Four of the éirígí activists who were arrested for their part in a protest at the Anglo Irish Bank headquarters in Dublin in May last year were cleared of all charges today [Thursday] after the Garda case against them collapsed.
Ursula Ní Shionnain, Daithí Ó Riain, Robbie Fox and Eoin Ó Sé occupied the roof of the bank last year to raise a banner imploring “People of Ireland, Rise Up”.
The four were subsequently arrested, along with three other activists, assaulted by Gardaí and charged with trespass.
Today, a Dublin court found that there was insufficient evidence to convict the four activists.
Ursula Ní Shionnain said: “Our protest was a legitimate act of civil disobedience at a time of economic and political crisis. We should never have been arrested and dragged through the courts but, today, we were vindicated."
“The people who should be in front of courts are the bankers and politicians who led Ireland to economic ruin. They should be tried and convicted of destroying people’s livelihoods, leaving tens of thousands on the dole and looting the public purse.”
Ní Shionnain continued: “It should now be recognised that our three co-accused – Daithí Mac An Mhaistír, John McCusker and Pádraig Ó Meiscill – are equally as innocent."
“éirígí will continue with its campaign against the obscene bank bailouts and the vicious anti-working class measures being implemented by the Dublin government, using whatever means we deem necessary.
“We call on working people across Ireland to join us in this campaign – all of our futures are at stake.”
Dé Máirt, Aibreán 19, 2011
Déardaoin, Aibreán 07, 2011
The following Opinion piece by Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig, éirígí spokesperson in Donegal, was carried in last Sunday's edition (April 3rd) of the Donegal on Sunday Newspaper. It was in response to an article in the paper the previous week in which former Fine Gael TD for Donegal North-East Paddy Harte had welcomed the upcoming 'British Royal Visit'.
In his opinion piece last Sunday (Mar 27th) Paddy Harte suggests that all people of “goodwill” should welcome the visit of the English Monarch Elizabeth Windsor to the 26 counties in May. As socialist republicans, éirígí reject that notion. Not only should she not be welcomed anywhere on this island but her visit needs to be vigorously opposed on the streets.
So who exactly is this woman that Paddy wants us to welcome with open arms and what does she and the Monarchy actually represent?
She is Commander in Chief of the British Armed Forces. Five thousand of her troops continue to occupy the six counties, backed up by hundreds of MI5 operatives and a 9000 strong armed militia – the RUC/PSNI - who are engaged in widespread repression against the nationalist community and those who dare challenge British rule in Ireland.
The British army record in Ireland is a litany of human rights abuses and murder. They have committed countless atrocities both directly and in collusion with loyalist death squads against the nationalist population. Among the most notorious such incidents was the massacre of civil rights protesters in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972.
Windsor herself awarded OBE's to a number of those responsible for the murders that day including Colonel Derek Wilford. While some might suggest that this was in the past, despite having the power to do so and having done so with others who had been decorated by her on previous occasions, she pointedly refuses to revoke the honours that she awarded to those troops.
She remains a staunch apologist for the War Crimes carried out by her troops, not just here in Ireland, but around the world. During their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, British troops and their US allies were responsible for gross human rights violations including kidnapping, torture and the slaughter of civilians as well as targeting residential and non-military targets resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
They continue to occupy, repress and commit massacres against the civilian population in Afghanistan and are currently alongside their NATO allies launching bombing raids on Libya.
Windsor's role in the ethnic cleansing of the population of the Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean is also very revealing. In 1965 more than 3000 Chagosian residents, nominally British citizens, were forcibly removed without compensation from their homes by the British government in order to allow the US military build an airbase on the island of Diego Garcia. This base is used to launch attacks throughout the middle east and Afghanistan.
In November 2000, the islanders finally won the right in a British High Court to return to the outlying islands from where they had been evicted 35 years beforehand. However in June 2004 Mrs Windsor stepped in and using an Order in Council issued by the secretive Privy Council which is used to by-pass their own Parliament and not subject to any scrutiny, simply reversed the High Court decision. At the stroke of a pen, she re-enforced this act of ethnic cleansing and consigned the population of these islands to a lifetime of exile. So much for the 'benevolent little old lady with no powers' image being touted by her cheerleaders!
