Monday, 20 August 2018

Finding Comfort


To protect my energy, must learn drugs and alcohol do not mix
That it's ok to go back to sleep, it's ok to leave phone of the hook,
It's ok to let go of the past, ir's ok to refuse permission
It's ok to take the key and let it run, follow wildflowers of the heart,
Refuse to judge one self, toss away the shame of guilt and fear
Raise my voice and speak out, disobey their rules, their standards,
Abandon labels, refuse to be characterised, release an inner scream
To protect myself from life's surprises, I have poems in my palms,
That help me chase away the darkness, escape from fragmented prison
Even when slightly crazy, can change all my phases,
In love with music too, can find rhythms to guide me
Feel freedom blowing in the wind , allow me to breathe deeper,
Fight harder, become stronger, as I wash the dirt from my skin
All the avenues of healing lie within,  helping break down all walls,
Finding the unknown of possibility, pathways of change
Remembering that on life's battlefield, the future remains unwritten.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Benjamin Zephaniah - Revolutionary Minds



Just got latest  timely cd from pioneering dub poet ,Rastafarian and fervent campaigner for social justice issues Benjamin Zephaniah through the post entitled Revolutionary Minds his first foray into music for over a decade. It actually was released last year, but have only just managed to get a copy. It really is a tour de force,  essential listening for the times we live in, a solid piece of creativity that drives on home messages of hope, liberation, economic and political corruption rampant racism, fascist patriarchy in this world of struggle and desperation.
Zephaniah is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls "street politics". His poetry, books and plays have captivated hearts and minds, fuelling imaginations and winning him a legion of fans all over the world.Though his music is lesser known than his written work it is no less fervent. Created alongside his accomplished producer and collaborator The Sea, 'Revolutionary Minds' album is a deep selection of dub-reggae juggernauts, the essence and style of which fully reinforce the messages projected through Zephaniah's powerful lyrics and strong righteous rhymes it really paints a picture of  the world we live in right now.
The first track Earth Liberation Sound gets the ball rolling, as Benjamin speaks on civil odedience and the impact it has had in the past and the present,with  presence of a youthful  voice chanting  about revolutionary minds.


The following track Revolutionary Minds  is essentially the heart of the record, speaking on issues such as "women shall not be property" and "no one shall be judged by the color of their skin." in which the actor Matt Damon reads the words of the late American historian and activist Howard Zinn. "The problem is not civil disobedience, the problem is civil obedience."


 The next track President is a strong message aimed at the presidents of the world, describing the outcome of their hostile laws and policies.It is abundently clear who Sephaniah has foremost in mind when he unleashes his anger "Dear Mister President, you suck presidentially. Just run, run  as slowy as you can, and take your arms trade with you."

 
More Animal Writes speaks about the environment we live  amidst corrupt cops and their arbitrariness.
Cool Piece speaks about the conditions affecting women through violence and the impact of street life.
In the  song 'In This World, he makes it perfectly clear that most dangerous thingin the world is not beinga revolutionary, but it is in our passivity;"We live in a world where they say we communicate more, but.the world stayed silent when the slave trade was making money, the world stayed silent when the Nazis started to kill trade unionists, people with disabilities, homosexuals, left-handed people and Jews, and now in the age of the global village and  mass communications, the world is staying silent as the Palestinians are annihiliated."


In the poem What Srephen Lawrence Has Taught Us, originally witten in 1999. the artist reminds his listeners of the death of the young British man who was mudered in 1993.https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2012/01/benjamin-zephaniah-b150858-what-stephen.html This case unveiled institutanised racism in Britain and questioned the judicial practice of double jeapordy with regard to murder cases. With incidents  of police violence still happening, it reminds us that we are still witnessing a never-ending tragic cycle. Almost 25 years later his murder reminds us that we live in a world where freedom and justice are not rights that can be taken for granted.

