Eulogies and description of Garrett O’Reilly’s funeral Friday August 21st.

September 5, 2009


Video footage from the memorial service can be accessed by going to
http://www.vimeo.com/6439270

On Friday August 21st. approximately 300 people gathered at Holy Cross Church Wooloowin, Brisbane, for the funeral of Garrett O’Reilly. Garrett had died in the early hours of Tuesday morning August 18th. The coffin was draped in an old rebel flag of Ireland (green background with a gold harp), the Tricolour and Aboriginal flag were also placed on the altar. Airs and laments were performed during the viewing, preceeding the mass, by Simon Wells (tin whistle, flute) and Helen Rowe (fiddle). Simon and Helen also joined Patricia Kelly in performing the opening hymn “Amazing Grace”.

Abroriginal elder, activist and playwrite Sam Watson commenced proceedings with a “Welcome to Country” and spoke of the grief around Garret’s death.

Brendan O’Reilly read a reflection by Patrica Murphy Butler. The responsorial psalm was “The Lord is My Shepherd”, the Gospel reading Matthew 5: 1-10. Ciaron O’Reilly read a poem by Fr. Daniel Berrigan SJ “To the Jesuits of Central America – The Gratitude of a Brother”. Patricia Kelly performed “Di Alosa” in Irish and “Be Not Afraid” as the Communion hymn. Mark Dalton performed “Kevin Barry” following communion and Patricia Kelly sang “Danny Boy” as the coffin was carried shoulder height from the church.

The offertory gifts included Garret’s harmonica and an Offaly GAA top carried by granddaughters Esther and Ruby O’Reilly. Also offering traditional East Timorese sashes was Afonso Corte Real who met Garrett shortly after fleeing the 1975 Indonesian military invasion of his country. Afonso and Garrett had initially met around solidarity work for East Timor during the early years of the invasion.

An initial reception was held at the church before family and friends accompanied the coffin for burial at Pinaroo Cemetery.

A Celeberation of Garret’s Life continued at the home of Lisa Bridle, Terry Fisher and family into the evening, with music provided by Mark Dalton and Simon Wells.

There were three eulogies given during the mass by Sean Curley, Ciaron O’Reilly and Sean O’Reilly. The full texts below………..

 

EULOGY BY SEAN CURLEY

(Sean Curley was born and raised in Athlone in Co. Offaly Ireland. He did an apprenticeship in Clara, Co. Offaly before migrating to Australia in the mid-70′s)

When I received the news last Tuesday (18 August 2009) that Garrett had died, my initial response was one of relief that Garrett’s last struggle was over.

However as time passed, strong emotions took over. They cut deeply and opened me up – triggering memories of a 32 year long friendship. As I went through this, I recalled reading an article by Joseph Campbell in which he discussed evidence of the early signs of the evolution of human consciousness. Campbell argued that if we study the way our ancient ancestors cared for the remains of their dead we see eveidence of the evolution of our consciousness in this act. He invites us to imagine what it was like sitting around a campfire with one member who is poorly or sick. When morning breaks that one is dead. He argues that in the rituals and act of burial we have evolved a physical manifestation of our emotions. We choose to stay and not walk on. We stop to show our respect. We may not even had the language to wrap around and express our emotions.

I believe the strong emotions experienced are the personal price paid for one’s connectedness and regard for another.

So today, we continue this ritual as we come together to express our respect and regard for Garrett.

Over the past 32 years, Garrett has shared many stories with me. We came from the same region in Ireland and as I had worked in his home town of Clara, I was able to complete some of the stories Garrett had heard as a 17 year old and at times add a fresh dimension. Sometimes there was dispelling of some of the local myths by correcting some historical and personal facts – not always to Garrett’s satisfaction.

We were both migrants, I, however, chose to leave Ireland. Garrett and many of his generation had no such luxury. For many of them, and in particular, Garrett, at age 17 that rupture from family and community connection left its mark. The physical disconnect was repeatedly experienced in the quiet of the night in a foreign land.

As a parent, I have reflected on what it would be like to experience the parting of one of my 3 children. To see them go to one of the “outer planets” and as a parent experiencing the reality that you may never see or hear from them again is difficult to contemplate. Such was the lot of many early Irish migrants and those left behind.

Garrett spoke with reverence about both of his parents and of the values and principles they instilled in him.

 

MEETING GARRETT

In 1977 a group of us set up a “Troops Out” Committee, an organisation that grew out of the UK trade union movement calling for the withdrawl of troops from Northern Ireland. We were invited by Ciaron O’Reilly to a meeting in a church house not far from where we are today. Prior to the meeting, Paul, one of our committee members, expressed unease about meeting this Mr. O’Reilly. He had heard he was a “big shot executive” who worked with the Chrysler Corporation and drove a big flash car. Also he thought it was quite possible that Garrett was a Special Branch or ASIO spy.

At the meeting I sat by a window looking out onto the driveway when this old light green Kingswood drove in and out got this burly man with a mop of curly grey-black hair. He was resplendent in his postman’s uniform, complete with long navy walking socks. When he introduced himself there was a joint sense of relief among the committee members. After the meeting I told Garrett of Paul’s concerns and he laughed and laughed and he said “No, no you’ve got the wrong person there”.

Over time, my relationship with Garrett has had 3 distinct phases – the sharing of homeland and migrant stories, our political and union activism and in later years our personal and philosophical evolution.

I recall one meeting when Garrett asked if I believed in God. He was shocked when I said no, I did not.

At our next meeting, I explained my position a bit better I think. I argued that God is a human construct and that many cultures have their own version of the God that we grew up with in our peculiar version of Irish Catholicism.

We discussed his personal battles which he faced up to with determination and integrity. Those experiences shaped him and helped him to understand what Manning Clark meant when he spoke about having compassion for those with “cracks in their clay”.

Garrett is part of my life and his life is part of the architecture of my children’s lives.

This time next week, I will be in Ireland and over the weekend I will visit Garrett’s hometown of Clara and call on his family. I will take with me a sprig of wattle that lies on Garrett’s coffin and place it on his parent’s grave and I will tell them this:

“Your son Garrett, in the final days of his life was surrounded by a loving family and friends.

He was a proud husband, father and grandfather. He told me the happiest days of his life were when he was with his sons, taking them to soccer, tennis and swimming at the Spring Hill Baths.

He told me how important it was for kids to be able to talk to their parents about any worries no matter how big or small, that no matter what, you would always stand by your children.

He has been honoured by the local aboriginal community, members of the oldest continous culture on this earth.

He was a long time member of the Australian Labor Party. He was a commited Trade Unionist, a respected workplace delegate who never took a backward step in advocating for rights and reforms of his fellow workers. In the tradition of the great Irish socialists, James Connoly and Jim Larkin, he did not romanticise or see any virtue in being poor but worked to address the structural issues in society that impoverished.

He marched in the streets of Brisbane to support aboriginal people’s rights of self-determination. He supported the rights of gay and lesbian people.

He marched for civil liberties and against the oppression and corruption of the Petersen National Party Government.

He marched for peace and the end of British rule in Northern Ireland.

Your son Garrett who left home at 17 and who eventually made a new home in Brisbane was an honoured and respected member of our community. He faced up to life’s challenges and did the best he could.

My last memory of Garrett was when his son Sean and I helped him sit up in bed to drink water. Father Peter Kennedy and Father Terry Fitzpatrick from St. Mary’s community entered the room. Garrett’s face lit up and the transparent joy and comfort he experienced in their presence will be etched in my consciousness forever. I recall as a teenager resolving that heaven and hell was a state of mind in which we die. Your son is in heaven.

I mourn your son’s passing and I will miss him.”

Sean Curley

 

EULOGY BY CIARON O’REILLY 

Many thanx for gathering today in memory of dad and in solidarity with us – his family.

I was hoping Gary MacLennan would be here to give a eulogy – but Gary is in court today defending the disabled from the attacks of the bureaucrats and nihilists of QUT. It’s always good to have someone from the tribe absent when we gather, in court or jail, taking it to the man – and it’s Gary MacLennan’s turn today!

So many good folks have sent messages of sympathy and solidarity from around Australia, Ireland, England, Scotland, New Zealand and the United States.  

Dad made friends whereever he went. Some of our earliest memories are of Dad initiating introductions, striking up conversations on public transport, football games and in just about any queue that was forming. Dad incarnated that Filipino saying, “There’s no such thing as strangers, only friends we haven’t met!”

Dad was born in 1928 in the small village of Kilbeggan, County Westmeath, Ireland and grew up a few miles from there in the village of Clara, County Offaly. Although he was the eldest of 13, he was raised by his maternal grandparents in a houseful of Aunts not too much older than himself. The affirmation received as the golden boy in a house full of women did no harm to his self esteem. Being raised away from his siblings, however, did sew a sense of rejection later compounded by his expulsion from the Clara school and the long daily cycle to the school back in Kilbeggan. In later years he was able to name and deal with such feelings of rejection, exorcising them somewhat from his subconscious. His grandparents gave him a strong diet of Irish Republicanism, the socialism of James Connoly and the Irish language – Dad remained a fluent Irish speaker.

Some of our earliest memories are of Dad telling us bed time stories of Kilbeggan and Clara of Mother Rhina Roo, of neighbors who took in mythological proportions. Dad promised to take us back to this Promised Land one day. Dad left his village in 1945 and was not able to return for 30 years.

Dad left his home for London at 17 and then on the boat to Australia when he was 21. He loved the life, the travel, the song, the craic and could handle himself if called on to defend the good name of Mother Ireland in the bars of London or the pubs of Australia.

I once asked Dad how he got his broken nose? He replied, “I was talkin’ when I should have been listenin’ “

I was never quite sure of that answer was an implied gentle threat to the nature of the question posed or what – but it turned out to be good advice. Whenever I’ve been bashed or batoned over the years it’s usually been when I was talking when I should have been listening.

Dad was an intensely spiritual man – I don’t think he understood consumerism or how to behave in a consumer culture. It was always people, family, community, song, story telling, the craic that was his passion.

He even had quite a mystical approach to smuggling! In the early 1980′s, we were waiting at Brisbane Airport for Dad to return from a trip to Ireland. Waiting, as you do, for Dad to clear customs and for the large automatic doors to open and deliver our Celtic patriarch. The doors open and out strides Dad with a bottle of poitin in either hand – for the uninitiated, poitin is a potent illegal Irish moonshine whiskey – Dad had marked the bottles “Lourdes Holy Water”. The brazen genius of this amazed me. I asked him, “What if customs checked it?” He replied “I’d claim it was a miracle!”

Many folks from all sorts of backgrounds resonated with Dad’s thirst for justice and integrity – he was sound, solid, reliable and would take no shite from power or privilege. He spoke truth to power at work, in church on the streets.

An early memory is the “Holy Name Society” pledge of which all the boys and men of the parish would be obligated to stand and recite on a monthly basis during Sunday mass. The President of the Holy Name Society also happened to be the head of the Special Branch seving the corrupt and authoritarian Queensland state government. When it came to repeating the line of the Holy Name oath “We pledge obedience to all lawful and civil authority”, the O’Reilly pew would collectively fall silent for that part.

I remember the first time a police car was parked outside of our house to make enquiries regarding the O’Reilly brothers during the “Right to March” period of the ’70′s. Dad’s worry wasn’t that the people in the street might think we were criminals. His concern was that they might mistake us for police informers. That told me a lot!

Like Dad, we were raised on rebel songs and stories. When I was 11 – 27 unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers were shot down and 13 killed by British troops in Derry. Dad dragged me along to my first protest following this Bloody Sunday. A fact I would remind him of over the years when he visited me in custody, phoned me in jails in Australia, the U.S. or Ireland or advised me to take my foot off the peddle in confronting state power.

He valued his Irish Republican mates in Brisbane and they valued him. They were there with him last weekend in his last hours of consciousness.

I guess for me Irish Republicanism was my Old Testament – with the Berrigans and Dorothy Day providing a New Testament fulfilment of its best promises. It was great, for me, when Mum and Dad on the way back from Ireland in ’94 did a U.S. circuit staying with the Berrigans and many of the Catholic Workers I had lived with before my imprisonment and deportation from the U.S.. For me it felt like a full circle.

Dad was a very social man but a dedicated family man. The transition from his roving days of his 20′s to the demands and responsibilities of married life were nearly to much for him. Dad had a breakdown just after Sean was born. Mum and Dad broke through that together, Dad gave up drink and always had a deep compassion and solidairity with folks living with mental and emotional fragility. He was active for years in Grow.

Going “straight edge”, as the punks would call it, didn’t slow down Dad’s love for ceilhis, music sessions and gatherings. It has been a gift to his sons later in life that Dad could speak so freely of his fragility, vulnerability and failures. It reminds me of the Leonard Cohen lyric, “Abandon your perfect offering, everything has a crack in it, That’s how the light gets in!”

Dad would go into troughs of negativity, usually around the betrayals of the institutions he had put so much faith in….

-the Church

-the Labor Party

-the Irish leadership.

I would tell him that all these elites had bought Satan’s three desert temptations – power, wealth and status – things he didn’t desire. My father had no interest in power, wealth or status. On one occasion when Dad was moaning the latest sell out and the lack of solidarity – Gary MacLennan responded “If you want loyalty, buy a dog!” I thought that was succint advice if a little pessimistic.

It was a privilege to spend the early hours of last Sunday morning alone with my Dad as he was suffering and dying, lying naked he had pulled off the sheets and his clothing, we held hands, squeezing, winking and nodding at each other through the long night. Sometimes we’re up against such powers of death, institutions, war – that all we can do is hold hands, wink and nod at each other.

Dad spent over 80 years teaching his sons how to live well.

He spent the past week showing us how to die well.

Eternal light grant unto him O Lord

Ciaron O’Reilly

 

 

EULOGY BY SEAN O’REILLY

In speaking of our father, Garrett O’Reilly, I just want to mention a few aspects of his life that have special resonance for me.

My father left Ireland in 1945, two months short of his 18th birthday and wasn’t to return for 30 years. In 1949 he travelled from England to Australia at 21 years of age. I headed in the other direction at the same age. It was the cheap passage and sense of adventure that brought him here and he traversed much of Australia and New Zealand over the following 5-6 years before meeting our mother, Mary, and marrying in 1957. He told us of his experiences. Boarding houses, dancing halls, moving often from one job to the next and long train journeys. Stowing away on a ship back from New Zealand and wilder times when he experienced the hospitality of a few police watchhouses. I took that sense of adventure with me as I have travelled Australia and overseas.

As young boys we listened to stories of Dad’s growing up in Ireland- school, dances at the crossroads, chasing rabbits and digging peat- to name a few. Ireland took on a somewhat mystical and special place that we would one day travel to on a ship. He would sing, speak Irish, play the harmonica and tell stories on request or more often quite spontaneously without waiting to be asked. So far from his country of birth but Ireland still very much in his heart. Some may say a romantic. Growing up attending the Harp and Shamrock Club functions and later the Troops Out of Ireland protests, I was fortunate to be as emersed in the Irish culture as I could be and surrounded by Irish families which I still hold dear. The door was always open and many newly arrived Irish and other folks passed through, my mother the backbone of our hospitality. When I walked up the hill of Aughamore, outside Clara, Co. Offaly and into my grandparents home on that grey August day in 1979, there was immediately something so familiar and a sense of belonging to that place. It may be because his own father was directly involved after 1916 but Dad always had a strong sense of justice.

