2 February 2006 Edition
Fine Gael wrong on Ludlow
Brendan McGahon's appearance before the Seamus Ludlow inquiry is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Firstly he now admits he was wrong to blame the IRA for the killing of a fellow party member but, far from being outraged at having been so misinformed, he cannot even remember who it was that gave him this information.
Well let me try and jog your memory Brendan. The story of IRA responsibility has its origins with the British Army when they visited one of Seamus Ludlow's relatives in the days after the murder to place the blame on republicans. They were understandably anxious to distract the blame from their own agents and they had their pets in the Gardaí circulate the same story. And maybe even some of their pet politicians.
The sordid truth of this story is that yet again the 26 Counties had its sovereignty violated and its citizens murdered. The response of the state's security establishment was yet again to cover up for the perpetrators, acting against the interests and rights of their citizens and protecting the interests of a foreign power.
Your statement that the loyalists couldn't have been suspects because they were not active in the area flies in the face of the facts. Your position on the Ludlow murder and other events makes a mockery of your claims to have been standing for the Republic. You stood for nothing except British interests even in the face of the murder of a member of your own party.
So Peter Stringfellow is set to open a new club in Dublin. Understandably this has aroused a lot of controversy and there is no doubt that these kinds of establishments are inherently sexist. The question is how should people react.. I propose that the best approach to this issue is simply to ignore it. A storm of protest might be just the thing Stringfellow needs to promote his new club. Those attending would be able to take succour in laddish solidarity in the face of the "feminist blue dungaree brigade".
The reality is that those attending are slightly on the sad side. Let them sneak in anonymously to partake of their sordid night's entertainment, at least that way they have more of a chance of coming to realise just how pathetic they are.
If there was less controversy about these places and more of a consensus that the people attending are more to be pitied than scorned, it would take away the false element of glamour. These kinds of establishments are probably a fact of life, the real battle is in how they are contextualised.
Last week there was contrived controversy surrounding a proposal from the DPP to caution, rather than prosecute, cannabis users for possession of small quantities of the drug.
The proposal was withdrawn amid a predictable flurry of reactionary outrage typified by a shrill letter to the Irish Independent from a member of Fine Gael's national executive Sean McKiernan who echoed Michael McDowell in stating that "even the smallest amount of cannabis" is at the centre of a "web of death and mayhem". Such hyperbole suggests neither McDowell nor McKiernan realise that cannabis like other plants grows happily in soil without any need for involvement of criminal gangs.
Prosecutions for personal cannabis use is a violation of a citizen's right to privacy and a misuse of police and judicial time and resources. 70% of all drug related cases are for personal cannabis possession. This serves to alienate and criminalise a community which is otherwise among the most law abiding in the country, and to undermine respect for the law, particularly among young people, many of whom see through the ignorant piety of politicians, and who recognise the obscene hypocrisy of our tolerance for much more harmful drugs, namely alcohol and tobacco.
A crime without a victim should not be a crime, otherwise we get laws against things society considers immoral at any given time. Our previous ban on sodomy is a case in point, and it is my contention that there is no difference between outlawing personal cannabis use and personal sexual activity. In all such situations, the majority condemns a minority pursuit it doesn't understand and fears, the affected community moves underground, and the issue can be used periodically by the media and politicians to scandalise the ignorant majority, demonise the 'other', whip up fear and anger, win political power, etc.
I ask comrades to reflect on the right-wing stance Sinn Féin currently takes on this issue. I am willing to engage with anybody in this debate, either on these pages or via e-mail at [email protected]
ICTU and Partnertship
The decision of the ICTU to re-enter partnership talks is extremely ill advised. IBEC's backing of Irish Ferries managment in the re-flagging scandal should tell them all they need to know about the commitment of capital to any agreements they come to with the unions. Throughourt the partnership process business has proven to be a fair-weather friend, going along with the process when it suits and riding roughshood over workers rights when profit dictates.
Workers must rely on their strength and organisation and not the promises of fat cats. These people have come to regard unions with contempt viewing their participation in the one sided partnership as a sign of weakness. Workers should reject partnership and teach managment a bit of respect. With people being sacked for wearing a union pin the time is now.