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Signs of Hope – A continuing series July 31, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

What Will You Be Reading This Summer? July 31, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Any good books on the list for people? I’ve started on a couple myself. The late Michael Brooks ‘Against the Web’ from Zero Books (hat tip to An Sionnach Fionn for that). Pig City, a book on the Brisbane musical scene in the 1980s under the Bjelke-Petersen government. I’m also rereading the completely ridiculous but highly entertaining pseudohistory, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail which I haven’t looked at in thirty odd years. Philip K. Dick on Film is another title and thanks to JM for that. And more locally getting through the updated version of Our Rising : Cabra and Phibsborough in Easter 1916, released a few years back.

Finally reading in sequence all the Asimov ‘robot’ books, plus a couple of the spin off novels. Started at the outset of the pandemic and keeping on keeping on. Very very much of their time and the question is do I now go into the Empire novels given the crossover or skip across to the Dorsai sequence by Gordon Dickinson? And there I was intending this summer to read the second sequence of Amber novels by Zelazny that he wrote in the 1980s having got through the first sequence last Summer. Must be in a nostalgic mood for old SF.

Any other good ones people are intending to read?

Wheels coming off… July 31, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday there was this assessment of the government and its woes here on the site. It was not a pretty sight. Today hardly twenty four hours later the government has seen a Minister of State and party whip ‘sanctioned’ by the Green Party for respectively abstaining and voting against the government. Both will lose speaking rights for two months, though in a way given the Dáil started a six-week break last night perhaps that sanction isn’t quite what it might otherwise be.

Harry McGee points to a sort of precedent for Minister of State Joe O’Brien’s abstention:

There was an issue in the last Dáil with Independent Alliance ministers abstaining on Bills, but such abstentions were on private member’s Bills, not on legislation being sponsored by the Government.

A Minister from one of the other parties said that this was a relatively benign Bill in the context of some of the really difficult decisions that will have to be taken in the autumn. The Minister said it did not give much confidence on the longevity of the Government, if its TDs were peeling off at such an early stage.

And while the broader sense of chaos that has seemingly engulfed this administration from the off persists there’s also this to keep in mind. Take the efforts last night:

A Sinn Féin request for an emergency debate next week on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment was rejected last night with the support of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party and six regional independent TDs.

Those outriders, the independent TDs, are quite the bloc, albeit fractured into two and a half lots, as it were. There’s a fair bit of support there to keep the show on the road for a while yet. And if the remainder of the GP retains its coherency as a bloc then matters may not be quite as serious.

But again, day in day out, as was put yesterday ‘And one can be forgiven for thinking that if this is how matters start, well, how will they continue?’.

Internal opposition? July 30, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

As noted by SonofStan:

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan has resigned as party whip, but said she is not leaving the party, after voting against the Government twice on amendments to the Residential Tenancies Bill.

She said the matter is now for the parliamentary party to consider.

Staycation as against international travel July 30, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Not unuseful analysis provided by KBC Bank of Ireland in the following:

If the usual spend on holidays abroad by Irish people is matched here, it could make up for the loss of income from the fall off in foreign visitors.

Citing the latest national income and expenditure data for 2019, consumer spending outside of the state amounted to about 6% of overall personal consumption and nearly 2% of Irish GDP.

“This is slightly greater than the 1.4% of GDP spent by foreign visitors to Ireland,” KBC economist Shawn Britton pointed out.

It would be good to think it was possible for one to make up the other. How does it work in practice though? Of course above and beyond all that is the reality this is a pandemic and that will change matters.

One intriguing figure that I’d love to see parsed out.

Nearly one in five consumers said they did not see coronavirus changing their holiday plans.

I often wonder about how many people in this society have no holiday whatsoever whether on the island or off it.

Latest Podcast Episode…. July 30, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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This episode takes a look at a number of Gay candidates running in Elections in Ireland in the 1980’s. Liz Noonan a Lesbian Feminist in 1981,Feb 1982 and November 1982 , Tonie Walsh in the 1985 Local Elections as well as The Three Gay and Lesbian Equality Campaign candidates in the 1989 General Election.

There is also a look at The Political Organisation for Work which ran a candidate in the 1997 General Election in Dublin South. It was the first mention of Direct Democracy in an Irish Election.

Town ….. July 30, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

My Office is in the City Centre and yesterday we had a call about the Office reopening. There’s no need to go back to the office for the time being and I can’t see too many wanting to do it either. Talking to some family members that also work in Town and they have been told it will be 2021 at the earliest before they are expected back in their office. Have heard a lot of companies say that the majority of their workers have no need to come to the Office.
Even then, the extra hour in bed in the morning, being home to cook the dinner, the lack of commute and so on will make Working from Home more attractive.
I have been in Town once since this all began, I drove in , parked and met someone to get some political material off them. I made a quick exit. Town was dead that day though.
The amount of businesses dependent on office workers, from cafes, restaurants, pubs,shops, barbers and so on is huge. It’s going to be very hard for many of these business’s to keep going whilst the offices are empty.
In a way too it shows that Dublin isn’t really a living City, it’s too dependent of people coming from the Suburbs and I suppose Tourists to support many of the businesses.
If people aren’t working in Town and also nervous about using public transport it will also impact the shops in the main shopping areas. Hard to know what the solution is.

Will there be a rebuke? July 30, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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It will be interesting to see if the Taoiseach does indeed rebuke Marc MacSharry for his comments this week on ‘lazy’ public servants as suggested by SF’s Eoin Ó Broin. Interesting indeed if there is anything on offer from the Taoiseach, and what about his Cabinet colleagues?

