Monday, 25 September 2017

Thomas Ashe remembered 100 years after his death on Hunger-strike

Transcript below of the oration I delivered for the 100th Anniversary commemoration on the death of Irish Patriot Thomas Ashe.

Oration was delivered in Duleek, Co. Meath on 23rd September 2017

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the death of the great Irish Patriot Thomas Ashe, he was only 32 years old when he died on Hungerstrike. Please see below the transcript of the oration I gave in memory of him at the 100th Anniversary commemoration, organised by Duleek Hunger Strike monument committee.
The First Republican hunger-striker! That is how Thomas Ashe is remembered by Republicans today, he does not just stand out in Irish history as being the first hunger striker to die; he was so much more than that.
Thomas was born on 12th January, 1885, the seventh of ten children to Gregory and Ellen Ashe. Thomas was born in another period of upheaval in Ireland, as the land agitation across the country threatened British rule. He grew up in the townland of Kinnard, near Dingle in Kerry. His father Gregory instilled in his son a great love of Irish language, literature and culture that was to continue throughout his life.
As a young man, he would become prominent in the Gaelic League and the GAA in Kerry. Thomas' other great love was teaching, and on the 16th March 1908, took up his position as the headmaster of the Corduff National School in the parish of Lusk, in north County Dublin. It was a job he would continue in until Easter Week 1916.
As well as being an excellent teacher, he instilled in his pupils a love of Irish history and national identity - which often led to the disapproval by school inspectors. In Sean O'Luing's biography of Ashe, one pupil recalls:
"He taught us all the Fenian songs and rebel ballads which of course were not on the programme."
Another recalls Ashe's geography lessons, where he would point to England on a world map and humorously remark: "Never mind it boys, it will disappear one of these days."
But let there be no mistake of the progressive nature of Thomas' republican ideals! A cousin of Ashe's would recall:
"Thomas Ashe had a terrific love of Ireland but he was not bitter against England. Thomas just wanted freedom for Ireland”
By all accounts, Thomas Ashe was an active member of the nation - engaging in areas of Irish language, sport, and of course, politics. One noted aspect of his legacy is being the founder of the Black Raven Piper's Band in Lusk, still in existence today.
Of course, the founding of the Irish Volunteers led to the most important aspect of Thomas Ashe's activism. After the Redmond-ite split in 1914, he remained true to his nationalist beliefs and remained with the minority, becoming commander of the fifth battalion.
That he ascended to such a position so quickly demonstrates his natural leadership and skill that he would put to good use in Easter Week 1916. In this time, he also was a member of the secret society known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
In was in this role as commandant, which had Thomas lead the Fingal Battalion during Easter Week, which included over 30 of the Volunteers, attacking a number of RIC Barracks across north county Dublin in those important few days. Thomas was overjoyed to soon receive a message from James Connolly in the GPO, reading:
"The Republican flag still flies triumphantly over Dublin City. There will be glorious days for Ireland yet."
At the Battle of Ashbourne, his Volunteers attacked the RIC Barracks until it surrendered, losing two of their comrades. It was one of the few military engagements outside Dublin city centre during Easter Week, and the most outright military victory; most notably, his tactical genius foresaw the more successful guerrilla tactics later used by Oglaigh na hEireann during the Tan War. It does make you wonder how much his talents could have helped during the latter conflicts had he have lived.
Following the Rising, he was arrested, court-martialled and sentenced to death like so many others. With the outcry over the first fifteen executions, he was barely saved, with his sentence later being commuted to life imprisonment. He would spend months in various British jails, all the while planning with his comrades the next blow to strike for Irish freedom.
As part of a general amnesty in June 1917, Thomas was released and immediately got back involved with the national movement, his stint in Jail doing nothing to dampen his desire to see Irish independence. In this period, Thomas was elected President of the IRB.
He travelled the country campaigning for Sinn Féin and the republican cause, making many addresses to the people of Ireland to gather support, just over 1 month after his release he was re-arrested for making seditious speeches and jailed in Mountjoy Prison.
While imprisoned he demanded to be treated as a prisoner of war, like republicans since he refused to wear a prison uniform, when his demands where rejected he along with 6 of his comrades embarked upon a hunger strike for Political Status. While on hunger-strike the authorities savagely put Thomas in a straitjacket and force-fed him, they made constant pleas for him to end his strike; however he was not for turning stating:
“They have branded me a criminal. Even though if I die, I die in a good cause"
