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ILA Podcast, 7: Mary Muldowney: Trade Union and Left Campaigns, the Socialist Party, and Oral History September 14, 2020

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In this episode we talk to Mary Muldowney about her political background and experience campaigning in the trade union movement and working in the Socialist Party; pro-choice campaigns including the Women on Waves ship and the abortion referendums; and her work as a historian, and how that relates to her activism.

Mary is a historian in residence with Dublin City Libraries. She is the author of The Second World War and Irish Women: An Oral History, originally her PhD thesis. She has a particular interest in oral history, and was involved in the founding of the Oral History Network Ireland, edited the Alternative Visions Oral History Group book 100 Years Later: the Legacy of the 1913 Lockout on the centenary of the lockout, and is also involved in the Labour History Society.

As an activist on the Left, Mary has been involved in trade unionism, was formerly a member of the Socialist Party and worked with Joe Higgins in the Dáil, and has been involved in many campaigns over the years.


If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.

Irish Left Archive: selections from Siptu Fightback, 1990s-2000 from the Struggle Archive… September 14, 2020

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Mary Muldowney guests on the Irish Left Archive Podcast today and we thought it appropriate to post about one of the publications she was involved with Des Derwin, Alan MacSimóin and others in, that being Siptu Fightback which was published in the late 1990s and 2000.

If anyone has a copy they would scan or forward to us for scanning so that we can have one in the Archive we would be very grateful.

However, in the meantime here is an excellent online selection of some of the articles from SIPTU Fightback from the Struggle Archive – in itself a very useful and comprehensive online resource, and for more on that see below – which give a real flavour of the publication.

For example, Issue 9 from February 1999 had the following contents:

 

And here is the publications outline of their goals:

SIPTU Fightback is a newsletter for SIPTU activists who believe that the strength of our Union should be used to fight low pay, job losses, wage restraint and cheap labour grades. We think that can only be done effectively when the members have real control of their own union. Our aim is to provide a link-up for the many activists in SIPTU who want a fighting Union, but who feel isolated and powerless. We want to provide news and views, an open forum and a modest service for those activists.

We hope that this bulletin could be a small step towards the creation of a ‘solidarity network’ which can support workers in struggle for better pay, better conditions and trade union rights; win support for the repeal or radical reform of the 1990 Industrial Relations Act and for workers who defy it; win the argument against ‘social partnership’ deals which tie us to the interests of the bosses; promote greater democracy in our Union, particularly more membership involvement and decision making powers at grassroots level; support struggles of the unemployed, the poor and the oppressed and for real equality for women in the workforce.

Our editorial committee is open to broadly like-minded SIPTU members and the newsletter will be independent of all political parties. Its pages are open to views not in accord with our own. Signed articles will not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial committee. The committee members are Des Derwin, Electronics and Engineering Branch (a member of the Dublin Private Sector Regional Executive Committee); Mary Muldowney, Education Branch (who is President of her Branch) and Alan MacSimóin, Education Branch (a member of Trinity College Section Committee). We do not speak in these pages for any of the above Union bodies.

Also to be found on that webpage is the following pamphlet:

Solidarity not Social Partnership – Why SIPTU should say no to another partnership deal
Pamphlet produced for SIPTU Thursday 6th October 2005 Biennial National Conference in Cork. “Conference should vote against Motion 59 because social partnership is a lie, a rip-off and has floored our movement. SIPTU needs a new direction and a renewal as a fighting,” participatory organisation. PDF file of this text

For a full outline of the contents of the Struggle site please go here.

As it notes:

The functionality proved by struggle was replaced by indymedia and sites like Anarkismo.net. So this site is now mostly an archive with new additions limited to stuff that other sites are not suitable for. There are thousands of documents here and hundreds of photographs as well as a few still maintained sections. My intention is to maintain the site into the future principally as an archive and reference.

And:

Struggle was a collection of web pages put up on a voluntary basis for a variety of Irish struggles the web maintainer was connected to and for Irish and international anarchist groups. It is not intended to imply any relationship between any of the organisations whom I have provided space for on this page (outside of the fact that by putting up pages for them I obviously consider them worth supporting).

