“GAELIC IRELAND” WITH A SNEER

Diarmuid Breatnach

 

When one hears or reads the words “Gaelic Ireland”, the reference usually takes one of four forms:

  1. Historical

  2. Geographical-cultural

  3. Nostalgical

  4. Sneering

Historically

Gaelic Ireland”, when used in a historical sense, is a reference to either a time when the majority of Irish people spoke the Irish language (up to 1800 CE many scholars agree) or to a time when the Gaelic order of society was dominant or when the Gaelic Order survived in some part of Ireland (for example up to the Flight of the Earls in 1607) .

Geographically-Culturally

Perhaps used to describe those shrinking parts of Ireland where Irish remains the mother tongue, more normally called the “Gaeltacht” or “Gaeltachtaí”.

Nostalgically

This is a usage which corresponds somewhat to the historical sense above but is also imbued with nostalgia, a regret for what passed then and perhaps a wish to restore it. Despite the accusations of many of those hostile to the Irish language, relatively few people — including among Irish speakers, have any wish to return to that historical period.

Sneeringly

When referred to in this way, it is to link Irish-speaking with out-of-date things, some kind of anachronism, a backward thing, not suitable for our modern society; frequently linked also to Irish nationalism and De Valera’s concept of the desirable kind of society for Ireland and the 1937 Constitution, therefore linked also to the social and political dominance of the Catholic Church. Such a disdainful attitude is often connected to the disparaging way in which a person may speak about a “Gaeilgeoir” — it is as though the person referring to the Gaeilgeoir, which originally meant only “Irish language speaker”, has in mind a devout Catholic wearing an Aran jumper and generally unfashionable clothes and hairstyle, with a gold “fáinne” (a ring-shaped pin awarded for proficiency in Irish) in his or her jacket (probably Irish tweed).

I fear that this type of attitude is present in most enunciations of “Gaelic Ireland” — certainly outside those of the historical sense.

Although by no means associating the writer of a recent article with this contemptuous opinion of Irish speakers, there was more than a hint of a disparaging attitude expressed, in my opinion, in an article much-praised by many Republicans and some socialists, commenting on the racist expressions of some people after the recent lethal incident in Drogheda recently. Dieter Reinisch, whom I understand to be a left-wing Irish Republican, wrote to separate Irish racist commentators on the recent fatal incident in Drogheda from Irish Republicanism.

The article had a progressive intent and made some valuable points but it also linked this Irish racism with “Gaelic Ireland nationalism”1. Although the article does this through reference to individuals it smears “Gaelic Ireland” through doing so. I would doubt that those Irish racists were even Irish speakers, never mind campaigners for the retention of the language.

IRISH NATIONALISM AND REPUBLICANISM

Reinisch is of course correct historically to say that Irish Republicanism is not fundamentally linked to “Gaelic Ireland” but what is the point he is making? Irish nationalism as a force, in the sense of wanting and acting to achieve an Ireland under its own cultural-social order and not under the economic, social and political rule of a foreign power, can be traced as far back as the time of the O’Neill and O’Donnell partnership, who tried to unite the clans of the native people, the Gael, to oust English occupation from Ireland. They came close to succeeding but in the end, failed and with their exile and that of other Irish clan chiefs the Gaelic Order of society collapsed. The Gaelic Order by the way was in many ways socially superior to that of the feudal Norman invaders, which is one reason why most of the invaders adopted so much of it that, less than two centuries after the start of their invasion of Ireland, their England-based relatives called them “the degenerate English” and passed laws to forbid their adoption of Irish custom and law and end their integration into Gaelic Ireland.2

Irish nationalism continued to try to assert itself, finding large-scale expression at two particular moments in the 17th Century – firstly against Cromwell and secondly against William of Orange. Irish nationalism at that point fought in alliance with the Gall-Ghael, the Irish-speaking or bilingual descendants of the Norman invaders (“the degenerate English”, according to their England-based relatives in 1366), who were mostly concerned with preserving and defending their religion against the imposition of the English Reformation.

A kind of Irish nationalism later began to develop among the colonial settlers, a similar type to that expatriate or colonist nationalism developing among the colonists of Northern America and of what is now called Latin America. Since what made them Irish rather than English, Welsh or Scots was that they lived in Ireland (and for many, had been there for a few generations), they looked through the history of Gaelic Ireland to establish a historical background. They organised the Granard Harp Festival in 1786 and the Belfast Harp Festival in 1792. Edward Bunting noted down the airs played at the latter and published a collection in 1796 (and twice again over following decades).

The colonists of North and Latin America did not, for the most part, incorporate the original natives into their new nationalism3. They did not incorporate them in Ireland either but the United Irishmen did have that as their program and they did try to make it a reality. When Grattan’s attempt to open the Anglican-sectarian Irish Parliament to Presbyterians and Catholics failed through bribery and fear of Anglicans being outvoted, of planters losing the lands their ancestors had grabbed, the United Men became convinced that only armed insurrection could bring about a majority (male) democracy and Irish control of Irish affairs. And the symbol on their flag was that of Gaelic Ireland: the Harp. Underneath it, they had the words: “It is new-strung and shall be heard”.

United Irishmen Harp Motif
(Image sourced on Internet)

Reinisch in his article quotes approvingly on three separate occasions from the writings and speeches of Seán Ó Brádaigh. It might surprise some readers to know that this same Ó Brádaigh and his brother the late Ruairí, were Irish-speakers and writers and promoted the speaking of the language. They were for a Gaelic Ireland, albeit a Republican one. They and the organisation they helped create, Provisional Sinn Féin and Provisional IRA, unfortunately in many ways bowed to the influence of the Catholic Church, even though the hierarchy and many clergy denounced them continuously. Mac Stiofáin, who also gets a mention in Reinisch’s article, told me once that although he believed Church and State should be separated, in true republican fashion, also maintained that there should be no freedom to propagandise against religion!

Could Irish Republicanism in the 1700s not have adopted the language of the majority of the people? Some did indeed learn Irish and probably most Ulster Presbyterians, at least outside Belfast city, were at least competent in the basics up to 1798 and many probably fluent. It is hard to imagine that anyone living in Mayo in that year, whether planter or native, was not conversant with the Irish language and certainly it would have been the language of the vast majority there and in the surrounding counties. Wexford is generally agreed an exception by historians, in having been the most Anglicised of Irish counties in 1798.

English was the dominant language of the State and of the colonist administration. But also of the United Irishmen leaders, we can assume – certainly it was the dominant language of their political discourse as recorded in both their own publications and in the reports of the Crown spies and witnesses. Radical and revolutionary ideas were coming in from Revolutionary France and from the revolutionaries of the United States, as Reinisch relates but also very importantly from England – for example Tom Paine’s “The Rights of Man”. The native Irish were either totally excluded from the strata of society where – and the language in which — these ideas were being discussed or they occupied a much more insecure position in which they tried to improve their situation through English without calling down disfavour or even repression upon themselves. There was probably a strata which tried to advance itself under colonial rule and considered that Irish would ‘hold them back’.

There is very little contemporary folk record in existence in Irish of the United Irishmen and one must go to Mícheál Óg Ó Longáin4, Irish language scholar, poet and Unitedman who was “out” or “up” that fateful year, to find his “Buachaillí Loch Garman” (“the Boys of Wexford”) and lyrics of “Sliabh na mBan” to the song’s wonderful air …. and probably “Maidin Luan Chincíse” too.5

The Rising of 1798 failed as did Emmet’s attempt in 1803. Irish Republicanism and Irish nationalism continued to exist and were partly asserted by O’Connell’s campaigns for Catholic civil rights and repeal of the Union as well as by trends such as those of Mitchell and the “Young Irelanders”, most of the latter being Protestants and often hostile to what they saw as O’Connell’s linking Irish nationalism to Catholicism. Mitchell was not a democratic republican but other Young Irelanders were.

Here again, the creation (or renewal) of an Irish nationalism did not incorporate the Irish language although there were nods in its direction. Again, most of its leaders were Protestants but they looked back, as others of colonist background had before, to a Gaelic Ireland. Take Thomas Davis’ celebration of the 1798 uprising in Mayo:

That chainless wave and lovely land 
Freedom and nationhood demand; 
Be sure the great God never planned 
For slumb’ring slaves a home so grand. 
And long a brave and haughty race 
Honoured and sentinelled the place. 
Sing, Oh! not even their sons’ disgrace 
Can quite destroy their glory’s trace. 

