Fine Gael and single party government… December 6, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Just this week I was talking to someone who suggested that we might hear some unusually sympathetic noises to the the Labour Party from various quarters over the next while, in part because there’s a sense that their weakness is SF’s opportunity. And what’s this in the SBP, but Backroom arguing that:
Fine Gael’s new communications director, Majella Fitzpatrick (ex-Ibec) started work last week in Leinster House. One of her first tasks was probably to make sure that the more voluble members of Fine Gael’s parliamentary party said or did nothing to steal the limelight before or during the Labour Party conference in Killarney this weekend.
And s/he notes how Enda Kenny was out of the country for Gilmore’s big speech. In that respect s/he notes how Kenny has watched with interest previous coalition governments which tussled with the vagaries of party positioning – not least Labour and FG themselves. Backroom points to the 1997 Election which s/he claims saw Bruton ‘swallow hard’ as he attempted to keep the LP content in government. Though the parties went on to lose the election, and while FG did alright, LP faltered badly. Backroom doesn’t suggest why that might be though. A couple of thoughts come to mind, not least that under Ahern Fianna Fáil presented a more populist, and more engaged alternative than the LP and FG together.
Interestingly s/he argues that:
They want to be re-elected in 2016, something Fine Gael has never done. So the party has a vested interest in helping Labour recover, at least a little bit, so the two parties can be re-elected together. Fine Gael’s main interest is to ensure that Labour holds enough seats at the next election to put the government back together. If this means swallowing hard here and there on either policy or pork-barrel local political projects, so be it.
The logic is curious. If Bruton did his best in 1997 and Labour failed to win sufficient seats, then why would Kenny expend energy on an LP that appears much much more damaged politically than it was back then? Or perhaps it is that in terms of government formation for FG to return to government their preferred option remains the FG/LP coalition than others which might be a lot less congenial. To put it another way, there’s no other choice really. Even if that seems like a long shot, and on current polling figures it would have to be seen as such. Adrian Kavanagh’s extrapolation of the most recent RedC/SBP poll which saw a slight LP improvement, albeit within the margin of error, suggested the following outcome:
Fianna Fail 40, Fine Gael 60, Sinn Fein 20, Labour 16, 0, Independents, Green Party and Others 22.
In a 158 Dáil that would mean 80 odd was the figure necessary to reach. That would leave FG and Labour four or five seats beneath that. Of course there are like-minded folk of both left and right amongst the Independents, but…
The fevered few who speculated before the last election that Fine Gael might get an overall majority have packed that dream away. While some in Fine Gael occasionally like to point out when Labour irritates them too much that Fine Gael could always form the next government with Fianna Fáil, few in either party consider it as a preferred option.
I think that is sensible of FG. Their poll figures have been on the slide now for years. Though in fairness they are the one force to remain consistently strong and in or around their current place. Kavanagh argues, convincingly, that the only genuinely stable configuration at this point in the polls would be an FG/FF option. Small wonder FG might be more keen to hope for the best with Labour.
Sean Heuston Society – Lecture on December 7th on the ICA at the National History Museum, Collins Barracks December 5, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in 1913, Culture, Irish History, Irish Politics, The Left.
This Saturday, 7th December, the Sean Heuston Society are hosting a lecture on the formation and activities of the Irish Citizen Army.
This will take place at 1pm in the National History Museum, Collins Barracks.
This event is free of charge and non party political.
Kevin Morley, author of ‘A Descriptive History of the Irish Citizen Army’ will be main speaker.
Also we’ll have a descendant of Michael Mallin who’ll be talking about modern day revisionists who attempt to apply 21st century standards to men and women born in the 19th century.
As for the unions… December 4, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.
Some more choice quotes from Lucinda Creighton’s thoughts this weekend on why collective bargaining is a bad idea, a piece which rapidly – too rapidly, broadens out into a critique of unions as a whole. By the way this is taken from the Sunday Business Post but she has been writing far and wide (well, that would be the Independent in various forms) over the past week or two, or three.
She writes that ‘Eamon Gilmore’s announcement that he will push forward legislation on collective bargaining is yet another example of the LP’s politicisation of policy that has scant regard for the working people of Ireland’.
