GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER?

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time main text: 2 minutes)

Garda Armed Support Unit patrol car, one of a great many seen driving around many parts of Dublin including the city centre.
(Image source: Internet)

Last year, a Garda shot dead a man sitting inside a car who was harming himself with a Stanley knife.  In June 2019 the Department of Public Prosecution decided not to even charge the Garda who fired the shot.  What does this mean?

Since the evidence from witnesses (including his own colleagues) is that Garda A fired a deliberate shot at close range that killed Mark Hennessy through a closed window and that the man was not at that moment posing a threat to anyone (apart from himself), never mind a lethal one — how can we view this as anything but an on-the-spot execution by a Garda?  Since we are told that Gardaí are not authorised to carry out executions (and the State has abolished the death penalty), what can this be but MURDER?

It is useful to remember too that the founders of the Irish State deliberately resolved to set up the Garda Síochána as an primarily unarmed police force (in direct opposition to the armed colonial police forces that had suppressed Irish people in the past and continued to do so in the Six occupied Counties).

Not even charged?  For the moment, we need to forget about the fact that all the evidence points to the victim having murdered a child and hidden her body.  Killing the man could not bring her back (in fact might even have prevented her body being found but luckily the location was written on a piece of paper inside the car).

How can this killing be justified?  What possible legal reason can be given?  Dubious though it may be, the Gardaí who shot Mac Lochlainn (see below) at least claimed he had pointed a gun at them (interestingly, the officer who fired the fatal shot was himself killed a few years later in what was described as a firearm accident involving a colleague).  Well, in fact, in the Mark Hennessy killing NO REASON WHATSOEVER WAS GIVEN.  The DPP just “decided not to prosecute”.

Garda of the Armed Response Unit with machine gun.
(Image source: Internet)

If a Gardaí can decide when someone needs to die and act upon that decision, anyone might be a victim in future: political activist, whistleblower, personal enemy, mistaken identity ….

Unlikely?  Why?

There have been a number of questionable killings by Gardaí, including the shooting dead of Real IRA Volunteer Ronan Mac Lochlainn on May 1st 1988.  Mac Lochlainn was driving away from a Garda Special Branch ambush of a robbery team when he was shot dead by the Gardaí.  The matter was not seriously investigated until 20 years later when the investigators decided for whatever reason to clear all the Gardaí involved, leaving many important questions unanswered.

Another incident that might have ended fatally occurred in 2005 between two drunken senior Gardai who got into a fight and pulled guns on one another!  A personal quarrell ….

Armed Gardaí Detectives after a raid.
(Image source: Internet)

One can see on any day in Dublin the vehicles of the Garda Armed Response Unit driving around the city.  Nor do they restrict themselves to the duties for which one might imagine Gardaí would need to carry arms.  They have been seen stopping cars in traffic incidents, driving through busy streets, surveilling political demonstrations and even on one occasion last year stopping to caution people demonstrating against internment in Temple Bar.

In 2014 they turned up at a protest against Irish Water in Clonmell.  On another occasion last year they turned up to dispute between a private landlord and two of his tenants in Dublin and at a separate housing occupation action in Cork.  Last year also they attended a farmers’ protest in Limerick.

Is the Irish public being subjected to an armed Gardaí normalisation process? Why are the DPP not being made to justify their decisions not to prosecute Garda perpetrators of homicide?  How long before another unjustifiable killing?

end.

REFERENCES:

Inquest on Mark Hennessy: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/man-who-killed-jastine-valdez-shrugged-before-being-shot-by-garda%C3%AD-inquest-told-1.4147055

Decision not to charge Garda: https://www.rte.ie/news/ireland/2019/0605/1053612-garda-hennessy/

Shooting dead of IRA Volunteer by Gardaí in ambush: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/garda%C3%AD-exonerated-over-shooting-dead-of-real-ira-raider-maclochlainn-1.3738624

Senior Gardaí in brawl pulled guns on one another: https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/gardai-sacked-after-drunken-embassy-brawl-287170.html

Heckler & Koch machine-gun dropped out of Garda car: https://www.thesun.ie/news/4138462/garda-gsoc-machine-gun-lost-dublin/

Armed police attending farmers’ protest: https://www.farmersjournal.ie/garda-armed-response-unit-attends-limerick-factory-protest-484362

Armed police attending protest against Irish Water: http://www.rabble.ie/2014/11/10/stark-contrasts-in-protest-policing-by-gardai/

Armed police attending housing occupation action: https://cym.ie/2018/07/26/armed-response-unit-break-up-political-protest-in-cork-ireland/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garda_S%C3%ADoch%C3%A1na#Armed_Gardaí

DIMINISHING FAR-RIGHT DEMONSTRATORS BEG GARDA PROTECTION

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 5 minutes) )

After weeks of propaganda and whipping up their support, a much-reduced turnout of the Irish far-Right lined up in front of Leinster House on Saturday 1st February and were confronted by an anti-fascist, anti-racist opposition a little smaller in size but which had been convened by word of mouth alone. There were some scuffles and a couple of arrests and the far-Rightists begged for a Garda escort to leave their protest after little more than one hour.

Confronting one another across Kildare St, far-Right and anti-fascists, seen from a little distance (Photo: D.Breatnach)

“FREE SPEECH”?

          The far-Rightists had called the demonstration allegedly in defence of “free speech”, protesting legislation proposed recently by Fine Gael against “hate speech”. Apart from the fact that the detail of the legislation has not been published yet, most on the non-institutional Left in Ireland and perhaps especially Irish Republicans, would be extremely wary of such widely-framed legislation, known to have been used in other administrations primarily against people denouncing the police, political parties, politicians and even royalty.

However, most Republicans and the non-institutional Left would not agree with the “right to free speech” which the far-Right is seeking, which is the “right” to spout virulent and lying material in the course of their racism, islamophobia, LBGTphobia, attacks on women seeking pregnancy termination or campaigning for the right to choose. In fact, we can trace the public start of the far-Right concern with “free speech” in Ireland to July 2019 when Gemma O’Doherty had her Youtube account suspended and then closed by Google, due to complaints that her racist rants were violating Google’s own standards. A similar case occurred in January in Spain when the relatively new far-Right Spanish party Vox had their Twitter account suspended, after they had accused a municipal education program on equality of “using public funds to promote paedophilia”. (see also FAR RIGHT CHANTS OF “PAEDOS” below for more on this issue).

The far-Right demonstrators with Leinster House in the background.  They fly a lot of Tricolour flags in an attempt to convey themselves as ‘patriotic’.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

Even thinking about the issue for a few seconds will make it clear that there is not and never has been an unfettered right to say whatever one wants in public. Long before there were modern laws against defamation of an individual based on lies, it was forbidden by the Brehon laws (the oldest surviving codified legal system in Europe) which laid down punishment for the offence. Judaic and Christian traditions have it forbidden in the Ten Commandments as have those of many other cultures. The issue is not that all speech should be free but what kind of discourse should be permitted and which should not. And it is precisely that racist discourse, LBGTphobia, Islamophobia and attacks on the rights of women that the Republicans and non-institutional Left oppose, partly for its own sake and partly because it is along those lines that fascism seeks to build itself and split the working people in order to come to rule — in a dictatorship that will soon ban any criticism whatsoever of those in power.

Some confused or misguided Asian anti-blasphemy laws protesters among the far-Rightists, despite the common anti-migration and racist discourse of the far-Right.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

FAR-RIGHT CHANTS OF “PAEDOS”

          Among the exchange of insults between both sides, at one point the far-Rightists were heard to chant “paedos” at their opposition. The word is an abbreviation of the word “paedophiles”, which describes people who sexually abuse children for their own twisted gratification.

Imagine if some of these far-Rightists were in one’s neighbourhood and began to accuse an anti-fascist of being a paedophile! This is one of the ways in which they abuse any right to free speech.

But in any case, what is the basis for this chant? Do they really believe that their opponents are all paedophiles? No, like the Spanish far-Right party Vox referred to earlier, they count LGBT people as equal to paedophiles, i.e people who sexually abuse children. That is how sick their thinking is. Nor do they believe that all their opponents are LGBT themselves but according to the far-Right, the fact that we uphold the right of people to decide their own sexuality and for consenting adults to choose their relationships, makes us the equivalent of those who sexually abuse children!

