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Press Release: “Rebellious Worms Aim To Reclaim The Old Head of Kinsale”

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A colourful new children’s book, entitled The Worms That Saved The World, is set to focus renewed attention on the controversy surrounding the Old Head of Kinsale in Co Cork. Written by Kevin Doyle and beautifully illustrated by artist, Spark Deeley, The Worms That Saved The World will be launched at Cork’s City Hall on May 5th by writer and dramatist Conal Creedon.

Access to the scenic Old Head of Kinsale – a landmark site on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way – has been restricted since 2003 when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Old Head Golf Links who had applied for exclusive rights to control who could walk on the headland. In The Worms That Saved The World a group of earthworms living on an imaginary headland begin to suffer when a golf course takes up residence around their home. The worms attempt to tell the new owners about their concerns but they are dismissed. In response they organise and join with the other birds and animals on the headland. Eventually they reclaim the headland for everyone.

“The book was inspired by the Free The Old Head campaign,’ said Kevin Doyle, ‘but it is about a lot more than just that. It is also about the environment and the need to stand up for your rights while celebrating community and solidarity in our lives. It’s a feel-good book that kids and parents together can enjoy and learn from.”

He continued,

‘The illustrations are works of art in their own right. Children will love these rebellious worms. Let’s face it, earthworms get a lot of bad press but these worms have something to tell us about the need to share the planet and respect the environment.”

The illustrations in the book have already garnered praise.

“There are thirty-five original illustrations,” said Spark Deeley. “First, I sketched the images onto watercolour paper. The drawings were then inked in using a fine liner drawing pen. Finally, I coloured the drawings by hand using watercolour paint. The larger images took between 4 – 5 days each from start to finish.”

Spark Deeley and Kevin Doyle (2)She added, “The expressions on the faces of the worms change throughout the book. Their faces convey the emotions that they experience as the story unfolds. We see concern, confusion, surprise, fear, outrage, concentration, questioning, determination, compassion and pure joy. That is what this story is all about.”

The Worms That Saved The World is published by Chispa Publishing, Cork and will retail at €10. Copies can be ordered online via Facebook or Twitter. The book will be available in Cork at Vibes and Scribes (Lavitt’s Quay) and Liam Ruiséal (Oliver Plunkett Street).

Further Information:

Kevin Doyle and Spark Deeley

For background history about the Old Head dispute see Free Old Head of Kinsale – A Brief History (includes more links.)

For more about the storybook and its development see About “The Worms That Saved The World”

 

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Review: Mentioning The War by Kevin Higgins

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higginsKevin Higgins is a poet from Galway and a long-standing contributor to the independent left publication Red Banner Magazine. A former member of the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party), he has played no small part in making the world of writing a more accessible and pleasant place to be in this country – not least for those …

This review first published November 2012 in The Irish Anarchist Review 6 (Ireland).  Full version here and also on Kevin Doyle Blog here

Book details: Mentioning the War: Essays & Reviews 1999-2011  by Kevin Higgins
(ISBN: 978-1-908836-12-0)  Published by Salmon Poetry (April, 2012).

Cover Artwork: © Lisavan | Dreamstime.com

Written by Kevin Doyle

March 31, 2016 at 1:44 pm

The FBI’s Long Arm…

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Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC)

The FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC)

According to legend the FBI always gets its man – leaving sexism aside for the moment.   Whether true or not, a recent case undoubtedly highlighted the extremely long reach of the US’s famous law enforcement agency.  The case involved Anis Abid Sardar, an Iraqi national, who was working in London as a taxi driver.  Last month Sardar was convicted of killing a US soldier in Iraq in 2007 and for this heinous crime he has been sentenced to serve a minimum of 38 years in prison – in the UK.

It seems that Anis Sardar became involved in the resistance to the US occupation of Iraq and took up making improvised explosive devices or IEDs.  One of the bombs that he made exploded under a troop carrier west of Bagdad in 2007 killing “34-year-old Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson, of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment” . Some months after the attack Sardar was fingerprinted as he entered the UK having travelled via Syria.  Seven long years passed and then he came into the sights of the FBI.  The Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Centre (TEDAC) identified his fingerprints on a number of devices that were similar to those that killed Randy Johnson.  They issued a warrant for Sardar’s arrest and just last month he was convicted in what Sue Hemming of the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service described as a “landmark prosecution”.

