Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bailing out the Rich and Powerful

Brian LenihanThe contrasting fortunes of workers and the business class during the current economic recession are encapsulated in the Twenty-Six County government’s proposed legislation establishing an Assets Management Agency (NAMA), a scheme that proposes the state take over of ‘toxic’ loans from banks.

While the Dublin government seeks innumerable ways to bail out bankers and developers, the crisis in capitalism continues to wreak havoc on working class communities. Unemployment is expected to reach over 500,000 by the year’s end. By then, at least one in five will be reliant on welfare payments while trying to pay exorbitant mortgages on over priced houses.

Just last weekend, workers at the parcel delivery company, UPS in Tallaght, were informed that 200 jobs were being slashed. Workers at Thomas Cook who occupied the Dublin offices in protest at the loss of jobs and meager redundancy offers were hauled before the courts for daring to stand up for their right to work.

Meanwhile, Dublin dockers are being denied the right to work by the British company Marine Terminals Ltd. In scenes reminiscent of the 1913 Lockout, Dublin workers have been locked out by the company now employing scab labour to work at cheaper rates.

The Dublin government’s response to the growing crisis facing workers has, unsurprisingly, been to ignore the plight of the working class and to instead secure the vast wealth of property developers and the profits of private banks.

Workers face a daily barrage of comment from government ministers, IBEC, the right- wing press and quack economists about the need to ensure ‘competitiveness’. This new mantra is simply an attempt to force workers to accept jobs cuts and pay cuts: all in the ‘national’ interest of course.

There has been no attempt by the state to intervene to secure jobs at companies such as Waterford Crystal, where a viable company was allowed to go the wall and skilled workers thrown on the dole.

Waterford Crystal under occupationRather, workers who have been in no way responsible for the economic depression face the greatest burden. This has come in the form of income levies, increased pension levies, increased VAT charges, slashes across the public services, and if recommendations from the Commission on Taxation are implemented, additional taxes in the form of water charges and domestic property tax.

So what of those who were directly responsible for the current crisis? Have they been made to pay for the mess which they created? Emphatically, no: an unholy trinity of bankers, developers and politicians has worked assiduously over recent months to secure their collective interests.

Measures taken to date include the bank guarantee scheme, supported by all political parties in Leinster House with the exception of the Labour Party. The guarantee scheme means the taxpayer is liable to bear the cost of losses on bank loans, which include up to 1,000 development borrowers with loans in excess of €10 million (£8.8 million), ten of which have loans of more than €500 million (£439 million), while some have debts in excess of €1 billion (£879 million).

The state also chosen to nationalise the losses of Anglo-Irish Bank and has injected €7 billion (£6.2 billion) of tax-payers’ money into the Bank of Ireland and AIB. Meanwhile, the McCarthy report recommending over €5 billion (£4.4 billion) in cuts hangs like the sword of Damocles over the public services.

All of that has not been enough to satisfy the rich and powerful. So, in September, the Dublin government will present the NAMA legislation before Leinster House. If passed, the Twenty-Six County state will use taxpayers’ money to purchase €90,000,000,000 (£79 billion) worth of bad debt from the banks, in the form of loans to some of the richest people in the country. Thus, in the course of the current crisis, the only state intervention into the market has been to secure the interests and profits of a tiny wealthy elite.

At the height of the boom, the extent of profits made by the Twenty-Six County state’s largest construction companies and banks was astounding. In 2007, the two largest banks in the state, AIB and Bank of Ireland, declared combined profits just short of €4,500,000,000 (£4 billion). This orgy of profiteering was secured through property and financial speculation.

The property bubbleIn 2005, the top 25 property related companies in the Twenty-Six Counties declared combined profits in excess of €500 million (£439 million) and a turnover of €5 billion (£4.4 billion). Ordinary workers, heavily encouraged by the state and establishment media to ‘get on the property bubble’, were offered 100 per cent mortgages on houses that were grossly overpriced.

