A Morning Thought @ 338

From the blog of Maryam Namazie revulsion at the Christchurch attack.

We are outraged at the far-Right terrorist attacks on mosques in New Zealand. Those killed could have been our beloved; our hearts go out to the victims and survivors of these heinous attacks.

We recognise the xenophobic, anti-migrant and anti-Muslim, white nationalists in the Islamists. Both are far-Right movements that rely on religion, violence, hate, misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism… and both use terrorism to sow fear and division. We will continue to fight both and defend universal values, the right to live and think as one chooses, and our common humanity.

Whatever our differences, we are one race: Human.

We stand with Muslims everywhere who face discrimination, violence and terror.




Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan
Atheist Refugee Relief
Atheist Republic
Black Ducks Channel
Bread and Roses TV
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB)
Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka
Dutch Freethinkers Association De Vrije Gedachte
Ex-Muslims of Jordan
Ex-Muslims of North America
Ex-Muslims of Norway
Ex Muslims Of Scandinavia
Faithless Hijabi
One Law for All
Mouvement Alternatif pour les Libertés Individuelles – Maroc
Tunisian Freethinkers

Maryam Namazie is a political activist and write.  She is also spokesperson
for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

Follow Maryam Namazie on Twitter @MaryamNamazie

Outrage at #ChristchurchMosqueAttack

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement in its Easter message reflects on recent events in Derry.

For Irish republicans Easter is the time of year when we traditionally honour all those Irishmen and Irish women who paid the ultimate sacrifice to establish a functioning sovereignty for all the people of Ireland.

But in light of the recent and reckless events in Derry, in which those presuming to act in the name of Irish republicanism took the young life of journalist and rights activist Lyra McKee, our focus today is to once and for all strip bare the false credentials of those who offer nothing to the republican struggle except denigration and ignominy.

We reference the address delivered by Veteran IRA activist Phil Donohue on the 60th Anniversary of the death of his friend and comrade Fergal O’Hanlon as part of Operation Harvest. We urge the youth of Ireland to read carefully the pronouncements made by someone who knows what they are talking about. We further urge our youth not to be seduced by bravado imagery or drum-beating slogans.

And to those who would send Irish youth on reckless adventures to face either death or imprisonment in a dysfunctional command structure we say stop immediately because you are abusing the name Oglaigh Na hEireann. The mantle of Irish Republicanism can only be inherited by those who have ideas to advance it.

Brookeborough Raid Anniversary
Oration by Phil Donohue
January 7th 2018.

It is important to state from the outset that the use of Armed Struggle should never be romanticised nor entered into without due consideration of a number of essential factors.

The right of the Irish people to use disciplined armed force against the violation of our National Sovereignty is beyond question. But like any fundamental right its proper use is essential because if done so irresponsibly irreparable damage can be done to that right.

It must be recognised that possessing the right to use armed force does not obligate Irish republicans to prosecute an armed campaign. And whilst armed campaigns by Irish republicans have been undertaken by every generation since Wolfe Tone we cannot view deadly force as a tradition to be blindly followed.

Of equal importance is the recognition that possessing the right to use armed force does not automatically confer an ability to carry out an armed campaign. Possessing armaments is one thing, possessing a military and political acumen is quite another.

Too often the status and raison detre of the Irish Republican Army have been misunderstood and/or abused. This misunderstanding and abuse invariably leads to a misuse of the army with disastrous political consequences.

The Irish Republican Army is the National Army of the Irish people and its sole function is to defend the national sovereignty of the Irish people. At all times its Volunteers must act in strict accordance with its Constitution and General Army Orders. No personnel in authority possess the right to issue illegal orders to Volunteers to engage in activities which would bring the National Army into disrepute.

By definition the National Army is not the military wing of a political party or group nor can it ever seek to be endorsed as such. The dangers of this approach gave us the Good Friday Agreement.

Under the Provisional leadership the Irish Republican Army was reduced to the role of a militia. This meant that the arms and knowledge acquired to end the violation of our sovereignty were now being used to enforce a party political agenda.

The strategy of that leadership was never subject to democratic scrutiny because its deep flaws would have been quickly exposed.

Instead the strategy was the preserve of a majority of Army Council members who in turn used the premise of Army endorsement of their hidden agenda to force acceptance of it within the wider Republican Movement.

In a further abuse of Army Authority army structures and personnel were deployed to threaten and intimidate those who sought to challenge and expose this nefarious direction. This political and military delinquency culminated in the destruction of arms to secure the endorsement of the British occupation of our country.