ILA Podcast, 6: Rhona McCord: Trade Unionism, the Right2Water Campaign, and Community Organising September 7, 2020

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In this episode we talk to Rhona McCord about her political background, the Right2Water and Right2Change campaigns, community organising, and the challenges for the left and Trade Union movement in the contemporary period.

Rhona is a long-time activist on the left, she has been involved in Militant, union activism, the United Left Alliance, and a number of campaigns including Right 2 Water and Right 2 Change. She currently works for Unite in Strategic Research, Community Development and Communications. She also has a doctorate from TCD for research into the ‘Post World War Two Suburban Development of Dublin’.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.

 

Left Archive: Fingal Fund Raising Poster and other documents from Right2Water, 2010s September 7, 2020

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To download the above please click on the following link. r2w-fundraiser-poster.pdf

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

Given the release of the Irish Left Archive Podcast interview with activist Rhona McCord today it seems appropriate to include materials from the Right2Water campaign which she, and many other leftists, were involved in during the mid-2010s.

As noted here on the Right2Water site which as of late 2020 is still operational the campaign set out its objectives:

Who are we? If you believe that water is a human right then we are you!

The provision of sufficient water and sanitation is an essential public service and a human right recognised by the United Nations. It should be freely available to all regardless of wealth or income.

All citizens need clean drinking water and quality sanitation. Right2Water.ie is a public campaign by activists, citizens, community groups, political parties/individuals and trade unionists who are calling for the Government to recognise and legislate for access to water as a human right. We are demanding the Government abolish the planned introduction of water charges.

Why we’re against water charges

Water charges will discriminate against working people and the unemployed in favour of the wealthy and are another regressive tax taking vital money out of the pockets of people and out of our economy. Our public water system is already paid for through general taxation which is progressive and we wish it to remain that way.

Your campaign

The Right2Water campaign has started with a petition and we aim to collect 50,000 signatures before the forthcoming budget. However, that’s not the end of it. Our intention is to raise awareness of this vital issue and to ensure that water charges remain in the public consciousness ahead of Ireland’s next General Election and in the upcoming bye-elections. We will be contacting all political parties and Independent TD’s in the coming months seeking a commitment that they will legislate for the removal of water charges should they be elected into any future government.

As wiki notes the first R2W first march in Dublin was in October 2014. Subsequent to that there were protests, including a second march in November and “These demonstrations forced major concessions from the government”. National demonstrations continued in 2015 and 2016. As late as the week before the 2016 General Election 80,000 people attended a march in Dublin.

A broad range of groups, parties and formations supported the campaign:

Right2Water Ireland is supported by trade unions Unite the Union, the Communication Workers Union, the Civil and Public Services Union, MANDATE and Operative Plasterers and Allied Trades Society of Ireland (OPATSI), as well as political parties and politicians including Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, the Anti-Austerity Alliance, the People Before Profit Alliance, the Workers’ Party of Ireland, éirígí and Sinn Féin.[1][2]

The following documents were issued by elected representatives referencing or focused on the campaign.

Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams TD

People Before Profit, Richard Boyd Barrett TD

United Left Alliance, Joan Collins TD

For a selection of documents here is a sampling from Irish Election Literature.

ILA Podcast, 5: Alan Kinsella: Collecting Political Ephemera, “The Others”, and Politics During a Pandemic August 31, 2020

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In this episode we talk to Alan Kinsella about his Irish Election Literature  collection, how it has developed, and the advantages of a wide online network that has spread internationally; how political activity has changed during the Covid19 pandemic; his podcast “The Others” and the histories that that explores; and also the state of the contemporary party system since the last election and the current coalition was formed.

Alan will likely be known to any followers of Irish politics as the man behind the Irish Election Literature collection. He digitises a lot of documents on his website and on social media, as well as having exhibited materials several times, including in the National Print Museum (in an exhibition that also included a small selection from the Irish Left Archive), and at party Ard Fheiseanna. He regularly appears in the media as the de facto expert on election material and Irish political ephemera, and has recently started a podcast called “The Others – the Alan Kinsella podcast”  in which he tells the stories of some of the smaller groups and parties to have stood in elections over the years.

