ASKING FOR IT!

 

Diarmuid Breatnach

travelling-bag-womans-legs

(image from Internet)

It was nearly ten o’clock at night when she approached me on a badly-lit street near Dublin’s North Circular Road. I had paused my bicycle to send a text on my mobile and I saw her coming towards me. I had the impression that, just before she made for me, she had been looking around as though to determine where she was – perhaps I had seen her doing that in my peripheral vision.

She had a handbag and was dragging one of those suitcases with an extending handle and trundling on little wheels. As she reached me, I asked her could I help her with directions, which actually interrupted her asking me for help. But that was ok, it worked against her being totally dependent, the asker – after all, I had asked too.  She had a USA accent.

Yes, of course I would help if I could.

Did I know the whereabouts of a certain hotel? Well, the area in the hotel’s name I do know but I didn’t recall the hotel itself. And sometimes they give themselvess the name of somewhere known or popular even though their hotel is not near the place at all.

Did she have the street name? No.

The phone number? Somewhere in her bag (she meant her case).

I explained that I don’t have Internet on my mobile phone but she could look it up on Google map?  She doesn’t have Internet access on her phone either.

Can she afford a taxi? Yes, of course.

Well, why not hail one? She has done that but they tell her the hotel is just down the road.

Well, why not ask them to take her there? She has, but they tell her it’s just down the road.

Hmmmm – a sliver of doubt entered my brain. Taxi drivers refusing a short drive fare on a weekday night? To an address with which they are familiar? And leaving a woman, clearly a tourist, on her own in that area on foot ….. Something is wrong with this story.

Still … what to do?

OK, so I’ll ride around on the bike and find the place (even if I have to stop a taxi and ask the driver, I was thinking). Then I’ll come back and tell her (and accompany her there too, I think to myself).

She is very grateful but I think it is not safe for her to wait for me here. Perhaps the courtyard of a pub a little further back? A well-lit one.

OK.

I walk the bike, she trundles the case. Talks about her plans for her two-week stay, which appear to be to arrive in Dublin and then figure out where to go from there. Relates having been booked into a Dublin hostel which another passenger on a bus told her was in a bad district so she didn’t go there. Something seems wrong about this story too.

We reach the pub – it is still in business hours and the courtyard, though deserted, is brightly lit. There are tables and chairs and and I ask her to wait there for me and I’ll be back in a few minutes. She agrees.

Three minutes later I have found the hotel and in four, five at the most, I am back at the pub.

But the courtyard is empty.

Oh, no! She just got up and went?!

Wait. Maybe she asked someone where it was and set off there on her own. But then I would have passed her on the way back – I couldn’t have missed her.

Maybe …. oh God! Maybe whoever she asked volunteered to take her there. And she went with them. Got into a car ….

Ah, Jayzus! What now? Call the cops?

But now I see her ….. coming out of the pub, pulling the case, carrying her bag, all of it awkward as she manages the door….. Maybe she didn’t feel safe out there on her own and went inside …. but no, she has a pint of lager in her hand.

I remind her that I asked her to wait and that I’d be back in a few minutes. I have found the place and was ready to accompany her there but now she has bought a pint. (I am hoping she will leave the pint but no chance).

She is so grateful and would like to buy me a drink.

It’s an offer I might well have accepted when I had got her to her hotel and she had checked in. Now, though? I show her where her hotel is, a straight walk down the road I point out to her, wish her well and ride off.

Asking for it – bloody asking for it! It’s a phrase that doesn’t usually mean someone wants something bad to happen, rather that their conduct makes that a likely outcome. Unfortunately it is used too often with regard to the victims of rape, when wanting it to happen is occasionally precisely what is insinuated – smearing the victim and exonerating the attacker. But usually, conduct with predictable bad results is what is indicated; for example, leaving your bag or laptop inside your car, visible to passers-by, is asking to have your car broken into. Leaving your bike unlocked in the open out of your sight is asking to have it stolen.

Surely it is not a healthy situation for a person to be walking around in a badly-lit part of a strange city at ten at night? And looking like a tourist, whom a predator might therefore assume to have some money and perhaps a camera, Ipad, etc? And a woman alone, considered a defenceless potential victim?

Surely one would want to get into one’s hotel as soon as possible? OK, I understand the appeal of the pint, particularly if one has been stressed out by travel and then wandering around looking for one’s hotel. But hotels have bars, where the worst that will happen to one (or the best, depending on one’s point of view) is that it will lead to sharing one of the hotel beds with a stranger. OK, if you want local colour with your pint, find a “typical” local pub after you’ve checked in. And be sure you know your way back.