On the third day of his strike, he collapsed shortly after the force feeding; they had pierced his lung while administering the cruel act. He was later released and taken to the nearby Mater Hospital where two days later, Thomas Ashe died. His funeral to Glasnevin and burial in the Republican Plot there would be a seminal moment in these years.
The Jail struggle has been a constant in Irish republicanism, from the great Fenian O’Donovan O’Rossa to the present day with Prisoners such as Tony Taylor, who is currently interned in Maghaberry Jail.
Since Thomas Ashe gave his life on hunger-strike, 21 fellow Irish men have also died while Hunger Strike, the most recent being the 10 H-Block hunger strikers of 1981 led by Bobby Sands. The memories of all Hunger strikers is held dearly by the Irish people, monuments are dotted throughout the country and indeed today we stand in a memorial garden to the hunger-strikers, beautifully maintained by the Duleek Hunger-strike monument committee.
Like Thomas Ashe and many Republicans before us, we today have our own set of present struggles, we have scores of political prisoners in Ireland, and the corrupt Freestate Government is intent on seeing this number rise even further, with their spate of trumped up IRA membership charges against Political activists.
The Insult of these trumped up charges is that a person arrested does not have to have been arrested doing anything, all is needed to arrest and remand someone to Portlaoise prison is the word of a Garda Superintendent, and as we all know they hardly qualify as the most honest of people, in the last few years alone the scandals in this Police force have been outrageous, from falsifying motorists breath tests, to fabricating explosives finds. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the Garda Siochana is the most corrupt Police force in Europe.
If that is not bad enough currently we have the ominous super-grass at work in the shape of Tout Dave Cullen, betrayers and deceivers are the curse of the Irish Nation, in every generation we have them, genuine Republicans who act in good faith fall prey to the duplicitous nature of the Tout, they are a conceited bunch who are bought and paid for by the highest bidder, even their handlers know they are liars and conmen, and when their usefulness expires they are cast aside like the human garbage that they are.
Those who are victims of these insidious creatures may spend years of their lives incarcerated, but they can hold their heads high, they are men and women of integrity and honour, while the crawling and scraping tout usually lives out a life of a desperate and pathetic wretch, begging for British handouts and as we have seen recently with Seán O’Callaghan ending his life a pathetic drunk choking on his own vomit in a pool.
But! for every generation where we face the curse of the informer, so too do we have the dedicated, loyal and honest Republican, I do not believe this generation is any different. Against all the odds, the criminalisation attempts, the factions, the continued British Occupation and harassment, I see a vibrancy of renewed optimism. Albeit Republicanism is fractured and weary, but we are not broken, we are still here; they have not succeeded in their normalisation plans.
The ongoing partition of this country propped up by the constitutionals both north and south stands in direct opposition to the Republic to which we all pledge our allegiance, our focus must be on the establishment of that All Ireland Republic, a permanent national government which will work for all the people.
It is time to stop looking to the past, stop worrying about what the politicos in Stormont and Leinster house are doing. Our only interest in Stormont or Leinster house must be to smash it!
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, for Republicans to even contemplate flirting with constitutional politics is absolutely insane, it didn’t work for Fine Gael, it didn’t work for Fianna Fáil, it didn’t work for Provisional Sinn Féin and it won’t work for us.
Dropping abstentionism was always the Trojan horse used to undermine the Republican movement when winning; the lesson from all these abject failures is there is no parliamentary Road to Freedom, it moves us back not forward, Irish Independence will only be borne out of Radical Revolutionary Republican action.
As in 1917, we must today be wary of those who would have us stray from the path of republicanism and the establishment of a true Republic, even from unexpected quarters and those we might consider allies.
Recall that on the day of Thomas Ashe's funeral in Glasnevin, after the volley of shots over Ashe's grave, a man in a Volunteer uniform stepped forward and said so memorably:
"Nothing additional remains to be said. That volley, which we have just heard, is the only speech which is proper to make above the grave of a dead Fenian."
Well, that man was Michael Collins, who in only a few years would betray the ideals of his dead comrade Thomas Ashe, and lead a counter-revolution that sought to overthrow the Republic of 1916.
Collins offered an alternative to the Republic in the shape of the Freestate, we have current people offering alternatives to the Republic, let us take the lessons from history and reaffirm here today that we will accept nothing less than a united Independent Ireland. There are no alternatives.
In closing it is appropriate to end with the words of Ashe himself, he gave an oration to a gathered crowd at Casement Fort, Co. Kerry in memory of his comrade, the great Roger Casement, who had been executed a year prior.
He said:

