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Letters archive 2001 -

The significance of 'interdependence' clause

17.11.08.

I CANNOT understand how or why, during these past ten years since the signing of The Good Friday agreement, nobody seems to have recognised, identified with or acted upon arguably the most significant aspect of that agreement, ratified by a massive majority of the people across the island of Ireland.

Paragraph 3, page 1, states:

"We are committed to partnership, equality and mutual respect as the basis of relationships within Northern Ireland, between North and South, and between these islands."

This is what I stood for in the General Election in South Down nineteen years earlier. I stood for Interdependence on a budget of less than £200, the only person I believe to have done so in an election in this United Kingdom. At least three universities contacted me after the election to hear more about the notion of Interdependence.

Paragraph 5, page 1, goes on,

"We acknowledge the substantial differences between our continuing, and equally legitimate, political aspirations ..... It is accepted that all of the institutional and constitutional arrangements ..... are interlocking and interdependent and that in particular the functioning of the Assembly and the North/South Council are so closely inter-related that the success of each depends on that of the other."

The Assembly itself is quoted "in particular", emphasizing that the present Northern Ireland Assembly, especially, CANNOT be interdependent as it is a unilateral entity controlled by the British government. To be interdependent it must of necessity be bi-lateral and as such MUST be self-determined just as the British government and the government of the Republic of Ireland are, in order to comply with the agreement's demands for "partnership, equality and mutual respect as the basis of relationships ..... between these islands."

My one election advertisement stated:

"I seek a self-determined government for the people of Northern Ireland conceived of a bi-lateral declaration of Interdependence between:
  1. the people of Northern Ireland and the people of Great Britain and
  2. the people of Northern Ireland and the people of the Republic of Ireland - based on my belief that:
    • Interdependence assumes a mutual need,
    • Interdependence needs a mutual demand,
    • Interdependence demands a mutual supply,
    • Interdependence supplies a mutual respect,
    • Interdependence respects a mutual right.
    • Interdependence - you already practice it, why not vote for it?"

After nearly thirty years the notion of Interdependence is now even more relevant, given the changed status of England, Scotland and Wales, and is a recipe for challenge and contemplation in all five jurisdictions.

Gerry Rice. Ballynahinch, Co. Down

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ToM secretary condemns 'offensive' army march

01.11.08.

IT IS a disgrace that the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) is being allowed to parade through the heart of Belfast on Sunday 2nd November. So much for the British government's commitment to bringing communities in the north of Ireland towards peaceful cooperation. This act will upset and offend the majority of the nationalist and republican community.

The RIR, and it's forerunner the Ulster Defence Regiment, have an appalling history of harassment, intimidation, assault, even killings in the nationalist and republican community, as has the whole of the British army. The government and unionists supporting this event need to understand the level of hurt and pain inflicted within the nationalist and republican community by the British army. It is still a running sore as no apology or statement of fault has been forthcoming from the government.

It has been stated that the war is over, but it seems that the adage "The first casualty of war is truth" has been amended to become "The first casualty of the peace process is truth"!!? Perhaps the fact that Shaun Woodward, secretary of state for Northern Ireland was once part of the Conservative and Unionist Party means he can't divorce himself from Unionist principles?

For the Nationalist citizens of Belfast, and those bereaved by the British Army, the parade is deeply offensive They have been treated as second class citizens throughout the existence of the Northern State. This march reinforces that position. Is this the message the British Government want to give those who have supported the peace process? Is the British Government committed to parity of esteem for all communities in the north of Ireland or still giving supremacy to the Unionists and Loyalists.

The March should not be allowed.

Mary Pearson, Troops Out Movement (secretary), Birmingham, England

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28.09.08.

Hibernian forced to close

Gerry McGeough's publication, The Hibernian Magazine, has been closed due to the continued harassment/house arrest and continued severe constraints imposed on Gerry by the British Crown.

It will be two years come April 2009 that Gerry was arrested for trumped-up, politically motivated, charges dating back 25 years and he has still not been brought to trial and his persecutors have not been able to prove their case against him to date.

However, he continues to remain under house-arrest and is subject to almost daily appearances in court while he sits and waits for the British crown to fly in retired RUC from all over the world to give testimony against him.

Regardless of all the reforms supposedly taking place over there, the Diplock Court is most certainly still alive and thriving in the north of Ireland.

Helen McClafferty, USA

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26.07.08.

Derry Guildhall and civil rights

DERRY'S GUILDHALL is an impressive building that became the focus of many protests over generations, not least in the 1960s. It was once considered in derogatory terms on a par with Tammany Hall in New York for its 'faceless men', machine politics, political graft, patronage and manipulation of housing allocation, voters and electoral boundaries.

Now almost forty years after Derry's first official civil rights march on October 5th 1968 one is delighted to confirm that much has changed. Now, under its historic roof those days of militant yet non-violent protest action and transformation can at long last be soberly reflected upon, without a Special Powers Act banning order from a bigoted minister of home affairs upholding a one-party state. I pray that on 4 and 5 October the Guildhall, can yet again, not only by local Derry folk, be well and truly "occupied"!

As a co-founder of Nicra in '67 I remember well the initial marches in 1964 of the trail-blazing hut-dwellers of Springtown Camp. They are remembered with pride as part of the struggles for proper insulated homes and civil rights within the 1968-2008 commemorative website www.nicivilrights.org So too are many others including the founders of the Campaign for Social Justice, Austin Currie, the Goodfellow and Gildernew families amid the '67 Caledon eviction, our iconic chief marshal of stewards, the late 'Vinny' Coyle, the late Cathy Harkin, a socialist-feminist pioneer of Women's Aid, activists within the Derry Housing Action Committee and Nicra, in addition to many others, including the parents and other representatives of eleven families who squatted in the Guildhall's Council Chamber for seven weeks. Much more remains to be added to this, our, your website.

Surely some IT-literate readers will consider taking on a challenge, for posterity's sake, to deeper and widen these recently-created archives?

As they say, like creating life itself, there can be no eventual joy without an initial degree of productive effort, therefore my appeal to your readership for positive feed-back as we approach the 40th anniversary of October 5th 1968. Can we simply or foolishly forget that pivotal date? I think not! Poets can always express themselves much better than most 'mere mortals'. W B Yeats springs to mind, "All changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty was born". On 4 and 5 October there will be at least four items on the Guildhall programme, an International Conference, a photographic exhibition, "Media Reflections" focusing on journalists' recollections of the era, and an "I was there" session, to which as many people as possible are being invited to stand up and recall their personal struggles, and that of their families and organisations, for basic human rights and civil liberties.

If I have aroused your interest and your feel you can assist in any way, please contact me via rights.civil@googlemail.com or the Derry civil rights veterans' voice-mail on 028 71 286359. Your input is not only cordially invited but essential if we deem our individual and collective experiences worthy of any note. Certain elements at home and abroad no doubt retain a hope that our voice boxes are very hoarse or we suffer from amnesia like most revisionist historians, so that we are either uncomfortable or unable to communicate effectively. These events on 4 and 5 October, as with all others on the 1968 programme, will be A/V recorded as part of an historical archive. Such will be an educational and inspiration resource long after most of us have gone on our last march, hopefully still protesting, out of this 'Vale of Tears' into eternity, and even possibly into the historical records.

Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh (address supplied)

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Vote 'No' and recieve the thanks of millions throughout Europe

30.05.08.

IN A few days you have the unique chance of all European countries to vote about the new EU-treaty. This treaty is nothing else than the EU-constitution that already has been refused by the French and the Dutch people by a referendum. The leading politicians in the EU couldn't and wouldn't accept the "No" of the people, so they changed the name from constitution to treaty, leaved out the flag and the hymn and decided the same contract. To make sure that nothing can't go wrong this time, they also decided to bar out the European people from voting about the new treaty.

The Lisbon treaty is connected with the loss of sovereignty of all European countries and especially the neutrality of the countries they have been neutral so far! The only institutions that decides in future will be the EU-council and the EU-commission. EU-law has absolutely priority against national law.

Up to 80 per cent of the Austrian people are concerned about this trend and demanded a referendum about the EU-treaty. Nevertheless the Austrian government and the president refused this wish and ratified the treaty of Lisbon in an arbitrary act against the explicit will of the Austrian people. Although they didn't know any details of the treaty, they ratified it. They feared a "No" of the population and therefore they denied a vote. The same situation can be seen in almost all other European countries.

So you, the Irish people, have the chance and the power to stop this treaty and save the sovereignty of the European nations. Please vote 'No' at the referendum. Millions of people all over Europe will be thankful to you.

Peter Raber, Salzburg, Austria

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Nightmare continues for some republicans

09.03.08.

CONTRARY TO what some people in the US believe the Nationalist nightmare has not ended for many republicans in the north of Ireland.

Since the Stormont assembly elections in March of last year several prominent republicans, many from the East Tyrone area, have been subjected to arrest and on-going intimidation by the British crown.

