Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment’ Category

Irish Left Archive Podcast Number 44: Vincent Doherty: Official Sinn Féin, International Marxist Group, Troops Out, People’s Democracy, H-Block Committee, Sinn Féin – reblogged from The Cedar Lounge Revolution

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I first met Vincent Doherty in the late 1970’s via People’s Democracy and the Fourth International. Since then we travelled on different political paths, while remaining on very good personal terms. In 2022 Vincent and me – along with a group of left-wing activists who come from different but complementary streams of the Irish Left – have been working actively together in the Irish Left With Ukraine organization.

The comrades who publish the Cedar Lounge Revolution Blog come from a stream of the Irish Left which is different from Vincent Doherty and me. But we converge politically in 2022 on a very decisive issue – the genocidal imperialist Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On the left nothing stands still. There is a strong mistaken current dominant of the Irish Marxist left which does “what if” interpretations of historical events. This interview avoids that approach. It is much better to accept the past, warts and all. We cannot change the past, but we can with 20-20 vision learn from our history. We can apply that knowledge to the present day and the immediate future – which we can influence.

Rayner Lysaght Tribute – Irish Labour History Society Event

Rayner Lysaght RIP (January 30 1941 – July 2 2021) was a close comrade of Vincent and me for many years in People’s Democracy and the Fourth International. The Irish Labour History Society staged a commemorative tribute in honour of Rayner on May 14 2021. I delivered the speech below, which also deals with some of the events described by Vincent Doherty.

John Meehan January 2 2023

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“Road to Repeal: 50 years of struggle in Ireland for contraception and abortion” – An outstanding PhotoBook – Interview with Co-Author Therese Caherty

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We’ve come a long way!

The fight for reproductive freedom in Ireland

Irish publisher Lilliput Press recently launched the photobook, Road to Repeal: 50 years of struggle in Ireland for contraception and abortion, in Dublin’s Mansion House. Social policy analyst Pauline Conroy, photographer Derek Speirs and journalist. Therese Caherty have documented in pictures and words Ireland’s choice movement over half a century.

John Meehan interviews Therese about the project, where it came from and the future for reproductive rights in Ireland.

John Meehan – What gave you idea for the book?

Therese Caherty – Our project began in 2013 at Against the Tide, a retrospective of 1980s activism by photographer Rose Comiskey. At a closing discussion on Irish feminism, a young woman asked some of us oldies – Why did you let the 8th Amendment happen? It wasn’t a view we were familiar with. But you could see where she was coming from. She had arrived into the world of the Eighth and seen, maybe experienced, its effects. And she was angry.

In 2014 we answered her question with Women to Blame, a multimedia exhibition on the struggle in Ireland for contraception and abortion. Today, thanks to Lilliput Press, we have what we always wanted – a permanent home for that exhibition. Road to Repeal commemorates in pictures and words a people– powered movement that believed in a more equal Ireland for women and pregnant people, and their unfettered right to independent decision– making about parenthood.

We see our book as part of that movement of activists and participants and a contribution to it. It’s not for profit and all royalties go to the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

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Defending the reproductive rights of Ukrainian women in Ukraine, Poland, across and beyond the European Union: a global feminist struggle – An international petition

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This petition is an appeal for action. The initiative is supported by the European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine – you can add your support by activating this web link below and adding your signature :

Web link https://ukraine-solidarity.eu/to-read/defending-the-reproductive-rights-of-ukrainian-women-in-ukraine-poland-across-and-beyond-the-european-union-a-global-feminist-struggle

Since February 24th, Ukrainian women are facing increasing levels of gender based violence as a consequence of the Russian invasion: (1) Russian troops are massively using rape against women and children as a war weapon. (2) Domestic violence against women and children has significantly increased. (3) Women displaced inside Ukraine and abroad, looking for safe shelter face an acute risk of gender-based and sexual violence. Rape and consequent forced pregnancies are present in all these forms of gender-based violence.

Irish supporters include Bríd Smith TD (People Before Profit, Dublin South Central); Brendan Ogle (UNITE Trade Union); Nóirín Greene (Trade Unionist).

