Thursday, July 30, 2009

Release Maura Harrington & Niall Harnett

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson has called for the immediate release of Maura Harrington and Niall Harnett and urged people to attend a demonstration at Mountjoy jail, Dublin tonight.

The two Shell to Sea activists were each sentenced to four months in prison today [Thursday] for their roles in the ongoing peaceful opposition to Shell Oil's project in the Erris area of Mayo.

In response, the Shell to Sea campaign has called a protest at the gates of Mountjoy jail for 6pm this evening, the time Harrington is expected to arrive to commence her incarceration.

Leeson said: "The sentences that Maura Harrington and Niall Harnett today received are part of an ongoing attempt by the Twenty-Six County state to intimidate the Shell the Sea campaign and the residents of north-west Mayo. These attempts will ultimately prove futile."

"Maura and Niall are not guilty of any crime. What they are guilty of is standing up for the safety of the Erris community and demanding that the natural resources of Ireland be used for the benefit of the Irish people. Unfortunately, in today's Ireland this has become a punishable offence."

"Earlier this month, the Dublin government released a report which recommended sweeping cuts in public services and social care. Today, the same government jailed two people for daring to make the reasonable point that the natural gas off the west coast could be exploited to fund the public purse. Clearly, Fianna Fáil cares more about Shell Oil than it does about Irish citizens."

Brian continued: "The jailing of Shell to Sea activists and the persecution of the campaign and the Erris community by the state and Shell is wrong and should stop immediately."

“éirígí is encouraging as many people as possible to gather outside Mountjoy jail at 6pm today to demand the immediate release of Maura Harrington and Niall Harnett. As long as they remain incarcerated, they will be a symbol of the Twenty-Six County government’s warped priorities.”

Opposition to Lisbon 2 Underway

Opposition to the re-running of the Lisbon Treaty got underway in Sligo at the weekend and in Dublin yesterday [Wednesday].

On Saturday éirígí activists in Sligo erected a number of banners calling for a NO vote in the upcoming referendum at various locations around the town. Amongst the locations were Carraroe and Summerhill roundabouts.

And on Wednesday, in a coordinated action, éirígí activists hung banners in several prominent locations across Dublin city and county. Banners reading Same Treaty, Same Answer and Vote No to Lisbon 2 were dropped in Drimnagh, Quarryvale, Palmerston and Tallaght to highlight the undemocratic nature of the Twenty-Six County government’s decision to re-run a treaty that was rejected at the polls last year.

Banner in Quarryvale

In June 2008, the Lisbon Treaty was defeated in the Twenty-Six Counties by a margin of 53.4 to 46.6 per cent. However, within minutes of the announcement of the result, the establishment in Ireland and abroad was calling for a re-run.

In the intervening period, the Dublin government has made a poor attempt to prove that it has listened to the concerns of the population. Brian Cowen and Twenty-Six County foreign minister Micheál Martin scurried off to Brussels to secure supposedly legally-binding changes to the Lisbon Treaty, in a desperate attempt to con the electorate in to believing that the Treaty had somehow been significantly altered. The reality is that not a single word, comma or full stop has been changed in the Treaty and people are being forced to vote again on the same document.

According to Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey the claims of legal guarantees are"untrue and deliberately misleading".

Casey said: “What the political establishment in Dublin and in Brussels are saying is part of a pattern of deliberate misinformation emenating from them in the run up to this referendum. The guarantees they refer to are meaningless political promises from politicians at both European and Irish level who have a record of breaking such election promises on a consistent basis. Their records, both domestically and in Europe, show they cannot be trusted.”

"These guarantees are not included in the treaty, do not over-ride the content of the treaty and are not worth the paper they are written on. They are nothing more than a cynical public relations exercise designed to divert attention away from the negative effect that a yes vote for this treaty will have on sovereignty, democracy and the rights of workers throughout Europe."

Banner on Palmerston bridge

After the banner drop in Dublin, éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír said: “Wednesday’s action is the first by éirígí in what will be a vigorous campaign against the mark two Lisbon referendum. éirígí intends to play an active role in the progressive No campaign and is confident that the argument can be won for a second time.

“All of the reasons why éirígí and the Campaign Against the European Union Constitution opposed the Lisbon Treaty during the first campaign remain ensconced within the document. The implementation of the Lisbon Treaty would ensure the further erosion of workers’ rights, sovereignty and democracy.

Banner in Tallaght

“The fact that the exact same Treaty is being placed before the electorate in the Twenty-Six Counties for a second time proves the point that democracy and sovereignty are anathema to the European Union’s empire-building project.”

Daithí concluded: “Last year’s defeat of the Lisbon Treaty in the Twenty-Six Counties sent shock waves through the right-wing establishment across Europe, a second rejection would give them even more food for thought.”

Banner on Drimnagh bridge

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lenihan Lashes Out at the Low Paid

The suggestion by Dublin minister of finance Brian Lenihan that the minimum wage in the Twenty-Six Counties should be cut has been slammed by éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson.

Lenihan made the proposal during a debate at the recent McGill Summer School in Glenties, County Donegal. The Summer School showcases some of the most conservative thought in Ireland and Europe on an annual basis. This year, attendees at the week-long event, included Dermot Gleeson, chairperson of the Allied Irish Bank; the former head of Fine Gael and current director of Anglo Irish Banks Alan Dukes; and Colm McCarthy, the now notorious don of An Bord Snip Nua.

Worryingly, considering the calibre of those contributing to the debates, the theme of this year’s Summer School was The Irish Economy – What Went Wrong? How Will We Fix It?

Brian LenihanIn the course of his address in Glenties, Fianna Fáil TD Lenihan suggested that the “minimum wage would have to be addressed”. The minimum wage rate in the Twenty-Six Counties is currently €8.56 [£7.40] per hour. For those in full time employment earning the minimum wage, this rate equates to €337 [£291] gross pay per week.

Questioning the perverted logic of Lenihan and his colleagues in government, Brian Leeson asked: “Is the minister seriously suggesting that the wages of the lowest paid workers in the state be cut in order to pay for the gambling debts of multi-millionaires such as Seán Fitzpatrick, Seán Dunne and Bernard McNamara?

“Following the publication of the McCarthy Report and its proposals to decimate the public service, the latest suggestion from Brian Lenihan provides further evidence of Fianna Fáil’s firm attachment to the failed politics of neo-liberalism."

“Low paid workers, school children, the sick and pensioners are being made to suffer as Fianna Fáil continues to offer a buoy to their banker and developer friends. At no point have we heard suggestions emanating from the Department of Finance about capping the wages of the highest paid in the economy, increasing taxes on profits and on the rich, a public works scheme or the nationalising of our natural resources. Rather, there has been a steady stream of proposals that seek to attack the most vulnerable in society.”

Leeson continued: “Why are working class people and those most in need of public services being attacked while bankers and developers benefit from billions of euros of tax payers’ money? The answer lies in the fact that Fianna Fáil and the business class in the Twenty-Six County state are inextricably linked: they are simply two sides of the same coin.

“The economics and politics of neo-liberalism have failed spectacularly and, as a result, the Twenty-Six County state now faces its worst economic crisis in generations. Yet Fianna Fáil continues to slavishly follow the neo-liberal doctrine that has devastated hundreds of working class communities.

“The very policies that caused the current crisis in capitalism cannot now be offered up as the solution. In the last week, there have been announcements of almost 700 jobs losses in two companies, Intel and Element Six. Workers need to hear proposals that protect jobs, not ones that further undermine their pay and conditions. Cuts to the minimum wage should not be tolerated.”

