Revolutionary socialist & anti-imperialist; Rebel Breeze publishes material within this spectrum and may or may not agree with all or part of any particular contribution. Writing English, Irish and Spanish, about politics, culture, nature.
Can you tell which of the clovers growing wild in Ireland is the genuine Shamrock (Seamair óg)? It is the Seamair Bhuí = Lesser clover, Trifolium dubium.
Now, while it is still in bloom, is a good time to spot the plant, the smaller leaves and the yellow (buí) flower on it is what really distinguishes it from its clover cousins, with their bigger leaves and flowers in white (S. Bhán, T. repens) or pink-red-purple (S. Dhearg, T. Pratense).
How do we know that the Seamair Bhuí (Lesser clover, Trifolium dubium) is the genuine “shamrock”? Well, perhaps we can’t be certain but in the 1890s out of a survey of opinions of people in a still quite traditional Irish society, T. Dubium emerged as the first choice.
Amateur botanist and zoologist Nathaniel Colgan (1851-1919) asked people from around Ireland send him specimens of what they believed to be an Irish shamrock, of which the two most common were the yellow clover followed by the white.1
A hundred years later, Dr Charles Nelson repeated the experiment in 1988 and found that yellow clover was still the most commonly chosen.2 According to Wikipeida, the yellow clover is the species nominated by the Department of Agriculture as the “official” shamrock of Ireland.
If you want to pick your own for St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll need to learn to identify it by its leaves because in Ireland it won’t be flowering in March. However, you can spot it now by its flowers and get a mental picture of the size of its leaves to retain in your memory.
THE IRISH AND THE SHAMROCK
What is it with the shamrock and the Irish anyway? The children’s fable of the Christian missionary Patrick using the leaf to explain the Christian Holy Trinity is just that, a fable, although repeated in one of the Wikipedia entries for “shamrock”.
Neither the Celts in general nor the Gaels in particular needed anyone to explain a three-in-one deity, since they had their own pagan trinities (Éiriu, Fódlha, Banba; the Mór-Righean/ Morrigu). Researchers have found no reference to any importance of the shamrock prior to 1681.3
Patrick himself, in what is considered his genuine autobiographical Confessio, never mentioned the shamrock once. My suspicion is that the shamrock-Christian-Trinity fable was fancifully created either by British settlers such as botanist Caleb Threkeld or by native Irish Christians around 1726.4
Although a few sources on line have claimed medicinal properties or druidic use for the shamrock, they never quote the actual original sources which may indicate that the references are undependable or obscure, if they exist at all.
Interestingly, writing a little before the 1798 Rising, Drogheda Presbyterian and United Irishman John Sheil used the shamrock as a reference for a different trinity, i.e that of Catholic, Protestant (Anglican) and Dissenter (all the non-Anglican Protestant denominations).
“ ….. the three-leaved plant …. It is three in one To prove its unity In that community That holds with impunity To the Rights of Man.”5
However, green was the colour of the United Irishmen and at times of repression by the occupation forces and the Loyal Orange Order, a sprig of shamrock on St. Patrick’d Day could be a useful way of indicating resistance while also claiming it was a harmless obeisance to a Christian saint.
However, even wearing it on St. Patrick’s Day might have been dangerous in some quarters as when TheWearing of the Green reported, in reference to the shamrock, that
“… It’s the most distressful country that you have ever seen For they’re hanging men and women for the wearing of the Green.”
5The Rights of Man, by John Sheils. The air to which it is most commonly sung is that of the Irish Language song Eanach Cuain/ Anach Cuan but I have composed an original air for it and sing it a little faster than the song about that boat sinking tragedy.
The media announces that “the population of Ireland has reached 5 million … for the first time in 170 years”. Interesting – and a barefaced lie! The population of Ireland passed 5 million some time ago and is actually around 6.5 million now.1
Ireland remained with negative population growth until near the end of the last century – mismanaged for most of the population first by the British occupiers of the whole of the island, then by a combination of the native neo-colonial bourgeoisie and of the settler colonial ruling class.
For more than a century the population of Ireland stood at around 5 million, static despite a high birth rate. This was mathematically possible only through continual massive emigration – mostly to English-speaking regimes: Britain, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
But it is true that 170 years ago it was more than 5 million – in fact it was around 8.5 million. And it is worth reflecting on how they were able to produce enough food domestically to feed that entire population while now, with a smaller population, we import as much as 80% from abroad.2
It was the Great Hunger that wiped out much of the earlier population, statistics somewhat hiding the pain and sorrow of millions of Irish in death, disease and emigration — and the great transfer of land for cultivation (and rent) to pasturage, with its dangerous environmental impact.
It provided an opportunity for growth of the Catholic Irish capitalist class, the Gombeens, huckstering money-lenders buying up the lands of afflicted neighbours.
The kind of class that the British could depend on in 1921 to manage the neo-colony and to murder and jail those of national liberation3.
Emigration kept population stats steady and, combined with unemployment, ensured a low internal home market for development. An educated workforce and natural resources could be developed but the Gombeen class opened it all to foreign multinationals rather than develop it themselves.
Even with foreign exploitation of the workforce at home, the education system turned out mostly emigration fodder: the Irish tax-payers funded an education system to provide a literate and numerate English-speaking workforces for capitalist exploitation abroad.
