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Workers’ Rights vs Anti-Union Legislation – July 3rd 2019 June 30, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The Trade Union Left Forum is hosting a discussion on the impact of the Industrial Relations act on Trade Union activity and organising on Wednesday, 3rd of July from 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm in the Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies, 27 Pearse Street, Dublin (right near the ICTU conference in Trinity College).

Presentations will be made by:
Gareth Murphy (FSU)
John Douglas (Mandate)
The event is open to members of all trade unions so please come along and have your say.

For more information, please go to the TULF’s event page on Facebook by clicking here.

Sunday and the Week’s Media Stupid Statements June 30, 2019

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[Alan] Shatter probably failed to get a fair hearing because the public generally has little sympathy for politicians and assumes, wrongly, that none of them tell the truth. The only person in the Dáil to offer a defence of Shatter when he was being abused from all corners after his resignation was Clare Labour TD and barrister Michael McNamara who wrote: “His lack of deference to his ‘learned friends’ attracted a level of resentment unparalleled since Roger Casement was denied legal representation by the Bar of Ireland. His resignation was greeted with glee in the Law Library with some of Ireland’s finest legal minds punching the air in frenzied scenes of jubilation.” Maybe Shatter should be grateful he wasn’t hanged like Casement.

Hmmm…

Book sales in the UK June 29, 2019

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These figures suggest that book sales are pretty robust with a small fallback for printed books from £3.11bn in 2017 to £2.95bn in 2018. The demise of print is clearly some way away, and while digital is a significant chunk of the market it remains well well behind print at £653m. Audiobooks are beginning to make an impact but they are even further behind – at £69m per year.

Perhaps very slightly more troubling is this:

“I’m not concerned that this could be a watershed moment for the printed book, we are not there yet,” said Lotinga. “We have not seen a huge shift into subscription services, piracy is low, people still love physical books. It is a trend halt, sales are still up 8% over the last five years.”
Consumer ebook sales continued their slow decline, down 2% to £251m. Sales have fallen 20% since 2014 as rising competition for screen time from services such as Netflix, Facebook and YouTube continues to eat away at the popularity of ebooks and ereaders.

Trailers June 29, 2019

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Funny the angst over trailers. As this piece notes social media has brought new factors into the film-making equation – for example panicked responses by film-makers to bad reactions to trailers. Yet this is, in essence, not about craft or art, but about money. The film-makers try, at least in some instances, to avert poor responses from… customers, let’s call them customers, which would impact financially on a film. That caveat about some instances is crucial.

And this social media impact (or not) can take place after the film has aired. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Last Jedi both critically and in terms of audience response it polled high figures (there’s a distinction there between polling of people who saw it in cinemas and some, though not all, user reviews on Rotten Tomatos and Metacritic as against IMDB). Given a budget of $300m and a box office of $1.333bn it also did absurdly well – despite some in the audience piling on negative user reviews online and attempting to ‘boycott’ it.

What’s interesting is how that response has coloured views of the film subsequently. I’ve mixed feelings about it, but concerns about fan service are not amongst them.

Prisoners of the Moon June 29, 2019

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Thanks to Joe Mooney for pointing to this…

With a cast lead by Jim Norton as Arthur Rudolph, one of a number of Nazi rocket scientists who assisted America as they tried to win the space race, new docu-drama #PrisonersOfTheMoon examines Rudolph’s work and alleged involvement in war crimes, & screens as the 50th anniversary of the moon landing approaches. Screenings from June 28 at:

Sligo Omniplex

Carrick Cineplex

Eye Cinema Galway

Irish Film Institute (IFI)

Triskel Arts Centre

Light House Cinema

Crescent Arts Centre

Abbey Arts Centre

Set Theatre Kilkenny

https://www.prisonersofthemoon.com/events

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… A House “I Am The Greatest” June 29, 2019

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Off to The National Concert Hall Tonight to see the David Couse, Fergal Bubury and friends show “A House is Dead – I am Still The Greatest” where they will “re-interpret the seminal 1991 album for 2019.
Saw them umpteen times, have all the albums, some singles, 12 inches …… So am really looking forward to this.
“I Am the Greatest” is such a brilliant album. Starting with “I don’t care” and not a poor song in between , ending with “I am the Greatest” and it’s end of “I Am ,I Am, I Am, I Am, I Am, I Am, I Am, I Am, I Am …….” and I can already feel those multiple “I Am” going through the Concert Hall as the show ends.
Twenty Eight years ago and it was a staple on the record player…. indeed another album I had on vinyl that I bought later as a CD, knowing each and every word of every song, the guitar lines… A great album

Pride 2019 June 29, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Here’s a first.

