Dé Domhnaigh, Feabhra 27, 2011

Na billiúin á dtabhairt in aisce – éirígí

27/02/2011

(English version follows)

Lough Allen
Rinne urlabhraí Thír Chonaill don pháirtí poblachtach sóisialach éirígí cáineadh géar ar rialtas Fhianna Fáil atá ag dul as oifig, de bhrí gur bhronn a aire acmhainní nádúrtha Conor Lenihan ceadúnais pheitriliam intíre don cheantar a dtugtar Imchuach Loch Ailín air, ar 14ú Feabhra.

Scarann an ceantar ar chúpla condae san iarthuaisceart, Dún na nGall, Sligeach agus Liatroim ina measc, ag clúdú timpeall 1500 km cearnach agus meastar go bhfuil 9.4 trilliún troigh chiúbach de ghás ina luí thíos faoi. Bronnadh ceadúnas Loch Ailín ar an chomhlacht ola Astrálach Tamboran Resources agus ar Finavera Gas.

Ag caint faoi bhronnadh an cheadúnais, dúirt urlabhraí éirígí Thír Chonaill Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig go raibh an rialtas arís eile ag tabhairt uathu acmhainní nádúrtha na hÉireann do leas príobháideach. “Tá sé go hiomlán náireach go bhfuil na bronntaí seo á dtabhairt do chomhlachtaí príobháideacha agus muintir na hÉireann thíos leis,” arsa é. “Léiríonn sé an neamhshuim iomlán atá ag leithéidí Fhianna Fáil don ghnáthfhear agus bhean ar an tsráid.

“Tá páirtí againn anseo a scrios an geilleagar go córasach agus a mhill todhchaí ár bpáistí ach fós síleann siad go bhfuil sé iomlán inghlactha ceadúnas d’Imchuach Loch Ailín a thabhairt uathu, agus luach €100 billiún ag dul leis ag praghasanna reatha. Chuaigh siad i mbannaí ar a gcairde sna bainc, na daoine is cúis leis an ghéarchéim eacnamaíochta seo, leis na deiche billiún euro agus tá siad ag dréim go n-aisíocfaidh an gnáth-cháiníocóir fiacha lucht an airgid. Anois lig siad don Chiste Airgeadaíochta Idirnáisiúnta [IMF] a ladar a chur i gcúrsaí ár dtíre agus fiacha anois ar ghnáth-Éireannaigh acu dóibh agus don Bhanc Ceannais Eorpach [ECB].

“Ach feictear dóibh go fóill gur chóir rochtain ar acmhainní nádúrtha ár dtíre a thabhairt in aisce do chomhlachtaí príobháideacha chun go dtig leo agus lena scairshealbhóirí brabús a dhéanamh as, gan tairbhe ar bith do mhuintir na hÉireann,” lean an tUasal Mac Giolla Easbuig.

“Rinne siad mar an gcéanna leis na gáscheantair in Imchuach Coirib as cósta Mhaigh Eo, áit a dtug lucht Theach Laighean na billiúin euro d’acmhainní nádúrtha do leithéidí Shell Oil agus a lig do Shell pobal Mhaigh Eo a chur faoi chois. Níl amhras ann go gcaithfear le muintir Thír Chonaill, Shligigh agus Liatroma agus na gcondaetha eile i gceantar Imchuach Loch Ailín ar an bhealach chéanna faoi lámha na gcomhlachtaí a bhainfeas tairbhe as na hacmhainní nádúrtha seo ar le muintir na hEireann iad de cheart."

Ag rá gur féidir an ghéarchéim reatha atá os comhair muintir na hÉireann a aisthiontú, dúirt an tUasal Mac Giolla Easbuig, “Tá dífhostaíocht ollmhór anseo i dTír Chonaill agus ar fud na tíre. Tá daoine óga s’againn ag fágáil na tíre lá i ndiaidh lae ar lorg oibre agus leanfar ag scoradh ár sochair agus ár seirbhís poiblí chun an IMF agus ECB a shásamh. Tá méid ollmhór saibhris sa tír seo i bhfoirm ola agus gáis agus in áit iad a thabhairt in aisce do chomhlachtaí príobháideacha dá dtairbhe féin, bá chóir iad a náisiúnú anois chun go bhféidir na brabúis a thagann astu a infheistiú i bpostanna agus i seirbhísí poiblí, ar nós sláinte agus oideachas. Ní mór do na daoine éileamh nach mbeidh ár n-acmhainní nádúrtha do shaint phríobháideach amach anseo ach do riachtanas poiblí.”



Billions Being Given Away - éirígí

The Donegal spokesperson for the socialist republican political party éirígí has given scathing criticism of the outgoing Fianna Fáil government over the awarding of onshore petroleum licences by its minister for natural resources Connor Lenihan. One of the licences, which were awarded on February 14th, is for the area known as the Lough Allen Basin.

The area straddles several counties in the northwest including counties Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim covering approximately 1500 square kilometres and beneath which lies an estimated 9.4 trillion cubic feet of gas. The Lough Allen licence has been awarded to Australian oil company Tamboran Resources and Finavera Gas.

Speaking of the awarding of the licences, éirígí's Donegal spokeperson Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said the government were once again handing away Ireland's natural resources to private interests. “This is an absolute disgrace that such awards are being handed out to private companies at the expense of the Irish people” he said. “It only goes to show the complete disregard and contempt that the likes of Fianna Fáil have for the ordinary women and men in the street.

“Here we have a party who have systematically destroyed the economy and decimated our children's future and yet they see it perfectly acceptable to hand away a license for the Lough Allen Basin which, at current prices, is worth €100billion. They have bailed out their cronies in the banks who caused this economic crisis to the tune of tens of billions of euro and expect the ordinary tax payer to repay the debts of the wealthy. Now they have allowed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to meddle in our countries affairs and have the ordinary Irish women and men owing to them and the European Central Bank (ECB).