The Monarchy is a fundamentally undemocratic and sectarian institution. The Monarch cannot be member of a religion other than the Church of England and cannot marry someone not of that faith. The so-called 'royal family' are parasites on the working people of Britain and indeed of the people of the six counties who continue to live under British occupation.
They believe that they have a god-given right to rule. The Windsors view working people as their 'subjects' whose duty it is to pay through their taxes for the privileged, extravagant and wealthy lifestyle that they enjoy.
It is one hundred years since the last visit to the 26 counties by an English Monarch. On that occasion socialist republicans such as James Connolly and Constance Markievicz led the opposition to that visit. One hundred years later, their reasons for opposing that visit remain as valid as they did then. The British military and political occupation of part of our country continues. The rotten sectarian, privileged, anti-worker and undemocratic nature of the monarchy remains in place.
The bottom line is that every individual and every organisation that considers themselves a republican, a socialist and a democrat should, not only be appalled at this visit, but should be on the streets actively protesting and organising resistance to it. To feign opposition to it while refusing to actively campaign against it is an indefensible position.
We need to show the world that those individuals who will undoubtedly bow and grovel in the presence of the person that Paddy calls 'her Majesty' do not represent the views of the Irish people. We need to show the world that the Irish people reject the notion of birthright, privilege and sectarianism and reject the continuing human rights abuses and war crimes committed by Windsors armed forces.
Be under no illusion, this visit is designed for one simple purpose – to normalise and legitimise the continued occupation of the six counties. But Britain has no right to occupy any part of Ireland. Whether Paddy likes it or not, until Britain implements a complete military and political withdrawal from our country there cannot be any normalising of British-Irish relations and the occupation and visits such as this will continue to be vigorously resisted on the streets.
Dé Máirt, Aibreán 05, 2011
Disturbing evidence has emerged of threats made by Gardaí in Erris, county Mayo, to rape two women arrested during a protest against Shell’s dangerous experimental project in Corrib.
The shocking comments were recorded as three Gardaí travelled back to Belmullet Garda station in a squad car from the Shell to Sea protest last week in Aughoose, where Shell has commenced work on the onshore section of the Corrib gas pipeline.
The Gardaí violently seized a video camera from the women as they were filming the protest. The women were assaulted by Gardaí, with one of the women’s arms being twisted behind her back until she dropped the camera before being both were arrested on the spurious grounds of violating the Public Order Act.
Both women were placed into a Garda squad before the three Gardaí, including a local Sergeant, travelled in a separate car with the seized video camera. The Gardaí did not switch the camera off and their conversation was recorded.
During the course of the conversation the Gardaí made threats to rape the two women who were in garda custody.
While activists are all too familiar with the casual violence employed by Gardaí during protests, these disturbing recordings will send shockwaves right across society.
At one point during the conversation the local Sergeant, who has violently assaulted Shell to Sea campaigners on numerous occasions, says, “She [one of the women arrested] refused to give her name and address and was told she would be arrested.”
“And deported,” his colleague continued.
“And raped,” the Sergeant responded. He goes on to mimic how he might approach the woman in Garda custody, “Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you.”
The three gardaí continue laughing, with one of them responding to the Sergeant: “Hold it there, give me your name and address there, I’ll rape you.”
The Sergeant then goes further and responds, “Or I’ll definitely rape you.”
Victims of sexual violence and those organisations that work with them will be particularly horrified to hear supposed ‘guardians of the peace’ discuss committing violent sexual attacks against women.
How can any woman have confidence in reporting acts of sexual violence when this is the sort of attitude displayed by members of the Gardaí?
Those opposing Shell's dangerous have experienced regular brutal violence at the hands of Gardaí. Direct evidence of threats of sexual violence add another disturbing element to the policing operation in Corrib.
éirígí extends its support and solidarity to the two women concerned, both of whom have requested that their anonymity be respected.
Several versions of the recording have been made available by Shell to Sea and Rossport Solidarity Camp.
Full length video file on Vimeo, with text introduction and some subtitles:
Compressed 60 mb video:
Original video file from camera with no processing (NB: very large file - 1gb):
Audio of first 2/3 of the recording:
Entire audio recording, including a long segment when the camera is in the Garda station at the end: