(Web site http://www.theplough.netfirms.com/)
Vol. 4- No 15
Wednesday 20th June 2007
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) IRSP Speech at Bodenstown United
3) Not Even A Liberal Democracy!
4) McDowell Invited To The Brigands Table
5) End British army recruitment in schools
6) From the media
7) What’s On
In the Plough Vol 4-14 we carried an account of a conference in Derry and the acceptance of an IRSP proposal to have a united Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown where Tone is buried. The united march took place last Sunday June the 17th when about 300 republicans from a variety of organisations and none took part in the united march. Below we reprint the three major speeches delivered at the grave of Wolfe Tone. No doubt in the coming months all organisations will reflect on what occurred and decide if there should be a next step and if so what it could be. Regardless of whatever decisions organisations take there is certainly one issue that should be looked and that is the continued harassment and persecution of dissent and radicals by the Political Special Branch.
The whole area on Sunday around Bodenstown was swamped by the Free State Special Branch intent on repressing dissent to the policies of the state.
Subsequent to the march members of the IRSP were raided in their homes and arrested in the 26 county state. These actions by the Special Branch are most definitely not a respond to any so called terrorist threat nor a clamp down on criminal gangs but a clear attempt to stop the growth of republican socialist ideas among the young working class activists growing disillusioned with the consensus politics within the state.
Only recently over 300 people picketed a Gardai station in protest at the death of Terence Wheellock after been released from Garda custody. There is little doubt that the Gardai are hated in many working class areas of urban districts in the 26 counties. But when there are questions raised about their behaviour the establishment closes ranks and defend their police force.
There is a duty on all those who value the free expression of political opinion to come together to defend that right of political expression. While it is in the main republicans who bear the brunt of state oppression the Special Branch also victimise those who campaign against any injustice in society. It is time there was a concerted campaign against political victimisation.
IRSP Speech at Bodenstown United
Fellow Republicans, Comrades and friends,
It is indeed an honour and privilege to be asked to speak at this united commemoration for Wolfe Tone. It is also an honour to stand in this place where the founding father of Irish Republicanism is buried. Theobald Wolfe Tone was a radical for his time and one of the few who recognised the importance of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Today many people pay lip service to these ideals but rare indeed is it that they practice them. But those who gather at the grave of Tone have a duty to uphold those values no matter what difficulties and decisions we face. In upholding these universal values we stay true to the real nature of Republicanism. Not for us the artificial fostering of differences, of tribal camps, of us and them, of Catholics and protestants, and British and Irish. All who live and breathe on the island of Ireland have an entitlement to the same rights and duties as every other citizen regardless of religion, race political viewpoint or sexual orientation. That was what Tone meant when he said that he wanted to replace the artificial divisions of catholic protestant and dissenter with the common name of Irishman.
The presence here today of differing shades of republicanism is a clear sign of the times we live in. We in the Republican Socialist tradition say clearly that Irish Republicanism has suffered a grave defeat. Today we point the finger for that defeat clearly at the forces of British Imperialism. There is little to be gained by pointing an accusing finger at anyone other than the British.
Too many times in the past Republicans have allowed themselves to be manipulated into turning on our own. We say no more. No more name calling, no more feuds, no more marginalisation, and exclusion. No more bitterness and divisions. No more!!
Of course what differences we have we should clearly outline them and articulate our positions but without rancour or spite and extending respect to the views of others. Not only is that the right thing to do but it is in the overall interest of republicanism that we do so. For we need to win over the mass of the people to our view and that can’t be done by preaching only to the converted here at Bodenstown.
Where ever there is struggle, protest, strike or demonstrations the banner of Irish Republicanism must be firmly seen providing leadership. That is the way to renew republicanism in the 21st century. W e must become relevant to the lives and aspirations of the ordinary people and our demands and actions strike a cord in the heart of the ordinary men and women in the street.