I don’t remember ever thinking the system was fair for everyone. Some were missing out through no fault of their own and I owe that awareness to my father. Early on when he worked in the post office there was an industrial action. He was only temporary at the time and risked losing his own position to stand with his workmates. He was shattered by the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975, joined the A.L.P. and became actively involved. He was later equally shattered by the Hawke Labour government’s decision to approve uranium mining and its betrayal of the East Timorese people that he moved away from the A.L.P. in search of groups with greater integrity. Dad was a member of the East Timor solidarity group, supported the rights of indigenous Australians and later became a union rep. in the mailroom, relishing the role. There would be a smile on his face, recounting exchanges with management as he stood up for his fellow workers. On another occasion he took Kim Beazley to task when presented with the opportunity at a Labour Day march. Dad was concerned about our welfare, whether involved in protests or in custody but above it all he was immensely proud of the stands his sons have made over the years.

For some time now Dad had felt his quality of life was declining. The final 67 days of my father’s life was spent in hospital. He appreciated the love and support of family and friends and wanted so much to get home. For a time that seemed possible and he struggled to achieve it. But over the past few weeks the health problems kept mounting. Dad became aware that his life was slipping away and he accepted this. Late last week my father’s condition became a whole lot worse and on Saturday night he said that he was ready to leave this earthly life. I reminded him of what a wonderful father he had been and how much we owe him for the people we have become. I am grateful to God that my father could die with the same dignity with which he had lived.

Sean O’Reilly

G20-Circled & Shaken Down During the 2nd Sorrowful Mystery

April 4, 2009

Sometime during the second decade of the sorrowful mysteries, I had a sense we were not alone. Martin, Katrina and I were sat alone in a small East London park facing the Excel Centre where the G20 of the most powerful government leaders were gathered to rearrange deckchairs on their sinking ship. Thousands of police had been deployed around the Excel Centre keeping the few hundreds of protesters who gathered a quarter of a mile from the site. A case of overcatering evidently.
We had somehow managed to get through to this small park for a face off with the building. We were praying seated at a park table when this big guy leaned over me , I looked up to see an automatic rifle in his hands and a pistol strapped to his knee. He told me to stand up slowly. As I did I went to place a paper in my pocket he said “Keep your hands visible”. This guy was serious, I extended my arms away from my body for a frisking and looked around to see 4 other guys and a gal in paramilitary uniforms circling our table all similarly armed with rifles and pistols. 6 of them with 12 weapons, 3 of us with a bible, rosary beads and liturgy sheet. I like these odds.

As Martin stood up he kept reciting the rosary, didn’t break stride. My copy of the Guardian began to flutter in the breeze under the park table I thought I should step out and stand on it so it wouldn’t blow away. I then thought, I really like my left kneecap, stayed stationery, refused to give my name and was detained under anti-terrorist legislation, 5th time in the past year in 3 jurisdictions!

The cops paced around methodically as they checked Katrina and Martin’s bags….these folks were the real deal, the last card in the cop deck. After the 4 million CCTV’s, the fluroescent jacket guys, the riot squads with shields and batons, come these folks I guess.

Our visitors seemed satisfied that our liturgy sheet was not indeed a map of the Excel Centre as reported by their Intel. After we were released from the mystical anti-terror detention and the super cops departed, we returned to prayer and further reflection on these dark times we’re in and what small human response we could muster.

Outnumbered, outresourced, outflanked, but not out of the game – Katrina produced a rainbow PEACE banner and Martin drew up a placard with a quote from Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day “Our Problems Stem from our Acceptance of this Filthy Rotten System!” and made our way toward the G20 gathering.

Across the city others were being raided, arrested, recovering from wounds and long hours of detention/kettling from the previous day’s scene outside the Bank of England. A lot more good folks, following weeks of media hype and scaremongering, were internally migrating away from expressing dissent in this historic moment wherein the climate and the economy crash. Where this filthy rotten system based on production for production sake rather than meeting human needs, that operates in the denial that the environment does not have limits to exploitation.

The only way out of this atomised fear and off this sinking ship is nonviolent resistance and solidarity.

http://www.londoncatholicworker.org

G19 Photo Report from Action at Bank of England
8,000 folks carnival and detained/kettled by thousands of police

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/426274.html

G19-Photo report from Climate camp before it got smashedby riot police at 7 pm G19

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/04/426221.html

In Bristol in Solidarity with the EDO 6

March 20, 2009

During the recent bombing of Gaza, 6 anti-war activists decommissioned weapon systems at EDO Brighton/England.  Two of the activists – Elijah James Smith and Robert Alford – are being denied bail and continue to be held in prisons in England. Background on the campaign around EDO,  the action by the 6, updates and prison addresses for solidarity mail can be found at….
http://decommisioners.wordpress.com/

I’ll be in Bristol in this weekend at a solidarity vigil outside a Bristol prison where one of the EDO 6 – Elijah James Smith -is being held on remand….
http://bristol.indymedia.org.uk/article/689994

and Sunday 7:30pm screening the “Route Irish” documentary.
http://bristol.indymedia.org.uk/article/690028

…if you know anyone interested in the vicinity feel free to let them know

Solidarity banner drop for EDO prisoners
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/03/424582.html

Mixing it with the Catholic Chaplain for British Military Land Forces

March 18, 2009

In December ’08, I was asked to sort of debate Mgr J S Alker Assistant British Military Chaplain General Land Forces and Principal RC Chaplain at the V1 Form Theology conference at St Mary’s School, Ascot, England.

Well it wasn’t much of a debate I went first and couldn’t rebut. It was more like an exchange of views on the Pacifict V Just War position in the Catholic church (see the movie “The Mission” for an interesting take on this debate!)

I met with the Monsignor in the hall after our presentations and we had a good exchange of views. He was dressed in military chaplain uniform with epitlaps and I was in my dreads and my worn, cigar burn hole Pitstop ploughshares t-shirt. I remarked to him that we looked straight out of central casting! He agreed.

There were approx 120 high school students, very bright from the quality of questions (could be a few future prosecutors and judges in there, if so hopefully they’ll rember me kindly!), and at least one young guy who is being put through VI form by the British military. The Russians and the British are the only Euro countries that recruit and 16! I had a lot of good exchanges with these kids at coffee breaks, lunch etc.

At the outset of my presentation I pointed that all of them had been born after my last haircut in 1988. I got that haircut in Boggo Rd. Jail in Brisbane where I was imprisoned for blockading the crew of the nuclear warship U.S.S. Hoel that had called in to Brisbane on its way back from supporting Saddam Hussein in the Persian Gulf. This was around the time Bin Laden and friends were being supported and armed by the American CIA and Pakistani Inteligence. Good friends of the US/UK, now the new enemies.

I pointed out that there has been 3 responses to the issues of war and violence in church history….

1. Pacifism for the first 3 centuries, pracitsed and taught by Jesus living under the Roman colonisers and the Herodian collaborators -embraced by the Catholic Worker movement and other remnants of radical disciplehip.

2. The Just War theory thought up by Augustine after the 3rd. century Constantine shift when the church was legalised, patronised by the emperor and was fasttracked to become basic to Roman citizenship. This “Constantine Shift” turned christian ethics on its head. The ethical question of how do you run the Roman (British, Portugese, Spanish, any empire ) in a Christian way? should never have been our problem…like how do you run a firing squad in a christian way? is not our problem either.
Both recent popes have mused that given the nature of modern warfare technology the a just war may now be an impossibilty (eg. your not supposed to kill civilians for starters!)

3 Crusades – “kill em all and let God sort them out”. Theologically discredited in the Catholic tradition but is very much the theology of nuclear weapons, aerial and naval bombardment which is basic to the present wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.