“But yet they see fit to give away access to our country's natural resources to private companies so they and their shareholders can profit from it, with little or no benefit to the Irish people” continued Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig.

“They did the same with the gas fields in the Corrib Basin off the coast of Mayo where those in Leinster House have handed away billions of euro worth of natural resources to the likes of Shell Oil and have allowed Shell to run roughshod over the people of Mayo. There is no question that the people of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and the other counties in the area of the Lough Allen Basin will also be treated in the same manner by the companies who will capitalise on these natural resources which rightly belong to the Irish people.”

Saying that the current crisis faced by the Irish people could be reversed Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig stated “We have massive unemployment here in Donegal and right across the country. Our young people are leaving the country daily in search of work and our benefits and public services will continue to be slashed to appease the IMF and ECB. We have massive amounts of wealth in this country in the form of oil and gas and instead of it being given away to private companies for their sole benefit, it must be nationalised now so the resulting profits can be invested in jobs and public services, such as health and education. The people must demand that our natural resources are no longer for private greed but public need.”

Dé hAoine, Feabhra 25, 2011

Protests Against Health Service Cuts Must Continue

éirígí's Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan
éirígí Tir Chonaill have called for people to build on the previous protests against health cuts that have taken place throughout the country in the last year. The comment comes as éirígí's Dublin City Councillor, Louise Minihan, is due to stand trial today in Dublin's Criminal Courts of Justice on charges relating to a high profile protest she made against the then Twenty-Six County Minister for Health, Mary Harney.

On November 1st 2010, Cllr Minihan splashed diluted red paint on the clothing of Harney as a protest against the cuts which Harney and her department had made on the health service. Speaking yesterday in the lead-up to her trial Cllr Minihan said “My protest against Mary Harney was both legitimate and proportionate when measured against the crimes which Harney has committed against the people of Ireland. The embarrassment suffered by Harney as a result of my protest pales in comparison to the humiliation that has been suffered by the tens of thousands of patients that have been forced to wait for hours in accident and emergency departments across the state. The inconvenience my protest caused to Harney stands as nothing when compared with the unnecessary suffering and deaths that she has been responsible for during her tenure as Minister for Death.

“In organising a photo-opportunity at Cherry Orchard Mary Harney sought to portray herself as the saviour of the hospital, whereas in fact she had been responsible for reductions in funding and the closure of wards at the same facility. This hypocrisy needed to be challenged in a manner which could not be ignored, which I believe I succeeded in doing.

“My protest was a legitimate political protest which should never have been brought before the courts. I have no intention of pleading guilty or of apologising for my actions. To do so would undermine the legitimacy of my protest and the wider political struggle against the neo-liberal agenda that Mary Harney has so proudly championed.”

The spokesperson for éirígí Tir Chonaill, Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, said today “This trial just goes to show the contempt the ruling political elite in this country have for the ordinary working people of Ireland. We fully support Councillor Minihan and the legitimate protest she carried out against Mary Harney and her department because of the swingeing cuts that she and her cohorts had made on the health service. These cuts would see the systematic privatisation of our health service and a strengthening of the two tier system which would only hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

“The outgoing government in Lenister House and the current political system would like to make an example of the likes of Louise Minihan in the interests of scaring people away from legitimate protest. If Fine Gael do get into power after today's general election they have already stated what they intend to do with our health system and that is to privatise it. The cuts implemented by the out going Fianna Fáil led government will only worsen. At a meeting in Dungloe on Wednesday night about the closure of 14 beds in the facility, Fine Gael's Dinny McGinley said he would fight to keep the beds open and available to all, but this was nothing more than sickening electioneering. Dinny McGinley supports the Fine Gael policies of privatising the health service and the cutbacks which they intend to implement which will see more beds close, staff laid off and facilities such as Dungloe Hospital close. This is a vital facility for the area and off shore islands such as Arranmore and it should be operating at full capacity, not being systematically dismantled.

“Every single individual in this country has the basic right to a avail of a free, world class health service and that is something that is totally achievable if the political will is there. But it does not appear to be. Until such times as we have such a health service, the people of this country must continue with their protests against cuts in our health service and the on-going plans to privatise it and the courts should not be used as a tool to make people afraid of carrying out those protests.”

Dé Luain, Feabhra 21, 2011

Remember the Hunger Strikers – March 1
21/02/2011
Remember the Hunger StrikersThe details of a vigil to mark the 30th anniversary of the commencement of the 1981 Hunger Strike have been announced.
On Tuesday, March 1, republicans will gather at the Andersonstown Barracks site in west Belfast, exactly 30 years to the day from republican Prisoner of War Bobby Sands beginning the second hunger strike for political status in the H Blocks of Long Kesh.
The candle-lit vigil to remember Sands and his comrades, Francis Hughes, Ray McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Mickey Devine, will begin at 7pm.
The graves of three of the hunger strikers – Bobby Sands, Joe McDonnell and Kieran Doherty – lie only yards from the Andersonstown Barracks site in Milltown Cemetery’s republican plot.
éirígí’s Pádraic Mac Coitir, who participated in the blanket and no wash protests during the struggle for political status, appealed for as many people as possible to attend the event.
“The fight for political status, which culminated in the 1981 Hunger Strike, was a defining moment in Irish history,” he said.
“It marked a serious setback for British strategy in Ireland, unfortunately at a great cost to the republican prisoners and the nationalist community outside the prisons.
“What 1981 taught republican Ireland and, indeed, the British establishment was that a united, determined people cannot be criminalised, ignored, repressed out of sight or shot off the streets.
“The sacrifice the hunger strikers made in defence of their fellow prisoners and in defence of the republican struggle should never be forgotten. It should serve as an inspiration to all those who continue the struggle against injustice, in Ireland and beyond.”
Mac Coitir added: “It is important to remember that it wasn’t just the men in the H Blocks who fought against Britain’s criminalisation strategy. The struggle of the female prisoners in Armagh was every bit as crucial and served as a siren call, if one were needed, that women were equal participants in the fight for national independence.
“Equally importantly, there are republicans in prison today who are denied the political status that was won at such a high cost three decades ago. While these prisoners are denied their human rights and, indeed, while even a single person remains imprisoned as a result of the British occupation, the goals of the hunger strikers will remain unfulfilled.
“éirígí is calling on republican ex-prisoners, those who were involved in the Relatives Action Committees and the Smash H-Block campaign, the relatives of those who played their part in the prison struggle and those who are too young too remember 1981 to gather at the Andersonstown Barracks site on March 1.
“While organised by éirígí, the vigil will not be a strictly party-political event. It will be, first and foremost, an opportunity for republicans and all those who hold the hunger strikers in high esteem to remember their sacrifice and to recommit themselves to the goals for which they died.
“Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.”


