Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nato Afghan summit in Bonn


Pakistan has officially pulled out of a crucial NATO summit due to be held this weekend in Bonn, the Rhineland city formerly the capital of Western Germany until 1990. The Pakistan government has come under enormous pressure from an outraged population following last Friday's killing of 24 soldiers on the border with Afghanistan by American helicopters supposedly attacking Taliban fighters in the area.

Those who have been insisting that Pakistan’s traditionally close relations with Afghanistan haven’t changed with the Karzai government  has some serious explaining to do today, as the Washington Post has quoted a top member of the Afghan police force, identified only as a “police general” as praising the US  night  attack on a Pakistani military base.

“That’s the best thing America has done in 10 years here,” the general was quoted. The late night attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and continued for nearly two hours despite repeated calls for a ceasefire. Afghan officials have been claiming that the Pakistani forces attacked the US troops on the ground, prompting the air strike. US officials haven’t made any such allegations, however, and the Pakistani government says the troops at the post were sleeping when the attack began.

The latest comments come as Afghan puppet President Karzai is attempting to convince the Pakistani government to reverse its decision to boycott the upcoming  Bonn Conference on Afghanistan.  Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani says they won’t reconsider because Pakistan can’t possibly play a role in the Afghan situation so long as the US continues to ignore their sovereignty with such attacks.

Pentagon spokesman George Little declined comment today on the Friday night attack against a Pakistani military base in Mohmand Agency, saying it was “too soon” to issue statements about the killings. “No one at this point has the complete narrative on what happened. I think it is important that we wait for the investigation,” Little insisted. Such a stance has been common in past strikes in Afghanistan with massive, embarrassing death tolls.

But, while stories about massacring Afghan civilians usually get pushed to inside pages with a lack of US official commentary, the Pakistani government is continuing to be critical of the deaths in this case, giving the story legs that will likely make it impossible for the Pentagon to just dismiss it. Pakistan has termed the attack “unprovoked” and says that US warplanes kept bombing for nearly two hours despite calls for a ceasefire. Though the US has only expressed “regret” formally, anonymous officials have claimed the killings were “self-defense.”

More NATO mayhem

At least three women were killed today and two men were wounded when NATO helicopters attacked a civilian neighborhood in Kandahar Province’s Zhari District, according to the provincial governor’s office. NATO has so far declined comment on the attack one way or another to the press, but the governor’s spokesman said they had acknowledged the incident to their office.The attack is the second major NATO strike on the district in as many weeks, as an attack last week on Zhari killed nine civilians, including six children.

There was no indication of any activity around the area that would be expected to lead to “air support” being called in, and the governor’s office says at least four rockets were fired at the civilian houses.

Pakistan says the killer air strikes violated its sovereignty. Nato has apologised, calling the deaths tragic. Pakistan has cut crucial Nato supply lines through its territory to Afghanistan. NATO spokespeople say the military command is investigating what happened.The boycott decision came amid mounting public anger in Pakistan and growing demands from opposition parties to sever ties with the US.


 No To NATO Protest & Conference in Bonn
 on 3rd - 5th December

The No-to-NATO Coalition and other Peace Associations, are organising a 3 days of Protests and meetings in Bonn on Decemeber 3rd-5th.The occasion is to oppose the international NATO/US/EU gathering on Afghanistan that will take place during the same 3 days in the same city.

The programme of events is attached below.

(for more information see:

International Conference For a Self-Determined Afghanistan

Location: LVR State Museum Colmantstr. 14-16, Bonn Germony


Coalition of Protesters against Petersberg II

No to War No to Nato Network

Time Table:

Friday, 2 December:

8.30 to 10.00 Breakfast-discussions on current issues: Afghanistan-NATO-Justice

With activists of the German peace movement and international guests: Arielle Denis (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, F), Kate Hudson (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, GB), Christine Hoffmann (pax Christi, GER), Monty Schädel (DFG-VK, GER), Reiner Schmitdt (Interventionistische Linke, GER)

11.00 to 12.30 “International Solidarity is the Tenderness of the Peoples”:
Abolish Wars – Shape the Future

With: Alexander Buzgalin (Rus), Joseph Gerson (American Friends Ser-vice Committee, USA), Malalai Joya (AF), Tomas Magnusson (International Peace Bureau, SWE), Alyn Ware (Right Livelihood Award Laureate, NZ)

Moderation: Arielle Denis (ICAN, F)

12.45 to 14.00 Working Groups I

Convenient Killing: Armed Drones and the ‘Playstation’ Mentality Coordination: Stijn Van Beve (pax christi, NL)

The Arab Spring and the Peace of the Region Coordination: Erhard Crome (Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Ger) Speakers: Claudia Haydt (EL, Ger), Mamdooh Habashi (Eg)

The Comprehensive Approach: “Linked Security” - a new Strategy for Development? Coordination: Claire Chastain (Collectif National Unitaire OTAN-Afghanistan, FR) / Lucas Wirl (NatWiss, Ger)

