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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Special Exclusive On The Special Relationship

Part I. Debunking Blunkett


'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'
- Lord Acton

Matthew J. Kavanah • 9 March 2004

Last night after work I made my way over to Harvard to hear the tail end of a speech by British Home Secretary David Blunkett. There was a decent turnout and when he finished his speech at around 5:45 the moderator said that he would take questions until about 6:15. There were a total of five people (including myself) who asked a question of the Secretary, which I thought to be a surprisingly low figure since I was at that intellectual Mecca that is Harvard. I was certain that all of those upper class cerebral ivory tower types would jump at the opportunity to go head-to-head with a British minister of state but evidently I was mistaken. In any case, I gathered up my republican courage, asked Bobby Sands to bless my words and said,

"The proposed new US-UK Extradition Treaty co-authored by yourself and US Attorney General John Ashcroft has been widely denounced by the Irish American community with support and backing from the American Civil Liberties Union. There seem to be legitimate fears that this treaty will be used as a pretext for targeting Irish American activists, in particular those who oppose the 1998 Stormont Agreement. United States constitutional safeguards that protect lawful political speech and activism, especially dissent, seem to become toothless if this treaty is ratified. My question then sir is: How does this square with the protection of human, civil and constitutional rights, especially as concerns Irish Americans involved in the struggle against the British presence in the occupied six northeastern counties of Ireland - a presence long maintained by way of terrorism and shear force of arms."

As expected, the Minister spoke about protecting due process and judicial review and protecting dissent. He said, and I paraphrase, "[I would hate to see] the Irish community in Boston...get themselves into a stew...over a threat that does not exist." One of the two moderators seemed completely unaware of the proposed treaty and asked me what this treaty would do if ratified. I felt like saying, "Are you kidding me? This is Harvard. If anything, I thought that you people would lecture me on the specifics of this treaty." In any case, I briefly outlined the points as described by Attorney Francis Boyle in his analysis of the proposed treaty. Again, the Minister wholly dismissed my concerns.

When I was leaving a solidly built WASPy man put his arm across my chest and said something to the effect of, "make way." Evidently, I had aimlessly wandered into the extraction route of the Minister and so I stopped and watched as they all piled into a series of black SUVs with tinted windows and with two Cambridge cop cruisers as an escort departed for Lord knows where.

So, that was my night but I think it went alright. I made the Minister uncomfortable. Hopefully, I sparked some curiosity in those young impressionable Harvard minds. I think Bobby would have smiled. As today is his birthday I hope he enjoyed my present. As Patsy O'Hara said, "Let the fight go on."












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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

12 March 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Try Not to Forget It
Brian Mór


Time to End the Silence on Stakeknife
Martin Ingram


Confident No More
Mick Hall


Sinn Fein & Democracy Be Damned: Interview with Martin Cunningham

Anthony McIntyre


Bobby Tohill: Pub Brawls and Death Threats
Liam O Ruairc


Ardoyne Suicides
Eamonn McCann

Independence Day
David Vance


The Half Loaf of Good Friday Will Never Satisfy
Liam O Comain


Special Exclusive on Special Relationship
Matthew Kavanah


The Proposed UK-US Extradition Treaty: Concerns
Francis Boyle


The Decolonization of Northern Ireland
Francis Boyle


1 March 2004


The Enforcers

Anthony McIntyre


Reference Guide to Provisional IRA Attacks on Republicans, 1998-2004


Stand Down, Mr Hyde
Liam O Comain


Civilian Adminstration?
George Young


Adams Nearly Quit Sinn Fein - Peace Process Hero Angered by IRA's Violence
Barney de Breadbin and Eamonn Codswallop


Double Standards - Questions Need Answering
Raymond Blaney


Brilliant, Bloody Brilliant
Brian Mór


POWs and the Challenge of Partnership
Aoife Rivera Serrano




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