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Calling on MLAs to defend us against ‘work till you drop’ bill

Teachers in the North of Irerland are appalled by a ‘work till you drop’ culture and will fight plans to incrageease the pension age, writes Justin McCamphill

‘The NASUWT has been at the forefront of lobbying our MLAs to bring amendments to the bill in the interests of young and old, those in work and those unemployed.

Stormont isn’t working for Catholic, Protestant or dissenter

THE British government‘s dchancellor of the exchequergovernment’s, George Osborne, was full of self-congratulation when giving his autumn statement on December 5. The statement included new attacks on working people – in this case, attacks on the young, but encompassing everyone.

In particularly, the autumn statement also included attacks on the pensions of all working people. The state pension age was already due to increase to 68 in 2046, but the British coalation government has brought that forward by 10 years, meaning that people who are in their mid-forties now will not be able to take their state pension until they are 68. The Westminister Pensions Bill, which applies to the North of Ireland, also allows the British government to increase the pension age every five years if it wishes – and the British government has already announced that, if its plans stay on course, people in their thirties will have a pension age of 69 and people in their twenties will have one of 70.

My union, NASUWT, which is by far the largest teacher’s union in the North of Ireland, is appalled by the ‘work till you drop’ culture that is now the British government’s vision for the people of Britain and the North of Ireland. Increasing the pension age during a period of unemployment and the worst recession for decades is utter madness, as it reduces already scarce job vacancies as those in work are being forced to work for longer. The people of the North of Ireland have no control over the Westminster Pensions Bill, but they do have control over the Public Service Pensions Bill, which is due to begin the consideration stage in the assembly after CChristmas. The Public Service Pensions Bill equalises the normal pension age and the state pension age for the majority of public service workers in the North of Ireland, including teachers, health workers and civil servants. This means that young Northern Irish teachers can expect to have to work until they are 70 to receive their teacher’s pension – unless the bill is changed. The NASUWT has been at the forefront of lobbying our MLAs to bring amendments to the bill in the interests of the young and old, those in work and those who are unemployed. We call on our MLAs to stand up for all public service workers who dedicate their lives to serving the public. When assembly elections are next held we will be calling on our members to vote only for those MLAs who defend them.

With many thanks to: Justin McCamphill, NASUWT uunion’s NI junior vice president, writing for: The Irish News.

 

Belated truth on MRF proves that republican claims were right!!!

Letter which was published in today’s Irish News – Monday December 16 2013 – Martin Galvin, Bronx, New York.

FERGAL Hallahan was more right than he imagines (November 25) about the derision accorded anyone with the temerity to accuse Britain of deploying a Military Reaction Force (MRF) of plain-cloths British troopers who gunned down unarmed nationalists using non-military weapons.

British State Sponsored Murder

During my years as both editor of the Irish People weekly American newspaper and national director of Irish Northern Aid, I was tasked with presenting such facts to the American public and especially congressmen. The contention we republicans repeatedly made was that the crown had sent out the MRF and later wiped British fingerprints from their killings by shifting from the MRF to having the shots fired by loyalist proxies. This tactic had obvious advantages, including avoiding British army ccasualties like those inflicted by the IRA at the Four Square Laundry. It allowed the British plausible deniability. Collusion in murders carried out by loyalists could be denied outright and blamed on a cadre of crown force bad apples, no matter how much targeting intelligence, agent control or safe passage the British had supplied. Britain’s answer to these charges never changed. British officials would declare, self-righteously that “Her Majesty’s government” would never stoop to deploy such a unit. The British army ‘yellow card’ rules were sacrosanct, they scoffed and this code was rigorously applied whenever British troopers opened fire.

These sanctimonious British denials were believed by the public, politicians and journalists to the extent that this handpicked death squard remained largely unknown to the public. Panorama’s Britian’s Secret Terror Force proves that republicans were right about Britain’s deployment of a terror force, the MRF. It proves that those high-ranking British officials who denied that the crown would stoop to such tactics were either deliberately misled by the crown or deliberately misleading others on the crown’s behalf. Members of this British terror squad have no worries that they will face justice for killing unarmed Irish civilians like Daniel Rooney or Patrick McVeigh. They freely boast of their misdeeds, for the television cameras. Confident that they enjoy a selective immunity and impunity, not granted to republicians like Gerry McGeough, Seamus Kearney or John Downey.  We republicans were right about Britain’s tactical shift from the MRF terror force to doing their ‘dirty war’ work through loyalist proxies. Must we await another documentary before people face the facts about Britain’s complicity with loyalist killers in collusion murders?

