Ciarán Ferry has been illegally imprisoned by the U.S. Government
for 477 days.
HELP IS URGENTLY NEEDED! FINANCIAL GOAL IS TO RAISE at least
$2,000 a Month!!! PLEASE DO WHAT YOU CAN!
A legal team has been formed in order to step up the fight on
behalf of Ciaran Ferry's case. Volunteers are urgently needed to
help with this campaign. The legal team has determined that $2,000
per month is needed in order to keep the legal battle going.
This amount doesn't seem like much when you consider there are 40
million Americans who claim Irish decent, but YOUR HELP IS NEEDED
in order to achieve this goal.
This is a critical junction in the Ferry's fight to remain in the
United States and they need YOU to help! Do what you can whether
it is to pledge a monthly donation, a one time donation or to
organize fundraisers. Let us know if you would like to help
fundraise or contact supporters asking that they help.
You may send a check or money order to:
Ciarán Ferry Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 740071
Arvada, CO 80006-0071
Please make your check or money order payable to the Ciarán Ferry
Legal Defense Fund.
CREDIT CARD DONATIONS ACCEPTED at:
Click on PAY PAL
For more information visit: http://www.freeciaranferry.com
Updates will be sent periodically letting you know how we are doing
toward reaching the monthly goal.
Irish Deportees of America Committee
** Go here for live links to photos and documents on this story
GAZA FURY AFTER ISRAELI PULLBACK
The UN estimates at least 1,600 people have lost their homes
The scale of the destruction in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza has become apparent after Israeli troops pulled out of two key areas.
During their three-day raid Israeli troops demolished homes and ripped up streets; the local zoo lies in ruins.
The BBC's Gaza correspondent says local residents, who are venturing onto the streets once more, are furious.
Israel says the incursion, in which at least 40 Palestinians died, was aimed at destroying arms-smuggling tunnels.
Meanwhile a senior World Health Organisation official has expressed concern about the health services in Palestinian areas, saying they could be on the brink of collapse.
Dr David Nabarro said the current security crisis and restrictions on movement had left vulnerable people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank at greater risk of malnutrition and disease.
The Israeli army insists its latest operation in Gaza was aimed only at demolishing houses that were concealing tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt.
Israeli sources indicated that the army's hunt for illicit tunnels in Gaza would continue despite the pullback.
Most of the Israeli tanks left the Tel Sultan and Brazil neighbourhoods at daybreak on Friday, residents said.
The BBC's Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston, says the Israeli troops occupied the north side of the Brazil neighbourhood for just one day, but what they did during that time will be remembered for many years.
A large olive orchard has been destroyed; there is not a tree left standing, and every street around it has been churned up by the tanks, our correspondent says.
The tarmac has been stripped from the roads and the front of shops sheered off by the passing heavy armour, our correspondent adds.
Along with the demolished homes the only zoo in the Gaza Strip has been ruined. Most of the nearly 80 animals have either escaped or been killed.
The offensive was launched after 13 Israeli soldiers were killed by Palestinian militants in the Rafah area last week.
The local leader of the radical Hamas movement died in an Israeli missile strike, Palestinian medical sources said. And as Israeli forces moved deeper into Rafah, trading fire with gunmen the death toll mounted.
UN Security Council resolution
Rafah's mortuary overflowed and many of the dead have had to be stored in freezers in different parts of town.
Following the violence on Wednesday the UN Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the deaths and demolitions.
The UN says recent house demolitions in Rafah by the Israeli army have left about 1,600 residents homeless.
The resolution, which was adopted by 14 votes to 0, also urged Israel not to demolish homes in violation of international law.
The US, which usually vetoes anti-Israeli resolutions, abstained from the vote.
Tomorrow marks the 23rd anniversary of the deaths of two brave republicans on hunger strike. On that day May 21, 1981, Raymond McCreesh, the third IRA volunteer to join the H-Block hunger strike for political status, died at 2 a.m. after 61 days on hunger strike. Patsy O'Hara, former leader of the Irish National Liberation Army prisoners in the H-Blocks, also joined Raymond on hunger strike on the same day, and like Raymond, died on May 21, 1981 at 11.29 p.m. "Even in death his tortures would not let him rest. When the O'Hara family received his remains in the early hours of the following morning, his nose had been broken and his corpse bore several burn marks inflicted after his death." (Originally from the An Cumann Cabhrach brochure of 1981 as reprinted in the TAL Fanzine, which I cannot find a copy of this year.--Biographies from Larkspirit.)
MAN LUCKY TO ESCAPE ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION
A West Belfast man has told of how he is lucky to be alive today after he managed to escape from the bruising clutches of three loyalists who, he says, abducted him on the Stewartstown Road.
The 28 year old who wishes to remain anonymous said the abduction was the biggest shock of his life and that there was no doubt that his life was on the line.
"One minute I was waiting for a black taxi at the side of the road to go and get my hair cut and the next I was in the back seat of a car, fighting for my life."
Last Thursday afternoon around 3.30pm, the victim from Poleglass was waiting for a black taxi outside the Dairy Farm when a black car pulled up with three men inside.
They told him to get in, which he refused to do, and then using brute force they pulled him into the back seat.
"The car drove all the way down the Stewartstown Road and then down to Finaghy crossroads where they pulled off to go down the Lisburn Road,” he said.
“Then they drove down one of those streets opposite Creighton’s Garage, which takes you to Taughmonagh, and then they stopped.
“The whole time I was fighting with this man in the back. The other two were sitting in the front and I can remember them shouting to the one in the back 'shut him up'.
"But he couldn't knock me out because I was fighting with everything I’d got, and when we stopped I heard the central locking click and I knew the doors were open so I made a run for it and I got away.
“When I looked back they were laughing."
Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson said from the nature of the attempted abduction it is clear that unionist paramilitaries remain active in targeting nationalists.
"It is extremely fortunate that this man escaped with his life. In the run-up to the Orange Order marching season it is clear that throughout Belfast unionist paramilitaries are intent on stoking up tensions.
“At the moment they appear to be engaged in a campaign to murder or seriously injure a nationalist.
"I would urge nationalists to be extremely vigilant.
“I would also call on civic, community, church and political leaders within the unionist community to engage and challenge the unionist paramilitaries to bring an end to this campaign.
“Recent ambivalent attitudes from unionist politicians in particular have done little to send out the clear message that such sectarian attacks are unacceptable."
The victim reported the incident to the PSNI a day after the abduction, however he says he received little help from staff at Woodbourne Barracks about his plight.
"When I told them about it they asked me why did it take me so long to report it. I told them I was in shock about the whole thing and was only able to get my wits about me that day.
“They said I was just in it to get a claim. They just didn't seem to want to know about it at all.
