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Latest edition of An Phoblacht out on Friday August 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.
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• David Cameron and unionist parties reinforcing political logjams, Gerry Adams warns – ‘The political process is in trouble’
• Dawn Purvis, former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, writes in ‘Uncomfortable Conversations’
• Lining out for Gaza – Ireland rugby international Trevor Hogan talks to An Phoblacht about standing up for Palestine
• After the Elections – What Now? Jack O’Connor (SIPTU General President) and Jimmy Kelly (Regional Secretary, Unite the Union)
• Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds RIP – One of the architects of the Peace Process
• Caithfear deireadh a chur leis an gCóireáil Dhíreach
• Unionists surrender to the Tory war on the welfare state – Francie Molloy MP
• Irish teen on hunger strike in Egyptian prison
• Secret files on British Army’s notorious Ulster Defence Regiment revealed in new book
• Géarchéim Tithíocht ag Dul in Olcas sa gCaoi go bhfuil Praghsanna ag Dul i Méad
• Martin Ferris TD asks: ‘Who is standing up for farmers?’
• National Women’s Council of Ireland on ‘Women in politics: Barriers to women block progress’
• The myth of media balance
• Ireland and World War 1: Escalation, opposition and commemoration
• Mitchel McLaughlin – World War 1, the Easter Rising and ‘The Right to Remember’
• Russian sanctions herald push to new world order

And as for that ‘universal service delivery’… August 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Steve White a while back drew attention here to this most interesting document from the FG linked think tank, The Collins Institute. It’s well worth a read, if only to understand contemporary efforts to reshape the political narrative in the years to come on the right of centre. So, this new Just Republic offers gems like the following:

Ireland needs, in our view, a more proactive and Enabling State. One that rejects both the old centralised model of universal service delivery, built around a one size fits all approach, and the more recent public management approach which seeks to turn citizens into mere consumers. Public services should be judged, instead, by the extent to
which they help build the capabilities of its citizens.

Can’t help but think that whatever else this part of the island has seen it surely isn’t any serious ‘universal service delivery’ centralised or not, and as for a one size fits all approach. If only.

Meanwhile, at the SBP August 26, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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One suspects Cliff Taylor, former editor (though continuing columnist) of the Sunday Business Post, may have smiled at the news in that paper at the weekend that:

The Sunday Business Post has recorded audited circulation figures for the period January-June of 34,022. This figure, verified by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, shows a marginal decline on the July-December 2013 figure of 300 copies. Last week’s figures thus bring to an end a period of decline in sales at the newspaper.
This performance confirms the strength of the Post’s brand as Ireland’s leading quality business title on Sunday. The paper has maintained its popularity among key decisions makers in business and public life, and these figures reflect the growing strength of the Post’s recovery following the re-launch of the redesigned paper in late November last year.

It’s not bad way to go out on, and it was he who resigned his position – talking about pastures new. The SBP has – and this is perhaps an irony of sorts – suffered grievously in the crisis, though so have other newspapers. In 2009 it sold 57,783 copies in June of that year, in 2012 it sold on average 39,416. There are those of us who might argue that this is an object lesson in what the outcomes of austerity actually are.

The Phoenix argues in the last edition that there was a shift in editorial and content direction after the newspaper was rescued financially a while back. They suggest that there were more human interest stories, less financial and economic ones. And more of the former on the front page than in times past.
The new regime has seen cuts and The Phoenix suggests that ‘Key Capital has let it be known that the hacks can organise themselves within the NUJ as before; it’s just that management will not be sitting down with them to discuss anything like wages and conditions’. Nice. And slightly off topic, I’ve often noted here before that the nature of the media workplace probably informs a lot more of the right of centre commentary as regards public sector, state provision and so on than might be expected at first sight.

