"GOLD MEDALS AREN'T REALLY MADE OF GOLD...
The medals in the pic on the left are not gold, but they're going to be as hard-earned as if they were - the 25th December this year will witness the 40th successive CABHAIR fund-raising swim which, as always, will be held outdoors, regardless of the weather.
Cabhair supporters in the Kilmainham area of Dublin have gifted the above medals (inscription : 'Cabhair 40th Anniversary Swim : 1976 - 2016') to the local Cabhair committee to be presented to each of the swimmers on Christmas Day 2016 in recognition of the "sweat, determination and guts" it has taken all concerned - especially the swimmers - in having kept this event going since 1976. The lads and lassies in Kilmainham - stalwart supporters of this annual event - are to be thanked for this gesture of goodwill but, at the same time, they needn't come looking for an extra glass of 'lemonade' on the day...!
PREPARING THE GROUND FOR A FUTURE 'TRIBUNAL OF INQUIRY' -
The proposed parking provision would be the lowest of any recently built children's hospital anywhere in the world, significantly adding to parents' stress. If built at St James's, subsequent air pollution will exceed mandatory EU figures and the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organisation...no compelling clinical or planning reasons have ever been produced to support the choice of St James's - because none exist..." - Dr. Fin Breatnach, paediatrician.
'Ultimately, this was a political decision...' - from here. And, in our opinion, it was a decision taken by various members of the establishment in this State, political and business class, because they were bribed to arrive at that conclusion, as has happened here before. Once again, wealthy individuals in positions of authority have feathered their own nest at the expense of society and, by doing so, they have endangered the lives of children - not their own children, of course, as their kids will be helicoptered to the nearest private facility should the need arise - but the children of working-class and unemployed parents who themselves are constantly ripped-off by that greedy and shameless 'elite' and, as a mother of three children, I have experience of that. We'd guess that it will be at least a decade after the new entity has been squeezed into an already crowded and totally unsuitable space before the corruption involved comes to light but, by then, those responsible will have moved on - perhaps to Brussels or a private nursing home here or abroad - and no heads will roll, no compensation will be sought and nothing will have been learned. That's 'Free Statism' for ya.
PROSE AND CONS.
Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.
First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O'Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.
SWEET DREAMS. (By Kevin Lynch.)
All alone I dream of night time with you
a cold winter's night it is.
I see your face of beauty smiling like the sun
it warms me in this cold.
I see our house, our home
then I'm in our room.
In my mind nothing has changed
I see the picture on the wall
with the baby in the basket.
You have everything just right
the scented flowers in the dish on the dresser
and the water bottle in the bed.
As in life you have your side
and I have mine.
We slip under the covers
and entwine in each other's embrace.
You say your feet are cold
but nothing of you could be cold to me.
Then we settle
your head is on my chest.
With one arm and one leg across me.
It seems so natural, so right.
I haven't a care in the world
and everything is quiet.
We drift into a beautiful lovers sleep.
We are like dancers in the night
You turn and I turn with you
I turn and you turn with me
then we are still, moulded together
our spirit is one in the night.
Morning wakes us from our embrace
the soul of day is echoed in your face
I just lie and stare at you.
The dribbles on your cheek
and the look I love so much.
My hand reaches out to touch you
but you disappear. I wake up all alone again.
(Next - 'The Crier', by Kevin Lynch.)
'YOU OWE US FOR HAVING THE CHEEK TO HAVE BOUGHT YOUR OWN HOUSE'.
I've mentioned this 'property tax' scam before (see 'IF, WITHIN 14 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THIS LETTER...', here) and we are in the same position regarding other double-taxes we 'owe' - the bin tax and the water tax, neither of which we will entertain or pay, for the same reason : the property that the political administration here is attempting to make us pay (twice!) for is a property which we bought ourselves over more than two decades and on which we owe no money, to anyone. We always paid the local council (through general taxation and VAT) to have our rubbish bins emptied but, to cut a long story short, the council 'sold' those bin routes to private operators who, obviously, seek payment from citizens for that service and they, the council, never reduced general taxation rates or VAT rates to take account of the changed situation. And likewise with the water tax issue.
