Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Financial Crisis (September 2008 onwards)’ Category

The Virus – Apocalypse Now?

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This is a very gloomy CoronaVirus Warning – and it is credible.

The Monster Is Bursting Through Our Door

Pentecostal Christians – and probably many others – believe that at ‘the end of days’, which precedes the Second Coming of Christ, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will ride out.

The Four Horsemen are generally interpreted as being pestilence, death, famine, and war. If Pentecostals are thinking logically (as if) they should be expecting to see the Lamb of God some time soon.

In the wake of wars that have killed more than 500,000 since 2001 and an accelerating environmental crisis dramatised by the Australian firestorms, the current Covid-19 outstrips dystopian science fiction stories like Outbreak. What American Marxist author Mike Davis described as ‘The Monster at Our Door’ has, in a rather different form, burst through the door. Read the rest of this entry »

Fianna Fáil’s O’Callaghan supports national govt idea – Family Squabbles on the Right Wing of the Irish Political Establishment Nearing a Conclusion.

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For nearly 100 years, since the foundation of the partitioned Irish State in 1921, Governmental Power has alternated between the dominant Fianna Fáil Party and its junior sibling Fine Gael – Tweedledum Versus Tweedledee. The February 8 2020 General Election Result ended this sham – FFFG between them secured 72 seats, well short of the required 80 seat majority. Until now a FFFG plus GG (Gombeens and Greens) Coalition Government looked likely as the third Irish Civil War party, Sinn Féin, was rejected by FFFG – considered to be too left-wing, especially by FF.

Now, a leading FF TD, Jim O’Callaghan, has changed the tune – we might see a SFFFFG Coalition.

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan has said that Fianna Fáil may have been too definitive in ruling out a government with Sinn Féin and said he would “go along” with the idea of a national government to deal with the coronavirus. 

Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon insisted a functioning government was in place and that there were daily meetings of the emergency committee dealing with coronavirus.

He said the Taoiseach would have no issue in talking to other leaders and there was already full dialogue between the Minister for Health and other health spokespeople. 

— Read on www.rte.ie/news/politics/2020/0308/1120949-government-formation/

Coronavirus is not responsible for the fall of stock prices – International Viewpoint – online socialist magazine

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When the air is replete with inflammable materials, any given spark can cause a financial explosion, at any time.

Éric Toussaint of CADTM examines a worldwide stock market collapse.

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the international spokesperson of the CADTM (Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt) , and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. 
He is the author of Debt System (2019), Bankocracy (2015); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago; “Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank, Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers”, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010. He has published extensively in this field. He is a member of the Fourth International leadership. Read the rest of this entry »

FFFGGG Government Emerges in Ireland

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A Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green/Gombeen (FFFGGG) Government Emerges – a Treble F Treble G GeeGee is galloping towards the winning post – lots of dosh waiting in the trough for the greedy nags.

Independent Left’s Useful Analysis of the February 2020 Irish General Election

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The author is Conor Kostick

independentleft.ie/dublin-bay-north-election-results/

In Dublin Bay North, as elsewhere, at first it seemed as though the socialist voice of the working class was going to also be swept away by the growth of the Sinn Féin vote. The Green vote too, might have been a challenge for socialists (although it was more of a challenge for Labour and other middle-ground and middle class parties). But as the counts went on, the transfers from Sinn Féin were strongly to the left, much more so than had been anticipated, although there were some losses to the presence of radical socialists in the Dáil and as activists with the advantages that being a TD brings to helping organise campaigns. We were sorry to see Ruth Coppinger and Séamus Healy lose their seats but delighted that after a difficult looking start, on the whole, the socialist left held their ground. In fact, we should have gained a seat in Dublin Bay North and at the expense of Seán Haughey of Fianna Fáil, who before the election had been a twenty-to-one favourite.