Stiallann Lenihan Daoine ar Phá Íseal

Brian LenihanTá moladh Aire Airgeadais Átha Cliath Brian Lenihan gur chóir an pá íosta sna Sé Chondae Fichead a ghearradh cáinte ag cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson.

Rinne Lenihan an moladh le linn díospóireachta ag Scoil Samhraidh Mhic a’ Ghoill le déanaí sna Gleannta, condae Dhún na nGall. Sárthaispeánann an Scoil Samhraidh cuid de na smaointí is coiméadaí in Éirinn agus san Eoraip ar bhonn bliantúil. I mbliana, i measc an lucht freastail bhí Dermot Gleeson, cathaoirleach Bhainc-Aontas Éireann; iarcheannaire Fhine Gael agus stiúrthóir láithreach Bhainc-Aontas Éireann, Alan Dukes; agus Colm McCarthy, ollamh urchóideach an Bhoird Snip Nua.

Mar chúis imní, ag féachaint ar mhianach iad siúd páirteach sna díospóireachtaí, an téama a bhí ag Scoil Samhraidh na bliana seo ná ‘The Irish Economoy – What Went Wrong? How Will We Fix It?’

Le linn a léachta sna Gleannta, thug TD Fhianna Fáil Lenihan le tuiscint go gcaithfí tabhairt faoin phá íosta. Is é €8.56 [£7.40] san uair an t-íosráta pá sna Sé Chondae Fichead faoi láthair. Dóibh siúd i bhfostaíocht lán-aimseartha ag saothrú an phá íosta, is ionann an ráta seo agus €337 [£291] pá comhlán sa tseachtain.

Ag ceisniú loighic shaobh Lenihan agus a chomhghuallaithe sa rialtas, d’fhriafraigh Brian Leeson: “An bhfuil an t-aire ag moladh i ndáiríre go ngearrfaí tuarastal na n-oibrithe is lú pá sa stát chun íoc as fiacha cearrbhachais na n-ilmhilliúnaithe ar nós Seán Fitzpatrick, Seán Dunne agus Bernard McNamara?

“I ndiaidh fhoilsiú Tuairisc Mhic Chárthaigh agus a mholadh an tseirbhís phoiblí a dheachú, tugann an moladh is déanaí ó Brian Lenihan a thuilleadh fianaise ar cheangal daingean Fhianna Fáil do pholaitíocht loicthe an nua-liobrálachais.

Bertie Ahen le Bernard McNamara“Oibrithe ar phá íseal, páistí scoile, na heasláin agus pinsinéirí ata thíos leis agus Fianna Fáil fós ag tairiscint baoi tarrthála dá gcairde bhaincéirí agus fhorbróirí. Níor chuala muid ag aon phointe moladh ón Roinn Airgeadais faoi theorainn a chur le tuarastal na ndaoine is mó pá san eacnamaíocht, faoi cháin ar bhrabúis agus ar na saibhir a ardú, faoi scéim oibreacha poiblí nó faoi náisiúnú ár n-acmhainní nádúrtha. Ina n-áit, bhí sruth seasta ann de mholtaí a fhéachann le hionsaí a dhéanamh ar na daoine is leochailí sa sochaí.”

Lean Leeson: “Cad chuige a bhfuil ionsaí a dhéanamh ar an lucht oibre agus orthu siúd is mó san angar fad is atá baincéirí agus forbróirí ag baint sochair as na billiúin euro d’airgead na gcáiníocóirí? Luíonn an freagra san fhírinne go bhfuil nasc dofhuascailte idir Fianna Fáil agus an aicme gnó sna Sé Chondae Fichead: dhá thaobh an bhoinn chéanna ata iontu go simplí.”

“Theip go mórthaibhseach ar eacnamaíocht agus ar pholaitíocht an nua-liobrálachais agus, dá bhrí, tá stát na Sé Chondae Fichead anois ag tabhairt aghaidh ar an ghéarchéim eacnamúil is measa le glúnta. Ach tá Fianna Fáil fós ag leanúint go huiríseal an teagaics nua-liobrálaigh a scrioss na céadta pobal lucht oibre.

“Ní féidir na polasaithe is cúis leis an ghéarchéim láithreach sa chaipitleachas a thairiscint mar an fhreagra. Le seachtain anuas, tá cailliúint 700 post fógraithe i ndá chomhlacht, Intel agus Element Six. Caithfidh oibrithe moltaí a chluinstin a chosnaíonn postanna, ní cinn a bhaineann faoina bpá agus gcionníollacha. Ba chóir nach nglacfar le gearranna don phá íosta.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

Enniskillen & Dublin protests re 28-Day Detentions and Plastic Bullets

The use of 28-day detention legislation and the firing of lethal plastic bullets by the PSNI are proof positive of the British government's willingness to use repression to maintain its occupation of the Six Counties. éirígí will be protesting against both of these dangerous measures in Dublin and Fermanagh on August 8. Click here for more.

People from Sligo interested in travelling to the Enniskillen protest should e-mail for more information

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Leas Cross – More Evidence of an Immoral System

“The Irish Republic fully realises the necessity of abolishing the present odious, degrading and foreign Poor Law System, substituting therefor a sympathetic native scheme for the care of the Nation's aged and infirm, who shall not be regarded as a burden, but rather entitled to the Nation's gratitude and consideration.” – Democratic Programme of the First Dáil, 1919

Leas Cross nursing homeWhile not on the same scale or of the same type as that of the shocking treatment of children recounted in the recent Ryan report, the neglect of older people cited in the report into abuse and neglect at the Leas Cross nursing home makes for difficult and disturbing reading.

The litany of ill-treatment highlighted in both reports stands as a shocking indictment of a system that condemned tens upon tens of thousands of young and old alike to a life characterised by abuse and neglect instead of the love, care and appreciation they should have been treated with.

The ill treatment of older people in the privately-run nursing home in Swords, County Dublin first surfaced in 2005 after an RTÉ Prime Time undercover investigation into allegations of neglect of residents. It was shut down in August of that year after investigations showed the level of care provided in the nursing home to be sub-standard.

It subsequently emerged that there were 105 deaths at the nursing home during the period 2002-2004, a figure well above the average death rate for a similarly sized nursing home. A report by professor Des O’Neill described what happened in Leas Cross as the “systematic abuse” of residents. Many of the dead had telltale signs of severe ill treatment at their time of death, including bedsores, dehydration and malnutrition.

Amongst its key findings, the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Leas Cross Nursing Home identifies the inadequacy of state inspections of the facility. It also identifies the fact that no one in the Health Boards or Beaumont Hospital either noticed or reported the high rate of admissions to the hospital of unwell, dehydrated, wound-infected and malnourished residents from Leas Cross. No one from either the Twenty-Six County Health Service Executive [HSE] or Beaumont Hospital is identified by name in the report, something which prompted relatives to denounce the report as a “whitewash”.

Health Service ExecutiveThe most interesting aspect of the report, however, is that which links the registration by the state of 73 new beds, on top of the 38 already in use in Leas Cross since the business’ establishment in 1998, and their subsequent filling by high-dependency dementia and Alzheimer’s disease suffering former residents of St Ita’s Hospital in Portrane, County Dublin with a decline in levels of care. The report states that the registration of these beds occurred in the absence of due consideration being given to the quality of care that residents might subsequently be liable to experience.

Although the report’s author doesn’t make this point [and he should have], it is a fact, nonetheless, that a decline in standards of this type is a feature of what happens to health and social care services when they are ‘outsourced’ to private business interests. It goes something like this: it costs money to take care of residents. Businesses are concerned with making profit. The less money expended on the care of residents equals more profit. The tendency, therefore, is for the standard of care to be less where there is a profit motive. This is the logic of the market.

