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This Weekend I’ll Also be Listening to…Songs of Freedom from the James Connolly Songs of Freedom Band September 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Given that we’re listening to Patti Smith today it seems only appropriate to consider some more politically inflected music. Here is a very positive endeavour, a CD and reprint of the James Connolly Songbook. They’re going on sale at €10 for the book and €12 for the CD and I’ve been given a copy of both and I have to admit they’re great. The book is produced by PM Books in Oakland, a publisher that seeks to ‘create radical fiction and non-fiction books’ to ‘deliver political and challenging ideas to all walks of life’.

They’ve succeeded brilliantly in the book which is a facsimile reproduction, right down to advertising, of the original 1907 New York printing, and in addition to that a 1919 Connolly Souvenir program, for a concert that commemorated the birth of Connolly. There’s also a preface by Theo Dorgan, a Foreword by James Connolly Heron and an Introduction by editor Mat Callahan (for an overview of his interesting career see here).

In a way this sort of approach, one which engages with the material conditions of life that would have been experienced by workers at that time is one which aligns with the intention of the Left Archive, the idea that it’s not just the text that is important, but also the physicality of a document, the way it is produced, the images used, the advertising – if any, that builds up into a coherent picture of what it was like to read it for the first time.

Even better again the accompanying CD has a wide range of songs, as the sleeve notes say, nine with lyrics written by Connolly, three written about him and “The Red Flag”.

As Connolly himself wrote in 1907:

“Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singling of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement; it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude”.

There is a launch in Cork on 2 October in the City Library at 6.30PM, but more on that on Monday, and here’s a sample from the album (and many thanks to them for providing this).

Here too is a review from the September issue of SIPTU’s Liberty (and by the way, great credit is due to Jim Lane and others for working tirelessly to support this project).

Liberty Review0001

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Patti Smith, Twelve. September 28, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

I was going to do a piece on Trampin’ which is a great – relatively, all the way back in 2004 – recent album from Patti Smith, but then it struck me that one aspect of Smith that I’ve always loved has been her willingness to reference her influences, filter them – as it were, through her very individual voice, losing nothing but adding something extra. It’s an ability she has to inhabit those influences, shape them to her vision, make them her own. The best example of this, in a career where she was never shy to play covers is here unusual selection from the mid 2000s, on the album, Twelve, which has – erm… thirteen covers.

They range from The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Neil Young, Tears for Fears, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder through to REM. But perhaps the most audacious cover is a reworking of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Here she eschews percussion for reverberating waves of acoustic guitars and banjos underpinned by a none-more bass bassline. The overall effect is remarkable. Rootsy, almost verging on country and not least when her voice arrives, which oddly has some of the rasp of Cobain – perhaps even more of a rasp. But in this reading it is the words that vie with the music for pre-eminence. They’re crystal clear.

She brings her own lyrics to the feast, but somehow whether you find meaning in them or not in them they seem to work. She’s always been great at declaiming in an almost religious or ritualistic way, and it works. ‘Stoned out of their shaved heads’… indeed.

That may sound like a peak, and it is, but so is the version of “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, which recasts the song as not so much as spiky psychedelia as wig-out space rock, even perhaps shoe gaze. The guitars howl against her half spoken words and suddenly it’s 1970 again.

The Stone’s “Gimme Shelter” is a song more sinned against than sinning at this stage, so good in the original that that which has come after has sometimes served to obscure its excellence (though I’ve never much liked the Stone’s to be honest). But this is a great cover, dispensing with none of its riffy authenticity while adding the sheer power of Smith’s voice.

The Doors, natch. For years I wouldn’t listen to them having loved them in my teens. It took three decades for me to realise that cut through the bullshit around them, that awful energy sapping mythos, and they were as good as they were (though nothing will convince me as regards Pink Floyd, bar “Wish You Were Here”). Smith clearly never forgot and her version of “Soul Kitchen” is perfect, playful, from her spoken ‘tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick’ just before she sings ‘well the clock says it’s time to go…’

Smith is a contentious character for some – though in her own way deeply political (as on the Trampin’ album which amongst other things is explicitly anti-Iraq War), but I’ve always thought her actually pretty grounded whatever her preoccupations and however far she seems to wonder conceptually. It perhaps has something to do with the fact that she writes and recognises great rock songs. “Stride of the Mind” from Trampin’ has a killer riff, the sort that those unbeholden to metal sometimes seem to deliver with greater ease than might be expected.

