Tuesday, 29 December 2009

INTRODUCING Dan ÓNéill AKA ODD BODKINS #8

Dan has granted Soñar permission to publish his ODD BODKINS cartoon strip.

ODD BODKINS ON Soñar. Vol. I No. 8



Select Image for Larger Viewing

Hugh Daniel ÓNéill.

© Dan ONeill

Thirty years ago Hugh Daniel ÓNéill was described as, “an innovator, a creator and a professional troublemaker” in a foreword to a collection of Odd Bodkins. For seven years his Odd Bodkins cartoons ran daily in The San Francisco Chronicle and in 350 other newspapers throughout the world. At its peak, the strip had a readership of fifty million. When he was hired at age 21 —the youngest cartoonist ever hired by a national syndicate— he was given three simple rules: no religion, no politics and no sex in the strip. He did his best to comply — he kept sex out of Odd Bodkins.

For further information on ÓNéill.
http://www.danoneillcomics.com/
http://origsix.com/index.asp

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Nollaig Shona Duit

Wishing All My Friends
Nollaig Shona Duit
From the Centre of The Universe



ÓNéill

Monday, 14 December 2009

Irish National Caucus, 35 Years and Still Going

'Isn’t it very striking? The elected officials who led the campaign to end anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland were not Irish- Americans, but Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Hispanic Americans and others! To me, that is the great moral lesson of the Mac Bride Campaign.'


Fr. Seán McManus and Pat Doherty
© Fr. Seán McManus

Fr. Mc Manus is the president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus. In November 1984, the Irish National Caucus launched the Principles -- named after Fr. Mc Manus’s good friend and supporter -- Seán Mc Bride, Noble Peace Prize laureate.

Last Tuesday, December 8, Fr. Seán McManus was honoured in the famed City Hall of New York for his work on the MacBride Principles.
The Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, hosted the event. Fr. Mc Manus’s good friend and colleague in the struggle for the Mac Bride Principles, Pat Doherty was also honored.
Doherty has worked for all the NY City Comptrollers since 1984.
Below is Fr. Mc Manus’s acceptance speech.
In 1795 Thomas Paine wrote: “An Army of Principles Will Penetrate Where an Army of Soldiers Cannot” (Agrarian Justice. Pamphlet written in 1795, published in 1797).
I think that perfectly applies to the Mac Bride Principles. The Principles penetrated the previously UNPENETRATABLE bastion of anti-Catholic discrimination -- the Northern Ireland State.
In the early years of our campaign, our opponents used to tell us to mind our own business – they clearly did not subscribe to Martin Luther King’s dictum: “ Injustice anywhere is an affront to justice everywhere”. But when our campaign began to take effect, they stopped telling us to mind our own business – because when Americans make sure that U.S. dollars are not subsidizing anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland, they are minding their own business.
It is generally accepted that Martin Luther King’s movement would not have succeeded without Jewish-American support. And the Mac Bride Principles would not have succeeded without Jewish-American support.
Just look at the record:
In July 1979, Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY commissioned the Irish National Caucus to conduct an investigation of the U.S. companies in Northern Ireland.
We then planned to have our principle, “United States dollars should not subsidize anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland”, enshrined into law. In 1983, Congressman Dick Ottinger introduced Bill HR 3465: “Requiring United States persons who conduct business or control enterprises in Northern Ireland to comply with certain fair employment principles.” We had, of course, modeled the Ottinger Bill on the Sullivan Principles.
Our activity got a lot of attention and soon many State and City officials who wanted to join our campaign contacted us: most notably, New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin and Council Member Sal Albanese (who introduced the very first Mac Bride Bill in the entire United States).
Comptroller Goldin went on to provide magnificent support and economic muscle for the Mac Bride Principles until he left office in 1989. His successors, Liz Holtzman (1990- 1993) and Alan Hevesi (1994-2001), continued to provide indispensable support for the Mac Bride Principles.
My dear friend, Congressman Ben Gilman, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, championed our campaign in the Congress and the Mac Bride Principles (despite very powerful opposition) became US law in 1998.
So you can easily see the importance of Jewish-American support.
Since 2002, Comptroller Thompson has provided magnificent leadership on the Mac Bride Principles. And here, again, is something that has touched me deeply: the support of African-Americans, who know a thing or two about discrimination. Along with Comptroller Thompson, the other names that immediately come to mind are Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, one of our very earliest supporters, and Congressman Don Payne of New Jersey.
I have already mentioned Sal Albanese and the key role he played in our campaign. But one cannot mention American activity on behalf of Ireland without mentioning that other great Italian, Congressman Mario Biaggi, who for many ears was our key ally in Congress.
Isn’t it very striking? The elected officials who led the campaign to end anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland were not Irish- Americans, but Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Hispanic Americans and others! To me, that is the great moral lesson of the Mac Bride Campaign.
God bless America and God save Ireland.
Fr. McManus has written a history of the MacBride Principles campaign:
The MacBride Principles:
Genesis and History
and
The Story to Date
THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF THE MACBRIDE PRINCIPLES
The first book to tell the complete story of the MacBride Principles Campaign. 136 pages packed with vitally important details and 24 photos which help to document the story from 1978 to the present.
Available from:
Irish National Caucus
Capitol Hill
PO BOX 15128
Washington, DC 20003-0849
Tel. 202-544-0568
Fax 202-488-7537
sean@irishnationalcaucus.org
To order, send with your check payable to Irish National Caucus. Cost is $10.00 plus $1.24 for shipping and handling per book.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Fianna Fáil – the new, and the the not so new

Guest Blogger Cllr. Ian Parsley
Cllr Ian James Parsley, born in 1977, joined the Alliance Party in 2002, was elected to North Down Borough Council in 2005, and served as Deputy Mayor from 2008-9. He was the Alliance Party's candidate at the European Election for the Northern Ireland region, attaining the party's best result for 30 years.
In September this year Cllr Parsley resigned from the Alliance party to join the Conservative Party.
He will spend the next year working with the Centre for Social Justice delivering a "Breakthrough Belfast" report as part of the think tank's "Breakthrough Britain" series.
"Electorally, Fianna Fáil will also provide a welcome democratic alternative to Sinn Féin in those (primarily rural, border) areas where the SDLP is now all but absent."
Fianna Fáil – the new, and the the not so new
Much has been made of the potential for Fianna Fáil to enter representative politics in Northern Ireland after it was revealed independent MLA Gerry McHugh had joined the party.
My own instinct is to welcome the move. Regional politics in Northern Ireland has already grown stale, with parties used to managing peace processes but unused to managing government departments. The introduction of a party with the resources to expand and experience of government can only be a good thing in that context. Electorally, Fianna Fáil will also provide a welcome democratic alternative to Sinn Féin in those (primarily rural, border) areas where the SDLP is now all but absent.
However, all is not so new. Fianna Fáil does not offer a route away from identity-based politics to ideology-based politics, as it itself is based within an identity-based system south of the border; nor does it offer a route towards influence on the key issues of taxation, security or welfare reform because it has no say in politics at the relevant level. In short, even if it does cause an earthquake within one of the designations in Northern Ireland, Fianna Fáil’s involvement will not move us away from politics along sectarian lines.
As for Gerry McHugh himself, it is widely known in Fermanagh that he left Sinn Féin for reasons apart from Republican ideology. The stated reason, that he had in fact rejected his then party’s stance on policing, needs to be reversed immediately whatever he claims about his exact party status, or Fianna Fáil may face a false start.
For all that initial confusion, this does ultimately make the question to the SDLP leadership candidates all the more pressing: namely, what is the SDLP for? I have yet to hear either answer that other than by reference to the past. If this continues, they may have no future.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

SDLP Leadership - What is That?

