Cúrsaí Reatha (Current Affairs)

The Orange Order – Enough Is Enough

Margaret Thatcher touring the British Occupied North of Ireland in 1981 wearing a beret of the UDR, an infamous British Army militia responsible for scores of terrorist attacks during the 1970s, '80s and '90s

Then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher touring the Occupied North of Ireland in 1981 wearing a beret of the UDR, an infamous British Army militia whose members were responsible for scores of terrorist attacks during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s

From 1975 to 1982 a British terrorist faction nicknamed the “Shankhill Butchers”, part of the militant UVF, carried out a series of attacks designed to instil terror in the Irish Nationalist community of Belfast, randomly targeting men, women and children living in isolated enclaves around the city. Like Al-Qaeda in Iraq during the intercommunal conflict the Unionist grouping simply didn’t kill their victims. Armed with guns, explosives, axes and butchers knives they kidnapped, tortured, mutilated, hacked the limbs and cut the throats of those they encountered, often using various pubs and bars around the city to carry out their murderous activities (sometimes with the full knowledge of staff and customers). Fuelled by alcohol and drugs they boasted of the time it took to slay their captives or of how many they had killed that week, from ten year-old Kevin McMenamin to forty-eight year Marie McGrattan. Existing in the twilight world of British colonial culture on the island of Ireland, nationalism and religion fused together, they came to represent all that was evil on the ideological fringes of Unionism. Eventually their frenzied behaviour and ancillary criminal ways became too much for the British authorities and paramilitary police and they were brought to heel, arrests and assassinations (both internally and by Irish Republicans) breaking the back of their amorphous organisation.

One of their number was Eddie McIlwaine, a serving British soldier with the infamous Ulster Defence Regiment, who helped the group secure weapons, intelligence information and safe passage through British security cordons and checkpoints (though he was not the only one to do so). He was convicted in 1979 of kidnapping, assault and possession of weapons, the least of the charges that could have been brought against him. His only admitted victim was Gerard McLaverty, a young man the gang grabbed off the street while posing as police officers, beat, strangled and slashed with a knife before leaving for dead. Back then McIlwaine was an acknowledged psychopath, a dangerous soldier-cum-terrorist addicted to inflicting human suffering. Today he is an honoured and all-but venerated member of the Orange Order, the anti-Catholic and anti-Irish fraternity devoted to fundamentalist Protestantism and Britishness. From the Belfast Telegraph newspaper:

“One of the Shankill Butchers stewarded an Orange Order parade past a Catholic church in Belfast last weekend.

Eddie McIlwaine was filmed by Carrick Hill residents ushering members of the loyal orders past St Patrick’s on Donegall Street on the Twelfth.

McIlwaine was jailed for eight years in 1979 for being part of the Shankill Butchers gang that killed 19 Catholics and Protestants.

Last year Sunday Life pictured him parading through east Belfast during the UVF’s 100th anniversary parade.

He wore a UVF armband emblazoned with the words ‘UVF West Belfast 1’, and a medal understood to signify time spent in prison.

McIlwaine’s involvement with the Orange Order was first revealed a decade ago when he was pictured carrying a banner commemorating UVF killer Brian Robinson at the controversial Whiterock parade.

A spokesman for the Orange Order defended the Shankill Butcher’s role in the organisation, saying: “I can confirm that Eddie McIlwaine is a member of that lodge and in good standing…

“As long as Mr McIlwaine upholds the principle of the institution and has paid his debt to society he has done nothing wrong.””

Politicians, journalists and observers sometimes claim a moral equivalence between the actions of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army, the British Occupation Forces and the British Terror Factions during the conflict in the north-east of Ireland and beyond. They argument goes that they all were equally guilty of militarism and violence. This is simply untrue. While the IRA can be justifiably criticised and condemned for many of its actions, up to and including war crimes, more often than not it exercised restraint. As dreadful as the war was it could have been far worse had the IRA chosen to act entirely outside the norms of western European behaviour at the end of the 20th century (or what the communities who supported it were willing to tolerate). That is not to negate the suffering caused by the Republican Army, the many innocent victims both direct and indirect left by its actions. The litany of its barbarisms, deliberate or otherwise, is lengthy and bring no credit to anyone. The war was not a clean one. Heroes are few and far between.