But, be all that as it may, a good word for Taylor, who despite being firmly of the orthodoxy has never shied away from pointing out when that orthodoxy is acting hypocritically. And while his proscriptions have again been of that orthodoxy they’ve always been stated openly – perhaps too openly and bluntly. But there’s a use in that away from the faux populism of other Sunday (and daily) media. So I’d think he’ll be missed, though I hope he continues to write that weekly column, and there are those of us who will wander at what sort of paper the SBP will be in the future. The Phoenix believes that it is being pitched between the SBP as was and the late and not necessarily lamented Sunday Tribune. That makes sense, there’s definitely a gap in the market there.

But the Tribune seems to me have been rhetorically less wedded to the orthodoxy, so that might prove a little more of a feat than first imagined.

Redmond squared… August 25, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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John Bruton is given a second bite at the cherry in the Irish Times in relation to his wish to have the Home Rule Act of 1914 commemorated
, though it’s hard to view this latest missive as anything more than a restatement of what he has said already.

When the Home Rule Bill received the royal assent on September 18th, 1914, it was the first time that a Bill granting Ireland Home rule had ever passed into law. The struggle to achieve such an outcome had gone on since the 1830s. Daniel O’Connell, Isaac Butt and Charles Stewart Parnell had all failed to achieve what John Redmond and John Dillon achieved. O’Connell did not achieve Repeal, and Parnell did not get Home Rule passed. Yet they are, rightly, commemorated.

But, as is noted in comments below the piece, by positioning this ‘achievement’ in that historical context it demonstrates just how miserably inadequate it actually was. The Home Rule Act was only passed because of an amending act allowing for the exclusion of some Ulster Counties. In other words it did not reach the standards set by those worth predecessors Bruton names. Surely another word for that is… failure. But to Bruton this is quite different. He sees the commemoration of 1916 as…

[celebrating] a violent struggle and, by omission, underplay the value of a successful peaceful parliamentary struggle. That would be a distortion of history and could be used by some to weaken belief in parliamentary methods.

But the Home Rule parliamentary struggle wasn’t successful, even on its own terms. And he persists in overstating what the 1914 Act meant:

What is provable is that 100 years ago next month, against huge pressure and prejudice, Irish parliamentarians, a small minority in Westminster and far from home, by sheer persistence were able to force a British parliament to put Irish legislative independence on the statute book without firing a shot.

But, again, that legislative independence was curtailed by its essentially partitionist element, and also – and as importantly by the limited nature of the form of Home Rule that was on offer.

And there’s some curious and unconvincing thoughts as regards the future in a HR 28-county Ireland:

I believe Irish politics under Home Rule would have evolved quickly once the Great War was over. The Irish Labour party and Sinn Féin could have gained strength in the new Dublin Parliament. Although Home Rule fell short of dominion status, there would have been incessant pressure for more powers, and Ireland, with its own parliament, would inevitably have benefited from the loosening of ties to London as Canada, Australia and the rest did. A Home Rule Parliament that pressed for dominion status and greater independence would have had the support of the British Labour party and the Asquith Liberals, both of which had, I believe, favoured dominion status for Ireland in the 1918 election.

I’ve got to check if Labour and the Liberal’s supported ‘dominion status’ for Ireland in 1918, but if so his reading of that seems ahistorical – at least in the context of his piece, because that support came on foot of the events of 1916, not 1914. In other words, for better or worse, it was advanced nationalism and republicanism and the actions of same which pushed those parties towards support of lesser forms of limited self-government. Absent those actions where would the appetite have been for any such change – whatever about the idea of ‘incessant pressure for more powers’ – something that, in any event, London would have been unlikely to want to gift, and Dublin would have been in no real position to force London to do anything about.

As ever, he does not address the issue of the violence at state level during the War. It is strange and striking that that does not feature in his thinking. But what does is a remarkable and arguably undue focus on parliamentary politics to the exclusion of all else. I’ve noted before that he seems unable to quite grasp that what Redmond wanted was not independence but home rule. Here he seems to be unable to recognise that the parliamentary ‘achievements’ he lauds did not take place in an Irish parliament, that they were shaped by the frankly undemocratic structures that had been imposed – quite deliberately – to constrain any full expression of the Irish will on this island. It is a telling oversight, and all the more so because it is made by a former Taoiseach of this state and this Republic.