Guest Blogger Martin Morgan




Editor's Note.

This article was submitted before the the announcement that the current independent, and former Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Gerry McHugh, announced that he had joined Fianna Fáil. The announcement came after a Fianna Fáil support group in Fermanagh was formally established this past weekend. Fianna Fáil support groups now exist in counties Armagh, Down, and Fermanagh. Membership in the party in the previously unorganised six northern counties is believed to be around 500 with counties Antrim, Derry, and Tyrone, expected to launch by early next year.

"Fianna Fáil offers what both the SDLP and Sinn Féin cannot; it could produce Stormont Ministers and has had Dail Ministers for more than fifty five years of the eighty eight years since partition occurred. Add this together and you could see the creation of the most potent All-Ireland political movement in the island’s history."

Martin Morgan is a former SDLP Lord Mayor of Belfast (2003-2004) and former SDLP Councilor for the Oldpark constituency in north Belfast ( Ardoyne, Waterworks, New Lodge, Cliftonville, Ligoniel wards) which he served for 12 years and was a European Parliamentary candidate in 2004.

A double graduate of the Queen's University of Belfast, he is a Social Worker by profession, Martin left the SDLP in 2005 to progress his professional career. Since then Martin has maintained a strong interest in the organisation of Fianna Fáil as a 32-county political entity. He believes that Fianna Fáil is the only political party on the island of Ireland that has the ability to fully promote the well being of all of the people who live on the island.

Maintaining a strong interest in politics across Ireland especially in his home town of Belfast, Martin is of the view that the current political representation afforded to the people of north Belfast is inadequate, outdated and out of touch and requires replacing.

SDLP Leadership – What is that?

Mark Durkan’s stepping down as the leader of the soft Nationalist SDLP has come as no surprise to me. Durkan was Hume’s left hand man in Derry before becoming the SDLP leader and throughout his stewardship of the Party he was dogged by those who believed that being an able Lieutenant to a former leader was his strongest and most able position in the Party. He is a decent person and was an alright steward, but he was not a leader in its truest sense at a time when the SDLP was losing its direction, requiring a strong and confident hand at the wheel, rather than bowing to the inevitable “I am clever than you” abstract sound bite, which left most of us bewildered.

Since Durkan’s announcement Alasdair Mc Donnell and Margaret Ritchie have declared their intentions to replace him. Others in the Party would have aspired to declare openly their ambition to enter the race. Some of these individuals were clearly delusional having overseen their own electoral demise in their respective home constituencies and their failure to strengthen an eroding electoral base. Their vanity by far outweighed their grasp of reality. At least some members of the SDLP had the sense to counsel them against contesting a race that at best had only three serious contenders and at worst two, the third potential candidate being John Dallat from the East Derry area, who would not enter the race even though he narrowly lost out to Mc Donnell for the Deputy Leadership.

Both Mc Donnell and Ritchie are reasonably well-profiled politicians and in the eyes of the electorate Ritchie in particular has handled her Ministerial portfolio well. However, in my opinion, neither Ritchie nor Mc Donnell can turn the tide of fortune back in the direction of the SDLP.

The reasons;

Firstly neither are charismatic characters, commanding the attention of the Party or the electorate.

Secondly we should not be fooled by the “just good enough” election results of the past five years. The results were just good enough for the Party to avoid collapsing, but not anyway nearly good enough to begin to think that the SDLP was returning to former strengths and glories.

Thirdly even though they topped the European poll in the north Sinn Fein has probably peeked at a time when the SDLP’s life support system coughs and splutters along the same as before. The soothsayers of the SDLP always held out hope against hope that the demise of the Sinn Féin experiment would see again the rise of the SDLP. That has not happened. The SDLP’s old boast of being a “broad church” has ultimately obstructed the Republicanism that lies deep within elements of the Party in favour of a significant number of “latte sipping” come lately representatives ( where were they before the ceasefires?) who want status, status and status. This in turn fed into the Sinn Féin machine that eventually decimated the SDLP.

Fourthly a new powerful, mature and experienced political force in northern politics is rising rapidly in the form of Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil is now organising across the six counties and has recently opened a political surgery in Crossmaglen. Early indicators show a groundswell of goodwill, support and new members for the 32 - county Party, including strong overtures being made by some elected representatives and members of the SDLP to join Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil offers what both the SDLP and Sinn Féin cannot; it could produce Stormont Ministers and has had Dail Ministers for more than fifty five years of the eighty eight years since partition occurred. Add this together and you could see the creation of the most potent All-Ireland political movement in the island’s history.

All of this added together is just too much of a challenge for whoever the new leader of the SDLP will be thus sealing the SDLP’s fate.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

INTRODUCING Dan ÓNéill AKA ODD BODKINS #7


Dan has granted Soñar permission to publish his ODD BODKINS cartoon strip.

ODD BODKINS ON Soñar. Vol. I No. 7


Select Image for Larger Viewing

Hugh Daniel ÓNéill.

© Dan ONeill
Thirty years ago Hugh Daniel ÓNéill was described as, “an innovator, a creator and a professional troublemaker” in a foreword to a collection of Odd Bodkins. For seven years his Odd Bodkins cartoons ran daily in The San Francisco Chronicle and in 350 other newspapers throughout the world. At its peak, the strip had a readership of fifty million. When he was hired at age 21 —the youngest cartoonist ever hired by a national syndicate— he was given three simple rules: no religion, no politics and no sex in the strip. He did his best to comply — he kept sex out of Odd Bodkins.
For further information on ÓNéill.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Tales of Ballydrum Etc.