Tomboktu has already pointed to some problematic aspects of the following on this thread:
The LP’s vision for Ireland is for a minority of well-paid union leaders, such as SIPTU’s Jack O’Connor, to claim the right to represent all of the workers of Ireland. These are the same trade unions, under the same leadership, that right throughout the Celtic Tiger period demanded continuous wage inflation, not just for their workers, but also for their own leadership. There was no economic or evidence-based rationale underpinning their demands for wage inflation. They demanded such inflation because the coffers of the state were full, or because a company’s profits were growing.
The use of the term ‘wage inflation’ only adds to the mess. But there’s more:
Most recently Jack O’Connor told the government that the improved economic position of Ireland meant that SIPTU would soon be demanding wage inflation for all of their workers in both public and private sectors.
The fact that competitiveness has improved, which inevitably has incentivised employers to take on more employees, is dismissed by the very same people as some sort of neoliberal speaking point.
When was the last time we heard of an Irish Trade Union leader talk about competitiveness or wage restraint? In March 2003, Germany’s SPD the party from the same European family as Labour in Ireland, introduced reforms including cutting unemployment benefits, making ti easier to hire and fire workers and raising the retirement age.
At the time Agenda 2010 was approved by almost 90 per cent of SPD party delegates. These decisions were taken in the face of enormous trade union opposition to structural changes i the German labour force. The SPD showed leadership in facing down the TU movement which at the time opposed the Agenda. WIthin the last ten years the number of unemployed people in Germany declined from 4.4 million to 2.9 million while employment rose by 3.1million to 41.7million.
Unfortunate timing that reference to the SPD given last weeks events, not least the issue of retirement ages – even if they are as Die Linke notes ‘watered down’.
The public coffers may today be in better shape than 2010, and employment may be growing, but do those who shed crocodile tears for the working people in Ireland actually care about the 280,000 people currently on the dole and without work? All the evidence suggests not.
Teachers’ unions protecting some longer term members against the interests of new teachers, or ESB unions protected over-inflated pensions against the interests of small businesses who rely on their services – the same small businesses that represent 70 per cent of all workers in Ireland – provide absolute proof of the insularity espoused by union leadership. The trade union movement is bereft of leadership that cares about all the workers in Ireland, rather than simply its own sectorial membership and the fees they collect.
Quite simply, Ireland does not need collective bargaining. Workers’ rights are extremely well protected in this country, thanks largely to the rules and regulations set down by the European Union. Workers enjoy high standards of healthy and safety in the workplace, relatively high play and conditions vis-a-vis the rest of Europe, and strong protection in labour law, with recourse to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Labour Relations Commission.
She concludes that this is a Labour Party stunt. This may well be true, more on the proposal later, but…
One small point. Collective bargaining isn’t as Creighton seems to argue, a (pernicious) optional extra, it is a recognised (by some) as a human right. But who would that be?
As this useful wiki notes:
Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights identifies the ability to organize trade unions as a fundamental human right. Item 2(a) of the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work defines the “freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining” as an essential right of workers.
It would be interesting to know how those who contest the notion stand in relation to that. Or is it that some rights are fundamental, and others… well… they just aren’t. Or as noted in Tomboktu’s other post on the matter from yesterday, that somehow we’re going to wind up with an Irish solution to a supposedly Irish problem that will gut meaning from the very idea.
The piece goes on to note:
In June 2007 the Supreme Court of Canada extensively reviewed the rationale for regarding collective bargaining as a human right. In the case of Facilities Subsector Bargaining Association v. British Columbia, the Court made the following observations:
The right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work… Collective bargaining is not simply an instrument for pursuing external ends…rather [it] is intrinsically valuable as an experience in self-government… Collective bargaining permits workers to achieve a form of workplace democracy and to ensure the rule of law in the workplace. Workers gain a voice to influence the establishment of rules that control a major aspect of their lives.
That point alone is essential. The workplace is to some extent – and perhaps unfortunately given its domination financially, time-wise and in other respects – absolutely key to our lives, where working. Any curtailment on workers autonomy within that, anything that tilts the ground yet further towards employers, is something that has to be resisted or pushed back.
