Dé Máirt, Feabhra 23, 2010

Imperialists Prevent Aid to Haiti

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti one month ago, as US president Barack Obama announced he was to send a 5,000 strong military force into the country, its Caribbean neighbour Cuba was mobilising the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade.

The Brigade is made up of graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine, as well as current fifth and sixth year students, and over 250 members are currently in Haiti, working with over 400 Cuba doctors who have been giving medical attention to the people of Haiti for over a decade.

This Cuban experience and expertise meant that for many people around the world who wanted to do something in response to the earthquake, it was only natural that supporting the Cuban initiative was a guaranteed way to ensure that aid would get where it needed to go.

In Ireland, the Cuba Support Group set up a PayPal account through which members of the public could make donations to the Medical Brigade. On January 27, however, a message was received from PayPal stating that the account could not continue:

“International customers must comply with the rules and regulations as promulgated by OFAC [US Office of Foreign Assets Control] as PayPal would be in violation, under the Trading with the Enemy Act, if we facilitated transactions where funds benefit Cuba.”

And so a clear signal has been sent that the US blockade of Cuba is being used to prevent desperately needed humanitarian aid from reaching earthquake survivors in Haiti.

The craven nature of the US government’s attitude is only magnified when compared to the actions of Cuba. The Henry Reeve Brigade was originally established in response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, and Cuba was the first country to offer medical aid in the aftermath of that tragedy.

Similarly, Cuba has also waived prohibitions on flights entering its airspace, in the name of ensuring that all humanitarian planes on their way to Haiti can reach their destination as quickly as possible.

Once again, the Cuban people have stood out as a shining example of internationalist solidarity. Anyone wishing to support their efforts in Haiti (and circumvent the US blockade) can make a donation to the Cuba Support Group’s Cuba Aid account.

Cuba Aid account
Bank of Ireland
177 Drimnagh Road
Dublin 12
Account No: 43208098
Sort Code: 90-02-87

Dé Céadaoin, Feabhra 17, 2010

NATO’s War of Terror Cranks Up a Gear

Twelve civilians were killed on Sunday past as NATO launched its largest military operation of the nine-year-old occupation of Afghanistan.

The civilians, 10 of them from the same family, died when two NATO rockets hit a house in which they were sheltering in the Nad Ali area of Helmand province. They were the first known civilian casualties of the massive offensive aimed at imposing foreign control on an area of Afghanistan that has so far successfully resisted the jackboot of the US-British led occupation.

The head of US and NATO forces in the Asian country, general Stanley McChrystal called the murders “regrettable” and claimed his forces would do all they can to “avoid future incidents”. The cast iron way of avoiding ‘future incidents’ – withdrawing all foreign forces from the country – unfortunately remains out of the question for people like McChrystal and their superiors.

A top pro-US Afghan army commander today claimed that the Nad Ali and Marjah districts were now under NATO control as most guerrilla fighters have left the battlefield. However, booby-traps and mines are thought to have been left to greet the 15,000-strong military contingent, while seven members of the occupation forces have been killed since Operation Moshtarak was launched before dawn on Saturday [February 13].

Arch US war monger Dick Cheney has meanwhile given his whole hearted backing to US president Barak Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan. The former US vice-president in the regime of George W Bush made the comments in an interview on US television yesterday.

“I’m a complete supporter of what they are doing in Afghanistan. I think the president made the right decision to send troops in. I’m not a critic, in terms of how they’re dealing with that situation,” Cheney said.

However, on the issue of torture, Cheney was less supportive of the US leader. Speaking on the same programme, he argued that the “enhanced interrogation techniques”, including water boarding, that he introduced while in power, should be publicly retained for use.

“I think you ought to have all of those capabilities on the table,” Cheney insisted.

“Now, President Obama has taken them off the table. He announced when he came in last year that they would never use anything other than the US Army Manual which doesn’t include those techniques. I think that’s a mistake.”

While Obama’s vice-president Joe Biden hit back at Cheney’s criticisms, many commentators have pointed out that the war of words between the two only helps to obscure the fact the Democrat administration is, in fact, following largely the same policies of the Bush era, including drone attacks in Pakistan, military and political interference in Afghanistan and Iraq and the assassination of targets outside US territory.

