Category Archives: Irish Republicanism

Martin McGuinness R.I.P.

“The terrorist is always the one with the smaller bomb.”

– Brendan Behan

Today is not the day for long obituaries or to debate the pros and cons of the peace process, nor is it the time (as the British media have done all day long) to wheel out opponents of the IRA to dance on the memory of the leader of Irish nationalism.

TAL Fanzine has its views on all of the  political twists and turns that have taken place as a result of the eternal peace process. However, on this day, we send our sincere condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Martin McGuinness.

May he rest in peace.

The beauty of Celtic fans’ solidarity with Palestine

In just 24 hours Celtic supporters have raised more than £50,000 for humanitarian projects in Palestine. This was their response to the threat of a UEFA fine for the club as a result of their display of Palestinian flags at the Champions League play-off match against Be’er Sheva. A demonstration of their understanding of the issues and a display of international solidarity with the people of Palestine.

By John Wight

The worldwide response to the stance that thousands of Celtic fans took in solidarity with the Palestinians during their Champions League tie with Israeli side, Hapoel Beer-Sheva, leaves no doubt that in the second decade of the 21st century internationalism remains more powerful than any number of Apache helicopter gunships, cruise missiles, and tanks when it comes to shaping the world. For the Palestinian people, living in a de facto open prison in Gaza and under the longest military occupation in modern history in the West Bank, the sight of Celtic fans flying and waving a flag that means more to them than life itself will have made their hearts soar, reminding them they do not stand alone in defiance of an oppressor dedicated to their subjugation, cultural annihilation and despair.

While no one is suggesting that a free Palestine is just around the corner, the growth in international support for this righteous objective, with the spread and growth of the international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, makes the status quo evermore untenable and unsustainable.

A people who find themselves living under occupation, subjected to a racist system of apartheid at the hands of a colonial power, can never be anything but politically aware. Under such conditions you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing, and neither does it take a PhD in politics or economics to gain an understanding of the world. Thus the struggle waged by generations of Irishmen and women against British colonialism entrenched the worldview and core values that underpin Irish republicanism. A key plank of those values is the unshakeable belief that standing on the side of justice in the matter of oppression is more than a choice it’s an obligation and a duty. When it comes to the Palestinians this takes on added force when we consider the solidarity they have shown towards the Irish struggle in the past.

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One of the most moving documents I have ever encountered in my political life was a letter written by Palestinian political prisoners in tribute to Bobby Sands and the other hunger strikers upon Sands’ death. The letter was smuggled out of the Nafha prison in the Negev desert, where they were incarcerated, and arrived in the Falls Road soon after.

It reads:

To the families of the martyrs oppressed by the British ruling class. To the families of Bobby Sands and his martyred comrades.

We, revolutionaries of the Palestinian people who are under the terrorist rule of Zionism, write you this letter from the desert prison of Nafha.

We extend our salutes and solidarity with you in the confrontation against the oppressive terrorist rule enforced upon the Irish people by the British ruling elite.

We salute the heroic struggle of Bobby Sands and his comrades, for they have sacrificed the most valuable possession of any human being. They gave their lives for freedom.

From here in Nafha prison, where savage snakes and desert sands penetrate our cells, from here under the yoke of Zionist occupation, we stand alongside you. From behind our cell bars, we support you, your people and your revolutionaries who have chosen to confront death.

Since the Zionist occupation, our people have been living under the worst conditions. Our militants who have chosen the road of liberty and chosen to defend our land, people and dignity, have been suffering for many years. In the prisons, we are confronting Zionist oppression and their systematic application of torture. Sunlight does not enter our cell. Basic necessities are not provided. Yet we confront the Zionist hangmen, the enemies of life.

Many of our militant comrades have been martyred under torture by the fascists allowing them to bleed to death. Others have been martyred because Israeli prison administrators do not provide needed medical care.