“The voice of each succeeding patriot and martyr ringing from the scaffold is but another call - a trumpet call to the generations that are to come. The attempt which is meant to strike terror into the hearts of patriots, reveals only a fierce resolve to be ever more determined, to resist all that tyranny can do, to crush the spirit of liberty”
With his words, Thomas Ashe left for us a call to continue the fight for the Republic, let us not be found wanting in this task.

An phobhlacht abú

A video of the Oration can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/cait.trainor/posts/10210270252178073?pnref=story



   

Friday, 15 September 2017

I know Dave Cullen, thank God Dave Cullen doesn't know me!!

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.

Cáit

Friday, 1 September 2017

No Brits in Derry Museum Stand with Linda and Helen

Linda Nash and Helen Deery are now facing their third night sleeping on a floor in the Museum of Free Derry. Linda and Helen are both Derry women, both of whom are pensioners, both lost family members at the hands of the British Army, and both are fiercely opposed to their brothers names being listed in the museum alongside the British Army and RUC.

It's simple for me and only right that we should support them. The museum has attempted to pass over the objections claiming it's just a chronology of everyone who died in Derry during the Troubles, while that could be plausible and surely will be believed by the gulpins who tend to believe anything for an easy life it's clear cut, just like the wall in Glasnevin, which lists volunteers of the Irish Republic alongside those who died defending the British Empire that it is most certainly a memorial.

Over the last 20 years an upsurge in the normalisation of British rule has been rightly nauseating. The British Army and RUC can play GAA as official teams and the British royal family have made Ireland their holiday home such is the frequency of their visits! What's more despicable is the Freestate government constantly inviting them and parading them around for all and sundry to have the chance to bow, scrape and fawn.

Ireland has a national inferiority complex, for those of us who continue our defiance of British rule, or those who will not allow their loved ones memories to be degraded by accepting memorials of British army murderers alongside their family, or for those of us who just continue to tell the truth and refuse to accept the lies and fluff, we are all dissidents! And we should all be proud to be so.

You will be told your out of date, a war monger, a fool and so what! The stupid will be content with the current goings on, the crooked will make a mint as peace cost money remember. That brings me nicely to my next suspicion, I wonder and I'm not making any allegations as I have nothing to back it up BUT I just wonder if funding of some kind led to British army murderers being listed on a memorial in the Museum of Free Derry, I mean, it does not make sense for this museum to list them ...


As it stands Linda and Helen are undergoing a serious sit in protest, two women of a certain age sleeping on a cold hard floor, those who run the museum have locked the kitchen and turned off the lights in an example of extreme pettiness. Linda and Helen have a simple demand, to remove their loved ones names from the memorial as it is a blight on their memory to list them along with the people who murdered them. The Brits have a plethora of museums for these people to be memorialised, there is no requirement for MOFD to do it.

Time for the Free Derry Museum to show a bit of respect and do what's right.

#nobritsinderrymuseum



Cáit

Friday, 18 August 2017

For what died the sons of Roisin if not for this?

Guest writing for Damn your concessions Brian Mac Giolla Chomain ( Brian Kilcommins) a Galway based Irish Republican, makes the case for making the re-establishment of the Irish Republic priority number one.

For what died the sons of Róisín if not for this?
The case for the Irish Republic:

The Irish Republican position was never as strong as it was during the period when it had its own institutions under the first and second All Ireland Dáil Eireann and exercised its own laws. This was the ultimate expression of national sovereignty by the Irish people with institutions of our own creation designed for the purpose of improving the conditions of the Irish people as a whole.
Without our own institutions, we cannot exercise our own sovereignty, and sovereignty you cannot exercise is not sovereignty at all. Despite this fact, the emphasis today among Republican groups and individuals seems to be focused on altering the conditions in the six county and twenty-six county states to improve the conditions for people to live under.
While creating better social conditions for people to live with is worthwhile and its importance should not be downplayed in any way, it should not be done at the expense of creating the Republic we seek; where we ourselves will determine the type of society we have rather than have it decided for us by financial markets both at home and abroad.
The focus of Republicans must be the re-establishment of the Irish Republic. Anything less will prolong the status quo and continue to deny the Irish people the right to exercise their sovereignty as they see fit. It is the duty of everyone who calls themselves a Republican to continually push towards the re-establishment of the Irish Republic. Ask yourself what does the Irish Republic mean to you and then ask yourself how you are contributing towards its reestablishment. Organisations that define themselves as Republican must also ask the same questions of themselves. Is their position one that merely gives rhetorical reference to the re-establishment of the Republic; or have they a plan to work towards the creation of the institutions required.
The complexities involved in creating institutions such as these would be far beyond the scope of a blog post such as this, and making any attempt to do so would simply focus people’s minds away from the need for it to be done and instead focused on how it should be done which is putting the cart in front of the horse at this stage.
Any movement forward on this would, however, have to be predicated on cast iron guarantees by all involved that there would be complete non-participation in institutions claiming sovereignty over the territory of the Irish Republic,  i.e. Leinster House, Stormont, and Westminster. Without such commitments, the entire endeavour would be pointless and rightly open to criticism as a waste of time, energy and quite possibly the start of a slippery slope into constitutionalism. We want revolution, not reform.
Irish unification is not the end goal for Republicans nor is the ending of the British occupation. These are steps that need to be taken but our ultimate objective has and always will be the re-establishment of the Irish Republic.

