Thursday, September 30, 2010


This piece was sent into us by a Mr X. Is it a real internal document of just a piece of humour. You decide!

FF - The Republican Party – The commandments =============================================
Excerpts from the parties Green “cheque” book, the idealogical manual for all its volunteers and party activists. It seems that FF's radical interpretation of Republicanism is still as strong as ever.

"any gombeen or billionaire is just entitled as any other gombeen or billionaire to unfettered access to state funding and contracts, (here after known as Group B)".

“who here objects if we take power in this state, with a ballot box in this hand and an arm load of brown envelopes in the other”.

“Every Irish person, irregardless of their religion or station in life is entitled to die on our roads (which are the envy of Albania) or contract MRSA in our hospitals. (Group B excepted).”

“In order to increase the wealth of the nation, property will become communal in ownership. Everyone will have a share. For example, young couple buys house, couple of years later Bank takes house, and sells it to local Gombeen man who was bailed out by Nama. Everyone will have a piece at some stage.“

“Everyone no matter how small or insignificant, (publicans otherwise) has their part to pay.”

“If we cannot take ownership of this country at this moment and through our current actions then be confident that If our deed has not been sufficient to win ownership of Ireland, then our children will win it by a better deed, by more medical cards, more tar on the road and “sure wasn’t my old fellow a great friend of you auld fella”

“To break the connection between the Irish electorate and the ballot box, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of our party, to do what it likes. 3 times in 3 generations FF have risen up and tried to bankrupt the state. Standing on that fundamental right to rule and ruin in self-interest and again asserting it in in the face of the world’s politicians and economists. We propose that Blueshirt or Sticky or Shinner be replaced with the one title “ shure dem lot are just as bad”

FF - The Republican Party

The last term for this Govt?

Sinn Fein TDs set out the strategy for the coming Leinster house session

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ruin a gate and your nailed. Ruin an economy and you'r scot free.

Its plain wrong that a man will be indicted tomorrow, probably for criminal damages, for driving a cement truck into the gates of Leinster House for damages that will run to maybe a few thousand. Who has been prosecuted for driving a coach and four horses through financial regulation, through the banking system, through the whole economy?

No one yet and if it wan't for Sinn Fein pushing a banking fraud inquiry then maybe it might not even be an issue for investigation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Irish Workers more committed than ever.

Thats the finding of the latest ESRI report which states that " Our workers are more committed than ever; they are more willing to accept change and to take on more responsibility...". The broad study reviewed the Irish workplace in 2009 against that of "Celtic tiger" Ireland. Irish workers are stepping up to the plate  - taking on more responsibility for less pay.
Over half of the respondents to the survey, conducted between March and June 2009, noted that there had been workplace job losses in the preceding two years and workers were feeling more nervous and under pressure. One-third of employees said that their own job security had decreased compared to only 4 per cent in the previous 2003 survey.
In both the public and private sectors the impact of the recession, and the impact of the "manual devaluation", are evident. 21 per cent of employees reported a decline in hourly pay in the previous two years. Some 37 per cent of public sector workers reported a decline in pay, compared to only 16 per cent of those in the private sector. The burden of adjustment is being borne by ordinary folks who are losing job security and seeing reduced pay conditions.
Typically in all down-sizing organisations the work frequently remains but the no. of people to do it ends up falling. The result is increased burden on the remaining staff. 54 per cent of employees reported increased pressure compared to 34 per cent in 2003. 61 per cent reported an increase in responsibility. Yet the percentage of employees who would work harder to help the organisation to succeed increased from 81 per cent to 89 per cent.
There is a tendency among the more right wing commentariat, or the loony right which cheered on deregulation and excessive credit, to constantly ask for workers to give more, to do more and to accept less.
Lurking in the background to all that commentary was the idea that ordinary Irish people had fooled around and now the bill was due. We had lost the run of ourselves, wanted too much and lost competitiveness. The report has an answer to that hoary chestnut as well:
"This deterioration in competitiveness in recent years is primarily a result of the labour market pressures exerted by the growing bubble in the property market and the building sector of the economy. However, other inefficiencies, including a lack of competition in key areas of the economy, also contributed to the problem."
Consider that in NAMA tranches 1 and 2 that loans valued at €52 billion (pre-hair-cut) were given to 100 people and its clear how tight the inner circle was behind the boom. The self same boom which force the prices up. However as the boy from Pontchartrain says "We are where we are". I personally think it will be difficult to secure appropriate financial and legal redress against these people. It may be that we are forced to instead focus on how to create the anti-corruption framework, and appropriate regulatory controls to ensure that one interest group and one political party can never again co-operate for self profit while risking the future of the state they operate in.
The commentary in the press seems to have forgotten the role of the select, well connected, few. Instead looking at the easy option of blaming the feckless ordinary worker. Well as demonstrated in the ESRI report the ordinary Irish worker is anything but feckless and is more willing to work harder than ever.
It may be countered that well all well and good to blame the developers and Fianna Fail but we need solutions now not blame. And thats a perfectly valid comment because we do need solutions. People dont want finger pointing or retribution. First of all they want to be able to pay their bills like Seamus Sherlock or avoid emigration. But there does need to be a demonstration to the markets, the god like markets*, the interests of the Irish economy are not subservient to the interests of developers or other sectional interests.
As long as Fianna Fail are in power there is every chance that the foreign lenders will doubt the ability of that party to restructure the economy back onto a trajectory of growth and subsequently may question the long term ability of sth. Ireland to repay its debts.
Those commentators in awe of the market's wisdom should now start to focus on the fact that Fianna Fail itself, and its tendency towards sectional interest, may be a factor in why sovereign funds think we are likely to default (and consider that a few days ago the ECB wanted Ireland to activate the bail out fund to see how precariously close FF have now brought us - potentially days away from a default) .
Irish workers are clearly willing to put the head down. Its time that the Irish media took note and started to focus on two other possible reasons that Ireland's bond yields are going through the roof:
(1) Fianna Fail's slash and burn approach is ripping the heart out of the economy;
(2) Fianna Fail are so entrenched with sectional interests that the market must have doubts about whether their commitment to growing the economy is not at odds with their commitment to sectional interests which they have nursed for over a decade.

* which same markets are new nailing us at near to 7% interest rates. Despite RTE's spin about last weeks debt sale as successful selling debt at over 6% is as successful as buying a litre of milk for a €10. There'll be somebody to sell it to you but you still get taken for a ride.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The costs of pensions and the problem with servants

"Pretty soon, we’ll be having serious, completely un-self-conscious discussions in major magazines about the servant problem.". So wrote Paul Krugman as he discussed an article which highlighted how the richest percentile in America are feeling hard done by even though they make twice what their counterparts in 1980 did.

Krugman believes that today the American super rich have become coarsened by their super wealth, have lost even the sense they should be embarassed by thinking life is hard on them and only move in circles  "where complaining that you only have 9 or 10 times median family income is considered totally acceptable"

A small bit like Peter Sutherland then I guess

Mr Sutherland claimed that our costs - in the main but not exclusively pay - were too high and need to go down.

'If we did so, it would be apparent that we are still way above average in many areas, particularly in the public sector and this says nothing about pension costs,' he said

Yes Peter. What about the pension costs?  You as former Attorney General were still receiving a state pension of €51,538 in 2008. You have a fortune of €128 million.

Clearly you are a man of rare talents. Your career is an amazing series of pinnacles and that is impressive (although BP, RBS and Goldman Sachs makes you wonder - they all hit nasty speedbumps ). But for all your talent and your preaching on costs and pensions you were still hitting up the state even with your huge fortune for a measly €51,538 a year.

Another freeloader. As far removed from reality as Krugman's top 1% in America.

For the love of god man give up your paltry, in comparison, state pension before having the gall to talk about the cost of pensions and Dublin's expenditure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Courage of conviction

1996 seems like an eternity away. It must seem awfully close for two families though. Volunteers Ed o'Brien and Diarmuid o'Neill both died in that year. They were both young men when they died and as a young teenager at the time I remember being struck by the level of committment and courage that both men must have had.