With many thanks to: Martin Galvin.

Related articles

Below is a copy of the letter that was sent to all MSP’s by the James Connolly Society, Scotland.

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Seán Heuston Dublin 1916 Society

A chara,

On behalf of the 1916 Societies I request your support for our campaign to hold an All Ireland Referendum on Irish Unity. The people of Scotland will exercise their right to national self-determination in a constitutional referendum in September 2014 and we believe the people of Ireland have the same right to determine their constitutional future without outside interference or impediment.

Irrespective of their personal and political positions on independence Scottish parliamentarians have acknowledged the right of the people of Scotland to decide. We ask you to support the campaign to for the Irish peoples rights in this regard to be respected.

The 1916 Societies are Ireland’s fastest growing political movement. We have established Societies throughout Ireland, Australia, United States as well as Scotland. The 1916 Societies are an independent Irish Political Movement that looks upon the ideals and principals set out in the 1916 Proclamation as our significant point of reference.

The proposed Six County border poll under Britain’s Northern Ireland Act 1998 permits the Secretary of State (an English politician devoid of a single vote in Ireland) to determine:

when and if a poll may be called,

the wording of the poll and,

who qualifies to vote.

Even if passed the British parliament retains the final say on whether or not the result will be endorsed by the UK government.

We believe the core concept of Irish republicanism is that Irish constitutional authority derives from the Irish people and does not defer to laws or decrees emanating from London.

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising it is clear that Britain continues to refuse to recognise Ireland as one democratic unit and presumes that Westminster will define the parameters of Irish democracy.

Republicanism is a unifying concept based on interdependence as opposed to tribal commonality. The exceptional Republican leadership of 1916 knew that interdependence could only be nurtured within a national context and not a partitionist one. They were very specific about that in the Proclamation calling for a ‘National Government representative of the whole people of Ireland’ and declaring that the Republic must be,

‘…oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.’

A Six County poll legitimises the very mechanisms invented by Britain to harness these differences to British interests by endorsing the Unionist veto and accepting the artificial statelet that incubates and nurtures the sectarian dynamic in Irish politics.

The 1916 Proclamation for too long has been relegated to the status of a notional aspiration. The 1916 Societies wish to be part of a broad movement which reinstates the Proclamation of the Republic to its rightful place and its original intent as a template for action. In that spirit we respectfully request your endorsement of an All Ireland Referendum on Irish Unity. One Ireland – One Vote.

Is mise le meas,

Jim Slaven

DEAR SINN FEIN…….,

DONT VOTE FOR SINN FEIN "Traitors"

Cumann Sean MacEachaidh

Having abandoned the pledge to secure a 32 County Democratic Socialist Republic in pursuit of imperialist acceptance and parochial prestige you condemned the generations next to sectarian division.

By propagating the myth the Good Friday Agreement had the ability to deliver a United Ireland and refusing to concede that you had accepted the Union with Britain as the legitimate constitutional position you condemned the generations next to sectarian division.

Attempting to conceal your acceptance of the Union with Britain and thus your evolution in to a Unionist party you have engaged in a process of sectarian jesting with equally vile and contemptible Politicians from other Unionist parties. You have used symbolism to portray a Republican image and and secure Loyalist Reaction. You have done so to maintain an appropriate level of inter-communal mistrust and violence which is required to maintain the sectarian pact between the British War machine it’s Loyalist proxies and Constitutional Nationalism. In doing so you condemned the generations next to sectarian division.

On Monday morning Little children will make their way to school, their uniforms and little shoes but one week old and for some the ribbons in their hair still a novelty. They will be completely oblivious to the Red Hand Defenders threat that hangs over their heads.

We won’t because in all you have done you have done nothing but condemn the generations next to sectarian division.

RESIST BRITISH RULE IN IRELAND – FREEDOM STRUGGLE IN IRELAND

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Supporters of the Irish Republican Army

The present conflict in Ireland is a direct consequence of British colonial interference which has, for centuries, denied the Irish people their right to self-determination.

BACKGROUND:

Ever since the initial invasion in 1169, the British have attempted to assert their authority in Ireland in the face of Irish resistance. For more than a thousand years before the British invasion began, the Irish had an individual and highly developed cultural identity, a progressive legal system and established political structures. To undermine and control the Irish nation, the British had to rely on the classical imperialist tactics of “Divide and Rule” and colonisation.

