The Plough #53
23 August 2004
E-mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
3. In Support of Rathenraw Residents
4. Repression in Rathenraw
5. Civil Service Dispute Escalates
6. What's On
In this edition we print information about recent events in Rathenraw.
The IRSP support the right of the local community association to
carry out their activities free from intimidation or threats. All
members of the IRSP are told that when working in local communities
that they work with the community –- not against them -- and that
under no circumstances should they try to take over or manipulate any
group for narrow party advantage. Far, far too many so called
community associations in nationalist areas are really under the
control of (New) Provisional Sinn Fein, are not independent and are
used as devices to control the community. Republican socialists feel
confident in our own politics. As Ta Power once wrote, "you can't fool
the people forever. Eventually they will uncover the careerists and
opportunists." The local population in Rathenraw now know the wisdom
Stop-and-searches numbered 15,000 in 2003 in the North of Ireland.
New figures have shown that nearly 15,000 people were stopped and
searched by police or members of the British Army in Northern Ireland
The British Army carried out more than two thirds of the 14,910
stop-and-searches in the past year, with 4,000 carried out by police.
An IRSP spokesperson said the figures show the British Army and police
have abused their powers despite the so called reforms brought in
under the Patten Report.
"Nothing has changed on the ground with the British security forces
still an instrument of British/Unionist hegemony," said John Martin,
Ard-Chomhairle member of the IRSP.
"So much for demilitarisation, so much for peace building. These
figures combined with the recent IMC report show that repression with
a little bit of reform is still the preferred British security
In addition the arming of undercover police with powerful .40 calibre
semi-automatic Glock 22 pistols does not indicate moves towards
demilitarisation. These Glock pistols carry a fifteen-round magazine
and cost over £400 per piece. They have considerably more 'stopping
power' than standard PSNI sidearms. So the question has to be asked
who are the PSNI/RUC intent on stopping?
IN SUPPORT OF RATHENRAW RESIDENTS
"We would like to lend support to the community in Rathenraw following
the recent intimidation in the area by outsiders pushing their own
"The incidents leading up to the intimidation are well documented,
with a small unrepresentative clique trying to impose their will on
"That community has suffered intimidation from loyalists and drug
dealers in recent years and has battled valiantly to overcome these
scourges, it would be a tragedy if they were forced undo all their
good work by threats from those who they believed were on their side.
"We also reject the slander machine that has seen these community
representatives became 'rogue elements' and 'anti social' over night
or more accurately since they left Sinn Fein.
"We support the right of community associations to act in the
interests of their community and to be free to act independent of
"We are aware that many of the residents in Rathenraw would not share
our political perspective but we support their right to organize free
from intimidation regardless. It is essential that ALL republicans
face down such intimidation, silence will surely lead us into a
Statement from ANDY MARTIN, 32 County Sovereignty Committee
REPRESSION IN RATHENRAW
Anthony McIntyre / 16 August 2004
To many of us who live in Belfast, the Rathenraw Estate in Antrim town
for long conjured up the image of a drugs bazaar where various
substances were bought and sold on the open market. It had the feel of
a mini-Amsterdam. In recent years a vigorous community response has
changed Rathenraw completely. The transformation there has been more
than a mere face-lift. Talking to the residents who live there, a
strong vibrancy and confidence is exuded. Once the estate to escape
from it has become a sought after place of residency for many families
eager to ensure their young grow up free from the menace of serious
Of the numerous residents I have spoken to over the past month none
dissented from the view that Sinn Fein played a major role in the
clean-up campaign. A large measure of the party's electoral success in
Antrim town and the surrounding area can be explained by the hard work
put in on the ground and in particular the zero tolerance displayed
towards drug dealers.
In Rathenraw, many of those people who were at the coalface of
community activism, now find themselves seriously at odds with the
party on whose behalf they laboured so strenuously. In fact the entire
Rathenraw Sinn Fein Cumann has resigned. Some of those who stepped
outside of the tent had given much of their time and energy to
promoting republican politics. In the case of Paddy Murray who chaired
the Cumann, most of the 1990s imprisoned did little to subdue his
commitment to the political vision that drives him. Aine Gribbon, a
mother of eight, was a three times candidate for the party in local
Having made many trips to the estate over the past month in response
to requests by residents who felt they were voiceless, I quickly
detected the frustration experienced by people who were convinced they
were being given grossly inadequate political representation by the
two Sinn Fein politicians on Antrim Council. From house to house, the
message was the same, useless. This held true for Sinn Fein voters,
former party members and residents with no party affiliations, alike.