In effect a military junta, built around a personality cult, was not only determining secret policy for the Republican Movement but was also negotiating with enemy security personnel to ensure the success of those policies.

The relevance of all this is observable if we choose to look out the window. Embroiling the National Army in a criminal dispute is equally delinquent and deeply damaging to the republican cause. It must be clearly understood that to act outside of the Army’s Constitution is to remove yourself from being designated as the National Army.

Irish Republicanism is at the crossroads. We need to stand back and examine our options with great care and diligence. What is required now is a political grounding of contemporary republicanism to ensure our analysis is heard above the din and clamour of partitionist politics.

The Irish people are not incidental to the republican project. As republicans we have the distinct tendency to be insular to the point of arrogantly believing that we can presume what is best for our people without seeking their engagement to determine their views.

Republicanism can only advance on a democratic premise. The Provisional mindset must remain a thing of the past. We cannot recreate past eras and fool ourselves into thinking that this represents progress.

Volunteers Séan South and Fergal O’Hanlon did not give their lives so that future generations could praise them or sing songs about them. They gave their lives in the belief that those coming after them would learn from the collective actions of the Republican Movement of their era to improve the actions of those in the here and now.

If we truly want to honour these two Volunteers, and all Volunteers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, we must discard the pretence that progress will be found in yet another republican grouping for the very existence of all these groups is testament to their failure.

So let us sit down together, as equals and without labels, and forge a way forward for this struggle.

32 County Sovereignty Movement Easter Message 2019

A Morning Thought @ 337

Matt Treacy thinks brownshirt sentiment is never far beneath the surface in Sinn Fein.

The Sinn Féin office moving squad

Now politics can come with its share of rough and tumble and is no place for the feint-hearted. So when a senior member of Sinn Féin burst in to Peadar Toibín’s Leinster Office to evict him, perhaps he ought to have taken it in the correct spirit and just fucked off, like.

That has been the suggestion from many Shinners who made light of the witty exchange, and even hinted that perhaps Peadar had forgotten to put on his Big Boy Pants. One wonders too what the “something” might have consisted of.

Such a worldly wise attitude would carry a bit more weight were it not for the fact that the Shinners are ultra sensitive about any slight, perceived or imagined, directed at themselves. They are drama queens of soap opera proportions.

And of course any light being shone on them or truth telling regarding their activities is not an attack on the party, per se. Rather it must be an attack on the “struggle”, whatever that means these days, or even the Irish people as a whole.

I once had the amusing experience of being in the company of an electoral candidate asserting her right to order a drink well after closing time on the basis that she was not a “second class citizen.” She was given the same direction as Peadar.

Sinn Féin are clearly unnerved by the prospect that Aontú will significantly dent their vote in the upcoming local elections. The week before the stormtrooper raid, Pearse Doherty had been put out to insinuate that Peadar is a racist because he had the temerity to suggest that there needed to be a debate on sustainable immigration.

Given Pearse’s emotional opposition to abortion on demand which he abandoned on the orders of the Gauleiter, we might perhaps expect to see him turn up at a KKK hootenanny soon, should votes be perceived to lie in another direction than currently. It is all in the dialectic.

It is nonsense to suggest that Peadar is a racist. His reference to immigration was simply common sense and reflective of what most sane people outside of the open borders ultra left and their race to the bottom robber baron capitalist allies actually believe.

But the ongoing focus of SF on the perceived gap left by the anaemic Labour Party and the large pool of liberal voters who can be placated by faux emotional sound bites rather than actually doing anything practical means they will persist with the current baiting of their opponents rather than engage in any meaningful grown up debate.

Sinn Féin on Dublin City Council have learnt that lesson well. Rather than address the not exactly Schrodingerian conundrum of having a large stock of boarded up local authority houses at the same time there are thousands on their waiting list, they prefer the Student Union politics of flying nice flags, bridge naming and fraternal visits to Hamas in Gaza. They have even taken part in homelessness protests against a council on which they are the biggest party.

Likewise in the part of Ireland they recently administered for Teresa May, they are trying to use opposition to welfare cuts they approved in Stormont as a means to get votes. Both they and their partners in crime (it’s only a figure of speech) in the DUP are both running an Orwellian campaign based on the need to stop the other being the biggest party in Airstrip One.

Let us hope it keeps fine for them both. They deserve one another.

So the most unprofessional actions of the Leinster House chekist should be seen not as the chap having the head staggers, but as a reflection of the real fear within SF that they are going to do badly in the local elections.

While they fobbed off the dreadful performance of ni Riadh in the presidential election as some sort of glitch, even they are not convinced.

