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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Funeral for a Friend April 10, 2021

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There was a section in the Plaid Cymru manifesto that they were in favour of Wales entering The Eurovision Song Contest. So inspired I picked a Welsh band for This Weekend. Funeral for a Friend are a Welsh band from Bridgend that were formed in 2001. They had some success between 2003 and 2009 and in 2016 Broke up, although they reformed in 2019.

Radiators… April 9, 2021

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This evening there’s an interview with Pete Holiday and Steve Rapid (Averill) of the The Radiators From Space amdn DJ Karl Tsigdinos online – details of which can be found on the band’s social media feeds, the Facebook/Instragram pages of Virtus Promotions ( a new promotion company of the students at Ballyfermot College of Further Education ), all this as part of a reissue of the band’s materials.

Jason O’Toole also has an interview with Holidai and Rapid in the Mirror and notes:

The Radiators have enjoyed a strong relationship with Bono and (Electric) co ever since their founding member Steve Averill, aka Stephen Rapid, came up with the name U2. 

“Yes, for my sins,” quipped Stephen, who also just happened to design many of U2’s most iconic album covers. 

“I’ve been asked a few times to come up with names for bands.” 

Steve – who alongside Pete will participate in a live Q&A session on Zoom tonight to celebrate their first album TV Tube Heart being reissued on 10” yellow vinyl – found inspiration for his own band’s name when flicking through a brochure for radiators. 

Pete recalled: “I think we’d change our name every week. Roxette was one! Thank God we didn’t keep Roxette is all I can say.

They fondly remember Phil Chevron…and it’s amazing how intricately linked they were to the developments happening in the UK during this period:

Philip arrived for his audition on a Honda 50, which is reminiscent of Joe The Lips character from The Commitments turning up on a motorbike at Jimmy Rabbitte’s home. 

“He was on the Honda, because he was a messenger and he decided, ‘I’m just popping out of the office for a little while’,” Pete said.

Steve added: “Philip was one of the only people we’d ever met who’d seen The Sex Pistols in the 100 Club. 

“So he knew the areas we were heading for. Now, punk wasn’t a big word. Nobody knew what punk was about – we just called ourselves ‘high energy rock’.

Amazingly:

The band broke up two years after their second album (1979) failed to set the world alight, which still remains a great mystery because it always ranks without fail in every music critics top 10 best Irish albums of all time – including my own last year. 

They finally released their third album Trouble Pilgrim in 2006. 

Pete said: “People said it’s almost like the missing link between by TV Tube Heart and Ghostown  – it’s got the best of both on that one album.”

Great interview and a lot more in there.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series April 9, 2021

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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?

Shame April 9, 2021

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Interesting piece on Slate.com about the uses of shame in the context of the pandemic, that is in regard to those who break restrictions and the response that should be made to them. To sum it up briefly – so far voices have been very much arranged against shaming people for such actions – but this piece argues the opposite…

Shame is a form of punishment that derives its power from depriving you of your reputation within the society. When people make blanket proclamations that we should not shame others, what they are criticizing, in a very real way, is the ability to make and enforce social norms. Many of those articles that warn against shame, do so partly because COVID-19 is a systemic issue, but that ignores that even in the presence of clear rules and support, it still requires a bit of social cohesion. And as one popular meme points out: Wearing a mask is a lot like wearing pants. The reason many of us don’t stroll through town naked is not because we fear arrest but because we fear shame. It’s worth noting that early research suggests that collectivist cultures—which tend to employ shame more—better contained COVID early on in their outbreaks.

It does seem strange that those who do break restrictions should suffer no ramifications whatsoever – and it does feel – though this is subjective, as if this is a function or product of individualisation of what should be collective responses.

Classics of their kind… April 9, 2021

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Before getting to the topic above, interesting to see a degree of pushback from the Minister for Health on the articles about transmission of the virus in the outdoors.

The Minister also warned that the figure of only one Covid case of transmission per 1,000 was transmitted outdoors had to be looked at carefully as it did not include transmission in dressing rooms etc.

Nphet produced a lot of information, he said, they looked at cluster profiles, outbreak types and he believed they would broadly be in agreement that outdoors was better than indoors.