“Finally they told me there was no one there to handle my case so I would have to go to CID headquarters in Lisburn to get it sorted. The whole way I was treated wasn't right at all.
"I left and went to Dunmurry station and got it sorted there instead.
“I got the biggest shock of my life last week and I want other people to know about it because it happened to me in broad daylight, and there's not much you can do when it’s one against three.
“It frightened the life out of me and I haven't been out since it happened," he added.
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
SINN FEIN TO CHALLENGE IMC FINE IN COURT
05/19/04 06:46 EST
British government moves to fine Sinn Fein over alleged
continued paramilitary activity by the IRA are to be
challenged in the courts, the party said today.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Bairbre de Brun confirmed the move
and also condemned the IMC (Independent Monitoring
Commission" whose report last month prompted the fines.
The IMC was set up at the behest of Ulster Unionist leader
David Trimble last year.
The West Belfast MLA said: "The IMC was established by the
British and Irish governments last year. It is clearly in
contravention of the Good Friday Agreement. The role of the
IMC was to facilitate the exclusion of Sinn Fein, to soft
pedal on unionist violence and to ignore totally the
behaviour of the British government, the party most in
breach of the Agreement. The IMC is not independent, that
much is obvious from its remit, its membership and the fact
that it bases its decisions on reports from the PSNI, the
British Army and the securocrats."
Last month the Monitoring Commission claimed it had evidence
that the IRA and loyalist paramilitary groups remained
active and were involved in a variety of illegal activities.
IMC members warned Sinn Fein that they could reveal the
identities of senior members of the party in alleged
leadership roles within the IRA.
Republicans have been angered by the establishment by the
British and Irish governments of the commission and were
furious when on the back of the first IMC report, the
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy imposed fines on Sinn
Fein and the loyalist Progressive Unionist Party.
The commission`s members are former Northern Ireland
Assembly Speaker Lord Alderdice, ex-Metropolitan Police
anti-terrorist squad chief John Grieve, retired Irish civil
servant Joe Brosnan and ex-United States CIA deputy director
Ms de Brun, Sinn Fein`s European Parliament candidate in
Northern Ireland, denounced the IMC`s report as a proxy
report by members of the British military and intelligence
establishment opposed to the peace process.
The former Stormont Health Minister said: "The
recommendations are clearly discriminatory and subvert the
democratic and electoral rights and mandate of Sinn Fein and
our electorate. We already stated that we would challenge
this attack on our party with every means at our disposal
and at every door we go to in the upcoming election
campaign. We have now taken a decision to challenge the
British Government sanction against our party through the
"The British government action is a breach of the European
Convention on human rights and we intend to challenge this
through the courts in the coming period," said Ms de Brun.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein chairman Mitchell McLaughlin has said
that the British and Irish governments should initiate a
programme to deliver on aspects of the Good Friday Agreement
that do not depend on the participation of unionists.
During a visit to London yesterday, Mr. McLaughlin said the
two governments could not allow a unionist lack of
self-confidence to delay delivery on equality, policing,
demilitarisation and all-Ireland functions.
These issues were basic entitlements and did not depend on
the existence of the assembly, he said.
Mr McLaughlin suggested that the Irish government in
particular should be vigorous in its promotion of
all-Ireland social and economic development which would
alleviate problems created by partition, strengthen links
between people in all parts of the island and integrate the
economy and society.
"While Sinn Féin would share the aim of achieving the
maximum support of unionist parties, we are a long way from
being convinced that the DUP is serious about coming to an
accommodation that would permit the re-establishment of the
political institutions," he said.
"It is evident that the nationalist and republican
constituency have a confidence in our politics and our
assessment that the agreement, fully and faithfully
implemented, can provide the mechanism by which we can
achieve our political aspirations."
"However, the unionist political leaderships' confidence in
their ability to maintain and strengthen the status quo of
partition is diminishing."
Mr McLaughlin said that unionism in general had not yet come
to terms with the inevitable constitutional implications of
change, nor had it brought forward a political leadership
that would provide rational arguments in defence of the link
with Britain or the ability to give leadership in
circumstances where further constitutional change becomes
"The old catch cry of 'what we have we hold' is the
political mantra of the current leadership of unionism, as
it was for the unionist party in the past," he said.
"If it was otherwise, then the unionist community, through
that political leadership, would have the confidence to
embrace the agreement in all its elements, go back into the
institutions and allow the process to develop unhindered. We
may need, therefore, to be patient a little longer until
such a leadership emerges within unionism."
**The above link is from Cryptome and consists of photographs that anyone in favour of the so-called "liberation of the Iraquis" should take a look at. The first one says it all. Supposing it were your child or sister--how would you feel about the forces who did it?
JUSTICE FOR THE FORGOTTEN
UVF bomb kills 26 in Dublin, 17 May 1974
The Dublin and Monaghan bombs account for the single greatest loss of life in any one day of the Troubles and the biggest mass murder incident in the Republic of Ireland. The bombs exploded without warning on 17 May 1974 killing 33 men, women and children and injuring hundreds more. The three cars used in the Dublin attack had been stolen in Belfast and the car used in the Monaghan bomb had been stolen in Portadown.
Twenty-six people died in Dublin when three car bombs went off within minutes of each other during the Friday evening rush hour. The first exploded at 3.30pm at Parnell Street. Less than a minute later another bomb exploded outside O'Neill's Shoe Shop in Talbot Street and the third went off in South Leinster Street, near Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament). In just 90 seconds the centre of Dublin was like a battlefield. Ninety minutes later in Monaghan, while customers at Greacen's Pub watched the horror of Dublin on the television, another car bomb parked outside exploded without warning killing seven people. One Dublin survivor who was five at the time told the Irish Times on the twentieth anniversary of the bombing that when he came to his senses some minutes after the explosion his bones were literally sticking out of his legs and that the huge piece of metal he felt protruding from his face and head had come from a blue Avenger car.
The attacks coincided with the Loyalist Ulster Workers' Council Strike. Sammy Smyth, a UDA spokesman at the time of the bombings, said: "I am very happy about the bombings in Dublin. There is a war with the Free State and now we are laughing at them." Although no loyalist group claimed responsibility at the time, the Ulster Volunteer Force admitted in 1993 that it carried out the attacks, "aided by no outside bodies". They were responding to a Yorkshire Television documentary, Hidden Hand: The Forgotten Massacre which alleged British intelligence had provided the bombers with military assistance. Previous UVF bombs were primitive devices. The Dublin and Monaghan bombs required an extraordinary degree of military sophistication.
