Saturday, 27 August 2011

Turning Up The Heat!

The shock waves created during this weeks announcement by Power NI (formally NIE) to increase electricity prices in the autumn was quite rightly viewed as yet another blow against working class households across the city.  With predictions of another severe winter on the cards news of the 18.6 per cent price hike in electricity costs was greeted with a resounding sharp intake of breath. “What next?”

As Executive directors of Power NI attempted to justify its decision on television and radio, blaming the current crisis within the global energy markets, earthquakes in Japan and of course unrest in the Middle East. Statutory agencies and community organisations, themselves increasingly inundated with families either drowning in debt or unable to cope on welfare payments, lined up to condemn the move as a “massive blow”. 

As the news began to sink in, it’s thought that Power NI’s forth coming plans will plunge an estimated 52,000 households across the north deeper in to fuel poverty.  Just recently figures released by the Consumers Council believes that people here are already paying up to £900 more for their energy than households in England.

In the very week as Power NI unveiled its plans, a young Derry mother-of-four was hauled before the courts in Bishop Street and criminalised for dishonestly obtaining electricity. It isn’t any wonder why families in some areas of the city are being forced into taking matters into their own hands. This is clearly a sign of the shape of things to come as working class communities continue to feel the brunt of capitalism in crisis. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti - anarchist organisers murdered by the state

On August 23rd 1927, two Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were judicially murdered by the State of Massachusetts in the USA, having been framed for two murders they didn't commit.
Sacco and Vanzetti were committed anarchists who had been active in many workers' struggles. In 1916, Sacco was arrested for taking part in a demonstration in solidarity with workers on strike in Minnesota. In the same year he took part in a strike in a factory in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was here that he met Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who was one of the principal organisers of that strike. Like most anarchists, the two were also active in their opposition to the First World War.

Severe poverty in the post-war years meant that many workers were dissatisfied with the status quo. The authorities were terrified that workers might follow the example of the Russian Revolution, and were doing everything in their power to portray communism and anarchism as 'un-American', and to frighten workers way from 'red' propaganda.



In April 1920, anarchist Andrea Salsedo was arrested and detained for 8 weeks. On the morning of May 3rd, he 'fell' to his death from the 14th floor window of a New York Dept. of Justice building. Sacco and Vanzetti, along with other comrades, immediately called a public meeting in Boston to protest. While out building support for this meeting they were arrested on suspicion of "dangerous radical activities". They soon found themselves charged with a payroll robbery which had taken place the previous April in which 2 security guards had been killed.

The case came to trial in June 1921, and lasted for seven weeks. The state's case against the two was almost non-existent. Twelve of Vanzetti's customers (he was working as a fish seller) testified that he was delivering fish to them at the time of the crime. An official of the Italian Consulate in Boston testified that Sacco had been seeing him about a passport at the time. Furthermore, somebody else confessed to the crime and said that neither Sacco nor Vanzetti had anything to do with it.

Article continues on:  http://www.wsm.ie/c/nicola-sacco-bartolomeo-vanzetti-anarchist-organisers

2011 reprint - WSM will be showing the documentary DVD ‘Sacco and Vanzetti’ by Peter Millar on Thursday 25th at 7pm at 48 King street, Belfast city centre. 5 pound door tax including meal. All proceeds will go to the workers co-op.

Derry Showing: There will be a Derry showing of the above documentary within the coming weeks.  More details to follow shortly. 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Launch of Foyle Gay Pride

This years launch of Foyle Gay Pride has just got under way and this year promises to be bigger and better.

Amongst this years events was the arrival of Ugandan born human rights activist, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesra. Due to her activism there has been doubts over whether or not she would receive a visa to enter the UK.  Kasha is the founder and executive director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a leading LGBT rights organization, and has campaigned tirelessly for human rights. She has appeared on national television and radio to call for LGBT rights and an end to homophobia. She has been physically attacked and has to move house regularly to escape harassment and threats to her life.
 

Last year, her name and photo were published by the notorious Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone, which campaigned for gay people to be hung. In January, her colleague David Kato was murdered not long after suing a paper that outed them both as gay. Police denied the killing was because of his sexuality, however homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, and can be punished by long jail terms.

