Friday 17 September 2004

The Plough Vol 02 No 05

The Plough
Volume 2, Number 5
17 September 2004

E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party

1. Water Charges
2. Open Letter to Socialist Democracy
3. INTO Press Statement
4. Amnesty for All Immigrants
5. Letters
6. What's On



Most Northern Ireland households can expect to pay up to £415 per
year in water charges. The average household will pay £115 from
April 2006 that will rise to £340 in 2008. Last Monday, British
Minister of State John Speller announced the likely level of charges
for the province.

He also outlined arrangements for phasing in the charges and for
protecting low-income households.

"We estimate the average household charge is likely to be in the
region of £315-415 per year in 2008-09," Mr. Speller said.

Mr. Speller said charges would vary according to property value, but
would be capped at £750, with the lowest household charge about
£150. Household water and sewerage charges will consist of a
standing charge of around £55 each for water and for sewerage,
plus an element based on property value.

Charges will be phased in with customers paying one-third of the
annual charge in the first year, and two-thirds of the annual charge
in the second year following their introduction.

Mr. Speller said: "Bills to householders will vary depending on the
value of their property.

"For example, a property with a value of £60,000 will have an
annual water and sewerage charge of around £235, or 65 pence per

"A property valued at £250,000 will have an annual charge of
around £615, or £1.70 per day." Charges will apply to all
domestic properties, whether owner-occupied or rented, with the costs
for water supply and sewerage services indicated separately in bills.

However the move is unfair to the vulnerable as well as those who
could afford to pay. A 25% discount will not help people on low
incomes struggling to make ends meet. The British Government's own
statistics show that one in every four (24%) homes in the North of
Ireland earns less than £200 a week. Under this scheme, these
households will be at risk of falling into water poverty.

The discount is considerably less than what's on offer from other
public services like transport, where government rightly subsidizes
the vulnerable."

Trade unions representing 1,800 water workers reacted angrily to the
announcement. Bumper Graham, secretary of the Water Group of Trade
Unions, said: "On top of Minister Pearson's announcement on rates
last week, this represents another Labour double whammy for the
people of Northern Ireland.

"The only people that can be happy are Gordon Brown and his
accountants in London."

There is a growing body of opinion against the water charges. The
IRSP support the position of "can't pay won't pay." We call on all
political activists to throw their weight into the campaign against
the water charges.



The following three questions were asked of Socialist Democracy. The
reply from SD was written by John McAnulty. It can be seen on their
website or accessed on the IRSP Derry Discussion Site. Comrade John
ignored the first two questions until page 7 of his nine-page reply.

1. Do you think the IRSP has sorted out the problems that bedevilled
it in the 1980s and into the 1990s (most especially the feuding)?

2. Do you see it as a basically healthy left organisation today?

3. What is your attitude towards taking some initiative to bringing
together socialist republicans - IRSP, yourselves, Bernadette, the
Blanket/Fourthwrite people (yes, despite their support for the awful
SEA election campaign), at least at the level of some kind of regular
public forum, to try to develop a serious revolutionary political
alternative to the Provo sell-out and GFA?

The IRSP are now responding to the answers from the SD. The SD has
made no attempt to deal with the IRSP in the response to the
questions. Socialist Democracy is completely out of touch. We had no
discussions around the emergence of The Blanket. As we understand it
The Blanket project arose around a number of ex-Provisional prisoners
who reject the direction the Adams/McGuinness leadership are taking
the Provisional Movement. It is true we have been at many conferences
but at none organised by Fourthwrite. We are not and were not
involved in that project.

