Spokesperson for éirígí Tir Chonaill, Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, has called on people to continue to support the people of Palestine who continue to suffer under Israeli occupation. His comments come as demonstrations are due to be held tomorrow in memory of Jawaher Abu Rahmah who was killed recently during protests in the village of Bil'in.
éirígí Palestinian demonstration in
Calling for support, Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig said "It is important that we continue to support the people of Palestine and do not let the message of their plight fade. As has been in previous protests here in Donegal and indeed across the whole of Ireland, there has been much support for the Palestinian people. But this support must continue and solidarity with the people of Palestine must also continue to bring real change. Only then will we get the brutal Israeli regime to understand that their illegal occupation is unaccepted internationally. The people of the small Palestinian village of Bil'in bravely continue with their weekly protests against the Israeli occupation so we should stand in solidarity with them when we can."
The small village of Bil’in has been a focal point and a symbol of resistance in recent years against the construction of Israel’s illegal Apartheid Wall and against the occupation of Palestine in general.
Located just over 10 km from Ramallah in the West Bank, since 2005 this village of less than 2000 residents has been the scene of weekly peaceful protests against the 700km long wall, which the International Court of Justice has ruled is in violation of international law.
The response of the zionist regime to these protests, despite their non-violent nature, has been to unleash lethal force against those participating in them. Their violent repression, using tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition has resulted in countless serious injuries and deaths.
The latest casualty was 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who was killed on New Year’s Day as the Israeli occupation forces attacked the weekly demonstration yet again. She died after inhaling toxic tear-gas fired at demonstrators by Israeli troops, becoming the first Palestinian casualty of the occupation in 2011.
Jawaher is not the first member of her family to be injured or die at the hands of the occupation troops at these weekly demonstrations.
Jawaher Abu Rahmah
In July 2008, her brother Ashraf Abu Rahma was deliberately shot and wounded with a rubber bullet by an Israeli soldier standing right next to him. This was despite the fact that the military had cuffed and blindfolded Ashraf after detaining him for taking part in part in protests against the wall in the nearby village of Ni’lin.
In April 2009, another brother, Bassem Abu Rahmah, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier who hit him in the chest with a high velocity tear gas canister.
Less than 3 months earlier, in January 2009, their cousin Khamis Fathi Abu Rahmah was shot in the head with a similar high velocity tear gas canister, also while attending the weekly protest. He was hit as he held his hands above his head to show he was unarmed. Despite being seriously wounded and remaining in a coma for 12 days, Khamis was lucky to survive, though his injuries cause him suffering to this day.
Local protest organisers and leaders have also being singled out by the Israelis for arrest and imprisonment in an attempt to quash the protests and intimidate those taking part.
On the night of December 12 2009, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the co-ordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, was kidnapped by Israeli forces who raided his home at 2 in the morning. He was blindfolded and remanded in Israeli custody. After an eight month long trial before a military court and despite the absence of any evidence against him, Abdallah was found guilty of “incitement” and “illegal protest” and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.
According to Amnesty International, Abdallah is a prisoner of conscience, “jailed solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and assembly”.
He was due for release on November 18 last year, but was kept imprisoned as Israeli authorities sought to have his sentence extended. Earlier this month, an Israeli Military Court of Appeals at Ofer increased his sentence from 12 to 16 months.
Abdallah’s real ‘crime’, and that of the population of Bil’in, has been that they have refused to allow themselves be intimidated into submission. They have stubbornly resisted everything the state of Israel has thrown at them and have fought tooth and nail in defence of their rights, against the construction of the wall, against the theft of their land, against the illegal settlements and against the occupation of Palestine itself.
Tomorrow [February 1], demonstrations organised by the Queens University Belfast Palestinian Society and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign will take place in Belfast and Dublin. They are being held to honour the memory of Jawaher exactly one month on from her killing and to express solidarity with the people of Bil’in in their ongoing struggle against the Israeli occupation and repression.
The Belfast demo commences at 12 noon at Queens University Student Union, with the Dublin event commencing at 1pm outside the Israeli Embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
éirígí Ard-Fheis Decides on Electoral Intervention
The socialist republican party éirígí held its Ard-Fheis on Belfast’s Falls Road earlier today [Sunday], at which the membership voted in favour of contesting upcoming local elections in the Six Counties. Candidates will definitely stand in Belfast, with names to be announced in the very near future.
