Monthly Archives For March 2013

Public Talk on the Irish Revolution and the Labour Movement in Sligo 1912 – 1923

, , Comment Closed

The historian and author Dr Michael Farry, will give an interesting talk on the role and activities of the labour and trade union movement in Sligo during the war of independence and the civil war; in the Glasshouse Hotel, Sligo, on Wednesday 20th March at 8.00.p.m.

The title of the lecture, which is being held under the auspices of United Left – People First is “The Irish revolution and the labour movement in Sligo 1912-1923”.

Cllr Declan Bree will preside at the event which is open to the public.

Dr Farry who is a native of Coolaney, Co Sligo, has published a number of books dealing with the period. His most recent book “The Irish Revolution 1912-23 Sligo” was published last November.

Read Post →

Editorial: LookLeft Issue 15, March 2013

, , Comment Closed

Editorial: LookLeft Issue 15, March 2013

“I am, of course, aware that the ultimate solution is the ownership and control of the means of life by the whole of the people; but we are not at that stage of development as yet.”

— James Larkin

Across Europe, progressive political forces have yet to find an adequate response to the rightwing onslaught on the public good which has been unleashed since 2008.

The neo-liberal agenda, which the right uses to disguise the capitalist grab for more power and resources, has over 30 years permeated our political, media, academic and cultural worlds.

In Ireland this problem has been exacerbated still further by the historic success of deeply conservative forces in undermining the development of progressive and working class institutions.

Read Post →

Atheism in Ireland and the Decline of the Catholic Church

, , 2 Comments

It is generally considered a truism these days to state that from the foundation of the Republic, the Catholic Church has had a large part to play in the running of the country. Legislation was passed or defeated on the whims of Catholic interests, social norms and conventions were passed down from the pulpit to the worshippers in the pews, and most shamefully, thousands of women and children were forced into what was essentially slave labour in the country’s Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries. However, the attitude of many towards the Church has changed dramatically over the last twenty or so years, no doubt caused by the revelations of what went on in the Industrial Schools, Magdalene Laundries, along with the revelations of a vast conspiracy to cover up allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children being carried out by members of the clergy. The Church as an institution, for all its posturing statements over the last number of years, will have to do something drastic if it is to recover from the various scandals that have hit it and continue to do so. One can clearly chart its decline in some of the latest figures regarding religious worship in Ireland.

In the 2011 census, a total of 3,861,335 people, 81.4 per cent of the population, declared themselves as Catholic, a 4.9 per cent increase since the 2006 census, when 3,681,446 people identified themselves as such. Yet, regarding this increase, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) stated, “that while the number of Catholics overall increased by 179,889, or 4.9 per cent, since 2006 much of this increase came from the non-Irish (mostly European) national community.” On the other hand, those identifying as having no religion increased by 45 per cent, up from 186,318 in 2006, to 269,811 in 2011. When broken down further in a separate CSO document, 72,914 did not state their religion, or lack of, with another 3,905 and 3,521 people stating Atheist and Agnostic respectively as their religion. As anyone remotely familiar with the religious demographics of Ireland will tell you though, the number of “true Catholics” is likely to be far smaller than the 81.4 per cent noted in the 2011 census. This can be seen in a range of areas.

Read Post →

Audio: “How can women defeat austerity?” Selma James’ Talk at Maynooth, 13 March 2013

, , Comment Closed

“How can women defeat austerity?” – Selma James at Maynooth, 13 March 2013

An MA Community Education, Equality and Social Activism podcast, available on the Community Education, Equality and Social Activism (CEESA) website here.

Founder of the Wages for Housework campaign and coordinator of the Global Women's Strike, Selma James brought a lifetime of movement experience to bear in this electrifying talk. Asked to speak to organisers' needs in the current crisis, she spoke to a roomful of 30 activists and researchers passionately, clearly and incisively for an hour without notes.

