Monthly Archives For April 2013

The Origins of May Day and Why it’s Relevant Today

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Originally posted on Irish Student Left Online on the 24th of April.

Eoin Griffin writes about the history of May Day and how we can use this focal point to reassess our own goals. On Wednesday, May 1st from 6:45PM at Parnell Square we'll be taking the energy that was part of last Monday's public meeting organised by the 1913 Unfinished Business Youth Bloc into the DCTU’s May Day march leaving Parnell Square at 7pm. What was it Oscar Wilde said about socialism and evenings? Sign up to the Facebook event here.

May Day holds a mythical position among the international workers and union movements. Its origins can be traced back to Australia in 1856 when stonemasons and builders in Melbourne downed tools on the 21st of April and marched on Parliament to demand an eight hour working day without any deterioration in pay. In 1884 the Chicago Labour Movement adopted the eight hour working day as their core demand, declaring that May 1st 1886 would mark the beginning of the 8 hour working day being a standard. They famously campaigned for this using the slogan “eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep, eight hours of recreation”. This slogan had first appeared in the UK during the Industrial Revolution.

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Trade Union TV: Save Our Woods

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Thousands walked in Avondale, Co. Wicklow- a re-alignment of old and young united to protect our natural resources & fight privatisation. Just an amazing day, hope the video captures a little bit of that.

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Belfast & District Trades Union Council Talk 2nd of May: Who Profits From Peace?

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Belfast & District Trades Union Council invite you to their Annual May Day Lecture:

Who Profits from Peace?

Thursday 2nd May at 7pm to 9pm

Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre

45/47 Donegall Street, Belfast , BT1 2FG

Will decent manufacturing jobs be replaced by low paid jobs in the finance and services industry?

The ‘double transition’ – towards peace and neo-liberalism – has been evident in the world of politics, finance, law and accountancy. This talk will examine who the winners and losers are in the peace process and will also explore ‘who really profits from peace?’

All welcome and talk will include a Q&A session.

Speaker: Dr Conor McCabe

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Provisional University: Talk by Peter Linebaugh plus contributions from research collectives based in Spain, Ireland, USA and the U.K.

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The Provisional University Presents…

A day of talks and discussions with acclaimed historian Peter Linebaugh, author of The Magna Carta Manifesto

plus research collectives based in Spain, Ireland, USA and the U.K.

Time: Saturday, May 18, 2013 11:00am until 5:00pm

Location: O’Connell House, 58 Merrion Square, Dublin 2

This event is open to the public and admission is free but booking is advised.


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The Deficit is Stagnating, Just Like the Economy

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The rest of the world seems to be suffering from austerity fatigue – apart from the Berlin and Dublin governments (and London too – but no-one is holding it up as a model for anything).

The Department of Finance tells us that the deficit is improving. DoF reports that the general government deficit fell from €22.4bn in 2009 to €12.4bn in 2012. But it is widely known that the impact of bailing out bank shareholders and bondholders has had a hugely distorting effect on public finances. Unfortunately, DoF does not show these effects in the same release as the overall government finances, and you need to go to a separate database to get these data.

Adding the two together produces a measure of the underlying deficit, excluding both costs and revenues from the bailout. It is regrettable DoF doesn’t do this itself. The table below shows the deficit excluding the effects of the bank bailout.

2009 2010 2011 2012
General Government Deficit -22.4 -48.3 -21.3 -12.5
Bank bailout net expenditure/receipts -3.8 -31.5 -5.7 +1.6
Underlying Deficit (excl. bank bailouts) -18.6 -16.8 -15.6 -14.1

Fig.1 – General Government Deficit Excluding Effects of Bailouts for Bank Shareholders and Bondholders, €bn. Source: Department of Finance

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Why Ireland’s 2008 Blanket Bank Guarantee Decision Was Taken: Part 3

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This article follows on from Why Ireland’s 2008 Blanket Bank Guarantee Decision Was Taken: Part 1 & Part 2.

Hindsight provides 20-20 vision, but in light of more recent events political spin and a sense of justifiable grievance can cloud the popular understanding of what happened in the past. There is, of course, the accuracy of the historical record to correct the flawed collective memory.