No wonder the Irish political class declined to give the Irish abroad a vote in the Irish state – unlike for decades any other state in the European Market. Yet during the 1930s through to the 1960s, money sent home by Irish migrants accounted for an estimated 30% of the Irish State’s economy.4
The Irish state remains a neo-colony with low taxation and other incentives for foreign companies to take over our few industries5 and local and foreign property speculators to rake in profits out of the despair of homelessness or of struggling to meet rent or mortgage payments.
A neo-colonial market for produce of foreign companies and to plunder not only our labour force, not only our natural resources on land, sea and wind and but even our infrastructures in transport and communication, energy, health service, water supply and even our city sanitation.
The announced statistics were truncated, appropriate perhaps for a truncated country, with the history behind those statistics not so much truncated as obliterated.
That is our present and our past but not how the future has to be – we can write our own future but we won’t do it by putting a mark on a ballot paper.
3The Irish Civil War or Counterrevolution, 1922-1923.
4I have read this in the past but am unable now to find the reference; however I have posted some references on the figures of remittances from Irish emigrants.
5 For a few examples of foreign takeover: Irish stout, beer and lagers (Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp); Irish whiskey (Paddy, Jameson, Bushmills); cigarettes (Afton); preserved vegetables (Erin); aviation (Aer Lingus); public transport (Transport for Ireland; LUAS); sugar (Irish sugar beet replaced by subsidised cane sugar from the USA); woodlands (Coillte).
The Irish State recently commemorated the end of the Irish Civil War but what it was really doing was celebrating its victory over the democratic national liberation forces.
The Irish national bourgeoisie, the Gombeen ruling class, armed and supplied by British Imperialism and colonialism, in 1922 launched a war against the forces that had brought the British Occupiers to the negotiation table.
In that short war or counterrevolution, the Irish State formally executed over 80 Irish Republican Volunteers – many more than had the British during the War of Independence 1919-1921. It also shot dead and blew up surrendered Volunteers and kidnapped, tortured and murdered others.
The Irish government of the day put the financial cost of the Civil War at 50 million sterling which today would be near to 3 billion euro.
A curtain of repression settled over Ireland, in the Irish state and in the colony in the Six Counties (in particular from the RIC re-baptised as RUC and the State-armed Loyalists of the B-Specials). Many Republicans were in jail and if not, could not find work and so emigrated.
The political party allegedly representing the Republicans, Fianna Fáil, led by a former leader of the forces attacked by the State, joined the Gombeen system and became in fact the preferred party of the Irish ruling class.
Though the Republican forces recovered and returned to the struggle in the 1930s (with the Communists against the fascist Blackshirts), again in the 1940s and onwards, they never again came close to winning control over the State.
What the Irish State has given us since its inception, even after the Civil War, has been generations of underdevelopment; unemployment and emigration; a huge decline in the Irish-speaking areas; inequality and social repression of women and LGBT people.
The latter was due to Catholic Church domination in every sphere of life, resulting in institutional physical, mental and sexual abuse, along with censorship in printed, audio and visual media and in banning of contraception.
The ruling class of the Irish State, the Gombeens, tolerated the foreign occupation and control of more than one-fifth of the island’s land mass and abandoned the large Catholic minority in the colony to discrimination and pogroms.
It tolerated also institutional and media racism against the Irish diaspora in Britain, the repressive legislation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the jailing for long sentences of a score of innocent Irish people in five different cases in the 1970s.
The Irish State tolerated Loyalist/ British Intelligence bombing inside its territory, failed to protect its citizens from terrorist bombing in the 1970s and covered up its complicity, for example with regard to the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings.
In addition, it used a Loyalist bombing to disarm the opposition to repressive legislation, not against Loyalists but against Irish Republicans, sending Republican activists to jail on the unsupported word of a senior police officer.
More recently this Irish State that we inherited has given us a housing crisis while it makes the territory a rich hunting ground for property speculators, bankers, landlords and vulture funds and also sells off/ gives away our natural resources, public transport and other infrastructures.
The selling-off includes our health service which is also in crisis while the private companies chop off parts of it and sell service back to the State at a profit. And a country that was able to feed 8.5 million prior to 1845 (and export foodstuffs) cannot now feed 5 million without huge imports.
They have given us nothing to celebrate but as always, there is a choice. We can bemoan the situation or we can “take back the nation they’ve sold” (Soldiers of Twenty-Two). And that cannot be done through electing any party or parties into the system.
On the 49th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings a number of speakers criticised the Garda closure of its investigation a mere four months after the bombing with the highest number killed in any one day of the 30 years war.
The criticisms were made on 17th May at the annual commemoration of the atrocity in Talbot Street, Dublin, organised by the Justice For the Forgotten campaign, held at the location of the memorial on the site of one of the bombings of that day.
The annual commemoration has been organised for many years by the Justice For the Forgotten campaigning group at the Talbot Street monument to the bombing1. It usually comprises reminiscences, poetry and music and a call for the British State to release its secret papers.
As of rote, an Irish Government Minister is invited to speak who routinely says how hard the Irish Government has been trying to get the British State to release the secret papers revealing the latter’s connection to those who carried out the bombing.
Years after the bombings, a British TV company (!) pointed the finger at the Ulster Volunteer Force, a British Loyalist paramilitary group but believed acting under British Intelligence agency direction, named some of those involved and a week later the UVF claimed responsibility.
In addition to British Intelligence, the British colonial police2 and British Army3 had been widely known to be working in collusion with Loyalists.
But few would have suspected Irish State collusion.