It is an iron law of capitalism that profit must be made if a business is to remain ‘viable’. Making profit from crucial social services is facilitated where you have a government that believes in the neo-liberal agenda. In effect, what you have, in this instance, is a situation where the state turns over crucial social services to private, for-profit business interests and, in the process, abdicates its responsibility to provide for the care of its infirm senior citizens. This is exactly what happened in Leas Cross.

One of the main findings of the report is that there was nowhere near enough qualified staff in Leas Cross to meet the needs of residents [qualified staff cost money] and no-one from the HSE to notice this because inspections weren’t prioritised – a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

Rudolf Rickes could very easily have been writing about Ireland when, in his book Social Justice Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, A Critical Reflection, he notes how, “If one considers the observation that the worth and dignity of a civilization is judged by the way it treats its weakest members, we cannot help but look back in shame at our past.”

However, Rickes didn’t need to refer to Ireland specifically. In noting the tendency in some ‘civilized’ societies to mistreat its weakest members, he was, in fact, referring to a characteristic that is a relatively constant feature of care systems in capitalist countries.

As callous as it might seem, the reality is that those who find themselves in the care of the state are, by that very fact, no longer contributors to the economy. Their age or infirmity makes them superfluous to the needs of the economy, unless that is, they can be sent out to work as slaves, which is exactly what happened in many state institutions. Their powerlessness means that they are liable to be and, often are, deemed a burden on the system.

Relatives of some who died at Leas CrossAs the recommendations of the McCarthy Bord Snip report clearly demonstrate, in bourgeois societies it is the health of the economy which is deemed to be far more important than the health and welfare of human beings. Where this is the principle that governs social and economic life, it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see how the young and old in care might not be seen as a priority for those in control of society.

Mr Tony Mullins of the Leas Cross Deaths Relatives Action Group found it “ironic to note that the abuses highlighted in the report happened at a time of plenty and not cutbacks”. In the context of a capitalist state, however, there is, unfortunately, no irony at all in this fact.

In the final analysis, the abuse and neglect that occurred in residential care institutions derived principally from the fact that the people who inhabit them have traditionally been seen as a burden on the state and society. It has ever been a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’, and, once out of sight and out of mind, there has always existed the real possibility that a society that views the vulnerable and powerless this way will treat them accordingly. Thankfully, this is changing somewhat. Certainly, the ability of the authorities to keep secret what happens behind the high walls of its institutions is becoming less and less tenable. Hence, the Leas Cross report, although the best that Twenty-Six County minister for health and children Mary Harney could offer in the aftermath of its findings was that she couldn’t “guarantee this won’t happen again”, but could “guarantee that it would (if it happened again) be picked up quickly”.

The publication of the Leas Cross report does not for a second suggest that abuse and neglect does not still occur and will not occur in future in state institutions and the private companies to which the state has increasingly outsourced its responsibilities. Given the nature of government in the Twenty-Six County state, it is highly possible that this type of scenario will occur again in the future.

Mary Harney has come under further pressureAccording to Age Action Ireland’s spokesperson Eamon Timmins: “The arms of the state responsible for protecting these people let them down, and let them down in a major way. It is unclear if the systemic failures would have hidden the problem if it had not been for the media.”

In an article entitled Respect for the elderly, Jim Clarke states that “a study into elder abuse by the National Council for Ageing and Older People estimated that as many as 12,000 older Irish people might be suffering from some form of abuse at any given time. The report, 'Abuse, neglect and mistreatment of older People' found that the reluctance of society to recognise the problem of elder abuse is merely following a pattern of how such abuses come to be accepted.”

As with all others forms of abuse and neglect, the institutionalised abuse and neglect of older people will continue as long as we have an economic system based upon the profit motive. We will continue to see the vulnerable suffer so long as the profit motive and outsourcing of social services is supported by a government that cherishes the market and is content to rule in a society where greed triumphs over need.

On a daily basis, we are reminded of the reality that the vision of the 1916 Proclamation remains just that, a vision. We are constantly reminded that the most important aspect of the liberation of Ireland, i.e. the liberation of its people, is impossible under capitalism. We are readily reminded of the chasm that exists between the intent, spirit and letter of the 1919 Democratic Programme of the First Dáil and that of every subsequent programme for government.

The more the state abdicates its responsibilities towards the young, the old and the infirm, the more it loses its right to govern. The more government surrenders to a neo-liberal agenda with its guiding notions of the ‘small state’ and the ‘government-as-facilitator for private business and profit’, the more it moves away from the citizen-centred principles at the heart of the 1916 Proclamation and the 1919 Democratic Programme.

The more it does so, the more it demands others to depose them and institute a system where the population and not profit margins are cherished.

Friday, July 24, 2009

MacCionnaith Slams Political Policing

éirígí general secretary Breandán MacCionnaith has slammed yet another example of political policing by the PSNI.

MacCionnaith said: "Journalists have confirmed that a senior member of the PSNI conducted a number of 'off the record' briefings relating to éirígí at Ballymena Courthouse yesterday. These briefings also contained erroneous information relating to a named individual who was appearing before the courts. While the use of misinformation by the PSNI are commonplace that does not make them any less reprehensible."

"Overtly political briefings of this nature are designed to both damage éirígí and undermine the rights of the individual before the courts. The fact that the PSNI are willing to conduct such briefings within the court precincts speaks volumes about the true nature of British policing and justice in Ireland."

MacCionnaith continued: "Yesterday's briefings need to be seen in the context of the primary function of the PSNI - that is to protect the British occupation of the Six Counties. Over recent months the PSNI have stepped up their harassment of éirígí, using draconian legislation to regularly stop and search our activists."

MacCionnaith concluded: "I have no doubt that yesterday's PSNI briefing was in response to éirígí's consistent opposition to that force's use of oppressive legislation and bully-boy tactics. Despite this, éirígí will continue to highlight the unchanged nature of British policing in Ireland."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oppose Plastic Bullets and Twenty-Eight Day Detention Public Protest, 2pm, Saturday August 8, British Embassy, Dublin


In 2009, Britain has reintroduced internment without trial to Ireland, in the form of twenty-eight day detention periods. Irish citizens can now be held by the occupation forces for up to four weeks without being charged or convicted. Earlier this year republicans were detained for the first time using this draconian legislation.

If further evidence was needed of the true nature of Britain’s role in Ireland the behaviour of the paramilitary PSNI on July 13, 2009 provides it. As residents of the Ardoyne district of North Belfast gathered on that date to peacefully protest against an unwanted sectarian march, they were met by hundreds of PSNI members in full riot gear. Within hours the PSNI were indiscriminately firing plastic bullets, injuring ten people.

Plastic and rubber bullets have already killed seventeen people in Ireland. The use of such lethal weapons for ‘crowd control’ purposes has long been condemned by all right-thinking people across Ireland and beyond.

On August 8th 2009 éirígí will hold a public protest outside of the British Embassy in Dublin to mark the introduction of internment in 1971 and to oppose both twenty-eight day detention and the use of plastic bullets today.

Speaking in advance of the protest éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said, “Over the course of the last twelve months there has been a dramatic escalation in British operations in Ireland. We have seen the British Army redeployed in the form of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, twenty-eight day detention introduced, peaceful protests forcibly suppressed, and most recently we have seen plastic bullets being fired once again. In addition there has been a noticeable upsurge in harassment and attempts to recruit informers.

“Our protest on August 8 will give people in Dublin an opportunity to show their opposition to the ongoing occupation in general and twenty-eight day detention and plastic bullet use in particular. I would encourage everyone who supports Irish freedom to come along to the protest and make their voice heard.”

