Now, Northern Irish women’s rights


A sign in Ireland advocates repeal in the referendum on Irish anti-abortion legislation

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, May 28, 2018

Now for Northern Ireland

IRISH women can be congratulated on the outcome of Friday’s referendum on repealing the ban on abortions in their country.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar will be hoping to take credit for holding the vote, using it to gloss over his government’s right-wing economic record with a progressive sheen, but the victory is the result of years of fearless campaigning by women who refused to be intimidated by the power of patriarchy.

In the Irish republic the struggle will now move to the implementation of the referendum result and our Irish sisters know they have the support and solidarity of the British labour movement in that struggle.

The overwhelming mandate for change highlights the anachronism of laws in Northern Ireland, where women are still denied the right to terminate pregnancies.

As Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth says, this situation is surely unsustainable now that women in the rest of Ireland are set to join women in Britain, which continues to rule the territory, in enjoying that right.

Nonetheless, Theresa May has made it clear she will resist any bid by MPs to vote on liberalising laws in the north.

She knows full well that a majority even in her own party would favour such a move — as has been made clear by Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt.

But she cannot risk the collapse of her shaky alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party, which has made it clear it will block any reform.

Hiding behind Westminster’s role as a “caretaker” administration in the north because of the continuing absence of a Stormont government is a poor excuse when May has done nothing to press the DUP to address republican concerns and restore power-sharing in Belfast.

The Alliance for Choice will be continuing its campaign to press politicians within Northern Ireland to change their ways, and is entitled to whatever assistance comrades in Britain can provide, including by confronting the issue directly in Parliament.

If that splits the Tory Party, ends the DUP alliance and forces new elections in Britain, so much the better.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, women's rights demonstration. AFP photo

Theresa May’s reliance on the DUP hobbles her response to the Irish vote: here.

Wales: UNISON assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie told the annual Merthyr Rising trade union rally today that victory in the Irish referendum to repeal restrictive abortion law was an object lesson for trade unionists. “This was a massive statement by the people of Ireland. People got up and organised themselves, their families and their work colleagues. This is the start of a process, not the end,” he said: here.

Irish midwives for abolishing anti-abortion law

SATURDAY was a historic day for Ireland. The 8th amendment introduced in 1983 has finally been removed and the face of Ireland is changed utterly. Contrary to what the Establishment political parties have already started to say, the credit for this victory rests squarely with the women of Ireland: here.

THE Catholic Church-dominated state of the Irish Republic was rocked to its foundations on Saturday when the results came through after the referendum on abortion. This showed that the 23 May 2015 shock for the state when a referendum agreed to ‘same sex marriage’, was not a one-off, and that the huge gulf not only remains between the Catholic Church and the masses, it has widened, with the mass of the working class, which has borne the full brunt of the economic crisis since the 2008 crash that destroyed their living standards, fighting back in every way that they can: here.

People attend a People Before Profit protest calling of for provision of abortion in Northern Ireland, at Belfast City Hall

Northern Ireland’s abortion laws are incompatible with human rights, Britain’s Supreme Court rules: here.

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English nazi arrested about Northern Ireland


This BBC video from Britain says about itself:

28 September 2015

Britain First are a far-right political party who say they want Islam to be banned and would hang their enemies if in power. … The anti-racism group Hope Not Hate say they’re “the most dangerous group to have emerged on the British far right scene for several years”. The Victoria Derbyshire programme’s Benjamin Zand finds out who they are and meets them at one of their protests in Rotherham.

By Lamiat Sabin:

Fransen arrested over speech in Northern Ireland

Monday 20th November 2017

[Neonazi paramilitary gang] BRITAIN FIRST deputy leader Jayda Fransen has been arrested over a speech she had made at a rally in Belfast in August.

The 31-year-old was arrested on Saturday in south-east London by Police Service of Northern Ireland detectives assisted by Metropolitan Police officers.

A video posted on YouTube by the far-right group soon after the demo shows Ms Fransen addressing about 50 people calling themselves Northern Ireland Against Terrorism.

In the footage, she says that Muslims “are baying for our blood … The biggest threat to civilisation across the world is Islam … the world is at war with Islam.

Every single Muslim is obliged to kill you — and your husbands and your wives and your children.”

The demo took place on the same day as a republican march organised by the Anti-Internment League to mark the use of detention without trial by the British army during the height of the Troubles in 1971.

A Northern Ireland police spokesman confirmed Ms Fransen’s arrest and questioning under public order legislation.

