Friday, October 30, 2009

Sinn Féin in the North demands answers and action on health cuts

Here is an article from this week's an Phoblacht addressing the issue of proposed cuts to the health service in the 6 counties.


DESPITE assurances from the North’s Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, that “efficiency savings” in the Department of Health would not impact on frontline services, he has approved proposals to cut hundreds of nursing positions, remove beds from hospitals and drastically reduce ambulance services.

There is growing anger among health and social care professionals, trade unions and the broader community as the cuts threaten to seriously erode the quality of care in the North’s healthcare system and attack the rights of health workers.

Trade unions are discussing plans to take industrial action against the cuts and Sinn Féin is urging everyone concerned about the cuts to join the public rally in support of the health service and workers in Belfast on Friday 6 November at City Hall.

The British Treasury in London has demanded that the Department of Health makes £700 million in cuts (so-called “efficiency savings”), over three years. The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) announced by the British Government is ostensibly aimed at reducing bureaucracy and reinvesting funds into frontline services – but in reality it is simply cutting public funding to the health service.

The North’s six health trusts are currently bringing forward proposals to the minister on how they plan to achieve their saving targets. The CSR set a 3% reduction target in the North’s health department and has led to the recommendation that almost 3,000 jobs be cut in the Belfast area alone. On top of the funding cuts, the trusts face a combined end-of-year deficit of £76 million.

Speaking to An Phoblacht this week, Sinn Féin MLA and member of the Assembly’s Health Committee Sue Ramsey said several crucial issues had been raised by the proposals made by the health trusts and the department, including the impact on the health of the community and the livelihood of staff employed by the trusts.

“These proposals will lead to a crisis in the North’s health service, which is already under strain,” Ramsey said.“We are also concerned about the lack of transparency and consultation in the process through which the proposals have been made and approved.

“It is time for a clear policy change. So-called efficiency savings are affecting frontline services and local people’s health provision. We can no longer check cuts to health services through the current framework. It is simply not working.”


The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, the largest trust in the Six Counties and employer of 22,000 people, has been directed to cut 9% of its spending, or £130 million, by 2011.

When the CSR’s drastic proposals for cuts provoked a public outcry in 2007, McGimpsey insisted the proposals were not policy and that frontline services would not suffer. However, the Belfast Trust has brought forward many of the exact same proposals, which have now been approved by the minister.

Some of the cuts proposed include:–
1) An estimated 925 administrative jobs, 450 social services positions and more than 722 nursing jobs are to go by 2011 under the proposals approved by the Health Minister.

2) Ambulance provision across the North may be cut by 70,000 hours.

3) 152 beds are to be cut at the City and Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast next month.

4) The Belfast Trust last month suspended the referral of patients to the private sector for operations, which had previously been used to shorten waiting lists. The trust paid for 7,000 private operations last year and commissioned another 4,000 this year before the suspension.

5) Mental health provision beds are also coming under pressure, with one of four wards for older people in Knockbracken Hospital in south Belfast being considered for closure.

Other actions that have been proposed include a greater reliance on a ‘skills mix’ within the medical profession – that is, relying on less-qualified healthcare workers to carry out the work of nurses and midwives to cut costs. The Belfast Trust additionally plans to ban staff overtime and stop all use of agency nurses.

There is also a push to have patients stay in hospital for the shortest time possible, including those who have undergone surgery. Women’s health professionals have expressed dismay at the Belfast Trust’s plans that new mothers be released from hospital just six to 12 hours after they give birth.


Commenting on the proposals, Sue Ramsey said the Belfast Trust’s ‘efficiency saving’ proposals were “unacceptable and unsustainable”.

“These proposals are supposed to free up resources to be reinvested in frontline services but you cannot get more frontline than the ambulance service, the targets of the cuts,” she said.

“Similarly, the backbone of the health service are its nurses – cutting more than 700 nursing positions would not only impact on the quality of care provided, it will place enormous pressure on the remaining nurses.”

The Sinn Féin MLA argued that these proposals essentially try to shift responsibility for medical care provision onto the already strained community sector to cut costs.“While the community sector plays a vital role in health and social care, medical care must be provided by fully-qualified medical professionals.

