What does the defeat of the “Euro Sausage” by the “Great British Sausage” say about Brexit?


Ronan L Tynan

When Jim Hacker the feather light-weight minister needed some kind of public policy victory to underline his suitability to become British Prime Minister, in the final episode of ‘Yes Minister’, what better way to achieve that than by appearing to defeat the dreaded European bureaucrats? And what better issue upon which to prove his credentials as a defender of British sovereignty than by standing up for the integrity of the “Great British Sausage”?  Pandering to a deeply ingrained perception in the UK that the European Union is constantly coming up with daft ideas that cost and or irritate the British public the plot was based on an attempt by EU Commissioner Maurice to create a standard “Euro Sausage”. However, the problem of course was easily solved by negotiations with Commissioner Maurice that secured the survival of the unique British Sausage. But rather than announce that Hacker pretended to have a show down with the Commissioner, appearing like Wellington at Waterloo trouncing an unlikely Napoleon, and in securing victory milked its PR value to burnish his standing for the top job.

I was reminded of that final episode of Yes Minister listening to Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling MP when he said nothing would or need change if the UK left the EU. Of course Grayling is wrong and the battle over the “Great British Sausage” shows why in a compelling way. This is because in all of the debates about Brexit the real reason the UK could face very real economic damage if the British people vote to leave the EU is because of what are euphemistically called non-tariff barriers. More specifically leaving would mean no influence or real ability to resist regulatory changes that could seriously damage UK businesses and producers. At present, as Minister and ultimately Prime Minister Hacker showed the UK knows how to get its way on trade matters with Brussels. But a much better example to show how Britain knows how to use EU regulatory machinery to protect British jobs was provided when the Commission published a plan to set the maximum decibel level for lawnmowers.

This caused outrage in the UK. How dare the EU tell Britain what noise level her lawn mowers should emit. Ministers initially even called for an enquiry when door stepped by a notoriously eurosceptic media. Then the news broke – shock, horror and indeed dismay! Not only had the then Sir Humphrey and his fellow top mandarins in Whitehall agreed to that EU Directive, they had actually drafted it and carefully steered it through the Commission bureaucracy.

But why? How could they even think up such a regulatory idea? Whitehall mandarins doing to the British public what only evil, power grabbing Eurocrats are supposed to spend their every waking moment doing?

To protect British jobs of course!

Germany decided to virtually ban sound coming out of her lawnmowers to ensure the peace of German gardeners, a policy that would have put UK manufacturers out of business. Sir Humphrey et al easily beat the Germans hands down by simply getting the EU to set the decibel for European lawnmowers at a level that would ensure UK lawnmower makers continue to prosper protecting jobs.

But the key point of that story is what Germany actually did was create a non-tariff barrier. However, the UK was inside the EU tent as one of the big three and almost effortlessly dealt with that problem.

So when a member of the UK government like the Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling says nothing will change if Britain leaves the EU he is not just utterly wrong, but appears to give the impression he is detached from the reality of the way trade machinery actually works?

Even if the UK could get a status quo deal with the EU like Norway – paying the same contribution as now and accepting EU migrants – but without access to influence trade regulations it is very easy to see how quickly British businesses and jobs would be put at risk. Trade is dynamic. The regulatory processes are changing all the time. Worse still those regulatory regimes are often highly complex and if you are not around the table you simply cannot remain competitive in terms of meeting standards if you have no power to help set them.

So influencing regulations if the UK leaves the EU will be very problematic. But imagine what it will be like in negotiations with the US and China – both economies far larger than Britain and better able to dictate terms. Remember the EU as the richest and biggest market in the world gets very advantageous trade deals because if has so much to offer especially 500 million consumers. In other words, acting alone the UK will be in an almost frightening position with no bargaining leverage compared to the EU – hence Obama’s “bottom of the queue” remark which was not meant to be insulting but a statement of fact! When you consider that the UK does three and a half times more trade with the EU than the United States, and ten times more with the EU than China British businesses are essentially stuck (and many happily so) with the EU as their largest market. No surprise really as it is the biggest and richest in the world.