Wars and international law using the Example of Afghanistan Coordination: Otto Jäckel (IALANA, Ger) Speaker: Karim Popal (AF/ GER)

Refugees from Afghanistan Coordination: Pro Asyl: Karl Kopp (Ger)

Perspectives for Peace from the Viewpoint of Resistance Coordination: Halim Karim (Committee for Peace and Freedom in Afghanistan)

Army, Education, Youth Coordniation: Kai-Uwe Dosch (DFG-VK, Ger)

14.00 to 15.00 Joint Action Lunch

16.45 to 18.00 Working Groups II

Liberation through self-liberation - left strategies against dicta-torship and occupation Coordination: Heike Hänsel (Die Linke, Ger) Speaker: Malalai Joya (AF)

NATO-Strategy for Afghanistan: Liberal Imperialism Coordination: Erhard Crome (Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Ger) Speakers: Matin Baraki (AF /

Ger), Jürgen Wagner (IMI, Ger)

Feminism and Militarism Coordination: Kristine Karch (No to war no to Nato Women‘s Net-work, Ger)

Turkish Foreign Policy: Inbetween Shrewdness and Megalomania Coordination: Ulf Petersen (Kampagne TATORT Kurdistan, Ger)

Wars against Nature or Peace with Nature Coordination: Lucas Wirl (NatWiss, Ger) Speakers: Jürgen Schneider (Ger)

Arms deals Coordination: Monty Schädel (DFG-VK, Ger)

 18.00 to 19.00 Final Panel: Gathering Results and Suggestions

Moderation: Christine Hoffmann, Monty Schädel

Information on the conference

Contact IALANA Office Berlin

Phone: +49 30 206 54 857 / Fax: +49 30 206 54 858 / Email:

Accomodation Overnight accomodation can be self-organised at

For private accommodation please contact:

Registration / Fax: +49 30 206 54 858

Information on actions

Saturday 3. December

Nationwide demonstrations against Petersberg II

11.30 Opening-demonstration on Kaiserplatz (Near by Central Station Bonn)

Monday 5. December

09:00 Protest actions at Petersberg and at the Conference Center

11.55 Protest demonstration near by the Conference Center

Further Information


IRISH Foreign Minister  and deputy Premier, Eamonn Gilmore has failed to honour his
Labour Party conference promise that International Law would be enforced by the incoming Labour/Fine Gael government then being formed. US Military planes continue to land and transit Shannon and Irish airspace in violation of Irish law and the Geneva conventions.

Shannonwatch and their supporters from all over Ireland have maintained a monthly protest at the gates of the airport since the Iraq invasion by Anglo-American forces in 2003.

A welcome development was the members of the U.S. organization Veterans For Peace who took part in a vigil at Shannon Airport action on Sunday, November 13th, at 2 pm. The vigil is organised by Shannonwatch to demand an end to the ongoing US military use of the airport, and to express opposition to the ongoing US occupation of Afghanistan. It will also call for action to be taken against landing US aircraft that are involved in renditions, illegal assassinations and other human rights abuse.

"Two-thirds of Iraq and Aftghanistan veterans do not believe these wars and occupations have done any good," says Gerry Condon, one of the representatives of Veterans For Peace who demonstrated at Shannon.  "We want all the troops to come home now and we want an end to drone bombings and torture too". "As an Irish American, I am really upset to see Irish neutrality being trampled upon by the US military.  Shannon Airport should not be used to ferry troops and weapons to war, or for CIA torture flights.  I hope the Irish people are as outraged as I am, and will join our protest at Shannon today at 2 pm."

Senior DFA Official fails to answer questions on Shannon Airport abuses:

The Director of the Human Rights Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ireland), Colin Rafter, seems unwilling to answer questions about human rights abuse at Shannon Airport. When questioned on the subject of rendition flights at a talk at the University of Limerick (UL), he simply refused to answer.

Mr Rafter was in UL on 16th November to talk about Ireland and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) - Lessons, Domestic and International. He dealt with some of the issues raised at the UPR such as the Magdalen Laundaries and slopping out of prison cells by prisoners. And he referred a few times to the "CAT" (Convention Against Torture), but without explaining that the T in CAT means torture.

When he asked for questions, Edward Horgan, a member of Shannonwatch, obliged. Edward explained that Shannonwatch had made a submission to the UPR process (available here) and pointed out that torture was facilitated at Shannon and being ignored. He noted that Shannonwatch have been monitoring CIA associated aircraft at Shannon Airport, and that it is firmly established that at least 7 such aircraft were refuelled there either just before or just after they were involved in the rendition of specific prisoners. He also said that CIA associated planes were likely to be still using Shannon Airport without any checks or inspections, and that Shannonwatch are also monitoring US military planes, some of which may well be transporting US special forces involved in targeted assassinations.
Edward also pointed out that the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Human Rights Unit in particular have specific duties under the Convention Against Torture and its Irish enabling legislation. These obligations included preventing Irish territory from being used to facilitate such human rights abuses. He said it was clear that they had failed to do so, and were continuing to fail to do so. And finally he asked Mr Rafter, as the senior civil servant in charge of the Department of Foreign Affairs Human Rights Unit, to explain their failures in these matters.

