LÁ FHÉILE PÁDRAIG IN DUBLIN MARRED BY FAR-RIGHT DEMONSTRATIONS

Clive Sulish

(Reading time: 5 mins.)

Instead of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, this year saw a number of far Right-organised demonstrations. The Level 5 Lockdown as part of measures to prevent the continued spread of the Covid19 virus meant the cancelling of the traditional parade and the ongoing closure of bars, people instead taking advantage of the fair weather to head out to parks, river and canal banks and the seaside. A number of far-Right organisations however convened protest events for a number of locations in Dublin under the pretence of caring for mental health and defending civil rights. Hot food services for those in need normally served from outside the GPO were cancelled due to concerns about possible trouble from far-Rightists and a limited service was provided instead.

Unlike many other occasions in the past year, the Gardaí mobilised to take control of the demonstrations, in some cases arresting people who could not give a valid excuse for exceeding the 5-kilometer from home permitted limit without a valid reason, or refusing to give their name and address, or preventing their re-entering the city centre later in the day. The Gardaí general tolerance of far-Right events and of the latter’s continual flouting of anti-contagion measures appears to be worn down, at least for the moment. This tolerance (and at times actual collusion), at marked variance with their treatment of Republican and some other Left events, seems to have been broken by the Far-Right event at Stephen’s Green, where some of the demonstrators threw fireworks at the police.

The most effective operation of the police was in the surrounding of the RTÉ’s campus, the national television service. Unlike a protest last year when they permitted far-Right demonstrators to enter the grounds, on this occasion they were effective in keeping them out. At least two of those arrested there, a man and a woman, had traveled down from the North, they were detained for refusing to give their names and addresses. Altogether, the Gardaí reported having arrested 21 people, including four females, and that 14 were taken before a magistrate’s court that evening and seven charged and released on bail. A number of others may have been told they would be fined for having exceeded their permitted traveling distance without reasonable excuse.

One of the arrested was Joe Doocey from Mayo, variously a member of Gemma Doherty’s “Anti-Corruption Ireland” and “Integrity Ireland”, both racist and far-Right organisations; Doocey was sentenced to prison a few years ago for driving over a Garda at a checkpoint and running an on-line harassment campaign against his victim.

The small gathering earlier at the Garden of Remembrance seems to have been somewhat different, apparently a Christian fundamentalist group calling for “Reclaim St. Patrick’s Day for the Holy Trinity”1. At least handful of those present were seen the previous day in O’Connell Street, wearing a red sash and dispensing Catholic leaflets from the “Irish Society for Christian Civilization”, with a right-wing message.2

“Soldiers of the Immaculate Conception”, part of the right-wing fundamentalist Irish Society for Christian Civilisation, in O’Connell Street on 16th March. They were also present at an event at Garden of Remembrance on St. Patrick’s Day, among other Catholic fundamentalists. (Photo: C.Sulish)

The fairly small gatherings at the GPO and the Garden of Remembrance earlier in the day were monitored with a heavy Garda presence, some of which was in evidence there later that evening. Hot food services and tea for the needy, which would normally be provided in the evening, were cancelled due to worries about possible far-Right interference. One low-level cold food service was however in operation with antifascists, mostly of Irish Republican origin, in the vicinity in case of trouble from the far-Right, who however did not materialise.

DEMONSTRATING IN SUPPORT OF MENTAL HEALTH?

For public consumption, these far-Right groups pretend to be demonstrating for civil rights to to march etc and in defence of mental health. To see Far-Rightists who wish to push their authoritarian agenda on the public now marching in defence of “democracy” and “civil right” would be amusing were it not for the serious intentions of fascists hiding behind those slogans.

Mental health services in Ireland are and have been underfunded and overstretched for many years, with long waiting lists for treatment. So are these far-Rightists at least marching to remedy that situation? No, they are demonstrating for an end to the Lockdown which they say is the cause of mental illness.

Not to be unkind but mental health services might help some of the believers in crazy conspiracy theories which make up the numbers at these events organised by far-Rightists and fascists. Believing that the Irish Government is part of a communist plot organised by the Communist Party of China through the UN and EU is surely not a sign of a healthy mind. Nor is a belief that antifascism is a paedophile ring support group, or that pregnancy termination and gay marriage rights are intended to reduce the native (white) population so they can be replaced by (non-white) migrants – an alleged plot which Herman Kelly of the Irish Freedom Party declares is being run by the EU and by the Irish Government.

Far-Right marchers approaching Donnybrook, with placards displaying some of the fantastic conspiracy theories: one in foreground suggests the Government is introducing communism under the guise of the Covid19 pandemic. (Photo credit: C. Lally, Irish Times).

And in fact Kelly’s “Irish Freedom Party” is the reality behind the false mental health event organised for St. Patrick’s Day in Herbert Park, through the newly-created front organisation “Le Chéile”3 claimed by Tracey Mahoney of the IFP, who spoke there. The remaining speaker was Dr. Anne McCloskey (who last October resigned from her Derry & Strabane Councillor seat for the right-wing Aontú party) and her daughter was arrested outside RTÉ. The party’s Vice-President (and castle owner in Athy), Dolores Cahill, was the main speaker at the event and claimed that wearing face-masks leads to oxygen deprivation which in turn led to a reduced IQ in children and would harm their career prospects in adult life.

