National Freedom for All Ireland (FFAI) Virtual Event

Hibernians Host Live Virtual Release of
“Plastic Justice Report”

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, National Freedom for All Ireland (FFAI) Chairman Martin Galvin has announced that the Hibernians will be hosting a virtual release of the “Plastic Justice Report” prepared by Relatives for Justice, Belfast. The report will be broadcast on YouTube on Saturday, October 24 at 4 pm Local time in Ireland, 11 am Eastern U.S. Per FFAI Chairman Galvin:
 
“Plastic Justice is a special report on how British state forces used plastic bullets to kill 17 innocent Irish people with impunity, will get a transatlantic launch on Saturday, October 24. In Belfast, joining Relatives for Justice Director Mark Thompson will be relatives of the victims:  Frances Meehan,(sister of Michael Donnelly) and Mark Kelly (brother of Carol Ann Kelly). America’s oldest and largest Irish organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, will co-host the launch on a virtual webinar broadcast, with Hibernians across the United States joining live, led by National Presidents Danny O’Connell and Karen Keane. The transatlantic launch will begin at 4 pm in Ireland / 11 am Eastern United States.

View Live at:
www.youtube.com/AncientOrderOfHibernians
Saturday October 24, 2020
4PM Ireland Time – 11AM EDT (New York)

 
“Plastic Justice” is a key chapter in the story of British repression. This groundbreaking report will highlight Britain’s political and legal strategies to deny truth and real justice to victims’ families, such as treating victims as criminals or rioters to justify murders and intimidate witnesses. Crucial documents and files continue to be systematically withheld. Inquests or legacy investigations that could shed light on these murders are arbitrarily denied. Not one British trooper or Royal Ulster Constabulary member has ever found guilty for any of these 17 killings, even where victims were children. Both Frances Meehan and Mark Kelly will speak about their personal experiences, fighting for justice.

The report and speakers are also expected to highlight how deadly plastic bullets were used to intimidate public demonstrations of political support on issues like the Blanket Protest and Hunger Strikes of 1980 and 1981 or Internment Day protests.

The AOH and LAOH feel privileged to be invited to be a part of this launch. Britain’s broken promises on issues like legacy justice and Brexit have sparked a growing call by Irish America that the United States must be actively engaged if we are to see Britain move on legacy issues, including ‘Plastic Justice.’ There is an increasing demand to hear speakers from Ireland on these issues. Health restrictions may block us from bringing speakers to America, but new technologies mean this transatlantic launch will be joined by Hibernians and Irish Americans across the United States.

I was present during one of the killings covered by this report, that of John Downes on August 12, 1984, and have personally witnessed the continuing cover-up or “plastic justice” meted out to the Downes family; I know this launch will be a moving and important event.

FFAI Chairman Martin Galvin

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE ON YOUTUBE

 

Bronx County AOH Irish Language Mass

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, joined by Gaelic Societies, Irish community groups and parishioners in the strongly Irish Woodlawn-McLean area will host their annual Irish language Mass on Saturday, September 12th, at 2 pm. This year’s Irish Mass, celebrated by Fr. Brendan Fitzgerald, will be available live across the country and Ireland on the St. Barnabas Parish Facebook page. Dedicated to those who kept Irish language and culture alive, the Irish Mass takes on added meaning this year for an Irish community overcoming COVID in the spirit our ancestors overcame being denied Catholic Church and Mass by British Penal Laws.

NATIONAL

 The Bronx AOH began hosting an Irish language Mass, as part of a New York State AOH initiative, proposed by past New York State President Vic Vogel. This year under AOH National President Danny O’Connell, Hibernians across the country are being encouraged to view the service on the St. Barnabas Facebook page www.facebook.com/stbarnabascatholicchurch. Irish-English translations of the liturgy were prepared, so that anyone can follow the prayers in English as they hear the Mass said in Irish – download the Mass Booklet here. A special Irish musical program will feature the Dawn Doherty School of Irish Music, and include Sean Ruane.

The AOH sponsored event flyer uses the symbol of a Mass Rock, celebrating the spirit of ancestors who overcame British Penal Laws to hear Mass said in Irish, as an example to those who are keeping Irish language and tradition alive today despite COVID.

Bronx County AOH President, and National Freedom for all Ireland Chair Martin Galvin noted:

“The Irish language is an important and indestructible part of our Irish heritage. Measures to wipe out the Irish language began even before penal laws to wipe out the Catholic religion in Ireland. Ireland’s cherished landmarks include Mass Rocks, where Gaelic speakers risked death or imprisonment simply to worship. COVID has given these Mass Rocks an added symbolism, for those prevented from attending Church by the health crisis.

” As an organization formed to promote Irish ideals, culture, history and national freedom, we can think of no more fitting way for AOH members to honor Irish heritage than an Irish Mass embodying all of these themes.”

“There has been a great response from AOH leaders nationally, Gaelic clubs, Woodlawn Irish community groups, musicians and individuals who would just like to hear the Mass said in the language of our ancestors. We are grateful to St. Barnabas and Fr. Fitzgerald for hosting the Mass and making it available nationally via the parish Facebook page.”

The Mass will be held in the St. Barnabas Main Church,409 East 241st Street near the Bronx River Parkway, Deegan Expressway or Metro-North Railroad, on Saturday September 12th at pm. It will go out live on the St. Barnabas Facebook Page. Safe seating restrictions and face masks will be required from those attending in person.

Submitted by Martin Galvin, Bronx County AOH President

Freedom For All Ireland Report – Chairman’s Report for the National Convention 2020

A chairde,

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster recently boasted she would never see a referendum on Irish unity in her lifetime, much less a united Ireland. A British Appeals Court ruled it was solely  up to Britain, if, when, or what to consider, before allowing any Irish unity vote. The British are designing new measures to bury the truth about the legacy murders of nationalists and to deny Republicans conflict injury pensions.

The British are clearly signaling their intent to hold onto the six counties permanently and to deny justice in order to cement that hold. Ireland needs America to play a vital role to get justice and national freedom for all Ireland. AOH leadership and initiatives are crucial to getting America to fulfill that vital role.

Under the leadership of our Worthy National President and National officers, the FFAI National Committee, including Brendan Moore, Gerry McHale, Malachy McAllister, Jim McLaughlin, Sean O’Dowd, Bob Bolbach and myself were assigned to implement the following Constitutional and Presidential Directives.

Article X-Section 15

FFAI Chairman is the major information resource relative to promoting support for a 32 county Ireland. As such, he is tasked with using all opportunities and means to provide members with background on developing issues and concerns. 

His responsibility includes providing varied means for communicating the AOH membership’s position on critical issues related to the above.

The chairman shall also organize and facilitate the annual FFAI Christmas appeal.

Presidential Directives

Support and inform the membership on all Congressional, state, and local government legislative action  relating to the abolition of the Partition of Ireland, or to injustices arising from the denial of freedom for all Ireland, including where feasible  initiating  and supporting resolutions or other legislative actions.

Prepare and submit articles reflecting AOH POSITIONS on issues relevant to freedom for all Ireland or injustices arising from the denial of freedom for all Ireland for publication in Irish-American, or Irish outlets.

Following these directives since our last National Convention, FFAI initiatives included:         

1-The AOH conducted national speaking tours on the Ballymurphy Massacre with Carmel Quinn, on the denial of legacy justice with Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, and on British complicity in collusion with Professor Mark McGovern.

