Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Published Date: 29 September 2009
By Staff reporter
More than 300 people attended the unveiling of a new monument to commemorate dead IRA volunteers from the Bogside and Brandywell area on Sunday afternoon.
The monument was unveiled in the republican remembrance garden on Lecky Road by Charlie McSheffrey and Conal McCool, relatives of two of the IRA men from the area who died during the Troubles.
The event was organised by the Derry Republican Graces
Association and was attended by Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness as well as Foyle MLAs Martina Anderson and Raymond McCartney.
The commemoration was chaired by Caoimhin McGettigan and the main speaker was leading Derry Republican, William McGuinness, a brother of the Deputy First Minister.
Mr McGuinness said republicans involved in work to improve local communities should not be deterred by criticisms from dissident republicans. “Republicans are working hard in all areas of society to bring about justice and peace and to reach the ultimate aim of a 32 County Socialist Republic and to make these fitting communities for future generations. We need to participate in this vital work
“We are under no illusions that there are those who are trying daily to wreck that good work. They must not succeed,” he said.
Mr McGuinness also praised the IRA volunteers from the area who are commemorated on the new monument.
“They where ordinary people who lived in extraordinary times. People who sprang to the forefront of their communities in the Bogside, Brandywell and Bishop Street areas They were decent people and we grieve for them today as when they fell and we share the sense of loss with their families and friends and those who seek to vilify or criminalise them will never succeed,” he said.
During the ceremony, young people from the area stood on a hill overlooking the monument carrying pictures of the 16 IRA volunteers who died during the Troubles. It ended with a lament sung by Sara Griffin.
Please pay particular attention to the italicized portion of Mr. William McGuinness’s statement above.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
by Jack Meehan 9/30/09
Socialism has traditionally been part of the Irish Republican movement since the early 20th century, when James Connolly, an Irish Marxist theorist, took part in the Easter Rising of 1916. Today, most Irish nationalist and Republican organizations located in Northern Ireland advocate some form of socialism, both Marxist and non-Marxist. The Social Democratic and Labour Party, which was at one time the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland, promotes social democracy, while militant Republican parties such as Sinn Féin, Republican Sinn Féin, and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement all promote their own varieties of democratic socialism intended to re-distribute wealth on an all-island basis once a united Ireland has been achieved. The Irish Republican Socialist Movement, encompassing the Irish Republican Socialist Party and Irish National Liberation Army, has an ideology which combines Marxist-Leninism with traditional militant Republicanism and is said to be the most direct fulfillment of Connolly's legacy.
Sinn Fein claims to seek a new social and economic order which will treat all Irish people equally and promote equality and social justice. They seek to build an all- Ireland economy where everyone can have a dignified, productive, and well paid job and a better quality of life. They want to “redistribute resources in a positive way”, to invest in those parts of society suffering economic marginalization and social exclusion, and to redress all forms of inequality. On paper, this sounds like classic Utopian theory. Unfortunately, in practice Utopia has always proven itself to be a very elusive, if not totally unattainable, goal.
I have been vilified at times for offering criticism to some of the actions and policies practiced by Sinn Fein. I will admit that there are some aspects of their very radical socialist agenda that I, as a Catholic and an American, cannot and will not agree with or accept and for that I make no apologies. However, I want to be absolutely clear when I say that I am in total agreement with Sinn Fein and anybody else whose goal is “free and united 32 county Ireland whose destiny is determined only by her own people”.
One very significant area of disagreement involves the form of government in a united Ireland. There should be absolutely no misunderstanding on the part of Sinn Fein supporters here in the United States that they envision and, indeed, are committed to establishing a 32 county socialist republic. This fact is stated very clearly on their official webpage and further attested to by their membership of the United European Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) which has been described as “a socialist and communist grouping of parties within the European Union”. Members of the Sinn Fein leadership have often gone on record with strong statements of support and admiration for dictators such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and their socialist/communist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela.
Even Sinn Fein’s most vocal detractors cannot deny their steadfast, unwavering, pursuit of a united Ireland, but it is also worthy to note that, in the negotiations resulting in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein agreed to the removal of Articles II and III from the Irish Constitution. This was a very strange position, indeed, for Irish Republicans to take in consideration of the fact that it was these two articles that claimed the “sovereign right of the Irish people to sole ownership of the entire island of Ireland”.
An interesting book entitled, “Sinn Fein and the Politics of Left Republicanism” by Eoin O’Broin was released recently in Dublin amid much fanfare. The author has been a policy analyst and Sinn Fein activist for several years. In his book, O’Broin explores the ideological and organizational origins of the party, and charts its history and recent political development. He also devotes considerable time to assessing its possibilities for the future. He makes the argument that Sinn Fein is part of a distinct left republican tradition in Irish society whose future lies in the “globally resurgent radical democratic left”. One need not be a Rhodes scholar to understand what that statement implies.
While I, as a very proud citizen of both the United States of America and Ireland, could never accept a socialist form of government in the united Ireland of our dreams, it is not my intention to impose my personal opinions on anybody else. But for the record, I do not believe that any political party in Ireland holds a monopoly on Irish Republicanism and, therefore, I do not believe it is necessary to be aligned to any specific political party to be an Irish Republican.
