#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.

 

#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.

campaign-opposing-police-surveillance-1000x360

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/

Martin McGuinness’ Resignation Letter

Sinn Fein have just announced Martin McGuiness is to resign as Deputy First Minister  at 5pm todayin response to DUP’s Arlene Foster “clear conflict of interest” in the RHI heating subsidy scandal. Here’s his resignation letter.

 

maginnes1

sourced from BBC’s Mark Davenport  https://twitter.com/markdevenport

British #SpyCops in Ireland: What is @FitzgeraldFrncs covering up? An interview with Jason Kirkpatrick

I spoke to Jason Kirkpatrick targeted by British undercover police across several countries including Germany, N Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. The officer was Mark Kennedy attached to the UK’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU.) Kennedy operated in many European countries including several deployments to Ireland.

jason_35x45mm_300dpi

Jason Kirkpatrick wants Irish Dept of Justice to explain role of British undercover police spying on him in Ireland

The NPOIU is a political policing unit set up to illicitly disrupt political networks social movements and family campaigns challenging abuses by the police.

The unit was preceded by the Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS) set up in 1968 to infiltrate protest movements opposed to the US war in Vietnam.   Both units not only spied on political organisations and social movements, but on campaigns against police abuses and murder in the UK.

mark-kennedy-undercover-a-007

Mark Kennedy, using the name Mark Stone, from the UK’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit, was deployed multiple times in Ireland. The Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana refuse to cooperate so far with Jason Kirkpatrick.

Jason is currently bringing legal cases in several jurisdictions with an aim of expanding the Pitchford Inquiry into the scope and nature of undercover policing set up by the current UK prime minister Teresa May. Currently this inquiry is limited to undercover policing in England and Wales. Jason and others are pushing to see this expanded to cover all areas that British undercover police targeted them.

It is understood that the NPOIU operated using contractual terms of agreements with several nation states/police units around the deployment of British officers from the unit in those states. It’s likely that some of the information held by the Irish police force includes such an agreement. It is also common practice for information fed back by British undercover police to their units is shared with the police force of the country they are operating in.

Currently the Irish state refuses to publish an existing report into Mark Kennedys deployments across Ireland, or who he was spying on and what information he has supplied to both the British and Irish states. Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald has called for another report from Commissioner O Sullivan, a move that should be understood as a stalling tactic to resist any transparency around some really dodgy policing

Full interview below

More info on the use of undercover police to spy and disrupt black justice movements can found at The Guardian here

RIA, Direct Provision and State Violence

Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.” 
― Simone Weil

A woman living in direct provision, who gave birth to her second child just three month ago, was served with an eviction order by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) from Mosney direct provision centre earlier this month. The eviction notice came days after the company running the centre refused to serve the woman food

This is letter she received. I’ve change the woman’s name for obvious reasons.

Bed Management Letter

Dear Jane ,

For operational and bed management reasons your present accommodation arrangements have had to be reviewed by the Reception and Intergration Agency. As a consequence it has been decided to transfer you to

Knockalisheen Accomodation Centre

Limerick Road

Meelick

Co. Clare

Your new accommodation will be available to you from Thursday 8th September, 2016”

Mosney RIA letter.png


Short and succinct, the letter itself was dated the 6th of September, just two days before RIA intended a forced removal. It’s signed by Killian J Morgan. There are many things striking about the letter. What jumps out immediately is the absence of any reference to either Jane’s three month old baby or year and a half old sibling

RIA does not outline any specific rationale, or detail any of the particulars why ‘accommodation arrangements’ needed to be reviewed in the first place. Nor does it outline what the process of review involved. Its a defacto decree with any means to official appeal.

It begs the question why was Jane was not given ANY information that might offer ANY grounds for understanding the basis of RIA intended eviction?

Sure, it’s dressed up in a sterile language less damaging to the sensitivities of Killian and other RIA bureaucrats. Who would lose sleep writing letters to evict people seeking refuge in Ireland were its just about “bed management”?

Yet it remains unmistakable. What we are reading – and what this letter is – is the exercise of arbitrary power over a family without the slightest attempt of providing any meaningful justification. It is the text book definition of authoritarianism. Written in a style and manner you would associate with long dead Soviet obfuscation.

At is core a threat issued by the state to someone seeking asylum in the state. That might seem melodramatic or perhaps challenging concept to some. However when you listen to the voices and experiences of people living or who have lived within direct provision you quickly find this is their understood reality. And a reality that is in no way lessened by ignoring it or pretending not to know.

 

So even on its own terms, this letter sent by RIA, is deeply problematic and reflects at the very least antipathy toward the circumstances of people living with direct provision. Many would argue that this antipathy, the lack of any sense of empathy, is itself rooted in institutional and state racism. I’d agree. Institutional and state racism is both the cause and response of direct provision.