As SD did not exist in 1974 who exactly were involved in discussions
with the IRSP? Perhaps John for the sake of historical accuracy could

As regards the very important question of military dominance John is
formally correct. Indeed a number of comrades including Bernadette
McAlliskey walked away from our movement after they lost by one vote
a motion on this very issue at the Ard-Chomhairle. In walking away,
as indeed John's tendency also did, from confronting the whole issue
of the leadership of the anti-imperialist movement Bernadette and
others (including for a time the present writer) made a bad error of
judgement. It was left to others to wage a political struggle against
an increasingly militaristic tendency in the Republican Socialist
Movement. Those who walked away severely weakened the political
tendency and indeed it became almost extinct with the assassinations
of Seamus Costello, Ronnie Bunting, Noel Little and Miriam Daly. But
there were others who fought for socialist, indeed Marxist leadership
of the anti-imperialist struggle. The most prominent of these was Ta
Power, INLA volunteer and Marxist. John jumps from 1975 to 1998 and
simply ignores nearly 30 years of political struggle and dismisses
our whole history with the phrase "no real independent political
theory could arise."

What does this mean? Does it mean that the IRSP had no politics --
that there was no internal debate and that the Republican Socialist
Movement had no politics or political positions? If that is truly
what John thinks then perhaps he has read too much of the gutter
press and not enough of what we have said are saying and will
continue to say.

Has John read the Ta Power Document? It deals exactly with the whole
question of the primacy of politics. Unfortunately for the primacy of
politics Ta was killed and those who retained control of the IRSM
began a process of de-politicisation that culminated in the shame of
a ceasefire declaration from a courtroom dock by a failed and
discredited leadership.

From 1994 a political fight-back led by Gino Gallagher but supported
by class conscious members won the movement back to its core values
and re-asserted the primacy of politics. In the bitter struggle to
achieve that Gino was assassinated. The collective leadership that
emerged then was opposed to the pacification process that began long
before 1994. In reaching our position on the Good Friday Agreement we
had no "help" from the theoreticians from the so-called Marxist left.
Indeed we have no recollection of requests from any of the left
sectarian groups, heavily imbued with static versions Marxist theory,
for meetings for discussions or even critiques of our politics. After
all we claimed to be socialists heavily influenced by Marxism and
were clearly anti-imperialists within our ranks armed volunteers who
saw themselves in the traditions of James Connolly.

Now maybe we read different versions of the Marxist classics but I
don't think that Marx, Lenin, Connolly or Trotsky said that the most
class-conscious revolutionaries should denigrate ignore or belittle
anti–imperialists. Socialist Democracy have made no effort to
convince anti-imperialists the virtue of SD politics or of the value
of Marxism.

Now let us turn to the slanders on our membership that John has

1/ We are inside the tent that supports the GFA.

2/ Our position on the GFA is only the view of a few individuals and
not a programme of political opposition.

3/ He implies that the INLA ceasefire was to gain material benefits
for our membership.

We have consistently opposed the GFA and opposed the pacification
programme to weaken the anti-imperialist struggle and have taken our
arguments into as man areas and people as we can. Every Ard-Fheis in
the past 10 years has taken a consistent position in relation to
these matters. The membership has supported that position. Is John
McAnulty seriously suggesting that these members, many of whom have
served many years in imperialist jails, voted for something they did
not understand -- that they are too stupid to understand and have
been bought off by the Brits? The position of the leadership, John,
is the position of the membership and the position of the membership
is the position of the leadership. Attempts to suggest otherwise are
insulting and demeaning to our membership.

We also do not take kindly to the implication of being bought off
coming from a tiny group that has pranced up and down on the
sidelines of the anti-imperialist struggle criticising those who were
actually trying to solve the national question. Have you heard the
phrase "hurler on the ditch," John?

We do not claim to have been always correct or that we have the way,
the truth and the light. We have been our own strongest critics and
internal debate in our movement is healthy and constructive. We have
yet to ascertain how John can say "we are far from sure of the
position of the of the few members of the IRSP we come across on the
two key issues of the GFA and the partnership deals between Irish
capital and the union bosses."

Really, John, read The Starry Plough, read The Plough, visit our
website. That's where you come across our politics not from some
alleged meeting with our membership that did not take place. Don't
confuse casual conversations with serious politics. If you really
want to know what we think get your group to ask for a meeting with
our leadership.

It's always good to talk.

Now to briefly answer the questions John avoided.

"Do you think the IRSP has sorted out the problems that bedevilled it
in the 1980s and into the 1990s (most especially the feuding)?"

Yes absolutely but we do not regard what happened as feuding.