Now you might ask what is TEDAC?  Well that’s part of what’s interesting .  The FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Centre is located at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico in Virginia.  In the FBI’s own words it is the “US Government’s single repository for IEDs that have been collected or are of interest to the United States government.”  To put it another way ‘it’s the bomb library of America.’

The FBI are extremely proud of TEDAC.  It comprises a huge warehouse to where are repatriated the remnants of any device used against US agencies or its armed forces.  Right now there are thousands of boxes in the warehouse awaiting examination (see above).  When a device explodes anywhere and the target is US troops, the fragments from the entire conflagration are gathered up, logged and transported all the way back to said TEDAC facility in the USA.  Just imagine the logistics involved here for one moment.  The gathering of everything from a bomb blast must take place; the attention to detail must be paramount; everything is then packed up and posted in over to Virginia.

Amazing right.  Take a look at the photo above of the warehouse and those racks of crates and you get some indication of the huge effort that is taking place.  Every single one of those crates is a crime waiting to be solved.  This is cutting edge detective work alongside a cutting edge commitment to justice too.  Am I not right?

Eventually these bits of metal are examined and checked, and sometimes, as with the case of Sardar a prosecution results.  The FBI notes that ‘Since its creation in 2003, TEDAC has examined more than 100,000 IEDs from around the world and currently receives submissions at the rate of 800 per month. Two million items have been processed for latent prints—half of them this year alone.’  An FBI spokesperson added, ‘We have a lot of experience identifying IED components and blast damage.  As a result we have identified over 1,000 individuals with potential ties to terrorism.’

So there you are.  Shit hot, right?  TEDAC and everything associated with it is a commitment to justice that is second to none, right ?Except… Wait a minutes… What about…?

A killer droneThe question is HOW do you square up this dedicated pursuit by the FBI of men like Sardar with its polar opposite: the mounting tally of deaths associated with the US’s drone bombing campaign?

Before I set down another letter on WordPress, let me hasten to point out here that I’m not intending FOR ONE MOMENT to get into the matter of whether or not the US is entitlement to wander about the globe killing what it terms ‘legitmate’ targets at will.  That is not for now.  Afterall, a lowly writer such as I, who am I to question the right of the United States to execute at will those it deems to be its enemies?

Instead I will confine myself here to what are termed collateral deaths associated with this drone campaign?  In a recent interview regarding the Naming The Dead project, Jack Serle of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism  said, ‘We don’t have an absolute figure on how many people have been killed, but our best estimate is about 2,318. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that we’ll be able to name every single one of them, partly because a lot of people have died anonymously.”  To date in fact NTD have managed to name just over 700 individuals.

Site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district, bordering North Waziristan, November 21, 2013.

For me it beggars belief that in t his day and age this sort of murderous activity can go on with no one or no organisation able to stop it, but there you are it does.  The point however is that with regard to the US’s drone bombing campaign, significant numbers of civilians are being killed each week.  This is simply a war crime, but one that is happening week in and week out now.  The drone bombing campaign contravenes all the usual standards of conduct in war – where reasonable effort must be made to avoid the targeting of civilians.  And in almost all the cases I know of there isn’t even a war on in the first place.  The US is targeting  and killing at will in areas of the world where it sees fit.  Which puts TEDAC and the FBI’s investigative prowess into a somewhat different light, no?

The Naming The Dead project got underway due to the fact that in many of the cases where drone bombings have been conducted, the extent of the destruction and the arbitrariness of the attacks is such that no one knows often how many or who has died.  It is not unusual on any day to have on the newswires a brief report that a drone bomb attack has taken place.  In such reports the general number of casualties is reported on.  The names of the victims are rarely given… and the world moves on.  [Rest assured that no stellar effort by FBI or anyone else for that matter is going to take place in regard to these murderous attacks; in fact the victims’ families will be doing well if they manage to recover the remains of their loved ones.]

