Friday, November 27, 2009

British army & PSNI repression steps up several gears

In recent years the nationalist parties that sit in the Stormont administration repeatedly told us that we were witnessing a new beginning to policing, demilitarisation and the removal of British troops from the six counties. Such was the extent of that hype that, as the British army ended Operation Banner in the six counties back in 2007, many people proclaimed it as being the end of British armed forces involvement in our country. Events in the small border village of Garrison on the evening of Saturday Nov 21 and elsewhere throughout Fermanagh and the rest of the six-counties recently have shattered what remained of those myths.

The reality is that what we have seen in recent times has been, not the demilitarisation as promised, but the remilitarisation of the six-counties and a staggering increase in political policing and repression. Such militarisation and repression has been particularly intense just across the border in West and South Fermanagh. Just two years after we were supposed to have seen the last of the British army, British troops are mounting road-blocks, raiding homes and farms, intimidating and assaulting people and denying people access to their workplaces The skies above Fermanagh and Tyrone are also being used by Royal Air Force (RAF) and British army air corps pilots carrying out low-level night-time training as they prepare for postings in other war zones such as Afghanistan.

The revelation that the undercover Special Reconnaisance Regiment (SRR) were involved in a joint operation with the PSNI in Garrison last weekend shows once again that the British army are on a war footing and prepared to use whatever military force and terror they deem necessary to maintain its occupation of the six counties. Constitutional nationalist politicians have steadfastly refused to make any comment on the involvement of undercover British troops from the SRR, effectively a British army death squad, continuing to operate on Irish soil despite their claims of demilitarisation having occurred.

Fermanagh is not alone. Throughout the entire six-counties, the apparatus of state repression has stepped up several gears. Over the past twelve months, we have seen the introduction of 28-day detentions - effectively internment on remand, the firing of plastic bullets, the re-deployment of the undercover SRR (if indeed they had ever been removed in the first place) and a major increase in the use of repressive legislation to harass and intimidate nationalists and republicans. Under the 'Terrorism Act' and 'Justice & Security Act' between July and September this year alone there were more than 12,000 stop and search operations carried out by the PSNI, an average of 110 a day, three times the number for the previous quarter and more than the total number for all of 2008.

Amongst those suffering at their hands are political activists, including éirígí members engaged in peaceful protests and other legitimate political activity. A quick read through previous articles on this website will reveal a litany of such incidents, the latest being the stopping and searching of éirígí activists and supporters, on a sponsored walk and protest at a British army Intelligence and Communications post on Black Mountain on the outskirts of West Belfast. The PSNI operation against the 30 or so party supporters who took part in the walk and peaceful protest involved two helicopters, seven armoured jeeps, a number of unmarked cars and up to 30 PSNI riot personnel.

The bottom line is that the British military machine, in any guise, is not welcome in any part of our country. Their military activity and repression, and that of the PSNI, are unacceptable. The silence of politicians on both of sides of the border, especially those nationalist politicians who sit on the six-county policing board, in the face of this increased repression and human rights abuses, is deafening. Its long past time that they faced up to the reality of the PSNI and the continuing British occupation and withdrew their support for both.

éirígí Fear Manach chairperson, Kevin Martin has expressed his outrage at the increasing level of British military activity in the county.

He said: "In recent months, undercover British soldiers, who are most likely attached to the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, have also been active at PSNI checkpoints and in raids in the county. Yet again we are witnessing the consequence of Britain's continued involvement in Ireland. Despite the claims that the British army was going with the ending of Operation Banner in 2007, it is obvious that they are here to stay."

According to éirígí National Chairperson Brian Leeson, "British military operations in Fermanagh or anywhere else on this island are totally unacceptable".

He said: "The London and Dublin governments, as well as the Stormont administration, have all attempted in recent years to "normalise" the occupation. However, there is nothing normal about the British occupation of the Six Counties, the continuing presence of 5,000 British troops in the North of Ireland, a repressive paramilitary police force and the hundreds of MI5 personnel who now mount their operations from a British army base in Holywood in County Down."

