15 December 2005 Edition
A very British coup?
Several years ago British television screened a drama entitled "A very British Coup" wherein a democratically elected Prime Minister, played brilliantly by the Irish actor Ray MacNally, has his attempts at reform frustrated by a series of dirty tricks by sinister elements in the British establishment. The tricks are perpetrated in the main by corrupt civil servants, the print and television media and moles within the trade union movement who instigate industrial action to bring down the government.
Last week, the Irish News published an excellent series of articles under the heading "A good day to bury bad news" on the day the British Queen visited the North. The headline referred principally to the decision to drop all charges against three men on spying charges at Stormont. Further charges were dismissed against another man who, at the time of his arrest, the press trumpeted was in relation to the Northern Bank robbery, but was in fact not remotely connected to this investigation. This didn't prevent a docile press from repeating this as the truth.
The quiet dismissal of the charges is of no relevance except possibly to the men and their families, because the arrests achieved their primary purpose - a Coup d'Etat which overthrew the elected body negotiated by all the parties in an internationally binding agreement and which was endorsed by around 94% of the vote in this state.
Incredibly, neither the Sunday Times, which boasts long and hard about its record of investigative journalism and impeccable intelligence sources, or RTE's flagship political programme "The Week in Politics", gave a column inch or a conversational sentence to this topic.
As I write, the Minister for Justice is explaining to his listeners his function in upholding law and preventing subversion in this state. Sceptical readers may ponder that it depends on who exactly is engaged in subversion?
As the band Moving Hearts sang memorably in the song "No Time For Love":
"They call it the law, we call it apartheid, internment, conscription, partition and SILENCE."
US troops in Shannon
Joe Murphy of the USA wondered aloud in Mála Poist (1 December) why Irish republicans are opposed to the use of Shannon Airport by US troops.
Assuming that Mr Murphy is a republican sympathiser (Irish style) he should probably be able to answer that question himself. But just in case - Irish republicans are opposed to the interference of any foreign power (not just Britain) into the affairs of any other nation, including Iraq.
Irish republicans have no problem with 'American servicemen and women of any race, nationality or rank' as long as they stay where they're supposed to be - America.
Pádraig Ó Meiscill
I am writing in response to Joe Murphy's letter regarding US troops in Shannon airport. Mr. Murphy apparently has confused neutrality with disrespect. As one of the nearly 100 million Americans opposed to Bush's neo-imperialist war I applaud An Phoblacht for exposing this violation of Irish sovereignty. It will be up to grass roots activists around the world to end this war as our various leaders won't - investigative reporting will be an integral part of that effort. Keep up the good work!
Question to the SDLP
Over the last thirty years many people have been involved in the struggle for Irish freedom. Some of us are still at it; others for different reasons are no longer with us. Some have given their lives in the pursuit of the Republic and I salute them. With them in mind I will do nothing to criminalise the cause for which they died.
I would therefore like to ask those Boys of the Old Brigade who stood with me but are now in the ranks of the SDLP if they agree with the present position of Mark Durkin? Do they believe he is right in that there should be a time frame to avail of the OTR legislation? Will they be leading by example and putting themselves forward to admit their role in the military struggle? Will they be looking for a criminal record and how will that affect their places on policing boards, district partnerships or indeed in business?
I am deeply proud of my role in the struggle and I will never accept the name criminal anymore than those who spent long years on the blanket. I will never do anything that would in any way criminalise Bobby Sands. Any time the police want to knock at my door they can do so but I will not be co-operating in any scheme that attempts to criminalise the republican struggle.
To those within the SDLP who were involved in military actions either you should publicly or privately tell Mark Durkin he is wrong in his pursuit of political gain on the back of those who so nobly served the struggle for freedom in our country. If they do not believe it was a noble struggle then they should go and get themselves a criminal record.