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Statement of New EU President’s Sister November 23, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in European Politics, Lisbon Treaty.
3 comments

People first, not profit. Also in Europe!

Brussels, 20th November 2009

I am happy that my brother will be president of Europe. It is an honour for him and for our family.

Last week, Herman became the grandfather of Jasper, son of his daughter Laura. Three days ago, I became the proud grandmother of Charlotte, daughter of my daughter Femke. These two grandchildren were a sign for me: Herman would indeed becoming president of Europe. And so it happened. My brother has been elected president. I will see him this Sunday, when our brother Eric celebrates his 60th birthday. I bought Herman two presents. First of all, a Cuban cigar for the brand-new grandfather. He will have plenty of opportunities to smoke an end of a party cigar. Then, for Herman the politician, another surprise, a pretty little box with inside it the recipe for what we call the millionaire’s tax: “this product will change your life”. The millionaire’s tax demands that 2% of the population, the 2 % who are the richest, pay a tax of 2% on their wealth. This can help us towards a Europe for the people instead of a Europe of dividends for the happy few shareholders. I am proud to be the ambassador of the millionaire’s tax campaign, and we are looking for thousands of ‘fans’ for this tax.

As a nurse and an active trade unionist, I live among ordinary people. And they don’t like this European Union that does not care about them. The EU is often bad news, it is all about competition and business. Our capitalist system sells speculation soap bubbles that drive banks into bankruptcy. When the whole system almost went down, all of a sudden billions were found to save it. At the same time, many people have lost their jobs. The EU is pushing for more and more privatisation. In Great-Britain, where the process has been carried the farthest, British rail has been privatised: trains are late and the quality of the service has greatly deteriorated (except for the High Speed trains). Electricity has been liberalised, and is more expensive now. The energy industry is making billions of profits.

Europe has to make a choice. And my brother Herman will also have to make a choice. Who will pay for the economic crisis? Who will pay for all the billions that were used to save the banks and have deepened public deficits? It will be either the working people, or those who are responsible for this crisis. I want the millionaire’s tax in the whole of Europe, because then the average citizen will not have to make sacrifices. We need jobs, everywhere in Europe. The millionaire’s tax can create jobs. The benefits of this tax programme will create jobs in health care and education, it can help develop a green economy and a European social security system as well as a public scientific research programme (instead of a private one that serves private profits).

We can see the consequences of competition in Belgian care for the elderly. Over the past five years, no less than 10 000 public rest home beds were bought out by the commercial sector. The private owners operate them on a strictly financial basis and make huge profits in a sector which has so many unsatisfied needs. Father Damian, “Saint Damian” since a few weeks ago, lived in Tremelo, a small village 10 kilometres from where I live. There is an old people’s home named after Father Damian, but it has been bought by the commercial Senior Living Group. Last year, 28 million euros were transferred to its shareholders. 28 millions, that is the yearly pay of 620 nurses. No, we cannot allow profits to be made out of weak and old people. Privatisation leads to expensive old people’s homes for the haves and disgraceful places for the have-nots. Privatisation pulls down quality care.

We need more money for old people’s homes and day-care centres. I want a Europe that allows governments to subsidise those. I want to be able to send my granddaughter to a day-care centre without having to worry about quality. I want my government to supervise this quality unlike in Holland, where the government withdrew its supervision of private day-care centres.

I work at the Gasthuisberg University Hospital in the city of Leuven, the biggest European hospital with more than 8000 employees. Health Care is a basic right. No profits should be made out of the sick, the needy, the elderly… European politicians take decisions in their ivory tower, but fortunately we still have many alternative bright ideas that we can put into practice together with trade-unions, NGOs and progressive political parties.

People first, not profit. Also in Europe!

Left Reactions to the Referendum Result October 3, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Lisbon Treaty.
65 comments

Just some links to reactions from left organisations to the Treaty result, inspired by Conor McCabe sticking statements up in full on Dublin Opinion.

People Voted for Economic Recovery and Jobs, not the Lisbon Treaty – The People’s Movement

Lisbon Vote is a Victory of the Powerful over the People – The Workers’ Party

a substantial minority of our people refused to be bribed and to sell their independence. – Communist Party

Yes Vote will have Grave Consequences for Ireland and Europe – People Before Profit Alliance

Thanks to Shane in the comments for pointing out that Joe Higgins has tweeted about the result.

