A dated but relevant piece from An Sionnach Fionn on the RIC.

On Friday the 26th of November 1920, Patrick Loughnane, aged twenty-nine, and his younger brother, Harry, aged twenty-two, were labouring in the fields near their mother’s home in Shanaglish, County Galway, carrying out the arduous work of threshing corn for the autumn harvest. With them were a dozen or so neighbours, families working together as a cooperative during the late farming season, gathering and feeding corn into a hired, steam-driven threshing machine. 

While their siblings had left the region to find employment elsewhere, some emigrating to the United States and Britain, the Loughnane boys had stayed with their widowed parent to tend the family’s small patch of land in the west of Ireland. Patrick, a fine athlete and hurler, was the elected head of the local cumann or party branch of Sinn Féin while his studious, bookworm brother functioned as it’s secretary. Both men were also serving volunteers or citizen-soldiers of the insurgent Irish Republican Army, the older brother becoming a company commander in the local parish of Beagh.

Though their unit had seen relatively little action in the proceeding two years of resistance against the United Kingdom’s military and civil forces on the island, Patrick had participated in the Castledaly Ambush near the town of Gort on the 30th of October 1920, when one member of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), the UK’s omnipresent gendarmerie, was killed and four others were taken temporary prisoner. In response the RIC had murdered a local woman, twenty-three year old Ellen Quinn, who was heavily pregnant at the time, in the area of Kiltartan and burned a number of houses and outbuildings.

Continue reading @ An Sionnach Fionn.

The Torturers And Murderers Of The Royal Irish Constabulary

George Monbiot is less than impressed by boarding schools.

Boarding school, a peculiarly British form of abuse, has devastating impacts not only on the boarders, but on those they grow up to dominate.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 7th November 2019

There are two stark facts about British politics. The first is that they are controlled, to a degree unparalleled in any other Western European nation, by a tiny, unrepresentative elite. Like almost every aspect of public life here, government is dominated by people educated first at private schools, then at either Oxford or Cambridge.

The second is that many of these people possess a disastrous set of traits: dishonesty, class loyalty and an absence of principle. The current Prime Minister exemplifies them. What drives him? What enables such people to dominate us? We urgently need to understand a system that has poisoned the life of this nation for over a century.

Continue reading @ George Monbiot.

The Unlearning

From the Irish Independent: A senior cardinal who moved to protect the Vatican by restricting access to church records during inquiries into allegations of clerical sex abuse has resigned. 

By Wayne O'Connor
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Sodano as Dean of the College of Cardinals, some of the most senior advisers to the pontiff. The college also convenes to elect new popes.

The Vatican said the 92-year-old Italian stepped down because of his "advanced age". Cardinal Sodano had served as Vatican Secretary of State for 15 years before succeeding Joseph Ratzinger as dean of the college when he became Pope in 2005.

Last year former president Mary McAleese described a meeting that she had with Cardinal Sodano as "one of the most devastating moments" of her presidency.

The pair met during a state visit to Italy in 2003. During the private meeting, Ms McAleese said the cardinal tried to seek an agreement that would see church documents protected by the church and State. Ms McAleese said she interrupted the conversation, saying it could not continue.

At the time the church was the subject of two high-profile inquiries in Ireland. The Ryan Commission was investigating the treatment of children in industrial schools and the Ferns Inquiry was examining clerical child sex abuse.

Ms McAleese said it was clear during their exchange that Cardinal Sodano wanted to protect the Vatican and church archives. 

Continue Reading @ The Irish Independent.

Cardinal Who Sought To Protect Records From Sex Abuse Inquiry Resigns



A Morning Thought @ 597

From People And Nature Extinction Rebellion (XR) Scotland is appealing to North Sea oil workers to support a “just transition” away from oil and towards an energy system based on renewable electricity.

By Gabriel Levy

“The current oil and gas workforce can and should be redeployed to replace the fossil fuel that we can no longer afford to produce”, says XR Scotland’s appeal to communities in the north-east of the country that are dependent on oil. “Without a just transition to renewable energy from sun, wind and wave, we are fucked.”

There’s no better way forward for XR than seeking alliances of this kind, in my view. So here’s the whole text of the leaflet. (And if you want to print some off and distribute them yourself, here’s a PDF version.)

