Having spent the last few hours reading the comments on two pieces examining the issue of Irish language rights on a news website here in Ireland I was going to write a long and detailed response (an online poll here and a refreshingly opinionated article here). However, in all honestly, the vitriolic and discriminatory views of the Anglophone extreme, of people who claim that they hate the Irish language but actually hate the speakers of the Irish language, has depressed me beyond words. One would hope that it would be possible to have a rational and reasoned debate between the Hibernophone and Anglophone communities in Ireland but the militant minority of the latter, people who all but rejoice in the thought of the deaths of their fellow Irish citizens because those citizens speak a tongue other than English, makes me wonder if any such debate will ever be possible.
Just when I thought I had reached a stage where it was no longer possible to be made irate by the philistine barbarity of thought that passes for some people’s opinions here comes this from Edward Brynn, a senior former United States diplomat, via an article by GSA Business:
“Ireland’s emergence as a high-tech hub in the late 20th century came about because of a decision by Catholic bishops more than 175 years ago, said a former U.S. ambassador and Irish history expert Wednesday night in Charleston.
Edward Brynn, a former foreign service officer who served as a U.S. ambassador to six African nations, told the World Affairs Council of Charleston that Irish bishops’ decision in the 19th century to teach English instead of Gaelic was pivotal in paving the way for the country’s economic prosperity.
Ireland came out of the second World War with several desirable economic assets, he said, including a well-educated, English-speaking workforce that wasn’t expecting to be paid a lot.
“In 1836, the British Parliament, exasperated and overwhelmed by times of troubles in Ireland, passed legislation that placed in the hands of the religious leaders in Ireland full control of education,” Brynn said.
“They mandated that all education of Irish-Catholic children would take place in English,” he said. “They laid out a manifesto at the end of 1836 that ‘God speaks English. All Irish children will be raised speaking English.’”
Brynn said the global recession that began in 2008 has hammered the Irish economy, and a lot of the economic gains have been lost as leaders struggle to turn the economy around. But Ireland’s position as a high-tech capital that began in the 1970s could help the country weather the recent issues, he said.”
Can I believe what I am reading or have I fallen into some amoral, de-humanised alternative universe? Is someone actually suggesting that Ireland’s centuries-long experience of colonial invasion, occupation, annexation, deportation and extermination was ok because we ended up with an economy based upon a servile English-speaking workforce?
Jesus H. Christ! What next? The slaughter of six million men, women and children in the Holocaust was a good thing because it led to the creation of the state of Israel? Slavery in the United States was good thing because it gave us rap-music and baggy jeans? World War II was a good thing because it led to Germany’s economic prosperity and political hegemony in the European Union.
Maybe we should erect some monuments to the millions of indigenous Irish-speakers who perished down through the centuries in war, pestilence and famine until ultimately their linguistic and cultural descendants were rendered a powerless minority on their own island nation?
Oh yes, we have them already. They are called emigration queues.
After a long period of ill-health Nelson Mandela, former leader of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe and President of post-apartheid South Africa, has died at the age of 95. An age he might well have thought impossible during the decades-long armed struggle against the White-minority regime in the Black-majority nation during which he risked all as both a guerrilla leader and a political prisoner.
I’ve written before about Nelson Mandela’s relations with Ireland, in particular the political connections between the African National Congress (ANC) and Sinn Féin (SF), as well as the long-standing military connections between the ANC’s guerrilla wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). From the late 1970s onwards the IRA provided military assistance and advice to MK, including sending IRA Volunteers to the region where they were active in Angola and South Africa itself. This alliance was recognised amongst militant British Unionists in the north-east of Ireland and Britain where Frank Miller, a senior Ulster Unionist Party politician, dismissed Mandela as a “black Provo” (in other words a member of the Provisional IRA or “Provos”). Miller represented a view common amongst the British establishment which saw no difference between the ANC and MK on one hand and Sinn Féin and the IRA on the other. All were “dangerous” left-wing, anti-colonial movements inimical to Britain’s interests. Indeed many members of the British minority community in Ireland felt a close affinity with the Boer minority in Apartheid-era South Africa: a centuries-old colonial minority trying to preserve their own political, economic and military hegemony over an indigenous majority.
In Britain the conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher regularly impeded sanctions against the anti-democracy regime in South Africa, despite the condemnations of the international community and domestic critics. She regarded the ANC as a “…typical terrorist organisation” and later explained on a visit to South Africa that her refusal to meet the imprisoned leader Nelson Mandela was simple: “…the Prime Minister of England does not talk to terrorists”. These sentiments were widely echoed throughout her government with Conservative Party conferences proposing motions calling for Mandela to be executed while members wore suits with collars, ties and lapel badges emblazoned with the words “Hang Nelson Mandela” (one of Thatcher’s closest political allies, Sir Teddy Taylor, stated that Mandela “…should be shot”, a view Thatcher never disassociated herself from).
While some media observers were puzzled by Thatcher’s adamant, and at times politically damaging, opposition to the ANC the revelations of recent years point to more complex motives for her opposition in the fight against apartheid as reported in the Irish Times:
“THE IRA helped carry out one of the biggest bomb attacks against the South African apartheid government in the early 1980s, according to the memoirs of former senior ANC activist and politician Kader Asmal.
The former ANC cabinet minister and Trinity law professor, who died earlier this year, reveals in his memoirs published this week how volunteers recruited from Ireland carried out reconnaissance on one of the country’s most strategic installations – the Sasol oil refinery in Sasolburg, near Johannesburg, before it was bombed on June 1st, 1980.
The attack was carried out by Umkhonto we Sizwe, better known as MK, the military wing of the ANC, and struck a major blow against the apartheid state at the time.
In his book, Politics in my Blood , Asmal, founder of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement (IAAM), also claims Gerry Adams provided the IRA volunteers to carry out the mission after he contacted go-between Michael O’Riordan, then general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland.
“I went to see the general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, Michael O’Riordan, who was a man of great integrity and whom I trusted to keep a secret. He in turn contacted Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin and it was arranged that two military experts would come to Dublin to meet two MK personnel and take them to a safe place for two weeks of intensive training. I believe the expertise the MK cadres obtained was duly imparted to others in the ANC camps in Angola.”
Asmal says he was later approached again by the MK high command who wanted two people to conduct a reconnaissance operation on the feasibility of attacking Sasol, South Africa’s major oil refinery, vital to the maintenance of the apartheid state.
“Once again, I arranged the task with Adams of Sinn Féin, through the mediation of O’Riordan. Though I no longer recall the names of the persons who volunteered, if indeed I ever knew them, they laid the ground for one of the most dramatic operations carried out by MK personnel.”
Recalling the 1980 attack as one of the most daring acts of military insurgency in the struggle against apartheid, he writes:
“. . . while the damage to the refinery was, according to the apartheid regime, relatively superficial, the propaganda value and its effect on the morale of the liberation movement were inestimable. Yet only Louise (my wife) and I knew the attack on Sasolburg was the result of reconnaissance carried out by members of the IRA.”
He added: “The attack on Sasolburg had nothing to do with the IAAM, and nobody knew about the story behind it except Louise and me.
“When the plant blew up, we were so excited I suppose some of the other IAAM people must have wondered if we had any connection or involvement.”’
Many years later the ANC played a crucial role supporting Sinn Féin in the Peace Process of the 1990s and early 2000s between the belligerent parties in Ireland and Britain some of which was revealed by the Observer newspaper:
“One of the last ANC militants to lay down arms after the war against apartheid played a leading role in convincing the IRA to move to its historic compromise over arms decommissioning last weekend, The Observer has learnt.
Sathyandranath ‘Mac’ Maharaj held a secret meeting with IRA leaders, including the hardline Marxist Brian Keenan, in Belfast in February, shortly after the British Government suspended the short-lived power-sharing executive. The one-time Communist ANC activist told Keenan and three other members of the IRA’s Army Council to ‘be creative’ over the arms issue.
According to republican sources, Maharaj’s advice helped propel the organisation towards its unprecedented offer to put arms beyond use and allow independent observers to monitor its weapons dumps. Maharaj was accompanied on the trip by Leon Wessels, a white member of the Cabinet who ran Pretoria’s security apparatus, but the former held the talks with the IRA leadership.
Maharaj is understood to have reported back to his ANC colleague and former trade union leader, Cyril Ramaphosa, that a breakthrough in the Northern Ireland deadlock could be achieved. Ramaphosa has since been appointed as one of the two observers to verify IRA arms dumps are sealed and guns have been put beyond use.
It is suggested Sinn Fein MPs Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness asked the ANC leadership to help them convince IRA sceptics to launch an initiative to break the deadlock.
Maharaj, like Keenan in Ireland, was initially sceptical about the politics of compromise at the end of apartheid. He was number three in the ANC’s military wing and laid down his arms only after Nelson Mandela had convinced him attacks on the security forces would damage reconciliation with the white community.
The IRA looks upon the ANC as ‘brothers’ in the struggle for national liberation and for more than two decades has maintained political links with the South African movement. However, there were never any formal military ties.”
Of course we can now see that there were very formal ties between Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Irish Republican Army. In fact the struggle between Irish Republicans and Apartheid South Africa went much further, for it involved Boer-ruled South Africa directly engaging in state-sponsored terrorism in Ireland through the supply of weapons, explosives and money to the British terrorist factions in the north-east of the country during the 1980s and ’90s, factions with close ties to senior Unionist political leaders and the British intelligence services. As the report above continues:
“In the Eighties it was other South Africans who helped fuel the Ulster conflict. Apartheid agents indirectly armed both the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force 13 years ago, enabling the two loyalist organisations to intensify their violence up until the 1994 ceasefires.
Douglas Berndhart, an American-born agent for Boss, apartheid’s secret intelligence agency, put loyalists in touch with a Lebanese gunrunner, Joe Fawzi, in 1987. The UDA, UVF and Ulster Resistance [ASF: a terrorist grouping founded by the DUP, a party now led by Peter Robinson joint-first minister of the North of Ireland] paid Fawzi around £300,000 (stolen in a bank robbery in Portadown) for a large consignment of weapons, including hundreds of AK47s that had fallen into the hands of Lebanese Christian militias. These weapons had been captured from the retreating PLO, which was expelled from south Lebanon in 1982.