 

One of the greatest poets of his generation, who has  published 24 books,  he still delivers and packs a mighty punch with his  profound truth, who still manages to hold his heart on his sleeves. Revolutionary Minds is the soundtrack to the modern revolutionist, that will make you feel empowered, hopeful, galvanised to make a difference and get up and dance,whilst helping us mash down babylon. Try and get hold of it if you can, you will not be disappointed.The CD is accompanied by a 12 page booklet of Zephaniah's intensely conscious lyrics, allowing for his work to be read as poetry in addition to being enjoyed as songs.
At a seemingly tumultuous and divisive period in our society, 'Revolutionary Minds' revitalises the neglected art of the protest song. By reviving this discipline at this particular point in time, Zephaniah shines a critical light on to a range of activity that currently is taking place around the globe, providing a strong voice to the disenfranchised and displaced. One can listen or buy a copy here ;-;https://benjaminzephaniah.com/ 
His autobiography  The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah is also out  now, which is a truly extraordinary life story which celebrates the power of poetry and the importance of pushing boundaries with the arts. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Rhymes-Benjamin-Zephaniah-Autobiography/dp/1471168921


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Friday, 17 August 2018

Aretha Louise Franklin ( 24/3/42 - 16/8/18) - Respect, Rest in Power


Aretha Franklin who passed away  in Detroit, Michigan aged 76 on Thursday from pancreatic cancer  was a soul freedom fighter, musical legend an all encompassing guiding light, icon for feminism, a social justice pioneer and trail blazing activist for the civil rights movement. Born and raised in the segregation era to preacher and civil rights activist Clarence L. Franklin, who helped organise the 1963 Detroit Walk to freedom, ahead of his good friend Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr's March on Washington, her own mother was herself an accomplished pianist and singer, who died when Aretha was ten years of age, it was  just after her death that Aretha  began singing gospel music in her local church.
In 1967 she released "Respect" which became an anthem for the racial and gendered political movements of the time, something that was not lost on her, who said of the song in her memoit Aretha; From These Roots : " It reflected the need of a nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher - everyone wanted respect."Franklin wrote. It would become one of the battle cries of the civil rights movement,and would take on monumental significance.
Franklin would also make pint of putting into her contract that she would never perform before racially segregated audiences. Her activism went beyond the lyrics of her songs, as she applied her wealth and platform to help fund many social  justice campaigns.
A clear example of her commitmentto civil rights was when she offered bail to recolutionary activist Angela Davis in 1970, after Davis, a member of the Communist Party, was accussed  of aasiting in a courtroom takeover that ended in  four deaths. In an interview at the time she advocates not only for Davis, but for black liberation.
" Angela Davis must go free." Franklin aid. "Black people will be free. I've been locked up 9 for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can't get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I'm going to set her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she's a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people - they've made me financially able to have it - and I want to use it in ways that will help our people."
A fierce musical talent not only in sensitive and dynamic vocal  interpretation but also as a skilled pianist and arranger, who used her voice to advocate for racial equality,that enabled us to believe in the possible,that can empower us  to create some kind of lasting change in the world. Even long after the civil rights era, Franklin was very much invested in the modern social justice movements for equality, including Black Lives Matter.
Aretha Franklin demanded and deserves respect from all of us, because of this I believe that alongside her many great artistic and cultural achievements, it will be forever given. Her integrity and her music will live on and we  will always love her. As she once said "We all require and want respect , man or woman, black or white,. It's our basic human right. " Aretha Franklin continues to  leave behind a legacy that has touched the lives of many, and will continue to inspire. many more to come. May she rest in power.