Guest Blogger Mattie Lennon
Mattie Lennon has written articles (mostly humourous) for The Sunday Independent, The Irish Times, The Irish Post, Ireland's Own, Ireland's Eye, Kerry's Eye, The Wicklow People, The Leinster Leader as well as numerous on-line publications. He claims that he was once told; 'You have the perfect face for radio' and he compiled and presented his own programmes in the 'Voiceover' series on RTE Radio One. He has presented ballad programmes on KIC FM and is currently doing a Sunday morning ballad show on Radio Dublin 100 FM.
John Edward Henry (1904-1986) was a native of Ballydrum, Swinford, County Mayo. He emigrated to the USA in his mid- twenties and spent a number of years in Chicago before returning to Mayo in 1931. When he came back, he married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret Salmon and took over the running of his family farm in Ballydrum.
He also worked with Mayo County Council as a supervisor on road and bridge construction for a number of years. The nature of his work meant that he was often absent from home from Monday morning to Friday night for weeks on end. It was during those periods of enforced absence from home and family, that he gathered much of the stories and anecdotes that would later form the basis of his folktale collection.
He used to invite older members of the community to chat with him about the customs and habits of their own times and those of previous generations, which he felt were in danger of being discarded in the name of progress. Very few others of his time felt the same desire to record and preserve for posterity the folk heritage of previous generation that was in danger of being lost forever but this did not deter him in the slightest.
John Henry or 'Sean' as he was also known left a collection of stories about everything from 'Barnala Wood' to 'Bellmen.' Whether it’s an account of the 'Big Wind' or a Connaught person’s take on 'Ninety-Eight' the true storyteller is evident.
When Sean was a young lad a certain 'Knight-of-the-road', who was better dressed and seemed to be on a slightly higher mental plain than the average tramp, used visit the area. He was known as “the Toff” and when he told a story young Henry hung on every word and would, decades later, commit it to paper.
' . . . In my great grandfather’s time,' said The Toff, 'there were little few glass windows to be found except in the Big Houses, and churches and with some well off people here and there. Among the poorer people, there were various excuses for windows. In some houses, long, narrow openings in the walls served for windows. It was narrower on the inside than the outside and a board was fitted on the outside at night or in bad weather. In some cases, a mare’s placenta or a sheepskin with all the wool and fat removed was stretched across the ‘window.’
These allowed a dull light to get through but were far from being as satisfactory as glass. A good many dwellings then were only ‘bohauns’ or mud huts; they had no light except what came in over the half door.'
'My great grandfather was known locally as Mairtín Bradach. (Mischievous Martin) He went to Sligo on one occasion and brought back a pane of glass. He was so careful of the glass that he carried it all the way home on his back in a sack that was well-padded with rags and paper. He never once sat down on his journey of 22 miles. With the help of a local handyman, he fitted the glass to a wooden frame and installed it with the proud boast that it was the first glass window ever to come to the village of Cruck.'
The Toff went on to add that his great grandfather had a well-known habit of turning things around when he spoke. So, when a neighbour who came across him while fitting the window, asked him what he was dong, he received an unexpected answer. 'I’m tying to let out the dark,' my great grandfather is said to have replied.
'Letting out the dark, as Mairtín Bradach said,' became a popular saying in the locality afterwards.
When the window had been fitted, some of the neighbours felt it that a celebration known as a ball was called for. Accordingly, a small money collection was held and Mairtín donated the food and the music, he being a player on the fife or wooden flute. During the ball, Mairtín saw a neighbour to whom he had not spoken to for some years, peeping in through the new window. There were two lighted candles, one on each side of the window, and he had no trouble recognising the ‘gobadán’ (curlew) as this man was known locally. He had a very long nose, which earned him his title. After making up his mind, Mairtín moved quietly to the back door and picked up the hardest sod of turf he could find. Moving stealthily, he waited until he got beside the window. He waited until the gobadán had his long nose right up to the window. Then he let fly catching his opponent full on the nose and of course breaking the window in the process.
Sean amassed a considerable pile of wire bound notebooks and jotters as he went about his labour of love and in later years he used those notes to write his folktales.
A number of those stories were published in book form by the Mercier Press (Cork) in the late seventies under the title of “Tales from the West of Ireland.” This book was re-issued in 2000 and both editions were quickly sold out.
He contributed to a number of periodicals and magazines and for a long number of years he wrote articles on contemporary Irish social and economic affairs for an American travel company’s newsletter. “Mayo Folktales” is a collection of his stories that have been published in digital from by his son, Eamonn.
There is a total of 54 articles in this collection and it had been arranged in two volumes for distribution purposes. Both volumes are available on CD-ROM as well as in PDF format for direct downloading from the site; http://mayotales.com/
The CD versions are designed to run on all Windows operating systems from Win 98 SE onwards and as PDF is a cross-platform format, those files are compatible with all common computer platforms and are not limited to Windows’ users only.
Full details may be had from http://mayotales.com/ The CD's cost €10 each or €15 for both excluding postage costs. The PDF documents are priced at €7 each or €12 for both.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Northern Ireland Executive condemned by Irish Congress of Trade Unions


We have in this region an Executive which is

no longer fit for purpose.'

© Joe ÓNéill 2009

Despite heavy rainfall, hundreds of trade union members marched from job sites to protest rallies in cities and towns in Northern Ireland yesterday, to protest looming cuts in public sector jobs.

Rallies organised by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions were held in Belfast, Derry, Omagh, Enniskillen, Coleraine, Craigavon, Armagh, Ballymena, Magherafelt, and Newry as thousands also protested in the south of Ireland.

The NICICTU called on the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to make the defense of public services and protection and creation of jobs in the private and public sectors an urgent priority.

Peter Bunting, ICTU Assistant General Secretary told the Belfast rally: 'We need to cherish our public servants because they are the backbone of the real economy, not small businesses, not multinationals and certainly not the top bankers. In a recession like this, the only source of demand in the economy is coming from the public sector.'

Despite the criticism, several elected representatives attended the rally including; Minister for Health Social Services and Public Safety, Michael McGimpsey, MLAs Alex Maskey, and Sue Ramsey.

The full speech is reproduced below.

Fellow workers, friends and comrades.

We are here today to expose bloat, waste and time-serving at the heart of the public sector.

I am talking about, of course, the people who rule us, who write the laws, frame the budget, those who serve in the Assembly and in Westminster . The people we elect who have fiddled while the economy burns, - just as some may have been fiddling their expenses.

The public is being short changed and it is time for payback.

We have in this region an Executive which is no longer fit for purpose.

They squabble over the devolution of policing and justice.

They prevaricate over education.

They cannot agree on a Bill of Rights.

They have no clear shared method to tackle sectarianism and racism.

At the same time, they act as if the out dated Programme for Government reflects reality. To which we must ask: What colour is the sky over Stormont?

The Programme for Government talked of creating six-and-a-half thousand new jobs, - with some even above the minimum wage. Meanwhile in the place where the skies are Grey and the outlook always overcast, almost 50,000 jobs have gone in the past year.

53,000 people are unemployed and another 300,000 are cast aside in the ranks of the economically inactive.

The construction industry has been demolished, the retail sector is in a permanent closing down sale and manufacturing is covered in rust.

Where are the drastic actions being taken?

Where is the sense of crisis?

What is to be done?

Why is this economic crisis not the number one priority?

Why does it matter so damn much about the names of sports grounds?

Politics is about power. Power is about exercising choices. The choices made by the Executive and the Assembly have been misplaced.

Get with a new programme. One which places at the centre of our politics the daily lives of its citizens. We need more jobs. We need a vibrant private sector. We need more start-ups and we need to create more research and development.

We need to keep our graduates at home. We need to capitalise upon the creativity and humour and intelligence of our young and the experience and training of our older workers.

We need to understand that the best solution to poverty and social exclusion is work. Work in well-paid, humanely rewarding and unionised careers.

We have problems that need to be fixed. Our physical and social infrastructure is not remotely up to scratch.

We need to embrace the creative thinking behind a Green New Deal which sustains and nourishes more than our fragile environment. We need to re-think who our economy is supposed to serve.

We need to re-order our priorities. We need to think bigger than call-centres paying the minimum wage to graduates who can only meet the pressures of a consumer society through credit which is no longer cheap or available.

We need to challenge the consensus that cuts are inevitable in our public services because we just have to keep the bankers in the luxury and bonuses to which they have become accustomed.

We need to cherish our public servants because they are the backbone of the real economy, not small businesses, not multinationals and certainly not the top bankers.

In a recession like this, the only source of demand in the economy is coming from the public sector. We hear much about how well-paid the public sector is, compared to the private sector.

First, tell that to a cleaner, or a classroom assistant or a nurse, or a dole clerk.

Second, the real pay gap is not between the private sector and the public sector in Northern Ireland . The real pay gap is the 20% difference between private sector workers here and private sector workers across the water. That is the real pay gap to contend with.

And yet Northern Ireland is sold to foreign investors by Invest Northern Ireland for its cheap labour. And we are supposed to be grateful for that.

If low wages created jobs we would not have 350,000 of our citizens unemployed or economically inactive. Low wages create poverty.

There is a third important point about the public sector you won’t hear about too often from our political classes or read about from the experts in the business press. The public sector spends more money on supporting the private sector than it does on paying public servants.

