Sunday, 28 June 2009

Parades and Protests

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Statue of James Joyce

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Not Quite

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Giant Killer

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Underneath the Arches

© Joe ÓNéill 2009
Waiting for Gulliver
As Belfast celebrated with a parade for the Alliance Party’s new Lord Mayor, Naomi Long, Anti-Good Friday Agreement, Republican protestors, were prevented by the PSNI, from marching to Belfast City Hall to protest Armed Forces Day, also celebrated yesterday.

On May 5, of this year, the Belfast City Council passed a resolution to celebrate Armed Forces Day on June 27.

Breandán Mac Cionnaith, General Secretary of éirígí, who orgainsed the protest said, “All the talk of change in recent years has today been exposed as just that – talk and nothing more than empty, hollow talk. Belfast city centre remains a no-go zone for republicans – unless, of course, those republicans are wiling to ask the British state for permission to enter their own city.

“Today was the first so-called armed forces day. By our protest here today éirígí has ensured that it did not pass unopposed. In the years to come we will build on today’s protest and ensure that June 27, becomes a date of protest – not a date of celebration.”

Given the role of the British Army in Northern Ireland, it would be predictable that a large section of citizens would be opposed to such a celebration. Protests however were not confined to Northern Ireland. In Glasgow, Scotland, 13 people were arrested in a protest demonstration.
In Britain “Peace News” called for an Unarmed Forces Day, “Britain,” they said, “doesn’t need and Armed Forces Day, recently invented by Gordon Brown. We already have Remembrance Day.” What Britain needs,” they stated, “is an Unarmed Forces Day - when we can remember those people, like Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie(British peace activists killed by Israeli forces while protecting Palestinians), Abdul Ghaffar Khan (“the Muslim Gandhi”), Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi, who dedicated their lives to non-violent social change.

Unarmed Forces Day is a Peace News initiative. It is a celebration of the power of non-violence, a call for real support for our damaged veterans, and a protest against an attempt by the British government to shore up support for its unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by rallying the British public around the armed Forces.”

At the Imperial War Museum, the Movement for the Abolition of War held a forum on ‘The Limits of Military Obedience’, which was addressed by General Sir Hugh Beach; Bruce Kent; (Pax Christi), George Farebrother; (Institute for Law Accountability and Peace), and Chaired by Kat Barton; (Quaker Peace and Social Witness).

The Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed forces, Queen Elizabeth II, presented medals at Redford Barracks, Edinburgh, at a reception for over 300 military personnel and families.

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