The Plough #38
10 May 2004
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
1) "We, Comrades, Are It"
2) After We Torture Our Prisoners
3) Europe: Oppression in the Heart of New Europe
4) What's On?
"WE, COMRADES, ARE IT"
Address given by IRSP Ard-Chomhairle Member Terry Harkin to Fringe
Meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party:
Comrades, let me first thank you for this invitation: it is an honour
for us to be invited to address this meeting organised by the SRSM --
one of the few socialist and republican groupings left who actually
conform to standards legislation by meaning what they say on the
packet. Let's face it, if we lived in a society governed by
advertising standards there would be more than the British Labour
Party in the dock for false advertising.
But, we don't, we live in a society where a government's only reason
for being is to provide fodder for big business and novo-imperialism.
Fodder to be used, exploited, exported, burnt out, degraded, and
Comrades, we live in a world where, if governments do not provide
that fodder cheaply enough then it's no problem, other fodder can
easily be obtained from other governments who will willingly sell the
children of their land into servitude for a pittance in tax, such is
their lack of pride.
India, one of the largest and naturally richest places on the face of
the planet is reduced to selling its children into sweat shops and
call centres because its natural resources have been systematically
raped for centuries by colonial imperialists who retained their
assets and paid little or no reparations on "disengagement."
South Africa, where the diamonds and gold under an ANC government
should be the property of the people of South Africa, yet we see the
mines still in the hands of multinationals and the people of that
nation still enslaved and still digging their own resources from
their own land for strangers.
In Iraq and Afghanistan the story is much the same. Although in these
nation states the novo-imperialists have the decency to come with
painted faces, Bull Pups, or M-16s at the ready. Here they come as
mercenaries in the pay of high capitalism, resplendent in their
traditional tribal garb.
In Ireland and Scotland we know these scenarios well, it is the way
of the bully, the rule of the bigot and thief. It is the conquerors
way and we, too, have drunk from this cup. We understand it, however
what I can't understand is why? Why do we let it happen? Not you and
I here today, comrades, but we as a society. Why? The answer seems to
be simple; we let it happen because it's easy to. It's easy (but not
cheap) to dress your kids in trendy brands even though you know for
a fact they were put together for a pittance by children and other
exploited workers in some far flung place you will never see and know
the pain of.
So you're content to spend the equivalent of the average national
wage on a top, jeans, and trainers for just one of your kids. It's
easy to let your kids spend your money on Westlife CDs even though
you know that you're putting money into the pockets of those who sold
their birth right to sell records by endorsing little red paper
flowers to remember with "pride" the fallen of an army that levelled
large parts of their home town (in living memory) and who tied one of
the greatest labor leaders of all time to a chair and shot him. Like
I said before, it's easy.
When I was young, the brother of comrade Patsy O'Hara, then on hunger
strike, once told me an undeniable truth during a conversation. He
said, "Just because you have a bit of carpet and a colour TV in your
living room it doesn't mean that you're not being oppressed".
Things have changed of course, wooden floors, PCs, FSTs, and DVDs now
festoon our living rooms but in essence we are more oppressed than
ever and in our unwillingness as a society to grasp this nettle we
oppress others. Who made your shirt? How much were they paid? How
much did you pay? What was the profits margin? These are questions
every one should be asking but only a few socialists are.
Let's extrapolate that to include the world and Irish questions. The
Ronald Reagan New World Order exploits of Tony and Bush Jnr. have
reduced the world to a war zone in waiting. The hypocrisy used as a
justification to get us to this point are as frightening as the
situation itself. It seems to work something like this. First Britain
and the US sell you what they call WMD; you go off and use it for its
intended use. Then the UK and US invade your land and thieve your oil
because you used the weapons they sold you. That's nice work if you
can get it. It's true; it's cool to be Tony and Dubya. No one, not
even the UN, can stand against you. With the media moguls in your
pocket (or is that you in their pay) you can say what you want and
their hirelings will sanitise it and dumb it down or sex it up for a
population devoid of the ability or will to question the obvious
In Ireland the same tactics are employed, no one questions the
government and pro-Good Friday parties. No one seems able or willing
to look beyond the hype coming from these groups they can't get
passed worrying where the next pair of Reebok is coming from and that
is the only thing that is keeping the GFA alive.