However the terrorist gangs organised and functioning under the aegis of the British state, acknowledged or otherwise, are a different matter. It was these factions which embraced as a weapon of war the policy of “ethnic cleansing” as the ultimate solution – or fallback – to the conflict and the defeat of their enemy. Acting as the cutting edge of Britain’s counter-insurgency strategy they engaged not armed opponents, guerrilla fighters or their commanders, but ordinary Irish men, women and children.

35% of all those killed by the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army were civilians.

51% of all those killed by the British Occupation Forces were civilians.

85% of all those killed by the British terror factions were civilians.

When the Orange Order permits the membership of someone like Eddie McIlwaine, a literal butcher of human beings, when it elevates him to a position of authority in its organisation, however slight, it sends a message to the people of Ireland as a whole. It is the same message that ISIS, the would-be Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sends to Shia Moslems and Arab Christians or Israel sends to the Palestinians of Gaza: you and yours are unhumans.

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France Had Pétain, We Nearly Had Redmond

John Redmond MP presents a regimental flag to a unit of the Irish National Volunteers, the paramilitary wing of the Irish Parliamentary Party, the Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, April 1915

John Redmond MP presents a regimental flag to a unit of the Irish National Volunteers, the paramilitary wing of the Irish Parliamentary Party, the Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, April 1915

John Redmond is probably one of the more divisive figures in Irish history and rightly so. The patrician head of the Irish Parliamentary Party whose followers eulogised him with an almost messianic fervour while excoriating any and all critics he was the self-proclaimed “leader of Nationalist Ireland” who bullied and cajoled thousands of young Irish men into sacrificing their lives in the service of the British Empire from 1914-18. While opposing “militant” nationalism at home he was a devout defender of British militarist nationalism abroad, a committed if “devolutionist” imperialist whose desire for Home Rule was driven as much by self-serving political ambitions as justice for the Irish people as a whole. Like his followers Redmond believed that Ireland was the personal fiefdom of the Irish Parliamentary Party and acted accordingly. Dissent was rarely tolerated and when rival forces arose, like the disparate Irish Volunteers in 1913, they were quickly appropriated or side-lined.

His conservatism shaped his political, economic and social world-view. Limited autonomy for Ireland within the so-called United Kingdom based upon exploitative class lines little different from that under the existing British administration allied to the diktats of the Roman Catholic church. The conformist, anti-pluralist state shaped in the 1920s by the Irish counter-revolution and the political forerunners of Fine Gael was in many ways the embodiment of Redmond’s constitutional ambitions, albeit with considerably more independence than he would perhaps have felt comfortable with.

So given John Redmond’s deplorable track record on the separation of church and state, women’s rights, employee rights, opposition to comprehensive health and social care, and generally early 20th century “neo-liberal” socio-economic outlook it is surprising to see Rónán O’Brien, a Labour Party activist and former advisor to several Labour ministers in government (at the cost of €114,000 per annum, a chairde!), defending Redmond’s tarnished political legacy in the Irish Times. Albeit in a self-defeating manner:

“It is not difficult to understand why a man who called on Irish nationalists not only to defend the island of Ireland during the first World War but to volunteer for the British army has been written out of a national narrative based on Easter 1916.

It is not difficult to see either how a man whose Irishness was matched by an affinity to the British Empire was forgotten in independent Ireland.

And it is not difficult to see how a man hostile to women’s suffrage (unlike his brother) would be disregarded by at least half our population.

But none of these things should detract from the contribution made by him and his party to Irish independence.”

Actually, I think you’ll find that they should. And do.

Helpless In Gaza

An Sionnach Fionn:

A thought-provoking view on the dreadful events in Occupied Palestine… from Occupied Ireland.

Arna chéadfhoilsiú ar Keeping An Eye On the Czar of Russia:

Israel-Palestine is a subject I have avoided for years. For a serious newspaper columnist or a humble Blogger, its a thankless task to try and analyse that particular conflict. History is about “nuance” and the partisans of Israel and Palestine just don’t do “nuance”. You are either “with us” or “against us”. It scares people. It scares journalists and academics as every word is scrutinised for some kinda ethnic defamation.