Thanks to D_D for the full text of the CAEUC statement in the comments also linked here Electorate bullied into Yes vote – CAEUC

Thanks to Mark P for pointing to the Socialist Party response in this video.

Nothing on the Labour Party or Socialist Party websites as yet, nor on any trade union sites I looked at. Will put them up when I see them, or if people put them in the comments zone if they are aware of them.

(Unexpected) Thoughts on Lisbon October 1, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Lisbon Treaty.
14 comments

lisbon2009poster

Guest post from John O’Farrell, former campaigner for pro-European issues. (we’ve been covering the No side in depth recently so perhaps to even it up a bit… I’m near certain Garibaldy will have something to say this evening from the other side of the fence).

F**k you very much WBS. Here’s me minding my own business of a Thursday evening when I call into Cedar Lounge and see this. So I guess I’d better write something then. I think at this juncture that there’s not really much I can say that I haven’t said in one form or another already in a post or in the comments. Or that other people won’t have raised. Then again, I would never have expected to see the argument that a Yes vote was a slap in the face to the southern political class. However, being a fan of Monty Python, I should perhaps expect the surreal.

I’ve stuck that image of the poster at the top of the post as a handy way of reminding people why it’s important to vote No. The first and perhaps most fundamental point is the means being used to pass this Treaty. The Treaty itself began life, we should remember, as a means of rescuing the European Constitution after it was rejected by the votes of the French and Dutch peoples. It was and is an anti-democratic measure. That this is the second time that the people of the Republic are having to vote on it is just an almost parodic proof of something we already knew. So, to defend democracy at this fundamental level (even regardless of what the Treaty actually says), it’s a No.

Then of course there is the issue of how the Treaty affects the way the EU is run, and what it’s purpose is. This gives added weight to the larger countries in decision making, and further centralises power. Not least of course in relation to military and foreign affairs. We hear a lot about the need to tighten out belts. And yet the government – and virtually every political party in the Dáil – tells us that we should sign up to this Treaty, which commits us to spend on keeping Irish military equipment commensurate with that of other EU countries. Why should we? I’d rather the money was spent on sorting out the crisis in the hospitals than buying shiny new personnel carriers to support French interests in its former colony of Chad. Despite the assault on Irish neutrality from many quarters, it is something to be proud of. It has allowed Ireland to play a positive role in world affairs, mainly but not exclusively through the UN. I have no problem with the Republic playing an active role in world affairs, but the proper forum for it is through the UN, and not the EU.

And of course there are the issues of economic regulations and of workers’ rights. I would not deny that the EU has had some positive impact in the issue of social legislation. But the Charter is in my view a con. I don’t see what it gives workers that does not already exist in reality, and the Treaty’s commitment to competition is a serious impediment to the freedom of any government to launch the type of sustained job creation schemes that are necessary to create sustainable high value jobs that are not dependent on the whim of international capital. There are indeed economic realities to be faced up to. The conditions that created the Celtic Tiger are gone forever. Central and eastern European countries are now the most attractive EU countries for inward investment. The last thing the Republic needs is to tie the hands of future governments still further.

Those are the basic reasons that I think people should vote No. Now, usually I would agree with Puff Daddy that those considering abstaining have a duty to vote (you know who you are). However, if you’re planning to vote Yes, I would say don’t bother. You’re going to win anyway. So take the time to play with the kids or get a pint instead. Everybody else, get out there and vote No.

No Free Speech for, um, the No Campaign September 30, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Lisbon Treaty.
2 comments

Just spotted this statement courtesy of sometime contributor here Thoreau at politics.ie. A Fianna Fáil councillor in Wexford has been spotten taking down No posters in New Ross, with over 10% of the People’s Movement posters in the area having been pulled down. The individual responsible has been reported to Gardaí. We all know this sort of thing goes on at election time, but nice to see that someone has been caught in the act. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. I doubt we’ll see a resignation from the council or an explusion from FF but you never know.

