Ireland: IRSP members victimised in the South

In February five members of the IRSP were brought before a court in Dublin, a clear case of state harassment. It is an attempt to silence any left criticism within the Republican movement. We publish here three articles explaining what is behind all this and we call on all our supporters to support these comrades.

Editorial Statement of The Plough (13th March 2008)

The detention and vicious assault of five IRSP members in the 26-County state should be cause for alarm for all radicals and left wing activists throughout the state. Whilst obviously an attempt to kick down the moderate growth of the RSM is the south, it should also be seen by others as a shot across the bows; that they too can be arrested, stripped and beaten in the street, be smeared in the media and condemned by a senior Gardai officer on politically motivated, false charges.

Whilst some political groups rallied to support the 5 victims of state brutality, others were astoundingly indifferent to the situation. In a country where most know the price of everything yet the value of little, it is unsurprising that the general public didn't react, but the question needs to be asked; where was the CPI, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party etc., during all of this? Indeed some individuals showing their political sectarianism, have sided with the state, in online blogs, citing the dubious smoke and fire principal.

The democratic contradictions of Capitalism and Imperialism are being faced by us all in Ireland. In Mayo we campaign against multinational appropriation of our resources, in Shannon against our participation in global imperialist adventurism, across the country against the de-lapidated welfare system, in the North against imperialist partitionist domination. It is time that left groups around Ireland began to see the links in all of these issues and that an attack on one group within this framework of resistance sets a precedent for the treatment of all

The admission of Bertie Ahern that the southern state faces a tough economic future because of the US economic downturn echoes the reality in Westminster where Darling has fashioning his latest Budget with the restrictions opposed by Capitalisms latest slump. It also reaffirms our opposition to reckless and erratic Globalised Capitalism and its system of market forces that inevitably peak and slump.

Should the world sneeze when the US catches cold? We need to challenge our place in the global world order and begin to push for alignment with progressive states such as Venezuela, Cuba and Libya for example. Ireland's position, internationally, is one of sub-ordinance and dependence on savage imperialist capitalism.

Failure to question and resist this is as reprehensible as the silence of those who turn the other cheek when 5 Republican activists are arrested, brutalised and framed by corrupt state forces.

State Repression

Comrades from the IRSP appeared in court on Friday 29th of February charged with membership of the INLA. They were 42-year-old Edward McGarrigle, John McCrossan, 46, Gareth Dunne, 22, Gerard Kelleher, 26, and Neil Myles, 53.

Those are the only charges levelled against our comrades. However when they were arrested in a blaze of publicity all sorts of allegations appeared in the media.

UTV news item on the 23rd of February when they were first arrested said:

"Six suspected dissident republicans were being questioned by police today.
"the arrests were as a result of a prolonged investigation targeting serious crime and terrorist activity in the Cork city area."
"Gardai refused to detail the circumstances of the arrests and what the men had been doing - but it was understood a number of weapons were seized during the operation".

RTE on the same day reported:

"a number of weapons and paraphernalia are understood to have been recovered during the operation."

On the day they were charged the BBC said they were arrested,

"as part of an operation against an alleged kidnap plan."

The three-judge Special Criminal Court heard that, when charged, McGarrigle replied:

"I believe this is an unjust and unwarranted charge based on a Draconian law. I'm innocent of any charge which will be brought against me."

When the men appeared in court on the 29th of February Detective Superintendent Diarmuid O'Sullivan of the Garda Special Detective Unit carried on the propaganda war against the RSM. As the Irish Independent reported (Saturday, March 1st 2008),

"A kidnap and €1.6m extortion plot was masterminded by a wheelchair-bound INLA chief, Disabled Eddie McGarrigle, from Co Tyrone, orchestrated the botched ransom bid on a businessman in Cork last weekend which gardai foiled after a seven-month surveillance operation, the court was told."

