Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

Crowd welcomes the result, Dublin Castle, Saturday afternoon, May 26 (Irish time)

by Philip Ferguson

“I think for so many people in this country the weekend’s vote was just like an enormous weight being lifted – a ball and chain that dogged us all our adult life being finally gone. And I can’t believe that I’m 50 years of age and it’s taken this long. . .  I think for so many women it represented so much.  It’s almost like society atoning for everything it’s done to women in this country.  Atoning for how we stigmatised women faced with crisis pregnancies, the Magdalene Laundries, the Mother and Baby Homes, the shaming, the forced adoptions, the robbed identities. . .  For me, the biggest sentiment of the Yes vote, the thing that people said the most was, ‘Who am I to judge? It’s not my decision.'”

‘Kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse!’ The making and popularity of the ‘Father Ted’ TV comedy series, made in the mid-1990s, was an indication of changing attitudes towards the Catholic hierarchy.

With these words, spoken this week in the Dublin parliament, independent Marxist TD (MP) Clare Daly, welcomed the massive victory for women’s rights and human progress in the referendum vote last Friday, May 25.  The referendum was on whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution (the constitution of the southern or 26-County state).  The amendment, which had been passed in 1983 effectively banned abortion in Ireland.

Scale of victory

On May 25 66.4% voted Yes for repeal and just 33.6% voted No.  In numerical terms this was a vote of 1,429, 981 to repeal the anti-abortion amendment and 723,642 to maintain it.

Indicating the sea-change of attitudes among the people in the 26-Counties, this was a (more…)

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Eirígí banner: “No freedom without the freedom of women; Cat Inglis is on right

In 2015 the south of Ireland became the first state in which the people voted for gay marriage.  In a referendum in May that year a decisive majority voted in favour of the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The next big battle for social progress was inevitably going to be abortion, as the reactionaries had got in early, securing a victory in a 1983 referendum that added a ban on abortion to the constitution of the state (the 8th amendment).

On Friday this week (Irish time), voters in the south will go to the polls to vote on whether to repeal the 8th amendment,

Recently Philip Ferguson of Redline interviewed Cat Inglis, a long-time left-wing activist and a member of the socialist-republican organisation Éirígí about the issues.

Philip Ferguson: Could you tell us a bit about the role of religion, especially the Catholic Church as an institution, in the life of southern Irish society and in terms of the state, public services etc?

Cat Inglis:  Since the inception of the state the church has had a firm grip on many aspects of Irish life, schools are still run mainly by the diocese and are mostly catholic although in recent years there has been an upsurge in educate together style model among others.  Until about 20 years ago hospitals were run by sisters from various orders.  Overall there was a large religous presence in daily life; in recent years it has been greatly reduced.

PF: How did the 8th amendment come about and what was its practical, legal effect?

CI: Abortion was already (more…)

May 5 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.  Below we’re running a review of Francis Wheen’s biography of Marx.  The review was written when the bio first came out and is by a prominent British Marxist.  Its author probably did more than anyone else to re-establish Marx’s crisis theory in the English-speaking world, back in the early 1970s, and also both to re-establish the Marxist tradition in Britain on ‘the Irish Question’ and the imnpact of imperialism on the political outlook of the British working class and the Marxist approach to Labourism and the British Labour Party.  We’ve added a few more subheads and paragraph divides to break up the text.

by David Yaffe

The first short biography of Karl Marx could be said to have been produced by his great friend and collaborator Frederick Engels on 17 March 1883 in a speech heard by the ten other people gathered together in Highgate Cemetery for Marx’s funeral. It offers very clear guidelines to those who would take it upon themselves to write future biographies. Marx, said Engels, was before all else a revolutionary:

‘His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival.’

So the appearance of yet another biography of Karl Marx, this time by the former Guardian columnist Francis Wheen,1 claiming that ‘it is time to strip away the mythology and rediscover Karl Marx the man’ (p1), should put us on our guard. For Marx the man cannot be separated from his real mission in life and the dedication and commitment that invariably accompanied it.

