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.
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
WP Easter Oration 2013 March 31, 2013Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
Comrades and Friends,
In 1913 an open act of class warfare known as the Dublin Lockout was perpetrated upon the working people of this country. Yet 100 years later we stand here refusing to be defeated, coming here to commemorate the Easter Rising and reaffirming our commitment to the establishment of a democratic, secular, socialist state on the island of Ireland – a Republic. We are here today in another period of intense class conflict. Once again the capitalists are waging class war on the workers. And once again the re-conquest of Ireland “must mean the social as well as the political independence from servitude of every man, woman and child in Ireland.” We must end oppression. Socialism – the assumption of political, social and economic power by the working class – is the only means to establish real freedom and genuine equality. We must identify who the oppressors are in today’s world; the means they use to exploit us; and the methods by which we can overcome them. This is the task that revolutionaries have set themselves since the days of the French Revolution and the United Irishmen; it is the task that the men and women of 1916 set themselves; and it is the task that we in the Workers’ Party have set ourselves. That, comrades, is why we are here today.
William Martin Murphy’s name echoes in infamy 100 years after the Lockout. But his was not a lone voice. His cohorts constituted the Dublin employers’ federation who had the open support of nationalist and unionist politicians, of clerics of all denominations, and a compliant media. Crucially they were backed by a government based in London that unleashed the forces of the state against the workers. In 100 years, who will be remembered as the oppressors of today? Future generations will recall the native bourgeoisie backed by governments based in Dublin and Belfast as well as in London, by nationalist and unionist politicians, by multitudinous clerics, by a compliant media, and by the forces of international capitalism as represented by the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank – the Troika.
What are the means which they have used to oppress? Since the recent crisis of capitalism began this vast array of forces has used austerity and sectarianism, neo-liberalism, and religion to save capitalism from its own contradictions, and to protect the profits of speculators. We have been told that cuts and privatisation are a collective act of ‘tightening our belt’. But what does the interest of Warren Buffet in the privatisation of our natural resources say about whether this is a good or a bad deal for the Irish working class? David Cameron, George Osborne and their LibDem lapdogs insist that the way to establish economic recovery in the UK is through more cuts. Meanwhile, the folks on the hill in the Stormont Executive think the only answer to the massive economic problems faced by the people of Northern Ireland is to cut corporation tax, to become more like the Republic or Cyprus.
But austerity isn’t working. The result of austerity has been huge unemployment, a return to mass emigration, and the destruction of living standards through inflation, attacks on public services, and cuts to wages and conditions for those still in work. Never content with such levels of oppression, capitalism continues to exploit the situation with further privatisation. It is not working in the Republic, in the UK, in Greece, in Portugal, in Spain, in Italy; it is not working anywhere. Austerity is a complete failure.
Or is it? We need to ask ourselves the question, what is austerity for?
Austerity is not natural. It is the cold and calculated response of the bourgeoisie to the collapse of the neo-liberal model first elaborated by Friedman, Pinochet, Regan and Thatcher. Capitalism’s ideologues in economics faculties, departments of finance, and media outlets explain this away, and try to convince us that this is the natural way for the economy to work. It is not.
Austerity means class war: class war waged by the rich against the poor. Austerity’s job is to protect the interests of international financial capital, and it has been working a treat. While the overwhelming majority of the population has been hit by falling incomes, the world’s richest have been getting richer. And they’ve been splashing the cash, with record sales for super-yachts in 2012. There have been plenty of bailouts, but it is not the people that have been bailed out. It is the speculators, the global golden circle, ably assisted by their hirelings in various governments. And when the governments have not done exactly as desired, the international bourgeoisie have, in true Brechtian style, disbanded the government and appointed a new one.
We have stated on many occasions that the right wing forces have managed to imbed their ideology amongst the people. While many see and recognise that they and their communities are suffering badly they do not see a viable alternative. They have been infected by the Thatcherite disease of ‘there is no alternative’.
