Left Archive: Abortion Ireland – A Report by Sinn Féin’s Department of Women’s Affairs, October 1981, Sinn Féin May 6, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Sinn Féin.
Many thanks to Alan at Irish Election Literature and the person who scanned this document.
To download the above please click on the following link:ABORTSF1981
This short document, issued in 1981, addresses Provisional Sinn Féin’s approach to abortion at that time.
It starts by noting that:
An estimated 10,000 Irish women will have had abortions during 1981. It is precisely because thousands of Irish women do travel to Britain every year that a recent E.E.C. report called for national legislation to remove the need for such lonely and desperate journey’s.
It notes that SF’s policy document ‘Women in the New Ireland’ states:
There is a need to face up to the problem of abortion no matter what individual opinions are. We do not judge women who have had abortion but recognise that it is an indictment of society that so many women should feel the need to avail of abortion. We are opposed to the attitudes and forces in society that impel women to have abortions. We are totally opposed to abortion.
It outlines the legal situation as regards abortion in both parts of the island and provides statistics as to the geographical and occupational data of those seeking abortion in Britain.
It also outlines broader family planning law and the provision of contraceptives in the Republic and the six counties.
The overview in Section Two: Organisations Pro/Anti-Abortion is of interest.
Of the Women’s Right to Choose Group they note ‘They see abortion as the fourth viable option to a pregnant woman after the choices of keeping the child, fostering it or having it adopted. Their commitment is to ensure that women’s lives are controlled by women themselves. They believe that every child should be a wanted child and not a burden or a point of resentment.
Of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) they write:
Unfortunately they attract a great many reactionary types who would be extremely conservative on most social issues. Our research failed to find any of them involved with organisations who aid pregnant women nor have they protested at the limitations of the Health At whereby Medical Card holders – those least well off – have to pay for contraceptives.
The reasoning behind this report is to show that abortion is an issue in Ireland and will not end with a solitary sentence in a policy document. Any one of these statistics could be your wife, your sister or your daughter.
We believe that those who are ’totally opposed’ to abortion and those who see it as a tragedy and an indictment against society must work to improve conditions for and attitudes towards pregnant women.
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Given the recent interview with Liam Sutcliffe that was posted I thought I’d also post this article from an April 1970 Edition of ‘This Week’ magazine on the death of Garda Fallon and Saor Eire
Click on the link above to view (in pdf)
Left Archive: General Secretary’s Report, Ard Fheis Annual Delegate Conference 1990, Worker’s Party April 22, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Workers' Party.
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To download the above file please click on the link: WP GEN SEC 1990
This document provides an interesting comparison with the General Secretary’s Report from 1988 which was posted up previously. The latter was produced just prior to the events of 1989, this document produced just after many of them. By 1990 Eastern Europe states had moved from the orbit of the USSR although the CPSU remained predominant in that state. But remarkably during the same period the Workers’ Party had grown, increasing its Dáil representation to 7 seats. This newfound success is referenced explicitly as both opportunity and challenge:
It has increased our political and organisational opportunities but it has also increased the risks for the party if we make political or organisational errors. Our success has projected the strengths of the party into the public consciousness in a way never achieved before but it can also expose our weaknesses if we fail to deal with these.
And it notes that ‘on the positive side we have now achieved the ‘official’ status of a full political party in Dáil Éireann. We have a first class Dáil team with a high level of political acumen. We have a high level of credibility with the working class and a solid electoral base in the whole of Dublin, and an expanding base throughout the country. All this has helped to build the morale of the party members and supporters and has given some hope to the victims of cuts in health, education and social services, to the unemployed, and to those forced to emigrate. We now have a major national and international dimension to our representations.’
But it also notes that:
… it could be argued that our party is not ready for this greatly expanded role but we will never be ready unless we take bold steps to meet all the new challenges.
In terms of the international context it notes that:
Most importantly for us as Socialists, the Socialist Counties have undergone dramatic changes, economically and politically and are likely to see an even greater pace of change in the decades ahead.
And that reflects back to the following:
All of these factors and the many theoretical and practical questions for socialists vis-a-vis the Market, the changing structure of classes, ecology, the role of the State, democracy an the role of the Party, all require careful analysis in the Irish context.