All the suppliers, who depend on contracts to the schools and public offices,

the service providers to the police and the health service,

the builders of roads and museums,

the profiteers of the Private Finance Initiative,

even the consultants so beloved by Northern Ireland Water,

they take a bigger slice of the public budget than the health workers and the firefighters and the police officers and the social workers and the teachers and the university scientists and all the other public servants put together.

So when you hear the common and cheap mantra from the CBI and the IOD and the usual suspects in the Belfast Telegraph and UTV and the Assembly about making the public sector more lean and mean, what you are hearing is the self-appointed cheerleaders for the private sector cutting off their nose to spite their own face. People operating out of self interest, not in the public interest.

That is what I mean about the public sector as the backbone of our economy. Other speakers here today can make clearer than I, the huge social impact which public service workers make to the daily lives of all of us.

We should be grateful for that, of course, and show that gratitude and respect to every public servant we meet on a daily basis, from the bus driver, to the care assistant, to the traffic attendant to the postal worker.

Especially today, the postal workers of the Communications Workers Union who are making huge sacrifices to keep a universal postal service publicly owned and answerable to the people, not to some Chief Executive Officer who demands a salary of £1 million and yet refuses to meet his workers.

The message I am trying to get across to those who disparage the public sector is its vital role in keeping Northern Ireland afloat now, in this recession, just as they did in the darkest years of our recent past.

Any so-called economist or business expert, or any of their cheerleaders in the press or the Assembly who cannot see that bigger picture is not up to their job. If we must make cuts in employment, maybe we could start with them.

This meeting is as important as when we were here last March, after the murders in Masserene and Craigavon. Then, we were here to defend our democracy.

Now, we are demanding that the democracy we defended does its bit for our economy and our shared society.

Last April, we were here again to defend the workers at Visteon and Nortel and Shorts who were facing job losses in the private sector. We are here today and still sending the same message.

What unites workers is their common humanity, - we do not recognise false distinctions between workers in the public or the private sector.

Support the public sector.

Support decent jobs and pensions for all workers.

Challenge those who make ignorant assumptions about what makes an economy efficient.

Oppose those who try to plant a wedge between private sector workers and public sector workers.

Build an alternative vision for a Northern Ireland which is fit for purpose, for all of its inhabitants.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

INTRODUCING Dan ÓNéill AKA ODD BODKINS #6

Dan has granted Soñar permission to publish his ODD BODKINS cartoon strip.

ODD BODKINS ON Soñar. Vol. I No. 6










Select Image for Larger Viewing

Hugh Daniel ÓNéill.

Thirty years ago Hugh Daniel ÓNéill was described as, “an innovator, a creator and a professional troublemaker” in a foreword to a collection of Odd Bodkins. For seven years his Odd Bodkins cartoons ran daily in The San Francisco Chronicle and in 350 other newspapers throughout the world. At its peak, the strip had a readership of fifty million. When he was hired at age 21 —the youngest cartoonist ever hired by a national syndicate— he was given three simple rules: no religion, no politics and no sex in the strip. He did his best to comply — he kept sex out of Odd Bodkins.

For further information on ÓNéill.
http://www.danoneillcomics.com/
http://origsix.com/index.asp

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Chomsky - Scargill speak at Belfast Venues

Trick or Treat?


© Joe ÓNéill 2009
(L-R) Moderator Professor Bill Rolston and Professor Noam Chomsky

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Michael Doherty (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) welcomes Arthur Scargill to Belfast

If you consider yourself a supporter of the political 'Establishment' you might say it was 'Trick.' If you are of a more non-conformist, or a rebellious nature, you would definitely say 'Treat', to two events hosted in Belfast this Halloween weekend.

On Friday night, Professor Noam Chomsky, and former President of the National Union of Mineworkers, Arthur Scargill, addressed audiences at separate locations in Belfast.

Chomsky, a longtime critic of American foreign policy, was the speaker at the sold-out Amnesty International Annual Lecture at Queens University, as part of the Belfast Festival at Queens. The following day, he spoke gratis, at St. Mary's College West Belfast, hosted by Féile an Phobail's Festival of the People. Overflow seating for over 200 people had to be arranged in an upstairs room with video and audio facilities, as the main auditorium which holds over 300 people quickly filled to capacity.

Scargill, who led the NUM in the 1984-85 strike which ended in defeat for the union, spoke at the Belfast office of the UNITE union. He retired from the NUM Presidency in 2001, and was elected Honorary President in 2002. He is currently Leader of the Socialist Labour Party which he founded in 1996.

Noam Chomsky
'Alongside his career as a linguist, Chomsky has been active in left-wing politics. In 1965 he organized a citizen's committee to publicize tax refusal in protest to the war in Vietnam; four years later he published his first book on politics American Power and the New Mandarins. By the 1980's he had become both the most distinguished figure of American linguistics and one of the most influential left-wing critics of American foreign policy. He has been extremely prolific as a writer: his web-site in 2003 listed 33 book publications in linguistics (broadly construed), and although the individuation of his political books is complicated, their number definitely exceeds 40. According to a 1992 tabulation of sources from the previous 12 years in the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Chomsky was the most frequently-cited person alive, and one of the eight most frequently-cited authors of all time.'
Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, 1860-1960, Bristol, 2004

'I don't say you're self-censoring - I'm sure you believe everything you're saying; but what I'm saying is, if you believed something different, you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting.'
Chomsky interviewed by Andrew Marr on BBC2, February 14, 1996.


Arthur Scargill
'We need action not words. For the first time we are facing the prospect of seeing legislation introduced which denies the right of trade unionists to come to the assistance of other unionists and denies the right of trade unionists to seek the support of others in their disputes. There is only one response. Faced with this legislation we should say we will defy the law. It is the only action we can take and it is the only response this movement can give. If there is an attempt to use this legislation then you defy it not as an individual union but as a movement.'
Speech to the Trades Union Congress at Brighton on the Employment Act 1982. (7 September, 1982).

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Massacre in Glasgow North East?

As we enter this Halloween season, and British Members of Parliament continue to struggle to redeem public confidence in the institutions of government brought about by the 'MPs Expenses Scandal', the ghoulish scepter of the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, will once again haunt the political landscape and cause nightmares at Labour Party Headquarters.

Speaker Martin, who handled the initial stages of the scandal so badly that he was forced to resign on June 21, also resigned as a Member of Parliament the following day.

The by-election for his vacant seat of Glasgow North East, will take place two weeks from today, on November 12. In the 2005 election, Martin won the seat for Labour in the newly created constituency, with a majority of 10,134 votes.

The nightmare for the Labour Party however is more likely to come from the Scottish National Party than the Conservatives. In all 59 Scottish constituencies, the Conservative Party hold only one seat, Dumfreisshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, where David Mundell has a 1,738 majority. The swing change required in this seat is 2%.

In the last by-election in Scotland on July 25 of this year, Labour suffered a humiliating defeat to the SNP in Glasgow East, losing the seat which they held in the 2005 election with a 13,507 majority. After a recount, the SNP candidate, John Mason, was elected with a majority of 365 votes, a 22.54% swing.

Running for the Labour Party in Glasgow North East will be William Bain, a law lecturer and Constituency Labour Party secretary.

His SNP opponent will be David Kerr, (35) a television journalist and active member of the Nationalist Union of Journalists. In a by-election in 2000 Kerr contested the Falkirk West seat where the Labour majority was reduced to 700, a 16% swing from Labour to the SNP.

