Dé Domhnaigh, Feabhra 19, 2012

Save Our DEIS Schools
The recent decision by the Fine Gael and Labour government to implement cuts to the DEIS school initiative, while continuing to fund the elitist private school system, can only be seen as a direct attack on working class people in the Twenty-Six County state and proves that these government parties, despite how they might try to convince us otherwise, are in fact no better than the band of crooks that they replaced.
The DEIS initiative is designed to ensure that the most disadvantaged schools benefit from a comprehensive package of support, while also ensuring that other schools continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage experienced by their pupils. Not only will these cuts lead to more job losses – teachers, classroom assistants and special needs assistants – the loss of these much needed DEIS funded schemes are an indictment of the education system and will have a huge impact on our society as a whole.
Cork rally against DEIS cuts
In Cork alone there are thirty-seven schools under the DEIS scheme, and of these nineteen schools will see a combined loss of 88 teaching posts which will inevitably lead to higher class numbers. This is not acceptable. Pupils in smaller classes are proven to achieve better results and receive a better standard of education. Therefore there is no logical reason for cutting such vital services as this can only lead to negative social problems for future generations.
éirígí members were among a crowd of over 300 parents, teachers and pupils that braved the wet conditions recently to march through Cork city to voice opposition to these cuts. Parents and teachers took to the stage and made their feelings known about the seriously negative effect these cuts will have on our youth and to plead with Twenty-Six County education minister Ruairí Quinn to reverse the proposed cuts. Quinn has recently admitted he had not fully researched the DEIS initiative before deciding to make these cuts and has promised to review his decision.
Although this ‘review’ is welcomed, it must be noted that Ruairí Quinn has a history of breaking promises with regards to the education of our youth. Before the 2011 general election Quinn had promised not to reintroduce college fees if Labour were to get into government, but within 100 days he had reneged on this pre-election promise thereby ensuring that less students from working-class backgrounds will be able to benefit from the ‘privilege’ of a higher education.
Cork rally against DEIS cuts
Speaking at the march Labhrás Ó Tuama of éirígí Corcaigh said, “The 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic that James Connolly died for stated “The Republic guarantees… equal opportunities to all its citizens”. So for the Labour party, which claims to carry on the legacy of Connolly, to be the ones to cement further the huge class division within our education system proves conclusively that they have betrayed the working class and sold out all of the principles they claim to stand for and.
“éirígí is calling on all parents, teachers, students and anyone who wishes to see a publicly-funded, high quality and widely accessible education system to resist these cuts in any way they can. Contact your local TD to let your opinion be known, come out and march to show your opposition, but most importantly never be fooled by the lies and deceit of those in power.
“The Young Irelander Thomas Davis once wrote, “Educate that you might be free”. At a time when the Twenty-Six County state provides the private school system with annual funds of over €100 million we implore you; resist these attacks on our civil liberties, resist the education cuts! Beir bua!”

Dé Domhnaigh, Feabhra 12, 2012

 Vigils Held in Solidarity with Palestinian Hunger Strikers
éirígí held vigils in Belfast and Newry yesterday [February 11] in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan.
Adnan has been on hunger strike since his arrest by Irsaeli military forces on 17th December 2011. He is protesting against being held in administrative detention – internment without charge or trial for up to six months, which can be repeated indefinitely. He is shackled to a bed and is being tortured and interrogated, and is also not permitted to wash or shower. Khader Adnan has now been joined on hunger strike by his comrades.
Belfast picket
Palestinian prisoners have for years experienced degrading treatment and humiliating conditions at the hands of the Israeli Prison Administration. Their friends and families on the outside have to also endure shameful treatment just to get to visit their loved ones, and sometimes even this can’t happen as detainees are routinely moved from one prison to another with little notice.
Speaking at the Newry vigil, éirígí’s Stephen Murney said, “The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called upon all Palestinian and international organisations and activists to join in a campaign of solidarity with the hunger striking prisoner and to launch protests and solidarity actions in support of Khader Adnan.
Newry vigil
“So here we are here today to show solidarity with our comrades in Palestine who are currently on hunger strike. We have deliberately picked this location, Ray McCreesh Park, for obvious reasons. Over thirty years ago Raymond McCreesh and his comrades also embarked on hunger strike and paid the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.”
Murney continued, “Unsurprisingly the PSNI made a very deliberate and obvious decision that they would target today’s vigil and those taking part in it. This morning, several hours before the vigil, I was stopped and searched in the Derrybeg estate by the PSNI. I was searched for ammunition, wireless apparatus and transmitters, they then attempted, unsuccessfully, to question me about the vigil we would be having. The zionists would be proud of the actions of this militia today.
Belfast picket
“éirígí will continue with our local, national and international campaigns. Internationalism and internationalist solidarity have always been a central theme of Irish republicanism. éirígí understands that now, more than ever, the struggle for an Ireland free of the twin fetters of capitalism and imperialism is integrally linked to the wider international struggle of the poor and oppressed against the rich and powerful.
“For this reason éirígí is committed to building links with progressive organisations and individuals internationally as well as assisting various solidarity campaigns based in Ireland.”

