No One Ranting About Irish Democracy
June 6, 2008 - Editorial
IN 2000 former IRA men living in the U.S. were granted conditional parole as part of the peace process by the Clinton administration, but now its provisions are in jeopardy.
In an ill-timed move, Bush administration officials have begun to make it harder for the former IRA men to renew their parole conditions and have even hinted at efforts to remove the men from the U.S. because there is now peace in Ireland.
The former prisoners have now banded together to form an organization called Thar Saile, Irish for overseas, which has launched a broad based education and communications campaign around their issue.
It is beyond time that permanent legal status, as well as the right to live, work and travel, is given to these men who helped secure the peace process.
Efforts by the Bush administration to remove the men's parole status, however, seem to have increased. That would be a grave mistake and would force these men under ground again — maybe to becoming recruiting sergeants for anti-peace process sentiment still active in some circles in the U.S.
The original parole needs not to be terminated but made permanent. The men are technically still in "deferred action" status, which was granted them in 2000 by the Clinton administration. That means that they are forced to reapply several times a year to have their status continued, a completely unnecessary hassle that wears deeply on their families.
This is in stark contrast to the status of former paramilitary prisoners in Britain and Ireland. Over there, former paramilitaries have benefited from the outbreak of peace by being released from jail and being allowed to resume normal lives.
America should do no less for the IRA members over here. It is a positive aspect of the peace process, part of the moving on and healing process that is so vital.
It is also dangerous territory to try and change their parole status in a negative way. Trying to move against them at a time when several splinter IRA groups are still trying to restart hostilities is not a smart move. Yet there are signs, especially in the Pol Brennan case, that that is exactly what U.S. authorities are doing.
Brennan is one of those on parole. He was recently picked up in Texas at a checkpoint designed to catch illegal immigrants. Despite his parolee status he has been held ever since, and efforts to deport him seem underway.
In effect, the parole allowed former IRA members who had fled to America to make their lives here. Many of those concerned had played leading roles in convincing activist Irish American opinion to support the peace process.
For the men concerned, about a dozen in all, it was a welcome respite from lives of great fear haunted always by the reality that they could be deported in an instant if they were somehow discovered.
Many had come over during the early years of the Troubles and had built lives and families in America. The peace process became a major boost for them in securing their futures. Indeed, it was one of the most welcome by products of the process.
Now it appears to be in jeopardy again. The reality is that the men deserve their chance at a normal life in America.
It is time the Bush administration came to terms with that and made it happen.
2007 - Irish and Irish Americans thank the brave men and women of the IRA who for many years have defended the Irish community with their lives and property. What peace is currently enjoyed in NI is due their contributions
A group of American Congressmen have accused the British government of failing to protect East Belfast Catholics against loyalist attack.
In a letter to British Secretary of State John Reid, the five representatives condemned the failure of the RUC/PSNI to stop loyalist attacks on the small nationalist enclave. Joe Crowley, Ben Gilman, Jim Walsh, Richard Neal and Peter King said that such inaction only lent weight to the theory that the British Government and Unionist politicians wanted to force the IRA into breaking their ceasefire.
Sean O Lubaigh • 1 September 2006
With the end of summer upon us we also mark the end of the 25th anniversary of the 10 Freedom Fighters at Long Kesh who gave their lives for Irish Freedom. That dark and tragic chapter put to rest for another year, yet we must never let the sacrifices of the 10 dead slip from conscience. This is most important as Republicans at this very time are again fighting for the rights of Republican POWs held at Maghaberry Prison.
The Brits are trying one more time to criminalize the Republican Movement, and with the Good Friday Agreement, those hard won rights to political status was thrown to the wind and signed away buy the Brit collaborators. So now, 25 years later we find ourselves back in the same struggle as before. Conditions for the Freedom Fighter at Maghaberry are deteriorating at a quick pace imposing harsh, cruel and unsanitary practices on those Volunteers. The Brits have done everything possible they can to make those POWs break. No matter the 22- 23 hour lock ups, no matter the unsanitary cell conditions where they must eat next to the commode, no matter the visit denials that family members are met with to visit their loved ones (based on if a "drug sniffer" dog sits or stands), no matter what the Brits do, those Republican Volunteers will continue to protest until the 5 Demands are met. Right to free association, End to controlled movement, Right to full education, Right to separate visit facilities and the Right to organize the landings. That’s it! Have not the Brits learned anything in 25 years?