Ed o'Brien's birthday was 18th September. Diarmuid o'Neill died on 23rd September.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Poverty and Exclusion in Rural Ireland

With the ploughing champions underway its timely to look at the difficult challenges rural Ireland faces with poverty. You are 7% more at risk of poverty in rural Ireland. Suicide rates can be up to 25% greater than Dublin. Some Farm Incomes, are as low as 12,000, significantly lower than other employment opportunities as highlighted in the Ferris report.  After over a decade of Fianna Fail rural Ireland has been sorely treated. Rural voters need to ask themselves would Fine Gael have done anything different. With the EU budget likely to see some fairly radical changes to CAP rural voters need to have a party that can argue their case with conviction and ensure that the smaller Farmer does not lose out simply because they have no connections while the meat processors do or the bigger milk buyers drive down the price.

Additionally the report highlights that there tends to be a low uptake in Rural Ireland of entitlements such as the Farm Assist allowance. Many part time farmers who were relying on construction to boost income should have no hesitation in claiming and as this article points out it can make a real difference in helping to fight poverty.

If you are in Around Athy today or tomorrow make sure you drop by the Sinn Fein stand at 184 Row K.


Post From the European Anti-Poverty Network:
Rural poverty, intertwined with exclusion and isolation, has been around for a long time. It is documented in Patrick Kavanagh’s “The Great Hunger” and the writings of John B. Keane. Though it is well over a decade on from the publication of Curtin, Tovey and Hasse’s “Poverty in Rural Ireland” the issues examined within each chapter continue to be the main challenges in addressing social disadvantage in rural areas. These include demography, agriculture, access to services and limited employment opportunities.

Poverty is more likely to occur in rural areas than urban areas. In 2008 the risk of poverty in rural Ireland was 6.9 per cent higher than in urban Ireland with at risk rates of 18.2 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively. Trutz Hasse data shows remote rural areas are consistently amongst the most disadvantaged in the state. The difference between the ‘poorest’ and ‘richest’ counties increased over the Celtic tiger period and disposable incomes in rural areas are below those of urban areas. In rural areas poverty and disadvantage is experienced at individual level, or it is dispersed over large geographical areas. Rural poverty can exist side by side with considerable wealth and affluence but is frequently hidden and unnoticed. Isolation can have serious psychological effects and suicide rates in rural areas can be up to 25% greater than in Dublin.

Rural areas experience higher levels of child poverty and there is some evidence that take-up rates are lower in rural areas, due to less access to information and advice about public benefit entitlement, a prevailing culture of independence and self-reliance in rural areas, and the lack of anonymity in collecting benefits.

The Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice is carrying out a ground breaking study on the cost of a minimum essential standard of living in rural areas and preliminary findings suggest the same basket of goods and services costs rural households significantly more than their urban counterparts.

At the Budapest EU seminar on poverty and social exclusion in rural areas held in June 2009 an interesting piece of research was presented. The study, completed at the end of 2008 – before the worst of our current recession became known – made it clear that rural poverty is still a disappointingly strong constant in the 15 EU countries surveyed, including Ireland. The report cites the importance of European development policy in fighting poverty and social exclusion in rural areas, particularly in terms of its support for improved infrastructure, tourism, rural small and medium enterprises and the continued development of farming. Allied to these are more recent supports for initiatives such as renewable energy, and information and communications technology.

Because of the nature of the rural housing stock, the types of fuels available (with limited opportunities to switch to cheaper fuels such as gas) and their lower incomes rural households are at greater risk of fuel poverty. The carbon tax could cost rural households ten times more than some urban households and the continued lack of detail on the measures proposed to protect low income rural households is regrettable.

Having a job is probably the best safeguard against poverty and exclusion but unemployment in the more rural counties is running above that in the cities. Rural areas are characterised by their narrow economic base. The rise in unemployment occurring across all sectors will be most difficult to resolve in rural areas which are over-reliant on primary industries such as agriculture, construction and low-level manufacturing. According to the 2006 Census, one in five of the working population of rural areas is working in agriculture (as a farmer or agriculture worker), a decline from one in three in 2002. Clearly opportunities for jobs beyond farming and for the families of farmers must be created.

Average farm income last year was €12,000 per farm, the lowest income since 1999. Farm income lags considerably behind the national average with farm incomes in the BMW region lagging even further behind those in the South and East. A social group significantly impacted upon by the decline in construction are smallholders and part-time farmers who supplemented farming income with off-farm work. In many cases they worked full-time in construction and undertook farming in their off hours. A study by O’Brien and Hennessy (2007) has shown that participation in the off-farm labour market plays an important role in ensuring the sustainability of farm households and in insulating farm families from poverty. The challenge faced by this cohort is giving them the opportunity to benefit from retraining.

According to the CSO the greatest factor in determining a household’s access to services is not income, but location. The development of a community based rural transport programme has been a huge asset to rural communities however it is still only in its infancy. According to NESC “Access to services – in health, education, housing and other areas – is also integral to social protection and, in some instances, more important to securing people’s living standards and participation in society than having a higher money income”. The report concludes that such services are vital to maintaining social cohesion and combating social exclusion. At an EU level access to well functioning, accessible, affordable and high quality public services is seen as an important part of citizenship and a fundamental right. The provision of access to services of good quality makes a major contribution to the prevention, reduction and ultimate elimination of rural poverty and social exclusion. Experience has shown that devoting a higher proportion of resources to essential services achieves better outcomes for vulnerable groups, than an over reliance on income support.
... Read More

This post appeared on the European Anti-Poverty Network site was written by Seán O’Leary. Sean is a Policy and Communications Officer with Irish Rural Link – the national network of rural community groups.

Both sites are great resources for

Ireland: A Warning

This article is taken from Duncan's economic blog. Which looks at british politics from a left perspective.

This article looks at the disasterous economic deflationary policies of the FF/Greens. The labour party here must look at these facts and decide do they wish to go into the next government as coalition partners of FG and end up pesuing the same defaltionary policies, that will result in further economic disaster for the ordinary irish citizen.

Labour must join forces with SF and other pogressives to change politics here for good and build an ecomic that works in the interests of the ordinary Irish citizen.


Duncan’s Economic Blog

Ireland: A Warning

A year ago I wrote a post for Left Foot Forward on the Irish economy. I noted how, unlike Britain, the Irish Government had reacted to the global recession by cutting spending and attempting to drive down costs to remain globally competitive. I also noted this was broadly the policy pushed by the Conservatives at the time.

I assessed what had happened in the year between September 2008 and September 2009.

Nearly one year on, what has been the effect of these polices? Irish GDP is expected to fall by 12%, a staggering decline. Unemployment has reached 12.4% and is still rising. The economy is now in the grip of a severe deflation (minus 5.9%). Finance Minister Brian Lenihan openly talks of the need to “get our cost base down” in order to regain competitiveness. A policy of aiming to balance the budget and drive down wage costs is a throwback to the so-called Treasury View of the 1930s, a policy rejected then by progressives and rightly rejected now. The final irony is that, despite all of this needless suffering, the Irish Government will still be running a budget deficit of 12% of GDP this year while the ratings agencies have already cut Ireland’s sovereign bonds from AAA to AA.
In December last year, as Ireland delivered yet another emergency budget that was again praised by British Tories, I wrote an update.

Iain Dale writes that:

“The PBR the British Chancellor should have delivered, was delivered yesterday in Dublin. Hopefully George Osborne is studying it in great detail.”

The results of Ireland’s policy are plain to see:

• Irish unemployment is 12.5 per cent;

• The country is experiencing deflation at –6.6 per cent;

• GDP has fallen 7.4 per cent over the past year and 10.5% from its peak;

• And despite the cuts they have still had their credit rating downgraded.