The Ard-Fheis, which was held in the Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich cultural centre, was attended by more than 200 people and was addressed by speakers from the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Latin American Solidarity Centre, the Independent Workers’ Union, FEE, as well as cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson and rúnaí ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith.
Messages of solidarity were also sent by the Cuban ambassador to Ireland Teresita Trujillo and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Regarding the decision taken by the party membership on the Six County local elections, Brian Leeson said: “Five years on from the formation of éirígí, the party feels the time is right to make an electoral intervention in order to further promote a resurgent socialist republicanism.
“éirígí has no illusions about the nature of electoral politics in the Six Counties and, indeed, across Ireland. The Six Counties is an irreformably corrupt, sectarian state. No amount of elections to local councils, assemblies or foreign parliaments can change that fact.
“We believe there is a real appetite for a radical voice to emerge from working class communities that will forcefully challenge the British occupation and economic exploitation and deprivation.
Leeson added: “Ultimately, the cuts that are being implemented by the British government and its puppet administration at Stormont will have to be defeated on the streets, in our communities and in people’s workplaces. éirígí will be making the case for this course of action throughout the forthcoming election campaign.”
Fuair an rialtas agus An Bord Pleanála cáineadh géar ó Mhicheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, ó éirígí Thír Chonaill. Tagann sé i ndiaidh don Bhord Pleanála faomhadh pleanála a thabhairt do Shell E&P Ireland don chuid deiridh de phíblíne gáis na Coiribe i gCondae Mhaigh Eo. Ba é an t-iarratas ar fhaomhadh pleanála an tríú ceann le deich mbliana anuas mar gur diúltaíodh don dá iarratas roimhe ar chúinsí sláinte agus sábháilteachta.
Mar chuid de shlí fhaofa na píblíne, a iompróidh gás ón gháscheantar amach ón chósta go dtí an críochfort gáis €1 billiún ag Gleann na nGad, beidh tollán 5km fo-uisce tríd Bhá pictiúrtha Shruth Fada Conn, Condae Maigh Eo. Ónar fuarthas an gáscheantar in 1996 bhí cur i gcoinne uafásach do Thionscnamh Ghás na Coiribe ó chónaitheoirí áitiúla a raibh imní orthu i dtaobh sláinte agus sábháilteachta agus ó ghníomhaithe timpeallachta in éadan an tionchair a bheadh ag an tionscnamh ar an cheantar áitiúil. Bhí cur i gcoinne freisin do chomhlachtaí príobháideacha ar nós Shell ag fáil ceadaithe ón rialtas chun acmhainní nádúrtha luachmhara a bhaint ó uiscí na hÉireann.
Ag caint faoi nuacht fhaomhadh an cheada pleanála do Shell E&P Ireland, dúirt an t-urlabhraí éirígí, “Is cúis náire amach is amach é gur thug an rialtas agus An Bord Pleanála an cead don phíblíne gáis seo. Is eiseamláir eile é don rialtas ag cur mhuintir na hÉireann faoi chois chun comhlachtaí móra ilnáisiúnta príobháideacha a shásamh. Tá géarchéim eacnamaíochta sa tír seo mar gheall ar an chineál seo iompair.
“Anseo i nDún na nGall tá dífhostaíocht ollmhór againn agus daoine ag cailleadh a dtithe mar gheall ar na blianta a raibh na daoine i dTeach Laighean uiríseal i láthair na gcomhlachtaí príobháideacha agus tarrtháil na mbanc a tharla dá bharr, a bhí de dhíth leis an chóras lofa sin a choinneáil ar uachtar,” arsa é.
“I mbliana beidh ar na deiche míle daoine dul ar an bhád bhán ag lorg oibre, mar aon leis na mílte ó Dhún na nGall atá imithe cheana féin, mar gheall ar mhíláimhseáil áiféiseach riaradh na tír seo ag scothaicme pholaitiúil shaibhir. Ach tá an chuma nár fhoghlaim an scothaicme sin faic. Thug siad an cead pleanála seo beag beann ar na daoine áitiúla i gCondae Mhaigh Eo ar neamhchead dá n-imní ná dá mianta díreach chun go dtig le Shell an acmhainn nádúrtha seo le luach na mbillún euro a phumpáil istír a í a dhíol do mhuintir na hÉireann ag praghas iomlán chun brabús a chruthú do chomhlacht eachtrannach phríobháideach agus dá scairshealbhóirí.
