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Unseen wealth… January 30, 2015

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

Interesting analysis by Polly Toynbee and David Walker drawn from a new book by them on Cameron. In between noting just how right-wing Cameron actually is, they write:

In his book Capital, Thomas Piketty observed that in advanced economies wealth has become so concentrated among the few that most people are virtually unaware of its existence. Great wealth is secret, and its hold on power even more so. Who knows what goes on over country suppers in the Cotswolds, where the prime minister’s neighbours include Rebekah Wade and Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth, with Mark Carney’s sister-in-law and lobbying magnate Lord Chadlington next door? Yet people have inklings. Cameron provokes nothing like the visceral response that Thatcher did, but he has not erased people’s resentment of privilege. Today’s opinion polls reflect a scratchy sense of unfairness. George Osborne’s mantra, first chanted at the 2012 party conference, “all in it together” raises a hollow laugh.

In Prospect some years back in a piece on Ireland during the crisis it noted that the most conspicuous displays of consumption by the very rich in this state had been ramped back and quoted one person (I think a still wealthy developer) who talked about how boats were kept at private marina’s or otherwise well out of view, and so on, because those who owned them were aware of the friction they might generate. And if one considers how wealth is gated away it’s both disturbing and revealing. It also suggests that reaching towards democratic control of same is going to be a mammoth task.

Regarding groups/parties/formations not in the Irish Left Archive… January 30, 2015

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

…many thanks to John O’Neill for the suggestions here of formations that are still missing.

He points to the Irish Citizen’s Army of the 20s and 30s. Laochra Uladh of the late 40s. The Anti-Imperialist League of the 1930s. The Irish Republican Brotherhood of the 1950s. Saor Uladh of the 1950s. The Wolfe Tone Societies. And of course there are more.

Any other suggestions very welcome and anyone with documents or copies of documents from the above that they are willing to place in the Archive please contact us by email.

402 documents and counting. 52 odd per year, just about 7 to 8 years of posts. Not bad going and thanks to all who have forwarded materials or commented on it.

Connolly Youth Movement Statement on Greek elections January 30, 2015

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

Thanks to the person who forwarded this…

The Connolly Youth Movement welcomes the Greek election results and sees the election of a left political party as a deepening of the class awareness of the Greek people. Syriza were just shy of 2 seats to form a majority government but as it stands they have now entered into coalition with the Independent Greeks, a far right party of the bourgeoisie, who happen to also oppose austerity and the debt – their common platform.

It seems the whole of Europe has taken inspiration from the Syriza victory and now the people of Europe will look forward with hope, that the Austerity measures of the last 6 years will be stopped, the debt will be renegotiated and the gains lost over that time period can be regained. These are the hopes of the Greek people and they have put their faith in Syriza to follow through on their election promises. We can only hope and wish that Syriza live up to these expectations.

The slogan ‘Hope is Coming’ are words that people hold on to, a people that have been beaten and impoverished due to the economic policies of the EU and carried out by Greek governments. The politics of hope, the catchphrase of Syriza, is what people want to believe in. Hope that the future will bring bread, peace and prosperity to a new Europe, rid of all the problems and crisis of the past.

In Ireland, the liberal left, those who have gotten the Syriza t-shirts, those who have shouted from the rooftops, and written reams of threads and tweets about the glorious victory of Syriza and the radical left have maintained this divinity and hope in Syriza. However, lest we forget the past and the great ‘Hope’ campaign of Obama in the United States, the CYM would caution those who are being swept by the euphoria of the initial election success.

There is one Greek left party however that will not be swept up in all the hype, the KKE. The KKE – the Communist Party of Greece – are perceived to be a deeply sectarian party by many on the left in Ireland, who through their actions and their lack of cooperation with other Greek parties, including Syriza, are seen to have made themselves redundant to this resurgence of left wing politics in Europe. The obvious question being, why didn’t Syriza and the KKE form a deeply radical left government coalition? The KKE received 5.5% (a 1% increase from 2012) of the vote and would have easily been in a position to form the new coalition government.