But as for Twelve, you won’t find a more interesting and in a way more challenging sequence of songs to cover. A great album.

I throw in “Stride of the Mind” and “Peaceable Kindgom” from Trampin’ for the sake of compare and contrast.

And entirely gratuitous Church reference, seeing as almost every This Weekend post these days appears to have to have one – Jay Dee Daugherty, Smith’s long time drummer played with the Church in the early 1990s for a couple of years.

White Rabbit

Smells like Teen Spirit

Gimme Shelter

Gimme Shelter (Live)

Are You Experienced?

Pastime Paradise

Soul Kitchen

Peaceable Kingdom (from Trampin’) about Rachel Corrie

Stride of the Mind from Trampin’

Flying high again… and union recognition September 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, The Left.

Reading the story in the Irish Times about Ryanair’s byzantine employment contracts, one is left with only one conclusion. But I’ll come to that in a moment. As to the contracts themselves…

Brookfield Aviation plays a central role in a contract arrangement that a London judge recently described as “not straightforward”.
The system owes its nature to tax law, and the large cases division of the Irish Revenue was consulted at the time it was being devised, according to Liam McNamara, of McNamara & Associates.
“It was known to the Revenue and done with their blessing,” says McNamara, who says his firm is no longer involved in supplying service companies for Ryanair pilots.
One of the key attractions of the system for Ryanair is that it shields it from the obligations created by employment law.

How does this work?

Pilots (are) engaged though English company, Brookfield Aviation International Ltd.

But, pilots aren’t employees of either Ryanair or Brookfield!

A copy of a standard Brookfield contract seen by The Irish Times includes a clause where the signing pilot agrees that he or she is not an employee of Ryanair or Brookfield, and will not at any time be deemed to be an employee.

And it’s even more at arms length than that:

In order to fly for Ryanair, Van Boekel (a ‘Ryanair’ pilot) was asked by Brookfield to choose one firm of accountants from a list of approved Irish accountants and to use a service company provided by the firm he selected for his work with Ryanair.
This arrangement is part of a system that involves pilots being made directors and shareholders in service companies. The affairs of these companies are managed for the pilots by the selected Irish accountancy firm. A number of pilots might be director/ shareholders of the same service company.

Which means that:

The service companies are Irish-registered companies and the pilots are employees of the companies for Irish tax purposes. The service companies have contracts with Brookfield under which their pilots provide services to Ryanair.

And it gets worse, if possible:

All tax and social security payments arising from the pilots’ work for Ryanair are the responsibility of the Irish-registered services companies. If the pilots were engaged by Brookfield or Ryanair on a freelance or sole trader basis, they could be entitled to certain employee rights given that they had only one customer. This is not thought to be the case when they are engaged through the service companies.


[The contract] also stipulates that Brookfield is not an agent of Ryanair and has no power to bind Ryanair in any matter and that, while Brookfield will endeavour to locate work for the pilot, there is no obligation on it to do so.
It also stipulates that the contract can be terminated with the pilot if he or she publishes derogatory statements in writing or on the internet, in public or private chatrooms, about Brookfield or Ryanair.

There’s one main point to all this. The almost crazed complexity of RyanAir’s employment process is directed to one end and one end only, to prevent employees, in this instance pilots, from organising.

What does that suggest? That the key threat, as perceived by RyanAir, is organised employees. That certainly puts all the talk of employee’ associations’, and ‘no need for unions’ both in that and other employments in a different light for those who would take an overly optimistic view of such matters.

And it’s a lesson for all of us who are pushing day in day out for union recognition and expansion of membership. Employers don’t want unions because unions offer employees rights. It’s that simple.

And as seen here they’ll go to almost any length to prevent them from having those rights.


