New IRSP Alba Workers Republic Newletter for all those who did not receive a copy!
Three masked gunmen have fired a volley of shots over the coffin of former INLA prisoner and IRSP activist Seamus ‘Chang’ Coyle this morning.
The coffin was outside the wakehouse in Rosemount Gardens when three uniform and masked gunmen fired up to a dozen shots into the air. The gunmen disappeared back into the nearby streets.
His funeral cortage then left for 10am Mass at St Mary’s Church in Fanad Drive, Creggan, before burial in City Cemetery.
The Starry Plough flag was displayed over his coffin as it made it’s way to the Cemetery.
Chang died at the weekend after a short illness.
On International Women’s Day 2012 a discussion was held in West Belfast’s Conway Mill about the on-going political internment of Marian Price. Bernadette McAliskey emphasised the illusion of normalisation by stating that this sort of meeting should not be taking place in 2012 and that the Six County state was supposed to have embraced democracy. Another of Bernadette’s salient points was that people who are appealing to Sinn Fein to exert their influence to release Marian Price were deluding themselves. Sinn Fein as part of the Stormont executive are now administrators of so called British Justice in Ireland. Although made with good intentions, the appeal for figures such as Raymond McCartney to act on this issue is made from a sentimental point of view and because of past injustices faced by McCartney as a political prisoner. However Republicans will be aware of how former comrades have been quick to turn their back on revolutionary principles once part of the establishment. Eamonn De Valera who fought in Easter week and took the Republican side in the Irish Civil War, later as Taoiseach condemned Republican prisoners to death on hunger strike and execution. As Bernadette said “There is no point in guilt-tripping people who did not use to be in the government. They are now”. To appeal to the administrators of British rule in Ireland to help our imprisoned comrades is naive at best and ridiculous at worst. Sinn Fein has consistently said that they are ‘working in the background’ on both the issues of the internment of Marian Price and the brutal conditions in Maghaberry. ‘Working in the background’, what does this mean? The working class people of nationalist communities are not working in the background. On the contrary, working class people are taking to the streets in their thousands to demand an end to British brutality. A similar situation existed last year when former Republican Prisoner Brendan Lillis was subjected to a calculated regime of torture as a terminally ill man. Sinn Fein ‘worked in the background’ and shamefully tried to claim credit for Brendan’s eventual release. The truth is Brendan Lillis was released as a result of the massive campaign of agitation on the streets by Irish working class.
Political commentators such as Eamonn McCann has stated that there is a humanitarian aspect to these issues and that this should be promoted to appeal to the broader support. This approach would undoubtedly increase the number of people involved in the protest movement. However by broadening the campaign to entice the ‘moderate’ elements of our society we run the risk of allowing them to take control. Yes, there is a humanitarian aspect to Maghaberry and the internment of Marian Price but there is also a much larger political agenda. The torturous conditions and political internment emphasise Britain’s imperialist role in Ireland and their continuing war against the Republican people. This is why any attempt to broaden the base of the campaign for the Maghaberry prisoners must include an acceptance that the prisoners are political prisoners. They are also Prisoners of War because as previously noted Britain continues to wage war against the Irish people through both overt and covert means. A recognition of this fact will lead to a better understanding of why, in 2012 the British government is getting away with torture and political internment. Some people speak of the need to involve the wider community such as the clergy and the SDLP. Now support for the prisoners’ demands is a positive force but we should be careful that this ‘support’ from non-republican quarters does not culminate in the protest movement being hijacked. The Catholic church and the SDLP have an appalling record as far as Irish political prisoners are concerned. During the period of 1976-81, both the clergy and the SDLP undermined Republican prisoners and refused to unreservedly recognise them as political prisoners and support their 5 demands. Richard O’Rawe as PRO of the Republican prisoners of Long Kesh, exposed the undermining role that the SDLP and the Catholic church had played in a statement which announced the end of the hunger strike on October 3rd 1981:
“By this time, a new, active, treacherous, and vigorous campaign was under way to break the strike. This campaign was orchestrated by clerics who received approval from the Catholic church. On occasion other individuals were involved also….Attempts were made to discredit us prisoners and the National H-Block/Armagh Committee. More damaging was the promotion of the ‘hopeless’ syndrome.”