2-In Congress the AOH arranged for speakers to brief the House Foreign Affairs Committee and obtained a series of Congressional Letters on Legacy issues which put British officials on notice they were under American Congressional scrutiny. We have lobbied in Washington and district offices to build a growing Congressional network that can be counted upon.  

3-In state legislatures, New York among others, held formal ceremonies celebrating  the centenaries of Ireland’s Declaration of Independence and 1918 vote for freedom (and were scheduled to commemorate the 1920 heroes of the Black and Tan War).

4-FFAI worked together with our National Immigration Committee and National Treasurer, to help FFAI Committee member Malachy McAllister in his quarter century fight against unjust deportation, as well as backing Irish political deportees and other immigration issues which are directly interconnected with the Irish conflict and denial of freedom for all Ireland. 

5-A 37 member AOH-LAOH delegation in February 2019, led by our National President and LAOH National President, attended the Ballymurphy Inquest, visited  Belfast, Derry, and Tyrone and represented AOH concerns to Irish government officials.

6- The AOH-LAOH had a record setting Christmas Appeal, approving grants for Relatives for Justice, Pat Finucane Centre, Holy Cross Ardoyne, EALU center for Tyrone Republican ex-political prisoners, New Lodge Commemoration Committee, Conway Mill Trust,  Cairde Strabane, St. Patrick Centre, Downpatrick, Duchas Oiriall-South Armagh, Bridges beyond Boxing, Belfast, Down Patriot Graves, Green Cross, Belfast National Graves, Omagh Basketball, Omagh Choir, and first time recipients Ballymurphy Families Committee, Museum of Free Derry, Tyrone National Graves and the Witness Project.

7-The monthly FFAI Bulletin is now part of the monthly email blast carried on the National and state AOH web sites. These bulletins provide monthly updates on a few key events in the north with short analysis. Our bulletins are now requested by other Irish organizations and individuals. Through these materials the AOH is influencing the agenda for these organizations.

8-Most recently, under a proposal by National Vice-President Danny O’Connell, the AOH initiated a series of video interviews with leading advocates of justice and freedom for all Ireland, beginning with Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice, Joe Austin and Brendan McFarlane of Belfast National Graves, and John Kelly and Adrian Kerr of the Bloody Sunday Trust and Museum of Free Derry. These interviews  explain and promote the work done by our Christmas Appeal grant recipients, and provide updates on important issues. These interviews also let our members hear firsthand how much AOH FFAI political work, financial contributions and publicity mean.  

NATIONAL SPEAKING TOURS  

Nothing is as inspirational as hearing firsthand from those still denied freedom in Ireland. Because of the work and interest of AOH members across the country the AOH was able to send speakers to Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Connecticut and Virginia along with New York, Philadelphia, Albany, New Jersey, and Washington DC. 

 AOH national tours made news in Irish and Irish American They gave AOH members opportunities to show leadership and build the organization locally. Other Irish organizations supported our events and  joined issues and priorities set by the AOH. These tours also gave a morale boost to victims groups in Ireland, as speakers returned and reported that America and the AOH was behind them.

These speaking tour events give a major boost to our Christmas Appeal

Proposals:

1-We are hoping to make a firm proposal for a new speaking tour in November which could provide a speaker for some of our Christmas Appeal events, follow-up on FFAI political issues post-election and motivate more areas to support our FFAI political and fundraising initiatives.

2-In the interim we will be working on the initiative of our National VP Danny O’Connell to bring updates or interviews to you via computer. We understand this is not as effective as bringing speakers here for you to meet, ask your own questions and share your concerns personally. 

3-FFAI has submitted a resolutions in anticipation of the 40th anniversary year of the 1981 Hunger Strike, to promote  national and local commemorative events about the legacy of the Hunger Strike martyrs and a resolution on British moves to cut off the truth on legacy killings. FFAI will recommend speakers relating to these issue.

CONGRESSIONAL INITIATIVES  

At the request of AOH FFAI, the House Foreign Affairs Committee hosted a special briefing by Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice and Professor Mark McGovern, only 9 days after Boris Johnson announced plans to stop prosecutions of British troopers during the 1969-98 conflict. Congressman Eliot Engel scheduled the briefing, attended by Congressmen, many Congressional aides, two observers  from the Irish Embassy and an observer from the British Northern Ireland Office. Mark Thompson  and Professor McGovern urged Congress, to take a lead along with Irish America and the Irish government in opposing a trooper amnesty which would be a political disaster and violation of the Good Friday agreement.

Among Congressmen present were Eliot Engel, Brian Higgins, Brendan Boyle, Tim Burchett, Bill Keating, Thomas Suozzi and Dan Kildee. Other Congressmen sent key aides, led by Billy Tranghese representing Congressman Richard Neal. The Irish government was represented by Deputy Head of Mission Emer Rocke and Political Counsellor Brian Cahalane.

The British pay close attention to American Congressional scrutiny. FFAI was able to organize this hearing and also a series of Congressional letters to the British Ambassador.

FFAI speakers from Ireland also help in AOH efforts to build up a network of Congressmen, who are aware of key FFAI issues and the importance of Irish issues to voters in their district. Brothers living in Congressional districts across the country, are a key part of this effort.

Proposals:

1-FFAI is calling upon AOH members across the country to contact your local Senators and Congressmen, and advise them that issues like legacy justice are important to Irish voters in their district. Try to establish contacts in local offices that we can contact about speakers from Ireland or Congressional letters etc   

STATES-CITIES HONOR HUNGER STRIKE MARTYRS LEGACY

 The AOH has been successful in getting some states, cities and municipalities to hold formal ceremonies commemorating the centenaries of Ireland’s Declaration of Independence and 1918 vote for freedom . After building credibility through ceremonies honoring the events of a century ago, next year we can try a more recent event. Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike, the  death of Bobby Sands MP and nine others. The Hunger Strike and what it represented should be the theme of resolutions in states, cities and municipalities across the state and nation. 

We can again show state and local officials that the AOH wants Irish issues and history treated with the same attention that other ethnic groups get for their issues and history.

Next year is also the centenary of the six county state. It is important to remember that the British are celebrating an area carved out of Ireland against the democratic wishes of the Irish people expressed in the all-Ireland vote of 1918 and Declaration of Independence. The Hunger Strike also highlights that the six county  Orange State treated Irish patriots as criminals and tortured them as part of a British propaganda strategy..

Proposals:

1-The National FFAI Resolution submitted to the Convention about the legacy of the 1981 Hunger Strike, will be modified and circulated across the country with AOH members nationally encouraged to seek state and municipal resolutions and ceremonies across the nation.

MALACHY McALLISTER AND DEPORTEES

Malachy McAllister and other Irish political deportee cases involve FFAI and Immigration issue. I have worked on these cases jointly with Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy and National Treasurer Sean Pender.

We are all disappointed at the injustice done Malachy McAllister. He of course is a personal friend and a key member of the National FFAI Committee. We should not overlook all that Malachy accomplished.

Few individuals could have inspired the support needed to keep Malachy in America so long. Senators Menendez, Schumer, Congressmen King, Engel, Smith, Neal and Pascrell among others personally intervened. Cardinal Dolan called the President. Many law enforcement and military officials appealed for him. The Irish Embassy backed him. The AOH and other Irish organizations campaigned for him. Malachy became a leading AOH member fighting for others.

Malachy has multiple grounds which should have entitled him to  legal permanent residence under American law. He was a political prisoner decades ago, in a war now long over. He and his children were targeted for assassination. The Good Friday and Weston Park agreements were said to hold promises for ex-prisoners which were never kept. 

