(Web site http://www.theplough.netfirms.com/)
Vol. 4- No 18
Thursday 23rd August 2007
E-mail newsletter of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) Economy downturn?
3) A Review
4) Blame the Cows!!
5) The Czech Republic after the KSM- Ban
6) Letters a. Truth?
7) From the newspapers
a. £1.5bn: annual cost of the enduring sectarianism in Northern Ireland
b. Urban Britain is heading for Victorian levels of inequality
c. Landlords in Northern Ireland
100 years on!
At the unveiling of a mural commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1907 Dockers and Carters' Strike in Belfast there were a number of speakers including the IRSP’s Gerry Ruddy.
View speech at
In this edition among a cross selection of articles we carry a review of the book produced many years ago by the Seamus Costello Memorial Committee on the founder of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. What is remarkable about this review is the searing honesty of the reviewer as he narrates parts of his own life experiences and accounts how he came to understand the class nature of Irish society. In an age when many young people seem to have only a superficial understanding of life our reviewer shines out like a beacon of hope.
We are happy also to reprint an article by Marion Baur member of the NEC of the Communist Party of Ireland on the situation in the Czech Republic.i ris important for irish Republicans to our struggle not as an narrow nationalist struggle but as part of the world wide struggle against Imperiialism Capitalism and oppression. We are internationalists and tho we may have many differences with other left wing organisations we refuse to sing in the words of Ta power into the morass of sectarianism.
A recent survey of the Construction industry in the South of Ireland has found that more than one-third of the country's construction firms are expecting to cut their workforce in the coming months. The Fás/ESRI survey says that bosses in industry, retail and service sectors are predicting a small decline in future employment levels. The number of construction companies planning on dropping staff is the highest since May 2002 Over 800 companies across the country took part in the survey. The slow down in the construction industry will have a knock-on effect on other parts of the economy. Already the Small Firms Association has claimed that business costs are rising more quickly in Ireland than in other competitor countries. Needless to say, the SFA said rising labour costs remained the biggest expense but they also added that there was an escalating skills shortage. Other factors that caused the SFA concern in their annual report was rising utility costs, particularly energy and inflation in the Irish economy. The SFA director Patricia Callan is quoted as saying
"It would be "foolish in the extreme to underestimate the potential impact of frictional problems such as inflation, energy prices and inefficient public service delivery. -Major threats have now emerged in the burden of inflation, energy costs, skill shortages and red tape/increasing legislation," (Irish Times Thursday 23Aug 2007)
She also claimed that Ireland's ranking in the World Competitiveness League has slumped from 5th to 14th and that the only way to respond to this was to bring costs under control. Employers will increase attacks on the living standards of the working class as they try to cut costs and shred surplus labour. All the signs are there for attacks on the working class and on public services and increasing pressure for privitisation. The unity of the working class including all trade unionists, all socialist, republican and community activists and community groups is essential if the coming employer and Government offensive is to be resisted. Unite and fight back!
A review of Irish republican Socialist-Seamus Costello
Have you ever felt impelled to write about something? Have you ever felt an urge to express the joy and understanding you received from an experience? I want to be honest with you with this review so Id like to start of that way.
I felt completely compelled to write about my experience of reading this pamphlet. It came at a time when I knew most of the information in the pamphlet, but to have it compacted into book form was inspiring and although I am unsure about the existence of a "soul", I felt something happen inside me that I have to share. I felt it when I first started learning about this person but in reading this pamphlet it brought it all together and I felt an energy I couldn't get rid of, this may be chemically based, but it moved me to write this small piece even though I know my skills as a writer are very basic. I'm willing to receive any criticism in the hope that I get across my absolute passion for what this man stood for and appreciation for finding this gem. To start, I'd like to make you aware of my introduction to Republican Socialism and Seamus Costello.
Life in Dublin
I'm a young man of 25 who grew up in a council estate in Dublin Ireland. The phrase "council estate" conjures up images of burnt out cars and annoying young men drinking on the corner etc…but to me the reality is that it is a closely knit community where we all share a basic flaw, the flaw of coming from a "council estate".
This flaw expressed itself to me from a very early age. I live right next to a middle/upper class area and my first experience of class conflict was when I was around the age of ten and cycling on my bike. I was going on an adventure with one of the kids I hung around with and we decided to go the distance to this neighbourly estate for the fun and thrill of going somewhere unknown. Sadly the only memory I have of this first escape from my estate was being stopped abruptly by three of four teenagers, about five-six years older than me and my female friend and being told we were "insert name of estate" knackers and basically being confronted violently on the basis of where we came from.
It was only years later that I understood it was class based and not territorial. From this moment on I had a hatred for those who lived in the "poshie" houses behind us but my character wouldn't allow me to throw stones at their windows like some of the other kids did as I knew it was fundamentally wrong. I went through my young teens hating these people and even came very close to attacking them in various ways. I remember being a young man who had just being sacked from work and the first place I thought of targeting for my anger and for finding money was this estate, I thankfully pulled back and convinced myself that it wasn't their fault I was let go and found myself another job.
My estate is surrounded by these middle class people and it was during a walk with my dog that I stumbled into another confrontation of class conflict and hate towards me and a friend. We were walking our dogs to the nearby river which we did every evening after school. We loved dogs and even got into a bit of hunting (which I sadly regret) because we thought this was the most active way to train and own a dog. We walked to this river every evening, rain or shine. We put on our walking gear and had our treats for the dogs so that we could train them as we walked them. If I'm being honest, ill have to admit we had a sneaky smoke or two in the fields, it was our way of rebelling and there was no malice in it, just two friends who where next door neighbours and friends since birth walking their dogs and chatting about girls or what happened in school that day. Finally we got to the bridge and took our usual break and sat down whilst we sparked another smoke, choking on the fumes no doubt. Then all of a sudden from above us we could hear voices, we knew what estate they were coming from and looked at each other in amusement, it is strange how certain words or experiences stay with you forever. I can't explain why this experience stayed with me and influenced me and why my friend has probably forgotten it but to this day I can still see their faces and hear their words. Once again these people had taken it upon themselves to attack us verbally, calling us "insert estate name" knackers and scum.
