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Socialist Party replies to attacks in The Irish News

category antrim | worker & community struggles and protests | other press author Thursday June 18, 2009 12:37author by Gary Mulcahy - Socialist Partyauthor email socialistpartyni at btconnect dot comauthor phone 02890232962 Report this post to the editors

Letter below sent to The Irish News today

Dear Editor,
Fionnuala O’Connor and Newton Emerson (The Irish News, 18th June 2009) would be better off checking their facts before attacking people for standing up to racist attacks.

Fionnuala O’Connor obviously did not care to read the joint Socialist Party / Socialist Youth leaflet distributed to protestors on the Lisburn Rd on Monday 15th June. If she had, she would have seen that nowhere on the leaflet did it state the protest was a ‘Socialist Party NI demonstration’. The leaflet was a message of support to local residents who had turned out to take a stand against racists thugs.

Newton Emerson should be ashamed of himself for accusing members of the Socialist Party of being involved in a ‘sinister’ conspiracy for political gain. If it was not for the action of several members of the Socialist Party living on the Lisburn Rd, who played an excellent role in organising local residents to provide defence of the Romanian families, the lives of babies and innocent people would have been put in jeopardy. No attacks occurred on these families after defence was organised by local residents, a minority of whom were Socialist Party members.

It is regretful that some sections of the media have attempted to discredit local residents and the Socialist Party for standing up to thugs who have carried out vicious assaults and attacks, putting peoples lives in danger.

The Socialist Party will not be distracted however by cynical journalists who stand on the sidelines and choose to attack anti-racists and anti-fascists from a comfortable distance while families are being attacked by fascist groups.

The Socialist Party believes it is necessary to combat those who are attempting to build fascist organisations in Northern Ireland and who scapegoat migrant workers for the economic and social problems working class people face. Like Hitler in the 1930’s, these thugs are attempting to whip up racism against a vulnerable minority in order to promote their agenda which is to remove all democratic rights. The key to defeating this small minority of thugs is to mobilise local communities which is what the Socialist Party is currently engaged in.
Yours truly,
Gary Mulcahy,
Socialist Party

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author by antifapublication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Can somebody put up the articles in The Irish News referred to above?

author by Poradown Clergymanpublication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 16:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Emerson fancies himself as a comedian, but he isn't funny. He fancies himself as an outsider, but he is a pillar of the establishment. He uses his Irish Times piece to whack workers, union members, and public servants whenever he gets the chance.

His documentary of the "new towns" in the north was typical of him. Superficial, unfunny, unenlightened, and boring.

"The Socialist Party will not be distracted however by cynical journalists who stand on the sidelines and choose to attack anti-racists and anti-fascists from a comfortable distance while families are being attacked by fascist groups." Hear Hear!

Good luck to all the AntiFa involved up north.

author by Wpublication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 16:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is nothing more galling than cynical journalists sneering from the comfort of their plush homes on those who are at the boot end of opposing nascent fascism and racism.

What is more galling is the witless hack Newton Emerson. I vaguely recall him making one or two mildly amusing gags on the Portadown News site years ago.

He hasn't uttered anything relevant, funny, witty, prescient or insightful since then. He is certainly no Chris Morris or Charlie Brooker!

It is a complete enigma as to why he is indulged in the mainstream media to the extent that he is. He rails and rants in an offensive fashion against public sector workers, the working class, nationalists, socialists and more recently, women. He recently wrote an offensive piece about women that was thinly veiled misogyny masquerading as "satire" , even though it failed to elicit any laughs.

Indeed, I can only guess that Emerson is the token Unionist in the Irish News and Irish Times - "hey, we are down with the kids and the Unionists by hiring a unionists that isn't a dour, humourless fundamentalist presbyterian. Aren't we cool"

Reminds me of the way Steven King is wheeled out to by the Irish Times/RTE as the supposed hip and modern face of what is in fact a deeply reactionary, antedilluvian, flawed and failed political idealogy - unionism.

Newton should go back to his IT job (from which he was fired from) as he has nothing postive to contribute to the media sphere.

author by BelfastMetalpublication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 17:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Our consciences have been pricked
By Fionnuala OConnor

Never mind “not in my backyard”, it’s on the doorstep. If you live just off the Lisburn Road there is no hiding from the racism of south Belfast, the shadowed side of the city’s growing diversity.

A fortnight ago it was police raids to rescue apparently trafficked women from brothels, one

slap-bang on the Lisburn Road itself. This week’s shaming, miserable procession of people with their belongings on bicycles, away from houses with smashed windows and scorched doors, happened on both sides of the road.

BT9 became a desirable postcode a while back, with a lingering flavour of old-money Malone and a new top-dressing of big-spending Catholics.