These bizarre claims would have all those whose work requires wearing masks in healthcare, surgery, laboratories, “clean workshops” etc worried – if there were any scientific basis for them. There isn’t of course and Cahill can no longer use her position as lecturer in Medicine at UCD as some kind of validation for her claims, since she has been replaced on the course. Not before more than 130 UCD students, mostly from its School of Medicine, had signed a letter protesting the University’s silence on her claims. The University had however already publicly disassociated itself from Cahill’s view, though not at the time replacing her in her First Year course in Science, Medicine and Society, which it has now done.4 According to the text introducing an on-line petition calling for her to be disciplined by UCD because of her publicity-seeking statements being in contravention of all scientific health understanding, Cahill has also been asked to resign from the EU’s Scientific Committee of the Innovative Medicines Initiative and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Studies.

Irish Freedom Party lineup, Herman Kelly centre back row with Rowan Croft (aka “Grand Torino” to left of photo) and Dolores Cahill centre front row.

Cahill’s claim and that of other far-Right conspiracy theorists is that “oxygen-deprivation” leads to passivity, which is why it is being enforced against an “invented” pandemic. Completely contrary to her own logic (but being cheered by many in attendance) was her complaint that the HSE is failing to obtain a particular substance which would be effective treatment (in the “imagined pandemic”)!

“FOR FREEDOM AND CIVIL RIGHTS”?

These campaigners for the right to congregate without masks (i.e freedom to spread the virus) are far from general advocates of freedom. At a Dublin event organised in August last year on Custom House Quay by the Irish Yellow Vests, a mob organised by the National Party (another fascist party) attacked unarmed counter-protesters with metal bars and clubs disguised as flags, leaving one of their victims unconscious. A few weeks later they assaulted a tiny group of LGBT campaigners in Kildare Street, clubbing one of the women to the ground.5

Alan Sweeney6 of Irish Yellow Vests and others boarded a LUAS tram in Dublin after one of their events and abused passengers who were wearing masks and far-Right demonstrators regularly accuse passers-by of being “muzzled”. A man arrested the day before St.Bridget’s Day in Faughart was said to have been ripping masks off elderly people (picking on older people might be thought as safer than others) and Ben Gilroy, one of the Irish Yellow Vest leaders, videoed himself following a masked elderly man around a supermarket while abusing him. Karl Cohalon from Limerick, who goes by the name James Collins on YouTube also had himself videoed on his way to an event in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, shouting homophobic and other insults at a man in the front garden of his home.

Many of the far-Right and fascists are Catholic fundamentalists too, also not known for supporting democratic rights such as the rights of LGBT people or of women needing a pregnancy termination, not to mention vulnerable children (of course they do not condemn the Church for paedophilia and in fact claim the accusations are false). These include not only the openly fascist parties mentioned earlier and Síol na hÉireann but also QAnon and the likes of Gemma O’Doherty (“make Ireland Catholic again”!) of Anti-Corruption Ireland and Dolores Webster (aka Dee Wall) of QAnon, both of whom who demonstrated last year against Croke Park being made available to a Muslim group to celebrate the Eid Festival. Both those women were seen during the events of St. Patrick’s Day as were other fascists such as Carey (“helping the homeless”) and Andy Heasman from Mayo, a supporter of the fascist Síol na hÉireann party, who shared a video expressing his disappointment at the poor turnout, blaming Sinn Féin (undeserved credit there!) and Glen Miller of the Yellow Vests, who apparently cautioned people not to attend.

Whether people genuinely confused or believers in fantasy conspiracies of devil-worshippers, paedophiles or faraway communist parties, they are kept together to make up the numbers by fascist organisations with racist agendas, pretending Irish nationalism too although a number have Far-Right British and Loyalist connections. Those who for other reasons demonstrate alongside racists and fascists cannot escape the facts of their association by declaring that they are not fascists, racists or even far-Rightists – they are giving those forces the numbers they need to seem like a viable force and to attract other supporters. Of course, once they have served their purpose, like the SA “Brownshirts” in Nazi Germany, they will be disposed of. But meanwhile …

More placards of fantastic conspiracy theories displayed on pedestrian bridge outside RTÉ campus: one placard claims that a vaccine kills while another claims it is genocide, yet another claims that the “true agenda” is (Irish) depopulation to facilitate a Chinese (communist) takeover. (Photo credit: Sam Boal, The Journal).

ST. PATRICK WAS …

St Patrick is one of three patron saints of Ireland, the others being Brigid and Columba and is revered not only by Irish Catholics but also by other Christian sects, for having established Christianity in Ireland around the 5th Century CE. However over the centuries since, St. Patrick has become symbolic of far more, being a representation politically and culturally of Irish nationhood at home and among the nation’s far-flung diaspora.

Contrary to those who try to employ this symbol to push an “ethnic” racism against immigrants, it needs to remembered that Patrick first came to Ireland as a captive taken in a raid by pagan Gaels, was then sold as a slave and exploited as a swineherd. Some time after escaping from his servitude (probably back to Britain), he returned to spread his faith in Ireland. He was then a migrant, one of the very group against which many of the far-Right and fascists organise.

End.

FOOTNOTES:

1No doubt drawing on the legend of Patrick using the shamrock to explain the Christian Trinity, which no serious historian credits because a) he did not mention it himself in his biography, b) the Gaels already had pagan divine trinities and c) the legend only surfaced comparatively recently.

2Their website declares that the “The aim of the association is to resist, in the realm of ideas, the atheistic, liberal, and socialist trends of our times and proudly affirm the positive values of Christian Civilisation”.

3Not at all to be confused with the youthwork organisation NGO of the same name, nor the Catholic schools management trust, nor the very recent antifascist and anti-racist coalition, all of which have the same name.

4https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/ucd-professor-dolores-cahill-moved-from-lecturer-role-1.4514141

5The National Party played it safe and held their event on the Hill of Tara where their Fuhrer, Justin Barret made a speech celebrating St. Patrick, ignoring the man’s origins, of course. The Irish Yellow Vests stayed home.