Carnage on Talbot Street, Dublin
Since the broadcast, the relatives of those killed have sought to clear up the mystery of who was behind the bombing. The documentary alleged the Garda Síochana (Irish police) and the RUC knew the identity of the bombers in the days following the explosion. The relatives are concerned that successive Irish governments have done nothing to determine who was responsible and are campaigning for an independent inquiry. No one has yet been charged or convicted. There is suspicion that British military intelligence had been involved in the bombings.
**Sorry I did not post this in a timely way--major issues at home...
SURVIVORS REMEMBER TERROR STRIKE
--From correspondents in Dublin
May 17, 2004
PRIME Minister Bertie Ahern joined survivors of Ireland's deadliest
terrorist atrocity today to remember the day 30 years ago when
Northern Irish extremists killed 33 people with car bombs.
A lone bagpiper played as survivors laid floral wreaths at a memorial
to the dead on Dublin's Talbot St, where one of four car bombs
detonated without warning amid shoppers and commuters on May 17, 1974.
An outlawed anti-Catholic group, the Ulster Volunteer Force, later
claimed responsibility, but suspicions have long lingered that
British soldiers or police from Northern Ireland were involved.
Last year, a judge-led probe commissioned by Ahern's government found
reasonable suspicions, but no proof, of British security force
involvement. It recommended that Britain establish a public inquiry
with full investigative powers, but Britain rejected the call.
Justice for the Forgotten, a pressure group for victims of the Dublin-
Monaghan bombs, today called on Mr Ahern to launch a public inquiry
within the Republic of Ireland immediately and to press for full
Mr Ahern said that would be pointless because the key potential
witnesses - among them former members of the outlawed UVF and British
security forces - were either dead or unwilling to participate.
"We could be here having an inquiry, but 49 of the top 50 people we
want couldn't come, so we wouldn't actually achieve anything," Mr
At a connected memorial ceremony today in Monaghan, where a bomb
killed seven people about 90 minutes after the three Dublin blasts,
several survivors said their families have struggled for decades to
overcome the loss.
"They say time heals and in some ways it does, but it really is very
tough going," said Iris Boyd, whose 73-year-old father, Archie
Harper, was fatally wounded by shrapnel in the head. "Our lives have
never been the same since Daddy was killed ... and we have never been
told who really killed him and all the others."
The Dublin-Monaghan bombs were by far the bloodiest terrorist attacks
committed in the Republic of Ireland during the past 35 years of
conflict over neighbouring Northern Ireland, a part of the United
Kingdom. Nobody was ever charged in connection with any of the
The attacks helped to destroy Northern Ireland's first major peace
agreement, the Sunningdale accord of 1973, which established a new
Catholic-Protestant administration for the province.
In May 1974, Protestant workers mounted mass protests that brought
the province to a standstill and toppled the power-sharing system.
Most Protestants objected that the Sunningdale deal required the
Northern Ireland administration to forge formal political links with
the Irish Republic - the same basic formula that formed the basis for
the province's Good Friday peace accord in 1998.
The Associated Press
Today marks Ciaran Ferry's 470th day in jail.
This week, his family received devastating news that the Board of
Immigration Appeals has denied Ciaran's appeal. The new legal team is working diligently to determine the next course of action before our government attempts to deport him back to Ireland.
Ciaran's latest journal entry written prior to this news follows:
Saturday, May 1:
Now that spring is upon us, the sunrise of the last few mornings has been nothing short of spectacular. I enjoy the exaggerated size of the sun as it slowly climbs from behind the horizon, with the peachy-orange hue it exudes during its ascent.
It is such times that send me into reflection on weekend spring mornings spent fishing with my father-in-law at one of the local lakes that dot metro Denver and the hinterland. Those few hours before the city gets into its stride are so refreshing and peaceful. There is the simplicity of sitting by the water enjoying the still, cool breeze of the early morning.
As I gaze out my window and watch the early morning commuters make their way to work, I wish I was among them even as I remember when I was, I wished I was somewere else. In the evening, as the setting sun castes shadows over my view and the commuters make their way home, I remember doing the same. And I remember being satisfied with my little contribution. The most rewarding time was arriving home to Princeton Junction on a Friday evening. After a fifty-mile journey from my place of work in Paterson, I anticipated our favorite 4-cheese pizza from Al-John's and a bottle of white zinfandel. As I opened the front door I would make sure that the bell on the back of the door clanged to announce my arrival and Fiona would be alerted. She would wait for me to appear in the hallway. These are special moments that are magnified by the bleakness of our present ordeal.
I don't mean for these reflections to appear as memories of someone in the
twilight of life. It seems to me that reflections are melancholy by their very
nature. Places like these: jails, prisons, institutions of confinement, turn
people to reflection because the present rarely offers anything to savor. And
the past is usually where we find our identity; not in our
own appearance in prison garb or sleeping in the same "room" as the toilet.
The indignity of being stripped of control to do even the most trivial task like
when to turn off the light, (which by the way, is never off) or have a shave,
forces the mind to move away from the present. So I reflect, perhaps in an
unconscious effort to muddy the present by recalling some gem of an occurrence to
steal that time away from my unpleasant surroundings.
Now I have another weapon in my arsenal to ward off the trappings of this
place. I have been given the privilege of a radio. I was not fully aware of the
impact that the absence of music had had on me. That first moment when the
music flowed from the speaker left me drunk with joy! The window to the world was
all mine to not share, unlike the newspaper or the TV. I don't mean that in a
selfish way. But the control to block my world out by closing my eyes and turning the radio up so the headphones blocked all sound!
Before THE RADIO, there were few avenues of escape. A good book could send
you into another world. A letter could allow you to share in the life of the
correspondent. There were the bittersweet visits that lasted for the briefest
moments under the tick-tick pressure of "Beat the Clock." There is even a buzzer
to tell you when time is up.
On these visits I peer through the Plexiglas at my young daughter as she
frolics about the visiting area. Occasionally she does something that makes you
catch your breath and literally fight back the tears that force their way into
the wells of the eye. On one occasion Fiona blew a kiss into the phone; the
sweetest, most beautiful gesture that a father could ever hope for. If only I
could pick her up and hug her!
I have come to see a pattern with these moments. They are usually followed by
anger and rage for the indignity and loss as a family. What keeps me going,
resisting the urge to give up, is the knowledge that there will be brighter and
happier days ahead. But having said this, these times of rage and sadness are
a heavy burden. These months of separation are gone forever, never to be
retrieved. The senselessness of the ordeal sometimes
loses for me the goal of the pursuit of justice. Why make a young child, who
has no idea what is going on, go through such negative emotions?
I hate the way this place makes me feel at times. The hopelessness,
powerlessness, doubt, and the ability to conquer another day of uncertainty make me
want to throw in the towel. Of course I want the best for my family. I believe
the best rests in the opportunities of this country. What a paradox that seems
at the moment! There are positive days. There are negative days that leave me
with little patience. There is a surprising amount of tolerance here but the
potential for conflict lurks beneath the surface.
