Press Release – JAMES LARKIN SOCIETY MARCH & RALLY 2015 – Liverpool: The City That Dared To Fight

Press Release – JAMES LARKIN SOCIETY MARCH & RALLY 2015

The James Larkin Society will hold its Annual March through Liverpool city centre on Saturday 18th July. 

James Larkin (1876-1947) was the Liverpool-born Irish Trade Union Leader, who led workers’ struggles throughout Ireland, and most famously during the Dublin 1913 Lock Out dispute. Larkin founded both the ITGWU (Irish Transport & General Workers Union) and the ICA (Irish Citizen Army). The James Larkin Society works to keep his memory and ideals alive in Liverpool, the city of his birth. 2015 marks 100 years since Larkin arrived in New York and became central to every radical event that happened in the USA.

The march on 18th July  starts at 1pm from Larkin’s birthplace, Combermere Street, off Park Road, Liverpool 8. The march will be led by the Liverpool Irish Flute Band and the Liverpool Socialist Singers. lt will follow a city centre route, finishing with a Rally at the Pier Head. The Rally will be addressed by a number of Trade Union and Campaign group Speakers.

The main theme for this year’s event is ”Liverpool, The City That Dared To Fight – Remembering The Liverpool Socialist Council 1983-1987”. In the current climate of vicious austerity cuts to public services, being imposed by a Tory government, not voted for by the people of Liverpool, the message of the Liverpool Socialist Council that stood up to a similar Tory government in the 1980’s, is more relevant than ever.

The James Larkin Society believes that ‘austerity’ is a lie – designed to make the rich even richer, while public services are decimated, the NHS is privatised, and working-class people pay the price. We call on today’s Liverpool City Council, local Trade Unions, and all sections of society to follow the great recent example of the people of Greece, and Say NO to Austerity, NO to Tory cuts, and join the Fight Back.

 

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General Election 2015 and the Irish Community

On May 7th 2015, the people of Liverpool/Merseyside will have the opportunity to choose their local Member of Parliament. For the Irish community in Liverpool/Merseyside, this represents an ideal opportunity to directly challenge all candidates on their position regarding the rights and needs of our community, especially in the areas of social care, recognition, culture and sport.

We in Cairde na hEireann Liverpool believe that the result of the General Election will directly affect Irish people in Liverpool/Merseyside and that the votes of the Irish community should not be taken for granted by any parliamentary candidate. We do not advocate a vote for any particular candidate or party that they may represent. However, we do feel that candidates should be challenged on their views and their support for the following issues facing our community at present:

  • Support for the Irish peace process and full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
  • Support the setting up of public enquiries into the killing of solicitor Pat Finucane and the innocent civilians murdered by the British Army during the Ballymurphy Massacre 1971.
  • Support the rights of the Irish community to organise  events and parades that  commemorate our history, celebrate our culture and assert our political aspirations, free from the threat of attack from Far Right groups, including elements of the Loyal Orange Orders.
  • Support for Irish organisations in the city aiming to meet the welfare and social care needs of the Irish community including Irish elders and Irish Travellers.
  • Support and recognition for Irish community based organisations promoting the continuation of Irish traditional music, song and dance including support for Irish language groups.
  • Positive support for the maintenance and development of Gaelic games in the city including recognition of the needs of Irish organisations/groups promoting Gaelic sports in Liverpool.

While Cairde na hEireann Liverpool does not advocate on behalf of any particular candidate/political party and having recently seen the published list of candidates, we would offer the following caveat: There should be no votes for candidates linked to racist or far-right political parties. 

Cairde Na hEireann Liverpool notes that the list of candidates for Liverpool/Merseyside include the United Kingdom Independence Party. We believe that UKIP members were instrumental in the stoking up of racist and sectarian tensions that led to the direct attack on an Irish Community events during 2012 and 2013. UKIP and other right wing parties have nothing positive to offer the people of Liverpool and Merseyside except their own hate and prejudices that marginalises and divides the Irish community and other immigrant communities from the wider community.

We ask that our community take note of the above and ensure the needs of the Irish community are both recognised and acknowledged.