6Who operates far from his Co. Galway home and who last year attempted to strike a disabled woman counter-protester on the ground and spat at her

SOURCES:

Irish Times report: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/large-garda-presence-sustained-in-dublin-for-anti-lockdown-protests-1.4512885

The Journal report: https://www.thejournal.ie/gardai-arrests-protests-5384055-Mar2021/

The Indo report: https://www.independent.ie/news/21-arrests-during-mostly-peaceful-anti-lockdown-protests-40208402.html

Videos on Facebook:

Text and petition against Cahill’s anti-scientific claims while employed by UCD: https://www.change.org/p/students-dolores-cahill-is-an-anti-scientist-who-threatens-ucd-s-integrity-she-must-go?fbclid=IwAR2v2yjsPZABdvruCHD6qrTzJHqEMW7FKA5orKaBEC-0FKsL_psbGVzATb8

Allegation of a “St. Patrick’s Day” party at castle owned by Dolores Cahill: https://www.thejournal.ie/dolores-cahill-party-probe-castle-5386356-Mar2021/

NATIONAL PARTY RALLY SAVED BY GARDAÍ — NP leader tells Gardaí “We are of you”

Clive Sulish

(Reading time: 7 mins)

A rally outside Leinster House organised by the Irish fascist National Party for Saturday 10th October survived a clash with antifascists thanks only to the protection of a large force of Gardaí. The rally was a continuation of the attempt of the Far-Right in Ireland to use popular frustration over the Government’s haphazard and stop-go restrictions to build up their fascist and racist organisations.

The Irish Tricolour and both versions of the socialist Starry Plough, the original one of the Irish Citizen Army and the later one of the Republican Congress. (Photo source: AFA Ireland)

A broad coalition of antifascists, Irish Republicans, Socialists, Communists, LGBT activists etc, led by Antifascist Action Ireland, mobilised a counter-protest to the National Party’s presence. Immediately the counter-protesters arrived, the two forces clashed. The NP supporters were visibly taken aback as the barriers between them and their opponents flew aside or were thrown down, some actually going into the air. Two flash-bangs they threw into the antifascists seemed to have no effect and it was the Gardaí with baton blows that saved the NP. The rally’s banner was seized by antifascists and only retrieved by Gardaí.

NP supporters (right of photo) in shock as the antifascists (right of photo) clash with them. (Photo source: Internet)

The National Party, formed in 2016, are a fascist, racist, homophobic and fundamentalist sectarian Catholic organisation. Their leader Justin Barrett recently commented that when he got into power he would remove the citizenship of the current elected Mayor of Dublin, Ms. Hazel Chu, although she was born and raised in Ireland. The party propagates the “Replacement conspiracy”, where the EU is supposedly planning to replace all Irish people with migrants, proposes hanging for doctors who carry out a pregnancy termination and opposes LGBT equality. A prominent member of their organisation boasted about having organised the mob of up to 60 men who attacked a peaceful counter-protest on Custom House Quay on August 22nd with iron bars and lengths of timber.

With threatening batons and at times striking with them, the Gardaí first of all pushed all the counter-protestors into Molesworth St. where uniformed Gardaí and POU (Public Order Unit) faced off the antifascists, who alternated between shouting at the fascists over the heads of the Gardaí and shouting at the Gardaí themselves, e.g “Garda Blueshirts!”1

Original defensive screen for the NP of Gardaí with drawn batons (Photo source: Rebel Breeze)

At one point POU officers blocked off access to some antifascists who were on the steps of one of the buildings in the street and proceeded to search them but apparently found nothing. They did not conduct searches among the supporters of the NP, who had earlier thrown the flash-bangs and some other missiles at their opponents. Nor were they seen confiscating any flags from the NP supporters, while they wrenched flags from a number of antifascists – including a tricolour on a long fairly fragile carbon plastic rod (shown on Breaking News, which also showed NP supporters in a different photo striking at antifascists with flags that seemed to be on metal rods).

Public Order Gardaí forcibly searching an antifascist but nothing found (Photo source: Rebel Breeze)

Things could have remained at stasis at that point but the Gardaí several times pushed the antifascists savagely back, a few feet at a time. They were successful in doing so over some metres but it was not made easy for them – there was strong militant resistance and a number of clashes.

During the whole of these interactions after the initial clash with the NP, a number of antifascists were guarding the rear of their numbers and some fascists approaching, presumably latecomers for the rally, were turned away.

The Public Order Unit, which took over from the Gardaí and began to aggressively push the antifascists back but were resisted. The fascists may be seen beyond, with the Irish Parliament beyond that. (Photo source: Rebel Breeze)

At one point it appeared that the Gardaí were mobilising numbers to block off the antifascists’ exit but in response to a call to fall back, the solid mass passed through the Gardaí’s incomplete lines thereby defeating any intention of “kettling” the antifascists and shutting down their mobility.

NP SPEAKERS AND SPEECHES

The fascists chanted “Pedos off our streets!” in response to the antifascists’ calls for “Nazi scum off our streets!” — to the fascists, LGBT people are “paedophiles” and they find it a handy though baseless slogan to throw at all antifascists. The antifascists, apart from regularly chanting also met any attempt at fascist speeches with a barrage of shouts, rhythmic clapping, whistles and booing. Consequently, although the speakers were visible to the antifascists albeit at a distance, the content is known only from media reports.

The speakers were Mick “Chopper” O’Keefe, Rowan Croft (“Tan” Torino)2 and Justin Barrett. According to The Beacon, Barrett claimed that the Government is altering the death figures in relation to COVID-19 in order to justify its actions and that that the virus is part of a wider agenda on the part of “international finance capital”3 to destroy the world’s economies. Barrett insisted that the “restrictions are here to stay” as part of the economy-destroying agenda.

