26 May 2005 Edition
Look for what is possible
There are some who lament the increasing polarisation of our society in the recent elections in the North.
I would reject the theory that our society in the North of Ireland is more polarised now after the 2005 Westminster and local elections than it was beforehand.
It is the electors who choose their candidates. That is the basis of democracy. To insinuate that the electors got it wrong is most arrogant and judgmental. You may not like the results but that is democracy. The results present us with possibilities.
Secondly, the election results reflect the political allegiances and the political consciousness of the people at a given time. The fact that most nationalists/republicans voted Sinn Féin and the vast majority of unionists voted for the DUP in the 2005 election is a reflection of the political allegiances of the vast majority of people in our society at this time. If it represents a divided society we should acknowledge that and look for the possibilities of living with it and mending it. The reasons for the division are not hard to find in our history.
There are today in the Six Counties two distinct groups — those descended from the natives and those descended from the colonists. These are the people who vote unionist or republican. They live side by side. They get along. Sometimes they do not like each other. So what? They are no more polarised than ever they were.
The nationalists/republicans are more organised and more politicised than ever before. The unionists are more defensive and fearful. The possibility we must create now is that they will work together in a power-sharing government and in the all-Ireland institutions, thus enabling and empowering the two communities to work together and to live together for the good of everybody on this island.
This is better than bemoaning the fact that our society is now more polarised — a complete distraction which feeds into the Community Relations Industry.
It is time to think of the political and economic possibilities for the future, not for regrets about the results of the elections.
Eadarnaidh, Contae Fhear Manach.
The defacing of the Peadar Kearney memorial by a supporter of the Irish SWP (An Phoblacht 19 May) should be criticised. Their hostility to the National Anthem, something they share with the big-boss bourgeois PDs, should be expressed in some other manner.
With SWP supporters publicly condemning Reclaim the Streeters for defacing the James Connolly statue, the SWP should also criticise this action.
But don't hold your breath. The SWP's Eamonn McCann joined in the establishment's hysterical and un-historical attack on the Seán Russell commemoration, followed by a bogus anti-Nazi (in reality pro-imperialist) attack on Russell's statue in Fairview last January.
McCann slandered Russell as a "Nazi collaborator" for seeking aid against the British Empire's hold on Ireland. Since Trotsky supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, I wonder will we hear Eamon turn on his hero. Again, don't hold your breath.
The SWP don't do consistency.
A correction though:
The An Phoblacht sentence, "countries liberated by Trot revolutionaries = none", should be 'one': Russia in 1917, if Leon himself is considered a 'Trot'. Countries liberated by Irish revolutionaries is 'none', unfortunately, since we got only 26 out of 32 Counties (so far).
Baile Átha Cliath 11.
Tara and M3 tolling
Do you know why the M3 Navan Intersection has to be situated at Blundelstown at Tara? To paraphrase another, 'It is the tolling, stupid.' The Navan interchange has to be located immediately south of Navan to catch all Dublin-bound commuters in order to maximise tolls revenue which, unfortunately, is at the Hill of Tara, the cause of construction delays.
In the original M3 plans, the M3 passed Navan to the east in a straight line, which is good planning for a motorway, bad planning for tolling. Tolling priorities meant that the M3 had to intersect with the old N3 at a point south of the town to funnel all traffic onto the M3 for toll harvesting, otherwise some commuters would have continued to use the old N3 for free.
The NRA has designed the current M3 to eliminate all competition — the N3 because it is free, and the railway because it is faster. The latter is achieved by building over the old Navan railway line without putting in bridges. The ultimate aim of the current M3 exercise is to maximise tolling.
Because this is the priority, the M3 will be delayed due to legal action, the Navan rail line will only be rebuilt as far as the last toll at Dunboyne/Fairyhouse, and Meath commuters like myself will be paying tolls for the next 30 years.
Don't take my word for it — check the plans.
P Mac F,
Hair raising fund raising
My name is Kate Peck, and I'm a visiting student from America. A native of the Chicago suburbs, I was politically apathetic for my whole life, until I came to Ireland. I was so frustrated at the inability to change any part of American politics that I had given up on it altogether.
When I came to Ireland, I found that politics could be effective, and that a few dedicated people could change things, make them better. It was so heartening, this idea that progress was possible, that I joined the party that struck me as being most forward thinking and proactive: Sinn Féin.
Of course, it helped that I was sympathetic to the concept of Irish unity when I arrived, but what I found was a party that was willing to face the tough decisions, and which would stand up for the rights of the people, whether they had voted SF or not.
Since I joined last September, a great deal has happened, most of which has been sensationalised by the media. But I truly believe that there is no party that has so effectively confronted and dealt with the issues facing Irish society.
There has been so much talk in the media about republicans being criminals, making their gains through inappropriate means, that I wanted to stop and show people what republican dedication could be.
My challenge to the republican community is this: if you can find the means to support Ógra Shinn Féin, the youth branch of Sinn Féin which is perpetually underfunded, I will shave my head.
I'm willing to go back to America (as I must do when my visa expires on 31 May) and tell every person who asks me why I have no hair that it's because I believe in Sinn Féin and Irish republicanism. I would be an envoy, of a sort, countering the negative attitudes that so many people have towards Sinn Féin.
I know that this is a paltry sacrifice when compared to those that republican families have been making for the past hundred years at least, but it's what I have to give, and I hope that you will accept it.
If we can raise €2,500, I'll turn myself over to the barber and watch it all disappear.
For those who wish to be there to see the hair fall, this would happen at the end of the 'Irish-Basque Day' to be held in Galway on 28 May. The day itself promises to be excellent, with a showcase of Basque and Irish music, food, dancing and more. It ends with a party at Club Áras na nGael, in town, where, if we reach our goal, I will say goodbye to my hair.
If anyone is interested in donating, please call me at (353) 0872734934, or email me at [email protected]
Vice-chair Ógra Shinn Féin,