I mean come on, what is it for? Who does it serve and just why in the
name of god are the American novo-imperialists involved? I don't even
pretend to know the answers to these questions but I do know this. It
is not for the working class in Ireland, North or South, Prod or
Taig. It is not the instrument of reunification it has been touted
as. It has copper fastened partition, enshrined in law sectarianism
to a point never dreamed of by Carson and Craigavon at the formation
of the Orange State. It has deprived the indigenous (and I do not use
that word out of context) population of the North of what little
cover offered by Articles II/III of the Republic's constitution. It
serves no one other that the artificially planted Ascendancy and
their artificial state. The reality gap on the loyalist side is very
glaring in Ireland they can't decide what to worry more about their
Britishness or the next pair of Nikes.
The English, as the Scots and Irish know well, have a decidedly funny
take on democracy. First they invade you, killing as many as they can
at the start to terrorise the others. Then they splash a bit of money
about, buy who they can, kill or forcibly evict those they can't.
Move their own people on to the land then call an election, blacken
all those who stand against them terrorists and enemies of democracy.
Sound familiar? Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Afghanistan, Iraq, and
wherever next. It's the English way, the American way, the Old
Colonial and Novo-Imperialist way. The beauty today is the same as
it's always been, because you own the media or it owns you, you get
to regurgitate all the old lines and spoon feed them to the people in
the sure belief that 90% will swallow it whole. Why, again I ask why?
And this time I'm not talking about society, I'm talking about us.
Comrades, we are the other 10%, and we are shared, marginalised,
compartmentalised, and demonised. All by our own hand. Sectarianism,
elitism, and sheer inability to work with other groups and groupings
within the left has handed victory to the enemies of the working
class time and again.
At times like this I always remember my first encounter with the SWP
some 20 years ago at Speakers Corner. It was a Bloody Sunday March
that was just forming up to move off to Kilburn High Road. Back in
those days the march went to Kilburn and the call was 'Troops Out and
Self Determination for the Irish People.' I miss the old days, but
anyway, the NF attacked the march as it was forming up and comrades
from Red Action and the Socialist Federation ran out to defend the
crowd. It was then that the SWP chose to "slog anise," "hold the
line" they said, "chant slogans" they shouted as 200 fascists
advanced and two female comrades were beaten to a pulp in front of
them. I left that day with a bitter, bitter hatred of all those on
the left who stood on the sidelines sloganeering and recruiting while
a few comrades fought every one's fight just yards away.
Fast-forward to the eve of the first Gulf War and a meeting in Conway
Mill in Belfast. Eamonn McCann, the SWP's Ireland guru, is holding
forth on how socialists should be supporting Saddam in the coming
war. Come on, Eamonn, the guy gassed the Kurds who were involved at
that time and still are involved in a legitimate liberation struggle
of their own.
In the last few years the leadership of the Irish Republican
Socialist Movement has sat down and talked to governments who have
ordered the deaths, imprisonment, torture of its membership, and
exclusion of the IRSM over the last three decades. I've sat down with
loyalists, unionist politicians, and Presbyterian clergymen and all
in an effort to move the Peace Process on beyond the GFA. In all that
time only one group, no, not the loyalists that the INLA hit harder
than any other group during the late war. Not the governments the
IRSM had sought to over throw. It wasn't even the unionists; of all
people it was the Socialist Environmental Alliance! Colin Brice, an
SWP stalwart, stood up at a recent meeting of this group an announced
to the world "while the INLA is in existence we will not work with
the IRSP". Now, I don't know who ate the cream off this comrade's bun
when he was a kid but for a man who claims to be a revolutionary to
stand up and make a statement like that it must have been bad. The
GFA is up the creek, the air is not fit to breath, people are going
to be charged for water and oh yes, there's a world war starting. So,
what do people like this do? They get all chauvinistic about who they
are going to talk too. Echoes of Spain during the Civil War or what?
Revolutionaries like that, comrades, they make me weep! That's the
SWP for you again. Let's face it, comrades, I don't like these guys,
I find them elitist arrogant hurs who systematically target, acquire,
and then proceed to burn out the brightest most promising socialists
of each generation for no perceivable gain. Don't get me wrong,
comrades, they're great folks if you want to get your placards seen
in the media but I've never met one in the house of someone who's
just been "pipe bombed." I've never seen them with their placards
when loyalist mobs are carrying out pogroms in North Belfast. Most of
them are nice people personally but I'm glad, when I sleep over in
North Belfast, that it's Connolly's sons and daughters who hold the
line at night.
