A certain sort of cynicism April 23, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Is the thought that comes to mind reading an assessment by Fiach Kelly in the Irish Times of the broader economic context and how it impacts upon citizens in the coming years, not least in relation to the supposed ‘end’ of austerity.
Some in Labour, which has taken the brunt of the criticism this week, would have preferred the announcement to be delayed until after the local and European elections, while the Taoiseach said voters would know well before then.
Isn’t this remarkably cynical, knowing that the charges will be within a certain range and not wanting that knowledge to be public for fear of what the political ramifications will be. Bad enough, some would think, the measures themselves without blurring the knowledge about them purely for electoral gain.
And Kelly notes that if the economy ‘improves’ in certain ways such as with rising house prices that will have knock on effects on property taxes as well as the potential for increased water charges further down the line. So this ‘improvement’ will to many many of us feel like no improvement at all.
Too rich for his blood… and other election tales… April 23, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
…the news this morning is an embarrassment of…er… riches, from Simon Harris – potential FG Euro hopeful who is reported as saying that:
The Wicklow TD has called for an independent electoral commission “which oversees spending, organises debates and prevents the ‘buying of elections’ – particularly European elections”.
While he said this was to make sure Independent and other smaller candidates get a fair chance, Mr Harris added: “It is too easy for a candidate with huge resources to spend massive amounts of money simply promoting a name and an image without having to engage on the important European issues.
That’s thoughtful of him, kind even, to think of others. Though wait, what’s this?
Mr Harris’s call comes as fellow Fine Gael candidate in Ireland South, Senator Deirdre Clune, has mounted a substantial advertising campaign, including prominent media adverts.
Yesterday’s Irish Examiner front page featured a large advert for Ms Clune’s campaign, including a photograph of Ms Clune with her father, former tánaiste Peter Barry, of the Cork business family that runs Barry’s Tea.
While not mentioning Ms Clune by name, Mr Harris, who is a Wicklow deputy, said, “European elections should not be reduced to a contest based on access to personal wealth.”
The Labour Party is recommending its canvassers to tell voters during the local and European election campaigns that Sinn Féin is aligned to “marginal extremists in the European Parliament, some of whom wish the Berlin Wall had never come down”.
Presumably this is who they are talking about. An eclectic group not unknown in years past to many in the LP.
And “[The LP] also claims Sinn Féin supported the bank guarantee and implements “austerity in Northern Ireland”. Pots, kettles…etcetera. Not that FG is unafraid to get in on the act: “Fine Gael also tells its canvassers to point out that Sinn Féin is implementing austerity in Northern Ireland. “
Most interestingly is the information that FG is targetting the Green Party. Could that be on foot of a potential gain of a seat by one E. Ryan?
“Their core ‘achievements’ in government were the introduction of a ‘carbon tax’ (increasing fuel prices for consumers), the ban of stag hunting, a watered-down Climate Change Bill (which included measures completely opposite to their avowed principles) and banning the building of a road to protect a type of slug in counties Cork and Kerry.”
Could be. Could be.
Reading some of the advice to canvassers the thought comes to mind that it’s hardly novel stuff. For example:
Fine Gael has advised its election canvassers that 7pm to 9pm is a good time to call to people’s homes – but to avoid times when there’s sport on television or “blockbuster” episodes of TV soaps are being screened. And there should be no running over lawns or shrubbery.
Well I never.
What you want to say – 23rd April 2014 April 23, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.
IRCA Easter 2014 Address April 22, 2014Posted by guestposter in Irish Politics, The Left.
Irish Republican Comrades Association – Easter 2014 Address
Speaker Pat John Kelly.
Welcome friends and comrades to the 2014 Official Republican Commemoration organised by the Irish Republican Comrades Association.
We are here to remember friends and comrades and all those who gave their lives in pursuit of an independent Irish Republic based on the needs of the Irish people linked with the beliefs of Tone and Connolly. In other times we would have naively called upon the Irish people to follow us alone in leading them to the promised land of the Socialist Republic. Unfortunately some still cling to that forlorn hope.
