A number of protests will be taking place today about this morning’s murders by Israeli commandos in several cities. Here are the details taken from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign website.
Cork: Daunt Square at 1pm.
Dublin: March to the Israeli Embassy. Leaves from The Spire, 6pm.
Derry: Guildhall Square at 5pm.
Belfast: City Hall at 4pm.
Waterford: Waterford Bridge at 4pm.
The Workers’ Party is calling for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from Ireland.
Please leave any other statements or details in the comments.
This edition of Making Sense, the WP theoretical magazine, dates from December 1988. As such it provides a snapshot of a time of change both within the Workers Party and Soviet Communism. So, despite the image of Stalin on the cover the accompanying article by Dmitry Volkogonov is far from laudatory while pointing to some fundamental issues as regards the position of Stalin within orthodox Communism. Was he aberration, ‘wrong man, but at the right time’, or what? That this article is written by a Soviet insider points to the changes taking place within that state.
Inside there are a variety of articles including one by Proinsias Breathnach on Bórd na Móna which argues that that organisations ‘enterprise-led’ approach is worth considering by the Irish left. Senator Brendan Ryan considers the nature of the Irish Left, Colm Breathnach discusses FMLN in El Salvador. There are a wide range of book reviews, including one Fearhal Ross writing about Gramsci and there is an article by Lorraine Kennedy on the opening of the Lighthouse cinema.
There’s also a most interesting letter from Paddy Woodworth (a member of the party at one time) which asks a number of pertinent questions which point up some contradictory aspects of certain approaches to the conflict on the island during this period, not least:
On the level of ideology, anti-nationalism in Ireland often appears to be anti-green nationalism, since it rarely challenges the adherence of the Orange community to its British nationalism. Something has gone badly wrong with the balance here. If one side can wave its union jacks and poppies, surely the other can wave its tricolours and Easter lilies…
The editorial has a certain contemporary resonance, in this time of ‘reform’. It deals with the Commission on Electoral Boundaries who were given the task of redrawing constituencies and argues that the terms of reference given to the Commission were ‘deliberately designed to distort the proportionality and gerrymander an inbuilt Fianna Fáil majority’. For a small party holding onto an electoral niche such matters are of the utmost importance.
… it can be safely assumed that Fianna Fáil and elements in Fine Gael will not let upon in their efforts to undermine PR (Proportional Representation). By hook or by crook they intend to render it ineffective, and thus copperfasten the right-wing consensus.
Sunday Independent Stupid Statement[s] of the Week… May 30, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.
I’m filling in for Garibaldy this week, who is unavoidably delayed somewhere in Ireland, so apologies if this isn’t quite as succinct as his usual piece on the topic. What to choose?
An article by Colum Kenny which doesn’t blame the ‘State’ for failings in childcare – the headline being ‘It’s all too easy to blame the State for our own failures
The HSE is a handy scapegoat for the death of Daniel McAnaspie, but we all bear some responsibility,’. Except it does. Sort of. Just like it also blames Fergus Finlay. Except it doesn’t. Sort of.
In a report last week, Amnesty International pointed out that the Irish State is failing children. It is a message that is being heard more and more, partly due to the fact that the children’s charity Barnardo’s has employed the former Labour Party guru and PR agent Fergus Finlay as its chief executive. Well-placed on the inner circle of RTE’s favoured liberal programme panellists, Finlay has irked some frontline practitioners who know more about the needs of children at risk than he knows but who are seldom sought out for their opinions.
But there is no doubting Finlay’s commitment to social change. His articulation of a need that has been neglected by society for too long is helping to create circumstances in which there may be fewer children dying when their families fail them.
Let’s go abroad for a moment and contemplate the idea – raised by Eilish O’Hanlon, that Sex and the City 2 is a brave step forward for feminism and in particular the rights of women in the context of Islam. So a trip to Abu Dhabi by the foursome is no longer… well… a trip to Abu Dhabi (actually Morocco is the location) by the foursome but is instead … a means of reinforcing the point that women don’t enjoy lives of blissful, enlightened liberation under fundamentalist Islam.
But who isn’t standing up for those rights? Why the National Women’s Council. Yes, that’s right. The Irish National Women’s Council. That colossus which will implement change across the Islamic world (and, if O’Hanlon is to be believed should go easy on Ryanair for ‘pictures of scantily clad women on its charity calendars’ or ‘one golf club in north Dublin’). Throw in a gratuitous – albeit currently fashionable for the Sunday Independent – reference to famous Marxists of the 20th century and we’re away:
They’re the feminist equivalent of Lenin’s “useful idiots”, smugly imagining they’re contributing to some nuanced understanding of cultural diversity when all they’re really doing is unwittingly providing cover to Islamic extremists to subtly chip away at Western freedoms.
That the clue is in the name National Women’s Council appears to escape her. But speaking of smug, here’s something on the provenance of the phrase ‘useful idiots’.
