Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Glasgow Bloody Sunday Commemoration
Friends and comrades,
The events of 30th January, 1972 have had a profound effect on the nationalist people of Ireland in general and the nationalist people of Derry city in particular. I don't need to go too deeply into the events of 39 years ago as most people are more than familiar with them and the political situation surrounding them. However there is no doubt that the brutal display of British policy in Ireland played no small part in hastening the pace at which the republican movement fought their war. The image that the British displayed around the world as a peacekeeping force to separate two warring factions was comprehensively shattered and it became evident to many that the British army and state was at war with the nationalist people of the occupied six counties and their army, the IRA. There have been many theories over the years as to what the British hoped to achieve on Bloody Sunday, even today that is open to debate however there is no doubt that the British state deliberately and coldly issued a political directive to its forces to gun down civilians in an area it claimed sovereignty over. Saville confirmed what everyone in Ireland has known for four decades, that these people were innocent, people like my grandmother, the only woman shot that day who luckily survived her wounds. Many commentators have also remarked that Bloody Sunday was a turning point for the IRA, recruitment in the immediate aftermath hitting levels never seen before or indeed since, this is also true, young men from the city were undoubtedly incensed and wanted to strike back at the British state, young men like my father, who was later to die on active service with the republican army.
If we fast forward to 2011 we must question whether or not British state interests in Ireland have changed at all. There have been many cosmetic changes, many political talking shops and many agreements cobbled together under their watchful eye. The political reality is that despite all these various initiatives there has never, ever been one that will deal with the root cause of the conflict. The issue of sovereignty is the reason why the British army were in Derry 39 years ago, the same issue is why they are in Derry today. The sovereignty issue is why the IRA have engaged the British army and colonial police force and why the republican forces continue to do so today.
The issue of sovereignty has always been left at the door of any past negotiations at the insistence of the British negotiators, today the great and the good in my city and across Ireland make well publicised attempts to engage the 'dissidents' in an effort to cease the conflict but unless they are prepared to address the causes of the conflict then any such engagements are futile and merely for the optics. The republican movement are sincere in ending all conflict in Ireland and will afford it the seriousness it deserves, we will not engage in a process for political careerism which seems to be the motivation of some in my city, nor to show our new masters how loyal we are, which seems to be the motivation of others.
The British state forces in Ireland, the army, police and security apparatus have increased harassment of republicans noticably in the last few months. Republicans are stopped on sight, homes are destroyed and even children are stripped and fondled in the guise of searches.The British army, which officially no longer is involved in front line activities in the occupied area wrecked my home recently and indeed they ripped up notes i had regarding Bloody Sunday and the Saville inquiry. Men are arrested regularly and following days in isolation in interrogation centres released, many having been barely asked a question, others are charged on laughable evidence and are condemned to long periods on remand before the charges are dropped and still others are serving long sentences for politically motivated frame ups. This time is spent in the north in Maghaberry prison which has seen numerous protests at the draconian prison regime and even as we speak men are being beaten badly for refusing strip searches in line with an agreement they previously made with the British administration, this agreement, like so many before it has been broken by the sectarian prison officers association.
The British will claim that all this is necessary to combat a growing republican threat, and without doubt support for the republican position is growing daily but have the British learned nothing in 40 years? with every house raid another republican is made, with every roadside or street assault another republican is made and with the collective targetting of republicans our collective determination grows. Unless the British are serious about addressing the cause of the conflict which is their refusal to recognise democracy and Irish sovereignty then the cycle will continue, violence will unleash violence and so on, the British appear to be happy to try and contain the conflict and portray it as a small criminal conspiracy, they have tried that before, they will not contain a risen people.