Over the 10-year period, 1995-2005, new house prices increased by 254 per cent across the state, with prices in Dublin rising by an extraordinary 305 per cent. By 2007, the average price of a new house in Dublin reached €416,000 (£366,000). Over the last 12 months, house prices have consistently fallen, with the average price of a new house in Dublin sitting at €290,000 (£255,000). Consequently, tens of thousands of households are now saddled with negative equity and unmanageable debt.

As some economies in Europe begin to emerge from recession, there is the prospect of interest rate increases, deepening the crisis facing mortgage holders. However, unlike wealthy property developers there is no scheme in place to rescue ordinary households. The same reluctance to foreclose on property developers will certainly not be extended to mortgage holders.

The Dublin government proposals to establish NAMA amply demonstrates that the interests of the business class in the Twenty-Six Counties overrides all others. The scheme proposes the transfer of ‘toxic’ loans from the banks to a state run asset management agency. The Dublin government has said that it will pay above the current market value of the loans it buys, basing its calculations on long-term ‘economic value’.

This is simply a device to inflate property values, which have collapsed in recent times and exposes the taxpayer to massive long term debts. There are approximately 10,000 bank loans to be processed through NAMA, much of it on property outside the state. As the courts heard during Liam Carroll’s application for protection against liquidation of his company Zoe Holdings, the company could pay back just one-quarter of the money it owes to the Irish banks. The state, through NAMA, is proposing to buy toxic loans at a 25 per cent discount; meaning the taxpayer will be paying three times the amount the property could be currently sold at.

RespondHousing associations such as Respond have reported that banks are refusing to issue mortgages on houses below a certain value: a clear example of banks attempting to artificially inflate house prices and expand profits for their shareholders. The current system of private banking has demonstrated that private shareholders and financiers can determine the future of millions of people. Banks must be nationalised in order that the economy be organised in the interests of the people.

Rather than bailing out developers, the state should seize the assets of those developers who have defaulted on their loans. The latest Department of Environment and Local Government housing needs assessment estimates that 56,249 households across the Twenty-Six Counties are on housing waiting lists; yet thousands of housing units bought or built by speculators and developers lie empty. These should be secured by local authorities and allocated to those currently on the housing waiting lists.

Foreign property belonging to defaulting developers should be sold and the money invested in socially useful programmes in working class communities.

The debate on NAMA commences in Leinster House on September 16 and will be vigorously opposed by éirígí, along with other left-wing groups, community organisations and trade unions. On Saturday, September 19, a rally against NAMA will assemble at 1pm at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square. This will form part of a wider campaign to defeat the programme of cuts proposed in the McCarty report.

Urging maximum turn out on September 19, éirígí chairperson Brian Lesson said: “NAMA represents a monster bailout of the most powerful and wealthy sections of Irish society. It offers nothing to ordinary workers facing unemployment and mounting debts.

“The Dublin government must be forced to rescind this legislation. This can be done by maximising the pressure on the streets. A massive turnout on September 19 will send a powerful message that working class communities are not willing to accept bank and developer bailouts while workers are being thrown on the dole and an axe is taken to public services.

“It is well past time that the failed policies of neo-liberalism were consigned to the dustbin of history and an economy and society based upon the needs of the people who create the wealth in this country was created.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

McDaid slammed for attack on low paid workers & welfare recipients

The recent comments by Donegal North-East TD Jim McDaid, in which he called for cuts in social welfare rates and the scrapping of the minimum wage, are indicative of the mentality of Fianna Fáil and the political establishment at large. There has been a concerted effort by them, cheered on by big business interests and right wing elements within the media, to make low paid workers and welfare recipients scapegoats for the economic crisis. If they get their way and social welfare cuts are imposed and the minimum wage is abolished, the end result will be a major increase in the levels of poverty and hardship suffered by families throughout this state.

The severity of these measures on families struggling to survive the savage cutbacks that have already been imposed on them should not be underestimated. The fact that McDaid is willing to inflict such hardship on some of the most vulnerable sections of our society, while he continues to live his lavish lifestyle drawing a massive salary and over generous expenses, just shows how completely out of touch he is with the reality of life for ordinary workers and social welfare recipients.

