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An Phoblacht – October edition out now… September 30, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Sinn Féin, The Left.

And its strongly focused on the McGuinness Presidential election campaign. The editorial argues that ‘Ireland Needs a New Beginning’ and continues:

Martin McGuinness is standing in the Presidential election on his record as someone who has already been central in bringing huge change to Ireland, particularly in the North. If elected President, Martin McGuinness can be a catalyst for real change throughout Ireland, a change that is urgently needed.
A former IRA Volunteer who defended his community when he was called upon, a republican leader for over 30 years; an experienced negotiator, an internationally acclaimed peacemaker and a Government minister, Martin McGuinness has the experience and the calibre for the highest elected office in the land.

There are also articles on ‘Labour’s Sell-Out on State Assets’, the history of the 1981 Hunger Strikes continues, an interesting piece on the SDLP leadership campaign and amongst other articles a fascinating look at Dr. Kathleen Lynn.

Available from all usual outlets.

Bits and pieces: The stuff there isn’t time to write about in any depth… this week – Presidential Campaigns here and there, Fintan O’Toole, Michael Taft on the time we all ‘partied’ and Conor McCabe to speak at Pearse Institute. September 30, 2011

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

There’s so much going on that it’s difficult to keep track of it. So let’s briefly consider a few of the issues of the day in almost no detail at all!

We have an US Republican Presidential candidate nomination process that continues to throw up the most intriguing possible Presidents. Many of these people make Mitt Romney look good, and that just can’t be right. But John Dickerson of Slate discusses the elusive quality of ‘leadership’ in relation to Obama and makes what seem to be some good points.

There’s our own Presidential Election where the field looks oddly diminished now we see them all as actual candidates rather than potential nominees. I was amused by Stephen Collins pointing to ‘Áras hopefuls McGuinness, Norris face tough questions’… which is a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever I saw one. But I wonder if it’s a very sensible tactic. Ascribing difference to those two marks them as distinct from the rest of the field. Not necessarily the line I’d be taking if I – for example – was keen that Mary Davis would win.

Speaking of which, Mary Davis without doubt has the most polished looking posters of the campaign so far. Top that Norris or McGuinness. And there’s Sean Gallagher who perhaps in an indication of his chances has decided to forego posters. A nation looks on – or doesn’t – bemusedly.

Worth a quick mention is the bizarre tangle Fintan O’Toole has tied himself up in over the McGuinness candidacy. It’s like one column in I got it, O’Toole doesn’t think McGuinness should be President. But two columns, the latter of which uses ever more baroque reasoning to say the same thing and continues to add an amazingly partitionist aspect to it?

Then again today John Waters tries, with no real conviction, to distance himself from his previous column on the Presidency.

On a complete tangent, anyone noticed how the Amazon Kindle can now access Public Library books in the US.

I don’t have a Kindle, but there’s something I like about the idea of this. Presumably as with any public library there will only be limited copies available of a book to readers and when they’re ‘checked out’ they’re not accessible, but while one can be concerned about the threat to printed books – though anyone who goes to the Central Library will see how that’s a threat that remains muted and for a variety of reasons, the fact that someone is thinking through the logic of ebooks and how they can and should be read not simply in a commercial context but with a sense of public good is oddly heartening. Surely, Amazon isn’t doing this purely for benign reasons, no doubt the calculation is that by approaching the problem in this way they’ll pull in more readers for their ereaders, but even so.

Meanwhile, here’s an important article by Michael Taft which uses data to support what many of us may have felt purely on a subjective level a regards our supposed ‘party’ in the early 2000s.

And an excellent point here in comments…

But – whatever the background to the figures – they do support what I feel should be the focus of the left in defending social welfare – we should argue in favour of equality and in support of a system into which everybody pays and everybody gains. When we focus on the poor and the so-called ‘most vulnerable’ we shift the focus away from a welfare state and back towards some modernised version of Victorian charity.

I think this gets lost in a lot of the discussion at the moment.