Republicanism has always been strong on tradition and has looked back for guidance and has regarded past tactics, with slight modifications, as being the only way forward. Should we be saying today that we hand on the torch to the next generation, therefore dictating without stopping to think what the next generation might want or believe? I don’t believe they would accept that, just as we did not accept it in our youth.
We, as the then Official I.R.A in the early 70’s, did our best to stem the seemingly unstoppable decent into all out sectarian war in this part of the island. Words spoken, and actions taken at the time, attempted to show that there was an anti-sectarian republicanism, founded and championed by the United Irishmen and modernised with the socialist critique of Connolly, still in existence. Thinkers and political activists like Liam McMillen, Cathal Goulding, Joe McCann, and others, recognised the critical nature of the impending disaster our society was spiralling towards and called for talks between all of the armed protagonists and political representatives!
Today, simply acting like old soldiers who held to the one true faith and reminding people as to how right we were all along and that the political compromise we called for over 40 years ago has in some way come to pass is simply not good enough. Some people could do that, and maybe believe that they are entitled to do that, but it would no basis for the forward movement of politics in our society. Friends and comrades it is time for an honest appraisal and critical look at our position and sphere of influence in the reality we live in today.
In recognition of the current reality the majority of our membership formed the Irish Republican Comrades Association because it best describes who and what we are. We conferred no grandiose titles on ourselves as was the case in the past. Irish Republican because we are followers of Tone and the enlightenment Republicanism of the United Irishmen and Comrades to denote our adherence to the socialist beliefs and principles of the Movement we came from. We therefore invite all those who still adhere to the principles of the Official I.R.A as it was termed and its political manifestations to forsake conspiracies and join with in this honest endeavour.
All who claim to be adherents of that tradition and background have to remember that it is the living we have to convince and work with politically, not the dead. Those who are seemingly in ongoing contact with the dead in relation to existing political reality must grasp and accept the fact that it is conversations with the living that have to take place now.
In recent history each Republican and or Socialist grouping has tended to regard their political interpretations with an almost religious fanaticism. Those who differed were classed as “heretics” deserving of more hatred than those who actually rob the people of their entitlements. In Belfast, the modern cockpit of Nationalist/Republican vitriol and rancour, led to school friends from the poorest neighbourhoods labelling each other Trotskyites or Stalinists, Nationalists or Communists. Of course the all-encompassing description “traitor” served, when other labels did not quite fit, leading to the same school mates and friends shooting and killing each other at the behest of malignant gurus.
Was it worth it? Let’s face it we all practised forms and degrees of fanaticism. The time is long overdue for a serious degree of realism in how we treat and engage with one and other and how we will attempt to influence the next generation.
This will be of major importance in creating the necessary tolerance, understating and trust to accommodate and build a meaningful and relevant “popular front” in building a strong alliance in opposition to the current right-wing political and economic orthodoxy accepted across these islands and around the globe. It is no longer of any relevance to the Irish people today which modern day historical group or organisation claims to be the one and only true inheritors of the political beliefs and value systems of Republicanism or Socialism.
In the monumental task ahead the one thing we have that the present and future generation of activists may require is experience. Experience at organising, experience at making mistakes, experience at weathering defeats, experience of not simply taking the populist line that always leads to the corruption of political ideals. That is what we can pass on, along with our political views of course, and help to inspire working people to strive for a new way forward.
Are we any closer after all the years of struggle and sacrifice to achieving the goal of a new way forward? What is the feeling among the broad range of people and groups on the left? Is it hope or despair? I fear it is the latter. We all failed in not having the courage to seriously address this issue. The broad left has failed, though many groups seem to still believe the failure is due to the reason that all the others did not adhere to their particular position.
We have had several generations of excuses for the failure of serious engagement to assist in the building of progressive politics. I am not saying that each group should simply abandon their individual political analysis. Just that we cease to abandon the potential for creating political progress in the interests of group or organisational self-righteousness! Many of the older so called left parties seem to have lost their way entirely. This of course could be blamed on lack of pressure from the grass roots. Are we and many groups like us too contented in our own small comfort zones to rise to the real and necessary challenge of a new left re-alignment?
