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Left Forum national organising meeting, this Saturday 30th November November 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

A reminder about the Left Forum national organising meeting on Saturday 30th November. We aim to adopt a constitution, elect a national committee and develop a plan of action for the next period.

Please find attached an agenda and a draft constitution. If you would like to nominate yourself for the national committee, or propose an amendment to the draft constitution, please respond to this email address by Wednesday 27th.

The meeting will take place at 11am, 30th November at the LookLeft offices, 24a-25 Hill St, Dublin 1. We hope to see you there.

LF Const_Proposal_19_11_13

Progressive Film Club November 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Film, The Left.
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Just a reminder of our last screening of 2013.

Saturday 30 November
at the New Theatre · 43 East Essex Street · Dublin 2

3 p.m.
Into the Fire: The Hidden Victims of Austerity in Greece (2013) 39mins

In times of austerity things look bleak for the Greek people; but they’re far worse for those who have recently arrived. Without housing, legal papers, or support, migrants in Greece are faced with increasing and often violent racism at the hands of the growing neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and the police. Shot and edited with sensitivity and compassion, Into the Fire doesn’t pull its punches, and makes for harrowing viewing in parts. The film gives an insight into the reality faced by people who simply want to lead peaceful, normal lives, and how they are organising to protect themselves. ¦ Directed by Guy Smallman and Kate Mara. Presented in association with Anti-Fascist Action Ireland.

4 p.m.
The Inquiry (2013) 60mins

A reconstruction of the Askwith Inquiry, which took place during the 1913 Lock-out. It was set up by the British government, supposedly to investigate the origins of the dispute, to resolve the grievances of workers and employers, and to end the strike. William Martin Murphy represented the employers’ side, with Jim Larkin and James Connolly speaking for the workers. The film follows the course of the negotiations and includes Connolly’s famous “Statement of the Workers’ Case.” Askwith reported that the workers had significant grievances, but the employers rejected the inquiry’s recommendations. ¦ Written by Turlough Kelly; directed by Brian Gray. Presented in association with Dublin Community Television.

Christmas idea!!!!!!
Are you looking for a very special Christmas present? Well, we have a framed copy of a Bobby Ballagh print of James Larkin. This is one of a limited print run of a hundred and the price is €400.
All proceeds go the the film club and the picture can be viewed in Connolly Books. If you are interested please email asap. Remember that there are very few of these prints out there.

You can also join us on Facebook

Reviewing collusion November 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish History, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland.

..Here’s a new blog with a most interesting approach to the history of the conflict, not least a review of the new book on collusion by Anne Cadwallader, ‘Lethal Allies’.

To which there is this response:

In a review of Paul Larkin’s A Very British Jihad: Collusion, conspiracy and cover-up in Northern Ireland, Queen’s University academic Adrian Guelke argued that many of the author’s claims regarding allegations of collusion were “open to argument, to put the matter mildly” (Fortnight, May 2004). Indeed, he cites one of the cases highlighted by Larkin – when Guelke himself was shot by the UDA – and states “that my case hardly demonstrates the intimate level of collusion that he wishes to suggest existed among the Loyalists, elements of the security forces and the apartheid regime.” Ultimately, Guelke contends that much of Larkin’s work was made up of “foolish innuendo[es] … about a number of prominent figures in this society”; easily dismissible and easily dismissed.

Anne Cadwallader’s Lethal Allies also takes on the controversial issue of collusion in Ireland; her work isn’t so easily dismissible or dismissed. Still, in a lengthy review of her newly published book, Arkiv claims that but for the inclusion of HET reports, “there would be little to distinguish … [it] from a number of others that have claimed to uncover an over-arching British state policy to use counter-insurgency tactics … to deal with the IRA.” Here Arkiv mention Larkin’s A Very British Jihad. Yet Cadwallader never claims an over-arching British state policy per se. And, in fact, there is much more than HET reports which make this important and controversial work a cut above the rest.

