Friday, 26 October 2012

Dear All, Although I have not received an electronic version detailing the tree planting event in memory of Terence MacSwiney in Southwark, I have a hard copy of a letter addressed to Megan Dobney, Secretary of the South East Regional Trades Union Congress, from the Cork Association in London. If anybody needs a hard copy, please do not hesitate to contact me. Nevertheless, I will provide details from the letter itself in italics. The tree planting ceremony will take place on Sunday, October 28th at 1.00 pm in the Mary Geraldine Harmsworth Park, Kennington Road, London SE1. The organiser is seeking help in ensuring the participation of certain London Trade Union Councils in the event. The reasons are provided at the bottom of the page. "The two trees being planted have been donated to the London Borough of Southwark by the Cork Association. This donation will fill gaps in a fine collection of trees which chronicles the arrival of tree species in Britain at the end of the last ice age. This tree planting will take place after the Terence MacSwiney Mass held each year in the St. George's Roman Catholic Cathedral, which is situated close to the Harmsworth Park. This Mass takes place on the Sunday nearest to October 25th, the date when Cork's Lord Mayor died in Brixton Prison in 1920 as he entered the 74th day of a hunger strike. The Mass for Terence MacSwiney continued to be held in St. George's during the difficult period in Anglo - Irish relations which prevailed from 1968/1969 to the siging of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The Mayor of Southwark will plant one of the two trees and a representative of Cork City Council will be present at the event. The second tree will be jointly planted by two secondary school students from North Monastery CBS (Terence MacSwiney's old school in Cork) and two pupils from a Southwark Secondary School. The organiser stated in his letter that he would provide the reasons for the longstanding ties of friendship between the people of Southwark and Ireland which arise from events connected with the death of Terence Mac Swiney. Large numbers of Irish migrants settled in Southwark in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and contributed to the development of the area. This inward migration of Irish people continued into the twentieth century until the late 1960s. Particularly, close ties were forged between Southwark and Cork following the death of Terence MacSwiney. The MacSwiney family needed a large venue in London for obsequies connected with the death of the Lord Mayor. Bishop (later Archbishop) Peter Amigo kindly permitted Terence Mac Swiney's remains to lie in a state in St. George's Cathedral. The British government had urged Bishop Amigo to deny the MacSwiney family access to the Cathedral's facilities. However, the Bishop resisted this pressure pointing out that the Lord Mayor was a Catholic and entitled to the services of his church. Alderman George Alfed Isaacs, the Mayor of Southwark and a full time official of a print worker's trade union, led a party of four other London mayors as Terence MacSwiney's remains were taken in possession from St.George's Cathedral to Euston Station for the journey to Ireland. This participation of mayors from the metropolitan boroughs of Fulham, Lambeth, Poplar, Southwark and Stepney was a fine act of solidarity with the Irish people at a time when the two countries were locked in conflict. Bishop Amigo was indefatigable in his efforts to promote peace. He wrote letters to the London Times about untoward events taking place in Ireland and opposed Lloyd George's plicy of repression in the island. The Bishop urged the British government to enter into negotiations with the fledgling Irish administration with a view to settling the Anglo - Irish conflict. St. George's was destroyed by incendiary bombs during World War II and Irish people acknowledged a debt of gratitude when they helped in the post - war reconstruction of the Cathedral. Church gate collections were held throughout Ireland to help defray the cost of rebuilding St. George's - Irish people had not forgotten the friendship shown by Bishop Amigo to the MacSwiney family four decades previously and contributed gerously towards the cost of rebuilding of this English Cathedral. When St. George's was formally reopened in 1958 An Toiseach de Valera and Cork's Lord Mayor came to this event as did many other Irish dignitaries. The Brugha/MacSwiney family were, also, present at the reopening of St. George's and remain in contact with the Cathedral to this day. The Cork Association is keen to acknowledge the links between Southwark and Cork, and the forthcoming tree planting in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park will celebrate these bonds of friendship forged some ninety - two years ago. The Association would very much appreciate a message of support from SERTUC for this tree planting venture. The Association would, also, value your help in getting the active participation of the local Hammersmith, Lambeth, Souhtwark and Tower Hamlets Trades Union Councils because of the involvement of the labour movement in Fulham, Lambeth, Sothwark, Tepney and Polar in the 1920 procession which took Terence MacSwiney's coffin to Euston station. Dagenham and Barking have strong links to Cork because of the Ford facotry in metropolitan Essex and the Ford works in Ireland. It would be excellent if the Barking and Dagenham Trades Union Council could, also, participate in the forthcoming tree planting in Southwark. The Association is particularly keen to get the local trades union council banners present on display at the actual tree planting." Kind regards Austin Harney, Secretary of Barnet Trades Union Council

