Web Site http://theploughblog.blogspot.com/
Vol 5-No 11
Friday 3rd October 2008
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) The Bail- out
3) Political prisoners In Portlaoise-The background
4) March For Houses
a. Diplock courts still in use
6) What’s On
EDITORS NOTE .
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On the 30th of September the Chief Constable of the PSNI (RUC) said in a television interview;
'I think what we are seeing is that dissidents are getting and are prepared, to take more risk,' 'They are determined to kill a police officer.
That is the Continuity IRA, Real IRA and indeed INLA and there seems to be some almost bizarre competition to raise the level of attack to achieve the awful objective of killing a police officer just because there is someone out there protecting the communities.' 'They are just determined to cause mayhem, to actually bring Northern Ireland back to a place it is simply not going to go. So their plan is completely flawed at every level but I do think they see the political impasse at Stormont as an increased opportunity to recruit. The people we are arresting are not 50 or 60 year-olds from the old world, these are young people who are being targeted by dissidents - disenfranchised, marginalised youth, and young people who they are now turning to this to do their dirty work for them.'-
'We are confident that collectively we have a very good picture. It never will be a perfect picture - it never was a perfect picture it is not now.
I do think politicians and communities need to decide what they want to do.
In particular the politicians need to nail the political vacuum in which these people are now operating. Until they do that, quite frankly, I think the opportunities for recruiting more marginalised young people, the next generation into this crazy activity will continue.'
The reason for his statement?- the political vacuum at Stormont. For three months Provisional Sinn Fein and the DUP could not agree an agenda for meetings of the power sharing executive. There has been a paralysis at the heart of the power sharing administration and both sides have reverted to playing sectarian politics. Events including the so-called credit crunch will eventually force both sides into agreement.
But the Chief Constable knows that there is increasing disillusionment out there with the political process. The current international crisis of capitalism will have tremendous repercussions on the working classes both nationalist and unionist in all parts of Ireland. Those charged with the security of the state fear the politicisation of the youth, of the marginalised, of the working class. So by calling up the spectre of the so- called dissidents the Chief Constable hopes to demonise those who oppose the current political settlement and push the bourgeois politicians into co-operating.
Of course his warnings are based on a fundamental lie. The INLA are now on ceasefire for over ten years and are totally committed to that ceasefire. They have made it clear on a number of occasions that they believe that the tactic of armed struggle at this juncture in Irish history is wrong and have urged comrades to become totally involved in political class politics in Ireland. That has been the consistent position since 1998 and there is little prospect of that changing.
And there is no better time for comrades to engage in class struggle. The IRSP have always said that the class struggle and the national question were intertwined. At times too much emphasis has been place on the national question at the expense of the class question. Now there is a growing awareness world wide of the true face of capitalism. It is our job to help expose that face, engage on issues relevant to the class and along with others provide the revolutionary leadership that is needed at this time. Involvement in key issues such as social housing by IRSP comrades is a start but much, much more needs to be done. Events are moving in our favour.
In the heart land of USA capitalism Wall Street a protest was held against the bail-out plan of Bush. Leaflets proclaiming that "Capitalism has failed" were snapped up by the crowd of several thousands who were chanting slogans such as “You Broke it! You Buy it!" and "Bail out is Bullsh*t! The demonstrators included a large number of construction workers ‑ ironworkers, labourers, plumbers and steamfitters ‑ as well as teachers, city workers and others. The Wall Street Stock Exchange was covered with people who were chanting and some carried signs that read "Jump! You Fu*kers!" (a blunt message to the speculators and bankers in their towering offices above).
Even here in Ireland the leader of the Irish Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore has been forced by events to take a leftist stance. In the Irish Parliament in response to Fianna Fail Government's unprecedented move to guarantee the deposits and debts of six financial bodies, he said
a 'decade of corporate greed' had 'come home to roost'.. 'I can see what's in it for six chief executives of the six banks between them earning €13 million a year,' 'If you're proposing to hand over the deeds of the country to bail out the banks what are we getting in return?' “. What were the 'nuts and bolts' of the deal, The guarantee was 'just as likely to embolden the banks to take even greater risks'.
The Government 'could have bought a 50 per cent stake in the entire banks in this country for €5 billion. Instead you've given them a guarantee for almost €500 billion.'