Do you think you have skills that could be transferred to the renewables energy industry? YES □ NO □

Do you think that the entirety of the estimated 20 billion barrels of fossil fuel under the North Sea should be produced? YES □ NO □

Do you believe the planet can survive global hydrocarbon reservoirs being drained? YES □ NO □

XR protest. Photo from XR Scotland Facebook page

Do you have children and/or grandchildren? YES □ NO □

Did you think last year, that we would be experiencing a massive fire threat to the Amazon and the Arctic regions, and the loss of the Arctic Sea ice? YES □ NO □

Are you interested in getting involved in the campaign for a planned and just transition to the renewables?

contact neil.rothnie@gmail.com. I’ll put you in touch.

Demand a Just Transition to renewable energy

Both the UK oil industry and government seem to think that new licenses should be issued and oil and gas exploration on the North Sea stepped up. The industry estimates that 20 billion barrels of fossil fuel remain under the North Sea. No one in authority seems to think that these reserves should not be fully exploited.

This begs the questions:

► If a policy of business as usual is to be applied to the North Sea, why then should Saudi Arabian, Gulf of Mexico, Venezuelan, Sakhalin [Russia], Nigerian and other hydrocarbon reserves not also be fully exploited?

► What would the effect of producing all the world’s oil and gas be on global warming and climate change?

The Scottish Government seem to be prepared to try and lead us to an independent Scotland based on a carbon economy. According to the First Minister, Scotland’s carbon emissions would increase if oil production from the North Sea was stopped. This only makes any kind of sense if there is to be no transition to a renewable energy system to replace fossil fuel from the North Sea.

Despite government complacency, the oil industry will come under increasing pressure – financial and political – to reduce and eventually end hydrocarbon production, though perhaps not till it’s too late to avoid catastrophic climate change if the politicians and industry leaders have their way.

The past practice of both oil industry and government suggests that the workforce, offshore and onshore, will then be abandoned to their own devices, creating the sort of wilderness in the North East of Scotland that the UK coalfields became when there was no just transition from coal. Energy workers and their families from all over the UK would then be very badly affected. Though this time it looks as though they won’t suffer in isolation if climate science predictions are realised.

Police reverting to type on an XR protest. Photo: XR Scotland Facebook page
The unjust transition from coal wasn’t inevitable. The miners and their families were punished for standing up to Thatcher’s plans to cripple organised labour. Offshore employers wanted anyone but ex-miners with their tradition of struggle, on the North Sea, and the unions failed to step up to the mark.

This time it has to be different for everyone’s sake.

A just transition to renewable energy could be planned and enacted starting now. New oil and gas exploration could immediately be stopped and a planned rundown of hydrocarbon production and a massive development of renewable resources begun now.

Not a penny of the oil windfall has so far been saved for the peoples of the UK. Is it not now imperative that all (declining) oil profits must be immediately re-invested in developing the renewables energy sector?

Retraining of the oil industry workforce is a must where there is an expected skills gap in a much-expanded renewables sector. The current oil and gas workforce can and should be redeployed to replace the fossil fuel that we can no longer afford to produce. Without a just transition to renewable energy from sun, wind and wave, we are fucked.

Our children and grandchildren deserve more from us than business as usual. They and the rest of the remaining life on the planet need a chance of a future that does not include the misery of living through a global meltdown.

==

That appeal to oil workers and their communities was written by Neil Rothnie, who has been active in Extinction Rebellion Glasgow. He is now retired, having spent his working life on the North Sea, in the oil industry. He participated in trade union activity there and, in particular, founded the rank and file newspaper Blowout in 1988, after the Piper Alpha disaster.

After Neil circulated the appeal, another friend of ours asked him how confident he was of this approach. He answered:

Can XR achieve a shutdown of fossil fuel production and a “Just Transition”? Not with its current forces – not permanently anyway. Not without mass popular support, I suspect. Will the offshore workers play a role? I hope so!

Can we avoid this confrontation in the oil capital of Europe, rely on market forces, disinvestment in oil, the migration of the oil industry to the renewable energy industry, and all without conflict? I can’t see it.