He added: "For our part, éirígí will continue to expose the myth of 'normalisation' and to actively oppose the British military presence throughout the six counties. As republican socialists we will oppose the occupation at every opportunity and would urge all those who support the concepts of justice and freedom to do likewise."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tiscali closure brings Sligo job loss total to 450 in November alone

More than 450 jobs have now been lost in Sligo town during the month of November alone. The latest jobs blow came as management at the Tiscali contact call centre in Finisklin Business Park announced today (Nov 26) that they are to close in six months time with the loss of 160 jobs. Originally established in 2005 as Toucan, the company is currently owned by Talk Talk.

This latest news follows closely on the heels of a number of significant job losses in Sligo town in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Abbott Ireland, Sligo's largest employer, announced it was laying off 41 workers while pharmaceutical company Stiefel Laboratories, which was only bought by GlaxoSmithKline in July, announced it would be closed down completely by 2013 with the loss of 250 jobs.

Responding to the latest job losses, Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey said: "This is a devastating blow for the workers involved and for their families who now face into an anxious and uncertain future. This administration has displayed gross incompetence in dealing with the job crisis. They have overseen mass unemployment and job losses on a scale never seen before on this island."

He added: "Despite the extent of the jobs crisis and the need for determined action at this time, Fianna Fáil and the Greens have sat like rabbits caught in the glare of headlights, paralysed as the jobs continue to drain away and the dole queues get longer."

Casey also challenged the political and business establishment over their claims that voting for Lisbon would create new jobs and secure those jobs already here.

He said: "During the Lisbon debate these politicians told us all how voting for Lisbon would create jobs and secure those currently here. Here in Sligo, politicians such as Marian Harkin MEP and local Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour representatives repeatedly made such claims. "

"As éirígí pointed out at the time, those assertions were blatantly untrue. Now these claims have been exposed for the outright falsehoods that they were by the devastating loss of jobs earlier this month at Abbott and Stiefel, followed now by this latest closure at Tiscali. Those politicians and parties that engaged in such deceitful behaviour should hang their heads in shame."

Protest against Repression in the Basque Country

In the early hours of Tuesday morning [November 24], 34 young Basque pro-independence activists were arrested in a massive operation by Spanish state forces.

The Spanish government has intensified its efforts in recent years to smash the Basque left pro-independence movement and its legitimate demands for national self-determination. Political parties, youth movements, newspapers, cultural organisations and prisoners' support groups have all been banned and their members imprisoned. In Ireland, two well-respected Basque political activists have been fighting extradition proceedings by the Spanish government.

This is the reality of ‘democracy’ in an integral part of the European Union. This Saturday, November 28, protests will take place in Belfast and Dublin in solidarity with the Basque struggle and the latest victims of Spanish state repression. éirígí encourages all republicans and socialists to attend.

  • Dublin: GPO, O'Connell Street, 12pm
  • Belfast: An Chultúrlann, Falls Road, 2.30pm

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Public Servants take to the Picket Lines

Around a quarter of a million workers took to picket lines across the Twenty-Six Counties today [Tuesday] as public sector staff struggle to protect their pay and conditions.
Nurses, teachers, firefighters, civil servants and other workers all joined the stoppage in protest against plans to cut €1.3 billion from the public pay bill in the state.

A decision on a second stage of industrial action is expected to be announced by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions soon, which could involve a rolling series of regional stoppages or a further, state-wide 24-hour strike.

Firefighters were the first to go on strike at midnight, while hundreds of primary school teachers marched to the Twenty-Six County Department of Education headquarters at Marlborough Teachers in DublinStreet in Dublin later in the morning.

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson stated the party’s support for the massive strike.

“The public sector staff who are today on picket lines around the Twenty-Six Counties deserve the support of every other working person,” he said.

“Ordinary workers should not be expected to take pay cuts while bankers and business men and women are allowed to ring fence their extortionate profits.

“The inequalities in Irish society are growing not decreasing – the disparity in income between the rich and the rest of us has continued to rise over the last 20 years. Why is it then that those who benefited the least from the recent economic boom are those who are expected to pay for the bust?”

Hospital workers in CorkLeeson also hit out at the business organisations who have been attempting to sow discord between public and private sector workers in recent days.

Employers groups such as IBEC and the ISME have labeled today’s strike as “disgraceful”, “unacceptable” and “selfish”, while urging the Dublin government “not to concede an inch” to public sector workers.