However its gets worse. Much worse.

This letter sent by a government agency needs to be contextualised by earlier events in the Mosney Center. Jane spoke on Tuesday on Joe Duffy’s Liveline on RTE 1. Leaving aside Duffy’s tendencies to embrace people as victims but reject attempts to address structural causes, the two shows this week gave voices to the experiences of many people who live in direct provision. It was powerful, necessary and deeply uncomfortable listening.

Alongside those voices of were other voices from the ‘outside’ validating the experiences of people in direct provision. Former workers employed in direct provision centre spoke about persistent systemic degrading treatment on a daily basis. Of making people queue and beg for rationed toilet rolls. Of other employees refusing to give toiletries to individual adults, arguing one bottle of shower gel between three people in a room is sufficient.

Petty violence after petty violence, micro aggressions from management and employees as a tool of social control against people denied the basic anatomy to work for themselves and their families. Processes which cause genuine emotional traumas, depression and in some cases suicide.

This was posted on Facebook by MASI – Movement for Asylum Seekers In Ireland on 7th September.

Woman refused food in Mosney Accommodation Centre:

We have noted with concern the ill treatment of the mother of two babies (3 months and 1 and half year) in Mosney Centre. A woman who is also breast feeding was issued with a written letter stopping her from accessing food from the kitchen since the 29th August 2016, due to her behaviour according to the management. It’s been 10 full days now since the woman has been deliberately starved by the management. Apparently the management is punishing the poor lady just because she demanded one more burger. To make it worse the officials from RIA, the agency that controls these centres, on Wednesday the 7th September issued a letter forcing the lady to take a transfer to another centre in Limerick.

What kind of treatment is this that a woman with a three months baby, breastfeeding can be deprived food in a direct provision centre? How is she expected to survive? Even in prison when the inmates had a fight and are put in solitary confinement, they are given food at least to eat. This is just an example at how cruel and inhumane this system of direct provision is. The woman is currently under unreal stress with all what is happening to her and her children. At the same time she has to stay calm and focus for the sake of her two babies. We recently are still grieving from the loss of a woman who took her own life just two weeks ago. But we still have management who just don’t care about the welfare of women and children for that matter. Shame on you Mosney management, your heartless attitude is really shameful, we cannot sit back and watch you destroy yet another life. Sometimes punitive measures are not thee way to deal with such situations. This shows lack of capacity from all of those in charge.

In solidarity with the woman and the residents in Mosney, there will be a peaceful protest outside the Mosney centre on Thursday the 8th September 2016 at 11:00am. We call upon anyone who can make it to Mosney to go there and demonstrate peacefully until the management agrees to give food to this woman and don’t transfer her unwillingly to Limerick.”

I’ve spoken to several people close to the woman and other residents of Mosney. What’s clear is that the woman is breastfeeding her three month old and like many mothers is simply much hungrier than when not breastfeeding.

At this point its worth remembering how food ‘works’ in Direct Provision. Its commonly understood that people in DP receive to €19 odd a week. This is to cover clothes, travel, and everything you need to have a life. It’s also meant to cover private rental, should someone find a place to rent for what’s left of €19 after you bought everything else.

However on the receipt issued for the €19.10 received it states clearly that the payment is the normal payment an unemployed person would get, €188, but with a deduction taken at source that goes directly to the center owners.

So whilst successive governments present DP as a choice people can make – the line “we dont force people to live in DP centres” is common – the reality is people seeking asylum are forced to do precisely that. All the while awaiting a decision on their asylum claim, with a sense of suspension and insecurity and the real fear of being physically taken and forced onto an airplane to be brought back to a place they were fleeing.

At the end of April this year there were 4,400 people living in the direct provision system across 37 geographically disperse privately managed for-profit businesses.

 

Food is mass cooked for people, removing the dignity and pleasure of preparing dinner for yourself and family, friends or each other. And like toilet rolls and other toiletries, food is rationed -per individual – by companies. The type and forcefulness of rationing across direct provision as described by former workers, seems to be shaped by a few factors. Profit seeking of by centre owners and authoritarianism and control by centre management.

And so we get to situation were a breastfeeding mother, asks for an extra burger because she is hungry. This is hardly surprising as many women have commented online.

https://twitter.com/msleedy/status/773859682075238404

https://twitter.com/elliekisyombe1/status/773831650593611776

And in that moment of refusal the woman crossed the serving counter and took another burger for herself in order to have enough food to eat. She began giving more burgers out to other behind her. Like anyone in that situation, you can empathise why she was pretty pissed off and decided to sort this for herself and her kids.