And I would hazard that it is that fact that ultimately drove the push for independence and the shift towards advanced nationalism and republicanism so rapidly in the 1916 period on (though let’s be clear, it wasn’t just 1916 that was driving this. The events of 1913 onwards in the North were in and of themselves radicalising nationalists – something else that Bruton simply ignores) was a function of a recognition of how limited the supposed achievements of 1914 actually were.

Home rule was not enough, not by a long way. In truth it probably never was.

Albert Reynolds… August 24, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Not sure why, perhaps it’s age, but the death of Albert Reynolds really brings back that strange period of the early 1990s – not a time I ever thought I’d be that nostalgic about. Things were really beginning to change – for better and for worse, though definitely for the better in relation to the North. And I’d have to admit a certain admiration for the man. I was only very slightly surprised to realise he’d only been Taoiseach for three years. I’d have thought it was four or five, but there one has it.

This isn’t an unconflicted history – the legacy of the X case in particular remains with us and it remains chilling to think of a young woman being forced to stay in the country by the state, of which he was Taoiseach. There was the Beef Tribunal, and a curious lack of ability to keep his governments on the road at crucial junctures. But there were socially reforming aspects to his governments, not least as noted earlier, in relation to lgbt rights.

Perhaps it was that Reynolds was – even factoring in his being an FF politician, clearly a sensible, quite unassuming and in many respects decent person who achieved some really quite remarkable things in retrospect (SonofStan compares him to Major, another not dissimilar politician – and there’s definitely something in that, truth is either of them could quite happily have been in any party of the centre left with, one suspects, little real problem. That’s far from unproblematic, the term ‘pragmatism’ is far too often a short-hand for cleaving to the orthodoxy. But both were in some ways oddly unpragmatic and willing to bend that orthodoxy, at least in relation to the North).

Also noted in comments is the fact that he left a paid pensionable job to go into promotion and management in the show band scene (and as noted in comments and in this fairly sympathetic piece by Stephen Collins, interesting to reflect upon the sort of snobbery that sometimes evinced amongst the great and good in political commentary at the time and after, as well as his financial interests in petfood which appears to have been regarded as almost beyond belief – though there was also a similar enough sort of snobbery over his assertion he was a one-page man in meetings, to which perhaps a lot of us who’ve sat through interminable political and business meetings, more power to him). I find that particularly admirable. I wouldn’t want to overstate it, but that impulse to go in a radically different direction perhaps hints in a weird way that far from Reynolds being cut from, say, the same cloth as a Haughey (a man with an almost stratospheric level of pretension and old fashioned self-regard as well as a truly strange almost 19th century concept of himself as a political figure) he was by contrast perhaps representative of a somewhat more modern, if not necessarily contemporary, Ireland.

Well, that’s alright then… August 23, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
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…reading the latest good news report on the economy – it’s all about consumer spending, or perhaps from their perspective more importantly consumer sentiment, this time from Investec, about how all is getting better I was struck in particular by the following:

The country’s unemployment rate of 11.5% is back in line with the euro zone average for the first time since October 2008 and the positive trends are set to continue, the stockbrokers added.

Fantastic… but hold on, we might be shuffling back to euro zone ‘averages’ but what is the level of those averages compared to 2008 – and all that before we even begin to unpack how that figure is arrived at and whether it actually masks significantly greater unemployment levels…

Wage disparities… August 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Culture, Economy, Irish Politics.
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The link to the Guardian below is no longer live, here’s more on the general topic.

The piece in the Guardian this week on high pay is very disturbing. Note that it makes the point that the bosses of the 100 biggest listed companies in the UK are making not, five, not ten, not twenty, not thirty, not forty, not fifty, not sixty, not seventy, not ninety times more than their workers, but on average 143 times as much. And the figures reveal not just a disparity in the UK but also globally that should be deeply thought-provoking – for example ‘The pay gap is widest at Rangold Resources, where boss Mark Bristow was paid £4.4m last year, nearly 1,500 times that of his average employee, many of whom work in the company’s African mines’.