The Director of the Human Rights Unit's reply was simply to say he had come to address a group of students, and that he was not going to deal with that issue. It is an absolute disgrace that despite all the evidence of Shannon Airport's involvement in renditions, that a senior civil servant will still refuse to even discuss the issue. Is it because he has been told by the Minister not to discuss it? Or because he knows there is no defence for the appalling failure of his Department and successive Irish governments to investigate and end rendition flights through Ireland?  Mr Rafter puts himself in the position of aiding and abetting criminal activity by ignoring such serious human rights abuse as forced disappearances and torture.


Baile Átha Cliath/Dublin

30 Samhain/November 2011.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New President Installed


Ireland’s ninth President, Micheál Dómhnall Ó hUigínn, was installed at a ceremony in historic Dublin Castle on Friday, 11th Samhain/November 2011.

The President’s address to the Nation is given below in full:

" A mhuintir na hÉireann and friends of Ireland at home and abroad, there can be no greater honour than to have been elected Uachtarán na hÉireann - President of Ireland. I thank you the people of Ireland for the honour you have bestowed upon me and I accept and appreciate the great responsibilities of that office.

Citizens of Ireland, you have chosen me to be your ninth President, to represent you at home and abroad, and to serve as a symbol of an Irishness of which we can all be proud.

An Irishness which is carried by every citizen and which we must recall and forge anew together. I enter the ninth Presidency with a sense of humility, but also with confidence in the great capacity of our people, the people of Ireland, not only to transcend present difficulties but to realise all of the wonderful possibilities that I believe await us in the years ahead.

I wish to acknowledge the immense contribution of those who have previously served in this office, particularly the two great women who have immediately preceded me. They have made contributions that developed our consciousness of human rights, inclusion, and the important task of deepening and sustaining peace within and between communities in every part of our Island. It is work I will endeavour to continue and build upon.

As your President, I am grateful for the extent of the support, the strong mandate, you have given me. I also realise the challenges that I face, that we face together, in closing a chapter that has left us fragile as an economy, but most of all wounded as a society, with unacceptable levels of unemployment, mortgage insecurity, collapsing property values and many broken expectations.

During my campaign for the Presidency, I encountered that pain particularly among the most vulnerable of our people. However, I also recognise the will of all of our people to move beyond anger, frustration or cynicism and to draw on our shared strengths. To close the chapter on that which has failed, that which was not the best version of ourselves as a people, and open a new chapter based on a different version of our Irishness - will require a transition in our political thinking, in our view of the public world, in our institutions, and, most difficult of all, in our consciousness.

In making that transformation, it is necessary to move past the assumptions which have failed us and to work together for such a different set of values as will enable us to build a sustainable social economy and a society which is profoundly ethical and inclusive. A society and a state which will restore trust and confidence at home and act as a worthy symbol of Irishness abroad, inviting relationships of respect and co-operation across the world.

We must seek to build together an active, inclusive citizenship; based on participation, equality, respect for all and the flowering of creativity in all its forms. A confident people is our hope, a people at ease with itself, a people that grasps the deep meaning of the proverb 'ní neart go cur le chéile' - our strength lies in our common weal - our social solidarity.

Sin iad mór-théamaí na hUachtaránachta atá curtha romham agam, agus mé lán-dóchasach go bhfuilimid ar tháirseach ré nua d'Éirinn agus d'Éireannaigh, sa bhaile agus i gcéin. Ré nua ina mbeidh bunluacha na cothroime agus an chirt, agus spiorad na cruthaíochta, faoi bhláth: poblacht, a mbeidh Éireannaigh de gach aicme agus traidisiún bródúil aisti.

My Presidency will be a Presidency of transformation, recognising and building on the many positive initiatives already under way in communities, in the economy, and in individual and collective efforts throughout our land. It will be a Presidency that celebrates all of our possibilities. It will seek to be of assistance and encouragement to investment and job creation, to innovation and original thinking - a Presidency of ideas - recognising and open to new paradigms of thought and action. It will aspire to turn the best of ideas into living realities for all of our people, realising our limitless possibilities - ár feidireachtaí gan teorainn.

In implementing the mandate you have given me, I will seek to achieve an inclusive citizenship where every citizen participates and everyone is treated with respect. I will highlight and support initiatives for inclusion across Ireland and also make it a priority to visit and to support the participation of the most excluded in our society, including those in institutional care.

I will champion creative communities who are bringing about positive change at local level by giving recognition to their achievements on the national stage. I believe that when we encourage the seedbed of creativity in our communities and ensure that each child and adult has the opportunity for creative expression, we also lay the groundwork for sustainable employment in creative industries and enrich our social, cultural and economic development.

In promoting inclusion and creativity, I will be inviting all citizens, of all ages, to make their own imaginative and practical contribution to the shaping of our shared future.

