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What you want to say? Open Thread, 30th November 2011 November 30, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

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

“Tony Gregory: The Biography of a True Irish Political Legend” November 29, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Books.

About the book

As harsh economic times return to Ireland, it is time to celebrate this inspirational Irishman who made his name as a grass-roots community activist and went on to hold the balance of power in Ireland.

Tony Gregory’s political life has left an exceptional legacy. Robbie Gilligan has talked to the whole “kitchen cabinet” and covers his whole career, from local agitator to elected politician, and the campaigns from 1978-2009.

I read the book as someone who, like many of us, admired Tony Gregory from afar. I’m lucky too in that I have quite a number of his election leaflets spanning from 1985 to his death (my late Grand Aunt kept the earlier ones and later on various people, including the candidate sent them on to me). I was in secondary school when I met him in the mid 80s as he addressed a group of us who were staying in the Inner City for a number of days. Of course some of you will have worked with him, knew him, supported him and so on.

First off the author Robbie Gilligan is important (although there was I gather some fuss about the book launch) .  The reader is blessed that its someone who although not part of the inner circle,  knew Tony Gregory, knew the people around him, worked with him and probably as important was his familiarity with the issues and people in the Inner City that Tony represented.  It could easily have been one of the usual hacks choosing Gregory as the subject of a book and not giving the reader such an insight into both Gregory and the North Inner City Community.

Naturally Tony Gregory’s background is covered in detail, his mother was from Offaly (Later in the book Gregory mentions his Offaly roots in a speech wishing Brian Cowen luck in his new role as Taoiseach) and father a Dubliner. As they only had two children Tony and Noel they were refused a place on Dublin Corporations waiting list (you had to have had at least 4 children to qualify at the time).  The man in the Corporation is quoted as saying  “Come back when you’ve six” .After 12 years in a one roomed flat the family bought a house in Sackville Gardens, Ballybough. A house Tony lived with until his death.
Tonys work ethic and the values of education encouraged by his family, led to him winning a scholarship to O’Connells which turn led to a career in teaching. Amongst his former pupils at Coláiste Eoin were Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Liam O’Maoinlai and Colm Mac Eochaidh.
All the while he was forming politically. Initially Sinn Fein, Official Sinn Fein before a brief dalliance with Seamus Costello and then The Socialist Labour Party. It was though through his involvement in Community groups that led him through to success at the City Council elections of 1979.
‘The Gregory Deal’ is covered in detail ,the background to the demands, the negotiations, the impact and of course the Deal itself which printed in full. Whilst at the time it was trumpeted as a purely local, there were in fact many national issues covered in it too.
This is Tony Gregorys maiden speech to the Dail which is quoted in the book

Mr. Gregory-Independent: A Cheann Comhairle, I preface my remarks by wishing you well in your position. Since my election to the Dáil my advisers and I have had extensive talks with Deputy FitzGerald, Deputy Haughey, Deputy O’Leary and the other Independent groups. At all these meetings we presented the contenders with the same basic proposals. These proposals were exact [26] and specific developments of the issues for which I stood in the election.

Two major considerations dictated our approach to these negotiations: first, to try to get clear commitments from a future Taoiseach on tackling the issues with which we are concerned and on which I was elected; secondly, we were conscious of the responsibilities placed upon us to interpret the balance of political forces in the Dáil and to make a decision that would encourage the development of progressive and class politics. This was no easy task.

I interpreted the result of the election and my own election in particular as demonstrating that the two main political parties have failed to respond to the needs fo our society. I had no illusions about the differences between the main political parties. Policies, not personalities, influenced my decision. The decision I have come to has not been taken lightly and certainly not with a view to maintaining any particular party in power. My decision is purely tactical and based on achieving as many as possible of the issues that I was elected on.

Specifically, my decision is based on a clear difference in response from Deputy Haughey and Deputy FitzGerald. Given the commitment by Deputy Haughey, witnessed and signed by the General Secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union I had no alternative but to support a Fianna Fáil Taoiseach. The issues to which Deputy Haughey committed himself included a major increase in Dublin Corporation’s housing programme, which has been a scandal for years, the allocation of £91 million for housing in 1982, and a commitment to reach 2,000 houses by 1984 was given. Four hundred new housess in the north centre city area will be started this year.