View of the anti-fascist, anti-racist demonstrators, at the Molesworth St. intersection, viewed northward down Kildare St. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

SURGE, SCUFFLES AND ARRESTS

          At one point, a surge developed among the anti-fascists towards the south of their numbers and the general Gardaí and Public Order unit (the Gardaí are the police force of the Irish state) charged the anti-fascists with batons drawn, with which they struck a number of antifascists. A man reported to be a fascist, on the steps outside a building on the same side of the street as the antifascists, was seen lashing out downwards, presumably at antifascists, with a pair of crutches. At that point the Gardaí restrained him and later it seems arrested him but apparently they had already arrested an anti-fascist. Most of the police dived at the anti-fascists during this brief episode and a few activists were rescued from police hands. However, a fascist who crossed the road from the Leinster House side with a stick, who took a number of swings at anti-fascists, was escorted back across the road by Gardaí, apparently without any attempt to arrest him.

The man seeing striking out at anti-fascists with crutches before being restrained by Gardaí. An antifascist was arrested during this incident.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

The far-Right rally had been scheduled for 1.00pm and at 2.15 pm they left, having begged the Gardaí for an escort, with which they were provided. Meanwhile, the riot police prevented the anti-fascists from following them.

However, a brief encounter on the quays a little later between small numbers of both groups necessitated the Gardaí once again to protect these “nationalist” warriors.

Yellow Vest Ireland fuhrer Glen Miller seeking escort from senior Garda officer.
(Photo source: antifascist participant)

DIMINISHING AND DESERTED BY LEADERS?

          Those who fancy themselves as the public leaders of the motley crew of the far-Rightists left their acolytes deserted, for apart from Yellow Vest leader and islamophobe Glen Miller, they did not attend. Neither Gemma O’Doherty nor Justin Barrett were to be seen there and the ex-British Army soldier Rowan Croft made only a brief appearance before vanishing.

As mentioned earlier, although extensively publicised in advance, the numbers of the far-Right were significantly down on previous events outside Leinster House, which may point to a limited reservoir of activists in the far-Right in Ireland, also to some inability to sustain an extended program of public events (after all, keyboard activism has been their main activity until recently).

On the other hand, their opponents, using personal contact only to mobilise from among Irish Republicans, Socialists, Anarchists and general Anti-Fascists of different organisations and none, were able to put together a counter-demonstration of a size approaching that of the far-Rightists.

However, it would be unwise to relax. The far-Right is on the rise across most of Europe; the capitalist system world-wide is heading for crisis and at such times turns to fascism to force the working people to pay for the crisis through austerity. In addition, in Ireland we are already in part of an austerity program with the bank bailout draining our taxes, our health service in crisis and no public housing program to counter spiraling homelessness and mortgage debt.

The Gombeens and foreign capitalists who feed on our sweat and blood will hesitate before taking on the working people in this country in an open fight. But with fascists and racists splitting the working people and diverting them from the cause of our woes, that would be a different matter. Continuing vigilance is required, along with mobilisation to counter their public events. But also, education of the people and giving genuine leadership in fighting for a decent life for working people of all ethnic backgrounds in Ireland.

End.

Cropped photo D.Breatnach)

USEFUL LINKS & SOURCES:

Dublin Republicans Against Fascism: https://www.facebook.com/Dublin-Republicans-Against-Fascism-104013457786981/

Anti-Fascist Action Ireland (they published a report from which I took some of the information here, the rest being based on my observation): https://www.facebook.com/afaireland/?

DEAR MR. FLANAGAN

Diarmuid Breatnach

Mr. Charlie Flanagan (Photo sourced: Internet)

Dear Mr. Flanagan,

I write to say how much I admired your attempt to have the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police honoured in Ireland. It was never going to be easy to propose such a ceremony in a country that was occupied by les Anglais for nearly eight centuries and a part of which it is still occupying. But you did not flinch! It took real courage and I empathise with you on its failure (temporary, I hope).

Royal Irish Constabulary assisting landlord in relocation of a tenant in Co. Clare.
(Photo sourcede: Internet)

          Perhaps it was a little too soon. But as you know, I’m sure, once the unthinkable has been proposed, it is no longer unthinkable; then some day ….

It must be particularly galling for you to see the response of the “swinish multitude”, as your own orator Edmund Burke would have had it, result in the pushing into No.1 slot in the ITunes charts of that odious song of Dominic Behan’s, performed by that rabble-rousing folk group, the Wolfe Tones. To see that disgusting song enter the current Irish charts at No.33 –- and from there reach the No.1 played in the British and Irish charts! But go straight to No.1 in Scotland!  Not to mention doing well in the USA and in Canada …..

How hurtful also to see the proliferation of mocking cartoons, videos and memes (all over social media, it seems). And coming up to the anniversary of the introduction of that great band of public servants, too: the RIC Special Reserve and the Auxiliaries.

But as I said earlier, it took courage to attempt what you did – something lacking in your silent partners in government, Fianna Fáil, who remained silent until they could see how the public wind would blow. Someone could get hurt in the rush to disassociate! It is the fate of courageous individuals such as yourself, if I may borrow a phrase from a popular science fiction series, “to boldly go where no-one has gone before.” Even if it looks like no-one follows.

Crowd gathering around gallant RIC Inspector felled by a hurley stick in Dublin 1917.
(Photo sourcede: Internet)

Would that we had men of your calibre here in France! The legitimacy of the Vichy Government (1940-1945) was denied by Free France during WWII and by all subsequent French governments after that. They maintained that the Vichy government was an illegal one run by traitors – hard to believe, I know but look it up on Wikipedia! A group of us have been trying to get German soldiers and the Vichy police honoured for some time now but can we find even one politician of any stature who would risk his reputation in the attempt? No, we seem to have no Monsieur Flanagans here in France, c’est dommage!

We have a network of people with similar interests in a number of other countries, including Russia, Poland, Vietnam and Algeria – you may smile when you see the network’s acronym: RIC! Of course the letters stand for other words in our case: Rehabilitation of Invader Collaborators. Whether it was the Russians or Poles who aided the German invaders, or the Algerians who aided our French occupation or the Vietnamese who aided the US invaders, they all have something in common: they did a difficult job, hated by most of their compatriots.

Bandying around words like “concentration camps”, “torture”, “massacres”, “rape” and “executions” does not conceal the truth that ultimately these men (and women, it must be said) were obeying orders. Some of those words I hear have been bandied around about the RIC and DMP too, including those of “spies”, “informers”, “shoneens” and “Castle Catholics”. One must admit that the Irish have a capacity for les bon mots, however one might disdain what they mean – while not mincing words they certainly know how to weave them, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors.

Perhaps some day when you can be spared from your Ministerial duties (or when you have retired, far away be the day!), you could come and address the annual general meeting of our RIC – it would be a great honour for us.

DMP teaching people respect for the law, Dublin 31 August 1913. Note some agitators are continuing to cause trouble even lying down.
(Photo sourced: Internet)

When, some day in the future, the Irish public recognises how deserving the RIC and DMP are of State honouring, the logical consequence will be of course to honour the Black and Tans and the Auxilliaries, who were sent specifically by Churchill to work in support of – and closely with – those two bodies of fine men. And once that has been accepted it should not be difficult to have the successors of the RIC in Northern Ireland honoured too: the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the B-Specials. Of course, there will be some die-hards who will mutter “sectarianism”, “brutality” and “Loyalist murder gang collusion” but one can never quite get rid of those bitter people, can one? God knows, the English tried!

Speaking of bitter words, I hear some Irish people are saying that as Minister for Justice, rather than honouring “traitors” and “murderers” (sic) you should be pursuing the English to disclose their secret papers regarding the murder of 33 people in the Dublin and Monaghan Bombing by alleged British agents in 1974. How unkind! Some people just can’t forget and move on, can they? Do they not realise that those bombers, whoever they were, were just obeying orders too?

And even bitterer! Some have been heard to say that if Michael Collins were alive he’d have had you shot, given that he had enough RIC, ‘Tans and Auxiliaries shot himself. One can understand some bitterness but that is really nasty, given that Collins can be said to be one of the founders of your own party. And who can truthfully say what Collins would or would not have done? He certainly surprised a lot of Republicans in 1922 when he borrowed British cannon to open fire on Republican positions in Dublin!

When the day comes in the future for Irish rehabilitation for those noble collaborators of foreign occupation, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police, then hopefully the Blueshirts, that fine body of men, co-founders of your own party Fine Gael, can be rehabilitated too. And who knows, some day even reconstituted and formally brought into government? It is not beyond the bounds of possibility, even though the sympathisers of those kinds of politics are very few at the moment ….