But what exactly are the measures that the Tories are so keen to praise?

– Child benefit is being cut by 10%.

– Unemployment benefit is being cut by 4.1%, with larger cuts for those under 25.

– Public Sector workers are facing pay cuts of 5-8%.

– Prescription charges are being increased by 50%.

– Other increased health charges including A&E, inpatient and outpatient charges and a higher monthly threshold above which people cannot get free drugs under the Drug Payment Scheme.

– The Health budget is being cut by €400mn on top of previously announced cuts

– Further departmental cuts will be announced in coming days.

– €960mn is cut from the investment budget
So, a year after the first post and two years after Ireland embarked on its programme of cutting, where are we now?

Not in a good place. As the FT reports:

Ireland’s central bank governor has indicated that Brian Cowen’s government needs to go even further in cutting the forthcoming budget if it wants to restore international confidence in its management of the economy.

A year ago the populist Fianna Fáil-led coalition won international plaudits as one of the first EU countries to tackle the crisis head on, administering cuts in public sector pay averaging 15 per cent, and reductions in child and other benefits in the most savage budget in decades.

Yet today Ireland, together with Greece and Portugal, is seen as the most vulnerable of the EU’s peripheral economies, as it struggles with a property and banking crash that has blown a hole in the public finances and threatens the economic recovery.
As Ireland prepares to engage in (another) round of cuts, Bloomberg reports how unconvinced “the markets” are by Irish policy.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed say Ireland is likely to default, more than double the rate three months ago, according to a quarterly poll of 1,408 investors, traders and analysts.
Ireland is providing a vivid example that the “cuts don’t work”. As the head of asset allocation at Credit Suisse Private Bank warned a year ago

Spending cuts to be announced today by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan may end up sacrificing long-term economic growth for reducing the budget deficit, an Irish author and head of asset allocation at Credit Suisse Private Banking has warned.

Michael O’Sullivan, whose book, ‘Ireland and the Global Question’, was published in 2006, warned this week that Mr Lenihan’s expected swingeing cuts could do long-term damage. “Arguably the Irish bond market is being saved at the expense of Irish society”, said Mr O’Sullivan.

“By cutting spending you lower the trend line of growth and store up bigger fiscal problems down the line,” he added.
Cutting now reduces growth and tax revenue and increases unemployment and welfare spending. It does not close the deficit in a sustainable manner.

Ireland, a euro member, may have little choice but to pursue this policy. The UK though does face a choice, and we are making the wrong one.

Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin - Outlines the ONLY way forward in the South

Friday, September 17, 2010


The Save 16 Moore Street campaign represent those people who would like to see the full preservation of 16 Moore St and all its contents dating back to 1916 instead of being demolished by developers. This group has no political bias and is open to all. Below is a message I received from them asking for support in their campaign.

The facebook page of the group is!/group.php?gid=114656558567416&v=info&ref=ts

Subject: Certificate of Support

Now is the time to show real support for the Moore Street campaign. Adapted from a 1930's 1st battalion Dublin Brigade Certificate of Service, a limited edition scroll will be inscribed with your chosen name and signed by the founders of the Moore Street campaign including James Connolly's great grandson. It is already a collectors item.

Please see main above for image.

Funds raised will be used to pay for the design and print costs for HQ16: The Citizens Plan for Dublin: Part 1 which offers a real alternative to the destruction of the Battlefield area. Any monies left over will go towards the restoration and maintenance of the various Dublin Brigade memorials throughout the city.

There are no office, administration costs involved.

Price: E 25.00 inc p&p

Cheques/ Drafts payable to P Cooney c/o 46 Shantalla Drive. Beaumont. Dublin 9

Thank you for supporting the Save Moore Street campaign.

Fraud Inquiriy - Bankers and Fianna Fail politicians have questions to answer

Great post from Rathangan Republican News blog on Eoin o'Broin's recent call for a fraud inquiry.  Steps like this allied with the wide ranging campaigns on housing, hospitals etc are bringing the fight to those who thought they were above the law or have no responsibility. The culture of inpunity is going to have to end in this country.

Dublin Sinn Féin representative, Eoin O' Broin is demanding that Gardaí launch a fraud inquiry to investigate the Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and top officials at Bank of Ireland and AIB. Mr O' Broin has contacted Gardaí at Pearse Street in Dublin, saying the men should face questions on whether they deliberately withheld information from the Dáil regarding the insolvency of Anglo Irish Bank. He also wants the chiefs of the banks to answer questions on whether they withheld information from Mr Cowen and Mr Lenihan in meetings before the enactment of the bank guarantee scheme which led to huge financial loss for the Irish taxpayer.

Criminals should be prosecuted.
O' Broins move comes in the wake of the decision by Iceland authorities to bring charges against former government ministers over their alleged failings connected to the economic crisis. The ministers, including former PM Geir H. Haarde will now be sent to court where they will have to prove their innocence. In such a climate, it comes as no surprise that someone should bring similar charges against our own incompetent government. Every man, woman and child in this country has been effected by their failures to deal with the economic decimation of our nation, and if you walk into any public gathering in Ireland, you will hear our citizens criticising this government for their inaction.

The only surprise is that it was left to a Sinn Féin representative to do this, while the supposed main opposition of Fine Gael/ Labour sat on their thumbs, sniggering about Brian Cowens alcohol problems. It was left to a Sinn Féin representative to take action while the many banner waving "socialist" parties did nothing, except perhaps critising Sinn féins status as a peoples party because they don't waste time holding meetings to discuss the finer points of dogma created by men who have been dead for a century. It was left to a Sinn Féin representative to take the peoples fight to the heart of the corrupt regime in Leinster house while the rest did nothing.

Eoin O' Broin deserves a medal for bringing this action against these people, who have been protected by the inadequacies of the opposition, and their amiable relationship with the O' Reilly media for so long. Now is not the time to sit back and allow Joe Duffy to tell us that this is Ireland, and not Iceland or Greece. Don't listen to Kevin Myers tell you that Eoin O' Broin  is a supporter of terrorism who wants to eat your children and turn the country into a homosexual, vegetarian, communist utopia. Don't mind George Hook when he tells you that the Government are to blame but bringing them to court is a step to far, and will turn Ireland into a joke.

"Breaking stones in the mid day sun..."
They have already succeeded in turning Ireland into a joke.

The protesters in Greece carried banners declaring proudly, "WE ARE NOT THE IRISH".

This is not the view of Ireland I want the rest of the world to have. This is not the way I would like future generations of Irish men and Irish women to remember us.

We are Irish and we are proud. We don't lie down for anyone, and we certainly don't allow rulers to get away with hell and leave us lying in the gutter. Just ask the english.

Ninety four years ago, brave Irish men and Irish women rose up against a corrupt regime that seemed untouchable at the time. Though few in number, and though eventually forced to surrender, the news of their actions spread around the globe, and the memory of their rising has inspired Irish people the world over since.

Our own Irish Republican Super Hero, O' Broinman?
Eoin O' Broin has taken the fight to the government, but he cant do so alone. It is time for all of us to rise up and stand behind O' Broin. Its time to get rid of these criminals and the equally guilty main opposition that have allowed them to stay in their Ivory tower for so long.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our National (Irish) Language - By Thomas Davis

Thomas Davis of Mallow died on the 16th September 1845. In his short life he made a great contribution towards restoring the spirit of Irish nationhood and and remphasing that an Ireland without the Irish language would only be half a country. Davis wrote the following pamphlet urging that the Irish nation have the courage to forge its own path. It called for a sense of courage and purpose that would serve us well today.

MEN are ever valued most for peculiar and original qualities. A man who can only talk commonplace, and act according to routine, has little weight. To speak, look, and do what your own soul from its depths orders you are credentials of greatness which all men understand and acknowledge. Such a man's dictum has more influence than the reasoning of an imitative or commonplace man. He fills his circle with confidence. He is self-possessed, firm, accurate, and daring. Such men are the pioneers of civilisation, and the rulers of the human heart.

