Dublin Council of Trade Unions
May Day 2013
‘1913-2013 Unfinished Business’
Resist austerity- March with your banners
The Dublin Council of Trade Unions is holding its annual MAY DAY demonstration on Wednesday, May 1st.
Assembly point will be Parnell Square at 7 pm and marching to Liberty Hall for a public meeting at Beresford Place.
Music and stalls around the Lock Out theme will follow in the theatre and bar area of Liberty Hall.
This year’s theme will be ’1913/2013: unfinished business’. The unfinished business includes the legal recognition of trade unions in all employments and negotiating rights for all members.
It also includes a policy of resistance to austerity imposed by the government at the behest of the troika. Resistance to unemployment; to relentless cuts in health services, education, social welfare, community services, and in provision for the needy.
Job creation can never be seriously addressed in a climate of austerity. Oil and water don’t mix.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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Translation of an article by sociologist Jorge Moruno and philosopher Juan Domingo Sánchez Estop, published today in Público, analysing the present conjuncture in the Spanish state in light of major corruption scandals and the crumbling of the current regime’s legitimacy.
Government resignation – and then what?
The Bárcenas papers are not a simple case of political corruption in which a boss puts his hand in the till and all can be simplified by talking about rotten apples. Beyond the final denoument, what we are faced with is an entire process of putrefaction of the party system that arose from the 1978 assembly (cortes), in which the Partido Popular is the main -but not the only- political exponent of the Spanish real estate-financial bloc which has benefitted so much from these decades of bubble. Some of us have taken to referring to this ruling layer from the political-speculative tandem, which draws together the worst of our society, as a lumpen-oligarchy, thereby highlighting the nature of its policies and the way it puts them into practice.
This modus operandi functions by democratising the idea of the speculating property owner, turning every citizen into a potential entrepreneur with regard to his home or the one she aspires to obtain. The spreading of this idea and its practice brought about a situation in which, for a time, the possibility of social ascent was associated with the negotiating ability of the individual and not with the extension of collective rights and the development of a democratic culture that placed value on what is public. This operation of moving society to the right, based on the ideology of the property owner, always works as long as one can speculate a little bit more. Corruption, then, is not a mere consequence of casino-capitalism; it is also the necessary lubricant for putting it into practice. The common thread between regime politicans, speculators and builders is reflected perfectly in the Bárcenas papers, where many of the donors are now receiving contracts for Madrid hospitals up for privatisation. Corruption -of the systemic kind- is also seen in the way the vice-president of the CEOE (Spanish employers’ body) receives a discount in the cafeterias of public institutions such as universities and ministries, whilst at the very same time he rails against anything that sounds public, even when this sector is his biggest source of payment.
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February issue of Socialist Voice is out now.
It can also be view here to download, here to read online or below in the embedded widget.
Below is a list of contents.
- We must build on Connolly’s legacy
- CPI calls for support for the ICTU demonstration
- The ICTU’s “better, fairer debt” strategy [EMC]
- 2013: the continuing of the great scattering [EMC]
- James Stewart (1933–2013)
- “Social Europe” for the EU’S privileged [COM]
- The truth behind the myth of “social Europe”
- Rarefied Davos air fosters elite illusions [COM]
- More on monopolies globally [NL]
- Poverty and wealth in France
- Democracy and the crisis—Part 1 [FC]
- Is Ireland a tax haven? [EON]
- Another imperialist intervention in Africa [TMS]
- Slanted media attack Caribbean socialism [TMS]
- Red westerns [AF]
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The Counter-Summit Phenomenon – Forums for resistance and alternatives
Since the anti-globalisation movement of the late '90s and early 2000s, wherever the political representatives and economic thinkers of capital met, they encountered protest and opposition. From Seattle to Genoa, tens of thousands turned out to demonstrate against institutions like the WTO, G8 and EU. The anti-worker and environmentally unsustainable implications of their free trade and neo-liberal agenda were exposed.