In the early stages of its colonial conquest of Ireland the British introduced apartheid laws which prohibited social contact, including intermarriage, between the colonists and the Irish. This apartheid legislation failed in its objective, however, because the colonists were few in number and widely dispersed so that they could not long maintain their separateness. More than four centuries after their arrival, the British effectively ruled only a tiny area of Ireland around the present capital city of Dublin, and even this area was subjected to the ever present reality of Irish resistance. Elsewhere the colonists had, as history records, become more Irish than the Irish themselves.

Britain renewed and intensified its efforts to conquer Ireland in the years following the Protestant Reformation. Since the Irish people remained overwhelmingly Catholic, they were regarded as a potential threat by Protestant Britain, especially in the era of religious wars which erupted in 16th and 17th century Europe.

A more effective method of colonisation known as Plantation, was implemented on a systematic basis with large concentrations of British people being ‘planted’ in various parts of Ireland where they received land grants. This policy was applied with particular zeal and efficiency in the northern part of Ireland (Ulster) where Irish resistance to British rule was always strongest. Here, as elsewhere, the native Irish population was dispossessed of its land and forced to flee into mountainous and boggy countryside.

The purpose of the Plantation policy was to pacify Ireland and to stabilise it in the interests of the British Government by establishing an effective garrison. The Planters constituted that garrison and their continued loyalty to Britain was secured on the basis of the social, political and economic privileges which they were given and on the continued ability of the British Government to keep them divided from the native population.

While the Plantation strategy was generally effective in stabilising British control, it was not always so, and Irish resistance continued throughout the 17th century until military defeat, dispossession and a series of Penal Laws combined to stifle opposition to Britain. By the end of the 18th century, when the religious wars were a fading memory and a new spirit of radicalism and Republicanism was spreading, it appeared that Britain’s divide and rule policy in Ireland had come unstuck when a section of the Protestant population (descendants of the Planters) joined with their Catholic neighbours in demanding an Irish Republic. The United Irishmen, as they became known, rose in rebellion in 1798 but this rebellion was brutally suppressed by the British and their native allies.

Those allies included the majority of the Protestant population (many of whom were organised in a sectarian Masonic movement known as the Orange Order) and also an emerging middle-class

which included Catholic business people and the Catholic hierarchy. All of these saw their interests being guaranteed by continued British rule rather than in a separate Irish Republic which was pledged to justice and equality for all its citizens.

In the aftermath of the 1798 rebellion the British decided that their control could only be guaranteed through direct rule from London. An Act of Union was introduced which transferred the limited legislative powers of the colonial ascendancy to the British Parliament where the interests of Ireland and the Irish people were subjected to the demands of and increasingly powerful and ambitious imperialist power.

Throughout the 19th century as the demand for Irish freedom was raised, and even the demand for limited freedom within the British Empire, the British Establishment deliberately fomented sectarian divisions and, when it suited, they gave every encouragement to the Orange Order. The Catholic middle-class which developed throughout this period articulated the demand for limited freedom through constitutional methods but they did not want to break the link with Britain. The republican tradition of militant separatism continued to win support amongst the people of no property but a large part of this support base was obliterated in the Great Famine of the 1840’s and through continued emigration to Britain, the USA and Australia.

There were several armed uprisings throughout the century but even though they followed inn the republican tradition of the United Irishmen they failed to attract the same degree of popular support and were easily suppressed.

With the gradual extension of the franchise it became clear in the late 19th and 20th centuries that the limited independence of “Home Rule” would have to be conceded if the stability which Britain needed in Ireland was to continue. In Ulster, where the descendants of the Planters still constituted a privileged Unionist majority in favour of the union with Britain, a pro-British and sectarian armed force called the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was formed to resist the democratic demands of the Irish people as a whole. The British refused to move against this force and senior political and military figures encouraged its development.

By the early years of the present century a clear pattern had emerged between the major political forces in Ireland, a pattern which continues to this day, with the limited demands of constitutional nationalism being strenuously opposed by Unionists and qualified by British administrations anxious to ensure that their self-interest was defended. Two events combined to shatter that pattern, for a time at least; first was the outbreak of World War in 1914 which put the issue of Home Rule on the back-burner of British political considerations, and second was the decision by Irish separatist forces including the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army to take advantage of Britain’s involvement in a global conflict and to strike a blow for freedom in the ranks of a combined force called the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

On Easter Monday 1916 the Irish Republic was declared and a Provisional Government established in arms by the IRA. After a week of fighting which was largely confined to Dublin, the superior armed power of the British succeeded in crushing the rebellion.