Why should not nations be judged thus? Is not a full indulgence of its natural tendencies essential to a people's greatness? Force the manners, dress, language, and constitution of Russia, or Italy, or Norway, or America, and you instantly stunt and distort the whole mind of either people.

The language, which grows up with a people, is conformed to their organs, descriptive of their climate, constitution, and manners, mingled inseparably with their history and their soil, fitted beyond any other language to express their prevalent thoughts in the most natural and efficient way.

To impose another language on such a people is to send their history adrift among the accidents of translation--'tis to tear their identity from all places--'tis to substitute arbitrary signs for picturesque and suggestive names--'tis to cut off the entail of feeling, and separate the people from their forefathers by a deep gulf--'tis to corrupt their very organs, and abridge their power of expression.

The language of a nation's youth is the only easy and full speech for its manhood and for its age. And when the language of its cradle goes, itself craves a tomb.

What business has a Russian for the rippling language of Italy or India? How could a Greek distort his organs and his soul to speak Dutch upon the sides of the Hymettus, or the beach of Salamis, or on the waste where once was Sparta? And is it befitting the fiery, delicate-organed Celt to abandon his beautiful tongue, docile and spirited as an Arab, "sweet as music, strong as the wave"--is it befitting in him to abandon this wild, liquid speech for the mongrel of a hundred breeds called English, which, powerful though it be, creaks and bangs about the Celt who tries to use it?

We lately met a glorious thought in the "Triads of Mochmed," printed in one of the Welsh codes by the Record Commission: "There are three things without which there is no country--common language, common judicature, and co-tillage land--for without these a country cannot support itself in peace and social union."

A people without a language of its own is only half a nation. A nation should guard its language more than its territories--'tis a surer barrier, and more important frontier, than fortress or river.

And in good times it has ever been thought so. Who had dared to propose the adoption of Persian or Egyptian in Greece--how had Pericles thundered at the barbarian? How had Cato scourged from the forum him who would have given the Attic or Gallic speech to men of Rome? How proudly and how nobly Germany stopped "the incipient creeping" progress of French! And no sooner had she succeeded than her genius, which had tossed in a hot trance, sprung up fresh and triumphant.

Had Pyrrhus quelled Italy, or Xerxes subdued Greece for a time long enough to impose new languages, where had been the literature which gives a pedigree to human genius? Even liberty recovered had been sickly and insecure without the language with which it had hunted in the woods, worshipped at the fruit-strewn altar, debated on the council-hill, and shouted in the battle-charge.

There is a fine song of the Fusians, which describes

"Language linked to liberty."

To lose your native tongue, and learn that of an alien, is the worst badge of conquest--it is the chain on the soul. To have lost entirely the national language is death; the fetter has worn through. So long as the Saxon held to his German speech he could hope to resume his land from the Norman; now, if he is to be free and locally governed, he must build himself a new home. There is hope for Scotland--strong hope for Wales--sure hope for Hungary. The speech of the alien is not universal in the one; is gallantly held at bay in the other; is nearly expelled from the third.

How unnatural--how corrupting 'tis for us, three-fourths of whom are of Celtic blood, to speak a medley of Teutonic dialects! If we add the Celtic Scots, who came back here from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, and the Celtic Welsh, who colonised many parts of Wexford and other Leinster counties, to the Celts who never left Ireland, probably five-sixths, or more, of us are Celts. What business have we with the Norman-Sassenagh?

Nor let any doubt these proportions because of the number of English names in Ireland. With a politic cruelty the English of the Pale passed an Act (3 Edw. IV., c. 3) compelling every Irishman within English jurisdiction "to go like to one Englishman in apparel, and shaving off his beard above the mouth," "and shall take to him an English sirname of one town, as Sutton, Chester, Trym, Skryne, Corke, Kinsale; or colour, as White, Blacke, Browne; or art or science, as Smith, or Carpenter; or office, as Cook, Butler; and that he and his issue shall use this name, under pain of forfeiting his goods yearly."

And just as this Parliament before the Reformation, so did another after the Reformation. By the 28th Henry VIII., c. 15, the dress and language of the Irish were insolently described as barbarous by the minions of that ruffian king, and were utterly forbidden and abolished under many penalties and incapacities. These laws are still in force; but whether the Archaeological Society, including Peel and O'Connell, will be prosecuted seems doubtful.

There was also, 'tis to be feared, an adoption of English names, during some periods, from fashion, fear, or meanness. Some of our best Irish names, too, have been so mangled as to require some scholarship to identify them. For these and many more reasons the members of the Celtic race here are immensely greater than at first appeals.

But this is not all; for even the Saxon and Norman colonists, notwithstanding these laws, melted down into the Irish, and adopted all their ways and language. For centuries upon centuries Irish was spoken by men of all bloods in Ireland, and English was unknown, save to a few citizens and nobles of the Pale. 'Tis only within a very late period that the majority of the people learned English.

But, it will be asked, how can the language be restored now?

We shall answer this partly by saying that, through the labours of the Archaeological and many lesser societies, it is being revived rapidly.

We shall consider this question of the possibility of reviving it more at length some other day.

Nothing can make us believe that it is natural or honourable for the Irish to speak the speech of the alien, the invader, the Sassenagh tyrant, and to abandon the language of our kings and heroes. What! give up the tongue of Ollamh Fodhla and Brian Boru, the tongue of M'Carty, and the O'Nials, the tongue of Sarsfield's, Curran's, Mathew's, and O'Connell's boyhood, for that of Strafford and Poynings, Sussex, Kirk, and Cromwell!

No! oh, no! the "brighter days shall surely come," and the green flag shall wave on our towers, and the sweet old language be heard once more in college, mart, and senate.

But even should the effort to save it as the national language fail, by the attempt we will rescue its old literature, and hand down to our descendants proofs that we had a language as fit for love, and war, and business, and pleasure, as the world ever knew, and that we had not the spirit and nationality to preserve it!

Had Swift known Irish he would have sowed its seed by the side of that nationality which he planted, and the close of the last century would have seen the one as flourishing as the other. Had Ireland used Irish in 1782, would it not have impeded England's re-conquest of us? But 'tis not yet too late.

For you, if the mixed speech called English was laid with sweetmeats on your child's tongue, English is the best speech of manhood. And yet, rather, in that case you are unfortunate. The hills, and lakes, and rivers, the forts and castles, the churches and parishes, the baronies and counties around you, have all Irish names--names which describe the nature of the scenery or ground, the name of founder, or chief, or priest, or the leading fact in the history of the place. To you these are names hard to pronounce, and without meaning.

And yet it were well for you to know them. That knowledge would be a topography, and a history, and romance, walking by your side, and helping your discourse. Meath tells its flatness, Clonmel the abundant riches of its valley, Fermanagh is the land of the Lakes, Tyrone the country of Owen, Kilkenny the Church of St. Canice, Dunmore the great fort, Athenry the Ford of the Kings, Dunleary the Fort of O'Leary; and the Phoenix Park, instead of taking its name from a fable, recognises as christener the "sweet water" which yet springs near the east gate.

All the names of our airs and songs are Irish, and we every day are as puzzled and ingeniously wrong about them as the man who, when asked for the air, "I am asleep, and don't waken me," called it "Tommy M'Cullagh made boots for me."

The bulk of our history and poetry are written in Irish, and shall we, who learn Italian, and Latin, and Greek, to read Dante, Livy, and Homer in the original--shall we be content with ignorance or a translation of Irish?

The want of modern scientific words in Irish is undeniable, and doubtless we should adopt the existing names into our language. The Germans have done the same thing, and no one calls German mongrel on that account. Most of these names are clumsy and extravagant; and are almost all derived from Greek or Latin, and cut as foreign a figure in French and English as they would in Irish. Once Irish was recognised as a language to be learned as much as French or Italian, our dictionaries would fill up, and our vocabularies ramify, to suit all the wants of life and conversation.

