The intensively mediated death of Elizabeth Windsor, accompanied by the relentlessly maudlin and invasive coverage of official mourning and her funeral, had an intensity that can only be described as imperial. Forced as it was into every corner of public discourse, this coercive atmosphere of state sorrow had a distinctly colonising thrust and meaning. Unleashed during a moment of total class warfare within her very disunited kingdom, it also marked an endpoint in the trajectory of her most obedient servants: the formerly Irish but now thoroughly British political party, Sinn Féin. During Windsor’s reign colonial chickens came home to roost as the woman who presided over British forces while they rampaged across the six counties of British-occupied Ireland then became over the past decade and a half the queen of foodbanks in her own country. (1) Her reign spanned a long period during which overt political violence in Ireland was…
“Palestinian gunman wounds two Israelis in Jerusalem shooting” proclaims the headline. We don’t have to worry trying to figure out whose side we’re expected to be on, who’s in the wrong and who in the right. It’s right there in the headline.
“Gunman” is a heavy clue and the fact that the two he wounded are just “Israelis” – we are led to believe just ordinary civilians – does the rest of the job. That is, if indeed we are not somehow already prejudiced against Palestinians and in favour of Israelis.
However, should we bother to read further, we find that two of the wounded were far from being harmless civilians but in fact an Israeli soldier and a security guard, certainly armed for their job (even Israeli Jewish civilians are routinely permitted to carry firearms).1
The2 report tells us that the soldier was a woman. Why is this relevant? Like male soldiers, she was a serving member of the Israeli Zionist occupation armed forces, misleadingly named “Defence Forces”. Zionist female soldiers are present at all levels and all theatres of war.3
It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that this is being inserted in order to mitigate the impact of revelation that it was a soldier who was shot, which might possibly lessen sympathy for the victims on that score.
Perhaps the fact that the Palestinian in question appears to have initiated the incident justifies the appellation of “gunman”? OK, when Israeli armed forces initiate an action, do we ever see “Israeli gunmen open fire on Palestinians”?
Certainly not in mainstream western media. And not just because of bias towards state armed forces, because even when the shooters are Israeli Zionist civilians, they are never called “gunmen”. And such incidents occurred on a monthly basis recently.4
MOTIVE, BACKGROUND, CONTEXT
Moving away from the actual incident, what about the background and context? “Israel already has been carrying out daily arrest raids in the occupied West Bank since a series of Palestinian attacks last spring killed 19 Israelis” the report informs us.
So the Palestinian “gunman” could have had an understandable motive in responding to Israeli Zionist oppression and repression but in case we should sympathise with him, we are reminded that “Palestinian attacks last spring killed 19 Israelis.”
After conditioning with that paragraph, the report gives us more recent possible motivation for the attack (even then, note the attempted justification for actions of “Israeli forces” fighting “gunmen” and “militants”).
“Earlier on Saturday, the Israeli military shot and killed two Palestinian teenagers during an arrest raid in the Jenin refugee camp, the site of repeated clashes between Israeli forces and local gunmen and residents. The camp is known as a stronghold of Palestinian militants.”
“Palestinian officials said soldiers entered the camp early on Saturday and surrounded a house. In videos circulated on social media, exchanges of fire could be heard. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported two dead and 11 wounded, three of them critically.”
And let’s put that “killing of 19 Israelis” last spring in context too: Last year, “as a result of the violence, at least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed … In Israel, at least 13 people were killed, including two children”5. A search of any year will find a similar or worse story.
SOME OF THE TRUTH
Occasionally, we are supplied with truth, as when the report informs us that “Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed the area in a move that is not recognised internationally.”
“It considers the entire city, including east Jerusalem, home to the city’s most important holy sites, to be its capital. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.” Nor is East Jerusalem the only area occupied by Israel judged illegally by “international law”.6
But even this is partial truth because, whether “recognised internationally” or not, the whole territory of the state of Israel is an occupation by force of Palestinian land by European settlers in 1948, backed by some world superpowers and a constant source of conflict there ever since.
MAKING SENSE OF CONFLICTS
Context is crucial to understanding events but justification is a moral and practical judgement7 according to the standpoint of those doing the judging and evaluation. Clearly the standpoint of an occupier and a person displaced — an occupier and the oppressor – can never be the same.
It follows that those who support the occupier and more certainly invest in its support, are going to be biased against the displaced, the oppressed and repressed. The world’s biggest superpower, the USA, supports Israel hugely militarily, financially and politically.
The states of the world and their controlling elites are well aware of the balance of power and, for the moment, most support the superpower. This is even more so in the case of the geo-political area designated “the West”, location of most mainstream media agencies’ headquarters.
The bias is clear if we take the trouble to analyse and we’ll find it not only in the reporting on the Israeli Zionist state and the Palestinians but on all other conflicts, to greater or lesser degree. What stand we take depends on whether we align ourselves with the oppressor or the oppressed.
1See “Gun-carrying for Israeli citizens” in Sources.
2She has since died and headlines are now including her gender.
4See “Absence of “gunman” when an Israeli Zionist civilian is the shooter” in Sources. Note that all these reports were taken from media sources one might suppose not sympathetic to Israeli Zionism; a quick search of Reuters only brought up a 2012 reference to such an incident and of Associated Press, not even one on the first search page.
Many thousands marched through Dublin’s city centre yesterday in protest against the soaring cost of living, pushed in particular by rising energy costs. Most mass media avoided estimating numbers except the ridiculous ‘estimate’ of 3,000 by the Irish Times daily1.
As the Cost of Living Coalition convened a mass protest demonstration in Dublin, the Anti-Imperialist Action organisation called for a Revolutionary Bloc to meet at the James Connolly monument2 in Beresford Place.
In mid-July, statistics published showed the average cost of living had risen above 9%. The average figure conceals the higher percentage rise in daily consumables such as food and drink that will rise higher still with price hikes by energy supply companies.
Companies are raising their prices steeply across at least the western world in a trend that began, despite much media discourse, prior to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. But Ireland emerges as the most expensive country in the EU with Dublin the most expensive city there by far3.
SPEECHES FOR REVOLUTION & AGAINST REPRESSION
At the Connolly monument, people gathered with banners about the housing struggle and against NATO, along with placards and flags, of which latter the most common was the green-and-gold version of the “Starry Plough”, flag of the Irish Citizen Army4.
The cathaoirleach (chairperson) welcomed people, introduced the purpose of the meeting as being to protest the soaring cost of living and introduced the first speaker, from the Revolutionary Housing League. The RHL speaker outlined their program of direct action.
“What can be more direct than to occupy empty buildings?” he asked those assembled. He recounted some of the recent actions of the RHL and said that they are attracting attention and support, ending by calling on others to get involved5.
The second speaker, introduced as a revolutionary socialist anti-imperialist, went through a list of ills brought by the capitalist system, including lack of housing, selling off our resources and infrastructure, disregard for our language, environmental destruction and danger of nuclear war.
For all said the speaker, the Irish national bourgeoisie are guilty, “the Gombeens, a class unable even to free their own country”. “We need broad fronts to fight all these attacks of class war”, he said “but they must be directed openly against capitalism and imperialism.”
The final speaker, a socialist Republican, represented the newly-formed End State Repression campaign group. Those wanting to oppose rising prices, he emphasised, could not share their struggle with those intending to enter a coalition with Fiann Fáil or Fine Gael.
He also recalled how when protests against the bank bailouts and student fee hikes were getting going in 2010, they were met with state violence through the Gardaí. As the resistance builds, it will get attacked, he said but “we can’t allow them to drive us off the streets again.”
Many drivers passing the rally in vehicles, private and of work – including public transport — sounded their horns in solidarity, giving rise to cheers from the protesters.
MARCH TO BLACKWATER
The assembled then set off in two lines along Custom House Quay, across Talbot Memorial Bridge and then eastward along the quays. On the way they shouted slogans including “One, two, three, four – Housing crisis no more!” and “Only solution: Revolution!”
Other slogans include “Whose streets? Our streets!” “Whose Republic? Our Republic!” and “High rent, high taxes – fight back!”