Monday, July 20, 2009

McCarthy report a “savage attack” on public services, workers & welfare recipients

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has described the McCarthy report as a “savage attack” on essential public services, on workers and on those dependent on social welfare. He said the proposed cutbacks would significantly increase the levels of poverty and inequality in our society and would further decimate essential health and education services.

Amongst the most severe of the proposed cutbacks are the following:

Ø 5% reduction in social welfare paymentsJustify Full

Ø 20% reduction in child benefit

Ø €5 charge per prescription for medical card holders

Ø Reduction in medical card income limits

Ø 17,000 public sector job cuts

Ø 6,000 job cuts in health service

Ø 7,000 job cuts in education service

Ø Public sector pay cuts

Ø Removal of 2,000 special needs assistants

Casey said: “The cutbacks proposed by this report are a savage attack on workers and the less well off in our society. They will result in untold suffering for thousands of families. They are also another serious blow for essential public services such as health and education which have already been decimated by cutbacks in staff numbers and the provision of services over the past twelve months.

He added: “Despite the sweeping cuts being proposed, nowhere does this report refer to the multi-billion oil and gas reserves off our coast in the Corrib gas field and elsewhere. The wealth generated from these fields could be used to combat this recession and to provide essential funding for public services which have already seen their budgets and resources slashed and which this report is proposing to slash even further. Rather than proposing, or even discussing, the nationalisation of these valuable resources, they have instead focused their report on how they can target our health and education services, target our workers and target the most vulnerable sections of our society.”

“The savage nature of these proposals reveals a mindset which has no concern for the living standards and well-being of low paid workers, of families on welfare or of people in need of medical care. The central theme of the report is that public sector workers and the poorest sections of our society must be made to pay for the corruption and greed of the political and business classes which led to the current economic crisis. Workers are viewed as commodities to be used and disposed of to create profits for the political and business elite in this state.”

Casey concluded: “There must be no compromise in our attitude to these proposed cutbacks. They must be resisted by all means necessary - by the trade unions, by political parties that represent workers interests and by working class communities throughout this state. We must organise and take to the streets to prevent these cuts being implemented, to reverse the cuts already imposed over the past twelve months and to defend the rights and living standards of workers and the less well off in our society.”

Responding to the report, éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “This report reflects the thinking of a government committed to a failed neo-liberal ideology.

“While Colm McCarthy may have chaired the group, Fianna Fáil’s fingerprints are all over it. For the last 12 years, Fianna Fáil in government has been more interested in supporting the interests of a privileged elite in Irish society than addressing the needs of the majority. Rather than investing in public services and developing universal health and education systems, it chose to facilitate private profiteering.

“Working class communities in rural and urban areas are suffering because of the greed of Fianna Fáil’s developer friends. Not content to risk billions of euros of taxpayers’ money in bailing out the very people who created the economic mess, Fianna Fáil, through their proxy Colm McCarthy, is proposing both utter devastation upon the most vulnerable in Irish society and the gutting of the public sector. This cannot and will not be allowed to happen.

“éirígí is calling upon communities, workers, trade unions and activists to mobilise in their tens of thousands to prevent these cuts. It is the only way in which they can be stopped. The choice now is simple: the business and political class wish to cement a society based on greed and poverty for the majority, the rest of us must build a vision of a country based on public ownership and a decent life for all.”

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shell to Sea – Greens at Sea!

Stop the Great Oil and Gas Robbery

éirígí activists today, July 18, took part in a Shell to Sea protest outside of the Green Party special conference in Dublin. Those attending the meeting were met with a colourful and noisy reminder of their party’s role in the Corrib gas giveaway.

Shell to Sea banner on LUAS bridge

Up to twenty people took part in the protest, which lasted for three hours, outside the Hilton hotel on Charlemont Place. Green Party members entering the hotel were handed leaflets and encouraged to raise the Corrib gas issue at the conference.

De Búrca challenged on Greens record

As is usual with such Shell to Sea protests, passing pedestrians and motorists were largely sympathetic. Indeed at one point those on a passing barge on the nearby Grand Canal joined in the protest, using a speaker system on board to make their point. Their amplified chants of ‘Shell to Sea’ caused much annoyance to both the Green delegates and the ever-present Gardaí.

Barge joins in protest

Unfortunately it is believed that John Gormley & Co chose to ignore the message contained on one éirígí poster, which called on the Greens to ‘stop talking through your ass and nationalise the Corrib gas’.

éirígí's posters make the point

Speaking at the protest éirígí’s Joanne McDonald said, “Today was a good opportunity for us to highlight the role that the Green Party is playing in the giveaway of Ireland’s natural resources. Their collaboration with Shell stands in direct contradiction to their claims of concern for the global environment. Such hypocrisy needs to be exposed at every opportunity.”

Joanne McDonald keeps up the pressure

For more on éirígí’s ‘We Only Want the Earth Campaign’ please click here.
We Only Want the Earth!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Orange Order have no place in a civilised society

Tír Chonaill éirígí spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has described the Orange Order as a bigoted sectarian organisation that has no place in a civilised society. He has also called on Sinn Féin and the SDLP to withdraw their support for the PSNI following their violent attacks on peaceful protestors as they forced an Orange Order march through Ardoyne in north Belfast.

He was speaking following marches by the Orange Order on Saturday in Ballintra and Rossnowlagh in Donegal and on Monday through Ardoyne in Belfast.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: “In recent times there has been a concerted effort by the political establishment and by sections of the media in this state to portray the Orange Order as a benevolent organisation. The reality is the complete opposite. The Order is a bigoted sectarian organisation that has no place in a civilised society.”

“That Donegal County Council were officially represented at an Orange Order pre-parade launch beggars belief. It is an insult to the many nationalist communities throughout the six counties who every summer have had to endure the triumphalism, bigotry and intimidation of the Orange Order as they, assisted by the PSNI, force unwanted sectarian parades through their areas. Their drunken, sectarian behaviour in the Ardoyne on Monday revealed once again the true nature of the Orange Order and what it represents.”

Commenting on the role of the PSNI in forcing Monday’s march throught the Ardoyne in Belfast, MacGiolla Easbuig said: “The actions of the PSNI in suppressing peaceful protests against the Orange parade and then unleashing a wave of violence against the Ardoyne community is outrageous and indefensible. Sinn Féin’s spurious accusation that éirígí were involved in orchestrating rioting in North Belfast was a deliberate lie to divert attention away from the firing of plastic bullets, batoning of innocent people and deployment of water cannons by their police force.”

“When the SDLP and Sinn Féin signed up to support the PSNI they claimed that it would become an accountable police force, would no longer engage in human rights abuses and would respect the rights of nationalists and republicans. These lies have now been exposed for all to see.”

He concluded: “I am now calling on the SDLP and Sinn Féin to withdraw their support for this discredited police force and to remove all their party members from the Policing Boards. It is long past time for them to stop providing political cover for those state gunmen who opened fire in Ardoyne on Monday to suppress peaceful protests by the local community.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Challenge to politicians over Human Rights abuses in Mayo

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has described as “shameful” the silence of the north-west’s TD’s and MEP’s over continuing human rights abuses being inflicted on those opposed to the giveaway of our natural resources to Shell in County Mayo. He also claimed that the police forces of this state have become enforcers for Shell law, abandoning their own laws and has challenged these local politicians to make public their stance on these abuses.

