The Plough #17
5 December 2003
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
1. Is Britain Neutral?
2. Sex Tourism
3. The Coca Cola Campaign
4. The Gaoling of Fintan Lane
5. What's On?
Is Britain Neutral?
By Liam O'Ruairc
Republicans and the Left have usually analysed the British state's
presence in Ireland (so-called "British Imperialism") in terms of
selfish economic, political or strategic interests. However, this
analysis rests on shaky ground. First, the British state does not
benefit economically from its presence in the North of Ireland. It is
in fact a net financial loss. The second argument is that the British
state remains in Ireland because withdrawal would mean the beginning
of the break-up of the United Kingdom. This argument can be
criticised on the grounds that the British government sees the
province as a place apart and different from the rest of the United
Kingdom, conceding even that it would agree to Irish reunification if
a majority of the population in the North wished so. In the age of
inter-ballistic missiles, the strategic importance of the six
counties is very limited, especially after the end of the cold war.
In ideological terms, the province is of no significance to the
British identity, there is no "Jerusalem" in the North. So the
British state is telling the truth when it says that it "has no
selfish economic, political or strategic interests in the North". But
does that mean that the British state is effectively "neutral" or
even "benevolent", that because it has no economic, political or
strategic interests in the North it could join the ranks of
the "persuaders" for Irish unity? How should we analyse the role of
the British state in Ireland?
Since the days of Home Rule, the "Irish Question" has been source of
troubles for the British state. Thus since 1921, the political class
has avoided as much as possible to get involved in the affairs of the
North. Irish affairs are source of problems and troubles, so the
imperative is to avoid as much and as long as possible any direct
involvement in the affairs of the province. It is thus not surprising
for example that between 1921 and 1968 Westminster politicians have
only spent a day in the province. The six counties were not worth any
trouble from Westminster's point of view, as the place represented no
significant economic, political or strategic interest. Had there been
petrol in the North or had the six counties had a major strategic
value things would have been different, and the British state would
have played a much more active role. Significantly also, if the place
did not benefit the United Kingdom enough for the British state to
stay there forever, the six counties are not costly enough to justify
immediate or medium term withdrawal. (Remember that the cost of
running the province in 2000 in less than that of the British nuclear
programme). The North is not "bad" enough to justify an active policy
of withdrawal. Those factors account for a certain confusion and
indecision in the British state's policy towards the North. If the
North had not had this marginal importance for the British state,
British policy would have been more coherent and decisive. The only
consensus about the North in British political circles is that
minimum action or inaction is preferable to any significant
involvement, there is no solution to the problems of the North, there
is only good or bad crisis management.
It is only because it had been forced to intervene, at the point of
crisis in 1969, that the British state has had to form policies about
the North. The imperative is to avoid getting stuck in the
Irish "quagmire". The consequence of this is that there is no
political will to confront the Unionists. The more the confusion and
indecisiveness of British policy, the greater Unionist intransigence
will tend to be. In 1969, some British politician said, "the
Unionists are the majority, and we cannot afford to alienate them".
In theory, the British state might be "neutral" on whether the North
should be part of the UK, but in practice it will be objectively pro-
Unionist as it operates on the existing balance of forces in the
North, because if it has to choose between confronting the stronger
element (the Unionists majority) or the weakest (the Nationalist
minority), it will always choose to ignore the weaker element -
better displease the minority than the majority. This explains why
the British state will de facto uphold the Unionist veto and confront
the Republican challenge.
A good illustration of the above argument is the British state's
likely response to last week's elections, which saw a push for anti-
"The British government is set to resume its actively pro-unionist
approach to the Good Friday Agreement. This will involve demanding
further concessions from nationalists, and refusing to implement any
parts of the accord to which unionists object. The Irish government,
in its weakest position for many years, looks likely to continue to
behave as if a junior partner in the peace process, allowing British
officials to set the agenda while it concentrates on the EU
presidency. Already there are indications that the British see the
DUP's eclipsing of the UUP as an opportunity to push for the IRA to
disband." (Sean Mac Cartaigh, "British will dance to DUP tune",
Sunday Business Post, 30 November 2003)
Tony Blair may not personally like the Unionists, but he has
suspended the institutions, postponed elections and refused to
implement many aspects of the Good Friday Agreement precisely because
he "cannot afford to alienate the majority".
