Dublin (AHT) – Over the past several months, there has been much focus by the Irish mainstream media on the case of Lisa Smith, a former member of the 26-County State’s Air Corps, who similar to the case of British-born ISIS bride Shamima Begum, travelled to Syria in 2015 to join Islamic State before being captured in March of this year by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Like the Begum case in the UK, the case of Lisa Smith has also triggered fierce debate in the Irish political sphere, with the main concern being what security risks would be presented should she be repatriated by the Dublin government, it has also brought to the fore the issue of the Irish political establishment’s links to NATO-backed Salafist groups.
Following the commencement of the Western-backed regime change project in Syria in March 2011, more than 30 Irish-born terrorists traveled to the secular Arab republic in a bid to depose the government of Bashar al-Assad; a number of these insurgents also took part in the Anglo-American backed proxy war on Libya occurring at the same time, and upon the destruction of what was once the most prosperous country in Africa these terrorists, alongside their Syrian regime change project counterparts, were subsequently lauded by the Irish mainstream media as ‘rebels’ and ‘freedom fighters’, with prominent members featuring on the 26 County State Broadcaster’s flagship talk-show, the Late Late Show.
This celebration of terrorism by the 26 County Administration has continued in recent years, with the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets receiving a ‘peace prize’ in Tipperary in 2017; Dublin-born Khalid Kelly also died fighting with ISIS in Iraq in November 2016, having being freely allowed to travel to the war-torn country by the 26 County Authorities.
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This favorable treatment of Salafist-inspired terrorist groups by the southern Irish state is in stark contrast to its treatment of those opposed to the ongoing British occupation of the north-east of the country, however.
In the south of Ireland today, Irish Republicans run the very real risk of being brought before the non-jury ‘Special Criminal Court’ and charged with ‘membership of an illegal organization’ based on the word of a senior Garda alone; although accompanying evidence has to be produced to acquire a conviction, this is usually flimsy at best, in one ongoing case it being the fact that the defendant had a photo on his phone of slain Republican Alan Ryan, murdered by a Dublin drugs gang in September 2012 in collusion with the 26 County Authorities.
To understand this difference in treatment between a resistance movement and a NATO-backed terrorist group, one must look at the origins of the 26 County State and its role in facilitating both British and US imperialism.
Following the 1921 surrender agreement authored by former Republicans and the British government, Ireland was partitioned into two states; a six-county statelet in the north-east of the country remaining under British rule, and a larger southern state, with a puppet government subservient to Westminster.
At the behest of Britain, 77 Irish Republicans were brutally executed by the fledgling ‘Free State’ in the first year of its existence, and over the years many various methods were used by Leinster House to suppress the Republican movement, from internment to media censorship; practices that still continue to this day in the 26 Counties.
However, as a British neo-colony, this has meant that the southern Irish state has also had to accommodate wider British imperialism, hence the facilitation of terrorists to travel to take part in Anglo-US regime change projects such as Libya and Syria, and the subsequent celebration of atrocities committed by said groups; a far different stance than that which is taken towards a genuine anti-imperialist movement.
This post originally ran on American Herald Tribune.
Gavin O’Reilly is the Secretary of Dublin Anti-Internment Committee.