Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sinn Féin - Why Ourselves alone will not defeat Lisbon 2

The Lisbon referendum is just around the corner and the party is asking us all to get out on the streets and push for a "No" vote.

Mary Lou and others have been highlighting the consequences of a yes vote and she has stated that "These consequences include the erosion of Irish Neutrality, the weakening of Ireland’s position in Europe, the loss of the Irish Commissioner, the erosion of workers’ rights and public services, the loss of an automatic right to a referendum on future treaty changes, continued participation in the European Atomic Energy Community, advancing the cause of tax harmonisation, the promotion of common foreign and defence policies and the militarisation of Europe and much, much more."

However in my opinion if our argument is simply centred around these points then I feel we will loose this vote. One of the main reasons for my thinking that way is the fact that our opponents will simply say here we go again with Sinn Féin opposing another European referendum, as it has every single one since 1972. We will be accused of being petty nationalists who have more in common with the English Conservative Party than with progressive forces in Europe and our opponents will simply try to pigeon hole us and write us off.

The leadership will no doubt respond to these attacks by saying we are fully committed to the EU, but our record on every other referendum makes that argument sound very weak. We will also say that Sinn Féin wishes to see a Social Europe, but can somebody please tell me what this really means and how we are planning to achieve it.

Personally I agree with Pearse Doherty when he said "Those of us opposing the Treaty also have a responsibility to outline what we see as the alternatives to Lisbon. Saying no is simply not enough."

In my opinion we must not only look at the negative aspects of a "yes" vote, but we also need to convince the people that a "No" vote is positive thing for the ordinary people of Europe. We need to show them that across Europe there is mass opposition to the Lisbon Treaty (and surely if the treaty is as bad as we claim it is for workers’ rights and public services then the opposition will be there). We must bring people from other countries into the debate and show we have support from across Europe. This does not necessarily need to be leaders of political parties, but it must include trade unionist and leaders of other social groups. We need to demonstrate that Sinn Féin is a progressive outward looking party who along with other progressive groups across Europe has an alternative vision for a better Europe.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

1969 - 2009 The struggle continues

Below is an editorial from An Phoblacht. If anybody was at the meeting in Navan this week it would be great to hear your opinions.

1969-2009 The struggle continues

FORTY years ago the Orange state began to come apart at the seams as people demanded their democratic entitlements to equality in voting, housing and employment. Those who sought their rights were attacked by the RUC who attempted to beat and shoot them off their own streets. Loyalist mobs and the RUC attacked nationalist homes and in Belfast burned whole streets to the ground.

The British government responded by attempting to prop up the sectarian state in the North, sending in the British Army.But out of the ashes of the Clonard and other districts came a risen people. Spearheaded by a reorganised IRA, resistance as had never been seen in many decades was born.

From the start republicans pointed out that the root of the conflict was partition and Britain’s denial of the right of the Irish people to self-determination.

In 2009 the unionist one-party state is gone. The armed conflict is over. The British Army is off the streets and most of its apparatus in the North has been dismantled. The RUC has been replaced with an evolving police service. War has been replaced with a peace process and a political process which has seen the previously unimaginable take place – unionists sharing power with republicans.Sinn Féin is now the largest party in the Six Counties in terms of first preference votes. That achievement is the electoral manifestation of the advances made by the nationalist community.

While this is a long way from the pogroms of 1969, which marked the beginning of a new phase in the struggle for Irish freedom, the struggle for national unity and independence has yet to be won.

For Irish republicans in 2009, the achievement of Irish unity and a sovereign 32-County republic based on equality and social justice is a live political project. Sinn Féin is pursuing a political strategy to achieve this.

This week, Sinn Féin activists from across Ireland, met in Navan, County Meath to discuss how best to further that strategy. The meeting saw lively contributions from a range of young and old, urban and rural, articulate and committed party activists who outlined their ideas on the way forward and their determination to provide political leadership in their communities in the time ahead.

Forty years after the Battle of the Bogside in Derry and the burning of Bombay Street in Belfast republicans are as engaged as ever in the struggle for national unity and social justice and equality in Ireland and as committed as ever to its success.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thomas Cook workers arrested - Fight back now!

Today at 5 am the Gardaí smashed the doors at Thomas Cook in Grafton Street and arrested over twenty workers who were occupying the building in protest at the planned immediate closure of the shop and the terms of the redundancy package being offered.

This is a massive move by this state and clearly an attack on working people who dare to fight back against their unfair treatment. Clearly the authorities have seen the massive support given to the Waterford Crystal workers and also the Visteon workers, and have decided to stop this protest now before the people of Dublin have an opportunity to show their support.

I have today contacted the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and I was told they were organising no protest at the court because they were negotiating to stop it going that far. It seems the idea of doing both of these things does not enter their heads.

I have also tried to contact the TSASA, who represent the staff, but their Dublin number keeps ringing out. I then rang their helpling number, based across the water, and they had not even heard their members had been arrested!

So where does that leave us? It leaves us in a position where we have to get to the Four Courts at 2 PM today and show that we support fellow working people who fight for their rights, dignity and demand to be treated fairly. We cannot let this open attack on working people go unanswered, because if we do then things will only get worse. Any worker who dares to say "No, you won't treat me like that" and decides to fight their corner will be open to similar treatment.

