PRESS RELEASE: ANTI- RACIST DAY OF ACTION COALITION

The following is a press release for the anti-racist mobilisation against racist organising in Ireland. Plse use the share buttons below.

The event page is here.

anti racism

On Saturday 6 February a small group of individuals will attempt to launch a dangerous and reactionary movement in Ireland. We are calling upon members of the public to gather outside the GPO from 13.30 in response to this development. We are asking people to join us in sending a peaceful, broad-based and unified message against fascism, organised racism, and the rise of anti-migrant sentiment. Our mobilisation on Saturdayis to voice our opposition to the launch of Pegida Ireland. This far-right anti-Islam group is part of a broader European campaign of hatred against migrants and ethnic and religious minorities.  In response, a European Day of Action has been called, consisting of a range of counter-demonstrations taking place across Europe against these racists and fascists.

 

Pegida is a pan-European far-right group. Originally established in Germany it soon developed into a network, appealing to all those who want to stop an alleged ‘Islamification’ of Europe.  The Pegida network leadership uses populist language, and combines an elitist and exclusive call for the protection of ‘our’ values, civilization and culture, with an appeal to the insecurities of working people whose jobs and public services are under attack not by migrants, but by governments. A notion of Europe under threat by migrants is thus presented, which often manifests itself in a racist, Islamophobic and at times outright fascist agenda.

 

In response to the arrival of this movement to Ireland, a broad coalition of organisations, networks and individuals have come together around the principles of anti-racism, social justice and equality. We represent a diverse range of ideologies and structures, but are united in our opposition to the disturbing rise of far-right extremism in European societies.  On this European Day of Action we wish to send a strong message that Ireland, and Europe, belong to all of the people who call them home.  

 

Mariya Ivancheva, a researcher at UCD, member of Attac Ireland, and organiser with this coalition, observed that “until recently, Ireland was one of the only countries in the continent where right-extreme organising and anti-migrant sentiments could not find fertile ground. This was no surprise, given the history of colonialism and forced migration which has made Irish people victims of exploitation and racism.”

 

Ms Ivancheva continued: “as a migrant who has received great welcome, I am appalled to see the rise of the xenophobic, racist, anti-migrant network of Pegida here. I am alerted that its violent language is now trying to find currency not only among Irish white supremacists and far-right sympathisers, but also among working people affected by the crisis. I hope the Irish have learned from history and will not allow this to happen.”

 

Ronit Lentin, a member of Anti-Racism Network Ireland, stated that “some will attempt to mask their xenophobia in ‘reasonable concerns’ about the compatibility between European values and Islam. However the idea that Islam itself should be opposed because it is an inherently alien culture that is incompatible with our own is – by definition – a xenophobic proposition.  Furthermore, given that Muslims are a minority in Europe that are more often than not victims of racism, the ‘Islamification’ that Pegida campaigns against is a figment of their own racist imagination. The real ‘threat’ to our values and society comes not from migrants and Muslims, but from far-right extremists and fascists.”

 

We are calling on those who cannot make the event, but wish to stand in solidarity with us against racism and all forms of extremism, to use social media messages in support with the hashtag: #NoPegida. We are fully intent on holding a family-friendly peaceful protest. Yet, we should all be watchful and vigilant regarding our own security and safety. Some of the people marching in support of Pegida come from organised racist and neo-Nazi networks, which do not shy away from violence against people who look or think differently than they do.

Supporting organisations (in alphabetical order):[1]

Anti Austerity Alliance

Akidwa Ireland

Africa Centre Dublin Ireland

Anti Racism Network Ireland

Attac Ireland

Autistic Rights Together

Conference of Religious in Ireland

Dialogue & Diversity

Dublin Calais Refugee Solidarity

Dublin City Centre Citizens Information Service

Doras Luimni

EDeNn

ENAR Ireland

Fight For Humanity

Gluaiseacht for Global Justice

Irish Anti-War Movement

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC)

Irish Refugee Council

Irish Missionary Union

Irish Traveller Movement

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland,

National Traveller Womens Forum

Show Racism the Red Card – Ireland

SARI – Sport Against Racism Ireland

SIPTU

Sinn Féin Ireland

The Platform

Pavee Point

People Before Profit

United Against Racism

 

[1] This is an expanding list, as we are continually receiving messages from groups wishing to express their support and solidarity with this cause

Debunking the “Islam is Not a Race!” Argument

For the weeks that’s in it, as white supremacists try to mobilise in Dublin at the GPO

Muslim Reverie

Islamophobes think they have it all figured out.  After they read the works of anti-Muslim pseudo-intellectuals and propagandists, they become self-proclaimed “experts” on Islam.  The message they absorb from their favorite Islamophobe stars can be easily summarized as: “Islam is evil and must be wiped off the face of the Earth.  Furthermore, every single Muslim on the planet is plotting to take over the West (read: world) and any Muslim who claims otherwise is lying. Yes, this includes your Muslim friends, who you shouldn’t be friends with anyway.”

I’ve seen some Islamophobes embrace the term “Islamophobia” because they proudly admit being fearful of Islam. “Yes,” they say, “We are afraid of Islam, which is why we want it destroyed.”  Dang.  Geert Wilders has never been shy in stating he wishes for the Qur’an to be banned (Nazi-style) and for Muslims to be massively expelled from the West (Spanish Inquisition-style). Clearly…

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The Irish Housing Network: A Radical Common Sense (Part 1)

Part one of a series of pieces documenting and reflecting on the rise of the Irish Housing Network.