The marchers stopped upon reaching the offices Blackwater Asset Management Company which boasts its background in “coming from the following sectors, Police Force, Legal Profession, Defence Forces, Financial Services & Private Security sectors”.
The crowd expressed its disapproval of the actions of this company. A speaker assured all that any attack on housing activists will be met with resistance. Two songs were sung there too, including Connolly’s Be Moderate/ We Only Want the Earth.6
THE BLOC MEETS THE MAIN MARCH
The Bloc marchers passed through the high-rise apartment blocs in the area before going on to Pearse Street and marching to the junction with D’Olier Street, where they met the main march of many thousands7 rounding Trinity College and still coming down from O’Connell Street.
Here the revolutionary bloc displayed their banners and placards and chanted some slogans. Many in the crowd marching past gave signs of appreciation and people in an anarchist bloc shouted “Solidarity”, raising clenched fists, giving rise to equal response from the Bloc8.
The large Sinn Féin9 section aroused shouts of “No Collusion! One Solution! Revolution!” from the Bloc. The earlier slogan of “1,2,3,4 – Housing crisis no more!” segued for awhile into “5,6,7,8 – Smash the Free State!”
The main Dublin march was organised by the Cost of Living Coalition of 30 organisations, including People Before Profit but also Sinn Féin, which is on a clear trajectory to enter Government in the near future but in coalition with traditional neo-liberal capitalist political parties.
The CLC also includes trade unions which many accused of not mobilising for the protest.
Derry city saw a small protest against the rising cost of living also.
A far-Right march in Cork which was addressed by a representative of the fascist National Party attracted little more than 150. Ostensibly against the housing crisis, speakers of course attacked immigration despite it having no connection to the State failure to build affordable public housing.
A marcher in Dublin carrying a placard calling for an end to immigration until the housing crisis were solved gave rise to a chorus of “Home for All!” from the Revolutionary Bloc, calls echoed by some among the passing marchers.
Gardaí on foot and in patrol cars tailing the main march were greeted, as they passed the Revolutionary Bloc, with shouts linking Drew Harris10, Commissioner of the police force of the Irish State, to the British Intelligence Service MI5.
A notable feature of both marches was the patience with the interruption to their journeys of private and public transport drivers and, indeed, the signs of support from many, including beeping of horns and hand signals such as the ‘thumbs-up’ and even the occasional clenched fist.
1The Irish Times has a track record of drastically reducing the estimated numbers in reports of anti-government demonstrations, demonstrated most strikingly during the giant water protest marches. It gave the figure 3,000 in leading paragraph to its original twitter report but more recently amended that on line to “several thousand”. The Sunday Mirror reported 20,000 and supporters estimated between 15,000 and 20,000.
2The monument includes a representation in bronze of the Scottish-Irish revolutionary James Connolly, across the road from where he had his office in Liberty Hall (the two-storey building was destroyed by British shelling in 1916 and has since been replaced by a tall man-storey building, HQ of the SIPTU union. Connolly was one of 16 executed by the British in 1916 after the Rising that year.
4The ICA was formed to defend striking workers from police attacks during the 1913 Lockout in Dublin. It was based on trade union membership and took a prominent role in the 1916 Rising, with a much-reduced one in the War of Independence (1919-1921) and the ensuing Civil War (1922-1923). The ICA recruited women as well as men and some of the women held officer positions, possibly the first revolutionary organisation, certainly the first socialist-based one to do so.
6The lyrics were composed by James Connolly and published in hist Songs of Freedom in New York in 1907. The title was the ironic “Be Moderate” but has come to be known from the refrain as “We Only Want the Earth”. Furthermore, arranged to the air of “A Nation Once Again”, it provides a chorus of “We Only Want the Earth!”
7Most media would only state “thousands” or “many thousands”, but the Irish Times had the audacity to claim the ridiculously low number of 3,000! Estimates by participants varied from 10,000 to 20,000 (latter also figure of the Sunday Mirror).
8It seemed likely that had the Revolutionary Bloc been widely publicised earlier that it would have been supported by many individuals and at some other organisations.
9The former revolutionary republican party rarely mobilises its large membership for street protests as these days it is more concerned with votes in elections. However, SF is part of the Cost of Living Coalitionand SF’s President, Mary Lou MacDonald, was one of the scheduled speakers at the main march rally.
10Immediately prior to his current appointment, Drew Harris was Deputy Chief Constable of the sectarian British colonial gendarmerie, the Police Force of Northern Ireland which, until 2001, was the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
On Monday, as the remains of Queen Elizabeth II were being conducted in State funeral in London, Socialist Republicans rallied against monarchy in front of the James Connolly1 monument in Dublin.
They displayed flags and placards, heard speeches and burned the flag of the UK.
They then marched to O’Connell Bridge carrying a “coffin” bearing the words “British Empire RIP”, dumped it into the Liffey and marched on to the General Post Office building, where a large force of Irish state police prevented their entry.
The actions occurred as the royal funeral was taking place in London. In a move that drew public criticism from presenter of independent program Newstalk, national broadcaster RTÉ sent a crew to cover the funeral in London to film it in realtime for Irish national television.
Taoiseach (equivalent of Prime Minister) Mícheál Martin and President Michael D. Higgins in persons represented the Irish State at the British royal funeral.
Many Irish politicians (including leaders of the Sinn Féin political party) and public figures had sent fulsome messages of condolence and praise of the late British Queen.
“DOWN WITH THE MONARCHY!”
The chairperson of the event and speakers lambasted the “sycophancy” of Irish Government figures and other politicians and public figures. They drew attention of the past record of British Royalty and to the ongoing British occupation of Ireland.
The event had been publicised on social media under the slogan of “Down with the Monarchy!” and that was very much the tone of the event as occupants in a police van watched from across the street.
The chairperson opened proceedings by reminding the attendance of Connolly’s slogan at the outbreak of WWI that “We serve neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland.” Passing vehicles occasionally tooted their horns in approval.
A young socialist Republican read out Connolly’s article in The Workers’ Republic of March 1902 on the occasion of the coronation of Edward VIII.
Connolly stated that to Socialists the replacement of one exploiter by another hardly mattered and would excite little comment.
“But although we would rather treat the matter thus philosophically, we find that the machinations of those in power do not leave us that possibility; with them, and because of them, the festivities attending the Coronation have taken on the aspect not merely of a huge parade of pomp and magnificence – cloaking the festering sores of that slave society on which it is built – but have also become an elaborately contrived and astutely worked piece of Royalist and Capitalist propaganda, designed to captivate the imagination of the unthinking multitude, and thus lead them to look askance upon every movement which would set up as an ideal to work for something less gorgeously spectacular, even if more solidly real.
The evil effects of private ownership of industries is thus illustrated once more in a manner that ought to appeal to those patriots in our midst who still dread the innovating effects of Socialism on the National spirit of the Irish people2.”
DIVINE RIGHT AND WORKERS’ RIGHT
Diarmuid Breatnach quoted John Ball, a leader of the English Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 who, addressing the crowd in reference to the Christian Bible story of Adam and Eve, enquired: “When Adam delved (dug) and Eve span, who then was the gentleman?”
For that challenge to divine right to rule or right by birth, Breatnach related, King Richard II had John Ball hanged, drawn and quartered, his head stuck on a pike on London Bridge and a quarter of his body displayed at each of four different towns in England.
Breatnach contrasted this to the right of workers, who he said produce all things, to the ownership of all things and called on working people to take their place in history as conscious beings.
Another speaker, on behalf of Spirit of Irish Freedom Republican Society and the Michael Fagan Fenian Society based in Westmeath also spoke and included the Sinn Féin leadership in his denunciation of Irish politicians who had accepted and praised British Royalty.
Seán Doyle spoke about the attitude of servility which works its way into many different aspects of life, for example into accepting the laws of the capitalist system and the housing crisis.
Doyle likened the acceptance of this right of capitalism to acceptance of the divine right to rule and stated that workers had to break from this acceptance, which is what the Revolutionary Housing League was advocating and practicing in action.