Result of the Irish General Election February 2020 – A Muddy Field Is Reviewed

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Notes on a muddy field

Des Derwin

There is a traditional and defining dividing line in Southern Irish politics between principled left politics (revolutionary, radical and left social democratic) and opportunist betrayal, and that is willingness to enter coalition with (or to support) a government of either of the two capitalist parties, Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. The radical and marxist left, including PBP, have remained unshakable in this. Labour, the Greens and others have gone into coalition with FF or FG and administered with them not reform but austerity. For years now, and before and after this election, the radical left has kept up a barrage of calls upon Sinn Fein not to follow its new willingness, and apparent ambition, to enter coalition with FF or FG. That remains the position of PBP and the radical left.

There have been several quick left-denunciations of calls on the Irish left for a left government including (effectively led by) Sinn Fein. Here are some quick thoughts in response if not necessarily in reply (for a couple of excellent introductions to the Irish political terrain, see two articles in Jacobin magazine by Daniel Finn and Ronan Burtenshaw).

Not enough left leaning TDs (members of parliament) were elected to provide a majority for ‘a left government’ even if all conceivable forces were pressed into service. So then People Before Profit (PBP) called for a minority left government, which is harder to underpin logistically. Sinn Fein has now declared that the numbers are not there for a left government and moved on to seeking one involving Fianna Fail (necessary for a majority).

But Fianna Fail have unexpectedly maintained, after the election results, as hard a line against coalescing with Sinn Fein as Fine Gael and themselves had before it. Joining an apparent ‘stop Sinn Fein’ heave (aided by new media-manufactured scares) they are backing Sinn Fein and themselves into a corner, with the only door exiting to another election, a very unattractive option, not least for the electorate.

The idea of a left government is a government led by Sinn Fein with a Sinn Fein Taoiseach (prime minister). The (now hypothetical) prospect of actual cabinet membership by the radical left is unclear. A few things need to be considered before comparing the proposal to Millerand and entry into a capitalist government. 

There is a traditional and defining dividing line in Southern Irish politics between principled left politics (revolutionary, radical and left social democratic) and opportunist betrayal, and that is willingness to enter coalition with (or to support) a government of either of the two capitalist parties, Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. The radical and marxist left, including PBP, have remained unshakable in this. Labour, the Greens and others have gone into coalition with FF or FG and administered with them not reform but austerity. For years now, and before and after this election, the radical left has kept up a barrage of calls upon Sinn Fein not to follow its new willingness, and apparent ambition, to enter coalition with FF or FG. That remains the position of PBP and the radical left. 

While part of the radical left in Ireland (including the Socialist Party, who have just been reduced to one TD) have always characterized Sinn Fein as outside the left, as the Catholic nationalist side in a sectarian war, the bulk of the revolutionary left, including the PBP-SWP-SWN (IS) tradition, have always regarded Sinn Fein (like most people in the Irish body politic) as left wing, part of the left, often involved in class issues and campaigns. This has been accompanied by varying degrees of socialist criticism of Sinn Fein and Republicanism and the dead end it must lead to, and has led to in Stormont.  

Read the rest of this entry »

“To all of them we say – Rule out coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael! – Sinn Féin should seek to lead an alternative minority government” – Interview with Paul Murphy TD, RISE

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“To all of them we say – Rule out coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael! – Sinn Féin should seek to lead an alternative minority government”

The Irish General Election to the 33rd Dáil, February 8 2020

Interview with Paul Murphy TD, RISE, Dublin South-West.

Paul Murphy is a member of RISE

RISE – Radical Internationalist Socialist Environmentalist

RISE was part of the Solidarity-People Before Profit (SPBP) Electoral Coalition.

Full Statewide results are here

Irish General Election February 8 2020 – Results

The Dublin South-West Result is here :

Result of the 2020 Irish General Election, Dublin South-West

The interview took place in Dáil Éireann on February 19 2020.

John Meehan asked the questions.