Radical Whispers

Part 1: Radical Beginnings – Forming the Irish Housing Network

This is the first of a four part series on the Irish housing crisis and fight back against it; focusing on the rise of the Irish Housing Network. This first part introduces the housing crisis and traditions of resistance, before then exploring why and how the Irish Housing Network came into being.

In December 2014, a stone’s throw away from Dail Eireann, a homeless man died. Though many more had died on the streets before him, there was immediate outrage and a public outpouring of emotion. There were speeches, calls for policy changes, photo shoots. And then… nothing.
By the end of 2015, the number of homeless families has more than doubled. 1,571 children were homeless; 130,000 people were on social housing waiting lists; more children were living in poverty, rents continued to rise and more evictions were being…

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Enda Kenny finally meets sister of murdered schoolgirl

Political interference, Garda collusion and state acquiescence protect child murderer in Donegal 

Mary Boyle was 6 when she was murdered to stop her "revealing a terrible secret"

Mary Boyle was 6 when she was murdered to stop her “revealing a terrible secret”

 

“I believe Mary’s killer had political protection and that the Gardai have shielded him for almost 40 years. I am determined that Mary’s remains will be found and that she will be given the decent burial she deserves.

“The Taoiseach must act now and ensure everything is done to find her and bring her killer to justice. Commissioner O’Sullivan is well aware of this case and I am urging her to act on all the evidence that has been available to her force for almost four decades.”

Ann Doherty, the twin sister of murdered schoolgirl Mary Boyle, will meet Enda Kenny in Dail Eireann tomorrow.  The meeting takes place four years after Ann initially spoke to Kenny on 2011, shortly after he became Taoiseach.

Reading the statement released today Ann Doherty, its seems clear that a cover up has enabled the murderer to freely live in Donegal for the past 40 years.

She outlines her belief that her identical twin sister, Mary, was murdered because she was about to “reveal a terrible secret.”  Mary was just six years old.

Ann states categorically that ‘political interference’  has protected the person who killed her sister and that that person remains  a continuing ‘risk to children.’

An Garda Siochana have been repeatedly contacted  with information including names of the suspect over the years, yet little to no action has been taken.  Individual Garda have contacted the family to outline the specific details of political interference.  It seems implausible that the leaderships of all political parties of the state are unaware of the circumstances of the case.

The implications are quite stark, and shine yet further light on the dark workings of informal and formal power that have played a significant part in shaping the state today.

A child murderer is being protected by An Garda Siochana and past political interference. This continues due to political inaction today.  Enda Kenny and successive Garda Commissioners have long known of the details of the case.  All have refused to take any substantive action to date.

It’s likely that Enda Kenny will try  this clear case of injustice until after the election.  However the electoral impact to FG is hard to quantify if they will be seen to be continuing this cover up.  Recent comments in the Dail by Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald video below have continued to mislead the Dail and the public.

But this shouldnt ever have been about the impacts on political organisation and personalities.  It is precisely the deference to these social groupings that have left Ann Doyle and her extended family knocking of the door of the Taoiseacht tomorrow.
Its hard to fathom the reality that you must live in when your sister is murdered as a child.  Its defies belief that for 40 years a grieving family, in the face of such immutable pain, is met with derision and barriers from the police force and the political establishment of the state.  Where can your loss go when boxed in by such callous public forces?
The reality is that political grubbiness and police collusion have meant that Ann and her family are still fighting  for justice.  And for her and the families campaign  for truth to succeed will need all the public support it can get.

Full press release below.  Please read it and share.  Follow (and use) the #JusticeForMary hastag  for updates and to show your support and solidarity

 

———-

Ann Doherty, the twin sister of murdered schoolgirl Mary Boyle, will meet An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dail Eireanntomorrow.

The visit is part of her ongoing campaign to find her six-year-old sister’s remains and bring the killer to justice.

The little girl from Kincasslagh, Donegal, is Ireland’s youngest missing person.

She vanished on her grandparent’s farm in Cashelard near Ballyshannon on March 18, 1977.

Ms Doherty, her identical twin, believes Mary was murdered by somebody known to her because she was going to reveal a terrible secret. This individual has never been arrested.

Ms Doherty also alleges there was political interference in the investigation which has prevented the killer from being brought to justice.

A number of Gardai who worked on the investigation have confirmed that a phone call was made to Ballyshannon Station in the days after Mary’s disappearance requesting that some individuals not be considered suspects.

Ms Doherty will inform the Taoiseach of her belief that the Gardai have protected Mary’s killer for almost 40 years and that during that time he was, and remains, a danger to other children.

Ms Doherty will be accompanied to the meeting by singer Margaret (Margo) O’Donnell, a cousin and long-time family friend who has supported her in her fight for justice. Her solicitor Darragh Mackin will also attend.

Both Ann and Margo made formal statements to Gardai almost two months ago saying they were told the identity of the killer on several occasions by someone who knew Mary.

The women also say they have expressed their concerns to Gardai many times through the years but no action was taken.

As part of Ann’s campaign to find her sister, she has travelled to Stormont, the European Parliament in Brussels, and Westminster Palace in recent months and has received backing from many politicians both in Ireland and abroad who support her in her fight for justice.