I pointed out that where we were gathered at Ascot was once the fringe of the Roman empire with all the brutality and oppression that went with that. Later it had become the centre of the British empire that stretched all the way to my hometown of Brisbane 12,000 miles away liquidating the local tribe there.

As theologian Ched Myers points out where we are situated in empire effects how we do our theology and radical christian praxis. From the oppressed 3rd. World will come a “Theology of Liberation” from the entitled First World will come a “Theology of Repentance and Resistance”.

As the Chaplain pointed out, the 40th. British solider killed in the Iraq/Afghan wars this year was arriving back today. One of the first in 03 was from Ballyfermot/Dublin and the recent 300th. was from County Mayo. The reality is that we don’t know don’t care about British, Iraqi, American Afghani deaths…we live in Western societies disengaged form the wars being waged in our names. This is no coincidence – they have learnt the lessons from Vietnam – how to market and manage wars on the home front. All they want is our silence and sedation and we serve it up in spades not a peep from the church, the campus, youth culture and little beyond the usual opportunism from the left and professional NGO sector. This generation is victim of sophisticated socialisation techniques that we didn’t have to deal with in the ’60′s and ’70′s.

I had woken up that morning in the Catholic Worker hospitality house in Hackney http://www.londoncatholicworker.org with men who had fled from wars and military oppression in the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Algeria, Iran. On the bus to Waterloo Station we passed many monuments to wars and warriors that had built the British empire. As I travelled on the train from Watreloo there were constant security messages about suspicious packages etc. Commuters seemed as disengaged to these alerts as they are to the war in general.

It is our choice to remain awake or asleep to the times we’re in. The state requests us to remain asleep to troop movements through Shannon Airport, the cries from Iraq and Aghnaistan and military familes. Those who continue to resist shake and awake us to our own repsonsibilities of solidarity and resistance Check out www.couragetoresist.org www.witnesstorture.org and www.soaw.org

On the way up on the train I read some feedback from folks I had emailed with requests to help prepare a talk. I’d like to share a couple of them….
Tom Cornel Catholic Worker, Vietnam War draft card burner now pastor reflects on the dillema of Catholic Chaplains in the U.S. enemy. I gave Mgr Alker a copy of this article

http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=11215

Gary MacLennan had written in his email…….

“One of my very favourite speeches and certainly one I would use if I were speaking, is the Roman historian Tacitus’ version of the speech by the leader of the Caledopians just before they went into battle at Mons Gropius against Agricola. Tacitus almost certainly made this up but it is a timeless characterization of war and imperialism. He called the Romans

“Brigands of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder and now they ransack the sea. The wealth of an enemy excites their cupidity, his poverty their lust of power. East and West have failed to glut their maw. They are unique in being as violently tempted to attack the poor as the wealthy. Robbery, butchery, rapine, with false names they call Empire; and they make a wilderness and call it peace. “

Lex Wotten – aboriginal political prisoner

March 18, 2009
Last year,  Aboriginal Elder and Palm Island Councillor was sentenced in Townsville (Queensland, Australia) to 6 years imprisonment.
Lex Wotten was found guilty by an all white jury in Brisbane the previous week.  Lex had been charged with events that followed a pathologist white wash of the 2004 police killing in custody of a local man on Palm Island.  The Queensland government responded to local indignation with the deployment of militarised police, the arrest of several Palm Island reidents and jailing of them in mainland Townsville.
After much protest, the police officer involved in the killing in custody was charged with manslaughter and was acquitted by an all white jury in a Brisbane trial. The police officer was promoted to rank of Inspector in the hi profile/hi tourist enclave Gold Coast receiving $100,000 compensation for his troubles.
Lex Wotten also received an all white jury in Brisbane and was found guilty recently and sentenced last Friday to 6 years imprisonment.
1) Ciaron O’Reilly Article on the Lex Wotton case
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/89726

2) A short history of Palm Island 1914 -1999 from the website of the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action
(FAIRA)
The history of the Queensland Aboriginal reserve system from its foundation in 1898 was characterised by a largely incompetant and dishonest administration which acted with a blatant disregard to basic human rights.
Of the many Aboriginal reserves set up across Queensland, Palm Island in particular gained a reputation as a “punishment place”, a reputation which still lingers today.
Before white invasion in North Queensland, Palm Island belonged to the Manbarra people. Descendants of the Manbarra were still living on the tropical island, 65 km NE. of Townsville, when in 1914 the Queensland Government gazetted the Island as a reserve.
No further action was taken by the Government until 1918 when a cyclone flattened the Hull River Aboriginal Reserve near Tully. The Queensland Protector, J.W. Bleakley, then decided that Palm Island would become the replacement site. He regarded the location as an ideal place to confine Aboriginal and Islander people who were regarded by white society as “problem cases” and “uncontrollables.”
Over the next two decades around 1630 people from 40 different Aboriginal groups across Queensland were removed by the Department and deposited on the Island.
Removal to Palm Island was the heaviest punishment a Department officer could legally administer. In charge of the new reserve settlement was an ex-army captain, Robert Curry, a man with no previous administrative experience.
From the start the settlement was underfinanced, with the residents of the island surviving on meagre rations and living in complete poverty. Leprosy and venereal disease spread through the settlement and the doctors appointed to the island were less than competent in their approach to medicine.
No inspections of Palm Island were made by the Department until the Governor of Queensland, Donald Thatcher visited in 1923 and was critical of the squalid living conditions he observed.
This quickly led to a visit by the Protector, Bleakley but no real improvement in conditions occurred. Administrator Robert Curry continued to feud with the other white staff on the Island. Gradually he succumbed to the combined effects of alcoholism and mental illness and in February 1930 he went on a destructive rampage, killing his own children and torching several buildings before he was shot by one of his own Aboriginal staffers.
As was the case on all Queensland reserves, the residents of Palm Island were subject to strict supervision. Conditions were jail-like. No one could leave the Island without the superintendant’s permission and he had the power to censor all outgoing mail.
Speaking Aboriginal languages was forbidden. Employment opportunities were limited and the wages earned by Aboriginal workers were ‘managed’ and misappropriated by the Department. Despite this high level of enforced control, poor health conditions continued to prevail. In 1957 a series of incidents involving the staff treatment of Aboriginal women and a decision by the Department to cut wages, led to a strike by the residents.
The Department responded by expelling 25 identified ringleaders of the resistance, and their families, from the island. A second strike occurred in 1974 when the Department sacked the local Community Council and threatened to turn control of the Island over to the Townsville City Council.
The Department finally relinquished control of the Island in 1985 when title for the Island was passed to the Community Council in the form of a DOGIT. (Deed of Grant in Trust.)
While this gave the residents a greater say in the administration of the island, the transfer of title led to the removal of much of the Government infrastructure. Soon after the decision was made, barges arrived and houses, shops, the timber mill and farming equipment were disassembled and shipped back to the mainland.
Like many remote communities, Palm Island today continues to grapple with social problems including high unemployment, alcohol abuse and crime, a direct legacy of 80 years of mismanagement by the Queensland Government.
3) Eyewitness of the trial longtime Brisbane activist Ian Curr
The Bush Telegraph site is set up and used a lot by Brisbane activists who came through the late 70′s when civil liberties were sispended for several years and perscution of activists was esclated.  Besides a lot of the unresolved conflicts played out it is a good source of info on the present scene in Queensland, Austraia, where last week Aboriginal Elder Lex Wotten has just been sentenced to six years following the police killing of an aboriginal resident on Palm Island 2004

“Salute” – Speaking Truth to Power at the Olympics- the Price Paid and the Solidarity Forged!

August 26, 2008

“Salute” – Speaking Truth to Power at the Olympics- the Price Paid and the Solidarity Forged!