Politics for the working class North and South have not progressed in our time. Like most countries they have regressed. While class enemies reap their ever-increasing bounty unimpeded at the expense of general humanity a political, economic and social battle-plan is being implemented across the capitalist world. It is aimed at dismantling of all the gains achieved by the struggles of working people in all countries over the last 150 years.
The only two political philosophies that have in the past been truly international are Capitalism and Socialism. Capitalism now enjoys runaway success and now views even the mildest forms of Social Democratic politics, grudgingly tolerated in the years of the modern Cold War, as a dangerous threat to their interests.
If “international communism” was Capitalisms deadliest enemy during that time, it is now the concept of “Social Democracy” itself that capitalism has now openly declared war on. It is fighting that war on all fronts with a ferocity not seen in history since the epoch of Capitalist, Colonial and Imperialist expansion of the 18th & 19th centuries. The current crisis and lack of a serious left political response is an international one.
If Social Democracy, and the parties who have represented it and still claim to represent it, cannot be bought, bullied or bribed into the acceptance of their economic and political hegemony, then they must be smashed and destroyed.
Here on this island and in Britain that process has already taken place with hardly a whimper of organised protest. The political structure in the Republic now lacks even the semblance of a Social Democratic voice, a necessary touchstone for all progressive politics.
This is all taking place while the groups and organisations on this island who should be working in defence of our class are furiously quacking at each other like angry ducks in an ever diminishing pond of political relevance. Continuous and ultimately futile deliberations about the philosophical minutiae of what the ultimate socialist society is and will be, must be left for another and less important day.
What is our response locally? Firstly no group should continue to dictate their analysis as the only way forward in an all or nothing syndrome. The way forward has to come about as the result of intense debate involving all those who strive for a just and humanist society. The main issues effecting working people of fair and decent wages, housing, health, education are the battlegrounds where common purpose should be found and acted upon.
We would advocate that there must be a whole new approach to co-operation and forming a united force to confront the advancement of the modern Capitalist agenda. Had anyone predicted fifty years ago that the banking and financial system would collapse as a result of gambling debts and the majority of working people would foot the entire bill people would have been laughed at!
The building of a “Social Forum” could begin the process to remedy that situation. A Social Forum north and south to re-awaken and re-invigorate the Republicanism and Socialism of James Connolly, Liam Mellows, Peader O Donnell, George Gilmore and Jim Larkin. A Forum that takes cognisance of the modern society and reality we live and exist in today would be a good starting point. Republican Congress was 80 years ago it is maybe long overdue that a similar concept at least be talked about in relation to the idea.
No matter what the pundits may say sectarianism is being challenged daily by a range of working class groups and organisations, ourselves included. If the sectarian language and chants seem louder and shriller today it is because the element of doubt is beginning to register. In saying that we still have a long way to go to rid our society of this ancient plague is an understatement to say the least. Sectarian voting patterns, and the outdated concepts of British and Irish nationalisms that perpetuate it in the North, pollutes Irish politics both North and South.
The present political power holders in the North continually highlight the differences between the two sides of our divided society, inventing new cultural ones as required. This is to perpetuate the “them and us” syndrome that saves them real political campaigning at elections.
A Social Forum in the North could provide a middle ground where working class groups could concentrate and elaborate on the commonalities of both sides. It could act as a venue where activists place one foot in with the other foot firmly in their own camp until the term “traitor” so beloved of Irish politics loses its power over progressive thinking.
This concept is not being proposed as some kind of magic formula or a quick fix solution to entrenched sectarian attitudes. It would be more the beginning of a long drawn out process to introduce the real politics of left versus right to a tribal voting system.
Friends and Comrades this is not a day for smugness of any kind. It time to think and renew open and frank debate and consider with others the proposition of a new departure.
Republicanism and agency April 22, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Feminism, Irish Politics, Republicanism, The Left.
An…erm… bracing review in the Irish Times of a new book that seeks to give an overview of Irish political and social thought from the 17th century onwards. This is from Bryan Fanning and Tom Garvin and entitled ‘The Books That Define Ireland’. The review is by Nicholas Allen and in the course of dissecting the 29 essays on 27 individual books he argues that the authors have produced:
…an uneven collection that starts slowly and generates interest only when the two authors begin to introduce personal experience into passages of otherwise pedestrian critique.