And that, in a nutshell, is why we won't pay for them - because we don't believe in paying at least twice for any one service, but the State 'officials' looking for us to pay, again, for those services have been in touch with us, again, re 'accounts payable for property number ** *********', informing us, in a 'Notice of Estimate', that they intend to deduct said amount from our wages. So, here we go, again - that's my cue to notify the wages department in my job not to deduct any non-work related stoppages from my wages unless I agree to same in advance. As I said in the 'IF, WITHIN..' link, above, if nothing else I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that I didn't voluntarily allow them to rip me off, nor did I meekly hand over that money to them. Small comfort, I know, but when you're up against a powerful and corrupt goliath it simply has to be enough, sometimes, just to survive and walk away with peace of mind. And that's something they won't get off me.
TRADE UNIONS AND CAPITALISM IN IRELAND.
The balance between militancy and cynicism is one that pervades all layers of the trade union rank-and-file in Ireland. The militancy is just what could be expected from members of a national trade union organisation (ICTU) which represents 65% of insured workers in both parts of the country, and which has a history dating to 1894.
The cynicism of course derives from bitter experience of betrayal from the Congress leadership. The dissipation of the initially enormously militant PAYE demonstrations of recent years and the isolation, or exclusion, of militant unions (such as the busworkers' union, the NBU) from the ICTU umbrella, are classic examples of the trade union leadership acting to prevent disruption of its spineless conservatism.
Michel Peillon, a lecturer in sociology at Maynooth college, writing in his book 'Contemporary Irish Society ; An Introduction', clearly demonstrates that despite the ICTU's formal recognition of the exploitativeness of the capitalist system it nonetheless accepts the capitalist model of industrial development, as well as an industrial development policy based on the multi-national investment which is now predominant in the Irish economy.
Speaking at the Congess, Peillon says - "It daily pits itself against a bourgeoisie whose leadership it accepts. The trade unions, defensive associations operating within capitalism, by and large accept the industrial project of the bourgeoisie. They offer no serious alternative to the capitalist future of Irish society."
The fundamental failing of the Irish trade union movement can be seen in that, of the 90 unions affiliated to Congress (and those few outside its highly restrictive embrace), all confine themselves nearly absolutely to the role of 'gas and water socialism' warned against by James Connolly in his controversy with the Northern unionist/labour politician, William Walker (who, incidentally, died on this date - 23rd November - (at 47 years of age) 35 years ago).
ON THIS DATE (23RD NOVEMBER) 149 YEARS AGO : THREE IRISH FENIANS EXECUTED BY THE BRITISH.
'Queen' Victoria, on hearing about the 'Manchester Outrage', as she called it. Her comments were replied to by one of the 'uncivilised Irish' people she was speaking about : "I will die proudly and triumphantly in defence of republican principles and the liberty of an oppressed and enslaved people..." - the words of 18-years-young William Allen, from Bandon, County Cork. The "outrage", as far as the British are concerned, anyway , began on the 11th September that year (1867) (....although, in reality, it began for us Irish in 1169) when, in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday, 11th September 1867, two men were arrested by police in Shudehill, Manchester, on suspicion that they were about to commit a robbery.
The two men were charged under the 'Vagrancy Act' and were detained in police custody, and it was then they were recognised (by fellow Irishmen in British police uniforms) as Colonel Thomas J.Kelly and Captain Timothy Deasy, two known Fenians. Their comrades in Manchester, which was the 'Bandit Country' of its day, vowed to free the two men and, on the 18th of September, 1867, as a prison van carrying the two men (and a 12-years-young boy, plus three female prisoners) was travelling on the Manchester to Salford road, on its way to 'deposit the cargo' in Belle Vue Gaol on the Hyde Road in Gorton, Manchester, accompanied by a team of 12 horse-mounted policemen, it was attacked by about 50 Fenians. Kelly and Deasy were handcuffed and locked in two separate compartments inside the van, guarded by a police sergeant, a Charles Brett, and, as such, were unable to assist their comrades outside.
The mounted police escort fled the scene on seeing the number of attackers but Brett was obviously unable to do so : the Fenian rescuers were unable to force open the van and advised Brett that it would be for his own good to open the doors and let the prisoners go. Brett refused the offer, and was looking through the keyhole to further assess his situation when one of the rescuers decided to shoot the lock apart - the bullet went through the keyhole and hit Brett in the head, killing him instantly. One of the female prisoners had the good sense to take the keys from his pocket and hand them out through an air vent to those outside, and Kelly and Deasy were taken to safety.