By the way, just for a small insight into how those rights are affected… consider the case of the pilot Van Boekel mentioned above…

Garnett acted for Dutch pilot Van Boekel, who flew for Ryanair between 2009 and 2011 and who successfully contested in the English courts a €5,000 claim for damages for breach of contract which Brookfield brought against him after he gave it three months’ notice.

Three months notice was insufficient? Brookfield refused to accept him It is worth noting that both here and in the UK a contract can impose long periods of notice, how long isn’t specified and I’d like to know does anyone know of particularly unreasonable or excessive time periods. This seems to me another area unions should have looked at very closely, for the scope for problems are self-evident.

Generational shifts in politics September 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

In almost all areas of human life there are generational shifts, moments where one set of individuals suddenly leave the stage, replaced by new ones. They’re often unheralded, at least initially, but in retrospect make perfect sense.

I remember seeing Tony Blair on a television panel in the early 1990s and thinking, ‘don’t much like this guy but he’s very fluent’. And so he was, which was perhaps a significant part of the problem. But within a couple of years he was leader of the Labour Party and much of the Kinnock generation, and almost all of those who were a part of its predecessor generation, had gone. And now, Blair is relatively long gone, the Blair/Brown generation, and many of those who were a little younger and associated with it have gone, and we see the next tranche edging – perhaps – towards state power, though on current polling it will be quite an ask for the LP to win an election without the need to participate in a coalition government.
Similarly with Clegg and Cameron, though in that instance there was a real sniff of this being the Tories and the Liberal Democrats playing catch-up with Labour and Blair, albeit long after the fact. That Clegg could clearly sit quite comfortably in the Tory party tells us nothing many of us didn’t know before about the LD’s. That his party is not less comfortable than it clearly is with this situation is interesting but no great revelation. That neither of them are that concerned about their date with electoral destiny is perhaps most interesting of all.

And, quite naturally, this operates here. I’ve been reminded recently how some parties left of Labour have leaderships that have been around a while. A very very long while indeed, and it will be educative to see how they weather what are inevitable generational shifts. Some that seemed well positioned to bridge that gap appear less so today than two years ago. Others steam ahead in the clear knowledge that their leaderships will be substantially different within the decade.

But all this musing is brought on by an interesting Backroom column in the Business Post which while ostensibly tackling the issue of the Seanad points up some home truths to a variety of characters who currently inhabit, or should that be infest, our body politic.
Look at the current Seanad referendum campaign. So far, neither side has managed to ignite public debate on what could be the biggest single change ever to our Constitution. The one thing they have done, however, is to breathe new life into the capacity of some former politicians.

And it notes that:

One of the more interesting aspects of the return of the superannuated six is just how anodyne and colourless their modern-day counterparts seem in contrast.
It is hard not to admire the apparent certainty or gruff candour of an O’Malley or a McManus, especially when compared to the newspeak of some of the latest political intake. But here, in Backroom’s humble opinion, lies the problem.
These big beasts were themselves once neophytes. Their ascension to political prominence was heralded by the departures – as often forced as voluntary – of those who went before them.

And, perhaps cruelly, it continues:

Others had to clear the stage for them to grasp the limelight, and so it is true of them.
Yes, it is great to watch McDowell fulminate in debate, but his day has passed. The voters spoke, and should be heeded. His end was not pretty but, as Enoch Powell remarked: “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.”
It is now the turn of others to make both their own mark and their own mistakes. Today’s crop of new politicians may seem more prissy and manufactured, reluctant to take a position that has not been focus-grouped in advance, but that will only change by exposing them to the harsh realities of political life.

