PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW IN THE SPANISH PARLIAMENT

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 3 mins.)

Minister of the Interior for the PSOE-Podemos coalition, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, ex-judge of the National Court.
(Photo source: Publico.es)

Newcomers to Spanish politics witnessing the recent sound and fury in the Spanish Parliament might conclude that there was a real battle going on between a reactionary Right and a progressive Left but they’d be right only about the existence of a reactionary Right. The same newcomers might then remark that well, the opponents of the reactionary Right must at least be liberals and they’d be wrong about that too.

          Parliamentary delegates from the reactionary Right – and that is to call them much less than the reality – were sharply criticising the Spanish coalition Government. The senior partner in the coalition is the Partido Socialista Obrero which, as has on occasion been commented, is neither “socialista” nor “obrero” and while its junior partner Podemos has left-wing credentials coming from the mainly Trotskyist (and Communist Party-managed) Izquierda Unida, it has to keep up an accommodation with the PSOE.

The parties of the Right in this case were the Partido Popular, which was created to represent erstwhile supporters of the deceased fascist dictator General Franco, along with Ciudadanos, which was founded by former supporters of the PP. The fascist Vox party comes from the same stable but with less democratic pretence.

The criticisms of the Spanish coalition Government on this occasion were mostly with regard to the sacking on Monday of the chief of the Guardia Civil in Madrid, Colonel Diego Perez de los Cobos. The Guardia Civil is a paramilitary police force, which is to say it is organised along military lines and has been the main instrument of State repression during Franco’s dictatorship (1939-1975) and since. It was mainly they, for example that invaded Catalonia to beat up voters during the October 2017 Referendum on independence there and shot the banned rubber bullets at demonstrators and in fact the sacked officer led that operation.

The sacking occurred allegedly because on behalf of a Madrid magistrate, the Guardia Civil carried out an investigation of a number of political demonstrations in Madrid which it alleged had violated the pandemic restrictions and even contributed to the spread of virus, even though they had predated the Lockdown. The investigation, it is also being alleged, was in order to check whether the Health Minister’s actions regarding the pandemic had been appropriate or not.

In order to bolster their investigations, the Guardia Civil had claimed that the World Health Organisation had declared a pandemic in January whereas in fact it had only done so on March 11th (the Government ordered the lockdown on the 14th). The public events the Guardia Civil were investigating with a view to prosecution were mostly democratic or left-wing, including a march to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8th) and to denounce male violence against women (and the State’s two-level crime of rape) but also included a cavalcade organised by the fascist Vox party.

The Right generally is no friend of women’s rights but more to the point feels duty-bound to defend the Guardia Civil, acting as though they own it (which is not that far from the truth). However the PSOE has had no difficulty in sending the Guardia Civil to attack the Basques or Catalans in the past. And while in government in the 1980s, the PSOE’s Minister of the Interior along with some senior police and Guardia Civil officers were exposed running the GAL terrorist group against the Basques and had to spend some time in jail. The person widely suspected of having set the whole thing up, the Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, was not even questioned by the investigators, no doubt for fear of what might come to light.

That Fernando Grande-Marlaska is the Minister of the Interior under current attack in Parliament for allegedly being unfair to the Guardia Civil points out in full the irony of the situation. This is one of the Judges of the Spanish National Court most denounced by Basques for attacking their democratic rights and of at least turning a blind eye to their torture, while sentencing them to long terms in prison on the basis of their “confessions” and Guardia Civil “evidence”. Another of those ex-judges considered infamous by many Basques is also of the PSOE, Baltazar Garzon, beloved of many left and liberal people because he agreed to process an international crimes against humanity accusation against Pinochet and also ordered the exhumation of a mass grave of victims of fascists and military (Spain has more mass graves than any other territory except Cambodia). Neither of those two cases came to fruition, unlike the violation of the civil and human rights of thousands of Basques and the torture of hundreds under his watch.

PUNCH AND JUDY PUPPET SHOW

          In the Punch & Judy traditional dramas, Punch carries out a murder or two but, unlike some of the children watching it perhaps, we know that the puppet performance is not describing a real event. Of course, the Right in the Spanish state DID carry out murders – they have a list of 100,000-200,000 to their ‘credit’, most actually after the fighting of the Spanish Anti-Fascist War. And an additional number to force through the Transition to nominal democracy and more afterwards by ‘unofficial’ GAL and official Guardia Civil operations, mostly against Basques.

Punch & Judy puppets
(Photo sourced: Internet)

The historic fact is that all left-wing organisations, even the social-democratic PSOE were banned during the Dictatorship. In order to stabilise the State and prevent its overthrow by the oppressed masses during the mid-1970s, it had to have the help of the Left. The Partido Comunista de España controlled a huge militant illegal trade union organisation, the Comisiones Obreras, while the PSOE controlled the smaller but substantial Unión General de Trabajadores (which it does still) – no setup would be safe unless they were brought on board. They were legalised and supported the new Constitution, even accepting the imposed monarchy and the “Pact of Amnesia”, under which all those guilty of tortures and murders under Franco walked free.