More than 30 years ago when we moved in the woman opposite dashed to shake hands. News had got there before us. “You’re the second Catholic this end of the street,” she said. “I was the first.” (The streets around are loud now with Emers and Fionnualas.)

The Lisburn Road has become a brash symbol of new wealth, pretensions and excess jammed up against still-derelict blocks (bordered now by empty new developments). The resentments of the long-neglected loyalist Village simmer out of sight.

But at Monday night’s protest, when intimidation against Romanian residents made the news with the first catcalls and thrown bottles, the posters read: “Village Residents against racism.” Yet few carrying them seemed to be from the maligned streets off the Donegall Road. Wellesley and Belgravia avenues, scene of the latest attacks, are a far cry from the Village.

The most prominent poster-carrier admitted he lived on the Ormeau, though for a time he had lived in Wellesley Avenue – the kind of street, as he said, that leaves migrants vulnerable: no community spirit, a high proportion of transient renters.

The leaflets said it was a Socialist Party NI demonstration, “supporting local residents in opposing racist attacks... from members of far-right racist and fascist groups... blaming ethnic minority communities for social and economic problems – just as Hitler did with the Jews”.

Young Romanian women darted nervously in and out of the demonstration, speaking only to each other. Then Romanians clustered on one side of the road, demonstrators on the other.

A young man asked for names and phone numbers to set up a rapid-response network: uptake seemed slow. He picked up his megaphone and began chanting: Nazis, Nazis, Nazis, Out, Out, Out. The Romanian group found their own chant, “Fascisti, Fascisti”, some giving what looked like a Nazi salute. It looked like two opposed groups rather than one supporting the other.

Bottles smashed near the demonstrators. The police were slow to appear. Alliance supporters fretted and drifted away as the noise grew.

SDLP MLA Carmel Hanna, who had visited the Romanians attacked in Belgravia Avenue, went off with her notebook.

Unionist representatives were not to the fore on Monday. But then former Ulster Unionist assemblyman Esmond Birnie gained no credit in his party for speaking out against anti-Catholic agitation about incomers to Sandy Row’s first modern apartment-block. The senior local party representative, today’s minister for health, Michael McGimpsey, failed to defend the apartments – yards from his constituency office. It was good to hear his outrage yesterday at the latest attacks and racism generally.

New Alliance lord mayor Naomi Long said yesterday that migrants are part of the fabric of our city, deserving respect as citizens. Only some incomers are entitled to work, though; fewer again to the benefits many angrily imagine have been lavished on them.

One aspect of the problem on their doorstep defeats some Lisburn Road liberals. The scarved heads of Ireland’s Big Issues sellers peep out beside the priciest foodshops, the charity clothes shops selling the rejects of prosperous women. The Romanians, mostly women, who take up their positions on shop doorsteps six days a week say “no English, Romanisch” and shake their heads to all questions.

“It’s a tax,” says one aged resident, who cannot walk past without paying.

A magazine a day or let the seller keep the magazine and give her the minimum £2? Everyone on the road is not rich.

A neighbour admits he ducks through an alleyway to avoid the most sad-faced woman – and so do I. I am not proud of it.

Stakes too high to play games with city attacks
BY Newton Emerson

It is difficult to know how anyone can be a British patriot and a Nazi, given how British patriotism is defined by the defeat of the Nazis. It is particularly difficult to know how anyone can be a south Belfast loyalist and a Nazi, given the loyalist propensity for decking south Belfast in Israeli flags. But however grotesque, stupid and violent the cause or the effect, you can guarantee that some people will try to exploit it.

UPRG spokesman Frankie Gallagher, for example, reckons neo-Nazis would not be attacking Roma families if he was properly funded to take youth groups to Poland. Yes, Frankie wants to take the Nazis into Poland. Will they be packing their Israeli flags for that?

Self-styled anti-Nazis may also have been a little quick to jump on the bandwagon.

Journalists were notified about the attacks on Roma families in two streets near Queen’s University via email on Sunday night. This email said that “residents” were calling for a protest against the attacks and gave another name to contact for information.

On Monday afternoon a second email was sent from the same source on behalf of “local residents organising a protest”. It criticised the PSNI for “lack of action” and “feeding misinformation to the media”. The contact named in the previous email was now described as “one of the organisers of the protest”.

No doubt both the sender and the contact really are local residents who organised a protest. However, both are also active members of the Socialist Party of Northern Ireland (SPNI), formerly known as Militant and Militant Labour and not to be confused with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The sender of the emails was prominent in the SPNI’s We Won’t Pay Campaign against water charging, which also let its party political link go mostly unmentioned. The person named as “the organiser” came up through the SPNI’s youth wing, Belfast Socialist Youth.