But there she had been, wandering around a badly-lit street at night looking for a hotel (and walking further away from it when I met her). And someone goes to find her hotel and asks her to wait and in less than five minutes she’s bought a pint, which means she won’t be able to go to the hotel when the guy returns. And she blithely offers to buy him a drink.

Conduct over all? Asking for it.

End.

COLOURS OF STRUGGLE

Diarmuid Breatnach

Information picket (with table across the road) organized by Anti-Internment Group of Ireland in September 2014 at Thomas St./ Meath St. junction, Dublin. They returned there in December and in January supported a picket in Cork, handing out leaflets on the Craigavon Two injustice.

Information picket (with table across the road) organized by Anti-Internment Group of Ireland in September 2014 at Thomas St./ Meath St. junction, Dublin.

MEP maybe Kobane Rally London

Palestinian and Kurdish flags at a Kobane solidarity rally in Trafalgar Square, London in 2014. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flag of the ICA, flown over Murphy's Imperial Hotel in 1916

The flag of the ICA, flown over Murphy’s Imperial Hotel in 1916

 

 

 

 

I’m no shade of green,

though neath such flags I’ve oft times been,

and ‘neath the Plough in Gold on Green,

and some years back

Also the black,

aye and the red-and-black;

or Palestinian red and black and white and green,

c-n-mb-irish-republic-tricolour-flags-crowd-gpo-copy

Cumann na mBan, “Irish Republic” and Tricolour flags displayed at Dublin’s GPO by Moore Street campaign supporters. (Phoro: D. Breatnach?)

Or the Basque crosses white and green upon red …..

In solidarity I have flown all those flags I’ve said

But when all’s said and done —

though hard to choose just one —

from my heart and from my head:

I choose the workers’ Red.

Sept 2016

 

A number of the Basque flag, the Ikurrina, flying in Dublin during a solidarity protest. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

A number of the Basque flag, the Ikurrina, flying in Dublin during a solidarity protest. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

 

 

Anarcho-Sindicalist and Anarchist black flags (Photo source: Internet)

Anarcho-Sindicalist and Anarchist black flags
(Photo source: Internet)

bagladeshi-women-men-red-flags-mayday

Bangladeshis on Mayday demonstration. (Photo source: Internet)

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FIVE USA VISITORS IN ONE DAY

Diarmuid Breatnach

On Sunday in Dublin on my travels I conversed (about more than directions) on three different occasions with visitors from the United States and found a wide range of attitudes.

BOSTON, LARKIN AND THE COPS

The first of these was with an elderly couple outside Kilmainham Gaol Museum. The man had “Boston” displayed on his T-shirt and I started talking about Dennis Lehane’s novel “The Given Day”, which is set in Boston and which I had just finished reading. They had read it, really liked it and told me it was the first of a trilogy to which I responded that I would certainly be looking for the follow-ups.

Jim Larkin's "mug shots" when charged with "criminal anarchism" in New York 1919 (he served time in Sing Sing penitentiary). (Photo sourced Internet)

Jim Larkin’s “mug shots” when charged with “criminal anarchism” in New York 1919 (he served time in Sing Sing penitentiary).
(Photo sourced Internet)

I talked about Lehane’s slant towards the cops as opposed to the revolutionaries and how of course my slant would be the other way but that in any case Lehane had not done his research on Larkin, who figures in the novel with other revolutionaries and radicals. Lehane refers to Larkin’s “gin-breath” but Big Jim was well known as a teetotaler, which I explained to them.

Then I talked a bit about the Irish Citizen Army that Larkin had founded with James Connolly and others, how they grew up out of the 1913 Lockout/ Strike and that Larkin had served time in Sing Sing prison later as a punishment for his revolutionary oratory in the USA.

I didn’t get the feeling that I and the two Bostonians were in agreement with my revolutionary sympathies but certainly did when it came to the workers fighting the Lockout in 1913. We parted amicably as they went off to enjoy some more of their holiday.

(Photo sourced Internet)

(Photo sourced Internet)

The Jim Larkin monument in O'Connell Street today/ El monumento de Jim Larkin in la Calle O'Connell hoy en día

The Jim Larkin monument in O’Connell Street today (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Encounter No.2 took place in Cornucopia, into which I had dropped for a cup of coffee.

