Earlier today over 50 people protested outside Amnesty International HQ, in Dublin, against the brutal treatment of republican prisoners in Maghaberry prison in Antrim. This has flared up again with, for instance, republican prisoner Martin Kelly having his arm broken and face stomped on by the riot squad only 5 days ago. Here is the background to the struggle of these political prisoners for basic human rights.
When the H-blocks closed as a part of the peace process in 2000, republican prisoners were put into Maghaberry prison because it is the only high security prison in the North of Ireland. But anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans were getting imprisoned in Maghaberry from the late 90's. The prison administration straight away treated all political prisoners as “criminal”. The rights that were gained from the prison struggle in the late 70's early 80's were taken away.
The violence that erupted within the confines of Maghaberry Prison this week was the accumulation of ongoing tensions directed at political prisoners by Prison Authorities who are continuing to implement a punishing regime within the confines of Roe House, which houses around fifty Republican Political Prisoners. That's why we are saying End The Abuses in Maghaberry – Solidarity with Political Prisoners!
Since the end of January the Republican wing was put on lock down, 23 hour lock up, controlled movement and regular brutal forced strip searching despite an agreement brokered in the summer of 2010 to address these issues.
At the height of the violence, white-line pickets and protests occurred in both Belfast and Derry, as well as outside Maghaberry Gaol itself in an effort to highlight the abuse of human rights within Roe House. Reports coming directly from Maghaberry have been reminiscent of the horrors inflicted on Political prisoners in the H Blocks and Crumlin Road Gaol during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Prisoner representatives and their families have stated that several prisoners within Maghaberry’s Roe House have been attacked and beaten with one prisoner requiring hospital treatment after sustaining a broken arm. Legal challenges have also taken place as solicitors for those prisoners assaulted have been denied access to their clients who were initially refused immediate medical treatment as a result.
Do we live in an economy or in a society? Last night Europe's central bankers sent the clear message they expect us to be the well behaved slaves of an economy rather than equals in a society. Less then two weeks after the Greeks had elected an anti-austerity government the ECB in effect told them they intended to block the promises of change that government was elected on.
Last night the ECB stopped the use of Greek sovereign bonds as collateral in borrowing from the ECB. In doing so they were sending a clear message that they expect the new Syriza/ANEL government in Greece to completely abandon the anti-austerity promises they were elected on. If they fail to obey the unelected central bankers then this policy change was intended to indicate a willingness to allow the collapse of the Greek banking system, something that would have disastrous effects in Greece but also across the rest of the EU.
Since their emergence a few years ago, the 1916 societies have emerged across Ireland in most towns and cities solidifying themselves within anti-GFA (Good Friday Agreement) republicanism. It is a broad church catering for every shade of republicanism based on the central pillar of the 1916 Easter Proclamation and seeking an All-Ireland referendum free from all external influence. Their main activities involve talks, commemorations, history tours and aiming for an All-Ireland referendum.
The 1916 Easter Proclamation remains a core pillar of Irish republicanism today and the 1916 Societies are no different. However as we approach its 100 year anniversary next year it is important that we begin to reflect on its relevance today in an every changing global capitalist society in an Ireland that is culturally and ethnically diverse. What do we mean by ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’?
The proclamation is ambiguous by nature and offers nothing in terms of what an independent Ireland would look like and how to get there. Irish republicans are always keen to highlight the loaded terms such as ‘equality’ but what does this mean given all progressive political traditions claim they believe in ‘equality.’
The Sunday Independent hasn't changed one bit since William Martin Murphy used it to vilify Jim Larkin and the locked out workers of 1913. These days, the anti-working class rag, now owned by Denis O'Brien's Independent News and Media group, uses it's influence to attack anti-water charge protesters.
Today's front page couldn't be topped for sensationalism, "Attack on democracy" screams the headline. Yesteryear, Jim Larkin was "Looking for Trouble". Both headlines legitimise state violence against protesters. Both headlines present opponents of the state and big business as a danger to society.
The real attack on democracy however, is the implementation of a water charge that no government has a mandate to introduce; It is the ripping up of streets to install water meters against the wishes of communities; It is the use of state police and private security to threaten, intimidate and assault protesters; and it is the control of the means of mass communication by a small group of super wealthy individuals.
A terrible atrocity has been committed. Democracy is under fire. A thuggish mob below common decency have insulted The President. That is, welcome to the Jobstown media-hysteria Mark II.
They can really pump out the moral outrage when it suits them can't they? The more trivial the offence, the more intense their condemnations.
But it's hard to take this seriously. It is merely another weapon in the arsenal of bankrupt politicians' realpolitik; so clearly sensationalist fodder for the mainstream media. This is a point-scorer for the establishment.
The Irish Water battle came right to the door step of Sean O'Casy's home on Inisfallen Parade this morning. Garda assaults have seen one person injuries and attempted intimidation on balaclava wearing goons hired by Irish Water is continuing.
We note that while the media has had a huge focus on insults shouted at the president no questions have been raised at why 'security' are not only following and videoing residents but are now running around masked up and refusing to identify themselves. It seems extraordinary that the media have failed to notice this while at the same time having such a focus on verbal insults (which have now been apologised for). You'd almost think they had an agenda.
Today, across Europe, the left is excited by Syriza topping the polls in the Greek election. Some on the left have gone so far as to suggest the election itself will mark the end of austerity policies, in the terminology of the Anglo left, an end to the idea that There Is No Alternative (TINA). Another indication that something of significance is happening is that ahead of the election a new wave of capital flight has started from Greece with an estimated 8 billion transferred out of the country over the last few weeks.
There is something fundamentally wrong with this system when 80 people can have the same amount of wealth as what 3.6 billion people have between them. The figures from Oxfam’s latest report show that the rich really are getting richer and that the poor are getting poorer.
There are many factors we can attribute to this trend; globalization, out-sourcing, the breaking of labour power through the breaking of the unions in the Reagan-Thatcher era that labour never recovered from. Ultimately it falls down to the growing strength of capitalism and therefore the growing strength of the other harmful power structures that it has to support it. Included in these is racism, cheap labour from immigrants or as in many cases slave labour, as well as sexism, with gender being the division of labour. Both of these things, racism and sexism (to name only a few) come from policies implemented at the top of society that are targeted at the rest of us.
Very positive news coming out of Kobane where as these maps, from different sources, show ISIS have almost been driven out of the city.
Overnight the YPG/J announced they had liberated Suk Al-Hal & the Industrial Zone on the eastern and north-eastern edges of the city. Earlier in the week. There are also rumours of clashes in Helince village south east of the city. If ISIS lose that local commentators say their remaining forces in Kobane will be entirely cut off from supply.
When ISIS reached Kobane about 130 days ago, equipped with US armour captured at Mosul, they appeared unstoppable. The Kurdish defenders were pushed into a small defensive zone in the north west of the city but Kobane became ISIS's Stalingrad. Unable to admit defeat they kept pouring men & equipment into the city, at one stage managing to even mount a suicide VIBED attack at the Turkish border. Now not only have they almost been driven out of Kobane but they are being driven back by Kurdish forces elsewhere.