WORLD WAR III?

APRIL 29, 2022

Reducing Tensions, Building Trust, De-escalating

From Counterpunch

BY JOHN LAFORGE

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The United States could immediately take direct actions that would de-escalate the over-arching nuclear threat that haunts Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. A few such actions would demonstrate good will and indicate a real intention to reduce tensions in the crisis which seems every day to grow more dangerous.

1. U.S. hydrogen bombs stationed in Europe could be withdrawn and their planned replacement cancelled.

The United States and Germany are formal states parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Articles I and II of the NPT flatly prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons from one states party to another. Any fourth grader can understand that the NATO practice of “nuclear sharing” with Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Turkey — which together have over 100 U.S. nuclear weapons — is an open violation of the clear, unambiguous, unequivocal and binding prohibitions of the NPT.

(Image sourced: Internet)

The United States stations an estimated 20 of its B61-3 and B61-4 thermonuclear gravity bombs at the German Air Force Base Büchel, 80 miles southeast of Cologne. These B61 H-bombs at Büchel are identified as “intermediate-yield strategic and tactical thermonuclear” bombs, and “the primary thermonuclear gravity bomb in the U.S.” according to the NuclearWeaponArchive.org.

Calling these weapons “intermediate” or “tactical” is shocking disinformation. The maximum yield of the B61-3 is 170 kilotons, and the maximum B61-4 yield is 50 kilotons, as reported by the Bulletin of the atomic Scientists. These H-bombs respectively produce over 11 times and 3 times the explosive blast, mass fire, and radiation of the 15-kiloton Hiroshima bomb that killed 140,000 people. (For background, see Lynn Eden’s “Whole World on Fire,” or Howard Zinn’s “The Bomb.”

The effects of detonating B61-3 or B61-4 bombs would inevitably be catastrophic mass destruction involving disproportionate, indiscriminate and long-lasting devastation. Plans to replace the current B61 with a new “model 12” could be cancelled now, and constitute a real ratcheting down of tensions in Europe.

2. The U.S. can discontinue its nuclear attack courses underway at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The U.S. studies and plans nuclear weapon attacks at classrooms of its Defense Nuclear Weapons School (DNWS), and the one branch school outside the U.S. is at Ramstein in Germany, the largest U.S. military base outside the country, headquarters of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and NATO Allied Air Command. Outlines of nuclear attack coursework can be read on the DNWS website, which boldly declares the school: “is responsible for delivering, sustaining and supporting air-delivered nuclear weapon systems for our warfighters …every day.”

One class outlined on the DNWS website is for “Theater Nuclear Operations,” described as “a 4.5-day course that provides training for planners, support staff, targeteers, and staff nuclear planners for joint operations and targeting. The course provides an overview of nuclear weapon design, capabilities, and effects as well as U.S. nuclear policy, and joint nuclear doctrine…. Objectives: … Understand the U.S. nuclear planning and execution process…; Understand the targeting effects of nuclear weapon employment….”

Dispensing with this nuclear attack planning school would reduce tensions and help eliminate Russia’s dread of the U.S./NATO nuclear posture.

3. NATO can suspend its provocative military exercises.

Attacks with U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe are regularly simulated or “rehearsed,” as is often reported. Recent headlines noted: “German Air Force training for nuclear war as part of NATO” (Kazakh Telegraph Agency 2020), “Secret nuclear weapons exercise ‘Steadfast Noon” (German Armed Forces Journal 2019), “NATO nuclear weapons exercise unusually open” (2017), and “NATO nuclear weapons exercise Steadfast Noon in Büchel” (2015).

Giant NATO war games routinely zero in on Russia. In 2018, there was “Trident Juncture” with 50,000 troops in Norway, and “Atlantic Resolve” was conducted in Eastern Europe. In 2016, some 16,000 troops gathered in Norway for “Cold Response,” and in “Anaconda 2016” another 31,000 troops from 24 countries were again in motion across Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In 2015, there was “Atlantic Resolve,” “Dragoon Ride,” and “Spring Storm,” all conducted across Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. In 2014, the routine “Cold Response” game in Norway involved 16,000 troops, and “Atlantic Resolve” took place in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

Beyond the annual “Steadfast Noon” simulations, complex, multinational NATO exercises in Eastern European countries just recently ballooned in number. In 2019, there was a single big exercise called “Atlantic Resolve.” In 2020 there were five. In 2021 the number leaped to eleven, and NATO that year made plans for a total of 95 exercises. Individual NATO states had plans for another 220 of their own war games. Nothing justifies Putin’s naked aggression, but the marked increase in NATO war practices would even make the Dali Lama defensive.

4. The U.S. and NATO could end their nuclear weapon “first-use” policy.

The public policy of readiness to initiate attack with nuclear weapons — not as a deterrent against being attacked with nuclear weapons, but its exact opposite — is at the heart of both U.S. and NATO “nuclear posture.” This perpetual threat to start nuclear attacks during a conventional conflict, especially in the context of routine NATO nuclear war exercises, is unnecessarily destabilizing and reckless. In view of the enormously overwhelming power of U.S. and NATO conventional military forces, the nuclear option is grossly redundant and militarily useless.

(Source image: The Irish Sun 2019)

After he retired, Paul Nitze, a former Navy Secretary and personal advisor to President Ron Reagan, wrote “A Threat Mostly to Ourselves” where he observed: “In view of the fact that we can achieve our objectives with conventional weapons, there is no purpose to be gained through the use of our nuclear arsenal.”

Now that the U.S. public as a whole has been transformed into one big anti-war group, it should recognize that it can influence our own government but not Russia’s. Our demands for negotiation, cease-fire, de-escalation and a peace agreement need to be directed in a way that has some chance of success. ###

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

DEATH OF A RETIRED WARRIOR

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 12 mins.)

In mid-April (2022) Gardaí, the police force of the Irish State, broke down the door of Mick Plunkett’s home. They would not have been able to claim he resisted their entry or arrest (the usual explanation for injuries on the detained individual) – he was already dead. To be fair to them, this time they were forcing entry in response to concerns from people that Plunkett had not been seen and wasn’t answering calls. Still, Mick Plunkett’s door had been forced by police a number of times before – by the Special Branch, at least once by the Garda ‘Heavy Gang’ and another time by the special ‘anti-terrorist’ Paris police.

Mick was born into a working class family of ten siblings in Dún Laoghaire, in Kelly’s Avenue in the small area of council houses built for rent to the seaward side of the town’s main road (without however overlooking the sea itself, a view reserved for the big houses and hotels, later somewhat ruined by the DART wires and towers). Dún Laoghaire1, long-imagined as a area in which only the affluent or at least comfortably-off lived, nevertheless contained such council (formerly ‘Corporation”) houses in the nearby bottom of York Road, also Cross Avenue, Glasthule, Carriglee Gardens, Monkstown Farm and Sallynoggin areas.

As many of that era, especially among manual workers, Mick’s father died relatively young which left his widow Lilly to care for ten children with all siblings able to work and find employment contributing to the care of the rest.

Mick followed his father Oliver into a skilled manual worker trade, trained and qualified as a gas fitter-plumber and, by reputation, a good one; later he would often carry out repair jobs for neighbours free of charge or in exchange for fish caught nearby or by trawlers that docked in the harbour. “We saw and ate fish that many other people never saw,” said one of his sisters at his funeral reception in the evening.

Amidst the student and youth upsurge of the 1960s around the world, of which Ireland was also a part, many Irish youth of the time became rapidly politicised. The Vietnam War, Black struggles in the USA and South Africa, Civil Rights in the British colony, lack of sufficient housing in the Irish state (just as today!) were issues that engaged lively interest and which to people like Plunkett, called for solidarity and, in Ireland, direct action. At his funeral, Niall Leonach2, formerly of the IRSP, related how Plunkett, at the age of 17, had resisted the neglect of the young apprentices by his union and won improvements by organising a sit-in at the union’s office.

April 1991 article Evening Mail on conditions in the Glasthule Housing Estate (Source image: CATU)

HOUSING AND HISTORY

The Dublin and Bray Housing Action Committees were campaigning for an end to slums and affordable rental housing around the city and Dún Laoghaire soon had its own Housing Action Committee too. Nial Leonach, former comrade of Plunkett’s told the mourners at Mount Jerome that a large public housing building program was initiated as a result of this campaigning, a program that not only replaced derelict inner city tenements but created large new housing areas such as that in Ballybrack in south county Dublin.

The Housing Action campaigns not only squatted homeless families, they also fought evictions, held marches and public meetings. And in at least one case, became involved in a struggle for historical building conservation.

A Dún Laoghaire IRSP public agitation and information post pictured in the IRSP’S Newspaper (Source image: CATU).