Aretha Franklin - Respect


Thursday, 16 August 2018

Charles Bukowski ( 16/8/20 -29/3/94) - Death


Henry Charles Bukowski,   the quintessential bard of the barroom and the brothel, a direct descendant of the Romantic visionaries who worshiped at the altar of personal excess, violence and madness was born 78 years ago today..In my eyes he was simply a genius, of understated emotion. I owe him a lot of debt and gratitude, his writing  still continues to influence, and he is one of the main reasons I attempt to write myself. This post inspired by him  are simply some old words of mine regurgitated.
Born  in Andernach, Germany in 1926,as Heinrich Karl Bukowski, ,his father was a member of the U.S Army that remained in Germany, after WW1, and his mother bought him to the United States at the age of two, Bukowski wasa slight child with a poor complexion,who was often bullied by his peers and beaten by his father,who believed in a heavy hand when correcting his child's faults. He began writing at  a young age, and was first published in the 1940's, he would spend the next 20 years,working in a series of menial jobs, while immersing himself in the world of booze and hard living. His life perhaps, is not one you would want to emulate, but his insistence on being himself , and then using that to his advantage is a quality worth borrowing.
At the age of 49, after years of heavy drinking and debauchery, he struck a deal with Black Sparrow Press that allowed him to quit a work ethic that he was not comfortable with, in a post office, to focus full time on his writing. The result was over 30 poetry collections, 6 novels and two feature films based on his life and works, making him one of the most prolific writers of the 20th Century.
In novels and short-story collections like "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" (1969), "Post Office" (1971), "Factotum" (1975) and "Ham on Rye" (1982), Bukowski relied on an alter ego named Henry Chinaski, a down-and-out writer with a fierce dedication to women, drink, gambling and failure.
Mr. Bukowski wrote the screenplay for Barbet Schroeder's "Barfly," in which Mickey Rourke portrayed the poet in his younger days.
His work was marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships, failure, depression, gambling, life and death, and drinking and more drinking. He was a poet who wrote without pretence, privilege or sheen, embracing what so many of us try to avoid. He was heavily influenced by the geography and atmosphere of his home city of Los Angeles, and all the senses that he witnessed and devoured. He once said in a magazine interview that he began drinking at 13 to dull the pain of being beaten continually by his father
He lived alongside  his words, alongside the margins of societies edge, with the down and outs, the wrecked, the outsiders, the hopelessly abandoned, the walking wounded. Beyond the literary schools, his work emerged  to break all traditional rules, against all that is conventional, beautifully sinful, uncompromising, but  never hypocritically  righteous, releasing poetry of such passion that I believe still matters today. Utilising free verse and spontanaeity, despite the idolation that was bestowed  upon him, he joined no clichés, refusing acceptance  into any literary community, in true essence of his rebellious spirit.
Blunt and outspoken,he was not concerned with anything beyond what he was, and he didn't need you to agree with him, he saw the ugliness of the earth, and was not afraid to express his ways of seeing. Remembered because of the rawness and roughness and the many manifestations of ugliness that he saw in life, I try not to forget, the beauty and tenderness that he shared too. In simple language, he simply used the inner rhythm of his voice, to release what I have realised to be a form of magic, no cleverness or pretence disguised, just a raw undiluted life affirming truth , filled with his brutal honesty.
He died in  San Pedro, California on March 29, 1994 at the age of seventy-three, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp, but his spirit and his words of pain and laughter live on, speaking a universal truth. His posthumous work has been almost as prolific as the work published in his lifetime, at least 24 volumes of his poetry, nonfiction has been published  since his death alone,and no one can assume there are more works out there waiting to see the light.
Going against the grain is a battle, and it's not an easy one to win, in the end we all face death,few have captured the complex dilemma than he did,  he once said " We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are terrorised and flattened  by trivialities, we are eating up by nothing "So today I raise a sweet cold glass of beer to my lips in his honor,  cheers Mr Bukowski. Happy birthday.

There's nothing to mourn  about death any more than there is to morn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on  fucking , movies, family fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. Thy look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it, Most people;s deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die" - Charles Bukowski

 















Charles Bukowski - Death 

Look he said 
You’ve got spider traps all along this wall 
It’s fascinating
He was outside my door peering at the stucco wall 
I said come on in
He said no way and he got a twig and found some ants 
And he said Bukowski I’m going to make this ant run the gauntlet 
The phone rang and I answered the phone
And while I was talking and listening he said
Bukowski he said he got away from the first spider 
Now the second one is out and he’s got the ant by the rear legs 
Listen Linda I said
I’ve got a visitor and also my toilets stopped and the shit is coming up through the tub 
Bukowski he said
Now the spider is throwing a net over him 
He’s weaving around and around 
Now he’s moving in Bukowski
Now he’s got him
DEATH! 
The landlord came in
It will take a little while to clear it up he said
He was talking about the shit 
Alright I said
Linda I said 
Shit and death is everywhere
I’ll call you back she said 
Now I’ve got a spider said my visitor 
And I’m giving him to the ants 
I walked outside 
For Christ’s sake kid will you stop playing this spider ant game
Lets go for a ride 
the landlord gets very nervous when he plays with the plumbing
Look he said
The ants are chopping the spider’s legs off one by one
Good strategy I said 
let’s go 
We drove down to norms and had breakfast
My friend commented continually on humanity
He didn’t think they were much
I didn’t argue 
My friend was a great admirer of earnest Hemmingway
I drove him to Hollywood and Normandy and let him out 
When I got back the shit was still in the tub
I didn’t want to take a bath anyway

