Monthly Archives: February 2013

Free Stephen Murney protest, Belfast, this Saturday


Giving Labour what they deserve – Dundalk sets great example

by Shan Van Vocht

It was great to see Labour cabinet minister the wretched Joan Burton, who used to pretend to be some kind of leftie, having to abandon a speech at Marshes Shopping Centre in Dundalk on February 21.  Literally hundreds of anti-austerity protestors totally drowned her out, forcing her to abandon the speech and exit the shopping centre, followed by a great swathe of chanting protestors.

This is the sort of reception these Labour ratbags deserve every time they appear in public.  While Burton accused the protesters of sullying the image of Dundalk – doesn’t she just ooze bourgeois snobbery? – I say Go Dundalk!  What a great example you have set.

The role of the Labour Party, from pretty much the moment a British firing squad ended the life of James Connolly, has been to act as a protector of the interests of the 26-county state as an institution, its local ruling class and the imperialists who stand behind it – or over and above it much of the time.

Working class advance in the south is impossible without the complete destruction of this absolutely wretched abomination of a party.  The only attitudes that progressive workers can have to it are total contempt and class hatred.  I hope it gets obliterated at the next elections and that this time people’s memories are a lot longer than in the past, where a section of workers have forgiven and/or forgotten what this bunch of aspirant bourgeois have done while in power.

I can’t for the life of me fathom why a group with solid left politics like Read the rest of this entry

The February 9 protests: a critical perspective

Below is another excellent article from the Socialist Democracy website on the current state of the organised workinjg class movement’s resistance – and lack of resistance – to austerity.  It focuses on the disorienting role played by the ICTU leadership and the lack, at present, of a significant credible alternative to their betrayals.  As usual, however, John talks about socialist groups as if the only such groups groups are the gas-and-water SP and SWP.  In fact the largest forces for socialism in Ireland are the socialist republicans and, unlike the SP and SWP, they at least understand and totally oppose the treacherous role of the ICTU brass, although they may not have worked out how best to oppose these misleaders.  While Trotskyists rightly denounce Stalin’s airbrushing of Trotsky out of photos from the days of the Russian Revolution, rather too many Trotskyists are perfectly happy to airbrush socialist-republicanism out of the socialist movement in Ireland.  This nonsense needs to stop.

by John McAnulty

The threatened leak of the details of Ireland’s second bailout upset the Dail and forced a chaotic overnight sitting, although it later turned out that the terms of Ireland’s second bailout had not been affected – simply the speed of introduction.

However what was an embarrassment for the Irish bourgeois proved to be a catastrophe for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The reason?  They had planned a mass “protest” mobilization, the first national mobilization since November 2011, after remaining quiescent through 14 months of grinding austerity. The idea was to appear militant by blaming the Germans for our troubles while in fact joining with government partners in pushing forward austerity.

The explanation for the 14 month break in activity was the role of the Irish trade union movement in a formal “social partnership” with the Irish bourgeois, an arrangement stretching over decades and, with the acceptance of the Croke Park agreement, extended to include the imposition of the austerity.

The 9th of February marches in the main cities were very much in line with the concept of a popular front with the Irish capitalists. Under the slogan “lift the burden” their focus was on an arrangement with the European Central Bank to reduce the impact of the Irish state’s guarantee of banking debt.

It’s worth going into this in more detail. The trade union leadership still have a great deal of influence and can still mobilise and direct tens of thousands of workers. For this reason trade union and socialist activists are unwilling to discuss the role of the bureaucracy.

Yet that role is unmistakable. The Croke Park deal froze Read the rest of this entry

éirígí Water Meter Sabotage Video takes off

indexéirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan has welcomed the fact that an éirígí video which shows people how to sabotage ‘water-meter-ready’ stopcock chambers has started to go viral.  The video, which was only posted on Tuesday evening, has already recorded in excess of 9,000 views.  Speaking from her Ballyfermot constituency Minihan said, “We are delighted by the early success of this video.  The fact that almost ten thousand people have viewed the video in such a short period of time is testament to the extremely high levels of opposition that exist to the new water tax.  The feedback that we have received to date has been overwhelmingly positive with many people thanking us for highlighting an effective and simple way to oppose the water tax.”

