Volume 2, Number 10
24 October 2004
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
1. Success for the Good Friday Agreement?
2. Gap Between the Rich and the Poor
3. From the Newspapers
4. Tax Payers?
5. Danger of Infiltration
6. Europe's Failing Economy Threatens Political Turmoil
7. What's On
SUCCESS FOR THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT?
Catholics twice as likely to be unemployed
Catholics in Northern Ireland are almost twice as likely as
Protestants to be unemployed, according to the latest official figures
published. The unemployment rate for Catholics was 8.1% against a rate
of 4.3% for Protestants, the Labour Force Survey covering 2002
published by the Statistics and Research Agency showed.
In that year the religious composition of the total population aged 16
and over was 57.4% Protestant and 42.6% Catholic.
However the percentage of Catholics aged 16 and over and in employment
in 2002, the last year for which data has been collated, was 41.2%
compared to 58.8% of Protestants.
However the proportion of working age Catholics in employment rose to
61.8% compared to 56.7% in 1990. The proportion of Protestants was
The Labour Force Survey also showed that between 1990 and 2002,
Protestants consistently made up a higher proportion of those in
In 2002 of those in part-time work -- aged 16 and over -- 59.5% were
Protestant and 40.5% Catholic.
GAP BETWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR
According to the 2004 UN Human Development Report, the 26 counties
rank third in the list of the 50 richest nations in terms of GDP per
However they rank 18th in terms of Health expenditure, 28th in terms
of Life Expectancy and 33rd in terns of Education Expenditure.
Spending on social provisions, health and education is below EU norms.
The gap between the rich and the poor has grown so much that the UN
states that the 26 counties have the highest levels of inequality of
all Western countries except the US. The richest 10 percent of the
population are 9.7 times wealthier than the poorest 10 percent. In
spite of its new found prosperity, they have the highest proportion of
people at risk of poverty in the EU. One in five Irish people are
classed as poor, taking home less than 60 percent of the average wage.
(Source: London Guardian, 7 October 2004)
FROM THE NEWSPAPERS
"Allegations of Garda brutality are frequently whispered, particularly
in working class areas. Rarely, if ever, does a case come to court."
(Sunday Tribune, 17 October 2004)
"Ireland of the Welcomes has become Ireland of the Incentives, beloved
of the free marketeers and people addicted to economic statistics.
There is no sign, however that those hurt by the Savage 16 (welfare
cuts) -- the poor, disabled, mentally disabled, unemployed, victims of
violence and all the others -- are celebrating their role in Ireland's
vigorous economic boom." (Sunday Tribune, Editorial, 17 October 2004)
Prominent Fianna Fail backbencher Noel O Keefe dismissed claims that
Sinn Fein is too left wing for Fianna Fail: "It's like the Reds under
the Beds scare in the past. I certainly do not believe Sinn Fein are
Marxists –- they are not." The East Cork TD suggested that the two
parties should sit down after the next election and design a joint
programme for government. He even said he could see a day when Fianna
Fail and Sinn Fein would re-emerge repairing the 1926 split. (Sunday
Business Post, 17 October 2004)
In the 26 counties, "the richest are nearly ten times wealthier than
the poorest ten percent, and Ireland has the highest proportion of
people at risk of poverty in the EU". (Sunday Tribune, 10 October
"The Taoiseach was asked...about the difficulties encountered by
people who want to get on to the ballot paper for presidential
elections here. (there are rules which allow establishment political
parties to prevent independent candidates from running). If it was up
to him, Ahern said, he would make it harder for people to run. 'I
cannot see the point in having a large number of people on an ego trip
to find out how few votes they get' he said. ...Ahern's statement
...makes it clear that dissent or failure to bow to the official
government line... will not be tolerated. Such contempt for the
electorate is becoming more and more common. Abroad we saw it in the
decision to invade Iraq, despite worldwide opposition, while at home
we saw it in the running of the Nice Referendum twice because the
voters didn't come up with the 'correct' result the first time."