This is why there is some heat in the exchanges in the Spanish Parliament but no substance. The thinking of the Right goes something like this: “We had to legalise you and allow you into government but that doesn’t mean we have to even pretend to like you.” While the PSOE thinks: “You tortured and murdered our grandparents but we will share power with you and tolerate much of your antics. We all depend on one another. But sometimes you go too far and have to be restrained. For your own good as well as ours.”

And what does Podemos and Izquierda Unida think, while they share a government with the PSOE? And does any of this make any real difference to the situation of the mass of Spanish people or to those nations imprisoned within the state?

end.

Mariaon Rajoy, former Prime Minister and ex-leader of the right-wing PP, shakes hands with Sanchez of the PSOE in a pre-Pandemic Spanish Parliament.
(Photo sourced: Internet)

REFERENCES

https://www.publico.es/politica/caso-perez-cobos-guardia-civil-testimonios-manipulados-omitio-informacion-clave-informe-8-m.html

https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-05-26/spanish-civil-guard-official-sacked-over-covid-19-report.html

SPANISH STATE BEGINS TO PLUNDER BANK ACCOUNTS OF THE PEOPLE’S TAVERNS

(Reading time: 2 minutes)

Diarmuid Breatnach

The Herriko Tabernak (People’s Taverns) are a feature of Basque Society, in particular in the Southern Basque Country, i.e the part under Spanish control. Founded by members of the Abertzale (pro-Independence) Left, run by supporters and frequented by sympathisers, they have been a place to have a drink and some pintxos, have a coffee and chat with friends, hold social events and large group meals, as well as occasional meetings. The Spanish State is now seizing their funds.

One of the Herriko Tabernak in Bilbo, this one in Errondabide, Casco Viejo; view from the back towards the entrance and street. Photo: D.Breatnach 2015)

          In 2016 the Audencia Nacional, the Spanish National Court, handed down a judgement that the funds of these taverns are forfeit, in what the Abertzale Left party Sortu called “the greatest political and economic plunder since the Civil War”. This is a reference to the wide-scale misappropriation of funds, machinery and land of the losers of that war by the victors, General Franco and his supporters. The wealth of many individuals and families in the Spanish State today can be traced back to that theft.

They will not be served alcohol! Parents often meet at the Herriko for a while after collecting their children from the Basque-language pre-schools.
(Photo: D.Breatnach 2015)

While a number of these taverns were closed down in the past, most kept going, supported by their loyal clientele and local communities. Although the punitive judgement of the Audiencia against the Herrikos was in 2016, its origin dates back further to the reign of one of the Audencia’s ex-judges, Baltazar Garzon, who infamously claimed that every aspect of Basque independent expression was linked to the armed organisation ETA. Baltazar, loved by liberals, claimed that “everything is ETA”, under which dictum homes were raided, activists tortured and jailed on their “confessions”, political organisations banned, social and cultural centres closed, along with newspapers, radio stations and social media.

Arrano Herriko Taberna, Zarautz, Gipuzkoa province, southern Basque Country.  Banner above it calls for freeing of the officially-recognised Abertzale Left political prisoners.
(Photo: D.Breatnach, 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some modest afternoon pintxos available in the Errrondabide Herriko (Photo: D.Breatnach 2015)

EXPROPRIATION TAKES PLACE DURING A MILITARISED LOCKDOWN

          This expropriation is taking place, as commented the left-wing media Izquierda Diario, in the midst of an emergency pandemic lockdown in which more than 7,000 sanctions in little over a month have been applied by the military and police who are in charge of and patrol the streets. (Unlike Ireland and many other countries, people in the Spanish State are not permitted to take exercise outside their homes, whether maintaining social distances or not).

While the judicial apparatus cannot process the massive claims of illegal dismissals, unpaid wages, unpaid ERTEs” (temporary compensation for loss of earnings due to the pandemic) commented the Diario, “or thousands of resources for fines during these days for the restrictions of the pandemic, yes there is time to seize the money of more than 100 taverns.”

COMMENT

Cafe esnea and “Bring the prisoners home” serviettes, Herriko Taberna.
(Photo: D.Breatnach 2015)

          While it is true that in many areas there are privately-owned bars sympathetic to the movement and that also in many areas dissenters from the line of the Abertzale Left official leadership decline to use the Herrikos, nevertheless the disappearance of the latter must entail serious damage to the social and cultural base of the broad Basque independence movement.

end.

