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Northern Ireland regional government in crisis

The North of Ireland after partition had an inbuilt pro-British unionist colonial population and through this inbuilt gerrymandered majority the Ulster Unionist Party ruled the North of Ireland from 1921 as a one-party state


SaebPress – Belfast

By Fra Hughes

Fra Hughes, in Palestine.

The devolved regional assembly of Northern Ireland which sits at Stormont the building, previously housed the N Ireland government from 1922 to 1972 is in crisis.

The precipitation something as ordinary as a funeral  something that happens every day all over the world but this was no ordinary funeral 

This was the funeral of Bobby Storey a charismatic leader of the Irish Republican Army. An icon to generations of republicans and a man held in high esteem by colleagues and former comrades alike.

 Storey was also credited with overseeing the appropriation of  hundreds of classified secret police Special Branch files in March 2002 at their Headquarters in Castlereagh Police Station  .

A close personal friend to Gerry Adams former leader of Sinn Fein an ex-prisoner and the man many believe masterminded the escape of 38 republicans from Long Kesh maximum security prison camp known as HMP The Maze on September 25, 1983, One of Europes most secure prisons and designed specifically to prevent communication between  political prisoners 

On December 15, 2014, the Northern Bank Headquarters based on Donegal Square West Belfast had 26.5 million pounds stolen. Accusations that Storey and the IRA were involved in the raid have never been proven

The anecdotes involving Mr Storey are too numerous to mention and many will probably never be told  Known only to a few people who will probably carry them to their graves.

Mr Storey passed away shortly after having an unsuccessful lung transplant in Newcastle Upon Tyne  England 

He died on June 21 aged 64 and had served 20 years in prison on various charges connected to his membership and active participation in the IRA armed campaign for national liberation 

Michelle O Neill is the deputy party leader of Sinn Fein and serves as Joint First Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly

Since Ireland was partitioned by the British in 1921  we have had two governments on the island of Ireland one North and one South of the border. 

The North of Ireland after partition had an inbuilt pro-British unionist colonial population and through this inbuilt gerrymandered majority the Ulster Unionist Party ruled the North of Ireland from 1921 as a one-party state

 A Protestant  Parliament and a Protestant State is a quote from Lord Craigavon in 1934.

The indigenous Catholic Irish absorbed into this new partitioned statelet were treated as second class citizens and viewed as an enemy by the new state.

After nearly 25 years of internal armed conflict in Northern Ireland from August 1969 to the IRA ceasefire June 1994, a new dispensation was then created and the people of Ireland North and Soth voted in favour of the Good Friday Agreement also known as the Belfast Agreement on April 10, 1998, and the IRA embraced politics as a method to obtain National Reunification over armed militant struggle and so the Peace Process was born

This was followed by a devolved government being elected and the IRA enter government at the old Parliamentary Building at Stormont.

The newly elected Assembly first sat on July 1 1998

Powers were re devolved to the Northern Assembly on December 2, 1999, having been suspended from 1972

This has been an uneasy marriage between two sets of political antagonists.

One one side the descendants of the colonial settlements of English and Scottish settlers who wish to maintain the link with the United Kingdom they are Unionists and then we have the indigenous Irish who wish to see the final removal of the British State occupation of Ireland with the national reunification of Ireland were all of the people of the island, unionist and nationalist republican and loyalist can decide on their future together without  British governmental interference.

The outworking of this experiment is a forced Mandatory coalition delivering  both political parties a veto on disputed legislation  

The assembly has collapsed twice before 

That last collapse was in January  2017 with the assembly only reforming after fresh elections on  January  11 2020.

The COVID 19 pandemic has led to restrictive enforcement of legislation around funerals.

It limited the number in attendance to 10 close family relatives and until recently the cemeteries and crematoria were closed to the public.

With the Death of Mr Storey, an impasse has been reached.

Prior to COVID 19, Mr Storey would have received a full semi-state like funeral from  his IRA comrades and the political Elite of Sinn Fein

Thousands would have attended from all over Ireland America Britain and Europe

His funeral would have been massive akin to the funerals of the IRA and INLA Hunger Strikers in 1981

However, the restrictive guidelines in place today because of COVID 19 allow for a maximum of 30 people to attend the funeral, socially distancing at between one and to metres.

