Monday, August 30, 2010

Save the banks but lose a generation - Why Fianna Fail's approach wont work!

At the ‘Reclaim the City’ rally in Dublin Cllr. Dessie Ellis challenged the idea that there is no alternative to the current economic mis-strategy. Dessie's speech goes to the heart of the crisis and the needed response. Are we trying to save and rebuild Irish society and an economy to support it or do we just save the economy while Irish society is hollowed out.

A few days ago, organised by the Right to Work Campaign, Sinn Féin Councillor Dessie Ellis said Fianna Fáil cannot claim any economic competence when they are complacently presiding over increasing unemployment.

Councillor Ellis said the biggest lie from the Coalition Government is that there is no alternative to the savage cutbacks and mass unemployment.

Dessie said: “Fianna Fáil cannot claim any economic competence when they are complacently presiding over increasing unemployment. The government is determined to slash public services and put even more people on the dole. Unemployment is not a price worth paying for a negligent Government – it destroys lives and leaves permanent scars on our communities. What this Government fails to accept is that behind every statistic is a personal tragedy.

“Current policy seems to consist of attacking those on low wages and social welfare. This is not just a short sighted policy, it is an anti social one. We are told we need to tighten our belts, cut back, have a lower standard of living while the government bends over backwards to bail out bankers and big business.

"Indeed the greatest contribution of some of our own native entrepreneurs was to piggyback on the genuine growth in the economy by charging us exorbitant amounts for everything from mortgages to rents to pints of lager and paninis while being careful at the same time to ensure that they paid as little tax or wages as possible.

“And these are the patriots whose bacon the so-called ‘Republican Party’ is proposing to save by imposing a massive drop in living standards on the decent people of this country, whose only crime was to work when there was work and suffer the indignity of unemployment when the work was gone.

“However the biggest lie in all of this is that there is no alternative to the cutbacks and the mass unemployment. There is an alternative, SF’s proposals on tackling youth unemployment costed at €1.316 billion would create at least 50,000 jobs.

“Now 1.3 billion might sound like a lot of money but if we compare that to the 25 billion that is being pumped into Anglo, the private piggy bank of some of the most corrupt figures of this State, we can clearly see where the Government’s priorities lie. If the same amount was diverted into Sinn Féin’s job creation package, our proposals could support nearly 1 million jobs.

“In one month, 2938 young people under 25 signed on – the equivalent of nearly 100 people a day. This figure is further dwarfed by the thousands of young people who emigrated from Ireland because this Government are only able to secure jobs for their political and banking cronies.

“We need to make employment a reality for people outside the golden circle.”

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thank God almighty free at last.

On 28th of August 1963 - Martin Luther King gave his famous speech demanding that the opportunity and rights promised by the American Republic's founding fathers be extended to all its citizens irregardless. They had made a promise to Americans about what that Republic would mean and King intended to see it fulfilled.

One of the great speeches of history. At 17:28 mins long it is without doubt worth watching every minute.

Martin Luther King

Friday, August 27, 2010

Welcome Ma'am. Hope you'll take the time to apologise.

Welcome Ma'am your
subjects await
Considering the southern part of Ireland is likely to have a visit soon from Elizabeth Windsor then its time to have another quick look at the Windsors and their illustrious history.

If Elizabeth lands in Dublin then it wont be the first time she has been to Ireland. The Irish Times and other southern media jobbers should keep that in mind. Its nothing new thats she visits Ireland cause well she has been here many times already.

The Times, and others, will ram home the message that anyone who is not over the moon about her visit is against peace and reconcilliation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The English royal family is an anachronism. Its illegal to even call for their abolition and its illegal to marry a papist and keep the job. Great example eh!

There are many valid reasons to oppose her visit - the institutionalised sectarianism, the claim to sovereignty to part of our country, her role as commander in chief of an army that brutalised so many communities etc.

None of this will influence the Irish Times or the other excitable types in south Ireland. They'll fawn and preen and lose all sense of dignity as they try to impress upon us that they are not embarassing themselves but instead are broad minded progressives.

The thing is she is going to come to the south. Its going to happen. I dont like it but she has visited other parts of the country and she'll end up on a visit to Dublin as well.

Whats really going to turn the stomach is how so many in the south will lose all sense of dignity and self-respect and then tell everyone else that they are being broadminded and progressive. Thats not reconcillation or building a new relationships. Nobody is working harder to build new relationships than Republicans. The Irish Times should bear that in mind. If they want to welcome Elizabeth Windsor prematurely thats their business but they should not lose the run of themselves and start recruiting again for the British army again - their most recent relationship building exercise.

