11 August 2005 Edition

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5,000 troops too many

A Chara,

So the British Government plans to reduce the number of British troops in the North of Ireland to 5,000, under their Demilitarisation 'commitments' (using that term lightly).

At a time when republicans face challenges and hard decisions its high time the British do so as well.

The present plan as it is would see 5,000 British Troops too many on our streets.

Barry McColgan,

Ogra Shinn Féin.

Speaking Rights demanded

A Chara,

After the historic IRA Statement it is essential that MPs who are elected in the North of Ireland get speaking rights in Leinster House.

As an Irish republican when I vote for Sinn Féin I don't want to see my Sinn Féin MP sitting in a chamber in England raising my concerns (Which, rightfully they don't) I would rather see them representing my concerns on the floor of Leinster House, in our Capital Dublin.

Andrea O'Kane,

Ógra Shinn Féin.

Idea of Irish freedom stronger

A chara,

What is the IRA? We can argue as to whether the IRA Army Council represents the First Dáil and that this has provided the basis of the IRA's continued existence. But for me the IRA stands for something much more than that. The IRA represents the legitimate will of ordinary Irish women and men, of whatever colour, creed or persuasion to stand up for freedom and democracy. The IRA stands for that simple, yet powerful idea. It is an unbroken tradition that modern day republican and democrats inherit. Any particular organisation, whether it be the United Irishmen, the IRA or Sinn Féin become in their own time, and the time has passed for the armed struggle. Republicans have been central to creating the conditions for peace, despite attempts by the gombeens in Dublin and the securocrats in London to claim that mantle. We have to pick up the challenge of creating a radical, democratic politics in Ireland that will not only bring about a United Ireland but also the 1916 demand for a people's republic. We have real enemies — the new landlordism of Shell and our homegrown gombeens who will sell our children's heritage in their haste for profits.

So, the IRA has stepped down, but the idea the IRA represents has not. As the IRA has not been defeated, so the idea of Irish freedom and justice has not been defeated. If anything, the idea has grown stronger.

Is Mise,

Simon Warren.

Expand media review beyond English language press

A chara,

First of all, I'm not Irish and I'm not maybe what you'd call a republican. I'm from the West of Scotland, where everyone knows the score but there's enough distance for some folk to get over excited about it. But most folk are glad that our own sectarianism is unarmed, and that the bigots can piss off on the ferry to march somewhere else, and instead of offending Glaswegians they can offend Glaswegians' cousins.

Your review of the international press is always a review of the English-language press. Everyone in Ireland that's interested in politics knows what the Mirror or Washington Post has to say about the North even before they write about it. New Zealand's a nice place but what does it matter what their papers say about the Northern Hemisphere?

I live in Poland, where they've got a ridiculously black & white, romanticised view of things Irish, and that's reflected in the papers here.

So print stuff from Le Monde, from German papers. Scandinavians analyse you, Catalonians idolise you. What's the point of quoting the same 20 pro-British papers every week, then saying: "What a shower of pro-British bastards?" Why compare the attitudes to republicanism of five American papers, when most republicans have never been in America?

Information is the main thing, the main fault both Brits and Irish have is that most of their knowledge of the world is from British, Australian or American TV.

Is Mise,

Irregular reader.


A chara,

I write in response to Shane Mac Thomais and Bláithin Ni Bhroin, who took issue with my position on prostitution.

There is nothing wrong with morals, and indeed my opinion is that men who pay for sex are an embarrassment to the human race. In an ideal world, there would exist no such specimens. However, we don't live in an ideal world and we never will, and I don't accept that my opinion or anyone else's opinion should be legislated for if there is no demonstrable harm arising from the activity.

Prostitution existed in the socialist states and today's Cuba has a huge amount of prostitution. The central point is this: for as long as there are humans, there will be humans willing to pay for sex. The mention of the sex slavery in Third World countries is a red herring and has no relevance to the debate about prostitution in Ireland.

The vast majority of prostitutes who work the streets are heroin addicts.

This is true in every European country, and they are the most visible aspect of the sex trade. Even in countries where prostitution is not illegal, such people work outside the establishments. There is a sex slavery trade in every European country regardless of the legal status of prostitution.

These two problems currently exist and will continue to exist if prostitution was legalised. However, they should not be used as a fig-leaf for an absolute moral view that all prostitution is abuse.

Campaigning groups like the Red Thread Union, advocates of sex workers' rights in the Netherlands, have long criticised the attitude displayed by my two comrades that all prostitution is abuse. 'Victims are like children' they complain. 'Victims are not allowed to make their own decisions'.

Conflating the issues of abuse and prostitution is neither accurate nor helpful. We should separate the issue of sexual abuse, which is always wrong and always illegal, and the issue of prostitution, which may be wrong but which ought not be illegal.

Is mise,

Brendan Hogan,


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1