From Dundalk to the sea, Palestine will be free

26 Aug

A few weeks ago I flew a Palestine flag at a Galway FC match. Admittedly I was the only person in the stadium doing such a thing, but within seconds the singing section changed their chants and were merrily roaring “Palestine!” for a minute or so. A nice bit of solidarity all the way from Deacy Park, especially for those young boys who were murdered on a beach in Gaza for the crime of playing football. 

Had that been a UEFA qualifying match, I probably would have brought a hefty fine on the heads of the Maroon army. Such is the case with Dundalk FC – who are facing a fine of €18,000, from UEFA, for having fans who dared to fly such a “political” flag as that of Palestine. UEFA regard the flying of the flag as a breach of their conditions, despite Ajax flying Israeli flags at all of their matches – both UEFA and Dutch League. Let’s not mention how the 2013 UEFA Under-21 Championships were held in Israel; obviously holding matches in Jerusalem is nowhere near as political as a black, red, green and white flag. 

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UEFA fined Atletico Madrid €10,000 earlier this year when fans of the club engaged in horrific racist chanting. Going back to the rules and regulations in place here; one must come to the conclusion that UEFA see the presence of the Palestine flag as more offensive than black footballers being subjected to monkey-chanting. Maybe these figures are arbitrary, made up on the spot…however it does seem to be presupposed that all clubs can afford such fines. Any fan of any League of Ireland club knows that €18,000 is quite a hefty blow to the financial prospects of their team. Dundalk FC would only win €100,000 if they won the league this year; we’re not dealing with massive conglomerates like AC Milan or Chelsea. In Modern Football, solidarity with people living under occupation is deemed offensive and if your team is guilty, they’d be expected to have the balance sheet of a multi-national corporation in order to deal with the consequences. 

What to do? Well first off, the hundreds and thousands of us across Ireland who’ve been expressing solidarity with Palestine these past few weeks should stand with Dundalk FC and support their non-payment of the fine. Football is a sport of the masses, and many of those people can both support their local team and express solidarity with oppressed peoples abroad. Those young boys who died on that Gaza beach have more in common with the young kids kicking a ball about in a Dundalk estate, than with any bureaucrats in UEFA. 

I’ll be bringing a Palestine flag to the Galway FC match on Friday, I urge you to do similar. They may not be UEFA matches but the solidarity we can send to Palestine and with Dundalk FC, will help the Louth club stand in defiance of UEFA’s hypocritical rules. 

You’ll never be Irish to some people…

22 Jul

I was walking to the offie with a few mates the other day when we were stopped by two young lads in their mid to late teens. They were looking for a cigarette so we kindly obliged. One of them looked like he’d had a few cans already; cocky as hell, not a bother on him. A mate started chatting to them while I took a phone call. My other friends stood around waiting for us all to go our separate ways. Whilst on the phone I overheard one of the young lads say that he recognised me, I looked over and continued chatting into the phone. I didn’t expect what happened next.

My mate had grown tired of humouring them and it was approaching 10 so the two lads walked up past me, seeming like they were on their way. Suddenly, the cocky one started talking at me, ignoring the fact that I was on the phone. I informed him as much and moved closer to my friends. Then I heard it – “Paki”. The lad repeated it over and over again, sometimes adding swear words with it to give it extra effect. My friend on the phone could hear it too and was naturally concerned. I turned to stare at the fella, his friend doing very little to tell him to stop. I analysed the situation: there was me and my 4 mates, all of us in our mid to late 20s, we were in the car park of a large supermarket, cars and people all around us. I counted to ten over and over again, talking myself out of headbutting him. He stepped closer to me, hands in his pockets, spitting the word “Paki” directly into my face. One of my mates told him to stop and this seemed to rile the other young lad. I had a decision to make: give them a roughing up and walk on or hope they’d back off and walk away.

No matter how I explained it, if the five of us started clattering them it would have ended bad, if not there and then but definitely later with the Guards involved or when the two fellas decided to take revenge. I told them to stop, asked them to walk on and informed them I was still on the phone. The one giving the abuse tried to shake my hand but I wasn’t having it. I told him he’d seriously insulted me and that they should just go. I could feel myself shaking, not out of fear, but out of pure anger. I thought about my Mam, the Pakistan flag in my room at home, the cricket jersey in my top drawer – how dare he make me feel bad for being mixed race. The two of them walked away and me and my friends made our way towards the shop. For the next two minutes as I walked away from them, the little racist started again, roaring “Paki” over and over again. I could feel people looking at me, I tried to drown it out but it echoed around the place. it was the most direct abuse I’d received in some time.