The practical manifestation of that reality can be seen in the outcome of last Wednesday’s Meath East bye-election. The two traditional right-wing parties received over 71% of the vote. Add in Direct Democracy Ireland to the equation and the right-wing received almost 78% of the vote. It is appropriate that we congratulate comrade Seamus McDonagh and the Party locally and regionally for the campaign which they conducted. Seamus is from the county and lives in the constituency; he is an activist in many campaigns and particularly so in the CAHWT; within our resources an excellent campaign was mounted; uniquely there has been the very welcome sight of socialist and progressive TDs endorsing Seamus’s campaign in Meath East. As always we must analyse our own performance and result, but the over-riding questions for anybody seeking changes are: why did 62% of the registered electorate not vote? and how do we end the FF /FG duopoly?
In 1848 Marx and Engels identified that the modern state under capitalism acts as the executive committee of the bourgeoisie. This is still obvious today. What difference to the tweedledum and tweedledee politics visible since the inception of the Irish state has the supposed watering down by coalition partners made? Next to none. In his own day, James Connolly mocked the bourgeois nationalists and economists who claimed that the decline of the Irish economy in the 1800s was a consequence of the act of union, of moving parliamentary power from Dublin to London. He pointed out that this was to fail to understand how economics shaped reality. Similarly, any idea that merely by ending partition the economic circumstances of the working class will miraculously change is a fantasy. As long as the major parties of the Dáil and the Assembly are infected with the neo-liberal consensus, the same exploitation and oppression will still exist, and the class power of the bourgeoisie will remain untouched. There is no reason to suppose that any coalition with Mary Lou McDonald as Tánaiste will be any more of an alternative than that with Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister.
If the neo-liberal policies of austerity have been one means of harassing the Irish working class, then sectarianism has been another. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfe Tone, the founder of the revolutionary tradition in which we stand. And we are still fighting the same struggle for the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter that he did. This single fact is the greatest indictment of how both unionism and nationalism have failed, and continue to fail. Both are reliant on continuing sectarian division. Both are obstacles on the road to socialism that must be overcome.
Unionism and nationalism have wasted the great potential of the Belfast Agreement. A strong bill of rights and the civic forum would have contributed greatly to creating the culture of active citizenship necessary to overcoming our divisions and developing an awareness of what we have in common. The Assembly parties acted quickly to kill off the civic forum, and the bill of rights is as far away as it ever was. The so-called Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy offered by the big two at Stormont is a sick joke. The state must use its power to encourage integration in our society – in education and housing in particular – not use its resources to keep our people divided on a “separate but equal” basis.
At Stormont, the nationalist and unionist parties work hand in glove. However, to maintain their position they need to keep sectarianism simmering, and to give the impression that they are standing up to the other side. Hence at a local level, we see anything and everything turned into sectarian squabbles: flags, playgrounds, even children packing shopping bags for charity. We have seen recently how dangerous this encouraging of low-level sectarianism is. The situation is made all the more dangerous by the on-going campaigns of dissidents who arrogantly and undemocratically assert their right to kill in the name of the people of Ireland when they know all too well that the people of Ireland reject and despise them.
While all this continues, attacks are made by the Stormont Executive on public services and on the living standards of the working class. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive – one of the major successes of the campaign for civil rights and an example of how effective state action can be – is being abolished without a peep from the parties that claim to be interested in human rights. The Housing Executive is not without its problems, but if there is one thing the current crisis has taught us it is that leaving housing provision in the hands of the private sector is a recipe for disaster.
The bedroom tax will be administered by Stormont. Two-thirds of Housing Executive tenants and 62% of working-age housing benefit recipients will be hit. Doubtless there will be some hand-ringing for public consumption, but the effects are potentially devastating. Who at Stormont is speaking for the working class in all this? No-one. We in the Workers’ Party must do so.
“The worker is the slave of capitalist society, the female worker is the slave of that slave.” With these words, Connolly got to the core of the oppression of women in the Ireland of his day. The publication of the report into the Magdalene Laundries reminds us of how shamefully working class women have been treated in Ireland. The place of women in Ireland was brutally illustrated by the tragic and shameful death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway. The time has come to put an end once and for all to the tragedy of Ireland’s refusal, north and south, to legislate for choice. We reaffirm our commitment to a woman’s right to choose, alongside a commitment to end the continued discrimination against women in employment, whether through lower pay or the social conditions and attitudes that make women more likely to end up in part-time and low-paid employment.
Comrades, the oppressors are known to us and so are the means they use to exploit. But what are the methods to defeat them?
