Tomás Ó Flatharta

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Free Julian Assange – Political Prisoner – International Human Rights Day in Dublin, December 10 2020

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TD’s from Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, RISE, Solidarity and left independents, including Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly, gathered outside the Convention Centre where the Dáil was sitting on December 10 2020 – International Human Rights Day. They made a public call on the British Government not to extradite Julian Assange to the USA.

‘We condemn the detention of Julian Assange pending his extradition proceedings. We further condemn the attempted use of the US Espionage Act to prosecute Assange for his work exposing the war crimes committed by US service personnel in the Iraq and Afghan war logs. It is our view that the use of these judicial measures by the US constitutes a grave threat to free speech and a free press. It further notes that this attempted prosecution is without precedent in US law.

The TD’s, joined by Senate colleagues including David Norris, were supporting a call made by the National Union of Journalists in Britain that Boris Johnson’s government should refuse to extradite Assange to the USA on false charges of espionage. If sent to America, Assange would face a sentence of 175 years for doing the job of a journalist, where he published the lies told by the US government about the invasion of Iraq. The following statement has been signed by 24 members of the Oireachtas. It is fitting that on International Human Rights Day solidarity with the plight of Julian Assange is expressed. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has endorsed this statement.

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Irish Left Unity: a new round of engagement in a year of change, 2020

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Guest post by Des Derwin

The period before and since the general election has produced a renewed interest in left unity. There have been many contributions on it from across a wide sweep of the left.
There are several direct proposals for unity, or more unity.
As a small assistance to all this I have compiled links to and extracts from most of the leading interventions, since the general election, in the new round of interest in left unity. The collection is below.
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Irish Left Unity: a new round of engagement in a year of change, 2020. 

Links to and extracts from selected articles, posts, podcasts and interviews.

 

1. Jacobin; Michael Taft: ‘This Month’s Elections in Ireland Are a Historic Opportunity’, 2nd January 2020

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/02/ireland-elections-fine-gael-fianna-fail

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2. Rise website: ‘Why a Combined Left Challenge in the General Election is Essential’, 6th Jabuary 2020.

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/why-a-combined-left-challenge-in-the-general-election-is-essential

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3. Paul Murphy TD, speaking at the ‘Stop the Stitch Up’ rally, Dublin 7th March 2020.

“We need to build a mass political party of the left which is open to different trends, to be organised within, and to represent working class people.”

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4. RISE website: ‘After Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, what next?’ by Diana O’Dwyer, 20th February 2020

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/after-fianna-fil-and-fine-gael-what-next

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5. From: RISE website: ‘We need a socialist government’, 7th March 2020.

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/we-need-a-socialist-government

“Build a new mass left-wing party

There is a desperate need for a mass political party of the left. Because of Sinn Féin’s acceptance of the capitalist market and its hesitancy to engage with people-power movements, it will not be that party.
None of the existing radical left parties are likely to grow directly into that mass left party either. Instead, we need a left party that is anti-capitalist, anti-coalition and anti-oppression, while being open for different groups to organise within it.
RISE and our TD, Paul Murphy, wants to work with others to build such a party. While fighting for every reform in the here and now, we are a revolutionary socialist group that sees the need to end the rule of the bosses and big corporations.”
Left Unity Needed for Socialist Green New Deal

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6. RISE website: ‘No going back, but what’s ahead’ by Cian Prendiville, 1st May 2020.

https://www.letusrise.ie/featured-articles/no-going-back-but-whats-ahead

“This new era will pose new challenges and opportunities for the socialist left.
The recent general election was a brush with fate. The fractured socialist left took blows, but kept on our feet, holding onto most of our seats. This shows that a certain base of support for socialist TDs has been built. A Sinn Fein surge squeezed our vote, and we struggled to respond in a positive and principled way. In too many places the left split its vote, costing perhaps two seats and putting a third at risk. We should learn from that, and strengthen the left for the future.RISE’s proposals for a combined left challenge are a good starting point.
The truth is, this isn’t a bad place to begin. Just before the 2008 crash, Sinn Fein had 5 Dail seats, now it is the largest party in the state. Crisis changes everything.
Back then the socialist left had no seats. Now on the cusp of another major turn, we are the ones with 5 seats. We are the ones with the ideas to change the world. A desire for a radically different and better world is growing every day.
Let’s make this the decade of that revolution.”