It is tradition that a sitting Speaker is unchallenged, so the Conservative Party did not run a candidate against Martin in the 2005 election. Their candidate in this by-election is a 30 year-old local, Ruth Davidson, a journalist and former member of the Territorial Army.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

INTRODUCING Dan ÓNéill AKA ODD BODKINS #5

Dan has granted Soñar permission to publish his ODD BODKINS cartoon strip.

ODD BODKINS ON Soñar. Vol. I No. 5






Select Image for Larger Viewing


Hugh Daniel ÓNéill.


Thirty years ago Hugh Daniel ÓNéill was described as, “an innovator, a creator and a professional troublemaker” in a foreword to a collection of Odd Bodkins. For seven years his Odd Bodkins cartoons ran daily in The San Francisco Chronicle and in 350 other newspapers throughout the world. At its peak, the strip had a readership of fifty million. When he was hired at age 21 —the youngest cartoonist ever hired by a national syndicate— he was given three simple rules: no religion, no politics and no sex in the strip. He did his best to comply — he kept sex out of Odd Bodkins.


For further information on ÓNéill.


Friday, 23 October 2009

Elizabeth Windsor favours DHL over Royal Mail

Jack O'Connor (Centre with beard) President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
addresses striking postal workers in Belfast
© Joe ÓNéill 2009

Postal Workers at Belfast's main sorting office manned picket lines this morning, in the second day of a two day work stoppage, aimed at bringing pressure on their employer, Royal Mail, to enter negotiations to resolve workplace grievances.

The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have supported the stoppages. Irish Congress of Trade Unions Assistant General Secretary, Peter Bunting, stated:

“Given the seriousness of the situation, Congress urges Northern Ireland's elected representatives and all of the businesses affected by this dispute to call on Royal Mail management to engage in meaningful talks with the Communications Workers’ Union . A just and speedy resolution of this dispute is essential for all concerned. ”

“NIC-ICTU has consistently opposed bullying and harassment in all workplaces, and the stories which we have heard about conditions affecting Royal Mail workers are truly shocking.”

The Communication Workers Union have called for independent arbitration on the dispute but Royal Mail management have refused to enter negotiations until the union call off industrial action.

Joining the picket line this morning were the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, John Monks, Jack O'Connor, General President of SIPTU and President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and Peter Bunting.

DHL by Appointment to HM - The Queen
Belfast Docks Depot
© Joe ÓNéill 2009


Many mail order businesses and companies with Internet based sales, have made alternative and contingency arrangements for their mailing requirements in the run up to the Christmas season. One household that will have no problem with switching to an alternative carrier however will be Buckingham Palace. It appears that the Palace already contracts with DHL carriers for it's requirements.

DHL, founded in San Francisco is listed in the official Buckingham Palace site in the section under Royal Warrants as:
DHL Express (UK) Limited
Express Parcels Carrier
HM The Queen – Privy Purse

DHL is the world's leading express and logistics company offering customers innovative and customised solutions from single source. With global expertise in solutions, express, air and ocean, global mail, freight & overland transport, DHL combines worldwide coverage with an in depth understanding of local markets.

This little tit-bit I am sure would come as a surprise to many postal workers, who as taxpayers, help to contribute some £7.9 million per annum to what is called the Civil List, which covers the expenses of the Royal family. It would appear the Buckingham Palace does not take the 'Royal' in Royal Mail all that seriously.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

George Washington and the 'Special Relationship'

Facing odds that must have seemed insurmountable, with starvation, military and political defeat staring him in the face at Valley Forge, General George Washington learned a thing or two about how to hold a nation and an army together.

On the completion of two terms as President of the new Republic, Washington delivered a Farewell Address to his fellow citizens.

He outlined his motives for the address such:
'But a solicitude for your welfare which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.'

Included in the address was an interesting comment on what is now referred to as the 'Special Relationship.'

George Washington on the 'Special Relationship'

'So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.'

As quotes of American Presidents go, this has replaced my former favorite quote by another President who also learned a thing or two about adversity:

'Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.'

Jimmy Carter.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

INTRODUCING Dan ÓNéill AKA ODD BODKINS #4

Dan has granted Soñar permission to publish his ODD BODKINS cartoon strip.

ODD BODKINS ON Soñar. Vol. I No. 4





Select Image for Larger Viewing

Hugh Daniel ÓNéill.

Thirty years ago Hugh Daniel ÓNéill was described as, “an innovator, a creator and a professional troublemaker” in a foreword to a collection of Odd Bodkins. For seven years his Odd Bodkins cartoons ran daily in The San Francisco Chronicle and in 350 other newspapers throughout the world. At its peak, the strip had a readership of fifty million. When he was hired at age 21 —the youngest cartoonist ever hired by a national syndicate— he was given three simple rules: no religion, no politics and no sex in the strip. He did his best to comply — he kept sex out of Odd Bodkins.

For further information on ÓNéill.
http://www.danoneillcomics.com/
http://origsix.com/index.asp

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Celtic FC, Strikers, Scabs, and the SAS

A full house of Irish football fans packed Solitude Park, the home of Cliftonville Football Club, to witness a 3 – 0 victory of the north Belfast team over the powerful Glasgow Celtic yesterday evening. The friendly game between the two teams was organized in conjunction with the occasion of Cliftonville's 130 birthday celebrations.

As is normal in these friendly matches, Celtic did not select their first string line-up, but the result was still viewed as impressive by Irish fans.

Strikers of a different variety, than those associated with the game of soccer, called on Celtic fans to red card a director of the club, Tom Allison, and to protest his actions as a Chairman of Peel Ports, which is involved in a labour dispute with Dublin port workers.

The strike by Dublin Port workers passed the 100 days mark last Saturday. Peel Ports, the second largest port company in the UK, which last year took over the dockers previous employer, Marine Terminals, is accused by SIPTU, the union representing the dock workers, of refusing to negotiate with the workers and that the only option open was official strike action. “The Company” say the union, “have given the two fingers to the Irish industrial relation process, and will not attend the Labour Court.”

“While workers are locked out of their place of employment,” say SIPTU, “they have been replaced by Scabs, some from Dublin and Kildare, and more brought in from Belfast and Scotland. “A 'security company' founded by ex SAS members and recruiting form the British military is being used to intimidate strikers and supporters.”

The company, Control Risks, is currently advertizing on its web site for a Project Manager to - “provide day-to-day operational and personnel management of Control Risks’ contract with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in Iraq. The project manager will be based in the British Embassy in Baghdad and will work back-to-back with a project manager of comparable seniority and experience.”

It also posts - “Are you leaving the military soon? Looking for your next career move? Have you considered working within Close Protection? You can use your Enhanced Learning Credits to pay towards the cost of our close protection course.
"A fantastic and well run course - highly recommended to anyone looking to enter the profession."
Steve, CP operative working in Iraq.

The striking workers have called on Celtic fans to send messages of support to Celtic Chairman John Reid, at publicrelations@celticfc.co.uk

“The club”, they say, “was founded over 120 years ago to provide relief for impoverished Irish immigrants in Glasgow, and has always had support from the Irish all over the world. No doubt Celtic fans will be disgusted to see a prominent member of the club linked to this attack on Irish workers.”

Dublin City Council have passed an unanimous resolution in support of the workers.

For more details:
www.mtldockers.com
supportportworkers@dublin.ie

Thursday, 8 October 2009

INTRODUCING Dan ÓNéill AKA ODD BODKINS #3

Dan has granted Soñar permission to publish his ODD BODKINS cartoon strip.