The subsequent executions of the Republican leaders and the imprisonment of the rank-and-file was resented by ordinary Irish people. Many who had not supported the rebellion changed their

opinions and popular support for Irish separatism grew from a tiny fringe to a mass movement.

Repression breeds resistance and, as the British vainly tried to restore stability by force and the threat of force, a strengthened Republican Movement emerged from interment camps in Britain to be greeted as heroes at home. The resurgent spirit of separatism found its political expression in support for Sinn Fein and its militant vanguard in the ranks of the IRA.

Evidence that Britain would continue to ignore the democratic will of the Irish people was provided by the general election of 1918 which saw Sinn Fein emerge with a massive majority of the

Irish seats, and more than enough to justify the establishment of an Irish Parliament, called Dail Eireann, independent of Britain. Instead of accepting the democratic decision of the electorate, the British tried to suppress Dail Eireann and jailed many of its elected members. Faced with British violence, the IRA fought a guerilla campaign between 1919 and 1921 which eventually forced Britain to the negotiating table.

The outcome of those negotiations had, to some extent, been decided by the British a year earlier with the creation of the Northern Ireland statelet. This statelet was established on the basis of a sectarian headcount which created an artificial majority comprising the privileged Unionist/pro-British population which was concentrated in that area. These were given their own devolved structure of government in return for their continued service as a strategically important British garrison.

The delegation which conducted the negotiations with the British agreed to a set of proposals contained in a Treaty. These proposals fell far short of the Republic declared in 1916 and established by the popular will of the Irish people in 1918. The Treaty established two states in Ireland, one a neo-colonial Free State still tied politically and economically to Britain but with the trappings of freedom; the other was the colonial Northern Ireland statelet.

Supported by the most reactionary elements of Irish society including the Unionists, the Catholic hierarchy and major commercial interests (none of whom had ever supported the struggle for freedom) the Treaty was forced on the Irish people under threat of “immediate and terrible war”. An emerging Free State Government which had British backing set about crushing

Republican opposition to the deal. Civil war ensued but the Republican forces which had tried desperately to avoid war were quickly defeated by the increasingly well-armed and ruthless army of the Treaty supporters.

Successive Free State governments have, since the creation of their state, claimed that the re-unification of Ireland is their primary political objective. Apart from verbalising on the issue, however, they have done nothing to achieve re-unification. On the contrary Dublin based governments have from the beginning contributed to the growth of partitionist attitudes within their own state by encouraging the development of a Catholic ethos rather than that the non-sectarian pluralism of Irish Republicanism. In this and in the declaration of a nominal Republic in 1949 they have shown that their real aim is to maintain the status-quo. This is confirmed by the efforts of those governments to undermine and defeat Republican campaigns against the Northern Ireland statelet, efforts which have included continuous emergency legislation since 1939, the use of internment and active collaboration with the British authorities including the extradition of Republican activists.

With the guarantee of British support for their position, Northern Unionists set about building their statelet on the basis of political, social and economic privileges for their own artificial majority at the expense of the equally artificial anti-Unionist minority. For nearly 50 years of unbroken Unionist rule from the Stormont parliament outside Belfast, northern Catholics were forced to endure blatant discrimination in the allocation of jobs and houses. In areas of local government administration where anti-Unionists were in an electoral majority, a system of electoral rigging known as Gerrymandering was introduced to turn those majorities into minorities.

A wide range of repressive laws which were the envy of the apartheid regime in South Africa, were enforced by vindictive and puritanical Stormomt administrations while the colonial Government in Britain (whether Conservative or Labour) simply ignored what was happening in the North of Ireland.

In every decade of Stormont rule the IRA launched military campaigns of varying intensity against the Northern state but without success. The absence of a radical political leadership within the anti-Unionist population meant that popular support for a sustained campaign of armed struggle could not be mobilised.

Following the emergence of a Civil Rights Movement for blacks in the USA in the mid-1960s, however, a similar movement grew within anti-Unionist areas of the Northern state. As this movement’s campaign of peaceful street protest gained momentum in the late 1960s, the full force of the state repression was used to crush it. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), a sectarian and paramilitary police force, and its equally sectarian reserve force, the B Specials, were deployed by the Stormont Government to beat Civil Rights’ marchers off the streets.