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For an Ireland Where Trans and Non-binary People are Equal Safe and Valued

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Both states in Ireland – formally independent in the South, controlled by Britain in the North – have a vile creepy history : child abuse, suppression of women’s rights, reactionary religious control of health and education. This “Carnival of Reaction” has deep strong foundations, built following the reactionary partition of Ireland in 1922. In recent decades, especially in the formally independent part of Ireland, popular rebellion has attacked the reactionary carnival – most notably when a constitutional abortion was repealed in a May 2018 referendum.

In days gone by a “Belt of the Crozier” firmly struck by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid was enough to kill Noël Browne’s 1950 Mother and Child Scheme. These days, after a tsunami of child abuse scandals and clerical criminal convictions, far-right causes such as transphobia are, at the popular level, rightly seen as a thin edge of the wedge. They remind us of dark periods we Irish experienced in the recent past.

A media outlet, the Joe Duffy RTÉ Liveline Show, have a mass audience. It is not directly associated with the religious far-right in Ireland. However, it has started to offer an often uncontested platform to government anti-feminist propaganda, targeting the publicly funded National Women’s Council of Ireland.

The broadcaster is not backing down : “I found it deeply disturbing after my 25 years of presenting here to be told that a debate on Liveline was ‘incredibly irresponsible’ in the context of increasing transphobic and homophobic attacks,” the presenter says, referring to a statement from the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, before adding that the censuring was “insulting” to his programme staff and, indeed, his listeners.” (Source Irish Times, June 17 2022).

A coalition Trans Equality Together led by TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland), BeLonG To and LGBT Ireland was launched last week with the aim of creating an Ireland where trans people are equal, safe and valued. Pictured: (L-R) Tiernan Arnup from AMACH! LGBT Galway, Jayson Pope, an LGBTQ+ youth activist and Matt Kennedy, of BelongTo. Picture: Julien Behal (Source Irish Examiner)

A number of human rights organizations have come together opposing the reactionary anti-trans offensive. In very measured language they state :

On 9th, 10th and 13th June, RTÉ Radio 1′s Liveline show discussed matters of gender identity. Trans Equality Together, and our members, share a common concern about these episodes, and we support Dublin Pride’s decision to terminate its media partnership with RTÉ and its consultation with Trans Equality Together about this decision.

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Ireland’s National Maternity Hospital – Questions over “murky” new company’s role

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Doctor Peter Boylan – a former master of the National Maternity Hospital – and Róisín Shortall TD – co-leader of the Social Democrats party – are leading voices in a chorus of criticism directed against a proposed new Irish National Maternity Hospital. Their detailed policies on this issue are below. The source is the Irish Examiner newspaper, May 2 and 3 2022 issues. https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/politics/arid-40864076.html

These two relentless campaigners have focussed on “murky” Vatican plans to control women’s healthcare in Ireland. A number of Dáil political parties positioned on the left have aligned themselves with Shortall and Boylan’s critical campaign – Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, Social Democrats, Solidarity-People Before Profit, plus others such as Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly. A political firestorm erupted this week, which has frightened the Green Party, a junior partner in the ruling FFFGGG coalition headed by Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin. A government plan to finalise Holy See control of the new Maternity Hospital is currently “paused” for two weeks after Green Party TD’s such as Neasa Hourigan (Dublin Central) responded to growing public opposition.

John Meehan May 5 2022

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Prevent Vatican Control of Ireland’s New National Maternity Hospital

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According to an Irish Times report (May 4 2022) the Dublin government is delaying implementation of a scheme to allow Vatican control over a new National Maternity Hospital in Ireland :

two members of the HSE board, Prof Deirdre Madden and Dr Sarah McLoughlin, dissented from a decision to approve the legal documents.

Green Party TDs Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello were among dozens of party members who wrote to the party’s Ministers to “implore” them to block the proposed moved.

Opposition politicians yesterday called on the Government to delay approval of the move before an Oireachtas debate on the matter.

