12 March 2004
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
1) The Blanket, Eamonn McCann, and the Use of Language
2) Media Management?
3) Thousands to Die of Cancer Because They're Poor
4) Why the War on Iraq Was Wrong
5) Arrest on the Anti War Demo
6) Museum at Long Kesh
7) Statement from the Irish National Teachers' Organisation
8) On European Union Constitution
9) What's On?
Last week we published an article on the Miners strike and attributed
it to (PM from Socialist Action)
Of course that was a serious error it should have read Socialist
Our apologies to both PM and Socialist Appeal.
(The editor has been sentenced to reading Eamon McCann's Book "War
and An Irish Town" three times before next Tuesday night!!!!)
The Blanket, Eamonn McCann, and the Use of Language
On the 7th of March, The Blanket
entitled "Ardoyne Suicides" by the journalist Eamonn McCann. At no
stage since the whole issue of suicides in Ardoyne blew up did Eamon
McCann approach the Republican Socialist Movement to hear its side of
the story in relation to what was happening in the area. That does
not surprise us. Regularly the Sunday World prints a whole series of
lies about our movement and rarely tries to get our side of the
story. The journalist Eamonn McCann used to work for the Sunday
World, so maybe he learnt bad journalist habits there.
In his article in the Blanket, McCann refers to the "Irish National
Liberation Army" and he uses speech marks around the name. However
when we checked his writings about other armed groups we found that
he referred to both the Provisional IRA and the Real IRA without
speech marks (Socialist Worker, Issue 208). Of course the purpose of
the speech marks was to question the validity of the INLA and later
on in his article he refers to "INLA gangs" and "to guttersnipes with
He also peddles the lie that one of the young suicide victims was
subjected to "prolonged vicious beating by an INLA gang". He also
finds it hard to believe that the local community had pressurised the
INLA to take action against those engaged in anti-social behaviour.
For the record, the INLA is approached in a lot of areas, including
Derry, to take action against "hoods." I wonder what Eamonn would do
with the hoods in Derry who tried to set a young fellow on fire
recently. Give them a copy of Tony Cliff's book, "State Capitalism"?
Eamonn talks about "self worth". Fine. Does he think that his
negative references to the INLA will persuade anyone in that
organisation to listen to his voice? Denigrating and belittling
people and organisations on the basis of false media reporting, half
truths, and a concerted campaign by pro-Agreement people to discredit
the INLA will not cut any ice with those living in working class
areas suffering from a reign of terror from hoods.
We know that the volunteers in the INLA acted from the best of
motives in doing what they did. But the IRSP has said both publicly
and privately to them that a number of their actions were wrong. We
have exerted our influence to change their way of dealing with
problems. In fact we have been working on this from long before
Eamonn McCann and his media cronies discovered Ardoyne and suicide.
(Those who wish to know the details can contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
McCann is also being simplistic about the issue of funding. A large
slice of peace funding has been going into Ardoyne creating jobs for
pro-Agreement elements. There is also a Community Restorative Justice
scheme in the area perceived to be too closely associated with one
pro-Agreement party. Some people believe that the end result of such
funding is only to cement the electoral machine of some politicians
and tie them in more firmly to the whole process of pacification.
Perhaps some enterprising journalist will actually conduct proper
investigative journalism into this whole area.
We have been trying to encourage people to take responsibility for
their own community and we see that as part of the process of
empowering the working class to begin to take control of the state
and begin the task of building a socialist society. Members of our
movement have made mistakes and our organisation has made mistakes in
the past. No doubt we will make mistakes in the future.
But we will not equivocate about imperialism. Recently at the so-
called "Left Convention" in Derry, I was accused of personally
attacking Eamonn McCann after I said that the programme he was
standing on amounted to gas and water socialism. Below is his answer
in Socialist Worker to the following question: But is this not
all "gas and water socialism"? What about imperialism?