On the other hand, I feel very strongly that all Americans who treasure their Irish heritage and who yearn for “that certain day when Ireland is A Nation Once Again” should be aware that there are many different schools of thought on how a unified Ireland should be structured. For example, in a recent interview, one very well known Irish Republican icon, a veteran of the armed conflict and former political prisoner, stated that before he dies he would like to visit Viet Nam “to pay homage to a courageous and victorious people”.
The Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC is engraved with the names of 58,000 courageous American men and women who never came home from Viet Nam and who are far more deserving of our homage.
THE HUNGER STRIKE
By Hugh Logue of the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace
The image of those eight hunger strikers for me has never dimmed. Clothed predominantly in the white attire of hospital, the weakest sitting at a table, water jugs and mugs in hand, the strongest seated on higher tables, or standing behind.
That scene has stayed with me over the last 28 years and will remain imprinted in my brain as long as I live. They had been brought together as a group from their hospital beds to meet us in the canteen of Long Kesh.
Bright articulate young men, some reserved and quiet spoken, others defiant and inquisitive, eyes accentuated, all in various stages of physical decline, eager to live, ready to die. Like their image, respect for them has never dimmed.
I met them as part of the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace (ICJP) as we sought to explore the possibility of squaring their five demands by stretching the British prison regime to a more enlightened, humane, innovative and educationally positive system. The Irish government gave us their full support.
After much coming and going, a best offer was finalised involving new rights on clothes, work, recreation/education, remission and association.
The hunger strikers were positive but cautious, wanting the wider view of their comrades. The prisoners on July 4 issued a statement indicating that a settlement along such lines should be considered.
We were meeting with the relatives and some H-block committee members when the prisoners’ statement reached us. With good reason, the meeting finished with the view that the choreography of concluding the Hunger Strike without further loss of life was being set in place.
Next day we met again with the relatives and on this occasion Sinn Fein representatives were present. The relatives made clear their wish to go for the ICJP-brokered offer.
A senior IRA representative left the meeting early, without saying where he was going, and went in to see the hunger strikers.
When we later visited the hunger strikers that night, their mood had hardened but a number of them clearly indicated that what was on offer was acceptable.
Eventually all agreed that if the British government sent a delegate into the prison and read out the offer it would be accepted.
This condition, we were told, had been demanded as a minimum by the IRA representative who had visited them. Double dealing on the earlier botched hunger strike was given as the reason for this demand.
We went back to the British and it was agreed that an envoy would visit the hunger strikers to read out the offer. As we all know, the British prevaricated and Joe Mc Donnell tragically died before any visit was made, triggering a whole new scenario.
The ICJP next day railed against the British government for its unpardonable complacency and indicted its utterly callous conduct. That indictment remains.
Four years ago – when I reviewed Blanketmen [by Richard O’Rawe] – I asked that a sane debate take place on its principal assertions, instead of the vilification of its author.
I also suggested that were the Mountain Climber, the British and the republican leadership to spell out what they knew, it would be possible to reach informed conclusions.
The British, via the Freedom of Information Act, have now put new material into the public domain. Mountain Climber has now stated that he passed the British offer to his IRA interlocutor. In what form did the offer come?
Was British secretary of state [Humphrey] Atkins able to sign off if he got an affirmative reply from the IRA? It now appears he was.
Did those in the republican leadership understand that? Parallel Republican writing that Margaret Thatcher wished a settlement suggests they did.
This exchange was at least a day before the hunger strikers were told to demand, via the ICJP, verification from the British authorities.
If the IRA had the British offer , why were the hunger strikers being put through a ritual? The hunger strikers, on the instruction of the IRA, were demanding that the ICJP deliver the British to deliver an offer statement. And the British, whilst agreeing to deliver the statement, apparently were waiting on the okay from the IRA before delivering the statement to the hunger strikers that they had already delivered to the IRA.
And all the while, a hunger striker was slipping in and out of consciousness, edging closer to death. Too grotesque to contemplate. But it happened. Why? Truly, in the name, honour and dignity of the hunger strikers, explanation and clarification is needed.
This is not said for any reason other than that I genuinely do not know for sure, to this day, where the motivation of others lay.
I do know that we in the ICJP had an honourable resolution that would have saved the lives of six hunger strikers and that it was acceptable to the hunger strikers.
It appears from the British statement, given to the IRA via the Mountain Climber, that the British were ready to stand over all that had been agreed with the ICJP.
But were they only ready to go public on it if they got thumbs up from the Republican leadership?
Was there procrastination on the IRA side where a clear affirmative response would have sealed the deal and saved those lives? Was there a rejection?
Did the IRA genuinely overplay their hand believing that once the British were into dialogue more could be extracted?
The high regard that many serious political leaders now have for the republican leadership relates to their focus on ‘the long game’. Did ‘the long game’ focus come into play on this occasion?
Republican leadership has been assiduous in having its tale of ‘the struggle’ committed to history, but the Hunger Strike has been given a wide berth.
Some years ago, as the 20th anniversary of the Hunger Strike approached, I was told by a senior republican that the reason for staying away from the Hunger Strike was ‘because of the range of views, feelings and passions it could arouse within the movement – not all of them positive.’
He was right about that, but whatever those views feelings and passions, it is time for truth to shine.
THE OTHER PLAYERS
IN compiling this special edition extensive efforts were made to contact most of the main players from the hunger strike era.