In today’s world change is the only constant. Everything changes adapts or it dies. We here today must, if Republicanism is to remain relevant, adjust to changing circumstances and times. But never at the cost of our fundamental core beliefs that actually make us what we are.
We in the Irish Republican Socialist Movement are clear about our position that there cannot be independence without socialism nor socialism without independence. For us the liberation of the working class in Ireland is our primary goal. Therefore we seek to win the working class to the banner of socialism. But we clearly recognise that the major contradiction in society is the partition of the island and the continuing presence of imperialism.
Of course there are tactical differences as to how the struggle against Imperialism should be continued. Let me make it clear from this platform that regardless of any tactical differences, (and the Irish Republican Socialist Movement position has been clearly spelt out many times) we have the utmost respect and solidarity with those who take a different road from us. That is why we can work with others around issues such as solidarity with political prisoners. The Irish Republican Socialist Movement expresses our solidarity with all those worldwide who spearhead resistance to both Imperialism and reactionary nationalism. Irish republicanism should never be confused with Irish nationalism. Republicanism is internationalist radical and revolutionary or it is nothing!
Today’s show of unity is but a small step. No one has been asked to sacrifice principle. No one has been asked to compromise their beliefs. A small step. But a journey must always start with one step. Having taken this step let us all evaluate, discuss and debate today’s events and regardless of what decisions individual organisations take as to future steps let us all agree that no one of us has the monopoly or the copyright for Irish republicanism.
All of us here at the grave of Tone, are reasserting the right of our country to be freed from foreign interference. That was noble aim in Tone’s day. It is a noble aim today.
Fellow republicans, comrades and friends today we renew our republican beliefs. Walk away from here today renewed with the determination that come what may the struggle for the establishment of the Republic continues. Up the republic-forward to socialism.
Speech by Gerrry Ruddy IRSP
32 County Sovereignty Movement Oration
A Chairde, Comrades, Fellow Republicans,
We are gathered here today to honour and commemorate Theobald Wolfe Tone, generally recognised as the father of Irish republicanism.
It is a privilege to be asked to address you at this hallowed spot were republicans renew their commitment to bring an end to British Parliamentary Activity in Ireland.
The core tenet of Wolfe Tone’s republicanism was to break the English connection with Ireland.
In other words he belonged to a separatist movement and I am very proud to say that the separatist tradition is very much alive today and we stand united as Irish Republicans whose core tenet is to end the British imposed partition of our country and to end the violation of Irish National Sovereignty.
We in the 32 County Sovereignty Movement recognise the importance of a United Republican forum which allows the republican base alongside the Irish people to debate, discuss and analyse the legitimacy of British Rule in Ireland.
It allows us all to maintain the constitutional position of our respective organisations and through debate and discussion it allows us to make democratic decisions on areas of agreement.
Democracy and democratic accountability is the key to success as republicans move forward to ensure that the republican project is nurtured and made relevant to the Irish people today and in the years ahead.
It is an understatement to say that the undemocratic nature of the GFA and the changes to it made at St Andrews have seriously damaged the advancement of republicanism and has delayed any successful challenge to British interference in Irish affairs.
However, it is equally true to say, that the republican base has had for some time serious reservations about the direction in which they are being led by the Provisional leadership.
This was evident during the public meetings against British Policing in Ireland when hundreds turned out to air their discord at accepting such a police force.
The united voice of Concerned Republicans, Ex POW’s, The IRSP and ourselves in the 32 CSM exposed the lie that the RUC were reformable with a mere name change to the PSNI.
The PSNI are in reality a British police force, it is they who knock on our doors when arresting suspects, it is they who continue to harass and detain us on our own streets, search our cars and intimidate our families because we are Irish.
One of the most frequently asked questions today is what was achieved from the British inspired agreement from the republican point of view?
In truth what has been achieved is worse than nothing because the forces of constitutional nationalism have once again brokered an agreement which accepts that partition can be legitimately permanent.
That agreement was designed to end opposition to British Rule in Ireland.
