The Blanket

Hold Firm

Niall Fennessy

Recently, in regards to the Provisional army's open apology, the US media has engaged a campaign boasting of a declining support within the Irish-American community towards the Republican movement. Employing sensationalist headlines and rhetoric, some have gone so far as to suggest an outright abandonment. Indeed, the abrupt reality of the September 11 atrocities stunned America. As such a tragedy predicts, membership throughout the various political prisoner support organizations were shaven of both fair-weathered activists and others. Events were rescheduled or outright cancelled. And when President Bush adopted a McCarthyite 'either-or' approach to foreign policy, legitimate opponents towards
American-aligned governments became targets. Irish Republicanism was marked.

Yet the movement advances. Challanging the hysteria of the media and the gullable, many within this community still hold true to the traditions of their Fenian forefathers. Far from being exhausted, these people within their various organizations continue to exercise the political freedoms guaranteed under the first and fourth amendments to the US Constitution. Their efforts to raise awareness of the issues and increase activism are progressively met with success as the weeks go by. The death threats, harassments, and campaigns of humiliation against Irish Republican prisoners of war and their families is not lost on them. And will never be so.

In this same breath, however, it is unfortunate that the largest of these organizations, Irish Northern Aid, has for some years withdrawn itself from leadership by example. It is in the general silence of their membership that the US media finds the grounds for its charges. The refusal of Irish Northern Aid members to recognize the more than seventy political prisoners incarcerated in Portlaoise, Maghaberry, Wheatfield and Belmarsh Prisons speaks volumes to those with anti-nationalist agendas. Irish Northern Aid, cowing blindly to their Sinn Fein masters, have unabashedly adopted the constitutional nationalism which they so ferverently opposed the previous three decades.

No. Irish-American support for political prisoners will not abandon the very legitimacy under which the American colonies defeated the British, and under which the Easter Rising signatories died. These groups working today hold firm to the illegality of Britain's occupation of Irish soil. Their efforts are an integral form of political activism which challenges the repetition of a historic failure. And, in light of the deliberate campaign against Irish Republicanism in the US, Irish Northern Aid supporters and members of all Irish-American organizations need now to justify the terms of their charter with that of their Fenian ancestry. The tradition of O'Donovan Rossa, James Stephens, and John Mitchel, amongst others, will not forgive any Irish Republican's failure to recognize all political prisoners of war currently incarcerated.

The author is a member of the Irish Freedom Committee





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We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.
- Adlai Stevenson

Index: Current Articles

2 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


A Scam In A Pint Glass

Anthony McIntyre


Meeting the Paramilitaries

Davy Carlin


The GFA's Failure to Deliver An Honest and Genuine Constitutional Settlement Keeps Northern Ireland Divided
Paul A. Fitzsimmons


Hold Firm
Niall Fennessy


Super Stake Knife
Brian Mór


Stake Knife Logo
Brian Mór


The Ethics of Revenge

Sam Bahour and Yitzhak Frankenthal


A Tale Told By An Idiot
John Chuckman


28 July 2002


Strategy of Threat

Anthony McIntyre


E.U. Surveillance of Telecommunications

Aine Fox


Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Davy Carlin


Snap Shot
Sherry Maguire




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