Many thanks to the person who forwarded the following from the Official Republican Movement:
Attached is an oration read at the Official Republican Movement’s Edentubber commemoration held on Sunday 11th November 2013 on the Louth/Armagh border, to mark the anniversary of the deaths of five republican activists killed when a landmine exploded prematurely.
The Volunteers who died at the Carrickarnon border crossing were Michael Watters, whose home was destroyed in the explosion, Paul Smith, from Bessbrook, Oliver Craven, from Newry, George Keegan from Enniscorthy and Patrick Parle from Wexford
The commemoration took place at Edentubber Martyrs monument at the foot of Edentubber Mountain. Francis O’Donoghue former Sinn Fein/Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party Councillor for Carrickmacross and veteran of ‘Operation Harvest’, the IRA’s 1956 to 1962 border campaign gave the oration to the Socialist Republican attendees.
Chairing the occasion was a representative of the 1950’s campaign Veterans Association, Oliver McCall followed by a social in Newry.
An Phoblacht December 2013 December 3, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
THE DECEMBER 2013 ISSUE… OUT NOW
Military Reaction Force – BBC TV Panorama exposes undercover British Army death squad killing civilians in Belfast but what took the mainstream media so long?
Fr Alec Reid, ‘Chaplain to the Peace Process’ – by Gerry Adams
Gas price rises – What Bord Gáis privatisation would mean
‘The Escape’ – the H-Blocks Break-Out – The inside story of a spectacular IRA operation
Caithfear aitheantas iomlán a éileamh don Ghaeilge san AE
Breaking the Berlin Wall, Breaking the Border – Mark Moloney at EU conference in Brussels on Irish reunification with Martina Anderson MEP
Bord Gáis privatisation – Raising prices with temperature in potential sell-offs
Haass Talks: Sinn Féin’s proposals on the past, parades and flags
In Pictures: Marking the 100th anniversary of the Irish Volunteers in Dublin’s Rotunda
Megan Fearon MLA: ‘Where are all the women?’ – Ten female MLAs out of 29 is relatively good, but two female TDs out of 14 just doesn’t cut it, Megan says
People’s Referendum on Irish Unity – Strabane and Lifford say ‘Yes’
Eoin Ó Murchú’s thought-provoking view on exiting the bail-out and what he thinks should happen next
Italian award for ‘The Diary of Bobby Sands: The Story of an Irish Young Man’ ahead of Seamus Heaney, Roddy Doyle and Joseph O’Connor
The Irish Government’s complicity in global tax avoidance. ‘Dublin is the bag man for multinationals,’ says Ciarán Quinn
Remembering the Past: ‘Freedom Struggle by the Provisional IRA’. Mícheál Mac Donncha looks at a book that broke through media and political censorship when Sinn Féin was a banned organisation
Céard is fiú Foras na Gaeilge mura bhfuil acmhianní aige le obair a dhéanamh
Give eels a chance – Robert Allen with a flavour of what makes Lough Neagh’s eels regarded as the best in Europe
John Maclean – Phil Mac Giolla Bháin on the 90th anniversary of death of the Scottish revolutionary socialist, comrade of Connolly and ‘Lenin’s man in Scotland’
The importance of culture in struggle – Ex-POW Peadar Whelan talks to Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh about his new book, ‘Language, Resistance and Revival: Republican Prisoners and the Irish Language in the North of Ireland’
Deasún Breatnach – An Appreciation of the former An Phoblacht editor by Gerry Adams
‘Between the Posts’ – One equal temper of heroic hearts. After the Ireland v All Blacks thriller, Ciarán Kearney looks at sport’s effects on the mood of a nation and Katie Taylor versus Noam Chomsky
All this and much, much more…
Kevin Barry House,
44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, Ireland.
Tel: 353 1 8726100
The costs of filling that basket… December 1, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, The Left.
…here’s a piece in the Observer on Amazon that is well worth reading in relation to its work practices and just how its operations function and what the implications of same are. The description of work practices, lack of recognition of unions, tax affairs and so on is not news, but it puts it together in a neat encapsulation that should cause pause for thought.
Some key sentences:
“We are the most customer-centric company on earth,” we’re told in our induction briefing, shortly before it’s explained that if we’re late we’ll get half a point, and after three of them we’re out. What constitutes late, I ask. “A minute,” I’m told.
