14 October 1999 Edition
Women prisoners reunion
Many republican women over the past 30 years (and further back) have served time in prison. At present, a committee has been formed especially to bring all ex-prisoners together for a reunion on Thursday 21 October in the Felons Club, Belfast.
This invitation is extended to all women who ever spent time in prison.
I'm sure you will understand how difficult this task is when you consider how many women walked through prison gates. We want no one to be left out, so please contact any ex-prisoner that you know and inform them of this reunion.
On the night, a number of women will tell of their experiences in different prisons and also of the cruelty meted out by different British governments to suit their different prison agendas of the time. The litany is long; hunger strikes, beatings, strip-searching, the conditions leading to the no-wash protest and hunger strikes.
You will also hear the great spirit of republican women. The words of this song describes how humiliation was turned to pride and courage: ``Though I stand here naked, it's you that stands in shame''.
We are also in the process of organising local committees to record our prison experiences. This is very important, we have a history and the only people who can write it is ourselves.
Marie Cush (née Delaney) is at present compiling a list of experiences. It would be very helpful if you could contact her and give her your details.
Looking forward to seeing you on the night!!
Marie Cush can be contacted at Tús Nua, Belfast 01232 430142
Unionists `must try harder'
According to Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson, an alternative to the GFA must be found to exclude Sinn Féin. Now we get to the crux of the matter: this is not, nor has it ever been, about moving forward toward peace. It is all about keeping SF out. So this is the UU party line? Never mind reform, forget the GFA, dismiss what people voted for, and ignore the entire Peace Process just to keep SF out of Ireland's government. [This(itals)] is ``the way forward''? It would seem sideways at best, if not downright backward. Does the UUP actually support [anything(itals)]?
``If republicans fail to end their terrorist violence and to decommission their illegal weapons, then all democrats must ensure that they are not permitted to have their hands on the levers of power in Northern Ireland,'' he said.
Since decommissioning was never a precondition of the GFA, why is it allowed to be the issue that's holding this up? Let's apply this standard across the board then. In future, when the politicians speak of the decommissioning issue, let us hear them refer to [all(itals)] weapons being turned in, from [all(itals)] quarters. Surely these folk are not expecting one set of standards for themselves and another for everyone else?
As a teacher, I would have to send a note home to the collective parents of the UUP saying they don't know how to work and play well with others.
There is as much difference between Partnership for Peace and NATO as there is between Fine Gael and Young Fine Gael. At the first whiff of an emergency, the difference will be dissolved by the stroke of a pen and we will find armed and accoutred soldiers and tanks upon every important highway. And some of us may even be proud of them; they are our boys; toys for the boys, yes; deadly trinkets that will be outmoded within five years when we must renew them again at a penal cost. Yet these are the same bomblets still blowing the feet off children in Vietnam and Cambodia. Nice company, yes?
But why the PfP when we are already members of the United Nations? Simply, arms sales: commerce, with an estimated $30-$40 billion in 1996 spending, one quarter of which, spent annually over ten years, would end hunger and famine in those countries currently suffering on the continent of Africa. But the arms industry is the world's largest and most secretive industry - the motor industry, a related fabricator, is next - and it means to stay there. That was why in 1991, on the collapse of its prime raison d'être, the Soviet Union, it contrived in 1994, from among its great statesmen, the PfP. Imagine all those satellite states and neutrals, including Ireland, with their `incompatible' armament: we shall have to keep our industries going: we shall have to rearm them. Yes, of course.
The words humanitarian and peace keeping loom large in their press releases, but they are only code for eventual full scale cooperation.
Reequipping the 26-County Army with NATO weaponry will cost taxpayers over $5 billion over the next two years, $5 billion that will be totally down the drain in jig time. Have we nothing else to do with $5 billion?
Let us forget about PfP/NATO; let us maintain a neutrality that is unbloodied; let us preserve our environment free from the screech of combat aircraft at low flying practice (as in Scotland); let us for heaven's sake stay out of PfP.
Could this really be the trade off for those days and long nights spent upon the peace process in Washington? Thank you very much Mr Clinton.
Uinseann Mac Eoin
Baile Atha Cliath