“And while these so-called efficiency savings are supposed to be reinvested into frontline services, there is no guarantee or mechanism to ensure this is the case.”Discussing the impact the cuts would have on health workers, Ramsey said the Belfast Trust’s plans to stop recruiting new staff, ban agency workers and overtime would impact on the most vulnerable and lowest-paid health workers.

“Clerical staff on agency or temporary contracts are already without maternity cover, holiday leave or pension entitlements,” she said. “I want to know how this strategy has been assessed against the trust’s legal duty to promote equality.”

Ramsey told An Phoblacht there is also anger among the Assembly’s Health Committee and trade unions due to the lack of transparency and consultation on cutback proposals before their approval by the Health Minister.

“I have submitted questions to the minister about the Belfast Health Trust. When did they first know about the proposed cuts to staff, facilities and services? Who else knew about these cuts? Why did they not bring these cuts to the attention of the committee or others before they began to impose them?”


The Sinn Féin MLA said there are “undoubtedly” real efficiency improvements that could be made in the health service, such as addressing high levels of bureaucracy, top-heavy management and outside consultancy fees.

Sinn Féin has called for the comprehensive Investing in Health strategy proposed by Bairbre de Brún when she was Health Minister to be implemented as a way to strengthen the health service and integrate it with other departments and social agencies, such as housing and education bodies for example.

“This strategy has the potential to save millions of pounds in the health budget by taking a holistic approach to preventative health care,” Ramsey explained.“All Government departments, agencies, social partners and community organisations must realise that to invest in health will transform our society and cut down on expenditure on treating preventable illnesses.

“Ultimately, these proposals are being driven by the British Government’s agenda of privatising and attacking the public health service and other public services,” Ramsey said.

“Sinn Féin proposed during the first session of the Assembly that we should have tax-varying powers so that we could raise taxes if needed for essential services; however, all the other parties opposed this.

“The scale of the crisis being unleashed on the health service demonstrates sharply the need for decision-making powers about the economy to be in the hands of locally elected and accountable politicians.”


  1. These are the types of battles that are coming. If we cannot prevent cuts then we should leave Stormont, or bring it down and make the brits implement any cuts and we should oppose them on the streets.

  2. Anon I agree with much of what you say. I do not support Sinn Féin in order to seethem implementing cuts for the british government. I'm sure SF will be accussed of grandstanding, a lack of economic reality, being unfit for govermnment, being afraid of the hard decisons etc. But I am a socialist and Sinn Féin as a socialist party must not implement large scale cuts dictated by london.

  3. i agree with first anon. the second last para is just dishonest. we campaigned on a *reduction* in tax in the north to the southern level - that's why we wanted tax varying powers. Anotherwords, we called for these cuts to be worse!

  4. My understanding is that we called for tax varying powers. That means we can vary them as required. That is to say up or down. We argued the need for irish people to have control over the irish economy. At the time it may well have been in order to cut taxes and attract investment. Now we need to be able to raise taxes in order to deal with the economic problems we face.

    regardless of this i repeat Sinn Féin ministers cannot be allowed to administer london cuts.

  5. no starry you are wrong. the party was fuzzy on this for a good few years but the policy eventually was agreed to harmonize corpo tax rates downwards to 17.5% - and that was an all-ireland rate. That was a reduction of 2.5% over those current at the time (and of 3.5% on today's rate). In the middle of the election even that was unilaterally (and unconstitutionally) ditched in the middle of the southern election for a policy based on extending the southern tax rate of 12.5% across the island. The earlier position was agreed in order to sell the party's pro-business credentials to northern big business who were looking for lower taxes.

  6. Anon I'm not saying SF did not argue to bring down taxes. The point is they wanted that power devolved. Which it isn't. The argument has always been that power over the economy should be devolved and not controlled from london. Once that power is devolved it wil make sense to harmonise with the south as much as possible.

  7. Did SF not agree to CSR and the RPA?

    Or is this opposition to further cuts that are going to have to be made post 2011?

    Good to see a call for tax varying powers etc at last, but what chance do we have of getting them?