Right now the POWs have started a 48 hour fast in protest for their demands. I applaud the support the Prisoners are getting across Ireland in forms of pickets, marches, leafleting and using the media when ever possible to get the message out. Also the generous donations to ease the plight of the Fighters' families. Those of us in the U.S. however, find a media who will not print one word of the current prison fight the Irish Republicans are in. This media blackout is most discouraging but us over here must continue to write about the truth and try all means to bring this issue forward in the mainstream media. Great work has been done by groups of supporters here but we will continue the uphill fight to expose the unjust. Irish Republicans know that Freedom is not Free, but only gained thru the blood, sweat and tears of a hard fought struggle.
Welcome: This page, dedicated to those who have fought and died to unite Ireland. It explains and justifies why the IRA must and will continue their struggle for peace and justice until Ireland is free from British oppression and ongoing terrorism. Those who will struggle for freedom, until democratic and personal freedom is returned to all in NI.
Kathy Katie Sullivan
The Irish Republican Army
Heroes Unifying a Nation
Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence in any one generation of Irishmen, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes that Government for ever a usurpation and a crime against human progress. Ireland's history is full of martyred insurrectionists, starving rebels, and courageous militants. Thousands have given their lives to the glorious cause to expel England from their land forever. More will follow because England refuses to recognize all of Ireland as an independent country. More innocents will be lost because England can not let go of an empire long since dead. The desperate men and women in the IRA have seen the injustice championed by the occupying forces and are devoted to establishing a united and sovereign state of Ireland. The IRA has been used as protection and aggression from and against the English in the occupied Six Counties. They fight a constant battle for freedom and public truth. They must and will continue until Ireland is whole, and democratic and personal freedom is returned to all the people of Ireland once more.
The Irish Republican Army goes by many names: the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Provos, Volunteers, Republicans, and most important, ideally and historically, is the title Fenians or Fianna. The Fianna were the heroes of Celtic Ireland, protectors of the High Kingship and Ireland itself. The IRA, in turn, see themselves as protectors of Ireland and her people today. The IRA does not view themselves to be terrorists. The label terrorist is a English term to describe any one individual who uses force against England's occupying army. In other circumstances, ones in which the English are not the recipients of such violence, these people are considered freedom fighters' their deeds are heroic, and their cause is profound. However, the English are the recipients of such a cause. They are also the reason it is there. Throughout the centuries, the English have been the ones to terrorize the Irish. Eight hundred years of brutal treatment at the hands of the English have forced the people of Ireland to stand up for their right of self-determination and challenge the unlawful English rule in their country. The IRA is standing up for such rights. The IRA has reported several times to newspapers such as Republican News, that they are dedicated to finding a lasting peace in Ireland. The IRA also stands up for the rights of the individual in the North. They pick up where the Royal Ulster Constabulary and English Army have failed. The IRA polices areas the English are too afraid to enter. They protect the common citizen from sex offenders, thieves, joy riders and other petty criminals who exhibit detrimental behavior that threatens the fabric of Irish life. The IRA protects the individual Catholic and the rights of all the Irish in the North. Their actions are not out of blood lust, they fight to bring about democracy, justice and freedom the freedom denied their people for centuries.
Though the English believe otherwise, Ireland should and will decide Ireland's fate. England, nor the minority of English placed in Ireland to displace the local Irish inhabitants has any right to decide the future of Ireland. It is necessary for the English to leave in order for life to go on in Ireland as well as in England. According to Robert Maxwell, in an editorial in The Daily Mirror, the only way the Irish problem will go away, is if the English leave. They caused the problem and their interference is now hindering the solution. "The English had created the problem, the English had the power to solve it. They could be demoralized and convinced of the necessity to cut their losses in the North". Tony Parker, in an interview with AlecFriel, puts the solution to Ireland's problems into economic terms. The English will leave the occupied Six Counties only for economic reasons. Despite their claims, they do not care for the people, only what can be gained in the venture. Insofar, the Irish venture has yielded little, and cost the English everything. The English, however, claim that if they pull out of the North now, civil war will erupt, as the IRA will slaughter the 'innocent' Protestants. However, the IRA has made clear that the proletariat Protestants in the North are actually Irish. They are Irish that have been a front for English domination and tricked into believing that England is their mother-country. Part of the IRA's objective is to force the Protestants to reject England and become free). It is the goal of the IRA to bring democracy, self-determination, justice, unity and freedom to all the inhabitants of Ireland. The only way to accomplish this is if the English leave Ireland and return it to the Irish. When they do, all of Ireland will, for the first time in eight hundred years, be free to decide her own future.