Casey said: “In recent weeks, as the pipe laying ship, the Solitaire, has returned to Broadhaven Bay to commence work yet again on Shells pipe-line, intimidation of local residents and shell to sea campaigners has intensified. Local fishermen have been arbitarily arrested as they worked and have had their boats impounded at Shell’s insistence. Despite the fact that these fishermen have a licence to fish where they were doing so, the Gardai have tried to justify their actions by claiming they were breaching a 500-metre exclusion zone around the Solitaire. However, according to the Department of Transport no such zone exists.”

He added: “Local campaigners, including Willie Corduff, one of the Rossport five, have been severely assaulted and hospitalised while one fisherman also had his boat sank. Both incidents were carried out by gangs of masked individuals. In both instances the Gardai treated the victims of these attacks with hostility and have not investigated these incidents. Yet the Gardai are regularly arresting and assaulting peaceful protestors against this project while ignoring completely the regular law breaking being carried out by Shell and its security goons.”

“The actions of Shell, with the assistance of the Gardai, navy and their political masters, in north Mayo are outrageous. The only viable solution to this dispute is for our natural resources in the Corrib gas field and elsewhere to be nationalised. This would allow the local community's genuine environmental concerns to be properly addressed also."

"Our health and education services have suffered major cutbacks in recent times, with nurses and other essential front line staff being laid off. Hospital wards are being shut down and cancer services are being removed. School transport fees are set to increase dramatically with special needs classes being scrapped. Yet as they prepare to inflict even more cutbacks and hardship on workers and those reliant on social welfare, this administration continues to refuse to bring an end to the giveaway of our natural resources.”

He concluded: “Local TD's and MEP's have all remained silent as the people of Erris have suffered continued harassment, intimidation, assault, arbitary arrest and jailing at the hands of the Gardai and the IRMS at the behest of Shell. They have betrayed the people that they claim to represent. They should hang their heads in shame. I am now challenging them to make public their stance on these continuing abuses and the give away to Shell of these valuable resources that belong to the Irish people.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ardoyne: In the Eye of a Sectarian Storm

Gunmen in ArdoyneAs the PSNI opened fire with plastic bullets in north Belfast yesterday [Monday], the carefully constructed façade of a civic police service came tumbling down around them.

Of course, for many working class communities in the Six Counties there was never any meaningful attempt to construct this façade. Since the name change from RUC to PSNI, the paramilitary police have used CS gas and Tasers on an almost weekly basis, maintained fortified barracks in many areas and remained routinely armed.

The indiscriminate use of plastic bullets in Ardoyne, however, should have been recognised as a statement of intent by all those who believed, or wanted to believe, that the PSNI had really changed. The PSNI, like the RUC before it, will force sectarian marches through nationalist areas by any means necessary, including the use of lethal weaponry.

As nationalist residents gathered at Ardoyne shops to peacefully protest against the Orange Order’s coat trailing procession, there must have been a depressing sense of déjà vu. For decades, the community in Ardoyne has been demanding respect and the right to live free from sectarian harassment and, for decades, the RUC-PSNI has been accommodating every unionist attempt to harass, disrespect and, all too often, kill members of that community.

As the Orange Order passed Ardoyne, 300 drunken unionists gathered opposite in Twaddell Avenue to dance and sing sectarian party songs. Dignified nationalist residents, meanwhile, were corralled and forced back into their own area by the PSNI.

This was the reality of Orange Fest 2009 for nationalist north Belfast; an unwanted sectarian march, the deployment of hundreds of riot police to curtail freedom of movement, taunting by hundreds of drunken bigots and an attack on a peaceful protest – all facilitated by the British state in the form of the Six County Parades Commission.

Residents were completely hemmed in to allow the Orange march to passThe violent response by some nationalist youths to yesterday’s situation was as predictable as it was undesirable. The Orange Order is well aware that north Belfast is a tinderbox, made so by years of discrimination, poverty, oppression and sectarianism.

Eighty per cent of those on the social housing waiting list in north Belfast are from nationalist communities. It is only nine years since one of most the blatantly sectarian campaigns in the history of the Six County state was launched when baying mobs attempted to prevent the children of Ardoyne from entering Holy Cross Primary School. Meanwhile, across the North, nationalists remain two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than unionists.

If the Orange Order was motivated by anything other than the notion of supremacism, it would have rerouted yesterday’s march in the interests of peace. It didn’t.

As a result, the PSNI was let loose on the people of Ardoyne to fire plastic bullets, baton innocent people and deploy water canon.

In 2001, one of the last acts of the Six County Police Authority was to supply the PSNI with an extra 50,000 plastic bullets. The potential for further violence on the part of the paramilitary police remains real.

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson called on the nationalist parties to withdraw support from the PSNI in response to events in Ardoyne.

“When the nationalist parties went onto the Six County Policing Board, they did so with the expressed aim of ending the human rights abuses of the RUC and holding the PSNI to account,” Leeson said.

“In July 2009, it must be recognised that this project has failed utterly – the PSNI remains a violent unionist paramilitary force, dedicated to maintaining the sectarian state in the Six Counties.

To what extent have the PSNI and its Chief Constable been held to account?“Given recent events, how can working-class nationalists be expected to lend their support to the PSNI?

“The time has come for Sinn Féin and the SDLP to withdraw from the Six County Policing Board and properly represent the interests of their communities. Failure to do so provides political cover for the state gunmen who entered Ardoyne and opened fire to suppress a nationalist protest.”

Meanwhile, party general secretary Breandán MacCionnaith dismissed Sinn Féin claims that éirígí was in some way involved in yesterday’s rioting.

“The suggestion by Sinn Féin that éirígí orchestrated the rioting that occurred in Ardoyne is a transparent attempt to divert attention away from the outrageous actions of the PSNI,” MacCionnaith said.

“I challenge Sinn Féin to produce a shred of evidence to support their claims of éirígí involvement in rioting.

“If Sinn Féin thinks it can use éirígí to hide the contradictions of its support for a paramilitary police force, they will be sorely disappointed. Sinn Féin would do better to focus on the actions of their friends in the PSNI than attacking republicans. The dogs in the street know that the Sinn Féin leadership is deeply worried by the growing support for éirígí’s political message. This is the context in which this latest attack on éirígí by Sinn Féin should be seen.”

MacCionnaith concluded: “éirígí commends the community in Ardoyne for taking the decision to peacefully oppose a sectarian march through their community. Like the communities of the Ormeau Road in south Belfast, Erris in County Mayo and the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, they have shown true courage in facing up to the forces of a state intent on suppressing their rights.”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

éirígí demand reversal of home help cutbacks

Tír Chonaill éirígí spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has slammed cutbacks by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in the home help support service and has called for them to be reversed immediately.

MacGiolla Easbuig was speaking as a protest march against the cutbacks took place through Ballybofey in County Donegal on Saturday (July 11) in protest at these cutbacks. Between twenty five and thirty thousand home help hours are to be cut in Donegal alone, with similar cutbacks proposed throughout the state. This follows a reduction already in home help hours for 2008 and further cuts which were introduced by the HSE earlier this year. The rally was organised by the Donegal branches of the SIPTU and IMPACT trade unions.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: "The provision of home help is an essential service and a vital life-line for many elderly and sick people throughout the country, but particularly in rural areas like Donegal. That these services are now been cut back in such a manner is disgraceful. The people dependent on these services are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They need more assistance, not less."

He added: "The reality is that we have an aging population in this state, which increases the necessity for these services. However, home help services actually save the state considerable expense. By taking care of those in need within the community it prevents them from being needlessly forced into nursing homes. It prevents the deterioration of their health and their hospitalisation for acute treatment at a far greater financial cost. Proper care within the community improves their quality of life as they deserve but also reduces the cost to the tax-payer."

