Category Archives: Irish politics

Bobby Fischer, his Mum and the Grunwick picket line.

Like many people I am an avid reader of the ‘letters pages’ which are published in the daily newspapers, I especially like the Guardian and Daily Telegraph’s. I often marvel at a letter that cuts to the core of its subject matter in a single paragraph, sheer class. Then there are those like the example I republish below from Graham Taylor which reinforces one’s own opinion, yet in the process manages to tell us something new and interesting.

Monday January 21, 2008
The Guardian

Your reporter Stephen Moss (Death of a madman driven sane by chess, January 19) mentions that Bobby Fischer’s mother was “an immensely strong-willed woman”. In 1977, standing on the Grunwick picket line in north-west London, I recognised Regina Fischer and introduced myself. “Ah yes,” she said grimly, “you’re the one who writes all those horrible things about Bobby.” I explained that I would be delighted to learn that Bobby’s alleged views on the inferiority of women, the evils of socialism and the duplicity of the Jews had been totally misrepresented, and I would be sure to get published whatever she told me.

She considered this offer carefully. After some thought, she handed me a slice of the orange she was eating and said: “I forgive you.” She added some words on the significance of vegetarianism and the meaningfulness of giving fruit. “But now,” she said with absolute conviction, “I will stop this bus.”
For months, hundreds of pickets, including Arthur Scargill and the Yorkshire miners, had tried to stop the strike-breaking Grunwick bus from crossing the picket line, but without success, for massed police lines held back the pickets as the bus drove through the factory gates at speed. Some time later the bus appeared, as it did every day, cleaving its way through the enraged crowd. As it reached the gate, Regina threw herself in front of its wheels. Braking sharply, it ground to a halt. This was the only time during the historic Grunwick strike that the infamous bus was stopped by a demonstrator.

Graham Taylor



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Filed under Booby-Fischer chess, Irish politics, letters-page, Organized Rage

Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley: Every picture tells a story.

They say every every picture tells a story and as far as the photo at the top of this piece is concerned it is a sad and pathetic tale. For if ever there was an example of how far Sinn Fein’s leadership has been enticed into the mire of big business it is this photo of the north of Irelands very own ‘chuckle brothers’, Martin McGuinness alongside the religious bigot Ian Paisley when taking the begging bowl to the New York Stock Exchange. OK some might say having signed up for the mockney Stormont Administration Martin McGuinness as Paisleys deputy first Minister must go through the motions, perhaps but if so does he have to look like he is enjoying it so much. Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London has to mix in a similar unsavory environment but he manages to do it without losing his dignity.

The New York Stock Exchange is not some harmless and neutral force, but an organization which with a spin of its roulette wheel can impoverish billions of people around the world. We are now being told that whilst in New York one of the ‘Chuckle Brothers’ met Donald Trump; and attempted to entice him to come over to the north of Ireland and ruin part of the historic coastline with a housing project and golf course designed for the super rich. Trump is notorious for constructing these unsightly abominations around the world and to suggest Trump has no moral compass would be an understatement. After the construction of these so called millionaires paradises, the only advantages they bring to the local economy is at best minimum wage jobs. The disadvantages are numerous, not least once Trumps monstrosities are built in their wake come legions of mini monstrosities of the type favored by Ian Paisleys son.

In the past there have been rumors about Martin McGuinness being either a British informer or someone the UK State regarded as an asset worth protecting and encouraged his rise to the top of the greasy pole. I know nothing about any of this, but it does worry me that a man who claims to oppose both the British in Ireland and capitalism can appear so comfortable when he visits the powerhouses of global Capital.


Filed under EU/Germany/Politics/Trade Unions/unacceptable face of c, Ian Paisley, IRA, Irish politics, Martin McGuinness, New-York-stock-exchange, north of Ireland-Polıtıcs, socialism, UK, USA

Muhammad the Teddy Bear: A clash of civilizations.

The brouhaha about Gillian Gibbons is interesting, not least because it confirms there are idiots in Khartoum as well as Whitehall. The British school teacher who whilst working in a primary school in Sudan, was accused of insulting Islam by allowing her seven-year-old pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Ms Gibbons deserves a smidgin of blame for her current predicament, for we all must when guests in an another country be aware of the nuances and pitfalls that might befall us. Although we should not really heap that much blame on her for not being up to speed about the idiots who work within the Sudanese state bureaucracy. It seems pretty obvious to me that the crass stupidity; or bigotry of the kafir type displayed in this case by a tiny section of the Sudanese authorities has nothing to do with Islam, but simply demonstrated that nincompoops and opportunist’s lurk within all State bureaucracies.