Also on matters economic, consider IBECs some parts sensible, some parts not, submission on growth in the economy. A lot to agree with, not least that they’re talking about growth, and some of their ideas seem quite interesting. I’m not sure I disagree with their thoughts on child benefit. But… this being IBEC as always they want more spending cuts, and that links directly into the quote above as regards the sort of social provision we’ll be left with after their approach.

This by the way is surely an hypothetical…

And still on the economic front, this here, The Dream of Europe and the Bailout of Greece – Planet Money Podcast from NPR is eye-opening as regards perceptions in Germany and the Greek bailout – which seem a world away from the caricatures one reads or hears in much of the news media of a resentful Germany unwilling to help others.

Here’s something anyone who hasn’t heard Conor speak before should try to get along to…THE RAY CROTTY MEMORIAL LECTURE 15 OCTOBER 2011 – PRESENTED BY DR. CONOR MCCABE

Meanwhile… back at the Seanad… September 30, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in back at the Seanad, Irish Politics.
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For shame! I forgot! They’re back. Two weeks now no less. And the first one filled with the simple joys of being back. So it was all self-congratulations on merely turning up.

Senator Darragh O’Brien:     I am pleased to be back. I look forward to the upcoming session….It is the first day back and we are not too restricted by time.
An Cathaoirleach:     It is the same as before.

Senator Ivana Bacik:     I join others in welcoming colleagues back. I hope that everyone has had a break over the summer and is ready for the busy and challenging term that lies ahead in which we all hope the Seanad will play a productive and valuable role and in which we will see further progress with the procedural reforms we have begun to make.

Senator Katherine Zappone:     It is good to be back, and with all colleagues.

Senator Pat O’Neill:     As previous speakers have noted, everyone is welcome back and I look forward to this session.

Then here’s Senator Leyden.

Senator Ivana Bacik:     It is extremely rich to hear Fianna Fáil Senators talking about people reneging on their election promises, given that it was that party which brought us to the situation in which we find ourselves.
Senator Darragh O’Brien:     The Senator cannot keep trotting out that garbage. The Labour Party and Fine Gael have a programme for Government and have reneged on practically every promise made.
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Bacik to continue, without interruption.
Senator Ivana Bacik:     As the Minister for Education and Skills said, the country is in receivership thanks to the actions of——
Senator Mark Daly:     Its Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way. Is that the way things will be?
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Bacik to continue, without interruption.
Senator Mark Daly:     Did somebody say something about one red cent?
Senator Ivana Bacik:     I will not be lectured by Fianna Fáil Members on reneging on promises.
Senator Mark Daly:     The Labour Party and Fine Gael made promises to the people before the gneral election.
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Daly, please.
Senator Mark Daly:     They made promises and have not fulfilled one of them.
An Cathaoirleach:     Can we, please, listen to Senator Bacik?
Senator Terry Leyden:     The Senator thinks she is lecturing in Trinity College at the moment.
Senator Ivana Bacik:     I am on unpaid leave from Trinity College.
Senator Terry Leyden:     I thought the Senator had been made a professor.
An Cathaoirleach:     There is no need for those remarks.
Senator Terry Leyden:     I am grateful to the Senator for clarification.
Senator Ivana Bacik:     I remind Senator Darragh O’Brien that it was a Fianna Fáil Government which——
An Cathaoirleach:     Please allow Senator Bacik to speak without interruption.
Senator Mark Daly:     She constantly goes on about the record of the previous Government.
Senator Darragh O’Brien:     Does she wish to talk about——
An Cathaoirleach:     Senator Bacik has three minutes to make her case. A number of other Senators have indicated they wish to speak. Those who interrupt are eating into their own speaking time.
Senator Ivana Bacik:     It was the failed policies of the previous Government which brought the country into receivership.
Senator Mark Daly:     The Senator cannot keep going on about the record.
Senator Ivana Bacik:     That was the point I wanted to make.
Senator Mark Daly:     We can all make similar points. The Government parties made promises to the electorate which they have not fulfilled.
An Cathaoirleach:     I ask Senator Daly not to interrupt.
Senator Ivana Bacik:     I wanted to respond to Senator Darragh O’Brien.
Senator Terry Leyden:     You are excited.
Senator Ivana Bacik:     I am never excited as——
An Cathaoirleach:     Senators must speak through the Chair.
Senator Terry Leyden:     I find it very hard to be excited having to listen——
Senator Ivana Bacik:     Senator Leyden is far too excitable.