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7. Irish Broad Left blog: ‘Uniting the Left to fight for an ecosocialist united Ireland’ by Cian McMahon, 6th June 2020.

https://irishbroadleft.com/2020/06/06/uniting-the-left-to-fight-for-an-ecosocialist-united-ireland/?fbclid=IwAR22GKSsaXbJWoISzYkC5-m2H5MOzxXqrkF6Bp-FYTF-cZrSZ-tfteQDRWQ

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Electoralism: a real and present danger for the radical left everywhere – in Ireland the Dáil SPBP bloc avoids the trap : unconditional opposition to coalition with the FFFG et al right

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A publication in India, the Radical Socialist, offers a timely warning to radical socialists in every part of the globe :

Unless the lessons of the repeated political collapses in Sri Lanka are learnt, not only Sri Lankan Marxists, but those elsewhere in South Asia, who have learned also from the achievements of the Sri Lankan Marxists, may suffer politically. There is a need to examine, not merely in terms of mid 20th century history, but in terms of today’s class struggle, why the politics of electoralism, and of alliances with bourgeois parties (under the disguise that they are petty bourgeois parties, or ‘democratic’ parties, etc) can only lead to damages for the Trotskyist forces. We urge the Fourth International leadership to take it up as a burning political and educational issue, and take firm action. Collaborating with bourgeois oppositions is hardly restricted to Sri Lanka, and serious political discussions will benefit revolutionaries in India, at least. http://www.radicalsocialist.in/articles/statement-radical-socialist/899-radical-socialist-statement-on-sri-lankan-elections

What is the story in Ireland?

Gaining significant electoral victories is a key achievement of the radical left in Ireland since 1997, when Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party won a Dublin West Dáil seat. This electoral victory significantly helped to defeat government water charges plans promoted by the then main capitalist parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, which were aided by their serial coalition partners, the Labour Party.

Ups and downs in Irish radical left electoral fortunes have occurred from 1997 to 2020. This was an open question in 1997 : could the Dublin West victory of Joe Higgins be a minor Trotskyist blip on a stable bourgeois election landscape dominated by FFFG? It turned out this was not a blip. Higgins was the first TD who openly promoted a “Women’s Right to Choose” Abortion policy. He himself and members of his party actively promoted various pro-choice campaigns. The election of numerous radical left pro-choice deputies in 2011 and 2016 eventually forced the main right wing parties to allow a referendum repealing the anti-abortion 8th constitutional amendment. The result : a landslide victory for the pro-choice movement in Ireland and abroad. Here is one report written by USA activist Sarah Jaffe : http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article5823

Today there is a 5 TD SPBP radical left bloc in Dáil Éireann. Three other deputies – Joan Collins, Catherine Connolly and Thomas Pringle – adopted the same anti-FFFGGG governmental policy as the SPBP bloc. This scenario was historic – it had never happened before, since the foundation of two partitioned states in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.

Government Coalition with the Right? : Ghastly Results Revealed

The policy of the Irish radical left on coalition with right wing parties is clearly explained here by RISE Dublin South-West TD Paul Murphy :

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Covid-19 restrictions Necessary – Irish Government’s Hesitation Showed Priority it Places in Profits over Lives

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No Border News (NBN) No Borders News is publishing a series of interviews about Covid 19 in many different parts of the world.

Jessy Ní Cheallaigh answers NBN’s questions about the Coronavirus Epidemic in Ireland.

Please provide a brief biography for yourself and any links to resources or websites you would like included in your interview.

My name is Jessy Ní Cheallaigh. I’m a 22 year old woman living in Ireland. I’m a socialist activist and a final year student studying Communications through the language of Irish in NUIG, Galway City. I’m a member of RISE (Radical, Internationalist, Socialist, Environmentalist) a democratic socialist political group. https://www.letusrise.ie/

Above from left: Dave Murphy; Jessy Ní Cheallaigh, Paul Murphy TD, Kay Keane and Nicole McCarthy

1. Briefly describe the state of the pandemic in your country or city. How many people are infected? How many have died? What do experts expect in the coming weeks in terms of how fast the contagion will spread.