Fight! Fight! Fight! September 27, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Irish Labour Party, Lisbon Treaty.
8 comments

In the blue corner, Declan Ganley. In the slightly more red corner, Prionsias De Rossa. Allegedly

The Northern Wing of The Yes Campaign. September 26, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Lisbon Treaty.
23 comments

Over at Sluggerotoole, Conall Mc Devitt of OConall Street has linked a letter he and other “prominent business, academic and NGO figures” signed in today’s Irish Times advocating a ‘Yes’ vote. I have to say that the letter made me quite angry. But not as angry as Mark McGregor, who has kindly agreed to allow me to use his comment on the Sluggertoole thread as a guestpost here.

The bit that interests me is the hypocracy that will see this lauded by the YES side who have been treating the UKIP intervention as a stick to beat the NO side with.

As Gari notes it is also based on lies and not just the one he notes:

Our common membership of the European Union since 1973 has been crucial to the achievement of reconciliation and political stability in Northern Ireland, to the development of North-South relations, and to successful co-operation between the Republic and the United Kingdom

All that, to the level it exists, is due to negotiations and secret agreements between the PRM, the British and the Irish put in train in secret in the mid 80s. Europe had no part in any of it. The key and main factor of it was the Adams camp delivering a defeated republican movement into a partitionist settlement.

Continued membership at the heart of the European Union will help us, North and South, to grow together and to face in partnership the huge economic, social and environmental challenges of the years ahead. This is enabled by our common membership of the European Union and enhanced by the new possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty.

False. Lisbon does not in any way address problems and disparity in all-Ireland economics and does not address the differences including currency and banking systems. It has nothing that promotes more partnership, not a single thing.

A second No would bring Ireland’s continued membership of the Union into unknown territory.

That is just a pure lie based on scaremongering. Those advancing it should be ashamed.

It risks unsettling and destabilising our common membership of the European Union which has been so helpful to us in the past and so necessary to us in the future.

More utter ballix. Those involved are yet again lying.

We are committed to a future of positively developing relations within Northern Ireland, between North and South and between Ireland and the United Kingdom. We are convinced that a Yes vote is the best way to underpin and secure that future

Gibberish. This treaty has nothing to do with North South relationships.

A bigger pile of steaming horse manure I have yet to read on Lisbon. It addresses not a single issue involved and makes up issues that have no bearing as reasons to support it.

Those involved mainly benefit from EU funding – perhaps this is the reason they’d invent such a vacuous argument for endorsement.

Shame on the lot of them. Bloody bullshitters.

So there.

A smack on the head is just what you get: Cóir, Youth Defence and the Catholic Right September 22, 2009