Anne Conway reports : “The New Maternity Hospital Deal is rotten to the core. The new St Vincent’s Holdings Company that will run the new hospital being associated with The Panama Papers shows the immorality of it all. The economic brutality of the religious who were involved in instigating the new NMH handover is mirrored in their brutality to women and children in their care in industrial schools,Magdalen Laundries etc. Sexual abuse occured so paedophiles were among them. How can the Government proceed with handing over a 1 billion plus state of the art hospital to these people?”

Marie O’Connor’s detailed article (see below) gives readers the facts – a shady business deal is designed to prevent the new National Maternity Hospital being public and secular.

A public demonstration occurs on Saturday May 7 at 2.00pm outside the gates of Leinster House, Kildare Street – notice is below.

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Workers’ Solidarity Movement (Ireland) has come to an end

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I developed a lot of political respect for comrades of the WSM, who worked well with political rivals on political campaigns where common objectives were sought.

I think particularly of referendum campaigns opposing various pro-austerity European Union treaties, and referendums on the Irish abortion ban which was finally removed from the state constitution in 2017. Also, many WSM comrades worked in a collaborative way with other revolutionary left activists in trade union activities and the mass boycotts of water charges and the property tax. The political difference which could never be resolved was : participation in state elections. Once the Irish revolutionary Left made a small but significant electoral breakthrough – moving from margins to better connection with mass struggles – the political writing was on the wall for electoral boycott anarchism. In my opinion that trend began – we are still living through it – when Joe Higgins scored an extraordinary by election success in Dublin West in 1996, running as an anti Water Tax candidate, and as a member of the Socialist Party. Higgins lost that contest by a very small margin, but comfortably won a Dáil seat in the following 1997 General Election, unseating then Labour TD and coalition minister Joan Burton.

The political difference which could never be resolved was : participation in state elections.

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President Michael D Higgins Rejects Religious Invitation Issued by Men of God in Armagh – The Right Decision – The 1921 Partition of Ireland Created a Carnival of Reaction

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Eejit is a great word living within the English language spoken in Ireland. Author Mike Finn reveals the meaning in a sentence of nine words : “Those advocating Brexit are an awful shower of eejits”. Likewise, those who advocate “marking” the partition of Ireland are an awful shower of eejits. President Michael D Higgins is no eejit.

Michael D has become a spokesperson for the vast majority of people living in Ireland who hate partition. He will not attend a religious event in Armagh commemorating the 1921 creation of the Northern Ireland Orange State. An opinion poll on the issue shocked numerous pro-Unionist forelock-tuggers in Ireland – 81 per cent of people in the 26 County bit of Ireland agree with the President’s decision.

“Huge backing for President Michael D Higgins” – Irish News Headline

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Sharon Graham Wins UNITE General Secretary Election – What Happens Next?

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Here is an interesting initial analysis of Sharon Graham’s UNITE election victory – the union has a new General Secretary. This is the source : https://www.rs21.org.uk/2021/08/25/sharon-graham-wins-stunning-unite-victory/.

Sharon Graham is the new General Secretary of UNITE, a British Trade Union that has a significant membership on both sides of the border in Ireland.

UNITE has a significant membership on both sides of the border in Ireland, where it operates with a large degree of independence from the British mothership. For example, UNITE in Dublin is a significant participant in the activities of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, and it has been an active supporter of campaigns for Abortion rights in Ireland.

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Nazi Rally Scheduled in Dublin – Don’t Go! Boycott!

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A correspondent highlights a tiny rally in Dublin next Saturday – Don’t Go!

“I see Justin Barrett’s National Party, who want a Catholic Fascist Dictatorship in Ireland, have organised a little protest for Saturday ‘against the lockdown’. Even if you don’t agree with public health measures, don’t be fooled by this shit. These people want young women and girls back in slave labour laundries, young men and boys back in industrial schools, an end to birth control and women’s bodily autonomy, all non-white-Irish people to be forcibly exiled, and executions of their political opponents. All under the jackboot of a paedophile-protecting Catholic dictatorship.”

Don’t Go!