For LetsGetAlongerists, Peace Journalists and Conlict Resolutionists…there is “right and wrong” in every conflict. And for Historians also. But the thing is that the blame for war is not 50-50. Can we really say that on 1st September 1939, the Poles were as much to blame as the Germans? Can we really say that on 7th December 1941 the Americans were as much to blame as Japan?

Oh yes ..there IS Nuance. But ultimately it is not an equal share…

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Scottish Referendum Poll Shows Yes Vote Gaining Ground

Alba Gu Brath - Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinbugh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

Alba Gu Brath – Scotland Forever. Thousands attend Scottish independence rally, Edinbugh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)

The latest TNS BMRB poll in Scotland is showing a small if significant rise in support for the pro-sovereignty Yes side in the run-up to the September referendum on Scottish independence. When “undecideds” are stripped out the anti-sovereignty No vote has dropped to 56% while the Yes vote has increased to 44%, a 3% jump since the last poll in June. In part the rise in support for the SNP-led proposition is the growing popularity of independence amongst British Labour Party supporters in Scotland despite the party’s fierce opposition to constitutional progress. The latest poll is being interpreted as a sign that voters are now firming up in their preferred choices on the referendum question.

Name The Kincora Abusers

 

The bizarre sight of an Israeli flag in a British Unionist area of Belfast flying above a British terrorist banner and Britain’s national flag, Ireland

For the first time an allegation long made in private has been stated in public: a senior member of the largest political party representing the British Unionist community in the north-east of Ireland and a current minister in the regional executive in Belfast was once an associate of Tara, a would-be British terrorist grouping founded in the 1960s by the notorious paedophile, Orange Order chaplain and British-Israelite occultist William McGrath. The latter individual is indelibly linked with the Kincora Boys’ Home Scandal, the Belfast care home where vulnerable children were “ritually” abused by McGrath and suspected members of Britain’s political establishment flown in for the occasion, not to mention others linked with the paramilitary police, armed forces, intelligence services and various militant factions.

McGrath’s organisation seems to have been part of a wider if loosely organised network of paedophiles in Britain from the 1950s to ‘90s whose more notable members have become familiar names in the controversies of recent months. He is also closely linked with the inception of the “Ulster-Scots” völkisch movement, in particular those who believe in a catalogue of pseudo-historical theories linking the Unionist community in Ireland with the ancient Pictish peoples of eastern Scotland and the Lost Tribes of Israel. If all this sounds very Dan Brown I suggest that you employ Google or Bing for yourself to discover more. The truth is more fantastical – and worrying – than any novel. Religious fundamentalism meets ultranationalism with hefty doses of colonial racism and fringe academia thrown in. And in this case made subservient to the physical and sexual exploitation of children.

The Irish and British media will remain silent on this one. But for how long?

The Irish State Versus The Irish Language

Irish rights activists protest in Dublin at the controversial decision the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government to appoint ministers dealing with Irish-speaking communities and citizens who have little to no ability in Ireland's national language, 2014

Irish rights activists protest in Dublin at the controversial decision by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government to appoint ministers dealing with Irish-speaking communities and citizens who have little to no ability in Ireland’s national language, 2014 (Íomhá: Irish Times)

More on the controversial decision by the Fine Gael-Labour coalition to appoint two government minsters to departments dealing with Irish-speaking communities and citizens both of whom have little to no ability in the language despite the fact that a number of their colleagues are fluent speakers. The now familiar hostility and apathy towards our indigenous language and culture by the government parties could hardly be any more pointed. From the Irish Examiner:

“Taoiseach Enda Kenny provoked uproar in the Dáil when he insisted that appointing two ministers to the Gaeltacht Department who did not speak Irish would inspire other people to learn the language.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams branded the decision to promote Heather Humphreys to Cabinet rank in the portfolio, and make Donegal TD Joe McHugh her junior — despite neither of them having much grasp of Irish — as a “backwards” step.

Mr Adams said the situation was made even more bizarre by the fact that the other junior minister in the portfolio did speak fluent Irish, but was not responsible for any Gaeltacht issues.

“It is evidence of the disregard that the Government has for the Irish language,” Mr Adams said.”

From the Irish Independent:

“Mr McHugh defended his lack of Irish by saying he did live close to a Gaeltacht region in Donegal.

Under questioning from Irish speaking politicians, Mr McHugh said he understood their questions but did not have the confidence to reply in Irish.

