This Week At Irish Election Literature May 24, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog.
Starting off this week with a Spring/Summer newsletter from Independent TD for Dublin Central Maureen O’Sullivan T.D. and Independent Councillor Anna Quigley.
Then a “Why You Should Protest Against The G8″ Leaflet from the SWP
“We All Have Rights.. ..Fight For Them” Leaflet From The Independent Workers Union
Do as I say, not as I… May 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
This news item today, linked to by CMK in comments earlier, about John McGuinness is most enlightening. And timely too given his name appeared in this piece here.
The Public Accounts Committee has heard that an office kitted out for the former Junior Minister John McGuinness was more akin to one on Wall Street than Kildare Street.
The spending watchdog committee is hearing from the OPW as to why €250,000 was spent on the office for the then Junior Minister.
Deputy McGuinness is now the Chairman of the Committee, and has vacated the chair temporarily to allow questions from TDs and Senators.
As the news report notes:
Deputy Gerald Nash has asked the Chair of the OPW Clare McGrath to explain the spending.
“Where for the cost of buying a three-bed semi-detached house in Drogheda for example, we have a very lavish office on Kildare Sdtreet that is really more akin to Wall Street than Kildare Street to be frank.”
There was a time, not that long ago when we heard a very different sort of story:
Committee Chairman, John McGuinness TD said that the report’s findings “stress the lack of proper monitoring and targeting of expenditure in many State agencies,” and added that an absence of sufficient information and planning “means that often money is not used properly, as no reliable data exists to inform spending”.
Or how about this from a speech on the FF website that was delivered a couple of years back:
The state is accountable to the Dáil and members of the Dáil are accountable to the Irish people. The Committee takes its duty seriously, and, in relation to the Bill now before you, I seek what I believe are necessary powers to audit, investigate and hold accountable those in Local Authorities who together spend billions of public money in a manner, that is, often far from satisfactory.
The members of this House are the ones that can make this happen. This is not about party politics. This is about our belief in ourselves, our willingness to demand good governance, come what may, and our ability to withstand the pressures that will be brought by those who prefer the ‘veil’ and the ‘vague’ to the cold light of objective and close scrutiny.
We should remember that we spend most of our time here debating ways of taking money, through one tax or another, and far too little time on how we can save money, as water drips into the ground, funds are unwisely spent and expensive consultant’s reports fill the dustbins of some departments.
On a completely different matter… ahem… for some reason the thoughts of a certain S. FitzPatrick come to mind, who, while he was engaged in other most interesting actions like laying the foundations for our current parlous situation, somehow managed to find time in his busy schedule to say the following…
….[he called] on the Government to reduce corporation tax and tackle the “sacred cow” of universal child benefit, State pensions and medical cards for the over 70s.
Mr FitzPatrick said the forthcoming budget needed to be bold and “brave” and not revert to a tough budget.
It is what it is, they are what they are. Perhaps, though, all the above might make some just a tad less credulous when the great and good opine on certain matters.
1913 Event – NCAD May 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, The Left.
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CPOI Statement May 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics, The Left.
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18 May 2012
At its regular meeting the National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland evaluated the present political and economic situation in the country, north and south. What is most clear is that the crisis of the system is deepening: the contradictions are deepening and spreading as the ruling elite continues to make the people pay for the crisis, and the system attempts to overcome the crisis at the expense of the people.
The Irish and British ruling class continue to use the crisis for a growing assault on working people, north and south, whether in the form of attacks on pensions and social welfare or a “bedroom tax.”
The external troika continues to determine all economic and social priorities, working in alliance with the Irish state, Irish capital, and all the establishment political parties. At the EU level the voices of monopoly capital are attempting to sow confusion while appearing to be responding to popular discontent with the effect of “austerity”—appearing to be listening and learning, to empathise with the suffering of the mass of the people, talking about the need to modify their strategy. But this in fact is just a change in language, not a change of strategy.