Leeson said: “This strike is not only about protecting the pay and conditions of those who work in the public sector. It is about defending the public services that we all rely on. It is about getting those who are behind this economic crisis to shoulder their responsibility for it.

“It is only logical that the leaders of the business class will attempt to foster resentment among private sector workers against the public service staff taking strike action today. But, if the business class and the right-wing politicians get their way, it won’t be their families waiting in ever longer queues in public hospitals or their children getting taught in ever more dilapidated public schools – it will be the families and children of both public and private sector workers who will have to endure these conditions.

“Now is the time for solidarity among all working people – that is the only way that the attacks on our living standards can be thwarted.”

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey also expressed his support for the industrial action. He said that such resistance by workers was absolutely necessary.

Casey said: "The planned cutbacks in health and education, as well as in workers pay and social welfare rates, if implemented will have a disastrous effect on working class communities and the provision of essential public services for decades to come."

He added: "Poverty will increase significantly, as will poverty related illnesses and deaths. This is unacceptable. Today's 24-hour stoppage was absolutely necessary and further such resistance is essential in the coming days and weeks ahead."

Meanwhile, Tír Chonaill éirígí spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has called on the Trade Union leadership to intensify the campaign against the cuts in the weeks ahead. He said more determined actions would be needed if the planned cutbacks are to be defeated

He was speaking after visiting a number of picket lines throughout West Donegal to show solidarity with the striking workers.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: "The workers involved in today's industrial action are to be commended for their actions. Today's strike was necessary as part of the campaign to defeat government plans to impose further cutbacks in the upcoming budget."

He added: "However, this administration are intent on forcing low paid workers and welfare recipients to carry the burden in terms of cutbacks and today's action by itself will not be enough to prevent that. Over the coming weeks, the Trade Union leadership must stand firm against any attempt to force them to compromise. They must intensify the campaign, on the streets and in the workplace, with public demonstrations and national strikes."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Donegal Fianna Fáil TD's challenged over planned prescription charges

Tír Chonaill éirígí spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has described proposals by Health Minister Mary Harney to introduce prescription charges for medical card holders as another savage attack on low income workers, social welfare recipients and those most in need of medical care within our society. He has also challenged Donegal's fianna Fáil TD's to publicly declare whether or not they will support and vote for these charges.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: "These latest proposals by Minister Harney to introduce prescription charges for medical card holders are outrageous and must be resisted. If introduced, these charges will see increased hardship for the poorest and sickest in society as many people will end up not getting their necessary medication when required."

He added: "Once again this administration is targeting the less well off, social welfare recipients and low income workers, to bail out the banks and pay for the greed and incompetence of the political and business class that created the current economic recession. The focus of all their planned cuts is being directed at those who are already struggling to survive and can least afford to pay while the richest in our society escape with their vast wealth unscathed."

"Over a third of the wealth of this country lies in the hands of just 1% of the population. The wealth of these individuals is what needs to be targeted in the upcoming budget. These individuals who control that wealth can afford to pay, unlike the unemployed, the elderly, the sick and the low income workers, whom Fianna Fáil and the Green party are specifically targeting and imposing hardship after hardship upon."

He concluded: "I am now challenging Fianna Fáil's Donegal Deputies to publicly declare whether they intend to support and vote for these latest proposals. As these TD's continue to live their lavish and extravagant lifestyles, drawing enormous expenses and salaries, they need to explain to the people of Donegal how they can justify their party and government deliberately targeting once more the very weakest sections of our society, the less well off and the sick. These people did not create the economic crisis and must not be made pay for it."

Bolivians Demand Investigation into I-RMS

José Sagarnaga and Cristian DominguezOn Friday [November 20], Cristian Dominguez of the Bolivian Confederation of Peasant Workers (CSUTCB) handed a letter into the Twenty-Six County Department of Foreign Affairs demanding an investigation into the Integrated Risk Management Services (I-RMS).

I-RMS is an Irish-based private security firm that, among others, is operating on Shell’s pipeline project in Rossport, County Mayo. Dominguez and many others are requesting an investigation into the company’s alleged links with right-wing mercenaries in eastern Europe and anti-government paramilitary forces within Bolivia itself. Below is the letter handed in to the Department.