So Jim Hacker’s bid for Prime Minister in defeating EU attempts to regulate the “Great British Sausage” offers a sobering reminder just how powerless the UK would be to protect British businesses and jobs outside the European Union…….?

Ronan L Tynan

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

Ronan L Tynan is an award winning documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Esperanza Productions – http://www.esperanza.ie.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Will I be next?” Hong Kongers ask as China shows no sign of halting abductions and releasing publishers


Ronan L Tynan

Many Hong Kongers must be asking themselves – “will I be next?”- after five workers in a local publishing house Mighty Current were systematically kidnapped over the last three months beginning with one of the joint owners Gui Minhai, a Swedish passport holder, who was abducted at his holiday home in Thailand. Three workers followed including general manager Lui Bo and two colleagues Cheung Jiping and Lam Wing-ke kidnapped at different times when they went to visit family on the mainland. Then Paul Lee or Lee Bo, a British passport holder, and the other joint owner of the firm was abducted in Hong Kong and bundled across the border. This means two EU citizens are amongst the five kidnapped by Xi Jinping’s security police, and with no sign they will be released soon the European Union must threaten sanctions against China?

These abductions must be urgently addressed because if the EU allows Xi Jinping to normalise China’s version of “extraordinary rendition” anyone who dares to criticise Xi Jinping and his CCP is at risk, and not only Chinese citizens?  Especially as two of the five are Swedish and UK passport holders!

These kidnappings also illustrate why we know very little about the  fundamentals of the Chinese economy when it is so clearly under stress, with no one taking GDP figures seriously and general acceptance that almost all statistics are massaged to make the Chinese Communist Party or CCP look good. Meanwhile, governments around the world are trying to work out how to cope if there is a major China crash without access to reliable information. Therefore censorship in China not only poses a threat to the Chinese people it also poses a risk to our freedom of expression, and even our prosperity…?

When I first read about the kidnapping of 5 people at Hong Kong’s Mighty Current publishing house by Chinese security agents I thought of Ai Weiwei who in spite of his considerable fame outside China was made to ‘disappear’ and it took sometime before the authorities even owned up to having abducted him. Being made to ‘disappear’ is becoming ever more common as Xi Jinping’s ruthless crack down on dissent continues. However, under the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement under which Hong Kong formally became part of China again in 1997 when the UK relinquished control, abductions and disappearances are not supposed to happen. In fact, Hong Kongers enjoy  political rights and freedom of expression unimaginable on mainland China. So is Xi reasserting sovereignty in complete contravention of the “one country, two systems” agreement?

After the “new relationship” inaugurated by Prime Minister Cameron and Chancellor Osbourne with President Xi in London recently the idea that a British citizen could be snatched off the streets of Hong Kong and bundled off to the mainland was thought inconceivable? However, it seems that Cameron and Osbourne in not raising human rights with their Chinese guest we must ask did they effectively normalise Xi’s brutal crackdown and set the scene for the abductions in Hong Kong?

While attempts last week in Beijing by UK Foreign Secretary Hammond to raise Lee Bo’s abduction are welcome, it is clear that his representations are not taken seriously because even at his joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi the latter appeared to confirm Bo is being held by China while officially refusing to confirm that is the case. Wang said: “… based on the basic law of Hong Kong and China’s nationality law, the person in question is first and foremost a Chinese citizen.
“It is not necessary for anyone to make groundless speculations.”

In other words, mind your own business?

The only problem is that of the five two hold foreign passports – Lee Bo as noted is a UK passport holder, and Gui Minhai, holds a Swedish passport and was kidnapped in Thailand in October – the first to go missing. This means it is harder for Xi Jinxing’s government to cover up these abductions because like it or not governments must make representations to seek to protect their citizens.

The Chinese Communist Party’s record on human rights was brought sharply into focus in London also during Xi’s state visit when Shao Jiang, a student leader during the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, protested in front of his limousine at gross human rights abuses. His personal demonstration was a reminder of what happened in 1989 when so many thousands all across China were murdered – and not only on Tiananmen Square – when the CCP brutally crushed that peaceful uprising.