Active citizenship requires the will and the opportunity to participate at every level and in every way - to be the arrow; not the target.

Next year Bunreacht na hÉireann is 75 years old and a Constitutional Convention is planned by Government. As President, I encourage all citizens, of all ages, at home and abroad to take the opportunity of engaging with this important review as an opportunity to reflect on where we have come from and on how we might see ourselves into the future.

During my Presidency, I also intend to hold a number of Presidency Seminars which may reflect and explore themes important to our shared life yet separate and wider than legislative demand, themes such as the restoration of trust in our institutions, the ethical connection between our economy and society, the future of a Europe built on peace, social solidarity and sustainability.

The first of these seminars will focus on being young in Ireland. It will address issues of participation, education, employment, emigration and mental health. I hope also that the seminars during the next seven years might encompass consideration of global issues, stressing the importance of the ethical connection between politics, economy, development and society.

In preparing for my Presidency, I recognise that our long struggle for freedom has produced a people who believe in the right of the individual mind to see the world in its own way and indeed that individual innovation and independence of mind has given Ireland many distinguished contributors in culture and science, often insufficiently celebrated.

However, in more recent years, we saw the rise of a different kind of individualism - closer to an egotism based on purely material considerations - that tended to value the worth of a person in terms of the accumulation of wealth rather then their fundamental dignity. That was our loss, the source in part, of our present difficulties. Now it is time to turn to an older wisdom that, while respecting material comfort and security as a basic right of all, also recognises that many of the most valuable things in life cannot be measured.

Our successes after all in the eyes of so many in the world have been in the cultural and spiritual areas - in our humanitarian, peace-building and human rights work - in our literature, art, drama and song - and in how that drama and song have helped us cope with adversity, soothed the very pain which they describe so well, and opened the space for new possibilities.

Our arts celebrate the people talking, singing, dancing and ultimately communing with each other. This is what James Connolly meant when he said that: "Ireland without her people means nothing to me".

Connolly took pride in the past but, of course, felt that those who excessively worshipped that past were sometimes seeking to escape from the struggle and challenge of the present. He believed that Ireland was a work in progress, a country still to be fully imagined and invented - and that the future was exhilarating precisely in the sense that it was not fully knowable, measurable.

The demands and the rewards of building a real and inclusive Republic in its fullest sense remains as a challenge for us all, but it is one we should embrace together.

A decade of commemorations lies ahead - a decade that will require us to honestly explore and reflect on key episodes in our modern history as a nation; that will require us to draw on the ethics and politics of memory in such a way as will enable us not only to be sensitive to differing and incomplete versions of that history, but also to remain open to the making of reconciliation or to the acceptance of different versions of aspects and events of memory if required.

A common shared future built on the spirit of co-operation, the collective will and real participation in every aspect of the public world is achievable and I believe we can achieve it together. In our rich heritage some of our richest moments have been those that turned towards the future and a sense of what might be possible. It is that which brought us to independence. It is that which has enabled us to overcome adversity and it is that which will enable us to transcend our present difficulties and celebrate the real Republic which is ours for the making.

Every age, after all, must have its own Aisling and dream of a better, kinder, happier, shared world.

Ní díomas ach dóchas a bheidh ag teastáil uainn ins na blianta dúshlánacha atá amach romhainn. Dóchas as ár n-oighreacht shaibhir, as ár ndúchas iolrach; dóchas as ár n-acmhainn samhlaíochta agus cruthaíochta; as an daonnacht choiteann a fáisceadh as stair chasta ár muintire i ngach cúinne d'Éirinn.

It is my wish to be a President for all of the Irish at home and abroad. We Irish have been a diasporic people for a great part of our history. The circumstances that have impelled - and that continue to impel - many citizens to seek employment and a better life elsewhere, are not ordained by some mysterious hand of fate. They challenge our capacity to create a sustainable and prosperous economy and an inspiring model of the good society. We, in our time, must address the real circumstances that generate involuntary emigration, and resolve that in the years ahead we will strive with all our energy and intellect, with mind and heart to create an Ireland which our young people do not feel they have to leave and to which our emigrants, or their children, may wish, in time, to return to work and live in dignity and prosperity. I invite all of the Irish, wherever they may be across the world, to become involved with us in that task of remaking our economy and society.

Agus, ár muintir atá lonnaithe i dtíortha ar fuaid an domhain mhóir, bíodh a gcás, a gcearta agus a ngaiscí siúd ar ár n-aire againn. Tá rian a saothair agus a ndíograis fágtha acu ar gach tír inar lonnaigh siad: ar an gcultúr polaitíochta agus creidimh, sna réimsí oideachais agus sláinte, san eolaíocht, san saol gnó agus sna h-ealaíona ar fad: agus i ngluaiseachtaí éagsúla ar son chearta daonna agus dínit an duine. Ní suarach iad na gaiscí seo mar thaisce inspioráide dúinne sa bhaile.

Let these, then, be our shared hopes, our common purpose, as we face the future.