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Repossession


I believe in the many not the few
for all brothers and sisters to live in love
beyond  rising tides of  hate and envy
a world being painted darker still
by forces of fascism and intolerance
as we stand on the precipice
of a rumbling volcano
that heeds not the plea of humanity,
we are akin now to a flock of sheep
heading forth to danger
without a shepherd to guide
but with careful navigation
beyond the ignorance of our ways
we can find safer pastures to graze
follow peaceful rivers - unafraid,
forces of negation do not dissapear
if we simply ignore them
torrents of  poisonous tongue
keep releasing deep from bedrock
swastika eyes  now roaming the land
lets keep growing with compassion
in unison expel streams of division.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The Great London Dock Strike of 1889


Detail from SS , Heritage Mural, designed and painted  by Frank Creber and his sons 

The Great London Dock Strike is widely acknowledged as a key event in the development of the modern trade union and labour movement in  this country. Following on from earlier strikes by match girls and gas workers, the dock strike signalled a remarkable new era of leadership and organisation  in the working classes, contributing to, among other things, the formation of the Labour Party in 1900.
The lives of the dockers and many others in the dock side communities at the time were marked by crushing poverty, disease, squalor and horrendous living and working conditions. This against a background of growing trade unionism among unskilled workers, who had become increasingly dissatisfied with their lot.
On August 12, 1889, at .7.30am, Will Thorne, fresh from his part in negotiating a deal to bring in the eight hour day for gas workers across the capital, following a strike at the Beckton Gasworks, spoke at the South Dock gates of the West India Docks in a meeting organised by Will Harris who worked on the tugs at the Albert Docks.Working class Socialist leader Ben Tillett, a docker himself, joined Thorne on the platform and appealed for the men to form a union  and then refuse to go to work unless they had a very modest increase in pay of 1d (one old penny, colloquially called the Dockers tanner) to something approaching enough for a docker and his family to live on, and assurance that no man would be taken on for  less than  4 hours a day.
As was the tradition of the period, and for many years afterwards, the dockers agreed to the resolutions by a show of hands, which on this occasion was unanimous. When Ben Tillett took these demands to the dock directors they refused to listen, he returned to tell the men the strike had begun.
Despite the obvious hardships ahead there was enthusiasm. The following day a small strike broke out in the South West India Dock in response to Tillet's statement and it would spread spontaneously and rapidly across the whole of London's docks.
As part of the strike, mass meetings were held at Tower Hill, pickets were established at the dock gates and marches were organised through the City of London. On the whole, the strike remained peaceful, as a result the dock workers gained much support and sympathy from the public.
The employees were intent to starve the strikers out and although the port was at a standstill and their companies losing money they believed that giving into the dockers demands would set a dangerous precedent, but crucially, financial help to the strikers and their families arrived from the Australian Labour , who sent over £30,000 to help the dockers to continue the struggle, alongside organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Labour Church who also raised money in support, Also landlords wgo tried to collect their rents fasced resistance, rent strikes were organised, with one banner reading :"As we are on strike landlords need not call." There was also a remarkable degree of solidarity between different faiths during the strike, in London's east end the Jewish community led a solidarity march with the dockers, a large  proportion of whom were Irish Catholics, and together with the Salvation Army provided soup kitchens for the dockers' families and children. The Irish dockers would get their opportunity to return the gesture of solidarity in the battle of Cable Street nearly half a century later, when in 1936, the ' Blackshirt fascists; targeted the local Jewish community in Stepney.
Anyway without this aid and support, perhaps the strike might not in the end have been won, but  after five weeks on the 14th September  1889, the strike leaders, negotiated an end to the strike with the dock managers with the employees accepting defeat and granting all the dockers main demands, after they had been met by the powers of mass organisation, discipline and resilience that had been ably demonstrated.
After this successful strike, the dockers formed a new General Labourers' Union, which in due course this union became one of the founders of the Transport and General Worker's Union..Ben Tillet was elected General Secretary and Tom Mann became the union's first President. In London alone, 20,000 men joined this new union. Tillett and Mann wrote a pamphlet together called the New Unionism, where they outlined their socialist views and explained how their idea was a "cooperative commonwealth."
This victory was a turning point, which saw workers across the country, particularly the unskilled workers, gaining a new confidence to organise themselves and carry out collective action. Over the next few years a large number of these unskilled workers joined trade unions, and between 1892 and 1899 membership of trade unions increased from 1,500,000 to  over 200,000