A few years back Peter Berresford Ellis explored the origins of the fake House of ‘Windsor’ and highlighted some of the more questionable links between the British royals on the Irish Democrat and their German family counterparts. They are quite a family to say the least:

NOW WE are heading for the jubilee of the accession to the throne of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, ‘Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth’. And there’s not a protocol cloud in the sky.

I’m told that the departure from the cares of this world of the Queen Mother came as somewhat opportune for the royal protocol watchers. Any later departure might have resulted in the cancellation of the jubilee celebrations. It was rather like the relief that was expressed when old Queen Mary died in 1953 at an appropriate time for the mourning to have finished in order to allow the coronation celebrations to take place in June. Tricky stuff, these royal protocols.

Perhaps I should not mention my political views on the subject of that family as the Treason Felony Act of 1848 is still in force in the United Kingdom. This means that if anyone advocates the abolition of the monarchy, even by peaceful means, they can wind up being imprisoned for life.

Last October, in the House of Lords no less, Lord Greaves asked Lord Rooker, minister of state at the Home Office, whether the government planned to repeal that outmoded piece of legislation and was told: “We have no plans at present to repeal the Act”.

Kevin McNamara MP tried to introduce a bill last year in the House of Commons, which sought to amend section three making it no longer a criminal offence to advocate the abolition of the monarchy by peaceful means. He failed. And when The Guardian newspaper tried to get a judgement on the matter in the High Court they were told that Britain still maintains the right of punishing people with life imprisonment for advocating a republic, whether in writing, broadcasting or through other means.

People in these islands are generally confused about this family who so affects all our lives. Most people even believe that the current royals are direct descendants of every monarch that has sat on the throne of England. It’s interesting that the ‘English monarchy’ has rarely been English but it is amazing how jingoistic the English are about these economic-immigrants that reign over them.

The fact is that the current royal family is the product of a series of political decisions rather than being ordained to its position by natural descent. No, I won’t mention Willem van Oranje, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg, Stadholder of the United Provinces, who became William III and caused Ireland so much grief.

In 1714 the English government invited Georg von Braunschweig-Länberg to be King of Great Britain and Ireland. Georg was Duke and Elector of Hanover. He was made George I because he was a Protestant -— the idea being to prevent a Catholic coming to the throne even if they had a better successional claim.

Georg’s mother was Sophia Wittelsbach, and her mother, in turn, was Elizabeth, daughter of James I, who had married Friedrich V, King of Bohemia. Thus royal watchers could claim a distant female link to the Stuart dynasty.

The von Braunschweig-Länberg family settled in and to help the natives — because von Braunschweig-Länberg is a wee bit difficult to pronounce —- they became the Hanoverian dynasty. However, Georg spent most of his time in Hanover where he died in 1727. He never learnt English and his cabinet had to discuss matters with him in French.

George II had been born in Hanover but, aged 17, he learnt English, and sometimes translated for his family. George III was the first of the Hanoverians to actually be born in England but he suffered periods of royal insanity and the then undiagnosed disease of prophyria.

None of the first three Hanoverian kings bothered to visit Scotland, Wales or Ireland. The dynasty also maintained its German cultural background. From 1714 through to 1901 the kings always married to a German spouse and ensured that every ‘English’ king had a German born mother and a German-speaking father. German was the natural language of the court. When Victoria came to the throne, while she spoke English, German was her language of preference. She was, of course, mother to an Empress of Germany, grandmother to the Kaiser Wilhelm, mother of the Grand Duchess of Hesse and to the countess von Battenberg —- matriarch to a regiment of European kings, queens and other royals.

The dynasty of von Braunschweig-Länberg remained until Victoria married a German cousin. His name Albrecht von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha.

Victoria, unlike Elizabeth II, was traditional enough to adopt the name of her husband. Thus in 1840 Victoria became the head of the new dynasty of Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha.

In 1914 George Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha (George V) found himself declaring war on his first cousin Wilhelm Hohenzollern (Kaiser Wilhelm) much to the distress of his consort Mary von Teck. Some might remember old Queen Mary who died in 1953 who was not allowed to speak in public due to her rather awkward German English.

The first sacrifice of the family was Prince Louis von Battenberg, a cousin, married to Victoria von Hesse und Rhine. He had to resign his position as first lord of the Admiralty in October, 1914. One couldn’t have a German in charge of the English Navy fighting the Germans could one?

Prince Louis also felt it expedient to change his name to ‘Mountbatten’ in 1917, when English war casualties were mounting and feelings were running high against those who a younger and more radical Lloyd-George had once denounced as ‘princes —- no better than German half-breeds!’

George Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha thought his cousin had found a great answer to the problem that had arisen. The natives had become confused at being told it was their patriotic duty to fight for one branch of a German family against another branch of a German family. The problem was compounded by the fact that Londoners and citizens in the Home Counties were being bombed by a German aircraft bearing the name of their royal family —- the Gotha!

