Republican News · Thursday 18 May 2000

[An Phoblacht]

The first blanket man

A chairde,

It was with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kieran Nugent, the first blanket man. We send our sincere sympathy to his family, friends and comrades.

I have a very special recollection of Kieran. In June 1981, in the middle of the Hunger Strike, we organised a delegation of trade union and Labour activists, including councillors, to visit Belfast. On the morning of our arrival, a trade union group had not expected us so early and so there was at a gap in our itinerary. We went into the H Block Centre, where Kieran was already hard at work. I asked him if he could speak to the delegates for a while rather that have them at a loose end. Of course he agreed. We all squashed into the tiny back room and Kieran sat on the corner of the table and told the history of the prison protest, his own story, and that of the hunger strike so far.

For over an hour you could hear a pin drop as Kieran, in his quiet, unassuming way, gave us first hand information of the horror and tragedy of British rule in Ireland. It was like a confirmation for many of our delegates. They went back and reported to their respective trade unions and Labour organisations in a more committed way than if they had not met and been educated by the first blanket man.

Thank you, Kieran.

Mary Pearson
Troops Out Movement


Make the polluters pay

A Chairde,

Dublin City Manager John Fitzgerald tried to get councillors at the May meeting of the Corporation to impose a Refuse Tax of 150 per household per year. He claimed that it was in accord with the Waste Management Plan adopted by the council.

However, Refuse Tax has never been accepted by the elected councillors for very good reason. It is industry and business who cause the vast majority of waste, yet they pay far less tax than ordinary workers - a breach of the ``Polluter Pays'' principle. This is despite business profits increasing by well over 10% per year, while workers' wages barely keep up with inflation.

Presenting the extra tax proposals as part of a new Waste Management Plan is totally counter-productive. At a time when we are trying to positively encourage recycling and separation of waste into different categories like organic, glass, plastic, paper, etc, these punitive charges will create a negative reaction. In working class areas like Finglas and Ballymun, the hostility to charges could even lead to wheelie bins being stolen or destroyed. It would be a disaster for the regeneration of Ballymun and the redevelopment of Finglas, where a new clean environment is vital, to be endangered by the negative effects of Refuse Taxes.

This issue has been referred to the Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) on the Environment, on which I am the Sinn Féin representative. It will be the first test of whether the SPCs achieve their objective of increasing democracy and accountability of the councils.

Cllr Dessie Ellis
19 Dunsink Rd,
Dublin 11


Cavanagh Tribute

A Chairde,

The women ex-prisoners of Maghaberry Gaol would like to thank all those who attended the tribute to Ann Cavanagh in the Felons Club on 14 April. We would especially like to thank those who put their very best efforts into organising the function and who made it such a success. Our warmest thanks go to Tony Doherty, Long Kesh, for the Celtic Cross and to Andrea for the beautiful portrait, both of which where presented to Ann's daughter. Thanks to Dan who donated the frame and to Michael John and Robbie who donated prizes for the ballet. Thanks also go to Bik, Cruncher and friends who very kindly provided the music on the night. Finally, a special word of thanks for Dickie and the Felons Club, who were extremely supportive.

It was our pleasure to have known Ann during her imprisonment and we are proud to have honoured her memory. We know that we can speak for the Cavanagh family when we say that the tribute to Ann was a truly special occasion and a night to be remembered. We feel honoured to have been able to pay tribute to the strength and courage of Ann Cavanagh and are proud to have known her.

Women ex-POWs


Undemocratic EU Superstate

A Chairde,

`If we are to meet this historic challenge we must put into place the last brick in the building of European integration, namely political integration... the ultimate federal model,' said German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer yesterday. `Mr Fischer also suggested that if a majority of EU States did not agree to the founding of a European federation, then a smaller core group of europhile countries could lead the way.'

- The Guardian, London, Friday 13 May 2000

`Transforming the European Union into a single State with one army, one constitution and one foreign policy is the critical challenge of the age, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said yesterday.'

- The Guardian, London 26 Nov.1998

Do you personally - do the the Irish people - want to be part of a new country called Europe, with its own government, army, constitution and human rights, in which Ireland will be like a province, with its political independence and national democracy for most purposes abolished?

For that is where the EU is clearly heading, as indicated by German Foreign Minister Fischer last Thursday. His speech, which was approved by German Chancellor Schröder, echoes a similar one he made in 1998 quoted above. It also echoes other EU leaders.

A federation is a State, although the EU State that is now being built under German hegemony, with France desperately clinging on to Germany's coat-tails, is in reality more centralised and undemocratic than any existing multinational federation.

The next EU Treaty, now being drafted, is expected to be signed during France's EU Presidency in December. It is provisionally being called the `Treaty of Nice.' An EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, also currently being drafted, will shift final decision on our human rights from the Irish Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, to the EU's Court of Justice in Luxembourg - so giving the EU Court ultimate authority over virtually every aspect of our lives - if Germany succeeds in its ambition to have this Charter incorporated in the new `Treaty of Nice.' The euro becomes our day-to-day currency in 18 months. A European Army, which Mr Bertie Ahern's government has said Ireland will take part in, is to be ready by 2003, just one year after. Ireland will still be neutral, say our forked-tongued Dáil politicians, for we shall not be legally bound to go to war if other EU Members are attacked; but Ireland is willing in principle to join with them in attacking others - in an EU good cause of course! A currency, an army and a Human Rights Court are three key features of the EU State now being built, for which Germany's Foreign Minister aspires to have a Government and Constitution.

The essence of democracy is that citizens, by voting and organising together to change their government, can thereby change an existing law or have a new one put in its place. That is impossible in the EU. It is not possible for Irish citizens by voting or organising to change a single EU law. Nor is an EU democracy possible, for there is no European demos, no European people, that can give EU law-making popular legitimacy and authority. There are only European peoples - plural - in Europe's Nation States where alone resides the democracy that the EU and its phalanx of Eurofanatics and Euroacolytes are daily seeking to erode.

thony Coughlan
The National Platform

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