I took my ‘Americano’ to a vacant table. The one next to me became vacant for awhile and was then occupied by an elderly lady who left her handbag open next to me. I advised her that was an unwise thing to do in Dublin and she remarked. in US accent upon the Leonard Peltier badge that I had been unconsciously wearing all day, so we talked about his case for awhile. She didn’t seem sympathetic to the FBI and expressed horror at the treatment of Peltier, now approaching his 40th year in prison for an act of which he was unjustly convicted.

The lady asked me for advice about literary events in Dublin and as she was, sadly, leaving the day before Culture Night, all I could suggest was a visit to Books Upstairs, where someone might be able to advise her. After I jotted down the address and a rough map for her, I left.

THE DEVIL AND THE TRUMPETTES

It was my intention to attend later that evening the Song Central session, on their first night back after their summer break. Song Central is a monthly gathering of singers and listeners upstairs in Chaplin’s pub, across from the Screen cinema. But I needed to eat first and so headed for a burrito in Pablo Picante, a small place serving Mexican food in Temple Bar (well, at the western end of Fleet Street).

Sitting eating my burrito and facing out into the street, I noticed passers-by pointing at the window and laughing. I could have become paranoid except it was clear that they were pointing to an image painted on the window further to my left. Then a late 30s or early 40s couple who in their style looked kind of to the Left maybe laughed at the image and took photos. The female whipped out a lipstick and wrote something over the painting, then had the man take a photo of her next to what she had written.

Curiosity had me now and after they wandered off, I went outside and saw that the painting on the window was a caricature of US Presidential candidate Donald Trump and underneath it the artist had written in big letters “DIABLO”. Of course, that would be because Trump wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico due to the negative impact he accuses Mexican migrants of having on the US, which Trump wants to “make great again”.  And he has also impugned a US Judge’s ability to rule impartially on his case, due to the judge’s Mexican heritage.

The painting in the window of the Pablo Picante burrito restaurant in Fleet St. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

The painting in the window of the Pablo Picante burrito restaurant in Fleet St.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

The woman had scrawled something along the lines of “He’s not, we love him” with a heart sign on a part of the painting – clearly far from being Lefties!

I went back inside, got a serviette, came outside and rubbed off her comment, then back inside to continue my assault on the burrito.

Not long after, I was not a little surprised to see the woman and the man standing outside again. She noticed the removal of her comment and commenced to write again. I went to the counter to tell the staff what was going on and returned to find the woman inside, leaning on my jacket on the window shelf and working on rubbing out the painting from the inside!

My challenge on what did she think she was doing elicited the response that Donald Trump was going to be (or might be?) their next President and that the painting was disrespectful. I stood between her and the painting, telling her that we have free speech in this country (which is not strictly true but as the nearest weapon I could reach ….) and just kept repeating it. Then the guy came in and told me I had “no idea”. He kept repeating that and I kept repeating the “free speech” stuff, alert in case he took his case into the physical arena (and he looked fit, too). I also wondered what I would do if instead, it was the woman who attacked me. But they left soon afterwards.

Soon after, a member of staff (Mexican, presumably) went outside and rubbed off her comment, returning with a wry smile.

SINGING THE USA

At the Song Central session later that evening, post-burrito and post Trumpettes, the theme happened to be about the USA, songs from there or about travelling there etc, it being the anniversary of the “9/11” attack on the Twin Towers. If I’d remembered about the theme, I’d have learned the Allende song recorded by Moving Hearts, or brushed up on the lyrics of “Hey Ronnie Reagan” by Christie Moore. Because “9/11” ( in 1973) is also the anniversary of the CIA-instigated military coup in Chile, which over time claimed the lives of 32,000 people.

Interestingly, most of the song contributions during the night that referred to the USA (and most of them did, though people are not obliged to follow the theme), were critical of the US state, whether because of its endemic racism towards blacks and Latinos or its genocide towards the First People, or because of its wars. One song I felt pretty sure would be sung – and it was — was about the firemen on 9/11 running up the stairs of the doomed building while occupants ran down – a powerful song about the heroism of a section of public service emergency workers.

Luckily I could remember some US song material and sang “The Ludlow Massacre” and “How Can I Keep From Singing”, both composed in the US: one written by a revolutionary and the other adapted in the US by a progressive singer.

I had set out that day without remembering the significance of the date for the USA and yet throughout the day had a significant level of engagement with people from the US and, at the end of the day, with the terrible event itself.

