Sunday 23 September 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No 21

The Plough
(Web site
Vol. 4- No 21
Sunday 23rd September 2007
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) Poverty in Ireland

2) Alternative Processes: Can Republican Re-groupment succeed?

3) Human Rights Commission Criticises Garda

4) Are Footballers Paid Too Much?

5) Support the students

6) Letters

7) From the Media
a. Killings of trade unionists up by 25%

8) What’s On?

Seamus Costello 30th Anniversary Commemoration, Sunday 7th of October.

Assemble at 1pm at the old town hall (Mc Donald’s) main Street Bray for march and rally to little bray Cemetery. RSM flute bands in attendance, prominent speakers. All areas are requested to organise transport to attend such an important event.

Poverty in Ireland
At the beginning of September the Combat Poverty Agency launched its 2006 Annual Report. Once again as in previous years, the CPA exposed the soft belly of the Celtic Tiger. The report claimed that one in ten children was living in poverty in families where certain basics like food clothing and heating were scarce or non-existent. Unlike in the past this poverty is not open and in your face. Instead it is hidden away in huge working class housing estates where the comfortable and the well off never go unless as social workers probation officers or Garda. Those most affected are the elderly, children, the long-term unemployed and the sick and disabled. Some of the factors associated with poverty are poor physical health, mental illness, educational disadvantage ignorance of rights to public services and low self esteem. Many caught in the poverty trap are unable to seek work, as they are older people, carers, lone parents, children and people who are sick and disabled.

The Coalition Government of Fianna fail and the Green Party has set out as a target the eradicating of poverty by 2016. To do that it must increase the
Number of flexible and responsive public services, particularly in the
areas of health, education, employment, housing and transport. Access to good public services such as health and education is a must if poverty is to be eliminated yet the Health Service Executive (HSE) imposed recent cutbacks designed to tackle a €245 million financial deficit. No one should be in any doubt that it will be only working class people who will suffer from this as the rich and the middle classes because of their incomes will still be able to access high quality services. Ireland has low levels of social spending compared with other EU countries. Yet countries, which spend more on social services, enjoy lower levels of poverty.

Under the present systems both North and South the increasing tendency towards the privitisation of health and education, the high costs of medicines due to the drug companies more interested in profits that helping patients, and the elitism and pursuit of their private practices by some consultants and doctors are all factors militating against winning the battle against poverty. Unfortunately as yet there does not exist a strong enough party representing the working class prepared to take a clear anti-capitalist stand to lead the fight against the forces that cause poverty in the first place.

In The Plough Vol 4-20 we reprinted the speech by the RSYM at a recent meeting on alternative processes to the Good Friday Agreement. The Republican Socialist Youth Movement over the past year has been attempting to reach out to all Socialist, Republican and progressive organisations and individuals. The debate was organised by the RYSM. Below we reprint a comment from Socialist Democracy’s John McAnulty and then add our own comments.

Alternative Processes: Can Republican Re-groupment succeed?

23 August 2007

John McAnulty

A recent meeting titled ‘alternative processes’ on Belfast's Falls Road (Saturday August 18th) showed the strengths and weaknesses of attempts at republican regroupment. The meeting, billed as an exploration of alternatives to the Good Friday Agreement, had on the platform speakers from the SDLP and the Irish Labour party, supporting the agreement, and speakers from eirigi and Socialist republican youth opposing.

The 30+ meeting illustrated the strengths and weaknesses of attempts at republican regroupment. The supporters were young, working class, enthusiastic and with a very serious approach to the discussion.

Weaknesses were also evident. Many Republican groups were absent, and the number of different groups supporting the meeting also illustrated the fragmentation of the movement. With fragmentation went unclarity and uncertainty.

Political insecurity may explain the decision to invite the SDLP and LP. It was certainly a mistake, protested by members of the audience.

As it was, these speakers, speaking to well-prepared briefs, dominated the meeting with a defence of imperialism. Their case was not strong, but it was coherent and they were willing to deploy an arrogant mixture of insult and untruth to support their case. Opponents were called Stalinists and supporters of a bloodbath. The SDLP speaker denied British sponsorship of Loyalist paramilitaries!

The row with the pro-imperialist speakers obscured massive weaknesses in analysis and perspective by the republican speakers. It is simply wrong to explain the absolute political collapse of republicanism in terms of the machinations of the British security forces inside the movement. It is insufficient to say that, for republicans, militarism is only a tactic. That’s not what republicans said in the past, and to brush off the devastating effects of militarist ideology is a bit like an alcoholic announcing that they can take it or leave it and are cured now. A new republican movement really has to explain the mistakes of the past if it is to convincingly advance a new policy.