Attempts were made to get the views and recollections of British government and Northern Ireland Office officials from that period.
However due to ill-health, the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Secretary of State Jim Prior, who took over the role towards the end of the Hunger Strike, were not available.
Humphrey Atkins, who was secretary of state from 1979 to September 1981, and Prisons Minster Michael Allison, have both since died.
Others including Lord Gowrie who followed Mr Allison, were not available for interview, while former senior prison officials in the Maze have since died or were unavailable for comment.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams was asked for his views on the hunger strike but was not available.
Danny Morrison, Sinn Fein publicity director during the hunger strikes, declined to take part as did Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane, IRA ‘Officer Commanding’ in the jail at the time of the strike.
BLACKBALL****A letter in the Irish News on April 7, 2009, by Richard O’Rawe, discussing the 1981 hunger strike, claimed that documents newly released under the FoI Act stated that ‘republican negotiators, Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison, changed their minds when the British warned that they were going to pull the plug on the process’. We have been asked by Mr Morrison to make clear that he was not named in the documents.
THE HUNGER STRIKE Was there a deal?
By Richard O’Rawe
Former IRA prisoner Richard O’Rawe caused huge controversy in republican circles when in his 2005 book Blanketmen he claimed that the British government had been ready to offer a deal which could have ended the hunger Strike after four deaths…
As one of the 300 Spartans who spent years on the blanket protest and as the prisoners’ PRO during the 1981 Hunger Strike, I have drawn great inspiration and strength from my 10 heroic comrades who died on hunger strike.
Some years ago I published a book entitled Blanketmen in which I recounted my first-hand experiences of that time.
It was instantly slated as ‘scurrilous’ and ‘slanderous’ by some republicans, who, instead of engaging in a respectable debate about the issues I had raised, demonised and vilified me. One leading republican said that I “should hang my head in shame” and that my book should have been called, ‘On another man’s hunger strike.’ It is not I who should hang my head in shame. I have told no lies.
In my book, I said that on July 5 1981 Danny Morrison came to the prison and made our OC, [Brendan] Bik McFarlane aware that someone called the ‘Mountain Climber’, a contact with the British government, had delivered an offer to the IRA leadership.
McFarlane denied this saying: “No offer existed.” I said that McFarlane and I were enthusiastic about the British offer, and had a conversation out our windows, during which we accepted it. McFarlane denied this saying: “That conversation did not take place.”
I offered that a communication came into the prison from Gerry Adams on July 6 1981 which said that the Mountain Climber offer did not validate the deaths of our four comrades and that more was needed.
McFarlane denied that this occurred. Matters stayed like that for about four years. Then in May 2009, at a Hunger Strike conference in Derry City, things changed dramatically.
The journalist Liam Clarke had obtained, under the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of the July 5 Mountain Climber offer.
For the first time in 28 years, I found out that the offer was, in fact, a statement from the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, which was to be released in the event of the Hunger Strike ending. Brendan Duddy (the Mountain Climber), who had been a panellist at the Derry City conference, confirmed that he had passed this statement on to the IRA leadership.
The importance of this cannot be overemphasised because here was the document which determined the fate of the last six hunger strikers. No evidence exists to say that the hunger strikers ever set eyes on this document. Certainly, it was never smuggled in to Bik McFarlane or me.
Who took the decision to withhold this decisive document from the prison leadership? Did they also keep it from the hunger strikers, and if so, why? Brendan Duddy also confirmed that the message the IRA sent back to the British was that “more had to be added”.
Former blanketman Gerard ‘Cleaky’ Clarke then affirmed that he had heard the crucial conversation between Bik McFarlane and me. These revelations prompted the collapse of Bik McFarlane’s position.
In a newspaper interview on June 4 2009 he admitted the British had made the approach I had written about but claimed that they had failed to “expand the offer”. He also said: “And I said to Richard this is amazing, this is a huge opportunity and I feel there’s a potential here [in the Mountain Climber process] to end this.”
So, in the space of a couple of sentences, Bik confirmed that what I had always said was true – there had been an offer after all, he and I had liked the look of it and we had a very positive conversation about it.
I had been looking forward to a healthy public debate with Gerry Adams, Danny Morrison and Bik McFarlane at the Derry conference in June but unfortunately they declined the offer to attend. Instead they chose to convene a closed meeting with some families in Gulladuff, south Derry in July and no-one with an alternate account to theirs was invited. A motion that Willie Gallagher of the IRSP and I stop any further probing into the Hunger Strike failed to get unanimous support.
Not to be outdone, however, the next day Sinn Fein members visited the families throughout the north and asked them to sign a pre-prepared statement which incorporated the failed motion from the night before. Some families did sign the statement and those who did not released their own statement publicly asking Gerry Adams, Danny Morrison, Bik McFarlane and myself to support an independent inquiry into the events of 1981. Having nothing to hide, I responded positively. The others have not.
Despite the viciousness of the attacks on me, and despite the intensity of the ongoing debate, nothing in my approach is intended to, or could ever detract from the heroic sacrifice of the Hunger Strike martyrs.
Regardless of what people may choose to say or think, I have no political agenda.
My intention has always been to seek the truth and nothing less – something which the hunger strikers and their legacy deserve as a matter of respect.