End.

Postscript:

On Tuesday, while taking a photo of the Trump caricature in the window to accompany this piece, another US couple began to talk to me.  The man opened with: “The man IS a devil” (referring to Trump).  

I remarked that Trump was not going to get elected but his role would be to make Clinton look good, then she could carry on bombing and invading countries if she got elected, no problem.

The woman told me they didn’t like Clinton either.  They were from Boston and the man and his father before him had been union organisers.  He was complained about the weakness of the unions nowadays.  

We talked about cops breaking strikes in the USA in the 1930s and how the cops themselves went on strike in Boston during that period.  He talked about what the cops are like nowadays against pickets and demonstrations, militarised ….

ANTI-INTERNMENT CAMPAIGNERS AT FORMER JAIL

Diarmuid Breatnach

The Dublin Anti-Internment Committee organised an information table on Internment outside the Kilmainham Jail Museum on Sunday 11th September 2016.  The purpose of the exercise was to make tourists and other visitors aware of the ongoing repression and civil rights abuse that is going on in Ireland which is internment by another name.  As their leaflet points out, Republicans opposed to the British colonialism or to economic attacks on their communities and who organise against them are being targeted in a process that sees them arrested, charged with ‘terrorist’ offences, refused bail (or granted only attendant by ridiculous restrictions) and then, when the case against them collapses much later and they are freed, they will still have spent years in jail.

Anti-internment campaigners line up for a photo with clenched fists (Photo: Ian O'Kelly)

Anti-internment campaigners line up for a photo with clenched fists (Photo: Ian O’Kelly)

The Dublin Committee, affiliated to the Anti-Internment Group of Ireland, mobilised outside the former jail in the afternoon, displayed their banners and gave out leaflets to passers-by, tourists and visitors (not all who were from outside Ireland, by any means).

Kilmainham Jail is a Dublin prison with an important history.  It was built before the Great Hunger and housed female and male prisoners, including children.  Insurgents and political activists from the United Irishmen, they Young Irelanders, the Fenians, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War had been kept here, including those being deported to Australia.  Robert Emmet and Anne Devlin were kept prisoner here, as were Charles Stewart Parnell and most of the Irish Parliamentary Party’s leadership.  All fourteen of the 1916 sixteen executed were judicially killed in this jail and women activists were jailed here after the 1916 Rising and during the Civil War.

Campaign information table (Photo: Ian O'Kelly)

Campaign information table (Photo: Ian O’Kelly)

Plaza in front of old Kilmainham courthouse, which is the new entrance to the Jail Museum. (Photo: Ian O'Kelly)

Plaza in front of old Kilmainham courthouse, which is the new entrance to the Jail Museum.
(Photo: Ian O’Kelly)

The Jail closed in 1924 and was falling into disrepair; the State invited tenders for its demolition but felt that those they received were too expensive and so just left the building abandoned to ruin.  However a local restoration committee got going, raised some money and began repair and restoration work with volunteer labour, skilled and unskilled.

In 1966, in time for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, the restoration committee handed over the building to the State which, since then, has seen a huge attendance with nearly 330,000 visitors last year.  Recent works moved the front entrance of the museum to the former courthouse building next door and a reported €5 is being spent on revamping the facility.

 

end.

Some of the campaigners were younger than others (Photo: Ian O'Kelly)

Some of the campaigners were younger than others (Photo: Ian O’Kelly)

The emblem of the Unitied Kingdom on the courthouse roof -- this remains on a number of buildings in Dublin from the centuries of British occupation of the city. (Photo: D. Breatnach)

The emblem of the Unitied Kingdom on the courthouse roof — this remains on a number of buildings in Dublin from the centuries of British occupation of the city. (Photo: D. Breatnach)

(Photo: Ian O'Kelly)

(Photo: Ian O’Kelly)

 

Closer view of the emblem of the United Kingdom (Photo: Ian O'Kelly)

Closer view of the emblem of the United Kingdom on the courthouse roof
(Photo: Ian O’Kelly)

Side of the front of Kilmainham Jail (Photo: D.Breatnach)

Side view of the front of Kilmainham Jail and some of the campaigners
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

various-in-picket-line

Some of the campaigners with the Courthouse building stretching away from behind them.