And it continued later:


Morning Ireland and Presidential campaigns. September 30, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

As noted below, IELB of this parish may be on Morning Ireland this morning on RTÉ radio discussing previous Presidential campaigns. I’ll post up a link later.

This Week At The Irish Election Literature Blog September 30, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog.

First off , I may have been on Morning Ireland this morning 🙂
(I recorded a piece on Presidential Elections earlier in the week for them and am currently in London having gone to a certain Soccer match)

Anyway starting off this week with a leaflet from the National H-Block Committee advertising a  “Mass National Lobby and March” in Dublin on the 22nd November 1980

On then to a Presidential Election Leaflet from Martin McGuinness
Oddly enough ‘The Peoples President’ is the same slogan as Brian Lenihan used in 1990

“Water Charges Will Squeeze Families Dry” a Sinn Fein ‘No Water Charges” Newsletter.

From 2004 a Leaflet from Brendan Donohoe of the SWP

Finally From the 1944 General Election a message to the electorate from then Taoiseach and Fianna Fail Leader Eamon De Valera.

Talking about the Presidential Campaign…that Prime Time programme last night. September 29, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, The Left.

You’ll find it here if you missed it and want to catch up. But Prime Times last night was undeniably of interest to anyone wanting to get a sense of the candidates. The format, individual short interviews oddly enough managed to catch a sense of them, and granted arriving with preconceptions wouldn’t probably see those preconceptions changed, but…

Higgins was good. Very cogent, fluent. And remarkably relaxed. Perhaps too relaxed. He talked about it being necessary that he be ‘authentic’ and ‘be yourself’. And that was grand. But in all honesty he seems… well, whisper it… just a little … boring. In a way, and this was touched on in the interview, he seems like a very traditional President, a pre-Mary Robinson President. It may well be that the citizens of the state will want that at this juncture. And to be honest whether he gets up the nose of Israel or China doesn’t seem to me to be something that will exercise most people.

Top marks too for dropping the name of the President of the General Assembly of the UN as a supporter!

In regard of McGuinness’s appearance – well he’s not boring at all, but that may not be a good thing. It was interesting how relatively fluent his explanation re IRA membership was. The question on a President for 32 counties though some have said it played badly seemed to me to go okay. That said a friend of mine made what I thought was an excellent point today about the McGuinness candidacy which was that partition might actually work out to his favour. Their point was that there was a flip side to the animosity which was that people knew less about the North and if he could remain detached from the technicalities he still presented an attractive candidacy. Certainly he could relax perhaps just a little.

Mary Davis was curious. Smooth, no question about it. Articulate. Perhaps a little too polished. She certainly seemed to protest perhaps a bit too much about being a ‘totally Independent candidate’ and being ‘the only truly Independent candidate at this stage’. An odd claim to make even if this was recorded before Norris won his fourth Council nomination. What of poor old Sean Gallagher [one has the unpleasant suspicion that that is a phrase that will be used again…]. One thing that struck me was how she seemed to falter just a little at the more critical questions. The smile vanished. The tone became a little more abrasive. Richard Crowley’s question on had she ever had to taken on an unpopular cause in her public life was brilliant. I’ve never seen it asked before in any contest.

An oddly evasive performance from Gay Mitchell and suddenly it becomes clear why he’s got problems. He’s running for a government that despite its supposed popularity [and look at the latest polls where both government parties are shedding some support] seems in the face of the recession and the forthcoming Budget seems oddly fragile.

Most fascinating was the issue of his letter of clemency for US death penalty prisoner Hill. His excuse?