As I composed this post, I noted that the following report appeared on the wires.  It is entitled, Fresh US drone strikes have claimed the lives of at least 14 people in the troubled eastern part of Afghanistan.   To summarize the information in this report.  There were six casualties on Friday when a group of people were targeted by a US Drone flying over eastern Paktia Province.  ‘Witnesses and local resident say the victims were civilians, but Afghan officials insist that they were all Taliban militants.’  Furthermore, it is noted that later on that same Friday, ‘eight people were killed in another US drone strike in the eastern Nangarhar Province.’ The following is also noted: ‘The US has stepped up its drone campaign across Afghanistan in recent weeks.’  And the following was also noted:

  • June 5th at least 15 civilians lost their lives in a US drone strike in Alishir district of Khost province near the border with Pakistan. Local residents said the victims were attending the funeral of a local tribesman.
  • On June 4th Separate drone attacks across Nangarhar had claimed at least 17 lives the day before.

If you wish to know more about the extent and nature of the US’s drone war, the following pdf is worth examining.

So there you have it.  One the one hand people are beavering away in TEDAC day in and day out, scouring fragments of metal, powering up scanning electron microscopes, piecing together tiny fragments of prints – generally DOING THEIR DAMNEDEST to find those criminals out there in the world.  While on the other hand, under the same grand canopy that is US Justice and Law Enforcement, people are being blown to smithereens at will, with such gay abandon that in many cases it isn’t even known who is being killed or who they even are.

I guess you’ll drawn your own conclusions from all of this but I know one thing for sure, the days of having one law for one set of people in the world and another for another set, is long over with.

 

Related Links and Articles

Living Under Drones

Targetting the Rescuers

Written by Kevin Doyle

June 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

The Hand of God – A Short Story (Video reading)

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The most popular [theory] I recall was from a quiet boy whose name I now forget.  He advanced the idea that Brother Bannister enjoyed hitting us.  When this boy first stated his view, it was followed, it should be said, by a deathly silence.  Then everyone laughed.

Background: This story arose from a chance meeting with an old school friend in Cork.  Inevitably we talked about that time and this led onto a conversation about one Christian Brother who had a particularly violent temper; a lot of them had just ordinary tempers.  Later on however it struck me how this Brother had lived on in our minds for the wrong reasons.

This got me to wondering about what we must have thought at the time – when we were boys.  You try to rationalise everything as a child even things that make no sense.  But what did we make of this Brother’s violent ways and how did it match with the idea of God that was being preached to us?

Maybe the story is a metaphor for the violence of religion.  God is far from loving in this story; in fact the main theory put forward by the boys suggests that God is willfully assisting in the reign of terror.

The sadism of the Brother is another feature of the story.  The boys of course do not understand what sadism is but they are beginning to see that in this Brother’s case, he is enjoying his violence and power.

What remained then with the boys afterwards and how did it affect  them in their lives – if it even did?

 

Review of “Mentioning The War: Essays … ” by Kevin Higgins

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Mentioning The War: Essays and Reviews (1999-2011) by Kevin Higgins. (published by Salmon Poetry).

[This review first published in the Irish Anarchist Review No. 6 (Oct 2012).]

­­­Kevin Higgins is a poet from Galway and a long-standing contributor to the independent left publication Red Banner Magazine.  A former member of the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party), he has played no small part in making the world of writing a more accessible and pleasant place to be in this country – not least for those who don’t normally find themselves welcome in the hallowed, middle class halls of Literativille.   His approach is no accident.  Higgins knows that good writing can be found anywhere and is not the preserve of the privileged or the best educated.  But importantly too in terms of writing (and poetry in particular) he is committed to high standards.  ‘Political poetry’ with little poetry in it, and as well as doggerel in general are two of his bêtes noires.

His poetry should be treasured on the left (but it isn’t of course) in particular because we have so few poets who cherish the streets we wander along.   Dave Lordan or Diarmuid O Dalaigh in Cork might appear to fit that role too, but their concerns in the main are with the world outside the left.  Higgins in contrast often looks in at where we are and there is much that is valuable and sobering in what he sees.

His poetry I recommend highly but his essays, collected here by Salmon Poetry, are much more of a mixed bag.  One problem to be pointed out at the outset is that a fair number of his reviews (mostly attributed to The Galway Advertiser) are simply too short to be of much value.  I am all for brevity but with many of these, interesting points are raised only to be left hanging in their entirety at conclusion of said review.  A case in point being that of Lorna Siggins’ Once Upon A Time In The West which is strangely equivocal.  As I said, it would be interesting to know more about Kevin Higgins thinks about the significant yet tragically defeated protest centred on the Corrib gas fields.