The alternative to neo-liberalism is democracy. As austerity continues over the years ahead, and as things get worse for ordinary workers, those genuinely left people within the major Dáil and Stormont parties, in other parties, in trade unions, in the community sector, and voluntary groups will be faced with a question. Where do you stand? The balance of forces both north and south means that Left cooperation is essential. There have been many positive examples of this in recent times both north and south, most recently as already noted, with Left and progressive TDs endorsing Seamus McDonagh’s campaign in Meath East.
LookLeft is playing a vital role not only in getting our Party’s message across to larger numbers of people, but in also fostering cooperation within the left. It is vital that every party member and supporter does what he or she can to help develop the profile and impact of LookLeft. We have put our money where our mouth is, and the Workers’ Party will continue to work for greater cooperation on the left, north and south.
The alternative to both sectarianism and sexism is secularism. We welcome the establishment of the Marie Stopes Clinic in Belfast and recognise that the struggle against sexism in all its forms must remain a fundamental part of the struggle to build class consciousness and the conditions for the revolutionary transformation of Irish society. Intimately linked with the struggle for women’s liberation is the campaign for a secular Ireland, north and south. Much of what stands in the way of equality and social progress stems from religious beliefs being enshrined in law. Secularism is crucial to transforming our society in both the short- and the long-term.
When the failings of neo-liberalism can no longer be hidden,
When the political bankruptcy of the political elites north and south is stripped bare for all to see,
When the oppression of the working class by capitalism is intensifying,
Socialism is the alternative.
We honour the men and women of 1916 and our own deceased comrades not just in these moments of commemoration, but through creating a viable alternative to the oppressive, stultifying, exploiting politics of neo-liberalism – through the creation of a real future for ourselves and the future generations.
Connolly summed up his policy in a simple sentence. “Educate that you may be free”. We have set ourselves no small task – achieving full freedom for the working class. We know the method – educate, agitate, organise. We must take this to our communities, our workplaces, our schools, our colleges, our trade unions – everywhere. Only then can we bring about the revolutionary transformation of our society. This is the road to a democratic, secular, and socialist Republic.
Sunday, 31st March 2013
Who Benefits from Austerity? Public Seminar March 21, 2013Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
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WHO BENEFITS FROM AUSTERITY?
A Public Seminar organised by Wicklow Workers’ Party
Main Speaker: Dr Conor McCabe, School of Equality Studies, UCD
Reply: Padraig Mannion, Research Officer, Workers’ Party
Thursday 21st March, 8pm Strand Hotel, Bray Esplanade
We have had five years of Austerity: – cutbacks; hardship; falling wages; attacks on social welfare; rising unemployment; rising taxes and charges.
Every day in our communities, we see the victims of Austerity
But – who wins from Austerity?
And why are the government, the EU and the Troika so in favour of Austerity?
These presentations will be followed by a full and open debate and discussion chaired by: Frank Hayes, Chairman, Wicklow WP
WP Statement Condemning the Abolition of the NI Housing Executive January 10, 2013Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
Just before the statement, to record my own disgust at this decision by the DUP’s Nelson McCausland. The NIHE was founded in response to the need to end discrimination in housing, and has played a vital role since its inception in ensuring access to quality public sector housing. At a time when the failure of the private sector and the neo-liberal model of housing provision has never been more obvious, this is a perverse decision, one clearly ideologically-driven, and designed to lessen the role of the state in the economy. It is utterly regressive.
“This is a bad day for public sector housing and those on the housing waiting list in Northern Ireland”, Workers Party spokesperson John Lowry has said.
Reacting to the announcement by Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland to abandon Northern Ireland Housing Executive as a state provider of housing, Mr Lowry said,
“This is a dangerous and backward step. Experience has shown that the private sector and housing associations have failed to meet urgent housing need and where they are providers of housing they charge increasingly unaffordable rents”.
The Workers Party will be looking very closely at the detail of these proposals in relation to the future provision of housing in Northern Ireland.
“I would like to place on record my Party’s appreciation of the work undertaken by the NIHE in the past 40 years, during which time they transformed both the delivery and quality of housing in Northern Ireland” said Mr Lowry.
“For the past number of years there has been a steady erosion of the central role of the NIHE and today’s announcement marks the final move to towards handing responsibility for housing provision to the private sector.
“Profit and private greed not housing need will the hallmark of any new service. Those thousands of people in housing need will find little comfort in today’s announcement” he concluded.