We Irish are a creative, resourceful, talented and warm people, with a firm sense of common decency and justice. Let us address the next seven years with hope and courage as we work together to build the future for our country -an Ireland we all feel part of, an Ireland we all feel proud of.

Muintir na hÉireann, ar aghaidh linn le chéile leis an dóchas agus an misneach sin a bhí, is ba chóir a bheith i gcónaí in ár gcroíthe".


Áth Cliath/Dublin,

22 Samhain/November 2011.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Israeli Pirates attack Irish ship.





Irish crewed and maintained ship, the MV Saoirse, taking aid to Gaza as part of the international Peaceful aid flotillas to the besieged city, has been attacked and boarded illegally in international waters by an Israeli naval vessel trying to enforce the Tel-Aviv Zionist regime’s illegal blockade on the coast of Gaza. Angry protests took place in Dublin’s O’Connell  Street  Friday evening and will be continued on Saturday at the Israeli Embassy in the diplomatic quarter of the city.

Ireland Palestine Solidarity, Irish Anti-War Movement, PANA (Peace and Neutrality Alliance), Socialist Party(whose European Parliament member for Dublin is on board the vessel) all condemned the Israeli attack and kidnapping and illegal detention of Irish and citizens of other countries at Ashdod Port, contrary to international law. There was also issued a strong demand on the Irish Foreign Minister and Deputy Premier of Ireland, Éamonn Gilmore, to immediately expel the Israeli ambassador from Dublin and close its embassy here.

The Canadian boat Tahrir (Liberation) and the Irish boat Saoirse (Freedom), carrying 27 foreign activists, left the port of Fethiye in southwest Turkey on Wednesday. Journalists from the Al Jazeera TV channel and representatives of Canadian and Israeli media are among the passengers on the ships.The ships organisers said that, contrary to Israeli threats, they would continue their mission of solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are part of the peaceful struggle against theZionist Israeli policy of collective punishment and blockades which have continued for over five years.
                                MV Saoirse(left) and Tahrir(right) at the point of boarding by 
                                Zionist pirates, approx 40 miles from the coast of Gaza

 Israel Threatens:
Zionist Israel, in turn, announced on Wednesday that it would “meet” these ships and aid can be delivered to the Gaza Strip through land border crossings controlled by the Israeli authorities (A Zionist lie, since the aid on board the Irish ship “Rachel Corrie” is still rotting in Ashdod port where the vessel was taken following last year’s piratical attack by Zionist forces). Israel attacked a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters off the Gaza coast in May 2010, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara ship. 

A UN panel report later blamed Israel, Turkey, and organisers of a Gaza-bound flotilla for the deadly raid. It found, without any  foundation in law it must be said, that the blockade of Gaza was “legal” but, it called the raid on the flotilla "excessive and unreasonable" and the killing of eight Turkish activists and a Turkish-American "unacceptable". No comfort there for the relatives of the martyred dead aboard these heroic ships involved in humanitarian aid to the besieged people of Gaza completely in accord with the Geneva conventions on international conflicts and the basic human rights of every people to life and liberty, self-determination, peace and justice. Shameful hypocrisy and cowardice from this UN panel.

The Canadian ship MV Tahrir and MV Saoirse  set sail as part of the Freedom Waves humanitarian mission. The vessels carried 27 passengers from seven countries who had hoped to reach Gaza on Friday. Dr Fintan Lane, of the Irish Ship to Gaza group, said the only obstacle in their way was Israel's military - which has imposed a policy of piratical action against vessels and personnel  taking part in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. The MV Saoirse was also forced to pull out of a flotilla in June after it was sabotaged by Israeli special forces  while docked in Turkey.(see article, July 06 below)) "The Palestinians living in Gaza want solidarity - not charity," Dr Lane said. "Our primary goal is to help free Palestinians from their inhumane isolation in what is in effect an open-air prison".  Former rugby player Trevor Hogan and several politicians are on the MV Saoirse, which reached international waters about 40 miles from Palestine on Friday.

 The Israeli Embassy in Dublin threatened that the vessels would be intercepted before reaching Gaza and accused those on board of being "hypocrites on a provocative publicity stunt". Israel maintains it imposed the naval blockade to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas militants and that aid and consumer goods are reaching the area through Israel and Egypt. The Israeli embassy complained that the Gaza Flotilla organisers were unconcerned about human rights in Palestinian territories, Syria, Iran and other countries and were therefore “hypocritical”.

We remind the Israeli ambassador that his country, Israel, is the biggest hypocrite of all. While claiming to be the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Zionist Israel operates the only “Apartheid” system in the world today. A vicious, anti-human discrimination against the Palestinan and Arab people in Israel and the occupied lands on the Westbank of Jordan similar in many respect to the despised regime in South Africa with which Israel had close relations including giving the regime there materials for creating nuclear weapons contrary to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty set up by Irish initiative at the UN In the 1970’s.

