Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘The Irish Times’ Category

Stand Against Racism – Solidarity With Refugees – Dublin, GPO, Monday February 6, 1.30pm – Called by Le Chëile – Diversity Not Division

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Stand Against Racism – Solidarity With Refugees

We call on all our comrades to come out in a show of peaceful and determined solidarity, to stand with our refugee and migrant communities with love and compassion on Monday 6th February at 1.30pm at the Spire to oppose the latest iteration of anti-refugee hate.

Demonstrations have been called claiming to represent communities in Ireland under various slogans such as “Ireland is full” or “Ireland says no”. We know that Ireland is not full. The population is millions less than pre-famine times. There are many thousands of housing units and buildings laying empty across the country. Successive neoliberal governments have failed the Irish people, and particularly its homeless population, for years. In doing so, they have also failed refugees and migrants who have come to our shores. The Direct Provision system is a crime and many migrants are homeless.

It is undeniable that many of those involved in these demonstrations are using the language of the far right, of virulent racism, of hateful xenophobia. Violence is threatened against refugees and migrants simply due to the colour of their skin and their countries of origin. A migrant camp was violently attacked. Direct provision centres are targeted. Social media is awash with hate and vitriol, all based on ignorance and prejudice. Misleading and fact-free slogans and tropes are circulated and accepted as fact when they are simply a tissue of lies. We cannot sit back and hope that this awful period in our history passes. Many of us are working in our communities trying to counteract this misinformed narrative but whilst that slow and painstaking work continues, our refugee and migrant communities are in danger now – and they do not see that work being done in communities. They see crowds gathered outside hotels and refugee centres screaming “get them out”. That is not expressing reasonable concern. That is blatant intimidation. Anger at the government should be directed at the door of the government, where it rightfully belongs, and not at the door of those who have had no part to play in the immiseration of communities across the country.

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Report : Community Standout Against Racism — Monday January 30 6pm @Ashtown Station, Dublin 15

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Up to 200 protesters attended an anti-racist protest in Ashtown (Dublin 15) on a freezing cold night – an impressive turnout to a demonstration called at short notice after news of a brutal racist attack was widely circulated two days beforehand. Journalists from various mainstream media organisations attended.

Significant Update from Ruth Coppinger, a former Dublin West TD :
At the end of the solidarity standout in Ashtown last night, we were approached by one of the men who lived in the homeless encampment that was attacked. My colleague Cllr John Burtchaell and others went with him to the campsite to retrieve some belongings and they gave him a lift to a place to try get a bed for the night in north county Dublin, and some other assistance. This man is Polish and worked in one of the largest companies in Ireland since 2006. He was even a union activist.
The lies and denial of some that this attack even happened is quite sickening. A whole number of men are probably on the streets tonight. They were living in squalor and not using resources from anyone. The attack on Saturday afternoon was preceded by a number of visits and videos which encouraged people to clear out the site because they weren’t Irish. All of this evidence should be pursued by the Gardai. Shame on all involved.

The Irish Times reported :

Between six and eight men – Polish, Croatian, Hungarian, Portuguese, Indian and Scottish – had been living at the camp since August, without incident they say, until the attack by a number of men and their dogs on Saturday, after which they abandoned the site.

Protesters in Ashtown on Monday evening chanted “Reject fear racist attacks end here” and “Homes for all not racism” while several people carried placards reading slogans such as “everyone is welcome here”.

One speaker at the protest, Myriam Point Marouki, said the “vile beating up of homeless migrants” was making everyone in the area “very fearful” and racism “cannot be left unchallenged,” she said.

“The lack of services in our society affecting everyone isn’t the fault of refugees or migrants who disproportionately find themselves in vulnerable situations and homelessness like the men who were attacked this weekend”. The full report is here : https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/social-affairs/2023/01/30/anti-racism-protest-takes-place-in-ashtown-after-attack-on-migrant-camp/

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‘REFUGEES WELCOME’ THE OTHER SIDE OF PROTESTS – When far-right protests against asylum seekers housed in the former ESB building started in Dublin’s East Wall, Molly Hennessy wanted to do something. So she went down on her own with a cardboard sign that said, “Refugees Welcome”.

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This report was published in the January 28 2023 edition of the Irish Times. The author is Patrick Freyne

‘REFUGEES WELCOME’ THE OTHER SIDE OF PROTESTS

This report was published in the January 28 2023 edition of the Irish Times. The author is Patrick Freyne

Community groups are stepping up their opposition to those demonstrating about asylum seekers being housed in their areas

When far-right protests against asylum seekers housed in the former ESB building started in Dublin’s East Wall, Molly Hennessy wanted to do something. So she went down on her own with a cardboard sign that said, “Refugees Welcome”.

