Ireland Anti-Internment Campaign
(Reading time main text: 5 mins.)
2022 was a busy year for the anti-internment campaign organisation, involving, along with its public awareness-rising events, a reorganisation with a new constitution, a new name and expansion of membership.
The formation of an anti-internment campaign was sparked by the revoking of the licence of ex-political prisoner Marian Price in May 2011 for the “crime” of steadying the written speech of an IRA speaker during a windy Easter Rising commemoration in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast.
In addition to revocation of the licence under which Republican prisoners were released under the Good Friday Agreement, other activists were also being charged under “anti-terrorist” legislation and routinely being refused bail, if not granted it under severe restrictions.
The wait for a trial is often two years and regardless of the eventual outcome, the individuals had already spent two years in jail or at home, barred from travel or political activity and harassed by police visits to their homes.
These conditions were considered to be in effect the same as internment without trial and the campaign against internment was founded as an independent one, a status it maintained despite a number of attempts to take it over or to intimidate with threats and State harassment.
Throughout its history the Anti-Internment Campaign has organised the annual Newry event (not since 2021 unfortunately), many pickets (including in protest against Amnesty Ireland) and a march in Dublin, spoken at or participated in public events in Belfast, Cork, Derry, Glasgow and Wexford.
It has also organised and hosted conferences and public meetings, for example with speakers from the campaigns for the Craigavon Two, Munir Farooqi and Tony Taylor and about the Right to Protest with a speaker from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
A busy year
As stated in the introduction above, 2022 was a busy year for the anti-internment campaign group, involving, along with its public awareness-rising events a reorganisation with a new constitution and a new name. The campaign organised nine public events and participated in more.
Most of those public events were awareness-raising pickets with placards, banners, flags and leaflet distribution. Usually the pickets alternated between the Henry Street/ Liffey Street junction and at Crown Alley by the square in the Temple Bar area, both areas busy with shoppers and tourists.
The campaign carried out pickets in Henry Street on 9th April, 6th August and 19th November and in Temple Bar on 5th March, 21st May, 2nd July and 27th August. On 22nd October, with a special focus on Palestinian prisoners, we were on the iconic Ha’penny Bridge.
It has always been of particular interest to the campaign group to reach working people and large numbers of that class of all ages pass through those areas. Of interest also are people from other lands and the Basque and Palestinian flags alongside the Irish ones often stimulate discussion.
In September the campaign attended the Peter Daly commemoration in Wexford and provided a speaker at the Dublin meeting to re-launch the End State Repression campaign which our group had supported in the past but which had waned over the Covid epidemic period since.
Our campaign group also took part in the planning of and participation in the joint prisoner’s solidarity picket in Dublin on 17th December 2022.
It had been clear for some time that the organisation was in need of reorganisation to facilitate expansion but the process had been difficult.
Eventually in July the decision was taken to close down the Anti-Internment Group of Ireland and to reform under another name. This was done and, after democratic consultation process a new constitution was agreed, with the Ireland Anti-Internment Campaign as the new name.
According to agreed decisions, a new banner with the organisation’s new name was commissioned (though it would take some time to come to fruition). A new Facebook identity for the group was constructed with a statement explaining the development.
The new constitution, more explicitly democratically-based than had been previously the case, was published.
In the reorganisation process, the IAIG lost one member but gained three new activists and the return of two lapsed members. With renewed energy, members began planning for the rest of the year, to conclude with participation in the annual Bloody Sunday March for Justice in Derry.
Issuing a statement to explain the reorganisation, commissioning a new banner, scheduling a number of pickets in Dublin and organising the annual Prisoners’ Solidarity Picket in Dublin December were part of the planning and most of the target actions were completed.
In December and in good time, the campaign’s members organised to purchase, sign and mail Christmas cards to all Irish Republican prisoners, also a number of non-complying Basque political prisoners and the Catalan jailed revolutionary Catalonian rapper Pablo Hasel.
The proposal to organise the annual Prisoners’ Solidarity picket in December jointly with the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association and with Ireland Anti-Imperialist Action was agreed and the joint event went ahead on 17th December with around 40 participating.
The picket with placards and banners, including the illuminated words of the IAIC’s “SAOIRSE” (“Freedom”) attracted attention and passers-by, both Irish and from abroad engaged leafleters and other participants in discussion. A speaker from each group gave a short statement.
The year’s programming ended with the specific scheduling of participation with a new banner in the annual Bloody Sunday March for Justice in Derry.
New Banner Aired at Bloody Sunday March for Justice in Derry
The new banner got its first public airing at the annual march in Derry, commemorating the massacre of unarmed civilians by the British Army in Derry in January 1972 and was carried as part of the march from the Creggan, through a large part of Derry and down to Free Derry Corner.
The marchers in different political parties, campaign organisations and independent individuals marched trough cold rain and strong wind-gusts through the nearly 5-kilometre walk. The members of four Republican Flute Bands played bravely throughout.
The IAIC will shortly begin its year-planning for the rest of the year, its calendar again probably ending at 2024’s Bloody Sunday March for Justice and meanwhile organising events to publicise the on-going undemocratic jailing of activists without trial both sides of the British Border.
The IAIC considers that the jailing of people without trial by both administrations is, in addition to political repression, a significant assault on civil rights and a threat to all opposition groups and that it is in the interests of all to unite in opposing the practice.
The Campaign welcomes the active support of all democratically-minded individuals at its public events.
Ireland Anti-Internment Campaign:https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063166633467