The Dún Laoghaire group joined with conservationists wishing to save Frescati House, a large derelict building on acreage of the property planned by Roches Stores to demolish and convert into a shopping centre. The original building dated from 1739 but had been purchased by the largest landowning family in Ireland at the time, the Fitzgeralds and had wings added and the grounds planted with exotic shrubs. The house had been the childhood residence and favoured retreat of Edward Fitzgerald3, a much-loved leader of the first Irish Republican revolutionary movement, the United Irishmen, as late as 1797, the year before their Rising.

The figures heading the campaign were not only conservationists but fairly conservative too (Desmond Fitzgerald, son of a father of the same name who was Minister in a number of Fine Gael governments, was its chairperson). But it was of course the activist supporters of the DHAC who occupied the building in protest at plans for demolition and were subjected to a baton-wielding police attack to evict them.4

Niall Leonach told the crowd in the Mount Jerome chapel that the criminal charges against the arrested were serious but that as a result of Plunkett’s stratagem of issuing a subpoena for Liam Cosgrave5 to appear as witness for their defence, for the politician had been part of the conservation campaign, the more serious charges were dropped and, on the lesser ones, the penalties were lower-scale fines.

Much of DHAC soon became the Markievicz Cumann of Sinn Féin6, then a very socialist Irish Republican party, particularly in Dublin. The Civil Rights campaign in the British colony of the Six Counties became a focus for activity and Leonach told his audience that Plunkett had been particularly affected by the colonial police killing of a child by indiscriminate fire from machine-guns at a nationalist housing estate, the Divis Flats.

In 1969 the IRA, the military wing of Sinn Féin, was caught unprepared and largely unarmed to face the pogroms in the British colony, which was one of the reasons for the 1970 split in the party, out of which emerged the Provisional IRA and Provisional Sinn Féin.

Plunkett and others in the Markievicz Cumann, the three Breatnach brothers for example7, viewing the Provos as socially conservative, remained in what was now known as “Official Sinn Féin” but tried to change their party’s direction. Failing in that, they split, along with others such as the charismatic Séamus Costello8 and formed the Irish Republican Socialist Party in 1974.

It seems clear that the ruling elite of the Irish State viewed the IRSP and the associated INLA as a threat and decided to go beyond the standard and regular harassment, intimidation and petty and medium arrests9 with which they had been treating all Irish Republicans and some socialist activists.

FRAMED IN DUBLIN AND IN PARIS

On 31st March 1976 the Cork-Dublin mail train was stopped near Sallins, Co. Kildare and around £200,00010 was netted by armed men. The State decided to believe, at least officially that the operation had been carried out by the INLA and armed police raided the homes of 40 members of the IRSP and their families. The Gardaí beat up their victims and obtained “confessions” from a number of them – however, some who gave self-incriminating statements could not have been present and their prosecutions were dropped.11 Eventually, a trial in the political Special Criminal Court proceeded against Plunkett and another three IRSP members: Osgur Breatnach, Nicky Kelly and Brian McNally.

Poster supporting the four framed and on trial for the Sallins Mail Train Robbery, depicting Mick Plunkett on far right of images. (Source image: Internet)

After many abuses of the legal system and the longest judicial procedure in the State, three of the four were convicted on the basis of their tortured “confessions” which they had denied. Forensic “evidence” was provided against the only one who had refused to sign a “confession” – an alleged lock of Plunkett’s hair12 was claimed to have been found at the scene of the robbery; that was insufficient and Plunkett was finally discharged. The others were released after years of campaigning13 and were paid a financial compensation but an official enquiry into the arrests, trials and convictions was never held and currently a campaign for such is underway.14.

Mick Plunkett remained politically active but after his arrest in the vicinity of an armed training camp was charged with “membership” and scheduled to appear before the Special Criminal Court. Plunkett, knowing the chances of acquittal in “the Special” were next to nil, decamped to France.

In Paris he and Mary Reid, a poet-activist and also formerly of the IRSP, shared accommodation. In the summer of 1982, their door was kicked down by armed police of the new special “anti-terrorist” French unit. Both were arrested, along with another Irishman Stephen King and charged with possession of automatic weapons and explosives. This followed the bombing of a delicatessen in the Jewish quarter of the city which was later revealed to have had police complicity.

Plunkett, Reid and King were accused of being part of an Irish-Palestinian cell, a figment of the special unit’s imagination. All three denied the charges and the accusation and the existence of such a cell, insisting that if any weapons and explosives had been found in their accommodation, it had been planted there by the police. Niall Leonach commented to the mourners in Mount Jerome that Plunkett had gone from being involved in the greatest miscarriage of justice in the Irish state to being accused in the greatest miscarriage of justice in the French State’s modern history.

Fortunately for the Irish accused, the special police unit was in serious conflict with the main police force and that helped bring to public view the fact that the armaments had, indeed, been planted on the accused by the “anti-terrorist” police unit. All three were released after nine months in jail and Mary Reid’s nine-year-old son Cathal had been taken into care. The whole case was by then such as to convince the Irish state authorities to refrain from severely embarrassing their French counterparts by requesting Plunkett’s extradition to face his charges in the Special Criminal Court.

FRANCE – OCTOBER 05: Michael Plunkett, Mary Reid, Stephen King in Vincennes, France on October 05th , 1983. (Photo by Eric BOUVET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images). Note poster of the Sallins Trial behind them.

Working in London at the time, I read the news about the arrests of Irish political activists in Paris and was shocked to see names I recognised. I remembered the last time I had seen Mick; I had been back in Dún Laoghaire on holiday and with four of my brothers we set off in Mick’s brother Jimmy’s rowing boat from a pier, Mick himself in it too. We had fishing rods and lines and began to fish as we cleared the harbour. Hours later as the sun dropped to the west, we turned back with our varied catch. Once inside the harbour it was quite dark and a large ship entering the harbour appeared to be bearing down on us and we couldn’t find our flashlight. The incident provided more excitement than we had wished for but seemed to give extra taste to the pints in the local pub afterwards.

Mick found happiness for a time with Tracy out of which union came their daughter Natacha. After the Good Friday Agreement Mick felt safe to returned to Ireland but Tracy remained in Paris with their daughter, Natascha visiting him and his extended family by arrangement on occasion. Plunkett seemed to have retired from political activity and had also withdrawn from social contact with many of his former contacts. His health deteriorated significantly but nevertheless his death came as something of a shock to many.

Mick Plunkett’s coffin at the funeral parlour, officiated by his daughter Natacha. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Many came to pay their respects at the funeral parlour where his coffin lay and to watch the wonderful collection of photos collected by his ex-partner, Tracy. His daughter Natacha was there to receive condolences and to offer shots of Irish whisky over the coffin (where tobacco roll-ups were also placed irreverently on the crucifix attached to the woodwork – Mick was reportedly an atheist). Natacha was also at the cremation service in Mount Jerome cemetery with her mother Tracy, where Plunkett’s coffin was covered in the blue version of the Starry Plough flag15 before being removed from the hearse, carried by relations and with the Seamus Costello Memorial Committee, in uniform and white gloves, providing a small ceremonial guard of honour.

Mick’s nephew Karl chaired the event and in turn called Jennifer Holland to give a short talk on Mick and his times followed by Niall Leonach, former General Secretary of the IRSP and close comrade of Plunkett’s, for a longer oration on Mick’s background and activism.

Karl provided many personal anecdotes from his association with his uncle and from within family stories, many of them amusing and some hilarious. He did not however avoid the political and recounted that many of them were kept unaware of the reasons for Mick’s absence and his apparent inability to travel back to Ireland even to visit. It was by going through some papers in his mother’s room that he came across the IRSP pamphlet on the Sallins case and was shocked; confronting his mother, the story began to be told.16

Recollecting the family’s trip to Paris to present two children for baptism in Notre Dame Cathedral which Mick attended, Karl spoke about their warm reception there and being touur-guided around by Plunkett, who had acquainted himself with much of the city’s history. One wonders whether that included the “Wall of the Communards” where in 1871, revolutionaries of the Paris Commune were summarily executed by French firing squads under the command of Marshall Patrice McMahon, descendant of Irish “Wild Geese” refugees from Williamite-controlled Ireland. Plunkett would hardly have been unaware of that history and its irony for the Irish.

The hearse carrying Mick Plunkett’s coffin arrives at Mt. Jerome cemetery, escorted by guard of honour supplied by the Seamus Costello Memorial Committee (the photo is from their FB page).

SOCIAL, SONG AND FLAG

Later that evening in a large reserved section of the Rochestown Lodge Hotel (formerly the Victor Hotel) just above the large Sallynoggin housing estate, mourners and celebrants gathered to eat, drink and talk. Some had not seen one another for decades. Among the many reminiscences of the social and music scene in Dún Laoghaire in the later decades of the last century, including the remark that “our harbour is a marina now”, one of Mick’s sisters spoke of raids by the Special Branch on their family home, where children would be ordered or pulled out of bed and the mattresses and beds tipped over, allegedly searching for weapons.