‘…so-called Liberals would have left him out…’

Hmmm…not so sure of that. I think it would be more a case of expecting that he’d support others in a similar straits at around the same time who had different viewpoints.

Dana tells us that the ‘people know [her]’. I wonder. Somewhat cruel of Miriam to note that 14 years ago she went before the people and they rejected her. Still, she has a point about how she was the first Independent candidate to get nominated. Interesting to see whether that doorway will be kept open in future years. But it all seemed a bit vague.

Norris struck me as much more combative than was necessary. Even angry. Is this a deliberate tactic? The issue of the extra letters still seems to me to be a bit tangential; though whether he can hold the line on having advice not to publish to them will be interesting. And in that is encapsulated a problem, perhaps a more pertinent problem than that facing McGuinness. Whereas McGuinness has to fend off his membership of the IRA he is able to keep putting 17 years between him and various acts carried out by that organisation. Whereas Norris has letters floating around. Different, more immediate. Problematic.

Sean Gallagher was better to than I’d expected. The problem is that it seemed very vague too. He got somewhat tangled up in issues of trade missions. To be honest I thought he had a point that he didn’t create them, but that a President would assist in their creation. His big problem is he seems underpowered for a run at this point, not being a politician or being political.

I found it a lot more entertaining that I’d expected, and there’s going to be more. Enjoyable too the way the ‘what is your weakness’ question, standby of a million job interviews, was thrown in for some of them. It’s such an artificial formulation, but sure isn’t this all artificial, seven somewhat diverse individuals thrown into the crucible.

Watching it I’d wonder about the outcome.

Speaking of Goldman Sachs… September 29, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.

As we were here… Richard Curran has a sensible piece in the Sunday Business Post which cuts through some of the rhetoric extant at the moment, and perhaps is of a piece with this on Irish Economy recently where… was sceptical about the rhetoric surrounding public sector pay cuts while arguing for targeted cuts in certain areas.

He expresses healthy scepticism of a talk by Goldman Sachs International Chairman, one P. Sutherland who while arguing that ‘things were getting better… in terms of international perceptions of Ireland and its ability to work through the crisis’ also argued for front loading of ‘pain’ in the budget beyond €3.6bn and appeared, according to Curran, to be calling for public sector pay in Ireland to be cut [cut further, though Curran doesn’t say that].

But Curran makes a useful point when he notes that:

Pay has already cut across large swathes of the economy. Cutting it further could well be a dangerous game. If public sector pay here were cut to the European average it would do a lot for our exchequer balance. however, Irish public sector employees carry higher personal debt levels than the European average as do Irish citizens across the board.

And he continues:

If you cut pay in too extreme a fashion, without a mechanism to cut people’s debt, it’s no longer about them tightening their belts; they will simply be personally insolvent.

European pay rate comparisons might be a useful guide in some ways but if we set them as the target without taking Irish people’s own debt situations into account, real financial carnage will ensue on a personal level.

This is a useful counter to a rhetoric of pain which often appears to assume that economic austerity is good in and of itself without considering the broader systemic ramifications. Michael Taft for years now has been arguing that quite apart from the deflationary impacts on the broader economy of such proposed cuts their actual cost-savings benefit is so minimal as to make little difference to our financial situation.

As it happens the politics many/most on the left advocate will de facto cut wages through increased taxation – how else do we pay for our socio-economic programmes. And the public sector isn’t going to be sheltered from that. But, there’s a time and a place and in the teeth of a recession policies that push us further into deflation appear deeply misconceived.

Worth noting too the tide politically while not changing may see some interesting counterexamples put forward, as with the election this last week of Danish Social Democrat Helle Thorning-Schmidt who has campaigned on a platform resolutely opposed to austerity. Not for her spending cuts, indeed her government is introducing a wealth tax as well. And one small measure that makes sense as well is that she calls on all workers to work a quarter hour a day more without pay in order to raise taxes and increase productivity.

Social solidarity in every sense of the term.