News has just broke that Kasha has been granted a visa and is on her way to Derry and the launch of Foyle Pride 2011.  Below is a statement issued earlier by the Foyle Gay Pride team.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesra, the 2011 winner of the prestigious Martin Ennals award for Human Rights has been denied a Visa to enter the UK. Kasha was due to open the Foyle Gay Pride festival in Derry on 24th August but this recent development has left her struggling to fulfil that promised commitment.

Despite travelling throughout the world and being recognised for her continued commitments for human rights in Uganda, the founder and Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, was refused entry into the UK over concerns over her financial status at home in Uganda, a query which has never arisen before, making the UK the only country in her international tour to deny this inspirational character entry.

Sha Gillespie, chairperson of Foyle Pride in L’Derry has expressed an overwhelming sense of disappointment at the Embassy’s decision. Last year saw the first gay pride parade on the streets of Derry and proved to be a great success with over 5000 people taking part in the parade and 6400 in the week long festival. This proved to be a huge step forward for the newly crowned inaugural UK city of culture 2013, as previous press reports had been focussed on homophobic attacks within the city.

 "Derry has changed and last year saw the visual representation of acceptance of the LGBTQ community within our society. As a city still evolving and dealing with the legacy of the past, Kasha’s message and story is of particular importance and relevance and inspirational for our wider community to hear.

Foyle Pride has invested heavily in bringing Kasha to Derry despite having a very limited budget and relying on donations and the support of local businesses, money and resources that will now be lost.
 I can’t understand why the UK is the only country to deny her entry and deny the opportunity for the people of Derry and Northern Ireland as a whole the chance to hear this inspirational woman speak. We intend to publish an online petition on our facebook page
and urge everyone to go and register their disgust. Gay Rights have come a long way in this country but actions like this demonstrate how far they need to come. Despite this setback, I and the rest of the Foyle Pride committee remain committed to putting on a fantastic festival and welcome everyone to attend."


For more info on this years events please visit: http://www.foylepride.org/

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Public sector unions to ballot on strike action to defend jobs, pay and conditions

Up to ninety thousand public sector workers are to be balloted by the largest trade unions Unison and NIPSA on whether to take strike action to defend jobs, pay and conditions. Health and education workers will vote on the ballot between the 22nd August and 20 September as Unison regional secretary Patricia McKeown warns that essential services are facing "the biggest budget cuts in their history."

These include severe job loss; uncovered vacancies and unpaid overtime; pay freezes; casualisation of work by the abuse of temporary contracts and agency workers; compulsory redundancies and increased stress and health and safety risks.

The news comes after unemployment figures released from the NI Enterprise minister, Arlene Foster show that unemployment levels have increased to 1997 ceasefire levels, dispelling any illusion in a new era we were all promised. 

While our trade union bosses and local politicians continue to meet for tea and biscuits, basic living costs and inflation continues to rise above wages and conditions and the gap between the richest and the rest of us increases. This is affecting all workers and unemployed, and the need to strike back collectively against our bosses and politicians by withdrawing our labour is not only necessary but vital if we are to begin to build a confident and aggressive fight back.

WORDS: Sean Matthews WSM

Friday, 19 August 2011

March & Rally: End to Human Rights Abuse in Maghaberry

After being released from custody last night, Brendan Lillis remains in a seriously ill condition in Belfast City Hospital, his partner Roisin and close family remain at his bedside.  

With that news, tomorrow's march and rally organised by the 'Maghaberry Crisis Group’ as the situation in Maghaberry remains tense.  

People are asked to assemble at Free Derry Corner at 1.30pm and it will proceed to the Guildhall Square.  Speakers include Roisin Lynch.

End The Human Rigths Abuse Now!

The release of Brendan Lillis from prison is without doubt a victory for people power against an unjust system that continues to flout international human rights legislation despite of its facade to promoting democracy and peace as the basis of its structures.

With the release of Brendan Lillis, the issues of human rights abuse within Maghaberry prison are far from over. Today we still have the continuing criminalization of republican prisoners and internment of Martin Corey and Marian Price following the revoking of their licenses.