Strangely perhaps, there was no performance of musicians or singers or even sing-alongs at the event, though the traditional song The Parting Glass was sung to Plunkett’s daughter Natacha and a small unexpecting audience on the covered patio outside. Later inside, by which time some had left and following a query about a ceramic badge of the Starry Plough worn by one those remaining, a whole length of the original green-and-gold version of the flag was unfurled, causing much interest and queues forming asking to be photographed behind it. And a little later, a man sang Patrick Galvin’s Where Is Our James Connolly? to much applause.

Securing the Starry Plough flag to the coffin on the shoulders of relatives of Mick Plunkett, about to be carried into Mt. Jerome’s chapel for a non-religious remembrance event. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

This was fitting for as the mourners had been reminded in Mount Jerome, Connolly17 had been a great inspiration to Mick Plunkett’s political activism and to the IRSP too. But not only that, for a building in Dublin city centre, formerly a hostel but empty for many years and very recently occupied by socialist Republicans in Dublin had been named Connolly House and had that very day witnessed a rally held outside it to resist a threatened Garda operation to evict the occupants.

It seemed to me that something other than the remembrance of a retired fighter alone had happened at the Plunkett memorial events, something more than the appropriate marker of a past and finished period in Irish history, as had been suggested by Holland in her oration. It seemed to me that the history of struggle in Ireland for national self-determination and social justice had to an extent been re-invoked, that it appeared to some extent as the ghost of struggles past but also as the gaining substance of struggles present and, in particular, yet to come. I think Mick would have been pleased and, in any case, in defiance of the declarations of Fukuyama and such idealogues, history is nowhere near finished or dead. As some have commented, it is not even past.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1A harbour town seven miles south of Dublin city centre, in Dublin County but administered by DL-Rathdown Council for some years now.

2Which I heard pronounced as “Lennox”.

3He is more usually referred to as “Lord Edward Fitzgerald” which, apart from being somewhat historically inaccurate, does him a service. He was a republican, renounced his title and his sister Lucy said of him some years after his death in prison that “He was a paddy and no more; he desired no other title than this.”

4The Wikipedia entry on Frescati House and the campaign makes no mention at all of this sit-in, Garda attack or the subsequent court cases, of which there is ample documentary evidence. Hopefully someone will undertake its appropriate updating.

5Liam Cosgrave was a Fine Gael politician, son of the Leader of the Irish parliamentary Opposition from 1965 to 19873 and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) from 1973 to 1977, W.T Cosgrave.

6The Sinn Féin party has gone through many metamorpheses, from being a reformist dual-monarchy party, to revolutionary republican to constitutionalist. Constance Markievicz was a socialist Republican who took part in the 1916 Rising as an officer in the Irish Citizen Army – the name of a socialist revolutionary woman chosen for the cumann (‘association’, a branch of the SF party at the time) indicated an inclination towards revolution, feminism and socialism.

7Osgur, Caoilte and Oisín.

8Séamus Costello (b. 1939) was murdered by the Official IRA in Dublin on 5th October 1977.

9An example of the medium-seriousness was the charge of “membership of an illegal organisation” under the Amendment to the Offences Against the State Act, introduced in 1972 which required only the unsupported word of a Garda officer at rank of superintendent or above for conviction and a virtually automatic jail sentence of one to two years.

10€237,389.81 –without taking into account inflation — for today’s value

11Notably John Fitzpatrick, who years later publicly challenged the State to charge him with the offence to which he had “confessed” – there was no response.

12If it had been Plunkett’s hair, it had to have been planted by the Heavy Gang, since Mick had been nowhere near that scene and, in fact, the robbery had been carried out by the Provisional IRA. In addition, without the later development of DNA testing, all a sample of hair could tell, apart from its natural colour, was the blood-type of its owner.

13Some of those involved at the time, whether as victims or as campaigners, were present at some of the funeral events too, including Osgur Breatnach, Nicky Kelly, Caoilte and Peetera Schilders-Bhreatnach.

14https://sallinsinquirynow.ie/

15The flag with a design in the shape of the constellation known as Ursa Mayor was of the Irish Citizen Army, formed to defend the workers during the strike and 8-month lockout of 1913 and later fought in the 1916 Rising. Originally the design was of the constellation in white or silver overlaid by the depiction of a plough in gold, with sword as the plough-share and all on a green background. A later version was the plain blue one with Ursa Mayor outlined in white stars. That version was the one in use by the short-lived Republican Congress of the 1930s and was for many years later, probably up to the end of the century, the main one displayed and therefore familiar to Republicans and socialists (even for years flown by the Irish Labour Party) but has now been largely supplanted by the original green version.

16This is not at all an unusual experience in Ireland and, whether by desire to protect the young, pain of reminiscence or even disapproval, much of our history has been concealed from generations for a time or even completely lost.

17James Connolly, revolutionary socialist, trade union organiser, historian, journalist, song-writer and one of the Seven Signatories of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence, was tried by British military court for his leading role in the Rising and executed by firing squad.

SOURCES & FURTHER READING

https://rip.ie/death-notice/michael-mick-plunkett-glasthule-dublin/494040

Edward Fitzgerald a republican: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/praise-the-lord-and-pass-the-egalitarianism-1.1534895

Frescati House (with the curious omission at the time of access of the DHAC sit-in, police attack and subsequent trials): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frescati_House

Call for enquiry into the Sallins case: https://sallinsinquirynow.ie/

Civil and human rights criticism of the Special Criminal Court: https://www.iccl.ie/2022/international-call-for-end-to-special-criminal-court/

Mary Read & Paris frame-up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Reid_(activist)
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/socialist-republican-and-poet-with-a-big-heart-1.349096
https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2020/0325/1126344-1982-irish-republicans-france-mitterrand-vincennes/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sallins_Train_robbery
Sallins frame-up: https://www.rsvplive.ie/news/irish-news/1976-sallins-robbery-saw-nicky-25971809
https://www.thewhistleblower.ie/booking
https://extra.ie/2022/01/17/news/irish-news/hunger-striker-nicky-kelly

WHO KILLED THE BODIES FOUND IN BUCHA — AND HOW?

Posted by D.Breatnach from another post on line.

(Interpreting the results of the investigation)

Forensic doctors discover fléchettes – rarely used in modern warfare – in bodies found in mass graves in Bucha, “The Guardian” reported.

Dozens of civilians who allegedly died during presence of the Russian army at the Ukrainian city of Bucha were killed by tiny metal arrows from shells of a type fired by artillery, forensic doctors claimed. Despite the anti-Russian point of view presented in the research, the results show that these were the AFU who shelled civilians in Bucha.

Pathologists and coroners who are carrying out postmortems on bodies found in mass graves in the region north of Kyiv, where Russian forces have been accused of atrocities, said they had found small metal darts, called fléchettes, embedded in people’s heads and chests.

“We found several really thin, nail-like objects in the bodies of men and women and so did others of my colleagues in the region,” Vladyslav Pirovskyi, a Ukrainian forensic doctor, told “The Guardian”. “It is very hard to find those in the body, they are too thin. The majority of these bodies come from the Bucha-Irpin region.”

Independent weapons experts who reviewed pictures of the metal arrows found in the bodies confirmed that they were fléchettes, an anti-personnel weapon widely used during the first world war.

These small metal darts are contained in tank or field gun shells. Each shell can contain up to 8,000 fléchettes. Once fired, shells burst when a timed fuse detonates and explodes above the ground.

Fléchettes, typically between 3cm and 4cm in length, release from the shell and disperse in a conical arch about 300m wide and 100m long. On impact with a victim’s body, the dart can lose rigidity, bending into a hook, while the arrow’s rear, made of four fins, often breaks away causing a second wound.

Although human rights groups have long sought a ban on fléchette shells, the munitions are not prohibited under international law. However, the use of imprecise lethal weapons in densely populated civilian areas is a violation of humanitarian law.

“According to a number of witnesses in Bucha, fléchette rounds were fired by artillery a few days before Russian forces withdrew from the area at the end of March”, – “The Guardian” reported.

According to Neil Gibson, a weapons expert at the UK-based Fenix Insight group, who has reviewed the photos of the fléchettes found in Bucha, the metal darts came from a 122mm ZSh1 artillery round. It fits the D-30 howitzers, which is in service with both Russia and Ukraine.

“Another uncommon and rarely seen projectile,” said Gibson on Twitter. “This time it’s the equivalent of the US ‘Beehive’ series of Anti-personnel (APERS) projectiles … It operates like a true shrapnel projectile, but is filled with fléchettes and a wax binder.”

The same fléchettes were used by the AFU in 2014 in the LPR:

Flechette found in body in Bucha (published with report)
Flechettes with shell part close view.
Flechettes with carrier shell parts

Fléchettes have been used as ballistic weapons since the first world war. Dropped by the then-novel airplanes to attack infantry, the lethal metal darts were able to pierce helmets. They were not widely used during the second world war, but re-emerged in the Vietnam war, when the US employed a version of fléchette loads, packed into plastic cups.

