Web site http://www.theplough.netfirms.com
Vol. 4- No 8
Wednesday 21st March 2007
E-mail newsletter of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) Coalition Against Water Charges
3) 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE TREATY OF ROME
4) RSYM Statement on Noel Maguire
5) Trade Union News
a. ATGWU insists ESB break-up will not benefit consumers
b. Solidarity with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
a. The Perspectives of the IRSP
b. Is the SEA prepared to engage with the IRSP?
7) What’s On?
This edition carries material from the Coalition Against Water Charges and we advise all activists to read and absorb the material therein. All over the North meetings have been held on this issue and there is no doubt that it is one current issue that has the potential to unite people as never before. Unfortunately there are a number of so called “campaigns” on the water issue set up so that this or that group could claim “leadership” of the struggle. Real leadership is however something that is not achieved by self-proclamation but is earned during the actual course of not one but many struggles. Some groups on the left seem to think that they and they alone are the real leaders of the class struggle and refuse to even acknowledge the existence of other socialists or Marxists or republicans. They do socialism a grave disservice. We say this not in a spirit of political sectarianism but in a spirit of regret. The forces for socialism are so small, squeezed, as we are between two major sectarian blocks that the prospects might seem bleak to reach out to the majority of workers and convince them that the struggle for a socialist republic is worthwhile.
But the IRSP has optimism in the working class and we approach each issue from the perspective of does this or that action or position advance or hinder the forward march of the working class. For that reason we reject nationalism. As republicans we bitterly resent those in the PRM who embraced the same narrow nationalism that republican had for generations rejected. Irish nationalism today stands as a reactionary tool to divide people just as unionism does. That is also one of the reasons why we rejected the Good Friday Agreement. We certainly do not deny the progressive nature of the struggle for an independent Ireland but we have always argued that the struggle for independence neither can nor be achieve without the struggle for socialism. We reject any struggle for a capitalist united Ireland.
In saying that we recognise that there is a huge task ahead of us all to win the majority of workers to our socialist perspective. We certainly will not do that by embracing the same kind of political sectarian approach that others have. We have made political criticism of other republican and socialist groups. But that has never been a barrier to us co-operating on issues on the ground. For in struggle is how we all learn.
For that reason it was good that Fred Weston from the International Marxist Tendency could briefly address an Ard-Comhairle meeting of the IRSP and share his groups perspective on Ireland today and pass on some of the lessons learnt from international struggles.
We cannot ignore international issues and that is a reason why we include material on the European Union. National independence under capitalism has all but disappeared as the advances of Globalisation transform the world. The lessons of struggles worldwide have to be absorbed by the militants of the Irish working class. We may act locally but we need to think globally.
Coalition Against Water Charges
The government’s case for charges.
The government set about the introduction of water taxes a number of years ago. Their arguments for the introduction of the charges were as follows:
• That the Water Service was in desperate need of upgrading.
• That the service was rundown and dilapidated, many of the pipes having been laid over 100 years ago.
• That leakage of clean water was close to 30 per cent.
• That the demands on the service, because of population growth and the growth of new water based appliances, dishwashers, washing machines etc were going to increase.
• That the European Government directive on water, demanded a certain standard in cleanliness of water and this had to be implemented by 2010.
Few people could disagree with the idea that the water service needs an upgrade. All sorts of difficulties exist with the present system: Sewerage is pumped out into the sea, water is sometimes of poor quality and leakage is high.
The government argued that they had no funds to upgrade the service and would need to find funds from another source. They suggested charges and consulted on this.
At the consultations, the government argued:
• That we, the public, didn’t pay for water.
• That there was no allocation in the rates bill for water.
• That according to the European Framework Directive the water service had to be self-financing.
That the only way to get the funds required for an upgrade was to introduce charges
The government’s case is flawed.
• We do pay for our water through the regional rate.
•We pay approximately 40% of our regional rate to the water service.
•While there may no longer be a direct allocation on the rates bill that is where they get the money for the service.