If we allow the industry and the UK and Scottish Governments to pursue their “business as usual” agenda and produce every drop of the estimated 20 billion barrels that remain under the North Sea, then there are no grounds for suspecting that anything other than a similar policy will be pursued in every other oil nation on the planet. If the fight starts here, there is every reason to be optimistic that it will find a resonance in China, Russia, and who knows, even in Saudi Arabia.

It’s never been easier, in my opinion, to see what has to be done. And a force has emerged that would seem to be capable of igniting that struggle, whether we consider that force to be even part of the working class or not. Anyway! It’s the only rebellion in town. Maybe it will become more identifiable as part of the “working class” as the struggle develops and new forces enter that struggle.

What’s the alternative? I’m very afraid for my own granddaughters’ future negotiating a dying planet with all the misery that that’s going to entail.

The best hope here is that XR will give a sharper cutting edge to the demand for just transition. The issue has been taken up by the Scot.E3 group, which has issued a Climate Jobs Manifesto, and seeks to unite trade unions, community groups and political parties. They are holding a conference in Edinburgh on 16 November (details here). At national and international level, Trade Unions For Energy Democracy has long been putting these arguments to union organisations (see a report of their recent meeting in the UK here).

There’s nothing like some direct action to complement these efforts. GL, 5 September 2019.

More to read on North Sea oil

■ A report published earlier this year by Oil Change International, Platform and Friends of the Earth Scotland, “Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs and Managing the Phase-Out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction”, is worth reading. It shows how the UK government provides massive tax breaks to the multinational oil companies working on the North Sea, while doing nothing to prepare for a just transition in communities.

■ There are plenty of insights on the history of workers’ organisation on the North Sea in a big interview Neil Rothnie gave to People & Nature in 2013, and in the archive of Blowout, the rank-and-file workers’ newspaper.

XR protest in Glasgow. Photo from Neil Rothnie


⏭ Keep up with People And Nature.

XR Call For Just Transition From North Sea Oil To Renewable Energy

The fightback begins on 8 February! That should be the battle cry of Christian voters across the Republic on polling day for the next Dail, argues political commentator, Dr John Coulter, in his latest Fearless Flying Column today.

Every person - and I mean every person - who calls themselves a Bible-believing Christian and is registered to vote on 8 February should make it their spiritual duty to go to the polling booth and vote for pro-life candidates.

I certainly do not think outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had my youngest son’s 25th birthday in mind when he called the 8 February Dail General Election, but it could turn into ‘Super Saturday Birthday Party’ for the Christian Churches if they play their cards rights and mobilise their flocks.

The Christian faith in the South of Ireland has taken a series of really damaging body blows in recent years. But 8 February represents the perfect opportunity for an unofficial Christian Coalition of TDs to emerge in the next Dail.

In the past, I have emphasised the need that if Christians cannot defend Biblical values using the route of traditional political parties, perhaps the time has come to form an all-island Irish Christian Party to represent the ideals of evangelical Christians.

At that time, Assembly elections were looming in Northern Ireland, so my call sparked quite a bit of debate, especially on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme.

Needless to say, to get my idea of an Irish Christian Party up and running with candidates selected for every constituency across the 26 Counties is realistically beyond reach. So what’s the Plan B for evangelical Christians in the Dail showdown?

A reality check is needed first. How serious is the situation facing evangelical Christianity in the Republic, given that at one time, the South was seen as one of the strongest bastions for Catholicism outside of the Vatican?

For Christians, Southern Ireland is now one of the most liberal democracies and secular societies in Western Europe. The various clerical and sexual abuse scandals which have rocked the Catholic Church in Southern Ireland, along with referenda defeats for Biblical Christianity on same-sex marriage, divorce and abortion have placed the Republic well on the road to being branded a staunchly pluralist society. How - and even can - the evangelical Christian faith hit back?

In the Catholic Church, it is fair to conclude that the power of the Irish Bishops has been irreparably smashed. Gone are their glory days when leading politicians like Eamon de Valera would have consulted the Bishops’ views before making speeches and passing legislation.

For a start, there is so much theological infighting in the Christian faith, that getting a common agreed manifesto would even be an achievement in itself, let alone getting the Christian voters out on 8 February.

