#Spycops Press Conference in Dublin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening the press conference Kate said

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

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

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

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

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

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

That statement in full is:

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

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

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

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

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

Kim then spoke about her own interactions with Kennedy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason Kirkpatrick outline some of these demands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full audio here.

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Irish Gov bows to “BombHolder” threats from the ECB over Anglo Debt

“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”
Howard Zinn

Imagine threatening to set off bombs if you didn’t get your way with something. Most people would call that the threat of violence. But what if  its the type of bomb that doesn’t need mercury tilt switches or ammonia.  What if they are not made in  rural outhouses or not devised by men with degrees in electrical engineering who studied at Queens university. My part of the world has seem plenty of those bombs. You might have even been there. We seen what bombs do, but more importantly we know what they are intended to do.  Bombs are not just about the considered obliteration of human flesh and bones, of human life. They are also blunt instruments designed to create environments of fear and insecurity. An explicit expression of power-over, diametrically opposed to the creative and democratic possibilities of  power-to.

So what if the men threatening bombs didn’t do degrees in electrical engineering. What if those issuing threats and using the discourse of violence studied political science and economics? What if they didn’t devise plans in rural farmhouses, but instead held closed meetings in big glass fronted buildings with private elevators you wouldnt be welcome in? What if the men threatening to unleash bombs in Dublin dont didn’t use tilt switches or fertilizer, but instead use their blunt financial instruments that control the money supply and the banking system? What if this meant that vulture capitalists would intentionally seek to fuck up our already fucked society even further by using “the free market” and hedge betting to inflict more pain and hurt. Real fucking pain and hurt, not some abstract pretend shit of  the Irish Times imaginary “we” variety.  The kind that affects the very real “us”.  That ultimately leads many in our society to die earlier, to lead sicker lives, to have more fear, more emigration, more unemployment and insecurity, more suicide and broken souls, higher food and energy prices, less access to education, more addiction? I could go on, but you all know what I mean.

What if some unelected bunch of fucks in suits sat down beside your elected reps- the guys on €150,000+ pensions for life that your sweat and tears creates in the first place – and said “pay up or we will wont just set the dogs on you, we will drop financial bombs on Dublin? What would you hope your “leaders” would do? How do you think they would respond? What would you demand as a suitable reponse from those tasked and well paid to have your interests at heart? And i mean your interest as you hold them to be, not what some jumped-up policy wonk thinks they should be.

On This Week In Politics tonight (Sunday 22nd Feb) Fine Gael Minister Leo Varadkar, when asked about why people in Ireland are being forced to pay €10’s of billions, including €1.25billion this week for debt incurred by Anglo- and organisation under criminal investigation- Little Leo had this to say.  (from the RTE website)

“they are being repaid because the Government had to weigh up the costs on the one side and the risks on the other.”

Mr Varadkar said there is about €2.5bn left in Anglo bonds to be repaid and not paying the €1.2bn, due next week, would have no immediate gain for the State and gain might only come in eight or nine years when Anglo Irish is resolved.

Asked how directly the ECB warned against a default, he replied:”I don’t have direct contact with the ECB that’s done through Michael Noonan, Brendan Howlin and other Ministers.

Minister Varadkar continued, but what the ECB has said to us, and what the Troika has said to us – because they do speak with one voice on most of these things – and what they said is really, is that, it’s on your head.

The ECB also said “We don’t want you to default on these payments, it is your decision ultimately. But a bomb will go off, a bomb will go off in Dublin, not in Frankfurt, because of the reasons I’ve outlined.

The FG mouthpiece for ECB financial terrorists

When you have grown up somewhere on this island where bombs were part of the ‘reality’ of life it turns your stomach to hear a minister in the government relay this message without any sense of condemnation and act as if the ECB where presenting a reasonable rational position. The ECB, in a meeting with our “leaders”, threatened to fuck up the people living in this country if we don’t pay debts that are not ours to pay in the first place. Little Leo comes on RTE to pass on the message like some wet-behind-the-ears first year school kid.

These are the same smug bastards that talk about ‘reality’ as if it is something that they exclusively own, and that they have some divine right to define. ‘Reality’ only exist for them as they imagine it in their own image. They go on the national broadcaster and parrot a threat of economic carnage from the ECB in what attempt to snuff out debate and discussion and direct action and in its place leave paralysing disempowering fear. Chatting to my housemate about what Varadker said this evening and the explicit use of violent rhetoric from politicians as a means of communicating a vague threat to a wider populations, she said “imagine if the ECB had said we will rape Dublin”. We both acknowledged the way the term has been used in ways that rob it off meaning like ‘fraping’ on facebook etc. That’s was not the way we spoke about it. It was a thought exercise. What would the reaction be if they had of used the term rape instead of bomb? Both speak of an exlicit power-over, and both get justified so often in ways that seeks to apportion blame to the victim/survivor.