Malachy McAllister became a political pawn, in Britain’s game of criminalization. The British want to brand Republicans as criminals. In the north they manipulate definitions of victim to disqualify injured Republican ex-prisoners from conflict pensions. Here Britain wants an American rubberstamp on criminalization through deportations and visa denial. 

We will continue to fight for him and also fight to insure that DHS/ICE does not try to victimize others at Britain’s behest.

February 2021 Fact-Finding Tour 

In 2019, Hibernians completed a highly publicized nine day fact-finding mission led by President Jim McKay and LAOH President Carol Sheyer and including leading Hibernians from 13 states. This fact-finding tour had a tremendous impact on everyone who attended. It was also a major morale boost to groups in Ireland who count on AOH support.

Next year we have hoping conditions will allow us to sponsor a similar tour. Following our Resolution about the 1981 Hunger Strike legacy, FFAI makes the following proposal.  

Proposal

1-In February of 2021,we are proposing a tour that would include meeting the families of all of the Hunger Strikers as well as discuss the continuing legacy and political meaning of the 1981 Hunger Strike today.

CHRISTMAS APPEAL

The 2019-2020 Christmas Appeal was a record breaking success with almost $100,000 awarded to a total of nineteen  groups.

Grants were awarded based on written applications, and recommendations from the National FFAI Committee. Final determinations were made by our National officers.

Every designated donation to approved groups was honored and groups named for designated donations got additional monies because we wanted contributions to reflect your feelings.

New applications were approved for the Ballymurphy Families Committee, Bloody Sunday Trust (which oversees the Museum of Free Derry), Tyrone National Graves, and the Witness Project headed by Sean Murray.

Repeat recipients included -Relatives for Justice, Pat Finucane Centre, Holy Cross Ardoyne, EALU-(means Escape in Irish)is a center for Republican ex-political prisoners, New Lodge Commemoration Committee, Conway Mill Trust, Tyrone AOH, Cairde Strabane, St. Patrick Centre, Downpatrick, Duchas Oiriall-South Armagh, Bridges beyond Boxing, Belfast, Down Patriot Graves, Green Cross, Belfast National Graves, Omagh Basketball and Omagh Choir. 

Donations can be sent to our PO Box:

AOH-FFAI
PO BOX 904
JEFFERSON VALLEY, NY 10535

Obviously we are concerned about the impact the health crisis may have on the 2020-21 Christmas Appeal. All states should be   involved in supporting the Christmas Appeal.

Proposal

1-FFAI is proposing that every state President, personally or through an appointee, support the Christmas Appeal within their state. States and county boards are encouraged to combine donations to earn the award given for $1,000 donors.    

FFAI MONTHLY BULLETINS

In response to requests for information we established a monthly FFAI Bulletin. All issues are now part of the monthly email blast. They are now carried on the National AOH site and the New York State web site. The aim is to give you monthly updates on a few key events in the north with short analysis and explanations.

SPECIAL THANKS

Special acknowledgement and thanks to our National officers, to the members of the FFAI National Committee, Brendan Moore, Gerry McHale, Malachy McAllister, Jim McLaughlin, and Sean O’Dowd, Bob Bolbach and to every AOH member across the country who works for Freedom for all Ireland!

Slan
Martin Galvin
June 10, 2020

Freedom For All Ireland Report – May 2020

May 2020

FFAI ISSUES UPDATE
Martin Galvin

A chairde:

A-Catholic Bishops, legal scholars and justice campaigners slam British plan on legacy killings- Four Catholic Bishops, legal experts and justice campaigners slammed British plans on crown legacy killings, accusing Britain of “bad faith” and “rewriting the rules of justice.” Instead of an Historical Investigations Unit investigating hundreds of controversial killings, including British trooper killings, Britain wants only a review by their appointed “independent body”. This panel would close all cases, unless they saw “new compelling evidence and a realistic prospect of a prosecution”. They would hold no investigation to look for new evidence, before ruling there was none.

Bishops Eamon Martin, Noel Treanor, Donal McKeown, Larry Duffy and Michael Router, expressed “alarm and disappointment” at the plan announced by British secretary Brandon Lewis. They said the British had stepped away from the Stormont House Agreement and the fundamental principle that “justice would be pursued, where possible, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator.” The Bishops concluded, “For those victims who do not feel justly treated, the wounds of the past will never fully heal. We therefore support the ongoing pursuit of appropriate criminal, legal and civic justice for all victims”.

Professor Kieran McEvoy, Dr Anna Bryson and Professor Louise Mallinder of Queen’s University Belfast, joined Committee for the Administration of Justice lawyer Gemma McKeown, to publish: Prosecutions, Imprisonment and the Stormont House Agreement: A Critical Analysis of Proposals on Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland. Ms. McKeown said,“ For some members of the current government, and some back-benchers, even one soldier being convicted and imprisoned for conflict related offences is one too many. It is that urge for impunity, dressed up as ‘witch-hunt’ that appears to be propelling government policy”. They found Britain’s plan incompatible with the European Convention on Human rights (ECHR), the Good Friday Agreement, and Stormont House Agreement. The British countered opposition by referring their proposals to be rubberstamped b the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster. Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said : “This committee does not hold the confidence of the many thousands of people from across our entire community bereaved and injured as a result of collusion and direct state violence”.
Amnesty International’s Grainne Teggart said Britain’s plans “amount to a further betrayal of victims and are the latest attempt to close down paths to justice”…Amnesty will be submitting to the Westminster inquiry to highlight a human rights compatible way forward to finally deal with the past.”
B-No new Irish government formed nearly 100 days after election-The search continues for a governing coalition supported by at least 80 elected Dail representatives. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil agreed on a “full and equal partnership” for five years, during which they would rotate the position of Taoiseach. Both parties lost seats in the February election, ending in a parliament, unable to muster a majority. Fianna Fail with 38 seats and Fine Gael with 35,are negotiating with the Green Party holding 12 seats. All three parties have competing interests and all compromises made by party negotiating teams must be approved by a full party members vote..Any agreement by the Greens must be passed by two-thirds of the party membership before they join a coalition. The Greens have been racked with internal turmoil over entering talks and members have been meeting via video link to debate Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s policy framework document. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael could also try Labour and other small parties as potential partners but there is no guarantee any party will join a coalition facing economic dislocation and hard choices. Both parties still refuse to talk to Sinn Fein which won 37 seats, citing historic links to the IRA. The Fine Gael-Fianna Fail policy document contains a section on a “Shared Island” and proposes a unit to work towards a “united island” but makes no reference to a united Ireland.
C- Kevin Barry Artt, who escaped Long Kesh and won refuge in America sees conviction dismissed 37 years later-The Diplock Court conviction which sent Kevin Barry Artt to Britain’s Long Kesh Prison in 1983,was reversed because the written notes of his so-called confession were fabricated by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Artt was one of 37 IRA members who escaped from Britain’s top security prison in 1983.He settled in California, and defeated Britain’s attempt to extradite him back to the north. He had been convicted in a non-jury court where the only evidence was a disputed admission that he was one of the IRA members who killed a notorious Long Kesh prison official in 1978.This conviction was reversed because scientific tests proved RUC members revised their written notes of the statement to convict him. The ruling means that Artt should never have been sent to Long Kesh, forced to escape or flee to the USA.
Kevin Barry Artt was part of the great escape from Long Kesh , regarded as one of the biggest prison escapes in history. He fled to America, settling in California and establishing himself as a successful car salesman. In 1992 he was arrested on a passport violation, and British officials filed to have him extradited back to Long Kesh. In a landmark 1998 decision the United States Court of Appeals refused to extradite him and two other escapees, Terry Kirby, and Pol Brennan, upholding their right to show the political bias in Britain’s non-jury Diplock court political trials. Mr Artt, who has lived on the west coast ever since, renewed an appeal he had lodged before his escape. He challenged his so-called confession during RUC interviews in 1981,maintaining he had been subjected to ill-treatment, coercion, threats, misleading promises and that the RUC had fabricated the statements. Scientific tests proved him right.
Following the verdict Mr Artt’s lawyer Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane said: “This is the latest in a number of appeals in this jurisdiction which highlight a depressing enthusiasm on the part of RUC officers to lie on oath to a court to secure a conviction of an innocent man at any cost.”
D-No checks on British control over border poll-A Court of Appeals proceeding started by campaigner Raymond McCord to compel the British Secretary for the north to set out criteria for holding a border poll on Irish reunification, has instead
resulted in a British Court of Appeal ruling that no criteria are required. The ruling was the latest in a series of cases brought by Mr. McCord testing issues like Brexit and the Good Friday Agreement, which ended in adverse rulings. He claimed the British Secretary’s failure to set out circumstances in which he would direct the holding of a poll on unifying Ireland breached constitutional issues.
The court said the British Secretary could decide what factors to consider for granting a border poll and noted there was no requirement for guidelines in either the 1998 Belfast Agreement or in the legislation enacting it, the Northern Ireland Act.
E-Britain rejects EU request for post-Brexit Belfast office- The British government has rejected the EU’s request for a Belfast office needed to check post-Brexit Irish border trade. The EU had to close its offices across the north when Britain exited the bloc on January 31st, but EU officials must be present to monitor checks and controls on goods crossing the Irish Sea, which could then be transported into the 26 counties. Under Britain’s withdrawal agreement, the north stays in the single market, but remains within Britain’s customs territory to allow it to gain from future British trade deals. However the full EU customs code has to be enforced on goods travelling between the six counties and British mainland.
The protocol agreed last October stated that EU officials “have the right to be present” during customs and regulatory checks on goods entering the north from Britain, in order to ensure they comply with Single Market rules.
Irish Tánaiste, Simon Coveney said the EU understood that British officials would carry out the required checks but that there would be an EU office with officials able to observe checks taking place.“The whole point was to provide reassurance not just to Ireland but to the EU more generally that the Single Market was not being undermined or compromised… In other words, some across the EU have a concern that Northern Ireland becomes a sort of unguarded back door for goods to come into the Single Market through Ireland and the protocol has to deal with that.” The agreement was supposed to avoid a hard border across Ireland.

