Disband the DPP
The decision by the DPP not to prosecute those RUC members accused of using death threats against the late Rosemary Nelson is not just a body blow to the Nelson family, it is an attack on the basic principles enshrined in the Good Freiday Agreement, that securing a lasting peace is contingent on effective human rights protection for all the people of this island.
Effective human rights protection can only be achieved by dismantling the legal framework that both encourages and perpetuates such abuses as those carried out by the RUC members whose threats set the scene for the murder of Rosemary Nelson.
The office of the DPP, ironically, was put in place by the British government in 1972 in response to the RUC's involvement in murderous attacks on the Catholic community. The intention of the then British government was to put in place an independent mechanism to discharge impartially the administration of the law. It was corrupted at birth as evidenced by its refusal to prosecute those RUC members indicted by successive investigations from the Scarman Tribunal up to the present day.
Since then, the office of the DPP has not exerted any control over the catalogue of human rights abuses by crown forces. Its refusal to do so allowed the RUC a free hand to murder, torture, threaten and intimidate whole communities and eventually to extend such activities to those who tried to defend the communities such as Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane. It can be argued that it was the failure of the DPP to discharge its primary function, that of uphiolding the law impartially, that has created the RUC as a lethal force, above the law and accountable to no one, not even that government which claims to be its political master.
Since 1969, there has been a conspiracy of silence between the office of the DPP and the crown forces that even various British government inquiries, including Stalker/Sampson and Bennett have failed to penetrate.
In the light of its decision on the Rosemary Nelson case, there is an urgent need for a full international independent inquiry into her murder. There is also an urgent need in the face of such a travesty of justice for all political parties to call for the office of the DPP to be dissolved forthwith.
Sinn Féin, in its submission to the Criminal Justice Review, has already called for such action and its replacement within the terms of the Good Friday Agreement with a truly independent Prosecution Service that will be responsible for the prosecution of all crimes, including those for which the RUC have been responsible.
The campaign for truth by the Nelson and Finucane families, as well as all people whose relatives were killed by the state, should be given priority by the Human Rights and Equality Commission.
It is encouraging to see that the state perpetrators of human rights abuses in Chile are at last being brought to justice. The same will happen here. In the interests of justice and of lasting peace, it should happen sooner rather than later.
Foyle Assembly member and Sinn Féin spokesperson on human rights
Republicans should back Chechnya
As a republican, I have always been proud when I see republicans maintaining solidarity with others who are also struggling to give voice to their aspirations of freedom and self-determination, such as the Basque people. To this end, I have been very disappointed that I have not heard anything from the republican leadership nor from grass roots republicans regarding the struggle of the Chechen people in their fight against Russian imperialism.
Chechnya was annexed by Tsarist Russia in 1859 against the wishes of the Chechen people and they have been fighting for the return of their freedom ever since. When the Soviets took power in Russia, they made Chechnya a part of the USSR, part of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Republic, also against the will of the Chechen people.
During this time of Soviet occupation of their homeland, the Chechen people rose up against the Soviets the same way that they did against Tsarist Russia, time and time again trying to assert their demands for self-determination and an independent Chechen Republic. Armed resistance against foreign occupation was and still is an old-established tradition in Chechnya.
These uprisings, especially those during the 1940s, resulted in thousands of Chechen men being `deported' from their homeland, put into prison cars on trains where the Soviets hoped that typhus and other epidemics would take hold so that these `traitors' would die `naturally'. Those who actually survived were sent to the far corners of the USSR to spend their lives in exile.
In the spring of 1942, the Soviets even bombed those who were supposed to be their own people with Soviet air-raids over the Chechen-Ingush mountains, part of Chechnya. In some villages like Shato, Istumkala and Galanchozh, the Soviet bombing left the number of dead greater than that of the living. Such savage destruction of the Chechen people and their homeland has continued unabated to this very day.
From its formation, just after our own declaration of a republic in 1916, up until its collapse in 1991, the USSR tried to finish the task which their tsarist predecessors had left unfinished: to create in the Caucasus a new colonising force combining military and police functions and incorporating subjugated natives who would be obedient in defending Soviet imperialist interests. Sound familiar to anyone?
