PRESS RELEASE – Election of Liverpool’s Police and Crime Commissioner and the Irish Community


PRESS RELEASE

10TH NOVEMBER 2012.

Election of Liverpool’s Police and Crime Commissioner & the Irish Community

This coming Thursday’s Police and Crime Commissioner Elections in Liverpool provide the ideal opportunity for members of the Irish community to cast their vote in a positive manner that reflects this year’s continued attack’s upon Irish community parades/marches in Liverpool by far-right hate groups and members of Liverpool’s loyalist/orange community.

Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool call upon all candidates to make the following commitments in the wake of the increased threat from hate groups in the city against the Irish community:

1.       The rights of the  Irish community to assemble and organise lawful and peaceful parades/marches should be defended in the face of threats, attacks and intimidation by far-right groups and members of the loyalist/Orange community.

2.       No community in Liverpool should be subject to racist or sectarian abuse, threats or intimidation, and we ask candidates to commit to ensuring that Merseyside Police are fully resourced to deal which such crime and that a specific  Irish dimension is included in any diversity/culturally sensitive training and education delivered to police officers.

3.       Establish a specific consultative forum between Merseyside Police/PCC and members of the Irish community & Irish groups/organisations in the City to allow dialogue and feedback on the experience of  Policing & the Irish community.

Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool reiterates our commitment to ensuring that intolerance, racism and bigotry are not allowed to blight the City of Liverpool and that all sections of our community are allowed to express themselves culturally, socially and politically in a manner that rejects the fascism and racism expressed by far-right groups.

STATEMENT ENDS.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

2012 has seen 3 Irish community parades/marches directly challenged by Far-right groups and individual members from the Loyalist/Orange community.

Volunteer Sean Phelan Commemoration Saturday 18th February 2012         

Organised by Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool, this annual event remembers the life of Sean Phelan, a Liverpool-born Irish volunteer who was killed at the Upton Ambush during the Irish War of Independence against Britain. No arrests were made by Merseyside Police on the day but one person was later given a caution related to racist abuse by the SIGMA Hate Unit.

UPDATE PRESS RELEASE 19TH FEBRUARY 2012

 RE: VOL. SEAN PHELAN COMMEMORATION – CLARIFICATION STATEMENT

 Following on from our Press Release of the 18th February 2012, in the wake of yesterday’s Annual Vol. Sean Phelan Commemoration. We in Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool would like to make the following points:

 Yesterday’s Commemoration was the target of a combined group consisting of the Combined Ex-Forces, British National Party, British People’s Party, Infidels of Britain, football hooligans, Independent Orange Order, individual members of Loyalist flute bands associated with the Orange Order in Liverpool, United Kingdom Independence Party, and a variety of ex-service British Servicemen Associations including ex-Kings Regiment.

 In the run up to the event the above groups and individuals led a concerted campaign aimed at Liverpool City Council and Merseyside Police to ban this legal annual event on the misleading grounds that this was an ‘IRA MARCH’. 

 On the day of the Commemoration itself  a group of Loyalists (30-40) placed themselves at the assembly point waving Union Flags and at one point, blocked the road that the Commemoration was due to march down. Merseyside Police re-routed the Commemoration around this but half way through the proposed route into Liverpool City Centre, this group of Loyalists followed alongside the commemoration and for a sustained period launched a tirade of racist and sectarian insults at bands and marchers while Merseyside Police failed to intervene, make arrests or ensure that this group were properly dealt with by use of race hate laws. Instead, Loyalist were allowed to sneer and jeer during the route into Liverpool City Centre while being protected by a line of Police Officers.

 In Liverpool City Centre at the end point of the Commemoration, several hundred individuals/members of the above groups had occupied Derby Square, determined that the Commemoration would not be allowed to peacefully and legally finish. On the edge of Liverpool City Centre, the Commemoration was halted by Merseyside Police. After discussions with Merseyside Police that they feared that they would not be able to safely police the situation and threatening to proscribe the commemoration if we as organisers continued to proceed, and also hearing reports that windows of 2 coaches of travelling bands had been smashed, we decided to re-route the commemoration back through the Vauxhall area of Liverpool and end with an outdoor rally.

 It is Cairde Na hEireann’s view that all communities in Liverpool should be able to live in peace and harmony and that the right’s of the Irish Community in Liverpool to peacefully organise and assemble are protected by the Civil Authority’s and Police. Not to do so, increases the confidence of racists and bigots from within racist and far-right political parties/organisations, and increases the risks to other communities in Liverpool in the future and the wider community as a whole if race hate and intolerance is allowed to flourish and go unchecked.