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Top Weapon dealers of the World: Stop the War Machine, Save our Planet.



Here is a list of the top 20 weapons dealers in the world. These are their names and where they are based (though they sell their weapons all over the world):

Lockheed Martin, United States
Boeing, United States
BAE Systems, United Kingdom — and subsidiary: BAE Systems Inc., United States
Raytheon, United States
Northrop Grumman, United States
General Dynamics, United States
Airbus Group, Trans-European
United Technologies Corp., United States — and subsidiary: Pratt & Whitney, United States
Finmeccanica, Italy
L-3 Communications, United States
Almaz-Antey, Russia
Thales, France
Huntington Ingalls Industries, United States
United Aircraft Corp., Russia
United Shipbuilding Corp. Russia
Rolls-Royce, United Kingdom
SAFRAN, France
Honeywell International, United States
Textron, United States
DCNS, France

You may notice that none of these companies is located in the parts of the world afflicted by warfare, while half of them are in the United States, seven in Europe and three in Russia.

Source:- https://www.sipri.org/databases/armsindustry

Militarism, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eloquently asserted in 1967, is one of our society’s “Triple Evils,” along with racism and economic exploitation. Now is the time to stop the War machine.  We must find ways to maintain world peace. War is not an option. Weapons sales are a major detriment to these ends. War profiteering was,  once deemed reprehensible. It has been in great measure normalized. Humanity as a whole I believe should seek ways to  render it unacceptable and impossible to engage in.
It is time to divest from weapons companies and invest in ethical, life-affirming solutions.We can only achieve a more peaceful world if we reduce the power of those who profit from war, that fuel conflicts in Yemen, Syria etc, with devastating effect.
According to Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Britain alone has licenced 34, billion worth of aircraft and weapons since the bombing campaign against Yemen started in 2015, which as a result is responsible for the Saudi-led coalition air attack on Yemen which struck a school bus of children heading through a busy market last week, killing more than 40 people, mostly children , and injuring  about 60. At the same time the UK imports Israeli military hardware and components, that has been field tested on innocent Palestinian civilians.
Let us not forget that in modern armed conflicts nearly 90% of casualties are civilians with about 40% of those being children. It is estimated that 2000 children are killed or maimed in wars each and every day. It is no accident that the massive rise in casualty figures coincides with the arms trade, that also helps prop up regimes with atrocious human rights records across our planet. Meanwhile every year DSEI  the world's biggest arms fair rolls into East London, with attendees from some of  the biggest arms companies in the world and many of the most oppressive dictatorships.
The war machine only runs on autopilot to the extent we let it. Put people before war and profit, heddwch/peace.