It’s taxes, of course, that pay for the roads on which Amazon’s delivery trucks drive, and the schools in which its employees are educated, and the hospitals in which their babies are born and their arteries are patched up, and in which, one day, they may be nursed in their dying days. Taxes that all its workers pay, and that, it emerged in 2012, it tends not to pay. On UK sales of £4.2bn in 2012, it paid £3.2m in corporation tax. In 2006, it transferred its UK business to Luxembourg and reclassified its UK operation as simply “order fulfilment” business. The Luxembourg office employs 380 people. The UK operation employs 21,000. You do the math.
Brad Stone tells me that tax avoidance is built into the company’s DNA. From the very beginning it has been “constitutionally oriented to securing every possible advantage for its customers, setting the lowest possible prices, taking advantage of every known tax loophole or creating new ones”.
Just as Amazon has eroded 200 years’ worth of workers’ rights through its use of agencies and rendered a large swath of its workers powerless, so it has pulled off the same trick with corporate responsibility. MPs like to slag off Amazon and Starbucks and Google for not paying their taxes but they’ve yet to actually create the legislation that would compel them to do so.
That last is crucial. Nick Cohen’s old quote about the power of the state remaining paramount even in this period and yet being underused (I paraphrase) is one I’ve repeated time and again – and here’s another couple of thoughts from him from over the Summer on this very topic. Amazon acts in certain ways because it is permitted to do so. This doesn’t exculpate it. There are businesses that operate in markedly different ways, even while putting profit at the centre of their activities. But – and yes, neo-liberalism, is the proper term, whether in its social democratic or conservative incarnations has permitted this state of affairs to develop. As Amazon will no doubt correctly point out, it works within the constraints of labour and all other laws, while running rings around them.
It’s amazing how pervasive Amazon can be. Let’s not forget the Kindle. And it’s also important to reflect upon how in cities and towns books stores and DVD and music stores have retreated. I was at Tesco in Clare Hall for the first time ever this weekend and there was a small franchise selling a few books and that was it. Tesco itself sells a very limited range. Likewise with music and so on. It’s a strange dynamic where in some respects the market retreats, or transforms, from the physical space and yet manifests itself in larger comprehensive but deeply problematic ways, as the article outlines. And this is – ironically – a significant problem for other much smaller businesses. The article notes how one supplier even though they refused to use Amazon had the giant use their name. They’re suing. It will be interesting to see how that works out.
One last thought. Look at the description of work practices, of taxation approaches and so on. One analysis in the article suggest that that is unsustainable, but I wonder. I have the sense that actually relatively minimal changes could be introduced that would still allow the company to make significant profits, one need only list some of the areas where its approach seems perverse… low quality safety shoes etc. It would be more difficult but it wouldn’t be impossible. The question is why it doesn’t. The answer to that gets to the heart of all that is wrong with the model.
I’ve found that establishing contact individually online with book or DVD sellers is often easier and offers close enough or better prices and at least there’s the sense that one is minimising exploitative aspects. Any recommended workarounds other people use?
Social mobility redux… November 29, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, The Left.
Just a quick one, I’ve referenced a piece in Prospect some while back in relation to the broader issue of social mobility which has now achieved a certain prominence in contemporary socio-political debates. But there’s another piece in the most recent edition which I think takes a significantly muddled approach to the topic, arguing for example a piece by lecturer Jill Boucher.
I do, however, pay attention to, and get irritated by, much of the discussion of social mobility. This is something I do know a bit about from my own research into neurodevelopmental disorders, learning abilities and disabilities; and which I have reasons to feel strongly about from my experience of adopting two children.
In the case of the nature versus nurture debate relating to social mobility, I find it hard to understand why a substantial group of people, including many influential educationalists and sociologists, fail to accept the overwhelming evidence that genes contribute to academic achievement and thereby social mobility.
And leads to the fair enough question ‘Still on the subject of language: why is it that “social mobility” is almost invariably assumed to refer to upward mobility? Is downward mobility so undesirable, even shameful, as to be unmentionable?’. That’s fair enough, but note where she herself positions herself.