Cameron and Osbourne also had no excuse in not raising rights abuses with Xi as he has been running that ruthless crack down for some time with many human rights lawyers and journalists ‘disappeared’ or in prison, with the most publicised cases that of journalist Gao Yu 71 and human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. Both are now free having served time in prison simply for doing their jobs, but it is worth noting that Gao became very ill in custody denied proper health care, and was at risk of dying, and Pu is no longer allowed to practise as a lawyer and is still under a form of almost supervised house arrest. Therefore as Xi Jinping continues his ruthless crack down against journalists and lawyers, and indeed anyone not towing the Party line on the mainland is it any surprise the abductions have caused real alarm in HongKong? Especially as it appears the “One Country, Two Systems” policy which is supposed to guarantee their human rights and freedom of expression is in the process of being repudiated in a very disturbing manner?

Respect for human rights in China is important to everyone, and not only the Chinese people, because she has become such a powerful country. The failure of Cameron and Osbourne to even raise human rights abuses effectively normalises brutality and abuse of power. Other dictatorships and authoritarian regimes take comfort in China’s ability to apparently get away with ease with these gross abuses. However, these abductions in Hong Kong are a new and very dangerous precedent and represent a kind of “extraordinary rendition with Chinese characteristics”. The US was embarrassed into dropping rendition as policy, unless we manage to make China do the same the world will indeed become an even more dangerous place for anyone who does not adhere to the Party line.

Ronan L Tynan

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

Web:  www.esperanza.ie



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Roseanne Barr’s salvo on Twitter shows how blind faith in Netanyahu creating ‘Apartheid State of Israel’

Ronan L Tynan

Unprovoked salvo I received from Roseanne Barr……


My reply – polite and to the point? – and Roseanne blocked me………


And my reflection on our brief exchange:

“Look it up toad” – you could imagine the well known comedian Roseanne Barr screaming  in a sitcom. But when she directed such fire at me on Twitter for simply praising the remarkable courage of a young Palestinian girl in seeking to overcome loosing her legs in Netanyahu’s murderous assault on Gaza it was not so funny!

Mind you it did bring forcefully home to me she is a member of that misinformed community in the United States who believe Israel can do no wrong. However, it is equally clear that people like Ms. Barr in defending Netanyahu’s warcrimes are boltering an increasingly racist political culture that is turning Israel relentlessly into an apartheid state. A case made in the Guardian in very convincing terms by none other than two of Israel’s most distinguished former diplomats Alon Liel and Ilan Baruch (September 9, 2015).

Indeed, the article was alarming because it was written by two distinguished Israelis who have spent their whole lives defending Israel. So when they write that the advocates of peace, equality and democracy “have been horribly dispirited of late” every so called friend of Israel should take notice? And it is worth quoting at length the source of some of that depression – what they describe as “a period of real bleakness:”

“Forced evictions of Palestinian farmers from their land in the Jordan Valley and from the Hebron district – to make room for more settlements – clashes between settlers and soldiers, the burning of a church, the stabbing of a 16-year-old girl at the Jerusalem gay pride parade, and the murder of 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, along with his father and mother, as a result of a deliberate arson attack by extremist settlers in the Palestinian village of Duma”

The article was written prior to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to London, and presumably to press Prime Minister Cameron to impress on Netanyahu the urgency of reviving peace talks and moving swiftly towards the only formula that guarantees Israel’s future – the Two State Solution. In particular, they urged Cameron to formally – and swiftly – recognise Palestine as a sovereign state. Cameron of course did no such thing. Like Roseanne Barr he offered what looked like blind support, which Liel and Baruch clearly indicate is the reason we are now “racing towards a single Israeli-Palestinian state that will end up as the apartheid state of Israel.”

Ronan L Tynan

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

Web:  www.esperanza.ie
The full text can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/09/british-palestine-sovereign-state-netanyahu-israel

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Netanyahu crying wolf helped push the US into Iraq war – will he be allowed do the same over the Iran Nuclear Deal?