(The Plough is interested in our readers' response to this discussion
Recent press coverage of how two aid workers abused their positions
to elicit underage sex whilst in Cuba brought to the fore a growing
concern that we in the IRSP must now take a stand against. Sex
tourism we feel is another yet more disturbing method of exploiting
people of our class around the world. Unfortunately as in the case of
the aforementioned perpetrators in Cuba it is not just the poor being
abused but young children.
The effects of the global capitalist system as well as corrupt
internal governments have left millions of working class people in
several countries around the world living in object poverty. In
Thailand the people have already suffered under a right wing Royal
Government that has suppressed popular movements in the past with
oppressive measures (52 killed in pro-democracy demonstrations in
1992) and through corrupt governance the majority of its population
now face economic ruin. A recent downturn in the Thai economy has
resulted in the inevitable job losses for its labour. A Thai Farmers
Bank Research report for the first nine months of 1996 says 66
companies laid off more than 4,467 white-collar employees. Job losses
in labour-intensive industries that power Thailand's export engine,
like garments, footwear, jewellery and processed foods, are estimated
to be far higher.
Agricultural workers too face ruin as the Thai government
consistently fail to raise subsistence to farmers. The outcome of
this dire poverty is disturbing. At an age when we would regard them
as still being children, over a thousand young girls from northern
Thailand are being lured every year into prostitution. Girls as young
as 10 are being sold to the brothels of Bangkok, other Thai cities
and overseas. In some places as many as 90 percent of girls have left
their village to work.
They come from families in the "Golden Triangle" area trapped in a
cycle of poverty and debt. Their parents are subsistence farmers or
landless villagers with few work opportunities, and their traditional
lifestyle and values are being constantly eroded by the influx of
Faced with these pressures parents come to view their daughters as
commodities that can be traded. Brothel owners have networks of
agents combing the villages seeking out troubled families with
daughters, who move in with tempting offers of money. So begins a
cycle in which relatives, village headmen, police, government
officials and business people all benefit from the girl's labour.
We in the IRSP demand an end to this abusive violation of the poor
not only in Thailand but also in other countries with similar
conditions in the Far East as well as Central America and the
Caribbean. We support the exposing of wealthy western sex tourists
who travel to these countries to satisfy their perversion for under-
age sex in hope that they wont continue. However we know that this is
unlikely. Therefore we must try and eradicate the conditions that
force these families to offer their children to prostitution in order
to survive. A radical change of government within these countries to
the full democracy of republican socialism will pull the workers out
of their misery. There is some hope. On December 17 1997, a crowd of
around 2,000 workers set fire to the Sanyo Electric Co. headquarters
here over disputed bonus payments. The incident sent shockwaves
through the Thai government and media and dented the confidence of
foreign investors, especially those in Japan where the incident was
portrayed as the end of peaceful labour relations in Thailand. Three
months before the Sanyo incident, employees at the Japanese- owned
Thai Suzuki Motors' motorcycle factory outside Bangkok locked
management officials inside factory premises for several days. Labour
experts argue that though there has been an increase in violent
incidents and strikes and labour agitation, most have been
spontaneous outbursts by disorganised, dissatisfied workers.
We call on the workers of Thailand as well as the rest of the
affected nations to organise and continue to agitate. We call on them
to realise the power of their labour and use it to smash the
oppressive government. Only then will the symptoms of the capitalism
like child prostitution be eradicated.
WORLD WIDE CAMPAIGN AGAINST COCA COLA - STATEMENT
The demands phase of the World Wide Campaign against Coca Cola was
initiated on 22 July 2003. During this phase what is sought
fundamentally is that the corporation mitigate the pain of its
The facts have already been made clear through the Public Popular
Hearings that took place last year in different cities of the world.
The assassination of 9 workers, death threats and kidnappings carried
out by paramilitary groups, plant closures and the sacking of
workers, violations of collective and constitutional agreements and
permanent repression, amongst other acts of aggression.
The three principal objectives of this current phase are:
1. That Coca Cola mitigates the pain of the victims; that is why we
the social organisations who have formed the campaign have, since
11th February, been presenting a proposal for integrated reparations
that include the minimum demands that the transnational pays
compensation for the damages caused.
2. That Coca Cola publicly recognises that it benefited from the
crimes committed by paramilitary groups continually carried out
against the human rights of the workers and the communities.
3. That the transnational commits itself to not making any new
attacks on our people, and that it hands over to justice those
criminals who carried out actions to its benefit.