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Local commemoration remembers Liverpool volunteers of the Dublin 1916 Easter Rising.

easter1916-1016 imageA local commemoration and parade was held last Sunday in the strongly Irish area of Scotland Road in Liverpool. Organised by Cairde na hEireann Liverpool, up to a 100 local people along with the Liverpool Irish Flute Band (Banna Fluit Learpholl) remembered the Liverpool Irish women and men from the local areas of Vauxhall, Kirkdale, Bootle and Seaforth who participated in the rising against British rule in Dublin 99 years ago this week.

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The event also saw the launch of the Liverpool Easter Lily campaign which promotes the wearing of the Lily across the Irish community in remembrance of up to 60 volunteers of the Irish Volunteers and Cumann namBan who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising and in subsequent campaigns for Irish freedom and independence.

CBMTBkEW4AEUVheOrganisers stated that it was important that this part of Liverpool Irish history was remembered and commemorated with pride and the story of the Liverpool women and men who participated in the Rising and fought against British rule was an aspect of the Rising itself that needs to be highlighted, especially as next year marks the 100th anniversary of the rising itself. The role of the Liverpool Irish in the Rising provides a counter narrative to ongoing public events in Liverpool to commemorate World War 1. These Liverpool Irish participants in the Rising rejected the call of Britain’s ruling classes to fight in the fields of Flanders and its associated slaughter, but instead fought against an Empire that refused to grant Irish sovereignty and independence. The commemoration was addressed by Sean Oliver, head of Sinn Fein’s International Department and representative for England, Scotland and Wales who outlined his party’s plans to commemorate the Easter Rising in 2016.  Sean also outlined the central role that Sinn Fein was increasingly playing in Irish political life both north and south of the Irish border in leading the fight back against both the Conservative party’s austerity policies in the north and Fine Gael’s austerity policies in the south.

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Francie Molloy MP warns of dangers to Good Friday Agreement by anti-agreement axis at public meeting in Liverpool

Francie Molloy, Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster, last night warned of the dangers facing those supportive of the Good Friday Agreement by a growing anti-agreement axis which includes Unionist parties such as the Democratic Unionist Party and David Cameron’s Conservative Party led government.

Speaking at a public briefing session organised by Cairde na hEireann Liverpool to Irish community activists, local politicians and trade unionists at St Michaels Irish Centre, Francie Molloy stated:

In summary, in the Six Counties we currently have a serious political impasse and an economic and budgetary crisis.

A political crisis caused by a growing unionist rejection of the Good Friday Agreement and its values. A refusal being facilitated by the London government.

And an economic and budgetary crisis caused by the austerity policies of that same government in London.

Including their demand that we implement welfare cuts.

We have seen the evidence of how works in this country and our party will not being inflicting that on  all our communities.

These crises have now converged. The economic and political situation is both untenable and unsustainable.

The Stormont talks are taking place in the absence of a credible process or the required political momentum. Sinn Féin believes both are required to ensure a comprehensive and successful outcome is achieved.

The backdrop to these talks over the last two years has been an undermining of power-sharing and partnership government; rejection of the Haass compromise proposals by the British Government and political unionism, increased political instability and street disturbances; British Government economic austerity policies and proposed welfare cuts; and the emergence of a unionist anti-agreement axis which has had a disproportionate and adverse influence over the political process.

Progress to date, has been hampered by

DUP preconditions, aimed at narrowing the talks agenda;

Negative mismanagement of the political process by the British Government since 2010, and attempting to act as a facilitator rather than a talks participant;

The passive approach of the Irish Government towards the political process in recent years, and failure to assert its status as a co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) since these talks commenced.

Consequently the political framework established by the GFA and other Agreements, the political process itself, and the viability of the actual political institutions are now directly threatened.

There is a real danger that the present impasse will be subsumed by a long-term political vacuum. In such circumstances political instability could become irreversible, with profound ramifications for the integrity of Irish democracy.

An urgent need exists for pro-agreement and democratic opinion to mobilise now in defence of the GFA and peace and political processes. A pro-agreement axis is necessary to encourage political momentum, and ensure a substantive and successful negotiation is achieved.