The Irish government in particular is attempting to turn the labour market into a hiring-fair, with tens of thousands of workers facing a life of precarious employment. The recent Supreme Court decision in relation to registered employment agreements will further erode and undermine workers’ terms and conditions and will result in renewed pressure on already low-paid workers.
The Communist Party of Ireland has pointed out and continues to argue that the policy of “austerity” is working as designed. It is essentially geared towards bringing about a massive transfer of wealth from working people to the super-rich and the monopolies. It is working as designed and is being executed with all the skill that the ruling class can draw upon, in particular using the state as the main vehicle for imposing their strategy, backed up and reinforced by their mass media.
The debt crisis is purely a means to an end, that end being the complete subservience of working people and in particular the subservience of the trade union movement. This is best reflected in the continuous bullying and coercion of workers into accepting some reheated Croke Park II agreement, despite the fact that the majority of public-sector workers have previously rejected it.
In the North the Protestant section of the working class will find no refuge in blind-alley politics in relation to the flying of flags. This will not put food on the table: it is a distraction, a political circus dressed up by a bankrupt leadership—a leadership who fully support the economic and social policies of the London government—who have no answers to the growing crisis of unemployment and deepening poverty. The flags protest is merely for blowing smoke in people’s eyes.
Not alone are the people of the South facing daily cuts in services, pay, and pensions, they are now being treated to a display of sexist and misogynist bilge from establishment politicians and the discredited hierarchy of the Catholic Church regarding the rights of women, in particular regarding a woman wishing to exercise her right to life beyond that of the foetus she is carrying, the right to safe and secure abortion. The time has long passed for a full and unequivocal recognition that women have the right to control their bodies and their fertility.
The CPI again reaffirms that we need to build the people’s resistance, to break the trade union movement away from the cul de sac down which elements of the leadership seem determined to continue dragging workers: of cuts in wages, deterioration of their terms and conditions, and savage cuts in public services.
The CPI reaffirms its call for maximum support for protests against the forthcoming meeting of the leaders of the G8—a club of the rich for the rich—in Co. Fermanagh. In particular it urges support for protests organised by the trade unions and other progressives organisation.
Building the people’s resistance and presenting an alternative direction for all our people, north and south—beginning the difficult but necessary re-conquest of Ireland for and by its people—is the task that the National Executive Committee and all the party have set themselves as we begin to prepare for our 25th National Congress in 2014. Statement ends.
SOCIALIST VOICE from CPOI now available May 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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From the front page article:
Austerity is working, on many levels. It is the main vehicle for the transfer of wealth upwards from working people to the wealthy; it justifies the growing assault on workers’ rights and the wholesale privatisation of public assets; it is the stick for beating workers with.
Irish austerity: Change of words but not of policy [EMC]
Medical cards under savage attack [MA]
Water and woods to be flogged off [MA]
Reform or transform? The confusion of growth economics—Part 1 [NL]
Croke Park II rejected [Anne Casey]
The capitalist crisis and the demolition of workers’ rights [NC]
Can we learn from Cuba?—A response [EON]
Venezuela: Electoral challenge a coup attempt [RCN]
Colombians call for solidarity [SE]
The Progressive Film Club: an inspiration and an education [PD]
Ireland’s neutrality demonstrated again
Contradiction piled on contradiction… May 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
…or so one would think to read about the so-called ‘reprisals’ by EDL members in Woolwich last night – after the grim events of the day – which involved running street-battles with police and a suspected attack on a mosque. As someone noted on twitter what can it be like to be an actual person living in Woolwich effectively held hostage for the second time in 24 hours? Who’s going to defend people from the EDL?
Speaking of the Phoenix, SF and FF May 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
I’ve meant to write about a piece in the Phoenix from a few weeks back for a while now. It’s an useful overview of Fianna Fáil’s shifting profile in the last year and what that may imply for future political activity in the state. The Phoenix argues that:
FF has gradually moved to the left as a muffled debate has led to positions on the property tax, taxation and the public service that are more like Old Labour in opposition than the New Workers Party (as M. Martin pointed out at the weekend) in government.