Alan has also been very generous in donating material to the Irish Left Archive over the years.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.

Left Archive: Workers Life, Vol 5, No 3, July 1984, The Workers Party August 31, 2020

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To download the above please click on the following link. workers-life-1984-go.pdf

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This edition of Workers Life covers a wide area of topics. Henry Patterson writes about ‘challenging some popular notions of Loyalism’, there’s a report on European Elections and another on the Reagan visit, there’s a piece on struggles to organise New York subway workers in the 1930s and another again on the Polisario Front. There’s also a piece on Kissinger and Central America.

The editorial engages with neutrality.

Irish neutrality has rarely been so popular and yet so threatened – right, left and centre – supports neutrality by which they mean not signing a military pact with either the US or the Soviet Union.

It argues that the Treaty of Rome and EEC membership constitutes the greatest threat. Intriguingly it argues:

…for most members states it is logical to put most stress on military unity; if only to loosen the bonds with the aggressive American nuclear missile policy forced on its NATO allies like Holland, Italy, Greece and Denmark.

It continues:

Since independence, most Irish politicians have viewed neutrality a a bargaining chip in a high stakes diplomatic game with Britain to secure unity with Northern Ireland. Even that prominent advocate of neutrality, Sean MacBride, was willing to consider NATO membership in return for British withdrawal from the North. That was thirty years ago, but it is only three years since Fianna Fail’s leader, Charles Haughey took the first tentative steps towards ending the country’s neutrality in the euphoria following his ‘Georgian teapot negotiations’ with Margaret Thatcher. The totality of relationships within and between these islands certainly included a military aspect, and he was tempted to shift policy on neutrality at the party’s Ard Fheis before a clamour of protest forced its abandonment. Only Thatcher’s expectation of total Irish support for the Falklands and a belated concern within Fianna Fail for the lives of Argentinian sailors prevented a military alliance with some NATO countries.

And it concludes:

A further step forward would require the development of a policy of positive neutrality. This would involve reaching beyond our shores, and joining with other neutral and non-aligned countries in actively working for world peace and disarmament. In today’s world, neutrality means a lot more than simply standing aloof from conflict; it means preventing it.

There are some other particular interesting snippets:

THE WORKERS’ PARTY last month sent the following
message of condolence to the Central Committee of the Italian Communist Party on the death of Enrico Berlinguer, General Secretary P.C.I. ‘The Workers’ Party have just learned of the death of
Comrade Enrico Berlinguer, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Italy. We send our deepest and comradely sympathy to all Italian Communists on this tragic happening. Comrade Berlinguer’s death is a blow, not alone to the Communist Party of Italy, but to pro­gressive forces throughout the world.
His outstanding contribution to the development and building of the Italian Communist Party as the major progressive force in Western Europe will be his enduring memorial.

And notable are a number of deeply critical pieces on Sinn Féin.

Otherwise, as usual with publications from this source very well produced in a magazine style format.

Please note: If files have been posted for or to other online archives previously we would appreciate if we could be informed of that. We always wish to credit same where applicable or simply provide links.

ILA Podcast, 4: Conor Kostick: SWP, Independent Left, and Left Organising and Activism August 24, 2020

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In this episode we talk to Conor Kostick of Independent Left, and formerly the Socialist Workers Party, about a range of areas including his own history, activism and historical research, materials in the Left Archive that he has contributed to and issues like the use of social and other media in Left organising.

Conor is an activist on the left, an historian, a researcher, and a novelist in a range of genres. Amongst other things he was twice chairperson of the Irish Writers Union, and a member of the Board of the National Library of Ireland. He was a long time member of the SWP, a former editor of Socialist Worker, and was one of a group of people who founded Independent Left in 2019.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.