Its aim was to update and normalise British Rule and to have Irishmen and women administering it.
Those doing so now at Stormont are of the Home Rule tradition and that is a tradition which sees British Parliamentary activity in Ireland as an intrinsic part of Irish politics.
The strategic flaw in negotiations leading up to that agreement was that the integrity and sovereignty of the Irish Nation was not protected which meant that our sovereignty was not recognised by either side. And the depth of this error is all the more compounded when we consider that our own history begged us not to repeat it as those in 1922 did. To quote from
Robert Barton, one of the plenipotentiaries during the Treaty Debates,
“In these preliminaries the English refused to recognise us as acting on behalf of the Irish Republic and the fact that we agreed to negotiate at all on any other basis was possibly the primary cause of our downfall. Certainly it was the first milestone on the road to disaster.”
The negotiators allowed the violation of the rights of the Irish people to continue and the quislings in Dublin facilitated it by abandoning the people in the occupied area when they got rid of the territorial claim.
The Provisional Movement’s flawed analysis allowed this to happen and today the failure of their strategy is coming to fruition.
The undemocratic nature of that leadership is now proven to have had no impact in the politics of the 26 Counties and that experiment is now over. That State does not require two Fianna Fails.
In the occupied 6 counties sectarian politics is the only way those at Stormont can secure votes but in the longer term that too will fail.
In matters relating to social and economic issues it is evident that the parties have only wish lists with no sound evidence, based on research as to how they can deliver on them. They can only deliver what the British government and the civil service allow. They are Prisoners to the whims and self interest of the Queens Shilling.
There is no oppositional politics as it is all based on consensus.
There is no democratic decision making. They are all right wing parties which allow the people to suffer. Eg House prices have soared, our children and grandchildren cannot afford to purchase a home. Public sector housing has ceased being built and those people on low wages are caught in a poverty trap. The health services are in crisis and is being further eroded to the extent that acute care is no longer accessible in many rural areas.
I could go on and on.
However I believe that by coming together with this first small step here today, Republicans United with a clear analysis, a clear strategy, a clear vision and a clear challenge we will become a force which cannot be ignored and with that unity we can ensure that the violation of the rights of the Irish people will not go unchallenged.
This is a new and inspirational time for republicans to advance the spirit of Wolfe Tone’s ideals. And in attempting to do so we can learn from his own basic belief that unity was essential in forging a liberation movement. Pearse also recognised unity as essential and we only have to look at the disparate groups which constituted the Forces Of The Irish Republic which fought in 1916. The template has been forged for us let us avail of it.
There is a lot of work to be done and the more organised republicans become the more we can achieve.
We in the 32 CSM look forward to a close working relationship with all republicans, working together to bring to fruition the republican project.
We do not underestimate the enormity of the task and we are equally aware of the forces against us from the establishment and their propaganda. The deployment of those forces on both sides of the border will have the sole aim of undermining the cause of republican unity. Our greatest defence against them is democracy within all our ranks.
Republicans United and Democratic will not allow anyone to cause such dissention and those interested in becoming part of the debate should be mindful that difficult decisions will need to be taken and that anyone claiming to be republican and sowing the seeds of dissent can only have an ulterior motive.
Lets commit ourselves today at this graveside to not only work together on areas of agreement but to reaffirm that our decisions are democratically reached and we can ensure that never again will a leadership led movement be allowed to use the republican sacrifice to further personal ambition in pursuit of self gain.
Go Raibh MaithAgat
(Delivered by Francis Mackey, National Chairman, 32 County Sovereignty
Ex- POW's & Concerned Republicans against RUC/PSNI & MI5
We have come here today to commemorate the life and legacy of Theobald Wolfe Tone.His life was characterised by the struggle for an Irish Republic and his continuing legacy has been the continuation of that same struggle, passed down from one generation to the next.Many of our lives have been touched in one way or another by that struggle. Our opinions and our values have been shaped by our commitment to the ideal of Irish freedom. Today we renew that commitment.