Mr. E. Collins: What about the rest of the country?


An Ceann Comhairle: This is Deputy Gregory’s maiden speech and it is customary [27] for no interruptions to take place during a Member’s maiden speech.

Mr. Gregory-Independent: I regret, though I understand it, that some members of the Opposition do not appreciate the importance of these commitments. I certainly do. I should like to go on with the details and the basis on which I shall give my support to Deputy Haughey as Taoiseach. An almost total breakdown of Dublin Corporation services will now be averted as a result of a commitment by the Leader of Fianna Fáil to allocate a further £20 million to Dublin Corporation’s budget for this year.

On the issues of employment we put specific proposals to Deputy Haughey. He committed himself to an immediate work force of 500 men costing £4 million for a corporation environmental works scheme and more than 150 additional craftsmen at a cost of £1,500,000 in addition to the present staff to be employed and to give a major boost to the corporation’s repairs and maintenance service. A commitment to nationalise Clondalkin Paper Mills to save the jobs of 500 men if no other option presented itself immediately was given. This commitment is a demonstration of a new departure and attitude to the development of our natural resources.

The controversial and destructive motor way plan will not now be proceeded with. The vital 27 acres on the Port and Docks Board site will be nationalised and developed along lines geared to the needs of centre city communities. In the field of education a major commitment to pre-school education along with the provision of a £3 million community school for the neglected centre city area was given, this being part of the designation of the central city area as an educational priority area. Advances in the taxing of derelict sites, office developments, financial institutions and development land were agreed to. A national community development agency will be set up for a budget of £2 million to replace and continue the work of the Combat Poverty Committee.

[28] These are some of a very comprehensive list of agreed policies between my advisers and the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party. Deputy FitzGerald in his response, though sincere and genuine, was most pessimistic and did not approximate remotely to the commitments given by Fianna Fáil.


Mr. Gregory-Independent: Having assessed the responses of the two contenders there were two further considerations which we felt were important.


A Deputy: What about Cork?

Mr. Gregory-Independent: One was the role of the five Independent Socialist Deputies and the hope that they could agree to a common strategy in electing a Taoiseach. The decision of Sinn Féin the Workers Party not to participate in an alliance prior to the election of the Taoiseach and on the election of the Taoiseach, a decision which we respect as their right, made our hoped-for alliance impossible. The position of the Labour Party was also important to us because of the common ground between us on social and economic issues. Their decision not to participate in Government effectively ruled out any other option but to give conditional support to the election of a Fianna Fáil Taoiseach. Once a Government have been elected they will receive my support only in so far as they pursue the programme of agreed commitments and other acceptable policies to me.

Beidh mé ag votáil mar sin ar san an Teachta Ó hEochaidh sa toghachán le haghaidh an Taoisigh.

The book also deals with Tony Gregory in the context of ‘Tackling drugs and Crime”. There are some vivid descriptions of the havoc to the community caused by the Heroin epidemic. The inaction by the authorities, Tonys brave stance against dealers, The volume of addicts and the knock on effects of that. Later the horrors of HIV/Aids was added to misery caused by Heroin.
Aside from striving for better living conditions, jobs and education for his constituents, Gregory also was outspoken about crime. He was involved with the Concerned Parents against Drugs, a group that was in many cases ignored by official Ireland because of its minimal Sinn Fein element. Gregory also suggested a Criminal Assets Bureau , which took the murder of Veronica Guerin rather than the deaths of thousands of Heroin Addicts to come into being. He later on also suggested a mini CAB targeting the lower ends of the Drugs trade. The dealers driving around in the new four wheel drive, making the drug dealer lifestyle look appealing.
The Street Traders issue is also covered in detail and Gregory served time for standing by them. These were hard working local women trying to make ends meet. In this quote Tony Gregory entwines the Heroin, Class, the Gardai and the Street Traders well …..