And tellingly it continues:
The pace of change is now such that many Socialists are disconcerted and confused. this is particularly the case for those with a poor theoretical grounding or for those who based their politics on simplistic or dogmatic assumptions about the nature of the world or of change itself. In some respect the Workers’ Party has a number of advantages (and a number of weaknesses) when facing this new phase of political reconstruction. This Ard Fheis can, and will, I’m sure be a good start to us in this process.
As with the other General Secretary’s Report from 1988, an overview of the life of the party is offered across the broad range of its activities. Another notable point is that on page 24 under International Affairs it says;
In recent years we have achieved limited recognition from Governments in some Socialist Countries and have established a dialogue with other Workers’ Parties, Socialist and Communist Parties in many parts of the World.
Left Archive: Speech delivered by Pat Upton, Irish Labour Party T.D. at the Tom Johnson Summer School, June 1998 April 15, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Politics, The Left.
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To download the above document please click on the following link: scan0001
Many thanks to Irish Election Literature for this document which is a very useful document that in a few short pages offers an insight into the thinking of some in the Irish Labour Party in the late 1990s. It consists of the text of a speech given at the Tom Johnson Summer School. In it Upton who was Teachta Dála for Dublin South–Central outlines his vision of a “New Labour” for the 21st century. Notable is the manner in which it draws upon aspects of the then victorious British Labour Party under Tony Blair in terms of positioning and language.
A few short quotes will suffice to give a flavour of the text:
When Labour gets out of touch with reality it allows its enemies and the enemies of a decent society to grow. There is an obligation on Labour to remain strong and relevant to fight the growth of fascism and its attendant chaos.
The public have, to a large degree, stopped behaving as citizens and now behave as consumers.
It is important to deliver what is promised. That is what consumers expect. That is what they experience in other aspects of life be it with the travel agent or the supermarket.
In practical terms Labour needs to define where the individual’s rights end and responsibilities begin. It is not tenable to continue the illusion that one can have rights without responsibilities.
Sinn Féin Ard Fheis 2013 April 12, 2013Posted by doctorfive in Irish Politics, Sinn Féin.
Gerry Adams was on with Pat this morning.
Commenting on the 15th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement, Workers’ Party General Secretary John Lowry said, ” in many ways, not least the ending of terrorist campaigns, Northern Ireland today is a better place than before. However that should not blind us to the fact that 15 years on we have not realised the ambition of a new Northern Ireland free from sectarianism and division”.
“The DUP and Sinn Féin are managing division in society, not overcoming it. The political institutions themselves reflect and perpetuate sectarian and communal blocs, segregation and the number of so-called Peace Walls has actually increased and there is no movement on a strategy to tackle sectarianism. Indeed there has been a rolling back on commitments to increase the number of Integrated schools and youth unemployment stands at 25%. ”
“That is the reality of life in Northern Ireland today. It is time now to review the workings of the Assembly and Executive and to discard those things, like the designation of MLAs as Unionist or Nationalist and the make up of the Executive which reinforce sectarian division.”, said John Lowry
Left Archive: Voice of Revolution, Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist), 1984 April 8, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist Leninist), Irish Left Online Document Archive.
To download the above please click on the following link:vor84
This is a personal overview of the following document by Joe, often times commentor on the CLR, for which many thanks.
I was 24 in 1984. I was paid, permanent and pensionable as a library assistant with Dublin Corporation libraries. Me and my three best friends used to drink in town at the weekends. Often in the Palace Bar. My three mates were apolitical, centrist voters. I always made a point of buying the socialist and republican papers which sellers would offer to the Palace drinkers of a Friday or Saturday night.
Around that time there was a campaign called the Campaign against the Criminal Justice Bill. This Bill was giving new powers to the Gardaí to detain suspects for longer without charge and I think also would allow a court to take an inference from the fact that a suspect remained silent or didn’t answer particular questions while in custody. We thought it was a draconian attack on civil liberties. There have been quite a few more criminal justice bills since then. And my attitudes to some of the issues around that have changed too. More of that anon.