• The European Framework Directive does not say that the water service has to be self-financing; all it says is that there had to be an adequate contribution.
• There are any number of ways the government could get the funds to pay for the upgrade of the water service. They have found billions for other projects.
• The government is committed to the privatisation of public utilities.
•That is the real reason behind the introduction of the charges.
The government has said a number of times that it considers privatisation a more efficient and cost effective method of running public services.
There is no evidence to support this view if anything all the evidence points in the other direction.
When privatisation takes place:
• The service becomes less efficient.
• There is less money spent on infrastructure upgrades.
• Staff numbers are reduced.
It is the view of Communities against Water Taxes that:
• Water is a basic human right and that it should be provided for all citizens through a publicly owned service.
• It should not be sold off to major multinationals or even locally owned companies where the sole reason for running the service becomes a commitment to maximising profit.
In England and Wales where privatisation has taken place the water service has increased prices dramatically.
The quality of water is poor and many people have to reduce the amount of water they use to reduce their water bills.
This often means not flushing toilets, having baths or showers and generally putting their health at risk
•We are suggesting that people refuse to pay their water bills.
•We know this is a big decision for many but it is the only decision that people can take which can defeat the government’s campaign.
•The government is going to introduce any number of measures to force us to pay.
•At the moment it is not a criminal offence to refuse to pay. The government is looking at introducing new legislation to take people who don’t pay to the magistrate’s court where we would need a solicitor to represent non-payers. CAWT is preparing a legal fund if this eventuates.
The more people who don’t pay the more likely it is we can win!
We at CAWT are saying that no-one should have to pay twice and that water should remain in public hands.
We oppose Peter Hain’s privatisation agenda.
We are suggesting that a mass campaign of non-payment will force the government to find the money somewhere else.
Water Charges were defeated in Dublin and
The Poll tax was beaten in the UK using this method
Coalition Against Water Charges
Water Tax is a Double Tax
Yet we already pay for our water through our local rates 37% of our rates bill currently goes to the Water Service. That’s why water charges are a double tax. The average household at present pays £225 per year towards water and sewerage services. If the Water Tax is not beaten water charges will rocket. The water company will be privatised and the demand for rising profits will lead to massive water bills. No household will be exempt from water bills — not pensioners, the unemployed or those on benefits. The reduced tariff for people on benefits could be scrapped in 2 years time.
The Water Tax can be beaten but not without a battle. If households refuse to pay, money cannot simply be deducted from wages. This can only be done by taking people through the courts. If we stay united they cannot take tens of thousands to court. Amass non-payment campaign would make the water tax dead in the water! We urge households to unite and ensure that no-one is left isolated. This means building a grassroots campaign of non- payment in every community. Non-payment and a legal campaign defeated the poll tax. 40% of people refused to pay. The courts and the system were totally clogged up and paralysed.
The Water Tax cannot be implemented if tens and hundreds of thousands of families say: “The
Water Tax is a Double Tax — Don’t Pay Water Charges!”
H OUSEHOLD WATER bills averaging £100 per year will begin coming through your door on 1st April 2007. In 2 years this will treble to £334, at least. THE Water Tax can be beaten. The poll tax was defeated in Britain in 1990. In Dublin water charges were abolished in 1996. Both were defeated by a mass non-payment campaign and a legal campaign to defend non-payers.
Don’t Pay Water Charges
email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.waterchargesnonpayment.com
(1) 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE TREATY OF ROME - TEN POINTS WORTH BEARING IN MIND
Anniversary: Sunday next, 25 March 2007
1. THE EU'S MYTH OF ORIGIN: The myth of origin of the EU is that it was a peace project designed to make war impossible between France and Germany. The truth is however that it was the American Government's insistence on German rearmament to meet the needs of the Cold War that precipitated the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950, which was the foundation of European integration. The pooling of coal and steel under a supranational authority, the precursor of the Brussels Commission, was crucial in overcoming French hostility to rearming its ancient enemy. Jean Monnet, America's man in the affair, saw it as a way of pursuing the project for a supranational Europe, which he had been nurturing since World War 1. It was the Cold War, not the EEC - later the EC and EU - that kept the peace in Europe between the end of World War 2 in 1945 and the end of the USSR in 1991. During that time neither America nor Russia would have permitted a war between the member States of either rival bloc. After 1991 war broke out again in Europe, in Yugoslavia and Chechnya.