…is life really so dreadful in the middle echelons that we want to escape it? Personally, I don’t want to be a tycoon, over-paid celebrity or member of the landed gentry. And suppose that Tim-nice-but-dim, having benefitted from the small classes and intensive coaching provided by a modest independent school, nevertheless drops down the social scale in comparison with his parents; but works hard, pays his taxes, and is a model husband and father. Is this so deplorable?
But that’s not quite the point. And consider too the following:
Certainly we need wealth creators, potential Nobel Prize winners, and probably very many more computer whizz kids than our education system is producing at present. But we also need good lorry drivers (my older son is one), chefs (my younger son is one), care workers, cleaners, gardeners, bricklayers. And would we not all want our adult children first and foremost to be happy, well-liked and respected, people to be proud of, whether they clean windows for a living or work as a surgeon or barrister?
Boucher isn’t unthinking, and despite some once-modish, but now anything but, tilts at ‘political correctness’ she raises some fair points. But the problem with that is the set of assumptions that underly it, not so much the concept of downward mobility, which is in fact actually quite sensible but the unspoken idea that class structures rests upon genetic inheritance, as distinct from much more proximate and contingent causes.
The first comment under it by Marc Latham is the one which most neatly engages with the argument…
I think it’s okay to think that genes affect intelligence, just not to suppose that those genes always belong to certain people: such as the higher classes with regard to class.
Lower class parents might possess great ‘academic’ genes, which have never had the opportunity.
The duty of schools is to provide an environment for genes to find their potential, and shine in their specialties.
And that’s it.
No one is arguing that there are no genetic factors, though environmental factors appear to be more important. But what is deeply and profoundly in question is the idea that somehow these are intrinsic to classes – that for example implicitly the current class structure is as it is due to genetic factors, that as a group the working class is working class due to some genetic aspects, the middle classes likewise and so on. I’ve already mentioned that Ireland as a whole proves how difficult it is to sustain that thesis given the massive churn in the society and class structure across the last two hundred years. In passing it’s probably worth noting that she places more faith in IQ tests than I would.
Again the set of assumptions is worth parsing. Precisely how does a genetic aptitude for lorry driving (given the example that Boucher gives) manifest itself as distinct from – say – middle management, social worker, business start-up or academia – and while in fairness while she’s not unwilling to consider which is socially most valuable how can these as such be indicative of some greater genetic attributes? Moreover, if one’s parents are same what then of offspring? It’s far from a myth that company development where families are involved tend to operate with those who create the company offering the greatest inspiration, the next generation consolidating and the next again failing – that failure is caused by many factors, but how does that fit into any schema of genetic influence?
Or is it the banal truth that genetic differentiation across classes is not an issue and that it really only operates on the level of the individual – and even then from what some quoted in the above pieces argue on a marginal level.
Which, ironically, though predictably leaves us in exactly the same place as we have always been, needing to foster both collective and individual talent. Or to put it another way, there are no short cuts for the right (or anyone) to some point where a social class – as a whole – can be treated as if they should not all equally have the same opportunities as any other, even if individual outcomes will, obviously be different. And what holds for a social class holds for individuals too.
Interview with Liadh Ní Riada… November 29, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.
…in the Mail conducted by Jason O’Toole. It’s a very interesting piece, well worth a read. Ní Riada is Sinn Féin’s candidate for the European elections next year in the new Europe South constituency.
She had a remarkable, and it would appear challenging, life, her father – Seán Ó Riada, perhaps as the article suggests ‘Ireland’s greatest ever composer and the man who was the single most influential figure behind the revial of Irish traditional music in the sixties’ – died when she was four at the age of 40 and her mother when she was ten. She was brought up by her siblings.
The interview notes that:
Ó Riada’s formation of the groundbreaking Ceoltóirí Chualainn and his score for the movie Mise Éire were the sparks that once again lit a fire under a part of our heritage that was all but dying out. Today, however, Liadh Ní Riada insists that being the daughter of a national treasure has never been a burden. ‘Some people would say: “Is it a burden to be living under the shadow of your father?” ‘I would be of the view that I’m living in his light as opposed to living in his shadow,’ Liadh says. ‘It’s fantastically positive. I’m very proud of being my father’s daughter.’
