Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

John Smith looks at Britain’s impending departure from the EU in a wider context and explains why the Irish border has become such a make-or-break issue.  (Originally published on MR online; thanks to John for also sending it to us.)

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Five months before the March 29 leaving date, talks on how to avoid an acrimonious and chaotic exit of Britain from the European Union are on a knife-edge. A ‘hard’ Brexit would be a political and economic earthquake with global ramifications, but even if an agreement is reached the profound political crisis gripping Britain is set to deepen, as the ruling Conservative Party shatters into warring factions and the possibility grows of its replacement by a Labour Party government led by the avowedly socialist Jeremy Corbyn.

Most pundits expect a last-minute deal because this is what usually happens, but standing in the way is a uniquely intractable obstacle—the border between the Republic of Ireland and ‘Northern Ireland’, (more…)

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Yesterday (October 3) there was a big protest in Dublin over the housing crisis in the south of Ireland.

The Labour Party tried to take part, but there is a sizeable layer of working class activists who are totally hostile to Labour being allowed to be part of working class and left campaigns.  The Irish Labour Party is hated in many working class communities and by many left activists for its role in imposing vicious austerity against the working class when it was in coalition with Fine Gael (2011-2016).  Not only did they cut benefits and pensions, they also tried to railroad anti-austerity protesters to prison.

At the rally yesterday it was announced that a private member’s bill is being introduced to the Dublin parliament to start to tackle the housing crisis.  A list was read out of supporters of this bill, and this is what happened when Labour was mentioned (this is also the kind of attitude the left in this country needs to create in relation to Labour here):

Pic: Cyprus Mail

by Paul Severin

When an American sociologist conducted a study of Delta Airlines cabin crew in the early 1980s her interviewees were on average 35 years old and 40 percent were married. The contrast to the Ryanair workforce could hardly be greater. The employees are young, inexperienced, mostly single and almost without exception from Southern or Eastern Europe.

The job at Ryanair has little to do with the jet-set aura that once clung to the industry. It’s a precarious occupation because the job hardly enables a person to establish a sustainable existence. Accordingly, the turnover within the workforce is enormous. Those recruited by Ryanair usually work there for a few years, either on a temporary basis or on an Irish employment contract that grants hardly any rights. A regime of repression and fear has so far been able to keep workers submissive.

Ryanair cuts every corner

There is a world of difference between the work of a stewardess in the 1980s and the situation of the cabin crew at Ryanair today. The downgrading of this group of workers is the result of (more…)

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…)

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