That, I suggest, is the sacred duty of all of us who bore witness to this momentous event in Irish history.
The Irish government had a mole inside Northern Ireland's Maze Prison during the IRA hunger strike of 1981, former Irish Prime Minister Dr Garret FitzGerald revealed on Monday.
Monday, 28 September 2009
Dr FitzGerald said he was convinced a deal between the prisoners on hunger strike and the British Government could have been struck to prevent the last six of 10 deaths, but that it was vetoed by the IRA leadership.
The 83-year-old former Taoiseach revealed the behind-the-scenes activity during a brief window of opportunity which could have saved the lives in an interview with the Irish News for a series the Belfast newspaper is publishing about the hunger strike.
There has been deep division within republicanism about the hunger strike since the publication of a book, Blanketmen, by former IRA prisoner Richard O'Rawe, in which he suggested the Sinn Fein leadership blocked a deal for political purposes.
Sinn Fein always denied the claim, but Dr FitzGerald said: "O'Rawe's account seems to me to be, within his framework of knowledge, honest and accurate."
McGuinness disputes deal
Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who has admitted having being in the IRA, also revealed for the first time that he was one of the conduits for the offer from the British Government, but he disputes, said the newspaper, that there was a deal on the table acceptable to the prisoners.
He accused Sinn Fein's opponents of trying to portray the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as someone anxious to solve the hunger strike when she was what he called "a ruthless hypocritical enemy".
Dr FitzGerald, who started the first of his two terms as Irish Prime Minister during the hunger strike, said the IRA prisoners in the Maze were ready to accept a deal if they had been allowed to by Sinn Fein.
"They were keen to accept that. We knew that. We had our sources within the prison."
He declined to elaborate and say whether the mole was a member of the prison staff or a prisoner.
When Dr FitzGerald came to power the Catholic Church's Irish Justice and Peace Commission (IJPC) was working towards a possible resolution of the standoff between
republican prisoners in the Maze and the British government over the concession of 'prisoner of war' type status.
Dr FitzGerald was briefed on the efforts by the IJPC and told the newspaper he believed at the time they would lead to a solution before the next death.
At his request the IJPC was granted a meeting with Northern Ireland Office minister Michael
Allison who gave the impression he wanted to be conciliatory.
Mr Allison cleared the way for the IJPC to visit the prisoners and afterwards the inmates issued a statement which was also more conciliatory than the messages that had been issued from outside the prison by Sinn Fein.
At around the same time Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was contacted by MI6 and a deal parallel to that of the IJPC worked out, said Dr FitzGerald.
"He was delighted the British were running to him and he did get an additional offer to the IJPC offer. It is my recollection that he got an offer (prisoner access) to the Open University which was not in the IJPC offer," said the former Taoiseach.
Eventually the whole deal collapsed and another six men died before an end was brought to the hunger strike.
Dr FitzGerald told the newspaper that if it had been left to the IJPC a resolution could have been reached.
He said: "If the British had not intervened and brought the IRA back in again a deal could have been done."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Stormont is paralyzed, with both sides now further apart than ever
Storemont is paralyzed, with both sides now further apart than ever.
Up here in
These are worrying times for democracy and politics. Confidence is ebbing away that the Northern Ireland Executive and the Assembly are worth the expensive candle lit so strongly two years ago and now flickering weakly in the wind.
We can talk up the peace process for all we wish. The reality is starkly evident. Politics is not working at Stormont and something has to give.
I was conscious of that last week when I was a contributor to the BBC's Stephen Nolan show, broadcast from Stormont. This should have been an opportunity to showcase the positive side of the Executive and the Assembly.
Sadly, the programme provided nothing other than evidence of the continued failings and mind-sets of the principal players. They spent their time squabbling and insulting one another at the microphone. They were incapable of digging themselves out of the deep holes in which so many of them remain buried.
It takes an interviewer like Nolan to merely scratch the surface of their minds to cause an argument. I despaired as I listened because it simply reinforced my worst fears for the future of devolution. The Executive at Stormont is a coalition of incompatibility.
It is in a state of paralysis. Worse still, although people seem to have forgotten, that is precisely |what many voters in
Why did they vote for the |Democratic Unionists in such numbers? Why did so many nationalists forsake the SDLP for Sinn Fein? Answer: Because they wanted to ensure that their side of the sectarian equation dug in its heels and did not give way readily to the other.
Should we be surprised that agreement cannot be reached? Surprised that insults continue to be hurled? Surprised that the First and Deputy First Minister cannot even enter and leave a meeting with the Prime Minister in
No, we shouldn't in the least because
If you were to listen to the phone-in comments on such programmes as Nolan's, the constant gripe is that the Stormont Executive should get its act together. Everyone seems frustrated with the lack of agreement.
People say the Executive should put up or shut up.
Who are these voices? Regrettably many of them belong to that growing band of disaffected people who don't or won't darken the door of a polling station. They may express their frustration and annoyance but they have only themselves to blame for the paralysed state of Stormont.
Power sharing in
The prime motivation of the DUP and Sinn Fein is to defend, protect and promote the respective cultures of unionism and nationalism. This is not a recipe for a meeting of minds but a division of minds. The credit crunch embraces everyone. It discriminates against no one section of society. We are all in this together yet our political representatives are locked in their constitutional and cultural cell-blocks.