It will be interesting to see then how well the array of Aontú and other republican candidates -some of whom were elected as SF candidates – will do. They will certainly take votes from the Shinners, but on what scale we do not yet know.

Republican Army is also available @ Amazon. 

Matt Treacy blogs @ Brocaire Books. 

“Get The Fuck Out Or Something Will Happen.”

Enda Craig feels there is now:

Undeniable Proof - The Irish Anti Water Charges Movement Was Sold Out, Betrayed By R2w Unions And TDs

There is undeniable proof that the Irish people were sold out and betrayed by R2W Unions and TDs incl. Sinn Féin, PBP, Solidarity, Ind4Change, Social Democrats on the Water Charges issue.

The RTE video of the 6th of April 2017 on the Dáil media plinth shows R2W TDs one after the other giving victory speeches. Deputy Eoin O'Broin states that indeed there is “Collective Agreement” with the contents of the Oireachtas Committee on Water Charges report and they will now meet with the rest of the Committee in the Dail in the afternoon to formally adopt it.

It transpired at that meeting Simon Coveney announced he had written to the chairman of the committee the previous night stating that Fine Gael would not accept the draft report because an agreement on metering that they made with Fianna Fáil, one week previously, did not appear in the report.

It is important to point out that the issue involved only ‘Metering’ and not ‘Charges For Excessive Use’ or any other clause including acceptance of Irish Water, agreed by all Committee members as stated in the draft report. It was this single issue on metering that R2W would eventually use to distance itself from the eventual water legislation.

It is logical to assume that accepting the principle of ‘Excessive Use Charge’ that that would entail metering the amount of water used. Note that the ‘Excessive Use Charge’ principle was introduced as early as 2015 in Brussels by rapporteur Lynn Boylan supported by R2W, see this article Here.

See video - R2W Dáil plinth 6th April 2017

The Oireachtas Committee spent the next week addressing the metering changes and eventually the wording was changed to reflect the FG/FF agreement as mentioned by Simon Coveney in his letter.

The Committee’s Final Report on Domestic Water Charges was passed on 11th of April 2017 by a majority of 13 to 7. 5 R2W TD'S, 1 Green Party Senator and 1 Labour Party Senator voted against.

The only difference in the Draft Confidential Report that the R2W agreed with and Final Report related to the change in wording on metering only. It did not include any rejection of ‘Charges For Excessive Use’ by the R2W TD's. It is critically important to understand that the part in the report that was modified had to do with a disagreement on metering details between FG and FF. and not the any agreed charging regime.

It seems none of the committee members had any problem with the ‘Charges For Excessive Use’ as written in the Draft Report on the 6th of April and agreed to again in the final report on the 11th of April. The reason R2W TD's voted against the final report had to do with the modified details on metering alone.

This final Oireachtas Committee’s Report on Domestic Water Charges, including the principle of charging for excessive use, became the official position of the Government and this eventually became part of the Water Services Act 2017 that passed into legislation in Sept 2017.

R2W TDs, of course objected to the Bill. However, in my view, this was in truth a 'face saving ' exercise. By agreeing to ' Charges For Excessive Use ' the details on metering was a side show allowing them to jump up and down in false protest. The harm was already done and they had a major part in it.

The Water Services Act was now included in the new River Basin Management Plan as the Irish Govt's official position on the new Domestic Water Charges for Ireland and this was forwarded to Brussels for approval.

In a nutshell, R2W and affiliated TD's, by agreeing to commodify domestic water usage through the ‘Charges for Excessive Use’ principle, have facilitated the Government in their long term plan to activate Articles 102-106 of the Lisbon Treaty ( signed up to in 2009 ) that insists that all member states must open up to competition any goods/ services that are available on the open market at unit price ( e.g cost per litre of water ). This will align Ireland with the EU Single Market opening up domestic water charging to competition laws. This will in turn do away with our precious 9.4 Domestic Water Exemption.

R2W Unions and the R2W TD's should never have agreed to this. They should have ignored completely the Government signing up to the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and they should have fought tooth and nail to retain the 9.4 Exemption.

Instead they handed the Government water charges and privatisation on a plate. Perhaps this is the price you pay as advocates of the EU and the Single Market.

