Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Irish General Election February 8 2020’ Category

UNITE Trade Union says many construction workers cannot afford homes they build – Supports Rally for Housing, Saturday November 26, Parnell Square, 1.00pm

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UNITE is one of the trade unions backing a Dublin Rally for Housing on November 26.

Source : http://unitetheunionireland.org/2022/11/24/saturdays-raise-the-roof-rally-must-signal-turning-point-on-housing/

Support the Anti-Racist Bloc: https://tomasoflatharta.com/2022/11/23/racism-in-dublins-east-wall-area-demanding-garda-vetting-for-asylum-seekers-and-refugees-and-using-this-as-an-excuse-to-surround-asylum-seekers-and-chant-get-them-out/

Unite says many construction workers cannot afford homes they build

November 24th: Unite, which represents workers throughout the economy, has called for a large turnout at the Raise the Roof housing rally due to take place this coming Saturday (26 November). 

Commenting, the union’s Regional Coordinating Officer Tom Fitzgerald said:

“A generation has been locked out of secure and genuinely affordable housing.  House prices rose by 77% between 2012 and 2020, while incomes increased by just 23% over the same period.  At the same time, average rents now consume over half the average wage.

“The housing emergency did not arise overnight.  Home building by local authorities collapsed as a direct result of public policy, with new housing builds by local authorities across the country amounting to just under 2,300 units in 2019 – a derisory figure given the level of housing need.  Instead of building homes, funding has been channelled into tax breaks for large investors, lucrative leasing deals for developers and large subsidies for private landlords.  It’s clear that we need a new deal for housing”, Mr Fitzgerald said.

James McCabe is Unite Regional Officer for Construction and added:

“Younger construction workers cannot afford to buy or rent the homes they build, while their older colleagues see their children unable to access secure and affordable accommodation.

“We need a new state-led housing programme focused on building public housing on public land, and on providing high-quality accommodation as well as high-quality jobs for those working in the sector”.

Concluding, Tom Fitzgerald said:

“The housing emergency is not a simple matter of policy failure:  it is a consequence of the policy choices pursued by successive governments.  Whether directly or indirectly, the housing emergency affects all workers, and on Saturday we need to turn out in huge numbers to demand that housing be treated as a human right and public good”, Mr Fitzgerald said.

Racism in Dublin’s East Wall Area : “Demanding Garda vetting for asylum seekers and refugees and using this as an excuse to surround asylum seekers and chant “Get them out” is as racist as it gets”

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Let’s be clear and unambiguous.

A correspondent writes :

Demanding Garda vetting for asylum seekers and refugees and using this as an excuse to surround asylum seekers and chant “Get them out” is as racist as it gets. That’s the inner core of the protests in East Wall and it has nothing to do with housing. Calling for vetting to make sure these black men are not pedophiles is a propaganda repeated everywhere such protest emerge. It is learned from European racism over the past decade. Nothing can make this look any different. Nothing should try to make this any different than what it is.

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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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Cost of Living Coalition March in Dublin, September 24 2022 – How Big Was The Crowd? The Irish Times Estimate was 3000!

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In the company of Des Derwin and many others I walked from Parnell Square to Merrion Square in the Cost of Living Coalition Dublin march on Saturday September 24 2022. Exhausting!

I helped Des and other comrades carry the Dublin Council of Trade Unions banner. An Irish Times report claimed 3000 people were with us – I was flabbergasted! 😕! It seemed like a lot more people were on the Dublin streets that day.

John Meehan, September 29 2022


Des Derwin investigates :

Physician, Heal Thyself. The back page of this morning’s ‘Irish Times’ is almost completely given over to an advertisement for Specsavers.

Finbar Geaney and Des Derwin carrying the Dublin Council of Trade Unions Banner

On page two the paper carries a report of the Cost of Living Coalition march on Saturday (24th September). Grand, and such reports are by no means guaranteed in that newspaper these days. The print report doubles down on its original online piece ‘estimating’ 3,000. The experts are wheeled in: “Use of the online crowd calculator Map-Checking gave an estimate for the crowd of about 3,000 people…” The caption to the photograph repeats the 3,000 people ‘estimate’, just in case, I presume, any reader might get the impression that the peasants were actually stirring. I think the ‘Times’ might benefit from a trip to Specsavers themselves, or at least a trip out to ‘the field’ to count the marchers passing within yards of their office, or even to view some of the videos and photographs of the event.

Maybe it wasn’t 20,000. Who came up with that anyway? Maybe it was half that. (One video based calculation on Twitter comes out at c.16,000). But 3,000?! That byline will become a byword.

Des Derwin September 29 2022


It’s a sunday and I like maths so I thought I would get an actual estimate of the Cost of Living march yesterday, and disprove figures given by the Irish Times. (the latter was actually very easy!)