ODD BODKINS ON Soñar. Vol. I No. 3







Select Image for Larger Viewing

Hugh Daniel ÓNéill.

Thirty years ago Hugh Daniel ÓNéill was described as, “an innovator, a creator and a professional troublemaker” in a foreword to a collection of Odd Bodkins. For seven years his Odd Bodkins cartoons ran daily in The San Francisco Chronicle and in 350 other newspapers throughout the world. At its peak, the strip had a readership of fifty million. When he was hired at age 21 —the youngest cartoonist ever hired by a national syndicate— he was given three simple rules: no religion, no politics and no sex in the strip. He did his best to comply — he kept sex out of Odd Bodkins.

For further information on ÓNéill.
http://www.danoneillcomics.com/
http://origsix.com/index.asp

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Changing Face of Belfast

Former Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, signs a copy of his book, 'Bertie Ahern An Autobiography' for this young man, who was first in line at a packed Eason's bookstore in downtown Belfast today.


© Joe ÓNéill 2009

What a difference a decade makes - Not a protestor in sight!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Irish-American Hardball or California Dreamin'?


© Joe ÓNéill 2009

On July 21, and August 8, I posted two articles,

July 21, 'California dreamin'
http://seosamhsonar.blogspot.com/2009/07/california-dreamin.html

August 8, 'Irish American Voters'
http://seosamhsonar.blogspot.com/2009/08/irish-american-voters.html

The first, dealt with a resolution adopted by the Irish American Democratic Club of San Francisco, stating in part that, 'the California Democratic Party strongly supports Irish Reunification and urges both the State Legislature and the California Democratic Congressional delegation to support all peaceful actions that support the final reunification of the island of Ireland [Eire] by all electoral and diplomatic means necessary.' On July 19, the full resolution of the San Francisco Club, was adopted by the Executive of the California State Democratic Party.

The second post, carried a reprint of an excellent article by Stella OLeary, Founder and Chair of Irish-American Democrats, which challenged the assertion by Irish Times correspondent Niall Strange, that the influence of Irish-American voters was on the wane.

OLeary very astutely wrote then,

“No politicians have received more from Irish America than the Clintons. At one St. Patrick's Day breakfast Irish American Democrats raised $200,000 for the election of Hillary Clinton to the Senate.”

“As was commonly reported, Irish Americans raised millions for the election bid of Senator Clinton for the Presidency. One of our own, Declan Kelly, was at the very top of Senator Clinton's list of fundraisers.”

(Kelly, aged 41, born in Portroe, County Tipperary, has since been appointed by Secretary Clinton as Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland.)

On hearing the news of the position of the California Democrats, Northern Ireland First Minister, Peter Robinson, wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that the campaign by California Democrats was 'unhelpful.'

If that news wasn't bad enough, the San Francisco Labor Council have got into the act. On September 28, they passed the following resolution;

Resolution in Support of a United Ireland

WHEREAS, the logic of history, international law, human rights and peace dictate the reunification of the island of Ireland [Eire]; and

Whereas, the reality of the moment—the Good Friday Agreement and the development of the All-Ireland institutions of governance—attest to this momentum; and

WHEREAS, in the past the San Francisco Labor Council has historically
supported not only equal rights and justice for all Irish people, but also the reunification of Ireland as the path to that end; and

WHEREAS, the contributions of the Irish-born, and Irish Americans to this state, this nation, and to labor unions are legion,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the San Francisco Labor Council supports Irish reunification and supports all peaceful actions that support the final reunification of the island of Ireland by all electoral and diplomatic means necessary; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to Bay Area Central Labor Councils, the California Federation of Labor, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, US Senators Boxer and Feinstein, House Speaker Pelosi, and Congresswoman Speier.

Submitted by Denis Mosgofian, GCC-IBT 4N and Mike Casey, Unite Here 2 and adopted unanimously by the San Francisco Labor Council on September 28, 2009.

Respectfully,

Tim Paulson
Executive Director
OPEIU 3 AFL-CIO 11

When the First Minister hears this news, I have no doubt he will put pen to paper once again to inform the San Francisco Labor Council that this move would be 'unhelpful.' I would however give him one little bit of advice, don't C C it to San Francisco's Irish-American Mayor, Gavin Newsom. He will be a little busy running for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor of California.

Around this time I also came across an article in which former California State Senator, Tom Hayden, (First to draft MacBride fair employment legislation for the California legislature regarding use of state pension funds invested in Northern Ireland) mused that he was unsure if the current group of Irish-American activists were as committed or as active in pursuit of an Irish-American agenda as those who were around in the 1980's.

He may well get his answer sooner than expected.

California Dreamin'

“California, once described by Patrick Doherty as, the 'Jewel in the Crown' of the Mac Bride Principles campaign for fair employment practices by American companies doing business in Northern Ireland, has again shown that Irish-Americans continue to be pro-active in the quest for Irish reunification.”

“Doherty was, and is at this time, Director of Corporate Responsibility for the City of New York pension funds, and a leading proponent of the Mac Bride Principles campaign.”

Sunday, 4 October 2009

INTRODUCING Dan ÓNéill AKA ODD BODKINS #2

Dan has granted Soñar permissionto publish his ODD BODKINS cartoon strip.

ODD BODKINS ON Soñar. Vol. I No. 2





Select Image for Larger Viewing

Hugh Daniel ÓNéill.

Thirty years ago Hugh Daniel ÓNéill was described as, “an innovator, a creator and a professional troublemaker” in a foreword to a collection of Odd Bodkins.

For seven years his Odd Bodkins cartoons ran daily in The San Francisco Chronicle and in 350 other newspapers throughout the world. At its peak, the strip had a readership of fifty million.
When he was hired at age 21 —the youngest cartoonist ever hired by a national syndicate— he was given three simple rules: no religion, no politics and no sex in the strip. He did his best to comply — he kept sex out of Odd Bodkins.

His characters began to discuss metaphysics and deliberately offend the powers that be. The strip was dropped by the papers in 1966; editors thought he was going too far out, and assumed that no one could possibly make any sense out of these mad scribblings.

No sooner had the deed been done, when thousands of readers demanded Odd Bodkins’ return to the comic pages. Fans jammed the switchboard and sent letters demanding the reinstatement of Fred Bird, Hugh, Were-Chicken, Norton Motorcycle, and the rest of the Bodkins world.

In 2002, Dan was elected to the Board of Directors of the Sixteen to One mine, one of the last working gold mines in California.

For further information on ÓNéill.
http://www.danoneillcomics.com/
http://origsix.com/index.asp

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Time to “efficiency save” Ulster Scots

In these series, Soñar will publish without edit, the views of Guests.

The views of Guest Bloggers do not necessarily reflect those of Soñar.

Soñar will reserve the right to comment at time of publication, or thereafter, on articles submitted by Guests.


© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Boordo Ulstèr - Scots, at Hope Street and Great Victoria Street, Belfast

Guest Blogger Cllr. Ian Parsley

Time to “efficiency save” Ulster Scots
29th September, 2009

A recent submission by the Ulster-Scots Language Society to the European Committee of Experts concerning regional and minority languages claimed there is a “lack of action to facilitate Ulster Scots in education” and “lack of opportunities for non-speakers to learn Ulster Scots”. Ein as ane at bes aa for takkan tent o the braid tongue, could I suggest that may be because there is a “lack of interest among the (taxpaying) population”?

If there were ever a time to put an end to this nonsense, it is now. The Government did not include “Ulster Scots” in its three-year report to the Committee because it knows fine rightly no such language exists – the main reason no one is interested in it!

