Media freedom has never been so threatened

avril 26th, 2017

A truly free and independent press is a vital component of any healthy democratic society. The need for transparency and for those who wield governmental and corporate power to be held accountable is vital. The annual briefing by Reporters Without Borders, has pointed out that press freedom has never been as threatened as it is now. Based in Paris, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).

In its annual briefing, Reporters Without Borders warned about the dangers of highly concentrated media ownership. Alongside this the rise in surveillance and of authoritarian leaders across the globe is undermining freedoms, the watchdog said, with worrying signs even in established democracies. In the latest Press Freedom Index, Celtic countries that fall within the United Kingdom saw that the UK fell two places to 40th position in the index. Brittany which is included in the results for France saw France at 39th position. Ireland, where concentrated media ownership has been criticised, has fallen five places from ninth to 14th. Countries with large numbers of those with Celtic descent include the USA, which is positioned at (43rd), Canada (22nd), Australia (19th) and New Zealand (13th). 

Nordic countries Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark occupy the first four places in the Press Freedom Index in that order. However, the report makes disturbing reading and states that: ‘Media freedom has never been so threatened and RSF’s “global indicator” has never been so high (3872). This measure of the overall level of media freedom constraints and violations worldwide has risen 14% in the span of five years. In the past year, nearly two thirds (62.2%) of the countries measured have registered a deterioration in their situation, while the number of countries where the media freedom situation was “good” or “fairly good” fell by 2.3%’.

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Joint demonstrations planned for sick Basque political prisoner

avril 24th, 2017

Breton news site 7seizh reports that there will be further demonstrations in support of the terminally ill Basque political prisoner Oier Gomez on 26th April.

Joint demonstrations will take place in Bayonne and Gastiez. On that day the Appeal Court in Paris will consider his release on medical grounds and events at the two venues will go on all day until the result of the Court is known:

“Ce mercredi 26 avril, Bagoaz appelle à une journée de mobilisation à Bayonne et Gasteiz en faveur d’Oier Gomez. Ce mercredi-là, la cour d’appel de Paris examinera la demande de mise en liberté déposée par le détenu dont le pronostic vital est engagé. Demande dans le cadre de trois mandats d’arrêt européens acceptées par les autorités judiciaires françaises.

“La décision de la cour viendra en complément de celle prise par le tribunal d’application des peines de Paris deux jours avant, le lundi 24 avril. Ce dernier rendra sa décision sur une première procédure, sa demande de suspension de peine. Lors de l’audience, le procureur ne s’était pas opposé à celle-ci.”

Full story at this link:

http://7seizh.info/…/pays-basque-journee-de-soutien-oier-g…/

Image: An earlier demonstration organised by Bagoaz in Bayonne.

BERNARD MOFFATT

pp Celtic League.

23/04/17

 

 
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Breizh: action over failure to progress road signs initiative

avril 24th, 2017

(UN MILITANT D’AI’TA! CONVOQUÉ PAR LES FORCES DE L’ORDRE POUR DÉMONTAGE DE PANNEAUX SUR LES VOIES EXPRESS – 7siezh link below)

The Breton language action group Ai’ta! is stepping up its campaign over the failure of the French National Roads Authority DIRO to place bi-lingual signage in Brittany

Ai’ta! has previously undertaken a number of road sign actions in the country and today called its supporters to a protest in front of the Gendarmerie de Ploudalmézeau in support of one of the group summoned to appear there by police.

An agreement on signage was reached over in 2015 and Ai’ta! say the State is failing to honour it and discrimination against the Breton language continues.

Finally than a year after this signing, with no discussions initiated between Brittany and the DIRO (Interdepartmental Directorate of Roads West) to determine how to progress the issue Ai’ta! organised a symbolic action in January by dismantling some French monolingual panels along the motorway.

Links:

http://aita.bzh/…/un-militant-daita-convoque-par-les-force…/

http://aita.bzh/…/letat-continue-ses-efforts-pour-effacer-…/

BERNARD MOFFATT

pp Celtic League.