R2W have attempted to explain their shameful decision when they published the following statement:

Much criticism has been made of a number of TD’s who support Right2Water declaring a victory on the plinth of the Dail on 5th April 2017. At that particular time, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Water had agreed a draft report stating that charges were to be abolished, mandatory metering would end and the referendum to enshrine public ownership of our water supply would take place. Had that Report been adopted, it would indeed have been a massive victory for everyone who had campaigned against water charges. Instead, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael conspired to change the report outside of committee hearings, a scandal in itself, undermining the democratic processes of the Oireachtas, and not for the first time. In the same week, Simon Coveney, the Minister responsible for water, issued threats to the committee when he wrote to the Chair.

The fact of the matter is FF and FG conspired to change the report on metering but nothing to do with the core part of the report which included the Charges For Excessive Use and acceptance of Irish Water. The statement was an example of a premeditated manipulation of the truth by R2W. People should not allow them or affiliated TD's to continue to treat them as fools. If we are to progress and counter the status quo EU austerity measures then any opposition must embrace honesty, democracy and a little bit of humility. Without this the often cacophony of ‘Unity’ is false.

I have shown beyond doubt that the R2W TD's sold out the people and the Irish Water Charges Movement by agreeing the ’ Excessive Use Charge’ principle. The metering issue between FG/FF was and is still being used as a smokescreen to hide a shameful truth. R2W conspired behind the backs of the movement by not being upfront and honest and were complicit for whatever reason in not only undermining our 3 core principles 1. No Water Charges 2. No Metering and 3. No Irish Water company.

In my view they quite rightly denigrated Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for their political shenanigans but it is shameful that they deny their own culpability.

⏩ Keep up with Enda Craig @ Buncrana Together

Undeniable Proof

A Morning Thought @ 336

Alfie Gallagher pays tribute to Lyra McKee.

I became friends with Lyra McKee through our mutual close friendships with Anthony McIntyre and Ruth Dudley Edwards. That alone will tell you a lot about Lyra: she was a woman of extraordinary empathy and a relentless desire to understand and to befriend. It was what made her a great journalist, one of the outstanding of her generation. Somehow she still managed to be deeply humble, heart-warmingly funny and a tremendously good friend.

Despite our many years of online contact and cheerful banter, one of my greatest regrets is that Lyra and I only met once in person, a moment captured in the treasured photograph above. Foolishly, I presumed we had all the time in the world, and so life inevitably got in the way. A silly boy’s bullet proved me wrong.

I can think of no better legacy than the words of our mutual friend Carrie McIntyre: Be Like Lyra! Rather than indulge in the self-soothing comfort of woke self-righteousness or right-wing arrogance, try to be generous with whomever you disagree. Try to understand “others” and “opponents” rather than to caricature them, especially when you dislike or indeed hate what they stand for.

That is one of the many things that Lyra McKee taught me. Along with her profoundly insightful journalism, that is what she should be remembered for.

Alfie Gallagher blogs @ Left From The West

Be Like Lyra: A Legacy

Religious commentator, Dr John Coulter, uses his Fearless Flying Column to turn his attention over the Easter celebrations as to how pro-May Tories can ‘persuade’ the DUP to sign up to PM Theresa’s existing Withdrawal Deal.

What could make the 10 Democratic Unionist MPs blink politically and support Theresa May’s Brexit deal? Simple – pussy-foot with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who is well known for his pro-Sinn Fein support.

Three times Mrs May has tried to get her withdrawal deal across the line, and three times her ‘confidence and supply’ partners at Westminster, the DUP, have thrown it back in her face.

At long last, Mrs May has gained an understanding of how the DUP political beast thinks and works. Perhaps the ghost of its founder, the late Rev Ian Paisley, has whispered in her ear the secrets of what makes the DUP tick – the only Union which matters to Democratic Unionists is keeping the six counties of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom.

If Mrs May cannot persuade the DUP to back her deal, maybe she can scare them into backing it. And if she can get the DUP on board, many in the ERG will follow its lead.

To make Project Fright a reality, pro-May Tories need to understand that the DUP as a political movement is built on the concept that its supporters must have something to oppose.

It began in the late 1960s as a protest movement by Rev Paisley against the liberal policies of the then ruling Ulster Unionist Party. Its original name was the Protestant Unionist Party.

It became the DUP in 1971 after Rev Paisley had won seats in the original Stormont Parliament and the North Antrim Westminster seat. His son, Ian Junior, still holds the Commons seat.

The DUP’s success as a political machine was based on fusing together two previously muted voices in Northern Ireland – fundamentalist Christians and working class Protestants. This political shotgun marriage eventually bore fruit in the early years of the new millennium when the DUP overtook the established Ulster Unionist Party as the main voice for Unionism.

The DUP’s vote management and electoral strategy was based on a simple tactic – don’t let the enemy get in, whoever that may be! The next big test of DUP electoral strength will be the local council elections in Northern Ireland on 2nd May.

