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.)
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.
“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
Here’s an extract from an article on Gom’beenism by Conor McCabe, which Rabble published in their great community print magazine and have now provided online. To help keep Rabble magazine in print please support their fundit campaign.
Gombeen (g?m ‘bi:n). Anglo-Irish. Usury. Chiefly attrib., as Gombeen-Man, a money-lender, usurer; so also gombeen-woman. Hence gom’beenism, the practice of borrowing or lending at usury.
The 19th-century term Gom’beenism, the practice of borrowing or lending at usury, is increasingly referenced in relation to Ireland’s domestic economic practices. Conor McCabe takes a look at the history of the Irish middleman and argues that they haven’t gone away.
On Tuesday 3 January 1882 the nobility and landed gentry of Ireland met in Dublin to discuss the future of the island. Among those present was R.J. Mahony, a landowner from Kerry. He stood and said that the recently-passed land act would be the ruin not only of the landlords but of the small farmer as well. He explained that as soon as the landlord class was put out of the way, another would come along to take their place.‘The merchant, the trader, the usurer, the gombeen man,’ said Mahony, were ‘the future rulers of the land.’ Mr. Mahony called these the middlemen, and although he may have had his reasons for defending landlordism, his warnings were not without foundation. Forty years later the middleman were in the ascendancy and set about carving the newly-independent free state in their image – and we’ve been living with the consequences of that ever since.
Just who were these middlemen? In an article published in 1982 Michael D. Higgins wrote that the mainstream image of the period – and the one taught at secondary level – was one of poor small farmers fighting against perfidious, foreign landlords. However, what was glossed over in such a black and white analysis was that there was another struggle – a class struggle – going on, one that involved small farmers and the rancher/grazier families. These large rancher farmers fattened cattle for export, and occasionally they were the local shopkeepers, the arbiters of credit in the community, and the dispensers of loans. It gave them significant societal influence and power. Not all shopkeepers were graziers, of course, but neither one was the friend of the smallholder. The social relations which underpinned Irish rural society were not only framed by land, but by credit: those who needed it, and those who profited from it. And in the north and west of Ireland, it was the Irish entrepreneurial spirit of the middleman and his gombeen cousin that held sway over credit.
Read the rest here.
This article was originally published on Conor McCarthy's blog, Reflections from Damaged Life on the 6th of April.
Last January I climbed Djouce Mountain, in Co. Wicklow, with my old friend and comrade Andrew. We went up by the Barr and White Hill, and on to Djouce summit. It was a beautiful day of hard frost, and the hills retained a dusting of snow. It's a magnificent, easy hike. Cresting the Barr, where we passed the memorial to JB Malone, the view down to Lough Tay and Luggala, over to Fancy and Knocknaclohoge, and beyond to Lough Dan and Scarr, was superb. Snows fringed the rim of the great cliffs above the lake, backed by pale azure skies. Every blade of grass bore its own banner of hoarfrost.
The walk is deceptively easy, as much of it is now 'boardwalked'. By this I mean that the path had been becoming severely eroded, and some combination of agencies – the Wicklow National Park, perhaps, and Coillte, and Mountain Meitheal – came together to lay a pathway over the soft heather and bog, made of old CIE railway sleepers bound together, and laid in pairs end to end, in steps or stretching out over the moors. For once, a decent and environmentally-sound intrusion has been made into the over-pressured Wicklow hills.
But a much bigger problem is in the making, and has been for some time. Andrew and I parked the car at the entrance and carpark of a state forest on the east side of the Sally Gap-Luggala road, a Coillte forest that drapes the southern flanks of Djouce and White Hill. These forests, which litter Wicklow, and are present all over Ireland, are mostly composed of fast-growing lodgepole pine and sitka spruce and other unprepossessing conifers, that can cope with rugged or boggy or otherwise marginal land. They are planted very densely, and in ugly boxed formations that lap up the mountainsides. They are planted so closely, in fact, that in the resultant darkness there is no undergrowth, and much the ground beneath them becomes sterile. Very little wildlife can survive in these forests once they are mature, though some species like the plantations when the trees are young. The pine needles and other detritus from these trees, which are grown mostly for pulp, not for quality timber, cause acidification of the soils, such as they are. When Coillte decides to fell a certain crop of trees, the procedures used are extraordinarily destructive and ugly. 'Clearfelling' involves simply smashing down all the trees in a designated area. They may be felled by axe and chainsaw, or they may be pulled down by some kind of pulley machinery. Either way, the result is a blasted landscape of grey deadwood, resembling some dismal blend of Flanders in 1916 and Tunguska in 1908.
MA in COMMUNITY EDUCATION, EQUALITY & SOCIAL ACTIVISM
Applications are invited for the MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism at NUI, Maynooth – http://ceesa-ma.blogspot.ie/
What can we learn from each other’s struggles for equality and social justice – and what do we already know about how to change the world?
This course brings together students who want to learn how to make equality and social justice into realities and more experienced activists in community education and social movements looking for space to reflect on their own work, with a team of staff who are experienced teachers and researchers, community educators and social movement practitioners.
We form a community of practitioners learning from each other’s experiences and struggles to create new kinds of “really useful knowledge” and develop alternatives.
The MA enables students to think about how to build real alternatives to challenge existing structures of oppression and injustice. It is about developing people’s capacity to change the world through community education, grassroots community activism and social movement campaigning.
The women's movement, global justice campaigners, self-organising by travellers and migrant communities, trade unions, GLBTQ campaigning, environmentalism, service user movements, anti-war activism, survivors of institutional abuse, and many other such movements have reshaped our society and put human need on the agenda beside profit and power. This process has not ended.