As Tibet solidarity and other human rights activists are rounded up in Beijing, a designated protest pen is transformed into a trap from where people disappear (77 applications were made to enter this “protest pen” – all have been withdrawn, suspended,”resolved” according to the Chinese state or rejected!), a Chinese girl is ditched from the Olympic Opening Ceremony for not having “the look” to go with the voice, the Party promotes, the corporates profit and prima dona athletes are expected to keep a housebroken silence – one’s mind is cast back to an iconic image from Mexico ’68.

Two black athletes from the U.S. track team, Tommie Smith and John Carlos (Gold and Bronze medalists) on the winners podium, heads bowed, black gloved fists raised in Black Power salute and the Aussie silver medalist Peter Norman between them. Smith explaining at the time as he faced a life time ban for his actions “Yeah, we’re Americans for 10 seconds then we’re just “niggers”!

The film ‘Salute’ http://www.salutethemovie.com/HOME.html by Peter Norman’s nephew Matt, has recently been released in Australia & worldwide, unearthing a dissident memory well buried in Australian sporting history. (Along with the five Wallabies who were banned for life for refusing to play Rugby against the racially selected Springbox in ’71, but that’s another story!)

The Australian Silver medalist, Peter Norman, joined Smith and Carlos protest by borrowing a OPHR (Olympic Project for Human Rights) badge he spotted on Paul Hoffaman, a white member of the U.S. Rowing Team, as he made his way to the winner’s podium. It was Norman who suggested they share the gloves as Carlos had forgotten his at the Olympic Village. This is why Smith is raising his right fist and Carlos his left.

Although running 100 metres & 200 metres qualifying times for the Munich ’72 Olympics, Norman was left out of the ’72 Olympics because of his action on the ’68 podium. As consequence, Australia sent no sprinters to the ’72 Olympics. The only time in its Olympic history.

Peter Norman was then blacklisted and left out of the 2000 Olympic celebrations in Sydney by the Australian Olympic Committee – long memories them OZ bureaucrats! (By the by this is ironic as Sidney Nolan’s “copkiller” Ned Kelly was celebrated in the Opening ceremony and of course “Midnight Oil in a more spontaneous contribution whipped on their “Sorry” t-shirts in the closing ceremony, I digress!) On hearing this the U.S. team invited Norman to join them at the Sydney Olympics! Go figure!

The three men kept quite a strong connection – Peter Norman died of a heart attack in 2006. Smith and Carlos came out to Melbourne to speak at the funeral and carry his coffin. A statue of the incident was unveiled at San Jose University. Norman’s space is left vacant so people can take the stand to take a stand!

Peter Norman’s nephew Matt has performed a greatservice

http://www.salutethemovie.com/HOME.html

*Further background on the symbolism surrounding the Mexico ’68 podium action and Vid Promo for “Salute” (2.26) on link below…

http://blog.beliefnet.com/godspolitics/2008/08/the-olym….html

Nagasaki-Jabiluka Ploughshares Disable Uranium Equipment, 10 Years On!

August 12, 2008

 

Walking through the streets of Dublin, Ireland, after the Paul Kelly’s gig http://www.paulkelly.com.au/ last night, I thought I should write this reflection.

 
 
It was strange to be in a packed Dublin gig of sentimental swaying Aussies 12,000 miles from home, having been raised in a family home of Irish sentimentality in Brisbane, Australia. My father left County Offaly as a teenager to score work in London in ‘45 and then on to Australia on assisted passage in ‘49, intending to spend a couple of years and have a look around. He did not return to his home village Clara for 26 years, bankrolled by the windfall of succes in the Football Pools with his fellow Everton Park posties in ‘75. It was the first time he met his youngest sister born after his departure and now pregnant with her first child.
 
 
My dad never really integrated into mainstream Australia – bursting into song in public places, treating Brsbane as one big Irish village welcoming strangers as friends he hadn’t met and getting us kids to sleep by telling us bedtime stories of his mystical faraway village. His rebel songs put us firmly on the side of the Indians while we watched Westerns on Saturday afternoon tv, made us sympathetic to the aborigines which we caught the occasional glimpse of as we trundled to school through the Fortitude Valley red light district and suspicious of cops. My father had his nose broken by the cops in the ’50’s (”I was talkin’, when I shoulda been listenin!”), my older brother had his nose broken in the ’70’s (a case of mistaken identity as Consorting Squad Detective John Frederich Johnson who had bashed me months earlier in a previous street march thought he was me in a mismatch rematch). I was relieved to get out of the ’90’s with my schnozel still intact. I had sensed a pattern forming!
The street and society I grew up in felt sterile and foreign to the spirituality and home I was fashioned in – devoid of spirituality, welcome and mysticism. The virgin bushland, part of the Ennogera Army Barracks at the end of the street, where we played was sensory overload – the reptiles, the loud strange bush noises, the heat! What was unfolding in Derry and Belfast in my teenage years was much more significant in our home than what was going down in Saigon and Long Tan where the soldier boys from over the back fence were headed. Today the soldier boys, from over the back, deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Years before they killed and died at Gallipoli, from where the Barracks gets its name.
 
 
What Paul Kelly does in lyric and song is to wring the spirituality and pathos from this strange land and the culturally displaced lives lived in it. Among other snippets, we hear of children pretending to be asleep so to earwig on parents intimate conversations, long bus trips to mend broken marriages, revenge fantasies on being dumped, and Aussies who have stayed abroad too long. Kelly’s people came from County Clare in the 1850’s renaming the place they farmed in Victoria after their abandoned County.
 
 
 
 
 
Ten years ago today, we headed up a bush track created by Energy Resources Australia (ERA) into the Jabiluka Mine lease, located in the sparsely populated Northen Territory (N.T.) of Austraia. to disable uranium mining equipment.
 
 
Like today, it was the anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki. We had been partly inspired by the life and conversion of Fr. George Zabelka the Catholic chaplain to the bomb crew that had pulverised Nagasaki on August 9th. 1945, this the oldest Catholic centre in Asia. The predominantly Catholic bomb crew had used the Nagasaki Catholic cathedral as their ground zero target.
Fr. George Zabelka’s slow awakening to his complicity in this historic crime, his growing awareness of its roots in the Constantine shift when the church abandoned is pacifism in the 3rd. century and his two year walk of repentance from the Trident nuclear base at Bangor, Washington, USA to Bethlehem inspired us. Our walk into Jabiluka was a continuation of his walk in the light and the truth. It was a walk into risk responding to the cries of past, present and future victims of uranium mining.
 
 
We were careful to follow the ERA track as we had no guide to avoid trespassing on sacred aboriginal sites. It was the same track that weeks earlier, along with scores of protesters, we had blockaded the early morning shift change at the mine. That early morning blockade was high risk as some enraged miners tried to run us down with their trucks, on arrival the Northern Territory cops came in swinging and throwing blockaders off the track into the bush. The scenes are covered well in the unauthorised documentary “Minds and Energy”. I remember striding furiously down the track with the windscreen wiper in hand of a miner’s truck which tried to run us down. My fury is covered well in the same film as I unleash a speech about the little known (by the then movement and public) Depleted Uranium munitions that had been used extensively in Iraq ‘91. One million rounds unleashed from U.S. A10 Warthogs and 11,000 7lb D.U. shells from U.S. tanks in those short two months. D.U. had left battlefields in Iraq poisoned for years to come, these rounds and shells continue to kill Iraqis and U.S./U.K. military veterans to this day. Since then, D.U. was used extensively by the U.S. military in Serbia. The cutting edge of the Australian anti-uranium movement was largely ignorant of this munition at Jabiluka in ‘98 – 7 years after its initial use.
 