“Fléchettes are an anti-personnel weapon designed to penetrate dense vegetation and to strike a large number of enemy soldiers,” according to Amnesty International. “They should never be used in built-up civilian areas.”

A team of 18 experts from the forensic department of France’s national gendarmerie, alongside a team of forensic investigators from Kyiv, have started documenting the situation after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Bucha.

“We are seeing a lot mutilated (disfigured) bodies,” said Pirovsky. “A lot of them had their hands tied behind their backs and shots in the back of their heads. There were also cases with automatic gunfire, like six to eight holes on the back of victims. And we have several cases of cluster bombs’ elements embedded in the bodies of the victims.”

Evidence collected by experts during a visit to Bucha, Hostomel and Borodianka, and reviewed by independent weapons experts, showed that cluster munitions and powerful unguided bombs were used in the region. They killed a large number of civilians and destroyed at least eight buildings. These types of weapons are banned by the majority of countries worldwide.

Talking about artillery shelling, this rules out any version that interprets the events in Bucha as “premeditated genocide of peaceful Ukrainians”. A lot of evidences, such as the “scattered” position of the corpses, confirmed the contradiction.

As soon as the Russian Ministry of Defence claimed the decision to withdraw from the Kiev and Chernihiv regions, the AFU heavily shelled Russian positions in the towns in the Kiev region with artillery. The investigation confirmed that civilians were killed as a result of artillery shelling. The flechettes could be used both by the Russian and Ukrainian artillery. Russian forces deployed in Bucha could not shell on their own positions. Thus, the civilians were killed during the clashes by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

(From Southfront.org — FB prevented me from sharing the post direct or even highlighting the text and pasting into my FB page).

Remains of flechette-delivery shell cases in Ukrainian bombardment of the Duhansk People’s Republic (seceded from Ukraine in 2014 and attacked by Ukrainian military since).

The question of bodies with hands tied behind backs remains an open one but there are at least two possibilities: the Russian military did it or the Ukrainian military did. Bear in mind that the Mayor of Bucha videoed that the Russian military had left and all was ok FOUR DAYS before reports of bodies being found began to be made in the media.

Who knows what reasons they would have had if it were the Russians. If it were the Ukrainians, especially the likes of Azov, they may have seen the victims as collaborators with the Russians. There were reports of bodies with white armbands, which is a sign of neutrality in Russian-occupied areas. Some bodies were also photographed beside Russian food supply containers.

End.

UP LIKE A BIRD – a review

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 2 mins.)

He planned the spectacular helicopter escape from Dublin’s Mountjoy Jail and, a year later, planned another escape from there, blasting their way out with smuggled-in explosives. Before he began planning escapes, he operated early in his IRA career as commander of an armed robbery unit, ‘fund-raising’ for the Movement. But when he began robbing banks for himself and his family, the Movement sent assassins to kill him. Up Like a Bird is the story of that man, Brendan Hughes, nowhere near as celebrated as his other IRA namesake but certainly deserving of much more fame than he has received to date.

Brendan Hughes with his book outside Mountjoy Jail (Image sourced: Phoenix Magazine)

Douglas Dalby’s handling of Hughes’ reminiscences, told in Hughes’ voice, is masterly. The book reads like a thriller, hard to put down; we are driven to turn the next page to see what will happen – even when, through history, we know the eventual outcome. We know, for example, that the helicopter escape was carried out and yet, as readers, we tense as Hughes does his investigations, tense tighter as he identifies the components of the plan, moan with frustration at a delay or last-minute hitch, hold our breaths as the action takes place.

The helicopter escape was carried out on 31st October 1973 and from the prison exercise yard three high-level IRA officers were flown to freedom: Chief of Staff Séamus Twomey and senior Volunteers JB O’Hagan and Kevin Mallon. The following year, on 18th August 1974, 19 prisoners escaped, blasting their way through a gate with a small amount of smuggled gelignite. Not only had Hughes planned that operation – he himself was leading the escapers.

INSIGHTS

Apart from the excitement in reading, the book gives us an insight into the world of IRA volunteers active in Dublin and surrounding areas in the 1970s – the ‘safe-houses’ and network of active supporters, the ‘fund-raising’, stolen getaway cars, false identification documents, high-level awareness of the hunted, carrying concealed weapons, the even better-armed police ….

The Mountjoy helicopter escape revealed something even more important and enduring – the cultural bedrock within the Irish state, the sharp division between the elite and the mass. Although the majority of politicians had voted in 1972 for repressive legislation against Republicans and special no-jury courts to sentence them, a song celebrating the escape reached No.1 in the Irish singles disc charts, selling 12,000 copies in the first week despite being banned by the national broadcaster, RTÉ! Composed by Sean McGinley from Castlefin, Co. Donegal and performed by the folk and ‘rebel song’ band The Wolfe Tones1, Up and Away (the Helicopter Song) became the most-played and most-purchased disc for four weeks until nudged out by Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody. It is tempting to think that if the escape had taken place a longer period before the approach of the festive season, that the recording might have remained at the top of the charts for months on end. The counterposing of the anger and embarrassment in elite circles, reflected in ranting of politicians, Garda sweeps and raids and media outrage on the one hand, with the delight and empathy at the lower levels revealed much of the tensions in Irish society and the opposing sympathies of different social classes.

The single that sold 12,000 copies in its first week, containing a jocular song celebrating the helicopter escape. (Image sourced: Internet)

Hughes was a maverick, revelling in the description and though for much of his career that was of value to the Provos, there came a time when it ceased to be so. A guerrilla army must have discipline, of course but it also needs volunteers who can quickly assess a situation and seize the initiative, without referring back to the command structure. The balance between both requirements must be very hard to strike — for individuals as well as for the organisation.

When he and other such activists fell out with their leaderships or “went solo”, they were shunned or worse. In Hughes’ final spell in Mountjoy jail, he was on the “non-aligned” wing of the jail, a Republican prisoner but not under Republican leadership control.

ISOLATION

Hughes says that assassins were sent to kill him – he stayed low and carried a loaded .44 Magnum. The leadership of the Republican movement does not always shoot or beat up its dissidents – more usually, it seeks to isolate them. Friends, neighbours, former comrades and even relatives will be advised to shun those no longer welcome, they and their families.

The family feeling, the communal solidarity in the movement becomes its opposite when the leadership brands its pariahs.

Cover of the book (Image credit: Siopa Gaeilge)

Hughes feels he was betrayed to the political police, the Special Branch of the Irish State. But what he says he felt the worst was the treatment of his family while he was in jail. No space on a Republican prison visitor communal transport was made available to his wife and children and cars containing former friends and acquaintances would pass them at the side of the road, even in the rain.

It seems Hughes finds that unforgivable — and no wonder.

As a postscript, Hughes surprisingly declares his support for the Good Friday Agreement, the pacification process. He had been a man of action and, as he said himself, not one for thinking through ideology or politics. But it doesn’t take any great grasp of ideology or politics to see that today it’s more or less business as before in a partitioned Ireland occupied by a foreign power.

End.

UP LIKE A BIRD, Hughes, Brendan; Dalby, Douglas (2022)

FOOTNOTES

1Named after Theobald Wolfe Tone, a leader of Irish republican revolutionary organisation the United Irishmen, died in prison in 1798.

SOURCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Helicopter_Song

Daly, Wallace and the Propaganda War

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

Published 21 April 2022 in Socialist Democracy
(Reading time: 2 mins.)


Amidst the flurry of articles and commentaries by Irish journalists eager to crank up the war machinery and in some cases arguing for WWIII as the lesser of two evils, the decision by Irish MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to not sing along with the blood curdling chorus for war, came as shock to the smug mandarins that rule the Irish print media and the airwaves.

Clare Daly and Mick Wallace pictured in the European Parliament.

They dared to go against the flow, though it was hardly surprising that they did so.  They have had a consistent stance on war and militarism.  Nonetheless, the media were taken aback and went into overdrive to challenge, ridicule and besmirch them both.  Their decision to not support an EU resolution was widely criticized in the media.  They did so, as part of a group of 13 MEPs who refused to back the motion because of its call to militarily aid Ukraine.  The reaction from the Irish media was swift and brutal and as with almost all coverage of the war, so over the top it resembled a parody of the state media of North Korea, without the creativity and nuance you might expect from Kim and his family.