The Ministry of Heritage is taking care of Moore Street

 

 

The irish state's Ministry of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs is facilitating speculators' plans to demolish the Moore Street 1916 Historical Quarte (with the exception of four houses) in order that they may build a giant shopping centre (mall). (Non-revenue copying welcome but acknowledgement expected)

The Irish state’s Ministry of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs is facilitating speculators’ plans to demolish the Moore Street 1916 Historical Quarte (with the exception of four houses) in order that they may build a giant shopping centre (mall).
(Non-revenue copying and distribution welcome but acknowledgement of source expected)

FIRST PEOPLE WARRIOR JEAN-ANN DAY WALKS ON

Diarmuid Breatnach

Jean-Ann Day, who has just died, visited Dublin in January 2012 to help push an international campaign to free Leonard Peltier, also a warrior of the First People and longest-serving prisoner in the US after a travesty of a trial in 1977.

Jean-Ann speaking at picket on the US Embassy in Dublin in solidarity with Leonard Peltier. The photographer's back is to the Embassy.

Jean-Ann speaking at picket on the US Embassy in Dublin in solidarity with Leonard Peltier. The photographer’s back is to the Embassy.

Jean-Ann Day — photo placed with her official obituary on funeral home site

Due to a family tragedy hitting her contact here I had to step in as Jean-Ann’s contact but it was an honour for me. I progressed arrangements and took her to see Joan Collins TD and arranged for a radio interview with a program on Near FM.

I remember that on our way across the Liffey, Jean-Ann took a pinch of tobacco and offered it to the river with a prayer. The Gaels also thought of their rivers as divine, most of them goddesses. Although an atheist, to my thinking such belief systems seem greatly superior to those that think it fine to convert a river into a sewer or a toxic waste outlet.

On Saturday 4th February 2012 a small crowd of varied political backgrounds, including a significant proportion of independents, staged a protest outside the US Embassy in Ballsbridge as part of a world-wide week of protests seeking Peltier’s release. Jean-Ann delivered a simple speech there that I believe reached into the heart of every one of the participants as it did into mine.obama-free-peltier-placard

Poster produced for the Dublin solidarity picket of the US Embassy (regret the name of the artist does not come to mind at the moment)

Poster produced for the Dublin solidarity picket of the US Embassy (regret the name of the artist does not come to mind at the moment)

A small musical evening in Dublin organised by supporters was another occasion at which she appeared and I understood she went to Belfast and Derry too.

Jean-Ann, warrior for justice has walked on and left us her memory. Her former comrade, another warrior, Leonard Peltier, remains in jail in serious ill-health.

Peltier is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary of Coleman in Florida and given that he is 72 years of age and that his next scheduled parole hearing will be in July 2024, it is clear that the FBI and USA state want him leaving jail only in a coffin. Barring appeals, parole or presidential pardon, his projected release date is October 11, 2040.

 

 End

Jean-Ann Day, Bear Clan of the Ho-Chunk Nation, age 65 of Stevens Point, Wisconsin walked on Sunday, September 4, 2016 at the University…

APPENDIX

Leonard Peltier Regarding the Passing of Jean-Ann Day

When I heard the news of Jean’s passing I was both saddened and surprised. I did not know she was ill. If I had known I would have reached out to her and tried to support her in any way I could.

Jean was a true friend to me for all the years I knew her. Her passing reminds me of so many things back in those days at Oglala so long ago.

She was a such a bright light and a young woman full of courage who came to Oglala without hesitation to join us in protecting the elders there. And she did so much work to free me from prison all these years. I am grateful to her for that.

Poster in the style of Jim Fitzpatrick's famous Che Guevara poster (Regret artist unknown to me)

Poster in the style of Jim Fitzpatrick’s famous Che Guevara poster (Regret artist unknown to me)

Over the years here I have thought of her often and in my dreams of freedom there were always a few faces I expected to see if I ever walked out of here. Jean’s was one of them.

I know she was doing wonderful work in the effort to bring healing and positive change to her Ho-Chunk people and I was always proud of her for that.

I regret that I could not be there for her ceremonies so I could offer comfort to her children and grandchildren, but I can only send these few heart-felt words.

You were a great woman and your life made a real difference to me… and to so many others.

Rest in peace, my dear friend. ‘Til I see you again.

Doksha,

Leonard Peltier

 

Part of the gathering at the US Embassy in solidarity with Peltier and seeking his urgent release in 2012

Part of the gathering at the Dublin US Embassy in solidarity with Peltier and seeking his urgent release in 2012