17 August 2006 Edition
'An Phoblacht' welcomes readers' letters. Letters in Irish or English should be kept short (no more than 200 words) and typed or handwritten clearly, double-spaced and on one side of the paper only. Name and address should be supplied for verification, but these will not be published if we are so requested.
Cuireann 'An Phoblacht' fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla. Is fearr litreacha gearra (200 focal ar a méid) clóscríofa nó lámhscríofa go soiléir ar thaobh amháin den leathanach. Cuir ainm agus seoladh leis ach ní fhoilseoimid iad seo más é do thoil.
1981 British embassy riot
I read with interest Jack Madden's letter (An Phoblacht 3 August). I do not believe the 1981 British Embassy riot was a result of republicans "spoiling for a showdown". Like many on that march I was apprehensive, having had my skull cracked in an unprovoked attack by a Garda in riot gear on a previous demo.
Many on the march suffered similar beatings and on that Saturday wore extra clothing, a helmet, a baton or something to protect themselves in the event of another Garda riot. Others came prepared for the worst, and yes some came prepared to start trouble.
The state was aware of the tension, frustration and anger building among the republican base, and among ever-increasing numbers of supporters of the Hunger Strikers. They had taken a conscious decision to face it down with all its might.
I travelled in from Sandymount, past the British Embassy, that morning, and I saw scores of the fully-armed soldiers taking up positions at the British Embassy. They were intent on protecting British property, with force of arms if necessary. They had permission to shoot anyone they believed to be a threat to the British Embassy. They weren't going to allow a repeat of the 'embarrassment' of 1972.
If the Garda cordon was set up 20 yards back, then a bottleneck wouldn't have occurred with up to 40,000 marchers heading for the embassy. It could easily have been filtered down Sandymount Avenue away from the embassy. This afforded an escape route to those who wanted to avoid trouble. There was none, because when the trouble broke out, the back of the march was still heading towards the front oblivious of what was happening.
The claim that it was an attack on Gardaí is not correct either. Many at the front got battered simply because they tried to remove the barriers, before any stone was fired in anger. Yes, in an ideal world it would have been more conducive to good publicity, and the future of the protest maybe, to have sat down and sang songs, but what happened, happened.
The actions of the Gardaí that day, the viciousness they displayed as they battered young and old, had a radicalising effect on many who were in attendance, giving rise to a determined republican movement.
Yes the mass movement of the day was undermined, but events as they unfolded also contributed to that. Unlike today we had no access to the media, who placed all the blame on republicans.
It was and always will be in my mind a Garda riot and it is a disservice to the many who were seriously injured that day or the thousands who were genuinely there to protest at Britain's intransigence and Dublin's indifference to call it an attack on the Gardaí.
There were no Gardaí in front of the courts for going berserk, attacking unarmed inoffensive pensioners, truck drivers or others walking away.
Twenty-five years on, I can admit the march could have been better stewarded, weapons should have been confiscated and maybe some of the leadership at the time should have been up the front to help dissipate the anger, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and it doesn't change the fact that the state had an agenda that day - to break the back of the H-Block/Armagh Committee in the state and "undermine their good work".
Is mise le meas,
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Lack of Irish in Hunger Strike pull-out
It has been great to see An Phoblacht give the amount of coverage it has to the decision by Sinn Féin to push a policy of Gaelicisation for the party over the next few years. So I must admit I was disappointed when I saw that the centre-page Hunger Strikes poster (3 August 2006) featured the English translation of a Bobby Sands quotation as opposed to the original Irish, namely:
"Mura bhfuil siad in inmhe an fonn saoirse a scriosadh, ní bheidh siad in inmhe tú féin a bhriseadh. Ní bhrisfidh siad mé mar tá an fonn saoirse, agus saoirse mhuintir na hÉireann i mo chroí. Tiocfaidh lá éigin nuair a bheidh an fonn saoirse seo le taispeáint ag daoine go léir na hÉireann 's ansin tchífidh muid éirí na gealaí."
In trying to advance the status of the Irish language, both within the party and in Irish society in general, the party's own media and press will be an essential component in the success of the project.
Is mise le meas,
Ciarán Ó Brolcháin,
British Troops Go Home
August 15 marked the 37th anniversary of the deployment of British troops on the streets of the north of Ireland. Since their deployment they have brought nothing but death and destruction to our streets. Early morning house raids, roadside beatings of nationalists and undercover shoot to kill operations are just some of their antics. 37 years on from their deployment the message is very clear: British troops go home.
Ógra Shinn Féin