What does exist is the Scots language – not used in every aspect of daily life, but still widespread, including in Ulster. It has a rich literary heritage (Burns et al), a rich cultural influence (as the language of pipe bands, golf and Scots law), and a rich academic following (as a useful comparator in Germanic linguistics). All of this incorporates the variants spoken (and written auld lang syne) in Northern Ireland and Donegal. Its promotion is best left to the grass roots, on the baith sides o the Sheuch, linking speakers, enthusiasts and academics.

However, little of this requires significant government (taxpayer) subvention, and none at all is required for the blatant attempt to separate “Ulster Scots” from Scots on purely funding grounds. The “Ulster-Scots movement” had its chance – and the fact its submission was in English shows you how spectacularly it blew it.

I don’t need government money to support my genuine interest in the Scots tongue. In times where a DUP Minister faces a £400 million black hole of his own predecessor’s making, it is time the DUP called time on this wee cultural experiment funded to excess by the taxpayer. To do otherwise would be both weird and daft.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Audio Download Bloody Sunday Eyewitness Statement

When I ran the reprint of this story which I covered over 9 years ago,

[http://seosamhsonar.blogspot.com/2009/09/eyewitness-bloody-sunday.html]

I had intended to create a link on my Blog to the taped evidence of John Barry Liddy. However, due to technical problems I was unable to do so.

To the rescue, my good friend JFC, who has posted it on his site, available for download.

Be warned! For me, this is one of the most harrowing tales of brutality I have ever heard. Stephen King would be hard pressed to create from his imagination such a tale of horror and brutality, as was perpetrated on the victims of Bloody Sunday, and brought to life in Mr. Barry's eyewitness account.

LINK: JOHN BARRY LIDDY'S EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT

http://jfc3.com/liddy.mp3

If this 13 some minute tape does not cause a lump in your throat, or make you want to scream to the heavens for justice for the victims of Bloody Sunday, then I am afraid that you are clinically dead.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Belfast, Birth of a City

video

Preview

Belfast, Birth of a City

Belfast Bohemian Productions, formed in 2008, by Director James Rea, and Writer Joe Curran, have released a new DVD, “Belfast, Birth of a Cty.”

"As far as we know, there has never been anything produced like this before," said local historian Joe Curran. "Belfast people have a real love of history so we were surprised when we began this project to discover that no one had done this before us."

A year in the making, the DVD uses a combination of dramatized scenes, old photos and contemporary footage. Narrator Joe Curran, takes the viewer through an interwoven narrative of the prehistoric origins of the original settlement, the Gaelic village of Béal Feirste, (settled at the old ford across the river Lagan) through to the beginning of the 19th century, and Act of the Union.

The production is an excellent tool for those wishing to learn about the history of the city, and details how the early townspeople established the industries of shipbuilding and linen, for which the city was famous throughout the world.

The development of the town during periods of great political upheavals: the Plantation of Ulster; the French revolution; the rising of the United Irishmen in 1798; are woven into the narrative.

Belfast Bohemian Productions plan to produce a second DVD continuing the history of Belfast from 1801 through the Victorian period up to 1888 when it finally became a city.
Curran said, “We really want to encourage people to delve into the history of the city. The DVD isn’t meant to be an academic thesis but more an entertaining, informative insight into the early development of Belfast,” he added.

The DVD is available now.

For more information go to www.belfastbohemians.com
or contact:

James Rea;
Mob. 07734406125.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Eyewitness Bloody Sunday

The Chairman of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal, Lord Savill, today announced that publication of the findings would be again delayed until sometime next year.

The Tribunal, which was established by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998, began hearing evidence in November 1998, and when it completed its work in 2005, it had collected some 2,500 witness statements, 160 volumes of evidence, 121 audio tapes and 110 video tapes.

In December 2000, this writer submitted a crucial eyewitness account of the atrocity which was entered as evidence in the Tribunal.

Since almost nine years have elapsed since that time, I republish two articles which dealt with the events leading up to the disclosure of that evidence.

Some links may no longer be current.

A transcript of the tape is included in Part 2.

PART 1

IRISH EYES
G21 Special Report:

http://www.g21.net/irish26.htm

The Liddy Tape
by Joe O'Neill
G21 Alumnus
To read this article in Deutsch, Francaise, Italiano, Portuguese, Espanol, copy and paste the complete URL (http://www.g21.net/irish26.htm) and enter it in the box after you click through.

IRISH EYES

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Joe O'Neill, the author of this article, is a G21 Alumnus who has reported for the IRISH ECHO and IRISH HERALD. Mr. O'Neill was G21's first reporter on Northern Ireland issues, inaugurating our IRISH EYES coverage. We are pleased to welcome him back to these pages. Months back, he offered G21 the Liddy tape, which is now part of a Blair Administration new investigation into "Bloody Sunday" (January, 1972.) What follows is Mr. O'Neill's continued coverage of that tragic event.--RA]

A recently discovered tape recording of a dramatic eyewitness account of Bloody Sunday (when 14 Irish civil rights marchers were murdered by British paratroopers) that lay stored in a basement for the last 28 years, has been entered as evidence in the new Bloody Sunday Tribunal.

The tape, which was stored in the basement of former San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist, Dan O'Neill's Nevada City home after he made a trip to Ireland in 1972, was rediscovered during a basement clean-up.

John Barry Liddy, who participated in the Bloody Sunday civil rights march, is interviewed on the recording as he lay injured in his home waiting for an ambulance.

BEHIND THE STORY
A few months back, while working on edits for our story on the Serbian elections, this editor received a call from G21 Alumnus Joe O'Neill. O'Neill had contacted me after being contacted by his friend, Dan O'Neill (no relation.)

Joe was calling to tell me about the amazing, eye-witness content of the tape. He wanted advice on how to disseminate it to the largest number of "the right people." I advised that he burn it onto CDs. He did, and sent me an advance copy the following week.

Listening to the entire tape of John Barry Liddy's words ranks among the most heartbreaking experiences I have had in my entire life. The tales of reported beatings, and their nature, are enough to curdle the blood of any civilized person. That the victims of these "interrogations" were then left on the street to die...

The actual tape, which O'Neill shared with G21 months ago, goes on for an excruciating nearly 15 minutes. Neither the BBC RealAudio broadcast (which only runs a scant two and a half minutes,) nor the official government Bloody Sunday Inquiry site, provides the complete record of the John Barry Liddy tape. As a service to our readers, G21 will provide a complete transcript next week. Sadly, reading the words on the page cannot do complete justice to hearing Mr. Liddy's anquished voice, his sobbing... Most notably, the BBC excerpt gives no account of the torture and beatings of the victims during their hours-long "interrogation".

As Joe recounted later, "Dan turned the tape over to me to see if I could get it to the 'right people'... After our conversation...I sent it to the 'Bloody Sunday Trust' representing the families and relatives of victims. 'The Trust' turned it over to the lawyers. I spoke with the lawyers while I was in Ireland and the tape was entered in evidence, etc...."

We are often asked if the G21 really believes one person can make a difference. We do. Ask Joe or Dan O'Neill... RA Mr. Liddy, along with others, was rounded up after the killings by members of the Parachute Regiment and taken to a British army detention center where they were severely beaten and then thrown out onto the street.

Picked up outside the detention center by good Samaritans and driven home, Mr. Liddy is described by the interviewer as being in a semi-conscious state, suffering from a broken leg, broken ribs, severe contusions of the head and badly bruised about the body.