Heres hoping again ….. Spurs V Shamrock Rovers September 29, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

I never enjoyed writing a note to a teacher more than I did yesterday morning….. as I explained my son would be missing two days of school as he was going to see Shamrock Rovers play Spurs in a Europa League clash at White Hart Lane 🙂
(there were tears from his sister at the fact he was getting off school and she wasn’t, nothing about missing the match though!)
Its been a crazy few weeks with passports to be got, tickets, flights, hotels, transport to be organized too. On the football front fixture pile ups , Sligo hitting form, the game with Rubin Kazan and of course tonights game with Spurs (live on tv3 and a host of other broadcasters at 8.05). With lots more fixtures coming up in quick succession too.
The club have sold 2,300 tickets to fans, so there will be huge numbers traveling over. There will also be a few thousand London Irish cheering Rovers on.
As for the actual game, its hard to see Rovers coming away with anything despite Spurs naming a squad missing a good few of their star names. Pavlyuchenko and Lennon, amongst others will be lining out for Spurs. Rovers have a few injury problems, especially at centre back and given the amount of games these part time players have played, a few will be fatigued.
In a good few of the European games we have conceded soft early goals. If conceding an early goal can be avoided, the team will grow in confidence. We also will be playing a defensive 4-5-1 with ex Spurs man Rohan Ricketts on one of the wings. So far he’s done well, his passing and ability on the ball is superb, however he isn’t fully fit and wouldn’t be known for tracking back.
Needless to say, I would love to get something from the game…. but given the gulf in resources between Rovers and Spurs and Rovers various travails over the years since Milltown… it is because we are here in the first place that we’ll be celebrating tonight.

Should anyone be interested, a limited number of tickets for the home games vs PAOK and Spurs go on sale Monday at 10am from the Club Shop in Tallaght.


Nick Cohen’s musings on the McGuinness Presidential campaign. September 28, 2011

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

We already discussed this tangentially at the weekend and many thanks to neilcalf for pointing the way, but even amongst the truly bizarre arguments Cohen propounds in the Observer, most notably a comparison between the IRA and continental Falangism, this paragraph following perhaps best demonstrates how partial, and arguably partisan, his reading of Irish history is:

Their war [the IRA] was futile because the power sharing and cross-border institutions the IRA settled for in 1998 had been on offer since 1974. All the people the IRA, Protestant paramilitaries and the British army killed in the intervening decades died for nothing. Sometimes, it seems as if the only person stating the obvious is the Guardian and Observer’s Ireland correspondent Henry McDonald, but his point needs repeating: the ranks of the IRA were filled with the world’s slowest-learning murderers. It took them a generation to realise their dream of uniting Ireland by violence was a malign fantasy.

This is ahistorical. Firstly both wings of Republicanism, Provisional and Official, were vehemently opposed to Sunningdale. Henry McDonald of all people one would imagine would be well able to tell Cohen this.

But that’s to reify but one element in the equation because Cohen ignores the unwillingness of vast bulk of political Unionism to share power with nationalism – not Sinn Féin but the SDLP, an unwillingness that was reiterated time and again through the 1970s and on into the 1980s. And this unwillingness wasn’t predicated by the activities of the IRA – though it didn’t help, but rather was an intrinsic belief on the part of unionism that power-sharing in and of itself, even with the mildest of nationalist formations was simply wrong. This issue was engaged to some degree here.

We’re hearing a lot about how Sinn Féin seeks to rewrite history, and there’s some truth in that. How could it be otherwise with an history that was at many points appalling. But it wasn’t an history that depended solely on the agency of the IRA and Sinn Féin. There were many players in this, and that is not simple ‘whataboutery’ but instead a recognition of the deep rooted dynamics that long predated the arrival of the IRA in its most recent incarnation.

One might say that it’s unsurprising that Cohen in a newspaper article would be unconcerned with such nuances, as well as clearly unacquainted with the facts, but to be honest I think it should be precisely the opposite way around when he considers it appropriate to make such stark and startling statements as he does.

What you want to say? Open Thread, 28th September 2011 September 28, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Once more following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

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