Monthly Archives: May 2013

No shared future: the north and the new sectarian dispensation

The following piece first appeared on the Socialist Democracy site, here

There is no mistaking the bookend manoeuvre inflicted on the Northern Irish administration at the start of May. At one end the British Secretary of State, Teresa Villiers, made threatening noises about cutting back the flow of grants unless there was some progress towards a more stable political structure.

At the other end of the bookend is a visit from President Obama, with the expectation that good news will be available about the growing maturity and stability of the Irish peace process.  One of its main uses outside Ireland has been to support processes such as the Middle East peace process and to get Palestinians to reduce their expectations about the future.

Let there be no confusion.  In Ireland itself, despite the absence of any formal opposition outside the small republican milieu and the far right of loyalism, the current settlement is in trouble and its imperialist sponsors are moving in with first aid. The fact is that the recent flag demonstrations have undone years of public relations work aimed at industrialists and the tourist industry and seen claims of impartial policing and a neutral democratic state exposed as false.

It is in this light that the space between the bookends, the latest initiative from First Minister Robinson and Deputy First Minister McGuinness, must be examined.

Despite attempts to talk them up, the new measures were met with disappointment, seen as timid steps that avoided the central problems. Criticism, even from the other capitalist parties supporting the peace process, was so harsh that it provoked a tirade of abuse from the dour First Minister.

In actual fact the situation is far worse than it appears. These emperors have no clothes. The steps announced are not attempts to counter sectarianism but a mixture of hot air and measures that accommodate sectarianism. The more contentious issues are kicked into the long grass, with very clear signs that Sinn Fein will once again capitulate to Loyalism and move the goalposts further to the right.

Many of the announcements focus on education and youth, shared summer schools, shared sporting facilities and shared campuses. They all have a long history, stretching back decades to “Education for Mutual Understanding” programmes. All were designed not to integrate education, but to provide a Read the rest of this entry

Articles on 1916 figures

The éirígí site has been running a series of pieces on activists from the 1916 Rising, including those who survived and fought on.

Kathleen Lynn:

Winifred Carney:

Eamonn Ceannt:

Michael Mallin:

Tom Clarke:

Padraic Pearse:



Transforming your care: Stormont preys on the elderly

The piece below is taken from the Socialist Democracy site, here

imagesThe news of the proposed closure of residential care homes across the North has led to political chaos. Health minister Edwin Poots has been under attack from the public, from the relatives of the elderly people affected, from Sinn Fein and from his fellow DUP MLAs. The first and deputy first minister have issued a public statement condemning the handling of the issue and, by implication, Poots.

Poots himself, in a manoeuvre typical of the Stormont Circus, has distanced himself from the issue, claiming that no decisions have been made and a simple consultation exercise has been botched by his underlings in the Boards. He is contradicted by the facts. Ten of the thirteen Belfast homes have been closed. Private firms are already discussing with government the latest tranche of closures. 

Yet what the Sherlocks of the local media miss is Read the rest of this entry

Some home truths from the recent Kildare Turf Cutters Association / National Parks and Wildlife Service meeting

Below is an article the Kildare Turf Cutters Association has submitted to the Leinster Leader:

The Kildare Turf Cutters Association (KTCA) including representatives from Mouds Bog (SAC), Ballynafagh Bog (SAC), Hodgestown Bog (NHA) and Black Castle Bog (NHA Edenderry) met with three executives of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at Sarsfields GAA Clubhouse on May 1st 2013. It was explained that the KTCA was attending the meeting under protest, to a great extent, as many members did not see any merit in the meeting, but that the KTCA would not give it to Minister Jimmy Deenihan to proclaim that the KTCA was in some way unreasonable and would not meet him or his agents.

The meeting lasted for three hours and the position of both sides on many issues was clarified.

Fairness of relocation

The NPWS considers that relocation is the main remedy for the cessation of turf cutting on the raised bogs it has designated as Special Areas of Conservation. It also clearly states on its website that “The Government is committed, as part of the social partnership process, to the payment of a fair and proper level of compensation to landowners and users for actual losses suffered due to restrictions imposed as a result of their lands being included in formal proposals for designation as NHA, SAC or SPA”. The problem here however is – what is fair? And why does Read the rest of this entry

James Connolly commemorative events

James Connolly Commemoration

12.30pm, Sunday, May 12
Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin
Main Oration: Ursula Ní Shionnain


James Connolly Lecture

3pm, Sunday, May 12
The Cobblestone, Smithfield, Dublin
Speakers: Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh (Historian and Author)
Dick Carroll (Trade Union Activist)


Yes to industrial action, but a new political movement is needed too

ICTU head David Begg: an example of what Connolly thought of as the labour lieutenants of capital

ICTU head David Begg: an example of what Connolly thought of as the labour lieutenants of capital

by Philip Ferguson

Free State taoiseach Enda Kenny’s reaction to the public sector workers’ rejection of Croke Park 2 has been to declare that workers in this sector, by their vote, have stripped themselves of protection from redundancies.  In effect, on April 24 he was saying that public sector workers, no matter how they voted or how the bulk of people in the 26-counties see things, had to accept either pay cuts or redundancies.