Opposing bail O'Sullivan claimed that,

"he feared the suspected INLA men would flee the country, intimidate witnesses and continue INLA activity if freed."

Now as the men were charged with INLA membership only and as all that is required is for the judges to believe the word of a Garda officer what witnesses could be intimidated? Surely not a Garda officer?

And then how could they intimidate if they have already fled the country?

Seven months of alleged surveillance and the only charge they could come up with requires no evidence except one Garda's word.

Bail was granted to our comrades but with massive civil liberty restrictions intending to limit any political activity.

These charges are reminiscent of those brought by the brits during the seventies and eighties with the use of draconian powers which removed political activists from the streets by interning them in prison or remanding them on bail with such massive civil liberty restrictions that they cannot move from the house without fear of their bail being revoked.

The use of special powers by the Free State against Republicans is nothing new. However it is clear that a clear pattern is emerging in the 26-county state. Republican political activists are being demonised and harassed. Media frenzy is wiped up against those who do not conform to the aims and aspirations of bourgeois nationalist Ireland.

Precisely because of the political analysis and political activity of the IRSP and not the alleged activities of the INLA (whose ceasefire is solid) bourgeois nationalists fear the growth of those who utterly reject the capitulation to British Imperialist interests as represented by the Belfast and St. Andrews's Agreements. More and more republican political activists who had bought into that ‘peace process" pushed by the provisional leadership now are realizing that they were sold a pup!

The obvious pole of attraction for those working class militants is towards those who consistently correctly analysed the capitulation by nationalist Ireland and put forward a radical socialist alternative. That is why bourgeois Ireland wants to crush the IRSP.


Statement from Eddie McGarrigle

"Do not be influenced by the tripe you read in the right wing media regarding our recent arrest and subsequent charge of membership. In all the hours of questioning that we endured never once was it mentioned to us about tiger kidnapping, weapons etc. This tripe reported in the media should be viewed for what it is, an attempt by securocrats working to a political agenda to demonize, criminalize and demoralize the membership of the IRSM. No charges have been laid against any of us, which includes the two Dublin lads (who were released on bail), in connection to the lies planted in the media.

I want to put on record that the treatment that we all received whilst in custody was nothing short of torture. The Irish Government speak out and condemn human rights abuses in faraway places such as China and Iran, whilst their political police in the free state can carry out such acts without impunity, such hypocrisy. I myself was thrown out of my wheel chair onto the ground a number of times by a number of special branch interrogators, who took great delight in stamping, punching and slapping me in the head and body, whilst making sure that they had the camera turned off in the interrogation room. All the other lads suffered the same and more at the fists and boots of our torturers.

Eventually we were charged with membership of an illegal organization namely the INLA and remanded to Portlaoise Internment camp (The Irish Free States, Guantanamo Bay). A charge frequently used by the free state to intern Republicans-Republican Socialists. At our bail hearing in the Diplock Special Criminal Court, the state fiercely opposed bail to all of us.

Superintendent Dermot O'Sullivan was the main objector to bail, swearing under oath that the accused were involved in a conspiracy to extort money for the INLA from a businessman in Cork. When our legal team objected to O'Sullivan's evidence on the basis that none of us before the court were charged with any offence connected to evidence submitted by O Sullivan, one of the three judges quipped that he would allow the superintendent to continue with his evidence solely because

‘The state was alleging that the accused were members of the INLA and it was reasonable to ascertain that you don't join the INLA and do nothing. I like many others have read the newspapers in regards to reports of tiger kidnappings and seizure of weapons'.

How can anyone one of us expect any kind of justice when one of the judges on the bench comes out with such tripe?

Thankfully after a number of legal objections and arguments by our legal team, the three Judges in the Diplock Court set bail with stringent conditions and hopefully myself, John and Neil will be released in a week or so."

[The above statement was released on 2nd March. All the comrades have since got bail].

[Published in the E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, The Plough, Vol. 5, No 3, Thursday 13th March 2008, Web Site]

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