Such sentiments will be shared by a vast majority of the people in the island as they struggle to met mortgage payments, avoid redundancy and try to raise the cash to pay the rapidly increasing bills for power heat and food. Others will be forced by economic constraints to go to the money-lenders. There is no better time to win sections of the working class to a revolutionary socialist programme. As the regime in Stormont remains paralysed and the elected politicians get more worked up about the GAA and flags and painting post boxes green the opportunity exists to mobilise class discontent and place firmly in the centre of political life the class struggle. A class struggle that we republicans socialists see as the essential part of the struggle for national liberation.
The Bail- out
The Emergency Economic Stabilisation Act proposes to put $700bn of taxpayers' money, which is the equivalent to 6% of America's annual output, to protect the USA banking system and not spend it on new hospitals, Medicare, more schools and better education. It is the equivalent to the entire cost of the Iraq war. would have ‘safeguards for taxpayers'. They knew it was just a bailout for the rich at the expense of the majority of working people.
The Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson who proposed the plan is the former head of Goldman Sachs, the most powerful investment bank in the world. He earned used to $40-50m a year in salary and bonuses. He represents just 1% of the population, those 450 billionaires in America and 3m millionaires who between them own 25% of all America's wealth.
The consequences of this huge bail-out will mean both inflation and stagnation which will also affect the whole of Europe. Millions will suffer, unemployment will grow, people will be made homeless, thousands will shiver through the winter unable to heat their homes.
Capitalism has failed. Thatcherism saw the rise of unrestrained capitalism. National assets were stripped bare and sold off to private businesses. With the collapse of the Soviet Union socialism was declared dead and we had come to the end of history- ie the class struggle. But now we see that the so called "free market" depends for its very survival on the taxpayer. Rather than prop up the market the taxpayers should demand the nationalsition of the banks and the taking back into public ownership of the key industries in the economy. Capitalism is bankrupt. Let us build socialism.
Political prisoners In Portlaoise-The background
Around the turn of the century just before the bulk of PIRA prisoners were released under the Good Friday Agreement a number of Real IRA prisoners were charged and brought into Portlaoise Jail in the 26-counties. The prison authorities and the screws were going to either disperse them to other prisons or to the 'bunker' where they would either have been criminalised or had to stay in solitary, as they had no landing to go on to.
The INLA prisoners intervened and gave them accommodation on the INLA E4 landing rather than see fellow republican prisoners in solitary confinement or being criminalised.
The Real IRA eventually got their own recognised landing on E3 and thanked the INLA for accommodating them. Since that time there remains a very good relationship between both sets of prisoners. Later the Continuity IRA found themselves in the exact same position and were to be moved to Limerick jail where they would have been treated as common criminals. Once again the INLA prisoners accommodated the CIRA prisoners on the INLA landing.
Then a number of years ago several PIRA prisoners found themselves in the same position as the Real and Continuity prisoners and once again the INLA prisoners accommodated them. So at this stage there were INLA prisoners, Provisionals and Continuity on the INLA landing of E4.
The Reals were on E3 and McKevitt's 'faction' a breakaway from the Real IRA on E2 and Gilligan's mob of criminal drug dealers were on E1.
The INLA prisoners( which included Declan Duffy, and Dessie ‘OHare two comrades demonised by the Fre Stae media) then drew up a Charter, which both the Provisionals and Continuity had an input into, and which enshrined the rights of all the groups, recognised each other’s organisations and structures, and agreed that all would be treated with equal respect and dignity and have an equal say in the landing.
Remember this was an INLA landing and in the past INLA prisoners had been treated extremely badly by PIRA command structures in jails and treated as common criminals. So the stand taken by the INLA prisoners with the full authority of their outside leadership was magnanimous and extremely tolerant.
Subsequently over the following few years from the Charter was introduced, all of the then existing INLA prisoners were released. This just left the Provisionals and Continuity and a small number who split from the Continuity on E4. Then last year the Provisional prisoners refused admittance to the wing to a Dundalk man charged with INLA membership. He had to remain in solitary confinement until the outside leadership of the Republican Socialist movement sorted out and the comrade was 'allowed' to go on to E4. Subsequently the Dundalk comrade got bail. Then last year the Provisional prisoners once again refused admittance to a man charged with keeping INLA weapons and once again the outside leadership of the Republican Socialist movement intervened resulting in him being admitted to E4.
