Voices from Russia

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Sinn Fein’s Breakthrough Brings a United Ireland Closer Than It’s Ever Been


It’d be fair to say that Sinn Fein’s historic electoral breakthrough in the recent elections to Northern Ireland’s devolved Assembly legislature took almost everyone by surprise, including them. With this breakthrough, Sinn Fein (English: “We Ourselves”) just shattered the veto of the ruling Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for the first time since the inception of the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, along with the province’s power-sharing government, as part of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to three decades of conflict known as the Troubles. The new Assembly elections were held after Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness resigned from his post as Deputy First Minister in protest at the refusal of the Assembly’s First Minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, to step down over a financial scandal surrounding a botched renewable energy scheme that she helped to set up and which is set to cost taxpayers in Northern Ireland up to 480 million UK Pounds (34.48 billion Roubles. 4.04 billion Renminbi. 38.84 billion INR. 584.06 million USD. 786.76 million CAD. 774.31 million AUD. 547.21 million Euros).

Yet though this particular scandal and Foster’s intransigence may be the proximate cause of the bad feeling between Sinn Fein and the DUP, various unresolved political and sectarian issues emanating from the Troubles also lie at its heart. For many unionists both inside and outside the DUP, political parity with Sinn Fein (and the Irish Republicans and the Catholic communities they represent) has always been anathema. It has been this way ever since the partitioned British statelet of Northern Ireland began in 1921, out of the negotiations that ended the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-21. Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority, cut off from the Catholic-majority Irish Republic south of the border, saw succeeding generations denied the same civil rights as the Protestant majority in the province.

The modern conflict, the Troubles, erupted in the late 1960s when a mass civil rights movement… non-violent, non-sectarian, and peaceful… emerged in Northern Ireland to demand those civil rights for Catholics still denied justice and equality when it came to housing, employment, and political representation. When the movement began to win concessions from the British government, the Protestant majority began to feel their dominant position and status under threat, resulting in a wave of sectarian-inspired attacks on Catholic communities in Belfast. The need to defend Catholics from this campaign of terror saw the birth of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), colloquially known as the Provos, in 1969. Attacks on the civil rights movement continued into the 1970s, culminating in Bloody Sunday in January 1972, when soldiers belonging to the élite British Parachute Regiment shot and killed 17 unarmed protesters in Derry during a mass march for civil rights. This event effectively destroyed the province’s non-violent movement for civil rights, while at the same time increasing support and recruitment to the PIRA.

Roughly 3,600 people died during the Troubles, with thousands more maimed and injured. All sides in this conflict committed atrocities. It’s high point, its apogee, was the 1981 Hunger Strikes, in which ten Republican prisoners at the specially-built prison facility just outside Belfast, the H-Blocks, starved themselves to death in protest at the British government’s removal of their status as political prisoners. The man who led the Hunger Strike and was first to die, Bobby Sands, achieved international fame and recognition. The likes of Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela (and others like them around the world) lauded Sands for his courage and stance in the cause of national liberation. His detractors dismissed and continue to dismiss Bobby Sands as a terrorist, however, along with his comrades. This polarisation is still entrenched in Northern Irish politics up to the present day, one evident in the current spat between Sinn Fein and the DUP over the position of Arlene Foster.

Another important factor in Sinn Fein’s remarkable electoral breakthrough is the party’s opposition to Brexit. A majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to Remain in the EU during the UK-wide referendum on the issue, held in June 2016. This was no surprise considering that the province has benefited significantly from the UK’s membership of the EU in the form of agricultural and various other subsidies. Brexit throws up the issue of the border between British-controlled Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, which remains part of the EU. The prospect of what is currently an open border being changed to a hard border as a result of Brexit gave rise to serious concerns north and south of the border over a peace process that is far from impervious to such significant political and social shocks. Ultimately, Sinn Fein’s growing political success and influence in Northern Ireland is a testament to the party’s strong opposition to Brexit and a political vision that is far more progressive and compelling than any offered by their unionist opponents and counterparts. It also places the question of a united Ireland firmly back on the table.