Many, many families will now be forced to look elsewhere elsewhere to make ends meet. The only people that will benefit from the cuts that McDaid is insisting on will be the greedy and unscrupulous moneylenders whom desperate families will be forced to turn to as a last resort in order to provide for the needs of their children.

McDaid is trying to make these families, to make workers and the less well off, scapegoats for the incompetence and greed of the wealthy business class and their political representatives who created the economic crisis. Workers and the less well off did not create the crisis. They must not be made pay for it in order to bail out the banks and the developer friends of Fianna Fáil. We must resist all attempts to further target the living standards of workers and their families

Monday, August 24, 2009

éirígí Launches First Wave of No to Lisbon 2

éirígí launched the first wave of the party’s No to Lisbon 2 campaign yesterday (Monday) outside the gates of Leinster House and the EU offices in Dublin city centre.

To remind the Twenty-Six County establishment that they cannot spin their way to a referendum victory and encourage a second defeat of the Lisbon Treaty, éirígí has produced a poster entitled Never Mind the B****cks – It is the Same Treaty.

The poster campaign is themed on the famous Sex Pistols album cover, and hundreds of the posters will be distributed across the Twenty-Six Counties in the lead up to the re-run of the Lisbon Treaty on October 2.

The campaign was launched using a colourful piece of street theatre by two éirígí ‘punks’, while other éirígí activists distributed leaflets to passing members of the public.

éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac an Mhaistír, who was at the launch, said: “Earlier this year, the Twenty-Six County government issued a series of so-called guarantees drafted by EU hacks, in an attempt to provide some political cover for their desire to re-run the Treaty referendum. These ‘guarantees’ amounted to nothing more than political propaganda on a variety of bogus issues unconnected to the Lisbon Treaty itself. With this fig-leaf of a cover, Brian Cowen announced his decision to reject the democratic verdict of the electorate in the Twenty-Six Counties.

“éirígí has produced this poster to remind people that, despite all the hype and spin surrounding the so-called Lisbon Treaty guarantees, what we are actually being asked to vote on in October is exactly the same treaty as the one that was rejected in June 2008.

“Not a single word, comma or full stop has been changed in the text of the Lisbon Treaty. The Twenty-Six County establishment is blatantly and arrogantly ignoring the democratic wishes of the people by re-running the Lisbon referendum.

“éirígí is confident that, despite all of the scare-mongering by the Pro-Lisbon camp, the electorate will deliver a resounding No once again on October 2.”

Following the poster launch Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey said that the Treaty was a very bad deal for workers within the European Union and needed to be rejected once again.

Casey said: "The Lisbon Treaty is a charter for big business and the multi-national corporations. It is an extremely bad deal for the millions of workers who live within the European Union (EU)."

"Big business is interested in one thing and one only. Maximising it's profits regardless of how that effects their workers or wider society. Workers are viewed as commodities to be used and discarded at the whim of these large companies. What is in their interest, as Lisbon so obviously is, is not in the interests of workers and their families and wider society in general."

He concluded: "A vote for Lisbon will see the continuation of the neo-liberal and privatisation policies that created the economic recession which has resulted in mass unemployment and widespread cutbacks in pay and essential public services . Contrary to what IBEC and Intel are suggesting, the way out of this crisis and the cure for it is not an even stronger dose of the greed before need policies that got us into this mess in the first place. The only thing that Lisbon will provide for workers is more pain and misery and further attacks on their living standards and working conditions."

Friday, August 21, 2009

NO to Lisbon 2 launched

No Means NoWith just six weeks to go to the second Lisbon Treaty referendum, there was a real sense of vigour, urgency and determination amongst activists and members of the public who packed into Liberty Hall for the launch of the No to Lisbon 2 campaign.

Organised by the Campaign Against the EU Constitution, Tuesday’s meeting heard calls for a united left-wing campaign that would put a halt to the grand plans of the European Union’s political elite. The meeting was addressed by trade union activists from both Ireland and Britain as well as Irish political representatives and attended by over 150 people.

Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of trade union Unite, denounced the European Court of Justice, which he said had savaged the principles of social justice and solidarity and eroded workers’ rights, subordinating them to the interests of business. Linking the erosion of workers’ rights with the Lisbon Treaty, Kelly contrasted the Twenty-Six County government’s refusal to legislate for free collective bargaining and statutory recognition of trade unions with the state’s swift response to end the occupation by workers at Thomas Cook and haul them before the courts. Pledging the full support of Unite, he called for a united left-wing campaign that would mobilise grassroots members of the trade union movement to take the message into workplaces and local communities.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, delivered an impassioned speech that denounced the principles upon which the Lisbon Treaty was constructed. Reminding the meeting that the Lisbon Treaty enshrines the principle of competition, the internal market and the policy of privatisation within the EU, he called for the unity of workers across Europe to defeat the neo-liberal agenda. The EU project as enunciated in Lisbon was about controlling labour and privatising public services; workers’ rights came second to the movement of free trade he said. Rejecting establishment attempts to label the No side as ‘anti-European isolationists’, Crow declared he was pro-European, pro-African, pro-American, pro-Asian but anti the European Union. Summing up, he argued that the Lisbon Treaty presented two options: a bosses’ Europe or a workers’ Europe and workers’ world. He pledged the support of his comrades in Britain and said the referendum in the Twenty-Six Counties offered an opportunity to re-ignite a European wide campaign.

The audienceThere followed a lively discussion from the floor, during which a range of issues were debated. Workers’ rights, specifically the ongoing lock-out of workers at Dublin docks and the employment of scab labour, were of particular concern. The meeting was also addressed by Ed Horgan of the Irish Anti-War movement, who pointed out that the Twenty-Six County government has allowed 1.5 million US troops to pass through Shannon airport over the last eight years and is complicit in the killing of a million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 250,000 children.

éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mháistír, who attended the launch of the No campaign on Tuesday morning, called for the maximum effort from all activists over the coming six weeks.

“éirígí intends playing a full and active part in the campaign to defeat the bosses’ charter that is the Lisbon Treaty,” Daithí said.

“Already, our activists have been busy getting the message out. This referendum represents a blatant attack on democratic principles; regardless of the spin, it is the same Treaty.

“The economic model proposed by Lisbon has completely failed working class people. The antidote to the current jobs catastrophe facing workers is not an even stronger dose of neo-liberalism.

“This treaty must be defeated because the fact of it being put to referendum in the Twenty-Six Counties on October 2 represents a negation of democracy. This is the third time that the provisions contained in Lisbon will have been voted upon. On both previous occasions, it was defeated: the peoples of France and the Netherlands rejected the identical EU Constitution in 2005, and the people of the Twenty-Six Counties did likewise when the Lisbon Treaty re-incarnation of the EU Constitution was defeated by the votes of almost a million people in June 2008.

“Once again, the right to vote on the provisions of Lisbon has been denied to over 350 million European citizens. Indeed, éirígí has activists across the Six Counties who will, once again, be denied their say on a treaty that, if ratified, will utterly transform the economic, political and social character of the EU in a direction that is damaging to their interests. It is therefore incumbent upon all those who profess to believe in democracy to campaign to ensure that Lisbon is defeated once again.”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

British Warship Challenged in Dublin

Just hours after a British warship docked in Dublin Port yesterday [Wednesday], éirígí activists gathered to give its crew a message – get out of Ireland.

The Mersey British navy ship was docked on the southside of Dublin Port on John Rogerson’s Quay for what was apparently an overnight visit.

The British ship Mersey

Despite receiving only a few hours’ notice of the ship’s presence, over a dozen éirígí activists and a number of supporters participated in the protest, bearing placards and banners reading Britain’s War Machine Out of Ireland, End the Occupation and Britain Out of Ireland.

In another example of the Twenty-Six County government’s slavish attitude towards British imperialism, over 20 Gardaí, including almost a dozen members of Special Branch, were deployed to guard the warship.