“Here, again, Cheney is barking up the wrong tree. He is just trying to create a difference that doesn’t exist for political purposes,” admitted US senator Mike Gravel.

This fact was underlined early today by yet another US drone attack in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan that resulted in the deaths of at least three people.

It remains clear that the US, Britain and their NATO conglomeration will stop at nothing to attain their economic and political ends. Bombs will be dropped, civilians who ‘get in the way’ will be butchered and those who dare to resist will be treated mercilessly. To talk of peace anywhere in this context is naive in the extreme.

Dé hAoine, Feabhra 12, 2010

Iarracht fánach forghabháileacht na Sé contae a ghnathú atá i gceist le cineach cumhachtaí poilíneachta agus dlí
(English version follows)

Chuir urlabhraí eirigí i dTír Chonaill Micheál Cholm Macgiolla Easbuig chun siúl an socrú idir Sinn Féin agus an DUP chun cumhachtaí poilíneachta agus dlí a ‘chineachadh’ chuig Stormont; is iarracht fhánach é forghabháileacht na Sé contae a ghnathú. Dá réir ní fhéadfadh an margadh seo an ‘aiseirí nua’ i bpoilíneacht a bhfuil geallta ó aistrigh teidil an RUC go dtí an PSNI i 2001.

De réir MacGiolla Easbuig, “ní dheanfaidh an socrú seo aon difir i dtaobh oibríocht an PSNI agus córas dlíthiúl na Breataine ar fud na Sé contae. I gcodarsnacht leis na héilimhí atá déanta maidir le ‘freagrachas’ agus ‘aistriú cumhachtaí, tá an réaltacht; tá rialtas na Breataine fós i gceannas ar an PSNI agus ní aistreofar an méid seo go dtí go bhfuil an Bhreatain cúlaithe as ár dtír agus Éire aontaithe again.

Dúirt sé, “ní gnáth seirbhís phoilíneacht chathartha an PSNI. Is fórsa amhrasach para-míleatach é. Leanann siad orthu ag treascú chearta an duine i dtaobh gníomhaí poilitiúla agus an daonra sibhialtacht go ginearálta, léirithe le déanaí i mbreithiúnas an Chúirt Eorpach um Chearta an Duine.

“D’aineoinn an breithiúnas coimeadann an PSNI orthu daoine ag stopadh agus cuardú faoi chumhachtaí speisíalta draganta agus mídlíthiúl. Tá siad fós ag iarraidh dearbhchasaoid poilitiúl a chosc. Leanann siad orthu ag scaoileadh piléar plaisteacha agus ag coimead daoine i ngeibhinn ar feadh 28 lá.

“Is cuid den phróiséis sin an margadh seo; an iarracht is deanaí forghabháil ar chuid dár dtír a ghnáthú. Teipfidh an iarracht seo sa tslí chéanna a theip ar gach iarracht eile, is léir nach bhfuil críochdheighilt na tíre seo, nó eiseadh na Sé contae, indéanta nó inghlactha.

“Mar chonclúid, ní fhéadfar poilíneacht Briotánach a athchoiriú in Éirinn. Is é feidhm lárnach an PSNI forghabháil Bhriotánach na tíre seo a chosaint agus riail na Breataine a chuir i bhfeidhm in Éirinn. Ní dhéanann an margadh seo an fíric sin a aistriú agus beidh éirígí ag meadú an fheachtais i gcoinne an PSNI para-míleatach sna laethanta amach romhainn. Spreagfaimid gach poblachtaigh an rud céanna a dhéanamh."

Devolution of policing & justice powers futile attempt to normalise occupation of six counties

éirígí Tír Chonaill spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has dismissed the deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP to 'devolve' policing & justice powers to Stormont as just another ultimately futile attempt to normalise the continued British occupation of the six-counties. He also claimed that the move would not bring about the “new beginning” to policing that has been promised since the RUC changed their name to become the PSNI in 2001.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: “This deal will not make the slightest difference as to how the PSNI and the British legal system operates throughout the six counties. Contrary to the claims being made of 'accountability' and the 'transfer of powers', the reality is that the British government retain full control of the PSNI and will do so until the British are forced to withdraw from our country and we achieve a united Ireland.”