Ulster loyalists made two further attempts to gain arms directly from the apartheid regime. The UDA sent Brian Nelson to Johannesburg in the same year to make contact with Ulster expatriates living in South Africa who supported the loyalist cause. The trip came to nothing, probably because Nelson was an agent working inside the UDA.
A more serious bid to procure weapons took place a year later when Ulster Resistance, founded but later disowned by Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party, tried to sell surface-to-air missile systems to apartheid agents in Paris. French intelligence arrested three Ulster men, Samuel Quinn, James King and Noel Lyttle, at the Hilton hotel as they were about to make contact with South African diplomat Daniel Storm.
Storm had offered Ulster Resistance weapons in return for stolen missile systems manufactured at Shorts aircraft factory in east Belfast. The apartheid government wanted the missiles to shoot down MiG aircraft flown by Cuban pilots in battles between Angolan Marxist forces and the South African Defence Forces. Ulster Resistance’s botched attempt to buy weapons from the Pretoria regime resulted in France and Britain expelling six South African embassy staff, including Storm, from their Paris and London missions.
The political leaders of the loyalist organisations that smuggled those Lebanese armaments into Northern Ireland have so far refused to follow the IRA’s lead and offer up a similar arms inspection deal. John White, a former UDA prisoner and now chief spokesman for the Ulster Democratic Party, said he would have preferred all paramilitary organisations voluntarily to destroy their arsenals.”
The obituary of the notorious British Intelligence agent Brian Nelson provides even more details on those who connived in facilitating the support of Apartheid South Africa for the British ethnic minority in Ireland, the close involvement of the British military and intelligence services, and the years of separatist terrorism that stemmed from that:
“Brian Nelson, who has died of a brain haemorrhage aged 55, features in today’s report by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir John Stevens. In the early 1990s, Stevens, then a relatively lowly deputy chief constable in Cambridgeshire, was asked to conduct an inquiry into the relationship between the British army and Protestant paramilitaries, notably the Ulster Defence Association.
He soon came across Nelson, a fanatical and sectarian Protestant from Belfast’s Shankill Road, who was recruited in 1985 by British military intelligence to act as an army agent in the UDA, which he had joined a decade earlier. Nelson, a former soldier, had served with the Black Watch, and later took a building job in Germany.
He performed his delicate and dangerous new task with great enthusiasm. His house and car, plus £200 a week expenses, were paid for by the British army (the British taxpayer). In 1987, soon after his recruitment, Nelson went to South Africa to shop for arms for the UDA and supervised the shipment of two huge batches of arms, at least one of which ended up in the hands of the paramilitaries.
Throughout his time in the UDA, Nelson worked closely with army intelligence, whose policy at the time was shamelessly to take sides: for the Protestant paramilitaries, who were seen as pro-British; and against the IRA, who were seen as the enemy. This policy drew British military intelligence into a gang war. Drawing on his sources in British intelligence, Nelson would pass on the names and addresses of known IRA activists to the UDA, whose gunmen would promptly go out and “execute” the suspects.
The success of Nelson’s work commended him to the UDA hierarchy, who appointed him “head of intelligence”. But his system did not always work. In May 1988, Terry McDaid, a bricklayer, was at home watching television when masked gunmen smashed into his home and shot him dead. It was a mistake. The gunmen were looking for Terry’s brother Declan, whose name had been supplied by Nelson.
The policy of consistent collusion between British army special forces and Orange assassins was bitterly opposed in the 1970s by Colin Wallace, an army information officer at Lisburn with strong connections to intelligence, and Fred Holroyd, a British military intelligence officer in Northern Ireland. Both men were denounced and sacked.
Wallace was framed, and jailed for killing his best friend. In 1996, 10 years after his release, his conviction was quashed by the court of appeal. When Stevens discovered the role of Nelson in paramilitary sectarian murders, he insisted on Nelson’s prosecution, and he was arrested.
This caused dismay in the British army and its undercover organisation, the Force Research Unit (FRU). Stevens was adamant that he could not condone Nelson’s behaviour, and frantic negotiations followed. For nearly two years, Nelson was held in the relatively comfortable police “supergrass suite” in Belfast.
A deal was finally clinched in January 1992. Nelson agreed to plead guilty to five conspiracies to murder, and at least four sectarian murder charges against him were dropped. In a bizarre court case lasting less than a day, Nelson’s real role was effectively covered up. After a moving tribute to his sterling work for the British army from a then anonymous colonel, Nelson got 10 years.
Speaking from behind a security screen, and brushing aside Nelson’s record as an accomplice to murder, the colonel stressed the lives Nelson had allegedly “saved”. Nelson was released after serving less than half his sentence, and spent the rest of his life under a false identity.
Stevens, however, was reluctant to leave the matter there. Assisted by Hugh Orde, now chief constable in Northern Ireland, he continued his inquiries into the complicity of army intelligence and the FRU with sectarian murder gangs. Nelson was always at the centre of his inquiries.
