29 March 2007 Edition
Abolish Special Court
In regard to Seán MacGabhann’s letter last week regarding the Irish courts system. On 14 March I was sentenced to four years imprisonment in the juryless Special Court at Green Street, Dublin for IRA membership. The only evidence in this four-week trial was that a member of the Gardaí gave evidence that somebody told him I was a member of the IRA.
When I gave my evidence that I was not a member of the IRA, this kangaroo court told me merely that the Gardaí must be right and that I was a member of the IRA. Anyone who wishes to see an old style military court in action should go along to Green Street. For years this court has been railroading innocent Irish republicans into prison without any credible evidence.
On 15 December last year our Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, when asked to use the Special Court to deal with the rise in incidents associated with organised criminal gangs said it would be against their constitutional rights. But it’s OK to have put thousands of republicans through this kangaroo court!
This court has to be closed down with immediate effect and I hope that I will be the last innocent republican to be interned.
Michael McDowell must remember that in 1971 internment didn’t work and in 2007 it’s not going to work. He has to remember that republicans are the risen people, that we are no longer second class citizens. He will find this out in the next election.
How little the British army has changed
The British Government has been protesting internationally recently about the detention of 15 of their Navy personnel by the Iranian Authorities. They insist that there is no way that British personnel could have strayed into Iranian territory by mistake. They have produced (several days after the fact) maps, diagrams and pictures to support their claims. Oh, how little things have changed!
I’m sure that many republicans remember the countless British military helicopters, vehicles and foot patrols that “accidentally” strayed into 26 County territory over the years.
What a joy it was to leave your house in the morning only to be confronted by the hostile attitudes of armed British troops while helicopters swooped low overhead. Or to see a neighbour’s house deserted after a night-time visit, the owner “escorted” back over the border to an RUC barracks after his door was kicked in “by mistake”.
Is the British Military still as incompetent with maps as they formerly claimed or could this be an attempt by the British to provide an excuse to their US allies for military intervention in Iran? Perhaps we can expect to see a ‘rescue mission’ by allied forces in the near future.
Contae Chill Dara.
Fianna Fáil members complicit in gas giveaway
Members of Fianna Fáil are complicit in the huge giveaway of the country’s resources to big business that is involved in the Corrib gas scandal.
Money that should be collected for the health service and schools etc is going instead to Shell’s shareholders, and no one in this country will benefit from the exploitation of our oil and gas.
To draw attention this scandal, Shell-to Sea activists staged a protest at the recent Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis.
Protesters from Dublin Shell to Sea managed to evade the heavy security. The City West complex was surrounded by Garda checkpoints, and the public were excluded from the area around the hotel. Nevertheless, a small group of Shell to Sea activists, including members of Sinn Féin, set out to see how close they could get to the centre of Fianna Fáil power.
Despite being followed and photographed by the Special Branch, they managed to get close enough to the main door of the Ard Fheis venue inside the City West complex to hold a protest. A banner was unfurled and one protester spoke to conference delegates through a megaphone, pointing out that the people of Ireland were being forced by the government to watch as their natural resources were handed over to Shell and Statoil, with nothing coming back, while the people of Erris had to put up with the degradation of their environment.
The protesters, some of whom were wearing masks of Bertie Ahern and Noel Dempsey, were soon surrounded by Gardaí and security guards. The group’s megaphone was confiscated as were their cardboard masks, and they were manhandled into a Special Branch car and removed from the scene. Once again, the Gardaí preferred to use physical force rather than their power of arrest, kicking and punching the demonstrators before dumping them on the road outside the hotel.
The protest was an opportunity to make sure delegates were aware of the situation. Fianna Fáil supporters can’t any longer say that no one told them. Now they can’t plead ignorance and they have decide whether to speak up against this policy or go along with it.
The coming months will see large-scale activity at the disputed refinery site in Mayo, and local people in Rossport are preparing for continuous demonstrations. Activists in Dublin and around the country will be mounting solidarity protests- call or text 087 132 3369 for more info.