The media portrays IRA Volunteers as thugs, common cutthroats, petty criminals and murderers. They are none of these things. When interviewed by Tony Parker, Marie Jones, a veteran Volunteer, was adamant about the IRA's criminal reputation. The IRA is not made up of criminals. They are idealists. A potential IRA recruit's background is checked extensively. If someone is found to have a criminal record, they are not accepted. The IRA is a group of principle and honor, fighting a long, tedious war. John Feehan states that those in the IRA have been forced into that lifestyle. They are not miscreants, fighting just to fight. They are dedicated. They are fighting to bring back decency and a normal life which has been denied them. P.J. McGroy also believes that individuals in the IRA were forced into that lifestyle. Most grew up in the occupied Six Counties among other Republican Catholics and were discriminated against by the bourgeoisie Protestants, who control everything. Nothing is shared. The Protestants have everything, and the Catholics nothing. Even the British Army, sent to protect the Catholics turned and persecuted them, and murdered them along side the Protestants. Eddie Boyle, a veteran Volunteer, says he and others like him join the IRA because they are idealists, not because they can count on status, money, or a pension, like their English counterparts. They want freedom, and are willing to fight and die to affirm the truth James Connolly died proclaiming in 1916.
The Irish war did not have to start, but oppression, spite, and greed exhibited by the Protestants unwilling to relent their power catapulted the situation. The English and Protestant majority ignored the Northern Catholics and saw their peaceful demonstrations as a threat. They returned this threat with military force. Ignored and then brutalized, the Catholics had no choice but to fight back. The Republic of Ireland is not clear of all blame, claims John Feehan. The South could have prevented the war, but fear of retaliation by the English forced the Republic to react with indifference to a people they constitutionally claim as their own. Feehan also says that the British were welcomed when they first came to the North. They were welcomed because they were seen as saviors, rescuers from Protestant brutality. Then the murders started. The defenseless Nationalists turned to their only help: the Provisional IRA. The South had tried to ignore the Nationalists, and the IRA answered instead, professing to protect their people. The English are not in Ireland to protect the citizens. Rather, they are figures and enforcers of the English domination in Ireland. They pose a large and detrimental block in the peace that the IRA and its political wings wish to come about.
Many wonder why the IRA hits the innocent, why they destroy so much of a land they profess to protect. The answer is simple. Eddie Boyle says that the IRA's main goal is to disrupt the enemy's way of life and the economy of the North. They will do anything to make sure the Army is always trying to second guess the IRA and figure out what is going to happen next. If life is uncomfortable, the English will not want to stay there. If they don't stay their, then the IRA has accomplished one of its many goals. All the paramilitary groups do bad things. However, bad things happen in all wars, even those waged by the United States. The current war in Ireland has gone on for 80 years, even though it has never been formally recognized as such. Feehan also states that Ireland is fighting a war. They are fighting a war to rid and protect themselves from an enemy army, just as France did in WWII. Just as England would have if the Blitz had been slightly more successful. They are removing a force that has caused all the despair and hardships of the citizens of Ireland.
Though they are the most publicized, the IRA is not the only paramilitary group in the occupied Six Counties, they are just the only ones to go to jail. Anna Whitely, who lost her Republican husband to a Protestant death squad, says "today in Belfast, there are men walking around with guns in their pockets who're licensed to kill. They're British". This is England's response to a nation's cry for freedom, or in their eyes, terrorism. They send out Loyalist death squads, allow them to hold guns, never demand they disarm, even while the IRA must if they are to have peace, and never try them if they get caught. The English response to the IRA is retaliation and media propaganda.
