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May Day 2011 Celebrations in Cork
International workers' day of celebration marked in Cork
This Sunday, the international celebration of the working class was marked in Cork with the now-traditional May Day march organised by the Independent Workers Union. Cork WSM also marked the occasion by hosting a pair of talks after the march on May Day-related topics at Solidarity Books on Douglas Street. As a finale to the day's festivities, a fundraising cabaret was held for the union and the bookshop that night at the Spailpín Fánach on South Main Street.
Up to 150 people marched behind the Independent Workers Union banner from the assembly point outside Connolly Hall on Lapp's Quay to the rally point at Daunt Square passing through Parnell Place, Merchant's Quay and Patrick Street. At the square, marchers were addressed by Dave Higgins of the Cork Social Welfare Defenders and by Noel Murphy, national secretary of the IWU. Mr. Higgins' speech reminded those present that the cuts to social welfare benefits perpetrated by the last government have not been reversed by the new government in power now, and that people signing on are being investigated for suspected benefit fraud like never before, while corrupt incompetent bankers whose shady activities brought low an economy make off with multi-million pensions. He praised the IWU for its recognition of the unemployed as workers deserving of union membership and called for joint action against the welfare cuts already applied, and those that are undoubtedly on the way from the Fine Gael/Labour government. Mr. Murphy's speech criticised the policy of making the working classes of Ireland pay the massive debts of a tiny minority through imposed austerity measures, a policy that has remained unaltered despite the intervening general election. He also noted the rush to privatise state-owned companies such as the ESB and Bord Gáis that is proceeding alongside the cuts and tax increases. He called for repudiation of these debts, and for pressure to be applied both inside and outside the Dáil to prevent the looting of Ireland's economy by the super-rich. Notable among the measures he called for were a campaign of collective refusal to pay mortgages and the withdrawal of labour from key services (i.e. strike action). The full text of Noel Murphy's speech can be read at the end of this report. The speakers at the end-of-march rally were ably compered by Margaret O'Regan, chairperson of the May Day Organisin Committee.
Due to May Day falling on the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend, the starting time was moved from its customary evening hour to 1 p.m. This meant unfortunately that the usual street dance party at Daunt Sq. afterwards that has become an integral part of the celebrations did not happen this time. It must be said however that numbers attending the march held up well, despite fears expressed beforehand that the unaccustomed hour for the march and the competing attractions of the bank holiday weekend would impact negatively on attendance. The turnout from political organisations in Cork was substantial with the visible presence of the Workers Solidarity Movement, The United Left Alliance, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Workers' Party, Eirigí, the 32-County Sovereignty Movement and Republican Sinn Féin. Also in attendance were a contingent from the Cork Social Welfare Defenders campaign group, and memebers of the Cork Action Group. A puzzling absence this year was the lack of an identifiable Sinn Féin presence at the march, given that they had been prominent attenders and supporters in previous years. The absence of the ICTU unions and the Labour Party is par for the course alas, but there were members of mainstream unions in attendance at the march and rally. The continuing neglect by the mainstream unions in Cork of the international workers' day of celebration is shameful, and indicates that instilling pride and defiance among those unions' memberships is not on the compass of their local leaderships.
After a short break for lunch, the day's activities moved to Douglas Street and Solidarity Books, where a pair of talks were hosted by the Cork branch of the Workers Solidarity Movement. The first talk was given by Éamon MacGabhann of the Independent Workers Union on the subject of 'Building a Fighting Union', while the second talk was delivered by Kevin Doyle from Cork WSM on the Haymarket Massacre and its legacy. These talks were listened to by an appreciative audience and there were numerous good points raised by the audience after each presentation. An audio recording of both talks and the audience discussions is available at the end of the report on the WSM website (http://wsm.ie/c/may-day-2011-cork).
Finally, from 8 p.m. onwards at the Spailpín Fánach, a Chaos Cabaret was held to raise funds for both the IWU and Solidarity Books. A spirited attendance enjoyed a plethora of acts from spoken word to physical comedy and live music, and may thanks are due to Nicola Morry of Cork WSM for arranging the night's entertainment and for compering the show. A fitting finale to May Day was supplied by Noel Murphy leading a rendition of the 'Internationale' to close the night and bring the day's celebrations to an end. Here's looking forward to May Day 2012!
Text of the May Day address by Noel Murphy, national secretary of the Independent Workers Union
Repudiate The Debt.
Last December, the Independent Workers Union organised a Post Budget Demonstration to protest at austerity measures introduced by the Fianna Fail/Green Government.
This Budget saw cuts in the fields of HEALTH - EDUCATION - SOCIAL WELFARE and made no serious attempt to put in place a serious job creation programme.
The cuts were deemed necessary because of the enormous DEBT that the State took upon itself by deciding to save Irish Banks from the recklessness or incompetence of Bankers, Financial Regulators, Auditors and Accountants, along with the members of Government and the leadership in the Department of Finance.