People everywhere, especially in the United States, have a right to be reminded just how irresponsible Prime Minister Netanyahu has been in crying wolf for the last three decades about Iran, especially when he attacks the historic agreement just negotiated with the Iranians to eliminate even the possibility they could build their own nuclear weapons.  Close examination of Netanyahu’s record literally vaporises his credibility. Raviv Drucker writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on March 8, 2015 reviewed that record which is a must read for anyone vulnerable to Netanyahu’s rhetoric about the Iran Deal.

1992: Netanyahu said with doom laden hyperbole Iran would have a nuclear bomb within three to five years. That is 23 years ago and they still don’t have the bomb!

1993: Netanyahu once again made another of his doom laden predictions extending by a years the date by which the Iranians would finally acquire a nuclear bomb to 1999. That prediction appeared in Yedioth Ahronoth the Hebrew language daily as an opinion piece, and like all of his other predictions it was very embarrassingly wide of the mark.

1996: July to be precise and freshly installed as Israel’s new prime minister addressing a joint session of the US Congress, Netanyahu said Iran was busy building an atomic bomb with “worrisome speed.”

2002: As a “worried citizen” Netanyahu appeared before the US Congress and played a starring role in unleashing the dogs of war on Iraq, delivering what amounted to a knife in the chest to the American people offering “evidence” of Iraqi weapons programs that was not just wrong, but outrageously false! He claimed that there was “no doubt” Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program and was so advanced he said that Hussein had centrifuges the size of “washing machines.” Worse still he was even more creative in claiming knowledge of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons – which as we now know they did not have! Finally, in arguing the case for war with Iraq he claimed it would have a positive effect on the entire region and lead to the fall of Iran….!  As we now know it destabilised the entire region and led to the rise of ISIS.

2013: Netanyahu said the Interim Agreement with Iran was the ‘deal of the century’ and predicted the sanctions regime would quickly fall – which it did not, a fact Drucker pointed out even Israel now concedes. He also said Iran would not keep to the agreement which it did.

Against that background, US Senators and Members of the House of Representatives relying on Netanyahu as a primary witness against the Iran deal are not just betraying the American people, they are also letting people down everywhere who care about world peace.

Ronan L Tynan

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

Web:     http://www.esperanza.ie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Israel’s humiliation of the Palestinians risks opening the door to ISIS in Gaza and the West Bank – Abdel Bari Atwan

Ronan L Tynan

Israel’s failure to make peace with the Palestinians risked opening the door to ISIS or Islamic State in Gaza and the West Bank the well known Middle East commentator and journalist Abdel Bari Atwan warned this week at Chatham House responding to a question I put to him about Netanyahu’s rejection of the ‘two state solution’ at a meeting about ‘ISIS: Marketing Terror.’  This is because for years a so called peace process has only served to engender a deep sense of frustration and humiliation. A process made all the worse of course by Israel’s refusal to talk to Hamas. However, this is consistent with Israel’s past strategy because in seeking to destroy and undermine Yasser Arafat’s PLO in previous decades they allowed Hamas to emerge. The same process is now unfolding, except this time Israel is at risk of creating an opening for ISIS, and if that happens it will inevitably unleash a relentless war with a very formidable force that also threatens the EU and the US.

Oliver Miles former British Ambassador to Libya and head of the Foreign Office department responsible for the Middle East explained in unambiguous terms how Israel undermined any prospect of peace from Mrs Thatcher’s time writing in the Telegraph: “When I was head of the Foreign Office department dealing with the Palestinians in the early 1980s, Mrs Thatcher’s ministers, influenced by Washington which was influenced by Israel, were forbidden to talk to the PLO. This in turn prevented them from contributing seriously to the “land for peace” settlement (now called “the two state solution”) that at that time seemed a realistic basis for compromise and peace. By the time the ban was relaxed, it was too late.” Miles also warned without being explicit: “Failure to engage with Hamas as well as Mr Abbas’s Fatah may lead to the rise of more extreme players than either of them – and the result will be yet more unnecessary wars.”