For Marian Price who remains the only female prisoner held in total isolation within an all-male prison, bear the hallmarks of an irreformable status-quo which rests on repression and callous disregard for working people.

Prison deaths and rates of prison suicide are staggering, growing, and are directly related to overcrowding and neglect, which equates into torture.

The North’s prisons are no exception, both here and globally we are witnessing a gradual erosion of prisoners’ rights and conditions which were often achieved by militant demonstrations and riots. The gradual privatisation of prisons, repressive legislation using the pretext of ‘war on terror’ or ‘war on crime’ are about creating a prison industrial complex driven by profit and fear, where prisoners are no better than slaves.

As anarchists we recognise that the criminal justice system’s first priority is to defend the status-quo and the bosses. Prisons are an integral part of the class system and vital to the survival of capitalism and the preservation of wealth and privilege.

While the Workers Solidarity Movement is opposed to state repression we are also opposed to the cul-de-sac of armed republicanism which only serves to further divide the working class in the service of a narrow, militaristic and all too often sectarian nationalism.

We support the prisoners’ demands on a humanitarian basis and call for an end to prison censorship and repression.

We support the call for one campaign one voice, linking with wider prisoner struggles at home and abroad based on the ‘relatives action committee’ model free of party political control. Solidarity and direct action, rather than lobbying politicians are our greatest weapons.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Eyewitness to the London riots - it's all about class

Workers Solidarity interviewed Hackney local and education worker Alex Carver about the roots of the London riots.  Alex is a long standing activist in the IWW union, housing struggles in the East End, and the big left events since the start of the recession, most recently the M26 Militant Workers Block and the J30Strike project. He was a direct witness to the rioting on Monday.  Here he tells Workers Solidarity why he thinks that the riots are best understood by loooking at class rather than race.


You went down to have a look at the riots, were you not afraid of being beaten and mugged, from media scare mongering that's what would be expected by most people?

Well, I had no idea what to expect exactly, which is why I went, but no I wasn’t – and I'm not scared by the riots now. I'm not about to glorify them either, but this is not the start of a new dark age.
What's happened in the rioting is an understandable reaction to the way things are set up – I’m reminded of the famous bank robber Willie Sutton answering the question ‘why do you rob banks?’ with ‘because that’s where the money is’. The kids robbed the shops because that's where the stuff is. They attacked the cops because they'd stop them. It was simultaneous, it was not two groups of people, one with a beef against the cops and another with light fingers – it was one group of mainly young people. They didn't attack each other, rape people, mug people - I was able to walk freely amongst them in my shirt and slacks straight from work; lots of people who were obviously not rioting walked with the crowd in daylight – many have said the mood turned later on but actually I stayed with it with a friend, who was also not dressed to fit in, until after midnight.
I understand things have been much nastier in other places; in Hackney at least, enough of the community were unafraid to go out and talk to the youth, even being supportive and sympathetic, to stop its total destruction.

This interview continues: http://www.wsm.ie/c/eyewitness-london-riots-class-race-2011

Also visit August Riots – the anarchists perspective: http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/2011/08/12/august-riots-the-radicals-perspective/

Organising against the household tax - You have a role to play

Workers Solidarity Movement members are currently centrally involved in helping to establish a campaign against the new household tax announced by the government.  For this campaign to be successful it will have to be built at a local level in every area of Dublin and in every town and city around the country. The central plank of the campaign will be non-payment and it will be based on the successful anti-water charges campaign of the 1990s.


A co-ordinating group for the campaign currently exists which consists of representatives of most of the left-wing political parties/organisations.  The plan is that as local campaigns are established this co-ordinating group will be replaced by a structure representative of the local campaign groups.

A national meeting in the form of a workshop/forum aimed at arming activists with the political arguments for a non -payment campaign and discussing the practicalities of organising the campaign in local communities will be held on Saturday 10th September at 1:30p.m. in the Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.  This meeting is open to anyone who wants to get involved in helping to build the campaign.

more on this: http://www.wsm.ie/c/organising-against-household-tax-ireland

Brendan Lillis now held in Belfast City Hospital

It has now been confirmed that Brendan Lillis is currently being held in the City Hospital in Belfast.  Late last night his partner Roisin confirmed that he was receiving urgent medial care under tight security.