 Yesterday’s events underline our view that the various protests were racist and sectarian in nature and that the cover used by racists to stop an ‘IRA MARCH’ was used as a means to increase tension and target the Irish Community specifically. Cairde Na hEireann urges those members of the public who attended the Commemoration who were victims of racist and sectarian abuse  to report the matter to Merseyside Police and ensure that the matter is dealt with as ‘hate crime’ when making statements. Cairde Na hEireann in the following days will be holding wide ranging discussions with Merseyside Police, Liverpool City Council, Trade Unions and anti racist/fascist organisations to ensure that Irish Community rights to peacefully assemble and be culturally and politically active are respected and protected. We will also ensure that the Irish Community in the future is to the fore in any anti-racist/fascist activity – STATEMENT ENDS”

James Larkin Trade Union March Against Racism & Fascism Saturday 21st July 2012.

The James Larkin Trade Union March has been organised by the James Larkin Society since 2002 to commemorate the life and work of the famous Liverpool-born Irish Trade Unionist. The July event was themed around the need to challenge racism and fascism in a direct response to February’s attack by the far-right on the Sean Phelan Commemoration. Approximately 26 individuals opposed to the march were arrested during the day of the event with several convicted for public order related offences.

 Press Release 22nd July 2012

Hate Groups Fail in Attempt to Prevent Liverpool Anti-Racist/Fascist Demonstration

A combination of far right groups made up of organisations such as the Infidels of Britain, Combined Ex-Forces, National Front and English Defence League failed in their attempt to prevent the annual James Larkin Trade Union March & Rally reaching Liverpool City Centre yesterday. Themed this year on fighting Racism & Fascism in light of recent attacks by the Far-right on the Irish Community, Trade Unions and other progressive groups in Liverpool, the March is an annual event that remembers the life and work of Liverpool-born Irish Trade Union and Socialist and is  organised by the James Larkin Society.

Assembling at Larkin’s birthplace in Combermere Street, Liverpool the event was led by the Liverpool Irish Patriots Flute Band along with support from Unite Against Fascism, Liverpool Anti-Fascists, Merseyside TUC and Trade Union banners from Unison, Unite, PCS, RMT and NASWT. From the start, the marchers, which numbered over 200, were met with a sustained volley of racist and sectarian abuse, aimed mainly at the Irish Community contingent at the front of the march. It was very clear that the fascists attempt at framing this anti racist and ant-fascist march as an ‘IRA March’ had the desired effect and the numbers of fascists opposing the march were clearly swelled by members of Liverpool’s Orange/Loyalist Community who contributed their own particular brand of racist and sectarian abuse at the march by singing sectarian songs, and sectarian chanting with references to ‘Fenian bastards’, ‘paedophiles’ and ‘Irish Scum’ throughout.

Again, while Merseyside Police launched a wide scale operation at ensuring the march reached Liverpool City Centre, involving hundreds of officers, horses, dogs and the Police Helicopter, it was the case that a hate filled mob who were literally foaming at their mouths, were allowed to follow along the side of the march throughout its course, continually harassing, making verbal threats and more worryingly launch missiles at the front of the march which included coins, cans and other objects. As organisers, we in the James Larkin Society will express our concerns to Merseyside Police in follow-up meetings but we would again urge members of the public who attended the march and felt that they were a victim of racial or sectarian abuse to report this to Merseyside Police’s Hate Crime Investigation Unit (SIGMA 709 6010) to ensure that these levels of racist abuse are recorded as crime and action is taken against individuals.

Yesterday was a victory for Anti-Racists in that a national mobilisation by Far-right hate groups supported by local members of the Orange/Loyalist Community failed in their attempt to dictate who can and who cannot march on Liverpool’s streets. However, it is clear that work needs to be done to foster closer links between communities in Liverpool in highlighting the damage that fascists and racists can cause and we in the James Larkin Society are determined to play our part in that work – Statement Ends”

International Brigades Commemoration Liverpool Saturday 13th October 2012.

Organised by Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool, this march commemorated the approx 200 volunteers from the Merseyside area who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War as part of the Connolly Column and International Brigades, many of whom were Liverpool Irish. 2 individuals opposing the march were during the event and were late convicted and fined with public order related offences.

Press Release Sunday 14th October 2012

 Successful Irish community march honours International Brigade Volunteers despite the presence of hate groups

Yesterday (13th October) up to 500 people accompanied by 7 Republican Flute bands from Liverpool, Scotland and Wales honoured the dedication and sacrifice made by the approximately 200 volunteers from Merseyside, many from the Liverpool Irish Community, who fought with both the Connolly Column and the International Brigades in the fight against Fascism in Spain 1936-1939. The event was organised by Cairde na hEireann (Friends of Ireland) Liverpool, an Irish community organisation campaigning for Irish Unity, defending and promoting Irish community rights and opposing fascism and racism.

Today in 2012 we are again seeing the rise of racist and fascist groups across Europe, including here on Merseyside. This is in the context of rising unemployment and increasing hardship for working people caused by an economic and political crisis brought about by the greed of corrupt financial institutions. Far Right groups are seeking to scapegoat vulnerable groups and individuals, with the aim of setting working-class people against each other, to prevent a unified fight-back against a failed economic system.