Sinn Féin is committed to a ‘Plan A Plus’ outcome predicated upon:

A substantial economic and fiscal reconstruction plan;

Unconditional support for power-sharing and partnership government based upon GFA principles;

And, the implementation of all extant commitments made under the GFA; all other agreements since, as well as the Programme for Government; to include

Implementation of a Bill of Rights

Implementation of Acht na Gaeilge

Reestablishment of a Civic Forum

Establishment of an All-Ireland Consultative Forum

Implementation of the Haass compromise proposals

These are essential to break the political gridlock, facilitate political progress, and to complete the transition to a shared future, and an end to sectarianism, segregation and division.

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Public Meeting Liverpool: Why we need to build support for the Good Friday Agreement

Why we need to build support for the Good Friday Agreement

Tuesday 9th December, 7.30pm, St Michaels Irish Centre, Liverpool. The meeting is hosted by Cairde na hEireann Liverpool.

Speaker: Francie Molloy MP (Sinn Fein)

This meeting will be an important opportunity to discuss the need to pro-actively support the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement at this crucial time, which has seen growing concerns about the current anti-Agreement axis which is stalling political progress.  It will also be a chance to discuss the current talks process to resolve outstanding issues, and to look at how pro-agreement voices in both Ireland and in Britain can make a positive contribution to taking us forward.

For more information, and to confirm your attendance please email: cairdeliverpool@gmail.com

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Disproportionate & Punitive: Merseyside Police threaten Irish Commemoration to Liverpool Irish women with Terrorism Act

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On the 12th March 2012 the British Prime Minister David Cameron and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny issued a joint statesman stating their view on how British-Irish relationships during the next 10 years should develop. Within the statement there was recognition of the Decade of Centenaries, that period of Irish history between 1913-1923 that saw huge revolutionary change and would now be remembered a hundred years from 2013 onwards:

“2012 also marks the beginning of a decade of centenary commemorations of events that helped shape our political destinies.  This series of commemorations offers us an opportunity to explore and reflect on key episodes of our past.  We will do so in a spirit of historical accuracy, mutual respect, inclusiveness and reconciliation.”

Today Merseyside Police literally tore the joint statement to pieces by its use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2000) which was used to place restrictions on this afternoons march and rally through Liverpool City centre to remember the Liverpool Irish women of Cumann na mBan (League of Women) who participated in both the Easter arising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence1919-1921. Organised by Cairde na hEireann Liverpool, the event had been advertised for several months and clearly stated its intention to remember in a dignified manner those women members of the Irish community in Liverpool who dedicated their lives to the cause of Irish independence and freedom between1913-1923 (statement)

Cairde na hEireann Liverpool as an Irish community organisation, dedicated itself in 2013 to ensuring that when forthcoming Centenaries were being commemorated in Liverpool, anniversaries of historic importance to the Liverpool Irish community would not remain untold and hidden but would be commemorated and remembered on par with both official and unofficial commemorations in Liverpool that have involved remembering the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force (a proscribed organisation under the PTA), formation of the Liverpool Pals and start of World War 1.

On the 29th September we received correspondence from Assistant Chief Constable Martland (see below).

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Letter from Merseyside Police

In the meeting that followed between Merseyside Police and Cairde na hEireann Liverpool we reiterated the following:

General theme: To support the campaign for the reunification of Ireland by solely peaceful political means. This year’s specific theme: ‘’To celebrate the centenary of the formation of Cumann Na mBan (League of Women) in 1914, and in particular its members from the Liverpool Irish community.

This themed event is being held solely to remember the role of the specific historic organisation known as Cumann Na mBan (which is no longer in existence), during the time period known as the ‘Decade of Centenaries (1913-1923)’ of events in Irish history.

These events are being commemorated by all traditions, including here in Liverpool. Such commemorations are recognised as being significant and legitimate by both UK and Irish governments, as part of international agreements integral to the cementing of the peace process and the promotion of shared understanding).

The event on 11th October is NOT being held in relation to inviting support for ANY contemporary proscribed organisation under the terms of The Terrorism Act 2000.

The event on 11th October is NOT being held in relation to inviting support for ANY contemporary proscribed organisation going by the name of ‘’Cumann Na mBan’’, or indeed any other name contained within the list detailed in the Terrorism Act 2000.”