We need you to continue accompanying us in this struggle to get Coca
Cola to meet the victims' demands.
And what can we do?
1. Subscribe to, endorse and actively participate in the World Wide
Campaign against the transnational.
2. Dynamise and enrich the campaign, multiplying the different
materials that we have been making collectively; videos, leaflets,
stickers, badges, post cards, posters, tee-shirts etc.
3. Do not consume Coca Cola products (Coca Cola, Aquarius, Fanta,
Lilt, Minute Maid, Nestea, Powerade, Sprite, Manantial water).
Consuming them is contributing your money to the war that the United
States has declared on all the peoples of the world. It is also
causing serious damage to our organisation.
4. Expel Coca Cola from theatres, stadia, universities, colleges,
social centres, trade union offices, alternative centres and from any
other places that we can. Let's hold popular assemblies where we the
communities decide to throw Coca Cola out of our neighbourhoods and
5. Coca Cola's propaganda contaminates the environment. We should
fight to recover visual cleanliness and public space.
6. If we have savings in banks where Coca Cola holds its money or
invests its profits, we should withdraw them and explain the reason
for our decision to the institution
7. Contribute economic resources for the development of the campaign.
8. We must recover our food culture: aguadepanela [traditional sugar
drink], natural juices, boiled maize with honey, cane juice; lemonade
should come back to our dining tables at home. We are fighting
against hunger and for sovereignty and food security.
9. Invite our friends, relatives, neighbours and co-workers to unite
in this just struggle for life, for sovereignty and against war.
10. We call on workers in other transnational corporations and entire
communities to join the Campaign Against Impunity, Colombia Demands
Justice so that between us we build a dignified and sovereign
11. We should contribute to the different initiatives that are being
taken forward against this transnational from different peoples in
the world. We should unite and strengthen each other in one struggle
against the empire.
We will continue contributing to new forms of global resistance.
Visit us at the website www.sinaltrainal.org and accompany us in this
great campaign of struggle for life.
The Gaoling of Fintan Lane
60 Days in Jail for Peaceful Protest! The jailing of Fintan Lane is
in stark contrast with the treatment of US military that use Shannon
Airport as a stopover on the way to Iraq and Afghanistan where the US
is engaged in two brutal occupations. These occupations have resulted
in the murder of tens of thousands of civilians. Given the fact that
over 100,000 US troop have transited Shannon in the last 12 months,
it is highly likely that a large proportion of the troops and weapons
involved in these killings have used Shannon as a stopover. Recently,
US troops went on an illegal walkabout in Ennis town centre in combat
uniform but no charges were made for that trespass.
Before being jailed Fintan commented, "Innocent people are being
killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the war machine that is being
facilitated at Shannon airport. What is happening is an outrage, and
it is no exaggeration to say that Fianna Fail and the PDs have blood
on their hands."
More details on
What you can do! Fly post the "Release Fintan Lane" poster available
for download at http://www.irishantiwar.org/users/homepage/freefintan.pdf
Organise a statement of support/call for release from trade union
branches, from branches of political organisations in your area, from
councillors, from student unions, from campaigning groups, from anti-
war groups, or from any other group/organisation/individual you think
might add their voice to the call for Fintan's release. Already, the
Cork Trades Council, the Irish Anti-War Movement and Joe Higgins TD
have called for the release of Fintan Lane. We need to add to this
list as quickly as possible. Statements should be sent to the media
(newspapers, radio, etc.) and copies sent to email@example.com
Send a fax, e-mail and letter to government ministers/ TD's
calling for the release of Fintan Lane. Write a letter to a
newspaper, local or national Organise a white-line picket in the high
street of your town or city. Send messages of support and letters to
Fintan. Please keep messages/letters straightforward and post in an
envelope to Fintan Lane, Limerick Prison, Mulgrave Street, Limerick,
"My appeal is to the working class. I appeal to them exclusively,
because they, and only they, can bring about the time when the whole
world will be one brotherhood, on a sound economic foundation. That,
and that alone, can be the means of bringing about a reorganisation
of society. That can only be obtained when the people of the world
get the world and retain the world." - John McLean
In the Cause of Labour: A History of British Trade Unionism
There are many narrative histories of the struggles of British
workers. However Rob Sewell's book is different. The purpose of this
history of British trade unionism is not only to recite the wrongs
inflicted on working people, or simply to describe their heroic
struggles. It is an attempt to draw out the lessons of the events
that helped shape the Labour movement, and made it what it is. This
is a book that sets out from the proposition that the interests
between capital and labour are incompatible and takes sides in the
war between the classes.