British troops were sent to Ireland in 1969, ostensibly to act as impartial mediators but in reality to lend support to the battle weary RUC and B Specials and to restore British control. As these troops adopted a progressively pro-Unionist stance it became increasingly clear to a growing number of anti-Unionists that the institutional injustices which had prompted the Civil Rights’ Campaign were merely symptoms of a deeper rooted injustice – the very existence of the Northern Ireland statelet. Many people concluded that peaceful and democratic methods could never radically alter the nature of the state which was established and sustained by violent and anti-democratic methods. For them it became clear that the solution lay in dismantling the state, ending British rule and re-uniting Ireland.

The IRA re-emerged, in a defensive capacity at first, following a series of pogroms which were directed against anti-Unionist areas of Belfast and other urban centres. Confronted by Unionist opposition to even the limited reforms demanded by the Civil Rights’ Movement and faced with violence by the official state forces as well as unofficial pro-British forces, the popular resistance campaign quickly evolved into a revolutionary struggle for self-determination. This revolution, which continues to this day, is fought on many levels, both political, cultural and social, and is spearheaded by the armed struggle of the IRA whose actions are directed against the clearly perceived forces of British rule and against the political and economic forces which sustain that rule.

British policy throughout this revolutionary struggle has been aimed at defeating Irish Republicanism, thereby restoring the stability which is necessary for them to re-assert effective control. Believing that this could be achieved through a strategy of counter-insurgency similar to the strategies employed in other colonies such as Cyprus, Kenya and Malaysia, the British tried to crush revolution by introducing internment and saturating towns and countryside with soldiers.

This ‘mailed fist’ approach failed to defeat the IRA but it did have the effect of ending the mass street demonstrations of the Civil Rights’ Campaign as rubber, plastic and even lead bullets were used to disperse such demonstrations. In the absence of massive street demonstrations it became increasingly difficult to quantify the level of support which the revolution enjoyed. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Movement, had no positive electoral role as its activities were mainly confined to protest activities. Without any evidence of demonstrable popular support for Republicanism, a second phase of the British counter-insurgency campaign began. This was based on isolating and criminalising the revolution.

The RUC took over the front line role of the British army to convey the impression that the conflict was merely a political problem. Alongside this, internment and political status were phased out and a specially designed judicial and penal system was introduced to criminalise Republican activists.

The prisoners resisted criminalisation, however, and it was their heroic protest campaign between September 1976 and the Hunger Strikes of 1981 which undermined the British strategy and

mobilised national and international interest in the Irish struggle.

Against all the odds, the IRA survived the black period from the mid to the late 1970s when torture centres and special Diplock Courts were used to rail road people into jail and the media was used to implement the policy of isolating Republicans. A re-organised and increasingly politicised IRA, committed to maintaining the armed struggle as long as necessary, emerged in the 1980s.

Like the IRA, Sinn Fein learned lessons from this period, especially the need to develop an effective political strategy which would complement the armed struggle, counter further attempts to isolate Republicanism and lay the basis for the political, cultural and economic re-conquest of Ireland.

It has been the development of Sinn Fein as an electoral force throughout Ireland (presenting a radical alternative to both the colonial and neo-colonial administrations) and the continued ability of the IRA to challenge the British presence which led to the latest counter-insurgency strategy – the Hillsborough Agreement.

This strategy attempts to undermine the Republican struggle by encouraging the middle class within the anti-Unionist population to accept and support the constitutional status-quo and British repressive measures. In return the anti-Unionists were promised reforms which, it was claimed, would give them equal status in the Northern Ireland statelet.

More than a year after the Hillsborough Agreement was signed the promised reforms had still not been delivered and, far from an improvement, the anti-Unionist population had found that their situation had deteriorated. The British were still clearly unwilling to introduce even minimal reform, in the face of almost unanimous Unionist opposition to an agreement which they regarded as a threat to their privileged position.

To a large extent the Unionist campaign of opposition to the agreement had obscured the fact that the central purpose of the strategy – the defeat of Republicanism – had been totally unsuccessful. Popular support for the Republican position had not been eroded, as intended, because after 17 years of constant struggle and 800 years of similar British strategies, a growing number of Irish people recognise that there can be neither peace nor justice until Britain, the source of violence, injustice and divisions, allows the Irish people, both natives and

colonists, the right to determine their own future as equals in a united and sovereign Ireland.