Two useful links

https://www.caat.org.uk/

http://www.stopwar.org.uk/



Friday, 10 August 2018

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki film they didn't want you to see


The film Hiroshima-Nagasaki 1945 was created in 1968 from Japanese footage that the US Defense Department had kept hidden for over 20 years. The filmmaker Erik Barnouw offered his 16 minute film to all the US main channels. None of them showed it. Why is obvious when looking at this three minute excerpt.
The atom bombs dropped by the US on those Japanese cities served no military purpose, as the Japanese were already suing for peace. President Truman, who ordered the bombs to be dropped, lied to the American people when he said that the atom bombs had saved lives and there were few civilian deaths, The  two atomic bombs killed and maimed hundreds and thousands of people.and the effects are still being felt today.
Seeing the barbarous effect of these weapons, did our political and military leaders decide to rid the world of them. Far from it.Today's nuclear weapons make the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs look like water pistols in  comparison, and there are enough of them to destroy not just cities but the whole world.
And who has most of these weapons of mass destruction? The only country to ever  use them - the United States.
73 years after they were used, it's time to finally bring an end to the era of nuclear weapons.The lingering humanitarian aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should remind us all of what is at stake and galvanise our action.
Completely ridding the world of nuclear weapons is a humanitarian and moral imperative and it is the only way forward,Governments must be urged to pursue negotiations to prohibit the use of and completly eliminate nuclear weapons through a legally binding international agreement.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organisations in one hundred countries promoting adherence to and implementation of the United Nation nuclear weapon ban treaty. This landmark global agreement was adopted in New York on 7 July 2017.
More information below.

http://www.icanw.org/

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Remembering Nagasaki - Yosuke Yamahata (6/8/17 - 18/4/66)


73 years ago  August 8th 1955 ,a second atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese  port city of Nagasaki.The bomb which used plutonium 239, was dropped by parachute at 1102 by an American B29 bomber. called the Fat Man.
Unlike Hiroshima, Nagasaki lied in a series of narrow valleys bordered  by mountains in the east and the west. The bomb exploded above the ground and directly beneath it was a suburb of schools, factories and private houses.
Among the 270,000 people present  when this criminal act occurred were 2,500 labour conscripts from Korea and 350 prisoners-of-war. Nagasaki was completely destroyed. About 73,884 people were killed and 74,909 injured, with the affected survivors suffering the same long-term catastrophic results of radiation and mental trauma as at Hiroshima.
Exposing the true extent of human barbarism for years to come, never again should this ever happen.Let us commit ourselves to making sure Nagasaki is the last place on earth to suffer nuclear devastation..
On August 10th a day after this attack Yosuke Yamahata began photographing the devastation, over a period of 12 hours , he took over a hundred exposures. Later he himself was to become a casualty himself, on his 49th birthday and the twenteith anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima  he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, probably caused  by the effects of radiation, recieved at Nagasaki.
Today his images, still resonate with the truth, and the  shocking tragedy of this atriocity.













Robert Oppenheimer -

Now I become death , the destroyer of worlds


Further reading:-

Nagasaki Journey; The Photographs of Yosuke Yamahata.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The Ballad of Mairéad Farrell - Seanchai and The Unity Squad, with vocals by Rachel Fitzgerald