After all that, I feel ashamed that I am complaining about all this. I recall
what those men and women in Armagh went through during the dark days of the
late seventies and early seventies. There, deprivation and death were the order
of the day. Could I have endured such horror? I really don't think so.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:
DONATE. Make a charitable contribution to the Ciarán Ferry Legal Defense
Ciarán Ferry Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 740071
Arvada CO 80006-0071
CONTACT Officials. Send polite letters of inquiry on this case to:
Mr. Doug Maurer
Department of Homeland Security
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
4730 Paris Street
Denver, CO 80239
Cc: Mr. John Good
Department of Homeland Security
Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
11901 East 30th Avenue
Aurora, CO 80610
Cc: John Ashcroft
Office of the United States Attorney General
Washington DC 80530
Cc: Tom Ridge
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20258
Cc: Michael C. Johnson
United States Attorney's Office
1225 17th Street #700
Denver, CO 80202
Please be sure to mark your correspondence "RE: Ciaran Ferry A# 95-424-147"
ORGANIZE. Increase awareness of the case. Encourage your local
Irish-American social groups, organizations and businesses to organize
fundraisers and rallies to support Ciarán.
WRITE to Ciarán and let him know that you support his campaign. Letters may
be sent to:
P.O. Box 16700
Golden, CO 80402-6700
Ciarán is allowed to receive paperback books and magazines through regular
US mail. He is no longer able to receive stamps. If you would like to send
money towards Ciarán's jail account to aid him in the purchase of food,
toiletries and postage costs, please send a check or money order made out to the
Ciarán Ferry Legal Defense Fund, with a note that the money is for Ciarán directly.
The address is: Ciarán Ferry Legal Defense Fund, PO Box 740071, Arvada CO
GET POLITICANS INVOLVED: Get politicians, particularly Members of
Congress and the Senate, involved in asking questions about ALL of the Irish
Deportee cases in America (i.e.- Ciarán Ferry, Malachy McAllister, and John
For more information visit: http://www.freeciaranferry.com
MEMORIAL DEDICATED TO BOMB VICTIMS
Thirty-three people died on the Troubles' bloodiest day
A memorial to the victims of the Monaghan bombing in the Republic of Ireland has been dedicated by Irish President Mary McAleese.
Seven people were killed in the attack on the town centre on 17 May 1974.
The atrocity occurred just 90 minutes after a bombing in Dublin killed 26 people, including a pregnant woman.
A total of four bombs exploded and resulted in the biggest loss of life on a single day in the Troubles.
The Ulster Volunteer Force admitted 10 years ago that it was responsible for the bombings.
However, no-one has ever been convicted of the attacks which injured more than 250 people.
On Sunday, President McAleese met relatives of the Monaghan victims before officially dedicating the memorial.
Evelyn Conlon, who has written a book commemorating the tragedy, said it will mark an important day for the town. "I think it is about time there was some kind of public recognition of the people who lost their lives," she said.
Survivors and relatives of those killed in the bombings want a public inquiry into the attacks.
In April, an inquest into the bombings re-opened almost 30 years after the attacks.
The inquest came a month after an Irish parliamentary committee recommended that a public inquiry into the bombings should be held in the UK.
It also recommended an inquiry into the investigation by the Gardai at the time.
Last December, a report by Mr Justice Henry Barron said there were grounds for suspecting the bombers may have had help from members of British security forces, but there was no conclusive proof.
The Barron report said the group responsible for the attacks in Dublin was capable of doing so without help from any section of the security forces in Northern Ireland.
However, this did not rule out the involvement of individual members of the security forces.
Many of the grieving relatives believe the UVF was helped by British intelligence service operatives aiming to warn the Irish Government not to interfere in Northern Ireland's affairs.
The bombings took place while Protestant workers held a general strike in Northern Ireland to bring down the power-sharing government set up under the Sunningdale Agreement.
Address given by IRSP Ard Comhairle Terry Harkin to Fringe Meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party:
Comrades, let me first thank you for this invitation. It is an honour for us to be invited to address this meeting organised by the SRSP--one of the few socialist and republican groupings left who actually conform to standards legislation by meaning what they say on the packet. Let's face it; if we lived in a society governed by advertising standards, there would be more than the British Labour Party in the dock for false advertising.
But we don't; we live in a society where a government's only reason for
being is to provide fodder for big business and novo-imperialism--fodder to
be used, exploited, exported, burnt out, degraded and tossed away.
Comrades we live in a world where, if governments do not provide that
fodder cheaply enough, then it's no problem; other fodder can easily be
obtained from other governments who will willingly sell the children of
their land into servitude for a pittance in tax, such is their lack of pride.
India, one of the largest and naturally richest places on the face of the
planet, is reduced to selling its children into sweat shops and call
centres because its natural resources have been systematically raped for
centuries by colonial imperialists who retained their assets and paid
little or no reparations on "disengagement".
South Africa, where the diamonds and gold under an ANC government should be
the property of the people of South Africa, yet we see the mines still in
the hands of multinationals and the people of that nation still enslaved
and still digging their own resources from their own land for strangers.
In Iraq and Afghanistan the story is much the same. Although in these
nation states the novo imperialists have the decency to come with painted
faces, Bull Pups or M 16s at the ready. Here they come as mercenaries in
the pay of high capitalism, resplendent in their traditional tribal garb.
In Ireland and Scotland we know these scenarios well; it is the way of the
bully, the rule of the bigot and thief. It is the conquerors' way and we too
have drunk from this cup. We understand it; however, what I can't understand
is why? Why do we let it happen? Not you and I here today comrades, but we
as a society. Why? The answer seems to be simple; we let it happen because
it's easy to. It's easy (but not cheap) to dress your kids in trendy
brands even though you know for a fact they were put together for a
pittance by children and other exploited workers in some far flung place
you will never see and know the pain of.
So you're content to spend the equivalent of the average national wage on a
top, jeans and trainers for just one of your kid's. It's easy to let your
kids spend your money on Westlife CD's even though you know that you're
putting money into the pockets of those who sold their birthright to sell
records by endorsing little red paper flowers to remember with "pride" the
fallen of an army that levelled large parts of their home town (in living
memory) and who tied one of the greatest labour leaders of all time to a
chair and shot him. Like I said before, it's easy.
When I was young, the brother of comrade Patsy O' Hara, then on hunger
strike, once told me an undeniable truth during a conversation. He said,
"Just because you have a bit of carpet and a colour TV in your living room,
it doesn't mean that you're not being oppressed".