Up the Republic.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

By their valour

Book Review - By their Valour 

The preface sets out the agenda of the entire book very well, giving a clear understanding to the reader of why this subject matter is so important and further the authors explain that this book was written in the spirit of recording history not setting out who are the heroines and villains.

In Ireland with our different political leanings we have a tendency towards understanding and reading our own history and researching the merits of our own ideological heroes. Whilst not preachy or saccharine this book encourages us to examine the lives of women from our own tradition and also those who would most certainly be our political opposites and if not using too strong a language our sworn enemies.

The book covers the last 100 years or so of female political figures in Irish history. Starting in 1911, charting events through the 1913 lockout, 1916 and beyond it gives us information and background on many key Republican women most of which you will have heard of but of course necessary to include. The lesser known women for me are probably more of interest, a Miss Bridie O'Neill dominates a few a few pages as the only woman interned during the border campaign era, this is where the book comes into it's own, providing the reader with exclusive documents that outline the shock and seriousness of a female being interned at that time.

They do not skimp over the female Republican Prisoners in Armagh jail, explaining firmly how their protests and determination matched that of their male comrades held in Long Kesh. It includes also some details of the small number of female loyalist prisoners, their conditions, demands and protests. 

In modern times they are not remiss, the internment of Marion price is included to bring us nearly up to date with current female POW's. 

The next section for me was probably the most enlightening being dedicated to British security forces and women of the Orange Order, McQuaid and Doyle heavily researched this area. While not wishing to provide spoilers they expose the deep seated patriarchal system within, while female IRA volunteers by and large are acknowledged as having an important and equal role within their respective organisations, members of the UDR had to get written permission slips from their husbands!

The book finishes giving an overview of women involved in the good Friday agreement era and beyond , Irish and British constitutional Politicians, for me this isn't particularly interesting but necessary to include and rounds things off nicely.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even with the serious subject matter it's light reading. It was worthwhile reading to gain a female perspective of all sides. This is a good introduction to women in Irish politics and revolution over the last 100 years. 


Note: this book review is an entirely unbiased overview

By their valour is available on Amazon at the following link.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1533606897/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502400368&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=by+their+valour


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Tyrants, hypocrites, liars!

IRA membership charges on the increase

Over the last few months I think we have all noticed the upsurge in IRA membership charges facing Republicans in the 26 Counties, it seems every other day someone is up in the Special Criminal Court; and this year alone we have seen a number Republicans convicted and sent to Portlaoise prison to serve sentences of a few years or more.

As Republicans we keep a keen eye on such developments, many of the people facing these charges will be friends of ours, for some of you, they may even be your family. The general public is apathetic towards such things and is not aware of the high number of people charged, in their mind the war is over, the jails are full of criminals, there are no Political Prisoners. How the truth would shatter their illusions.

In the 32 Counties of Ireland, we have over 70 current Political prisoners; this does not take into account the scores of people on bail awaiting trial. Within this number we have people such as Tony Taylor, interned without trial, no charges levied at him at all, and also the widely accepted miscarriage of justice which is the Craigavon two.
What I don’t see being spoken about too much is the onslaught of IRA membership charges; surely this is a campaign in itself?

A few weeks back I decided to look into the volumes of people facing IRA membership charges, active cases not those who have already been convicted. I found over 20 individuals who had active cases pending. This shocked me, I like to believe that I am very up to date on all cases, I knew about them individually but when they were put together as a group the sheer volume was startling.

It is clear to me that IRA membership charges are being brought against Republican activists in an attempt to censor them, in an attempt 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.  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.

If any such evidence did exist it would, of course, be provided by informers, these class of people who are open to the highest bidder and will say anything a person wants to hear in order to get paid. When information, if it exists at all, is secret, it removes your fundamental right to defend yourself; you cannot address what you do not know.

To add insult to injury the Court used for IRA membership is not a normal court, these cases are heard in the Special criminal court, which is a non-jury Diplock court presided over by 3 judges.  

Let us look for a moment at the Garda Síochána, the police force who brings these charges, the people who we are supposed to believe act with such integrity that their word should be taken on accusations without evidence. 

This Police force has been dogged by scandals in recent years, information from Whistle-blowers have exposed their blatant abuse of power, from annulling thousands of penalty points for influential people to recording nearly  1 million phantom alcohol breath tests on the system,  just to be clear recording test results that never actually took place.

In the not so distant past, the Morris Tribunal was set up to investigate Garda
The tribunal investigated allegations of wrongdoing and corruption in the Donegal division and ran from 2002 to 2008. It concluded that Gardaí in Donegal had fabricated explosives finds and had planted firearms in order to justify the arrests of targeted people. It also found some members had fabricated informants and intelligence received.