Déardaoin, Feabhra 17, 2011

Remembering “Going to the Lagan”

17/02/2011

On the evening of Sunday 20th February, West Donegal will remember the days of the hiring fairs and “going to the Lagan” when the now well renowned Jonathan Burgess play 'Far Off Fields' will be staged in Dore Community Centre. The event, which is being supported by the Peace III Project and Donegal County Council, is an evening which will stir the memories of many people in the county of the stories of poverty which forced parents to hire out their children in order to survive and make ends meet. These children had to leave home at a young age to work, not returning home for months at a time, some working in very harsh conditions.

The story of the Kieran Quinn directed play, which is being staged by the Balour Arts Theatre supported by the International Fund for Ireland, tells of two children Jack and Niamh who are hired out as farm workers. A love story with a serious element to it, it looks at the harsh reality that children often faced working away from home, the mistreatment they sometimes had to endure and the difficult choices they had to make to survive.

Speaking of the event, organiser Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said “It is great that the people in West Donegal will be able to experience this fantastic play and remember the stories of going to the Lagan. These are stories which almost every family in Donegal can relate to as so many people were hired out at these fairs as children due to the extreme poverty which people faced here in years gone by.”

“This is a very moving story but one which tells what was once unfortunately a familiar one. I think it is important for us to remember where we come from and what shaped us as a community and this play looks at one of the aspects of our history which saw many face hardship. It is an important piece of our history and should never be forgotten.” he said.

Thanking those involved in the event Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig added “Many thanks must go to Lisa Finn and the Balour Arts Theatre for staging this play and for bringing such a production to the area. I would also like to thank Dr Karin White of the Peace III Programme for her help and support, also Sarah Lapsley of Donegal County Council and indeed everyone who has helped to bring the production to the area.”

The play will be followed by a discussion on the subject with guest speakers Professor Liam Kennedy of the School of History and Anthropology, Queens University Belfast and equality and diversity consultant, Fiona Mc Gaughey. The event, to be held in Dore Community Centre, Upper Dore on Sunday 20th February, starts at 6.30pm sharp and admission is free.


Dé Luain, Feabhra 14, 2011

Attacks on wages and working conditions continue
14/02/2011
This week has seen the discredited outgoing Fianna Fáil government launch yet another shameful attack on workers.

DETI minister Mary Hanafin
Fianna Fáils DETI minister Mary Hanafin
Not satisfied with cutting €1 per hour from minimum wage workers and crucifying workers through income tax hikes and the so-called Universal Social Charge, the Twenty-Six County Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation announced what it termed as an ‘independent review’ of the Registered Employment Agreements (REAs) and Employment Regulation Orders (EROs).
The REAs and EROs set minimum rates of pay and working conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers in various sectors, including retail, construction, catering, hairdressing and contract cleaning. They are legally enforceable agreements upheld by the Labour Court.
The review will be conducted by Kevin Duffy, chair of the Labour Court, and UCD economist Frank Walsh. The presence of an economist will, no doubt, be used as an attempt to present the findings as somehow ‘value free’ and simply ‘hard-nosed’ economics. Walsh will no doubt play the same role as his fellow UCD economist Colm McCarthy, the Dublin government’s favoured hatchet man and author of the infamous McCarty Report, which proposed €5 billion public spending cuts in 2009.
Rates of pay for workers in many of these sectors are only a little above the minimum wage, which was officially reduced this month by €1 to €7.65 per hour. The rate of pay for agricultural workers is set at €9.10; for fully trained bar and restaurant workers the rate is €9.31; for contract cleaning, it is €9.50; experienced retail workers get a minimum rate of €9.78, while, for hairdressing, the rate, including commission on tips, is €9.83.
The narrow terms of reference set out for the review and the commitments already made by the Dublin government in the IMF/EU deal give a good indication as to the likely outcome of this supposed independent review. The IMF is explicit in its view that REAs and EROs should be abolished – which makes a mockery of the review and its terms of reference.
The IMF and Dublin government have already agreed the outcome, which is set out in page 27 of the IMF staff report, published last December: “concurrently, the authorities also intend to lower by €1 (to €7.65) the national minimum wage… followed by a review of sector-specific minimum wage agreements, with a view to their elimination.”
The outcome, therefore, could not be clearer, the battle lines have been drawn and the Dublin government/IMF intends driving down wages and working conditions across all sectors. Having spent two years demonising public sector workers and driving down their rates of pay by up to 15 per cent, they are now coming after workers in some of the lowest paid sectors in the economy.