“Dear Mr Martin,

As members of Bolivian civil society in Europe we would like to respectfully bring to your attention matters relating to the Irish-based company Integrated Risk Management Services (I-RMS).

We have information that proves that this company employs or has employed well known mercenaries as Coronel Gyla Attila. It is through these mercenaries that Michael Dwyer, an employee of I-RMS made contact with international mercenaries.

The I-RMS company provides security to Fianna Fáil for its annual conferences as well as providing security for Shell in Rossport, I-RMS had an advert on its website offering armed and un-armed security services internationally. The advert was taken off the website after the death of Michael Dwyer in an armed clashed with the Bolivian police earlier this year.

We would like you to investigate the links between this company and right wing extremist terrorist groups in Europe and the connexions they have with our country Bolivia. Bolivia is a country undergoing a deep process of social, cultural and economic change, which has the support of rank and file social organisations. Our government is the representative of the people and was elected with 53% of the votes and ratified with 68% of the votes in a recall referendum. Its legitimacy cannot be questioned.

The presence of Irish citizen Michael Dwyer in Bolivia coincided with terrorist attacks perpetrated in 2008 and the first months of 2009, aimed at destabilising the process of change we describe above.

The actions which led to the death of Mr Dwyer started back in Ireland, when he worked for Irish company I-RMS. Your government, as well as the Irish media, have asked the Bolivian government to investigate these facts, and this is now being done. However, we would like to request from your government a full investigation into the obscure aims and methods of companies which employ mercenaries or terrorists, and which openly offer their services in Ireland.

Cristian Domínguez, secretary of defence of natural resources and the environment of the Bolivian Confederation of Peasant Workers (CSUTCB), is currently visiting Europe. He is a survivor of the massacre of Pando in 2008, which was organised and carried out by those who are experts in organisation wars of secession. Mr Dwyer and the machinery he was a part of should be investigated for their responsibility in these events which left men, women and children dead, and many survivors scarred for life.

The proof that exists against these mercenary groups is conclusive, but we are worried that they are still active in our country, Bolivia. For all these reasons, and knowing your democratic and peace-loving record, we would like to request from the office you represent:

  1. A full investigation into the legal status of I-RMS in Ireland and the services it offers, as well as an investigation into any other companies offering international armed security services from Ireland.
  2. An investigation into the links between security company I-RMS and extreme right wing elements from Eastern Europe. There are clear indications that Attila, an employee of I-RMS, was the contact who recruited Michael Dwyer for his activities in Bolivia.
  3. Taking into account the danger that these mercenaries pose to our democracy and to Bolivian society as a whole, we would like your government to investigate how many people employed by I-RMS have travelled to Bolivia and whether they are still in our territory.
  4. It is possible that other Irish organisations and/or companies are still offering security training to Irish citizens in Bolivia. If this is the case, the Bolivian government should be informed so it can take action to prevent terrorist activities against the Bolivian state.
  5. We would like to know what knowledge does your government have of these facts and what actions has it taken against these groups and their terrorist activities.
  6. Finally, we would like to respectfully ask that the result of these investigations be made public, so these terrorist cells can be disbanded and cease to be a threat to Bolivia and the world.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Plight of Palestine Raised at Dublin rally

Some of the crowd in DublinMore than 100 people, including a dozen éirígí activists, gathered in Dublin city centre last Saturday [November 14] to highlight the nightmare the Palestinian people are living through.

Called by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the demonstration was part of week of events that took place across the country to display solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mháistír said it was important that international opinion was brought to bear on the Israeli government and its backers.

“There are many small ways in which people across Ireland can practically support the people of Palestine in their struggle for self-determination and human rights. Firstly, attending demonstration like Saturday’s is an important public display of solidarity. Another, crucial step, is for all of us to boycott Israeli goods.

End the Occupation

“The boycott of South African goods played an important role in the defeat of apartheid. Equally, an effective boycott today could help to defeat zionist apartheid in Palestine.

“People should also write letters to newspapers pointing out the reality of life under Israeli occupation, challenge misinformation, organise public meetings and film showings in their communities and consider fundraising for aid to alleviate the siege of the Gaza Strip.”

