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New Issue of LookLeft Out Now April 30, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in media, Workers' Party.

The new issue of LookLeft has hit the shops. It includes an interview with the newly-elected ULA TD Joan Collins, and an article on the EU by the SP’s MEP Paul Murphy. Cian O’Callaghan of the Labour Party and Mick Finnegan of the Workers’ Party discuss the future of the left. There are articles discussing media coverage north and south, articles on the economy, and the usual mix of history, sport and culture.

Shops stocking LookLeft include

All EASONS outlets in the North.

EASONS in O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.

CONNOLLY BOOKS in East Essex Street, Dublin 2.

BOOKS UPSTAIRS in College Green, Dublin 2.


All NEWS VENDORS on O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.

QUEEN’S BOOKSHOP in University Road, Belfast.

EASONS in Patrick Street, Cork.

SOLIDARITY BOOKS in Douglas Street, Cork.

EASONS in Shop Street, Galway.

EASONS in O’Connell Street, Limerick.

ROSEBERRY STORES, Newbridge, County Kildare.

CENTRA, Main Street, Newbridge, County Kildare.

TOP TWENTY, Newbridge Shopping Centre, County Kildare.

STONEHOUSE BOOKS, McDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, Kilkenny.

This Weekend I’ll be Listening to … Trash Can Sinatras April 30, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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My older brother having bought a CD player a few months before… The few CDs in the house weren’t exactly to my taste .  So I decided it was time to buy one of these new CDs for myself. It was a big decision on a number of counts.
Location – The CD/Tape/Record player was located in the bosom of the house and of course the owner (my older brother) would have first dibs on usage. Were there visitors, I wouldn’t be able to listen to the CD player either. Where as I had an old record player in my bedroom that I could listen to any time I liked and was even able to balance the speakers on the windowsill to blast side 4 of ‘Live and Dangerous’ to the Street.
There was something too about the Vinyl record. The Size of it to start with, the ability to show it off by taking it out of its plastic bag on the bus home after the purchase, then even the size of the record bag with Freebird, Sound Cellar or wherever written on it, although it was hard enough to smuggle a record into the house.
Anyway despite the misgivings I took the plunge and the first CD I bought was the album ‘Cake’ by The Trash Can Sinatras. (The Second CD I bought was by a band called ‘Clea and McCleod’, the less said about that the better.)

There was all sorts of stuff about how CDs were indestructible compared to Vinyl. It was in the paper or a magazine that a CD would play even with a coating of jam on it. I was terribly tempted to experiment with Jam and my brothers Queen CD but being afraid I’d break the CD player, I decided against.
‘Cake’ was full of poppy tunes with well crafted lyrics and I’d discovered what to my mind at least, were one of the best bands produced by Scotland.
Cake was released in 1990 and provided the band with their biggest hit in “Obscurity Knocks”, The albums “I’ve Seen Everything” and “A Happy Pocket” followed containing some wonderful tunes like “Hayfever” and “Twisted and Bent”. Alas commercial success didn’t follow and they were dropped by Go Discs and TCS were eventually declared bankrupt.
In 2003 “Zebra of the Family” a great collection of outtakes, demos etc was released (not sure if it was on general sale as I picked it up at a TCS gig). In 2004 their fourth studio album “Weightlifting” was released. Following the release The band started touring on a more regular basis and made an appearance on KCRWs Morning Becomes Eclectic show (a recording of the show here).
The fifth studio album “In the Music” was released in 2009.
A Biography from the Trashcan Sinatras site

May Day Events in Belfast April 29, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in Trade Unions.

May Day Rally and March

Saturday April 30th
SPEECHES 12 noon

Full details of the May Day festival (which has already started, so am late with this) here

In addition, April’s Union Post is online now.


CORK, Sunday May 1st. Assemble Connolly Hall, Lapp’s Quay, 1pm

DUBLIN, Sunday May 1st, Assemble Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, 11.30am.

Plus thought I’d add the snazzy WP image for the Belfast march.

Reclaim the Unions! Forum for Trade Union Activists April 29, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
1 comment so far

Thanks to Mark P for forwarding the following:

Speaking of the unions, this meeting will probably be of interest to a lot of people here:

Leaflet here.

This Week at The Irish Election Literature Blog April 29, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog.
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From the 1987 General Election

Starting off this week with a few more of the Seanad Leaflets.
This one from Kenneth O’Flynn is worth a look if only for the picture of himself and Michael Martin.