Finally, I’m not sure if this is the editorial – it’s unsigned, and I’m having to access the web edition, but it’s a doozy.
In a one-size-fits all piece that argues that somehow that a ‘rights agenda’ although…
…rooted in good faith — Ireland’s past is littered with horrendous abuse and violations of basic human rights — but it soon spiralled out of control. Society is now weakened by an obsession with rights and an abrogation of responsibilities. Too many people expect the State or its agencies to sort out problems that they themselves would have taken responsibility for just a generation earlier.
And what example [rhetorical or otherwise] of how we might take responsibility for problems does it offer us?
Our recovery must start from the ground up, with individual communities determining to retake control of their streets, their neighbourhoods and their lives. We are each responsible for where we live, for what happens around us and for those who live near us. Above all, we have a responsibility to each other. We can expect the State to clear the rubbish from the streets, but if it does not, then we can choose to do something about it (organising locally to clear up an area) or we can sit back and moan about the failure of the State while the rubbish piles higher. We can talk about our rights, or we can meet our responsibilities.
Rubbish clearing? Rubbish clearing? I don’t recall us having to take responsibility for that a generation ago. Unless they know something we don’t about just how bad the cuts are going to be…
I’m sure there’s more, any contributions gratefully accepted…and I’ve discovered there’s an art to picking out single sentences which I haven’t got.
Don’t Get Caught in a Bad Hotel May 29, 2010Posted by Tomboktu in Uncategorized.
And lists of north American hotels from UNITE HERE under the headings “Please Patronize”, “Risk of Dispute”, “On Strike”, and “Boycott These Properties”.
Many thanks to the person who sent me this…
The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010 was published today (Friday 28 May 2010). The Bill is available to view on http://www.oireachtas.ie/
The Bill provides for a number of measures including changes to the One-Parent Family Payment to reduce, from April 2011, the qualifying age for receipt of the payment to when the youngest child reaches the age of 13. This section also provides for transitional arrangements for current recipients of the One-Parent Family Payment (see Note).
The Bill also provides for a specific disqualification for receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance where the person refuses an offer of suitable employment. It also provides for a reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Supplementary Welfare Allowance for claimants who refuse to participate in an appropriate course of training or to participate in a programme under the National Employment Action Plan.
The Bill also provides for:
* The Minister to appoint persons other than serving staff to be appeals officers. This section will allow for the employment, on a temporary basis, of retired appeals officers, as appeals officers to clear backlogs in the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
* The publication of the names, addresses, fines and other penalties of persons who have been convicted of offences under Social Welfare legislation.
The Bill will be debated in both Houses of the Oireachtas in June and early July.
Note: Currently the Department’s One-Parent Family Payment is payable until the youngest child reaches 18 or 22 if in full-time education, where means and other conditions are met. Under the amended scheme, payment will be made until the youngest child in a lone parent family reaches age 13.
There will also be special provisions for families with children for whom Domiciliary Care Allowance is paid as well as for both married and co-habiting persons who are recently bereaved and who have children aged 13 years or older. (The Domiciliary Care Allowance is a monthly payment made to the carer of a child with a severe disability who lives at home). The new provisions will be introduced from April 2011, with transition arrangements in place for existing recipients.
These changes will bring Ireland’s support for lone parents more in line with international provisions, where there is a general movement away from long term and passive income support. The EU countries that are achieving the best outcomes in terms of tackling child poverty are those that are combining strategies aimed at facilitating access to employment and enabling services (e.g. child care) with income support.
See http://www.oireachtas.ie/ for a copy of the Bill and an accompanying explanatory memo.
Some reaction here.
File under: heads they win, tails we lose… May 29, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics.
Fitch Ratings cut Spain’s credit rating today, saying the government’s efforts to reduce debt will weigh on economic growth in the coming months – another blow to prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s efforts to shore up confidence in the state finances.
The ratings agency cut the country’s rating one notch from AAA to AA plus, saying Zapatero’s efforts to close the budget deficit “will materially reduce the rate of growth of the Spanish economy over the medium term”.
The ratings agency decision echoes concerns from economists that efforts to cut state debt will also withdraw stimulus from the economy and hinder growth. Lower growth in turn means gathering less in tax revenues. It comes after a similar move a month ago by fellow ratings agency Standard & Poor’s. The third main ratings agency, Moody’s, has kept Spain on its highest level so far.
Guess what Ireland’s rating is.
Well, now, this is depressing… May 29, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
…I’m sure many of us caught it already on the Guardian website, but the report on the English Defence League is something else. That said you’d wonder if it’s self-limiting in terms of it’s political appeal given that it seems to be so clearly located in street violence… but an eye opener to see other minorities represented there.
Interesting to see how the new UK government responds.