However, as Abdel Bari Atwan warned this week there is now more than a real risk ISIS could emerge in Gaza and the West Bank. This follows on from US Secretary of State John Kerry’s warning last year that without a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians the ability to forge the kind of coalition resolve necessary to defeat ISIS would be problematic. Indeed, Kerry’s speech at a reception in the State Department was remarkable in the way he persuasively and very explicitly made that link based on his direct experience seeking support from Middle East leaders to build a coalition to defeat ISIS: “As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the coalition…there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that …. And people need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity…” No surprise that Secretary of State Kerry and Abdel Bari Atwan both used the word ‘humiliation’ to describe the impact of what Israel is inflicting on the Palestinians that offers such an opening to ISIS?

The time is long overdue to stop Israel behaving like the West’s ISIS after its third murderous assault on Gaza in six years, with the last attack having all the hallmarks of a premeditated war against civilians with more than 570 children killed by the Israelis – many in their own homes. The latter needless to add prima facie evidence of warcrimes. Netanyahu and his government are behaving as if ISIS does not exist. Israel’s brutality towards the Palestinians in the form of what amounts to an apartheid style occupation in the West Bank and its notorious eight year siege of Gaza is unsustainable, especially in the context of growing radicalization which Netanyahu’s government is very actively fomenting. As Professor Yossi Mekelberg also reminded us this week Netanyahu secured re-election as prime minister through the politics of fear and deception resorting to infamous racist language – “Arab voters are heading the polling stations in droves.” Racism, xenophobia and a refusal to talks to the Palestinians will not bring peace. Against that background the case for BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions to change the Netanyahu mind set and that shared by his colleagues has never been more compelling?

Ronan L Tynan

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

Web: esperanza.ie

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Magna Carta Moment: Gao Yu and the LSE taking money from the Chinese government

Ronan L Tynan

The Magna Carta has come to represent the rule of law, curbs on state power and the civil liberties and human rights we enjoy today. But Wednesday night (June 10, 2015) at the launch of a book that touched on that historical legacy by Prof. Francesca Klug, (‘A Magna Carta for All Humanity’) I was reminded that a considerable struggle took place to secure them in the first instance. Indeed, on June 15, 1215 the “rebel” Barons extracted from the tyrannical King John agreement to the Magna Carta at virtual “gun point,” and the ongoing battle to maintain our rights even in democratic societies is one that requires constant vigilance – the attempt to repeal the Human Rights Act in Britain but one example.

At the book launch – which took place in the London School of Economics I was struck by a tremendous sense of complacency, or maybe more correctly an apparent lack of awareness of what it takes to defend human rights, especially in situations where there are no institutions available to secure their enforcement – as applies say in China. I had China on my mind because under President Xi Jinping’s very harsh crack down on freedom of expression Gao Yu 71, a grandmother in poor health and one of the country’s most courageous journalists was given seven years in prison just for doing her job. I had also just read journalist John Sweeney’s letter to the London Review of Books in which he warned about the risks to freedom of expressions of British universities taking money from the Chinese government – citing the £863,537.91 the London School of Economics got from President Xi’s government to establish a Confucius Institute. Against that background, I asked Prof. Klug in the Q & A session about the importance of activism, especially in cases where pressure is needed to secure the release of people like Gao Yu, who have no other means to secure their release? And in that context, I enquired if she thought it appropriate for the LSE to be taking money from the Chinese government when it is locking up courageous journalists like Gao Yu? I was quite taken aback by Prof Klug’s reply when she said she agreed with me; would have to refer my question to higher authority as she was retiring; and if I remember correctly would also be taking to the “barricades!” in her retirement.

President Xi Jinping’s government sentenced Gao Yu to seven years for allegedly leaking what can probably now be described as the Chinese Communist Party’s implicit rejection of everything the Magna Carta represents, and which has come to be known rather crudely as ‘Document No 9’. However, there is no doubt Gao Yu did not leak it, not least because no evidence was produced at her “trial”; and in alleging it was a “state secret” the Chinese government only served to underline the absurdity of the case against her. This is because the document was so widely distributed by the time she was charged it would have had the status of a best seller if it had been commercially published.

Document No. 9 was a very widely circulated internal CCP document that warned members against the dangers of even allowing discussions of what it determined as the seven evils and included such taboo issues as universal values, human rights, press freedom, constitutional democracy, “historical nihilism” (the Chinese Communist Party’s past mistakes – seriously!), all of which are perceived to represent an existential threat to the Party’s survival. In short, Document No. 9 specifically repudiates everything the Magna Carta might be said to symbolically represent and a key part of President Xi’s bid to restore the “purity” of the Party’s dictatorship.