Can you imagine a coalition government made up of Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill? When I think of the DUP and Sinn Fein dealing with our economy, the level of incompatibility between them is far worse.
So, what am I saying — that Stormont cannot work and therefore we should return to direct rule? Possibly but surely none of us want such a retreat?
However, we cannot escape the fact that Stormont is failing abysmally in its current form |because the main parties are |neutering one another whenever they wish. We have to find a better way of governing.
The parties themselves have to get off their hobby horses and forget their hang-ups. The First Minister Peter Robinson's idea of a weighted majority is worth considering, if only because the alternative is a stalemate which is going nowhere. He is also right in proposing a cut-back in Executive ministers and departments.
The continued deadlock on so many issues is merely serving to discredit the whole political process. Sooner or later, a Mark III Stormont partnership is required, not to give any one section of the community its head over |the other, but simply to get |something done.
These issues will impact enormously on
As it is currently constituted, Stormont is not up to this challenge. It is not working and it will not work unless and until there is major reform of its structures. We are simply deluding ourselves if we think otherwise.
By Kevin Myers
Thursday July 30 2009
Some reports declared that uniformed US soldiers, staying overnight in the
Good. Those young people belong to the bravest generation of soldiers the United States has ever produced. They are not the conscript-soldiers of
They are not just fighting for the
However, these men and woman in uniform have made their choice. They know what is going on. If
Taliban now controls much of
Once it was at the gates of Vienna and Budapest. Now those gates stand just this side of the Khyber Pass. Such is the profound sense of cultural isolationism which our 70 years of bogus neutralism has engendered, that I'm not sure how many people in Ireland understand the scale of the
The British army has been scandalously deprived of necessary equipment for a task which began an entire First World War ago. Use that as an example. It began in 1914; the first tank was invented in 1915; and in August 1918, 650 tanks launched a mass assault on German positions at Amiens.
That was Britain then. Consider
Most regular readers will know that I am Irish, Brit-born, and, generally speaking, pro-Brit. So without prejudice, I can say that the ineptitude of recent British military operations is in that same epic military tradition which gave the world Gallipoli 1915, Kut 1916, Narvik 1940, Dunkirk 1940, Tobruk 1942, Singapore 1942, Kos/Leros 1943, and Arnhem 1944. You could almost have added Basra,
The USMC has now taken over in
Its historic self-belief could be lethally enhanced if the West is defeated in
Monday, September 21, 2009
Irish Neutrality - To be or not to be?
Article 28.3 of the Constitution of Ireland states that “War shall not be declared and the state shall not participate in any war save with the assent of Dail Eireann.” Nowhere are the terms “neutrality”, “military neutrality” or “non-aligned” to be seen in the Irish constitution. The popular conception that
“There is no neutrality and we are not neutral”
– This statement was not made by a zealous member of Young Fine Gael campaigning for our immediate induction into the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. No, the speaker in question was none other than former Fianna Fáil Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, who said these words back in 1960. Two years later the very same Taoiseach stated in Dail Eireann that:
“We think the existence of NATO is necessary for the preservation of peace and for the defence of the countries of
In an interview with the New York Times, the leader of Fianna Fail then declared:
“We recognise that a military commitment will be an inevitable consequence of our joining the Common Market and ultimately we would be prepared to yield even to the technical label of neutrality. We are prepared to go into this integrated
And yet, bold statements to American newspapers were not followed up with concrete policies back home to confirm our military commitment to an integrated
“We have no traditional policy of neutrality in this country unlike countries such as
He emphasised that
This view had been supported by Eamonn de Valera back in 1948 when he had said; “If a war occurs we may take one side, or we may take the other or we may be neutral”. This clearly is not compatible with permanent neutrality.
Voting in 2010
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.
The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.
CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green.'
Acorn stages a demonstration in front of the ant 's house where the news stations film the group singing, 'We shall overcome.' Rev. Jeremiah Wright then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.
Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.
Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.
The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar.
The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ants food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it.
The ant has disappeared in the snow.
The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote in 2010.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The average age of the military man is 19 years.
He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's, but he has never collected unemployment either.
He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer.
He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.
He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march.
He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.
He is self-sufficient.
He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.
He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never forgets to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts..
If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food.. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.
He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands..
He can save yourlife - or take it, because that is his job.
He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all.
He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.
He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.
He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away ' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking.
In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.
Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy.
He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years!
He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.
Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.
And now we even have women over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so.
As you go to bed tonight,remember this shot.
A short lull, a little shade and a picture of loved ones in their helmets.
Prayer wheel for our military.
Lord,hold our troops in your loving hands.
Protect them as they protect us.
Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen.'
When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our ground troops in Afghanistan , sailors on ships, and airmen in the air, and for those in Iraq,Afghanistan and all foreign countries.
There is nothing attached..
This can be very powerful...
Of all the gifts you could give a US Soldier, Sailor,Coastguardsman,Marine,or Airman,prayer is the very best one..
He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped his people and continue to help them -- Hebrews 6:10
Strange bedfellows of the anti-Lisbon campaign
•It must be embarrassing for Sinn Féin to be sharing the No platform with such great lovers of Ireland as UKIP and hard line Tories, writes PATSY McGARRY AND SO they are off, tails up and promising Armageddon once again, that motley crew of many colours in the Vote No to Lisbon campaign.