To understand austerity, we have to understand the struggles which gave birth to the welfare state, the poverty which went before it and the attacks it has been under since the 1970s, and the first part of her talk tackled these themes. In the second part she discussed the weaknesses of movements since that time in responding to the attacks: how NGOisation has demobilised movements and left them dependent on funders, far-left parties try to substitute themselves for popular action while social-democratic parties simply represent a slower attack on people's basic needs. In the third and final part she discussed the urgency of building a broader movement which does not see class and gender, anti-racism or environmental survival, as separate and opposed issues. A lively and engaged discussion followed.

Read Post →

Dave Lordan’s New Short Story Collection: First Book of Frags

, , Comment Closed

Dave Lordan has a new collection of stories coming out called First Book of Frags, published by Wurm Press. You can pre-order copies here.

A book of explosive short fiction from the author of The Boy in the Ring and Invitation to a Sacrifice. First Book of Frags is a projectile flung at convention, capital, and ultimately, civilisation itself.

Some early reactions….

“A new form brings a new kind of fury. Pitched somewhere between the short story and the narrative poem, Frags delivers fragments and stark narrative incisions knitted together by a darkly satirical and formally challenging twenty-first century tone of political urgency. Frags shows up the jaded politico-economic media excursus on the recession and its discontents for the white noise that it is. Whether it is the Orwellian “Street Party”, the vitriolic David Foster Wallace-like “Living in Ikea”, the Beckettian Irish stew of “A Bone”, or the Bolanoesque “Dr. Essler’s Cocaine” the crafted howl of Frags rarely lets up. Cathleen Ni Houlihan is a scavenging Kathleen who sleeps on a “rained on mattress in the woods surrounded by empty wine bottles,” the Iron Lady has been melted down, and Ireland’s Kafkaesque educated unemployed who ponder justice have been transformed into flies, not cockroaches. Dave Lordan’s surreal yet scathing sketches of suffering, violence and ear-splitting silence should capture the hungry imagination of a disillusioned majority.” — Michael O’Sullivan

“echoes of James Joyce and Angela Carter”–Nuala Ní Chonchuir

Read Post →

The Biggest Symptom of a Problem

, , Comment Closed

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK have today released regional economic indicators. By bringing together data from a variety of sources, they provide a partial but very useful snapshot of where the economy under the jurisdiction of the Northern Ireland Assembly sits in relation to the British economy. The entire dataset is here and is very useful.

Below is the ONS chart on employment.

Oddly, repeated attempts to copy the full chart failed because the last item on the legend (directly below Scotland) kept dropping off. It’s Northern Ireland. In the chart, it is the orange line. Clearly, someone at ONS has a sense of humour.

Read Post →

The March issue of Socialist Voice is out now.

, , Comment Closed

The March issue of Socialist Voice is out now.

Can be viewed as a PDF here or view it online.

Table of contents:

  • Workers continue to pay the price [EMC]
  • The passing of a hero
  • Austerity hits local services [MA]
  • Theft by stealth—the solution of the rich [MA, JA]
  • The super-rich dine at our expense [NL]
  • Women written out of history [PD]
  • Launch of the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum
  • Democracy and the crisis—Part 2 [FC]
  • Spain swings to the left [TMS]
  • Western commentators shocked by their own darling [BG]
  • New abusive measure against one of the Cuban Five
  • The hunt for truth [RCN]
  • Belfast’s working-class troubadour [RH]
  • A fantastic sixty minutes of drama [PD]

From the lead article: Workers continue to pay the price

We need to constantly keep to the fore the following question: What is austerity designed to do?

It is for shifting the burden of crisis onto workers and away from capital, through pay cuts, redundancies, and the socialisation of corporate debt where necessary. Austerity is capitalism’s response to the crisis: to recover growth through increased exploitation and provide state-led guarantees to private investment.

Croke Park I and II are an extension of “social partnership.” Mentally, the ICTU still sees things in terms of giving away rights to placate the interests of the bosses.