What’s most sickening is that the government continually talk about the ECB as being their “partners”. Its pretty clear that the government and ECB are partners. They hold the same belief system and same values and for the most part this is shared by mainstream newspapers. Just checkout the lead opinion piece in todays Irish Times. Leave aside the archaic notion of anonymous opinion pieces in national newspapers in the age of socially networked communication where trust is based upon accountability and openness to query. Its a  quaint idea to think that when the Irish Times and other papers had the monopoly of narrative creation, they presented  op-eds that people took at face value as some kind popular consensus or even factual unquestioned truth. Nowadays its a daily ongoing embarassment to the online editor – who, it has to be said seems fully conscious of a changing media ecosystem and its implications for public discourse – that the Irish Times  op-eds are still not open to comment in 2012. Quite simply their monopoly of narrative making and presenting of “reality” is getting a new hole ripped by an increasingly articulate – and unemployed – population. So in the partner equation we have the government , the ECB and significant parts of the mainstream media. All partners and all sharing the same neoliberal views of reality.  Its  a scene as much as it is an elite  class. Fuck even I could write Stephen Collins and Noel Whelans pieces for them given they stray so very little from a well worn path of pathological incuriousity. Im pretty sure they write them for each other.

But these folks are not our partners. We, the wider public are understood to be mostly passive humans and occasional voters. Considered smart enough to be ‘consumers’ but yet too stupid to understand that economic logic is a fairly vacuous and exploitative way to engineer human social relations. They try to focus group us to death as political vision and social passion is dissolved by the corrosive bleach of brand management and message control. We ourselves are threatened with force when we start to work together to claim our own futures, labelled either violent or unhinged.

In this context it is impossible to ignore the explicit and growing divergence of competing realities both in Irish society and right across europe. The exact same conversations are happening in many langauges. On the one hand you have the institutions of nation-states, most political organisations, established capitalist lobby groups and PR firms, mainstream media and when required an obedient police force who seem all too keen to deploy violence against their own communities.  Collectively they share an almost autistic inability to recognise their own institutionalisation or indeed the tectonic shifts – both gradual and more rupturous moves – away from even the minimal sense of collective decision making that was offered us plebs under “representative democracy”. There no longer exist in common political discourse the sense of a social contract, and absolutely zero conversations about what the fuck these guys actually mean when they speak of democracy. The middle managers have taken over the asylum.  They speak of a democratic deficit, but only understand what deficit means. They have no interest in democracy. In the UK the leaders of the three main parties are all speaking about a “moral capitalism” -expect to hear it here soon too- without even the slightest embarassment of the ahistorical analysis that is required to whitewash out slavery, colonialism, imperialism, racism, and all the other oppressions of geniune democratic movements that have lead us to the point where we are at. Every thing we hold in common is held in spite of capitalism not because of it.

What could be dismissed as organised bureaucratic insanity and collective criminality on an abstract level, assumes dimensions of anti-human, anti-democratic proto-fascism merely by fact so few people exert so much power over so many people on the planet through a bureaucratic institutional framework of enforced economic belief system. The free market has assumed the mantle of god. All seeing, everywhere and actually means whatever you want it to mean so long as we dont talk about the impacts. I wonder what we would think of god if those fucked over by centuries religion told the story. Today we can tell the stories of how we are being fucked over by capitalism, and in the medium terms that a big fucking problem for capitalists.

This system is geared for private gain, not any collective human endeavour we could associate with say the Enlightment for example. Their ‘reality’ – that mantra we hear on every panel discussion- now lies completely devoid of any humanistic meaning beyond the logics of double entry book keeping and the sustenance of that power-over at all costs. The language of war is used to explain the intentions and interests of capitalists quite openly. The impacts on our lives, our communities are simply “collateral damage”.

Our only way out of this is each other. Where political parties offer the instiutionalised thinking of economics, political science and international relations, our thinking/actions must be founded first and foremost in politicised nondogmatic care. When we are told our experiences are irrelevant because they are not the “reality” fuckwits like Little Leo speak of, we need to refuse to be silenced by patronising politician who act like drunken headmasters from the 1950’s. We should see some value in ignoring the mainstream media and the importance of talking to each other. Every person, every community, every campaign and every organisation that is involved in struggles for justice and for equality, or just simply dignity has something to offer movements for change; if we are willing to listen and learn from each other. When we are told that we don’t understand “economics” we need to collectively gain economic literacy. But that literacy should always be subservient to the needs of justice and solidarity. Lets be confident to speak of love as a political coordinate and lets be honest in describing the violence inflicted on our lives.  We only get one life.