For whatever reason I saw red, maybe it was my teenage hormones kicking in, or maybe it was the fact that I was too young to do anything the last time this had happened when I was ten, but I ran straight towards the place this name calling was coming from with two dogs in tow and a friend left standing in bemusement. When I eventually got through the bushes that hid the description of these "poshies" I was confronted with a fence which I couldn't climb, I picked up the nearest rock and hurled it at the area I seen these people running, cowards running from a small teenager in wellies with a fence to block him from doing any serious damage. The rock bounced of a Mercedes in the garden and I immediately turned on my heels and ran like hell, laughing and joking with my friend. To us it was just another day, but now ten years later this experience and that of many of my childhood memories has stuck with me for a reason I cant explain but can only express to you as fact and hope you may see some relevance in it in relation to this pamphlet and the politics this man, (Seamus Costello), stands for.
I would like to relate one more story of my childhood which I think played a part in my political leaning, a very small part, but an important part all the same. I was still in primary school and the memory of these attacks from the local "poshies" was still fresh in my mind. I used to come home for lunch every day as I lived very close to school and looked forward to my ma's waffles and pizza and a nice cuppa tea. I used to let the dog out the back field to relieve her self and bring her for a quick walk, so this day I did exactly that. To my complete amazement and if I'm honest amusement, I clasped my eyes on a twelve foot metal fence completely segregating us from the "poshie" estate to the back of us. The council machinery had moved in over night and erected this divisive metal fence in a matter of hours. I was completely confused as to why they wanted us blocked from them as it was my personal experience that they were the instigators in this class division, certainly in my case. From this moment on I was wary of the "poshies" next to us and took every opportunity to debase them, even if my character stopped it from being physical, my mind knew who the "enemy" was.
As I grew I found that I was interested in history, I have another memory which runs deep of when I was in school being thought about the famine. I felt a deep hatred for what had happened and automatically assumed an anti-English stance. Thank god I studied history more in later years and realised how silly my English hatred was. I grew up when the provisional movement of Sinn Fein were winding down their bombing campaign, but even my late arrival to provisional politics didn't take away the realisation of what they stood for and what they were doing. I "supported" them for a few years, until I became disillusioned with their strategy.
I remember that the one place I could think as a child and have time to myself was the shower, it sounds silly to you I'm sure but in a full house it was the only place I could think. I remember writing things that popped into my head onto the steamy mirror that was beside the shower as a kid, sometimes it was which girl I "loved" and other times it was politically based or just random thoughts.
It was in this space I realised that what the provisional's stood for was not something I could support. I was very young and naive. I didn't understand why my thought process was rejecting them but I knew I had to ditch them or I’d implode mentally, so I did!
I spent the next couple of years partying and rejecting any notion of social consciousness. It was sad, as before this I was very aware of political and social circumstances. If only my thoughts had been channelled at this stage to something progressive instead of being neglected because of my lack of identification with any social or political ideology. It was, surprisingly enough the internet which came to my rescue. Without going into too much detail about what happened between my disillusion with provisional Sinn Fein and my support for republican socialism I’d like to get to the point at which I started to realise where my politics lay.
I had always felt an unexplained connection with "English" ordinary people whilst the bombing campaign of Britain was taking place. This connection was obviously class based but I didn't know it yet. To me the provisional's were too nationalist I suppose, I didn't know it at the time but I rejected their strategy and embraced the ideology of the IRSM which is class and humanly based. I found out about Seamus Costello through finding out about the IRSM. To me the IRSM represented the only humanist and progressive opinion in Irish republicanism. I remember being filled with joy when reading the "Ta" Power document, which was the most progressive piece of writing to come out of "the troubles". Here was a movement, which accepted its flaws, its mistakes, and was willing to try to correct them for the good of man. They were class based, completely non-sectarian and had visions far beyond that of national independence and self -interested politics.
If you want my honest opinion Irish Republicanism represented something dogmatic and reactionary to me. The ideology of republicanism is certainly not reactionary but the organisations representing this movement seemed this way.
I was wrong of course, even the most self inverted republican movements in Ireland are not reactionary, for the national independence of Ireland is a progressive step for human kind not a backward one.
However it was the IRSM which represented the most progressive and international strand of Republicanism to me. It was actually through my realisation that I was a socialist that I found the IRSM and then realised I was a republican socialist. I suppose you could say it was through my self -education of humanism and democracy that I found the IRSM and found myself in a place where I could begin studying them and finding out if it was a movement I could support. I don't know if it is a weakness or not but one thing about me is that I never jump in feet first into anything I'm unsure about. I think it has to do with my father's influence who is very cautious, while my mother is very rebellious. Some people would sign up to the IRSM straight away but not me, I started to find out and educate myself about this movement as much as I could. I bought books, read online websites and got to know people involved in the movement. Not once did I take a step back from my support of the RSM. I say this with great admiration as I'm the type of person to easily be put off by counter revolutionary or sectarian attributes. It would have been the safe option to get involved with one of the many Irish left pacifist organisations, those who reject the IRSM and its ideology. They don't get harassed by the state militia and can go about their work freely. But this is not what I am after, I may be cautious but I am not a coward. My caution is based on the fear that I would support something non-progressive not the fear of state harassment.
