Solidarity messages were received from Ireland…
First one from Eamonn McCann, a leading Irish journalist, socialist and one of the legendary figures in the country’s civil rights movement…
On January 30 1972, British paratroopers opened fire on unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Derry in Northern Ireland, killing 14 people and wounding 14 others. The day has become known in Ireland as Bloody Sunday.
Some of us who had been on the demonstration on Bloody Sunday have campaigned since for the truth to be told and justice achieved for the victims. I served as chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust, which has been at the heart of the campaign. After 38 years, on June 15th 2010, we finally forced the Government of David Cameron to admit that the massacre had been carried out by British soldiers and had been “unjustified and unjustifiable”. This was a great success for the campaign and a great joy for the families of the victims.
But the massacre had further poisoned relations between the Nationalist (Catholic) and Unionist (Protestant) communities in Northern Ireland. This enabled the British State to blame all violence on “religious differences” among the mass of the people and to claim that its forces were neutral and had to stand between the “warring communities” and keep them apart.
Numerous attacks on the Catholic community over the last four decades were blamed on the Protestant community. But many of these have now been PROVEN to have been set up by the British intelligence services. These attacks have included the murder of civil rights lawyers and community leaders.
These divide-and-rule tactics, used by imperialism in Ireland for generations, have consolidated a political system based on hostility and suspicion between Catholics and Protestants. This has made it difficult to achieve unity of the ordinary Catholic and Protestant people to defend civil rights and living standards and resist the austerity measures introduced in the past two years to solve the crisis caused by the greed of the bankers and the rest of the rich.
Many of us in the socialist camp in Ireland can see parallels with Egypt today. We send our greetings to our brothers and sisters fighting to defend the goals of the Egyptian revolution. We hope that our experience serves as a warning to all Egyptian socialists of the dangers of allowing State forces to strengthen their own position by dividing the mass of the people along religious lines.
And another message was sent by Richard Boyd Barrett, member of the Irish parliament…
Condemn the Bloody Sunday Massacre! For Muslim and Christian unity against the counter-revolution.
It was with both sadness and anger that I heard of the terrible events of Sunday October 9th in Cairo, when over twenty Coptic Christian protesters were killed by the armed forces of the Egyptian State.
As an elected deputy (TD) in the Irish Parliament (The Dail) it was impossible not to recall the events of another Bloody Sunday – the one that occurred in the city of Derry in Northern Ireland on Sunday 30 January 1972, when 13 unarmed citizens were shot and killed by the British Army for the ‘crime’ of demanding their basic democratic and civil rights. In the case of the Irish Bloody Sunday it took 38 years of campaigning before the truth about that massacre was acknowledged by the British Government (on 15 June 2010, as a result of the twelve year long Saville Inquiry). There must be no repetition of this policy of cover up and denial in relation to the Egyptian Bloody Sunday. Rather the Egyptian Government should accept its responsibility and resign forthwith, and there should be an immediate open, democratic inquiry into establish the truth of what took place and hold the guilty to account.
We in Ireland have long experience of the suffering and bitterness caused by sectarian and religious conflict. Egypt must not go down this path. We know also that sectarianism, like racism, is always a weapon of reaction and counter-revolution. That it is invariably used to divide the people and deprive them of their rights. In Ireland Protestant was set against Catholic, in Egypt the attempt is made to set Muslim against Christian, in many parts of Europe it is Muslims who are the chosen scapegoats. In all these cases all genuine democrats have a duty to resist the tactics of divide and rule and defend the unity of the people.
In Ireland many of us followed with admiration and joy the magnificent and heroic revolution of the Egyptian people against the hated Mubarak regime. This great revolution has inspired freedom loving people throughout the Middle East and throughout the world. This revolution must continue, it must develop, it must move forward to achieve full democracy and full social justice for all. On no account should it allow itself to be diverted into the abyss of sectarian conflict.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD
People Before Profit Alliance