However ,we must also acknowledge that the difficulties Republicans face today are enormous. The current political status quo,based on the Good Friday Agreement and the restoration of Stormont have done untold damage to the prospects of establishing an Irish Republic.On top of this, the Republican Movement has been split and fragmented beyond recognition. Many of us are disheartened. Many are disgusted by former comrades who betrayed all we fought for and all that Wolfe Tone fought for.
For those who still believe in the Republican cause, the great challenge of re-building the movement has been laid before us. The theme of today’s commemoration is unity amongst Republicans. The fact that this gathering has been jointly agreed among a range of groups and individuals is a small but positive step in the right direction.
There are many thorny issues to be resolved but we are confident that these too can be resolved if we can build up goodwill among the members of the Republican community.There are positive factors too. Vast resources of skills and experience exist within our community. These need to be tapped into and channelled into progressive political actions.
In the interests of building Republican unity, we should be careful not to fall into the trap of vilifying Sinn Fein supporters. For the most part ,it is the leadership who are the villains. It is our job to win back the ordinary Republican people and we are confident of doing this by winning the argument and by making our agenda relevant to our communities, the working class Irish Republican Community.
The recent electoral reversal suffered by Sinn Fein in the Free State has begun to show the limitations of their strategy and has served as a reality check for the more naive who actually believe the Adams-speak that the agreement and Stormont are part of a transition to a United Ireland in time for the centenary of 1916.We know that nothing could be further from the truth. The British occupation has been cemented for the time being, although it is not politically correct to say so in certain circles.
The bottom line is that right now, some degree of unity of mind and purpose among Republicans is essential. Today, we want to send a message out to all Republicans right across the island, to the thousands of ex-prisoners and internees, to the networks of safe houses, to people who were arrested, who protested on the streets or who put a coin into the Prisoners Dependent Fund. .The message is simple: We acknowledge your contribution and we thank you but we need your help again to ensure that the flame is kept alive and have ownership of it. Never a return to any type of fascist leadership.
Ex-POW's and Concerned Republicans against RUC/PSNI & MI5 was a pressure group that served its purpose when Sinn Fein betrayed Republicanism by endorsing the BritishCrown forces. Now, a broader front with a positive agenda is required.
The Ex-POW's group has been dissolved and regrouped to form the Republicans Network for Unity. This network will undertake the tasks we have heard of today and will ensure a proper place for young Republicans who represent the future of us all.Those of us who have experienced all types of oppression have a responsibility to reach and embrace our youth so that they may be aware of all types of danger which will lie ahead. We must guide and advise our young people so that they with our assistance can lead us to the Republic.
Go Raibh Maith Agat
(Speech by B.McFadden)
NOT EVEN A LIBERAL DEMOCRACY FOR MANY
Recently down here in the healthy twenty six counties, healthy that is if we ignore various illness’s such as liver disease, kidney failure, various heart complaints and not to forget the unfortunate victims of street crime i.e. stabbings and kicks to the head. Many of these victims enter the various hospitals via the Accident and Emergency department. This means that these people are not on the list for admission but present themselves, quite rightly, to the A&E department because they feel unwell or have been attacked.
Recently I was one of these people . On Thursday May 3rd 2007 I felt very unwell, in fact I was in agony with severe pains across my abdomen resulting in a temporary collapse. The only logical course of action to take was to present myself at the A&E department of my local hospital in Dublin which, after several examinations, admitted me. After three days in the A&E which in reality acts as an extra ward and casualty I was given a bed on a ward. I was informed by my consultant that due to the severity of my condition I could expect to be in hospital for some time.