    And, further, how can SF remain in the Executive if they have to oversee such cuts and have no alternative realistically as we have very few economic powers? Lets be clear, SF are in the executive while the RPA has been going ahead, and our health and social services are already being ripped apart.

  8. My attitude to implementation of full blown cuts from London has been made clear on this site many times. Also my position regarding the need for SF to seriously review its participation in Stormont has also been made clear.

    Sinn Féin is the only party in the postion to offer a real alternative on this Island and it is up to its members and supporters to ensure the all Ireland left wing agenda is the one the party follows

  9. Just to clarify. My comments were third and fifth. There is another anon out there.
    Starry, when you agreed with an all-Ireland 12.5% corpo tax rate what extra public sector cuts/privatisations would you have proposed in the north to finance them? Raising taxes in the north today - as you suggest - would kill off investment and cause further unemployment.
    This is the unavoidable dilemma for social reformism in the era of globalisation in a country like Ireland (capital dependent). There is no third way; it's full-scale socialist economics or a path of more cuts and privatisation. That's why social democracy has collapsed into conservatism everywhere. W.

  10. So you write off all alternatives except what you call full scale socialist economics. Well firstly what do you mean by this term? Secondly where has it succeeded over a prolonged period?

    Furhermore I never agreed to any 12.5% corpo tax. This was Gerry doing a solo run and he has been hammered for it since and I have personally heard him apologise for the blunder.

  11. If you think global investors will sit back and allow Ireland to introduce British social reformism of 1940s vintage then you're the one who's being unrealistic. Ireland doesn't even have the indigenous economic base that Britain did then and we're the most open economy in the world.
    The reason they can't spend their way out of this crisis like the UK, etc is that they can't (they're bound by the emu and the need to keep on the right side of the ecb who've just financed the bail-out). Labour are pushing this in opposition but will drop it like a hotcake in government - they can always blame FG and who's going to argue with them when they're comfortably in power.
    Study the histories of social democratic parties to see just how many times parties have entered govt with radical promises only to collapse when the market leaned on them. In fact, they do the same things e.g. they retain establishment figures to retain confidence and then backtrack gradually citing force majeure. So it should come as no surprise that ministers in the north are privatising all around them, that the party backed the bail-out of the banks or that Gerry felt the need for a solo run on reducing corporation tax. Again, who's going to argue with him if he got into govt?

  12. W,

    starry plough has hit the nail on the head. Plenty on the far left call for strikes here, more strikes there, general strike today, general strike tomorrow. Workers should sieze the factories, community groups should occuppy this building, don't pay management fees, don't pay bin tax etc etc.

    Where do they lead the people? Nowhere!

    what are the economic policies you wish to see implemented? Do you wish to see workers taking over their factories? Should the people take over big buissness and give no compensation? What are you actually proposing that will help make the lives of ordinary people better?

    Finally, where have your policies worked to help people?

  13. Yeah, I'm comment 7 anon, apologies! I wouldn't be in an agreement with what seems to be an rather rather ultraleft argument, and not what from the broader Republican community perhaps, of the other poster.

    I was just seeking clarification re: present and past policy, and would be agreement with your reply. I will concede that SF's ability to renounce its tax policy before election day in 2007 was opportunistic and a mistake, and that should be admitted and learnt from. Further, the crash of 2008, shows that our draw to milder contempary social democratic economic thinking needs examined.

    The contradictions of pushing forward the peace strategy are numerous, and can not be answered simply with re: participation in the Northern Executive. But, that this needs to be greater explained as to how soci-economic goals plan to be met, alongside Irish unity.


  14. I can't speak for the other 31 counties, but SF reps have tirelessly worked to help individuals and entire communities in Monaghan. Given the lack of any power in 26 counties, they're work has assisted many families in locality.

    The blanket gaurantee was ill conceived but the only policy presented to the Dáil for a vote. If anyone's been reading the long term shambolic nature of our government's overall response to this crisis of Capitalism (it just isn't a banking crisis alone), it's a fecking wonder they even came up with any sort of gaurantee. If memory serves me correctly, SF was calling for a nationalisation of banks before the crisis. Thank the whoey for small mercies that this policy wasn't implemented pre-crisis. Imo, given the nature of this crisis, a new state sponsored bank funded from the exchequer and with a remit to small business and personal lending is a better policy. All profits would be socialised while the transformative nature of the bank to social needs can begin to address ownership issues.