2. THE DREAM OF WORLD POWER OF THE EU'S FOUNDING MEMBERS: The six founding members of the original EEC had all been, apart from Luxembourg, imperial powers, with colonies and dependencies in Africa and elsewhere. France, Germany, Italy, Holland and Belgium were defeated and occupied during World War 2. After that war they found themselves in a world dominated by the two superpowers, the USA and USSR. Their traumatised political classes were still nostalgic for world power. They decided that if their countries could no longer be Big Powers in the world on their own, they would seek to be a Big Power collectively through the EU/EC. One formula for understanding the EU is this: Take five broken empires, add a sixth one later - Britain - and try to make one big neo-colonial empire out of it all.
3. THE NEED TO REPATRIATE LAWS FROM BRUSSELS TO THE MEMBER STATES: Two-thirds of all legal acts in the 27 EU Member States now come each year from Brussels. Only one-third originates in each Member State. This shows the loss of national democracy and independence entailed by membership of the European Union. The first step in remedying the EU's widely admitted democratic deficit is to repatriate policy-making powers from Brussels to the Member States. Any new EU Treaty should provide for this. Despite much rhetoric about subsidiarity from the EU Commission, there is not a single example in the 50 years of European integration of a national power that was surrendered to Brussels being repatriated. What is known in EU jargon, as the "acquis communautaire" is sacrosanct. That is why some call it the "doctrine of the occupied field". What Brussels has once occupied, stays occupied.
4. THE PUZZLE AS TO WHY NATIONAL POLITICIANS WELCOME THE GROWTH OF EU POWERS: Government Ministers and aspiring Ministers welcome the transfer of powers from the national level to the supranational because it means a big increase in their own personal power, at the cost of a diminution in power for their own Parliaments and fellow citizens. At national level if a Minister wants to get something done, he or she must have the support of that country's national Parliament. Remove that particular policy area to Brussels however, where laws are made primarily by the EU Council of Ministers, and the Minister in question, who is part of the executive arm of government at national level and responsible to an elected parliament, becomes a powerful legislator at EU level - one of an oligarchy, a committee of lawmakers, making laws for 500 million people as a member of the exclusive club of the EU Council of Ministers, which is irremovable as a group. Simultaneously senior national civil servants, who prepare EU laws in interaction with the Commission bureaucracy, are freed from questioning by their fellow citizens. There is an intoxicating increase in personal power for the politicians and bureaucrats concerned, and a corresponding reduction in the power of their fellow citizens, national Parliaments and countries.
5. THE EU CANNOT HAVE A STABLE DEMOCRATIC BASIS BECAUSE A EUROPEAN PEOPLE, AN EU "DEMOS", DOES NOT EXIST: Democracy means rule by the people, the "demos". There cannot be a political democracy without a people, a "demos", a national community, a "we", whose members feel sufficient solidarity and mutual identification with one another as to induce minorities freely to obey majority rule. Minorities are willing to do this because they regard the majority as their majority, that is, as belonging to their own people and national community and as having the democratic legitimacy and authority which derive from that. This normally requires that people are able to communicate with one another in a common language, and share the same territory, culture, historical experiences etc. That is why democracy can exist at the level of Europe's ancient national communities. There is however no European people or "demos" that transcends and is superior to Europe's many nations and peoples, and one cannot be artificially created from above by Brussels. The EU can therefore never be a genuine democracy. Cooperation between Europe's countries can only be built from the bottom up, with the free agreement of the peoples, not from the top down at the behest of political and economic elites who aspire to build a European superstate which they see themselves as running.