Agus é ag éileamh athrú polasaí maidir le hacmhainní nádúrtha na hÉireann, dúirt an tUasal Mac Giolla Easbuig, “Is le muintir na hÉireann na hacmhainní ar nós gáis agus ola a bhfuil ina luí i limistéar na hÉireann, bíodh siad ar talamh nó ar farraige. I dtréimhse ina bhfuil an tír i dtubaiste eacnamaíochta agus ina bhfuil an IMF agus ECB anois i gceannas ar chúrsaí, ba chóir don rialtas gás agus ola s’againn a náisiúnú, ag úsáid dea-chleachtas idirnáisiúnta, ar mhaithe le muintir na hÉireann agus gan í a thabhairt ar shiúl do leithéidí Shell. Ní mór do dhaoine agóid a dhéanamh faoin iompar seo ón rialtas nó leanfar lenár gcur fhaoi chois agus lenár n-úsáid chun tacar a chur le leas na scothaicme saibhre príobháidí.”
Corrib Planning Approval Condemned
The government and An Bord Pleanála has received scathing criticism from éirígí Tir Chonaill's Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig. It comes in the wake of the news that An Bord Pleanála have granted planning permission to Shell E&P Ireland for the final section of the Corrib gas pipeline in County Mayo. The application for the planning permission was the third in the last decade as the two previous applications had been refused on health and safety grounds.
The approved route of the pipeline, which will carry gas from the offshore gas field to the €1 billion gas terminal at Glengad, will include a 5km undersea tunnel through the picturesque Sruwaddacon Bay, County Mayo. Since the gas field was discovered in 1996 there has been massive opposition to the Corrib Gas Project from local residents who had health and safety concerns and from environmental campaigners against the impact the project would have on the local area. There has also been opposition to private companies such as Shell being granted permission by the government to extract the valuable natural resource from Irish waters.
Speaking of the news of the approval of planning permission to Shell E&P Ireland, the éirígí spokesperson said “It is an absolute disgrace that this permission has been granted by the government and An Bord Pleanála for this gas pipeline. It is another prime example of the government running roughshod over the people of Ireland to appease large private multi-national companies. This country is in economic crisis because of such behaviour.
“Here in Donegal we have massive unemployment and people losing their homes due to the result of years of kowtowing to private companies by those in Lenister House and the resulting bank bailout which has been required to keep that corrupt system afloat” he said. “This year tens of thousands of people will be forced to emigrate in search of work, like the thousands from Donegal who have already gone, because of ridiculous mishandling of the running of this country by a wealthy political elite. But yet that elite seem to have learnt nothing. They have granted this planning permission over the heads of the local people in County Mayo regardless of their concerns or wishes just so Shell can pump this natural resource worth billions of euro ashore and sell it to the Irish people at full price to make a profit for a private foreign company and its shareholders.”
Calling for a change in policy towards Ireland's natural resources, Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig added “The resources such as gas and oil which lie in Irish territory, whether on land or at sea, belong to the Irish people. In a time when this country is in such economic calamity and the IMF and ECB are now controlling our affairs, the government should be nationalising our oil and gas, using best international practise, for the benefit of the people and not giving it away to the likes of Shell. It is imperative that people protest against such behaviour from the government or we the ordinary people will continue to be walked on and used to shore up the interests of the private wealthy elite.”
Concern is growing for the welfare of two Palestinian political prisoners who have entered their third week on hunger strike.
Ahmad Sa’adat, the general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Jamal Abu Al-Haija, a leader of Hamas, began their hunger strike in protest at the mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners by Israeli authorities.
Both men have been held in isolation for almost two years and, during this time, have been deprived of the most basic human rights, including the denial of family visits.
Little information is available on the men's current condition and the corporate media has failed to give this story the coverage it deserves.
The PFLP have announced they are holding the Israeli government directly responsible for the lives of Sadaat and Al-Haija. In a statement released on Sunday [January 9], the organisation called for human rights groups, including the International Red Cross, to put pressure on the zionist regime to end all practices which are contrary to international law, and to uphold the human rights of prisoners, including allowing necessary medical treatment.
éirígí extends its support and solidarity to Ahmad Sa’adat and Jamal Abu Al-Haija in their courageous protest against the zionist regime.