    To another anon. No SF isn't privitising everything around them. Get a grip.

  15. Anon of November 4, 2009 7:31 AM, I agree. Those who call for strikes every day all day and seizing buildings etc. etc. are not doing much for the ordinary people. They dont really think much about the ordinary people but only care about some theory or besting the other crowd in some micro grouping who only care that its their revolution and not the revolution of the trots in the 4th international/trots in the 3rd international (delete as required).

    I back 100% these strike by the ICTU and backing sinn fein. I dont hesitete for a minute to say that. We need to make our voices heard.

    But ICTU have real proposals. ICTU are really fightin for the people. So when you ask W bout those polices and what maybe a full socialist economy might be policy wise and where they are and what good they do for the people.

    I say what policies. where can i see their policies. tired of hearing people talking about calling for the most radical radical changes but not doing anything ever.

    only weakns the people who can defend workers and rebuild our society.


  16. i think the strikeing thing about politics is that no political formation has a compleately detailed polity position for how society should be governed not SF not FF FG lab swp communists etc what they have is broadly agreed principles that there membership assemble under. and when you think about it, it's not unreasonable.

    asking some one there policies is a retorical question no human being is capable of an thesis type answer. its designed to put people on the spot. its a debateing trick nothing more. don't put to much stock on it. yes parties have to have policies just like a general has to have a plan but we live in an evolving world, generals know the plans they draw up may not fit the situation when it comes are prepared to change it or trow it out, same with political parties and policies.

    on strike every day taking over factories etc. the state is essentialy robbing the poor to pay for the rich. as well as the state budget there is also council budgets coming, the poor are going to get slaughers. in the mean while politicians and media personalities are getting offended on behave of millionaires getting taxed extra, or suggestions at least. the situation is farsical. logic and reason is out the window. wouldn't dismiss that 'mad' stuff yet.


  17. tgmac said: No SF isn't privitising [sic] everything around them. Get a grip.

    Oh no? check this out...


  18. So s, fabianus and anon eile, to talk of strikes and real socialism doesn't deliver. It isn't practical... Maybe you should read this.

    "Let us be practical. We want something pr-r-ractical.

    Always the cry of hum-drum mediocrity, afraid to face the stern necessity for uncompromising action. That saying has done more yeoman service in the cause of oppression than all its avowed supporters.
    Yet, although it may seem a paradox to say so, there is *no party so incapable of achieving practical results as an orthodox political party*[note well]; and there is no party so certain of placing moderate reforms to its credit as an extreme - a revolutionary party.

    The possessing classes will and do laugh to scorn every scheme for the amelioration of the workers so long as those responsible for the initiation of the scheme admit as justifiable the "rights of property"; but when the public attention is directed towards questioning the justifiable nature of those "rights" in themselves, then the master class, alarmed for the safety of their booty, yield reform after reform - in order to prevent revolution.

    Moral - Don't be "practical" in politics. To be practical in that sense means that *you have schooled yourself to think along the lines, and in the grooves those who rob you would desire you to think* [note well].

    In any case it is time we got rid of all the cant about "politics" and *"constitutional agitation"* in general. For there is really no meaning whatever in those phrases.
    To effect its emancipation Labour must reorganise society on the basis of labour; this cannot be done while the forces of government are in the hands of the rich, therefore the governing power must be wrested from the hands of the rich peaceably if possible, forcibly if necessary.

    In the phraseology of the master class and its pressmen the trade unionist who is not a Socialist is more practical than he who is, and the worker who is neither one nor the other but can resign himself to the state of slavery in which he was born, is the most practical of all men.
    Revolution is never practical - until the hour of the Revolution strikes. Then it alone is practical, and all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers become the most futile and visionary of human imaginings.

