Archive for March, 2010

Careful Now.

Exhibition: Blasphemous
Artists:: Richard Bartle , George Bolster, Hannah Breslin, Alan Butler, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Steve Farley, Una Gildea, Sarah Hardacre, Jacinta Jardine, Mark Lomax, Matthew MacKisack, Justin McKeown, Noël O’Callaghan, RedMeat by Max Cannon, Emer Roberts, Will St. Leger, Kate Walters, Paul Woods.
Venue: Irish Museum Of Contemporary Art
Website: Click Here

As much as it is a direct confrontation of this dangerous law, Blasphemous is a celebration of artistic freedom and intellectual discourse.

Black and Tans at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery

Exhibition: ‘Black and Tans’
Artist:: Mick O’ Dea
Venue: Kevin Kavanagh Gallery
Website: Click Here

This is no easy subject matter. This is no easy narrative. Every face casts a shadow. Every soldier leaves a darkness. O’Dea has drawn richly on the visual traces of the Irish past to create a radical intervention into how contemporary audiences and future generations encounter and remember war.

The exhibition ends this weekend.

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Who was the first man shot that day?
The player Connolly,
Close to the City Hall he died;
Carriage and voice had he;
He lacked those years that go with skill,
But later might have been
A famous, a brilliant figure
Before the painted scene.

From mountain to mountain ride the fierce horsemen.

W.B Yeats.

This Easter Monday sees a new plaque unveiled in Dublin, a plaque to the memory of Sean Connolly and his siblings ( Joe, Mattie, George, Eddie and Katie, who all served with the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising) and young Molly O’ Reilly who raised the green flag over Liberty Hall in April, 1916.

In The History of the Irish Citizen Army, by R.M Fox, he wrote that:

In front of the hall itself the Citizen Army cleared a space and formed up on three sides of the square. Inside this square was the women’s section, the boys scouts’ corps under Captain W. Carpenter, and the Fintan Lalor Pipe Band. Captain C. Poole and a Colour Guard of sixteen men escorted the colour bearer, Miss Molly O’ Reilly of the Women Workers’ Union who was also a member of the Citizen Army.

….. “I noticed” said a member of the Colour Guard, “That some men, old and middle aged,and a great number of women were crying. and I knew then that this was not in vain and that they all realised what was meant by the hoisting of the flag

Sean Connolly famously starred in a play by James Connolly entitled ‘Under Which Flag?’ a week before the insurrection, which went hand in hand with the symbolic raising of the green flag over the hall. He was shot on the roof of City Hall on Easter Monday by a British Sniper who had taken up position in Dublin Castle. His brother, Mattie, was with him as he died. Sean is remembered not only as a captain within the Citizen Army but also as an actor at the Abbey, with Lady Gregory writing a poem in his memory after 1916.

James Connolly himself wrote in an article titled The Irish Flag published on the 8th April 1916 in the Workers Republc newspaper, that

For centuries the green flag of Ireland was a thing accurst and hated by the English garrison in Ireland, as it is still in their inmost hearts. But in India, in Egypt, in Flanders, in Gallipoli, the green flag is used by our rulers to encourage Irish soldiers of England to give up their lives for the power that denies their country the right of nationhood. Green flags wave over recruiting offices in Ireland and England as a bait to lure on poor fools to dishonourable deaths in England’s uniform.

On Easter Monday, April 5th the flag will be raised at Liberty Hall by a relative of Molly O’ Reilly. This flag will be presented by the great grandson of James Connolly. This ceremony will begin at 12 noon. After this, the crowd will move on to Sean McDermott Street where the plaque will be unveiled on 58/59 Sean McDermott Lower, where the home of Sean Connolly once stood.

There will be a photographic exhibition of images from the revolutionary years in the nearby Community Hall at Killarney Court.

This is all being carried out by the North Inner City Folk Project, the people behind fantastic events like the commemoration of the forgotten women of 1916, and promises to be a good one. I look forward to it!

Update: Images and audio from the launch can be found here

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The Blades’ first single was released on Energy Records in the summer of 1980.