Ironically, at the start of the interview Mr. Liddy describes himself as a former member of the Royal Navy, British Army, and the U.D.R. (Now defunct Ulster Defense Regiment).
The detention center where he was beaten, Fort George, was also his place of employment where he worked as a bartender for the Army, Navy and Airforce Institute.

Describing the horrific details of the killing around him, Mr. Liddy confirms that the first shots fired came from a rifleman positioned on the Derry Walls, a fact denied by the British army and successive British governments who have maintained that their soldiers fired in response to shots fired at them from within the march.

In heartbreaking detail, filled with emotion, Mr. Liddy describes watching helplessly, along with local priest, Father Bradley, as the British army "pumped bullets" into unarmed and wounded victims as they tried to crawl to cover.

While helping his brother, who was hit in the heart by a rubber bullet, he saw his wife's 17 year-old nephew, Michael Kelly, shot. "He was shot in the stomach by a rifleman firing from Derry Walls. I would say that he was the first casualty." said Mr. Liddy.

As he and the priest tried to assist the wounded waving a white handkerchief, soldiers fired on them forcing them to scramble for their lives behind a wall for cover. The dead and dying were denied the consolation of receiving the last rites of their Church from Fr. Bradley due to the intensity of rifle fire from British troops.

The tape has since been passed on to the Bloody Sunday Trust, in Derry. Lawyers, Madden & Finucane, who represent the majority of those murdered and wounded, have sent a letter of thanks for the receipt of the evidence. On behalf of the firm, Fearghal Shiels wrote:

"We are extremely grateful that you have taken the time to send this important piece of evidence to Ireland. Since Mr. Liddy is now sadly deceased, and therefore has not been interviewed by the new Tribunal, this evidence has assumed even greater importance."

All evidence submitted to the inquiry, said Shiels, is posted on the government Web Site.
An excerpted recording of the interview with Mr. Liddy can be found on the BBC Web site by following the preceding link. This link takes you on to the "Dublin Monaghan Bombings" article. Go on.

+++ HOME +++ RECOMMENDED +++
+++ THE PREVIOUS IRISH EYES +++ THE NEXT IRISH EYES +++
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE
© 2000, GENERATOR 21.E-mail your comments. We always like to hear from you. Send your snide remarks to rod@g21.net.



PART 2

IRISH EYES

The Liddy Tape - Part 2
by Rod Amis
G21 Special Report

http://www.g21.net/irish28.htm

To read this article in Deutsch, Francaise, Italiano, Portuguese, Espanol, copy and paste the complete URL(http://www.g21.net/irish28.htm) and enter it in the box after you click through.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Last week The World's Magazine provided the inside story behind how a thirty year old eyewitness account of the Bloody Sunday massacre in Ireland was provided to the new Blair government Bloody Sunday Inquiry in the United Kingdom. Our reporter, Joe O'Neill was directly instrumental in that process. But neither the official Inquiry Web site nor the BBC provided a complete audio or transcript of the John Barry Liddy Tape. As a service to our readers around the world, with the assistance of Ms. Jane Winter of British Irish Rights Watch, G21 provides that transcript.--RA]

...Today in Colmcille Court, the British Army opened fired indiscriminately against unarmed civilians whose only weapons were stones.

My own brother Seamus Liddy was hit in the heart by a rubber bullet. I ran forward to render him assistance along with the brother- in-law's son and the son-in-law. We lifted my brother up to carry him in to the side of the road.

My 17, or -- 15-year-old nephew was shot down, he was hit in the stomach from a rifleman firing from Derry Walls. I would say that he was the first casualty. His name was Michael Kelly, my wife's nephew.

Father Bradley, a Roman Catholic curate, knelt down at his head to administer the Last Rites of the Church. While he was doing so, the British army were still firing into us and four more innocent people fell, three of them consequently died; about the fourth one I am not terribly sure.

Father Bradley then went out on to the road to administer the Last Rites to the four people who were shot. As he went out from behind cover, the British army opened indiscriminate fire on him. Myself and another lad --- his name is unknown to me --- went out and pulled Father Bradley back. I got out my white handkerchief and went out at the corner of the building and waved it in the direction of the British army. As I did so, a burst of automatic or semi-automatic fire hit the side of the building beside where Father Bradley and I were standing.

Another chap at the other side of the road had been hit in the leg. He was lying behind cover and both Father Bradley and I appealed to him to stay where he was. As he tried to crawl forward onto cover, the British army pumped the bullets into him. He appealed to us for help but the fire was so heavy, we couldn't get across the road.

Again Father Bradley tried to get out to the four fellows who were shot. Three of them were dead and one of them raised his arm and beckoned us out to help him, but again we tried to go out and they shot at us.

They were calling from across the street for a priest and a boy who was lying dying on the street with his life's blood pumping out on the street, and again we couldn't get across.
At this the British army came around the corner. They were no more like human beings than the animals that come from the jungle!

I tried to protect Father Bradley. I was struck across the chest with a rifle. Father Bradley was also struck. Then we appealed to the lieutenant in the paratroop regiment, we were again beaten and told to speak only when spoken to.

We were put again at the wall with our hands on the wall and we were severely kicked about the legs and the private parts of our body.

When anyone fell, they were kicked again. We were then ordered into single file and were run down towards the wire netting that surrounded the GPO.

On my way down, a British soldier again swung his rifle and hit me with the butt.
When I fell they hit me with rubber hoses on the back and dragged me by the hair on my head to my feet again.

Again we were put facing the wire netting fences surrounding the GPO in Upper James' Street, again we were physically abused. We were then told to get into the lorry which was about 40 yards away, but before we could reach the lorry, we had to run a gauntlet of about 40 or 50 paratroopers.

Again we were beaten unmercifully. If we didn't get into the lorry quick enough we were again hit with rifle butts.

We were told to sit on the floor facing the back of the lorry... Suddenly they changed their minds and told us to turn around and face the front of the lorry. If we were a little bit slow in doing so we were again unmercifully hammered.

We were threatened with all sorts of repercussions but the lorry eventually moved off. Then it moved to the place of my employment which is known as Fort George, the original naval maintenance base, Strand Road, Londonderry, where I am employed as a barman by the navy, army and their force institutes.

On arrival at camp, we were ordered to leave the lorry one at a time. As we turned around to do so, two paratroopers in the back of the lorry again beat us.

There was a 13 or 14-year-old child just in front of me in the lorry. He asked me if I would look after him and I said I would.

I was a little bit slow getting out of the lorry and I was thrown out of it. When I fell again, I was kicked. I was made to get up and run the gauntlet again. If anyone has ever seen films of a white man running a gauntlet in an Indian village, this will give you some idea of what we had to run. We were taken into a large shed and were told to face the wall and stretch our hand palms outwards against the wall. Again we were kicked about the legs and were told to turn around and line up against barbed wire which we had to clutch with our bare hands. The paratroopers then came in and started identifying.... (The statement was terminated at this point in the interview because Mr Liddy was taken to hospital due to the injuries he received at the barracks.)

People throughout the world have access to the BBC World News. As you know, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry is now meeting daily. We pray that, perhaps, after thirty years, justice will finally be done. --- Rod Amis This link takes you on to the Brendan Hughes interview. Go on.

+++ HOME +++ RECOMMENDED +++
+++ THE PREVIOUS IRISH EYES +++ THE ACCOMPANYING IRISH EYES +++ THE NEXT IRISH EYES +++
RETURN TO TOP OF PAGE')

© 2000, GENERATOR 21.E-mail your comments. We always like to hear from you. Send your snide remarks to rod@g21.net.