The Stevens/Orde report is likely to deal in detail with many sectarian murders of the time, including the appalling murder in his home in 1989 of solicitor Pat Finucane. Nelson’s premature death saves him from further embarrassment. The anonymous “Colonel J” has since been identified as Brigadier Gordon Kerr, now military attaché to the British embassy in Beijing.”
Hundreds of Irish men, women and children, citizens of Ireland, lost their lives or were injured as a result of the steady supply of arms from Apartheid South Africa to the British minority in the north-east of Ireland, a supply chain overseen by the highest echelons of the British state in what was, and is, Britain’s Iran-Contra Scandal. However, no one in Britain, be it politicians or journalists, have ever expressed any real interest in examining this campaign of state-sponsored terrorism waged on their behalf in Ireland. On the contrary some have been implicit in covering it up, as with much else that happened in Britain’s thirty year Dirty War.
For more on the military links between the Apartheid-regime in South Africa, the political and terrorist factions of the British minority in Ireland and the British government itself please read this article here: The 1969 Truthers.
As for the great man himself let us remember Nelson Mandela as he was, a friend and supporter of the Republican cause in Ireland, an ally in the struggle for justice and freedom both at home and abroad.
A quick post to note that after two-and-a-half years of existence An Sionnach Fionn has now passed 400,000 views, the majority achieved in the last eighteen months. For a website expressing progressive Republican views on an island nation where such opinions are regarded as strictly verboten by much of the media establishment I am quite pleased with that modest number. The three most popular articles so far have been 2012’s Lets Speak The Truth: Those Who Hate Irish Speakers Do So Because They Are Racists… and 2013’s The 1969 Truthers and Death Squad Britain – The Past That Won’t Stay Hidden (with nearly a thousand “shares” each on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media). So can I just thank everyone who has helped make this possible through their support, media sharing, comments, emails, messages, tips and links (especially the latter two).
And for your consideration flexible democrat and British apologist-in-chief Eoghan Harris venting as only he can in the Sunday Independent newspaper:
“… it seems clear to me that one of the main causes is the manipulation of the internet by the agents of atavistic nationalism.
Increasingly, internet political sites are infiltrated by a band of anonymous fanatical nationalists.
But it won’t be long ironed out if IRA apologists are able to have a free run on the internet…”
And again here as he issues a call to arms on behalf of the Neo-Unionist group-think:
“…there is no sign that the State, the national broadcasters or civic leaders have enough interest acting in loco parentis on the moral side, particularly when it comes to protecting young Irish people from the propaganda of the Recurring IRA which is peddled on the internet.
Right now most Irish adolescents receive their historical education from the internet. By and large, it is dominated by a toxic nationalist lobby, preaching the grisly gospels of Anglophobia and anti-Unionism.”
Does he mean us? I think he does
In response to yesterday’s surprise resignation by the Language Rights Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin, an act of protest against the culture of Anglophone discrimination towards Hibernophones that pervades the Irish state and government, this comment left on the website of the Irish Independent newspaper sums up the reaction of many English-speakers in Ireland.
The message is clear: true equality, true parity of esteem for this nation’s Irish-speaking citizens and communities will not be given – it must be taken.
In a shock announcement this afternoon Ireland’s Language Commissioner, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, unexpectedly resigned from his office after nearly ten years of battling the institutional discrimination towards Irish-speaking citizens that permeates Ireland’s public services and political establishment. Since 2004 Mr. Ó Cuirreáin’s role has been to act as the legal guarantor for the nation’s Hibernophone communities in seeking fair and equal access to state-controlled or funded services with their Anglophone peers. However he has been continuously frustrated and undermined in that role by successive governments of all stripes and by the very organisations he was tasked with policing. From RTÉ:
“Irish Language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin has announced that he is resigning from his position, citing concerns about the lack of progress in ensuring that Irish speakers can deal with the State in Irish.
Mr Ó Cuirreáin said that he felt he was left with no other choice but to resign from his role in ensuring the implementation of Irish language legislation.
He said his decision was a result of the State’s lack of commitment to the protection of Irish speakers’ rights.”
“For those generally involved with the protection or promotion of the Irish language, either professionally or voluntarily, we are in a time of great uncertainty. Never before have I seen in over 30 years’ experience – as a journalist or language commissioner – morale and confidence so low. Despite the enormous goodwill of the vast majority of the people of this country, the language continues to drift further to the margins of society including within much of the public sector; bringing it back to the mainstream is no simple procedure.
An essential first step would require that in amending the Official Languages Act as part of the programme for Government, that a clear provision be made to ensure that state employees serving the Gaeltacht communities are Irish speaking without question or conditions – forcing native Irish speakers to use English in dealing with the agencies of the State must not be allowed to continue. And in parallel, it is essential that the issue of the Irish language in recruitment and promotion in the Civil and Public Service in general be revisited immediately – there is absolutely no way that the most recent proposal in relation to the Civil Service will work.
If those two elements – the use of Irish in dealing with Gaeltacht communities and ensuring an adequate Irish language capacity in public administration – are not addressed by the State when the legislation is being amended, I fear that the exercise will be seen as a fudge, a farce or a falsehood.