But should the London School for Economics, or any others universities, that subscribe to academic independence and freedom of expression be taking money from the Chinese government, especially at a time when it is vigorously engaged in a campaign to suppress those values as illustrated by the imprisonment of journalist Gao Yu, and indeed Nobel Laureate and writer Liu Xiaobo?

Ronan L Tynan

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

Web: esperanza.ie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Veteran Chinese Journalist & Grandmother Gao Yu 71 Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison – Her Crime: Journalism

gaoyu 2012

Ronan L Tynan

Today is World Press Freedom Day and after filming an interview about 71 year old veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu with her friend Shao Jiang, a human rights defender and Beijing Student Leader in 1989, we have no doubt this remarkable woman must rank as one of the most courageous journalists of our time. Sentenced to a third terms in prison, this time for seven years, for her outstanding persistence as a journalist in seeking to report in the public’s interest on the authoritarian Chinese government, there can be no doubt she worked to the highest standards and paid a very high price for her professionalism and dedication.

However, President Xi Jinping in seeking to silence her has reminded the world that his government poses a threat to press freedom everywhere, because if he is allowed to lock up one of the China’s best journalists, and also a grandmother and in very poor health, we allow him to normalise the idea that journalists are expendable, that our first line of defense in defending our human and civil rights can be swept aside with impunity. In defense of journalists everywhere, and not just in China, we must secure the release of Gao Yu because if we fail to do so we put our own liberty at risk, especially the way our own governments are falling over themselves to secure trade deals with China.

As filmmakers and journalists we decided to make this documentary to get that message across, that Gao Yu’s fight for freedom is our fight as well. If our governments fail to make her freedom as a journalist an absolute priority we allow them to begin to see our journalists and our freedom of expression as less than the urgent and absolute rights they must always be seen.

In this brief post I also wanted to underline the urgency of securing Gao Yu release because she is in very bad health, and as Shao Jiang emphasised to us today, she will not get adequate health care in her Chinese prison. He cited the well known recent case of the human rights lawyer and ‘citizen journalist’ Cao Shunli who died because she did not get the health care she needed when imprisoned by the Chinese government for her very courageous human rights work. Indeed, one report was quite unequivocal in outlining her mistreatment noting that “signs of her mistreatment during approximately five and half months in detention” were apparent on her body.

One way you can help is by getting on to your local public representative and ask her or him to urgently make contact with the Chinese Ambassador to demand the release of Gao Yu. Or better still perhaps contacting Amnesty International or similar organisation to help organise a public event to draw attention to her plight and embarrass the Chinese government over their incredible inhumanity in locking up one of their bravest and most distinguished journalists.

Ronan L Tynan

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

Web: http://www.esperanza.ie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Disallowed Question Exposes West’s Self-Imposed Blind Spot in Battle Against ISIS – Israel Palestinian Conflict

Ronan L Tynan:

I got a very valuable tutorial recently at London’s Chatham House, (Monday, March 2, 2015) at a meeting about ‘Digital Jihad’, as to why the West seems to be fighting an uphill battle against ISIS or Islamic State, especially in failing to stem the number of young people who continue to seek to join in their brutal and gruesome campaign. However, it was not so much what was said that proved so insightful, although the presentations were excellent as you can see from my Twitter feed, but rather the ruling out of a question about what US Secretary of State John Kerry said about the importance we should attach to peace between Israel and the Palestinians in countering ISIS, that proved so telling, and to be honest bizarre?

I asked the offending question and chairperson BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner said “we are not going to go there”. However, Frank in refusing a question about the importance of the Israel Palestinian conflict in the radicalisation process exposed, I would argue, a dangerous self-imposed blind spot in the battle against ISIS. Indeed, John Kerry paid a price for trying to shine a light on that very point, in a speech at the State Department last October, being roundly attacked and misrepresented by pro Israeli groups in the United States.