UNION JACK IN FLAMES AND COFFIN INTO THE RIVER
After the speeches a copy of the “Union Jack” flag was set on fire to symbolise the future of the forced union of nations — including a part of Ireland — under England rule.
Participants formed up into two columns flying flags, headed by four persons carrying a large pseudo-coffin. Taking to the road, they crossed Butt Bridge, turned right along the quay until they reached O’Connell Bridge.
There Gardaí and three Public Order Vehicles awaited them. Undeterred, the marchers cheered a short speech and chanted some slogans. Then at the count of “a h-aon, a dó, a trí” the “coffin” was heaved over the parapet into the Liffey river.
This action emulated a similar one carried out by James Connolly and revolutionary socialists in 1897 during Queen Victoria’s visit to Dublin.
It is worth recording too that Queen Victoria visited again in 1900 to affirm Ireland as part of the UK and to help recruit more Irish to go and fight the Boers in South Africa.
In response to that occasion, Iníní na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland) led over 50 women in organising a Children’s Patriotic Party on the Sunday after the Wolf Tone Commemoration in July of that year.
Over 30,000 children had paraded from Beresford Place to Clonturk Park in north Dublin where they were served picnic lunches and listened to anti-recruitment speeches.
After disposing of the “coffin” of the “British Empire” on Monday, the marchers proceeded to the General Post Office where the building had been closed and a strong force of Gardaí also prevented access.
The GPO was the HQ of the insurrectionary forces during the 1916 Rising and many considered it insulting to their memory that the Irish tricolour above the building was lowered to half-mast in respect for the British monarchy.
The event concluded with cheers from passers-by and without any arrests.
1The James Connolly monument in Dublin is located in Beresford Place, across the street from what was the old Liberty Hall, the HQ of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ union (now replaced by SIPTU).
2See Sources & Further Information for a link to the full text.
Irish newscaster slams Irish broadcasting team sent to cover royal funeral: teahttps://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/uk/elizabeth-is-not-our-queen-irish-presenter-slams-tv-coverage-of-monarchs-funeral/articleshow/94281107.cms
Propaganda is employed in wars and finds its most widescale application through the mass media. The belligerents want their own populations to support their war effort and to have other states support them.
IRISH REPORTING ON THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church infamously mirrored the propaganda of their corresponding religious officials in the Spanish State in backing the fascist-military uprising against the elected Popular Front Government in 1936.
Irish newspapers and radio reporting on the whole followed the line of the Church hierarchy. The resulting conflict gave the Spanish state the greatest number of known mass graves in Europe and anywhere in the world, in fact, outside of Cambodia.
The Catholic hierarchy declared the fascist-military to be fighting a religious crusade against “Godless communism”, repeated propaganda of the fascist side, denounced real and imagined crimes of the Republican side.
They denied or ignored news of crimes of the fascists, which occurred from the first days and for years after Franco’s victory, in the course of which they denounced even priests who spoke out about the fascist crimes.
Whether the Spanish Republican Government had its own propaganda (I’m sure it did) or whether all its supporters were squeaky clean or not is besides the point. The overwhelmingly pro-fascist forces propagandaaffectedusin Ireland and most of it was fallacious.
Even the Irish Press, paper of De Valera who had banned the Blueshirts earlier: …. “These idealistic young men also saw their participation in the Spanish Civil War as helping to solve political divisions in Ireland and ultimately Irish unity. Interviewed in Dublin prior to his departure for Spain, Capt. P. Quinn from county Kilkenny, made the following statement: I believe that if an Irish Brigade succeed in reaching Spain, and there fights against Communism and all its terrors ….”
This had a practical effect in Ireland at the time and later, assisting religious and other fascists to attack socialists, communists and other progressives.
It helped create the atmosphere in which alternative writers were censored and hounded and the Irish State could actually expel an Irish citizen – Jimmy Grailton – for the crime of being a socialist community activist.
In turn, this anti-socialist, anti-communist atmosphere created a poisonous environment for social progress, whether championed by revolutionaries or social democrats.
It also helped create a wall shielding the ongoing endemic mental and physical – including sexual — abuse of women and children which seemed impermeable to control or even criticism for decades.
BRITISH WWI PROPAGANDA
The British imperial cant of “defence of small nations” or of “defending civilisation” in its war against Germany during WW1 while simultaneously suppressing the 1916 Rising and repressing many peoples around the world is well known.
The media related invented German atrocities, gave one-sided reporting, censored or demonised alternative views (I know, beginning to sound familiar).
That is the general, well-established picture. However, I’d like to focus on a specific incident and how it was treated: the sinking by German submarine (U-Boat) of the Howth fishing trawlers St. Michan and Geraldine on 31st of March 1918, with the loss of five Irish lives.
No question of who’s in the wrong there, you’d think. The Irish unionist media (admittedly under war powers control) jumped to accuse the German Uboat crew of a “Howth atrocity”, an “Act of Murder” and that they “Shelled without warning”1.
I am grateful to Phillip O’Connor for his exploration of the incident) in his Road to Independence (2016) [Howth Free Press] on the involvement of Howth, Sutton and Baldoyle communities in the struggle for independence and social progress (and his source on the incident, Seán T. Rickard’s MA).
WAR CONTEXT OF INCIDENT
WWI was fought on land, air (even then) and sea. The British Navy was the most powerful in the world and imposed a naval blockade on Germany, bottling up the latter’s navy but also preventing supplies of any kind entering by sea. Unusually, the blockade included foods.
Germany took the position that Britain was trying to starve the German population and responded with its submarines attacking UK shipping which at the time included Ireland’s.
The British responded by concealing guns on merchant ships so that a German submarine surfacing and demanding surrender could in turn by sunk by the merchant ship in question. Indeed the British used fishing boats as mine-sweepers and even armed some too.
This had the effect of encouraging German Uboat captains on occasion to sink merchant ships without warning rather than run the risk of being sunk themselves.
However the U90, the submarine in question concerning the Irish trawlers in March 1918, appeared not to have been doing that and O’Connor quotes the case of the Greek ship SS Salaminia, of which the entire crew had been given time to get into lifeboats before being sunk.
Indeed, the eight captain and crew of the Michan all got into their “punt” and were picked up alive by a British Navy patrol. Tragically, the Geraldine had no additional boat, having set some of its crew ashore on Lambay Island to gather whelk for long-line hook-baiting.
Whether Captain Jess of the U90 believed the Geraldine was being defiant, playing for time or anything else is not known but his Uboat sank the vessel and there were no survivors.
The dominant newspapers in Ireland at the time condemned the German Uboat along the lines outlined above but also went further to make political capital out of it against the Republican movement.
They – and politicians they quoted – used the incident to attack Irish Republicanism, one going so far as to refer sarcastically to the Republicans’ “gallant allies”, lifting the quotation from the 1916 Proclamation of Independence.
There were rules of war agreed at the Hague Convention of 1907. Attacks on civilians are ruled as a war crime by the Geneva Convention but that was not composed and agreed until 1949.
However, its applicability to all the situations of conflict at sea were not codified until much later and, even then, are not binding on the signatories2.
It needs also to be noted that violations of humanitarian regulations and laws by most states have been documented during their wars with other states and in suppressing uprisings. The British did arm merchant ships during WW1 and also used them in a mine-sweeping capacity.
Also the Leinster, for example, sunk by German Uboat torpedoes on 10th October the same year as the Howth fishing boats, was carrying military personnel and armament and therefore in war terms a legitimate target.3
However, it is difficult to see how the fishing boats could be suspected of being armed merchantmen or even as ships supplying Britain and therefore equal to any ships attacked for breaching the Royal Navy blockade of Germany.
I am grateful to O’Connor for supplying me with the reference4 to the UK’s war-time restrictions obliging fishermen to ply their trade at 15 miles or further from its main ports, which included Dún Laoghaire and Dublin and therefore affected the Howth fishing fleet.
The U90’s captain may have suspected the British were using them as “spotters” for submarines in the area but even so, it is difficult to justify sinking without verifying radio equipment on board and especially without a dinghy to take the crew to safety ….!