From the pseudo-constitutional racist political parties such as the BNP, British Freedom Party and National Front, through to violent paramilitary groups such as the EDL (English Defence League), NWI (North-West Infidels) and CXF (Combined Ex-Forces), the Fascist threat is growing. That is why the message of the solidarity and sacrifice of the International Brigades remembered yesterday is more relevant now than ever. Working-class people must stand together in defence of tolerance, diversity and democracy, in defence of our hard-won rights, and against the austerity measures imposed by a government representing the ruling elite.

Despite the best efforts of the combined effort of both Fascist groups (North West Infidels, National Front and the paramilitary group Combined Ex-Forces) and members of Liverpool’s Orange/Loyalist community to disrupt the event, the event made its way through Liverpool City Centre and successfully completed it route. As is now unfortunately common with Irish community parades in Liverpool this year, marchers were again subject to verbal racist abuse, threats and attempts to intimidate marchers at some points of its route. However, thanks to the positive working relationships that Liverpool Cairde Na hEireann (CnE) activists have with both Merseyside Police and other statutory bodies, a robust security plan ensured that all marchers remained safe and the march completed its proposed route. CnaE thanks the professionalism and dedication of Merseyside Police officers in managing yesterday’s event and the dignity maintained by marchers and bands in the face of hate filled individuals intent on violence and disorder, who again bring shame to the City of Liverpool by their behaviour and racism. CnE rededicates itself to organising and supporting legal and peaceful parades/demonstrations of a progressive, anti-racist and anti-fascist nature and promoting the development of Irish community confidence in the City.
The march was addressed at the by Aengus O’Snodaigh Sinn Fein TD (member of Irish Parliament) and a representative of Unite Against Fascism –Statement Ends”

Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool (Liverpool Friends of Ireland)

An Irish community organisation campaigning for Irish unification, defending & promoting Irish community rights and fighting racism/fascism and intolerance.

www.facebook.com/cairdeliverpool

@cairdeliverpool (twitter)

cairdeliverpool@gmail.com

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2 thoughts on “PRESS RELEASE – Election of Liverpool’s Police and Crime Commissioner and the Irish Community

  1. Replies from Candidates to CnE Liverpool’s Press Release:

    – Many thanks for your e mail.

    I have made “tackling hate crime” one of my priorities in my manifesto. You can find more about ths on my blog at http://www.paula4merseyside.blogspot.com.

    I have also made community consultation and involving groups a priority and if elected would be delighted to meet with representatives from the Irish community, both formally and informally so that I am fully up to speed with concerns and so that you can make your views known. I would like the first of these meetings to explore the format of future meetings as I am not 100 percent persuaded that formal forum structures always do the job we want them to do (although obviously there will be some existing and I will be setting some up)

    It’s important that police training recognises the diversity of the whole community. I am not sure currently what is specifically covered so I would need to look into this and if the Irish dimension is not covered, it needs to be

    Thanks again for being in touch

    Do feel free to be in touch again if you want to know more or have a look at my website which is at http://www.paula4merseyside.blogspot.com

    Paula Keaveney
    Liberal Democrat

    – Dear Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool,

    Apologies for the delay, I’ve now reached over 500 emails about the PCC election in thirteen days. My replies are below.

    1. The rights of the Irish community to assemble and organise lawful and peaceful parades/marches should be defended in the face of threats, attacks and intimidation by far-right groups and members of the loyalist/Orange community.

    I agree.

    2. No community in Liverpool should be subject to racist or sectarian abuse, threats or intimidation, and we ask candidates to commit to ensuring that Merseyside Police are fully resourced to deal which such crime and that a specific Irish dimension is included in any diversity/culturally sensitive training and education delivered to police officers.

    I agree with this. Anyone would think in Liverpool that of course police officers would be aware of the cities Irish population, both historically and today, but of course officers, like other people, might be unaware. The first chief constable of Liverpool was of course Irish. That Irish dimension has to include awareness of all the strands of Irish tradition in the city.

    3. Establish a specific consultative forum between Merseyside Police/PCC and members of the Irish community & Irish groups/organisations in the City to allow dialogue and feedback on the experience of Policing & the Irish community.

    I want to see firstly dialogue between the Catholic / nationalist and Orange / protestant traditions as in this day and age more understanding is needed of a shared heritage. I have stood for election on a platform of fewer meetings, not more. I am not therefore going to promise a new forum, however if elected I will meet with Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool, and consider your arguments why such a forum is needed. The Irish community – the Catholic Irish community and the Orange tradition (that the police seem to be more familiar with cooperating with) are so significant in the history and present of the city that a forum would seem to be tokenistic. I would like to see senior officers who have policed some marches in what seems like a heavy handed way discuss with representatives of Irish organisations to get a honest exchange of views. So I agree with the aim, not necessarily with a forum.

    Yours sincerely,

    Kiron Reid (Independent candidate for Merseyside PCC).

    – Hi *******,
    Of course I respect that and thank you for this.
    I’ll have a longer look at the press release but on first glance I think I was happy with most of what you were asking.
    Best wishes.
    Jane (Jane Kennedy)

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