The noble and just hunger strike is not in vain. In our struggle against the occupation of our homeland, for freedom from the new Nazis, it stands as a clear symbol of the historical challenge against the terrorists. Our people in Palestine and in the Zionist prisons are struggling as your people are struggling against the British monopolies and we will both continue until victory.

On behalf of the prisoners of Nafha, we support your struggle and cause of freedom against English domination, against Zionism and against fascism in the world.

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On Wednesday August 17, 2016, thousands of Celtic supporters answered this message of solidarity from Palestinian political prisoners in 1981 with a message of their own. They did so in the face of UEFA threats of disciplinary action against the club and a hefty fine. Celtic FC and its fans should be proud to pay any such fine, viewing it not as punishment but as an investment in their humanity. As Malcolm X said, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.”

The world now knows that in an age of cynicism and indifference to suffering, Celtic supporters most assuredly do stand for something.

Follow John on Twitter @ JohnWight1

You can see more of his writing at Medium, RT, Sputnik, and Counterpunch.

To make a donation to the #matchthefineforpalestine appeal click here

’66 Days’ – Richard O’Rawe’s Review Of New Bobby Sands Movie

This article was first published on  by The Broken Elbow

Former IRA blanketman, H Blocks PRO and author of Blanketmen  & ‘After Lives’, Richard O’Rawe reviews the new film about Bobby Sands, ’66 Days’.

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Drama at the absolute rawest edge it could possibly be,’ was how journalist Fintan O’Toole described the IRA/INLA hunger strike in Brendan Byrne’s new film, Bobby Sands – Sixty-Six Days. No one who was around at that time could argue with him.

I went to the premiere of this film in West Belfast along with my wife, Bernadette. Accompanying us were Dixie Elliott and his wife, Sharon. Dixie, a former cell mate of Sands’, had been interviewed for the film but his contribution did not make the final cut.

Unsurprisingly, the cinema was packed with Sinn Féin members and supporters. Equally unsurprisingly, many of those present cast their eyes into the darkest reaches of the cinema rather than in my direction. The reason why? Because I wrote a book called Blanketmen in which I said that a committee of republicans, led by Gerry Adams, had control of the hunger strike. I also said that, before the fifth hunger striker Joe McDonnell died, this committee rejected an offer from the British government that the prison leadership believed to be acceptable. Consequently, six more hunger strikers died on the fast.

Richard O'Rawe - 'Was it (Sands' death) worth it? It pains me to say that I don’t think it was.'

Richard O’Rawe – ‘Was it (Sands’ death) worth it? It pains me to say that I don’t think it was.’

Notwithstanding the preponderance of Sinn Féin members in attendance at the premiere, this is far from a pro-Sinn Féin film. In fact, one viewer later said to me that he thought Byrne had gone ‘a bit too far’ by using Fintan O’Toole as linkman (O’Toole is not known for his Sinn Féin sympathies).

Byrne also afforded speaking rights to former prison officer, Dessie Butterworth, Tory Cabinet minister, Norman Tebbit, and Margaret Thatcher’s biographer, Charles Moore. As well as that, he did not shirk from raising the despicable IRA murder of a young mother and census collector, Joanne Mathers, two days before the electorate of Fermanagh/South Tyrone went to the polls to elect either Bobby Sands or a Unionist as their M.P. To some of us prisoners, it seemed as if someone wanted to sabotage Sands’ chances of being elected.

I have to say, I found this film challenging. For example: Sands gave an interview to reporter Brendan O’Cathaoir of The Irish Times on the third day of his hunger strike.

Commenting on the interview, O’Cathaoir told Byrne: ‘He spoke fluently about how they felt compelled to start the hunger strike. And he made it pretty clear to me he was likely to die. He talked really in terms of laying down his life for his comrades, and of course I am conscious that his protest was in the tradition of positive resistance, immortalised by Ghandi. His most memorial phrase before we parted was: “If I die, God will understand.”’

