Volume 3, Number 18
1 March 2006
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
1) Editorial: Risks, Riots and Republicans
2) Letters: Hamas
3) From the Newspapers
4) What's On
EDITORIAL: RISKS, RIOTS AND REPUBLICANS
A German academic, Ulrick Beck, argues that economic and environmental
events, growing global inequalities, and insecure forms of work are
all contributing to a world where nation states can't control what
goes on inside their boundaries and increasingly no one can control
transnational risks such as terrorism, infectious diseases (BSE, bird
flu, HIV), or natural disasters, such as tsunamis and hurricanes. The
latter makes the case for an all embracing internationalism that puts
the safety and security of people and the earth before the relentless
pursuit of profits by multinationals companies. The former was vividly
illustrated by the riot last Saturday in the centre of Dublin, the
prestigious capital of the "Celtic Tiger".
Ireland's rise among the cream of the world's capitalist elite has
brought with it associated risks such as the transitory nature of work
for many people, poor housing, low incomes and status. None of the
mainstream parties is prepared to seriously challenge the risks posed.
The most radical of the mainstream parties is Sinn Fein. It used to
advocate a left wing alternative to capitalist market driven forces,
but those days are long gone since Sinn Fein leaders began to court
business leaders in the USA and Ireland. Sinn Féin's essentially
centrist position now argues for democratic representation and
acceptability. Sara Burke in Village Magazine has argued that "there
are no hard calls for higher taxes and no robust policies aimed at
reducing inequality or addressing the social and economic risks faced
by the people they claim to represent."
Their recent condemnation of the riots in Dublin just show how much
Sinn Fein have moved to the centre and away from a republican
socialist position they used to claim to represent. They joined in the
knee jerk condemnations of the riot along with the other bourgeois
parties; in particular honing in on the looting and mindless violence.
It is easy to be wise after the event. We in the IRSP had mixed views
among our membership about the "Love Ulster March" but are very clear
about what is the motivation behind Love Ulster (LU). It is a racist
organisation hating all things Irish and prepared to use the relatives
of Protestant victims of the Troubles in a cynical gesture to build up
support for the re-establishment of the unionist Protestant ascendancy
in the North of Ireland. It also has a close working relationship with
loyalist paramilitaries including the de-facto head of the UDA.
Therefore, our membership took part in a peaceful picket against the
march highlighting the distorted view of victims of Love Ulster and
the sectarian nature of the groups supporting the Love Ulster march.
Our members did not initiate or provoke violence on the day. Given the
use of victim's relatives by LU it was certainly not in the interests
of republicans to attack those same victims.
However, in the entire hullabaloo before the march a significant
section of opinion was forgotten about -- the Dublin workers and
families of the inner city. Loyalists had blown up Dublin in the past
killing the largest number of civilians killed in any one incident
during the struggle. They had been assisted by British military
intelligence in planting the bombs in Dublin. The carrying of British
regalia flags and banners was seen as a calculated insult to the
relatives of the victims of the Dublin bombs.
Hence, the pouring out of the pubs by the youth of Dublin affiliated
to no particular political party and angered by what they saw as a
calculated insult not only to their city but also to their
nationality. Who were these youths? We have seen them referred to by
some republicans as "scum and lowlifes", "hoodies", "criminals" and
"druggies". Maybe, but no doubt during the 1913 lockout in Dublin, the
poor of the slums and tenements who stood with Big Jim Larkin and
James Connolly, were referred to by the Irish Independent, then as now
the voice of lickspittle apologists for imperialism, in a similar vein.
"In the most recent analysis on income and living conditions, carried
out by the ESRI, almost one-fifth of the population were at risk of
poverty in 2004. Women, people living in lone parent households and
those living alone are at a higher risk of poverty than the rest of
the population. In 2001, more than 862,000 people (almost 22 per cent
of the population) lived on less than €164 per person per week.
Meanwhile, relative income poverty levels (the measure of income
inequality) increased from 15.6 per cent in 1994 to 22 per cent in
2001. Similar levels of poverty and inequality are found in Northern
"New research, just published by the ESRI in the 2004 Annual School
Leavers Survey, finds that those who leave school early and those who
do not go on to study are twice as likely to be unemployed than their
counterparts would have been five years ago. Unemployment rates are
highest amongst the least qualified school leavers: 68 per cent of
those with no educational qualifications are unemployed, while 29 per
cent of those who have a Junior Certificate and between 11 and 16 per
cent of those who have a Leaving Certificate remain unemployed. Those
most likely to be unemployed when leaving school are those whose
fathers are unemployed.
"This research highlights a worrying trend of increased unemployment
among less qualified young people, and reasserts trends found in
previous surveys on the direct links between educational disadvantage
and unemployment. It also highlights the risks that remain alongside
continued economic growth. These are risks that remain largely
unaddressed in this society." (Sara Burke)
That is who those young men were -- in Beck's word -- risks.