"I will die proudly and triumphantly in defence of republican principles and the liberty of an oppressed and enslaved people. Is it possible we are asked why sentence should not be passed upon us, on the evidence of prostitutes off the streets of Manchester, fellows out of work, convicted felons — aye, an Irishman sentenced to be hanged when an English dog would have got off. I say positively and defiantly, justice has not been done me since I was arrested. If justice had been done me, I would not have been handcuffed at the preliminary investigation in Bridge Street ; and in this court justice has not been done me in any shape or form. I was brought up here and all the prisoners by my side were allowed to wear overcoats, and I was told to take mine off. What is the principle of that? There was something in that principle, and I say positively that justice has not been done me. As for the other prisoners, they can speak for themselves with regard to that matter. And now, with regard to the way I have been identified. I have to say that my clothes were kept for four hours by the policemen in Fairfield station and shown to parties to identify me as being one of the perpetrators of this outrage on Hyde Road. Also in Albert station there was a handkerchief kept on my head the whole night, so that I could be identified the next morning in the corridor by the witnesses."
"I was ordered to leave on the handkerchief for the purpose that the witnesses could more plainly see I was one of the parties who committed the outrage. As for myself, I feel the righteousness of my every act with regard to what I have done in defence of my country. I fear not. I am fearless — fearless of the punishment that can be inflicted on me ; and with that, my lords, I have done." However, he then added the following - "I beg to be excused. One remark more. I return Mr. Seymour and Mr. Jones my sincere and heartfelt thanks for their able eloquence and advocacy on my part in this affray. I wish also to return to Mr. Roberts the very same. My name, sir, might be wished to be known. It is not William O'Meara Allen. My name is William Philip Allen. I was born and reared in Bandon, in the County of Cork, and from that place I take my name; and I am proud of my country, and proud of my parentage. My lords, I have done."
Michael O'Brien, 31, from Ballymacoda in Cork, was a lieutenant in the US Army and was better known in England by the name 'William Gould'. He delivered the following speech to the court : "I shall commence by saying that every witness who has sworn anything against me has sworn falsely. I have not had a stone in my possession since I was a boy. I had no pistol in my possession on the day when it is alleged this outrage was committed. You call it an outrage, I don't. I say further my name is Michael O'Brien. I was born in the county of Cork and have the honour to be a fellow-parishioner of Peter O'Neal Crowley, who was fighting against the British troops at Mitchelstown last March, and who fell fighting against British tyranny in Ireland. I am a citizen of the United States of America, and if Charles Francis Adams had done his duty towards me, as he ought to do in this country, I should not be in this dock answering your questions now. Mr. Adams did not come, though I wrote to him. He did not come to see if I could not find evidence to disprove the charge, which I positively could, if he had taken the trouble of sending or coming to see what I could do. I hope the American people will notice this part of the business." He then read a passage from a paper he was holding - "The right of man is freedom. The great God has endowed him with affections that he may use, not smother them, and a world that may be enjoyed. Once a man is satisfied he is doing right, and attempts to do anything with that conviction, he must be willing to face all the consequences. Ireland, with its beautiful scenery, its delightful climate, its rich and productive lands, is capable of supporting more than treble its population in ease and comfort.
Yet no man, except a paid official of the British Government, can say there is a shadow of liberty, that there is a spark of glad life amongst its plundered and persecuted inhabitants. It is to be hoped that its imbecile and tyrannical rulers will be for ever driven from her soil amidst the execrations of the world. How beautifully the aristocrats of England moralise on the despotism of the rulers of Italy and Dahomey — in the case of Naples with what indignation did they speak of the ruin of families by the detention of its head or some loved member in a prison. Who has not heard their condemnations of the tyranny that would compel honourable and good men to spend their useful lives in hopeless banishment?"
All three men shouted the words "God Save Ireland!" at different times during the 'trial', perhaps realising that, then, as now, the British were going to get their 'pound of flesh' one way or the other. The three men were, as stated, hanged by the British on this date - 23rd November - 149 years ago, and are still remembered and commemorated today by Irish republicans.
ON THIS DATE (23RD NOVEMBER) 140 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF THE BLUFFER BATES.
'Ulster Unionist Council' at 28 years young, and held that position until he was aged 44 (ie from 1905 to 1921). In 1921, he was elected to Stormont and was appointed as the 'Minister of Home Affairs', a position he held for 22 years (from 1921 to 1943). In 1943, at 66 years of age, he retired to the 'back benches', where he stayed until 1945.