However, there is one area where Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists and socially conservative Christians can agree - the need to protect the unborn child. For Biblical Christianity, life begins at conception, not birth.

The Churches need to get the message across to their flocks - quiz the candidates in your constituency where they stand on the rights and protection of the unborn. That could see some unusual voting trends across the 26 Counties.

While polls may predict that the majority of TDs from a single party in next Dail coming from either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail, a coalition government is the most likely final outcome. But surely there must be candidates from across the political spectrum who believe passionately in the rights of the unborn?

No matter what their party affiliation, think of how the Christian faith can be politically ‘reborn’ if the majority of TDs in the next Dail were pro-life? That could form the basis of a Christian Coalition in Leinster House in the same way as the Moral Majority exercises political influence in the United States.

This is not to suggest that the fringe pro-life party, Aontu, will make sweeping gains across the 26 Counties, but the party could win enough seats to make it a strong contender for a post as a minority partner in a coalition government.

With Brexit looming on 31 January - just days before the Dail poll - the border constituencies could play a vital role in shaping the next Dail. Boris Johnston’s Tory Government may be spinning the political yarn about ‘no hard border’, but could such a pipe dream become an economic ‘hard border’ reality as we get deeper into 2020?

In this scenario, voters in Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Leitrim - the Southern counties which geographically border on Northern Ireland - will play a vital role.

Ironically, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald’s suggestion that a united Ireland could host Twelfth celebrations could backfire badly on the republican movement.

Those four border counties all host very active Orange lodges, and the annual pre-Twelfth ‘Donegal Dander’ at the coastal village of Rossnowlagh is steadily becoming one of the best-attended and most popular demonstrations in the Orange calendar.

If the Protestant Loyal Orders were to mobilise their members and supporters in those four border counties to vote for pro-life candidates of whatever political shade, it could tip the balance in favour of either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael in terms of the final make-up of the next coalition government.



Perhaps a step too soon for the Loyal Orders and evangelical Protestant denominations in the Republic for the 8 February election would be the creation of an Irish Unionist Party to contest border constituencies - but it could be on the ‘to do’ list for a post Brexit Ireland.

There can be no doubting that Brexit will isolate Southern Ireland geographically from the rest of the European Union, perhaps even economically heralding another collapse in the so-called Celtic Tiger economy.

If that becomes the case, evangelical Christians and the four Southern border County Orange lodges should campaign for either Irexit (the Republic following the UK out of the EU), or the Republic joining the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association of nations, or even the Republic leaving the eurozone and reintroducing the Irish punt.

But this is a long-term Plan B. The immediate strategy for Christians in the Republic is for 8 February - to form a Christian Coalition in the next Dail comprised of TDs who are strongly pro-life.


Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter

Listen to Dr John Coulter’s religious show, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.30 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM, or listen online at www.thisissunshine.com

Time For Southern Christian Coalition To Flex Electoral Muscles


A Morning Thought @ 596

Anthony McIntyre gave a talk in November at the Political Studies Association of Ireland which was held in Maynooth. 

Marisa McGlinchey’s excellent book Unfinished Business has given the kiss of life to a corpse in terms of once again generating serious intellectual interest in dissident republicanism. Over the years there have been other solid and informative works by writers like Martyn Frampton, John Morrison, John Mooney, John Horgan and Paddy Hoey, for example, but none seem to have ignited the public imagination quite like this one. 

I have commented to Marisa that it is testimony to her patience and resilience that she could sit for so long and listen to it all: the theological-type dogma, the genuinely self-indignant expressions that others do not see the light, the self-righteousness, the contempt for democracy or the popular will, the mantras, the same old, same old. These days, to me, it is like listening to detailed sketches of the bone structure and diet of the unicorn.

The stamina of the author of Unfinished Business is remarkable. A deeply insightful piece of work, it brought into the public arena plenty of heat from the interviewees, but in terms of strategic acumen or vision, absolutely no light whatsoever. And had it existed, I am sure Marisa would have found it.

Had it not been for that work by Marisa McGlinchey, I doubt I would have been sufficiently motivated to talk about armed republicanism. But having had a reaffirmation by the book of my view of the useless violence employed in the service of armed republicanism, here I am.

