#CopOnComrades: Statement from feminists based in Ireland.

We are a group of activist women from a wide variety of backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Last week, a good number of the left-wing men we work and organise with seriously disappointed us. These men – our friends, our fellow trade unionists, activists, writers, organisers, and artists – shared and commented on a reductive and damaging article written by Frankie Gaffney, which was published in the Irish Times.

feminism_icon

We live in a world where our advantages are tangled up with the things that disadvantage us – some of us are working class, some queer, some of us are poor, some of us come from minority ethnic groups or have disabilities or don’t enjoy the security of citizenship. As well, some of us have had a multitude of opportunities in our lives while some of us have had to fight our way through. It is an obligation on all of us to honestly look at our different positions within the structures of oppression and privilege under patriarchal racial capitalism. It is only by acknowledging all these differences that we have any chance of imagining and building a better world that includes us all.

Working-class ‘straight white men’ in Ireland don’t have it easy these days. They never did. They are ignored by a political class that couldn’t care less about them. They should have a say in the decisions that affect their lives, but they often don’t.

However, that doesn’t make them immune to critique. We all have to examine ourselves as oppressor as well as oppressed – because we are all both. The response to the article felt like a silencing to us and we are writing this because we are way past putting up with that. You will see from the names on this letter that we are women who have been in the thick of things. Whether in political parties and organisations, education, trade unions, or grassroots and community-based movements, we are tired of being accused of ‘bourgeois feminism’ and of betraying the struggle when we raise our voices. No campaign in this country could survive without women, without us – our work and energy and knowledge and organising have been instrumental in all the progressive movements in this country. When we say we need to be recognised and respected within our movements, we need you to listen.

The article expressed the view that identity politics is good for nothing except dividing movements, using language and narratives that have been made popular by MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) groups and the alt-right. According to such narratives, straight white men are the new most oppressed group. This ignores the struggles of women and others at the sharp end of misogyny, racism, anti-trans and anti-queer violence. It aims to silence those who will no longer tolerate the violence, abuse and marginalisation we have suffered for so long. These alt-right arguments have been used by people on the left to support the view that women, and feminists in particular, are to blame for the rise of the far right – for instance, for Trump’s election – and for neoliberal capitalism, which is seen as having damaged working class men in particular.

In this version of events, straight white men are made to feel uncomfortable about being ‘born this way’ by social media-fuelled ‘political correctness’. They are too afraid to say what they think or express opinions for fear of online retribution. Men who claim to be silenced in this way might try a week or even a day as a vocal woman or person of colour online and see how they deal with the rape threats and threats of racist violence that follow.

We are not concerned here about one opinion piece by one person. Rather we have all been aware of the increasing trend towards this particular new type of silencing of women from our supposed fellow activists on the left. The arguments mounted here and elsewhere are apparently to criticise some of the worst aspects of ‘call-out culture’, as well as the lean-in type of so-called feminism that disregards class and race. Yet they seem to be used now by some of our left-wing activist comrades as an excuse not to deal with the complexities of gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation in our political organising. These excuses, when accepted, prevent us from seeing clearly the state of our movements – who is taking part in them, who is heard and represented, who is doing the work. These are massive issues that have to do with how we are creating mass movements, which need to be addressed and faced to ensure that people of different classes, races, ethnicities, sexual orientation and gender have not just a voice but leading roles in our struggle. Without this solidarity in working together, we are simply imitating the oppressive structures we want to fight – the structures that say “not now, your life comes second.” It is not the straight white men who are being silenced when this argument is made.

We are working-class women, women of colour, migrant women, trans women, Traveller women, disabled women, queer women, women who are sex workers, women with children, and women who are none of these, active in our communities and committed to an anti-capitalist struggle. We are well aware that a right-wing, neoliberal distortion of feminism and what is called ‘identity politics’ exists. We know this because it erases our experiences and struggles and we resist this erasure through our work as activists every single day. It is distressing and enraging that we also have to fight against the bad faith of fellow activists on the left – mostly men, sometimes women – who, for their own reasons, blur the distinction between this kind of middle-class neoliberal faux-feminism, and a truly radical feminist politics that has class struggle at its very core. This hurts us because it erases and undermines our realities, our suffering, our analyses, and our organising, and gives more strength to the powers that are ranged against us. For many of us, it is heart-breaking to look at some of the men around us and realise that they are nodding in agreement with this erasure of their working class women friends and comrades.