22/04/17

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French colonialism a recipe for disaster

avril 24th, 2017

(Guyane : déclaration commune des organisations indépendantistes de Corse, Bretagne, Pays Catalans, Pays Basque)

Several European independence groups have joined a call the week for the people of the French colony of Guyana to be given independence. The call coincides with the ongoing French presidential elections.

The groups say that current poverty in the French colony is caused by the absence of decision making sovereignty.

The group including Corsicans, Basques, Bretons and Catalans confirm their support for and solidarity with the Guyanese people who they say , like all peoples under French rule, have the right freely to decide in favour of another institutional, political, economic, social, linguistic and environmental model.

“Nous affirmons notre disponibilité pour toute campagne de solidarité avec le peuple Guyanais qui comme tous les peuples sous domination française a le droit de librement se déterminer en faveur d’un autre modèle institutionnel, politique, économique, sociale, linguistique et environnemental.

“Organisations signataires le 20 avril 2017 : Pays Catalans : CUP Perpinya – Corse : Corsica Libera, A Manca – Pays Basque : Sortu – Bretagne : La Gauche Indépendantiste (Bretagne en Luttes/Breizh O Stourm)”

BERNARD MOFFATT

pp Celtic League.

22/04/17

 

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The destructive power of the super trawler

avril 24th, 2017

I have documented at length the impact of industrial fishing from Senegal in West Africa to Scandinavia.

Large trawlers literally vacuum the fish sticks in these areas and some of them have the capacity to process hundreds of tonnes of fish per day – they are in effect floating factories.

There impact on local communities that have made a living in some instances for centuries by managing fish stocks have been well publicised not least in the Irish documentary ‘Atlantic’ which outlines the hardship now being faced by some small fishing communities in Western Ireland and Northern Europe.

I recently came across this article in 7seizh which highlights a similar problem for sea bass fishermen in Brittany and is in the form of a letter/appeal to fish processors.

The large trawlers whose path we have tracked over the past few years aggressively target fish in the Channel area between Cornwall and Brittany and it seems their destructive impact of not allowing stocks to regenerate is being felt:

“L’association des ligneurs de la Pointe de Bretagne impose à ses adhérents depuis de nombreuses années un repos biologique entre février et mars. En plus de diminuer la pression de pêche sur l’année, ce repos permet de laisser le poisson se reproduire durant la saison cruciale de la reproduction.

“Malheureusement, c’est durant cette période que le bar est particulièrement vulnérable car il se regroupe pour frayer et se laisse capturer en quantités astronomiques par des gros chalutiers ou fileyeurs. Ces derniers ont littéralement mis à sac les populations de bar en Manche, poussant les ligneurs de la zone à sortir de la pêcherie ou à carrément quitter le métier de pêcheur. En plus d’être une pratique de pêche intolérable, perturbant le frai du poisson, surexploitant une espèce fragile, le poisson qu’ils mettent ensuite sur le marché est de qualité désastreuse et est vendu à un prix ridiculement faible, moins de 40% du prix que nous, nous en retirons.2

Full article in 7seizh at this link:

http://7seizh.info/…/maritime-ligneurs-de-pointe-de-bretag…/

Image: Sea bass on the fishmongers slab but for how long?

BERNARD MOFFATT

pp Celtic League.

23/04/17

 

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Food parcels for our poor neighbours

avril 24th, 2017

Secretary of the Scottish branch of the Celtic League, Iain Ramsay writes that it is time for Scotland to ‘cut ourselves loose from a sinking ship’:

Teresa May should be thanked, for her pointing out, that England needs Scotland’s Exports. How did she do this, simple, by saying that 48 per cent of our trade is to England. Are you saying Teresa that you buy all this food and other goods because you think we are nice guys? No Mrs May, you buy the stuff because you need it, and would struggle without it. This is best illustrated by going back to the last war, when underpopulated Scotland, sent millions of tons of beef, and agricultural products to feed overpopulated England. Even neutral Ireland, also exported a large proportion of her agricultural products to keep England from being starved out, which Herr Hitler was hell bent in doing.