For often, in O’Connor’s van, 
To triumph dashed each Connacht clan. 
And fleet as deer the Normans ran 
Thro’ Corrsliabh Pass and Ardrahan; 
And later times saw deeds as brave, 
And glory guards Clanricard’s grave, 
Sing, Oh! they died their land to save 
At Aughrim’s slopes and Shannon’s wave. 

Davis here looks to the history of the Gaelic clans of Connacht resisting foreign invasion, incorporating also the mostly Gaelicised Norman-Irish clan of Clanricarde, the Mac Williams who became Burkes or De Búrca.

It is well to remember, particularly for those who link “Gaelic Ireland” with Irish Catholic nationalism, that many of those prominent in the latter category had no time for the Irish language – in fact, on that issue at least, they would have seemed very at home among those today who say the words “Gaelic Ireland” with a sneer. Daniel O’Connell, who was a native Irish speaker and apparently spoke only Irish until five years of age, stated that he was “sufficiently utilitarian not to regret ….. the gradual abandonment” (of the Irish language) – and this at a time when probably 40% of the country’s population were Irish-speaking.

Portrait of Daniel O’Connell, campaigner for Catholic rights and the repeal of the Union — but no lover of the Irish language
(Image source: Internet)

Irish nationalism and republicanism continued as a strong thread through Irish history, peaking again in the late 19th Century with the Fenians. The Irish Republican Brotherhood or ‘Fenians’ as we know them in that period today contained many Irish-speakers including the famous O’Donabháin Rosa, who wrote his biography in Irish but the Irish language was still not their main language of political literature.

Some of the IRB were deeply working class and they were accepted into the First International Working Men’s Association in England, championed by Marx and Engels (the latter was learning Irish with the intention of writing a history of Ireland which sadly he did not bring to fruition). In the USA also most of the Fenians would have been working class although they included some of the upper middle class among the Irish diaspora. The Fenian conspiracy in Ireland was discovered and plans for insurrection largely upset, leaders and journalists arrested and the military units considered at risk sent away out of Ireland.

IRISH LANGUAGE REVIVAL

Another kind of Irish nationalism saw a resurgence in the later years of the 20th Century and, again, it was the Anglo-Irish, descendants of planters and mostly Protestant, who were the intelligentsia leading it. A kind of antiquarian and romantic interest in the Irish language and culture was followed by a more practical and restorative one and the Gaelic League (now Connradh na Gaeilge) was founded in 1893 by a group led by Douglas Hyde (Dubhghlas de hÍde)6, an Anglican and son of Anglican clergy, who became fluent in the language. This was followed in 1898 with the founding of the Irish Texts Society, a publishing initiative with Hyde as one of the founders and its publication of Dineen’s thick dictionary, Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla, which was first published in 1904 (and still a wonderful source of words and phrases).

The Gaelic League promoted Irish dance, games and culture in addition to the language. Although Hyde’s passion for an Ghaeilge originated in his childhood and early adolescence in Co. Roscommon, he graduated in 1884 as a Moderator in Modern Literature from Trinity College, Dublin, where he had became fluent in French, Latin, German, Greek and Hebrew.

The League/ Connradh grew fast, branches and courses attracting not only the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and upper middle classes but also other social strata. In fact it became a mass movement, with 600 branches in 1903 and through its influence the language was introduced to 1,300 national schools.7

A year later, Conradh na Gaeilge’s membership extended to some 50,000 members in 600 branches8, probably assisted by rising nationalist feeling but in turn it certainly fed that outlook. As a mass movement, it took in professionals and others of middle-class background, as well as labourers and tradesmen.

Among the many prominent Irish nationalists and Republicans (called “progressive nationalists” at the time) of those years was Patrick Pearse/ Pádraig Mac Piarais and Reinisch reminds us that his father was not Irish. Son of a Cornishman and Unitarian who formally converted to Catholicism, Pearse soon gained prominence as a writer and speaker in both English and the Irish language and also founded a school to teach through the medium of the Irish language.

Like many other active Republicans of his day, Pearse was recruited into the IRB and chosen to give the seminal oration at the interment of repatriated Fenian O’Donobháin Rosa’s body in 1915. As related earlier, O’Donobháin Rosa was an Irish speaker and when Pearse spoke at his grave, first in Irish which is rarely quoted, in the rest of his speech in English he said: “The clear true eyes of this man almost alone in his day visioned Ireland as we of to-day would surely have her: not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well.”

Pearse was chosen again as Commander-in-Chief of the insurrectionary forces in the 1916 Rising. Pearse’s memory is often attacked by ‘revisionist’ historians and some of the “Gaelic Ireland with a sneer” crowd – accusations of a repressed homosexual identity, of ‘green nationalism’, of blood-thirst etc. However, a fair assessment of his life would reveal a political activist who sympathised with the workers fighting the Lockout in 1913 and objected to Redmond’s refusal to allow women to speak at a meeting on Home Rule; would find also an individual generous with his time and energy, a talented writer who sought the creation of a modern literature in Irish on a par with those of England, France and Germany, as well as being an educator and proponent of progressive youth educational theory that stands well the test of time.

Pearse was among the people that Hyde accused of politicising the language, which Hyde gave as his reason for resignation of the Presidency of Connradh na Gaeilge. Looking back now, we might well ask how could it have been otherwise? Everything cultural of a national aspect was becoming politicised in those years: sport, song, drama, literature, journalism, oratory, lectures, representational art – even cooperatives, trade unions and some commercial ventures – why expect language to be any different? In fact, surely instead expect politicisation there first of all!

The other Irish nationalists of the time, the Irish Parliamentary Party led by John Redmond, ‘constitutionalist’, Catholic and socially conservative, expressed no great interest in the Irish language. Another branch of Irish constitutional nationalism, represented by William Martin Murphy, was no friend of the Irish language either and ran the most vicious campaigns against the Irish Republicans.

Of the Seven Signatories of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence, four (Ceannt, MacDiarmada, Mac Donagh and Patrick Pearse) were members of the Connradh. The remaining three were at least neutral or approving of the movement. Of the fifteen executions by British firing squads and one by hanging following the Rising, at least six were members of the Gaelic League. Large numbers of activists and leaders in the Republican movement from 1916 to 1922 were Irish speakers, either fluent or at least competent and christening records of the period show increasing numbers of Irish language names (or Irish versions of names from abroad) given to children. This period was the last great flowering of the Irish language as a mass movement in modern history.9

What of the Left in Ireland? A house painter by trade, Peadar Kearney (Peadar Ó Cearnaigh)10 of Catholic background joined the Gaelic League and at some point attendees at Irish classes he taught included the socialist writer and founder of the Irish Citizen Army, Sean O’Casey11 (Seán Ó Cathasaigh), of Anglican background. Irish was taught in Liberty Hall, HQ of the Irish Transport & General Workers’ Union.

Later, native Irish speaker Peadar O’Donnell, republican fighter, socialist activist and writer, was employed for a while teaching in Aranmore, Co. Donegal, an Irish-speaking area, where he apparently adopted socialism and joined the IT&GWU, for which he also became an organiser. In later years he founded the ill-fated Republican Congress, fought against Franco and founded The Bell literary journal. O’Donnell seems to have written little in Irish but in his acclaimed “Islanders”, the construction of dialogue is clearly derived from the Irish language. Later still, Brendan Behan (Breandán Ó Beacháin), a socialist Republican, wrote in Irish and in English and a Republican who became a Marxist, Connemara man Máirtín Ó Cadhain12, wrote in Irish and campaigned on the rights of Irish speakers and of people living in the Gaeltacht.

In and around those names there would have been many others, Left activists and supporters, unknown now but native speakers or those who learned the language, thought it important and spoke it.

Many socialists seem sometimes to think that the “unity of the working class” is best achieved by doing away with different cultures. They seem to forget that though there is one working class, there are a great many national cultures — and what a poor world it would be if those cultures disappeared.

THE STATE AND POLITICAL PARTIES

Some of the attacks on “Gaelic Ireland” seek to tie it first of all to the right-wing neo-colonial state set up in 1921, or the form it took after 1922, or as mentioned earlier, the De Valera/ Fianna Fáil state from the mid-1930s.