I connected with the IRSM as an organisation, but I truly connected with Seamus Costello as a person. He was born and was active in a part of Ireland not very far from myself, he was a democrat at heart and like myself I believe he was an Irish republican because this was the most progressive form of politics from which true working class emancipation could take place. It's a sad fact that for the republican movement to take a sharp turn to the left it needed to hand up the lives of a few brave and selfless people, Seamus Costello was one such man.
I don't believe in the personality cult and I drew back from my obsession with this man as a result, but if this man’s personality was defined in the way he lived his live, fighting for the underdog, trying to achieve social democracy in the truest sense of the word and bringing to Ireland a freedom that touched all sections of those who toiled and sweated to make this country that which it was, then that's a personality I can obsess about without any feelings of guilt.
I had been searching for this pamphlet since I found out about Seamus Costello but I heard it was out of print so I gave up hope. Only recently I moved to the hometown of Seamus Costello and one sunny Monday I took a stroll down the town. I walked into the town hall bookstore as I knew that it sold second hand books. To my amazement I placed my hand on this pamphlet., the price was €4.00. I told the guy I had been looking for it for ages and he said he was the only person to have it as the Costello memorial committee sent them to him periodically. I snapped it up and spent the afternoon in a sunny back garden reading the whole thing.
What really jumps out of this pamphlet is that this man really represented the working class. His complete devotion to that struggle is an inspiration to us all, his political activities incorporated the following organisations, and at time of death he was a member of them all. Wicklow county council, County Wicklow committee of agriculture, Eastern regional development committee, Bray urban district council, Bray branch of the ITGWU, Bray and district trades union council (of which he was president 1976-77), The Cualman historical society, Chairman of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, from the periods between 1964 and 191974 he held the positions of Adj. General, chief of staff and director of operations in the Official IRA and the position of vice-president of official Sinn Fein.
My childhood experiences and my life experiences drew me towards republican socialism because it is based on humanist and democratic principles, sometimes those principles are blurred during periods of struggle but its people like Costello and pamphlets like this one which snap our thoughts back to why we are inspired by an ideology which is hounded and harassed by the state militia and has been reserved to be a minority movement for now.
After reading this you realise why you are involved, no matter how small, in the working class struggle, and why you want to continue this struggle until the ideas of men like Costello can finally be put into practice.
This pamphlet is a great start for those wanting to know about what an ideal republican socialist strives for and wants to achieve, it encourages us as activists to emulate his direction. It gives a detailed and short account of how the greatest socialist republican of modern Irish history thought he should be active to achieve his goals. If we trust in his goals we should trust in his tactics. That's not to say we must follow him blindly, revolutionary tactics change with time and I'm sure Costello was wrong on some fronts, but it is a sign of his greatness that Bernadette McAliskey, a revolutionary spirit that possibly matches that of Costello, and one who disagreed with him on some issues had this to say in her tribute to him in the pamphlet, repeating what was said on the death of Malcolm X
"Without him, we feel suddenly vulnerable, small and weak, somewhat frightened, not by the prospect of death, but of life and struggle without his contribution, his strength and inspiration".
Here's the good news comrades, this pamphlet can now be viewed online. Just follow this link and you can read it all for free! I hope your experience with this mans politics is as inspiring as mine was.
THE ENVIRONMENT: NOW CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE FAULT OF THE DOMESTIC COW!
As most of us are by now aware planet earth is under going , what could turn out to be, a catastrophic climate change. The eminent professors in the world of science continually give us protracted figures on how long we have got until such disasters as the polar icecaps melting become a reality. There is no doubt that much of what these people tell us is perfectly true. However what they do not advise us on is what practical steps can be taken to slow down this rate of change to our environment. It is a historical fact that climate change has happened in the past and no doubt will happen again, as we are seeing, but this change is being accelerated largely because of the capitalist systems mode of production based on economic growth and profits.
We are constantly told that economic growth in such countries as China will help eliminate poverty in that country therefore it would not be prudent to encourage the Chinese to at least slow down their rate of economic growth. Under the present system of capitalism, which the Chinese are rapidly becoming a part of, this assessment of cutting poverty in China may well be true to a certain extent and, therefore, the Chinese can not be blamed for trying to catch up with, what we are pleased to call, the advanced countries. The paradox is that on the other side of the coin Western capitalist countries along with the United States, who are among the biggest culprits, while arguing that economic growth helps reduce poverty, are then asking for reductions in pollution levels, many of which are based on economic growth. The two arguments are inconsistent with one another. Of course if human society was run in such a way that such issues as economic growth gave way to environmental protection which would mean stopping producing so many pollutants just because they are profitable, in fact if profit was replaced by need, the deterioration of the planet could may well be arrested. This of course would mean the abolition of the capitalist system and the introduction of socialism/communism as the only game in town, a system based on peoples need and not the greed of the few. This way much of the cheap obnoxious waste produced now, simply because it is cheap, would not be on the menu of production. A large reduction in the need, therefore use, of the private motor car could be introduced with those cars on the roads being powered by bio-fuels or other environmentally friendly products. The vastly upgraded public transport systems, powered by electricity fuelled by solar, wind or hydro power or, again by bio-fuel. An example would be the city of Vienna whose entire public transport system is reportedly fuelled in this way. These are just a few of the possible changes which could slow down the rate of climate change.