Stop British governmental homophobia


This 2013 video from Ireland says about itself:

A recent debate on the Nolan Show involving a DUP man saying homosexuality is an abomination. This is not the first time the DUP has been involved in a spat with the gay community, many other DUP politicians have had similar comments including Edwin Poots and Iris Robinson.

By Maria Exall in Britain:

The Tories can’t be trusted with our LGBT rights

Wednesday 13th September 2017

The TUC must oppose the Tory-DUP alliance and defend our equalities legislation, writes MARIA EXALL

ON JULY 1 trade unionists, human rights campaigners, LGBT+ activists and their families and friends marched for equal love in Belfast. Northern Ireland remains the only part of Britain and Ireland where marriage between people of the same sex is not allowed.

This is due directly to the reactionary position of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on LGBT+ rights.

The DUP has vetoed the democratic will of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It has organised a “petition of concern” and is committed to prevent equality legislation from being passed.

In the motion to Congress from our conference earlier this year, the TUC LGBT+ workers’ committee calls on the TUC and all affiliated unions to oppose the alliance between the Conservatives and the DUP, and to work with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to defend existing equalities legislation across the UK and further their expansion, including equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

The reactionary position of the DUP is driven by a connection between the party and a particularly deeply embedded socially conservative strand within Protestantism in Ulster.

Unionism, in its religious conservatism, is not only anti-LGBT rights but also supportive of literalist interpretations of the Bible, such as creationism.

This is the place where Ashers Bakery refused to provide a cake for a gay celebration and, with the support of the Christian Institute, tried to drive a cart and horses through hard-won legislation on equal access to goods and services in the whole of the UK.

Some — including the occasional LGBT activist — failed to see the significance of the case as a principle of equality rather a matter of religious freedom.

The reality is the Ashers Bakery case challenge was a dog whistle in preparation for a defence against equal marriage and any promotion of LGBT+ rights in the six counties.

Northern Ireland is the most religious part of the UK — as measured by church attendance and commitment to religious affiliation.

It has a history of certain Christian denominations having a massive influence in its politics — something it shares with the Republic of Ireland.

But secularists and progressive people of faith there have emerged from the shadow of a crumbling theocracy to vote for change.

Just as south of the border, the demand for equal rights in Northern Ireland is mainly driven by young people who are forcing the pace of change.

By no means do all members of the Protestant communities in Northern Ireland oppose progressive social change, and many young people from those communities are speaking out.

Indeed it is clear that the issue of LGBT+ rights is causing serious soulsearching among sections of the Unionist-supporting communities.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is currently in suspended animation but even if direct rule was in place, it is not clear that things would progress.

The alliance between the DUP and the Conservative Party means that support from Westminster for change is unlikely. The Tories will not want to annoy the party that keeps them in power.

The Conservatives are compromised in any initiatives they put forward on equality by their deal with the DUP. There is, however, another reason why we should not expect change in Northern Ireland under a Conservative government, and that is the voting record of the Tories themselves.

Despite David Cameron’s championing of same-sex marriage as leader of the coalition government, the majority of Conservative MPs in the last parliament failed to support the Bill. It was Labour votes that won it.

The issue is not only the deal with the homophobic DUP but the persistence of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia within the ruling party in the UK.

It is worth remembering that support for retaining Section 28 — the law which banned local authorities from portraying homosexuality in a positive light — and opposing positive LGBT equality legislation was the official position of the Conservative Party until 2009.

Until then it opposed all the progressive legislation brought in by Labour in the parliaments since 1997.

This Tory government cannot be trusted with our hard-won rights. It is up to us to keep fighting for our equality. The struggle for equal marriage in Northern Ireland is a top priority for all LGBT+ trade unionists in the UK.

Maria Exall is the chair of the TUC LGBT+ committee and a member of the CWU.

Human rights groups urge Egypt to halt crackdown on LGBT people after rainbow flag waved at concert: here.

British Theresa May’s homophobic Irish allies


This satiric video says about itself:

3 May 2016

Here at PinkNews, we decided to make a more accurate version of the Democratic Unionist Party‘s 2016 [Northern Ireland] Assembly [election] broadcast.

By Donal O’Cofaigh in Northern Ireland:

The DUP‘s long history of bigotry towards lesbians and gay people

Friday 7th July 2017

Prejudice towards the LGBT community, corruption and hypocrisy may define the DUP to many but earlier this year they received their highest ever share of the vote as hundreds of thousands of Protestants voted for them amid heightened community divisions, writes Donal O’Cofaigh

The Democratic Unionists (DUP) are propping up Theresa May’s minority government — but how many British readers are fully aware of their history in regard to the issue of LGBT rights?