I later gave some thought to O’Cathaoir saying that Sands’ fast was ‘in the tradition of positive resistance, immortalised by Ghandi’. Ghandi and Sands certainly had things in common: they shared the same imperial foe, they had a great love of their people, and they had iron will.

But unlike the pacifist Ghandi, Sands was committed to armed struggle and, while both revolutionaries may have used the tactic of hunger strike to achieve a political aim, they were altogether different entities.

Another thing that struck me was Fintan O’Toole saying that, ‘Ultimately Bobby Sands’ life effectively marks the end of the tradition of armed struggle because what he said is: There is no justification or need to kill people.’

This is simply not true. The Bobby Sands with whom I lived for three years on the blanket protest was committed to the armed struggle tradition; he never, during any of his talks with his fellow-prisoners, gave the impression that he viewed constitutional politics as a viable alternative to armed struggle: he was a committed IRA man, with all its attendant violence.

He died believing that his death would enhance the armed struggle, not diminish it.

Moreover, he had absolutely no idea that his death would lead to the peace process. If he had known, I doubt if he would have given his life so freely.

Despite Byrne’s attempt to strike a balance by giving anti-republicans a wide platform, this film is about a republican who died on hunger strike and his testimony. There is skilful use of animation, historical newsreels, and an excreta-covered, H-Block prison cell, complete with two men covered with blankets and lying on dirty mattresses on the floor.

A powerful rendition of Bobby Sands’ hunger strike diary from actor, Martin McCann leaves one with a feeling of utter helplessness, as does Mrs Sands being interviewed beside a van outside Long Kesh where she tells the world that her son is dying and, holding back her tears, appeals for no violence when he dies.

This is a film that people should go and view if for no other reason than that it has very coherent insights into Bobby Sands’ hunger strike, from both sides of the argument. It is also thought-provoking.

And always, at the back of my mind as I was watching this movie, is the question: Was it worth it? It pains me to say that I don’t think it was.

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Defending The Indefensible – Sinn Fein Meets Likud

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Sinn Fein is defending its decision to meet ‘under the radar’ with the political representatives of the right-wing Likud Party, the party of government in Israel, the facilitators of illegal settlements in the West Bank  and the architects of the destruction of Gaza.  By meeting with Likud, Sinn Fein has in effect broken the international campaign of the BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of Israeli government,  economic and cultural institutions.

That Sinn Fein can try to re-spin this betrayal as ‘critical engagement’ with the Israeli regime demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the principles of ‘solidarity’.

What is it that the Shinners do not understand about the principles of the ‪#‎BDS‬ campaign? Here, in the words of the BDS Movement website, are its stated aims:

WHAT IS BDS?

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Eleven years since its launch, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.

Ongoing injustice

For nearly seventy years, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights and has refused to comply with international law.

Israel maintains a regime of of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation over the Palestinian people. This is only possible because of international support. Governments fail to hold Israel to account, while corporations and institutions across the world help Israel to oppress Palestinians.

Because those in power refuse to act to stop this injustice, Palestinian civil society has called for a global citizens’ response of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – it’s self-explanatory and it is the campaign that is supported and promoted internationally by the Palestinian liberation movement. Sinn Fein didn’t get an exemption to engage in talks with Netanyahu’s Likud party so their claims that they are working in solidarity with the Palestinians are disingenuous.

It’s apparent that Sinn Fein is a political party that is completely self-absorbed and which operates only in its own self-interest. It has continually used the so-called ‘peace process’ as a means of closing down political debate in the north of Ireland and as a means of enhancing its own inflated view of itself as an arbiter of peace in other conflicts.

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In reality, Sinn Fein’s leadership have chosen a ‘side’; they’ve chosen the side of neo-liberalism against progressive liberation movements around the world. As if to prove their reliability and usefulness to the imperialist/colonialist powers their spokespeople and party apparatchiks tour the world’s hotspots preaching the gospel of ‘peace without liberation’ to the struggles of the Basques, the Colombians, the Tamils and the Palestinians, absurdly suggesting that they have a ‘one-size fits all’ solution to the complex problems of national and social liberation.

