Thursday, 25 November 2010

éirígí Ard-Fheis 2010

Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith has announced the details of the socialist republican party’s Ard-Fheis 2010.

The annual national conference is, this year, taking place in Belfast for the first time and will be held in Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich cultural centre on the Falls Road on Saturday, December 4.

Mac Cionnaith said: “It is significant that éirígí is holding this year’s Ard-Fheis in Belfast. The birth of Irish republicanism was announced in June 1795 on Cave Hill above the city by Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken, Thomas Russell, Samuel Neilsen and a number of other United Irishmen.

“Today, the struggle against partition and for Irish independence and reunification continues to be a 32-county one. Equally, the struggle against economic injustice and for socialism in Ireland must also be a 32-county one.

“Our objective is a sovereign, democratic, socialist republic for all of Ireland. The current crisis within capitalism in the Twenty-Six Counties demonstrates yet again the inherently unjust and anti-working class nature of that failed system throughout Ireland and elsewhere. Equally, policies enacted by Westminster and implemented by Stormont demonstrate the colonial nature of that administration.

“At this year’s Ard-Fheis, éirígí will be putting forward our alternative vision for a new independent country with the formal launch of the party’s major policy paper on socialism in Ireland.

“When éirígí was established in 2006, it based its project on building a solid foundation for socialist republicanism in Ireland. The task ahead of us is to bring others to the view that cosmetic tinkering with the two partitionist, economic, social and political systems in this country cannot bring about meaningful change to the lives of working people.

“We firmly believe that that, by launching this document, many others will see that the basis for equality lies in the establishment of a completely new social, economic and political order throughout Ireland.”

Mac Cionnaith continued: “At this year’s Ard-Fheis, éirígí will be also laying out its plans for the time ahead and encouraging all republicans and socialists to get actively involved in a rejuvenated struggle for national independence and socialism.”

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Oppose Leinster House Consensus for Corporate Welfare

The establishment parties in Leinster House gathered yesterday [Tuesday] to debate a Fine Gael motion on corporation tax.

In the midst of the most severe assault on the living standards of the working class in the history of the Twenty-Six County state, a cosy consensus emerged in the corridors of power that business profits should be protected at all costs. Companies in the Twenty-Six Counties pay a scandalously low rate of corporation tax of just 12.5 per cent, with companies operating in the Irish Financial Services Centre charged a lower rate of just 10 per cent.

While the most vulnerable sections of Irish society, including the low paid and social welfare recipients; people with disabilities and the elderly face unprecedented savage cuts, the establishment parties were at one in supporting corporate welfare for private businesses.

In the same week that Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation [IBEC] publicly called for a cut in the minimum wage, which is currently just €8.65 [£7.30] per hour, their political representatives in Leinster House combined to protect the interests of the wealthiest and most cosseted sections of Irish society. The bosses are cynically using the current recession and the myth of competitiveness to drive down wages and working conditions, with workers being forced to bear the burden of the recession while bosses are permitted to maintain their profit margins.

Both multinational and native capitalists benefit from the low rate of corporation tax and, during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom, vast profits were made on the back of workers in Ireland; profits boosted by the low rate of corporation tax. IBEC spokesperson Danny McCoy has been a regular feature in the media, arguing that low paid workers should pay for the greed of his cohorts in the banks, while at the same time threatening a flight of capital if corporation tax is raised. There is no evidence to suggest that foreign companies will leave Ireland en masse if corporation tax is raised and the argument ignores the fact that native business also benefit from the 12.5 per cent rate. It is simple scaremongering in an attempt to keep workers cowed: threatening mass unemployment unless the insatiable demands of the corporate world are met.

While there has been much bleating and rhetoric from establishment parties in Leinster House about fighting the IMF, the same very same political parties shamefully bow down in the face of threats from native and multinational companies. The same parties failed to use the opportunity presented by the Fine Gael motion to, not only demand that corporations pay for a crisis of its own making, but also to demand an end to the numerous tax avoidance measures available to corporations.

These tax breaks include corporations being allowed tax write offs against losses; tax exemptions on dividends and distributions out of patent income and patent royalty income, the latter, according to a Twenty-Six County Department of Finance report in 2008, combined to cost the state €46 million [£39 million].

Corporations also benefit from the fact that there are no laws against transfer pricing [corporations operating in the Twenty Six Counties are allowed to declare profits at the low rate of 12.5 per cent through a transfer pricing mechanism] and can also avail of tax breaks on share dividends. Corporate welfare, it seems, knows no bounds.