This is a party with a long pedigree of prejudice towards the LGBT community, which has repeatedly voted down equal marriage — using the petition of concern, a mechanism meant to guarantee community rights on either side, to veto change after majorities in the Stormont Assembly have voted for equality.

So who are the DUP?

The DUP grew up as an opposition to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), who ruled Northern Ireland as a one-party state for 50 years after its foundation. The UUP oversaw systemic discrimination against Catholics but also against working-class Protestants.

Northern Ireland — an intrinsic part of the UK — did not have one-person-one-vote until 1974 and that only after years of civil rights protests, the eruption of violence on the streets and the proroguing of the Ulster unionism’s seat of government, Stormont with the imposition of direct rule from Westminster.

While standing against “big house unionism,” the DUP was not motivated by class-based politics, instead it was founded on fundamentalist Protestantism — anti-Rome rhetoric was mixed with populist demands and attacks on anything verging on power-sharing.

The DUP was shaped by the largerthan-life personality of the Reverend Ian Paisley, who received his doctorate in divinity from the Bob Jones University in South Carolina. The DUP were the political wing of his church, the fundamentalist, evangelical Free Presbyterians.

Whether in the pulpit or on the streets his message was one of intolerance to Catholicism, ecumenism and homosexuality. The goal was to save the Ulster people from the “evils” of social liberalism, militant Irish republicanism and, worse still, the threat of godless communism.

Despite its strong unionism, the religious zealotry of the DUP has repeatedly led it to oppose the extension of progressive British legislation to Northern Ireland.

In 1977 the party launched its “Save Ulster from sodomy” campaign in response to attempts to extend the decriminalisation of homosexual acts under the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. As a result of this opposition, decriminalisation only took place in Northern Ireland in 1982 as a result of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

In the following years, the DUP’s opposition to LGBT rights has remained every bit as strident despite the fact that it has now totally obliterated its Ulster Unionist opposition and is led by an Anglican, Arlene Foster.

Ian Paisley’s son, a leading member of Parliament, recently referred to homosexuality as being “immoral, offensive and obnoxious” and that he was “repulsed” by LGBT people. Another MP, Jim Wells, claimed that children growing up in same-sex households were more likely to be subjected to abuse before being forced to apologise. He also claimed the LGBT lobby was “insatiable.”

Such comments abound in the party — filled as it is with creationists, climate change-deniers and anti-choice campaigners but their moral pronouncements are often deeply hypocritical. The DUP are quite possibly the most corrupt party in Stormont with a strong history of flirtation, if not outright and open support, for paramilitarism but they portray themselves as righteous defenders of “democracy” and “freedom.”

Perhaps the most emblematic case of this is hypocrisy was almost a decade ago when the partner of former DUP leader Peter Robinson, Iris, also a member of the Stormont Assembly, referred to homosexuality repeatedly as an “abomination” causing her to feel “nauseous” and claiming that when she encountered LGBT people she referred them to a psychiatrist (who was also a political adviser). The political fallout from this claimed her psychiatrist friend’s career but despite that she went on to claim that homosexuality was worse than child abuse.

By April 2009 both herself and her husband, the first minister of Northern Ireland, were involved in public furore as it was exposed that the pair were drawing more than £571,000 a year in expenses, not including a further £150,000 for family member advisers, earning them the nickname “The Swish Family Robinson.”

But worse was to come when at the end of 2009, details came out on how Ms Robinson was having an extended affair with a 19-year-old businessman for whom she had secured an undeclared £100,000 donation from two different property developers.

Castlereagh Borough Council, which the Robinsons were known to have run as a fiefdom, was forced to conduct an investigation into the award of a catering contract to the same young man, that she was said to have influenced.

Iris resigned from public life being admitted to acute psychiatric care at the same time as the police raided the offices of Castlereagh Borough Council. Notwithstanding this bad publicity, her husband continued on as first minister until the beginning of 2016.

Scandal, corruption and hypocrisy may define the DUP to many but earlier this year they received their highest ever vote share as hundreds of thousands of Protestants voted for them amid heightened community divisions.

Sinn Fein had almost caught the DUP in an Assembly election — the prospect of a border poll was raised against the context of Brexit. Protestants voted in huge numbers for a party that takes its own working-class base for granted — many against their better judgements.

In the absence of a cross-community progressive alternative in Northern Ireland, society here continues to polarise.

