Dé Sathairn, Márta 19, 2011

Play In Dore A Success


Almost 100 people gathered on Sunday February 19th in Dore Community Centre to see the play 'Far Off Fields'. The play, written by Jonathan Burgess and directed by Kieran Quinn, dealt with the issue of hiring fairs in 19th century rural Ireland and the trials and tribulations experienced by those who where hired out at these fairs.

Strabane hiring fair
The story of the play staged by the Balour Arts Theatre concerned two main characters, teenagers Niamh and Jack. Both characters were hired out at a fair to work on farms and the play told of the dire reality that faced a lot of children in those times. The young girl Niamh faced particularly harsh treatment from the farmer she worked for and the story goes on to tell of how Jack secures better work elsewhere and comes back to rescue her.

The evening, supported by the Peace III Programme and Donegal County Council, began with a talk led by Professor Liam Kennedy of the School of History and Anthropology at Queens University Belfast, and equality and diversity consultant Fiona Mc Gaughey. During the talk, Professor Kennedy gave an interesting and in-depth look at what life would have been like in 19th century Ireland and how the hiring fairs of the time would have worked, as well as a description of the experiences of those hired out at those fairs.

This was followed by a talk by Fiona Mc Gaughey which looked at the subject of human trafficking. Saying that while human trafficking was perhaps not a modern day equivalent of the hiring fairs, Ms Mc Gaughey said it was certainly an issue occurring in Ireland today with some parallels to the child labour of the hiring fairs which Professor Kennedy and previously mentioned. Fiona Mc Gaughey's talk then went on to discuss examples of human trafficking in Ireland today, including in County Donegal, and the work that is being done to counter-act it.

Speaking after the play, event organiser Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig praised those who staged the play and took part in the talk. “I must congratulate everyone for their efforts tonight. This was a very interesting and informative evening” Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig said. “The play was not only a first class piece of entertainment but it was also very educational. Added together with the talks that were given before the play, it cast a whole new light on a much forgotten piece of our history.

“Given that so many families in Ireland, especially in rural Ireland like here in Donegal, experienced these hiring fairs, we must never forget the harsh lives that our ancestors had to endure. Likewise, we must also be aware that such harsh treatment continues today in the form of human trafficking and these horrors are not just something we see on television, but are actually happening in our own country and indeed in our own county. I feel it is important to educate ourselves in these matters so we can stop such things from happening and I feel tonight might have provided such an platform for that.”

Thanking those involved Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig concluded “I must thank everyone involved for making it such a successful evening. The staff of Dore Community Centre, Liam Kennedy and Fiona Mc Gaughey, Karin White of Peace III and Sarah Lapsley all helped to make it a great event. I must also thank Lisa Finn of the Balour Arts Theatre and of course the cast and crew of the play for putting on such a fantastic performance. Hopefully it won't be too long before we see them back in West Donegal again.”

Dé hAoine, Márta 11, 2011

éirígí Call for Resistance to new Coalition's Water Charges Plan


éirígí have called for massive opposition to the new Fine Gael/Labour Party coalition's plan to introduce water charges during their term in office. The comments come in the wake of news that part of the so-called Programme for Government (PFG) is to install water meters in every home in the twenty six counties and to establish a new water utility company to charge for the use of water. 

Spokesperson for éirígí in Donegal, Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said that such a plan was totally unacceptable and should be vigorously opposed. “The plan by both Fine Gael and Labour to introduce these meters and the subsequent charges which will arise from them is an absolute disgrace” he said. 

“Water is a basic necessity for life and every single individual has the right to access it without charge. But here we have two parties willing to impose charges on people for access to water. This is a sickening move on Labour's and Fine Gael's behalf. The ordinary working people of this state will be dragged into another process of creating a fund for bailing out the banks and wealthy elite who destroyed this country's economy by gambling on the property market while the vast majority of the country's population struggled to make ends meet.” 

Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig concluded “This plan to introduce water charges is totally unacceptable and must and will be vigorously resisted. Every household, housing estate, village and town, not only here in Donegal but right across the country, must organise themselves now and prepare a challenge to this plan and let this incoming government know that this move will not be accepted. We the working people did not gamble, did not play and we will not pay.”

Dé Máirt, Márta 08, 2011

éirígí Mark International Women's Day


Spokesperson for éirígí Tir Chonaill, Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig has called on everyone to use International Women's Day (todayMarch 8th) as a time to focus on the achievements of women in Ireland. His comments were made at the socialist republican political party éirígí's event in Belfast on Saturday (March 5th), which was held to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. 