It is ironic that a media that resembles a parody of the media in an authoritarian regime have tried to link both Daly and Wallace to such regimes.  Writing in the Irish Independent, Kim Bielenberg wrote that “The MEPs’ support for authoritarian regimes has come under closer scrutiny after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now they are accused of ‘victim blaming on a mass scale’.(1)  He went on to say that it was not just him but that…there is growing concern about how two Irish MEPs, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, have spoken in support of authoritarian states…

Their performance as globetrotting junketeers defending authoritarian regimes is likely to come under scrutiny from voters if they go before the electorate again.(2)The hyperbole is not worthy of Fox News or the ghost of Senator McCarthy, who is most certainly traipsing through the halls of RTE, the Irish Times and the Irish Independent.  There is nothing to the accusation that they support Putin or any other authoritarian regime.  As for the globetrotting, they were not part of a 2016 trip of 100 officials to Uruguay…which included 40 MEPs as well as administrators and staff, was to attend the annual “Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.” It included a champagne reception to celebrate an obscure literary award and a grilled fish dinner at a beachfront Hyatt hotel, all budgeted at €517,140, according to a European Parliament official.(3)Nor were they even MEPs when John Hume and others flew to Cyprus at a cost of £120,000 for a two-day meeting that coincided with a wedding one of the organisers of the trip was due to attend.(4)  Unlike their champagne quaffing colleagues, both of them have travelled abroad on solidarity trips, a concept which is alien to the Irish media.

Wallace and Daly in protest trespass at Shannon airport years ago, a time when the Left and the Media would not be found in agreement. (Photo: Shannon Watch

The Irish Times, not to be outdone by their competitors have published a number of articles decrying the fact that clips of Daly and Wallace have been shown on television networks in countries that are on the current We do not like list.  They exclaim that their correspondent Naomi O’Leary has carried out a year-long investigation on the “international footprint of the two MEPs.”(5)  The article links to a podcast that opens with Clare Daly’s address to the European Parliament.  I wasted 26 minutes of my life, that I will never recover, listening to it.  It is a travesty of Daly’s and Wallace’s positions on a host of issues and seeks to link both of them to positions they don’t hold and a simplification of issues, that we have come accustomed to.  The podcast by the Irish Times journalist is akin to old McCarthyite tactics of guilt by association, simplification of issues and a twisting of the truth.  To listen to the podcast you would think that the two MEPs were singlehandedly responsible for all criticism of the EU position on the war in Ukraine.  O’Leary should apply for a post in the next Trump administration in the US or even the current one.  Her skills are on the same level as Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders.

It is part of an overall assault not only on the truth but also on the right to dissent.  Any criticism of the EU and NATO is akin to support not only for Putin but for all authoritarian regimes in the world.  The Irish media has been practically unanimous in its support for NATO, and rather uncritical of US policy.  It should be borne in mind that the Irish media has never played a leading role in anything other than support for the gombeen politicians that run the country.  If we look at all the scandals that have rocked Irish society, none of them have been uncovered by the Irish media or promoted till they had no choice in the matter.  Not the industrial schools, the church sex abuse, the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, the Tuam baby scandal, nor any of the issues that led to various tribunals over the years.  Most of the media turned their backs on these issues and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to give any coverage to them.

So, it comes as no surprise to find this same media ganging up on Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, an assault that will continue into the future.  The two have hit back and filed a defamation suit against RTE.  Though, they should perhaps consider extending that to the Irish Independent and Irish Times.  Even on this point they are referred to, by the media, as controversial and outspoken, qualities that would normally fit the job description for an MEP.

The Irish media are determined to stamp out any dissent.  Daly and Wallace have not backed down and continue to condemn the war.  They have stuck to their guns, understanding that backing down won’t mean the media will go any easier on them or represent their positions correctly.  The People Before Profit TDs could do well to learn the lesson.  Following Zelensky’s address to the Dáil, they decided to stand as a sign of respect but not applaud as they didn’t agree with everything he said.  The media piled on them over their refusal to applaud.  This is totalitarian media, only complete surrender on the issue will do for them.  They show no quarter and those who think there is some way to be nice to them on this issue are sadly mistaken.

Notes

(1) Irish Independent (04/02/2022) Mick Wallace and Clare Daly — the ‘anti-imperialists’ who defended Putin https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/big-read-mick-wallace-and-clare-daly-the-anti-imperialists-who-defended-putin-41407535.html

(2) Ibíd.,

(3)  Politico (04/11/2016) Frequent flyers: MEPs’ far-flung travel draws criticism https://www.politico.eu/article/frequent-flyers-meps-far-flung-travel-draws-criticism-traveling-circus-nato-scrutiny/
 
(4) Irish Independent (11/05/1999) MEPs in storm over £120,000 Cyprus junket

(5)  Irish Times (21/04/2022) Daly and Wallace: Rising stars in Russia, China and beyond https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/daly-and-wallace-rising-stars-in-russia-china-and-beyond-1.4858265

(6)  Irish Independent (12/04/2022) MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly sue RTÉ https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/meps-mick-wallace-and-clare-daly-sue-rte-41545192.html

Daly, Wallace and the Propaganda War

Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

21 April 2022


Clare Daly and Mick Wallace pictured in the European Parliament.

Amidst the flurry of articles and commentaries by Irish journalists eager to crank up the war machinery and in some cases arguing for WWIII as the lesser of two evils, the decision by Irish MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace to not sing along with the blood curdling chorus for war, came as shock to the smug mandarins that rule the Irish print media and the airwaves.

They dared to go against the flow, though it was hardly surprising that they did so.  They have had a consistent stance on war and militarism.  Nonetheless, the media were taken aback and went into overdrive to challenge, ridicule and besmirch them both.  Their decision to not support an EU resolution was widely criticized in the media.  They did so, as part of a group of 13 MEPs who refused to back the motion because of its call to militarily aid Ukraine.  The reaction from the Irish media was swift and brutal and as with almost all coverage of the war, so over the top it resembled a parody of the state media of North Korea, without the creativity and nuance you might expect from Kim and his family.

It is ironic that a media that resembles a parody of the media in an authoritarian regime have tried to link both Daly and Wallace to such regimes.  Writing in the Irish Independent, Kim Bielenberg wrote that “The MEPs’ support for authoritarian regimes has come under closer scrutiny after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now they are accused of ‘victim blaming on a mass scale’.(1)  He went on to say that it was not just him but that…there is growing concern about how two Irish MEPs, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, have spoken in support of authoritarian states…

Their performance as globetrotting junketeers defending authoritarian regimes is likely to come under scrutiny from voters if they go before the electorate again.(2)The hyperbole is not worthy of Fox News or the ghost of Senator McCarthy, who is most certainly traipsing through the halls of RTE, the Irish Times and the Irish Independent.  There is nothing to the accusation that they support Putin or any other authoritarian regime.  As for the globetrotting, they were not part of a 2016 trip of 100 officials to Uruguay…which included 40 MEPs as well as administrators and staff, was to attend the annual “Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly.” It included a champagne reception to celebrate an obscure literary award and a grilled fish dinner at a beachfront Hyatt hotel, all budgeted at €517,140, according to a European Parliament official.(3)Nor were they even MEPs when John Hume and others flew to Cyprus at a cost of £120,000 for a two-day meeting that coincided with a wedding one of the organisers of the trip was due to attend.(4)  Unlike their champagne quaffing colleagues, both of them have travelled abroad on solidarity trips, a concept which is alien to the Irish media.

The Irish Times, not to be outdone by their competitors have published a number of articles decrying the fact that clips of Daly and Wallace have been shown on television networks in countries that are on the current We do not like list.  They exclaim that their correspondent Naomi O’Leary has carried out a year-long investigation on the “international footprint of the two MEPs.”(5)  The article links to a podcast that opens with Clare Daly’s address to the European Parliament.  I wasted 26 minutes of my life, that I will never recover, listening to it.  It is a travesty of Daly’s and Wallace’s positions on a host of issues and seeks to link both of them to positions they don’t hold and a simplification of issues, that we have come accustomed to.  The podcast by the Irish Times journalist is akin to old McCarthyite tactics of guilt by association, simplification of issues and a twisting of the truth.  To listen to the podcast you would think that the two MEPs were singlehandedly responsible for all criticism of the EU position on the war in Ukraine.  O’Leary should apply for a post in the next Trump administration in the US or even the current one.  Her skills are on the same level as Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders.

It is part of an overall assault not only on the truth but also on the right to dissent.  Any criticism of the EU and NATO is akin to support not only for Putin but for all authoritarian regimes in the world.  The Irish media has been practically unanimous in its support for NATO, and rather uncritical of US policy.  It should be borne in mind that the Irish media has never played a leading role in anything other than support for the gombeen politicians that run the country.  If we look at all the scandals that have rocked Irish society, none of them have been uncovered by the Irish media or promoted till they had no choice in the matter.  Not the industrial schools, the church sex abuse, the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, the Tuam baby scandal, nor any of the issues that led to various tribunals over the years.  Most of the media turned their backs on these issues and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to give any coverage to them.

So, it comes as no surprise to find this same media ganging up on Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, an assault that will continue into the future.  The two have hit back and filed a defamation suit against RTE.  Though, they should perhaps consider extending that to the Irish Independent and Irish Times.  Even on this point they are referred to, by the media, as controversial and outspoken, qualities that would normally fit the job description for an MEP.