Read Post →

Rosie Hackett Bridge Campaign

, , Comment Closed

Thanks to Therese for sending this on
There are currently 16 bridges over the river Liffey in Dublin’s city centre. 13 of these bridges are named after men and not one is named after a women. We are calling on Dublin City council to name the new bridge the Rosie Hackett Bridge. We believe, that in this, the 100 year anniversary of the 1913 lock out that we pay tribute to the many women who made a huge contribution to the labour movement over the last 100 years.

Born in 1892 she became a messenger in Jacob’s biscuit factory in Dublin. She joined the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union when it was founded in 1909 and less than a year later she was one of 3,000 women in the factory who went on strike and won a pay rise. An activist, she encouraged the women yet again to join in the epic labour struggle – the 1913 Dublin Lockout which lasted more than four months – and saw some 20,000 workers on strike. When she was dismissed from Jacob’s factory she trained as a printer.

She was one of the small group who endeavoured to print the 1916 Proclamation on a faulty printing press and brought the first copy, still damp, to James Connolly.

Read Post →

Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum

, , Comment Closed

This month a group of socialist and republican activists from a variety of backgrounds throughout Ireland came together in Dublin to establish the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum. The concept of the forum arose from a series of seminars that in turn had their origin in a symposium on “Republicanism in the Twenty-First Century” hosted by the Communist Party in September last year.

The aim of the forum is to promote the ideas of socialist republicanism, as best expressed by James Connolly, Liam Mellows, and Peadar O’Donnell. The forum is named after Peadar O’Donnell in recognition of his outstanding role as a union organiser, republican soldier, author, enemy of fascism, friend of the worker and small farmer, committed socialist, and lifelong activist for peace and against imperialism.

At a time when our people are being ground down daily by the brutalities of the bankrupt capitalist system and the inability of the two failed states in Ireland to provide any solution to their problems, the Peadar O’Donnell Forum believes that the time has come for a decisive break with the present system—or, as Connolly so memorably put it, to set about the reconquest of Ireland.

All Ireland is under the domination of global capitalism and imperialism, which exercises its control through the machinery of the European Union and IMF, the direct intervention of the British state, and overt and covert US influence. This control is exercised at every level and in every area of life—economically, socially, politically, ideologically, culturally, and environmentally—and is welcomed, endorsed and facilitated by the domestic capitalist class, north and south, who have long ago given up any thought of creating a society that would “cherish all the children of the nation equally.”

Read Post →

Hitting the Lower Paid Even Harder

, , Comment Closed

This was originally posted on Unite's Croke Park Report blog.

The Government claims their proposed pay-cut deal is ‘fair and equitable’. They must have a strange idea of fairness and equity because when you drill down into the Euros and cents you find that the lower paid will be hit harder.

Let’s take the example of single person who works 10 Sundays a year. Currently they receive double-time. The proposed pay cut would reduce this to 1.75. The impact on gross incomes is the same across the income categories.

However, once you factor in the impact on disposable income (that is, after tax) the situation changes dramatically.

Those on lower pay will find they suffer a much higher impact on their take-home pay – a hit that many lower paid cannot afford or absorb. The reason for this is the interaction between the standard rate of tax and the top rate of tax. The Government, of course, is aware of this impact.

This trend will persist with couples – whether it is one or both spouses working. Those on the standard rate of tax will suffer a higher impact on their net income than those on the higher tax rate.

Read Post →

Irish Troops in Mali

, , 1 Comment

The government proposes to send eight Irish soldiers to Mali as part of a French-led EU intervention force in that country. According to Irish Times opinion writer Fintan O’Toole, this is all to the good – in a column entitled ‘This time it really is a war to save civilisation’, he writes that while the West has often got it wrong in the past, “Western powers… happen to be on the right side in a war in which the cultural stakes are very high”, citing alleged Malian rebel attacks on art and music. Nobody much will argue that these attacks are good things, or that there is not a pressing humanitarian crisis in Mali – the question is whether Western military intervention is an appropriate response to either.