In the coming weeks, the case will be raised in the House of Commons and the House of Lords in London.

During tomorrow‘s meeting, Margo O’Donnell will remind Enda Kenny that she contacted him about the case when he became Taoiseach in 2011 and pleaded for his help in finding the missing schoolgirl.

“I asked for his help four years ago and told him about my concerns but didn’t get anywhere,” says Margo.

“I never heard from him again. This time I hope he will listen. Mary’s killer has been roaming around Donegal for almost forty years, a danger to all citizens, especially children. He must be brought to justice now along with all of those who have protected him all of these years.”

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Ann Doherty said she will be urging the Taoiseach to ask Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan why the chief suspect has not been brought to justice.

“I believe Mary’s killer had political protection and that the Gardai have shielded him for almost 40 years. I am determined that Mary’s remains will be found and that she will be given the decent burial she deserves.

“The Taoiseach must act now and ensure everything is done to find her and bring her killer to justice. Commissioner O’Sullivan is well aware of this case and I am urging her to act on all the evidence that has been available to her force for almost four decades.”

Ann is considering a legal action against Ireland, under the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees the right to a prompt, independent and effective investigation after a suspicious death.

She is also seeking an inquest into her sister’s death.

 

ENDS

GSOC investigates Garda for batoning at #Gorey NAMA Protest

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UPDATE: 3.30pm 12th Nov.

Footage has been spreading across social media in Ireland which show  a member of the Gardai wildly lashing out with a metal baton hitting an unarmed man and appear to show it striking him to the side of the head.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has opened an investigation into the events seen in video. In a press release this afternoon it says

“The Commission is of the opinion that the public interest is best served by an independent investigation of this matter. This decision is taken in accordance with section 102(4) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

GSOC is appealing for anyone who may have been present and witnessed the alleged incident, or anyone with information which may assist the investigation to contact them on 1890 600 800.”

The protest was a collective organising effort from Wexford Housing Action Group (a member of the Irish Housing Network) and a range of community members and activists from Wexford, Wicklow and Dublin who successfully stopped an auction of NAMA properties.

wx 152

The full video can be seen on FB (linked below) and was captured by journalist John Rooney.

vlcsnap-2015-11-13-00h16m52s400

vlcsnap-2015-11-13-00h17m06s970

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From the video what is clear that the Gardai attempted to arrest one man, after the man appears to refuse to give him his name.   A lot of shouting breaks out as the the man is wrestled to the ground in the middle of a crowd.

Separately a older man is knocked to the ground and it can be seen that  a walking stick is trying to be pulled off him by a police officer.  People surrounding the man are making it clear that the man has Parkinsons which is why he has a walking stick.

The footage pans back to the police officer who attempted an initial arrest. Earlier in the video his shoulder badge number is recognisable as WX 152. He can be seen to walk forward, and then simultaneously pivot whilst remove his extendable metal baton.

He reaches back with his right arm and swings full force to strike a man.  As the police swings to strike the man, the man has his arms down by his side and is struck full force with the metal bar to the head and arm. The man falls to the ground.

The man was treated at the scene after an ambulance was called. It is understood his injuries were not ‘serious.’

Gardai themselves have spoken out about inadequate training for using batons opens them up to legal action being taken against them. There seems to be grounds for such action – in the face of widepsread public reaction – to be taken in this instance.

Garda were initially issued with 21 inch ASD extendable batons in Nov 2001, in a move seen by many as controversial at the time. In 2013 GSOC criticised An Garda Siochana for its use and subsequent attempts to cover up manic batoning of students at a demonstration outside the Dept of Finance.

For an archive of actions across Ireland about the housing crisis see here 

WARNING: Its very violent

Garda-violence-Gorey-Wexford

Full video link is here

Interview with Brother Kevin Crowley

The myth of social recovery in Ireland.

Kids need a home

Brother Kevin Crowley helps at the Capuchin Day Center for Homeless People, and says he is shocked with how dramatically the need for the center has risen in recent years.
Since the collapse of the Banks in 2008, the numbers attending the center have more than doubled. However, the most saddening aspect of this sharp rise in demand is the increase in the number of children attending the day center, with some less than a year old. When asked how much families attend the center daily, Brother Kevin said there could be anything up to sixty families a day coming for help.
Summertime, when kids are off school, they come in very early in the day. It is not right that a child should spend their summer holidays in a center for homeless families. There is often a worry for the people coming into the center, who feel they…

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Notes on Labour, Mairia Cahill and Catherine Mc Cartney’s statement.

Earlier this afternoon Catherine Mc Cartney released a statement regarding the Labour Party’s plans to hand Mairia Cahill a seat in the Irish Senate. Ive posted both press release and fuller statement at the bottom.  Catherine’s brother Robert McCartney was murdered by members of the IRA in 2005 in Belfast and she has campaigned since for justice for her own family, as well as other victims of paramilitary and state violence.

catherine mc carthey, Mairia Cahill, Labour, Senate

In the statement posted below Catherine Mc Cartney makes it clear she sees the appointment of Mairia Cahill is an abuse of the Oireachtas by the Labour Party. “Without explanation, the appointment appears to be made solely for political purposes.” Cahills appointment by Labour to the Seanad is seen as bizarre choice to make.