Can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Minister but sensible to be cautious at this point.

Meanwhile, the IT outdid itself here. A piece entitled ‘Lockdown quandary: We must commit to keeping schools open this time’ with the subhead of ‘Closures resulted in children suffering from depression, hunger and even violence’ which when one reads it says almost exactly the opposite, stating explicitly half way through ‘Yet, when it comes to focusing on children, the answer may not be “keep schools open, come what may”.’ And goes on to point to the fact children are not immune to the virus and neither are parents. Indeed the overall thrust is that to ensure schools are safe broader reopening should be put on the back-burner until there are sufficient people vaccinated.

Then there’s this article at the weekend in the IT entitled ‘Visitors head west for Easter despite lockdown’. Quite a piece it was. Here’s some quotes:

More than most parts of the island, the western seaboard relies on visitors to boost local economies. In many instances, visiting families have established deep roots where they holiday, sometimes over many years and through several generations.

Which is why Covid makes visiting under current conditions all so difficult, not to say against the regulations. No one wants to give the cold shoulder and no one wants to turn away business. Equally, however, no one wants to see a life-threatening virus inflicted on their community.

While people are anxious about Covid being brought into the community (and the word locally is there have been no cases for about a month), he has more concerns about visitors from overseas.

He says there would be mixed feelings locally at the prospect of a major influx of visitors – which, in any event, is against regulations as they exist.

This time last year, visitors would not have been welcomed into the area, he says. Now, however, “there’s a level of fed-upness” and some visiting will be tolerated, he says.

During the post-Christmas surge, some 30 people on the island contracted Covid. Louisburgh itself has not been hit badly but it has had casualties. Local undertaker Peter Sweeney estimates about four cases in the first half of 2019, with the same again over the summer and seven or eight cases before Christmas. “It was all brought in,” he suggests. “One was a trip to Belmullet [in the north of the county] and another I know was from a trip to the North.” He adds: “We’ve had no Covid cases since Christmas and we’d want to keep it that way. We don’t have a problem with people coming in… if they play by the rules.”

Some mix of things in there – from the sort of muffled references to ‘against regulations’ on to some of the attitudes expressed. Btw for quite a lot of people in this society the mention of holiday homes owned by some of the ‘visitors’ must be all but fantastical.

April issue of Socialist Voice April 8, 2021

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The April issue of Socialist Voice is now available online: https://socialistvoice.ie/category/article/latest/

or pdf: https://socialistvoice.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/SV-2021-04.pdf

Nursing-home deaths – Who is responsible?

  by Raymond Ó Dúbhghaill

As was reported in Socialist Voice in September 2020, the apparently systematic transfer of acute hospital patients to nursing homes, and the ensuing outbreaks and deaths, constitute a scandal of drastic proportions for the Irish state. The facts surrounding this tragic situation require analysis, while official reports have been criticised for taking […]

Left for unity: unity for strength

  by Jimmy Doran

Unity is indeed strength. We must ensure that the strength gained from Irish unity is for the working class. The partition of Ireland was an imperial solution as a result of the British empire beginning to crumble at the beginning of the last century. The British empire has been confined […]

How long will they get away with it?

  by Raymond Ó Dúbhghaill

Two instructive headlines from the bourgeois financial news web site Business Insider give an indication of how the balance of global wealth has shifted since the covid-19 pandemic began in early 2020. The first: “Billionaires made $3.9 trillion during the pandemic,” informing us that the likes of the Victorian workhouse […]

Caomhnóir ina shabaitéir

  by Dónall Ó Briain

An bhliain seo caite méadaíodh 74 faoin gcéad ar bhrabús an chomhlachta phríobháidigh othar­charr is mó sa tír, Lifeline Ambulance Service. Is le David Hall, a bhain cáil amach cheana mar fheachtasóir morgáiste, an comhlacht.