"We are unashamedly anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist. We are
actively against the occupation of Iraq and the corporate agenda,
which enforces cutbacks and privatisation across the globe. The
threat to water service jobs here and introduction of water charges
is an example. Those who see themselves as anti-imperialists should
see that this is the front to fight on for the future. The fight
against imperialism in 2003 is a fight against US-led imperialism
across the globe, or it is nothing. Those who welcome Bush as "a
friend of Ireland" position Ireland on the side of imperialism. We
reject the idea that the issues which are convulsing the world have
nothing to do with politics here. We make common cause with all
across the world struggling for the same aims. We wouldn't have taken
George Bush's hand at Hillsborough except to twist it up his back and
run him out the door."
All very fine and noble sentiments but notice what is missing? There
is no mention of British imperialism nor is there a clear call for
the defeat of USA/British troops in Iraq. Perhaps that might alienate
some of the more pacifist members of the SEA. Well, we believe that
there is an imperialist presence in Ireland and as republicans our
comrades fought and died opposing that imperialism. They did not die
for a nationalist Ireland. They died for the liberation of all the
working class from reactionary ideologies and for the establishment
of a Workers Republic here.
Words are important and Eamonn McCann has a fine way with them. He is
also a fine writer and writes exactly what he means. His words in The
Blanket effectively put him on the other side of the barricades to
ourselves. He is on the side of the guttersnipes with word-processors.
Hypothesis of Islamic attack gaining ground with al-Qaeda claim.
After saying at midday there was "no doubt" it had been ETA, by the
evening Acebes admitted that "all theories" remained open. - Imanol
Murua Uria DONOSTIA (San Sebastian)
There was one version until one o'clock: it had been ETA. There were
two contradictory versions from early in the afternoon onwards:
Arnaldo Otegi [Batasuna member] said it was not ETA, and Spanish
Interior Minister Angel Acebes, on the other hand, said that there
was no doubt whatsoever that ETA had been responsible. And from 20.15
onwards one of the versions began to carry weight, because Acebes had
begun to back down.
In his last appearance of the day the Interior Minister admitted that
all the hypotheses remained open, yet went on to say that ETA
was "the main focus of investigation"; but when he pointed out that a
tape with verses from the Koran had been discovered along with seven
detonators in a van allegedly used in the attack, he began to admit
that an Islamic organisation could have been responsible.
It was after nine o'clock when a statement claiming responsibility
signed by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades of al-Qaeda reached the
London-based daily al-Quds that credibility began to be attributed to
the theory of an Islamic attack.
Furthermore, Abdel Bari Atwan, the al-Quds editor, pointed out that
the claim looked genuine, because it resembled other claims that had
been received in the past. Spanish Government sources indicated that
they had news of the claim and that they were examining it carefully.
Nevertheless, from early in the morning the main political leaders of
Spain and the Basque Country considered that ETA had clearly been
behind the attacks.
From Basque language paper "Berria"
Thousands to Die of Cancer Because They're Poor
It is estimated that up to 3,000 people are dying from cancer every
year because of huge differences in the way the richest and poorest
patients are diagnosed and treated according to recent research in
Patients are up to five years behind the most affluent patients, if
they are from the most deprived areas of the country. Despite overall
improvements in cancer survival rates, the "deprivation gap" between
rich and poor is increasing year by year.
Patients in some parts of the country have access to treatment and
drugs denied to people in other areas.
More affluent people tended to visit their GP at an earlier stage of
their symptoms, and were more demanding about the treatment and care
they were offered. For some types of cancer, patients from the
richest fifth of society had a 17 per cent higher survival rate than
similar patients from the poorest fifth.
The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, is the first
attempt to quantify the gap in survival rates between the richest and
poorest patients. Researchers analysed more than two million people
diagnosed with the most common forms of cancer, and followed their
survival rates over three periods of five years between 1986 and 1999.
They found that while survival rates had improved across the board
and for all socio-economic groups, the "deprivation gap" had become
increasingly wide. For instance, the survival rate for rectal cancer
among men had improved by 7.4 per cent every five years. But the gap
between survival rates for the richest and poorest patients had
widened by an average of 2.4 per cent in the same period.