Protest against the original judgement by some supporters of the Herriko Taberna of Inpernupe, Zumaia (scene of some of the Game of Thrones footage), Guipuzkoa Province, Southern Basque Country.  Banner declares “Ipernupe will not close!” while another in background declares it is in danger of closing.
(Source photo: Izquierda Diario)

REFERENCE

http://www.izquierdadiario.es/En-Estado-de-Alarma-la-Audiencia-Nacional-incauta-las-cuentas-de-107-herriko-tabernas

BASQUE TRAWLERS AGAINST A SPANISH BATTLECRUISER

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 10 minutes)

The 5th of March is the anniversary of the naval Battle of Cape Machichaco (cabo matxitxakoko borroka, in Euskera/ Basque), which took place on 5 March 1937 off Bermeo (Bizkaia province, Basque Country), during the Spanish Anti-Fascist War, between the Spanish Military-Fascist heavy cruiser Canarias and four Basque Navy trawlers escorting a Republican convoy. The trawlers were protecting the transport ship Galdames, which was sailing to Bilbao with 173 passengers.

Looking from Cabo Matxitxako out to sea and to the French Border dividing the Basque Country.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

(The following account of the battle is from Wikipedia; the section titles and comment are mine)

          On 4 March, four armed trawlers of the Basque Auxiliary Navy section of the Spanish Republican Navy, Bizcaia, Gipuzkoa, Donostia and Nabarra departed from Bayonne, France. Their intention was to defend Galdames‘s mail, passengers, machinery, weapons, supplies and 500 tons of nickel coins property of the Basque government.

The battlecruiser Canarias.
(Photo source: Internet)

Canarias sailed from Ferrol with Salvador Moreno as the captain, with orders to stop the transport ship. Galdames, which was steaming up with the lights and the radio switched off, and was unknowingly left behind by Bizcaya and Gipuzkoa.

FOUR CONVERTED TRAWLERS AGAINST A BATTLE CRUISER

          Next morning, while all the trawlers were watching for Canarias, Galdames rejoined them. Bizcaya‘s captain was Alejo Bilbao, Nabarra‘s Enrique Moreno Plaza from Murcia, and Gipuzkoa‘s Manuel Galdós. The trawlers had the intention of luring Canarias close to the Biscay coast to have the assistance of the coastal batteries.[

The first trawler to spot Canarias was Gipuzkoa, 30 kilometers (19 mi) north of Bilbao. The Basque trawler was hit on the bridge and the forward gun. Return fire from Gipuzkoa killed one Canarias seaman and wounded another. The armed trawler, with five fatalities and 20 injured aboard, managed to approach the coast, where the shore batteries forced Canarias to retreat.

Nabarra and Donostia tried to prevent Canarias from finding Galdames and engaged the cruiser.

The Nabarra during the Battle of Matxitxako, painting by David Cobb.
(Photo source: Internet)

Donostia withdrew from the battle after being fired on by Canarias, but Nabarra faced the enemy for almost two hours. She was eventually hit in the boiler and came to a stop; 20 men abandoned the sinking trawler, while other 29 were lost with the ship, including her captain, Enrique Moreno Plaza.

The transport Galdames, which was hit by a salvo from Canarias and lost four passengers, was eventually captured by the military-fascist cruiser.

Gipuzkoa arrived at Portugalete seriously damaged and Bizcaia headed for Bermeo, where she assisted the Estonian merchantman Yorbrook with a load including ammunition and 42 Japanese Type 31 75 mm mountain guns, previously captured by Canarias and released.

Port town of Bermeo, seen from Cabo Matxitxako.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

Donostia sought shelter in a French port.

AFTERMATH

          The 20 survivors from Nabarra were rescued by the military-fascists and taken aboard Canarias. Instead of the expected hostility and mistreatment, they were given medical assistance, and both the cruiser commander, future Francoist Admiral Salvador Moreno and Captain Manuel Calderón interceded with Franco when the Basque seamen were sentenced to death in retaliation for the shooting of two crewmembers of the armed trawler Virgen del Carmen, captured by Republican sympathizers and diverted to Bilbao in December 1936. The survivors were eventually acquitted and released in 1938.

In contrast, one of the passengers aboard Galdames, Christian Democrat politician Manuel Carrasco Formiguera, from Catalonia, was imprisoned and executed on 9 April 1938.

Map/ diagram of the Battle
(Image source: Internet)

PERSONAL COMMENT

COURAGE, COWARDICE AND CRUELTY

           The story is one of incredible bravery of a number of converted trawlers and their Basque crews, in particular that of the Nabarra and her Captain from Murcia. One account I read related that her Captain consulted his crew and they agreed to fight to the death or the sinking of their ship. Their valour and stubbornness (two qualities which commentators often associate with the Basques) was of such magnitude as to impress  even their military-fascist opponents, to the extent of their interceding with Franco to save their lives.