One ‘flawed memory’ is that the bailout by the Troika was forced on Ireland in order to ensure that money from Irish tax revenue was used to pay back French and German banks, and that since the bailout was a consequence of the guarantee, that it too was forced on Ireland by the ECB to ensure that European banks got their money back. At the time that the bailout was announced, Brian Lenihan began the process of conflating the terms and conditions of the program with the guarantee:

“There is simply no way that this country, whose banks are so dependent on international investors, can unilaterally renege on senior bondholders against the wishes of the ECB. Those who think we could do so are living in fantasy land.”

But when Irish politicians provided an unlimited guarantee the credibility of the guarantee and therefore its effectiveness in upholding the banking system depended on the willingness of the ECB to prevent a country from defaulting on its sovereign debt.

This is not to say that the actions of the ECB, its rules and structures or even the way that the single currency is arranged and the orthodox thinking that underpins it in the interests of private banking is correct or just. Far from it. However, a clear order of cause and effect must be followed, and the ECB is not responsible for the far reaching consequences of providing an unlimited guarantee.

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Why Ireland’s 2008 Blanket Bank Guarantee Decision Was Taken? Part 2

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This article follows on from Why Ireland’s 2008 Blanket Bank Guarantee Decision Was Taken: Part 1.

It is five years since the Irish government announced on the 30th of September 2008 that Ireland was going to provide an unlimited bank guarantee to six covered financial institutions. It’s important to remind ourselves of the context of that event. On the 15th of September 2008 Lehman Brothers collapsed and the subsequent credit crunch ensured that the international banking system was soon struggling to obtain interbank credit. Soon significant problems at European banks came to a head. Towards the end of September France, the Netherlands and Belgium injected €11.2bn into Fortis, Belgium's biggest bank and then, a couple of days later on the fateful 29th of Sept, the Netherlands was forced to take over Fortis’ Netherland operation at a cost of €16.8bn. By the 6th of October the German government had authorised a €50 billion rescue package in its second, and this time ‘successful’ attempt to rescue Hypo Real Estate Holdings. The first attempt was a week previously, again on the 29th of September.

The problems for Irish banks trying to access liquidity in the interbank market were not unique, but Ireland’s solution to resolve it differed considerably to that of every other country in the EU. In the weeks prior to the full guarantee the Irish government had already taken the decision to guarantee deposits up to €100,000. Up to that point deposit guarantees in the majority of European countries was just €20,000 with only Italy providing a deposit guarantee of 100,000. As a result of the Irish extension 97% of all customer deposits in the Irish banking system were fully guaranteed (Carswell, IT Oct 2008, see image below). Yet this wasn’t enough to stem the banking crisis and the loss of liquidity. At this time Anglo Irish Bank that was losing significant deposits of between €50 million and €200 million each, amounting to losses of €1 billion a day, causing Anglo to breach its regulatory liquidity ratio. Most of these deposits were borrowed from the short term money markets.

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Progressive Film Club, Sat 27th of April, Labour Rights and Immigrant Workers

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Progressive Film Club – at the New Theatre · 43 East Essex Street · Dublin 2 · Saturday 27th of April

Labour Rights and Immigrant Workers

Admission free. (Donations welcome.)

2 p.m.
Irish premiere

Living as Brothers (2012)

Living as Brothers looks at the lives of Jamaican migrant workers toiling in the orchards of Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada. In their own words, these men, some of whom have been returning for more than twenty years, tell of the second life they have created for themselves in Canada, the reasons for their making this journey, and their struggles at home in rural Jamaica. Told over a season of picking fruit, their story is arduous, stressful, and precarious, one that offers few second chances. · Produced and directed by Kevin Fraser.

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1913 Unfinished Business, Youth Bloc: We’re Not Leaving’: Public Meeting, Monday, April 29th, 7PM – Wynn’s Hotel

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1913 Unfinished Business, Youth Bloc is hosting

We're Not Leaving': public meeting of young people to fight forced emigration.

Monday, April 29th, 7PM – Wynn's Hotel, Lower Abbey Street.

Paul Dillon (Unite Youth); DaraAnn O'Malley (Student Officer, Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation); David Gibney (Mandate Youth); Laura McKenna (SIPTU Youth); Derek Keenan (Chair, Communication Workers' Union Youth); Seamus Reynolds (President, NUI Maynooth Students' Union).

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The Left Forum – Who, What, When, Where and Why?