O’Rawe also identified the SDLP as ‘imperialist lickspittle’; this label is as accurate now as it was in 1981. Any sort of ‘work in the background’ that either the SDLP or Sinn Fein (these days, it’s difficult to make a distinction) undertake is purely for political gain. The current situation in Maghaberry and Hydebank dictates that you are either in support of political prisoners or you are an apologist for British institutions of torture.
Former British General Frank Kitson articulated British counter-revolutionary policy in Low-intensity operations by admitting the existence of the strategy to neutralise the revolutionary sections of the community and promote the more moderate elements. The British government continue to employ this strategy as they know that they can contain and control those moderate elements. In Monsignor Raymond Murray’s The SAS in Ireland, British intelligence are believed to have drafted the list as part of “Operation RANC”, which was set up after the assassination of Airey Neave. Neave was a key Tory party figure, with links to British intelligence and is believed to be one of the “puppet-masters” that put Thatcher in charge of the Tory party and later Britain. Because the INLA carried out the bombing that killed Neave, Thatcher’s government sought revenge on the INLA and its IRSP comrades. Members of the National H-Block/Armagh Committee who were members of the IRSP and INLA were systematically assassinated in their homes by secret death squads. There is widespread belief that the British contributed either directly or indirectly in their deaths because of their involvement in the prisoners’ campaign. This was part of a coordinated campaign to remove the perceived radical voices in the National H block/Armagh committees. This explains why Marian Price is being interned by the British government. Bernadette nailed this on the head when she said “She is not there because of anything she did or did not do, she is there because of who, and what she is”. We must be careful that agitation on behalf of the prisoners does not become led by these moderates which would lead to this agitation being derailed.
The people to lead the prisoner protest movement are the comrades, families and friends of those who are incarcerated. These are the people who have suffered the loss of their loved ones and friends and have consistently appeared on white line pickets, rain, hail or shine. They are also working class people who face the daily harassment of the PSNI. They are the people who will continue the fight to ensure their comrades are not forgotten. This is why people should apply caution when broadening the campaign, as the political opportunists and reactionary forces do not have these shared experiences and will stop short in order to reach a naive compromise with their British imperialist masters. Support for the prisoners should remain directed by the grassroots activists who have consistently taken to the streets. Of course we want to encourage as many people as possible to demand an end to internment and to expose the inhumane treatment of the prisoners. But we must be careful not allow the campaign to be hijacked and subsequently derailed. The Irish working class people will unwaveringly carry on the fight for their imprisoned comrades.
“The Irish working class are the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for freedom in Ireland.” – James Connolly
Power to the Political prisoners! Power to the People!
International Brigades Commemoration
On Friday the 17th of February 2012 a delegation from The Belfast Cultural and Local History Group and Teach na Failte, the Republican Socialist Ex-Prisoners Support Group, travelled to Madrid to take part in the 5th annual march around the Battlefield of Jarama. This event coincided with a number of other events that the above two Groups have been involved in over the past eighteen months and the second time that they have visited Spain in recognition of The International Brigades who fought against Fascism. As there were a large number of volunteers who fought and died during the Spanish conflict of 1936 to 1939 the two Groups believed that it was important to try and keep their names and memories alive. It was a bloody and brutal war between Socialists and Fascists with many volunteers from a variety of different countries including Ireland falling in the battlefields throughout Spain. The Jarama Valley is one of broken hills and ridges, a terrain that is rough and sparse, dotted with olive trees and vines and the scene of bitter fighting in 1937.
