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Irish Left Review
Joined up thinking for the Irish Left

offsite link Supporting Syriza Mon Jul 06, 2015 15:23 | Michael Taft

offsite link Progressive Film Club: Palfest & ?5 Broken Cameras? Thu Jul 02, 2015 15:59 | Irish Left Review

offsite link Greece; Deathplace of Democracy Wed Jul 01, 2015 17:51 | Tony Phillips

offsite link Irish Living Standards Fall Further Behind Europe Wed Jul 01, 2015 15:52 | Michael Taft

offsite link Free Education: A Really Modest Proposal Fri Jun 26, 2015 13:04 | Michael Taft

Irish Left Review >>

Cedar Lounge
For lefties too stubborn to quit

offsite link To save the village we had to destroy it? 16:19 Mon Jul 06, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Street Meetings 14:24 Mon Jul 06, 2015 | irishelectionliterature

offsite link Leaflets 12:39 Mon Jul 06, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link A 1988 Model of the proposed Custom House Docks site (IFSC) 08:03 Mon Jul 06, 2015 | irishelectionliterature

offsite link Left Archive: Starry Plough Number 3, Meitheamh 1975, Irish Republican Socialist Party. 03:46 Mon Jul 06, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

Cedar Lounge >>

Dublin Opinion
Life should be full of strangeness, like a rich painting

offsite link THE WRATH OF KANE: BANKING CRISES AND POLITICAL POWER 09:32 Fri Jan 30, 2015

offsite link ALWAYS THE ARTISTS: WEEK THREE OF THE BANK INQUIRY 23:11 Thu Jan 22, 2015

offsite link FIANNA FÁIL AND THE BANK INQUIRY : SOME INITIAL OBSERVATIONS 21:04 Mon Jan 12, 2015

offsite link PETER NYBERG BANK INQUIRY EVIDENCE, 17 DECEMBER 2014 18:05 Sun Dec 28, 2014

offsite link For Some Vicious Mole of Nature: Making Sense of The Irish Bank Crisis 21:07 Fri Dec 26, 2014

Dublin Opinion >>

NAMA Wine Lake

offsite link Farewell from NWL Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Happy 70th Birthday, Michael Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Of the Week? Sat May 18, 2013 00:02 | namawinelake

offsite link Noonan denies IBRC legal fees loan approval to Paddy McKillen was in breach of E... Fri May 17, 2013 14:23 | namawinelake

offsite link Gayle Killilea Dunne asks to be added as notice party in Sean Dunne?s bankruptcy Fri May 17, 2013 12:30 | namawinelake

NAMA Wine Lake >>

Michael Taft - Mon Jul 06, 2015 15:23

Question: which Eurozone government has 61 percent public support for their position in the Greek bailout negotiations?  Answers on a small postcard.  

Last January Syriza won 36 percent of the vote, which allowed them to enter government as the senior coalition party.  Yesterday, 61 percent of the Greek people supported Syriza?s rejection of the terms laid down by the 18 other Eurozone governments.   There can be no doubting the Syriza Government?s mandate. 

The next week will be crucial in hammering out a deal ? if that is possible given the intransigence of the creditors to date.  How can we, in Ireland, provide concrete assistance to the people of Greece?

We can look to the honourable behaviour of the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis as a guide. This is not the time, however tempting, to use the referendum result for domestic political purposes.  The Greek people need concrete support.  We should be calling on the Irish Government to take up the following positions in the upcoming negotiations. 

First, we should demand that the Irish Government now engage constructively in the negotiations with Greece:  first, by calling on the ECB to comply with their own commercial mandate and provide the necessary liquidity to allow the Greek banks to open.  In the short-term capital controls and withdrawal limits would have to remain, but re-opening the banks would take the pressure off businesses and households.  Failure to do this is a coercive political act.  Opening the banks should be the Irish Government?s first diplomatic stop.

Second, the key short-term issue is budgetary ? allowing the Greek government to run a deficit.  Given the humanitarian crisis and the collapsing of the productive economy, the demand for a primary surplus (i.e. more revenue than expenditure when interest payments are excluded) is not only penal and irrational; for creditors it is the surest way to guarantee that debts will never be repaid.  Greek businesses need space to start growing and employing; fiscal policy should be assisting, not thwarting this.

Third, the Irish Government should support the establishment of a European Debt Conference.  This does not commit any government to a particular position but it at least provides a space, outside the day-to-day politics of the Eurogroup and the EU, to consider medium-term solutions ? not only for Greece and the peripheral regions ? but for the entire Eurozone.  My own preferred solution would run along these lines, but the Irish Government need not take up any position prior to such a conference being held.