If I were to be charitable I would put this down to a lack of knowledge by the legal authorities in Khartoum about the intricacies of the British people’s behavior. For the humble teddy-bear is held in the upmost esteem by all British people, whether Christian, Hindi’s, Muslim’s or non believers. Far from an insult to call ones teddy after the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, it is the highest complement a child can pay. As when the child becomes an adult, the memories of their teddy will be as sharp in their minds as any living being and will stay with them for the rest of their days.

Stop any adult on a UK Street and they will immediately be able to tell you the name of their first childhood friend, their teddy-bear. I suspect having decided by democratic vote to give their school teddy the name of the Prophet Muhammad, [peace be upon him] the children in the Khartoum school thought they were paying respect to a great man. Perhaps in the security of their own bedrooms Sudanese children are little different from their UK counterparts and also regard their teddies with great affection

As to Ms Gibbons who has now been sentenced to 15 days of jail time, I hope these day pass quickly and she returns to her home safely. Whilst to lose ones freedom is never nice I’m certain she will meet new friends, as prisons have many decent and kind people within them who for all sorts of reasons find themselves doing time.


Filed under A -clash-of-civilizations, Gillian-Gibbons, Irish politics, Khartoum, Organized Rage, political Islam, teddy-bear, UK

American Gangster Review

I ignored my own maxim of always checking out the cook before sitting down to eat when I went to the cinema without giving a thought to who directed the film I was about to watch. The film was American Gangster and the director Ridley Scott of Gladiator fame, which had I known would have forewarned me that American Gangster would be lite on facts.

The films two main characters and adversaries, Frank Lucus, [Denzel Washington] a former long time driver, bodyguard and gofer of Harlem underworld kingpin Bumpy Johnson; who after Johnson’s death goes on to become a major importer of Heroin;and Richie Roberts, [Russell Crowe] the New Jersey cop who supposedly brought Lucus down. Lucus is portrayed in the movie as Mr Super-cool, who, we are asked to believe not only comes up with the idea of importing high grade Heroin from the south east Asian golden triangle, but he himself goes into the ‘triangle’ to cut the deal.

As to the Russell Crowe character Ritchie Roberts, he could have been an out-take of the cop Crowe played in LA Confidential, accept his blind violence has been replaced with an equally absurd blind honesty. His honest streak is amplified by Ridley Scott portraying every other cop in the movie, bar Roberts and his team as being corrupt to the core, indeed the only police work these cops ever do in the film is skim and steal the money of the villains they should be out arresting.

I have no idea if this was true of the the police in 1960’s America, but if so, it does not explain how the gallant Detective Ritchie Roberts managed to survive in such a corrupt environment. For example we are asked to believe he hands in almost a million dollars in unmarked bills against the wishes of his partner; and all he suffered was a little scorn and irritation from his supposedly corrupt fellow officers. Frank Serpico had to move to Switzerland after acting in a similar incorruptible way. Yet Ridley Scott asks us to believe that in a police force that is portrayed as corrupt from top to bottom, Detective Richie gets promoted, gains his own squad and ends up an affluent lawyer. [bookmark this fact dear readers]

The most that can be said for this movie is that it is an entertaining way to spend two and a half hours. Which is a crying shame because this is a tale worth telling, and in a more political director and screen writers hands this could have been a brilliant American film. Instead as with the movie The Departed, which was about Whitey Bulger the Boston Irish gangster, which Jack Nicholson’s presence ruined, all we get with American Gangster is a vehicle for star exposure.

The real truth of the heroin that Frank Lucus imported into the USA is a far more murky tale than that of crooked cops and a Harlem drug dealer. For it centers on the CIA and corruption in the US army’s chain of command. In the whole of American Gangster there is only a single, unexplained clip which hints at the bigger picture. This is when Army spooks look on as the Heroin is loaded on to US army planes to be imported into the USA from south east Asia.

It is nonsensical to believe as the movie portrays, that a black heavy from New York, at the hight of the Vietnam war, could fly into Thailand and link up with a serving US army NCO, then travel into the Golden Triangle and negotiate a massive drugs deal, not least because the drugs cartels operating in that region during that period were all in the pay of the CIA. Lucus then on a nod and a wink arranges shipment of the narcotics into the USA courtesy of Uncle Sam.