Posted by smiffy in Lisbon Treaty.
39 comments
Whatever your views on the Lisbon Treaty, pro or anti, I think everyone on here who is both honest and sane would agree that its ratification won’t bring about the introduction of abortion in Ireland.  This post is about neither the Treaty itself nor abortion.
With that in mind, I’d suggest that this week’s ‘Lisbon Treaty Sheer Brass Neck’ award should go to Niamh Uí Bhriain of Cóir.  Responding to Bishop Noel Treanor’s statement that there is no religious reason for a Catholic to oppose the Treaty, she said
“Bishop Treanor’s intervention was quite extraordinary,” she said. “He threw himself into political campaigning because of his support for the treaty.
“But, worst of all, he felt free to misrepresent and attack No campaigners. I would remind the Bishop that the days of belting Irish citizens with the crozier are thankfully long gone,” she said.
The irony of Cóir accusing others of misrepresentation, and of Uí Bhriain seemingly celebrating the declining influence of the Catholic Church is funny enough, but not enough to clinch the prize.  Instead, she gets it from the crozier remark.  Those of us who know Niamh Uí Bhriain as Niamh Nic Mhathúna, founder of Youth Defence, and who remember the tactics of her and her buddies in the early 1990s might be allowed a raised eyebrow at her new-found aversion to belting people with sticks.
More seriously, those commentators and letter-writers who consider the Bishop’s statement (and today’s from the Conference of Bishops) to represent a refutation of Cóir, or who find it odd that fundamentalist Catholics would position themselves in opposition to the Church hierarchy completely fail to understand the nature of Cóir (or, more correctly, the Cóir-Youth Defence-Family and Life collective of organisations, operating out of Life House on Capel Street) and what has happened to the Catholic right in Ireland over the last 15 years.  In fact, the emergence of Cóir in the second referendum (and in the absence of Libertas) as arguably the most visible organisation campaigning against the Treaty, and possibly the most influential group on the Catholic right is one of the most intriguing developments in Irish politics in recent years.
It should come as no surprise that Cóir and the Bishops find themselves on opposing sides, as its earlier incarnation, Youth Defence, was established as a direct rival to the mainstream, respectable Catholic organisations – the likes of SPUC, Pro-Life Campaign, Family Solidarity – which dominated the ‘liberal agenda’ battles of the 1980s.  The founding myth of Youth Defence is that they originated a group of young people, worried about babies in the weeks after the ‘X’ case first came to light, who spontaneously came togehter and went onto Michael Cleary’s (thank you, historical irony) radio show seeking support.  The story’s here (http://www.youthdefence.ie/am_cms_media/pc19920224irishcatholicswf.swf) on the Youth Defence website, which is actually pretty good.
The truth is somewhat different.  The founding members were closely associated with – in some cases the children of – individuals like Una Bean “Wife-Swapping-Sodomites” Mhic Mathuna, and Mena Bean Uí Chribín (of Santry Woods Post Office cum Marian Shrine).  These people had been involved in the abortion and divorce campaigns in the 1980s, but by the early 1990s were considered so extreme by the more respectable Catholic right (William Binchy, John O’Reilly, Des Hanafin et al) that they were seen as a liability in an Ireland which had elected Mary Robinson.  While the crazies certainly attracted the support of individual clergy, the Catholic hierarchy shared the reservations of their lay-colleagues, and tended to give them a wide berth.  In return, the Youth Defence crew never showed any great deference to the bishops, or any particular respect to the right-wing great and good.
While they were still a relatively marginal force in the 1992 abortion referendum, they grew in significance over the next decade.  Unlike the Pro-Life Campaign, they remained extremely active between referenda, including a direct, distasteful involvement in the C case, and violent action occupation of IFPA and Marie Stopes clinics.  They grew in influence in the 1995 divorce referendum as in the form of the No Divorce Campaign (responsible for the infamous ‘Hello Divorce, Bye Bye Daddy’ posters) they made a significant impact on public opinion in the course of the campaign, arguably overtaking the Anti-Divorce Campaign in influence.  The 2002 abortion referendum represented a significant turning point, as unlike in 1992, they stood in direct opposition to the Pro-Life Campaign, which advocated a Yes vote.  While, of course, Youth Defence can’t claim credit for the defeat of that referendum, they were certainly a major factor in getting an anti-choice No vote out, without which the amendment would most likely have passed.
None of this is going to come as news to anyone on here.  However, what I find so fascinating about Cóir is that at a time when the popular influence of the Catholic Church is ebbing, and the mainstream lay-Catholic pressure groups are becoming more and more marginal, this far-right fundamentalist organisation has managed to maintain its position as a significant political player in the State.  Interestingly, despite its consistent street presence, and ability to push its message so vociferously during referendum campaigns, its electoral ambitions remain modest. Apart from the odd misjudged adventure such as Justin Barrett’s European campaign, or its links with Libertas over the summer, it’s never shown much ambition to engage in parliamentary politics.  This may be due to a reluctance to open its finances to the kind of increased attention such a move would involve, but one wonders what the prospects of a Cóir Dáil candidate would be if they put their minds to it.
To the best of my knowledge (and I’d love to be corrected on this), the growth of Youth Defence has never been the subject of a sustained work of political analysis.  Emily O’Reilly’s ‘Masterminds of the Right’, while slim, was a good account of the role of the Catholic right in the 1970s and 1980s.  However, it was published in 1992, just before the emergence of Youth Defence, and the political context has changed immeasurably since then. As, like most of the readership of this site, I work my way through ‘The Lost Revolution’, it strikes me that there’s a very important untold story – perhaps a book – in the development of the wider Youth Defence movement, and what it means for the future Catholic political activism in Ireland.