It is something that I think hasn’t been factored into all the talk of new right wing parties, the simple fact that those who most earnestly propose them are themselves very very familiar characters on the Irish political horizon, overly so many of us would argue. And they are of a generation that is now moving on. It seems unfair, to some extent, does it not, that Michael McDowell is a mere stripling of 62, while Enda Kenny is of like age. But it isn’t their ages, indeed in some ways it’s not about age at all. Kenny’s profile, for better or worse, was pretty low until the early 2000s (indeed this no doubt accounts for some of the ire directed his way by some of the more ambitious figures in FG), whereas McDowell seems like an hardy perennial. But that works against McDowell because he’s been round the block, and round it again, and again, since the 1980s. Gerry Adams pulled a neat trick by shifting the context around him when he came South to the Dáil, and I still find it fascinating to see him in the chamber, it’s an almost unbelievable sight given the history of the past fifty odd years, but while it clearly doesn’t work for everyone he was perhaps a distant enough figure from the Southern polity to pull it off at least for this Dáil term. But already there are the discussions about what comes next for SF, and so on. Micheál Martin is a different issue again. But again here the problem is not age, the man is in his early 50s, practically a youngster in political terms, it’s again political longevity, and the fact he was a member of Cabinet in what are now retrospectively reviled governments. Not sure how he can deal with that, even if he was by far one of the most emollient characters in those governments. And with Labour there’s the real sense that the current leadership, at its highest reaches, is firmly pointed towards the political exit. Again it’s odd that given that Eamon Gilmore is still in his 50s. But that’s something about ambience. He doesn’t look like a man with any remaining appetite.

Backroom makes an interesting point:

In defence of the Seanad, their re-emergence is as much due to their being dragooned back into service as it is about them wanting once again to bask in the spotlight, though it is hard to imagine any of them took much convincing.

You bet. Relevance is all.

East Wall Merchants Road Eviction Commemoration video of photos September 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in 1913, Irish History, The Left.
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Photos from Merchants Road eviction commemoration from the weekend before last, played out to “The Day they set Jim Larkin Free” by Black 47 , lyrics as included on mural top panel. Thanks to JM for sending it along.

The CLR Political Quiz ….. Number 50 September 27, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in CLR Political Quiz.

1. Who was the last person to be Taoiseach when the county (or part of) he represented won an All Ireland Senior Football title?
2. Who was the last person to be Taoiseach when the county (or part of) he represented won an All Ireland Senior Hurling title?
3. In The European Parliament, which Irish party belonged to The ‘European Progressive Democrats’ ?
4. Who was the last TD to wear a wig/ Toupee ?
5. What year was Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin first elected to Monaghan County Council?
6. Who said this week that “The supply of teachers is not just for the national market.”
7. Which of the following has never served in the Seanad, Colm O’Gorman, PJ Mara or Barry Desmond ?
8. What former Party leader sang ‘The Garden Song’ ?
9. Who was the last Sinn Fein Councillor to be elected in Kildare?
10. Who is this?

Answers to The CLR Political Quiz ……. Number 49
1. Seán Flanagan
2. John O’Leary for FF in 2007
3. Paddy Lane
4. Sinn Féin in its Éire Nua phase
5. Joe Hill
6. 3
7. Fine Gael
8. Pearse Doherty (Glasgow) and Padraig MacLochlainn (Leeds)
9. Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party
10. Jimmy Deenihan

This Week At Irish Election Literature September 27, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog.
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Well The Pro Life Campaign are back on the road and planning to build a grassroots network to have the abortion bill repealed…. and they are looking for money for it too.

Then from the mid 70’s we have a leaflet ‘Sinn Fein -For A New Ireland’

Then considering the amount of Emigration this handy booklet “Travel Safely -A guide for people travelling abroad” from Fine Gael Senator Maurice Cummins might be considered a bit crass

and finally a few pages from the Ogra Fianna Fail ‘Songbook of The Rearguard’ which includes The Ballad of James Larkin amongst other tunes

and an addition of a leaflet that I’ve been contacted about with regards to removing the label of one of the parties involved

Meanwhile, back in the North… September 26, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.
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Interesting piece in the current Phoenix on the Gilmore comments on the ‘perception that Irish governments had not done enough to defeat the IRA during the Troubles.’ As the Phoenix notes, this was singularly inept as an effort to ‘curry favour with northern unionists’, and as noted here earlier today, he [rightly] hedged his comments with so many qualifications as to the supposed culpability of said Irish governments that any serious analysis would hardly have left them satisfied. And as to the substance of his remarks, as the Phoenix also notes ‘all parties in the South ignored them’, which displays good sense on their part. When we’re into the realm of those sort of ‘perceptions’ we’re in deep trouble in terms of serious politics.