Déardaoin, Feabhra 09, 2012

Cearta Gael á n-Éileamh i Rith an Ama
StormontBa bheag an t-iontas a bhí ar phobal Gaeilge na Sé Condae nuair a rinneadh tagairt d’Acht na Gaeilge i gcuimhní cinn Peter Hain a foilsíodh ar na mallaibh,Outside In. Maidir le cainteanna Chill Rímhinn in 2006, admhaíonn iar-státrúnaí na Breataine nach raibh aon rún ag rialtas na Breataine an tAcht a rith, ag rá gur ‘sheafóid’ a bhí ann ach gur chuir siad é i gComhaontú Chill Rímhinn ar scor ar bith.
Níl an chaimiléireacht neamhiontach seo ag cur aon bhac ar Ghaeilgeoirí a gcearta a éileamh áfach. I ndiaidh stocaireacht agus cruinnithe le habhcóidí Gaeilge, mhol Comhairle na hEorpa le déanaí go bhforbraíodh na húdaráis reachtaíocht chuimsitheach ar an Ghaeilge sna Sé Chondae agus go ndéanaidís beart le cearta teanga phobal na Gaeilge a chonsaint agus a chur i bhfeidhm níos éifeachtaí. Mhol siad chomh maith go ndéanadh na húdaráis tuilleadh le ceist chomharthaíocht phoiblí agus chraoltóireachta a réiteach.
Dúirt Janet Muller ón eagraíocht Pobal, “Tá sé an-suntasach, mar gheall ar an raon leathan de cheisteanna a dhéanann an Coiste Comhairleach trácht orthu a bhaineann le Sasana, le hAlbain, leis an Bhreatain Bheag agus leis an thuaisceart, gur dhírigh siad ar an Ghaeilge mar bhuncheist go réiteofaí láithreach bonn.”
Cé gur tábhachtach é reachtaíocht a bheith ann chun an pobal Gaeilge a chosaint, is léir nach sin tús deireadh an scéil. D’ainneoin go bhfuil sé leagtha amach i gComhaontú Aoine an Chéasta go ndéanfadh rialtas na Breataine “dualgas reachtúil a chur ar an Roinn Oideachais chun oideachas trí mheán na Gaeilge a spreagadh agus a éascú”, tá sé soiléir go bhfuil lucht leanúna na caipéise úd i Westminster agus i Stormont ag déanamh a bheag den Ghaeloideachas go fóill.
Nuair a thug an mheánscoil Ghaeilge Coláiste Feirste roinn oideachais na Sé Chondae os comhair na cúirte anuraidh as seirbhís bus a dhiúltú don scoil, rinne dlíodóirí na roinne iarracht cinneadh an aire a chosaint as rá nach raibh sa Chomhaontú ach ábhar ‘mianaidhme’.
Bhí sampla eile den drochiompar seo le feiceáil díreach seachtain ó shin nuair a dhiúltaigh aire oideachais Stormont John O’Dowd do mholadh naíscoile reachtúla in iarthar Bhéal Feirste. Rinneadh iarracht an cinneadh a chosaint trína rá nár chóir an naíscoil dheonach a chur in áit naíscoile reachtúla, ach tá foireann dheonach na naíscoile ag streachailt leis na deiche míle punt a thiomsú gach bliain i gceantar díothach Lóiste na Móna leis an scoil an chothú. Pé scéal é, tá an fhoireann tiomanta chun leanúint le deachaighdeán oideachais a chur a fáil trí mheán na Gaeilge sa naíscoil.
Ní thiocfaidh deireadh ariamh leis an streachailt chun cearta Gael a chosaint, ach ní féidir bheith ag brath ar fhreagraí reachtúla nuair is léir go ndéanann na húdaráis neamhaird orthu agus iad míchaoithiúil. Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann an pobal Gaeilge agus is é an pobal céanna sin a chosnóidh agus a chuirfidh an teanga chun cinn i ndeireadh an dála.
Ní neart go cur le chéile.

Irish Speakers Continue to Demand Rights
Peter HainThere was little surprise in the Irish language community of the Six Counties when the Irish Language Act was referenced in Peter Hain’s recently published memoirs, Outside In. In regards to the St Andrew’s talks in 2006, the former British secretary of state admits that the British government had no intention of passing the Act, saying that it as“nonsense” but they included it in the St Andrew’s Agreement at any rate.
However this unsurprising duplicity has not prevented Irish speakers from demanding their rights. Following lobbying and meetings with Irish language advocates, the Council of Europe recently recommended that authorities “develop comprehensive legislation on the Irish language in Northern Ireland and take resolute measures to protect and implement more effectively the language rights of persons belonging to the Irish-speaking community”. They also recommend that the authorities do more to resolve the issues of public signage and broadcasting.
Janet Muller of the organisation Pobal said, “It is highly significant, given the broad range of issues which the Advisory Committee have commented on throughout England, Scotland, Wales and the North, that they have focussed on the Irish language as a key matter for immediate resolution.”
Although it is important that there be legislation to protect the Irish language community, clearly this is not the beginning and end of the story. Despite it being laid out in the Good Friday Agreement that the British government would “place a statutory duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate Irish medium education”, it is clear that the supporters of that document in Westminster and Stormont are still making little of Irish-medium education.
When the Irish-medium second-level school Coláiste Feirste took the Six-County department of education before the courts last year for refusing the school a bus service, the department’s lawyers attempted to defend the minister’s decision by arguing that the Agreement was merely “aspirational”.
Another example of this negative attitude could be seen just last week when Stormont education minister John O’Dowd rejected a proposal for a statutory nursery in west Belfast. There was an attempt to defend this decision by saying that a voluntary nursery should not be replaced by a statutory nursery, but the voluntary staff at the nursery is struggling to raise tens of thousands of pound every year in the deprived Turf Lodge area to maintain the school. Nonetheless, the staff is committed to continue providing a good standard of education through the medium of Irish in the nursery.
The struggle to defend the rights of Irish speakers will never end, but legislative solutions cannot be depended on when it’s clear that the authorities ignore them when they are inconvenient. The Irish language community prospers by its own initiatives and achievements and ultimately it will be that same community that will defend and develop the language.
Ní neart go cur le chéile.

Dé Máirt, Feabhra 07, 2012

Vita Cortex Workers Keep Her Lit
Support the Vita Cortex WorkersSince December 16th last, the resilient workers of Vita Cortex have braved the undesirable conditions of having to squat in the cold, damp and poorly ventilated warehouse of their former employers in order to demand their just rights from millionaire boss Jack Ronan, and to expose his betrayal of the workers to the public.
As anyone that has visited the workers can assure you, this is not a decision they have taken lightly. Yet despite the inconvenience of their new residence, the agony of being apart from their families and the obvious stress and strain the situation has brought upon them, they remain determined with their spirits unbroken.
But these thirty-two workers, with a combined 847 years of service to the company are not making any unjustifiable demands from Mr. Ronan. All they are asking for is 0.9 weeks pay for every year worked, with the Twenty-Six County government having committed to paying the extra two weeks per years service as agreed to in the Labour Relations Court late last year.
In addition to Vita Cortex, which operates on eight sites in both the Twenty-Six and Six Counties, Ronan has a 300-acre stud farm, two crèches, various plots of development land, a piggery, an extensive residential property portfolio, a retail park, forestry, a couple of supermarkets, a furniture factory in England, and a boar station. He has 27 directorships listed with the Companies Registration Office and won the Irish Field “breeder of the year” award last August for a racehorse called Cape Blanco. With such a vast amount of wealth, the €1.2 million he agreed to pay the workers will undoubtedly not cause him too much hardship.
Over the past few weeks the Vita Cortex 32 have upped their campaign, and began to confront Ronan and fellow shareholder (and father-in-law) Seán McHenry by picketing their homes. Mr. McHenry was quoted as saying, “It’s not very pleasant for my wife and family… But we’ll see it through.”
Commenting on the workers’ situation, Labhras Ó Tuama of éirígí Corcaigh stated, “I’m sure the inconvenience of having the reality of the workers’ struggle brought to your doorstep pales in comparison to the hardship that the workers themselves, and their families, have to endure. Such shameful remarks prove that these men that have benefited from the labour of others are completely out of touch with reality, and are incapable of showing any empathy to the working classes.
“éirígí will continue to stand in solidarity with the Vita Cortex workers, and all other workers who seek to reap the fruit of their own labour, and we urge all working class people to support them in any way they can.
“100 years ago, William Martin Murphy and fellow Dublin capitalists crushed the workers’ struggle with the force of the state and law. Great men like James Connolly and James Larkin became icons of labour movements worldwide, and today it is the Vita Cortex 32 that are inspiring workers in similar situations to stand up for their rights and to rally the cry of Connolly and Larkin, ‘The great only appear great because we are on our knees. Let us arise’.”

Dé Luain, Eanáir 30, 2012

Protest Greets Colombian Vice-President Garzón
On Tuesday [January 24], trade unionists and members of the Irish Colombia Solidarity group Grupo Raíces/Grúpa Fréamhacha, including members of éirígí, held a protest outside Leinster House to coincide with the visit to Ireland of Colombian Vice-President Angelino Garzón.
As the protesters displayed a banner with the words ‘Gilmore: Don’t back human rights abuse in Colombia – Demand a ceasefire and talks’ on the street outside, inside Leinster House Garzón held talks with members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Protest against Colombian Vice-President Angelino Garzón
Apart from the obligatory ‘war on terror’... ‘evil FARC’... ‘give peace a chance’ etc. etc. etc. propaganda that the Colombian Government passes off for a considered update on the political situation in that country, the real motivation for this meeting is that Garzón is currently lobbying for the position as head of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Although there are no Irish votes in the election to determine who becomes director-general of the ILO, Garzón is keenly aware of the not inconsequential influence that Irish trade unions have at times been able to exercise with regard to Irish diplomacy vis-a-vis Colombia. Garzón’s real interest here is in trying to exert subtle influence on the perception of Colombia at an EU/European level.
The notion that a representative of the Colombian state might assume a position of such importance to debates on the condition of labour internationally would be laughable if the situation for trade unionists in Colombia wasn’t so critical. Humour however is not something that trade unionists in Colombia can afford – Colombia is the most dangerous country on the planet in which to be a trade unionist. Violence and death are an everyday reality for those who are involved in the struggle for workers’ rights in that country.
In the Colombia section of its 2009 ‘Freedom at Work’ global review the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) paints a grim picture of the conditions experienced by workers, trade unions and union activists in Colombia when it the states that“roughly 4,000 Colombian trade unionists have been murdered in the past 20 years, more than 2,000 of them since 1991.... 2008 saw a disturbing 25% rise in cases of anti-union violence due to increased paramilitary activity. A total of 49 trade unionists were assassinated in 2008 and 2009 has seen a similar labor homicide rate.”
With regard to the complicit role of big business, right-wing paramilitaries and the Colombian State and its legal system the ILRF report continues that “U.S. corporations such as Coca-Cola, Chiquita, Dole, Nestle and the Drummond mining company have been complicit in such egregious union rights violations. The International Rights Advocates (comprised of ILRF’s former lawyers now part of Conrad and Scherer law firm) have brought a number of lawsuits against these companies. The lawsuits charge that companies’ practices of hiring right-wing paramilitary groups to kill and intimidate union leaders is a violation of the Alien Torts Claims Act, a law meant to hold U.S. corporations accountable for human rights violations abroad...
“Workers are also intimidated through the use of death threats, attacks, disappearances, black lists, arrests, dismissals for organizing and widespread contract labor arrangements which limit collective bargaining rights. Only 1.2% of workers in Colombia are covered by a collective bargaining agreement and the rate has been declining over the years as workers see the danger in organizing. Paramilitary groups such as the AUC (United Self Defense Forces of Colombia), which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, are responsible for the majority of the violence targeting trade unions. There is also a pervasive culture of impunity for crimes targeting unions. The ITUC estimates that over 99 percent of the cases were unpunished and/or not investigated and not a single person/organization to order a labor homicide has ever been convicted”.
The words of Tarciscio Mora, director of Colombia’s Confederation of Workers, might help explain the reality that trade unionists experience in the Colombia of 2012 for those who might be tempted to suggest that times have changed and that the new Santos’ administration of which Garzón is a senior member is qualitatively different from the previous administration of ex-President and right-wing paramilitary associate Álvaro Uribe Vélez.
Protest against Colombian Vice-President Angelino GarzónMora is categorical in his assertion that today in Colombia “trade unionists are still being killed” and therefore the candidature of Garzón for ILO director-general is inappropriate. Indeed the latest trade unionist to be murdered in Colombia died on Thursday January 19th. Mauricio Arrendondo of the USO petroleum workers’ trade union and his wife, Janeth Ordoñez Carlosama, were murdered at home by two gunmen. Their murders followed on from deaths threats issued against USO activists in December by right-wing paramilitary death squads.
In a statement released by the USO in the aftermath of the murders the union stated: “We blame this on Colombian State and Ecopetrol for their negligence and slow action in preventing aggression and attempts against our union. We are asking human rights organizations and trade unions both national and international to reject these crimes, and we ask the national government and Ecopetrol to answer for the security of USO members.”
Speaking at the protest éirígí spokesperson Daithí Mac an Mháistir said, “The fact of the matter is that the Colombian economic and political system is anathema to the rights of the overwhelming majority of Colombians. The wholesale, relentless and unimpeded slaughter of those who would seek to organise in defence of the rights of the Colombian working class bears testament to the nature of the Colombian state.
“For Angelino Garzón to be elected head of the ILO would be to profane the memory of the thousands of dead trade unionists whose blood has flowed in the streets of Colombia for no reason other than that of securing the continued accumulation of profits and power for that country’s oligarchy, of which Garzón is a member. On behalf of éirígí I would like to take this opportunity to extend solidarity to the workers and trade unionists of Colombia, and in particular to the families of Mauricio Arrendondo and Janeth Ordoñez Carlosama at this time of great sorrow for them.”

Dé hAoine, Eanáir 27, 2012

Campaign Against the Austerity Treaty Launched in Dublin
A press conference to launch the Campaign for a Social Europe’s ‘Campaign against the Austerity Treaty’ was held in Dublin’s Mont Clare Hotel on Tuesday [January 24]. The Campaign for a Social Europe is the successor organisation to the Campaign against the European Union Constitution (CAEUC) group that campaigned for a No vote in both Lisbon Treaty referendums.
Campaign against the Austerity Treaty launchThe proposed Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union is the latest initiative of the European Union elite to the end of furthering their ultimate goal of economic, political and monetary union.
Speaking at the event éirígí Councillor Louise Minihan said:
“The proposed treaty on ‘Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union’ is in reality an Austerity Treaty. The goal of those who are pushing this treaty is to force the further erosion of our national and economic sovereignty. Their aim is to remove our hard fought for democratic rights. Ireland is now in a position of total colonial occupation. We are a colony. British Imperialism continues to illegally occupy the Six Counties. In the Twenty-Six Counties we are once again under the rule of European imperialism in the guise of the EU/ECB/ IMF troika. The terms of the proposed treaty would see the 26-County State become nothing more than an economic province of Europe, a far cry from the vision of sovereignty and independence as envisioned in the 1916 Proclamation.
“As a republican I believe in ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’. The terms of this austerity treaty are anathema to this notion; this treaty will see democratic decisions on Ireland’s future taken out of the hands of the Irish people and placed into the hands of faceless unaccountable bureaucrats who serve the agenda of the powerful and wealthy.
Louise Minihan addresses the launch
eirigi councillor Louise Minihan
“The terms of the treaty will see high levels of unemployment persist for decades to come as well as social welfare provision driven further down. Combined with ongoing cuts to health and education, acceptance of this treaty will drive many Irish families further into poverty. We all remember how we were promised the Lisbon Treaty would ensure jobs for our unemployed yet since that treaty was been signed the dole queues have continued to grow.
“In the interest of democracy, the Fine Gael/Labour Government must put the terms of this treaty to the people by way of referendum. Not to do so would be to grossly insult the people. The consequences for all of our futures arising out of the terms of the proposed treaty are too great to be made by political parties, particularly by parties who have shown they do not have the interests of the Irish people at heart.
“We are demanding a referendum on this issue and will not settle for anything less. We will campaign for a No vote in that referendum. A No vote is a vote against austerity. It is a vote against the cutbacks which have inflicted widespread hardship on families up and down the country; it is a vote against the anti-worker policies that have been pursued by successive governments for too long.”