Margaret Thatcher has left a deep legacy not only for the people of the neighbouring island but also for the Irish people and for the oppressed and suffering peoples of the world.
Thatcher epitomised the arrogance of the long imperialist traditions of the British ruling class. Her policy in regard to the H-block hunger strikes exposed her deep contempt and hatred for those who opposed British imperialist interests. Under her rule the British army gained greater freedom to develop and perpetrate its dirty war in the North of Ireland, when selective assassinations and the management of loyalist paramilitaries became more central to the British war machine.
Thatcher was one in a long line of British rulers who had a deep hatred of working people, such as her great hero, Churchill, another person who carried as a badge of honour his hatred of Ireland and the Irish people’s struggle for independence as well as for the British working class. Thatcher saw workers as mere cannon-fodder in imperialist wars, whether in Ireland or the Malvinas, or simply strategic pawns in her anti-communist crusades, as with “Solidarity” in Poland.
Her name has become a byword for aggression, selfishness, and rampant individualism. She has left a legacy of destroyed lives, shattered communities, rampant militarism and chauvinism and the destruction of what was left of British manufacturing and raised the adoration of the “market” beyond all previous levels.
Last week in the Dáil Alan Shatter justified Ireland opting out of an EU directive to allow asylum seekers to enter the workforce if their application has not been processed after a year on the…
Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar, in a shining example of how to make friends and influence people, excelled himself with his comments indicating that some women may have to give up their jobs in order to avail of the new personal insolvency service. The TD’s comments were picked up in The Irish Examiner;
“I know one or two women who probably don’t make very much money at all from working, but they do it to keep their position on the career ladder, if you like, and that is a legitimate thing to do.
“But if you can’t pay your mortgage as a result, or buy your groceries as a result, then that is something that needs to be taken into account in any insolvency arrangement.
“Nobody is asking anybody to give up their jobs. What is going to happen is that people are going to come forward, they are going to say ‘I can’t pay my debts, I can’t pay my mortgage’, and in that case, the insolvency practitioner will go through with them why they can’t pay their bills, and obviously a creditor is not going to agree to a writedown unless that has been gone through and they can work out what is the most they can pay.”
We all know two income families where there are women working, and realistically they might be just about breaking even due to the cost of childcare. The outrageous cost of childcare is due to the fact that the Government have failed utterly in ensuring a state childcare system that is affordable and accessible for women or dare I say it, state-funded through an equitable taxation system and free to avail of.
Parents do not enjoy paying out the price of a mortgage to have someone mind their children, but they do it because they have to. They think “My child will be in school when they’re 4 or 5, this is hard but it’s only for a few years.” Working mothers will often add on a bit to the end of that sentence, “…this is hard but it’s only for a few years, and at least I’ll still have my job at the end.” The implication of Varadkar’s comments are clearly that women in those situations where it may be a short-term cost to work should give up their jobs in order to avail of the personal insolvency arrangements. There is no other way of interpreting it.
Enda Kenny in his apology in the Dail called it a ‘profound indifference.’ He said we were able to put the Magdalene women away because ‘for too many years we put away our conscience.’ He was talking of course about something that had been happening since the beginning of this state and which only finally came to an end in 1996. For Enda Kenny though and most of the audience the idea was that this, the horror that was the laundries, the sin that was the incarceration of innocent women, could all be blamed on the past, that what we were really talking about was 1950s Ireland, about a prejudice and snobbery and false piety that belonged to an Ireland that was now gone. Our ‘indifference’ belonged to the past, our buried ‘conscience’ was now unearthed. For ‘our’ indifference and conscience what we really meant was ‘theirs,’ those from the past. Them not us. Not us, at all.
Which is nice and comforting, isn’t it? As if we were confronting something when in essence we were just blaming it on those who went before. Like being absolved but of someone else’s sins. Still, the history of societies looking the other away, claiming not to have known what everyone really knew, has a sinister history, with even the worst state murders of the last century being characterised by that very thing. Thankfully, we are not within that sphere of inhumanity, but do we even want to share any of those social characteristics? Do we want to be another society that turned away, that buried our conscience, that lived by indifference, that ‘didn’t know’? Because we do know and if we don’t talk about it we are indifferent or putting away our conscience or lying.
The following will focus on the relationship between planned political education and left activism. If there is a justification for this, it lies in the history of the worker’s movement itself. Almost every significant step toward the self-emancipation of the working class has rested on a deep and thoroughgoing emphasis on the educational development of those indispensably involved.
Careful planning and organisation of political education among activists and workers, within and without their respective organisations, is always centrally important. In an attempt to provoke discussion, some questions are raised about the different strategies for the development of educational forms worthy of the movement the present generation of socialist activists hope to build.
The most influential socialists of the 19th and 20th centuries all realised the necessity of ensuring workers take ownership of, and develop, the knowledge necessary for self-emancipation. Certainly Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, along with many other pioneers of the movement, were never prepared to neglect this necessary work, not under threat of exile, not in the midst of revolutionary upheavals, not during imprisonment, conditions of civil war and/or counter-revolutionary witch-hunts. Realising that action has to be theoretically informed, they never stopped studying, analysing and writing, throughout their lives. They have done much to prepare the ground, providing many useful signposts for subsequent generations, yet the necessity for intensive scholarship and focused dissemination of knowledge has not diminished in the slightest.
“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.
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.
Rally For X
March 4th is the eve of the 21st anniversary of the X ruling. EU health ministers will be in Dublin Castle that day. Come and demand that Ireland’s Health Minister takes action to protect women’s lives.
Assemble 6pm, Central Bank
March to Dublin Castle
Call on your TDs to support X legislation.
Come to the activist meeting: 8pm, Wed, March 13th, Teachers Club, Parnell Sq, Dublin.