Monday 19 November 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No25

The Plough
(Web site
Vol. 4- No 25
Monday 19th November 2007
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) Bare Faced Hypocrisy

2) Trade unionism and Republican Socialism

3) Health Care Crisis

4) Poverty

5) In a Revolution You Win or you Die

6) Media -Dublin Bus Strike

7) What’s On?


Bertie Ahern and his government, have just committed one of the greatest crimes of hypocrisy imaginable even from a government representing the interests of the bourgeoisie. He and his government have just awarded themselves, all be it on the recommendations of an external body regarding public sector pay which could have been declined, a 14% pay rise while, at the same time urging wage restraint for the rest of the workers in the state.

“Tanaiste Brian Cowen said that a realistic approach to wage demands was necessary if Ireland wanted to maintain its competitiveness and living standards’ (Metro Friday November 9th 2007).

Firstly competitiveness does not secure higher living standards for working class people. Ask anybody who has recently lost their job due to competition either from other firms or other countries with slave labour economies/ So lets destroy that myth. Competitiveness, or so called perfect competition, means various firms compete with each other for a share of the so called “free market”, be it in Ireland or with companies in other countries normally where wages are so low they are often at starvation levels.

This ultimately leads to redundancies for the workers who can not afford to keep up with the competitive nature of the capitalist beast and will not accept wages more in line with those paid in Morocco or South Korea, Pakistan or India. James Connolly warned early in the 20th century about Ireland becoming the biggest “blacklegs” in Europe. Well if the capitalist system has its way Irish workers stand a good chance of becoming the biggest “blacklegs” on the planet. The argument must, therefore follow, how can a system which denies people the right to earn a decent living because the costs are too high for the company claim to maintain high living standards? Or does it really mean high living standards for the bosses at the expense, as usual, of the workers

Cowen was addressing delegates, at Farmleigh House in Dublin on Thursday 8th November 2007 ahead of next years pay talks under the “Towards 2016” partnership agreement. This agreement means the trade unions accept miserably low pay increases, often below the rate of inflation which amounts in real terms to a pay reduction, while the bosses profits soar. The Tanaiste went on to try and explain external factors such as rising oil prices and the weakening dollar, both symptoms of the capitalist system called international or global capitalism, which never appear to affect the profits and living standards of the bosses (bourgeoisie).

He went on to sanctimoniously preach “The national partnership agreements have served us well over the last decade and I would hope that this well tested approach can once again be relied upon in helping us meet the emerging challenges we now have to face”. Well I’m sure you do Brian after all you, and any successor to you, represent the interests of the bourgeois class therefore when you talk of “us” that is exactly to whom you are referring. These people when they talk of “us” are not being all inclusive or in any way objective “us” to them means the owners of the means of production, control and exchange be them indigenous Irish or multinational companies, and not in any way the creators of all wealth, the working class. Put plainly “us” does not include the working class except, of course, at times of elections.

So why do various governments of liberal democracies continually rub workers faces in the shit, some more bare faced than others? Simple, because they can get away with it! They represent the interests of high finance and if they could, in the interests of big business introduce a law freezing pay for ten years while profits rise and get away with it the chances are they would. Every now and again a radical voice of trade unionism will speak out but these people are increasingly more isolated. However the system has got in place a mechanism and allie called the Irish Congress of Trade Unions who will silence, to save the bosses the trouble, any rabble rouser(s) within their ranks. With these people at the helm the employers can rest assured that the ugly head of Larkinism and Connollyism will never again give the workers a lead in Ireland.

However it does not mean these people will be in charge for ever but, that said, only the dispossessed people can ultimately change things. Only the people who are taken the piss out of on a daily basis hold the power to bring about lasting, no, permanent change which means a little bit more than changing the government it means changing the system of government, it means Socialism and, in the case of Ireland, the establishment of a 32 county socialist republic with the working class in control. No amount of Dail elections will bring this metamorphosis about, real change comes from below. Exercise your right to vote, definitely exercise this right, before they remove this last vestige of democracy from your grasp but be under no illusions as to any serious level of change brought about by such elections.

Kevin Morley IRSP, Dublin


Trade unionism and Republican Socialism

The so-called expert writers of the Irish Trade Unions have no experience of the trade union culture in Ireland. Many of these trendy lefties have never attended a Branch meeting, or participated in any trade union activity.
Indeed some of these people live and work in Ireland and do not see the need to organise in their own non-union workplace. According to the European Union half the working population in Ireland are trade unionists -

Union density overall in Ireland had been around 50% for a number of years in the 1970s and early 1980s, but by 1987 it had fallen to 43.5%. There has once again been a growth in membership since then, and current union density is estimated to lie at around 50%.

These British, French, Italian trendy lefties rather than criticise the
Irish Unions should look at their own back yard; at the very least become involved in the trade union movement. Contrary to belief amongst the Continental trendy left, Irish trade unions have both a democratic content and mechanism.

Republican Socialists acknowledge the Irish Trade Union movement as the organised working class. As such, it is our only access to organise workers. It is not our aim to control and manipulate but rather to give a lead with ideas and action within our specific unions. Republican Socialists need to mobilise trade unionists on the ground to re-engage with their trade unions by participation within the democracy of trade unions at all levels.

However, it must be admitted that it was through this democracy that trade union bureaucracy sets in. The struggle to transform the unions inevitably comes up against this conservative bureaucracy, whose jobs depend on maintaining their role as middlemen in the struggles and negotiations between workers and bosses. The top three officials in
SIPTU receive nearly £80,000 a year.