There was a clear agenda to destroy the Republican Socialist Movement
in order to pave the way for the final settlement of the Irish
Question by the imposition of the two state solution along so-called
democratic lines to allow for further penetration by international

There is a collective leadership and the primacy of politics is

"Do you see it as a basically healthy left organisation today?"

We maintain we are. There is a high level of political debate going
on but only John McAnulty can answer that question. To facilitate him
gaining information we are quite prepared to arrange for Socialist
Democracy to meet with five of our rank and file members provided
Socialist Democracy allow us the same access to their membership.

"What is your attitude towards taking some initiative to bringing
together socialist republicans - IRSP, yourselves, Bernadette, the
Blanket/Fourthwrite people (yes, despite their support for the awful
SEA election campaign), at least at the level of some kind of regular
public forum, to try to develop a serious revolutionary political
alternative to the Provo sell-out and GFA?"

We support such moves and have participated in the efforts to reach
some sort of common position. As the largest organisation of those
mentioned we have taken initiatives in the past and been completely
ignored by the rest of the so-called republican socialist left. We
currently work well with all those mentioned and have good fraternal
relations with them. On the doorsteps we know that there is a
yearning for an alternative to the pacification process. We all have
a major job in ensuring that yearning is given concrete expression.
We will play our part in that task.

John Martin
Political Secretary of the IRSP



Statement by John Carr, General Secretary, Irish National Teachers'
Organisation, on the OECD Report Education at a Glance 2004

14th September 2004

Time for the Minister to turn sentiment into hard cash.

Since 1995 Irish Gross Domestic Product has grown by seventy percent.

During this period of unparalleled economic growth overall education
spending increased by only forty five percent. Education spending,
like overall public spending, failed to keep pace with our new found

But an examination of what happened during that time within the
education budget shows a massive disparity in spending. Education
spending at primary and second level has increased by only thirty
four percent. At third level spending has increased by more than a
hundred percent.

At primary level we spend E.4, 582 per student per year. At second
level this rises to E.6, 421. At third level the equivalent figure is
E.12, 246. Per pupil spending at primary should be increased by at
least forty percent to bring primary spending in line with second

The overall education budget shows the unfairness of government

Nearly half of all students (46%) are in primary schools. Government
spends less than a third (32%) of the education budget on these
pupils. Thirty four percent of students are in second level and these
students attract a third of education spending. Only twenty percent
of all students are in third level but government spends a third of
the education budget at this level.

At the other end of the age spectrum Irish enrolment figures and
spending are among the worst of all OECD countries. Countries such as

France, Germany and Norway target at least ten percent of their
budget at early childhood education. Ireland spends nothing.

The INTO welcomes the Minister's admission that Ireland lags well
behind other countries in terms of the amount we spend on education
relative to our overall GDP. His comments that we need to focus on
increasing the resources we allocate to primary education, since this
is the area where our expenditure compares least favourably with many
countries are an honest appraisal of the situation. The challenge for
the Minister and the government is to find the money and spend it
where it is most needed. It is time to turn sentiment into hard cash.

Education at a Glance 2004 shows where Irish primary education
compares favourably with other countries.

Irish seven year olds spend more time than most at lessons. In
Ireland seven year olds receive 915 hours of teaching per year. This
compares with an international high of a thousand hours in Scotland
and a low of 555 hours in Hungary. The average yearly lesson time for
seven year old is 752 hours.

The report also shows other areas where we need to make improvements.

Class Size

On average there are two extra pupils in Irish primary classes
compared to

OECD countries. Average class size in Ireland is 24.2. This figure
hides the range of class sizes that can be found in Irish primary
schools, which can still contain 30 or more pupils. The average
class size in Ireland is higher than the average across OECD
countries where the comparable figure is 21.9. Lowest class sizes
are found in Luxembourg (15.6), Iceland (17.9) and Italy (18.1).

In contrast average class size at second level is 21.4 compared to an
OECD average of 23.6. This is because in most countries the number
of pupils per class tends to increase as children move from primary
to second level, in some states by as many as four students. Only in
Ireland, UK, Denmark, Switzerland and Australia do the class sizes

When all non-class teaching staff are included (administrative
principals, learning support teachers etc.) Irish staffing levels at
primary are still well below OECD standards. In Ireland there are
19.5 pupils to every teacher while the OECD average is 16.6.