6. THE EURO CANNOT ENDURE WITHOUT A POLITICAL AND FISCAL UNION; YET THE LATTER IS IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE THE NECESSARY EU SOLIDARITY DOES NOT EXIST: All independent States have currencies of their own and all currencies belong to independent States. A currency is necessary to enable a State to influence its rate of interest and exchange rate in the economic interests of its people. The interest rate is the domestic price of a currency and determines the cost of credit to citizens. The exchange rate is the price of the currency in terms of other currencies and is a key influence on a country's economic competitiveness. Abolishing one's national currency and replacing it with the euro means that a country surrenders control of its rate of interest and exchange rate to the European Central Bank in Germany, which is independent of all government control. The ECB's prime concern is not the welfare of the country in question, but what it decides is in the interest of the eurozone as a whole. In practice this means the interest of the eurozone's largest members, Germany and France. The euro is a political project designed to give the European Union one of the key features of supranational statehood, using economic means that are quite unsuitable for that purpose. "The two pillars of the nation State are the sword and the currency, and we have changed that," boasted Commission President Romano Prodi in 1999. However there is no example in history of a lasting currency union that was not part of one State, and therefore also part of a political union and fiscal union, with the common taxes and public services which all national States possess. The existence of such common taxes and services serves to compensate to some extent the poorer regions of a national currency union for their inability to balance their payments with others by utilizing their own interest rate and exchange rate. Yet there is no possibility of the EU having common taxes and public services because the solidarity that is needed to underpin these - the solidarity that induces richer regions to finance transfers to poorer ones within each individual country - does not exist at the EU level. The euro-currency therefore cannot last. It is only a matter of time before the strains that stem from its member countries being unable any longer to control their own interest rate or exchange rate must force some countries to leave the eurozone.
7. THE EU'S EROSION OF NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP: All independent States have evolved over generations the right to decide who are their citizens, in order to maintain their labour standards or their social cohesiveness as communities. They are free to decide for themselves the rules they apply for giving rights of citizenship to people born in other countries. But in the European Union such fundamental features of citizenship as the right to residence, to work, to buy property, to receive social maintenance when dependent, and to vote in local elections, are automatically extended by supranational EU/EC law, following a transition period, to whatever proportion of the population of the other 26 member countries decides to settle in a particular country. Thus rights of EU citizenship displace key rights of national citizenship as part of the effort to turn the EU into a supranational State, in which European citizenship and allegiance to a new country called "Europe" will transcend and be legally superior to one's national citizenship and allegiance.
8. THE PROPOSED EU CONSTITUTION AIMS TO MAKE US REAL CITIZENS OF A NEW EUROPEAN UNION IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL FORM OF A SUPRANATIONAL EU STATE: The Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe proposes to do this by five precise legal steps: (1) This Treaty would repeal all the existing EU/EC Treaties and thereby replace the existing EU and EC with a new European Union that would be founded like any State upon its own Constitution; (2) It would transfer the powers and institutions of the existing EU/EC to this new Union, which would have the authority to decide all areas of public policy for its Member States either actually or potentially; (3) It would give this new Union legal personality so that it could act as a political entity in its own right, distinct from and superior to its individual Member States, whether as regards their domestic or foreign policy. At present it is the EC, as part of the current EU, that has legal personality; (4) It would make the Constitution of this new Union and the laws made under it superior to the Constitution and laws of its component Member States; (5) It would make us all real citizens of this new Union, and not just nominal or honorary EU citizens as at present, so that EU citizenship would be constitutionally superior to the citizenship attaching to one's own country or State. That is why the proposed EU Constitution or any replacement Treaty based upon it that would seek to replace the existing EU/EC by a new Union with its own legal personality should be opposed by democrats across Europe, irrespective of their views on other things.