“The most powerful foe of labour is capitalistic imperialism, and in Great Britain capitalistic imperialism stands or falls by the subjection or liberation of Ireland.” – Erskine Childers

For centuries the people of Ireland have fought for the right to decide their own destiny free from external interference. The history of Ireland has been largely defined by that struggle, as generation has followed generation in a never-ending wave of resistance to British imperialism.

For more than two centuries that resistance has been intrinsically linked to the establishment of an Irish Republic. And for more than a century Irish revolutionaries have understood that that republic must be socialist in nature if it is to deliver not only national but also economic and social freedom.

In the global battle against twenty-first century imperialism the only logical place for Irish progressives to channel their energies is in the building of popular support for Irish democracy and by extension, popular resistance to British rule.

By defeating British imperialism on its own doorstep the people of Ireland could contribute a devastating hammer blow against tyranny in the global struggle for freedom and justice.

The most effective way to oppose British imperialism in Ireland today is through the building a grass-roots anti-imperialist mass movement; the objective of which should be nothing short of a total British military, political and economic withdrawal from Ireland.

“They think they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think they have foreseen everything, think that they provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! – they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”. – Padraig Pearse…

Drumnakilly Martyrs 25th Anniversay

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Tyrone National Graves Association

On 30th August 1988, 3 IRA Volunteers were ambushed by the SAS on the Drumnakilly Road. Brothers Gerard and Martin Harte and their brother-in-law Brian Mullin were during Britain’s war against the Irish people in the 1980’s.

The widows and sons of Gerard and Martin Harte and the mother of Brian Mullin have invited Republicans to join them in Loughmacrory on Sunday, September 1st to remember the sacrifice of these brave Irishmen.

People are asked to gather in Dunmoyle at the grave of Volunteer Brian Mullin for a wreath laying ceremony at 7pm on Saturday, August 31st and then to assemble in Loughmacrory on Sunday, September 1st at 3pm for a parade to the grave of Volunteers Gerard and Martin Harte.

The commemoration is non-party political and everyone is welcome. No party-political emblems are to be carried. Tyrone National Graves Association has assisted the families in organising the commemoration.

Brian’s anniversary mass is at 10am in Dunmoyle on Sunday, August 25th. Gerard and Martin’s anniversary mass is in Loughmacrory at 7pm on Friday, August 30th.

The families said

“It is hard to believe that 25 years have passed since Brian, Gerard and Martin were taken from us. Their only crime was that they were Irish in British Occupied Ireland. They were killed by faceless, nameless paid assassins in the SAS who were smuggled into Ireland to carry out Britain’s war of terror against the democratic rights of the Irish people. These men were husbands, fathers, sons and brothers to their loved ones. They died for the Republic, for the freedom of us all. Sadly that freedom continues to be denied to the Irish people by Britain.”

“We invite everyone to join with us on September 1st to remember Brian Gerard and Martin. It will be an emotional but proud time for us all. We ask that everyone respect our wishes and attend this commemoration which we have organised as independent and non-party political. We thank everyone who has supported us over the last 25 years and we thank everyone who has remained true to the cause for which these men gave their lives. We are eternally grateful to Tyrone National Graves Association for the magnificent work they do in maintaining the graves of these brave Irish soldiers and for assisting us in organising the 25th anniversary commemoration.”

ENDS

Photo of families with Tyrone National Graves at Drumnakilly Martyrs monument in Loughmacrory.

left to right

Martin Mullan (Vice Chair, Tyrone National Graves Assoc.), Declan Harte (son of Volunteer Martin Harte), Colm Harte (son of Volunteer Gerard Harte), Brian Cawley (Chair, Tyrone National Graves Assoc.), Cissy Mullin (mother of Volunteer Brian Mullin), Róisín Harte (wife of Volunteer Gerard Harte)

70,000 FAMILIES WITHOUT ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY FOR BASICS

 Research highlights ‘difficult sacrifices‘ people are making !

MORE than 70,000 people in the North of Ireland – that’s one in 20 – don’t have enough money each week to cover basic essentials such as mortgage/rent, food and electricity/heating. Three quarters of households (525,000) also say they  have switched off their heatibenefits  me point to save fuel, while the number of families saving on a regular basis is next to nothing.