During the debate on Fine Gael’s motion one political party representative chose to quote from Ireland’s greatest revolutionary leader James Connolly, yet, at the same time, he scandalously supported the continuation of the low rate of tax on corporate profits. As Connolly himself said: “A Socialist would have taught the workers to manfully take their destiny, politically and socially, into their own hands; [he would not have] taught them to whine for capitalists to come and exploit them.”

On the same day that establishment politicians in Ireland fought doggedly to protect corporate profits and promote the continuation of corporate welfare, the New York Times was reporting that US companies had just recorded record profits, at an annual rate of €1.659 trillion [£1.4 trillion], in the third quarter of this year. According to the report this is the highest figure recorded since the US government began keeping records over 60 years ago.

While the working class are being driven into penury and are carrying the burden of private banking losses, the business class is filing record profits. Yet the political establishment in the Twenty-Six Counties refuses to even countenance an increase in corporation tax! Where, oh where, is our James Connolly?

No doubt the corporate world is comforted by the fact that all of the political parties in Leinster House are dutifully defending the interests of capital. The lack of dissenting voices against corporate welfare demonstrates that opposition to the IMF/EU and Dublin government’s class war must come from the streets.

A fitting tribute to Ireland’s revolutionary leader James Connolly would be to follow his actions and not misappropriate his words in order to defend the capitalist system. Connolly was a revolutionary who believed in nothing less than the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist order. It is perhaps timely to recall his words and to take to streets in mass numbers this coming Saturday [November 27]:

“The capitalist, I say, is a parasite on industry; as useless in the present stage of our industrial development as any other parasite in the animal or vegetable world is to the life of the animal or vegetable upon which it feeds.

“The working class is the victim of this parasite – this human leech, and it is the duty and interest of the working class to use every means in its power to oust this parasite class from the position which enables it to thus prey upon the vitals of Labour.

“Therefore, I say, let us organise as a class to meet our masters and destroy their mastership; organise to drive them from their hold upon public life through their political power; organise to wrench from their robber clutch the land and workshops on and in which they enslave us; organise to cleanse our social life from the stain of social cannibalism, from the preying of man upon his fellow man.

“Organise for a full, free and happy life. For All Or For None. Speed The Day.”

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Belfast Honours Volunteers Black & Ryan

Around 150 people gathered in Belfast’s Milltown Cemetery on Saturday afternoon [November 20] to mark the 19th anniversary of the deaths of IRA volunteers Patricia Black and Frank Ryan on active service.

Patricia and Frank were killed in an accidental explosion in England on November 15 1991.

Lenadoon woman and former St Genevieve’s Secondary School student Patricia was just 18 at the time of her death. Frank Ryan, who was born in England of Irish parents but later moved to Belfast, lived in Poleglass. Both are buried in Milltown Cemetery.

Saturday’s commemoration, which was organised by the Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band from Glasgow in conjunction with the Black family, included a wreath laying ceremony at the graves of both Patricia and Frank. éirígí’s Rab Jackson gave the oration.

Peter Black, Patricia’s brother, said the family was glad to see his sister being remembered nearly 20 years after her death.

“We as a family are immensely proud of Patricia’s contribution to the freedom struggle and we are honoured that so many republicans came out to commemorate both my sister and her comrade Frank Ryan.”

Peter added: “Patricia was an uncompromising opponent of British rule in Ireland and it is important that the younger generation are informed of the reasons why she and many others like her chose to become involved in struggle.”

Below is the speech which Rab Jackson delivered at the commemoration.

“Nearly 20 years have passed since the deaths of volunteers Patricia Black and Frank Ryan on active service.

“In that time, republicans have experienced much disappointment and turbulence, but those here at this commemoration today and many more people around Ireland have emerged from this period as committed to the struggle for the Socialist Republic as they ever were.

“Indeed, a new generation of young people has become attracted to republicanism. There is little doubt that many more will join the struggle in the time ahead as the economic meltdown wrecks the lives of working class people across the country.

“And it isn’t simply the traditional avenues of republicanism that people are becoming involved in. Through the language revival, sporting and other cultural activities, trade unionism, projects like the Volunteer Patricia Black Memorial Flute Band, many different community initiatives and éirígí, people are again building community pride and cohesion in working class republican areas.

“Our aim at this time must be to build support for the republican struggle in Belfast and further afield, to encourage people, young and old, to get involved in socialist republican politics and, just as importantly, to educate people about the sacrifice that Patricia, Frank and many, many people like them made in pursuance of their beliefs.