This is just a brief mention of some of the more familiar scandals that have emerged about an Garda Síochána, these are the same people who arrest Republicans and put them on trial, the only thing needed is the Word of a Garda Chief Superintendent. Now ask yourself is the “belief” of a Superintendent in this force reputable? If they are prepared to lie about breath tests, they are surely prepared to lie in high profile court cases.

It would appear to me that the onslaught of charges against Republicans is more corruption from the Gardaí; they are once more abusing their position of power to put away those who challenge the status quo, those who are seen to be “dissidents”, those who are seen to be a problem.  In the recent and ongoing Jobstown Trial, had the defendants been subject to the same kind of trial as those on IRA membership charges; Paul Murphy and others would most certainly be in jail.

We must now look at these cases collectively, the people charged may be from different organisations, indeed some are independent Republicans, all, however, are victims of a corrupt Police force intent on quashing any kind of Political dissident.

As more and more cases come to Court I believe we must up the ante in our support, we have to be more vocal and expose what is going on, at any time it could me you or me facing these charges, if we can do nothing for the people currently facing charges, at least we can let the state know we are aware of what is happening and that the jig is up!


Cáit

Monday, 19 June 2017

Lithuania vs Liam Campbell part III

To say the current extradition case against Liam Campbell is farcical is an understatement, the most striking element of this extradition attempt is that Lithuania are attempting to extradite him to a Country that he has never even set foot in.

So you will know by now I am not one to shy away from the realities of the situation, so here is some background. In 2008 Liam's brother Michael was arrested in Lithuania on charges of arms smuggling, he was initially sentenced to 12 years in a Lithuanian prison, however on appeal in 2013 he was acquitted as it emerged in court that he was framed by British intelligence. A very successful campaign opposing Michael's imprisonment was ran in Ireland and thankfully Michael is rightfully back at home.

While Michael's case is a cut and dry case of a good old-fashioned stitch up, it doesn't stop there. Not content with framing Michael and holding him in an unsanitary Lithuanian Prison for 5 years, they have went further and are attempting to extradite his brother Liam to Lithuania to face similar charges to which Michael was already acquitted. 
What is so striking about this extradition attempt is that this is the third time they have attempted it and again most ludicrous of all is that Liam Campbell has never set foot in Lithuania in his life. 

The first European arrest warrant was executed in the 26 counties in January 2009, at the time The Dublin government had been warned that if the extradition was granted it could be in breach of Article 3 the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Liam was released on bail while proceedings where underway and complied with all conditions. 
In May 2009 he was then arrested by the 6 County state police force on foot of the same European arrest warrant, he was not granted bail and was held in Maghaberry prison while extradition proceedings in the north took place. These proceedings took nearly 4 years!  All the while Liam was incarcerated and spent much of that time in 23 hour lock up. Finally in January 2012 the extradition attempt was dismissed, this was then appealed and in February 2013 a Belfast Court upheld the original ruling against extradition stating that Liam would be held in barbaric conditions and that he " would be at real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment by reason of the jail conditions". Liam was finally released in March 2013.

Since that time Liam has returned to family life, a life that has at various time been so terribly disrupted by British state attempts to imprison him for the simple crime of being an Irish Republican. 

The saga does not end there however, on 2nd December 2016 Liam was arrested in Dundalk once again on foot of a European arrest warrant issued by Lithuanian officials. 

He was held in custody by the 26 County state until he was released on bail on 20th December 2016.

At present there are a number of individuals who are actively opposing this extradition and I stand along with them 100%

I object strongly to this latest attempt to extradite Liam to Lithuania for a number of reasons.

1. he has already gone through arduous extradition proceedings in one part of Ireland and was held in custody for nearly four years while it was happening.

2. A court has already ruled against extradition and trying this case over and over is an exercise in torture

3. because of the medieval conditions of Lithuanian prisons that are unfit and inhumane

4. it is clear and it came out in open court that the entire situation and allegations are the construct of British intelligence and this is an obvious fit up 

5. I find it absurd to try to extradite someone to a Country for an offence in that country, when the person in question has never laid foot in it. 

If you agree with even one of my reasons for opposing this extradition, I am asking you to support Liam Campbell and say NO to this latest attempt to take him away from his family and his Country 

Cáit

Friday, 12 May 2017

National Stockholm syndrome


So for the last 3 years in a row we have been graced with his Majesty’s presence, HRH Prince of Wales has decided for the last 3 consecutive May’s that he and his good lady wife would visit the poor Paddy’s in the Emerald Isle, to give us all a little pat on the head and let us know we are doing a fine job of not killing each other; and of course much encouragement to keep up the good work! This is exactly the kind of validation we need; because without it we would descend into chaos and savagery.

