Volume 3, Number 11
6 January 2006
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) Status of Prisoners
3) Drug Dealing Allegations
4) The Real Truth About Shannon Airport
5) An EU "Watershed Decision"
6) Castro's 'Miracle' Cures the Poor of Blindness
7) Economic Inequality Rampant
8) Condoleezza Rice and Count Metternich
10) Film Review: "Syriana"
11) What's On
To all our readers and to all who sent seasonal greetings to The
Plough, a happy new year. What an ending to the old year!! Charges
dropped over the alleged spy ring at Stormont. A British agent
discovered at the heart of the Provisional Sinn Fein movement!
Paranoia and suspicion may be starting to grip many republicans. But
before people lose the run of themselves let us face a few home truths.
All organisations have been penetrated by the British security and
intelligence services. That after all is their job. Their function is
to preserve the status quo and carry out the policy of the British
government of the day. Any republican who claims their organisation is
spy free is a liar. After all republicans want to change the status
quo not only in the North but also in the South. Therefore, they have
to be targeted by the defenders of the status quo.
The methods of the status quo include "turning" people, removing
implacable opponents, slandering and destroying people's good name,
creating dissension and feuds, helping to promote those who may be
sympathetic to some aspects of the establishment's position. At one
stage, there were more FBI informants in the CPUSA than genuine
Revolutionaries have to take infiltration as a given. Developing
paranoia and mistrusting everyone is not the answer. In the current
political climate in Ireland today the emphasis has to be in reaching
out to the mass of the people by the political work carried out. That
requires knuckling down to class work and patiently explaining to the
mass of people the connections between the class and the national
But before politically sectarian people jump in and say the IRSP are
under the hegemony of "economistic Trotskyites" or some such nonsense
let no one be in any doubt where we stand -- for national independence
and socialism. But simply saying that and quoting James Connolly is
just not good enough. Action is required. We have tried to reach out
in the past 12 months to other republican and socialist organisations.
Some even refused to acknowledge our existence. Arrogance by
self-appointed elites in political or military leaderships is one of
the commonest of political errors, but even if we overcame this
arrogance and had the left talking to the left or republican talking
to republican, while good in itself, that is not the complete answer.
The connection has to made between the everyday lives of working class
people and the continued existence of imperialism. And be under no
illusions those connections can be made. Only recently we had a
tremendous display of solidarity among Irish workers when nearly
100,000 turned out to express their class anger at the importation of
cheap non-union labour The Irish ferries dispute was more than about
543 workers. It was about the rapid spread of the low wage economy
model facilitated by years of social partnership. There is also the
added factor of racism as non-national labour is imported from east
Europe. The number of workers in trade unions has been continually
falling and it is estimated that in four years only 17% of the Irish
work force could be unionised.
What a price to pay for social partnership! Any fight back must be at
grass roots level, at the level of shop stewards, for it is clear that
the full time trade union officials are too well embedded in the
social partnership model. And these shop stewards need to become
politically conscious and see the connections between the low wage
economy and the EU and the spread of neo-liberal economics. And that
is to confront imperialism.
Unless those who call themselves republicans see the connection
between political settlements like the Good Friday Agreement and day
to day class struggles, and unless those who call themselves
socialists see the connection between class struggles and imperialism,
and unless both those groups do something about these connections,
then the future for the Irish working class whether Catholic,
Protestant or migrant labour is one of increasing exploitation.
The question for the year 2006: is the Irish left up to the challenges
STATUS OF PRISONERS
(The internet is a great weapon for the advocacy of one's viewpoint.
It is also a great source of information and for a positive exchange
of ideas and views. There are many good internet discussion sites.
These also have disadvantages in that many twisted, bitter and
childish people can use it to disseminate wrong information, lies and
slanders about parties and individuals. Below we release a statement
from IRSP member Willie Gallagher clarifying the movement's position
on a number of things that on discussion sites have become muddied or
clouded, intentionally or otherwise.)
The IRSP and INLA are anti-Good Friday Agreement and have stated this
quite clearly since 1998. That position has not changed nor will it.
Motions at every IRSP Ard-Fheis overwhelmingly rejected the Good
As a republican socialist ex-prisoner who spent a total of 18 years in
prison, my comrades and I found that we could advance our goals by
using the system to beat the system; by using their courts to
challenge the system. At one time republicans refused to "recognise"
the courts thus ensuring some going to prison whereas they would have
been released just by "recognising" the courts.