Sameh Habeeb on the platform

Mac An Mháistír concluded: “The millions upon millions of people around the world who care about human rights can help the Palestinian people defeat the Israeli occupation – that is why Saturday’s demonstration was so important.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sligo civic reception for Paisley is shameful

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has described the decision of the Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Gerry Murray to hold a civic reception tomorrow for the former DUP leader Ian Paisley as "shameful and beyond belief". He has also called on local politicians to boycott the event.

The civic reception is to be held in the Teach Laighne offices in Tubbercurry in County Sligo tomorrow (Wednesday Nov 18).

Casey said: "The decision of the Cathaoirleach to honour Paisley is astounding. This is a man who has built his political career by encouraging and supporting sectarianism, bigotry and human rights abuses against the nationalist community in the six counties. That Cllr Murray believes that holding a civic reception for this man is acceptable is truly despicable and beyond belief."

He added: " Sectarianism and bigotry is never acceptable and those who espouse it must be challenged and opposed at all times. There would quite rightly be outrage if such a reception was held for a leader of the likes of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) or the British National Party (BNP) yet here we have a politician of a similar calibre being honoured. It is a disgraceful decision and I am calling on all public representatives in Sligo to boycott this event and to make clear publicly that they oppose the Cathaoirleach's decision."

PSNI Repression on the Rise

The PSNI’s increasing reliance on the tactics of repression was highlighted yesterday [Sunday] when the force put in place a massive operation to deal with a sponsored walk on Belfast’s Black Mountain.

The walk was organised by éirígí activists to raise funds for the party and included a short demonstration and speech at a British military communications post on the mountain, which is on the outskirts of west Belfast.

éirígí demonstration at the British military post

However, as the 30 or so éirígí members and supporters were finishing their hike they were met by no less than seven armoured PSNI jeeps, two helicopters, 30 PSNI riot personnel and a number of unmarked cars.

The thugs in uniform proceeded to search, question and film those who were on the walk, as well as many bystanders who were out enjoying the winter sunshine on what is National Trust land.

Along with the adults searched at the scene, the PSNI also felt the need to search a child’s pram. At no stage did the officers involved explain what exactly it was they were looking for.

The scale of the operation caused a stir at the near-by Lámh Dhearg GAA pitch, where spectators had gathered to watch a football game, and resulted in many residents phoning a local newsroom to report the PSNI activity.

PSNI waiting at the entrance to National trust land

Amazingly, when contacted by journalists, the PSNI denied they had stopped or searched anyone on the Black Mountain.

The PSNI’s over-kill came only days after it was revealed that there were more than 12,000 stop & search incidents in the Six Counties under the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’ and ‘Justice & Security Act’ between July and September this year.

éirígí general secretary Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “The most recent figures on PSNI stop & search operations reveal a dramatic rise. This will be very worrying for the nationalist communities who have traditionally borne the brunt of British state repression.

“The figures on stop & search between July and September are three times the number for the previous quarter – this works out at an average of 110 stop & search operations every day.

Dockets from stop & searches that the PSNI claim never happened

“This is the reality of policing in the Six Counties. It is one that is far removed from what was promised by the nationalist parties who took the decision to endorse the PSNI.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “These figures clearly show that the PSNI is not a civic police service – it is a politically-motivated paramilitary force, funded and armed by the British government for the purpose of protecting the occupation of the Six Counties.

“When it comes to policing nationalist communities, the PSNI’s idea of what is acceptable constitutes harassment on a massive scale, the firing of plastic bullets, raids and the use of CS gas and Tasers.

“However, it will soon become obvious to them that any amount of harassment will not deter éirígí activists from opposing the British occupation.”

Sunday, November 8, 2009

No compromise with cutbacks north and south

More than 5000 people marched through the streets of Sligo on Friday (Nov 6) as part of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Day of Action. Sligo's demonstration was one of a series of marches organised on both sides of the border by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) to campaign against cutbacks in pay and essential public services being imposed by both the Dublin and Stormont administrations.