(Diarmuid Doyle, Sunday Tribune, 10 October 2004)
A total of 391 of the highest income earners in the 26 counties either
paid a zero rate of tax or a rate of less than twenty percent. Of
these, eleven people with incomes of over one million Euros paid no
taxes at all, and a further 242 people with earnings between 100 000
and one million euros also paid no income tax. Investment schemes in
hotels, car parks, and other property schemes are the main vehicles
used by the wealthy to avoid taxation. Out of 10 828 PAYE taxpayers on
100 000 euros or more, 10 741 are liable for tax at the 42 percent
rate, 40 at the 20 percent tax rate, and 47 a nil net income tax
liability. Out of 9 240 self-employed people earning over 100 000
euros, 8936 are liable for tax at the 42 percent rate, 109 at the
standard rate and 195 no net tax liability. We will all agree with the
Labour Party’s finance spokeswoman that the unequal treatment of
taxpayers arising from the loopholes available for the wealthy is
unacceptable. "It is difficult for the ordinary taxpayer to continue
to accept a situation where people are in crisis situations on
trolleys in hospitals while some of the wealthiest in Irish society
could avoid all obligations to paying a fair share of tax." (Irish
Times, 23 October 2004) Another article in the same paper noted:
"Nobody would believe it. Patients lying on trolleys in corridors in
the 21st century in one of the richest countries in the world."
DANGER OF INFILTRATION
The Dutch intelligence and security service AIVD has a problem. For
the first time ever one of its former employees is spilling the beans
in an unauthorised memoir. Fifty-eight-year old Frits Hoekstra, a
former employee of the AIVD's predecessor, the BVD or internal
security service, has published a book detailing Dutch intelligence
practices aimed at, for instance, infiltrating leftist and communist
movements in the 70s and 80s.
The AIVD is now considering legal action. One of the most interesting
chapters of the book deals with 'Project Mongol' -- a fake Maoist
party called the 'Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands' that was
entirely conceived and run by the BVD itself. The purpose was to gain
insight into the influence of China on Maoist groups in Europe. The
project was so successful that the powers of the day in Beijing saw
the MLPN as the 'best' among the different Maoist fractions in the
Netherlands and received its 'chairman' with due honours. They even
gave financial support to the 'party'. According to Mr Hoekstra, the
CIA was closely involved in the operation, which ended in the late
70s. The BVD also successfully penetrated radical left-wing
organisations, especially one linked to the West-German RAF ('Rote
Armee Fraktion'), Mr Hoekstra writes in his memoirs. "We were there
all the time. We were so well positioned in the cells of that group
that we could prevent actions because of the credibility of our
source." Frits Hoekstra says that the BVD on purpose kept silent about
these operations. "We saw what happened in Germany, with special
legislation on terrorism, with the mobilisation of public opinion
against the RAF. We tried to prevent that kind of hysteria or even
psychosis here in the Netherlands." (Note: A solidarity movement with
Irish republicans was also heavily infiltrated as late as 1991.)
EUROPE'S FAILING ECONOMY THREATENS POLITICAL TURMOIL
Europe's economy is performing so badly that there is a threat to the
EU's continued existence, according to a leaked official report.
The draft report, drawn up by a high-level committee of experts
appointed by EU leaders, and chaired by Wim Kok, the former Dutch
prime minister, is hard-hitting.
It says that the so-called Lisbon agenda adopted by EU leaders four
years ago to make the European economy more flexible and
entrepreneurial, is failing. Many of its targets, intended to be
achieved by 2010, will be "seriously missed", the report says.
"In sum, Europe has lost ground to both the US and Asia; its societies
are under strain; and some ugly political forces are beginning to
manifest themselves," it says.
The draft report warns that the implications of this economic failure
could be devastating for Europe. "What is at risk in the medium to
long run is nothing less than the sustainability of the society Europe
has built, and to that extent, the viability of its civilisation," it
"If Europe cannot adapt...(its) ageing working population will be
unable to sustain the cost of maintaining pensions to Europe's growing
army of pensioners, economic growth will stagnate; institutions will
be faced with contraction and decline."
It also warns that the enlargement of the EU into Eastern Europe will
cause serious difficulties if there is not an improvement in economic
"Their low tax and wage rates attracting inward investment from the
rest of the EU are likely to be a source of growing friction," it
says. "Unless there is some prospect of convergence so that the EU
becomes a genuinely single economy with broadly similar levels of
wages and productivity, these tensions will mount."
The Lisbon agenda, adopted in March 2000, was hailed by Tony Blair as
a turning point for the EU economy. But Gordon Brown has been warning
recently that Europe is failing to respond to the global economic
Neil O'Brien, a spokesman for Britain's Vote No campaign, said: "This
report shows how hard it will be for Tony Blair to sell the European
constitution to the British people."