In the absence of such analysis it is hardly surprising that the solution – a ‘broad front’ built on localist agitation, had a familiar ring. This is again what republicans did in the past and one of the reasons why they were able to avoid so many issues of class politics. The alternative to a ‘broad front’ is a principled united front, built around genuine political agreement on class issues and common activity on central issues.

In fact the meeting itself was the ‘broad front’ writ small. Inviting the SDLP and LP on to the platform did not significantly increase the audience for the meeting and acted to prevent a useful discussion. The argument for their presence was that, if we were unable to defeat their arguments behind closed doors, we would be unable to defeat them on the streets.

The problem with that argument is that there is no ‘we’. The pro-imperialist speakers were faced with a patchwork quilt of different groups and policies. A regroupment of republicans and socialists would consist of patient political discussion and attempts at joint activity leading to a common programme.
That’s what a number of militants in the meeting called for – a new meeting where an internal discussion could take place. Let us hope they get their wish.

The Plough responds.

Comrade Mc Anulty fails to recognise that the Alternatives Processes was organised by the RYSM and was specifically geared towards the youth wings of political organisations. Perhaps John should have realised this when he saw that the” supporters were young, working class, enthusiastic and with a very serious approach to the discussion.”
As regards the accusation of” political insecurity” by inviting the youth wings of the SDLP and the ILP this is just hot air. Does John think one should only invite those who we agree with? In that case there would be few at the meeting. And as it was geared towards young people does John not think that exposure to different ideas could only help clarify and lead to questioning?

The absence of other republicans can not be held at the door of the organisers and as for fragmentation leading towards “unclarity” and “uncertainty” perhaps John should consider the history of Sinn Fein (provisional) For many years it was an organisation united and strong and its only rivals in republican terms were the IRSP. Yet its politics, surely the critical issue, were a mish mash of nationalism, popularism, sectarianism and vague leftist leanings.
Fragmentation has actually helped raise the level of debate about the way forward for those who still consider themselves anti- Imperialist.
Debates and meeting are one way to help rebuild the anti-imperialist movement. Perhaps Socialist Democracy should follow the example set by the RSYM and lobby for or actually organise
. “ A regroupment of republicans and socialists (which) would consist of patient political discussion and attempts at joint activity leading to a common programme.”

Human Rights Commission Criticises Garda

Shock-horror! The Irish Human Rights Commission has criticised the Garda Síochána, claiming it does not fully guarantee human rights. This is just amazing. Amazing that only now despite the cover ups in Donegal, despite the planting of explosives by Garda, despite the daily harassment of republican socialist members of the IRSP, despite the history of the ‘Heavy Gang and the collusion with British forces, that a human rights body actually says that the Garda is some distance from being fully human
rights compliant. Goodness what is happening?

Are Footballers Paid Too Much?

This is a question, which is often asked and discussed within the more cultured circles of working class life. In public houses, working men’s clubs, bistros and wine bars across what we are for some reason pleased to call the “developed world” this is a subject which will invariably find an audience. It would be found by the casual observer that there appears to be no overall consensus on this topical subject, though I believe that a small majority to one degree or another would say yes.

However if we examine the subject a little closer and then place it in the broader scheme of capitalist society it may paint a slightly different picture to the casual observer than first imagined. Firstly the system we live under, or in many cases exist, goes by the grand sounding name of capitalism. There is very little grand about it at all in fact; if it was not so serious, laughable would be a more apt name. Under the system of capitalism the vast majority of people, the working class, sell the only commodity they have to sell, their labour power to an employer for a monetary wage. This system is sometimes referred to as “wage slavery”, a most fitting description, and it is the duty of every wage slave to attain the highest price and most favourable conditions for their labour power attainable, and footballers, most whom come from working class backgrounds, are no exception.

For example let us take a bus driver who works for a company which pays, sake of argument, 10 euro per hour. Another bus company pays 12 euro for the same amount of labour power, excelled in the same time span, what does the bus driver do? Under normal circumstances, providing their family do not have to be inconvenienced too much, the employer paying 12euro per hour would secure the services of our bus driver. The same argument applies, generally speaking, right across the wage earner spectrum, and this includes footballers. Workers are always trying to improve their working conditions and wages, which highlight the contradictions of capitalism, normally through the negotiating machinery of their trade union. Again footballers are no exception, they too have a trade union (and many also have agents), the Professional Footballers Association, who try to improve the terms and conditions of their members. One improvement where the PFA were successful was back in 1978 when they secured the abolition of the “retain and transfer system”. This system had been challenged by players as far back as 1963 and in 1978 these challenges finally reaped harvest. Under the “retain and transfer system” a player whose contract with a club had expired was not free to move to another club. His old club could offer him a new contract on less favourable terms and conditions and lower wages and still retain his registration, without which he could not play for another club.