Perhaps ‘the Doc’, as Paisley senior was affectionately known, has reminded Mrs May of the strategy adopted by the DUP during the 1985 council elections. Paisley senior was pictured with the sledge hammer with the banner ‘Smash Sinn Fein’.

Sinn Fein, rather than the rival UUP, still remains the big political boogie man for the DUP. If Mrs May opens talks with Corbyn, DUP tacticians might be speculating as to what price Mrs May will pay to secure Mr Corbyn’s support. To the DUP, Corbyn is viewed as a Marxist Sinn Fein supporter.

No matter what spin Sinn Fein puts on its links – past or present – to the Provisional IRA, to the body politic of the DUP, Sinn Fein and the IRA are all part of the same republican movement.

The DUP will be wondering – could any May/Corbyn deal result in a weakening of the Union itself and place Northern Ireland firmly on the road to Sinn Fein’s vision of a 32-county democratic socialist republic?

Presently, the DUP can hold its ground against Mrs May because it knows the Irish republic is not sufficiently economically strong to afford a united Ireland. Even Lagan Valley DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson – a former Ulster Unionist – recently suggested at a Fine Gael conference in the republic that Southern Ireland should reconsider rejoining the British Commonwealth.

Strategically, while Mrs May tries to get a resolution to her withdrawal deal either within her own party or in Brussels, the DUP will always oppose an Irish back-stop. The DUP can sell opposition to the back-stop among its legions of voters in Northern Ireland that the back-stop is really the back door to a united Ireland.

So if the Achilles Heel of the DUP is to do something which endangers the Union and Northern Ireland’s place in the UK, then the only way to scare the DUP into supporting any deal is to do business with the leader of the Opposition whose avowed aim, if he gets into Downing Street, is to take Northern Ireland out of the UK.

Is it any wonder the DUP’s Westminster leader, the North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, hinted that the DUP would rather remain in the EU than do anything which endangers that Union.

To fundamentally scare the DUP into supporting her, Mrs May has got to sell her talks with Corbyn as creating a political situation which the DUP regards as the 1985 Hillsborough Agreement Mark Two.

That agreement signed by another former British PM Margaret Thatcher, gave the Irish republic its first major say in the running of Northern Ireland since partition. Central to a May/Corbyn deal would be an increased role in the running of Northern Ireland by Dublin.

This would be especially politically unpalatable for the DUP given that the power-sharing Stormont Executive collapsed more than two years ago in January 2017, leaving Northern Ireland without a devolved government.

Without a back-stop, the DUP knows the republic will be both economically and geographically isolated from the rest of the EU. If Mrs May abandons a back-stop, Southern Ireland could be on the verge of a second Irish Famine – only this time, not the potato disaster which killed tens of thousands in the 19th century, but an economic famine more akin to the collapse of the once-booming Celtic Tiger economy around a decade ago.

The DUP has to be careful it does not overplay its hand in the coming weeks. It is not so much a case that Mrs May is isolating the DUP; more a case that she is playing the DUP at its own game – pushing the party into a political corner from which it must emerge.

The Unionist voters of Northern Ireland have punished the Ulster Unionists electorally for moving too far from its traditional centre right power base. Those voters would similarly punish the DUP if as a result of the party’s intransigence a May/Corbyn deal actually saw the Labour leader become PM or sparked a greater role for Dublin in Ulster. The DUP cannot afford to take that risk. It is a movement which puts party survival first.

Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter
Listen to religious commentator Dr John Coulter’s slot, Call Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM, as part of the ‘At The Table’ show. 
Listen online at  www.thisissunshine.com 

Project Fright

A Morning Thought @ 335

Anthony McIntyre is saddened by the death of his friend Lyra McKee.

“But what if the monsters come?"
"Fancy." Kit looked away from the drama to stare at her sister, surprised. "We are the monsters.” ― Dia Reeves, Slice of Cherry

Source: The New Yorker

Despite the outcry and widespread revulsion radiating out from Derry, homicidal republicanism has probably not inflicted its last atrocity, merely its latest. Never Again tends to have an expiry date which sees again cancel out never, a banner bedecking a platform upon which the political class makes a show of standing together, only to use it to mask their incessant efforts to keep everyone else apart. If ever it was caught in damning headlights that should have been headlines, it was through Padraig McKeon's astute and acerbic put down:

So here are the ‘leaders’ of the failure in N Ireland’s political dialogue standing in front of the woman who has lost her life partner as a tangible consequence of that failure. Being at the front is not the same as being a leader.