The New State

When the Irish Free State was set up as a compromise with British imperialism and colonialism, backed by a section of the nationalist-Republican movement and in alliance with Irish gombeen capitalism and the Catholic Church, it was actually a very insecure and uncertain endeavour. This perhaps explains the ferocity of the State in the Civil War and afterwards, with large-scale repression, 83 official executions and around a 120 assassinations of Republicans – in less than a 12-month period. Two years later, in 1924 the State faced an attempted Army mutiny and possible coup d’etat, led by Major-General Liam Tobin, with a number of prominent right-wing nationalist politicians in support.

The new owners of the State tried to ensure that nationalist symbols were not left unclaimed to be appropriated by Irish Republicans and so appropriated them themselves: the Tricolour, the Soldiers’ Song and the Irish language. However, this was no foregone conclusion nor an easy process. They had to bear in mind also the British, who had merely stepped off stage into the wings, who were also on stage in the Six Counties, as well as the large constituency of Unionists on both sides of the Border.

For example, God Save the King was played and sung at some State and many other formal occasions, though The Soldiers’ Song was sung by many Republicans. Let Erin Remember was the song favoured by some in the State and it was the air played for the Irish State at the 1924 Paris Olympics. After a struggle, The Soldiers’ Song was finally agreed as the National Anthem in 1926.

Far from being enthusiasts for any kind of “Gaelic Ireland”, the new State continued to use English as the language of administration, even in areas where 80% of the population were Irish-speaking.

A qualification in Irish was required to apply for state jobs but a high level of fluency was not needed13, “and few public employees were ever required to use Irish in the course of their work. On the other hand, state employees had to have perfect command of English and had to use it constantly. Because most public employees had a poor command of Irish, it was impossible to deal with them in Irish. If an Irish speaker wanted to apply for a grant, obtain electricity, or complain about being over-taxed, they would typically have had to do so in English.”14 As late as 1986, a Bord na Gaeilge report noted “…the administrative agencies of the state have been among the strongest forces for Anglicisation in Gaeltacht areas”15

The two main daily newspapers at the time in Ireland were the right-wing nationalist Irish Independent and the Unionist-minded Anglophile Irish Times16 and neither promoted the Irish language nor even covered Gaelic games, although they reported on rugby and cricket matches.

Fianna Fáil and the Blueshirts

Fianna Fail was created early in 1926 and in 1932, only six years later it was in government of the State. One year later, the right-wing Army Comrades Association adopted the uniform which included the blue shirt and by that time had over 30,000 members and battles were taking place between them and the IRA and other Republicans. Eoin O’Duffy had been an IRA guerrilla leader in the Irish War of Independence, a general in the Free State Army in the Civil War and Commissioner of the state’s police force, the Garda Síochána from 1922 to 1933. After Fianna Fáil’s easy re-election in February 1933, De Valera dismissed O’Duffy as Commissioner and a few months later O’Duffy took leadership of the ACA and renamed it the National Guard, adopting the straight-arm Roman salute favoured by the fascists.

That same year the Blueshirts planned a march on Dublin, believed my many historians to be a prelude to a coup d’etat; certainly De Valera thought so and, unsure of the Army’s loyalty, banned the march and subsequently outlawed the organisation. That year also Fine Gael was formed, incorporating the Blueshirts, Cumann na nGaedhal and the National Centre Party, with O’Duffy as its President.

De Valera founded the daily newspaper Irish Press in 1931 which had an alternative version of its title in Irish – Scéala Éireann – and as well as covering the GAA games, had sections in Irish. However the position of the Irish language in the affairs of the State did not change.

Though the Great Hunger caused he most impressive loss of Irish-speaking modern Ireland on the map, the percentage lost by the Irish state is greater.
(Image source: Internet)

Throughout Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments, the Gaeltacht – the Irish-speaking areas – continued to suffer deprivation of resources. Even by the early 1960s, many homes in those areas did not have electricity, running water or sewage drains. Primary schools typically had a headmaster and female teacher to administer and teach all subjects at all levels. Deprivation led to massive emigration, not only to the metropolis but also to the USA and to Britain. Today, the Gaeltacht is 9.1% the size of what it was when the Irish State was created or, in other words, the State has presided over a Gaeltacht decline of over 90%17 — as a friend commented: “Not even Cromwell or the Great Hunger wreaked such linguistic devastation”.

In the 1960s, no matter what party was in government or in local authority, Irish-language campaigners had to fight for minimal funding for land allocation, schools and broadcasting in Irish. People went to jail for civil disobedience and were fined for refusing to pay for their TV and radio licences and, briefly, a pirate Gaeltacht radio station was in operation.

The Labour Party and Sinn Féin

The Labour Party, whether to the right or left, has never shown itself to be a friend of the Irish language.

Sinn Fein (Provisional) would nominally be expected to be supportive of the Irish language but the real test is in its campaigning and practice within its own party. Its public and internal meetings are held in English (as with other Republican parties) and throughout the three decades of the war in the Six Counties it did not organise or mobilise the Gaeltacht people to improve their position and defend their communities from emigration and the penetration and eventual supremacy of the English language.

In conclusion, to associate the Irish language or culture with any of the political parties or any administration of the State is fundamentally incorrect from a historical point of view.

FOCAL SCOIR OR IN CONCLUSION

Would those who sneer when they say “Gaelic Ireland” do likewise at the mention of “French France”, “Spanish Spain”18, “Italian Italy”, “German Germany” or “Polish Poland”? I think not. No, national cultures are not sneered at by the Right or the Left in Ireland – only Irish culture and, particularly, the language.

John Kells Ingram19, an academic, mathematician and writer of planter descent from southeast Donegal (and probably bilingual), in 1843 wrote the lyrics “In Memory of the Dead” (better known as “Who Fears to Speak of ’98”). He was decrying the distancing by Daniel O’Connell and his Catholic movement from the deeds and principles of the United Irish Men in 1798. If I may paraphrase him a little to refer to the kind of Irish person today who says “Gaelic Ireland” with a sneer: “He’s all a knave or half a slave, who slights his people’s culture thus”.

Fanon20 would agree, I’m sure.

A chríoch.

SOME SOURCES AND REFERENCES:

https://me.eui.eu/dieter-reinisch/blog/dundalk-racism-republicanism/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amhr%C3%A1n_na_bhFiann#Official_adoption

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Army_Mutiny

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blueshirts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Irish_language#Independent_Ireland_and_the_language

Black Skin, White Masks (1952), (1967 translation by Charles Lam Markmann: New York: Grove Press)

The Wretched of the Earth (1961), (1963 translation by Constance Farrington: New York: Grove Weidenfeld)

1 “……. individual Republican activists use Gaelic Nationalism to justify their anti-migrant and racist parochialism”

3The North American republicans did not admit the Indigenous People as citizens and many set out to exterminate them. Many also condoned slavery and some owned slaves. The Latin American republicans also mostly sought the expropriation of Indigenous people and also organised massacres but, for the most part, abandoned slavery earlier than the USA.

4Cork poet and strong Republican Mícheál Óg Ó Longáin (1766/-1837) is usually credited with writing Buachaillí Loch Garman and Sliabh na mBan (although one source, probably mistaken, credits his son Peadar with the latter two). Mícheál’s work as a scribe, scholar and teacher was a useful cover for acting as a United Irishmen courier.

5There are a few songs from Mayo too, by unknown authors.

6Douglas Hyde (Dubhghlas De hÍde) was elected first Uachtarán na hÉireann (President of the Irish state) from 1938-1945.

9The last to date but hopefully not the last.

10Peadar Kearney was a member of the Irish Volunteers and IRB, fought in 1916 and was interned; he became a prolific writer of nationalist ballads — but also of “Labour’s Call”, a song with very socialist lyrics – and is the co-author with Patrick Heeney of “The Soldiers’ Song”, the national anthem of the Irish state.

11Sean O’Casey (1880-1964) was born in Dublin into a lower middle-class family in straitened circumstances.

12Máirtín Ó Cadhain (1906-1970); interned by the Irish State during the 2nd World War years and later activist for the Gaeltacht which led to the founding of the Rath Cairn Gaeltacht in Co. Meath. Ó Cadhain’s most famous written work, the novel “Cré na Cille” (1949) was later translated into many languages. Ó Cadhain was also a founder and leading activist of the original Irish-language civil rights campaign Misneach which engaged in agitation and civil disobedience (another campaign by the same name now exists) in Dublin and other places.