With such constraints on the professional footballers ability to sell his trade for the highest wages and best terms and conditions there was much room for improvement. Now let us revert back to our bus driver. Let us take a scenario where this employee decides they no longer wish to work for company A because company B are offering higher wages and better terms and conditions of employment. Now imagine if company A had the legal right to retain the drivers Public Service Vehicle (PSV) License, without which the bus driver could not drive buses for another company, it is a similar scenario.

Another point which is normally overlooked when people are attempting to square the circle of footballers pay within the broader scheme of things is that footballers may be well paid, certainly compared to a bus driver. However it must be remembered that footballers are entertainers and in the narrower parameters of entertainers pay the picture does not look so rosy, in the pay league of the entertainment business footballers are not the league leaders. We should also remember that when we are talking of footballs millionaires’ reference can only be made to a minority of players. To paraphrase the late legendary George Best, the finest player ever to grace a football field in my experience which is fairly wide, who argued why he deserved £20,000 per annum. His argument went along the lines I’m an “entertainer” that is what I do I “entertain”. The Rolling Stones, also entertainers, will get paid more for one concert than “I” will probably earn in an entire season. George argued this point, in my opinion successfully, when he was at his peak and not even considering early retirement. Admittedly the pay gap in the entertainment business, particularly comparing some footballers to rock stars, has narrowed but the argument remains constant. Footballers are still well behind the likes of Bono in the entertainers pay league, and if we look at the lower divisions or the Football Association of Ireland we see a different, less rosy, picture altogether. Under the capitalist system, if system is the correct term, if a person has a skill, which football is, at their disposal the higher the level of this skill can command a higher monetary wage for its sale. Perhaps a more sensible argument would be not that footballers are overpaid but the rest of us are underpaid because we all possess a certain amount of skill which can be put to socially necessary use. However we are talking about putting skills to equally valued use constructively under a socialist society which, unfortunately, we presently do not have therefore, under the present conditions, no individual or group can be blamed for demanding the highest attainable pay for their labour power including skills and talent.

If society as a whole was built on sense and not stupidity then these obscene pay gaps would not exist. Under a socialist system, it is certainly hoped, everybody will have a very good and decent standard of living, their needs would be provided for including old age and this would include footballers. The need to constantly clamour for more money would no longer exist so perhaps this debate would also die a death. Football would once again become a sport, the people’s game, belonging to the fans and not big business. Capitalism has relegated football from a passionate sport to a large scale commercial business. The needs of the fans and, to a certain extent players, come very much secondary to the interests of big business. However things can be organised differently, even in football. In 2005 a group of disillusioned Manchester United fans who were fed up with the way they were being treated at Old Trafford, home ground of Manchester United, especially over ever increasing prices to get in, higher prices for season tickets, kick off times changed to suit Sky television and the profits of Rupert Murdoch, the relegation of supporters from fans to customers, the take over of huge swathes of the ground by corporate business and crowned by the debt laden takeover of the club by American business tycoon Malcolm Glazer. These supporters, who had supported Man Utd for years in many cases home, away and abroad sometimes hitchhiking across continents to see their team formed their own club, Football Club United of Manchester (FCUM) one of the principle aims to give the game back to the fans. As many FCUM fans are at pains to point out what happened was nothing to do with what was happening on the pitch at Old Trafford but more to do with events behind the scenes off it, we are still United fans but “not United customers”. FCUM are involved with all the aspects of life which a community based football club should be involved in, the very same as most football teams were once upon a time. These involvements include encouraging school kids to be more involved in proactive subjects like sport, as opposed to hanging around street corners, charity and community work and combating racism in the game. Gate prices are £7.50 for adults, £2.00 for under 18s and £5.00 for OAPs and unemployed persons. The club manifesto reads “The aim of FC United of Manchester is to create a sustainable club for the long term which is owned and democratically run by its members, which is accessible to all the communities of Manchester and one which they can participate fully”. This, it should be mentioned, is exactly how the Catalan giants Barcelona began life and still operate, so to the philistines who expected FCUM to collapse think again we are still very much alive. How long this socialistic experiment can survive in a sea of capitalism remains to be seen but as we enter our third year, with two promotions and a league cup under our belt, things are looking bright. Whatever happens we have certainly put it up to the establishment in the comparatively small world of football. There are other fan run clubs, Wimbledon being one, but FCUM are the first to stand up and break away from one of the giants. The players are classed as semi professional; they all do other jobs as well, and sell their player skills to FC Utd which they are also supporters of.

All this is a far cry from the imbecile world of the premiership but it should be remembered the theft of football from the working class by big business was done under our very noses under the guise of bringing investment into the game. It is true that, again under the present conditions, investment was needed but this could have been done without alienating the natural owners of the game, the working class. The myth of the overpaid players is just another straw man put up to blind supporters from the real problems which big business has brought, along with its investment, that being cultural theft.