Lyra McKee, sadly, is highly unlikely to be the final victim of the malevolent militarism that remains both arrogantly indifferent and haughtily impervious to the twin concept that others have rights and that there is no right to practice homicide. Citizen rights - not on their watch, just their right to kill. Lyra was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her killers were.

A large section of dissenting republican thought, the range of which was so skilfully identified by Marisa McGlinchey as being outside the Sinn Fein loop in her informative book Unfinished Business, has come out strongly against Lyra McKee's killing and any continuation of armed actions. Much of this is the result of a pervasive suspicion about the leadership of the New IRA in Derry, not necessarily a rejection of the physical force tradition per se.

For that reason, we see the disquiet towards the death of Lyra McKee qualified by haring off in pursuit of the elixir that will unite Ireland, managing to ignore what it says on the tin – Kool-Aid. The focus here is not on ending armed violence but on avoiding civilian casualties. That singularly fails to see what almost everyone else can – there rarely is any other form of casualty. Since 1998 the vast bulk of republican inflicted fatalities have been on innocent civilians. Incapable of waging anything resembling a guerrilla war against its supposed enemies, the bulk of its victims are nationalist civilians. Falsely posing as defenders of the community they afflict, they constitute a greater threat to the lives of Northern nationalists than armed loyalism. But that is how it seems to be these days as one set of marching men mirror the other. The New IRA kills Lyra McKee and the UVF kills Ian Ogle.

Even if all civilian casualties could somehow be avoided, it is impossible to see what armed activities might achieve. The armed groups are long on bombast but short on competence. The criminal gang currently raiding ATM’s puts them to shame in terms of an ability to mount military style operations and get the job done. Their efficiency is so impaired, that republican gun culture is regarded by virtually no one as an armed campaign. There is certainly no war, just a few incidents here and there, now and then. A rain dance will get better odds on ending the current sunny weather than armed republican actions will on securing the end of British involvement in Ireland.

It is all very well for Gerry Adams to wring his hands in a gesture of faux republican piety and assert that the killers of Lyra McKee are not the IRA. They are not his preferred IRA, but the IRA being a tradition rather than a property, they are the IRA and they draw on a logic created by all of us who were in the ranks of the Provisional IRA, including Mr Adams. We cannot use Easter to Pontius Pilate-like wash our hands of responsibility through bequeathment. We provided the intellectual and ideological template which is the backdrop to the events on Derry on Thursday night. Our IRA had no more right to shoot dead 29 year old Joanne Mathers than their IRA had to shoot dead 29 year old Lyra McKee. And if we continue to persist with the pretence that the many deaths at the hands of our IRA made the limited gains of the GFA worth it, that we somehow were not frustrated in our endeavours, we merely feed into their IRA's view that we are charlatans, pissing down their backs and telling them it is raining.

Our IRA needs to tell their IRA that we failed outright on the defining republican question of expunging Britain from Ireland and that they will do the same. Despite the political career building and incessant dissembling of our leadership, we failed not because we chose to but because we set ourselves an imposssibilist goal. At the heart of our armed struggle discourse was an irrepressible contradiction: in fighting for an Ireland that rejected us, we were fighting against Ireland. We had either forgotten or ignored Connolly: "Ireland without her people is nothing to me." While we did not realise it back in the day, caught up in the maelstrom of the times, doing what was done to Lyra McKee writ large, we made the wrong call in going to war in pursuit of the unwinnable. The fate of Lyra McKee, a personal friend, is not the first time I have had cause to reflect that we rose up to right a wrong, and in the course of righting that wrong we violated too many rights ourselves. We did more harm than good.

None of that relieves the leadership of the New IRA of its culpability. It alone, in the here and now, regardless of what went before, has to take full responsibility for the actions of those who fired the shots in Derry. It procured and counselled, provided access to weapons in a built-up area, and told seemingly much younger people that what they might do with those weapons was legitimate. A significant number of people were clearly milling around the PSNI vehicles. Firing wildly into their number was wanton negligence. Baleful enough as it was, Derry can only be grateful that the PSNI desisted from returning fire otherwise Lyra McKee might not have been alone in the city’s morgue.

A life lost and possible life imprisonment for the young people involved, nothing positive emerged. The New IRA leadership, Saoradh's cringingly embarrassing statement notwithstanding, shamefully stands alone in the dock. It cannot claim to have been sans forewarning that the likelihood of this type of disaster was imminent given how close the bombing of a Derry street in January came to massacring many of the city’s youth. It knew and did not care. It remained prepared to work on the assumption that it has the right to kill people by mistake and not to be made accountable for it: not arrested, not jailed, not hauled in front of the Derry community without its mask to explain itself   – just left free to do the same again. It is seriously mistaken if it thinks the people of Derry or further afield are going to confer onto it that power of life and death over them and their children.