Underlying tension between Rathenraw republicans and the Sinn Fein
bureaucracy first exploded when a local republican band was prevented
from taking part in a South Armagh hunger strike commemoration in
It was accused of having a reputation for being rowdy. New Sinn Fein,
wanting to appear respectable, decided that much of its previous
earthy character would have to be jettisoned. The response of the
Rathenraw Cumann was to resign.
Since then, the former Cumann members have claimed that in a bid to
isolate and undermine them, the two local councillors and unelected
party apparatchiks have engaged in a campaign of vilification. When
the estate was subjected to sectarian attack, the former party members
who rallied to its defence were accused by their former colleagues of
having provoked the loyalists. Since then they have been described as
gang leaders and 'Fagin' type characters.
In recent weeks the campaign against Rathenraw republicans was
intensified and extended to community workers. This has culminated in
committee members of the Rathenraw Community Association, a
democratically constituted body, being intimidated and told to stand
down from the committee.
What for long may have been a manageable tension suddenly exploded
into serious confrontation in the wake of a planned PSNI operation
which led to the interception of a car leaving the estate in which a
large consignment of drugs was discovered. The Community Association
was aghast. Its community image promotion campaign had sustained a
considerable dent. The person arrested allegedly in possession of the
drugs was only accepted into the community, against the wishes of
those who lived there, on the insistence of a local Sinn Fein
councillor who vouched for the good character of the person. The
residents' objections were based on a strong belief that the man would
bring the drugs trade into the estate.
After the arrest the Community Association told the partner of the man
in custody that she would no longer be welcomed in the estate. Such an
approach has many drawbacks and community associations must tread very
carefully in order to ensure that an injustice is not created. A
prominent Belfast Sinn Fein member tried to pressurise the Association
to rescind its decision to ask the woman to leave. With little headway
having been made, a leading figure in the Provisional IRA informed the
Residents Association chair that the woman would be staying and there
would be no further questioning of the decision.
Unhappy with the manner in which the issue was being dealt with the
Association called a meeting last Wednesday in the local community
centre. The meeting was publicly advertised and the hall was packed.
There seemed to be a cross representation of views and while the
discussion that took place gave rise to disagreement on a range of
issues there was little sign of rancour. What was evident was that the
Rathenraw Community Association had the confidence of the body of the
hall. Many of those who spoke did not pull their punches when it came
to being critical of Sinn Fein. While allegations of threats, bullying
and intimidation all surfaced, the general critique seemed to be one
of no proper political representation.
Sinn Fein clearly not happy with the stand taken by the Community
Association, moved muscle into the estate on Friday. Two Sinn Fein
councillors accompanied by seven carloads of people weaved their way
through the streets. In some cases homes of those who had been
critical of the party were photographed. A female youth worker claims
to have been told she would have to leave Antrim for good. Other
reports indicate that one man who came out to complain about the
heavy-handed approach was told he would have every bone in his body
broken if he did not go back into his home. Most sinister of all was
the charge that the home of the chairperson of the Community
Association was the site of a visit by seven men who banged loudly on
the door and peered through the windows. At one point one of the
visitors was said to have pulled a balaclava over his face.
If these reports are true, and they are coming from more than one
source, then Sinn Fein is engaged in thuggish intimidation of those
who challenge the party’s writ. It now seems clear what one local
party councillor meant when he told both the Antrim Guardian and the
Antrim Times that the Republican Movement would deal with those it had
taken umbrage with.
The Rathenraw Community Association should be free to make decisions
about its own community without the threat of force being hurled in
its direction. If it makes the wrong decision, bullying its members is
not the way to rectify matters. The bulk of these people, republicans
included, does not oppose the peace process and have no allegiance to
any other republican group. The former Sinn Fein members stayed with
the party through thick and thin. They did not quit over strategic
disagreements. Many of them would be happy to be back in Sinn Fein if
the party was to function with more accountability and deliver
effective representation. What the people of Rathenraw need is to be
listened to not threatened. They are not pawns in some strategic game
that demands of them that they give up their concerns and aspirations
for their own community as part of a bigger picture that none of them
are allowed to shape or critique.