    For that hour, let us work, think and hope; for that hour let us pawn our present ease in hopes of a glorious redemption; for that hour let us prepare the hosts of Labour with intelligence sufficient to laugh at the nostrums dubbed practical by our slave-lords, practical for the perpetuation of our slavery; for that supreme crisis of human history let us watch, like sentinels, with weapons ever ready, remembering always that there can be no dignity in Labour until Labour knows no master."

    James Connolly - Socialism Made Easy. I guess you'd call him an ultra-leftist too?

  19. No I'd call him many other things, but you seem to miss understand many republicans attitude to him.

    He wrote at a time of poverty in Ireland that few of us can imagine. This level of poverty no longer exists in the form it did.

    This is a problem many like you mr no name seem to ignore. Generally speaking the people of Ireland do not wish to see the massive disruption and chaos a revolution would bring. Most people have too much to loose to risk it on what they see as a fancy.

    It is for this reason the revolutionary left has failed over and over and over again. The people are just not interested!

    What republicaism needs to do is look at why it has so often failed. It needs to look at its history in an honest manner , it needs to view the failures of its past leaders in a realistic way and then attempt to move forward.

    You can quote Connolly all you like, but it doesn't change the fact he failed to achieve what he wanted. Neither have the generations of leaders that followed. What we need is a republicanism that speaks to people and has a relevance to them.

  20. NO NAME

    didn't say strikes don't deliver.

    no name 2

    if SF position's its self to what 'the people' want we may as well join FF FG and the DUP thats who the people are voting for. what we need to do is get the people to want what we want. a 32 socialist republic. thats the whole point of politics. people asemble convince the people what they want is right get a mandate and the world turns.

    if we approch it in a manner that the point is to 'win' then it changes the relationship between voter and party. if we only say what people want to hear then why are we assemdleing. the people are wrong. its ok to say that they elect greedy racist, subservient parties that are holding this country back. i disagree with the people thats why i joined the movement, if i thaught they were right then i'd of joined someone else. popular dosent mean right un popular wrong etc. armed struggle wasn't popular but it was right. racism is popular but its not right. its ok to disagree with the people or any one for that matter thats what the right to assembly free speach slielence etc are all about.

    iam rambleing. socialism is unpopular yes. its our job to make it popular. we've seen the collapse of capitalism. we can lie to the people and tell them that we'll get them back to there free credit life style and go through the whole process again or we can tell them the truth that that system is unsustainable. in leinster house no other political party is doing that. i think its very relivent information that the people need to hear. not telling them it we would be irelivent in all the noise telling them what they want to hear.

    i've no problem evaluting why we failed in the past, looking for new ways to explain an old message, its healty. but the goal is the goal. changeing, diluting the goal is a defeat pearsonaly.




  21. Anonymous Anonymous - You're becoming a broken record.

    Go ahead with your glorious revolution.

    You're only talking a game.

    Let's see yees walk the walk.

    There's a big difference between yees and Connolly. He was a man of action. He took steps which he thought might move the cause of all working people forward. Steps which many Marxists wouldn't have thought as pure.

    If you believe the material circumstances of the 21st century correspond to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then the time is ripe for your machinisations. Get out there commrade!

    And, yeah, still get grip. SF is not, as you said, privitising everything around them.

  22. Reading through this thread, I can't help but wonder where Sinn Féin was when it was Bairbre de Brún implementing health cuts, introducing PFI and shutting down hospitals.

  23. Connolly said:

    We who hold his (Wolfe Tone) principles believe that any movement which would successfully grapple with the problem of national freedom must draw its inspiration not from the mouldering records of the past, but from the glowing hopes of the living present, the vast possibilities of the mighty future."

    Who knoes what Connolly would have thought today but he wouldnt be mad on being quoted as if he were the bible in my opinion. As he said himself look to the present and the future.

    However we use Connolly we cant use him as a prophet in some religion.

    Finally i dont think anyone here would consdider calling Connolly an ultra-leftist an insult.

    I think most of the debate seems foccussed on why the left has not managed to beat the right. Connolly himself would have understood how some of us on the left contineu to look too much at the theory and not the practicalities.

    As he himself said before he died: "The socialists will never understand why I am here; they will all forget that I am an Irishman"

    Connolly was practical and he knew when there was a job to do it needed to be done whatever about the theory of it gettign results was the main thing.