The A side, Hot For You, is a singalong pop punk masterpiece. It was recorded by the original Blades line up (1977 – 81): Paul Cleary on vocals and bass, his brother Lar on Guitar and Pat Larkin on drums. Interestingly, at Ramport Studios in Battersea.

So, come outside baby
now the time is right
with your brand new shades and your jeans so tight,
well the sun is burning and I’m getting hot for you…

(From irishrock.org) Tour magazine. Circa 1980


The B-Side, Reunion, is a simple, fast paced tune with Paul Cleary’s typical lyrical genius.

I talk to her sister whenever I can
trying to make a connection
I used to write letters but threw them away
‘Cause I’m afraid of rejection.

This will be hopefully be the first of a series of pieces on classic Dublin punk and new wave singles.

Buy The Blades boxset here.

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The poster in a recent post on archives and the burning of the Four Courts reminded me to root out this old punch cartoon upstairs.

Taken from the July 12th 1922 edition of Punch, or the London Charivari, it shows the ‘Spirit of the Law’ in discussion with a menacing looking republican figure, with the smouldering remains of the Four Courts in the background.

Spirit of Law (To Irish Rebel): “You may have destroyed my courts and my records, but you have not destroyed me!”

At least two thirds of Come Here To Me will be at this, feel free to say hello.

Here is that poster one more time, as posted by jaycarax

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From the time the bus left Dublin, until the time it came to a halt at Eyre Square, we must have passed a dozen Supermacs. Right on the far side of Eyre Square is a sort of mammoth Supermacs, the big daddy of the Supermacs world, Super-Supermacs even. Walking down Shop Street and we hear one teenager shout at another “I told him I’d meet him at 3 in Supermacs…”

Outside Dublin, it’s the centre of commerce and community.


We didn’t leave Dublin for Galway to just look at different branches of Supermacs. That would be a waste. Rather, we took off for the Blog Awards 2010. You may have heard about them. See that thing on the right up top? The badge of honour? Yeah. If you know us in ‘real life’ you might have heard us discuss them too. Might have.

We were up for Best Group Blog, and myself and jaycarax made the trek. hxci was on a stag trip, but two out of three ain’t bad as they say. The Blog Awards surpassed our expectations without doubt, a fancy fancy fancy affair, with plenty of free rum, nice food and friendly faces. The best kind.

Did we win? No. Still, for a blog so new to get so far so quick is encouraging. I’ll leave it to the lads to say whatever they want to below, as I don’t want to speak for others, but we’ve had the support and backing of a great group of people so far, many more familiar with the blogging world than ourselves. We are the newbies of course, but we’re very content and energetic newbies too.

Finally, the Galway thanks.

To all at the Blog Awards, you run a tight ship. An unsinkable one too. To all the other blogs who were competing, and to all the other interested bloggers who just came along, thanks for making the night so memorable. Well done to all the victorious blogs too. The Roisin Dubh pub deserves a mention just for being bloody brilliant. A few vodka blackcurrants, a good dancefloor and drunkenly dancing/singing along to Animal Collective can fix anything.

In short, it was great.

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Spotting these lads around the city lately, this snap is from outside Stephens Green shopping centre. Bless.

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Just a quick post, two fantastic images from an Irish History Workshop/ Saotharlann Staire Éireann workshop report dealing with a Dublin History Workshop at Liberty Hall between the tenth and the twelfth of March, 1978. The workshop report was found hiding in the wrong section at the recent Trinity College Dublin booksale. It includes the text of varied reports given at the conference such as Dr O’ Connor Lysaght’s talk on ‘The Munster Soviet Creameries’ and Margaret Ward’s presentation on ‘The Ladies Land League’

(l-r: Miriam Daly, Matt Merrigan, Nora Connolly O’ Brien, Jack Gannon)

The inside page notes that Miriam Daly was “the victim of a sectarian assasination” between the time of the conference and the time of publication, and that Nora Connolly O’ Brien, daughter of James Connolly, had passed away since the conference.