If what is happening in Rathenraw is weighed up in a context of Sinn
Fein trying to achieve power, what will the party do in order to hold
onto that power? Thoughts of it ever acquiring control over justice or
policing must invoke images of the Broy Harriers.
(from The Blanket August 16, 2004)
CIVIL SERVICE DISPUTE ESCALATES
NIPSA Civil Service Executive met Thursday 19.08.2004, to discuss the
latest management offer and the union response.
At the behest of the left-coalition "Time for Change" grouping the
Executive has finally taken the decision to recommend rejection of the
offer and escalation of the action to an all out strike.
Branch meetings will be held over the next few weeks to discuss and
vote on the proposed strategy of the Executive.
This dispute has now reached a critical point. Members now have the
opportunity to bring the dispute to a successful conclusion through
all out, hard hitting, and all member strike action that will have the
effect of shutting down the NI Civil Service in its entirety.
"Time For Change" activists shall be meeting shortly to agree a
strategy to ensure a yes vote for an all out strike, and more
importantly to prepare an action plan to carry such a decision through
on the ground.
"Time for Change," and indeed all active NIPSA members, are gratefully
aware of the solidarity shown by other trade unionists and the wider
working class in the north during the current dispute, and would call
on all socialists to consider what further action they can take to
support civil service workers as this struggle reaches its climax.
Friday 27th August
Belfast Calling Palestine: A Benefit Gig in Aid of Palestinian
In THE RED DEVIL BAR, FALLS ROAD, BELFAST
Organised by the Collective of Musicians of Belfast Organisation
16th DESMOND GREAVES SUMMER SCHOOL
Friday-Sunday, 27-29 August 2004.
Irish Labour History Museum, Beggars Bush, Haddington Rd., Dublin 4
Friday 27 August
7.30pm: "An Analysis of the proposed Constitution for Europe" by
Anthony Coughlan, Secretary, The National Platform EU Research and
Information Centre; Chair: Patricia McKenna, former Green Party MEP
Saturday 28 August
2.30 pm: "Irish Capitalism -- Loyal to Whom?" Mick O'Reilly, ATGWU
official, will examine developments in the South and Dr Alan Harper,
Department of Sociology, Queen's University Belfast, will examine
developments in the North of Ireland; Chair: Damien Kiberd,
broadcaster and former editor, Sunday Business Post
EVENING SOCIAL from 8 p.m. onward at the home of Helga and Cathal
MacLiam, 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6
Sunday 29 August 29
11.00 am: "Coalitions -- the Way Forward for Progressive Politics in
Ireland?" by Roger Cole, Chair of PANA and member of the
Administrative Council of the Labour Party; Chair: Seamus O'Tuathail
2.30 pm: Forum on "Power Politics and the EU"; "The EU as a Global
Power" by Dr Andy Storey, School of Development Studies UCD and
council member of Afri-Action from Ireland; "Democracy in the EU" by
Cllr. Deirdre De Burca, Irish Green Party; Chair: Aengus O'Snodaigh
TD, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Foreign Affairs.
Thursday, September 2nd, 8pm
Cork WSM open meeting
The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism
Independent Workers' Union hall,
55 North Main Street, Cork
Saturday September 25th 1-6pm
What sort of anti-racism do we need?
A day of talks and discussion, organised by the WSM, with speakers
from anti-racist and immigrant groups Saturday September 25th 1-6pm
Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin
The Secret war between Britain's Anti-Fascists and the Far-Right.
New book by Dave Hann and Steve Tilzey
For nearly 20 years a secret war has been waged between Britain's
anti-fascists and the extreme far-right. A war fought not with
placards and leaflets, but with boots, bottles and iron bars. For the
first time ever, two leading participants in that struggle tell the
extra-ordinary tale of the militant anti-fascist members of the
Squads and AFA's Stewards Group.
Published by Milo Books. 304pp. Price £7.99. Available on 1st
ISBN 1 903854 22 9
Available from Waterstones, Dillons, and many independent booksellers.
Can also be ordered on-line from http://www.turnaround-psl.com/ --
http://www.amazon.co.uk/ -- http://www.amazon.de/ --
http://www.amazon.co.jp/ or http://www.bookmarks.uk.com/ as well as
many other on-line booksellers.
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