In Drowned And The Saved Primo Levi distinguishes between useful and useless violence. The twin concept has merit when applied to modern physical force republicanism. Whatever ethical hang-ups people have about the campaign of the Provisional IRA, its limited political outcome measured against the stated goals of the organisation nevertheless show that its violence had some political use value.

This type of observation about the efficacy of republican violence is just that. To observe is not to diminish the serious ethical concerns about the use of violence. Useful violence is not by any stretch of the imagination good violence, just useful in terms of some strategic purpose being served. Levi, although a survivor of the concentration camps of World War 2, for this reason considered the Nazi gassing of Jews as useful. It furthered the Nazi objective. It hardly needs said that he did not approve. Other Nazi practices - violence deployed for the gratification of the guards - was considered useless violence: "occasionally having a purpose, yet always redundant, always disproportionate to the purpose itself."

Much of the Provisional IRA armed struggle might be best categorised as useful violence. It was not just something that produced nothing other than political careers for some of its key leaders. It was an instrument for progress, even if not the far-reaching transformation envisaged by its members and supporters. The IRA’s armed struggle was an agency for change, although in the wake of the excellent BBC Spotlight compilation, A Secret History of the Troubles, we may be forgiven for thinking there were more agents than agency involved.

No such claim can be made on behalf of the utility of the violence employed by groups like the New IRA. In political terms they make absolutely nothing happen. They do not operate in a political vacuum, but independent of one. Or at least the political vacuum that does exist is not the cause of their existence or continued activity. With or without the political institutions, Brexit or a hard border, the New IRA and others of like mind would continue much as they are. As articulated to Channel 4 News earlier this week:

Regardless of the form of occupation, whatever kind of border there is, be it soft or so-called hard border – that’s irrelevant. We are talking about an illegal occupation here that means the IRA reserved the right to attack those who are upholding that illegal occupation along the border and elsewhere and the illegal partition that goes with it. And those who are upholding that.

Determined to persist in their rain dance, they are not driven by wider political considerations, make no effective political interventions, and serve up a discursive diet of self-referential shibboleths. The explicatory and exculpatory statements released by Saoradh after the death of Lyra McKee earlier this year seemed so far removed from reality, that even for republicans who had waged the Provisional IRA’s armed campaign, there was a cringingly embarrassing ring to them.

Jean Hatzfeld in one of his oral histories rooted in the Rwandan genocide reflects on this sense of disconnect. His research brought him face to face with Interahamwe members responsible for the mass killings of civilians. Hatzfeld talks of his dismay at the military theatre language deployed by one of his interviewees, where everything was laid out in terms of a serious military battle with fortified positions assaulted and taken, coupled with huge scale manoeuvres strategically put in place by both sets of military combatants. Hatzfeld merely commented something to the effect that the military framing was all so far removed from the wanton slaughter of babies at the heart of the interviewee’s military operations. While the New IRA is not remotely comparable to the Interahamwe in terms of genocidal intent, the ability to self-delude about fighting a war is wholly similar. Yet, the violence of the Interahamwe was useful in the sense outlined by Levi. The same cannot be said for the New IRA.

The New IRA is like a fish out of water in terms of timing, finding as Heraclitus did the practical impossibility of stepping in the same river twice, the raging insurrectionary torrent that had its source in how the British behaved while in Ireland rather than the fact of their being in Ireland, having become a trickle.

They possess no strategic awareness or military acumen. Unlike the Provisional IRA they lack the military capacity to effect political change and effectively admitted as much in a recent interview given to the Sunday Times by members of the New IRA army council. Which leaves it difficult to see how their violence can be anything other than useless.

During the Provisional IRA campaign had the British state faced the level of armed activity currently being mounted by the New IRA, the attitude would have been one of celebratory delirium. In 2008 I attended a book launch in London and listened to a senior spook tell his listeners that by the early 1990s, the IRA campaign had become so manageable that it no longer absorbed such huge amounts of government time. Yet it dwarfs anything the New IRA serves up and retained the potential to work towards some sort of political solution.

While far short of what the Provisional IRA campaign was ostensibly about, this reinforces the view that because it failed absolutely in terms of usurping the consent principle and expelling the British the likelihood of the New IRA succeeding with much fewer bangs and much fewer bucks in the same tracks where we saw the Provisionals come off the rails is highly fanciful.