I didn’t want my mates to feel bad for not stepping in, I could see how furious they were. When I was younger, when this happened on a weekly basis…I would have just gone in all guns blazing. At almost 28, I think I was more shocked that this still happens in 2014. I’ve been in Galway almost my entire life, I’ve walked through that car park before those lads were even born. Regardless of my name and accent, people still want to point out my appearance and ethnicity and use it as a form of insult against me. Little do those two lads realise – I’m a proud Paki/Paddy. Of course they’ll never understand that, so they target me (much like Ireland’s two-bit fascists and separately Zionists) and try to isolate me due to my colour. It’s still playing on my mind, but I think I did the right thing. Had they been older I’m pretty sure there would have been a different outcome. Just makes me prouder to be part Pakistani.

Protection of Life during a Garth Brooks concert

7 Jul

I don’t think I’ve ever seen our “major” political parties move so fast to publish their position on an issue. Whether some cowboy-lad  should be allowed to play a load of concerts in a big GAA pitch. I’m not going to go into my opinion of the fella’s music. In trying to think up a title for this post, I was hoping to do a play on a song title of his…but I don’t know any of his songs. That’s largely irrelevant here, what’s important to note is how quick the state machinery can move when it wants to. Especially when there’s money to be made. They’ll even play on the genuine concerns of different sets of locals to screw with public opinion.

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It has to be said. How come there was no such urgency on issues that dramatically affect our lives? For abortion, it took 20, 30 years; and what women are left with is something that’s actually, regressive. How about asylum seekers waiting on whether they can stay in the country; ah sure leave them in limbo for a good 7 years. Hold on, the Dáil sat overnight to decide on the promissory notes/government bonds, with the odd drink or 50 in the bar. Of course they did, the European Central Bank were involved. Where capital is at stake, the parties will fall over each other to have their voice heard. They’ll happily sit back for decades when it’s the lives of the oppressed at stake. To those who bought tickets; this isn’t being done for you, it’s being done for those who can make you part with your very last euro/dollar.

There is one more thing to take from this. The law. It always operates in the interests of the wealthy. A set of rules designed to regulate capital…stretched to cover social issues too. So I fail to see the point in lying to homeowners and those who have to pay the water charges that we can challenge and defeat national legislation in the courts. It’s diverting energy down a cesspit, giving legitimacy to fanciful ideas about “contracts” and “licensing” – mostly where these concepts don’t even apply. However, that’s a post for another day. The point is, our politicians can move quite fast to change the law. Keep that in mind when we build campaigns to repeal the 8th Amendment, the 27th Amendment…or a move for an entire new constitution altogether.

Endapendence Day

6 Jul

Did you know it was Algerian Independence Day yesterday? Or that it’s Malawi’s Independence Day today? I didn’t until a few days ago either. Yet we all knew it was time to establish some sort of connection to the States on Friday. Regardless of the fact that the US sees this island as a landing pad for it’s war-machines, ignoring that most of it’s multi-nationals rob this state of taxes year-in, year out; too many of us in Ireland go out of our way to only acknowledge one particular independence day. God forbid that we identify with some country in Africa when it comes to national independence.

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Fuck patriotism. Why ignore the inequality and death meted out by our Governments for one day just so we can swear allegiance to a fabricated entity that couldn’t give a damn about you anyway. Well there is one reason. It operates as a weapon of mass distraction. Take The Gathering. A US-inspired “celebration” designed to take the Irish public’s mind away from wondering why 1000s are emigrating, and instead focusing our attention on bullshit notions of what being “Irish” is. They do it in the US everyday: “Support Our Troops!” – don’t question the massive  amount of money being spent on killing innocent people; The Patriot Act – being patriotic means giving up many of your basic rights..etc. In identifying with that particular independence day, we see how the Irish Government and the “wealth-creators” behind the largest entertainment and retail outlets in Ireland want to frame “being Irish”. Throw on the green shirt sure – suddenly you forget about asylum seekers, the lack of reproductive rights, water taxes…you know the score.

I’m not starting this blog to just give my opinion on stuff that pisses me off – I want to use it to make suggestions for action, where necessary. So, in that regard, I propose  finding out the Independence Days of other countries and going to those same bars and shops around Galway that were decked out in stars and stripes; and asking them to hold events that celebrate Algeria and Malawi, for example. However, not being the biggest fan  of nationalism- or borders for that matter; how about holding an event next July 4th that counters the idea that we should celebrate the independence of slave-masters? With the inferiority complex this nation has, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eyre Square covered in St George’s crosses next April 23rd…