Republican News · Thursday 02 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

sagart agus an scríbhneoir

A Chairde,

Léigh mé scéal an tiomanaí a raibh cas cuirte aige in-eadan sagairt. An ionsaí a rinne se ar sagairt agus ar an Eaglais mar gur chaill se an cás, caithfidh me a rá gur chuir se iontas orm! Is sagart mé féin agus goilleann go mór orm a fheiceáil go bhfuil daoine chomh claonta sin ann.

Chuaigh an bheirt acu os comhair an bhreithimh, d'éist seisean leis an dá scéal agus thug se an bhreithiúnas a shíl sé a bheith ceart agus cóir.

Bhféidir go ndearna sé. Ach a rá go raibh comhcheilg idir an chúirt is an Eaglais, níl ansin ach ráiméis. ``Na bí beag ná mór leis an chléir'' a deir sé. Deir sé nach mbeidh sé mór a choiche arís leis an chléir. Tá an ceart sin aige.

Ach ná déanadh se dearmad ar dhá sheanfhocal eile, dhá sheanfhocal a bhaineas le cothrom na Féinne a thabhairt do achan duine, na sagairt ina measc! O tharla gur sagart me, tá siad i Laidin agam: ``audi alteram partem'', sé sin, ``éist le sceal an duine eile, agus ``nemo iudex in causa sua'', sé sin, ``níl aon duine ina bhreitheamh ina chás fein''. Sa chás seo, níor chualamar scéal an tsagairt. Agus tá breithiúnas tugtha ag do chomhfhreagraí ina chás fein. Má dhéanann do chomhfhreagraí machnamh ar na prionsabail sin tig leis ceist air féin an bhfuil sé ag tabhairt cothrom na Féinne don tsagart seo agus dar ndoighe, don bhreitheamh.

Aodan O'Lorcain
48 Westland Row,
Baile Átha Cliath.


Misleading coverage

A Chairde,

Your coverage of the Iranian elections (24 February 2000) mirrored the analysis served up by the British media: that we can see President Khatami as personifying a trend towards moderation in Iran. The British media takes its cue from the Foreign Office, anxious to justify trade with and investment in a country which is routinely condemned for its gross and persistent abuse of human rights by the United Nations and Amnesty International.

To call President Khatami a `moderate' or a `reformer' is to mislead. Your report stated that he is trying ``to create a civil society within Iran's Islamic system''. Had your reporter thought about what that actually meant, she might have produced a much less misleading piece by recognising the very limits of the so-called reform programme. The maintenance of the Islamic system is key. While that system, clerical dictatorship, remains, reform will be limited to superficial issues, the choice for women of the colour of their headscarves, (held up by the BBC's John Simpson as a huge progressive leap), or permission to listen to pop music. The routine torture of prisoners, summary execution and the absence of fair trials will persist, as will the poverty and corruption which is widespread.

To call the `reformers' left-wing is to display a breathtaking ignorance of their pro-capitalist economic policies. An analogy with Irish politics would be to describe Trimble as a moderate Unionist and to assume from that moderation that the man must be a republican. Khatami might be more moderate than some other clerics, but it does not make him a democrat or a liberal or an advocate of social justice. He was purged from the government when, as the Western media then told us, his predecessor, Rafsanjani, was trying to moderate Iranian politics.

Most people in Iran understand that there is little difference between the so-called `moderates' and `conservatives', which is why they increasingly take to the streets to express themselves and why the Mujahadeen was able to launch mortar attacks on key installations in the centre of Tehran. There is a contest for power going on in Iran, but it is far more complex than your report suggested. On the one hand, the factions dispute power and how best to maintain clerical dictatorship. On the other, the people want real change. You should be much more sceptical about the turnout of 38.7 million given by the Iranian regime; and you should certainly not take it as an endorsement of any faction of the clerical regime. Last July's student demonstrations, continuing street protests, as well as operations by the Mujahadeen, point to a people who have had enough of all clerical factions, no matter what politically convenient labels Western governments stick on them.

Iranian dissident


Fáilte AGM

A Chairde,

The AGM of Fáilte Chluainn Eois, the Monaghan support group for former republican prisoners, is to take place on Sunday, 5 March at 4pm. The meeting will be held in Fáilte's office, which is housed in the old RIC barracks in the Diamond, Clones, County Monaghan. This is a chance for all members and interested parties to voice their opinions and if so desired take a more active role in the running of the project. Fáilte Chluain Eois was founded in the summer of 1996 to meet the following objectives:

• Assist prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families overcome the psychological and emotional effects of imprisonment and the relationship problems associated with re-integration.

• Improve the position of ex-prisoners, their families and prisoners' families in the economy through training, education, advice and childcare support which will in turn help resolve difficulties in obtaining employment, housing and transport.

• Address problems of exclusion, isolation and discrimination within the community, promote the resourcefulness and skills of ex-prisoners and their families, and help heal some of the divisions brought about by conflict.

Though founded with the needs of the ex-prisoner community of Monaghan and parts of surrounding counties in mind, development worker Brian MacUaid stresses that the office facilities and services are open to the public. Despite extensive renovations currently in progress in the old barracks, the Fáilte office is fully operational, enabling staff to help members of the community with a range of services such as making funding applications or queries regarding Social Welfare entitlements and legal rights. The project is working toward a full programme of activities aimed at strengthening and building applicants' skills and ability to communicate, cooperate and develop. These include the provision of advice and counselling (economic and social), Irish language courses, an arts programme, Information Technology training and provision of crèche facilities to ensure maximum access.

Fáilte Chluain Eois is supported by Area Development Management Ltd. and the Combat Poverty Agency through the EU Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation. It is part of the umbrella group ``Coiste na n-Iarchimí'' ,which allows it to network with other ex-prisoners' groups and access resources which would not previously be available. Fáilte is on the Coiste website at

Colm Laighneach
Fáilte Chluain Eois

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