Disaffected youth are a growing "risk" right across Europe as the
recent riots among the migrant population in France indicates. Blinded
by the consumerist outpourings from television and the cinema that
glorifies the bling-bling culture, some look for the quick and easy
way to make money and so drift into crime and drug dealing. It is an
established fact that illegal drug-use affects most acutely those
communities with high levels of poverty and disadvantage.
However, not all disaffected youth delve in crime and drug dealing.
Many look for ways to challenge their anger against the system, which
allows casual violence by the Gardai against working class youth go
almost unmentioned. Can you see James Connolly condemning the rioting
in Dublin in 1913 or 2006?
Republicans and socialists have a huge responsibility to those young
people. Up to now we have failed to provide them with the leadership
they deserve. We need to challenge their energy, their anger, and
their idealism against the very system that oppresses them. Last
Saturday was not just about Orange boots marching past the GPO or the
Garden of Remembrance. It was not just about looting and mindless
violence. It was also about what kind of world we want our young
people to grow up in.
We need to provide them with a vision of a socialist world which will
overcome both national and ethnic differences and which can put before
the mass of the people the programmes and policies that challenge
capitalism and do not accommodate to it. We need to see our young
people not as "risks" but as the opportunities to change our world.
Sources: Village Magazine, Thursday, February 16, 2006
Dear Sir: I am originally from the occupied country of Kashmir. An
Irish friend of mine brought to my attention your editorial in The
Plough (10 February 2006). What I read about Hamas there truly shocked
me. I would have expected such portrayal of Hamas from the mainstream
pro-imperialist, pro-Zionist media. However, coming from you -- the
latest in the line of Irish patriots struggling to end British
occupation of the Six Counties -- was truly a shocker.
To call the Palestinian Islamic Resistance (HAMAS) as anti-Semitic is
to completely fall into the trap of the Zionist (both Jewish and
non-Jewish) myth. The Zionists have totally expropriated the term
"Semitic" to themselves, even though European Jews, who constitute the
founding ruling elite of Israel and still form a majority of its
people, can hardly be in a position to claim Semitic lineage. They are
the descendents of the Khazars who were scattered across Europe from
their Caucasian homehand by the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.
It could be stated categorically, without fear of contradiction, that
the Zionists are the most viscious anti-Semites as they are oppressing
the most Semitic of peoples: the Palestinians. Palestinians do not
hate Israelis because they are Jews. They hate them because they drove
them out of their land, massacred them and continue to deprive them of
their land, their freedom and their dignity as human beings.
Palestinians hate them, and their apologists, for making them pay for
the crimes of Christian Europe, for which they had nothing to do. By
describing Hamas as anti-Semitic, you have grieviously maligned the
great Palestinian people. The tragedy of Palestine is the single most
most important moral issue confronting humankind today. Your grudging
acceptance of the outcome of Palestinian election results will not do.
All the people of conscious must stand in total solidarity with the
Palestinian people in their hour of trial, regardless of whether we
agree with Hamas or not, on many issues. It is not the time to judge
them. You should not forget that not only Israel itself is sitting
entirely on Palestinian territory but that even the remaining 22% of
Palestine captured by Israel in 1967, is still under unremittingly
brutal Zionist occupation, fully supported and financed by the US and
European Union. Notwithstanding all the faults of Hamas (who does not
have any?) Palestinian people recognized in Hamas a heroic and
fearless resistance fighters in the face of unimaginable odds, and its
With regards to your other points about Hamas, I can point out the
fact that MOST societies in the world (Asia, Africa, Middle East,
Latin America) are anti-gay. I am not saying that this is right. I am
merely pointing out the fact. To condemn Hamas on such spurious ground
is unbecoming of you. The equality of gay people is a modern West
European and Canadian phenomenon. One hopes that each society will
eventualy follow its own route to dignity and equality for all human
Your editorial also called Hamas "cleric". It is true that it was
founded by a cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. However, you will find in
its upper ranks, university professors, pediatricians, medical
doctors, among other professions. Remember, Hamas is acronym for
"Islamic Resistance". Being a devout Moslem does not make one
"cleric". Hamas is no more cleric than West European Christian
Your last point about Hamas being "for the oppression of women". I see
in this statement nothing but Islamic-baiting. Palestinian people have
suffered too much for too long to accept such a notion. Palestinian
people are too sophisticated to fall for this. I hope that you are not
joining in anti-Islamic crusade against anything that smacks of "Islamic."
Your truly, in solidarity,
Fazal H. Dar
Department of Economics
University of Regina
Canada S4S 0A2
Reply from The Editor: First may I say I fully accept the criticisms
from both FR in The Plough Vol 3-17 and also from Fazal H. Dar above.