On then to the Norths Assembly and Local Elections
A Leaflet from Ann Cooper of The BNP running in Belfast East .. “Because We’ll Stop Immigration

From the other side of the City a leaflet from People Before Profits Gerry Carroll running in Belfast West

from the present we go to the past and a Save 16 Moore Street Leaflet from the Labour Party.

Then on to a 2011 leaflet from Maureen O’Sullivan

and finally to an interesting selection of old UK Labour Party Posters

To Celebrate an Unexpected Public Holiday April 29, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in Republicanism.

Building the ULA …. April 28, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in ULA.
Tags: ,

There’s an article on The Socialist Party Website on building the ULA. Its fairly insightful as to where the ULA are with regard to becoming a party and the possible tensions within the ULA.

A few quotes…

The Socialist Party proposed that a ULA membership should now be established. A ULA membership card has been produced and a recruitment leaflet will be available soon so activists can engage in an organised recruitment drive.


The Socialist Workers Party seems to favour launching a new party immediately, dismissing the problems that the current mood of the working class poses and warning against delays and conservatism. However, that has more to do with inappropriate impatience than a serious approach to building a new party.

SIPTU May Day Labour History School in Athy from Sat 30th April to Sunday May 1st. April 28, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Saturday 30th April &
Sunday 1st May
The Athy Community Arts Centre

Debates &


A photographic Exhibition commemorating the workers who built the canals and the boatmen who transported the goods throughout the canal network.

Official Opening of the Festival by the Mayor of Athy

A series of talks examining the socio-economic and cultural impact that the opening of the canals had on provincial life. The typical life of the early Navvies and boatmen will be brought to life, and the struggle for improvement in conditions leading to early Trade Union formation will also be explored.

A concert of Labour and Workers’ songs, featuring two of Dublin’s well-known balladeers, Tom Crean and Jimmy Kelly. The concert will be preceded by a Wine Reception at 7.30pm.


History Ireland’s Hedge School: ‘Whatever Happened to the Citizen Army?’

We have the pleasure of hosting History Ireland’s successful Hedge School series. The round table discussion will trace the history of the radical LeftRepublican tradition in Irish history.The panel will consist of:

Brian Hanley:
St Pat’s, Drumcondra (co-author of The Lost Revolution: A History of the Workers Party and the Official IRA)

Eoin O’Broin:
Sinn Fein

Fergus Whelan:
ICTU (author of Dissent into Treason)

Jack O’Connor:
President of SIPTU.

The panel will be chaired by Tommy Graham
of History Ireland

More details on this PDF…


What they said then… The private sector and social partnership April 28, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

For some time, given the now almost monolithic consensus on the economic right that social partnership was a bad thing (and this is distinct entirely from the critiques from parts of the left), I’ve been intrigued as to what was said at the time.

My memory was hazy, but I thought that generally there was a different consensus during the period of the mid to late 1990s and early to mid 2000s that social partnership was a positive for the economy, a consensus that was shared by most, if not all.

Apologies, some of the links below are behind pay walls. Still, the quotes will give a flavour of the times…

In 1996 IBEC released a report entitled Social Policy in a Competitive Economy which accepted fully the broad parameters of social partnership. As Padraig Yeates wrote in the Irish Times at the time:

SOCIAL Policy in a Competitive Economy is the most political document ever produced by the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation. After decades of unsuccessfully trying to stem the tide of social legislation in Ireland, employers are saying, that they are prepared to embrace the “social market”.

If they cannot beat the powerful array of interest groups that have made issues like equality, social exclusion and unemployment central to Government policy, then the employers intend joining it; in the hope that by doing so they will have a more effective say in how those issues are addressed in the future than they have ever had in the past.

In fairness to IBEC, which was only founded in 1990 out of an amalgamation of the old Federation of Irish Employers and the Confederation of Irish Industry, it has been showing an increased awareness of social issues in recent years – especially through its contributions to the National Economic and Social Forum. NESF, which was expected to be little more than a talking shop, has helped nurture the practice, as well as the theory, of social partnership.

In 1997 Partnership 2000 was introduced.

There’s no direct quotes that I can find from ICTU or IBEC on the matter, but plenty of indications that it was accepted from the time the social partners agreed it in November 1996. Indeed as Mark Brennock noted as early as April 1997 the Government was quick to ‘implement’ non-pay elements on foot of a meeting with both ICTU and IBEC.

