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THE annual Seán Sabhat Commemoration was held in Limerick on Sunday, January 7. This years commemoration was the largest gathering in Seán’s memory for 30 years.
The parade which fell in at Bedford Row was headed by a nine-person Colour Party with a contingent of Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann and a lone piper. The parade marched to the Republican Plot where Seán was buried 44 years ago.
The ceremony, chaired by Des Long, Vice President, Republican Sinn Féin, started with a decade of the rosary recited by Peig King, Ard Rúnaí, Republican Sinn Féin. A bugler from Na Fianna Éireann then sounded the Last Post and Reveille.
Wreaths were laid on the grave by Bill Ó Sé (Kerry) on behalf of the Republican Movement, Martin Calligan (Clare) on behalf of Republican Sinn Féin and by Kathleen Lane (Cork) on behalf of the organising committee, Coiste Cuimhneacháin Seán Sabhat.
The Cathaoirleach then introduced the main speaker, Josephine Hayden. He reminded the attendance that Josephine had spent four-and-a-half years in nearby Limerick prison and during all that time that she continued the struggle for political treatment for all POWs anywhere in Ireland.
Josephine Hayden in the course of her very fine oration said that Seán Sabhat and Fergal O’Hanlon were Volunteers in the Pádraig Pearse Flying Column.
"On New Years Day 1957 the Pádraig Pearse Flying Column engaged the British Forces at Brookeborough in Co. Fermanagh. The other members of the Column were Dáithí Ó Conaill (RIP) Cork, Seán Garland, Liam Nolan, Dublin, Michael Kelly, Galway, Seán Scott, Galway, Harry Gonagh (RIP), Wexford, Pat Connolly, Fermanagh, Patrick Tierney, Fermanagh, Vincent Conlon, Armagh, Phil Danaher, Dublin, Paddy O’Regan, Dublin. The aim of those Volunteers and all their comrades in Óglaigh na hÉireann was to rid the island of Ireland of British rule once and for all. Seán Sabhat and his comrades refused to accept British rule and domination.
"In and around 1954 Seán approached Paddy Mulcahy on the steps of the Gaelic League requesting to join the Irish Republican Army -- many other Limerick men followed later -- they too refused to accept British rule in any part of Ireland -- unlike some we could mention today. Those are our former comrades, now Ministers in Stormont who are paid by the British to implement British rule in Ireland. They are using the mercs and the perks that they castigated constitutional politicians for years for using. But now they are constitutional politicians. They have succumbed to the ‘Queens shilling’ and are happily doing the bidding of the British government.
"On December 3, 1941 Liam Rice from Belfast wrote: "The traitor, in a vain attempt to justify his treachery, always wantonly attacks the cause he has forsaken." They have turned on their own people, let them down and continue to lie to them. But the truth is they have sold out and the turncoat is most vicious of all. Patten, Mandelson etc. are at least British and so have no problem in treating the Irish people with contempt, but our former comrades should know better.
"The RUC were about when Seán Sabhat went to Fermanagh. So too were the B-Specials -- notorious for their bigotry and brutality against the nationalist people.
"The British Government decided to change the name of the B-Specials to make them more acceptable so they became the UDR. The UDR had (and have) men like Ken Maginnis, who was a member of the UDR -- Officer in Charge actually -- when his unit murdered members of the Miami Showband. In another effort to cover up the bigotry and brutality the name was again changed this time to the RIR, the Royal Irish Regiment. This infamous regiment is still in existence and it is the largest regiment in the British Army. What few people realise is that two batts of the RIR must remain in the Six Occupied Counties of Ulster.
"So no British withdrawal there. So changing the name of the RUC is meaningless. The RUC will remain exactly the same, a name change means nothing, a badge change means nothing. The perceptions, views and beliefs of the RUC will remain the same.
"Their way of policing will remain the same. The RUC may become 50% nationalist and 50% unionist but it will still be 100% British, the British will still be the paymasters and as we all know those who pay the piper calls the tune.
"It is sad then to see that a Republican prisoner in Maghaberry prison, Tommy Crossan, has such a fight on his hands to be recognised as a political prisoner. Tommy has been attacked and beaten by loyalist thugs, aided and abetted by the screws -- thugs that have the blessing of the Brits, from the screws all the way up to government level.
"Tommy Crossan is a political prisoner though denied political status. There will be no early release for Tommy or indeed for his comrades in Portlaoise. They will all serve their sentences in full."
Josephine Hayden concluded by thanking all who attended the commemoration.
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IN the Irish context the term Celtic Tiger is a contradiction in terms but is probably an apposite description of what has happened in the 26-County economy in the last six to seven years.
Firstly, it should be stated that the success of the 26-County economy in recent years owes very little to the ability, planning or intelligence of the Free State administrations during that time.
The various factors which have contributed to the phenomenon known as the Celtic Tiger will be discussed later in this article, but before that, it is appropriate that the economic history of the Free State should be examined and the Celtic Tiger placed in context.
When the revisionists won out in the Civil War (1921-23), the radical plans of Republicanism were cast aside and a conservative, subservient policy, both social and economic was pursued. They had no economic plan, except a strategy of protectionism to protect whatever native industry existed after 400 years of exploitation, plus the small sector of new industries which managed to survive in a heavily protected home market.
The Celtic Tiger has seen the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor and those on low wages.
The Free State currency was laughably tied to parity with sterling. The only real industry -- agriculture -- we had, exported all its produce to Britain, who had a cheap food policy, ensuring depressed prices for Irish food exports.