Late yesterday evening, Roisin arrived back from a brief hospital visit with Brendan. In a message she said that Brendan had now two fluid drips inserted and was in agony from being moved earlier in the day.  It is still unclear whether or not Brendan would be sent back to Maghaberry on completion of this period in hospital.  People in Derry we are well aware of just how cruel the state can be in relation to the treatment of prisoners.

Back in 1994 Pol Kinsella died in the Long Kesh after suffering from long term illness rather than being released into the care of his own family. It was Pol’s father who later stated that his son ‘died after suffering an illness, barbaric treatment and neglect in Long Kesh.’ Our only hope is that this will not be allowed to happen to Brendan.

On Friday afternoon at 1pm there will be a gathering in support of Brendan Lillis immediate release at Guildhall Square, Derry.

The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament

Another book launch again organised by the Gasyard Feile 'The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament' by Tommy McKearney will take place in Sandinos, Thursday 11th August.


The book analyses the Provsional IRA's formation, development, and prospects for the future. "Tommy McKearney's story is one of those 'must read' books for anyone interested either in the struggle within Northern Ireland itself or in the overall relationship between England and Ireland"- Tim Pat Coogan.
The event will be chaired by Eamonn McCann and will kick off at 7pm.



Tommy McKearney was a senior member of the Provisional IRA from the early 1970s until his arrest in 1977. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he served 16 years during which time he participated in the 1980 hunger strike in the Maze. He is now a freelance journalist and an organiser with the Independent Workers Union.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Brendan Lillis Moved

Following on from today’s visit to Maghaberry, Brendan Lillis's partner, Roisin has informed the media and supporters campaigning for his immediate release that he has now been moved from his cell. It is now early evening and the Prison Authorities have yet to inform Roisin as to the whereabouts of her partner however it has been suggested that Brendan has been taken to a hospital on the outside.

Over the past 18 months Brendan Lillis has been confined to bed suffering from arthritic condition Ankylosing Spondylitis, weighing just over 5 stone, Brendan is now believed to be in a "critical condition".

As part of this year’s Gasyard Feile, one of the largest public meetings was held earlier this week at the Gasyard centre.  The meeting itself was to highlight the going conditions within Maghaberry and the concerns of prisoners.  During the meeting calls were made to widen the campaign further than what it has been to date to take on and connect similar issues in the south as well as in England.

At the moment plans are under way to create a national solidarity march and rally in Derry on August 20th and a platform to call for the immediate release of Brendan Lillis and the growing difficulties within Maghaberry.

News on Brendan’s current situation will be added here as soon as is known.  Further details on the August 20th march and rally will also be listed, as they too become known.

Anarchists respond to the London riots - Solidarity Federation

With media sources blaming “anarchy” for the unfolding violence in London and across England, the North London Solidarity Federation has released the following statement as a response from an anarchist organisation active in the capital.

Over the last few days, riots have caused significant damage to parts of London, to shop-fronts, homes and cars. On the left, we hear the ever-present cry that poverty has caused this. On the right, that gangsters and anti-social elements are taking advantage of tragedy. Both are true. The looting and riots seen over the past number of days are a complex phenomenon and contain many currents.

It is no accident that the riots are happening now, as the support nets for Britain's disenfranchised are dragged away and people are left to fall into the abyss, beaten as they fall by the batons of the Metropolitan Police. But there should be no excuses for the burning of homes, the terrorising of working people. Whoever did such things has no cause for support.

The fury of the estates is what it is, ugly and uncontrolled. But not unpredictable. Britain has hidden away its social problems for decades, corralled them with a brutal picket of armed men. Growing up in the estates often means never leaving them, unless it's in the back of a police van. In the 1980s, these same problems led to Toxteth. In the '90s, contributed to the Poll Tax riots. And now we have them again - because the problems are not only still there, they're getting worse.