“I want to mention something that makes me see red. It’s when I hear the Gardai whinging that they don’t have community support in the Inner City. I’ll just take two examples to make my point … when business firms demand Gardai action against unfortunate street traders, the Gardai arrive in force and bundle women and prams into paddy wagons and off to the calls in Store Street. But when the tenants or priests or community workers look for help against heroin pushers, the Gardai all but ignore them. The moral seems to be the Gardai are a tool for the rich to be used against the community. If the Gardai want community support in the city centre then they should act in the community interest. They could and should make heroin too hot to handle.”

Amongst other sections in the book are ‘Brand Tony’, ‘Republican issues’, ‘Environmental Safety and Planning’, Animal rights and ‘Foreign Affairs’ (There is a nice picture of him shaking hands with Fidel Castro in the book).
In relation to the crash we have Tony Gregory questioning the suitability of having Senior members of Anglo Irish Bank on the Board of the Dublin Dockland Authority. A Board that had authority over planning in the Docklands area…..
There is also a section on “His Critics and Opponents” with reference to relationships with some of the Left in that part and indeed in many other parts of the book.
Its a good read and well written.
I know this sounds corny but finishing the book I was left with the horrifying thought “What if there had been no Tony Gregory?”

The Devil’s Rejects: the Green Party in Government and after… November 29, 2011

Posted by smiffy in Uncategorized.

Recently, I had the misfortune to have to spend a couple of days in the Accident and Emergency Department of Beaumont Hospital, and spent part of my time there reading Mary Minihan’s account of the experience of the Green Party is the last government, A Deal With The Devil.  Looking about at the patients around me stuck in trolleys for days on end, old women calling for a bedpan at three in the morning, teenagers in neck braces after road traffic accidents, it was hard not to sympathise while at the same time thinking: “They could be worse off – they could be Eamon Ryan”.

It’s evident that the decision to enter into a coalition was a disastrous one for the Green Party, wiping them out as an electoral force at local and national level.  While the prospects of recovery are a issue for the future (possibly far future), the question can still be asked: were the Greens well-meaning but naive progressives, outmatched by Fianna Fail and by an economic meltdown the scale of which no one could have predicted? Or were they, from the start, power-hungry cynics who abandoned any pretence of principle as soon as they caught the scent of office?

Minihan’s book certainly takes the former, more generous, interpretation.  It’s a relatively light, journalistic account of the almost four years of the Fianna Fail – Green Party coalition government, from the perspective of the smaller party.  There’s little in it that’s not already at least semi-public knowledge, and it appears to be based heavily on interviews with senior GP figures as well as reporting of the events covered from the time.  The lack of detail is, admittedly, disappointing and the book is definitely a first sketch, if not draft, of an interesting political story.  Surprisingly, given the impact (political, social, economic) of the events described, no one – Greens or FF – is particularly demonized, and few of the interviewees appear to have a bad word to say about anyone else.  The closest it comes to acrimony at any point is Paul Gogarty complaining about Eamon Ryan’s attempts to secure a Presidential nomination in 2004.

The book is very light on background, or any real political/ideological substance.  It’s very much the work of a political correspondent, rather than historian or political scientist (but – to be fair – doesn’t present itself as anything else).  On finishing this book, the reader would have little or no idea of where the Green Party came from, what its guiding ideological principles were, or where it stood in relation to other elements of the international Green movement (or even, indeed, that any such movement existed).

Further, while it’s difficult to be sure of this without knowing who the off-the-record interviews were with (the book doesn’t even give a list of on-the-record sources) but the narrative seems very skewed towards the Greens ‘leadership’, that is the elected officials who remained with the party through to the election earlier this year.  Where are the oppositional voices within the party?  Certainly references are made here and there to resignations, and Patricia McKenna occasionally pops up like Banquo’s ghost, but there’s no real sense of how significant or otherwise these voices were, or what the impact of participation in government was on the grassroots party membership.

Incidentally, this narrow approach of focussing only on those who stayed with the party, and of them only those in senior positions, also marred Kevin Rafter’s equally disappointing recent book on Democratic Left.