Country Primary Second Level

Australia 24.9 23.6

Austria 20.0 23.8

Belgium (Fr.) 20.0 21.1

Czech Republic 21.3 23.3

Denmark 19.4 19.1

France 22.3 24.1

Germany 22.2 24.6

Greece 17.2 22.9

Hungary 20.5 21.2

Iceland 17.9 19.2

Ireland 24.2 21.4

Italy 18.1 20.7

Japan 28.7 34.2

Korea 35.7 37.3

Luxembourg 15.6 19.9

Mexico 20.6 29.9

Poland 21.1 24.5

Slovak Republic 20.8 23.3

Spain 19.4 24.4

Switzerland 19.7 18.7

United Kingdom 26.0 24.7

Average 21.9 23.6



The recent referendum on citizenship has created distress in
immigrant communities at the negative attitudes directed toward them.
Their fears were confirmed when an RTE exit poll found that 36
percent of Yes voters thought the country is being exploited by

It is now time to reverse this negative image by recognising positive
contributions that immigrants have made to Irish society. A tangible
way to do this would be to provide an amnesty for immigrants.

During the referendum debate, Justice Minister Michael McDowell said
that when the Citizenship Bill has been passed, we can address the
existing people in Ireland without feeling we are creating
precedents? (Irish Times 14th June 2004).

It is now time to act.

Why an Amnesty?

There are a number of reasons why an amnesty should be granted:

Deportations are costly and traumatic. Special planes are chartered.
People are forcibly removed. Children who have been brought up
speaking English are suddenly uprooted from friends and a familiar
environment and have to learn a new language and a new culture.

11,000 families applied for residency based on having an Irish born
child. Some withdrew applications for asylum on the basis that being
a parent of an Irish child would allow them to stay here.

However, are not the rights of 11,000 Irish children today being
rendered ineffective because their parents can be deported? Why
should one Irish citizen be forced into becoming a ward of the court,
while others have a right to enjoy access to their parent?

Beyond these 11,000 families, there are many more immigrants who have
been in Ireland for a number of years and have found themselves in a
legal limbo. Many of these have made a major contribution to the
Irish economy, whether through working legally or illegally.

However, their illegal status has rendered them open to gross
exploitation. One of the major contributory factors for the Celtic
Tiger was growth in labour participation rates, due, mainly, to
immigrants and women joining the workforce. The number of women
entering the labour force has begun to taper off since 1999,
therefore immigrants are likely a still more important role in the

According to the Irish Labour Market Review, the largest increase in
the medium term in the Irish economy will be in services, which the
labour force is set to rise by 18 percent. It is precisely in these
areas, that many immigrants currently find work.

They should therefore be granted an amnesty so that they can make a
full and open contribution to the Irish economy. Amnesties for
immigrants have been introduced in a number of industrialised
economies. In 1992, Non-EU immigrants to Portugal who had lived there
for six months were granted an amnesty. It was deigned to benefit the
tens of thousands of African who had come from Portugal's former
colonies. Canada introduced an amnesty in 1973 with the approval of
all parties and 39,000 people benefited from it. Most recently, a new
amnesty has been announced to address the needs of the labour market.
Undocumented workers are being given temporary visas and are then
eligible to apply for permanent status after 2 years.

In 1986, the US government offered an amnesty. It is again currently
offering an amnesty programme for the 8 to 11 million illegal
immigrants. It is granting 3-year work visas to previously
undocumented immigrants.

Amnesties have been offered for the simple reason they make sense.
They recognise the reality that many immigrants will stay here
permanently despite the myth that they are only here as guest workers.

Irish people have benefited considerably from amnesty when they were
illegal immigrants. In the 1980s, Bruce Morrison sponsored a Bill for
special visas to be issued to Irish citizens. Almost 50,000 Irish,
many of whom were illegal immigrants, took advantage of the Bill. It
was the official policy of the Irish government to lobby for Irish
illegal immigrants and to seek to have their situation regularised.