It is easy to criticise the KKE, they haven’t won a lot of favours or allies by remaining constant in their criticisms of Syriza. All the soft left wing groups in Ireland are absolutely disgusted with them. Some would even blame the KKE for Syriza having to go into coalition with a right wing party! However, for all the criticisms there is very little analysis done on WHY the KKE remain unwilling to partner up with Syriza.

There are two strategic areas as to why the KKE will not go into government with Syriza: 1) The past legacy of European Communist Parties or ‘eurocommunism’ and 2) The ideological difference between the KKE and Syriza. The legacy of eurocommunism has been to strip many communist parties of their Marxist-Leninist ideology, to leave a disbandoned party with a left wing rhetoric without the revolutionary guiding principles. The KKE put simply have looked at the past and based on their analysis have found that putting faith in a Parliamentary party, whether in government or opposistion has never led to a transition from capitalism to socialism. All it has done has been to weaken the party, the class and the international communist movement. So the KKE are correct to be cautious about going into coalition as their statements reflect a revolutionary rather than a parliamentary path.

The ideological difference between the KKE and Syriza however is the most fundamental point that seems to be lost on all those who will bash the KKE as being secterian. The two parties are ideologically opposed. Syriza has stated that it will stay in the EU, that there will be no Grexit, that the monopolies will remain and that they will remain in the imperialist war club NATO. They call themselves a radical party but there really is nothing radical about their ideology. They, just like many left wing parties of the past will do what they are ideologically driven to do – try and better manage the capitalist system. The KKE are diametrically opposed to these fundamental policies of Syriza.

The KKE have remained unwavering in their position in that they don’t see themselves as a party that wants to try and better run capitalism, the KKE wants to overthrow the capitalist system and to replace it with a real and substansive alternative – socialism and they don’t see this as something in the distant future either. No election result will bring this about and the KKE are not in the business to try and hide their aims and objectives. Syriza on the other hand have the rhetoric of a strong radical left party, however their policies and statements would suggest that the radical elements, which they do have within the party, will be silenced.

The main reason why Syriza was able to form a coalition with a right wing party of the Independent Greeks (ANEL) and not with the KKE is because Syriza are ideologically closer to ANEL. This sentence may cause our Irish Syristers to come out in their defence, however this isn’t an attack on Syriza, these are just facts. What the three parties do have in common is their opposition to debt and austerity, what separates the KKE from them is their unapologetic anti-imperialist policies.

If the new Greek government of Syriza and ANEL manage to alleviate any pressure from the Greek people the CYM will most certainly welcome it and if people are being politicised in the process then these elections are a definite step in the right direction, but there can be no illusions that this will inevitably lead the way to a pro-people, pro-worker state, not as long as Greece remains in the EU, the euro, Nato and that the means of production remain in the hands of the monopolies.

The CYM gives full support to the KKE in their endeavours. The path they have chosen seems to be a lonely one at the moment, but with a proud 93 year history and maintaining a discplined and principled position, the next phase of Greek politics will most certainly involve and need their activity, militancy and leadership.

The CYM like the KKE are fully aware that no matter the outcome of an election, and, to paraphrase Connolly ‘unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. The EU and monopolies would still rule you. They would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs’.

SF call for Irish Left Alternative in wake of Syriza victory… January 30, 2015

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

From An Phoblacht…

Writing in An Phoblacht (in shops Friday), Declan Kearney (SINN FÉIN National Chairperson) says:

“This is the time for serious political discussion among progressive Irish political, community and trade union activists on ideas and strategies to ensure the future election of a Left coalition in the South…

“Those on the progressive and republican Left need to make that change irreversible by alter- ing the current balance of forces to create a new political realignment. That will only come about through popular support for a credible political alternative that can effectively challenge the conservative power blocs and their policies…

“Political engagement needs to take place among all those genuinely committed to democratic control of the economy, social justice and an agreed, united Ireland. Progressive political, social and community movements should collectively discuss the development of an agenda which mobilises the greater mass of Irish society in support of equality, protecting the most vulnerable, distributing wealth and resources according to citizens’ needs, and guaranteeing their rights.