Such prehistoric climate changes such as the Ice age can not be measured on the same barometer as the climate changes we are witnessing presently. Neither can the volcanic eruptions such as Krakatoa be spoken in the same sentence as the pollution of our rivers. Yes it may well be true that the world is naturally rising in temperature but the level of environmental damage we are witnessing is far from natural. However it could well be a way of mother nature fighting back against what is rapidly becoming an unwanted species, humans, and their way of conducting their lives in a most unnatural way. Of course we must find ways of protecting ourselves against such things as global warming but if this process was to be slowed down that would give us more time to take appropriate action without doing any more damage and, who knows, it may not become necessary at all. Of course most of the scientists don’t tell us the whole truth perhaps because their political masters will not allow them to and, in turn the capitalist elite can not afford to allow the politicians to say too much which may interfere with their relentless pursuit of profit. After all why blame the capitalist system when the population, mainly working class consumers, can be told to switch to a washing powder which can be used at 30 degrees or pay a levy on plastic shopping bags in order to save the planet but which really has more to do with increasing profit under the guise of helping with the environment. Foolishly many people believe these silly notions which, although contributing in a very small way to planet preservation, is rather like attacking a bull elephant with a catapult. Of course a more practical idea would either be stop producing such obnoxious products in the first place or create a product which does not take eternity to degrade or, if incinerated belches out toxic emissions into the atmosphere. Such ideas as these would, of course cost more to produce which is why they are not in circulation. In a socialist economy such factors as cost would be of little or no relevance.
Now to the punch line of this short piece. The same eminent professors have come up with the perfect scape goat for climate change and environmental damage, the domestic cow. Apparently our bovine friends are guilty of genocide against the human race of the highest magnitude. These dumb animals who spend, in the majority of cases, grazing in a field producing milk or being fattened up for slaughter are really to blame for the imminent end of the world. The life of a bovine is not one to be envied because in the case of most males they are castrated at birth, put out to graze and then shot through the head and sold on to the butcher for meat which most of us then enjoy at the table. In the case of females they are put out to graze allowed to be impregnated by one of the lucky males which escape castration, except in the ever increasing large scale factory farms where even this momentary pleasure is denied them by artificial insemination, and then, after producing a few calves, go on producing milk, again for our consumption, until they are too old when they are shot.
Now these ever menacing animals are being targeted as the most likely culprits of environmental damage, despite the fact that they have been on the planet in one form or another longer than their accusers. It is their food, so we are told, which produces dangerous gasses which these cattle emit from their rear end or through breathing. Perhaps, through genetic engineering, it would be possible to produce cattle which have no need for the inconvenient facility of breathing, farting or producing shit. Well the human race, or at least some of us, had better beware because if this latest piece of scientific silliness catches on we must remember that cattle are, like ourselves mammals. We practice exactly the same habits as our bovine distant cousins so if cattle are to be used as scapegoats for climate change, rather than economic growth and profit, why not a section of the human race? Vegetarians and Vegans should be particularly on their guard because their eating habits are similar to those of the domestic cow. Perhaps the scientists and people who masquerade as politicians could organise an annual cull of Vegetarians, Vegans, people who still smoke cigarettes, once that industry becomes none profitable, and domestic cattle. These measures along with profiting out of the rest of us through charging a levy on plastic carriers or switching to lower temperature washing powders will save the planet, a sacrifice well worth paying but, whatever happens the profits of the captains of industry, even vegetarian ones, must not be affected in any way shape or form.
The Czech Republic after the KSM- Ban
An attack on all Communists – an attack on all democrats
During the UZ-Festival in Germany, Communists from 25 countries exchanged their views on the international political situation and discussed many details regarding closer and more practical cooperation (see Unity of last week). One of the highlights – though it happened for a sad and very serious reason – was the speech by and discussions with a leading representative of the banned Communist Youth Movement of the Czech Republic, KSM. The 20 year old comrade (her name cannot be published for reasons of her own safety) spoke on two occasions in Dortmund: To the international gusts of the DKP and to the leadership of the German Youth Organisation (SDAJ). The simultaneous translations into English were done by Hermann Glaser-Baur (CPI). The following article is based on his notes and my own talks to the KSM – representative.
Let’s put the positive results first. The “banning and declaration of dissolving” the Communist Youth Movement of the Czech Republic by the government on October 12th 2006 has been a failure as far as its intention to smash the organisational structure of the Movement is concerned. The KSM has since formed new “clubs” (their term for branches) Liberec, Leske Budejovice, Ostrava and other towns. The cooperation with progressive organisations in the Czech Republic has been intensified. They haven’t been able to grind the public presence of the KSM to a halt either, more than 120 000 citizens have since signed the KSM – petition against plans for US-military bases on Czech territory.
Nevertheless the KSM views the ban as a further step by the reactionary capitalist forces towards illegalising Communism both as an organised political movement and as a philosophical concept (see the KKE- judgement in last week’s Unity).The KSM is aware of the great danger this move contains and of the following attempts to ban more Communist organisations. The Czech parliament has already decided to form a commission which is going to review the “Communist Party’s faith to the constitution” – needless to say what the outcome will be.
The pro- constitution –argument is of course a nonsense and smoke-screen to hide the real intentions. The Czech constitution – similar to the German- and other bourgeois constitutional laws in Europe – in article 11 of the “Charta of basic human rights” states clearly the possibility to convert private property into property of the state if the economical situation and the interest of society as a whole require so. The sole reason given by the Czech ministry of inner affairs for the KSM-ban was exactly that: “The organisation’s aim to convert private property into commonly owned property”.
The real aims behind the anti-communist campaign are clearly different ones – the illegalisation of our movement throughout Europe and beyond and thereby the weakening and finally smashing of all serious resistance against the capitalist system.
In the Czech Republic – like in other countries with extremely anticommunist main stream politics – fascist and neo-fascist organisations are mushrooming. The “National Resistance”, a group which is built around the hard-core of the fascist skin-head- scene is threatening political opponents and spreading racism and hatred through their publications and web sites. The same ministry of inner affairs which banned the KSM sees no need to act against the Nazis; indeed it registered as legal political organisations such gangs as the “patriotic front” or the “national party”. This sister of the German NPD and the British BNP denies the holocaust.