Did this change of policy mean that republicans recognise the
legitimacy of Britain and the Free State? I think not!!! The INLA did
not call a ceasefire to get prisoners out but the IRSP correctly took
advantage of the prisoner releases clause contained within the Good
Friday Agreement. We have never called for the Good Friday Agreement
to "be implemented" but have called for the clause on prisoner
releases to be implemented and make no apologies for doing so.
The ONLY criteria for prisoner releases was/is that the prisoner is a
member/supporter of, or associated with, an organisation on a
Prisoner releases were NOT dependant on acceptance of the Good Friday
Agreement. INLA prisoners, through their OCs in prisons North and
South, publicly rejected the Good Friday Agreement whilst expressing
support for the INLA ceasefire.The INLA also rejected the Good Friday
Agreement publicly on many occasions.
Now in relation to queries regarding two of our former comrades let me
put the record straight. As the INLA prisoners representative from
1996 until 2005 I had direct dealings with both Joe Magee's case and
that of Neil Sheridan.
Joe Magee has had no connection with the Republican Socialist Movement
long before his capture. However the INLA did accept him on to their
landing in Portlaoise Gaol as a civilian several years ago and asked
him to leave after breaking the INLA code of conduct concerning
compassionate parole. Joe's behaviour, which he conceded at the time,
was totally unacceptable.
Shortly after he was sentenced for actions in England while an INLA
member, the IRSP have made representations concerning Joe's release
and will be doing so again. We support and indeed demand the release
of Joe Magee and we expect that to happen.
I visited Neil shorly after his first rejection for release which was
on the spurious grounds of alleged association with groups not on
ceasefire. It wasn't the first time that an INLA prisoner was rejected
for release as something similar occurred in Crip McWilliams' case
which was overturned on appeal after I attended and made
representations on behalf of the RSM to the panel who made the decision.
I was to attend a similar appeal on Neil's behalf, and for reasons
that I am not aware of, Neil severed all connections with the RSM.
This despite personal appeals by myself and the IRSP through messages
into the prison, to represent him.
I believed then, as I do now, that those representations would have
overcome the spurious grounds that were presented by the commission
overseeing releases. For the record we believe that all prisoners
should be released and not just those who qualify under the Good
Our record regarding our attitude, support and assistance to all
political prisoners from whatever group is second to none.
DRUG DEALING ALLEGATIONS
For years a no-brainer Sunday tabloid has tried to demonise one of our
comrades with a litany of false, malicious stories without factual
evidence. One of their sources has been the notorious UDA, a British
Intelligence/loyalist murder gang, up to its neck in drug dealing,
money lending and prostitution. One of its mouthpieces, Sammy Duddy,
claims to have a audio tape of evidence. There is no truth to the
allegations. The RSM is totally opposed to drug dealing. Below we
print a statement from our comrade.
Statement from IRSP member Paul Carson, following allegations from
UDA's Sammy Duddy.
"I emphatically deny any allegations regarding any involvement in
drugs. I have been and continue to a republican all my adult life and
my republican credentials are there for all to see. I have not been
involved in drugs. My record in my community is clear. These
allegations have been around for years and are an attempt to demonise
me. They emanate from British Intelligence, PSNI Special Branch and
criminal and loyalist sources who are up to their necks in drug
dealing. These false allegations will not stop my involvement in
republican socialist politics. Those making these allegations should
put up or shut up."
Paul Carson, Wednesday 4th January 2006
THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT SHANNON
The people of the Irish Republic have for decades prided themselves in
the comforting knowledge that their country was neutral. This ensured
their sons would never have to go to war; their homes and cities would
never be attacked as a result of foreign conflict, nor would industry
and trade be affected as a result of such either. Ireland continued to
stay out of affairs that didn't concern them.
However, this was all about to change since the terrible events of
11/09/01 and the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. As
millions throughout Ireland watched in horror as the events unfolded
before their very eyes, others were already planning their response.
The American government, under the Bush administration, were plotting
an all out strike on the people of Afghanistan, as they believed the
attack came from the infamous Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda
movement who they believed took refuge in the mountains bordering
between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Throughout the 1980's, the CIA and the American government aided these
very guerrilla fighters in their war of independence from the USSR, in
what was later known as the 10 year Afghan war. They trained, armed
and funded the Afghans in their fight and possessed first hand
intelligence on the terrain of the Afghan mountain ranges in the Kunar
province north of Jalalabad along the Pakistan border which they would
be targeting in response to the 9/11 attack. The Americans would be
declaring all out war.
In order for the Americans to wage war against this country they
needed assistance from others. The geography involved in such a war
meant that the United States military faced obstacles that would
hinder their assault on the Taliban regime and the Afghanistan based
Al Qaeda. They themselves needed an alliance.