“As new international political forces move towards governmental power, formal political discussion should commence in Ireland on how to forge consensus between Sinn Féin, progressive independents, the trade union movement, grassroots communities, and the non-sectarian Left. That process should concentrate on building durable, strategic, cross-sectoral, cross-community and political alliances North and South.”

This Week At Irish Election Literature January 30, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog, Irish Politics.
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The above is from 1989

A 1954 leaflet from Fine Gael in Carlow Kilkenny

From the 2004 Citizenship Referendum a leaflet from The National Women’s Council of Ireland calling for a No vote

A leaflet from Mary Lou introducing Paul Donnelly to the new voters in Dublin West

then an article “The Count” written by one of Éilis Ryans team about the count in last years Local Elections

Then a Call for Papers on Social movements, workers agitation, and left-wing activism in Ireland, 1968-2010

Finally a new site ‘League of Ireland Through The Years’ which may be of interest to some here

“There is another group organising a March in the city centre” January 29, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.

This flyer forwarded on to me….
So it appears Sinn Fein , as is their right, have deemed Saturday “Sinn Fein Day of Action Against Water Charges” and I’m told they have organised local protests in Dublin and elsewhere. However by holding their own protests and not encouraging people to join the main march in Town…….. the numbers marching will invariably be down.

That ‘unique position’ of the Ceann Comhairle… January 29, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

…the unlikely noises emanating as regards the Ceann Comhairle’s fascinating ruling that there could be no debate ‘establishment of a Commission of Investigation into claims of Garda malpractice because of a connected legal action being taken by former minister for justice Alan Shatter’ from some in Labour – yeah, Kelly, that’s you, that is – are genuinely intriguing. Kelly, it is said:

…criticised Mr Barrett’s ruling. He felt that such a ruling could lead to a scenario in the future that someone could go to the courts and seek a judicial review. This would have the effect of avoiding parliamentary scrutiny.

And then he upped the ante:

Sources at the meeting also said Mr Kelly spoke of a “constitutional crisis” while others said he was severely critical of Mr Barrett. It is understood Mr Kelly made his contribution at the end of the weekly meeting, in an intervention that surprised those present.

Did it indeed?

Then today we have Joan Burton making more emollient noises:

“The Ceann Comhairle has a unique position as the person who rules the Dбil. We have to respect that. We would have been very happy to have seen a debate,” Ms Burton said.
However, Ms Burton said the Ceann Comhairle had been in correspondence with Mr Shatter and had made a ruling in the context of Dáil rules.

Given the fluff a week or so back about a certain P. Rabbitte being in line for the CC’s job should the incumbent decide to retire – though to where is a good question – could it be that we’re watching something of a destabilisation of that ‘unique position’?

It really would constitute an enormous win for the LP to have at least one TD, particularly in a certain constituency, returned automatically, as well as making the mountain others have to climb there that bit steeper.

But that surely can’t be the logic of all this, can it?

Statement on the elections in Greece – CPI January 29, 2015

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

Thanks to the CPI for forwarding this:

The working people of Greece have delivered a clear message to the European Union, to the IMF and to the Greek oligarchs that they have had enough of “austerity,” enough of being bullied, enough of being dictated to by the these forces. They desire to be treated as citizens with dignity, with honour; they desire to live free from fear of what tomorrow will bring, without fear of what will happen to them if they become ill or fear whether their pensions will be there tomorrow.

Fear is the weapon that the Irish establishment, the European Union, the IMF and global bankers and finance houses have created and orchestrated, in a climate of fear dutifully promoted by their mass media against any possible alternative. They wish us to believe there is no way forward for the peoples of Europe other than the one imposed on them in the interests of saving the capitalist system itself.