I realised that on the 24th May there was to be a general election in the twenty six counties. Surely I would be out of hospital by then to cast my vote wouldn’t I? If this was not to be the case then I naively felt positive that this great liberal democracy, meaning that for one day in every normally five years democracy prevails, arrangements would be in place to facilitate hospital patients to vote. As my stay extended from one week to two I was beginning to wonder whether or not I would be out of hospital to vote on election day. As I went into my third week of hospitalisation I decided it was time to ask my consultant what the chances were of me being out of hospital by Thursday 24th, the election date. My consultant replied “possibly” and that it “depended very much on the test results” which there were many. The question which was running through my mind was how to exercise my democratic right, farcical as it is under the present system of liberal democracy, to vote. I started making enquiries but nobody appeared to have any answers.
On the morning of Tuesday22nd May I took matters into my own hands and telephoned the appropriate department explaining my, and many others, position. I was informed by the official on the other end of the telephone that no such provisions were in place for hospital patients, who could not give ten weeks notice of their impending arrival as an in patient, to cast their vote. I told the official that “this did not sound like democracy to me” and then continued to lecture him on, despite its many faults and distortions, the former Soviet Union had more in common with democracy than this farce which denies a sizable minority of its electorate the right to cast their vote simply because they are unwell. This means that under liberal democracy, where the Liberal part is very much the senior, even on the one day in five (or seven technically under the free state constitution) that small window of democracy is closed if you are unfortunate enough to be in hospital.
The next time some gombeen (sic) masquerading as a politician calls at your door or is speaking on television speaking about democracy, a subject it would appear they have a very limited knowledge of, treat what clap trap comes out of their untruthful mouth with the contempt it deserves. Fortunately I was discharged from hospital on the afternoon of the 24th and did manage to cast my vote. The system we live under is not democracy and never has or been intended to be. However for some people it does not even constitute liberal democracy
McDOWELL INVITED TO THE BRIGANDS TABLE
The Sunday world would not normally be the natural choice of the Irish Republican Socialist Party as a means of gaining information. This would be especially true if a certain person masquerading as a crime reporter had anything to do with any article which the information was gleaned from. However on Sunday, June 3rd 007 there was a story in the above mentioned paper and given the fact that the character outlined above had nothing to do with the article which the following was taken I considered it fair game to use the report on Michael McDowell by Sunday World reporter Sean Boyne.
On Sunday June3rd the paper could ’exclusively’ report on the latest neo liberal antics of ousted TD and Justice Minister for the twenty six counties Michael McDowell. On pages 4 and 5 of the paper Mr Boyne reported, under the headline ’MICK HAIL McDOWELL’, that the former TD ’was invited to join the shadowy club of the worlds most powerful movers and shakers’. The Bilderberg group is one of the most powerful, and certainly secret, gathering of global capitalists on the planet, perhaps even more powerful than the much acclaimed G 8 which, after all only consists of heads of government. The Bilderberg group is made up of ’ the chief political movers, business leaders, bankers, industrialists and strategic thinkers’ and all meetings are shrouded in secrecy. It could be reasonably described as the most highly powered Masonic lodge on the planet which thrives on exploitation and profit, the highest echelon of global capitalism, these people are the ultimate sweaters, grinders and brigands. The article continues to inform us ’The outgoing Justice Minister is one of 135 privileged guests at the very private three day gathering’ which is top secret. ‘VIPs taking part have to pledge not to reveal what’s said at the super secret conclaves. Political leaders, business tycoons, as well as royalty attend the annual meeting and it’s said that participants sometimes go on to take top jobs on the world scene.
Bill Clinton went on to become US President, while John Major and Tony Blair each went on to become UK Prime Ministers after joining Bilderberg conferences’. The question which is begging is could there be a top job for McDowell now that he is associating with the capitalist systems elite? After all McDowell may have said he was “retiring from public life” and, it would appear party politics. However this does not amount to the same as retiring from politics Most of which are nothing to do with one party or another in any country. In fact party politics are well down the league table when it comes to the pecking order of political power. Real power exists outside any parliament or assembly and is held by groups like the Bilderberg group which, if the Sunday World’s article is anything approaching the truth is the top of the league. Could Michael McDowell’s retirement from “public life” and subsequently party politics be anything to do with the possibility that he could be in with a chance of a higher powered job, certainly higher than being a TD and Justice Minister, and definitely less public?. Of course there is another minor detail and that is, if the Bilderberg group is so secret how on earth did the Sunday World know so much about them?. I suppose there are many possibilities, all of them shady, but a stab in the dark is not one of them.