The Bush administration called upon all its friendly countries to join
with them in the "War on Terror" and vowed that anyone who refused
would be treated as being as guilty as the terrorists. "You are either
with us or against us" was the rallying cry to which all those who
feared USA embargo on trade and funding readily signed up. In a
massive show of strength and determination, all the leaders of the
countries newly involved in the alliance supporting the "War on
Terror" called a press conference to show their solidarity with the
USA government and its crusade. It was attended by An Taoiseach, Mr.
On 17th March 2005, St. Patrick's Day, the level of help and
assistance from Ireland in the "War on Terror" was publicly
acknowledged by the American President George Bush at the Whitehouse
in his speech welcoming An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to Washington D.C.
"We're working together to bring freedom and justice to Afghanistan
and the Balkans and other countries that have not known it."
So, just exactly how could such a tiny country as Ireland assist the
biggest country and military might in the world? What help could they
give that would be of vital importance in the American led "War on
Terror"? What action or course of actions could Ireland surrender to
the Americans that would jeopardise the long standing position of
Irish neutrality? What did the Irish government set to gain out of
such a gesture?
The actual truth of the matter is much more startling. Much more than
the average citizen could endeavour to imagine. To the Bush
administration and the American military Afghanistan was the stepping
stone, the launching pad for greater and bigger things. All roads and
signposts in Afghanistan pointed directly to Iraq.
Iraq was the big catch for Bush and his military. It was his goal, but
first he needed to establish a threat. A reason to invade. He needed
to validate his overthrowing of Sad am Hussein, to link it with his
crusade to rid the world of the evils of terrorism. He needed to be
quick, efficient and to maximise his potential attacking power. The US
military needed to utilise all of their resources and manpower with
the littlest of effort and ease in order to make this campaign
successful, but there was something missing. They needed Shannon.
The Irish government accepted the American proposals and granted
George Bush his wish. The full resources of Shannon airport and Irish
air space were surrendered to the US Military, unbeknown to the
citizens of this very same island. With one stroke of a pen Ireland's
neutrality was flushed down the drains of history.
As the situation in Iraq deteriorated during the year of 2004, an
increase of 30% was witnessed in US troop movements than that of 2003.
Over 158,000 US troops had passed through Shannon on chartered
commercial aircraft in 2004, in comparison to the 120,000 in 2003.
An amazing 18 million Euros had been generated in Shannon airport in
charges in 2004, and a total of 43 million Euros since 2002, all a
result of this US military business.
All of these troops are armed and are carrying their weapons of war
with them. According to military analyst Tom Clonan, M16 rifles are
standard issue for the troops and these are likely to be carried in
the holds of the commercial aircraft. The M16 is personally adjusted
for each soldier and therefore it is highly unlikely that they would
be transported separately to the troops.
Possibly as many as half of the 150,000 troops who are currently
situated in Iraq, some of whom have been there almost a year, have
travelled through the Shannon route.
The increase from 2003 is due to heavy troop rotations in Iraq in
March and September 2004. As troops were being rotated, the numbers
passing through Shannon soared, to nearly 17,000 in March and over
22,000 in September. This is in comparison to the usual 12,000 in any
of the other months.
Another factor for the large increase is that the US Military
reservists are being called into the war, which unlike their regular
counterparts comes direct from the US and not from bases in Germany.
As Shannon is the nearest refuelling point to the US, it has been a
vital resource to the US military in getting their troops in "theatre"
in Iraq as quickly as possible and has enabled them to maximise their
fuel to weight ratio, allowing them to carry less fuel in exchange for
more soldiers and equipment, requiring less flights. However, this is
only the amount of US troops that are being transported in civilian
commercial aircraft. A further 753 military aircraft has landed in
Shannon in 2004 according to the statistics that were released by the
Department of Foreign Affairs, although they refused to disclose the
number of troops that were carried on these flights.
Commercial airlines are also providing charter services to the US
military to carry munitions and equipment. As with charter aircraft
carrying troops, these are the responsibility of the Department of
Transport. There were 816 landings of "foreign aircraft carrying
munitions or weapons of war" in 2004, according to the Department of
According to the Irish Aviation Authority, 75% of ALL air traffic from
America to Europe has the permission to use Irish air space. Under a
new agreement instituted earlier this year, Ireland has taken over a
new portion of air space to the north west of the country, as a result
of which it is estimated that 90% of all traffic from the USA will now
pass through Irish air space. As well as the 43 million Euro that the
airport has generated in un waived charges for commercial aircraft,
the Irish Aviation Authority has also cashed in on the deal with
millions that they have charged for over flights and landing
facilities. The total sum of which has been undisclosed to the public.