9. WHY PEOPLE SHOULD SUPPORT THE INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT IN DEFENCE OF NATIONAL DEMOCRACY: The thrust of the EU integration project is to erode the democracy of the nation States of Europe. Internationalism presupposes the existence of nations. The champions of EU integration are seeking in effect to erode the democratic heritage of the French Revolution - the right of nations and peoples to self-determination - in order to clamp a form of financial feudalism on Europe. Hence democrats in every EU country, whether they are on the political centre, right or left, have a common interest in taking part in the international movement in defence of national democracy against the EU.
10. FURTHER EU ENLARGEMENT DOES NOT NEED AN EU CONSTITUTION: Enlargement of the EU beyond the 27 Members provided for by the 2002 Treaty of Nice can be done in the Accession Treaties of the new States concerned, as was done with previous EU enlargements. It does not require institutional changes or a Constitution that would centralise the EU further and make it even less democratic.
(These points have been issued by the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9, Ireland; Tel.: 00-353-1-8305792; Please feel free to copy, pass on and adapt them as desired, without any need of reference to its source.)
RSYM Statement on Noel Maguire 20/3/07
The Republican Socialist Youth Movement support entirely the campaign to re-patriate Noel Maguire, an Irish Republican POW denied his human rights as a political prisoner.The collaboration of the Free State government in this regard has been sickening to say the least. It is open season for collaboration with the imperialist forces of Britain and the USA.
The case of Noel Maguire is just one case in a long line of political hostages, all of this at a time when the struggle for Irish freedom is something, we are told, that is a thing of the past.
The Good Friday Agreement is a cul-de-sac and compromise that ensures the Noel Maguire case is not an isolated incident. There will be many more men in the position of Noel as long as Britain occupies the north of our country.
We wish Noel, and all Irish Republican prisoners of war the best for the future. Their struggle is ours and we will campaign on their behalf.
Ni saoirse go saoirse lucht oibre.
Trade Union Issues
ATGWU insists ESB break-up will not benefit consumers
[Published: Wednesday 14, March 2007 - 07:54]
One of main unions at the ESB has claimed the Government's plans to break up the company will be bad for both workers and consumers. Earlier this week, Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey announced plans to transfer control of the national grid infrastructure to a new semi-state company, Eirgrid.
Mr Dempsey said the move would boost competition and benefit consumers.
However, the ATGWU says the move is unjustified and will not reduce consumers' bills by one cent.The union, which is due to publish its formal response to the plan today, says breaking up the ESB will damage the company for no good reason and workers will not stand by and allow it to happen.
Zimbabwe: Solidarity with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions - for human rights and the rule of law
The crisis in Zimbabwe has its origins in the misdeeds of President Mugabe's autocratic regime and its mismanagement of the economy. The economy is on the verge of collapse, with officially confirmed hyperinflation at 1,700% per year. The country’s GNI shrank by 54% in 2000-2005 while unemployment today stands at over 80%. Protests against the regime have been led by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU - the ITUC affiliate in Zimbabwe), student, youth and church groups. Since the disputed re-election of President Mugabe in 2002, there has been a steady deterioration in human rights and the economy, reducing Zimbabwe to a land of penury and starvation. In 2005, more than 30,000 arrests were made and hundreds of urban dwellings were demolished under the guise of "a clean-up campaign" aimed at workers in the informal economy who had been increasingly turning to the trade unions. In September 2006, a large number of trade unionists and human rights activists were arrested and brutally assaulted following a peaceful protest over the state of the economy and shortages of essential medicines. Alarmed at the growing willingness to oppose the regime openly, including from within the ruling ZANU-PF party, the regime has banned political protests for three months, especially to prevent protests against the Government's economic failures. But the ZCTU and others have responded by stepping up their criticisms and protests, and a general strike has been announced for 3-4 April. Over the weekend of 10-11 March, the security services violently attacked opposition leaders and on 13 March, raided the offices of the ZCTU to seize materials about the strike.
=====================================================================From the Media
The comprehensive coverage and detailed analysis in The Plough, Vol 4, No 7, was interesting and heartening. With the votes counted in the latest Assembly elections the perspectives of the IRSP stand fulfilled almost to the letter.