The Donegal TD and the newly appointed senior Minister in the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, Heather Humprheys, struggled with the native language during their first Dail debate.”

From the Donegal Democrat:

“Conradh na Gaeilge staged a wild cat protest outside the Department of the Taoiseach earlier today to oppose the appointment of Donegal TD Joe McHugh as the the new Minister of State for the Gaeltacht.

The protest was prompted by the fact that the Donegal TD is not proficient in Irish.

Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge said: “10,000 people marched on February 15 in Dublin for fairness and equality for the Irish language and Gaeltacht community.

“The Taoiseach should therefore, even at this late stage, assign responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs to another Minister of State who has previously demonstrated their proficiency in the Irish language, such as the Minister of State Aodhán Ó Riordáin who is already assigned to the Department Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, or appoint an additional person who is proficient in the language, such as the Teachta Dála Seán Kyne or someone else.”

According to Conradh na Gaeilge this is the first time since the establishment of the State that the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht is not proficient in the Irish language.

“This further lowers the status of the Irish language and the Gaeltacht community when taking into account that there was a Senior Minister proficient in Irish with responsibility for the Gaeltacht in the last Government, that this was lowered to a Minister of State with a proficiency in the language in the new Government in 2011, and that this is to be lowered yet again by this Government in its appointment of a Minister of State without proficient Irish, and by furthermore assigning another responsibility to him (i.e. natural resources). All this displays a total lack of prioritising the needs of the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community in the agenda of the current Government,” Conradh na Gaeilge stated.”

Twenty-six Irish language scholarship students from Canada and the United States, 2014 (Íomhá: Galway Advertiser)

While elsewhere in the country, via a report by the Galway Advertiser:

“Nineteen Canadian and seven American Irish language learners were presented with awards at Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in An Cheathrú Rua in the Galway Gaeltacht recently.

Awards were also presented to six Irish language instructors selected by the Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF) to teach Irish at a range of locations across Canada for the academic year 2014-15.

These awards are the result of ongoing collaboration developed by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has developed with ICUF and the Ireland-United States [Fulbright] Commission for Educational Exchange. They reflect the deep interest in the Irish language in the United States and Canada where, every year, many Irish language learners choose to attend courses at the National University of Ireland, Galway Galway, An Cheathrú Rua and other venues. The awards are financed in partnership with universities and institutions in both Canada and the United States.”

It seems that if you speak the Irish language, and wish to do so while being treated with respect and equality, anywhere but Ireland is the place to be…

Irish-Speakers Lie Down!

Fine Gael - No Irish

Fine Gael – No Irish!

If there is a nation anywhere on the planet more ashamed and embarrassed of its own existence, of its very language and culture, than Ireland then I think we need to hear of it. Only the modern Irish could disdain their millennia-old identity in pursuit of some nebulous form of Anglo-Americanism. Only the modern Irish could set about completing a process of ethnocide begun in colonial invasion and annexation several centuries ago. It is sad. It is laughable. It is truly an Irish joke. The faltering Fine Gael-Labour coalition has announced that the new minister for Irish-speaking regions and the Irish language in general will be the non-native, non-fluent English-speaking politician Joe McHugh. Yes, that’s right, the government official ultimately charged with matters relating to Irish rights and services will be someone with barely any grasp of the language those rights and services should be offered in.

From Seán Tadhg Ó Gairbhí in the Irish Times:

“As rumours circulated this morning about the imminent elevation of Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh to the post of Minister of State at the Department of the Gaeltacht, Irish speakers reacted with a mixture of bemusement and anger.

By necessity they have become fluent in all known dialects of double-speak. When it comes to paying lip service to the language, our political classes have long since lost their capacity to surprise all but the most naive of Irish speakers.

Just last week the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste published a ten-page Statement of Government Priorities for the next two years. There was no mention of the Irish language or the Gaeltacht. The Irish language speaker is under no illusion about how the language is viewed by Government, and it’s been a long time since anyone made him feel like a priority.

But this was different. Nobody saw this one coming. Even as the rumours on twitter about McHugh’s appointment hardened into confident predictions, some clung to the notion that the correspondents in Leinster House must be mistaken. The idea that the Taoiseach would appoint a non-Irish-speaking “Minister for the Gaeltacht” seemed a bridge too far.