From March 2000 and the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness . Padraig Yeates noted:

The Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation has accepted the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. The new agreement was accepted without being put to a vote yesterday afternoon, after business leaders heard the outcome of the ICTU special delegate conference.

Even the Progressive Democrats were in on the act.

Meanwhile the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and the Tanaiste, Ms Harney, have welcomed acceptance. Mr Ahern said it would allow further progress on a wide spectrum of issues. Ms Harney said our success must not induce complacency over the many new challenges to be addressed “in the context of partnership”.

And what of IBEC’s feelings on the matter?

Yesterday’s meeting of IBEC’s general council was not open to the media but it is understood that some representatives of labour-intensive sectors expressed concern about their ability to absorb costs.

IBEC’s director-general, Mr John Dunne, said later that the PPF held out “the promise for all of us that we can plan into the medium term, as individual businesses and as an economy”. Clearly, he said, “if we are to benefit from this `certainty’ it is of paramount importance that the terms of the new agreement be fully adhered to in both the public and private sectors.

“Ultimately, increases in living standards are only sustainable through increases in productivity. The new agreement clearly recognises this reality.”

And the Small Firms Association?

The Small Firms’ Association, which is affiliated to IBEC, has also accepted the PPF. Its chairman, Mr Kieran Crowley, said the decision was “the right choice for everybody”. Irish business and workers could move forward and face the challenge together.

Indeed in this love-fest there was only one dissenting voice:

However, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises’ Association said “the universal championing of consensus and the political drift towards the centre are stifling individualism and innovation”.

Sustaining Progress was introduced in 2003. What was the consensus about it and social partnership in general? John Downes wrote in the Irish Times in 2003 that:

The Irish Business and Employers Confederation also believes that partnership has generally been good for the economy, although it does have concerns.

“Social partnership has served the country well,” says Mr Brendan McGinty, director of human resources with the organisation.

“It has provided a road map as to how the economy should be managed through a consensual approach. From a business point of view, it has worked well on balance. But a central issue is competitiveness, so that policies don’t undermine jobs.”

Now, none of this is to pretend that IBEC wasn’t critical of aspects of the agreements. For example in the early 2000s they were strongly critical of bench-marking.

For instance in relation to Sustaining Progress consider this:

IBEC, the employers’ body, also ratified the deal by a “majority vote” – it declined to give a breakdown – at a meeting of its national council, following consultations with members throughout the State.

It said members had become disillusioned with the previous partnership deal, the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, and that Sustaining Progress offered “a new beginning”.

But the same is true of ICTU in relation to an array of issues during the same period too. At their vote on the agreement the following occurred:

Union delegates voted by 195 votes to 147 to endorse the agreement, Sustaining Progress, at a special conference of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Dublin.

The result was closer than expected because about 35 delegates mandated to vote “yes” had, apparently, left the meeting before the show-of-hands vote was taken.

In other words both elements of this supposed partnership had their own difficulties with it, both conceptually and in practice – and reading that particular report it would seem the unions were much much less entranced with the process than employers.

That they overcame these difficulties or marginalised dissent is a different – and intriguing – issue.

This is, of course, a superficial scan. There’s much more to be done, as for instance examining the press releases from IBEC, SFA and the prodigal son of the employers – ISME.

But the current rhetoric would make one think that the private sector were near unwilling participants in a process which they saw as uniquely flawed when the truth was, if one takes public statements as indicative, if anything quite the opposite.

They might have been critical of aspects of it, but engage they did and time after time.

Some more thoughts on Section 31 and dissident Republicanism. April 28, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.

There’s more to think about in relation to Eoghan Harris’s piece a weekend or two ago which referenced Section 31.

And perhaps the events of the last weekend might throw it into sharper contrast.

One could start with the small point that he articulates a position he held through the 1980s which was at odds with the policy position of the Workers’ Party of which he was a member – and yes, few would argue that the WP were the staunchest critics of Section 31, but look at their policy platforms and one will see that they formally resiled from support for that measure.

There’s the now hardly that innovative thought that Irish history is complex and paradoxical – but show me an history of any place that isn’t, so:

But they are not the only ones with amnesia. As soon as the armed struggle ended, the “leaky consensus” turned into a huge hole. Within months we were producing hard-men history books and a glut of gory television programmes celebrating the cult of the gunman that stretches from Dan Breen to the cult of Michael Collins to the Men Behind the Tripwires. The Real IRA lives in the leaky consensus.