Things have changed of course--wooden floors, PC's, FST's and DVD's now
festoon our living rooms; but in essence we are more oppressed than ever and
in our unwillingness as a society to grasp this nettle, we oppress others.
Who made your shirt? How much were they paid? How much did you pay? What
was the profits margin? These are questions every one should be asking but
only a few socialists are.
Let's extrapolate that to include the world and Irish questions. The Ronald
Reagan New World Order exploits of Tony and Bush jr have reduced the world
to a war zone in waiting. The hypocrisy used as a justification to get us
to this point are as frightening as the situation itself. It seems to
work something like this. First Britain and the US sell you what they call
WMD; you go off and use it for its intended use. Then, the UK and US invade
your land and thieve your oil because you used the weapons they sold you.
That's nice work if you can get it. It's true; it's cool to be Tony and
Doublya. No one, not even the UN can stand against you. With the media
moguls in your pocket (or is that you in their pay) you can say what you
want and their hirelings will sanitise it and dumb it down or sex it up for
a population devoid of the ability or will to question the obvious reality
In Ireland the same tactics are employed; no one questions the government
and Pro Good Friday parties. No one seems able or willing to look beyond
the hype coming from these groups. They can't get past worrying where the
next pair of Reebok is coming from, and that is the only thing that is
keeping the GFA alive.
I mean come on, what is it for? Who does it serve and just why in the name
of God are the American novo-imperialists involved? I don't even pretend to
know the answers to these questions but I do know this. It is not for the
working class in Ireland North or South, Prod or Taig. It is not the
instrument of reunification it has been touted as. It has copper fastened
partition, enshrined in law sectarianism to a point never dreamed of by
Carson and Craigavon at the formation of the Orange State. It has deprived
the indigenous (and I do not use that word out of context) population of
the North of what little cover offered by Articles II/III of the Republic's
constitution. It serves no one other than the artificially planted
Ascendancy and their artificial state. The reality gap on the loyalist side
is very glaring in Ireland; they can't decide what to worry more about--their
Britishness or the next pair of Nike's.
The English, as the Scot's and Irish know well, have a decidedly funny take
on democracy. First they invade you, killing as many as they can at the
start to terrorise the others. Then they splash a bit of money about, buy
who they can, kill or forcibly evict those they can't. Move their own
people on to the land then call an election, blacken all those who stand
against them terrorists and enemies of democracy. Sound familiar? Ireland,
Scotland, Wales, Afghanistan, Iraq and wherever next. It's the English way,
the American way, the Old Colonial and Novo Imperialist way. The beauty
today is the same as it always been, because you own the media or it owns
you, you get to regurgitate all the old lines and spoon feed them to the
people in the sure belief that 90% will swallow it whole. Why, again I ask
why? And this time I'm not talking about society I'm talking about us.
Comrades we are the other 10%, and we are shared, marginalised,
compartmentalised and demonised. All by our own hand. Sectarianism, elitism
and sheer inability to work with other groups and groupings within the left
has handed victory to the enemies of the working class time and again.
At times like this I always remember my first encounter with the SWP some
20 years ago at Speakers Corner. It was a Bloody Sunday March that was just
forming up to move off to Kilburn High Road. Back in those days the march
went to Kilburn and the call was Troops Out and Self Determination for the
Irish people. I miss the old days, but anyway. The NF attacked the march as
it was forming up and comrades from Red Action and the Socialist Federation
ran out to defend the crowd. It was then that the SWP chose to "sloganise".
"Hold the line," they said. "Chant slogans," they shouted as 200 fascists
advanced and two female comrades were beaten to a pulp in front of them. I
left that day with a bitter, bitter hatred of all those on the left who
stood on the sidelines, sloganeering and recruiting while a few comrades
fought everyones fight just yards away.
Fast-forward to the eve of the first Gulf War and a meeting in Conway Mill
in Belfast. Eamon Mc Cann, the SWP's Ireland guru is holding forth on how
socialists should be supporting Sadam in the coming war. Come on Eamon, the
guy gassed the Kurds who were involved at that time and still are involved
in a legitimate liberation struggle of their own.
In the last few years the leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist
Movement has sat down and talked to governments who have ordered the
deaths, imprisonment, torture of its membership and exclusion of the IRSM
over the last three decades. I've sat down with loyalists, unionist
politicians and Presbyterian clergymen and all in an effort to move the
Peace Process on beyond the GFA. In all that time only one group--no not
the loyalists that the INLA hit harder than any other Group during the late
war; not the Governments the IRSM had sought to over throw; it wasn't even
the Unionists; of all people it was the Socialist Environmental Alliance!...
Colin Brice, an SWP stalwart stood up at a recent meeting of this group and
announced to the world, "While the INLA is in existence we will not work
with the IRSP". Now, I don't know who ate the cream off this comrades bun
when he was a kid, but for a man who claims to be a revolutionary to stand
up and make a statement like that it must have been bad. The GFA is up the
creek, the air is not fit to breath, people are going to be charged for
water and oh yes, there's a world war starting. So, what do people like
this do? They get all chauvinistic about who they are going to talk too.
Echoes of Spain during the Civil War or what?
Revolutionaries like that comrades, they make me weep! That's the SWP for
you again. Let's face it comrades, I don't like these guys I find them
elitist arrogant hurs who systematically target, acquire and then proceed
to burn out the brightest most promising socialists of each generation for
no perceivable gain. Don't get me wrong comrades--they're great folks if you
want to get your placards seen in the media, but I've never met one in the
house of someone who's just been "Pipe Bombed". I've never seen them with
their placards when loyalist mobs are carrying out pogroms in N. Belfast.
Most of them are nice people personally but I'm glad when I sleep over in
N. Belfast that it's Connolly's sons and daughters who hold the line at
night. However, I see the need to work with them, and God love me, I
probably will have to one day. I'm using them as an analogy, because of
personal experience, but the process of political exclusion of other left
comrades they embody is transferable to us all at times.
I'll tell you this comrades--we are it; we are the 10%. There is No One
Else. The excrement is on the blades of the air conditioner and we have one
hand of cards to play and we must play them between us. Reagan's New World
Order as interpreted by Doublya and Tony is coming and it is bringing with
it a war whose casualty figures will dwarf those of the American Civil and
World Wars I and II combined. Global Capitalism is marching to war and it's
dragging us and the entire working class with it.
We have no Connolly, we have no McLean. We, comrades, are it. And we had
better be up to the task. Sectarianism within the left is worth a million
paid informers to those who benefit from our disunity. It is their way of
controlling and nullifying us. It is time for us to put away childish
notions, pick up our collective cross and walk on. Get in there tomorrow
comrades and push your motion but do not be despondent if it fails by the
hand of the slackers. Their small minds will count it a victory, but
they'll know full soon that their fence is on fire and that watery lefty
politics can't cut it any more when Iraq is in flames as it will be with
more and more young Scots being sent to fight Tony's folly. Hate them for
their actions, despise them for their ineptitude, but never, ever turn your
backs on them. Let us go from here with unity in our minds and strive to
build that unity before it's too late.