The Irish media are determined to stamp out any dissent.  Daly and Wallace have not backed down and continue to condemn the war.  They have stuck to their guns, understanding that backing down won’t mean the media will go any easier on them or represent their positions correctly.  The People Before Profit TDs could do well to learn the lesson.  Following Zelensky’s address to the Dáil, they decided to stand as a sign of respect but not applaud as they didn’t agree with everything he said.  The media piled on them over their refusal to applaud.  This is totalitarian media, only complete surrender on the issue will do for them.  They show no quarter and those who think there is some way to be nice to them on this issue are sadly mistaken.

Notes

(1) Irish Independent (04/02/2022) Mick Wallace and Clare Daly — the ‘anti-imperialists’ who defended Putin https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/big-read-mick-wallace-and-clare-daly-the-anti-imperialists-who-defended-putin-41407535.html

(2) Ibíd.,

(3)  Politico (04/11/2016) Frequent flyers: MEPs’ far-flung travel draws criticism https://www.politico.eu/article/frequent-flyers-meps-far-flung-travel-draws-criticism-traveling-circus-nato-scrutiny/
 
(4) Irish Independent (11/05/1999) MEPs in storm over £120,000 Cyprus junket

(5)  Irish Times (21/04/2022) Daly and Wallace: Rising stars in Russia, China and beyond https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/daly-and-wallace-rising-stars-in-russia-china-and-beyond-1.4858265

(6)  Irish Independent (12/04/2022) MEPs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly sue RTÉ https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/meps-mick-wallace-and-clare-daly-sue-rte-41545192.html

AESOP UPDATED – the Grasshopper and the Ant

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 2mins.)

The grasshopper was enjoying the early May sunshine, playing his fiddle a bit, eating succulent new grass a bit, just enjoying life – a lot. Now and again, the grasshopper noticed an ant scurrying by but at first paid it no attention. Eventually though, he began to be a little curious and also, probably, a little irritated by this constant scurrying to and fro.

“Hey, Ant,” the grasshopper called out, the next time the busy insect passed him, “Why are you so busy? Why can’t you just enjoy life?”

The ant stopped and looked around to find out where the voice had come from.

“Ah, Grasshopper …. sorry, what did you say?”

“I asked why be so busy, why not just enjoy life?”

“Because food has to be gathered while it’s growing,” replied the ant, disbelieving anyone could be so stupid as not to know that. “And stored.”

“But Ant,” said the grasshopper indulgently, “there’s plenty of food around. No need to store it at all.”

“Yes, there’s plenty of food now, Grasshopper. But when the winter comes, hardly anything will grow. We gather the food now and store it so we won’t starve come winter.”

“Oh Ant, let winter look after itself. Now is the time to enjoy life.”

How can anyone be so stupid, thought the ant, shaking her head.

“Please yourself”, she said, hurrying on.

“Don’t worry, I will,” replied the grasshopper, striking up a merry tune.

He’ll only learn when it’s too late, thought the ant.

But she was wrong. The grasshopper began to think about the coming winter and absence of food. In between chewing the juicy grass-stems and playing tunes on the fiddle, the grasshopper went about making arrangements.

Summer turned to Autumn and Autumn turned to Winter. Most growing plants either died or went dormant. Cold winds blew through leafless branches.

Underneath the ant-hill, inside the ant-nest, it was warm and there was plenty of food, thanks to the hard work of the ant colony throughout the Summer and Autumn. The ants were enjoying their food, warmth and old stories.

A thunderous knocking announced someone at the main door. When the ants cautiously opened the door, whom should they see but the grasshopper, looking cold and hungry.

“I need some of your food,” he said. “Hunger is making me cold. And when I get cold, I get hungrier.”

“Too bad,” chorused the ants in the doorway.

“You should have listened to me in the Summer,” exclaimed one ant smugly.

“Oh, I did,” replied the grasshopper, even more smugly and let out something like a whistle, whereupon a large and aggressive crowd of blue beetles jumped out of hiding and ran for the door, overcoming the ants there in minutes. Into the the ant-nest they poured and sounds of fighting and injury could be heard within.

The blue beetles had been hiding but at the Grasshopper’s command, stormed the ant nest.

After a while, an injured but surviving ant at the doorway saw a blue beetle come staggering back out and approach the grasshopper.

“We need reinforcements, Master,” it whined. “The ants are massed and fighting hard defending their food stores. We threatened their young but they’re protecting them too.”

The grasshopper seemed unsurprised, almost as though he could have predicted that. He gave a different kind of whistle and a horde of dark green beetles poured out of hiding and into the nest. The noise of fighting grew louder and then ceased.

When the blue beetles ran into stiff resistance, the Grasshopper sent in the green beetles to finish off the opposition.

Any hope the ant had that the silence meant the elimination of the beetles was destroyed as a steady stream of beetles began to emerge, most of them carrying bundles of food.

“Lazy scum!” cried the surviving ant at the nest’s door. “You’re leaving us to starve!”

“No such thing,” scoffed the grasshopper. “If you all died of starvation, who would gather the food and store it next year? And the year after? You will probably go hungry – but you won’t starve. Not most of you anyway.”

The ant said nothing in reply, just watched the food parcels being carried out of the nest.

When they were all ready to leave, the grasshopper turned to the ant.

“No fighting next year, Ant. You just give us what you gather and we’ll give you back enough to live on and to raise new ants. No need for all that fighting, is there?”

The grasshopper turned away without a backward glance and followed the long lines of his food-carrying beetles in dark green and blue, his personal security platoon of blue beetles around him.

End.

The Grasshopper and Ants (Source image: illustration in book Aesop’s Fables, Library of Congress)

Afternoon Coffee in Dublin

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 1 min.)

It has been noticeably difficult in Dublin to find a place serving hot food between about 4pm and 7pm on a Sunday but that was once a week only (though awkward enough if you were entertaining visitors from abroad). But now it’s difficult to find a decent café in Dublin after 3.30pm all week — and more so if you’d like to sit outside or next to a window, watching life’s “rank and rich array” passing by.

Yesterday I was looking for a cup of coffee before I set off to visit someone in hospital. I found Anne’s Bakery in Moore Street closed at 3.30pm and, after a brief conversation with some people working nearby, headed off for its sister café in Henry Street but realised that if open, it would be closing very soon anyway (I think it closes at 4pm). So I set off for the hospital.

Coming back into the city centre around 5.15pm and still hankering for a coffee and thought-flow, I realised my chances were even worse now because Simon’s Corner in South Great George’s Street would be closed or closing. What about Cornucopia, in Wicklow Street? I cycled there, spotted empty tables outside, locked up my bike across the road just by Dingle company Murphy’s Ice-Cream (where you get 10% discount through ordering in Irish) and entered Cornucopia by left-hand door for the coffee-station. But …. no-one serving there. No sign saying “closed” so … maybe … might just have gone to the toilet?

After waiting awhile without any staff appearing, I made enquiries in the other part, the food-serving section and was told the coffee-station was closed. I looked at the lonnnnng queue, muttered “Fuck it”, went back outside, unlocked the bike and, careful of the big cars coming down that narrow street, pulled out to ride towards Grafton Street and from there northwards and home.

And …. Glory Alleluia! Empty tables outside Mary’s Bar & Hardware Shop! And illuminated by the sunlight slanting from the westering sun. Did they serve coffee, I wondered (I know they don’t sell hardware). Most Irish bars serve tea and coffee but the coffee quality can be questionable … or even instant and …. relief! Spotted the machine at the bar’s end with the roasted beans in the cylinder on top, ordered a cup and went back out to lock the bike.

Outside Mary’s Bar & Hardware Shop, Wicklow Street, yesterday late afternoon with part of my bike in view (Photo: D.Breatnach)

A little later, sitting outside in the sun, sipping reasonable coffee, watching passers-by …. people finishing work, shoppers, tourists, beggars, cops …. and then an interesting chat with one of “Mary’s” customers out for a smoke.

Then home, caffeinated and happy.

End.

PS: If you ever pop in to Mary’s for a drink, do make sure you visit the toilet. You will pass through what looks like an older section of the bar with surprising partitioned parts, past some hardware (but not for sale), then through a door, up some stairs …. On the way back, like as not, you’ll take a wrong turn (as I did) and enter …. a brightly-lit US-style diner with customers seated at red formica-top tables! A dislocating experience like something out of a sci-fi novel.

As you find the correct way back, depending on how much alcohol you’ve imbibed, you might wonder if that other place really exists. In this dimension, anyway.

TALKING THE LINGO

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: mins.)

When I asked the guy filling shelves in the supermarket where the milk powder was I had no idea what was to come.

Picking up on his accent as he showed me, I asked him where he was from.

“Poland,” he replied, so naturally I thanked him in one of the few words or phrases I know in Polish. He responded in Polish too, then asked me where I was from.

“Here”, I replied.

“Dublin’”, he replied, “wha? ah Jayzus. How’re ya doin’, Bud? Allrih?” And there followed a stream of Dublinese: words, accent and even gestures.