ICTU general secretary David Begg
ICTU General Secretary David Begg
The response of ICTU in the face of this latest attack on wages and working conditions does not inspire confidence that the trade union leadership will mount a vociferous campaign of opposition. ICTU general secretary David Begg seems to believe that the ‘review’ offers an opportunity to end the attack on incomes across the board. In a statement, he said: “the review now provides an opportunity to end this policy [to refute the ideological attack on incomes] and start focusing on jobs and growth.”
What Begg fails to acknowledge is that this latest attack is simply a continuation of the war on workers and reflects the failure to protect the wages and conditions of all workers during the recent onslaught. This ‘review’ is merely a cosmetic exercise to mask an agenda that is clearly set and an outcome that the Dublin government has already agreed with the IMF.
Without doubt, Twenty-Six County government representatives and their allies in IBEC will present the slashing of wages within the context of so-called economic competitiveness. In other words, workers will work harder for less pay, while the bosses maintain their incredibly low rate of corporate tax.
It should also be stressed that this is also part of a much wider agenda to dismantle the social welfare system, which will see the introduction of a workfare programme and a single payment for the ‘working age population’. Proposals to keep the unemployed under constant surveillance and force those claiming jobseekers payments into low paid jobs are already on the table.
Over the coming years, the Dublin government will abolish schemes such as the One Parent Family Payment and Disability Allowance. It will replace these schemes with a single ‘social assistance payment’ for what is termed the ‘working age population’. In other words, the Dublin government will deem all of those outside the paid labour force as ‘eligible’ for work and will therefore provide additional cheap labour for workfare programmes.
As unemployment grows and wages are savaged, the economy will continue on a deflationary spiral. Workers should also be aware that the IMF will propose that this deflationary spiral be addressed through the facilitation of union busting companies such as Walmart into the retail market, in order to provide cheap goods to workers experiencing ever depleting wages. The proposal contained within the IMF deal to lift the cap on the size of retail units should be seen in this context.
Hoping that the ‘review’ of REAs and EROs will somehow force the bosses and the Dublin government to ‘see the light’ as David Begg implies, is a negation of the duty of the trade union leaders to defend the wages and conditions of their members. However, we have long come to expect nothing less from the toothless tigers in the ICTU leadership.
Workers in these sectors currently under ‘review’ should take inspiration from student nurses, who, following their protest actions this week have, at the time of writing, forced the Dublin government into relooking at attempts to employ them as slave labour.
While it is not clear what the outcome will be, without mounting a fight it is clear that the Dublin government would have driven student nurses into slave labour.

Déardaoin, Feabhra 10, 2011

Building Resistance to the IMF
10/02/2011
The Republican Congress society in Queens University, Belfast recently held a successful public meeting on the current state of the Twenty-Six County economy and the entry of the IMF into Ireland. The meeting was addressed by éirígí’s Stewart Reddin and Andy Storey of Action from Ireland [Afri].
Below is the speech that was delivered by Reddin on the night.