Catherine Mc Cartney herself has been deeply critical of Sinn Fein following her brothers murder, its attempted cover up and related intimidation by republicans. When Sinn Fein signed up to the new policing board – and in effect supported the families demand for those who murdered Robert Mc Carthy to be held to account through the courts – some local republicans left the party and joined the ‘dissident republican’ milieu. The statement references that Mairia Cahill left Sinn Fein at this point over its change in policing and joined the Republican Unity Network (RNU), acting as National Secretary. Cahill rejects that she left Sinn Fein over their stance in policing.  And also says she was National Secretary for RNU for “a couple of hours”.   Which to most people familiar with political organising seems a pretty strange set up.

What’s even stranger to many people is how and why the Labour Party decided to appoint Cahill to run in the Seanad by election.  Its an election that only TD’s and Senators can vote it, and will need the support of Labour bosses in government Fine Gael.  Labour explanation so far has been all motherhood and apple pie (pro Good Friday Agreement, committed to peace and democracy and the rule of law) with zero specifics.

There is no doubt that Mairia Cahill has clear demands for justice.  It in no way minimises or trivialised the specifics of that to say she is one of thousands of people and hundreds of families seeking the same.  History suggests that a seat in the Irish Senate will do little to transform the work of those on the ground campaigning. But what does that actually look like?

Current negotiations in the north are struggling to find a genuine truth discovery framework. Families of victims want a format with the necessary financial and social resources. One aimed at uncovering truths regardless of how unpalatable they are. It would include the failings of paramilitary policing and the cover ups of abuse.

What’s much more contentious is an honest examination of the role of ‘legitimate authority’, ie nations states. This demands total transparency around the role of the British state in arming and running paramilitary organisations who murdered hundreds of people, including neighbours in my village. It requires talking about how the British intelligence community used knowledge of sexual violence, abuse of children or simply personal experiences to blackmail people into becoming informers. It also means taking on board that collusion happened in the south as well.

These things might be described as ‘explosive’ within news headlines, perhaps understandably. But on another level it speaks to a mundane reality that ‘legitimate authority’ is often based upon the most illegitimate and unjustified actions of state power. Understanding this asks us to  unlearn assumed facts of terrorist monsters and decent governments. Its demands challenging the deep and widespread public ignorance on this side of the border.  We don’t stop reproducing fucked up situations without we make a conscious effort to understand how not to. Or more specifically,  We dont get to to stop those with the will to happily reproduce inequality and injustice without public conversation how it actually happens, not how we are told it happens.

It was only since moving to Dublin 15 years ago that I realised the ritual regularity with which the three main parties of the Dail use the pain and suffering of people north of the border to score points. Whereas in a sensitive, emotional mature democracy, one would hope that the realities and mechanics of a war could create learning and empowered knowledge that is ultimately beneficial to us all.

Instead, what is possible is negated by what is politically expedient. Where truths could be explored and shared humanely and intelligently, rather other peoples experiences and pain are fodder in the pantomime of party political power.

This selective dissonance played out again last week with the visit of Bolivian president Evo Morales.

Michael Dywer was a Irish security guard-turned-mercenary, murdered in Bolivia in 2009. His family demand and obviously deserve a full account around the circumstances of his death. Minister of Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan ‘supported’ family calls for an international investigation. Yet the Irish state isn’t really interested.

Any rigorous international investigation into Michael Dwyer’s death has to look at the series of events that led to him being shot to death in a hotel room in Santa Cruz. It is inevitable it would explore how and why right wing paramilitaries from Eastern Europe linked up with former Irish Rangers security companies. It has to look at how armed mercenaries were recruiting young Irish security guards involved in pushing through a Shell gas pipeline a remote west Mayo.

Such facts is already in the public domain, due in large part to the research work by people involved in resisting Shells pipeline. Is it ironic that those who felt the physical effects of policing in Rossport would be more curious about how Michael Dywer died than the Irish state or the private security firm he worked for? Or is it reflective of something else?

To date no Irish government has taken any steps to investigate what is already know and what remains unknown around the Irish aspects leading to Michael Dwyer’s murder. Enda Kenny might make shit up about armies and ATMs but you can rest assured he has no interest in actually uncovering the unpalatable truths of the murder of a young Tipperary man. Not when its leads back to his own doorstep in Mayo.

And other Irish families of murder victims demand justice from a state that is unwilling to cooperate.

It is this context that Catherine Mc Cartney’s statement is worthy of wider public acknowledgement. The appointment of Mairia Cahill to run occurs in a specific context. This includes the maneuverings of electoralism in the Dail.  When we exclude the neoliberal cannibalism within the Labour party, Sinn Fein are Labours biggest existential threat.

Labour appointments isnt just cynical in that it’s a transparent move against Sinn Fein. It is deeply inauthentic in relation to survivors of abuse and those campaigning for  a meaning framework for justice and truth in the north. I can stake no possible claim of understanding the specifics of Mairia Cahills decision to run as a Labour Senator.  And its pretty understandable why she wants to land punches on Sinn Fein.

Though if feels and looks like Labours play here actually results in creating hierarchies of victims around the ‘troubles.’ This is precisely what is important about the perspective Catherine Mc Cartney bring in her statement.