Darragh’s Twitter Page https://twitter.com/Taiwo_Oifigiuil/status/1574031121792520193?t=Ve3zSg_rEgmTrvpaBqw-1g&s=19&fbclid=IwAR2BBhaDfZk8JAUWjT74eu-OiwdV4_JOMfeG8wReH8BSusspc8FQy_RU9j8

with the width of one side of O’Connell street (8.8m excluding paths), and a very conservative estimate of 2.6 people per sqm this gives 16,085 people. Adding other numbers discussed gives an absolute minimum of 16,710 The 20,000 estimated by the organisers is more than possible

Perhaps the Irish Times should add Darragh to its list of reporters?

Protests Spanning Decades – 1969 – 2018 – 2022 : Take Back the City : Cost of Living Coalition Demonstration, Saturday September 24 2022, Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin, 2.30pm

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Des Derwin Michael Taft and Mick O’Reilly squatting on O’Connell Bridge, at a protest supported by Dublin Council of Trade Unions about the Housing Crisis in Ireland – Friday September 23 2018.

Three comrades on a Dublin Bridge : Des Derwin, Michael Taft, Mick O’Reilly

On Saturday September 24 2022 the same people, the same Trade Union organisation, will be at a Dublin Cost of Living Coalition demonstration in Dublin.

From Michael Taft : “A Protest Spanning Decades” :

Des Derwin and I sat down at today’s Take Back The City protest on O’Connell Bridge on the very same spot that Mick O’Reilly sat down in January 1969 when he was participating in a sit-down protest with the Dublin Housing Action Committee. The issue then, as now, was homelessness and housing need.

And we will continue to protest – Des, Mick and myself along with thousands of others – until the Government acts on the most important social issue of the day.”

One of many media reports – this is from Hot Press, one of Ireland’s leading rock music and culture magazines

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Imperialism Today : Victory to Ukraine, Defeat for Russia – Responses to Paul Murphy TD

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In an article of 19 September 2022, Paul Murphy, an Irish TD and member of RISE, offered an analysis that attempted to bridge the position between those supporting Ukraine’s right to resist the invasion and those in the west who see NATO, not Putin, as the main enemy here. See https://rupture.ie/articles/imperialism-today?fbclid=IwAR0w3tMJhsTnHFO-FHlJ3j-RC7H-pkG3NaTno2w92aT0ThTNckw1jYIyagg.

There are several problems with this analysis, which places itself within a camp accurately described by Irish Left With Ukraine (ILWU) activist Conor Kostick as “Left Evasionist” See https://independentleft.ie/ukraine-evasions/

We offer two immediate responses. The first is from Conor Kostick :

Both Anti-Imperialist and Inter-Imperialist?

Paul Murphy’s conclusion was :

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“Thousands Expected at People-Power Protest in Dublin over the Cost of Living” – Interview with Eddie Conlon

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Des Derwin reports :

Something good, as well as Gene Kerrigan, in the ‘Sunday Independent’:

Sunday Independent interviews Eddie Conlon, Cost of Living Coalition and PBP activist

‘A ‘people power’ movement hopes to see thousands of demonstrators take to the streets of Dublin next weekend, in protest over the spiralling cost of living.

The number of rallies has increased around the country in recent weeks — but next Saturday’s planned demonstration is expected to be by far the largest.

Organised by the Cost of Living Coalition, which is supported by over 30 national organisations, it is sending a clear message to the Government: people cannot afford looming energy bills, and should not be forced to pay them.

The coalition was set up in March by Eddie Conlon, TU Dublin (formerly DIT) sociology lecturer and a long-time activist for People Before Profit.

The Crumlin native was previously involved in the anti-nuclear movement.
“I’ve been politically active since the 1970s, but I’ve never seen such unity in any campaign as this one,” he said.
“It has support from so many organisations and from every generation. This is a huge issue in society. People are frightened. People are worried about the bills that are due to arrive.”

In the UK, a movement called ‘Don’t Pay’ has urged people to cancel their gas and electricity direct-debits from October 1, with over one million people already pledging support. Is the Cost of Living Coalition poised to make the same call to people living in Ireland?
“The coalition is not at this point calling on people not to pay.
“But the reality is that some people just won’t be able to pay these bills. What we need from government is a clear ban on people being cut off for not paying a bills if they cannot afford it,” he added.

The coalition is supported by People Before Profit, with TD Paul Murphy recently throwing his weight behind it.
Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats are backing the movement, as are the Union of Students Ireland (USI) and the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, among many others.

“As people prepare to turn on their heating in the coming weeks, the cost of energy is about to become more critical than ever,” said Conlon.
“This is about people power. It’s about people coming together to say ‘enough is enough’. We expect thousands of people at the demonstration next weekend.

“I think, since Covid, people have really started to see the cracks in our society and need their voices to be heard.”

The extremist far-right in Ireland have recently tried to associate themselves with the Cost of Living Coalition, making occasional appearances at rallies.

