Friday, 17 November 2017

Military Universities and Jesuit whitewash

Although I am now a non-believer, I have nothing but the height of respect for that gallant group of people in the United States of America who call themselves the Catholic Workers.  They have relentlessly waged a gallant non-violent struggle both to help the poor and to oppose all war and warmongers in whatever disguise over many years. In their struggle against the supporters and purveyors of a philosophy and theology of violence, they have been to prison time after time, some like the Berrigan brothers Philip and Daniel enduring years of life behind bars.  The Berrigans were Jesuits, Dan persisting in the clerical vocation till his recent death and Phil leaving the priesthood to marry Elizabeth McAlister and with her rear a brilliant family, persisting in both his faith and vocation to oppose all war until he died in December 2002.

The tradition of the Berrigans lives on.

In Ireland Mary Kelly, and five Pitstop Ploughshare activists (Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon, Damien Moran, Ciaron O'Reilly) blazed a non-violent trail in 2003 by disabling a US warplane at Shannon airport, risking years in prison. After tortuous trials they were all eventually acquitted because they had lawful excuse (to save lives in Iraq). Since then other activists have engaged in protests at the same airport having entered it by cutting or in one case hopping the fence.  Seventy nine year old Margaretta D'Arcy spent time in jail, Niall Farrell, Mick Wallace TD, Clare Daly TD, Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan followed suit. [See previous blogs].

There are onging actions of a similar kind in Australia at present

Yesterday in the United States,Catholic Workers, Vets for Peace and a member of a group called Neb. For Peace were among the eight people who showed up on the side walk outside the Creighton Universities ROTC building at noon, to protest

As part of a national wide campaign called “Teach Peace Not War!”, they hope to get the 17 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities that host Military Training to end the obnoxious practice.The group at Creighton asked the University "not to whitewash the gospel"  and presented the Director with a bucket of whitewash as a reminder.

Spokesperson Andy Kenney said to the Jesuit Director: "Please accept this bucket of whitewash as a gentle reminder not to use it to conform to the world around you. May you never have need to open it again. May you advocate, with the zeal and authority of Jesus, to remove worldly military training centers from your catholic campuses.”

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Rajoy calls for calm, then fires Catalan President, senior ministers and dissolves Parliament.

The Spanish Premier has added fuel to the fire by reacting to Catalonia's declaration of independence by dissolving the regional Parliament, dismissing its President, senior ministers and chief of police despite asking for "calm".  To any outside observer this looks like a recipe for disaster.
Premier Rajoy and King Felipe have adopted an imperial approach to the Catalan attempt to gain independence from the beginning.  They have opposed a regional democratic vote, giving Spanish police a free hand to use violence against voters on the day of the referendum.

Catalonia is split almost evenly on the question of independence so a democratic vote might have resulted in a win for either side. But an aloof and rigid government in Madrid refused to allow such a vote to take place. In this they were backed by the European Union who plead that there could be too many countries around for them to govern if secessions happen.
The Catalan response is firm and more responsible.  They will oppose the heavy-handedness from Madrid by non-violent means, civil disobedience and passive resistance.  As these are very powerful tools, more powerful in the long run than violence and physical force, the Spanish could have a long struggle on their hands.
At least that will be true if the Catalan independence struggle remains non-violent in the strictest sense.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Catalonia declares independence from Spain

Spanish Senate votes to trigger Article 151

On a historic day for Catalonia and Spain, Catalonia has declared its independence.  The vote was 70 - 10 with 2 blanks.  The Opposition had walked out before the vote was taken.

Within the hour the Spanish Senate triggered Article 151 which will give them power to remove the Catalan President Carles Puidgemont and his ministers from office.  The future looks ominous for both sides.

Whatever the reasons for their struggle for independence, the Catalan President his parliament and supporters deserve credit for their courage.  They have peacefully withstood a brutal put down by Spanish police on their own streets and later the threats of Spain's President (Prime Minister) Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish King Felipe.  The latters' actions and words were not conducive to a peaceful resolution of their differences with the Catalan independence movement.

The scenes of unbridled joy on the streets of Barcelona have been tempered by the aforesaid threats.