He concluded: "These cutbacks will hurt the sick and elderly, are unjust and must be reversed immediately. The HSE and their political masters need to invest increased funding and resources into home help support and other similar community services, to expand and improve the service further. Our elderly deserve first class care and must not be made to pay for the greed and corruption of the politicians, bankers and developers that led to the current recession.”

Saturday, July 11, 2009

TEEU Strike an Important Juncture in the Class Struggle

Electricians' picket at Lansdowne RoadIn action that began on Monday [July 6], pickets have been placed and maintained on companies and building sites across the Twenty-Six Counties in strike action involving 10,500 electricians who are members of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union [TEEU].

The membership of the TEEU has taken the action of confronting wealthy electrical contractors to ensure that their terms and conditions of employment and their wider rights as workers are upheld.

Electrical contractors, who made huge sums of money during the Celtic Tiger era by exploiting the labour of electricians, are now pleading that they are unable to pay workers for services rendered. Having pocketed their share of the spoils of the construction boom, the organisations representing electrical contractors, the Electrical Contractors Association [ECA] and the Association of Electrical Contractors [AECI], have been demanding not only that monies owed by them to their workers not be paid, but that electricians take a 10 per cent pay cut.

The monies owed to electricians amount to an 11 per cent wage increase, and are owed since April 2007, inclusive of another wage rise due since April 2008. This, as yet unpaid, back-pay stems from the outworking of a wage calculation mechanism contained in what is known as a Registered Employment Agreement [REA].

The TEEU, the ECA and AECI are all signatories to the REA mechanism, which outlines terms and conditions of employment for, in this case, electricians. The electrical contractors’ organisations, as part of their contribution to the ‘race to the bottom’, have been anxious to put an end to the use of REAs for the past number of years and are cynically using the current economic recession as a means to achieve this. The bosses decided not to pay ‘when times were good’, and now seek to use the default position of demanding that workers bear the burden of urgently required economic ‘adjustments’ as a means to pocket what are the rightfully earned wages of workers.

The particulars of the dispute notwithstanding, the actions of the TEEU are significant in that they are reflective of the glaring need for workers right across Ireland to organise and struggle for their rights without delay.

The actions of sections of the trade union leadership in reining in working class militancy has long been noted by those most affected by it. That they have, in effect, agreed to live with the savage measures introduced by the Twenty-Six County government to save Irish capitalism – such as the pension levy – confirms the notion that the interests of sections of this leadership are the same as those of big business and government.

Eamon Devoy and Owen Wills of the TEEUIt is to be hoped that the TEEU strike marks a turning point, however belated, in how the trade union movement responds to the latest manifestation of the periodic crises that are endemic to the capitalist system of production and social organisation. The statement by the TEEU’s secretary general-designate, Eamon Devoy, to the effect that an all-out picket of the whole construction industry will occur if the dispute is not resolved, plus the fact that ICTU approved this measure on Tuesday [July 7], are potentially very significant.

These developments and a declaration on the issue by SIPTU president Jack O’ Connor all indicate that the mood amongst trade union rank-and-file and sections of the union leadership is indeed changing.

On Tuesday, O'Connor stated: “Ultimately the electricians must be supported by all workers because the employers’ objective of cutting pay and tearing up agreements reflects the primary aim of the wealthy elite in our society, which is, above all else, to preserve their own assets and privileged position. Their shallow analysis of the crisis therefore sees attacks on workers living standards as the best way of repairing the damage done to our economy by the array of speculators, developers and their cronies.”

The announcement on Thursday [July 9] by the bosses’ organisations that their demand for a 10 per cent pay cut has been dropped from negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission is a clear indication that the strike action mounted by the TEEU is having the desired effect; strike action hurts the capitalist class where it really hurts – in the pocket.

It is éirígí’s belief that the interests of working people will only be realised when the trade union movement establishes itself as a militant force for the advancement of the working class. The type of militancy required at this juncture must involve the use of strike action.

The membership of the TEEU has shown the way in this regard. The striking electricians have demonstrated the truth of the statement that ‘not a light-bulb or switch goes on without the say so of the working class’.

They have demonstrated something of the attitude that the working class generally will need to adopt if its role as perennial servant to the interests of capital is to ever change.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Latin America unites in opposition to coup d’état in Honduras

Manuel Zelaya, second from left, with other Latin American leadersOn Sunday 28th June 2009 the President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya was deposed by the Honduran military at the behest of “rightwing oligarchs”, as the President himself later termed those behind the most recent coup d’état to blight Latin America.

In the weeks preceding his forcible removal from power, Zelaya had come into conflict with the Honduran Congress; had twice been accused of acting illegally by the Supreme Court; had been called upon to resign by his Attorney General; and had clashed publicly with the heads of the Defence Staff, Army, Navy and Air Force, all of whom were subsequently either fired or resigned.

And the reason for the ‘State’ and military coming into conflict with President Zelaya and finally electing to depose him? Because, as President, he had the temerity to ask the people of Honduras for their input into how the country should be run. Zelaya has been unequivocal in his assertion that the coup has been carried out “by a very voracious elite, an elite which wants only to keep this country isolated, in an extreme level of poverty”.

Having come to the realisation that the Honduran economic, political and social system grossly favoured the wealthy and propertied classes, Zelaya pushed for a referendum as to whether or not the Honduran constitution should be re-written. The intention being, given social realities, that any new constitution arising out of a national process of debate and consultation would be one based upon more egalitarian principles. In this he had been influenced by the process that led to the Venezuelan Constitution being re-written to give legal effect to a new and qualitatively different understanding of the economic, political and social rights of the people of Venezuela.

As is the case in much of Latin America, in Honduras egregious wealth exists cheek-by-jowl with the most grinding poverty. The available figures show that in a country of 7.5 million people it is estimated that 44.4% of the population live on less that $2 per day, with 23.8% living on less than $1. This equates to 3.3 million Hondurans living on less than $2 a day (United Nations Human Development Report, 2001).

Police and military remove a pro-Zelaya protestorAccording to the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), “rural poverty in Honduras is among the most severe in Latin America. Approximately 53% of the population is rural, and it is estimated that 75% of the rural population lives below the poverty line, unable to meet basic needs. The country still has high rates of population growth, infant mortality, child malnutrition and illiteracy. These and other social and economic factors reflect its status as the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti.”

Zelaya’s deposing in such dramatic fashion demonstrates how little the Honduran military, oligarchy, and anti-democratic forces were willing to countenance even the most modest of political and economic changes required in that country. To do so would have been to surrender the privileges that they enjoy at the expense of the majority of Hondurans who are exploited and forced to live lives of misery. In this regard, what is happening in Honduras is reflective of a wider battle that is taking place over the future of Latin America.

Those behind the coup in Honduras are trying by their actions to insure that Honduras doesn’t go the way of all those other Lain American countries that over the last decade have set their faces to the construction of more decent and inclusive societies, and a Latin America that functions in a more integrated and co-operative manner. The reaction of the governments and peoples of the region to the coup is indicative of the manner in which the politics of Latin America have changed; the reaction is indicative of the extent to which the peoples of that part of the American continent are rising to assert their rights and beginning to draw the simple conclusion that the realisation of their rights necessarily requires that the yoke of neo-liberalism and imperialism be cast off.

Almost all of the governments of Latin America have closed ranks in condemning the coup. A number (Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua) have indicated that the situation might necessitate military intervention (a number of diplomats from Venezuela and Cuba were assaulted when the Honduran Foreign Minister was taken away by the military in the middle of a meeting with said diplomats). Leading the charge in defence of the integrity of Honduras are the countries that comprise ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), of which Honduras is a member.