When Sinn Fein  leaders refer to ‘conflict resolution’ it is code for the counter revolution that the party has presided over for the last two decades.  It is the export of the counter revolutionary Trojan Horse of ‘conflict resolution’ that Sinn Fein is trying to sell to its former international partners in the liberation movements.

That they put their own self-interestand the potential of economic contracts for the devolved ‘NornIron’ Assembly with the Israeli government and Israeli companiesbefore the liberation of the Palestinian people is an indication of just how low this party has now stooped and how much it has moved away from the struggle for genuine social, economic and national liberation.

Meanwhile the Palestinian political prisoner Bilal Kayed is on the 56th day of his hunger strike…

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A plague on both their houses…

Leave_RemainThis article was written by a member of the Independent Working Class Association from the Blackbird Leys estate in Oxford. It outlines the fundamental anti-working class nature of the EU and the historic complicity of Tory and Labour politicians from both the Remain and Leave camps in the EU’s merciless rightward drift:

EU REFERENDUM IS A RED HERRING FOR THE WORKING CLASS

A plague on both their houses…

To a working class drained and exhausted by having been made to shoulder the weight and the cost of austerity and immigration (and being called bigoted and racist for its efforts), the ruling class is offering a choice between two very bad options, both of which will make life even harder for the working class. Because whoever wins will claim a mandate to carry on with their current identical agendas of privatisations and austerity (Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as defenders of the NHS? Please!). So even a victory for the Remain campaign would not be a victory for the status quo. This is a War of the Roses, the prize being whose friends get the rich pickings of privatisations (the Land Registry anyone?), academisation and anti-trade union legislation, with the working class being asked to pay for its consequences and validate the result.

Of course the EU is a cabal run by the Council (comprised of the heads of state) and unelected commissioners (with the European Parliament playing much the same role as the House of Lords) designed to serve the interests of multinationals at the expense of the workers in each member state. Nobody in their right mind can deny that. But the truth is that successive UK governments, far from being victims of these forces of darkness, have been the main actors in bringing about the most anti-working class policies that could be concocted that were then imposed on the whole Union. Here’s how the little scam they’ve been playing on us works:

1.  We are watching the game, and suddenly there’s a scuffle, we follow the scuffle, and we don’t notice that the ball leaves the pitch;
2.  A while later a ball is kicked back into the pitch, but it’s not the same ball that left it – and by the time we notice it’s weighted, it’s too late and we are told that now there is no other ball.

WTOlogoWhen the ball is smuggled out of the pitch, it’s taken to one or more of the four main transnational institutions of political and economic control: the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the EU. None of these have an elected decision-making body (the MEP’s that we elect have consultative powers), none of these have a transparent, democratically controlled system to address grievances. For example, any case of a country being sued by another country for breaching a WTO rule will be heard by a panel of 3-5 “experts” in Geneva. Their report can only be rejected by unanimous consensus and appeals be made only on points of law. The rules do not favour one country or another as such: they favour big business, and big business will use the countries with bigger muscles to enforce their will.

bananawar1The famous “Banana Wars” of the 1990s are a case in point: the EU had given bananas from former Caribbean colonies protected access to the EU markets to stimulate their economy. Latin American producers, owned by giant US-based corporations, sued the EU because protective tariffs breach free trade principles. The WTO found against the EU, but the US were not satisfied with the changes the EU made, so they imposed retaliatory, non-WTO authorised 100% import duties (and got away with it) on a range of European products, some of which (on textiles) hit Scottish producers very hard (https://www.theguardian.com/world/1999/mar/05/eu.wto3).

The rules transnational institutions make can and are broken, but only by the mightiest and in favour of the interests they serve, yet none of us gave them the power to make those rules, so we can’t vote them out to change the rules. As one anti-globalisation campaigner once said, “Free trade? What is it? Show it to me.”