She says some of the protesters there on November 21st, 2022, were chanting “Refugees out” and “Ireland is full”. A man started shouting at her, she says. “He said he was going to follow me and burn my house down. And I was like, ‘okay, that’s mad, seeing as you’re here saying, “protect our women and children”.’ He was up in my face. I’m not even going to say some of the things he was saying about the people …I was crying walking away.”

It turned out a lot of local people were as upset by the protests as Hennessy and were contacting with one another. Soon East Wall Here for All was born. It’s one of a number of groups springing up across the city – Ballymun for All, Clondalkin for All, Tallaght for All, Drimnagh for All – that seek to show solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees. The groundwork was partly laid in the local Starbucks, where I meet some volunteers. “This place is to us what Liberty Hall was to James Connolly,” laughs Roxanna Nic Liam. “My family all live here and I work in a cafe in here. I saw the protests and I was mortified. I texted people in the area I knew and a few of us met up here in these very seats.”

“I was really shocked,” says her neighbour Paddy O’Dea. “I thought, ‘is this where I live now?’ I’ve a two-year-old and seeing parents at the protests with kids, I was like, ‘are these the views that are going to be passed on to my little man’?”

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Rishi Sunak’s Westminster Parliament Blocks Scottish Parliament Transgender Law Reform – British Labour Leader Keir Starmer Surrenders to the Union-Jack Far-Right

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Rishi Sunak’s governing Tories at Westminster have blocked a minor administrative human rights reform adopted by the Scottish Parliament which protects the rights of a very small minority, transgender people. It is an easy-peasy issue for all people on the liberal/social-democratic spectrum in Ireland – ranging from the entire left into significant sectors of the big right wing parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

In Scotland a similar liberal/social-democratic spectrum includes the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), the SNP’s government coalition partner the Greens, and the Scottish Labour Party.
The Scottish Parliament voted for this minor reform – which is less favourable to transgender people than the existing law in the 26 county bit of Ireland – by 86 votes to 39. This huge majority followed a very long drawn-out debate.

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Chaos in the United States of America Congress – We Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

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2023 international news coverage began with banana republic scenes from Washington DC, capital city of the United States of America. Establishment Irish media outlets usually look for an excuse to tug the forelock in the direction of prominent North American politicians. Irish broadcaster RTÉ and newspapers such as the Irish Times were presented with a perfect opportunity to roll out the sleeveen carpet – the new Republican Congress Boss is called Kevin McCarthy. For now, the paddywhackery shamrock wavers in Dublin have decided that the Kevin Mccarthy card may not be an attractive PR option.

The “Irish News” of Belfast failed to restrain the natural instincts of Ireland’s forelock-tuggers :

Mr McCarthy has highlighted his Irish roots previously on St Patrick’s Days. In 2015, during the Obama administration, he shared an Irish blessing his father used to recite. In a 2021 St Patrick’s Day message, McCarthy reflected: “My great-grandfather came to America from Ireland back in the 1800s.”

Irish News January 7 2023
Marjorie Taylor Greene is a far-right member of the USA Congress

A North American correspondent, John Reimann, reviews the dark side of Washington DC politics.

Republicans step back from abyss…. for now

Source oaklandsocialist on

Representative Mike Rogers (R-Ala) is restrained from assaulting Matt Gaetz. Chaos ruled the day. That chaos will return in even greater form.

The Republicans stared into the abyss and stepped back…. for now. They watched Matt Gaetz apparently renege on a deal. They watched fellow Representative Mike Rogers (R, Alabama) have to be restrained from assaulting Gaetz. They watched vote after vote with no end in sight. They watched the Democrats thoroughly enjoying themselves. And they convinced Gaetz “not now. Not this time.” Unspoken (amongst themselves) was, “we’ll save the rest for later.”

Republican Party fragmentation
And just as night follows day, “later” will certainly come. Consider what former Republican bomb-thrower Newt Gingrich (of all people) said about Gaetz: “He’s essentially bringing ‘Lord of the Flies’ to the House of Representatives” As far as the Freedom Caucus rebels in general, Gingrich said they’re not interested in “anything that takes longer than waiting for their cappuccino.” The same could be said about those people’s supporters.