But then one has to wonder is this a cynical ploy – not least in its naked efforts to pitch private sector and public sector workers against each other (which is curious given many public sector workers were working from home throughout whereas many private sector employments were unable to through no fault of their own) – to try to shift or reframe the narrative after an initial few weeks for the government that have been utterly absymal in terms of their image. It’s not one thing, not just the PUP issue and mishandling of same (Paul Murphy of RISE was particularly good on RTÉ earlier in the week outlining that he was adamantly against foreign travel but penalising people without notifying them of the danger of same was simply wrong) and subsequent U-turn, or indeed the issue of drivers, or the issue of pay for Ministers and the sudden Ministerial wage-cut. And there are other issues. It’s amazing to reconsider them as an IT editorial does:

Instead, the Government’s problems have been largely self-inflicted. No sooner had the Cabinet been formed than a slew of Fianna Fáil TDs went public to bemoan their omission. Such jarring self-pity revealed not only a failure to read the public mood but also the scale of internal indiscipline within Fianna Fáil in particular. The absence of a minister from west of the Shannon was another unforced error that resulted simply from a failure of Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan to coordinate their plans. Further damage followed with the sacking of Barry Cowen after a controversy over his drink-driving ban.

Rather it is the totality of these, the sense that this is a government curiously inept at navigating what should actually be a straightforward process of bedding in. And one can be forgiven for thinking that if this is how matters start, well, how will they continue?

Still, it’s not as if there weren’t problems before this. For example, what to make of this?

A series of gaffes prior to and during the general election cost Fine Gael at the polls, a meeting of the parliamentary party has been told.

Ministers and Ministers of State held discussions reviewing the party’s general election performance on Tuesday ahead of a further meeting of the entire parliamentary party on Wednesday evening.

An odd time to thinking about this given the party is back in government, albeit as nominally the slightly junior partner, and might be expected to be focusing on that work first and foremost.

That said, here’s an intriguing one:

Mr Varadkar is understood to have told his party that there was a focus during the election on Fianna Fáil being the main political opponent but it was clear that Sinn Féin was just as much as a threat.

Sinn Féin candidates all over the country won huge victories and topped the poll in many areas winning 37 seats.

Thinking ahead, eh?

Populists gonna populist… July 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A Government backbencher Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry:

He praised staff in the Department of Social Protection who had got so many Covid-related schemes up and running and “managed to get money to people pretty quickly, in the main. They deserve much credit”.

But he contrasted that effort with “many elements” in the public service who are “using this situation as cover to lie on the couch and watch box sets, returning an odd call here and there and doing the maximum of the minimum to tick over during this period”.

And the evidence for this?

Workers rights July 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

The Guardian has a troubling report from the US which dovetails with a piece referenced here some weeks back. David Sirota writes about how:

In locales across the country, millions of Americans are losing employer-based healthcare coverage, and can only get it back if they go back to their jobs as infection rates increase.

In various states, officials are ending eviction moratoriums because “people generally should be back at work,” as Colorado’s Democratic governor, Jared Polis, put it in a declaration saying the quiet part aloud.


In Washington, Donald Trump is trying to brush aside dire warnings and force open schools. Republican governors like Missouri’s Mike Parson are supporting him by declaring that if kids “do get Covid-19, which they will, and they will when they go to school, they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it” – a formula for spreading the virus from children to entire families.

Unemployment benefits are under threat from Republicans in Congress and:

…there have been reports of businesses firing workers who raise concerns over Covid – and a court rebuffed a lawsuit aiming to force the Trump labor department to issue new rules requiring employers to protect workers from the disease.

This isn’t happenstance or random. It is all part of a plan. As the Roosevelt Institute’s Bharat Ramamurti put it: “Slashing unemployment insurance benefits, immunizing companies from worker health lawsuits, and forcing schools to open with inadequate funding is a ghoulish combination of policy priorities – all intended to offer up cheap, scared, and powerless labor to the forces of capital.”

In some ways the crisis has sharpened matters no end. If in Europe, generally, we have seen states reorient themselves towards social supports, in the US there was a burst of that but then a ‘correction’ in more recent times. And workers pay for that ‘correction’. But in a sense this merely points to the reality that workers are a resource in all this, one which is used and abused as is seen necessary. Forcing, directly or indirectly, workers back into unsafe workplaces is of a piece with that. That workers themselves must in a sense collude with this simply in the short term to survive financially does not undermine that broader reality.

But the grim lack of choice facing workers is demonstrated by the following:

Nelp has put forward model state legislation to affirmatively make workers eligible for unemployment if they leave jobs that are unsafe. The Center for Progressive Reform has a proposal to “give employees who collectively leave workplaces where they face a significant risk of contracting Covid-19 the benefit of the doubt in exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act to refuse dangerous work”. And 22 Senate Democrats have sent a letter to the labor department demanding that the agency issue a guidance that makes “clear that individuals cannot be forced to choose between keeping their income and putting their lives in danger”.

This is playing catch-up, isn’t it? And in a sense a defensive, and arguably losing, game. But there should be no complacency here either (and the situation in the UK is arguably worse again). Similar calls can be heard in various areas. As noted before, in certain respects, parts of business – not all parts but significant ones – seem only too willing to wish away the reality of the situation. Union push-back is absolutely necessary and in support of all workers, unionised or not.

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