The civil and public service will take part in the Dublin parade for the first time, marching under the banner Proud to Work for Ireland.

And:

Joining the parade will be representatives from all Government departments, the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, the Central Bank, Revenue and many other agencies of the State.

They will be joined by representatives of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). It will be the first time PSNI officers in uniform have taken part in Dublin Pride. Over the past few years, gardaí have participated in Belfast Pride. The Garda Representative Association is also taking part in the parade for the first time.

And always important to remember the roots of Pride in Dublin,:

Dublin’s first large-scale pride parade was held in June 1983 when about 900 people marched from Liberty Hall to Fairview park.
It followed the death of Declan Flynn (31) who was beaten to death by a gang of five “queer-bashing” teenagers in Fairview Park in 1982. The 1983 march through the city centre is seen as the catalyst for the gay-rights movement in Ireland.

The parade starts at 1PM on O’Connell Street and ends on Merrion Square though as this makes clear opinions are not entirely uniform on the participation of the police.

“We’re part of the union”. CLÉ ÇŁUB – NEXT WED 3rd JULY June 28, 2019

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Location: * Teachers Club, Parnell Square,* West, Dublin 1

Theme – “We’re part of the union”

A celebration of trade unionism in music, song and story jointly hosted by the Clé club and the INTO coinciding with the Biennial Delegate Conference of the ICTU.

Congress delegates and guests are invited will join with regular Clé club members in an evening of joyful celebration of our proud legacy.

Song & music from the floor

Fear a Ti – Seamus Dooley

8.00pm –11pm – Doors open at 7.30pm – no pre booking

Contact cleclub@gmail.com cleclub.home.blog

Assessing Brexit June 28, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This is a sensible contribution to the debate, and thanks to the person who linked to it in comments. Ivan Rogers recent speech where he underscores the legitimacy of the referendum vote but points out how it is a disservice to those who voted to leave the EU to pretend that this is without significant costs and choices that have to be addressed.

And he reminds us of one very pertinent fact:

And having agreed the backstop proposal in December 2017, the Prime Minister’s only escape route from a Northern Ireland specific backstop was the all UK backstop she urged EU leaders through autumn 2018 to insert in the legal Withdrawal Agreement. Telling them indeed that only this would win her the ‘meaningful vote’ in the House. They duly gave her what she asked for and signed it off now 7 long months ago. But it was just never going to fly. Her strategy of ‘you’ll see: it’s my way or the abyss and you will have no other or better choice in the end, because I will prevent any other emerging’ held no terrors for those who much preferred the abyss – because, for them, it was not an abyss but a ‘clean break’ liberation. And her deal delivered too close an economic and juridical relationship with the EU ever to be tolerable for them. None of this – surely to goodness – can have been a surprise to No 10.

But I think this is also important.

Nor in my view, can we exonerate those Remainers who spent all their time training their guns on any other compromise version of Brexit in order that they could reduce it to a choice between ‘no deal’ and ‘revoke’. It is frankly ludicrous for all parties – the former prime minister herself, the hard Brexiteers and the hard Remainers – to have played this out before a disillusioned public.

I’ve never been convinced that attempting to recast the issue as a binary rather than opting for a compromise was feasible. From the off it seemed to me that the forces were too closely matched numerically, though not politically and that distinction is far from unimportant – because Remain never commanded anything like a majority of MPs, and wishing the BLP would do the decent thing as some have seen it was always an appeal likely to fall upon deaf ears. Of course it could also be that were the LP to swing overtly behind a ‘soft’ Brexit, the terrain would still have shifted rapidly towards hard or no-deal. As Rogers notes, there was no end of deceitfulness about those who would not put a hard Brexit before the UK electorate in 2016 but who sought that goal. But politically Remain has depended upon forces too distant from the corridors of power to be able to tilt the battlefield in their direction. And even should the BLP arrive in power I think it deeply unlikely it will explicitly call for Remain so much as a softish Brexit. At best.