The march commenced from the Blue Lagoon at the Riverside and made its way across the Garavogue river to meet up with a second group of marchers at the Mall. It then proceeded through Bridge Street and Castle Street, ending up in O'Connell Street where a series of speeches were delivered to the thousands of workers and unemployed people assembled. Amongst those who addressed the crowd were Richie Carruthers (IMPACT), Ciaran Campbell (MANDATE), John McCarrick (SIPTU) and Ann McGowan (INO). Sligo woman Denise Curran, a worker in the private retail sector and a member of Mandate addressed the demonstration also.

Speaking following the demonstration, Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey said that the Trade Union leadership must not compromise in any way with the Fianna Fáil led administration over planned cutbacks to essential health and education services as well as cuts in public sector pay and social welfare rates. He said the campaign needed to be intensified in the weeks ahead and that more public demonstrations and national strikes were needed in order to defeat the government and prevent further attacks on workers standards of living.

Casey said: "Fianna Fáil and the Green party claim that their planned cuts are necessary yet nothing could be further from the truth. They are shamefully bailing out with €54 Billion of tax-payers money through NAMA their cronies in the banking and development sector who, alongside the government, created this economic crisis. To pay for this they are planning public sector job losses as well as further cuts in public sector pay, social welfare rates and essential health and education services."

He added: "Just 1% of the population control over one third of the entire wealth in this state yet this administration is specifically targeting the less well off for their savage cutbacks. This is unacceptable. Workers and the unemployed must not be made pay for the greed and incompetence of the wealthy business and political elite. They should instead be taxing heavily the wealthy elite who can afford to pay as well as nationalising the Corrib gas in order to utilise for the benefit of the Irish people the hundreds of billions of euro worth of gas that can be generated from these finds."

He concluded: "It is essential that the Trade Union leadership now intensify this campaign with increased demonstrations and national strikes. There cannot be, and must not be, compromise with the government over cutting public services and the further slashing of the incomes of workers and welfare recipients. A united front between workers from all sectors, the unemployed and all those affected by the cutbacks can defeat this administration. Today's Day of Action needs to be just the beginning of the fight to build an alternative Ireland based on public ownership and a decent standard of living for all."

Tír Chonaill éirígí spokesperson Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig echoed those sentiments. Also speaking from the demonstration in Sligo, he said: "A clear message was sent today to to Brian Cowen, Mary Coughlan and the rest of the political class in Leinster House that enough is enough. They may have expected workers to roll over and meekly accept the cuts they have already introduced and the further savage cuts they have planned. They have miscalculated badly. Today's rallies shows the depth of anger among workers and the unemployed and their determination to face down this administration who expect us to tighten our belts as the wealthy and those who created this economic meltdown continue to live their lavish and exorbitant lifestyles."

He continued: "Now more than ever it is essential that workers and the unemployed remain united and focused on the struggle against these cuts that lies ahead. Pressure must be maintained on the leadership of ICTU, not just to maintain this campaign, but to intensify it with further demonstrations and national strikes. All measures must be taken to defeat this administrations plans to introduce further cuts in essential health and education services and to make workers and social welfare recipients pay to bail out the banks."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Setback for Shell in Mayo

End Mayo Gas RobberyShell Oil has been told to reroute part of the Corrib gas pipeline after planners ruled yesterday [Tuesday] that it posed a safety risk.

An Bord Pleanála found more than half of the 9km on-shore stretch, to carry unprocessed gas over bogland in north-west Mayo, must be altered because of the dangers to nearby homes.

The body ruled that information supplied by Shell was not a complete, transparent or adequate demonstration that the high-pressure pipeline did not pose an unacceptable risk to the public. The notorious multinational has been given three months to alter the route.

Homes near the 5.6 km stretch of pipeline near Rossport village are just 150 to 300 metres away. International best practice on the matter suggests that high-pressure pipes should be at least 300 metres away from homes.

Local campaigners welcomed the long overdue intervention of the Twenty-Six County state body on behalf of residents.

Shell to Sea activist Maura Harrington, who was recently released from Mountjoy jail, said: “What An Bord Pleanála have really shown is that the Corrib gas pipeline is not safe to be routed through our community or indeed any residential area.

Maura Harrington“Shell have consistently shown their inability and unwillingness to make this project safe.”

Pobail Cill Chomain spokesperson John Monaghan said planners had eventually stepped in after 10 years of fighting.

“It is clear that the project as proposed does not meet basic health and safety requirements as we have known all along,” he said.