Recently I pointed this out, of all places, in a Tory Club, whilst visiting relatives in England. The Tories answer was, well we paid for the goods. No one said you didn’t, I replied, but Scotland had to suffer a totally unnecessary strict rationing, designed for England’s problems, and to the detriment of Scotland’s.priorities. Lets face it, Per head of population, Scotland is the wealthiest of these seven nations of those Islands, with the geographic term Britain. Scotland being underpopulated exports food, England in contrast is overpopulated, and must Import food by the ton.

I said to my Tory friend, that we are still awaiting a simple thank you, but instead we get Tory insults like the recent subsidy junkies outburst, which brings to mind the old saying, that they bite the hand that feeds them. They stole our oil Bonanza to bolster their poor performance economy, and have just handed out five new licence’s for three new fields. Which with the present oil price rise, will be back up there, to when they were collecting £155 per second, We Scots need all this wealth for our own future generations, and we haven’t mentioned Whisky where we have more lying in vat, than there is gold in their bank of England. No wonder they are holding on to us like grim death, Despite our food parcels England is broke, so why don’t we wise up, and cut ourselves loose from a sinking ship, no point of going down with her.

Submitted by Iain Ramsay 21/04/17

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Department of the Gaeltacht Occupied by MISNEACH

avril 14th, 2017

News from Irish Branch of the Celtic League:

Members of the radical Irish language group MISNEACH occupied the Department of the Gaeltacht on Kildare Street, Dublin on 12th April. After figures published in the census last week revealed a dramatic fall in the number of daily speakers of Irish in the Gaeltacht between 2011-2016 the group is demanding a fundamental shift in the approach of the State to our national language.

Referring to the fall in numbers, a spokesperson for MISNEACH said:

“The complete disinterest in the fate of the Irish language by those in power is evidenced by these latest figures published by the Central Statistics Office. The figures are the inevitable consequence of years of austerity which placed the interests of the ultra-rich ahead of those of the ordinary person, and which destroyed the social fabric of the country, particularly in the Gaeltacht where communities have been decimated by unemployment, emigration and neglect from 2008 onwards.
The Irish Government and the Department of the Gaeltacht ought to be ashamed of the manner in which it has abandoned the Gaeltacht for so many years. It is clear that as the social, economic, linguistic and communal emergency deepens in the Gaeltacht, politicians and civil servants seek to absolve themselves of any responsibility.

For the last number of years MISNEACH have been active in organising social events, protests, music festivals and public talks. Recently we mounted a campaign which saw members of the public send letters to the Department of the Gaeltacht lodging their complaint that the recently appointed General Secretary was not proficient enough in Irish to deal with Irish speakers.”
The spokesperson continued:

“The budgets of Údarás na Gaeltachta and the Department of the Gaeltacht were slashed by almost 75% between 2008-15. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the Language Commissioner recently accused the State of contributing to the decline of Irish in the Gaeltacht. Minister Kyne is disingenuous in the extreme in attempting to sing the praises of the 20 Year Strategy. Even if the strategy were correctly applied at this late stage, it does not have the linguistic element necessary to rescue the Gaeltacht from the dire situation which it is in.

Recent comprehensive studies have revealed the extent of the language crisis in the Gaeltacht and have urged a complete overhaul of policy and substantial investment in order to maintain these communities. Despite this, since the introduction of the Gaeltacht Act in 2012 the State is demanding that Gaeltacht communities develop their own language plans, yet at the same time refuse to provide the adequate resources necessary to complete these processes. The mealy mouthed announcement of additional funding by the minister in recent days will not address this crisis when the 75% reduction in funding to the Údarás since 2008 is considered.

We in MISNEACH demand much greater resource allocation than this and a return to the budget level of 2008 for the Údarás, as has occurred in the cases of both the IDA and Enterprise Ireland. Moreover, we demand that the government cease neglecting Gaeltacht and Irish language issues and take effective action immediately to ensure the future of the Gaeltacht.”

MISNEACH believes that if the Irish speaking community and their allies do not fight back at this critical juncture, it will be too late for the language in its core communities.
The spokesperson concluded:

“We call on all Irish language and community groups around the country to unite together and take a robust stand for the Gaeltacht and for the Irish language. We are strongly of the opinion that the strides made by the Dream Dearg in the north need to be emulated in the south and a similar broad front group established to tackle this crisis.”