Israel discriminates against Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in favour of half a million Israeli settlers. Its restrictions on freedom of movement, manifested in countless humiliating checkpoints, resemble the “pass laws” of apartheid. Its destruction of Palestinian homes resembles the destruction of homes belonging to black Africans under apartheid’s Group Areas Act. The confiscation of Palestinian farms under the pretext of building a security wall brings back similar memories of South Africa’s “bantusans” which created ghetto lands for African people, and so on. Indeed, Israel has gone beyond apartheid South Africa in constructing separate (and unequal) roads for Palestinians and settlers.

Apartheid’s security police practiced torture on a large scale. So do the Israeli security forces. There were many political prisoners on Robben Island but there are thousands more Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails despite recent releases. Apartheid South Africa seized the land of black Africans for whites. Israel has seized the land of Palestinians for half a million settlers and for the purposes of constructing a security wall within Palestinian territory – both of which are contrary to international law.

Human Rights in Israel:

We remind the Israeli ambassador of the human rights violation of 13 year-old Muhammad Badwan in April, 2004, who was grabbed by police officers and tied by an arm to the grille covering the windscreen of their security vehicle  and illegally used as a human shield to try to stop demonstrators throwing stones at them. Muhammad said:  “I was scared when they got me at first. I thought they would put me in prison. I was scared a stone would hit me”.  The 13-year-old’s father, Saeed Baswan, a 34-year-old labourer, said at the time:  ”When I saw him on the hood of the jeep, my whole mind went crazy, It’s a picture you can’t even imagine. He was shivering from fear.”  The incident happened in Muhammad’s home village of Biddo, north-west of Jerusalem, which had become a flashpoint for violence between Israeli forces and demonstrators protesting against the building of the Israeli security fence and Wall on Palestinian territory.

The attached picture was published by an Israeli human rights group trying to expose the behavior of some Israeli security personnel.  Rabbi Arik Ascherman, director of Rabbis For Human Rights, heard about the boy and tried to intervene with the police, demanding he be released.The Rabbi claimed he was head-butted by one of the officers and arrested. He said he intended to press charges against the police.‘The boy was sitting on the hood of a vehicle, unsuccessfully trying to hold back his tears, shivering with fright, and with one arm tied to the screen protecting the windshield,’ he said. “We tried to calm him down and reassure him. I asked if he was hurt. He said he had been beaten and was in pain. ‘It is very depressing that we have come to this position where this is what we do.”

The Israeli ambassador in Dublin might have a word with Rabbi Ascherman about human rights in Israel when he returns to Jerusalem.


Áth Cliath/Dublin,
04 Samhain/November 2011

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Presidential election 2011

Labour landslide takes 

Presidency and wins 

Dublin West By-Election!

O’Higgins elected with over

1,000,000 votes!

Fianna Fáil lose only seat 

in Greater Dublin:

Presidential election turns on trust and statesmanship:

Labour Presidential candidate Michael D. O’Higgins swept to victory in last Thursday’s
Presidential election in Ireland scoring the highest ever individual vote for the office and a historic highest ever margin over other candidates since the office was established in the 1937
Constitution, Bunreacht Na hÉireann. Mr O’Higgins final count total was 1,007,104 and second placed Mr SeánGallagher’s was 628,114.

Mr O’Higgins (70) arrived at the count centre at Dublin Castle with his wife Sabina before the first count was announced. ''I'm very happy. I'm happy with the vote and the support," he said. "I'm very glad that it is so decisive, that the transfers also indicate that it will enable me to be a president for all of the people. I pay tribute to the other candidates for their very long, hard campaign, and they had many good ideas which I will incorporate.''

The President-elect returned in triumph to his home base in Galway city on Saturday where thousands of supporters and citizens turned out to welcome the new First Citizen in the city’s renowned Eyre Square. President-elect O'Higgins made another of his inspiring and cogent speeches promising to use his office to present a clear alternative to the philosophy of greed and selfish individualism which beset the so-called “Celtic Tiger” and brought the country to
financial ruin.

More than 5,000 people had gathered since early afternoon at Eyre Square to welcome back the 9th Irish President to his home city. He told the cheering crowd that he was unable to personally thank the one million-plus who had voted for him, but he was deeply grateful for their support. "I am delighted to be back home in Galway, the place I first came to as a 19-year-old in 1960 ... it's here where my heart is and will forever be," he said.

"I want to say a very sincere thank you for this welcome home - it is a wonderful welcome home. It is the place to where I return and where I will always return because it is of Galway that I am.
"I say to all of you that when I take my oath of office I will do my absolute best to use all of my abilities for all of the people of Ireland. "These abilities have been greatly enhanced by my time in Galway. I love Galway, this great city." He added: "I think that the important thing now for us is to have a celebration and then, with determination, to move into our common shared different future”.

"I hope that at the end of the seven years, people will say that I have been of some inspirational value to them at home in terms of inclusiveness and abroad, I look forward to representing Ireland."  The President-elect said he would shortly visit the Irish in Britain as he had done every year and promised to be their president also.