REMBERING THE LEGACY OF HUNGER STRIKE MARTYRS

Thirty-nine years ago this month, in May 1981,Bobby Sands MP, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara died on Hunger Strike in the infamous H-Blocks of Long Kesh, rather than let Britain brand them as criminals wearing criminal uniforms.

These men were born into Britain’s Orange State, which used systematic religious discrimination in employment, housing and voting rights to make them second class citizens in their own land. Civil rights marches were met with violence, leading to conflict.

After events including Internment or indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial, the Hooded Men torture, the Ballymurphy Massacre, Bloody Sunday and a Hunger Strike led by legendary IRA Commander Billy McKee in 1972 , British policy makers conceded that those imprisoned because of the Irish conflict, were not criminals but special category political prisoners.

Conditions associated with prisoner-of-war status, such as no criminal uniform, no prison work, association with other political prisoners, etc, were honored in the cages of Long Kesh.

Soon British ministers who claimed there was no legitimate struggle for freedom in Ireland and no political prisoners merely criminals in Long Kesh or Armagh, were challenged with questions about large numbers of Irish prisoners who even Britain recognized as special category.

The British decided on a new strategy to label Irish political prisoners as criminals, and make them living symbols that Ireland ’s struggle for freedom was a criminal enterprise.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ordered that from March 1, 1976 Irish Republicans must dress up as criminals. She would use them to label Ireland’s historic struggle for freedom as “800 years of crime.”

Those jailed for actions taking place on or before February 28, 1976 would still be recognized as special category prisoners, not wear a criminal uniform and instead, retain all of the conditions of political status.

Those engaging in the very same actions as part of the same struggle after that date, were to be branded as criminals. They must wear criminal uniforms and be confined in H-block cells, as living symbols that they were criminals not patriots.

Kieran Nugent became the first Republican prisoner handed a criminal uniform. He shouted back that his British jailers would have to nail it to his back in order to force him to wear it.

Hundreds of “blanketmen” would be held in Long Kesh. The British tried beatings, brutal searches, intimidation and loss of remission to make them accept criminal uniforms and criminal status.

A steadily escalating campaign to break them and Armagh women political prisoners was resisted by an escalating protest campaign by Republican prisoners.

Massive support for them was provided by Churchmen, politicians and human rights activists who recognized that these Republican prisoners would never have been inside a prison except for the struggle against British rule in the north.

All attempts at honorable resolution were rejected by Thatcher and the British, even a mediation by Cardinal O’Fiaich and a 53 day hunger strike in 1980 led by Brendan Hughes.

Ten Irish Republican patriots, Bobby Sands MP, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh ,Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine would ultimately give their lives on hunger strike rather than betray their struggle by bowing to Thatcher’s criminalization.

Thatcher was beaten albeit at a terrible price. The world recognized that criminals do not die such deaths for the freedom of their country.

We can be proud that America, including AOH members across the country, ,marched daily at British consulates, generated national publicity, and enlisted Congressmen to visit the north and were crucial part of their victory.

Now 39 years later we remember all of the Hunger Strike Martyrs, who locked away in a British prison, overcame everything in the arsenal of the British Empire to win a victory for Irish freedom.

Next year the 40th anniversary of their heroic sacrifice the AOH FFAI is planning a program of commemorative events, state and city resolutions, speaking tours and visit to the north to honor the Hunger Strikers and their unforgettable legacy.

FFAI VIDEOS
https://youtu.be/GETiU5ASOB0
Most of you have seen the video provided by Mark Thompson, thanking the AOH and LAOH for our donations to Relatives for Justice, and for our political and solidarity work. We had intended to video similar messages for you from the recipients of your Christmas Appeal grants. Being unable to travel to Ireland in March we asked Mark for a video message and as usual he exceeded all our expectations. At the suggestion of Danny O’Connell and with help from Lee Patterson, Sean Pender and the National FFAI Committee, we are trying to do a series of messages and updates for you.

MALACHY McALLISTER-MAY 28TH
Malachy McAllister still has a deadline to leave the United States on or before May 28th. FFAI has been working with Malachy, his legal representatives ,National VP Sean Pender and Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy. All of our National leaders are involved in Malachy’s fight to remain here.

FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

Please read and distribute the monthly FFAI Bulletin. The is now available on AOH national email blasts, or on the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.

