for debate and discussion on the future direction of the movement.

I would like to echo Killian Forde’s words in An Phoblacht when he said that action must follow this debate.

Failure to act will leave to stagnation and defeat!

I'm a Socialist Republican, I joined a Socialist Republican organisation and I would like to see that organisation operate as a Socialist Republican organisation.

PFI's/PPP's have no place in that organisation's resume!

The recent elections prove that there is space for a truly left wing Republican Party so long as the people trust the seller of that message.

It is up to us to make the people believe!