The event, held in the West of the city, remembered revolutionary women and included readings from inspirational women. Guest speaker at the event was éirígí's Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan who made national news following a protest she made against then Minister for Health Mary Harney and her departments cuts in the health service.

Commenting that we needed more women involved in activism for change in Ireland, Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig said “This is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.  The best thing people can do to commemorate this is to remember the contribution women have made in Ireland over the years. International Women's Day has its roots in the socialist movement and was established in a time of great social and political change. With the mobilisation of women around the world at the time, many ignored issues were brought into focus such as the lack of women's rights including the right to work, the right to vote or hold office and general discrimination."

Sighle Humphreys
“Through the first half of the 20th Century in Ireland many women brought huge change to the country during the time of the Easter Rising, the Tan war and beyond, including Constance Markiewicz, Sighle Humphreys and Donegal's Eithne O'Donnell who founded the first Cumann na mBan unit in West Donegal in 1918. It was a time of massive change and the women's involvement at that time was crucial” said Mac Giolla Easbuig.

Today, 100 years on, we again find ourselves in the midst of crisis and in need of huge social change. It is vital that women once again involve themselves in activism to create that change and bring more equality into society, not just here in Donegal but around the globe. In the recent general election only 15% of candidates who stood for election were women, a figure mirrored here in County Donegal. This is something we must change. If women feel they have something to offer society and wish to get involved in activism in their communities then they should do just that and not let the status quo and society's old ideals hold them back. There is still much inequality against women around the world and indeed here in Ireland and it is time we all took responsibility to change that.” Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig finished by saying, “To quote the International Women's Day website “Think globally and act locally!! Make everyday International Womens Day.””

Dé Sathairn, Márta 05, 2011

Fianna Fáil’s Final Act of Treachery
Pat Carey’s decision to grant Shell oermission to construct the onshore pipeline from the Corrib gas field to the Bellinaboy refinery has been described by éirígí Tir Chonaill spokesperson Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig as a disgrace and underhanded.
His comments come as it emerged that the former Twenty-Six County minister of energy, communications and natural resources signed the consents on the day of general election. Carey, who replaced Eamon Ryan when the Green Party withdrew from the coalition government, was only in office a matter of weeks. His decision to give consents for the onshore pipeline is redolent of former Twenty-Six County minister of the marine and natural resources Frank Fahey’s actions on the day of the 2002 general election when he granted a foreshore licence to Enterprise Energy Ireland, the consortium in control of the Corrib gas field.
The decision to grant the consents comes in the wake of last month’s An Bord Pleanála approval of Shell’s plan to construct a tunnel under Sruth Fada Conn estuary, which is a Special Area of Conservation. The tunnel will contain a high pressure experimental gas pipeline and represents one of the final elements in securing Shell’s raid on Irish natural resources. The health and safety of the Erris community is being sacrificed in the interests of private profit.
The underhand manner in which the consent was provided demonstrates the contempt in which the political establishment in the Twenty-Six Counties holds the people and how in thrall the state is to big business. The current recession and the sterling work of the Shell to Sea campaign in which éirígí continues to play an active role, ensured that the issue of how the state manages its natural resources was a key issue during the Twenty-Six County general election campaign.
There is now a much greater level of public awareness of the giveaway of our natural resources and the corrupt deals between successive Fianna Fáil administrations and the oil corporations. Multinationals such as Shell have effective control over our oil and gas with an estimated value in excess of €500 billion. At the same time, working people are being impoverished in order to settle the gambling debts of bankers and property speculators.
éirígí spokesperson Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig
The establishment mantra that there is no alternative to the IMF/EU-imposed austerity programme is a fallacy. The Fianna Fáil/Green Party coalition chose to burden working people with extraordinary levels of private debt while continuing to protect the wealthy and the profits of private corporations. A new Fine Gael-led government is committed to the same anti-social policies and will be no different to the outgoing Fianna Fáil-led government.
Unsurprisingly, the Independent group of newspapers has been the chief media cheerleader of Fine Gael. Incidentally, one of its owners, Tony O’Reilly is chief executive of Providence Resources, a company that controls the Dalkey Island prospect, estimated to contain 800 million barrels of oil. The company also controls significant resources in the Dunquin and Spanish Point fields, both of which contain significant levels of gas and oil. O’Reilly will no doubt use his wealth and influence in an attempt to ensure that the lucrative deal for the oil corporations remains unchanged.