From the symposium ‘The Relevance of Connolly’

Matt Merrigan (Dist. Sec. ATGWU, Socialist Labour Party)
Dr. Noel Browne T.D
Miriam Daly (Queens University and Irish Republican Socialist Party)
Nora Connolly O’ Brien
Michael O’ Riordan (Gen. Sec. Communist Party of Ireland)

An interesting photo this, from page 54 of the report.

4/5.11.1978 Dublin. Dublin History Workshop

(l-r: Michael McInerney, Sheila Humphries (Sighle Bean Ui Dhonnchada), Babs O’ Donoghue, George Gilmore)

Snapped outside Liberty Hall, this is just a great shot.

Sheila Humphries of course was a key member of Cumann na mBán at the time of (and long before) the Republican Congess who, along with Eithne Coyle, had become involved with the new venture before leaving due to unease within CnamB with their involvement.

George Gilmore was a key player in the foundation of the Republican Congress, who resigned from the IRA at the same time as Frank Ryan and Peadar O’ Donnell.

I would welcome information on Michael and Babs, who complete this fantastic shot.

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I’ve only just finished Donal Ó Drisceoil’s incredible biography of the “grand old man” of the Irish left, Peadar O’ Donnell.

Peadar, living until 93 years of age, had been involved in Saor Éire and the Republican Congress, two majorly important moments in the history of left-republicanism. He founded The Bell (An Irish literary magazine) and wrote a number of novels such as Proud Island and The Big Windows in his lifetime too. His story is an interesting one, from the smaller details (The influence of a ‘Wobbly’ trade unionist brother returning from the U.S to the household in his younger days,for example) to the major moments, like his time in Mountjoy prision (in the company of men like Liam Mellows)

Mountjoy Prison brings us onto another interesting character, Paul Robeson.

Robeson, of course, was a famous American actor, singer, writer and political activist, who even toured Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

Paul Robeson (1898-1976)

On page 103 of O’ Drisceoil’s biography of O’ Donnell, an interesting story is told of Peadar O’ Donnell’s time in the United States, some of which was spent moving in communist political and social circles.

The legend goes that:

Peadar was stranded at a roadside with a burst tyre when a limousine stopped and offered help. He was invited to sit in the car by the passenger while the driver fixed the puncture.The passenger turned out to be Paul Robeson, who told Peadar that he would like to record an Irish song. O’ Donnell suggested Kevin Barry, the ballad glorifying the young IRA man hanged by the British in 1920, which he said conveyed the spirit of Ieland. He procceded to teach the song to Robeson, who released it on record in the early 1950s

Here it is, found on Youtube of course . Fantastic. That Robeson voice.
Uploaded by YouTube User DoYouRemember1001 (I don’t go in for that slideshow lark ;) )

Amazingly, in 1972, Leonard Cohen sang the song in Dublin at the National Stadium. Sadly,there was no repeat on either occasion when I got to see the great man.

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Need some yelp?

I’ve recently started reviewing pubs, restaurants and shops on the Dublin section of Yelp. I can’t remember how I found the website originally but I’m glad I did now.

Yelp is a “social networking, user review and local search” website. In short, people review things. Imagine a more ambitious version of TripAdvisor.

After only a few reviews, I started getting ‘compliments’ from various people. One person sent me the following message, “Your reviews deserve a “hidden gems” list! Seriously, these are some stellar reviews. Can’t wait to read more!”, someone else sent me this, “I am bookmarking your reviews for my summer Dublin trip! Thanks for the crazy cool insider info!!”.

The cynic in me thought that these compliments were from fake, automated profiles run by Yelp to make new users feel important and persuade them to stick around.

It turns out I was wrong.

I’m slowly finding out that Yelp (especially Dublin) has a really healthy, active, friendly online community.

I’ve only written up 10 reviews but have already had friend requests from 8 people, received 12 different compliment messages and 31 ‘review votes’ (when someone lets you know that they’ve found your review Useful [19], Funny [2], and Cool [10]).

The Dublin users of Yelp have already started organising real life events. The first, a meet & greet with the (volunteer) Yelp Dublin manager, is happening this Friday in Le Cirk. Though I won’t be able to make it this time around, I hear there are plans to organise more regular Yelp Dublin events.