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“Wallace’s sympathy for Iranian regime strips bare his faux radicalism” Critique of speech delivered by an Irish Member of the European Parliament, Mick Wallace (Ireland South) – Justine McCarthy, Irish Times, December 9 2022

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Two Irish MEP’s Mick Wallace (Ireland South) and Clare Daly (Dublin) have created a serious problem for themselves, the left in Ireland, and the left abroad. They analyse international conflicts using a politically poisonous method.

This politically poisonous method stalks the mainstream radical left and established anti-war organisations. That poison has a name : Campism. Justine McCarthy accurately observes that the Ireland South MEP is using “victim blaming… the lowest form of defence”. Many readers have not heard the term campism, and do not know what it means. Other readers do know what it means, but do not want us to learn anything more – because they know they use a less obvious version of the same poison and see nothing wrong with this chosen political method. Mick Wallace has given us a chemically pure example of this political poison by denouncing the feminist inspired uprising in Iran. Other practicioners on the left prey on ignorance and prejudice by – for example – refusing to engage in active solidarity with Ukraine – the victim of a violent imperialist, ethnic cleansing, and genocidal Russian invasion.

Pierre Rousset wrote an extensive article on this subject in October 2014. It is recommended reading today.

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Changing of the Guard 💂‍♀️ in London’s 10 Downing Street – British Prime Ministers 2022

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Brilliant Satirists are superb political analysts – getting the message across, injecting lethal poison into the heart of a terminally ill body. Examples :

Jeremy Hunt, current finance minister (chancellor) in Britain, brings misery to the masses https://www.belltoons.co.uk/hotoffpress
Rishi Sunak , the latest British Prime Minister, married a billionaire, Akshata Murthy. https://www.belltoons.co.uk/hotoffpress
The story is true – Liz Truss, British PM for 50 days, is guaranteed £115,000 a year for life.
The tweet is a humorous fake – John Truss, father of former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, is a socialist
A prediction of doom https://www.belltoons.co.uk/hotoffpress
Rishi Sunak, Leader of the Pack
Brexit Britain – the view from the other side of the Irish Sea – Martyn Turner, The Irish Times

Solutions? Smashing Brexit would be an excellent start!

Double Standards Applied to Irish Women’s Soccer Team : Jack Charlton 1 Vera Pauw 0 – Oh Ah Up the Mná

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Irish Women’s Soccer Team Celebrate World Cup Qualification, October 11 2012

A gaggle of West-Brit politicians have denounced Irish Women’s Soccer Team Celebrations. Wolfe Tones songwriter Brian Warfield dismisses the reactionary chorus as “cranks and unionists or people who side with them”. Warfield is dead right.

Song Composer Derek Warfield Declares “Don’t tell that you can’t sing Celtic Symphony but you can sing God Save the King”

Jack Charlton was the best international soccer manager who ever worked for the Republic of Ireland – he encouraged his players to sing Irish rebel songs. Former kit-minder Charlie O’Leary recalls :

Sean South of Garryowen was his favourite.
It got to the stage where it had to be played. It’s a rabble rousing song full of life, if you forget about the words; it was lovely.

Charlie O’Leary, kit-minder for Jack Charlton’s Boys in Green https://www.balls.ie/football/jack-charlton-rebel-songs-350401-350401

“I had two tapes with me. One tape was all Luke Kelly songs and your man Moore [Christy Moore]. Going to Lansdowne, I’d come to around Haddington Road, and I’d stop that tape and I’d put on the other tape – Seán South of Garryowen. Just as we’d be arriving in the ground, we’d be at the crescendo of Seán South of Garryowen. So the lads would be really worked up by that time. They’d be singing at the top of their voices.”

Irish Times December 15 2014

In his book on the Charlton brothers and their relationship, Leo McKinstry recorded how there was hell to pay when news of the Republic of Ireland team playlist reached the English tabloids.

Teddy Taylor, the comically Eurosceptic right-wing Conservative MP from Glasgow, fulminated in public that Jack should be ashamed of himself for belting out such a ballad.

The FAI weren’t inclined to play up the fact that the Irish team used to sing songs celebrating the IRA’s 1950s Border campaign.

https://www.balls.ie/football/jack-charlton-rebel-songs-350401-350401

Jack Charlton 1 Vera Pauw 0

Public figures must stop bullying the Irish female soccer players. Manager Vera Pauw has a chance to follow in the footsteps of Jack Charlton.