At Mr Storey’s funeral, there were indeed 30 people walking behind the funeral cortege. There were also 120 in attendance at St Agnes requiem mass on the morning of the funeral

A guard of honour and the streets lined with  former IRA  comrades and Sinn Fein members from the church  to the cemetery 

Probably in excess of 1000-to 1800 people attended  perhaps more with the streets lined with mourners many of whom were from Belfast showing their respect for a fallen hero 

Now the Unionist members of the Assembly aided by some members of the Social Democratic Labour Party have called on the joint first minister Michelle ONeill deputy leader of Sinn Fein to stand aside from her position while Police carry out an investigation as to whether she and leading members of Sinn Fein, all elected members of both Parliaments on the island, are in breach of their own COVID 19 restrictions? 

Sinn Fein has consistently claimed the funeral met all statutory regulations as to the number of mourners and social distancing

 They claim they tried  to mitigate the size of the crowd in attendance 

To the other Assembly members, Sinn Fein are not above the law and must lead by example during a Pandemic and they have called for ONeill to resign

The Assembly is a combative pugilistic type arena and many outside see the calls for resignation as nothing more than political opportunism from unionists and optics for the gallery

Having fallen twice before, should the assembly collapse again it could be strike three and your out!

Culture & Arts

Ghassan Kanafani, the era of revolutionary Palestinian media

Palestine’s Ghassan Kanafani, a writer, artist, journalist and politico has left a lasting legacy in the Arab world.

Ghassan Kanafani
Ghassan Kanafani, the Palestinian revolutionary.

Some of the biggest names in the world of literature – Dickens, Hemingway, Garcia Marquez – got their start in journalism. Their reporting tends to be forgotten; their prose is what lives on.

Ghassan Kanafani is a name you can add to that list. Kanafani was a Palestinian writer who, through books like Men in the Sun, humanised the Palestinian condition of dispossession and displacement. He was, however, first and foremost a journalist.

Palestine’s Ghassan Kanafani, a writer, artist, journalist and a revolutionary has left a lasting legacy in the Arab world.

He was also a product of 1960s Beirut – a period when the city was a magnet for young reporters, revolutionaries, migrants and misfits, as well as host to the Palestinian leadership in exile. It was in Beirut that Kanafani produced Al Hadaf, a forward-thinking Palestinian magazine, that has been somewhat lost in the mists of time.

The Listening Post‘s Tariq Nafi reports from Beirut, Lebanon, on the legacy of Ghassan Kanafani and the era of Palestinian revolutionary media. 


Refqa Abu-Remaileh – Professor of modern Arabic literature and film, Director of “PalREAD – Country of Words” project, Free University of Berlin

Elias Khoury – Novelist and playwright

As’ad AbuKhalil – Professor of political science, California State University

Source: Al Jazeera

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US Cornered at UNSC while attempting to extend arms embargo on Iran.

Shaath ‘the US is seeking to corner China and Russia for propaganda purposes‘

US Cornered at UNSC

Washington has stepped up calls for the extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran, which will expire in October under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Trump administration has threatened that it may seek to trigger a snapback provision spelled out in the Iran nuclear deal of all sanctions on Iran if its attempts to extend the UN arms embargo fail.


Iran, Russia and China have repeatedly said that the US has no authority to invoke the snapback mechanism as it is no more a party to the 2015 accord. “It has no right to extend an arms embargo on Iran, let alone to trigger snapback,” China’s UN mission wrote in a tweet on Thursday. “Maintaining [the] Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the only right way moving forward,” it added

The US has circulated a new anti-Iran resolution at the UN Security Council calling for an extension of the UN arms embargo on Tehran, before it expires in October. The resolution reportedly urges member states to stop all arms sales to and from Iran. It also asks them not to provide Tehran with technical training, financial resources, and other services related to weapons program.

The new draft is almost identical to the previous one Washington circulated in June, which failed to gather support. US envoy to the council, Kelly Craft, has said Russia and China are likely to veto the resolution.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also told reporters that the measure is “eminently reasonable,” alleging that “one way or another we will do the right thing.” He went on threatening Tehran with more sanctions through a mechanism embedded within the Iran nuclear deal, from which the US has unilaterally withdrawn.