For me the government, judiciary, Gardaí and employers are sending out a message. That message is we can shut you down, throw you out of a job whenever we want ,refuse to negotiate with you and you better not try to resist us in any meaningful way.

Well at 2 pm today we shall see if that approach will be accepted by the people of Dublin. So get off your arse, switch off your PC and get to the Four Courts

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gerry Adams - The Orange Order, Shankhill Butchers, and the need for dialogue

Below is a piece from Gerry Adams' blog about the need for the Orange Order to get real about what the war in the North meant to both sides and to get over their victim mentality.

July 31st 09

An Open letter to Drew Nelson

Regular Readers will remember that this blog wrote recently about Orangeism and the need for dialogue to resolve contentious orange marches.

At the 12th July celebrations Drew Nelson the Grand Secretary of the Orange Order rejected any talks with Sinn Féin.

But this blog is not for giving up on our orange brothers and sisters. I penned an open letter to him which the Belfast Telegraph carried this morning - Friday.

I addressed the issue of ‘respect’ which Drew raised and pointed out that ‘respect, if it is to be meaningful, must be mutual. If the Orange Order seeks ‘respect’ from others, then it in turn must respect the views of those who differ from them, and address their concerns in a peaceful and dignified way.’

Nowhere is this more necessary than in respect of those ‘parades through or fringing sensitive areas, where little or no respect has been shown to local residents. The annual insistence on contracting Loyalist paramilitary or ‘kick the pope’ bands, the appearance of UDA, UVF and YCF flags and bannerettes and the refusal to countenance alternative non-contentious routes, is hardly indicative of a manifestation of respect or Christian forbearance.

Mutual respect could also be demonstrated if the Orange Order and indeed all the Loyal Orders could agree to a process of meaningful dialogue with the political representatives of the Nationalist community. This should not present a difficulty for the leadership of the Orange Order whose members have over the years held discussions in Belfast and beyond with myself and other Republicans.’

I reminded Drew that the Orange Order declares itself to be ‘Christ-centred, Bible-based and Church grounded’ and in 1998 it agreed with the heads of the main Protestant Churches that you ‘cannot refuse to talk to anyone made in the image of God’. How do these declarations reconcile with your continued refusal to meet with Sinn Féin?

Drew Nelson accused me of glorifying IRA killings and demanded an apology, in particular for those 273 orange members killed by the IRA. In my open letter I tell him that I have never glorified IRA killings and I again ‘expressed my sincere regrets for the deaths and injuries caused by republicans. This includes members of loyal institutions.’

But I posed a number of questions to him. The 12th resolutions state that 335 members of the order were killed. Who killed the remaining 62? ‘Was it a direct or indirect result of membership of Loyalist paramilitaries? Were some brethren killed by members of the British Crown Forces, the same Crown who you reaffirm your devotion and loyalty to every 12th? How many nationalists were slain by Orangemen in Loyalist paramilitary groups? Or in the British Crown Forces?

I draw his attention to some examples of paramilitarism with the Order, for example, one Belfast lodge, that is renowned for its UVF connections, is the ‘Old Boyne Island Heroes’ LOL 633. Their bannerette listed 6 UVF lodge members who were killed in the recent conflict.

Six years ago this same Lodge took part in the contentious Whiterock parade along the Springfield Road. One of those taking part was Eddie McIlwaine, adorned with Orange sash who was sentenced to 8 years for his part in the Shankill Butcher’s campaign of terror.

There is a reference in the Bible which seems very appropriate at this point which says: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote of thy brother’s eye”. Matthew 7:3-5 (King James Version)

I said all of this not to make dialogue more difficult but to emphasis the need for all of us to set aside our differences in the interests of finding solutions.

The reality is the political and social and financial costs and risks presented by parades disputes are too great to ignore. ‘The Orange Order and Orangeism is a part of who we are as a nation. Irish republicans want a dialogue with the Orange in order that we can each understand and appreciate the position of the other.’

This blog and Irish republicans accept the right of the Order to parade and to promote its sense of orangeism. ‘But this has to be on the basis of equality and mutual respect and tolerance. The overwhelming majority of orange parades take place without rancour or dispute. But there are a small number which each year give cause for concern.’

And in my letter I again ask Drew Nelson and his colleagues to engage in dialogue with ‘local residents and with Sinn Féin and let us together seek to resolve these in a common sense and respectful manner. Our door is open.’


For those who are interested the six names on the Orange banner belonging to ‘Old Boyne Island Heroes’ LOL 633 are:

• Aubrey Reid was killed in a premature explosion while on ‘active service’ for the UVF;• Noel Shaw was killed in an internal UVF feud;

• John Bingham, a UVF commander was shot dead in 1986; He received an Orange funeral with members of his lodge flanking his coffin wearing traditional regalia.

• Brian Robinson a UVF and lodge member was shot dead on 2/9/1989 by a British Army undercover team, just after he shot dead a catholic resident of Ardoyne, Patrick McKenna. He also received an Orange funeral.

• Bobby ‘Basher’ Bates, also a UVF and lodge member, who was part of the Shankill Butchers gang which savagely killed many Catholics. He was shot dead by a fellow Loyalist in a revenge attack.

• And finally, Colin Craig, another UVF and lodge member, was shot dead by the INLA in 1994. He initially featured on the bannerette but was removed when it was alleged that he was an informer.