Faint praise

A biography like any other ‘commodity’ has to have a market niche. Another tabloid-style denunciation of the man and his works would have little mileage. Neither would a revolutionary vindication of Marx. Wheen knows his punters – he wrote weekly for them in The Guardian. They rejected Thatcherism and a Labour Party gone Thatcherite. They are disturbed by untrammelled market forces, corporate domination, financial speculation and increasing stress and insecurity at work. They are alarmed by environmental destruction and Third World poverty but want well-stocked supermarkets supplied by global markets. They want to see change but not (more…)

“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”
– James Connolly, 1897

Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006) is a fictional story, set during the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War, of two brothers who join the Irish Republican Army to fight for independence from Britain.

Discussing the purpose of the film, Loach explained, “Every time a colony wants independence, the questions on the agenda are: a) how do you get the imperialists out, and b) what kind of society do you build? There are usually the bourgeois nationalists who say, ‘Let’s just change the flag and keep everything as it was.’ Then there are the revolutionaries who say, ‘Let’s change the property laws.’ It’s always a critical moment.”

The film will have a brief introduction from a member of the Canterbury Socialist Society to help with a bit of contextualisation.

Tuesday, May 8, 7.30 – 10.30pm
Space Academy
371 St Asaph Street
Christchurch

Constance de Markievicz, in Irish Citizen Army uniform

by Philip Ferguson

Today (Feb 4) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first woman elected to the British parliament! This was in the general election of December 1918, at the end of WW1. And no, she was not a Tory reactionary, but an Irish revolutionary – Constance Markievicz.

She was in jail at the time in London.

She had been second-in-command lof the insurrectionary forces at Stephen’s Green during the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin and, among other things, performed valuable sniper duties; after the surrender she was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death, commuted to penal servitidue for life on account of her being a woman.

The British were subsequently forced to release the prisoners, from the end of 1916 to mid-1917. Considered one of the hardest of the hard-core, she was in the very last group of prisoners to be released, returning to an ecstatic welcome in Dublin.

In May 1918 she was arrested for sedition and again imprisoned in England. It was here that she ran for parliament.

She stood on a platform of independence and radical social change in Ireland and not taking her seat at Westminster if elected.

In that election, 73 seats were won by people who said they wouldn’t take their seat at Westminster if elected.  A majority of them were in prison or ‘on the run’.

(These people won a majority of the seats in (more…)

An important victory for workers at Ryanair has lessons for workers in this country, especially those employed by multinational companies. . .

Workers have won important victory by using militant tactics, but the war is far from over. . .

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary once declared once that Hell would freeze over before he would allow a trade union in to Ryanair.  The sight of him having to eat his words is indeed enough to bring a glow to the heart of any class conscious worker. At the company AGM just a few months ago O’Leary gloated that “I don’t even know how there would be industrial action in Ryanair. . . There isn’t a union!”  So how then was this victory achieved?

Solidarity

The pilots and crew’s struggle with Ryanair is a lesson in what constitutes effective trade unionism. On the ground activism, self-organisation and above all practical solidarity, in this case international solidarity.  It was this which put ‘the skids’ under the self professed “tough guy” of Irish industrial relations.

The workforce, welded together by the Europe-wide airline network, began to flex its considerable muscle on the back of (more…)

by Phil Duncan

The postal plebiscite in Australia on gay marriage has returned almost exactly the same result as the actual referendum in the south of Ireland in 2015. Basically 62% Yes, 38% No.

The Yes vote across the ditch was a tiny fraction below the Yes vote in Ireland and the No vote there was a tiny fraction above the No vote in Ireland.  Also, in Ireland it was a binding referendum; in Australia it was just a plebiscite.  Nevertheless it seems that by the New Year gay women and men will have the same right to marry as straight women and men.

It’s a victory for human progress and equality.

But it is also a sign that the ruling class, certainly in the imperialist heartlands, has no interest in continuing to discriminate against gay women and men. It’s not just that the progessive movement is pushing for marriage equality; the reality is that they are pushing against an already-opening door.

It’s all a long way from the early days of the gay liberation movement.

Just a few decades ago Australian cops were (more…)