Slan,

MARTIN GALVIN

Freedom For All Ireland Report – April 2020

            FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A chairde:

A-Search continues for new Irish government coalition after Sinn Fein surprise in February election-Nearly two months after an election producing a three way split between, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Fine Gael, the leader and composition of the new Irish government are still unknown. Sinn Féin gained 14 seats, and now holds 37,with Fianna Fail at 38,and Fine Gael at 35 seats. At least 80 seats are needed for a government majority and no party is close..The Dáil (Irish parliament)met on February 20th but no one had the votes to form a new government. Outgoing  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar resigned, but will remain as a caretaker until his successor is chosen. Sinn Fein Party leader Mary Lou McDonald began contacting smaller parties, including the Greens, Labour, Solidarity People Before Profit and the Social Democrats, but their combined numbers would not be enough for a majority. During the campaign, Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin said he would not join with Sinn Féin, because of its links to the IRA. A Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein combination would need only a few votes from Independents or the smaller parties. As results came in, Mr Martin appeared to soften and open the door to partnership with Sinn Féin. However Fianna Fail has since firmly rejected this option. Fine Gael, now the third biggest party, also says it will not join a coalition with Sinn Féin. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are in negotiations about forming a new coalition, with support from independents or one of the smaller parties. However, nothing is set. The results of the February 8th election registered dissatisfaction with the Fine Gael led government on issues like housing, homelessness, hospital waiting lists, and pensions. A planned ceremony for the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin constabulary, sparked  memories of the infamous Black and Tans. The ceremony was cancelled but not before boycotts, protests and awakened patriotic feelings. Sinn Fein gained votes on all these issues and voters wanted someone new. A Fianna Fail and Fine Gael coalition, might succeed long term or might trigger voter resentment next time around.

B-No border poll for united Ireland in my lifetime says Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster.-Despite recent opinion polls  showing increased support for getting rid of the border, Arlene Foster, who turns 50 this year, told BBC’s The View there would not be a united Ireland nor even a poll in her lifetime.  The Stormont First Minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader  was asked if she thought she would see a united Ireland in her lifetime. She replied: “No I don’t”. When asked if she would see a border poll in the same timeframe, she again replied: “No, I don’t“. Asked why, she added:”Because there has to be evidence there...As you know the test for a border poll is that people would vote for it in a majority. And there’s no evidence of that…Yes, people can have different opinion polls, but there’s no tangible evidence if you look right across Northern Ireland”. The Good Friday agreement says that Britain’s six county secretary “may by order direct the holding of a poll… if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting” would vote to be part of a united Ireland. Foster thinks this means British officials need not allow a vote in her lifetime. Meanwhile the DUP refused to join in a discussion week organised by Shared Ireland, a group which believes unity is the way forward, but asks unionists to take part in discussions. Colin Harvey, professor of human rights at Queens University, said unionists faced a challenge. “There has been a lot of focus on those proposing Irish reunification,” he said.”But if these referendums do take place, if there’s a referendum in the north, what is the proposition of unionists?”

C-New British Secretary Brandon Lewis plans Legacy Whitewash-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson removed Julian Smith as six county secretary and replaced him with Brandon Lewis, the former chair of the Conservative Party. Smith had brokered the deal to get the north’s parties back to the Stormont Assembly, after a 3 year impasse. He was faulted for pledging to deliver the legacy bodies agreed in the December 2014, Stormont House Agreement. The “New Decade New Deal” promised these laws within 100 days and this pledge was crucial to six county nationalists and the Irish government. The new plan for legacy cases is designed to shield British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, from investigations which could lead to prosecutions. For decades British crown forces had a de facto immunity or impunity, and were not punished for murders on behalf of the crown. Legal excuses were found for mass murders like the Ballymurphy Massacre or Bloody Sunday. Nationalists fought court battles to define right to life protections under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The leading case stemmed from the murder of the Gibraltar 3.It held that the right to life created  legal obligations (1)to conduct full, open and transparent investigations into state killings, which are public, independent and involve victims’ families, and(2) a duty of command, control and training over its forces who take life. The Stormont House Agreement made by the British and Irish governments and five of the north’s political parties in December 2014,promised 4 new legacy bodies to fulfil these obligations. The key body was a Historical Investigations Unit. The HIU would investigate almost 2,000 Troubles killings including those by British forces or collusion killings. An Independent Commission on Information Retrieval(ICIR)could give information to families in exchange for immunity. There would be an Oral History Archive and an Implementation and Reconciliation Group. The new plan is a gimmick to close the vast majority of almost 2,000 unsolved cases and stop them from ever being re-opened. Cases would be  reviewed by what the British say  will be an “independent body”. Only where it saw “new compelling evidence and a realistic prospect of a prosecution”, would they investigate.  All other cases would be  permanently blocked from further investigations. The updated legacy plan was set out on the same day as Boris Johnson’s Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Jonny Mercer, announces legislation to protect former soldiers from “vexatious” historical investigations. Irish Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney said the measure had “significant changes” from the legacy approach signed up to in the Stormont House Agreement. Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin said the new plan was “unacceptable”. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called it “an act of spectacular bad faith”. Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said ” the British government has once again moved the goal posts to protect those within its armed forces and those within illegal organisations they colluded with. Its ultimate aim is to prevent the truth from emerging about its role in the conflict”.

D-Final chapter in Renewable Heat Scandal that led to 3 year Stormont collapse- The Renewable Heat Initiative, ridiculed as “Cash for Ash” or “Money to Burn,” which cost taxpayers 480 million pounds, and led to a three year collapse of the Stormont Assembly, ended without political fireworks in a quiet report by Judge Patrick Coghlin. Arlene Foster apologized for her failures but would not resign as DUP leader and First Minister. Coghlin was critical of Foster, for endorsing a plan which allowed businesses to make a profit by burning unneeded fuel, when she was minister at the Department of Enterprise, Trade Investment (DETI).Foster admitted she had not read the legislation, but blamed her advisors and civil service. Traditional Unionist Voice head Jim Allister said “by spreading the blame widely, some may have escaped the sharper criticism that they deserved…Yet, the question remains – will there be consequences for anyone? In any other jurisdiction it is hard to imagine that heads would not roll. But here, even the concept that the buck stops with the Minister when a department spectacularly fails, as DETI did, has become so muted that a preemptive apology seems to do.” After the scandal broke in November 2016,there were calls for Foster’s resignation. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness asked Foster to step aside temporarily, while the matter was under investigation. When Foster refused, he resigned. Under the power-sharing rules, this meant the assembly could not meet. It remained closed for three years.

                 CHRISTMAS APPEAL APPRECIATION

Nineteen applicants will receive a record amount in FFAI  Christmas Appeal grants. The presentations were scheduled to be made personally this past week, but had to be postponed along with meetings to plan FFAI strategy proposals for our National Convention. With the British moving on a legacy whitewash, and added financial burdens of working despite closed offices, these groups tell us that our AOH-LAOH grants are desperately needed ! Four first time applicants will receive grants including : the Ballymurphy Massacre Families Committee (2) Museum of Free Derry operated by Bloody Sunday Trust,(3) Tyrone National Graves and (4)the Witness Project headed by Sean Murray. Repeat recipients include: Relatives for Justice, Pat Finucane Centre, Holy Cross Ardoyne-headed by Fr. Gary Donegan, EALU-( Escape in Irish) centre for  Tyrone Republican ex-political prisoners, Greater New Lodge Commemoration Committee, Conway Mill Trust, Cairde Strabane, St. Patrick Centre, Duchas Oiriall-South Armagh, Bridges beyond Boxing, Down Patriot Graves, Green Cross, Belfast National Graves, Omagh Basketball and Omagh Choir.