Finally, for a work attempting to tell the story of the coalition government, Minihan concentrates far too heavily on those issues identified as ‘Green’ ones, to the exclusion of far more significant points.  For example, significantly more space is devoted to Paul Gogarty’s ‘Fuck you’ to Emmett Stagg than to the September 2008 bank guarantee.  Similarly, the the run-up to the IMF/EU bailout last year is covered in more detail, but it’s primarily from the perspective of the Green Party ministers being sidelined, rather than with any explanation or analysis of debt crisis, or how the actions of the government had led to that situation.

While this is certainly a flaw in the book, it’s a somewhat appropriate one, as it points to a fundamental problem with the Greens Party’s governmental strategy and explains, in part, why their participation in the coalition was ultimately a failure.

On entering government, they appear to have learned well from the experiences of the Progressive Democrats.  It’s ludicrous for a party with a handful of seats to try to act as a watchdog over Fianna Fail, on policy or personality issues.  McDowell made a fool of himself in the previous coalition with his Grand Old Duke of York performance of repeatedly hinting at withdrawal from government, but never following through with it.  The Greens’ approach seems to have been a strategy of setting themselves a series of key, achievable policy objectives, and letting the larger party get on with everything else.

What’s forgotten, however, is that the PDs never really had any real ideological differences with their coalition partners.  Elements within the party might have welcomed a more extreme implementation of their neoliberal agenda, but essentially the PDs were a technocratic party most comfortable in government.  They had no problem with letting Fianna Fail run the show, as they were so like-minded in any case, and could stand over any decisions made by the larger party, even if they weren’t directly involved with them.

And that, I think, contributed to the failure of the Greens.  You can’t enter a coalition government in the hope of achieving certain objectives, but stand aloof from the other actions of the government.  If you are to more than a single-issue pressure group, you need to have the capacity to engage with all areas of policy, not just a few.  The Greens appear to have been out of their depth both in policy terms, in getting to grips with the financial crisis, but also strategically, in dealing with Fianna Fail, and the machinery of government.  Even on their own, limited, terms they failed.  I voted for the Greens in 2007 because I believed (and still believe) that climate change is the single most important issue facing society.  If they achieved nothing else in government, they should at least have managed to get the Climate Change Bill through during their time in office.  At least with that, they might have walked away with some consolation for participating in, and with responsibility for, what was arguably the worst government in the history of the state.  However, they did not.

I think that, unlike the PDs, the Greens will survive as a party into the future.  They existed for long enough in the past with little or no electoral support, so they probably can again.  However, what the new incarnation of the Greens turns out to be is still unclear.  One would hope that they will learn from the lessons of recent history and realise that a truly progressive politics (if that is what they purport to be) must be all-encompassing and innovative, and must be able to address a challenge like the bank crisis, and not just environmental concerns, important though they are.  The Greens must learn to embrace radicalism if they are not to become, to use the cliche, redundant.

A digitial video society is a… November 28, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.

There’s an old saw on the libertarian right which I’ve never entirely disliked, that ‘an armed society is a polite society’. How that pans out in actuality is a different matter. But what of a society where everyone, or near enough everyone has access, continual, to video cameras and the ability to stream it to the net. From pepper spraying cops to this depressing incident here is this going to soften peoples coughs?

The coalition of the willing… Eurozone redux. November 28, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics.

What interesting mood music we are being treated to from Europe. Though in truth what is Europe any more? It should be the European Union, but that body, nominally in charge as it may be is oddly quiet. It could be the ECB, but likewise. The 27 heads of government? Er…no… though there are two, or is it one, that counts. And so one reads that:

GERMAN FINANCE minister Wolfgang Schäuble has denied reports that Berlin and France will create a “coalition of the willing” inside the euro zone if EU members reject binding budgetary rules through treaty change.

Rather than convince the EU’s 27 member states or wait for the euro zone 17, Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported yesterday that Berlin and Paris are prepared to create a new “stability club” of eight to 10 members.

Note that this isn’t coming from the eurosceptic British press but from the German press. Does that lend it greater credibility? Perhaps not, but contemporary denials on matters economic in Europe seem much less valid than they might once have.