Police harassment and brutality are part of everyday life in estates all around the UK. Barely-liveable benefits systems have decayed and been withdrawn. In Hackney, the street-level support workers who came from the estates and knew the kids, could work with them in their troubles have been told they will no longer be paid. Rent is rising and state-sponsored jobs which used to bring money into the area are being cut back in the name of a shift to unpaid "big society" roles. People who always had very little now have nothing. Nothing to lose.

And the media's own role in all of should not be discounted. For all the talk of the “peaceful protest” that preceded events in Tottenham, the media wouldn't have touched the story if all that happened was a vigil outside a police station. Police violence and protests against it happen all the time. It's only when the other side responds with violence (on legitimate targets or not) that the media feels the need to give it any sort of coverage.

So there should be no shock that people living lives of poverty and violence have at last gone to war. It should be no shock that people are looting plasma screen TVs that will pay for a couple of months' rent and leaving books they can't sell on the shelves. For many, this is the only form of economic redistribution they will see in the coming years as they continue a fruitless search for jobs.

Much has been made of the fact that the rioters were attacking “their own communities.” But riots don't occur within a social vacuum. Riots in the eighties tended to be directed in a more targeted way; avoiding innocents and focusing on targets more representative of class and race oppression: police, police stations, and shops. What's happened since the eighties? Consecutive governments have gone to great lengths to destroy any sort of notion of working class solidarity and identity. Is it any surprise, then, that these rioters turn on other members of our class?

The Solidarity Federation is based in resistance through workplace struggle. We are not involved in the looting and unlike the knee-jerk right or even the sympathetic-but-condemnatory commentators from the left, we will not condemn or condone those we don't know for taking back some of the wealth they have been denied all their lives.

But as revolutionaries, we cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent. Burning out shops with homes above them, people's transport to work, muggings and the like are an attack on our own and should be resisted as strongly as any other measure from government "austerity" politics, to price-gouging landlords, to bosses intent on stealing our labour. Tonight and for as long as it takes, people should band together to defend themselves when such violence threatens homes and communities.

We believe that the legitimate anger of the rioters can be far more powerful if it is directed in a collective, democratic way and seeks not to victimise other workers, but to create a world free of the exploitation and inequality inherent to capitalism.

http://solfed.org.uk/?q=north-london-solfeds-response-to-the-london-riots

Fuel Poverty on the Rise

Northern Ireland suffers from some of the worst poverty in Western Europe according to a report produced by a consumer watchdog. The Price of being Poor released by the Consumer Council found that our wages are the lowest in the UK and those who have least are expected to pay more for essential good and services such as the use of transport and fuel poverty.

Fuel poverty exists when a household has to spend 10 per cent or more of its income on heating the home to a satisfactory level. The number of households affected by fuel poverty in Northern Ireland has increased significantly in recent years. In 2006, research showed that 34 per cent (226,000) of households in Northern Ireland were in fuel poverty.

This figure rose to 300,000 households (44 per cent) in 2009. It is now believed with rising fuel prices and the current economic climate that fuel poverty levels here have risen above 50 per cent. The effects of fuel poverty can be devastating with just under 950 winter deaths between last year as households are left choosing between food or heating. The report also found that 72% of survey respondents do not have life insurance.

In an era of mass unemployment and cuts in essential social services the statistics in this report could not be more stark in terms of the devastating impact capitalism has on our everyday lives. Reports such as these only tell us that we already know and no amount of pandering to politicians will change our class society which enriches the few.

We need action not words as the fight against police brutality and social deprivation rings out from the streets of London. We need to collectively organise in our communities and workplaces to resist every cut-back and job loss. We need to build a better society for all which places social equality and freedom at its core.

The report can be downloaded from http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/publications

Monday, 8 August 2011

Féile Book launch Children of the Revolution

Another event as part of this years Gasyard Féile, this Friday August 12th will see the Derry book launch of Children of the Revolution — The lives of sons and daughters of activist in Northern Ireland by Bill Rolston. The eventwill take place in Sandino's Bar (Back Room Upstairs) Water Street, Derry at 7pm.