At the current date (14/04/2020) the total number of confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland is 10,647. Death toll has reached 365 as 31 more deaths were confirmed in the last 24 hours. In Northern Ireland, 76 new cases have been registered and 6 more people have died from the coronavirus. The tally in the North now stands at 118 deaths and 1,882 confirmed cases. 12,529 confirmed cases on the island with a death toll of 483. Overall Ireland has made a decent effort to flatten the curve as the spread is not as rapid as it is in other countries. The government announced that there has been a “very high level of compliance” with restrictions on non-essential travel over the bank holiday weekend. However there is still concern amongst experts over the “clusters” of the virus present in nursing homes around the country with very little healthy/qualified staff to help prevent spread. As of Saturday 11 April, there have been 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Ireland. These figures however are definitely not 100% accurate as there have been problems with testing in the lack of testing kits available/bought as well as the huge backlog in test results that have yet to be processed. When testing was first opened up it was under the understanding that anyone who suspected they had the virus could be tested, when large numbers of test were coming back negative they changed it so that the only people who were referred for testing were those who had two or more of the most common symptoms of the virus or those who were high at risk (immuno-compromised/underlying conditions etc.) This resulted in over 40,000 people being taken off the waiting list who then had to reapply. Lots of reports state that some of these people still haven’t received results and that was just under a month ago.

2. What practical measures has your national government taken to respond to the crisis? Have they acted responsibly or were they unprepared? Briefly describe measures your government is taking now to contain the virus and treat people infected with Covid-19. Is there a state of emergency, are schools closed, etc.?

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History is Being Made – Radical Left TD’s in Ireland Co-operate to drive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael out of a Dublin Government for the First Time Ever

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Every Dublin Government since the foundation of the Irish State in 1921 has been run by either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. In years to come, tell them you were part of history – On the streets for a Left Government : Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, 1.00pm, March 7 2020.

From Paul Murphy TD :

Today saw an important development in the fight for an alternative government, excluding Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. RISE and People Before Profit have come together with three other left-wing TDs, Joan Collins, Catherine Connolly and Thomas Pringle, to negotiate together for an alternative government to be formed. We have come up with a common political programme, which amongst many other things includes a rent freeze and rent controls to bring rents down, a return of the pension age to 65, pay equality for all public sector workers, an increase in the minimum wage to €15 and free, green and frequent public transport as part of a plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Paul Murphy TD, RISE, Dublin South-West

Many people have asked – how could this happen? Surely the numbers are not there for such a government? Establishment TDs and media commentators have trotted out the phrase that the first rule of politics is to know how to count! But politics is about much much more than counting who is in the Dáil – real change is always driven from below.

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‘Trump victory: don’t mourn – organise!’ by Brendan Young

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Trump victory: don’t mourn – organise!

As the news of Trump’s victory sinks in, and is welcomed by the xenophobic right like LePen in France and presumably Farrage in Britain – who spoke at Trump rallies – the pattern of politics is becoming clearer. What has happened in the USA is an outcome of the failed promises of Obama; likewise in Britain where the betrayals of the Blairite-led Labour Party have created support for the xenophobic UKIP and Brexit; in France there is growing support for LePen due to the failures of Hollande and the French Socialist Party; in Germany, the racist AfD has growing support; and similar patterns can be seen in Austria, Belgium and Italy – not to mention support for the xenophobic right in Hungary and Poland.

To me the lesson is this: if those who claim to represent ordinary people don’t fight for a real alternative that will improve life for those suffering under austerity and marginalisation, a section of the working class and the poor will turn to the xenophobic right for a solution.

So far we in Ireland have escaped this. But the experience in the USA and across Europe is that only the fighting left can provide a real alternative. The failure of Ireland’s Labour Party to defend ordinary people has resulted in a collapse in support for Labour and growing support for the left. The AAA-PBPA alliance has gained support and there is continued support for for left Independents. And also for SF, which is seen as a left alternative but unfortunately appears willing to go into coalition with FF in the future.

To my mind, the Left in Ireland must now be much more politically ambitious. The AAA-PBPA groups should not sit on the laurels of increased support in opinion polls and carry on as at present – recruiting small numbers to their individual groups. It’s time to consider a broader initiative, based upon a commitment to mass action and a number of key demands – including repudiating the bank debt, taxing the rich and big business, breaking the EU rules and spending on housing and public services, legalising abortion and ending direct provision. This could draw together those who are willing to lead a fight for real change but who are not willing to join either the AAA or PBPA at present.

Likewise those who are involved in the discussions for a new initiative including Brendan Ogle, Joan Collins and others around the Independents for Change grouping – as recently reported in the Phoenix magazine. A political initiative for which the starting point is exclusion of and competition against the existing left groups – which are rightly criticised for competing against one another – does not bode well. At minimum there should begin a discussion on the possibility of a united left slate for the next general election, which is likely to be early in 2018.