On a quiet Sunday afternoon in Gibraltar on March 6, 1988 ,undercover British agents executed 3  members of  an unarmed Provisional IRA unit, Sean Savage, Dan McCann and  Mairéad Farrell shot.at close range  as they lay wounded on the ground.
Their deaths were controversial as several eye witnesses confirmed that they were all were unarmed and with their hands up,The three were believed  at the time to be mounting a bombing attack on British military personnel in Gibraltar.
What is undeniable is that just before four that afternoon – just two or three minutes after SAS soldiers took control from the Gibraltar authorities – all three IRA Activists were brought down in a hail of 29 bullets, 16 pumped into Savage alone. A police siren sounded, and two soldiers leaped over a barrier as Farrell and McCann lay dying in the road leading to the Spanish border. A few seconds later and another volley of shots brought down Savage as he headed up an alleyway back towards the town.
The gunning down of three unarmed IRA Activists on the streets of Gibraltar by the SAS has continued to haunt the British government. The March 1988 executions led to a cycle of death in the north of Ireland, re-opened claims that the government operated a ‘shoot-to kill’ policy and, yet again, called into question the reputation of British justice.
The British media at the time with the exception of Thames TVs Death on the Rock", repeated the British Army propoganda  that the three were armed and the local eyewitness were lying. At the inquest into the deaths held in Gibraltar the jury returned a verdict of lawful killing by a 9–2 majority. The coroner in summing up of the evidence to the jury told them to avoid an open verdict. The 9-2 verdict is the smallest majority allowed. Paddy McGrory, lawyer for Amnesty International, believed that it had been a "perverse verdict," and that it had gone against the weight of the evidence.
 The relatives of McCann, Savage and Farrell were dissatisfied with the response to their case in the British legal system, so they took their case to the European Court of Human Rights in 1995. The court found that the three had been unlawfully killed By a 10–9 majority it ruled that the human rights of the 'Gibraltar Three' had been infringed in breach of Article 2 – right to life, of the European Convention on Human Rights and criticised the authorities for lack of appropriate care in the control and organisation of the arrest operation. For many it was cold state-sanctioned murder, at point blank range.
 When the bodies came through Dublin Airport, all the staff stopped with their heads bowed and prayed as a mark of respect.
There was also shock at  the time as to how a woman like Mairead could have become involved with the IRA. To  Mairead, however her membership was a logical decision made as a result of a political analysis drawn from both political experience and a study of Irish history,
Mairead was born  in Belfast on the 3rd August 1957, the  second youngest of six children and the only girl. She was twelve when the British Army took over the streets of Belfast in 1969. This subsequently led to her being politicized.
" It was relavent of growing up in the Falls, we had to pass the Brits during the curfews you could only get out for a certain number of hours. We were all victims of the British occupation really you just accepted that you would be  involved to defend your country. " She joined the IRA and said later, "A lot of 17 to 19  year olds were involved, maybe looking back I was very young then but I was politically aware I know rhat now because my views haven't changed if anything I have become stronger, more committed. "
In 1976 she was arrested after taking  part in the IRA's campaign. She was convicted of possesion of explosives and membership of the IRA and sentenced to  fourteen and a half years imprisonment. Mairead was sentenced at a crucial turning point in British policy and was to become the leader of the women in Armagh jail when the republican struggle was focussed on the prisoners.
When Mairead entered Armagh in April 1976 she was the first woman republican prisoner to be sentenced under the new regulations and was refused special category status. She was isolated from the Republican organization in Armagh and only able to talk to the other fifty or so republican women for ten minutes after Mass on Sundays. She began a “no work protest” against the loss of special category status, “I knew now the battle would begin - the real battle - that the struggle would be a long and lonely one for us all
As other newly sentenced women entered Armagh they joined Mairead in protests. Mairead became Commanding Officer. ‘There was no kudos in it, I had to take decisions that would effect all the prisoners. There were times I felt very alone, even though I knew I had the support of the others at all times.’
The dirty protest that began on 7th February 1980 was forced on Mairead and her comrades. The Republican women were able to wear their own clothes; they were all dressed in black skirts and white blouses at a ceremony to honour Delaney. A week later, to crush this example of organised solidarity, a squad of 60 male and female warders surrounded the women at lunch time. Tim Pat Coogan stated that the women “were kicked and punched until order was restored’ Their cells were searched and wrecked by the warders and after the women were returned to their cells, “Men in riot gear armed with batons appeared in the cells again. The girls (sic) were beaten and carried down the stairs to the guard room to receive their punishment. The toilets were locked and they were confined to their cells for 24 hours.’