So quite obviously my opening to this blog is sarcastic as hell; however it is not in jest!
Royal Visits to their colonies and former colonies are filled with spectacles of the native arts and culture. We see time and time again grinning British Royals in pictures wearing hula skirts, while trying in vain to do some kind of native dance. In Ireland, it is Charles Windsor trying his hand at a bit of Hurling, or when the British Queen visited in 2011 mumbled  a few words of our native tongue; met with an overzealous Mary McAleese exclaiming WOW as if Lizzie had just performed the River Dance.

Just when did we Irish pick up this inferiority complex? In 1911 when British King George V visited Ireland he was met in Dublin by enthusiastic crowds and a Dublin Festooned with British Union Jacks. It seems that 101 years after the rising the Pale hasn’t changed too much. The GAA and all sorts of other so-called national organisations have been nauseating the Irish People with their arse lickery, some must be going bald they are pulling at their forelock that much!

Just today Charles Windsor and Camilla Parker Bowles are being Paraded around Glasnevin Cemetery by the great and the good of the Freesatate establishment in a manifestation of National Stockholm syndrome. Of course, their first port of call was to pay respects to Irish Recipients of the British Victoria Cross medal, while also visiting the graves of Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera.

Most importantly they gave their nod of approval to the 1916 rising, heartening for us all to know because without it we couldn’t make up our minds if the 1916 Patriots were madmen terrorists or freedom fighters!  Thank God the British Royals say it was ok, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

The British Royals started their jollies in Derry. Derry which saw 14 men murdered by the Para’s of which Charles Windsor is the symbolic head. Of course, news that he was in Derry was only announced on the day. This was to hamper any kind of protest that would have been planned. Make no mistake had Republicans have known there would most certainly have been a protest. It would seem that next “King of Ireland” cannot visit his little dominion with any notice. We are told that there is peace now and a settled state, the public might believe this baloney but the establishment are not that Naïve, they are fully aware that the 6 counties is far from a settled state.  

The ongoing normalisation process between Ireland and Britain is set to get more boke worthy in the years to come, fawning over British Royalty in Ireland is idiotic, what other Country in the World would be rolling out the red carpet for a Monarchy or Government that holds dominion over part of its own Country. All I can say is - Ireland you’re rearing them!


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Friday, 28 April 2017

Federal Ireland needs discussing

Firstly I think we should dispel the myths and misconceptions surrounding the idea of a Federal Ireland. We must understand that Ireland is a 32 County Nation and that is not going to change. In the 6 counties we have a unique issue compared with the rest of Ireland which is British occupation, however the concept of a Federal Ireland does not just answer the question of British occupation and offer a somewhat acceptable future Ireland for the unionists, it should also appeal to the people of the 26 counties who are currently governed in an over-centralised manner leading to deprivation and corruption. No other current proposal for Ireland takes into account the needs and wants of the people of the 26 counties, instead, they focus entirely on the 6 counties just simply joining the free state or hoping that the current status quo is successful.  


There is a belief in some circles that a Federal Ireland is not a united Ireland, it is necessary to point out that a Country can be united through a unitary or Federal state, a lot of people believe united means unitary however there are many “united” countries in existence that are Federal in structure such as Switzerland or the USA.


Criticism has also been made of a four Province Federation, such criticisms have included that it is administratively cumbersome, that Ireland is too small a country to have four assemblies, this to me is an unfounded criticism, Ireland is historically divided among provincial lines, it would enhance Irish democracy, the more power closer to the people the better, this also allows for better accountability and less chance of corruption going unchecked. It would also ensure that there is a just distribution of wealth and power throughout the country and ensure that no one group of people could dominate the other. 


The key element of any proposal is that it is not written in stone, the Federal concept is no different. It is open for all the people of Ireland to have their say on how it would work. Republicans have not been the only people to propose a Federal solution for Ireland, we have had many proposals in the past, from Fine Gael who had a new Ireland Forum where they proposed a two state Federal solution to Desmond Boal, founding chairman of the DUP who suggested a Federal Ireland retaining “Northern Ireland” as a Federal state.


From a policy perspective Republicans who advocate Federalism have generally thrown their weight behind Éire Nua.


Éire Nua was first launched as the policy of Sinn Féin in 1971. Éire Nua is a detailed proposal on how a New Ireland post-British withdrawal could work along Federal structures. Advocating a four state Federal government with a central Government (Dáil Eireann), it is generally seen as the definitive Republican Federal position. In 1982 the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis rejected Eire nua in favour of a Unitary State, formally removing it from the constitution in 1983.Those responsible saw it as a Sop to Unionism, laughable considering that same personnel is today Power sharing with Unionists in Stormont. After the Sinn Féin Split in 1986 around abstentionism in was re-adopted by Sinn Féin Poblachtach (Republican Sinn Féin) and is today their current policy.