THE BOMBINGS AND AFTERMATH
On 17th May 1974 three car bombs exploded without warning in crowded Dublin city centre streets and another in Monaghan town centre. Thirty-three people were killed along with a full-term baby and a miscarriage with around 300injured. No-one was ever even charged in relation to the atrocity.
The intention, unlike that of many other city car-bombings in the Six Counties and in England, was clearly to cause maximum death and injury to civilians. The areas chosen in Dublin were full of shops with bus stops and 5.30pm was going home time from shopping and work.
And no warning was given.
In the course of the short Garda4 investigation, in macabre irony the remains of the exploded cars were sent for forensic examination to their very source: the Six Counties, i.e to the colonial police force (at the time, the RUC5). Unsurprisingly, nothing useful came back.
In a war that was already five years old (six years, if the civil rights marches are included) the collusion between the British colonial police and Loyalist paramilitary murder gangs was well known and collusion with the British Army widely suspected.
CAMPAIGN OF BOMBING DUBLIN
The Loyalist bombing of two cities in the Irish state in 1974, although by far the worst of the whole period, were not the first in Ireland, not even the first fatal ones.
In 1973 a Loyalist bomb in Dublin city killed Tommy Douglas and the year before that another killed George Bradshaw and Tommy Duffy – all were employees of Irish public transport state company CIE.
Even after the horror of 1974, on 29th November 1975, another a bomb at Dublin Airport killed John Hayes, a worker there.
And there were other earlier ones where no-one was injured, such as the blowing up of the Wolfe Tone monument just outside Stephens Green on 8th February 19716 and the Daniel O’Connell Monument in Glasnevin Cemetery (the round tower) in December 1971.
If the Irish State had pursued investigations and cross-Border links after the earliest of those bombings, they might have headed off the carnage that followed later.
Not only did they not do so but in fact used the 1972 bombing to blame Irish Republicans so as to get an unpopular piece of repressive legislation through parliament, the Amendment to the Offences Against the State Act, along with the establishment of the no-jury Special Criminal Court7.
The Garda Commissioner at the time of the 1974 bombings was Patrick Malone and Ed Garvey, his Assistant Commissioner, was later exposed as a British Secret Service asset run by Fred Holroyd, a disenchanted British agent who revealed he had visited the policeman in his Dublin HQ.
Garvey, by then Commissioner, denied being a British agent and claimed no memory of the visit.
The Barron Report (2003) concluded that visit had undoubtedly occurred and that he had not informed his superiors, contrary to all rules regarding contact with agents working for a foreign government.8 When Fianna Fáil came into Government again, they sacked Garvey.
Since FF had not subjected him to a regular disciplinary process, probably in order to avoid the sordid story going public, Garvey was able to sue the Irish Government, win damages and ensure he received his former pension entitlements.
THE COMMEMORATION EVENT
Aidan Shields, who lost his sister Maureen in the bombing, chaired the event for Justice for the Forgotten and introduced its Secretary Margaret Unwin who, as all speaking or performing at the event seemed conscious that next year would be the 50th anniversary of the atrocity.
The regular Government slot was occupied by the current Tánaiste (Dep. Prime Minister) Mícheál Martin who, as has every Government representative since the JFTF commemorations began, claimed energetic diplomatic discussions for release of the papers with their British counterparts.
Martin also criticised the British Government’s widely-criticised intended legislation to prevent official investigations and trials regarding past crimes committed by British forces, while he simultaneously praised the British pacification process.
A young Italian woman played the theme from the Schindler’s List film and another air on violin. A visiting Italian couple had been killed in the bombing also but that was not mentioned when she was introduced.
Rachel Hegarty read from her poetry compilation about the victims, based on testimonies by surviving relatives and friends. Cormac Breatnach on high D whistle and Eoin Dillon on uileann pipes played the Irish air Tabhair Dom Do Lámh (“Give Me Your Hand”).
The Shillelagh North Ukulele Group played and sang The Sound of Silence and Things (we used to do), both appropriate in metaphorical context, the first for the official silence about the perpetrators and their British intelligence organisation, the second about the loss of the victims and to their loved ones.
Dublin City Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy, of the Green Party, spoke about the atrocity and criticised the closing of the Garda investigation a mere four months after the bombing.9
Well-known journalist and former TV presenter Vincent Browne gave the oration at the event and went into horrific detail on some of the injuries he had witnessed as a journalist at the scene with his doctor brother as they struggled to help the victims still alive.
Browne departed from the subject of the bombing, as a few had done to speak of the long war and the Good Friday Agreement but in his case also to accuse the Provisional IRA of having killed most of the people during the 30 Years War which seemed not appropriate on this occasion.
Seán Conlon, Cathaoirleach (Chair) of Monaghan Council10 spoke of the bombing and focused on the effect on his town. He also condemned the early closing of the Garda investigation and the failure to pressurise the British State into releasing security papers relevant to the bombing.11
A number of speakers referred optimistically to the investigation into the Glenanne Gang by former English police chief Jon Boucher, who was present in the crowd at the commemoration. Boucher is heading a number of other historical investigations, including that of Stakeknife.12
The older age profile of the attendance was noticeable with only two teenagers visible and this in itself must be of concern.
FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF STATE COLLUSION AND COVER-UP
The failure to investigate the earlier Loyalist bombings and apprehend the perpetrators made the planning and execution of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings much easier. The early closing of the Garda investigation of the 1974 bombings ensured the perpetrators would run free.
