We congratulate our comrades in Sinn Féin for their excellent performance in recent council and European elections. The party won the largest number of first preference votes in the north’s local government elections, while it secured the highest number of councillors across the 26 counties. Sinn Féin now also presents four MEPS to the European parliament.
We reproduce extracts from various articles to summarise the events.
‘Shindependents Day’ as political landscape is transformed
“Something profound has happened in the people’s attitudes to politics,” said Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, as results came in across the 26 counties on Saturday.
“Sinn Féin has not has this strength since 1918,” said party leader Gerry Adams, recalling the original election under the leadership of Arthur Griffith, which inspired the struggle for national independence from British rule.
The party made incredible gains on city councils in Dublin and Cork, and is set to be the dominant party on both councils. In Limerick and Waterford, and in towns and rural areas across the 26 counties, the party doubled and tripled its representation or broke entirely new ground.
There was also a huge increase in support for independent candidates and the small left-wing parties. With 292 out of 949 seats filled by the end of counting on Saturday night, Sinn Féin won 81, Independents and Others 77, Fianna Fáil 76, Fine Gael 47, and Labour 11.
After months of fractious debates and contentious media coverage, the polls were largely borne out, although the result has still deeply shocked the political establishment. In the next Dublin parliament, Sinn Féin will now almost certainly be on a par with the two traditional conservative parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael — a radical rebalancing of politics in the 26-county state, which for years treated Sinn Féin as an irrelevant ‘other’.
The question now is how these three parties with a historic distaste for each other can form a government after the next general election in 2016, and what kind of coalition, if any, can emerge.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said the day marked a “step change in politics”. Speaking at the Dublin West by-election count in Citywest this evening, where Paul Donnelly came very close to winning a seat, he said that the party was open to the possibility of coalition government.
We need two things, one is to be in government — a mandate — the other one is an agreed programme for government. The second could be more challenging than the first. The other parties are now wedded to conservatism, austerity.
He said that the party wants to see a “realignment of politics” which he hopes would be “accelerated after this election”.
He said he did not know if his recent arrest and interrogation by the PSNI had an impact on the Sinn Féin result.
Mr Adams said:
What we do know is it galvanised our own activists and I would like to think that the way that we responded to those events was positive and that that may have helped.
Mr Adams said that he heard some members of the coalition condescendingly dismissing Sinn Fein’s gains as “the people giving us a scolding”.
He says what has happened is that the people have given “profound notice that that want to quit this type of politics”.
We’re the largest party in Derry, in Belfast, in Mid-Ulster and perhaps now in Dublin and Meath.
I keep stressing in my interviews, we want to use our mandate wisely, people are hurting. It’s what I’m hearing when I talk to people. I would appeal to people who seek change. I’d appeal to people to join the party, we’re here to build a democratic republican party across the island of Ireland.
Adams thanked those who had worked to deliver the result for Sinn Féin, but admitted there wasn’t the “resources, infrastructure or capacity” to run the number of candidates or scale of campaign he would have wanted. However, he said Sinn Féin will continue to build from their result.
I think we have been mandated to change, this is a change of the political landscape in this state. Sinn Féin is here and Sinn Féin is here to stay.
Sinn Féin singing as it elects fourth MEP
Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy has just become the party’s fourth MEP after being elected after seven counts in a marathon count in Castlebar, County Mayo.
As the new totals were announced, finally confirming he had passed the quota, supporters cheered and held his hands aloft. As the presiding officer deemed him elected, he was hoisted up on shoulders and lusty singing broke out among his Monaghan-based team.
In advance of his election as member of the European parliament for the Midlands-North-West constituency, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams hailed the election of the party’s first male male MEP. “Quite an achievement,” he tweeted.
Mr Carthy’s surplus will now decide the recipient of the fourth and final seat in the constituency, which is likely to go to Sligo-based independent incumbent Marian Harkin. That result could incredibly see the three establishment parties deprived of three out of the four seats in Ireland’s largest Euro constituency.
Sinn Féin sings
On Monday night, Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada was elected as MEP for Ireland South. She was elected on the fourth round of counting that only concluded this evening, two days after counting began.
The returning officer had barely announced the result when Sinn Féin and the O Riada clan, one of the most acclaimed traditional music families in the country, starting singing in close harmony.
Brother Peadar produced an accordion and members of a traditional choir gathered round and performed a rendition of ‘Mo Gille Mear’, a song with deep personal connections to the O Riada family. Peadar said:
That was originally a recruiting song in the Gaelic nation 300 years ago. And when my father Sean died, I started using it as an anthem to try and draw us together as a community.
Corkwoman Ms Ní Riada was elected on the fourth count with 132,590 votes, nearly nine hours after Fianna Fáil poll topper Brian Crowley.
The former Irish television producer was virtually unknown outside arts and culture circles up until a few months ago.
She thanked “every single person” who voted for her and said that her election was a victory for the ordinary people of Ireland.