With the understanding of the limitations of the model of protests at summits across Europe, came the rise of counter-summits. Generally called Social Forums these were an opportunity for socialists, trade unionists, environmental activists and others to meet. They represented an attempt to go beyond simply protesting against these institutions and to formulate alternatives as well as to discuss strategies for resistance.
The World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in Brazil which 12,000 people attended opened the process of the WSFs. It was followed with successful events in Athens, Mumbai, Nairobi and elsewhere. After playing a vital role in mobilising for the demonstrations on 15 February 2003, where tens of millions marched against a war on Iraq, the summits suffered a general decline, becoming somewhat disconnected from the real struggles happening around the world.
The model was successful in opening an important discussion, but it also contained within it an important contradiction that was always present in the anti-globalisation movement. This was the tension between an approach that was fundamentally reformist, aiming to curb the worst excesses of globalisation and capitalism and a more consistent anti-capitalist position. The formal exclusion of political parties did not keep out the various NGOs connected to Social Democracy and the reformist ideas associated with them, while revolutionary socialists were not able to openly organise.
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Statement from the Communist Party of Ireland
The general secretary of the CPI, Eugene McCartan, responded to the release of the McAleese Report into the Magdalen laundries by saying:
“This report confirms what many people knew already: that the state was jointly involved with the Church in this horrific abuse and exploitation of the daughters mainly of the poor families of this country.
“The mentality that pervaded the Magdalen institutions is similar to that of those who controlled the industrial schools. The report exposes their total contempt for the poor; and that contempt still dominates the thinking of the political establishment towards working people.
“The report confirms James Connolly’s prediction that the partitioning of Ireland and the creation of two flawed states would lead to a ‘carnival of reaction’. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow-citizens were driven out of this state, since its very foundation, by a combination of mass unemployment, mass poverty, political persecution, and the stifling grip of a reactionary political establishment in alliance with the Catholic Church.
“The Free State government and the political establishment for decades used the Catholic Church as a battering-ram against working people and the rural poor, to enforce their submission physically and ideologically and as part of their anti-radical agenda since the founding of this deeply flawed state.
“The survivors of these savage exploitative institutions must be given the maximum support and compensation from the state. It is is the least that can be done.”
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Perspective of a ULA national steering committee member
The 2011 general election gave the Irish far left its highest profile in decades. Five TDs were elected under the electoral banner of the United Left Alliance (ULA), reflecting growing anger against the austerity imposed by the previous government’s agreement with the “Troika” of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank.
During the campaign, I was strongly critical of the ULA’s overtly reformist election platform, which did not even mention the word “socialism”. This omission was made explicit by Ann Foley, the ULA candidate for Cork North West and a well known participant in People Before Profit (PBPA), one of the ULA’s founding organisations:
“I feel the ULA has very common sense policies. When people think of socialists, they think of communism, which is not the case. There is nothing dramatic or revolutionary about our policies. A lot of countries have functioning social democracies, especially in Scandinavia. They have great health, transport and childcare systems. This is the direction we want to take, a direction this Government failed to follow.”
(Cork Independent, 6 January 2011)
The decision to move beyond a reformist electoral lash-up by opening up membership to individuals and initiating a process supposedly aimed at the creation of a new working-class party, however, encouraged me to join. I saw this as an important opportunity to discuss the revolutionary socialist programme that the working class so desperately needs. Since then, I have participated in that discussion in ULA meetings at all levels and on my blog (revolutionaryprogramme.wordpress.com), and have twice stood for election to the national steering committee (NSC). In October 2012 I was elected onto the NSC to represent non-aligned members, ie, those not in one of the ULA’s founding organisations.
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This day last year, 16th January 2012, was a black day for Irish trade unionism. From that day bin collection in Dublin was carried out by a private firm, Greyhound, after Dublin City Council sold the business to them bringing bin collection by the city to an end after almost 150 years. The privatisation of bin collection in Dublin City Council was, among all the recent setbacks and climb downs of the trade union movement, a symbolic defeat in a heartland of Irish blue collar trade unionism. The Dublin bins have gone the way of other emblematic and once seemingly impregnable redoubts of Irish trade union stability, such as the integrity and public status of electricity supply and the sacredness of the JLC/ERO system. Unlike signal defeats further back, those at Pat the Baker, Ryanair and Irish Ferries for instance, the Dublin bins passed with only a whimper.