The offending sentence was as follows, "Hamas is anti-Semitic, for the
oppression of women, anti gay, and clerical."
That was a loose and unfortunate sentence in that it conveyed only a
But may I place it in context? The sentence, and it was only a
sentence and not an analysis of Hamas, came as a part of an editorial
that sought to warn Irish republicans against distorting their own
history and to learn the lessons of that history. We have to
acknowledge that some Irish republicans were pro-Nazi during the
Second World War as outlined, in the article I was talking about, by
"War News, the IRA's main publication, became increasingly pro-Nazi in
tone, even claiming active IRA involvement in the German bombing of
British cities. But more chillingly it began to ape anti-Semitic
arguments. Satisfaction was expressed that the 'cleansing fire' of the
German armies was driving the Jews from Europe."
I tried to make the point that we needed to learn our lessons from the
past and that "too close an identification with the resolving of the
national question by force and force alone can lead to appalling
This was in the context of a republican group congratulating Hamas on
their victory and extending solidarity and comradeship to Hamas. The
point I took issue with, but unfortunately did not articulate in the
original sentence, was not the solidarity but the comradeship.
Those within the Palestinian resistence who share our class analysis
we would see as comrades. Since our foundation, the IRSP has supported
the Palestinian people in the struggle for a free Palestine Of course
we express with Hamas and all anti-imperialist fighters our
solidarity. We are not so arrogant as to tell other nations or other
anti-imperialists, how to conduct their struggle. We support the
resistance struggles in both Palestine and Iraq. We defend the right
of those forces to use armed struggle as a legitimate tactic to
achieve freedom. As in deed we do in Ireland while arguing that
tactically armed struggle is not an option at this time in Ireland.
Central to our political position in Ireland is the proposition, first
articulated by a great Irish Marxist and Republican, James Connolly,
that, "the lrish working class, the only secure foundation upon which
a free nation can be reared" and "the Irish question is a social
question, the whole age-long fight of the Irish people against their
oppressors resolves itself, in the last analysis into a fight for the
mastery of the means of life, the sources of production, in Ireland.
Who would own and control the land?" (Labour in Irish History).
At the heart of our anti-imperialist struggle is the class question, a
proposition that other republicans do not necessarily share. Because
they do not share that analysis some see armed struggle as the only
tactic and indeed have elevated it to the only strategy. And in so
doing could be in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past and
forging alliances that could be fatal.
We do not share the views of Hamas on the issues of gay rights, women
or on many other issues. But nevertheless we defend their right to
struggle for the freedom of Palestine.
Once again an apology.
FROM THE NEWSPAPERS
EU ORDERS ALL PHONE, E-MAIL AND INTERNET RECORDS TO BE KEPT FOR UP TO
2 YEARS...PLANS FOR THE BIGGEST SNOOPING EXERCISE IN HISTORY
An EU directive requiring telecoms firms in Ireland and across the EU
to keep records of all phone, e-mail and internet records of their
customers for between six months and two years was adopted yesterday
by the Council of EU Justice Minsters, according to today's Irish
Times(p.12). EU Member States have 18 months to implement the
directive. Each telecoms firm must keep a record of who contacts whom,
and the time and location of calls for the required time. The supposed
purpose of this biggest snooping exercise in history is ostensibly to
combat crime and terrorism. This drastic new EU law has not been
discussed in the Dail or House of Commons any other national
Parliament. It is another example of EU-style democracy at work.
It is based on Article 95 of the European Community Treaty which
relates to the approximation of laws affecting "the establishment and
functioning of the internal market." This Article makes no reference
whatever to crime, justice or terrorism. Yesterday's new law is a
clear example of "creative interpretation" by the EU Minsters of
Justice, legislating behind closed doors, to give the EU more powers
over us. Slovakia and Ireland queried the legal basis of this latest
EU law, but the only way to stop it coming into force would be for
Ireland to challenge it in the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg, AND
TO SUCCEED IN ThAT CHALLENGE. This is very unlikely to happen. Even if
Ireland were to mount such a case,the Court of Justice(ECJ) almost
always backs whatever intepretation of the EU Treaty extends EU powers
to the utmost.
[From U News Bulletin for Irish Republicans and Semocrats: 22 Feb 2006]
29 January 2006
Blair in Secret Plot with Bush to Dupe U.N.
by Simon Walters
A White House leak revealing astonishing details of how Tony Blair and
George Bush lied about the Iraq war is set to cause a worldwide
A new book exposes how the two men connived to dupe the United Nations
and blows the lid off Mr Blair's claim that he was a restraining
influence on Mr Bush.
He offered his total support for the war at a secret White House
summit as Mr Bush displayed his contempt for the UN, made a series of
wild threats against Saddam Hussein and showed a devastating ignorance
about the catastrophic aftermath of the war.