A brilliant idea -— the Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha family would become the Windsor family.

Cousin Willie in Berlin (the German kaiser) thought it a bit of a laugh. He made one of his rare jokes telling his staff that he wanted to go to the theatre to see a performance of The Merry Wives of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. His grandmother might not have been amused.

The newly invented Windsor family managed to survive the family fracas of 1914-18. But there were continuing problems resulting from the rise of Adolf Hitler. Members of the family were joining the Nazi Party. Some even joined the SS.

A cousin — Philip von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg —- whose parents had tried to pass as Greeks in order to sit on the Greek throne but had been kicked out in 1922 —- came to the UK in 1937.

This could have been a recipe for disaster. Philip had been educated in Germany near Lake Konstanz; a place called Schloss Salem, founded by Prince Max von Baden and Kurt Hahn. It was based on the Nazi’s educational philosophy. Hahn initially supported the Nazis until it was discovered he had some Jewish ancestry whereupon he left for Scotland.

Philip’s sister had married a cousin, Prince Christoph of Hesse. Prince Christoph had joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and by 1935 was a standartenführer (colonel) of the SS on the personal staff of Heinrich Himmler and chief of the forschungsamt (directorate of scientific research) —- in reality a special intelligence operation using new electronic intelligence gathering methods.

Their son was named Karl Adolf after Hitler and Philip afterwards took a keen educational interest in his nephew.

Perhaps the family was spared some embarrassment when the Prince of Hesse was killed on active service in 1943. His sister was killed in an Allied bombing raid.

Another of Philip’s sisters Cecilia was married to Georg Donatus, Grand Duke of Hesse-by-Rhine, also a great-grandson of Queen Victoria. They died when the Luftwaffe Junker aircraft, personally supplied by Herman Göring to allow them to attend Georg’s brother’s wedding, crashed.

Another relative of Philip was the Prussian Prince Bernhard von Lippe who joined the Nazis while studying at the University of Berlin in 1934 and worked openly in the motorised SS.

According to Newsweek (April 5, 1976) it was known that Prince Bernhard was a member of a special SS intelligence unit in IG Farben and this had originally been pointed out in testimony at the Nuremberg trials.

Bernhard resigned from the SS, in 1937, when he married the future Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. Adolf Hitler forwarded a congratulatory message though Bernhard, who became a naturalised Dutchman

Philip and Bernhard remained not just distant relatives but close friends and in October, 1961, founded the World Wildlife Fund. Prince Philip rather ruined his image more recently when, doubtless filled with nostalgia for his days at Schloss Salem, he told a journalist that he hoped to be ‘reincarnated as a deadly virus’ to solve ‘population problems’ in the world.

Prince Bernhard was forced from public office in 1971, of course, not for his politics but over the financial mis-dealings known as the Lockheed scandal.

At the age of sixteen, in November, 1937, Philip joined his former headmaster Kurt Hahn in Scotland where he had established a new school called Gordonstoun. Hahn was also advising the UK Foreign Office on German affairs and urging a policy of appeasement based on appeals to ‘centrist’ Nazis.

Things were upset when, in spite of the strong appeasement lobby among the English establishment, England and Germany went to war again. What’s more Hitler had developed a plan to invade England and replace George VI with his older brother Edward (who had abdicated in 1936). Edward was much more amenable to Adolf and his ideas. Philip, who had just joined the Royal Navy, was told to change his name to that of his uncle —- not von Battenburg but Mountbatten.

The royal family, all branches, kept in touch throughout the war. The ‘post-box’ seemed to be through Sweden where Mountbatten had a sister Louise who was crown princess of Sweden. Through this back channel all the German royals, in England and Germany, kept in close communication.

The family has been keen to depict this wartime collaboration between ‘enemies’ as merely family correspondence. Yet when Kronberg Castle fell to the Americans the royals were in panic. This was the home of Prince Philip’s sister Sophie and her SS husband, Prince Christoph. In June, 1945, George VI, despatched a former MI5 officer to Kronberg to ensure all the correspondence was gathered up and brought to the safety to Windsor Castle.

The intelligence man entrusted with the job was Sir Anthony Blunt, later rewarded as ‘Keeper of the King’s Paintings’. When he was arrested in 1979 and interrogated by MI5, having been revealed as a Soviet agent, Elizabeth II insisted that there should be no interrogation of Blunt about his secret trip to Kronberg.

The family was desperate to keep these documents secret. Clearly, they had not just been sending Christmas Cards to one another.