As well as failing relatives and friends of those murdered and injured in Dublin on the 17th May 1974, the lack of pursuit had repercussions for many other victims of Loyalist murder squads, in particular the over 120 victims of the Glenanne Gang, including the Miami Band Massacre in 1975.
An aspect not normally commented upon was the choice of predominantly working class areas for Dublin massacre victims. It was not the high-end Henry or Grafton Streets that were chosen but the more working-class shopping areas of Talbot Street and Parnell Street.
The fatal Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973 had also been directed at workers by location: three public transport workers and an airport worker.
THE GOMBEENS: A CRAVEN CLIENT RULING CLASS
The whole chain of events from the first Loyalist bombing of Dublin points quite clearly to the client nature of the Irish national bourgeoisie, the ruling class of the Irish State. Even if it wanted to, it is too weak to make strong demands of the British State.
What self-respecting national ruling class would allow a foreign power to send terrorists to bomb its capital city? And then collude with that power in drawing silence and secrecy over the atrocity?
None, of course. But the Irish bourgeoisie came into being in a truncated client state and, armed and equipped by its master, went to war for two years (1922-1923) against the very national liberation forces that had brought the British State with offered concessions to the negotiation table.13
To talk of uniting Ireland under such a class, apart from being impractical nonsense, is a travesty. To expect any real change by electing a party or combination of parties to government in such a situation is a pipe-dream.
The 1974 bombing, the subsequent investigation and the record of Irish governments since in relation to the bombing are together a stark illustration of the spineless nature of the Irish bourgeoisie when dealing with their masters.
A client ruling class yes but more accurately, a servant.14
1There was originally a plaque at the Garden of Remembrance and the Talbot Street monument was erected in 1977 after campaigning by relatives and victims. There is also a monument in Monaghan Town. In Dublin there is also a plaque at the site of another explosion that killed people that day in Parnell Street.
2Now the Police Service of Northern Ireland, formerly the Royal Ulster Constabulary (and before that, up until 1921, the Royal Irish Constabulary, when the whole of Ireland was under direct British rule).
3In particular the Ulster Defence Regiment, which had recruited from the part-time RUC B-Specials when the latter were disbanded but also special units such as the MRF in special operations and more generally across the whole of the occupation forces.
5When the Irish State and colony statelet were created in 1921, the colonial gendarmerie of the Royal Irish Constabulary in the colony became the Royal Ulster Constabulary. In more recent years the force has change its name to the Police Force of Northern Ireland.
6The body of the monument to the Anglican leader of the United Irishmen was destroyed but the head was salvageable and rests on the re-cast body of the monument today.
7The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has dubbed that Court “a sentencing tribunal” but every party in government since has upheld those repressive provisions and Sinn Féin has abandoned its decades of opposition to them as it prepares to enter government in coalition with one party or another.
8Having a Garda Commissioner who was or became a British Intelligence agent might be shocking until we remind ourselves that the current Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, coming from being Assistant Commissioner of the PSNI, was at least formerly part of MI5 operations in the colony and that must have been known to those who appointed him!
9Mayors of Dublin City are selected for one year from among the elected councillors. It is more of a ceremonial role than an executive one and the choice is usually negotiated in turn from among the represented political parties.
11A number commented that his contribution was so much better in every way than that of last year’s Monaghan Cathaoirleach. Conlon is a member of the Sinn Féin party and some may say his posture would therefore be expected. However, given changes in the party’s public position on many questions in recent years, a hard stand against the British administration no longer seems natural for this party’s public representatives.
13Irish Civil War (or as some see it, the Irish Counterrevolution) 1922-1923.
14It should be noted that the Gombeen class has also been a client in turn of US Imperialism and of EU Imperialism, with all of which it aligns itself on most questions of international policy and to which it opens up its markets, natural resources and infrastructure networks.
The May issue of this newspaper has been out for some weeks and the organisers did well to manage that in the midst of disruptive arrests of their housing activists and raids and arrests following their Easter Rising Commemoration1.
As before, this issue consists of sixteen A4 sides, therefore easy enough to handle and contains what seems the right mixture between short event reports and news items, along with a couple of analytical pieces, one on ‘workerism’ and a thought-provoking other on peat-cutting and energy.
A two-page spread on James Connolly and the Irish Republic quotes extensively from Connolly but without giving any references. This can be an issue since a number of statements commonly attributed to both Connolly and Lenin are lacking in substantial (or even any) verification2.
This edition discusses issues and events in Ireland but also internationally. Reports from the agrarian revolutionary movements in parts of India and in the Phillipines are featured – a list of attacks and casualties inflicted upon the oppressors’ forces.
Another piece marks the death of Palestinian activist Adnan Khader on the 76th day of his hunger strike protest against Israeli ‘administrative detention’ – internment in fact. The mass struggles in France against the raising of the retirement age are also featured.
For Ireland there are reports on the housing struggle, against police repression in the Six Counties, historical commemorations, poster and graffiti campaigns, a sectarian attack in Lurgan and another article deals with mental health issues and the shortage of services in Tipperary.
As commented in an earlier review of this newspaper, the Irish revolutionary movement has long needed a hard-copy revolutionary newspaper. As Lenin commented3, the revolutionary newspaper is an organiser as it requires production and distribution.
Of course, distribution networks for a newspaper can become action-organising networks also but in any case meeting a person to give them a newspaper is a personal contact, when questions and criticisms can be discussed and other information from the community collected to act upon.
