2008 Published Letters


Irish Voice Dec. 24 - Jan. 13, 2008

Annual CABHAIR Christmas Swim

Dear Sirs:
Many of us are busy this time of the year getting prepared for Christmas -- selecting gifts for loved ones, planning the dinner menu, baking cookies, looking forward to being with our families and friends, etc. It is very sad that the families of Irish political prisoners can not share in these joyful holiday activities. They can not share Christmas together at home feasting on favorite homecooked holiday dishes. They can not share any of their holiday celebrations together.

Currently there are nearly 100 Irish republican political prisoners being held in British and Irish prisons on both sides of Britain's border in Ireland and in England.

At this time of year especially, these families need to know that they have our support. They need to know that others care about the sacrifices they make for the cause. That is why I support the annual CABHAIR Christmas Swim which will again be held this year on Christmas morning at the Grand Canal in Inchicore, Dublin. Cabhir supports dependants and family members of republican political prisoners. For more information please see www.irishfreedom.net.

Jane Enright
Woodside, NY

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Irish Voice - Nov. 26-Dec. 2, 2008

"Defending Soldiers' Honor,"

Patrick O'Reilly's letter in last week's issue, "Defending Soldiers' Honor," was in response to my letter of the previous week, "Sinn Fein hypocrisy." In his letter, Mr. O'Reilly claimed that my letter was "full of inaccuracies."
I stand by the facts in my letter although I do wish to clarify two points.
First, I did use the phrase "Royal Irish Regiment (RIR), formerly known as the Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR)." Mr. O"Reilly was correct when he stated that the RIR was formed in 1992 by a merger of the UDR and the Royal Irish Rangers.
However, as the website of the British Ministry of Defense states, most of the members of the RIR came from the UDR. In addition, British government officials still commonly refer to the RIR as 'UDR/RIR' (for example, see official website of the UK Parliament's Publications and Records).
Mr. O'Reilly misunderstood my statement that the RIR remains 100% unionist today. I was not referring to the regiment's religious makeup.
The regiment's Home Service batallions were responsible for assisting the Royal Ulster Constabulary (a/k/a the police) in enforcing British (a/ka/a the union's) law and control in the six Irish counties occupied by Britain and thus its soldiers enforce the polices of the "union."
In fact, the RIR was formed to reduce the number of military personnel after the end of the Cold War, and to improve the image of British soldiers stationed in the north of Ireland specifically because the UDR had been so thoroughly discredited as a violent and sectarian institution (See numerous citations on the Internet by then General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland, John Wilsey. See also "The Ulster Defense Regiment: An Instrument for Peace," by Chris Ryder, 1991).
The primary points I intended to make in that letter were (1) that the British Ministry of Defense's 'homecoming parade' in the still occupied six counties -- for a regiment comprised at least partly of UDR soldiers -- was an affront to the people they have terrorized directly and via their Loyalist paramilitary co-conspirators and ; (2) that Provisional Sinn Fein has no right to protest British military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan while they support it in the north of Ireland.
Apparently, Mr. O'Reilly is bitter about last year's disbandment of the Home Service batallions of the RIR. Just because Irish soldiers have been, as you stated, "serving in the British Army just like their forefathers have done for hundreds of years" doesn't mean they should have been helping a foreign power to maintain military control over part of their own country!

Jane Enright
Woodside, New York

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Belfast Telegraph -  Dec. 4, 2008

"Retail Republicans"

Fianna Fail politicians are as ‘republican' as Provisional Sinn Fein’s politicians — that is, they aren't.

Both signed away the six counties in the Stormont Agreement and now the FF Finance Minister tells Irish shoppers that shopping in the 26 counties is their patriotic duty? We in New York call that chutzpah!

Jane Enright
Woodside, New York

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Irish News (Belfast) -: Dec. 2, 2008

Fianna Fail Politicians

Fianna Fail (FF) politicians are as 'republican' as Provisional Sinn Fein's -- that is, they aren't. Both parties signed away the six counties in 1998's Stormont Agreement and now FF Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has the nerve to tell Irish shoppers that shopping in the 26 counties is their patriotic duty? We in New York City call that chutzpah!