Most of us have grown up learning to appease men. How to give them our space, how to deal with the fact that they dominate any political discussions, that they are paid more, heard more and believed more. However, most of us expect that the men we work with in all the social justice movements we are part of should have at least considered how they are complicit in this domination when they refuse to recognise that it exists. Patriarchy forces men into roles that damage them as well as us. Most of us have men that we love, admire and respect in our lives and for that reason, not only because it damages and diminishes the life experiences of women, we should all be fighting patriarchy together.
Niamh McDonald
Zoe McCormack
Jen O’Leary
Aline Courtois
Emily Waszak
Theresa O’Keefe
Sinéad Redmond
Aislinn Wallace
Hazel Katherine Larkin
Linnea Dunne
Natalia Fernandez
Helen Guinane
Maggs Casey
Stephanie Lord
Anne Mulhall
Eileen Flynn
Ellie Kisyombe
Elaine Feeney
Wendy Lyon
Sarah Clancy
Brigid Quilligan
Emily Duffy
Clara Purcell
Aoibheann McCann
Aoife Frances
Shauna Kelly
Eilís Ní Fhlannagáin
Dearbhla Ryan​
Michelle Connolly
Siobhán O’Donoghue
Aoife FitzGibbon O’Riordan
Stephanie Crowe Taft
Denise Kiernan
Aisling Egan
Donnah Vuma
Kate O’Connell
Natalia Fernández
Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird
Mary McAuliffe
Marie Mulholland
Margo Harkin
Avril Corroon
Juliana Sassi
Ailbhe Smyth
Kate McGrew
Ciara Miller
Aoife Dermody
Emer Smith
Francisca Ribeiro
Jerrieann Sullivan
Marie McDonnell
Kathleen Gaul
Liz Martin
Laura Lee
Roisin Blade
Kerry Guinan
Gráinne O’Toole
Edel McGinley
Máiréad Enright
Erin Fornoff
Sarah Fitzgibbon
Cliona Kelly
Ciara Fitzpatrick
Bronwen Lang
Shonagh Strachan
Dervla O’Neill
Hilary Darcy
Jane Xavier
Emma Campbell
Clara Rose Thornton IV
Linda Connolly
Nomaxabiso Maye
Rosa Thompson
Liz Nelson
Eavan Brennan
Doireann Ní Ghríofa
Elaine D’alton
Anne Rynne
Elaine Crory
Jodie Condon
Clare Kelly
Catriona O’Brien
Meireka Radford
Lisa Keogh Finnegan
Fiona Dunkin
Lelia Doolan
Jacinta Fay
Mary O’Donoghue
Mariel Whelan
Aine Treanor
Flavia Simas
Meabh Savage
Noirin Lynch
Claire Brophy
Liz Price
Linda Kavanagh
Linda Devlin
Aileen O’Carroll
Anita Koppenhofer
Vicky Donnelly
Marianne Farrelly
Aisling Walsh
Ronit Lentin
Sarah Ferrigan
Neltah Chadamoyo
Aine Ni Fhaolain
Rosi Leonard

BREAKING: @Lawyers4Choice publish draft bill following Citizens Assembly vote.

A group of lawyers have  published a draft bill following the Citizens Assembly votes around reproductive health at the weekend. The bill:

gives effect to the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations for abortion law reform. The purpose of the Bill is to codify the Assembly’s proposals, and to show how simply and easily that can be done.”

Lawyers for choice

The group of lawyers that drafted the bill have stated  that “the provisions reflect the choices of the Assembly members’ and not those of Lawyers for Choice.”

You can read the draft legislation and accompanying full statement below.

For PRESS RELEASE

THE CITIZENS ASSEMBLY’S PROPOSALS: A DRAFT BILL

Lawyers for Choice has produced a draft bill that gives effect to the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations for abortion law reform. The purpose of the Bill is to codify the Assembly’s proposals, and to show how simply and easily that can be done. The provisions reflect the choices of the Assembly members’ and not those of Lawyers for Choice.

Regrettably, the Assembly’s deliberations on legislation were confined to grounds for accessing abortion only. Experience worldwide shows that, even where grounds are well-drafted, abortion can be difficult to access. The Oireachtas must pay attention to barriers to access such as obstructions outside of clinics, the circulation of misleading information on abortion, underfunding of services, and conscientious objection. Any final legislation must make provision for these matters.

In addition, we regret that the Assembly was unable to consider the decriminalisation of abortion, which is clearly required by international human rights law.

We welcome the Citizens Assembly’s recommendation that abortion be available on request up to 12 weeks, and on socio-economic and health grounds up to 22 weeks. However, we are concerned that the Assembly process did not always give members the opportunity to consider international best practice in the drafting of abortion legislation. To this end we note:

  • The Assembly has recommended making abortion available predominantly only in exceptional cases. ‘Exceptions-based’ legislation can stigmatise abortion by treating it as being different to other forms of medical care. It imposes burdens on pregnant people to establish that their abortions are ‘deserving’. It is also vulnerable to unduly conservative interpretation, which inhibits women’s access to services; for example, by distinguishing sharply between health and socio-economic grounds. We favour legislation which recognises and positively guarantees equal access to abortion care for all those who need it.
  • We recommend that no ‘rape ground’ should be included in any legislation. In other jurisdictions, accessing abortion on grounds of rape requires women to ‘prove’ their rape to the satisfaction of medics, police or courts. Such requirements reinforce damaging myths about rape victims’ credibility and lead to trauma and delay. Instead, the Oireachtas should ensure that other broader grounds (e.g. risk to health) can meet the needs of those pregnant through rape.
  • We do not support a specific disability ground short of fatal foetal abnormality. Its inclusion is stigmatising. Again, care should be taken to ensure that other grounds are drafted appropriately to ensure that they can meet the needs of those unable to continue a pregnancy after a diagnosis of severe foetal anomaly. The state is reminded of its international obligations to provide appropriate social and economic support, information and medical care to those in this position.
  • We regret that the Assembly’s recommendations include language from the case-law generated by the 8th Amendment e.g. ‘unborn’ and ‘real and substantial risk’ to life. These restrictive legal concepts have no place in Irish law once the Amendment is repealed or replaced and are unhelpful for medical practitioners.

ABOUT LAWYERS FOR CHOICE

Lawyers for Choice is a collective of legal academics, practising lawyers and law students, advocating for reproductive justice in Ireland.

lawyers4choice@gmail.com

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further comment or queries on this Bill please contact

Professor Fiona de Londras Máiréad Enright

Birmingham Law School Birmingham Law School

f.delondras@bham.ac.uk m.enright@bham.ac.uk

Dr Vicky Conway

Dublin City University

Vicky.conway@dcu.ie

GENERAL SCHEME OF

ACCESS TO ABORTION BILL 20171*

Part 1 – Preliminary and General

Head 1: Short Title and Commencement

  1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Access to Abortion Act 2017.