And then there’s the man they called “Lord Haw Haw”, William Joyce, of similar ideology — was he not an Irishman also? Did he not carry out his orders too? Of course, that might not go down too well with les Anglais due to his broadcasts in English from Nazi Germanyeven though he was an informer against the IRA for the British during the War of Independence. Or perhaps precisely because of it: the English can never quite forgive one they consider theirs, once he turns against them, can they? One must be careful sometimes – after all, les Anglais still have quite some influence in the world, especially in your own country, n’est ce pas?

En tous cas, courage, mon brave!

In admiration, your servant

Pierre Laval De Quisline.

APPEAL TO ACT IN SELF-RESPECT – an open letter

Diarmuid Breatnach

Friends and Comrades, self-respecting people of all organisations and none, Irish or migrants, who understand what it is to resist colonialism and imperialism and exploitation of labour: this is an appeal to act in defence of our self-respect.

As you must all be aware by now, the current Government of the Irish State plans to hold an event honouring the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police in Dublin on the 17th of this month. Some at least are probably already considering how to react to this shameful event; I hope you are and if so, that you will give my suggestions some consideration. If you have not yet decided to respond to this event then I hope all the more that you will consider what I have to say.

The need to protest this event in a large and unified way is great. It is a matter of our self-respect as a nation, as a colonised people (and colonised peoples) that never ceased resisting, as workers, as trade unionists, as Irish Republicans and all varieties of the Left in Ireland.

The RIC and the DMP were not only the eyes and ears of the English colonist regime but also its first rank arm of repression after the British Army; they were the enforcement bodies of the landlords and bosses.

RIC still on site after assisting an eviction — see the battering ram that was used by the bailiffs to demolish much of the wall. (Photo source: Internet)

ROYAL IRISH CONSTABULARY

          Formed in 1822, the armed nationwide Irish Constabulary got the “Royal” appellation from Victoria, the Famine Queen herself, in recognition of that organisation’s role in the suppression of the Fenian uprising of 1867. During the evictions of poor peasants and agricultural labourers from their lowly cottages and huts, the RIC attended every one, having become the FIRST RANK force of repression in Ireland, the Army being relegated to their backup should it be required. The RIC was the ever-present force of repression during the Tithes War, the Great Hunger and the Land War and was the main force responsible for the suppression of the Young Irelanders in 1848. On 5th May 1882 in Ballina, Co. Mayo, there were children among the slain when the RIC opened fire on a demonstration celebrating the release of the Land League leader prisoners.

RIC constables assisting eviction of Thomas Considine and family, Moyasta, Co. Clare 1767.
(Source photo: Internet)

During the 1916 Rising, the RIC again played its part in repression of the resistance movement, particularly outside Dublin and it was they who attacked the Kent house in Cork, killing one son and arresting two others, including Thomas Kent which the British colonial regime executed, being one of the Sixteen the British killed in reprisal for the Rising. The RIC was the principal organisation supplying the names of non-participants in the Rising to be arrested and interned in jails and concentration camps in Britain.

After the Rising, the RIC continued one of its main roles as the eyes and ears of the British occupation in Ireland, collecting information on anyone who sang patriotic songs, spoke for independence or against the landlords, joined an Irish cultural organisation, agitated for women’s suffrage, organised a trade union branch ….

It was largely due to this role that the armed Republican forces made the RIC its first target in the War of Independence and in fact, the very first shots of that war were fired at the RIC in Soloheadbeg, killing two of them – this very month, 21st January 1919, 101 years ago and only four days after the date upon which this quisling State plans to honour that force.

RIC assisting bailiffs carrying out an eviction. The defenders have blocked the door with thorn brush and are throwing hot water out on their attackers.
(Source photo: Internet)

When the “Black and Tans” and “Auxiliaries”, the RIC Special Reserve and the RIC Auxiliary Division to give them their official titles, were dispatched in March 1920 at Churchill’s initiative to terrorise and murder Irish people, outside Dublin they became part of the of the RIC and from then on, the existing RIC became responsible not only for its prior crimes but for those of the ‘Tans and Auxies too, such as the many murders, including those of the Mayors of Cork and Limerick; the torture of suspects and violation of women; the burning of farmhouses and cooperatives and even of villages and towns: Tuam, Trim, Balbriggan, Knockcroghery, Thurles and Cork – among others.

In 1922, while the RIC ceased to exist in the ‘Free State’, they became the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the Six Counties, with their even-more murderous reserve, the B-Specials. The B-Specials were incorporated into the Ulster Defence Regiment in 1970 and the RUC was renamed the PSNI (Police Force of Northern Ireland) in 2001. Both organisations have been active in carrying out or in collusion with sectarian murders, acting as members or in collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries and under British intelligence operatives.

Bailiffs using battering ram to gain entry to evict a family in Ireland. The RIC are present to protect the bailiffs. (Photo source: Internet)
RIC King Street barracks after attack during War of Independence.
(Photo source: Internet)

DUBLIN METROPOLITAN POLICE

          The DMP was the colonial police force specifically responsible for controlling Dublin, the capital city of the colony. During the 1913 Lockout it showed itself capable of serving Irish capitalists, whether native or of colonist background, without discrimination. Indeed the leader of the Dublin 400 capitalists out to break the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, was an Irish nationalist, Catholic and owner of The Irish Independent: William Martin Murphy.

Apart from any others this force of tall thugs may have killed or fatally injured with beatings in their cells, the DMP killed a number of workers during the eight months of the struggle, raided houses and sent many to jail. Two workers, James Nolan and John Burke, died of their injuries within days of the DMP’s baton charge on a street meeting in Eden Quay just by Liberty Hall on 30th August 1913. The following day, in what became known as Bloody Sunday Dublin 1913, the DMP was in action again on O’Connell Street and in Princes Street, mercilessly beating people there (including those already knocked down), during which they knocked unconscious Patsy O’Connor, a young Fianna boy of 16 giving first aid to one of the wounded. Patsy died two years later from his injuries at the age of 18.

The DMP in action on O’Connell St on Bloody Sunday 1913, the second day of police riots in Dublin, early during the Lockout.
(Photo source: Internet)

In a rage at the defence by the residents of Corporation Flats of people fleeing the police charge on Eden Quay, the DMP returned there on the 31st, leaving hardly a door or stick of furniture unbroken or person unbeaten, including women and children.

The special political secret police in Dublin were the G Division of the DMP, spying and compiling files on active nationalists, republicans, socialists, suffragettes, Irish speakers, pacifists. After the Surrender of the 1916 Rising, it was they who came among the prisoners to identify them for the British Army, leading to many receiving death and jail sentences. During the 1916 Rising it appears that three DMP officers were killed by the Irish Citizen Army – while many hid in their cells.

Arrest of Jim Larkin by DMP, shortly before the rest of the DMP present attacked supporters and onlookers.
(Photo source: Internet)

During the War of Independence, the DMP G Division spied on and targeted Irish Republicans and other dissident groups. The Irish Republican Army of course targeted this force and killed a number of them. On the day when the IRA mobilised in Dublin to eliminate the special British Army counterinsurgency intelligence network, the DMP and the Auxiliaries seconded to them had already murdered Conor Clune and Volunteers Peadar Clancy and Dick McKee in Dublin Castle.

Later that day, the DMP and RIC went down to attack the GAA and murdered 14 unarmed people, including two players on the field, also injuring 60-70 people.

Aftermath of DMP baton attack on Sinn Féin public meeting in front of ruins of Liberty Hall to arrest Cathal Brugha and George Snr. Plunkett. Inspector John Mills was struck on the head by a hurley and died later in Jervis St. Hospital. His assailant was a member of Na Fianna and he was never apprehended. Mills was the first DMP officer killed after 1916 and the blow was probably not intended to be fatal. A number were shot with intention to kill during the War of Independence.
(Photo source: Internet)

AN ADEQUATE PUBLIC RESPONSE IS NECESSARY

          It is not only appropriate but absolutely necessary, as a matter of self-respect, that we mobilise a public opposition to this disgusting honouring of the spies on our people and the murderers of our martyrs.

There are many ways that this can be done but I would humbly suggest that two in particular are necessary:

  1. A mass public demonstration near the day of the ceremony (or at least near it) and near Dublin Castle (where the event is to be held);

  2. An electronic petition something along the lines of “Self-Respect: Against honouring colonial spies and murderers of our martyrs”.

          Although our people have achieved a number of successes in struggle over the years, we have often failed too. In particular we failed to give an adequate response to the visit of the British Queen (and Commander-in-Chief of the Paratroopers) to Dublin, or to Wall of Shame in Glasnevin Cemetery. There were some other visits of notable imperialists which also did not receive an adequate response.