Minihan continued by defending the content of the video, “I have no doubt the usual apologists for austerity will be quick to criticize the video with claims that it is encouraging the destruction of public property, but I don’t see it that way.  The video shows people how to prevent a water meter from being fitted to a stopcock chamber that was specifically designed to accommodate one, while ensuring that the actual stopcock tap can still be used.  Nothing is actually broken or destroyed in the process; it simply ensures the chamber only performs a single function and that is to accommodate the stopcock tap.  If a family chooses to protect their access to safe, clean, drinking water by copying the video I have no problem with that.”

Opposing the privatisation of water services Minihan said, “The dogs on the street know that the fitting of water meters and the introduction of a water tax is only the first step on the road to the complete privatisation of the Read the rest of this entry

Occupation of Kilkenny Revenue Office

Campaign Against Household & Water Taxes (CAHWT), Carlow area, Press Statement 21/02/2013

Occupation of Revenue office underway, Kilkenny

CAHWT and its members refuse to be intimidated by either the government or Revenue and will defeat what Enda Kenny described as “morally wrong, unfair & unjust” taxes on the family home. 

Members or the Carlow CAHWT are currently occupying the Revenue offices in Kilkenny in protest at the introduction of the new property tax, which is being passed to the revenue for implementation from July under the draconian legislation published in last year’s budget.

The CAHWT protesters are appealing to workers within Revenue to support their families, friends, neighbours, and fellow citizens by refusing to do the job of tax collector by collecting the regressive tax in July. Revenue workers should ask for support from their unions  in downing tools when they are asked to process the taxing of the poor and struggling middle class, many of whom are not even working at the moment.

“We are not directing our protest at the workers here today but we are making a political point and looking for workers and the unemployed to back each other as we are all Read the rest of this entry

Morgan, Purdie and divided Ireland

This is an historical one.  The review below appeared in Ireland Socialist Review #8, winter 1980/81.  I gather that #8 was the final issue of this particular magazine.  Pity; it looks like a good magazine.  Thanks to Liam O Ruairc for drawing my attention to it.

Austen Morgan and Bob Purdie, Ireland: divided nation, divided class, London, Ink Links,

reviewed by Richard Chessum

“We have no doubt that, historically, progressive social and economic developments were associated with Irish nationalism.  We also have no doubt that the current entrenchment of the Irish left in the ‘battle of the nations’ is not justified, either by Marxist theory or by the real needs of the Irish working class.  The Northern state partially collapsed between 1968 and 1972 because of the uprising of the Catholic minority against unionist resistance to reform. . .  The partial c ollapse of the sate did not logically imply that it had to be destroyed by a section of the Catholic minority and replaced by a unitary Irish state. Unless, that is the crisis was seen through Republican spectacles and Unionist hegemony was interpreted simply as a British strategy for suppressing the historic Irish nation.  While it was correct for socialists to respond to events as they occurred, it is not obvious why they should have placed all the chips on the green or orange numbers. . .  It is by no means clear why socialists should pose a national question as the central political question when this merely raises a problem which cannot be solved and also obscures the global class struggle.”

In these words, Morgan and Purdie, the editors of this new collection of essays, sum up their starting point in their quest for a new Marxist understanding of the possibilities for socialism in Ireland.  Many of the readers of Ireland Socialist Review may feel that the starting point is not new.  Indeed, one way or another, socialists, reformist or revolutionary, have been at this one before.  Yet the national question continues to pose itself – or rather, significant individuals and social forces obstinately persist in pushing it to the forefront of political discussion.  One suspects that Morgan and Purdie will have little more success than King Canute in ordering the waves to go back, no matter how many books they edit.  Moreover, it is by no means clear (to use their own expression) how many loyal supporters these latter day Canutes have amongst the contributors to this collection of essays, or how many of these latter might wish to add some sort of disclaimer to the views expressed by them.