Michael McDowell is the grandson of Eoin MacNeill, nominal leader of the Irish Volunteers in 1916, the man who tried to abort the Easter rising. He later went on to take a high powered job as Attorney General in the free state government and represented the twenty six counties at the table of the Boundary Commission, and we all know the outcome of those farcical talks. Perhaps high powered jobs shrouded in secrecy are a feature of the McDowell genes. A genetic gift bestowed upon certain family members handed down from God!.
End British army recruitment in schools
In response to the decision taken by The Educational Institute of Scotland
to ban the recruitment by the British army in Scottish schools the Republican Socialist Youth Movement have called on trade unions here to adopt a similar policy.
Spokesperson Seán McGowan said “The lessons to be drawn from Scottish trade unions are immense, the EIS represents over 80% of Scottish teachers and although the debate at the conference was tense, there was an overwhelming majority of teachers opposed to recruitment.”
Mr. McGowan continued “For years the British army has been failing to meet
recruitment targets. It is on record that the schools they target when
attempting to recruit people are in the most economically disadvantages
areas. No mention is made of the slaughtering of countless of Iraqi
civilians when young people are promised thousands of pounds and a chance
to see the world.
“The British army and PSNI are openly recruiting and speaking at schools
in west Belfast and other areas. This is done under the auspices of
normalisation of British rule in Ireland. The British army give out free
stickers, t-shirts and glossy booklets full of references to pop culture
as a means to deceive people.”
In conclusion Mr. McGowan said
“The British army have no place in either Ireland, Scotland, Iraq or any of the other places they occupy. It’s up to us to expose and challenge them at every opportunity.”
From the Media
What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq’s Oil for US Companies
By Ann Wright Saturday 26 May 2007
On Thursday, May 24, the US Congress voted to continue the war in Iraq. The members called it “supporting the troops.” I call it stealing Iraq’s oil - the second largest reserves in the world. The “benchmark,” or goal, the Bush administration has been working on furiously since the US invaded Iraq is privatization of Iraq’s oil. Now they have Congress blackmailing the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people: no privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction funds.
This threat could not be clearer. If the Iraqi Parliament refuses to pass the privatization legislation, Congress will withhold US reconstruction funds that were promised to the Iraqis to rebuild what the United States has destroyed there. The privatization law, written by American oil company consultants hired by the Bush administration, would leave control with the Iraq National Oil Company for only 17 of the 80 known oil fields. The remainder (two-thirds) of known oil fields, and all yet undiscovered ones, would be up for grabs by the private oil companies of the world (but guess how many would go to United States firms - given to them by the compliant Iraqi government.)
No other nation in the Middle East has privatized its oil. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iran give only limited usage contracts to international oil companies for one or two years. The $12 billion dollar “Support the Troops” legislation passed by Congress requires Iraq, in order to get reconstruction funds from the United States, to privatize its oil resources and put them up for long term (20- to 30-year) contracts.
What does this “Support the Troops” legislation mean for the United States military? Supporting our troops has nothing to do with this bill, other than keeping them there for another 30 years to protect US oil interests. It means that every military service member will need Arabic language training. It means that every soldier and Marine would spend most of his or her career in Iraq. It means that the fourteen permanent bases will get new Taco Bells and Burger Kings! Why? Because the US military will be protecting the US corporate oilfields leased to US companies by the compliant Iraqi government. Our troops will be the guardians of US corporate interests in Iraq for the life of the contracts - for the next thirty years.
With the Bush administration’s “Support the Troops” bill and its benchmarks, primarily Benchmark No. 1, we finally have the reason for the US invasion of Iraq: to get easily accessible, cheap, high-grade Iraq oil for US corporations.