As we begin to regain our economic sovereignty, it would be a travesty if we were to lose our linguistic sovereignty – a cornerstone of our cultural identity, heritage and soul as a nation. I believe this to be a clear and present danger.”
I will update as I get more news but for now it can be seen as yet another victory for English Ireland. The Ireland where speaking in the Irish language can lead to your arrest.
So the multi-million euro Smithwick Tribunal has concluded that on the balance of probabilities the ambush by an Active Service Unit of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army of two senior officers of the RUC, the later disbanded British paramilitary police force in the north-east of Ireland, was conducted using intelligence information supplied by members of An Garda Síochána. No names are definitively named, and the evidence is at best inconclusive, but is anyone surprised?
The big lie of the Long War was the claim by establishment Ireland, the political and media élites, that the (P)IRA enjoyed little to no support on this island nation. That it was a tiny, self-selected guerilla movement of several hundred men and women existing in isolation from the Irish people as a whole. This of course was a nonsense, a fig leaf to cover the powerlessness of “official Ireland” to thwart an armed struggle that was waged for some three decades in the north-east of the country (and in the minds of some people at least, on its behalf).
The inability of those outside of Ireland to see the difference between active support and active opposition to armed struggle is the key to understanding the relationship between the Irish Republican Army and the Irish people. For while it is true to claim that the majority of people in Ireland did not actively support the IRA, it is equally true to claim that the majority of people in Ireland did not actively oppose the IRA. Pointing to the voting patterns of Sinn Féin north or south and seeing them as a barometer of support for “resistance” was always an exercise in self-delusion and most sensible observers knew that. Men and women willing to lend a hand or at least turn a blind eye to the operations of the insurgency were only slightly less likely to be found amongst the voters of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, the Greens or the Progressive Democrats as amongst Sinn Féin or the IRSP. One need only look to the autobiographies and histories of the period to see plentiful evidence of that.
Simply put it was the Irish people’s dualistic, one might almost say pragmatic, approach towards armed struggle that facilitated the environment in which the IRA could sustain itself and its insurgency for some thirty years. While the toleration waxed and waned with the unrolling of events, the latest victory or the latest atrocity, it never reached the point of collapse. It transcended political, socio-economic, generational or geographical allegiances. From conservative senior citizens in rural areas to radicalised urban youth, from the poorest working class to the most affluent middle class, the patterns of support or more frequently acquiescence were the same.
In truth throughout the latter decades of the 20th century for most Irish people a Volunteer or active supporter of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army was never more than six degrees of separation away.
Despite the efforts of successive Irish governments to dry out the popular sea in which the insurgent fishes swam there was at no point any realistic prospect of Ireland being able to curtail the activities of the Irish Republican Army (or to do so without reverting to the tyranny that existed under the Free State regime during the throes of civil war). Unlike the British state, which waged a counter-insurgency war both directly through its Occupation Forces and indirectly through its terrorist fronts, the Irish state had few options available to it. The IRA existed from 1969 to 2005 because the majority of the Irish people tolerated its existence. When that tacit support began to fade, when perceptions over the necessity for military resistance to the British Occupation, to the British terror factions, to the Unionist regime changed, when atrocities like Enniskillen, Warrington and Shankill took their inevitable toll and real opportunities for political progress opened up, then the tolerance came to an end. And with it the war.
However, as always in Ireland, there are two sides to the story. For while the majority of ordinary Irish people permitted or accepted the existence of the insurgency in all its manifest forms others did not. Instead they actively opposed it. If the Irish Republican Army had its sympathisers and supporters throughout the Irish state, not just in An Garda, it also had its enemies. Enemies who tolerated their own preferred violence. who looked the other way or gave a helping hand to those who brought terror and mayhem to Irish streets and Irish towns. While the cries for retribution on those implicated in the Smithwick Report will ring loudest from within the establishment those who co-operated or covered up the murder of their fellow Irish citizens will rest easy in their beds knowing that their day will never come.
So independent Teachta Dála Colm Keaveney, a former member of the nominally left-wing and socialist Labour Party, is to join Fianna Fáil, a grouping now firmly on the liberal democrat centre-right of Irish politics. Ah, the ever flexible principles and beliefs of Ireland’s political elites. Yesterday a class-warrior, today a free marketeer. And where next for the travelling politico? Well that depends on the opinion polls, doesn’t it.
So to another round of Fantasy Troubles as the news media in Britain, with a nod and a wink from domestic “security sources”, launch a febrile attempt to whip up some old fashioned anti-Irish hysteria in the lead up to Christmas. And how are they doing that, you ask? Why, by claiming that Irish insurgent groups in the north-east of Ireland have allied themselves to the Taliban of course. From the London Independent newspaper:
“Republicans in Northern Ireland look to Taliban for weapons
Taliban-inspired technology is boosting the capacity of dissident republicans to wage war against the security services, with the discovery of advanced weaponry never seen before in Northern Ireland, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.”
Oh, so it’s “Taliban-inspired” rather than Taliban-supplied as the headline implies.
“The degree of technical sophistication is “unprecedented”, and experts are warning that it is part of a worsening picture that could include a sustained bombing campaign.