The “workers party”, an almost identical twin of the German NSDAP in the early 1930s has also been registered as a legal political party.
The bourgeoisie and its political puppets seem to be looking towards the fascists once again, the aim is obvious: Restore them as forces for emergencies (when the frustrations of the working people turn political and against the system) and as a weapon against the Communists and other progressive forces. This trend can be observed all over Eastern Europe at present.
A large part of the discussions with our Czech comrade were occupied by questions like “what can we do, what should we have done better to combat the ban?....”
The answer was very clear: Support from abroad is crucial for the KSM; international solidarity has been giving the strength to fight the ban and to take on anti communism
In practical terms and looking at the possibilities Communists and other progressive forces have here in Ireland:
Communists have to continue raising their voices against the ban and anticommunism at every possible occasion. The CPI was one of the first parties in Europe to stage a protest at the Czech embassy (in Dublin) and many members and friends signed the petitions and sent protest letters. We have to make sure now that this protest continues and becomes broader.
-Anybody who hasn’t signed the online petition against the KSM – ban, do so now!
- Friends, comrades, readers of this paper who don’t use the internet or who have a bit of time on hand: Write letters of protest to the Czech embassy in Dublin or the minister of inner affairs!
- Lobby MPs, MLAs, trade union representatives….!
-WRITE TO YOUR MEP!
The ban against the KSM must be lifted and it can be lifted. Communists have a leading role to play in broadening the protests. The ban is a threat to all Communist Parties and indeed to many other progressive political organisations – once people understand the anti-democratic character of the move, they usually help supporting the protest.
I promised the Czech comrade that we would do our best here in Ireland to create publicity and broaden the front against the ban. You can help fulfil this promise – it’s in the interest of the Communists, Socialist and all other democratic forces –
I have written the attached article for the CPI paper Unity. Give the importance of the subject - beyond Communists and their movement as I would think - I am sending it to other progressive publications. Please be free to publish it.
Thank you for your interest. Communist regards
member of the NEC of the Communist Party of Ireland
THE LAST CASUALTY OF WAR IS THE TRUTH:
According to Jim Gibney in The Irish News truth is the last big issue to be resolved in the conflict. Jim may think this is true, though he is not taking into account a lot of other “big issues” like the British are still here and all the other “big issues” that entails.
But that is not what really got me thinking about his column, what got me wondering was how Gibney could write about the “truth” and basically ignore the role played by Republicans in collusion with the British. He down plays this by saying that by and large the truth is known about the role the (P) I.R.A. played because they claimed responsibility for their actions and thousands went to prison. This does not escape the fact that there was collusion between the British and Republicans. Republican agents were not acting in isolation with no over all game plan by their British spy masters. It would be foolish to believe these agents acted only in their own areas, if Gibney believes that this is the case I think he is being un-truthful. When the conflict ended did the British decommission these Republican agents or did they redirect them to a new arena of spying? Gibney didn’t go into this I can only guess why, but it would be interesting to know who and where they are now.
There is only one truth. We don’t need half truths about collusion with only Loyalists agents during the conflict. The prisons were full of Republicans, many because of touts. The British used these touts not only to imprison Republicans, but to also remove people from the scene so that the touts could move up the ranks and influence people around them with a British agenda. Republican organisations were infiltrated over the whole conflict, some touts were exposed quickly, and others were to work the British agenda over decades within their organisations as was seen only last year.
Recently Gibney’s party leader has called for a truth commission, of course he will not have to appear before this truth commission as he was never in the P.I.R.A. but I am sure there are people who were members of the Provisionals who will have grave concerns about this truth commission.
It seems to me that getting to the truth is as big a problem as ever because people like Jim Gibney and the British Government only want to expose the dirty dealings of others. The pressure should be put onto the British to reveal all their dirty dealings in Ireland, not just some aspects of it or the bits we would like to expose, but the whole role of their agents in the “dirty war” that they organised in Ireland. Why not push the issue of collusion as a whole, if not, why not, what is there to hide? As we can see truth is not only the first casualty of war but also the last.
From the newspapaers
£1.5bn: annual cost of the enduring sectarianism in Northern Ireland
By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
Published: 23 August 2007
Sectarianism and the deep divisions within Northern Ireland could be costing the Exchequer up to £1.5bn a year, according to an official report. Although this extraordinary figure is tentatively advanced, the report lays bare the workings of a society cut down the middle by the religious and political divide.
The report has been obtained by The Independent in advance of its consideration by the fledgling Belfast power-sharing executive headed jointly by the DUP and Sinn Fein. It shows that the new administration faces mountainous challenges.
The report demonstrates that policy and practice in health, education, security and other vital fields have been skewed by the need to cope with unionist and nationalist communities which are in many ways starkly segregated. The report sums up: "The divide has led to duplication or even multiplication of service delivery for the communities as they live side-by-side but do not integrate or share easily."
The document was drawn up by the authorities from consultants Deloitte, with input from local government departments, Whitehall and the police.
Its authors had difficulty disentangling the costs of division from other costs, saying that these were embedded within the overall public spending system and cannot be specified exactly without much more research.
They say, however, that they have already found "significant evidence that issues of segregation and conflict continue to influence policy decisions, public service provision and hence resource allocations".
Their view is that changing the established patterns in housing, education and employment will not be easily achieved.
While accepting that efforts have been made to improve the situation, the report warns: "Implementation of a 'joined-up' interagency strategic approach to the achievement of peace and reconciliation objectives across all public service areas is complex.
"In many sectors it will require a significant change in existing service delivery models."