However, I see the need to work with them, and God love me I probably
will have to one day. I'm using them as an analogy because of
personal experience but the process of political exclusion of other
left comrades they embody is transferable to us all at times.
I'll tell you this, comrades, we are it, we are the 10%. There is No
One Else. The excrement is on the blades of the air conditioner and
we have one hand of cards to play and we must play them between us.
Reagan's New World Order as interpreted by Dubya and Tony is coming
and it is bringing with it a war that's casualty figures will dwarf
those of the American Civil and World Wars I and II combined. Global
capitalism is marching to war and it's dragging us and the entire
working class with it.
We have no Connolly, we have no MacLean. We, comrades, are it. And we
had better be up to the task. Sectarianism within the left is worth a
million paid informers to those who benefit from our disunity. It is
their way of controlling and nullifying us. It is time for us to put
away childish notions, pick up our collective cross, and walk on.
Get in there tomorrow, comrades, and push your motion but do not be
despondent if it fails by the hand of the slackers. Their small minds
will count it a victory but they'll know full soon that their fence
is on fire and that watery lefty politics can't cut it any more when
Iraq is in flames as it will be with more and more young Scots being
sent to fight Tony's folly. Hate them for their actions, despise them
for their ineptitude but never, ever, turn your backs on them. Let us
go from here with unity in our minds and strive to build that unity
before it's too late.
AFTER WE TORTURE OUR PRISONERS
By David Rovics
We'll get rid of the dictator, rebuild your country
Make sure all your kids go to school
We'll clean up the cities, get the sewage plants running
Institute parliamentary rule
We'll bring you autonomy, senators and judges
And a shiny new blue banner
We'll bring you pride and prosperity, food in your bellies
In every home a phone, fax and scanner
After we torture our prisoners
We'll bring you decades of peace, spiritual release
Free religious expression
You can say what you want in the papers you run
We'll never force a confession
After we torture our prisoners
The oil will flow just where it should go
Across the desert and into the sea
And you'll thank your God and the CIA
That finally you are free
After we torture our prisoners
You'll all be safe with us to protect you
And keep you out of harm's way
You'll thank creation and your liberation
From the dark into a new day
After we torture our prisoners
You can all jump for joy, each girl and boy
And look boldly into the distance
You'll be so happy for all that we've done
For such invaluable assistance
After we torture our prisoners
You won't have to worry about tyrants and bullies
Now that you have sovereignty
You can hold your head high, kiss Saddam goodbye
Say hello to democracy
After we torture our prisoners
(617) 747-4460 (voicemail)
(617) 872-5124 (cell)
PO Box 995
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
[Note: Feel free to post and distribute. This is a song lyric, not
a poem. The song, with music, will eventually be available for free
download along with everything else I've recorded at
EUROPE: OPPRESSION IN THE HEART OF THE NEW EUROPE
From Workers Power Global, London
May the 1st saw 10 countries join the European Union. A big party was
held in Dublin to celebrate the event. Politicians welcomed the Czech
Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak
Republic, Malta, Cypress and Slovenia into the EU and smiled at the
greater opportunities for business.
Other parties were held in the new accession states. One Polish
businessman at the celebrations in Warsaw spoke for many when he
said: "We will no longer be second-class people from a second-class
But there is one group of people who have been second class citizens
and who will remain second class citizens in the expanded EU: they
are the Roma.
In the countries now entering the EU, the Roma face persecution from
police and racists, and discrimination in jobs, housing and in the
--In Slovakia more than 2,000 troops, the largest mobilisation since
1989, were used to put down a rebellion after Roma had their benefits
cut (see Workers Power, March 2004)
--In Hungary and Slovakia, Romani women have been sterilised without
their consent. Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights said
about the Slovakian cases that the "Roma population of eastern
Slovakia is particularly at risk".
--In the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, Romani children are
put into so-called special schools separate from mainstream
schooling. These special schools are supposedly for children with
learning difficulties, however they have become a dumping ground for
Romani children. This practice was slammed in a report from the
Hungarian government's ombudsman for minority rights. It found that
in one county in the north east of the country nine out of 10
children in special schools were Roma.