From the onset, Cadwallader is explicit about the origins and remit of the project of which her book is the outcome. It is not – and is not intended as – a scholarly treatise on British state policy on the North, much to Arkiv’s disappointment. Lethal Allies covers nearly 120 different killings which took place mainly (though not exclusively) in what has been dubbed the “murder triangle” in Counties Armagh and Tyrone. These killings took place in the 1970s and Cadwallader convincingly documents how they were carried out by a particular “loyalist gang, and permutations of it, with tacit assistance from members of government forces” (p. 16). She does “not claim that every RUC officer or UDR soldier was collusive, or every loyalist was manipulated, or every judge or British cabinet minister mendacious” (p.16). Nevertheless, it is argued “that enough was known, or should have been known, by sufficient people in places of authority, to prevent many of the murders described” (p. 16).

While HET reports certainly play a major part in corroborating the author’s very serious allegations, so too does over 15 years of meticulous research. Lethal Allies is also based upon official government reports, on hundreds of hours of archival research at Kew, at PRONI, the Newspaper Library in Belfast and dozens of local libraries scattered across this island. It is based on years of back-and-forth correspondence between the Pat Finucane Centre and the PSNI (at various levels), the DPP, the Northern Ireland Courts Service, the Coroner’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General and Lord Chief Justice. It is based on countless meetings and correspondence between Justice for the Forgotten and Justice Barron, the Department of Justice and the Gardai Síochána in the Republic. Numerous interviews were carried out with victims, survivors, whistle-blowers, serving police officers, retired police officers, etc. Moreover, it includes damning ballistic reports which link many a “stolen” weapon to murder after murder after murder.

Arkiv acknowledge that “[t]he issues of collusion raised in the book are indeed profoundly serious ones” but deal very little with these issues (despite the fact that these issues comprise the bulk of Lethal Allies.) And unsurprisingly Arkiv make no reference to the “human side” of these multiple tragedies – the pain, humiliation, harassment, etc. suffered by those who lost their loved ones – this too is an important part of the book. Instead Cadwallader and the Pat Finucane Centre are taken to task for failing to recognize “the massive challenges faced by the security forces and the RUC in particular in the early to mid-1970s.” This is given as one of the main reasons why so many of the murders described may not have been properly investigated (evidence in the book often suggests otherwise.) The HET investigators do “note that applying the standards of contemporary best practice to the chaotic, pressurized and dangerous conditions of the Seventies is anachronistic and unfair” but it is the HET that “in report after report … goes on to criticize successive RUC enquiries” (pp. 260-261). Furthermore, while the author is accused of depicting arrest rates of “loyalist terrorists and rogue security force members [as an] unmitigated failure”, this is only partially true – a section of the book actually documents what happened to some of those arrested, what charges were filed and how the justice system then failed in its duties.

The review points out that “[m]uch is made of the murderous activities of the former member of the UDR Robert Jackson and the allegation that he worked as a hit-man for British Military Intelligence and the RUC.” The allegation is indeed made and it is based on far more than the word of Colin Wallace (perhaps the reviewer missed the whole discussion regarding Jackson and the Miami Showband killings – see pp. 103-108). Still, rather than focus on this allegation, emphasis is placed on the many opportunities the RUC had to arrest Jackson and many of his associates. What is more, it is argued that the evidence to effectively prosecute Jackson did exist – in fact it existed on a number of occasions – and this is pointed out time and time again. Why this did not happen, readers can decide for themselves.

Elsewhere Arkiv claim that Lethal Allies “resurrects the ‘Wilson Plot’ thesis of an MI5 conspiracy to overthrow the Labour Prime Minister”. In nearly 400 pages of text, the thesis is touched on in a matter of two or three sentences – not much of a resurrection. Arkiv also argues that “the logic” of the book results a number of “strange conclusions”. For example, the author’s views on the collusion supposedly lay “blame for the Kingsmill massacre … at the door of the British state” (Cadwallader clearly states that the IRA were responsible for the attack – something which the Republican Movement still refuses to do – and that it was “terrible and inexcusable”) (p. 158). It is even said that “Cadwallader and the PFC claim the IRA’s ‘Long War’ was a product of … British collusion”, yet the IRA’s ‘Long War’ strategy is never discussed in the book. What is said is, however, is that collusion simply prolongs conflict – indeed, “[t]he hard lessons learned in Armagh and Tyrone have a relevance as far away as Afghanistan, Iraq and other modern theatres of war” (pp. 372-373).