But be that as it may, another point that was made in the piece is pretty disturbing, well two other points. One is that Gilmore might have been using this tack to get back at an SF which is now poaching councillors from the LP and ‘basking in polling percentages twice his own’ and therefore add to that a dynamic that ‘the war is over and the bad guys won’ he is all too happy to ‘resurrect the ancient Stickie-Provo feud by trying to co-opt unionists to help him embarrass SF’. One can only hope that that analysis is incorrect, and not just because the issue is so toothless, and very clearly so in the way he made the comments. It’s probable that any negative effects are likely to come back to haunt him rather than SF.

But what of this?

‘Unfortunately, Gilmore’s antipathy towards SF means he has zero relations with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, which is bad for north-south cooperation and is one of the main reasons the Irish government has disengaged form the North during a particularly fraught period.’

If accurate that suggests an attitude towards the broader dispensation that is dangerously adrift of the realities on the ground. The very last thing Northern Ireland requires is any diminution of interest from Dublin. I’d go so far as to say that that would open up the potential for a critical breach in the dispensation. And the flags protests of earlier this year demonstrated how instability can feed back into the mix in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. According to the Phoenix at the recent Richard Haas led talks with the Stormont executive about various issues including those protests there was no Irish government participation, the first time since 1985 that that has been the case. It’s perhaps a sign of the complacency of this polity in relation to matters in the North that more has not been made of that.

By the way, one other thing from the Phoenix which sent me back to the main text of his speech. I’d missed this invite from Gilmore. :

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he hoped to host representatives of the royal family and the British Government, along with the leaders of unionism, at commemorations for the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.

This should be interesting.

The past and the present… September 26, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.

It’s interesting to reflect on Henry Patterson’s article on foot of Eamon Gilmore’s not quite, caveat laden, comments about the Irish state and the effort to ‘defeat’ the IRA. So many caveats in fact that any serious analysis of the text would suggest that he was acknowledging no real culpability on the part of the Irish state and effectively suggesting it was a matter of a problem of perception on the part of Unionism. Not that that is how the message has been received elsewhere. But the responses are fascinating.

Patterson’s can be summed up by the following quote:

Successive governments faced a dilemma. By co-operating with the RUC and British army against republicans, there was a risk of reigniting latent republican sentiment in a State with a nationalist ethos at its core.

This appears to be significantly lacking context. It is as if Northern Ireland was entirely uncontentious in and of itself, that the RUC and UDR were entirely uncontentious, and that such co-operation was entirely reasonable and that the only reason for problems would be on the part of those within the RoI who harboured some ‘latent republican sentiment’.

During the 1980s I thought that incredible in the face of evidence of widespread problems in the administration of justice and so on. In retrospect knowing what we do about the various levels of collusion it is remarkable that anyone would now seriously advance such a case.

There is also the inconvenient reality that the British government eventually disbanded the RUC and the UDR was amalgamated with the RIR. Disbanding a police and restarting it – even if there were continuities between the two – suggests an endemic problem with said force, and that is only partially indicative of just how for too many in the North the RUC was not and never could be a policing force that would come close to being acceptable, or even tolerable, for a significant number of people (just as an indication of this I recall being at a WP Ard Fheis in the 1980s where there was some emollient words about policing in Northern Ireland. One acquaintance, who would have been as far as I could judge deeply anti-PIRA, muttered at me something along the lines of ‘that’s good for the optics, but it’s a different matter on the ground’). If not the security forces then what of the state more broadly?

And this is underlined by a comment under the recent piece by John-Paul McCarthy in the Sunday Independent on the same topic. Even if we are willing to put aside those caveats, what more could the South have done given the fact that the structure of laws implemented in both North and South, right up to Diplock Courts and Supergrass trials were ineffective?

It strains credulity to believe that any measure or package of measures by the RoI would have been sufficient to seriously impact upon the IRA and the comparisons with the very limited scale of the Border Campaign are telling for their lack of applicability.

Simply put the situations in the late 1950s and the 1970s through to the 1990s were so radically different from one another, represented such a shift in the support for armed struggle, whether that support was passive or active, and indicated a rupture between significant portions of the Nationalist and Republican communities and the British state that no security approaches could possibly repair. That suggested an history that was overwhelmingly driven by dynamics extant within Northern Ireland and where the issue of the South was marginal.