Police managed to foil an attack which had been planned in South Armagh using what the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) described as two “mortar type” devices. Dissident republicans had planned to bring down a helicopter using the rocket launchers, which took army bomb disposal experts three days to examine.”
Er, would that be the same make of mortar that the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army deployed in the Occupied North of Ireland in the 1990s to bring down British military aircraft including a helicopter landing at a military outpost in Crois Mhic Lionnáin in 1994?
“In the wake of the discovery, security sources approached Democratic Unionist MP Jim Shannon with their concerns. The weaponry, found in August, was unlike anything seen in Northern Ireland before. It is understood that it could be detonated remotely using an infrared laser – a tactic used by the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
Ordnance triggered by infrared lasers? As in a 1992 (P)IRA ambush of a vehicle patrol by paramilitary police from the later disbanded RUC, an event that occurred twenty-one years ago in the Irish town of An Iúraigh?
“He said the “deeply worrying” discovery confirmed that there are links between people in Afghanistan and Pakistan and those that made the bomb and mortar attack weapon in Cullyhanna.”
Oh yes, Commandant Mahamad Ó Néill, spokesperson for the GHQ Staff and Army Council of Óglaigh na hÉireann! But wait, maybe it is actually those ungrateful Irish peasants in British military khaki who are the real culprits.
“Independent MP Patrick Mercer, a former army officer who has served in Northern Ireland, speculated last night that another possibility was that military personnel who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq may be responsible for passing on details about the technology. “I have heard about this. This is all to do with light-sensitive devices,” he said. “But of course it’s no more or less than the fact that they’ve got people coming back from Afghanistan who have served over there who are able to pass on this expertise. There are many Irishmen serving in all branches of the services. It’s not unknown for loyalties to be split.”
Speaking under condition of anonymity, a senior military figure who commanded troops in Northern Ireland, admitted: “It is almost inevitable that ‘leakage’ of military skills from ‘us’ to ‘them’ happens over time and is disturbing and definitely of concern to the hierarchy.”"
So the British admit that during the thirty years of the Long War the Irish Republican Army successfully infiltrated or cultivated agents in the British Armed Forces? And that this is happening again with contemporary Irish Republican insurgents who have less than a tenth of the strength or resources of the (P)IRA?
“But it is possible that “information exchange” between dissidents and the Taliban is taking place, according to Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. “We did see in the past co-operation between Islamist extremists in the Middle East and the Provisional IRA.”
Earlier this year The IoS revealed how dissidents are using armour-piercing horizontal mortars similar to those used by the Taliban.”
The same horizontal mortars that the Irish Republican Army employed throughout the late 1980s and ’90s? The same weapons which successfully drove British Army vehicle and foot patrols off many rural roads in the north-east of the country and onto helicopter gunships?
So where is this fantastical (and farcical) British warmongering coming from? And why now?
Following the news yesterday that several hundred jobs are to be lost as three companies reduce or cease their operations in Ireland (one of which will have a major impact in the local economy of north Dublin) one might imagine that the potential for up to 200 new jobs for Irish citizens would be greeted with some joy. From the Irish Times newspaper:
“Irish is the 14th largest language out of 23 in the EU’s terminology database, the Dáil has heard.
Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Dinny McGinley said the database contained nine million terms in the 23 official EU languages.
Mr McGinley expressed the hope that a derogation on translating all EU legal text into Irish could be lifted next year ahead of the December 2015 target.
He was responding to Fine Gael TD Terence Flanagan who said about 180 jobs could be created in translation services if a derogation on the use of Irish in the EU was lifted.
Mr McGinley said his department had spent €11 million in funding specialised third-level Irish language course in Ireland in areas such as translation, interpretation, information technology and law.
Mr Flanagan said that by the end of 2012, 243 people had graduated from those courses.”
However this is Ireland, an island-nation where the only role Hibernophones are expected to fill is that of second class citizens with second class rights. So we go to the Commentariat of the journal.ie replete with its usual brigade of Anglophone supremacists. Irish-speakers being treated as the equals of English-speakers? In Ireland? In the European Union? Shock, horror! What next, letting them sit at the front of the bus?
Ah, if only the English lobby in this part of the country had the likes of the bible-thumping, Creationist-believing, gay-hating Edwin Poots, the regional “minister for culture” in the north-east of Ireland, to stand up for what they believe in. From an interview featured on Slugger O’Toole:
“On his time as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure he told me that his greatest achievement was ‘burying the Irish language act’…”
Blocking equal treatment under the law for Irish-speakers? Now there is a political leader the Angloban could really rally behind.
The hostile reaction to the publication of Anne Cadwallader’s book “Lethal Allies”, a history of the British death squads which operated in the so-called “Murder Triangle” of mid-Ulster during the 1970s and early ‘80s, continues to rumble on in British and Unionist circles. A review on a newly launched website supported by several academics, Arkiv, attempts to undermine the journalist’s detailed account of the activities of the media-dubbed Glennane Gang, a terror grouping made up of serving or former British soldiers and paramilitary police officers, by offering a convoluted and repetitious defence of Britain’s military strategy in Ireland and of its state and para-state forces. The Cedar Lounge Revolution carries a detailed reply to the book review by Dr. F. Stuart Ross pointing out its inconsistencies and bias (original here). My own politics are obvious and so my words and views are judged in that light. Far more insidious are those who claim academic neutrality while promulgating partisan ideology.