The campaign against the bill was led by Joe Costello of the Prisoners Rights Organisation. Costello was a secondary teacher in the North Inner City. He had seen many of his ex-pupils sent to prison and seen the damage prison had done to them. He’d heard their accounts of prison life and had set up the PRO as a campaign for prison reform and prisoners’ rights. And fair play to him. It was an active campaigning group, speaking on behalf of people who had no voice, the kind of people who were “born for the Joy”. Joe Costello is now Labour TD for Dublin Central and I don’t think the PRO still exists. Is there anything on it or by it in the Left Archive? There should be.
So why was I, a middle-class boy, bothered about the Criminal Justice Bill and extra powers for the Gardaí? It could be down to this incident which happened about 10 years earlier. Me and my young teenage friends used to hang around and do random acts of pretty harmless vandalism in our area. Lighting fires in the field, knick knacking on doors, silly stuff. One evening, bored, one of the lads lit a random bit of paper on the street and we all ran. It was the thrill of running, wasn’t it? A feeling that you were being chased (even though we weren’t!), that little butterfly in the tummy. Anyway me and another Joe rounded the corner of our road into a cul de sac just as a random Garda car did the same. We were caught rapid. The two cops got out. The other Joe was with one Guard on one side of the street. I was with another on the other side. He asked me my name and as I opened my mouth to answer he smacked me hard with his open hand across my face. He then proceeded to ask me something about five times and each time before I could answer I got a very hard smack across the face. I was bawling crying by the end of it. They put us into the car to bring us to the station. At the top of the road, they said something about letting us off this time. And let us out. From that time, through all my teenage years, I hated the Guards with a passion. All coppers were bastards. Hitting me was bad enough but they had shown me up in front of my friend – I’d cried like a little baby.
So if that could happen to middle class Joe in about 1974, what was happening to inner city and suburban kids from the wrong side of the tracks? Fr Peter McVerry was good on this on the telly several years ago. He said that Garda brutality was a fact of life for working class kids in the usual areas. If they were picked up for minor crimes, they could expect a hammering. And many of them would end up in the jails which the PRO wanted reformed. They’d end up as prisoners getting abused inside by the prison system as opposed to getting abused outside by the “justice system”. And they’d probably hate the cops a lot more than I ever did. And many of them would be broken by this treatment and end up as fodder for heroin dealers or end up homeless or suicidal or dead.
So that’s why I opposed the Criminal Justice Bill and bought a badge which said Stop the Criminal Justice Bill and marched against it. And I bought the Voice of Revolution one evening in the Palace, opened it up, and there I was, tall and proud, walking on a demo in front of the banner of the CPI (ML). Yep, that’s me the tall handsome chap with the beard and glasses (Gerry Adams anyone? John Lennon?). So I kept that copy along with other bits in a drawer at home. I found it the other day along with this letter which I had drafted to send to the papers at the time. (There had been a lot of coverage around that time in Magill magazine, if I recall correctly, of instances of alleged Garda brutality, corruption and so on.) I never sent the letter but I think it deserves to be published now!
Over the last year I have joined with hundreds of others in marching and campaigning against the Criminal Justice Bill. We failed in our objective. The Criminal Justice Act is now law.
However, in the light of recent revelations about the behaviour of Gardaí of all ranks – Shercock, Kerry babies, the fingerprint case – it is clear that the need to campaign for civil liberties is as strong as ever. Indeed when the three cases above are looked at together with other past Garda misdemeanours – the cases of Nicky Kelly, Christy Lynch, Eamon Byrne, to name but three – it must be clear to all that the Gardaí are far from perfect.
May I suggest a new campaign with a new objective?
Disband the Gardaí! Now!
Is mise etc
Labour & past promises April 8, 2013Posted by doctorfive in Irish Labour Party, Irish Politics.
It’s a tough time for Eamon Gilmore.
His record as Labour leader in Government is well covered but there are a few holes in received analysis. One of oddest being his time at Iveagh House going remarkably undocumented.
Bruton & Coveney each have lead big ticket trips to China. Varadkar travels the world with a shillelagh under one arm and Gilmore? Took a backseat to Kenny & McAleese during high-profile visits, offered very little on events North Africa and now provides very cagey cover for Shatter and other events in North Africa.