Left Archive: Public Meetings promotional documents, Independent Left, 2020 August 24, 2020

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive.
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Please click here to go the Left Archive.

To download the above please click here and here.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

These documents are an unusual addition to the Archive in that they don’t represent a political leaflet or pamphlet but are instead advertising public meetings held by Independent Left from this year. These are also the first documents in the Archive from Independent Left (for other documents from the group please see here on Irish Election Literature). As noted in the Archive, Independent Left is a Dublin-based party formed in 2019. It was formed by John Lyons, Niamh McDonald and Conor Kostick to contest the 2019 local elections. Lyons, who had previously been elected as a People Before Profit candidate, retained his seat.

One talk given by Conor Kostick on Zoom during the pandemic is about the mutiny of Connaught Rangers in India in 1920 who as it notes ‘risked their lives rather than continue to serve the British Army’.

Another is focused on ‘Irelands Greatest General Strike: April 1920’.

These point to new means of engagement, particularly during this period, and the increasing importance of social media in political communication. We intend to host a representative sampling of such meetings held by Independent Left in order to demonstrate further these new forms.

Please note: If files have been posted for or to other online archives previously we would appreciate if we could be informed of that. We always wish to credit same where applicable or simply provide links.

ILA Podcast: No 3: Catherine Stocker, Social Democrats August 17, 2020

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In this episode we talk to Catherine Stocker  of the Social Democrats. Catherine is a local councillor in Dublin City. She has been a member of the Social Democrats since 2016, and since then has been involved in policy formation, sat on the National Executive of the party, and in 2019 was elected to Dublin City Council for the Clontarf LEA.

We discuss her experience of joining and building a new political party, policy formation, working with other parties in the repeal referendum campaign, and her experience as a local councillor.

Left Archive: Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy Document – Social Democrats, 2018 August 17, 2020

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Social Democrats - Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy Document

To download the above please click on the following link: Sexual-and-Reproductive-Health-Policy-4

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This policy document from the Social Democrats is the first example from the party to be added to the archive. Formed in 2015 by Independent TDs Catherine Murphy and Stephen Donnelly (who later left to join Fianna Fáil), and former Labour TD Roisín Shortall, the Social Democrats since built to hold six Dáil seats, and 19 local council seats.

This Sexual and Reproductive Health policy document dates from just before the repeal of the 8th amendment in 2018. The document opens:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. The WHO recognises that the concept of health refers to far more than just the absence of disease or infirmity. It includes reproductive health, or sexual health, and addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life. The definition recognises that reproductive health refers to one’s ability to conduct a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life. Inherent in that are the rights of people to choose if and when they reproduce. In order to vindicate those health rights, it is incumbent on a society to provide information on and access to safe effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation and to appropriate healthcare services that will enable people to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth maximising the likelihood of a healthy birth.

Unsurprisingly the party present a clear position in favour of repeal of the 8th amendment, and provision of abortion services:

The Social Democrats strongly support the holding of a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution and will campaign strongly in favour of a repeal vote.

[…]

We will advocate for legislation which allows termination on request up to 12 weeks gestation, which would be provided within the public healthcare system. After this 12 week period, we believe legislation should allow terminations on the advice of medical professionals where the mental and/or physical health of a woman is at risk or where there is a fatal foetal abnormality.

It also positions abortion within the wider context of reproductive health and choice, calling for better healthcare provision for infertility and maternity care, and more accessible contraception (“The Social Democrats believe that contraception should be: Affordable; VAT exempt; Readily available”).

It further calls for a more complete sexuality education programme:

The Social Democrats advocate the drawing up of a holistic comprehensive sexuality education programme that is age-appropriate and that integrates key components such as:

• Body positivity
• Gender identity and gender expression
• Relationships
• Sexual orientation
• Fertility
• Consent awareness and sexual rights
• Sexual and reproductive health
• Sexual pleasure
• STI Education and prevention
• Safety on social and digital media in the context of sexuality

Please note: If files have been posted for or to other online archives previously we would appreciate if we could be informed of that. We always wish to credit same where applicable or simply provide links.

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