In relation to her own life and career:
At age 15, Liadh moved to Limerick to live with her aunt and study music there as part of her Leaving Certificate. After school, she worked in a variety of jobs before relocating to Dublin in her early 20s to work in television.
Since then, Liadh has worked in RTÉ and run her own successful company, Red Shoe Productions. But she’s most proud of the fact that she was put on the board to start up TG4 by the then-minister for arts Michael D. Higgins after the two became acquainted when she made a documentary about him and the Earth Summit in Brazil.
She’s highly critical of RTÉ
As an independent producer, Liadh says she’s less than impressed with the quality of homegrown shows on RTÉ. ‘A lot of the time I think they are inclined to copy a model that’s been done on the BBC. ‘As a station I think it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s missing originality and creativity.’ And she describes it as ‘outrageous’ and ‘obscene’ that taxpayers are funding the high wages of RTÉ stars when the government is imposing austerity on the rest of the nation. ‘You have the likes of Marian Finucane who gets over €400,000 a year for doing a few hours of radio work. She has a team of researchers. And then she goes on about the poor people of Ireland: “How can they afford to live?” And I find that quite obscene.’
Liadh was inspired to move into politics by her first husband Fiachra Ó hAodha. ‘He had a strong social conscience and a sense of injustice. He always stood up for the underdog and this would have influenced me in many ways.’ Liadh was 27 and at a wedding back home in Cúil Aodha when she first met 22-year-old Fiachra. The couple married two years later. Tragically, Fiachra was suffering from skin cancer and passed away just ten moths after the wedding. ‘He died suddenly two months before our first wedding anniversary from a brain haemorrhage as a result of malignant melanoma. That was much more traumatic than the death of my parents really.
She married again and now has three children. In relation to the political aspect of her life:
She has been chosen as Sinn Féin’s candidate for the new Europe South constituency which is expected to include most of Munster and part of south Leinster. Currently Sinn Féin’s Irish language development officer, Liadh says that she fully supports party leader Gerry Adams. As well as stating that she believes Adams’ declaration that he was not in the IRA — which most people find incredulous — Liadh also says that she believes the Sinn Féin leader had nothing to do with the brutal murder of Jean McConville, despite the fact he has been accused of ordering her death by former IRA members Bernard Hughes and Dolours Price.
‘It’s very easy to throw accusations and I don’t see any grounding or any basis for that and obviously I support Gerry 100 per cent. ‘It’s terribly unfair that they focus on these things with no basis and yet they don’t focus on all the good work he’s done for the Good Friday peace process. ‘It’s a terribly unbalanced, prejudiced view, which I think is completely without basis.’ She also doesn’t buy into the view that Adams has been damaged by the revelations about how he didn’t report his brother Liam to the police for sexually abusing his daughter Áine for some years after he first became aware of it. Liadh says that nobody ‘in their right mind would be supportive of any abuse or cover up’. She adds: ‘As far as I know, he was acting on his niece’s best interests. ‘It’s a family private matter and again putting it out in the public like that I think it’s again distracting from some of the good works that Gerry does. ‘He consistently tops the polls. He has 100 per cent support from the party. So it’s a no-brainer in that sense for me.’
And she continues:
… that she isn’t trying to get elected as an MEP to jump on the gravy train in Europe — pointing out that if elected she will only take the average industrial wage, with the rest of her salary going back to fund the party’s machine. ‘I’m not sure how much of a difference I can make in Europe but I’ll give it a damn good shot.’
Eamon Gilmore and Sinn Féin… November 28, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
…It struck me the other day on foot of our discussions on the nature of Sinn Féin and the deeply problematic manner which the Government parties have in their dealings with them in the Dáil chamber where the issue of the murder of Jean McConville by the IRA is used as a sort of diversionary tractic, that there’s one genuine oddity in all this. Well, there’s actually many. As we know, the interactions between those involved in the chamber are fairly complex. So it’s not every time that Gerry Adams or whoever stands to speak that such comments are made. Quite the opposite. But only in certain contexts where the Government is feeling the heat.