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The shocking figures, contained in the latest Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) Northern Ireland Household Income Tracker, underline the region’s further plunge into poverty authors say they are particularly concerned about the introduction next year of the Universal Credit system in the North of Ireland, claiming households in the North are “unprepared and in the dark” on how it will impact them. Universal Credit was introduced this month in selected areas in Britain, replacing six types of benefits with a simpler, single monthly payment if a person is out of work or on a low income. It is part of the British government‘s declared commitment to ensure people are always better of in work than on benifits, and will be rolled out in the North of Ireland from April 2014. “Our research highlights the everyday struggles people in the North of Ireland are faced with in managing their households and the difficult sacrifices that they have had to make,” ILCU director Rosemary O’Doherty says. “Reports of the impact of Universal Credit in other parts of the UK are of great concern, because there seems to be a lack of awareness and understanding by those who stand to be most affected by its introduction. “Significant changes, such as the transition from a fortnightly to a monthly payment, and the merging of all payments into one single lump sum, could have a huge negative impact to those families already struggling to manage their finances.”

“Its authors say they are particularly concerned about the introduction next year of the Universal Credit system in the North of Ireland, claiming households in the North are ‘unprepared and in the dark’ on how it will impact them”.

The ILCU’s latest study said 47 per cent of people in the North of Ireland are unaware of the planned changes to the benefits system. It said more than half of households receiving benifits at present have little or nothing left at the end of each month after paying essential bills, and found that 71,500 people can’t even meet the most basic of weekly household commitments. The report revealed that almost 659,000 people had to sacrifice other household spending to cover costs of heating, while half the region is at present in fuel poverty and 63,000 households reported spending more than half of their income heating their home. Among the other findings in the ILCU tracker, 816,000 adults indicated that they, or someone within their household, were receiving some type of benifit, jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits or income support. And almost half in receipt of benifits were unaware of the planned changes to the system, which sees one monthly payment for the household. Separate indices published in recent weeks by both government and the private sector in the North of Ireland have revealed that living standards and wages in the North are well below the average in Britain. For example, UK medium household income is £419 a week before housing costs and £359 after housing costs, compared with £379 and £338 on the equivalent measures in the North of Ireland. Just last week a study from Asda showed that spending power continues to diminish in the North, with families now £7 a week wrose off than this time last year after having paid taxes and bought essential items such as groceries, electricity, gas, fuel and met mortgage or rent payments.

With many thanks to : Gary McDonald (Business Editor), Irish News.

THATCHER STREET OR BOBBY SANDS STREET ? PARIS POLITICIANS DIVIDED !

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Thatcher Street or Bobby Sands Street? Paris Politations Divided.

http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/thatcher-street-or-bobby-sands-street-paris-politicians-divided_275366.html?

Europe11.04.2013

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online

Paris (dpa) – A proposal to rename a Paris street after late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher has divided politicians in the French capital, Le Figaro newspaper reported Thursday.

One opponent suggested that Bobby Sands, an IRA hunger striker who died defying her, should be honoured instead.

The proposal to honour the “Iron Lady“, who regularly jousted with French leaders whether they were from the Left or the Right, came from a member of the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).

Following the announcement of Thatcher‘s death on Monday, UMP councillor Jerome Dubus said he would submit a proposal for a street or square to be named after her, as a “a small gesture for a great lady”.

His proposal drew contempt from leftist politicians.

The leader of the Communist group in the city council, Ian Brossat, who declared that Thatcher‘s “ultra-liberalism” had an “appalling impact on the state and the working class”.

Brossat said his group would submit a counterproposal – to name a street after Bobby Sands, “who died for defending the right of people to self-determination”.

Sands was the first of 10 IRA prisoners, who died on hunger strike in Belfast in 1981 over Thatcher‘s refusal to grant political status to republican inmates.

During the course of his hunger strike, Sands was elected to the House of Commons.

A Socialist Party councillor had yet another idea. “Dumbfounded” by the proposal for a Thatcher street, Christophe Gerard tweeted: “I will present a wish for a Shakespeare street.”

The proposals are expected to be debated at the next session of the Paris council on April 22. dpa cfb ar Author: Clare Byrne

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BRITISH INTERESTS BEST SERVED BY PRESENT ARRANGEMENTS !

 This letter appeared in the Irish News today and I thought I would share it, it’s written by - Martin Galvin- New York.