Stewart Reddin
Stewart Reddin
“I would like to thank the Republican Congress here at Queens for the invitation to participate in this important discussion and to commend the recent actions of students north and south who have taken to the streets in opposition to education cuts across Ireland.
These types of actions and campaigning work offer great hope for the mobilisation of a grassroots movement to challenge the regressive right-wing agenda of the political establishment across Ireland.
The IMF deal is essentially about heaping the burden of privately accumulated debt onto the shoulders of working people, while simultaneously imposing savage public spending cuts, driving down wage rates, introducing additional charges for public services such as education and health, privatising public assets and enhancing the ability of private corporations to accumulate further wealth.
While there has been considerable debate in the Twenty-Six Counties about the current state of the economy, unfortunately, precious little attention has been focused on the actual political role of the IMF. Indeed, the corporate media has largely presented the IMF as a benign organisation that came to Ireland simply to carry out a mere technical exercise of rebalancing the books. The popular RTÉ radio phone in show Liveline held a poll at the time of the IMF take-over and in excess of 70 per cent of those who texted into the show welcomed the organisation’s arrival in Ireland.
That IMF representative Ajai Chopra chose to walk the short distance from his hotel on Stephen’s Green to the Twenty-Six County Department of Finance building rather than take a driver was widely reported by the corporate media as the sign of a man serious in intent but frugal when it came to public finances. The fact that Chopra represents a fundamentally undemocratic organisation that has imposed free market fundamentalism with devastating consequences upon some of the weakest economies in the world was simply overlooked.
The Cheapest Bailout in the World?
While deeply mistaken, for many the IMF represented the possibility of an improvement on Fianna Fáil, who treated the economy as the plaything of their banker and developer friends. This was the party, after all, that enacted a €440 billionblanket bank guarantee that socialised the losses of these domestic parasites as well as international banks and bondholders. It was the Fianna Fáil finance minister Brian Lenihan who stated that the guarantee represented“cheapest bailout in the world”. Well, the cheapest bailout has now cost over €50 billion and counting.
The economy in the Twenty-Six Counties is facing a deep crisis, exacerbated by the insane decision to guarantee the bondholders in the state’s domestic banks. Between 2008 and 2009, the economy contracted by 11 per cent, unemployment has now reached 13.5 per cent and the Economic and Social Research Institute reported recently that upwards of 50,000 people in the Twenty-Six Counties will emigrate this year. Over the last three years, the Dublin government has made cuts of almost €14 billion and this year’s budget imposed further cuts and tax increases of €6 billion. Over the coming three years, as part of the deal with the IMF, a further €9 billion of cuts and tax increases will be imposed.
Interest repayments on the state’s loans are squeezing the economy further – the 2009 debt interest was €2.5 billion and will reach €8.4 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, the economy continues to rely heavily on both the export sector and Foreign Direct Investment, effectively creating a dual economy where multinationals continue to amass profits while workers struggle to pay for the basic necessities of day-to-day living.
A significant factor in tipping the Twenty-Six Counties over the edge was the private banking sector. During the so-called Celtic Tiger years, banks were allowed to grow at an extraordinary rate, with little or no regulation of their lending practices. Such was the lending splurge that banks grew to almost five times the size of the Twenty-Six County economy – or €500 billion. The bulk of bank lending went into property and speculative developments and it is estimated that Irish banks currently owe foreign banks over €300 billion. German banks are owed €113 billion, while British banks are owed some €107 billion. In effect, working people in the Twenty-Six Counties are being impoverished to save British and German banks.
Neoliberalism and the Origins of the Current Crisis
However, while the insane decision to offer a blanket bank guarantee has exacerbated the crisis in the Twenty-Six Counties, it is by no means unique to Ireland.
Capitalism is facing its deepest crisis since the 1930s. Its origins lie in the neoliberal onslaught of the 1980s, the primary aim of which was to smash the power of organised labour, drive down wages and create profitable outlets for accumulating capital. Margaret Thatcher’s crusade against British miners was a key moment in that war. Smashing a trade union as powerful as the National Union of Mineworkers would send a clear message to workers across Britain and, indeed, Ireland that resistance was futile.
Many within the leadership of the trade union movement in Ireland have cited Thatcher’s defeat of the miners as a key reason for their embrace of the disastrous social partnership process. While there are more complex reasons for the development of social partnership – trade union leaders in Ireland had long ditched the radicalism of Connolly and Larkin – the defeat of the NUM certainly sapped the confidence of workers generally. Over subsequent years, mass unemployment, supplemented by cheap labour supplies across the globe, suppressed wages and enhanced the power of capital. The trade union leadership in the Twenty-Six Counties swapped union organising for a place at the social partnership table, where they had a nominal input into social and economic policies and bargained so-called wage restraint in return for low direct taxation.
However, given the decline in wage rates, capitalism had a problem. Unemployment and low wages weakened demand for the goods and services being produced by global capital. But, as ever, capitalism adapted, resolving this particular problem with the supply of cheap credit. With vast sums of accumulated capital sloshing around investment banks, cheap credit was made available to workers to buy the abundance of goods produced by cheap labour and to buy the houses and properties that capital was investing in.
In addition, surplus capital was increasingly investing in complex financial instruments, such as futures markets, currency derivatives and hedge funds, rather than industry and manufacturing, where profit rates were declining. Profits soared for those who invested in finance capital. An example of the obscene profits being made in financial markets was highlighted last week by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that one US hedge fund manager, John Paulson of Paulson & Co, made a personal profit of $5 billion in 2010. In December 2007, the value of global derivatives markets stood at an astonishing $596 trillion. To put that in context, the total global GDP in the same year was $65 trillion.
While the alleged masters of the universe cleaned up, the consequences for working people of the property crash has been devastating. Two million people in the US lost their homes in 2008 and a further four million were in danger of foreclosure. In the Twenty-Six Counties, at least 70,000 households are experiencing severe difficulty in meeting their mortgage repayments, while a recent report commissioned by the Dublin government found there were 33,000 vacant houses in over 2,000 uncompleted projects, or what are referred to as ‘ghost estates’. The solution as capitalism sees it is to socialise the losses of the banks and make workers pay for the debts accumulated by the wealthy. And this is where the IMF enters the fray, playing the role of global debt collector.
The IMF Enters the Fray
So who is the IMF? Well, the IMF was founded at the end of the Second World War as part of the Bretton Woods Agreement, its primary role at that time was to provide short-term loans to states experiencing balance of payment difficulties and to manage the gold-standard currency valuation system. It was essentially put in place to stabilise the capitalist system. While, initially, it was a bit part player on the international arena – as capitalism enjoyed its so called golden age in the post WWII era – the IMF stepped out of the shadows in the 1980s.
Much like workers were targets for cheap credit so were countries in the developing world. Surplus capital in the form of loans was pumped into Latin America and Africa. With the rise in interest rates, these countries ran into severe debt repayment difficulties and so emerged the loan sharks of the IMF. The IMF offered loans in return for the enforcement of so-called market discipline on these vulnerable economies.
The IMF’s neoliberal mania forced governments across the developing world into prioritising debt servicing, 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 profiteer from the sell-off of state assets. Structural Adjustment Programmes, the IMF’s weapon of mass destruction, have wreaked havoc across the globe. Nigerian writer Fedilis Balogun described the crazed logic of SAPs as practiced in his country in the mid-1980s:
“The weird logic of this economic programme seemed to be that to restore life to the dying economy, every juice had first to be SAPed out of the under-privileged majority of the citizens. The middle class rapidly disappeared and the garbage heaps of the increasingly rich few became the food table of the multiplied population of abjectly poor. The brain drain to the oil-rich Arab countries and to the Western world became a flood.”
Let us not forget that Nigeria is an oil rich country; the fifth largest oil producer in the world. Balogun’s description of the poor of that country being forced to feed off the garbage heaps of the rich is a haunting spectre. Back in the early 2000s, the mere mention of the IMF was enough to send the children of the barrios of Buenos Aires scurrying in terror. And not without reason, for here was an organisation that laid waste to economies and societies across Latin America and Africa, impoverishing millions while enriching the few.
In more recent times, the IMF has imposed severe austerity programmes in Europe. The €7.5 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, which again came with punitive conditions 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. The Greek economy contracted by 4.2 per cent last year and is estimated to contract by a further three per cent this year, while unemployment has soared to over 12 per cent. It is increasingly clear that the IMF-prescribed austerity medicine is killing the patient. It is the same medicine being now prescribed for the economy in the Twenty-Six Counties.
The IMF Takes Over the in Twenty-Six Counties
The Dublin government’s deal with the IMF involves a joint EU/IMF loan of €67.5 billion, with €22.5 billion of that total coming from the IMF and €45 billion from the EU.
Interest payments on this loan amount to an extortionate six per cent. Like the children of Buenos Aires, working class children in the Twenty-Six counties have much to fear from the IMF. For this is the parasitic organisation that seeks to deprive them of a third level education; an organisation that demanded and got a reduction in the minimum wage; that intends to further cut the payment rate for young unemployed people and force them to take up low paid and low skilled jobs; and that seeks to commodify all public provision and privatise our remaining public assets.
Some of the key elements of the IMF deal include:
  • €1 cut in the minimum wage rate
  • Abolition of the Registered Employment Agreements
  • Increased taxes on worker’s wages
  • Significant cuts to social welfare payments and the forcing of the unemployed into workfare programmes
  • Reintroduction of third level fees and the introduction of a loans system
  • An increase in the pension age to 68 over coming years
  • Threats to sack public sector workers if they do not adhere to the conditions imposed in the Croke Park agreement
  • The imposition of a family home tax and water charges
  • Increase in the rate of VAT from 21 to 23 per cent
  • A review on the cap on the size of retail units, facilitating the entry of union busting companies such as Walmart into Ireland
  • The privatisation of key public assets such as the ESB and Bord Gáis
The one thing the IMF did protect was the 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate and, in this, they are supported by all the political parties represented in Leinster House. This is the price people in the Twenty-Six Counties are being asked to pay in order to bail out the banks.
Given the fact that we are facing into four years of austerity budgets, which will slash and tax up to €15 billion and possibly more if the IMF estimates that wealth is not trickling up sufficiently, poverty and inequality will rise significantly. Already, official reports have indicated the effects of the recession and the austerity budgets imposed to date. There has been a rise in child poverty levels, with almost one in five children in the south-east region in consistent poverty.
The Examiner newspaper reported before Christmas on the dreadful plight of two five-year-old children who were found searching for food in bins in Waterford City. President of the Kilkenny branch of St Vincent de Paul, Liam Heffernan, has compared poverty rates in the south-east to those in the developing world. The south-east region has the highest rate of unemployment in the Twenty-Six County state.
What Can We Do?
Class war does not come much clearer than this. Which brings us to the question of what we can do to resist and ultimately defeat IMF imposed austerity?
It is clear that the Twenty-Six County state has surrendered what sovereignty it had left to the IMF and that the right-wing adherents of neoliberalism are seeking, once again, to enhance the power of the capitalist class. What we are witnessing here is an epic transfer of wealth from working people to the wealthy. The simple fact is that the Twenty-Six Counties cannot afford to take on this debt and, as in Greece, the IMF austerity programme is causing a deflationary spiral and mass unemployment.
We can and must burn the bondholders. But this is a short term solution, the economy in the Twenty-Six Counties as well as globally remains in deep crisis. Over the coming years the process of transforming how the economy is organised must be to the fore if we are to break the connection with capitalism.
Throughout history, from crises have sprung alternatives – not always progressive it must be said, as in the 1930s – but many have been the collective expression of a will to build a different world: a world free from exploitation, where the rights of people are placed before the interests of capital.
While the mobilisation of mass resistance to the IMF in the Twenty-Six Counties and the austerity programme has been slow to emerge, there are grounds for hope. As I stated at the outset, the student movement has, in recent times, offered great hope to all us who seek to build that different world. The continued resistance to Shell Oil in north Mayo demonstrates how communities can challenge the might of corporate power, while the massive mobilisation organised by ICTU last November indicates the powerful potential of organised labour.
We need, collectively, to build these local struggles and create a movement to break the shackles of the IMF and consign the neoliberal ideology to the dustbin of history.”


