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

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“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.

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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.

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Rally For X: March 4th, Dublin Castle, Assemble 6pm, Central Bank, Dame St

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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.

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The McAleese Report on the Magdalene Laundries (2013)


Yesterday the McAleese report on the Magdalene Laundries was published. Like many others, I expected that the report would be a whitewash. Why did I expect that?

Martin McAleese is the husband of former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. She was chosen for election by reactionary forces who sought to undo the advances achieved during the presidency of Mary Robinson, who was seen by them as a left-wing president who sought to advance dangerous causes such as feminism (she had been a highly successful feminist lawyer before her election). For an interesting insight into the selection process within Fianna Fáil read this article.

During her tenure she made many appearances at Catholic Church events. Her most controversial moment came, typically enough, when she took communion in an Anglican Church of Ireland cathedral. That her only controversial action should be theological is characteristic of her presidency which was marked by outward expressions of piety.

In 2010, then President McAleese gave the opening lecture at a conference of the right-wing Italian Catholic movement Comunione e Liberazione in Rimini, Italy. This is how The Italian correspondent of The Irish Times described that organisation:

“Founded in 1954 by Italian Monsignor Luigi Giussani, Comunione e Liberazione (CL) is, to some extent, an Italian version of the influential Spanish lay movement, Opus Dei, although it has no formal connections with Opus Dei. Throughout its history, it has received both public and tacit support from at least three popes – Paul VI, John Paul II and the current pope, Benedict XVI.

The current papal household is run by consecrated members (Memores Domini) of CL. Generally perceived as right-wing, conservative and integrationalist, CL has often been politically active in Italy. In the 1970s, the movement played a prominent part in failed campaigns to prevent the legalisation of both abortion and divorce. CL has always counted important shakers and makers among its public supporters, including most notably the seven-times prime minister Giulio Andreotti.”

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Time to Stand up to Discrimination


I wish to bring to your attention the numerous incidents of racism that have been in the Irish press over the last 2 weeks. What they amounted to was a public representative, be it a councillor or a senator, as well as a judge using either racist slang or making racist statements in the course of their work. These statements were largely brushed under the carpet by the media despite the long term effects they have on the oppressed groups they targeted. A statement by a Fianna Fail senator last week that he would not get into a taxi driven by an “obvious” non-national resonates quite closely with our own problems with racism in Galway city.

Despite numerous letters to the local media as well as reports categorically confirming that racism against African taxi drivers is rife in the city, the practice continues with more and more non-national drivers reporting incidents of aggravated racial assault and abuse, to the effect now that these men and women see it as normal for them receive racism on a daily basis.

Comments by this Senator only serve to cement such prejudice and make the day-to-day living of an African taxi driver that bit harder. In times of recession and economic crisis, it has been noted that racist attitudes begin to rise due to people lashing out at whoever is the easiest to blame. Surely our political representatives were elected to rally against such attitudes, and not stoke the fires of racism in a bid to represent, and ultimately win votes, from people who play on such racist attitudes, much like the Conservative Party in the UK covers such areas in a bid to make the British National Party irrelevant.

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Reilly’s Jew: What ‘austerity’ really means #1


In Michel Foucault’s book Discipline and Punish there is a phrase that fascinates me: ‘a small penal mechanism’.

‘At the heart of all disciplinary systems functions a small penal mechanism’, he says.

The sentence came to mind recently when I heard that the Irish government was introducing a €75 charge for each round of chemotherapy. The charge is nicely judged: it will only apply to those cancer patients who are not poor enough to qualify for a medical card (free treatment) but are too poor to be able to afford private medical insurance. They have, perhaps, given up insurance in these times of austerity in order to feed their kids, and now faced with the terrifying prospect of cancer they must reassess the situation. It is a game of exquisite torture.

I’m reliably informed that chemotherapy can involve anything from a handful of rounds to dozens or even hundreds.
What does this particular form of ‘austerity’ tell us about the people imposing the charge?Minister Dr James Reilly – the man who closes down public nursing home beds while simultaneously being a shareholder in a private nursing home, the man who was listed in Stubbs Gazette recently as an undischarged debtor in relation to a €1.9 million debt on a nursing home – has cast around in his health budget of €1407,8000,000 (or €1.4 bn) and found a group of people who will try to pay up no matter what because the alternative is unthinkable.

What’s more, they’ll never be on the streets protesting. The big man (and Reilly is big) picked a fight with the sick child.

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Savita Halappanavar and the Doctor’s Plague


When my sister was born my mother began to haemorrhage badly and was in danger of bleeding to death. My father and my aunt (a nurse who qualified in England) pleaded with the doctor to carry out a hysterectomy – then the only treatment. He refused on the grounds that a hysterectomy would prevent her having future children. In effect it would be a form of contraception. When my father threatened to take him to court he held out both hands and said, ‘Mr Wall, these hands were blessed by the Pope’. Nevertheless, under threat of legal action, he buried his conscientious objections and did the deed and saved my mother’s life. This was more than fifty years ago.

