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G8 protesters warn violent thugs to stay away from Belfast and Fermanagh demos


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Trade unionists who will protest against the G8 in Belfast and Fermanagh have warned violent anti-capitalist thugs not to hijack their demonstrations.

Activists from Unite, Britain’s biggest union, and NIPSA, which represents thousands of public sector workers in Northern Ireland, said measures had been put in place to prevent demonstrations in Belfast and Fermanagh being hijacked by troublemakers.

“If you are intent on trouble do not come near our demonstration. We won’t allow this demonstration to be hijacked,” said Gary Mulcahy, a spokesman and co-ordinator for the G8 Not Welcome campaign.

Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Belfast for a protest organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) on Saturday.

Thousands more are expected to travel west for another rally against the G8 summit in Enniskillen on Monday.

Protesters will attempt to get as close to the world’s eight most powerful leaders as possible by snaking their way on a pre-agreed route through the town towards a perimeter fence erected around the site of the luxurious Lough Erne resort. The protest is expected to last for up to four hours.

The trade unions have also accused the Government of scaremongering in an attempt to put people off joining protests.

Jimmy Kelly, Unite regional secretary, said an atmosphere of fear was being deliberately stirred up ahead of the conference.

“All the build up is designed to put people off with wall-to-wall police, back up and drones and everything you can think of.

“We are trying to cut through that intimidation climate to say you are entitled to protest, be proud to protest because our aims are just and we are a force for good. If you want to go out with your family and be part of the protest you are concerned that the security is going to go over the top.”

via G8 protesters warn violent thugs to stay away from Belfast and Fermanagh demos – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.

Northern Irish police seize arms cache ahead of G8


Reuters) – Northern Ireland police seized explosives and munitions during a sweep of Irish militant nationalists on Monday, a week before world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama travel to the province for the Group of Eight summit.

Police have made a number of arrests of suspected dissidents in recent weeks ahead of the summit, which will take place at a hotel that one militant group said was the target of a car bomb plot in March that was foiled by police.

“Detectives of the serious crime branch conducting a search in the Beechwood area in relation to dissident republican activity have recovered a quantity of munitions and explosives,” a police spokeswoman said.

Londonderry is 100 km (60 miles) north of the G8 summit venue.

Security experts say the militants are unlikely to get past the security barrier to attack the G8 hotel itself but could attempt some kind of attack in Northern Ireland during the two-day summit.

Prominent Irish nationalist Colin Duffy is among a number of suspected dissidents arrested in recent weeks. He was later released.

There have been a number of hoax bomb alerts, including two near the site of the G8 meeting.

A 1998 peace deal largely ended more than three decades of violence in the British-controlled province between mainly Catholic Irish nationalists seeking union with Ireland and predominantly Protestant unionists who want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

However militant nationalists, who include former operatives who split from the IRA after it declared a ceasefire, still stage sporadic gun and bomb attacks and have targeted security forces in particular.

(Reporting by Maurice Neill and Conor Humphries; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

via Northern Irish police seize arms cache ahead of G8 | Reuters.

G8 summit: 3,600 extra police officers being flown to NI


PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott has said an extra 3,600 police officers are being flown into Northern Ireland next month from Great Britain for the G8 summit.

Mr Baggott said Northern Ireland was a “safe place to work and live”.

He said he would be doing everything to ensure “it was the most successful G8 summit in history”.

World leaders are to gather for two days at Lough Erne golf resort in County Fermanagh on 17 and 18 June.

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said it would be one of the biggest policing operations ever in Northern Ireland, with mutual aid from Great Britain and 600 private security staff from G4S and others.

Chief constable Matt Baggott has said an extra 3,600 police officers are being brought in

It will be the first time the annual summit has been held in the United Kingdom since it was at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2005.

Mr Baggott said protesters would not get within sight of the world leaders and that they would have the space to get on with their “important work”.

“Military will be providing assistance to the police during G8,” he added.

He said he had received “huge support” from police in Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Canada.

PSNI assistant chief constable Alastair Finlay said it was possible some G8 leaders would visit other parts of Northern Ireland but nothing had been requested yet.

via BBC News – G8 summit: 3,600 extra police officers being flown to NI.

Top ten surprising facts about Ireland and the Irish revealed


Phoenix Park Dublin – one of the biggest urban parks in Europe.


Think you know your Irish history and geography? Think again! here are some fascinating facts and figures.

1.   Irish patriot Michael Collins’ father was 74 when his son was born. Michael Collins senior married a woman 37 years younger than him.

2.  The Shannon is the longest river in both Britain or Ireland.

3. Ireland’s longest serving leader Eamon De Valera was born out of wedlock in New York to a Cuban immigrant and an Irish woman, Kate Coll. On De Valera’s original birth certificate, his name is given as George De Valero.

4. The entire size of Ireland would fit neatly into Indiana. Both populations are similar at 6 million.

5. There was a pogrom against Jews in 1904 in Limerick. It was instigated by a Redemptorist priest, Father John Creagh. Eighty Jews were driven from their homes.  Later, Dublin elected one of Europe’s first Jewish Lord Mayors.

6. Ireland’s first president Douglas Hyde was a Protestant, as was President Erskine Childers.

7. Edward Carson, who did more to keep Northern Ireland separate from the Republic than anyone, he was born in Dublin.

8. Ireland once had Europe’s biggest brothel. It was called Monto located in north inner city Dublin and 1,600 hookers plied their trade there in the first part of the century. British troops were a large part of the clientele.

9. Phoenix Park is one of the biggest urban parks in Europe.

10. The Duke of Wellington, Napoleons conqueror at Waterloo, was born in Ireland at the site of the current Merrion Hotel. He is the only Irish-born Prime Minister of Britain.

via Top ten surprising facts about Ireland and the Irish revealed | Irish Genealogy and Roots | IrishCentral.

Ireland’s Big Lie: The Real Potemkin Village


While the world is awash in central banker created Potemkin village analogies, Ireland has gone one step further. In a little over two weeks, the self-important leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) will be meeting at the Lough Erne Golf Resort in Northern Ireland. There’s a slight problem, however. Ireland’s economy is in shambles and many of the neighboring towns are in horrible shape. So what’s the solution? Simple, just pretend nothing’s wrong by remodeling storefronts long since abandoned just as you would in a Hollywood set. What about those pesky abandoned buildings and other eyesores of blight and destitution? No problem, just place colorful murals in front of them. It makes sense. After all, the response by the G8 to the financial collapse since the beginning has been to cover it up and pretend nothing happened

Via Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Ireland’s Big Lie: Town Gets Cheap, Superficial Makeover Ahead of the G8 Summit

In a little over two weeks, the self-important leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) will be meeting at the Lough Erne Golf Resort in Northern Ireland.  There’s a slight problem, however.  Ireland’s economy is in shambles and many of the neighboring towns are in horrible shape.  While real economic collapse doesn’t seem to bother Ireland’s leaders, the thought of Barack Obama, Shinzo Abe and David Cameron having to confront the realities of poverty while feasting on caviar and foie gras is simply too much to bare.