Now the choice is for US military personnel and their families to decide whether they want their loved ones to be physically and emotionally injured to protect not our national security, but the financial security of the biggest corporate barons left in our country - the oil companies.
It’s a choice for only our military families, because most non-military Americans do not really care whether our volunteer military spends its time protecting corporate oil to fuel our one-person cars. Of course, when a tornado, hurricane, flood or other natural disaster hits in our hometown, we want our National Guard unit back. But on a normal day, who remembers the 180,000 US military or the 150,000 US private contractors in Iraq?
Since the “Surge” began in January, over 500 Americans and 15,000 Iraqis have been killed. By the time September 2007 rolls around for the administration’s review of the “surge” plan, another 400 Americans will be dead, as well as another 12,000 Iraqis.
How much more can our military and their families take?
(Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army and US Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She served 16 years in the US diplomatic corps in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Micronesia and Mongolia. She resigned from the US Department of State in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.)
“Property asking prices down 10%.”
Asking prices for homes across Dublin have slumped in the past six months, particularly in the wealthier suburbs of the city. That came as no surprise to many economists. Morgan Kelly, professor of economics at University College Dublin referred to the Irish economy as “ a Bob the Builder economy”
Both the IMF and the OECD reckoned the Irish property market was overvalued by at least 25%. Back in 1998, Ireland had a rapidly growing economy, with interest rates at around 6% and rising. In 1999, as a member of the euro-zone, it switched to a single interest rate controlled by the European Central Bank. Now, the main economy in the euro=zone is Germany, and it was the polar opposite of Ireland at the time. So Ireland ended up with a sharply reduced interest rate, more suited to struggling Berlin, than racing Dublin.
Hence the house price boom, which has seen prices shoot up by more than 200% in the past five years alone, fuelling an equally superlative construction boom.
In 2005, the building sector accounted for nearly a quarter of gross national product. It also employs 13% of the Irish workforce - that’s more than one in eight of the working population.
So if the construction sector goes down, the Irish economy goes with it. And right now building work is stalling.
Irish consumers are stuffed full of debt and vulnerable to any waver in interest rates, Germany is recovering. And now the ECB is raising rates - which suits the consumer in Berlin, but is an utter nightmare for Dublin’s amateur property moguls. As more properties come onto the market, prices fall. There are now 250,000 vacant housing units on the market, about 15% of Irish housing stock, compared to 100,000 units five years ago. So builders are responding the only way they can - they’ve stopped building. The 12-month running total for housing starts has fallen from a peak of 96,000 in September last year to 83,000 now.
UK construction group Wolseley, which owns Brooks, Ireland’s largest timber distributor, reckons starts will fall by 30% this year to between 70,000 and 65,000. And less building means less builders, which means longer dole queues.
“We’re looking at a horrible employment shock,” says Kelly, with “very unpleasant consequences.”
He forecasts unemployment reaching 12%-13% within the next year to 18 months, as builders continue to cut back on construction. He points to Arizona in the US, where housing starts have more than halved, dropping from a high of 8,000 units a month last May, to just 3,000 by November.
“Irish people are very casual about this. There’s an assumption that construction workers are all Eastern Europeans and that they’ll get back on the plane to Krakow,” when things go awry, he says. “But foreign workers only make up 12% of the building workforce.”
Kelly reckons prices could fall by 50%. “In a typical property crash, prices fall by 70% of what they’ve gained. That would imply a rental yield of 8%, which is still very low” by historical standards. “A 10% rental yield would imply bigger falls.”
And, as a small open economy especially vulnerable to external developments, everything from a weakening dollar to higher interest rates – both of which seems very likely indeed - could act as a trigger for a drop, says Dr. Alan Ahearne, an economist at the National University of Galway.