Failure is not fatal and we can recover from it – but we cannot build on failure. We can only build on success. This public response needs to be a success and in order to achieve that it cannot be the response of one organisation or of two but needs to be a broad one in which anyone can take part who are not racists or fascists. In order to achieve that, the organising committee should be broad enough to include activists from across the oppositional spectrum who are not part of a party of government (or part of previous government) in either jurisdiction in Ireland. Such an organising committee should be able to include representatives of socialist and republican parties and collectives and also trade unionists.

A broad demonstration of that kind should be free of paramilitary displays which would represent only a section and quite probably alienate another. But all Irish and migrant community and trade union flags and banners should be permitted (with the exception of racist or fascist ones) and the broad banner on the front should spell the general theme of the demonstration.

I am conscious that I am nobody in particular to make this call but given that I think such a response is necessary and that I really want to see this, I make the call anyway and pledge myself to help.

End.

FURTHER INFORMATION LINKS

Report on planned commemoration by the Government: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/ric-and-dmp-policemen-to-be-commemorated-for-first-time-by-state-1.4128214

Collection of letters protesting whitewashing of the RIC and DMP to the Irish Times in 2013 found on Internet: http://www.inc-cne.com/RIC-DMP.pdf

POWERFUL PROTEST AGAINST VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 1 minute; watching time: 3 minutes per video)

 

A choreographed protest against violence against women is sweeping the world.  It was first seen on International Day Against Violence Against Women, 27th November in the centre of Santiago, the capital city of Chile. Organised by feminist group La Tesis, it formed part of the popular resistance to the the Sebastián Piñera regime and its repression, since accusations of rape and other sexual violence against the repressive forces have, according to a number of human rights agencies, amounted to 15% of the total (at least 70 separate cases in the first month of protests).

Source: Internet

The lyrics chanted were, in translation:
Patriarchy is a judge who judges us for being born
and our punishment is the violence that you don’t see.
It’s femicide, impunity for my murderer,
it’s disappearance, it’s rape.
And it wasn’t my fault, where I was or how I was dressed.
The rapist is you.  The rapist is you.
It’s the police, the judges, the State, the President.
The oppressive State is a macho rapist.

This was an extremely powerful and effective protest and caught the imagination of others, with videos spread by social media and also appeals across borders by feminist networks.

No doubt the continuation of the protest will take place in other contexts but it remain a powerful and innovative call.

As with other protests in Chile, those congregating in the area were attacked by forces of the State soon afterwards — the same forces against which the protest had been organised.

end.

SOURCES:

Various but chiefly https://theconversation.com/the-rapist-is-you-why-a-viral-latin-american-feminist-anthem-spread-around-the-world-128488?

CATALONIAN FIREFIGHTER AND TRADE UNIONIST SPEAKS IN DUBLIN

by Clive Sulish

A Catalonian firefighter and trade unionist addressed a Dublin audience to talk about the independence for Catalonia movement and the role of the trade unions in it, the repression from the Spanish State and the how the firefighters found themselves between the rampaging Spanish police and referendum voters on the 1st of October 2017.

Panel and screen at the Dublin meeting. Oriol is seated in the middle.

With some words in Irish and then speaking in English, the Chair of the meeting, Marc Loan of CDR Dublin welcomed the mostly-Irish audience to the meeting in Club na Múinteoirí (Teachers’ Club) on 13th November and outlined how the presentation would go, before opening up to questions and contributions from the audience. The meeting was part of a short tour of Irish cities by a Catalonian firefighter and trade unionist, organised jointly by three Ireland-based organisations in solidarity with Catalonia: With Catalonia/ Leis an Chatalóin, ANC Ireland and CDR Dublin.

The room lights were dimmed and an electronic presentation operated by Carles Pujol of the Irish branch of the ANC (National Assembly of Catalonia) took the audience through dates in the history of Catalonia as a nation and its relationship with the Spanish Kingdom. Then the presentation switched to some dates in international recognition of the right to self-determination of peoples, before focusing on the fairly recent attempts of the Catalan Government to legislate for its needs, legislation reduced or eliminated by subsequent judgements of the Spanish court. And thence to the Referendum on Independence of 1st October 2017, at which point the Chair presented the guest speaker.

Section of audience in the meeting and presentation screen.

The Chair introduced the firefighter from Catalonia, a slim tanned man in his forties, with shaved and balding head and lively brown eyes. Oriol Duch had the previous day addressed an audience in Derry, hosted by Derry Trades Council and the day before that in Queen’s University Belfast, organised by Belfast ANC. Mr. Duch had worked at one job or another since the age of sixteen, had been a firefighter for 15 years and a member of his union, Intersindical CSC, for seven of those. From its website, Intersindical declares itself to be a class trade union, which is to say that it specifically excludes members of state repressive forces, senior officials of state departments or management officials of companies. Mr. Duch is employed as a firefighter at the Girona Airport, Catalonia but also volunteers for the firefighting service of the Catalan Government administration, the Generalitat.

Oriol Duchs posing for a photograph outside the family and business home of the Pearse family, home of brothers Patrick and William, executed by British firing squads in 1916.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

“WE ARE NOT HEROES”

          As Oriol Duch spoke about the involvement of the firefighters as a defensive screen for voters in the October 1st Referendum in Catalonia, the projection screen showed massive crowds marching and demonstrating for independence. Catalonian firefighters had taken part in uniform in a number of those demonstrations for the democratic right to self-determination and had organised a demonstration of their own (seen on the poster for the speaking tour). The firefighters had discussed what to do since the Spanish Government had threatened the Referendum organisers and social media was full of threats too from right-wingers, including Spanish police officers and Army members. They knew that among the masses coming out to vote, there would be vulnerable people including the elderly and children and decided that those who wished to would turn out voluntarily in their uniforms and stand between the Spanish police and the crowds wanting to vote.

Manus O’Riordan, whose father fought in the International Brigades at Gandesa, mentioned a song for Catalonia he had liked and sang his translation of it into English there and then. As the applause died down, an Irish voice called for the national song of Catalonia, a song of workers’ resistance, the Els Segadors (the Reapers), which all Catalans present sang, the whole audience standing in respect.

Bringing the meeting to a close, the Chair thanked the guest speaker, the panel and the audience for their attendance and contributions (a thanks separately expressed by Oriol Duchs too) and encouraged them to keep in touch with the three solidarity organisations. He also expressed the organisers’ gratitude to the Dublin Fire Brigade and to the Teachers’ Club.

Poster for the Catalan firefighter tour shows one of the events organised by Catalan firefighters in support of self-determination for Catalonia.
(Poster design: CDR Dublin)

On the day, the firefighters distributed themselves around in a number of places, Oriol Duch told his audience, by ad hoc arrangements, the organisers arranging by texts to send firefighters to areas where they were felt to be needed. On the Sunday in question, as voters queued outside the polling stations, mostly schools closed for the day, convoys of police arrived with Spanish police in riot gear who charged into the buildings, breaking down doors and windows, to beat people and seize ballot boxes. They also attacked people waiting to vote with batons, boots and fists, Oriol Duch said, as the firefighters attempted to stand between the unarmed civilians and the police. Over 800 people that day had required medical treatment, he said (including a number of firefighters).

As the firefighter from Catalonia spoke, the presentation began to show scenes of Spanish police beating people with their truncheons, throwing others to the ground, kicking and punching them, pulling people by their hair and putting them in choke holds

“People have called the firefighters heroes but we do not see ourselves that way,” he said. “We were doing what we could to protect people and save lives, which is what we do in our job.”

DFB officer showing Oriol some of the equipment in a DFB truck.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)
Carles Pujol, Oriol & Diarmuid Breatnach inside the Dublin Fire Brigade museum.

A MASS MOVEMENT FOR SELF-DETERMINATION

          The Catalonian movement for independence is a mass movement that has been built especially by grassroots organisations, which have pushed the Catalan independentist political parties forward. Chief among these grassroots organisations is the National Assembly of Catalonia (whose former President, Jordi Sanchez, is one of the independentist activists jailed recently by the Spanish court). Firefighters for the Republic, of which Oriol is an active member, is a sub-group of the ANC.

Since the police attacks, others have come forward to direct mass resistance, in particular after the jail sentences of 9-13 years on seven elected public representatives and two leaders of grassroots organisations (ANC and Omnium Cultural) were announced in October. The “Catalan Tsunami” organisation contacted supporters through social media and masses followed their direction. For example, when the call to flood the Barcelona Airport with people had gone out, thousands had walked kilometres to get there and despite police violence, had effectively shut the airport down for hours. More recently, people had for a weekend closed by blockade one of two main motorways from the French State into the Spanish one, which passes through Catalonia (the other, passing through the Basque Country, was more recently shut down by Basques also — CS).