13Hence the jibe about the mere “cúpla focal” of Irish of politicians and civil servants.

14See Wikipedia in Sources

15 Advisory Planning Committee of Bord na Gaeilge, The Irish Language in a Changing Society: Shaping The Future, p.41. Criterion, 1986 (quoted in Wikipedia – see Sources).

16Both had called for the punishment by the British of the 1916 Rising leaders but the Independent had actually called for the executions of Connolly and Mac Diarmada.

17Extrapolation from the Census statistics of the years 1926, when there were 246,811 Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht and the 2016 Census when 20,586 remained, which is 8.34% of the 1926 number or a reduction of 91%. http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/census/census1926results/volume8/C_1926_VOL_8_T8,9,10.pdf

18In fact, there are ground for objecting to the terminology of “French France” and “Spanish Spain” but only because those two states do not value and even suppress the other national languages within their state boundaries, e.g Euskera, Catalan, Occitan, Corse, Asturian, Galician ….

19John Kells Ingram (1823-1907)

20Franz Omar Fanon (1925-1961) was born and raised in Martinique; qualifying as an MD and psychiatrist, practised in Algeria during the war of liberation against the French, where he was a covert member of the resistance. Fanon was a politically radical intellectual, Pan-Africanist and Marxist humanist whose written work is very influential in particular in “post-colonial studies”. He described the psychopathology of colonisation in quite accessible writing, showing how – among other things – the colonised internalise the image of themselves projected by the coloniser and aspire to the “sophistication” of the latter and his culture (see two of his works listed in the Sources & References section.

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“Back Home in Derry” with new air

Bobby Sands, who was the first of the ten hunger strikers to die in 1981, had written a number of articles, songs and poems.  One of the latter was arranged for song by Christy Moore, calling it “Back Home In Derry” to the air of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (by Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot).

The rendition here by Diarmuid Breatnach is to a new air composed also by Breatnach.  Although he has been singing it for some years in song sessions, this is the first time it has been posted as a video.

“I thought that the lyrics and the original author deserved a new air”, said Breatnach, a Dublin singer.  “Christy Moore did a great job arranging the lyrics for song.  I hope the new air becomes at least as popular as Gordon Lightfoot’s.”

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dosrz71cmcw1s3p/Song%20Video%20edit%20%202%20made%20jan%202018.mp4?dl=0

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGUANTAR Y REÍR — PERO REVOLUCIÓN!

Diarmuid Breatnach

 

Estuve recientemente leyendo sobre el apoyo en Cataluña a la lucha para la independencia de Irlanda en el 1920, inspirado especialmente por la huelga de hambre del Traolach Mac Suibhne (Terence McSwiney), Gran Alcade de Cork y oficial del grupo armado republicano el IRA.  Sabemos también que las huelgas de hambre de parte de presos republicanos irlandeses en el Long Kesh en el 1981, simbolizadas en el personaje del Bobby Sands, también habían impresionados a gente por todo el mundo.

Me encanta leer de las conexiones de la lucha del independismo irlandés con las luchas de resistencia de otros pueblos. El Alzamiento de 1916 en Dublín y la Guerra de la Independencia por todo Irlanda dio inspiración a nacionalistas, republicanos y socialistas revolucionarios por grandes partes del Mundo, influyendo al vietnames Ho Chi Minh, a Nehru (y a Indios mas revolucionarios que el) y a gente en todas las colonias de los estados coloniales como la Gran Bretaña, Francia, España, Portugal, Bélgica, Holanda, Alemania ….. Llegó a tener impacto en cada continente del mundo menos en el de Antartica. Y que lástima que terminó en tan vergüenza sórdida!

Me gustaría comentar sobre la frase del McSwiney “no es él quien puede infligir más, sino quién puede soportar más que vencerá”. Y al mismo tiempo referir a la de otro huelguista de hambre hasta la muerte, 61 años después de la muerte del McSwiney: “Nuestra venganza será la risa de nuestros niños.”

Esas frases de los mártires McSwiney y Sands son interesantes pero hay que leer los en el contexto de sus vidas y de la lucha para la independencia de Irlanda. Demasiadas veces son esas palabras apropiadas por pacifistas o peor, para los que quieren rendir o diluir o desviar la resistencia.

Foto del Traolach Mac Suibhne (Terence McSwiney)
(Fuente de foto: el Internet)

Las historias de ambos hombres lo dejan claro que se habían comprometido a lucha armada contra el imperio británico, McSwiney en el IRA y Sands en el Provisional IRA. Los dos se consideraban soldados de la resistencia nacionalista o republicana. Si no hubieron muertos en la cárcel, estarían por ahí pegando tiros a la policía colonial y al Ejercitó Británico, tratando de matar les y tratando de evitar que les maten a ellos.

La lucha para la independencia de Irlanda 1916-1921 quedó en gran parte derrumbada, tras el Trato de 1921 y la Guerra Civil del 1922-1923. El nuevo Estado Irlandés fusiló a 81 republicanos durante esos últimos años y mató al rededor de 120 ejecutados tras haber les hecho preso en lucha, o secuestrados y asesinados. Muchos tuvieron que huir del país.

Se volvió a lucha en seria en el 1971, pero esta vez casi totalmente confinada a la quinta parte del país, la colonia británica de Los Seis Condados. Y claro, quedó sin éxito, a pesar de enorme bravura y sacrificio por el pueblo a través de casi tres décadas.

Bobby Sands, foto tomado durante su encarcelamiento.
(Fuente de la foto: el Internet)

A los que les dan miedo o les disgusta la resistencia armada, les gustan muchísimo esas frases de Sands y de McSwiney, sacadas de sus contextos.

Guste o no guste, la historia nos repite a enseñar que la resistencia a las fuerzas del imperialismo (y aún, del capitalismo), si va a tener éxito, tiene que pasar a la fase armada en algún momento. Y no es por que les guste la violencia a los de la resistencia si no por que el enemigo no le dará ningún otro remedio. Vendrá con armas, juicios, cárcel para aplastar la resistencia. Así que la única cuestión no es a ver si la resistencia exitosa aquí o ahí le hace falta pasar a la fase armada, si no cual es el momento en que se necesita hacer. Eso es lo que nos dice la historia, creemos lo que nos guste.

Una tragedia putumayense en tres actos: entrando al “post-conflicto”

José Antonio Gutiérrez D

 

Acto I -Puerto Bello, Piñuña Blanco

 

El jueves 1 de Junio, a eso de las 8pm, media docena de individuos encapuchados y vestidos de negro, llegan a la comunidad de Puerto Bello, en Piñuña Blanco, armados de escopetas y revólveres.

Pese a que a primera vista podrían parecer meros atracadores, sobre todo por las precarias armas que portan, su modus operandi parece ser el de paramilitares. Cortan las comunicaciones, agrupan a varias personas al borde del río y proceden a robar a personas específicas, sobre todo del comercio. Luego, después de dos horas de aterrorizar al caserío, roban un motor y se van con total tranquilidad río abajo con todo lo robado. Esto ocurre en las mismas narices de un batallón militar en la vereda de La Alea, adscrito a la Brigada de Selva Número 27, así como de la Fuerza Naval del Sur que opera en todo el río Putumayo.

Esta es la segunda acción de este tipo que ocurre en la zona. Hace unos meses, también se había producido una acción similar en la vereda Puerto Silencio. También han aparecido panfletos amenazantes de grupos paramilitares –que vienen avanzando a paso firme desde el occidente de Putumayo- y hasta de un grupo que se hacen llamar “Los de Sinaloa”. Esto ocurre cuando las FARC-EP ya no se encuentran en este territorio, sino que se encuentran concentrados en la Zona Veredal “Heiler Mosquera”, en La Carmelita. Un mal precedente de lo que puede esperar el pueblo de estos territorios de la presencia de la fuerza pública. Hasta los más timoratos reconocen que “estas vainas no se veían cuando las FARC estaban por acá”. En el pueblo corren rumores que, de hecho, la misma fuerza pública no sólo toleraría estas acciones sino que algunos elementos hasta estarían detrás de ellos. Sea como sea, la desconfianza es grande, al igual que la ansiedad.