Whatever your views on the Lisbon Treaty, pro or anti, I think everyone on here who is both honest and sane would agree that its ratification won’t bring about the introduction of abortion in Ireland.  This post is about neither the Treaty itself nor abortion.

With that in mind, I’d suggest that this week’s ‘Lisbon Treaty Sheer Brass Neck’ award should go to Niamh Uí Bhriain of Cóir.  Responding to Bishop Noel Treanor’s statement that there is no religious reason for a Catholic to oppose the Treaty, she said

“Bishop Treanor’s intervention was quite extraordinary,” she said. “He threw himself into political campaigning because of his support for the treaty.

“But, worst of all, he felt free to misrepresent and attack No campaigners. I would remind the Bishop that the days of belting Irish citizens with the crozier are thankfully long gone,” she said.

The irony of Cóir accusing others of misrepresentation, and of Uí Bhriain seemingly celebrating the declining influence of the Catholic Church is funny enough, but not enough to clinch the prize.  Instead, she gets it from the crozier remark.  Those of us who know Niamh Uí Bhriain as Niamh Nic Mhathúna, founder of Youth Defence, and who remember the tactics of her and her buddies in the early 1990s might be allowed a raised eyebrow at her new-found aversion to belting people with sticks.

More seriously, those commentators and letter-writers who consider the Bishop’s statement (and today’s from the Conference of Bishops) to represent a refutation of Cóir, or who find it odd that fundamentalist Catholics would position themselves in opposition to the Church hierarchy completely fail to understand the nature of Cóir (or, more correctly, the Cóir-Youth Defence-Family and Life collective of organisations, operating out of Life House on Capel Street) and what has happened to the Catholic right in Ireland over the last 15 years.  In fact, the emergence of Cóir in the second referendum (and in the absence of Libertas) as arguably the most visible organisation campaigning against the Treaty, and possibly the most influential group on the Catholic right is one of the most intriguing developments in Irish politics in recent years.

It should come as no surprise that Cóir and the Bishops find themselves on opposing sides, as its earlier incarnation, Youth Defence, was established as a direct rival to the mainstream, respectable Catholic organisations – the likes of SPUC, Pro-Life Campaign, Family Solidarity – which dominated the ‘liberal agenda’ battles of the 1980s.  The founding myth of Youth Defence is that they originated a group of young people, worried about babies in the weeks after the ‘X’ case first came to light, who spontaneously came togehter and went onto Michael Cleary’s (thank you, historical irony) radio show seeking support.  The story’s here on the Youth Defence website, which is actually pretty good.

The truth is somewhat different.  The founding members were closely associated with – in some cases the children of – individuals like Una Bean “Wife-Swapping-Sodomites” Mhic Mathuna, and Mena Bean Uí Chribín (of Santry Woods Post Office cum Marian Shrine).  These people had been involved in the abortion and divorce campaigns in the 1980s, but by the early 1990s were considered so extreme by the more respectable Catholic right (William Binchy, John O’Reilly, Des Hanafin et al) that they were seen as a liability in an Ireland which had elected Mary Robinson.  While the crazies certainly attracted the support of individual clergy, the Catholic hierarchy shared the reservations of their lay-colleagues, and tended to give them a wide berth.  In return, the Youth Defence crew never showed any great deference to the bishops, or any particular respect to the right-wing great and good.

While they were still a relatively marginal force in the 1992 abortion referendum, they grew in significance over the next decade.  Unlike the Pro-Life Campaign, they remained extremely active between referenda, including a direct, distasteful involvement in the C case, and violent action occupation of IFPA and Marie Stopes clinics.  They grew in influence in the 1995 divorce referendum as in the form of the No Divorce Campaign (responsible for the infamous ‘Hello Divorce, Bye Bye Daddy’ posters) they made a significant impact on public opinion in the course of the campaign, arguably overtaking the Anti-Divorce Campaign in influence.  The 2002 abortion referendum represented a significant turning point, as unlike in 1992, they stood in direct opposition to the Pro-Life Campaign, which advocated a Yes vote.  While, of course, Youth Defence can’t claim credit for the defeat of that referendum, they were certainly a major factor in getting an anti-choice No vote out, without which the amendment would most likely have passed.