It is also the story of the cowardice of at least the captain of the Donostia.

And of the bestiality of the military-fascists in the execution of a member of the Catalan Government returning to his country with his family, guilty of no crime but to serve his the administration of his elected republican government (one of hundreds of thousands of such crimes of the miiltary-fascists coupists and their victorious regime).

VISIT TO CAPE MATXITXAKO

           I visited the land part of the location on a number of occasions in recent years. Access by public transport is by a bus every hour but I was driven by friends.

Monument to the Battle of Matxitxako by sculptor Nestor Barrentxea, who is from the nearby port town of Bermeo.  (Photo source: Internet)

On a windy promontory on private land I saw one of the shore artillery battery sites (which has had nothing done to conserve it) and, close enough, the monument to the battle. Not far from there is a local bar-restaurant which is popular and a short trip by car, the iconic hermitage of Gastelugatxe.  Many tourists visit the area but I wonder how many get to hear of the story.

Thinking of the determination and courage of those crews, not even trained for war, in converted trawlers, facing a trained naval crew of a huge battle cruiser, I am not ashamed to say my eyes fill and my lip trembles.

Aerial view of the Matxitxako Cape. (I took my two photos from beside the building furthest to the right).
(Photo source: Internet)

 

end.

247 VICTIMS OF FRANCO REBURIED WITH MEMORIAL

https://www.publico.es/politica/247-victimas-franquismo-llevan-anos-almacen-valladolid-reciben-sepultura.html

(Para el informe en castellano haz clic en el enlace)

(Translated from Castillian by D.Breatnach)

(Reading time: 3 minutes)

MADRID 02/15/2020 1:57 PM ALEJANDRO TORRÚS

          At last. The remains of 247 victims of Franco that have lain in a warehouse in Valladolid for over two years will be buried this Sunday in a memorial constructed within the Carmen cemetery. This will be the end of a long process that began in 2016 with the exhumations of communal graves in the cemetery itself, paralyzed since for a long time by the insistence of UGT to install a bust of Pablo Iglesias Posse. Finally, there will be a memorial, there will be the names of the more than 2,650 fatalities of the province, the 247 bodies recovered and there will be no bust of the founder of UGT and the PSOE.

(Trans: UGT is one of two main Spanish trade unions and is connected to the social democratic PSOE; both were banned — along with many other organisations — during the Franco Dictatorship but since then the PSOE has been in government more than any other party. Valladolid is about halfway between Madrid and the Bay of Biscay).

3) Letter sent by Julián Carlón to his wife and children from the Valladolid prison.- ALEJANDRO TORRÚS

“We want this tribute to be an act of democratic recognition and historical justice to all those who defended the Second Republic regardless of the party in which one was active,” explained Julio del Olmo, president of the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (ARMH) of Valladolid, responsible for the exhumation and custody of the bodies, to Público.

Memorial built in the Carmen cemetery, just a few meters from the location of the graves of the victims of the Dictatorship. (Photo: Valladolid ARMH)

The event will begin at 12.00 noon this Sunday and will include participation of relatives of the victims, the Valladolid writer Gustavo Martín Garzo, musical performances and the presence of the Mayor of Valladolid, Óscar Puente and the Secretary of State for Democratic Memory, Fernando Martínez.

However, the tribute comes too late for many victims. For example, for Saturnina, who passed away a few weeks ago. Her perseverance and struggle and that of her husband facilitated the ARMH in identifying the place where the graves were in the cemetery and proceed to their exhumation. Saturnina was only a child when Franco’s forces shot her father, Julián Carlón, on October 1, 1936.

Saturnina, in fact, barely knew anything about her father. He was four years old when he was taken. “I only remember the day he was taken and the place where he was buried, which my uncle told me about,” she confessed tearfully to this newspaper in September 2019. “I don’t even know how he was killed. I just know he was taken away, that he never came back and that, from that day, there were only tears in my home. My mother never told me about my father because of fear,” she said. However, thanks to the indications of a relative, Saturnina kept a memory of the exact place where the bodies were buried after their execution.

Saturnina & Avilio at home September 2019. Saturnina was 4 years of age when the Francoist forces took her father away and shot him.
(Photo: Torrus)

REMAINS OF THREE WOMEN AND TWO MEN IDENTIFIED

           To date, the Valladolid ARMH has managed to identify “with total security” five of the 247 bodies recovered. These are of three women and two men: Lina Franco Meira; Republican Army sergeant Francisco González Mayoral; the Mayor of Casasola de Arión, Mateo Gómez Díez; and mother and daughter María Doyagüez and María Ruiz Doyagüez.

“Of the four graves with the 247 bodies that we have found, we have only been able to certify those five people to almost 100%. Of many others, we can be almost certain that they correspond to one group or another of those shot, but we cannot name each skeleton. We lack the means and it is a tremendously complicated process,” laments Del Olmo, who, however, points out that the remains of the victims will be well preserved so that, if possible, they continue working on identifications.