In the USA, Bernie Sanders should now leave the Democrats. There is no solution to the crisis facing working class Americans in this party of big business and millionaires. It may be possible to launch a new party with Jill Stein of the Greens – although many who supported Sanders may now not trust him on account of his support for Clinton. But only a party that is independent of the politics of big business can lead a fight for a real alternative – either in the USA or in Europe.

The English Solution to an Irish Problem

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The English Solution to an Irish Problem; Martyn Turner, the Irish Times Cartoonist, Tells it As It Is

Small and Big Steps

Small and Big Steps

“CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICERS in the UK have released statistics this morning on the number of terminations that were carried out in England and Wales last year, highlighting the incidence of women travelling from Ireland to avail of abortion services.

A total of 3,982 women gave addresses in the Republic of Ireland when attending clinics and hospitals during 2012. That made up the 68 per cent of the 5,850 abortions provided to women resident outside both countries. Women from Northern Ireland made up another 15 per cent of the figure.” The new restrictive X Case Law, which the Labour Party and Fine Gael ensured was carried by the Dáil last night, will not change this situation. Pro-Choice TD’s put down several amendments which were rejected; the defeated pro-choice amendments included a provision to allow women with fatal foetal abnormalities access to an abortion in Ireland. Another Savita Halappanavar type case is inevitable, sooner or later. http://www.thejournal.ie/at-least-21-women-from-every-county-in-ireland-had-an-abortion-in-the-uk-last-year-988359-Jul2013/

National Women’s Council of Ireland Director Orla O’Connor makes the current situation clear :

“Over 17,000 men and women wrote 77,428 emails to their TDs and Senators over the last few months to call for legislation to give full effect to the X case as part of NWCI’s campaign. This is evidence of the high level of public support throughout Ireland for access to safe and legal abortion in life threatening cases, including risk of suicide.”

“Yet what people were calling for has not been delivered in this Bill. Abortion remains a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison and onerous and inaccessible procedures for women dominate the Bill. We urge the Government, as the Bill goes through its final stages, to take on board our proposed amendments so we have legislation that is fair, just and workable for women in Ireland.”

She continued,

“It is also critically important for us to acknowledge that with the passing of this legislation Ireland will continue to have one of the most restrictive abortion regimes globally.  It will provide no solution to women who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest, in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities or where there is a risk to the health of the woman. Women in crisis pregnancies, over 4,000 every year, will still be forced to travel abroad for abortions. Women in Ireland must be in a position to make personal decisions about their own bodies and health care free from coercion, discrimination and the threat of incarceration.  http://www.nwci.ie/news/2013/07/10/vote-on-abortion-legislation-a-historic-moment-for/

Here is Deirdre Conroy’s Account of the shameful Dáil Debate on foetal abnormality :

Minister’s contribution to debate on foetal abnormality was disrespectful to women

87 % are in favour of medical intervention for this condition  http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/minister-s-contribution-to-debate-on-foetal-abnormality-was-disrespectful-to-women-1.1460755?page=1

Ten Marks Out of Ten : Statement by Six Pro-Choice TD’s Who Will Vote No to the Government’s Pathetically Weak X Case Legislation

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Ten Marks Out of Ten : Statement by Six Pro-Choice TD’s who will vote No to the Government’s Pathetically Weak X Case Legislation

Statement – Abortion Bill – 10 July 2013 – immediate release

See also :

http://www.thejournal.ie/pro-choice-abortion-987669-Jul2013/#comment-1368450

Pro-choice TDs say they have been forced to oppose abortion Bill because it criminalizes women and is unnecessarily restrictive

Bill will not prevent another death like Savita Halappanavar

Restrictions will cause doctors to delay terminations – putting women at risk

Pro-choice TDs this evening declared their intention to vote against the Fine Gael – Labour abortion Bill.

Clare Daly said:

“In the absence of a referendum to repeal Art 40.3.3 of the Constitution – for which we call – we were willing to support legislation in line with the X Case Ruling of 1992. This Bill however, will put more obstacles in the way of access to life-saving abortions than are required by the Constitution.

This legislation is happening in the wake of the sad death of Savita Halappanavar. Yet the Fine Gael – Labour Bill, by defining and giving legal protection to ‘unborn human life’ from the moment of implantation until delivery, will not prevent similar deaths. It will make terminations illegal during an inevitable miscarriage while there is still a foetal heartbeat. If a woman gets an infection in such circumstances, doctors will have to delay a termination until her life is at risk. This was what happened to Savita Halappanavar – and the same could happen again under this Bill.”
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