Pompeo  added  “We’re deeply aware that snapback is an option that’s available to the United States, and we’re going to do everything within America’s power to ensure that that arms embargo is extended,” he claimed. “I am confident that we will be successful.”

Shaath ‘the US is seeking to corner China and Russia for propaganda purposes

Wednesday, in an Interview with Press TV with Saeb Shaath, Author and Middle East affairs expert and Michael Springmann, Author and former U.S diplomat, Shaath said, “The US strategy always is to have Russia and China abstain in that regard in the UNSC and obviously not to veto, the USA’s resolution.

Shaath, pointed out that “ But, today and right now the strategy is working maybe with other members of the Security Council, so the USA intending  from this as Pompeo hinted and Craft the US representative  in the Security Council that Russia and China are not coming round and obviously they are going to veto the resolution.”

Shaath then questioned their motives “So why are they doing this? [Pompeo & Craft] they are doing this, to try to corner China and Russia for propaganda purposes, as Craft said to pot the spot light on the Chinese and Russian.”

Shaath went on to say, “Since the Trump administration maintains that quitting the deal does not prevent it from invoking the provision of the snap back mechanism, which is sanctions according to what they envisaged in the Iran nuclear deal.”

Shaath pointed out “ Other member states, as you mentioned in your report, like  France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China are trying to negotiate a solution which might prevent the USA from taking such a step, but until now there is no clear compromise has emerged among them”.

‘U.S. seeks to blackmail UNSC member states’

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to the Vienna-based international organizations, has said that it looks like the U.S. attempts to blackmail the UN Security Council members.

“Looks like an attempt to blackmail the UNSC Member States. US position on arms embargo against #Iran and #SnapBack is very weak not only from the viewpoint of common sense but also in legal terms,” he said in a tweet on Thursday.

‘U.S. plans to impose indefinite arms embargo on Iran have no prospects’

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that Washington’s plans to introduce an indefinite arms embargo against Iran have no prospects.

“The stubborn shattering of the JCPOA through new anti-Iranian ideas, which include the proposal to impose an indefinite arms embargo against Iran, simply does not honor the United States. It is clear that this course has no prospects,” Zakharova said at a briefing, Sputnik reported.

Those members of the JCPOA, who have maintained a genuine full commitment to the nuclear deal, will continue to fight for its preservation and sustainable implementation, she said.

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Beirut a disaster-stricken city after port’s explosion.

Declaring Beirut a “disaster-stricken” city, announcing a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibility to military authorities.

Explosion in Beirut's port

Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council an emergency meeting in the early hours of Wednesday. Following the session, a statement by the council, said President Michel Aoun, had decided to release 100 billion Lebanese pounds in emergency allocations from the 2020 budget.

The council recommended forming a committee tasked with investigating the blast and present its findings within five days, to impose the maximum punishment for those responsible.

It further suggested declaring Beirut a “disaster-stricken” city, announcing a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibility to military authorities.

 The blast took place on Tuesday in port warehouses near central Beirut storing highly explosive material, specifically ammonium nitrate, commonly used in both fertiliser and bombs.

The explosion — the most powerful ever in Beirut— flattened much of the strategic port and left buildings in ruin.

Germany’s geosciences center GFZ said the explosion triggered a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, which was also felt as far away as Cyprus over 200 kilometers across the Mediterranean.

The Lebanese Red Cross said on Wednesday in a statement, ‘’until now over 4,000 people have been injured and over 100 have lost their lives. Our teams are still conducting search and rescue operations in the surrounding areas”.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised there would be accountability for the fatal incident, “I promise that this catastrophe will not go unpunished and those responsible will be held accountable.” he said during a speech.

Hassan Diab went to say that “Beirut is grieving… All of Lebanon is disaster-torn. Lebanon is going through a quite ordeal that could only be faced with national unity and solidarity among all Lebanese from all backgrounds and regions. We are going through a disaster that could only be overcome with determination and tenacity to face this serious challenge and its destructive consequences”.

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