8 January 1998 Edition
Principles of democracy
Surely it is time for all genuine Republicans to say clearly that history demands that acceptance of the Mitchell Principles must inevitably mean that the current peace process can only be based on the already proven wishes of the overwhelming majority of the population of the island of Ireland.
The very first of the Mitchell Principles demands `Commitment and adherence to fundamental principles of democracy and nonviolence'. It is the very fact that the Six County statelet was formed in a totally non-democratic way which should be the first thing to correct in order to give the peace process the authority to proceed to other matters.
The United Ireland elections of 1918 (yes, Ireland was `united then under British rule) gave Sinn Féin an overwhelming majority democratically, and it was only the refusal of settlers in the North Eastern counties, backed by Britain and its armed forces, to accept this democratic wish of the majority of the people of Ireland, that led to the imposition of the artificial Six County bastard statelet in the North-East of the island. It was imposed by an ultimatum from the British government - `accept the Treaty (of 1921/22) within three days or there will be unlimited war'.
No `Treaty' imposed by military threats and rejection of democratic election decision should be held legitimate in International law - certainly it is not acceptable on any moral basis.
Let all the Republican Movement state clearly that yes, we accept the Mitchell Principles, or they demand that the peace process must therefore start with the re-instatement of the Democratic wishes of the Irish people demonstrated in 1918, that is to say, a United Ireland. Any internal `settlement' must be automatically non-democratic, totally unacceptable, and will not resolve the basis of the troubles - imposed partition.
Any refusal by the British government will show that it is they who do not accept the Mitchell Principles.
Lios em chania, a chairde,
I would like to commend An Phoblacht and the Irish Republican Movement for its continued coverage and support of various political and ecological struggles that share the common ground of opposing the same imperialistic forces who temporarily occupy your homeland.
Over the last few months that I have subscribed to An Phoblacht I have been inspired at the solidarity expressed towards oppressed peoples in Spain, Cuba, south Africa, Bougainville and other places where there exists indigenous resistance to forced assimilation.
Robert Allen's reporting on the Green movement also to me expresses Irish Republicans' concern for environmental issues that other political parties only pay lip service to. Such recognition reflects the awareness that many of our struggles are extensions of a larger resistance to the same political and corporate powers who see all the earth, culturally and politically autonomous peoples as a resource to be commercially exploited.
As an advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples, animals and the one earth we all call home, I have discovered that behind the mask of all of our oppression often hides the same face. And that is the face of the Invader who is responsible for the slaughter of indigenous peoples struggling to defend their families and way of life, be it in Northern Ireland, on our reservations in the US or in the jungles of Mexico, Central and South America.
And as is the case in many of our homelands, once indigenous resistance is squashed, the way is cleared for environmental destruction on the scale that threatens the very existence of all life on earth.
The Irish Republican Movement has also been equally effective in relating that no benefit from political gains can be appreciated without also overcoming the social degredation, especially against our youth, that is caused by drugs in our communities. Such poisons when capitalised on by a colonising army and police can have just as much effect against us as bullets and batons.
Additionally, in my homeland drugs and related gang violence is the Invader's justification in using deadly force and imprisonment against indigenous inhabitants who might otherwise be our warriors had drugs and the social ills that drive us to use them not been prevalent in our neighbourhoods.
Since my own imprisonment for animal liberation and indigenous rights activities, I have read much of your long resistance to imperialism and believe that had indigenous peoples in North America not been conquered militarily, our current struggle for survival would mirror that of contemporary Irish Republicans, especially the IRA's. And just as our warriors were labelled by the US and Mexican government and media as ``bloodthirsty savages'' and ``Red Devils'', so I see the British establishment use with equal vehemence the dehumanising terms ``Fenian Bastards'' and ``Terrorists''. Be assured that I learn much from your struggle and intend to incorporate examples of your own brilliant mastering of diverse tactics to hopefully bring peace and prosperity to my own Yaqui Nation.
My prayers are with your land and people as you continue your noble quest for peace from those who have mostly shown you the hand of war. May the British Empire swallow their pride and bow out gracefully from their use of state-sponsored terrorism and military occupation in your country and immediately release all prisoners of war. I am confident that all of your sacrifices will shine light on the path that will guarantee future generations of Irish women and men a life free from the tyranny and oppression that has been your fate for far too many centuries. Lios em chiokoe uttesia.
FCI Unit SW
Last December Tony Blair met Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in his home in Downing Street. I've always condemned how superficially and partially most of the Italian press discuss the British occupation in the north-east part of Ireland, so I bought a few newspapers just to see how they would report the Downing Street event.
Obviously most of the conservative newspapers talked only about the result, in terms of deaths, of the IRA campaign during the years, hiding the conflict's total number of deaths and the absolute responsibility of the London government in the development of a highly planned ``ethnical deportation'', held back and limited by the courageous reaction of the Republican Movement (in defence of the most elementary human rights).
Only one newspaper gave the right prominence to the Downing Street appointment, by reporting a Gerry Adams' interview: this was ``L'Unitá'', the Left Democratic Party's official newspaper, Italy's first party. The interview was titled ``The day of a united Ireland will come'' and was partially published on the front page.
I think that's a good result: in fact our (republicans) goal in Italy and generally in Europe should be to break the axis between the London and international press.
I agree with Gerry Adams when he says that the one that judges the British occupation in Ireland just by reading and listening to the London interpretation of the facts is just like the one who wanted to be informed realistically about apartheid in South Africa just by hearing what Pretoria said about it.
If it's true that a great ally of the Republican movement would be European public opinion (and I think that's really fundamental) it's also true that this purpose can be reached only by building new links between the Republican Movement and the international press, by trying to establish new relations between Sinn Féin and the European parties who are sensitive to the problem of Irish self-determination.
As an active member of the Left Democratic Party, I'm personally involved in the project of establishing a new preferential channel with Sinn Féin; I don't hide the difficulties of this policy, but it is worth the trouble. It's time to build a new, solid and deep link between Sinn Féin and Italian republicans; Italy and Ireland have surely one common point: they both have had to react against occupation. German for Italy and British for Ireland. No doubt the second one also will be over soon.
Loyalist prisoners were out on Christmas leave, same as Republican prisoners (excluding Roisin McAliskey and her baby, both uncharged by the Crown). Loyalist parties are at Stormont without having decommissioned any weapons, same as a certain Republican party. The Prime Minister saw Loyalist representatives who are not MPs, but who have been convicted of `terrorist crimes', before he saw Gerry Adams, MP, convicted only of trying (unsuccesfully) to escape from prison when he was held there without charge.
London has 15,500 troops in Northern Ireland maintaining a Union with Britain that Republicans oppose but Loyalists demand.
What do people actually mean when they say that the present structure of concessions favours Republicans over Loyalists?
Thomas Hutchison McFadden