Britain Out of Ireland

After the protest, éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “Yesterday’s visit to Dublin by a British warship was the latest instalment in Britain’s attempts to pass off its relationship with Ireland as being ‘normalised’. However, there is nothing normal about the British occupation of the Six Counties or the presence of 5,000 British troops in the North of Ireland.

“Yesterday’s protest successfully made that point.

“Britain’s military presence in Ireland is completely unacceptable and will be opposed by Irish republicans for as long as it continues.”

End the Occupation

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fianna Fáil MEP accused of misleading the public over Lisbon guarantees

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has accused Fianna Fáil MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher of "misleading the public" over the Lisbon Treaty. He said that the "guarantees" that the Cope claims are legally binding are in fact "political promises from untrustworthy politicians" with no legal standing.

Casey said: "Pat the Cope Gallagher claims that people are being disingenuous by highlighting the fact that the second Lisbon Treaty referendum is exactly the same as the first referendum which was democratically rejected last year. However, it is Pat the Cope who is being disingenuous and misleading the public."

He added: "This is the exact same treaty we voted on and rejected last year. Every word, sentence and paragraph included in the Treaty is the very same as last time around. The guarantees which Pat is so intent to promote as being "legally binding" are nothing of the sort. They have no legal basis and do not override the content of the Treaty itself. They are simply political promises from politicians at both Irish and European level who, on the basis of their records, cannot be trusted to keep any promises they make."

"This Treaty, under its previous guise as the EU constitution, has already been rejected by the French and Dutch public. The EU ignored those democratic decisions. Following our rejection of that re-named constitution, now called the Lisbon Treaty, the EU and the Fianna Fáil led administration ignored that democratic vote also. This reveals the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the EU itself and how they will stop at nothing as they attempt to entrench their neo-liberalism and privatisation agenda, further deepen the democratic deficit of the union and move towards their desired EU super-state."

Also responding to the claims by the Fianna Fáil MEP, éirígí Tír Chonaill spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig said that "this is a deliberate tactic to deceive the public into thinking that they are voting on something different in this second referendum."

"It is an attempt by them to make people believe the treaty has somehow been altered, even though this is clearly untrue" he said.

éirígí challenge Pat the Cope over Lisbon scaremongering

Tír Chonaill éirígí spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has refuted claims by Pat the Cope Gallagher that the future of the Irish economy depended on a yes vote in the upcoming Lisbon Treaty referendum. He also called on him to stop engaging in such scaremongering tactics.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: “Pat the Cope's claims that a yes vote is essential for economic recovery is just the latest in a long line of attempts by him and his party colleagues to deceive the public and to frighten them into voting yes to a referendum that they have already democratically rejected.”

He added: “Despite Pat the Copes best efforts to pretend otherwise, a vote for Lisbon will not solve the economic crisis that he and his colleagues created. It will in fact make matters worse. It would give the green light to continue with the same economic madness, the neo-liberal, privatisation agenda responsible for the crisis, globally and here in Ireland. Pat the Cope is trying to deceive people by pretending that more of the disease that actually caused the recession – unbridled greed and neo-liberal capitalism – will cure the disease. Nothing could be further from the truth”

“We need to be very clear here. The Lisbon Treaty is about consolidating political power in a centralized, ‘free market’ based, neo-liberal Europe that the Eurocrat establishment has as its primary objective. A united states of Europe for the benefit of wealthy politicians and businessmen, maintained on the exploitation of the 500 million working citizens of this continent. While that vision of Europe may be acceptable to Pat and his cronies, such an undemocratic and unjust Europe is not acceptable to éirígí.”

MacGiolla Easbuig concluded: “The deception and scaremongering that Fianna Fáil and the political establishment are engaged in is despicable, but not surprising. The public expect and deserve a lot better from their elected representatives and I would urge Pat the Cope to stop trying to frighten people into voting for a Treaty on the basis of this type of misinformation. ”

Saturday, August 15, 2009

éirígí Activists Board British Warship in Belfast

Opposing the Militarisation of Tall ShipsAs part of an imaginative political protest two éirígí activists today boarded the British warship Mounts Bay, which was in Belfast as part of the festivities surrounding the arrival of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge. While temporarily posing as loyal supporters of the Royal Marines the pair proceeded to distribute éirígí DVDs to members of the crew and other British military personnel.