But it wasn’t always so in relation to some in Labour and Sinn Féin. No, not at all. For in 2002 when a younger, perhaps wiser, E. Gilmore was contesting the Labour leadership he took a vastly more emollient line in relation to Sinn Féin. Now, sometimes this was implicit, as in this piece here (behind the IT paywall but worth a look if you can access it) where on foot of the 2002 General Election where SF was returned in some numbers along with the GP and a number of left Independents, he wrote:
This general election re-elected the government and changed the opposition. But there still is an opposition! Whether the next government is FF/PD or FF/Independents, there will be almost 80 TDs on the opposition benches.
For the first time, however, there is no single party which can claim to be the national opposition, or even to be the majority part of it. The opposition benches in the 29th Dáil will be occupied by two medium-sized parties, three small parties and 13 Independents.
And he continued:
At first glance, the fracturing of the opposition may appear to prolong Fianna Fáil’s grip on power. But the new opposition also has the potential to be reconstructed and to provide a political alternative to Fianna Fáil.
The political complexion of the new opposition is predominantly left of centre, including the Labour Party, others on the left and social democrats in Fine Gael. Most of the new independents have been elected on public service issues such as health, arguing for policies very similar to those of the Labour Party.
It is simply untenable that he wasn’t speaking of SF as comprising a part of that ‘opposition’.
And indeed he clearly was, for he had previously in his leadership bid, which failed, although not quite as ignominiously as some have painted it subsequently where he received almost 20% of the vote, state a preference for left cooperation including SF. An Phoblacht noted this when he became leader and turned his back on such matters.
Eamon Gilmore has succeeded Pat Rabbitte as the leader of the Labour Party without a contest and without immediate debate on the future of the party. It remains to be seen if any such debate will ensue or if Gilmore will focus solely on reorganisation after the failure of his predecessor’s strategy based on the Mullingar Accord with Fine Gael.
Prior to his unsuccessful 2002 bid for the leadership Gilmore raised the prospect of co-operation on the left, including Sinn Féin. This time he ruled out such political co-operation, apparently fearful that it might be used against him by rival candidates. He need not have worried as no-one in the Labour Parliamentary Party rose to the leadership challenge.
When Eamon Gilmore stood for the leadership of the Labour party in 2002, against Pat Rabbitte and Brendan Howlin, he offered a very different prospectus from the one he has advanced this time. In 2002 he argued Labour should seek to construct a united Left, which Labour as the strongest element, would lead, harnessing the combined energies of Labour, Sinn Féin and the Greens to present a challenge to both the leading capitalist blocs – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. His focus then was on a left agenda, on substantive equality and justice. But now that is all abandoned. He has made it clear there will be no alliance of the left, no cooperation with Sinn Fein and left-wing Independents. Labour is not to change, it is to be available yet again for government with one or other of the ‘capitalist’ parties.
The obvious problem here is that one G. Adams was, as he still is, leader of SF and if there is a problem now with Adams et al, then the same problem existed then. Indeed one could argue that it was more pointed given that the political dispensation in the North remained less stable, more fractious and issues like decommissioning were…
It is this that makes the use of the murder of McConville so self-serving on the part of some. What deep held principle is it drawn from? I wouldn’t advocate it, but had FG and the LP argued for a position of refusing to acknowledge SF, a sort of living Section 31, that at least would be more consistent (indeed thinking of same I’m reminded of Eoghan Harris’s not dissimilar injunctions against SF, while I remember very well quite positive comments he made about SF’s Seanad presence when he first arrived there on foot of the nomination by Bertie Ahern). But that the thing. There is no consistency, there appear to be variable principles at work. Distaste alone, even loathing, when it is applied so patchily isn’t enough. It’s worse than nothing.
A question on Irish Trade Unions and internationalism November 28, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left, Unions.
Here’s an email asking some useful questions which people may have answers to.
I’m currently writing a paper on Irish trade unions and the role of internationalism within the movement. As far as I can see, the first organisation that ICTU joined was the ETUC. However, I’m having difficulty finding information on other unions. I’m particulary interested in SIPTU (ITGWU & FWUI), the ATGWU (Unite) and the TEEU.
Do you know of any publications that might deal with such themes?
I appreciate any help whatsoever.
If you have any suggestions please use comments below or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org