Men from the richest fifth of society now have a survival rate which
is 9.4 per cent higher than similar patients from the poorest fifth
For cancer of the larynx, survival rates for the most affluent men
are 17.2 per cent higher than the poorest.
Breast cancer survival rates also show wide gaps between rich and
poor patients. Women from the poorest groups have a 5 per cent
reduced survival rate compared with the richest sufferers.
On average, a 5 per cent improvement in overall survival rates for
cancer has been accompanied by a 1.5 per cent increase in
the "deprivation gap" between the richest and poorest patients.
Survival rates for the poorest patients were about five years behind
(Adapted from The Independent, 10 March '04)
Why the War on Iraq Was Wrong
The Belfast Anti-War Movement held a Public Meeting on Friday, 12th
March in Grosvenor House in Belfast. The special guest speaker was ex-
Labour MP George Galloway. Others on the panel included Eamonn
McCann - Journalist, Jamal Iweida - Belfast Islamic Centre, and
Senior Special Branch officers who wanted to know what he was going
to say at the meeting detained George Galloway for 30 minutes. In a
powerful speech he accused Tony Blair of being the biggest liar that
ever had graced number 10 Downing Street. He pointed out that Blair
had got it wrong on a number of points. There were no weapons of mass
destruction. The Iraqi people did not welcome the USA/Brit coalition.
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict had escalated. The Middle East was
now unstable. Violence was on the increase in Iraq.
Arrest on the Anti War Demo
I was arrested around a year ago at peaceful anti war demo at Belfast
City Hall. Protest turned into a lie down protest upon the appearance
of lines of armoured policemen. What ensued was an ugly scene of
police manhandling and beating peaceful protestors off the main road.
I was threatened to have my "arm snapped in fucking two" if I was to
make an effort to resist. Despite over a hundred people being removed
from the road only a select few were arrested and moreover, fewer
formally charged. I was charged with disturbing the peace and an
innocuous charge of "obstructive sitting". The D.P.P have failed for
over a year to construct a solid case against myself and the six
other protestors formally charged and even offered to drop charges of
disrupting the peace if we were to accept guilt, as well as a
caution, for the charge of obstructive sitting. Myself and the other
protestors refused this as we saw it as a means to trivialise our
actions as petty criminal deeds whilst also admonishing the police
for flaring tensions with their intimidatory tactics. We also
regarded a formal day in court as an ideal means to once again put
the anti-war case in the media with protest action on the day. A
formal court date was set for Friday the 12th of March but that the
D.P.P failed to give full disclosure of evidence to the defence thus
leaving the court date a defunct formality. There may be a chance
that the case is thrown out of court. Never the less, I call on all
comrades to spare thirty minutes at the front of the court buildings
when next we appear to take part in a demo to show solidarity for the
seven accused as well as the global anti-war/anti-imperialist
Speech on the Proposal to Have a Museum at Long Kesh, Delivered at
the Linenhall Library on Wednesday, 18th February 2004
First of all, on behalf of Teach Na Failte, the Republican Socialist
ex-prisoners association, I would like to thank Coiste for inviting
us here today. We feel that it is important that everyone who has an
interest in promoting the idea that part of the Long Kesh site be
made into a museum should have a chance to put their ideas to the
We welcome the launch of this booklet on the conference proceedings
as it brings to the attention of ordinary people what exactly is
happening to the former Long Kesh site. The inclusion of recent
photographs of the prison helps one to visualize just how badly run
down the prison site has become and just how important it is to get
this project underway, as soon as possible.
The Maze/Long Kesh prison site has played a very important part in
the recent history of the North of Ireland, from the introduction of
internment and the burning of the cages with the brutal attack on the
prisoners in the seventies, the heart attacks and the deaths, the
protests and the hunger strikes of the eighties, the political
discussion, the death of Billy Wright and other deaths, and the slow
release and the eventual closure of the prison in the nineties.
The names Long Kesh/Maze Prison and the sight of the H-Blocks have
become famous around the world. They are part of our history.