The royals weathered the storm. Even Edward (Duke of Windsor) was publicly exonerated in the 1950s in spite of the revelation by former SS Oberführer Walter Schellenberg, head of counter-intelligence, whose job was to help put Hitler’s plans for the Duke into operation. Prince Philip finally married Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and she became Queen Elizabeth II in 1952 —- the coronation was in 1953.

So why aren’t the Windsors called the Mountbattens —- let alone the von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksbergs?

Poor old Philip had to accept that his children would bear the name of his wife’s father and not his —- well, the Windsor name, that is, not Sachsen-Coburg Gotha. Philip had gone so far as to become a naturalised British subject as ‘Philip Mountbatten’ on February 28, 1947, but to no avail.

I suppose the royal names have been changed so much that it really doesn’t matter. But he was not even allowed to officially be called ‘Prince’ Philip until February 22, 1957. Whether they be German or English, Irish or Scots, Welsh or Manx or Cornish, I really can’t see why I should pay any deference to a family whose sole claim to assume their modern station in life is that their ancestors were better thieves and robbers than my ancestors.

Come to that, ancestors apart, the recent generations appear to have kept up family traditions. Roll on a true egalitarian social democracy and if you don’t hear further from me, you’ll know the 1848 Act is still taken pretty seriously in the UK.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Michael Collins versus Brian Lenihan

The legacy of Michael Collins is much argued over in sth Ireland. He became a totem pole and a lighning rod for political parties who used him to champion their positions while ignoring the great many divergences between his vision for Ireland (all of it) and the Ireland Fine Gael and Fianna Fail constructed.

Today is of course the anniversary that Michael Collins was killed in action at Béal na mBláth.  Brian Lenihan, the fiscal taskmasters right hand man, today gave a speech at that location.

As you can imagine there was much nonsense in the media about how this was the polar opposite of what Michael Collins stood for.
Well lets look at a speech from Michael Collins written the month he died.

We will see that the state that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail built was the polar opposite of what Michael Collins could have imagined. Brian Lenihan opined that if Collins had not died then maybe he would have formed a new party pre-empting FF. This is not as fanciful as it may seem. The vision Collins had for the country as laid out below was very different from the attitudes of the CnaG govt. which thought people starving in Ireland due to unemployment was a tolerable economic situation.

In a paper called the "Building up Ireland - Resources to be developed" Collins laid out a plan for Ireland that would have brought him into definite conflict with the men who would eventually set up Cumann na nGaedhael. Equally the socio-economic vision he had for the whole country is hugely at odds with the utopian hippy fantasy of deValera or the gombeenism of the Haughey-Ahern-Cowen years.

The uses of wealth are to provide good health, comfort, moderate luxury, and to give the freedom which comes from the possession of these things. Our object in building up the country economically must not be lost sight of. That object is not to be able to boast of enormous wealth or of a great volume of trade, for their own sake. It is not to see our countrycovered with smoking chimneys and factories. It is not to show a great national balance-sheet, nor to point to a people producing wealth with the self-obliteration of a hive of bees.
Brian Lenihan believes the uses of wealth is for bailing out banks and buddies.

If our national economy is put on a sound footing from the beginning it will, in the new Ireland, be possible for our people to provide themselves with the ordinary requirements of decent living. It will be possible for each to have sufficient food, a good home in which to live in fair comfort and contentment. We shall be able to give our children bodily and mental health; and our people will be able to secure themselves against the inevitable times of sickness and old age. That must be our object.
In today's Ireland we cannot assure contentment in any home. Negative equity and unemployment has seen to that. We cannot guarantee the health of children who die in the care of our health boards while our old fear Irish hospitals because it can kill rather than cure them.

What we must aim at is the building up of a sound economic life in which great discrepancies cannot occur. We must not have the destitution of poverty at one end, and at the other an excess of riches in the possession of a few individuals, beyond what they can spend with satisfaction and justification. Millionaires can spend their surplus wealth bestowing libraries broadcast upon the world. But who will say that the benefits accruing could compare with those arising from a condition of things in which the people themselves everywhere, in the city, town, and village, were prosperous enough to buy their own books and to put together their own local libraries in which they could take a personal interest and acquire knowledge in proportion to that interest?
 After the Cumann na nGaedhael there were actually more people in tenant housing. Both parties failed to provide the infrastructure of a modern state across the south. Today Fianna Fail is still failing but if it were Fine Gael their paucity of vision would mean it would be no different. Michael McDowell a man who worked with Fianna Fail and wants to rejoin Fine Gael believed that such inequality was the bedrock of prosperity.