The Irish government need to readdress this issue and to stop the
facilitation of the US military through our airports and ports. They
have placed their citizens at risk of attack from these Islamic
fundamentalists, all the while keeping their secret deals from the
public eye. The Irish were loved throughout the world, now we face
becoming the bete noire race of Europe.
(Author: Charlie Clarke – Irish Republican Socialist Party)
AN EU "WATERSHED DECISION"
The power of the EU over our lives has been dramatically extended by a
recent judgement of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg
that has got remarkably little attention in Ireland.
In September the Court ruled that the EU had the right to create
pan-European criminal offences for breaches of EU law, which Member
States would have to implement even if they are opposed to such
This ECJ judgement opens the door to the creation of a body of
supranational EU criminal law for the first time. This had been
proposed in the EU Constitution which the French and Dutch rejected
last summer, but the September judgement brings it into being anyway.
It signals a major shift of power from national capitals to the EU.
For the first time in legal history this judgement permits the EU
rather than its Member States to lay down sanctions such as prison
sentences and fines for citizens violating EU laws. As a consequence
Member States lose their exclusive power to decide what constitutes a
crime, and when their citizens may be fined, imprisoned or given
criminal records. Member States are thereby deprived of one of the
classical prerogatives of all independent sovereign States.
"This is a watershed decision," said Commission President Manuel
Barroso in greeting the ECJ judgement. The Commission lost no time in
jumping in with a document on 23 November that listed seven areas
which it said should become EU crimes immediately: private sector
corruption, credit card and cheque fraud, counterfeiting euro notes
and coins, money laundering, people trafficking, computer crime and
The Commission suggested that possible future EU crimes could be be
corruption in awarding public contracts, racial discrimination and
incitement, intellectual property theft and trafficking in human
organs and tissues. Legal commentators have suggested that financial
services, consumer protection law, health and safety rules for
factories and offices, the CAP, fisheries policy, transport and
trademarks could become further fields of application for EU crimes
and penalties in time and require significant harmonization of
national criminal codes in these areas.
At present it is up to Member States to decide whether to use criminal
sanctions to enforce EU laws or not, and what those sanctions should
be. Thus Ireland decides that if fishermen violate EU fisheries laws
they may be fined, have nets confiscated and so on. The ECJ judgement
permits the EU to decide what will be EU crimes in future, and how
Irish and other citizens should be punished for committing them.
It is surely remarkable that 50 years after the Treaty of Rome the
Court of Justice should claim such a power for the EU. Although the
ECJ judgement related to environmental matters, it means that the EU
can in principle attach supranational criminal penalties henceforth to
breaches of EU law going back to the original Treaty of Rome, so long
as the Commission proposes and the Council of Ministers agrees by
majority vote that cross-EU criminal penalties are necessary and
The ECJ judgement was given in a dispute between the Commission,
supported by the European Parliament, and the Council of Ministers as
regards their respective powers. The Commission contended that it
could propose criminal sanctions for breaches of EU law and have them
agreed by majority Council vote. The majority of the "old Europe" 15
on the Council of Ministers, including the Irish Government, contended
that imposing criminal sanctions for breaches of EU law required
unanimity, so that each Member State retained a veto. Eoin Fitzsimons
SC represented Ireland in the case.
The Court came down on the Commission's and Parliament's side, as it
generally does as regards anything that expands EU powers. One of the
ECJ's own judges, Pastorino, once characterised the ECJ as a "court
with a mission" -- that mission being to increase the powers of the EU
to the utmost by means of its interpretation of the European treaties.
The Commission, Court and Parliament share this common aim, for all
increases in EU power increase the powers of these supranational
institutions and the power of the judges, bureaucrats and MEPs that
compose them. The EU Member States, their governments, parliaments
and citizens lose power correspondingly.
Henceforth a Member State that opposes a breach of a particular EU law
being made into a crime, or opposes the level of EU penalty attached,
will still have to introduce it if a sufficient number of other EU
States vote for it. In principle the new legal position would allow
the EU to compel Ireland to jail or fine its citizens for doing things
that the Irish Government and Oireachtas did not consider a crime -
improbable though that may seem at present.
Commission officials are reported as saying that in future they will
draft tests to decide if offences against EU laws are civil,
administrative or criminal.
In this way 25 non-elected EU judges, together with the 25 non-elected
EU Commissioners, have increased their power over all of us in what
amounts to a judicial coup d'etat against democratic national
governments and the citizens that elect them.