This form of contact for the individual is superior to those available on the Internet and also less easy for the State to monitor. A newspaper can also go from hand to hand in a way that only short pieces or videos can compare with in electronic distribution.
Though of course, the latter also has its strengths.
Future editions of APA are to be welcomed and in the fullness of time perhaps we can even graduate to a weekly revolutionary Irish socialist newspaper, not seen here for decades.
An Phoblacht Abú is available from personal contact with AIA or by post from Isrmedia@protonmail.com
1. See https://rebelbreeze.com/2023/05/07/gardai-arrest-republican-denouncing-the-monarchy-british-occupation/ Although the raid may well have been intended to disrupt plans for protests against US Imperialism’s chief, Joe Biden’s visit to Ireland, a socialist Republican still faces concocted charges relating to membership of an imaginary “illegal organisation”. Under special repressive legislation such a charge without credible evidence has been sufficient, in the no-jury Special Criminal Courts, to jail Republicans for two years.
2 For example, I have searched diligently for the description of the Irish Citizen Army attributed to Lenin, viz. “the first Red Army in Europe” but have thus far failed to find verification.
Text from ONA FALCO@ONA_FALCO in Publico.es (translator D.Breatnach note: CUP = United People’s Candidature)
(Reading time: 4 mins.)
The head of the CUP-Alternativa candidate list for Barcelona, Basha Changue, declared this Saturday that, after “four years out of the City Council”, but “fighting from the streets”, they will return to the assembly on May 28.
They intend to “retake their place” and to “combat the lukewarm policies” developed, in her opinion, by the (regional Catalan) government of Colau.
Once inside, says Changue, anyone who seeks their support (trans. note: e.g for a coalition) will have to be in favour of “a Barcelona committed to national and linguistic rights”, for the “decrease in tourism” and the “radical defence of housing”.
“Gentlemen and Ladies Maragall, Trias, Colau and Collboni, there are no half measures: it is the capital or the neighboring ones”, she declared.
Her voice was heard by dozens of people in Barcelona’s Can Fabra square, in the Sant Andreu district, in the central act of the campaign for the municipal elections on the 28th.
Carles Riera, the Deputy in the Catalan Regional Parliament has indicated that “the only candidature for independence in the Catalan Countries is the CUP” and that “they will return to the Barcelona City Council to combat big capital and the bosses’ agenda”.
“Junts (trans. note: Puigdemont’s party) has renounced the independence movement in its program: it wants to go back to being Convergència i Unió” (Convergence and Unity,right-wing Catalan nationalist party preceding formation of Junts – trans. note) — Carles Riera.
Riera was combative, encouraging the public to mobilize for a “vote to confront the State, the vote that does them the most damage.”
He also accused the parties Junts per Catalunya and ERC, “which are the construction force”, those behind the “macro-projects that carve up the territory” – citing the Winter Olympic Games, the Quart Cinturó, the expansion of the airport and the tourist complex of the Hard Rock.
Basha Changue: “Barcelona is designed to be projected as set for Instagram, not for those who live in it.”
She added that they already understood “why Junts has renounced the independence movement in its program: it wants to go back to being Convergència i Unió and wants to put the town halls at the service of big capital in exchange for power.”
28th MARCH AS A “TURNING POINT”
Deputy in Congress Mireia Vehí pointed out that they are “the alternative to the model that replaces the public with the private, that stands up to the Trias of the red carpet and the Collboni of the shop window”.
Referring to the voters who are dissatisfied with the pro-independence parties, she assured that “free Catalan Countries are also made from municipalism” and that “voting for the CUP is a vote of pride and revolt”.
The CUP wants to guarantee its presence in plenary session and reverse the results of most of the polls that leave them out of the assembly.
CUP ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN
Changue stated that the CUP are made “invisible” because those in power are “afraid”.
The candidate added that the transformation of Barcelona “will not be possible as long as those in power continue to open the doors of the institutions to fascism and whitewash their speeches in the town halls and in the parliaments”.
Along the same lines, the number two on the list in Barcelona, Jordi Estivill, has emphasised that there is “a strategy” to silence them, but that they will respond “with more determination and a vote of punishment, which will bring miseries to the centre”.
04/25/2023 – The Deputy in Catalan regional Parliament Laia Estrada and the mayor of Sant Boi, Jordi Barbero, in the presentation of the CUP campaign for the municipal elections.
The event in the Can Fabra square, where the number three in Barcelona, Adriana Llena, and the mayor of the CUP in Sant Cugat del Vallès, Marco Simarro, have also appeared, took place simultaneously to another act of the CUP in Palma.
Parliamentary Deputy Eulàlia Reguant made it clear: “We are at a turning point. We are going all out. We are in San Andreu and Palma because the CUP has faith and we are Països Catalans.” (the Catalan Countries’, which includes Valencia, Balearic Islands along with Pau in the French state – trans. note).
Translator: The nominally pro-independence Catalan parties in the regional part-autonomous Catalan Parliament include ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) which is currently in government; Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), a varied coalition to which Puigdemont belongs, formerly more militant than the ERC); along with the CUP, a more left-wing coalition which has voted for independence motions but declined to join with ERC in coalition or with the previous Junts/ ERC ruling coalition.
After the vote for independence in the 2017 Referendum and Spanish police attack on the voters, it was Puigdemont as previous President of the Parliament that declared Catalan independence but almost immediately suspended it, to great Catalan confusion.