There was Mary Lou (McDonald of Sinn Féin) and Joe (Higgins of the Socialist Party) and Bríd (Smith of the People Before Profit Alliance) and Jimmy (Kelly of the Unite trade union). All are members of the Campaign Against the EU Constitution (CAEUC) which launched the No to Lisbon campaign, part II, last Tuesday. Surely some mistake. Is it not Wednesday’s child which is “full woe”?
Mary Lou, Joe, Bríd and Jimmy were joined at the launch by their friends in affiliated groups such as the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, the Irish Republican Socialist Party,Irish Friends of Palestine Against Lisbon and socialist republican group Éirigí. Waiting in the wings to lend their support too we have the National Platform, the People’s Movement, Voteno.ie and Cóir.
Ah yes, Cóir and Éirígí. Isn’t it a sad day for the Irish language that whenever we now see any new political organisation with an Irish name those same two words, “isolationist and backward”, spontaneously come to mind? Cóir, for instance, give the impression that neither the Pope, the Vatican nor the Irish (Roman) bishops are Catholic at all when it comes to the EU. Éirígí, for its part, when not hijacking protests by the Shell to Sea campaign or by Thomas Cook workers, would be identified by many as among supporters of “traitors to the Island of Ireland”. That was how Martin McGuinness described the murderers of soldiers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar and PSNI constable Stephen Carroll in Northern Ireland earlier this year.
But then, all Sinn Féin’s giants appear to be in Northern Ireland. Looking into her heart last Tuesday Mary Lou saw how, in the immediate future, people would even describe her and her CAEUC colleagues as “isolationist and backward”. As if! But is this not the same Sinn Féin which has opposed every single vote on the EU in the Republic since and including our decision to join the then EEC back in 1973? Indeed it is.
Is this not the same Mary Lou who set something of a record for an Irish MEP when it came to her non-attendance at sessions of the last European Parliament (even if, as she has explained, she was on maternity leave)? To be sure, it is.
Well, well. Of course, it is a little embarrassing that Sinn Féin should find itself sharing this consistently anti-EU stance with members of Éirígí and those other great lovers of Ireland and all things Irish, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and hard-line UK Tories. But hey, politics makes for strange bedfellows.
Last Tuesday, Mary Lou continued: “They will say by voting No we are going to cause an even
greater recession and depression . . . This is dishonest and cynical.” Of course it is. We all know, if we are honest and not cynical, that by voting No to Lisbon a second time in successive years it can only benefit this economy of ours. It is the sensible thing to do because, as we know too, our EU colleagues will just love us for it all over again.
Ask them. They’ll soon tell you.
In fact, what Mary Lou should now do is take a flight (economy class) to Iceland and advise our friends there of this. She should tell them that their recent rushed application to join the EU is a major mistake and that it can only damage their economy further, if that is possible. It would be the friendly thing for her to do, don’t you think?
She also said Lisbon threatened our military neutrality. Now we all know that when it comes to matters military Sinn Féin has an enviable record on being actively neutral. It is true for instance that during the Troubles the IRA killed more Catholics than did the UDA. Who could ask for further proof of neutrality on the part of any organisation than that it should kill more of its own?
Then it was Joe Higgins’s turn on Tuesday. He described the Lisbon Treaty as a “profoundly undemocratic” document. Okay, so it has already been approved by 85 per cent of directly elected representatives across the EU, but what do they know about democracy?
They should talk to Joe. He can tell them about democracy. He has been to Cuba.
Sometimes it seems as if Joe and his friends on the outer edges of the left would prefer if Ireland became the Cuba or North Korea of Europe. Yes, we should model ourselves on two of the largest open-air prisons for ordinary people in the world. Then maybe we have been ahead of those countries. Was it not George Bernard Shaw who once described this island as “the largest open-air lunatic asylum in the world”?
We proved that in last year’s Lisbon vote. The lunacy continues, whether it is with ideologues of the left or right, as regards Ireland and the EU and even in the context of a 20th century which proved that in matters of politics and economics the world would have been a far better place had Karl Marx and Milton Friedman spent more time in the pub than the library.
Last Tuesday the CAEUC group also said the electorate was being “threatened, cajoled and lied to” in relation to Lisbon. But who “threatened, cajoled and lied” to the electorate last year? Who said Lisbon would bring euthanasia, abortion, and military conscription to little old Ireland? It was the No campaign. Such honesty! Such refreshing lack of cynicism!
Patsy McGarry is an Irish Times journalist; John Waters is on leave.
This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times
The Lisbon Treaty was negotiated by the EU Member States over a six year period. It was signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 by the Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States. The Treaty consists of amendments to the two main EU Treaties, the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Irish Government played a leading role in the negotiations during the Irish Presidency of the European Union in 2004.
What are main features of the Lisbon Treaty?
The Lisbon Treaty:
•sets out the Union’s values – including respect for human dignity, freedom,democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights including the rights of minorities;
•defines the EU’s competences more clearly than in previous Treaties and makes it clear that competences not explicitly conferred on the Union remain with the Member States;
•gives legal effect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and recognises the rights,freedoms and principles set out in the Charter;
•will allow the EU to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights;
•allows for a citizens’ initiative under which 1 million citizens from a number of Member States can petition the European Commission on issues falling within the EU’s competence;
•expands the right of individuals to bring proceedings before the European Court of Justice in relation to acts of the Union;
•gives a new role in EU affairs to national parliaments including the Oireachtas.