(2) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister for Justice and Equality may, following consultation with the Minister for Health, appoint by order or orders either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or different provisions.

Part 2: Access to Abortion Care

Head 2: Abortion without restriction as to reason

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion until the end of the twelfth week of pregnancy without restriction as to reason if:
    1. She expresses the view to a registered medical practitioner that she does not wish to continue with her pregnancy;
    2. In the case of medical abortion: the medication is prescribed by a registered medical practitioner; or
    3. In the case of surgical abortion: the abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location

Head 3: Risk to Health

  1. A pregnant women may access an abortion until the end of the twenty-second week of pregnancy if
    1. A registered practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would entail a risk to the pregnant woman’s health; and
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location; and
    3. In forming her opinion, the registered medical practitioner has taken account of the pregnant woman’s views on the impact of the continuance of the pregnancy on her health.

Head 4: Non-Fatal Foetal Abnormality

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion until the end of the twenty-second week of pregnancy if:
    1. A registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the unborn child has a significant abnormality that is not likely to result in death before or shortly after birth;
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location.

Head 5: Pregnancy Resulting from Rape

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion until the end of the twenty-second week of pregnancy if:
    1. She informs a medical practitioner that the pregnancy resulted from rape;
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location

Head 6: Socio-Economic Factors

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion until the end of the twenty-second week of pregnancy if:
    1. She informs a medical practitioner that she is of the view that she lacks the necessary socio-economic resources to support a child that would be born if the pregnancy continued to full term;
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location

Head 7: Serious Risk to Health

  1. A pregnant women may access an abortion if:
    1. A registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would entail a serious risk of damage to the pregnant woman’s health; and
    2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location; and
    3. In forming her opinion, the registered medical practitioner has taken account of the pregnant woman’s views on the impact of the continuance of the pregnancy on her health.

Head 8: Risk to Life

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion if:
  1. A registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the continuance of the pregnancy would entail a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman, whether physical risk or risk by suicide,; and
  2. The abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location; and
  3. In forming her opinion, the registered medical practitioner has taken account of the pregnant woman’s views on the impact of the continuance of the pregnancy on her life.
  1. “Risk to life” includes the risk of suicide.

Head 9: Fatal Foetal Anomaly

  1. A pregnant woman may access an abortion if
    1. a registered medical practitioner is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the unborn child has a foetal abnormality that is likely to result in death before or shortly after birth.
    2. the abortion is performed by a registered medical practitioner or other health care practitioners under their supervision at an authorised location;

Head 10: Emergency

  1. It shall be lawful for a single registered medical practitioner to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman if he is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the abortion is necessary to avoid an immediate risk to her life, or an immediate serious risk of damage to her health.

Head 11: Consent

  1. Nothing in this Act shall operate to affect any enactment or rule of law relating to consent to medical treatment.

1* Prepared and proposed for ‘Lawyers for Choice’ based on “General Scheme of the Access to Abortion Bill 2015” (2015) 5(1) feminists@law as prepared by Máiréad Enright, Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham School of Law; Vicky Conway, Lecturer, Dublin City University; Fiona de Londras, Professor of Global Legal Studies, University of Birmingham School of Law; Mary Donnelly, Professor of Law, University College Cork School of Law; Ruth Fletcher, Senior Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London School of Law; Natalie McDonnell, Barrister-at-Law, Law Library, Dublin; Sheelagh McGuinness, Senior Lecturer, Bristol Law School; Claire Murray, Lecturer, University College Cork School of Law; Sinéad Ring, Lecturer, University of Kent Law School; Sorcha Uí Chonnachtaigh, Lecturer in Ethics and Law, University of Keele Law School.

Kenny, Fitzgerald protecting sexually abusive #Spycops in Ireland.

UNDERCOVER COP: THE MARK KENNEDY STORY

Mark Kennedy engaged in an “abusive sexual relationship on Irish soil”

 

Today, four women deceived into relationships with undercover police in the UK [1,2] have written to the Irish Prime minister, Minister for Justice and Equality, and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Their letters [3] ask why they were targeted in Ireland for abusive relationships by UK undercover officers, and demand a full Inquiry into the activity of UK undercover officers in Ireland.

These letters are in response to the secret “report” prepared by the An Garda Síochána in 2011 [4] attempting to justify the activities of undercover police officers from the UK in Ireland.

They highlight the fact that the relationships they had with these officers, which took place in part on Irish soil, have been admitted to be human rights violations [5]. This means the report’s claims that police activities in Ireland were limited to tracking “external activists with a track record for violence” are false.

These officers activities in the Republic of Ireland will not be investigated as part of the Pitchford Inquiry into Undercover Policing [6], and so  far, the response of  the Justice Minister and Garda has been to conduct secret, internal reviews into these revelations and to deny their grave  importance [7]. The women are demanding a full and public investigation into the activities of these officers, detailing any offenses they committed in Ireland. They also specifically ask:

  • Who authorised these undercover operations in Ireland?
  • Do Irish police hold files on us, and when will we be given access to those files?
  • How does the Irish state justify foreign police officers having deceptive intimate relationships with women, in violation of our human rights and bodily integrity?
  • How many more UK police officers operated in Ireland and how many more women were abused by the police on Irish soil?

Kate Wilson travelled to Dublin with her partner, Mark “Stone” (Kennedy) in May 2004 said “The MPS apologised for the violation of my human rights in the UK, but those rights were also violated in Ireland. Someone authorised Mark to take me to Ireland with him, and engage in an abusive sexual relationship on Irish soil. We are asking for answers, and the Irish government is responding with denials and secret reports. That should be of great concern to anyone who wants to believe in accountability and human rights in Ireland”

Mark Kennedy also met up with “Lisa” as she travelled back from protests in Rossport against the Corrib gas pipeline. Lisa was deceived by the police into an abusive relationship with him that lasted six years before she exposed his real identity in 2010. She said “The UK undercover officers crossed borders regularly, and seemingly without oversight. Their operations extended far outside the remit of the current investigations. Was he authorised to continue our relationship in Ireland? Was he being paid? Did the Irish authorities know?”

“Alison” was in a five year relationship with Jenner who she knew as Mark Cassidy. She said “When it was suggested that the Colin Roach Centre send a delegation to the West Belfast Festival in the Summer of 1995, Jenner was keen to offer his van to drive people there. The journey included a stop-over in the Republic of Ireland. Were the authorities there informed that a Special Branch agent was operating in their territory? And if not, why not?”

Key background links

1] The women who made this statement have all been affected by undercover police. ‘Alison‘ had a long term relationship with Mark Jenner,  ‘Lisa‘,  and Kate Wilson  (previously under the pseudonym of “Lily”) had long term relationships with Mark Kennedy,  and Helen  Steel (previously under the pseudonym of “Clare”) had a long term  relationship with John Dines. ‘Alison’, & ‘Lisa’ are pseudonyms as they have anonymity upheld by the courts.    https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmhaff/837/130205i.htm

2]   These women all made legal claims against  the Metropolitan  Police arising from their deception into long-term  intimate   relationships with police officers who had infiltrated social  and   environmental justice campaigns. These were both human rights claims and common law claims, including deceit, assault, misfeasance in public office and negligence.

3] https://policespiesoutoflives.org.uk/spycops-abroad/irish-inquiry-letter

4] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ministers-kept-in-the-dark-over-british-spy-6kp5shhgt?shareToken=2bfee46b3a0b361d78248ce189fd8e36

5] As part of an out-of-court settlement, the Met police issued a comprehensive apology [http://news.met.police.uk/videos/mps-apology-long-term-sexual-relationships-21074} to three of these women (Alison, Helen & Lisa) in November 2015. http://news.met.police.uk/news/claimants-in-civil-cases-receive-mps-apology-138574. The same apology was extended to the fourth woman (Kate) in March 2017.

6] A public inquiry has also been launched covering only England & Wales .https://www.ucpi.org.uk/

7] http://www.parliamentary-questions.com/question/7624-17/

8] These women aim to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers. ‘We come from different backgrounds and have a range of political beliefs and interests, and we are united in believing that every woman, and   every person, has a right to participate in the struggle for social and   environmental justice, without fear of persecution, objectification,  or  interference in their lives.’ – from ‘Where we stand’ Statement.

Nationwide Demonstrations Planned At Police Stations Across Ireland.

Nationwide Demonstrations Planned At Police Stations Across Ireland.

A national mobilisation against police corruption is underway as part of the public response to recent uncovering of systemic abuses within An Garda Siochana, the Irish police force.

local

People have responded to an initial call to show solidarity with Maurice McCabe and his family by organising vigils and protests at police stations across the country, all timed to coincide at 6pm on Saturday 18th February.

Protests have been called so far at the following police stations

Tallaght, Dublin

Trim, County Meath

Mill Street, County Galway

Coolock, County Dublin

Anglesea Street, Cork

Carlow town, County Carlow

Rathmines, Dublin

Ennis Road, Kilrush, County Galway

Clontarf,  County Dublin

Dominic Street, Kilkenny

Castlebar, County Mayo

Kevin Street, Dublin

Finglas, Dublin

Roscommon, Country Roscommon

Letterkenny, County Donegal

Cobh, County Cork

Monaghan, County Monaghan

What is striking is that this is decentralised call, outside any traditional political party. Looking at the events organised, they range from holding candle vigils in direct support of Maurice McCabe and family, to call for the protection of whistle-blowers and more explicitly political calls to end political policing around political dissent in communities.

The national mobilisations across the country in recent years, specifically around community resistance to water meter installation has lead to an increase public understanding of what political policing can and does look like.

Facebook groups have been popping up over the last few hours so the list above will quickly be out of date.

On one of the coordinating pages this map have been pasted showing garda stations across the country. Given how quickly this demonstrations of public solidarity are popping, we are likely to see a quite a significant turn out across the country on Saturday.

 

Where is the #Spycops statement @CharlieFlanagan ?

The security forces here would be very concerned about agents from an another country operating in this jurisdiction…. I can confirm to the Deputy that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade will meet with the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, here in Dublin next week to discuss this matter. I do not have any further details I can put before the House now. The Minister will make a statement following his meeting.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, 8th Feb 2017

I find it shocking that via my solicitor Darragh Mackin of KRW Law I have informed the Minister of Justice about such issues via legal letters dated 17 May 2016 and again on 20 December 2016,4 yet to date I have received no reply although both letters were even reported in the media.

Sarah Hampton in email to Enda Kenny, Charlie Flanagan and Frances Fitzgerald 12th Feb 2017

Support independent research and journalism by using the share button below, thanks.

 

Its been a fairly rough fortnight for the individuals in government, the ‘leaders’ dealing with the fallout of what happens when the nature of policing as it exists in the state today becomes ongoing public conversation.

Nowhere near as rough as its has been over the years to those seeking simply to make public what the institution of An Garda Siochana get up to. Lost somewhat in the mix is the momentum building for the Irish state to open up about the role of secret British undercover policing units working in Ireland.

There are of course distinctions to be made between vindictive, inter-agency retaliations against police whistle-blowers from within the force -such as we now know was meted out to Maurice McCabe and David Taylor and others yet to come to light – and the specific vindictive secret political policing waged against people involved in political, environmental and social justice struggles.

What they have in common is though it the deep desire of institutional power centres such as police forces to keep secret what it is they are doing. At all costs police forces want to stay outside and beyond transparency and specifically beyond anything even resembling democratic control.

Precisely because they know that when all is out in the open, public revulsion turns to demand for institutional change. The first instinct of any power center is to defend its own power merely to retain it.

In police forces, this becomes coded in cultures of omerta. Loyalty to the organisation comes first, and all who show disloyality shall be treated accordingly.

So if this is what happens to those whistle-blowers inside police forces, how much more difficult is it for those outside police forces, trying to both raise public consciousness and achieve personal and collective justice around police abuses?

 

mk-dublin

Sarah Hampton (far left) with British undercover Mark Kennedy in Ireland 2005

And this brings us to the start of last week where a press conference was held around questions arising from British undercover officers working in Ireland. A report from that press conference is here. There is a tactic acceptance by previous and current governments that British officers did indeed work in Ireland.

Several TD’s including Clare Daly, Jonathan O’Brien and Paul Murphy as well as MEP Lynn Boylan have raised questions to the present government and at the European Parliament.

It was in response to questions by Paul Murphy on Wednesday March 8th that Enda Kenny stated the quote at the top of this piece.

However the press statement sent out by Mininster from Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlies Flanaghan following his meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, made no reference to raising the issue of British undercovers working in Ireland.

Earlier this week an email was sent to Enda Kenny, Charlie Flanagan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald by one of the women deceived into a long term relationship with Mark Kennedy. As with all correspondence sent directly to members of the government, there has been no reply.

Kennedy was British officer with the secret National Public Order Intelligence unit. Sarah Hampton first met Kennedy whilst on holiday in Ireland. Kennedy at the time was using the persona Mark Stone, pretending to be an environmental activist. Sarah has already received a written apology from the Metropolitan police who ran the secret police unit. However, she, like hundreds of other caught up in British secret policing operating it seamlessly across national borders, she has many unanswered questions. Saying sorry is easy if all the other actions you come up against are deliberate obstacles, or as is the case in from the Irish government, simply ignoring your correspondence.

Here is that email to Kenny, Flanaghan and Fitzgerald in full.

Dear Taoiseach Enda Kenny,

Dear Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD

Dear Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald TD

My name is Sarah Hampton, you may have first heard my name when I was quoted on theParliament floor by TD Paul Murphy on 8 February 2017.

In 2005 I was on holiday on Ireland when I met Mark Kennedy. I subsequently went onto have a one year relationship with the man I then knew as ‘Mark Stone’ without any idea of his true identity. In 2010 I found out that he was a British undercover police officer working in Ireland as a member National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I have almost given up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I felt I had been raped, I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.

On the 3rd February 2017 I received a written full apology from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).3 Assistant Commissioner Fiona Taylor wrote me to acknowledged the pain and stress I have endured as the result of the deceitful relationship. The MPS Assistant Commissioner stated, “The relationship between you and Mark Kennedy was abusive, deceitful, manipulative and wrong.” ”The relationship should never have happened.” “I recognise that what happened in your case was an abuse of police power that resulted in a violation of your human rights, a breach of your privacy and trust, and the source of significant trauma to you.”

I note the Parliamentary Answer that TD Clare Daly received from the Tánaiste, 8th February2017, stating “should anything emerge from the findings of the UK’s Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) that would be relevant to policing in this jurisdiction I will consider it fully and take any action that may be required.”

However at this point the UCPI excludes Ireland completely, so this Parliamentary Answer is illogical and does not satisfy my concerns in the least. We don’t need to wait for the findings of the UK undercover policing inquiry to know that there are significant grounds for taking action on this matter. I am a US citizen, I was on holiday in Ireland when our relationship began, and despite the British MPS apology I have received, I have many unanswered questions regarding Ireland. I want to know if Irish authorities knew what Mark Kennedy wasdoing, and I want details about his operations in Ireland.

– Did you allow him to develop intimate relationships with women in your jurisdiction?

– Was he operating with the full permission of the Irish authorities?

– Do you have police files on me?

– To what extent has my right to privacy been invaded by the Irish authorities?

It is my belief that Police and government are supposed to be here to serve the people and they need to be held responsible when they themselves have even admitted to being negligent and violating human rights. I believe that by not taking action on this matter you are perpetuating the trauma I have experienced and that my human rights are continuing to be violated.

Further I find it shocking that via my solicitor Darragh Mackin of KRW Law I have informed the Minister of Justice about such issues via legal letters dated 17 May 2016 and again on 20 December 2016,4 yet to date I have received no reply although both letters were even reported in the media.

On 8 February the Taoiseach stated in Parliament that he would have his Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD, raise the issue with British officials within the coming week. I firmly request that you take action to insist to British officials that the UCPI be extended to include the activities of undercover activities in the Republic of Ireland.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Hampton

Core Participant in the UK Undercover Policing Inquiry

The demands are clear from Sarah and others seeking truth and answers. The first one is very simple.

The Irish government needs to officially ask that the UK government extend Pitchford to include the role of British undercover units working in Ireland. It quite simple. If you don’t ask you don’t get.

The government of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Germany have all asked for this extension. This government needs to own up and say why it refuses to do so so far. There is not question that British undercover units were working here. That is already established. Sarah Hampton other questions need answering to. And to those we should add the opening up of files of people living in Ireland – citizen and non citizen, adults and children, – arising from coming into contact with British undercover police operating here and providing information to An Garda Siochana.

Because this isn’t going away.

#Spycops Press Conference in Dublin.

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British spy Mark Kennedy at the spire on O Connell Street, Dublin with Kim Bryan and Sarah Hampton in 2005.

#Spycops: Irish Press Conference in full. Please support independent journalism by using the share buttons at the bottom.

Earlier today three people targetted by members of the UK National Public Order Intelligence Units (NPOIU) in Ireland held a press conference. They want to build pressure on the Irish government to open up about the role of British spies in Ireland.

The three, Kate Wilson, Kim Bryan and Jason Kirkpatrick travelled from Spain,

Wales and Germany. Kate is one of a number of women who brought cases against the Metropolitan police in London because of being decieved into long term relationships with men who turned out to be undercover officers.

Kim Bryan was involved in organising educational workshops and mobilisations around the G8 meeting in Scotland in 2005, and spoke about how an undercover officer with the NPOIU convince her and other to travel to Ireland. The undercover cop paid for the visit and provided the transport.

Jason Kirkpatrick was also targetted by the same undercover cop in Ireland, Northern Ireland and in Germany.

The demand of those present was that the UK Pitchford Inquiry into the working of British undercover political policing units be expanded to Ireland since they operated here, with the first step of this that Minister for Justice and Equality follow the lead of other Justice Minister in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Germany in making representation to the UK Home Office to that effect. At the core of this lies not simply the abuse of human rights of political activists being deceived into intimate personal relationship – which perhaps understandably much media focuses in on. The continued stonewalling of the Irish government in providing answers to those abused and affected – even after admitting that it knows full well about the actions of British political spies working in Ireland, further compound British police violations with Irish police complicity.

The full audio of the press conference is below and I’d encourage people to listen to it all as the quotes that follow are transcribe snippets.

Opening the press conference Kate said

I found out in 2010 that my partner was an undercover officer and since then information has just kept coming out about the practices of undercover policing in the UK. We now know that since 1968 they have been running top secret political policing units, starting with the Metropolitan police in London but also other forces around the country. Activists have been finding information about those officers. The state hasnt actually yet given us any information that has not be already found out by reseachers and whistleblowers getting that information to the public.

We already know that a large number of undercover officers were involved in the kind of long term intimate relationship that I had. Some of them even fathered children. We know that they were spying on the families of the victims of police violence. People who had been killed by the police or whose murders had not be properly investigated.

And we know that they were working with the Crown Prosecution Service and were responsible for a number of miscarriages of justice. Mark Kennedy alone, who was the man that I was involved with, is responsible for over 56 unsafe convictions. These were convictions that were overturned because of the role of undercover police in those cases. People were wrongfully convicted.

We are all here because our privacy and political rights were violated by these British police officers here in Ireland. We think its really important that people know these things happened in Ireland and affected Irish citizens as well.

There is currently no information and no investigation in Ireland. So we are here to talk about some of the things that happen here in Ireland. Yesterday the Metropolitan police issued a public apology to Sarah Hampton who is a woman who was decieved into a relationship with Mark Kennedy that started here in Ireland.

A statement from a Sarah Hampton, currently in the US, was then read out by Kim Bryan.

That statement in full is:

Love is one of the most sacred things we have in our society and I fell in love with Mark Stone. He was supportive, attentive and generous, he behaved like he was in love with me. It tortures me knowing he was paid to be with me and because it was such a loving relationship, it was devastating to find out it was all a lie. I have wondered so many times if his superiors have kids; what would they think if their daughters were preyed upon like this?

I have so much anger inside about this crime against me and it is only exacerbated by the fact that a government institution that is there to protect me is responsible. How do you trust men after this? How do you trust a government? Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I almost gave up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I didn’t know how was I going to stand up to the Metropolitan Police Force. I felt I had been raped. I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.

I kept on fighting the case, using my life as an example of what should never happen to anyone. No one should ever be under any circumstance coerced, invaded, violated and deceived by an undercover police officer through sexual relationships. Despite the apology I have many unanswered questions. I have not received the files the police have on me. I want to know to what extent my private life has been invaded by the UK police and what justification is there for it?

Who gave permission for a British undercover officer to form and have a relationship with a US national in Ireland, in the UK, in Scotland and in Spain? The police have now apologised to me, saying that the relationship between Mark Kennedy and I was wrong, deceitful, manipulative and abusive, that it should never have happened. That it was an abuse of police power and a violation of my human rights It is our responsibility now to make sure that this never happens again. We are continuing to fight for the truth to be revealed in the undercover policing inquiry, but it is currently only looking at events in England and Wales.

My experience shows that the inquiry must be extended to include in Scotland, Nortern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and other countries where we know Mark Kennedy and many other undercover police officers were active. The Police and government are supposed to be here to serve the people and they need to be held responsible when negligent and violating human rights.”

Kim then spoke about her own interactions with Kennedy.

I came to Dublin because Mark Kennedy paid for me to come to Dublin. I came to Dublin because he organised the workshops that I gave. I probably wouldn’t have come if he hadnt organised that travel.

I dont know what was going on but I think it raises a very serious question because Mark Kennedy was essentially coercing, manipulating and manufacturing situation which meant Irish citizen then took part in things that were being manufacture by a British spy who was operating on Irish soil.

So we have very many question about what Mark Kennedy was doing here in Ireland, what his motivations were. And I think unless we get this inquiry opened up and extended to Ireland then we won’t get answers to them. And certainly from the perspective of Irish activists I know were involved in this there is some very real problem about the control of political dissent

Mark Kennedy alone worked in 11 different countries. He was involved in stitching people up across Europe, with over 56 cases of people found guilty being overturned in the UK.

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Mark Kennedy in Ireland 2005 with Sarah Hampton and Kim Bryan.

The German Justice Minister has asked that the Pitchford Inquiry be extended to include the actions of British undercover police in Germany. As have the Justice Minister in Northern Ireland and the respective counterpart in Scotland.

The Minister of Justice in Ireland is therefore somewhat alone in adopting a position that says the state simply refuses to be open and take responsibility for abuses by British police in Ireland.

It is not disputed by Fitzgerald that Mark Kennedy and other British undercover officer have work in Ireland. Mark Kennedy himself was arrested by An Garda Siochana on the 3rd of Mary 2004 in Dublin. No doubt Kennedy flipped given that his arrest had the likelihood of blowing the cover of an British spy in a top secret political policing unit.

This clearly was a very significant arrest. It not only could have compromised the work of the NPOIU overseas, but caused minor political crisis given the historical context of police collusion in the north, as well as police dirty tricks targetting Irish political activists documented by the Dublin Grassroots Network at the time. See http://flag.blackened.net/revolt//eufortress/dirty.html

Kennedy himself has stated that he know his reports and intelligence gathering landed on the desk of Tony Blair.

As such the demands today are quite limited. That there be an open investigation to exploring the Irish state and Irish police force role in what we already know took place.

Jason Kirkpatrick outline some of these demands.

Im also a core participant in this Pitchford Inquiry, I’m also one of the people who has started a legal action here in Ireland against Minister Fitzgerald. I first met Mark Kennedy in Dublin in 2005. Since he was outed as an undercover officer in 2010 I’ve spent 7 years just trying to get justice on this. I would like to have access to my police files and I’ve never gotten them. The Minister has said that because of public pressure – that we’ve created – that she has asked the guards to do an internal police report of Mark Kennedy’s operations here.

Is that report gonna be public? Well no, the minister has said its an issue for her, if something come up its up to her to sort it. Well we want answers, and we demand that that report is made public. We have been informing the minister for months now that this British officer created serious human rights violations that the police admit. Kennedy was here five or six times in the Repulic of Ireland. Were there wrongful or miscarriages of justice here in Ireland. That has to be investigated. That has to be made public. And so far Minister Fitzgerald has not even shown that she understands these issues.

We have shared via our solicitor the experiences of Sarah Hampton here in Ireland, as the UK police have admitted and apologised for this. Yet in latest answers in the Dail to questions Fitzgerald says “the need for an inquiry does not arise”

Darragh Mackin a solicitor with KRL Law, the solicitors taking the case against Fitzgerald said

Its somewhat shocking that people need to travel from across Europe to make a plea to the media to try and encourage support for what has to be an effectove and thorough investigation. That flies in the face of what is, under the European Convention of Human Rights, Ireland as we all know has an obligation to ensure that people within the jurisdiction at that time. Its indisputable that there is an empelling case for an investigation in the cases of Kate, Kim, Sarah and Jason.

Its clear that a British undercover agent came to Ireland. That is not disputed. Its clear that he engaged with sexual relations with a number of individuals in what was clearly an abuse of his power. That goes right to the heart of what is enshired in the constitution and what is enshired in the European Convention of human right in privacy. Its is hard to imagine a greater violation of the right to privacy.”

He then outlined the how most other states have taken it upon themselves to seek to have Pitchford extend to cover the role of undercover spies to where they work. Ireland is sigular and uniuque in its objection. The demand Fitzgerald and then Department of Justice is that it makes representation to the UK Home Office that Pitchford be extended to Ireland.

Do you think that the situation would be that if in undercover officer of An Garda Siochana undercover officers were operating in London and were having relationships citizens, do you think for one second that the Home Department wouldn’t request an investigation.

Lynn Boylan MEP has raised questions in the European parliament about the role of British spies working across Europe noted

Just another point to pick up on when you say that Frances Fistzgerlad doesnt deny that these inidividual were active here. In 2011 the gardai were asked to compile a report by Dermot Ahern who was the Justice Minister at the time. Brendan Smyth took over before that report was completed and it was largely expected that the gardia knew of the presence of these individuals.

Since them we have put in FOIs to get the report. Fitzgerald has refused, but what she has done is paraphrased it and she has admitted that the gardia were aware of these individuals presence in Ireland and there excuse was that these relationships between other police force jusisdicttions happen on a regular basis while the police come over to follow “dangerous individuals” that the gardai might not be aware of.

Now that doesnt tally with what we are hearing in that Mark Kennedy is responsible for suggesting this trip [to Ireland in 2005 in the lead up to the G8 in Scotland], he provided the transport for this trip, he provided the funding for this trip. He came here and brought the people he was allegedly supposed to be tracking to this island and Frances Fitzgerald doesnt find that unusual or warrant a further investigation. So its an important point that the gardai have to answer.

And as Darragh has pointed out the Gardai are the only police force who seem to have been aware of these individuals. The PSNI have flatly denied of knowing of there existence in the north, the German police force the same and the Scottish police force. And the PSNI have wrote to the British Metropolitan police saying that they need to have a conversation with the gardia. And again Frances Fitzgerald doesnt find that interesting or warrant a further investigation. So there are a lot of questions for Frances Fitzgerald on this.