Apparently this was on a promise of support from within the EU which was reneged upon and Puigdemont has since declared his regret for the suspension.
Subsequently the Spanish State tried and jailed a number of ERC and Junts Members of Parliament and officials of the Catalan Government while others, including Puigdemont and a CUP leader, went into exile in the EU and UK.
The Spanish State unsuccessfully tried to extradite them to face charges of “rebellion and fraud”.
Hundreds of Catalans, including municipal officials, elected representatives and protesters face Spanish state charges and possible jail arising from those days of mobilising for independence and in protest at police repression.
While the Gardaí face accusations of treating far-Right violence too lightly, the State plans to increase the maximum sentence for assault on members of the force to 12 years in jail, nearly double the current maximum of seven years.1
Minister for Justice Simon Harris was seeking approval today for the increase as amendments to the Criminal Justice (Miscelaneous Provisions) Bill which has passed all stages in the Irish Parliament and is now going through the Seanad.
The increase in maximum sentence lumps emergency services such as paramedics and firefighters with State repressive forces of police, prison officers and armed forces.
This is a disguising measure since forces of repression are not the same as those of emergency services, even if in the event of a disaster all may be employed together. The State expects increased resistance from working people and therefore feels a need for increased repression.
According to some media reports there have been complaints that the Gardaí have been failing to respond adequately to crimes committed by fascists and other far-Rightists, including threatening behaviour and arson.2
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, former British colonial police (PSNI) Assistant Commissioner3 responded that getting tough with the far-Right would be playing into their hands and that the Garda response is measured appropriately.
One must wonder how permitting threats of violence, acts of assault and arson against refugees and their supporters can be considered appropriately measured from any viewpoint other than that of the perpetrators.
Much harder Garda responses have been seen through the years to striking workers, water-meter and housing protesters, Irish Republican events and – yes – antifascist counter-protests against fascists and other far-Rightists.
Not giving the fascists the confrontation they’re allegedly looking for might disappoint some of them but on the other hand many will be encouraged and get to feel that they can do more or less what they like without repercussions from the Gardaí.
According to Saturday’s Irish Times, some of the criticism of Garda tolerance of far-Right crimes comes from confidential sources within the force itself.
The discourse that policing these protests is ‘complex’ is a distraction from the fact that vulnerable people who are harming no-one are entitled to live without fear of violence to their person or to their meagre belongings, about which there is nothing ‘complex’ at all.
Having to live on the street due to the failings of the State is bad enough without being subjected to additional threats.
On a number of occasions Gardaí have attacked and threatened antifascists confronting the far-Right, revealing where the general sympathies of the State lie, despite condemnations of the far-Right by Government Ministers, politicians and the Garda Commissioner.
Historically, capitalism has turned to fascism to suppress the resistance of the working class to being made to pay for crises in the system. And fascists have often enough been found within the police force themselves.
Indeed, in Ireland it was the ex-Commissioner of the police, Eoin O’Duffy, who led the fascist Blueshirts, while the religous sectarian, racist and murderous nature of the colonial police in the Six Counties is a long established fact.
The police are the first physical force agency of the State and the armed forces its second. Increasing the penalty for assaults on these means the State is anticipating an increase of assault charges in days to come, quite probably as people defend themselves from police attack.
In fact, it is well known that if the police assault people, they regularly charge their victims with assault, so that the police can explain the injuries of their victims as inflicted in ‘self-defence’ or in measures taken against a person ‘resisting arrest’.
1Sentences for assaults on gardaí to rise, Irish Times, 23 May 2023.
I have been sent this article from The Morning Star, newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain, a reprint from The People’s World, like-minded newspaper from the USA.
The article is about the removal by right-wingers in the USA of a marker commemorating worker organiser, women’s suffrage campaigner, anti-racist and anti-fascist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn in her home town of Concord, Massachusetts, USA.
An omission in the article, which the Morning Star chose not to correct, is the Irish background of the article’s subject, class fighter Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Is this important? It certainly was to the subject herself who, in her biography, emphasised her Irish background.
She wrote of the importance to her of claiming both Irish family names in her ancestry and always used them both: Gurley and Flynn. But in particular for the CPGB, operating in a state that is oppressing Ireland, it should be of importance how Irish people are represented.
Especially in a culture with a deep and long streak of anti-Irish racism.
The CPGB never supported the armed struggle by Irish people against its masters nor stood up for the defence of the Irish diaspora in Britain, subject to racism in the media, to police persecution and to judicial and legal racism in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.
This is despite the enormous contribution of the Irish diaspora to the trade union and socialist movement in Britain in shop stewards, activists and leaders.
With Bronterre O’Brien and Fergus O’Connor, the Irish diaspora gave the British working class two leaders of the first mass movement of workers in Britain, the Chartists. The anthem of the class, The Red Flag, was composed by Jim Connell from Co. Meath (though they used the wrong air).
And the classic novel of the class, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, was penned by Robert Tressel, pen-name of Robert Noonan, born and reared in Dublin.
The CPGB in fact has a long association with British colonialism and its very title is an indication of that.
On 26 April 1937, the Basque town of Gernika was bombed during the Spanish Anti-Fascist/ Civil War on the orders of leaders of the military-fascist coup against the elected Government of the Second Spanish Republic.
The townspeople remember this in an annual candlelit procession.
Wikipedia gives the numbers of dead as between 150 and 1,650, a huge variance reflecting the politicisation of the historical event very much still in the present.1 The military-fascists were the victors and a four-decade fascist dictatorship ensued, never overthrown but amended in the 1980s.