But Allen’s critique is intriguing too for the angle taken:
The essays are dense with biography, history and textual summary. Together they form the catechism of an Ireland whose imaginative cartography is strangely alien. I was left with the impression that the two greatest historical threats to the island’s survival were masturbation and the IRA.
This is in part because the two shadows that reach longest over the books that Fanning and Garvin read are religion and statehood, a condition sometimes mistaken for nationality.
Which is a most interesting point. But Allen goes further…
…a persistent antagonism to later forms of republicanism in Ireland sours the tone of the accompanying essay. Thinking of the sorrow of starvation in Skibbereen, Garvin concludes that “the entire IRA tradition feeds off enduring memories of British indifference to the suffering of their putative ancestors, and many an atrocity has been justified by reference to ‘Black ’47’ “. This is a claim absurd in its imprecision.
Or how about this?
It is one of a series that mars the book. Another such is the unlikely suggestion that “much of the pseudo-history of traditionalist outfits like the IRA is directly or indirectly inspired by Geoffrey Keating”. Another records Fanning’s disappointment that Patrick Pearse and “romantic nationalists like him … successfully co-opted the real Wolfe Tone”.
But we’re only getting started really:
Garvin suggests there that the dual traditions of civil disobedience and of military struggle against British rule have metastasised post-independence into a disregard for the State and its authority. The argument is worth discussion. Garvin’s conclusions are not. “It would be interesting,” he writes, “to see how many people involved in the recent wave of public scandals have Northern or Border backgrounds and close or distant IRA connections.” If there is some genius in the ability to be so vaguely offensive, there is little compelling in the argument, even if we take the North to begin somewhere on a line between south Dublin and Co Offaly.
There does seem to be some truth in the idea that there is in some quarters a curious exaggeration of the degree of agency republicanism (and PIRA in particular, though not just or only them) have had. In a strong form that can be seen in the strictures recommended (and imposed) by those like Conor Cruise O’Brien, a sort of belief in an innate credulity on the part of the inhabitants of this island (or some significant portion of same) to anything wrapped in a tricolour and referencing 1916. This persists in the curious attitudes of Harris et al (I was entertained by his thoughts this weekend as to a kinder gentler independence struggle run along essentially pacifist lines – something that seems bizarrely partitionist and also underestimating of the nature of the British state during that period). I guess the weak form is seen in various manifestations both at state and other levels – perhaps the current issue over the participation of British royalty at the 1916 commemorations is of a piece with that.
Of course one has to admit that there was some agency – and at times a considerable degree of agency. And no state(s) are comfortable with the prospect of paramilitarism, for obvious reasons. And yet, the near existential nature of the threat as posited by those mentioned above, always seemed to me to be overblown. Where was the evidence of parallel structures that could supplant those of the Republic, let alone a genuine and long-lasting public enthusiasm for same? And what of the institutions of state which – and perhaps the current period of economic crisis underlines this perfectly – if anything appear to be deep rooted and, for all the rhetoric, continuing to retain democratic legitimation in the eyes of those who afford that legitimation. And all this before we arrive at the arms of that state and how they would respond to any genuine internal threat to their position. But perhaps these are discussions for another day.
Allen makes a range of other useful points…
The Ireland that this book defines is an oddity already. The first woman author appears in Chapter Twenty One; the Celtic Tiger has been relegated already to the category of shameful secret; and the span of nearly 400 years in what the authors call historical and social literature makes for often dry reading (both authors admit they are untrained in advanced literary study; perhaps their work’s greatest achievement is to prove the value of such scholarship)
And yet, it does make me curious to actually read the book.
No change then… April 22, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
add a comment
Social Justice Ireland has made a number of points regarding current state socio-economic policy, not least the idea that ‘boom and bust’ appears a very real possibility again. But given the cheerleading of the ‘recovery’ that approach from within the orthodoxy appears not so much a glitch as a feature – that, for example, the problems with what appears to be a bubble in property (and very specific areas in property) in Dublin, isn’t regarded as a problem at all.
Another point they raises is also spot on:
On taxation, the review says all tax reliefs and expenditures should be made available only at the standard rate of 20 per cent, and the tax base should be broadened and increased to take the total tax take to 34.9 per cent.
