1 May 1997 Edition
British Army's dirty history
The highly esteemed Duke of Wellington described his British soldiers on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo (1815) as ``the scum of the land''. Nothing much has changed as we saw at Cregganduff, South Armagh a few weeks ago when arrested men were beaten senseless.
The British state has always dragged the gutters for uneducated, mindless thugs to carry out its crimes abroad. In India at Amritsar in 1948 a certain General Dyer ordered the same kind of degenerates to open fire on a peaceful crowd of Indian people. Hundreds were killed and wounded, mostly women and children.
When Malaya was struggling to free itself form the British, the army paid ``head money'' to criminals so that they would decapitate nationalists and claim the bounty. The British Army failed of course, as they always do and certainly will in Ireland.
When Wellington himself laid siege to Badajoz in the Peninsular War of 1812 the British Army broke in and murdered, raped and robbed the Spanish (who they were supposed to be liberating). Afterwards Wellington admitted that he had ``lost control of the army''.
Well, they have been ``losing control'' ever since as we saw in Derry 1972 and Cregganduff 1997. Who will ever forget the SAS court testimony from behind screens as the men who shot Volunteers Farrell, Savage and McCann in Gibraltar showed that they could barely string two coherent sentences together. Such is the calibre of the British soldier, illiterate, ignorant and as the Duke of Wellington stated, truly ``the scum of the land''.
I managed to see the Sinn Féin Westminster election broadcast and even in its censored version, it's a very powerful film. I was struck by the picture of Major pointing the finger as usual. The caption: Hope Destroyed, said it all. I think this film should be required viewing (and not just at election time) for all those in London, Dublin and the Six Counties (including members of the SDLP) who are forever pointing the finger at Sinn Féin and mouthing words of condemnation only about IRA actions and never about loyalist/British Army/RUC actions. I haven't heard any of the finger pointers rushing to condemn the shooting of a twelve year old boy in the eye with a plastic bullet.
Máire Ní Mhuircheartaigh,
John Hume said that the ``central nature of our problem is that we are a divided people'', and therefore our problem cannot be solved by any form of coercion but only by agreement. Britain divided the Irish people and the only agreement they sought then and now is unionist agreement.
Unionist political power came from the barrels of British guns and not by agreement. Britain agreed to give the Unionists decades of misrule by a gerrymandered undemocratic majority which guaranteed the British colonialists indefinite occupation of Ireland, which Britain refuses to change. Occupation supported by John Major, who said in the Sunday Life:''I support the Union. I have always supported the Union.'' - Major persuader for the continued partition of Ireland.
Partition has been reinforced by policies like Ulsterisation designed to cause divisions between the two communities. Ulsterisation would aim the IRA bullets and blasts away from the Brits, and deliberately at the RUC/RIR in the Protestant community. Divisions have been fostered by infiltrating, arming and directing the activities of loyalist paramilitaries in a shoot-to-kill, no-claim no-blame murder campaign against nationalists. It was what Britain called an acceptable level of violence which they could sustain indefinitely while Irishmen did the bleeding and dying. Irishmen dying neutralised the British public's demand for withdrawal and removed Ireland from the British political agenda.
John Major's government have an interest in maintaining partition and it is connected with the English question of maintaining the Union with Scotland.
No boom for schools
We are told that this country is in an economic boom, but where are the profits from this apparent state of prosperity going?
I make these remarks in the light of the School Funding Survey which was issued in mid-March by the Irish National Teachers Organisation. Returns were made from 2,286 primary schools. Almost half cannot even pay for the basics out of the £45 per pupil provided by the Department of Education. Local communities supported this ``contribution'' from the Department to our ``free'' primary education system with over £10 million of their own money - made up of fundraising and the compulsory local contribution. 62% of the schools said fundraised money was spent on supplementing running costs and 77% spent it on teaching materials.
32% of schools are not cleaned and swept daily. 87% do not have staff toilets. 39% of schools do not have two WCs and two washhand basins for each class unit. 17% have classrooms in prefabs and 27% of these are more than 20 years old. 49% do not have a general purposes room. 32% do not have a staff room. And now with so much emphasis on computer literacy it appears that one in every four Primary schools does not have a computer; the average is one computer for every 100 pupils.
Parents and school communities contribute £10 million to Primary education every year while the Department of Education itself contributes only £22 million towards the running of these schools.
There are 309 schools (with 81,000 pupils) designated as disadvantaged. These pupils receive £75 per head. In 122 special schools pupils receive a capitation grant related to the categories of pupils in the schools concerned. Surprisingly, perhaps the lowest capitation fee in this category is for traveller children of under 12 years of age of £154 per head.
In an attempt to improve matters in the disadvantaged schools the Department of Education introduced a scheme in 1996 called `Breaking the Cycle'. Included in this are 25 urban schools and 25 clusters of rural schools - a total of only 125 schools with less than 13,000 pupils, far short of the 81,000 mentioned above.
As was pointed out in the report, ``the dependence on raising money to provide schools with equipment necessary for the implementation of the curriculum is unfair. Small rural communities and less well-off areas will inevitably be less able to provide the basics of teaching equipment''. Better-off areas have better resourced schools, and the system delivers better quality to the better-off. The wealthy can buy a better deal for their children.
In his speech at the launch of the survey, Senator Joe O'Toole, general secretary of the INTO, said that the underfunding of the Primary sector is impacting on the education, health and welfare of our children. He said that because the potential for money will be determined by the relative wealth of the community, the better off areas have better resourced schools and thus the Primary system delivers better quality to the better off. As a result, ``in the free Primary education system, the wealthy can buy a better deal for their children,'' Senator O'Toole said.
And so back to the boom and the one or two billion pounds in unpaid company taxes, not to speak of the billions of pounds being taken out of the country by the transnational corporations. I suppose everybody at this stage has also forgotten about the whole-scale robbery of the so-called tax amnesty. But then we should all be happy once Mr Lowry and the other beneficiaries of Mr Dunne's munificence as well as all the legal eagles sitting on one Tribunal or another not to speak of all the other parasitical bureaucrats administering one lame duck scheme or other, are on the gravy train. Remember the Beef Tribunal alone cost £35 million to clear up gross neglect on the part on one government or another. And some people through Al Capone was dead!