That the privatisation of Dublin city bin collection happened at all was a depressing development. The manner in which it occurred served only to lower the mood further. As the changeover happened some of the bin workers themselves were certainly dissatisfied with the situation and with the unions:
“Before heading out [for the last time at Davitt Road depot], the men met for about half an hour to discuss their options. There was talk of “missed opportunities”, of how they should have balloted for industrial action before Christmas, or sat in in the depot last week, keeping the lorries hostage. They derided both council management and their unions – Impact and Siptu. Shortly after 6.30am the seven crews set out. It was minus 1 degree, and still dark….” (Irish Times, 14th January 2012)
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The Irish Times has been running a series of articles called ‘A history of Ireland in 100 Objects’ and they’ve announced that the public will be asked to choose the final object in the series.
I would like to propose, as the 100th object and one which encapsulates the entire history of modern Ireland since independence, the miniature figurine of James Connolly on sale in the shop of the National Museum of Ireland.
This figurine of the great communist revolutionary is categorised under the ‘Soldiers of Ireland’ list, mainly of people who fought and/or died for Ireland. The list includes The Papal Zouaves who fought so bravely for the Pope against Garibaldi’s red-shirts; General Richard Mulcahy, who signed the order that led to the execution for possession of firearms of 77 former comrades who were imprisoned during the civil war; Dublin Fusiliers who fought so bravely for the British Empire and Churchill’s dream of breaking the Turkish hold of the Dardanelles; and Patrick Pearse leader of the nationalist Irish Volunteers who fought so bravely for a Catholic Irish-speaking Ireland. Along with them is a colourful figure of a captain of the Bank of Ireland Yeomanry. I have no idea if the Bank of Ireland Yeomanry fought for Ireland, but they no doubt played their part in the class war. I’m surprised the Bank of Ireland doesn’t still have a militia, but I suppose it has the police and the politicians and the European Union on its side.
At least Connolly wouldn’t be completely alone in this mass of bourgeois reactionaries and tools of religion: Countess Markievicz was a socialist too, and makes her appearance in Citizen Army uniform as a ‘Solider of Ireland’. As well as being the first woman elected to the British House of Commons she was Connolly’s friend – though our nationalist histories would rather think of her as a hysterical escapee from the madhouse that was Ireland’s gentry. WB Yeats, of course, did his best to propagate that myth.
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Gavan Titley has an excellent article in the Guardian which makes a comparison with the Irish state’s responsibility for the conditions suffered by the occupants of Ireland’s gulag system of laundries and industrial schools and the immoral inadequacy of the direct provision system for asylum seekers and the regularity of deportation.
“At present, approximately 6,000 people live in direct provision accommodation centres in Ireland while their asylum claims are processed. Originally introduced as an “emergency measure” in 1999 to speed up asylum determination procedures, over a third have been in this system for more than three years, and waits of seven or eight years are not unheard of. Unable to access education, employment or frequently even to cook for themselves, asylum-seekers are accommodated and fed, and granted an adult weekly allowance of €19.10 (rates that have not changed in real terms since their introduction over a decade ago). For this other population, also corralled and controlled outside of society, it is unsurprising that anxiety, depression and ill health are widespread.
No comparison should obscure the particular forms of violence and suffering that mark different experiences. But the parallels are politically important. Ill health scarred the lives of children in industrial schools – a recent report has documented the appalling conditions and health problems of the children of asylum seekers, who constitute one-third of the population of the direct provision system. According to O’Toole, thousands of people died each decade in the neglectful conditions of psychiatric hospitals – in September Emmanuel Marcel Landa became the latest person to die in the direct provision system, and as Sue Conlon of the Irish Refugee Council noted, “the impact of long delays, lengthy residence in direct provision accommodation and the real threat of deportation may well have been a contributory factor in Mr Landa’s untimely death”.
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