From Irish Political Review: April 2009
|Rejoining The Commonwealth?||
Roy Garland has reported on a Dublin meeting held on 21st March (Irish News 30.3.2009). It was sponsored by a new group which has been established to campaign for Ireland to join the Commonwealth. Though small, it spans a wide range of Unionist opinion from members of the Progressive Unionist Party to the Alliance Party in the North and people around the Reform Society of Robin Bury and Eoghan Harris in the South. Actually Garland's 'report' was really a piece to promote the proposition, as was all that he had say while supposedly chairing the debate. He described the event as "outstanding".
|Two Soldiers…||were shot at their Army base in NI shortly before leaving to make war on the people of Afghanistan. Presumably the particular targets were chosen by republican dissidents with that in mind, even though the motivation was to do with Northern Ireland. It would have been understandable if Martin M'Guinness considered it politic to murmur some words of sympathy in line with his Assembly position and his support for new policing. But he was over-simplifying when suggested that the perpetrators were 'traitors to Ireland'. Gerry Adams took a more measured approach.
This column suggested some time ago that it was British policy to see a return to a "state of nature" in Catholic areas in the absence of either IRA or acceptable (or even unacceptable) police patrols. In the Lower Falls this process began very quickly and people, especially republicans, were being beaten up and shot on a regular basis. The IRA, without ceremony, began patrolling again, and the place quietened down.
Late March was the first time in thirty years that this writer had been back to Ballymurphy and the first time ever to Whiterock and Turf Lodge. These are well built estates at the foot of the Belfast Hills. But they are barren. Drugs are providing an escape for teenagers who might formerly have been learning the innards of the AK47. The Agreement and all the rest of the baloney have given them nothing. It is a credit to the community spirit that exists there that people haven't turned in on themselves. The position is different on the Falls Road, with community this and community that providing nice little earners. And there's money to be made up at Stormont and in the various local authorities as well.
The absence of real politics corrodes society, so it ill behoves the Deputy First Minister to hurl abuse about the place.
|ICTU 'boycott Israel'…||
campaign gets underway. The ICTU National Executive met on 18th March and discussed various issues in relation to Palestine. However, the plan to have the head of the Palestinian TUC (PGFTU) address the next ICTU Biennial Conference (July 2009) will not be going ahead (it was countered by a call for "balance" by also inviting a Histadrut speaker—the upshot is that no-one is now being invited). On the other hand, Congress has established a high-powered committee to develop an active boycott strategy, based on a comprehensive proposal from Trade Union Friends of Palestine. The committee includes Patricia McKeown (Pres., ICTU), Peter McLoone (Gen.Sec. IMPACT), David Joyce (Global Solidarity officer, ICTU), Eamon McMahon and Mags O'Brien (TUFP), as well as Sally Anne Kinahan (Asst. Gen. Sec., ICTU). A special conference of ICTU on Palestine (agreed by the last ICTU Conference)—planned for mid-June, with international speakers and to be opened by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin—is not now to take place in Dublin Castle and is in doubt. However, a special Congress appeal to members on Gaza collected an amazing €80,000.
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