Esta acción ocurrió apenas un día después de una reunión en la comunidad en la cual se trató el tema de la explotación petrolera y la necesidad de oponerse al intento de la multinacional Amerisur Resources plc –de origen británico- de comenzar tareas de prospección y explotación en la zona, en medio de las comunidades campesinas, de un consejo comunitario afro y de un resguardo indígena. Esta obsesión por perforar la tierra, contaminar los ríos y saquear los recursos es parte de la visión del post-conflicto del gobierno: que las multinacionales vayan ocupando los territorios donde nunca se habían podido meter, porque se encontraban las FARC-EP en ellos. Literalmente, los territorios de presencia histórica de esta insurgencia, hoy están de remate. Para resistir al extractivismo, se está llamando a todas las comunidades del río a una asamblea los días 16 y 17 de Junio en Peneya, cerca de Puerto Calderón.

Soldados del Ejercito Columbiano en Putamyo. A pesar de su presencia los atracadores operan con tranquilidad.

Acto II -Piñuña Negro

El día 2 de Junio, al mediodía, durante una reunión en Piñuña Negro con dirigentes campesinos y líderes de juntas de acción comunal, para tratar el tema de la implementación de los acuerdos de paz entre el gobierno y las FARC-EP, dos helicópteros militares sobrevuelan la reunión. Están sobrevolando por mucho tiempo, hasta que después de una hora y media sobrevolando, deciden aterrizar. “Afuera está el ejército”, nos comenta una señora que estaba en la reunión y que había salido para comprar algunos refrigerios. Salimos a hablar con ellos, pues la gente comienza a ponerse nerviosa. No es para menos. Piñuña Negro ha sido particularmente golpeado por las acciones contrainsurgentes durante el Plan Colombia, ha sido muy militarizado, ha vivido innumerables combates, ha visto muchos muertos y decenas de sus dirigentes han sido arrestados. Desde el 2004, al menos 36 dirigentes sociales han sido arrestados. El Plan Colombia también generó un desplazamiento masivo: de unas 2500 familias que había en el corregimiento al inicio de este operativo, hoy no quedan más de 400. Hoy el casco urbano de Piñuña Negro parece un pueblo fantasma, con casas abandonadas cayéndose a pedazos y un comercio moribundo donde alguna vez hubo de todo. En algunas de las veredas del corregimiento, esto se nota con mucha mayor crudeza: Puerto Tolima alguna vez llegó a tener 100 familias, y hoy apenas tiene 2. No es de extrañar, entonces, que la presencia militar provoque escalofríos en muchos.

Había llegado la armada en esos dos helicópteros; unos 30 militares contra-guerrillas, armados hasta los dientes con fusiles de asalto, mira telescópica, visores, granadas y cada quien con dos revólveres cruzados en el pecho, se paseaban por fuera del lugar de reunión y por el resto del caserío. Parecía que iban a una guerra medio oriental en vez de a dialogar con un grupo de dirigentes comunitarios que estaban realizando una reunión perfectamente legal. La gente miraba desde la distancia lo que está pasando con nerviosismo. Nosotros nos acercamos a hablar con un capitán de la manera más afable posible, tratando de bajar la tensión y de garantizar que la reunión pueda finalizar.

Nos informan que hemos roto un protocolo. Al parecer, la inspectora de Piñuña Negro tiene un acuerdo con la fuerza pública, a todas luces inconstitucional, según el cual no se puede realizar ninguna reunión comunitaria sin previa autorización de los mandos militares y sin la presencia física de un uniformado. Tales disposiciones son propias de las dictaduras militares del Cono Sur, más no así de un país que se dice democrático. Nos pregunta el militar que qué estábamos conversando. Le decimos el objetivo de la reunión y los temas tocados. Parece que la respuesta lo tranquiliza. Era como si esperaba que el objetivo de la reunión fuera otro.

Pregunta a mi compañero que si las cosas estaban tranquilas en Piñuña Blanco. Con sorpresa, le explicamos lo del “atraco”, aunque ellos ya sabían pues las denuncias se habían hecho por la mañana. Además, resulta extraordinariamente extraño que el ejército no haya sabido del “atraco” –que a esa altura lo sabía Raimundo y todo el mundo-, pero que se hayan enterado tan rápido de una reunión comunitaria para irla a interrumpir –y de paso, para acosar y amedrentar a los participantes. El capitán nos dice entonces que anotemos su número telefónico y que en caso de un nuevo incidente, llamemos al ejército porque ellos no vacilarán en llegar a “proteger” a la comunidad. Nos dijo que en esa zona la comunidad los rechazaba y que hasta los “hostigaban”, pero que si la comunidad los llamaba, ellos irían.

Luego nos preguntan si iríamos a Puerto Ospina, donde también la comunidad está adelantando acciones para oponerse a la explotación petrolera en su territorio, también por parte de Amerisur Resources plc. Uno ya va entendiendo por dónde va la cosa.

Acto III -Peneya, Piñuña Blanco

En el último acto, dirigentes comunitarios de Peneya, Piñuña Blanco, nos explican que el sábado 3 de Junio, se habían aparecido los ejecutivos de la Amerisur Resources plc, llamando a una reunión a la dirigencia. Palabras más, palabras menos, le preguntaron a los dirigentes que cuando soltaban la tierrita. A lo cual los dirigentes exclamaron diciendo que eso no era una decisión que podían tomar ellos, sino que correspondía a  la comunidad. Y que la comunidad tiene su evento programado para el 16 y 17 y que entonces tomarán una  decisión informada.

También nos enteramos que, camino a Piñuña Negro, los helicópteros que sobrevolaron la reunión comunitaria, también habían sobrevolado el caserío de Puerto Bello. El mensaje era claro. El día 3 también hubo reunión de la Junta de Acción Comunal en Puerto Bello y la decisión de la comunidad, ante la zozobra generada en los últimos días fue reforzar la organización comunitaria, tender más puentes con otros procesos, visibilizar la problemática del extractivismo y la resolución de la comunidad de defender el territorio. Dentro de esto, se llamó a participar masivamente en la asamblea en Peneya, pedir acompañamiento a los otros movimientos sociales, y a pedir a las autoridades garantías para que la reunión se pueda realizar en paz.

Aun cuando estos tres actos, a primera vista, puedan parecer hechos aislados, pensamos que son parte de una misma tragedia que se viene viviendo no sólo en el Putumayo, sino en todo el territorio colombiano.

 

Ahí donde las FARC-EP abandonaron los territorios, en el marco del proceso de paz adelantado con el gobierno (en el cual, dicho sea de paso, solamente los guerrilleros están cumpliendo su parte del acuerdo), las multinacionales han puesto la mira para adelantar actividades extractivistas y agroindustriales. En esos territorios existía no solamente insurgencia armada, sino también, por decirlo así, una insurgencia social: comunidades en resistencia contra la imposición del modelo neoliberal extractivista, que han buscado activamente participar en procesos amplios por una transformación de las estructuras políticas y económicas del país, así como en la creación de alternativas en su propia realidad local. Para quebrar esta resistencia campesina, indígena y afrocolombiana, la fuerza pública está tolerando, sino patrocinando, una situación de inseguridad y zozobra. Es muy raro que asesinatos selectivos, el aumento de la inseguridad y el avance incontenible del paramilitarismo estén ocurriendo en las mismas narices del ejército más poderoso de América Latina, y que ellos se muestren impotentes para operar en contra de estos elementos criminales. Eso si, muestran gran efectividad cuando las comunidades se organizan para protestar.

¿Qué se busca con esta zozobra inducida? Que la comunidad, en su desesperación, termine por llamar al ejército para que venga a poner orden. Al mismo ejército que ha permitido que esto ocurra. Así ellos llegan por invitación (“llámenos si vuelven a ocurrir incidentes”), como salvadores. Pero detrás de la militarización del territorio, lo que llegará es la petrolera. Eso es lo que realmente buscan, y no la seguridad de la comunidad: lo que buscan es dar garantías y protección a la petrolera para adelantar el saqueo de los recursos, y la consecuente destrucción de la selva. Con el ejército enquistado en los pozos petroleros, como se ve en otras partes del Putumayo ¿quién podría protestar o resistirse? Y como se ve en todos los territorios militarizados, la criminalidad y el paramilitarismo no cesarán sino que ahí seguirán o hasta aumentarán, mientras las multinacionales podrán saquear en paz todo lo que quieran.