That Frank Lucus was a narcotics importer and distributor is true, but the movie is asking us to believe that in middle age, this man who had spent his entire life up until Bumpy Johnson death as a gofer. Suddenly emerges a a Capo in his own right with the ability to outwit the Italian Mafia, CIA and US army intel, and survive. The more likely story is that Frank Lucus was approached by the CIA to front the Blue Magic drugs business. After all if we are to believe the movie Patriotism was strong with Frank Lucus. Plus the period in question was a time when many young blacks were turning to radical politics, the Black Panthers and the like. Someone in the Agency may have thought a stoned out black America was preferable to a radicalized black America demanding their democratic rights.

Two subsequent events point to the aforementioned, firstly despite having been intricately involved in one of the most important drug cartels in US history, Lucus was treated extremely leniently by the US criminal justice system. The movie even claims that Ritchie Roberts, the detective who supposedly brought him down, paid Lucus son through college and supported his family whilst he was in jail, which even the most naive person would find pretty preposterous. Although the CIA paying off an old debt would not sound so daft. It is also a fact that hardly any of the scores of serving US army personnel who must have been involved in the importation chain found themselves in court.

Secondly in the 1980s it became common knowledge that the CIA were using South and Central American cocaine cartels to finance illegal operations against the government’s of Nicaragua and Iran. At the time it was said that US army air-bases were used to import cocaine into the USA, which would be off loaded and arms intended for the contras would be reloaded and shipped out. In other words these activities look suspiciously like Frank Lucus operations in the late 1960-early 70’s, coincidence?


Filed under American gangster, CIA, corruption, drug cartel, golden triangle, Irish politics, movies, neoliberalism, smuggling, USA, US_army

Should Iraqi Translators be given Asylum in UK and USA?

The controversy that has erupted on the internet and within sections of the media, over whether Iraqi translators working alongside ‘Coalition’ Forces in Iraq, should be given political asylum in the United Kingdom and USA may not be all it seems. As clearly there are much wider implications to this story that go beyond the translators in question and it would be interesting to know who originally dropped this particular pebble into the WWW/media pond. Could it have been someone at the heart of the US or UK Administrations.

Those who are old enough will still remember vividly the TV pictures from the US Embassy in Saigon, when the last of the US armed forces and Embassy staff began to withdraw from Vietnam as the Vietcong/PAVN approached the outskirts of the city, thousands of panic stricken Vietnamese collaborators turned up at the Embassy and demanded that they and their families be given the sanctuary in the USA they had been promised. When this was refused due to a callousness in Washington and the swiftness of the Vietcong/PAVN advance into Saigon, which left the US forces on the ground without the time or means to ferry the majority of their former allies out of the country to safety. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese people who had given their loyalty to the USA for well over a decade, were left to the mercy of their Vietnamese enemies .

Could it be that having no desire to see a rerun on our TV screens of those tragic events, the US and UK governments are attempting to smooth an escape path for the thousands of Iraqis who have collaborated with the Coalition in occupied Iraq.

So far the campaign for asylum has centered on a comparatively small number of Iraqis who have been working in the field as translators for coalition forces. However if this group were to be given the green light to enter the US and UK, there is little doubt there would be a horde of fearful Iraqis on their tail, who have also taken the invaders shilling and who would be demanding the same right to asylum. Better for the two governments to acclimatize their own people with the likelihood of this now, than suddenly announcing a mass influx of Iraqi refugees in the wake of coalition forces being brought home.

Already many of those Iraqis who are on contracts working either directly for the coalition forces, or the multi nationals like Haliburton, have moved their families out of Iraq; and into the surrounding countries in the belief that if and when the US pull out begins, they will be reunited either in the USA or UK. For those Iraqis who have attempted to fill their pockets with coalition gold or even loose change, unless they sit near the top of the greasy pole their future at home looks bleak. Make no mistake everyone from former Government Ministers to the pool boy at the US Embassy will be applying for asylum and not without reason. For once the US either pull out or retire hurt to fortress like zones, the Iraqi people will understandably demand their pound of flesh from those who collaborated with the coalition forces, who have made their lives a misery over the last four years.

Far from being welcomed as allies, many if not a majority of people within the US and UK feel they have no obligation what so ever to these Iraqi people. Due to the increasing hostility to the war and occupation of Iraq, there is little sympathy towards those Iraqis who worked for the coalition forces. Many even regard them as Quislings to their own people who will have to answer to their own for their collaboration. Whilst politicians especially George Bush, the British Defense Minister Des Browne and their media gofers still talk about their armed forces in the language of the second war period, in reality few if any people believe their armies presence in Iraq is protecting them from invasion, occupation or personal harm; and almost nobody believes those service personnel who have had their lives stolen by Bush and Blairs disastrous decision to invade Iraq, died to protect their kith and kin back home.