* * *

Hours after the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, the then Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave (FG) argued; “Everyone who has practised violence or preached violence or condoned violence must bear a share of responsibility for today’s outrage” (p. 221). The Dublin/Monaghan bombings remain the greatest loss of life in a single day of the Troubles but there was no national day of mourning and no government minister visited the injured or bereaved. The deadly attacks were carried out by UVF personnel (many of who were either former or serving members of the security forces) and serious allegations persist that other British security force members also played a part. Much of this was known in the immediate wake of the bombings yet Cosgrave and other Irish government officials quickly shifted the blame for the bombings onto republicans.

Arkiv regard Lethal Allies as “but the latest manifestation of a one-sided ‘blame the Brits’ syndrome.” As noted above, Arkiv say very little about the 120 murders documented in the book. These brutal killings were carried out by loyalists who were aided and abetted by state forces; oftentimes there was no distinction between the two. The book documents this. The British government was well aware of loyalist infiltration of the UDR and of the frequent arms raids on Army bases in the North. This too is well documented. The “overwhelming majority of those specifically targeted were people who were progressing economically, socially and politically – people with aspirations their parents could only have dreamed of” (p. 363). Only one of the murders covered in this book was of a republican activist. No over-arching British state policy is alleged here, but in each of these cases blame is “laid at the door of the British state” and rightly so. Would Arkiv rather shift the blame?

– Dr. F. Stuart Ross
Activist, academic and PFC board member

Note: Arkiv’s review ends by accusing Cadwallader of “ungenerously rubbish[ing] the HET’s role in dealing with the past” – not true. Until very recently, the Pat Finucane Centre has critically engaged with the HET on behalf of families since it started reviewing cases in 2006. As the book notes, however, “many families have been bitterly disappointed by HET Reports” and the Centre has always maintained that this avenue is a deeply flawed and imperfect way for families to begin to learn the truth regarding the death of a loved-one during the Troubles (p. 17). Nevertheless, Cadwallader has very openly and publicly praised the “small team of very diligent officers of huge integrity and courage” who investigated many of the Glennane gang killings”.

What you want to say… Open Thread, 27th of November, 2013 November 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

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

Seeing as we were talking about pay ratios… November 26, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, US Politics.

…in the wake of the failed Swiss referendum to introduce a statutory cap on CEO pay, this from Bloomberg outlining US pay ratios is instructive in pointing to how bad things can get.

This too is important:

Most companies don’t disclose median worker pay, so Bloomberg calculated ratios based on the U.S. government’s industry-specific averages for pay and benefits of rank-and-file workers.

Let’s also note how there’s almost a taboo on discussing one’s level of pay with others in a workplace (I’ve heard of workplaces where it’s actually forbidden). A situation which is highly convenient for employers. To put it mildly.

And let’s consider how:

…almost three years since Congress directed the Securities and Exchange Commission to require public companies to disclose the ratio of their chief executive officers’ compensation to the median of the rest of their employees’. The agency has yet to produce a rule.

BTW, the above chart doesn’t give a full outline of executive remuneration IIRC. For example, consider this in relation to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.

Meanwhile, more on that latest RedC/SBP poll… November 26, 2013

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

In his analysis this weekend in the SBP, Richard Colwell doesn’t mention a term that JRG pointed to in comments in relation to the most recent RedC poll, but he really should, and that is margin of error. For the latest poll remains within the margin of error entirely – and that margin of error – as RedC is in fairness itself quite open about – is “just + or -3% at 95% confidence level“

FG: 29% (NC), Labour: 12% (+3%), Fianna Fail: 22% (-1%), Sinn Fein: 15% (-2%), Independents 22% (NC)

Colwell’s argument is that ‘positive news and better economic conditions, there is evidence that the Labour party can entice lost voters back to support it.’ But does that hold up? Firstly this poll appears to be an outlier. Secondly the ‘exit’ was painted as a game changer, but of course the exit can only happen once, and as was noted last week by Pat Leahy in the same pages, from here on out the government has to ‘own’ the decision taken.