A German government spokesman declined to comment on the “stability club” proposals yesterday, saying Berlin remain committed to limited treaty change.

A Berlin official added that it was “not Berlin’s ambition” to see the euro zone split in two.

And it makes sense. Constitutional change is a very very dangerous path to take given the ramifications. As I noted at the weekend if it came to an existential In or Out referendum one might suppose that it would be an affirmative vote, but I doubt Enda Kenny would want to bet the park on it. And it might require quid pro quo’s that Germany in its current mood appears almost unable to conceive let alone actually offer.

I’m not a eurosceptic. Critical of the project? Why surely, and deeply and increasingly so. It’s not that I have any illusions as to its nature, but as with any human construct there are both positive and negative aspects, progressive and reactionary ones. That many of us, myself included, for far too long thought that the latter were outweighed by the former is without question a form of credulity, willful too. But there are realities, one of which is that the EU isn’t going anywhere, even – or perhaps particularly – if the eurozone melts into a tighter configuration. So that has to be faced up to, at least as I see it. But what is notable is how the liberal left, broadly speaking the pro-EU centre left, has been unwilling to critique the current events according to the framework they’ve always presented us with in terms of understanding and supporting the EU. The wresting of control and leadership by two states has been effectively ignored, the complete sidelining of EU institutions likewise, the palpable jettisoning of the spirit, and in some respects the letter of EU law likewise. Few voices have been raised to point out that what we have witnessed has been the negation of the stated goals and approaches of the EU.

And, revealingly, the obeisance to markets when the EU was meant to offer a bulwark against them has been all too evident. But if the EU isn’t going anywhere then what does it genuinely stand for in the wake of this? What vision does it articulate? Least worst alternative to every state for itself somehow doesn’t inspire.

Actually, seeing as we’re still thinking about Europe, interesting to see Moody’s warning shot across the bows of European governments…

Moody’s Investors Service warned today the rapid escalation of the euro zone sovereign and banking crisis threatens the credit standing of all European government bond ratings.

“While Moody’s central scenario remains that the euro area will be preserved without further widespread defaults, even this ‘positive’ scenario carries very negative rating implications in the interim period,” the agency said in a report.

And it seems to believe that worse must occur before the EU or whatever subset of governments get their act together:

The ratings agency also noted the political impetus to implement an effective resolution plan may only emerge after a series of shocks, which may lead to more countries losing access to market funding and requiring a support programme.

”This would very likely cause those countries’ ratings to be moved into speculative grade in view of the solvency tests that would likely be required and the burden-sharing that might be imposed if (as is likely) support were to be needed for a sustained period.”

Needless to say Moody’s has recommendations… oh yes.

Moody’s said the euro area is approaching a junction, leading to either closer integration or greater fragmentation.

The likelihood of even more negative scenarios has arisen in recent weeks, Moody’s noted, reflecting political uncertainties in Greece and Italy and a worsening of the region’s economic outlook, among other factors.

”The probability of multiple defaults by euro area countries is no longer negligible. In Moody’s view, the longer the liquidity crisis continues, the more rapidly the probability of defaults will continue to rise,” it said.

And this would mean the following:

Such defaults would increase the chances that one or more members of the bloc would leave the euro area.

”Moody’s believes that any multiple-exit scenario – in other words, a fragmentation of the euro – would have negative repercussions for the credit standing of all euro area and EU sovereigns.”

In the absence of major policy initiatives in the near future that stabilise credit market conditions, or markets stabilising for any other reason, “the point is likely to be reached where the overall architecture of Moody’s ratings within the euro area, and possibly elsewhere, within the EU, will need to be revisited.”

So, now we have Moody’s and noises off from the Germans both talking fairly openly about a contraction of the Eurozone. And again, are we left on the inside or the outside?

Left Archive: Spartacist Ireland: Spring/Summer 2002, No.1, Spartacist Group Ireland November 28, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Spartacist Group Ireland.

To download the above file please click on the following link: Spartacist Irlgo

For this donation to the Archive many thanks to Alan Mac Simoin [and good to mention again too the excellent WSM Archive taking shape here].