However, Cairde na hEireann Liverpool received a final piece of correspondence from ACC Martland stating that:

“I am writing to advise you that the CPS has confirmed that, by wearing an item of clothing or wearing, carrying or displaying an article in such a way or in circumstances as to arise reasonable suspicion that they are a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation commits an offence, contrary to Sect. 13(1) of the Terrorism Act, 2000.

I must advise you that, in light of the above, if there are grounds to believe that an offence has been committed at the procession, then Merseyside Police will take action that is appropriate in the circumstances.”

Cairde na hEireann Liverpool believes that Merseyside Police’s stance is a deliberate attempt to restrict the Irish community’s rights to commemorate our heritage and history. We view Merseyside Police’s stance on this matter as vindictive, disproportionate and criminalises a whole generation of Liverpool Irish women and men who contributed to the foundation of an independent Irish state. We are left with no other opinion than to believe that the actions of a few senior Merseyside Police officers in dealing with this matter could be seen in the context of institutional racism by effectively denying the Irish community the right to remember and commemorate while other communities in Liverpool and public bodies are allowed to do so. Cumann na mBan is an organisation that exists only within the text books of Liverpool Irish history and poses a threat to no one in the community.

Merseyside Police’s decision to threaten march organisers with arrest and prosecution now sees the likes of Nora Thornton, Kathy Doran, Francis Downey, Peggy Downey, Anastasia MacLoughlin, Kathleen Murphy and Rose Ann Murphy, Liverpool Irish women who participated in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin as being a threat to the British State on par with the threat posed by Islamic State and Al Qaeda. 

Cairde na hEireann Liverpool thanks those marchers today who remembered with pride the brave Liverpool Irish women of Cumann na mBan and reluctantly agreed to adhere to the restrictions set out by Merseyside Police. Cairde na hEireann Liverpool will launch a campaign to challenge Merseyside Police’s attempts to both criminalise us as an Irish community organisation and the Irish community as a whole. Cairde na hEireann Liverpool will challenge any future attempt by Merseyside Police to demonise the Irish community as they have attempted to do so today. The right to be Irish in Liverpool/Merseyside and the right to express pride in our heritage and history will be central to our campaign.

Despite the actions of Merseyside Police today’s event was a huge success with several hundred in attendance and led by 6 flute bands through the city with a rally at Pier Head. The rally was dressed by Jennifer McCann MLA and Junior Minister for the Office for the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
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Cumann na mBan: Remembering the forgotten Liverpool Irish women of the Irish revolution

As part of its series of events commemorating Liverpool and its links to the Irish revolution between 1913-1923, Cairde na hEireann Liverpool will be commemorating the establishment of Cumann na mBan (pronounced Cumin naa Mon) in Liverpool.
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In a weekend of events culminating in a special commemorative parade through Liverpool City Centre, Liverpool ‘s Irish community will honour the memory of the Liverpool Irish women, who from 1914 onwards, supported Ireland’s fight for independence in Liverpool and beyond. Most notably this support consisted of participation in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin when Nora Thornton, Kathy Doran, Francis Downey, Peggy Downey, Kathleen Fleming, Anastasia MacLoughlin, Kathleen Murphy and Rose Ann Murphy received orders to mobilise and travelled to Dublin from Liverpool for the Rising. The women of Cumann na mBan in Liverpool also organised céilís, cultural productions, first aid classes, rifle training and signalling. Their role within Liverpool Irish cultural life at the time was immense and their support for Irish freedom continued through to the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) when they overwhemingly rejected the Anglo Irish Treaty in favour of Anti-Treaty forces.

Last year, the formation of Cumann na mBan was marked by the Irish government with a ceremony in Dublin. Irish President Michael D. Higgins said the women of Cumann na mBan “rose up to vindicate the unfulfilled hopes and aspirations for liberty of previous generations”. But national independence did not yield “all the fruits” they had hoped for, he said.