These objections are ingenious refinements, however, rarely thought of till after the other and great objection has been answered.

The usual objection to attempting the revival of Irish is, that it could not succeed.

If an attempt were made to introduce Irish, either through the national schools or the courts of law, into the eastern side of the island, it would certainly fail, and the reaction might extinguish it altogether. But no one contemplates this save as a dream of what may happen a hundred years hence. It is quite another thing to say, as we do, that the Irish language should be cherished, taught, and esteemed, and that it can be preserved and gradually extended.

What we seek is, that the people of the upper classes should have their children taught the language which explains our names of persons or places, our older history, and our music, and which is spoken in the majority of our counties, rather than Italian, German, or French. It would be more useful in life, more serviceable to the taste and genius of young people, and a more flexible accomplishment for an Irish man or woman to speak, sing, and write Irish than French.

At present the middle classes think it a sign of vulgarity to speak Irish--the children are everywhere taught English and English alone in schools--and, what is worse, they are urged by rewards and punishments to speak it at home, for English is the language of their masters. Now, we think the example and exertions of the upper classes would be sufficient to set the opposite and better fashion of preferring Irish; and, even as a matter of taste, we think them bound to do so. And we ask it of the pride, the patriotism, and the hearts of our farmers and shopkeepers, will they try to drive out of their children's minds the native language of almost every great man we had, from Brian Boru to O'Connell--will they meanly sacrifice the language which names their hills, and towns, and music, to the tongue of the stranger?

About half the people west of a line drawn from Derry to Waterford speak Irish habitually, and in some of the mountain tracts east of that line it is still common. Simply requiring the teachers of the national schools in these Irish-speaking districts to know Irish, and supplying them with Irish translations of the school books, would guard the language where it now exists, and prevent it from being swept away by the English tongue, as the Red Americans have been by the English race from New York to New Orleans.

The example of the upper classes would extend and develop a modern Irish literature, and the hearty support they have given to the Archaeological Society makes us hope that they will have sense and spirit to do so.

But the establishment of a newspaper partly or wholly Irish would be the most rapid and sure way of serving the language. The Irish-speaking man would find, in his native tongue, the political news and general information he has now to seek in English; and the English-speaking man, having Irish frequently before him in so attractive a form, would be tempted to learn its characters, and by-and-by its meaning.

These newspapers in many languages are now to be found everywhere but here. In South America many of these papers are Spanish and English, or French; in North America, French and English; in Northern Italy, German and Italian; in Denmark and Holland, German is used in addition to the native tongue; in Alsace and Switzerland, French and German; in Poland, German, French, and Sclavonic; in Turkey, French and Turkish; in Hungary, Magyar, Sclavonic, and German; and the little Canton of Grison uses three languages in its press. With the exception of Hungary, the secondary language is, in all cases, spoken by fewer persons than the Irish-speaking people of Ireland, and while they everywhere tolerate and use one language as a medium of commerce, they cherish the other as the vehicle of history, the wings of song, the soil of their genius, and a mark and guard of nationality.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

He was hungover and the taxpayers were hung up

Over 600 world wide media sources picked up on the embarassing interview with Brian Cowen recently. A country which is very keen to demonstrate itself as a serious player as a place to invest money and do business is not best served when the state leader plays into the sterotype of Ireland Land of Saints and Skullers.
Cabinet ministers were quick to state that they had found nothing wrong with the content of the speech. Rather pathetically nobody mentioned the man himself but limited their support to the content of the speech.
The website has reviewed the content of that speech. By the way Its a good website and worth checking in on every so often. As they note focussing on the content of the Brian Cowen speech makes the whole tawdry event even more pathetic. Their post points out:  

In the now infamous interview (transcript) with Morning Ireland, Brian Cowen –

  • Could not provide a headline number for the total budgetary adjustment being sought next year
  • Was reduced to vague jargon in trying to explain the budgetary process ('estimates campaign") — this from someone who served 4 years as finance minister
  • Barely could muster an opinion on whether Dublin should have a Mayor, a critical urban policy decision
  • Made it clear that despite earlier claims to the contrary, nothing has been done on initiating the Croke Park Agreement or will be before 2011
  • Hadn't been briefed on the earlier interviews that had taken place about the conference, not least with the despairing graduate and couldn't generate any specific message for her 

The FF circling of the wagons today includes the claim that we should focus on the content of what he said.  It ain't pretty.

It certainly aint pretty.
I dont go to work hungover. Its not too much to ask that Cowen could do the same especially since he has been paid nearly €2 million gross over the last 7 years to manage the economy.
And look at the economy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Links between the Basque and Irish people

The Basque struggle and the Irish struggle has seen deep bonds of friendship arise between both peoples. In response the post on the recent initiative by Euskadi Ta Askatasuna a comment by John pointed out an article on what those deep links are and also some differences as well. An excellent article which is reproduced here - worth reading.

In the wake of the ETA ceasefire, John Dorney takes a look at the historical similarities and differences between Irish and Basque nationalism.

To many Irish people, the events of this week (September 6, 2010), with the armed Basque separatist group ETA declaring an end to its attacks, have a strangely familiar ring.
An armed nationalist group, variously pilloried as terrorists, lauded as freedom fighters and provoking also ambiguous reactions verging from contempt to quiet admiration, declares a ceasefire. The metropolitan government voices caution and declares that the end to violence will not be credible until arms are handed over. Other nationalists welcome the move and call on the government to engage with the political wing of the armed movement.
All of the above could equally be said of the Provisional IRA’s ceasefire of 1994 as of ETA’s announcement in September 2010.
There are other very obvious parallels between the Basque and Irish situations. What radical nationalists think of as the Basque Country, or Euskal Herria, comprises of three provinces of France and four in Spain. The Basque Autonomous Community has just three provinces in northern Spain.
There are very obvious parallels between the Basque and Irish situations
Thus for the radicals, or abertzales, as they call themselves, the current Basque institutions are “partitionist”, the nationalists who accept them are “espanolistas” and the Basque police are “cipayos” (“sepoys” – an analogy to native troops in British India). It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to find the equivalents in the world view of Irish Republicanism – Northern Ireland as a British-occupied statelet, the Republic a partitionist sham, its police as “Free State” traitors and its nationalist opponents as “West Brits”.

The Basque police or Ertzaintza break up an abertzale demonstration

Nor have the similarities been lost on either Basque or Irish separatist movements. Sinn Fein and Batasuna (the currently banned Basque separatist party) routinely send delegates to each others conferences and Sinn Fein personnel regularly travel to the Basque Country to advise on the peace process there.
But how similar are the two movements really? A look backwards into history reveals important similarities but also significant differences.

Perhaps the most long standing and powerful basis for Irish nationalism is in the historical grievances of the Irish Catholic community. While Irish Republicanism itself has had strong secular features at times, its core support has always come from the Catholic community and this remains the case in Northern Ireland today.
Historically, since the mid 17th century until the 19th this community, an ethnic mixture comprising of Old English as well as Gaelic Irish, found itself dispossessed of land and excluded from political power, in favour of an administration based in England and a ruling class, landed and economic, largely composed of Protestant settlers from Britain.
Nothing like this has ever existed in the Basque Country. If anything, ethnic Basques in the 19th century found themselves in a superior position to the workers from other parts of Spain who flocked to the region to work in the Basque Country’s burgeoning industries. In fact, one aspect of early Basque nationalism, as articulated by its founder, Sabino Arana, in the late 1800s, was hostility to such immigrants, who could be derided as dirty, un-Basque and irreligious.
Moreover, while in Ireland, Irish Catholic folk memory, being both excluded and defeated by the state, generally celebrated its hostility to Britain, until the 20th century, this was simply not true in the Basque Country. Many Basques of the early 19th century fought to protect the autonomy or fueros of their provinces, but they did so as Carlists, loyal to the “traditionalist” branch of the monarchy in Madrid against “liberal” line. So according to one interpretation, Basques were actually a repository of the real Spanish identity.