The recent denial, in similar circumstances, of appropriate treatment to Savita Halappanavar by staff at University Hospital Galway and her subsequent death from septicaemia has caused much controversy here and abroad, not least in her home country where the India Times ran a headline that said: ‘Ireland Murders Pregnant Indian Dentist’. It is, I think, a fair accusation.

There are a few things I would like to say on the matter.

Firstly, what Savita Halappanavar died of – septicaemia – used to be called ‘puerperal fever’ and puerperal fever was nicknamed the ‘doctor’s plague’. It resulted from the increasing tendency to medicalise childbirth from the 15th century onwards. By contrast, incidence of puerperal fever was much lower for traditional births where midwives attended women in their own homes. In other words, for many centuries it was more dangerous to give birth in a hospital than at home. Puerperal fever achieved it’s ‘plague’ status because of the presence of large numbers of women giving birth at the same time in a factory-type situation – and, significantly, the handling of their bodies by men, namely doctors. It was not a plague that affected doctor’s but one that they created. In that sense it was truly ‘the doctor’s plague’.

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Labour and Fine Gael bear responsibility for death of woman who was denied abortion

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United Left Alliance press statement from Clare Daly TD and Joan Collins TD

Labour and Fine Gael bear responsibility for death of woman who was denied abortion.

Legislate for X Case NOW.

Protest at Dáil, Weds November 14, 6pm.

The recent death of a woman who was denied a life-saving abortion is an outrage which demands immediate action, said ULA TD’s Clare Daly and Joan Collins.

“Sadly,” said Clare Daly, “the very thing we feared last April when we put our X Case Bill before the Dáil, has happened. A woman has died because Galway University Hospital refused to perform an abortion needed to prevent serious risk to her life. This is a situation we were told would never arise. An unviable fetus – the woman was having a miscarriage – was given priority over the woman's life, who unfortunately and predictably developed septicemia and died.

First and foremost we wish to extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the woman's husband, family and friends for their terribly loss. This loss is all the worse because it need not have happened.

Make no mistake, had Labour and Fine Gael acted upon our Bill, medical guidelines could have been in place which would have ensured that there would have been no grounds for equivocation about performing an abortion when there was a risk to the life of the woman. Instead, the government took the cowardly step of hiding behind the fourth 'expert group' on abortion since 1992. This refusal to act has contributed to the circumstances which brought about this woman's death. Fianna Fáil and the Greens also bear responsibility, due to their failure to legislate for the X Case.”

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Eamonn Moran – Ireland’s Jilted Generation Exchange, Temple Bar, Mon 29th of Oct @ 9pm

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Eamonn Moran

Ireland Jilted Generation

Exchange, Temple Bar

Monday 29th Oct

All Welcome!


People in power in Ireland have abandoned those under 35.

There are 20% less people in their 20's in the country in the last 4 years. In the same period the general population has actually risen.

Unemployment has gone from 4% to nearly 15%. The data I have found is showing that the burden has fallen almost solely on the 15-35 year olds. The % of people working in the 50+ age group has has barely fallen at all.

In a recent poverty risk report people 18-30 are over 3 times more likely to be in the high risk of poverty catagory as those in the 61+ age group.

This talk looks at the the major differences between here and the UK who have similar problems but the scale here is much more stark. I was genuinely dumbstuck by the speed and veracity of the age discrimination grip since the crisis began. This is the untold story of the financial crises.

Is this uniquely Irish ageist protectionism the main reason behind Irelands emigration epidemic?

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Anti-Deportation Ireland launches campaign against direct provision and deportation

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Press Release from Anti-Deportation Ireland, including an Executive Summary of the report which is being launched tomorrow…

‘The direct provision system is destroying people’s lives, and the injustice of deportations must be ended’ according to Anti-Deportation Ireland (ADI). The organization, comprised of asylum-seekers from direct provision centres all over Ireland, and their supporters, will launch a campaign and research report in Unite the Union, 15 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, on October 3rd at 11.30am.

The launch comes a week after the death of a Congolese asylum-seeker, Emmanuel Marcel Landa in Mosney, the 49th person to die in the system of Direct Provision since 2000. It also follows the march of several hundred people in Galway city on September 15th to protest against the summary dispersal of 270 asylum-seekers living in Lisbrook House. They were due to be relocated to other centres around the country, despite the fact that many have been living in and integrated into the local community during the last years.

According to Luke Bukha of ADI, the direct provision system ‘takes people who have been uprooted from their homes and who have often suffered terrible traumas and confines them in a system that leaves them without choice and often hope.

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What Money Can’t Buy


Book Review: Michael Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy, the Moral Limits of Markets (Allen Lane 2012) Michael Sandel’s book powerfully articulates what the majority of people across the globe know is happening: markets and finance…

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