He added: “The PSNI are not a normal or a civic police force. They are a discredited paramilitary force who continue to engage in widespread human rights abuses against political activists and the civilian population in general as confirmed by the recent judgement from the European Court of Human Rights.”

“Despite that ruling, they continue to stop and search people under their draconian and illegal special powers. They continue attempting to stifle political protest. They continue to fire plastic bullets and to implement 28 – day detentions and further repressive legislation.”

“This deal is a part of that process, just the latest attempt to try to 'normalise' the continued occupation of part of this country. It is an attempt that, like all previous such initiatives, will ultimately fail as partition and the six-county statelet is neither feasible nor acceptable.”

He concluded: “British policing in Ireland cannot be reformed. The PSNI's main function is to protect the British occupation and enforce British rule in Ireland. This deal changes nothing in this regard and as such éirígí will be stepping up our campaign against the paramilitary PSNI in the coming weeks and months ahead. We would urge all republicans to do likewise.”

Dé Luain, Feabhra 08, 2010

Protest Against Section 44 & the PSNI

As reported previously on this site, an average of 100 nationalists are being stopped & searched every day of every week by the PSNI under repressive legislation.

Last year alone, at least 20,000 people were harassed by Britain’s political police under Section 44 of the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act’ and the Justice & Security Act 2007.

éirígí activists have been among those targeted by the PSNI using these pieces of foreign legislation (PSNI Repression on the Rise).

On Saturday past (6th February), just one day after an alleged new dawn in British policing in Ireland was declared, it was business as usual for the PSNI in west Belfast.

Four éirígí activists were detained in the Beechmount area by the political police using the now notorious Section 44 and Justice & Security Act legislation. The car that three of the men were travelling in was boxed in by two armoured jeeps before the vehicle and its occupants were searched by the paramilitary police. Initially, the PSNI claimed they were detaining the men under road traffic legislation, yet, when the driver produced all the necessary documentation, Section 44 came into play.

When John McCusker, the chairperson of one éirígí ciorcal in Belfast, arrived on the scene in support of the activists, he too was detained, searched and had his mobile phone seized on the spurious grounds that it was being used to “gather information likely to be of use to terrorists”.

The éirígí activists in question, including national vice-chairperson Rab Jackson, had just hung large anti-PSNI banners on the Falls and Springfield Roads prior to being stopped and searched. The text of the banners read RUC- PSNI: Different Name, Same Aim and British Police Out Of Ireland.

As the PSNI were leaving the scene, the officer in charge admitted that, far from investigating any ‘terrorist’ incident, the activists were actually detained for hanging banners critical of the force.

In response to the increased use of repressive legislation against the nationalist community and the harassment of its activists, éirígí has called a demonstration at the Andersonstown Barracks site in Belfast on Monday night at 6pm.

Speaking after the incident, John McCusker said: “The PSNI’s actions on Saturday morning were a prime example of what is wrong with British policing in Ireland. Using so-called anti-terror legislation to attempt to prevent people putting up banners exposes the deeply abnormal nature of British policing in the Six Counties. The fact that the PSNI have used Section 44 and similar legislation on at least 20,000 occasions in the last 12 months further illustrates that abnormality.

“The banners that were erected were designed to highlight the fact that, despite the change of name, the primary aim of the PSNI is exactly the same as the primary aim of the RUC – to protect the British occupation of the Six Counties. Ironically the actions of the PSNI this morning proved just that point. The type of heavy-handed political policing that we were subjected to is exactly the type of thing the RUC were infamous for.

“éirígí intends to step up its campaign against the PSNI over the coming weeks and months. Incidents like Saturday’s only increase our resolve to expose the unchanged nature of the PSNI. We are appealing for as many people as possible to join the protest in Andersonstown on Monday to demonstrate that nationalists and republicans won’t be intimidated by Britain’s police force in Ireland.”