 
As primarily anti-war focused activists, we had been a(n initially celebrated) minority at the large blockade camp 10 miles from the lease. Most of those who mustered for direct nonviolent resistance were young white environmentalists outraged that a second uranium mine in opening in a pristine wilderness World Heritage listed National Park. There were also small numbers of indigenous people willing to confront the mine. The small Mirrar tribe had been browbeaten in the late ’70’s by the federal government and the Uncle Toms of the Northern Land Council to relent and let the huge open cut Ranger Mine go forward. They were taking a courageous stand against further desecration of their ancestral homeland by the new Jabiluka mine. Their elder was to be arrested and incarcerated in Darwin for her resistance.
 
 
Previously, the Hawke Labor Government of the ’80’s had failed with its cynical attempt to brand Jabiluka as “North Ranger” to facilitate its opening under its Labor’s “three mine policy”. In ‘77 the Labor Party ran an election campaign on banning all uranium mining in Australia. On gaining office under the leadership of Bob Hawke in ‘83 they sold out immediately. Initial work on Roxby Downs/South Australia, the largest uranium deposit in the world, continued before the A.L.P. convened to change its policy. The “linited” three mine policy adopted was their attempted compromise with the huge anti-uranium movement of the late ’70’s and ’80’s.
 
 
Many courageous people put themselves on the line at Jabiluka in ‘98. Eco warriors had temprarily stopped trucks moving equipment into the site by locking onto their undercarriages. Others explored “black wallaby” night actions breaking into the site and locking on to equipment. Many were arrested and roughed up while blockading and trespassing. They were hit with multiple hyped up charges – locking on became “car theft” according to the NT cops. There was a broken leg, a broken collar bone and various concussions. One black wallaby affiniity group were placed in a police van, the cops then retreated from the vehicle while the miners conducted a controlled explosion. I wonder if those folks still have Jabiluka ringing in their ears today? Others who were locked on had their hats removed and water poured out by the cops so they would slowly burn and dehydrate.
 
 
By Nagasaki Day, the blockade camp was depressed and defeated not by the cops and the state but by the NGO bureaucrats and aspiring movement politicians. With a Federal election looming, the orders came from Labor Party apparatchiks to deflate the blockade, sideline the issue to – they believed – increase their election chances. The direction was for the nonviolent direct actionists to stand down and make the long journey home. They had served their cannon fodder role to attract initial media attention to provide a platform for the hi drama/low risk taking movement bureaucrats. A deal was made between the blockade leadership and the cops, the old chestnut of white sycophancy wheeled to enforce it and paralyse the resistance.
 
 
The deal was the police would be given prior knowledge of all protests, there would be no incursions into the mine site, climaxing on the eve of that year’s federal election with the police facilitating movement bureaucrats entry into the Jabiru police station to order 100 people to cease noncooperation, admit they all really weren’t “John Howard”, give their real names and accept bail. Their submission was much to the relief of the prison staff in Darwin, where I was by then located, who were anxious about this prospective influx into their system and where they were going to put them! A handful of us had already been a moving and a shaking in the NT jails system drawing attention to the terrible conditions and managing a few reforms.
 
 
Anyways, the deal facilitated an easy entry for the Jabiluka Ploughshares into the mine site on the night of the Nagasaki ‘98 anniversary. The security was lax, they must have felt their task subcontracted out. Convinced that the movement was policing itself, they seemed to be on a long coffee break that night. We cut through the cyclone fence and made our way to a huge excavator, we lifted the lid and cut the internal cables, we spraypainted “Nagasaki”, “Horoshima”, “Chernobyl” and a town in Iraq that had been poisoned by uranium. We climbed on top of the huge excavator, broke the glass of the driver’s cabin reached through and hammered away on the ignition. Uranium mining excavator disabled, we sat in prayer in this beautiful bush night.
 
 
Labor lost the election, we went to Darwin’s Berrimah Jail, then to court, then to jail again, we were slandered by movement bureaucrats http://www.takver.com/history/jabiluka1998.htm. One woman spent a chunk of her PhD slamming us without bothering to interview with us – the low quality of research standards in Australian academe I guess! Time moved on for those who had gathered at Jabiluka some gave up the struggle, some continue, some folks took their lives http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/EngageMedia/news/pip-starr/ , others took office http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=EfM1C168hjY&feature=related to administer today’s Australian
Labor Government’s uranium mining and export policy that looks something like an international car boot sale with the ethics of a smack dealer “if we don’t sell it someone else will!”
 
 
Over 30 years ago (’77), my brother and I headed down to Brisbane’s Hamilton Wharves to blockade a uranium shipment. The consequences of that night, besides the short term aches and pains, were the suspension of civil liberties in the state of Queensland for several years resulting of 3,000+ arrests for exercising free speech, multiple house raids, harassment, frameups, blacklisting, consequent political exile for many and a police force so corrupt they were discovered running a child pornography cottage industry from their Juvenile Aid Bureau. This child porn/cop connection brought them undone, it was a bridge to far. It initiated a chain of events that exposed “The Joke”, launching the “Fitzgerald Inquiry into Police Corruption” which saw the Police Commisioner sentenced to 14 years and five government ministers also jailed.
 
 
Relevant to note where that uranium shipment was bound from Brisbane wharves that ‘77 night. It was bound to Iran where the U.S. was supporting an aggresive nuclear energy program under their despotic Shah. Ironic that we now stand on the precipice of a nuclear strike on Iran on the basis of Iran’s nuclear program we once nourished with Australian uranium. Governments, despots, Shahs and clients don’t last forever – nuclear material pretty much does! Do your best to keep it in the ground.
Don’t get fooled again!
Swords into Plowshares!
As Paul Kelly and an old comrade from the Joh daze (it built character) aboiginal elder Kev Carmody remind us
“From Little Things Big Things Grow!”
 
 

Nagasaki Day – Jabiluka Ploughshares Disable Uranium Mining Equipment, 10 Years On!

August 12, 2008

Walking through the streets of Dublin, Ireland, after the Paul Kelly’s gig http://www.paulkelly.com.au/ last night, I thought I should write this reflection.

It was strange to be in a packed Dublin gig of sentimental swaying Aussies 12,000 miles from home, having been raised in a family home of Irish sentimentality in Brisbane, Australia. My father left County Offaly as a teenager to score work in London in ’45 and then on to Australia on assisted passage in ’49, intending to spend a couple of years and have a look around. He did not return to his home village Clara for 26 years, bankrolled by the windfall of succes in the Football Pools with his fellow Everton Park posties in ’75. It was the first time he met his youngest sister born after his departure and now pregnant with her first child.

My dad never really integrated into mainstream Australia – bursting into song in public places, treating Brsbane as one big Irish village welcoming strangers as friends he hadn’t met and getting us kids to sleep by telling us bedtime stories of his mystical faraway village. His rebel songs put us firmly on the side of the Indians while we watched Westerns on Saturday afternoon tv, made us sympathetic to the aborigines which we caught the occasional glimpse of as we trundled to school through the Fortitude Valley red light district and suspicious of cops. My father had his nose broken by the cops in the ’50′s (“I was talkin’, when I shoulda been listenin!”), my older brother had his nose broken in the ’70′s (a case of mistaken identity as Consorting Squad Detective John Frederich Johnson who had bashed me months earlier in a previous street march thought he was me in a mismatch rematch). I was relieved to get out of the ’90′s with my schnozel still intact. I had sensed a pattern forming!

The street and society I grew up in felt sterile and foreign to the spirituality and home I was fashioned in – devoid of spirituality, welcome and mysticism. The virgin bushland, part of the Ennogera Army Barracks at the end of the street, where we played was sensory overload – the reptiles, the loud strange bush noises, the heat! What was unfolding in Derry and Belfast in my teenage years was much more significant in our home than what was going down in Saigon and Long Tan where the soldier boys from over the back fence were headed. Today the soldier boys, from over the back, deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Years before they killed and died at Gallipoli, from where the Barracks gets its name.