When the editors speak in their Introduction of “the varied composition of the seminar” at which the papers upon which this book is based were presented, this is a polite way of saying that there was little common agreement on very basic issues amongst the contributors.  This, of course, does not invalidate the book.  But readers should not be left to assume that those who contributed to it would all assent to the view that the national question is a diversion.  The present reviewer attended the seminar in question (held at Warwick University) and it was apparent that Read the rest of this entry

The second bail-out: more pain without gain

indexby John McAnulty

A night of chaos on Wednesday 6th February in Leinster House was justified by unsupported claims of a press leak. It was however strongly reminiscent of the scenes in 2008 when the previous government mortgaged Ireland to bail out the banks and concluded with the Fine Gael and Labour coalition voting through a draconian piece of legislation. The legislation liquidated the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), holding the promissory note guaranteeing the debts of Anglo-Irish bank and Irish Nationwide. The vote was taken after TDs were given 10 minutes to read the 68-page document. 

The chaotic vote was followed the next day by scenes of jubilation and triumph on the government benches. “We have a deal!” announced Taoiseach Enda Kenny to thunderous applause. In fact the “deal” – actually an internal debt restructuring – simply underlined the historical bankruptcy of Irish capital and its utter dependence on the imperialist powers.

The central issue of discussion was the Read the rest of this entry

Easter Rising – then and now

Ireland in the world order: a history of uneven development – an intro

Image.ashxI’m aware that I’m really badly behind in terms of a couple of reviews and will be knuckling down to these over the next couple of weeks, even as I read new stuff.  What I’m presently reading is Maurice Coakley’s Ireland in the world order: a history of uneven development (Pluto, 2012).  I’m only a handful of pages into it, but it looks very good.  Here, for instance, is an extract from the preface:

“In November 2010, when the Irish government was negotiating with the European Union (EU) and other transnational bodies on schemes to resolve Ireland’s financial problems, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came up with a proposal that would have involved the major bondholders taking a significant ‘haircut’, in the process reducing the Irish debt to a potentially manageable level.  The European Central Bank (ECB) strongly opposed any ‘haircut’ for the bondholders, insisting that the Irish state pay all the debts incurred by the privately-owned Irish banks, even though this would most likely bankrupt Ireland.  In this dispute, the Irish government officials sided with the ECB, leading one IMF staff member to describe the Irish government negotiators as displaying elements of the ‘Stockholm syndrome’, a situation whereby hostages sometimes come to identify with their captors. . . .

“Why were Irish government officials suffering from ‘Stockholm syndrome’?  Or to put the question differently, how is it that Irish government officials had come to identify with transnational institutions Read the rest of this entry

Magdalene laundries: No to the theocratic state


‘Good Shepherd’ Magdalene laundry: angels watching

The following article is reprinted from this week’s issue of the British Weekly Worker

I do wish Marxist writers would not use terms like “Irish state” when they’re talking about the 26-county state – even technically it is not the Irish state, since there are two states on the island which use the name Ireland in their official titles.  Same with “Dail”.  Is it really so difficult to simply call it Leinster House? 

However, I agree with the main political points of the article, in particular the need to campaign for the separation of church and state, although Anne might have made the further point that such a campaign is needed in the north as well as the south; in the north both Protestant and Catholic churches need to be separated from the state, for instance. 

Anne might also have noted that éirígí put out a strong statement on the Magdalene issue and the relationship between church and state in the twenty-six counties.

The recent publication of the McAleese report into the Magdalene laundries is yet another reminder of the rotten nature of the Irish state.1

The report has come at an important time. It coincides with the resignation of pope Benedict, a man widely said to have orchestrated the conspiracy of silence aimed at blocking all reports of clerical abuse. More importantly, its publication comes in the middle of a heated debate on Read the rest of this entry