Like political activists everywhere, I know the wisdom of ‘keeping your friends close and your enemies closer’, by which I mean it makes more sense to subscribe to a newsletter etc from your opposition rather than one from your own side. That’s a practice I have long adhered to and it has paid dividends in the past and I’ve no doubt it will do so in the future. And, to a certain extent, it has done so now.

I have already announced my intention to vote ‘No’ in the up-coming ‘Gay Marriage’ State referendum and, as is my wont on occasions like this, I had already subscribed to the mailing lists of ‘Vote Yes’ campaigners and those I considered to be such (…and most of whom certainly view ‘No’ voters as less than human) , one of which is the ‘Uplift’ grouping, one of the “…newest multi-issue campaign organisations…a community of people who share progressive values, and believe in people powered action. UPLIFT is completely independent and believes that all decision makers should be held accountable…” This grouping claims to be “…completely independent and not aligned to any political or corporate interests..” , states that it “…does not represent any single issue or group in society..” (from here – see ‘How is Uplift different from other civil society organisations?’) , says that it “…will welcome and encourage progressive policy and will criticise bad policy..” (from here – see ‘Our relationship with political parties and politicians?’) , meaning that, as far as this ‘independent’ group are concerned, a ‘Yes for gay marriage’ vote would be “progressive” but a ‘No’ vote would be “bad”, although, at the time of writing, they give the impression, on their website, that they are ‘neutral’ on this issue, as a search result brings up a ‘no results found’ page.

A group email they sent out on May 1st last (entitled ‘Are you sure you’re registered to vote?’) also, in my opinion, brings their ‘independence’ into question :

“The Marriage Equality Referendum vote is far from certain. There has been a shift in support away from those saying they will vote Yes, towards those saying that they are unsure how they will vote. But we can help tip the vote the right way. The first really important thing we need to do is make sure we’re all registered to vote. Every year the Register of Electors is updated and over the past few weeks there have been lots of reports of people being surprised to find they are no longer registered. Are you and your friends registered to vote? Have you checked?
There is still time to check, but we need to be quick! You have until next Tuesday 5th May to be included in the Supplementary Register.

Follow this link to find out if you are registered or not:

Although support for a Yes vote is still strong, this shift is not good news. So, your vote is precious. It’s your right as a citizen and it will really, really count in the Marriage Equality Referendum.
There are nearly 10,000 of us in the Uplift community. If we all made sure that we, and our loved ones are registered by next Tuesday, we could actually be the difference in securing a Yes vote on May 22nd.
So many referendums have been won and lost on a handful of votes!

Here is the link again to check if you’re registered to vote:

Thanks for being involved,

Siobhán and the team.”

This ‘Uplift’ group states that it is “…completely independent and not aligned to any political or corporate interests..” yet is concerned about “…a shift in support away from those saying they will vote Yes…but we can help tip the vote the right way…we could actually be the difference in securing a Yes vote on May 22nd…”

That’s being “completely independent” , Irish style!

Incidentally, ‘Uplift’ states that they have “…received support from the Community Foundation of Ireland, Global Green Grants Foundation (and) Atlantic Philanthropies….” : the first and last-mentioned of those organisations are, amongst other activities, ‘supporters of gay rights’ whilst the middle group (‘GGGF’) has apparently not yet updated its books in relation to all of the groups it seemingly supports. And talking about ‘updating books’, it is apparent that there is at least one book that ‘Update’ would want to update (!) itself on – the dictionary.

Finally, their understanding of geography is on a par with their understanding of what being “completely independent (yet wanting to tip the vote the right way)” means – in their ‘faq’ section, under the heading ‘How do I become a member of Uplift?’, they declare themselves to be “…a community of people taking coordinated action for progressive change in Ireland…membership is open to anyone living on the island of Ireland and Irish people living abroad. Until there is an established membership base in Northern Ireland (sic) , Uplift does not initially plan to pro-actively campaign on this part of the island….”. So it seems that that “part of the island (ie our six north-eastern counties)” is not part of “…the island of Ireland..” ?

Not a very ‘uplifting’ point of view from such a “progressive” group!


Last month, 28 women who protested peacefully in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, against US President Ronald Reagan’s visit to Ireland received £1000 each arising from their action for wrongful arrest. Gene Kerrigan recalls the weekend when another State determined Irish security requirements and details the garda action which could cost tens of thousands of pounds. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.