8 December 2005
CASTRO'S 'MIRACLE' CURES THE POOR OF BLINDNESS
The rich tourists whose luxury yachts once crowded the idyllic Marina
Hemingway complex on the outskirts of the Cuban capital are shocked to
find all Havana's hotel rooms fully booked until mid-2006. More than a
dozen hotels have been temporarily closed to tourists to make way for
a different kind of visitor. Most of them arrive nearly blind; but all
will be able to see perfectly before they leave.
A remarkable humanitarian programme is under way here, which aims to
restore the sight of six million people through free eye surgery.
Launched in July by the 79-year-old Cuban President, Fidel Castro, and
Venezuela's Socialist leader, President Hugo Chavez, Operation Miracle
has brought daily planeloads of the poor from across Latin America and
the Caribbean to Havana for surgery. Cuba provides the medical skills,
Venezuela the petro-dollars.
People suffering from cataracts and other eye conditions that can be
quickly remedied are candidates.
Cuba's comprehensive, free healthcare system has a ratio of one doctor
for every 170 Cubans, compared with 188 in the US and 250 in the UK.
By Tom Fawthrop in Havana
18 December 2005
ECONOMIC INEQUALITY RAMPANT
The Irish Ferries saga is finally over. However, many of the issues
raised still exist for the Irish workforce, according to a report to
be published next month.
The report, by the government think-tank, the National Economic and
Social Forum (NESF), will show that poor wages and job losses are as
much, if not more, of a feature of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland as they
were in the 1980s. It also finds that one in ten people are either
blocked from the workforce or are in insecure jobs with poor career
Entitled Creating a More Inclusive Labour Market, the report makes for
stark reading. The wealthiest 20 per cent of the Irish workforce earns
12 times as much as the poorest fifth. This is one of the highest
levels of income inequality in industrialised countries within the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Nearly 14 per cent of Irish households which are defined as being in
poverty are now headed by those with a job, which is twice as high as
the comparative figure in 1994.
Despite government promises to open the labour market to disabled
people, the employment rate among those with disabilities has fallen
from 40 per cent to 37 per cent over the last four years. Disabled
people are two and a half times less likely to have a job than other
The report also found that almost 25 per cent of the population did
not have the literacy skills required to work and that there were over
80 black spots around the country where the unemployment rate is three
times the national average.
In disadvantaged areas, as many as half of the pupils leave school
just before or after the Junior Cert, compared to a national average
of 13 per cent. The report also concluded that women's equality is far
from a reality.
Of 56 countries, Ireland had the sixth worst record for providing
women with the same economic opportunities as men.
"Ireland has less equality of opportunity than other European
countries and this has changed little over the last decade despite a
huge expansion in education and economic growth," the report said.
The report carries a strong warning about labour force growth in
Ireland. Domestic labour force growth will fall to 0.5 per cent a
year, compared to 3.5 per cent for each year over the last ten years,
according to the report.
"Unless our potential labour force supply is not more fully mobilised,
we are likely to experience a sharp slowdown in economic growth rates
compared to recent years," states the report.
"While higher immigration could boost growth in the short-term, it may
become increasingly difficult and costly to attract and integrate
greater numbers of migrants as the rest of Europe ages."
However, this phenomenon is not totally exclusive to Ireland,
according to Dermot O'Leary, chief economist with Goodbody Stockbrokers.
"Ireland is in a better position than some other EU countries," said
O'Leary. "We have a fairly young workforce and the highest birth rate
in the EU." Despite this, there is still cause for concern.
"Over the next couple of decades, Ireland's potential growth rate will
fall because we don't have access to a growing labour force."
Future job growth will depend on immigration; measures to increase
participation in the workforce; improvements in the skills and
employability of low-skilled people, as well as policies to support
job retention and improve work/life balance.
The expected slowdown in employment growth comes against a backdrop of
job losses in manufacturing, farming and fishing.
Already, 32,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last four
years. "Recently, we have seen a rise in redundancies, with a record
23,400 announced last year," the report said. "Higher value-added jobs
in manufacturing were badly hit."
The state paid out €138million in redundancy refunds to companies last
year -- three times the 2002 level, according to the report.
"While we are continuing to create more jobs, these are lower
value-added jobs compared to those we are losing and they are making a
smaller contribution to our economic growth. This has major
implications for the potential to increase our future living
standards," the report said.
"A significant share of the recent jobs growth has been in
construction and it is likely that its share of total employment is
"Many of the remainder of the jobs growth also appears to have been in
lower added-value jobs in the services sector, driven mainly by
O'Leary said the government needs to put a strategy in place to
address the job losses in manufacturing. "Manufacturing employment has
been falling since 2001 and we are going to see more job losses in
this sector," said O'Leary.