For others, this latest Irish army deployment is seen as particularly positive because it will, for the first time, be carried out in conjunction with British forces (the Royal Irish Regiment). Justice and Defence Minister Alan Shatter has commented as follows:

“I believe that the provision of a joint UK/Ireland contingent is another step in the normalisation of relations between our two countries… In that sense it is a historic step and provides a tangible manifestation of the very positive relationship and the mutual respect that now exists between our countries.”

So what will this manifestation of mutual respect be doing, exactly? It will be providing military training and advice to an army that Human Rights Watch reports to be guilty of torture and summary executions, with the minority Tuareg group particularly targeted for abuses. This is the military that Irish and other European soldiers will be bolstering, though defenders of the deployment claim they will be training them in human rights (as well as map reading and marksmanship). What could possibly go wrong? After all, the leader of the 2012 coup that sparked the most recent crisis had been trained in the US, and look how well that worked out. (A Malian newspaper editor was recently arrested for criticising the salary of said coup leader). For once, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy had it right when he said that the French intervention was “supporting putschists”. When the fluff of ‘human rights training’ is brushed aside, the fact will remain that Ireland and its EU partners are enhancing the capacity of an army that is predisposed to carrying out coups, torture and executions.

Read Post →

China – the World’s Emerging Financial Superpower

, , Comment Closed

The US magazine Worth published a report with its analysis of who were the 100 most powerful people in global finance. Four were from China – Shang Fulin, Chair of China Banking Regulatory Commission; Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank of China; Lou Jiwei, Chair and CEO of China Investment Corporation and Jiang Jianqing, Chair of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). They were respectively ranked 14th, 15th, 27th and 31st.

That only four of China’s top financial figures were included in the list in fact showed how much understanding of the power of China’s financial and banking system still lags behind its reality. There are exceptions – for example Bloomberg journalists Henry Sanderson and Michael Forsythe in their recent book China’s Superbank simply stated that Chen Yuan, chair of China Development Bank, was ‘the world’s most powerful banker.’ But in banking it would seem Deng Xiaoping’s famous advice that China should ‘hide brilliance, cherish obscurity’ is alive and well.

This is a serious error, as will rapidly become apparent. To grasp the underlying dynamic of the global financial industry it should be grasped that it is a mistake to understand the strength of China’s economy by statistics such as that China produces as much steel as the next 38 countries combined, more cement than the rest of the world put together, that it is the world’s largest market for TVs, refrigerators, mobile phones, cars, or that it has more than twice as many internet users as the US. These figures are impressive but far from illustrating the real core of China’s economic power. The real center of China’s economic strength, which determines both its domestic and global expansion, is unparalleled financial strength.

Read Post →

DEFENDING CARING AND WELFARE IN CARELESS TIMES – Selma James at UCD

, , 1 Comment

PRAXIS and Equality Studies are proud to announce that a Communiversity event will take place on Tuesday March 12th 2013 2.30 – 4.30pm E114, UCD Newman (Arts) Building where renowned activist and author Selma James will address the theme DEFENDING CARING AND WELFARE IN CARELESS TIMES. The event comes at a time when austerity policies, triggered by the global economic meltdown, are devastating already-burdened communities. In particular, the rights and entitlements hard-won over the years by carers, overwhelmingly women, are being senselessly eroded. Despite all of this, care work and other work that women must do for the survival of families and communities continues, unabated and uncelebrated.

Selma James is known for coining the phrase “unwaged” in the 1970s to describe the unremunerated care work done almost universally by women. She continues to address these and other inequalities in her work, and information on her new book Sex, Race and Class, The Perspective of Winning: A Selection of Writings 1952-2011, is available at the end of this press release. She is co-author of the women's movement classic The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community. James founded the International Wages for Housework Campaign and is coordinator of the Global Women's Strike. She is also the widow and former colleague of influential historian CLR James.

Read Post →