One of the final acts of the last Fianna Fail government was to award licences to a number of companies to explore for commercial gas in the Northwest Carboniferous Basin (more commonly known as the Lough Allen basin). The Lough Allen Basin is a huge area that covers parts of counties Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo and Tyrone. It is an area of 8000 square kilometres in total.
News that the Red Cross, an international humanitarian organisation, have been directly assisting local community workers in the Rosemount area of Derryhas again heightened concerns of a potential “drugs epidemic” developing in the city.
The story first broke over the last few weeks prior to a BBC Spotlight programme investigating the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs or RAAD. It revealed that the Red Cross has been working with the Rosemount Resource Centre over the past eight months, believed to be the first time ever the humanitarian group has worked with another organisation in the north.
The period of Irish history from the 1880's to the 1920's defined and divided politics including socialist politics, on the island for the rest of the century. The most militant workers struggles occurred in the second half of that period, north and south, concentrated in the last five years. This was also the period of the 1916 insurrection in Dublin, the 1918-21 War of Independence, the treaty and partition of Ireland in 1921 and then in the south the bloody Civil War ending in 1923.
The year 1919 saw the greatest demonstration of the potential of Irish workers, north and south to take over the running of society but the events of the following years cemented the division that would do much to end workers militancy. In terms of working class struggle the periods of militancy of northern and southern workers coincide. Yet the working class was divided and these struggles remained almost completely isolated from each other. (Image: UVF training in 1914)
It is unfortunate, if perhaps somewhat inevitable, that the now annual battles around the 'marching season' fall along religious lines. The Orange parades are being used to test the supposed neutrality of the northern regime and the RUC in particular. The losing side in this dangerous game however is likely to be the working class, Protestant and Catholic, as the confrontations and the sectarian attacks that occur around the Orange marches drive people further into 'their own' communities.
To those involved in left-wing or anti-establishment activism the word "solidarity" has a different meaning to those not involved in anti-capitalist or feminist struggle.
Among leftists it's not only an emotion, it's something that you feel in your gut. It's something that spurs you into action and that drives you forward even when the end destination is nowhere near in sight.
Pro-choice campaigners in the north picketed two of the largest police stations to challenge the authorities to arrest them for breaking the law by procuring abortion pills. This was in “an act of solidarity” with woman who is being prosecuted for obtaining abortion medication for her pregnant underage daughter.
The removal of Confederate and Nazi Flags at loyalist bonfire site in Carrickfergus by local community workers is a positive step forward but this should not detract from a political settlement that rests on accommodating and institutionalizing the most reactionary elements in Northern Ireland, rather than seeking to uproot and transcend sectarian division in this mini colonial statelet.
As the clock ticks towards the annual Orange Order 12th of July marches, the sectarian marking of territory is underway as working class communities across the North are besieged with Loyalist emblems and paramilitary flags, indirectly facilitated by the PSNI who have turned a blind eye to this showcase of sectarian triumphalism and intimidation towards anyone who is perceived as the ‘other’ from Catholics to ethnic minorities.
A Judicial Review into the North's abortion law has begun today and is expected to last three days. The final decision of the case taken by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is not expected until the Autumn. Women's right to bodily autonomy must be vindicated without delay.
Currently in the North you can have an abortion if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, including risk of suicide, and if you are under 9 weeks gestation.
Tomorrow on RTE at 9.30pm there will be a showing of a new documentary that will focus on British government collusion in the north. The documentary makers conducted interviews with many high profile members of British policing in the north from over the last three decades.
One such witness, a high ranking RUC officer, brought up the issue of paramilitary collusion personally with Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister at the time, but the RUC officers concerns were ignored.
The head of special branch at the time, Raymond White said he got message from the British Government on the use of agents in the dirty war, “carry on just don’t get caught”. There are also claims from a member of the loyalist gang that was responsible for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings that the intention of the bombings was to foment civil war in Ireland.
The Court of Appeal has reserved judgement on a legal challenge to the exclusion of women from N. Ireland from NHS abortion services.
Last May Mr Justice King ruled in the High Court that the residence-based exclusion was lawful, despite the fact that people living in the North pay the same amount of taxes as everyone else in the UK and should therefore be entitled to the same services. The case was brought forward by a woman known as A in order to protect her identity and her mother.
Three years ago, A, like many other women from the island of Ireland, had to raise the nearly £900 to avail of an abortion in England.