“It’s long overdue recognition of the concerns but it’s worth noting that this is the first time the pipeline part of the project has been assessed by the planning process and it has failed that test.”

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson said the findings proved that Shell was unfit to carry out the project.

“Shell Oil has an atrocious international record, littered with human rights abuses and ecological vandalism. That it took An Bord Pleanala a decade to recognise the potential for this outcome in Ireland is an indictment on the body.

“The fact remains that, whatever route changes Shell make to the pipeline, the company has no right to extract the gas from the Corrib basin. The gas there belongs to the people of Ireland and should be exploited for their benefit, not by a multinational company that will sell back that gas to the population at full cost.

éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey also welcomed the decision but warned that the campaign was far from over.

"This is a vindication" he said "of those campaigners who have defied a concerted campaign of intimidation against them by the so-called forces of law and order in this state on behalf of Shell. Many of these campaigners have been jailed and have suffered assault as a result of their opposition to this pipeline. They are to be commended for remaining resolute in their opposition to Shell's plans."

"However, the campaign is far from over. Shell will be back and people will need to maintain and intensify their opposition to their plans for a pipeline in this area and the give-away of our natural resources to create profits for Shell at the expense of the Irish people."

Monday, November 2, 2009

NO to wage & welfare cuts - Support ICTU Day of Action on Friday

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has urged workers and working class communities to turn out in their thousands at the ICTU organised rally in Sligo this Friday (Nov 6). He said it is essential that people make a stand against government plans to impose wage cuts, reductions in social welfare rates and further cutbacks in essential health and education services.

Fridays rally commences from the Blue Lagoon at Riverside in Sligo at 2.30pm. It is part of a series of rallies organised around the country, north and south of the border, by ICTU protesting against planned cutbacks by both the Dublin and Stormont administrations.

Casey said: "Plans by the Dublin government to impose public sector pay cuts and job losses as well as reducing social welfare rates are despicable. Irish workers and social welfare recipients did not create the economic crisis this state is currently in. They must not be made pay for it and any attempt to do so must be vigorously resisted."

He added: "Despite Fianna Fáil and Green party claims that the finance is not there to properly fund our health and education services at current levels and to maintain present welfare and public sector pay rates, they did not hesitate to divert billions of taxpayers money to NAMA in order to bail out the banks."

"They refuse to nationalise the hundreds of billions of euros worth of oil and gas which lies off the Irish coast. The massive wealth which the Corrib gas field and other would generate could be used to ensure that those most in need receive adequate social welfare, wiping out poverty in the process. The wealth could also be used to deliver much needed funding for essential health and education services and to stop further job and pay cuts in the public sector as planned for the budget."

"That Fianna Fáil and the Greens refuse to even discuss utilising that wealth for the benefit of the Irish people, while at the same time targeting low income workers and social welfare recipients for cutbacks, shows the contempt that this administration has for the less well off in our society. If these cutbacks are introduced poverty levels will rise rapidly, as will poverty related illnesses and deaths, placing even more pressure on our already under resourced health service that is unable to cope with current demands."

He concluded: "These cuts must be resisted vigorously. Workers and trade unionists, the unemployed, political activists and working class communities in general need to take to the streets in their thousands on Friday to tell the government that they have had enough and will not be made to pay for the failures of capitalism and the greed and incompetence of the political and business classes. "

It’s Time To Act

Lenihan will announce the budget early next monthAs the Twenty-Six County budget looms ever nearer and Britain’s Stormont administration considers cut backs, there is much uncertainty and fear in working class communities throughout the Ireland.

Workers have already suffered severe cuts in their living standards in recent times and are justifiably concerned as to the increased hardship the upcoming budget and cuts will undoubtedly deliver for them.

While there is uncertainty as to the specific detail of the budget, one thing is guaranteed. It will once again target low income workers and social welfare recipients to carry the burden for the greed and incompetence of the business class and the Twenty-Six County administration who created the current economic crisis.

Over recent months there has been a concerted campaign through the media by the likes of IBEC and Fianna Fáil to demonise public sector workers, to pit private sector workers against public sector workers and to lay the groundwork for more public sector pay cuts and job losses. The Twenty-Six County administration has also flagged up its intention to cut social welfare rates and child benefit, claiming that the rates are too high and that the cost of living is reducing.