What Paul Kelly does in lyric and song is to wring the spirituality and pathos from this strange land and the culturally displaced lives lived in it. Among other snippets, we hear of children pretending to be asleep so to earwig on parents intimate conversations, long bus trips to mend broken marriages, revenge fantasies on being dumped, and Aussies who have stayed abroad too long. Kelly’s people came from County Clare in the 1850′s renaming the place they farmed in Victoria after their abandoned County.

JABILUKA PLOUGHSHARES TEN YEARS ON!
http://www.plowsharesactions.org/webpages/JABILUKAPLOWS.htm

Ten years ago today, we headed up a bush track created by Energy Resources Australia (ERA) into the Jabiluka Mine lease, located in the sparsely populated Northen Territory (N.T.) of Austraia. to disable uranium mining equipment.

Like today, it was the anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki. We had been partly inspired by the life and conversion of Fr. George Zabelka the Catholic chaplain to the bomb crew that had pulverised Nagasaki on August 9th. 1945, this the oldest Catholic centre in Asia. The predominantly Catholic bomb crew had used the Nagasaki Catholic cathedral as their ground zero target.

Fr. George Zabelka’s slow awakening to his complicity in this historic crime, his growing awareness of its roots in the Constantine shift when the church abandoned is pacifism in the 3rd. century and his two year walk of repentance from the Trident nuclear base at Bangor, Washington, USA to Bethlehem inspired us. Our walk into Jabiluka was a continuation of his walk in the light and the truth. It was a walk into risk responding to the cries of past, present and future victims of uranium mining.

We were careful to follow the ERA track as we had no guide to avoid trespassing on sacred aboriginal sites. It was the same track that weeks earlier, along with scores of protesters, we had blockaded the early morning shift change at the mine. That early morning blockade was high risk as some enraged miners tried to run us down with their trucks, on arrival the Northern Territory cops came in swinging and throwing blockaders off the track into the bush. The scenes are covered well in the unauthorised documentary “Minds and Energy”. I remember striding furiously down the track with the windscreen wiper in hand of a miner’s truck which tried to run us down. My fury is covered well in the same film as I unleash a speech about the little known (by the then movement and public) Depleted Uranium munitions that had been used extensively in Iraq ’91. One million rounds unleashed from U.S. A10 Warthogs and 11,000 7lb D.U. shells from U.S. tanks in those short two months. D.U. had left battlefields in Iraq poisoned for years to come, these rounds and shells continue to kill Iraqis and U.S./U.K. military veterans to this day. Since then, D.U. was used extensively by the U.S. military in Serbia. The cutting edge of the Australian anti-uranium movement was largely ignorant of this munition at Jabiluka in ’98 – 7 years after its initial use.

As primarily anti-war focused activists, we had been a(n initially celebrated) minority at the large blockade camp 10 miles from the lease. Most of those who mustered for direct nonviolent resistance were young white environmentalists outraged that a second uranium mine in opening in a pristine wilderness World Heritage listed National Park. There were also small numbers of indigenous people willing to confront the mine. The small Mirrar tribe had been browbeaten in the late ’70′s by the federal government and the Uncle Toms of the Northern Land Council to relent and let the huge open cut Ranger Mine go forward. They were taking a courageous stand against further desecration of their ancestral homeland by the new Jabiluka mine. Their elder was to be arrested and incarcerated in Darwin for her resistance.

Previously, the Hawke Labor Government of the ’80′s had failed with its cynical attempt to brand Jabiluka as “North Ranger” to facilitate its opening under its Labor’s “three mine policy”. In ’77 the Labor Party ran an election campaign on banning all uranium mining in Australia. On gaining office under the leadership of Bob Hawke in ’83 they sold out immediately. Initial work on Roxby Downs/South Australia, the largest uranium deposit in the world, continued before the A.L.P. convened to change its policy. The “linited” three mine policy adopted was their attempted compromise with the huge anti-uranium movement of the late ’70′s and ’80′s.

Many courageous people put themselves on the line at Jabiluka in ’98. Eco warriors had temprarily stopped trucks moving equipment into the site by locking onto their undercarriages. Others explored “black wallaby” night actions breaking into the site and locking on to equipment. Many were arrested and roughed up while blockading and trespassing. They were hit with multiple hyped up charges – locking on became “car theft” according to the NT cops. There was a broken leg, a broken collar bone and various concussions. One black wallaby affiniity group were placed in a police van, the cops then retreated from the vehicle while the miners conducted a controlled explosion. I wonder if those folks still have Jabiluka ringing in their ears today? Others who were locked on had their hats removed and water poured out by the cops so they would slowly burn and dehydrate.

By Nagasaki Day, the blockade camp was depressed and defeated not by the cops and the state but by the NGO bureaucrats and aspiring movement politicians. With a Federal election looming, the orders came from Labor Party apparatchiks to deflate the blockade, sideline the issue to – they believed – increase their election chances. The direction was for the nonviolent direct actionists to stand down and make the long journey home. They had served their cannon fodder role to attract initial media attention to provide a platform for the hi drama/low risk taking movement bureaucrats. A deal was made between the blockade leadership and the cops, the old chestnut of white sycophancy wheeled to enforce it and paralyse the resistance.

The deal was the police would be given prior knowledge of all protests, there would be no incursions into the mine site, climaxing on the eve of that year’s federal election with the police facilitating movement bureaucrats entry into the Jabiru police station to order 100 people to cease noncooperation, admit they all really weren’t “John Howard”, give their real names and accept bail. Their submission was much to the relief of the prison staff in Darwin, where I was by then located, who were anxious about this prospective influx into their system and where they were going to put them! A handful of us had already been a moving and a shaking in the NT jails system drawing attention to the terrible conditions and managing a few reforms.

Anyways, the deal facilitated an easy entry for the Jabiluka Ploughshares into the mine site on the night of the Nagasaki ’98 anniversary. The security was lax, they must have felt their task subcontracted out. Convinced that the movement was policing itself, they seemed to be on a long coffee break that night. We cut through the cyclone fence and made our way to a huge excavator, we lifted the lid and cut the internal cables, we spraypainted “Nagasaki”, “Horoshima”, “Chernobyl” and a town in Iraq that had been poisoned by uranium. We climbed on top of the huge excavator, broke the glass of the driver’s cabin reached through and hammered away on the ignition. Uranium mining excavator disabled, we sat in prayer in this beautiful bush night.

Labor lost the election, we went to Darwin’s Berrimah Jail, then to court, then to jail again, we were slandered by movement bureaucrats http://www.takver.com/history/jabiluka1998.htm. One woman spent a chunk of her PhD slamming us without bothering to interview with us – the low quality of research standards in Australian academe I guess! Time moved on for those who had gathered at Jabiluka some gave up the struggle, some continue, some folks took their lives http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/passing-pip-starr-apher , others took office http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=EfM1C168hjY&feature=related to administer today’s Austrlian Labor Government’s uranium mining and export policy that looks something like an international car boot sale with the ethics of a smack dealer “if we don’t sell it someone else will!”

Over 30 years ago (’77), my brother and I headed down to Brisbane’s Hamilton Wharves to blockade a uranium shipment. The consequences of that night, besides the short term aches and pains, were the suspension of civil liberties in the state of Queensland for several years resulting of 3,000+ arrests for exercising free speech, multiple house raids, harassment, frameups, blacklisting, consequent political exile for many and a police force so corrupt they were discovered running a child pornography cottage industry from their Juvenile Aid Bureau. This child porn/cop connection brought them undone, it was a bridge to far. It initiated a chain of events that exposed “The Joke”, launching the “Fitzgerald Inquiry into Police Corruption” which saw the Police Commisioner sentenced to 14 years and five government ministers also jailed.