Honest reviews of businesses by real people living and working Dublin can only be a good idea. Why not give Yelp a go?

A section of the Dublin Yelp homepage.

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So, the calendar timing of these things is getting a little looser, I confess. It doesn’t seem too long since the last one to me (Or my wallet) but the Sunday after Saint Patrick’s Day was set for my second pubcrawl. A bad week for the ATM.

On my first pub crawl, of pubs six to ten, they were all a bit pretty. Davy Byrnes? A great, famous pub ideal for a ‘Sunday lunch and a pint’ combination. Doheny and Nesbitts? You might catch your local T.D at the counter. Lovely pubs, guidebook pubs, polished and presented pubs.

Trips over the Liffey have been rare. Limited to one pub crawl before this, (with visits to Frank Ryan’s and The Cobblestone) that side of town hasn’t really got a look in. This pubcrawl, for that very reason, was a Northside only one.

The Celt, Talbot Street. Photo by flickr user sandraarrell

The Celt, on Talbot Street, is a funny one.

I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it there before in all truth. Pointed out by a friend (The recurring Come Here To Me character, Simon) who had a good night there before, it seemed worth the gamble. This pubcrawl had a few new additions among the faces present, and Oisin and Alan made first time appearances with us here, adding to the usual suspects. A handful of us had been here before, others had not. Great mix.

To the right of the bar, I spot a large, framed picture of Michael Collins. Not unusual in any Irish pub.

What is unusual, is that to the left of Collins, there’s a picture of Liam Lynch, a leading figure in the Anti Treaty movement. Clever barman that, you’ll never lose on both sides of a fence!

The pints (Guinness, naturally. At €4.40 a pint. General agreement they’re good pints too) arrive and we take a seat behind the musicians. This pub boasts of its live music across the week, and it was nice to walk in somewhere at half five on a Sunday evening and hear it, relaxed and in the corner. The playlist was a bit random, with the musicians going from Neil Young covers to whipping out Tin Whistles, but all in all I’m a fan of live music in pubs providing it’s in any way half decent.

Between songs I pick up on a funny sound and can’t quite gather what it is. Two budgies, in a cage by the bar. Why the fuck not, really. The pub is nicely decorated with some interesting odds and ends, and the stone slabbed floor and fireplace add to the places character. It is pointed out by two of the lads that The Celt does good food too, but it’s a bit early for that. Kebabs await later, more likely.

So, we leave The Celt (and a friendly barman, thanking us for dropping the glasses back up to the bar. Something I’ve always done without thinking) and take off on the long walk towards Croke Park. So far, our Northside day out is going swimmingly.

the Red Parrot, Dorset Street. Photo by flickr user xtopalopagueti

The Red Parrot is up next. No, no, no trip to Fagans today. I’ve no doubt people expected it on the walk up Dorset Street, but I’ve different plans today. This is a locals pub in as much a sense as any pub can be. Walking in the door to the bar, the place is a mix of old and young faces (Some very young, scoffing crisps into themselves) and the atmosphere is very much laid back.

The pint, at €4, is a bargain. I can’t spot anyone drinking anything else (Bar the prior mentioned crisp scoffers, who are on the fizzies, duh) which is always a good sign.

The pub is just that. It is a pub. It has tables. It has chairs. It has pints. It won’t blow you away, but it does its job and people obviously enjoy coming here. The place is clean, there is no rubbish blaring music or annoyances, and the regulars are happy enough and don’t seem to mind day trippers either. One of few pubs in the area that doesn’t seem to be too much of a ‘Croke Park Pub’ image wise. Thumbs up.

Right across the road from The Red Parrot, is Patrick McGraths.

I have learned from this pubcrawl to ALWAYS carry a camera, as McGraths would prove the first internet image search nightmare to date. The yellow one. On the corner. This snap is by flickr user tarts larue

This pub was greatly enlarged a few years back, and I can see it being a busy one on match days. Apparently the place is unrecognisable from its previous incarnation in some ways, and I’m fond of this one pretty soon after walking in the door. A sliding door seperates the bar from the lounge, and the place is enjoying the custom of four or five similar sized groups to our own, as well as a few heads along the bar. It’s all moving very slowly here, and it’s a quiet pub too. A good thing, on a Sunday evening.