An Independent Republican candidate opposed to the RUC/PSNI, Gerry McGeough, was actually arrested at a count centre in Tyrone while the votes were being counted. Despite having campaigned openly for weeks, appearing regularly on television and live radio, the British crown claimed that it was the first opportunity they had to arrest him. Gerry was interrogated for days and subsequently charged with participation as an IRA volunteer in a gun battle with British crown forces. He and other Republicans were flung in jail and it was only after a number of weeks and a considerable legal struggle that Gerry managed to secure release on bail.

Since his release Gerry has, on average, appeared in court on a monthly basis. At each appearance the 'crown' has failed to produce any evidence against him and on every occasion his case is put back for another month or so. In the meantime, he is obliged to live his life under heavy bail restrictions, which affect all the family. In addition to this, he and his family have been subjected to intense surveillance and harassment from the British authorities, and his lawyers have catalogued a long list of incidences. One recent example involved a massive British military helicopter landing beside the rural school that two of Gerry's young children attend just as pupils were being collected by their parents. Personnel on board took photographs before the helicopter took off.

Ten years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement when is the nationalist nightmare really going to end?

Further details of the campaign to free Gerry McGeough can be found at freegerry.com

Helen McClafferty, Nutley, New Jersey, USA

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Did you march in '68 and '69?

09.03.08.

THIS YEAR marks the 40th anniversary of the transformation of the Civil Rights Association, established in '67 as a lobby group, into a mass movement following the dramatic events on Duke Street on October 5th 1968. In recent months a broadly-based committee was established in Cookstown, by key activists in those days, with the aim of organising a programme of commemorative events across the Six Counties, and beyond.

Over recent weeks a Programme Implementation Group was formed in Derry with the support of several local people then active on diverse civil rights issues, not least Springtown Camp, boundary extension, voting rights, lack of housing, repressive laws and unemployment. The Derry PIGroup is anxious to widen and deepen its commemorative plans in the near future. We are conscious that we have not been able to make contact with everyone who was active at a central or local level within the civil rights movement. Thus this appeal for their solidarity in marking this highly historic anniversary, in an appropriate manner, with an educational emphasis on learning lessons for the future from this pivotal era of social change via passive resistance.

We wish to make audio-visual recordings to add to existing archives and are currently engaged with TV documentary makers and other sections of the mass media. The period we intend to commemorate will be the events before and after Duke Street in 1968 with the Belfast to Derry "Burntollet March "chosen as the cut-off day in early January 2009. Anyone interested in assisting this project are cordially invited to make contact with our temporary office, either by phone, 028-71-286359 (after 6pm) or by e-mail: rights.civil@googlemail.com

Derry Programme Coordinator, 1968 Commemoration Committee (Name and address supplied)

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Civil rights commemoration appeal

24.02.08.

IN THIS part of the world the print, radio and television media have justly become known as "The Fourth Estate". In theory at least, such provides, on an investigative basis, to we mere mortals, that much-needed information so essential to the supposed "checks and balances" within the constitutional frameworks of these islands.

I therefore write to you, fellow authors and journalists, not only as a co-founder of the Civil Rights Association in 1967, but as one who is actively engaged, on a daily basis in promoting the programme of events agreed by the 1968 40th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, established on a six-county basis, some months ago in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone.

A few prominent members of the "Fourth Estate", then comparatively mere youngsters like myself in those days, have been in contact, suggesting that a platform be provided so that they, some now household names, can publicly relate their experiences of the civil rights era.

We have much to learn from that era and its implications for the future, both at home and abroad. No doubt their desire is shared by other journalists, who may be willing to stand up and relate their own role and lessons learnt. Such will be placed on the public record, on as permanent a basis as we guarantee. Of course other genuine grass roots' "democratic activists" of those times, who wish to be part of the commemorative programme, are also cordially invited to make contact, via Derry, 028-71-286359 (after 6 PM) or by email, rights.civil@googlemail.com

Fionnbarra O'Dochartaig (address supplied)

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Call for early establishment of Referendum Commission

29.01.08.

THE EYES of Europe and much of the world will be on Ireland when we vote on the new EU Treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon and particularly so, as it now seems that we will be the only member state to have a referendum on it.

That is why we urge the government to call the Referendum Commission into being some months in advance of the referendum on this treaty so as to give the commission adequate time and resources to carry out its statutory function of informing citizens what the referendum is about and encouraging maximum turnout of voters. We do this even though we ourselves have diverse views on the contents of the treaty.

The establishment of the Referendum Commission under the 1998 Referendum Act was a progressive development in Irish public policy. Although the function of setting out the Yes-side and No-side arguments in referendums was removed from the commission in 2001, its function of telling citizens what the referendum is about and encouraging them to vote is still hugely important.

We are confident that the commission will provide truthful, objective and non-partisan information to citizens if it is given enough time and resources to do this by the government and Oireachtas and is not faced with the task of publicising multiple referendum propositions simultaneously, as has occurred on occasion in the past. The commission should have a central role in the EU treaty referendum if European and world opinion is to regard our referendum arrangements as enlightened and democratic.

The Referendum Commission consists of the ombudsman, the Comptroller and auditor general, the clerk of the Dail, the clerk of the Seanad and a chairman nominated by the government from among the senior members of the judiciary. Its five members will need time themselves to get on top of this complex and many-sided treaty before they set about the job of informing the public of its contents and the implications of ratifying it for Ireland and our constitution.

In the commission's reports on previous constitutional referendums its chairman, former chief justice TA Finlay, was implicitly critical of governments of the day for failing to give the commission enough time to do its job effectively. That must not happen on this occasion.

We hope that the media and all our political parties, whatever their views on the treaty, will support this call.

Other aspects of a democratic referendum are fair coverage for the arguments of both sides by the media, the avoidance of abuse and personal attacks on the proponents of either side and non-interference from outside the country by powerful interested parties with huge financial resources at their disposal such as the EU Commission and well-endowed foreign supporters of either the Yes-side and No-side.

We also believe that the government should make the text of the treaty easily available to those citizens who wish to obtain it, as well as the text of the Consolidated European Treaties which it amends.

Frank Keoghan, Shanowen Crescent, Dublin with: Darina Allen, Robert Ballagh, Gay Byrne, James and Therese Gorry, Declan Kiberd, Pat McCabe, Rev.Terence McCaughey, Muiris MacCongail Finian McGrath TD, Patricia McKenna, Tony MacMahon Christy Moore, Dervla Murphy, Professor John A. Murphy Senator David Norris, Emmett O'Connell, Jer O'Leary, Bob Quinn, Senator Fergal Quinn, Ruairi Quinn TD, Adi Roche, Dr Andy Storey, Bishop William Walsh

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Ceili dancing under threat

29.03.07.

I AM seriously concerned at the demise of the ceili dance in both London and Ireland. There is now only one weekly ceili left in London and that is at the London Irish Centre in Camden town, NW1, on Sunday nights. There is an abundance of set dancing which is very popular, but there is an obvious difference between the two cultures. There was a time when there was ceili in London four times a week.

So what can be done to bring back the Ceili?

There are a number of organisations who can help. The Irish Dancing Commission and their teachers, who after all must be able to teach ceili in order to pass their teachers certificate but, sadly, after that ceili is forgotten. Why not teach the children and the adults the art of ceili which would be enjoyable for both? Why not reintroduce ceili competition for both children and adults back into the feisenna?

It would sadly appear that the only interest is money. All schools have their own competitions but sadly no place for ceili - some even teach set dancing. Why not ceili? It is, after all, their tradition? Millions of pounds are spent on wigs, make up, very expensive costumes and shoes.

Other organisations, like the G.A.A., Gaelic League, Sinn Fein and Comhaltas, can all play an effective part in promoting the art of the Ceili Dance instead of set dancing, which seems to be the case. I would also like to appeal to all who promote set dancing to advertise them as such. According to the adverts it would appear that there is an abundance of ceili Dances in the London area. Ceili dancing has existed for just over 100 years, don't let it die. Why sacrifice one culture for another? Please let me have your comments good or bad - even suggestions, ideas or offers of help. One thing is certain and that is we need to involve the young people and children.

Anton Coyle, 35 Despard Road, Archway, London N19 5NP

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McGeough arrest

26.03.07.

REGARDLESS OF whether you support Sinn Fein's political strategy or you choose another path and party toward the reunification of Ireland, the bottom line is Gerry McGeough's politically motivated arrest and continued harassment and incarceration by the RUC/PSNI is a miscarriage of justice and every Irish republican and nationalist should help to support and free Gerry McGeough regardless of political affiliation.

McGeough's bail hearing on 26 March was postponed after the crown claimed that either Germany or America might extradite him. This claim, like Gerry's arrest, is a sham. Gerry was released by the Germans after serving several years in isolation on alleged IRA activities and then he served a sentence in the US on IRA-related charges from a quarter century ago. Gerry McGeough's incarceration is a continuation of internment by remand and a blatant act of political repression against him because of his outspoken opposition to British rule and the renamed crown constabulary.