Jane Enright
Woodside, New York

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Saoirse - 11/08

Everyone Should See this film

A chara,

On Sunday, September 28, three members of the National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) and I attended a screening of the acclaimed Bobby Sands biopic, Hunger, at the New York Film Festival.  It is a powerful and gutwrenching account of the 1981 hunger strike during which Bobby Sands and nine other men died.

Prior to the film, the four of us distributed approximately 150 flyers to film-goers. Very few refused to take a flyer and I received no negative comments from anyone. We were approached by an Argentinian woman by the name of Alicia, who told us she

was seeing the film for the second time (it was also screened the day before). She told us how she became involved in the Irish struggle during the British/Argentine conflict over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands.  While protesting outside the British Consulate in New York, she got to know many Irish activists and became interested in Irish Republican politics.

Alicia said she wrote to Bobby Sands in prison although by that time he was already on hunger strike. She struck me as a bright and passionate woman and I now wish that I had asked for her phone number. I bet she would be an interesting friend. Alicia

consented to repeat her story on tape which will be added to the NIFC website (www.irishfreedom.net). “Everyone should see this film” she said. Hunger dramatizes life inside Long Kesh prison and the events surrounding the 1981 IRA/INLA hunger strike. This drama focuses primarily on the prison experience of Bobby Sands, a 27 year old Belfast resident and IRA Volunteer, convicted of possession of firearms and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.

In its short 90 minutes, this brilliant and powerful film – not one minute wasted, by the way – managed to portray the brutality these men endured in Long Kesh and the events that forced them to go on hunger strike. Daily life on the blanket, the reality of the dirty protest, the forced washings by prison guards, the cruelty of the ‘gauntlet,’ the barbarity of the beatings, the loneliness and isolation, the factors that lead to the decision to go on hunger strike, and the horrendous physical and psychological ordeal they underwent every day while their bodies broke down until they finally went blind, deaf and ultimately died, were vividly depicted.

Surprisingly, given the subject matter, Hunger was objectively filmed. The film opens with the beginning of a work-day for a prison guard who is seen checking underneath his car for explosives and watching for snipers outside his home as he prepares to leave for work.

Watching this film was excruciatingly painful. There were several scenes that I could not watch. The sounds and sights of beatings these young men endured was heart breaking. This movie filled me with painful empathy and deep respect for these brave young men. It also made me angry.

Life in Long Kesh was gruesome. That said I am so very glad I saw this film. It made the hunger strike more real to me, more visceral We should not forget that today there are close to 100 Irish political prisoners in British prisons without Special Category Status because Provisional Sinn Fein (sic) gave away these rights when they signed the Stormont Agreement in 1998.

 JANE ENRIGHT

Woodside, New York      

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Irish Echo - 11/ 19-25/08

Hypocritical Sinn Fein  ( 1 )

PROVISIONAL Sinn Fein has received criticism recently in several Irish papers for its protest at the Belfast homecoming parade for British soldiers returning from Iraq. The basis for much of the criticism is that the protest is a political move designed to sour community relations.

In the October 20 Irish Times it was reported that Sinn Fein Assembly member Alex Maskey said that the protest would be a peaceful and dignified parade designed to highlight opposition to the “illegal wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan and “to highlight the many victims of the British Army, UDR and the Royal Irish Regiment here at home.”

Is this not the same party that signed away Ireland’s claim to the six counties in the Belfast Agreement? Is this not the same party that now sits in Stormont administering British rule? It is hypocritical to protest against British aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan while supporting British rule in Ireland!

Jane Enright
Woodside, New York


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The Irish Voice - 11/9/08

Ó bama agus na H-Éireannaigh (O Bama and the Irish)

 

  Dear Editor

The election of Barack Obama was welcomed in Ireland as it was with many people around the world  The Irish are pondering the effects that the coming changes will have on their lives and their culture

Perhaps the clue lies with those revelers around the world who displayed such joy. There was no hint from anyone that they expected a handout from the future president. But their joy was a thing to behold and caused some of us to wonder if they knew something that escaped us. 

It appears that many victimized indigenous people seen the election of Barack Obama as just a small step in a new beginning for them. More than likely, many people are happy because they hope that it is the first crack in the centuries of the colonist Anglo Saxon hegemony that was driven by slavery and based on self righteous racial superiority that ruined their lives. 