How cosy is your future? How much control do you actually have over the one fucking life you lead? How disempowering is it to know that your kids are going to face a more insecure future than you because the game is rigged?  How much longer should we choke our dreams for fear of seeming idealistic or selfish? Why should we suppress our individualised guilt at knowing that as things stand we cant provide for the poeple who cared for us as they get older?  Do you feel our own caring capacity gets sapped simply existing in a society where greed is rewarded, stupidity valued, honesty sneered at and compassion outsourced to organisation reduced to begging for funds? And in the midst of this we get told to ‘pull on the green jersey’. But its really green straight jacket, a variation of Ian Paisley’s  willingness to fight to the last drop of other people blood.

It is completely foolish to think that those who threaten to drop financial bombs on our society share the same interests as us. The people who live, who work, breathe, create, share and care in our society wether you hold a passport or moved here for a better future. Its high time to explicitly and calmly withdraw our consent to be governed by this logic, simply because our lives belong to ourselves not some fuckers in shiny glass building plotting to fuck us over.  They are not our partners. And when governments become the mouthpieces for unelected opaque financial organisations that threaten to bomb us, perhaps its time to recognise that a war is being waged on our lives. The only useful question now is what are we gonna do about it?

People will be taking it directly to Anglo’s face at Stephen Green from 7amtoday and will be there till Wednesday with direct action blockades, workshops and music. If you can, get your yourself down their

Debt Justice Action will be holding our first public meeting of the AngloNot Our Debt campiagn on Tuesday at 7pm in the Teachers club. “This public meeting aims to help people  gain a better understanding of the nature of the debt repayments to former Anglo Irish Bank / Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) – How did we as a society end up paying these debts? And most crucially, how can we work together to undo this injustice?”

Certainly these events themselves are not going to change the world, but they can be steps towards a win. These debts are not our debts, and when the threat of violence is used, this is simply extrotion. A win against these debts will be a win for reimaging our society. And wins are what puts wind in our sails.

Just to remind yourselves of Little Leo lies

Before the election fever kicks in…..

So we now enter another election campaign. At the beginning of the second decade in the 21st century, this is what is considered as the pinnacle of democracy in on planet earth. We get to stick numbers beside the name of people who are professional politicians, people who are paid handsomely to make decisions, supposedly on our behalf, and for our benefit.

The recent circus around Fianna Fail’s internal implosion, and the Greens manoeuvrings around the optics of Cowen trying to putting new faces into departments ahead of the election might be the bread and butter of mainstream commentary. But it actually masks deeper more embedded problems. These are multitude but perhaps, for this post, it might be useful to consider some simple facts before we even begin to make value judgements and critiques. In our adult lives, the sum total of ordinary peoples input into the “democratic process” amounts to little more than 3.875 hours. Less than 4 hours of your life is spent voting.

How did I get that figure? Well say there is an election every four years, and say the average life expectancy is 80 years. And you start voting at 18. So you have 62 years of voting once every four years. That’s 15.5 voting opportunities. And say that it takes you 15 minutes to exercise your vote – probably less than that for many. That’s 232.5 minutes or just under 4 hours in your life when you get to ‘exercise’ ‘democracy’. Doesnt seem a lot does it? So lets go wild. Just imagine there are twice as many elections. That means that we still spend less 8 hours (one working day out our entire time on the planet) taking part in the official decision making structures that affect our lives.

That’s pretty bonkers really. And that’s without even addressing issues of capitalism and free markets, power, class divisions, ecological impacts of resources depletions, patriarchy, religion and wars. To anyone with some semblance of understanding of the term ‘democracy’ our present system is not fit for the purpose it describes itself as having. It cannot possibly make use of the collective knowledge, intelligence and experience of us all,nor begin to address our concerns. How could it? The idea that substantial change will come about by simply continuing to participate within the parameters of representative democracy is less than wishful thinking. And wishful thinking is exactly what we need to do. If we want to a society that puts power in our own hands, we need to radically re-imagine what we mean when we speak about democracy. So when someone comes asking for a bit of your time, trying to convince you to vote for them, it might be worth asking them, as professional politician if they think giving you 4 hours in you lifetime to participate in democracy is they best they can imagine. Chances are they will never have thought of it. As for us, well if we settle for 4 hours in our life, maybe we deserve to get all we do.