New York and Pennsylvania were the top state contributors. Virginia rose to third and is a major success story. Jim McLaughlin and Terry Riley and Virginia challenge each division to earn awards for $1000 donations. There were some welcome successes in California, Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire along with repeat success in Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Louisiana and Kentucky. The LAOH must also be congratulated for a major increase in its contribution. America can make a difference for the six counties still denied freedom in Ireland, but only  if the AOH and LAOH, as the voice of the Irish in America, lead the way. Our donations to carefully chosen charities through monies raised by the FFAI Annual Christmas Appeal, alongside our political and educational campaigns, are the cornerstone of our FFAI initiative.

            

 

           FFAI SPIRIT AND DETERMINATION

                 

All of us have seen a great many things which we took for granted disappear, because of the current health crisis. That list includes platforms which we counted on, to help those in Ireland still denied freedom. St. Patrick’s Day parades, always an Irish rallying point, were lost. The Irish Presidential Forum, forcing candidates to speak to Irish issues has been pushed back. New York Hibernians lost formal ceremonies in the state Senate and Assembly memorializing the sacrifices of Terence MacSwiney, Kevin Barry and other patriots a century ago during the Black and Tan War.

 

Meanwhile the crisis has not slowed British injustice. As the AOH warned at a House Foreign Affairs Committee  Congressional hearing, the British government designed legacy bodies that were supposed to open the door to truth, but will instead nail that door shut. Recently I met Emma de Souza, the County Derry woman whose application for her American husband was refused because she said she was Irish not British  under the terms of the Good

 

Friday Agreement. According to her the British government’s attitude was that the GFA was something the Labour Party negotiated more than 20 years ago, and the Tories did not have to bother keeping today.

 

Meanwhile the clock continues ticking for Malachy McAllister, whose deadline for deportation remains the end of May, and has lost chances to push his issue on St. Patrick’s Day with Cardinal or at the Presidential forum.

 

Hopefully this national crisis will end soon. We will get through it with the Irish spirit and unbreakable determination that was forged within us as part of our Irish heritage. As part of that Irish spirit and determination we cannot forget those still denied Freedom for all Ireland, and come back stronger than ever behind them!    

 

                     FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

Please read and distribute the monthly FFAI Bulletin. The is now available on AOH national email blasts, or on the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.

                                                   

                                                  Slan,

 

                                                 MARTIN GALVIN

 

 

Freedom For All Ireland Report – February 2020

FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

A chairde:

A-Stormont returns but bad faith on British financial pledges charged – Two days before the deadline threatening a new election, agreement was reached to restore the Stormont Assembly, after a three year absence. DUP head Arlene Foster returned as the north’s first minister, while Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill was named deputy first minister. The agreement to restore the assembly was welcomed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and accompanied by British promises of extra funding to meet the north’s economic crisis in areas like health and education. However almost immediately new Finance Minister Conor Murphy charged that the British had “stepped back from its financial commitments” and the actual financial package was “an act of bad faith”, far less than the parties had been led to believe keeping the north in an “austerity trap.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson termed it a “momentous day…after three years without devolved government, an executive can now get on with the job of delivering much needed reforms to the health service, education and justice”.”Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar commended the six county political parties “for their decision to put the people they represent first and make measured compromises to reach a deal”. In a surprising move the DUP backing Sinn Fein member Alex Maskey as speaker instead of the SDLP member in line for the position. Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill will now have to show if they can share power and deliver on the commitments in the new Stormont. The five largest parties in the north, the DUP, Sinn Fein Alliance, SDLP and UUP also got ministerial posts. With the exception of the role of justice minister, posts are picked using the D’Hondt system, according to numbers in the assembly. The Justice Ministry is different because the DUP will not allow members from the nationalist SDLP or Sinn Fein to hold this post. The key stumbling blocks were the petition of concern, which had been wielded as a veto by the DUP, and an Irish language act. The new deal requires use of the petition, be “reduced and returned to its intended purpose” and would “only be used in the most exceptional circumstances and as a last resort, having used every other mechanism”. The deal pledges legislation for both an Irish language commissioner and an Ulster-Scots commissioner. Irish language group Conradh na Gaeilge said it was a “historic advancement” but added it “falls very much short” of promises for an Irish Language act.

B-No honors for Black and Tans as planned ceremony backfires – A planned commemoration honoring the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police forces was “deferred” by the Irish justice minister after boycotts and popular outrage. The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) were formed in the early 19th century to help keep Ireland under British rule. The prefix Royal was added to the name of Irish Constabulary because of their efforts to put down the Fenians, including many Irish Americans and American Hibernians who fought during America’s Civil War. The DMP identified the leaders of 1916 to be shot. During the Irish War of Independence (1919-21), the British government bolstered RIC ranks by recruiting thousands of ex- British soldiers, mainly from England. The RIC special reserve were nicknamed the Black and Tans because of their distinctive uniforms, while a group of former British officers were known as the Auxiliaries. They were described in ballads as “England’s foul horde”  using terror tactics against the Irish, targeting civilians and burning homes  and farms including Balbriggan and sections of Cork. Speaking about his decision to defer the event, Justice Minister Flanagan said: “There were those in the RIC who committed atrocities. The horrific record of the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries is well known. But there others officers who behaved with dignity and honour.” Dublin City councillors voted to boycott the Dublin Castle event with a motion that was passed by 38 votes to 10.The Wolfe Tone’s song “Come Out Ye Black and Tans” shot to the top of the play list. Newscasts and editorials reminded the public of the history of the force would be not just remembered but honored by a any such commemoration. The deferred commemoration is considered a  factor in the loss of popularity in opinion for Fine Gael in the upcoming Irish election.

C-Brexit comes but real problems only beginning – Hundreds of anti-Brexit campaigners held demonstrations along the Irish border as Britain left the European Union on January 31st. Protesters gathered at six locations along the border in counties Louth, Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Donegal. Stormont Finance Minister, Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein, said: “This part of Ireland did not consent to Brexit, we voted significantly to remain within the EU and we are being taken out of the EU without consent. There is now an 11 month transition period where Britain remains in the EU’s customs union and single market and continues to obey EU rules but is no longer part of the political institutions. There are no longer any British MEPs in the European Parliament. Now Britain must negotiate a trade deal with the European Union that includes Ireland. Britain wants access for its goods and services to the EU but wants out the customs union and single market and an end the overall jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. All 27 member states and the European Parliament have to be in agreement on a trade deal. Formal talks might only begin in March and Johnson has said there will be no extensions to the transition period. If there is no trade deal  by the end of the year, then the Britain faces the prospect of tariffs on exports.

D-Wolfe Tones were targets of Miami Showband Massacre – The lead singer of the Wolfe Tones, believes they were the intended target of the loyalist attack that claimed the lives of three members of the Miami Showband. The Miami Showband were targeted after being stopped at a bogus patrol, manned by UDR and UVF members, in the early hours of July 31 1975.Lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy  were murdered as they returned to Dublin after a concert in Banbridge, Co Down. All three were shot several times, after a bomb was placed under the band’s van to make it seem as though the group had been transporting explosives. Top of ForBottom of FormTwo members of the UVF gang behind the attack, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, were killed when the bomb exploded prematurely. UDR members Thomas Raymond Crozier and Rodney Shane McDowell, and UVF member James Somerville, were convicted of the murders. Brian Warfield of The Wolfe Tones, said shortly before the Miami Showband attack the band were warned that their lives were at risk. Adding that they had been warned not to travel across the border in the mid-70s following an incident at a GAA club outside of Kilkeel when they had to flee the area by driving across the Mourne Mountains. Mr Warfield said: “I believe the massacre of the Miami was set up for the Wolfe Tones on that night.” “We were playing in a big marquee … I came out and the organizers

said to me ‘you can’t go home the main road’.”I said why is that and he said ‘because there is a blockade waiting for you down there’.”He said, “we’re going to take you over the mountains of Mourne”, which they did”.”The day we got back to Dublin the Special Branch said that the Wolfe Tones were not to go north again, that our lives were in danger.”I believe that the Glenanne Gang were in that front bar …getting ready to pick up the Wolfe Tones on the way home.