In that respect it seems the U90 might have been in violation of agreed measures for the protection of civilians at sea in time of war by destroying civilian fishing vessels.
On the question of warning, although there were no survivors of the Geraldine, the available evidence is that the Captain of the U90 did warn before sinking shipping and had done so in a number of cases including another fishing boat on the same day.
But all was grist to the British war propaganda media and even, especially in the case of Ireland, to its colonial purposes in attacking its main anti-colonial opponents of the time, Irish Republicans.
Of course too, left unmentioned was the fact that the UK was attacking German civilians through blockading food imports5 and threatening and impounding any blockade-breaking ships (except those of the USA6).
Blockades and sanctions have cost many lives over the years – the UK blockaded the Spanish Republic during the Anti-Fascist War which did not impede Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy hugely supplying arms, aircraft and men to the military-fascist troops.
The USA imposed sanctions on Cuba for decades and Iraq for some years; in the latter case, by 1996 an estimated half million children had died as a result, a figure justified by Madeleine Albright, then USA Ambassador to the UN7.
Israel is permanently blockading Gaza in Palestine by land, air and sea – Egypt is participating too with its control over one gate. NATO sanctioned Russia which is now retaliating with some measures also.
Interestingly, O’Connor records that British war propaganda had little effect in 1918 on majority Irish opinion and even the Howth fishermen’s representative condemned the UK Admiralty for the mortal danger in obliging fishermen to ply their trade beyond 15 miles from shore8.
The UK General Election results in Ireland six weeks later would be a convincing illustration of how the vast majority of the population was thinking.
1It would be interesting to know whether it entered the heads of any editors that the British military had bombarded the city centre of Dublin with a number of land and sea-born artillery pieces just two years earlier, without any attempt of warning to the civilian population whatsoever.
3The Wikipedia entry on the sinking of the the Leinster, while acknowledging the nearly 500 military personnel on board, does not common on this negation of the ship’s civilian status. It does not mention the gun mounted on it either, which is noted in this record https://www.rmsleinster.com/sinking/sinking.htm
4See Appendix for details on this (thanks to Phillip O’Connor).
102. The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if: a) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival.…
103. If the civilian population of the blockaded territory is inadequately provided with food and other objects essential for its survival, the blockading party must provide for free passage of such foodstuffs and other essential supplies.
6Vide O’Connor The Road to Independence (2016) [Howth Free Press]
To regulate the security risk of fishing around Ireland during the war the Admiralty thought it necessary to divide the coasts into security zones. These zones had various levels of regulation and protection. Areas were either licensed by special permit, which allowed fishermen to fish these areas under restriction or were simply designated as areas where fishing was prohibited. Orders directly issued by the Admiralty were passed on to the fishermen through the D.A.T.I. via Notices to Mariners (NA G/12 (1917) & G/20/5 (1918).
Fishing was generally prohibited several miles from headlands, as it was a favourite spot for lurking U-boats. It was also prohibited around minefields, which were used to protect the coast and divert traffic into safer zones for escorts. It was also prohibited around naval bases and near convoy meeting points. And traditionally it was always prohibited in sea-lanes where there was heavy sea traffic. It was prohibited in many areas between sunset and sunrise, (a term still used in modern Rules Of the Road) and also known as “dark hours”. If any security measure presented itself, fishing could also be prohibited at short notice for whatever reason by word of mouth on the local naval authority shoreside or naval authority at sea. The Admiralty also had the right to commandeer vessels and/or cargo space also at short notice. The Admiralty later ordered that if the fishermen sighted enemy submarines they were to stop their fishing activity and go immediately to inform the closest naval authority whether at sea or ashore. This made fishing more difficult, costly and dangerous and particularly annoying to Irish fishermen with national sentiments.
The Admiralty even warned that a failure to comply might lead them to be fired on by naval vessels. Immediately affecting Howth fishermen was the prohibition of fishing within fifteen miles of Kingstown. This area roughly to the NW of Kingstown and roughly a few miles off Howth Head was a favourite bait procurement ground for Howth fishermen but also fell within range of most of their local fishing grounds.
In March 1917 the following rules affected fishermen fishing the East coast of Ireland but in particular Howth fishermen were as follows:
All decked and motorboats fishing anywhere between Ballywalter, Co. Down, and Howth, or anywhere between Wicklow Head and Loop Head, must carry official permits to fish. Between Ballywalter, the Isle of Man, and Howth, such boats may fish by day and by night at any distance from land within the limits of their permits.
They are forbidden to be stopped in or to pass during dark hours through waters where no fishing is allowed.
Moored nets may be left out at night, provided that the head ropes are kept five feet or more below the surface.
(Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland. Notice to Fishermen. Effective 1 March 1917. Wt.-865. 250. 2/17)
Later rules came into effect in 1918 for the locality, one of which was fishing could only be conducted within daylight hours in this area.
According to the media, the nuclear power plant in Ukraine is controlled by the Russian military and being bombed by artillery.
The Ukrainian state spokespersons accuse the Russians of bombing it themselves while the Russian state spokespersons blame the Ukrainian military. Both warn of the danger of a nuclear disaster.
Amidst the trading accusations, about what can we all be sure?
Well, really only of a few things about which there is (or seems to be) agreement:
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, although it is being maintained in operation by the Ukrainian State’s employees is within the area occupied by the Russian military very soon after the Russian invasion.
The plant is being bombed by someone.
Due to the bombing, there is a danger of nuclear disaster, initially in the Donbas region where the plant is located but quickly affecting large areas of at least the Ukrainian and of the Russian states and ultimately affecting other areas of Europe1.
The bombing of the plant should stop immediately and all possible efforts should be expended in that direction.
To go beyond that and arrive at a reasonably safe conclusion about who is doing the bombing, we need to employ critical deductive analysis and to set aside as far as we can our prejudices. We can’t help but have those but we can set them aside for a moment.
Using critical deductive analysis means looking at aspects like what is logical, who benefits from what, what other evidence is available ….
CRITICAL DEDUCTIVE ANALYSIS
Who could benefit from the bombing? In theory, either.
The Ukrainian authorities say the Russian do because they wish to blame their opponents.
Since the Ukrainians have demanded the Russians – apart from withdrawing their military entirely – remove themselves from the area of the nuclear plant, presumably the Ukrainians would benefit from blame attaching to the Russians.
Interestingly, “The US, United Nations and Ukraine have called for a withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the nuclear complex, Europe’s largest, to ensure it is not a target.”2
The Ukrainian state already has US/NATO and the western mass media on its side but a threatened nuclear disaster would inject much greater urgency into the Ukrainian State’s regular calls for more and greater weapons.
Presumably the Russian state, if they were seen to be innocent of this bombing, could use the danger of nuclear disaster to rally greater support within its state and among its allies too.
Who faces the greatest risk in the continued bombing?
Both face a risk of a nuclear disaster, initially and later from fallout. However, initially at least, it is the Russian military in the immediate area, along with the Ukrainian staff of the plant at greatest risk.
But very close behind that in high risk come the civilian population of the Donbas, from which Luhansk militia are drawn – in other words, friends, families, relations, lovers of the Luhansk militia.
Who knows the truth?
Undoubtedly, in the immediate first instance, the Ukrainian military, the Russian military, the people of the locality including the Luhansk militia and, presumably, the staff of the nuclear plant. But also the intelligence services of US/NATO.
The mainstream western media is not publishing interviews with the people of the locality and have slanted their general reporting against Russia, which leaves the Ukrainian State side with the most impact3 in the controversy.
And the intelligence services of US/NATO, who have kept quiet on this issue.
Another accusation which the Ukrainian authorities have made against the Russian side is that they have installed artillery around the nuclear plant from which they have been firing at the Ukrainian military.
This would be against rules of conflict that military should avoid installing their personnel, weapons or material in or around civilian facilities.4
Accusing the Russian military of installing artillery around the site would also seem to provide the Ukrainian military with a reason for shelling the area themselves.