ALBA is a bloc of nine member countries (Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Ecuador, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda – and two observers, namely Paraguay and Grenada) which sees its primary role being to increase co-operation between the countries of the region on terms that are mutually beneficial and non-exploitative. Its ideology is decidedly left-wing in orientation. From the ALBA process has arisen the notion of ‘Our America’, indicative as it is of the rise of democratic and progressive social forces in the region that reject the pernicious influence of the US and its various neo-liberal institutions of plunder.

Police move in against pro-Zelaya protestorsThe term is an explicit rejection of the notion that the American continent be defined by, and for, white North Americans and their assorted interests. Central to the recent shift in the political landscape of Latin America is an understanding that the fate of the people of Latin America rests upon a collective approach. Outside of the ALBA bloc, recent elections have also brought left-wing governments to power in Paraguay and El Salvador. The governments of both countries have also condemned the putschists. In fact, not a single country has, of now, recognised the illegal government of Roberto Michelletti.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) has moved to expel Honduras, coming only weeks as it does after the Organisation, formerly Washington’s lapdog and mouthpiece in the region, moved to rebuke the US itself for its decades-old enmity towards Cuba. Even Colombia has declared Zelaya to be the lawful President.

That Colombian President Uribe and the US both condemn the coup is further indication of where the balance of power lies in the region. This is not to suggest that either is in favour of Zelaya or the modest reforms he proposes. Their real concern is of course that he represents another leftist ‘domino’ that will further contribute to the growing opposition to US imperialism in the region. In particular the US fear that a progressive government in Honduras will end the state of affairs that sees several hundred US troops stationed at Soto Cano Air Base, a Honduran military installation that is also the headquarters for a regional U.S. joint task force.

In fact, such are the interests at stake there is mounting evidence to suggest that the US was indeed involved in the coup in Honduras. Writing in the Cuban daily Rebelión in response to reports of the involvement of the US, Hugo Morliz Mercado notes that “renouncing subversion and counterinsurgency would be to deny its (the US’s) very nature. For Honduras not to become the Nicaragua of the 1980s and the Haiti of 2004, it is necessary for the peoples and governments of "Our America" to increase the pressure and to maintain their guard as to what the United States is going to do”. (For more on this issue see Eva Golinger’s article at

But the US and its allies are limited in what they can say publicly owing to the widespread groundswell of opinion against the coup, and this is significant in and of itself. The public reaction of the US administration is certainly different to its reaction to the coup it helped orchestrate against Hugo Chávez in 2002. Then, the US State Department expressed its support for the coup, declaring that “undemocratic actions committed or encouraged by the Chavez administration provoked yesterday's crisis in Venezuela” (US State Department press statement, April 12, 2002). All of this would tend to confirm that the forces of capitalism and reaction are reeling in the region, and indeed right across the globe. Economically, in terms of people losing faith in the orthodoxies of the past, and militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq and their inability to intervene in other areas where they would if they could.

Pro-Zelaya protestors challenge the militaryOn the streets of the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa and right across the region the cry that is heard is that of “the people united, will never be defeated.” Leaders from the Popular Resistance Front, a newly created broad-front comprised of trade unions, farmers, youth organizations, and students etc., have called for an escalation of protests to secure the return of President Zelaya.

From his refuge in Costa Rica President Zelaya has announced his willingness to talk to the putschists. He has however indicated that this will only happen on the basis that it results in the reinstatement of his government, stating as that “there are things that cannot be negotiated, such as the reestablishment of democracy and the return to power of the deposed president. The restoration of the government is not on the table, I will not betray the people that are in the streets”.

The Honduran masses are mobilizing and it looks like it is only a matter of time until the reactionary capitalist and military putschists are removed from power.

While Zelaya might be in exile at present, his wife has come out of hiding in the last few days and appears to be prepared to assume a leadership role in his absence. At a rally on Tuesday 7th July Xiomara Castro appealed to the Honduran masses to continue the struggle, stating that “there are men and women who are giving their hearts and their lives to this cause. President Zelaya raised this banner, which is not his, but that of the people, but not those people joining marches with women who have just come out of the beauty salons or wearing expensive sunglasses, but the real people that we are seeing here, the majority in our country, campesinos, workers and other sectors.”

The struggle on the streets of Honduras is in its essence a struggle between the past and the future, between the forces of reaction and progress, between the forces of capital and the rights and needs of people. The dignity of Latin America has been reclaimed by the hard work and struggle of the masses during the past decade. The maintenance of its dignity depends upon the overthrow of the putschists and the continuation of the project to build a Latin America based upon the principles of solidarity and co-operation.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shell to Sea activists target Solitaire supply ship in Killybegs

Tír Chonaill éirígí spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has commended the Shell to Sea activists involved in Monday’s protest at the Toisa Independent supply ship in Killybegs port. He has also called on the local community in Killybegs and throughout the rest of Donegal to give whatever support they can to the protestors and to the campaign against the give-away of our natural resources in Mayo.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: “The actions of the Shell to Sea activists who blockaded and boarded the Toisa Independent in Killybegs on Monday are to be commended. This vessel is a vital cog in supplying the pipe-laying ship the Solitaire, which is currently laying the pipeline for Shell in Broadhaven Bay in North Mayo. Any actions which help to thwart and prevent the Solitaire from laying its pipe-line are very welcome.”

He added: “Since the arrival of the Solitaire back off the Mayo coast in recent weeks, we have seen an intensification of the repression and intimidation of the local community and local fishermen by the forces of the state and by Shell security. Peaceful protestors have been arbitarily arrested and jailed. Local campaigners have been assaulted and hospitalised. Local fishermen, such as Pat O’Donnell and his family, have had their boats sank by armed and masked thugs. They have been prevented from earning their living by the Gardai who have arrested them while they legitimately went about their work and who have also impounded their boats at the insistence of Shell.”

“We are curently in the midst of a major economic recession. The Fianna Fáil led administration have imposed pay cuts and income levies. They have made major cuts in the provision of essential public services. Nurses are being laid off, hospital wards are being shut and cancer services are being moved. Now they are gearing up to attack even further those trying to survive on social welfare by slashing their income even further.”

“Yet according to the administration themselves, the state has over €500 billion worth of oil and gas off the west coast in Irish waters. However, the Irish people will not benefit from this vast wealth as in 1987, the then Minister for Energy Ray Burke ended all state involvement in oil and gas development, abolished all royalty payments and introduced a 100% tax write-off against capital expenditure for the energy companies.”

“It is now imperative that these reserves and all other natural resources are nationalised and utilised for the benefit of all the people. éirígí seek the renegotiation of all existing oil and gas exploration contracts and the creation of a new state-controlled oil and gas exploration company. The wealth generated should be utilised to provide investment in efficient and effective health and education systems for all, to end fuel poverty and to redress the neglect by the state in areas such as infrastructure, job creation and childcare.”

He concluded: “éirígí re-iterate our support for the campaign to have the gas from the Corrib field refined at sea and for all our natural resources to be nationalised. I would also like to urge the people of Killybegs and all of Donegal to give whatever support they can to the fishermen and local community affected by Shell’s activities in North Mayo and to the protestors engaged in actions like that carried out in Killybegs on Monday. We must all stand together against Shell and their corrupt allies in Leinster House.”

Twenty-Six County’s Week of Shame in Mayo

The Solitaire, with Navy escortWhen the world’s largest pipe-laying ship, the Solitaire, arrived off the coast of county Mayo last week it did so under a massive protective shield provided by the Twenty-Six County state. The Gardaí, the Navy and the Air Corps have all been mobilised to assist Shell lay a seventy-kilometre pipeline from the Corrib Gas field to the Mayo coast. If Shell has its way it is through this pipeline that billions of euros worth of Irish gas will flow – straight into the bank accounts of Shell’s shareholders.