Letter from Julián Carlón in Valladolid Prison to his Wife & Children.
(Photo: A. Torrús)

Cases such as that of Lina Franco Meira, which has been identified, are exceptional when 81 years have elapsed since the end of the Civil War. Her bones could be identified thanks to a DNA test sample of one of her daughters, 93 years old. An exceptional case of longevity that has allowed name and surname to be given to some bones and, in addition, allows us to believe that among the rest of those sharing her grave are her other 14 neighbors of the town of Castromocho (Palencia) that were taken along with Lina Franco to Valladolid to be executed and buried.

“SO THAT FRANCO AND AMNESIA DO NOT WIN”

          Franco’s forces not only killed Lina Franco and more than 2,000 people in this province (Castille-Léon). They also tried to erase their names, their life stories and their struggles. Now, 84 years after the coup, a memorial will recover their names and try to spread their fight in defence of Republican values. The challenge, however, continues and consists in being able to identify as many of them as possible so that Franco and amnesia do not win the battle.

End item.

DIMINISHING FAR-RIGHT DEMONSTRATORS BEG GARDA PROTECTION

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 5 minutes) )

After weeks of propaganda and whipping up their support, a much-reduced turnout of the Irish far-Right lined up in front of Leinster House on Saturday 1st February and were confronted by an anti-fascist, anti-racist opposition a little smaller in size but which had been convened by word of mouth alone. There were some scuffles and a couple of arrests and the far-Rightists begged for a Garda escort to leave their protest after little more than one hour.

Confronting one another across Kildare St, far-Right and anti-fascists, seen from a little distance (Photo: D.Breatnach)

“FREE SPEECH”?

          The far-Rightists had called the demonstration allegedly in defence of “free speech”, protesting legislation proposed recently by Fine Gael against “hate speech”. Apart from the fact that the detail of the legislation has not been published yet, most on the non-institutional Left in Ireland and perhaps especially Irish Republicans, would be extremely wary of such widely-framed legislation, known to have been used in other administrations primarily against people denouncing the police, political parties, politicians and even royalty.

However, most Republicans and the non-institutional Left would not agree with the “right to free speech” which the far-Right is seeking, which is the “right” to spout virulent and lying material in the course of their racism, islamophobia, LBGTphobia, attacks on women seeking pregnancy termination or campaigning for the right to choose. In fact, we can trace the public start of the far-Right concern with “free speech” in Ireland to July 2019 when Gemma O’Doherty had her Youtube account suspended and then closed by Google, due to complaints that her racist rants were violating Google’s own standards. A similar case occurred in January in Spain when the relatively new far-Right Spanish party Vox had their Twitter account suspended, after they had accused a municipal education program on equality of “using public funds to promote paedophilia”. (see also FAR RIGHT CHANTS OF “PAEDOS” below for more on this issue).

The far-Right demonstrators with Leinster House in the background.  They fly a lot of Tricolour flags in an attempt to convey themselves as ‘patriotic’.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

Even thinking about the issue for a few seconds will make it clear that there is not and never has been an unfettered right to say whatever one wants in public. Long before there were modern laws against defamation of an individual based on lies, it was forbidden by the Brehon laws (the oldest surviving codified legal system in Europe) which laid down punishment for the offence. Judaic and Christian traditions have it forbidden in the Ten Commandments as have those of many other cultures. The issue is not that all speech should be free but what kind of discourse should be permitted and which should not. And it is precisely that racist discourse, LBGTphobia, Islamophobia and attacks on the rights of women that the Republicans and non-institutional Left oppose, partly for its own sake and partly because it is along those lines that fascism seeks to build itself and split the working people in order to come to rule — in a dictatorship that will soon ban any criticism whatsoever of those in power.

Some confused or misguided Asian anti-blasphemy laws protesters among the far-Rightists, despite the common anti-migration and racist discourse of the far-Right.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

FAR-RIGHT CHANTS OF “PAEDOS”

          Among the exchange of insults between both sides, at one point the far-Rightists were heard to chant “paedos” at their opposition. The word is an abbreviation of the word “paedophiles”, which describes people who sexually abuse children for their own twisted gratification.

Imagine if some of these far-Rightists were in one’s neighbourhood and began to accuse an anti-fascist of being a paedophile! This is one of the ways in which they abuse any right to free speech.

But in any case, what is the basis for this chant? Do they really believe that their opponents are all paedophiles? No, like the Spanish far-Right party Vox referred to earlier, they count LGBT people as equal to paedophiles, i.e people who sexually abuse children. That is how sick their thinking is. Nor do they believe that all their opponents are LGBT themselves but according to the far-Right, the fact that we uphold the right of people to decide their own sexuality and for consenting adults to choose their relationships, makes us the equivalent of those who sexually abuse children!