Pauw’s game management strategy is a carbon copy of the Jack Charlton method “Yeah, of course,” Pauw says. “We need to develop further. We’ve got five clean sheets in a row. We’ve got four goals against, and that’s our strength. Because we always create chances, so we always score in a game. As long as you don’t get goals against and you score in a game you win, right?”

Charlton was a brilliant motivator, an extremely empathetic manager. He backed his players – even when they misbehaved – and bought into the Irish rebel ballad culture, our anti-imperialist culture, and sense of fun. After his team was eliminated from the Euro 88 tournament in Germany Charlton expected a barrage of criticism in Ireland. We did not win. Instead the manager and his team were greeted by hundreds of thousands of fans who did not give a toss about losing Euro 88 – we got to a major tournament for the first ever, and we beat England 1-0. The miner’s son from Ashington in the north of England, an unorthodox man of the left and the workers’ movement, understood this very profoundly.

Jack Charlton – “Proud to be Irish” – Dublin Airport after Euro 88 in Germany

Pauw failed to back her players – and appears to have no understanding of Ireland’s proud tradition of cultural resistance. She made a public statement which must immediately be withdrawn :

Pauw insisted that the release of the footage on social media by one of the squad was not the core issue, adding the player “was devastated and crying in her room”.

“I don’t want to hide behind that because it she hadn’t put it on social media and I had been notified about it and the significance, then I would have addressed it immediately.

“I’ve also told her that putting it on social media is not the biggest thing.

“The biggest thing is that it has happened. It doesn’t matter if you are in private room or a dressing room or if you are outside.”

European Soccer bosses in UEFA are threatening disciplinary sanctions against the Girls in Green. https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/63242412

Football Association of Ireland (FAI) blazers, assorted cranks and a talented soccer manager are profoundly wrong. Let’s hope Vera Pauw reflects on the successful methods of Jack Charlton, the miner’s son from Ashington who loved Irish rebel songs.

Jack Charlton, The Best Republic of Ireland Soccer Manager

John Meehan October 13 2022

An interview with song composer Derek Warfield :


Irish team being ‘persecuted and bullied’ for singing ‘ooh ah up the ‘Ra’, songwriter says

Article Source https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/2022/10/12/irish-team-being-persecuted-and-bullied-for-singing-ooh-ah-up-the-ra-songwriter-says/

Wolfe Tones songwriter Brian Warfield has accused those who criticise his song Celtic Symphony of being “cranks and unionists or people who side with them” amid controversy over the Irish women’s football team singing along to it.

Warfield wrote the song, which includes the refrain ‘ooh, aah up the ‘Ra’, in 1987 for the centenary of Celtic Football Club, which occurred a year later.

He claims the line was taken from graffiti he saw on a wall in Glasgow around that time, which read ‘we’re magic, up the Celts, ooh, aah up the Ra’. He said he was not necessarily referring to the Provisional IRA in the lyrics.

No excuses

Celtic Symphony was playing in the dressing room while the Irish team celebrated qualifying for the World Cup after winning at Hampden Park on Tuesday night. Players were filmed singing ‘ooh, aah up the Ra’ and a clip was posted on social media.

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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?

End All Immigration Control – a Tale of Ireland and Turkey

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A correspondent, the Great Enabler, writes below about a recent Dublin government decision to stop visa-free travel to Ireland.

It is an excellent thoughtful and passionate post. I note that the main opposition party in Ireland, Sinn Féin, is “not opposed” to the Irish government decision.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has said it is not opposed to the Government move to tighten visa requirements for some refugees coming to Ireland.

“Health spokesperson David Cullinane said that the Government should have prepared better for the point when accommodation was tight.

He said the way to avoid such situations is through proper planning and by listening to organisations like the Irish Refugee Council. “. (RTÉ News)

John Meehan, July 23 2022

Immigration Control

Recently I read two news pieces in the Irish media on international travel: One was about the Irish government’s decision to stop visa-free travel to Ireland for refugees already settled in other EU states; the other one was a piece on how the Irish passport ranks very high on the list of “most powerful passports” – most powerful in terms of the freedom of movement it gives to its holders.

The plane I am travelling on is full of Irish people. Either by chit chat or eves dropping, one gathers very quickly that many have places in Turkey, summer homes. These would be very mostly homes, not luxuries villas. Others are holiday makers, excited about sea and sun. I think that’s absolutely great. People deserve holidays, people should see other countries. The powerful Irish passport is a great enabler. It takes 3-clicks and €15 to get your Turkish entry visa online. It may even be removed now.

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