What reminded me of Kerry’s words and provoked my question was an excellent presentation by Lord Carlile of King’s College, in which he spoke about the importance of confronting ISIS online, and presenting a strong counter narative in terms of our ideas and propaganda to defeat their ideas and propaganda. Indeed, while I did not get an answer from the podium to my question, in speaking with Lord Carlile afterwards he unwittingly almost propelled me to draft this blog post because he made what was for me the profound, if obvious, observation that the Israel Palestinian conflict is indeed very “symbolic.” Citing Northern Ireland he reminded me that some in the two communities there are very overtly engaged with the conflict, with Nationalists identifying with the Palestinians, and some Loyalists with the Israelis, and Palestinian and Israeli flags flying in their respective areas. However, if it is “symbolic” for Nationalists and Loyalists in Northern Ireland imagine what it must represent for many, especially say young Muslims not only in the UK, but across Europe and the Arab World?

Against that background it will be easy to appreciate why John Kerry’s words resonated with me which were based on his direct experience on a visit to the Middle East seeking support to defeat ISIS: “….there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt – and I see a lot of heads nodding – they had to respond to. And people need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity,..” Kerry was speaking at a reception in honour of Eid al-Adha at the State Department in Washington, which may help explain why he observed so many heads nodding as he uttered those words, in the sense that his audience might more acutely appreciate just how emotive that conflict is.

However, from the point of view of any discussion about radicalisation, and the reasons why ISIS are able to recruit young Muslims in the UK and elsewhere, surely to ignore the potential significance of the Israel Palestinian conflict, especially after the brutal attack on Gaza last summer that saw so many civilians killed, especially children in their own homes is not just bizarre, it is dangerous? Kerry in fairness put it well: we have to understand the “connection” which ISIS are exploiting, because it “has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity.”

In the battle of ideas against ISIS, the pursuit of a just peace, and the ending of Israel’s illegal occupation, and the well documented human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories surely has a role to play? I would obvously argue we should pursue that policy because it is the right thing to do. But in fairness, if one is to have a comprehesive discussions about the roots of radicalisation surely one cannot ignore the role of the Israel Palestinian conflict? Ronan L Tynan Twitter: @RonanLTynan Web: http://www.esperanza.ie

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We are angry with Europe” not doing enough to help solve the Israel Palestinian conflict – AB Yehoshua, Israeli Novelist as MEPs appeal for suspension of EU-Israel Association Agreement

Ronan L Tynan

Leading Israeli novelist AB Yehoshua appeals to the European Union to become active and help put real pressure to bring about the long awaited ‘2 State Solution’ to end the Israel Palestinian conflict. Speaking on BBC Newsnight Yehoshua said Israel’s peace movement are angry with the EU not doing enough, as everyone knows it is much more complicated for the United States to play a decisive role.

Meanwhile, a number of MEPs from all of the major parties in the European Parliament have written to the EU Commission calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association agreement unless Israel makes urgent moves to stop her war crimes and gross human rights abuses which are in clear violation of Article 2. The 63 MEPs reminded the Commission that already 300 human rights groups, trade unions and political parties have requested the suspension of the Association Agreement, noting that Amnesty International and Palestinian organisations have documented that Israel targeted civilians and committed war crimes in its recent murderous assault on Gaza, and that these are “serious violations of international law and international humanitarian law that cannot be tolerated.”

Welcoming the fact the EU has “rightly condemned” Israel’s construction of illegal settlements the MEPs noted that such condemnation has had no impact on Israeli policy. The MEPs also said that various UN bodies, including the Human Rights Council, have repeatedly condemned Israel’s violations of international law. At the same time, Article 2 of the Association Agreement is quite unambiguous stating that relations between the EU and Israel must “be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles”.  However, EU inaction the MEPs argue sends Israel a very clear message – violations of Article 2 will be tolerated.

Urging the Commission to take strong action to support a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians the MEPs demand at the very least that steps are taken to ensure that the EU and its member states meet their legal obligation, as set out in the 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice, not to render recognition, aid or assistance to Israeli violations of international law, including by imposing restrictive measures on trade and economic relations that facilitate the ongoing existence and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.”