There is a strong inconsistency in the Ukrainian accusation, ignored by the media. We are asked to believe that the Russian military is shelling the facility but also firing from next to it?
Is it possible? Fire from the position, move all the weapons and personnel out, then bomb it themselves, repeat the whole operation and repeat again? Hardly.
And such movements would surely show up in intelligence reports of US/NATO but they are not confirming it. In fact, the Russian side showed their satellite photos of the site in which no artillery could be seen and also pointed out that the US had their own satelliteimages but was saying nothing.
Satellite imagery was published recently showing smoke from artillery strikes on the site and would surely be available to show alleged Russian artillery installations there and, in fact, their firing from there5.
And very clear satellite imagery was readily available and published in the media to support the Ukrainian authorities’ claim that Russian planes in the Saky airbase in the Crimea had been destroyed on 9th August.6
Another inconsistency of the allegation that the Russians are risking a nuclear disaster is in reconciling it with Russian state war aims.
The Russians say they invaded to prevent the Ukrainian state from becoming an outpost of the US/NATO offensive military alliance along their border and b) to protect the largely Russian-speaking population of the Donbas area from attacks by the Ukrainian fascists and military.
The Ukrainian State, backed up by US/NATO and the media7 say that all of it is to do with Russian imperialism and land-grabbing.
In either case, is it likely that the Russians would risk nuclear contamination of the whole area they wish to occupy or to defend? And is it likely that the Luhansk militia, drawn from the people of the area, would permit their homes and family to be put in such a terrible risk?
Having employed critical deductive analysis of the available evidence, the logical conclusion must be that
The nuclear facility is being bombed by the Ukrainian military
They are bombing it hoping to force the Russian military evacuation out of the area and/or to accuse the Russian military of doing the bombing and to employ it in propaganda against the invading Russian military
and to create a sense of environmental danger from the latter
in which they are accustomed to expect uncritical cooperation from the mainstream western media and from US/NATO
to assist in having states within NATO send them more and more weapons
WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN?
Clearly, the Ukrainian military should cease bombarding the nuclear installation immediately
and to assist in that, the western media should make clear who is responsible.
And the International Atomic Energy Agency should send as neutral a team as possible (including perhaps officials and experts from China, Iran and India) to inspect the site and publish their results8.
The USA/ NATO should break their silence on their satellite surveillance and photos of the site.
This process and conclusion will be difficult for a number of key players and for many commentators. The process will expose the Ukrainian military as having been engaged in activity with potential to cause an environmental disaster.
It will expose their political leadership as having lied while trying to blame their opponents. The US/NATO block and their allies will be put in an awkward position for having supported the Ukrainian authorities while they were engaged in that activity.
The whole affair may switch – or at least weaken — wide western public sympathy away from the Ukrainian state. Many people may have to reappraise their positions in part or even completely.
Difficult, yes – but is that any justification for collusion in the possibility of a nuclear disaster?
1Although assessments of the likely affected range of the disaster differ strongly (see Sources)
4Both sides have been accused of violating those rules but in terms of hard evidence, mostly the Ukrainian military, as was revealed in the recent report of the more usually pro-western Amnesty International.
Conflict reporting requires special skills, especially when doing so far from the the actual battleground (as is often the case and usually with western media reporting on the conflict in the Ukraine). Also journalists naturally want to eat, pay their mortgages and university fees for their children etc so it is important to write what is likely to get published which, in the last analysis and usually the first, will be decided by the editors of the news media paying them.
I’ve put together some dos and don’ts to help with that from my experience. Social media also plays an increasingly important role in public opinion and I’ve also provided some brief guidelines for interaction there.
DO NOT give any credence to constant reports of Ukrainian military using Ukrainian civilians as human shields. Now that Amnesty International has verified that pattern, publicise all the politicians and military criticising that report.
LOOK FOR and repeat quotes of politicians accusing the Rusians of “targeting civilians”, practicing “terrorism” or even “genocide”.
Any DAMAGE TO CIVILIAN HOMES or other buildings by artillery must always be by the Russian military to the Ukrainian state side of the conflict, never to the other side by Ukrainian artillery. Your editors do not want to read or hear about damage to the other side’s homes or civilian buildings.
However, IT IS GREAT TO REPORT damage to Russian military or Donetsk People’s Militia and Luhansk People’s Militia, because it makes the Ukrainian state forces (and NATO weapons) look good.
DAMAGE TO UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES claimed by the Russians may be reported but always as an unverifiable claim, unless confirmed by Ukrainian state sources.
DAMAGE TO RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES claimed by Ukrainian state sources should always be reported in as fact-seeming a manner as possible (though from time to time some agencies will insert the caveat of being “unable to verify the claims of either side at this time”).
HUMAN INTEREST and emotional stories should always be from the Ukrainian state side. Dog-saving stories did very well but might have been overdone. Refugee or otherwise victim children, old people and women tend to make sympathetic subjects. Your editors are not interested in dogs, children, old people or women from the other side; they will only confuse the picture for readers.
ALWAYS REPORT HUMANITARIAN SUPPLY OR EVACUATION corridors as at Ukrainian or external initiative and if failing, should always be reported as with Russian culpability.
ALWAYS refer to the Donetsk People’s Militia and Luhansk People’s Militia as “pro-Russian” forces and never as defensive in origin.
ALWAYS reference the conflict as beginning in 2022 with the Russian invasion.
IF USING AN EARLIER TIME reference, write that it began with the “annexation of Crimea by Russia” in 2014
NEVER refer to the Russian-speakers in the Donbas region being attacked in 2014 by Ukrainian fascists and military and in some areas successfully defending themselves.
NEVER refer to the Russian-speakers in the Crimea holding a referendum in which a huge majority voted to ask to become part of Russia.
AVOID REFERRING to political parties banned in Ukrainian state territory, reporters arrested or threatened, news media censored or closed and films and books banned. The same can however be freely reported when the Russian state is the one doing it.
ALWAYS refer to the Ukrainian state as a democracy and the 2014 riots and abrupt change of government as a democratic one, never as a coup nor with reference to attacks on LGBT people, Roma, Left-wingers, Russian-speakers or any other group. Do not under any circumstances mention the burning alive of 42 people in a trade union hall by Ukrainian fascists.
ALWAYS precede any reports on Russian military advances as being a response to “setbacks” or “failure” in a supposed “attempt to capture Kyiv”. Never give any credence to claims that the Russian military advance on Kyiv was in order to limit the Ukraine state’s ability to direct, supply and support Ukrainian state military elsewhere in the region. Or that Russia had nowhere enough troops there to try to take Kyiv.
AVOID mentioning the Azov Regiment when possible (this was not possible when reporting on Mariupol, of course, since they were the core of the Ukrainian state forces there) but if doing so, NEVER call them “fascists” or “fascist-led”. It is of course permissible to refer to them as “nationalist” and sometimes as “having some far-Right members”.
ALWAYS refer to Ukrainian state military fighting as “heroic” and any defeats due merely to Russian military equipment superiority. NEVER mention that the Russian invading force were outnumbered by Ukrainian military by four to one OR that the Russian military were not battle-hardened while the Ukrainian military had been fighting the defensive Russian-speaking areas’ militia for eight years.
OCCASIONALLY refer to “demoralisation” or “war-weariness” among the Russian military (NEVER among the Ukrainian armed forces, least of all about their desertions).
FREQUENTLY quote Premier Zelenski at length and Putin, if unavoidable, in brief.
FREQUENTLY quote heads of state and prominent public figures etc of NATO countries, especially its leader, the USA in support of the Ukrainian state and against Russia.
NEVER QUOTE public figures of those same states in criticising NATO or the Ukrainian state – doing so will only confuse people.
ALWAYS present NATO as “a defensive military alliance which is no threat to anyone”.
SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTING GUIDELINES ON THE WAR IN UKRAINE
ANY TIME someone posts an item which shows the Ukrainian regime in a nasty light, respond by posting comments
attacking them personally as “Putinistas” or “Putin whores”
as pro-Russian imperialism or as “Russian shils”
or attack their sources as of “Kremlin origin”, “Russian-funded”, etc
or post links to articles attacking Russia’s conduct in the Ukraine conflict as a reply.