Dé Sathairn, Feabhra 06, 2010

Céim ar Aghaidh, Céim ar Ais don Ghaeloideachas


(English version follows.)

Bhí cúis cheiliúrtha ag tuismitheoirí agus ag múinteoirí i scoileanna Gaeilge an tseachtain seo caite nuair a d’aistarraing Roinn Oideachais na Sé Chondae Fichead Ciorclán 0044/2007 faoi dheireadh.

Thug an ciorclán, tugtha isteach ag an roinn in 2007, thug sé faoi bhonn a bhaint ón phróiseas luath-thumoideachais atá in úsáid go rathúil ag Gaelscoileanna ar fud na tíre. Chuir oideoirí agus tuismitheoirí ina éadan ón tús, agus thóg dhá scoil cás cúirte in aghaidh na roinne le cur in éadan tabhairt isteach an chiorcláin.

Dúirt Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, Ard-Rúnaí Fhoras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge go bhfuil “ard mholadh ag dul do na scoileanna seo, na hiarratasóirí sa chás leis an bhForas Pátrúnachta, a chuir chun cinn cás an luath-thumoideachas agus a thábhacht i bhforbairt acadúil agus sóisialta an dalta.

“Creideann an Foras Pátrúnachta go láidir sa chóras luath-thumoideachas a chleachtar inár gcuid scoileanna feictear ó lá go lá na buntáistí atá leis ó thaobh sealbhú teanga agus buntáistí ginearálta oideachasúil.”

Tá maíte ag aire oideachais na Sé Chondae Fichead Batt O’Keeffe freisin go bhfuil sé ag smaoineamh faoi chúrsa tumoideachais ceithre seachtaine a thabhairt isteach do dhaltaí iar-bhunscoile, rud ar cuireadh fáilte fhairsing roimhe chomh maith.

Ach an rud a thugtar le lámh amháin is, féidir baint leis an lámh eile. Go gar i ndiaidh an fhógra ar an chiorclán, mhaígh O’Keeffe go tobann go raibh Ollscoil na hÉireann [OÉ] le díscaoileadh.

Rinneadh an cinneadh chun €1 milliún [£871,000] suarach a shábháil, agus is iomaí ceist gan freagra atá fágtha, ról na Gaeilge i gcomhcholáistí OÉ amach anseo san áireamh.

Tá an Ghaeilge ar na riachtanais mháithreánacha d’OÉ Gaillimh, OÉ Maigh Nuad, Coláiste Ollscoile Chorcaí agus Coláiste Ollscoile BÁC, agus tá cur chun cinn scoláireacht agus taighde ar an Ghaeilge agus ar an chultúr Ghaelach, chomh maith le stair agus oidhreacht chultúrtha, mar chuid de shainchúraimí OÉ. Is cosúil go ndéanfaidh na coláistí aonair cinneadh ar na ceisteanna seo as seo amach, agus seans go dtitfidh stádas na Gaeilge arís eile má tá tuilleadh bearta costchiorruithe tugtha isteach.

Dúirt Ard-Rúnaí Chonradh na Gaeilge Julian de Spáinn go bhfuiltear ag súil go gcoinneoidh na hollscoileanna an Ghaeilge mar riachtanas iontrála, agus gur chóir sampla Shasana a sheachaint, áit ar cuireadh deireadh le dualgas teanga sna scoileanna agus a chonaic titim mhillteanach i líon na ndaltaí ag staidéir teangacha ag an dara leibhéal.

Sna Sé Chondae an tseachtain seo caite, bhí imeacht ag aire oideachais i reachtas Stormont na Breataine, Caitríona Ruane, bhí imeacht aici san áras comhairle glóirithe ag ceiliúradh daichead bliain den Ghaeloideachas sa stáitín.

D’oscail Bunscoil Phobal Feirste a doirse mí Mheán Fómhair 1971 don chéad naonúr daltaí, agus faoi láthair déanann freastal ar beagnach 300 páiste gach bliain. Seans go ndéanfadh duine ciniciúil machnamh ar an fháth gur tharla an imeacht breis agus bliain go leith roimh chomóradh na daicheadú bliain, go háirithe leis na deacrachtaí reatha i gcaomhnú réimis Stormont.