56 Years On, Palestinian Refugees Still Have Home Keys
GAZA CITY, May 15 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Saturday, May 15, to commemorate the 56th anniversary of Nakba (loss of Palestine), showing keys and title deeds of their usurped homes.
At least 2,500 people flocked to the center of Ramallah, waving flags and chanting "No peace, no stability without the right of return," reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Hundreds of children held up placards bearing the names of Palestinian villages and towns - now either razed or renamed in Israel - from which their families originated.
In the northern city of Nablus, some 5,000 demonstrators burned a cardboard model of an Israeli tank, along with life-sized effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"We say 'no' to all projects that deny the right of return," they shouted, referring to Bush's statements that Palestinian refugees should be settled in the future state and not return to their homes inside what is now Israel.
Another 3,000 demonstrators gathered in the northern city of Qalqilya and a similar number was reported gathering in Tulkarem, Palestinian security officials said.
In the southern West Bank, around 1,000 demonstrators gathered in Bethlehem and another 200 were seen in central Al-Khalil (Hebron), shouting and waving flags, AFP correspondents said.
In Gaza, around 10,000 demonstrators flocked to the Palestinian Legislative Council headquarters, waving pictures of Arafat and holding up ageing keys of what used to be their homes before Israel was created.
"We will return to our land," they vowed, showing keys and title deeds of their lost homes.
Meanwhile, more than 7,000 refugees took to the streets of the Ain al-Helweh refugee camp on the outskirts of the southern Lebanese port of Sidon, chanting anti-Israeli slogans.
They torched Israeli and U.S. flags in the main square at the camp's northern entrance.
"We will continue the struggle to confront the Israeli and American plot against the Palestinians. We call on the Arabs to help the Palestinians return home," said Khaled Aref, the Fatah representative in Sidon.
"We call on Arab leaders to take up their responsibilities and stop postponing their annual summit, or else another Naqba will take place in Palestine."
Some elderly refugees also carried the keys of homes in modern-day Israel.
There are some 370,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, all of whom are denied citizenship.
Around half of them still live in miserable conditions in 12 refugee camps dotted around the country.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian fled their homes or were forced out of them on the creation of Israel.
Their descendants now make up a Palestinian refugee community of some five million in the West Bank, Gaza and abroad who have kept alive the dream of reclaiming homes in what is now Israel under any peace accord.
Those who stayed in their villages when Israel was created are now described as Israeli Arabs.
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said on Saturday that no one could legally deny the right of refugees to return to their homes.
"The Palestinian refugees' right of return is a holy right confirmed by international law. It is not right that anybody in the world deny the right of the refugees to return to their homes," Arafat said in his annual television address.
He asserted that Israel could not turn a blind eye to the suffering caused when it came into being.
"Israel cannot ignore its moral and political responsibility for this national tragedy which has hurt the Palestinian refugees," said the veteran Palestinian leader.
Israel rejects the "right of return" and wants refugees resettled in a future Palestinian state.
Palestinians and Israeli Arabs commemorate Naqba Day on May 15 - the official date of Israel's creation according to the western calendar.
Israel marked the anniversary on April 26, according to the Jewish calendar.
**Thanks to Seán at IRA2 for the heads-up on these next two articles:
IRISH WOMEN AND REVOLUTION
Sally Richardson examines the intertwining of feminism and revolution in Ireland
Photo by CRAZYFENIAN
THE EASTER Proclamation was as revolutionary in its inclusion of women as it was in other respects. It made its appeal to Irishwomen as well as Irishmen, and promised universal suffrage, 'equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens'.
The seven signatories were, of course, all men. However, they had appointed a woman -- the feminist and socialist Hanna Sheehy Skeffington -- to the Provisional Government. We have it on the authority of Kathleen Clarke, wife of Tom Clarke, that all the signatories agreed with the inclusion of women on an equal basis with men, except one. She refused to say who it was, except to ensure that it was not her husband.
James Connolly, Thomas MacDonagh and Padraig Pearse had all made explicit their commitment to equal rights for women. Eamonn Ceannt and Joe Plunkett both married women who were active in republican and feminist politics, and are unlikely to have had any problem with women's rights. Sean MacDiarmada seems to be the most likely dissenter, if only by the process of elimination. Kathleen was very fond of Sean, which may explain her reluctance to name the culprit.
James Connolly's commitment to women's rights is well known. However Pearse (who drafted the Proclamation with help from Connolly and MacDonagh) may have been responsible as much as Connolly for the automatic inclusion of women. Pearse had long worked with women on terms of equality in organisations such as the Gaelic League and accepted them as his intellectual and social equals. He supported the aims of women's suffrage (if not always the more militant methods) and promoted women's right to equal education.
So what was behind this unprecedented and overwhelming endorsement of women's rights -- not to mention the progressive and open-minded attitudes that the leaders of the Easter Rising displayed in other areas?
It is important to understand that the radicalism as well as the inclusiveness of the Easter Proclamation was a culmination of extensive women's involvement in political campaigns going back several decades.
The Irish Parliamentary Party tried to defend their role in helping to defeat the Conciliation Bills of 1910 and 1912 (which would have given limited suffrage to women) by asserting that to rock the Parliamentary boat and annoy prime minister Asquith might put back the cause of Home Rule. But many women (and men) were not convinced.
The fact was most of the Irish Parliamentary Party (including its leader, John Redmond) were opposed to votes for women on principle. The issue of the women's franchise exposed the Irish Parliamentary Party's reactionary nature for what it was almost as much as the Woodenbridge incident did a few years afterwards.
There had been a moderate, non-militant and mainly Unionist women's suffrage movement in Ireland since the 1860s. This had achieved the franchise for Irish women in local government in 1898, six years after similar rights had been granted to British women. The militant Irish Women's Franchise League was founded in 1908.
Women were increasingly a presence in Irish political life in other areas. The Gaelic League and Sinn Fein admitted women on the same terms as men and allowed them to take an active and equal part. Even so, the Gaelic League, for all its merits, had a staid image, and many women were looking for something different.
Republican women formed their own group, Inghinidhe na hEireann (Daughters of Ireland) in 1900. Independent and autonomous, they scorned the whole idea of demanding votes for women along with Home Rule. Instead, they put their considerable energy and enthusiasm into campaigning for an independent Irish state, in which they would as a matter of course take equal citizenship.