Let’s be clear, this is obviously a cosmetic enough move.
But it notes that they have proposed a 3% USC surcharge on those earning over €100,000, supported PS workers in relation to CP2 and attacked the government over the home repossession bill.
Not only but also:
John McGuinness has been isolated on the FF front bench. The McGuinness hardline on the PS is now out the window…
It’s fair to note he’s had his own problems too in recent times.
The Phoenix suggests that FF and Martin…
…know well that they are in competition with SF for some of the lower paid PS vote and working people generally.
This is an not unimportant point. It is clear that FF lost badly in 2011 in Dublin and other urban centres. So badly that it remains without a TD in Dublin. But the only way to cajole its vote back is to somehow make itself attractive to the urban working class vote that it managed to lose so successfully. And the McGuinness proscriptions, for all their vehemence, were never going to play well with that constituency, however much they were lapped up by the media.
Still the Phoenix makes a most interesting observation:
FF and SF are not polar opposites as Martin’s excoriating rhetoric would indicate. But FF is also chains a vote that the other party cannot reach, namely, that section of the middle class that deserted the party, however temporarily, for FG at the 2011 GE. The merest whiff of a cordite coalition with SF would see these voters fleeing back to the Blueshirts or the LP like frightened sheep.
And FF is in the unenviable position of potentially seeing a significant tranche of its pre-existing vote departed permanently to SF. But it cannot, if it hopes to retain any pretensions to being a ‘national’ party ignore that former vote, and it will seek to entice as much back as it can. So it’s quite a tricky balancing act.
Moreover, the Phoenix argues that the idea of coalition with Fine Gael is in effect a non-starter with party activists unwilling to go down that route. I think that’s very important because it does make the range of possible governments post-2015/16 come into clearer focus. The thinking is that Fianna Fáil would wither on the vine in coalition with the old enemy, and I think there’s something in that. I also think that there’s far too great a tendency to underestimate the unlikelihood of such a move due to sheer pragmatic considerations.
There’s often talk about how FF and FG should merge, but even were one to believe that they were essentially the same in political and ideological terms, something I’m dubious about, even if the outcomes of their policy approaches tend to be relatively indistinguishable from one another, there are good bureaucratic reasons for them not to do so. Two organisations offers the option of two structures, with two leaders and two routes to advancement and so on. Small wonder that the Progressive Democrats developed, offering a third option (and less wonder again that some want another bite at that ‘leadership’ cherry).
All of which is to say that only in extremis, and perhaps not even then, would there be a coalescence. And that implies that it is very very unlikely that while the FF party has a heartbeat, so to speak, that it will enter into a unity government with FG. Indeed the very most that might occur would be a sort of reverse ‘Tallaght strategy’. And as demonstrated by FF in recent times they’re not above getting the digs into FG and the government even now in our supposed time of crisis.
Still, the Phoenix makes the point that for FF SF remains the ‘most logical coalition party’ even above and beyond a coalition with a rump LP and a ‘rag-bag of Independents’. Whether that day comes to pass remains to be seen.
The Student History Ireland project has some wonderful sets of photos and documents up on Flickr
The most recent addition is a selection of old Student Union Manifestos… including Brendan Doris, Joe Duffy and Mark Little which is well worth a look.
…[the US government] cut a deal with multinationals to encourage them to bring back, or repatriate, the billions of dollars kept offshore to avoid tax.
Cook said he had no plan to bring back the $102bn built up by Apple at current tax rates, and recently opted to return money to shareholders by borrowing money instead. “I have no current plan to do so at the current tax rates.
“Unlike some technology companies, I am not proposing a zero rate,” he said. “My proposal is that we have a reasonable tax for bringing back money from overseas.
Cook said the tax rate for repatriated money should be set “in single digits” to persuade companies to bring it back. Standard tax for US profits should be, he said, in the “mid 20s”.
But wait, what’s this?