The vast majority just want this infantile criminal war and occupation to end, and the last thing they want is to be reminded of it by having an Iraqi Quisling living next door. At best feeling that their tax dollars/pounds and armed forces removed Saddam from power and it is now for Iraqis to rebuild there land, thus their place for good or band is back home.

A harsh assessment it is true, but if one looks at the Algerians who collaborated with the French against the FLN in their struggle for independence; and who were re-settled to southern France after the French withdrew from north Africa. It is far from a success story, the French State all but abandoned them in a strange and hostile environment. Their children and grandchildren who were born in France are rightly bitter and angry and 50 years later are still having to fight for equality and respect. The reason for this betrayal of their former allies, was that few Frenchmen wished to be reminded of a disastrous war. When it comes to Iraq, I doubt the British or Americans will be any different.


Filed under Iraq, Iraqi translators, Irish politics, neo-imperialism, UK, USA

Getting Away with Murder

The article below was first published in The Sunday Life, which is published in the north of Ireland. I have posted it up as it highlights the criminal collusion that took place between the British security forces and members of para-military groups during the PIRA insurgency, up to and including murder. Thus it is imperative that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is brought into being within the north so that such criminality can be brought into the public spotlight. Without which it is difficult to see how the two communities can reforge their relationship in peace and tolerance.

MP could have been saved
Sunday, April 15, 2007

By Greg Harkin
It was reported last week that MI5 officers and Ministry of Defence officials had started destroying documents relating to past crimes in Northern Ireland – particularly cases where collusion had been alleged.

This is assuming they have any files left to destroy. In June 2003, I reported how thousands of documents on some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles had already been destroyed – even before former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens had asked for them.

Documents can provide a paper trail, leading to embarrassing secrets being uncovered.

Many files relating to the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane ‘disappeared’.

One case that does not require documents of any sort because it is so clear is that of agent and self-confessed killer Martin McGartland.

McGartland was recruited as an informer by RUC Special Branch in the late 1980s before claiming that he made a dramatic escape from the IRA’s so-called ‘nutting squad’.

On June 19, 1991, soldier Tony Carlos Harrison was shot dead by two IRA men who burst into his girlfriend’s home at Nevis Avenue in east Belfast. McGartland drove the gunmen to and from the murder scene. Harrison had been on leave to discuss his future wedding plans with his fiancée. His murder was witnessed by her, her mother and a terrified 10-year-old girl.

McGartland continued to work for Special Branch after the murder in spite of his role being in clear breach of guidelines – not to say, obviously, the law.

In 1997, in a letter to a London newspaper, McGartland admitted his role in the killing, but said he did not have time to tell his handlers.

“I deeply regret what happened, but I accept responsibility for my role in the events of that day,” he said.

He claimed he had spent a month trying to help the security forces to identify who a target in that area of east Belfast could be.

“We were outraged that McGartland was asking for money and desperately hoped his claim (for compensation) would fail,” said Harrison’s father, Steve Seaman, a retired school caretaker from Bow, east London.

“It was sickening that some MPs could support a man who was an accomplice to our son’s murderers.

“Tony would be married now with children. But he is dead and that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

“He had been a soldier for six years and we knew that there was a risk he might die in action.

“But to be shot in the back while watching television with his girlfriend is so worthless, so cowardly.

“He had talked to his mother only an hour or so before, asking how to cook pasta. And then he died, just like that.”

McGartland claims he gave his RUC contacts the names of the two IRA men involved.

The case caused a furore inside the office of the Police Ombudsman in August 2002. Investigators decided – incredibly – not to investigate the murder of Pte Harrison.

They also decided not to question McGartland about the murder – in spite of the family’s anger and frustration.

However, not everyone inside the Belfast office agreed with the decision.

A former investigator told Sunday Life: “I personally wanted McGartland held responsible for murder, but that idea was overruled, and, to this day, I don’t know why.

“It was an open and shut case – man is murdered, man admits murder. I thought it was as simple as that, but it wasn’t.

“Informers and touts have participation status, allowed to commit a crime to prevent a greater one – but the greatest crime was committed in this case. Yet nothing happened.

“It was like deciding not to look at ‘Stakeknife’ when we had the chance more than five years ago. We should have investigated.”