In addition to the three hundred Gardaí, the two Navy ships, the planes and the helicopters the Twenty-Six County government have also brought their ‘justice’ system out to bat for Shell.

In anticipation of the Solitaire’s arrival on Thursday, June 25, Gardaí arrested local fishermen Pat ‘the Chief’ O’Donnell and his son Jonathan while they were laying crab pots in Broadhaven Bay. Both Pat and Johnathan have steadfastly resisted Shell over the last number of years, becoming a constant thorn in the side of the giant energy company.

The Gardaí ludicrously claimed the pair had been ‘loitering’ in the area. While Pat was released later on in the evening, Jonathan was held in Castlerea Prison overnight before being charged with wilful obstruction and loitering. Following his release Pat was admitted to hospital as a result of injured sustained as the Gardaí boarded his boat.

Residents protest the continued seizure of Pat's boatSuch pre-emptive arrests have no place in a genuine democracy and only serve to expose the true nature of the southern state. If last week’s arrests were shocking they were not surprising. Last year Pat was detained under similar circumstances as the Solitaire arrived into the area. And so the right to liberty was extinguished.

As the Shell to Sea campaign, the Rossport Solidarity Camp and the local community began to organise direct action opposition to The Solitaire the courts of ‘justice’ were quick to show that they too were on the side of Shell.

On Monday, June 29, at a hearing in Ballina District Court, seven Shell to Sea protestors were remanded into custody by Judge Mary Devins, wife of Fianna Fáil Minister Jimmy Devins. Of the seven the four women were sent to Mountjoy Women’s Prison in Dublin and the three men to Castlerea Prison in Roscommon. A further two protesters were released but ordered to surrender their passports and barred from entering County Mayo.

The seven imprisoned protestors had all been arrested on minor public order offences, and though none of them had any previous convictions, all were denied bail. The judge also denied and deferred requests for free legal aid, stating it “can no longer be dished out like Smarties”. And so was the right to defend oneself was removed.

Broadhevn Bay is now littered with Shell and State vesselsFittingly, as Shell and their allies were riding roughshod over the people of Erris Amnesty International published a report on June 30 entitled Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta, in which they refer to the situation in that region as a “human rights tragedy”.

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights and author of the report, said:

“The people of the Niger Delta have seen their human rights undermined by oil companies that their government cannot – or will not – hold to account. They have been systematically denied access to information about how oil exploration and production will affect them, and they are repeatedly denied access to justice.”

The words above could easily apply to the people of Erris in particular and to the people of Ireland in general. By the Dublin government’s own admission there are hundreds of billions of euros worth of oil and gas reserves off the coast of Ireland. The Corrib reserve is the first of these reserves to be brought online. Shell and their friends in the Dublin government understand the importance of winning this first round if they are to successfully plunder the rest of those reserves.

But the people of Ireland are not stupid. With every passing day more and more of them are asking the question ‘What is going on in Mayo?’ And with the answer to that question comes the realisation that there is much more at stake in the Battle for Corrib than just gas. The actions of the Twenty-Six County state over the last week have been nothing short of those of a fascist corporate state.

Over the course of the next twelve to eighteen months Shell will attempt to bring its refinery in Mayo into full production. Before it can achieve that objective the pipeline will need to cross seven kilometres of farmland, bog and commonage. It is on that ground that the next round of the Battle for Corrib will be fought. And when that battle is joined every republican, every socialist, every democrat and every progressive in Ireland have a duty to be there and stand together against Shell and their corrupt allies in the Dublin government.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Irish Language Flourishes Despite Official Attitudes

The Irish Language and the Irish PeopleWhen a survey on attitudes to and use of the Irish language in the Twenty-Six Counties was published in April, it was found that the vast majority of participants held a positive outlook on the native tongue. However, another report published in May shows how far behind the times the politicians of Leinster House are.

The survey, The Irish Language and the Irish People, found that over 93% of those who took part were positive about the language and wanted to see it preserved or revived. In terms of language use, almost half were rated as reasonably competent and one-quarter use the language regularly.

This level of growth was considered disappointing but the survey’s author Fr Micheál Mac Gréil added that, “Never since the time of the Famine was there so many people with a reasonable standard of Irish.”

The survey also found that this positive attitude towards the language was as prevalent among foreign-born participants as it was with those who were Irish-born.

Speaking at the launch of the survey, 26-County Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív said, “It has been my own experience that in general, migrants who settle here in Ireland are open and positive about the Irish language, and many make the effort to learn Irish, particularly if they have children in school here.”

Éamon Ó CuívHowever, a report published on May 11 by 26-County Coimisinéir Teanga [Language Commissioner] Seán Ó Cuirreáin found that Ó Cuív’s own department was one of several bodies failing the Irish language community and in breach of language legislation as well.

Ó Cuirreáin’s annual report for 2008 found that other departments at fault were the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Department of Social and Family Affairs, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Department of Education and Science, and the Department of Transport.

It also found that statutory bodies such as the Heritage Council, the Equality Authority and the Health Service Executive (HSE) were defaulting on their duties.

Ó Cuirreáin’s office received almost 600 complaints last year from Irish speakers unable to avail of state services in their native language. One-third of complaints came from Gaeltacht regions.

It seemed in some cases that government departments were needlessly trying to aggravate Irish speakers. In one instance it was found that the Department of Social and Family Affairs was going out of its way to remove the síneadh fada [accent] from the name of every child that was registered in Irish.

GaelscoileannaThe backward policies continue unabated. The Irish-medium schools body Gaelscoileanna condemned the 26-County Department of Education for refusing to recognise seven new Irish-medium schools due to open in September this year.

In September 2008 26-County Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe began a review process and announced that no new schools would be opened, except in ‘rapidly developing areas’. All seven schools fall within these areas, and yet the Department continues to refuse recognition.

Gaelscoileanna also criticised the Department for maintaining Circular 0044/2007, which was introduced in 2007 by then-minister Mary Hanafin and exists to undermine the total immersion education system that is employed in Irish-medium schools. And this despite recently-published figures that once again show the benefits of the immersion method.

The Irish News reported on May 5 that: “According to [British] government targets, children should reach level four by the end of primary 7. Figures from 2007/08 obtained by The Irish News show that 82 per cent of children in Irish-medium schools achieved level four or five in English compared to 78.8 per cent of children in English-medium schools.

“Separate figures provided by Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta (InaG), the trust fund for the sector, compared performances over a three-year period. They showed that Irish-medium schools outperformed others in each of the three years in both English and Maths.”

Scoil an tSeachtar LaochIn the Six Counties, Irish-medium education remains in a similar ordeal of struggle. Schools such as Gaelscoil Éanna and Coláiste Speirín continue to fight for recognition from the Stormont Department of Education. Meanwhile the entire sector continues to wait on the outcome of the Department’s Review of Irish-Medium Education, on which consultation ended in January.

The Department’s initial proposals caused concern among Irish language educationalists. It recommended that small Irish-medium schools be federated with larger English-medium schools and that units and streams be promoted over free-standing Irish-medium schools. These proposals would result in the undermining of total immersion education in the Six Counties.

With both partitionist states again showing their true colours against a revolutionary educational project that began in the early 1970s with Scoil an tSeachtar Laoch in Ballymun and Scoil Ghaeilge Bhéal Feirste in West Belfast, it once again falls to ordinary people to ensure that such reactionary agendas end in failure and that the Irish language and Irish language communities continue to flourish throughout the country.