He also revealed that Apple had struck a secret deal with the Irish government in 1980 to limit its domestic taxes there to 2%.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore denied that Ireland had negotiated corporate tax arrangements with individual companies, despite the claims Apple had “quietly negotiated” an income tax rate of less than 2 per cent with the Government.
Speaking in Brussels yesterday where he chaired a meeting of the General Affairs Council, he declined to comment on the tax affairs of individual companies, but insisted Ireland did not negotiate special tax rates.
RosencrantzisDead noted here the point – on foot of Kenny’s voice being added to this chorus of denial, that it might not be a ‘special tax rate’ but more likely an issue of what was taxable income or whatever.
In terms of institutional reputation that small piece of information, whether accurate or not, is deeply problematic to the state. For it opens up the question of who else might, or might not, have benefited from such largesse were it available at all. If it is correct the recriminations from those who didn’t will be mighty, if it isn’t it won’t matter because all the assurances in the world won’t mollify suspicions. And of course it’s another
What’s telling in a way is how blunt Apple is about its position and its requirements – even if those are unlikely to be met. And yet it will add to the background noise in a context where, as noted by the Guardian, it exemplifies ‘how threats from multinational corporations are driving down taxes across the world’.
In some ways it is refreshing. There’s no pretence here of a social or economic good. Apple is all about producing products and making money and that’s that.
And yet I wonder too. When people articulate something along the lines Cook did it actually suggests that those being addressed – the US government in this instance – retains power. Nick Cohen once said, and apologies for dragging this out yet again, but it is appropriate:
…however novel the ability of companies to shift money and jobs around the world, and however restrictive the limits on the autonomy of national governments have become, corporations remain weak. When all is said and done, they are hierarchical associations for the production of profit. They can’t raise armies or levy taxes or enact legislation. Governments can do all three and turn nasty if they have the inclination…
Which is why the response should be a concerted effort by the US and other states to push it and its compatriots back. Because if nothing else this should sharpen minds in states across the world as to how to put some check on the power of the corporations.
Now the good news is, of course, that this is not going to be the status quo forever. Apple will fail and will fall, others will take its place – though not, I suspect, socially oriented operations for quite some time to come. But states have to take much of the blame for allowing a situation to develop where corporations can all but dictate policy to them. In the US in this open way, and – if one is to believe Apple – in this state in a covert and fundamentally anti-democratic fashion.
The Phoenix 30 Year edition May 22, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.
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This is well worth a read. I like the format, looking back across the 30 years of the Phoenix and engaging with those years in various different ways. Highly entertaining are a number of individual pen portraits of figures like Haughey, Harney, FitzGerald (a man, who as the Phoenix says, was far from the image portrayed of him), Dessie O’Malley and so on.
What’s most striking is how the Phoenix serves as a sort of mirror to the society. Sure, it has its quiet moments but reading this there’s no question that more often than some might expect it has been spot on. There’s a great anecdote about how Goldhawk met Haughey who proceeded to berate the former about ‘the shite you print about me’ only to get the response ‘you should get down on your knees and give thanks for the stuff we don’t print’. I paraphrase, but only slightly. But that encapsulates the point that the critique of Haughey was almost overwhelmingly political from the Phoenix with little or none (bar the very occasional pointed barb) of the gossipy stuff that dominated other media.
It’s also worth considering that while its ideology has been at times only gently dissident from various orthodoxies it has been dissident, and that is not necessarily a problem given its purpose, in its business coverage it has been often far far more accurate than the most of the rest of a remarkably credulous and compliant newspapers and outlets. It is no surprise to see that a month before Anglo-Irish went to the wall it was the first and only publication to point out that the bank was technically bankrupt – but tellingly even at that stage Anglo sent solicitors around to try to prevent the piece being published.
If there’s a sense that the stakes are less high than they used to be, well there’s some truth in that. The functional end of the conflict in the North certainly softened things, and a degree of homogeneity in Irish politics (in the main) didn’t help.
Perhaps tellingly there’s been a bit more bite on inter-Coalition issues in recent times.