One of the smallest, yet particularly well known, presences on the further left are the Spartacists. At marches, protests and other events across the decades they have been ubiquitous. Their roots are of considerable interest too. As noted on this useful wiki overview of their international history they are the result of a split from the US Socialist Workers Party in the 1960s. During that period and after they remained small and it appears that it was only in the late 1970s and 1980s that they began to see like minded groups develop internationally. With this expansion, at least in geographic terms, came a split which ultimately resulted in the International Bolshevik Tendency. It is difficult to make an assessment of their current size.

Equally usefully the preamble to this document outlines the development of the Spartacists in Ireland and the rationale behind the publication of Spartacist Ireland.

We are proud to announce the publication of the first issue of Spartacist Ireland, newspaper of the Spartacist Group Ireland (SGI) – formerly the Dublin Spartacist Group – Irish section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). As stated in our international “Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program” (Spartacist no 54, Spring 1988), the ICL “Is a proletarian, revolutionary and international tendency which is committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international whose purpose is to lead the working class to victory through socialist revolutions throughout the world”.

The establishment of this journal is a modest but real step in the consolidation and construction of an Irish section of the ICL. As VI Lenin explained in Where To Begin (May 1901), the intervention of the revolutionary party is necessary to make the working class conscious of its historic task to overthrow capitalism. Lenin underscored the importance of a newspaper in building such a party.


The banner of the ICL was first planted in Ireland in Autumn 1990 with the founding of the Dublin Spartacist Youth Group (DSYG). Key to the founding of the DSYG was the invention of the ICL into the nascent political revolution which unfolded in the East German deformed workers state in 1989-90. We fought for unconditional military defence of the DDR and for a red Germany of workers councils, for revolutionary reunification through proletarian political revolution in the East and for socialist revolution in the West to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

Today we uphold the Trostkyist programme of unconditional military defence of the remaining deformed workers states: China, North Korea, Cuba and Vietnam. We stand for proletarian political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracies whose policies of conciliating imperialism threaten the gains of the social revolutions in these countries – the collectivised economy, central planning and monopoly of foreign trade.

In relation to events closer to Ireland it strongly argues against the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and proposes that:

During that [Afghanistan] war we raised the demand for class struggle at home and called on the working class to defend Afghanistan. Irish/UN Troops out of the Near East, Balkans and East Timor.

Against Labourite chauvinism and Green nationalism the SGI is committed to raising the banner of proletarian internationalism, not least in the context of Norther Ireland. As stated in the ICL’s 1977 ‘Theses on Ireland’ (reprinted in Ireland:workers to power!, 1991) the key components of a revolutionary working-class perspective include: For the immediate and unconditional withdrawal fo the British Army! Full democratic rights for the oppressed Catholic minority in Northern Ireland! Not Orange against Green, but class against class! No forcible reunification! For an Irish workers republic in a voluntary federation of workers republics in the British Isles!

Much of the document is taken up with the Spartacist positions on Ireland and the conflict in Ireland. It notes:

Our comrades [on a visit to Belfast] called for the withdrawal of the British Army; one construction worker replied ‘They should all get out, what we need is a workers army!’ We explained our perspective of programmatically based workers militias to combat Loyalist thuggery and all sectarian terror. We also argued that a just solution will only come about through workers revolution throughout Ireland and Britain.

It also notes:

The 11 September attack on the WTC was a gift to Tony Blair in several ways, not least that the IRA announced on 23 October that they had begun to decommission their weapons. The Britishh government claims to be waging a ‘war against terroris’ in the interests of democracy the ‘civilised world’ against religious fanatics. Terroris anyone? How about the terrorism of the British state, such as the massive bombing of Afghanistan, and before this Serbia, in which this bloodthirsty Labour government took centre stage? … As for religious zealots, there are very few Muslims in NI but British rule there rests on collaboration with a gang of crazed fundamentalist Protestant bigots.