While it is not politically correct or financially lucrative for the establishment in Ireland to acknowledge that part of Ireland is still under the Anglo Saxon, the lesson of Obama’s miracle will eventually change their political landscape. 

Activists Irish republicans in America should also understand from this election that all things are possible including a reversal of the US policy of denying visas to proponents Éire Nua and that the Ó Bama will not make it easy- but possibly, just possible 

 Míċeál Ó Coisdealbha

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Irish Echo - 11/5/08

Still many political prisoners

 Editor: 

The Bobby Sands biopic, ‘Hunger,’ was shown at the recent New York Film Festival. Earlier, director Steve McQueen’s film won the Camera d’Or award for the best first feature Film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Bobby Sands died at the age of 27 after 66 days on hunger strike in the notorious Long Kesh prison. Sands was the first of 10 Irish political prisoners to die on hunger strike in 1981, strikes which they staged in order to regain political status (“Special Category Status”) for IRA and INLA prisoners in British prisons. 

The British government, under Margaret Thatcher attempted to vilify these men by revoking the special status previously given to Irishmen and women convicted of political offenses. They were reclassified as common criminals. After numerous failed attempts at negotiation, these men volunteered to undertake a hunger strike. 

On October 3, 1981, after ten men died on hunger strike, political status was finally restored to Irish republican political prisoners. However, with the signing of the British authored Good Friday agreement in 1998, this hard won right to political status was signed away by Gerry Adams and Provisional Sinn Féin. 

Today, there are close to 100 Irish political prisoners held in prisons in Ireland, England and the still occupied Six Counties. Most of these prisoners were arrested under special  “anti‑terror” laws that have been condemned by human rights groups around the world, including Amnesty International and the European Court of Human Rights, and convicted in special non‑jury courts.

Bobby Sands and the other hunger strikers did not die so that their former republican colleagues would sign away Ireland’s claim to the Six Occupied Counties, sign away the rights of political prisoners, and sit in Stormont administering British “justice” while taking fat British paychecks. These are the achievements of the Good Friday agreement. 

There is a better all‑Ireland solution than the Good Friday agreement, which can never result in a 32‑county Republic, nor achieve peace nor justice because the GFA did not address the root cause of the conflict: the continued occupation of the six counties by Britain and the accompanying sectarian application of what it calls justice. 

The Irish‑authored Eire Nua (New Ireland) peace proposal for a four‑province federal system of government with self‑governing parliaments in each of the four provinces, as promoted by Republican Sinn Féin in Ireland and the National Irish Freedom Committee in the United States, would provide for a lasting peace and a truly just system of government for all people.

 Jane Enright

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Saoirse, Oct. 2008

ÉIRE NUA Would Provide a Lasting Peace
A chara,
On September 27th and 28th, the Bobby Sands biopic, Hunger, will be shown at the New York Film Festival in Manhattan. Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen won the Camera d’Or award for the Best First Feature Film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Bobby Sands died at the age of 27 after 66 days on hunger strike in the notorious Long Kesh prison in the Occupied Six Counties of Ireland. He was the first of 10 Irish political prisoners to die on hunger strike in 1981, which they staged in order to regain
political status (“Special Category Status”) for IRA and INLA prisoners in British prisons.

The British government, under Margaret Thatcher, attempted to vilify these men by revoking the Special Category Status previously given to Irishmen and women convicted of political activities. On October 3, 1981 – after ten men died on hunger strike – political status was finally restored to Irish Republican political prisoners. However, with the signing of the British authored
Stormont Agreement in 1998, this hard-won right to political status was signed away by Gerry Adams and the Provisionals.

Today there are close to 100 Irish political prisoners held in prisons in Ireland, England and the (still) occupied Six Counties. Most of these prisoners were arrested under special “anti-terror” laws that have been condemned by human rights groups around
the world, including Amnesty International and the European Court of Human Rights, and convicted in special jury-less courts.

Bobby Sands and the other hunger strikers did not die so that their former Republican colleagues would sign away Ireland’s claim to the Six Occupied Counties, sign away the rights of political prisoners, and sit in Stormont administering British “justice” while taking fat British pay checks. These are the ‘achievements’ of the Stormont Agreement.