View of the anti-fascist, anti-racist demonstrators, at the Molesworth St. intersection, viewed northward down Kildare St. (Photo: D.Breatnach)

SURGE, SCUFFLES AND ARRESTS

          At one point, a surge developed among the anti-fascists towards the south of their numbers and the general Gardaí and Public Order unit (the Gardaí are the police force of the Irish state) charged the anti-fascists with batons drawn, with which they struck a number of antifascists. A man reported to be a fascist, on the steps outside a building on the same side of the street as the antifascists, was seen lashing out downwards, presumably at antifascists, with a pair of crutches. At that point the Gardaí restrained him and later it seems arrested him but apparently they had already arrested an anti-fascist. Most of the police dived at the anti-fascists during this brief episode and a few activists were rescued from police hands. However, a fascist who crossed the road from the Leinster House side with a stick, who took a number of swings at anti-fascists, was escorted back across the road by Gardaí, apparently without any attempt to arrest him.

The man seeing striking out at anti-fascists with crutches before being restrained by Gardaí. An antifascist was arrested during this incident.
(Photo: D.Breatnach)

The far-Right rally had been scheduled for 1.00pm and at 2.15 pm they left, having begged the Gardaí for an escort, with which they were provided. Meanwhile, the riot police prevented the anti-fascists from following them.

However, a brief encounter on the quays a little later between small numbers of both groups necessitated the Gardaí once again to protect these “nationalist” warriors.

Yellow Vest Ireland fuhrer Glen Miller seeking escort from senior Garda officer.
(Photo source: antifascist participant)

DIMINISHING AND DESERTED BY LEADERS?

          Those who fancy themselves as the public leaders of the motley crew of the far-Rightists left their acolytes deserted, for apart from Yellow Vest leader and islamophobe Glen Miller, they did not attend. Neither Gemma O’Doherty nor Justin Barrett were to be seen there and the ex-British Army soldier Rowan Croft made only a brief appearance before vanishing.

As mentioned earlier, although extensively publicised in advance, the numbers of the far-Right were significantly down on previous events outside Leinster House, which may point to a limited reservoir of activists in the far-Right in Ireland, also to some inability to sustain an extended program of public events (after all, keyboard activism has been their main activity until recently).

On the other hand, their opponents, using personal contact only to mobilise from among Irish Republicans, Socialists, Anarchists and general Anti-Fascists of different organisations and none, were able to put together a counter-demonstration of a size approaching that of the far-Rightists.

However, it would be unwise to relax. The far-Right is on the rise across most of Europe; the capitalist system world-wide is heading for crisis and at such times turns to fascism to force the working people to pay for the crisis through austerity. In addition, in Ireland we are already in part of an austerity program with the bank bailout draining our taxes, our health service in crisis and no public housing program to counter spiraling homelessness and mortgage debt.

The Gombeens and foreign capitalists who feed on our sweat and blood will hesitate before taking on the working people in this country in an open fight. But with fascists and racists splitting the working people and diverting them from the cause of our woes, that would be a different matter. Continuing vigilance is required, along with mobilisation to counter their public events. But also, education of the people and giving genuine leadership in fighting for a decent life for working people of all ethnic backgrounds in Ireland.

End.

Cropped photo D.Breatnach)

USEFUL LINKS & SOURCES:

Dublin Republicans Against Fascism: https://www.facebook.com/Dublin-Republicans-Against-Fascism-104013457786981/

Anti-Fascist Action Ireland (they published a report from which I took some of the information here, the rest being based on my observation): https://www.facebook.com/afaireland/?

Equality, Racism & Republicanism

Anne Waters

(A talk given at a recent session of the monthly 1916 Performing Arts Club, published by permission of the author)

I want to say a few words on the subject of ‘Equality’ in particular as it pertains to racism. It is a word that is bandied about quite a bit lately and it is in danger of being misappropriated by some factions with their own agenda.

          Now when we speak of equality, one of the most important points to remember is that true equality recognises difference but it apportions an equal value to all difference. Understanding equality therefore is an acceptance that we are not homogenous or in other words we are not all the same.

Also, Equality is not finite so granting rights to one group does not erode the rights of another or reduce their entitlements.

To achieve an egalitarian society is most likely a myth, as society itself, applies a hierarchy to almost every facet of our lives. However, it is the struggle for equality that is important. That struggle has enabled conditions to be put in place that level the playing field and assist the least advantaged to achieve better outcomes.

The introduction of relatively free access to education and the introduction of employment regulations and human rights laws are but some changes that have lessened disadvantage. By striving for equality, and there is a long way to go, we are creating an active democracy by attempting to give equal voice to those from all walks of life regardless of colour, class or creed.

