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12· Politics ·1stMarch 2010


Sinn Fein:words notweapons

Thomas Leahywitnessed a debate hosted by Sinn Feinwhich confirms that the Irish Republican group has relinquishedweapons for good

On Saturday 20th February, at the TUC Congress House in London, Sinn Féin displayed great political maturity by holding a debate on whether Irish unitywas possible,with politicians and academics represent- ing a wide range of views.

The republicans feel Irish unity

should be discussed again, because it is the ‘outstanding issue’ of theGoodFri- day Peace Agreement. They feel that they have shown their commitment to

agenda inBritain and Ireland.YetMar- tinMcGuinness, the deputyFirstMin- ister of the Stormont government, made it clear recently in an article for the Guardian that all views must be heard on the issue. If Irish unity is to occur, then the

party wants it to be because of persua- sive argument at events like this con- ference, not by the force of arms. ItwasLondon’s turn then to discuss

Republicans feel Irish unity should be discussed,

because it’s the ‘outstanding issue’of the Good Friday Peace Agreement

politics, as seen recently with the sign- ing of the policing and justice powers, and to the democraticwill of the people in the region. In return they feel they have a right

to bring Irish unity, their primary aim, back to the forefront of the political

Irish unity last weekend. America and Ireland have already seen similar events, and more are planned in Scot- land,Wales and in Ireland. One of themain reasons for the dis-

cussion coming to London was, as for- mer London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Labour Party Lord Alf Dubs said, that the Irish community inEngland is one of the largest ethnicminorities, and in London it is the largest. Therefore he feels that Irish people should be en- titled to inform their Westminster politicians that they would like the issue discussed and addressed as part of themrepresenting their community. Pat Doherty informed me that this

would help to create a ‘‘mass organisa- tion...reminding Irish andEnglish peo- ple that this is another challenge that needs to be met, and that everybody needs to pull together in Ireland and England to lobby on this issue, to get it back on the political agenda’’. What made this event truly unique

was the wide variety of opinions of- fered.On the one hand,Lord PaulBew reminded us that Irish unity is not eco- nomically and politically desirable for people in the south of Ireland at this time. Yet socialist economist Michael Burke informed us that the north-east region was stagnating in its economic

Recommended Events

Parliament - PortcullisHouse:

March 4th 7pm

*NewTurn: Debate on Iranian nuclear weapons 10/01/middle-east-debate


March 2nd 5.30pm: * Islamismand its Discontents

Roger Hardy, BBCWorld Service Khalili Lecture Theatre

March 3rd 6.30pm:

* Humanitarianismat the Risk of Imperialism

Dr Rony Brauman, 1999 Nobel Peace Prizewinner, Former President of

Doctorswithout Borders (MSF, Paris) Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

March 4th 6pm * China's Globalisation Challenge

Sinn Féin politician and Deputy FirstMinisterMartinMcGuinnesswith Hillary Clinton

growth because of its economic com- mitments to the union and isolation from the global market. Also, he re- minded us that poverty in the south of Ireland currently is due to poor eco- nomic choices made by their govern- ment, rather than because of Ireland’s size. Professor Christine Kinealy, from

Liverpool university, addressed another view raised that unity was difficult be- causeUnionists had a separate culture, in that for example they are mainly Protestant and non-Irish speakers. She made the point though that inBelgium the different cultures and languages live side by side. Also, audience participa- tion was fantastic for adding to the de- bate too. For instance, many trade unionists

called for not just a separate Ireland, but a socialist Ireland. Furthermore, many members of the audience from England voiced their concerns about

the Conservatives alliance with theUl- sterUnionist Party perhaps creating an unfair bias in Westminster towards unionism, if they won the election. Hence both Irish and English people showed that this debate influences vot- ers in both Irish and English politics. The conference then achieved its

aim of broadening the debate on Irish unity. It showed that republicans want to show Unionists, as one speaker phrased it, ‘What’s in it for me?’Most importantly, the event demonstrated that thosewith opposing ideologies can debate issues together in a democratic manner.This is a lesson on conflict res- olution that Ken Livingstone, along- side Respect Party Councillor Salma Yaqoob, said could be utilised else- where in theMiddle East at this time.

For further reports and videos from

the conference visit:

Professor Peter Nolan (University of Cambridge)


March 4th 6.30pm

*Men of Letters:What Should Be Done About the UK Budget Deficit? Depart- ment of Economics public debate Speakers: Professor TimBesley, Professor AlanManning

March 5th 11am *The Future Development of

International Criminal Justice: An Interdisciplinary Approach

LSE LawDepartment public lecture Speaker: Sang-Hyun Song

March 3rd 7.30pm *'Swept under the carpet': the role of

NGOss in combating domesticworker exploitation

NewAcademic Building Room4, 2nd Floor (NAB 2.04)

An LSESU Amnesty International event with Anti-Slavery International and LSE ICCSN

Arguments against disrupting political talks


It was the 26th of December in Tehran. Ex-president Khatami was to make a speech in commemora- tion of Ashura (a Shiite religious festival) at the residence of late Ay- atollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

AsKhatami began to bemoan dic-

tatorial rule in the name of religion, a state-planted group of aggressive plain-clothed men, generally known as “pressure groups”, stood up, chanted slogans, and began throwing prayer stones at the audience. At about the same time, another group raided the late Khomeini’s resi-

dence, breaking the windows, cut- ting the air with their batons and set- ting fear and havoc amongst the audience. It was the 11th of Feb in London.

The UCL Ahlul Bayt Islamic Society had organised a talk in commemora- tion of the victory of the then mas- sively popular 1979 Revolution in Iran at UCL Yvonne Ridley from Press TV

and Dr. Mohammad Marandi, seem- ingly Iran’s press officer to interna- tional media outlets, were both due to speak. Barely minutes after the talk had got under way, an organised

group stood up, unfurling green or red banners and chanting slogans. Arguments flared up, security staff were called in, the fire alarm was set off and the talk was abandoned to chaos. This last event has sparked a

heated debate amongst UK-based supporters of Iran’s opposition (Green)movement which has vocally condemned the Iranian govern- ment’s political and human rights abuses against its own people. I strongly oppose disrupting talks

on four grounds. Firstly, the spirit of freedomof expression, which is such

an integral part of the Green move- ment’s cause, requires that all views, even disagreeable and controversial ones, are challenged and scrutinized solely through open debate and dia- logue Secondly, as the two above anec-

dotes demonstrate - both accounts obtained from the news- such dis- ruptive actions at the university were in essence no different to those ac- tions of Iranian or other state-spon- sored pressure groups, and are equally reproachable. Thirdly, those carrying out the disruption had no claim as a source

of authority, nor as a legitimate ref- erence for distinguishing right from wrong. Therefore, they should have respected the UCL Union’s decision to allow the talk. Finally, our student body has the

right to hear the widest possible spectrum of views on their campus, and from the broadest possible knowledge, to make up their own minds. In my view, the protestors should present their grievances and arguments to the student body, free from interruption, and ask them to vote on whetherMarandi and others should be given a platform or not. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28
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