This of course, is our third language here in the capital city – not the native one relinquished by so many, not the colonisers’ appropriated by so many, though a version of it, moulded, turned, somewhat UStaterised, slanged, missing endings ….

He had me laughing, of course and as I paid for my purchases I mentioned it to the cashier, who told me the guy works part-time on nightclub security, so he picks up plenty of it on the door. We both agreed he does it very well.

I went off smiling — another small but interesting experience in our capital city.

End.

JARDUN CALL FOR REVOLUTION ON BASQUE NATIONAL DAY IN GERNIKA

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time main text: 10 mins.)

The revolutionary Basque socialist coordination organisation Jardun Koordinadora organised a celebration of Aberri Eguna, the Basque national day, combining political, social and cultural forms. Aberri Eguna takes place annually on Easter Sunday, a date chosen by its founder Elias Gallestegi based on a traditional commemoration day of the Easter Rising in Ireland. Aberri Eguna was first celebrated in Bilbo in 1932 attended by 65,000 people, including members of Emakume Abertzale Batza1, the Basque nationalist women’s organisation founded by Gallestegi also in emulation of the Irish organisation Cumann na mBan. Around 1,000 people, with a high representation of youth but also of veterans of the struggle, attended the events in Gernika2.

Jardun-organised Aberri Eguna procession passing through Gernika (Photo courtesy Jardun)

The Irish connection was reiterated on Sunday by the reading at the political rally of messages of solidarity from three Irish-based sources: Anti-Imperialist Action, Anti-Internment Committee of Ireland and Dublin Basque Solidarity Committee.

Jardun Koordinatora is a relatively new initiative which is a sharp departure from the trajectory in recent decades of the official leadership of the Abertzale Left, a trajectory which has served to dismember and dishearten the movement.

La Haine Report

(Translation by Dublin Basque with explanatory notes in italics)

The different organisations comprising this Coordination (Jardun) demonstrated in Gernika under the slogans “Aberri gorria, biharko Euskal Herria, “Independentzia eta Sozialismoa”, “Euskal Herrilangilea Aurrera”, “Presoak Kalera Amnistia osoa” and “Amnistiarik gabe bakerik ez” (“Bright future in tomorrow’s Basque Country” “Independence and Socialism”, “Forward Basque workers”, “Prisoners Free with Full Amnesty” and “No Peace Without Amnesty”).

This Sunday, April 17, the JARDUN Coordination convened the Aberri Eguna (Basque National Day) gathering some 1,000 people to claim the national objective of the Basque Working People.

Along with a Zanpantzar group (performers with bells in traditional costumes representing animals), the event began with a march starting from Plaza Mercurio and during the journey different acts were carried out to demand prisoner amnesty and rights for working women. The event ended with the speeches read in Pasealeku Plaza: the first two were messages of solidarity sent by Anti-Imperialist Action and Anti-Internment Committee (both of Ireland) and ended with the political statement of the JARDUN Coordination.

Tradition Zapantzarak lead the procession (Photo courtesy Jardun)

The demonstration went smoothly. However, the bus that departed from Irunea/ Pamplona had problems getting there because the National Police stopped it in Urdiain, taking details of the occupants.

To conclude, JARDUN Coordination stated that the only alternative for the Basque Working People will come from the hand of independence and socialism. To conclude, the Internationale and the Eusko Gudariak (Basque Soldier) were sung.

Spanish armed police stopped the contingent from Irunea/ Pamplona heading for Gernika and recorded their details. (Courtesy of Jardun)


Jardun Statement for Aberri Eguna 2022
(Translated by D.Breatnach from text supplied in Castillian Spanish)

Under capitalism, we workers are condemned to survive. We build our lives around work and the exploitation we suffer in it, while the bourgeoisie lives at the expense of this work. Such is the dynamic of capital. This is the logic of the economic system currently in force in the world. That is why it is important to clearly identify and point out the adversary facing us; because the capitalist system, the bourgeoisie, normalises and legitimises the fears and the repression that it produces daily to absorb the blood of the workers.

(Photo courtesy Jardun)

But with 19 years in prison for the freedom of his people, the murder of Iván Colona, a direct consequence of the criminal French prison policy, is not normal. The situation of the working people of Ireland, suffering from crushing British occupation for more than 800 years, is not normal. After eight long years of war, the situation of the working people of Donbass, who experience bombings, murders and massacres on a daily basis, is not normal. And much more heinous, outside of the norm, are the attempts to whitewash and legitimise criminal institutions such as NATO murderers.

We must situate ourselves in that context, understand within that reality, the situation that Euskal Herria (the Basque Country) is experiencing. Today our country are controlled by both the French and Spanish states. Not only do both these states not recognise Euskal Herria but they carry out an oppression based on that denial against the working class of Euskal Herria. In effect, we must understand well that, beyond the national question providing the a joint market for the states, the working class can only use the political project of the bourgeoisie as an element of unity to support and protect it, promoting interclassist attitudes.

“We, the organized women workers, will overcome all oppression!” (Photo courtesy Jardun)

The aforementioned denial, as well as the attacks carried out by the Spanish and French States against the Basque Working People, must be understood as an ideological motivation of the national State. We must, therefore, situate the oppression of Euskal Herria in the very creation of the Spanish and French capitalist states; because the objective of the denial is clear, the assimilation of Euskal Herria. To do this, the states take advantage of the institutions aimed at creating divisions and gaps in the Basque consciousness. And to protect these institutions and guarantee the supremacy of the bourgeoisie, they take advantage of dogs of various colours to attack the working people. To promote alienation and renounce our identity, in addition to normalising the attacks against the language, they have turned the Basque language and culture into souvenirs of a territory that today wants to dedicate itself to tourism, since for the bourgeoisie everything is business, to the point of commodifying our places of residence.

This being the case, given that denial is a decision of a political nature, we must cover with a political character the oppression experienced by Euskal Herria to view it with a class vision. We have to be clear about the concept of the political nature with regard to Euskal Herria nationality. Therefore, we have to fight against normalised oppression. Along this path, it is up to the workers of Euskal Herria to build our own political project and in response to this we have to equip ourselves with our own institutions that have to arise out of the counter-power that we need to form. And for this it is necessary for a Workers’ Euskal Herria to break politically with the Spanish and French states.

Photo shows a substantial following by veterans of the struggle (Photo courtesy Jardun)

These States offer the working people the use and threat of both persecution and violence, within the capitalist system that condemns the working class to servitude for the benefit of the bourgeoisie. For this reason, to carry out the aforementioned political rupture, political confrontation must be a valued concept in order to carry out the political project of the workers of Euskal Herria. Political confrontation must also be the engine of the revolutionary process aimed at achieving an independent and socialist Basque state in Euskal Herria.

For this, it is necessary to take the revolutionary process to the extreme and form a political body that must feed the revolutionary alternative. Specifically, a political body to be formed by organised workers in favour of national and social liberation and the sale of their labour power in the Basque Country. A political body that is committed to achieving an independent and socialist Basque State. Because the Basque Working People cannot be limited to the forms of work authorised by the capitalist system. These not only destroy the revolutionary potential of the working class, but are aimed at sustaining and reproducing the ideology of the bourgeoisie; because the enemy will not give, in any way, more than he is willing to give. The bourgeoisie will not voluntarily give up its privileges.

(Photo courtesy Jardun)

It is essential to set in motion the revolutionary process that must take place on the path of a classless society, towards the acquisition of political power by the working class; the aforementioned subject will only be achieved through the confrontation carried out with the capitalist state. Through the counter-power built in the confrontation, the Basque Working People must articulate revolutionary structures that wear down the centres of power of the oppressor and guarantee his liberation against the exploiters, to guarantee the achievements obtained during the revolutionary process. Because the political power of the Basque Working People must be based on counter power. In other words, the revolutionary alternative of the working people will be built and take root as the control and power of the capitalist states over the workers of the Basque Country is annulled. The revolutionary alternative must be a comprehensive political alternative that satisfies the needs of the Basque Working People.

It must be understood that this will be capable of leading struggles based on the activation and commitment of the workers. Therefore, in order to weave and build a revolutionary alternative at this time, the priority is the activation of workers aimed at promoting the ideological struggle and mobilization, understanding the JARDUN coordinator as an instrument to achieve this. In short, JARDUN is a framework created with the aim of promoting the organisation of bodies and militants to win the freedom of Euskal Herria. Its objective is that, under a common political project and strategic approach, each organisation carries out its contribution in specific political areas, but that all act within the framework of a common strategy and direction.

We have to be aware that this will be achieved through gradual activation and participation through the awareness of the Basque Working People. In this process, the revolutionary process itself will be carried out gradually, and the Alternative of the Basque Working People must carry out struggles based on the different forces, conditions and problems of the moment. As its political work deepens and Basque workers’ participation in the Coordination increases, JARDUN will create new framework organisations and acquire comprehensiveness and integrity, with the revolutionary movement’s priority being to create the conditions to achieve it.