Already the chorus has begun from the EU and other international powers and institutions, that the Greek people must be “reasonable,” must modify their aspirations, must be “realistic” about what is possible. We must reject such fetters upon the people’s hopes. Only working people can decide what is reasonable and where the boundaries of our desires are.

The victory of Syriza, in the eyes of the Greek people, is a victory for the popular desire for a different path and a better way forward, for real substantive change. Time will tell whether the trust they have placed in Syriza was ill judged. It may well turn out to be just another wave of social democracy that will crash on the rock of real, existing monopoly capitalism, leaving a trail of disillusionment and broken promises.

Radical anti-imperialist forces cannot afford the luxury of confining themselves to predicting the future but rather must struggle for the future. Syriza has raised expectations in Greece; it has raised hopes throughout the European Union. Here in Ireland some are attempting to clamber onto the Syriza bandwagon; but for those forces and individuals who desire more radical change the task now is to build the forces for real change, to hold those who claim to speak and act for the people to their promises.

To Irish youth, the future is the one that is built upon the struggle of today. Freedom and justice are not handed to us from above but are won by our united actions. Everyone has a place and a role in that struggle. True individual freedom is gained in the liberation of us all.

Communist Party of Ireland.
26th January

The rich truly are different… part of a continuing series… January 29, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…or so it seems from this report in the SBP where it notes that:

The country’s wealthiest retirement savers have shielded close to €3.3 billion in pension savings from tax in the last four years, according to official figures.

While the figures aren’t as astronomical as they might once have been…

Budgetary changes have significantly reduced the maximum tax relievable pension pot that a person can build up in their lifetime. The standard fund threshold (SFT) for pensions fell to €2 million from January 1, 2014, down from the previous threshold of €2.3 million and substantially lower than the €5.4 million limit that applied in 2008.


…high-earning pension savers who have accumulated a pension pot above the new threshold can protect their retirement savings from additional tax by applying for a higher limit, known as a personal fund threshold (PFT).
Figures cited by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan in response to a parliamentary question by Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath revealed that hundreds of pension savers have availed of the higher limit since the threshold was cut.

The actual breakdown of figures is interesting too:

“I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that since December 7, 2010, when the SFT was reduced to €2.3 million, they have issued 924 PFT certificates with a value of some €2,926 million,” Noonan said. “Since January 1, 2014, when the SFT was further reduced to €2 million, Revenue has to date issued a further 159 PFT certificates with a total value of some €354 million.”

Ireland breaches human rights laws on workers’ rights January 29, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Collective Bargaining, Council of Europe, Employment Rights, Human Rights, Ireland, Labour relations, Trade Unions, Uncategorized, Workers Rights.

Ireland fails to meet nearly half of its legal obligations on workers’ rights under European human rights law.

Legal conclusions (45-page PDF here) by the European Committee of Social Rights concerning workers’ rights were published by the European Committee last week. The  Committee assesses compliance with the Revised European Social Charter.

The findings show Ireland is not in conformity with the human rights requirements on workers’ rights in 10 out of the 22 provisions that Ireland has ratified. Ireland is in conformity with 11 of those provisions, and the government did not provide enough information for the legal situation on the remaining ratified provision on labour rights to be assessed.

The 22 individual provisions are spread across eight articles in the European Social Charter, which is the main sister instrument to the European Convention on Human Rights. The provisions that were examined govern standards in just conditions of work, fair remuneration, workers organising, collective bargaining, worker participation in determining and improving working conditions and working environment, dignity at work, protection of workers’ representatives in their workplaces, and information and consultation in collective redundancy procedures.

Ireland’s minimum wage rates were found to breach European human rights standards because people on the lower bands did not earn enough to have  decent standard of living, which is defined as half of the average net wage in the State.