WHY would the British ever heed Brian Feeney’s call to Wipe the Slate Clean ( March 27 ) much less risk any honest truth process, when BBritish interests are better served by the present arrangements ? The ‘ unspoken amnesty ‘ which Brian Feeney says veteran republicans were led to expect, has been twisted by the British into a selective one-sided immunity or ‘ impunity ‘ for Crown Forces.

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Britain may dole out the occasional hard won apology burt need not arrest uniformed members of the British army or Constabulary (RUC), who carried out or colluded in sanctioned murders, which Cameron terms Unjustifiable Killings. The British have systematically stonewalled the families of collusion murder victims, like that of Pat Finucane among so many others. Some bereaved families will count it a victory to see an inquest, much less see the culprits in the dock. Even Saville stopped at scapegoating the troopers who carried out the orders on Bloody Sunday.

What makes anyone beleive the British would ever risk, much less encourage, any independant truth search which required troopers and constabulary (RUC) members to lead us back up the chain of command and indict those who gave orders or set policies ? On the other hand, quarter-century-old charges can be unearthed to send inconvenient republicans, like Gerry McGeough to Maghaberry, should they dare speak too strongly against such injustices during an election campaign. Britain’s lateset innovation of internment by licence & remand, today practised upon Marian Price and Martin Corey, was devised to threaten others. For example, should Gerry McGeough stand for election to Stormont or a council seat and campaign against British injustice, will constabulary (PSNI/RUC ) members await him at the polls claiming secret evidence to revoke his licence ? Why would they ever cede exclusive control and risk a genuine independent search for truth ? Surely those who negotiated such terms for republicans ( $hame £ein ) did not see this coming. Surely they have a moral duty to do more to undo these twisted terms than sitting still for them at Stormont.

I COULD LIVE ON £53 A WEEK CLAIMS UK CABINET MINISTER

” If I had to I would ” – Iain Duncan Smith.

Iain Duncan Smith’s minister’s salary is equivalent to about £1,600 a week after tax.

IAIN Duncan Smith yesterday dismissed claims that he was ” slashing ” welfare – and insisted that he could live on £53 a week. The UK’s work and pensions secretary said he was making the system fairer and giving people a chance to ” break free ” of benifits.

Ministers launched a fightback as 660,000 social housing tenents deemed to have a spare room begain to lose an average £14 a week in what critics have dubbed a ” bedroom tax “. It is part of a package of significant welfare and tax changes coming into force this month, which opponents say will hit poor familes and disabled people particularly hard. Changes to council tax benifits will see bills rise for an estimated 2.4 millon households in Britain rise an average £138 a year, with two million paying for the first time, an anti poverty group said. The system was yesterday hand-ed to town halls to operate but with 10 per cent less founding. On Saturday working-age benifits and tax-credits will be cut in real terms with the first of three years of maximum one per cent raises – well below the present rate of inflation. Two days later disabilty living allowence begains to be replaced by the personal independance payment which charites say will remove support from many people in real need. Later in the month trails begain in four London boroughs of a £500-a-week cap on any household’s benifits, and a new universal credit system. Piolt schemes for the flagship scheme have been scaled back amid reports -denied by welfare officials – that IT problems have derailed preparations for its rollout from October.

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Labour claims the impact of the measures and other coalition polices have left the average family almost £900 a year worse off. Market trader David Bennett told BBC Radio 4’s Today programe yesterday morning that he earned around £2,700 last year from working between 50 and 70 hours a week. He said his housing benifit had been cut even though his children stayed with him several days a week and his overall income was about £53 a week. It was not clear why Mr Bennett was not receiving tax credits. Mr Duncan Smith, whose ministerial salary is equivalent to about £1,600 a week after tax, stressed that he did not know Mr Bennett’s individual circumstances. However, asked whether he could live on £53 a week, the former army officer, who married into a wealthy family, replied : ” If I had I would.” During the course of the day more than 21,000 people signed a petition on  the change.org website calling for Mr Duncan Smith to “prove ” he could survive on £53 a week. The text urged him to ” live on his budget for at least one year “. He said the government was only trying to get welfare ” back in order “. ” We inherited a problem where we simply do not have the money to spend on all the things people would like us to do. ” What I am trying to do is get this so we don’t spend money on things that are unfair.” He urged critics to get the issue ” in perspective “.

With many thanks to : James Tapsfield, Irish News.

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