Their magazine, Bean na hEireann, founded in 1908 and edited by Helena Molony, became 'the ladies' paper that all the young men read'. It tied together the issues of feminism, republicanism and eventually socialism into a coherent and integrated message.
As an editorial in June 1910 put it, 'the expression of militant nationalism by women must do much to command the respect of men and compel them to re-adjust their views on women as a possible force in the fight against foreign domination.'
Inghinidhe were colourful, theatrical and anti-authoritarian, and the seriousness of their mission was combined with humour and a great sense of fun. A characteristic prank was the affixing of an anti-recruitment leaflet to the Viceroy's car.
The foundation of Cumann na mBan in 1914, in response to the formation of the Volunteers, was seen by many feminists as a retrograde step. Although Cumann na mBan took pains to insist right at the start that they were a separate and independent organization, in effect they were an auxiliary force, making themselves useful to the Volunteers in whatever way they could. What is clear is that the organisation was set up as a response to women's exclusion from the Volunteers and that many Cumann na mBan women would have joined the Volunteers had they been allowed to do so.
There was uncertainty about their role to begin with. Early Cumann na mBan literature even suggested that as well as nursing and first aid, women could 'do all the embroidery that may be required, such as badges on uniforms' but as their confidence increased, so did their perception of what women were capable of doing.
The Ladies' Land League had been formed in order to step into the breach while the (male) Land League activists were in prison; in the words of Constance Markievicz, 'it ran the movement and started to do the militant things that the men only threatened and talked of' -- and was eventually forced to disband. As Tim Harrington MP put it, 'some of us found they could not be controlled'.
Anna Parnell was one of several women who proved to be capable administrators and courageous campaigners and set a pattern for subsequent women's political involvement. As the Land League came to realize, women's activism was inherently revolutionary as it challenged the very structure of society and their role within it, and women would continue to take the radical lead.
Editorials in The Irish Citizen (paper of the IWFL) referred to Cumann na mBan as the 'Slave Women' for putting themselves at the service of men without demanding anything for themselves, while Cumann na mBan pointed out that a vote in a British parliament would be of little use.
But the divisions were not as deep as the verbal mud-slinging would suggest. Many Cumann na mBan women were or had been members of women's suffrage organisations. Mary MacSwiney had left the Munster Women's Franchise League because it was Unionist-dominated, and Kathleen Lynn was one of quite a few who came to republicanism from the background women's suffrage.
The effect of this debate, heated as it often was, was not negative; it forced women to clarify both their feminism and their republicanism, and brought their concerns to the attention of men as well.
In the confusion following Eoin MacNeill's countermanding of the order for mobilization on Easter Sunday, the women who had taken part in the preparations were frequently forgotten. They turned up anyway, and found work for themselves to do. Even so, the impression gained from the accounts written by participants is that there was a real sense of comradeship, the men for the most part accepting the women and valuing their contribution.
It is true that most of the women of 1916 performed duties that accorded with the conventional view of women's role; they tended the wounded, they did the cooking. But they also commandeered supplies and carried dispatches, frequently under fire. If they were reluctant to complain about being sidelined into 'women's work', it was largely because above all they wanted to serve the republican cause and were prepared to make themselves useful in whatever way they could.
They certainly showed remarkable resourcefulness and initiative. Chris Caffrey, captured and strip-searched by British soldiers, ate the dispatch she was carrying to prevent it falling into enemy hands. Eighteen-year-old Rose Anne Murphy was given the job of mobilizing the Volunteers in Dundalk; finding her railway journey interrrupted by a blown-up bridge, she disembarked and walked the remaining forty miles.
The surrender of the insurgents brought out instincts of chivalry and protectiveness even in the most progressive men, who were anxious that the women should be evacuated before the surrender took place. The women were reluctant; they were anxious to share the burden of responsibility and had no wish to avoid the consequences of their actions. Most agreed to leave only because they wanted to avoid causing more stress and worry to the men.
Even if there was sometimes a tendency to slide back into the conventional gender roles it should be remembered that even the most progressive-minded Irish republicans were operating in a society where old structures were still in place. However, women brought a radical edge to the struggle that could well have been lacking in an exclusively male campaign. Perhaps their own experiences of exclusion had helped to radicalise many of them. They challenged authority in ways that broke down many of the old gender roles and social boundaries, and opened the way to a genuinely egalitarian, open and tolerant society.
If, as James Connolly said, the cause of labour and the cause of Ireland could not be dissevered, then the causes of women and republicanism are undoubtedly equally indivisible.
THE IRISH REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN OF CUMANN NA MBAN
In the final part of her series on the role of women in revolutionary Ireland, Sally Richardson looks at their role in 1918 and beyond
Photo by CRAZYFENIAN
THE EASTER Rising lit the touch paper of revolution, but in the immediate aftermath it was left to women to prevent it from fizzling out. Of the seventy–seven women arrested after the rising, all but six (all Citizen Army) were released almost at once. While the men were forced to pursue their further education at the University of Revolution, Frongoch internment camp, the women were left to reorganize and regroup.
If the Volunteers’ dependents’ fund provided a conventionally charitable outlet for their activities, women also maintained the revolutionary momentum with vigorous and imaginative propaganda campaigns. These took several women to the United States, including Hanna Sheehy Skeffington who got access to president Wilson to present him with a Cumann na mBan petition.
The Conference of Women Delegates, set up in April 1917 by women including Kathleen Clarke, Aine Ceannt, Kathleen Lynn and Helena Molony, demanded adequate representation of women on Sinn Féin’s Executive not just in the light of the Easter proclamation’s commitment to equality and the women’s efforts during the Rising but also on account of ‘the necessity of having their organized cooperation in the further struggle to free Ireland and the advantage of having their ideas on many social problems likely to arise in the near future.’
In other words, women’s inclusion was not only their right; their contribution was of particular value, too. A Convention of Women Delegates resolution affirming women’s equality within Sinn Féin was passed at the Sinn Féin convention in 1917.
The General Election of 1918, in which Constance Markievicz was elected, did not appear to be much of a triumph at the time. One seat in the Dáil seemed a pitiful harvest. Many women had assumed that their hard work and commitment would automatically lead to nominations for winnable constituencies. Markievicz’s nomination for the Dublin constituency of St Patrick’s was followed only by that of Winifred Carney for a largely unionist Belfast constituency which she had no chance of winning. Hanna Sheehy Skeffington refused the equally unwinnable constituency of North Antrim. Kathleen Clarke, then in Holloway Prison with Markievicz, found her hopes of standing dashed by the machinations of Richard Mulcahy.
Sinn Féin were mindful of the impact that newly–enfranchised women could have on the election and were prepared to use this in their publicity (‘You can save Ireland by voting as Mrs Pearse will vote’). The resulting landslide owed much to women’s efforts, although there was anger at the lack of resources given to Markievicz’s campaign.