Shell to Sea was represented by Maura Harrington at the press conference and anti war group ShannonWatch also expressed full support for an public open equiry.

Full audio here.

#Spycops: Metropolitan Police Apologise To US Citizen Targeted By British Undercover In Ireland

Sarah Hampton is a US citizen who met Mark Kennedy whilst on holiday in Ireland in 2005.

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She subsequently went onto have a one year relationship with the officer without any idea of his true identity. Mark Kennedy was a British undercover police officer working in Ireland as a member National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

On the 3rd February 2017 the Metropolitan Police issued a full apology to Miss Hampton acknowledging the pain and stress she has endured as the result of the deceitful relationship.

Miss Hampton is unable to attend the press conference being held today at 11am at Buswells in Dublin, but has issued this statement:

Love is one of the most sacred things we have in our society and I fell in love with Mark Stone. He was supportive, attentive and generous, he behaved like he was in love with me. It tortures me knowing he was paid to be with me and because it was such a loving relationship, it was so devastating to find out it was all a lie.

I have wondered so many times if his superiors have kids; what would they think if their daughters were preyed upon like this? I have so much anger inside about this crime against me and it is only exacerbated by the fact that a government institution that is there to protect me is responsible. How do you trust men after this? How do you trust government?

Finding out that Mark was an undercover police officer brought about a deep depression that seemed impossible to navigate, there were times I almost gave up completely. The process of seeking justice on this case has felt at times belittling, intimidating and downright scary. I didn’t know how was I going to stand up to the Metropolitan Police Force. I felt I had been raped, I never consented to sleeping with a police officer.

I kept on fighting the case, using my life as an example of what should never happen to anyone.

No one should ever be under any circumstance coerced, invaded, violated and deceived by an undercover police officer through sexual relationships. Despite the apology I have many unanswered questions. I have not received the files the police have on me. I want to know to what extent my private life has been invaded by the UK police force and what justification is there for it?

Who gave permission for a British undercover officer to form and have

a relationship with a US national in Ireland, in the UK, in Scotland and in Spain?

The police have now apologised to me, saying that the relationship between Mark Kennedy and I was wrong, deceitful, manipulative and abusive, that it should never have happened. That it was an abuse of police power and a violation of my human rights

It is our responsibility now to make sure that this never happens again. We are continuing to fight for the truth to be revealed in the undercover policing inquiry, but it is currently only looking at events in England and Wales. My experience shows that the inquiry must be extended to include in Scotland, Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and other countries where we know Mark Kennedy and many other undercover police officers were active.

The Police and government are supposed to be here to serve the people and they need to be held responsible when negligent and violating human rights.”

Keep up to date with the campaign against police surveillance  http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/

RTE, Land ‘exploitation’ and Social Housing.

It’s hard not to fall into the trap of merely repeating the machinations of RTE yesterday as they created a news story out criticisms of Unite trade union.  Unite complied with building regulations brought in by Labour vis a vis when social housing needs to be considered in redevelopments.

First off, no institution is above criticism and people have every right to ask questions about the choices unions and other organisations make about their assets.  That said, in social media post by Dave Gibney,  its clear that what was happening  was a push back within RTE against a broader movement of HomeSweetHome. I make little distinction between the story RTE ran and the front cover of the Sunday Mail story again seeking to smear the Home Sweet Home movement.

The Home Sweet Home movement that not only dominated media landscape in Ireland for almost 4 weeks, but did so on its own terms. What was striking was just how successfully Home Sweet Home shaped the narrative in its own terms.  And is wasn’t simply a narrative, this was a movement that spoke about law breaking through the lens of care. Of militant transgressions justified outside and beyond neoliberal logic.  And it met with widespread public support and massive levels of direct involvement.

 

 

Richard McAleavey yesterday wrote about how

“The thick strain of right-wing anti-establishment sentiment in Irish political life, tapped into by RTÉ’s reporting here, does not evaluate it at all. It merely barks ‘hypocrisy!’. According to these quarters, the ‘vested interests’, in which the trade unions are always made to figure heavily, have things all sown up, at the expense of the little man. The purpose of such sentiment is to sow disenchantment with trade unions and, consequently, with the defence of workers’ rights, including social rights such as the right to a home.”

You can and should read the full piece here.

So how do I write anything about RTE own involvement in land exploitation and its lack of material contribution to solving a housing crisis that moves beyond RTE’s own cries of hypocrisy.  Perhaps pointing  it out is enough  for now on my lunch break but id like to come back to this again.

 

The Irish government was informed last October 2016 that Dublin City Council passed a motion calling for RTE’s amassed land assets to be used for social housing.

The letter send to Minister Denis Naughton can be seen below. #

Dublin City Council RTE social housing

The Minister replied, essentially washing his hands of any state intervention saying RTE is a fully autonomous organisation.   His reply below here.

 

RTE social housing

In the letter Naughton states

RTE is an independent statutory corporation whose remit and obligations are set out in Section 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009. Section 98 of the Act provides that the company shall be independent in the pursuance of these objects, subject to the requirements of the Act, and as such I, as Minister, have no function in the management of RTE’s day to day affairs, including matters relating to the management of land assets.

But he also states that RTE is looking to sell and exploit land up to 10 acres in ‘2016/17’  Ive yet to see any report about RTE selling land and how much of this is to be used for social housing.  I doubt we’ll be seeing one any time soon.