But in a way all that analysis is irrelevant. Matters stand where they stand. And that is where Rogers does us all a real favour in pointing out what ‘no-deal’ actually consists of for the UK;

No deal’ is not a destination. It is simply a volatile and uncertain transitional state of purgatory, in which you have forfeited all the leverage to the other side because you start with a blank slate of no preferential arrangements, and live, in the interim – probably for years – on a basis they legislate – in their own interests. At 27. Without you in the room, and without consulting you politically. So much of our debate about ‘being ready here for ‘no deal’ therefore totally misses the point.
Namely: it is the others who largely dictate what we have to be ready for. Yes. ‘No deal’ can and will be ‘managed’ or controlled to a degree. And it would be. But by the EU. Ask the Swiss about trading and dealing. with the EU from outside. Hardly a country which is not immensely proud of its sovereignty and of its extraordinary democratic traditions, and evidently not a country destined to join the EU or Euro – though it does operate free movement with EU citizens treated far more favourably than others. Just as evidently, like us, it’s a country with a global, not a parochial regional outlook. The reality is that the Swiss, who are now nearing the end of yet another difficult multi-year negotiation of their most comprehensive package of economic and juridical relationships ever with the EU, know full well that their economy would not survive ‘trading with the EU on WTO terms’. They don’t. They haven’t for decades. And they are probably about to have to agree to legal provisions at which the European Research Group would blanch because they have no negotiable alternative.

And there’s this:

The EU will not set out to humiliate Britain, to punish us, hobble us or ‘bring us to our knees’.
Though of course, we shall shortly be hearing plenty of that again. Sure: the EU, like the US or China, plays hardball in negotiations. Because it has the weight to. That is, after all, rather the idea of trade blocs. We knew that when we joined one. But it is not daft. It will not prohibit every flight from Stansted to Malaga, stop any British truck invading Calais, turn off all energy interconnectors, terminate all cross-border data transfers, or whatever else. Please note, incidentally, that whatever key Brexiteers tell you, these are classic examples of where so-called WTO rules simply have zero-bearing on what happens on day 1 after a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

And this…

It is very sad to watch blustering Brexiteers played for fools, and being nicely set up for their next thrashing. Because it will not be they who suffer the consequences. Why does this generation of UK politicians seemingly find it so difficult to think its way into the shoes of key opposite numbers, and work through how exactly you would play this if you were them, given the domestic political incentives they face? Is that not part of the job? As I have said before, other people have sovereignty too. They have politics as well. So, no: they are not going to wilt at the first sign that a new prime minister is prepared to withhold the money and walk.

And he notes that a UK stuck in the limbo of ‘no-deal’ will be told by the EU that they are ready to negotiate, but with obvious red lines of their own, not least the border in Ireland. But… because the UK is outside the tent and, apologies, pissing on its own shoes, it will be in no position to force the issue and will find one or two new red lines introduced by the EU (Rogers suggests ‘fisheries being an obvious candidate’).

This is the reality that Brexit proponents have never faced up to, the sheer imbalance in power between the EU and the UK, that it is not punishment by the EU to demand the best deal they can get in whatever circumstance but the function of the EU to do so, just as others would do so.

And he notes one basic flaw in Brexit logic. That if there were alternative arrangements for the border the EU would be implementing them on its borders between Sweden and Norway, indeed it would be insane not to given both are within the EEA.

Finally he suggests that the ‘constriction’ of the UK economy that will be exacerbated by Brexit continues apace due to the negligence of the Brexit process to date as pursued by London.

It remains staggering that all this is self-inflicted.

Brexit and the threat to the GFA/BA June 28, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Newton Emerson is pushing a very very implausible line again in the IT this week. As before he takes umbrage at the idea that Brexit is a problem in the context of the GFA/BA, to the extent that he describes the ‘mapping exercise’ carried out, not by Uncle Tom Cobbley or some randomer plucked from the street, but the sovereign governments of the ROI and the UK, the NI civil service and the EU Commission into impacts on the GFA/BA due to Brexit as ‘open to dangerous misinterpretation’ Why so? Why is the understanding of the two governments, the NI civil service, and the EU commission so at fault?

Of the 142 policy areas, only seven relate to the cross-Border bodies established under the agreement, covering topics such as inland waterways, food-safety promotion and languages.
The next 44 are “priority” or “potential” interests of the agreement’s North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC), covering topics such as health, education and benefit fraud.
The next 70 areas are “co-operation beyond NSMC” and therefore beyond the agreement. This includes the all-Ireland electricity market.
The final 19 are described as “avoiding a hard border” and include all customs union and single-market issues. This is again beyond the agreement, which says nothing about trade or the nature of the Border.