And, fourth, the Irish Government should support the release of structural funds already committed to Greece to kick-start a badly need investment programme.  This could also involve reframing the National Strategic Reference Framework to allow Greek businesses to access the funds allocated to them but denied because of inflexible rules.

These should form the core of any progressive campaign to re-align Irish Government policy:

  • Open the banks
  • Suspend austerity (the first step in getting rid of it)
  • Support a European Debt Conference
  • An investment programme for the Greek economy

The Greek government would still be under strict supervision and required to make progress on reforms:  rehabilitating the tax collection system, ending corruption and patronage, and ending the dominance of oligarchical control over economic sectors.  But this wouldn?t pose a problem for the Syriza government.  These policies already form the core elements of the programme they were elected on.  These reforms will take time and can only succeed when the economy and society are given the fiscal and political space to implement them.  Hard to do much when your banks are closed.

Let?s not demand too much.  The Irish government does not bring the biggest battalion to the Eurogroup.  But it has a potentially influential voice given our experience of a bail-out.  And given the importance of this issue (keeping the Eurozone intact) it is amazing there has not been a parliamentary debate over what position the Government should adopt in these negotiations.  This should change immediately.

The Irish Government should be required to come into the Dail and explain and debate its negotiating position.

We have an opportunity to push the default button.  When Syriza was elected in January, the Eurozone governments should have been relieved: for finally, there was a Greek government that was intent on tackling the issues of reform ? corruption, the patronage, the oligarchical controls; reforms which the previous New Democracy and PASOK failed at (or didn?t even try).  That didn?t end well.

There has now been, in effect, a second election in the form of a referendum.  There is no doubting Syriza?s mandate.  Nor is there doubting their continuing commitment to the reform and modernisation of the Greek economy. 

Let?s start anew.  There is still time.  And the Irish government can play a pivotal role in that.

That is the least we should demand of our elected representatives the EU.

Irish Left Review - Thu Jul 02, 2015 15:59

Progressive Film Club

Oscar-nominated "5 Broken Cameras" amongst the attractions in upcoming Palfest.

We finished our screenings for summer last Saturday and plan to resume in September or October. We thank you for your great support for our events.

In the meantime we will try to keep you posted on any upcoming films that might be of interest such as these that are being screened during the upcoming Palfest (full details from site).

SMALL HANDS IN HANDCUFFS

Wed. 8th July 2pm
The Pearse Centre
Admission Free, donations welcome

In October 2013, Anrai Carroll, a 16 yr old Transition year student travelled to the West Bank to make a film about child arrests in Palestine. Posing as tourists, Anrai and his mum, activist Brenda Carroll flew to Israel and travelled on to the West Bank where Anrai finally met Mahmoud, a boy his own age who was arrested at 14 and imprisoned for almost a year and a half, also Rasim, 18, who lives in fear of a knock on the door which could mean his arrest.

Anrai?s film shows not just the physical journey but the painfully emotional and sometimes scary transition from naive xbox player to a wiser and stronger young man. What started as a simple idea in Powerscourt Lawns, Waterford has grown into a global symbol of solidarity.

FLYING PAPER

Thurs. 9th July 4pm
The Pearse Centre, Dublin
Admission Free, donations welcome

Flying Paper tells the uplifting story of resilient Palestinian youth in the Gaza Strip on a quest to shatter the Guinness World Record for the most kites ever flown. This feature-length documentary film is directed by Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill and co-produced with a team of young filmmakers in Gaza.

FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS

Fri. 10th July 4pm
The Pearse Centre, Dublin
Admission Free, donations welcome

A screening of Emad Burnat?s Oscar-nominated Documentary, - an extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil?in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, the footage was later given to Israeli co-director Guy Davidi to edit. Structured around the violent destruction of each one of Burnat?s cameras, the filmmakers? collaboration follows one family?s evolution over five years of village turmoil. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost. ?I feel like the camera protects me,? he says, ?but it?s an illusion.?

?It presents with overwhelming power a case of injustice on a massive scale, and gives us a direct experience of what it?s like to be on the receiving end of oppression and dispossession, administered by the unyielding, stony-faced representatives of those convinced of their own righteousness.? ? Philip French, The Guardian.

OPEN BETHLEHEM

Sat. 11th July 4pm
The Pearse Centre
Admission Free, donations welcome

Armed with her camera and a dilapidated family car that keeps breaking down, filmmaker Leila Sansour plans to make an epic film about a legendary town in crisis but just few months into filming her life and the film take an unexpected turn when cousin Carol, Leila?s last relative in town, persuades her to stay in Bethlehem, her hometown she had left years before, to start a campaign to save the city.