RIDICULE any consideration of Russian claims that NATO has been steadily circling Russia ever-closer (despite the maps appearing to show this is what has been happening). Respond to the person making those claims
attacking them personally as “Putinistas” or “Putin whores” or as “Russian shils”
as pro-Russian imperialism
or post links to articles attacking Russia’s conduct in the Ukraine conflict as a reply.
ATTACK any reference to fascist forces such as the Azov by claiming
that they are just “nationalist” or
they have been broken up and spread through the rest of the forces (not to “infect” the rest, of course not)
accuse the commentators of being “Putinistas” or “Putin whores”
and pro-Russian imperialism or as “Russian shils”
or counter with reference to Russian use of the Wagner group
or post links to articles attacking Russia’s conduct in the Ukraine conflict as a reply.
JUSTIFY BANNING AND CENSORSHIP of journalists and media platforms
We are being constantly reminded by the western press on a daily basis, quite rightly, of civilians being killed in the Ukraine conflict1. On the Ukrainian side. Somehow, the Ukrainian military never fire at the Russian side – or if they do, they somehow never manage to kill civilians.
Amazing, really, in a war which the media keeps telling us is ferocious.
The Russian side is rarely quoted but when it is, its statements are dismissed. They say that the Ukrainian military plant themselves among civilian housing and fire artillery from there. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they and anyway, the Ukrainian State denies it.
The Russian military are, according to the Ukrainian State, not so much careless about the the targets of their bombardment but deliberately aiming at civilian structures.
Why they would do that when, according to the same sources, they want to extend the Russian empire there, is not explained. It’s all about terrorism, according to Zelensky, the Ukrainian premier and media figure.
The Russian State story, not so easy to come by, is that they never target civilian areas deliberately, unless the Ukrainian military are using them to fire from – which according to the Ukrainian State, quoted without question by the western media, the Ukrainian military never do.
BOMBARDMENT AND CIVILIANS
Yesterday’s issue of Breaking News Ireland carried a very unusual photo. It was unusual because it was taken during actual military action, whereas we normally only get photos of damaged buildings and occasionally Ukrainian military standing firm.
But the photo was more unusual than that because it showed Ukrainian soldiers running for cover after a Russian artillery strike, naturally enough but a less-than heroic image for public consumption. The caption tells us it’s in a civilian area in the Donetsk region.
WAIT A MINUTE! In a civilian area? So the Ukrainian military were in a civilian area and got fired on by Russian artillery? Doesn’t that coincide with what the Russians have been saying? Were those Ukrainian military perhaps even firing from that area? We don’t know.
We don’t know because we get hardly any western media coverage from the actual battlefronts, just quotations from the Ukrainian State and, from time to time, commentary from US/ NATO sources. And never any detail from the Russian side.
If we want a more realistic picture, we have to go to sources banned or at least not promoted in the West.
One of those sources is Patrick Lancaster, reporting on the war. In a recent video, he interviewed wounded civilians in a hospital in Izium, Kharkiv region, an area the Ukrainian military left a couple of days earlier and which is now under Russian military occupation.
So refreshing to watch.
Some interviewees blame the Russian State, some blame the Ukrainian State, some seem impartial or keep their own counsel – as one might expect, really, if one thought about it past the propaganda line, which is that everyone there — except the “Russian separatists” — blames the Russians.
And actually, the Breaking News article reported the reluctance of many to leave Sloviansk and Kramatorsk as they are being publicly encouraged to do by the Ukrainian Donetsk Governor, presumably as those areas are going to be pounded by artillery (but by Ukrainian or by Russian?)
This too is interesting, because even anti-Ukrainian State or pro-Russia interviewees (not always the same thing) interviewed by Patrick Lancaster in the Izium town, said that the Russian artillery had hit their town “very hard”.
But then some also stated that Marchenko, the pro-Ukrainian Mayor of the city had announced publicly that the city had been evacuated. All lies, according to one, “only five buses here …. and 50 taxis (but) from Kramatorsk.”
So if the advancing Russian military believed that only Ukrainian military remained in the city …..?
This is a military conflict and of course both sides are firing and, as well as soldiers, civilians are being inevitably killed on both sides. When that happens, is it likely that either side is killing civilians deliberately?
Certainly less likely by the Russians in the Donetsk area, which is a largely Russian-speaking region that has been attacked by Ukrainian right-wing military since that state’s abrupt change of government in 20142.
By the Ukrainian military side, probably more likely on the basis of the previous eight years, or at least of being more careless.
The article I’ve quoted showed a range of attitudes to the call of Pavlo Kyrylenko, Ukrainian State’s Governor of the Donetsk region, for civilians to leave and to head into Ukrainian State-held territory — and also of different attitudes to the forthcoming Russian occupation.
Some are going, including a teacher of Russian, which is interesting, because another doesn’t want to go precisely because of the anti-Russian-speakers attitude of the State (and even more so of some of the Ukrainian military).
Some just don’t want to give up their homes and/ or be jobless (or elderly without support) in Ukrainian State territory. Some think they’ll be ok under the Russians while others think they’ll be no better off on the Ukrainian State side.
So, naturally enough a mixed picture but certainly very different to the one being projected day in, day out by the western media. How this article and photo slipped through that blockade is certainly curious.
DOES IT MATTER?
But at the end of the day, does it really matter much to us here in Ireland whether we are being subjected to inaccurate propaganda about the conflict in Ukraine?
Well, if that conflict was sparked by the expansion towards Russia’s borders of the NATO military alliance3, then it does.
If that conflict is part of the shaping up by US/NATO for a war against Russia and China (and possibly India), then it certainly does. Not just because all of those on both sides are nuclear powers and radiation can end up anywhere.
But also because the ruling elite of the British colony in Ireland is part of NATO and the ruling class of the Gombeen state is trying to push it into NATO — or at least into an EU military alliance, which would of course soon enough line up with NATO.
I don’t believe either side in this conflict without proof and analysis. But I do resent the completely one-sided propaganda coming from the western media. Maybe it’s the same in Russia with their own propaganda.
Maybe, but isn’t it the boast of the West that their democracies are superior, with free speech and press?
And if the western media is following the same propaganda line in its reporting out of common interest with US/NATO and EU, is the end result any different from the media in Russia saying what they are told to say?
1Would that they would equally well inform us of those beling killed by the Saudi proxy war in the Sudan or by the numbers of migrants being killed on a regular basis as they try to access safety or just a better life in western states – the same states that are usually responsible for their plight in the first place.
2Yes, eight years prior to the Russian invasion. On the rare occasions when the western media refers to this (they did in the Breaking News Ireland article) it is always portrayed as a problem caused by “pro-Russian separatists” without recording that those areas were attacked as Russian-speaking by Ukrainian fascist and far-Right military units, including the Azov Battalion and the people organised themselves in defence, then received Russian supplies and now, eight years later, a Russian invasion. The origin of the Crimea situation is a similar story.
3For those who think this is a ridiculous claim, type “NATO states in Europe map” into a search engine. Also look up “Minsk Agreement”.
Many public figures have been condemning the content of a video live-streamed from an Orange Order Hall in which people were singing lyrics mocking the murder of an Irishwoman on her honeymoon in Mauritius.
There is nothing new I can add to the condemnations of this disgusting exhibition. But what a great many of the condemnations lack is context; i.e they treat this exhibition as though it were some aberration from the norm of Loyalism – it was not, it was exactly in line with and an expression of the backwardness, sectarianism, right-wing racism, homophobia and general phobia that is the very essence of Loyalism.
BACKGROUND OF LOYALISM AND THE ORANGE ORDER IN IRELAND
The planters and settlers that English1 colonialism installed on Irish soil were intended to control the indigenous population along with those “gone native” descendants of the Norman conquerors. A number of attempts were made to correct those Normans who had been ‘corrupted’ by the Irish and had become “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and one of the most infamous attempts through law, the Statutes of Killkenny in 13662 laid out a long list of behaviours expected of the “degenerate English”, mostly in terms of things they were to cease doing: in sum they were to cease integrating with the indigenous people in custom, language and law.