Combatants from all sides were imprisoned there. In a time of
conflict resolution a museum would help the differing traditions to
observe, understand, and learn from the past. It could be a reminder
to future generations what happened to the prisoners and how they
coped when they got there. There have been many ex-prisoners, from
both sides, who have came out of Long Kesh and then gone on to play a
major role in bringing about the ceasefires.
All sides have their own story to tell, so what better way to educate
the younger generation than to let them physically feel conditions
for themselves. It could be used much like Robbins Island, Kilmainham
Jail, and the German Underground hospital in Jersey, a place where
school trips and overseas visitors could go and experience at first
hand the lived experience of thousands of our prisoners.
Do not forget the relatives and visitors whose lives were heavily
influenced by the prison. The weekly trips, the loneliness, and all
the other hardships they endured due to their connection to the Maze.
Each and every one of those people also has a history to the prison
with their own story to tell. And what about the Prison Warders?
Surely they have their own memories. Although seen from a different
point of view, their stories and input are just as important.
Long Kesh played a major in the Troubles and that is a fact. It
cannot be allowed to be hidden and forgot all about. There are too
many different groups with their own history to let it all be
destroyed. We must remember that if the Maze/Long Kesh is destroyed
there will never be another chance like this again.
As it is on approximately only five to ten per cent of the total area
that is being proposed, then why can it not be divided up of part
Republican, part Loyalist, and part Prison system? That way the
history of all who were connected to the prison would be all-
inclusive to each of their beliefs.
Last but not least I would like to wish all involved in this venture
all the very best and hope that there will be a satisfactory outcome
for us all. Once again thank you for your invitation.
(Gerard Murray - Chair of Teach Na Failte)
STATEMENT FROM IRISH NATIONAL TEACHERS' ORGANISATION
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY
8 MARCH 2004
This International Women's Day, the INTO demands that government
prioritise the education of women in its developing world budget. We
demand that our government meets its obligations in the developing
world. We celebrate 8 March by seeking a better future for the next
generation of women.
A Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations General Assembly
is the elimination of the gender disparity in education. The set
target date is 2005 for primary and secondary education and no later
than 2015 for all levels of education.
The enrolment of girls in primary school is improving in 86 countries
out of 153 countries. Of the remaining 67 countries, only 18 have a
good chance of attaining the goal by 2015. Some 49 countries are not
expected to achieve the goal, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa.
For years, research has shown that investing in the education of
girls makes a significant contribution to the reduction of poverty.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the social return on a girl's education is
estimated at 24.3% for basic education - the highest rate in the
world. In Nigeria, according to the United Nations Population Fund, a
percentage increase in the number of girls finishing secondary school
would boost economic growth by 0.3 percent.
Notwithstanding this, each little girl is only a little girl going to
school. She has a right to be educated regardless of the economic
benefits it brings. But the same little girl can also change the
future. Increasing the number of girl's finishing school will bring
great returns. Part of the reason for this is that women are more
likely to invest in their children's health and education, which will
boost further benefits to the society.
Every year, almost 12 million children under the age of five die of
infectious diseases associated with poverty. But each year their
mothers spend in primary school lowers the risks of premature deaths
by about 8%. In Pakistan, for example, an extra year of school for
1,000 girls could prevent 60 infant deaths. In Brazil, for instance,
babies born to mothers without formal education are twice as likely
to die before the age of five.
Women and girls' education is deeply influenced by poverty, cultural
background and legal systems. Change requires political will, not
only to educate girls but also to eliminate all forms of
TAOISEACH BERTIE AHERN BACKS GERMANY AGAINST POLAND AND SPAIN ON EU
(Statement from The National Platform Research and Information Group,
24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9, Ireland) Tuesday 9 March 2004
"You cannot ask the citizens to ratify the Treaty of Nice and then
say to them that what they have ratified no longer counts for
anything before it has even come into force. How could we then ask
them to believe in what we are doing?" - Spanish Prime Minister Jose
Maria Aznar in yesterday's Le Monde
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is openly siding with Germany in pressurising
Poland and Spain to change their position on their Nice Treaty voting
rights, so as to make possible the re-founding of the European Union
on the basis of its own State Constitution.