Those Roma who do attend mainstream schools are often forced out by
racism by teachers and other students. In one infamous case in 1998,
Miklós Filep, a head teacher at a Hungarian primary school,
attacked Romani children with a knife. He was awarded a medal a year
later for outstanding educational achievement.
The charity Save the Children estimates that in the Czech Republic
Romani children are 15 times more likely than non-Roma children to be
placed in special schools. This means that three out of four Romani
children are segregated in a substandard school system. Roma
organisations and human rights organisations have protested against
many of these abuses and have called on the EU to ensure that the
Roma are treated with equality. However, the EU has done nothing to
combat this racism. Instead, a few vague documents about social
inclusion have been published and the accession countries have had to
come up with some statements about fair treatment of the Roma.
In practice, the EU has accepted that its own human rights laws,
which are supposedly to ensure that all EU citizens are treated the
same, do not apply to the Roma.
Roma already living in the EU fare little better.
--In Germany, Romani children have been forcibly expelled, sometimes
back to Kosova where they face even more persecution. Also, the UN
has criticised the treatment of Romani women, saying that
they "suffer from multiple forms of discrimination based on sex,
ethnic or religious background and race."
--Roma camps in Italy are often raided and broken up by the police.
In 1999 the far-right National Alliance party (formerly the fascist
MSI) called for the arrest of anyone protesting against these attacks
including any officials or politicians for "allowing a demonstration,
indeed a protest march by Gypsies right in the city centre".
--In the UK a number of Roma were deported in the run up to the 1
May. Under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act, Roma were
sent back if the country they came from was on a "white list", these
were countries deemed to be safe and included the accession
countries. In the Czech republic, the British embassy was refusing
visas to Roma and there were instances of them being thrown off of
Meanwhile a vicious racist campaign in the UK's tabloid newspapers
has pushed the government into withdrawing all support to Roma who
are claiming asylum. Newspaper stories about "thousands of Gypsies"
coming to Britain to live off "our generous benefits system" prompted
the Labour government to crackdown on migration and withdraw all
support to asylum seekers from Europe.
Early last month, the government stated that all asylum seekers who
originally came from the accession countries, about 2,750 claimants
plus their families and mostly Roma, would from the 1 May lose all
rights to the meagre benefits and housing handed out by the National
Asylum Support Service (Nass) or from social services departments.
This ruling would take immediate effect on the 1 May including
evictions from Nass housing.
However the day before this was due to take effect the Home Office
changed its mind after pressure from refugee organisations which
warned of families being made destitute. At the time of going to
press, however, all the government has promised is not to evict
people immediately and to carry out an urgent review in the first
week of May. there is still no guarantee that these asylum seekers
will not be destitute in the near future.
The government also rushed through new benefit restrictions, the day
before the accession, introduced to prevent migrants from claiming
benefits or housing when they come to the UK. Under a new workers
registration scheme, migrants from the EU will have to prove that
they have an employer and be in work before they are eligible to
benefits including housing.
Roma who had claimed asylum were barred from working; now they are
expected to find jobs from the 1 May. They might be able to still
claim asylum but their case will almost certainly be turned down as
being "unfounded" as the new countries of the EU will be on
the "white list" and be deemed safe.
It seems in the new expanded EU there is still no place for the Roma.
ACTION FOR MARIO BANGO:
Anti-racist activists are planning "12 days for Mario" to draw
attention to his case. Events begin on the 1st of May, the day that
the Slovak Republic joins the EU, and include fundraising events;
meetings to publicise Mario's case; petitioning; writing to the new
Slovakian president, Ivan Gasprovic; and a day for writing to Mario
to express support.
For more information contact Joy Knight on 07866 695 839
or email email@example.com
FOR MORE ON MARIO'S CASE SEE:
FOR A HISTORY OF ROMA OPPRESSION IN EASTERN EUROPE SEE:
MONDAY, 10 MAY
Cuireann POBAL i láthair
Ródseó na Gaeilge 2004
Mórcheiliúradh ceoil agus fhilíocht na Gaeilge le
Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin agus Steve Cooney
Louis de Paor agus John Spillane
Luan 10 Bealtaine
Halla na Cathrach, Béal Feirste
Beidh fáilte agus fíon ar fáil ar 7.00
Déanfaidh an t-Ard Mhéara Martin Morgan
Ródseó na Gaeilge 2004 a láinseáil ar a 7.15 i.n.