So what’s the solution?  Simple, just pretend nothing’s wrong by remodeling storefronts long since abandoned just as you would in a Hollywood set.  What about those pesky abandoned buildings and other eyesores of blight and destitution?  No problem, just place colorful murals in front of them.  It makes sense.  After all, the response by the G8 to the financial collapse since the beginning has been to cover it up and pretend nothing happened.  At least the meme is consistent across the Western World.  From the Irish Times:

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on a Fermanagh facelift as the county prepares for the G8 summit in just under three weeks’ time, but locals complain the work paid for by the local council and the Stormont Executive is little more than skin deep.

More than 100 properties within range of the sumptuous Lough Erne resort which hosts the world’s wealthiest leaders, have been tidied up, painted or power-hosed.

However, locals say the makeover only serves to hide a deeper malaise which US president Barack Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president François Hollande and others will not get to see.

Two shops in Belcoo, right on the border with Blacklion, Co Cavan, have been painted over to appear as thriving businesses. The reality, as in other parts of the county, is rather more stark.

Just a few weeks ago, Flanagan’s – a former butcher’s and vegetable shop in the neat village – was cleaned and repainted with bespoke images of a thriving business placed in the windows. Any G8 delegate passing on the way to discuss global capitalism would easily be fooled into thinking that all is well with the free-market system in Fermanagh. But, the facts are different.

“That work happened just a few weeks ago,” he said. The council got that place painted but it went under sometime last year.

The butcher’s business has been replaced by a picture of a butcher’s business.Across the road is a similar tale. A small business premises has been made to look like an office supplies store. It used to be a pharmacy, now relocated on the village main street.

Elsewhere in Fermanagh, billboard-sized pictures of the gorgeous scenery have been located to mask the occasional stark and abandoned building site or other eyesore.

via Ireland’s Big Lie: The Real Potemkin Village | Zero Hedge.

Price of Injustice


British Occupied Ireland(N.Ireland)

A commoner in British Occupied Ireland, can be designated a “terrorist” on the secret, unaccountable dictat of the unelected British Viceroyal Villiers, without notice and without a trial. Under CMPs(Closed Material Procedures) any Irish person may be jailed, simply on vaguely-defined, highly paid “material support,” against any person or group, labeled by the Viceroyal as “terrorist.” Any political dissent, such as wearing green, as in a recent incident, or singing a ‘Celtic Song’, or holding a piece of paper at an Easter ceremony, can be labeled as “terrorism” or “material support for terrorism,”

Two essentials are driving the trampling of democratic rights in British Occupied Ireland and the shift towards authoritarian Viceroyal fascist rule there. The first is the massive social inequality, which the British Chief Constable in Ireland, Matt Baggott, referred to recently, when pleading for greater efforts to counter the economic and social roots of Irish republican dissent, in turn driven by the historic crisis, of British sponsored sectarianism, within their capitalist system of further inequality. Britain as usual, looks to sponsored state terrorism, police state repression, wartime political internment without trial, as a means to preserve their status, power and wealth.

The second is that real democracy is incompatible, with such high levels of sectarianism, social inequality and injustice, it is also incompatible with low intensity imperialist war, such as Britain is still conducting in Ireland, under the guise of a fake Peace Process. The UK military and intelligence agencies, have for centuries been wading in the blood of every country in the world, with the exception of just 10, in a drive to plunder the world’s resources. The dead, wounded, interned and displaced numbered in the millions, with Ireland its first colony of 800 years suffering incessant genocide and invasions.

A knock on the door! In the early hours of the morning. A door smashed with British jackboot of state terrorism, and armed men breaking into your home. They call them military and British paramilitary police, as you are dragged from your bed. Jail, internment camps, no charge, no trial, indefinite detention. This has been the institutionalized pattern of political internment in Ireland, for more than a hundred years now. It is still happening today, as the well documented cases of Marian Price and Martin Corey still testify, despite a much touted Peace Process.

The current international struggle against real and state sponsored “terrorism” is the latest political cover, misused by the British, for their centuries old, worldwide arrest and murder of tens of thousands of political opponents, youth, workers, intellectuals and other enemies of their colonialism or pirate rape of worldwide communities along with their resources. The UK government, currently asserts the power, to subject anyone Irish who disagrees, as a designated “terrorist,” subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without trial indefinitely. Political internment without trial has become institutionalized in Ireland.

Leaving to one side for a moment, how morally grotesque all of this is, one does not have to be particularly bright, to see, that such obvious injustice, has no place in building a genuine peace process.Those secret service puppets, stooges, who are called politicians in British Occupied Ireland, who have curried favour and made lucrative careers, by exclusively condemning non British state violence, are quite comfortable with all of this institutionalized violence, to the point where a mercenary British Chief Constable was forced to highlight some of it, in a one party British sponsored kleptocracy .

It is vital where ever we are, to oppose such criminal British assaults on freedom, in the first instance, no matter who is targeted, because such state kidnap, when unopposed, has become institutionalized. Now that it has happened, this is difficult to stop, because once it happens, it inevitably occurs, that internment without trial, will expand way beyond just the Irish and other groups originally targeted, to include all of the people of no property, wherever criminal privilege, ensnares.

Anyone Irish who has been paying attention, knows that British concepts of “guilt” and “innocence” are quaint relics of a dead Magna Carta and a discarded habeas corpus. All that matters today in British Occupied Ireland, is how many convictions a prosecutor can get and how many secret service careers are advanced in the secret “injustice” system, of a scum sectarian state, sponsored by supremacist British Tories, under the watch of Viceroyal Villiers. “Justice,” just like everything else in ” British civilized” society, is an industry and a product, that keeps the British Tory ruling classes happy with the restless Irish natives still under the colonial jackboot.

Freedom and truth are not part of the equation as with the ruling class worldwide, now in the advanced stages of preparations for the inevitable confrontation with the international people of no property. We need to make our own preparations, conscious of the examples elsewhere, of progressive, evolutionary, political struggles to genuine government by the people of no property, for the people of no property. It is they and only they, who can be trusted to avert the threats of dictatorship and guard a genuine democracy, with social equality and real justice.

After World War II at the Nuremberg Tribunals, the principal Judge said of the purpose of Nuremberg: “We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it.” The intent was to establish a precedent against aggressive war like, Iraq, just 57 years later. Jackson said: “Let me make clear, that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes and if it is to serve a useful purpose, it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.