This is disingenuous at best, and at worse simply flat out incorrect. Indeed he undermines his own case when it is noted that of the 142 areas examined some are unaffected or unlinked to EU membership. But the point is that the mapping exercise was necessary precisely in order to determine impacts – and of course in some instances there would be impacts, in others there wouldn’t. That though, is in a sense a subsidiary issue.

To argue that the broad and narrow context of the policy areas is ‘beyond the agreement’ because the agreement does not mention trade or the nature of the Border is an interpretation so narrow and so self-serving that it is remarkable that a columnist in a national paper is offered the opportunity to make it. He writes;

A common EU legal and regulatory regime may have been assumed but there is nothing in the agreement to require it, or even to harmonise what laws and regulations exist. Co-operation is to be about “action within the island of Ireland on matters of mutual interest and within the competence of the administrations, North and South”.

But as noted by Tony Connolly of RTÉ previously…

…the ROI government and the European Union, and indeed the British government heretofore have all argued that the way in which the GFA/BA is framed in the context of an all-island economy means that ‘if you’re abiding by the GFA you’re not putting any of the achievements into reverse because we know Brexit does put it into reverse because you throw this big border across the island all fo the north south cooperation which is facilitated by mutual membership of the EU in terms of health, in terms of education…science… all of that is thrown into reverse if the UK is out of that system… well the way to do this is through the withdrawal agreement and the backstop…and if they’re rejected it is up to the UK to live up to its obligations’.

Or as is noted in comments BTL on the Emerson article, Emerson ignores the manner in which matters have developed not simply on foot of the text of the GFA/BA but in its implementation. Any change as we know will represent, in this context (it’s not inevitable in all contexts), a diminution of the status quo ante (Ivan Rogers was explicit about this in a speech only this week).

Arguably, though, it goes further than that. Another commentor BTL notes that the settled reality of UK and ROI EU membership in 1998 was such that it was unthinkable for one or other party to be outside the Union (and as Emerson surely knows, it was only with the Lisbon Treaty that a mechanism came into being allowing for a state to leave the EU). It is as if one assumed the UK would retreat from the UN and all UN agreements. Even today that seems implausible in the extreme. So it was taken as read, albeit the EU is mentioned in the text of the GFA/BA, that common membership would be yet another underpinning of the Agreement and its workings.

But all this is in a sense irrelevant – all the handwaving from Emerson about the GFA/BA – because Emerson has to implicitly admit, as it is so blindingly obvious, that Brexit does generate significant negative impacts on the status quo ante…

In other words, North-South co-operation is largely what North and South decide. Brexit cannot breach this – it becomes merely another challenge on the agenda, albeit a vastly difficult one.

A vastly difficult one? Really? Has he deigned to follow the news from London recently where the Tories have imploded as a party of government precisely because the mechanisms required to retain a frictionless border on this island have become not simply vastly difficult to accept but frankly beyond the capacity of the British political system to even entertain.

It’s this dislocation between the narrowness of Emerson’s analysis and the realities which impact on the ground, on politics and so on which is so frustrating. Emerson is an intelligent person but he seems genuinely unable or unwilling to accept that Brexit does indeed undermine the GFA/BA, that tomorrow is going in the context of Brexit to be worse than today. I’m at a loss as to why he seems locked into a perspective that seems almost blithely unconcerned about that simple reality.

I don’t want to do him a disservice, but perhaps it is that accepting that would in some ways underscore the problems in a political system that could allow matters to reach this pass. Easier to pretend there is no problem in this instance than to accept that from start to finish the British political system is currently not fit for purpose.

And his solutions are no solutions at all. For him it is not apparently hugely problematic if the Agreement is reworked to who knows what end.

Extending the definition of the agreement so widely instead imperils it.
A hard border might be avoided through a future trading relationship but demanding all conceivable forms of North-South co-operation be fixed in their exact present state makes the backstop truly inescapable.

One might add that there’s a certain degree of delusion given the lack of working the agreement in its North-South context by the DUP. Though in fairness to Emerson he does acknowledge that ‘Unionists have got away with sidelining it’. But even that itself shows up another problem with his argument which is that given the partial manner in which the GFA/BA has been worked it demonstrates yet again that anything that can impact negatively upon it is a threat to it. That’s the basic truth at the heart of this.

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