Posts By Donagh Brennan

Thatcherism Delayed? The Irish Crisis and the Paradox of Social Partnership

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There has been much criticism recently here and elsewhere about the strategy taken by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions as a response to the crisis, the establishment, defending of, and piñata like status of the Croke Park Agreement, and the thinking behind the Lift the Burden ‘protest’ on the 9th of February which is supposed to send, we are told by David Begg a “very clear signal to Europe”. The clear message seems to be that Congress want to get Irish workers to support the government’s efforts in negotiating a deal on Ireland’s bank debt along the vague lines expressed in the June 2012 Summit that “the Eurogroup will examine the situation of the Irish financial sector with the view of further improving the sustainability of the well-performing adjustment programme”. In light of this ineffectual ambition on the part of Congress I thought it would be worth providing some context in the form of this very informative article by Terrence McDonough and Tony Dundon, of the School of Business and Economics at NUI, Galway. The follow is an excerpt from the final part of a much longer paper called Thatcherism delayed? The Irish crisis and the paradox of social partnership which was originally published in Industrial Relations Journal (41:6, 544–562) in 2010.

The whole article reviews the state of Irish industrial relations in light of the current economic crisis. It argues that social partnership was rooted in the continuation of a tradition of permissive voluntarism with minimal employment rights with both direct and indirect implications for the current Irish economic crisis. As such, Irish industrial relations cannot be understood in isolation from a broader analysis of the rise and fall of social structures of capitalist accumulation.

I would like to thank Terrence McDonough and Tony Dundon for permission to republish this section of the paper on Irish Left Review.

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Actually Existing Central Planning and the Logic of Accumulation

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Matthijs Krul in his Notes and Commentary blog has provided a very thorough and critical Marxist analysis of Seth Ackerman’s essay The Red and the Black published in the latest issue of Jacobin magazine. We’ve already posted the section of Doug Henwood’s show, Behind the News which features a long interview with Ackerman about his essay.

I believe it’s worth reading Krul’s response for those interested in thinking about what a socialist economy would look like, and the how objections to its potential are ill-founded. The post is positive about many of the points raised by Ackerman, but he highlights their limitations and does so in a much convincing way than others who have so far tackled The Red and the Black essay. I’d like to provide a large chunk which gets to the heart of his critique, but also indicates how ‘central planning’ which is seen to have failed in the Soviet Union, flourishes today within capitalist society. Krul’s argument is that this failure was a political one as the Soviet economy remained subject to the logic of accumulation.

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ILR Journal Available at Connolly Books or to Buy Online

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Some readers may have noticed that the Irish Left Review Journal is now available to buy online. If you haven’t there’s a tab at the top of the site called Buy ILR Journal Online which brings you to the page that allows you to pay for it through PayPal. Similarly there’s an image of the first issue to the right of this post. Clicking the image brings you to the same page as does this link. We’ll do our best to post out the copies on the same day they are ordered, weekends excepted.

The 128 page first issue is also available to buy at Connolly Books, Temple Bar, Dublin. We'll provide updates when it becomes available elsewhere and there are plans to make it available around the country.

The launch will also be held in Connolly Books 2pm on the 2nd of February.

Looking forward to seeing plenty of ILR’s friends there. Below is the editorial which describes what has been covered in the first issue.

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Paul Murphy MEP – Challenges Enda Kenny on Bank debt


A very good opportunity for Paul Murphy to challenge Enda Kenny in the European Parliament and he did it well. Kenny’s response was of course to get a dig in that had absolutely nothing to do with the criticism he made. Murphy pointed out that Ireland is paying 42% of the bailout for European banks. Kenny said Paddy pays his debts.

Paul Murphy challenges Taoiseach Enda Kenny for being the poster boy of austerity and failing to tackle the bondholders over the banking debt. Kenny has driven austerity in Ireland while going with a begging bowl looking for some crumbs from the EU on the private bank debt which was hoisted onto the shoulders of the Irish people. Kenny’s reply can be seen here.

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On the Need to Wield the Political Crowbar


I heard a Fianna Fail TD saying on the radio that the decision to tie the household charge and the property tax to the funding of local councils was an attack on local democracy. As central funding through general taxation has been removed a failure to collect adequate amounts of the property tax means that funding of local services will be smaller.

Allowing local authorities to increase that charge puts the negative political feedback, particularly in areas where compliance is less, like Donegal, on to the local councils and protects the central government. It was an odd sensation, shouting at the radio (not unusual) in agreement with someone in Fianna Fail (which very much is).

However, I would add that with a smaller budget because of the problems of collecting the Household Charge and the property tax – and the structure of the property tax is almost exactly the same as the household charge and its associated problems, with good reason – means that it would require additional cuts to services.

This will follow the now established pattern of replacing publicly funded publicly owned services with private operations. Again, as has been well established, the private operation will be less efficient, more costly to the public purse in the medium term and the tendering process will be corrupt or suspect, with small operators losing out to larger conglomerates leading to a monopoly situation for the provision of these services after an initial flurry of 'competition'. It’s also been well established that Public Private Projects have been seen for over a decade as a growth opportunity for financial institutions in the IFSC, and the present government has recently provided them with a very specific kitty just for this.