The UK is a major player in all four institutions. It is true that at the WTO, IMF and WB it negotiates as an EU member, not independently, but, for example, from 2004 to 2008 the Trade Commissioner negotiating on behalf the EU at the WTO etc. was none other than Peter Mandelson.

In all four bodies, all UK governments of the last 25 years at least have aggressively pursued policies and trade deals that hugely strengthened multinationals’ interests and undermined democracy in general and the working class in particular, together with workers’ rights, the environment and the fabric of civil society. Here are some of the most pernicious and far-reaching:

Structural Adjustment Programs, that required developing countries to privatise their public services in order to qualify for the cancellation of debt they had already repaid many times over; these strengthened the hand of multinationals that could later be played at home;

GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services), that made it illegal for governments to impose “trade barriers” such as environmental and social safeguards, the obligation to train and employ local workers, the enforcement of workers’ rights including the right to organise through unions, democratic accountability, etc. – in practice, everything you would want to be protected by law, so when you hear “trade barriers”, reach for your wallet, as thieves are about – on companies interested in privatising public services. In practice, it stipulated that if a company wants to acquire a public service and run it for profit, it’s illegal for a government to stop them or favour companies that include protections amounting to “trade barriers” in their bid.

All EU directives about privatisation of public services, which are an application of GATS to EU member states, ranging from the “creation of a single market for postal services in the EU” (the operative term being market), to the Bolkenstein Directive. The Bolkenstein Directive is a diabolical and complicated piece of legislation created to ensure that a company providing a service in an EU country is automatically entitled to provide it in all other countries regardless of differences in standards and “trade barriers” between the country of origin and the host country. In its first draft it originally stated that when a company from one country provides a service in another country, the country of origin legislation applied, which would have resulted in a high-speed race to the bottom. Please note that the UK held the EU presidency at the time, and Tony Blair was pushing for the Directive to be adopted, and the Tories didn’t make a sound. However, there was some popular resistance in some countries (France, Germany, Italy, with the British trade unions spectacularly failing to campaign amongst their members and simply sending their bosses to Brussels) and the “country of origin principle” was removed. But it was not replaced with the “host country principle”, in a fudged, fiendish, final directive that therefore obfuscates the issue, doesn’t say which laws apply, and leaves it open to be battled out in courtrooms for lawyers to have a field day.

The UK negotiated an opt-out on the European Working Time Directive (the Directive meant to prevent employers from making workers work more than 48 hours a week). It is a standard clause in most UK contracts that you “agree” to opt out. The wording on www.gov.uk says, “You can choose to work more by opting out of the 48-hour week”, like it’s a freedom it negotiated for you, but doesn’t say that all overtime must be paid. It is of course true that in every country workers’ rights have been hard won by the organised working class but, truth be told, it has been EU regulations that have so far prevented successive UK governments from stripping off the last vestiges of them, and the UK employment law is the worst in Europe.

TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership), the next step from GATS being negotiated between the EU and the US, which is meant to allow multinationals to sue a government for “lost revenue” (???) if a government denies it permission or restricts its right to operate on its territory (through the imposition of “trade barriers”, of course), and CETA (which is the same as TTIP, but with Canada). Did you hear Cameron, Johnson or Gove or any of them (apart from, in fairness, the Green Party) denounce TTIP for the evil it is before it suited them for the purpose the referendum campaign?

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It is fundamental to realise that all of the above trade deals and consequent policies, that ensured the transference of power from nation states and elected governments to multinationals and banks, were pushed for by all of the UK governments in the last 25 years: they were not imposed on the UK – they were pursued by the UK and imposed on other countries (such as the developing countries).

So that’s what happens to the ball when it leaves the pitch, and that’s why the ball that is kicked back on the pitch a bit later is never the same ball – it is one heavily weighted, and weighted against the working class and in favour of multinationals. And if somebody complained every time it happened, the UK government was able to play the victim and say its hands were tied by WTO/WB/IMF/EU regulations.