Please go to the freegerry.com website to help. Thank you.

Helen McClafferty, Nutley, New Jersey, USA

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English law should be removed from north

26.02.07.

"IT'S NOW time for the British government to come to the aid of unionists by doing everything in their power to convince them that there is no alternative to adopting a new forward-looking strategy based on seeking an accommodation with nationalists and republicans within the terms the Good Friday and St Andrew's agreements."

The above is the last paragraph in the Irish Democrat article 'Another step on the road back to civil rights approach'.

Because of my experiences which I have written into my website at www.gerryrice.net and an unfinished site for an elderly protestant friend at www.justbelfast.com I have stated on Indymedia and in my local paper that English Law must be removed from Northern Ireland. Such is the make-up of English Law in Northern Ireland that there are built-in 'escape routes' for corrupt government agencies, departments and civil servants who have been abusing the people they are charged with, and highly paid for, protecting. There is no difference made between catholic and protestant.

At this time the protestant people have a strong mandate which is being exploited by their own leaders and the result is that that mandate is treated with near contempt in the British Parliament. I believe that the protestant people must be shown the advantages of their presence in the political powerstation of a complete Ireland which would carry enormous weight and help to bring a strength of character to it which is badly needed at this time.

Most importantly it would create a needed balance in the ever growing and uncertain direction of the republican movement which, as an example, has shown absolutely no interest in my battle for the justice I have sought for 30 years and which it would pretend to espouse.

I applaud the content of the paragraph I have quoted above and feel it must be pushed hard.

Gerry Rice, Northern Ireland

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Blatant act of arrogance

09.03.07.

THE ARREST of Gerry McGeough, an Independent candidate who ran for election in Fermanagh/South Tyrone on an anti-PSNI platform, is a blatant act of arrogance on the part of the RUC and one can't help but believe that his arrest was most definitely politically motivated.

Gerry McGeough, one of the most charismatic, highly educated and intelligent, republican candidate to emerge on the political scene since the signing of the Stormont agreement, has been an outspoken opponent to Sinn Fein's acceptance of the PSNI. It is really amazing how the arrest took place the day after the elections rather than before. Was the PSNI and Sinn Fein afraid if Gerry was arrested prior to the election he would have won even more votes based on nationalist/republican sympathy alone?

If the PSNI "is only doing it's duty investigating serious crime" then why hasn't the entire staff of Sinn Fein been arrested and detained for their supposed serious actions in the past.

Helen McClafferty, Nutley, New Jersey, USA

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Time for a new Irish rugby anthemn

27.02.07.

IT WAS wonderful to see a whole rugby team giving voice to a republican anthem in Croke Park, and showing enough surplus energy to win a match. Vive La France!

It was only right that God Save The Queen was played when the English were Ireland's guests. For it always has been, and in the presence too of such distinguished presidents as Dubhghlas de hIde, Sean T O'Ceallaigh and Eamon de Valera and their successors.

It would be nice to think that there was some recipricosity when the Irish team plays overseas, but I'm told that Amhran na bhFhiann is not played nor the Tricolour flown at overseas matches.

It's as if the Irish Rugby Football Union is not happy with the Irish nation. The Rugby Unionists have their very own "Anthem" - Ireland's Call . Perhaps Copyright Law prohibits them from using the old Village People air to Y-M-C-A and substituting I-R-F-U which might trump the All Blacks' HAKA in putting the wind up the opposition?

Ireland's Call should be relegated to the ulimate Sin Bin. For an eternity plus extra time as a Bishop of Kerry would have sent the Fenians.

Alternatively, now that the great and good commentators have noted a maturity in the Irish never before noted in that lesser breed it would be appropriate to sing a ditty written by Peadar Kearney, who also wrote Amhran na bhFhiann, and called Whack Fol The Diddle, the last verse of which goes:

Now Irishmen, forget the past

Whack fol the diddle, fol the di doh dey,

And think of the day that is coming fast

Whack fol the diddle fol the di doh dey

When we shall all be civilised

Neat and clean, and well advised,

Oh, won't Mother England Be Surprised

Whack fol the diddle, fol the di doh dey

Donal Kennedy, London

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New Captain Kelly campaign initiative

17.02.07.

I WOULD like to draw your readers' attention to a campaign, an initiative undertaken by a network of 1968 civil rights veterans, which aims to bring the plight of my late husband, Capt. James J. Kelly, to national and global attention. Periodic campaign updates are available on request from rights.civil@googlemail.com

As your older readers may be aware, my late husband (1929-2003), was acquitted in the 1970's Arms Trials but thereafter, he and our family, were pilloried throughout his remaining years by successive governments. I, and other researchers now have discovered proof that the trial was rigged by the same government that exposed him.

The facts, rather than the fictions, clearly expose a reality in which he duly obeyed orders conveyed via his superior officer/s by the then taoiseach and cabinet, and therefore should never have been charged in the first place.

An on-line petition has been created and I would like to draw your readers attention to this. Paper copies of the petition and other campaign promotional items are freely available from: Knockavoe, O Dochartaigh House, Derry City BT 48 7HR. The on-line petition can be accessed at www.captainkelly.org

Sheila Kelly (widow, c/o rights.civil@googlemail.com )

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A case of close relations

10.02.07.

I FIND it upsetting that you can publish an article by an author who has clearly not even read the work he is disecting.

Peter Berresford Ellis states that Oppenheimer sees no difference between "Anglosaxons" and "Celts" - both spurative terms applied to groups of individuals. He is absolutely incorrect.

Oppenheimer states that ther are differences genetically and culturally between people from the "Anglosaxon" homelands and 'indigenous' Britons and Irish, But he states that he can find only a scant evidence for them having entered the British Isles, about 5per cent in what is now England and similarly small amounts in Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

The overiding point of the work is that the vast majority of people from the British Isles (Britain and Ireland) are descended from people who moved into the isles after the ice age and that subsequent 'invasions' or 'settlements' (whatever we choose to call them depending on our modern political viewpoints) added little to the genetic package we inherit - or if you want to be fascistic about it there is little evidence for 'dilution' of the 'indigenous' stock when compared to the numbers of original peoples and their descendants.....

Nobody suggested in this work that 'the Irish' were the same as the 'Anglosaxons', indeed it is clear from the work that firstly we are ALL descended from related sources, but that we all have a different set of immigrant groups who added to our basic stock levels - so rather than your title being "We're all Anglosaxon anyaway" it should read "Relax - we are all more closely related than some people are happy to admit anyway"

Tim Palmer (via email)

Peter Berresford Ellis responds:

Just to set the record straight - last year before the publication of the Oppenheimer book, Oppenheimer's publisher Constable-Robinson, contacted me and sent me the manuscript, asking me for a comment on it. I studied it thoroughly and did so. My views remain unaltered. While intertesting, DNA tells one nothing about language and culture. (PBE)

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Compromise, compromise, compromise

07.02.07.

WHAT DOESN'T Sinn Fein get? Is Gerry Adams and his party so starved for political acceptance among the Unionist and British government that they can't see that since the signing of the Stormont Agreement, Protestant Unionist parties have used everything in their power to block the formation of a multiparty government and the end of direct British rule? Sinn Fein has capitulated to every demand the Unionists and British government have set forth as a condition to allow them to take part in the Assembly over the past eight years and yet, at present, it is still not operational?

We have witnessed the Stormont Assembly suspended over and over and over due to unionist unhappiness on the nature of 1) Provisional IRA disarmament, (while the only Loyalist paramilitary organization to give up their arms is the LVF). 2) The bogus premise of "Stormontgate," the name given to the controversy surrounding an alleged Provisional IRA spy-ring based in Stormont. 3) Policing. Now that all of these issues have been addressed the DUP are now back-peddling once again about engaging in power-sharing, even after the fact that Sinn Féin has now agreed to fully accept the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

What Irish republicans thought was going to be the final compromise, in order to be able to kick-start the Assembly, has turned out to be nothing more than just another futile attempt by Sinn Fein to placate the Unionists and British government, thus leaving Irish republicans to eat crow once more as they took yet another step on the road to compromise - accepting a British police force.

There may be peace in the north of Ireland over the last five years, but what justice and dignity has been gained for nationalists and republicans in the north since the inception of the Stormont Agreement? From 1998 until 2007 the only compromises being made are those by Sinn Fein. While the Unionist parties continue to stand their ground and put obstacle after obstacle in the path of progress, the British government continues to support them regardless of how much Sinn Fein gives in to their every demands. How much more kowtowing can Sinn Fein do at the expense of the nationalist/republican community?

