3 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 Name and address should be supplied for verification, but these will not be published if we are so requested.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.
'81 British Embassy riot
Reading the account of the Embassy riot (AP/RN 20 July), I wonder if the author was there at all and, if so, has he/she entirely lost all critical faculties! As someone who attended hundreds of H Block/Armagh protests over those years, north and south, I can safely say that I never experienced anything like the march on the British Embassy on 18 July 1981. Yes, we had tense marches before, with lines of helmeted gardai battering their shields as they flanked the rows of marchers, or hundreds of RUC members, armed to the teeth, preventing us completing our protest march to Armagh prison.
But never, before or since, did I experience the raw mood of violence of 18 July. Yes, the Gardaí were spoiling for a showdown, but let's face it, so were many of those on the protest. And, in fairness, this was understandable in light the frustration that had been building up since early July as it became increasingly apparent that our TD, Kieran Doherty, and his comrades would die.
Even as the march gathered, there was an air of menace and I felt then and I still believe that the organisers of the protest should have called it off.
When we met the lines of Gardaí on the Merrion Road, blocking our path to the embassy, people rushed from the back to the frontline to vent their frustration. I'm not talking about a few dozen people. There were hundreds involved and after absorbing the attack for several minutes, the Gardaí were only too willing to counter charge and to use their batons with great enthusiasm and with little concern if they were hitting rioters or peaceful marchers.
The riot may have allowed some people to let off steam, but it effectively signalled the end of mass peaceful protests during the Hunger Strike period, at least in the 26 Counties. And this, for my money, is the core lesson to be learned from this awful day and from the wider protest movement of that period. We were desperate to make people care, so desperate, in fact, that at times we engaged in forms of protest that were totally counter-productive. If we can't admit that 25 years on, then we have learned nothing.
So please, can we ensure that in recording the events of that terrible period we do not lose our objectivity. In justice to the prisoners and to their families who played a consistently dignified and effective role in building a mass protest movement, we should be able to admit that some of our actions might have helped undermine their good work!
Israeli slaughter in Lebanon
I am from Northern Ireland, and I am extremely worried about my friends in Lebanon who have been under the constant attack by the state of Israel for almost three weeks.
The state of Israel, disregarding all international laws and conventions such as the Geneva Convention (that explicitly prohibits it) is launching a maritime and air siege targeting the entire population of the country.
The people are being collectively punished in Lebanon by the state of Israel in deliberate acts of terrorism as described in Article 33 of the Geneva Convention. These acts put the state of Israel in clear violation of international law and can be described as crimes and state terrorism.
They may feel left out by the world that is turning a blind eye on the savagery of the Israeli state which does not seem to be capable of approaching any problem outside the realm of the military power bestowed on it by the United States of America.
I am writing you this letter in the hope that editors and journalists such as yourself can play the role that free society bestows on journalists: defend the innocents and expose the truth. The numerous civilian victims of the Israeli savagery are increasing by the hour.
The viciousness of the attacks, as you can witness by the pictures, has attained terrifying levels where we saw a child cut in three and another half burned. The Israeli war machine, in its blind savagery, is destroying not only their lives but the foundations that could help them survive beyond the Israeli massacre (if the international community has the courage to stop them).
I hope that this lonely letter can push you to help us help awaken the consciousness of your readers, viewers and listeners. I hope it can prompt them to pressure their elected officials to intervene to end this cycle of violence and halt the continuous violation of international laws and basic ethical behavior.
Among the blindness of the international community and the deafness of the Arab one, you are our most serious hope.
Finaly I invite you, as I invite the international communty to witness and dennounce the Israeli Aggression being comitted against Lebanese innocent civilians, stepping over all human rights and values.
Roy J Dodds
A friend of Lebanon.