Ina hóráid, dúirt Ruane: “Déanaim comhghairdeas le Bunscoil Phobal Feirste agus le pobal na Gaeltachta as a gcéad 40 bliain de bheith ag soláthar oideachais inár dteanga dhúchais. Rinne an scoil cheannródaíoch seo dul chun cinn le fás an Ghaeloideachais i bpobal dinimiciúil rathúil.”

Ar ndóigh, dá mbeifeá ag fiafraí faoi sheasamh Ruane féin ar a leithéid de scoileanna ceannródaíocha, seasfaidh a diúltú aitheantas a thabhairt do Choláiste Speirín sa Chorr Chríochach mar thaifead dá tiomantas do fhás an Ghaeloideachais. I mí Dheireadh Fómhair anuraidh, dhiúltaigh Ruane do mholadh forbartha do Ghaelscoil i Machaire Fíolta freisin, scoil a d’fhéadfadh bheith ina scoil fhriothálach do Choláiste Speirín dá dtabharfaí deis don choláiste.

Ar shiúl ó shaol pholaitíocht na bunaíochta, an tseachtain seo caite seoladh clár Rith 2010, an rith sealaíochta atá eagraithe mar chuid de Sheachtain na Gaeilge.

Is é Korrika na mBascach an múnla don Rith, agus tosóidh sé i mBéal Feirste ar 9ú Márta, ag teannadh go Cathair na Gaillimhe do 17ú Márta, ag clúdach 1600km, ag taisteal tríd na cúig chúigí, cúig chondae dhéag agus 150 baile ar an bhealach.

Cosúil lena macasamhail Bhascach, beidh Rith ina ceiliúradh ar an teanga agus cultúr dúchais agus maraon ina thiomsú airgid do ghluaiseacht na teanga. Tarlóidh sé achan dara bliain agus rachaidh gach pingin a bhaileofar isteach i gciste neamhspleách ar mhaithe le cur chun cinn tograí Gaeilge ar fud na tíre.

Duine ar bith atá ag iarraidh bheith páirteach i Rith 2010, nó atá ag iarraidh tacú leis an tionscadal, is féidir leo tuilleadh a eolais a fháil ag www.rith.ie.

One Step Forward, One Step Back for Irish Language Education

Parents and teachers in Irish-medium schools had cause to celebrate last week when the Twenty-Six County Department of Education and Science finally withdrew Circular 0044/2007.

The circular, introduced by the department in 2007, sought to undermine the early-immersion process that has been used successfully by Gaelscoileanna throughout the country. It was opposed from the beginning by educators and parents, and two schools took a court case against the department opposing the introduction of the circular.

Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, general secretary of Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge [the patronage body for Irish-medium schools], said: “We must recognise and thank these schools, who were the applicants with An Foras Pátrúnachta in the review, and who put forward the case for Early-Immersion Education and its importance to the academic and social development of the child.

“An Foras Pátrúnachta believes very strongly in the early-immersion system that is practised in our schools and, on a daily basis, we see its benefits in language acquisition and, indeed, overall educational performance.”

Twenty-Six County education minister Batt O’Keeffe has also announced that he is considering introducing a four-week immersion course for post-primary students, which has also been widely welcomed.

But what is given with one hand can also be taken away with the other. Shortly after the announcement on the circular, O’Keeffe suddenly announced that the National University of Ireland [NUI] was to be dissolved.

The decision was made in order to save a paltry €1 million [£871,000] a year, and has left a mountain of unanswered questions, not least of which is the future position of the Irish language in NUI’s constituent colleges.

NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, University College Cork and University College Dublin all include Irish as part of their matriculation requirements, and part of NUI’s remit also includes the promotion of scholarship and research into Irish language and culture, as well as history and cultural heritage. Decisions on these issues will likely now be made by individual colleges, with the chance that the position of the Irish language could suffer further if more cost-cutting measures are introduced.