The keynote to the economic revival must be development of Irish resources by Irish capital for the benefit of the Irish consumer in such a way that the people have steady work at just remuneration and their own share of control.Investors must be urged and encouraged to invest Irish capital in Irish concerns[...]We shall hope to see in Ireland industrial conciliation and arbitration taking the place of strikes, and the workers sharing in the ownership and management of businesses.
 On that charge alone both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have failed spectacularly. Now we develop Irish resources fot the benefit of soverign debt funds. Workers having a share in the ownership of businesses - instead we have a state where workers subsidise developers and the banks own businesses from golf courses to hotels to even selling tractors.

Taxation, where it hinders, must be adjusted, and must be imposed where the burden will fall lightest and can best be borne, and where it will encourage rather than discourage industry.
So much for Lenihan's last budget then.
We have now in Ireland, owing to the restrictions put upon emigration during the European war, a larger population of young men and women than we have had for a great many years. For their own sake and to maintain the strength of the nation room must and can be found for them.
Well room cant be made for them. This island is too small for all of us. Brian Lenihan today is pushing deflationary policies that are forcing people to emigrate.

The development of mines and minerals will be on national lines, and under national direction. This will prevent the monopoly by private individuals of what are purely national resources belonging to all the people of the nation. The profits from all these national enterprises – the working of mines, development of water-power, etc. – will belong to the nation for the advantage of the whole nation. But Irish men and women as private individuals must do their share to increase the prosperity of the country. Business cannot succeed without capital. Millions of Irish money are lying idle in banks. The deposits in Irish joint stock banks increased in the aggregate by £7,318,000 during the half-year ended December 31, 1921. At that date the total of deposits and cash balances in the Irish banks was £194,391,000, to which in addition there was a sum of almost £14,000,000 in the Post Office Savings Bank. If Irish money were invested in Irish industries, to assist existing ones, and to finance new enterprises, there would be an enormous development of Irish commerce. The Irish people have a large amount of capital invested abroad. With scope for our energies, with restoration of confidence, the inevitable tendency will be towards return of this capital to Ireland. It will then flow in its proper channel. It will be used for opening up new and promising fields in this country.
A telling passage. Under Fianna Fail billions of borrowed euros were invested to build houses in Bulgaria, London etc etc.  Cumann na nGaedhael set up an Agricultural Credit Corporation but never managed to set up an Industrial Credit Corporation [eventually becoming Bank of Scotland(Ireland) which last week pulled up sticks from the south].  One of the strange things about Ireland in the 30s-50s was the almost fatalistic belief that Ireland was destined to be always an agricultural country and that any attempt to industrialise was to try to reach above our station. Brian Lenihan's Fianna Fail thought that construction was the new farming. At least Collins had the vision to think otherwise. In that he again is the polar opposite of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

Finally Collins ndid not forgot one key point.

He believed that "A prosperous Ireland will mean a united Ireland. With equitable taxation and flourishing trade our North-East countrymen will need no persuasion to come in and share in the healthy economic life of the country."
How very un-Fine Gael of him.

Which begs the question how do Republicans see Collins today? Republican Ireland has never forgotten its patriot dead. It has always remembered the names of Mellows, Sands, Pearse, Farrell, Connolly, Hughes, Tone, Burns, Lynch and Moley and all the many others with pride.

How does Collins fit into Irish history today for Republicans?  Certainly he is not in the same vein as o'Higgins or DeValera. Is he friend, foe or like people note on facebook is the relationship complex?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

De-electrification - Seamus Sherlock takes a stand against ESB bureacracy.

Seamus Sherlock campaigns
against ESB
Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh and other party activists today lend their support to Seamus Sherlock who is being threatened with disconnection by the ESB despite making efforts to pay outstanding debts. Seamas chained himself to the railings of ESB headquarters in Dublin. [Seamus Sherlock is now carrying his campaign to Facebook - so give him some support there. I am sure it will mean a lot to him]

Seamus is unemployed and has a family to support. The total bill outstanding was €€2,261. Seamus borrowed more than 1,100 euro from family and friends to pay off half the debt in a lump sum. He then offered to use 50 euro a week from his 196 euro social welfare to cover the rest of the bill.

Instead the ESB wanted €150 euro a week even though Seamus only receives €196 a week. Then they came out and warned him they would cut him off and added an extra €97 to his bill for the warning.

About 900 people a month are having their electricity cut off by ESB. Bord Gáis is disconnecting another 120 a month. Over a thousand people a month being cut off.

Its going to get worse the Public Service Obligation is going up by about 5%, even more for small businesses, shortly. Then in December will we see the squeeze from the other end - will the dole be cut, other living allowances reduced thereby reducing further the ability of people to pay. Tie in the likely sustained increase in food prices and its clear how serious the situation is going to be for households.

