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IAF - Irish Anti-imperialist Forum - Anti-Imperialist Forum held in Belfast

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Anti-Imperialist Forum held in Belfast

The Anti-Imperialist Forum organised by Republican Sinn Féin was held in the Conway Mill, Belfast from June 13-15.

International delegates, academics and people from various walks of life joined members of Republican Sinn Féin in debate and discussion.

The Forum opened on Thursday night for the launch of the Seven Signatories Manifesto chaired by Cáit Trainor, Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin (Armagh). Contributions were from Republican Sinn Féin members Damien White, Armagh; Seán Ó Dúbhlain, Iar Mhí and Fergal Moore, Monaghan who drafted the Manifesto. In the run-up to the Centenary of the 1916 Rising, six more pamphlets will be launched, each based on the Signatories of the Proclamation outlining the policies of Republican Sinn Féin.

On Friday morning, June 14, delegates visited the Eileen Hickey Museum in the Conway Mill followed by a white line picket on the Falls Road in support of the Republican POWs in Maghaberry jail which was very well attended.

After lunch the session on ÉIRE NUA / SAOL NUA in the 21st Century was chaired by Pádraig Garvey (Kerry). A lively discussion followed the excellent contributions from Roy Garland, Commentator and Journalist, Belfast; Des Dalton, President of Republican Sinn Féin; Kaan Orhon, Republican Sinn Féin International, Germany/Turkey; Damien White and Seán Ó Dúbhlain.

Experiences from the worldwide Anti-Imperialist Struggle followed, chaired by Dieter Blumenfeld, head of Republican Sinn Féin International. Taking part in that session were Manik Mukherjee, International Anti-Imperialist Coordination Committee and Socialist Unity Centre of India;  Boyen Baleva, National Democratic Front of the Philippines and Rafael Joseph Maramag, International League of Peoples’ Struggle, Philippines/England. Badrul Alam, President and Abu Naser, Vice-President of the Bangladesh Krishok Federation were refused visas to travel to Ireland as was Leonid Savin, a political activist from Russia. Sukriye Akar, representing the Turkish political organisation Halk Cephesi, was stopped by MI5 at Belfast International Airport, arrested and held and questioned for several hours. Her laptop and phone were taken from her and only returned after she had gone through Customs on her way home three days later. She did however address the Forum at a later session where she was warmly received. 

International Solidarity with the Irish Freedom Struggle was a continuation of the International theme and Barry Kearney, James Connolly Association Melbourne Branch, Australia; George Faisan, Liberation Irlande, France; Pádraig MacLiam, Cumann na Saoirse Naísiúnta, USA and Dieter Blumenfeld, RSF International made up the panel. Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais, National Treasurer, Republican Sinn Féin (Dublin) chaired.

Both sessions provided the meeting with information on their various struggles against state repression, and how they related to the Irish struggle for independence.

A very successful function was held in the Orient Bar on Friday at which US singer/songwriter David Rovics performed his unique brand of protest music. A wonderful night.

Saturday, June 15, began with Republican History: The challenge of finding the truth at which  Kevin Bean, University of Liverpool; Seán Ó Coinn, Local Historian, Belfast; Marisa McGlinchey, University of Coventry and Anthony McIntyre, Journalist and Writer and former Republican POW, gave their perspective on a complex issue. Josephine Hayden, Republican Sinn Féin General Secretary, chaired the session.  

Fergal Moore chaired The Flag Protest: Republicanism & Unionism which heard Roy Garland, Commentator & Journalist; Des Dalton, President of Republican Sinn Féin, Kildare and Paul Carson from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) speak about the different perceptions that are ‘out there’ in relation to the treatment of Unionists and Republicans.

Many members attended the Anti-G8 Rally in Belfast City Centre at lunch time which was organised by the Trade Union Movement.

The Anti-imperialist struggle & grass-roots initiatives in Ireland heard from Roger Cole, Chair of Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA); Maura Harrington, Shell to Sea; Bernie Hughes, Finglas Branch of Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) and Martin Duffy, Republican Sinn Féin (Lurgan) representing the Release Martin Corey Campaign, on how their Organisations/campaigns came into being and the impact of their initiatives to date and their plans for the future. The session was chaired by Seán Ó Dúbhlain.

The final session of the Forum was Irish Republicanism in the 21st century, and was chaired by Cáit Trainor. RSF President Des Dalton; Oliver White, Republican Sinn Féin Newry/South Armagh; Pádraig Garvey, Republican Sinn Féin Kerry, Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais, Dublin and Fergal Moore Monaghan outlined their vision for the way forward for Irish Republicanism.  

The Q & A after each session showed how interested people were in what the contributors had to say. So many questions and answers with varying viewpoints ensured lively debate which inevitably led to over-run on time at all sessions!

Furthermore greetings to the IAF 2013 were received from the National Executive of Cumann na Saoirse Naísiúnta, the chairperson of the International League of Pepoples' Struggle, Jose Maria Sison, and from the International Representative of the National Democratic Front pf The Philippines, Luis Jalandon.

Republican Sinn Fein would like to thank the Conway Mill, Belfast for the use of its facilities; the Orient Pub on the Springfield Road for hosting a very successful function on the Friday night and David Rovics for supplying great music and song.  To those who helped in making the Forum possible; to those who took part in the sessions and to those who travelled from various parts of Ireland and a special thanks to those who travelled from abroad.

We would also like to say particular thanks to Roy Garland who offered a Unionist perspective to the Forum. We are grateful to him for such insightful contributions over the two days.

A booklet will be printed within a short time with the submissions made to the Forum which will make for fascinating reading. It will be available from the Head Office at 223, Parnell Street, Dublin 1.