In reaching their estimated figure of up to £1.5bn, the authors take into account the huge security expense of the Troubles as well as lost economic opportunities that they calculate has cost up to 30,000 jobs. But in addition they give a wealth of detail on the generally invisible costs of running a divided society.
In one tiny but illuminating example, the report found that 165 extra school bus runs take place daily because it is not considered prudent to mix Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren. The bus authorities class about half of their runs as "additional". In many cases the buses take circuitous routes to avoid potentially problem areas. In one instance, Catholic schoolchildren from the Short Strand area are driven to school in a wide loop so as to avoid the loyalist lower Ravenhill district.
The duplication, which means more money has to be spent on vehicles and salaries, is estimated at costing £2.5m annually. Damage to buses - a favourable target during civil unrest - adds almost another million a year.
While attention is usually focused on security costs, the report's authors also factor in such less obvious items of expenditure, which they class as "arising from the need to provide services separately to meet the needs of the two communities".
They count in other expenditure such as community relations work, the difficulties of promoting Northern Ireland as a tourist destination and as a location for inward investment.
It found that Northern Ireland spent nearly three times as much per capita on industrial development as the United Kingdom average, recently spending an additional £144m in a single year.
The divisions also have implications for health. Research shows that three-quarters of those interviewed in a survey said they refused to use their closest health centre if it was located in a place dominated by the "other" community. And more than half of those interviewed travelled twice as far as they needed to, at least twice a week, in order to locate two or more private sector services that they needed.
In housing terms many homes lie empty - and some have to be demolished - because although there is housing need in various districts those allocated to them refuse them on the grounds of safety. This means that some areas, often divided by "peacelines", are overcrowded on one side of the wall but have spare space on the other.
The report says: "It is striking that while houses are being knocked down, the housing authorities are faced with a significant waiting list for houses in other areas. This highlights how the segregated nature of the housing market creates significant inefficiencies within public housing."
Houses and apartments in problem areas can also cost more because of additional security measures deemed necessary. The report details that these can include window grills, solid doors and measures to protect oil tanks. Houses in some interface areas have even been fitted with bulletproof glass and steel roof tiles.
In terms of the past, the report points out that the public inquiry into the Bloody Sunday shootings of 1972 has to date cost £172m, while a number of other inquiries - which will be more limited in scope - are in the pipeline.
In addition, the government spends millions each year to support victims' groups. Money is also spent on a number of community relations initiatives designed to improve co-operation.
Forecasting that the problems will not be easily remedied, the report concludes:
"While we recognise the potential to respond positively to the challenge of a shared figure and to re- define service delivery, it must be recognised that the timeline for change and benefit realisation is not insignificant."
Urban Britain is heading for Victorian levels of inequality
The chasm between rich and poor seen in London today resembles the Manchester that Engels described in the 1840s
Wednesday July 18, 2007
Today's super-rich are endowing a new generation of cities as divisive and ostentatious as themselves. In New York, Shanghai and London, the cosmopolitan plutocracy outdo each other in displays of ritual vulgarity from the car showroom to the restaurant table. But beneath the helipads, there lurks a growing cityscape of poverty and exploitation.
Yesterday's Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on social segregation in Britain has highlighted the crisis, talking of poverty "clustering" and wealthy flight to the outskirts. With the personal wealth of the richest 1% now controlling 24% of the national share, it seems we are heading towards Victorian levels of inequality. So it is worth recalling how the most astute critic of urban geography regarded the effects of such extremities of wealth and poverty.
Dividing his time between his Eccles mill, the warehouses of Princess Street and the underworld of 1840s Lancashire, Friedrich Engels was horrified by Manchester's social chasm. Industrial capitalism had divided one city into two warring nations of rich and poor. And this class conflict was embedded in the fabric of the streets. In his 1845 masterpiece, The Condition of the Working Class in England, Engels chronicled how the seemingly chaotic Manchester was, in fact, a carefully planned expression of middle-class power. He began in Deansgate, which, like today, was home to high-end shops and showy warehouses. Surrounding it were the "unmixed working people's quarters", and beyond them the suburbs of the rich, "the breezy heights of Cheetham Hill".
What excited Engels was how "the members of this money aristocracy can take the shortest road through the middle of all the labouring districts to their places of business, without ever seeing that they are in the midst of the grimy misery that lurks to the right and the left". The city was designed "to conceal from the eyes of the wealthy" the human cost of their riches: "the misery and grime which form the complement of their wealth". And they certainly weren't innocent "in the matters of this sensitive method of construction".
Such patterns have long been the case in developing and postcolonial nations. In Planet of Slums, his Engels-like polemic, Mike Davis showed how segregation and racial zoning has been used by authoritarian planners from Nairobi to Mumbai. In 1990s Lagos, the military dictatorship bulldozed the Maroko district to ensure high-income neighbourhoods were shielded from the poor. In Shanghai, more than 1.5 million people were displaced between 1991 and 1997 to make way for the skyscrapers and malls of the Chinese super-rich.
In the west it is more subtle. In her new book World City, the geographer Doreen Massey explores Ken Livingstone's London as "a heartland of that socio-political economic formation that goes by the name of neoliberalism". What strikes Massey, as it did Engels, is the expressive inequality of the city. "London is the most unequal place in the country, and the effects of this wealth reverberate throughout the capital." The nature of modern prosperity requires the impoverishment of others. "The sharpening of inequality has everywhere ... been primarily the result of the growth of a stratum of super-rich."
Massey is right. Just as the Victorians spoke of "outcast London" or the "dark continent" of the East End, so today's extremities of need and greed exist autonomously side by side. Hidden from the sterile corporate village of Canary Wharf - with its speedy tube links and cocooned rail routes - are the crumbling estates of Bethnal Green. Around the corner from the millionaire terraces of Clapham Common is the sprawl of Lambeth. Driven by booming house prices and City excess, the geography of the capital is being steadily fractured. Where once professionals, students, working-class communities and migrants mixed - in places like Notting Hill, Camden or Kilburn - modern wealth extremities are closing neighbourhoods off. The gated community and dark-windowed 4x4 signify the new urban contours.