With Brexit looming and it set to affect everyone in Ireland people are scrambling to look at political solutions, the idea of an independent Ireland is starting to sink into the Unionist people as a reality of the future. I believe that as Republicans, that we as the people wanting to change the status quo and create a New Ireland it is incumbent on us to create the solution. We need to unify around a proposal for Ireland that can be acceptable to the vast majority of the Irish nation and this, of course, includes those who currently subscribe to British Unionism while not losing sight of our Republican Principles either.


We live in a diverse society, I believe that a Federal Ireland acknowledges and caters for the diversity of our society. The concept of a Federal Ireland is little known. When I bring up the subject a lot of people had never even thought of this idea as a solution. I am not saying that any one idea out there today is the answer, that Federalism is some kind of magic formula to solve all our woes. What I am saying is that it is an answer and at the very least we should be discussing it. I would like to see the day that every person in Ireland at least understood the concept at a basic level. This Blog piece does not go into the nitty gritty of what would be involved, that would be a much longer piece, but I hope it at least serves as a catalyst for discussion.


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Thursday, 23 March 2017

McGuinness was not part of my movement


Since the death of Martin McGuinness on Tuesday my Facebook newsfeed has hardly been without a picture of him for a minute, many of these pictures are intended to be glowing tributes and show him looking like a great statesman or a young radical Republican, many more are pictures of him shaking hands with the British Queen or standing outside the steps of Stormont with Hugh Orde the RUC Chief as McGuinness notoriously proclaimed Republicans to be “Traitors to the Island of Ireland”
It has been a few days now of the same thing repeated ad nauseam about this man, and a few days of high emotions in Republican circles as differing accounts of who and what Martin McGuinness was come to the surface.

How did I react? I didn’t!

I didn’t make a conscious effort to ignore the death of the former British Deputy first minister in Ireland, I just simply felt nothing.  As a chatterbox with an opinion on near on everything, my silence led various people to privately contact me to ask what my opinion was, when I simply said “ah it is sad for the family” I think they were a bit deflated.

It got me thinking today as to why I am not really interested, I can only think it is because I never actually identified with McGuinness, I was never a part of his movement, with the Sinn Féin split in 1986 and being born in 1984 I never saw this man as part of my movement. I was not reared believing he was a Republican idol, I grew up my whole life seeing the provisional movement and all their members as “them” and then there was “us”.

I can empathise with Republicans who were a part of his movement and later left PSF, many of them older than me who left in 1986 and others who have left in the intervening years. McGuinness’ death has thrown up all sorts of feelings and mixed emotions. Many Republicans who actually worked alongside him or who previously held him in high esteem quite rightly feel betrayed.  
It is worth noting that when Republicans at varying times left PSF they were not simply to be left to their own devices, PSF actively tried to suppress the “dissidents”, this took the form of violence on more than one occasion and these gangs known colloquially as “Dissident hunters” were brutal. Some of the documented attacks by these gangs are that of Michael Donnelly from Derry who was physically assaulted with Iron bars at his home and hospitalised with a broken leg, Michael’s 10 year old daughter was also injured in this attack. Another well-known example is that of Bobby Tohill who was kidnapped from a bar, bundled into the back of a van, severely beaten before being gassed and knocked out, had the van not have been intercepted by the police God knows what would have happened. There are many many more incidents related to these gangs, too many to go into. 

Some “dissident” Republicans  have decided that in death McGuinness’  actions can  be understood, his character rehabilitated, others have gave scathing accounts of his life and criticised others as hypocrites for giving tributes to him in death while they vilified him in life.
When Ian Paisley died I remember hundreds of vile posts, I have no issue with anyone critiquing someone’s life, however I don’t like vulgar and crass posts glorifying the death of anyone, I made a post at the time of Paisley’s death saying that as Republicans we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and not engage in such things, this was met with some agreement but with a whole lot of hostility also. I believe the same about McGuinness, by all means critique him, I have said many things about him in the past and my views on him have not changed one iota.

What is for sure is that Martin McGuinness is gone; his colleagues have claimed he is irreplaceable, that he was one of a kind, I couldn’t disagree more.  Irish History is littered with Martin McGuinnesses, PSF departing from traditional republican principles and taking their seats in Leinster House and Stormont is not a new phenomenon, they are not trail blazers or radical new thinkers, we have seen splitters from the Republican movement pull this same move before from Fianna Fáil in the 20's to the stickies in the 70’s.

McGuinness may have been thought of as a great Republican once, fighting for the people of the bogside in his youth, in reality for me what he was was just another in a long line of Nationalist politicians, who had moved from a radical youth to a constitutional politician.

What we must do as Republicans is to learn from history, including recent history and not repeat its mistakes, focus on where we are going and not where others have went wrong.


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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Women - Know your place!

So Here goes my first blog!

What even is a blog? Apparently it is short for weblog, I thought I would open with an interesting fact to beguile you into being interested in what I have to say, and now that I have your full attention the topic of this blog is women and the challenges they face in Irish Republicanism. 