Oriol Duchs told the Dublin audience that the repression of peaceful people by the Spanish State included heavy jail sentences for “sedition” and police attacks on people in the street, “including firing rubber bullets, the use of which are banned in Catalonia but that is ignored by the Spanish police”. News media has reported that victims of rubber bullets fired at close range directly at people, contrary to instructions on their use, have caused a number of people recently to lose an eye. However, the police cannot control the masses of people, Oriol said.

After the applause for the Catalan firefighter had died down, the Chair opened the meeting to questions and comments from the audience.

Among the comments was that of an Irish woman who had been in Catalonia during the Referendum and talked about the frightening advance of the Spanish police in their riot gear and with their weapons. She disagreed with what Oriol Duchs had said in only one particular: “You ARE heroes”, she said, to applause and cheering from the audience.

An Irishman who had been there too as an international observer spoke about the police attack, which he said was fascist in nature. Another Irishwoman who had been there in a similar capacity said that she had witnessed much police violence but that the scenes depicted on the screen had reminded her just how violent those had been. She asked what people in Ireland could do to help.

From the panel the advice was to support Catalonia solidarity activities, to stay in touch through of the Catalonian solidarity organisations in Dublin, whilst from the floor an Irishman said that people should tell the elected public representatives what was going on and call for statements of support and interventions to the Spanish Government.

This brought about discussion of the posture of the Irish Government, as in recent Dáil questions to the Depart of Foreign Affairs, the responsible Minister of State had reiterated the Government line, that it was an internal matter for the Spanish State, that the rule of law had to be maintained and that the Spanish State is a democratic one with separation of judiciary and government executive. An intervention from the floor pointed out that one of the TDs (parliamentary delegates) had pointed out that in 1919 the First Dáil (Irish Parliament) had declared its independence of Britain and issued a call to the democratic nations of the world asking for recognition, although it was in violation of British constitution and law. The First Dáil had been declared illegal a few months later and its delegates hunted, arrested and jailed. “Catalonia today is Ireland 100 years ago,” he had said. Without the stance taken by that First Dáil, predecessors of all other parliaments of Ireland since, the present Government would not even exist nor would that Minister’s Department, the man commented..

“The struggle in Catalonia and the repression by the Spanish State is not ‘an internal matter for the Spanish State’”, Oriol Duch said. “It is a problem for Europe.”

Manus O’Riordan, whose father fought in the International Brigades at Gandesa, mentioned a song for Catalonia he had liked and sang his translation of it into English there and then. As the applause died down, an Irish voice called for the national song of Catalonia, a song of workers’ resistance, the Els Segadors (the Reapers), which all Catalans present sang, the whole audience standing in respect.

Bringing the meeting to a close, the Chair thanked the guest speaker, the panel and the audience for their attendance and contributions (a thanks separately expressed by Oriol Duchs too) and encouraged them to keep in touch with the three solidarity organisations. He also expressed the organisers’ gratitude to the Dublin Fire Brigade and to the Teachers’ Club.

Some of the attendance stayed around in the bar area to discuss for another hour or so.

Oriol Duchs with Derry Trades Council and other Catalan solidarity supporters on 11th November.
(Photo: C.Pujol)

POSTSCRIPT

          According to information contained in a press statement issued more recently by the speaking tour organisers, Oriol Duchs the following day paid a fraternal visit to a fire station of the Dublin Fire Brigade, as well as to the DFB’s Training Centre and Museum and was given a conducted tour of all three facilities. Also in Dublin, the firefighter had visited Leinster House hosted by Independents For Change TD Thomas Pringle, where he had met TDs Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind4C), Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Sinn Féin) and Éamon Ó Cuív (Fianna Fáil) along with Senators Paul Gavan and Máire Devine (both Sinn Féin). In a related but separate building he had also met with TDs Gino Kenny and Richard Boyd Barrett (both members of Solidarity/ People Before Profit). Oriol Duchs also took part, shared with a Kurdish representative, in a seminar on international law organised by the Law faculty of Griffiths College, Dublin.

In Belfast on Monday he had spoken in Queen’s University Belfast without contact with any political representatives but in Derry had met Eamon McCann and Shaun Harkin, both members of Solidarity/ People Before Profit and public representatives on Strabane and Derry District Council, as well as Elisha McCallion, Sinn Féin MP for Foyle at Westminster,

He met too with Derry Trades Council which, indeed, had hosted his public meeting in that city. How was it then that, considering his publicity promotion as a trade unionist, member of a trade union that organised three general strikes in Catalonia since 2017, the press statement issued by the speaking tour organisers included no mention of engagement with Irish trade unionists in Dublin, in a city where so many Irish trade unions had their head offices?

“That was not for want of trying,” responded Diarmuid Breatnach, a member of With Catalonia/ Leis an Chatalóin, to the question. “We contacted a number of trade union organisations in Dublin in order to host a public meeting or to meet with Oriol privately. One trade union quoted us commercial hire prices and failed to respond afterwards, another promised a meeting but failed to make arrangements, a number simply did not reply. It was sad, really, not only for solidarity with Catalonia, for I think Irish trade unionists would have benefited much from the interaction with Oriol and his trade union.”

Hopefully they will display a different attitude to any future such visits.

End.

Oriol in Leinster House with Carles Pujol, Cnclr. Micheál Mac Donncha (left) and Senator Paul Gavan (right).

CATALAN SOLIDARITY

Oriol in meeting with TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny, also present are Diarmuid Breatnach and Tina McVeigh from With Catalonia/ Leis an Chatalóin.
(Photo: C.Pujol)

ORGANISATIONS IN DUBLIN (joint organisers of the speaking tour)

With Catalonia/ Leis an Chatalóin FB: https://www.facebook.com/WithCataloniaIreland/
ANC Ireland FB: https://www.facebook.com/IrlandaPerLaIndependenciaDeCatalunya/

CDR Dublin FB: https://www.facebook.com/CDRDublin/

MARGARETTA D’ARCY SPEAKS IN THE BASQUE COUNTRY

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 7 minutes)

An anti-fascist bookfair was held in Portugalete1, not far from Bilbo (Bilbao) in the southern Basque Country on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September. There was ample room for the many stalls in the old disused indoor market in the town’s Casco Viejo (old town quarter), along with a curtained-off play area for children. One of the events in the two-day bookfair was a launch of the translation into Castillian (Spanish) of D’Arcy’s book “Tell Them Everything”(“Di Les Todo”). The translation was published by Sare Antifascista, one of the organisers of the bookfair and D’Arcy spoke in English at the launch, her talk translated into Castillian; also speaking was Basque ex-political prisoner Ziortza Fernandez Larrazabal. 

Section of the audience at the talk (Photo: D.Breatnach)

          Trembling from the illness that has affected her for a number of years (which she later commented resulted from attacks by fascists during the Greenham Common protest and later in Ireland by police) D’Arcy spoke clearly and coherently about her activism, the founding of Women Against Imperialism, the Greenham Common protest camp, her period in jail with Republican women and her activism against the USA’s military use of Ireland’s international airport at Shannon (despite the country’s constitutional neutrality).

Going on to speak about Ireland today, D’Arcy outlined some of the aspects of the notorious Direct Provision Centres for asylum seekers in the Irish state, the issues arising from the location of such centres and the opportunistic intervention of fascists against immigration. She went on to talk about the targeting on social media of those who spoke up welcoming asylum seekers or against racism and commented that the worrying thing about this development was that the fascists had a youth wing. Recalling the referendum on conditions of nationality in 2014 which had removed the rights of people born in Ireland to Irish citizenship unless they had an Irish citizen parent or grandparent, D’Arcy concluded by saying that Ireland is a racist country.

Referring to the Six Counties, D’Arcy criticised Sinn Féin for using the proposed Irish Language Act as a political football and as something with which to attack their political opposition, the Democratic Unionist Party2. Continuing, she said that “Scottish Irish”3 also existed in the Six Counties and asked why that could not be included in the Act, also quoting James Connolly that he didn’t care what language people spoke as long as they could communicate together.

Whatever about the issues in the Brexit question, the speaker said, Britain had used Ireland as a military training ground and had many bases in the Six Counties and these needed to be dismantled.

D’Arcy concluded by advising Basques to approach the Irish Consulate in the Basque Country to enquire whether it would be safe to travel to Ireland, given the US military use of Shannon Airport and the growth of fascism and racism in the country.