The DVDs, entitled ‘Britain’s Royal Marines Facing the Music’, consisted of two éirígí-produced videos containing images of some of the civilians who have been killed and maimed by the British military in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point the DVD was actually played on an audio-visual display on the ship by an unwitting member of the crew.

Copies of the two videos can be viewed below:

While on board the warship the two activists also photographed members of the British military encouraging children to handle automatic weapons. When challenged by a senior member of the ship’s crew the two protesters explained their objection to the presence of a British warship at the Tall Ships event, before being escorted off the Mounts Bay.

Children playing with weaponsAs the pair left the ship up to a dozen members of the paramilitary PSNI arrived, apparently intent on carrying out arrests. They quickly withdrew, however, as a number of journalists began to interview the éirígí activists.

Following the protest éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said:

“The presence of the British Military at the Tall Ships event is an absolute disgrace. What should have been a great day for Belfast and Ireland has been marred in a transparent attempt by the British military to normalise its occupation of the Six Counties.

“éirígí announced a couple of days ago that we intended to challenge the Royal Marine Band here today, but strangely enough they didn’t turn up – using the excuse of bad weather to cover their fear of éirígí upsetting their planned photo opportunity."

“When our activists boarded the Mounts Bay the last thing they expected to find were young children being encouraged to handle weapons by the British military. It is absolutely disgusting that the Tall Ships event was used to familiarise children with the weapons of war. It seems that the British Navy is now happy to encourage child soldiers in Ireland."

“It is a sad piece of irony that the DVDs we distributed today contain many images of similar children killed by similar weapons yielded by the British military.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Meeting in Belfast Recalls Internment Past and Present

Following two successful events in Enniskillen and Dublin marking the thirty-eighth anniversary of the introduction of internment, éirígí Bhéal Feirste held a public meeting to mark the 38th anniversary of internment in Conway Mill in Belfast.

Upwards of 150 people packed into the Conway Education Centre on Sunday [August 9] to hear speakers Ruhal Ahmed, Pádraigín Drinan, Caitríona Duffy and Gerry McDonnell. Chaired by éirígí national vice-chairperson Rab Jackson, the talk was both thought-provoking and emotional.

Gerry ‘Blute’ McDonnell, who gave his account of being interned in the Long Kesh Cages, is a republican activist, a former blanketman, 1983 H-Block escapee and spent a total of 23 years incarcerated. Gerry gave a personal account of the hardship endured by the internees and their families.


Belfast-based lawyer Pádraigín Drinan then spoke about cases of the Hooded Men, whom she represented during their long fight for justice. The Hooded Men were a group of men selected for torture at the time that internment was introduced in the Six Counties in August 1971. She told of this human rights abuse and gave a forthright and moving recollection of that time in Irish history.

Ruhal Ahmed, who travelled from Birmingham to speak at éirígí’s event, is a British resident who was abducted by the US army in Afghanistan and subsequently detained in Guantanamo Bay. Ahmed, who was released in March 2004, spoke passionately about his experiences in US custody and the abuses of civil liberties inherent in the so-called War on Terror. One of the ‘Tipton Three’, whose horrendous experience was documented in Channel 4’s ‘Road to Guantanamo’, Ahmed related to the experiences of Gerry Mc Donnell and the Long Kesh Cages internees.

Finally, Caitríona Duffy from Lurgan spoke about the case of her father, Colin, who was one of the first Irish citizens to be detained under the draconian 28-day detention legislation. Colin has already been the victim of two previous miscarriages of justice. The articulate 18-year-old spoke of the vendetta the RUC/PSNI held against her father since she was a child.

éirígí spokesperson Seán Mac Brádaigh said: “Internment without trial in 1971 left a mark on nationalist communities across the North that lingers to this day. But it is important to remember that internment is not merely an historical event. The British government is still denying people the right to a fair trial, in the Six Counties and elsewhere. 28-day detention is a de facto form of internment.