History is written by the victors and those British apologists who seek to shape the popular memory of the conflict in the north-east of Ireland through its history, feigned or otherwise, are desperately pursuing victory by other means. A victory which is already slipping out of their grasp.
Nice work if you can get it. From the Irish Times:
“A former mayor of Limerick has heavily criticised the process around the appointment of Pat Cox’s former special adviser as the chief executive of Limerick City of Culture 2014.
Patricia Ryan previously worked for Mr Cox, who is chairman of the board, when he was in the European Parliament. Ms Ryan, from Limerick has also worked as special adviser to Mary Harney when she was minister for health.
Last January, six months after Limerick was announced as national City of Culture 2014, former European Parliament president and freeman of Limerick Pat Cox was announced as chairman of the board. In May, London-born Karl Wallace was appointed artistic director after an open tender and interview process.
The chief executive’s position was not advertised or tendered…”
Ah, such things are not for mere peasants such as mise or túsa. The important decisions are for the folk up in the Big House…
When the journalists and editors of a right-wing media cartel start campaigning for the creation of a political party to reflect their “values” one should take note. Even more so when it is done under the guise of “reformist” rhetoric designed to cover a far more sinister, socially Darwinist agenda. From the Irish Independent newspaper:
“If there is one lesson to be learnt from the Sunday Independent series of Millward Brown polls, it is that City Hall is in trouble.
By City Hall (Tammany Hall might be more appropriate), we mean that special clique of politicians, social partners, mandarins and business insider classes who have parcelled the State up between themselves since independence.”
That the media themselves are an integral part of that “insider” class and have been since the days when they were the cheerleaders for the worst excesses of the counter-revolutionary Free State regime is of course carefully omitted.
“…all eyes increasingly turn to the political potential of the Reform Alliance (RA). Such interest may, however, pose as many difficulties as opportunities.
A party of genuine Reform which is not informed by the views of the left is not worth the penny candle for it will merely be a social club for Liter PD manque and dispossessed FG types. Similarly, those of the left who go it alone or as a loosely aligned group run the risk of becoming little more than a Liter version of the old Democratic Left.
One of the features of all Great Disruptions, be it the American Depression or the Weimar Republic, is that new forms of politics emerge as a response to the failure of old ways.
When it comes, though, to the desire of voters for reform, the RA is unique in that, given all the blood spilt by those ministerial resignations, could anyone deny that a party led by Lucinda Creighton and Roisin Shortall would be for honest dealing and real reform.”
The references to Germany’s politically and economically chaotic Weimar Republic have become a running theme in Irish newspapers over the last three or four years and often reflect a certain distaste amongst the nation’s media élites for democratic politics in general. The rejection of the philosophical Right or Left by many journalists in Ireland and the claim to cleave to a hybrid middle that is bound to neither ironically (or perhaps significantly) reflects the very ideological forces that came to rotten fruition in Germany during the late 1920s and ‘30s.
Meanwhile the would-be champion of the New Right, former Fine Gael deputy Lucinda Creighton (she of the “pure” blood, as Kevin Myers might put it), must surely by now have witnessed her ears bursting into flame so frequent is her name-dropping in the newspapers of the Indo stable. Again from the Daily Lucinda Independent:
“ORDINARY working and middle-class people are feeling they have been abandoned by the political establishment, Rebel Alliance TD Lucinda Creighton told the Sunday Independent.
The former European affairs minister noted that in particular, significant elements of Fine Gael’s core vote were feeling abandoned by what she described as “a disturbing trend where politics appears to be distancing itself from the lives and needs of middle Ireland”.
In the wake of a further raft of taxes and charges, she warned that the coping classes were “finding it impossible” to get by.
“What I hear from everywhere is that the coping classes are now being squeezed beyond sustainability.
“I don’t believe the Government is deliberately leaving people behind but it does appear the concerns of middle Ireland are being forgotten,” she said.
“Increasingly middle-class and working people who are not wealthy, who live prudent lives, who might once have aspired to own shares, the sort of citizens who want to pay for their own health insurance, are finding it impossible to cope,” she added.
The Reform Alliance TD also warned: “Where politics fails in its responsibility to ensure we have a society which respects those who work hard, a vacuum emerges and extremism rises. This is already evident in polls across Europe where extremes of the left and the right, one as frightening as the other, are rising.”
Leaving aside the bizarre claim that the “not wealthy” in Ireland aspired to own shares and pay for their own health care (a reflection of Creighton’s own pampered reality and of those around her) the appeal to rally a supposed societal “middle” against the perceived wayward forces of the vox populi reflect something far more dangerous than it allegedly defends against.
There is something rotten in the state of Ireland.
While the revelations about the murderous activities of British Army death squads in Ireland in the early and mid 1970s have shocked some for most seasoned observers it was simply further confirmation of what we already knew. And those soldiers-turned-terrorists never went away. From ten years ago a report in the New York Times:
“Officers from British Army intelligence and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland actively helped Protestant guerrillas kill Roman Catholics in the late 1980′s, a report by Britain’s senior police official said today.