Natural justice implies the same situation should pertain here.

The Human Rights Commission and the Irish Bishops conference have
already called openly for an amnesty. It is now vital that other
organisations in Irish society come forward and support this call.

The African Social Forum believes that a broad coalition should be
formed to support the call for an amnesty.

We would therefore like to invite as many groups and individuals as
possible to attend a public meeting for a campaign for Amnesty For

It will take place on Saturday 18th September at 2pm in Liberty Hall,
Eden Quay, Dublin.

African Social Forum:
Tel: 086-3152597

or Joe Carolan
Amnesty for All Campaign:
087 9032281




Anti-Racist Network

Dear Comrades,

We have an excellent new website thanks to Michael Scott.

Check it out on

[From Barbara]



Sunday September 19th

James McPhilemy/Alex Patterson Commemoration in Strabane
2:00 assemble


Sat 25 September 2004
St Patrick's Centre, Downpatrick
From 9:30 until 12:00

Political Visions of the Future

Peter Robinson says Yes, Ian Paisley says No, then maybe. John de
Chastelain arrives back in town. The IRA will decommission,
they'll dissolve, they'll disappear.

Facts or fantasies?

With the Leed's Castle Talks about to get under way Community
Dialogue is bringing together four of the people who will run
Northern Ireland if the outcome is successful. They are all MLAs and
the Talks will decide if Northern Ireland is going to be run by our
own Assembly or by Direct Rule Ministers from Britain.

Jim Wells (DUP), Willie Clark (Sinn Fein), Dermot Nesbitt (UUP), and
Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) will come together to debate the issues.

Some of the questions they will address are:

§ Can the DUP and Sinn Fein work together in Government?

§ If so, what changes have to take place first and by whom?

§ Why will this Government be better than Direct Rule?

§ Will the new Government ignore the Community Sector, or will
they treat it on a par with business and farming?

§ If not, how do they think we will get rid of sectarianism and
overcome our divisions?

Community Dialogue are expecting a big crowd at this important
seminar. As always, the main focus will not be on the platform
speakers but on those who attend. They will be asked for their views
and given the opportunity to express them forcefully.

This is an opportunity for the MLAs to listen to the people, and for
the people to listen to the MLAs.

As Northern Ireland faces perhaps its most important political week
since the signing of the Belfast Agreement this seminar could not be
more timely.

For further information contact:

Kay Nellis
Tel: 028 4381 6670


Saturday September 25th 1-6pm

What sort of anti-racism do we need?

A day of talks and discussion, organised by the WSM, with speakers
from anti-racist and immigrant groups Saturday September 25th 1-6pm,
Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin

A screening of "Holiday Camp" a documentary on the Woomera Asylum
Seeker camp break out will take place from nine in the same venue.
After the passing of the citizenship referendum, nobody can deny that
racial prejudice is widespread in Ireland. Workers Solidarity
Movement members, who were active in the Campaign Against the Racist
Referendum, are hosting this meeting as a contribution to the
discussion about how best to combat racism. Admission is free and
everyone is welcome.

A video Screening of "Holiday Camp" will take place after the 'Ideas
and Action' from nine in the Teachers Club. The pivotal action of
this documentary is the detention centre breakout, which occurred as
part of a five-day long direct action camp established next to the
razor wire fences at Woomera, a detention centre for asylum seekers
in Australia.

Holiday Camp reclaims the voices of the marginalised, and connects
the issues of Indigenous dispossession, genocide, constructions of
race and incarceration policies, which are often portrayed as
unrelated. The film suggests that the policy of mandatory detention
and raising of borders to protect fortresses of privilege make us all

1pm Welcome

1:30pm The Origins of Racism. Where does it come from, is it natural,
is it manufactured?

2:15pm Experiences of racism in Ireland today. Immigrant, migrant and
traveller speakers invited.

3:00pm Break.

3:15pm Practical campaigning. Speakers from new initiatives on work
permits and female genital mutilation.