As the pair launch OPEN BETHLEHEM, Leila finds herself trapped behind a wall in the very place she so much wanted to leave. The face of Bethlehem is changing rapidly with potentially detrimental consequences. Reports predict that if trends continue the Christian community of Bethlehem, a city that provides a model for a multi faith Middle East, may be unsustainable within one generation. Leila?s plan to stay a year stretches to seven.

OPEN BETHLEHEM is a story of a homecoming to the world?s most famous little town. The film spans seven momentous years in the life of Bethlehem, revealing a city of astonishing beauty and political strife, under occupation. The film draws from 700 hours of original footage and some rare archive material. In fact the making of this film has led to the creation of the largest visual archive of Bethlehem in the world and plans are currently being discussed with University College London (UCL) to turn the collection into a museum.

Website ;- http://www.palfestireland.net/

Tony Phillips - Wed Jul 01, 2015 17:51

The word Referendum comes from the Latin referre (to bring back) anddemos is Greek for the people as a political unit; demos is the root of the word Democracy; so a referendum brings a decision back to the people. As representative democracies European States hold elections to choose their governments giving elected representatives a mandate to represent their political choices. The Greek people chose Syriza to represent them in the broken institutions of a European Union in crisis; the Greeks chose to end Austerity. If representatives can't make a political decision, because it is contrary to their mandate, the decision can be brought back to the demos in a referendum; or at least that is how things used to work.

Welcome to post-crisis EU democracy.

Since 2009 and the financial crisis in the EU, decision-making has been deferred to a financial triumvirate, the Troika, and to the Eurogroup. In latin triuviratus means unofficial coalition of power. Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus were the first triumvirate. When the Senate told Julius Caesar to step down as military leader of Rome, he crossed the Rubicon. He proclaimed himself ?dictator in perpetuity?. Triumvirates are not known for love of democracy.

The Eurogroup works with the Troika's mandates (called Memoranda of understanding). The group is democracy light, or rather, it used to be. This flexible ad-hoc 'group' has one representative (a finance minister) for each nation in the Euro currency. Neither Denmark nor the UK are members because they don?t use the Euro. As and from Monday the 29th of June, neither is Greece.

Michael Taft - Wed Jul 01, 2015 15:52

In 2014, GDP increased by 4.8 percent ? as often said, the fastest growing economy in Europe.  In 2014, employment increased by 40,000.  In 2014, the recovery started.

In 2014, living standards fell even further behind the EU-15 average.

Eurostat measures living standards through actual individual consumption.  Unlike private consumption, or consumer spending, actual individual consumption

? . . . encompasses consumer goods and services purchased directly by households, as well as services provided by non-profit institutions and the government for individual consumption (e.g., health and education services).?

It, therefore, measures consumption not only of goods and services, but public services provided by the government.  As Eurostat states:

?Although GDP per capita is an important and widely used indicator of countries? level of economic welfare, (actual individual) consumption per capita may be more useful for comparing the relative welfare of consumers across various countries.?

In short, actual individual consumption can be treated a proxy for living standards.  So what is the relative welfare of consumers (i.e. everyone) across Europe?  The following captures the relationship of real (after inflation) living standards in purchasing power parities between EU-15 countries and the EU-15 average.

Michael Taft - Fri Jun 26, 2015 13:04

Sometimes a proposal comes along that is so sensible and so modest that you wonder why it doesn?t feature high up the public agenda.  Take the proposal made recently by Barnardos:  at a very small cost the state could actually provide what it is constitutionally mandated to do:

?Article 42.4:  The State shall provide for free primary education  . . . ?

In its briefing, Providing Free Education for all Schoolchildren, Barnardos proposes that primary and secondary education be made free. They first outline the costs of education that are not covered under the current system, costs that are borne by families.

  • School books:  The cost of schoolbooks is estimated at ?60 million.  However, the School Book Scheme only receives a subsidy of ?15 million ? leaving parents to pay out the rest.
  • Voluntary contributions:  Based on the Barnardos School Cost Survey 2014, parents are paying ?89 million in voluntary contributions and ?38.5 million for classroom resources.
  • School transport:  For a primary pupil availing of school transport, parents pay ?100.  This rises to ?350 for secondary pupils.  In total, parents are paying ?27 million to transport their children to school.
  • Capitation grants:  these grants paid to schools on a per pupil basis have been cut by 15 percent since 2010 ? or ?35 million.

So how much would it cost to make education free?  Here are Barnardos? estimates.

Barnardos

Providing the resources to ensure free primary education would cost ?103 million; for secondary education, ?127 million.  The total is ?230 million.