As you correctly point out (and predicted in your earlier material) the electorate in the north could grasp only the immediacy of the objective situation and were overpowered in this sense to embrace the sectarian camp they felt was best placed to represent their particular interests.
The present epoch is undoubtedly a difficult one for the working class in the 6 counties for obvious reasons - indeed it is unique. However, the skillful exploitation of the people by the myriad of personalities will in the last analysis prove to be false.
You are correct when you make the point that the lefty groupings are in real danger of becoming “sects”. Similarly, the coming period will vindicate your well-founded criticism of the Good Friday Agreement as events unfold - a position the IRSP have held for years. The consciousness of the class, as is always the case - is lagging behind events to a certain extent.
Yet, where candidates like Eamon McCann in Foyle and Peggy O’Hara stood on an uncompromising, bold, socialist programme, the favourable electoral results were an indication of a changing mood which will develop as the crises unfold in the future.
Your editorial, while far from exhaustive, covered all the points necessary at this stage and offers concrete proof that there is no substitute for the correct theory, ideas, principles and grasp of history when applied to the objective conditions. It was mature and developed, shining through and exposing the compromise politics being served up to the people of the north as being the only way forward at this time.
In fact, the way forward as proposed by SF and others will prove backward. I was also pleased that IRSP resisted merely denigrating Republicans and Nationalists but clearly and honestly documented the truth about the facade of promulgation explaining why it is doomed to fail the working people of Ireland.
Yours for socialism,
Member of National Union of Journalists (Personal Capacity)
Re"editor's reply" to my letter about the SEA in The Plough vol4-7
You end with a question: Is the SEA prepared to engage with the IRSP? At the moment I can only answer this in personal capacity and my answer isn't any different from what it would have been one, two, three years ago: Of course I would engage with anybody who is wanting a broad left alternative and overcome the hindering, backwards sectarian divide. I can't give the answer for the group SEA but will make sure this communication gets to the members and supporters.
Thursday 22 March, 7 p.m. International Women's Day event
Doffers and Dockers: Belfast Industrial Struggles, 1906-7
Speaker: Theresa Moriarty
(Author of biographies of Delia Larkin of the Irish Women Workers' Union and
Mary Galway of the Textile Operatives' Society of Ireland). Chairperson:
Dawn Purvis (T&GWU). Linen Hall Library (Fountain Street)
Organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
We Won't Pay Campaign Meetings
7.30pm Monday 26th March
Larne Leisure Centre
7pm Wednesday 28th March
Millgreen Youth Centre
Shankill Rd, Belfast
7pm Thursday 29th March
Shankill Leisure Centre
Coalition Against Water Charges
c/o ,4-6 Donegall Street Place Belfast 028 90247940
email: email@example.com www.waterchargesnonpayment.com
Sat. 31st March @1.00pm
Assemble: Art College, York Street, BelfastDemo
Coalition Against Water Charges
BLOWING THE LID ON THE WAR ON TERROR
Former CIA Agent talks about his experiences in Latin America as an undercover operative
With a screening of a documentary film by Bernie Dwyer and Roberto Ruiz:
‘ONE MAN’S STORY: PHILIP AGEE, CUBA AND THE CIA’
(32 mins, Irish-Cuba Co-Production)
Friday, 30 March 2007
Peter Froggatt Centre
Queen’s University Belfast
17 Donegall Square North
Free the Miami Five Campaign,
Belfast Trades Council
Centre for Global Education
& Cuba Support Group Ireland
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The Republican Socialist Youth Movement have re-launched their website.
It can be viewed at
An Glór / The Voice
News sheet of Belfast Republican Socialist Youth Movement
- Brit police never acceptable
- Maghaberry Prison protest continues
- Assets Recovery Agency, a question of money
- Support the Turkish death fast
- Ard Fheis rejects any move towards INLA decommissioning
- Volunteer Davy McNutt RIP
The Republican Socialist Youth Movement have produced a short video on the situation concerning Shannon airport and its continued use by American troops and the CIA. The video can be viewed at
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