And most problematically, if this does spell a renaissance in the fortunes of the government, why has it not been reflected in the ratings of the one party that one would expect would do well, that being Fine Gael. Where is the bounce for them, and if there is no bounce after this news then why is any expected in the future?

So let’s be clear, all this hypothesising by Colwell is based around the results for Labour, and that and that alone – a 3% possible margin of error outlier.

That’s fair enough on one level, that’s his job, but it suggests that any recovery is built on very very shaky foundations, if it exists at all.

Colwell explains away the difference in the FG and LP vote shares by the following:

For their government partners the story is similar. While Fine Gael remain steady in first preference support in this poll when compared to a month ago, this misses the fact that the party had seen a decline mid-way through the month in a comparable Paddy Power poll following poor coverage with regard to the property tax. They too appear to have bounced back quickly from that fall, regaining the 4 per cent loss seen just two weeks ago.

But in a way that merely compounds the problem. FG was falling further? Down to 24%? And this is the best that is achieved by the this watershed? 3%, and that bringing them back to their previous rating? Again, if one needs a bailout ‘exit’ or something similar on a continuous basis to turn one’s fortunes around one shouldn’t really be a governing party because that’s simply not the way politics works, even at the best of times.

Colwell looks at the other polling to support the contention that there’s a pool of support out there:

A quarter of those who suggest the government parties have done a good job but don’t currently support them voted for Fine Gael and Labour at the last election. This equates to 12 per cent of all likely voters, and is a significant target for both parties to win back. As well as these immediate targets for winning back, quite a large proportion of those who are undecided, also give them credit for exiting the bailout. In fact, half of all undecided voters suggest that the government has done a good job.

Perhaps though it’s me, but all this seems pretty nebulous. Is the exit going to loom that large in six, twelve or twenty-four months. Of course the government will do its best to make it so, but…
Colwell concludes with this:

This is a positive poll for the government parties, both in terms of immediate gains, and perhaps more importantly in that it provides clear evidence of the opportunity to win support lost during the difficult first for two-and-a-half years of this government.

Let’s remember that at the last election FG and the LP combined gained 55% (as it should be noted Colwell mentions). At the moment combined they command on the strength of this poll 41%. Making up the gap seems difficult in the extreme and it’s difficult for a basic reason, because of the specific and particular decline in the vote of each party. FG has lost considerable support, but at a less rapid rate than the LP. Labour has to do significantly better in regaining votes than its partner. That seems like an almost impossible task given the continuing strength of the Independents/Others group and the relative continuing strength of Sinn Féin (and let’s not even attempt to cross reference with the last Sunday Independent poll which saw SF considerably stronger, though that comes with many caveats).

Perhaps the LP can do it, perhaps this isn’t an outlier, perhaps both parties can achieve 55% of the vote come 2015/16. Perhaps.

Or perhaps the rather less exciting truth is that outlier apart the situation even in the wake of the ‘exit’ remains pretty much as it has hitherto. No great gains, no great change. The static environment that represented the status quo ante remains intact. But if that’s the case then it would suggest something a little different from Colwell’s analysis. That minds are already broadly speaking made up and that FG and the LP have a mountain to climb to change them, and that even on their supposedly best day in years the outcomes are minimal, at best.

Eamon Gilmore Lookalikes…… November 26, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

Sorry about this 🙂
A 1974 Eamon and Harry Styles …. a 1987 Eamon with Eithne Fitzgerald.



Protection of Life in Pregnancy (Amendment) (Fatal Foetal Abnormalities) Bill. November 26, 2013

Posted by guestposter in Irish Politics, The Left.
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On Thursday Nov 20, Clare Daly moved a Bill in the Dáil to provide for legal abortion in Ireland in circumstances where the foetus has a fatal abnormality such that it cannot survive outside the womb. The stories of women who have had to go overseas for terminations in such circumstances can be read here.

Clare Daly’s motivation for the Bill is here.