Barnardos is proposing that in 2016, the centenary of that document that mentioned something about cherishing the children, the Government make primary education free.  Free secondary education would be phased in over three years.

Communist Party of Ireland - Thu Jun 25, 2015 14:01

The current issue of Socialist Voice is now available online 

The articles in this issue include:

A Democratic Programme for the 21st Century

In this issue of Socialist Voice we publish the draft of a Democratic Programme for the 21st Century. The CPI is offering this document as part of the debate that needs to take place in every trade union branch and every community organisation.

Will they, won?t they, do a deal? Eugene McCartan

The mass media both in Ireland and throughout Europe are attempting to shape how working people view and understand the negotiations taking place between the ECB-EU-IMF ?troika? and the SYRIZA government in Greece. 

Right2Water conference:

A good beginning: But we need to win the water struggle first

Anne Traynor

In mid-June the five trade unions at the heart of the Right2Water campaign called a second conference, drawing activists from the five unions as well as those opposing water charges in the communities and the political parties involved in the Right2Water campaign. 
     The conference was in two parts. In the first section the delegates broke up into a number of workshops to discuss a draft consultation paper presented by the trade unions, titled ?Policy Principles for a Progressive Irish Government.?

James Connolly Festival

The first annual James Connolly Festival took place in Dublin from the 9th to the 14th of May. It was a huge success, with some of Ireland?s leading actors, musicians and poets giving their services to make the festival the success it was.

The 1916 Rising

?We have nothing to celebrate??

Presentation by Roger Cole to the debate in the Eblana Club, Dún Laoghaire

I would like to thank the Eblana Forum for inviting me to take part in this debate on the 1916 Rising. 
The title to this debate asks do we have nothing to celebrate about the 1916 Rising. So let us examine the core document of the Rising, the Proclamation, and to note that, however the Irish Timesmight claim, we do not need a new one.

Tom Redmond   1938?2015

In late May the death was announced of Tom Redmond, a lifelong member of the Communist Party of Ireland. Tom was a worker, a trade union and community activist, a political thinker, and a great communicator.  

The People's Movement - Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:27

The latest issue of People?s News is out now. 

CONTENTS - Peoples News No 127

Page 1. Solution to Greek crisis impossible within the euro zone
Page 2. The promoting of EU identity - a little-known slush fund
Page 3. It could be all about regime change
Page 5. Powerful vested interests try to push ahead despite setback
Page 6. A new publication on TTIP
Page 6. Greece applies to participate in BRICS
Page 6. TTIP and "common values"
Page 9.  Time to return to human scale
Page 10. The elephant in the room
Page 11. The end of the euro is nigh?
Page 13. A Macedonian "colour revolution"

Brian O Boyle - Tue Jun 23, 2015 14:17

Syriza came to power on the back of an impossible pledge ? namely, to end austerity whilst keeping Greece within monetary union. The party?s pre-election Thessaloniki Programme promised to write-off most of the country?s ?330 billion public debt through a European Conference. They also promised ?4 billion in public investment, the creation of 300,000 new jobs and a rebuilding of the welfare state.[1] Politically, Syriza is committed to remaining within European Monetary Union (EMU) in an effort to democratise it. As a heterogeneous organisation with roots in Euro-communism, Syriza wants to move towards socialism through the existing institutions of the European Union. Instead of setting out to smash the capitalist state and exit the euro, they are trying to prise them open from the inside out. This is not an insurrectionary strategy based on mass struggle and workers councils. Rather it is one that emphasises the building of a dominant (hegemonic) block with parliamentarians in the vanguard of the struggle. One of their leading thinkers, Stathis Kouvelakis, recently defined it as ?seizing the state from outside and inside, above and below?.[2] Economically, their policies are best described as left-wing Keynesianism. Here the idea is to use the state to engage in public investment projects whilst redistributing resources through progressive taxation. If successful, the results of this process should be twofold. Firstly, the great humanitarian crisis should start to be relieved. Secondly, the economy should be freed from the current spiral of debt and deflation through higher levels of ?economic demand?. This strategy basically amounts to saving capitalism by ending neoliberalism. In the words of Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, we must remember ?capitalism?s inherent failures while trying to save it, for strategic purposes, from itself?.[3]

The problem for Syriza is that none of this is remotely compatible with the intentions of European capitalism. Since the early 1980?s, the European project has been hardwired with neoliberalism to ensure that profits and political power are accumulated by capitalist elites. Syriza may have costed their proposals in line with EU rules, but they are not taking cognisance of the ?real politik? of the European project. Even if they wanted to, the European elites could not allow Keynesian expansionary policies. European capital has worked hard to institutionalise neoliberal policy making, with the likelihood of them suddenly changing tack negligible at best. Be-that-as-it-may, the EU elites are actually out to smash their opponents. Syriza?s election represented genuine hope for millions of people across the continent. If they are seen to be successful, the effects on worker?s organisations in other parts of the Eurozone would be transformative. For this reason, the Troika are determined to crush Syriza regardless of the wider effects on Greek society. Focusing on changing the EU from the inside out therefore becomes an extremely dangerous strategy, particularly if Syriza are not mobilising the Greek working classes in sufficient numbers to support them.