She says

It is vital for victims’ families, fighting for truth and justice to be entitled to work with elected representatives who should operate from a position of integrity and independence

Cahills appointment to the Seanad.

leave(s) us isolated from those political parties who support this nomination”

In a statement to all sitting TD’s and Senators she expanded on this point.

I fail to understand how a family like our own can ask political parties to hold SF to account regarding matters of truth and justice, (issues which remain at the forefront of  peace process) whilst at the same time those parties ask no questions of Ms Cahill, and provide no answers to the public.

Its up to Labour to disprove the widely held belief that the appointment is really poorly thought out opportunism. Yet that itself wouldnt rescue it from a fairly simple truth. The main political parties in the south, and Labour in this instance hold up the grimness of war, and the very often brutal experiences of our fellow humans on this island, as tokens and faux currency for their own small minded games.

——–

Catherine Mc Cartney Press Release


I have stayed silent up to now about my disgust regarding the nomination of Mairia Cahill to the Seanad because of outstanding civil proceedings I am taking against her”.

Reservations I have surround her alleged senior position in RNU (the political wing of the terrorist organisation,Og na hEireann) which, it appears, was as recent as 2011. I have today written to Oireachtas members outlining my concerns.

It is vital for victims’ families, fighting for truth and justice to be entitled to work with elected representatives who should operate from a position of integrity and independence”.

I am asking the Labour Party and Ms Cahill to provide a credible explanation regarding emerging revelations of her involvement with RNU and to do so before the Seanad election.

Without an explanation, the appointment appears to be made solely for political purposes. This undermines the campaigning work of victims’ families, from all backgrounds who campaign for Justice for their loved ones.

I am calling on Joan Burton and the Labour Party to reflect on their decision to nominate Ms Cahill to the Seanad position”.

ENDS

 

 

Date: 09/11/2015

 

Dear Senators and Deputies,

I am writing to express my concern of, and my objection to Ms Cahill’s nomination to the Seanad. This is on the grounds of her involvement in the dissident group RNU, as highlighted by Mr Beades and others over the weekend.  Furthermore, the outright refusal of the Labour Party to provide a comprehensive explanation in relation to this matter only adds injury to families such as my own.

As you will be aware my brother, Robert, was murdered by the IRA and Sinn Fein members in 2005, and in the aftermath the IRA embarked on a cover up, which rendered any prospect of justice impossible.  A key and essential factor in our campaign was pressuring republicans to cooperate with the PSNI and due to this stance my family suffered greatly.

  • A picket held outside my brother’s house (causing my 4year old nephew to vomit

with anxiety)

  • Robert’s friend was badly beaten

  • We were issued with death threats

  • My sister and brother’s fiancé (and two children had to leave the area)

  • We were vilified and condemned

  • Our lives were completely transformed due to his murder and our campaign.

This did not deter us in our quest for justice however; a quest we continue to this day.  When SF did sign up to policing some of those involved in Robert’s murder moved to the dissident groups in protest.

If the revelations regarding Ms Cahill are accurate, then she also moved to the dissidents in opposition to SF’s shift on policing.  It has been cited in the press that Ms Cahill was the National Secretary of RNU from 2010-2011, a very senior position. This cannot be regarded as a minor issue or an irrelevance to the appointment to a political office.

I would also like it noted that Ms Cahill did not inform me of her involvement in RNU when I brought her into my home in 2011. On the contrary, she claimed not to be involved and to be in fear of them. It now appears that at this time she was National Secretary.

Ms Cahill’s nomination to the Seanad, in the absence of any full explanation for her involvement in a group which was actively discouraging people to engage with the police, is unacceptable and a gross undermining of victims of the IRA and dissident republicans.  I fail to understand how a family like our own can ask political parties to hold SF to account regarding matters of truth and justice, (issues which remain at the forefront of  peace process) whilst at the same time those parties ask no questions of Ms Cahill, and provide no answers to the public.

I have been silent on the issues surrounding Ms Cahill’s case. This is due to civil proceedings in process regarding a harassment case I have taken against Ms Cahill.

In 2011 I invited Ms Cahill into my home, because I believed her to be a woman facing a similar experience to our own (i.e. coming up against the Provos).  I supported her as a woman, a feminist and a justice campaigner.  I did not allow her previous involvement in SF to cloud my judgement of her experience or need.

I am now aware that I was not given the full facts and circumstances of Ms Cahill’s position and activities.  I have decided to write this letter because I believe the same now applies to the public, who deserve better from democratic politicians. Also, I believe that as a family seeking justice this appointment will leave us isolated from those political parties who support this nomination (without providing a full explanation acceptable to victims of the IRA and dissidents). The duplicity inherent in the lack of transparency and honesty relating to Ms Cahill’s role would make it difficult for me to engage on basis of integrity and independence.

I will leave it to your judgement regarding her suitability in the light of the revelations, but would ask that you demand a full and comprehensive explanation to be provided and published. This would be with a view to protecting the integrity of victims of republican violence, past and present.

I feel I must mention one more thing. In a message to me, Mairia Cahill claims to have recorded me without my knowledge and expressly infers that she will use this material to damage me in some way.  It is my view, and I’m sure the public would agree, that this behaviour is not befitting of a member of the Seanad and should also be addressed.

I would hope that you receive this on the basis upon which it is sent- a genuine and proven concern for matters relating to the rule of law, justice and truth.