Dé Luain, Feabhra 07, 2011

IMF Discussed in Annagry

07/02/2011

Despite atrocious weather conditions a large crowd turned up in the small village of Annagry last Friday night (February 4th) to attend the Alternative Community Cinema event entitled “The IMF, The Truth”. The evening, which was the first in the 2011 series of events to be held by the community initiative seen a varied itinerary which began with the showing of the film “The Shock Doctrine”. The film/documentary looked at how western governments had capitalised on the result of various disasters around the world.

The subject matter of the film began by showing how such behaviour had been prevalent for decades. The bottom line of the film was that many governments and big business worked in tandem to profit from the misery of disaster shocked nations and people around the world.

The film was followed by a talk and lively discussion with guest speakers, independent councillor Thomas Pringle and Shane O'Curry from the Latin American Solidarity Centre (LAMSC). Andy Storey of University College Dublin who was also due to speak was unable to travel from Dublin due to the poor weather conditions.
Shane O'Curry

Shane O'Curry from the Latin America Solidarity Centre said “If Latin America can teach us anything on the question of IMF involvment in Ireland, it is that we the public should force our government not to pay the bad debts that the gamblers in the private financial sector accrued." He added "What is required is not just the vision and will from the political class, but a strong and assertive popular movement from below to force that political class to act."

Speaking in relation to the film, Thomas Pringle said "Our Shock Doctrine is Ireland's financial crisis. The IMF's and ECB's involvment in Ireland is a fast road to privatisation." Speaking of the possible Ireland that could lie ahead of its people in the future Mr Pringle went on to say "Services such as water, electricity and even postal services could face major upheaval and price increases thanks to privatisation. This privatisation must be resisted. If anything, the IMF in Ireland has made us focus on exactly who they are and we will soon see the real truth behind the system they espouse."

Thomas Pringle addressing the crowd
Organiser of the Alternative Community Cinema event Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig praised all those who made the effort to attend the night. “It was great to see the large amount of people make the effort to come here tonight despite the bad weather” he said. “Tonight the crowd was obviously motivated by the IMF's involvement in Ireland given the intense debate that was held in the hall. But the attitude of the crowd was positive and they know they can make a change. It goes to show the concern people really have in the economic crisis we are facing here.”