•increases the powers of the European Parliament, which under Lisbon will have 751 members including 12 from Ireland. Under Lisbon, the European Parliament will legislate jointly on most EU issues with the Council of Ministers, where the Irish Government is represented alongside the governments of the other 26 EU Member States;
•provides for the appointment of a President of the European Council who will hold office for a maximum period of 5 years and will chair four meetings of EU leaders each year;
•allows for more decisions to be taken by the Council of Ministers on a new double majority basis, i.e. by at least 15 EU countries representing at least 65% of the Union’s population;
•makes changes in the conduct of the Union’s external relations including by the appointment of a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy;
•gives citizens the right to deal with the EU institutions in any EU language including Irish;
•makes a number of changes to the EU Treaties in respect of border checks, asylum and immigration, judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters and police cooperation. Ireland is not bound by measures adopted in these areas, but can opt to be involved on a case-by-case basis;
•gives the European Union some new competences in such areas as energy, humanitarian aid,tourism, sport, administrative cooperation and the participation by young people in the democratic life of Europe. Climate change is also a new political objective,given expression in the Treaty on foot of a proposal by Ireland."
•Under an arrangement known as ‘enhanced cooperation’, the Treaty lays down the procedures for allowing a group of Member States to cooperate more deeply in certain areas of EU policy. This arrangement does not apply in the field of common foreign and security policy.
What has happened since the June 2008 referendum?
On 12 June 2008, the people of Ireland voted not to ratify the Lisbon Treaty by 53.4% to 46.6%. The turnout was 53%.
Since the referendum, the Irish Government has been working intensively to find a way forward that respects the decision of the Irish people as expressed in that referendum, while respecting the desire of other Member States to see the Lisbon Treaty enter into force.
Following the referendum, the Government commissioned in-depth research in order to identify the reasons behind the outcome. The research showed that most people want Ireland to remain fully and actively involved in the EU, with 70% believing that membership is a good thing and only 8% disagreeing. The research also illustrated that the main reason cited for voting No was a lack of information and knowledge (42%). Of those who decided to abstain from voting, 46% did so for this reason.
A number of other issues also emerged from the research as being significant concerns for Irish voters. These included: the composition of the European Commission; taxation; ethical issues, including abortion; security and defence issues, including conscription; and workers’ rights.
The Government also worked to establish an all-party Oireachtas Sub Committee on Ireland’s Future in the European Union. This Committee’s report offered a realistic assessment of the challenges facing Ireland in the Union. It concluded that Ireland’s best interests are served by remaining at the heart of the European Union. The report recommended that the electorate’s key concerns be addressed and that public understanding of the EU be improved, with the Oireachtas playing a more active role in EU affairs.
Building on the agreement reached at the meeting of European leaders in December 2008, that, when the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, each Member State would retain a right to nominate a member of the European Commission, the European Council agreed in June 2009, to a set of legal guarantees and assurances for Ireland in the areas of key concern to Irish voters last year.
The legal guarantees cover:
• Security and defence;
• The articles of the Irish Constitution on the protection of the right to life, family and education.
The legal guarantees clarify that:
• nothing in the Lisbon Treaty makes any change of any kind, for any Member State, to the extent or operation of the Union’s competences in relation to taxation;
• the Lisbon Treaty does not affect or prejudice Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality – it confirms that there the Lisbon Treaty does not create a European army, nor does it provide for conscription; and
• nothing in the Lisbon Treaty or the Charter of Fundamental Rights affects in any way the scope and applicability of the provisions of the Irish Constitution relating to the protection of the right to life, family and education.
The European Council also agreed on a Solemn Declaration on workers’ rights which confirms the high importance that the Union attaches to:
• social progress and the protection of workers' rights;
• public services;
• the responsibility of Member States for the delivery of education and health services;
• the essential role and wide discretion of national, regional and local authorities in providing, commissioning and organising services of general economic interest.
What form will the legal guarantees take?
The Decision of the 27 EU Heads of States or Government agreed at the June European Council on Ireland’s legal guarantees will constitute an international agreement, which will take effect on the date of entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. This will be legally binding under international law and will be registered with the United Nations.
If the Lisbon Treaty is approved by all EU Member States, including by Ireland in a further referendum and subsequently enters into force, the Decision will be annexed to the Treaties at the time of the conclusion of the next accession treaty for a new Member State. Protocols form an integral part of the Treaties to which they are annexed and have the same legal status as the Treaties themselves.
Andersonstown News Thursday 18th of September 2009
by Francesca Ryan
For the first time in over 30 years, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) will hold one of their two annual parades here in Belfast.
The parade, scheduled for next August, will see up to 5,000 members descend on the West for the Falls Road procession.
Much of the organising will take place at the Clonard Hibs club, home of the Order’s Division 58. This week, we spoke to Division 58 members Harry McCabe and Billy Collins, who hold high ranks in the Order.
“The last time the parade was held here was in 1979,” said Harry, National Secretary of the AOH. “It was suspended after that as the Troubles took hold. Now the political climate has changed, we feel the time is right to bring our culture back to the road.”