“We are able to do away with domestic tyranny and violence and aggression by those in power against the rights of their own people only when we make all men answerable to the law. This trial represents mankind’s desperate effort to apply the discipline of the law to statesmen who have used their powers of state to attack the foundations of the world’s peace and to commit aggression against the rights of their neighbors.”

On April 24, 1946, one of the Nazi defendants Wilhelm Frick, told the Tribunal, “I wanted things done legally. After all, I am a lawyer.” Frick drafted, signed and administered laws that suppressed trade unions and persecuted Jews. He insisted he had drafted the Nuremberg Laws for “scientific reasons,” to protect the purity of German blood. Frick also knew that the insane, aged and disabled (“useless eaters”) were being systematically killed, but did nothing to stop it.

Frick was sentenced to death by the Nuremberg Tribunal and hanged on Oct. 16, 1946.

I do not advocate capital punishment, even for the likes of Viceroyal Villiers and her ancestor also called Viceroyal George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon, who ruled over the genocidal holocaust, that murdered millions of Irish people, in what they call the Great Hunger. I simply want the Villiers and Tories held accountable, as their faux-lawyer Nazi counterparts were. Otherwise Britain has made a liar out of Justice Jackson and made a mockery of the Nuremberg principles, which so many working class people, gave their lives for, including their loyalists in Ireland, which will be revealed as just another case of “victor’s justice” despite promises to the contrary. Their own Churchill called internment, an Act of War in the highest degree Odious and the mark of an authoritarian regime.

I do not know how British law, hold it’s supposed professionals to account but I do know that Viceroyal Villiers obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) from Jesus College, Oxford, in 1991. After graduating she worked as a barrister and as a lecturer at King’s College London (1994–99). It is understandable that these international colleges may simply be places of ill repute and vice, bearing in mind the British track record, of not honouring it’s Royal pardons and their SS shredding her Majesty’s writs. But if by chance, they even aspire to any claim of morality in their lawless neo-colony, then they sshould not need me to explain to them, how to commence what the Price of Justice requires.

As with freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, is also meant to be guaranteed, in a democratic peace process, with the reality, however being, that political assembly is a semi-criminal activity in British Occupied Ireland. Political protests are routinely met with vastly disproportionate police mobilizations, “kettling” (in which protesters are surrounded and forcibly moved in one direction or prevented from leaving an area), beatings, tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades or plastic bullets are the standard British response to a peaceful, political protest, in a massive show of force, complete with riot gear and police snipers on rooftops. What is this but a police state, repression, combined with internment without trial, death squads, that murder human rights lawyers and journalists. A foundation for a Peace Process?

Ask the people of no property ghettoized across the neo-colony. They will tell you justice is locked up, it is political interned right now, in the form of Marian Price and Martin Corey. Like a slow burn fuse, internment without trial, is an instrument of war that burns in the Irish psyche and heart. It has no place in a peace process. Nobody can be that stupid, not even the Brits but to realize, it guarantees more war, especially in the instance of icons of Irish street resistance, to British colonial occupation in Ireland. It hasn’t worked in a hundred years and it will not work now. No, like recent British aggressive wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria the British industrial war complex, demands permanent wars of profit and political research laboratories for their state terror in police state neo-colonies, such as British Occupied Ireland.

Related Link: http://bit.ly/13C9IdY

via Price of Injustice – Indymedia Ireland.

via Price of Injustice – Indymedia Ireland.

Are Muslims the new Irish?


The UK’s independent reviewer of terror legislation says British government learned many lessons from Northern Ireland

David Anderson was in Dublin, speaking at the Irish Centre for European Law, Trinity College Dublin.

‘I spend quite a lot of time speaking to Muslim communities – they do feel that when they go through an airport it may be them that will be singled out for examination – that can’t be very nice’.

‘But, it would be great to say the problem is solved and we can scale terror laws down.’

‘Unfortunately, that’s not right’.

‘We are still seeing a steady stream of convictions of mainly men who have been planning or seeking to execute atrocities that would result in significant loss of life’.

‘There are quite hard cases of people who have been planning 7/7- style attacks’.

‘These are often people who have trained in Pakistan, downloaded images from the internet and communicating by email with radicals in other countries, and people who have been radicalised in prison.’

Abu Qatada

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that one of Britain’s most notorious radicals, Abu Qatada will now face terrorism charges in Jordan if the government there signs a treaty guaranteeing a fair trial for him.

Both the British courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the government from sending Qatada to face trial in Jordan where evidence obtained by torture was likely to be used against him in court.

His rights under article 6 of the European Convention, ‘The Right to a Fair Trial’, would, according to the courts, been violated, had the extradition gone ahead.

The Strasbourg judges said it would make the “whole trial not only immoral and illegal, but also entirely unreliable in its outcome”.

Qatada was sentenced in absentia to life in prison on terror charges in 1999 and the Jordanian authorities wish to send him for retrial.

He has not been charged with any crime in the UK, yet the government has been trying to deport him for the last 8 years, resulting in his incarceration and bail on a number of occasions.

Mr. Anderson Q.C. says the use of evidence obtained by torture in his trial was a ‘flagrant denial of justice’.

‘I went to see him a few weeks ago; he is a complicated character’

‘There is no doubt that he is assessed as a very dangerous man.’

‘But he has been helpful in the release of at least one hostage’

via Newstalk – Are Muslims the new Irish? – UK’s terrorism watchdog David Anderson.

via Newstalk – Are Muslims the new Irish? – UK’s terrorism watchdog David Anderson.

Death of a Hunger Striker


What are the implications for the US if the hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay result in death?

The result will be widespread rioting in the Muslim world. The deaths will further fuel the resolve and enhance the aims of Muslim terrorists. A possible fragmentation of what friends the US has left in the Middle East is also a possible outcome