None of this is going to come as news to anyone on here.  However, what I find so fascinating about Cóir is that at a time when the popular influence of the Catholic Church is ebbing, and the mainstream lay-Catholic pressure groups are becoming more and more marginal, this far-right fundamentalist organisation has managed to maintain its position as a significant political player in the State.  Interestingly, despite its consistent street presence, and ability to push its message so vociferously during referendum campaigns, its electoral ambitions remain modest. Apart from the odd misjudged adventure such as Justin Barrett’s European campaign, or its links with Libertas over the summer, it’s never shown much ambition to engage in parliamentary politics.  This may be due to a reluctance to open its finances to the kind of increased attention such a move would involve, but one wonders what the prospects of a Cóir Dáil candidate would be if they put their minds to it.

To the best of my knowledge (and I’d love to be corrected on this), the growth of Youth Defence has never been the subject of a sustained work of political analysis.  Emily O’Reilly’s ‘Masterminds of the Right’, while slim, was a good account of the role of the Catholic right in the 1970s and 1980s.  However, it was published in 1992, just before the emergence of Youth Defence, and the political context has changed immeasurably since then. As, like most of the readership of this site, I work my way through ‘The Lost Revolution’, it strikes me that there’s a very important untold story – perhaps a book – in the development of the wider Youth Defence movement, and what it means for the future of Catholic political activism in Ireland.

No Campaign Supports Eating Babies September 20, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Lisbon Treaty.
24 comments

And so it’s finally happened. Those demanding a Yes vote have finally sunk just about as low as they can go. And it will surprise no-one to find that this depth has been plumbed by none other than Jim Cusack of the Sunday Independent. Discussing the Congo, Cusack notes

A security source in the region who spoke to the Sunday Independent recently said that these practices are still going on. “They go into a village and kill most the adults. They rape the women before they kill them. They take the children with them. When they get hungry they cook them.”

Nothing on the colonial and political history of the Congo, its massive natural resources, nor of the outside interference there. Hmmm. I wonder why. Cusack also cites the example of the British action in Sierra Leone. Nothing about diamonds there either. Chad is held up as

a successful example of what a small, well-ordered Western force can achieve in a region torn apart by warring militias.

Nothing on the colonial history of Chad, nor of French interests there. Nor any comment on Somalia in 1993, nor to pick one example at random, Afghanistan, where the warring militias haven’t been doing too badly against a large western force. Once again I wonder why.

Those in favour of Lisbon have denied that it entails any commitment to militarisation. Well Cusack, who has strong links to the army in the south and acts as a publicity agent for them (as indeed he does in this piece), begs to differ.

The Lisbon Treaty actually has the effect of pushing the highly reticent EU member states to do more about places like these, proposing that EU states improve their military capability and engage in tasks such as “joint disarmament operations…military advice and assistance tasks … tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking and post conflict stabilization”.

So Cusack is in no doubt anyway that the aim of the Treaty is to make the EU an effective military power, even though many states within it don’t want it to be such. Food for thought for those who the Yes side I’d have thought. And what of the No campaigners? They

equate the proposals on military intervention to prevent genocide in third world countries to some kind of huge multi-national EU force bent on re-colonising the region.
The only “militarisation” being put forward is the type that would end the eating of children and the other horrific acts of genocides.

So there you have it. Vote Yes or you are directly responsible for the cannibalising of innocent children in Africa. You evil bastards.

Ruth Dudley Edwards on Lisbon September 19, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Lisbon Treaty.
8 comments

Today’s Telegraph has – as its editor’s top choice on the website no less – a piece by Ruth Dudley Edwards on the Lisbon Treaty. I can’t face writing a proper post on it, so I’ll just note the following quote

There is little rational discussion on Lisbon going on now, not least because the No groups are mainly republicans, the far-Left and Right-wing Catholics

Enjoy!

Slugger Essays on Lisbon September 18, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Lisbon Treaty.
add a comment

Just thought I would bring to people’s attention the fact that Mick Fealty at Sluggerotoole has organised a wide range of contributors (about 12 so far) to write pieces on the Lisbon Treaty from both Yes and No perspectives. It’s a very impressive list, and well worth checking out.

Sluggerotoole Lisbon Essays

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