Children of the Revolution contains the stories of twenty people who had a parent politically active in Northern Ireland’s recent conflict, the majority deeply involved in non-state combatant groups. Interviewed at length by Professor Bill Rolston, the sons and daughters of republicans and loyalists recount now as adults their experiences of childhood and how the activities of their mothers or fathers impacted on their lives. Many of the names would be familiar to those conversant with the traumatic events and politics of the Troubles; names such as Adams, Ervine, Bunting, Lyttle, Nelis, McMaster, Meehan, McQuiston and McCann. Others are less well known.

The contributors tell of police and army raids, prison visits, absent or deceased parents with honesty and emotion. Some reject the parent and the events that led to their own suffering, while others are completely supportive of the parent and his or her politics; many are ambivalent. In the end, the people interviewed were not passive victims, but survivors who managed to ride the crest of the conflicts they experienced. Ultimately, despite the trauma, and despite their feelings of ambivalence, resilience won out.

Gillian Slovo, author and playwright from South Africa, commented on Children of the Revolution: “Woven through these beautifully rendered different experiences are the rage and the shame, the pride and the love, and, above all, the sacrifice that was demanded of the children of activists. A heart-wrenching, clear headed, painful account that, saying much about the costs of struggle, makes riveting reading.”

Bill Rolston is an academic from Belfast who has developed a diverse body of published work on the peace process, political murals, and general imagery of the Troubles. He is currently Professor of Sociology in the University of Ulster, Jordanstown Campus, and Director of the Transitional Justice Institute. Established in 2003, the Institute has rapidly become internationally recognised as a leading centre for the study of law in societies emerging from conflict. It has placed research emanating from Northern Ireland at the forefront of both local and global academic, legal and policy debates. In 2006 it received recognition from the American Society of International Law when its scholars were awarded the top book and article prize for creative and outstanding contributions to international legal scholarship – an unprecedented achievement for a non-US research unit.

Children of the Revolution by Bill Rolston is supported by the Community Relations Council and is available from all good bookshops and www.ghpress.com priced £8.95. ISBN 9781906271381. Paperback, 220 pages.

For further details, please contact:

Guildhall Press, Unit 15 Ráth Mór Business Park, Bligh’s Lane, Derry BT48 0LZ, N Ireland. T: (028) 7136 4413; E: info@ghpress.com; W: www.ghpress.com

Derry Domestic Violence Rate Increases

Recently released figures from Foyle Women’s Aid show a marked increase in domestic violence across the North with Derry now topping the poll.   Over the past year alone there has been an estimated 2282 reported incidents, with 866 offences recorded by the charity which works daily on issues directly relating to domestic abuse and violence.

However speaking following the release of the report a representative for the Foyle Women’s Aid commented that while it was undeniable the local figures were high, the organisation was “not put off” by this.

“We would see this as a very positive thing - that there has been an increased response to women reporting incidents and an increased confidence in women who feel they are able to come forward.”  

It was back in 1997 in the city following the horrific murder of local woman Caroline Crossan, when there was an outcry at the lack of support and funding for community organisations on the ground dealing directly with domestic violence.   It is now feared that given the current economic climate were both health and community organisations are under attack, that badly needed funding will be reduced or pulled completely. 

Since Caroline Crosson’s death it’s been widely noted that literally hundreds of women have escaped abusive and violent relationships on hearing Caroline’s story not to mention the work carried out by local women’s organisations such as Foyle Women’s Aid.  Each year in Derry there is now an annual Carolines’s Day organised by her family and friends, in an effort to raise awareness of domestic violence.

For help and support on issues relating to domestic abuse and violence there is a 24hr hotline 0800 917 1414

For further thoughts online click on towards women’s freedom http://www.wsm.ie/story/142

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Féile documentary on McAliskey

A documentary has just been released detailing the political journey and contributions of Civil Rights activist Bernadette McAliskey. Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey premiered recently at the Galway Film Fleadh winning Best Documentary there.

The documentary has been directed by Lelia Doolan, which she has mixed powerful archive footage of the younger, firebrand political activist. The documentary itself consists of a series of interviews conducted over the last several years however its production has taken just over nine years in total.

The director Lelia Doolan, has summed up the 87 minute documentary on McAliskey as: “Giving younger people, and older viewers as well, in a time of bland politics, a chance to see that there are ways of thinking open to them that allow them to exercise their freedom as citizens and encourage them.”