Based on access to information at the highest level, the book by
leading British human rights lawyer Philippe Sands QC, Professor of
Law at London University, demonstrates how the two men decided to go
to war regardless of whether they obtained UN backing.
The revelations make a nonsense of Mr Blair's claim that the final
decision was not made until MPs voted in the Commons 24 hours before
the war - and could revive the risk of him being charged with war
crimes or impeached by Parliament itself.
The book also makes serious allegations concerning the conduct of
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer and
Attorney General Lord Goldsmith over Goldsmith's legal advice on the war.
And it alleges the British Government boasted that disgraced newspaper
tycoon Conrad Black was being used by Mr Bush's allies in America as a
channel for pro-war propaganda in the UK via his Daily Telegraph
The leaks are contained in a new version of Sands' book Lawless World,
first published last year, when it emerged that Lord Goldsmith had
told Mr Blair the war could be unlawful - before a last minute U-turn.
The new edition, to be published by Penguin on Thursday, is likely to
cause a fierce new controversy on both sides of the Atlantic.
It follows recent charges against two British men under the Official
Secrets Act after a transcript of another conversation between Mr Bush
and Blair, in which the President raised the possibility of bombing
the Al Jazeera Arab TV station, was leaked by a Whitehall official.
Both governments will be horrified that the stream of leaks revealing
the grim truth about the war is turning into a flood. The most
damaging new revelation concerns the meeting between Mr Blair and Mr
Bush at the White House on January 31, 2003, during which Mr Blair
urged the President to seek a second UN resolution giving specific
backing for the war.
The Mail on Sunday has established that the meeting was attended only
by Mr Blair, his Downing Street foreign policy adviser Sir David
Manning, Mr Bush and the President's then national security adviser
Condoleezza Rice, plus an official note-taker.
The top-secret record of the meeting was circulated to a tiny handful
of senior figures in the two administrations.
Immediately afterwards, the two leaders gave a Press conference in
which a nervous-looking Mr Blair claimed the meeting had been a
success. Mr Bush gave qualified support for going down the UN route.
But observers noted the awkward body language between the two men.
Sands' book explains why. Far from giving a genuine endorsement to Mr
Blair's attempt to gain full UN approval, Mr Bush was only going
through the motions. And Mr Blair not only knew it, but went along
The description of the January 31 meeting echoes the recent memoirs
ofBritain's former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer.
Meyer, who was excluded from the private session between Blair and
Bush, claimed the summit marked the culmination of the Prime
Minister's failure to use his influence to hold back Mr Bush.
Equally significantly, Meyer was puzzled by Blair's behaviour when the
twoleaders emerged to join other aides. Meyer writes: "We were all
milling around in the State dining room as Bush and Blair put the
final touches towhat they were going to say to the media.
"Bush had a notepad on which he had written a form of words on the
second resolution...He read it out...There was silence. I waited for
Blair to say he needed something as supportive as possible. He said
nothing. I waited for somebody on the No 10 team to say something.
Nothing was said. I cursed myself afterwards for not piping up.
"At the Press conference, Bush gave only a perfunctory and lukewarm
support for a second resolution. It was neither his nor Blair's finest
In view of Sands' disclosures, Blair had every reason to look awkward:
he knew that despite his public talk of getting UN support, privately
he had just committed himself to going to war no matter what the UN did.
When, in due course, the UN refused to back the war, Mr Blair seized
on the fact that French President Jacques Chirac said he would not
support any pro-war resolution, claiming that the French veto was so
'unreasonable' that a UN vote was pointless. In reality, Bush and
Blair had decided to go to war before Chirac uttered a word.
The disclosures will be seized on by anti-war critics in Britain,
including Left-wing MPs who say Mr Blair should be impeached for his
handling of the war.
However, Ministers will argue that after three major British inquiries
into the war, and with thousands of British troops due to be sent home
from Iraq this year, it is time to move on.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said last night: "These matters have been
thoroughly investigated and we stand by our position."
The book is: Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of
Global Rules, by Philippe Sands, (Allen Lane, 2005)
16 February 2006
Communism May Be Dead, But Clearly Not Dead Enough
By Seumas Milne
The battle over history reflects a determination to prove that no
political alternative can challenge the new global capitalism.
Fifteen years after communism was officially pronounced dead, its
spectre seems once again to be haunting Europe. Last month, the
Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly voted to condemn the
"crimes of totalitarian communist regimes", linking them with Nazism
and complaining that communist parties are still "legal and active in
some countries". Now Göran Lindblad, the conservative Swedish MP
behind the resolution, wants to go further. Demands that European
ministers launch a continent-wide anti-communist campaign - including
school textbook revisions, official memorial days and museums - only
narrowly missed the necessary two-thirds majority. Yesterday,
declaring himself delighted at the first international condemnation of
this "evil ideology", Lindblad pledged to bring the wider plans back
to the Council of Europe in the coming months.