Physical force republicanism occupies a space from which it can offer nothing but the "stupid and symbolic violence" described by Levi. A flavour of this is provided in the interview its army council gave to the Sunday Times.

We fully accept we cannot defeat the British militarily, or even drive them from Ireland, but we will continue to fight for as long as they remain here. The attacks are symbolic. They are propaganda. As long as you have the British in Ireland and the country remains partitioned, there will be an IRA. It doesn’t matter if the two governments imprison the current leadership, others will still come forward and fight. Being a member of the IRA was never popular … You ask, is this madness? There will be madness as long as there is armed occupation in Ireland.

Self-confirmed madness to the point that others seem to share it. It seems strange that three decades after the peace process began to be floated by armed republicans, two decades after the stated armed cessation by the dominant republican group, a decade and half after the same group announced its war was over, that the New IRA - the least effective, most incapable armed body in the history of any IRA - continues to grab the headlines.

Witness the large dose of alarmism from security circles about the level of threat. Stephen Martin, a senior PSNI figure, took to describing it as being at the “upper end of severe”. This in turn has helped feed into an amplification spiral in the media where the Pied Piper of Brexit is seen as having the awesome potential to take the peace into a tenebrous cave, where the cave dwellers wearing balaclavas will proceed to strangle it to death in some solemn republican ritual. Banner headlines appear trumpeting to the world that Brexit Will Be A Gift To Dissident Republicans In Northern Ireland. Even more sober commentators like Gene Kerrigan feel that:

the consequences of casual, reckless decisions by British politicians has opened possibilities for the "one more push" brigade. The only people unaware of the dreadful possibilities appear to be Her Majesty's ministers.

Truth is physical force republicanism has the capacity to effect no change with or without Brexit. Violence by its nature is always dangerous but it for the most part the violence of the New IRA is nuisance violence. It will not give rise to a crisis of transformative potential but can only hope, forlornly, to benefit from any that might emerge.

Shortly after the killing of Lyra McKee, the writer Eamonn McCann featured on Prime Time to make the case that NIRA and Saoradh regard themselves as the purist of the pure in terms of republican principles. No doubt a view genuinely held by McCann but it comes from perhaps listening to the rationalisation rather than addressing the facts on the ground.

Perhaps there are some in both bodies who are of such a disposition although I do not know who they are. While ostensibly opposed to the Good Friday Agreement as evidenced from the Sunday Times interview, enough within the New IRA remained with Sinn Fein while it slaughtered every sacred cow of republicanism: some only bolted after they had helped Sinn Fein arrive at its Suck The Truncheon moment when the party fell upon its knees before the PSNI with the promise to put manners on the force. The recent extradition of John Downey at the behest of the PSNI amply demonstrated who is daddy on the manners block. They ostracised, bullied and intimidated republicans critical of the Good Friday Agreement, on occasion expressing a desire to kill them. They simply could not get enough of the bull. If they were purist they would not have been with the Provisionals post 1986; if they were remotely Provisional republicans with their roots very much in the post 1969 insurrections in the North, 1998 would have been the cut-off date.

Anyone who stayed with the Provisional movement after the Good Friday Agreement is in a weak position to shout "sell-out" at others or hoist above their own head the Proclamation of 1916. So whatever motivates NIRA and Saoradh it is certainly not for the purposes of defending purist republican tradition.

By their very allegiances post Good Friday, they have denied themselves the comfort blanket of purist republicanism that might have allowed them to ague a continuation back to 1916.

So what do the New IRA bring in circumstances where there is in the words of Jonny Byrne “no ideological or political rationale."

An alternative view has been proffered which discerns an “emotional longing for the simplicities of the gun" as a means to allow people "to fool themselves they're at one with the heroes of old.” Fooling themselves seems to capture the essence of Levi’s coining of the term useless violence. Republican violence, if ever there are grounds for its application, should only be for the political advancement of the many and not for the psychological gratification of the few.