Friday, 12 October 2012

Dear All, I wish to enclose a statement from the Travellers' Solidarity Network as it be the first anniversary since the evictions of the Pavees and British Roma community from Dale Farm. Kind regards Austin Harney, Chair of CRAIC Fighting the Cuts. Just one week from today, we're taking action in solidarity with the families of Dale Farm, and Traveller families across the country who face racism and state violence wherever they go. Join us to expose the role the government plays in attacking Travellers' rights and criminalising entire communities. Friday 19th October, 1pm at Victoria Station, London Mass Action - Dale Farm Anniversary - Evict the Deparment for Communities and Local Government! One Year Ago, at dawn on 19 October 2011, hundreds of riot police and bailiffs stormed the Dale Farm Traveller community to carry out one of the largest and most brutal evictions in UK history. Eric Pickles’ Department for Communities and Local Government funded the Dale Farm eviction to the tune of £1.2 million. They are also leading the wholesale attack on Gypsy and Traveller rights, abolishing local government targets for the provision of sites and strengthening powers to evict through the Localism Act. It is time to fight back! Join the Traveller Solidarity Network's mass action to evict the Department for Communities and Local Government - the eviction to end all evictions! Share via Facebook: Contact for more information about helping out and crash space. Watch the promo video and read blog updates: Follow Traveller Solidarity on Twitter: @TravellerSol Thinking about coming to the action, but want to find out more? Come to the action briefing at for an overview and Q&As about the protest! Tuesday 16th October 8pm-8.30pm at Cuts Cafe, 1 Stamford St, SE1 9NT _______________________________________________ Travellersolidarity mailing list

Monday, 8 October 2012

Dear All, I enclose an article that I submitted to the Irish Post and the Irish World on the march that took place in Belfast on 6th October. Kind regards Austin Harney. A peaceful Trade Union march appealed to communities in the Shankhill and Falls Roads of Belfast. Despite the recent disturbances, Trade Unions organised a peaceful march in Belfast with a campaign group called "Youth Fight for Jobs" on Saturday 6th October. This demonstration intended to appeal to all working communities as one in five young people are unemployed due to the latest austerity measures. The march began with a rally at the Customs House Square in order to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Outdoor Relief Strike. There were a number of speakers at this rally from PCS, NIPSA, as well as Jim Kelly, General Secretary of UNITE in Ireland. During the thirties, many unemployed people were reduced to the level of begging "Guardians" (representatives of the rich) for poverty benefits (outdoor relief). But in October 1932, thousands of outdoor relief workers in Belfast went on strike, resulting in a riot that united Catholic and Protestant workers. After two weeks of struggle, the workers on the Falls and Shankhill Roads won significant concessions! Today, the march demonstrated the importance of this event by proceeding through the city centre and smoothly up the Loyalist district of the Shankhill Road. We saw only one armoured police vehicle and two motorcycles escorting us. But some of the passing cars in this Loyalist area sounded their hooters in support. We, then, stopped for ten minutes at the gates of the peacewall into the Nationalist area of the Falls Road. This occasion was to remember the two workers, one protestant and one catholic, who were killed by the police quelling of the riot. Afterwards, we walked down the Falls Road and finished with a rally at the City Hall. Much of the speeches denounced the austerity measures such as Workfare Scheme that is forcing unemployed young people into cheap or even free labour and undermining real jobs. These polices include cuts to education and attacks on workers' rights. No doubt, Trade Unions can play a key role in uniting workers of all communities against austerity in Northern Ireland! All Irish community groups in Britain, facing cuts, can, also, build on important events like this memorable one in Belfast! Austin Harney, Chair of CRAIC (Campaign for the Rights and Actions of Irish Communities) Fighting the Cuts.