It is of course tempting to think that leaving the EU would at least remove one of the fig leaves the ruling class hides behind. Yet one look at the reality of the British economy (no manufacturing worth mentioning, a parasitic banking and financial sector, and a monstrously overblown, bloated housing market) explains why bilateral deals, like the disastrous one Osborne successfully negotiated with China a few months back and which would be the rule outside the EU, mean the sell-out of the UK in order to line the pockets of Osborne’s patrons and bleed the working class to death. It is true that Norway has been doing well outside the EU, but it was never inside and it hasn’t put its public services, infrastructure, power and working class through the mangle the way the UK has.

And let us not forget that, given that the UK still retains the £ pound and the power to set its own economic policy independently from the EU and the European Central Bank, the austerity that has been choking the working class was not imposed by the EU but is entirely of Osborne’s choosing. Again: did you hear Boris Johnson or Michael Gove complain against it?

So the truth is that the ruling class, in the UK and in the rest of the EU, doesn’t need the EU, not even its cover, to carry out its class war and this very dirty work. What is happening now is that, after blaming the EU for the muck on its hands for too long, a sector of the ruling class has seized the opportunity to exploit the other sector’s political miscalculation together with the anger of so many, and make another push to further their patrons’ and their own interests. The working class will not only gain nothing from either outcome, but will be subjected to a further squeeze whatever the outcome, when the portion of the ruling class that wins takes all.

The EU offers its helping hand to the revival of Greek fascism, rescuing it from the grave made for it in 1945
The EU’s imposition of austerity on the people of Greece was also a helping hand to Greek fascism, rescuing it from the grave dug for it in 1945.

 

Rebels Should Vote To Leave The Empire

Why I’m voting to leave the evil empire and why I think every worker should do the same.

SteveLeaveRMTBy Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary, Rail Maritime & Transport Union (RMT)

We in the RMT are a union of 80 000 workers that covers train workers, Tube workers, port workers and seafarers. We oppose racism in all its forms, we are for a peoples’ Europe and a peoples’ world; a socialist Europe and a socialist world.

You may have been forgiven for thinking that the right wing are the only people who are arguing for a British exit from the European Union. News reports concentrate almost exclusively on the Brexit campaign led in Britain by racists like Farage, and racists like Boris Johnson and the right wing of the Tory Party. We have no association with these people at all.

They are like a stopped clock which is only right twice a day,  but for all the wrong reasons. We want to come out of the European Union because we want to protect the rights of workers.

If we look at the philosophical and political reasons why the European Union was formed we can see that it a capitalist entity, a completely ruthless trading block, in competition with other trading blocks, including developing countries.

As early as 1957 the European Treaty outlined the absolute necessity of the free movement of Capital, labour services and the pre-eminence of the free market economy within the borders of the signatory states. This completely rules out two of the fundamental bases of socialism i.e. the need for a planned economy and control over the movement of capital. To change this treaty all 28 current European states would have to unanimously agree the changes.

Of course, those in Britain arguing to remain in the EU  will correctly point out that the Conservatives led by Thatcher [and after that, the Labour government under Blair] brought about privatisation in all the major utilities; gas, water, electricity, telecommunications and of course the railways. However, what the EU does is institutionalise these privatisations and does not allow nation states to reverse them.

Take the rail industry for example. The European Fourth Railway Package institutionalises privatisation and enshrines it in European law, which has precedence over the national law of member states.

The Fourth Rail Package in its own words seeks:

“Opening domestic passenger markets. The 4th railway package includes the proposal to open up domestic passenger railways to new entrants and services from December 2019. Companies would be able either to offer competing services, such as a new train service on a particular route, or to bid for public service rail contracts through tendering. The proposed changes would make competitive tendering mandatory for public service rail contracts in the EU.”