4:00pm Anti Racism. Groups. Residents Against Racism, The Belfast

Anti-Racist Network and the Fascists Out Campaign have been invited
to talk about their aims and activities

4:45pm Break

5:00pm What Sort of Anti-Racism do we need? An open discussion about
the sort of movement we need to build if we are to effectively combat

9pm A Screening of "Holiday Camp" and Social.


30 September 2004
Senate Room, Queen's University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast, The School of Politics and International
Studies, The Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict, in conjunction
with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), present a one
day conference: "Interpreting Ongoing Crises in the Northern Ireland
Peace Process: Civil Society Dimensions."

Speakers include: Professor Rupert Taylor (University of the
Witwatersrand), Dr Feargal Cochrane (Lancaster University), Robin
Wilson (Democratic Dialogue), Dr Christopher Farrington (QUB), Dr
Cathal McCall (QUB), Michael Potter (Training for Women Network),
Roisin McGlone (SICDP), Debbie Watters (Shankill Alternatives), Cllr
Mark Langhammer (Labour Party).

Places will be strictly limited. If interested please contact
Christopher Farrington, School of Politics and International Studies,
Queen’s University Belfast,, 028 9097


Saturday, 9 October 2004

Young Women Talk Participation and Power

Call for Participants and Facilitators To a Young Women's Political

St Columb's Park House, 4 Limavady Road, Derry/Londonderry, Northern

What it is about:

The event will provide the space for you...

To meet and share your experiences of being a young woman interested
in local and global issues.

To discuss the barriers that prevent you from participating in public
and political activities.

To explore the different methods employed by organizations and
political parties throughout the world to promote the inclusion of

To identify and develop strategies to achieve the full participation
of young women.

To put forward practical proposals to decision makers to achieve this

Who will be there?


Will be aged between 16 and 30.

Will come from minority ethnic communities and the majority

Will be lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or heterosexual.

Will have a disability or not.

Will have children or not.

Will share an interest or an involvement in political activism,
community work, NGOs, local and global issues.

Female elected representatives who share, listen and want to support
younger women into leadership and decision-making.

What does it cost?

NOTHING -- the event is free of charge and includes lunch. We will
subsidise travel expenses and childcare/care allowance. There is a
bus going from Belfast to Derry/L'Derry.

Are you interested in volunteering your skills to facilitate small
group discussions in the afternoon?

We invite young women who enjoy facilitating discussions and who have
some experience in this to please tick the appropriate box in the
attached registration form. We will get in contact with you for
further information.

Interested in participating?

Please return attached registration form to St Columb's Park House or
contact Charlotte, Tel: 028 7134 3080, Email:, or
Carola, Tel: 028 9024 3363, Email:


10.30am: Registration, Tea and Coffee

11.00am: Welcome by Carola Speth, Women into Politics

11.15am: 'Women in Decision-Making: An Overview of the Situation in
Europe,' Cecile Greboval, European Women's Lobby

11.25am: 'Quotas & Votas: Engender's Role in the 50/50 Campaign,'
Lorna Ahlquist, Engender Scotland

11.35am: 'If you can't see a space for yourself, build one of your
own,' Barbary Cook, Queer Activist

11.45am: Question & Answer Session

12.00 noon: WORKSHOPS

1.15pm: Lunch

2.00pm: Feedback from workshop groups

2.25pm: Discussion and Dialogue, Chair: Susan McReynolds, Presenter
on BBC Radio Foyle

3.25pm: Evaluation and Action Points

3.55pm: Closure by Charlotte Cox, St Columb's Park House

Who we are.

Women into Politics (WiP) is a cross-community project which actively
encourages the full participation of women in public and political
life by providing and promoting dialogue, advocacy and training. WiP
is independent of all political parties and works with women in all
their diversities. The project is based on feminist principles and
grounded in a community development ethos.

St Columb's Park House runs a number of projects promoting peace-
building, political dialogue, active citizenship, political literacy
and human rights. The Political Youth Forums programme brings
together members of political parties and youth wings aged 18-30
from across the UK and the island of Ireland to discuss policy issues
of common concern.

Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the Community Relations Council NI
via Peace II and Atlantic Philanthropies.


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