"Measures must be put in place so these people can be retrained to
work in other areas of the economy."
By Louise McBride
Sunday Business Post
18 December 2005
CONDOLEEZZA RICE AND COUNT METTERNICH
By Gwynne Dyer
"Metter-nich comes close to being a statesman; he lies very well,"
Napoleon once said of the Austrian aristocrat who dominated European
diplomacy for a generation. By that demanding standard, US Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice does not come close at all. Her four-country
European tour was originally intended to rebuild
US-European relations that have been badly damaged by the Iraq war,
and especially to welcome a new German government whose leader,
Chancellor Angela Merkel, wanted to kiss and make up with the Bush
administration. But then came the furore about the alleged torture of
terrorism suspects and the revelation that the Central Intelligence
Agency used the airports ofAmerica's European allies for the
"rendition" of those suspects to places where the torture could be
done more conveniently.
Rice's failure to lie convincingly about the torture accusations - the
US, she said, "does not tolerate, permit or condone torture under any
circumstances" - was not all her fault, for she is continually
undermined by other parts of the administration. Vice-President Dick
Cheney publicly insists that the CIA be exempt from the ban on "cruel,
inhuman and degrading" treatment of prisoners, and the CIA goes on
using such techniques as "waterboarding" (strapping a prisoner to a
board and immersing his head until he believes he is drowning) even
while the State Department condemns other governments that use the
same technique. Since almost all of this activity takes place beyond
the borders of the United States, there is not much that its opponents
can do about it through the American justice system. More over, the
CIA and the US military usually outsource the extreme forms of torture
to other governments (the Abu Ghraib abuses were an aberration) in
order to evade direct legal responsibility.
But that does involve flying detained suspects around the world in
planes owned or chartered by the CIA, and the flight logs of these
aircraft show that they have landed hundreds of times in European
Union countries - which may legally implicate those countries as
accomplices to torture. The flights were presumably carrying Mu-slim
detainees between the US-run prison camps in Cuba, Iraq and
Afghanistan, other secret CIA camps that allegedly existed in Poland,
Romania and the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, and places like
Egypt and Syria in the case of those destined for major torture or
death. Thousands of detainees may have been carried on these "ghost
flights" over the past four years, and Lawrence Wilkerson, a former US
army colonel who served as chief of staff to former secretary of state
Colin Powell from 2002 until early this year, told the BBC that
between 70 and 90 prisoners have died in "questionable circumstances."
As the revelations about secret CIA prisons in Europe and CIA shuttle
flights through EU countries grew - at least 210 stops in Britain, 50
in Ireland and 437 in Ger-many - EU political leaders were forced to
demand explanations from the United States. For two weeks Condoleezza
Rice denied US wrongdoing but mostly said nothing, which was certainly
the best strategy in the circumstances. The European governments
could satisfy their own public opinion by loudly demanding answers,
and the US saved everybody embarrassment by not giving any. But then
Rice lost her patience and told the truth. Speaking in Wash-ington
just before she left for Europe, she defended the renditions as a
necessary part of the US "war on terror." She made it absolutely clear
that the US government had the knowing cooperation of the relevant EU
governments, or at least of their intelligence services, in these
shuttle flights. It must have felt very satisfying, but she will
regret saying it before the end.
What she said was completely true, of course. You can't have all those
flights going through the airports of sovereign states without the
knowledge and permission of the host governments, even if they choose
not to inquire too closely into what the planes are carrying. By
highlighting their complicity in the renditions, Rice made it very
likely that there will now be judicial or parliamentary inquiries in
these countries to probe the extent to which their governments knew -
or chose not to know - what was going on.
The uproar will probably be greatest in Germany, where the former
socialist government led by Gerhard Schroeder had publicly broken with
the Bush administration over the invasion of Iraq. It's not all that
surprising that it tried to repair some of the damage by turning a
blind eye to the ghost flights, but the manifest hypocrisy of its
behaviour will create huge pressure in Berlin to uncover the truth,
and it may yet break Angela Merkel's brand new "grand coalition"
There will be public inquiries in other countries, too, and a constant
flow of new information about the illegality and cruelty of the
American gulag that will undermine the already failing authority of
the Bush administration. By telling the truth and insisting that
European governments share the blame for the policy, Condoleezza Rice
has opened a can of worms that her colleagues at home would have
preferred to keep shut.