On May 5, 1981, imprisoned Irish Catholic militant Bobby Sands dies after refusing food for 66 days in protest of his treatment as a criminal rather than a political prisoner by British authorities. His death immediately kicked-off widespread rioting in Belfast, as young Irish-Catholic militants clashed with police and British Army patrols and started fires. Bobby SandsBobby Sands was born into a Catholic family in a Protestant area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1954. In 1972, sectarian violence forced his family to move to public housing in a Catholic area, where Sands was recruited by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). The Provisional IRA, formed in 1969 after a break with the Official IRA, advocated violence and terrorism as a means of winning independence for Northern Ireland from Britain. (The Provisional IRA, the dominant branch, is generally referred to as simply the IRA.) After independence, according to the IRA, Northern Ireland would be united with the Republic of Ireland in a socialist Irish republic. In 1972, Sands was arrested and convicted of taking part in several IRA robberies. Because he was convicted for IRA activities, he was given “special category status” and sent to a prison that was more akin to a prisoner of war camp because it allowed freedom of dress and freedom of movement within the prison grounds. He spent four years there. After less than a year back on the streets, Sands was arrested in 1977 for gun possession near the scene of an IRA bombing and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Because the British government had enacted a policy of “criminalization” of Irish terrorists in 1976, Sands was imprisoned as a dangerous criminal in the Maze Prison south of Belfast. During the next few years, from his cell in the Maze, he joined other imprisoned IRA terrorists in protests demanding restoration of the freedoms they had previously enjoyed under special category status. In 1980, a hunger strike lasted 53 days before it was called off when one of the protesters fell into a coma. In response, the British government offered a few concessions to the prisoners, but they failed to deliver all they had promised and protests resumed. Sands did not take a direct part in the 1980 strike, but he acted as the IRA-appointed leader and spokesperson of the protesting prisoners. On March 1, 1981 (the fifth anniversary of the British policy of criminalization) Bobby Sands launched a new hunger strike. He took only water and salt, and his weight dropped from 70 to 40 kilos. After two weeks, another protester joined the strike, and six days after that, two more. On April 9, in the midst of the strike, Sands was elected to a vacant seat in the British Parliament from Fermanagh and South Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Parliament subsequently introduced legislation to disqualify convicts serving prison sentences for eligibility for Parliament. His election and fears of violence after his death drew international attention to Sands’ protest. In the final week of his life, Pope John Paul II sent a personal envoy to urge Sands to give up the strike. He refused. On May 3, he fell into a coma, and in the early morning of May 5 he died. Fighting raged for days in Belfast, and tens of thousands attended his funeral on May 7. After Sands’ death, the hunger strike continued, and nine more men perished before it was called off on October 3, 1981, under pressure from Catholic Church leaders and the prisoners’ families. In the aftermath of the strike, the administration of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher agreed to give in to several of the protesters’ demands, including the right to wear civilian clothing and the right to receive mail and visits. Prisoners were also allowed to move more freely and no longer were subject to harsh penalties for refusing prison work. Official recognition of their political status, however, was not granted.

(via oaken-shield)

Horsemeat scandal: fear that culprits will not face justice


Concern in UK at Irish inquiry as Europe-wide investigation stalls

Almost four months after the widespread adulteration of beef products with horsemeat was revealed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, there are growing fears in the UK that the investigation to identify the full extent of the fraud is being shut down, the Guardian has learned.

Senior sources in enforcement and the food industry have accused the Irish authorities of being more concerned to protect the Irish beef industry than to expose all the links in the chain.

“There is deep frustration. There’s a belief the FSAI must have known exactly what it was looking for, but the Irish end is in lockdown and there is not the full flow of information we’d expect. We have a sense of immense pressure to close it down,” a senior figure in UK enforcement said.

A high-profile victim in the food industry, said: “It looks as though the authorities are not going to be able to identify and prosecute any major abattoir or processor that sold undeclared horse because of a wall of silence from the Irish.”

The shadow secretary for environment and food, Mary Creagh, called for more clarity over the investigation: “The question now is what progress are both governments making to bring people to justice? Ours has gone silent. If consumers are ever to see justice both sides will have to work closely together rather than going back to business as usual.”

The beef sector is one of Ireland’s largest industries, worth nearly €2bn in 2012. It employs almost 100,000 farm families and 8,000 workers in processing.

The horsemeat scandal led to millions of burgers and ready meals being withdrawn from supermarket shelves around Europe, but enforcement agencies say that where supply chains cross jurisdictions, they are not getting enough information. Industry victims report that their own efforts to find out where their meat was coming from are being frustrated beyond the immediate suppliers with whom they had legal contracts.

The Irish government vigorously disputes this account of its activities. A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) said it had conducted a comprehensive investigation with its own special unit and the police and had passed information about traders and other intermediaries in the supply chain outside its jurisdiction to Europol and other EU states in a transparent manner. Some of the tensions between the two countries have been played out publicly in the Commons environment, food and rural affairs select committee, where MPs had a robust exchange at the end of April with the head of the FSAI, Professor Alan Reilly, over what the Irish authorities knew and when. They accused the Irish government of putting its beef industry before consumers. Reilly responded that far from hiding the problem, his authority had been the first to uncover it.

The UK environment secretary, Owen Paterson, told parliament at the beginning of the scandal that the Irish were acting on a tip-off, and that he had been told this by its agriculture minister, Simon Coveney. Coveney has subsequently said they were not. Creagh said: “We have two completely different versions of early events. At the very least it raises questions over the political handling of this case.”

The investigation is further complicated by the delicacy of the political situation where criminal activity crosses the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, a senior official said. The border area is notorious for smuggling. During the Troubles organised crime, involving the movement of live animals, drugs and arms across the border, was linked with fundraising for paramilitaries.

“No one is wanting to stir up paramilitary history, and the banking crisis in Ireland makes it doubly difficult politically to go for the beef industry. There’s a sense that enforcement agencies have known what’s going on with meat, but that it might be better to let this play out,” an industry insider told the Guardian.

The Food Standards Agency said: “Our jurisdiction is only the UK. Our investigations into whether any fraudulent activity has taken place in the UK are ongoing. We are continuing to cooperate with other regulatory authorities across Europe.”

The select committee was sceptical about Reilly’s insistence that the Irish had not been acting on intelligence. Its Tory chair, Anne McIntosh, accused him of “playing the innocent” and a Labour member, Barry Gardiner, described to Reilly a note of a conversation between him and the head of the UK Food Standards Agency, Catherine Brown, in February in which Reilly acknowledged using tests for horsemeat that were unaccredited and could not therefore be used to bring prosecutions, and said that Coveney’s agenda was to protect the Irish industry.

The Irish authority tests were in fact meant to be a warning shot to its beef industry to clean up its act, which it knew was dirty but did not want to prosecute, Gardiner maintained. “That’s a fantastic theory, but it’s not true,” Reilly replied.

Since January the food industry has poured resources into trying to pin down where horse entered its beef supply. As they have mapped the Irish companies and UK traders involved, industry and politicians have been struck by how many have family or business connections through common directors now or in the past. Key industry players are dismayed at DAFM’s report in March which concluded that several of the companies that sold them horse warrant no further investigation. The companies say they are innocent victims in the current fraud. Although DAFM is critical of some of the companies that supplied horse, it has decided that several others can get back to business where subsequent tests have been negative and it has found no evidence that they knowingly used horse.