It might be suggested that there is a hyperdeveloped culture of honour to borrow a term from Stephen Pinker, more subcultural than political. When Saoradh members troop out of a Derry court in unapproachable and haughty fashion, shoulder to shoulder, trapped in their own isolated and insular space the resemblance is more to that of a cult than a mass movement. The contrast with the popular opposition on display in Catalonia this week towards judicial treatment of their leaders could not be greater. As the leadership of the New IRA pointed out to the Sunday Times it knows that the public will not protest if they are “all rounded up” by the security forces and imprisoned.

The leader of Saoradh, widely regarded as being the political face of the New IRA said shortly after assuming the leadership role within the party:

There was no organisation with people that had the political credibility, a revolutionary experience that could install any confidence in republicans to continue the fight for Irish reunification. Saoradh is absolutely necessary. Once there is an occupation of your country, Irish people have the right to oppose this occupation by whatever means necessary.

This type of vision with its nod to political credibility, which can only come via the attainment of popular support, was palpably absent from the actions around the killing of Lyra McKee. According to Stephen Pinker campaigns like that waged by the New IRA reach the “all rounded up” moment when they cross the line into depravity and turn all public sympathy to their victims. Instead of credibility here was useless violence which completely undermined the credibility of Saoradh. Even allowing for the political manufacture of bias and revulsion on a scale probably not seen since the 2005 killing of Robert McCartney, the head of opprobrium steam towards republican actions was significant. The barbaric killing of Paul Quinn by South Armagh republicans did not seem to reach the same level of intensity.

There is also another factor that underscores the uselessness of republican violence. The extent to which secularisation and the rebellion against traditional and unaccountable forms of authority in Irish society has arguably played a part in the alienation of armed republicanism is probably worthy of consideration, even if at present difficult to gauge.

Absolutism should be the antithesis of republicanism. As those structures who have relied on absolutism to enforce their writ have come to find their authority under increasing challenge both North and South it would indeed be strange if the societal mood were to be tolerant towards a new self-appointed and self-anointed committee of public safety claiming the right to wage war on their behalf.

So when armed republicans hark back to the need for observance of republican tradition they sound remarkably similar to and as relevant as the Bishop of Waterford & Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan, who seeks to have yoga and mindfulness prohibited in public schools.

If there is one salutary lesson that should have come out from the Provisional IRA war in the North it is an awareness of the dangers of using violence to achieve ends whether that violence is useful or useless. Useful violence should only be a measure of last resort, when all options run out and when it is a necessity driven unavoidable strategic imperative. It must never be the first and preferred choice born out of tradition.

Unfortunately armed republican necks are never craned far enough to be able to appreciate that the Provisional IRA’s most celebrated volunteer, Bobby Sands, was at the height of his power when using the most passive, not the most violent of tactics.

Useless Violence

From Progressive Secular Humanist some interesting claims from a new study. 

By Michael Stone

Religious conservatives in the Bible Belt search for online porn more than anyone else according to a new study published earlier this month.

The new study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior and produced by researchers from Canadian Universities, found that American states with more religious conservatives search more for sexual content on Google.

Researchers used Google Trends to analyze porn searches while linking state level information from Gallup polls asking about religious and political attitudes together with a variety of sex and porn-related search terms.

The following is an excerpt from the study’s Abstract:

(researchers) examined associations between state-level religiosity/conservatism and anonymized interest in searching for sexual content online using Google Trends (which calculates within-state search volumes for search terms). Across two separate years, and controlling for demographic variables, we observed moderate-to-large positive associations between: (1) greater proportions of state-level religiosity and general web searching for sexual content and (2) greater proportions of state-level conservatism and image-specific searching for sex.

While researchers caution that aggregate data can’t be used to draw conclusions about individual religious conservatives, there does seem to be a strong correlation between religious conservatives and the consumption of pornography.

For example, the Daily Beast reports:


Earlier this year, Homegrown Video announced the results of a six-month study on amateur porn demographics. Just under a third of all homemade sex tape submissions were created in the “Bible Belt”. Perhaps even more surprising is the increased female involvement. According to Homegrown Video owner Farrell Timlake, women are now submitting their own videos almost as much as men. Mind you these are not porn stars, just regular folks at home who film themselves for the world to see.

But perhaps even more interesting is the type of user-generated content coming from areas of the country some consider repressed. ‘We get so many interracial tapes from states that people would stereotype as being racially bigoted areas,’ says Timlake. ‘And that plays into the same thing: the more repressed it is, the more taboo it is, the more somebody is going to want to see it or touch that fire.’