CHRISTMAS APPEAL

There is still time to contribute to Freedom for all Ireland and the Christmas Appeal. The Stormont Assembly was restored after three years, but the British government stepped back from its financial pledges putting the north in a new austerity trap. Brexit was pushed through with long term effects on Ireland that will not be fully seen for years. Legacy mechanisms promised at Stormont House in 2014, will finally be moved forward but only after the British and DUP have blocked truth and justice for families of victims murdered by the crown or loyalist agents. The British want to remove  Human Rights Acts protections formally written into the Good Friday Agreement, giving a legalized immunity for British troopers. The DUP wants to undercut investigations of crown forces by the Historical Investigations Unit.

Those still denied freedom in Ireland count on the AOH and LAOH to stand behind them. Those who participated in last February’s AOH-LAOH tour saw and heard firsthand how important our grants are.

We have already received more appeals for help than ever before from justice groups, ex-prisoners, cultural groups, etc.

Don’t let them down!!!

AOH-LAOH FFAI CHRISTMAS APPEAL
PO Box 904
Jefferson Valley,
New York 10535

REGISTER NOW FOR PRESIDENTIAL FORUM

At one time, it was commonplace at Irish events to hear speakers ask why American presidents never spoke about Irish issues like they took up the issues of other countries. That ended in 1992 because of the work done by John Dearie and the pledges given by candidate Bill Clinton, which changed the Irish political landscape so dramatically.

 The 1992 Presidential Forum was historic for Irish America because of pledges given by future President Bill Clinton about a visa for Gerry Adams, a special envoy which became George Mitchell, and the question about Joe Doherty and political asylum which led to deferred action for Irish political deportees like Matt Morrison, Gabriel Megahey and Brian Pearson etc.

 The most important step in any Irish political forum is guaranteeing a big enough crowd so that presidential candidates

feel it necessary to make time to speak about our Irish issues. Former Assemblyman John Dearie has asked the AOH for help. Judge McKay will be one of the panelists.

Please register for the event by emailing IrishForum2020@gmail.com, and include your name and telephone number. The forum will be held at 1 pm on April 26th at Fordham Law School, on West 62nd Street, New York.

FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

Please read and distribute the monthly FFAI Bulletin. The is now available on AOH national email blasts, or on the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.

Slan,

Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

NB-Because of time constraints this must be sent out before the Irish General Election. Will have a full analysis in the next bulletin!

NYS FFAI Christmas Appeal

Freedom For All Ireland
NYS Christmas Appeal

Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

A copy of the flyer, can be downloaded by clicking here

John Dearie is heading the Presidential Forum where our National President will be a panelist.One of the crucial parts of having a successful candidates forum is guaranteeing the candidates of a big and influential audience that is worthy of their time during a campaign.This is a platform for him to get that message out. I know first hand from being one of the panelists in the historic 1992 Presidential Forum how much work goes into filling the seats.
 
Was hoping Malachy would be giving a final victory  and thanks speech but we are not there yet and this is his chance to give us an update or if necessary a call to action.
 
Counting on everyone’s help to get the word out with email blasts and downstate  brothers working the event  to make this a success and prestige event for New York State AOH.
 
Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh!
Martin 

NYS AOH Christmas Appeal

A chairde

The below report in the IRISH ECHO details the New York State AOH FFAI event this Wednesday January 15th will feature key information about the upcoming Presidential Forum from John Dearie and the latest update from Malachy McAllister on his fight against deportation.

This is the New York State Board FFAI  function for the Christmas Appeal and also a chance for Divisions or Counties who cannot do a $1000 donation individually to be part of New York’s contribution to the Christmas Appeal which will be earmarked for Relatives for Justice.

Checks can be given to New York State AOH


Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

A full size copy of the flyer, can be downloaded by clicking here

NYS FFAI Christmas Appeal

Freedom For All Ireland
NYS Christmas Appeal

Martin Galvin
NYAOH FFAI Chair
National AOH FFAI Chair

A full size copy of the flyer, can be downloaded by clicking here

John Dearie is heading the Presidential Forum where our National President will be a panelist.One of the crucial parts of having a successful candidates forum is guaranteeing the candidates of a big and influential audience that is worthy of their time during a campaign.This is a platform for him to get that message out. I know first hand from being one of the panelists in the historic 1992 Presidential Forum how much work goes into filling the seats.
 
Was hoping Malachy would be giving a final victory  and thanks speech but we are not there yet and this is his chance to give us an update or if necessary a call to action.
 
Counting on everyone’s help to get the word out with email blasts and downstate  brothers working the event  to make this a success and prestige event for New York State AOH.
 
Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh!
Martin 

Freedom For All Ireland Report – December 2019

A chairde:

FFAI ISSUES UPDATE

 

A-Johnson has his Brexit majority – Boris Johnson picked up 47 seats and an overall majority more than 70 seats, which will empower him “to get Brexit done quickly.” Meanwhile wins by nationalists and republicans in the north and the Scottish National Party in Scotland, kept Irish unity and Scottish independence on the agenda.

 Johnson called the British General Election after a series of parliamentary defeats blocked him from moving forward with Brexit and his renegotiated withdrawal agreement out of the European Union. He banked on winning an outright Tory majority in the election, picking up enough MPs approve his deal. With the largest Tory majority in 30 years, he has his parliamentary backing to get out of the EU by 31 January. Johnson wants to complete a new trade deal with the bloc by December 2020 or go without any trade deal and terminate any interim agreements by the end of 2020.

 Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbin will resign after the worst showing by Labour in 30 years.

 In the north the Democratic Unionist Party, went into the election with 10 seats and expected to pick up the seat vacated by the retiring Sylvia Hermon. Instead the DUP suffered a “Friday the 13th nightmare” defeat. Both deputy leader Nigel Dodds and Emma Little-Pengelly were ousted, while the vacated seat was taken by Alliance.

 The SDLP won seats in Derry and South Belfast, leaving the DUP and unionists with only 8 of the north’s 18 Westminster seats. It is the first time nationalist parties held more seats than unionists in the six counties. Nationalists swept all border communities and 3 of Belfast’s 4 seats.

The DUP also lost all leverage at Westminster. The party’s 10 votes had been needed first by Theresa May and then Boris Johnson to become Prime Minister. However the DUP broke with Johnson over his Brexit plan, calling it a “betrayal agreement” because it allowed for checks and regulations on goods which crossed the Irish sea. Getting his Brexit deal done proved more important to Johnson than keeping his word to unionists about avoiding a line down the Irish Sea.DUP objections to Johnson’s deal will now be dismissed.  

 The loss of Nigel Dodds, party leader at Westminster, and the seat he had held for 18 years to John Finucane, was a bitter blow for the party.

Meanwhile the SNP swept 48 of Scotland 59 seats. Party leader Nicola Sturgeon called the result a “renewed, refreshed and strengthened” mandate for Scottish independence. Johnson said he will not allow Scotland a new referendum on independence but the calls for a new referendum continue and will be noted in Ireland.