He has chosen a good year for his ideological offensive: this is the
50th anniversary of Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin and the
subsequent Hungarian uprising, which will doubtless be the cue for
further excoriation of the communist record. The ground has been well
laid by a determined rewriting of history since the collapse of the
Soviet Union that has sought to portray 20thcentury communist leaders
as monsters equal to or surpassing Hitler in their depravity - and
communism and fascism as the two greatest evils of history's bloodiest
era. The latest contribution was last year's bestselling biography of
Mao by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, keenly endorsed by George Bush and
dismissed by China specialists as "bad history" and "misleading".
Paradoxically, given that there is no communist government left in
Europe outside Moldova, the attacks have if anything become more
extreme as time has gone on. A clue as to why that might be can be
found in the rambling report by Lindblad that led to the Council of
Europe declaration. Blaming class struggle and public ownership, he
explained that "different elements of communist ideology such as
equality or social justice still seduce many" and "a sort of nostalgia
for communism is still alive". Perhaps the real problem for Lindblad
and his rightwing allies in eastern Europe is that communism is not
dead enough - and they will only be content when they have driven a
stake through its heart and buried it at the crossroads at midnight.
The fashionable attempt to equate communism and Nazism is in reality a
moral and historical nonsense. Despite the cruelties of the Stalin
terror, there was no Soviet Treblinka or Sobibor, no extermination
camps built to murder millions. Nor did the Soviet Union launch the
most devastating war in history at a cost of more than 50 million
lives - in fact it played the decisive role in the defeat of the
German war machine. Lindblad and the Council of Europe adopt as fact
the wildest estimates of those "killed by communist regimes" (mostly
in famines) from the fiercely contested Black Book of Communism, which
also underplays the number of deaths attributable to Hitler. The real
records of repression now available from the Soviet archives are
horrific enough (799,455 people were recorded as executed between 1921
and 1953 and the labour camp population reached 2.5 million at its
peak) without engaging in an ideologically-fuelled inflation game.
But in any case, none of this explains why anyone might be nostalgic
in former communist states, now enjoying the delights of capitalist
restoration. The dominant account gives no sense of how communist
regimes renewed themselves after 1956 or why western leaders feared
they might overtake the capitalist world well into the 1960s. For all
its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern
Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass
education, job security and huge advances in social and gender
equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment, captured
even by critical films and books of the post-Stalin era such as
Wajda's Man of Marble and Rybakov's Children of the Arbat. Its
existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted
the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to
western global domination.
It would be easier to take the Council of Europe's condemnation of
communist state crimes seriously if it had also seen fit to denounce
the far bloodier record of European colonialism - which only finally
came to an end in the 1970s. This was a system of racist despotism,
which dominated the globe in Stalin's time. And while there is
precious little connection between the ideas of fascism and communism,
there is an intimate link between colonialism and Nazism. The terms
lebensraum and konzentrationslager were both first used by the German
colonial regime in south-west Africa (now Namibia), which committed
genocide against the Herero and Nama peoples and bequeathed its ideas
and personnel directly to the Nazi party.
Around 10 million Congolese died as a result of Belgian forced labour
and mass murder in the early 20th century; tens of millions perished
in avoidable or enforced famines in British-ruled India; up to a
million Algerians died in their war for independence, while
controversy now rages in France about a new law requiring teachers to
put a positive spin on colonial history. Comparable atrocities were
carried out by all European colonialists, but not a word of
condemnation from the Council of Europe - nor over the impact of
European intervention in the third world since decolonisation.
Presumably, European lives count for more.
No major 20th-century political tradition is without blood on its
hands, but battles over history are more about the future than the
past. Part of the current enthusiasm in official western circles for
dancing on the grave of communism is no doubt about relations with
today's Russia and China. But it also reflects a determination to
prove there is no alternative to the new global capitalist order - and
that any attempt to find one is bound to lead to suffering and
bloodshed. With the new imperialism now being resisted in both the
Muslim world and Latin America, growing international demands for
social justice and ever greater doubts about whether the environmental
crisis can be solved within the existing economic system, the pressure
for political and social alternatives will increase. The particular
form of society created by 20th-century communist parties will never
be replicated. But there are lessons to be learned from its successes
as well as its failures.
22 February 2006
Townships in Revolt as ANC Fails to Live Up to Its Promises
By Rory Carroll
Beatings, shootings and petrol bombs see some areas return to violence
of apartheid era.
They resemble scenes from another era: angry crowds, clashes with
police, shots, teargas and petrol bombs. Twelve years after apartheid
ended, some townships are again burning. This time the target is not a
racist white regime but the African National Congress, the liberation
movement which swept to power in 1994 on a wave of euphoria and the
promise of a better life for all.