Dan Finn’s excellent analysis of the Irish General Election Results is here : Ireland’s Left Turn

Finn summarised the main features of the result :

“At a time when left parties in Europe have been losing ground to their rivals on the Right and Centre, the Irish election bucked the trend. Whatever Sinn Féin does next, this was clearly a left-wing vote. The exit poll showed that health and housing were by far the most important issues for voters. [1] Two-thirds wanted investment in public services to be prioritized over tax cuts. 31 percent agreed with the statement that Ireland “needs a radical change in direction”. It’s possible that this opportunity for change will be squandered. But right now, the momentum in Irish politics is with the Left, and the traditional conservative parties are on the back foot. An election that was supposed to call time on the political turbulence of the last decade has had the opposite effect.” Read the rest of this entry »

Gregor Kerr: an enlightening Facebook discussion on Lansdowne Road

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4th November
Gregor Kerr post:
LRA is now officially in tatters. All trade union leaders should recognise that fact, full pay equalisation and restoration for all should be demanded NOW
Comments and debate:
Michael O’Reilly All well and good, personally I’d prefer to see the country stop borrowing for daily expenditure and a proper health service. It’s nonsense for unions to expect z return to Celtic tiger.
Gregor Kerr Maybe we should stop borrowing to pay off the debts of international financial gamblers and speculators – which thanks to decisions made by politicians and facilitated by a compliant trade union movement we will be doing for many many years
Michael O’Reilly Certainly I agree we should have burned them all, but that’s a separate issue!!
Michael O’Reilly You think you can win INTO election??

Gregor Kerr Burning or not burning the bondholders, tackling or not tackling the evasion and avoidance tax by corporations and Vulture Funds, controlling or not controlling the percentage of economy being sucked up by profits – – – these are not things that can be treated as separate issues.
Gregor Kerr In relation to the election, the objective of taking part is to encourage participation, to empower members to become more involved, to develop the thinking behind We Are The Union and to initiate a real discussion about how members are facilitated in or prevented from using the union structures to organise and campaign on the issues that affect them.
Can I win? Absolutely. Getting a very good response from branches and members that I have been engaging with. And that discussion about how members relate to the union and vice versa is certainly taking place.
As I see it, policies pursued by the current leadership have brought us to where we are. I think a change is needed and hopefully enough members will agree with me, vote for me but also step up their own involvement.
Glen Brennan Celtic Tiger?? LOL had no effect on my living… I have same house, same car. Could never afford second properties and will never. ASTI are not looking for increases but pay for work carried out and equalisation.
Larry Molloy  Exactly. If the government actually were free market capitalists the housing bubble wouldnt have happened. The government ,the bondholders, the high street banks (owned by the bondholders ) colluded to enslave the citizens of this state in a criminal ponzi scheme. The amalgamation of state and corporate power is called fascism. The only solution is citizen initiated referenda.

Laura Seoighe As a teacher who started during the Celtic Tiger, Michael could you explain to me what the teachers gained during the Celtic Tiger compared to what they were getting pre Celtic Tiger please?

Michael O’Reilly About trice the salary that we had prior to it!

Michael O’Reilly Sorry, that should have said twice! If you don’t believe me check the public records…..or even a few into annual diaries!!!

Mairéad De Búrca I didn’t get twice my salary but my current salary is lower than about the year 2,000. Benchmarking that gave 1% here and 0.5% there has been well wiped out.

Michael O’Reilly salary levels…. These were unrealistic always and further you are intelligent enough to realise that increasing salaries all round simply leads to inflation!

Gregor Kerr Perhaps if they introduced rent controls, built public housing, did something to control the price of car insurance, made access to health services available, controlled the spiralling cost of third level (indeed all levels of) education…. Perhaps if all this was done then the necessity to increases wages/salaries would not be so great.
Another reason why we need a trade union movement that has a bigger vision of how society should be run.

 Michael O’Reilly Can’t disagree with those but realistically “they” won’t do them so I think the point I made stands?

Michael O’Reilly Anyway I shouldn’t be wasting your holiday time. Hope you’re having a good break.
Keith Burke Michael, so you think we should continue to “take one for the good of everyone”? Fine Gael are happy to let the rich get rich again and the poor return to being poor. They would be happy to pay teachers nothing if they could get away with it. They certainly will never put pay parity in place if they aren’t forced to.
Des Derwin They won’t curb their prices (leading to inflation), but we must (in case it leads to inflation!) 🙂

Written by tomasoflatharta

Nov 5, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Gregor Kerr: Lansdowne Road effectively torn up.