As the British 'Minister of Home Affairs' in the Six County 'parliament', he gave himself unprecedented powers to, for instance, "..outlaw organisations...to detain or intern people indefinitely without charge or trial...(and)...to destroy houses and buildings..", amongst other 'rights'. He was to become the envy of others with a similar mind-set : some 40 years later (ie in [April] 1963) a Mr. Vorster , then South African 'Minister for Justice', was introducing a new Coercion Bill in the South African Parliament when, no doubt thinking of 'Sir' Bates and his colleagues in Stormont and Westminster, he stated that he "..would be willing to exchange all the legislation of that sort for one clause of the Northern Ireland (sic) Special Powers Act." Birds of a feather indeed.
'Sir' Richard Dawson Bates was a known bigot, and apparently took it as a compliment when it was said of him in Stormont (by a Senior Civil Servant) - "He has such a prejudice against Catholics that he made it clear to his Permanent Secretary that he did not want his most juvenile clerk or typist, if a Papist (Catholic), assigned for duty to his ministry." In 1935, however, he seemed to believe that he could treat everyone like dirt, regardless of their religion - on 18th June that year (1935), 'Sir' Bates issued an 'official order' banning all parades, not just those with a republican/nationalist 'flavour' : the Orange Order objected and told Bates and his people that it was their intention to hold a parade on the 23rd June (1935) and that said parade would be going ahead. Bates was not pleased - it was one thing to trample over the rights of the 'Papists', but the Orange Order were his own people and he expected that they would support him. Bates put his troops on notice, and repeated his 'banning order'. On the 23rd June (1935), the Orange Order took to the streets, as they said they would - and the RUC, and 'Sir' Bates, stood and watched!
At that parade, the then Orange Grand Master, a 'Sir' Joseph Davison, 'put it up' to his friend, 'Sir' Bates - "You may be perfectly certain that on the 12 July the Orangemen will be marching throughout Northern Ireland (sic). I do not acknowledge the right of any government, Northern or Imperial, to impose conditions as to the celebration." On the 22nd December 1938, 'Sir' (or 'Master'?) Bates introduced internment for republicans, saying - "The (Stormont) Government decided there was no alternative other than to arrest and intern well-known leaders and prominent members of this illegal organisation (IRA)." No 'backing-down' on that one.
Bates was a 'product' of the times and 'class' he was born into ; he could not help but be arrogant, a trait which was to his advantage when it came to his chosen 'career'. He died in Somerset, England, on the 10th June 1949 at 72 years of age, having been a 'proud Orangeman' for all his adult life.
ON THIS DATE (23RD NOVEMBER) 103 YEARS AGO : 'IRISH CITIZEN ARMY' FOUNDED.
'Irish Volunteer' movement had split ; approximately 170,000 men stayed with John Redmond and fought with England in the belief that to do so would guarantee a form of 'Home Rule' for Ireland - but about 10,000 men broke away as they had no faith in Redmond's plan. Months earlier, British 'Sir' George Richardson had taken command of the Ulster Volunteer Force (a pro-British militia) and had landed about 25,000 rifles and two-and-a-half million rounds of ammunition at Larne in County Antrim - when the British Government in Westminster attempted to move against the UVF (as they had no control over them then), British Army officers mutinied in objection. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Ireland, other forces were recruiting : Irish republicans were re-organising ; the 'Irish Citizen Army' was recruiting for volunteers, as was Sinn Féin, the 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' and John Redmond's 'United Irish League'. There was turmoil in the country.
On the 11th of November 1913 in Dublin, in the then 68-year-old Wynn's Hotel on Lower Abbey Street, a group of Irishmen and women held a meeting to discuss the formation of an 'Irish National Volunteer Force'. Those present at that meeting and/or at five other such meetings which were held immediately afterwards in the space of a two-week period, included Sean Fitzgibbon, John Gore, Michael J Judge, James Lenehan, Michael Lonergan, Peadar Macken, Seamus O'Connor, Colm O'Loughlin, Peter O'Reilly, Robert Page, George Walsh, Peadar White and Padraig O'Riain, amongst others (all of whom were well known in Irish nationalist circles ie Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann, the Gaelic League, the IRB, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Parliamentary Party and the United Irish League).