Yours respectfully,

Catherine McCartney (sister of Robert McCartney)

5 Reasons Why Denis O’Brien Is Doing Us A Favour.

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UPDATE: This piece was written in response to earlier threats by O Brien to sue the Dail. Now he is threatening to sue the satirical website Waterford Whispers, for a satirical article. The article is no longer on their website, but you can find a link at the bottom of this post.

Image by Eamonn Crudden

Image by Eamonn Crudden

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how Denis O’Brien’s ability to scare Irish media from commenting on the specifics of relationship he has with state owned banks is a “threat to democracy.”

TD’s of all shades are claiming a “constitutional threat”, because Irish mainstream media refuses to report on the factual content of a statement read into the Dail by TD Catherine Murphy last week. And I have a lot of sympathy for that point of view.

But such utterances are founded upon the idea that we live in a functioning democracy. We don’t. We like in a technocratic representative democracy. Hired Knave has down a brilliant job of tackling this last week here

However it is worth looking over the terrain of conflict around Denis O’Brien trying to shut down public conversation about his 1.25% interest deal with IBRC.

Rarely do we ordinary plebs get to see the rich individual dinosaurs of inequality battle it out with institutions of the state and cultural power. O’Brien seeking to challenge TD’s speech and reporting is a ‘big story.’ But its also a familiar story across the globe were the concentration of media ownership allows rich and powerful people veneers of respectability as they go about the business of exploiting ever more people.

But there are much more interesting stories within that story.

We – those of us likely to spend the rest of our lives on the flip side of that inequality, those of us living with precarity – shouldn’t be simply be looking on as passive observers.

Before Denis O’Brien next hops on his private jet – to stay out of the country long enough to avoid paying taxes like the rest of us – perhaps it worth flagging a few reasons why we he might be doing us all a wee favour.

1 He provides us with a perfect example of how screwed mainstream media actually is.

Denis O Brien RTE

Luckily for the plucky and otherwise brave and fearless media institutions like RTE, The Irish Times and The Sunday Business Post, a judge has ruled today that those organisations wouldn’t be breaking an injunction granted to O’Brien last week. Independent News and Media played no part in the court proceeding because they are of course owned by the tax exile trying to do the gagging.

This is being lauded as a win for common sense, but in essence the judges ruling shows that fear of litigation held by large media organisations in Ireland trumped the simple act of transcribing or rebroadcasting protected speech from a left wing TD. Its a pyrrhic victory at best for the institutions themselves.

The ideology of bureaucratic risk managerialism is a poisonous one simply because it bleaches (individual and collective) values, ethics and moral into the amoral language of cost-benefit pragmatism. This cultural practice is now so deeply embedded in most institutions of state, media and professional political organisations that its impulse is followed through even though it results in de-legitimising the same organisations. That observation remains regardless or whether you think that de-legitimising is a good or bad thing. It is probably obvious I think its a good thing.

There is little difference in the calculus of the Irish Times, RTE et al deciding to not covering Murphys statement and the decision by Fianna Fail TD’s to not canvass for a ‘Yes’ vote in the marriage equality referendum. Both relied on a cost-benefit analysis devoid of ethical dimensions or of the demands of cursory social justice. Both have been found – in the eyes of an increasingly politicised public – to have made the wrong call.

I’m empathic to the precarious nature of journalism and some of the existential threats to business models. I get that people need to pay bills and have some sense of job security. We all need that. But most of us don’t. This isnt an accident. This is how late capitalism works. Media workers are in the same boat as the rest of us.


There is no doubt that journalism is a necessity in assisting wider publics to understand how society works, why inequality is growing and how it is that specific interests in Ireland have captured specific state decision making for their own benefits. And there is no doubt that those vested interests with fight with everything at their disposal to maintain their status quo.


But if journalists themselves dont or cant start to find ways of breaking out of the ideology of bureaucratic risk managerialism, or at least speaking out about the limitations of the job itself in speaking truth to power, there is little reason why the public will continue to support and pay for the product that Irish journalism produces.

Media organisations may feel that changing business models and consumption patterns and advertsing revenues posed a form of existential threat. I’d posit that a far greater threat in the longer term is the disillusionment of wide swathes of society because Irish media organisations bend the knee much more than they land punches.

Enforcing silence is perhaps the most corrosive structural element in reproducing injustice. The history of this state is littered with the consequences of institutions being able to keep things quietly to protect themselves against the organised hurt they carried out. It has only ever been the sustained struggles by people affected that ultimately break the silence. What we need most from journalism – be that lay or professional journalism – is a much more militant approach to transparency and accountability. Tackling enforced silence mean embracing enforced transparency. Tackling the illegitimate and unjust forces of power shown by O’Brien means embracing tactics and strategies of storytelling and truth telling based on bravery rather than fear.

2 He reminds us how important social media is to popular political education and informed publics

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Last week I was working out in Slane for the set up of the gig on Saturday. By Friday everyone I spoke to knew that Denis O Brien managed to stop most media from reporting Murphy statement from the Dail. Many knew the specifics of his 1.25% interest deal with IBRC. Think about that. This wasn’t a newsroom, or a meeting of political activists. This was a temporary workplace made up mostly of people in precarious work, in a field in Meath without a TV or newspaper in sight. Social media and communication technology, used by ordinary people to find out what was going on, bypassed high court injunctions and mainstream media stalling.