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27th October rally a missed opportunity Threat of Garda dispute won huge gains Strategy to achieve Pay Equalisation urgently needed

I wrote this article in the immediate aftermath of the INTO/TUI Pay Equalisation Rally.  Since then the gains won by the threat of strike action by gardaí have effectively torn up the Lansdowne Road Agreement.  The formulation of a strategy for gaining full Pay Equalisation and Restoration has just got more urgent.

Approximately 1,500 teachers – mostly members of INTO with a small number of TUI members – attended the Pay Equalisation rally outside the Dáil on 27th October.  It was great to see such support for LPTs, but how many people left that Rally feeling energised, empowered and with a feeling that our unions are ready for the next stage of the battle for Pay Equalisation??

The answer is very few indeed.  In fact most people left with the feeling that in holding the rally the union leadership were mainly just going through the motions, holding a rally so that they could say they held one, and treating the members of the union as extras to turn up, wave flags for half an hour and go home again,

Where were the plans for what is going to happen next?  Where was the outline of the next phase of the campaign?  Where was the ‘ask’ of union members – the tasks they should have been asked to do to step up the fight?  Other than asking attendees to turn towards the Dáil and chant a slogan or two, what did our union leadership ask us to do in the coming weeks and months??……

Dual Purpose

A rally such as that held outside the Dáil has a dual purpose.  By bringing large numbers of people together we demonstrate to the government that we are capable of mobilising large numbers against them and in support of our demands.  We give them the message that they will have to meet our demands or we are capable of stepping up our protests.  But also – and just as importantly – its purpose is to Educate, Agitate and Organise.  People should go home from it more informed, more ‘agitated’ (ie with more motivation/ fire in their belly) and more organised (ie with a plan as to how each of them will contribute to the campaign over the next few weeks and months).

On both of these fronts – warning the government and motivating the membership – the Rally failed miserably.  In relation to the first of these, the failure to even acknowledge the fact that our ASTI colleagues had just spent the day on the picketlines in pursuit of the same goal of Pay Equalisation was shocking.  We don’t have to agree with the ASTI tactics or strategy (which I do!) to realise that basic trade union solidarity should have ensured that we acknowledged their stance and gave them a shout-out of support!

Failure to acknowledge ASTI, however, demonstrated an even more fundamental flaw in our strategy.  Does anyone seriously believe that the progress (limited as it is) that has been made by INTO and TUI on the pay equalisation issue would have been achieved if ASTI was also inside the confines of the Lansdowne Road Agreement?  Without doubt the talks that have thus far taken place on pay equalisation had as one of their prime motivations attempts to isolate ASTI and force ASTI members into LRA…..

Rushed ballot

INTO members, by contrast to ASTI, were first to sign up to LRA following a rushed ballot in June 2015 – a ballot in which, in common with many recent ballots in INTO, information presented was one-sided and not always correct (For example, ‘gains’ presented for LPTs included gains already available in HRA).  There was huge pressure placed on members to vote Yes, with a barrage of leaflets, texts and emails coming from head office.

By remaining outside LRA and by being willing to take action for immediate Full Pay Equalisation, ASTI have done us a huge favour.  If all 3 unions were inside LRA, why would the government be making any concessions?  On the other hand, of course, if we were all outside it and were all taking the brave stance of ASTI wouldn’t the government have to concede even more??  So at the very least at the 27th October Rally we should have acknowledged the contribution of ASTI and should have warned the government that unless they want to see us leave the LRA and join with our colleagues on the picketlines an immediate timeline for full pay equalisation and restoration must be given.