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Is Enda Proud of Our Tax Avoidance Services?


 “I am very proud of the structure that we set up. We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman in an interview in New York.
The Silicon Valley boss went on to suggest that Google would not turn down the opportunity to draw on the big savings allowed under the law in the countries it operates in: “It’s called capitalism. We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.”
I wonder if Enda Kenny would state that he is also proud of the incentives his governmnet offers Google to avoid almost all of its Irish corporation tax obligations based on the profits that Google earns per year. Because through Irish law we allow Google to claim that Google Ireland Holdings is not actually Irish but is rather a Bermudian company even though it's registered and uses secretary services of Matsack Trust Limited, 70 Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 2. From the US tax point of view Google Ireland Holdings doesn't exist, even though it owns Google Ireland Limited which it does recognize. Google Ireland Limited is where, we are told, all the sales from Google Europe (also owned by Google Ireland Holdings, which is turn is owned by Google Bermuda) and wider afield are booked. This could be changed in the morning by simply requiring that a company has to be legally domiciled where its operations are. Even the Irish accountancy and legal firms offering tax avoidance advice to multinationals like Google are saying that this probably is going to have to happen at some point, even though they say that the offical tax rate should come down to 2 or 3% (currently Google only pays 0.14 according to a report in the Sunday Independent and employs )0.06% of the workforce.

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New LookLeft Magazine Out Now

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Ireland’s leading magazine for progressive news, views and solutions – available in Easons stores and good independent newsagents across the country – 48 pages for just €2/£1.50

In the latest issue of LookLeft:

The New Frontline – Trade unions are re-forging their links with working class communities and building new alliances in the fight to defend vital local services, Dara McHugh reports

No More Victims – Ireland’s abortion laws have been claiming victims for decades, writes Stephanie Lord

Where’s the left? – The left of centre received its highest vote ever in the Republic in February 2011, but the country has since been run on unwaveringly right-wing lines without the political upheaval evident in other EU States. Kevin Brannigan asks what has happened to the Irish Left.

Beyond the Law: the US Military at Shannon Airport – In opposition, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore repeatedly committed himself to dealing with the US military’s use of Shannon Airport. But in Government what has he done? Paul Dillon reports

The Attack on Public Transport – The push towards privatisation at Dublin Bus is part of a wider strategy of undermining public transport in the name of profits. Harry Stoneman reports.

The Ideals Remain – Aleida Guevara, a Cuban paediatrician and daughter of revolutionary leader Che, visited Ireland in October and talked to Paul Dillon

A Stranger in Her Own Land – Palestinian politician Haneen Zoabi talks to Francis Donohoe about how Israel’s apartheid policies forced her to take a stand.

Eric Hobsbawm: Revolutionary Historian – Ultán Gillen looks at the life of the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, and how he helped transform our understanding of the history of the working class.

Plus much much more…

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The Live Register – EP04 IFSC: The City Within

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I have to put up the latest and greatest episode of the Live Register.

It's an excellent exploration of the Irish financial services sector and its exaggerated yet highly influencial role in the Irish economy. It talks about the Clearing House Group, Hedge Funds, tax avoidance and transfer pricing, the origins of the IFSC, light-touch regulation, ultra low tax, what happened to Depfa Bank, Brass plate companies, the reality behind the employment myth in financial services and much much more.

Guests include Shane Brett, Harry McGee and Professor Jim Stewart.

Here is Jim Stewart's 2006 article “Financial Flows and Treasury Management Firms” which was mentioned in the interview. In the study of 41 Treasury firms he found that in many there was a median employment of zero.

“A treasury management subsidiary is a common feature of MNCs. Treasury Management firms are the conduits for the global movement of intra-firm financial flows by MNCs. They often form part of a complex organisational structure whose immediate parent may be located in a tax haven (Stewart, 2005). (pg3)

A database of all Irish registered companies was searched in order to identify Treasury management firms. Ultimately 41 firms with available accounting data were identified. These firms are of considerable economic interest. The median size in terms of gross assets in 2002 was $379 million, median profits in 2002 were $6.3 million ($9.6 if those reporting losses are excluded) but the median number employed was zero.(pg4)”

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Dole TV: Father Feidhlim

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Great clip from Dole TV The first time as liturgy, the second as farce… Credits: Father Feidhlim/Jon Right: John Breslin Graphics and Editing: Barry Hamilton Camera and Lighting: Thom McDermott. Post Sound and Music Composition:…

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DCTU No to Austerity March: Saturday 24th Nov. @1pm Parnell Sq

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Here are some of the 30 reasons to join the DCTU No to Austerity pre-Budget 2013 march tomorrow.

For Every 30 People in a Dole Queue – There is Only One Job

Because low pay in Ireland is really low pay

The Most Profitable Businesses Are Making No Sacrifices

Hundreds of Thousands of Children Live in Deprivation

Investment is the Key

we shouldn’t be burning €3.1 Billion Annually.

Don’t Cut – Expand and Re-invest 

And of course there are many more reasons here.

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