Remembering the Liverpool Irish women of Cumann na mBan is important for the Irish community in Liverpool. Remembering them highlights an alternative narrative of a community in Liverpool that was not supportive of Britain’s war effort during World War 1 and who’s involvement in the fight for the right of small nations to be free was more real and more tangible compared to the efforts of Britain’s ruling classes to garner support from its working classes for the war in Flanders and beyond. We salute the volunteer women of Cumann na mBan Liverpool and their contribution towards the cause of Irish freedom and establishment of an independent Irish republic based on the ideals set out in the Proclamation of Easter 1916.
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Merseyside PCC hate crime initiative ignores Irish community.

Cairde na hEireann Liverpool welcomes Jane Kennedy, Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner’s latest initiative to gain the views of victims of hate crime across Merseyside (http://www.merseysidepcc.info/home/get-involved/puttingvictimsfirst.aspx) #puttingvictimsfirst.

However, several members of the Irish community on Merseyside have now contacted us to highlight that when completing the online ‘victims experience questionairre’ https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3FSHPMD the recording of a persons ethnicity does not include an ‘Irish’ or an ‘Irish Traveller’ category.

This ommision will mean that an Irish dimension to the experience of hate crime will be lost to the PCC. Cairde na hEireann Liverpool reiterates that any initiatives to ameliorate discrimination and hate must include all sections of Merseyside’s communities. It is simply not good enough that a major initiative led by the PCC should exclude the Irish experience of hate crime given the recent history of a resurgance in anti-Irish racism in Liverpool since 2012 Under Pressure Report. We call on the PCC to ensure that all future initiatives do not ignore the Irish experience on Merseyside and the lumping of Irish and Irish Traveller communities under a ‘white’ category serves the interests of no one except racists and bigots.

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Striking Miners Proudly Remembered at Liverpool James Larkin March

Striking Miners Proudly Remembered at Liverpool James Larkin March

Sunday 20th July 2014.

The 30th Anniversary of the 1984 Miners Strike was rembembed in Liverpool today by the annual James Larkin March & Rally which celebrates the life and work of the Liverpool-born Irish Trade Unionist and Socialist. 

Led by the Orgreave Justice Campaign banner and the Liverpool Irish Patriots Flute Band, a crowd of 400 people marched from Larkin’s birthplace on Combermere Street, Liverpool 8 to Liverpool’s Pier Head. The march was strongly supported by members of the Irish community, local trade unionists, community groups and public representatives.

Thought provoking speeches were delivered at the rally by Paul Jenkins Unite Against Fascism, John Cunningham Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign, Dave Douglas ex miner, writer and NUM branch Rep Hatfield Main Colliery, Steve Higginson Unite The Union Communities and Sean Oliver Sinn Fein Rep for England, Scotland & Wales.

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Annual James Larkin Society March & Rally 2014

Annual James Larkin Society March & Rally 2014

The Annual James Larkin Society March & Rally this year takes place on Sunday 20th July. The march will assemble at 1pm on Combermere Street (Larkin’s birthplace), off Park Road, Liverpool 8. It will then take a route through the city centre, and finish with a Rally at the Pier Head.

The James Larkin Society was formed in 2002, to promote the memory and legacy of Liverpool-born Irish Trade Union Leader and Socialist Republican, James Larkin. The James Larkin Society is Non-Sectarian and actively Anti-Fascist.

Each July the Society holds an event themed around remembering Larkin and marking significant events in working-class history, both in Ireland and England. The main theme for this year’s March & Rally is to mark the 30th anniversary of The Miners’ Strike on 1984, for Jobs, Justice and Dignity. 

Speakers at the Rally on 20th July will include:

John Cunningham of the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign – Which seeks truth and justice for the Miners who were victimised and falsely arrested by Police from many different forces during the picketing of Orgreave Coking Plant, South Yorshire in June 1984.

David Hopper, Durham & North-East General Secretary of the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers).

Dave Douglas, who worked as a Miner in the coalfields of Durham and South Yorkshire, and was NUM Branch Secretary at Hatfield Main Colliery. Dave is a political activist, historian and writer. He is the author of a new book entitled ‘’The Liverpool Waterfront 1850-1890 – The Struggle for Organisation’’.

The James Larkin Society welcomes all Trade Unionists, community activists, progressive campaign groups and their families, to attend the event on 20th July.   
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