The ESB made half a billion in profits last year. Nobody is asking for free electricity. Whats needed is for the ESB to work with people to manage the repayment of debts rather than steamrolling over them in a bureaucratic way.

Fianna Fail and the Greens have failed to guarantee clean drinking water in Galway, adequate flood defences across the country, failed to provide salted roads in winter and now to top it off we have sections of communities being blacked out.

And somehow out of that mess they'd have you believe we can establish a cutting edge knowledge economy.

Check out the video on the at the new An Phoblacht YouTube channel

Glorious leader gains recognition despite an ungrateful people

According to Newsweek magazine sth. Ireland is ruled by one of the World's great leaders. A man who has managed to win some serious respect in international circles.

Newsweek has, maybe for the craic, listed Brian Cowen as no. 5 in a list of 10 impressive world leaders.

Instead of calling him the Big Ignorant Fu$%er From Offaly he shall now be know as The Fiscal Taskmaster.  Brian and his "able Finance Minister have pushed through austerity packages drastic enough to win the admiration of the international community, raised taxes, and slashed some public salaries by more than 10 percent. But the Irish aren't showing much gratitude".

Could that be because our economy is on life support, our young emigrating and our old people being treated like second class citizens all so we can bail out the bould Brian's developer and banker friends.

If Newsweek likes Brian Cowen for his slash and burn, bail out the boys who gave FF money, approach then they will love Brian Lenihan - a finance minister who comes from the "We had to destroy the village in order to save it" school of finance.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Voices on Unity - Different Perspectives

Ogra are running a very interesting series of interviews and videos called Voices on Unity. It includes responses from varied political figures - Unionist and others to investigate their perspectives on national unity.

Some of the responses are exactly what you'd expect - a harumph and a kick up the backside to the fenian who asked it but others actually take the time to write a response, and rational ones at that.

Worth a look.

East Derry UUP MLA David McClarty takes the time to write a courteous response.

Cllr John Smyth of Antrim DUP would rather not have you as a neighbour.

Cllr. Andrew Lewis of the Lisburn DUP actually seems reasonable and approachable.

Ruairi McGinley Fine Gael Dublin councillor - The Obama of Ireland?

DUP's Adrian Watson is, shall we say, not receptive to even the friendliest approaches.

Samuel Cole of the DUP writes a friendly if some what out there rebuttal of the "Pope's green island" approach and touches briefly on the refusal of Vikings to speak Irish and how the Newry shopping run is the equivalent of economics migrants crossing the Rio Grande.

Finally there are some youtube interviews on Irish unity.

All in all some interesting material on show.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

People may have to starve! 86 years on the same old track.

'People may have to die in this country and may have to die through starvation.'
Cumann Na nGaedheal Minister for Industry and Commerce, Patrick McGilligan 1924

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
70 years ago.

A quote from an enjoyable post in the Dublin Opinion blog clearly showing how the southern state existed from an early day to protect the interests of a well heeled few who could peddle influence. How different, in mindset, is that McGilligan quote above to the words of Brian Lenihan snr. saying the underpopulated south could not support us all. How different to the deeds of Brian Lenihan jr. who has raised levies, taxes and cut services while bending backwards to protect the interests of failed developers and failed bankers.

The same bankers who are now relying on captial infusions taxed, levied and promised against ordinary Irish people. Which institutions are now the self same banks jacking up the interest rates on mortgage rates

A month or two ago  Sinn Fein spokesperson on Workers Rights Martin Ferris in a speech on the Social Welfare bill pointed up the  Government hypocrisy in how it treats people on social welfare and those who through property and financial speculation were largely responsible for the current economic mess.

Martin said:

“The current policy of attacking those on low wages and social welfare is not just a short sighted policy, it is an anti social one. It is also one that I suggest would not have gone down well with earlier Fianna Fáil cabinets who were attacked not for cutting social welfare payments and programmes but for increasing them. And they were attacked by the very same sort of people whose interests Fianna Fail now seems to have adopted as its priority.

“These were the people who in the 1930s were claiming that they couldn’t afford to take their money out of the London banks and stock exchange and invest it here because the tenement dwellers of Ireland would have no incentive to work for buttons if they were given outrageous luxuries like proper housing, schools, hospitals and so on.

“We are hearing the very same arguments now from people who are of the opinion that the only way to get the economy working again is to force people to work for a few hundred Euro a week and as part of that to reduce social welfare far below what it is now.

“In theory that may make sense but it overlooks a few important facts. Chief among them is that much of the growth during the Celtic Tiger was in highly skilled and well paid employment and of course a large proportion of that came from overseas investment in technology and other sectors. The economy did not grow on the basis of employing demoralised brow beaten poorly educated people on low wages, as IBEC and ISME and their cheerleaders in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would have us believe.