The pints? You’re here for the pints afterall.

Fine. So fine, that while on paper the crawl is always a ’1 pub, 1 pint’ thing, seconds are ordered here.A good bit of time is spent here, in a pub everyone finds most agreeable. Is there much going on on the walls? Not really, no. The decoration is minimal. Still, the lighting, seating arrangements etc. create a lovely atmosphere. I believe the pints were around €4.50, sadly the order was a mess of crisps, Pringles and whatever you’re having yourself. This was probably my favourite pint of the day.

Still, there’s work at hand. Time to move on. Up the road to the ATM (Jesus, the ATM) and on again. We’re now joined by Angela, who joins a tiny, tiny band of ‘women who have gone on a Come Here To Me pubcrawl’

We do invite them, honestly.

While W.J Kavanaghs seems to be hiding from Google, Yahoo, Flickr and everywhere else, just look out for the bottle of this (surprisingly half decent) whiskey in the window of the Dorset Street boozer. Tacky as it comes.

It’s W.J Kavanaghs time. Purely on a hunch this one was picked. I’d heard it was one of the best pubs on Dorset Street, and it is well known for a good breakfast (Bit late in the day…)

There’s a pub in the area that proudly boasts of being a ‘Gastro pub’ (Go away), but this is the kind of pub I like. A mix of old and young faces, a friendly barman awaited us and half a box of crisps seemed to find its way to the table too. Between a Bulmers drinker and a Corona drinker, things were looking a little different to normal. A friend of one of the lads adds a pint of something that isn’t Guinness (!) to the table and we’re now about as diverse as that Abrakebabra ad from five years back (You’ve got the whole world….)

The black stuff is good. Bargain town stuff Monday to Friday too, at €3.50 before a certain time in the evening. I wish I remember the details. Some day, I will be like a journalist and carry a notepad and all that business.

Honestly, I would condemn a bad pint if I got one on a pub crawl, and I think maybe the pub crawl in question just got lucky, but these pints were great. Again, seconds are ordered here (and I think in some cases thirds) and the cosy spot in the corner is occupied for a good hour or so. This is how you lose a pub crawl, when it becomes a pub sit-in.

There seems to be flashy lights (not much, mind) and a Rod Stewart track coming from the back of the pub, a sort of Dead Disco nobody is paying any attention too. Pubs like this should avoid that lark. This pub is buzzing with the sound of chat and laughter and doesn’t need anything else. In fact, I wonder if anyone else at the table even picked up on the sound. The walls are well decorated and not at all tacky, and the pub clean and well presented. Another unfaultable barman, you’d wonder if the pubs knew we were coming in advance today (imagine).

I can see a return performance here some night. I’m chuffed with the Dorset Street/Drumcondra gamble so far, and it’s all make or break now at the last hurdle, Mayes.

Mayes of Dorset Street. Photo from flickr user Ian_Russell

I’ve always loved the Guinness clock feature on the front of this pub,but never ventured inside. Apparently this was once quite a popular pub with Dublin politicos(I would guess due to the Teachers Club also being in the area) and being located only a stonesthrow from O’ Connell Street, I’m not sure why I’ve never ended up here before.

The pints are again right up to scratch, and being the last pub of the night, consumed in good numbers. I order a vodka (!SACRILEGE!) and relax, content with how the evening has gone. The pub is laid back, with a number of (what appear to be) locals at the bar and a few small groups scattered about. Like with The Red Parrot earlier it would be hard to say anything too amazing about the place, and yet it is a great pub. It does the job. The barman even popped over with a free toasted sandwich, brilliant. (The fact Oisin had to remind me of this TODAY is an indication of where I was at by that stage)

So now, it’s end of the night stuff. It goes past eleven on a Sunday ‘evening’, and a half five pub crawl can be deemed a success. The bus is gone. Let it go. Maybe we need to start earlier, who knows. I think our new recruits had fun, and that’s all that matters. Certainly, the pubs today were of different stock to those done before. In some cases, there’s very little you can say about these pubs. They’re good at what they do.