Which seems bizarre given his own efforts to add to that ‘cult’ of Collins.

Many, and not merely – and particularly – those like myself who were members of the WP, will find the following to be somewhat replete with paradox:

Some RTE pontificators seem to have no memory of violence either. They seem to forget the so-called ‘peace process’ was actually a long war of attrition waged by tough Ministers for Justice like Paddy Cooney, the courage of the “rough men” of the so-called Heavy Gang, and the powerful polemics of Conor Cruise O’Brien. Above all, because they were against it, they play down the crucial role played by Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. This kept the Provo apologists off the airwaves for most of the 30 years of the armed struggle. And saved many young men of 20 in the Republic from the seductions of terrorism.

But most characteristic to me is the central anomaly at the heart of his argument, which is expressed as follows:

Would you like to see a spokesperson for the Real IRA on RTE, back to camera, telling us why they murdered Constables Carroll and Kerr, why they are going to go on killing members of the PSNI, and why, by singling out Catholic police officers, they are not merely trying to stop them joining the PSNI but also showing that the Real IRA is not sectarian?

Me neither. Heard it all before. Groundhog day reporting. Never yet heard an RTE reporter who could put an IRA spokesperson on the spot. That’s because a television interview format, as distinct from a newspaper column, cannot handle a trained IRA propagandist because of what I call (in my 1987 document, Television and Terrorism) a “leaky consensus” on the national question.

It’s not the solipsistic stuff with which as ever seeks to position himself dead centre at the heart of the narrative that is most odd. Nor is it the implicit idea that permeates his argument that somehow the masses have to be protected from dissident Republicans because the latter won’t be able to be ‘put on the spot’ – though one wonders when the enormous condescension in that notion will ever be challenged.

Nope, it’s the idea that RIRA is that fussed about being on RTÉ or the media in general. This betrays another weird twist on the self-referential aspect to his character. It may be that Donnybrook remains the conceptual centre of his world, but he’s sorely mistaken if he thinks that the groups that constitute dissident Republicanism are in the slightest bit concerned about making Six:One news or somesuch.

In truth their ambitions are much much less rarified. They want to engage with the communities within which they exist, albeit entirely on their own terms.

But as if to further point up the oddity of the analysis Harris presents consider the delay in the issue of a statement accepting responsibility. Now that might be a function of the knowledge that the murder of Ronan Kerr has probably done them no good at all, but it more likely is a function of a mindset that sees the murder in and of itself as statement enough.

They don’t, and Harris doesn’t seem to understand or grasp this, do politics or media in the way that PSF do. That’s the very point. Anyone who has had any communication with dissident Republicanism will know that broadly speaking [and there are exceptions, though functionally due to the size of the exceptions it arrives at much the same point as those who eschew politics] they’re intensely wary of the ‘political’.

That’s one of the traps they believe Sinn Féin and PIRA got caught in. They don’t intend to replicate it.

What that leaves is a question worth considering as regards the mix that the dissidents appear to propose.

A Republicanism that is based primarily around a militarist pole seems almost a complete inversion of the tactics and strategies adopted hitherto.

What else – other than politics – links directly into peoples struggles on an hourly, daily, monthly or other basis? And as importantly generates the pools of support that are necessary to sustain it. I can’t think of physical force Republicanism, in and of itself – and presumably manifested in acts like those seen last week – as being sufficient to mobilise communities in the way that other strands of Republicanism were able to over the years, not least because it must of necessity remain in the background. There can’t be any spokespeople, at least not in the sense we know them from previously, because they won’t take direct responsibility for the actions of whatever groupings carry out such acts.

There simply aren’t the structures extant to represent dissident Republicanism in the way that there were with Sinn Féin during the conflict – and that remain with it to this day.

Now, to some degree that may be making a virtue of necessity. There isn’t the support, they are fragmented, and so on. But there is a genuine aversion to the political and I wonder if that will in the longer term merely underline their effective isolation.

And while some might complain that Sinn Féin took more or less the entirety of its base with it when it shifted decisively away from armed conflict, the point is that it did largely take that base.

Anyhow, in light of that, doesn’t Harris’s analysis seem remarkably tangential in terms of any real engagement with this particular issue?

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