It argues that in 2002:

The Catholics are an oppressed minority living under permanent siege. The plight of working-class Catholic families hit international headlines last summer as school-girls in Ardoyne, North Belfast trying to walk to Holy Cross school with their parents were shown daily on television confronting a Loyalist mob howling vile anti-Catholic and anti-woman slurs and throwing pipebombs, bags of excrement and balloons filled with urine. The British Army and RUC – now renamed the Police Service of Northern Ireland – lined the streets and tried to look as if they were making an honest effort to ‘keep the peace’… Catholics know they have as much to fear from the police and army as they do from the Loyalist death squads.

However, it continues:

We oppose the perspective of a capitalist ‘united Ireland’ proffered by Sinn Féin nationalists, a prospect which is used to heighten genuine fears among Protestants of a reversal of the terms of oppression. Fear of being incorporated into the clericalist state serves to compact Protestants behind the Loyalist bigots, precluding a polarisation along class lines and instead laying the basis for a communal blood-bat and forced population transfers.

The fact that the bourgeois state in the South is a Catholic clericalist state is grist to the mill of the Loyalist bigots. The struggle for separation of church and state and for free abortion on demand is key not only for social progression in the South but as a way to undermine communalism in the North. SF shares the clerical-nationalist outlook of FF.

And suggests:

We fight for an Irish workers republic, part of a voluntary federation of workers republics in the British Isles.

The rest of the contents are broad ranging, including amongst other pieces an essay on the racist murder of a Chinese student in Beaumont, the issue of abortion [which includes some very harsh critiques of groups as various as the SWP and the WSM], the then situation in Palestine/Israel and an overview of the charging of anti-privatisation protesters in October 2001 entitled: “Irish clericalist state’s “war on terrorism” targets left, workers and all fighters against capitalist oppression”.

Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week November 27, 2011

Posted by Garibaldy in Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week.

Before we get to the stupid statements, just to note this laughable effort. Back at mere stupidity, today is an anti-public sector day. Thus Daniel McConnell offers us this.

However, it is very easy to argue with the continued adherence to the illogical and grossly unfair Croke Park agreement, which guarantees that one of the most sheltered sectors in society remains insulated from the worst effects of Ireland’s economic firestorm.

Did I miss the part where public sector workers have not had large cuts made in their pay? Did I also miss the part where the heroes of capitalism in Ireland were bailed out by the state that they claim should stay out of the market? Or do I simply not live in a world created in the mind of Milton Friedman and bearing no relation to reality?

Marc Coleman provides us with a new understanding of the role of class, wealth and power within society.

There are two narratives about which “side” to take; the “haves” versus “have nots” and “public” versus “private”. But if you ask me, the “haves” are not those with money, but those with power.

Maybe that should have been a new misunderstanding of the role of class, wealth and power within society.

Brendan O’Connor has identified a different problem.

And that is why this story tells us everything we need to know about this Government. Suddenly we understand why old people will be booted out of their homes, why special needs children won’t be allowed to go to school, why hospitals will be shut down, why everything will be sacrificed before they will touch a hair on the head of the public sector pay. It’s ideology, stupid.

It is indeed ideology Brendan. Just not the one you think it is. It’s the one you share, not the one you despise.

More on Europe. November 26, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, Irish Politics.

Scariest moment for me this week – bar none? Talking to a close friend whose professional expertise in matters international is more than credible than most and who found the actions of the last three weeks by Germany and France stunning. Granted, they threw in the caveat about the issue being a ‘eurozone’ one rather than an EU, but noted how thin that was and how the institutions of the European Union have effectively been bypassed and how this has led to government change in two EU states – Greece and Italy.

And it is stunning. It is something that even a year ago, even six months ago, would have been incredible. It represents a rupture with both the spirit and letter of what the EU is meant to represent. It is a devolution to two states of effective power in the EU, with all others, including the UK, positioning in orbits of decreasing proximity and therefore influence. Guess where Ireland is, probably by this schema somewhere out beyond Pluto – no longer even a planet – in the Kuiper Belt in the halo of comets.