An Evenings Vigil
by Conor - Na Cosantoiri Siochana Thursday
For Womens Little Christmas
On Saturday, 7th January 2006, we invite you to attend an Evening
Vigil at Shannon Airport starting at 4.00 pm. This vigil will take
place on the approach road to the airport and the invitation is
extended to everyone, young and old. We remember the thousands of
people killed in Bush's "War on Terror", including thousands of Iraqi
children, slaughtered by the U.S. military occupation of their country
taking freedom's name in vain.
For more information please call Joe @ 0868228032 or Mary @ 0879112961.
We will show the Shannon premier of Margaretta D'Arcy's award winning
film "Big Plane Small Axe", documenting the trials of Mary Kellly, who
disarmed a US Navy cargo jet plane on the airfield at Shannon on the
3rd of February 2003.
There will also be a tree planting service in remembrance of one of
the founding peace campers, our friend, Emma O Carroll who sadly
passed away this week after a long battle with cancer.
Three years ago, as war loomed in Iraq, a group of peace activists
spent the month of January camped on the doorstep of Shannon Airport
to highlight the amount of U.S. troops and military cargo being
trafficked through Ireland’s second international airport to the
Middle East, in preparation for the impending war. The first night
spent at the airport was the coldest night on record for decades as
the temperature plummeted to -7 degrees Celsius. The brave women of
the peace movement won praise from the mainstream media in Ireland for
their vigil on the night of "Women's Little Christmas". As the peace
camp increased in numbers and stature the world’s press were drawn to
the West of Ireland with live links and images beamed all over the globe.
Thousands of people visited from every corner of the country and
abroad, bringing food and equipment to make life easier for the
campers. They brought good cheer and gratitude for the activists who
provided a centre for information on what was, and still is happening
at Shannon. The camp also served the purpose of providing focus for
the peace movement that was being created in Ireland, as people
marched for peace all over the world.
The stance taken at Shannon by this action put the Irish government on
the spot, with activists from the camp breaking several news stories
to the press, including the fact that vast amounts of weapons,
ammunition and military explosives were being shipped through the
civilian airport. Further information revealed that patriot and cruise
missiles had been smuggled through the airport.
Other actions happened at Shannon Airport including the disarmament by
Mary Kelly and the Pit Stop Ploughshares of a US Navy cargo jet,
causing disruption of logistics. These actions reverberated all over
the world further highlighting the Irish Government’s docile attitude
to the aggressive Bush administration of the USA.
"What's that Willie? Nothing furtive happening at Shannon?" During the
time of the peace-camp plane spotter Tim Hourigan logged the landing
of one of the CIA flights involved in "Extraordinary Rendition". This
logged plane became part of a Swedish TV documentary and later the
subject of investigations by the United Nations and the Council of
Europe, amongst other bodies. Thankfully, the U.S. Ambassador has
given assurances to the Minister of Foreign Affairs that no torture
victims have been "Rendered" through Shannon Airport. This assurance
would be laughable if not for the serious nature of the issue.
Troop numbers through the Airport to theatres of war in Afghanistan
and Iraq are now at record levels with over 303,300 soldiers passing
through Shannon Airport this year. We of Na Cosantoiri Siochana demand
that Bertie Ahern realise the expectations of the 150,000 people who
marched for peace on the 15th of February 2003 by stopping the US
Military and CIA using Shannon Airport in their war crimes.
What is with the pathetic attempts the majority of political partys in
Northern Ireland have taken to stop the water charges?
If you want to stop that you need something major -- not just a mass
leafletting campaign one day and then completly forget about it. You
need to keep bugging those responsible for making these decisions, and
I mean KEEP bugging them.
All those opposing them come together and stage mass protests outside
city hall. EVERYDAY. Thats the only way you'll get anywhere along with
support from all major politicians on both sides.
Could you forward this to appropriate contacts please?
-- Sean, Republican Socialist Youth Movement
Solidarity with the Czech Communist Union of Youth
The RSYM stand in solidarity with the youth communist movement of the
Czech Republic as it comes under attack from the Czech government.
The Interior Ministry of the Czech Republic has threatened to ban the
Communist Union of Youth (Komunisticky svaz mladeze, KSM). This is the
progression of recent anti-communist movements in Bohemia and Moravia
which have attempted to outlaw communist parties and even the word
communist itself. The KSM is being coerced into rejecting the theories
of Marx and Engels or be punished. As Czechs have long valued their
sturdy independence against despotism and religion, this new
inquisition is absurd.