There is a better all-Ireland solution than the Stormont Agreement , which can never result in a 32-County Republic nor achieve peace nor justice because it did/does not address the root cause of the conflict: the continued occupation of the Six Counties by Britain and the accompanying sectarian application of what it calls justice.

The Irish-authored ÉIRE NUA (New Ireland) peace proposal for a four-province federal system of government with self-governing
parliaments in each of the four provinces, as promoted by Republican Sinn Féin in Ireland and the National Irish Freedom Committee in the United States, would provide for a lasting peace and a truly just system of government for all people.

JANE ENRIGHT
Woodside, New York

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Astoria Times - 10/23/08

Movie about Hunger Strike Defined Meaning of Courage

On Sept. 28, three other National Irish Freedom Committee members and I attended a screening of the acclaimed Bobby Sands biopic "Hunger" at the New York Film Festival. 

"Hunger," British director Steve McQueen's first film, won the Best First Feature Film award at this year's Cannes Film Festival. It is a powerful and gut-wrenching account of the 1981 hunger strike during which Sands and nine other men died. 

"Hunger" dramatizes life inside Long Kesh Prison outside Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the events surrounding the 1981 Irish Republican Army/Irish National Liberation Army hunger strike. This drama focuses primarily on the prison experience of Sands, a 27-year-old Belfast resident and IRA volunteer, convicted of firearms possession and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. 

Sands died May 5 after 66 days on the strike in Long Kesh. Sands was the first of 10 Irish political prisoners to die on the strike, undertaken to regain political status (special category status) for IRA and INLA prisoners in British prisons. 

Political status was eventually restored to Irish republican political prisoners on Oct. 3, 1981, but only after Sands and nine other men had died. 

The British government, under then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, attempted to vilify these men by revoking the SCS previously given to Irish men and women convicted of political offenses. They were reclassified as criminals. After numerous failed attempts at negotiation, these men volunteered to undertake the hunger strike. 

This film is a graphic account of the last few months of Sands' life. Although I have read many accounts of the strike, this film gripped me at a deeper emotional level. These were young men willing to die for their cause, men with their whole lives ahead of them. 

In 90 minutes, this film managed to portray the brutality these men endured in Long Kesh and the events that forced them to go on the strike. 

Watching this film was painful. The sights and sounds of beatings these young men endured was heartbreaking. This movie filled me with painful empathy and deep respect for these men. It also made me angry. Life in Long Kesh was gruesome. 

That said, I am glad I saw this film. It made the strike more real. 

Ten men died in 1981 to regain political status for Irish freedom fighters. Today, there are close to 100 Irish political prisoners in British prisons without SCS because provisional government Sinn Fein gave away these rights when it signed the Belfast Agreement ("Good Friday Agreement") in 1998. 

Jane Enright

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Irish Voice - 10/22/08

Hypocritical Sinn Fein

PROVISIONAL Sinn Fein has received criticism recently in several Irish papers for its planned protest at the November 2 Belfast homecoming parade for British soldiers returning from Iraq. The basis for much of the criticism is that the protest is a political move designed to sour community relations.

In the October 20 Irish Times, writer Gerry Moriarity stated that Sinn Fein Assembly member Alex Maskey said, “The protest would be a peaceful and dignified parade designed to highlight opposition to the ‘illegal wars’ in Iraq and Afghanistan,” and “to highlight the many victims of the British Army, UDR and the Royal Irish Regiment here at home.”

Is this not the same party that signed away Ireland’s claim to the six counties in the Belfast Agreement? Is this not the same party that now sits in Stormont as paid British MPs, administering British rule in the six Irish counties in the North?

It is hypocritical of the Provos to protest against British aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan while supporting British rule in Ireland!

Jane Enright

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Irish Examiner (USA) Oct. 15, 2008

Hunger strike Movie

On Sunday, September 28th, three other National Irish Freedom Committe (NIFC) members and I attended a screening of the acclaimed Bobby Sands biopic, Hunger, at the New York Film Festival. Hunger, British director Steve McQueen’s first film, won the Best First Feature Film award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It is a powerful and gut wrenching account of the 1981 hunger strike during which Sands and nine other men died.

