Republican Socialist Prisoners thank IRSP-ALBA

December 20, 2011
The Republican Socialist Prisoners incarcerated in Portlaoise Gaol wish to express their Gratitude and Thanks to their Comrades in the Republican Socialist Movement in Scotland for their help over the past year.  We, the Prisoners, understand that it is difficult to express and promote the RSM principles against a hostile state so we would like to state that we are fully behind our comrades and support them in all their actions/protests/support and fundraising over the past twelve months.  We have taken great pride in what they are doing and their constant communication by cards and letters have given us great strength and belief  that we are not forgotton.  The RSM Prisoners hope that this will continue and wish to encourage all members in Scotland to feel free to communicate with us at any time as we will be grateful and happy to reply.  Again we, the Prisoners want to offer our heartfelt thanks for all their hard work and we hope that our comraderie will continue for as long as it takes.  Slan, PRO, Republican Socialist Prisoners, Portlaoise Prison, Co Laois, Ireland

Seamus Costello and the ‘Fifth column’

December 14, 2011

 

“The existence of support groups abroad, particularly in Britain, are of paramount importance to the success of our struggle.

The anti-Vietnam war movement in America succeeded in making the Vietnam war a live issue in domestic American politics and eventually played a major role in compelling an American withdrawal from Vietnam. We believe that the Troops Out Movement and the British trade union movement can play a similar role so far as Ireland is concerned. You have the potential to make the Irish struggle a live issue in domestic British politics, and this will ultimately be the key to success or failure in our struggle. For our part, we must accept the responsibility for overcoming the divisions that exist in the ranks of the anti-imperialist movement, and producing the organizational structures which will be capable of demonstrating to the world our determination to secure our own emancipation. If we fail to demonstrate the stature and vision that will be necessary to accomplish our goal we have no right to look for your support.

We are confident that the momentum of the past seven years can be maintained and that even if the leaders of the various revolutionary organizations are not capable of giving the necessary leadership in a rapidly changing situation, then new leaders will emerge from rank and file level to fill the vacuum. Too many sacrifices have been made for us to fail now, so let us move forward to victory. We have nothing to lose but our chains, and in breaking them, we also break those that bind you just as securely as us”

Address by Seamus Costello to the Troops Out Movement conference in the Mansion House, Dublin on September 18, 1976.


IRSP-ALBA Solidarity with the Political prisoners

December 5, 2011

IRSP-ALBA would like to voice its solidarity with the political prisoners in Maghaberry and Portlaoise. We totally condemn the treatment of the republican prisoners in Maghaberry which has been reduced a torture chamber since the refusal of the Prison administration to implement the August agreement of 2010. Prisoners are routinely beaten and abused by the screws. A section of the prisoners are on protest in response to their inhumane treatment at the hands of the prison administration.

There is an obvious media ‘blackout’ in relation to the prisoners in Maghaberry, we would urge all groups and organisations to do all they can to raise awareness of the prisoners’ suffering. If the media do not give this issue coverage then republican socialists must become the prisoners’ media. John MacLean knew only too well the inhumane treatment dished out to him as a political prisoner in Peterhead in 1918. Given his experience and his unwavering solidarity with Irish revolutionaries, we are confident that were John MacLean alive today he would be to the forefront of the Maghaberry prisoners’ struggle.

IRSP-ALBA would like to make it perfectly clear that we support ALL the political prisoners in Maghaberry as they are all working class people who are driven by their political beliefs. As one Republican Socialist Movement ex-Maghaberry prisoner stated recently:

“All the POWs are on protest in some form and are to be commended let’s not get into making a difference again please, it is hard enough in there at the minute. Good luck to all the POWs”.

Disunity on the prison issue can only play into the hands of Minister of Justice David Ford and the Loyalist Prison Officers Association. The Republican Socialist Movement is well aware of the British government using the jails to break the spirit of republican prisoners. In 1981 three members of the RSM gave their lives on hunger strike for better prison conditions. It is a clear sign of how little progress has been made when political prisoners in Ireland are forced to resort to protest in 2011 when faced with draconian and degrading strip searches.

Although there are no RSM prisoners in Maghaberry the IRSP has consistently been involved in the struggle within the Prison and has supported several demonstrations and pickets throughout this year which were held to highlight the on-going situation in Maghaberry. The prisoners’ demands are basic human rights:

1. End strip searches
2. Free Association

These issues were covered in the August agreement in 2010 which facilitated the use of an electric Boss chair which would scan the prisoners, therefore removing the need for degrading strip searches. Prisoners who refuse to comply with strip-searches have been savagely beaten by special prison riot squads. Free association was also guaranteed but the prison administration has reneged on these promises.