La comunidad en Piñuña Blanco está viendo claramente esta estrategia y no se está dejando engatusar. Sabe que la única garantía para que la paz llegue a su territorio es la unidad de los procesos comunitarios, el fortalecimiento de su autonomía, la creación de un verdadero poder popular que pueda, mediante las guardias campesinas y la acción comunitaria, enfrentar las amenazas ante las cuales la fuerza pública se muestra impotente. En estos momentos está claro que la seguridad del pueblo depende de la capacidad del mismo pueblo. Que la defensa del territorio no puede ser impulsada más que por la alianza de campesinos, indígenas y afros, con el respaldo de los sectores urbanos que se hacen solidarios de estos procesos. Por más que uno le dé vuelta al asunto, no hay de otra. Por eso es tan importante que el 16 y 17 las comunidades de Piñuña Blanco no estén solas y que se les tienda una mano solidaria en esa lucha que es la lucha de todos.

 

José Antonio Gutiérrez D.

10 de Junio, 2017

31st AUGUST 102 YEARS AGO — BLOODY SUNDAY IN DUBLIN 1913/ HOY, HACE 102 ANOS — EL DOMINGO SANGRIENTO DEL 31 DE AGOSTO 1913

Diarmuid Breatnach (published originally in Dublin Political History Tours)

(Miren de bajo para la versión en castellano).

The 31st of August 1913 was one of several ‘Bloody Sundays’ in Irish history and it took place in O’Connell Street (then Sackville Street).

A rally had been called to hear the leader of the IT&GWU) speak. The rally had been prohibited by a judge but the leader, Jim Larkin, burning the prohibition order in front of a big demonstration of workers on the evening of the 29th, promised to attend and address the public.

On the day in O’Connell Street, the Dublin police with their batons attacked the crowd, including many curious bystanders and passers by, wounding many by which at least one died later from his injuries.

One could say that on that street on the 31st, or in the nearby Eden Quay on the night of the 30th, when the police batoned to death two workers, was born the workers’ militia, the Irish Citizen Army, in a desire that very soon would be made flesh.

La carga policial contra los manifestantes y transeúntes en la Calle O'Connell en el 31 Agosto 1913/ DMP attack on demonstrators and passers-by on 31st August 1913 in Dublin's O'Connell Street

La carga policial contra los manifestantes y transeúntes en la Calle O’Connell en el 31 Agosto 1913/ DMP attack on demonstrators and passers-by on 31st August 1913 in Dublin’s O’Connell Street

THE EMPLOYERS’ LOCKOUT

Bloody Sunday Dublin occurred during the employers’ Lockout of 1913. Under Jim Larkin’s leadership, the Liverpudlian of the Irish diaspora, the young ITGWU was going from strength to strength and increasing in membership, with successful strikes and representation in Dublin firms. But in July 1913, one of Dublin’s foremost businessmen, William Martin Murphy, called 200 businessmen to a meeting, where they resolved to break the trade union.

Murphy was an Irish nationalist, of the political line that wished for autonomy within the British Empire; among his businesses were the Dublin tram company, the Imperial Hotel in O’Connell Street and the national daily newspaper “The Irish Independent”.

The employers decided to present all their workers with a declaration to sign that the workers would not be part of the ITGWU, nor would they support them in any action; in the case of refusal to sign, they would be sacked.

The members of the ITGWU would have to reject the document or leave the union, which nearly none of them were willing to do.

Nor could the other unions accept that condition, despite any differences they may have had with Larkin, with his ideology and his tactics, because at some point in the future the employers could use the same tactic against their own members.

The Dublin (and Wexford) workers rejected the ultimatum and on the 26th began a tram strike, which was followed by the Lockout and mixed with other strikes — a struggle that lasted for eight months.

Dublin had remarkable poverty, with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and others, including the sexually-transmitted ones, the city being a merchant port and also having many British Army barracks. The percentage of infantile mortality was higher than that in Calcutta. Workers’ housing was in terrible condition, often with entire families living in one room, in houses sometimes of 12 rooms, each one full of people, with one or two toilets in the outside yard.

In those conditions, 2,000 Dublin workers confronted their employers, the latter aided by their Metropolitan Police, the Irish colonial police and the British Army. As well as the workers, many small traders suffered, those selling in the street or from little shops.

On that Monday, the 31st of September 1913, some trade unionists and curious people congregated in Dublin’s main street, then called Sackville Street, in front of and around the main door of the big Clery’s shop. In the floors above the shop, was the Imperial Hotel, with a restaurant.

The main part of the union went that day to their grounds in Fairview, to avoid presenting the opportunity for another confrontation with the Dublin Municipal Police. Others in the leadership had argued that the police should not be given the opportunity and that there would be many other confrontations during the Lockout. But Larkin swore that he would attend and that a judge should not be permitted to ban a workers’ rally.
Daily Mirror Arrest Larkin photoThere were many police but nothing was happening and Larkin did not appear. After a while, a horse-drawn carriage drove up and an elderly church minister alighted, assisted by a woman, and entered the shop. They took the lift to the restaurant floor. A little later Larkin appeared at the restaurant open window, in church minister’s clothing, spoke a few words to the crowd and ran inside. Those in the street were very excited and when the police took Larkin out under arrest, they cheered him, urged on by Constance Markievicz. The police drew their batons and attacked the crowd — any man not wearing a police uniform.

 

THE UNION’S ARMY

The Irish Citizen Army was founded for the union on the 6th November 1913 by Larkin, Connolly and others with Seán Ó Cathasaigh/ O’Casey, playwright and author, including the first history of the organisation.

The Citizen Army at Croydon House, at the ITGWU's grounds in Fairview/ El Ejercito Ciudadano en su parte del parque en Fairview.

The Citizen Army at Croydon House, at the ITGWU’s grounds in Fairview/ El Ejercito Ciudadano en su parte del parque en Fairview.

As distinct from the Irish Volunteers, women could enter the ICA, within which they had equal rights.

Funeral of James Byrne, who died as a result of his imprisonment during the 1913 Lockout

Funeral of James Byrne, who died as a result of his imprisonment during the 1913 Lockout/ Procesión funébre de James Byrne, fallecido por razón de su encarcelamiento durante el Cierre de 1913, pasando por el muelle sur Eden’s Quay, partiendo de la Salla de la Libertad.

It was reorganised in 1914 as the union was recovering from its defeat during the Lockout, and 200 fought alongside the Volunteers in the 1916 Easter Rising, after which two of its leaders, Michael Mallin and James Connolly, were executed. Among the nearly 100 death sentences there were others of the ICA, including Markievicz, but their death sentences were commuted (14 were executed in Dublin, one in Cork and one was hanged in London).

The main fighting locations of the ICA in 1916 were in Stephen’s Green and in the Royal College of Surgeons, in City Hall and, with Volunteers in the GPO and in the terrace in Moore Street, the street market.

The Imperial Hotel on the other side of the street from the GPO was occupied too by the ICA and on top of it they attached their new flag, the “Starry Plough/ Plough and Stars”, the design in gold colour on a green background, the

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

constellation of Ursa Mayor, which the Irish perceived in the form of a plough, an instrument of work. And there the flag still flew after the Rising, having survived the bombardment and the fire which together destroyed the building and all others up to the GPO, on both sides of the street. Then a British officer happened to notice the flag and ordered a soldier to climb up and take it down — we know not where it went.

 

TODAY

Today, after various amalgamations, the once-noble ITGWU has become SIPTU, the largest trade union in Ireland but one which does not fight. The skyscraper containing its offices, Liberty hall, occupies the spot of the original Liberty Hall, prior to its destruction by British bombardment in 1916.

The Irish newspaper the “Irish Independent” continues to exist, known as quite right-wing in its editorial line. Murphy’s trams came to an end during the 1950 decade and those in Dublin today have nothing to do with Murphy.

The Imperial Hotel no longer exists and, until very recently, Clery had taken over the whole building, but they sacked their workers and closed the building, saying that they were losing money.

In front of the building, in the pedestrianised central reservation, stands the monument as a representation of Jim Larkin. The form of the statue, with its hands in the air, is from a photo taken of Larkin during the Lockout, as he addressed another rally in the same street. It is said that in those moments, he was finishing a quotation which he used during that struggle (but which had also been written previously by James Connolly in 1897, and which something similar had been written by the liberal monarchist Étienne de La Boétie [1530–1563] and later by the French republican revolutionary Camille Desmoulins [1760–1794]): “The great appear great because we are on our knees – LET US ARISE!”