A further illegality was found because the Payment of Wages Act does not place an absolute limit on the total amount of deductions from wages by an employer and because the Government failed to show that the act is applied in practice in a way that preserves workers’ means of subsistence. “Situations in which the portion of wages remaining after deductions may not be adequate to ensure the subsistence of workers and their dependants may consequently still exist”, the Committee found.

The lack of domestic laws requiring overtime work is paid at a higher rate than basic pay was also found to be a breach of the Charter. The Committee was told by the Government that overtime rates are negotiated at the level at which basic pay and conditions of employment are normally settled — meaning in an individual firm or across an industry or sector. No evidence was produced to show how this works in practice, despite the Government being asked to provide the information following a previous assessment of the legal situation in 2007.

Curiously, although the European Committee did refer to the Haddington Road Agreement for the public and civil service in assessing other aspects of the Charter, it did not mention that Haddington Road breached European human rights law on overtime because it required certain categories of worker to provide the first hour of overtime not only without a higher rate of pay, but without any pay. That part of the Haddington Road Agreement expired in 2014.

The European Committee identified three ways in which Irish law on sacking workers breaches human rights requirements. The notice period in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act are inadequate. The Committee said that this illegality was identified as far back as 1973. It also said that the scope of the illegality on this point has been expanded since Ireland was last assessed because the law on minimum terms was extended to cover civil servants. A third breach was found concerning instant dismissal of a worker for misbehaviour. The European Committee found that the standard that is contained in Irish law is too weak, and that instant dismissal can be justified only in cases of “a serious offence” and not the lower threshold of “misconduct” set out in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act

In examining the situation here on working time, the European Committee warned the government that contracts where workers must be available for work but are later regarded as resting if they were not actually given work are illegal under human rights law. It asked the government to give the Committee information on the rules that apply to on-call service when Ireland next reports on the right to just conditions of work. However, the Committee did have enough information to find that Ireland’s laws do not conform to the human rights standard on hours of work because it allows workers in the merchant shipping sector to work 72-hour weeks.

A separate breach was identified by the European Committee because there are inadequate safeguards in Ireland to prevent people working for more than twelve consecutive days without a rest period.

A number of Irish rules on trade unions were found to be illegal under the Revised European Social Charter. Although some forms of closed shops have been unconstitutional since the 1960s, the European Committee found that the right to freedom of association was not fully protected because pre-entry closed shops and post-entry closed shops when they apply to newly recruited employees are not definitively illegal.

Irish laws on the licensing of trade unions breach human rights law in a number of ways. The Unfair Dismissals Act is inadequate because does not protect workers from being sacked for trade union activity if the union does not have a negotiating license. Another breach is that under Irish law a trade union that does not have a license — and the union’s officials and members — can be sued by an employer, and an employer can sack all employees in an unlicensed union for taking part in a strike.

The ban on the garda staff associations such as the AGSI and GRA from joining Congress was also found to be a breach of human rights law, re-iterating a finding in 2014 in a case take by the AGSI (42-page PDF here). A number of other specific breaches of human rights law for gardaí from the AGSI case were also found to be still relevant in the new conclusions, including the complete ban on any Garda ever striking.

Although the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 applies to all workers, Ireland does not conform to European legal standards because the government did not show that workers exposed to occupational health risks are entitled to appropriate compensation measures such as reduced working hours or additional holidays.

The conclusions were published last week, some time after the work on drafting them and equivalents for 40 other countries had been completed.  In the intervening period, the legal findings of the European Committee for Social Rights were described as “non-binding” by the Minister for Defence in the Dáil. It will be interesting to see if they European Committee responds to that attack when it next publishes conclusions or a decision on a case from Ireland.

The Revised European Social Charter contains 31 articles and under the reporting procedure, the European Committee of Social Rights states’ compliance with approximately a quarter of the articles each year.

Although the 2014 conclusions on labour rights were published by the European Committee last week, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has not publicly responded to the findings.

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