Lyra McKee did not believe in dying for Ireland. She was an advocate of people living long enough to see it get better. Somebody else decided that Lyra or whoever else was standing in a fairly crowded street would have the dubious honour of being burned at the stake by those who proclaim no one is a  bigger defender than me. Much like the religious zealots intent on practicing their kooky rituals on others against their expressed wishes, coercive republicanism practiced its homicidal trade on her.

One unassailable and inalienable right of every Irish citizen is to be protected from the threat to life posed by homicidal republicanism and its infernal gun culture. Repressive republicanism is not radical republicanism. Radical republicanism at its core values the sovereignty of the people, the absolute right to reject the absolutism of the gun.

The republican brotherhood have butchered our sister and are to be abjured for having done so. Ours is the mark of pain, theirs the mark of Cain.

Lyra McKee - Right Killed By Wrong

Valerie Tarico suggests there is more to the Easter bunny than people might think.

For most of Christian history, those furry little creatures were associated with queer sex, not chocolate.

Easter may be a Christian holiday, but many of its most delightful traditions have pagan or pre-Christian roots. Spring equinox has long been celebrated with symbols representing fertility and regeneration of life, and Christendom has embraced many of these despite their naughty history. Consider the Easter rabbit.

You may have heard that rabbits got associated with Easter as the companion animal of the Teutonic fertility goddess Eostre (also Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos), who gave the holiday its German and English names. In some versions of the tale, Eostre turns a colorful bird into a celestial rabbit or hare but allows the creature to return to earth each spring to hide brightly-colored eggs. The earliest existing mention of Eostre is found in the writings of the Venerable Bede, in the 8th Century, and no earlier archeological evidence exists or associates such a goddess with a rabbit or hare. (Hares are members of the same lagomorpha family as rabbits, but larger with longer ears and above ground nests.) So, Eostre may be a medieval invention, with details including her familiar animal fleshed out later.

Adolf Holtzman, in his 1874 book, Deutch Mythologie, linked the Easter rabbit with Eostre, but only by way of speculation: “The Easter Hare is inexplicable to me, but probably the hare was the sacred animal of Ostara; just as there is a hare on the statue of [the Celtic goddess] Abnoba.” His speculation appears to be based on comments made a half century earlier by folklorist Jacob Grimm.

The linkage of rabbits to Eostre may be tenuous, but other connections are more clear. When it comes to traditional symbolism, hares and rabbits are deliciously wicked—and no, I’m not talking about binging on chocolate rabbits even though candy makers produce some 90 million of the tasty critters every year.

Rabbits are prolific breeders, with a single female capable of producing as many as a dozen offspring monthly; something that didn’t go unnoticed by our ancient ancestors. The saying humping like bunnies is a modern take on the longstanding pairing of rabbits with fertility, prolific sexuality, sensuality, or sexual desire. Ancient writers including Aristotle, Herodotus and Pliny noted the rabbit as a particularly fertile animal.

Greek art connected the hare with Aphrodite, goddess of love, and with Eros—who was depicted on pottery with a lyre and a hare. Some vases depict a man gifting a hare to a younger man as a symbol of their mutual affection. The same relationship of hares with sexual intimacy appears in literature. In the second century comedy Eunuchus, by Terence, one male character says to another, “What are you saying, impudent creature? You are surely a hare and you seek flesh” (3.1.35–36). Thus, the hare is associated with sexuality broadly and with homosexual intimacy in particular.

Adding to this heritage from classical antiquity, other threads of history also may have contributed to the Western pairing of rabbits and hares with sexuality. The Latin name for the European rabbit or cony is cuniculus and the Latin name for vulva is cunnus, creating a natural association even though the words are not etymologically related. In Jewish law, rabbits and hares are forbidden food, unclean, which may have made it natural for scripture-obsessed Christian theologians to associate them with their own taboos, which centered more on sexuality than food.

As Roman Christianity spread across Europe, artists used white rabbits as symbols of fertility or virginal purity. A white rabbit painted at the feet of Mary, for example, is thought to represent her triumph over lust.