Another source agrees with the higher figure and points out that a third of the town’s population then of 5,000 inhabitants, were either killed or injured.2
A tradition has grown to mark the bombing with the sounding of a siren at 4pm, the time when the bombing began. The siren sounded this year is a survivor from the Astra handgun factory of the time which strangely, was recently discovered in Catalonia and returned to the town Council.
In the evening, outdoors theatre presentations are held and the town centre is circled in procession by people carrying lit candles, led by a group carrying a giant Basque flag. I was fortunate (and honoured) to be invited by a Basque friend this year to participate in both events.
BOMBING AND LIES
The actual bombing was carried out by external fascist allies, the Nazi German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion and the Fascist Italian Aviazione Legionaria, under the code-name “Operation Rügen”. It was one of theearliest cases of the mass-bombing by air planes of an urban population.3
It has remained infamous for that reason but also because the Catalan artist Pablo Picasso made a famous painting about the atrocity, though he called it by the Spanish-language name for the town: “Guernica”. Planes also carried out strafing runs over fleeing civilians, shooting them down.
As has become a regular facet of fascism, the military-fascists lied, denying culpability. In a more specific kind of fascist lying, they tried to blame the damage on arson by their opponents, i.e by antifascists. An English journalist reporting on the war for the London Times went to investigate.
He was George Steer and provided evidence from bomb fragments and eye-witnesses that the bombing was by fascist planes.
Despite the known active support of the fascist countries for the military uprising, the western powers promoted ‘non-intervention’, even blockading assistance to the embattled Republic. The Soviet Union and socialist Mexico were the Republic’s only external allies.
Historians since have argued about whether there was a straightforward military rationale for the bombing or whether it was a question of terrorising the Basque people. It is undeniable that the 26th was a market day and that Gernika was of particular national historical importance to the Basques.
Gernika is in the Basque province of Bizkaia, which had joined in with the Second Spanish Republic in opposition to the military-fascist coup attempt, as had Gipuzkoa and Alava provinces – the latter however was taken quite early by fascists.
The remaining Basque province inside the Spanish State (there are another three inside the French state) was Nafarroa (Navarre) where the national Carlist movement was reactionary and joined the fascists, their militias murdering around 1,000 Nafarroan Republicans and Socialists.
The military-fascist uprising, supplied hugely with armaments, transport and personnel supplies overwhelmed the isolated Second Republic and all the areas that had stood by the Republic were placed under military occupation, followed by the worst repression of all.
Gernika and surrounding areas were occupied by Spanish, Italian and German troops and the whole Spanish state, after April 1939, entered four decades of dictatorship under General Franco. After a while, resistance broke out in strikes and in armed guerrilla struggle.
But to commemorate the bombing of Gernika in a broad appropriate and popular act only became possible some years after the death of Franco in 1975.
In addition to the public performance of theatre, dance and music, the people bring candles or collect them let and walk in procession around the town, led by a group holding a spread giant Ikurrina (Basque flag).
People in various parts of the Spanish State had been pushing for recovering historical memory, commemoration of events and disinterment of mass graves, whether secretly or in the open. In 2017 a number of groups working in historical memory got together in the Gernika Lumo area.
Their intention was to coordinate their efforts so that Gernika would become a focus for considering aspects of justice and peace, not just in the Basque Country but internationally. Among their objectives was the relocation of Picasso’s “Guernica” painting to Gernika itself.4
While the current annual commemoration then has been developing for only five years, work has been going on by constituent groups and others for years before that and, of course, the inspirational events occurred 86 years ago in what some consider the opening stages of WW2.
These commemorative events would be of great importance in any conceivable period but are more so in the current one of the rise once more of fascism across the world.
3It is often quoted as the first such case but it wasn’t: On 29 March 1936, Italian Fascist planes bombed the Ethiopian city of Harar. Seeing Gernika as the first may represent a Eurocentric viewpoint. Coincidentally, journalist George Steer covered that war also.
4The painting is permanently on exhibition in Madrid, 422 km. away.
Refugees living in tents on streets in Dublin were targeted last week by fascists and antifascists have confronted the latter in defence. Shelters of refugees have been torched.
There’s been some anti-immigrant discourse in Ireland, especially promoted by fascists and racists for a few years but it really took off during the Government’s handling of the Ukrainian refugee influx.
The Irish Government for pro-NATO reasons prioritised these over other refugees, also placing the Ukrainians in empty buildings in working class areas already low on social infrastructure and without consultation with the local community, some of whom reacted angrily.
The Irish Government handed the fascists and other racists a great opportunity and they grasped it.
After that issue had died down a bit, the fascists were looking for something to take its place and found it again in other refugees, this time those who were NOT being housed by the Government and were instead living in tents on streets around the IPO office in Mount Street.
The International Protection Office was supposed to organise to provide for the basic needs of refugees – in fact are legally obliged to – while their cases were being processed and had been failing to do so, hence the people it had failed living in tents around the area.
FASCISTS GO TO ATTACK THE REFUGEES
The refugees got some sympathetic coverage in articles in the Cork Examiner and Irish Times1. Perhaps it was this that stirred up well-known fascist Phillip Dwyer (known hater of women, migrants, LGBT and Muslims) to go and attack those people living on the street.
On Thursday 11th Dwyer turned up with his “security” people, i.e fascist goons, thinking to run the refugees out of there and perhaps do worse. But he was met with resistance including some people helping the refugees, two of the goons got hurt and they backed off.