With the break up of the USSR in 1991, the Chechen people once again declared their independence, a Chechen Republic under Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudaev. The Russians, like their Soviet and tsarist forefathers, refused to recognise Chechnya's independence, and in December 1994, Russian forces invaded the Chechen Republic. They met with strong resistance and after months of fighting and many thousands of casualties, the two sides agreed (July 1995) to a formal cessation of hostilities, but sporadic warfare continued. The Russians killed Dudaev in April 1996, and a second truce was concluded the following month.
d now, at the beginning of 2000, we see the Russians again refusing to recognise the wishes of the vast majority of the Chechen people to have their own independent Chechen Republic. It was and still is for their pursuit of freedom and independence that the Chechens and Ingush are still being destroyed and their republic being liquidated by Russian imperialism.
As we approach a new millennium, it is my hope that fellow republicans can see the parallels in the plight of the Chechen people with our own struggle for freedom and self-determination in Ireland.
It is my hope that fellow republicans will speak out against the genocide that the Russians are still, to this day, trying to visit on the Chechen people.
It is my hope that the republican leadership will recognise the Chechen Republic as an independent sovereign nation and make public statements to such effect.
It is my hope that Irish republicans everywhere will say to the Chechen people, ``Tiocfaidh do lá!'', and join them when they shout ``Ivan Domoi!'', which can be translated as ``Ivan Go Home!''.
Support anti-drugs campaigners
On Monday, 10 January, our monthly meeting of Dublin City Council was interrupted by a group of anti-drugs community activists. The meeting was adjourned while the protestors made their genuine peaceful protest. At the end of their speech, a number of us clapped and were delighted that they had once again highlighted the dreadful drugs crisis in our city.
These are people on the ground who have stood up bravely against the drug pushers and have helped the addicts in their community. They have provided a valuable public service and won the respect and admiration of ordinary people.
Why then does so-called Middle Ireland treat them with suspicion?
Why are they harassed?
Why is the money confiscated by the Criminal Assets Bureau not put back into the community?
Why is there no major public reaction when 19-year-olds are pulled out of the canal?
Drugs are everywhere now and people are making a lot of money. This is a wake up call for the whole of Ireland. Groups like the Dublin City Wide Drugs Campaign and the Coalition of Communities Against Drugs should be supported strongly. It is time for everyone to get off the fence on this issue.
Councillor Finian McGrath,
Immigrant Solidarity (IS) is a Cork-based pro-immigrant, anti-racism campaign. We have been active in Cork since January 1998. Initially formed in reaction to the rise in racist discourse at that time, the focus of the group quickly changed to the draconian practices of the Irish government.
The group is a group of individuals and not affiliated to any political party. In 1999, IS, along with the `Anti Racism Campaign' in Dublin, formed the National Federation of Campaigns Against Racism, which now has 12 constituent member groups around the country, all of whom subscribe to the same platform. This Federation is the emerging anti-racist movement in Ireland.
IS's platform centres around the rejection of all restrictive border controls. We believe that the primary purpose of border controls is to protect the wealth of rich countries from the poor beyond. Indeed, the Western world takes only a small part of the world's migrants. Since most of the West's wealth is based on the exploitation of poorer countries, it is obscene that the victims of these economic practices, are denied access to countries like Ireland.
It is now time that Ireland acknowledges the part it plays in the global economy instead of assuming that it is only the ex-colonial countries that continue to exploit the underdeveloped regions of the world. The distinction made between `economic' and `political' migrants is simplistic and invalid. Indeed, Irish history shows how economic and political forces are often one and the same.
That is, would an Irish emigrant in the 1930s be a `political' or `economic' migrant? One could argue that s/he was an `economic' migrant because his/her motivation, in leaving, was primarily economic. However, one could also argue that s/he was leaving because his/her country was in a depressed economic state because of centuries of exploitation, or even the conservative economic policies of the Cumann na nGaedheal government or because of the Wall Street crash or World War 1 etc. Political and economic forces are always interlinked and can not be separated.
We reject racism and prejudice including Ireland's own brand of
In Cork, we:
Agitate against deportations.
Run anti-racist workshops in schools.
Run free English classes for Asylum Seekers, operated by volunteers.
Network with Trade Unions to build solidarity links, etc.
On a national level, we are an active part of the National Federation, which has produced an anti-racism exhibition currently touring the country, and campaign for immigrants rights on a national scale.
Immigrant Solidarity is interested in increasing communication flows with all progressive movements and individuals in Ireland. We invite you all to help fight the draconian legislation being introduced in our name and to fight the rising racist discourse in Irish society.
You can read more about the group at our web site at:
http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/is.html which is soon to be updated. ARC's web site is at: http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/arc.html
We look forward to the development of solidarity links.