Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Right..Lenin, Keir Hardie, James Connolly, AJ Cook, and you George on t'banner, I think that'll Scotch the 'Lurch towards Reformism' Rumours"

Thanks to my old pal Dr. Don Watson for sending on this little gem to the "Unrepentant Communist" site.

"Follonsby Lodge of the Durham Miners Association, at Wardley near Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, was one of only three in the British coalfield to feature Lenin on its banner.It was also the only one to include the Irish revolutionary James Connolly, executed after theEaster Rising. The other figures on it are Keir Hardie, 1920's miners' leader AJ Cook, and FollonsbyLodge Secretary George Harvey. A syndicalist before 1917, Harvey was a founder member of the Communist Party who later became a Labour Councillor. In 1935 he led a long and successful strike against victimisation. In 1936 his Lodge gave much practical support to local men taking part in theHunger March to London to protest against joblessness and the treatment of the unemployed. After the second world war when the British coal industry was nationalised, Lenin and Connolly were replaced on the banner by images of Durham Miners Association officials." (picture from W.A. Moyes, 'The BannerBook', Frank Graham, Newcastle-on-Tyne 1974)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Iraq's Mercenaries...Trained in Ireland?

Jean McBride, featured in the photo above, is the mother of unarmed 18 year old Peter McBride who was shot dead by the British Army in September 1992. Reports of trigger happy mercenaries firing on Iraqi civilians is of particular interest to Jean McBride, since one of the largest firms operating in Iraq which has come under particular scrutiny is Aegis Defence Services Ltd. The connection with the McBride families tragedy is that the boss of Aegis is a certain Tim Spicer. This gentleman was in command of the two soldiers, Mark Wright and James Fischer, who fatally shot Peter McBride at a checkpoint in Newlodge after he had been searched. Paul O'Connor of the Derry based Pat Finucane centre has been following the case for more than a decade. "Tim Spicer was the first senior officer to have access to the soldiers at a time when the RUC was denied access, he testified at their trial and said that his men had done no wrong and should not have been charged" O'Connor explains.
Despite Spicer's active support the two soldiers were convicted of murder in 1995. Spicer rejected the verdict (upheld on appeal) and continued to agitate for the release of Wright and Fischer, "after they were convicted he helped organise a campaign involving present and and former army officers, it was run from the HQ of the Scots Guards in London" O'Connor adds. Spicer according to O'Connor "made a number of claims that were totally and utterly untrue, he claimed that Peter McBride probably did have some kind of device. He claimed that local people probably ghosted away the device after he was shot." The campaign to release the soldiers was successful in 1998 when the release of the two soldiers was ordered by the British government. They were allowed to resume service in the army.
Since then Tim Spicer has moved into the world of private security, starting off as the CEO of Sandline. In that capacity he was embroiled in a number of high-profile controversies, including a brief spell in a jail in Papua New Guinea after Spicer was arrested by the Papuan army. Sandline was eventually wound up, and Tim Spicer became involved in setting up Aegis. The new venture did well and attracted a $293 million deal under Paul Bremers Coalition Authority (CPA) charged with providing security for the CPA. Since the contract was awarded Aegis has been the subject of severe criticism. In 2005 an audit carried out by a US government agency found that many Aegis employees lacked the training required to handle the weapons they had been issued with, including AK 47's and M4 assault rifles.This was quickly followed by allegations that its contractors fired on Iraqi Civilians. A video was posted on the internet by a former Aegis employee, which apparently showed automatic fire being directed from the back of an SUVagainst civilian cars. Aegis describes the clip as "a malicious attempt to discredit Aegis" in which "the incidents displayed had been taken entirely out of context". A US army investigation cleared the company, but the Pat Finucane Centre was contacted by the man who posted the video, Rod Stoner, who told them that the inquiry had not interviewed key witnesses -including Stoner himself.
"We asked for a meeting with US officials. In reality this sort of thing happens every day and the government does'nt really give a toss-they said that they would go off and investigate and come back to us," says Paul O'Connor. The Pat Finucane centre is reported to believe that the shooter , a South African, was ghosted out of the country until the investigation was over. "We asked if they had interviewed any Iraqi civilians-they had'nt", adds Paul O'Connor.
O'Connor notes that all private security firms operating in Iraq were granted immunity from prosecution by the CPA.It is of course merely a coincidence that Tim Spicer's name crops up in both of these stories, and I am sure that were any of the Aegis contractors ever accused of accidentally harming anyone, he would be able to draw upon his experience in Ireland to ensure that no one involved would become another victim of a miscarriage of justice. Sadly, there is no such recourse for the family of Peter McBride.
With Acknowledgements to Hot Press http://www.hotpress.com/archive/4187704.html 25/10/2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Murder by Crown Forces of Eddie Carmody of Ballylongford, County Kerry, on November 22nd 1920

