Monday, 24 September 2012

International Day for Decriminalisation of Abortion


Public Meeting

Campaign for legal and safe abortion

Speakers from the abortion support network & women on the web.

Central Library Foyle Street 7pm

Protest Against Housing Benefit Cuts

This coming Thursday afternoon (Thurs. Sept. 27th) in town there will be a protest in the Guildhall Square at 1pm to once again highlight the continuing attacks on those claiming Housing Benefit.  Please come along and as always, spread the word!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The chickens come home to roost in latest outbreak of violence in North Belfast

Sectarian clashes witnessed this week in Carlisle Circus in North Belfast is a reminder that beneath the shiny new ‘normalised’ Northern Ireland is a political process that reaps what it sows.  While our local politicians continue to promote and sell the North to greedy developers, investors and tourism the reality is the majority of us, the working class have been left behind by a so-called settlement in which we are left to rot to be discarded and disposed when necessary. As increasing poverty, sectarianism, lower wages, mass unemployment, lack of affordable and social housing; including the introduction of water charges back on the agenda being as raw as ever the need to build a political alternative to the politics of green and orange is as urgent and relevant as ever.

For some, the three days of rioting was reminiscent of loyalist rioting across the North in 2005 and a re-wind to the Drumcree standoff in the 1990s, while for other media commentators this was an attempt by sections of the loyal orders and loyalist paramilitaries to give a signal that all is not well in loyalist working class heartlands.

The reality is the recent disturbances is nothing new in the context of Northern Ireland and is firmly located within a political process which has merely cemented and embedded sectarianism and segregation, rather than seeking to overcome and transcend differences and divisions. Instead of seeking building freedom and social equality for all in terms of class politics and revolutionary transformation(which it never intended to do), we have ‘equality of the two traditions’ and a change in the name and badge of the police.
As Jason Walsh highlighted in the Irish Times this week ,’Things have improved since the 1990s — the absence of bombs and relative absence of bullets is not nothing — but the expansion of inequality, including the cultivation of fraudulent "cultural difference" among sections of society is the price of Northern society’s persistence. In fact, to speak of "Northern Irish society" is to speak of nothing. All talk of respect, the "two communities", and "new dispensations" pushes all debate into the background….The institutions are dysfunctional and factional. "Justice", for instance, is a republican-unionist issue, so it is not really about justice, it’s about balance. On this and every other issue the balance must be struck between the "two communities".’(1)

Secondly, the volatile issue of parades and Parades Commission rulings remains a significant obstacle to overcome and will in the foreseeable future ignite and fuel existing antagonism and disillusionment with the status-quo. Unfortunately, in the short-term this dissatisfaction and resentment will express itself in a sectarian dimension as we witnessed this week. This was apparent listening to Radio Ulster Steven Nolan show this week when North and West Belfast Parades Forum spokesman and loyalist Winston Irvine constantly blamed the rioting on ‘erosion of protestant culture and identity’ while republicans and nationalists are getting everything.

This is despite the fact that repeated statistics and figures highlight that catholics remain more than twice as likely to be unemployed than their protestant counterparts and in consecutive tables ‘nationalist’ communities top the most deprived and disadvantaged wards in the UK. (2) This is to minimise and trivialise social/economic deprivation and grievances especially in terms lack of access to third level education in protestant working class communities but to frame this in terms of us vrs them in terms of religion is not only dangerous, but is misplaced and suits those in power. This is the product of a settlement built on two sectarian ethno blocs competing for resources and power from the crumbs of Westminster.
As anarchists, we believe this can only be tackled by building a united working class movement which will wipe away all forms of inequality and discrimination by building a society for all not just the few who only benefit from our division and isolation.

Continuing speculation on who organised the recent rioting, to blaming the Parades Commission and a small republican parade which abided to Parade commission guidlines and was relatively confined to the 'nationalist' New Lodge is a smokescreen which misses the wider picture. (See previous article-  Parading is a physical manifestation past and present of this lethal mix of rivalry, tension and sectarianism which will only benefit the various shades of unionism, paramilitary godfathers and elements of disaffected republicanism. Attempts by right wing opportunist unionist politicians, and loyalism to deflect attention away from existing tension and division within their own ranks in a sectarian tit for tat needs to be actively opposed.