Whether or not you have much time for the personal politics of McAliskey is neither here nor there. McAliskey’s work and commitment in relation to community, civil rights and women’s activism over the last four decades makes her stand out as one of the most respected political figures in Ireland.

There will be two screenings of Bernadette – Notes on A Political Journey on Sunday August 7th at The Nerve Centre Cinema (4.30pm and 7.30pm).

"Crown Forces Watch" Facebook page shut down - police to have monopoly on spying

A Facebook page scrutinizing PSNI harassment and operations has been forced to close down today due to a media frenzy and scaremongering from the police and politicians. The Facebook page Crown Forces Watch has dominated news headlines and radio shows this morning with the Chairman of the Police Federation Terry Spence claiming the site was ‘an attempt to gather information which is likely to be of use to terrorists which I am in no doubt will be used in attempts to target police officers for murder."

However the page description read "Over the past few days in East Tyrone and South Derry the Crown Forces the PSNI/RUC (Police Service of Northern Ireland/Royal Ulster Constabulary) have launched a massive harassment and intimidation campaign aimed at Irish republicans. We must work together to combat this campaign of intimidation and harassment by working together as a fraternity opposed to this British oppression. The aim of this group is to keep people updated on the attacks, intimidation and ongoing harassment by the Crown Forces."

In an era of greater state powers, the curtailing of civil liberties and police repression of dissent this should come as no surprise. Policing by its very nature is political under any government as its first priority is to protect the status-quo and they will utilise everything in their arsenal to criminalise opposition. This is pattern taking place at home and abroad from the cases of agent provocatuers within peaceful environmental and social justice movements to the recent exposure of corruption in the Metropolitan police with journalists.  
Anyone who has been on a political demonstration on recent years will know the covert and overt level of police harassment and intimidation including video recording and the unprecedented use of anti-terrorism legislation as a first line of resort. We only need to look at the recent stop and search operation carried out by the PSNI against members and supporters of the Republican Network for Unity for over 2 hours including children as young as 4 outside Bainbridge. From the struggle against Shell in Rossport to the tragic death of Terence Wheelock nearly 10 years ago in Dublin bears witness to the cutting edge of ‘policing by consent’ in which the rights and dignity of people have been brutally trampled on.

This week the Guardian newspaper broke a story that the head of the Westminster anti-terror police are calling on people to report anarchists. In recent years, the PSNI has published pictures of young people allegedly involved in riotous behaviour which has been condemned by various human rights bodies which clearly highlights that there is one rule for them and one for the rest of us. What right do the police have to video record and take pictures of people at demonstrations? Where is the presumption of innocence and what crime have people committed? In Northern Ireland, people have a right to be concerned given the documented history of state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries which went beyond merely a few bad apples.
All these questions we need to ask ourselves is part of the larger picture of the role of policing in our communities and whose interests do they serve. 

As a recent WSM article on policing and law pointed out ‘Anarchists are opposed to policing in its current form since it embodies the antithesis of what we believe so strongly in: freedom. By being given a monopoly over force and violence, the legitimised abilities to pin you to the ground, silence you, lock you up - they have the power to violate your liberty at will, all in the name of the law.’ Quite clearly, the various toothless policing boards are clearly not up for the job so it is up to working class people to expose and confront political policing.

WORDS: Sean Matthews WSM

Gasyard Féile Political Discussion's

This years Gasyard Féile will mark its 18th year as one of the biggest community festivals in the North West and in this years programme it has over 100 exciting events.  Activities range from music, literature, sport, education, visual arts, carnival, fun days, health, discussions, lectures, conferences, community consultation and tours.


More importantly Féile features an extensive political debates in its programme and tomorrow evening, Sunday August 7th at An Druma Mór
Gasyard Centre a public meeting will discuss, The truth about Maghaberry at 7pm.

The administration portrays Magahberry Prison as normal but, according to prisoners and their families, conditions are far from normal and the regime imposed there has led to political protests inside and outside. In this panel discussion thge families of the prisoners describe conditions and outline the demand of the prisoners for political status.

For more info or to request a programme, contact the Féile office on 02871262812