I have been involved in Irish republicanism in some form or another properly since I was around 17, I grew up in a traditional Irish Republican home, and for me it was the norm and continues to be. It was never really a question I asked myself did I want to get involved in politics, it just naturally happened, no one in my home thought it strange and although my father would have been more involved politically than my mother, my mother  is as passionate about her country as him , as are my sisters. I grew up in a household with 3 sisters, my mother and with my father being the only male. Long and detailed political discussions are the norm around our kitchen table; being involved politically we often have political visitors who join in and this has been the case in my home since I can remember, we don’t always agree I may add. The one thing that doesn’t happen is that my father pulls rank of any kind, he gets as good as he gives and often times we never see eye to eye on certain subjects.

I am giving you this background because for me growing up and being a republican, gender was never brought into the equation, being a woman never meant that I was taken any less serious or that my opinion didn’t matter as much, or that I was accused of just parroting my father’s opinion. This of course is in the confines of my own home, the place I cut my teeth in political debate with my family and friends.

Que the real world of being in an organisation, dealing with people in various organisations and of course the advent of the internet meaning republicans are more connected than ever. Boy was I naïve to believe that Republicans were all cut from the same cloth and that they were all essentially extensions of my own family. I learned rapidly that being an opinionated Republican woman came with a lot of draw backs.

Republicanism can be a fractious place, I am not suggesting that men have it easy all of the time or that they are also not subject to rumour and innuendo, however the ease to which people will slander republican women is unbelievable. One of the main challenges I believe is that if something untoward is said about a man it is looked into and the man can be angry about it and perhaps even get it put to bed, the true is not the same of women, if women challenge the lies they get accused of trouble rising and then we have the old “the lady doth protest too much” scenario that often comes in to play.

The first real wake-up call I got about being a female in politics was while I was working on a campaign for a prisoner release, I received a phone call from a male in the same organisation but not a member of the campaign committee, I had been unable to do a media interview and arranged for someone else to do it. This man was unhappy at the person who I had chosen, the screaming phone call from him included a lot of profanities and the accusation that I had no authority and that I was only a “figure head” and that I should have consulted him,  I was in a senior position in the organisation and this person had no authority over me at all, he was a normal cumann member in a certain area, yet he thought it was OK to treat me like this, my male counterpart of course was never spoke to in this manner, nor would he have put up with it.

When I told others in the organisation of this incident there was no reprimand for this person and I was simply told that the persons pride wouldn’t allow him to apologise although he had privately acknowledged he was wrong, and I was expected to just let it go for an easy life, stupidly I did!
Looking at this particular incident there is no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t apologise to me because I was a woman, because in his mind by virtue of the fact he was a male he was in a superior position to me and that it would hurt his ego and pride to apologise.

I like many other women in Republicanism have been subject to the old affair rumour also, what is surprising about these rumours is that they can be carried equally as much by other women as by men.  People are obsessed by private lives, the fact I don’t broadcast my private life all over the internet means I am subject to slander, rumour and innuendo. Apparently I only ever got anywhere in republicanism because I sleep with all the “top men” a laughable comment in itself. It would seem that it is too hard to believe that a woman can be taken seriously as a republican in her own right without some man behind her pulling the strings. It is hard not to be angry when people think you are getting credit not due to you, when in reality you’re actually sacrificing much of your personal life to keep things ticking over, spending hours preparing and researching, travelling all over the country, nervously putting your face all over the media which can and has cost me a number of jobs just to be told that any positivity that results from it is not in fact your input but some faceless fictitious man they have made up in their head.

Much of the other challenges that women face are subtle and we rarely even call them out, language used about women is in stark contrast to that of a man, while engaged in political debate you will be accused of moaning, screeching, bitching, whinging and every kind of political discussion is always of course for some hidden personal agenda, once I was even called hysterical while discussing a mundane subject that I genuinely wasn’t even really interested in. 
I have worked with many women in various republican organisations and I have found them to be amongst the most hardworking, dedicated republicans out there, very often working in the background doing the donkey work, these women go unappreciated.  Speaking with other women in and around Republicanism my experiences are not in isolation and indeed some other women have faced much worse than me.  

I like a bit of banter the same as the next person and this isn’t an attempt to call anyone out or make anyone feel bad, it certainly isn’t an attempt to villainise republican men because for the most part they are great, genuine and never derogatory or sexist. This kind of thing isn’t confined to republicanism either it is in all walks of life, my main message here is that we can all do better, that we should be more enlightened and that the next time someone tells you a ridiculous story about a woman to demean and slander her, be the person that openly says that it’s a load of crap and that you don’t want to hear it.

If you made it to the end of this blog well done, I promise they won’t all be as long winded J

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