The sweeping support gained by Mr O’Higgins in all constituencies across the country was due to his qualities as a statesman and his long-time stance as an activist politician who stood for social justice, equality, and fairness and integrity in public life as epitomised by no other candidate in the election. He led in the opinion polls from the start of campaigning and the apparent rise of the “unofficial” Fianna Fáil candidate, Seán Gallagher proved a will o’ the wisp when eventually exposed to withering public scrutiny in the last week of the election.

Labour takes Dublin West, last bastion of Fianna Fáil in the Dublin area:

In a spectacular bonus on top of the presidential victory for Michael D. O’Higgins, Labour councilor Patrick Nulty achieved another  historic victory for the party by winning the Dublin West by-election and  depriving Fianna Fáil of its only seat in the Dublin area since the meltdown of the general election in March this year. Nulty’s final count reached 17,636 almost 6,000 ahead of Fianna Fáil candidate, David McGuinness at 11,590. The seat was the only one held by FF in the capital by former finance Minister, Brian Lenihan whose death from cancer created the vacancy. The strong showing of Socialist Party candidate, Ruth Coppinger, showed the growing strength of the left vote in Dublin and gave no room for complacency in the Labour Party.

The result was a further humiliation for Fianna Fáil, which dominated Irish government for 80 years, but is now a tired and demoralised rump in Dáil Éireann squabbling amongst themselves.

 Subterfuge and deceit backfire on Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, who replaced Brian Cowen before this year’s general election in which the party’s ranks were devastated,, opposed attempts by the party backwoods to nominate a party candidate for President and rebuffed all attempts to do so. The FF banner was then attached to so-called “independent” candidate, Seán Gallagher, a businessman of quite arrogant demeanour who had acquired a “celeb” profile on television as one of the “Dragon’s Den” panel of business men assessing would-be entrepreneurs projects in RTÉ’s imitation of similar “reality” shows on British and US television.

Gallagher’s attempts to position himself in the “independent” Camp of Four at first seemed to bring success in the polls but, then crumbled and reversed under sustained media questioning which showed his deep roots in Fianna Fáil as the party’s youth leader for two years in the 1980’s; close associations with corrupt FF leader Charles J. Haughey and finally on the Monday before the election when Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuiness launched a cruise missile in his direction on the RTÉ Frontline presidential candidates debate, that he had collected a cheque for the party for €5,000 from convicted smuggler Hugh Morgan in County Louth. The disclosures over his ties to Fianna Fáil, culminating in the revelations initiated by McGuinness, prompted a big swing back to Mr O'Higgins, who ran a relatively low-profile but steady campaign.The results show Mr Gallagher failed to recover from the scandals that broke after a series of polls that at two weeks to go had given him a 15 point lead over Mr O'Higgins.

Mr Gallagher, who arrived at the results centre with his wife, Trish O'Connor, said Mr O'Higgins will have his full support as president. “He has given a lifetime of service to this country, and I know he will be an outstanding president,” Mr Gallagher said. Asked if he blamed Mr McGuinness – who had raised  the questions about his involvement in Fianna Fáil fundraising activities earlier in the week - for his drop from top of opinion polls to second in the vote, Mr Gallagher said: “Tonight is not a night for blame.” Drowning of sorrows no doubt followed in the nearest bar. A striking resemblance to "Lex Luthor" villainous enemy of "Superman" in movies and comic books didn't help either!


Martin McGuinness  finished third in the  presidential elections behind  
Michael D. O' Higgins and Sean Gallagher. Mr McGuinness, who stepped down as Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister to run, secured a huge boost for THE party by topping the poll in the Donegal North-East constituency.

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin party president, said the support would bring politics in Northern Ireland and the Republic closer. "I think what we have done is to narrow the gap between politics in the north and the south," Mr Adams said. Mr McGuinness phoned Mr O'Higgins to offer congratulations. "He will make a fine president and I wish him well for his seven years in the Áras," the Sinn Féin candidate said. "I am delighted with the strong vote I have received. My message of positive leadership, patriotism and commitment clearly was resonating with tens of thousands of ordinary Irish people. I believe that Irish people do want a new type of politics and a new Republic based upon equality and respect."

Sinn Féin vice president Mary Lou McDonald said Mr McGuinness's campaign had succeeded in raising issues that were important to Sinn Fein and broke new ground for the party. "For Sinn Féin this is a milestone election," she said. "There was a time - and it's not so long ago - when republicans would have been considered almost a marginal voice in southern politics and today we changed that. "Ms McDonald denied that the furore over Mr McGuinness's IRA past would damage the party in the Republic, noting that his chief critic, Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell, had polled poorly.

Sinn Féin and McGuinness managed to deflect the media inspired campaign to undermine his candidacy by constant dredging up of his participation in the IRA Provos bombing campaign in Northern Ireland 1969-94, and most damaging as far as a southern electorate was concerned, the murder of Limerick Garda, Jerry McCabe, in 1996 during an IRA Provo armed robbery. Despite this and the production of several aggrieved relatives of victims of IRA murders over the entire years of strife in Northern Ireland, Mc Guinness still managed to hold third place overall and top the poll in Donegal North-East constituency. Sinn Féin will be hoping that they have exorcised some of the ghosts of past troubles during this campaign and that it was worthwhile entering this contest in the Republic.