“They have nothing to do with us,” Mr Conlon said. “We have nothing to do with the far-right. We are about unity. What they do is seek to divide people.
“People want to be able to lead a decent life and have their basic needs met without having to pay through the nose for it. The premise of this coalition is to give ordinary people the opportunity to say, ‘we can’t put up with this.’”

They’ll sit in the cold themselves — but they won’t do that when they’re minding the grandkids’

Sue Shaw, CEO of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, a member of the coalition, said she has “no doubt” that “momentum is building” around how unaffordable energy bills are becoming. She said older people are particularly worried about the cost of heating their homes in the coming months.

“Two-thirds of older people in this country are solely reliant on the pension. Over the past two years, we have already seen heating oil, coal and turf increase by 137pc.

“The Government is trying to pitch old against young during this situation. But we have decided to all come together in this coalition.

“The accommodation crisis is impacting younger generations more — students in particular, and people who can’t afford to buy their own homes because of high rents. This coalition is about bringing every generation together and being united in saying: ‘We will not put up with this.’”

Ms Shaw said her organisation has already begun to receive calls from worried older people, who have been buying warmer duvets in preparation for the winter, in the hope it will reduce the need to switch on the heat.

Others talk about plans to spend large parts of their days in the coming months in public libraries, as these facilities turn on the heating.

“The anxiety is building. Some older people who mind their grandchildren, because their own children can’t afford childcare, are worried about their bills. They’ll sit in the cold themselves — but they won’t do that when they’re minding the grandkids.”
Ms Shaw advised the Government to “start listening” to the public mood.

“The coalition is not right now advocating people should not pay their bills. But if people don’t have the money, what can they do?

“Older people might be retired — but let’s not forget how much we contribute to society. As well as childcare for their families, older people make up a huge part of our voluntary sector.

“And of course, the Government should also remember that older people are the generation who vote.”
Both Ms Shaw and Mr Conlon criticised “profiteering” by energy giants, who they say are making millions in the midst of this crisis.

“We need price controls on energy. There is major profiteering going on. The ESB are making a lot of money right now,” Mr Conlon said. “There needs to be taxes on the energy companies. The Government just need to start listening to the people. Because the people must be heard.”

The coalition’s protest is due to get underway in Parnell Square, Dublin, at 2.30 pm next Saturday.’


End of article. Note I’ve corrected the time for the march which the Sindo got slightly wrong – Des Derwin

A Strange Policy is Reviewed – Support Ukraine’s Resistance Against an Imperialist Russian Invasion “Politically” – But Oppose Giving Arms to the Resisters – A Critique of Irish Left Evasionism

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International solidarity between socialists and anarchists in Ukraine and Ireland is growing. We are united in a desire to see Russia defeated, which will be a blow to the right everywhere. We are equally united in our opposition to Western imperialism and the global capitalists circling Ukraine ready to exploit the country after the war.

One of the disappointing developments of the war is that so many socialists in the West have failed to offer such solidarity. The group we are most familiar with is People Before Profit, and analysing the think piece published in August 2022 by John Molyneux explains why. We offer this critique of John’s article in the hope that there are members of People Before Profit who can save it from its current convergence with the ‘campists’. We hope this can happen in time to make a difference to the growth of practical solidarity between Irish and Ukrainian socialists.

 

Molyneux’s essay begins with an attempt to categorise the debates among the left into three positions:

1. the ‘campists’ in favour of a Russian victory, 

2. those who are for a Ukrainian victory without reservations about NATO and western imperialism, and

3. those who are neither for a Russian victory nor for one for Western imperialism (‘neutrality’)

 

This schema has been derived by working backwards from John’s understandable desire to portray People Before Profit as fundamentally different to the campists, while doubling down on their criticisms of the Ukrainian resistance. For a supposed Marxist analysis it has a deep and irreperable flaw: it has sprung from the head of its author and not from the reality of the situation. Frankly, the left doesn’t have time to ignore reality in this way any more.

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Left Wing Excuses for Avoiding Solidarity with Ukraine

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In many parts of the world, including Ireland, a number of left wing activists and organisations favour a “plague on both houses” approach to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 2022. These currents desperately seek any excuse to blacken the Ukraine government, peddling false information which justifies an irresponsible refusal to express solidarity with heroic Ukrainian resistance. This plays into the hands of the far-right Moscow ethnic-cleansing aggressor.

One current excuse, which has duped naïve leftists in Ireland, is the claim that Ukrainian President Zelensky “banned virtually all remaining opposition parties at the outbreak of war”. The articles below, which the Swedish comrade Jan Czajkowski has written, demonstrate these claims are false and misleading.

This is the source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article63598

A related excuse popped up in Ireland when Sabina Coyne-Higgins wrote a public letter to the Irish Times – also published on the website of the Irish President Michael D Higgins. People Before Profit jumped to the defence of the Coyne-Higgins letter. The deployed excuse was that politicians from right-wing parties such as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in Ireland criticised the author.

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