Conversely, hares got associated by the Catholic church with sex acts that were contra naturam meaning non-procreative. Clement of Alexandria (150-215CE), the first Church Father to proclaim that all sex must be procreative, pointedly condemned the ambiguous sexuality of the hare, which was said to grow a new anus each year. Clement interpreted the Jewish prohibition against eating meat from hares as a prohibition against pederasty.

Medieval Christians associated hares with witches; a hare might be either a shape-shifting witch or her familiar animal. Witches themselves represented unbridled female sexuality, wild, promiscuous and dangerous because it was uncontrolled by men or the Church. Sexual energy was seen as spiritual power, and the flip side of the witch’s erotic (evil) spirituality can be seen in the writings of Santa Teresa de Avila, which channel sexual energy into mystic euphoria. It’s a short hop, then, from associating rabbits with sex and fertility to associating them with the revelry of spring equinox and Christian celebration of resurrection. The positive and negative associations—those that the Church condemned and those that the church embraced—are intimately entwined.

The earliest existing mention of rabbits specifically associated with Easter can be found in a German source from the 16th or 17th century, within a context of folk religion. The tradition of an egg-hiding Osterhase (Easter rabbit) got carried to Pennsylvania by 18th century German immigrants and then spread across the country. By the end of the 19th Century, the Easter rabbit’s colorful eggs were explained by the magical story of Eostre and the bird turned rabbit.

The eggs themselves are, of course, another symbol of fertility. Depending on your preferences, egg decorating may have reached its pinnacle in Russia, in the jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs given as gifts among royalty, or in the painstaking Bohemian folk art known as kraslice.

Superstitions and folk traditions flow, evolve, and mingle as religions borrow elements from those around them or those which came before. Whether the process is called syncretism or appropriation or simply cultural evolution, borrowing and remixing is the way in which social institutions naturally take shape. Today the celebration of Easter includes elements from across Europe and the Ancient Near East, shaping even the resurrection narrative itself—and American additions have flowed back across the waters. As stories and traditions get passed from person to person, symbolism changes and new meanings and stories arise.

Today, Easter remains a sacred holiday for many Christians, while for others—especially children—it is simply an excuse for revelry, surprises and sweets. But through it all, the holiday remains anchored to pleasure, love, fertility, and—after the dark of winter and mud of early spring—the emergence of new life symbolized by chicks, eggs, tulips, green grass and, of course, rabbits.

Valerie Tarico
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington.  

She writes about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society.

Easter Bunnies Are More Deliciously Wicked Than You Might Think

A Morning Thought @ 334

Sean Bresnahan writing over week ago thinks the republican struggle is in a quandary.

Acceptance of the status quo, and with it the political means and mechanisms allowed for by the status quo to alter the status quo, has never been more deeply rooted in Ireland, both north and south — an imposing strategic conundrum for those whose object is to restore the Irish Republic.

The reason for this, in the main, is that the Irish Republic has been ruled out in advance as an outcome of the established political process — of the means it provides for to effect ‘Irish Unity’ (or more accurately what it is prepared to countenance as Irish Unity).

Coupled with widespread acceptance of that process, among those who Republicanism needs to support its intended process of change — which rivals that of the status quo — the Republican struggle is in a quandary, from which there are no obvious means at hand to escape the difficulties faced.

It is for this reason that Republicans are being pulled away from our core ideological function and purpose — which is to uphold the sovereignty and unity of the Republic and its right to proceed unfettered — towards all of the campaigns and initiatives now surrounding the struggle but which, of themselves, are outside of that core function and purpose.

Involvement in such initiatives, while worthy ventures in their own right often — and not necessarily, then, to be dismissed or not partaken in — absent an acute focus on the Republican object are symptomatic of our political failure and point towards the ultimate collapse of the Republican struggle.

It is there where lies the ‘defeat’ of Republicanism, not in the failure to secure outright military victory as pointed to by many in the fold — ‘defeat’ in inverted commas because, while the struggle for the Republic is upheld by even a respectable minority, we are merely down and not out.

Given that the Army — recognising that in winning the political war lay the path to ultimate victory — stood aside to make way for the required ‘new phase’, so long as there are those still set towards the Republic, as their intended political object, then we have not been defeated.

As Brexit and demographic change in the North speed new and unheralded political opportunities, it is on building that ‘new phase’ and process — towards arriving at the Irish Republic — where the Republican lens must concentrate. Fail to focus accordingly and our defeat, long heralded, might just be sealed. A moment of reckoning is upon us.

Sean Bresnahan, Chair, Thomas Ashe Society Omagh blogs at An Claidheamh Soluis

Follow Sean Bresnahan on Twitter @bres79

‘Moment Of Reckoning’ Upon Us