The Commons select committee is keen to question some of the companies and their directors further. It has invited ABP chairman Larry Goodman, other executives who used to work for him and now run their own meat companies, and the head of processing company Greencore, Patrick Coveney, to give evidence.

Goodman’s ABP group is at the heart of the scandal, having supplied beefburgers that were 29% horse to Tesco from its Silvercrest factory near the Irish border, and frozen mince that was 29% horse to Asda from its Dalepak plant in Yorkshire. Other products from ABP to supermarkets also tested positive for horse at low levels.

ABP has admitted that rogue managers at its Silvercrest plant failed to follow supermarket specifications but says that it has otherwise been an innocent victim. Its chief executive, Paul Finnerty, has already been questioned by MPs about Goodman’s history. Gardiner put it to him that an Irish public inquiry in 1994 found his companies had faked records, made fraudulent claims for EC subsidies, commissioned bogus official stamps, cheated customs officials, and practised institutionalised tax evasion in the 1980s.

Gardiner also noted that Goodman had been found in the past to have worked through a secret network of linked businesses known as the Cork companies and asked if there was another secret network involved in the current saga. Finnerty replied that all ABP’s business today was conducted through ABP companies.ABP said it was inappropriate to bring up events that happened 25 years ago. Both it and the other companies say they have no current connections.  Greencore was drawn into the scandal when fresh beef bolognese sauce it supplied to Asda, made using meat from ABP, was found in Asda tests to be 5% horse. It is based in Ireland; its chief executive, Patrick Coveney, is the minister’s brother. Industry sources have been troubled by potential conflicts of interest.

DAFM said: “Minister Coveney and the department absolutely reject any suggestion of a conflict of interest. The fact is the Irish authorities were the first to disclose this problem which turned out to be pan-European.”

Greencore said the Asda tests were a mistake and its own tests had come back negative. Its relevant operations were in the UK and came under UK regulators, so there was no conflict of interest, it said.

Comment: Suspect this all about authorities ball hopping

The Irish authorities highlighted the problem. What puzzles me is the UK authorities had the mechanisms in place to detect this problem but failed to so. 

via Horsemeat scandal: fear that culprits will not face justice.

via Horsemeat scandal: fear that culprits will not face justice.

Rule Britannia for global crimes


It’s an anthem that is usually sung with chest-thumping pride and misty eyes by British imperialists. “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves”. This jingoistic celebration of Britain’s former global conquest may yet degenerate into “Rue Britannia, Britannia rues the waves”.

This is because, as The Guardian newspaper reports this week, the

London government has at long last been forced into recognizing compensation payments for as many as 50,000 Kenyan nationals who were victims of torture and other crimes against humanity during that country’s independence struggle in the 1950s. The eventual bill for compensation could run up to tens of millions of pounds.

But the bad news for financially bankrupt Britain does not end there. With this precedent established of compensation for past British imperialist crimes, that now leaves the way open for a global flood of similar claims.

Jingoistic British imperialists may therefore soon rue their often-made reference to Britain ruling the waves and so many countries the world over – at the height of the British Empire some 20 percent of the globe’s land mass was under colonial domination. That’s a lot of people who can claim recompense for past British horrors and deprivation.

If the bill for Britain’s crimes against humanity in Kenya alone runs into tens of millions of pounds, then we can easily multiply that sum manifold if the millions of other victims from across the world who suffered under the British jackboot come forward to claim justice.

The Guardian listed just a handful of additional class-action cases for compensation against the British government. They included the former colonies of Cyprus, Yemen, Swaziland and British Guiana. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when measuring Britain’s global legacy of crimes and human suffering. Many others would include Britain’s dirty wars and repressive colonial regimes in Bahrain, British Somaliland, Burma, Ghana, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Oman and Zimbabwe. Even that list is far from complete.

Iran presents a challenging case too. After the British-assisted coup in 1953 that led to the 26-year reign of terror under Shah Pahlavi, tens of thousands of Iranians were subjected to torture by the Western-trained and armed Savak secret police. Iranians therefore have a case for compensation against the British government.

Previously, the British House of Lords decreed arbitrarily that no cases for compensation stemming from before 1954 can be brought to an English court. Fortunately for the British establishment, that ruling excludes millions of more potential litigants from former British India, which gained independence in 1947.

Given the appalling suffering inflicted by the British overlords in India – from starvation, massacres, mass imprisonment and destruction of farming and textile livelihoods to give British exporters a competitive advantage – the resulting claims if filed to the Exchequer would definitely spell good night for Britain’s sputtering economy. Far from ruling the waves, Britannia would sink to a watery grave.

But the real point perhaps is more about principle than money – important though material redress is to victims of injustice. What the case of the Kenyans against the British government is really achieving is to strip bare the truth about Britain’s imperial legacy. British national conceit and history books are replete with double standards and moral relativism. It is too widely and fatuously assumed that Britain’s Empire represented somehow a benevolent contribution to history. British people, and unfortunately English-language academia and media across the world, tend to perceive Britain’s “decolonization” – its retreat from imperial territories – as a magnanimous gesture of granting independence. This delusional notion is best summed up in the Orwellian term “the British Commonwealth of nations”.

With conceited moral duplicity, Britain insists that Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany must pay out compensation to victims of their conquests. But no such obligation pertains to Britain, according to the British rulers. Why not? Only imperial arrogance and a certain sense of victor’s justice stemming from the Second World War are invoked to subjectively justify that contradiction. In the world of objective facts and evidence, Britain is equally liable for redress to its global victims of crimes against humanity.

When Britain set out to destroy the Mau Mau struggle for Kenya’s political independence during the 1950s, the British were not interested in benign, passive “decolonization”. For the British rulers, it was a life-or-death challenge to the entire global system of British Empire and its exploitative excrescence on the world. The same British “siege mentality” manifested ruthlessly against the independence movements in all its colonies.

Up to 300,000 Kenyans were incarcerated in concentration camps during what the British euphemistically called “The Emergency”. That same quaint word – “Emergency” – was used by the British to dissemble their barbarism and brutality in Burma against pro-independence communist guerrilla. During Bahrain and Northern Ireland’s struggle for freedom from Britain’s unlawful dominance, the preferred euphemism for repression was “The Troubles”.

But these semantics aside, the nature of repression meted out by British rulers and their officers was systematically criminal and brutal and comparable to the worst genocidal regimes the world has known.

The Kenyan Mau Mau may have suffered the most, probably owing to a twist of racist depravity among the white British counterinsurgency practitioners. Kenyan prisoners were castrated and roasted over fires by British officers using methods of torture that even classified British records explicitly sanctioned as “Gestapo techniques”.