On February 2008 a number of people were arrested in Cork and charged with INLA membership and when jailed they went onto the INLA E4 landing, the Provisional prisoners left and aligned themselves under Micky McKevit's command on E2.
Over the next number of months a number of people were charged with allegedly INLA activities and membership and others were released on bail. There are now currently 11 prisoners on E4 associated with the INLA and 8 or 9 out on bail.
Subsequently the PIRA prisoners broke both the spirit and letter of the Agreed Charter by claiming sole rights to visiting boxes. This is the background to the recent disturbance in Portlaoise. Despite that disturbance the Republican Socialist Movement remains committed to the Charter, regards all other political prisoners as political prisoners, makes no distinction between them and rejects any elitism among political prisoners. Our position has always been that if we can enhance the position of any republican prisoner regardless of affiliation we will do so
The Republican Socialist Movement are now attempting to make sure that there is a mechanism put in place which will ensure that whatever grievances exist, they can be resolved peacefully.
MARCH FOR HOUSES
The North Belfast Civil Rights Association recently called a press conference to publicise a march for housing on October 5th 2008
A number of homeless families appeared at the press conference. Mother of 2 young children, Sarah Jane Begley told reporters, she has been living in a one bed-room hostel in New Lodge Tower Blocks for the past 4 years. She said she could see no way out.
" I have 158 points but I've been told I need 170 to get a house. I know other families who have more points and they can't even get a house. The Housing Executive told there is no where for me to go apart from flats and I don't want a flat. It is depressing living there. My kids are going nuts because the place is so small”.
One family living in a one bed-roomed flat recently had 20 points deducted from their points allocation following the death of their baby son. The campaign has a series of demands including
One family One house Rent cap on landlords
End discrimination Security of tenure
More social housing no to high rise flats
This campaign is against a background of a paucity of social housing in North Belfast which weighs heavily against those from a perceived nationalist /catholic background who make up 83% of those on the Housing Executive’s waiting list. This is the direct result of past efforts by the establishment to segregate North Belfast. For the established political parties there is no incentive for them to provide adequate housing due to their dependency on sectarian voting patterns.
MARCH FOR HOUSES
SUNDAY 5TH OCTOBER
FROM CARRICK HOUSE HOSTEL (carrickhill Belfast assemble1.30pm) To customs house square campaigning for:
One family one house
Rent cap on landlords
Security of tenure
More social housing
organised by:north belfast civil rights association tel: 07973609362 email:firstname.lastname@example.org
WHO ARE WE ? - The North Belfast Civil Rights Association is a
non -party political association made up of community and housing activists concerned with the total lack of a progressive housing strategy that will begin to tackle the critical housing problems in North Belfast.
WHAT ARE WE ?- The North Belfast Civil Rights Association is a
non-sectarian, non-violent campaign aiming to highlight the ongoing housing crisis effecting working class communities in North Belfast.
WHY A CIVIL RIGHTS MARCH ? - Housing rights are civil rights!
Forty years on from the original campaign initiated by the NICRA it is once again necessary to demonstrate the inequalities, discrimination and housing poverty that exist today in 2008.
WHO SHOULD SUPPORT THIS CIVIL RIGHTS CAMPAIGN ? -
Families! Young People! Community Groups!
Residents Associations! Trade Unions! Political parties
Political activists! Students Parents
Ethnic minorities Human Rights Activists
Civil Rights activists Youth Organisations
WHO IS THIS CAMPAIGN DIRECTED AT? - This civil rights campaign is aimed at no individual, political tendency or specific section of our community. It is however aimed at exposing a system that allows for the continuation of discrimination that sees 83% of the current people waiting to be housed from the NIHE housing list in north Belfast, being from the Nationalist/Catholic community.
WHY NON SECTARIAN? - The NBCRA recognises that there are chronic housing conditions in many Unionist/Protestant working class areas. Indeed we note the current campaign against exploitation by Private developers in those areas. We support their campaign against exploitation and invite the Protestant working class and their representatives to support the –
MARCH FOR HOUSES! - WE SHALL OVERCOME 2008
Diplock courts still in use
(The Following letter was sent to the Andersonstown News in response to an article on Monday September 22nd 2008)
Andersonstown News Thursday http://www.belfastmedia.com/yourletters_article.php?ID=674
In your editorial on Monday you wrote about the problems faced by former republican prisoners who went through the Diplock non-jury court system.
