by Ciaron O’Reilly
Last night I went to see Ken Loach/ Paul Lavety’s latest effort, the film “Route Irish”. I was invited along by a friend, Ben Griffin, who is an Iraq S.A.S. combat veteran.
For most of my anti- war activist life the word “veteran” would conjure images of older guys from my town who had fought in WW2 in New Guinea and also recently returned Vietnam Veterans. I grew up sharing a back fence with the second largest military base in Australia – “Gallipoli Barracks”/ Enoggera, Brisbane, Australia.
My mother had three uncles who went through Enoggera to the faraway imperial killing fields of WW1. While my father’s parents were busy fighting British occupation forces in Ireland, my mother’s uncles were serving the British war effort in faraway (from Australia) Europe and Turkey. Go figure? When my mother’s uncles were in the Australian Army it was named the “Australian Imperial Forces”. It did what is said on the tin – went anywhere anytime to service British imperialism, Forced British imperialism down the throats of the locals from its first away from home outing in the 1800’s putting down the Maori in Aotearoa/NZ to turning up late for the scrap in Khartoum, the Boer War in South Africa, off to China to put down the Boxer Rebellion, failing in the invasion of the USSR at the tail end of WW1,
When I was growing up the Australian Army had changed gears and its name and and was busy servicing U.S. imperialism in Vietnam, after doing one final gig for the British in the Malay counter insurgency. In recent years, when in Australia and staying with my mum at our old house I have conducted a weekly anti-war vigil outside the barracks, watching the latest crop of cannon fodder shipping out from Enoggera to Iraq and Afghanistan. Same old same old….same kids being lied to and exploited in their prime, same indifference from the average Aussie as the occasional body bag rolls home from Afghanistan.Australian Labor/Green or Liberal Party governments it makes no difference as we say at home “same shit, different flies!”
“Route Irish is a fine film here’s a review by a Jesuit (the brains trust of the Catholic Church…12 years of higher education before ordination, they must know something by now?) and a 3 min trailer.. http://thinkingfaith.org/articles/FILM_20101105_3.htm
Our crew of 11 at the cinema last night included a few ex-military, also ambulance workers, West Ham, Tottenham, West Ham, another Man. United fan and enthusiastic cricketers. When we hit the pub after the screening, Ben was a bit limited in conversation, as he lives under a Ministry of Deference (M.O.D.) gag order and will go to prison if he says anything about his experiences in Iraq or the British military. We know this about Ben thanks to Wikipedia……
So we talked football and cricket. I’ve just become an international sports agent securing my younger brother Brendan O’Reilly a spot on the “London Marshes Select”. I sealed the deal with the clincher “My brother Brendan, soon to join us at the London Catholic Worker, bowled out Stuart Law at high school!” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Law
Ken Loach and Paul Laverty are really decent blokes. You should track down everything they’ve done and watch it….”My Name is Joe” is a classic! London Catholic Worker http://londoncatholicworker.org/ Zelda is one of Paul’s first efforts with Robert Carlyle “Carla’s Song” set in Nicaragua in the ’80s!
Do yourself a favour go see “Route Irish”, the movie. Be compassionate with and support military veterans exploited by our governments in their youth and abandoned on the streets and in the prisons by the state (8,000 of the 80,000 British prisoners are ex-military). More U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War committed suicide on returning then were killed in Vietnam.
Support military resisters when they surface http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/ The mainstream British peace organisations exploited Ben and then abandon him to the High Court, they didn’t accompany him to trial and he was left with a 50 grand legal bill for speaking out. They are now abandoning Bradley Manning http://www.bradleymanning.org/ to torture. Find those serious about nonviolently resisting the war and pro-active solidarity with resisters rather than the “anti-war/peace” organisations who just see the war as another great marketing opportunity to make some cash, raise their public profile or push their marginal political agendas. You know who they are! You know who we are! Find us, accompany us, support us. I truly believe if 1% of the people who marched against the war went to jail for nonviolently resisting it and he other 99% proactively supported them – fed the cat, donated, dealt with the hysterical parents – we would have (can still do) stopped the war!
Sunday March 20  Ben and I will be going to the U.S. Embassy in London at 2pm to make a stand with Bradley Manning. Jeff Patterson and other U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will be heading to Quantico Virginia where Bradley is being tortured, Paul Laverty is wearing his Bradley Manning badge and speaking out for Bradley at all his press conferences promoting “Route Irish”. Do what you can, don’t give up, don’t settle down, don’t get cynical, speak out, act up. Nonviolent resistance and solidarity with those resisting is what is needed now, the rest is decorative! We can stop this war! Watch “Route Irish” and keep on the streets!
“The poor tell us who we are,
The prophets tell us who we could be,
So we hide the poor,
And kill the prophets.”