Inaction by the European Commission make all of us as European citizens complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. All the more serious, as AB Yehoshua maintains because we are only fooling ourselves if we think the United States will bring pressure on Israel. This means the EU now has an historic opportunity to make a difference for peace using the Association Agreement, and the failure of Netanyahu and his government to comply with its human rights provisions.

Ronan L Tynan

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

web: http://www.esperanza.ie

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vicky McELLIGOTT – “A force of nature” RIP: Anne Daly’s Tribute to a Very Inspiring Woman

Anne Daly reflects on the life of an inspiring woman who made a difference:  “Vicky was a force of nature in Ballymun,” this was how Fr. Eamon Sheridan her local Parish Priest summed up the life of the late great Vicky Mc Elligott who died earlier this week. At her funeral mass held in St Joseph’s parish church I had expected to shed a lot of tears but instead I left uplifted as the life of this amazing mother of 8, and a very dynamic community activist was celebrated in story, samba music and much humour as she would have wanted. I knew exactly what Eamonn Sheridan meant when he described Vicky as a “force of nature.” A description of her that resonated with the hundreds of friends and family mourners who packed the church to overflowing – a real tribute to some one who “lived the radical gospel and brought it to life” in Fr Eamon’s words.

I became friends with Vicky when I was invited by Fr. Noel Kearns in the mid 1990s to join the then Columban Youth Project – and now the Poppintree Youth Project – which he had just set up with the local community primarily to help the youth of the parish. Vicky was very active in organising that project and it has made a great difference in the lives of many young people over the years. However, the local institution in which she was most actively involved was BACA – The Ballymun Animal Caring Association, and became very well known as the public voice of part of that initiative the Ballymun Horse Owners Association. The association worked with local people to maintain what Vicky believed was an important part of Dublin working class culture. In an interview with a Ballymun local paper in 1999 she said:“There have been horses in this area for 18 years. They are kept at an old derelict Workmen’s Club which was converted into stables where the horses are well looked after. However, there is a need for a more permanent facility where the horses can be made available for the wider community and training provided in caring for the animals.”  Over the years she turned that statement into reality helping to raise considerable funds and securing the building of very impressive facilities.

Vicky was drawn always to the underdog, especially the young offenders and would regularly visit them in prison. This helps to explain her commitment to the horse project which she saw as a valuable outlet for them.

Vicky was a fearless community campaigner and always spoke her mind. At our board meetings at the Poppintree Youth Project she would question everything, and had a razor eye for detail, especially in regard to any decisions that could or might affect the vulnerable and marginalised. However, when those meeting ended we would often remain chatting with other board members, including Eileen Adams and Mary Couch, laughing for hours as Vicky regaled us with her many stories. One I recall was the thrill she got from learning to drive. I remember her describe in a childlike fashion the sense of freedom she said she experienced in getting those wheels and being able to go where she wanted. At her funeral service her son Christy said the “family never saw her once she learned to drive.”

I got to know Vicky very well for the first time when on behalf of Esperanza Productions I invited her in 1999 to come to Tanzania for the filming of our documentary film Are We So Different. That trip was described by one of sons at her funeral as “life changing.” What amazed Director and Co-Producer Ronan Tynan and myself was her innate ability to engage with Tanzanians during what involved a 1,200 kilometer trip between the capital Dar es Salaam and Arusha. The aim of the film was to facilitate an exchange between Tanzanian and Irish women to discover if the outcome of a major UN conference would make any difference to their lives. Outside Dar es Salaam on one occasion I recall her rage at seeing women stone breakers working in a local quarry for an absolute pittance, in the intense heat which was very obviously disastrous for their health. Her encounter with some Maasai Warriors was one of the high points of our trip, and I always remember fondly how to her delight one of them invited her to dance outside our hotel in Arusha.

As the Victorian horse drawn Hearse, which was preceded by a group of young Ballymun outriders on horse back escorted Vicky on her final journey to Glasnevin Crematorium, I was overcome with a sense of the passing of a truly great human being who made a real difference for her family, her community and so many of the people she came into contact with throughout her life.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.


Twitter: @AnneDaly19                                  Web:     http://www.esperanza.ie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment