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Friday, August 15, 2008

Letter to the Minister of Education

Dear Mr O’Keefe,

I am writing with regards to the way History is thought in Irish Schools. I studied History throughout my years in the education system right up to the Leaving Certificate. Now in History one of the first things you learn is that there is a degree of bias in every source and every article. This bias can differ to a degree, where in some cases it would be hard to identify the bias or on the other hand it could completely distort the actual events. For this very reason Historians consult numerous sources before drawing a conclusion. This brings me to my point, History in Irish schools is thought from primarily a Right Wing perspective.

I know your natural response will be to deny this and defend the system, but the facts speak for themselves. In not one Irish Leaving Cert Curriculum book is the Limerick Soviets mentioned, either is the part played by the Left Wing radicals in the anti-Treaty split or even the suppression of Left Wing politics by the state and Church from the 20s onward. Naturally I do not expect or would even ask for the State to change the whole curriculum but I would raise this question, could the curriculum not include certain left wing texts? I am not even asking for controversial material to enter the curriculum, say “Labour in Irish History” would suffice. I say this is not controversial because it was written by what even a Fine Fail minister would agree as one of the great Irish Patriots, James Connolly. This book deals with Irish History from a Left Wing perspective and I feel would help balance the distorted way in which it is now thought and bring in a new source and a new perspective. For is that not the correct practice for Historians, balancing sources? You may argue that the books used today help summarise Irish History, but I have no doubt that Irish Students would benefit more from reading the actual Primary Source of “Labour in Irish History”. This source cannot be distorted, cannot be manipulated, it comes directly from the hand of James Connolly. Is this not the least we can do for a man who gave his all for Ireland. That at least the Irish State recognises his writings in its Education System?

Mr O’Keefe I am aware you most likely will not respond to this e-mail or merely pass it to a delegate of your own to deal with, but I would ask you this please consider this request. I feel it is both reasonable and practical. The memory of James Connolly should not be white washed in the States Education system, his Socialism merely mentioned in the footnotes of our Leaving Cert Curriculum books. It should be studied as it is an integral part of Irish History. His sacrifice and that of the Irish Citizens Army was just as great as any Irish Volunteer or any Irish Patriot. The way History is thought needs rectifying and I sincerely hope you will take this point on board and actually be pro-active in changing it. You are in a position of power to implement these changes, so please do use your power to do what is morally right and most of all historically accurate. Thank you for your time and I sincerely hope you will take action.

Yours Sincerely, Ian Mc Loughlin

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sligo Republican Socialist Youth Movement Recent Activities

Activity: A demonstration at a public and televised event (Eircom league of Ireland football game between Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers) to increase support for a “No” vote to the upcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty as well as increasing awareness of Sligo RSYM among the people of Sligo.Political Analysis:The display was an overwhelming success and it would be hard to imagine a better reception than that which it got. 5 people were involved in the display along with several flags such as the starry plough, communist flag, erin go bragh flag and the tri-colour flanking the main “No To Lisbon” banner. During the display a man walked all the way around the ground to personally shake our hands for the effort involved and to congratulate us. He commented on how the banner could be clearly seen from the main stand and said he was trying to make banners himself and the standard of ours were superb.

Unfortunately, the management committee of the club took exception to the banner due to its political nature saying a football club is not a political organisation and demanded it be taken down[The banner was already displayed for the whole first half of the game]. We flatly refused their demand as the club has previously endorsed a local Fine Gael councillor canvassing during a game in the run up to the last election and we felt this was very hypocritical.

It was during this episode that a group of local Sligo fans who we don’t know personally and were aged roughly 25-30 rallied around us, defending our demonstration. This was very heartening to see. The group backed us completely and insisted we bring this to the attention of the media in the form of a complaint, to highlight the bias present within the football club where members of certain political parties with an open cheque book can score political points through our local club but when working class youths attempt a peaceful and inoffensive demonstration, attempts are made to crush it. It was excellent and totally in the spirit of the demonstration that people from the community joined our side in protest against this treaty.

After the game the banner was brought to the side of the field so that all the people present could see it up close as they left the stadium. We were also well aware where the television cameras were placed as we had researched this and placed the banner in an area where it would get optimum exposure. Being a member of sporting forums on the internet myself I noticed the stir the demonstration had caused with it being openly discussed among local fans, both young and old. The attempts of the committee to censor the demo backfired on them as this just added to the attention it received. The whole event was highly beneficial as the point, getting young people discussing the treaty, was achieved. Our 3 core members has now risen to 4, plus 2 additional lads determined to help us after last night in way they can. I am optimistic they will indeed join us permanently in the near future.

Other news:We have forged strong links with local independent socialist councillor and deputy mayor of Sligo Declan Bree. This man has over 30 years of experience behind him as a representative of the people of Sligo and Leitrim and will be a great asset to us as we have agreed to help each other in any future events we are involved in.We have also established links with the Connolly Forum, which is a local organisation designed to bring all socialists of different affiliations together to speak on common ground and arrange events together.I am in preliminary discussions with the Republican Network for Unity in Galway about getting involved with them also.In the previous two months members of Sligo RSYM have attended many events on the organisations behalf such as forums on the EU Treaty, Easter Commemorations, Sligo’s save our cancer services campaign as well as the May Day celebration in Sligo town.

Signed: Ross Gildea