Outside of the Pale3, the cities, such attempts failed in the main and the next big effort was the Plantations. Using the failure of the Norman Irish and Gaelic lords to adapt to the Reformation, now an English state religion, their lands were confiscated and parcelled out to big landlords who then rented them out to smaller landlords and small-holders – and none of those were to be Irish. In fact, they were required to be English-speaking, Protestant in religion and to build their towns and important buildings as strongholds4. And not to even employ native Irish, in case these should corrupt the settlements from within.
The intentions of the Plantations were made quite clear and the settlers were, from the outset to be a means for a tiny minority of feudal and financier elites to control and exploit the vast majority indigenous population through the use of a middle stratum which was to be separate from and considered superior to natives in religion, culture, custom, landholding, legal rights – and allegiance.
These plantations met with mixed success – one of the problems being the scarcity of labour against a prohibition to employ the natives – but the problem of a conquered but not reconciled native majority remained, even after its cultural, legal, political and military leadership had been eliminated. And then a section of the settlers themselves, many descendants of Cromwellian conquerors and their supporters, began to have aspirations to control their own markets. They attempted to expand the Irish Parliament – then open only to adherents of the State religion, the Anglican communion — to include representation from the larger group of dissenting Protestant sects5 and of the huge majority of Irish Catholics.
The attempt, under the leadership of the moderate and ultimately Crown-loyal Henry Grattan failed, through a mixture of sectarianism, fear of being eventually dispossessed of their stolen lands – and outright Crown bribery. The most determined of the Protestant patriots then turned to revolution and led the United Irishmen in the uprisings of 1798 and 1803, with a credo of unity for an independent and republican Ireland, regardless of religion6.
CREATION OF THE ORANGE ORDER
But the British ruling elite saw which way the wind was blowing, foreboding its overthrow in Ireland if its garrison population joined with the majority and, as well as making military and spying preparations, the British took important ideological and social action.
Created in 1795 as what might be seen today as a kind of independent Ku Klux Klan organisation to keep down the ‘uppitty native niggers’7, the Orange Order quickly became (as the Klan did in some areas too) a police force on its own dissidents. And, as the Klan enjoyed the tacit support of the patrician Southern US elite, the Orange Order has been supported by the settler elite in Ireland from its inception. This was formalised with the Order’s central control over all previously independent lodges in 1798, the year of the first United Irish uprising.
After the defeat of the United Irish uprisings, the Order became an active persecutor of any sign of resistance not only among the native Irish majority, the Catholics but also – and in some areas chiefly – a hunting down of any signs of Protestant allegiance to the United Irish or other ‘suspect’ behavour such as tolerance of Catholics. Those Protestant followers of “Unitedism” that did not emigrate to the USA and Canada had to keep their heads down or face the consequences, as did Roddy McCorley, hanged on Toombridge in Co. Antrim on 28th February 1800.
REACTIONARY IN INSPIRATION AND TRADITION
The Orange Order drew its colour and other visual paraphernalia in association with William of Orange (1650 – 1702), who was crowned King William III by the British Parliament, the forces of which, along with his own Dutch ones, he led in the British civil war against those of King James II of England and the latter’s Irish and French allies. Orange was the colour of the Dutch royal family of Orange-Nasseau and therefore of the royalist party in Holland, in opposition to the republican party there8.
Following his defeat of the Jacobite forces in Ireland William III brought in the Penal Laws, the body of Anglican supremacy and anti-Catholic legislation which were to survive in greater or lesser form from 1695 to 1829.
Loyalists celebrate annually with sectarian triumphalist parades in the Six Counties the victory of the Williamite forces at the Battle of the Boyne on July 12th 16909. Loyalists imagine the Boyne victory was of the Protestant religion over Catholic “Papism”, unaware that the victory was celebrated by special mass in the Vatican and in some other Catholic cities. The Jacobite war in Ireland was part of the Nine Years’ War in Europe and forces of Protestant principalities and kingdoms could be found on either side, as could those of Catholic persuasion.
Their unequivocal message to their non-unionist neighbours is “This is our place, not yours. If you want to live here, accept what we give you and keep your heads down.” This fostered sectarianism has penetrated even trade unions, ensuring that wages and social conditions in the Six Counties have been the worst in the whole of the UK.
WHY THE LOYALIST MOCKERY OF THIS MURDER?
The video which directed such recent public attention on the behaviour of some Loyalists was of a song sung communally in which the lyrics mocked the murder of Michaela McAreavey who apparently surprised a thief in her Mauritius hotel room on 11th May. Probably not a single person celebrating that murder knew the woman or had any reason to hate her for anything she had done. What they knew was that she was the daughter of Micky Harte and that he was the manager of the Tyrone County Gaelic Football team10. Gaelic football11 is an Irish traditional sport and, since Loyalists eschew anything knowingly Gaelic, Harte is also probably of Catholic background; therefore almost certainly would have been his daughter Michaela too. Incredible though it may seem to many, that was enough to inspire that outpouring of hatred – a hatred that is always and has always been there in Loyalism.
It seems clear that the song, the lyrics with which much of the audience in the video seem familiar, was sung in the Orange Hall in Dundonald12, Co. Down which, like Tyrone, is one of the Six Counties currently forming the British colony in Ireland.
According to media reports, “a spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland criticised the video and also confirmed that an investigation would now take place.“The video currently circulating on social media relating to the murder of Michaela McAreavey is utterly abhorrent and the Orange Institution condemns the content without reservation,” a statement read.“The behaviour of those involved and their actions have no place in our society and certainly do not reflect the ethos of our organisation.”
On the contrary, as people who live in or near areas where the Orange Order holds sway will know, the behaviour exactly “reflects the ethos of the organisation” and of the general ideology of Loyalism.
The central ideology of the Orange Order has always been not only a phobic hatred of Catholics but also of anything that might smell of egalitarianism, equality or progressive social ideas. It and its adherents for generations have held triumphalist sectarian marches deliberately routed to march through predominantly Catholic residential areas and past Catholic churches, these marches escorted by the sectarian colonial gendarmerie13, often forced through against local opposition.
For decades, the Orange Order and Loyalism in general opposed equal treatment and civil rights for Catholics in terms of employment, housing, franchise, education and law. That breeding ground gave rise to the Loyalist terror murder squads, operating for decades in conjunction with colonial police and British Army14.
True to its reactionary origins, the Orange Order and Loyalism in general have a strong emotional attachment to British Royalty and to an ethos of British Empire and colonialism. But Loyalism has also opposed all progressive social innovations and legislation, even those emanating from its supposedly ideological homeland, the rest of the UK and, in many cases delayed its implementation in the colony for years15.
Loyalism has been a sectarian influence in the game of soccer not only in Ireland but in Britain, with a triple alliance of sectarianism and racism between fans of football clubs Linfield, Rangers and Chelsea.16 The racism and reactionary ideology of “Hillbillies17” in the USA are also attributed to origins in Irish Loyalism.
Loyalism has also been characterised by racist attitudes and attacks on ethnic minorities in parts of the Six Counties independently of religion. Loyalism lines up to oppose anything they feel that is supported by the hated “taigues” or “Fenians” (their codewords for Catholics), for e.g Palestinians, Basque nationalists, inquiries into killings by the British Army ….
Despite the scrambling of Unionism – the Orange Order, politicians, Linfield FC management — to disassociate itself from the disgusting exhibition of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic hatred expressed in their ‘humorous’ mocking of the murder of a young woman, the song and video were a completely cogent expression of Loyalism, the social prop of Unionism. They were a true reflection of the history and underlying ethos of the Orange Order and of the sectarian statelet created by the British ruling class as a garrison and permanent foothold in Ireland.
1Later one can talk of British colonialism and imperialism but in the beginning it was the English feudal and financier classes that set out to conquer their neighbours in Britain and across the sea in Ireland. The Crown was always primarily the English Crown, even when it became also formally that of Scotland and, later, of Ireland.
