The recommissioning debate
I am writing to thank and acknowledge Assembly member, Cllr Mary Nelis of Sinn Féin, for her recent public contribution to the debate about the Raytheon weapons company's decision to locate in Derry.
Ms.Nelis voiced the concerns of a number of local citizens when she called on the high-tech arms peddlers to spell out the precise nature of the defence-related activities to be undertaken at their Pennyburn plant by Derry workers. Ms Nelis also raised the issue of Raytheon's contribution to violations of human rights through the supply of weapons systems to Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
I have no doubt that she shares the curiosity of many regarding the consistency of local support for civil and human rights and the acquiescence with which some political parties have greeted the development, as a corporate reward for the Anglo-Irish pacification process. I wonder about the moral distance a civil rights activist would have to walk, if he or she was to set off from the Bloody Sunday Inquiry at Derry's Guildhall (where the British Ministry of Defence is effectively on trial for State-sanctioned murder of local workers) to make their way to Raytheon's Pennyburn Plant (where local workers will be invited to contribute, however modestly, to the development of a sophisticated software package (ASTOR) to assist the British Ministry of Defence in its execution of State-sanctioned slaughter in the new urban battlefields of the 21st century) just a few miles from the city centre?
The significance of Cllr Nelis' intervention lies in the fact that Sinn Féin has broken the conspiracy of silence and disinformation that has surrounded the announcement of the Raytheon jobs. Most of our local politicians, church leaders, trade unionists and economic commentators have indicted themselves by their silence and condemned the city of Derry to a future of moral ambivalence when it comes to economic judgements. What are we to make of future calls for an end to violence on our streets now that our civic leaders have shown that they are prepared to export the means to execute atrocities in other parts of the global neighbourhood ? And what are we to make of a still-born `peace' process where local democratic debate remains a dangerous notion for many?
Doctor of International Relations,
Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign,
Researching 1933 shooting
I am a student at Magee College, Derry, studying Irish history and politics. At present I am compiling research on a project involving a shooting incident in 1933 outside Dungiven, Co. Derry. Jack Carolan and Dennis Kilmartin were shot dead that day.
Dennis Kilmartin's father, Michael Dennis was from Newport, Co. Tipperary. He was a school teacher who went to Dublin. While there, he met Anne Jane Carolan, also a teacher, from Kilcormac, Co. Offaly in the late 1890s. They married and went to teach in Gortnaghey, Co. Derry.
Jack Carolan was also a teacher from Kilcormac, Co. Offaly. He was Dennis Kilmartins' uncle, as Dennis' mother, Anne Jane, was Jack Carolan's sister. Jack followed his sister and brother-in-law north and he too taught in Gortnaghey, Co. Derry.
If any of your readers have any information concerning the Carolan family from Co. Offaly or the Kilmartin family from Co. Tipperary, photographs, places of residence etc., I would be very grateful if they would contact me.
Phone: (028) 71354543 or (02877) 741705
Fax: (02877) 742343
Unionism's cold house mentality
The latest initiative to emerge from the unionist ``No'' camp in its blueprint for democracy is that Sinn Féin be excluded from ministerial posts in a reconvened Assembly. The object of the exercise is that Sinn Féin must demonstrate that they have left their past behind, before they and their electorate are ``given'' their full democratic rights.
Thoughout the course of the peace process, there has been no tangible demonstration that unionism has left its past behind i.e. institutionalised, systematic discrimination against those who disagree with them.
The only ``Mea cupla'' from that quarter has been a weak allusion to the ``cold house'' previously inhabited by nationalists under unionism. Changes which have come about in our society have been brought in by the British Government, not unionism.
The real leap of faith in this process is surely that nationalists are prepared to trust unionists, in spite of their track record, to co-operate in a system of government which isn't interpreted as the ``right'' of the majority of a population to introduce legislation and social structures designed to denigrate the rest of that society.
To this end, all measures necessary to prevent such a recurrence, including the implementation of the Patten Report in full, must be in place before the Assembly can be said to have the potential to succeed.
The actions of the broad body of unionists to date have failed to demonstrate an understanding of modern democracy. Indeed, unionism's determination to push for any changes that would keep everything as it was demonstrates all the political acumen and maturity of lemmings.
Increasingly, it becomes more difficult to believe that the unionist mind set has changed or is capable of change. The few tendrils of progressive unionism that have surfaced may well be permanently stunted if they emerge in yet another ``cold house'' scenario.