Contrary to the myth they portray that welfare recipients are somehow living in the lap of luxury, the reality is the complete opposite. Those living on social welfare were already struggling to survive before the most recent cutbacks imposed on them over the past 12 months.

Welfare recipients have already seen their Christmas bonus taken away and a decrease in rent supplement support, while 18-20 year olds have had their entitlements halved. Low paid workers and families on welfare have suffered disproportionately as a result of cutbacks in the early childcare supplement payment and the school book grant scheme, as well as by the enormous increase in school transport costs.

Workers have also suffered unjust pay cuts, tax increases and pension levies that have brought many families to the brink as they struggle to keep a roof over their head, to feed and clothe their families and to cope with the ever increasing costs of accessing essential health and education services.

Workers protesting the pension levyWhile these measures have already caused enormous hardship, any move to impose new cuts on the same people will be utterly disastrous for thousands upon thousands of families throughout the country. Poverty levels will escalate rapidly, along with the inevitable rise of poverty related illnesses and deaths. Every year, in the region of 3,000 people die in Ireland from cold related illnesses. That figure will significantly increase if the Dublin government proceeds with its planned cutbacks in the budget.

This will place yet further strain on an under-resourced health service, whose frontline staff are already over worked and unable to cope as a result of major cutbacks that have already been introduced, while further frontline cuts are planned.

The Twenty-Six County government claims the finance is not available to properly fund these essential services at current levels as well as maintaining present public sector pay and welfare rates. Yet, they had no hesitation in taking billions from the public purse to shamefully bail out the banks through NAMA.

Also unmentioned in all of this is the hundreds of billions of euros worth of oil and gas which lies off the Irish coast in the Corrib gas field and elsewhere. At the stroke of a pen, the Twenty-Six County administration could nationalise these valuable resources. The wealth generated from these fields could be utilised to provide welfare for those in need, wiping out poverty in the process, to deliver much needed funding for essential health and education services and to prevent further job losses and pay cuts as planned for the upcoming budget.

However, rather than discussing the nationalisation of these resources, they have shamefully focused on ways to target the most vulnerable in Irish society – low income workers and social welfare recipients – in order to maintain the lavish lifestyles of the business class and their political friends.

It is essential that workers, and all those who oppose the cuts, take to the streets on Friday [November 6] and participate in the ICTU-organised demonstrations. An unequivocal message must be sent to the Twenty-Six County administration and the one in occupied Ireland, that enough is enough, that we will resist by all means necessary the attempts to bleed workers and the poor in order to bail out the business class. Irish workers did not create the crisis and must not be made to pay for it.

Anti-NAMA rally in SeptemberThere is also another very important message to be issued that day. That is a message to the leadership of ICTU and those trade unions that have supported the so-called social partnership process in recent decades. The message is that their policies of collaboration with the political establishment in Leinster House and the employers’ organisations has failed workers miserably and must be consigned to the dustbin of history.

They must not be allowed to back down in the face of government hard-ball tactics or by being bought off with minor concessions. The determined actions of workers at Dublin Docks, Waterford Glass, Visteon and Thomas Cook, among many others, are shining examples of the way forward for Irish workers.

What is at stake here is of fundamental importance for workers. The only gains that workers will ever achieve will not be given freely to them, they will have to be taken by workers themselves.

When people take to the streets on Friday, we must ensure that we stay on the streets until we have defeated this administration’s efforts to make us pay for the failure of capitalism. The days of Irish trade union leaders playing the role of the Duke of York, leading workers up the hill only to lead them back down again, as happened when they cancelled the proposed state-wide strike earlier this year, must come to an end.

The only way to prevent the imminent cuts is for all of us, workers and trade unions, the unemployed, working class communities and political activists to mobilise on the streets in our thousands.

Irish society now has two clear options. It can proceed with the current failed capitalist system based on greed and the hoarding of wealth for the minority, with poverty and hardship for the majority, or it can build an alternative Ireland based on public ownership and a decent standard of living for all.

Now is the time to make a stand for, not just this generation, but for generations to come. Support the day of action on Friday. The time for radical change is at hand.