And it isn't just London. In Engels's old city a decade-long renaissance has failed to trickle down to many in east Manchester. The jobs and businesses offered in culture, retail, education and media often fail to attract indigenous, working-class residents. In Liverpool there is frustration at how the city-centre Gold Zone regeneration has not spread north to the worst-off.
But it is in London that the inequalities remain starkest. Once Livingstone decried the effects of global capitalism, but now he seeks to celebrate it with a canopy of hubristic City skyscrapers: the Gherkin, the Walkie-Talkie, the Shard. The capital's precious skyline is being consciously recrafted into an expression of corporate dominance. London's civic fabric made fit for our era of Russian oligarchs, non-domicile bankers and undocumented migrant labour.
What always surprised Engels was "the absurd freedom from anxiety with which the middle class dwells upon a soil that is honeycombed, and may any day collapse". He thought a revolution - "in comparison with which the French Revolution will prove to have been child's play" - was inevitable. As the Rowntree report depressingly shows, Engels was always stronger on his geography than futurology.
· Tristram Hunt is writing a new Penguin biography of Engels
Landlords in Northern Ireland
They are receiving £140m a year from housing benefit, figures released by the Housing Executive have shown. A shortage of social housing means the Housing Executive is using privately rented accommodation more frequently.
Sinn Fein's housing spokesperson Fra McCann said he was concerned at the amount being paid to private landlords.
"People are being forced into the arms of an unregulated private sector," Mr McCann said.
According to the west Belfast assembly member, 70% of the £55m paid out in housing benefit in Belfast in the past year went to private landlords.
"The buy-to-let market has grown over this past number of years and the rents set by the private rented sector by far surpass that of the Housing Executive, which is also forcing people into debt," he said.
"A review needs to be carried out to look specifically at this sector and how they set their rents."
"Know Your Rights" Information Stall
2pm Saturday 25/8/07
IWU Dublin Branch will have a stall and distribute leaflets on workers rights at 2pm at the Larkin statue on O'Connell on SAturday 25/8/07. All welcome.
Related Link: http://www.union.ie
Official Irish Republicanism, 1962 to 1972
by Sean Swan
A history of the Official Irish Republican movement, from the IRA‚s 1962 ceasefire to the Official IRA‚s permanent ceasefire in 1972. The civil rights movement, the outbreak of violence in August 1969, the links with the communist party, the Official IRA‚s campaign, the ceasefire, and later developments towards ŒSinn Fein the Workers‚ Party‚, are explored. "This book is the first in-depth study of this crucial period in the history of Irish republicanism. Using his unprecedented access to the internal documents of the movement and interviews with key participants Swan‚s work will transform our understanding of this transformative period in the history of the movement.", Henry Patterson, Author of 'The Politics of Illusion: A Political History of the IRA' and 'Ireland Since 1939'. "There is much fascinating material ? and also much good sense.", Richard English, Author of 'Armed Struggle, A History of the IRA' and 'Radicals and the Republic: Socialist Republicanism in the Irish Free State'.
Printed: 420 pages, 6" x 9", perfect binding, black and white interior ink
Rights Owner: Sean Swan
Copyright: © 2007 Sean Swan Standard Copyright License
Country: United States
Edition: Paperback Edition
Coiste na nIarchimí
Scoil Samhraidh/Summer School 2007
Friday 24th morning
Irish Republicanism: Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter
Billy Leonard Lesley McEvoy Robbie McVeigh
ü Admission to all summer school workshops is free
ü Lunch is freeL
ü Evening meal can be purchased for £10/€15
ü 2 nights (shared) accommodation in Tí Chulainn
breakfast, lunch and evening meal; £60/€90
ü 1 night (shared) accommodation in Tí Chulainn
breakfast, lunch, and evening meal; £30/€45
ü Alternative accommodation is available in specified local B&Bs for a specially reduced rate.
Details from Coiste na nIarchimí on 028(48) 90200770 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Coiste na nIarchimí
This weekend's 19th Desmond Greaves Summer School
Please note that this weekend's Desmond Greaves Summer School is being held in the ATGWU Hall, 55 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin - 200 yards from O'Connell Street, on the GPO side of the street.
This is because of building works at the usual venue in the Irish Labour History Museum.
The Summer School starts on tomorrow, Friday, evening at 7.30 p.m. and you and your friends are cordially invited to attend.
The full programme of the School is given below in case you have not got the brochure about it through the post.
Friday 24 August 7.30 pm
Republicanism - a subversive ideology?
Dr Eddie Hyland, lecturer in political philosophy, Trinity College Dublin, and author of Democratic Theory, The Philosophical Foundations.
Chair: Dr Vincent Morley, historian, author of Irish Opinion and the American Revolution 1760-1783.
Saturday 25 August 11.00 am
The 1930s Republican Congress
Dr Emmet O'Connor, Magee College Derry, author of, most recently, Reds and Greens: Ireland, Russia and the Communist International, 1919-43, based on material in former Soviet archives.
Chair: Manus O'Riordan, Head of Research, SIPTU, and author of articles and pamphlets on Irish history.
Saturday 25 August 2.30 pm
Socialism, Nationalism and Republicanism: ideologies in conflict?
- Eoin O Murchú, Dail correspondent, Radio na Gaeltachta.
- Seamus O Brogáin, Executive Committee member, Communist Party of Ireland.
- Finbarr Cullen, Director,The Ireland Institute, Dublin.