Kevin Morley IRSP Dublin

Support the students!
Ten students who are SIPTU members working in Eye Cinema at Wellpark in Galway have been suspended after voting for industrial action. The SIPTU shop steward has been sacked.

The students had been attempting to address a number of issues in relation to their working conditions. These issues include: a failure by the cinema to pay the staff any increments for working on Sundays or after midnight, which is an entitlement under law, and also in some cases, a failure to pay several staff members holiday pay, once again an entitlement under law.

To support the students please email your complaints to Edward Holdings
who own and run the cinema:

From the Media

Killings of trade unionists up by 25%

144 trade unionists were murdered for defending workers' rights in 2006, while more than 800 suffered beatings or torture, according to the Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights Violations, published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The report details nearly 5,000 arrests and more than 8,000 dismissals of workers due to their trade union activities. 484 new cases of trade unionists held in detention by governments are also documented in the report.

What’s On?

Press Release.

Cork 32CSM Organise Protest at Hugh Orde Visit.

The Finbar Walsh Cumann of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Cork City have organised a protest against a proposed visit by RUC/PSNI Chief
Constable Hugh Orde. The Chief of this illegal paramilitary police force has
been invited to speak at the Rotary Club 2007 Conference, Cork, at the
Rochestown Park Hotel on Friday 28th September. The Theme of this conference is Ireland, The way forward‚ which is obviously misleading as Republican separatists can see no role for a British police force in Ireland‚s future.
The conference is due to begin at 11.30am and the Finbar Walsh Cumann have invited a number of Republican organisations to join the protest. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement would urge All‚ republicans to endeavour to attend as it is vitally important to expose the RUC/PSNI‚s continuing role in the illegal occupation of Ireland and Britain‚s claim to sovereignty over

Seamus Costello Memorial Talk

The politics and ideas of Seamus Costello

To coincide with the 30th anniversary of Seamus Costello's murder the Republican Socialist Youth Movement have organised a memorial talk. The main address will be given by IRSP member Gerry Ruddy after contributions from former comrades of Seamus and young people.

Venue: An Culturlann, Falls Road, Belfast.
Date: 29th of September
Time: 1pm

Organised by Republican Socialist Youth Movement

Issue 7 of An Glor news sheet of the RSYM is now out containing an important an important critique entitled “The Tragedy of Michael Collins” contact RSYM at , on the forum , by telephoning the head IRSP office on (0044) 028 90 321024 or by writing to the address below:

392 Falls Road

Lunchtime Talks on the Belfast Dockers Strike 1907

Tuesdays in October in Dublin City Hall

Dublin City Libraries in association with SIPTU are holding 5 lunch timetalks in Dublin City Hall, Dame St, Dublin. The talks take place on Tuesday 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 Oct from1.10pm to 1.45pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.


It’s a 100 years since 1907 and Dublin City Libraries are running a series of free lunchtime lectures in Dublin City Hall in October. SIPTU are sponsoring. The talks are on Tuesdays 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 Oct from 1.10pm to 1.45pm.


2 Oct: City in Revolt: Jim Larkin and the Belfast Dockers’ and Carters’Strike 1907 by John Gray, Linenhall Library Belfast

9 Oct: Women workers and Belfast, 1907 by Theresa Moriarty, Irish Labour History Society

16 Oct: The RIC and the Belfast Strike by Hugh Forrester, Curator, Police Museum, Belfast

23 Oct: Belfast 1907: Context and Consequences by Henry Patterson, University of Ulster

30 Oct: Belfast 1907: Foundation stone of the Irish Transport and GeneralWorkers Union by Francis Devine, SIPTU College

More info from 01 2222204 or 01 6744996.


International Brigade Memorial Trust
Annual general meeting
Belfast, 12–14 October 2007
Friday 12 October
6:30 p.m.
Reception and exhibition, Linen Hall Library; welcome by John Gray, Ciarán Crossey, and Peter Bunting (Irish Congress of Trade Unions)
Saturday 13 October
11 a.m.
Unveiling of the memorial in Belfast
Introduced by Kevin Doherty, Bob Doyle, and Margaret Ritchie (Minister for Social Development)*
12:45 p.m.
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)*

3:45 p.m.
Annual general meeting of International Brigade Memorial Trust

5:15 p.m.
Dinner, Grosvenor Hall

7:30 p.m.
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
10:45 a.m.
Bus tour of historic Belfast or film, To Die in Madrid, John Hewitt Bar and Restaurant

12:30 p.m.
Lunch, John Hewitt bar and restaurant, with local politicians and trade union and community activists. Booking essential.

2:45 p.m.
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, 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
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

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