Even if we had a left-wing government elected in Britain tomorrow and Jeremy Corbyn was Prime Minister,  he would not be allowed to renationalise the railways and stay in the European Union.

In our Maritime industry we have seen the obscene spectacle of Portuguese workers, our brothers and sisters, working in British ships in Southampton being paid less that £3 per hour, which is less than half the national minimum wage.  This is completely legal under European law, which in the Viking Lavelle judgements stated that an employee can work in a foreign country and be paid the minimum wage of their home country [Portugal] and not the superior wage of the host country [Britain].

In essence this is what the EU is all about. It’s a bosses club, a rich capitalist institution that wants to destroy workers’ rights and workers’ terms and conditions. It seeks to open up markets to private capital that have previously been closed to it, precisely because they were state owned and run. SteveRMT

We welcome any worker from across Europe and indeed across the world. We have far more in common with workers from other European countries [and beyond Europe] than with our bosses. We want those workers paid on the same terms, conditions and pay as British workers.

Our opponents try to brand us as ‘racists’ because we demand that the workers of all nations should have equal rights. It is a slur and a lie. It’s part of the “Project Fear” campaign to intimidate workers – especially those from ethnic minorities in Britain – into voting to remain in the European Union.

The liberalisation package that the EU is demanding by 2020 is the reason that France is on strike at the minute. It is intended that this package will be applied in every European country.  As in France, the need for capitalism to maximise its profits means deregulation, lengthening the working week, cutting pensions, introducing flexible working conditions [including zero hours contracts] for workers throughout Europe.

Multinationals are already taking advantage of those European laws which prevent free trade. We have the appalling example of an American company, Uber, registered in Holland, taking the Spanish government to the European court because, they say, their trade is being restricted.

The actions of Uber will become the template for every other multinational that wants to drive down terms and conditions. If a government tries to protect its workers, companies can take governments to the European Court. This will be further enshrined in the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, which is now being negotiated in secret, behind our backs. The chief negotiator for Europe in the TTIP talks said plainly that she was not responsible to the European people, but was responsible to the unelected European commission.

I would like to end by saying that this year is an historic year for me as an Irishman.  One hundred years ago, a few thousand Irish people rose up in 1916 and shook the chains of the British Empire. It is my fervent hope that in 2016, the peoples of France, Germany, Spain, Greece – and indeed all the peoples of Europe – will rise up against the dictatorship of the European Union.

James Connolly’s Last Statement, May 12th, 1916

ConnollyVigil9James Connolly’s Last Statement

Executed by a British Army firing squad,

Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, May 12th, 1916

 

“Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence, in any one generation of Irishmen, of even a respectable minority, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes that Government for ever a usurpation and a crime against human progress.”


Given to his daughter Nora Connolly on eve of his murder by the British.

To the Field General Court Martial, held at Dublin Castle, on May 9th, 1916:

I do not wish to make any defence except against charges of wanton cruelty to prisoners. These trifling allegations that have been made, if they record facts that really happened deal only with the almost unavoidable incidents of a hurried uprising against long established authority, and nowhere show evidence of set purpose to wantonly injure unarmed persons.

We went out to break the connection between this country and the British Empire, and to establish an Irish Republic. We believed that the call we then issued to the people of Ireland, was a nobler call, in a holier cause, than any call issued to them during this war, having any connection with the war. We succeeded in proving that Irishmen are ready to die endeavouring to win for Ireland those national rights which the British Government has been asking them to die to win for Belgium. As long as that remains the case, the cause of Irish freedom is safe.

Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland, never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland, the presence, in any one generation of Irishmen, of even a respectable minority, ready to die to affirm that truth, makes that Government for ever a usurpation and a crime against human progress.

I personally thank God that I have lived to see the day when thousands of Irish men and boys, and hundreds of Irish women and girls, were ready to affirm that truth, and to attest it with their lives if need be.

JAMES CONNOLLY,
Commandant-General, Dublin Division,
Army of the Irish Republic