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Human Rights in Ireland
www.humanrights.ie

offsite link An IHRL-compliant post-8th Amendment Abortion Law for Ireland. #repealthe8th Mon Jun 29, 2015 10:24 | Máiréad Enright

offsite link Mohammed Younis Succeeds in the Supreme Court Thu Jun 25, 2015 19:04 | Liam Thornton

offsite link The EU and the 25th anniversary of the UN Migrant Workers Convention Wed Jun 24, 2015 17:19 | GuestPost

offsite link #UNIRL Concluding Observations for Ireland on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Mon Jun 22, 2015 15:18 | Liam Thornton

offsite link Future Worries for ECHR litigation in Ireland? O?Donnell v South Dublin County Council Wed Jun 17, 2015 05:30 | Darren O'Donovan

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Cedar Lounge
For lefties too stubborn to quit

offsite link SF?s Críona Ní Dhálaigh and Independent Cieran Perry elected Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Dub... 20:18 Mon Jun 29, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Waiting for the election? 19:14 Mon Jun 29, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link For those wedded to orthodox interpretations of the Greek Crisis? 17:17 Mon Jun 29, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link After Marriage Equality 13:15 Mon Jun 29, 2015 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Greece and German WWII Reparations ? English ? Die Anstalt 31 March 2015 10:11 Mon Jun 29, 2015 | irishelectionliterature

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 - 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 - Fri Jun 19, 2015 17:48

From the Greek Solidarity Committee asking people to sign this petition to cancel Greek debt.  

The petition: http://cancelgreekdebt.org/en/ 

We, the citizens of countries across Europe, call for:

  • A European conference to agree debt cancellation for Greece and other countries that need it, informed by debt audits and funded by recovering money from the banks and financial speculators who were the real beneficiaries of bailouts.

  • An end to the enforcing of austerity policies that are causing injustice and poverty in Europe and across the world.

  • The creation of UN rules to deal with government debt crises promptly, fairly and with respect for human rights, and to signal to the banks and financiers that we won?t keep bailing them out for reckless lending.

Michael Taft - Thu Jun 18, 2015 13:51

If anyone is uncertain about the power relationship between employees and employers, I suggest they look to the Dunnes Stores dispute and the closure of Clerys.  These encapsulate the massive imbalance of power in the workplace. 

I won?t get into the details of these ongoing disputes.  Any rational person hopes the workers succeed ? in the case of Dunnes Stores, to win the right to negotiate collectively and reduce the level of precariousness; in the case of the Clerys workers, to be given their fair share of compensation ? and dignity ? after years of services to the company.

So here, let?s take a step back and look at the presentation of the relationship between employees and employers.  This may seem, at first, abstract but it leads us to something fundamental.

It starts with costs.

Labels are powerful things.  For instance, costs; this is usually not a good thing:  ?that was a costly venture?, ?a costly holiday?, a ?costly day out?.  These are things we usually try to avoid, unless the ?cost was worth it?

?Profit?, however, is usually something positive:  that was a ?profitable experience?, I ?profited? from that lecture, we are ?back in profit?.  Profit equals growth and prosperity.  Further, it is considered a good thing because it?s opposite ? loss ? is not.  Loss is bad for a household, a company, and a voluntary organisation.  Continued loss may result in bankruptcy or closure or poverty.

So when we discuss labour and capital in the economy or in a business, we are already using labels that colour the debate:  costs and profits.  If costs are something to be avoided or reduced in order to maximise benefit, then we must depress the price of labour (i.e. wages and working conditions), and diminish the agencies that champions this ?cost? (e.g. trade unions, the collective bargaining power of workers, legislation that benefits workers). 

Likewise, if profits are an unqualified good ? we should support the agencies that maximise profits and gear our legal, labour and tax framework to that end. 

Even before we begin discussing the relationship between wages and profits, the former is considered a cost, a burden while the latter is a sign of prosperity, growth.

The interesting thing about this highly ideological reading, is that it is not vindicated by basic economic accounting (here comes the abstract part).  

An enterprise creates income by creating gross value-added.  We can measure this by the following:

Gross value-added equals sales revenue minus the purchase of goods and services needed to produce the product the enterprise is selling (rent, accountancy services, machinery maintenance, etc.). 

The important point here is that employees? wages and working conditions is not a cost in the measurement for creating value.

David Landy - Wed Jun 17, 2015 14:26

There is something compelling and disturbing about the case of Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who successfully passed at being black ? so successfully that she headed up the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, before her parents outed her as white.