It is simply incredible that tax reliefs remain available at the higher rates in some instances.
Workers’ Party Easter Oration 2014 April 21, 2014Posted by Garibaldy in Workers' Party.
Comrades and friends,
You are all very welcome here today to the Annual Workers’ Party Easter commemoration.
We are here to honour the men and women of Easter Week 1916, to rededicate ourselves to the noble and principled ideals that they set out to achieve.
We also remember with pride and honour all those Comrades and friends of The Workers’ Party who gave their lives in the struggle for a democratic, secular, socialist republic, a unitary state on this island.
Their sacrifice will never be forgotten and we pay tribute today to all those who contributed to the creation of The Workers’ Party as the modern embodiment of the struggle for freedom and the emancipation of the working class.
We do of course live in a hugely different world from that of 1916 but there is still great relevance and lessons to be learned from what the men and women of 1916 set out to achieve.
The struggle for national independence and political and economic sovereignty remain today vital matters of concern. British Imperialism may well have ceased to exist as a serious world power, but new forms of Imperialism and political and economic subjugation have taken its place.
In particular the United States of America seeks to dominate and control the entire world in its own selfish interests, and the European Union now acts solely in the interests of capitalism and is devoid of even the most rudimentary appearance of democracy or accountability.
In Ireland we are ruled by 2 administrations – in the Dáil and at Stormont – by people who may profess to adhere to the ideals of 1916 but in reality are far removed from the democratic, egalitarian, republican and socialist principles contained in the Proclamation of 1916.
Both administrations are made up of parties that subscribe to dominant capitalist ideology. Neither represents any challenge to the existing economic system which is the cause of social and economic misery.
As we approach the 100th Anniversary of 1916 we will hear all manner of praise for 1916 and even talk of rededicating to the ideals of the proclamation. Just as in 1966, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, we can expect much symbolism, pageantry and rhetoric. Already there has even been nonsensical talk of national and republican unity.
What we do not want, or need, is a futile and destructive process of all manner of groups and sects competing to claim the title of true inheritors of the ideals of 1916 and ownership of the holy grail.
What would be far more productive would be a national debate on the nature and character of Irish society today and how we might move towards a New Republic in which the values and political ideals of 1916 could be encapsulated in a new political and social order: a New Society which would embrace the values of the common good over individual greed and private profit; collectivism over individualism; democracy and citizenship and political and economic sovereignty.
Such a debate on the nature of society cannot ignore the fact that the fundamental struggle today for freedom and emancipation is the struggle between capital and labour. The greatest enemy facing the Irish people North and South today is Capitalism. It is Capitalism which is the cause of our social and economic ills. Capitalism cannot be reformed or ameliorated. Only its replacement by a Socialist society can bring social and economic freedom.
Ireland today is not the Ireland of 1916. We are no longer a predominantly rural and agriculturally dependent society.
The dominant political and social values are those of the international economic order … Capitalism.
The progressive trends in the independence movement have evolved as well.
Today those progressive trends are to be found in Socialism.
That evolution towards a coherent and scientific socialist ideology was organisationally mirrored in the creation of The Workers’ Party which reached a high point in the 80s. Since then we have had setbacks, reversals and even defeats. But the only hope for the achieving of political, social and economic freedom for the Irish people lies in a rejuvenated and strong Workers’ Party, a Party driven and governed by a strong Socialist Ideology.
If we are to be true to the ideals of 1916 in the world in which we live today, then Building the Party must be our prime objective.
We are under no illusions as to the enormity of this task.
A strong Workers’ Party represents the only hope that real change is possible in our country.
No other Party seeks to bring about the fundamental transformation of society that is needed in order to create a new political, economic and social order.
The Labour Party and Sinn Féin in particular – two parties that profess to speak for the working class – have failed our class.
In the North Sinn Féin (and their DUP partners) have presided over the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, educational disadvantage, privatisation of public services, and a health service in crisis. In the South they profess opposition but their one ambition is to be in government. They are akin to De Valera’s Fianna Fáil in the 30s. They are long in nationalist and republican rhetoric, long in populism whilst simultaneously embracing free market economics and big business.