Left photo background: Mixed far-right demonstration outside Dept. Justice, Dublin, early Nov. 2019 — note presence of Irish Tricolour flags to indicate exclusive ‘Irish nationalism’. Left foreground and right of photo: counter-demonstrators. (Source photo: D.Breatnach)

The antithesis of Republicanism

          Now the last number of years has seen a rise in a type of neo- nationalism across the West and Ireland is not immune. This type of nationalism is the antithesis of Republicanism as it seeks to exclude. Republicanism on the other hand seeks to embrace and is inclusive regardless of colour or class.

Far right extremists attempts to engender a sense of unity and nationhood through demonising the ‘other’ and are utilising equality as a weapon.

They ignore the part the West played and continues to play in the perpetuation of poverty and war in Africa, Asia etc and how the consequences of their actions have a direct link to the numbers of refugees seeking asylum.

Instead they purport to speak for the disenfranchised ‘true national’ implying that their taxes are paying for the less deserving and they are ending up with an unequal share as a consequence.

There is a new narrative that promotes the idea that ‘equality and charity begins at home’ and ‘let’s look after our own first’. It hijacks the word ‘equality’ to engender a belief that the rights of the stereotypical national are being diminished.

Anti-Irish migrants racist cartoon, USA, 19th Century.
(Source image: Internet)

Think of our recent presidential election. Peter Casey was trailing in the polls until his vitriolic tirade against Travellers. His support swelled, because he appealed to those who believe they are paying more than their fair share of tax but are still receiving less than, in their minds, an undeserving group such as Travellers. The implication being that there is an inequitable division and they have to wait longer for what is rightly their due.

Brexit is similar in that it developed a narrative around who is the true British person. Why should they allow ‘others’ into their country and use British taxes to house and feed the stranger resulting in longer waiting lists for housing, health etc for the indigenous population. And I emphasise again, the part the West has played in ravaging the countries from which many people now flee is ignored.

I just ask that when someone comes looking for your vote and is spouting the word ‘equality’, just pause a moment and consider how they are using that word. Instead of seeing the richness that our interaction with people of all shades of colour has given to our society, that was once so insular, are some candidates utilising the word equality as a form of discrimination and exclusion?

Fascism and ‘free speech’

          The right to free speech is not without restraint and carries a duty of care. Implicit in any egalitarian society, which gives voice to diverse groups, is respect and tolerance. Fascism and racism therefore have no place in any society struggling for equality as their invective generates hate and creates division and discrimination. Unfortunately the rise in authoritarian leaders such as Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban has given licence (under the guise of freedom) to those who only spout hate.

Leaders of Italian and German fascism in the 1930s — their parties insisted on the right to free speech for them but once in power, imprisoned, tortured and killed their political opponents.
(Source photo: Internet)

Racism

          A comment I have often heard, by mainly white people, is that they never see colour, only the person. This is supposedly well meaning and a display of openness. However, the question has to be asked that if they don’t see black what do they see? In a perverse way they are actually racist as our colour is a signifier of who we are. To refuse to see a person’s colour be it black or any shade is a denial of a fundamental part of identity. Black people are some of the most disadvantaged carrying centuries of oppression and discrimination. If we refuse to see ‘black’ then how can we put conditions in place to alleviate the disadvantage that has accompanied colour?

End.

CORK REBELS FOR PEACE COUNTER FAR-RIGHT RALLY

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 3 minutes)

“THERE ARE MORE OF US THAN THERE ARE OF THE BULLIES”

Learning of the intention of a far-Right coalition to hold a rally at Cork Town Hall on 4th December, a coalition of anti-racists and anti-fascists containing a range of Left and Irish Republican organisations, community and anti-deportation groups organised a counter-rally which dwarfed the numbers of the racists and fascists, who object to migrants, asylum seekers and LBGT people. Two TDs and a number of councillors also attended.

One of the organisers, Tracy Ryan, said that she had her two sons with her at the rally. “I’ve brought up my children to believe that everyone is equal and everyone deserves the same opportunities and chances in life,” she said.

View of counter rally half hour before due to start
(Photo: Students Against Racism)
Placard displayed at counter-rally
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Anti-racist football club supporters at the counter-rally.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

FREE SPEECH?

The specific rallying issue for the far-Right on this occasion, as it was in Dublin on 14th December last year (see https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2019/12/15/dublin-counter-rally-outnumbers-racists-and-fascists/), was the legislation proposed by the Fine Gael Government against “hate speech”. The mixture of social conservatives, racists and fascists that make up the far-Right in Ireland have been complaining for some time that they are being denied freedom of speech, in particular since the most prominent member of their ranks, ex-journalist Gemma O’Doherty, had her two Youtube channels shut down by Google in 2019 after, according to Google, she broadcast racist statements and continued to do so after one of the channels was suspended for a week.

There is a wide variety of views on the proposed legislation outside of the far-Right, some socialists and Republicans remarking that “hate speech” is too wide a label and that they have seen such legislation used against themselves when they denounce prominent politicians or businessmen, the police or Loyalists. What unites all these groups demonstrating against the far-Right is not a defence of the Government’s proposed legislation but a determined opposition to allowing the far-Right to gain a foothold in Ireland, from which it may expand to introduce a fascist regime, reversing gains in social legislation, banning oppositional groups, terrorising minorities and restricting further the rights of unionised workers.

One of the groups on the counter-rally
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
One of the many pointed placards on the counter-rally held by a supporter.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

Opponents of the far-Right point out that they begin by seeking freedom of speech to attack minority groups and their political opponents but once they have established a base, move to physically removing their opposition and banning freedom of speech of anyone who disagrees with them.

“There are more of us than there are of the bullies”, said one of the organising group, speaking to news media the day before the counter-rally. Poet and community worker Kathy D’Arcy added: “We are one people, one human race, one unified city whose people are known throughout the world for kindness, friendliness, good humour and inclusiveness.”

Declan Power of Waterford, organiser of a much smaller rally of the far-Right over the same weekend, rejected the accusation that they were racists or had any other agenda than freedom of speech. However at the event Diarmuid Ó Cadhla, of a group called The People’s Convention, revealed that he wanted to limit migration and was against the Government’s policies which, he alleged, are for “globalisation and open borders”. Presumably this was a reference to one of the conspiracy theories of the far-Right, viz. that the EU allegedly has a policy of opening all borders to mass immigration and replacing the Irish with foreigners. Laughable as this may seem to some and flying against all the evidence as it does, it is believed by some on the far-Right and used to whip up fears and hatred of migrants.

View of far-Right rally over section of counter-rally.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian
Closeup of some of the far-Right group in Cork (Photo: Shamim Melekian)

Woman on counter-rally holds up a placard addressing the far-Right
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

HISTORY OF ANTI-RACIST MARCHES IN CORK

          The rally on 4th January this year was far from being the first anti-racist demonstration in Cork: an anti-racist march took place in March last year and or five years before that, there had been an anti-racist march in Cork every year.

Speaking in advance of the anti-racist march last year, Joe Moore of Cork Says No to Racism pointed out that while racism still exists in Cork, it is “a small number of people who have racist views towards minority religions, asylum seekers Travellers and the Roma community.”

Mr. Moore also pointed out some gaps in State provision, stating that the school books for children contain no mention of the Traveller community in Ireland, which itself has housing and education issues.

There is also a history of fascism in 1930s Cork when the Blueshirt fascist movement was opposed by anti-fascists and socialists inside and outside the IRA. Ironically, while opposition to the Fine Gael Government’s proposed legislation is the purported rallying point for the far-Right, the Blueshirts were one of the three groups that joined to form the Fine Gael party (which is why many opponents of the party call them “Blueshirts” to this day).

Fascist salutes at a Blueshirt rally in 1934 in Charleville, Cork.
(Photo source: History Ireland).

End.

SOURCES & REFERENCES:

Quotation from Kathy D’Arcy: https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/Rally-for-peace-to-take-place-outside-City-Hall-tomorrow-775f0af9-1083-47b3-9920-48a20ec234ac-ds

Irish Times report: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/cork-rejects-politics-of-hate-from-far-right-groups-rally-hears-1.4131626?

Cork Echo report: https://www.echolive.ie/corklives/New-anti-racism-group-takes-to-streets-of-Cork-2cf76e9c-e240-4653-b2a5-084c8d31d57d-ds?fbclid=IwAR1yfgu5qcL-71qJQMk1jzt-NhtbBmJ4VW9hYm1DMQwGKdD9nunl3Ju-O40

Previous anti-racist marches in Cork: https://www.corkindependent.com/news/topics/articles/2019/03/20/4171273-antiracism-rally-planned/

Blueshirt fascist movement with reference to Cork:

https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/eoin-oduffys-blueshirts-and-the-abyssinian-crisis/

https://www.theirishstory.com/2012/05/18/the-blueshirts-fascism-in-ireland/#.XhTtZSOLRsM

Counter-rally supporter mocks conspiracy theory that Soros Foundation is funding all the anti-racist and anti-fascist activists.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Another pointed placard message on the counter-rally.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Woman on counter-rally displaying presumably dire conditions on halting sites for Travellers.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)

 

Women of varied ages and backgrounds applauding speaker at counter rally.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Counter rally supporter sends pointed message on placard
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Young supporter of counter rally sports a T-Shirt display which might become very popular.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)
Section of counter rally on the march through Cork city centre.
(Photo: Shamim Melekian)