Prior to the film, the four of us distributed approximately 150 flyers to film goers. Very few refused to take a flyer and I received no negative comments from anyone. We were approached by an Argentinian woman by the name of Alicia, who told us she was seeing the film for the second time (it was also screened the day before). She told us how she became involved in the Irish struggle during the British/Argentine conflict over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. While protesting outside the British Consulate in New York, she got to know many Irish activists and became interested in Irish republican politics. Alicia said she wrote to Bobby Sands in prison although by that time he was already on hunger strike. She struck me as a bright and passionate woman and I now wish that I had asked for her phone number. I bet she would be an interesting friend. Alicia consented to repeat her story on tape which will be added to the NIFC website (irishfreedom.net).
 “Everyone should see this film” she said.

Hunger dramatizes life inside Long Kesh prison and the events surrounding the 1981 IRA/INLA hunger strike. This drama focuses primarily on the prison experience of Bobby Sands, a 27 year old Belfast resident and IRA Volunteer, convicted of possession of firearms and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.

Bobby Sands died on May 5th at the age of 27 after 66 days on hunger strike in Long Kesh prison outside Belfast. Sands was the first of 10 Irish political prisoners to die on hunger strike in 1981, which was undertaken to regain political status (“Special Category Status”) for IRA and INLA prisoners in British prisons. Political status was eventually restored to Irish Republican political prisoners on October 3, 1981 but only after Sands and nine other men had died on agonizing hunger strike.

The British government, under Margaret Thatcher, attempted to vilify these men by revoking the Special Category Status previously given to Irishmen and women convicted of political offenses. They were reclassified as common criminals. After numerous failed attempts at negotiation, these men volunteered to undertake a hunger strike.

This film is a graphic account of the last few months of Sands’ life. Although I have read many accounts of the 1981 hunger strike, this film gripped me at a deeper emotional level. These were young men after all. Men willing to die for their cause. Men with their whole adult lives ahead of them.

In its short 90 minutes, this brilliant and powerful film – not one minute wasted, by the way – managed to portray the brutality these men endured in Long Kesh and the events that forced them to go on hunger strike. Daily life on the blanket, the reality of the dirty protest, the forced washings by prison guards, the cruelty of the ‘gauntlet,’ the barbarity of the beatings, the loneliness and isolation, the factors that lead to the decision to go on hunger strike, and the horrendous physical and psychological ordeal they underwent every day while their bodies broke down until they finally went blind, deaf and ultimately died, were vividly depicted.

Surprisingly, given the subject matter, Hunger was objectively filmed. The film opens with the beginning of a work day for a prison guard who is seen checking underneath his car for explosives and watching for snipers outside his home as he prepares to leave for work. There is another scene in which a prison guard breaks down in tears, unable to continue his duties beating prisoners as they are forced through ‘the gauntlet.’ Early on is a voice over of Margaret Thatcher’s infamous “there is no political crime...” speech. In the middle of the film is a scene between Sands (brilliantly portrayed by Michael Fassbender) and a priest (played by Liam Cunningham) discussing the morality of hunger strikes. It is in this scene that Sands commitment and singlemindness to the struggle is driven home.

The screening was followed by a Question and Answer session with the director of this movie. An NIFC member questioned why there are still nearly 100 Irish political prisoners in British jails today. He also pointed out that although Gerry Adams was imprisoned in Long Kesh at the same time as Bobby Sands, he questioned why he was never subjected to the type of treatment endured by Sands and the other prisoners depicted in this movie. The directed responded with a comment that this was a question for Gerry Adams.

Watching this film was excruciatingly painful. There were several scenes that I could not watch. The sounds and sights of beatings these young men endured was heart breaking. This movie filled me with painful empathy and deep respect for these brave young men. It also made me angry. Life in Long Kesh was gruesome. That said, I am so very glad I saw this film. It made the hunger strike more real to me. More visceral. If you see this film – and you should – you will know what I mean.

Ten men died in 1981 to regain political status for Irish freedom fighters. We should not forget that today there are close to 100 Irish political prisoners in British prisons without Special Category Status because Provisional Sinn Fein gave away these rights when they signed the Belfast Agreement (‘Good Friday Agreement’) in 1998.