“The governments, not only here in Ireland but also across Europe, would like people to believe that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are here to help the people of the nation. But their real intention is to protect the wealthy bankers and developers who caused this crisis and back up the capitalist system which feeds on the misery of the poor. The ordinary working people of the country are now paying off the debt of the wealthy and we hope this event has helped answer questions that the governments and media are unwilling to answer.”

Event organiser Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig
Speaking of the event he thanked all involved saying the community pulling together was the best way to make a change. Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig said “From the people who made the food and the staff of Annagry Hall, to the local people who made the effort to help, the speakers and Ian Smith who provided the entertainment all showed what can be achieved with people pulling together. What is needed for the people to get through this dictatorship from the IMF, supported by the political and economical elite, the European Central Bank or even Lenister House, is to take control of their own destiny by educating themselves and demanding justice on the streets on masse. The power and control is in their hands and all communities must start organising to make a change. If we don't make a change, then our children and our children's children will suffer tomorrow.”


Dé Sathairn, Feabhra 05, 2011

éirígí Announces Names of New Council Candidates
05/02/2011
Pádraic Mac Coitiréirígí has announced the names of two candidates who will be standing in May’s Six County local government elections.
John McCusker and Pádraic Mac Coitir will both be standing in Belfast; McCusker in the Lower Falls constituency and Mac Coitir in the Upper Falls area.
The socialist republican party took the decision to intervene in the council elections at its Belfast Ard-Fheis on January 23.
Republican ex-prisoner and former blanketman Pádraic Mac Coitir lives in the Lenadoon area of west Belfast and has been involved in socialist republican and community politics since 1970.
He said: “When I first became involved in the republican struggle, the goals of the civil rights movement were making the headlines, including the right to a job and the right to a home. Forty years later, these very basic and very limited demands have still not been achieved.
“This is why there is a need for a party like éirígí to stand in these elections: to reinvigorate the struggle for social and economic justice and the fight against partition and the British occupation.
“I am very proud to have been chosen by the éirígí membership to represent the party and its socialist republican politics and I am looking forward to engaging with as many working class people as possible in west Belfast over the next number of months.”
Thirty-three-year-old Falls Road man John McCusker holds a masters in international politics and has been involved in the republican struggle all his adult life.
John McCuskerHe said: “In light of the current economic crisis, it is clear that the old solutions and the old institutions have failed west Belfast miserably. What éirígí is bringing to this election is a platform that stands for active opposition to British government and Stormont cuts, a platform that offers an alternative to discrimination, poverty and partition and a platform that stands for rebuilding strong, vibrant communities.
“I am honoured to represent that platform and the politics of éirígí.”
Announcing their candidature, cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson said: “In line with the decision taken by the party membership at our recent Ard-Fheis, éirígí will be standing candidates in both of the west Belfast local government constituencies.
“John McCusker and Pádraic Mac Coitir are two sterling activists who have devoted decades between them in fighting for the rights of working class people and in pursuance of socialist republican objectives.
“West Belfast has been discriminated against for decades and remains one of the most socially and economically deprived areas in western Europe. This was the case 20 years ago and it remains the case today. The vicious cuts which are being implemented by the British government and its Stormont administration are going to make an already bad situation an awful lot worse.
“éirígí is standing in this election to give the working class people of west Belfast an opportunity to say enough is enough. The fight back against poverty and partition, against inequality and exploitation starts now and there are no two better people to be at the forefront of that fight than John McCusker and Pádraic Mac Coitir.”
Leeson added: “Elections will constitute only part of that fight back. Ultimately, real change in this society will only come about when enough people get politically active in their communities, on the streets and in their workplaces.
“This will be the core message of éirígí’s electoral campaign: Together, working class people have the power to stop and rollback the cuts and, eventually, remove those responsible from power.”

Déardaoin, Feabhra 03, 2011

Pictiúrlann Phobail Chomhroghnach in Anagaire

03/02/2011

(English version follows)

Ar Dé hAoine an 4ú Feabhra, seolfaidh Pictiúrlann Phobail Chomhroghnach a sraith oícheanta scannáin oideachasúla agus feasachta in Anagaire, Co. Dhún na nGall. Beidh an chéad imeacht leis an teideal “The IMF, The Truth!” ar siúl i halla Anagaire agus taispeánfar an scannán ‘The Shock Doctrine’. Tá an scannán bunaithe ar leabhar Naomi Klein leis an ainm céanna agus féachtar ar an bhealach a bhfuil polasaithe “saormhargadh” i ndiaidh ceannais a ghlacadh ar an domhan tríd dúshaothrú.

Labhair eagraí an imeachta Mícheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig faoin oíche ag rá go mbeidh sí ina oíche fhaisnéiseach do gach duine ag freastal uirthi. “An fáth gur roghnaigh Pictiúrlann Phobail Chomhroghnach an t-ábhar seo chun a sraith taispeána scannáin 2011 a sheoladh ná ní amháin go bhfuil sé ábhartha mar gheall ar an ghéarchéim eacnamaíochta ina bhfuil muid ach toisc go bhfuil níos mó agus níos mó ceisteanna ag daoine faoin ghéarchéim sin. Tá na gnáthmhná agus na gnáthfhir ar an tsráid ag iarraidh a bheith eolach faoi cé atá páirteach agus cad iad na móitífeanna atá acu agus níl an t-eolas sin á fhoilsiú ag na meáin chumarsáide” a dúirt sé.

“Féachann an scannán atá á thaispeáint againn , ‘The Shock Doctrine’, ar cén chaoi a bhfuil polasaithe rialtas caipitligh ar nós Meiriceá i ndiaidh ceannais a ghlacadh ar an domhan tríd dúshaothrú a dhéanamh ar thíortha croite ag tubaistí agus ar a ndaoine. Féachann sé ar an chaoi a dhéanann comhlachtaí príobháideacha brabús as tubaistí agus a n-íospartaigh chun an córas caipitleach a choimead ag rith” mhínigh an tUasal Mac Giolla Easbuig. “Tá an CAI (Ciste Airgeadaíochta Idirnáisiúnta) páirteach sa mheaisín freisin chun an córas céanna a choimead ag obair. Níl a bpáirt i dtíortha le géarchéim airgeadais ar son leasa na ndaoine ach ar son na mbaincéirí agus na scothaicme saibhre. I ndiaidh an scannáin beidh plé againn maidir leis an CAI agus a láithreacht in Éirinn agus cad a bheidh i gceist le sin do mhuintir na hÉireann agus go háirithe muidne anseo i nDún na nGall.

Beidh An Dr. Andy Story as UCD, Shane O’ Curry ó Choiste Dlúthpháirtíochta Mheiriceá Laidinigh agus comhairleoir neamhspleách Thomas Pringle ar tosach leis an phlé.

Lean an tUasal Mac Giolla Easbuig chun a rá “Beidh bia ar fáil againn freisin dóibh siúd ag freastal agus críochnófar an t-imeacht le ceol beo ó amhránaí agus file amhrán Ian Smith atá molta go hard. Mar sin tá muid ag súil nach oíche fheasacht amháin a bheidh ann ach oíche thaitneamhach chomh maith.”

Tosaíonn an t-imeacht i halla Anagaire ag a 7.30i.n. ar Dé hAoine an 4ú Feabhra agus tá fáilte roimh chách. Chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil is féidir leat dul i dteagmháil le Mícheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig ar 0868845476.



Alternative Community Cinema in Annagry

On Friday 4th February, Alternative Community Cinema will launch their 2011 series of educational and awareness film evenings in Annagry, County Donegal. The first event which is entitled “The IMF, The Truth!” will be held in Annagry Hall and will show the film 'The Shock Doctrine'. The film is based on Naomi Klein's book of the same name and is a look at how “free market” policies have come to dominate the world through exploitation.


Organiser of the event Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig spoke of the evening saying it would be a very informative one for all attending. “The reason Alternative Community Cinema has chosen this subject to launch its 2011 series of film showings is not only because it is topical given the current economic crisis we are in, but also because people have more and more questions about that crisis. The ordinary women and men on the street want to know exactly who the players involved are and also what their motives are and none that information seems to be forthcoming from the media” he said.

“The film we are showing, 'The Shock Doctrine', looks at how the policies of capitalist governments such as America's have come to dominate the world through the exploitation of disaster shocked countries and their people. It looks at how private companies profit from disaster and their victims to keep the capitalist system running” Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig explained. “The IMF (International Monetary Fund) are also a part of the machine to keep that same system working. Their involvement in financially crisis hit countries is not for the benefit of the people but for the bankers and wealthy elite. After the film we will be having a discussion regarding the IMF and their presence in Ireland and what it might mean for the Irish people and especially us here in Donegal.”

The discussion will be led by Dr Andy Storey of UCD, Shane O'Curry of the Latin American Solidarity Committee and independent Donegal county councillor Thomas Pringle.

Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig went on to say “We will also have food available on the night for those attending and the event will be finished off with live music from acclaimed singer and song writer Ian Smith. So we are hoping it will not only be an informative night for everyone but an enjoyable one too.”

The event begins in Annagry Hall at 7.30pm on Friday 4th February and all are welcome to attend. For more information you can contact Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig on 0868845476.

Dé Máirt, Feabhra 01, 2011

Gallaghers Job Losses will Lead to Fresh Wave of Emigration
01/02/2011
The socialist republican party éirígí has condemned the owners and management at Gallaghers Bakery in Ardara, county Donegal, following the announcement of the loss of 124 jobs with the remaining 65 jobs also at risk. Party spokesperson for Tír Chonaill Micheál Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said the job losses would devastate the economy locally and lead to a fresh wave of emigration from the county.

Gallaghers bakery Ardara
The job losses come as the parent company Aryzta, which also owns the Cuisine de France brand, have decided to shut down their frozen bread production line at the Ardara bakery and move it to Dublin.
Mac Giolla Easbuig said: “These job cuts have been imposed, not to protect the company, but to maximise and increase the profits for the shareholders. It is just the latest in a long line of examples of the greed and callousness with which multi-national companies operate. They amass vast profits created by the labour of their employees, who are then cast aside as expendable commodities once the multi-national decides they can secure a few extra euros profit for themselves somewhere else.
“The job losses are a devastating blow to Ardara and the entire south west Donegal region. This is a region that is already reeling as a result of mass unemployment and forced emigration, something we were led to believe was a thing of the past. Workers and their families who are already suffering hardship as a result of the savage cutbacks imposed by Fianna Fáil and the Green party in recent years, are now being thrown on the scrapheap with no opportunities for employment in the region. The end result will be ever lengthening dole queues and a fresh wave of emigration from the county.”
Responding to the manner in which workers were informed of the job losses, Mac Giolla Easbuig said: “The contempt with which the owners and management treated their workers is astonishing. Workers were informed by journalists outside the plant as to how their jobs were going to be dealt with. This is disgraceful behaviour and exposes the callousness of the company who care nothing about the impact their decisions will have on the very people who have created their wealth for them.”
He concluded: “The decision by management not to take questions from the assembled workers and to only talk to them individually is an attempt at the age-old tactic of trying to divide and weaken the workers resolve. It is now essential that the workers, those who have lost their jobs and those whose jobs are under threat, unite and organise to protect their rights and that of their families and wider community.”