During the British suppression of the Cypriot insurgency during the 1950s, inmates were routinely tortured by water-boarding sessions in which Kerosene was added to the drowning water. Later, during the 1970s in Northern Ireland’s conflict, Irish prisoners were incarcerated without charge and tortured by hooding, prolonged wall-standing, sleep deprivation, white noise and intimidation with guard dogs, not to mention routine physical beatings.

If such torture and generally repressive regimens sound similar to what has since been uncovered in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay it is because they are wholly consistent. These are the standard operating practices of British military doctrine and that of its close American ally.

The reason why such barbarity continues to be practiced is because of the moral duplicity and propagandized version of history that the Western media and academia instill. Barbarity is something that others perpetrate, not us.

The glacial pace of justice – as shown by the more than six decades’ delay for the Mau Mau victims of British crimes – is reflective of the massive public deception instilled by Western media on behalf of their criminal governments.

However, thanks to the courageous pursuit of justice by many people across the world, this edifice of deception will eventually be broken down. This is imperative as a matter of justice for the millions of victims of British crimes against humanity.

But, in addition, the exposure of British criminality is crucial to deleting the duplicity that serves to give contemporary British and other Western governments a veneer of legitimacy. Britain has no right to pontificate and brow beat Syria, Iran or any other nation about “international obligations”. With the full record of British criminality on display, this is a country that, far from lecturing others, should be made to hang its head in shame and remain silent.

via PressTV – Rule Britannia for global crimes.

via PressTV – Rule Britannia for global crimes.

The police appear to be totally anti cannabis in Ireland yet do nothing to protect the citizens from the banking fraudsters


The police appear to be totally anti cannabis in Ireland yet do nothing to protect the citizens from the banking fraudsters who have brought the country to its knees.

Would the public be better served if more police time were devoted to investigating the crimes of bankers and speculators rather than using up their resources chasing cannabis dealers

How many people in Ireland have had problems with the police for  possession of cannabis. How many have been sent to jail.

Yet the bankers and speculators who have brought the country to its knees still walk the land as free citizens I wonder why!!!

Portadown Times

Published on 26/04/2013 15:00

The back seat of a Mondeo car containing a large amount of cannabis after a major drugs manufacturing operation was uncovered in a Belfast city centre flat as part of a police operation in 2010 INPT17-017

A TANDRAGEE man was among seven members of a crime gang jailed last Friday for their involvement in a £2.5 million drugs smuggling operation in Belfast.

James Turley, 53, of Ballymore Road, Tandragee and 38-year-old Warren Martin, of Windsor Terrace, Coagh – who were described by the judge as “privates” in the operation – were jailed for 15 months and 13 months respectively, with half of the term being custodial.

Gang leader Ryan Joseph Black, 29, received the longest term, seven and a half years, with a man described as his “trusted lieutenant” William Johnston, 35, given six years and nine months at Belfast Crown Court.

A major drugs manufacturing operation was uncovered in a city centre flat as part of a police operation in 2010 to disrupt the gang.

All seven men involved pleaded guilty to charges facing them prior to the start of their trial.

Black, whose address cannot be published for legal reasons, and Johnston, of Windermere Park, Belfast, have to serve half the terms in custody, with the remainder on licence.

Both men have already spent a substantial period of time in prison on remand since their arrests in December 2010. This time served will be deducted from the sentences handed down by Judge David McFarland.

Around 52,000 illicit tablets, 30kg of cannabis resin, 1kg of cocaine and £15,000 in cash were part of the haul found in the Laganview Court apartment near Queen’s Bridge in Belfast.

A hydraulic press for making cocaine, an industrial blender, cutting agent, boards, scales and knives were also seized from inside the property, which was fitted with black-out blinds.

The flat was searched by officers in December 2010 shortly after police intercepted the transfer of 26kg of herbal cannabis between vehicles near the Boucher Road in south Belfast.

Two months earlier in the Duncrue estate in north Belfast police halted another drugs transfer – this time involving around 45 kg of herbal cannabis – linked to the same trafficking operation.

Of the five other gang members, Aiden Joseph McPartland, 32, from Deramore Gardens, Belfast and Mark Mulholland, 27, of Colonsay Park, Ballymena, were described by the judge as “corporals” in the command structure. They received 22 months and 24 months respectively. Again only half the sentences are custodial.

Anthony McStravick, 33, from Ailesbury Road, Belfast, who was said by the judge to have played a “minor role”, was given 10 months. He will be eligible for remission.

The men showed no emotion as the sentences were handed down.

Police believe the drugs were transported from England and were destined for the illicit market in Belfast.

The PSNI said, during a parallel investigation in England conducted by East Midlands Special Operations Unit, 11 people received convictions last year.

After the sentencing hearing, PSNI Organised Crime Branch Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said: “This was a lengthy and complex proactive investigation into an organised crime gang which was bringing large quantities of controlled drugs into Northern Ireland.

“We have secured convictions against the gang leader and his deputy as well as their couriers and the individual responsible for mixing the cocaine.

“Working with colleagues in East Midlands Special Operations Unit, we have swept away a web of illegal drug supply covering Northern Ireland and part of England.

“The gang leader, Ryan Black, believed he could direct the activities of the gang from a safe distance and escape the reach of the law.

“But the investigation by Organised Crime Branch was of such a comprehensive and forensic nature that his plan failed. Both the gang leader and his associates have been made amenable.

“In Northern Ireland we have dismantled a gang responsible for large-scale drugs importation.

“Organised Crime Branch will continue to work with local communities and colleagues in law enforcement, in this jurisdiction and around the world, to ensure Northern Ireland is a hostile environment for those who seek to make money by manufacturing, importing or distributing controlled drugs.”

http://www.portadowntimes.co.uk/news/local/tandragee-man-was-a-private-in-drug-gang-1-5038458

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kilkenny People

Piltown cannabis bust

Published on 26/04/2013 17:04

THREE Chinese men who pleaded guilty to their involvement in a massive drugs bust at Piltown eleven months ago were jailed for seven and half years, suspended for six years on condition they leave the country immediately and not return during their life-time.

The accused Guotai Lin (60), Lin Lin (41) and Chao Long He (36) of no fixed abode were sentenced by Judge Alice Doyle at Kilkenny Circuit Court on Tuesday last.

Assisted by an interpreter and described by Garda Thomas Gahan as being on the ‘lowest rung of the ladder in relation to this particular operation but caught in time’, the trio pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis for sale or supply and cultivation of cannabis in Kildalton, Piltown on May 2, 2012.

Smuggled into Ireland

They’ve been in custody since May 4 last year and were trafficked into the UK and then smuggled into Ireland using false ID papers.

The court heard they were effectively imprisoned in Piltown, their living conditions were basic but they knew they were dealing with cannabis.