The Bill is based upon amendments to the Reilly Act, passed in July this year. These amendments were supported by the left TDs of the Technical Group but were rejected by the government, including the Labour Party. The amendments were drafted by Jennifer Schweppe and Eimear Spain, based upon their legal analysis that legislation to provide for terminations on grounds of fatal foetal abnormality would not be unconstitutional.

That analysis is available here.

Many Labour TDs, including junior minister Alex White, and some Fine Gael TDs, including justice and equality minister Alan Shatter, say they support legislation to permit termination of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

In 2006 the Irish government argued at the European Court of Human Rights that an Irish court might rule that a woman should not be denied the right to abortion in such circumstances. On that grounds the ECHR dismissed Deirdre Conroy’s case: she had not exhausted all domestic avenues. (D v Ireland). The Irish government’s argument in D v Ireland was that termination on grounds of fatal fetal abnormality was probably constitutionally permissible.

Yet Alex White and Alan Shatter continue hiding behind the unpublished opinion of the current Attorney General – that such legislation would be unconstitutional. Publish the AG’s opinion – which is disputed by other legal experts and by the legal arguments of the Irish government in 2006 – including presumably, the AG of the time.

Shatter, White et al should support this Bill. The Dáil can pass it and refer it to the Supreme Court – which may or may not rule it unconstitutional. In my opinion Reilly’s Act can be amended to permit terminations on grounds of fatal fetal abnormality and Labour, in particular, should act on this now – while in office. It is a cruel cynicism to claim they will agitate for it at the next election – thereby making themselves look good. Art 40.3.3 must be removed from the constitution and Reilly’s Act must be repealed – but that is a longer struggle.

Brendan Young

Derry, Larkinism, Class War & Women November 25, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.
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The choice of a referendum on same-sex marriage November 25, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Bunreacht na hÉireann, Inequality, LGBT.
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The cabinet has decided to hold a referendum in 2015 to lift the ban on same-sex marriage.

Over on Human Rights in Ireland, Fiona de Londras raises two interesting questions that deserve attention:

  • why are we having a referendum in the first place? and
  • what is the personal and social cost of a referendum?

de Londras, formerly of UCD Law School and now at Durham University, argues that it is not certain that a referendum is needed. Instead of going straight to a referendum to amend the constitution, she suggests an alternative route that might avoid a referendum. That route is:

(1) pass an Act to that repeals section 2(2)(e) of the Civil Registration Act 2004;

(2) have that Act referred to the Supreme Court.

Section 2(2) of the civil Registration Act names five impediments to a legal marriage, listed (a) to (e); item (e) is “both parties are of the same sex“.

The President has the power under Article 26 to refer a Bill that has been passed by the Oireachtas to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality. That process is time-bound, and would therefore produce a result quickly. If the Supreme Court finds that Bill to delete section 2(2)(e) is constitutional, the ban on same-sex marriage would have been lifted without a referendum. If, on the other hand, the Supreme Court rules against the amendment to the Act, then the proposal to amend the Constitution it can proceed. However, it is not necessary to go directly to a constitutional amendment.

Her second point is why that route whould be preferred.

Referenda in Ireland are divisive things; this is, perhaps, in their nature, and divisiveness in social discourse is not something to shy away from unnecessarily. However, that divisiveness is also not cost-free, and particularly not for the people whose rights and capacity to ‘belong’ within social institutions are being debated. There will be a social cost to this referendum. LGB people in Ireland will have to debate with neighbours and family members and try to convince them to acknowledge us as equal citizens in our own country. We will see, hear and read claims that we are somehow not deserving of the institutional, legal and social recognitions that come with the right to access marriage.

That will be harmful. The harms will vary; it may harm me by simply being hurtful, but what harm might it do to the mid-fifties farmer who never had the confidence to come out, or the person subjected to homophobic bullying in the workplace, or the 14-year old who thinks she might be lesbian? People are resilient, and will bear this harm I’m sure. Indeed, the harm will, I imagine, be lessened should the referendum succeed. But this does not mean that it will not exist.

de Londras’s concern is not theoretical. An acquaintance of mine commented last week that she, her partner and their two sons will not be answering the call from lgb organisations for families to participate in the campaign:

Full marriage really affect my family more than most, but I have no intention of making my wife or children the poster people for it.

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