Even within the UK the figures are stunning in terms of pointing to the disparities…

WPP founder, Sir Martin Sorrell, received nearly £30m last year, 780 times the £38,000 earned by his average worker. At Next, Lord Wolfson received £4.6m, while his staff, most of whom work on the shop floor, typically took home £10,000 – about 459 times less than their boss. The disparity at Next would have been greater had Wolfson not chosen to waive a £3.8m bonus and share the sum among the company’s 20,000 staff.

780 times? 459 times? This is quite insane. And to what purpose? Here is the emergence not of the super rich, but the hyper rich. As always the dangers of untrammelled wealth and power and their distorting effect upon polities are all too evident (and in a sense that Bruton speech in NYC last year pointed that up – how glibly dismissive about the lives of others those there were, both explicitly and implicitly). Though even in the context of reformism something can be done.

…campaigners are demanding more radical measures to tackle the widening gap between the UK’s select group of well rewarded executives and its 30 million-strong labour force.
Wilson called for worker representation on company boards and remuneration committees, a legally binding target for a reduction in inequality, and the introduction of a maximum pay ratio. At the retailer John Lewis, the ratio is capped at 75:1. At TSB bank, it is 65:1.

Even those ratio’s are madness. 75 times the average? 65 times? And worth reading the article for the evasive response from the British government. Though all that said, at least it appears to be an issue in Britain. What about here?

Marriage equality? A voice from the beyond… August 20, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Reading Una Mullaly’s piece here on ‘balance’ in the run up to the same-sex marriage referendum there was a particularly interesting element that struck me. Mullaly’s argument is that:

On Derek Mooney’s radio programme on RTÉ Radio 1 in January, a chat took place between Mooney, who happens to be gay, Tiernan Brady of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, and RTÉ broadcaster Michael Murphy. During the programme, statements in support of marriage equality were made.

And on foot of that a complaint was made to the BAI from an outfit called Family and Media Association that resulted in a BAI ruling that ‘included the presenter making a statement in respect of changes in Irish law in respect of same-sex marriage that entailed the articulation of a partisan position on a matter of current affairs’. Heavy handed stuff, many of us will think, and all credit to RTÉ who argued in contrast that not every mention of marriage equality should require some a discussion of the ‘rights and wrongs or otherwise’. I’m not fully convinced that the fact we’re in a run-up to a referendum on the matter tilts the balance towards the BAI’s ruling, not least that the precise date of the referendum had yet to be set when the programme aired (and there was even a question as to whether it and others would) and it still hasn’t been.

And it would be interesting, would it not, to see examples from other pre-referendum periods in regard to matters various and examine how they were treated in respect of same.

All that aside there was a comment that suggested that the FMA closed up shop 14 months before the complaint, sometime in 2012 – and raised the interesting question as to whether a non-existent organisation can lodge a complaint with the BAI? It is odd, because the FMA, whose website I’ve seen before, has a post on it dated 28 August 2013 suggesting that it requires €40,000 to survive for the next 8 months and calling for donations. That is the last post – so to speak. In the accompanying letter from the founder of the FMA it notes that it ‘serves 5,000 people every month through our newsletter, email and text subscription service..’ and that ‘as with any service there are costs to cover… we have worked hard to keep our costs to the absolute minimum to fulfil our mission’. Must try that with the CLR ;) It notes:

It is, however, with great sadness that I have to inform you today that we only have enough funding to last until 31st August 2013, after which time we will have to suspend our service.

In a way it did. For there have been no public posts to the website since that month.

But as is the way of such things it has found a new life on Facebook with its very own webpage which has been irregularly posted to, though – perhaps understandably from their perspective, no end of excitement about the latest turn of events.

Interview with PBPA’s Gerry Carroll in the Belfast Telegraph August 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.
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Rebecca Black talks to Gerry Carroll, People Before Profit’s first elected councillor in Northern Ireland, about his objective to think global, act local, and to offer people an alternative to traditional politics.

26th Desmond Greaves Annual School 2014 August 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Greaves Leaflet July 2014 1_Page_1

Greaves Leaflet July 2014 1_Page_2

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