Jane Enright
Woodside, NY 11377


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Irish Voice - 10/08

Obama’s Ignorance

RECENTLY speaking at  Berlin’s Victory Column in Tiergarten Park, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama stated, “Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they’ve come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic have found a way to live together.” 

Obama  is mistaken. In fact more so called “peace walls” have been erected than prior to the signing of the Belfast Agreement.

This is because the agreement does not address the root cause of conflict. Sectarianism has become further entrenched and communities further divided.

There is no possibility of a British withdrawal nor the ending of partition of the Irish nation. Former Republicans under the leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness now find themselves implementing British rule in Ireland in return for crown pay packets. They have no intention of upsetting the status quo.

However, there is an alternative to this. Unlike Adams’ party there are still those who adhere to the Republican ideal and to the bright dream of Easter week, 1916.

Since 1972 Irish Republicans have continued to put forward Eire Nua as the alternative. Eire Nua (New Ireland) is an Irish authored peace plan which is visionary in scope.

It proposes a decentralized federation of the four historic provinces in the context of British withdrawal. Eire Nua, in contrast to the Belfast Agreement would provide the opportunity for a true peace in a free Ireland. 

Unfortunately, Eire Nua spokespersons are denied entry to the U.S. in order to keep the American public ignorant of the Irish alternative to continued British rule. If Obama remains ignorant of the truth, is it any wonder the average citizen is also unaware?

Pat Williams

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Irish Echo 10/08

British Hate Walls

 A chara

 Prior to the British-arranged Stormont Agreement, the British had erected nine so called‘ peace walls’ at interface areas in the occupied Six counties of Ireland. Ten years later, they have increased that number to more than forty 

These foreboding hate barricades, euphemistically called “peace walls,” clearly demonstrate the conflict ridden nature of the ongoing British presence in Ireland. 

It is clear that the GFA is not based on democratic principles, but rather on a carefully fostered sectarian arrangement. The barricades are used by the British to hoodwink the world into believing that they, the British, are the long-suffering peacekeepers caught between warring religious factions. However, history tells us that fostering sectarianism will lead to future conflict. 

In an effort to smooth the latest normalisation phase of their colonial presence in Ireland, the British have redistribute the spoils of war to include the pseudo republican warlords. In return, the warlords rule their respective enclaves using intimidation, terror and gruesome murders.  

These tactics are typical of British colonial rule in Ireland and elsewhere. These warlords act to overshadow those attempting  to forge a truly peaceful solution, such as supporters of ÉIRE NUA.

 Last month the UN Committee on Human Rights let it be known that they were not impressed by Britain’s human rights record and went on to criticize their record on several counts including many glaring violations in the occupied six Irish counties.

 The UN findings are not surprising, in that the British continue to use non-jury courts to imprison Irish Republicans activists who promote the visionary ÉIRE NUA federal policy (the long established Irish alternative to British rule in Ireland) as the only way of achieving a true peace with justice for all the Irish people. 

MICHEÁL Ó COISDEALBHA

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Irish Echo - 10/8/08

Concern over visa denial

Editor:

I am writing in regard to the U.S. State Department’s denial of an entry visa for journalist Anthony McIntyre. Because he was denied entry into the U.S., McIntyre was forced to cancel his tour to promote his book, “Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism.”

 This is not the first time that McIntyre and other critics of Provisional Sinn Fein and the British-authored and U.S. supported

Belfast agreement (a.k.a. the Good Friday Agreement/GFA) have been denied entry into the United States. Since 1974, our government has consistently denied entry visas to supporters of the Irish-authored Eire Nua (New Ireland) peace proposal for a federal system of government, promoted by Republican Sinn Fein in Ireland and the National Irish Freedom Committee in the United States. 

It would seem that the U.S. government, under pressure from the British and 26-County Free State governments, will permit Americans to hear about only one “peace process” for Ireland: the GFA.

Eire Nua would provide for peace and, unlike the GFA, would also provide a truly just system of government for people

in all 32 counties of Ireland and a British withdrawal from the six counties in the north.

Jane Enright

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Irish News (Belfast)  - 10/21/08

Sands film Hunger is a must-see for everyone

 On Sunday September 28 three other National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) members and I attended a screening of the acclaimed Bobby Sands biopic, Hunger, at the New York Film Festival.