We pointed out that the Government had acted without the Mandate of the People. We demanded a change of Government. We also demanded a Change in Policy.
New Government- Same Policy
Last February we got our change of Government - but we certainly did not get a change of policy.
The New Government which promised to enter into negotiations with the European Union and the European Central Bank, in order to relieve the Debt Burden - has failed in this regard.
Although their negotiation has failed, they have not changed policy.
They accept that the enormous debts, which came about from Reckless Lending Practices by Irish Banks whose funds were fuelled - in turn - by European Merchant Banks - should be honoured, at the expense of those sections of the population who gained least during the Celtic Tiger Years.
This policy position is justified by the view that if we "Burn the Bondholders" (i.e. Merchant Banks) that the European Union will cut off the money supply required for day to day spending which is required to run the State.
There are different schools of thought in this matter. - Let me outline the views.
1. Some Say default on the Debt - as the EU will still have to fund day to day spending rather than see a EURO economy collapsing
2. Some say we have no choice but to default on the Debt - as we cannot sustain the interest repayments
3. Some say - renegotiate the terms so as to relieve the harshness of the austerity measures
4. We say Repudiate the Debt which is not of our making.
Let me row deal with repudiation of the debt.
The very same forces who got us into this mess - try to suggest that it would be economic suicide to REPUDIATE the debt. We are told that ATM machines would run out of money and that Government would not be able to cover day-to-day spending for wages for Public Workers or to make Social Welfare payments.
This is rubbish!
The Transfer of money from the European Central Bank is a VIRTUAL action and therefore intangible.
Actual Euro Bank Notes are printed here, and unless there is a military invasion - there is nothing to stop Irish Government from continuing to print an adequate supply of CASH money to maintain our day-to-day needs.
Perhaps the EU could retaliate and refuse to accept Irish Euro notes?
If this were to happen, and it would be logistically difficult to determine an Irish Euro from a German Euro, there is no reason why we cannot use our own notes internally and Trade in Dollars, Pounds Sterling and Continental Euros, as we actually have a Trade Balance of exports over imports.
Let me comment about re-negotiating the debt.
Although these debts were created by a tiny part of the population, which constitutes the Irish Ruling Class there is a school of thought that says we are morally bound to pay debts, which fuelled the Irish Economy.
This being the case - we must continue to borrow from the ECB and/or IMF. However in borrowing this money, which is to go into the black hole of the Irish Banks - we can use this money initially to pay the Mortgages of those people who cannot afford to pay for housing, which they would forced into purchasing, at grossly inflated prices.
These mortgage payments - when paid, will still go into the Banks and will free up the poorest sections of the population into being able to spend again, thus stimulating the economy.
I have outlined two very practical options - which can resolve our monetary problems and in doing so, I pose another question. Why are these approaches not taken?
EU/ECB Privatisation Policy.
The answer is that our Government is not allowed by the Princes of the New Empire into which we have been enrolled (the EU) to adopt such radical policies. Why - because our new EU masters prefer to impose a policy which strips the country bare of all its assets through Privatisation.
They will gorge on the Profits of the ESB - Bord Gais - Coillte - Airports - Sea Ports to join with the booty they have already acquired off the Corrib Coast and leave Ireland as a dependency in receipt of the occasional EU handout.
Out of one Empire into another!
What is to be done?
The New Government does not have the Mandate of the people to carry on in the same manner as the last Government.
However, we must apply pressure - into ensuring that the Government adopts measures, which favour the People Friendly Policies over EU/ECB/IMF Policy.
Initially we will ask the newly elected radical and anti-imperialist T.D.s to take up our call in Dail Eireann and to give maximum publicity to these ideas.
However, we recognise that there are limitations of the Parliamentary process, but we also know that we the working people of Ireland possess the ECONOMIC power to force change on a reluctant Government.
Workers can prevent the Country from functioning by withdrawing their Labour From Key Services:
Petrol and Diesel Distribution
However, we are aware that there is a great reluctance by the State Sponsored Unions to support such radical action.
Let us therefore use the lessons of history to win our rights. In the 19th Century the Land League organised Refusal to Pay Rent.
Today we must organise a refusal to pay Mortgages. Today we appeal to the silent majority, the many young couples, who can't afford the cost of the petrol to get to this rally, to co-ordinate a Refusal to Pay our Mortgages Policy until such time as the Government - resolves our Banking and Fiscal crises in the interests of the people. If required the Offices of the Independent Workers Union will be available for this purpose.
From this Mayday march and rally - I ask those of you - who want an alternative policy to bailing out Banks at the expense of Jobs, Health, Welfare and Education Cuts, to join, as Full or Associate members of the IWU - so that we will bring about the process of developing a People Friendly Government.
Independent Workers Union