Oct 24 2014

STUC AND ITUC (NORTHERN COMMITTEE) DEMONSTRATIONS ON OCTOBER 18th.

On October 18th  the TUC, STUC and ITUC (Northern Committee) held demonstrations to protest against austerity.

Trade Unionists For Independence (East Coast) distributed the  leaflet below at the STUC rally, It’s Time to Create A Just Scotland, held in Glasgow on Saturday, October 18th. It was attended by 3500 trade unionists.

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) wrote the second piece about the demonstration in Belfast. 

1. AFTER SEPTEMBER 18th – BRING REAL DEMOCRACY INTO OUR TRADE UNIONS

 

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The campaign for Scottish independence has been the largest movement for popular democracy seen in these islands since the Irish War of Independence. In terms of electoral participation it was unprecedented. Voter registration was 97% and voter turnout was 85%.

We faced the biggest ruling class offensive, backed by the UK state, since the Miners’ Strike. Only this time it brought together a combined Tory/Lib-Dem/Labour Better Together ‘No’ alliance, UKIP, the Orange Order, other Loyalists, British fascists, the BBC, the Pope and the Free Presbyterian Church, and the USA and China!

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Feb 26 2014

EIRIGI ELECTION WORKERS ASSAULTED BY GARDA SPECIAL BRANCH

Many socialists are aware of the continued repressive role of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (the old RUC) when it comes to dealing with legal Republican opposition in the ‘Six Counties’. However, this article highlights the role of the Irish police force, the garda, in its attempts to suppress legal political activity in the ’26 counties’. Eirigi is a socialist republican organisation, with a councillor, Louise Minihan, on Dublin City Council.

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Louise Minihan, eirigi councillor for Ballyfermot, Dublin

Louise Minihan, eirigi councillor for Ballyfermot, Dublin

On Thursday evening (February 6) two éirígí election workers were assaulted by a member of the Garda Special Detective Unit – more commonly known as the ‘Special Branch’. The assaults mark a significant escalation in the ongoing campaign of harassment of éirígí activists by the Dublin government’s political police.

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Nov 25 2013

2nd RADICAL INDEPENDENCE CONFERENCE – ‘AFTER THE UK: THE FUTURE OF 4 NATIONS’

 

The RCN received the unanimous backing of  the Edinburgh branch of RIC to ask the  RIC National Steering Committee to organise a session at the second national RIC conference on November 23rd in Glasgow, entitled ‘The break-up of the UK – the case for ‘internationalism from below’’. This was then unanimously agreed by the Steering Committee, subject to availability of speakers and any modifications required by the overall conference programme. In the event, the session was renamed ‘After the UK: the future for 4 nations’.

The initial choice of speaker for Ireland was agreed to be Bernadette McAliskey, and for Wales, Leanne Wood, a republican and the president of Plaid Cymru. Leanne initially indicated her interest, but later had to give her apologies because the conference clashed with a Plaid Cymru event, which also meant that a substitute speaker could not be arranged. Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance was also proposed as a speaker for England, and after the organisers’  consideration this was also agreed. The organisers were left to arrange a speaker for Scotland. In the meantime, Mary McGregor (RCN and Dundee RIC) was proposed to chair the session. Later the organisers came back and, in the interest of preserving gender balance, transferred Mary to speak on Scotland. Tony Kenny, a republican and former SNP member and council candidate was asked to chair the meeting instead.

Below we provide a video link which shows Bernadette’s contribution to this session. After this we provide both videos  and the full texts of Steve Freeman’s and Mary McGregor’s contributions (which was slightly curtailed because of time considerations).

This is followed by a reply to David Torrance’s report of the conference in The Herald.

Videos by Patricia Kirk and John Lanigan

 

Bernadette McAliskey, Mary McGregor, Steve Freeman and Allan Armstrong at the RIC conference

Bernadette McAliskey, Mary McGregor, Steve Freeman and Allan Armstrong at the RIC conference

 

 1. BERNADETTE McALISKEY’S CONTRIBUTION CAN BE SEEN AT:-

http://youtu.be/biwdlxRElI4

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Nov 12 2013

100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DUBLIN LOCKOUT

Jim Slaven of the James Connolly Society has written the following article on the 100th anniversary of The Dublin Lock-Out. The leadership of the Irish Transport & General Workers Union provided by Jim Larkin and James Connolly in the face of Dublin boss, William Murphy Murphy, stands in marked contrast to that of Len McCluskey of UNITE in the face of the threats at Grangemouth by INEOS boss, Jim Ratcliffe, one century later. 

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Nov 09 2013

PHILIP CHEVRON – 1957-2013

Philip Chevron was a guitarist with the Pogues, the London-Irish punk/traditional Irish fusion band. He died on October 10th. Stuart Munckton wrote this tribute for the Green Left Weekly, the biggest selling Australian socialist paper.

Philip Chevron - guitarist with the Pogues

Philip Chevron – guitarist with the Pogues

Philip Chevron. 
“I am a gay, Irish, Catholic, alcoholic Pogue who is about to die from cancer — and don’t think I don’t know it,” Philip Chevron, who passed away on October 8, told the Irish Daily Mail in June.

The 56-year-old Chevron was best known as the guitarist for legendary Irish folk punk band The Pogues. However, his music career goes back to the founding of The Radiators From Space in 1976 — described as Ireland’s first punk band.
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Nov 05 2013

DUP BIGOTS MOVE TO RESTRICT ABORTION RIGHTS

After the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in pregnancy, after being admitted to Galway Hospital and refused an abortion, most socialists are aware of the reactionary role of the Catholic hierarchy over women’s rights in Ireland (see Ireland and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act/). The following article, written by J. M. Thorn of Socialist Democracy (Ireland), highlights the equally reactionary role of Protestant bigotry in this regard in Northern Ireland.