Sólaistí ar fáil
Tá saorchead isteach chuig an ócáid speisialta seo
ach ticéad a chur in áirithe roimh ré
Deán teagmháil le Sinéad nó Micí ar 028 90 438132
The Irish Language Road Show 2004
A celebration of Irish language music and poetry with
Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin agus Steve Cooney
Louis de Paor agus John Spillane
Monday, 10th May
Belfast City Hall
There will be a wine reception at 7.00 p m
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Martin Morgan will launch the Road Show at
7.15 p m
There is no charge for this special celebration but we ask people to
book their admission tickets early
Contact Sinéad or Micí on 028 90 438132
MONDAY, 10 MAY, 1-2pm
The Human Rights Centre Visitors
The Human Rights Centre will be welcoming a visitor to the Human
Rights Centre Law School on 10 May 2004. Everyone is welcome to
Jon Benjamin of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Human Rights
Unit will give a lecture on the role of Human Rights in Foreign
Affairs on Monday 10 May at 1.00pm to 2.00pm in Room LT121, Lanyon
South. For more information contact Dr. Rory O'Connell, Human Rights
Centre Law School, Queen's University Belfast, BT7 1NN, Tel: 028 9097
3459, ext: 3459, http://www.law.qub.ac.uk/
TUESDAY, 11 MAY, 1-3PM
A Sense of Place: Irish Community Resistance to the Globalisation of
Hazard by Robert Allen (http://www.bluegreenearth.com/)
Tuesday, 11th May, 1-3pm, Room 106, Peter Frogatt Centre, Queen's
Robert will also be giving a second talk @ 7pm on Tuesday 11th,
Conference Room, QUB students' Union.
Abstract: Irish community opposition to the globalisation of hazard -
industries that pollute and poison - has gone through radical change
since its first battles against state and industry in the early
1970s. After two decades of conflict, which did not prevent the
globalisation of Irish society, the atavistic nature of the protest
has begun to employ new techniques and different strategies.
Communities are locally committed but globally oriented and wise; the
issues are no longer environmental or social, they are now about
injustice -- and communities are beginning to realise that their
sense of place is more important than anything else, if only because
there is no place left to go.
Dr. John Barry Co-Leader, Green Party in Northern Ireland
m: (0044) 07876597900
h: (0044) 02891 477937
TUESDAY, 11 MAY, 10AM
No Prescriptions for Profits
Demonstration/Protest at Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork at 10 am on
(this) TUESDAY May 11th.
Assemble at Douglas Court Shopping Centre (Carpark).
Bring banners, noise, flags and placards!
The European Union group of Health Ministers will be meeting at
Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork on Tuesday/ Wednesday 11th/12th May. US
Secretary of Health, Tommy Thompson is also expected to attend at
some stage as invited guest. Thompson is a prominent member of
This protests has been initiated by the Cork Anti-War Campaign/Anti-
War Ireland. It is being supported by a range of organisation
including Cork Grassroots Network, Cork Women's Right To Choose etc.
WEDNESDAY, 12 MAY, 8PM
James Connolly Celebration
A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF JAMES CONNOLLY
UPSTAIRS, RIORDANS DROGHEDA LODGE, MAIN STREET, FINGLAS.
WEDNESDAY 12TH MAY, 8.00PM
MUSIC, SPEAKERS, CRAIC
ADMISSION FREE, ALL WELCOME
On the anniversary of the execution of James Connolly, the Irish
Socialist Network is hosting a celebration of his life and
ideas. 'Our demands most moderate are, we only want the earth.'
By Colm Breathnach -- Irish Socialist Network
WEDNESDAY, 11 MAY, 7-9PM
There will be a North Belfast antiracist meeting for those interested
in opposing racism from or in North Belfast. If you could pass this
information on to people to whom this would be relevant, particularly
people who live or work in North Belfast.
Next Wednesday May 11th
@ the Indian Community Centre
86 Clifton St Belfast BT13
The agenda is open.
SATURDAY, 15 MAY, 2PM
ANTI-FASCIST ACTION, Ireland
An informal talk with Dave Hann as guest speaker will take place at
2pm on Saturday, the 15th of May in Connolly Books, 42 East Essex
Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.
Dave Hann, co-author "No Retreat."
Connolly Books. 2pm, Sat