Speaking from the count centre, she said there was a “better, fairer alternative” to the politics of austerity and cuts.
My election is a victory for ordinary people who have suffered so much under the regressive policies pushed by the European Commission and implemented with such relish by successive governments here at home.
Diarmuid O’Flynn of Ballyhea protest group narrowly failed to secure election in the face of careful vote management by Fine Gael, which secured two seats in the South constituency. O’Flynn led a campaign which marched weekly against the 28 billion euro ‘bondholder bailout’ of international investors and speculators who held stakes in Irish banks.
Ms Ní Riada said the Dublin government and MEPs had failed to lift the “toxic banking debt” off the shoulders of the Irish people.
This is an injustice and it must be addressed and addressed genuinely — not just kicking the debt down the road to be endured by future generations. It is not our debt and it is not the debt of our children and grandchildren.
In the north, all three outgoing European MPs were re-elected for another term after another a lengthy count in Belfast, and almost five days after polling took place.
On Monday evening, Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson was declared elected after she topped the poll and reached the quota. Giving her acceptance speech a day after she was elected, Ms Anderson noted that Sinn Féin was on its way to taking four seats across the island of Ireland and hailed the party’s success.
The voices of the voters have been heard throughout Ireland, they have endorsed the Sinn Féin message that there is a fair way. The Sinn Féin result is part of a national story reflecting the growth of support for Sinn Féin’s strategy for change. There will be a national Sinn Féin team of MEPs going to Europe who will put Ireland first — north, south, east and west.
Issued by: CPGB-ML
Issued on: 18 June 2010
With the release, on 15 June 2010, of the report by the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry on 30 January 1972, the British state has finally been forced to admit what the Irish people, and people throughout the world, have known for the last 38 years, namely that all the dead and injured were completely innocent and that the killings by the British Army’s parachute regiment that day were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
Speaking in Derry as the report was released, Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams MP, said:
“Today is a day for the families of those killed and those injured on Bloody Sunday.
“They have campaigned for 38 years for the truth and for justice. They have campaigned for the British government to end their policy of cover-up and concealment.
“The facts of what happened on Bloody Sunday are clear – the British Paras came to Derry and murdered 14 civil-rights marchers and injured 13 others. They were unarmed, they posed no threat and they were completely innocent.
“Today, Saville has put the lies of Widgery [a whitewash enquiry into the events ordered by the British government in their immediate aftermath] into the dustbin of history, and with it the cover-up which was authorised at the highest levels within the British establishment and lasted for almost four decades.”
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), which upholds the right of the Irish people to self-determination and stands for an end to partition and the unification of Ireland, joins with the families who lost their loved ones on that fateful day, with the working-class people of Derry, and with their republican leadership, in celebrating the momentous victory they have scored.
It is unprecedented for a British prime minister to have to stand up in the House of Commons and engage in a humiliating act of contrition for the bloody crimes of imperialism’s armed forces. We do not doubt that the words stuck in Cameron’s throat, but they brought joy to our hearts and to those of class-conscious British workers.
Writing in the Guardian, Comrade Gerry Adams poignantly described the atmosphere as the report was released:
“Representatives of all the families spoke. One by one they declared their relative, their brother, their father, their uncle, ‘innocent!’
“Their remarks were interrupted by loud applause. People cried and cheered. Clenched fists stabbed the air. Not the clenched fists of young radicals. These were elderly Derry grannies and granddads. Elderly widows. Middle-aged siblings.” (’Bloody Sunday is the defining story of the British army in Ireland’, 16 June 2010)
The above title of Adams’ article was a direct response to Prime Minister Cameron’s feeble attempt at face-saving, claiming that: “Bloody Sunday is not the defining story of the service the British Army gave in northern Ireland.”
All this is part of an attempt by the British state to cut its losses. Forced to admit blame, at the same time, it would have us believe that this was but one unfortunate incident, the responsibility of one regiment and of one conveniently dead commanding officer. In other words, the British state is continuing to lie through its teeth.
As Tony Doherty, whose father was one of those murdered on Bloody Sunday, told the 15 June crowd in Derry: “The Parachute Regiment are the frontline assassins for Britain’s political and military elite.” (Quoted in Adams, op cit)
Serving to underline the point, relatives of the Ballymurphy 11 joined the Bloody Sunday relatives at the head of the march. The Ballymurphy 11, ten men, including a local priest, and a mother of eight children, were murdered in that area of West Belfast by the same parachute regiment, in the 36 hours after the British state introduced internment without trial in August 1971, six months before Bloody Sunday. Their struggle for justice continues and we pledge it our full support.
Likewise, Sinn Fein Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, speaking in the Dáil (the Irish parliament), called on the Irish government to “press the British government to comply with the unanimous all-party motion adopted by the Dáil nearly two years ago, which called on the British government to release to an international investigation all facts it possesses on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974″.
Thirty-three people were killed and nearly 300 wounded in these car bombs, which were much later conveniently claimed by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) loyalist terror gang, but which are widely believed to have occurred with at least the connivance of British intelligence.