And that merely points up a basic truth, that this was a political issue masked – and by almost all players within the mix at some point or another, in the military/paramilitary. Its only solution was political, that being to bring as many both in support and opposition politically to the then extant dispensation into a new one.

But there’s another issue too, and it points to a paradox. Unionism was never quite as comfortable, as it now portrays itself, with the idea of close co-operation between Dublin and London. Quite the opposite. For such co-operation contained within it the potential for approaches quite at odds with its own interests. What seems to have been sought was a sort of fortified border, quite beyond the ability of this state to deliver or police, with no political ramifications. But that was, in and of itself, utterly impossible – even given the obvious issues raised by a nationalist/republican population within the North. For such co-operation would by dint of necessity draw the two governments closer together. And one could argue that in some respects, albeit it went in a completely different direction, that was true of some of the 1980s where the governments did establish better relations and co-operation, and this fed into the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which again was anathema to Unionism. Now, as has been noted here previously, the AIA was essentially something of a cul-de-sac and largely unrelated to the later Peace Process, albeit I would argue it did break the crucial barrier of complete British sovereignty in Northern Ireland, something that was essential for any serious future progress. But it points to the potential for, ultimately perhaps, a non-Peace Process dispensation based on something approaching joint authority.

Patterson argues in conclusion that:

The role of the Irish State during the Troubles is more than an idée fixe of unionists, it is a question of major historical importance with a central bearing on any process of dealing with the past. While the Saville Tribunal’s inquiry into Bloody Sunday cannot act as a template for any broader mechanism for dealing with the past, it did demonstrate the immense value of a state making the vast majority of its records open for scrutiny.
To build on Eamon Gilmore’s speech, the Irish Government should consider opening the State archives on these contentious issues in as comprehensive a manner as Saville. This would not end the battle over history in Northern Ireland but it would at least cut down on the amount of permissible lies about the past.

In one way that’s fair enough. In another it seems deeply problematic given the lack of progress on other issues. It certainly would fit into a broader examination of the roots and processes and outcomes of the conflict, but whether that sort of exercise will be engaged with seems highly unlikely. And it reminds me of something I once put to a then WP TD, suggesting that an history of the Irish left would be no bad thing. The response was near incredulous, ‘why would you want to do that?’. Yep. One suspects that is the real attitude towards a comprehensive examination of the past.

Why would any of the players want to do that?

This by An Sionnach Fionn tackles many of the issues outlined above from a slightly different angle.

A contradiction at the heart of the Yes campaign… and yet… September 26, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

Richard Humphrey’s writes in the SBP about the Seanad. He’s against retention, and there’s something in many of the arguments he makes, no question about it. But there’s an odd contradiction, or near-contradiction in his piece when he writes:

The Bill does nothing to change the impotence and almost complete lack of power enjoyed by the Seanad. There is no power grab involved in a yes vote because the Seanad has no powers to speak of.
The Seanad’s only real constitutional power (which it has not used in half a century) is to delay a money bill by three weeks, or other bills by three months. Anyone taking a fresh look at our system would have to say: big deal. Some watchdog. If I wanted a watchdog, I would get one that barked more than once a half century. It would be no harm either if the dog had a bit of bite as well as just bark, but alas that is not the case.

And yet:

A yes vote to scrap this elitist, irrelevant and expensive members’ club will be a huge step towards real political reform and an equal republic.

Is the Seanad really the stumbling block to political reform, so much so that its removal will usher in an era of ‘real political reform’ and an ‘equal republic’? It seems unlikely, doesn’t it?

And the SBP editorial on the same topic makes precisely the same point:

In a more general sense, the government simultaneously makes the arguments that the Seanad is worthless and that its abolition represents a major reform – surely a contradiction.

And yet, for all that, there’s something about the sheer undemocratic nature of the Seanad as it now is that makes me think best to let it go. Almost none of us can vote for it and if it is retained that situation won’t change. As citizens of a republic that seems to me to be a fundamental stumbling block. The question as to whether it is worth attempting to game the vote one way or another – in terms of causing hassle for the government – is a different matter, but whether that outweighs that democratic deficit…

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