2i.e not even two centuries after the Norman invasion in 1169.
3The area of administration of the occupation, originally a fortified area with Dublin Castle at its centre.
4One can still see the pattern of settler towns with the buildings constructed around a square or “diamond” becoming easily converted into the walls of a fort, the main roads leading in and out fairly easily barricaded even with carts and waggons. Native Irish towns had no such construction, often running along a street or gathered around a crossroads, river bank, port etc.
5In particular the Presbyterians but also Methodists, Unitarians, “Quakers” (Society of Friends) and others.
6The unity of “Protestant (i.e Anglican), Catholic and Dissenter”.
7“Uppitty niggers” was a racist white term in the USA to describe Americans of African descent who were unwilling to be treated as second-class citizens or even worse. For such people to become thought of as “uppitty” frequently meant a range of punishments that included beating, jail and lynching. The Ku Klux Klan is a white Protestant supremacist and extremely right-wing organisation in the USA, formed after the defeat of the Confederacy and understood as having three distinct phases, the last one being also current. Despite a history of using extreme violence, it is not banned in the USA.
10 Mickey Harte (born 1952) is a Gaelic football manager from County Tyrone, Ireland who currently manages the Louth county team, having managed the Tyrone county team from 2002 and, at his resignation in 2020, was the longest-serving manager then active with the same team in inter-county competition.
11Gaelic football is one of four traditional sports regulated by the Gaelic Athletic Association/ Cumann Lúthchleas na hÉireann, with 2,200 clubs spread over all of Ireland and, with high community involvement is the largest amateur sporting association in the world
13Armed police force, formerly the Royal Irish Constabulary, later the Royal Ulster Constabulary, currently “Police Force of Northern Ireland.”
14See for example Lethal Allies – British collusion in Ireland (2013) by Anne Cadwaller. Loyalists killed the most people in one day during the 30 years’ war with the Dublin & Monaghan Bombings, 17 May 1974. Despite their self-promotion as fighters against the IRA, nearly all of their victims have been unarmed civilians, often randomly-chosen in Catholic residential areas.
15For example, the 1967 Sexual Offences Act only applied to England and Wales – it was resisted in Scotland and the Six Counties colony. Decriminalisation reached Scotland in 1980 and, after a complaint to the European Court of Justice and a judgement against the statelet in 1981, homosexuality in private was finally decriminalised in the Six Counties the following year – 15 years after its original decriminalisation in England. Similarly with lesbian and gay rights to civil marriage, introduced in England and Wales in 2013; in Scotland in 2014 but couples in the Six Counties had to wait until 2020, seven years after its introduction in England.
16Linfield FC is based in south Belfast in the British colony, Rangers FC in Glasgow and Chelsea FC in SW London. But there are also sectarian divisions among fans such as those of Rangers/ Celtic to be found also in Edinburgh between and Hibernian and Hearts (Midlothian) clubs and even between Everton and Liverpool as well as Manchester City and Manchester United.
17As in “Billies”, i.e followers of King Billy (William of Orange) who are living in the hills.
In an article by Virginia Harrison on May 16th, in a context of praising the resistance of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol and in which she stated that the Azov Regiment had in the past (italics mine) had “nationalist far-right affiliations” (as distinct from fascist), she went on to state the following: “The regiment …………….. was a militia formed to fight the Russians after the invasion of Ukraine in 2014 but has become a unit of the Ukrainian national guard.”
Apart from failing to inform readers when and how the Azov allegedly dropped their “far-right affiliations”, the Guardian journalist is claiming the unit was formed to resist a Russian “invasion of Ukraine in 2014”!
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
Russia invaded Ukraine early this year, 2022. The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine began in 2014, i.e eight years before the Russian invasion. Prior to the time of the Russian invasion in early 2022, over 14,000 people had already been killed in the conflict.
It was not Russia that began that conflict but the Ukrainian far-Right and fascist forces supported by a section of the Ukrainian oligarchy after it had overthrown another section in the “Maidan Revolution” (sic) in February 2014. Those forces began to impose a fascist and racist agenda, attacking LGBT people, left trade unionists, Roma, Greek Russian minorities and Russian-speakers in general. The new Ukrainian Government also removed any official status or support for Russian – even as a regional language — although the language is spoken by 29.5% of the population, or approximately one for every two speakers of Ukrainian1.
In response to the official and unofficial attacks of the Ukrainian Right, the residents of the Crimea held a referendum on 16th February 2014 in which 90% voted for secession and for incorporation into Russia, which in turn formally annexed the Crimea two days later on the 18th.
At the same time, Russian-speakers began to organise themselves for defence in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, heavily industrialised regions also known collectively as the Donbas. For eight years before the Russian invasion, Ukrainian government forces including in particular the fascist Azov Battalion, now incorporated into the Ukranian National Guard attacked the Russian-speakers who, in the course of this declared their intention to secede from the Ukraine and asked for support from Russia. A number of fierce battles in 2014-2015 ended with one third of the regions’ territory, its most urbanised part, occupied by two statelets calling themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
During this period Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany signed several versions of the Minsk agreements, which eventually stopped troop advances and reduced fighting significantly. But the Ukraine government never implemented the agreements and the governments of France and Germany failed to push for implementation from the new NATO-supported Ukrainian government.
The fighting became a trench war, with roughly 75,000 troops facing each other off along a 420-km-long front line cutting through densely populated areas. The territory became one of the world’s most landmine-contaminated areas, its heavy industry and economy ruined, destroyed many houses and public buildings and infrastructure and caused the relocation of millions. All of which occurred before any Russian invasion.
WHAT THE GUARDIAN PRETENDS
The newspaper, while asking us to “Support the Guardian”, stated:
“The truth, they say, is the first casualty of war. With correspondents on the ground in Ukraine covering the war, as well as throughout the world, the Guardian is well placed to provide the honest, factual reporting that readers will need to understand this perilous moment for Europe, the former Soviet Union and the entire world. Free from commercial or political influence, we can report fearlessly on global events and challenge those in power.
“We believe everyone deserves equal access to accurate news. Support from our readers enables us to keep our journalism open and free for everyone, including in Russia and Ukraine.
“Support the Guardian from as little as €1 – it only takes a minute. Thank you.”
In its mission statement, The Guardian continues:
“Of course, in a serious age, the appetite for thoughtful, clever features beyond the news is possibly greater than ever. Our readers want to be nourished – by meaningful journalism about technology, economics, science, the arts – not fattened up with junk. They want useful, enjoyable reporting on how we live now, spotting trends, catching the mood, understanding what people are talking about – life-affirming, inspiring, challenging. We can be fun, and we must be funny, but it must always have a point, laughing with our audience, never at them. Their attention is not a commodity to be exploited and sold. ……………………
“We will give people the facts, because they want and need information they can trust, and we will stick to the facts. We will find things out, reveal new information and challenge the powerful. This is the foundation of what we do. As trust in the media declines in a combustible political moment, people around the world come to the Guardian in greater numbers than ever before, because they know us to be rigorous and fair. If we once emphasised the revolutionary idea that “comment is free”, today our priority is to ensure that “facts are sacred”. Our ownership structure means we are entirely independent and free from political and commercial influence. Only our values will determine the stories we choose to cover – relentlessly and courageously.”2
Great words, Katherine Viner, Editor-in-Chief – a pity that despite some good journalists on the staff and as correspondents, the Guardian regularly falls short of its own proclaimed ideals. Falsifying history, biased war reporting and obscuring fascist affiliations hardly matches your high moral tone.
12001 Census, quoted in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Ukraine Also from the same source: “An August 2011 poll by Razumkov Centre showed that 53.3% of the respondents use the Ukrainian language in everyday life, while 44.5% use Russian. In a May 2012 poll by RATING, 50% of respondents considered Ukrainian their native language, 29% Russian, 20% consider both Ukrainian and Russian their mother tongue and 1% considered a different language their native language.”
2Katherine Viner, November 2017: “In a turbulent era, the media must define its values and principles” etc.