In addition to the Homegrown Video study, numbers released last spring by Pornhub, one of the world’s biggest porn sites, indicates that folks in the Bible Belt watch more gay pornography than anywhere else in the nation:

… the majority of states with a high percentage of gay viewers is in the South. According to the numbers, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia lead the South in gay porn consumption, and the state with the highest percentage of gay porn viewers in the nation is Mississippi at 5.6%.

In concluding the study’s Abstract, the Canadian researchers offer “the paradoxical hypothesis that a greater preponderance of right-leaning ideologies is associated with greater preoccupation with sexual content in private internet activity.” 

While one can only speculate as to why there is such a strong connection between the consumption of porn and professed conservative Christian values, multiple reports indicate similar findings concerning the Bible Belt’s apparent voracious appetite for pornography. 

Bible Belt leads the nation in search for porn

Religious Conservatives Lead The Nation In Search For Porn




A Morning Thought @ 595

Enda Craig queries the logic of voter registration. 

When Irish citizens reach the age of eighteen years they receive notification from the office of their local County Council Electoral Registrar advising them they are about to be added to the draft voting register which will allow them to vote in elections.

In County Donegal there are 14 full time field workers whose job it is to identify and submit these lists of potential voters.

Additionally, all levels of politicians can submit lists of citizens they wish to have added and they too are written to and notified.

They are given time to refuse registration but in the event they do not respond they are automatically added to the register.

This in a nutshell is how the national electoral register is compiled.

This process is extremely important to the power of the state because once your name is added to the Electoral Register you are in fact handing over your complete power (consent to be governed) to be ruled in accordance with the provisions laid down in the 1937 constitution.

We are ruled by a De Facto system of government which means …  "existing or holding a specified position in fact but not necessarily by legal right "

In order for the state to have any legitimacy or international standing today this form of governance requires consent …  indeed the chief justice states that the legitimacy of the state is the "prescience and great assent of the Irish people".

This is accounted for by your registration to vote under the very specific terms of the current constitution …  your registration is your acceptance of the rules.

It is through this mechanism that the state derives its ultimate power.

This, for the state, is the all important bottom line ... you have consented to be ruled by the provisions of the 1937 constitution which contains no rights for the individual.. in fact you are legally a slave.

In attempting to explain that registration for voting is its true and only purpose the state now allows elections to take place giving the impression that the ' power' lies with the people and their elected politicians.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Elections are a meaningless side show and well explained in this short article: Ireland’s powerful, unelected forces who control decision-making

Speaking truth to power isn’t easy, neither is it rewarding in a country like Ireland whose own version of its Deep State appears entrenched and immune from a political system that remains mired in the shoe leather of constituency clientelism, selecting every few years those best at playing the local game to the national chamber in the uncertain hope that the long-term national interest will be served.

In truth, it matters not to the Irish Deep State who controls the Dáil chamber, so long as sufficient power rests outside it to allow the organism to fulfil its primary purpose, which is to survive and thrive.

You certainly won’t hear about it on the State broadcaster nor among the panels stuffed with net takers, university lecturers for the most part, who find it hard to accept their role in a Deep State which stood by while the worst parts of the last depression were privatised, namely the job losses and emigration that devastated the indigenous Irish economy and emaciated its private working poor and most indebted.

You won’t hear President Higgins name it and neither, sadly, are you likely to hear it in a media nervous of a litigious billionaire, nor among Ireland’s conventional political classes who live in perpetual fear of upsetting it. But it’s there in plain sight, just follow the money, power and privileges.


Government is a management agency hired to run the state.

The tender process is the election & the constitution is the terms that mean we pay whether they perform properly or not.

Most people do not give the process of voter registration a second thought as they believe that it is simply a requirement for the exercise of voting and nothing else.

To the state the actual percentage of voter turnout in any election is meaningless as it does not impact on the number of people registered from whence it derives it's power.

In truth, voter registration, is a cynical exercise in .... "Ruling By Fooling" …  which so far has worked perfectly.

A great explanation by Aileen Doysan.

Enda Craig is Donegal community activist.

Voter Registration Equals Ruling By Fooling