Heather Celmalis, the solicitor, tried to find out from the gardaí the reason for the arrest of her clients – the gardaí confirmed that all the women had been arrested but couldn’t and wouldn’t give any further information. The mysterious ‘edict’ from the Garda Commissioner could not be shown or quoted, so Celmalis left the garda station to consult with barrister Ruth-Anne FitzGerald about getting a decree of habeas corpus and when she returned to the garda station at about 1pm she was told that her clients were now being formally charged.

The women were taken out of the cells and had the charge read to them : it said that on being ordered by the gardaí “in accordance with the provisions of Section 9 (3) of the Phoenix Park Act (1925) to leave the Phoenix Park you did fail to leave the said park. Contrary to Section 7 (5) Phoenix Park Act 1925″. That particular Section of that Act says that anyone failing to leave the park when ordered to do so by a garda, if that person has breached any other section of the Act or any bye-law, has committed an offence. The section of the Act breached by the women, according to the charge, was Section 9 (3), which says that anyone breaching a regulation made by the Garda Commissioner is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of £5.

But neither the women or their lawyers knew what regulation of the Commissioner’s they had allegedly broken : ‘Section 9 of the Phoenix Park Act’ empowers the Commissioner to make regulations “for the routes to be observed by motor cars, carriages, carts, and other vehicles, and by horses and persons in the Park either generally or on special occasions, and may also give directions to the members of the Garda Síochána for the preserving of order in the Park, the observance of regulations made by the said Commissioner under this section, and the observance of bye-laws”. The precise legalities could wait until later. (MORE LATER).




“The most successful radicalisation of the Republican Movement since the Republican Congress, and it didn’t cause a split” – that’s how Sinn Féin Vice President, Gerry Adams, the man most identified with that radicalisation, now describes the recent political changes in Sinn Féin. The move to the left hasn’t, it’s true, caused a split in the Provisionals, but it has come very close to it. There is undoubtedly a division within the Provo ranks ; the organisation can be said now to be roughly divided between North and South, old and young, traditional and revolutionary, but essentially between right and left.

The impetus for the move leftwards has come from a small group of Northern and especially Belfast radicals, whose influence far outweighs their strength. One Belfast leftist puts their numbers at no more than 30 or 40, but it is almost entirely because the present 7 man IRA army Council is like-minded, and are the men responsible for the military re-vitalisation of the IRA, that the leftists have exerted as much influence. Realistically, the Provisionals have yet to move much further to the left before the radicals can say that they have successfully turned it into a socialist organisation.

More so than most political organisations, the Provisionals consist of a delicate balance of differing interest groups – move them one way and the balance is upset. Most political organisations can withstand those sort of stresses and strains, but less so an organisation that is also fighting a ‘war of national liberation’. The leftists have been able to tip the balance so far and only a little at a time. (MORE LATER).


6th May, 1882 – the scene of the executions in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, of two top British officials, ‘Lord’ Frederick Cavendish, and his under secretary, Thomas Henry Burke.

On the 6th May, 1882, the ‘Invincibles’ held a meeting in Mulbeths Public House, 12 Lower Bridge Street, Dublin, to discuss the arrival of the new British Chief Secretary, ‘Lord’ Frederick Cavendish. The route that Cavendish was to travel on his way to the Vice-Regal Lodge in the Phoenix Park was known to those at the meeting, all of whom were armed with knives – pistol-shots would only alert British patrols in the area – and two carriages were organised ; one driven by James ‘Skin-the-Goat’ Fitzharris and the other by Invincible member Michael Kavanagh. James Carey led the men out of Mulbeths Bar and into the two carriages, which then headed for the Phoenix Park. The new British Chief Secretary, ‘Lord’ Frederick Cavendish and his ‘Permanent Undersecretary’ Thomas Henry Burke, were waylaid by the Invincibles in Dublin’s Phoenix Park and assassinated.