Chair: Sinéad Ni Bhroin, writer and political activist with Sinn Fein.
Sunday 26 August 11.00 am
Peadar O'Donnell, Socialist and Republican - a reassessment
Peter Hegarty, writer and broadcaster, author of Peadar O'Donnell: A Life.
Chair: Declan Bree, alderman, former Mayor of Sligo and Dail deputy.
Sunday 26 August 2.30 pm
Republicanism and Labour in Ireland Today: interaction and potential
- Eamon Gilmore TD, former Minister of State at the Department of the Marine, and Labour spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government.
- Eddie Glackin, trade union official with SIPTU.
- Tom Hartley, former general secretary and national chairman of Sinn Fein, councillor for the Lower Falls on Belfast City Council and author of Written in Stone:the History of Belfast City Cemetery.
- Dr Martin Mansergh TD, historian, adviser on Northern issues to Fianna Fail Taoisigh Charles Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern and long-time participant in the peace process.
Chair: Eamon Devoy, trade union official and member of the Executive Committee, Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
Sunday 26 August 8.00 pm
by kind invitation of Helga and Cathal MacLiam at their home at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6
Bookings and Admission:
Full School €20; Individual sessions €6;
Frank Keoghan, Summer School Director, 25 Shanowen Crescent, Dublin 9; Telephone 00-353-1-8423076; Mobile 087-2308330 for further information.
Books and pamphlets on Irish history and politics will be on sale at the Summer School, especially those offering alternatives to the current official and academic orthodoxy.
How to get there
Middle Abbey Street is off the west side of Dublin's O'Connell Street, and the Luas line goes right past the ATGWU Hall at No.55-56, where this year's School is being held. The Summer School expects to return to its usual venue at the Labour History Society premises next year when current refurbishments there are completed.
Summer School Director: Frank Keoghan; Committee: Owen Bennett, Anthony Coughlan, Finbarr Cullen, Mary Cullen, Francis Devine, Kevin McCorry, Cathal MacLiam, Dr Alf O'Brien, Daltún O Ceallaigh, Dr Ruan O'Donnell, Muriel Saidléar
The Just Books Collective and Organise! will host the first Belfast anarchist bookfair from the 31st to 1st September in Belfast Unemploymed Resource Centre 45/47 Donegall Street, Belfast. The bookfair has something for everyone interested in working class struggles and finding out about anarchism. From books on labour and Irish history, struggles across the globe, radical thinkers, anarchist, socialist and feminist books and pamphlets, t-shirts, badges and much more. There will also be meetings on the history of anarchism in Belfast, workplace organising, international workers struggles, resisting the water charges, Justice for Dockers, and the struggle for women's right to choose both north and south.
The Just Books Collective and Organise! will host the first Belfast anarchist bookfair from the 31st to 1st September in Belfast Unemploymed Resource Centre 45/47 Donegall Street, Belfast. The bookfair has something for everyone interested in working class struggles and finding out about anarchism. From books on labour and Irish history, struggles across the globe, radical thinkers, anarchist, socialist and feminist books and pamphlets, t-shirts, badges and much more. There will also be meetings on the history of anarchism in Belfast, workplace organising, international workers struggles, resisting the water charges, Justice for Dockers, and the struggle for women's right to choose both north and south.??Sean Matthews states: "Despite the public spin of a 'new era' in the north our communities are being torn apart by property developers and ongoing sectarianism, meanwhile we are expected to bend over backwards for the bosses who are getting rich off everyone else's backs. ?The bookfair seeks to highlight that working class people can and are fighting back against capitalist exploitation independent of politicians. The bookfair also seeks to promote a vision of a new society based on working class people running their own communities and workplaces for our benefit."?
International Brigade Memorial Trust
Annual general meeting
Belfast, 12–14 October 2007
Friday 12 October
Reception and exhibition, Linen Hall Library; welcome by John Gray, Ciarán Crossey, and Peter Bunting (Irish Congress of Trade Unions)
Saturday 13 October
Unveiling of the memorial in Belfast
Introduced by Kevin Doherty, Bob Doyle, and Margaret Ritchie (Minister for Social Development)*
Civic reception and public meeting, Grosvenor Hall, opened by Councillor Jim Rodgers, Lord Mayor of Belfast, with the participation of Hazelwood College Choir. Guest speakers: Jack Jones; Amaya Ruiz Ibárruri (daughter of Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria)*
Closing: Patricia McKeown (Irish Congress of Trade Unions)*
Annual general meeting of International Brigade Memorial Trust
Dinner, Grosvenor Hall
Social event, Europa Hotel. Musicians and entertainers, including Brenda O’Riordan, Mel Corry and Pól Mac Adaim, Tommy Sands, Paul (the Brother) McGuire, Gerry Jones ands friends.
Sunday 14 October
Bus tour of historic Belfast or film, To Die in Madrid, John Hewitt Bar and Restaurant
Lunch, John Hewitt bar and restaurant, with local politicians and trade union and community activists. Booking essential.
Close of the event
*To be confirmed
During October there will be an exhibition of original material, letters, newspapers and photographs in the Linen Hall Library.
Changes may occur in the programme. However, all venues are firmly booked. Day’s Hotel is holding forty rooms for those who want to stay; phone (028) 90242494, e-mail email@example.com, fax (028) 90242495; postal payment by cheque to Day’s Hotel, 40 Hope Street, Belfast BT12 5EE, and please quote the reference BTAGM when booking.
For further information about the AGM contact Lynda Walker, 077 51951785 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For the International Brigades Commemoration Committee contact Kevin Doherty, 077 48148863, or Ciarán Crossey, 077 59393607.
For accompodation and travel information contact the Welcome Centre, 47 Donegall Place, phone (028) 90246609, e-mail email@example.com.