WP Response to the Budget December 5, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
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The Workers’ Party have described Budget 2013 as “a prescription for poverty which protects the wealthy, lights the spark of a fire-sale of state assets, and delivers a vicious kick in the teeth to workers, the poor and those who are ill”.
Workers’ Party President Michael Finnegan said that: “The budget combined the misery of Scrooge, the destructiveness of Attila the Hun, and the class antagonism of William Martin Murphy in a plan which was drawn up with a view to pleasing the Troika rather than providing an economic programme which would serve the needs of the majority of the Irish people. The six austerity budgets have cumulatively taken €28 billion from the Irish economy and during that process the poor have got poorer while the rich have got a lot richer”.
“There are many petty and mean cuts in this Budget but a number stand out as being particularly low. The decision to increase the threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme and to treble the prescription charges paid by medical card holders is particularly mean and will hurt many people who have serious health issues and are on low incomes. I fear that it will now mean some of them will stop taking their medication because of the cost of it following these cuts”.
“The cuts to the children’s allowance which particularly affects larger families, and to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance are both an attack on poorer families and an attack on the rights of children. It is particularly appalling that these cuts, which will drive some families into dire poverty, are being implemented less than a month after the Children’s Rights Referendum of November 10th.”
“Once again the unemployed are viciously targeted in this budget. For example a person on Jobseeker’s Allowance, with four school-going children, will suffer a direct cut of €22 per week. This is excluding any extra medical costs arising from changes to the medical card scheme.”
“The further €13 million attack on the VECs, who are the major educational providers to the most deprived communities, allied to the existing cuts to CE schemes pushes training and education further from the reach on many working and unemployed people”.
“The co-called mansion tax” continued Mr. Finnegan “as well as the ending of the huge severance packages for retiring TDs and the payment of un-vouched expenses was welcome but was mere window dressing. The complete refusal of the government to introduce a third rate of income tax, for income in excess of €100,000 per year, shows the class nature and class bias of this government. Furthermore the refusal of the government to introduce a wealth tax at even the most minimal level speaks volumes”.
“This country needs almost 500,000 jobs. This budget will not create them, or even help in their creation. Instead, by attacking the least wealthy and lowest paid in society, the very people who spend all of their income in the local economy, the budget has put existing jobs in jeopardy thus adding to already record dole queues”
Feel free to add more from other parties in the comments
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To download the above file please click on the following link: CPOI WHICH WAY FOR SOC
This document is almost unique in containing within it different viewpoints from a variety of sources on the Irish left during the 1970s, in this instance on the nature of the Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party document “The Irish Industrial Revolution”. In this respect only one other document in the Archive is even somewhat similar, that being “Patterns of Betrayal”, issued by the Workers’ Party after the split in that party in the early 1990s – which also contained viewpoints from the various elements involved in the split. That said in both instances – and perhaps understandably – the line pursued by the parties that issued the documents is given particular prominence.
The pamphlet contains a review of the Irish Industrial Revolution and both parts of it. This review is highly uncomplimentary. A letter for against the review and for it are also published. The latter was written by Anthony Coughlan. The Sinn Féin view (that is SFWP) is also published, this being written by Eamonn Smullen, then Director of the Department of Economic Affairs in SFWP. To this there is an Editorial Board Reply and a further response from Sinn Féin, in this instance written by Seán Ó Cionnaith, PRO of SFWP. This too is given a response from the CPOI.
Rather than quoting from the individual pieces it is probably most appropriate to consider the Preface which notes:
At the beginning of 1977 Sinn Féin the Workers’ Party issued a contribution to the debate on how to solve Ireland’s economic problems, The irish Industrial Revolution. This document amounts to a massive revision republicanism, in that the role and significance of British imperialism in Ireland is minimised and the national question declared redundant.
The document contains two sections: a review of Irish economic history, which – in the name of Connolly – refutes, or attempts to refute, everything that Connolly stood for; and a section on economic planning, which is unfortunately grounded in fantasy rather than reality.
The document, marking as it does a radical break with republicanism, has been welcomed strongly in the two-nationist camp, particularly by the B.&I.C.O.; and the United Irishman in May published a defence of the historical section written by Cormac Ó Gráda, an avowed two-nationist, a lecturer in economics in U.C.D. described as a professional historian.