Everyone should be behind the republican prisoners no matter which shade of republicanism you belong to. It is a basic tenet of humanity that prisoners be treated with dignity. The only motive behind the disgusting degradation in Maghaberry is naked bigotry. Our comrades gave their lives in 1981 for better conditions and we will continue to fight for the prisoners on the outside. To do anything less would be to disgrace the memory of those who laid down their lives for their friends. As Patsy O’Hara said “Let the fight go on!”


IRSP-ALBA’s busy weekend!

December 1, 2011

On Saturday 26th November IRSP-ALBA held a question & answer session was held with Rab Collins (Ex-Blanketman and OC of the RSM prisoners during the 1981 hunger strike) and Paul Little (Ex-POW and IRSP Ard-Comhairle member).The meeting was well-attended and greatly received by all present. Rab gave an honest and moving account of his experience during the blanket protest and hunger strike. Rab’s account also had a number of more humorous points including an incident where a screw mistook him for a fellow employee inside a prison van! This was an opportunity for the RSM to publicise the experience of their prisoners in Long Kesh to a wider audience. Paul Little gave an excellent presentation on the politics of the IRSP and how this relates to republican socialists in Scotland. The support group were very pleased with the success of this discussion and plans are already underway to organise more of these sessions next year.

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On Sunday IRSP-ALBA had a strong contingent on the John MacLean Rally. This was the first outing for our new banner which many on the march complimented us on. At the assembly point of the march, our new edition of the ‘Workers Republic’ was distributed amongst the crowd. The march left from the grave of John MacLean at Eastwood Cemetery and finished at the MacLean memorial cairn in Pollokshaws. Our contingent and comrades from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! carried placards in support of the Maghaberry political prisoners. At the social function afterwards the following short statement was read out:

“The members of IRSP-ALBA would like to extend a message of solidarity to the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (SRSM) and all those here in attendance at the 2011 commemoration of John MacLean.

John MacLean was a great hero of the working class and deserves to be remembered as such. We pay tribute to MacLean as a defender of the poor and exploited both in Scotland and in Ireland.

Today in Maghaberry, prisoners are subjected to archaic and draconian conditions which are designed to break their spirit. John MacLean also faced similar treatment as a political prisoner in Peterhead prison. This shows the British government have consistently used their jails to suppress the working class. However, just as MacLean was not broken, neither will they break the spirit of the political prisoners in Maghaberry.

Comrades, we must maintain the links between the Scottish and Irish working class in order to promote our shared aspiration of a socialist republic in both our respective nations”.
Scotland out of Britain! Britain out of Ireland!

The IRSP-ALBA support group would like to thank everyone who helped with both our educational discussion and our participation in the John MacLean rally. We have ended the year on a high and we look forward to working with all republicans and socialists in 2012.
Saoirse Go Deo!


IRSP-ALBA Defends The Starry Plough !

November 13, 2011

IRSP-ALBA urges the Irish community in Scotland to defend our right to fly the Starry plough. The flag has been subject to blatant repression by Strathclyde Police for a sustained period of time. The original Starry Plough flag, first used by Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army, does not attract the same harassment given to those who fly the contemporary blue and white Starry Plough. This is,no doubt, due to a lack of education and knowledge on the part of Strathclyde Police.

The original Starry Plough was created by William Megahey of Belfast and first exhibited by the Irish Citizen Army on April 5th 1914. The Citizen Army raised the flag over the Imperial hotel in Dublin during the Easter rising of 1916. The hotel was owned by the arch-capitalist, William Martin Murphy, who fought against the strikers during the Dublin Lock-out of 1913.

In 1934 the Republican Congress decided to design a new version of the Starry Plough flag. This flag consisted of white stars on a blue background. This new design was used by the Irish Labour Party and the Irish Transport & General Workers Union, in addition to many other groups on the Irish left. This particular design of the Starry Plough is the contemporary flag which is used by Republicans and Socialists today.

For several years Strathclyde Police they have targeted the Starry Plough flag at Republican marches and demonstrations in Scotland. Their excuse for this harassment has varied over a period of time. Theypreviously claimed that the flag represented a ‘paramilitary group’ or rather bizarrely claimed it was sectarian! Now their main objection, to quote the Strathclyde police, is that “it could be seen as provocative”. This new reason for attempting to prevent people from flying the flag indicates how desperate they are to justify this blatent and illegal censorship. Due to the fact that there is no Flags & Emblems legislation in Scotland, there is no such thing as an ‘illegal flag’.

The Union Jack which is present above every official government building in Scotland is universally regarded as not only offensive but provocative by all those who know the bloody and imperialist history of the ‘butcher’s apron’. The fact they have resorted to claiming that the Starry Plough flag may ‘cause offence’ proves that it is an act of desperation, as they have no legal basis in their attempts to prevent anyone from displaying it.