Resist the Multinational Empire - Boycott Coca-Cola Activist
1pm - 5pm Saturday 6 December School of Oriental and African Studies
Students Union, London WC1 and Colombia Solidarity Campaign and SOAS
Palestine Society Present
8 till late PARTY FOR PALESTINE AND COLOMBIA
Featuring: Latin and Arabic DJs
Live Music: Hip Hop from Double negative and GM Babies
Protest Songs from Robb Johnson
Plus DJ Pablo, Colombian Drummers
Cost: £7/£5 (suggested donation £2 for conference only)
NETWORK FOR PEACE CONFERENCE
Working for a peaceful future: Campaigning for peace against a
context of the never-ending "war on terrorism".
5-6 December Venue: Friends House, Euston Road, London.
Info and/or to book a stall contact: Network for Peace - tel: 020 72783267
Sat, 6 December U.S. TROOPS OUT OF SHANNON!
Blockade the Warport Assemble at 2 pm at Lidl Carpark in Shannon
Town. More details on IAWM website Buses will be organised from
Dublin (contact Aoife at 087 795 5013), Cork (for more details
contact John at 086 300 4573), Galway (details later),
All Anti War groups are requested to hold public meetings, if
possible in the weeks coming up to this protest. The public meeting
should be used to build for as large a protest at Shannon as
possible. Other up-coming anti-war events
Thurs. 11 December Public Meeting
IRAQ - The Reality of the Occupation
8 pm Snug Pub, Dorset Street, Dublin 1
Sat. 13 December iBby Ireland Conference
Fighting for Writing Children's Book in Areas of Conflict
International Board for Books for Young People Ireland (iBby) is
holding a conference on bringing books and stories to children in
conflict situations. Speakers include Mary Robinson, Jehan Helou
(Ramallah, Palestine), Tom Hyland (East Timor SC).
Location: Marino Institute of Education, Griffith Avenue, Dublin 9.
More details from Máire at firstname.lastname@example.org or iBby,
c/o ILE, Irish Writers' Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Saturday 13 December 1-4pm opposite Downing Street
Public Rally Justice for detainees now!
Afghanistan. Iraq Belmarsh prison in the UK.... with speakers and a
petition calling for an end to imprisonment without trial! For
details contact CAMPACC on 020 7586 5892
Saturday, 13 to Monday 15 December
Major Women-only demonstration and blockade, Menwith Hill
THE INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM AGAINST ISOLATION - CONFERENCE ON
It is an INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON POLITICAL PRISONERS and is being
held on Dec. 19th, 20th and 21st.
WHERE: The symposium will take place in Palazzio Vecchio in Salone
COMUNE DI FIRENZE,
Palazzo Vecchio P.zza Signoria
50122 - FIRENZE
HOW: The order is speakers is divided geographically. So, for
instance, the first day speakers from Asia, America, Africa will
speak, the next day from Europe and the final decisions will be made.
WHO: A list of organisations and persons, who have so far confirmed
their participation in the symposium:
* Ahmet Kulaksiz, he lost his two daughters Canan and Zehra during
the death fast in Turkey
* Ex-political prisoners from Turkey (and Europe)
* Wainer Burani, a lawyer from Italy, who will speak about the
prisons in Italy and the Anti-Terror-Law
* Gianfranco di Maio, a doctor from Italy, who will speak about the
* Mohammed Safa, a representative of the Al Khiam Rehabilitation
Centre for Torture Victims, he will speak about the Lebanese
prisoners in the Zionist prisons.
* Ibrahim Mahajna, a lawyer who lives in Ramallah and is member of
the Palestinian Human Rights Commission. He will speak about the
situation of the prisoners at Ansar 3.
* Marcella della Donne, professor at the La Sapienza University in
* A representative of the Cuban Embassy in Rome and probably a lawyer
who is the brother of one of the "Cuban 5", who are imprisoned in
* Representatives of the Austrian Committee "Free the Cuban Five"
* Haidi Giulani, mother of Carlo Giulani, who was killed by police
during the demonstrations in Genoa
* Representatives of Behatokia, the Basque Observatory for Human
* Rote Hilfe (Red Help)
* A representative of the London-based Irish Political
FOR MORE INFORMATION
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or 0032-2-280 2228;
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