Comrade Ó Caoláin went on to rightly state: “The final act of justice will be when every remaining soldier of the British Army is at last withdrawn from the six counties.”
Far from being the exception that Cameron implied, Bloody Sunday is not merely the defining story of the British army in Ireland, but also its defining story throughout the world, be it of the Amritsar Massacre in 1919 (for which Shaheed Udham Singh finally took vengeance in 1940), or in countless places in the post-World War II period alone, from Korea, Cyprus, Malaya (where British soldiers posed grinning for photos holding the severed heads of captured suspected guerrillas), Kenya (where the British army retains a reputation for mass, systemic rape to this day) and Aden (where British soldiers awarded themselves ‘golliwog’ labels for killing innocent civilians), through the Malvinas and the Balkans, to the contemporary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We should entertain no illusions that the Saville Report somehow represents the British state turning over a new leaf. Just this month, former Labour defence minister Adam Ingram was forced to admit that he misled parliament (generally considered a far more heinous offence than butchering oppressed people!) over the hooding and ‘inhumane treatment’ of Iraqi detainees.
This emerged from the inquiry into the death of Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, tortured and beaten to death by the British army in Basra in September 2003. Documents disclosed by the inquiry set up into his death show that Ingram was copied on a memo revealing that Baha Mousa was hooded for a total of nearly 24 hours during 36 hours in British military custody before he died. Nine months later, Ingram claimed that hooding was only used while detainees were being transported for security reasons.
A report in the Morning Star noted:
“The former minister also told the inquiry that he was not aware of three-decade-old prohibitions on the hooding of prisoners until 2004.
“The ban on hooding, the use of stress positions and other degrading treatment was issued in 1972 by then prime minister Edward Heath after abuses of detainees in Northern Ireland.
“But all these measures were routinely used by British forces in Basra and elsewhere in Iraq, even after specific instructions not to do so.
“Mr Ingram, a former Northern Ireland security minister, said that he was not aware of the ‘Heath ruling’ until it was referred to in a May 2004 document.” (’Ex-minister Ingram misled us on Iraq abuse’, 2 June 2010)
How correct Karl Marx was when he observed that, “English reaction has its roots in Ireland“.
Our party proudly calls for victory to the Iraqi and Afghan resistance, precisely so that the countless Baha Mousas do not, like the brave people of Derry, have to wait 38 years for justice and vindication.
What the British state has reluctantly conceded after nearly four decades was always as clear as daylight. As the Communist Party of China wrote at the time:
“Why don’t you show any respect … for the just wishes of the Northern Irish people to have their democratic rights, since you always talk about respecting ‘the wishes of the people’? You have made a hullabaloo about a ‘civilised solution’, but why have you acted so barbarously in slaughtering the Northern Irish demonstrators and why are you continually sending troops and police to carry out armed suppression on a larger scale? … The bloody suppression of the Northern Irish people by the British government once again reveals its so-called ‘civilisation’.” (’Firmly support the Northern Irish people’s just struggle’, People’s Daily, 8 February 1972)
British imperialism’s belated acknowledgement of the dreadful crime it committed in Derry on 30 January 1972 may be attributed to two factors above all:
• To the courage, dignity, strength and resilience of the bereaved families; and
• To the tenacious struggle waged by the republican movement and the nationalist community, principally the armed struggle waged by the IRA, that finally opened the door to a political process that is slowly but surely going in the direction of a united Ireland.
British imperialism, like all reactionary forces, despises the weak and fears the strong. Its preferred modus operandi when oppressed people rise up is to drown them in blood, ride out the ensuing political storm, if there is one, and continue raking in the loot.
The risen Irish people denied them that option. As an ITN journalist observed, the IRA made the British army pay a high price for Bloody Sunday in the ensuing years, with more than 600 dead and many more wounded.
The victory of the Bloody Sunday relatives comes at a difficult time for British imperialism, with, as we have noted above, imperialist wars being fought in Iraq and, especially at the present time, Afghanistan, as well as with the savage economic crisis raising the spectre of possible unrest at home.
With the mawkish ‘welcome’ afforded the steady stream of coffins as they pass through the town of Wootton Bassett, military parades in such working class towns as Barking, and the attempts to criminalise militant protests by sections of the muslim community to such displays, we need to hammer home the point that participation in an imperialist war does not make you a hero. It makes you a criminal.
The real heroes are those like the Bloody Sunday families, the Afghan resistance, Military Families Against the War, and soldiers like Joe Glenton, who would rather serve time than fight in an unjust war.
In saluting and paying tribute to the Bloody Sunday families, the people of Derry, the republican movement, and the risen Irish people on their significant victory, the CPGB-ML commits itself to playing its part in the ongoing struggle to realise a free, sovereign and united Ireland and to see the day when British troops are no longer able to rampage in Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other country.
In the words of Bobby Sands: “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.“