The occupation was resisted by security staff, Gardaí were called and the protesters ejected. They then continued the protest outside.

Statement issued on behalf of the Irish Branch of the Celtic League

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Horses put down after military jets incident

avril 14th, 2017

‘Low flying military aircraft…does not just cause death or injury to the animals but also can lead to the deaths of horse riders’.

A number of horses had to be put down following an incident involving low flying United States Air Force jets in Cornwall (see link):

http://www.cornwalllive.com/…/story-30270897-det…/story.html

The Celtic League as part of its military monitoring for any years campaigned against the dangers caused by low flying military aircraft and helicopters. Indeed the CL campaign was itself derived from the local initiative in the Isle of Man by the Anti-Militarist Alliance (AMA) in the 1970s directed at operations around the Jurby Sea bombing range off the NW of the Isle of Man. The campaign resulted in an extension to the sea bombing range (now closed) being withdrawn and also a prohibition of low flying – below 2000 feet – over the land area of the Isle of Man by military jets (outside of the area controlled by Ronaldsway ATC).

Horses and other livestock are particularly prone to being spooked by low flying military aircraft which does not just cause death or injury to the animals but also can lead to the deaths of horse riders. Indeed the Celtic League logged a number of such fatalities in Wales, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire some years ago.

About a decade ago the Celtic League liaised with the owner of an equestrian centre in Scotland who was suing the MOD after putting up with low flying incidents for years that had injured up to a dozen horses (link):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/…/scotl…/south_of_scotland/7440307.stm

We also supported calls from the Farmers Union of Wales for action over the issue a decade ago (link):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_west/5340382.stm

Both SW Scotland and mid Wales are areas where low flying is allowed at altitudes as low as 100 feet

The Cornish incident is the first serious event for several years although coincidentally social media reports on the Isle of Man referred recently to low flying by military aircraft. In the latter case its unclear if the aircraft were involved in an exercise (a weapons facility is still in use at Luce bay Scotland) or were the aircraft on test from the BAe plant at Warton on the Lancs coast.

Image: Military low flying area. Areas 20T (SW Scotland) and 7T (mid Wales) flying occurs down to 100 feet. The area of Cornwall involved in the latest incident is designated for low flying helicopters so in the circumstances the US jets seem to have breached guidelines. The area over and around the Isle of Man is a regulated or avoidance zone.

BERNARD MOFFATT
pp Celtic League Military Monitoring.

TEL: 01624 877918 or 07624 491609

14/04/17

THE CELTIC LEAGUE

The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries including our own Mannin branch. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues

The link for the main web pages is below:

http://celticleague.net

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Isle of Man & money laundering – ‘must try harder’!

avril 12th, 2017

News from Mannin Branch of the Celtic League:

‘An offshore finance sector which you are dependent on is ‘like trying to hold a wolf by the ears you can neither hold it nor safely let it go’.

Although getting on a bit now my memories of schooldays (both primary and secondary) are still with me and not unpleasant. I was not particularly brilliant academically only scraping a handful of GCEs. However the teaching reports were always – I recall – reasonably positive in both the early years and later. I suppose teachers have to have aspiration and hope for the collective of children they gaze upon daily who they are trying to help get a first foot on life’s ladder.

‘Try’s hard’ or ‘Must try harder’ are two of the observations that cropped up regularly in my reports.

Last week the New York Times published a critique on the Isle of Man and other offshore jurisdictions in relation to money laundering and financial crime (link):

https://www.nytimes.com/…/offshore-money-bane-of-democracy.…

As a nationalist opposed to the use of the Island has a conduit for money laundering for five decades I was tempted to simply re-publish the story as indeed some social media sites have done.

However then I recalled the Council of Europe Moneyval report which was produced earlier this year and with respect to the New York Times a paper I’ve great regard for I thought Moneyval might produce a more accurate and up to date ‘school report’ on the Island and its unhealthy involvement with global money.