The 13-member group of experts was appointed in April with the aim of
injecting "renewed stimulus into the Lisbon strategy". Its draft
report warns against further red tape and regulation. "There is now a
growing feeling among Europe's business community that a tipping point
has been reached in which any gains from incremental regulation are
outweighed by the costs."
But it also stops well short of recommending "Anglo-Saxon" style
reforms. Labour market flexibility, it says, should not be seen
"as code for weakening worker rights and protections".
It also calls for "the harmonisation of the corporate tax base
throughout the union". Immigration should be encouraged to offset
the "brain drain" out of the EU.
Among the targets the committee says will not be met are raising the
EU's overall employment rate to 70% and the rate for women to 60%.
(David Smith, Economics Editor, London Times, October 17, 2004)
Human without rights: asylum seekers in the 21st century
An exhibition of photographs by David Levene, Guardian Newspaper
Brought to Belfast by Law Centre (NI) and Refugee Action Group as part
of Belfast Festival at Queens
At: Law Centre (NI), 124 Donegall Street, Belfast
From: Saturday 23 October to Saturday 6 November, 10 am to 4 pm
Closed: Tuesdays and Sundays
Tuesday, 26th October, lunchtime 1.00pm-2.00pm
The following speaker, a Jewish campaigner for Palestinian rights,
will be speaking at an event at Queens University, Belfast (details to
be confirmed) at lunchtime 1.00pm-2.00pm on Tuesday 26th October.
Please take a note of it for your diaries.
Book launch and talk by Adah Kay, co-author of "Stolen Youth -- The
Politics of Israel's Detention of Palestinian Children"
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Queens University 'Friends of
Palestine' are proud to announce Adah Kay, co-author of "Stolen Youth
-- The Politics of Israel's Detention of Palestinian Children" who
will speak about Palestinian children including child prisoners and
the effects the Israeli occupation is having on them. Stolen Youth is
the first book to explore Israel's incarceration of Palestinian
children. Based on first-hand information from international human
rights groups and NGO workers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it also
features interviews with children who have been imprisoned. The result
is a disturbing and often shocking account of the abuses that are
being carried out by Israel, and that have been widely documented by
human rights groups such as Amnesty International, but have never been
addressed by the international community.
The book presents a critical analysis of the international legal
framework and the UN system, arguing that a major failure of these
institutions is their appeal to neutrality while ignoring the reality
of power. The book offers an explanation for these failures by
locating the issue of Palestinian child prisoners within the framework
of the Israeli overall system of control as a long-term political
Adah is the daughter of Jewish refugees. Since 1967 she has opposed
the Israeli occupation. Some years ago she and her husband decided to
go and live in the West Bank to see how they could contribute more
directly. They went in 2002 when Adah volunteered with Defence for
Children International(Palestine Section) and co-wrote "Stolen Youth"
on Palestinian child prisoners. Adah now divides her time between the
UK and the West Bank. She spends much of her time in the West Bank
doing research, writing and workingwith children's NGOs.
Adah trained as a social anthropologist and urban planner. She is
currently Visiting Professor in the Centre for Charity Effectiveness,
City University London. Between 1978-86 she was Senior Research Fellow
and Co-Director of the Housing Research Group at the City University
and then for ten years was Chief Executive of Family Service Units a
national UK NGO that works with families and children.
Halloween Party at the Cumann Ceoil an Chaisleáin
Cumann Ceoil an Chaisleáin/The Castle Folk Club
The John Hewitt Bar
Next Sunday 31st October 2004
With Donegal Super Group "Beyond The Pale"
"Beyond The Pale" are remembered as being legendary gigs at folk
festivals and parties throughout Ireland and Scotland playing to
audiences as far north as Stornaway in the Outer Hebrides. A Celtic
Blues-come-Country and Traditional band they fall into a unique niche,
mixing influences as diverse as The Waterboys, The Pogues and even
If you like your music lively come along and enjoy the experience and
let "Beyond The Pale" take you to Beyond The Pale.
The Line Up:
Mervyn is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. He comes from a jazz
and blues background.
Suzanne is the fiddle player. She is classically trained and has
amazing ability beyond her young years. She plays in the Ulster
Orchestra and teaches music in her spare time.
Lenny plays percussion, flute, whistle, bodhran and anything you might
have a in your handbag! Lenny has played Glastonbury on many
Chris spent a lifetime playing professionally throughout the United
States; he doubles on bass and guitar and has a great voice.
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