Republicans, socialists and all those opposed to Israel's abuse of human rights are encouraged to continue to show their support for the Palestinian prisoners and to send a message to the zionist regime that its war crimes continue to be opposed.
éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson has condemned the conviction of two party activists on charges related to a peaceful protest against the Fianna Fáil/Green Party coalition's bailout of Anglo Irish Bank.
Leeson described as “farcical” the fact that the first convictions secured by the Twenty-Six County state in relation to the financial meltdown at Anglo Irish Bank were peaceful protesters, not the bankers and politicians who caused the meltdown and subsequent economic collapse.
The two activists, John McCusker and Pádraig Ó Meiscill were convicted yesterday [Tuesday] in the Criminal Courts of Justice at Parkgate Street, Dublin of public order offences relating to a peaceful protest at Anglo Irish Headquarters in the capital on May 15 last year. They are scheduled to reappear before the court to have sentencing confirmed next Tuesday [January 25]. Both will be appealing their convictions.
The trial of five other éirígí activists, which was also due to commence yesterday, was adjourned. Ursula Ní Shionnain, Daithi Ó Riain, Robbie Fox and Eoin Ó Se, the four activists arrested after unveiling a banner from the roof of the foyer of the bank, have had their trial on charges of trespass adjourned until April 14 as a result of Garda witnesses not appearing in court.
Daithí Mac An Mháistír's case was also adjourned following a defence submission for a different judge to hear his case, which was acceded to. He is now set to stand trial on May 9 for public order offences also related to the protest.
Following the outcome of yesterday’s trial, Leeson said: “Today seen the first convictions connected to the collapse of the public banking sector and the Twenty-Six County government’s criminal bailout of them.
“However, those convicted were not the bankers, developers and politicians whose greed and corruption brought about that collapse and bankrupted the public finances, but two activists engaged in an entirely peaceful protest, who went to the aid of four of their colleagues who had been assaulted by Gardaí.”
Leeson added: “The Twenty-Six County state’s treatment of these activists stands in stark contrast to its treatment of the politicians and business people, the golden circle, who created this financial crisis. Peaceful protesters are being dragged before the courts and working class families are suffering increasing hardship and poverty as a result of the savage cutbacks imposed in order to bail out the banks. Yet those responsible for these vast social and economic crimes continue to live wealthy and extravagant lifestyles free from the fear of arrest and imprisonment.”
“Yesterday’s trial was a blatant attempt by the state to intimidate and criminalise those engaged in peaceful protest. éirígí will not be intimidated by such bully boy tactics and remains as committed as ever to resisting the cutbacks and bailouts implemented by the government in Leinster House on behalf of their masters in the IMF.”
Echoing Leeson's condemnation of the conviction, éirígí Tir Chonaill spokesperson Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig roundly condemned the state for its stance of protecting those responsible for the economic crisis. "It is obvious that the state have the agenda of protecting the bankers, developers and politicians who have left the working people of Ireland facing hardship just to pay off the mistakes made by the wealthy elite" he said. "Here we have peaceful protesters who came out to show the opposition which many people felt towards the bank bailout and now those peaceful protesters have been wrongly deemed criminals. The real criminals are those bankers, developers and politicians who caused the economic crisis and it those individuals who the public want to see before the courts, not peaceful protesters."
Cuireann éirígí beannacht chun a mball agus a dteanntaí ar fud na hÉireann agus thar lear agus gabhann buíochas leo as a n-iarrachtaí dothuirsithe ar son streachailt na poblachta sóisialaí in 2010.
Agus 2011 ag tosú, tá éirígí fós tiomnaithe don streachailt ar son chúlú na Breataine ó na Sé Chondae forghafa agus ar son bhunú poblachta sóisialaí 32-condae.
Ba bhliain mhillteach í an bhliain seo caite do phobail lucht oibre trasna na hÉireann. Thosaigh rialtais Átha Cliath agus Londain, le cabhraú agus neartú ó pharlaimint puipéid na Breataine ag Stormont, thosaigh siad ionsaithe nua ar sheirbhísí poiblí, phoist agus shochair a dhamnóidh glúine le teacht do shaol dúshaothraithe agus bochtanais.
D’imfhálaigh na cáinaisnéisí a nochtadh ag Teach Laighean, Westminster agus Stormont le seachtainí beaga anuas brabús lucht an airgid d’aonturas agus chuir siad an chuid eile den daonra in éadóchas agus ainnise. Maidir leis seo, tá an lucht ceannais díreach ag cur dlús le ráta chur i bhfeidhm na bpolasaithe nualiobrálacha céanna a chruthaigh a ghéarchéim eacnamaíochta reatha sa chéad dul síos.