When Kevin does have space to elaborate, he is invariably interesting and informative.  He is good at explaining and is always interesting and clear when writing about literature and poetry.  This is a real asset and rarer than you might imagine.  Not surprisingly his way with words is one of his strongest suits.  Generally he is even handed (see his review of Michael D’s last collection of poems) but he can be ruthless too as with his hilarious review of Ruairí Quinn’s Straight Left – A Journey Into Politics.  Such an opus was bound to provoke Kevin Higgin’s ire and it sure does.   Among many fitting observations about the Labour Party’s ultimate clown is the comment that Quinn “as a writer is dull beyond belief”.

Since this collection has been review elsewhere by general left commentators I will focus for the remainder on what anarchists and libertarian socialists might find interesting.  On the positive side Kevin is one of the few socialists who is prepared to face up to the authoritarianism (some call it the Leninist or Stalinist mindset) that is, even now, a significant feature of the serious left, both here and abroad.  This is a big plus for me.  The disaster that befell us all when the idea of socialism became inextricably linked to censorship, the Gulags, show trials, self-criticism sessions and so on and so forth (stand up Lenin, Trotsky and the others), is too easily glossed over by many within the marxist left.  Some don’t see the huge problem even now or imagine it to be some past aberration or some plot by the CIA to denigrate our ultimate goal.  Not Kevin Higgins, I feel.  He knows, as many of us do to our cost (I came across it myself only recently in the Anti-Household Tax Campaign) that the toxic world of authoritarian left politics is still very real and debilitating.

One the negative side, Kevin is just a bit too prone to lampooning the left, in contexts that are often not clear.  Some of this, I am guessing, is scar tissue from his Militant Tendency days, but often the swipes are too easy and undiscerning.  They are to be found here and there in this collection but an example is his observation about a speaker at a left meeting who was ‘earnest but dead-in-the-mouth’.   Of course this could well be true (and who hasn’t been at such meetings?) but the problem is that there’s loads of mundanity in trying to organise even the smallest of protests.  Our resources are almost pitiful when compared against those ranged against us, and I just wonder, in places, where the empathy is for the countless individuals who have been the foot-soldiers of important (and un-newsworthy) protests – against deportations, against the household tax, for choice around pregnancy termination?

Anarchists will find much of interest in this collection but there will be dissatisfaction too.  Like many from within the Marxist tradition, Kevin Higgins shows much insight into the problems of the authoritarian left.  But more searching scrutiny is not developed here.

Written by Kevin Doyle

November 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Ireland’s Mary Celeste: Cill Eoin “Ghost Estate”, Kenmare

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I came across this small ghost estate on a recent trip to Kenmare.  The estate, Cill Eoin, is near the ruin of an old church on the Kenmare-Kilgarvan Road.  As ‘ghost estates’ go this is an extraordinary place.

The most striking aspect of Cill Eoin is the feeling I got that it had been abandoned suddenly.  The scaffolding inside some of the partially finished houses is still in place.  There is equipment lying around as if it had been used earlier that same day that I visited.  Some of the houses are in such good condition that you expect to see someone come in and check on progress.  Cill Eoin is the Mary Celeste of building sites.

Other signs tell a different story, of course.   Weeds have taken over the paths between the various houses.  The nails that lay in piles here and there are badly rusted.  And there is such an amount of bird song, as if the birds know the real story about this place: no one had been around here for a long, long time.

Just standing there and looking around, I understood better than I ever had before how the future has been stolen from us all and our children.

Written by Kevin Doyle

May 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm

2010 in review

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This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2010.  In 2010, there were 16 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 31 posts. There were 17 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 685kb. That’s about a picture per month. The busiest day of the year was March 24th with 22 views. The most popular post that day was Ambassador Gabriel Byrne and ‘Brand Ireland’ … No thanks.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Ambassador Gabriel Byrne and ‘Brand Ireland’ … No thanks March 2010
4 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

2

Orwell on the Aragon Front October 2009
4 comments

3

Franco’s Victims and ‘culture of terror’ in Spain September 2010

4

 

We Bombed It And Bombed It … January 2009

5

 

Solidarity Books @ Cork February 2010

Written by Kevin Doyle

January 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Writing

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