The point the Irish Republican Socialist Party would like to make is that there is absolutely nothing about the flag that could be judged as ‘offensive’ in it’s design which includes a blue background and seven white stars in the form of Ursa Major or the Big Dipper. The Starry Plough is the accepted flag of Irish socialism and the Irish working class. It has been used by an array of political organisations in Ireland including the Irish Labour party. Trade unions in Ireland also carry the Starry plough on demonstrations and picket lines. The claim by Strathclyde Police that the flag has associations with so called ‘paramilitary organisations’ is absolutely false, not least due to the fact that the modern Starry Plough was created in the 1930s, which quite obviously predates the Irish conflict from 1969 onwards.

For too long people have accepted Strathclyde Police’s de facto ban on this flag, it is now time to defend the Starry Plough and the history behind it! We are in the midst of an economic crisis and now more than ever it is appropriate to display the symbol of Irish socialism. We have pointed out that there is no legislation banning the flag, so the Police in Scotland have quite clearly no right to stop people from carrying it.

If we are to represent the Irish community in Scotland then we should not be denied the right to carry a universally recognised symbol that represents us as working class people, born in Scotland of Irish descent. We live in a time where our politics are being criminalised, only we can stop it! The flag of Irish socialism is neither offensive nor illegal. We are proud of the Starry Plough and we will not be intimidated from carrying it on marches or demonstrations and neither should anyone else who considers themselves Republican or Socialist. This censorship by Strathclyde Police is indicative of the animosity to both Republicans and Socialists alike in Scotland. It is a clear example of political policing in Scotland and makes a mockery of the idea that we live in a ‘liberal democracy’. If the Starry Plough flag is the subject of repression now, what will they decide to censor next?

Defend the flag, defend your politics! Our class is the working class. Our flag is the Starry Plough. Our enemy is foreign Imperialism and native capitalism!

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PSNI’s Political Policing Unacceptable – IRSP

October 21, 2011

PSNI’s Political Policing Unacceptable – IRSP
20 October 2011

The PSNI’s abuse of the stop and search powers comes as no surprise to the IRSP, or any other republican in Strabane. In a 12 week period from April to June the PSNI used their stop and search powers 756 times in the town turning the district into a mini police state.

This local statistic is only a small portion of the overall harassment of republicans opposed to the sectarian puppet executive sitting at Stormont.

The criminalisation of republicanism is well established and these stop and search tactics are only a small part in the over all strategy. In a week when the Stormont parties decided to drop the word “republican” from the term “dissident republican” it is very worrying to see these statistics released for Strabane.

Policing in the North of Ireland is far from normal, the PSNI remain a heavily armed occupation force. British intelligence services roam the North with impunity covertly causing division, confusion and gathering intelligence. The stop and search powers are only another weapon in the PSNI’s ever growing arsenal of oppression.

The PSNI’s community charm offensive is fooling no one. Our so-called reformed police force has to be properly placed within the capitalist hierarchy it exists to preserve. Their ultimate purpose is upholding the status-quo; there will never be community control over the PSNI. There can of course be nice people who happen to be members of the PSNI, but be under no illusion, these same people, when called upon, will smash the head of a worker on a picket line or lie under oath in a British court.

Criminalising republicanism has never and will never defeat it, it only solidifies our efforts to expose the treacherous hypocritical stance of those who pay lip service to the cause and those who would attempt to oppress us.

ENDS

   

 


Strabane Day of reflection on prison struggle

October 17, 2011

http://www.irsp.ie/news/?p=422

Strabane IRSP hosted a day of reflection and discussion based around the struggle for political status.

Saturday 15th October

Comrade Willie Gallagher of the IRSP opened the days discussions with a talk on how the INLA in the cages were formed after the split from the Officials in 74 and their struggle for recognition within the camp. He also talked about how the INLA in the camp constructed the tunnel that enabled the mass escape in May 1976.

Comrade Tony OHara, brother of INLA hunger striker Patsy OHara, gave a very emotional talk on the situation from late 1976 and his experiences on the blanket and during the hunger strike. And how the INLA POWs fought daily battles with prison staff and the Provisionals for recognition and respect.

Then comrade Willie Gallagher spoke on the struggles facing contemporary Republicans in Maghaberry. And explained the dangers of the British not immediately implementing the August Agreement in full. He also explained how the British are exploiting the divisions within Maghaberry and using the discontent to stall the implementation of the August Agreement. Comrade Gallagher also spoke of the dangers of backing Republican prisoners into a corner, how the British have learned nothing from past prison struggles, and where this could end up in the future.

Martin McMonagle, Gina McElroy and Paul Gallagher then gave a talk on how Republican Socialism is becoming more relevant to the everyday lives of the working class and gave a report on the building of the IRSP across the entire island