The ruling party is facing a serious and occasionally violent revolt
in downtrodden communities, resulting in no-go areas for its members.
Councillors have been beaten, shot and burned out of their homes.
Party meetings have been ambushed. Several local branches have
disbanded or gone underground.
"It is not safe for me. I cannot go back in the current climate," said
Papi Tselane, 44, one of 14 ANC councillors forced to flee the
township of Khutsong after a mob destroyed their houses. The
councillors are living in a mining compound. Several councillors have
stepped down, said Bobo Ndlakuza, the ANC's election coordinator for
Merafong municipality, which includes Khutsong. "Some members think it
is not worth their lives and just lie low."
The party is being targeted in what was its heartland, the sprawls of
shacks and low-cost homes where millions of impoverished black people
The cause of unrest is economic. People are fed up waiting for jobs
and basic services such as electricity, clean water and sanitation.
The service delivery protests, as they are known, flared last year and
have grown in frequency and passion in the run-up to local elections
on March 1. Khutsong, a township of 170,000, 40 miles from
Johannesburg, has seen some of the worst trouble.
"We used to like the ANC because it brought freedom. But freedom is
not enough," said Solly Nyathi, an unemployed 18-year-old. As well as
jobs and decent schools, he said, his community wanted fly-blown tin
shacks replaced with decent houses. "Until we get that it will be
dangerous for the ANC."
He said the ANC mayor would be killed if he entered the town. He
pointed to the blackened shell of a councillor's home. "The protests
are not over."
Brigalia Bam, chairwoman of the Independent Electoral Commission, is
worried that a heavy police and army presence in Khutsong on voting
day could spoil South Africa's reputation for peaceful elections. "It
will send a very bad signal."
Paradoxically the country is richer and more stable than ever before.
Growth is touching 6%, consumer confidence is surging and the
country's credit rating has been upgraded. A budget deficit of just
0.5% of GDP is the lowest for 25 years. Sales of vehicles and property
are breaking records thanks to a growing black middle class.
Under President Thabo Mbeki the ANC has swept national and local
elections with bigger margins than under Nelson Mandela, giving it a
70% majority in parliament and control of all nine provinces. The
party may lose Cape Town to the opposition Democratic Alliance in next
month's ballot, and its support is expected to fall in five other big
cities, but it will take most of the nearly 8,000 local government seats.
Compared with apartheid's death throes, when thousands died, the
current protests are sporadic, largely bloodless and pose no immediate
threat to ANC hegemony. Yet commentators say the political landscape
could be shifting. Township discontent "scares the living hell" out of
whites as well as the black elite, said Xolela Mangcu, of
Witwatersrand University. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has warned of a
What lit the fuse in Khutsong was a boundary change which transferred
it from the rich province of Gauteng to the poorer North West, where
services are seen as worse. "The ANC sold us. They didn't even consult
us," said a protester.
Since 1994 the government has built 1.8m houses for the poor and
supplied millions of households with water and electricity for the
first time. But that has not kept pace with numbers migrating to
cities in search of work.
Incompetent and corrupt officials - the government admits that 136 out
of 284 municipalities are in deep trouble - have compounded the
crisis. According to official figures up to a quarter of the
population - 12 million people - live in shacks, a 50% rise from a
decade ago. Some 16 million lack proper sanitation.
Dozens of ANC councillors have quit and are standing as independents
with backing from civic associations. They will not halt the ANC
juggernaut but by teaming up with South Africa's vibrant social
movements and trade unions, analysts say they could lay the foundation
for a leftwing opposition.
Rattled, the ANC has mobilised. In tacit admission that local
government is a shambles it culled 60% of its councillors from its
list and promised that at least half of all new councillors would be
women, claiming they were less corrupt and better managers than men.
Earlier this month President Mbeki, proclaiming an "age of hope",
pledged to spend £39bn on clean water, sanitation and electricity to
all by 2012. He also pledged to replace shacks with houses.
Last week the ANC tried to reclaim Khutsong. While the party chairman,
Mosiuoa Lekota, addressed 150 supporters inside the local stadium,
some 2,000 protesters gathered outside. Stones rained down on the
visitors when they tried to leave, prompting police to fire teargas
and rubber bullets and make 100 arrests. Solly Nyathi, his eyes
stinging from the gas, predicted that Khutsong would boycott the
election: "People will vote for nothing because nothing is happening."
12m people live in tin shacks, a quarter of the population, a 50% rise
over the past 10 years
1% of people live below the international poverty line of $1 a day
26% is the official unemployment rate but trade unions claim the real
rate is nearer 40%. Yet 658,000 jobs were created in the past 12 months
80% of homes are connected to the national grid and 68% of poor people
receive a free water ration
Wednesday, 1 March
"Racism, Islamophobia and Freedom of Speech"
7.30pm Wed 1st March Bookfinders Cafe, University Road
A discussion on the publication of the Danish cartoons and the ensuing
Hosted by the Socialist Workers Party. All welcome.