Ziortza Fernandez Larrazabal speaking. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

After the Irish speaker and speaking in Castillian, Ziortza Fernandez Larrazabal, ex-political prisoner from the locality, spoke first in tribute to D’Arcy’s record of activism. Moving on to her own activism in support of Basque independence and socialism and her five years in jail, Ziortza recounted being moved through a number of jails as part of the Spanish State’s policy and practice of dispersing political prisoners far from their homes and the strain this places on their friends and relations.

Commenting on the effects of imprisonment in Spanish jails, Ziortza said that some political prisoners had died through neglect, some had killed themselves but some had come out stronger, clearer in their minds and confirmed in their political views, which is what she felt had happened in her case. Ziortza said that some prisoners had 40 years of jail sentence and that they should be released.

After applause for the speakers, the Sare Antifaxista chairperson opened the meeting to questions from the audience. After a silence of some minutes, one man spoke in praise of the courage and commitment of both women and their record of activism. Speaking in Castillian with an Irish accent, he said he felt he had to distance himself from some of D’Arcy’s words. He felt it was important not to confuse government with people and that the Irish people were not, on the whole, racist and in fact racists and fascists had found it very difficult to organise within the territory of the Irish State.

Recounting the historical experience with the fascist Blueshirts in the 1930s, the Irishman said that they had been fought on the streets and defeated. When Pegida tried to launch their fascist and islamophobic group in the capitals of European states in 2016, they had failed in Ireland because firstly their gathering point had been occupied in advance by anti-fascists and anti-racists and, secondly the fascists themselves had been physically attacked and beaten. He talked also about a recent initiative to launch a “yellow vest” movement in Ireland but which fascists and racists had moved in to lead – that initiative had, as a result, been rejected and had faded away. Fascists are active on social media but find it difficult to hold events in public. The danger of racism and fascist organising should not be dismissed, the Irishman said but so far, in Ireland, racism and fascism was being repulsed among the people.

(Photo: D.Breatnach)

While it was true that the Government had proposed changing the nationality clause in the Constitution in 2014, he said, this had been part of a process across the whole of Europe. The referendum was held on that question along with another at the same time and only the social democrats and trotskyists had noticeably campaigned against the change. The vote in favour had to be seen in that context.

Moving on to the question of nation and language, he said that nations had a right to self-determination which, in many cases, was opposed by imperialism, which also damaged many languages. The loss of a language, he said, means the loss of a way of thinking and seeing, of literature, poetry and song; the loss of such is a loss for entire humanity.

A Basque woman also spoke from the floor, partly in Castillian and partly in Euskera (Basque), expressing her admiration for the record of both women speakers and referring to her own involvement in her youth in Greenham common. She went on to speak about the danger of nationalism but also in support of the rights of language and said that if there were no states in the world, she would not want one either but as long as there are, she wanted one for her own nation.

She also said that at this time it was important to support the struggles for self-determination not only of the Basques but also of the Catalans.

Poster advertising the book launch and talk

The event came to an end and people moved off for lunch in various bars, or to chat or to browse the bookstalls. The latter were run by a number of organisations: Inugorria Liburodenda (Gernika revolutionary and progressive bookshop), Sare Antifaxista; CNT, Mujeres Libres, IPEs, Baskale, FAI, DDT Banaketak, Periko Solabarria Elkartea, Komite Internazionalistak, Jazz Oi!, Templando el acero, Amnistía Ta Askatasuna, SRI.

FOOTNOTES

1 Portugalete has a Metro station, reachable from Bilbao. The Casco Viejo (old town) is a number of narrow streets lined by bars and shops heading steeply downwards from the Metro station towards the river front, where there are a number of restaurants and bars and a nearby port museum. The interesting Puente Colgante is nearby; a pedestrian bridge across the river worked something like a horizontal lift.

2 Given that Sinn Féin makes no effort to ensure its own membership is Irish-speaking, or even its leaders (despite some of them being very proficient in the language), also that all its internal and nearly all public meetings are conducted through English, this would seem to be a correct assessment by D’Arcy.

3 D’Arcy probably meant Ulster Scots or Ullans, which is not any kind of Irish but a variant of Scots, the Germanic-English dialect once prevalent in the Scottish Lowlands (often called “Lallands”), in which for example Robbie Burns wrote. It has Minority Language Status in the Six Counties and while Irish-speakers generally have no opposition to the promotion of that dialect, hardly anyone speaks it today and it was raised as an issue by Unionists purely as a counter to the rights of Irish-language speakers. Scotland does have Scottish Gaedhlig, with over 57,000 recorded speakers (2011 Census) but this is not spoken in the Six Counties.

Gernika bookshop stall in foreground
(Photo: D.Breatnach)
Other stalls
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

 

REFERENCES AND FURTHER INFORMATION

Sare Antixista: http://sareantifaxista.blogspot.com/

Dissidence in the Basque Country: https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2019/09/27/dissidence-in-the-basque-pro-independence-movement/

Basque political prisoners:

Amnistia Garrasi: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013870776872

Etxerat: https://www.facebook.com/Etxerat-Elkartea-255302801219340/

(Photo: D.Breatnach)

(Photo: D.Breatnach)
(Photo: D.Breatnach)
(Photo: D.Breatnach)
Buying at stall at the Bookfair
(Photo: D.Breatnach)
Nearby poster honouring “Argala”, an ETA leader assassinated by GAL, the Spanish State death squad.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

THE DÁIL: IRISH ESTABLISHMENT SUPPORTS THE SPANISH STATE’S ATTACK ON CATALAN SELF-DETERMINATION

Clive Sulish

A representative of the Irish (Fine Gael) Government’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade last night not only called for non-interference in the “internal affairs” of the Spanish State but defended the Spanish Constitution of 1978 and the “independent Spanish judiciary”. She was answering a question regarding the Spanish State and Catalan independence movement and her stance was supported by representatives of the two other traditional parties of Irish Government, Fianna Fáil and Labour. Five Teachtaí Dála, elected members of the Irish Parliament, argued passionately against them.

Section of Catalonia supporters in Kildare St. waiting to attend the Foreign Affairs Minister’s Question time.
(Photo: Rebel Breeze)

THE VOICES OF THE ESTABLISHMENT

This was Minister’s Question time, when Ministers (or their representatives) appear in the Chamber to answer questions about areas of the remit of their Departments and earlier, Ministers had been quizzed about areas of childcare, social care funding, local government funding ……

The Dáil chamber looked mostly deserted but in the public gallery sat a score of Catalans and some Irish, listening intently. Normally, these sessions are attended only by the TDs asking the questions and the relevant Ministerial spokesperson – and only for the question being asked. And of course also in attendance is the Ceann Comhairle, the presiding person acting as Chair – and secretaries. Sometimes by members of the media but by no means always, since reporters can monitor the televised broadcasts of the session.

The Minister’s reply on the question of Catalan self-determination delivered by Minister of State Helen McEntee TD followed a predictable pattern – predictable because it is so often trotted out: the Irish and Spanish Governments have a long history of good relations and friendly links, lots of Irish people go there on holidays, lots of people from there come to Ireland every year, Spain is a democracy, its constitution must be abided by, it would be wrong to interfere in its internal affairs. Inclusions to that in litany in recent times are that the question of Catalonia is emotive throughout the Spanish State and that Catalan society is divided over it, that the rule of law must be upheld and that violence has no place in politics.

The Fianna Fáil representative, Seán Haughey TD, echoed that line, adding also that the Spanish Constitution of 1978 is unitary and does not allow any part to become independent. He also quoted some survey results that he claimed indicated that support for independence was now in a minority among Catalans.

The Labour Party representative, Jan O’Sullivan TD, went further and specifically supported the present Government of her “sister party in Spain”, the PSOE and suggested that the “inflexible” previous government of Rajoy (of the PP) had helped to bring the current situation about and that Sanchez, the Prime Minister, would help calm the whole situation down. The only concessions she made were to suggest that the lengthy jail sentences were perhaps not the best way to deal with the issue and to include the police by mention in her call for “end to violence by all sides”. However, she went further than others in the Establishment parties with a specific condemnation of the jailed activists when she said that “it is not acceptable for politicians to lead citizens into conflict”.

Early arrivals for the Minister’s Question time
line up in Kildare St. below a photo of the First Dáil 1919.
(Photo: Rebel Breeze)

THE OPPOSITION

“Reactionary Spanish nationalism”

          The first TD to speak in reply to the Establishment politicians was Eoin Ó Broin, a comparatively recent Sinn Féin Deputy (2016) for Dublin Mid-West. Ó Broin was in Catalonia as one of the international observers of the Catalan Referendum on Independence on 1st October, which was attacked by Spanish police with around 1,000 Catalans injured.1

Speaking about his experiences there, Ó Broin related his meeting with 83-year-old Antonio, bruised and with his fractured arm in a sling, beaten while trying to vote earlier that day, queuing again at a polling station in Barceloneta. The SF TD spoke about what he had seen there and the “increasingly reactionary Spanish nationalism”, then went on to list the elected politicians and their jail sentences. Denying it was an internal matter for Spain, Ó Broin said it was about human rights and required international independent mediation. The Dáil would be implicitly in collusion with the Spanish Government if it left the matter to internal resolution only.

“The working class are the incorruptible heirs …”

          Paul Murphy TD, a socialist activist2 who has recently left the Socialist Party of Ireland to form a platform called Rise, shared speaking time with Eoin Ó Broin. Calling for a “reality check” he said that jailing politicians and activists for organising a peaceful ballot could hardly be the work of a normal democracy. Responding to the Labour Party spokesperson with regard to the Spanish PSOE Prime Minister, he said that “Sanchez is in Government” and that he was “sending thousands of troops and police” to suppress the Catalan independence movement and mounting “a publicity campaign” to blame the convicted leaders.

The Spanish Government would one day come to be haunted, Murphy said, by the words of James Connolly in 19143 when he said:

“If you strike at, imprison or kill us, out of our graves or prisons we will still evoke a spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps, create a force that will rise up and destroy you. We defy you! Do your worst.”

Murphy said that the Catalan popular movement was impressive with their demonstrations, marches and the recent general strike. Against that, the Spanish police and army were carrying out “a campaign of terror” injuring hundreds and anyone who didn’t believe it only had to go on line and see the videos. “Francoism is baring its ugly head”, Murphy said and pointed out that the Spanish legal systems is riddled with a contempt for democracy, echoed by those at the top in the European Union.

The recent Catalan General Strike, according to Murphy, “showed the way forward” and he quoted again from Connolly, that “the working class are the incorruptible heirs of Irish freedom”. The Spanish State had a long history of suppression of national self-determination, including those of the Basques, Murphy said and the way forward would be for a voluntary socialist federation.

Catalan independence supporters gathering in Kildare St. waiting to attend the Foreign Affairs Minister’s Question time.
(Photo: Rebel Breeze)

“The judicialisation of politics”

          Next to speak was Thomas Pringle, Independent TD for Donegal since 2011, with a socialist Irish Republican background, a member of Sinn Féin for few years but who left the party in 2004. He opened his contribution by referring to “the judicialisation of politics” in the Spanish state and, in reference to the scale of the Spanish repression, mentioned the 700 Catalan town mayors who await judicial process due to their support for the Catalan Referendum in 2017.

Pringle said the Spanish Constitution purported to guarantee the rights of different people within the state, which would be a joke if the reality were not so grim. “The EU continues to ignore” what is going on in its member Spanish State, “as it did in the Six Counties,” he said.

“Catalonia in 2019 is Ireland  a century ago”

          “Self-determination is a human right,” said the next to speak: Peadar Tóibín, TD for Meath West since 2011, who left Sinn Féin in 2018 and went on to form Aontú in January 2019. Tóibín reminded all that the First Dáil had sent out a call to the world for recognition of Irish independence in 1919 and that most states had not done so then4.

“Catalonia in 2019 is Ireland a hundred years ago”, Tóibín said and went on to say that if the Irish Government remained silent on repression by the Spanish State then it shared culpability for it.

“ … a short memory in this House”

          “We sometimes have a short memory in this House” said Mattie McGrath when it was his turn to speak, a TD since 2007 who has been an Independent since he left the Fianna Fáil party in 2011. McGrath referred to the recent long war in the north-east of Ireland and said that conflict resolution process was the only way to resolve the issue.

McGrath referred to Clare Daly (elected MEP this year after being a socialist TD for some years) and her statements on the issue. “Self-determination is a fundamental human right”, McGrath said, and went on to speak about “the right of freedom of assembly”, which was under attack by the Spanish State.

“Ireland is a small island nation”, Mc Grath said, “very sympathetic to the rights of people” (apparently contrasting this to the attitude of the Establishment in the Dáil).

In the time allowed by procedure for final response from the Minister, her representative reiterated the position she had outlined earlier and, though she conceded that most of the Catalan demonstrations had been peaceful, said that some recent “scenes of violence” had been “of concern”.

Section of Catalonia supporters in Kildare St. waiting to attend the Foreign Affairs Minister’s Question time. Behind them, enlarged photo of the First Dáil, 1919.
(Photo: Rebel Breeze)

COMMENT

Fianna Fáil‘s origins are in the split with Sinn Féin led by De Valera in 1926 over the question of taking seats in the “partitionist” Irish parliament, the Dáil, and rapidly became the preferred party of the native Irish capitalist class, having been in government since more than any other Irish party.

The origins of Fine Gael, currently in minority Government at the tolerance of Fianna Fáil, has its origin in the setting up of the Irish State after the War of Independence and represents the victors of the Civil War against the Republicans. It was composed of a coalition of a right-wing Irish Republican party (followers of Michael Collins, Griffiths etc), a small right-wing farmer’s party and the fascist Blueshirts (a name by which FG are still often called by their enemies).

Hard to believe today, the Irish Labour Party was founded by, among others, James Connolly and is the oldest of the three parties. A progressive party in the early days, it was not a participant in the Civil War, during which its representatives criticised the Free State Government about its abuse of civil rights, repression, large-scale arrests, internment without trial, torture and murder. Over the years it lost more and more of its socialist credentials and has been in coalition government with the right-wing Fine Gael on two separate occasions. The main trade unions in Ireland retain connections to the Labour Party, with the possible exception of the rapidly-growing British-based UNITE.

(Photo: Rebel Breeze)

The supposed inviolability of the Spanish Constitution of 1798 is one of the questions at the heart of the matter. The boast of the Spanish Government and its supporters abroad is that the majority of the people within the Spanish State voted for it. Well, so they did, except in the Basque Country – but what of it? If in a wedding, one of the partners says “I do”, does that mean that person is forever forbidden from leaving? Do we not have the right to divorce acknowledged now in most states around the world and certainly in “the democracies”? If one agrees to join a club or organisation, does that mean one can never choose to leave? Well, maybe in the Mafia, or the Cosa Nostra ….

Furthermore, that monarchist Constitution was put forward to a population that had endured four decades of fascist dictatorship, with the collusion of the allegedly socialist and republican PSOE and the allegedly communist and republican Communist Party of Spain, restraining their trade union and party members in the wave of state repression and murders during the Transition to “democracy”. Isn’t there something about the invalidity of agreements made under duress?

The issue of non-interference in the internal affairs of another state is a bogus one, since all governments do that at one time and another and Irish governments and political parties are no exception. In 1936, the representatives of Fine Gael loudly supported the military-fascist uprising led by Franco against the democratically-elected Government of the Spanish State. The Irish Government of Fianna Fáil did nothing to prevent the Blueshirts going off to fight for Franco and the Bishops of the Irish Catholic Church blessed them as they sailed off. The reality is that states that agree with one another generally do not interfere in one another’s internal affairs.

The constant mantra of reference to “the rule of law” and the condemnation of “violence in politics” is not only an irrelevance but turning truth on its head. It was not illegal according to the Spanish Constitution or laws to hold a referendum on independence 5. It is also against the Spanish law to use violence against others and even the police are not legally empowered to do so except in self-defence or in defence of others. On October 1st the actions of the Spanish police had 1,000 people requiring treatment and another few hundred have been injured in recent days. The Internet is full of videos of different incidents of gratuitous Spanish police violence, often the perpetrators showing no fear of being filmed – clearly because Spanish (and more recently, Catalan) police know they have impunity. Recently, however, it seems that some Spanish police have become sensitive to being filmed during their violent acts and have begun to target photo-journalists, both with personal violence and with rubber bullets.

A total of five people have now lost an eye from the impact of the rubber bullets of the Spanish police. Apart from the fact that these are banned in Catalonia, the bullets are supposed to be fired to ricochet and not directly at people, nor are they supposed to be fired at close quarters. Clearly, the rules are not being adhered to and nobody is enforcing them, granting impunity to the Spanish police.

When the representative of the Minister for Foreign Affairs acknowledged the overall peaceful nature of Catalan independence demonstrations but expressed concern over some recent scenes of violence, what was she really saying? It was this: that the violence of the police against the peaceful demonstrators could continue but the victims using force in defence or in retaliation is a cause for concern!

End.

FOOTNOTES

1  Eoin Ó Broin, often described as on the (small) left wing of Sinn Féin (a wing badly needed by that party) has in the past had relations with the Abertzale Left in the Basque Country and wrote a book on the movement there in his time, Matxinada – Basque Nationalism and Radical Basque Youth Movements. He is also author of Sinn Féin and the Politics of Left Republicanism.

2  Paul Murphy has been, while a Socialist Party TD, dragged by police out of a housing protest and with others faced serious charges arising out of a protest about Irish water against a Labour Party Minister, of which he and the others were acquitted by the jury after an infamous trial. He remains in the PBP-Solidarity parliamentary coalition.

3  James Connolly (1868-1916) was at that time active in the Irish Labour Party and leader of the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union, which was struggling to recover from an 8-month fight against a group of employers that had set out to crush the union (Dublin Lockout). Connolly was a revolutionary socialist, republican, journalist, historian, author and organiser and was horrified by the very idea of the First World War which began in 1914. He was shot dead by British firing squad, along with other leaders and some others of the 1916 Rising.

4  This reference seems particularly appropriate. In January 1919 the majority of MPs elected in Ireland in the UK General Elections of December 1918, carried out the “Sinn Féin” platform’s election promise not to go to Westminster and convened a parliament in Dublin. This is known as “The First Dáil” even by the Irish State, which numbers its parliaments from then onwards. The First Dáil declared independence and called on the states of the world to recognise Irish independence (see References) but only the young USSR did so. Ireland had no legal right under British law to break away from the UK unless it were agreed by majority in Westminster (where the Irish MPs would always be outnumbered by the British). The First Dáil was banned by the British in September of that year and its members were arrested if they could be found.

5  Though possibly the declaration of Republic was – but that was suspended in less than five minutes.

REFERENCES & FURTHER INFORMATION

Clip of Eoin Ó Broin TD reply: https://www.facebook.com/EoinOBroinTD/videos/1138199326378630/

Clip of Paul Murphy TD reply: https://www.facebook.com/paulmurphytd/videos/424540844872189/?t=11

Clip of Thomas Pringle TD reply: https://www.facebook.com/ThomasPringleTD/videos/416766079224197/

Clip of Peadar Tóibín TD reply: https://www.facebook.com/740004202875853/videos/738458029959798/?t=124

(currently seeking remaining TD, also footage of the whole debate)

Text of all contributions to the debate: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2019-10-22/34/

First Dáil’s Message to the Free Nations of the World: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Message_to_the_Free_Nations_of_the_World

Some organisations of Catalan solidarity in Ireland:

ANC Ireland: https://www.facebook.com/IrlandaPerLaIndependenciaDeCatalunya/

CDR Dublin: https://www.facebook.com/CDRDublin/

With Catalonia/ Leis an Chatalóin: https://www.facebook.com/WithCataloniaIreland/

TWEETS OF FATHER WHOSE DAUGHTER WAS BEATEN BY MADRID POLICE GETS HUGE RETWEETING

Translated and compiled by D. Breatnach

Spanish riot police. (Photo sourced: Internet)

After his teenage daughter was clubbed by Madrid police on Wednesday last, Angel Barrancos sent a tweet to the Madrid police that is being retweeted extensively in the Spanish state. His daughter’s injuries followed a Spanish police charge on a large demonstration in solidarity with the Catalan prisoners and calling for fundamental changes in the Spanish state as a whole.


“Hi, Police! I was in the Madrid demonstration today and your sons of bitches colleagues of the UIP
(mobile units of the Policía Nacional – Trans.) laid my daughter’s head open. Note my name well. I’m coming after you. I used to respect you – no longer. Now I am going to the hospital – you’ll hear from me later.”

Shit police! The girl is 16 years of age, is 1.60 meters high and weighs 40 Kg. She is a young person in solidarity with those of her age. She must have surely been putting your lives in great danger. I am going in a taxi to the hospital, Samur (the ambulance company) cannot carry all the wounded!!! Beware!!!”

The CTC scan ok, baton blows to the body and some stitches to the head. Thank you those who have taken an interest and my condolences to the inhuman fascists who have written barbarities, I will respond to you …. you do not deserve my time.”

One of the reporters covering the events, Alicia Armestro of Kaos en la Red, alternative Internet news media, was attacked by police and her equipment thrown into the air. She sent a brief report on the event and a video of the start of the police charge before going for treatment and recovery of her injuries.

End item.

“YOUR STRUGGLE IS OURS TOO!” — CATALONIA’S STRUGGLE IS WAKING SPAIN

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 3 minutes (not including video))

A Catalan solidarity demonstration of thousands in Madrid, in the big central square called Puerta Del Sol, shouted for “freedom for the political prisoners” and declared that Catalonia’s struggle was theirs too. A small crowd of Vox and smaller fascist groups tried to disrupt the rally but were repelled and the crowd turned towards them chanting: “Here are the antifascists!” (daring the fascists to come forward). Later, Spanish police charged the solidarity demonstrators and some running battles took place in the city’s streets.

There are two Spains – one of them is the Spain of an imperial and racist history, of expulsions, of plunder of colonies, of repression at home and abroad, the Inquisition, military-fascist uprising against an elected government, mass executions, rape and plunder, four decades of fascist dictatorship, followed by another four of a fake transition to democracy. That is the Spain that is in power now.

The other Spain is the one of popular resistance to exploitation of the Comuneros, the anti-feudal writing of Cervantes, the struggle against the military-fascist uprising supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the mounting resistance to the Dictatorship that forced the ruling class to change their style of management, on the face of it ….. That Spain had largely been beaten, jailed or shot in to silence, crushed by treason and division and hopelessness. But there were always embers, embers that burst into little flames from time to time, not only in the nations of the Basque Country, where a fire burned for two decades, or in Catalonia, or Galicia …. but also in places like Asturias in the north, Andalucia in the south and in Madrid itself, in the centre.

The struggle of Catalonia for independence and against fascist police and judicial repression, is waking that other Spain and calling her to the fight. Waking her latent anti-fascists, her democrats; waking those who are unemployed, in precarious jobs, fighting to hold on to their homes or being evicted; waking its youth who want a better future.

It is the opposite of what was wanted by the Falangists, Vox, Ciudadanos, the Partido Popular, the Monarchy – all of them heirs of the fascist dictator Franco – and the PSOE, which climbed aboard with them. These have railed against the Catalan independence movement in order to distract the people from their real problems and real enemies. In Andalucia, Vox and Ciudadanos joined forces to oust the corrupt PSOE government and to progress towards a fascist regional government. In Extremadura they moved towards the same objectives but fell out among themselves.

Section of crowd in the Catalan solidarity demonstration in Madrid on Wednesday. The really large banner in the middle is the flag of the Second Spanish Republic with the yellow ribbon of freedom for the Catalan political prisoners across it. (Photo:see Source at end article)

But recently both those regions have seen courageous people take to the streets, proudly declaring solidarity with Catalunya. And Madrid on Wednesday saw another part of that awakening. A Catalan solidarity demonstration of thousands in Madrid, in the big central square called Puerta Del Sol, shouted for “freedom for the political prisoners” and declared that Catalonia’s struggle was theirs too. And chanted that “Monarchy is filth!”

The Spanish Government – and also other spokespersons of the parliamentary ambit – is calling for respect for the judgement (ie againts the Catalan activists – Trans.). The judgement is not respectable, neither in its genesis nor in its conclusions and therefore cannot be respected,” declared the conveners of the solidarity protest.

That is why this evening we are holding this assembly for freedoms, for democracy and against repression,” declared one of the speakers at the event. “And for that reason we salute and send all our internationalist solidarity to all the people who these days are coming out in various parts of Catalonia, especially to those who have suffered repression, with blows, arrests or in addition once again, a person has lost an eye through the brutal and illegal use of rubber bullets.”

A young woman spoke “on behalf of the youth of Spain to the youth of Catalunya”, saying that their struggle was waking up that of the Spanish, against unemployment, precarious employment, against fascism and the Monarchy.

She said that the democratic parties and trade unions needed to decide whether they were on their side in that struggle or on the others. The young woman read out a long list of organisations supporting the Madrid demonstration and ended with the call, in which all joined in: “Catalunya, listen: Your struggle is our struggle!”

end.

SOURCE (report on the Madrid demonstration and video):

http://www.izquierdadiario.es/El-Madrid-del-No-Pasaran-desborda-la-Puerta-del-Sol-en-solidaridad-con-Catalunya?fbclid=IwAR0i82WbXmmeU2V_IDRdLpVBBmcVConHYrSAcVuFbrW5RUAv_FNVPBGz4OQ