Lieutenant Eddie Carmody was born in Moyvane, Co. Kerry and at a very young age moved to Ballylongford to work on a local farm. He was an outstanding Gaelic footballer and an all round athlete. He was a man of great courage, honesty and innate chivalry. He was one of the first local men to join Óglaigh na hÉireann becoming at first the Quarter Master of his local company and then a Lieutenant within the IRA. While on his way to an arms dump outside Ballylongford on the 22nd November 1920, he was ambushed by a patrol of Black and Tans. He was severely wounded after being fired upon several times, but still managed to struggle away a few hundred yards. The Black and Tans following his trail of blood found him after a brief search and dragged him onto the roadway, where he was kicked and beaten with rifle butts. After being stabbed by the soldier’s bayonets in a frenzied attack he was shot several times in the face resulting in his death. His body was then put onto a cart and dragged through the village to the local barrack's, where he was left outside in a turf shed till his father collected his body the following day. Eddie Carmody was unarmed at the time.
Lead Up to Murder
The local events leading up to the murder of IRA Lieutenant Eddie Carmody can be traced back to 1919, when Ballylongford IRA volunteers successfully defended a Feis being held in the village in mid-summer. Posters announcing the date of the Feis were distributed far and wide, and sensing a political aspect to the proceedings, a company of Welsh Fusiliers were sent to Ballylongford from Limerick, and arrived around noon and took over what was known then as the Big Store, They issued a proclamation banning the festivities. It was decided by the IRA to create a diversion, so a few horses and sidecars and ponies and traps were ostentatiously loaded with known IRA volunteers in full view of the British Army company. The convoy then took off, followed by the Welsh Fusiliers who found themselves at Craughdarrig, surrounded and detained by the Volunteers they had been following. The British Army men were detained whilst the Feis proceeded successfully in an alternative venue at McNamara’s at the Building in Tullahinnell. In the evening, after the Feis was more or less too late to stop, the British soldiers were permitted to return, no doubt somewhat chastened by their welcome to Kerry. It was then that a disturbance broke out at the rear of Collin’s public house in Ballylongford between some young men who had drink taken. Brian O’Grady one of the local IRA officers and Lieutenant Eddie Carmody, were called to bring some volunteers to eject the troublemakers from the village. Shortly after that a British officer arrived and asked if everything was under control, and added ‘We don’t want any trouble and anyway we are clearing out in the morning’ which suggested that he was less than concerned that the IRA seemed to be in de facto control of things. Incidentally, and perhaps of interest for those aware of Ballylongford’s strong literary links , the British officer who enquired that all was ‘under control’, was none other than Captain Robert Graves, the English poet who would later become famous for his novel ‘I Claudius’.
This humiliating failure to assert control over the area indicated that Sinn Féin and the IRA were in a strong position in this area. This was followed in late 1919 by an incident where an RIC man was fired on by the IRA in Bridge Street and wounded for insulting a young priest not long ordained. All throughout this period Eddie Carmody was a pivotal figure in the local IRA. In early 1920, Eddie Carmody took part in a successful and peacefully transacted raid on Kilelton house, which secured a small amount of arms for the IRA but also a lot of kudos for the raiders, it being carried out unmasked and in full daylight to prevent a shoot-out occurring. The raid resulted in a number of reprisal burnings by the British army, including Boland’s garage where the IRA party had acquired the vehicle for the raid.
The Tans
It was inevitable that the level of conflict would intensify in January 1920 when the Black and Tans were deployed in the area, no doubt in an attempt to bring ‘to heel’ this rebellious village. The ‘Tans’ as they were known locally were ex-British soldiers and ex-convicts recruited to be a paramilitary quasi-fascist terror force in Ireland, whose primary purpose was to intimidate the local people into submission. Things were hotting up in the area, with IRA activity against the British forces intensifying, with shooting incidents and sabotage of British rule increasing enormously. The reaction was a much higher degree of reprisal and terrorising of the locals by both the RIC and the Tans, things had moved on a lot from the days of the Feis in 1919. This culminated in a situation where the local IRA took prisoner an RIC man and a Black and Tan, who had been captured by the IRA in the avenue leading to the church in Ballylongford. The RIC man and the Tan had been involved in a vain attempt to detain the parishioners after devotions. The two would be detainers, were themselves detained by the IRA. But they were, after some negotiations, released unharmed, after being held overnight in Moyvane. This represented another damaging humiliation for the British forces in the Ballylongford area. It was obvious that a strong response would soon follow. In the aftermath of this action, the local volunteers were ordered by the IRA Kerry HQ to place their arms in a dump temporarily, and out of harms way, since Ballylongford was to be swamped in a search for arms. According to the former IRA officer Brian O’Grady, this meant that the volunteers were not able to resist effectively when the Tans did come looking for revenge.
So it was in reprisal for these earlier actions, that on the morning of the 22nd November 1920 Ballylongford was flooded by a force of Tans and police which arrived in four or five Lorries. There then followed a day of searches and intimidation by the RIC and the Tans throughout the village, interspersed with numerous visits to pubs, where copious quantities of beer and spirits were consumed at the unfortunate landlords (enforced) expense. In the early part of the evening a large number of Tans emerged and started firing their guns and smashing windows in the Tea lane area, and then proceeded to do the same in Bridge Street. A group of unarmed IRA men were dispersed around the village to advise people to avoid where the Tans were congregated. At some point a patrol of Black and Tans proceeded up Tea lane again, and fired on Eddie Carmody. Seeing how things were deteriorating it is thought that Carmody was making his way, in his role as an IRA quartermaster, to retrieve some hand guns from the nearest dump to the village. He never made it to the arms dump; he was spotted and wounded somewhere near the Doctors gate. Shortly afterwards a further fusillade of shots was heard from near the Rusheen Grove, where Carmody had got to despite being wounded. It appears that his pursuers followed him by observing where the trail of blood led them. On capturing him it is reported that he was beaten with rifle butts and then shot in cold blood, his final shooting being marked by much drunken cheering.
Eddie Carmody was laid to rest in Murhur graveyard, and was accorded full Irish Republican Army military honours despite the continuation of repression and terror throughout the area.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 7th 2007- Moscow- 40,000 March to Mark the Russian Revolution

Congratulations to all those who braved the minus 5 degree temperatures to march through Moscow on the evening of November 7th, the march was organised by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), and the video attached illustrates that for a substantial number of Russian citizens the Socialist Revolution of 1917 is still an event to be commemorated and celebrated.It is good to see that communists from other countries were also in attendance.