“On behalf of éirígí I would like to thank the speakers and audience for attending today, especially Ruhal Ahmed who travelled from England to speak at the meeting. éirígí will continue to actively oppose modern day internment without trial and urges others to do likewise.”

Click here for more on the Dublin and Enniskillen events.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

éirígí describe Devins and Scanlon resignations as "hollow gesture" as cancer care transfer proceeds

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has described the decision by Deputies Jimmy Devins and Eamonn Scanlon to resign the Fianna Fáil party whip as breast cancer services were transferred from Sligo General Hospital as a "hollow gesture". He said it was designed to deceive people throughout the north-west in an attempt to salvage their political careers.

Both deputies resigned from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party on the eve of the transfer of these services from Sligo General Hospital to University Hospital Galway. Despite repeated calls from cancer campaigners in the region to resign from the Fianna Fáil party itself and to commit themselves to voting against the Fianna Fáil led administration, Devins and Scanlon have refused to do so.

Casey said: "Their decision to no longer abide by the party whip has nothing to do with concern for the retention of cancer services in Sligo. It is a cynical move by two politicians who are more concerned with the backlash they have endured from an extremely angry electorate over the removal of this essential service and who fear the loss of their seats in the next election."

He added: "Devins and Scanlon have been steadfast supporters of this administration. They have supported it as it set about dismantling our health service, downgrading hospitals, removing much needed services, closing wards and imposing job cuts on essential front-line staff, including nurses."

"They have supported it as it bailed out the bankers. They have supported it as it set about attacking the living standards of workers and the less well off in our society to pay for the ecomonic recession caused by the greed and failed policies of this administration and their big business cronies. They have supported it as it oversaw the give-away of billions of euro's worth of our natural resources that could have provided much needed funding for our essential public services."

"This is an attempt to hoodwink people into thinking that they no longer support the Fianna Fáil led administration. The opposite is the case. They have not resigned from Fianna Fáil. They remain members of that party. They have given no indication whatsoever that they will oppose this administration and their right-wing, anti-worker policies."

He concluded: "Their last minute decision to resign the whip as the cancer services are removed from Sligo is nothing more than a charade. Devins and Scanlon have repeatedly shown their contempt for the health and well being of people in the north-west and have consistently refused to take any action to prevent the removal of these services. They have betrayed the very people they claim to represent. They should hang their heads in shame."

Internment Anniversary Marked in Dublin and Enniskillen

The thirty-eighth anniversary of the introduction of internment was marked yesterday (Saturday) with éirígí protests in Dublin and Enniskillen. At both locations the theme of protest was the same – demanding an end to 28-day detention and the use of plastic bullets by the occupation forces.

Dublin Embassy protest

Over 60 éirígí activists and supporters attended the protest outside the British Embassy in Dublin, while 25 people joined the protest at the PSNI barracks in Enniskillen.

Enniskillen PSNI barracks protest

Banners and placards bearing the slogans ‘End 28-day detention’, ‘Plastic bullets kill’, ‘Britain out of Ireland’ and ‘PSNI - RUC No Change’ were well received in both locations with many motorists beeping their car horns in support.

Opposing the British occupation and plastic bullets in DublinOpposing 28-day detention in Dublin

At the Dublin protest éirígí’s Ursula Ní Shionnain read the names of all seventeen people killed by plastic bullets, before a minute’s silence was observed in their memory.

End the Occupation

Speaking outside of the British Embassy, éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said: “It is encouraging to see so many people here today. 28-day detention is simply internment by a different name. Its introduction marks a significant roll-back of basic civil liberties that were hard fought for over many years. The fact that a 17 year old was detained under this legislation earlier this year is a particularly worrying development.”

End the Occupation

Brian continued, “It is no coincidence that in the last six months we have seen the introduction of 28 detentions, the re-deployment of British Army Special Forces and plastic bullets being used again. All of these measures are part of the wider British counter-insurgency strategy in Ireland. Protests like today’s are important in highlighting the fact that the nature of the occupation remains fundamentally unchanged, despite the veneer of normalisation that Britain is so keen to promote.”