Well, they just did and we now have a Gaeltacht minister who doesn’t have enough Irish to conduct a credible live interview about Gaeltacht affairs with RnaG or Nuacht TG4.

Our politicians have often shown great ingenuity in finding new ways to undermine the language while simultaneously professing their unceasing commitment to its promotion, but for sheer audacity and shamelessness Enda Kenny has now set the bar higher than anyone imagined it could go.

The last pretence has been dropped.

“Lads, did ye hear the one about the Minister of the Gaeltacht who couldn’t speak Irish?” Essentially, that is what the Taoiseach is asking us while trying to keep a straight face.”

From Clare Cullen in the Irish Independent:

“This government have made some idiotic decisions since being elected but this one takes the cáca.

Enda Kenny has made the decision of appoint a ‘Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs’ “with a special responsibility’ for Gaeltacht matters” that openly admits his “conversational Irish certainly wouldn’t be great”.

To draw a parallel, this would be like me being appointed, in France, as a Minister for the preservation of French, with only school French. French that I haven’t spoken since I left school seven years ago and would then be expected to write, read and pass legislation in. Not only that, but the senior Minister in the Arts department, Heath Humphreys, has little or no Irish.

Sinn Fein’s Peadar Toibin pointed out that “for the first time Irish language documents would have to be translated into English” for the ministers and the department’s first language would now be English.

…to appoint a junior Minister for the Gaeltacht who openly admits he can’t speak it is beyond embarrassing. It’s amaideach.

Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív released a statement saying that “fluent Irish should be an absolute prerequisite for a Minister with responsibility for the language; without it they cannot adequately carry out their duties in Gaeltacht Affairs”. He should know – he was in charge of Gaeltacht Affairs from 1997 to 2010.

Conradh na Gaeilge Secretary General, Julian De Spáinn, said the Taoiseach “effectively reduced the status of the language” by not providing a Minister of State unable to “communicate with Irish speakers in their own language”.

The Journal.ie reported that when challenged in the Dáil, Kenny claimed that Joe McHugh would take a “refreshers course” in Irish and RTE reported that he booked a course through Oideas Gael in Glencolmcoille. The whole thing reads like an unaired Father Ted episode!

Enda Kenny’s record with the Irish language is very poor – or, at least, a cruel indifference. Remember when he proposed to remove Irish from the Leaving Cert as a compulsory subject?

Kenny has stopped even paying lip-service to the upkeep of the language with this appointment, deliberately ignoring the needs or wishes of  100,716 people (census 2011).

That number is only those living in Gaeltacht areas – there are many more Irish speakers living in non-designated Gaeltacht areas. Many of those who don’t even count Irish as a language they are fluent in still don’t want to see the language die – but the criminal indifference of the country’s leader to the upkeep, promotion and encouragement of the language will certainly see it faster to its grave.

The worst thing is that he knows he can get away with it. There will be a small amount of uproar from a niche group and he will just close his curtains while they protest outside – the same way the government did when the students protested. There isn’t enough people that really, really care to get a national response, and he’s taking full advantage of that. Even those that do care may feel that they shouldn’t protest unless they’re fluent, which is not the case. Ireland needs to show the government that we care about our national language and  support those that have taken it upon themselves to preserve it for the next generation.

Irish speakers are already fighting an uphill battle to keep the language alive. Pennies are spent on the provision of Irish language services (none of which are up to standard), the Gaeltacht areas are underfunded, undervalued and under-resourced. The national broadcaster has next to no Irish language programming and TG4 is half the station it should be…

Not only is it difficult but there have been cases of the language being illegal in parts of the country. The Belfast telegraph reported that in March this year, the national treasurer of Sinn Féin Poblachtach Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais was arrested and charged “under anti-terrorism legislation” by the PSNI for giving “his name and address in Irish when he was stopped by police”. Legally, in the Republic, you have the right to speak to a guard as Gaeilge but I would not feel confident that it would not be seen as being ‘difficult’.

Even if you don’t care about Irish, you should respect the right of Irish citizens to their national language.”

Meanwhile, and with hardly a murmur from the dominant Anglophone media, the coalition policy of starving Irish-speaking communities and citizens of resources claims yet another organisational victim. From The Journal:

“SIX STAFF AT an Irish language board have been laid off as the board has decided to close Comhdáil Náisiunta.