Because of their peaceful stance, their courage in the face of brutality and their steadfastness in the face of ugly threats from Madrid, my heart lies with the Catalan independence movement.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Macron's Double Speak on Catalan Bid for independence

When Emmanuel Macron was elected President of France I was pleased.  Without knowing much about him, I thought he might be a welcome change to his conservative predecessors.  The French electorate may not have known much about him either.  They may or may not have known of allegations of favouritism against his ministry while he was the Minister of Economy and Finance.  That happened in 2016 when he was invited speaker at a Las Vegas technology event that cost €381,759. They probably knew of his intentions to crack down on workers' rights as part of his reform.   Still they gave him a chance.

As an inspirational leader for change in the best sense he has been a big disappointment. His pronouncement on 10 October 2017, purporting not to intervene in the "Catalan matter" while at the same time being a major interventionist on behalf of the Spanish government, underlines that disappointment.

“If I were to intervene in the Catalan matter it would be interfering in the domestic affairs of Spain and that would be intolerable for the prime minister and for the Spanish monarch”, he said.

But he also said “ I continue to hold firm to this line in my declarations of support for Mariano Rajoy - because if I don’t there will be disintegration,”

In a word he will not intervene on the side of the successful Catalan referendum for independence but he will intervene to oppose it.

There was no word of outrage, protest or even concern about the brutal treatment of voters by police during that referendum.

Monsieur Macron signals No Change for politics in France

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Dogs that Follow

I've written a number of plays over the years but never had one produced. The nearest to success was one called "Men in Black" [long before the film of the same name] which drew praise and a special interview (but not production) from the Abbey Theatre. Too many characters (aren't there always?), more suitable for TV, they said. The only TV station that replied was the BBC who gave it even more elaborate praise but said it was more suitable for the Abbey.

Tried the Abbey again lately with the Dogs that Follow. Six months wait. Then a "summary", the contents of which made me realise that the reader had read only a part of the first Act. Damning with faint praise. Rejected. So now, the whole play is available for any drama group or theatre to produce for free.

The following message is on my Facebook page:

Anyone interested in a new 2-act play "The Dogs that Follow"?   Read it here.  Would love if some drama group produced it. Please get in touch if you are interested.

Here is the summary you will see at the beginning of the script to whet the appetite!

[The play is set in midsummer 1978 in the graveyard of Drumcliff Co Sligo where William Butler Yeats is buried.
The action is around another grave near Yeats' where R.I.C Sergeant Joe Duffy his wife and two childen lie.
Two teachers, Jim and Niall arrive from Dublin to tidy the grave. Friends but with different viewpoints on women. Jim's wife Maeve is a niece of the dead infants. Her mother Mabel dislikes Jim.
Jim and Niall discuss women, love, Yeats' work, violence, Jim's trouble with Mabel. Yeats had written that men were like dogs that follow at the heels of women
Two female US students arrive to see the poet's grave and introduce a little banter
Mabel and Maeve arrive at the grave, Mabel insults Jim, rows with Maeve and has a panic attack

In the second Act, Jim is isolated in the graveyard at night after a break-up with Maeve. He encounters fairy dancers, young Mabel and later the ghost of WB Yeats. Young Mabel tells Jim about her father's death from pneumonia after he had been left out all night by an IRA volunteer group and how no-one in Sligo attended his funeral. Jim is overcome with love or infatuation for young Mabel and at her invitation they make love.
In their encounter with Yeats, Jim and young Mabel discuss with him his own influence on the rebels of 1916, and criticise his support for violence in his plays. Jim asks for his opinion of women, especially how to handle the powerful bond between mother and daughter.
As dawn breaks Niall has come with sleeping bags, Yeats and young Mabel fade away, Yeats shouting to the night his discovery of the new word, Ze, to replace “he or she”.   Jim recounts to a worried Niall his sexual encounter with young Mabel and his discussion with Yeats. Eventually old Mabel and Maeve arrive and are overcome with the warm reception given to old Mabel by Jim. All is changed utterly for the better – or is it? Old Mabel puzzles Maeve by saying to Jim “Don't think I've forgotten what happened in the middle of the night!”]