B-Britain reneges on OTR letters for Republicans while moving  amnesty for British troopers-Sixty-seven year old John Downey, is being held without bail in Maghaberry Prison, on IRA related charges from 1972,despite an OTR pledge by the British crown that he would not be prosecuted. Meanwhile Boris Johnson has pledged what amounts to a legal amnesty for British troopers, by changing the Human Rights Act, to cease applying to any acts by British forces that took place before 2000, including murders during the Troubles.

This move would cut-off access to British courts for relatives of victims killed by British crown forces, and violate specific sections of the Good Friday Agreement where Britain pledged to put the European Convention of Human Rights into law for the north, with direct access to the courts.

John Downey had been arrested in 2013 and accused of involvement in an IRA attack in England.However those charges were dismissed because he had been granted immunity in an OTR “on the run” letter,which pledged he was not wanted for arrest, questioning or charge by the crown. Terms for the release of Republican prisoners and closure for those Republicans, who the crown wanted to make prisoners for pre-1998 actions, were high on the agenda in negotiations. Tony Blair, the British leader in these negotiations, said the OTR issue was “absolutely critical”, “fundamental” and talks could have “collapsed” without a satisfactory settlement. Negotiations on OTRs continued after the Good Friday Agreement and were amplified in the Weston Park Accord of 2001.The British, in Paragraph 20, pledged to take such steps necessary to insure that prosecutions for pre-April 1998 actions against members of organizations on ceasefire were “no longer pursued”. Administrative mechanisms were constructed to carry oral and later written immunity pledges. Senior staff  were assigned to carry out this agreed process. Republicans who had lived years outside the north returned home and lived openly. Following the 2013 arrest and the 2014 dismissal of all charges, the British apparently decided to renege on these immunity grants and make an example of John Downey.

Meanwhile the one-sided secretive scheme of undeclared immunity or impunity for members of the British Army or constabulary who committed or colluded in sanctioned murders is now about to be made British law.

 C-Stormont agreement expected from new talks-After a nearly  three year absence, talks are beginning this week which are expected to revive the Stormont Assembly. Past talks broke down, most notably in February 2018 when the DUP reneged on an agreement because supporters would not accept an Irish Language Act. However the election results put new pressure on both the DUP and Sinn Fein to make an agreement. The British General Election took away the DUP’s leverage at Westminster and cost it two seats while the Sinn Fein vote share was also reduced. British colonial secretary Julian Smith  threatened to call new six county Assembly elections, if there is no deal by mid-January. Stormont collapsed in January 2017 when Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister over the DUP’s handling of the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. Other issues, such as an Irish Language Act, reform of the Petition of Concern and the legacy of the Troubles, have also come to the fore in successive rounds of failed talks aimed at restoring power-sharing.The talks will begin with individual meetings between Smith and the five largest Assembly parties, the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance before moving to round table talks. The Irish government is also scheduled to join in the talks.

D-Veteran Republican Ivor Bell vindicated after 5 year ordeal-The five year prosecution of 82 year old prominent Irish Republican Ivor Bell, ended with his being cleared of all charges and a ruling that there was not any admissible evidence against him. Bell had been in his late 70s in 2014, when taken from his home and charged with soliciting the death and disappearance of an informer more than 40 years earlier. Ivor Bell had been one of a 5 member delegation flown to England to represent the IRA in negotiations with the British in 1972,as well as a former IRA Chief of staff and Belfast Commander. The controversial charges were based on statements allegedly made by him in an interview recorded on the Boston College tapes. Bell said he was not the man on the tapes, known as ‘Interviewee Z’ and that he had been living in County Louth at the time of the Belfast killing. The interviewee said only that he was opposed to disappearing or secretly burying any informers killed by the IRA. After 5 years of stringent bail restrictions and petty harassment, the tapes were ruled unreliable and could not be used as evidence against Mr Bell. The judge told jurors: “There is now no evidence which the prosecution can put before you in order to support the case.”My role now is to direct you to return a verdict of not guilty, because you simply cannot find him to have done the acts alleged.”Mr Bell’s solicitor, Peter Corrigan, said his client had been vindicated. The Boston tapes were an oral history project, commissioned by Boston College. Recordings were made of interviews with former combatants about their activities during the Troubles on the understanding these would not be made public until after their deaths. Ed Moloney, the journalist behind the Boston College project, said he welcomed Mr Bell’s acquittal.

 

                CHRISTMAS  APPEAL

  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is no fiend of Ireland or Irish justice. His top issue is Brexit no matter what Brexit means for Ireland. He wants to deny truth and justice to the families of victims murdered by the crown or loyalist agents by laws that remove Human Rights Acts protections formally agreed in the Good Friday Agreement. He will continue austerity cuts in funding that will bring greater hardship in the six counties.

At times like these, Irish people in the north look to America to stand behind them. We have already received more appeals for help than ever before. America can make a difference for them, at this crucial time but only if the AOH and LAOH, as the voice of the Irish in America, lead the way. Our donations to carefully chosen charities through monies raised by the FFAI Annual Christmas Appeal, alongside our political and educational campaigns, are the cornerstone of our FFAI initiative.

 

           Don’t let them down!!!

           AOH-LAOH FFAI CHRISTMAS APPEAL

                                            PO Box 904

                                          Jefferson Valley,

                                         New York 10535

 

  TIME TO MAKE McALLISTER’S VICTORY FINAL

 

It was a “Happy Thanksgiving” for Malachy McAllister, his supporters and for justice. After yet another six months of deep anxiety for himself and his family, the combined efforts by political leaders, Cardinal Dolan and the AOH succeeded in halting Malachy’s deportation for another six months. It is too important a victory to be hollowed out, or even lost, six months from now.

One can only imagine what it is must be like for Malachy to face the real threat of deportation again and again.

Few individuals could have earned the sympathy and backing of the range of supporters necessary to keep him here, given the current political climate. Senators Menendez, Schumer, Congressmen King, Engel, Smith and Pascrell were among those who personally intervened with the administration. Cardinal Dolan called the President. Many law enforcement and military officials publicly endorsed him. The Irish Embassy backed him. The AOH and other Irish organizations campaigned for him. 

Malachy has multiple grounds which should have entitled him to full legal permanent residence under American law. He has lived in America for decades, is a father , successful businessman and, respected member of the Irish-American community. He should  be allowed to live here without semi-annual battles against  deportation hanging over his head, where the British and DHS as the expression goes “only have to get lucky once.”

In 1997 the Irish political deportee cases were settled by the Clinton administration, upon formal request by  Secretary of State Albright to Attorney General Reno.It was supposed to open the door for others. Malachy McAllister found the door had been shut. Malachy McAllister, was involved in a conflict which is long over. Clearly Cardinal Dolan, leading politicians, law enforcement and so many Irish Americans would not have backed a criminal. America must not continue to victimize him and his family at Britain’s behest! We cannot enjoy Malachy’s victory only to see him go through it again in 6 months.

                                                 

 FFAI MONTHLY BULLETIN

Please read and distribute the monthly FFAI Bulletin. The is now available on AOH national email blasts, or on the New York State and National AOH web sites. We want to give you monthly updates on key events in the north with short analysis and explanation.

                                                     Slan,

                                                 MARTIN GALVIN

             NOLLAIG SHONA DAOIBH!-MERRY CHRISTMAS