  24. tgmac. so i'm sounding like a broken record at least that's consistent.
    You say times were objectively revolutionary then and not now - that doesn't stand up to real historical analysis. Things have never been easy - it was only really the threat of conscription that increased the popularity of the anti-Redmondites, the ICA were always much smaller than the non-socialist Irish Volunteers. Murphy didn't market his anti-labour papers to just rich people.
    What is consistent is that time and again since the 1890s those who wish to make peace with the system but retain the support of the working class have justified their reformism by arguing that things have moved on. The classic exemple being Eduard Bernstein who for ability and even policy stands head and shoulders above today's epigones.
    The truth is that it's never been easy to mobilise people against the system but it's essential to recognise that the system is fundamentally irreformable. That has been, and remains, the dividing line between reformists and revolutionaries like Connolly for well over a century now. The quote from Connolly demonstrates that people argued exactly as you do back in the 1910s and that revolutionary socialists had to fight hard to oppose such a course back then. Plus ca change, c'est la meme chose as Marx said.

  25. Ciaran Sinn Fein have opposed PFI's for a long time. The situation was PFI or no funding. What did you want to see?

    They are/were in a power sharing government that had to agree a programme for government. For a summary of the PFI position go to

    Below is a quote concerning it taken from the document.

    Sinn Féin has a policy which is opposed to PFI. Our primary opposition to PFI is that it involves the introduction of market forces into Public Sector provision (i.e. privatisation and liberalisation). Our concerns, however, range far beyond this ideological opposition.

  26. Starry, so SF opposes PFI while pushing PFI contracts through at an unprecedented rate? Like the school counselling services that just went through. What's the point in paper opposition if that's all it is? It's the same thing with PFI, the bank bailout, lowering corpo tax, closing schools. The theory is one thing but it doesn't survive first contact with reality.

    As for Connolly not wanting to be quoted as a prophet and him potentially supporting today's reformism. We know that he specifically criticised the way revolutionaries were emptied of content becoming only safe totems of themselves. He said, "Apostles of freedom are forever crucified while living and sanctified when dead". The term ultra-leftist has very specific connotations for marxists like Connolly and they're all negative - being a revolutionary is not ultra-leftist.

    The point is that Connolly is *not* being quoted out of context or that things are qualitatively different today. Connolly opposed all forms of reformism when he was alive - that's because it was a strong tendency back then just as it is today. When he argued against those who demanded 'practical' politics, it points to the fact that they considered his politics 'impractical'. Connolly was a revolutionary so he would always appear impractical to reformists.

    Those who wish to claim his mantle cannot collapse the man down to the events of the last month or two of his life but must deal with his activities for the previous 20 years. He was the polar opposite of the safe image Fianna Fail projected on him - a martyr for Ireland! He was a complex revolutionary socialist republican.

  27. An earlier post of mine has not been accepted.
    Starry - you speak as if promoting PFI was in the past. It is now so commonplace for SF Ministers to use PFI for every aspect of govt. Just look at the privatisation of schools and the infamous privatisation of counselling services in schools. Was it necessary to privatise counselling in order to maintain this service - it was being provided by the public sector before that so I don't think so. It represents SF thinking that public is bad, private is good.
    Your opposition to PFI is empty rhetoric.


    No comment of yours was not accepted. I run this site and sometinmes i have other thing sot do. Like protest attend meetings and have a family etc. So comments are not always posted immediately.

    Secondly, nobody in SF, least of all me thinks the current compusorary coalition is perfect. SF have gone into coalition with right wing parties in an attempt to help progress the situation in the North. This I think they have achieed in many ways and the North has move forward in my opinion. It has been moved forward out of teh war settting it was in to a place where I beleive real politics are more likely to develop.

    Many may say SF should just sit on teh outside and refuse to do anything it does not like. EG PFI. But where would that get us? I trust you read the document on the SF attitude to PFI mentioned earlier.

    I fully reject your idea that SF believes private is good and public is bad and i would refer you back to the document already mentioned and also the article in this weeks an phoblacht which taklks about SF refusal to allow the privatisation of water in the 6 counties, as well as many other things SF have done in relation to protecting public services.