“Indeed the greatest contribution of some of our own native entrepreneurs was to piggyback on the genuine growth in the economy by charging us exorbitant amounts for everything from mortgages to rents to pints of lager and paninis. And being careful at the same time to ensure that they paid as little tax or wages as possible. And these are the patriots whose bacon that the so-called republican party is proposing to save by imposing a massive drop in living standards on the decent people of this country, whose only crime was to work when there was work and suffer the indignity of unemployment when the work was gone.”

I think he hit the nail on the head.  Cumann Na nGaedheal, Fianna Fail, Fine Fail, Fianna Gael. 86 years is enough of that lot.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Housing Campaigns

The construction of housing was one sector where the Govt. caused much wastage and squandered so much investment. Dont mind those people who say we the people got carried away with ourselves. Its the responsibility of the Govt. to manage the economy or not to. They choose not to.

Now its time to clean up the mess and try to salvage what we can. As we noted previously there is significant housing over supply in most Irish counties. Whats going to be done with all this housing? Is it going to be left rot or can something be done to put that housing stock to work on behalf of society. After all through NAMA we'll end up paying for most of that housing again (didnt we already pay for it once through the state's over generous subvention of developers via tax breaks)

Cork Sinn Féin has launched a Cork Housing Campaign. Its a major new policy document titled 'Lets End The Wait' and was presented to the media by the party's five Councillors, Jonathan O'Brien, Fiona Kerins, Henry Cremin, Thomas Gould & Chris O'Leary, at Cork City Hall.

There are now more than 8,000 families on the housing waiting list in Cork. Thats an increase of more than 1,000 in just two months.

The campaign will focus on several core issues:

•A charter for social tenants
•Help for those facing negative equity
•Clearing the waiting list
•Reforming the housing list
•Providing genuinely affordable housing
•Improving housing maintenance
•A new deal for private tenants

There'll be a series of meetings across Cork to discuss the policy with local communites in Cork. The first public meeting takes place in Togher Community Centre on September 16th at 7.30pm.

NAMA is about managing the decline in value of properties. But a property with no one likely to live in it has no value. These houses represent sources of capital but if nobody lives in them they are worthless.

Its time to put all this otherwise wasted capital to productive use.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shouting Stop - the return of emigration.

Over 5,000 people a month are now choosing to emigrate from Ireland every month. Just like in the 80s communities are being drained of their lifeblood and their futures threatened by emigration. The death of rural Ireland was a consistent theme for years. We all thought this era had ended with the advent of the Celtic Tiger but we didnt figure on Fianna Fail and developers gambling with the future of Irish communities and losing.

An example of the destructive return of emigration is the village of Gneeveguilla in County Kerry. Gneeveguilla is well known for its Athletics club which epitomised the spirit of Irish communities - a communal spirit, a volunteer ethos, a sense of local pride.

Another expression of that local spirit is naturally the local GAA club. Gneeveguilla is a small village and emigration can quickly make its mark. The BBC noted that the local GAA club is being particulary hard hit by emigration (and isn't it typical that we must rely on foreign media to bring such a story to our attention rather than having RTE report on it. State broadcaster? yeah right!)

Emigration has made such an impact that the local GAA chairman is worried about the team’s collapse because so many players are likely to have eimgrated in the near future.

The collapse of the Irish construction industry hit rural Ireland especially hard. As economist Ronan Lyons demonstrated construction of new housing was particularly feverish in the west. Voters in Kerry and elsewhere would do well to remember that the reason their sons and daughters are emigrating is because the Govt. singularly failed to build a sustainable economy. All the way up the west coast in Donegal they will face the exact same problem. While the govt. dallies over the Donegal By Election the rate of unemployment for males under 25 in Donegal is estimated at up to 75% making Donegal a youth unemployment blackspot.

The Economic and Social Research Institute estimated that 120,000 will have emigrated in 2010 and 2011 combined, if the current rate continues.

Additional proof of the scale was evident last week when Eurostat revealed figures showing that the south of Ireland had the highest net outflow of population in the EU.

Once again the prospect of Irish communities withering away is a possible future.

We have been here before. John Healy famously shouted stop about the looming death of his homebirth place Charlestown. He firmly pointed the finger at the failed policies of the Govt. which did so little to save small town Ireland.

43 years later we need another John Healy as history repeats itself. Ogra Shinn Fein are currently running a campaign to highlight the current level of Emigration in Ireland

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Visualising the Failures of the Govt's Construction policy

Economist Ronan Lyons has put together a nice picture which shows how directionless the Irish construction industry was, how purposeless so much of the economic activity of the Celtic Tiger and clueless the Irish Govt. So clueless that some counties already have 12 years of housing supply already in place while others have under a year.