The Irish language support centre says that the decision was made after government funding was withdrawn.

The decision to close the centre, which was founded in 1943, was made at a meeting in Dublin last night.

In a statement, the centre says that it had taken the decision “with a heavy heart”.

President of the National Council Deirbhile Nic Raith commended the “professionalism of the staff, and the great work carried out on behalf of the language for over 70 years”.

She said that the work done by the congress had made it a key organisation in the Irish language movement.”

In case you don’t understand the message from the ruling Fine Gael and Labour parties and the Irish state as a whole it is an easy one to summarise: Irish-speakers lie down!

Britain’s Legacy In Ireland, 800 Years In The Making

A British Unionist and Orange Order bonfire decorated with sectarian and racist messages, Ireland, July 2014

A British Unionist and Orange Order bonfire decorated with sectarian and racist messages, Ireland, July 2014

Pictured above is an “Eleventh Night” bonfire, one of many dozens erected across the north-east of Ireland by usually adolescent members of the British Unionist minority to commemorate a series of 17th century Protestant British victories over Catholic British and Irish opponents during localised conflicts in the pan-european War of the Grand Alliance. In Ireland the primary struggle, known as Cogadh an Dá Rí or “War of the Two Kings”, reasserted Britain’s colonial rule over the island nation and the association of militant Protestant fundamentalism with Britishness. As is now the (controversial) tradition in some districts the bonfire is “decorated” with a number of sectarian, racist and homophobic symbols and slogans aimed at those deemed outside or anathema to British ethno-national culture and identity.

Starting from the top of the pyre we have:

A number of Irish flags, both current and historical, including the national flag of Ireland (commonly called the Tricolour), the Irish Harp flag (superseded by the Tricolour) and the Gal Gréine or Irish “Sunburst” banner, a symbol derived from indigenous literature.

A Palestinian flag (some British Unionists in Ireland believe in the pseudo-historical and messianic myth that their community or “folk” is descended from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel while others identify with contemporary  Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories).

A Rainbow or Gay/LGBT Pride flag, homosexuality and gender-realingment being widely viewed as a biblical abominations by Protestant fundamentalists amongst the Unionist minority.

Various banners painted with political acronyms and slogans:

Keep Antrim Tidy = KAT = Kill All Taigs “Kill All Irish/Catholics”

We’re Not Racist We Just Don’t Like Cotton-Picking Niggers / We’re Not Racist, Just Don’t Like Niggers

I Ran Away = IRA = Irish Republican Army

[With thanks to babeufinsiberia]

 

 

Commemoration as manipulation

Arna chéadfhoilsiú ar The Irish Republic:

Imagine the United States suspending Independence Day ceremonies for 36 years, or the French doing likewise with Bastille Day ceremonies. Imagine if the British government announced that, even for one year, there would be no Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph on November 11th. There would be national uproar in any of these countries. Yet, here in Ireland, just such a suspension occurred. There was no state ceremony to mark the 1916 Rising on what was then seen as the National Day of Commemoration, at the GPO on Easter Sunday, between 1971 and 2006 when it was reinstated.

By that time the idea of national commemoration had had its emphasis shifted away from remembering and commemorating the issuing of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic on April 24th 1916 and the week-long revolution that followed which fueled a partially successful War of Independence. In 1986 a new National Day of…

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The Reality Of War

Densely packed urban areas in the Gaza Strip subjected to aerial bombardment by Israel in contravention of international law, 2014

Philip Weiss links to a shocking and profoundly disturbing video of a Palestinian father unable to accept the killing of his young son during an Israeli military attack on a civilian population centre in the Gaza Strip. This the reality of Israel’s latest campaign against the besieged population of Gaza while supposedly countering the military forces of the Hamas-led government and assorted Palestinian insurgents. This will also be the consequence of Israel’s actions following the warning that a quarter of a million people living in northern Gaza have just 24 hours to flee their homes in gross violation of international law.

The atrocious murder of three Israeli teenage boys does not justify the murder of over a hundred Palestinian men, women and children. Especially when the vast majority of those men, women and children had nothing whatsoever to do with the former event. It is arbitrary and collective punishment of entire families and communities. So what is the difference between what Israel is doing now in Occupied Palestine and what Russia did in Crimea and is still doing in eastern Ukraine? Or what Assad is doing in Opposition-held Syria? Or what ISIS is doing in Syria, Iraq and Kurdistan?