The Labour Party, no strangers to coalition governments, have surpassed all previous betrayals of the working class and labour movements by their participation in this Fine Gael-led Government.
It is the working class that has borne the impact of devastating cutbacks and economic measures that have impoverished hundreds of thousands of our people and will continue to do so for years to come.
Local elections next month are an opportunity North and South to begin a fightback on behalf of the working class. The Party will be standing a small number of candidates. We are proud of the role and record of our councillors in Cork and Waterford, and are hopeful of not only retaining but expanding our number of councillors.
This is a vital part of Building the Party.
We cannot rely on past achievements but on our active involvement in the everyday struggles of working class people in our communities.
This involves bringing into membership of the Party new Comrades, most of whom will not have had our historical experience or background.
This must necessarily entail attracting more women and young people to the Party.
On this, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Cumann na mBan, it is worth noting how much of the women’s struggle remains to be won.
Right across society women continue to suffer discrimination. In Employment, both in wages and career opportunities; in terms of reproductive rights; as the primary carers; in fact in almost every walk and area of life.
But our concern for women must not just be about their role in society.
They are glaringly absent from the ranks of the Party itself.
We must not only increase the numbers of women in the Party but women must take on roles of responsibility, leadership, and authority in the Party.
In conclusion Comrades,
We are only too well aware that the Socialist Republic remains to be won. The question is – what do we do to bring it about?
The starting point must be to Build the Party.
Over the next weeks and months the detail of what that means in practice will be debated within the Party.
It is our task to ensure that it reaches a conclusion and that we set about the work that will be required to bring about a renewed and rejuvenated Workers’ Party.
Only that can bring about the democratic, secular, socialist republic we strive for.
Thank you for your attention Comrades.
Why would they expect it to be different? April 21, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
add a comment
Don’t they have any memory at all of the events of the past decade?
Left Archive: H-Block Struggle – Irish Revolution, On the March, a Peoples Democracy Pamphlet, 1981? April 21, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, People's Democracy.
add a comment
To download the above file please click on the following link: H-Block PD pamphlet x2
Many thanks to Niall Meehan for scanning and donating this to the Archive.
This is a very useful document from Peoples Democracy issued during the initial part of the H-Block campaign. In 13 or so pages it outlines the position of PD on the campaign, positions it as ‘A Political Issue’, ‘Humanism’, ‘Fianna Fail/SDLP’, the ‘Experience of the Civil Rights Movement’, ‘Winning Mass Support’, ‘The Trade Unions’, ‘Workers and the National Question’, ‘The Role of Women’, ‘Youth and H-Block’ and ‘A Fighting Organisation’.
It is far too comprehensive to do justice to it in its entirety, however the Introduction gives a good sense of the direction of the pamphlet.
As the Introduction notes:
PD has always fought for a broad based campaign on the question of H-Block. From the moment Britain withdrew political status we took the initiative in trying to win mass support for the prisoners. We were active from the beginning in building the RACs…
…our persistent efforts to build broad support for the H Block prisoners from both Sinn Fein and the Left. The Provos claimed we were selling out the National struggle while the Left denounced us for wanting an alliance with bourgeois individuals and parties. Neither accusation was true and by participating themselves in the National Smash H Block Committee our critics have in practice come to recognise this.
It argues that:
Today no one can doubt the merit of a broad-based campaign. The H Block Committee’s list of success is impressive. The conspiracy of silence has been breached and tens of thousands of people have received first hand information about the conditions in Long Kesh and Armagh.
And it concludes.
In this pamphlet we explain the reason for our involvement in the campaign and how we see it developing in the overall context of the National struggle and the fight for socialism. the success of the campaign to date is clear. But it is also clear that we have reached a plateau in our activity. If we are going to take the struggle forward we must know where we are headed.
Throughout the text there are some interesting observations, for example:
Experience has shown us that the liberals, intellectuals and others who do not recognise, even in a historic sense, the need for national liberation, have not flocked to the H-Block campaign. The active campaigners have been those who supported the national liberation struggle over the past decade. The broad, popular, base of the campaign has been comprised of those who, while being neither Socialist or Republican, retain a long term hope for complete national independence.