Let?s ignore the personal aspects of the story. The inevitable made-for-TV movie will cover this - the admittedly fascinating question of why did she do it? Even more compelling is the public reaction to her trickery. If Dolezal?s successful passing as black offers little more than a textbook truism that race is a social construct, the outrage and confusion that followed, once her trickery was uncovered says far more about the nature of racial politics.

The first thing to note is how messed up this form of politics is. A lot of black commentators are angry because, by claiming blackness, Rachel Dolezal took away speakerhood positions from black people. This is true and this is depressing. I?m reminded of my research a few years ago into US Jewish supporters of Palestine.  I once interviewed the head of a local Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) chapter ? a thoughtful and very funny woman. About twenty minutes into the interview ? I started asking her about her Jewish background. She laughed and told me she wasn?t Jewish, why did I think she was?

That floored me and I asked her awkwardly, well... why are you in a group like Jewish Voice for Peace then? Her reply was to tell me to be realistic, that she?d be taken much more seriously if she spoke ? not as a Jew (which she never pretended she was) but as someone representing Jews. I couldn?t deny that reality. In the US, perhaps more than elsewhere, the claim to ethnic representativeness bolsters one?s claims, whatever these claims may be. Small wonder that other people than Rachel Dolezal ground their positions on this claim. Small wonder too that these people have reacted so angrily to her undermining their credibility to speak from ethnic personhood.

There is something fundamentally wrong about a form of conversation where your ability to speak ? or rather, to be heard - is to a large extent predicated on your ethnic origin. I?m not slagging off the NAACP or black activists for this ? they didn?t create this system and are merely trying to manoeuvre their way through it. This is known as strategic essentialism ? the way that oppressed groups essentialise their identity for strategic reasons - in order to coalesce as a group and to provide a platform from which to fight these oppressions. This type of identity politics may well be the least bad option when fighting racial discrimination. But the question arises if some of the anger directed against Dolezal is because unwittingly, she exposed the pretences underpinning this strategic essentialism ? the nakedness of this particular emperor.

For say what you like about Rachel Dolezal, but she has unsettled the easy racial categories. It?s disheartening to see article after article snarkily praising her for her hair, as if that was it. As if, once we can isolate and fix the feature that allowed her to be black ? it was her hair - then the problem is solved and we can re-erect the racial barriers that keep us secure, if not safe. The problem is that it was no one feature, not her hair, nor her skin colour, nor her political claims which allowed her to be black. It was that she performed being black as well as any other black person. Recall, she wasn?t found out by her fellow black activists. If her mom hadn?t told on her, she could still be black today.

Michael Taft - Wed Jun 17, 2015 14:07

What would you say about a system for your car that was sold on the basis that it would alert you to an upcoming crash?  A good idea, no?  Except that the system only warns you after the crash.  There you are, in a massive, multi-car pile-up, bleeding all over the M50 ? and only then does the system kick in:

?Warning, warning, you are an imminent danger of having been in a crash ? warning, warning.?

You?d be right to sue.

That?s how the EU fiscal rules operate:  it purports to provide an early warning system against economic crash but, in fact, it does no such thing.  We should return it to the manufacturer, unopened, postage due.

Remember the Fiscal Treaty campaign?  It was claimed by the proponents that we needed these rules because it would prevent things like the Great Recession and, in particular, the Irish crash of 2008.  We needed these rules because we Irish are irresponsible ? along with the other PIGS states.  If only we had these rules we could have escaped the crash, the debt crisis and the recession ? which was, of course, brought on by our fiscal irresponsibility.  That was the narrative. 

But the cold reality is that were these EU fiscal rules in active operation they would not have seen, predicted, never mind warned of the impending crisis.  It would have been as useful as a diviners? rod.  How can we know this?  Because the EU Commission, the fairground purveyor of these miracle rules, tells us so.

The rules focus on the structural deficit.  This measures the deficit when all the cyclical components are stripped out ? that is, all the boom and the bust parts of the economy.  It purports to tell us what the deficit would look like if the economy were on an even keel. 

If so, then the EU rules should have been blaring warning sounds with red lights and sirens in Ireland in the years before the crash.  Everyone knew (if only in private) that during the period of 2000 ? 2006 Irish public finances were dangerously over-reliant on revenue from the speculative boom.  Everyone ? except the EU Commission and their rules.

 Let?s look at the estimate from the EU Commission itself.  Remember:  if the figure is in plus, that means we were fiscally responsible, our public finances were robust, and we were almost German-like when it came to prudent budgeting. 

sd1

Oh, my:  according the EU rules and methodology we had extremely sound public finances.

Irish Left Review >>

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