We’re a pub. Simple.

This should be over the doors of a few of them.

Fagans of Drumcondra, as hxci threatened in his article on barstool football fans, remains unvisited. Us little people don’t forget ;)

Fagans of Drumcondra, snap by flickr user MacGBeing

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We are big fans of Damien Dempsey on this Blog, so much so that if you go back through our history, I think theres three or four articles about the man. Last week he played a show in The Good Bits, as advertised on here, and support game from a good friend of mine, Ciarán Lenehan; If you haven’t heard of him, you will- he was picked by Dempsey himself to support after seeing him play a couple of songs in Peadar Kearneys. After his set, with Ciarán was tucking into a pint, Dempsey walked up to him and said “I don’t know what it is, but you have it…” True story.

I was given a disk of tracks by Ciarán a couple of years back and remember being blown away; I knew him in his days in Lugosi and Ellentic, and wasn’t expecting this sound from him, not by a long shot. A mix of new and old, trad and punk; think Frank Turner crossed with the man he supported at the gig below:

Anyways. Enough of me gushing praise, theres a dozen or so videos of him on the Youtube, or you can get some tracks here, or on his Myspace.

For those interested, Ciarán plays upstairs in Whelans on the 7th of April. I, for one, will be there.

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Front page article End Army Scabbery reproduced in full below introduction.

A nice find this, a copy of Class Struggle (the paper of the Irish Workers Group) from 1988, during the Dublin Fire Brigade strike. Up top there is an ad for a public meeting on the subject of ‘Gorbachev and the Irish Left’ and those wishing to subscribe to the paper are told to address their envelopes to a certain ‘J.Larkin’. The paper also features a lengthy piece on the situation in Palestine at the time.

The Irish Workers Group (Workers Power) emerged out of the Socialist Workers Movement in the 1970s.

” It was formed as a separate organisation after being expelled from that group in 1976. It affiliated to the League for the Fifth International (L5I). By the 2000s, it had ceased producing Class Struggle, its publication, instead distributing the publications of the Workers Power group in Britain. The group was active in several places in Ireland, notably Dublin, Derry and Galway, and, amongst others, published a book on James Connolly”
(sourced from Wikipedia)

This newspaper was handed to my father on route to a Union meeting in Liberty Hall during the dispute. I’ve always been intrigued by the strike for a variety of reasons. While troubles raged in the North for example, firemen from Derry stood outside Dublin firestations with signs proclaiming ‘Londonderry FBU Support Dublin Firefighters’. Despite media smear campaigns, the workers managed to hold some degree of popular support, and perhaps nothing was more poignant than the sight of relatives of Stardust fire victims supporting the Brigades workforce.

(Article from front page, on Fire Brigade strike)

End Army Scabbery!

Union officialdom gave lavish notice to the state before the fire strike to enable them to organise a complete alternative service for the capital. Hundreds of soldiers driving Civil Defence tenders and ambulances are now engaged in the most systematic military scabbing operation since the lengthy bus strike of five years ago.

Union officialdom in fact relies on the state to do precisely this so as to take the cutting edge off the workers’ own direct action, exhausting the strikes and making sellouts and compromises eaiser for them to engineer in their private negotiations. But the issue is too important to be left at this. Every time the state is let get away with army strike-breaking, a nail is hammered into the coffin for the organised working class.

The savage attacks of the ruling class that lie ahead in the increasingly unstabble conditions of capitalism demand that we begin to act now with the sharpest possible response to neutralise the strike breaking capacity of the state whose ultimate logic can carry it into armed assaults and internment of workers in severe cases.

Resolutions and public statements must be issued from every level of the trade union movement, attacking the army action and demanding all out union action to stop it. Anti working class actions of the kind by the bosses state have a significance vastly greater than the breaking of one particular strike. They add up to a question of life and death in the long run for the fighting ability of our class against capitalism, and they demand a militant class wide fight up to the level of indefinite general strike if neccessary.

Victory to the Firefighters!

For A National Firefighters Strike!

All Local Authority Workers Out Now In Support!

For National Trade Union Action To Break The Army Scabbery!

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