Western Irish Counties like Donegal and Kerry are particularly over supplied. As Martin Ferris noted in his report on the future of Farming and Fishing in Western Ireland the over reliance on construction encouraged by the Govt. at the cost of other types of investment would result in increased emigration as that industry collapsed. Unfortunately there was no alternative in place to prevent renewed rural emigration.

Ronan's picture is here. How many year's supply of housing is there already built in your south Ireland county?

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Its the True spirit of Republicanism Roysh.

Only a few days ago we were wondering why in God's name would the Irish Times be a recruiting Sgt. for Afghanistan. Some redemption for the self styled paper of record today. Fintan o'Toole is amazed at the strange spectacle of a former PD talking about the idea of a Republic. Bear in mind that while Fintan might not be all that bad he is apparently not the flavour of the month at the Irish Times who find his left wing leanings at odds with their own agenda.
Fintan writes:
I WAS very disappointed to read Ross O'Carroll-Kelly in The Irish Times on Saturday. It's not that Ross hasn't been in flying form of late. It's just that I was hoping to confirm that the author had pulled a fine satiric stunt and persuaded Madam to move the column to the front page on Friday.
The idea of Michael McDowell addressing a private audience at the Kildare Street and University Club about "true republicanism" just had to have been dreamt up by Ross's father and his sidekick Hennessy. It has all the hilarious absurdity of their myopic south Dublin self-regard.
But alas, no. There was Ross on his usual Saturday pedestal. Michael really was thrilling the private diners with flirtatious intimations of his own patriotic duty to save the Republic

And isn't it so typical of the PDs and their ilk that plans to save the country are worked out at private dinners with no doubt champagne, stories about who pulled a mulligan on the 18th hole and how the country was too small for all of us.
Fintan correctly identifies what will be one of the central themes of the next 5 years - the idea of the Republic. Already there has been a ongoing debate in the Times about a new Irish Republic. A discussion which Gerry Adams has been part of. The idea of the Republic is pervasive through out the south's political vocabulary with everyone claiming a piece of the action - even Fine Gaelers and the PDs. Imagine how bad it will get once Fianna Fail go into opposition.
But Fintan spots the one weakness in Republican McDowell's plans:
Michael wouldn't recognise a republic if he shared a cell in Thornton Hall with it for 10 years.

And isnt Thornton hall Prison the place to look for PD/FF Republicanism. At €200k an acre of farmland for a prison that wont be open until about 2014 but still costs 125k a year. €3o million for a site worked €6 million. Shop around as Mary Harney used tell us.

Usefully o'Toole then examines what the essence of a Republic should be and tries to examine recent events against its benchmark.

"A republic is an entity in which reasoned dissent and open debate about public policy are highly valued."
 In contrast look at  how McDowell censored reports, crushed the Center for Public Inquiry.
"A republic is a system in which public service is undertaken with a certain humility."
Look at the excesses of his former leader Mary Harney and her circle of buddies in Fas who showed all the humility of Marie Antoinette.
But the final nail in the coffin of this dissident Republicans can be seen 'In 2004 – rather deliciously while serving as minister for equality – he told the Irish Catholic that "a dynamic liberal economy like ours demands flexibility and inequality in some respects to function". It was such inequality "which provides incentives".'
So much for the Republic of McDowell. Are Fine Gael daft enough to bring him back? They might as well get Sean Fitz. back into Anglo.

Working Class housing in 20th Century Ireland


The housing conditions of the 20th Century Irish working class were frequently abysmal.
Famously Dublin was a city of Georgian splendour with infamous slums tenaments.
Tracking the history of Irish labour, the conditions under which they lived and worked and tracking the history of class and class relationships in Ireland is the focus of the website.
The below is an enjoyable post taken from and is posted to highlight a site that may be of interest to readers who would like to explore the history of Irish Labour. There is a wide range of posts on Irish involvement in the Spanish civil war, the unemployment protests of the 1950s or the tax protests in the late 70s.
Fascinating website and an enjoyable read:

Below is an article by Ruth McManus. It’s from 2003 and was first published in International Labor and Working-Class History.

The title is ‘Blue Collars, “Red Forts” and Green Fields: Working Class Housing in Ireland in the Twentieth Century.’

Her book, Dublin 1910-1940: Shaping the City and Suburbs (Four Courts Press, 2002) is in the public library system, and is available for purchase from Four Courts here.

She says on her website that the article is available for free from the Cambridge Journals website, but it’s a dead link.
However, I’m going to assume that it’s ok to reproduce the article online for research purposes, so here it is below.
Have a read. It’s excellent
[PDF of McManus' article is here.]

* [Photo from 'Darkest Dublin' collection, RSAI]