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"The Life & Times of James Connolly"

"The Life & Times of James Connolly" from "The Non-Stop Connolly Show" by Margaretta D'Arcy & John Arden.

A 2-hour version of our 14-hour 1975 epic drama "The Non-Stop Connolly Show (a cycle of continuous struggle)" was read to a crowded lounge bar on the island of Inis Meain, Aran, on Sunday afternoon, the 27th of August.

As the story of James Connolly's life and work unfolded, the intensity of the listeners, and their reaction to each nuance of the speeches, made us realize that this is a living history and that Connolly is even more relevant today than he was when the script was written. It struck us very forcibly for instance, as we read out parts of his Irish Socialist Republican Party manifesto (1896), that he was campaigning in those days for all sorts of things which we still have not got - or are already losing - for instance: "public ownership of the land and all instruments of production, distribution and exchange ... nationalization of both agriculture and industry ... a minimum wage and a 48-hour week, free education under the control of popularly-elected committees, pensions to be paid for out of a graduated income tax."
Early in the play we show Connolly as a young soldier in the British army (round about 1885) posted to the west of Ireland and staring round-eyed at a desolate prospect:
"In every field where good corn ought to sprout
The weeds and nettles grow so thick
Ye'd need an earthquake shock to root them out.
The only vigour and order that I can discover
Are the soldiers and the constables with their bright brass and polished
They glare out over the green, where at every crossroads they stand -
It is as though their cold blue eyes had poisoned the whole land."
A museum exhibits the old clichéd photographs of spinning wheels, curraghs and women in shawls - a dead and static culture, bound to the Irish language but without any gateway into the vibrancy of the modern world - J.M.Synge is recognized because he has been in a sense turned into a brand-name to give lineage to the Celtic Tiger - there is however no mention of the altar made for the parish church by Patrick Pearse's sculptor father (did young Pearse accompany him?) no mention of the glorious church window by Harry Clarke, one of Ireland's greatest and most controversial 20th-century artists (whose work was banned by the government because of its sexuality), no mention of how so many of the 1916 leaders came to the island to study not only the language but the possibility of national transformation. The museum of course is for the tourist, native as much as foreign, a magpie nest of glittering pickings from the past taken altogether out of context and presented as that strange commodity "heritage" which needs no sense of continuity and must lead to no significant action - "that was THEN, multi-nationals are NOW and are the only acceptable forms of progress" - what else is the message of our government's selling of Shell in County Mayo?
"The spread of global capitalism has not been balanced by a spread of democracy or values" - Joseph Stiglitz (ex-chief economist at the World Bank), who goes on to pose the question, can globalization be good if it does not rest on sound foundations? Connolly knew the answer, over a century ago.
To return to the play. The performance ended with a spontaneous rendering by Mary Coughlan of the ballad "Where O where is James Connolly?" - one of the most emotional theatrical experiences that we've ever had.

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Protest on the edge of Europe

A protest was held today at InisMeain airport over a land ownership dispute with Udarás na Gaeltachta. Patrick Faherty of Lisheen Village, Inishmeain, Aran Islands, staged a peaceful protest at the airstrip.

He's claiming to be the legal owner of three plots of land at the airport and is seeking damages from Udarás na Gaeltachta for wrongful entry.

He claims he became the owner of the lands in 1994.

However Udarás na Gaeltachta claims IT is the benefical owner of the lands because it bought the lands off Sean Ó Conghaile in 1986.

Anti Shell Campaign Who's Who

Big Oil Protesters and Supporters in County Mayo
National rally in Dublin, Oct 2005                     Proposed site of Rossport gas pipeline
Estuary along site of pipeline                 Field where pipeline would run
Rossport Five released from jail          Willie and Mary Corduff


Pro-Erris Gas Group: supports Shell's plans for the Corrib gas refinery, and includes business interests in Mayo. Secretary is retired garda, Brendan Cafferty of Ballina.

 Shell to Sea: formed as a national opposition campaign following the jailing of five Mayo men for contempt of court in June 2005. The men, the Rossport Five, were opposed on health and safety grounds to Shell's plans to lay an onshore high pressure pipeline which had been exempted from planning approval and which ran within 70 metres of one of the men's houses.

Pobal Chill Chomáin: was formed earlier this year by key Mayo Shell to Sea supporters to back a compromise plan for the refinery drawn up by three Erris priests from Kilcommon parish. The group undertook a visit to Norway and received support from SAFE, the oil and gas workers' federation, which is critical of Statoil's role in the Corrib project. It has lodged complaints with the OECD and the European Commission. Chaired by Vincent McGrath, one of the Rossport five.