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The First Left Forum will be held in the Teacher’s Club, Parnell Square, on May 18th 2013. In the call out the Forum states:

“We have had five years of crisis, five years where no alternative has been able to win support despite the obvious failures of the current political and economic regime, with serious human and environmental consequences.

Can we do better? Can the Left win widespread support for our ideas and build an alternative society? Can we make socialism more than a nice idea? The Left Forum invites you to contribute your views on the state of progressive politics and to discuss how we can do better.

The forum will be participatory and exploratory, and will aim to ask and answer key questions about what levels of political agreement are possible, what forms of organisation are useful and what tactics and strategies will be effective. We hope that you will join us and help define the future of the Left in Ireland”

This has led to some questions, firstly who is the Left Forum? Is it another front? What ideas do you mean, what exactly is ‘participatory’ and ‘inclusive’ and haven’t we heard all of this before?

Who are we?

The Left forum is an initiative that has been launched by the old United Left Alliance reading group in DCU, (now renamed the Left Forum DCU). While small the membership is diverse representing many trends of the Irish left. The group includes ex members of the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers’ Party, The Workers Solidarity Movement, The Workers Party, the Communist Party as well as the non-affiliated. Though the various group members very much recognise the different strengths of the various organisations we believe that for both objective and subjective reasons that these groups (certainly alone) do not offer all the answers. The group originally came together as the DCU branch of the United Left Alliance and this initiative has partly comes as a result of the implosion of the alliance and the gap left in the political spectrum by its demise, including the political space available independent left activists.

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Alternative Proposals

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Alternative Proposals

the Fine Gael health minister proposes a panel of two obstetricians

and four psychiatrists – one of whom must be a perinatal psychiatrist –

to assess a woman who is seeking an abortion on the grounds of suicide

ideation…there are only three perinatal psychiatrists in the country

The Sunday Times, April 21st, 2013


Any woman of child bearing hips,

unfortunate enough to find herself

alive on the patch of weeds between Muff

and Kilmuckridge, or Skibbereen

and Hackballs Cross, must,

to have her baby/babies

legally abhorted, obtain, before she kills her

self, without bribery or offer of

sexual favours, the signatures

of six former members

of the Irish National Liberation Army;

six personal friends of Shane Ross;

six random guys shouting

obscenities in the street;

six women from Barna

who thought Michael D’s speech

last week to the European Parliament

was absolutely marvellous;

six Sean Nós dancers in residence

at accredited universities,

six plumbers who’ll definitely be there

first thing Tuesday morning,

six Dutch guys from Doolin

who make their own clogs, or

six ex-members of the pop group




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AlJazeera English: Firms enjoy tax haven in bankrupt Ireland

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A recent AlJazeera English report called Firms enjoy tax haven in bankrupt Ireland which uses a short excerpt from the recent Anarchist Bookfair IFSC walk tour.

Ireland is one of the country’s that’s been hardest hit by Europe’s debt crisis.But amid the austerity, billions of dollars are still flowing in and out of the economy.The problem for Ireland is that it is not collecting much of a share of the money. Laurence Lee reports from Dublin.

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Arms Sales, Debt and Corruption

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Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, a German MEP with the Free Democrats party has announced that he is resigning from German politics because he is “fed up with German hypocrisy”. Chatzimarkakis was born in Germany to Greek migrants and has dual nationality so his actions and comments are particularly directed towards German-Greek relations. The issue of corruption is the one where he sees hypocrisy as most glaring:

“The Germans in their hearts believe it is OK to bribe if it leads to more profit. They have a totally different attitude to corruption as the donor [party]. Many regard themselves as not guilty if they give… The guilty ones are those who take … this is the sort of hypocrisy that I am personally fed up with.”

A recent report entitled Guns, Debt and Corruption: Military Spending and the EU Crisis, authored by Frank Slijper, hones in on one sector where such corruption is endemic. Greece has long had the highest levels of military spending in the EU and Germany has been one of its leading suppliers of military equipment. In 2011, two former managers of the German firm Ferrostaal were convicted in Germany of paying €62 million in bribes in connection with the export of submarines to Portugal and Greece, and Ferrostaal itself was fined €140 million. The former Greek Defence Minister, Akis Tsochzopoulos, along with several others, faces trial in Greece for taking kickbacks on defence contracts, including an alleged €8 million from Ferrostaal.

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