Irish Catholic folk memory, excluded and defeated was traditionally hostile to the state. This was not always true in the Basque Country
The idea that the Basque Country was occupied and oppressed by Spain only really became a reality after the Spanish Civil War, when the Basque nationalists sided with the Spanish Republic against the right wing military uprising. Two Basque provinces, Guipuzcoa and Viscaya declared themselves autonomous during the war.
With the victory of Franco’s forces, the two “traitor provinces” were harshly dealt with. Many nationalists were executed and imprisoned and the Basque language was banned. Modern Basque separatism and ETA in particular, is therefore closely bound up with opposition to the Franco dictatorship and with left wing politics. The radicals close to ETA argue that without a Basque right to self determination, the dictatorship has never really ended.
The point is that whereas in Ireland, particularly in Northern Ireland, where you stood on the national question was largely determined by your family’s religion, origin and class; in the Basque Country it has always been much more fluid. There are children of Andalucian immigrants who have joined ETA. And there are also native Basque speakers, with unbroken Basque ancestry, who support the unity of Spain.
An outgrowth of this difference is that while nationalist conflict in Ireland could sometimes be described as a conflict between communities, this was never true in the Basque Country. It was and is an ideological conflict, running across linguistic and class lines, over what the Basque Country really means. Is it an oppressed nation or a region of Spain?

The conflict in Ireland was sometimes between communities. In the Basque Country it was ideological

Hurlers from the early years of the Gaelic Revival -promotion of native sports was important to both Basque and Irish nationalists
If those are important differences, there are also intriguing parallels.
Both Ireland and the Basque County are home to very old languages – Gaeilge and Euskara respectively. In both places, the languages, (neither of which are any relation to English or Spanish respectively) are associated very closely with a traditional rural culture and with national identity. In both Ireland and the Basque Country, the languages of the towns and cities had long been English and Spanish, well before the rise of nationalism in the 19th century.
In the late 19th century, both Basque and Irish languages, as well as the traditional customs that supported them, looked to be in deep trouble. In Ireland’s case, by emigration and language shift in Irish speaking areas. In the case of Basque, by the advance of Spanish with the rise of industrialisation and the arrival of many thousands of Spanish speakers into the Basque Country (persecution of the language also became a factor under the Franco regime).
The interesting thing is that in both places, at roughly the same time – from the 1890s onwards, the native language and also things like traditional sports –in the Irish case hurling, in the Basque pelota (like handball) – became political symbols for national identity in a way they had never previously been.
The fear that national identity is under mortal threat is common to both Irish andBasque nationalism
In Ireland, nationalists formed the Gaelic League, the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Fianna to promote Irish language, sports and customs. In the Basque Country, the newly formed Basque Nationalist Party, or PNV, promoted the use of euskara, held festivals, encouraged pelota competitions and formed mountaineering clubs to appreciate the beauty of the Basque Country.
This fear that what makes “us” different and special is under mortal threat is common to both Irish and Basque nationalism and can provoke the most radical actions. In 1916, Desmond Fitzgerald, an Irish language enthusiast and member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, justified the armed insurrection of Easter 1916 on grounds that if things continued as they were, “it would be futile to talk of ourselves other than as inhabitants of that part of England that used to be called Ireland. In that state of mind I had decided that extreme action must be taken”[1].
Similarly, ETA remarked in an open letter to the Mexican Zapatistas that, “with a certain irony we could say that it is the tenacity of the struggle for freedom that keeps us Basque”.[2] In their most recent statement, ETA claimed their fight had, “kept the Basque people alive”, in the face of the negation of the Basque People… ETA acted to oppose the attempt at assimilation” [3]
In both cases, armed action was not only a tactic for achieving independence, it was also a way, for some, of saving national identity. “We” were the people who fought against “the oppressor”.
This emphasis on action can have positive consequences. ETA, unlike previous generations of Basque nationalists, made no distinction between children of immigrants and “ethnic” Basques. One researcher, Jeremy MacClancy records: “To members of Herri Batasuna, Basque patriots are abertzales, a status not defined by birth but by performance: an abertzale is one who actively participates in the political struggle for an independent Basque nation with its own distinctive culture. One told me: ‘not being born Basque doesn’t matter, I feel Basque’ ”.[4]
The emphasis on action over orgin can be positive but can also lead to a murderous intolerance.
Similarly, Irish Republicanism has always welcomed those outside the Catholic community provided they are committed activists.
It can also, however, lead to a murderous intolerance. If the “real” Irish or Basque people are those who take part in the struggle, then those who do not, or who oppose it, are not only traitors, but not true compatriots at all. Ernie O’Malley, for instance, IRA leader of the 1920s, recalled stating in 1921 that, , “the people of this country would have to give allegiance to it or if they wanted to support the Empire, they would have to clear out and support the empire elsewhere”[5].
Notice that it was the revolutionaries who would decide to whom the people should give their allegiance. O’Malley, in the Civil War, ended up turning his guns on other Irish nationalists.
Similarly, in modern times, ETA has targeted Basque politicians, journalists and academics who have spoken out against it. The Basque sociologist Begona Aratxaga called this, “the ruthless and authoritarian policing of identity”.[6]
The Split
Another intriguing parallel is the importance of the “split” in both movements. Both ETA and the IRA split in the 1970s, and along similar lines.
Some former IRA and ETA activists ended up as the harshest critics of Irish and Basque nationalism[

Eoghan Harris
In both countries, a left-wing faction – the Official IRA and ETA Politico Militar, renounced the use of violence in favour of the primacy of political action. The Official IRA called a ceasefire in 1972 and ETA PM in 1980. Another faction committed to “armed struggle”, respectively the Provisional IRA and ETA Militarra continued their campaigns and eventually became the sole bodies claiming to be the IRA and ETA.
Both the Official Republicans and ETA PM instead concentrated on their political parties, respectively, the Workers’ Party and Euskadiko Ezkerra (“Basque Left”) letting their armed wings fall into abeyance.
The really curious thing is that the WP and EE followed an almost identical path, first rejecting violence, then reviled as traitors by their former comrades, coming to view them, the militarist nationalists, as the main cause of the problem and finally ending up in moderate social democratic parties that rejected not only violence but also the precepts of separatist nationalism.

Mikel Azurmendi
Most of the Workers’ Party activists of the 1980s are now to be found in the Irish Labour Party – some others, notably Eoghan Harris, have actually worked for northern unionist parties, such was their dislike for the Provisionals. Similarly, Euskadiko Ezkerra merged with the Spanish Socialist Party or PSOE in the 1990s. Currently in government in the Basque Autonomous Community, they have outlawed not only Batasuna but also any public act that, “supports or glorifies terrorism”.
Former ETA activists such as Jon Juaristi and Mikel Azurmendi, are now among the harshest critics of Basque nationalism in general. For Azurmendi, the abertzales have fraudulently defined Basque identity entirely as struggle between the “Basque people” and “Spain”; “almost half of my countrymen …believe that being Basque means not being Spanish and it is even more Basque to reject or hate what is Spanish”… “for ETA and HB it means designing an imaginary state of war and acting on it, what they call the ‘armed struggle’”. [7]

The Basque National Day was partly inspired by the Easter Rising

Elli Gallastegi, 'Gudari', who found refuge in Ireland after the Spanish Civil War
If there are philosophical and ideological similarities between Irish and Basque nationalism, there have also been concrete links going back to the 1920s. Such was the admiration of some Basque nationalists for the Easter Rising of 1916 that they located their national day, the Aberri Eguna, on Easter Sunday.
After the fall of the Basque Country in the Spanish Civil War in 1937, nationalist leader Eli Gallastegi, nicknamed Gudari, or “soldier”, was granted asylum in Ireland, where he settled in county Meath until 1958.[8]
Moving on to the 1970s, when both ETA and the Provisional IRA emerged as formidable armed organisations, there has been a long series of contacts between the two movements, including, allegedly, exchanges of weapons, explosives and expertise.
In the 1990s, as their armed wing weakened, ETA launched a campaign of street rioting in the Basque Country known as Kale Borroka (street struggle) – based apparently on admiration for republican street fighters in the nationalist ghettos of Northern Ireland.
In the present day, several ETA and Batasuna activists, fleeing arrest and imprisonment in Spain, including the hunger striker Inaki de Juana Chaos, have found refuge among republicans in Ireland.