Ian Paisley is a bigot and his hatred of Roman Catholics is no secret. The DUP have repeatedly pledged to destroy the Agreement from day one. At present, Paisley and the DUP are still not satisfied with all the concessions Sinn Fein has made to date over the last eight years. He and the rest of the Unionist parties are out to destroy any vestige of Irish nationalism and republicanism left in the north of Ireland and sadly Sinn Fein is playing right into their hands. How many more concessions can Sinn Fein make without gaining any positive results from these compromises and still be able to maintain their pride, integrity and keep their republicanism in tact?

It is now time for nationalists and republicans to say "NO MORE." Tell Sinn Fein they need to stand up to the DUP and all other Unionist parties and tell them "enough is enough - no more compromises." "Power-sharing must go ahead immediately." If Adams and party are not willing to stand up to these bigots, then it's time to elect republicans who will. If an executive is not formed on March 26, London and Dublin will immediately switch to an alternative plan in which both the British and Irish governments will together run Northern Ireland. In 1985 Great Britain signed an agreement with the Irish Republic giving the latter a consulting role. While the Catholic party (SDLP) favored the agreement, the Protestant unionist parties used their majority in the regional assembly to block it, resulting in the resumption of direct rule in 1985. Could this be what the DUP has in mind for March 2007- direct rule once again?

Helen McClafferty, Irish-American activist, New Jersey, USA

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Licensed to Kill

23.01.07.

AMERICANS WHO have consistently seen through the thick fog of British propaganda shrouding events in northeast Ireland were not the least bit shocked when Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan recently reported that former officers in the British Special Branch had used paid informants in the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force to murder Irish nationalists, and to engage in bombings, drug dealing and extortion.

Of course the Anglophile press will insist that there is no proof that Special Branch police directed the UVF members in their employ to kill Her Majesty's enemies in Ireland, but I am tired of giving them the benefit of the bloody doubt, because there is no doubt.

If there were any exculpatory evidence that would exonerate retired Special Branch agents who worked with UVF informants and double agents, then British state prosecutors would have reopened one of the dozens of cases from the 1990s to prove that ex-officers had not covered up their own crimes when they were covering-up their informants'.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said the report demonstrated that Special Branch agents "had lost all moral compass at that time." Good God, not their moral compass! Did they ever bring one of those to Ireland? Ahern also said the British state had "failed in one of its primary duties - to protect its citizens". Actually, they didn't fail in their duties - they succeeded. After all, they used hired killers to dispose of their enemies, and got away with it.

Britain's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, said that both UVF veterans and former police officers should stand trial. He is safe in saying that because he knows it will never happen. Why? Because British agents "deliberately failed to keep, or later destroyed, all documentary evidence on their relationship with their informers." Home free.

Another "shocking" report on collusion was delivered on April 17th, 2003 by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens. His government-appointed police inquiry into government-assisted collusion and murder in Ireland was repeatedly blocked, wrecked by arson, manipulated, and delayed for 14 years!

He finally concluded that, "members of the RUC and Army colluded with the largest loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), to murder Catholics" and, he said: "informants and agents were allowed to operate without effective control and to participate in terrorist crimes". Tony Blair and his government responded to the 3,000-page Stevens Report with absolute silence. Ministers made no apology, offered no defense, admitted no guilt, and announced no new investigations or impending arrests.

Let the truth be told and, God-willing, believed: the Irish who were murdered were the victims of British state-sponsored terrorism.

James Mullin, USA

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Hobson's Choice?

29.11.06.

AS ANTI-IMPERIALISTS, our hearts should go out to our counterparts in Ireland who are apparently being invited to choose between two different forms of British colonial rule. The events at Stormont on Friday 24h November, however, lend support to the view that power-sharing is more of a problem for unionism than it is for nationalism. On its own, the violent intervention by loyalist paramilitary Michael Stone proves nothing. More indicative is the statement issued by twelve senior DUP members (not including Paisley) which seemed designed to re-assure supporters that the DUP had not signed up to power-sharing. It stressed that the DUP had not, on the deadline day, nominated its candidate for First Minister. There are other signs, too, of worry over this in DUP ranks. The reason? The essence of unionism is sectarianism, and a fundamental part of sectarianism is the need of unionists to feel that the British colony is "their" patch. Hence the need to stage triumphalist parades through nationalist areas. Power-sharing, especially if it extends to policing, spells the end of this concept. For us in Britain the task remains the same: to step up the pressure for an end to colonial rule.

Ken Keable, Stoke sub Hamdon, England

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British media indifference

15.11.06.

RETURNING TO England after 14 years in the Republic of Ireland, I am struck by the indifference of the media here (Britain) to events in Northern Ireland, no matter how outrageous these are.

An example is the report, by an independent, international panel of experts, which found "significant and credible evidence" of collusion, by the colonial police force and the Army, in 74 sectarian murders by loyalist paramilitaries in the 1970s. (Probe uncovers British army collusion - Morning Star, 6th November).

The report says: "Documentary, testimonial and ballistics evidence suggests that the violent extremists with whom RUC officers and agents colluded - and even overlapped - gained much of their arms and ammunition, as well as training, information and personnel, from the RUC and UDR [a regiment of the British Army - KK]."

It goes on, "Credible evidence indicates that superiors of violent extremist officers and agents, at least within the RUC, were aware of their sectarian crimes, yet failed to act to prevent, investigate or punish them."

This damning report has passed with barely a scrap of media concern or public discussion. And the cover-up goes on.

The full report is available on www.patfinucanecentre.org

Ken Keable, Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset

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Little change from Blueshirt days

14.11.06.

What the media appears to have overlooked in its reporting of Friday's events in Bellanaboy, Co Mayo, is the fact that a police Superintendent, apparently with the approval of the Minister for Justice, arbitrarily decided to ban a legitimate protest march organised by the Shell to Sea campaign.

On Friday morning those intending to participate in the protest gathered at the assembly point, near Bellanaboy Cross at 7.00.a.m. - where people gather every morning for the daily protest march to the Shell site.

However when people prepared to march on Friday they were faced with a phalanx of gardai who refused to let anyone pass. No explanation was offered as to why people were not being allowed march. Despite having public address equipment the senior gardai provided no information to those who had gathered at the assembly point.

Growing more and more frustrated, and without any indication as to why they were not being allowed to march, a number of people decided to walk through the adjacent bogland and assemble further down the road towards the Shell site. Many of these people were battened by the gardai.

I had been standing at the assembly point for over two hours when I first learned that an order had been made banning the protest march. A garda sergeant in the police ranks who recognised me expressed concern about the possibility of trouble escalating. I pointed out that people had been waiting hours to participate in the protest march and they were growing more and more frustrated. He then informed me that the superintendent had made an order the previous night prohibiting the march.

In my view the right to peacefully protest is a cornerstone of our democracy. The fact that a police superintendent could and would arbitrarily decide to ban a protest march surely must be condemned by all who believe in civil liberties. It smacks of Northern Ireland in its worst days.

The decision to ban the march, and the decision not to advise people of the ban, clearly added to the levels of frustration and tension on Friday morning. The order then given by senior gardai to use battens against protesters can not be justified.

It is obvious to me that the majority of gardai temporarily based in Erris have no wish to be used to protect Shell's interests. However it is also clear that there is a minority of gardai who have been consistently aggressive and provocative during the daily protest marches.

The week before last Labour and Socialist councillors from outside the area proudly participated in the daily protest march to the Shell site at Bellanaboy and expressed their support for the community.

Last week a delegation of senior Labour Party T.D.'s from outside the area took part in the daily protest march and expressed their solidarity with the local community

This week Deputy Enda Kenny blames outside agitators for causing unrest and subversion among the local community in Erris. It's interesting to note how little has really changed since General O'Duffy led the Blueshirts

Councillor Declan Bree, Labour Party,1, High Street, Sligo.

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Irish minister refuses to repatriate Maguire

07.10.06.

IN RECENT days an Irish political prisoner in England, Noel Maguire, has been notified by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Michael McDowell TD - that the reason for his refusal to agree to repatriate Noel is because in his view Noel 'hasn't sufficient relatives' living in the 26 Counties to warrant repatriation!

The October Fifth Association, a network of civil rights veterans, and various other groups concerned with human rights and civil liberties, are fully aware this to be a blatant lie. Noel's wife and two children live only an hour's drive from Portlaoise Prison in Co Laois - and have confirmed on more than one occasion, with representatives from the Justice Ministry, they are willing to visit him should he be repatriated to Ireland.

Noel also has a brother, two sisters and uncles and aunts living in Ireland who are willing to visit him. Noel has NO relatives living in Britain!

Could it be that Noel is now being detained as some kind of political hostage? It would seem so. He has all the credentials and qualifications under European Union legislation to avail of the agreement that enables nationals of any EU state to be repatriated to country of origin.

Noel is from Co Fermanagh - part of the 32 counties of Ireland - holds a current Irish passport (issued in Dublin in 1999) so is therefore a bona fide Irish citizen.