The parade will see numerous bands take to the Falls Road alongside AOH members from around the world before a series of speeches are delivered at Dunville Park.
“The two big days on our calendar,” said Billy, Vice President of the AOH’s National Board, “are St Patrick’s Day and August 15.
“For years the August parade has been held up the country but we believe the time is right to bring it back to Belfast, and so we volunteered to have it here.”
Both men expect to garner plenty of support from locals for the parade, which, they say,will involve the whole community. “We intend to get local shops, clubs and sports teams involved,” said Billy.
“The parade will take in Andersonstown, the Upper Falls and the Springfield Road, arriving at the Dunville Park. It is going to be a massive community event.”
The AOH was established in the 17th century in Ireland to act as guardian against anti-Catholic forces. However, these days much of the Order’s activities revolve around social events – and it’s no different for Division 58.
“We are not just an organisation,” said Harry. “We are well known for our social events and hold many fundraisers throughout the year. To have the annual parade here on the Falls Road is the biggest social activity we have ever had on our books and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
For more information on the parade or about the organisation, contact Billy Collins on
Friday, September 18, 2009
No elected officer, including the President of a democratic body is, or for that matter should be, immune from criticism on their job performance by any member of the body that was responsible for electing them. When you were a candidate for your present office, your campaign letter which was mailed to every A.O.H. Division, was replete with criticisms of the sitting president as well as grandiose promises of better days to come if you and your “team” were elected. Frankly, Mr. President, I have seen very little, if any, of the promises in your campaign rhetoric coming to fruition. That is what has prompted these criticisms of your job performance.
You were openly critical of your predecessor for choosing to communicate with the membership via e-mail and through his column in the National Hibernian Digest rather than by telephone and teleconference calls. What you failed to say was that the latter two methods are very expensive and the former is very efficient, instantaneous, and free of cost. Since you took office, you have conducted numerous teleconference calls in which the business of the Order was discussed. Unfortunately, that business which affects the entire body does not filter down to the membership. May I suggest that the secretary be instructed to record the minutes of future meetings and post them on our N. B. webpage in a timely fashion following the calls. If security is a concern, it could be addressed by making access available by password only.
The heading on your campaign letter is emblazoned with “A Vision for Unity, Participation, Progress, and Communication”. I will address each of these items as I see them.
1.)A Vision for Unity– Your campaign and the results of the New Orleans Convention caused this Order to be transformed from a national organization to a northeastern states organization. Your National Board appointments only served to exacerbate the problem. Once again, the South, the Midwest (beyond Ohio), and the Western States were all but ignored. I have serious doubts whether your recent attempts to pacify these areas with, what are for the most part, meaningless appointments and alleged promises of support in Cincinnati will produce the effects that you obviously expect. One of those things, I am sure is loyalty, something that you and your “team” were unwilling to give to your predecessor.
2.) Participation – In what and by whom? Please explain.
3.) Communication – As mentioned above, you have conducted several National Board teleconference calls but if the business discussed on the calls was meant to filter down to lower jurisdictions that certainly has not happened.
4.) Progress – I don’t know what your definition is but if it means moving forward we certainly have not done that yet.
5.)In your letter you erroneously state that a program was instituted by Past President McGinley and supported by you to update the National Secretary’s office. I submit to you that the first attempt to do so was made by our late Past National President Tom Gilligan. That attempt and the subsequent one by Brother McGinley proved to be unsuccessful. You go on to say that with the assistance and expertise of the Technology Update Committee the changes “should be totally operational by the end of that year”. It is worthy to note that the year to which you refer was 2007. It is also worthy to note that the Technology Update Committee was not appointed by you or Brother McGinley but rather by your predecessor. Everything was in place a year ago to implement the changes including an amendment to our National Constitution mandating those changes.
They still have not taken place. I was asked recently how long our National office would be inoperable under the current system in the event of the death or disability of the National Secretary. My reply was that I did not know. What I do know is that if the office practices were computerized, it could be up and running in a minimal amount of time. To trivialize the implementation of a constitutional amendment as soon as it is written into the Constitution, as some have done, is absolutely wrong. Is it not a fact that a constitutional amendment becomes enforceable immediately upon acceptance by the body and insertion into the Constitution?
Two extremely important issues have occurred in the last year, namely the fiasco at Notre Dame and the constitutional problem with the L.A.O.H., both of which I believe were intentionally sidestepped and postponed until the 2010 Convention. These problems should have been met head on, dealt with, and resolved immediately and diplomatically, by the National officers who were elected to take decisive action on any issues that occur on their watch. Instead, the Julius Caesar solution was employed and two potentially difficult and unpopular decisions were postponed for someone else to deal with, specifically the delegates in
I very honestly believe and can say without hesitation or equivocation that it is a sad state of affairs, indeed, when complacency overcomes some of our members with regard to another member standing up to exercise his right to present legitimate opposing points of view to those of the leadership. When we allow this to happen, we are inadvertently giving our blessing to the gradual transformation of a once proud democratic fraternal organization into a “my way or the highway brand of dictatorship”. “For the good of the Order” I sincerely hope that it is not too late to change course and get back on the right track.If anybody feels that the opinions expressed here are too harsh, mean-spirited, or disrespectful, I would refer them to your campaign letter containing a litany of somewhat less than flattering remarks in reference to the job performance of the previous sitting National President