Ogra Shinn Fein in the Basque Country
Ogra Shinn Fein, the republican youth movement, make an annual trip the Basque Country to visit Segi, their (now outlawed) opposite numbers..
Peace Processes
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who is close to people in Batasuna, has urged the Spanish government to respond positively to ETA’s cessation of violence this week. However, the Basque separatists’ ability to benefit from a political process has been severely damaged by their bungled handling of past ceasefires.
In 1998, inspired largely by the Good Friday Agreement, ETA called a permanent ceasefire, only to break it two years later. Again in 2006, the organisation called a “permanent truce”, but again broke it months later with a bomb in Madrid airport. No Spanish government would now dare face the public opprobrium of risking another failed peace process.
It is unthinkable that the Spanish government would say it has “no selfish or strategic interest” in the Basque Country
While the IRA also broke its 1994 ceasefire in 1997, thereafter the Sinn Fein leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness maintained strict and ruthless internal discipline until well into the peace process. The Basque separatist movement has no such clear leadership. Arnaldo Otegi, the leader of Batasuna, is currently imprisoned on charges of “glorifying terrorism” and it is in any case, by no means certain if the political wing of the movement has ever been able to tell the armed wing how to act.

ETA's bomb at Barajas airport that ended thier ceasefire in 2007.
Finally, the Northern Ireland Peace Process had its end result mapped out well in advance – power sharing between nationalists and unionists within an autonomous administration in Northern Ireland. There is no such clear solution to the Basque question.
Part of the historic Basque Country already has extensive autonomy. Self determination of the Basque Country is not something that the Spanish government will permit –nor could it, in any case, legislate for the French Basque provinces. Moreover, while Northern Ireland is a major financial drain on the United Kingdom (up to 70% of the six county economy comes from British public spending), the Basque Country is one of the richest parts of Spain and a net contributor to its tax base.
It is, as Irish journalist Paddy Woodworth has pointed out, simply inconceivable that Spain would say of the Basque Country, as Britain did of Northern Ireland, that it, “has no selfish or strategic interest” there.[9] The best that ETA are likely to get out of any negotiation would appear to be an exchange of arms for the release (or at least repatriation to the Basque Country) of its 800 odd prisoners. For Batasuna (banned in 2001) and the wider separatist movement, legalisation and their return to politics is the short term priority.
Whatever the result of the current phase of politics in the Basque Country and in Ireland, the links between Basque and Irish separatists have proved strong and enduring. There is, as this article has argued, important common ground between the two movements and such links will no doubt continue in the future.

[1] Desmond Fitzgerald, The Memoirs of Desmond Fitzgerald, p80
[2] Podríamos decir con cierta ironía que es la tenacidad en la lucha

por la libertad la que nos mantiene vascos
[3] Gara, 6/9/10
[4] Mar-Molinero, Clare, Smith, Angel, Nationalism and the Nation in the Iberian Peninsula, Berg, Oxford 1996. page 213
[5] Ernie O’Malley, On Another Man’s Wound, p370
[6] Aretxaga, Begona, (2005), States of Terror, Begona Aretxaga’s Essays, University of Nevada. P246
[7] Mikel Azurmendi, La Herrida Patriotica, 1998, p64-66.
[8] For Basque–Irish links in the early 20th century, see Daniel Leach, Fugitive Ireland, European minority nationalists and Irish Political Asylum, p52-58
[9] Paddy Woodworth, Why Do they Kill?, The Basque Conflict in Spain, World Policy Journal April 2001

Saturday, September 11, 2010


This article was taken from Mary Lou McDonald's Blog. A blog which is always well worth a read.

There is an alternative to this rotten government

Each year Sinn Féin presents to government the party’s pre-Budget submission. As Ireland’s fortunes have changed significantly over the last two years December’s budget has become an important day of the year, particularly for the least well off in our society as they face cuts in critical supports and services and the double whammy of an increase in inequitable stealth taxes.

Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats’ right wing agenda coupled with their fiscal recklessness during Ireland’s boom years hardened the collapse of our economy. The Green’s have compounded the states public finance deficit and double-digit unemployment figures by signing off on Fianna Fáil’s golden circle policy approach. Or maybe they have just found their political home in a Fianna Fáil led government!

Fianna Fáil was so beholden to those within it golden circle it decided to nationalise the worst bank in the history of the state. Anglo Irish Bank has cost the Irish people 22 billion euro to date with rating agency Standard Poor’s recently estimating that the total cost of bailing out the bank will rise to 35 billion euro.

But it is not enough for those of us in political opposition to bemoan the horrific failings of this government; we need to present our political and fiscal alternatives to the people. And that is what we in Sinn Fein have done each year with a particular focus on job creation since the collapse of the economy in 2008. We are currently working on our Budget 2011 submission, which will be published and submitted to government in advance of budget day on December 7th.

Click on the below links to download Sinn Féin Job Creation strategy document and our 2010 Budget submission to government. In these document’s you will find sensible viable alternatives to the government’s budget decisions including a range of tax revenue measures and proposals to address wasteful spending of public monies.

Westminister's Decades Long Campaign to defeat Nationalism

The Tory and Labour Governments of Westminister have waged a decades long struggle to defeat nationalism: Scottish nationalism.

BBC Alba covers the many tricks, strategems and mistruths employed by Westminister to keep the union intact.

Only our Scottish comrades could provide comment on this but I wonder have the english language BBC ever ran such a documentary - a documentary on how the UK govt. lied to the Scots.

I think of RTE and the contrasting example of TG4 which ran that fantastic series on prison breaks, including the Great Escape. RTE could never, would never (in its current form) run such a broadcast.

Its a 6 part series but worth a look.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The local economy - relying on We Ourselves rather than the Government.

The underwhelming approach of the Government continues to damage sth Ireland terribly. Brian Cowen may believe the spiking of the interest rate on 10-year Irish bonds to over 6% - Greek style rates was a blip. Its not. Its how lenders view our long term ability to repay debt and a vote of no-confidence in the Govt. handling of the crisis. Commentators from every quarter are now bemoaning the economic failures of the Dept. of Finance who are changing the plans again for Anglo Irish. We wont even know the full cost of the Anglo Irish bank crisis until next month. A never ending evasion of responsibility,  especially to Leinster house and tax payers as noted by Arthur Morgan. Brian Lenihan said the high yield rates were a result of our transparent policies. The tax payers never sees those transparent policies. 
So what does all this mean in real terms. By 2013 for every 4 euros to spend on the economy 1 euro will be spent on interest payments abroad 
For those of us still working one day a week will be worked not for the benefit of the Irish economy but to pay for the Developers and Fianna Fail's gambling.
As has been noted in many places we will need to raise our levels of production. We need to get people off the dole ques and into jobs. The scale of the task is huge  - hundreds of thousand of jobs lost must be replaced.
How are we going to do this? Well there are job creation strategies put forward but not implemented by Fianna Fail and additionally there are good ideas on helping young entrepreneurs strategies bring jobs back into local communities.
Look at Munster Rugby who now gets all its juice shakes from a small local company in Limerick. A small company employing 6-7 people set up by a man who gained experience with multi-nationals and used that experience to create jobs in rural Ireland. Jobs that dont depend on decisions made in America or wont relocate at the drop of a hat.
Instead there has been a Govt. led over-reliance on the promise of multi-nationals, to the neglect of more balanced development of the economy, and the high value knowledge economy. The problem with this is jobs from medical devices, financial services, digital media etc will be overwhelmingly urban based and likely to cluster around the largest towns and cities. Large swathes of the countryside will remain in economic decline.
Boosting the rate of young entrepreneurship will be a valuable way of getting jobs into small towns, the country side and housing estates which may be left behind. It will help to stem the decline of rural Ireland and revitalise urban Ireland.
Back in 1995 an academic from Galway University published a paper called "Desertification: Measuring population decline in rural Ireland". My own local region was one of those communities marked for a slow painful death  - we were just far enough away from the major urban centers to be isolated rather than included.  
The Celtic Tiger didnt solve the problems of rural decline and economic imbalances - it papered over them. The Celtic Tiger didnt end poverty in Ireland - it simply ignored it. Witness the recent report on poverty by the ESRI:16% in 2007 - before the bubble burst. A fifth of young children at risk of falling below the breadline with 7pc of them in consistent poverty.