 

The Calm Before The Storm

British Unionist and Orange Order supporters light huge bonfires across Belfast, Ireland’s second city, 2014 (Íomhá: Roghnú Glas)

The infamous Ku Klux Klan had – and probably still has – burning crosses. The equally infamous Orange Order has burning bonfires. The function of both is the same: celebration, defiance, intimidation. With “only” three ethnically motivated stabbings, scattered and desultory rioting, a handful of inter-communal clashes, minimal damage to property, shorter than previous road and street closures or diversions, several arrests and no police injuries it has been what is generally viewed as a “good” July 11th and 12th. The increased number and size of bonfires, complete with prominent sectarian and racist messages and effigies targeting Irish, Chinese-Irish, Polish-Irish and other communities, is considered a small price to pay. Not to mention the heavy preponderance of flags celebrating the KKK, various British terrorist organisations and British Army units noted for their participation in war crimes here in Ireland.

Last year the Orange Order refused to denounce violent protests by their supporters and the British terror factions dutifully followed suit and brought mayhem onto the streets. This year the Orange Order instructed that there be no violent protests by their supporters and the British terror factions dutifully stayed off the streets. However we are told that there are no links between both…

The view of Fitzjames Horse is the most honest opinion so far.

 

The Acceptable Face of Nationalism

An Sionnach Fionn:

British Nationalism and blood sacrifices…

Arna chéadfhoilsiú ar A Wilderness of Peace:

Nigel the Highlander

Video courtesy the Reverend .

“I was born in Inverness, I’m a passionate Highlander, and I love Scotland. I will take a stand to keep the United Kingdom together. I will give my life for my country as my grandfather did in the First World War. And his brother Charlie. Highland regiment! British Army! I am British forever! We will never, never change! We will keep our union together in the name of Jesus!”

Social media has erupted over Nigel Kirk Hanlin, whose appearance on Question Time’s final show recorded in Scotland before the referendum was certainly memorable in comparison to the usually fairly bland and tepid proceedings of the show. I really didn’t feel much desire to talk about him: he’s just like dozens of other No voters I’ve encountered along the campaign trail, with the same anger and repudiation of the “Nationalists” attempt to break up their…

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Rhetoric Should Take Second Place To Respect

The Gaza Strip under Israeli assault (Íomhá: The Guardian)

The Gaza Strip under Israeli assault (Íomhá: The Guardian)

The ongoing military operations being carried out against the civilian population of Gaza and Occupied Palestine as a whole by the Israeli defence forces and government in pursuit of Palestinian insurgents are dreadful and may well fall into the category of war crimes. However the use of deliberately egregious language to describe or condemn those operations, especially language that knowingly harks back to World War Two and the Third Reich, is not only offensive but counter-productive. Six million men, women and children from a Jewish background, however tenuous, died in the concentration camps or the killing fields of Europe between 1939 and 1945. To refer to an “Israeli blitzkrieg” on Gaza as An Phoblacht did today is to echo language normally used in relation to the Nazis. It is both insensitive and unnecessary. Likewise the Israeli government, however much it is influenced by sectarian and racist views, is not a “Zionist regime”. It is all the more ironic that this article comes from the newspaper of Sinn Féin, a party that sits in a regional power-sharing government in the north-east of Ireland with another grouping whose isolationist world view is not so far removed from that of the current governing parties in Israel.

A Sickness At The Heart Of Britishness

The once much-lauded British Unionist militant and notorious paedophile William McGrath photographed in his regalia as a

The once much-lauded British Unionist militant and notorious paedophile William McGrath photographed in his regalia as a “chaplain” of the Orange Order. Throughout the 1970s he procured the “ritualised” abuse of children for suspected members of the British military, police, judiciary, government and aristocracy