While loyalism and unionism is sectarian and supremacist ideology it is far from monolithic and will unite in times of perceived threat and danger, which is why we need to expose these existing fractures and tensions providing a space for any progressive element that might emerge. The relative absence and weakness of a strong progressive left and trade unions on the ground will mean the forthcoming celebration of the 1932 Outdoor relief riots( in which the falls and Shankill briefly united) will continue to be a romanticised event for the converted view.

However , it is important that we continue to build and promote what unites us more than divides us at the coalface of conflict and struggle in our communities and workplaces as part of a non-sectarian revolutionary alternative.

Despite a token 'apology' by the Royal Black Institution over their recent behaviour outside the Catholic Church in North Street, it remains unclear whether our local ruling class and the forces of repression will be able to keep a lid on a serious eruption of violence at the end of the month in the commemoration of signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912, but what is clear as that as long as we have a process that failures to address the root cause of conflict in our society, lasting peace and justice will forever remain a suburban middle-class dream.

Marian Price: a victim of inhumane treatment. Demand Her Release – protest march 15th September

Marian Price has been detained without trial in inhumane conditions since May 2011.  Despite the fact that the charges against her – encouraging support for a paramilitary organisation – have been dismissed and her release ordered by the courts, she continues to be held on the direction of the North’s secretary of state, Owen Patterson. 58-year-old Price spent a year in solitary confinement in Maghaberry (an all-male prison) and Hydebank prisons.  During this time she was locked in her cell for 21 hours a day while kept under constant camera surveillance.  The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has said that spending anything more than 15 days in solitary confinement amounts to torture.

In June 2012 she was moved to Belfast City Hospital to be treated for severe depression, where she is held under armed guard in an isolated hospital ward.  She has also developed pneumonia and arthritis and her family say that her health is deteriorating rapidly.

As recently as Tuesday 21st August the Irish Times’ Suzanne Breen reported that Price’s family had claimed that her “… human rights were violated after a prison officer remained in a treatment room as she underwent intrusive medical procedures.”  She had been taken for a lung wash and an endoscopy so that a camera could be inserted to examine her lungs.  Despite the fact that doctors requested prison staff to leave the treatment room where she was heavily sedated, they refused to do so.

Breen further reported that on her way to Musgrave Park Hospital for tests for her arthritis, Price had  been double handcuffed despite her wrists being badly swollen as a result of the arthritis.

Royal pardon
Marian Price was released 32 years ago – in 1980 – having been jailed for bombings in Britain.  At the time she was first released on licence and was then granted a full royal pardon. When released she was extremely ill, suffering from anorexia nervosa as a result of being force fed over 300 times during the course of a hunger strike.
However, the Northern Ireland Office now claims that the royal pardon “cannot be located” and thus Northern secretary Owen Patterson claims the right to revoke her licence and hold her in indefinite custody – despite the charges against her being dismissed in the courts.

Reactionary politics
Politically Marian Price is associated with the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, which is the political wing of the Real IRA.  As anarchists, the WSM has absolutely nothing in common with the failed and reactionary politics pursued by these or any other ‘dissident republican’ groupings.  We recognise that their communal politics is completely opposed to the interests of the working class and can only lead to increased repression and sectarianism.
However, the treatment meted out to Price by the British political system amounts to internment without trial and psychological and physical torture.  This alone should be sufficient for anyone who cares about human rights to demand her release.  The severe damage that has been done to her physical and mental health increases the urgency of that demand.

Join the march
The Free Marian Price Dublin Committee has called a protest march demanding her release for Saturday 15th September (2pm Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square).  Workers Solidarity Movement members will be present on this march to signify our support for the call for her release.  We call on all our friends and supporters and on all who value humanity and dignity to attend this march and to encourage your friends, family and work colleagues to do so as well.