Le 12 mí anuas bhí na céad chomharthaí den oll-fhrithbheartaíocht, agus fáilte roimpi, do pholasaithe chomhrialtais na heite deise i mBéal Feirste, Baile Átha Cliath agus Londain. Bhí na céadta míle daoine ar na sráideanna ag éileamh nach ndéanfaí íobartaigh den lucht oibre mar gheall ar theip an chaipitleachais.
In 2011, ní mór do phobail agus oibrithe ar fud na hÉireann teacht le chéile ag tógáil feachtas comhordaithe frithbhearta neamhghéilliúil don chlár oibre teasc is dó atá acu siúd i gcumhacht. Má tá an aistroid seo le bheith rathúil beidh uirthi bogadh thar an chorr-agóid sráide agus reitric fheargach.
Creideann éirígí go diongbháilte go bhfuil an cumas ag tréimhse de fhrithbheartaíocht ghéar an phobail i bhfoirm ollagóidí sráide, stailceanna ginearálta agus gnímh easumhlaíochta sibhialta chun stop a chur le clár oibre na gciorruithe atá ag na páirithe polaitíochta i gceannas.
Is í gluaiseacht eagraithe na n-oibrithe, le hacmhainní orgánacha agus airgeadúla gan sárú, is í an gléas is soiléire chun a leithéid de fheachtas frithbheartaíochta a eagrú. Mura bhfuil ceannasaíocht reatha na gceardchumann ábalta nó toilteanach an beart riachtanach a dhéanamh, ní mór í a athrú le ceann a bhfuil.
Seo an uair do ghnímh a bhrúfaidh na daoine ag riaradh na ngiorruithe chun machnaimh ar a ngímh fhrith-shóisialta féin. Ní bhfaighfear éirígí folamh sa mhéid seo. Sa bhliain amach romhainn, beidh éirígí ag cur dlús lena bhfeachtais shocheacnamaíochta ar fud na tíre, go neamhspleách agus i gcomhar le daoine agus eagraíochaí forchéimnitheacha eile.
Cé go n-aithníonn éirígí tábhacht pholaitíoch na hagóide san am seo, aithníonn freisin nach seachadfaidh agóid inti féin an cineál sochaí atá tuilte ag muintir na hÉireann. Ní thabharfaidh frithbheart gan rogha inmharthana aghaidh ar bhunchúiseanna na héathroime agus na héagóra inár sochaí. Tá dualgas ar na heagraíochtaí sin a chuireann in éadan clár oibre na eite deise míniú cad é a dheánfadh siad go difriúl dá mbeadh siad i gcumhacht.
Maidir le éirígí, d’fhoilsigh an páirtí a bpáipéar polasaí Ón Sóisialachas Amháin a Thiocfas Slánú na hÉireann le déanaí. Leagann an páipeár seo amach go gonta ról dochrach an chaipitleachais agus an gá le córas sóisialach, daonna a chur ina áit. Beidh éirígí ag cur na polaitíochta atá in Ón Sóisialachas Amháin a Thiocfas Slánú na hÉireann chun cinn ar fud 2011.
Mar a rinne óna mbunú, leanfaidh éirígí in 2011 ag cur chun suntais nádúr comhghaolmhar na streachailte socheacnamaíochta agus na streachailte ar son neamhspleáchais náisiúnta.
Chuir éirigí an t-éileamh do chúlú na Breataine go seasta ar na sráideanna agus i láthair na ngabhálaithe, ní bheidh aon difear sa bhliain amach romhainn. Is iad láithreacht agus gníomhaíochtaí arm na Breataine, an PSNI agus MI5 in Éirinn, drochíde ar chimí poblachtacha agus cuairteanna ríochas na Breataine ar Éirinn cuid de na ceisteanna ar a mbeidh éirígí i mbun feachtasaíochta in 2011.
Leis sin, beidh éirígí ag obair laistigh de phobail lucht oibre sna Sé Chondae forghafa le mórchumas chumhacht daoine le dúshlán a thabhairt don fhorghabháil a oscailt.
Is féidir le tógáil na hathbheochana cultúrtha, gnaoi daoine a tharraingt ar an Ghaeilge, cur chun cinn na gcluichí Gaelacha, chomh maith le nochtadh struchtúir shóisialta agus eacnamaíochta mhalartacha i bpobail lucht oibre, is féidr leo nádúr an chaidrimh idir saoránaigh na hÉireann agus stát na Breataine a athrú ó bhun go barr.
Is féidir le lucht oibre iad féin coilíneacht Éireannach na Breataine a dhíchobhsú agus an forghabháil a chrith trína saol a bhogadh lasmuigh de chúram an stáit. Trí dhiúltú a teanga a labhairt, idirghníomú lena fórsa póilíneachta, ná dlisteanacht an stáit a aithint, is féidir le daoine athghabháil na hÉireann ag lucht oibre na hÉireann a chur chun cinn.
Shuncáil rialtas na Breataine ollmhéid airgid agus fuinnimh i gclár oibre an normálaithe le giche bliain anuas. Tá an uasphointe bainte amach ag an normálú anois áfach. Is mithid anois an clár oibre sin a chasadh siar.
Trí úsáid chomhordaithe streachailt náisiúnta, shóisialta, eacnamaíochta agus chultúrtha ar fud 2011, is féidir dul chun cinn dáiríre a dhéanamh i dtreo bhaint amach na poblachta sóisialaí.
Ní mór dúinn seo a dhéanamh le chéile mar aicme amháin agus mar phobal amháin. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.
éirígí New Year Statement
éirígí extends New Year greetings to its members and supporters across Ireland and beyond and thanks them for their tireless efforts on behalf of the socialist republican struggle in 2010.
As 2011 begins, éirígí remains fully committed to the struggle for a British withdrawal from the occupied Six Counties and the establishment of a 32-county socialist republic.
The last year has been a devastating one for working class communities across Ireland. The Dublin and London governments, aided and abetted by Britain’s puppet parliament at Stormont, have commenced unprecedented attacks upon public services, jobs and benefits that will condemn generations to come to a life of exploitation and poverty.
The budgets unveiled at Leinster House, Westminster and Stormont in recent weeks have deliberately ring-fenced the profits of the wealthy while driving the rest of the population into misery and despair. In this regard, the ruling class are simply accelerating the rate of implementation of the same neo-liberal policies which created the current economic crisis in the first place.
The last 12 months have also seen the first, welcome signs of mass resistance to the policies of the right-wing coalitions in Belfast, Dublin and London. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets demanding that working people are not made the sacrificial lambs for the failure of capitalism.
In 2011, workers and communities across Ireland need to come together in the building of a coordinated campaign of uncompromising opposition to the slash and burn agenda of those in power. If this fight back is to be successful it will need to move beyond occasional street protests and angry rhetoric.
éirígí firmly believes that a period of intense popular resistance in the form of mass street protests, general strikes and acts of civil disobedience has the potential to stop the cutback agenda of the ruling political parties in its tracks.
The organised labour movement, with its unequalled organic and financial resources, represents the most obvious vehicle for the organisation of such a campaign of resistance. If the current trade union leadership is incapable or unwilling to take the necessary actions, then it must be replaced by one that is.
Now is the time for actions that will force those administering the cuts to reflect upon their own anti-social actions. éirígí will not be found wanting in this regard. In the year ahead, éirígí will be stepping up its own socio-economic campaigns across the country, both independently and through working with other progressive individuals and organisations.
While recognising the importance of the politics of protest at this time, éirígí also recognises that protest alone will not deliver the type of society that the people of Ireland deserve. Opposition without a viable alternative will not address the underlying causes of injustice and inequality in our society. Those organisations which oppose the agenda of the right have an obligation to explain what they would do differently were they in power.
For its part, éirígí recently published its From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come policy paper. This document sets out succinctly the malign role of capitalism and the need for a humane, socialist system to replace it. éirígí will be promoting the politics contained within From Socialism Alone Can the Salvation of Ireland Come throughout 2011.
As it has done since its foundation, éirígí will continue in 2011 to highlight the inter-related nature of the socio-economic struggle and the struggle for national independence.
éirígí has consistently taken the demand for a British withdrawal onto the streets and into the faces of the occupiers, the year ahead will be no different. The presence and activities of the British army, the PSNI and MI5 in Ireland, the mistreatment of republican prisoners and British royal visits to Ireland are but some of the issues which éirígí will be actively campaigning on in 2011.