Bertie Ahern and the diplomats of Iveagh House hope to open the way
to this at the spring EU "summit" meeting on Friday fortnight next.
By backing Germany against Poland and Spain Taoiseach Ahern is
flouting the convention that the holder of the EU Presidency should
be neutral and impartial between its Member States on issues that are
in dispute between them.
On 9 February Bertie Ahern told the German news magazine, Der Spiegel:
"Schroeder's position is sensible. The fact is that Germany has a
large population, Germany makes a large contribution to the EU - and
that must be reflected in the voting system."
On 26 January he said in Davos, Switzerland: "If people just stick
totally with Nice and don't move at all, you can't do that because
it's not going to be satisfactory to Germany. There's a fair amount
of sympathy for the German position because they are a large country,
they are a big part of the paymaster. We need to look very helpfully
at the German position. I have to try and get movement from those who
need to move and at the same time not try to put it in a way that
forces them beyond a position they can explain to their own people
and their own parliaments."
Yet Taoiseach Ahern was the man who pushed through the Nice Treaty in
this country in 2002 by saying that the voting system it proposed
was "essential" for EU enlargement, and was the best system for EU
law making in a 25-member EU!
See what Spanish Prime Minister Aznar has just said about this in his
interview in Le Monde (v. quoted passage above.)
If the EU were a single State for a single European "nation" in which
Poland, Spain, Ireland, and the other EU members were provinces, the
population-based voting system demanded by Germany and France for an
EU Constitution would be justified, for Germany's 85 million people
would entitle it to greatest influence.
IF THE EU IS NOT TO BE ONE STATE, but a partnership or alliance of
constitutionally equal states, then it is right that Poland and Spain
should have similar voting weight to Germany - indeed that smaller
countries than either of them should have that too.
Inside the virtual EU Federal State which the proposed Constitution
establishes, Germany can look forward to being joined in due time by
Turkey, with its 75 million population, whose admission to the EU
Germany champions. At present Germany and France between them have
nearly 40% of the population of an enlarged EU. Under the Draft
Constitution this would enable these two States to block whatever EU
laws they do not want and, with some allies, to push through whatever
EU measures they do want. Between them Germany and France would
effectively dominate the EU.
The population-based system for making EU laws that is proposed in
the draft EU Constitution - viz. using a 60% population headcount -
would turn the existing river of EU legislation into a flood. It
would greatly increase the volume of laws and rules coming from
Brussels. This is why the EU Commission and European Parliament
desire it, for their power derives from their role in EU law making.
The "double majority" system proposed for the Draft Constitution
would make EU laws easier to pass and therefore increase
EU "efficiency", say its supporters.
They must think people are right gobdaws to be taken in by this line
of argument, for a simple dictatorship would be more "efficient"
still in this particular sense of efficiency! If Romano Prodi were to
be made a EU dictator, so that he could issue edicts/directives that
we had to obey every quarter-hour of the day that would presumably
increase the output of EU laws.
BUT WOULD THEY BE GOOD LAWS and would they be democratic?
Bertie Ahern and Iveagh House are going all out for an agreement to
recall the Intergovernmental Conference to adopt a EU Constitution at
the EU summit meeting later this month. After all, it would give him
a flag that he could wave in next June's local elections.
Yet most Irish people - and much of the media - have not a clue what
this proposed EU Constitution entails. Bertie Ahern has called it "a
mere tidying-up exercise"; and after all are not EU matters
The proposed EU Constitution will completely repeal all the EU
treaties to date, from the Treaty of Rome (1957) to the Treaty of
Nice (2002), and re-found the EU as a new legal/political entity on
the basis of its own Constitution.
Article I-1 of the Draft Constitution states: "This Constitution
establishes the European Union." So this new European Union would
clearly be legally and politically different from the European Union
that was established by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, and which we are
currently members of.
The proposed Constitution would give legal personality and corporate
existence to the EU for the first time, separate from that of its
Member States. It would make the EU an international actor in its own
right, distinct from its component States; so the EU would sign
international treaties on their behalf, just as the US Government
signs treaties committing Idaho and California, and Germany signs
treaties covering Bavaria and Wuertemberg.