Pobal Le Chéile: a group of business interests in Erris which also backs the compromise proposal for the refinery, chaired by Ciarán Ó Murchú, a former Air Corps pilot running the Coláiste Uisce adventure centre in the Erris gaeltacht.

Rossport Solidarity Camp: was established on land belonging to one of the Rossport Five, Philip McGrath, in 2005, and then moved to Glengad, site for the pipeline's landfall, in spring 2006. The camp was evicted by Mayo County Council last year and agreed to leave the area in January, 2008. It has relocated to a house in Pollathomas, close to Glengad, and has close contacts with Shell to Sea.

Crude bomb at Shell HQ brings plea for calm

Hunger strike continues into eighth day
SHELL  Ireland and Erris community groups have called for "calm" following the discovery of an explosive device on the steps of the Shell headquarters in Dublin on Monday. As a result of protests the offshore pipelaying by Shell is suspended. This has been blamed on a  reported "technical problem" with the world's largest pipelaying vessel, Solitaire.
Meanwhile the Labour party president Michael D Higgins has called on Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan to provide leadership in relation to resolving the Corrib gas controversy.

Mr Higgins has also asked Mr Ryan to explain why the Naval Service was used to provide protection for several vessels contracted to Shell, flying flags of convenience in breach of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Two Erris community groups which have proposed a compromise location for the Corrib gas refinery have issued a joint statement "unreservedly" and "totally" condemning the placing of a device which was detonated by the Army's bomb disposal squad in Leeson Street, Dublin, on Monday night.

The two groups, Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal le Chéile, have described it as an "appalling action", while Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman John Monaghan has called for an "immediate suspension of activities on every side to allow for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to Corrib that doesn't put lives recklessly in danger".

A senior Garda source said the device comprised a drinks bottle filled with petrol which was attached to a battery and a clock. It was also attached to a can of paint, which would have sprayed out had the device exploded.

But sources said that while all components for a viable device were present, the ensemble was not wired properly and, therefore, could not have exploded.

Gardaí believe the incident was linked to protests surrounding Corrib.

However, the identity of those behind the device is unknown. Mr Monaghan said: "It is time for everyone to take a step back, and for Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan to live up to his responsibilities."

Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal le Chéile also said that the time for a solution was now and "it is we who speak for the majority of the residents of the Chill Chomáin parish".

Shell to Sea and the Rossport Solidarity Camp in Mayo have said that the device was "nothing to do with them". A spokesman for both groups, Niall Harnett, said they were "not into the politics of condemnation".

Separately, Dublin Shell to Sea said it rejected completely an "unfounded insinuation" by Shell that the device was "made and placed by Shell to Sea supporters".

The Pro-Erris Gas Group has said that the device was "a further sinister attempt at intimidation and proof, if proof were needed, that this campaign has a large element of subversive activity attached to it, which some sections of the media do not address".

Shell EP Ireland has described the device's placing as a "sinister development" and has said that the work currently being undertaken on the Corrib project has "all the necessary consents and permissions required by the various statutory bodies which oversee the project".

"This is a time for calm assessment," the company's statement said. "We remain open and willing to talk to any individuals or groups who continue to have concerns about our project."

Earlier this week, Labour Party TD Michael D Higgins called on Mr Ryan to provide leadership and respond to the compromise proposal for the gas refinery made by three Erris priests almost a year ago. Mr Ryan was making no comment yesterday, but Green Party Galway councillor Niall Ó Brolchain said it was time for "reflection and dialogue". He said that he had visited the area last week and had "great respect for the local community in Erris".

Shell EP Ireland says it is still assessing the reported damage sustained by the Allseas pipelaying ship, Solitaire, a week ago which led to the vessel's withdrawal to Killybegs, Co Donegal.

Maura Harrington has said that she will not quit her hunger strike, now entering its second week, unless she receives written confirmation that the Solitaire has left Irish territorial waters.

Shell to Sea hunger strike day four

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      Shell To Sea FlotillaLE Orla, a 39-man warship, brought into Broadhaven Bay at request of Gardaí
For the 4th day Maura Harrington, remains locked in her car, at the Shell gates in Glengad on hunger strike on behalf of Shell to Sea. She continues to refuse food until the the vessel Solitaire leaves Irish territorial waters. At present it is still in Killybegs, Co. Donegal. Read on