Sir John Stevens, commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, said that his 14-year investigation into the explosive allegations of official collusion had found that members of the army’s covert Force Research Unit, which handled informants, and the police Special Branch espionage arm “were allowed to operate without effective control and to participate in terrorist crimes.”
Speaking at a news conference in Belfast, Sir John said, “My inquiries have highlighted collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence and the extreme of agents being involved in murder.”
The report said that officers helped Protestant paramilitary fighters single out Catholics for attack, and that they failed to warn Catholics of intelligence they had which cast them in danger. Sir John said that innocent people had died because of the collusion, and that the Troubles, as the three decades of violence that cost the lives of more than 3,600 people are known, had been prolonged as a result.
He said the inquiry had taken so long in part because it was “wilfully obstructed and misled from day one” by police and military intelligence officers intent on covering up critical evidence.
The Belfast office he set up in 1989 was burned down by arsonists five months later, and in the years since, Sir John said, a pattern of concealment and non-cooperation had emerged in which official papers were destroyed or held back, investigators were spied on, arrests were sabotaged and misrepresentations were planted “deliberately designed to throw us off course.”
“It should not have taken 14 years to get to the point we are now,” he said. “None of us are above the law, and no future inquiry should have to be conducted in the way we have had to conduct ours.”
Only 20 of the 3,000 pages in the report were made public today because of what Sir John said were pending legal actions. More than 20 cases have been sent to the office of public prosecutions for possible criminal charges. Among them is one involving Brig. Gordon Kerr, the man who ran the Force Research Unit and is today the defence attaché at the British Embassy in Beijing.”
Ah, Gordon Kerr, the FRU, British Army Intelligence Corps and their terrorist best friends. The Guardian in 2003:
“The most senior British Army intelligence officer in Northern Ireland in the mid-1990s invited the feared Loyalist killer Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair to dinner and oversaw the leaking of military secrets about Republican suspects.
Adair’s fingerprints have been found on at least a dozen military intelligence dossiers uncovered during investigations by the Stevens Enquiry team into collusion between loyalists and the security services.
The Observer knows the identity of the officer concerned, but he cannot be named for legal reasons.
If the allegations are proved it will show that collusion existed at a higher level of British military intelligence in Northern Ireland than ever previously suspected.
The recently retired officer, who reached Brigadier rank and was honoured by the Queen for his services to the fight against terrorism, is believed to have struck up a working relationship with Adair in the early 1990s. This man was effectively in charge of Army intelligence during a period when loyalists were killing the IRA in Northern Ireland.
The officer even boasted to Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch officers that he had had dinner with Adair at the height of the loyalist terror campaign between 1991 and 1994.
Adair, who has been expelled from the Ulster Defence Association and is currently held in protective custody, has sought a deal with British intelligence officers who visited him last month in Maghaberry jail outside Belfast.
Although Adair was only in his mid 20s at the time of the Finucane killing the young loyalist was already starting to make a name for himself inside the UDA. Detectives in Belfast believe he knew all the players in the murder personally.
The retired brigadier was senior to Gordon Kerr, the head of the Force Research Unit, who has been questioned within the last six months about his handling of British Army agent Brian Nelson. The Army spy supplied the UDA with security force intelligence that led to the murders of several republicans and nationalists including Finucane. A report by Stevens found that the FRU and officers within RUC Special Branch knew about the murder plots but did nothing to stop them taking place.”
British state-sponsored terrorism: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s.
A quick post to highlight some recent political analyses. The first comes from World by Storm examining the alleged reduction in support for Sinn Féin in the north-east of the country as evidenced in the last series of local elections. While various reasons can be offered up for this, including growing disillusionment at the glacial movement on the process of reunification and the political stagnation that besets the northern regional government, the more likely explanation is simple apathy amongst voters in general. Given the outside possibility that the next Stormont elections will deliver up a First Minister from the Nationalist community and the likelihood of British Unionist leaders appealing to the atavistic in their community for that very reason a re-galvanised SF vote is quite possible. Certainly some assume that this is Sinn Féin’s game plan and what we are witnessing at the moment is a party simply treading water in government while preparing for the upcoming contest. As always with SF it is the long war not the immediate battle that matters.
And where will that leave a seemingly rudderless SDLP?
For a while some observers believed (or hoped) that éirígí was destined to become a significant if minor political party, attractive enough to siphon off the left-wing and more committed Republican vote traditionally held by Sinn Féin, especially in Belfast and Dublin. However in recent years that early promise has yielded relatively little and the party is now more notable as a Republican bogeyman wheeled out every so often by a complicit southern media to frighten the Neo-Ascendancy classes. This report by Joseph Magee describes an organisation more obsessed with navel-gazing and issues outside of Ireland than appealing to voters at home (wherever there is a protest over the Israeli Occupation of Palestine you will find very loud and very visible eirígí activists which is all well and good but in the world of fíorpholaitíocht how does that put votes in ballot boxes in Irish constituencies? Answer, it doesn’t).