Even harder for  lone parents - "In 2004, children in lone parent families accounted for 53pc of children in consistent poverty, while in 2007, 65pc of children in consistent poverty were in such families". But lone parents in the south are excluded from the economic life of the stated by an Irish childcare system thats not fit for purpose despite a decade to make it so.

How many skilled young people will emigrate and create good jobs in other countries. How many would stay here and create those jobs in rural and urban Ireland if given the support and opportunity to create new businesses - the type of support laid out by Sinn Fein. Businesses which would save local communities from dying, and help the most marginalised in Irish society share in any future economic growth.
Fianna Fail should view the emigration of every Irish worker not as one less dole payment but six less jobs.
Fianna Fail's mindset is the mindset of the past. In order to save our communities the electorate must consign them to them past.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Raising the Red Flag at the Rotunda. The workers occupation of January 1922.

The seizure of the Rotunda concert hall by a reasonably large group of unemployed workers, and the hoisting of the red flag over the premises, remains one of the most bizarre and understudied events of the Irish revolutionary period.

The story of this event is enjoyably recounted on the Come Here to Me website which covers the political, social, and radical history of Baile Atha Cliath. The article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author. Go raibh maith agat Donal.

The seizure of the Rotunda by unemployed people had as one of its leaders a man called Liam o'Flaherty who like many unemployed was in an Irish unit of the British army in WW1 before entering radical left politics, the Citzen Army and eventually seeing action with the anti-treaty forces in the civil war. 

In his excellent history of the ITGWU, The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union: The Formative Years C. Desmond Greaves wrote that, early in 1922 “….industrial conflict took the form of individual struggles rather than a concerted class war.” The occupation of the Rotunda came two days after the foundation of the new state, and was perhaps the earliest example of class anger within it, a direct response to the existing high levels of unemployment. One of the leading figures of this occupation was Liam O’ Flaherty, today well-known as the author of The Informer, the classic novel, but then acting as a dedicated socialist.

He, like so many other unemployed men in Dublin, had served in the Great War, serving with the Irish Guards. He had been on a strange journey before returning to Dublin, and Emmet O’ Connor notes in Reds and the Greens that “After being invalided out of the British Army he set off trampling about the Mediterranean and the Americas, joining the Wobblies in Canada and the Communist Party in New York. He returned to settle in Ireland in December 1921….”

On January 18 1922, a group of unemployed Dublin workers seized the concert hall of the Rotunda. The Irish Times of the following day noted that:

 “The unemployed in Dublin have seized the concert room at the Rotunda, and they declare that they will hold that part of the building until they are removed, as a protest against the apathy of the authorities.”
“A ‘garrison’, divided into ‘companies’, each with its ‘officers’ has been formed, and from one of the windows the red flag flies”

Liam O’ Flaherty, as chairman of the ‘Council of Unemployed’, spoke to the paper about the refusal of the men to leave the premises, stating that no physical resistance would be put up against the police and that the protest was a peaceful one, yet they intended to stay where they were.

“If we were taken to court, we would not recognise the court, because the Government that does not redress our grievances is not worth recognising” O’ Flaherty told the Times.

A manifesto was issued by the occupiers, the first publication of O’ Flaherty. O’ Connor notes in his study that “Their manifesto was O’ Flaherty’s first publication. One could say that Phelan (A reference to a CPI comrade of O’ Flaherty, Jim Phelan) was impressed. ‘It’s language has not, I think, been approached since the days of the American War of Independence and the first French Revolution’ “

A later Irish Times report gives some idea of the level of organisation involved in such an occupation. On January 20 the paper noted that a man had been court martialed and reduced to the ranks. “…we reduced him to the ranks for disobeying orders” the paper quoted the “leader of the men” as saying. By that stage, two days into the occupation, around 200 men were present.

The paper noted a maintainance fund had been established, with Bolands bakery on Capel Street making a grant of 500 loaves to the men. The paper also noted that sporadic concerts had taken place inside the occupation, and that “A meeting of the unemployed was held during the day yesterday, and the “garrison” paraded Parnell Square”.

Of course, many Dubliners were extremely hostile to the sight of the red flag in Dublin. Angry demonstrations occurred each night during the occupation, and the Irish Independent noted (January 21) that “About 8.30 last night a hostile crowd of about 500 assembled in Cavendish Row, and indulged in shouts and derisive cheers. About 10pm a young fellow made an attempt to reach the red flag hung out from a window, but fell to the ground. He was taken to Jervis St. Hospital, but he was not detained.” When the flag was removed, the crowd cheered loudly.It was only thanks to the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Republican Police that those inside the Rotunda were unharmed, as the crowd stormed the building. It was becoming clear the occupation was not sustainable. On the Thursday night, a member of the occupying group had been attacked collecting money near the premises, and since then tensions had been high.

The occupation, which had begun on Wednesday, was to end late on Saturday night. As the hatred outside intensified, shots were fired over the heads of the mob from inside the hall. Just before midnight, and under the protection of the combined police forces, the occupiers left the building and the crowd soon departed without incident. O’ Flaherty took off for Cork.

The Gate Theatre, site of the occupation today.

O’ Flaherty would later fight in the Irish Civil War, one of the socialists present in Vaughan’s Hotel, a republican seizure of note owing to the fact it was a favourite meeting place of a certain Michael Collins during the War of Independence! O’ Flaherty is not the only Irish writer of note to have partaken in the Civil War of course, with Sean O’ Faoláin just one other example. The early parts of 1922 saw much industrial unrest, and a number of creameries in the south of Ireland were sized in May. Greaves noted in his prior mentioned study of the history of the ITGWU that the Labour Party and TUC had attempted to “…ensure the neutrality of the Citizen Army by incorporating it into a ‘Workers Army’ that would cover the whole country….But no army can fight for neutrality, and the project soon fell through”

Still, the physical battles between two armed factions and the class conflict remained more or less disconnected from one another. An editorial in the Workers Republic, printed on July 22 1922, noted
“What will attract the masses to support the Republicans? At present, they cannot see any benefit in fighting for it! At present the Free State offers them more economic and social advantages. At the moment it seems as if the Labour Party, representative of the masses, can find its salvation in the Free State rather than in the Republic”

Liam Mellows, perhaps the republican figure who fought hardest for republicanism to add a real social dimension to its goals, was to be executed in a hail of bullets. His now famous prison notes noted that “In our efforts now to win back public support to the Republic we are forced to recognise whether we like it or not- that the commercial interest, so-called, money and the gombeen men are on the side of the Treaty”

The occupation of the Rotunda remains an often overlooked piece of the history of the period. Before Mellows penned the above, O’ Flaherty and a small band of followers had demanded a Workers Republic, and nothing short thereof. In Irish history, the Rotunda is seen as being of great importance as the site of the foundation of the Irish Volunteers. Sadly, no plaque marks the workers occupation of the site in 1922.