Welcome to all capitalism has on offer to workers in Ireland, either side of the British state’s border.

Meanwhile the latest Red C / Sunday Business Post poll, the results of which appeared in last Sunday’s SBP (April 28), indicate that less than a third (30%) of respondents support cuts to public sector pay, while 56% of respondents said the government should accept the position of the unions following their rejection of Croke Park 2.  Just over two-thirds of people also thought that if there was any spare funds in the system these should be used to reduce taxes on working people.

The rejection of Croke Park 2 seems to have caught both government parties, Fine Gael and Labour, on the hop.  Labour’s Brendan Howlin, responsible for public expenditure, had already compiled budget figures based on acceptance of the deal; namely, €300 million of pay cuts.   On RTE radio’s This Week on April 28 Labour junior minister Alan Kelly reiterated that, while there was Read the rest of this entry

Socialism and Irish republicanism – the discussion continues

I’ve added my rejoinder to Rayner’s rejoinder to me.  Scroll down from Rayner’s piece at:

Interview with Liam Sutcliffe – veteran socialist-republican

The interview below with Liam Sutcliffe, an IRA activist in the 1950s and 1960s and a leading figure in Saor Eire, was conducted and filmed by irish revolution contributor Mick HealyBas Ó Curraoin did the editing and added photos and music.  There’s a point in the interview about Liam Walsh’s death and whether it was 1970 or 1971; it was in October, 1970 (he died in a premature explosion).

We’ve also been working on doing an interview with Frank Keane, who was O/C Dublin Brigade during part of the 1960s and a founding leader of Saor Eire.

Adams’ latest Prime Time appearance

There were several noteworthy features of Gerry Adams’ appearance on Prime Time on Monday night.  Miriam O’Callaghan seemed somewhat out of her depth with a very in-form Adams.  It was interesting, however, that she agreed that the nationalist population in the north had been on the receiving end of substantial violence.  There was, after all, a time – a long time – when RTE simply ignored the repression of the nationalist community.  Of course, it’s now safe for the official southern broadcaster to have its personnel agree that what the northern nationalist community was subjected to for so long was horrendous.

Adams seemed more confident than he was a year or two back when under attack for his role in things like the disappearance and killing of Jean McConville.  In fact, for much of the interview he appeared rather statesmanlike, putting O’Callaghan in her place, namely on the back foot.

His continued absurd denial that he was ever in the IRA, which simply makes him look dodgy, was accompanied this time, however, by an attack on Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price.  Both had, in their last years, identified Adams as not simply being Belfast O/C but being specifically responsible for a number of actions including the disappearance and killing of McConville.  He accused both comrades Hughes and Price of lying about Read the rest of this entry

Protest at Kildare Credit Union


About 80 angry members of Newbridge Credit Union protested outside the office last Friday morning 26th April  to demand a meeting with the Board of Directors and the special manager. People also protested against fees arising from the appointment of Luke Charleton.

Charleton of Ernst & Young was appointed to run Newbridge Credit Union in January 2012.  Since he was appointed to the Credit Union  his fees have exceed 2 million Euro. Charletion will also receive an additional sum of almost 144,000 Euro to cover fees and expenses for 12 weeks to April 7th last.  A local éirígí spokesperson said the sums are enormous from the point of view of a credit union with small depositors.

“Next Friday we will hand a letter into the special manager to request his and the Board of Directors presence at a meeting to be held in the Keadeen Hotel on Friday, May 10 at 8pm,” said organiser Jason Turner of local political party Tuas Nua, a group formed out of the departure of a number of Kildare members of Sinn Fein.  “The credit union belongs to the members. An AGM could not be held for the past two years as the reserve was not there and we want to know why the reserve wasn’t there? There are rumours out there about lending to property developers but the credit union is not a [commercial ] bank. The ball is in their court and I expect them to turn up. . .”