Other draconian laws include making it a crime to defend or deny
alledged communist crimes have been passed by the House of Deputies of
the Parliament. The recurring theme in the Czech anticommunist
movement is to equate communists - the liberators of Prague - to the
We encourage everyone to write and express their disgust with the
Czech Interior Ministry and solidarity with the KSM:
Ministerstvo vnitra (Ministry of Interior)
oddeleni volebni a sdruzovani,
namesti Hrdinu 3,
140 21 Praha 4
Fax: ++420 974 816 872
Embassy of Czech Republic in Ireland
57, Northumberland Road, Ballsbridge
Phone: +00 35 31/ 668 11 35
Fax: +00 35 31/668 16 60
FILM REVIEW: "SYRIANA"
"Syriana" - This fictional film inspired by the memoirs of CIA agent
Robert Baer is one of the best political thrillers in ages.
The story is told through several parallel plots which come together
in the end. One focuses on Bob Barnes, a CIA agent who does dirty jobs
for his country but is ultimately sacrificed by his superiors; another
focuses on Prince Nasir, the reform minded eldest son of the ruler of
an unnamed oil producing nation in the Middle East; another concerns
an American man who works for a Swiss financial company and becomes
Nasir's financial advisor; another is about an attorney trying to
ensure the successful merger of two corrupt oil companies; the last is
about two young, disaffected Muslims who are recruited by an al-Qaida
like group for a suicide attack on an oil tanker.
Writer/director Stephen Gaghan (screenwriter of "Traffic") has created
a complex and timely political thriller. While one can't expect a
mainstream film to have a deep or radical political analysis of the
Middle East and western oil ambitions, this film still has a
surprisingly strong critique of the situation and is probably closer
to the truth than some people might want to believe (one incident in
the film has similarities to the CIA backed overthrow of Iran's Prime
Minister Mosaddeq in 1953).
Partially filmed on location in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates,
the excellent cinematography of Robert Elswit ("Good Night and Good
Luck") gives one a sense of heightened reality while occasionally
verging on the surreal (especially in the scene where Barnes stands in
the middle of a large highway in the desert with no other cars
visible). Editor Tim Squyres ("Hulk") keeps the multiple plotlines
clear and balanced, which works toward having the most impact when
they come together at the end. Alexandre Desplat's score heightens the
tension of each scene without being obtrusive.
The cast is excellent, despite often having limited screen time to
bring their characters to life. Especially noteworthy are George
Clooney as Barnes, Alexander Siddig ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") as
Nasir, Matt Damon as Nasir's financial advisor, and Jeffrey Wright as
Like all great political thrillers, "Syriana" leaves behind a
lingering sense of paranoia long after it ends. A definite candidate
for my list of the top 10 films of 2005. Highly recommended.
By Danielle Ni Dhighe
Wednesday, 19 January
A Connolly Forum public meeting entitled Jim Gralton - the Leitrim
Socialist will be held in the Trades Club, Castle Street, Sligo, on
Wednesday, January 19, at 8.30pm. Pat Feeley, the writer and former
RTE radio presenter, will be among the speakers.
Sunday, 26 January
VISIT PALESTINE (80 minutes Film)
Sunday 26th January 7pm Tricycle Cinema, 269 Kilburn High Road, London
Tickets £8 and £7 - BOX OFFICE Telephone 020 7328 1000
"An astonishing piece of work, a wonderful film...quite unlike
anything I've seen." - John Pilger
What drives a young, well-educated Irishwoman to volunteer as a "peace
activist" in the Middle East? Caiomhe Butterly is one of a growing
number of volunteers who risk their own safety to intervene in the
long-running and bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine. Several
internationals, including her, have now been injured. Some have died.
In this film, she describes witnessing the aftermath of the attack on
Jenin in April 2002. The film follows her work, the main emphasis
being "the accompaniment of communities at risk". Despite being
threatened, shot in the leg and deported later that year, she is
determined to go back. In the interim, she brings her story back to
her native Ireland at public meetings, receives a Time Magazine
"European Hero Award", and travels to post-war Iraq to visit the
Palestinian refugee camps. She arrives back in Jenin, shortly before a
young woman from that community, Hanadi Jaradat, blows herself up in a
suicide bombing in Haifa.
Activists such as Butterly are usually stereotyped as lunatics,
meddlers or saints. This film offers an insight into a brave, honest,
determined yet self-critical woman who takes direct action to the
limit, with no quest for glory. She also serves as a conduit into the
everyday lives of Palestinians, who are also usually presented to the
viewer in a one-dimensional way, as fighters or victims, heroes or
fanatics. The film gives us a rare chance to see what she calls "the
spaces of beauty and joy" created by a people under occupation.
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