As Britain witnesses the revelations of a decades old culture of institutionalised paedophilia and sexual abuse within the heart of the state (seemingly encompassing the BBC, the lower and upper houses of parliament, the judiciary, the police and intelligence services, the “aristocracy”, and past – and possibly current – governments in London) it is worth remembering how the conflict in the north-east of Ireland was exploited to feed the baser vices of the ruling elites in our neighbouring island. The Blether Region, which normally focuses on issues relating to the Irish, Scottish and Scots English languages, has done an exemplary job in reminding us of the squalid nexus of sectarianism, terrorism, money and power as represented by the infmaous Kincora Boys Home Scandal. For ten years the “reverend” William McGrath, a fanatically anti-Catholic member of the Orange Order in Belfast, the founder of a would-be terror gang, a Far Right conspirator, and a believer in the myth of the Lost Tribes of Israel, worked with others in the 1970s to supply a chain of boys and youths for the “ritualised” pleasures of fellow Unionist leaders, members of the British armed forces, the intelligence services, and senior government officials (elected and otherwise). The list of those possibly involved seems to grow with every passing week as more information comes to light, primarily through the efforts of a few honest campaigners in Britain, and now Ireland, with the British news media lagging well behind (you can assume your own reasons for that). The latest post is here and should be read by all those concerned with just how incredibly dirty the “Dirty War” really was. Beyond even the reckoning of most of its protagonists.

When politics and religion, fantasies and ravings, are mixed together this is the result.

Syria’s Other War

The 12th century Krak des Chevaliers or قلعة الحصن‎ near Homs in Syria, under recent bombardment (Íomhá: BBC)

As if the dreadful loss in human life and untold misery inflicted upon tens of thousands wasn’t enough the internecine struggle in Syria now rivals the conflict in Iraq for the irreparable damage it has caused to the physical heritage of the Middle East and its many peoples. A thoroughly depressing report from the BBC:

“Syria, graced with thousands of historic sites, is seeing its cultural heritage vandalised, looted and destroyed by war…

In March the Syrian air force bombed the world’s best preserved Crusader Castle, the 12th Century Krak des Chevaliers in Homs province.

In November a mortar shell, fired from rebel-held areas in the north-eastern suburbs of the capital, Damascus, struck the priceless mosaics on the facade of the 8th Century Great Mosque – the spiritual heart of the city.

Among the 2,000-year-old remains of the Roman oasis city of Palmyra, to the north-east, the army has dug a road and earth dykes, and installed multiple rocket launchers inside the camp of the emperor Diocletian.

Further north, Aleppo’s Great Mosque, founded in the early 8th Century, has come under heavy fire. Its 50m-tall Seljuk minaret, a masterpiece of elegance dating from 1095, was considered one of the most important monuments of medieval Syria.

The minaret, whose height made it a useful rebel lookout and sniper position, collapsed as a result of shelling in March 2013.

Aleppo’s souks, dating back in parts to the 13th Century, were considered the finest of any in the Middle East, with more than 12km of winding alleys. Not just a major tourist attraction, they represented the beating heart of the commercial city, founded in the 2nd Millennium BC.

Free Syrian Army rebels established a headquarters in a bath-house near the old souk, making it a target for bombardment.

The Old City of Homs suffered more aerial bombardment than any other city in Syria. Many ancient buildings, including several active churches and monasteries, were flattened. Umm Al-Zinnar Church boasted a relic from the belt of the Virgin Mary.

Far to the south, the 2nd Century Roman amphitheatre of Bosra, once the capital of the Roman Province of Arabia, is concealed within a 13th Century fort not far from the Jordanian border. It has been occupied during the current fighting by army snipers and shabiha militia, its windows piled with sandbags, firing at rebel pockets in the Old Town of Bosra.

The famous tells or archaeological mounds of Mesopotamia – rich repositories of man’s earliest history once carefully dug by the likes of Agatha Christie’s archaeologist husband Max Mallowan – are now systematically being plundered with heavy machinery to fill the coffers of Islamist militant group Isis. While some ancient artefacts are traded for weapons or cash, others that represent humans or animal gods are seen by Isis as heretical to Islam and destroyed.

Isis has also bulldozed statues of lions along with Sufi and Shia shrines in the Raqqa province, the militant group’s headquarters.”

Whatever about removing modernist symbols of relatively recent oppression in various nations around the world, Queen Victoria in Ireland, Stalin in Ukraine, Pol Pot in Cambodia, using contemporary political or religious ideology to justify the destruction of ancient monuments indicates the facile nature of those beliefs.