John Wright

Sputnik International



Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sein Fein Calls for all-Irish Unity Referendum in Northern Ireland



On Friday, Sinn Fein chairman Declan Kearney, leader of Northern Ireland’s largest Irish nationalist party, stated:

A British vote to leave the EU intensifies the case for a vote on whether Northern Ireland should leave the UK. This outcome tonight dramatically changes the political landscape here in the north of Ireland; we’ll intensify our case for the calling of a border poll on a united Ireland. As a direct result, the British government forfeited any mandate to represent the interests of people here in the north of Ireland, in circumstances where they dragged the north out of Europe because of a vote to leave.

24 June 2016

Huffington Post


Sunday, 10 November 2013

10 November 2013. A Multimedia Presentation… Today was Remembrance Sunday in the Commenwealth



00 Remembrance Sunday 2013. 10.11.13


00 Queen Elizabeth. The Cenotaph. Whitehall, London UK. Remembrance Day 2013. 10.11.13



00 Remembrance Sunday Belfast UK 2013. 10.11.13


00 Remembrance Sunday UK 2013. 10.11.13


00 Remembrance Sunday Edinburgh UK 2013. 10.11.13



00 Canada Remembrance Sunday 2013


00 Australia Remembrance Sunday 2013



00 The Cenotaph. Whitehall, London UK. Remembrance Day. 10.11.13



There’s nothing to say. Nothing can suffice to commemorate sacrifice and courage. NOTHING.

Remember that when you the ususal cast of suspects blather about their “patriotism”. Ask them, “What branch of the forces did you serve in”. Do note the deafening silence… Richard Cheney said, “I had better things to do”…

Clear your mind… remember what’s straight and true… it was good last week… it’s good now… it’ll always be good. I stand in respect… what about you?


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… G8 Summit in Northern Ireland: US Politicians Disappointed on Syria, or, Policy Beyond the Bounds of Reason

01 Backstabber


The political hawks in Washington are frustrated. A carefully-prepared plan that they expected to roll out at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland unexpectedly misfired on them. The rightwingers around President Obama were set to adapt sanctions by the G8 to interfere militarily in the Syrian Civil War. Unexpectedly, the tenacity of Syrian government forces spoiled their plan to repeat the Libyan scenario, so, American policy makers in the Pentagon decided to compensate for their miscalculations by using military involvement in favour of the anti-government opposition. A G8 decision would’ve been political cover for such intervention. The authors of this plan had another goal… to isolate Moscow on the international arena by harping on Russia’s insistence that no outside forces should interfere in the Syrian Civil War. On the eve of the summit, Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper breached traditional diplomatic decorum by saying that if Russia didn’t support the other members in this, it might find itself outside the G8.

Another G8 summit ended… the goals of the saboteurs ended in the political scrapyard. Notably, the final communiqué, phrased in the most diplomatic terms, doesn’t have a single word about foreign interference in the Syrian Civil War. President Putin’s principled stance and diplomatic skills thwarted the plans of the political mischief-makers. All the leaders from the eight nations that took part in the summit signed the final communiqué. The notorious “Red Line”, mentioned by President Obama to please rightwingers in Washington, wasn’t even raised at the summit.

The intellectually-honest part of the American political class is aware of the true state of affairs. US Representative Michael J Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, asked, “What do you want to achieve in Syria?” Meanwhile, influential US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) sharply censured his more zealous colleagues, who wanted to drag the USA into another war. This shows us why the American delegation and its partners displayed some good-sense at the summit in Northern Ireland. Iraq and Afghanistan diminished the smugness and hubris of the creators of American foreign policy. It’s increasingly-clear that the revival of the arms race is a crushing burden on the American economy… it’s a bottomless pit that’s eaten up 17 trillion USD (552 trillion Roubles. 13 trillion Euros. 11.3 trillion UK Pounds). Moreover, dead soldiers are returning home in thousands of coffins, killed in locations thousands of miles away from the American heartland, for what cause, no one knows. These are bleak realities for Washington. Prospects of a new war, more trillions of dollars thrown down a rat-hole, and a new flood of zinc coffins are pointless, and many in the corridors of power in Washington have started to realise this.

00 Valentin Sergeyevich Zorin. 26.04.1325 June 2013

Valentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service



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