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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Forget the Queen of England and remember the Famine

The famines everywhere

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The most significant historical event that happened on this day was not the visit by the Queen of England but the fact that today in 1974 a series of very powerful no warning bombs were exploded in the centre of Dublin and in Monaghan town. An anti Irish "Workers Strike" also took place in the North in the same week.

As I explain in my book A Very British Jihad, these bombs followed a pattern of attacks by extreme right wing and fascist groups (aided and abetted by state military forces) all over the globe. The strategy these bombs represented was a strategy of tension, where the only solution on the agenda would be a security agenda. They worked. Bang went the peace process in Ireland, destroyed not by Irish republicans but by British Intelligence and its proxy forces (now admitted) within the rabidly sectarian loyalist paramilitary matrix.


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More poignant still are the stories of the slaughtered and maimed. 33 killed and hundreds injured, some of them horrifically so. But these stories have been suppressed. The Irish media does not "do" the Dublin and Monaghan bombs in the way it does the Enniskillen, Shankill Road or Omagh bombs. When I made a film for RTÉ about the 1974 atrocities (Friendly Forces with reporter Brendan O'Brien) my phone was tapped and I was branded a subversive.

To illustrate my point, RTÉ's main evening news bulletin at 6pm made no mention of the bombings. It was wall to wall Queen. Not only did Ireland's finest journalists fail to mention a wreath laying ceremony that was attended by a large number of TDs (MPs) to commemorate those that were killed, it failed to mention that England's Queen actually passed very close to one of the bomb sites on her way to Trinity College. Margaret Urwin of the Justice For The Forgotten group made the brilliant, and startling, point that these bombings were Ireland’s 9/11 with a comparable per capita impact. Would the USA forget 9/11?

In short, we have had a media frenzy portraying this Queen’s visit as a turning point in our lives. It is no such thing. The peace process will run on regardless because, as I have pointed out before, under the provisions of the Belfast Agreement the Unionists cannot go backwards and renegotiate the agreement. They can only go forwards with the rest of us and British Intelligence cannot save their Ulster bacon this time.

So no mention of the Dublin and Monaghan bombs by RTÉ, no mention of Sinn Fein’s questions in the Dáil about the atrocity, or indeed its black balloon protest today. What we got instead was the ridiculous sight of reporter Paul Reynold’s running around the back streets of Dublin looking for burning wheelie bins and dissident demonstrators.

No mention of the fact that the Queen’s visit in reality represents one very rich man's club telling another smaller and Irish rich man's club that they want to talk turkey over certain things and British prime minister David Cameron is arriving tomorrow to do just that. For let us be clear, more than anything else, the English Queen, as a symbol, represents an unelected power elite and capitalist patronage par excellence. That's what's she is there for. She does exactly what she says on her tin hat. So where were the questions for Labour leader Eamon Gilmour who met the Queen off her royal jet today? The same Eamon Gilmore who had stood in Arbour Hill cemetery only days earlier to commemorate the Labour Party's links to James Connolly?

I do not, I think, have to speculate about what Connolly’s attitude would have been to any royal visit.

In fact my point above was echoed today by Gilmore himself where, at a joint briefing with Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, Gilmore told us that it was really (more or less) all about trade. This is how BBC reporter Mark Devenport quotes him:

“Eamon Gilmore went so far as to suggest that the visit will put not just the history of the troubles in the past, but show Ireland was moving on from its "recent economic history" and rebuilding its reputation.”

See - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13433704

Of course it would be churlish not to acknowledge the historical significance of an English queen laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance here in Dublin – a garden that commemorates our heroes of 1916, but the fact is that by engaging with the IRA and its political wing from the mid 1980s onwards, both the British government (and subsequently a large section of unionism it must be said) has already made a much more symbolic and history changing gesture - the effective recognition that the Provisional IRA's cause was legitimate and that it effectively represented Nationalists and Catholics in the Six Counties of Ulster that is under British jurisdiction. Even today, I have to pinch myself at seeing Peter Robinson standing next to the former head of the IRA Martin McGuinness.

No. The English Queen's visit is all about the Southern Irish bourgeoisie.

To conclude, (putting my aside my journalist hat for a moment and speaking as a republican socialist), I think Sinn Féin has handled the issue of "The Visit” very well. The party made a tactical mistake in not organising a demonstration against the militant loyalist Friends of Ulster organisation when it marched through Dublin some years ago. Thus handing the initiative to dissident republicans. This time round, its TDs have raised effective questions in the Dáil and elsewhere, and have aligned this to a willingness to stage imaginative (and inclusive) street protests. It is not just themselves alone.

The ability and readiness to use all democratic platforms including street protests and civil disobedience (and I'm not talking about pointless and alienating attacks on the Garda Síochána - a fly trap for Dublin's lumpen element) is a key litmus test for Sinn Féin if it really is going to take on the mantle of the main party of the left now that Labour has jumped wholesale into bed with our version of the Christian Democrats - Fine Gael.

One other thing that, it goes without saying, has not been mentioned by all those pyjama journalist this week is The Famine. This week is famine memorial week and (again to its credit) Sinn Féin is holding a vigil this evening at the Famine memorial site near the Customs House here in Dublin.

There never was and never will be a justification for famine in this world of obese splendour and the disgusting hoarding of wealth. We have to get serious about wealth redistribution on a world scale. Now that is something to get angry about.


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Title: Forget the Queen of England and remember the Famine
Date posted: 17 May '11 - 21:20
Filed under: General
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