If Noel is being denied repatriation on the grounds he's from 'Northern Ireland,' and not the 'Irish Republic' then the man from the ministry is in essence saying the Irish government recognises Britain's right to ownership of part of Ireland - namely the 6 Counties.

Minister McDowell needs to make the position clear regarding the nationality of people who are born in occupied Ireland and those born elsewhere in the country. Written in the Irish Constitution it is claimed 'the people of Ireland are cherished equally.'

Could it be some are more equal than others?

Fionnbarra O Dochartaigh, Co-founder, N.Ireland Civil Rights Assoc., 1967, Address supplied

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Antipodean support for anti-revisionist tract

19.07.06.

THIS NOTE to say how much I enjoyed the Ellis lecture on revisionism in Irish historical writing; I mentally stood and cheered as I read it.

No academic (I finished school at age 12) I am about 150,000 words into a biography of one Samuel Marsden, an Anglican Parson in New South Wales between 1794-1838. His loathing for, and torture of, the Irish Catholic convicts remains alive in the Australian racial memory to this day.

He is regularly mentioned in parliament, for example, when a single name is required to serve as an exemplar of all that was wrong in colonial Australian administration.

He is known in Australia as 'The Flogging Parson'; his ordering of 1000 lashes for Irishmen in Sep. 1800 is part of Australian folkloric history. He was an evil, corrupt, bigoted, psychopathic monster.

He began an Anglican Mission to Maori in northern NZ in 1814. Here in NZ he is known as 'The Apostle to the Maoris' and 'The Apostle of New Zealand'. His very name is held in deep reverence here.

I rather wondered at the probability of such a Jekyll and Hyde existence and over four years of research has shown that he was in fact a large scale dealer in arms and ammunition to Maori up north, enabling them to slaughter their traditionally-armed southern brethren. Over 20,00- died; up to 60,000 were enslaved. (This in a Maori population of 150,000 max.). Some Apostle! I do it all the academic way, of course: citations of original docs, etc.

As Ellis so graphically showed in his lecture, there are many people who would rather revise truth than accept it - and its consequences. I've had abusive telephone calls from evangelicals (sic) who insist I shall be going to Hell for my pains. I answer the only way I can: politely ask them if they have any messages for me to deliver to Marsden on arrival.

I will be printing the Ellis article for my editor, because she tells me I lack 'academic objectivity' in my work. My reply: there is no such thing, and I have pointed out many startling examples of partisan historiography hiding under the guise of academic objectivity.

The moral viewpoint of the historian is, I think, an integral part of their work. After all, it is quite possible to write a glowing biography of Adolf Hitler, concentrating on how he cured unemployment, built autobahns, liked his dog, was kind to Eva Braun, etc., etc. But none of that touches on the reality or centrality of Hitler's life. Surely if we don't tell all the truth - and comment on what it means, morally speaking, we have not done our self-appointed jobs properly - or at all.

Keep up the good work.

Richard Quinn (and a Doherty on my mother's side), Auckland, New Zealand

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British government must return the remains of Michael Barrett

06-07.06

I WISH through the columns your paper to call on the British government to give back the mortal remains of Michael Barrett from Ederney, Fermanagh whom you unjustly hanged in 1868 and whose body you snatched from his loved ones in Ireland and buried first in the prison and then in an unmarked grave in Manor Park cemetery, London.

Michael Barrett was wrongly accused of causing an explosion at Clerkenwell prison in London in December 1867. He was the only one found guilty in a farcical trial. Judge Cockburn passed the sentence of death, adding that there was no hope of reprieve and that Barrett should prepare himself for death. Following sentencing, Barrett was taken from the dock to the condemned cell at Newgate.

Michael's mother walked to Lisnarick, near Irvinestown to plead her son's case with the local MP, Captain M E Archdale, but he showed her no sympathy. He is reported to have said that her son and all Fenians should be hanged and the sooner the better.

The authorities wanted to make an example of some Irishman in order to stem the growing appeal of the Fenians. They wanted to teach the Irish a lesson. Michael was their chosen victim.

While awaiting his execution Michael spent much time in prayer with a priest, Father Hussey, from Moorfields.

On the morning of 26 May 1868, he was duly hanged in public outside Newgate jail before a crowd of more than 2,000. As he walked to the scaffold he was accompanied by Fr Hussey who prayed with him while the noose was placed around his neck.

After hanging for one hour his body was removed and placed in a grave within the prison. Michael Barrett faced the last public hanging in England.

Queen Victoria was outraged that only one man was executed for the Clerkenwell explosion. She urged that in future, instead of being brought to trial, Irish suspects should be lynch - lawed and on the spot.

The mortal remains of Michael Barrett were never returned to his family and his native place. In 1902, when Newgate gaol was pulled down, the remains of all those buried there were transferred in fifty boxes and placed in six adjoining graves in the City of London cemetery in Manor Park, Ilford.

There in Plot number 340 lie the mortal remains of Michael Barrett. On behalf of the relatives of Michael Barrett I am calling on the British government to find and return the remains of Michael Barrett to his native place in Fermanagh. We want Michael to be buried in his own native parish.

Readers could write to the British PM Tony Blair, the Home Secretary and your local MP.

Fr Joe McVeigh, Ederney, Co Fermanagh

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Commemorating the Somme

04-05/06

SHOULD ALL foreign wars in which Irish people participated be commemorated, whether or not there is now a consensus in favour of the objectives for which they fought? d we commemorate those Irish who fought on the pro-slavery side in the American Civil War? Should we commemorate the battles of Cremona, Blenheim, Ramillies and Fontenoy?

The first question we must ask is whether we understand what was at issue in the Irish involvement in these battles. War is about killing people. Killing is a serious thing and there has to be a very good reason for it. Though the issue continues to be debated, the political consensus in favour of the 1916 Rising has been confirmed.

But what about the Somme? By that point in the Great War, the decision had been made by the Irish General Kitchener and others on the British side, that Germany could not be beaten by military science and the only way to win the war was by attrition.

This meant that the fighting had to be arranged, not to obtain a strategic advantage which would bring the killing to a stop, but to maximise killing on all sides. The calculation was that the Central Powers, the European Union of the day, had a smaller population than their enemies to draw from and would be exhausted first. This is Britain's crime against Europe, accurately predicted by Roger Casement in his book of that name.

The Somme is a prime example. In 24 hours of fighting there were about 10,000 Irish casualties. On a one-for-one killing ratio, the Irish must have been responsible for about 10,000 Bavarian, Pomeranian, Saxon and other casualties. Do we stand over those killings to the extent that we wish to publicly honour the killers? Were those deaths justified? What was it all for?

About a half of the 10,000 Irish casualties were for King and Country. In other words they were fighting for the British Empire, the 300-year project of world conquest, colonisation, ethnic cleansing and genocide which reached its apex in the first half of the 20th century. This part of the Irish war effort was supremely successful, as the British Empire gained vast territories in Africa nad the Middle East from the Great War, and went on to pile horror upon atrocity right up to Palestine and Iraq today.

The other half thought they were fighting for the freedom of small nations.

It became increasingly obvious that they were the unfortunate dupes of Imperial politics. So their killing of others, and their own deaths, were a tragic mistake to be lamented, not celebrated. By glorifying the tragedy of the Somme as a positive event in history we are in danger of a miscalculation which would make the recent events in O'Connell Street look like a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park.

Perhaps the way ahead is, like Holocaust Day, to acknowledge the Great War as a Crime Against Europe, in the tradition of Irish foreign policy pioneered by Casement and Connolly.

Pat Muldowney, Derry

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Michael Davitt commemoration

11.03.06

I WOULD like to inform you of an Irish Heritage/History story that should delight your readers or members, especially at this time of year; St Patrick's Day and the centenary of Michael Davitt's death, March & May respectively.

The Irish Democratic League Club (Michael Davitt Branch) of Haslingden, in Lancashire England, has produced a fascinating and original website in celebration of the centenary of Michael Davitt's death 1906 - 2006.

For the first time in their history, founded circa 1881, the club are offering worldwide online associate membership to celebrate the life and work of Michael Davitt, a man whose peaceful methods of resistance influenced and were later adopted by non other than Mahatma Ghandi.

In keeping with the flavour of Davitt's original work the website can be found at www.thelandleague.org (The Land League was so successful during the 19th century that Gladstone's British government outlawed the organisation)

Anyone joining the club will receive a centenary membership card, copies of historical documents and the opportunity to have a unique and historical email address of yourname@thelandleague.org.

We are hoping that the website will increase membership of the club and help us with promoting further Irish Heritage and Culture across the world.

For more information please contact: Peter Couch petercouch@thelandleague.org

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Language, propaganda and the art of deception

20.02.06.

KEVIN MYERS, who occupies the northeast corner of the comment page of the Irish Times, not long ago referred to the 'police cadets' ambushed at Kilmicheal in November 1920.

Generally they have been recognised as members of the auxiliary division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, but British propaganda at the time, for purposes of deception, described them as police cadets.