Garda Gahan outlined that 43.5 kilogrammes of cannbis herb valued at €870,000 was seized along with 16 kilos in packages after members of the Garda National Drugs Unit and Gardai from Kilkenny Division and the Regional Support Unit raided the warehouse – two separate industrial units that had been merged – at 6.55pm on May 2 last.

However, media reports at the time estimated the street value of the cannabis find, some harvested and much of it still in pots, to be in the region of €3.5 million.

The two units had been rented out, unknown to the owners and to create optimum conditions for cultivation, the walls were knocked between the units, the roof was lowered, the ESB was bypassed and ventilation systems were installed.

While elaborate heat lamps and thermometers, nutrients and water barrells for feeding the plants, a vacuum packing machine and weighing scales were discovered.

Garda Gahan presented comprehensive photographic evidence of the warehouse and it showed separate areas where cannabis was being dried, two rooms where plants were at an advanced stage of growth and another where plants had flowered and were ready for cultivation.

Garda Gahan explained the three men were located inside and subsequently arrested. None of them had English and with the assistance of an interpreter they were interviewed four times over a period of two days at Kilkenny and Thomastown Garda Stations where they were co-operative and a plea was indicated at an early stage. A photograph of their living quarters was presented in evidence.

None of the three had previous convictions in this jurisdiction, but Lin Lin had a conviction for selling counterfeit DVD’s in England in 2001.

Garda Gahan said they were at the bottom rung of the ladder but when it was put to him by Senior Counsel Paddy McCarthy (representing Guotai Lin) they’d no home comforts living in the warehouse, he countered, “They also had phones and phone credit and a small amount of money was found. Their job was done and we caught them in time.”

Judge Doyle said it was a very serious case with a massive amount of drugs involved. “There was €870,000 of cannabis herb found but there was also a huge amount of uncultivated plants and they probably had a value of twice that figure or a lot more.”

She did take into account that the defendants spent a year in custody already and insisted it would of no benefit to the Irish state to keep them in prison. “They are vulnerable people and were not involved in drugs before and one has attempted serious self harm while in prison.”

Prosecuting barrister Brian O’Shea indicated the maximum prison sentence Judge Alice Doyle could impose was 14 years and she explained the suspension of their sentences only comes into effect when they are in a position to be deported.

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Irish Times Friday  Apr 26, 2013, 08:04

A man in his 30s will be charged this morning in relation to the discovery of a cannabis growhouse in Dublin.

Stolen vehicles and the facility were found by gardaí following the search of a business premises in Ballycoolin Industrial Estate on Wednesday.

He will appear before Blanchardstown District Court. A second arrested man in his 60s was released last night without charge. A file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/man-for-court-over-cannabis-find-1.1373672

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Irish Examiner- Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cannabis growhouse operation goes underground

A drug gang concealed a sophisticated cannabis growhouse in two 40ft containers which they buried under a mobile home in a remote part of Co Cork.

The gang accessed the containers through the floor of a mobile home near the village of Ballyvourney.

Gardaí say it is the first bunker-style growhouse of its type found. They described it as “very sophisticated”, with its own power and water supply.

Armed with a search warrant, members of the Cork West Divisional Drugs Unit, raided the growhouse shortly after 7pm last Tuesday.

They found about 150 plants in various stages of growth, which have an estimated street value of €100,000.

Three men, believed to be in their early to mid-30s and from Eastern Europe, were arrested.

Two were being detained at Bandon Garda Station and the third in Macroom Garda Station under section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act, 1996.

The growhouse was concealed under the mobile home in a woodland clearing at Derreenaling — about 3km south-west of Ballyvourney, near the Cork/Kerry border.

“This wasn’t done with a spade and shovel. Machinery had to be used to dig out the site for the containers,” said a senior Garda source.

He added it was the first underground growhouse of its type he had seen.

“We were used to mainstream republicans in the past and now dissident republicans using underground bunkers for hiding arms, training purposes, and hiding people. But we haven’t see this type of concealment with growhouses.”

Gardaí cordoned off the growhouse and yesterday morning started a full analysis of its contents. It is the second major growhouse seizure to occur on the Cork/Kerry border in past few days.

Last Thursday night, gardaí from Kanturk seized 204 cannabis plants in various stages of growth and about 1kg of processed cannabis worth in the region of €170,000.

The cannabis plants were found in sheds outside a family home near the village of Rathmore, Co Kerry.

A number of members of a family were in the house when gardaí raided it. There were no arrests at the time.

However, a Garda spokesman confirmed yesterday that a mother and son had since been arrested in connection with that investigation. “They were released without charge and a file is to be prepared for the DPP.”

Meanwhile, in an unrelated drugs seizure, gardaí arrested two men in their 40s following the discovery of cocaine, cannabis resin and cannabis herb worth €20,000 on the northside of Cork City.

Elsewhere, gardaí last night arrested two men, seized a number of stolen vehicles, and uncovered a cannabis growing facility in Ballycoolin, Dublin. The cannabis was worth about €125,000.

via Cannabis growhouse operation goes underground | Irish Examiner.

============================================================

Irish Examiner Thursday, April 25, 2013

Builder grew cannabis after losing business

A builder who lost his job after 25 years resorted to growing cannabis at his home because he could see no other way out of his financial problems.

Eamon Hourihan, aged 52, yesterday pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis at Templeboden, Ballincurrig, Leamlara, Co Cork, on May 17, 2011, and having the drug for sale or supply.

Garda Kieran Glynn testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday that Hourihan had not made any money out of growing cannabis but its potential street value when he was caught two years ago amounted to €82,000.

Hourihan, who now lives in Monkstown, faced the possibility of a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 years because of the quantity of drugs.

However, Judge Patrick J Moran imposed a sentence of five years suspended.

The judge said: “There have been a number of testimonials handed in and they all speak well of you. You set up your own business which unfortunately collapsed in the current economic climate.

“You have managed to get some employment and are now working on a part-time basis.

“The activity you were involved in is a very easy way of making money of the wrong kind. You obviously thought about this and decided to use this farmhouse and adapted it. You did this with considerable intent and that makes the matter particularly serious.

“However, having said that, Garda Glynn tells me you did not make any profit out of it. Once he appeared with his search warrant you would appear to have pulled yourself together and made that the end of your drug road. I don’t think that sending you to prison would be of any benefit to society.”

Garda Glynn obtained a search warrant on foot of confidential information that cannabis was being grown at the remote farmhouse.

“At 2.30pm on May 17, 2011, I entered the house to conduct a search. Eamon Hourihan was present. The house had been transformed for the growth of cannabis. There were 108 mature plants and 100 saplings.”

James O’Mahony, defending, handed in correspondence that he said contained glowing character references for the accused.