The broad front: alliances, compromises, and principles | A republican view

  by Barry Murray

Socialist republicans and progressive forces are at a crossroads, at a time of potential momentous change in Ireland. And change, however slowly, always results in a reconsideration of positions previously taken. Human history is replete with the consequences and indeed the dialectic of change. It is only when we look back that […]

Marxism and the housing crisis

  by David Hartery

“Our cities can never be made really habitable or worthy of an enlightened people while the habitations of its citizens remain the property of private individuals. To permanently remedy the evils of city life the citizens must own their city.” (James Connolly, Workers’ Republic, 18 November 1899) “The so-called housing shortage, which […]

The militarisation of the European Union grows apace – Part 2

  by Dorian Ó Seanáin

According to its high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, the EU at present has 5,000 troops stationed around the world under its aegis.¹ Most of its operations are based in Africa (as shown in part 1 of this article). However, the EU’s most significant operation on the European continent […]

The last acceptable form of racism| Part 2

  by Jimmy Corcoran

In part 1 of this article (Socialist Voice, March 2021) I used official statistics showing the gap between Travellers and society in general in health, employment, and educational achievement. Travellers die earlier, have greater ill-health, have lower educational qualifications, have higher unemployment and have more overcrowding and poorer housing than society […]

Climate change: No longer a peripheral issue

  by Sajeev Kumar

T. S. Elliott wrote in “Choruses from ‘The Rock’” (1934): Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? We have all the knowledge and information about climate change, but the capitalist system doesn’t allow us to act with wisdom. As a […]

Drugs: A weapon of imperialism

  by Graham Harrington

Narcotics are, in some ways, just like any other commodity. Be it oil, natural gas, sugar, or coffee, under capitalism their purpose is to allow profits to be made. Hyper-consumerism has led to unequal levels of development in the Global North and South, social alienation in domestic markets, and environmental […]

A view from rural Ireland

  by Joe Hurley

The CAP talks have stalled. That means no new environmental schemes until the powers that be, the parties to the negotiations, are all in bed with big-money capitalism. The result, of course, will benefit large corporations and factories, not small or medium farmers, meat-factory workers, or all the rural workers. […]

“Peter and the Wolf” — A work of socialist realism

  by Jenny Farrell

One of Sergei Prokofiev’s most famous compositions is Peter and the Wolf (1936). Natalya Sats, then director of the Moscow Musical Theatre for Children, had commissioned this work to introduce children to some of the instruments of the orchestra, and to classical music. Prokofiev had met Sats while taking his […]

A valuable contribution

  by Tommy McKearney

■ Patrick Magee, Where Grieving Begins: Building Bridges after the Brighton Bomb (London: Pluto Press, 2021) Patrick Magee’s memoir is an insight into both his personal history and what was for decades the harsh experience of life for Northern Ireland’s non-unionist community. Although he will forever be identified with the […]

Time to stop pandering to the rich

  by Damien McKenna

On 11 December 2019 the EU Commission adopted the “European New Green Deal,” with the aim of continued growth coupled to a climate-neutral, fair and prosperous society by 2050. On 19 December the same year the Circular Economy Action Plan was passed by the Commission. Its aim is to replace […]

“Shared western values”

  by Declan McKenna

Rich countries, with 14 per cent of the world’s population, have secured 53 per cent of the “Western” covid vaccines. Meanwhile you have to search hard for information on vaccines being produced or tested in other countries, including Russia and Cuba. Almost all the Pfizer-Biontech vaccines will go to rich […]

Opinion – In defence of China: A response

  by Dónall Ó Briain

The article by Alan Farrell in the March issue under the heading “In defence of China” raises some extremely important questions but offers answers that are unsustainable. The writer asks three questions to represent the concerns expressed by many people, and proceeds to answer them. But the questions themselves are […]

No tactics, no strategy, so what’s the point? April 8, 2021

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An excellent article in the Newsletter from Alex Kane which really cuts to the heart of things as regards the events we’ve seen in recent nights. Discussing the rioting he notes that none of it will have any impact on the protocol or the fate of the Chief Constable of the PSNI.

And he asks:

Or was it something more deep-rooted than that: a growing sense across and within the loyalist communities (loyalism has always been heterogeneous, by the way, which may explain why it has so many kinds of paramilitary groups) that they had been left behind, with precious little to show in the way of tangible socio/economic/educational/employment et al benefits?