Cumann na mBan’s separate status gave it autonomy and gave the women the chance of leadership. If it had been absorbed into the Volunteers it is likely women would still have been confined to their traditional roles and would have had no voice of their own. If, like the Irish Citizen Army, the Volunteers had been established with the principle of gender equality at the outset, perhaps more progress would have been made. However, Cumann na mBan had grown in confidence; they aspired to be more than just ‘animated collecting boxes’ and sought to ‘participate in the public life of their locality and assert their rights as citizens.’
Looking through the records of this amazing period, one cannot help but be struck by the modernity of these women. For all their studied antiquarianism and the plundering of Ireland’s distant past for inspiration, these women were very much of their own time. Many were highly educated (three out of the six women in the Second Dáil were graduates). They earned their own living (and demanded equal pay); they were independent minded, bold and confrontational; they were prepared to defy convention and break rules. It was to warlike heroines such as Granuaile and Maeve rather than more conventionally ‘feminine’ women like Emer that they looked for role models.
According to IRA commandant Michael Brennan, the flying columns would have collapsed without Cumann na mBan. “In despatch carrying, scouting and intelligence work, all of which are highly dangerous, they did far more than the soldiers . . . the more dangerous the work the more willing they were to do it.”
They were anxious to prove their worth and determined to show that they could share the dangers and responsibilties of war. If women accepted traditional ‘women’s work’ and did it willingly and without complaint, it was not because they ‘knew their place’ but because they were prepared to do anything that needed to be done. If they weren’t given the chance to fight, then they could still cook, launder, nurse and carry despatches.
IRA memoirs are dominated by men’s activities, but women get some positive mention. Tom Barry, while relegating Cumann na mBan to the “sole purpose of helping the Irish Republican Army”, acknowledged that they were “indispensible to the Army” and paid tribute to their work. If women were given the drudgery of the armed struggle, at least they were not taken for granted. It is worth mentioning that Barry’s wife, Leslie Price, served in the GPO during Easter week while he was in Mesopotamia with the British Army.
Women also set up a network and framework of safety and security for the IRA to operate in. Housewives provided safe houses and went short themselves to feed the Volunteers. Cork IRA man Connie Neenan’s mother (a "fighting type") and aunt were two of many who transported and hid IRA weapons. Volunteers’ mothers gave much support, often in the absence of or without the knowledge of their husbands. The ‘separate spheres’ culture that then still largely obtained meant that while fathers usually involved themselves little in family life, mothers were often close to their children and shared their subordinate position. Perhaps this fostered the rebelliousness which they taught their children — instead of the ‘slave mentality’ that Connolly so despised, these women were transmitting rebellion down the generations.
Women’s hardline stance, evident before the Easter rising, continued after it. Cumann na mBan members opposed the Treaty by a huge majority. Women certainly stood to lose by a compromise settlement; it was clear that their rights would only be guaranteed by a Republican victory. The General Election of 1921 saw the election of six women to the Second Dáil. It is perhaps significant that strongly Republican Cork and Limerick selected and returned women candidates (Mary MacSwiney and Kate O’Callaghan). Republican strongholds — especially in urban areas — had a more progressive attitude towards women.
These women all voted against the Treaty. It was remarked on (then and ever since) that four had lost brothers, husbands and sons in the Easter Rising and the Tan War; but the assumption that they were little more than the mouthpieces for dead men was patently unfair. As Kate O’Callaghan explained, she had been a separatist since girlhood. Mary MacSwiney and Kathleen Clarke were also committed republicans of many years’ standing.
The vote against the Treaty was lost in the Dáil, but the women scored an important victory in securing the franchise for all women over twenty–one. The vote had been granted in 1918 only to women aged thirty or over. Thus Irish women were fully franchised from 1921 onwards; Thus Irish women were fully franchised from 1921 onwards; women in Britain had to wait until 1928 before they got the vote on equal terms with men.
The occupation of the Four Courts by the anti–Treaty IRA — "Easter week in reverse" as Desmond Greaves called it — echoed Easter week in more ways than one. Women like Maire Comerford carried despatches under fire and Linda Kearns risked her life tending the wounded. Though wishing to share the discomfort and dangers equally with the men, the women were disconcertingly treated with a rather touching chivalry and shielded as much as possible from danger. On surrender, Comerford tore off the Red Cross band placed on her arm by a priest.
Louie Bennett and Rosamond Jacob were among a number of republican women who joined the campaign set up by feminists to oppose the First World War that was to become the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (the ‘Peacettes’ as the Daily Express derisively called them). Irish women, at least, unlike feminist peace campaigners in Britain, were able to oppose the war and conscription without accusations of being unpatriotic. As the women at Greenham Common would find out, objections to men’s right to kill one other without good cause brings down opprobrium onto feminist heads.
If women tended to fill gaps left by men’s absence, or to do the work men would not do, Ireland’s fight for freedom gave Irish feminists an arena to continue to operate in which prevented the feminist movement from fizzling out once the vote had been won. Often engaged on several fronts at once, women played a vital role in bringing together the different strands of the revolutionary movement: the military, political, feminist and socialist causes were thus integrated.
Much had been achieved. The most progressive republican men had on the whole been ready to treat women as comrades and to accept them as equals. The conservatives who took power in the Free State did their best to exclude women from public life and power. It was a cold climate for a lot of men as well. But precedents had been set. Women’s voices had made themselves heard. They still speak to us today.
THE BOY FROM TAMALAGHTDUFF
As I walked through the Glenshane Pass,
I heard a young girl mourn.
"The boy from Tamalaghtduff," she cried,
"is two years dead and gone.
How my heart was torn apart,
for this young man to lose.
O! I'll never see the likes again
of my young Francis Hughes."
For many years his exploits were,
a thorn in England's side
The hills and glens became his home
And there he used to hide.
Once when they surrounded him,
he quietly slipped away.
Like a fox he went a ground
and kept the dogs at bay.
Moving 'round the countryside
he often made the news
But they could never lay their hands
on my brave Francis Hughes.
Finally they wounded him and
captured him at last
From the country side he loved
they took him to Belfast.
From Musgrave Park to the Crumlin Road
and then to an H-Block cell.
He went straight on the blanket
and on hungerstrike as well.
His will to win they could never break
No matter what they tried
He fought them everyday he lived and
he fought them as he died.
As I walked through the Glenshane Pass,
I heard a young girl mourn.
"The boy from Tamalaghtduff," she cried,
"is two years dead and gone."
And how my heart was torn apart
for this brave man to lose
O I'll never see the likes again
of my brave Francis Hughes.