The DUP are now propping up the Tory government. They have secured a few crumbs from the table for an act of betrayal against the working class throughout these islands. This is an outcome that will only further divide communities; something that suits both sides of the power-divide.

Those of us who are trying to build a cross-community labour movement to overcome division find ourselves pushing a boulder up an even steeper gradient but perhaps, at least, the DUP’s feet of clay as well as their regressive social policies will be subject to much greater scrutiny than ever before.

Donal O’Cofaigh is a campaigns and communications officer for Unite in Northern Ireland. This article is written in a personal capacity.

British Conservative-Irish terrorist coalition, parody songs


This parody music video from Britain is called Theweezer May – “Ireland and The Sun“.

It is a parody of the Weezer song Island In The Sun.

It says about itself:

1 July 2017

The escapist first single from Theresa May‘s Weezer tribute band, including shout-outs to Northern Ireland and The Sun.

LYRICS:

DUP! DUP!
DUP! DUP!

Hello, I’m Theweezer May
I could use a holiday
Snap election didn’t go well
Now I’m tired and stressed as hell
(But I’ve got…)
Northern Ireland and The Sun
Propping up my government
And it makes me feel so fine
They’re like my bezzie mates

We’ll run the UK together
Confidence and supply forever
Labour‘s got no chance any more

DUP! DUP!
DUP! DUP!

This parody music video from Britain is called New Orange Order – “Blue Money Day”.

It is parody of the song Blue Monday by New Order.

It says about itself:

1 July 2017

How does it feel to get a billion quid to go into coalition with the Conservatives? That’s the lyrical question from the DUP on their first single as New Orange Order.

Irish women’s victory against wobbly Conservative-fundamentalist British government


This video from India says about itself:

Abortion row: I get my strength from Savita, says husband

26 November 2012

As the probe continues into the death of his wife Savita, who was denied an abortion in Ireland, Praveen Halappanavar tells NDTV that he has no faith and trust in the inquiry and that it is a cover-up. He also recounts memories of how Savita was looking forward to being a mother.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Queen’s Speech: Tories forced to allow free abortions for Northern Irish women

Friday 30th June 2017

Landmark decision forced by Labour attack

A LANDMARK decision was taken yesterday to allow women travelling from Northern Ireland to have free abortions as the government scrambled to deal with Labour challenges to the Queen’s Speech.

Labour MP Stella Creasy had previously tabled an amendment to let Northern Irish women have free abortions via the NHS in England, as they are barred in Northern Ireland except where the mother’s life or mental health is in danger.

And in the face of overwhelming pressure the government fudged a solution by “refusing” free NHS abortions — but paying for them using government equalities office funding instead.

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s announcement offers a face-saving sop to the 10 MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which the government relies on to maintain its majority.

The Northern Irish party, which has a hardline antiabortion stance, would have been placed in an awkward position during the final Commons vote on the government’s legislative programme if the amendment had stood.

Following Mr Hammond’s announcement Ms Creasy withdrew her proposal and tweeted: “Sisters in Northern Ireland we will hear your voices — have asked for speedy meeting with govt to make this a reality!

“Thank you to MPs on all sides who supported call for change to help Northern Irish women have equal access to abortion.”

A British Pregnancy Advisory Service spokeswoman said: “We are absolutely delighted that the government has committed to funding abortion care for women who travel from Northern Ireland to England.

“This is a landmark moment: for years the women of Northern Ireland, despite being UK citizens and taxpayers, have not been entitled to NHS-funded treatment.

“Clearly this is not the solution to the gross injustice whereby women in Northern Ireland are denied access to abortion care at home, and we look forward to seeing progress on that front.

“Nevertheless this is an important moment, and we commend all those who have worked so hard to make this happen.”

So desperate is May that the government was forced to make a last minute agreement to help Northern Irish women forced to pay privately in England for abortions. This was in order to stymie a proposed Labour amendment aimed at challenging Northern Ireland’s extremely restrictive abortion laws. If passed, it would have thrown the Tory agreement into danger as the DUP is anti-abortion: here.

ABORTION rights campaigners hit out at a “deeply disappointing” appeal court ruling yesterday that it is for the Northern Ireland Assembly to decide whether women should be allowed to have pregnancies terminated. … Alliance 4 Choice told the Star it was “a day of highs and lows for women in Northern Ireland seeking free safe legal access to abortion,” adding: “We will continue to campaign for free safe and legal access to abortion in Northern Ireland”: here.

SINN FEIN announced yesterday that talks aiming to re-establish a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland had collapsed, blaming the failure to reach an agreement on the DUP’s recent pact with the Tories: here.