Edwin Poots, DUP Health Minister at Stormont and anti-abortionist

Edwin Poots, DUP Health Minister at Stormont and anti-abortionist

Abortion rights are extremely limited in the North of Ireland. Terminations can only be legally carried out if pregnancy threatens the mother’s life, or if there is a long-term or permanent risk to her physical or mental health. Under these conditions there are around fifty terminations carried out within the health service each year.

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Sep 16 2013

SEAMUS HEANEY: THE DEATH OF AN “INTERNAL EMIGRE”

Mary McGregor (RCN) writes this appreciation of the celebrated Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, who died on August 30th.

 

Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

Heaney was a poet of international acclaim. His skill and ability to convey emotions in words and images is exceptional. He was part of the land and appreciated its importance in shaping its sons and daughters. For him the Irish landscape was the repository of Irish history and yet he rejected the worlds of his father and “his father before him” in favour of writing poetry. This invariably placed him as an outsider in terms of his own family and traditions.

He could not however escape his heritage as part of a catholic and nationalist family in the north or ignore his need to chronicle the injustice and bloodshed which was the backdrop to his life.
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Sep 10 2013

CRISIS IN THE IRISH PEACE PROCESS

 

John McAnulty of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) highlights the significance of the recent Ulster Unionist challenge to the ‘Peace Process’.

“EQUALITY OF THE TWO TRADITIONS” HITS THE ROCKS

The anniversary of the Civil Rights march held in Belfast on 9th August, 2013

The anniversary of the Civil Rights march held in Belfast on 9th August, 2013

When a Sinn Fein commemoration march was barred from the small town of Castlederg in August, despite Sinn Fein’s role as junior partner in the local administration. Gerry Kelly expressed their frustration: “There are two narratives in this society, and both need to be equally respected”.

This belief is the central focus of Sinn Fein’s current ideology. Sometimes expressed through the metaphor of a journey, it suggests that both they and the unionists are making equal concessions in order to arrive at a “post conflict” society. The ideology has been used to justify the Shinners constant evolution to the right and acceptance of a colonial and sectarian settlement.
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Aug 12 2013

IRELAND AND THE PROTECTION OF LIFE DURING PREGNANCY ACT

We are posting another article from the August issue of Socialist Democracy (Ireland). This is on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act in Ireland. It  is a follow up to an earlier posting about Savita Halappanavar who died when denied an abortion at the University Hospital in Galway (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/11/20/we-have-heartbeats-too/). 

 

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In the case of the abortion bill the vociferous opposition of the far right boosts this impression. The logic here is that if the SPUC, Youth Defence and the Catholic hierarchy are against something then it must have a progressive element. But this is false. For opposition from such sources reflects more their rabid nature than the progressive character of the legislation. A much better guide is the support the legislation received from the Irish political class. Despite most of the political parties being anti-abortion to some degree or other the legislation passed with a comfortable majority. The predicted upheavals within parties such and Fine Gael and Fianna Fail failed to materialise.
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Jun 12 2013

IRELAND – UNION STRATEGY, KEYNES AND THE DEBT

This article, by James Fearon, is from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website. It highlights how the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s (ICTU) support for Keynesian reforms is tied to a strategy to make workers pay for the ruling class’s debts – only more slowly than the incumbent Fine Gael/Labour coalition government.  

In the UK, Ed Balls has flagged up Labour’s acceptance of current Tory attacks on our class, and his willingness, if Labour is elected in 2015, to go down the same road with further attacks on universal benefits. The TUC’s thinking goes no further than that of the ICTU. Only when pushed does it mount any actions – such as on November 30th, 2011 over pensions. However, these actions are merely token, as the TUC’s ignominious collapse in the subsequent days highlighted. The TUC is trapped in the same Keynesian thinking as the ICTU.  It has no wider vision than a return of a Labour government, hopefully committed to  some Keynesian economy boosting measures, so that, as in Ireland, workers are given longer to pay off the ruling class debts. With such miserable aspirations, it is unlikely that the TUC will be able to shift Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. Their appeal is directly to the  banksters and other corporate capitalists –  ‘You can trust Labour to continue the austerity offensive and the welfare counter-reforms.’

David Begg, General Secretary of ICTU whipping up worker enthusiasm

David Begg, General Secretary of ICTU whipping up worker enthusiasm

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), and reformists in general, have been particularly animated recently over flaws that have been found, in the research by Reinhart and Roghoff, on the effect of austerity on the fiscal multiplier. They have taken this as evidence that ‘austerity isn’t working’ and that the possibility exists that they may still receive a lifeline from a slower, less virulent capitalist attack on the working class. If this ‘Better, Fairer Way’ to pay off the banksters’ debts should be adopted by the political elite in any meaningful way ICTU could claim that the slightly reduced pain of a slower austerity was their doing, and this in turn would provide them with some semblance of a fig leaf to cover their shame.

A former senior advisor to Citibank was quoted favourably in union literature recently when he expressed doubts about the efficacy of austerity based on figures which show a larger than predicted fiscal multiplier of €1.6 in economic shrinkage for every €1 removed through austerity measures. Figures from the IMF, based on data from 28 countries between 2009 and 2013, actually put the multiplier as high as 1:1.7 and Keynesian economists, the TUC and ICTU have all seized hungrily upon these figures. While trade unions exhibit a touching, perhaps over zealous, faith in these figures, the findings are not so readily accepted by the financial establishment.

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