Article I-10 provides that the EU Constitution, and law made under
it, "shall have primacy over the law of the Member States", something
that has never been stated in a EU Treaty before - and implicitly in
the EU Constitution it covers all areas of public policy.
The proposed Constitution also extends EU powers into some 30 new
policy areas, one of which makes the EU Court of Justice the ultimate
decider of our human rights. It makes fundamental changes in how the
EU is run, changes that benefit the Big States - such as the proposed
60% majority population voting system and a two-tier EU Commission -
and disadvantage smaller States like Ireland.
The Draft Constitution gives the EU legally for the first time the
official symbols of a State - its own flag, anthem, motto and annual
Is not the proposed repeal of all the existing European treaties to
clear the way for a re-founding of the EU on the basis of its own
State Constitution a good opportunity to re-examine existing EU
policies - for example the EU fisheries policy, the Common
Agricultural Policy, Euratom, whether Irish should be an official EU
language, the militarization of the EU, the Brussels Commission's
mania for harmonising everything, the unwillingness to repatriate
back to national parliaments a single power that has been taken by
the EU Institutions in their 47 years' existence, despite all the
rhetoric about "subsidarity"?
Are Irish people so happy with all the existing EU policies, and so
unquestioning with regard to them, as to agree without demur to make
them part of an EU Constitution which henceforth will govern most
details of their lives, and those of their children and grandchildren?
(Tels. (O1) 8305792 /6081898)
The Wall Petition
The Wall Must Fall
Please sign and send to others: http://www.thewallpetition.com/
Socialist Alternative? A meeting with Joe Costello, Carmel Gates and
Jim Barbour - Thursday 18th March, Days Hotel, Hope Street, Belfast
Saturday March 20th-International Day of Action Against the
occupation of Iraq and Palestine Rally - 2pm Arts College, Belfast
For more information 07742 531 617 07748571269
ANTI-RACISM NETWORK EVENTS FOR ANTI-RACISM WEEK
The Anti-Racism Network has organised the following programme of
events for European Anti-Racism Week 20-27 March 2004. The theme of
these events is participation, the joint participation by minority
ethnic communities and majority ethnic communities in an interesting
and fun programme of sporting, cultural, and artistic events.
We are inviting people to take part in as many of the events as
possible. Why not get a team together among your work mates, family,
or friends and join in the basketball, it doesn't matter if you've
never played before, it's for fun! Come along and roll your sleeves
up and take part in a fun arts workshop making tiles with a
difference, anti-racist tiles! Or if music and dance is your thing
you'll enjoy the Dress for the Dance event, an evening of traditional
costume, world music and dance. We also have a film screening in
conjunction with Cineniversity: "Fear Eats the Soul" by director
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the film is about a Moroccan guest worker
in West Germany who strikes up a relationship with an older German
widow. It explores issues of racism, ageism, sexism and cultural
Join in Anti-Racism Week By participating in any of these events and
send out a positive message for cultural diversity in our society and
Join in Anti-Racism Week By participating in any of these events and
send out a positive message for cultural diversity in our society and
EVENT DATE TIME VENUE
Tile Making Workshop Saturday 20 March 10am -12.30pm Clanmil
House, Waring Street
Basketball Against Racism Saturday 20 March 12 o'clock to
4pm Malone College, Finaghy Road
Fear Eats the Soul Film Screening Monday 22 March 7.30pm
Belfast Exposed, King Street
Dress for the Dance Friday 26 March 9pm Conor Hall, Arts
College, York Street
To register your interest in participating in any of these events
simply email email@example.com.
SPEAK UP FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN OUR SOCIETY TAKE PART IN THE EVENTS
Anti Racist Network
Next meeting March 31 Multicultural Resource Centre 7pm
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Teach Na Failte Memorial Committees - A new 2004 full colour glossy
calendar is available now on the RSM online shop. It celebrates the
brilliant work undertaken by the Teach Na Failte Memorial Committees
this past year throughout the six counties with full colour
photographs on each page. This calendar can be viewed online by
clicking the link below.