President Gay or Gay President?

The fight for fourth place was fought out by leading gay activist in Ireland, Senator David Norris, Joycean scholar and raconteur, and Gay Mitchell, candidate of Fine Gael, the major party in the current coalition government with Labour established after the general election in March this year.

Mitchell was selected 0n 09/07/11 as Fine Gael's candidate for the presidential election race. Amid internal party strife and backstabbing as the leadership tried to parachute former EU Parliament President and  ideologue Pat Cox of now defunct Progressive Democrat party of Harney and O’Malley Fianna Fáil defectors and other malcontents of the right wing, on an unwilling constituency base Mitchell succeeded in ousting Pox from the running and got the nomination in a firm rebuff of Dame Enda Kenny’s celeb politics.The Dublin MEP said he was honoured to be chosen ahead of other hopefuls former European Parliament president Pat Cox and MEP Mairead McGuinness. Mr Mitchell told party colleagues he had the heart to achieve an historic Fine Gael win in the race to succeed Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin.

"We will take this campaign to every corner of the country" he said. The former junior minister was proposed by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald, and seconded by Limerick West TD Dan Neville. Mr Mitchell said he did not appeal to any one class but to all those who are striving to cope. All turned to dust, however, as Mitchell stumped and grumped his way through the constituencies, a pathetic figure of past absurdities as his favoured euro federalism came crashing to economic ruin. Half-hearted support from Fine Gael TDs and Mitchell’s failure to garner any significant public endorsement ensured inevitable defeat.

 An oddity of the campaign was that Mitchell escaped any serious question of his oft-expressed support for the ending of Irish Neutrality in international conflicts and the alignment of our country with the aggressive NATO bloc, the largest criminal organisation in the world. Mr Mitchell said he was a Fine Gael person to the bone but as president would be an Irish person to the bone. Obviously, Mitchell never read the document brought to London in 1921 by Micheal Collins, long-time Fine Gael hero, in 1921:

Proposals taken by Michael Collins to London for the treaty negotiations with Great Britainin 1921(emphasis added):

ARTICLE II. (For Draft B.)
Ireland agrees to become an external associate of the states of the British Commonwealth. As an associate Ireland's status shall be that of equality with the sovereign partner states of the Commonwealth now separately represented in the British Imperial Council _ Great Britain, Canada, Australia, etc, and shall be so recognised by these several states.

ARTICLE III. of Draft 'A' and ARTICLE V. of 'B'.
(1) Ireland consents to be a neutral State, and the British Commonwealth guarantees the perpetual neutrality of Ireland and the integrity and inviolability of Irish territory.
(2) Ireland undertakes, both in the interest of the Irish People and in friendly regard for the strategic interests of the British Commonwealth, to enter into no compact, and to take no action, nor permit any action to be taken, inconsistent with the obligation of preserving the neutrality, integrity and inviolability of Ireland, and to repel with force any attempt to violate Irish territory or to use Irish territorial waters for warlike purposes.

ARTICLE IV. of Draft A. and ARTICLE — of B.
Ireland will make, and his Britannic Majesty will support Ireland in making, a request to the respective Governments of the United States of America, and of all other States, not being members of the League of Nations, with whom his Britannic Majesty entertains diplomatic relations formally to recognise and guarantee the perpetual neutrality, integrity and inviolability of Ireland.

Ireland will request, and the several partner States of the British Commonwealth will support Ireland in requesting the Council and Assembly of the League of Nations formally to recognise and guarantee the perpetual neutrality as well as the integrity and inviolability of Ireland.

(Dept of Foreign Affairs IRL, archives,

This commitment of the first Dáil Éireann to perpetual neutrality for independent Ireland has long been reneged on by Fine Gael and particularly by Mitchell himself who was particularly vocal during the two Lisbon Treaty referendums in 2009 and 2010 in advocating the militarisation of the EU and Ireland joining the aggressive NATO bloc. Mitchell also supported the NATO aggressive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and the continued use of Shannon Airport by US military and “rendition” flights.

Asked if Fine Gael had chosen to run the wrong candidate, Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, said Mr Mitchell had been selected by party process and the party had to live with the decision. Fine Gael was still performing well in party polls and Enda Kenny remained a popular leader, he added.Fine Gael’s deputy director of election, Frank Flannery, acknowledged Mr Mitchell was not what the public was looking for this time around. “I think the reality of the election was that the public wanted a candidate in the office of president almost as similar as they could to the two recent ones who they see as people as stature and people of independence, with the presidency an office in its own right and not related to or not the property of any political party,” he said. “In a way the more closely a candidate was associated with a political party . . . the more difficult it was to fit that public profile.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had said that the next presidency would be the most crucial since the foundation of the State. Thankfully, Fine Gael won’t be running it.

Áth Cliath/Dublin
02 Samhain/November 2011.