Relevant to note where that uranium shipment was bound from Brisbane wharves that ’77 night. It was bound to Iran where the U.S. was supporting an aggresive nuclear energy program under their despotic Shah. Ironic that we now stand on the precipice of a nuclear strike on Iran on the basis of Iran’s nuclear program we once nourished with Australian uranium. Governments, despots, Shahs and clients don’t last forever – nuclear material pretty much does! Do your best to keep it in the ground.

Don’t get fooled again!
Swords into Plowshares!

As Paul Kelly and an old comrade from the Joh daze (it built character) aboiginal elder Kev Carmody remind us

“From Little Things Big Things Grow!” http://uk.search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A1f4cfN3X51I._cA…rd=r1

Ploughshares Retrieve $7 U.S. Million Hammer from Shannon Gardai in Ireland!

July 31, 2008
* Photos of retrieved ploughshares hammers, youtube, skype interviews, radio interviews more background on the $U.S. 7 million ploughshares hammer and info on Harry Browne’s forthcoming book “Hammered by the Irish – How the Pitstop Ploughshares Disabled a U.S. Navy Plane with Ireland’s Blessing” (www.counterpunch.org ) on the Pitstops on  http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88451


**SHANNON GARDAI RETURN HAMMERS TO ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST

A collection of hammers and other objects that were used to disable a US Navy plane in 2003 were turned over by Shannon gardai to one of the activists who carried out the action.

Veteran anti-war resister Ciaron O’Reilly held a press conference outside Shannon Airport Wednesday July 24th., following the return of hammers used to disable a U.S. Navy war plane at the airport in Feb 03. He brought the hammers and other returned property to the press conference.

O’Reilly was one of the Pitstop Ploughshares group, who along with Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon and Damien Moran were charged with $US 2.5 million criminal damage to a U.S. Navy war plane at Shannon in the build up to the invasion of Iraq. The group were intially imprisoned on remand in Limerick before being put on trial three times at Dublin’s Four Courts. They were eventually acquitted unanimously by a jury at the Four Courts in August 2006. The groups action is the subject of Dublin journalist’s Harry Browne’s forthcoming book “Hammered by the Irish – How the Pitstop Plougshares Disarmed a U.S. War Plane with Ireland’s Blessing!”.

Continued….. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/88451

“Catholic Workers in their Largest Gathering in Recent Times!”

July 21, 2008

Catholic Workers are presently gathering in Worcester, Mass. , USA. The event is being organised by the Mustard Seed community in Worcester. Founding community member, longtime CW, Scott Schaeffer Duffy was in Dublin for the first Pitstop Ploughshares trial in 05. Scott, his family and community are longtime resisters at Raytheon whose headquarters are nearby.

I encourage you to explore this site for photos, speeches (MP3′s) of the 75th. anniversary CW gathering (Worcester, Mass, USA) photos, speechs (MP3′s) etc: http://www.pieandcoffee.org/cw2008

In anyone’s terms, the Catholic Worker is an amazing phenomenon. Many predicted its collapse following the death of it’s founder Dorothy Day in 1980. Instead the movement has grown to 150 communities in the U.S. a dozen in Canada, 3 in OZ/NZ, 8 in Europe and 3 in Mexico see community directory on http://www.catholicworker. org Given it’s decentralised autonomous nature and tolerance for participation by folks who may not be Catholic, anarchist or pacifist the movement has continued with a remarkable coherency of belief and praxis.

The movement was founded by American activist Dorothy Day and French philosopher/ Union Square soap box speaker Peter Maurin in 1933 on the lower east side of New York during the Depression. The Catholic Worker came out as pacifist in WW2 splitting the movement. Scores of young Catholic Worker men were interned as C.O.’s. Catholic Workers were the first to burn their draft cards publicly in the early stages of the Vietnam War. Such Catholic Workers like Tom Cornell speaking at this conference, were sent to jail for 2-3 years. As the Vietnam War escalated the Catholic Worker provided many of the draft board raiders to the nonviolent direct action movement inspired by the priest resister Berrigan brothers. Since the 1980′s Catholic Workers provided many of the activist for the Berrigan inspired plowshares actions http://www.plowsharesactions.org

The Catholic Worker is most well known in the U.S. for its practise of the “acts of mercy” – its soup kitchens, aids hospices, hospitality houses for the homeless and prisoners families, visitation of prisoners and death row inmates etc. The Catholic Worker refuses all state funding – getting by on donations and freegan dumpster diving.

The Catholic Worker has has been a significant landmark in the American anarchist and anti-war movements over the decades. It has been celebrated by variety of Americans – Noam Chomsky, Abbie Hoffman, Martin Sheen, Martin Scorcese, John & Joan Cusack, Michael Harrington, Bishop Gumbleton, Utah Philips etc. Obama likes to quote Dorothy Day which could be a bit of a worry. In the early stages of the Bush presidency, George quoted Dorothy Day at a speech at Notre Dame and was quickly slammed by her daughter Tamar and grandkids. Catholic Workers fear being mainstreamed and the nomination of Dorothy Day (who when alive said “Don’t call me a saint, I don;t want to be dismissed that easily!”) for canonisation has been opposed by many in the movement.

The Catholic Worker has been celebrated in film “Entertaining Angels” starring Martin Sheen, stage recently released “Fool for Christ”, song Utah Philips/ Ani DiFranco “Anarchy”. A recent episode of the TV hit “Wire” was filmed at the Baltimore CW soup kitchen using CW’s as actors. There has been much academic work and movement literature published on the Catholic Worker. The most recent work by Sharon Nepstead on the plowshares actions and Robert Elsberg recent editing of Dorothy Days diaries.

Catholic Worker in Australia
Although preceded by a Catholic Worker paper in Melbourne in the ’30′s, a hospitality/anti-war resistance house in Melbourne and farm at Gladysdale in the ’60′s (both which Dorothy Day visited) – the Catholic Worker has a continued presence coming out of Brisbane since 1982. Brisbane membership were fashioned in  resistance under the authoritarian government of Joh Bjeleke Petersen, with anarchist pacifist politics they opened a hospitality house for homeless aboriginal youth & released prisoners. They played a significant role in resisting Joh, closing Boggo Rd Jail, resisting war preparations, military training at Cunungara of Indonesian troops killing in East Timor & West Papua etc etc.

Most recently resistance to Pine Gap www.pinegap6.org Raytheon Brisbane, Enoggera Base where Oz troops leave for Iraq & Afghanistan and working an organic farm at Daybora. Members were also imprisoned in the United Sates, Aotearoa & Europe for anti-war resistance

Catholic Worker in Ireland
The Catholic Worker arrived in Ireland in an organised fashion with the Pitstop Ploughshares resistance action at Shannon Airport in Feb 03. http://www.peaceontrial.com  Preceeding this there have been about a dozen people in Ireland who have spent time living and working at Catholic Workers in the U.S. – Caoimhe Butterly, Ciaron O’Reilly, Stephen Cummings, Petria Malone, Benny McCabe, Paul O’Connor etc. Thus far the Catholic Worker has failed to take root in Ireland – the jury is still out on why? – and today the Dublin CW is a loose collective that sustains the weekly at anti-war presents at the GPO and meets for prayer & reflection Given the large participation of Irish Americans in the Catholic Worker movement it was assumed that Ireland would be fertile ground, it hasn’t been!

Dublin based journalist Harry Browne addresses some of the reasons why in his forthcoming book “Hammered by the Irish” http://bushtelegrap h.wordpress. com/2008/ 06/13/hammered- …rish/
to be published in the U.S. by Counterpunch http://www.countepunch. org in the next few weeks and in his article http://thedublinrev iew.com/archive/ twentyfive/ browne.html that appeared in the Dublin Review

Once again check out the speeches on this site
http://www.pieandcoffee.org/cw2008


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