But it continues apace. Read Arthur Beesley in the Irish Times today and this rupture is still extant. Germany and France attempt to come to some sort of agreement, albeit Germany is in the stronger position. Note that:

EU leaders are due in Brussels for a summit in a fortnight. As market turmoil intensifies, they are under pressure to deliver yet another “big bang”.

But the real action is…

…a meeting in Strasbourg between German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Italy’s newly installed technocratic prime minister Mario Monti [which] served up some vital clues.
The first was Sarkozy’s abrupt retreat from his drive to radically expand the mandate of the European Central Bank. Dr Merkel simply brushed this off, leaving her closest ally with nothing to show for an intensive diplomatic push to give the ECB a new role. The chancellor wants no truck with anything which would see the central bank print money to hand to errant euro zone governments. Sarkozy backed down.

What’s so amazing is how no one apparently gives a toss about this. Germany and France vault into attempting to control this process and EU leaders are happy to wait two weeks?
But there’s worse, at least from an Irish and EU perspective. The Franco-German comfy little coup necessitates the breath of some form of democratic legitimation. So… in order that the
moves are now under way in Europe to toughen the enforcement of the EU’s long neglected budgetary rules…
… actually are implemented…There is…

…the increasing possibility that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have to fight a European referendum at a time when onerous austerity policies linked to the EU-IMF bailout are biting hard. If that sounds like an impossible mission, Mr Kenny may not have choice in the matter.

Note the latter point about no choice, and ponder the democratic deficit in that statement and then note the political insanity of asking the Irish people to vote yes to such measures at such a point. Which means that – in order to push such a referendum forward it will have to be couched in existential terms – In or Out. Nice.

But it’s not just Ireland which presents a problem…

Mr Van Rompuy is wary of prompting British claims for a repatriation of powers from Brussels if the treaty is reopened. Therefore, he is working to achieve maximum flexibility within the law as its stands.

And looking at all this to me there’s a real sense that Merkel et al have almost no feel for the realities on the ground. Perhaps to them they’re irrelevant. Perhaps they’re playing a longer game with an EU that is sans the UK, sans Greece and perhaps sans others in the periphery. Or perhaps they simply don’t have a clue what to do and it’s a case of trying whatever comes to mind.

Whatever, there’s no sense of a strategy, no sense of an European union but rather of two or three or four countries [at best] taking a leading role very much to save themselves and after that let events fall as they will.

And all this is political. The ‘increased scrutiny of national budgets [which] can be expected to be pretty severe’ will be profoundly political – and yet we are unlikely to see German levels of state provision anytime soon. If ever.

What’s most telling is how imperfect, how flawed the EU and the single currency have actually been. I’ve said it before, the latter was not fit for purpose, the former ever more evidently unable to operate under the stresses and strains of a genuine crisis.

And now we face the prospect of a referendum. Good luck with that.

DCTU – MARCH AGAINST AUSTERITY – 26th November November 26, 2011

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

Leaflet can be downloaded DCTU Pre Budget Demonstration 26 Nov 2011 Leaflet 3

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Slowest Clock November 26, 2011

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

Dublin based and formed in early 1986, I saw The Slowest Clock live a few times before they broke up in 1990. In their time they issued a number of singles and EPs and in 1994 an album “Still Life” was released posthumously …..
I got to know one of the band when I was working nights in a garage. Rather than listen to the radio I’d have all sorts of tapes playing as I went through my nights activities. Sort and head the papers, Mop the floor , yap to the odd Garda or Taxi driver and hope the lorry with the papers on its way to the country would stop for his bar of chocolate and bottle of lucozade and I’d get my complimentary copy of the Irish Press.
I think it was listening to Toasted Heretic that got the conversation moved from the normal stuff and led to a friendship going for jars and a couple of jamming sessions in his house. Time moved on and we both moved out of Dublin ….

There’s a short piece on Dublin Opinion about them Here

The Fanning Sessions has some of their material Here

And theres a bio on the IrishRock.org Here

As often is the case with bands from this era, my favourite songs from them aren’t up on youtube. “Cherie” and “You Never See Me”. Still the tunes below are still pretty good.

At the end of this clip a Young Derek Mooney is the presenter….

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