    In realtion to Connolly you have your opinion and others have theirs. Sin é. Why not set up a site dedicated to promoting your version of his views.

    Finally, it is coming across to me that you have made your mind up on SF and are totally against it. If so this is not the site for you. As stated when I started this site it is for people to discuss SF in a positive and constructive manner.

    I also wrote on page 1


    It is not intended to be an avenue for people to simply attack current Sinn Féin policy, without putting forward a considered alternative. There are plenty of other places to do that and if you feel strongly on the matter then write your own blog.

    I would be grateful if you would begin to put forward some alaterantives that can be discussed rather than simply being negetive about the party.

  29. No-one is arguing over Connolly. Connolly did face a quatilatively different world for a start. The experience of the world post connolly is:
    1.One in which a socialist revolution occurred and finished (1917-24/53/89 (whoever is arguing), 2.monopoly capitalism was just beginning and now could be proclaimed post 1970s as monopoly finance capital
    3.the world had not experienced the great depression, fascism and 11 world war, or the triumph of social democracy in the west and development of consumerism, nevermind the triumph of many national liberation movements inspired by Ireland and Connolly.
    4. In regard to Ireland, while he may have forseen what happened to the Irish Revolution he did not experience it's consequences on counter-revolution and partition.

    Now, there is little point arguing over the particulars of Connolly. Connolly was never politically successful in his lifetime nor some sort of utopian purist. He threw his lot in with advanced nationalism, seeing the national and social as one, this is the thing that remains the case today, and the very one Sinn Fein, as one of a number of other organisations actually strives for in some form: the completion of the national revolution and social consequences and requirements of it.

    There is no point arguing among ourselves who is purer than thou, Connolly certainly did not do that.

    There is indeed merit to looking at substance of policy. But you are not going to win anyone to an alternative path by arguing they are not true etc to what you interpret as what is, you too need substantive alternative and means, and you to have to persuade, whether that be a different path by the party or the need for something else. However, I and others would strongly argue that Sinn Fein is far from exhausted itself as an engine for positive national and social change in Ireland as a whole.


  30. B, v. interesting comment...
    I don't think anyone is suggesting that the world is not qualitatively different to that of one hundred years ago. What is at question is whether it is sufficiently different to necessitate a collapse into what has always (both pre and post-Connolly) been known and condemned as reformism.
    All four points you make are accurate - save that I think the third should include the rise *and fall* of social democracy.
    If you did this then arguments 2 and 3 would tend to oppose the very possibility of re-enacting social reformism at this time.
    The party's recent pre-budget submission (in like fashion to all previous ones) continues to present the solution in terms of reformist tax and spend. Yet the reality is that such punitive tax levels as are being suggested would result in mass divestment.
    Those who might consider the impact of a 1% tax on non-agricultural capital should just consider the threats of divestment which have presented with the mention of a 0.25% or 0.1% 'Tobin' tax in the financial services sector in London. A 1% tax on capital would undermine virtually every business in Ireland by reducing the already perilously low rate of return on investment and would likely cause far more unemployment than stimulated through additional consumption.
    Capital simply will not accommodate such impudence - what else it is but opportunism to present a policy which no-one could ever take seriously in government (least of all the party's leadership). The price would be collapse of the economy - a risk that was deemed sufficient to legitimise support for the bank bailout.
    The object lesson of the last 30 years is that it is now impossible for any govt to implement the old-style social democracy (just study what happened to Mitterand in France in the early 1980s) - that is the meaning of neo-liberalist globalisation. Yet the contradiction is that at the same time it forces them to commit to ever more unsustainable underwriting for finance capital.
    In such circumstances, far from modern times contradicting Connolly's 'impractical' politics it actually reaffirms their necessity, IMO. (C)

  31. Anon (please give yourself a name) Have a listen to Joanne Spain talking in depth on the proposals and the logic behind them. It is in the article posted today on the site

  32. Labour,SF,SWP/PBP,SP,ISN,SD,CPI: Take note; the Working Class will speak very soon in the South. Conditions are ripe. Prepare and organise for occupations and Soviets. Do all you can to encourage. Which side will you really be on?