WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
31 January 2015
JM: There's very few times in life where you get to pay back someone – you might always dream about it and hope about it – to get back at someone who's done you wrong. Particularly say you were arrested by a police force and then deported from a country – maybe we'll call it Ireland - back to the United States – and you get to force them out of the Saint Patrick's Day parade on Fifth Avenue because you're actually marching in it!
And I'm speaking about Martin Galvin, the former publicity director of Irish Northern Aid who was banned by Margaret Thatcher from going to The Six Counties in Ireland, was arrested eventually and then deported back to this country. And is I said at the top of the show Saint Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland but it was Martin Galvin who drove the RUC/PSNI off the streets of New York. Martin, are you there with us?
MG: I am, John. Sandy, Eliza – how are you doing?
JM: Great, great, great. So how did you find about about this 'cause it's been brewing for quite a while – where they were debating whether to march – not march - and then a statement was issued and then Voila! - magic. They're not on Fifth Avenue.
MG: John, what happened is apparently a news story appeared in The (Belfast) Newsletter, which is a Unionist paper, this week. I started to get calls and then I was sent a copy by a journalist I know about a news release from Jim Allister- Jim Allister is a very prominent Unionist politician - and he was bragging – he said he had written to the Chief Constable of the British Constabulary, the PSNI, the re-named RUC, complaining that they were thinking about first marching in an event in which England Out of Ireland banners are flown and in which the Irish flag, along with the American flag, are the only flags - apparently he wants Union Jacks along Fifth Avenue in the parade.
And then he said that: why is that force, the British Constabulary, marching in an anti-British parade which endorses this message? Then the final blow was – and I'm reading from his press release:
(Martin reads) Before Christmas, I wrote to the PSNI again pointing out that Martin Galvin, the former head of the Irish Northern Aid Committee and a hardline Republican, had been named an Aide to the Grand Marshal, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, for the parade in 2015. Martin Galvin was on the run from police officers in Northern Ireland and I wrote to request an assurance that we would not be in the ridiculous position that the PSNI would be lining up to march behind him in this year's Saint Patrick's Day parade. (Martin ends reading.)
And he finished by saying that he would have been assured that they are not going to be on Fifth Avenue in New York. That if anyone comes over for the parade they will not be in uniform, they will not be officially participating in the parade as they did last year.
If you go to the Irish Central or Nuzhound today there've been other articles - how disappointed – how much effort was used to get them in the parade last year because what the British were trying to do and hoping to do was to try and present a prospect of normalisation - that this is now a normal police force that exists in the North of Ireland and they can even be welcomed on Fifth Avenue, the place where so many Irish-Americans have shown so much opposition to British rule in the North of Ireland.
And they were originally in – then out – then snuck them in at the last minute – and how that was part of that normalisation process. This year it seems now that they're not going to march and if they don't – and again, I don't guarantee that - they may try to sneak in again at the last minute - but because of the Parade Committee standing up to all the people who wanted me out of the parade – and I commend them for doing that – they said: I was chosen as an Aide and I'm gonna stay an Aide and they welcome the fact that I'm an Aide to the Grand Marshal.
Because of people like Tim Myles and Jim Sullivan and others in the AOH pushing the idea of getting back to having England Get Out of Northern Ireland banners. At one time all of the groups had them, that went down in recent years, but now there's a move to get more of them there. Because of the AOH, the National Board, the National President Brendan Moore, the state President Tim McSweeney, the state Vice-President Jim Burke, the state president - all of them backing that. Now we have had the PSNI go forward - they're telling Jim Allister that they're not going to be here.
And the one thing is – I've had some people – they were looking forward to coming down marching in the parade and waving their England Out of Ireland banners in the face of the re-named RUC, the PSNI – but I think it's better! They're out of the parade - they don't belong in this parade. I wouldn't march in a July 12th parade because it celebrated British rule and I would expect, if I marched in that parade, to see Union Jacks, British flags and slogans supporting British rule.
This force, which supports British rule in the North of Ireland, does not deserve to be in a parade that celebrates Irish heritage and remembers that there are six contingent represented counties that are still under British rule.
JM: Well Martin, we have a busy show - thanks for coming on and we'll stay on top of this. Probably the only people more disappointed in what's going on, besides the Free State government, is British Sinn Féin, with Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, who lobbied last year to get the British police force in to Fifth Avenue - (quips) - probably to protect them going up Fifth Avenue – but a lot of disappointment all around.
But now we're going to go and cover - a very tragic anniversary is Bloody Sunday where civil rights marchers were shot dead in Doire and we're going to go to a song that you don't hear very often – I know you hear about U-2 and you hear about that clown that rides the bicycle around Central Park breaking his arm. But the original Bloody Sunday song was written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono so we're gonna play some of that and when we come out of that we'll be over in Doire speaking with Eamonn McCann who organised the march on that tragic day.
(Lennon-Ono song, Sunday Bloody Sunday, played)
- (Ed. Note: Due to a last minute scheduling conflict Eamonn McCann was not available to be interviewed.)