This was in line with calling tracked armoured vehicles "tanks" or assassination squads 'Special Air Services'.

Was the Royal Irish Constabulary a pukkha Police Service? Were its members kosher Coppers? Not really, according to their masters in London.

I qoute-

"it was decided by the Government that members of the Royal Irish Constabulary could not be permitted to join the National Union of Police and Prison Officers, in as much as the Royal Irish Constabulary is a semi-military force directly under the control of the Crown, and subject in many respects to the same conditions as the army and navy forces"

The source of that statement was His Brittanic Majesty's Chief Secretary for Ireland in the House of Commons on 6th March 1919, and I defy Kevin Myers and his admirers to trump that authority.

It would only be fair to add that in March 1919 virtually all non-unionists in Ireland were unarmed, unlike the forces which had faced Britain's army and navy forces before November 1918. For instance my uncle Jack, two months shy of 17, was badly wounded serving with Britain's navy at Jutland in May 1916, whilst his brother Ned had been badly gassed with the Dublin Fusiliers in Flanders. The RIC by contrast faced a virtually unarmed population.

I consulted the Oxford English Dictionary, the Cambridge English Dictionary, and Chambers' English Dictionary for the meaning of cadet and they were agreed that it meant "young uncommissioned gentlemen receiving military or police training".

Young? The average age of the 'cadets' at Kilmichael was 29. Soldiering has given the English language the word 'infantry' and the Irish Language the word 'oglaigh', deriving from the fact that most soldiers enlist before they are 21. In 1920 most people left school to earn their livings by the age of 14, and, in Britain, most would have married by 22.

Uncommissioned? All the Auxiliaries at Kilmichael had been commissioned as officers in the British forces, and one of them was a lieutenant colonel who had commanded, or was deemed competent to command, a battalion of 300 men.

Undergoing training? They were, every one of them, veterans of the greatest war the world had ever seen. They were battle-hardened veterans. And they were not undergoing training.

Their funeral can be downloaded from the British Pathe Newsreel archive, free from the Internet. All units of the British army from the Aldreshot command were represented at the funeral. No Police Units are shown, nor are they mentioned in the captions.

So the next time anyone tells you that the Auxies were cub-scouts or bunny-girls tell them to look up 'Macroom' on British Pathe. And when they try to tell you the RIC were servants of the Irish people, or community police, refer them to Hansard 113 Series, House of Commons Debates, column 626 of 6th March 1919.

Donal Kennedy, London

(for further topical comment visit Blog at http://journals.aol.co.uk/donalmkennedy/IRISHMYERSE/

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1916 Procclamation: a charter for democracy

18.02.06.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4, in the context of the proposed outlawing of "glorifying terrorism", historian Roy Foster not only suggested that the poem Easter 1916by W.B.Yeats might be criminalised, but also stated that the Rising was "anti-democratic".

I had thought such claptrap confined to invincibly ignorant unionists and the ranting rhetoric of Kevin Myers in the Irish Times.

The Declaration of Independence, for which all of the signatories forfeited their lives, was a sincere charter for democracy. It is a yardstick against which subsequent progress or lack of it can be judged.

It was not made in the teeth of democracy but in the teeth of a power, which neither in its seat in London nor in its far-flung empire, was democratic. Not until 1948 in the United Kingdom was the principle of 'one adult, one vote' accepted for parliamentary elections. As recently as 1955, Unionist candidates defeated at the polls were deemed eligible to sit in the House of Commons.

In the six counties the campaign for 'one adult, one vote' in the 1968 local elections was met with a violent response from the state, the reverberrations of which are still with us.

If we wind the clock back four years and two weeks from Easter 1916 we can observe the kind of democracy the Insurgents of 1916 faced. Consider the editorial in The Times of London of 11 April 1916, the day the Titanic sailed from Southampton and Cobh.

The previous day, in the House of Commons, the Labour leader Keir Hardie, proposed that soldiers, if they requested, should be excused deployment which might bring them into conflict with striking trade unionists. Some hope, though not long after, Officers could decline from duties which might have them disarming Orangemen bent on intimidating Catholics and the British imperial parliament alike. The Times guffawed at the prospect that soldiers (in the ranks, that is) could pick and choose between orders they would obey and disobey.

No doubt, as it made its way from Southampton and Cobh, some first class passengers on RMS Titanic read The Tiomes with a chuckle. And many of them, including the chairman of the White Star Line, survived.

I doubt many of the steerage passengers read The Times, and would guess that most of those who boarded the Titanic at Cobh, both The Times and The Irish Times were considered enemy papers. A much higher percentage of steerage passengers than first class passengers drowned, including women and children.

The regime the 1916 Insurgents challenged was neither democratic nor noble and chivalrous. It was barbaric and the insurgents were harbingers of democracy.

Donal Kennedy, London

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Will Dublin clear Kelly in 2006?

21.01.06.

ON DECEMBER 9th a senior advisor to An Taoiseach met with the widow of the late Captain James Kelly, and two of her daughters at Government Buildings in Dublin. Although long-awaited this was a very positive development and another meeting is planned at which the family can provide adequate evidence in a bid to secure an official exoneration from the Irish government.

The late Captain Kelly struggled for more than thirty years to obtain that objective. At his death-bed his wife Sheila, daughters and sons promised to continue his fight for justice, no matter how long that might take.

Within hours of his death, in July 2003, An Taoiseach publicly stated, in reference to the events leading up to the 1970 Arms Trial: "He had acted on what he believed were proper orders. Personally I have no reason to doubt his integrity."

This very welcome, if somewhat belated comment, prompted a number of civil rights veterans, mainly based in Derry, to launch the Captain Kelly Justice Campaign. Central to such efforts is an international petition which has already been endorsed by several prominent politicians, clergy, authors, journalists and people from many other fields of human endeavour, both at home and abroad.

The campaign, which has the active backing of the Kelly family, has created a website which can be located at www.captainkelly.org Paper petitions, car-bumper stickers, and other promotional items have also been produced, some as far away as the USA and Australia, to popularise this prolonged bid for basic justice from the Irish state.

Campaigners strongly feel that this unresolved issue is a national shame, which deserves, now, to be treated as a matter of urgency, not merely for the sake of his surviving widow and family members, but primarily in the interests of social justice, human compassion and basic decency, which we all should expect to be essential ingredients to any collective sense of national pride.

Publication of this letter would be greatly appreciated in the hope that at least some who read it may take steps to learn more about how this soldier, writer, artist and human rights activist was scapegoated and thrown to the wolves by higher powers.

Let us pray that the Dublin government in 2006 will posthumously vindicate Captain Kelly and that this cause attracts such a measure of public solidarity that all government ministers, local politicians, and the media in particular, will effectively sit up and take notice.

Fionnbarra O Dochartaigh, CKJCampaign Manager, Knockavoe, Derry City BT48 7HR

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Author queries Lemass role in The Squad

01.12.05.

IN REVIEWING my book, The Squad and the Intelligence Operations of Michael Collins your reviewer states "the complete absence of any reference whatsoever to future Taoiseach Sean Lemass, who is generally accepted as having been one of the Collins' Squad, is very odd indeed."

The suggestion that Sean Lemass was in The Squad was in John Horgan's biography, and he was only speculating on "circumstantial and hearsay evidence" that Lemass was a member of the Squad on one day, Bloody Sunday.

Far from "generally accepted," I am aware of no evidence that Lemass was ever in the Squad and I read the contributions of all the surviving members of the Squad to the Bureau of Military History in the 1950s. I would consider it inconceivable that not one of them would have mentioned him, if he had been a member of the Squad.

It is obvious that he was not a member. John Horgan was clearly confused about the set up on Bloody Sunday. There were at least thirteen different "hit teams" comprising of over hundred men in total. A member of the Squad was in charge of all but one team (in the Gresham Hotel), with the bulk of the personnel involved coming from the various Dublin Battalions. Where people were killed there is plenty of information about who was involved, but six of the teams killed nobody, as they could not find their targets. Lemass may well have been a member of one of those teams, but he was no a member of the Squad.

T Ryle Dwyer, Tralee, County Kerry

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Church's support for capitalism, not celibacy, the problem

PETER BERRESFORD Ellis gave a scholarly account of the Catholicism's history regarding the role of women priests, marriage and celibacy within the Church in the Democrat recently. Although I have no problem with women becoming priests, as they were in Ireland before, I do think celibacy is a vital part of the calling to become a priest.

St Augustine introduced the rule for good reason, primarily as means of confronting nepotism and its associated corruption within the Church. I'm sure Peter would shudder at the prospect of Joe Ratzenger's sons being put into positions of Vatican power to perpetuate his hegemony!

Also being unmarried and celibate frees up a huge amount of energy, offering a vista of possibilities to fight modern day spiritual battles, whereas being married and devoted to raising children restricts these possibilities greatly. All the original disciples were married people who left their families to follow Christ's calling. They did so for a reason.