In doing so, éirígí will also work within working class communities in the occupied Six Counties to unlock the great potential of people power in challenging the occupation.
The building of the cultural revival, the popularisation of the Irish language, the promotion of Gaelic sports, along with the emergence of alternative social and economic structures within working class communities can radically alter the nature of the relationship between Irish citizens and the British state.
Working people themselves can potentially destabilise Britain’s Irish colony and shake the occupation by moving their lives outside the remit of the state. By refusing to speak its language, interact with its police force, or recognise the state’s legitimacy, the people can advance the re-conquest of Ireland by the working people of Ireland.
The British government has invested a massive amount of energy and money into its normalisation agenda over the last two decades. However, normalisation has now peaked. It is time to roll back that agenda.
Through the coordinated use of national, social, economic and cultural struggle throughout 2011, major progress can be made towards the achievement of the socialist republic.
We must do this together as one class and one people. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.
The following article was written by Amanda Slevin, a PhD candidate in the School of Sociology in University College Dublin. Her research looks at Irish government policy towards resources such as oil and gas. The original article was written for www.humanrights.ie as part of a Blog Carnival to coincide with the launch of 'The Pipe'.
Civil Disobedience, Policing and the Corrib Gas Project
When one thinks of civil disobedience and protesting in Ireland in recent years, the Shell to Sea campaign would, for most, immediately spring to mind. This campaign is often viewed as a community’s David and Goliath type struggle against Shell over plans to develop an onshore gas refinery and pipeline in Erris, North West Mayo. However, such a perspective tends to neglect the multifaceted role of the Irish state in this conflict. From creating the conditions for the exploration and production of Corrib gas, to the granting of various permissions without community consent, to the use of coercion (including heavy-handed policing) to repress dissent, much responsibility for the on-going Corrib gas controversy lies with the Irish State.
The conflict stems from the 1996 discovery of Corrib gas, some 80km off North West Mayo, for which a Petroleum Lease was granted in 2001 to a consortium which now comprises Shell (45% share), the Norwegian semi-state oil company Statoil (36.5%), and Vermilion (18.5%). The consortium planned to pump the unrefined gas from the seabed to an onshore refinery, 9km inland, where it would be refined. This initial proposal required the odourless gas to be pumped at very high pressure (up to 345bar) through Broadhaven Bay, close to several Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), to a site at Ballinaboy, beside Carrowmore Lake, the main water supply for over 10,000 people. The proposed pipeline route was 70 metres from homes.
When news of the proposed onshore refinery and pipeline spread among local people, many expressed concerns over health and safety and environmental risks, and conveyed a desire for the project to be situated elsewhere. Salter and Sullivan (2008) articulate four key areas of concern noted by the community, namely pipeline concerns; toxic waste issues; risk of accident; and human rights abuses (such as Shell’s role in human rights abuses across the world and little local consent for the project). Leonard suggests additional reasons for the community’s opposition, including a ‘local duty to defend families and property; the unsavoury behaviour of Shell and the government; the misrepresentation of facts on the issue; and the prioritisation of corporate profits over local concerns.’
A critical awareness of the consortium and the Irish State began to emerge with possible benefits from Corrib gas being queried. The Corrib petroleum lease was granted under the 1992 Licensing Terms for Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration and Development and results in limited benefits for the Irish State – no royalties, no profits, no guarantee of supply, and consumers have to pay full market prices for Irish gas and oil. Potential for financial returns from production arise from the 25% tax rate, against which companies can offset all exploration and production costs (accrued over a previous 25-year period). Shell to Sea, as the campaign against the onshore location of the project became known, have described these licensing terms as both a giveaway and a robbery of Irish gas and oil, while O’Toole, Storey and McCaughan and others have also problematised this issue at a time when the state’s finances are severely strapped.
Opposition to the project in its current form has remained consistent since 2001, yet this campaign is not anti-gas or anti-progress as some detractors propose. Indeed, the community and local parish priests have suggested compromises such as an offshore refinery (hence the name ‘Shell to Sea’) or locating the refinery at Glinsk, a remote onshore location east of the current refinery. Despite the community’s efforts, Shell and partners continued with their plans and in a process of project-splitting were granted permissions separately for various aspects of the project, including planning permission by Mayo County Council for the refinery in 2001. Residents immediately appealed this decision to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) and, after the second longest oral hearing in its history, ABP overturned Mayo County Council’s decision in April 2003 and refused planning permission with the location of the proposed gas terminal described as ‘the wrong site’. Although planning permission for the refinery did not exist, in April 2002 Minister Frank Fahey approved construction of the pipeline, exempt from planning.