The English control much of what their people hear, read, see and do. Within the North, propaganda and discrimination are very much apart of daily life for any individual. Alec Friel told interviewer Tony Parker that his job would be in danger if he were even suspected of holding a Nationalist viewpoint. In England, however, there are known eccentrics or Marxists, and nothing happens to them. In the North, anyone can be discharged from a job for holding to an unpopular view. The media propaganda is a dangerous game. Because there is no true information, people let the war last longer, and needless lives are lost. Important bits of speeches, and entire statements justifying the IRA's actions are left unpublished. Instances of murders on innocent Republican civilians by members of the English Army and legal Protestant paramilitary groups are never released to the public. England controls not only what the people of England read, but also what those in America read. The stories of daily war have never been allowed in the newspapers in England or America. No one is actually aware of the constant fighting, the dying and the double standard the Catholics live under in the occupied Six Counties. If they were, then perhaps the war would not have lasted so long, and there would be more pressure to stop it immediately. Another instance of leaving out information, or misinforming the people, comes when there is talk of bombs. When a Volunteer cell plants a bomb, there is always a warning given by the IRA. The Police claim they are only given twenty minutes at best to evacuate the people in the area. In reality, as Eddie Boyle told Tony Parker, the IRA gives at least an hour advance before detonating a bomb. The British use the time frame to make themselves look better, and risk needless lives. The use of media propaganda is dangerous and unethical. Since they cannot or will not fight the Irish because of political liabilities, the English, instead of leaving Ireland alone, wastes needless lives on the lack and misuse of information to maintain a dead empire.
Democracy, self-determination, justice, unity and freedom are the main goals of the IRA. However, before they go into another peace process, the IRA, through Gerry Adams, has conceded that they and the English must dissolve the war perspective of suspicion, preconditions and hostility. England and Ireland must trust. They must get past who has won or lost, who was the victor and who was the loser. In fact, the IRA and Gerry Adams challenge John Major and his government to hold true to their commitments to peace. They challenge him to continue peace talks and lead Ireland and England into negotiations that will rid Ireland of strife. It is the absence of trust and a failure to address and heal old wounds that caused the breakdown of the recent IRA cessation. It was the hope that peace would come, however "that hope and expectation was slowly and relentlessly strangled by a British government which squandered the historic opportunity presented to it.
The IRA was promised immediate, all-party talks and negotiations. So far,
these efforts have been blocked, and the Sinn Fein is not allowed to enter in them. Mary
Pearson, writer for Troops Out Magazine notes the double standard in this policy.
"Sinn Fein have a clear mandate to be represented and should be at the talks with no
pre-conditions imposed. How can progress be made in any dispute if you only talk to people
who agree with you . . ." (n. pag). However, the English repeatedly broke their word
and blocked any sort of peace. Warnings of cease-fire breakdowns were treated as threats
and the IRA was obliged to take their own steps in speeding up negotiations. IRA was
forced to resume active duty. Gerry Adams in his letter to the State Department and White
House defends their decision. The British had not upheld their end of the peace bargain.
Troops had not left, and those that were still in the North continued training. None of
the political prisoners were released and their existence was denied. Marches of the
Orange order, flaunting English domination were not stopped and the non-democratic special
terrorist laws have been renewed (n. pag). Kyle Pope of The Wall Street Journal brings up
the preconditions imposed on the IRA before they would be allowed in the peace talks. The
English demanded the IRA give up their guns, an issue not mandatory for the cease-fire,
and a pre-condition the IRA was vehemently opposed to. P. O'Neill, in his third IRA
statement, said "The blame for the failure thus far of the Irish peace process lies
squarely with John Major and his Government". This type of stalling and suspicion is
not new to England's dealing with the IRA. John Rogan reminds his readers that England
used a common tactic in the latest peace negotiations. This type of failed peace process
has happened before. The British are following a habitual road of stalling and putting up
demands that can not and will not be fulfilled. This is, after all, how the
"Troubles" began in 1969 (n. page.).
"How many more lives will be lost before the British have decided they had murdered enough and were forced to get out of Ireland forever?" (Sands qtd. in "IRA Terrorism" 98). England is a foreign entity in a land that does not want it there. They have usurped the democracy, self-determination, justice, unity and freedom of a people long tyrannized. The IRA stands up for the rights of its people and demands that the unwanted and deplorable entity leave. The IRA fights daily, without a reward save the glory and hope of freedom, against brutality and equivocation. They will succeed in driving out the alien army, and when they do, the right of the people of Ireland to decide their own fate will be returned, and a nation torn by strife will be whole.
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