After our arrival and initial degree of site seeing we prepared ourselves for the first event of the weekend. This was to be held in an historic building called the CAUM, where among other things two lectures where to be held. On entering the building there was a relaxed atmosphere with some comrades meeting for the first time although they had been in contact with each other through the web regularly, while others were exchanging names and experiences. The first lecture was given by Dr David Margolies on the English brigader Christopher Caudwell while the other was given by the Author Hugh Purcell, whose work on Tom Wintringham, The Last English Revolutionary: A Biography of Tom Wintringham 1898-1949, has been revised and extended for re-publication in May. The timing of Hugh Purcell´s talk is particularly fortunate, as Tom Wintringham’s own book English Captain (Un Capitán Inglés, Akron, 2009) has recently been translated into Spanish. It’s relevant to state that everything was spoken in the two languages while one of the female interrupters actually welcomed us in Irish . There was also a very interesting slide show to compliment the lectures and a well stocked stall of merchandise available for participants to add to their collections. When the Lectures were finished it was time to make new acquaintances, renew friendships and relate to others what different groups and individuals had achieved over the last year in support of the International Brigades who fought in the Spanish Civil War.
The following day started early with a bus journey to battlefield at Jarama, a healthy three quarters of an hour’s drive away. Approximately 300 participants, including 100 from Ireland and Britain, did the yearly Jarama walk. On the battlefield we followed in the footsteps of the XV International Brigade and seen some of the main landmarks of the battle. It was a day full of information and emotions under a magnificent sun. Everyone enjoyed the walk and while the excellent guides informed us of its history each soaked up their own imaginations and thoughts of what happened there while visiting the tunnels and outposts. Our own Delegation took great interest in the history and exploits of the men who fought on that Battlefield as we incorporate some of their histories as part of the Groups own tour of Spanish Civil War related sites around Belfast. After the tribute to the combatants at the impressive monument to the XV International Brigade in Morata, there was also an opportunity to visit the Charlie Donnelly memorial nearby. We then went down to the battlefield museum to unveil the new contribution , a statue made by Goyo Salcedo, founder and soul of the museum, using as material remains of shrapnel and debris collected in the battlefield. After this moving ceremony – where Nils Wintringham, grandson of the “English Captain,” read his stunning poem “Monument” – we went to the brotherhood lunch which is held annually at the Meson El Cid. Our own joint delegation had brought with us a small plaque of Ballymacarrett volunteer Brigadista William “Liam” Tumilson who fought and died at Jarama. We were able to present and donate the plaque personally to the curator where he proudly placed it in a glass case close to other photos of fallen Brigadistas. This was a very proud moment for our delegation. After the hectic schedule of the day there was a small social gathering that night in a little bar where everyone there where now friends and who only had one the interest, the Spanish Civil War.
On the Sunday the 19th there were two acts: in the morning there was an opportunity to go to Ciudad Universitaria to visit this other key battlefield in the defense of Madrid during the winter of 1936-1937, as well as to see the memorial recently inaugurated to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the formation of the International Brigades. Apart from telling the audience how the bombing of Madrid effected the district, the CEDOBI-supported by the AABI-organized a performance of painting in action: the artist Quijano painted in two hours time a mural of 6 meters long and 90 high alluding to the infamous bombing. The mural will be displayed in different places, among others in the college of Humanities of Albacete.
Unfortunately Monday came too soon and it was time to return home and leave our very valuable experiences behind us. The Belfast Cultural ad Local History Group and Teach na Failte have gained some very useful knowledge and experience that will help them in their future Projects. The Groups are now networking with the Spanish guides and similar Groups here in Ireland on future itineraries for events that they hope to attend. Irishmen fought and died in all the major battles in Spain and it is hoped to recognise their sacrifices at a later date. The visit was part of the Groups programme which has been set out to educate and encourage others to take a deeper interest in the history of the International Brigades and the men who fought in them as their history is our history both Protestant and Catholic and ownership belongs to both communities.
The Belfast Cultural and Local History Group and Teach na Failte ( Spanish Civil War Project )
IRSP Alba distributed the new edition of the IRSP’s Workers Republic newsletter at the Bloody Sunday Commemoration in Glasgow today. This edition contains articles on The Saville Report, and the current situation involving the political prisoners in Maghaberry.
The commemoration march made its way from Garnock Street to Glasgow Green where speeches were given from both a family member of one of those killed on Bloody Sunday, and the Celtic Commemorations Committee.
The IRSP has always supported the families of the victims of Bloody Sunday and will continue to remember those killed as a result of British imperialism in Ireland.
Saoirse Go Deo!