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 

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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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