If that is true, then where should the finger of blame be pointed? Is it the fault of Sinn Fein and the SDLP that the rates of educational underachievement are higher in loyalist areas than elsewhere? Is it the fault of republicanism that unemployment rates are often higher in loyalist areas than elsewhere? Is it the fault of the Irish government that loyalist paramilitary groups are recruiting, while also knee deep in criminal activity?

He asks is it the fault of the GFA/BA that unionists are now a minority in the Assembly, or that ‘a significant number of voters who once voted for unionist parties have now shifted to Alliance?’

He points to loyalism being failed by mainstream unionism – rolled out to play a certain part, and then quickly sidelined when it becomes inconvenient or unnecessary – this has happened time and time and time again. And he states flatly that “It will be left behind again once some sort of resolution is reached on the protocol (which will happen).”

His proposition? That loyalism does two key things. Firstly see more representatives of loyalism elected – secondly, break the link between paramilitarism and political loyalism. Few of us would disagree “that the voices and interests of tens of thousands of ordinary working class loyalists need to be heard”. Is it likely to happen as long as those working class loyalists allow the DUP to be their proxy? One has to think not. But if this is genuinely a time where matters are being reshaped, where even if unity isn’t a prospect immediately or for some time, it is clear that dynamics are in play and not merely on this island that will see future dispensations perhaps radically different from the present. Many would see it as vital that loyalists do contribute to ensuring that their voice is heard in those processes. 

Unstable government? April 8, 2021

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Reading this on the Guardian just before the weekend – an overview of the Irish government’s travails, which was framed in the context of the authority of the government fraying, a question struck me. Is the government under any serious pressure at this point? Pat Leahy has been banging the drum along the lines of if the vaccination programme falters or worse, or if the society doesn’t open up on foot of that (or one earlier to some degree – a particular bugbear of his) then the government might fall.

But is that likely? The component parts – however much they may dislike the position they find themselves in – do not appear to have anything to gain from breaking the government at this point. Not with a large rival waiting outside the gate in the form of SF. Their own popularity, bar FG’s, is not high. But what alternative is there for them?

Interestingly the piece notes:

Ireland’s vaccination level is slightly above Europe’s average, and well above average for those aged over 80. The government hopes a dramatic increase in supply in April, May and June will permit significant loosening of restrictions.

“This summer our businesses and our public services will safely reopen,” said Martin. “We will finally be meeting and enjoying the company of friends and family once again. We will be able to travel within and enjoy our beautiful country again.”

That depends on vaccine supply and public adherence to restrictions, two factors beyond the government’s control.

So is that the position, that if late-Summer rolls around and things are in crisis, the government might fall?

Scotland partitioned? April 7, 2021

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Thanks to JH for the link to the following:

Parts of Scotland should be able to vote to remain in the United Kingdom after a pro-independence referendum in a follow-up vote, George Galloway has declared.

The plan for a second vote that would allow regions of Scotland to reverse a pro-independence majority are part of the former Labour MP’s manifesto for his pro-UK All for Unity party in the Holyrood elections.

Galloway said the proposal allowing for the effective partition of Scotland would mean “the country would be eating itself” after a vote for independence.

And:

He added: “It’s not my view, I wouldn’t wish it to happen, but it would be an extraordinary irony if the break up of Britain gave birth to forces which then began to break up Scotland. The country would be eating itself.”

Hmmmm.

Expert opinion? April 7, 2021

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Entertaining to see a familiar voice emerge last week yet again from the political wilderness that is FF and offer opinion about the pandemic. Marc MacSharry had his fire trained on the government, on everyone.

The Government’s proposed timescale for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions has been criticised as lacking ambition by a Fianna Fáil backbench TD.

And:

“It’s ‘live horse and get grass’  and ‘things will get better’ and ‘in about two years time we can all look forward to eating al fresco, two people per acre while it is raining,” he said.

Mr MacSharry added that there is still no one in charge of the vaccine roll-out. “Once there is plausible deniability, everyone gets blamed,” he said.

And in a way he was right, given he then laid into his own FF Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.

But if none of the above makes any coherent sense – well perhaps that’s a feature, not a glitch, because the purpose of the exercise isn’t to offer an alternative (MacSharry tried that two or three times before – only to see the virus itself show up the vacuousness of his opinions). There’s a lot of that about.

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