Alongside project-splitting, several legislative changes aided the project, including the Gas (Amendment) Act 2000, and the introduction of Statutory Instruments (SI 110 of 2000, SI 517 of 2001). Accusations of political intervention in the Corrib gas project are rife and include unease around meetings between Shell and politicians, including then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2003. Brian Barrington’s report for human rights organisation Frontline highlights Shell’s Committee of Managing Directors’ concern around delays with the Corrib gas project in 2002 and draws attention to their recorded queries around whether they had ‘sufficiently well placed contacts with the Irish government and regulators.’
Shell later reapplied for, and was granted, planning permission for the onshore refinery in 2004 by Mayo County Council (MCC) and although locals appealed the decision to ABP, ABP upheld MCC’s decision without holding an oral hearing. In 2005, the community’s opposition entered a new phase when Shell was granted a High Court injunction against named residents to prevent them obstructing the construction of the pipeline on their private lands, to which Shell was granted access. In June 2005, five local men, (the Rossport Five – Micheál Ó Seighin, Vincent McGrath, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin and Phillip McGrath) were jailed indefinitely for contempt of court for refusing to obey this High Court ruling. They served 94 days in prison before their release when Shell dropped their injunction.
Gardaí forcing a digger through crowd
The jailing of the Rossport Five greatly mobilised support for the community’s struggle with Shell to Sea groups established across the country and overseas, nevertheless, Shell began to construct the refinery in spite of growing national and international criticism. In 2005, after years of pursuing their opposition through planning processes and legal channels, the community and its supporters began to engage in civil disobedience and halted construction of the refinery for over a year. However, in the autumn of 2006, the State took a firmer stance against protestors, with Gardaí violently breaking up protests and initially adopting a ‘no-arrests policy’. Storey refers to the 2007 Global Community Monitor report which found ‘there is evidence from videos of youth, women and the elderly being pushed and beaten by Gardaí without provocation. Even high-ranking officers were personally involved in beating up protestors’. Protestors have also engaged in non-violent direct action in response to the laying of the offshore pipeline, works on Glengad beach, and drilling in Broadhaven Bay and Sruwaddacon Estuary, and were frequently subjected to similarly disproportionate reactions by members of An Garda Síochána.
In late 2009 the Department of Justice confirmed that €12.6 million had been spent on overtime and expenses on policing at the Corrib gas project from September 2006 to 14 December 2009. This figure does not account for ‘normal salaries’. Since 2005, the criminalisation of activists has been a recurring form of State coercion and includes the jailing of local residents such as retired school Principal Maura Harrington, fisherman Pat ‘The Chief’ O’ Donnell and Niall Harnett. Members of the community continue to suffer human rights abuses and not only at the hands of the State as documented in Barrington’s report on the assault (and consequent hospitalisation) of Goldman Prize winner, and one of the Rossport Five, Willie Corduff by Shell’s security company IRMS in April 2009.
While political opinion is divided on the project, the weight of the Irish State appears to be behind the developers as apparent through the:
Licensing terms and conditions of the petroleum lease
Changes to legislation
Selling of 400 acres of Coillte (state) owned land for the refinery
Granting of permissions without community consent
State’s use of coercion
Shell to Sea banner in Bellmulet
The community has entered its second decade of opposition to the project, and although the onshore gas refinery in Ballinaboy is near completion and the offshore section of the pipeline has been laid, Shell and partners do not have planning permission to construct the onshore section of the pipeline. The community’s stance on the environmental, health and safety risks of the project was recently vindicated by ABP’s November 2009 decision that up to half of Shell’s proposed route for the Corrib gas pipeline was “unacceptable” on safety grounds.
The autumn 2010 re-opening of the ABP oral hearing on the pipeline route refocused attention on the State’s role in the Corrib gas conflict and allowed members of the community to clearly express their continued opposition to the onshore location of the gas refinery and pipeline. As the community and its supporters anxiously await An Bord Pleanála’s decision on planning permission for the onshore pipeline, which if granted would permit construction of the final section of the project, the launch of ‘The Pipe’ with its honest telling of the community’s difficult and emotive struggle is both timely and appropriate.