If all this seems a little sinister then that is entirely the SPNI’s fault. Apart from its choice to be furtive, there is nothing sinister about it. The SPNI is legal, non-sectarian and pro-peace process. In fact, it is positively respectable compared to some ‘mainstream’ parties in Northern Ireland. Its southern sister party has just stood openly in local and European elections, securing six council seats and its first MEP.

I have not named the two “residents” here only because they do not seem to want to be publicly identified as SPNI members. However, I can see no reason why they are being so coy, beyond “feeding misinformation to the media” themselves.

There is more far-left activism in Northern Ireland than is generally realised, partly because the groups involved are very small but mostly because they operate through what might unkindly be termed ‘front companies’ of faux-spontaneous ‘popular’ campaigns.

The kindest explanation for this cloak-and-dagger nonsense is that it is simply the modus operandi of an eccentric political culture. Like most far-left parties in Britain and Ireland, the SPNI subscribes to a Trotskyist philosophy of furtive activism known as entryism (and not, disappointingly, furtivism) which means hijacking just about anything that might be about to turn left.

But there is a more ominous explanation for what is happening in south Belfast.

Far-right and far-left groups in Britain have been greatly energised by the election of two BNP MEPs. Socialist Party and SWP ‘front companies’ like Unite Against Fascism, the Anti-Nazi League and the National Assembly Against Racism are now calling for street confrontation in response, laying a rather dubious claim to the tradition which saw off Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts.

It appears that certain people would like to see the same excitement here. Unsubstantiated claims of Mein Kampf being pushed through letter boxes and the unusually assertive nature of the typically middle-class protests suggest manipulation all round.

In Britain these situations rarely get beyond a fist-fight. In Northern Ireland lethal escalation is almost inevitable. While the PSNI says the attacks in south Belfast are “not orchestrated” those responsible will have loyalist associations.

There is certainly a serious problem with youth behaviour in south Belfast and the authorities deserve to be challenged on their response. It was undeniably satisfying to see thugs heckled by protesters, however unwise that provocation.

But there are vulnerable people in the middle and dangerous people in the wings. Those playing student politics in student-land need to realise that this is not a game.

author by Bmpublication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 17:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Some more shite from a slugger o toole regular about the rally that kicked of.

4 This demonstrates the uselessness of the Socialist Party and Worker’s Solidarity Movement calling rallies and claiming to speak for communities.
About time some real leadership was shown to counter-act these racists’ elements instead of leaving it to tiny sects

author by Mark P - Socialist Party (personal capacity)publication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 19:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It never seems to have occurred to the intrepid Emerson that the reason the demonstration wasn't called in the name of the Socialist Party is that other people as well as the Socialist Party were involved in it too. Including politically unaffiliated people and people from Organise!. I doubt very strongly if they would have been impressed by the Socialist Party declaring ownership of the event.

It's also of interest that Emerson's article on the subject spends far more time criticising the people who organised to help the families subject to racist attack than it does the racist thugs or the PSNI, who did nothing to help. A wonderful sense of priorities on display there.

author by antifapublication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 19:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It was local residents who agreed to call a protest after consulting the Romanian families. Socialist Party members took the intitiative in this.

You really have to question the motivation of those who spend more time attacking people who are getting stuck in on the ground to take on fascists than taking any constructive action themselves.

Any ideas who wrote the comment?

author by Gary Mulcahy - Socialist Partypublication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 21:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One of the residents who organised a protest on Monday on the Lisburn Rd area of Belfast in defence of Romanian families has received a death threat.

The PSNI communicated the threat to Paddy Meehan who came to the assistance of Romanian families after racist attacks in South Belfast.

The message reads "Police are in receipt of anonymous information which states that persons unknown intend to firebomb the home of Patrick Meehan. This is believed to be connected to your recent involvement in protests about Romanian nationals."

Mr Meehan issued a statement tonight "This threat reveals the type of people who have been carrying out the racist attacks. They are a small hardcore group of fascists who are scapegoating immigrant workers to build a base of support. Hitlers Nazis were at one point a tiny minority who initially targetted ethnic minorities. Their aim is to take away all democratic rights. It is important that local communities are mobilised to defeat these groups now while they are small and that is exactly what I and other local residents are now determined to do."

author by workerpublication date Thu Jun 18, 2009 21:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Socialist Party and the WSM deserved our thanks for defending these people and putting their lives at risk in the process.

author by Bobpublication date Fri Jun 19, 2009 14:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You can read the latest on the threats to Paddy Meehan on the Irish Times website

author by Belfast Telegraphpublication date Fri Jun 19, 2009 15:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Paddy Meehan - Anti Fascist Campaigner
Paddy Meehan - Anti Fascist Campaigner

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