Thursday, 2 March
US soldiers speaking tour of Ireland: Stop the US war & torture
Thursday 2nd March
1pm Thursday 2nd March, Room 211 Peter Froggatt Centre Queens University
7pm Thursday 2nd March, Transport House, High Street, Belfast
Contact Sean Mitchell +44 771 7123462 for more information
The Irish Anti-War Movement is pleased to announce a national speaking
tour of 18 meetings by two US soldiers - Frank Corcoran (Vietnam
Veterans Against War) and Benjamin Hart Viges (Iraq Veterans Against
the War). They will address meetings in most major cities and towns as
well as every major university in Ireland.
Benjamin Hart Viges said, "I am a member of Iraq Veterans Against the
War and Veterans for Peace. I was with the 82nd Airborne Division as a
Mortarman when my unit was deployed to Iraq in February 2003.
"I joined up the day after September the 11th 2001. I saw action in
Fallujah and Baghdad. My mortar platoon dropped numerous rounds on
the town of Samawa during the start of the invasion. I don't know how
many innocents I killed with my mortar rounds.
"I was so disgusted by the war that after we came home in January
2004, I filed for Conscientious Objector status and received CO status
in December 2004. I'm a Christian, what was I doing holding a gun to
another human being?"
Frank Corcoran served with the Marines in 1968 in Vietnam. He said, "I
have been a member of Philadelphia Veterans For Peace since 1990, I
have also been active in the School of Americas Watch campaign for
10-12 years. I am a cancer victim because of exposure to Agent Orange
while in Vietnam. I am an elementary school teacher for the past 20
years. I'm a Iraq Veterans Against War (IVAW) board member and a
volunteer staff member for IVAW for the past year and a half.
"I wasn't long in Vietnam before my two best friends were killed. It
was a long time before I could talk about what happened to me in
Vietnam. But now I want to tell his story has much as I can.
"In 2000 I travelled to Iraq to help repair a water treatment plant
destroyed by US bombing. I regularly speak at schools to help convince
American children not to join the army when they are older.
This national tour is part of the build-up to the international peace
protest on March 18th 2006. On that day every capital city on the
planet will hold a demonstration against the US led war and occupation
of Iraq. In Ireland the anti-war movement will also be calling for an
end to CIA torture flights through our airspace and an end to the use
of Shannon Airport by the US Military. This year alone over 300,000 US
troops have passed through Shannon Airport. The March 18 demonstration
in Ireland will take place at 2pm from Parnell Square, Dublin.
For interviews with our guest speakers please contact Donal Mac
Fhearraigh at 0876838746
Wednesday 1st March
1pm Theatre E Science Block University College Dublin
Contact Alan Byrne 0877750238 for more information
7pm ATGWU Hall 35-37 Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1
Contact Donal Mac Fhearraigh 0876838746 for more information
Thursday 2nd March
1pm Thursday 2nd March, Room 211 Peter Froggatt Centre Queens University
7pm Thursday 2nd March, Transport House, High Street, Belfast
Contact Sean Mitchell +44 771 7123462 for more information
Friday 3rd March
5pm Friday 3nd March, Badgers Bar, Orchard St, Derry
Contact Goretti Horgan +44 797 3528772 for more information
Saturday 4th March
Sligo - Contact Cllr Declan Bree 071-9145490 for information
7pm speaking at Marxism 2006 conference, Arts Block, Trinity College
Dublin "Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran: Resisting the American Empire". Other
speakers include: Sami Ramadami (Iraqi Democrats against Occupation),
Roudabeh Shafie (Action Iran) and Richard Boyd Barrett (Irish Anti-War
Monday 6th March
6pm Limerick City, venue tbc
Contact Mala O'Donohue 0877997506 for more information
Tuesday 7th March
6pm National University of Ireland Galway
Contact Kiran Emlich 0868443695 for more information
8.15pm Tuesday 7th March, Menlow Park Hotel, Galway
Contact Niall Farrell 0879159787 for more information
Wednesday 8th March
1pm University College Cork
Contact Gavin Ryan 0871305878 for more information
8pm Wednesday 8th March, An Spailpin Fanach, South Main Street, Cork
Contact Joe Moore 0872994796 for more information
Thursday 9th March
8pm Thursday 9th March, Grand Hotel, Tralee
Contact Kieran McNulty 0876716009 for more information
Friday 10th March
8pm Friday 10th March, The Granville Hotel, Waterford
Contact Deccy Cheasty 051852047 for more information
Saturday 11th March
Screening of film 'Hearts and Minds' about the Vietnam war, introduced
by Frank Corcoran, 12 noon Dublin in the Irish Film Centre, Eustace
St, Dublin 2 Contact Jim Roche 0876472737 for more information
Wednesday, 8 March
International Women's Day Wednesday 8th March 2006
Day and Evening events
Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Spanish Anti-Fascist War 1936-1939
The Clarion Call; Women & the Spanish Civil War: A talk and
photo/poster presentation will be given by Angela Jackson, in the
Central Hall, Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education on
Wednesday the 8th March 12.30pm to 15.30pm. (Refreshments at
12.30pm:)Edwina Stewart will introduce Angela Jackson and question
time/debate will be chaired by Myrtle Hill.