Modern day priests need to show the same commitment. But there are many lay roles within the church, if people feel they cannot make this sacrifice. Des Greaves, the esteemed former editor of this very paper took as similar, albeit, secular path in life. He decided against marriage, probably because it would have been a fetter on his boundless energy and tireless work for Irish freedom. The Irish people were Greaves'family.

There is no reason why clergy should not have a similar relationship with the Irish people, mediated through a love of justice and God. I would also suggest that declining numbers in Irish seminaries is less to do with celibacy and marriage rules and more to do with the fact that young idealistic Catholics now choose to follow a secular vocation rather than join a clergy who's leadership renounces liberation theology and embraces, or at least tolerates, the intrinsic evil of global capitalism.

A Malone, Essex, England

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Equality demands unbending political intent

HOPES EQUALITY can be achieved for six-county nationalists by using equality and human rights legislation written within the Good Friday agreement will be difficult to fulfil, as your feature in last month's Irish Democrat highlighted.

The goal is not impossible but we need to be careful about the political path we take here. The reason inequality was institutionalised after partition was to ensure Irish Catholics were economically subjugated and politically disenfranchised, hence unable to help bring an end to British colonial rule in Ireland from within the northern state.

In attempting to bring about equality we must not dilute demands and action for re- unification to make it easier for nationalists to be co- opted into the state's institutions. Otherwise British ministers and unionist bigots will have achieved something they couldn't do by excluding nationalists from the state since 1921. This is a real possibility if a conservative republican concept of social progress evolves further and negates its more radical roots.

B Keenan, Belfast

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Threat to British rights and liberties

07.09.05.

THE ENGLISH government wants to ban "unacceptable behaviors" which "foment, justify, glorify or provoke terrorist violence and other serious criminal activity or foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence". The law is aimed not so much at street corner agitators as it is at community leaders, religious leaders, and teachers.

In the US such laws would inevitably be struck down as unconstitutional, but poor England has no constitution and is not even a republic. It does have a long history of abuse of civil rights at the whim of powerful elites with money and resources, as does the United States.

Will these laws be used evenhandedly? Will they be used against Anglican and Catholic priests and bishops and other extremist hatemongers who use their pulpits to spew bigotry directed at gays and lesbians? Will they be used to jail bigots like Paisley in occupied Ireland who are responsible for inspiring terrorist violence? Will they be used to stop the obnoxious and rampant racism of the Orange parades? Will the unionist hatemongers be deported back to Scotland and England, whence they came.

Not likely, but they will most certainly be used against Islamic and non-Islamic critics of Blair's policy in Iraq and slavish complicity with Bush's wannabe world conqueror fantasies. Will some of the provisions be used against immigrant strikers, students, community activists fighting racism, and women struggling in opposition to sexism? Watch and see.

From the perspective of someone living in the US who's accustomed to constitutional rights (however limited and regularly trampled on) these laws seem to pose real dangers for the civil rights and liberties of people living in England, Scotland, Wales and occupied Ireland.

Bill Perdue,Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

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Time for British left to argue the case for withdrawal

06.09.05.

THE IRA statement of 28 July formally declaring an end to its armed struggle has been rightly hailed as historic. Yet many people on the left in Britain do not fully appreciate the potential for change that it has brought, not only for Ireland, but for Britain. Far too many British progressives see the "Irish problem" as a matter for the Irish to solve, as though it were solely an Irish affair.

The nature of The IRA bombing campaign in England created an atmosphere in which it was almost impossible to have a discussion in Britain about the injustice of Britain's partition of Ireland, about the institutional sectarian discrimination which is fundamental to unionism, or about the benefits of British withdrawal and the dangers and drawbacks of maintaining the union. Those who actually want to hold on to Northern Ireland rarely had to argue their case - they merely talked about the IRA. Now they must be made to address these issues.

Many British progressives have used the IRA campaign as an excuse to avoid these issues altogether. Now there is no excuse. Hostile attitudes to Sinn Féin must also change.

The fact that a small majority of voters in Northern Ireland want to retain the union is not a reason for British people to want it. Most British people, in fact, don't want it. It is time for the British left to give political expression to that majority view. It is time for British voters to take responsibility for solving this problem, a problem that Britain created and that Britain, as the sovereign power, has the responsibility to solve.

It is time for the British left to discuss and explain why withdrawal is in the interests of the British people and to demand urgent implementation of the Good Friday Agreement as part of the path towards that goal.

The Agreement, by attacking institutional sectarian discrimination, removes the material basis for sectarian ideology and hence of unionism. It also creates a new political arrangement favourable to the anti-colonialist forces in Britain and in Ireland.

We now have a new situation. No more excuses. Seize the time.

Ken Keable, Co. Waterford, Ireland

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Persistent stereotyping

03.08.05.

I sometimes wonder whether journalists in the information media are really that ignorant or do merely supply the story line that their employers require. If it is the former then it is an inherent ignorance, which they need to attend to and not pass on to the readers, listeners and viewers of our powerful information media. If it is the latter then we live in a world of self-censorship where all journalists know the requirements of Big Brother and dare not express an independent viewpoint on pain of dismissal. Journalists have been sacked for disclosing the truth in the past.

Northern Ireland is a typical case in point. We all know that the Irish have never taken kindly to being colonised. They rebelled and suffered shock and awe at the hands of the invaders - pitchcaps, hung drawn and quartered, disembowelling, all being English inventions. Bans on voting, bans on practicing religion, bans on speaking Gaelic. Later, rubber bullets, plastic bullets, CS gas, internment without trial, shoot to kill, Diplock court, the list is endless.

This policy of shock and awe did great damage to the Irish nation and over the long years of read and propaganda wars created terrible stereotypes that still fetter the English people in their genuine attempts to understand the Irish question.

How many journalists would put their job on the line to overcome the stereotype and tell the real story? Not many it seems.

An example. Recently an Irishman took over as chief executive at the Office of Fair Trading. He was headhunted in Ireland and has taken this job in England at a salary of £250,000 per annum. He is one of many Irish academics and economists who have been offered lucrative positions in the UK.

The Financial Times in reporting this influx headlined its story: "An abundance of professional talent is Emeralds Isle's latest export." The article went on to tell us that "being Irish has come to be seen as exotic and positive in today's Britain". The article twice referred to a "Mick on the make" (a term used by Roy Foster in his book Paddy and Mr Punch and concluded that his salary is now considerably more that he would have earned at the Irish Competition Authority and that this may have been a factor in him taking the job.

The Financial Times told us in a more recent edition, following the IRA announcement of its move to a "democratic means" mode to achieve the end of partition, that London and Dublin had "talked of the possibility" of the IRA becoming a society akin to the British Legion, organising parades and keeping former members in touch, should the organisation makes good its pledge to enter a "new mode".

I could have laughed, but then I suppose it is sad really that they still cannot see beyond their own stereotypes.

Peter Mulligan, Northampton, England

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Building the EU by stealth

24.04.05

I am an American and I read your article "Building The EU By Stealth". It is refreshing to know that some of us in the United States are not the only people to recognize what is happening in the world around us.

Thank you for making your thoughts and ideas known. I hope there is a way to unite those of us from around the world who see what is happening to our freedoms. The snake is in the grass and it slowly approaches those we love and care about.

I've never been to Ireland; however, I have been to several other countries and recognize that we all want the same things. To be free, to be loved, cared for and respected.

Yours in freedom and sovereignty

Rocky Hardie, Texas, USA

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When all but they had fled

07.03.05.

IT'S REMARKABLE what you see on the internet.

Quite by accident I came across a diatribe by Ruth Dudley Edwards against various bodies, which parade at Easter, calling themselves Oglaigh na hEireann .

She described them as traitors. Most people are careful about using such terms, even when their own loyalties have been constant.

Ms Dudley Edwards, in her obituary of her late former husband, Patrick Cosgrave, said he became an ardent English patriot.

Born of Irish parents in Dublin in 1941, he was reared and educated to graduate level there and employed by the Irish National broadcasting station, mutating into a British imperialist jingo of Victorian vintage and a speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher. Were I a cataloguer of curios I might find a charitable word for him. But it would be false to describe him as English - or a patriot.

Ms Dudley Edwards purports to resent the use of the title Oglaigh na hEireann by any body other than those under the control of the Dublin government.

Such resentment is tenable in a citizen with an unbroken record of "fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State" as required by the Irish constitution. But it is eyebrow-raising, hilarious, ironic, odd, ridiculous and rum, in someone as fickle in their favours as Ruth Dudley Edwards.

For Ms. Dudley Edwards' adult choice to travel on a British passport, revealed for a profile in the book Leading Lives, suggests lapses in fidelity and loyalty disqualifying her from pronouncements on allegiance and betrayal.