 

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/ El monumento de Jim Larkin in la Calle O’Connell hoy en día

 

EL 31 DE AGOSTO EN El 1913 FUE UNO DE LOS DOMINGOS SANGRIENTOS DE IRLANDA Y OCURRIÓ EN LA CALLE PRINCIPAL DE DUBLÍN.

Hubo una concentración para escuchar al líder del sindicato de Trabajadores de Transporte y de General de Irlanda (IT&GWU) hablar. La manifestación fue prohibida por juez pero el líder, Jim Larkin, quemando el documento de prohibición en frente de manifestación grande la noche del 29, prometió que iba a asistir y hablar al publico.

El día 31 en la Calle O’Connell, la policía de Dublin con sus porras atacaron la concentración y a muchos otros curiosos o pasando por casualidad, hiriendo a muchos por lo cual murió uno por lo menos mas tarde de sus heridas.

Se puede decir que en esa calle en el 31, o en la cerca muelle, Eden Quay, la noche del 30, cuando mataron a porras dos trabajadores, se dio luz a la milicia sindical, el Ejercito Ciudadano de Irlanda, en deseo que poco mas tarde estaría fundado en actualidad.

EL CIERRE PATRONAL

El Domingo Sangriento ocurrió durante el Cierre Patronal de Dublín en el 1913. Bajo el liderazgo de Jim Larkin, el Liverpoolés de diáspora Irlandesa, el joven sindicato ITGWU fue yendo de fuerza a fuerza y aumentando en miembros, con éxitos en sus huelgas y reconocido en muchas de las empresas de Dublín. Pero en Julio del 1913, uno de los principales empresarios de Dublín, William Martin Murphy, llamó a 200 de los empresarios a mitin y resolvieron romper el sindicato.

Murphy era nacionalista Irlandés, de la linea de pedir autonomía pero adentro del Imperio británico; entre sus empresas le pertenecía la linea de tranvías de Dublín, el Hotel Imperial en la Calle O’Connell y el periódico diario nacional The Irish Independent.

Resolvieron los empresarios presentar a todos sus trabajadores una declaración para firmar que no serían parte del sindicato ITGWU ni les darían ningún apoyo en cualquiera acción; en caso de negar firmar, se les despedirían.

Los miembros del ITGWU tendrían que rechazar el documento o salir del sindicato, lo cual casi lo total no estuvieron dispuestos hacer.

Los otros sindicatos, pese a cualquiera diferencias tuvieron con Larkin, con sus pensamientos y sus tácticas, tampoco podían acceder a esa condición por que mas tarde se podría usar la misma táctica en contra de sus miembros también.

Los trabajadores de Dublín (y de Wexford) rechazaron el ultimátum y empezaron el 26 de Agosto una huelga de los tranvías, seguido por el Cierre Patronal, mixta con otras huelgas, una lucha que duró ocho meses en total.

Dublín tuvo una pobreza impresionante, con infecciones de tuberculosis y otras, incluido las transmitidas por el sexo, siendo puerto mercantil y teniendo muchos cuarteles del ejercito británico. El porcentaje de la mortalidad infantil era mas de la de la ciudad de Calcuta. Las viviendas de los trabajadores estaban en terribles condiciones, con a menudo familias grandes enteras viviendo en una habitación, en casas a veces de 12 habitaciones, cada uno llena de gente, con una o dos servicios en el patio exterior.

En esas condiciones 2,000 trabajadores de Dublín se enfrentaron al patronal de Dublín, con su policía metropolitana, la policía colonial de Irlanda y el ejercito británico. Además de los trabajadores, muchos pequeños empresarios, vendiendo en la calle o en tiendas pequeños, sufrieron.

Ese Domingo, del 31o de Setiembre 1913, algunos sindicalistas y gente curiosa se congregaron en la calle principal de Dublín, entonces nombrado Sackville Street, en frente y al rededor de la puerta principal de la gran tienda de Clery. En las plantas después de la primera, estaba el Hotel Imperial, con un restaurante.

La mayor parte del sindicato se fueron ese día a una parte de parque que les pertenecía por la costa, para evitar otra enfrentamiento con la Policía Metropolitana de Dublín. Habían argumentado otros de la dirección del sindicato que no se debe dar les la oportunidad a la policía y que habría muchos otros enfrentamientos durante el Cierre. Pero Larkin juró que lo iba a asistir y que no se podía permitir a un juez prohibir manifestaciones obreras.

Había mucha policía pero nada pasaba y Larkin no aparecía. Después de un rato, un coche de caballos llegó y un viejo sacerdote salió, apoyado por una mujer, y entraron en la tienda de Clery. Subieron en el ascensor hacía el restaurante. Poco después, Larkin apareció en la ventana abierta del restaurante, en el traje del cura y habló unas palabras, antes de correr adentro. Los de abajo en la calle muy entusiasmados y cuando la policía salieron agarrando le a Larkin, la multitud le dieron vítores, alentados por Constance Markievicz. La Policía Municipal sacaron sus porras y atacaron a la multitud – a cualquier hombre que no llevaba uniforme policial.

 

EL EJERCITO DEL SINDICATO

El Ejercito Ciudadano de Irlanda (Irish Citizen Army) fue fundado para el sindicato en el 6 de Noviembre del 1913 por Larkin, Connolly y otros con Seán Ó Cathasaigh/ O’Casey, escritor de obras para teatro y algunas otras, incluso la primera historia de la organización. A lo contrario de Los Voluntarios, el ICA permitía entrada a mujeres, donde tenían derechos iguales.

Fue reorganizada en 1914 cuando el sindicato se fue recobrando de la derrota del Cierre Patronal, y 200 lucharon con los Voluntarios en el Alzamiento de Pascuas de 1916, después de lo cual dos de sus líderes, Michael Mallin y James Connolly, fueron ejecutados. Entre los casi 100 condenas de muerte, habían otros del ICA, incluso Constance Markievicz, pero sus condenas de muerte fueron conmutadas (se les ejecutaron a 14 en Dublín y a uno en Cork, y a otro le ahorcaron en Londres).

Los lugares principales de lucha del ICA en 1916 fueron en el Stephen’s Green y en el Collegio Real de Cirujanos (Royal College of Surgeons), en el Ayuntamiento y, con Voluntarios, en la Principal Oficina de Correos (GPO) y en la manzana del Moore Street, el mercado callejero.

El Hotel Imperial al otro lado de la calle del GPO lo ocuparon también el ICA, y encima colocaron su nueva bandera, el Arado de Estrellas (“Starry Plough/ Plough and Stars”), el diseño en color oro sobre fondo verde, la formación celeste del Ursa Mayor, que lo veían los Irlandeses en forma del arado, una herramienta de trabajo. Y ahí ondeó la bandera después del Alzamiento, habiendo sobrevivido el bombardeo británico y el fuego que destruyeron el edificio y la calle entera hacía el GPO, en ambos lados. Entonces un oficial británico se dio cuenta de la bandera y le mandó a soldado hir a recoger la – no se sabe donde terminó.

 

HOY EN DÍA

Hoy en día, después de varias fusiones, el noble ITGWU se ha convertido en el SIPTU, el sindicato mas grande de Irlanda y parecido en su falta de lucha a Comisiones Obreras del Estado Español. El rasca cielos de sus oficinas, La Sala de la Liberta (Liberty Hall), ocupa el mismo lugar que ocupó la antigua Liberty Hall, antes de su destrucción por bombardeo británico en 1916.

El periódico Irish Independent sigue existiendo, conocido por ser bastante de derechas en su linea editorial. Los tranvías de Murphy terminaron en la década del 1950 y los de hoy en Dublín no tienen nada que ver con los de antes.

El Hotel Imperial ya no existe y, hasta hace muy poco, la empresa Clery lo tenía todo el edificio, pero despidieron a sus trabajadores y cerraron el edificio, diciendo que perdían dinero.

En frente del edificio, en la reserva peatonal del centro de la calle, está el monumento representando a Jim Larkin. La forma de la estatua, con las manos en el aire, lo tiene de foto que le hicieron durante el Cierre Patronal, cuando habló en otro manifestación en la misma calle. Dicen que en ese momento, estaba terminando una frase famosa que usó durante esa lucha (pero que también lo escribió Connolly antes en 1897, y que lo había escrito algo parecido primero el monárquico reformista Étienne de La Boétie [1530–1563] y luego el revolucionario republicano francés Camille Desmoulins [1760–1794]): “Los grandes aparecen grande por que estamos de rodillas – levantamanos!”

 

Fin

WHEN EAGLES SING — Kurdish singer and fighter Viyan Peyman falls in battle/ Cantante y Luchadora Kurda falla en batalla

Viyan Peyman, famous fighter-singer of the YPJ, fell in battle against Islamic State in Serekaniye (Yazira canton) on Monday 6th April 2015, according to news agency Hawar News.

Viyan Peyman, famosa luchadora y cantante del YPJ cayó én lucha contra el Estado Islamico el lunes 6 de Abril 2015, según la agencia de noticias Hawar News (miren enlace al fondo de este corto trozo para las noticias en castellano).

When Eagles Sing

(I ndil chuimhne Viyan Peyman/Gulistan Tali Cingalo)

A bird fell from the sky —

the birdsong now has died. 


A songbird but also a fighter — 


When eagles sing 


our struggle is made lighter.

She flies now in different skies,


skies of our memory,


of our heart, spirt and mind


where her song cannot be silenced


for Kurds or for humankind.

Diarmuid Breatnach April 2013

Viyan’s real name was Gulistan Tali Cingalo (Gulistan means “garden”) and she was from Mako city in the part of Kurdistan located within the Iranian state’s territory.

The song she sings in the video was composed by her; the lyrics say:

“Oh, mother, woe to me!


My heart cries today — what disaster has fallen upon us!


I will sing today of the resistance of Kobane,

that it may be a poem recited for the world and humanity, oh mother!


Today again our Kurdish boys and girls have made their chests into shields

against the tanks and bombs …
Oh, mother, woe to me!


Today I imagine the mothers of Kobane crying in the streets;


I imagine the boys, the girls, the elderly screaming in pain and rage.


I see the tears of the children of Kobane as if they were the Euphrates river, 


flooding the streets of Kobane!


Oh, mother, woe is me!”

Information and song lyrics translated from Castillian text sourced here: https://comitesaharaui.wordpress.com/…/cae-en-combate-la-c…/

JE NE SUIS PAS CHARLIE (YO NO SOY CHARLIE)

José Antonio Gutiérrez D

Parto aclarando antes que nada, que considero una atrocidad el ataque a las oficinas de la revista satírica Charlie Hebdo en París y que no creo que, en ninguna circunstancia, sea justificable convertir a un periodista, por dudosa que sea su calidad profesional, en un objetivo militar. Lo mismo es válido en Francia, como lo es en Colombia o en Palestina.

Tampoco me identifico con ningún fundamentalismo, ni cristiano, ni judío, ni musulmán ni tampoco con el bobo-secularismo afrancesado, que erige a la sagrada “République” en una diosa.

Hago estas aclaraciones necesarias pues, por más que insistan los gurús de la alta política que en Europa vivimos en una “democracia ejemplar” con “grandes libertades”, sabemos que el Gran Hermano nos vigila y que cualquier discurso que se salga del libreto es castigado duramente.

Pero no creo que censurar el ataque en contra deCharlie Hebdo sea sinónimo de celebrar una revista que es, fundamentalmente, un monumento a la intolerancia, al racismo y a la arrogancia colonial. 

Miles de personas, comprensiblemente afectadas por este atentado, han circulado mensajes en francés diciendo “Je Suis Charlie” (Yo soy Charlie), como si este mensaje fuera el último grito en la defensa de la libertad. Pues bien, yo no soy Charlie.

No me identifico con la representación degradante y “caricaturesca” que hace del mundo islámico, en plena época de la llamada “Guerra contra el Terrorismo”, con toda la carga racista y colonialista que esto conlleva. No puedo ver con buena cara esa constante agresión simbólica que tiene como contrapartida una agresión física y real, mediante los bombardeos y ocupaciones militares a países pertenecientes a este horizonte cultural.

Tampoco puedo ver con buenos ojos estas caricaturas y sus textos ofensivos, cuando los árabes son uno de los sectores más marginados, empobrecidos y explotados de la sociedad francesa, que han recibido históricamente un trato brutal: no se me olvida que en el metro de París, a comienzos de los ‘60, la policía masacró a palos a 200 argelinos por demandar el fin de la ocupación francesa de su país, que ya había dejado un saldo estimado de un millón de “incivilizados” árabes muertos.

No se trata de inocentes caricaturas hechas por libre pensadores, sino que se trata de mensajes, producidos desde los medios de comunicación de masas (si, aunque pose de alternativo Charlie Hebdo pertenece a los medios de masas), cargados de estereotipos y odios, que refuerzan un discurso que entiende a los árabes como bárbaros a los cuales hay que contener, desarraigar, controlar, reprimir, oprimir y exterminar. Mensajes cuyo propósito implícito es justificar las invasiones a países del Oriente Medio así como las múltiples intervenciones y bombardeos que desde Occidente se orquestan en la defensa del nuevo reparto imperial. El actor español Willy Toledo decía, en una declaración polémica -por apenas evidenciar lo obvio-, que “Occidente mata todos los días. Sin ruido”. Y eso es lo que Charlie y su humor negro ocultan bajo la forma de la sátira.

No me olvido de la carátula del N°1099 de Charlie Hebdo, en la cual se trivializaba la masacre de más de mil egipcios por una brutal dictadura militar, que tiene el beneplácito de Francia y de EEUU, mediante una portada que dice algo así como “Matanza en Egipto. El Corán es una mierda: no detiene las balas”. La caricatura era la de un hombre musulmán acribillado, mientras trataba de protegerse con el Corán.

Charlie Hebdo cartoon referring to the attack on Egyptian protesters in which 1,000 were killed.

Charlie Hebdo cartoon referring to the attack on Egyptian protesters in which 1,000 were killed.

Habrá a quien le parezca esto gracioso. También, en su época, colonos ingleses en Tierra del Fuego creían que era gracioso posar en fotografías junto a los indígenas que habian “cazado”, con amplias sonrisas, carabina en mano, y con el pie encima del cadáver sanguinolento aún caliente.

En vez de graciosa, esa caricatura me parece violenta y colonial, un abuso de la tan ficticia como manoseada libertad de prensa occidental. ¿Qué ocurriría si yo hiciera ahora una revista cuya portada tuviera el siguiente lema: “Matanza en París. Charlie Hebdo es una mierda: no detiene las balas” e hiciera una caricatura del fallecido Jean Cabut acribillado con una copia de la revista en sus manos? Claro que sería un escándalo: la vida de un francés es sagrada. La de un egipcio (o la de un palestino, iraquí, sirio, etc.) es material “humorístico”. Por eso no soy Charlie, pues para mí la vida de cada uno de esos egipcios acribillados es tan sagrada como la de cualquiera de esos caricaturistas hoy asesinados. 

Ya sabemos que viene de aquí para allá: habrá discursos de defender la libertad de prensa por parte de los mismos países que en 1999 dieron la bendición al bombardeo de la OTAN, en Belgrado, de la estación de TV pública serbia por llamarla “el ministerio de mentiras”; que callaron cuando Israel bombardeo en Beirut la estación de TV Al-Manar en el 2006; que callan los asesinatos de periodistas críticos colombianos y palestinos. Luego de la hermosa retórica pro-libertad, vendrá la acción liberticida: más macartismo dizque “anti-terrorismo”, más intervenciones coloniales, más restricciones a esas “garantías democráticas” en vías de extinción, y por supuesto, más racismo.

Europa se consume en una espiral de odio xenófobo, de islamofobia, de anti-semitismo (los palestinos son semitas, de hecho) y este ambiente se hace cada vez más irrespirable. Los musulmanes ya son los judíos en la Europa del siglo XXI, y los partidos neo-nazis se están haciendo nuevamente respetables 80 años después gracias a este repugnante sentimiento. Por todo esto, pese a la repulsión que me causan los ataques de París, Je ne suis pas Charlie.

Sobre el autor: José Antonio Gutiérrez D. es militante libertario residente en Irlanda, donde participa en los movimientos de solidaridad con América Latina y Colombia, colaborador de la revista CEPA (Colombia) y El Ciudadano (Chile), así como del sitio web internacional www.anarkismo.net.  Autor de “Problemas e Possibilidades do Anarquismo” (en portugués, Faisca ed., 2011) y coordinador del libro “Orígenes Libertarios del Primero de Mayo en América Latina” (Quimantú ed. 2010).