He has extended condolences to Social Democrats in Norway, made some noise on the EU boycott of illegal Gaza settlements, pushed for the return of misappropriated aid in Uganda and of course launched the Global Irish Economic Forum -
Where jobs are concerned, anything goes
says he regarding Denis O’Brien’s involvement.
Fine Gael have repeatedly run rings round their partners in the rare good news stakes but on the day to day workings, Enda’s shunting of Gilmore out of the Eurozone spotlight probably best captures the coalition dynamic. The total ceding of this territory mirrors the perception of Labour’s handling of power, giving rise to Sinn Féin dubbing the Tánaiste “Rollover Gilmore”.
It was the most bizarre call having already waved off Finance. At least Spring had the North. There were other avenues of entry, ready-made in some cases. For instance did you know Foreign Ministers met regularly in 2012 to discuss not just the banalities of banks and bailouts but the future of the European Project. Much talk of closer integration, defence and indeed ‘European Government’. For all the uncertainty, blueprints are being trashed out.
Gilmore’s counterparts in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain presented their conclusions to José Manuel Barroso last Summer and much of it seemingly made it into the Commission President’s State of Union speech last September.
Not until the next coercive referendum campaign my friend.
However even on the internet we can offer a modest contribution against the denigration politics. Not in defence of the Tánaiste but something that has bothered me about critics. It is a credit to Ireland’s media that Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party are beaten daily with not only commitments they failed to honour but chiefly the big promise same journalist savaged him for at the time.
Gilmore’s Frankfurt’s way comment was in response to then ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet pronouncing
Our message to the Irish government is apply the plan. The plan comprehends a number of measures concerning the economy and reshaping of the banking sector. Our message remains: Apply the plan
There appears to be an amnesia about eyebrows raised at the time or indeed a collective dishonesty since. Everyone from the necessary cheerleaders to Vincent Browne took aim at Gilmore and for many the mere threat of rocking the boat, deviating from the agreed script tenuous as it was, raised enough backlash to see him deny backtracking on the pledge within four days. Did he not understand the damage these remarks could do to rebuilding the Country’s reputation?
Frankfurt’s way or having it both ways?
The blanket focus on election promises on promises is very odd though isn’t it? Do election campaigns really have that much of an impact on intentions? Did 2011?
It’s an extremely narrow way of framing politics and suggests something very strange in the professionals’ view of voter engagement. The focus on more ambitious claims have of course kept debate away from what Labour maybe, might, possibly be able do in Government. The daily return to headline election promises have steered pressure clear from areas like say collective bargaining – something they may not be too keen on in recent weeks but you get the idea. The big Frankfurt stick keeps eyes off the Health Service and other measures some at home might not be too keen on if Labour had the inkling.
The last FG rally before polling contained all ultimately hollow words and bombast of the Labour camp. In efforts to emphasise a prowess in Europe and edge with Merkozy they made a very big play of Enda Kenny’s Vice-Presidency of the EPP. Neglecting of course to mention he was one of several because they was never challenged to do so. Nor did this supposed advantage come back to haunt the Party following several empty handed summits. Indeed on Senior Bondholders, during the campaign Fine Gael declared
Should some credible, combination of these options prove not (sic) be available from Europe, the next Government would — in order to restore its own credit worthiness — be left with little choice but to unilaterally restructure of (sic) the private debts of those Irish banks in greatest need of recapitalisation
Before even forming a Government but only after polling Enda Kenny conceded burning senior bondholders was off the table. Just shy of one billion is winging it’s way to lucky speculators today btw.
Labour support in any case remained fairly static in the immediate run up when these promises were made.
What is rarely discussed in place of the neat box of promises is Labour’s performance 2008 – 2011. Both Gilmore & Burton were very effective at getting under the skin of the Fianna Fáil while articulating the anger of the country. The scalp of John O’Donohoe, “economic treason” and the golf at Druid’s Glen. His stock, enough to cause a meltdown in Fine Gael, was considered the Party’s greatest strength . Such effort was made to avoid outlining any policy (perhaps something they should have stuck to in hindsight) because Gilmore was the policy.
Now it seems the gale is blowing in the opposite direction and he has become the lightening rod for ire. 2010 was spent aiming to translate his popularity into seats. A strategy worth remembering for anyone hoping a change of Leadership will suffice.