This weekend I’ll be mostly listening to… Bad Lieutenant [Bernard Sumner’s latest vehicle] May 29, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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I appear to have lost touch with music to a degree that I can’t quite believe, because it was literally this week I discovered that New Order, sans Peter Hook, finally released an album last year under the Bad Lieutenant name (and Peter Hook released an album last month or so under the Freebass name, of which more soon).
It’s sort of a logical continuation of a sound that typified the final NO album “Waiting for the Siren’s Call”. It’s poppy, but Bad Lieutenant is a lot rockier, which is not to say that it’s rock, it’s clearly hard to shift Bernard Sumner from the musical position he has made his own across thirty odd years or so. So single Sink or Swim is bippity boppity New Order like, albeit a little bit more charged and with added extra acoustic guitars. It’s almost rockist. And it’s almost Monaco (Peter Hooks last but one solo vehicle) like. Ironic that…
And then… we arrive at the most fine This Is Home where, someone else (guitarist Phil Cunningham) takes over parts of the vocal duties and it all begins to sound a little bit, or actually quite a lot, like Doves.
Now I like Doves as much as the next person, perhaps more, indeed up until their last album Kingdom of Rust I’d have argued they were probably one of the most impressive indie bands of the 2000s. KoR didn’t quite cut it with me though. But it’s sort of weird to hear a New Order/Doves amalgam. Weird in some respects a good way and in others… not so much. And again there are the guitars, there’s quite a bit of them and they hearken back to the 1970s, and I don’t mean punk and post punk, or at least not mostly. There’s something almost Steely Dan or 1970s Californian, or even at a stretch REMish about some of the guitar lines.
Nice enough. Which in a way sums up the album. It’s pretty damn good, but I’m not sure, in fact I’m pretty bloody certain, that it’s great. Lot’s of lovely sounds, great vocals (from both of them in truth) – shoddy lyrics: Sumner can’t resist singing about driving cars and there’s at least two and possibly three songs where we are treated to lines about rivers rolling along or to the sea (and there’s a certain glum fascination in trying to determine which – if any – of the songs are directed at one P. Hook). And there is just the faintest hint of the Seahorses, John Squires entirely unlamented post-Stone Roses project, in all this. Just a hint mind, but it’s in the rockist trappings that occasionally overwhelm the songs. Thankfully that can only be said of one or two of them, and I’m finding that I like both the Cunningham vocals on songs and the Sumner vocals and that overall it’s growing on me. In general.
But, the beauty of an album in this digital age is that you don’t have to listen to all the songs. And for all that it’s Sumner and a new band and that’s always worth something. Part of the fascination is in seeing him (and his peers from NO – next week Freebass) chart out terrain around their central sound, finding ways to make music that sounds similar, but not quite the same. That they and he have managed to do that across three or four decades is no small achievement.
Sink or Swim
This Is Home
Twist of Fate
Sink or Swim/Bizarre Love Triangle (Acoustic)
Prohibition… May 28, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, US Politics.
Okay, there’s no end of things going on, not least the privatisation of VHI which I’ll return to again, but… for something a bit different… there’s an excellent podcast (and an – ahem – painful title to the podcast) on Slate.com where The Big Money, their business and finance side (intriguingly liberal for the US – well worth a listen in any event) discusses a new book by Daniel Okrent, “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” on the Prohibition era. I have to admit, I’ve always been fascinated by that strand of US history. As the author notes, in the US Constitution Prohibition was utterly anomalous by attempting to constrain individual behaviour. There’s also some remarkable information, such as the links between temperance and suffrage which – when one thinks about it – make perfect sense in the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th. And then you also had a bizarre situation where the KKK supported suffrage and the IWW supported prohibition.
That Prohibition was only revoked in the early 1930s is in itself notable.
But as much so is the attitude one experiences in the US in relation to alcohol. I think it could be termed generally one of caution and moderation. Obviously those of us who have been there know of exceptions, but drinking patterns say compared with the Irish experience are immediately recognisable as distinct. And this presumably comes in no small measure – so to speak – from the enduring legacy of those times. A fascinating conversation and a book that would be I suspect well worth reading.
This week on the Irish Election Literature Blog… May 28, 2010Posted by guestposter in Culture, Irish Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.
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Some more remarkable material from AK at the IELB. Again many thanks…
A 1994 European Elections canvass card from the Democratic Left’s Pat Rabbitte
Not Irish, but of interest, some posters and flyers from Seize BP in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
This 1990 Workers Party leaflet on overcrowding in college brings back a few memories
from 2004 A simple ad for the Socialist Party’s Mick Barry in the Evening Echo
From the 2009 local Elections a leaflet from The Irish Socialist Networks John O’Neill
From 1998 The DUP opposing the Good Friday Agreement…
‘Stand up for Ulster! Stand up for your children and your heritage! Stand up for your children and your children’s children! Let the world know that the Ulster people will not be bullied, bribed or butchered into accepting fascist rule. It is suicidal to do otherwise.’
and Finally from 1981….who is this that wants ‘to create a fair and just society..’