Speaking of the signing of the permission to Shell by Pat Carey, Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said "This action by Carey in which he gave permission to Shell to build this gas pipeline was a disgraceful and underhanded move. He used his last vestiges of his time in office to try and cement a private company's hold over the Irish people by letting them continue to steal Ireland's natural resources and his actions give absolutely no consideration whatsoever to the people of Erris. Even up until their last moments in office the Fianna Fáil party have done all they could to show where their loyalties lie and that is with the interests of big private business and the wealthy elite."
Brian Leeson
Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson
Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said “Pressure must be brought to bear on the incoming government to overturn Pat Carey’s shoddy deal.
“The people of Erris have the right to live in peace and safety and the people of Ireland have the right to benefit from the vast reserves of oil and gas currently in the hands of oil giants. While the political establishment continues to facilitate private multinationals, the campaign to defend our natural resources is far from over.”

Déardaoin, Márta 03, 2011

Anniversary of Hunger Strike Marked in Belfast
Around 150 people took part in a candlelit vigil in Belfast last night [Tuesday], to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the start of the 1981 hunger strikes. On March 1 1981, republican prison leader Bobby Sands began refusing food and continued to do so until his death on May 5 1981, at the age of 27.
The vigil took place on the site of the former Crown Forces barracks in Andersonstown. Though the barracks no longer exists, a number of PSNI landrovers kept a close eye on the crowd through the event.
During the vigil, the names of Sands and his nine comrades who died on hunger strike in 1981 were read aloud, followed by a minute’s silence in their memory. This was followed by a recital of Sands’ poem The Rhythm of Time.
The vigil was also addressed by former blanketman Pádraic Mac Coitir, who spoke of the experiences of republican political prisoners during the period and their impact on political prisoners around the world and on republicans today.
The full text of Mac Coitir’s address can be read below:
“On this day 35 years ago, the British government introduced one of their draconian laws whereby anyone convicted of a political offence would be deemed a criminal.
“These laws were nothing new because, as far back as the Fenian rising of the 1860s, republican prisoners were treated as criminals and, in many cases, this meant lengthy times in solitary confinement. In response, these prisoners embarked on protests such as refusing to comply with prison rules and refusing to do prison work.
“At the start of the 20th century, republican prisoners started a new form of protest – hunger strike. Thomas Ashe died in September 1917 and this led to a trend that was to continue right up to 1981. During this period, numerous men and women went on hunger strike, leading to the deaths of 23 political prisoners in Irish and British jails. Those who died inspired many throughout the world, including Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi and prisoners in countries such as Turkey, Palestine and, more recently, North America.
“I first went to gaol in July 1976 and, while on remand in the H-Blocks, would see a small number of men who were on the blanket protest. In September of that year, Kieran Nugent became the first republican to be sent to the Blocks and, refusing to wear a prison uniform, he became the first Blanketman.
“I was sentenced in January 1977 and joined the small number of protestors in H2. The screws were constantly trying to break us with beatings and humiliating us by forcing us to leave our cells naked. They realised how determined we were when more men joined us and we were moved to H5 in April of that year. It was while in this Block that I met some of the men who were later to die on hunger strike.
“In March 1978, we went on a no-wash protest and this led to even more beatings carried out by the screws. Just before I was released in July 1979, the camp staff asked us all to give our views as to how we could escalate the protest. It was very difficult for me to give my opinion because, even then, we all knew the next stage was a hunger strike.
“In October 1980, seven men started a hunger strike and they were later joined by three women in Armagh jail. The men in the prison hospital were led to believe the Brits were giving in to their demands and so called the strike off. As has so often been the case, the Brits reneged.
“After much discussion and debate among the prisoners, another hunger strike was planned. On this day 30 years ago, Bobby Sands began a hunger strike which was to have massive repercussions not only here in Ireland, but throughout the world.
“We have learned a lot since those dark days in 1981 when 10 brave men died in the hell-hole of Long Kesh. Those of us who were back in the H-Blocks in the ’80s and ’90s were very conscious of the sacrifice of the 10 men and we benefited greatly from their sacrifice.
“All of us thought that republicans who have been imprisoned in Maghaberry prison would also benefit from their sacrifice but, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Men are still being forcibly strip-searched and beaten despite an agreement reached between themselves and the prison regime. But history has taught us that the British and their willing servants will do all they can to criminalise not only prisoners but those engaged in a legitimate struggle for a democratic socialist republic.
“So let us all remember the hunger strikers who died 30 years ago for the goals which we strive for today.”