Mairead described the events to her parents: We were not allowed exercise nor out to the toilet or to get washed. We were locked up for 24 hours and allowed nothing to eat or drink. Male officers are still on the wing, they have not left and are running the wing got something to eat still not allowed use of toilet facilities. We have been forced into a position of “Dirt Strike’ as our pots are overflowing with urine and excrement. We emptied them out of the spy holes into the wing. The male officers nailed them closed.” Then later: ‘Male officers are still running the wing Lynn O’Connell was beaten twice, the second time was the worst. The officers jumped her as she was going out to the yard her face is badly swollen and cut.’
In early April 1980 Mairead wrote to her relatives, “The stench of urine and excrement clings to the cells and our bodies. No longer can we empty the pots out the window as the male screws have boarded them up regardless of day or night, the cells are dark for 23 hours a day we lie in these celIs’ The protest lasted 13 months. It was to Mairead the most frightening time of her imprisonment. Women were locked in pairs in cells measuring 3m x 2m (9ft x 6ft). During this time, Mairead told Tim Pat Coogan, “We are in a war situation. We have been treated in a special way and tried in special courts because of the war and because of our political activities. We want to be regarded as prisoners of war.
On 1st December 1980, Mairead, Mary Doyle and Mairead Nugent went on hunger strike in united action with the men in the Long Kesh ‘H Blocks. Afterwards she recalled how important was the support received from outside and also how she hated the distress caused to her parents. She continued on hunger strike until 19th December when it seemed the N.I.O. had agreed to the prisoners’ demands. This agreement was then retracted.
The Dirty Protest was called off in January 1981 in preparation for the second hunger strike in the H Blocks on 1st March 1981. A difficult decision not to join this was made by the women prisoners. It was the worst time for them as the women waited for news of the deaths, “I know it will be more difficult this time to win anything. It will take longer for the pressure to build up.” At the end of the interview Mairead said, “I am a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army and a political prisoner in Armagh jail. I am prepared to fight to the death, if necessary, to win the recognition that I am a political prisoner and not a criminal.’
In December 1982 strip searching was introduced at Armagh. The women republican prisoners refused to undergo these searches that were made before women were allowed out of the prison. Her last inter-prison visit to see her fiancee in Long Kesh was in October 1982 and she did not see him again until her release four years later. The remand prisoners suffered most from strip searching as they were searched before and after court hearings and were subject to regular beatings. The women republican prisoners ended their resistance to strip searching because of the fear of increasingly serious assaults. Mairead was strip searched on her release from Maghaberry Prison, “I felt it was the final insult. It’s designed as psychological torture, as a way of intimidating us.” Looking back on years in prison she saw them as teaching her the real values in life and making her more committed to her political beliefs.
During her last years of imprisonment, Mairead took Open University courses in Politics and Economics, and gained a place at Queen’s University on her release. She worked with the Strip Searching Campaign, speaking at meetings all over Ireland. She then reported back to the IRA. Just before her death she said, “You have to be realistic, you realise that ultimately you’re either going to be dead or end up in jail.”
“Everybody keeps telling me I’m a feminist. I just know I’m me and I think I’m as good as anyone else and that particularly goes for any man. I’m a socialist, definitely, and I’m a republican. I believe in a united Ireland; a united socialist Ireland, definitely socialist. Capitalism provided no answer at all for our people and I think that’s the Brit’s main interest in Ireland. Once we remove the British that isn’t it, that’s only the beginning.”
When their bodies came through Dublin Airport, in the aftermath of the shooting  all the staff stopped with their heads bowed and prayed as a mark of respect, following these events violenc would  escalate in the Belfast area and resulted in at least six further deaths. At the funeral of the 'Gibraltar Three' on 16 March 1988, three mourners were killed in a gun and grenade attack by loyalist paramilitary Michael Stone in the Milltown Cemetery attack.
After  Mairéad''s  death it would  lead to this hauntingly beautiful tribute  “The Ballad of Mairéad Farrell”, by Seanchai and The Unity Squad,  with vocals by Rachel Fitzgerald. In 2008 Sinn Féin asked to hold an International Women's Day event in the Long Gallery at Stormont commemorating Farrell. The Assembly Commission which runs the Stormont estate ruled that it could not go ahead. Heroine or villainess,  she remains an interesting human being. To the people of Falls Road she was a patriot. To the British she was a terrorist. To her family she was a victim of Irish history and a product of her environment.This elegy, this song and this history to this day has a sort of tragic, beautiful complexity to it.



Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there I do not sleep
Do not stand at my grave and cry
while Ireland lives I do not die
 
A woman's place is not at home
The fight for freedom it still goes on
I took up my gun until freedoms day
I pledged to fight for the IRA

In Armagh jail i served my time
Strip searches were a british crime
Degraded me yet they could not see
I'd suffer this to see Ireland free
 
Gibraltar Rock was the place I died
McCann and Savage were by my side
I heard the order so loud and true
Of thatchers voice said "SHOOT TO KILL"

So do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there i do not sleep
Do not stand at my grave and cry
While Ireland lives I do not die
While Ireland lives I do not die