Yet instead of reviewing how its rations food to hungry people, the centre chose to sanction the woman. Rather than address the fact its food rationing demonstrably didn’t provide the energy and nourishment she needed, the centre barred her from the kitchen.

This is the letter sent to Jane by Mosney Center management.

Mosney management letter.png

Before I address the letter have some interesting facts about Mosney

Mosney is owned and run by multimillionaire Phelim McCloskey. Last year his personal wealth was estimated at €46 million.

McCloskey is a donor to Fianna Fail. In 2008 the Irish Examiner reported that Mosney Holiday village donated €6,500 to the party that set up the direct provision system.

However on top of that 2008 donations statements furnished by Fianna Fail to SIPO showed that McCloskey donated a cheque for €5,500. So in 2008 alone McCloskey gave €12,000 to Fianna Fail.

In 2009, Mosney’s accounts showed a donation of €4,050 to Fianna Fail.

That worked out ok for McCloskey and the company as successive governments – mostly under Fianna Fail has given him back over €100 million in state contracts for running the Mosney centre.

And surprise surprise Phelim McCloskey sat on a RIA working group in 2008 whose sole purpose was to look at how to deal with “complaints and instances with the reception and accommodation centres.” The working groups sought to set out House Rules and Procedures. So McCloskey no only gets to profit from this inhumane system, he has been part of designing its implementation. No people actually living in the system have been afforded a seat at the governments table like this.

Mosney’s accounts have since been harder to find, since they moved offshore much like Google, Apple etc. The primary purpose for such moves is to avoid paying taxes. Taxes that would be due on profits arising directly from our taxes handed out to McCloskey in the first place. Handed out by the political organisations he helps fund. Pretty sweet huh?

That’s worth remembering the next time you hear someone say “we should look after our own first” Because that is precisely how the Irish state is run. Rich folks who fund the big political parties are looked after first before anyone else.

McCloskey has been given over €100 million to run centre housing people in the most precarious of positions, many fleeing political violence or religious or other forms of persecution. You would expect that there is at least some proper system of governance around management. The first question in RIA’s own inspection report of Mosney in 2015 ask if Mosney has *any* type of accepted Quality Management System. And the answer to that?

No. In Mosney there is no recognised quality management system.

And so we come back to the letters. One from a belligerent business seeking to punish a hungry mother. Another a shortly after from a state agency dishing out more punishment and without the slightest attempt at justification or process. Because its just “bed management”

This isn’t the first time RIA has used Kafkaesque language. A 2010 report “Without Rights or Recognition” from the Irish Refugee Council states

On 29th June 2010, 109 residents at Mosney, Julianstown, Co. Meath, an

accommodation centre within the ‘Direct Provision’ system, were issued with

letters requiring them to transfer to another place of temporary residence, Hatch Hall accommodation centre in Dublin. Residents, many of whom had made Mosney home for a number of years, were given one week to prepare themselves for departure. The reasoning cited for the transfers and the short period of notice was vague, with the Reception and Integration Agency invoking “operational and bed management reasons”

RIA should be recognised for what it is. It is a state agency that seeks to operate with absolute impunity and regularly makes threats to people who resist its bullying tactics.

The provision of services to you under the direct provision system runs in parallel to the consideration by other agencies of the State of your claim for international protection and/or humanitarian leave to remain.”

The above was contain in a letter to of the 109 those resisting movement from Mosney to centres with even worse conditions. The threat is implicit. You keep making noises about conditions or our ability to move you as we see fit, and we will screw your claims over.

Working with The Live Register in 2012 I interviewed Fonong Fevant. At that stage Fonong had been in direct provision for seven years. He had been waiting for three year for a High Court ruling on his status. Over that time he was moved to seven different centres around the country. He spoke about over that time people got moved for being “rude” because they wouldn’t beg to get toothpaste. The very act of speaking out about the conditions leads to management writing letter to RIA about individuals, and invariably RIA issues an eviction letter to them. At no point do people have any official input into this processes that see them moved at the whim of the system itself.

You can watch the interview with Fonong and others speaking out below bottom.

RIA impunity however is most definitely not absolute. Self organisation amongst people in the direct provision system and support and solidarity alongside is key to ensuring institutional racism is abolished. There is no place for profit seeking in the movement of people. It’s hypocritical to criticise two dimensional “traffickers” assisting and often exploiting people fleeing wars, yet be silent and passive when this state allows companies and owners to exploit those same people seeking refuge here. That’s simply bullshit.

There is no justification in allowing RIA to continue to threaten people at the whim of centre management.  The RIA, like direct provision, should be abolished. And the bureaucracy’s letter writers held to account.