(Photo courtesy Jardun)

When talking about the liberation of Euskal Herria, self-determination is a frequently mentioned term: self-determination, a term that appears many times when a nation is subjected to the sovereignty of another against its will. But when we speak of self-determination, considering the revolutionary process developed under a counter-power based on political rupture, we are not referring, in any way, to the vote marked, accepted and facilitated by the States that persecute Euskal Herria, but to the process of separation of one nation from the state structures of another nation. Self-determination as synonymous with the revolutionary process that must be carried out to achieve an independent and socialist Basque State, in the case of Euskal Herria.

Autonomism, because it is a struggle based on the management of the remains provided by the states, is not an option. It is not a legitimate choice on the table for the revolutionary movement, since this implies reformism and the strengthening of the position of power and subjugation of the States, together with the renunciation of the strategic objectives aimed at the liberation of the Basque Working People. However, it would be a serious mistake to believe that, through national liberation, the liberation of the workers will take place mechanically. This must be understood within the class struggle, in which we must place self-determination itself within the class conflict.

On the other hand, there exists the denial, underestimation or rejection of the national question, the strengthening of the repression that the capitalist states carry out and accepting the framework of the oppressive nation imposed, in the name of socialism, with the argument of unity of the workers. Regarding the national issue, the lack of correct position also allows the French and Spanish States to continue applying unjust laws and coercion, helping to hide the dimension of oppression suffered by the working class of Euskal Herria. Keeping silent before a crushing stomp, since taking a neutral position means protection from crushing; taking neutral positions allows oppressive power relations to continue unchanged over time and space, perpetuating them.

The political rally of Jardun’s celebration of Aberri Eguna in Gernika (Photo courtesy Jardun)

Consequently, the mere demand for independence only benefits the interest and political project of the bourgeoisie of the Basque Country. And the socialism that in Euskal Herria does not address the national question goes hand-in-hand with denial, denying in class parameters the revolutionary potential of the national question. The achieving of the independent and socialist State must be the result of the revolutionary process of Euskal Herria due to the national oppression suffered by the Basque workers. Revolutionary alternatives beyond the essential defence of independence and socialism must be the basis of the political position of the Basque Working People. They are only alternative for the Basque Working People, because it inevitably comes hand-in-hand with independence and socialism.

Long live a free Basque Country!

Long live a socialist Basque Country!

End.

FOOTNOTES

1A strong organisation in the antifascist resistance to the fascist-military uprising against the Spanish Republic but no longer in existence.

2Guernica, in Spanish.

SOURCES

Jardun Koordinadora: https://www.facebook.com/Jardun_koordinadora-100598125431163

https://eh.lahaine.org/eusk-cast-jardun-koordinadorak-2022ko

Dublin Easter Rising commemoration calls for neutrality and revolution

Clive Sulish

(Reading time: 3 mins.)

Speakers on Sunday 17th April 2022 at a 1916 Rising commemoration in Dublin called for defence of Irish neutrality between contending imperialist and capitalist states but also for revolution to end British colonial occupation and partition, in addition to general imperialist domination of Ireland. They called for a working class socialist republic and a revolution necessary to achieve it. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic (1916) was read to those assembled, as was the message of Patrick Pearse during the Rising and a dedication by James Connolly to the Irish Citizen Army (1915)1 and floral tributes of lilies were laid. The event also included the singing viva voce of songs relevant to the occasion.

Part of horizontal plaque at the location

MARCH, FLAGS, BANNERS

The event was organised by the Anti-Imperialist Action organisation and commenced with a march up a section of the Finglas Road which runs between both parts of the famous Glasnevin cemetery, before turning into the “St. Paul’s” section.2 The march was led by a colour party of two, dressed in black with white gloves bearing the Irish Tricolour and the green and gold Starry Plough.

Following behind in two columns were others with a variety of flags flying among them: Starry Plough3, Basque Ikurrina, Red Flag with golden hammer and sickle, flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. As they marched the short section of road, passing traffic beeped them in appreciation. The police of the Irish State, the Gardaí, were in attendance but did not interfere with the participants.

The procession in the road on the way to the Glasnevin St. Paul’s cemetery (part of the main Glasnevin Cemetery’s wall can be seen on the right with the top of O’Connell Tower visible behind it).

Two banners were also carried by participants, a No to NATO one of the AIA and another of the Dublin Committee of the Anti-Internment Committee of Ireland.

SPEECHES

Beginning in Irish and then changing to English, the Chairperson welcomed those in attendance and spoke of the reason for holding such commemorations but also putting this one, the sixth Easter Rising Commemoration organised by the young organisation, in the context of current events in Ireland and in the world.

Colour party and speaker

James Connolly in Ireland and Lenin in Russia had been quite clear about the correct attitude to imperialist war, the Chairperson said, which was to oppose it and if it went ahead to turn it into revolution; on Liberty Hall4 the banner had been hung declaring that “We serve neither King nor Kaiser”.

In the current war situation, some politicians in Ireland are trying to abandon the State’s official traditional stance of neutrality, which is why the AIA thought it important to promote the “No to NATO” message depicted on one of the banners present at the event. It is important for people to realise that, with the UK occupying a part of Ireland, a part of Ireland is already in NATO. Opinion polls have shown a majority in the state against joining NATO, he pointed out.

During this speech a helicopter passed by overhead.

The main speaker had been delayed in arriving and, putting aside his notes, spoke about the need for sacrifice, pointing out that those who took part in the Rising and in subsequent struggles had jobs or small businesses as well as families but they put themselves forward and made sacrifices. Although today we may not face death here, nevertheless sacrifices are called for, he said and though there is not a rising here today, it will come.

INTERNATIONALISM

The Chairperson of the event also pointed to the importance of relations of internationalist solidarity and alluded to the struggle of the Palestinian people with particular reference to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also to the Basque people’s struggle. The AIA had sent a solidarity message to be read out at the Jardun organisation’s celebration of the Basque country’s national day, Aberri Eguna, noting that Easter Sunday had been chosen in emulation of the Easter Rising by Elias Gallestegi. The event had been first celebrated on Easter Sunday 27 March 1932 in Bilbo, supported by a demonstration of some 65,000 which included the Basque Nationalist Women’s organisation, inspired by the Republican Irish women’s organisation Cumann na mBan, which had fought in the 1916 Rising.

Also mentioned by the Chairperson were the struggles of organisations in Peru and the Philippines and by the Communist Party of Brazil.

MUSIC AND READINGS

As part of the program of the event, Seán Óg accompanied himself on guitar to sing Charles O’Neill’s The Foggy Dew and the Larry Kirwan’s James Connolly/ Citizen Army Song. Diarmuid Breatnach sang acapella his version of Patrick Galvin’s Where Is Our James Connolly? with some small alterations, though none Breatnach said to alter the fundamental meaning of the lyrics.

Seán Óg performing at the event
Diarmuid Breatnach singing Where is Our James Connolly? at the event

A young woman read out Pearse’s message and a young man, Connolly’s 1915 praise of the Irish Citizen Army.

To conclude the event Seán Óg sang the chorus of Amhrán na bhFiann5, the Irish National Anthem and the participants exited the cemetery to pass the uniformed police and Special Branch surveillance without incident.

End.

Section of the attendance marching to the monument.

FOOTNOTES

1Patrick Pearse, journalist, poet, educator and Irish Volunteer, was overall commander of the insurrectionary forces in 1916; James Connolly, trade union and socialist organiser, historian, journalist, writer and Irish Citizen Army, was Commandant of the Dublin fighters. Both men were signatories of the Proclamation and, along with the other five Signatories and another seven volunteers in Dublin, were executed by British Army firing squads.

2Although a newer and less famous section of the cemetery it too includes the graves of a number of important political leaders as well as the largest monument to Irish insurrections, containing the dates 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867, 1881 and 1916.

3Flag of the Irish Citizen Army, believed to be the first workers’ army in the world (and the first to recruit women, some of whom were officers), formed in 1913 to defend striking and locked-out workers from the attacks of the Dublin Metropolitan Police and that also participated in the 1916 Rising.

4Liberty Hall was the HQ of the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union and of the Irish Citizen Army; in addition to the Citizen Army members, many of the Irish Volunteers and of Cumann na mBan mustered there on the first morning of the Rising. It was destroyed by British shelling and the tall building now on that site, also called Liberty Hall, is the HQ of SIPTU (largest trade union in Ireland).

5Originally composed in English as The Soldier’s Song by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney and sung during the Rising, it was later translated into Irish by Liam Ó Rinn and in 1926 adopted by the partitioned Irish State as its official anthem (usually the air of the chorus alone). When sung at events it is usually the Irish language version of the chorus that is sung only.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Anti-Imperialist Action: https://www.facebook.com/AIAI-For-National-Liberation-and-Socialist-Revolution-101829345633677