I am sure a lot of your readers were surprised that we still face these sort of problems and I would like to thank your paper for highlighting these issues.
Towards the end of the article you wrote:
"There is of course the question of the very conveyor-belt system by way of which republicans were consigned to prison. The Diplock courts are completely discredited and a depressing reminder of a sorry past. The most debauched junta in the sorriest tin-pot state would have baulked at introducing such a travesty and calling it justice. And yet we had it here."
What surprised me about this is not that you pointed out the Diplock system was totally unjust, but you made it sound as if it was a thing of the past.
It is not a thing of the past. You ignored that this system is still in use today to imprison republicans. On the day your paper was printed yet another 'trial' started in the no-jury courts. Will this man have a fair trial in today's system, as opposed to what we had in the past? What in your opinion is different about the Diplock system of "our sorry past" and the Diplock system of today? I see no difference at all.
At the moment there are republicans imprisoned who went through the Diplock courts since 1998. Should you not also highlight their plight and call for their release? After all, they went through the very same system you say is "completely discredited".
If not why not?
Your article was in relation to an interview with Mickey Culbert from ex-prisoner group, Coiste na nIarchimí, who also failed to mention the political prisoners today. He did not say if the 17,000 former political prisoners he spoke about include prisoners released after the general release in 2000.
I would like to know if these republican prisoners are to be part of Mickey's project and have their records cleaned as well, or are they beyond the pale and to be treated as common criminals?
As Sin Féin moves lock, stock and barrel into the Northern State, it needs to be asked of them if they, and the ATN, support Diplock courts and do they believe if they are courts that justice can be had in?
The state police have even more powers today than they had during the conflict. A member of this force can stand up in court, and without evidence, say that s/he believes that the 'defendant' is a member of an illegal organisation and this is enough to get a conviction.
Why is Provisional Sinn Féin, or better still, nationalist newspapers like the ATN, not highlighting the wrongs that still exist in this "sorry tin-pot state"?
This is the "travesty" that is still being called "justice". Why?
Trade union Notes
New rates will be implemented from 7 October 2008 as follows:
National Minimum Wage
Adult rate - £5.73
18-21 year old rate - £4.77
Under 18 rate - £3.53.
THURSDAY, 9TH OCTOBER 7.30 P.M.
Octogenarian Hedy Epstein knows what she's talking about when it comes to fascism. She alone of all her family survived the Nazi anti-Jewish onslsaught in the Germany of the Thirties because her parents managed to send her out of the country on the Kindertransport. Her family subsequently perished in the concentration camps.
Because of her experiences Hedy became a strong campaigner for human rights. She has supported many causes including that of Palestinian liberation. She has consistently criticised the policies of the State of Israel, drawing comparisons between these and those of the Nazis. Because of this she has been the object of vitriolic attacks by the Zionist lobby.
She pulls no punches as the title of her latest tour of the UK and Britain shows :
NEVER AGAIN! - END ISRAEL'S WAR CRIMES
You have an opportunity to see and hear this amazing woman in the North for one evening only :
AN CULTURLANN, FALLS ROAD, BELFAST
THURSDAY, 9TH OCTOBER 7.30 P.M.
(There will be a small entrance fee 2/ 1 to cover costs and refreshments will be provided)
Tuesday October 21st at 7 pm.
The Belfast Salon explores the new politics of Northern Ireland.
Arranged marriage or meeting of minds?
The transformation of Provisional Republicanism from anti state insurgency to partners in government, is often described as a form of political rehabilitation, where, through skilful management and against all the odds, those at the margins are brought into the fold of mainstream politics.
Rejecting the so-called ‘great man’ or ‘betrayal’ approach to history and locating Irish republicanism in a global political context, a new book- The New Politics of Sinn Fein- draws parallels between the movement’s accommodation with the British state, its embrace of identity politics and the broader decline of universalist forms in contemporary politics.
The Belfast Salon will discuss these ideas with author Kevin Bean, looking at the redefinition of republicanism in the context of ideological changes that have taken place across the political spectrum over the past 20 years.
Tuesday October 21st at 7 pm.
Upstairs at the Spaniard, Skipper Street, Belfast
7.pm 9th of Oct. "GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT - ISSUES AND CHALLENGES THAT FACE OUR WORLD. Time: All Thursdays at 7.pm.
Place: Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Further info: http://www.learn.ie/www/product.asp?pID=117&cID=3