The killings were condemned by both the Irish establishment and the churches, but months went by and no arrests were made. Then, in one day, twenty-six men (all members of the ‘Invincibles’) were arrested and charged with the ‘Phoenix Park murders’. The men soon realised that this was no ‘desperate face-saving’ expedition by the British ; one of the top members of the ‘Invincibles’, James Carey, had turned informer and his brother, Peter, also told the British all he knew about the group. The other jarvey (cab-driver) Michael Kavanagh, also agreed to inform on the ‘Invincibles’. Between May and December 1883, fourteen ‘Invincibles’ passed through Green Street Courthouse – eight received life sentences and six were put to death. One of those sentenced to life was James ‘Skin-the-Goat’ Fitzharris, who was arrested on the evidence given by the other driver, Michael Kavanagh.

When he was first arrested, the British offered Fitzharris a deal if he, too, would turn informer, but he refused. His ‘trial’ actually ended with him being acquitted by the jury but the judge then halted proceedings and ordered that he be re-arrested ; he was then charged with being an ‘accomplice’ in the deed, found guilty, and sentenced to life. During both of his ‘trials’, ‘Skin-the-Goat’ made a mockery of the proceedings and refused to recognise the so-called ‘authority’ of the British to carry-out such functions in Ireland. James ‘Skin-the-Goat’ Fitzharris was fifty years of age when he began his life sentence – he was sixty-five when he got out of (Portlaoise) Prison, and things had changed ; his comrades were either dead or had moved away and, to the eternal shame of the Republican Movement, it turned its back on the man.

He had no job and no-where to live, he knew no-one and no-one wanted to know him. His choice now was to live on the street or sign himself into the workhouse – he chose the latter, and survived for the next twelve years as a pauper – between the gutter and the workhouse. He died in 1910 (on 7th September) aged seventy-seven. He was jobless, homeless and friendless when he died, alone, in the South Dublin Union Workhouse in James Street, Dublin. James ‘Skin-the-Goat’ Fitzharris was twenty-five years young when he joined the Movement in 1858 and stayed true to his Republican principles for fifty-two years, until he died. He had a hard life, in hard times, but he came through it and never recanted his actions or his beliefs. And, to his credit, he was working for a noble cause, unlike the two British agents/officials he encountered in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, 133 years ago on this date.


We have posted before about the fact that the trade union organisation, SIPTU, has allowed anti-worker scab employees from the ‘Irish Water’ company to join its ranks and, for a weekly fee, is attempting to secure/improve better working conditions for those workers –

“Meanwhile, the trade union SIPTU , the leadership of which is linked to and supports the State Labour Party (which fully endorses the double tax on water) has issued what could at best (ie being generous to them) only be described as a watery/fence-sitting statement in relation to this double tax in which, amongst other sickening half-way-house utterances, they suggest that other ways be found to “implement the water charges” and practically ask people to cooperate with the scabs that are attempting to build the infrastructure (meters, pipe work etc) via which this double tax will be enforced, which is not surprising, as those scab workers are apparently represented by SIPTU in their dealings with ‘IW’ management re their terms and conditions…” (from here) .

Now, as you can see from the above-pictured SIPTU letter (enlarged version here, transcript below) , dated 30th April 2015, the employer (‘Irish Water’) that hired those scab workers for that scab job is turning on them and treating them as all scabs should be treated – with contempt :

’30th April 2015

Update to SIPTU Water Service members

Dear Colleagues,

Further to yesterdays LRC conciliation hearing regarding the IW leak detection and fixing programme, it appears at this stage that IW will settle for nothing less than the wholesale introduction of contractors operating across the country
(sic) to carry out what is regarded as core work of our members.

Such a development would represent a major breach of our agreements, as well as a calculated step towards the privatisation of the provision of water services in this country
(sic) , despite all of the assurances given to the contrary.

On foot of this serious and developing situation, preparations will now commence to conduct a series of consultative meetings with members to appraise them of the situation.

Members should also be advised that in the event that there is any unilateral attempt to introduce contractors to carry out work normally done by our members, then we will proceed to ballot our members for industrial/strike action.

In this regard, all members should now be advised of the developing situation.

Yours Sincerely,

Brendan O’ Brien,

Sector Organiser.’

This is one strike that I would like to see happen, just so that I could pass the picket, repeatedly, and with pleasure, even if I had to go out of my way to do so, as those people are basically scabbing a living off the backs of workers and the unemployed. SIPTU should wash its hands of those scabs and then issue a general apology for having had anything to do with them in the first place.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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