Republican News · Thursday 17 February 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Who's in default?

A Chairde,

Few in the North believe a return to war by the IRA is imminent. The IRA is not in default of the GFA.

The only threat of violence is if there is no political voice in the political process of Northern Ireland. The only real danger is the continued unionist and British veto of the Good Friday Agreement, that maps the way out of the Troubles. Trimble and Mandelson are in default of the GFA.

Vonda LaVoie
Save The Good Friday Agreement Coalition


Whose public order?

The advent of the Public Order Act some years ago spelled trouble for communities and workers alike. As a community anti-drugs activist in Dublin, I believe the introduction of this draconian legislation has given the gardai what they had been asking for since the early 1980s. That is, the power to break up the anti-drugs movement and the power to take on any other workers' protests. Many people will remember the cider drinking gangs to which the media in this country gave so much attention in the mid 1990s. While the problem was very intermittent in Dublin, Cork, Limerick etc., the media gave the gardai the attention they needed to go to the government for new legislation.

The following are some issues that your readers might take on board.

How many cider/beer drinking gangs of young people have been arrested and charged under the Public Order Act?

Ryan Air workers protesting about working conditions in Dublin airport were some of the first to be arrested under this act.

More and more anti-drugs activists are being charged under this act, most of the time on the word of known drug dealers, anti-social elements in working class areas.

Would this law be used against members of the gardai, by members of the gardai if they go out and protest at work and pay conditions? It's worth thinking about.

The keystone to the use of this law states in layman's terms: ``If three or more people are congregating in a group and a person not attached to that group feels fearful or threatened in any way, they can go to the gardai and make a complaint.

It is my belief that I have seen at first hand the misuse of laws in locking up people who give leadership to communities and workers in this country. It is these people who will continue to suffer at the mercy of state, unless communities continue to make the government more accountable.

Over the last few months there has been a marked increase in media reporting of residents being forced out of their homes. There has been consistent reporting of joyriding gangs and drug gangs causing havoc in communities. When will the gardai start using these laws against those in our communities who are hell bent on destroying them?

What I want to know is when the gardai are going to get of their backsides and use the law to deal with these problems rather than spending most of there resources locking up anti-drug community leaders for getting the ordinary people to stand up, address and resolve the issues effecting areas.

Ken Fitzgerald,
South Inner City,


Brum help wanted

A Chairde,

I am researching into the Irish in Birmingham, England, from 1860 to 1900, and would be very pleased to hear from any of your readers who have family records, letters, or any information about the Irish in Birmingham during those years.

I am especially interested in social, cultural, and political activities. If any of your readers have any material they think will be of interest, I would be very grateful if they would contact me, at the address, phone number or email address below.

My research is being supervised by Dr Carl Chinn of Birmingham University.

Patsy Davis,
238 Mansel Road,
Small Health,
Birmingham B10 9NI.
Tel: 0121 773 8928


Dismay at suspension

A Chairde,

I wish to express my dismay and anger at the suspension of the Northern Assembly. For 72 days we witnessed Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter working as a team, bringing the people of Ireland together.

The Good Friday Agreement was not to be the final solution to our problems. Many of us were cautious in the beginning and we hoped it would work. Not in our wildest dreams did we expect to see 30 years of hurt begin to disappear. However it did. People who were bitterly opposed to each other began to reach out across the barricades. Ministers worked well and were highly rated by all objective observers. The experiment and the dream became a reality. Respect, equality and accommodating difference were now the name of the game. The people's wishes were being implemented.

Then, on Friday 11 February, the plug was pulled. It should not have happened and it should not have been allowed to happen. A people's project was dropped without consulting the people. This was undemocratic and many of us feel that it was illegal. This Agreement is bigger than any one person. The people of Ireland are being shafted. This is a wake up call. The people of Ireland saw the Good Friday Agreement as a major step towards a democratic peace settlement. The Agreement will have to be implemented in full. Let's do it now before the wreckers gain ground.

Finian McGrath.
Dublin City Councillor


Predictable SDLP response

A Chairde,

The recent comments by the SDLP on decommissioning, which support and give credence to reactionary Ulster Unionism, were sad and regrettable but no surprise.

Throughout the last 30 years, British state strategy in the north of Ireland has had one objective - the defeat of republicanism and its removal from the overall political equation.

Important to this strategy has been the SDLP. From 1970 until the early 1990s, a period of unparalleled British savagery in Ireland, they willingly involved themselves in every imperialist attempt to give its rule in Ireland a veneer of credibility. Whilst republicans were being interned, tortured and murdered, the SDLP were busy collaborating with those responsible in the hope that they would be rewarded with a small share in the running of the Orange state.

During the present political process, the presence of a powerful republican voice has at times forced the SDLP into adopting a firmer stance in their dealings with the British. But the potential for opportunistic backsliding has always been there and has been seen in the past week or so. It must be heartening for those in the British establishment, who after 30 years of failure are still trying to break Óglaigh na hÉireann, to see the SDLP firmly in line once more.

Co. Galway


Training needed

A Chairde,

Last week's edition of the AP/RN announced the establishment of new cumainn in Counties Sligo and Monaghan (well done!). This is of course great news, however, just out of curiosity - are these new cumainn going to get the support and training they need from head office?

My understanding has always been that new cumainn were entitled to training, however here in Wicklow we are getting hoarse by now from screaming for training. A couple of new cumainn have been established throughout the country in the last year, with no doubt more to follow this year. Not one of them has received any training. This begs the question - how are we supposed to promote Sinn Féin policies on the ground when we can't be sure how to, and are not even sure what the national policies are? Interesting dilemma.

Maj-Britt Christensen,
Sinn Féin PRO,
Wicklow Town


Grateful thanks

A Chairde,

On behalf of the Bloody Sunday March Organising Committee, I would like to thank all those who took part on the recent march and rally in London. This march has become a very significant date in the political calendar and is the only major Irish march that takes place in central London.

This year, as in previous years, the reception from the crowds in central London was very good. As ever, the march is targeted by the far right, attempting to stifle our demands and to prevent the march from taking place. Happily, careful organisation and stewarding meant that this year's march was untroubled by those attempting to disrupt it - the march proceeded from the assembly point to the rally venue without interruption.

Once again, thanks to all those who took part, particularly those who travelled from outside London and from Ireland.

Enda Finlay

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