Conradh na Gaeilge general secretary Julian de Spáinn said: “We would hope that the universities that were under NUI retain the Irish language as an entry requirement. It would make sense to avoid the example of our nearest neighbour, England, which removed language learning as an obligation in the schools and has seen the numbers of students taking languages at second level fall catastrophically.”

In the Six Counties last week, Caitríona Ruane, education minister in Britain’s Stormont administration, recently held an event in the glorified council building celebrating the 40th anniversary of Irish-medium education in the statelet.

Bunscoil Phobal Feirste opened its doors in September 1971 to the first nine pupils, and currently caters for almost 300 children every year. A cynical person might wonder why the event was held more than a year and a half before the actual 40th anniversary, especially given the current difficulties in propping up the Stormont regime.

In her speech, Ruane said: “I warmly congratulate Bunscoil Phobal Feirste and the gaeltacht community on their first 40 years of providing education in what is our native language. This pioneering school has led the growth of Irish medium education in a thriving dynamic community.”

Of course, if one were looking for Ruane’s own position on such pioneering schools, her refusal to give recognition to Coláiste Speirín in Cookstown will stand as a record of her commitment to the growth of Irish-medium education. In October last year, Ruane also turned down the development proposal for a Gaelscoil in Magherafelt, which could have been another feeder school for Coláiste Speirín if the college had been given a chance.

Away from the world of establishment politics, last week also saw the launch of the programme for Rith 2010, the relay-run being organised as part of Seachtain na Gaeilge.

Rith is modelled on the Basque Korrika, and will begin in Belfast on March 9, making its way to Galway City for March 17, covering 1600km, travelling through all four provinces, 15 counties and 150 towns on its way.

Like its Basque counterpart, Rith will be a celebration of the native language and culture as well a fundraiser for the language movement. It will take place every two years and all money raised will go into an independent fund for the development of Irish language projects throughout the country.

Anyone looking to participate in Rith 2010 or who would like to support the initiative in some way can find out more at www.rith.ie.

Dé Luain, Feabhra 01, 2010

Bloody Sunday 2010 – Set the Truth Free


In one of the largest Bloody Sunday commemorations of recent years, thousands of people marched through Derry City yesterday [Sunday] in solidarity with the families of the dead and the injured.

Tracing the route of the original civil rights demonstration, marchers departed from Creggan Shops and made their way through the cold winter’s day to William Street where, in 1972, the march was stopped on its way to the Guildhall.

Around 150 éirígí activists and supporters took part in the march.

On arrival at William Street, the driving rain and dark skies set a sombre scene of remembrance for those who were butchered by the British Parachute Regiment close to that spot.

On the stage, relatives of each of the 14 dead, along with the wounded, briefly recounted the pain that had been inflicted upon their families and demanded that the British government admit the truth of what happened on January 30, 1972.

Following a minute’s silence, John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead by the Paras, read a statement from all of the Bloody Sunday families.

Kelly demanded that the long-delayed Saville Report be published immediately and expressed concern that the report will be seen by the British government and the British Ministry of Defence before even the families of the dead will see it.

“They say that patience is a virtue and we’ve shown great patience but our patience is now wearing very thin indeed,” he said.

“We’ve had delay after delay waiting for the report of the Bloody Sunday inquiry. For the past few years we’ve hoped that the report would be released only to have our hopes dashed.”

éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said the determination of the Bloody Sunday families was an inspiration to all those campaigning for justice.

“Judging by the large attendance at yesterday’s march, it is clear that nationalist Ireland will not allow the British government’s dodging of the blame for what happened on Bloody Sunday to rest,” he said.

“It is totally unacceptable that the British establishment will have access to, and the ability to censor, Saville’s report before even the relatives of the victims are allowed to see it. The report should be published without delay.

“The long campaign that has been fought by the Bloody Sunday families and the people of Derry for the British government to admit what it did in the city has been an inspiration to victims of injustice around the world.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “The actions of the British army in January 1972 drowned in blood the peaceful civil rights movement and made it clear that there could be no civil rights without national rights.

“38 years later, the task of removing the perpetrators from Ireland remains. That is the only way to ensure there will be no more Bloody Sundays in this country.”