Enniskillen PSNI barracks protest

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey, who attended the Enniskillen demonstration, said that "those politicians and political parties that support the Good Friday Agreement and who have now given their full support to the PSNI claimed an era of supposedly “accountable” policing was at hand."

He added: "The repressive tactics of the PSNI in recent months however have left those claims lying in tatters. While they may have changed their name and uniform, the PSNI remain the same discredited, human rights abusing, British paramilitary police force, intent on stifling all political opposition to the British occupation."

He concluded: "Sinn Fein and the SDLP must now admit that they have failed to reform the PSNI as they claimed they would do. They must now withdraw their support for British policing in Ireland."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Support for Thomas Cook Workers

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson has called for the dropping of all charges against the Thomas Cook workers arrested in Dublin this morning [Tuesday].

The workers, who had been occupying their Grafton Street store since last Friday when they were told they were to lose their jobs with immediate effect, are due to appear at Dublin High Court at 2pm today.

Leeson said: "These workers have been treated abominably by Thomas Cook. This is a company that recorded profits of €400 million last year and paid its CEO, Manny Fontenla Novoa, a £5 million bonus on top of an £850,000 basic salary. The closure of its Dublin operation and the axing of 77 jobs is an astonishingly immoral attempt to increase already massive profits."

"By taking the action they did last night, the Gardaí and their political puppet masters are yet again placing themselves on the side of people who are treating working class Irish citizens like dirt."

Leeson continued: "The workers at Thomas Cook are simply requesting adequate redundancy packages for their many years of service in the company. This is not too much to ask, especially when there was no pressing financial reason to axe their livelihoods in the first place."

"éirígí is calling for all charges against these workers to be dropped immediately and for their right to legitimate industrial action to be respected by the state. They deserve no less."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

British Army Active in Fermanagh

éirígí general secretary Breandán MacCionnaith has expressed deep concern at the activities of the British army in Fermanagh after it emerged they had been involved in the recent harassment of people in the county.

On the night of June 24, two local men were stopped, held and assaulted at a checkpoint manned by the PSNI and other, unidentified, armed men. Those unidentified armed men were traveling in unmarked civilian vehicles. The next day, the men were arrested under so-called anti-terrorism legislation, while much of the rural area of Boho was locked down as houses were raided and farm land sealed off. The men were later release without charge.

Now, independent republican councilor in Fermanagh Bernice Swift has revealed that she has been directed to go through the British army in her attempts to get compensation for Boho residents whose property was damaged during the Crown Forces' operation.

MacCionnaith said: "There was a lot of hype surrounding the ending of the British army's Operation Banner in the Six Counties in 2007. At the time, it was proclaimed by many people that this was effectively the end of the British army's involvement in Ireland."

"Yet, two years later, the British army is in County Fermanagh setting up road blocks, assaulting people, raiding homes and denying people access to their places of work. The British army's involvement in Ireland is obviously not at an end. This is why Operation Banner was replaced by Operation Helvetic."

"A number of months ago, Hugh Orde announced that the British army's Special Reconnaissance Regiment was again, if it had ever gone away, operating in the Six Counties. The incident in Fermanagh provides ample evidence that the PSNI are working hand in glove with these regiments."

MacCionnaith continued: "The nationalist representatives on the Six County Policing Board who found themselves impotent in the face of Hugh Orde's SRR announcement need to face up to the facts. The PSNI is not a civic police service and never will be - in areas like Fermanagh, it is actively colluding with the British army in operations against nationalist communities."

He concluded: "On August 8, éirígí will be making it clear that the British army and their colleagues in the PSNI are not welcome in County Fermanagh or any other part of Ireland."

éirígí will be holding a demonstration at Enniskillen PSNI Barracks on Saturday, August 8 to mark the 38th anniversary of internment and to protest against the use of plastic bullets and 28-day detention legislation by the PSNI. A demonstration will also be held at the British Embassy in Dublin on the same day.