“It takes a special type of courage, diligence and ingenuity to be able to take the fight against oppression right into the power base of the oppressor. These are qualities which Patricia and Frank obviously possessed in abundance.

“This is why people like Patricia and Frank are perfect role models for young people in working class communities today. When their community was under attack, their country occupied and their neighbours exploited, oppressed and imprisoned, they didn’t look the other way or keep their heads down. They decided to take risks, to become involved in struggle because they valued the place where they were from and the people who they loved more than anything else.

“This is why it has been such an honour for me to be asked to speak at this commemoration today. I know I am not alone in extending solidarity to the Black and Ryan families and in pledging that the names of Frank and Patricia and the courage they displayed will never be forgotten. But in remembering our fallen volunteers, we must always keep our eyes fixed on what they died for and what remains to be struggled for and achieved.

“People in our communities today, whether that be in Belfast, Dublin, Derry or Cork are still told they are worthless by the great and the good, they are still seen as, at best, expendable and, at worst, suspect, by the people in power. Exploitation and poverty are still the fate of far too many people in working class areas of Belfast and elsewhere.

“However, if we can instill the pride that Patricia and Frank showed in their community, their class and their country then the struggle for national independence and socialism will reach a successful conclusion. Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.”
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Monday, 22 November 2010

Protest Against the Blood Budget

In response to the escalating economic and social crisis in the Twenty Six Counties éirígí is calling for mass public protests, a general strike and a campaign of civil disobedience. The 2011 Blood Budget and the wider neo-liberal agenda of the Dublin government, the IMF and the EU must be fiercely resisted by workers and communities everywhere. Join with éirígí at the protests above and make a stand for yourself, your family, your community and your country

Sunday, 21 November 2010

IMF Will Entrench the Economics of the Madhouse

Introducing the catastrophic €400 billion [£340 billion] blanket bank guarantee scheme in September 2008, Twenty-Six County finance minister Brian Lenihan was keen to offer reassurance to those genuinely fearful of the consequences of such economic recklessness.
“There is,” he intoned, “understandable concern that the exchequer is potentially significantly exposed by this measure. I want to reassure the House and the Irish people that this is not the case.” The arrival this week of International Monetary Fund representatives’ in Dublin amply demonstrates the hollowness of Lenihan’s reassurance.

This was the same minister who, at various points throughout this crisis, suggested that the economy had “turned the corner” was “on the road to recovery” and who offered further reassurances that the bank bailout was “the cheapest bailout in the world”. Reckless incompetence coupled with a stout defence of the interests of Fianna Fáil’s financial backers, the bankers and developers, has been the hallmark of Brian Lenihan’s tenure as minister of finance. It is an office that, in recent times, has seated some notable proponents of crony capitalism: Brian Cowen, Bertie Ahern and Charlie McCreevy.

Well, it seems now that the cheapest bailout in the world has not only cost the Twenty-Six County state over €50 billion [£43 billion] and rising, but has driven tens of thousands of workers onto dole queues, exposed its citizens to the vagaries of international financial markets and has now resulted in the state surrendering its sovereignty to the IMF.

Having already imposed swingeing cuts to the public sector, the Dublin government confirmed last week that it intended cutting a further €15 billion [£13 billion] from the Twenty-Six County economy over the next four years, with €6 billion [£5.1 billion] of these cuts to be implemented in next month’s budget. It is this slavish adherence to free market ideology which has created a deflationary spiral in the economy, resulting in massive unemployment, currently at 13 per cent, and once again raising the spectre of emigration.

In order to save the failed banking system and bail out bankers and property developers, the Dublin government intends driving tens of thousands of households into penury. The McCarthy Report, published in July last year, has provided the template for the Dublin government’s programme of cuts. Right-wing economist Colm McCarthy presented Leinster House with a wrecker’s charter that proposed the effective dismantling of the public sector, the imposition of savage pay cuts on public sector workers, swingeing cuts in social welfare payments, increases in taxes on low paid workers and the privatisation of state assets such as the ESB and Bord Gáis. It is a charter that will be grist to the mill of the IMF, an organisation well versed in the economics of the madhouse.

Originally established following the ending of the Second World War, the International Monetary Fund came about as part of the Bretton Woods Agreement, its primary role at that time to provide short-term loans to states experiencing funding shortages and to manage the gold-standard currency valuation system. However, in recent decades the IMF’s role has been to provide long-term loans primarily to developing countries in return for the enforcement of ‘market discipline’ on vulnerable economies.

Its neo-liberal mania has forced governments across the developing world to prioritise debt servicing and the imposition of savage public spending cuts and widespread privatisation. Its legacy has been the impoverishment of millions and the prising open of economies to allow vulture capitalists to profiteer from the sell-off of state assets.

The neo-liberal doctrine promoted by the IMF played a notorious role in the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s. The IMF encouraged developing economies in Asia to remove capital controls in the early 1990s, a decision which resulted in billions of dollars of speculative investment flowing into the Asian economies. However, when panic hit in the summer of 1997, the absence of barriers to capital control witnessed the outflow of approximately $100 billion from the economies of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea in a matter of weeks. The subsequent imposition of so-called Structural Adjustment Programmes, which enforced public spending cuts, resulted in spiralling unemployment and drove millions deeper into poverty.

In more recent times, the IMF has imposed severe austerity programmes in Europe. The €7.5 billion [£6.4 billion] loan offered to Latvia in 2008 was conditional on the imposition of a significant programme of cuts that included: 20 per cent public sector pay cuts, staff cuts of between 10 and 15 per cent in government departments, the closure of schools and hospitals and an increase in fees for third level education.

Earlier this year, Greece was forced to accept an IMF/EU loan of €110 billion [£94 billion], which again came with austerity measures attached. These measures included an increase in the age of retirement from 63 to 67, swingeing cuts to public spending and public sector pay, alongside the privatisation of public services and state assets. However, the imposition of this austerity programme has driven the Greek economy into a deep recession; it is estimated that the economy will contract by 4.2 per cent this year and by 3.0 per cent in 2011, while unemployment has soared to over 12 per cent. It is increasingly clear that the austerity medicine is actually killing the patient.

This is the scenario facing the population in the Twenty-Six Counties. However, it should be emphasised that the Fianna Fáil/Green Party coalition and the so-called opposition parties in Leinster House are willing partners in the imposition of austerity measures; acquiescing in the EU demand for a reduction in the budget deficit to three per cent of GDP by 2014.

A consensus has been reached amongst the political establishment that the working class should shoulder the burden of a global capitalist crisis, one that has been exacerbated in Ireland by the decision to offer a blanket guarantee to the private banking sector. No amount of establishment hand wringing or wailing about the loss of sovereignty should diminish their culpability in the destruction of the economy and the impoverishment of the working class.

That said, the interference of the IMF into the affairs of the Twenty-Six County state is a serious development and should be resisted at all costs. It is an affront to democracy that this organisation, which has wrought misery and devastation upon nations across the globe, should be allowed dictate the affairs of a section of the Irish people. The IMF is an undemocratic and unaccountable enforcer of the neo-liberal doctrines of the small state, of deregulated markets and of privatisation. It has no constructive role to play in the affairs of the Irish people and will simply enhance the dictatorship of the markets.

While the IMF sets about driving the working class into penury, the rich in Ireland will be encouraged to invest their vast wealth into purchasing our public assets. The sell-off of state companies such as ESB will be encouraged by capitalist parasites such as Denis O’Brien, Michael Smurfit and Peter Sutherland, who will seek to make billions on the back of the privatisation of these state assets. There is no doubt but that the economic crisis and the IMF takeover will be used to create a further boon for the wealthy, an elite that continues to control wealth in excess of €120 billion [£103 billion].

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called a rally for Saturday, November 27. It is to be hoped that this is the beginning of a serious fight-back by the trade union movement in Ireland, whose leadership to date has failed utterly to respond to the establishment war being waged on the working class.

A sustained campaign of resistance is required to drive the IMF out of Ireland and Fianna Fáil out of office; to halt the planned savage programme of cuts and to appropriate the vast wealth currently in the hands of a tiny class of pilferers. The calling of a general strike by the trade union movement is a necessary step in commencing the fight back.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

éirígí & Sinn Féin to Debate Socialism

Daithí Mac An Mhaistír
Representatives from éirígí and Sinn Féin will debate the need for socialism in Ireland next week in an event hosted by a newly-formed student society in Queens University, Belfast.

Comhdháil Poblachtach [Republican Congress], which was formed in the university in September, has organised the debate, entitled Is the cure for Ireland’s ills a 32-county socialist republic?, in response to the economic crisis that is currently causing chaos in both the Six and Twenty-Six Counties.

Daithí Mac An Mhaistír from éirígí, who was prominently involved in the campaign against the Lisbon Treaty in the Twenty-Six Counties and international solidarity work, Sinn Féin’s Dublin chairperson Eoin Ó Broin, who is also the author of Sinn Féin and the Politics of Left Republicanism, and other invited speakers will debate the topic.

Previous public meetings held by Comhdháil Poblachtach have included one on the nature of the Orange Order that was addressed by Garvaghy Road resident Breandán Mac Cionnaith and Lower Ormeau resident Gerard Rice, and another on Palestine that was addressed by the head of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign Freda Hughes.

The meeting will place next Thursday [November 25] in the Holiday Inn, University Street, Belfast at 7pm.

Adhamh Ó hEarcáin, the chairperson Comhdháil Poblachtach encouraged as many people as possible to attend the debate.

“Since Comhdháil Poblachtach was established in September, we have attempted to stimulate popular debate on a range of issues that are important to working class people in Ireland and beyond. The attendance at our meetings so far has demonstrated that the demand is there for such debate,” O hEarcain said.

“At this time of economic crisis, we think it is important that people are exploring alternatives to a capitalist system that has failed so drastically. To this end, we have invited éirígí, Sinn Féin and others to address a public meeting on the possibility of a socialist republic in Ireland.”

Ó hEarcáin continued: “We are well aware that éirígí and Sinn Féin may share different opinions on how to respond to the economic crisis and, ultimately, on how to replace the system that created it and this should make for a lively and informative debate. Participation from the audience will be encouraged.

“Anyone who is free next Thursday night should get along to the Holiday Inn and debate the possibilities for the future in Ireland

Thursday, 4 November 2010

éirígí Slams Spin, Lies & Censorship

éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac An Mhaistír has slammed the misrepresentation of yesterday’s [Wednesday] student-led demonstration in Dublin.

Around 25,000 people took to the streets of the capital yesterday to protest against the possibility of the reintroduction of fees for third level education in December’s Twenty-Six County budget.

Mac An Mhaistír said: “The coverage of yesterday’s demonstration and the comments of many prominent individuals have completely ignored the violent actions of the Garda, of which there is plentiful evidence.

“Blood flowed on the streets of Dublin yesterday as a result of Garda baton charges, yet the corporate media and establishment politicians have chosen to focus solely on the actions and alleged actions of students.

“What we witnessed in Dublin was the complete inability of the Garda, particularly its Public Order Unit, to deal with any form of protest that is not completely submissive. This has been seen before, in Rossport and elsewhere, where acts of peaceful civil disobedience have been met with violence on the part of the Gardaí.”

Mac An Mhaistír also dismissed claims that éirígí was somehow involved in ‘hijacking’ yesterday’s demonstration.

“éirígí activists, among them students and people from the teaching profession, took part in yesterday’s demonstration as an act of solidarity and in support of the demands for a free and fair education system. To suggest otherwise is a ludicrous act of scaremongering and one that is completely without foundation.”

Mac An Mhaistír continued: “Education, including further and third level education, is a right that should be universally available to all citizens free of charge. The reintroduction of fees, even means tested ones, would be a regressive step towards an education system that, at its higher echelons, provides only for the wealthy in society. This cannot be allowed to happen.”

Don’t Be Intimidated by Garda Brutality

Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson has condemned this afternoon’s [Wednesday] Garda assault on a student-led protest in Dublin.

More than 25,000 people marched through Dublin city centre at lunchtime today in protest against the possibility of the reintroduction of fees for third level education in the upcoming Twenty-Six County budget.

In response to the peaceful demonstration, which was attended by a number of éirígí activists, Gardaí unleashed baton charges, injuring a number of people.

Leeson said: “Today's vicious assault on peaceful protestors exposes the reality of the Twenty-Six County state's attitude towards those who are suffering as a result of the economic crisis.

“When faced with legitimate, peaceful opposition to its right-wing policies, the Dublin government inevitably unleashes violence to protect its interests.”

Leeson continued: “Those who took to the streets today are to be commended for taking the initiative in opposing the anti-social program of the Twenty-Six County government.

“People should not allow themselves to be intimidated by this disgraceful use of brute force. In the run up to the Dublin government’s blood budget in December, it is imperative that tens of thousands of workers, students, unemployed people and every citizen who is being hit hard by the economic crisis takes to the streets.

“This Thatcherite government needs to be forced from power by the determined action of a united and angry populace.”

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