 Hunger, British director Steve McQueen’s first film, won the Best First Feature Film award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. It is a powerful and gut-wrenching account of the 1981 Hunger Strike during which Sands and nine other men died.

 Prior to the film, the four of us distributed approximately 150 flyers to film-goers. Very few refused to take a flyer and we received no negative comments from anyone. We were approached by an Argentinian woman by the name of Alicia, who told us she was seeing the film for the second time (it was also screened the day before). She told us how she became involved in the Irish struggle during the British/Argentine conflict over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. While protesting outside the British consulate in New York she got to know many Irish activists and became interested in Irish republican politics. Alicia said she wrote to Bobby Sands in prison, although, by that time, he was already on hunger strike. Alicia consented to repeat her story on tape, which can be viewed on the NIFC website (irishfreedom.net).

 Everyone should see this film, she said. 

Watching this film was excruciatingly painful. There were several scenes that I could not watch. The sounds and sights of beatings these young men endured was heartbreaking. This movie filled me with painful empathy and deep respect for these brave young men. It also made me angry. Life in Long Kesh was gruesome. That said, I am so very glad I saw this film. It made the Hunger Strike more real to me. More visceral. If you see this film – and you should – you will know what I mean.  

Ten men died in 1981 to regain political status for Irish freedom fighters. We should not forget that today there are close to 100 Irish political prisoners in British prisons without special category status because Provisional Sinn Fein gave away these rights when they signed the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday Agreement) in 1998.  

Jane Enright

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Saoirse  - 9/ 2008

No US Visas for Republicans

 A chara  

I am writing in regard to the US State Department’s denial of an entry visa for journalist Anthony McIntyre. Because he was denied entry into the US, McIntyre was forced to cancel his tour to promote his book, Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism.

 This is not the first time that McIntyre and other critics of the Provisionals and the British-authored and US supported Belfast Agreement have been denied entry into the United States. Since 1974, the US government has consistently denied entry visas to supporters of the Irish authored ÉIRE NUA (New Ireland) peace proposal for a federal system of government, promoted by Republican Sinn Féin in Ireland and the National Irish Freedom Committee (Cumann na Saoirse Naisiunta) in America.

Jane  Enright

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Irish Voice  - 9/ 17/2008

Uptight in Pleasantville

Dear Editor

John Gregg from Pleasantville New York who went off in a big way on the Shinners in last week’s edition of the Voice seems to be wired a little too tight. He really should chill out and take stock of the overall situation in the wee six. Surely then he cannot deny that the Shinners are now his partners and are very much to the forefront in solidifying the Queens writ in N.E. Ireland. Then he can lighten up just a little, indulge a wee bit and smell the roses as they say, for he and his mates have new front line warriors. We have been just told by the chief Brit in Ireland that the Shinners now pass on intelligence about true republicans to their British paymasters.

However, despite these glad tidings and considering the writer’s worthy religious fervor, there is an underlying matter that must cause turmoil in his agile mind. He cannot get over an cruit (the hump) as they say in Gaeilge. In this case the fact is that the founders of modern Irish Republicanism, the United Irishmen were mainly in his words, Protestants. They are remembered for 1798 Uprising against England! Oddly enough their motto was ‘to break the connection with England the never-ending source of all our evils”. So there is confusion because today’s Republicans follow those teachings and may or may not be Protestants, but they are certainly not Shinners. 

In previous issue of the Voice, other writers stated that the long established and Irish authored Éire Nua federal policy was an honest solution to the ongoing British arrangement known as the GFA. 

The facts are that in the early 1970s, when the British had seriously considered withdrawing from Ireland, the Republican leadership under Ó Brádaigh and Ó Conaill presented the Éire Nua policy to the northern Loyalisy/Unionsit leaders. They closely vetted it and a great deal of cross border activity took place in open forum discussions. Finally the northern leadership accepted that Eire Nua was a fair and honest proposal in the context of a British withdrawal from Ireland.

Tragically, the Éire Nua policy was soon violently attacked by the forces of status quo and a truly magical moment was lost and instead three thousand more people died needlessly in Ireland. 

One lesson here is that when it comes

down to it, the Irish can solve the problems that the British created and religion will not stand in the way and John can truly appreciate the lovely Pleasantville. 