The BIFHE are hosting this event in the College Square East, as part
of their Centenary celebrations. On show for the first time will be a
photographic exhibition "A HUNDRED YEARS OF WOMEN AT THE TECH"
contrasting women who attended the college in the early part of the
20th century with women who attend the college in the present day.
(Leaflet will be available shortly).
Angela Jackson, a doctor of History from the University of Essex, now
lives in the Priorat, Catalonia. She moved there in 2002 after
visiting the area to research for her book, British Women and the
Spanish Civil War. (Routledge, London, 2002) Her interest in the
history of the cave hospital near the village of La Bisbal de Falset
led to the publication of a further book in Catalan and English,
Beyond the Battlefield (Warren & Pell, Pontypool, 2005). She continues
to be involved in the subject of memory and remembrance of the war
though her work as president of the association 'No Jubilem La
Memòria'. The work of the group so far has included the production of
a documentary based on interviews with International Brigaders and
local people, the organisation of commemorative events and lectures,
and the collection and exhibition of photographs taken in the area
during the civil war.
Edwina Stewart was a teacher in Ashfield Girls School and Comber High
School. Following in her parents footsteps (they were founder members
of the Communist Party of Ireland) Edwina continues her membership of
the CPI, and it is in this capacity that she knew some of those
families whose relatives went to fight in Spain against fascism. Her
mother Sadie Menzies was involved in the International Women's Day
events in the late 1940's. Edwina was also honorary secretary of the
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association from 1969 until the late
'70's. And as she says "I joined practically every peace and
solidarity organisation and I'm not finished yet." (Cited by Marilyn
Hyndman in Further Afield: Journeys from a Protestant past 1996) In
1962 as a serving teacher, Edwina was a student in Commercial Studies
at the 'Tech' in Belfast.
Myrtle Hill, who returned to study as a housewife and mother, is
currently Director of the Centre for Women's Studies at Queen's
University, Belfast. A senior lecturer in social, religious and
women's history, she has published widely in these areas; her most
recent book is Women in Ireland: A Century of Change, Belfast, 2003.
She continues to work on various aspects of Irish, particularly
northern Irish women's history, focusing more recently on the
complexities of how events are recorded and remembered. As coordinator
of the University's Access Programme, she maintains a strong interest
in the promotion of opportunities for mature students.
Social Event: 8th March: In the evening there will be an IWD event
held in the John Hewitt pub in Donegall Street 7.15pm to late. "Into
the Fire" a film about American Women's involvement in the Spanish
Civil War will be shown, followed by musicians/singers/poets,
Geraldine Bradley, Paul Bradley; Chad Dughie, Victoria Gleason &
others plus a poem sent by Sinead Morrissey. All proceeds from this
event will go the International Brigades Commemoration Committee who
intends to establish a memorial to those Belfast people who died
fighting with the International Brigade in Spain. (£6 waged & £2.00
Relatives of the International Brigade, who went to Spain from Ireland
will invited to the events which are supported by the International
Brigades Commemoration Committee; BIFHE; Belfast & District Trade
Union Council; and partly funded by the Northern Ireland Women's
Rights Movement. These events should appeal women's organisations,
students, historians, trade unionists, academics, & political activists.
All People Welcome
Tuesday, 21 Marcj
Tuesday 21 March, 8 p.m.
"Pearse and Connolly: their influence on each other"
Speaker: Mícheál Mac Aonghusa
Ireland Institute (27 Pearse Street)
Organised by the James Connolly Education Trust
Baile Átha Cliath
Máirt 21 Márta, 8 i.n.
"Pearse and Connolly: their influence on each other"
Cainteoir: Mícheál Mac Aonghusa
Institiúid na hÉireann (27 Sráid an Phiarsaigh)
REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST YOUTH MOVEMENT RAFFLE
The RSYM is selling tickets for a raffle will be April 17th, 11am at
Costello House. The prizes are a POW-made bodhrán (traditional Irish
drum), DVDs and assorted IRSM merchandise valued around 15 euro. The
price of each ticket is 2 euro, 1 pound or 3 dollars.
The funds raised from raffle ticket sales will help RSY to acquire a
banner, badges, pay for their website and so on. It's important work
in establishing the IRSM's youth wing and all sales are greatly
Official website of the International Brigade Commemoration Committee
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