“If we get a 25% drop in house prices over two to three years and a big contraction in [construction] at the same time… there’s no doubt that that would put the Irish economy into recession. And if our export sector is hit at the same time by a falling dollar then you’re getting a perfect storm of negative shocks, and then there could be quite serious trouble.”
Indigenous action for land and sovereignty
Haudenosaunee Speaking Tour
Three representatives from the Six Nations on the Grand River community in Ontario, Canada will be in England, Ireland and Scotland between June 13 th ˆ 30th to give talks and have meetings with other communities in struggle. The tour will visit Derry, Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Rossport, London, Dale Farm Travellers site, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol and Nottingham. The speakers will be Kathy Garlow, who is a representative from the site of an ongoing (since February 2006) land reclamation, Mary Sandy (an Oneida Nation Clan mother- a representative from the traditional government) and Josephine Sandy (a clan mothers assistant). They will speak about the experience of reclaiming and defending a piece of land from development. Their action has been incredibly successful, having prevented the development and protected the land from an armed police incursion. They will also talk about defending their community against colonisation and the struggle for Indigenous sovereignty. The Haudenosaunee have been living as a Confederacy of nations organised by direct consensual democracy since 1142, although there have been systematic attempts by the colonial state to obliterate them as self-governed sovereign people.
Six Nations of the Grand River (a Haudenosaunee reserve in Ontario, Canada) reclaimed forty acres of land on the 28 th of February 2006 that had been sold by the Canadian government to a housing development company. The land is part of the Haldimand Tract (1784) granted by the British in return for some of the Haudenosaunee fighting against the soon to be United States, and thereby losing their lands. Led by the Clan Mothers, (their traditional female leadership) they set up camp on the burial ground and stopped the bulldozers' work. A year later the land reclamation still stands and the Six Nations community is asserting their sovereignty; not only by taking back land that was sold by the government without title to do so, but by practising their right to govern themselves and their community.
The land reclamation has survived due to a tremendous show of solidarity by a large part of the 20,000 strong Grand River indigenous community. 150-armed police were walked back off the site when hundreds of people arrived in response to the dawn raid, indignant that the police had arrested and beaten the handful of people who were sleeping there. Blockades and barricades were erected that protected the reclamation land from further attack and also were a powerful tool in forcing the Canadian government to take the reclamation seriously. In June 2006 the government bought the land back from Henco, the developer. The site has also weathered many ongoing right wing demonstrations that play on local, non ˆ native peoples' fears and racism.
The success of the reclamation at Kanonhstaton (the protected place) encourages indigenous sovereignty struggles across Canada and the United States. The Haudenosaunee are reasserting their traditional ways, which include their surviving system of direct, consensus based democracy (dating from 1142). Marx's vision of a classless society was based on a early anthropology essay describing Haudenosaunee governance. Women take an equal and leading role in the traditional government. On New Years Day the Clan Mothers and Confederacy Council reoccupied the traditional government meeting house for the first time since its forced closure in 1924, when the Band council system was imposed on the reserve. The colonial attack on Indigenous people has meant systematic attempts to wipe out their languages, government and identity as distinct peoples, as well as taking their land base. However, these things, though not undamaged still survive. Near and far to Six Nations Onkwehonweh (original people) are taking action to halt development, mining, and environmental destruction on their land.
Tour Dates (thus far):
Thursday the 21st of June- Rossport Solidarity Camp, County Mayo.
Saturday the 23rd of June ˆ Cork (tbc)
Sunday the 24th June ˆ Kebele centre, Bristol
Monday the 25th of June ˆ Dale farm (Traveller community), Essex 2.30 pm
Tuesday the 26th of June- Visit to House of Commons Human Rights Group (midday)
And speaking event at the Radical Anthropology Group (evening)
Wednesday the 27th of June ˆ Sumac Centre, Nottingham, 7.30 pm
Friday the 29th of June- Seminar at Leeds University, Masters in Activism and Social Change course (4pm)
Saturday the 30th of June- Edinburgh Forum, Edinburgh.