In conclusion, the Irish Voice must be congratulated for allowing the publication of the different viewpoints regarding Ireland

M. Costello

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Irish Voice - 9/17-23/08

Sands Film a Must

ON September 27 and 28, the Bobby Sands biopic, Hunger, will be shown at the New York Film Festival (www.filmlinc.com/nyff/program/films/hunger.html).  Director Steve McQueen’s film won the Camera d’Or award for the Best First Feature Film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. 

Sands died at the age of 27 after 66 days on hunger strike in the notorious Long Kesh prison in the north of Ireland.  Sands was the first of 10 Irish political prisoners to die on hunger strike in 1981, which they staged in order to regain political status (special category status) for IRA and INLA prisoners in British prisons. 

The British government, under Margaret Thatcher, attempted to vilify these men by revoking the special category status previously given to Irishmen and women convicted of political offenses. They were  reclassified as common criminals.  After numerous failed attempts at negotiation, these men volunteered to undertake a hunger strike.  

On October 3, 1981 – after 10 men died on hunger strike – political status was finally restored to Irish Republican political prisoners.  However, with the signing of the British-authored Good Friday Agreement in 1998, this hard won right to political status was signed away by Gerry Adams and Provisional Sinn Fein.  

Today there are close to 100 Irish political prisoners held in prisons in Ireland, England and the (still) occupied six counties.  Most of these prisoners were arrested under special “anti-terror” laws that have been condemned by human rights groups around the world, including Amnesty International and the European Court of Human Rights, and convicted in special jury-less courts.   

Sands and the other hunger strikers did not die so that their former Republican colleagues would sign away Ireland’s claim to the six occupied counties, sign away the rights of political prisoners, and sit in Stormont administering British “justice” while taking fat British paychecks.  These are the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement.

Jane Enright

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Irish Echo  - 9/3/08

Obama was off the wall

Editor:

I am writing in regard to Barack Obama’s recent statement “not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have also come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together.” This statement demonstrates an appalling

ignorance from a man who hopes to become President of the United States.

 In fact, since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement more sectarian  ‘peace walls’ have been erected and existing ones have been increased in height. 

In addition, tensions are high in interface areas, street crime is higher, unemployment is still over twice as high among Catholics than for Protestants, the police service has simply been renamed but continues its campaign of harassment against nationalists, residents of nationalist housing estates are besieged by out of control gangs of young hoodlums, July 12th related violence was higher this year than in any year since the signing of the agreement in 1998, etc. 

These are facts. The GFA did not address the root cause of the conflict: the continued occupation of the Six Counties by Britain and the accompanying sectarian application of what it calls justice. Ten years after the signing of the British-authored GFA, there is more of a stalemate in the Six Counties than true peace. 

History has shown us over and over again that there can never be peace without justice and there is no way that anyone can spin the current situation in the north of Ireland as justice. The Irish-authored Eire Nua (New Ireland) peace proposal for a federal system of government, promoted by Republican Sinn Fein in Ireland and the National Irish Freedom Committee in the United States, would provide for a truly just system of government in which all creeds and traditions would be represented, and all citizens would exercise real power without any one group infringing on the right of others.

Jane Enright

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Irish Voice  - 9/3-9/08

Let McIntyre In

I am writing in regard to last week’s Irish Voice report about the State Department’s denial of an entry visa for journalist Anthony McIntyre.  Because he was denied entry into the U.S., McIntyre was forced to cancel his tour to promote his book, Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism. 

This is not the first time that McIntyre and other critics of Provisional Sinn Fein and the British-authored and U.S. supported Good Friday Agreement have been denied entry into the U.S.  Since 1974, our government has consistently denied entry visas to supporters of the Irish-authored Eire Nua (New Ireland) peace proposal for a federal system of government, promoted by Republican Sinn Fein in Ireland and the National Irish Freedom Committee in the U.S.  

It would seem that the U.S. government, under pressure from the British and 26-County free state governments, will permit Americans to hear about only one “peace process” for Ireland: the Good Friday Agreement. 

Eire Nua would provide for peace and, unlike the agreement, would also provide a truly just system of government for people in all 32 counties of Ireland, and a British withdrawal from the six counties in the north.

Jane Enright

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