Naturally, the effect of this was calamitous, resulting in permanent stagnation and annual emigration of the order of 30,000/40,000. With the movement towards free trade in Europe and the formation of the Common Market, a nightmare scenario faced the Free State in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The Fianna Fáil government at the time were apparently oblivious to the imminent crisis with the exception of Lemass. Senior civil servants in the Department of Finance, headed by Whitaker, saw what was coming and sought leave from their ordinary duties to draw up a plan to deal with the looming crisis of impending free trade.
The main features of the plan they devised was the repeal of the Control of Manufacturers Act to enable foreign manufacturers to set up in the Free State and a considerable beefing up of the IDA to enable it to attract foreign manufacturers by a combination of capital grants and tax concessions.
It was accepted that free trade would wipe out a considerable percentage of indigenous (protected) industry in the Free State and this plan was devised to replace these lost industries by foreign industrialists whose industries could compete in a free trade environment. Nemesis had finally arrived for the Free State, which had tied itself financially and economically to the Brits and failed to develop its natural wealth and resources as the basis of a sound and prosperous country.
|The politicians of the Free State, held in contempt by most of us citizens in the light of their corrupt and scandalous behaviour, are rather fond, of late, of pointing to their role in creating the current prosperity and economic boom. They offer it as a counter balance to their corrupt behaviour. The truth is that they can claim very little credit for the current economic boom (the Celtic Tiger). The economic boom arose from three factors.|
In 1958, the Free State and Britain signed the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement and in 1972 the Free State entered the European Common Market, despite the backward state of its industry, the inevitable disappearance of native, protected industries quickly followed. However, agriculture prospered, under a generous regime of subsidies and guaranteed prices under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the Common Market.
In addition, there was a generous grant system to enable farmers to modernise their operations. The result of these various measures was a considerable improvement in the income and living standards of the majority of farmers, and in fairness, it must be said that the Common Market got the farmers of this State out from under the jackboot of Britain’s cheap food policy and gave them a good alternative market with better prices for their produce.
By a delicious irony, there was the additional satisfaction of seeing the Brits, as a net contributor to Common Market funds, subsidising our agriculture under the CAP. It was only poetic justice, and proves that the Mills of God "grind exceeding slow, but exceeding just". In the last ten years there has been a gradual tightening of the CAP, and farmers are facing increasing difficulties due to American pressure under the GATT agreement, and these pressures will continue as America seeks to dominate world trade.
The politicians of the Free State, held in contempt by most of us citizens in the light of their corrupt and scandalous behaviour, are rather fond, of late, of pointing to their role in creating the current prosperity and economic boom.
They offer it as a counter balance to their corrupt behaviour. The truth is that they can claim very little credit for the current economic boom (the Celtic Tiger). The economic boom arose from three factors.
Firstly, from a new inflow of capital from the EEC in the form of structural funds etc which amounted to billions, and largely paid for, and continues to pay for, the modernising of the Free State infrastructure. I suppose that Ahern and Co can claim credit for being efficient professional beggars in securing the maximum hand-out from Brussels! But proficiency at begging is hardly something to crow about.
The second vital factor in the economic boom was the information technological revol-ution. It was a mere coincidence and not due to any planning by the Free State government that there was a large number of technology graduates and technicians with computer skills who would normally have had to emigrate and who provided a readymade workforce for the American computer and information technology companies.
The only thing that the Free State politicians can claim credit for is a decent education system. It was the least they could do for the youth of the 26 Counties, the majority of whom would be forced to emigrate.
With a low-wage economy, a derisory corporation profit tax, a highly-educated and technically-skilled workforce, the Free State was the cheapest and most efficient entry route for American IT multinationals to the EU. This heavy capital influx from America, added to the inflow of capital grants from the EU, has been the engine driving the economic boom. The Anorak and his mates cannot claim any credit for this, as it did not derive from any economic plans or strategies devised by them.
The third factor in the economic boom was a change of strategy by the IDA. They switched from a policy of attracting traditional industries, to the computer information technology and high technology companies.
In addition, they expanded their existing drive of seeking chemical and pharmaceutical investment. The result of this has been unprecedented growth, near full employment, and an enormous wealth creation which, however, has not been evenly distributed, resulting in the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor and those on low wages.
This is not the fault of the IDA but lies squarely with Ahern and Co, and, in particular, his loud-mouthed finance minister, McCreevy. The boom has, happily, for the first time in the history of the Free State, put a stop to enforced emigration and we must all rejoice at this.
However, the Free State remains, despite the current boom, a very open and vulnerable economy for various reasons, some historical, and some not. It is over dependent on foreign investment and expertise and very vulnerable to the whims of multinationals. It is an economy very dependent on exports for survival and its basis is not even remotely indigenous, except for agriculture.
There is no store of accumulated capital in the Free State sue to its history of colonisation. Hence our dependence on the foreign inflow of same from the EU and the US. In order to attract this foreign capital, the Free State has a combination of low corporation profit tax and a low-wage economy.
Any boom that is predicated on these two factors is, by nature, fragile and people should be cautious about levels of personal indebtedness. If there is a recession the loan sharks, by tradition, show no mercy. Hopefully there will not be a recession in the US, as the current boom in the Free State is, to a great degree, the result of heavy investment from that source. In the meantime, the citizens of the Free State should be aware of its fragile base, on which the current boom rests, and proceed with caution.
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