Then, on the 25th November 1913, the inaugural enrolment meeting for the 'Irish Volunteers' was held at the Rotunda Rink in Dublin, to "secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland". That meeting was overseen by a provisional committee consisting of thirty members, all of whom had been elected at the above-mentioned meetings. Previous to the formation of the 'Irish Volunteers', James Connolly and others had formed the 'Irish Citizen Army', and both groups were in competition for members, the former on a 32-county basis whereas the latter was confined to the Leinster area, although attempts were made, through trade union structures, to recruit in Cork, Belfast, Derry, Sligo, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford, Dundalk, Galway and Wexford, but with little success. Also, those joining the 'Volunteers' were supplied with a uniform and other equipment while those joining the 'ICA' had to purchase their gear themselves. Relations between the two organisations were not the best, as the 'Volunteers' allowed, for instance, employers to join and this at a time when employees and other trade unionists would most likely be 'ICA' members or supporters and, actually, when the 'Volunteers' were in conference for the first time(25th November 1913) Irish Citizen Army members and supporters loudly made their presence felt and they also objected in print - their first leaflet stated that the 'Volunteers' were controlled by those who were opposed not only to trade unionism but also to workers rights regarding working conditions etc.
Within a few months, however, the animosity had lessened to the extent that there was some official co-operation between both groups at the Wolfe Tone commemoration in June 1914 and again in October that year during the events held to commemorate Charles Stewart Parnell, and both groups joined forces at Easter 1916 and took part side-by-side in the 1916 Rising, during which almost 100 women, members of Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army , played a full part in the fighting : Cumann na mBan , formed in April 1914, and the Irish Citizen Army, were in training months before the 1916 Rising. Both groups received instruction in first aid, signalling and weapons preparation. Connolly's daughters, Nora and Agnes, who were both members of Cumann na mBan, joined other members of that organisation in travelling around the country to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses in a particular area.
The 'Irish Citizen Army' was formed by James Connolly and Jack White on the 23rd November 1913 - 103 years ago on this date - and other prominent members included Seán O'Casey, Constance Markievicz, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, P. T. Daly and Christopher Poole. The organisation proper became inactive in the late 1930's although its ethos lives on to this day.
NO 'PAL' TO THE PALESTINIANS.
'PayPal' will not allow Palestinians living in Gaza and the occupied West Bank to have an account - they have no problem allowing Israelis living in illegal settlements using their service and, as Sam Bahour (Ceo of consulting firm 'Applied Information Management') puts it - "Regretfully, when corporate America turns a blind eye to the services these start-ups require to thrive, the message they are indirectly sending is that they don't think young Palestinians deserve the same opportunities and advantages that their products offer so many other tech entrepreneurs.."
You can show your support for fair play in relation to this issue by signing the petition here and/or by contacting 'Paypal' on 00 1 402-935-2050, by filling-in their online complaint form and/or using the contact information at this link.
'Here, there, anywhere' indeed.
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...
By Jim McCann (Jean's son). For Alex Crowe, RIP - "No Probablum". Glandore Publishing, 1999.
Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the 'Frank Cahill Resource Centre', one of the founders of 'Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh', the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A'Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.
His first publication last year by Glandore was 'And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh'. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!
SPRECHEN SIE DEUTSCH, MUCKER?
The reception area of Long Kesh in 1973 was actually a couple of Nissan Huts with little one-person cubicles where you waited to get processed by the screws. The governor read you the 'Riot Act' as you stood pretending to dig a big snatter out of your nose and scratch your arse at the same time. Screws barked out orders in front of the governor trying to make themselves seem important and on the job - "Left wheel, right wheel, eyes front, back straight..." and so it went on as you stood there picking your nose, shuffling your feet and looking all about you with 'the-prison-hasn't-been-built-yet-that-can-hold-me' -look on your face.
"Your number is..? "I have no number," I said, as I glared back at him. The screw just uttered the number anyway like an automation. That was his job. "Stick your number up your arse sideways," I answered. That was my job. The governor hoped I would have a pleasant stay in his concentration camp and bade me goodbye with the words "If you have any problems, good..." As I attempted to etch 'Patrick Pearse wuz 'ere' on the wall of my little cubicle with my plastic knife, Entente Cordiale was being shot to pieces outside the door. "Vat is your naam?" asked the screw in a bad BBC sit-com German accent to one of the two Germans who had just been deposited in his care by members of the irreparable RUC ('Patton Commission', please note!)
The Teutonic tealeaf looked expressionless at his inquisitive turnkey and would-be incarcerator. The German then turned and looked at his accomplice, who was feeling really sorry for himself as he stood there with his prison-issue bedding, blue plastic mug, grey plastic cutlery, razor, package of 'Seven-O-Clock' blades and bar of white buttermilk soap... (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.