It is without doubt that these networks, many or which have emerged during Irish Water mobilisations, have become channels of information sharing and political discourse that are shaping political literacy in our wider population. These networks eschew ‘balance’ and ‘objectivity’ in favour of being tools of active narrative making. They have fluid boundaries that make the distinction between online and offline increasingly obsolete.

I made a point of checking the YouTube of Catherine Murphy statement in to Dail as news broke on Twitter or todays ruling. The video had been watched over 34,000 times. In the metric of YouTube hits that might not seem massive. But no one likely watched that video and didn’t chat to someone about it. Its was a conversation primer. Id hazard a guess that few watched it a didn’t figure out even if this was all legal, it was also a stitch-up.

Likewise Twitter and Facebook was alight with #redacted as people crowd sourced previous attempts by O’Brien to censor media. They shared screen grabs of the Moriarty reports showing O’Brien payments to bent politician FG Michael Lowry. Others created meme’s and visual images taking the piss out of O’Brien and media organisations. Some where humorous, some where angry, some kind of daft, many, many deeply on point.

Broadsheet.ie deserve a special mention. They in particular have been head and shoulders above all on the Irish media landscape in not being afraid to bust the respect for authority on this issue (and others like police corruption.)

Waterford Whispers used satire to rip the shite out of O’Brien and compliant media organisations. Their “Maltese Tax Exile Briefs Government On What To Say Next” was shared over 11,000 times

And of course left wing social media groups and organisations tooks no pause in sharing out the details of Murphys statement. One Visual image shared out by SolidarityTimes have been viewed over 35,000 times.

Personal blogs posts offering an analysis on O’Brien versus media have also been getting very high hits. In very brief chats with Hired Knave and Oireachtas Retort before posting this both described how their O’Brien related posts were going through the roof even though they spend little time promoting them. Again the networks of local community anti water tax groups acted as a conduits for sharing, liking, reading and discussion.


All these totally circumscribed O’Briens legal threats and used diverse language and literary forms to articulate a deep frustration with how power works in this state. Social media and communication technology clearly allows us to create our own analysis, much of it geared to a radical analysis that desires real social transformation. And by radical I mean going to the roots of issues, not just the veneer of a 24hr news cycle.

From the perspective of struggles against structural imposition of inequality – of which O’Brien’s matters are but one specific symptom and reproducing cause – what we are seeing here relates very much to Gramsci’s ‘war of position.’ The idea that a central component (and indeed strategy) of pro-democracy/equality social movements is the challenging of common sense by remaking common sense itself.

In the specifics of this case it means challenging the common sense presented by O’Brien and his team of the green jersey wearing hard working man fighting for his privacy as well as the common sense that present day mainstream media institutions are harbringers of as-yet unfullfilled democratic possibilities.

This proffering of analysis by citizen journalists or innately curious human beings motivated by social justice, or blogging punters – call them/us what you will – offers a much more rich and nuance tapestry of democratic expression that you will find in any mainstream media organisations products. Laden not just with critique, readers know that at the core of this lies other possibilities that the present set up actually negates. We are making relationships of understanding between our own existences and the reality of macro economics and micro corruptions.  This of course will not bring about change itself.

What O’Brien has helped us do – as with Irish Water and years of austerity – is help us find each other. Communication technology is not a panacea for the ills of late capitalism, but it can and does provide both tools and public space for deliberation, education and community/movement building essential for challenging social systems that enable the continuing growth of massive inequality and illegitimate power.

Which perhaps brings me nicely to this next point we could thank O’Brien for.

3 He reminds us that censorship is something the Labour party are pushing in government.

Labour, censorship, Ireland, social media

The Irish government is a fan of censorship as I outlined a few weeks back. If the proposed censorship bills by the Labour Party pass, you could be taken to court for sharing this post with your friends across your social media networks if Denis O Brien was offended by it.

The present bills allow for people – particularly the rich and litigious type we know so well – to shut up people blogging, tweeting and sharing updates, articles and analysis that they merely find offensive.

In this respect I predict that tomorrow ventures by Joan Burton’s PR team to engage the population with the #TalkToJoan hashtag will be used by right wing Labour members to illustrate once again that ordinary people voicing anger at state policies are a dangerous rabble.

4 He reminds us that controlling communication is what Denis O’Brien does.

depiction-of-me-as-enemy-of-journalism-undeserved

Curtailing peoples capacity to communicate might seem like an odd thing for a man so heavily involved in telecommunications. At first glance it seems counter-intuitive. Surely he wants people to talk is he is in the telecommunications business?

Well not really.

In reality Denis O’Brien isn’t interested in enabling communication between people. He is interested in controlling the means of communication in order to maximise the benefit for himself and the companies he owns. If peoples communication damages those benefits then Denis will quite happily stuff gagging orders down their throats. It is the archetypical approach of media megalomaniacs.

And I use the term benefits rather than profits deliberately. Profits are a particular type of benefit, but they are not the only one. Today O’Brien got a full page spread to state his case that hes is being demonised. Yet not one of us called ‘facists’ or ‘nazi’s under Dail privilege has gotten a full page spread in the IT to refute such exaggerated and disgusting slurs.