I flatter myself that I'm better qualified. I was a soldier in the FCA, the part-time reserve of the government-controlled Oglaigh na hEireann, having joined on the same day as the last Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces. I marched down O'Connell Street to The Pride of Petravore and presented arms at the GPO at Easter.

However, those forces discontinued their Easter commemoration at the time of the Cosgrave government. But while they never paraded at Easter under Cosgrave, whenever possible the other Oglaigh did.

Here, the internet is most instructive.

The ITN and British Pathe archive of worldwide motion picture newsreels from 1896 is available free to schools, libraries, and educational institutions. For many months it was free to everyone.

The Battle of Kursk, Pearl Harbor, El Alamein are all there. So too is footage of the Russian revolution, the Irish civil war, Jack Dempsey and Jack Doyle, John McCormack and Mick the Miller, John Dillinger and Dixie Dean, and Caughoo winning the Grand National in 1947. There's even film of the unveiling of a statue of Lenin by the London Borough of Finsbury.

Concerning Irish parades, Dev, Brugha and Mulcahy reviewing the First Western Division just before the Treaty and Terence MacSwiney's funeral in London and Cork each have about 20 minutes of footage. There's also film of Irish government forces parading on St Patrick's Day during the early years of the Free State, one shows a protest, and then, at Easter 1932, following Fianna Fail's accession to power, the Dublin Brigade IRA, 5,000 strong, parading through Dublin.

In 1935 a parade of 1916 veterans, some of whom line the parapet of the GPO to fire a salute, are inspected by Dev, who as head of government has a Free State army escort. Such examples illustrate complexities Ms Dudley Edwards, in her crude, mercenary, tabloid mode chooses to ignore. Dev’s escort and many of the veterans will have fired not just epithets but bullets at each other.

Ms Dudley Edwards is most scornful of the 'Continuity' republican movement. It's ironic, considering her empathy with Victorian jingoes, that those republicans may be the last repositary of the less ignoble values of those times.

A Frenchman could comment that the Charge at Balaclava was "magnificent, but not war" but Tennyson, the Poet Laureate, urges us to "Honour the Light Brigade". Perhaps the Continuity policy is magnificent, but not politic.

And perhaps, like that other Victorian exemplar, the boy who stood on the burning deck, when all but he had fled, Ruairi O Bradaigh is not well advised. But, like the late General Tom Maguire, whom O Bradaigh profiles in Dilseacht(Loyalty), O Bradaigh is a sincere and consistent patriot.

Deplore their politics if you will, but honour the Old Brigade.

Donal Kennedy, England

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Acts of God, colonial mismanagement or genocide?

11.03.05

Great article ... I would say the famine was also about 'economic rattionalism' at its worst . This accursed mindset that has returned to todays worlds like smallpox or fascism .

There was plenty of food in Silos of the protestants and absentee English landlords . Further the outrageous cheek of the English , who actually stand on ancient Celtic soil nowdays called England, to expect compensation under the Land Act for the theft of Irish land fills me with rage.

The Irish should consider ,even today, counter-suing the English for genocide and massive compenation.

Long live the hope of a united Ireland

Dan O'Brien

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The anthem of Maud Gonne

07.11.04.

I AM an American who is somewhat ashamed to admit it right now, but who is nonetheless proud of what I did, trying to unseat Jorge the Renegade (go to commondreams.org and use their search feature for "Bruce F. Cole").I am truly sorry that it wasn't enough. But that's not the reason I'm writing.

Nor is this a comment on the recent review of the new book about Maud Gonne on your site, a piece that I came across doing a Google search in pursuit of my interest in the Gonne/Yeats/Irish Independence story. I simply thought that I'd share with you the lyrics of a song I wrote a while back about the mythic Queen of the Struggles and the Mother of the Amnesty Movement. You may enjoy these lines, given your leanings:

Amnesty (The Anthem of Maud Gonne)

I will not wait before the rising tide

I must make land before the Banshee rises;

I'll row upstream against the Crown.

I've got to bring those gallows down.

... ...

Young Barry stood before their court and jury

Accused of treason and sedition towards their army

He rode upstream against the Crown.

I've got to bring those gallows down.

... ...

The people of Falcaragh know where they will find us

And when the dawn unfolds they'll fall right in behind us;

They'll fly upstream against the Crown.

They've got to bring those gallows down.

... ...

This land, so high, we've held so hard

But she holds us like a sparrow

In the palm of an open hand...

... ...

I am no mercenary fighting for a fortune

But if you join me your name will not be forgotten;

We'll go upstream against the Crown;

We've got to bring those gallows down.

... ...

I pray to Brigid that she'll guide my passage

I ask the Red Crow if she'll take my message

And fly upstream against the Crown.

We've got to bring those gallows down.

... ...

The people of Killala know where they will find us

And when the dawn explodes they'll fall right in behind us;

They rode upstream against the Crown;

We've got to bring those gallows down.

... ...

This land, so high, we've held so hard

Yet she holds us like a sparrow;

It's so hard to understand...

... ...

Yours in solidarity,

Bruce Cole, Camden, Maine (just south of Belfast, USA

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An intriguing discovery

06.08.04.

TODAY SOMEONE sent me the Berresford great article on the rockites published in the Irish Democrat and copied by the Irish Republican Bulletin Board. Intrigued, I googled Irish-Democrat and hit my favorite bookstore when visiting London.

Having already categorized as Irish patriots those associated with the bookstore, I was hoping to discover another, perhaps new, group; but it was not to be. It further confirms the "movement's" current weakness.

In today's BBC 'news' DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson was not challenged when he stated; "Whether people like it or not, the unionist community does not trust the IRA because of what has been visited upon them by the IRA over 30 years." (See the truth on this at www.terrorismireland.org)

In the same article Donaldson's record-twisting was seconded by Gerry Adams who called for "removing the IRA." Yours for the truth;

Chris and Mary Fogarty

P.S.: We'd appreciate suggestions as to a date in Autumn to commemorate the Irish Holocaust annually. Please also provide the rationale for the proposed date. You might be interested in www.irishholocaust.org

As you can see we have erected two memorials to date. We hope to erect memorials over all known Holocaust mass graves in Ireland; but we stopped taking pledges when people around mass graves proved too fearful to form committees to front for us.

The main fear inducers seem to be the R.C. bishops many of whom are actively abetting the "potato famine" lie.

We'd be happy to pass on any readers' or contributors' ideas about suitable dates (ed.)

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The dangers of EU involvement

30.07.04.

VARIOUS EMPIRES have exercised control by promoting some form of single currency. And there have been many attempts to "unify" the troublesome peoples of Europe into a single empire. The Romans were perhaps the most successful in imposing its empire from northern England to the Mediterranean.

Many other attempts were made to emulate that success from Charlemagne, Napoleon to Adolf Hitler. In contrast, the struggles and revolutions to overthrow these dictatorships and establish independent states gave us the seeds of representative democracy to curtail the abuses of the rich and powerful.

These states were recognised by having their own currency, army and laws - all the powers necessary to decide their own future. The establishment of a single currency and a central bank has historically been an expression of political unity. The French and American revolutions gave millions the right to be called "citizen" and the right to self-determination was beginning to be recognised as the basis for democracy.

However, today the 'globalists' promote the end of the nation state and now claim national borders are disappearing as a result of even more "liberalisation" of trade and the need for "flexible" labour markets. These supporters of so-called globalisation - seek to subordinate everything to the needs of corporate big business - present themselves as progressive, liberating and even as 'internationalists'.

In truth, globalisation - the new imperialism - despises all forms of democracy and national independence as it blocks corporate domination and the development of monstrously powerful monopolies and cartels. There is nothing "internationalist" about the EU, in fact it is rather the opposite, a vehicle for empire, imperialism, and oppression which extinguishes democracy and national independence.

One is therefore left in wonderment at the following statement made by Provo candidate Pearse Doherty during the last elections to the European parliament: "(Provisional) Sinn Fein believes in the idea of the EU. We believe that the EU can be a force for good in the world" (Connacht Tribune, May 21 2004). Surely this must rank as a betrayal of massive proportions by the Provisional organisation of its claim to stand for a sovereign 32 county republic. Their stance even surpasses the Sticky Workers' Party, which opposes Ireland's membership of the EU.

How right was the late Desmond Greaves, that tireless campaigner for Irish unity, when in the February 1987 edition of the Irish Democrat he anticipated the danger of Provo deputies getting involved in European politics by acceptance of the EU. He stated that "Mr O'Bradaigh's group (RSF) may find themselves in the position of a national insurance policy". His words have proved prophetic.

As Republicans we would accord with James Connolly who wrote that: "The most perfect world is that in which the separate existence of nations is held most sacred", and accept fully his definition of internationalism as being that of "a free federation of free peoples".

We serve neither Westminster, Washington or Brussels but Ireland.

Stephen Coyle, Scotland

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    HMP Maghaberry‏

    Civil Rights Network's concerns regarding HMP Maghaberry‏

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