Instead, a government member looking at our rally would have drawn the conclusion that we posed no threat.  And a union that poses no threat will receive very little in negotiations…

Educate, Agitate, Organise

This leads me to the second point.  The other reason for holding a Rally is to Educate, Agitate and Organise the membership.  If you see the union members as a group of people who have a contribution to make to building a campaign that is… But more and more it seems that our union leaders see the members as consumers, as people who should be looking to ‘the union’ to deliver a service.  They see us as people who can be called on to send emails to government before the budget, to turn up and wave flags at the odd rally…  They are content enough with a relatively passive membership who they can ‘represent’.

My vision of trade unionism, however, is one in which the members are the union, and the role of the leadership should be to motivate and organise us, to facilitate us in using the union structures to campaign on issues that affect us.  In relation to Pay Equalisation, and in particular in relation to the Rally, the very least that should have happened is that people who were there should have been encouraged to go home from it seeing themselves as Organisers of the next phase of the campaign – in their own schools and staffrooms, in their own branches and districts.

1,500 people at the Rally was impressive enough but we have a membership in the greater Dublin and Leinster area of over 14,000 (plus students) so there were clearly a lot of members not there.  We should have been asking everyone going away from the rally to see themselves as key organisers and motivators of fellow staff members, to talk about the issue in staffrooms, to engage in debate at their local branches……

Debate and Strategy

Because we do need a debate about how Pay Equalisation is going to be achieved, and a strategy to achieve it.  The union leadership are content enough with slow incremental progress, with moving towards Equalisation.  But they do not have any strategy for where we go next.  Others argue that given the changed circumstances, and in particular given the stance of the ASTI, we should be holding a ballot on whether to withdraw from LRA.

In a leaflet distributed at the Rally, I called for

  • “ Pay restoration promised in LRA should be brought forward and paid immediately
  • INTO should demand immediate talks with government for a new deal to replace the LRA with a deal that gives:

– full pay equalisation

– full pay restoration

– the payment of money owed to us such as the Principals’ benchmarking award

– return to the ONE 2010 pay scale

– back pay owed to post 2012 graduates due to their qualification allowance cuts”

I outlined what I thought union members should do –

“To achieve those demands we each need to

  • Contact CEC reps and the union leadership with this demand
  • Contact our branch secretaries and ask that this demand be discussed at the next branch committee meeting and be forwarded to CEC and head office
  • Start now to build momentum behind this demand for January AGMs and towards Congress 2017
  • Use social media and other fora to make the case for these demands”

And I pointed out that “In both of the last paydeals the government looked for early talks because they wanted to impose more cuts.  We don’t need to wait for end of LRA to demand talks.”

Options

So there are 3 options

Continue with the CEC strategy (although what plans they have to move things along are rather vague)

Look for a ballot to withdraw from LRA

Demand that pay restoration elements in LRA are fast-tracked and that new talks begin on a deal to replace it

What is clear is that a discussion on our strategy needs to happen immediately.   It should be led by the CEC and full-time officials, but it won’t be.  They went through the motions and held the rally, they’ve ticked the box and hope that the ticked box will be sufficient to keep us quiet for now.  So it is up to every one of us to initiate the discussion – In your staffroom ask your colleagues what they think.  If you’re on a branch committee raise it at the next meeting.  If you’re not, why not get your staff (or as many of them as will do so) to write to your branch secretary asking that the issue be discussed. Similarly write to your CEC rep and to the general secretary.

We, the members, have to take control of the discussion and of the campaign.  We have to assert that the INTO is our union and we have to use its structures to fight on our behalf and on behalf of our lesser paid colleagues.

Gregor Kerr

From ‘Gregor Kerr for INTO President’ blog

5th November 2016

Written by tomasoflatharta

Nov 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Gerry Adams: G8 will advertise County Fermanagh

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http://www.impartialreporter.com/news/g8-lough-erne/articles/2013/04/21/400658-adams-g8-will-advertise-county/

Lords and Ladies of Austerity from the G 8 – Obama of the USA; Cameron of Britain; Merkel of Germany; Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund; assorted other “Masters of the Universe”: all heading for the “dreary steeples” of Fermanagh in July 2013.  The local police have promised to have extra prison cells ready for protestors.  Politicians practice the ancient Irish art of “tugging the forelock” – Gerry Adams leads the way!