According to a statement on Revolutionary Housing Action’s Twitter account, one of the defenders was ambushed when he went to collect his bike and while fighting them off, they threw a bike at him. Dwyer and his fascist hounds promised to be back.
Streetlink homeless service stated that on Friday, they were threatened and their outreach van pummelled while they packed refugee belongings and then boxed in so they had to suspend their outreach service for that evening, handing on outreach contacts to other services.
On Friday 12th Dwyer was back with a larger mob but met by a broad group of antifascists, including RHL, AIA, PBP, CATU, CYM, DCAR and independent antifascist activists2 (AIA statement onTwitter, Saturday 13 May). Dublin Republicans Against Fascism were there too.
The violence against persons was now turned on the pitiful shelters and belongings which, on Friday night were set on fire.
On Saturday 13th, the fascist Irish Freedom Party held their rally on Custom House Quay against hate speech legislation being considered by the Government. From there they marched, not against the Government but against the homeless refugees.
According to local sources, the fascists distributed leaflets asking people to be electoral candidates and promising to help the inexperienced.
What was the connection between a protest allegedly about ‘free speech’ and a march on homeless refugees? Absolutely none, except the standard fascist agenda of targeting minorities to divide the working people and scream about free speech while using violence against their targets.
But in a cunning move, the NP who have never helped any area, were there afterwards cleaning up the area and placing flowerpots there.
Meanwhile, on Thursday night, the Revolutionary Housing League stated that they had opened one of the many empty buildings in Dublin to house the targeted refugees. The RHL have been opening up empty buildings for over a year now and encouraging others to do so.
Subsequently, Leo Varadkar, of the very Government that set up the conditions for this to happen, declared how unacceptable the attack on the refugees was. And following strong criticism from the Refugee Council, the State suddenly found it could house most of the refugees.
If true, hopefully good for those refugees but the fascists will now bleat about how “foreigners are getting treated better than the Irish” to the gullible and, also among themselves, be commenting that violence brings results.
The fascists have been stirring up local community fears with allegations that some of the refugees are paedophiles on the run from justice in their own countries, for which there is not a shred of evidence.
Ironically, while they attacked LGBT people as “paedophiles” some of the far-right have for decades been defending the Catholic Church hierarchy in Ireland from criticism and accusations of abuse of children and women in their institutions.
Lies spill from fascist lips as a matter of course: “immigrants are rapists and paedophiles, LGBT people are paedophiles, migrants are rapists, migrants are being treated better than the natives, the whites are being replaced by people of colour, muslims are taking over”, etc, etc.
THE GARDAÍ AND THE FASCISTS
The Gardaí, including the Public Order Unit, stood between the antifascists and the fascist-led mob on Friday, then kettled the antifascists for awhile, then followed the antifascist contingent up Pearse Street with fascists tailing along. When the antifascists dispersed, some of them were attacked.
The Irish Times on Monday 15th reported on a complaint from the Garda Representative Association that they are unable to police these events, don’t know about refugees, need training, etc.3
What is there to know? Refugees are as entitled as anyone else to be kept free from violence and the Gardaí could have arrested a number of fascists, had they wanted to, under the Public Order Act, which they regularly use against left-wing protests.
In September 2020, when unarmed antifascists went to counter-protest a Yellow Vest4 rally against masking5 and were attacked by masked (!) thugs recruited by the National Party with wooden and metal clubs, the POU understood enough to draw batons and attack – the antifascists!
The following week, the Gardaí allowed NP fascists in Kildare Street to jostle and threaten a handful of LGBT campaigners and to club one of them to the ground. The Gardaí then ordered the woman, blood streaming from her head, to leave.
On both occasions the Garda press office issued statements saying that there had been no serious incidents. But the videos of the woman being assaulted and then ordered away went wide on social media and within a few hours, the Gardaí had changed their story.
However, it was ‘up to the victim’ whether she made a complaint (for an armed attack in a public place seen on video?)! She did, and eventually the particular assailant, Michael Quinn of the NP, was jailed for two years.6 But for Gardaí collusion with fascists and lying to the press? Nothing.
Given the wars instigated by US/NATO and EU around the world and deprivation by foreign exploitation of people’s natural resources, refugees and other migrants will continue coming to Europe, including Ireland.
The fascists will continue to target minorities and wave their fake patriotism and social concern while they recruit for their parties, diverting attention from the housing profiteers and the facilitating ruling class while they strive to drive wedges into the working people.
The local working class residents, for example in the block of flats overseeing the site of the conflict, will gain nothing except an undeserved bad reputation for what happened in their area and in which perhaps a few teenagers were opportunistically involved.
Already the recently-completed block of apartments just down the road from them is advertising one-bed apartments for 2,000 euro a month and two-beds for 3,000. None of the local working people of course will be renting those.
The cause of the housing crisis in Dublin will continue: property speculators, vulture funds and multi-unit landlords will continue to rake in profits because the Government won’t build housing for affordable rent in case it should compete with them.
Unless, that is, a real hard struggle including militant occupations and defiance of court orders is taken to them forcing a change, be it reform or revolution. This is a task for the Left which of course can never be carried out by fascists.
But hopefully many anti-fascists have learned or had reaffirmed the need for unity in a broad front against fascism and that confrontation and preparedness for physical defence against fascists is needed, while also discussing the most appropriate tactics for different situations.