“This whole event has devastated this family. He has done everything he possibly can to rehabilitate himself. He is an exceptional person with an exceptional past.”

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/builder-grew-cannabis-after-losing-business-229350.html

=============================================================

Irish Examiner

Two held after Lucan cannabis seizure

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 – 10:33 AM

Detectives have seized drugs with an estimated street value of €400,000.

A man and a woman arrested during the operation in Lucan, west Dublin, are being questioned about the cannabis find.

The haul was uncovered in a raid on a house in the Hillcrest Heights area last night.
The cannabis herb has been sent for forensic analysis.

A man in his late 20s and a woman in her early 20s were arrested at the scene.

They are being detained at Ronanstown and Lucan Garda Stations under the Drug Trafficking Act.
The arrests were made as part of an ongoing investigation into the sale and supply of controlled drugs in Dublin.

The operation was carried out by the Lucan Drugs Unit and Garda National Drugs Unit.

A Garda spokesman said: “Investigations are ongoing.”

http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/two-held-after-lucan-cannabis-seizure-592205.html

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==========================================

Irish Independent 20th April

Cannabis worth €2.5m seized in Galway

Gardai arrested a 53-year-old man and 43-year-old woman
Gardai arrested a 53-year-old man and 43-year-old woman

GARDAI in the Tuam area of Galway have seized cannabis plants worth an estimated €2.5m.

Two men in their mid 40s and early 50s are being detained in Mill Street Garda station Galway way Garda station(Mill Street) under the provisions of Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996.

This is the second seizure in the last 48 hours, with €1.5 million worth of cannabis herb seized from a business premises in Kells, Co Meath earlier. Two people, a man and a woman, were arrested in that operation.

The seizures were part of the Garda on ongoing investigations into the sale and supply of drugs in the west of Ireland, and under the auspices of Operation Nitrogen targeting cannabis growing operations.

Gardai say the latest seizure in Tuam included 3,000 plants at various stages of growth and that drug growing paraphernalia was seized during the operation.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/cannabis-worth-25m-seized-in-galway-29209850.html

Irish Catholics flee the church


Clergy sex abuse revelations and a more secular climate have created a stigma against attending Mass.

BELFAST, Northern IrelandMalachi O’Doherty says his nieces and nephews are helpless at funerals.

Raised without religion, they are flummoxed by the practices and customs that accompany a Catholic ritual. Though he himself left the church as a teenager in the 1960s, he’s ambivalent about the loss of a binding and, at times, beautiful religious culture.

“People are rejecting something they don’t even remember,” said O’Doherty, whose 2008 book “Empty Pulpits: Ireland’s Retreat from Religion” chronicled the impact of secularization on Ireland. “We may have only a sterile, secular culture that looks at the Catholic Church as an army of priests raping children.”

As Pope Francis takes over the global church, O’Doherty, like many church-watchers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, ascribe the religion’s current troubles to secularization. In 1946, Pope Paul VI called Ireland “the most Catholic country,” but starting in the mid-1960s, a growing number of the Irish — like many in Western Europe and the United States — began questioning the authority of religious institutions. Today, the percentage of Irish practitioners remains high compared with most of the rest of Europe.

But attendance at weekly Mass continues to decline, also reflecting fallout from two decades of revelations about clergy sexual abuse. William Crawley, a BBC journalist who covers religion in Belfast, agreed that secularization and the sex abuse crisis have dealt a one-two punch to the faithful.

“People are rejecting something they don’t even remember.”

~Malachi O’Doherty

“There’s no stigma in not going to church,” said Crawley, who is an ordained Presbyterian minister. ”In fact there’s a stigma to going. Parents need to explain why they are sending their children to church.”

Although Catholicism is declining in both the north and the south, the situation is different in each country. The south is 84 percent Catholic, while the north is 48 percent. In both places, however, the number of those practicing their faith is significantly lower than those who just check the census box. According to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, in 1984, nearly 90 percent of Irish Catholics went to weekly Mass. In 2011, only 18 percent did. Numbers in the north are harder to come by. Rev. Edward McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Down and Connor, where Belfast is located, said his jurisdiction has no longitudinal surveys on membership or attendance.

That may be why northerners like McGee say the church merely faces challenges, while southerners tend to call the current situation a “crisis.”

“Northern Catholics were a persecuted people, those in the south were more like landed gentry,” said Rev. Gary Toman, Catholic chaplain at Queens University. “There is a very different experience of being [part of the] church in the north. We came through a difficult time during the Troubles and were grounded in the community.”

The Troubles, which started in the 1960s and ended in the “Good Friday” agreement of 1998, was a period of ethnic and religious violence between Protestants and Catholics. According to O’Doherty, years of fighting helped make Catholicism as much an ethnic and political identity as a religious one.

“Leaving your church had the same connotation as leaving your community,” he said.

Another reason for the church’s relative strength in the north may be that neither the northern dioceses nor the local government have thoroughly investigated clergy sexual abuse.

A series of church-based and government investigations in the south revealed widespread abuse of children as well as illicit heterosexual relationships extending over the last quarter of 20th century. Compounding the problem, offending priests had been reassigned by bishops, seeking to cover up or ignore problems.

The revelations were particularly painful for a population that revered priests and saw the church as its social bedrock. In 2010, Pope Benedict apologized to the Irish Church, admitting there had been “serious mistakes.” But victims’ groups felt the statement did not go far enough in accepting responsibility or positing change.

Adding insult to injury, the church may ask parishioners to help pay settlements for abuse victims. The estimated cost of claims is 1.36 billion euros (about $1.75 billion). Since the Catholic Church is a state institution in Ireland, the government is expected to pay part of the bill, but wants religious orders and the dioceses to help.

Still, an ongoing economic slump as well as dwindling numbers of worshippers have made collecting donations difficult. In 2011, a leaked document suggested fining local parishes to help pay costs.

The church, which is the biggest property owner in the south, has been slow to turn over real estate to be sold for compensation. As of last year, a third of the buildings promised in 2002 have yet to be handed over to the state. Some of the buildings may be held in trust and unable to be transferred; others are protected by an indemnity agreement that in 2002 capped the amounts owed by 18 religious orders.

Anger over the handling of the abuse crisis has fueled calls by reformers for a more democratic church. According to Rev. Sean McDonagh, head of the Association for Catholic Priests, the clergy now needs to catch up with laity — the legion of faithful.

“The laity is way ahead of the bishops in terms of the ordination of gays and women,” said McDonagh, referring to two issues that many reformers consider basic. “I’d like to see the church as a communion of equals. The question is: How do we get there?”

via Irish Catholics flee the church – Salon.com.

via Irish Catholics flee the church – Salon.com.

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