As with all Council of Europe reports this is an in depth assessment – here’s the link:

http://www.coe.int/…/MONEYVAL(2016)25_5thR_MER_Isle%20of%20…

As I worked my way through it I couldn’t help comparing it to those old school reports of mine. Certainly it seems with its legislative programme, its Financial Intelligence Unit and its Financial Crime Unit the Isle of Man seem to be ‘trying hard’ if a tad unsuccessfully.

The overall assessment was disappointing and you are left with the impression that the Islands financial regulatory institutions are being told they ‘must try harder’.

In the end you have to accept the inevitability of things and I accepted I wasn’t going to be a ‘rocket scientist’ or a ‘nuclear physicist’.

I wonder if after five decades as a offshore centre and innumerable attempts at financial regulation the Isle of Man should also accept that it’s never going to be ‘a centre of financial excellence’ and choose a more modest path.

After all successive governments have ‘tried hard’. The first Cannan introduced early meaningful attempts at financial regulation after the lawless years of the first two decades. Since for over thirty years ago successive Treasury Ministers up to the present Cannan have continued the work of trying without success to curb ‘this beast’.

Surely its time to realise that retaining an offshore finance sector which you are so dependent on is ‘like trying to hold a wolf by the ears you can neither hold it nor safely let it go’.

In an earlier New York Times article Oliver Bullough lampooned the idea that the tax havens benefit hugely from the monies ‘routed there’. He said they would if that were the case be some of ‘the richest places on earth’.

Writing about the Isle of Man he said that if even only ‘a fraction’ of stolen money stayed on the Isle of Man ‘the place would not be the dour, grey lump of rock that it is’.

Bullough went on:

‘Offshore jurisdictions are only pipelines, conduits, entrepôts. Money pours through them, but it does not stay, except for the fraction that pays the lawyers and the accountants who handle the deals — the plumbers who keep the system running.

If you’ve gone to the trouble of stealing millions of dollars, you want to keep them somewhere more secure… You want the money in Manhattan, Zurich or London. You want it somewhere with excellent hospitals, top-ranking schools, A-list celebrities and world-class events. You want it somewhere you can enjoy yourself’.

BERNARD MOFFATT
Public Relations Officer Mannin Branch

Issued by: The Mannin branch of the Celtic League.

10/04/17

 

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Sinn Féin accuse Fianna Fáil of U-turn in moving towards Fine Gael position on water charges

avril 12th, 2017

Sinn Féin, the Irish republican political party has accused Fianna Fáil of a U-turn and shifting back to the Fine Gael position on the issue of water charges. A report by an Oireachtas committee on domestic water charges has made its final recommendations after a number of last minute changes were made. The last-minute alterations included re-introducing a measure to install meters in all new builds and the inclusion of “excess use” levies.  In the end Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were the only parties to join forces to back the report at the Joint Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services. While Sinn Féin, Labour, Solidarity, the Green Party and two Independent deputies opposed it. They refused to accept the report’s final recommendations, but the report was passed by 13 votes to seven.

The report goes to the Dáil for debate before a vote in the House. Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen defended their decision to side with Fine Gael on the issue and said: “The report agreed today is essentially the same report that was agreed over a week ago and provides for a fair system where those who abuse our water service are financially penalised, but water charges for 92 per cent of the population have been eliminated.” However, there were sharp exchanges between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald in the Dáil over the water charges issue. Sinn Féin have a policy to abolish domestic water-charges, not to pursue arrears for these charges and support the retention of water services and infrastructure in public ownership. The Sinn Féin TD said the Taoiseach had no respect for the people who had marched in their “tens of thousands” against water charges. She accused the Government of keeping a privatisation plan for Irish Water in place. 

Attacking both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, she said Tuesday’s report had been cobbled together and confirmed the parties’ confidence and supply agreement was really a deal for “connivance and cute-hoorism”. She said a deal had been on the verge of being made but Fianna Fail engaged in a “spectacular u-turn” on water charges that showed they could not be trusted. Mary Lou McDonald described what had been seen “is a text book example of parliament, of the Dáil, of elected representatives conniving to abandon their democratic mandate and rather than seeking to represent the people, seeking to face the people down.”

Submitted by Eibhlin O’Neill and issued by Alastair Kneale 12/04/17
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