(Photo source: Rebel Breeze)
(Photo source: Rebel Breeze)
(Photo source: Rebel Breeze)

Prior to the event, on social media the NP cautioned its supporters to be friendly towards the Gardaí: “The Gardaí know the reds are scum, remember the migration compact protest: the Gardaí were having the banter with us, they had their batons out for the reds. We need to maintain that dynamic.”

(Photo source: Rebel Breeze)

According to the Beacon, Barrett, who beats the law-and-order drum, told the Gardai “you are of us and we are of you”.

(Photo source: Rebel Breeze)

FASCISTS CHASED AND REPORTING

After mocking the fascists as they left, the antifascists marched off in apparently the opposite direction, then swung around to pursue the NP supporters. Apart from the Garda circle around the latter, they also threw up a cordon against the antifascists at the Nasseau Street junction with Kildare Street.

The main body of antifascists turned then and marched through the city centre chanting “Fascist scum off our streets” to applause from some bystanders, then rallied at the GPO. Gardaí reported two arrests and it is known that they arrested an antifascist in Moore St for having allegedly confiscated a POU cap back in Molesworth Street. There are rumours that a few unguarded fascists were also met by antifascists to the dismay of the former but these have not been confirmed.

Media reporting varied, from a wildly inaccurate account in Dublin.Live to RTÉ’s equating of both groups on the same level, with the Irish Times giving the very erroneous impression that the NP were as eager to get to grips with the antifascists as the antifascists were with them.

Commenting on the events in a statement later, Anti-Fascist Ireland said: “The NP event was a failed attempt to use current Covid-19 restrictions as a rallying point to attract unsuspecting members of the public who may hold genuine grievances with the lockdown.”

Quoting the London-based Anarchist antifascist Albert Meltzer (1920-1996) “there’s no such thing as a fascist march – only a police march”4 the statement referred to” the massive Garda operation required to ensure the larger anti-fascist mobilisation was kept away from the underwhelming fascist presence.”

Referring to the recent fascist boast of about ‘controlling’ the streets of Dublin, the AFA statement commented that “they seemed genuinely shocked and scared by the sight of hundreds of working-class anti-fascists in Dublin today” and reported that “A nervous Torino was spotted leaving the vicinity immediately after his rant and did not even stay around for Justin Barret’s rambling long speech.”

The statement pointed out that the NP oppose the use of masks to prevent the spread of Covid19 and that their supporters disregard any restrictions. “We know that huge numbers of our supporters did not take to the streets today out of concern for the most vulnerable in society”, the statement continued. Those of us out today did so out of a sense of necessity and true patriotism to protect our country from their dangerous and toxic ideologies.”

The statement concluded: “AFA Ireland is a militant anti-fascist organisation formed in 1991. We believe in physically and ideologically confronting fascism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head. As always, we encourage all anti-fascist minded people across the island to reach out to us and work together in a militant, disciplined movement against fascism. Profound thanks again to all our members and supporters in the republican, socialist, grassroots, LGBTQ+ and trade union movements.

Beir Bua. La Lucha Continúa. No pasarán.”

FAILURE OF THE LEFT FACILITATED GROWTH OF THE FAR-RIGHT

The National Party is one of a number of similar organisations and parties that make up the Far-Right in the 26 Counties (in addition there are the Loyalists in the Six Counties). There are also the Irish Freedom Party led by Herman Kelly, Síol na hÉireann led by Niall McConnell, QAnon led by Dee Wall (real name Dolores Webster) – who was at the NP rally, Anti-Corruption Ireland led by Gemma O’Doherty and Irish Yellow Vests, led by Glen Miller and Ben Gilroy (who also has his own promotion through the Tiger Reborn FB page). Despite their wide representation on social media, most of these are tiny groups which is why until recently they have been banding together at a number of events and in particular participating in events organised by the more popular Irish Yellow Vests. The IYV have been making a comeback since they fizzled out a couple of years ago after the Islamophobia of Miller, opportunism of Gilroy and racism of some of their supporters was exposed.

The failure of the Irish Left to mount a comprehensive resistance to the attacks of the Irish ruling class on working people over the years and, in particular, its failure to construct an adequate response to the Covid19 pandemic and to the Government’s handling of it has proved a boon to the ‘Vests and they have provided platform and marching space for all the other parts of the Far-Right, including the obvious fascists, but also attracting a number of innocent but confused people.

Recently the ‘Vests have been trying to clean up their image a bit by dumping the likes of O’Doherty, despite having using her notoriety up to now, along with the parties led by Barrett, McConnell and Kelly. And a report in the Examiner recently suggested that the State wished to assist the Vests in gaining popularity, as the report quoted unnamed senior Garda sources alluding to their alleged investigation of the “penetration” of the anti-mask movement “by fascist organisations”. If this is so however, the Gardaí on Saturday seemed to have not yet received the message – unless it was just their old prejudice against Republicans and the Left coming into play.

The media reported that Gardaí were going to “investigate the organisers” of the NP event (pretty obvious really!) and of the antifascist counter-protest. This is a ritual verbal response from a police force which has left the weekly QAnon protest outside the GPO unmolested from the very start of the Covid19 restrictions, while they harassed Debenhams workers’ pickets around the corner in Henry Street and their Special Branch did the same to political prisoner solidarity pickets further down O’Connell St.

End.

LGBT and Irish Tricolour flown among the antfascists. (Photo source: Rebel Breeze)

FOOTNOTES

1A reference to the fascist movement in 1930s Ireland, the leader of which was the former first Commissioner of the Free State Gardaí.

2Rowan Croft nicknamed himself the “Gran Torino” but has been nicknamed “Tan Torino” by opponents due to his past service in the British Army and possibly also due to his participating in a panel, along with Herman Kelly, with notorious fascist and British Loyalist Jim Dowson.

3This term in the past has been and today too is often a coded expression of anti-semitism and Barrett has let slip some remarks indicating in that direction.

4Based on the experience of antifascists when fascist marches are accompanied or even led by police, as for example in London at Cable Street in 1936 and Lewisham in 1977.

REFERENCES & LINKS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Antifascist Action Ireland: https://www.facebook.com/afaireland

Dublin Republicans Against Fascism: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Political-Organization/Dublin-Republicans-Against-Fascism-104013457786981/

RTE: https://www.rte.ie/news/2020/1010/1170689-dublin-protests/

Radio wildly inaccurate report: https://www.dublinlive.ie/news/dublin-news/protest-dublin-city-coronavirus-lockdown-19083969?fbclid=IwAR0UDq7tF_XFclsXbm-UdBoqc5VRTDos-BA3nIsndi9mIpm4P_tmV-z1ix0

The Beacon: https://www.facebook.com/TheBeaconIrl/posts/359885528700841

Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/hundreds-clash-in-violent-exchanges-at-dublin-protest-1.4377808

Earlier report about “infiltration” in the Examiner: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40062431.html?type=amp&__twitter_impression=true&fbclid=IwAR3FCKr-5Vj3kR8q6UKSS5TczaTD0vtTNlM_om_4YDBjeyr3bY44RC14PG4

RIVAL MANDARINS FIGHTING IN DUBLIN

Cycling through Griffith Park off the Mobhi Road, after a walk in the nearby Botanic Gardens, a flurry of wings and a flash of colours attracted my attention.  Three birds came down with a splash into the Tolka.

Rival males and female on a rock in the Tolka.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

You don’t need to be any kind of expert to identify the Mandarin Duck, especially the males and that’s what two of those birds were.  The dowdier third one was the female.

I have often noted two male mallard ducks peacefully accompanying one female and wondered whether they had a menage-a-trois going or what the arrangement was.  But there was nothing like that going on with the Mandarins as the males made clear quite quickly.  After briefly circling around one another they were quickly into fisticuffs (or beak-and-wing-cuffs), scuffle-splashing, clucking insult or challenge, until the rival to the established male would take to the wing either for a break or to get next to the female.  In the latter case, the male would take to the air also, in pursuit.

The female?  She swam demurely apart waiting for the victor.

The female Mandarin Duck in the Tolka.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

There was clearly one established male who for the moment was the dominant one but the rival kept coming back while I was watching and they were still at it when I left.  The established one has the psychological dominance factor on his side, which is a strong advantage but it is by no means a guarantee of success.  The rival might wear him down.  Or the established one might become injured.  Being a male and keeping one’s bird is not easy.

Rivals circling briefly in mid-water prior to another scuffle on the river.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

According to Charles Darwin, genders of many species but many birds in particular have become colour-differentiated through part of the evolutionary process described as sexual selection (The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871).  This has reached amazing and one might say even bizarre though beautiful extremes with such birds as the peacock and the bird of paradise.

Darwin’s ideas make more sense than other explanations being proposed but it is nevertheless hard to credit that a female’s appreciation of colour, shape and behaviour would so impress upon the male the need to flaunt gaudy colour and shape in direct contravention of the need to survive predators by NOT calling such attention to himself.  Still, there is no other viable contender explanation around (as distinct from the Mandarin contender, who may still be biding his time or pressing his suit, which if the established male has anything to say about it, is all he is going to press).

Established male with female on rock and the rival that won’t give up. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Aix galericulata is the Latin species name and the only other species in the Aix genus is the North American Wood duck.  A chromosome in the Mandarin makes hybridisation between the two impossible.

Mandarin Ducks originate in East Asia but have been kept in Europe in aviaries and in ponds and lakes.  Stephens Green used to have some, along with many other kinds of wildfowl, until the OPW allowed the Herring Gulls to take over to the extent that they have.  I have not seen them do it but would not be in the least surprised if the gulls ate the chicks of many of the waterfowl species until they died out or took off somewhere else.

However, there have been feral Mandarin populations in Ireland for some time, notably in Co. Down and in Wexford and pairs may be establishing themselves in other places, including in the Glasnevin/ Drumcondra area, based around the Tolka (and perhaps the Royal Canal).

The Mandarin is a perching duck and this kind have feet capable of grasping a branch.  They build their nests in hollows in trees which is good for the safety of the nesting female and the eggs.  But what of the chicks or ducklings?  As we know, ducklings take to the water long before they can fly.  So what can these ducklings in tree hollows, many feet from the ground, do?  They simply jump.  A veritable leap into the unknown.

When they hit the ground, which at first sight seems to ensure they have broken practically every bone in their little bodies or a least concussed themselves and messed up their insides, they bounce a little, get up and waddle to their mother.  Yes, she called them out, which is why they came.

One needs to see the process to believe and I have included some Youtube links.  It would seem at first that they need soft leaf litter or water in which to land but one of the links I have posted shows Mandarin ducklings jumping from a nestbox on to bare stone — and getting up, apparently unhurt.  It is difficult to understand, even with accounting for the relationship of weight to surviving a fall.  We probably know that we can drop lots of insect species on to the ground and they don’t get hurt but the principle goes farther — apparently a mouse can survive a fall from a great height (unless a hawk gets it on the way down, or a cat is waiting below); conversely a fall of four foot on to its feet can kill an elephant (so it is said — I have not actually tried this with elephants but I have inadvertently confirmed the mouse theory).

Often invasive species should not be welcomed as they upset the natural ecological balance.  The grey squirrel in the nearby Botanic Gardens, originally from the USA, may be cute but it is helping to wipe out the native red species.  And that’s just one of the invasive species of animal and plant that are causing problems in Ireland (see https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/the-scent-of-intruders/).  On the other hand, the widely-distributed Red Valerian (also with white and pink varieties) does not seem to be causing any problems and it is difficult to see how the Mandarin can become a serious problem either.  But of course, one does not know for sure.  It can be stated that the populations so far established in Britain and in Ireland do not seem to have caused any ecological problems.  And it is true that we don’t have many dense woods in Ireland anywhere (thanks to certain human invaders in our history), least of all close to slow-flowing water, although some species have shown remarkable adaptability, witness in these climes the rat, fox, pigeon, herring gull and, of course, homo sapiens.

One of the curious things about the Mandarin is the name we have for it.  Apparently, it is a Portuguese word for the Chinese government bureaucrats in existence when the Portuguese first began to trade with them (before they and other Europeans decided to invade China and confiscate areas, in particular ports and islands).  How they became associated with the duck was not revealed in my short internet search.

However, in China and in Korea the mandarin duck is associated with fertility, good fortune and constancy in monogamy, so that it is often presented as a wedding gift, either as living pairs or symbolically in an ornament.  It is not currently considered an extermination-threatened species.

End.

Video links (second one is of merganser ducklings and is even more impressive):

https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Other information sources:

Mandarin duck unlikely invader | Irish Examiner

21 Facts on Mandarin Duck – Tweetapedia – Living with Bird

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

THE MOORE STREET TERRACE — A WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Diarmuid Breatnach

The terrace of houses in Moore Street, No.s 10–25, in the Irish capital of Dublin, much in the news of late, is of great importance to the world and should be recognised as such by Irish people and internationally. The terrace is of great importance in terms of being

  • an urban WWI battlefield

  • of opposition to imperialist war

  • of the struggle of the working class

  • of women’s struggle for equality 

  • of the struggle of the world’s people against colonialism and

  • a surviving centuries-old European street market.

In this article I intend to develop this argument and these points.

In the closing days of Easter Week, in the cancelled and hurriedly rescheduled Easter Rising in Dublin, after five days of fighting, siege and a number of days of artillery bombardment, the garrison of the General Post Office, the Headquarters of the Rising, evacuated their burning building and occupied a terrace of sixteen houses in Moore Street. They broke into No.10 and tunneled from house to house up to No.25, until the whole of the terrace and back yards had been occupied.

Meanwhile, a charge of a dozen Volunteers on the British Army barricade at the northern end of that street, at the junction with Parnell Street, had failed to reach its objective; machine-gun fire had injured some and killed others. The leader of that charge, mortally wounded in a side-street, wrote a note to his wife as he lay dying there (the words are reproduced on a plaque in the laneway named after him: O’Rahilly Parade).

That history, and of it as a market in childhood memory, is what engages many people — perhaps most – of those campaigning for the preservation of that terrace of houses and of the thousands who support their efforts. But there are aspects of international importance to that 1916 Rising not usually alluded to and which deserve to be noted, celebrated and commemorated.

A RISING AGAINST WORLD WAR

James Connolly, the revolutionary socialist or communist and trade union leader, had been calling for an uprising for years and his public exhortations intensified with the onset of WWI. A section of the Irish Republican Brotherhood was also anxious to engineer an uprising during that War — “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity” was a well-known saying among Irish nationalists. But for Connolly, the issue was much more than that – the dispute between some capitalists about which of them would control the Earth’s resources and markets was sending millions to die, workers fighting workers in battlefields in which the instigators of the slaughter would never set foot. While millions died, those big capitalists would continue to make great profits, supplying armies with weapons, transport and equipment, fuel, clothing, food …..

A declaration of war against war -- banner on the old Liberty Hall, HQ of the Irish Transport & General Workers' Union. A parade of a section of the Irish Citizen Army is drawn up in front of it. (Photo from Internet)
A declaration of war against war — banner on the old Liberty Hall, HQ of the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union. A parade of a section of the Irish Citizen Army is drawn up in front of it. (Photo from Internet)

A few years earlier, an international socialist conference had threatened revolution on their capitalist masters should they dare to start a world war. Indeed, some revolutionary socialists saw war as an opportunity to instigate socialist revolution. Unfortunately they were outnumbered by social democrats who, despite their earlier militant words, when it came to the crunch, lined up the workers of each country behind their capitalist masters against their own class brothers in other countries.

There were few socialist parties and prominent socialists that took the opposite stand but one of those who did was James Connolly. Among the other things that characterised the 1916 Rising was that it was the first significant uprising of the 20th Century against World War. The next uprisings of that kind would be the 1917 Revolutions of February and October in Russia, with another in Germany in 1918.

IRISHWOMEN”

The Proclamation of the insurgents in 1916 addressed itself to “Irishmen and Irishwomen”. Although not one of the seven signatories was a woman, there were a number of them prominent in the command structures of the Rising and in the preparations also. And also of course in the lower ranks during the Rising itself.

Constance Markievicz (nee Gore-Booth) of the ICA was, despite her planter family and quasi-aristocratic background, third-in-command of the Stephens Green/ College of Surgeons area. Kathleen Lynne, also of the ICA was Chief Medical Officer for the Dublin insurrectionary forces and third in command in the Dublin Castle/City Hall garrison. It was at the premises of Cumann na mBan founder member Jenny Wyse-Power, No.21 Henry Street, that the 1916 Proclamation was signed in secret a week before the Rising.

Constance Markievicz, Irish Citizen Army, second-in-command of the Stephen's Green/ College of Surgeons garrison
Constance Markievicz, Irish Citizen Army, second-in-command of the Stephen’s Green/ College of Surgeons garrison

Kathleen Clarke was de facto a member of the IRB, work and powers delegated to her on the eve of the Rising by her husband, Tom Clarke, one of the architects of the Rising and first of the seven signatories. Elizabeth O’Farrell was one of the Cumann na mBan nurses accompanying the men in the GPO and one of three to proceed to occupy Moore Street; she carried the short truce communications to the British and back to the leaders on the Rising surrender day, accompanied Pearse to the surrender point in Parnell Street and then carried Pearse’s and Connolly’s surrender instructions to a number of garrisons in Dublin. And Winifred Carney, James Connolly’s secretary, was in the GPO and later Moore Street with her typewriter and a Webley revolver.

Winifred Carney was the first woman into the GPO, accompanying Connolly and carrying a typewriter and a Webley revolver
Winifred Carney was the first woman into the GPO, accompanying Connolly and carrying a typewriter and a Webley revolver

It is difficult for us today perhaps to realise how progressive it was for any general public document 16 years into the 20th Century to address itself specifically to “Irishwomen”. No country in the whole world had given all its women the right to vote by 1916 although the suffragette movement was in full flow throughout most of Europe and in the European colonies. While it is true that New Zealand gave European women the right to vote as far back as 1893, it was for European settlers only and also linked to a reform movement against the sale and consumption of alcohol. Elsewhere in the world outside the colonial Antipodes and the Scandinavian democracies, the extension of the franchise to women did not seem close in 1916. Nevertheless, in Canada, women got the vote in 1917 – but again, women of European descent only. In Britain, women did not receive full rights to vote until 1928. Yet in a large part of the United Kingdom, a cross-section of people making a bid for independent nationhood, were ostensibly recognising women as citizens with equal voting rights as early as 1916.

Given the preponderance of males in all organisations of all shades of Republican and Nationalist outlook, the inclusion of women in the address had to have been agreed by the men in the top leadership. No doubt women, through their agitation for full franchise as well as by their active participation in so many facets of the movement, helped to convince the men. Connolly is often credited with responsibility for this inclusion but there is no reason to believe others among the signatories would not have taken that position themselves (although Kathleen Clarke did allege that one of those would not). Patrick Pearse had previously supported the vote for women and a number of men in the leadership had female partners who were active on that issue, as for example was Grace Gifford, Joseph Plunkett’s fiancee. The 1916 Proclamation was the first insurrectionary proclamation of the 20th Century (and almost first ever) to specifically include women in its address on a basis of gender equality.

The participation of women in the Rising however had a much sharper illustration than their inclusion in the Proclamation – they were present in most of the fighting posts throughout the Rising, whether as members of Cumann na mBan or of the Irish Citizen Army – several were killed or injured, many were arrested and one was sentenced to death (though sentence was commuted later).

The participation of Cumann na mBan made the 1916 Rising the first uprising of the 20th Century (and probably prior to that) in which women participated in their own organisation, in their own uniform.

The participation of women in the Irish Citizen Army, where they shared equal status with men, made the 1916 Rising the first uprising of the 20th Century (and almost first ever) in which women participated in an armed and uniformed organisation, and in equal status with their male comrades.

HOPE AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE PEOPLE OF THE COLONIES

The British Empire in 1916 was huge – around 13 million square miles of territory in 1916, nearly a quarter of the world’s area. It was said that the “sun never set” upon the Empire because at any moment during 24 hours, some part of the Empire would be receiving light from the sun. Around 450 million people were under the Empire’s dominion.

Map of the British Empire in 1914 (of course the British ruling class had dominant influence over many other areas, for example over much of Latin America). (Image sourced from Internet)
Map of the British Empire in 1914 (of course the British ruling class had dominant influence over many other areas, for example over much of Latin America).
(Image sourced from Internet)

And of course, there had been resistance. Even after resistance had been beaten, there had been further uprisings – in fact, some areas such as that of the present-day Afghanistan were in almost constant rebellion. But rebellions were mostly localised and even when they took on a more sweeping character, such as the Mahdist War of 1881-’89 in the Sudan or the Boxer Uprising in northern China in 1900, they had been crushed by British military might.

The news of the Easter Rebellion in Dublin ran around all parts of the British colonial world, from the nearer to the most remote. And some of the news was carried by the Irish in the British armed forces. Tom Barry, later to be undefeated guerrilla leader in the War of Independence in West Cork, read about the Rising while serving in the British Army in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). The Connaught Rangers, hundreds of which were to mutiny in India in 1920, were also in Mesopotamia in 1916. These Irish units of the British Army and Irish men in British units serving outside the United Kingdom, served not just next to English, Welsh and Scottish soldiers but also next to soldiers drawn from colonial peoples; they were often serviced too by colonial people in auxiliary roles and mixed to a degree with the colonial populations among which they were stationed, in markets, eating houses, bars and sex-houses. Just four years later, during the mutiny of the Connaught Rangers, it is recorded that Irish rebels in British Army uniforms had communicated their mutiny and their reasons to the Indian traders.

The 1916 Rising took place in what had been considered, the previous century, the second city of the British Empire. Now past those ‘glory days’, Dublin was still a city of the Empire’s “home base”, the United Kingdom. And the Empire’s Army had been obliged to shell one of the UK’s own cities in order to suppress that Rising! To many a colonial subject contemplating resistance or even outright revolt, it must have seemed like a signaling bonfire, one that proclaimed that the end of the Empire was nigh and called the peoples under subjugation to revolt, to finish it off. And, indeed during the War of Independence, the Nehru and Ghandi families were to make contact with Irish Republicans and Ho Chi Minh is reported to have been inspired by the Irish struggle.

Nor was it only those colonial people in the British Empire who were inspired but those in the French, Dutch, Belgian, Portuguese and Spanish colonies too. Ho Chi Minh, as a Vietnamese, was under the French empire and led his people in armed resistance to the Japanese and French occupation in 1941. Over the three decades following the Easter Rising, anti-colonial struggles around the world intensified and pushed the former colonial powers into “de-colonisation” — i.e. imperialism and neo-colonialism.

WORKERS OF THE WORLD

The Irish Citizen Army had been founded in 1913 as a workers’ armed organisation to defend against the attacks of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The DMP carried no firearms then, though they were well able to kill and maim with their truncheons, a fact they demonstrated during the 1913 Lockout. But it was clear that Connolly at least knew that at some point the workers would come up against the full force of the State which, at that time, meant the British empire and the Colonial regime in Ireland. He called publicly for the ICA to train in and to carry firearms. The Royal Irish Constabulary, policing the rest of the colony outside Dublin, was indeed armed. And British Army units were stationed across the country, many of the garrisons in Dublin alone.

The ICA fell into a kind of disrepair after the workers’ defeat in the Lockout but was soon enough dusted off and reorganised. WWI began the same year the last striking workers of the Lockout, the Jacobs girls and women, marched back to work. It was certain that Connolly would try to stage a rising during the war and suspected that the Republicans, or “advanced nationalists” as they were called then, would do so too. As the war dragged on and the bodies heaped higher, Connolly grew increasingly impatient, contemptuous and even desperate, berating the “nationalists” for not rising and threatened to bring out the couple of hundred ICA on their own.

Irish Citizen Army on the roof of Liberty Hall during a flag-raising activity (Photo sourced from Internet)
Irish Citizen Army on the roof of Liberty Hall during a flag-raising activity
(Photo sourced from Internet)

But the Irish Republican Brotherhood had been planning to rise and in late January 1916, alarmed by Connolly’s threats, brought him into secret negotiations. When he emerged a few days later after what many thought had been his kidnapping, he had been sworn into the IRB and was part of the Military Council, planning the Rising for the Easter weekend. And that would mean that the ICA would also commit to the Rising.

On Easter Monday morning, around 220 men and women of the Irish Citizen Army marched out of Liberty Hall or mobilised elsewhere in Dublin. Two of the important fighting areas in Dublin were given over to their command, Dublin Castle and Stephens Green. ICA members fought elsewhere too, including the GPO. One account has them as the first to occupy the top of the GPO’s roof and another as hoisting the “Starry Plough” on top of William Martin Murphy’s Imperial Hotel in Clery’s building (the last flag of the Rising to remain flying). At least one was killed in the fighting evacuation of the GPO and a number took part in the occupation of the 1916 Terrace in Moore Street. The 1916 Rising was the first occasion of the 20th Century when a workers’ unit rose in their own units, in their own uniforms and under their own commanders.

SURVIVING STREET OF A CENTURIES-OLD MARKET QUARTER

Authorisation was granted for the development of a market in the Moore Street area by the Dublin and General Markets Act of 1831. But the Act mentioned the location as being around “Coles Lane market”, which means there was already a street market in the area. It is probable that street trading had been going on in that area for centuries before that. Moore Street was something of a modern street of its time in the area, laid down around 1763 (and, it is worth noting, before the Great Hunger and earlier than the city’s main street, O’Connell Street), mainly as a residential street with some businesses. In following decades Moore Street would become the main street of a whole market area which included the aforementioned Coles Lane along with many other streets, laneways, cul-de-sacs (“turnings”) and mews.

The streets and lanes of the old street market quarter now buried under the ILAC (Image cropped by Save Moor Street From Demolition from J Roques Map 1754, sourced on Internet)
The streets and lanes of the old street market quarter now buried under the ILAC (Image cropped by Save Moor Street From Demolition from J Roques Map 1754, sourced on Internet). In 1754 the street across the top was called “Great Britain Street” but by 1916 it had been renamed “Parnell Street”.

All of that was demolished and buried by the 1970s ILAC “development” of Irish Life ltd.(later joined by  Chartered Land, which dispossessed the households, shops, stalls and workers for a paltry compensation, to the benefit not only of the ILAC partners but also of Dunne’s Stores and Debenhams. All that remains of that street market quarter is Moore Street, with street traders struggling in difficult circumstances to make a living, harassed by Dublin City Council officials, along with small shops, granted short leases or expensive longer ones by Chartered Land or the ILAC – and under constant threat of demolition or of ILAC expansion.

CONCLUSION

Since the 1916 Rising has all those aspects of international importance listed above, clearly the Moore Street terrace also embodies them all, being the last fighting place of the Rising’s HQ garrison and containing around 300 men of the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish Volunteers and three members of Cumann na mBan.

On the basis of those points alone, the site should be a recognised world heritage site. That the terrace and surrounding streets are, according to the National Museum of Ireland the most important historic site in modern Irish history’and ‘a surviving urban WWI battleground … beyond price’ (as stated by the Imperial War Museum) and they include the last street of a centuries-old European street market adds icing to the cake – a cake that should be made available for the world to share.

End.

Documents consulted include

  • various accounts of the 1916 Rising,

  • including biographies and Witness Statements of participants (latter now available on line),

  • along with Moore Street – the story of Dublin’s market district (2012) by Barry Kennerc and

  • Moore St: A Report (UCD 1974)

  • When I first wrote and published this article, though I knew about some Indian and Irish revolutionary connections, I was unaware of some very strong other connections about which I have just been made aware:  https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/the-moore-street…ld-heritage-site/ ‎E