In March and April, the editorial board of the Irish Socialist published a review of the document. None of the questions raised in that review – questions which relate to where SF stands on important issues such as the E.E.C., the linking of the social and national struggles in the fight for independence and unity, their attitude to British imperialism- have yet been answered.
In light of the discussion generated by our review of the document, and the fact that some people have been unable to get copies, the editorial board of the Irish Socialist is reprinting the review, together with the published correspondence which we received on the matter.
And it concludes:
The review is reprinted in a spirit of fraternal criticism without which the political process can only stagnate. Through the pages of the Irish Socialist we will continue to advance a Marxist analysis of the Irish economy, subjecting all proposals for solutions to sharp scrutiny and making our own contribution to the debate on how to break the dominance of Britain and other foreign powers over our country in order to provide employment and material security for our people, in order to build the basis for building a new, a socialist, society in Ireland.
This is well worth reading in tandem with the “Irish Industrial Revolution”. All in all it is an impressive publication that attempts to engage with the chosen topic and although weighted towards the CPOI view enters into some debate and discussion.
To download this document please click on the following link: UI RUC 1978
This edition of the SFWP United Irishman is the first addition to the Archive from that newspaper from the latter part of the 1970s. The United Irishman of this period was tilted somewhat more towards the North and this is reflected in parts of the contents.
The cover is striking in the context of broader material from the SFWP with the headline R.U.C. Hangmen. The article accompanying it references a young man who was found hanged in his cell and suggests that this was part of a broader range of suspicious deaths in custody during the period. The piece concludes that:
All these incidents are taking place at a time when the RUC have a lavish advertising campaign to improve the image of the Force. Also they are taking up a higher military profile throughout the north. Armed with Sterlin sub-machine guns, and Mark 1 carbines, the RUC recently have started to patrol areas of the border usually covered by the British Army.
The civilian policing service sought ten years ago by the civil rights marchers is still as far away as ever.
On the front page there’s another article that links to the Arms Trial, noting that the Irish Government had ‘dropped its attempts to recover money from German arms dealer Otto Schleuter’ which the German had been given for an arms cargo in 1969. It notes that ‘An anonymously published booklet called ‘Fianna Fáil and the IRA’ was issued in 1970 and claimed that Haughey and Blaney used funds [from the Exchequer] to undermine the Civil Rights struggle, buy traitors to split the Republican Movement and set up and arm the Provisionals.
A third article engages with nuclear power and the position of SFWP against ‘the building of a nuclear power station’ in Ireland. The reasons presented against such an installation are strongly linked to economic rather than environmental concerns – in particular the fact that ‘uranium is a very scarce commodity’ and ‘a nuclear power station is very costly to build’.
Other articles of particular interest include ‘Why Republicans Oppose Federalism’, part of a series of three articles on the topic on page 4. This was directly oriented towards countering the then Sinn Féin policy based on the Éire Nua document which staunchly advocated a federal Ireland.
Notably the introductory paragraph notes:
For almost 200 years the objective of the majority on this island has been to unite all of the people in a single unitary Republican State.
This Republic is now being opposed by the Provisionals, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the right wing of the SDLP.
Also of interest on page 5 is a critique of Dr. Noel Browne who had recently made what is characterised as a ‘sweeping attack on Irish Republicanism’. This was in the context of a meeting where Browne had delivered a ‘prepared script’. The UI also notes that:
The other SLP speaker at the same meeting, David Neligan, also was critical of Republicans, and in particular Sinn Féin, the Workers’ Party who, he said, ‘would have to prove their socialism’. This of course is true of everybody – including David Neligan.
The document also has a page devoted to international affairs, including Cuba’s Agricultural Revolution and the World Trade Union Conference in Prague.
Eminently Predictable but Still Sickening July 25, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Economy, Fianna Fáil, Workers' Party.
The BBC reports today news that
An Irish oil exploration company has announced that it has found between 1bn and 1.6bn barrels of oil in Ireland’s first commercially viable oil well.
Providence Resources has been carrying out tests at the Barryroe oil well 70km off the coast of County Cork, and the find is four times what was expected.
The CEO assured us that
The exchequer would get sizable income from the successful exploitation of offshore fields both in Nothern Ireland and the Republic
Um, maybe not, thanks to our friends in Fianna Fáil.
Who is the chief executive? One Tony O’Reilly Jr.