What has happened since the election?

From the outset Syriza presupposed that they would be able to negotiate. Specifically, they assumed that support for expansionary policies would be forthcoming in other depressed regions of the Eurozone (France and Italy in particular). Failing this, they believed that the capitalist elite could never afford to let them leave (a so-called Grexit). Unfortunately, the Troika have so far had other ideas. During the first weeks of their tenure, Syriza immediately found themselves on the back foot. First off, the European Central Bank blocked liquidity for the Greek financial system. Thereafter, the Troika strategically withheld ?7.2 billion from a previous bailout to force Syriza into another memorandum. Greek capital has also played its part, evacuating billions from the country?s banks, whilst steadfastly refusing to pay their taxes. Safe in the knowledge that the Greek government would soon run out of cash, the Troika have been incredibly aggressive. Meanwhile, Syriza have crossed many of their previously stated ?red lines?. On February 20 they signed a four month extension of the hated memorandum, effectively relinquishing debt write-down as a policy position. Debt reduction remains an aspiration, but has quietly been dropped as a red line issue. The problem with this is that Greek debt currently stands at a whopping 180% of GDP. Without some way to write this down, Syriza will be forced to implement the austerity they were elected to reverse. Piraeus Port has already been earmarked for privatisation, despite assurances that this would never happen. Syriza have also accepted neoliberal labour market reforms, delayed payments to struggling pensioners and cancelled payments to low paid workers.[4]

Irish Left Review - Tue Jun 23, 2015 14:00

Corruption In the Spanish police force and a look back at the Occupy movement - last screening before the summer break.

A reminder about this weekend's films: 

When: Saturday 27th June
Where:
Pearse Centre (27 Pearse Street)

2:30 p.m.  Autumn Sun
Autumn Sun tells the story of Occupy Oakland, which was part of Occupy Wall Street, a movement that swept the United States in 2011 and 2012 in response to inequality and injustice. Occupy Oakland was always a special case. However, the city?s deep history of radical politics and active social movements meant that Occupy Oakland would demand more and compromise less. This film documents the movement?s dynamic story.

  • Directed by David Martinez.


3:10 p.m. Ciutat Morta [Dead City]

On 8 June 2013 eight hundred people entered an abandoned cinema in Barcelona to view a documentary film.

The old building is renamed Cinema Patricia Heras in honour of a young woman who committed suicide two years earlier. But who was Patricia? Why did she take her life?

How is her death related to Barcelona? The answers to these questions, and the truth about one of the worst cases of police corruption in Barcelona, are sought by this action.

  • Directed by Xavier Artigas and Xapo Ortega.
Michael Taft - Mon Jun 22, 2015 13:25

The Low Pay Commission will soon be recommending an increase in the minimum wage.  How much should it recommend?  Let?s start with the conclusion:  the minimum wage should rise by ?1 per hour.  Now, let?s go through the arguments.

First, some background:  the minimum wage (NMW) is ?8.65 per hour.  This rate was set back in 2007.  In 2011 it was cut to ?7.65 but only a few weeks later the current government restored the cut; this would have affected very workers as employers would have been prevented by law from cutting the pay of workers already employed. 

Ireland is the only EU-15 country that has frozen the NMW since 2007 (with the exception of poor Greece where the Institutions demanded a cut).

11

The average increase (bar Greece) has been 16 percent in other EU-15 countries with a NMW.  A number of other, poorer EU countries have actually doubled their NMW (Romania, Bulgaria and Latvia) ? but these countries were starting off a low-base.

Over that period thee has been an alarming rise in deprivation among those at work. 

  • In 2008, when the recession began, 6.6 percent of people in work suffered deprivation
  • In 2013, this proportion rose to 19.2 percent

Approximately 350,000 in work suffer from multiple deprivation experiences.  This is not necessarily confined to low-paid employees; there will be self-employed in this category while many workers higher up the wage ladder may be suffering from deprivation due to debt issues or rising child costs.  Nonetheless, it is reasonable to assume that a significant proportion are low-paid employees.

Irish Left Review >>

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