I was on the Marian Finucane show at the start of February trying to make that exact point via phone. In the studio Thomas Molloy, Group Business Editor of O’Briens IMN tried to argue that O Brien exercised no control over his papers employed journalists .

There’s no polite way of putting this. Molloy is either a liar or is Group Business Editor for the state largest media organisation with little cognisance of what actually goes on under the bonnet of IMN. O’Brien specifically intervened to try and get Sam Smyth kicked off the Independents coverage of Moriarty tribunal as Smyth was making O’Brien look back by printing the facts. Those facts being O’Brien paid cash to a Michael Lowry.

Of course Molloy didn’t like the temerity of a wee bollix like me calling out O’Brien on the day his own front page called anti water tax protests an “attack on democracy” He refused couldn’t bring his plummy voiced self to address me by name, instead calling me one of “these people.” I had very little to do to show the contempt Molloy holds for most folks outside his golden circle. You know, people actually pushing for social justice and democracy.

O’Brien has a long history of shutting down free speech that challenges his world view. And like most media owners he has a long history of using his media companies to present an analysis of the world that suits himself. That’s want most for profit owners do.

Ireland censorship

Denis makes it clear INM previous owners used the paper against him

He even made this point himself the last time the Irish Times gave over a page or two to decry how he was being demonised back in 2011. He describes how the previous owner O’Reilly used the paper to attack O’Brien as O’Brien was engaged in a slow hostile takeover of the organisation. He made no bones about the fact that the paper was a tool for O’Reilly. Yet Molloy now asks us to believe that O Brien doesnt so same as previous owners.

O’Brien goes out of his way to play the “im wearing the green jersey” and did it again in today Irish Times. One has to wonder is it now fierce warm to be wearing that in Malta.

5 O’Brien reminds us to follow the money.

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O’Brien says in todays Irish Times he is a republican with a small ‘r.’ He might as well say he is an anarchist with a small ‘a’ or a socialist with a small ‘s’. He is in fact a capitalist with a capital ‘C’ without the courage and honesty to say so.

Ireland is a corrupt bought and sold state, with its officials and owners in permanent denial that our society is run a functionary of late capitalism, specifically beholden to financial capitalism. Many will complain that the present banking inquiry is futile, no one will go to jail and everyone is escaping scott free.

But that misses the point. Sure, the banking inquiry is set up to fail if we see success as a pair of handcuff on smug rich men. However there is no smoking guns. There is no bad guys sitting stroking cats and planning our future precarity. There is just patterns of behaviours, relationships based in shared ideology and lots and lots of money if you are willing to forgo a pretence that democracy and equality actually matters to you. Ireland is the country were if you want to get along the most important talent to have is low cunning. Its all in the game..

There is just the mundane reality of people like of O’Brien telling his mates in the banks what interest he’s willing to pay for cheap deals. Mundane facts of Enda Kenny meeting with O’Brien in the Shelbourne to plan out what moves their vision of society now needs. The mundane reality of vulture capitalists buying low when blood is on the streets. The mundane stupidity of papers like the Sunday Business Post getting hard ons for ideas like  infinite growth on a planet of finite resources.

Just the mundane reality of silent circles still craving to hold on to power and wealth and decision making. The mundane rituals of respect for respectability. Just the mundane reality of identikit professional politicians within the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael devoid of any type of social vision beyond that proffered in quiet meetings.

Just the mundane world view held by the deeply ideological civil service in the permanent state always looking forward to the next asset stripping so they so can magic up a revolving door they can jump through. Just the mundane reality of big Irish lawyer firms ready to rubber stamp the money flows laundered through our state by multinationals running a global network of legal criminality.

Just mundane facts of men in suits, well educated in legalese and accountancy trickery and PR spin and high frequency trading and shelf companies and tax avoidance and promissory notes and interest rates and asset stripping and all the other mundane obtuse realities far too complex for people like us to understand.

Far too dangerous for people like us to be involved with.

Far too important for people like me and you to be part of actual democratic discussion and deliberation.

Except that we were and are talking about it when mainstream media was silenced and cowed.

We did speak about it in a field in Meath while setting up a gig were people would get drunk and dance in the pissing rain. We pulled it apart online and in pubs and around dinner tables as we crowd sourced and commented. Shrill voices from professional politicians called this an attack on democracy, and engaged in shadow puppetry debate, ever careful to not talk about the actual facts.

e did.

And we will continue to do so.

And more question arises for us all.

How do we best use these tools at our disposal?

What would a culture of enforced transparency look like? And how could it be used to removed silence and ignorance. To shine lights on aspects of the captured state?

Should we be hacking more, should be be setting up platforms for leaking more? Should a radical-tech community (does one exist?) be reaching out to journalists?

Any as I post this more question come to mind. Why was it that the ‘Anglo tapes’ were leaked to INM via Paul Williams who in effect is a Garda spokesperson. He clearly is not an investigative journalist. Perhaps that was the point? I dunno.

More questions arise as I write but for today perhaps we have a little to be thankful to O Brien for. Because it gives us all pause to think about questions of how the people living in this state will never live lives as equals while such unjust powers and scare tactics are seen as legitimate and part of democracy.

Heres that link to the Waterford Whispers piece

https://www.evernote.com/shard/s294/sh/872934e0-826b-466f-957b-d2c93c2fff5b/70f392ca9add949a72e05c0fd2b4167c