Nuala O’Loan and her investigators have – belatedly – started to look at the role of agents in the Troubles.

Freddie ‘Stakeknife’ Scappaticci is just one of them.

Three others who have never been identified and are still working within the republican movement are also being looked at.

Some agents who believed they had made it to the end of the Troubles without getting caught out will be very worried indeed.

The irony is that it is now republican policy to tell the police everything . . .

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“What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone”

Mick Hall • 19 March 2007

The London and Dublin broadsheets have been full of articles which claimed the elections for the Stormont Assembly, which took place in the north of Ireland on the 7th March, were a victory for the Democratic process. Some even went as far as to claim that the DUP and SF, having emerged from the polls as the two largest parties within the Assembly, ‘had seen off any threat from extremists’. (The Guardian proclaimed in a headline, “Voters rebuff extremists and give hope for Stormont Assembly” [9.3.07.])

Those of us who have followed the antics of the leaders of these two organizations, Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley may shudder just a little at this, for in their past practice they have both shown scant regard for Democratic niceties, accountability or practice. Indeed if they had, the six counties may not have descended into what can only described as an in-terminal nightmare of death and destruction, which lasted for over four decades. Whilst neither men can be blamed for creating the fault-line that has been inherent within the northern Statelet since its inception, they both shoulder a great responsibility for violently driving the sectarian wedge into the shifting plates, and thus splintering the two communities asunder.

Whilst the end of para-military violence is to be welcomed, any Stormont Administration which emerges out of the recent election will be far short of being a democratic government —as most who live in Western Democracies understand the term— and to pretend otherwise is to display an absolute contempt for the Irish people. What we will have is an elected sectarian dictatorship that came into being due to the British Government and their Unionist acolytes’ desire to end the PIRA insurgency whilst maintaining the status quo. They have achieved this by covering, with a charade of democratic foliage, the right of the Unionist minority within Ireland to have a permanent veto on the political reunification of the Irish Nation. That the SF leadership were enticed into supporting this by the offer of a Ministerial limo and the trappings of a departmental brief is bewildering —not only for Mr Adams’ Republican critics, but also his friends, although many of the latter have now convinced themselves that when the time is right, Mr Adams will pull a rabbit out of his hat which will still make it possible for reunification to take place by 2016, as he once predicted with such certainty. I fear they are in for a bitter disappointment. In reality all the SF Ministries will contain will be a giant rubber stamp with a crown on its head, and a cash point from which the SF ‘ministers’ will be allowed to finance a small number of pork barreled projects to keep the boyos quiet in their retirement.

The whole point about a democratic system is when one tires of the government of the day, you vote them out. Not in the north of Ireland it seems, for there the best you can hope for is a form of Ministerial musical chairs. If the electorate so decides, true, the First Minister can be replaced if their party is no longer the lead Unionist party, but it is only to be a shuffling of the Ministerial pack, for were he to be dismissed by the electorate, a politician of a similar religious hue and political persuasion would take his place. (*It is always a he with the Unionists.) Far from the departing First Minister being on their way to the opposition benches; if he so wished, he would simply take up another Ministerial seat further down the political food chain.

There will be no opposition within the Stormont Assembly, which, for example, can pass a motion of no confidence; even if there were it would be pointless, for the same people from the same parties would be nominated for ministerial office all over again. True, a few MLAs from the minority Alliance and Green Party, plus an independent member of the Assembly have had the common decency to come together in the hope of performing the task of some sort of opposition, a duty which in any functioning democracy worthy of the name the main opposition party would have filled, but 9 out of 108 MLA’s will never be able to hold the executive to account.

From the UK State’s point of view, things could not have turned out better. They will have in place an administration in the north of Ireland which has all the trappings of a Democracy for the gullible to be enticed by, but it will in reality have none of the powers of such an institution for the reasons I have given, plus the fact that London will control the purse strings. Good or bad, whatever this mockney Stormont administration does, all the main northern political parties will be accountable, for ‘cabinet’ responsibility will prevail. Thus if the DUP ministers enact some paltry piece of legislation the Shinners disagree with, they can hardly object and remain in the Stormont administration. The Shinners, having spent such energies in getting into the Stormont system, are not going to expose its short comings and bring it down around their ears (even if the GFA allowed them to, which it doesn’t). So they will sit fast in their ministerial seats, neutered as the British government always intended, whilst the real show goes on in London, with an odd encore from the Dublin players.

Peace is good, but peace without honour can never be the end game.

First published on The Blanket []

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