In 1987 the propaganda machine of the Free State government and the bosses worked overtime to sell the Social Contract. Trade union leaders too were keen to sell their members the idea of social partnership, management and unions would get together to cooperate over improving the state of the Irish economy in order to share out the subsequent wealth generated . The Programme for National Recovery committed these 'social partners ' to "seek to regenerate the economy and improve the social equity of our society through their combined efforts."

As long as workers worked harder the size of the national cake would grow and consequently the workers share would grow to.

Today the government and the bosses yell bellicose attacks at workers fighting to defend themselves that there must be no conflict, no challenge to the social partnership,which has produced this redistribution of wealth to the rich, or the whole boom will fall apart. Is it the case that the boom was created and is sustained by the social contract, which holds workers wages in check while the bosses rake in super profits? The social contract has been the cover behind that foreign capitalists have sought to boost their profits by rising productivity, that is changing working conditions to make us all work harder and longer
As ICTU put it partnership means moving from "the clenched fist of confrontation to the open hand of cooperation." They are tied to the idea of social partnership, more accurately class collaboration. They act like referees in the fight between workers and bosses rather than leaders. Yet they are not the ones suffering short-term contracts or total quality management.

Nevertheless, this can change. One Republican Socialist openly opposed this bureaucracy. Moreover, using the same democratic mechanism was elected with more than 50% more votes under his hat than the bureaucrat.

Revolutionary change of the unions is about a fight to change the leaders and in many cases the structures and rules whereby all trade union officials are elected, recallable. Moreover, to achieve this requires the organisation of the rank and file of the unions against the bureaucracy. Remember every vote in the trade unions are by postal ballot. It is worth noting that in some cases for a trade unionist to be elected on to the Executive, it takes 5 times as many votes as a local authority councillor. Trade unions might be “schools for socialism”, but trade union consciousness is not spontaneously socialist.

Some have asked the question why trade unions exist. Workers are aware what the Unions do. They know that they defend wages and conditions, and provide legal aid both inside and outside the place of work. These things are important. However, why was it important to fight for them?

The answer to this question is to be found in the foundations of trade unionism and more importantly socialism also. Workers had to fight for these things because the employers and governments were not prepared to give them until they were forced. That is true and the force which they used was based upon their power to stop work, in other words in their power to strike. For that reason, Trade Unionists have always aimed at 100% organization, and have regarded the non-unionist as a danger and the strike-breaker as a “blackleg”.

Why have the workers had to rely upon their power to withhold labour?
“For the reason that workers have no other power than their labour power”. In a capitalist society, the working class is in a distinctive position. In comparative terms, workers have no property. It is dependent upon the class, which exploits it. The capitalist, owns the factories, mills, mines, railways, transport. That is why the removal of labour by the workers can be so powerful a weapon when used on a large scale.

When Trade Unionists fight the employers on wages questions and the conditions of labour they are really fighting against consequences f the capitalist system. The existence of the private ownership of the means of production means also the private ownership of the things produced and their sale as commodities in competition one with another.

Labour also is a commodity and those who sell their labour power, the members of the working class, manual and brain-worker alike, also compete like other Trade unions are the basic organisation of the Irish working-class
However; they are much more than that. They are the kernel of the future Irish society within the old.

Of course, since the workers organisations exist in a capitalist Ireland they are subjected to alien class pressures. This includes both the Irish Ruling class and US imperialism. These pressures weigh heavily on the upper stratum and this often leads to degeneration. We are not dealing with an ideal norm, but with the mass organisations, as they really exist in class society. The distortions that occur, especially in periods when the working class is not on the move, can produce a feeling that the unions cannot be changed. This serious mistake is contradicted by the historical experience of the movement. Repeatedly the workers have moved to transform their organisations into organs and schools of solidarity, struggle and socialism.

The history of the Irish unions is not a straight line. On the contrary,
it unfolds in an uneven fashion with various contradictory shifts in one direction or another. It is constantly characterised by the struggle between two traditions and two tendencies. A revolutionary one, reflecting the unconscious will of the working class to change society, and a subservient one, reflecting the pressures of the ruling class on the upper stratum, that then attempts to block the movement to change society and lead it instead like a lamb into safe channels.

In normal periods, the consciousness of the workers is affected by the dead weight of tradition and routine. In such times, most people are prepared to accept the leadership of the Professionals, Bourgeois and reformist politicians, Members of the Dail, Parliament, councillors and trade union leaders.

The Venezuelan CTV (the old national trade union federation) sold its soul to the old two-party capitalist system and governments it produced.
For 40 years, the Venezuelan trade union movement lived through its worst period, because workers were puppets in the games played by the old parties (Copei and AD) and the bosses’ organizations. Venezuelan still remember how AD (Democratic Action) decided the fate of workers, bought and sold contracts and worked with the government to control the unions and the CTV. We should remember that the bosses’ strike of 2002-3was led by CTV and Fedecamaras (the bosses’ organization) working hand in hand. The Irish trade unions were doing just the same when they signed the social contract.

However, there are periods of crises and upheavals, when the working class is shaken out of the old apathy and begins to take action, demanding solutions, asking questions. Being close to the class, the unions reflect this changed mood very early on. Moreover, what happens in the unions today will be expressed perhaps as problems in the Irish Republican Socialist Party tomorrow?

The pioneers of Irish Labour Connolly, Larkin were inspired by a vision.
They believed that the trade union movement and Republican Socialism would become a powerful weapon of social emancipation. This revolutionary aspiration was, and in many cases remains, enshrined in trade union rules and constitutions.

Through the experience of collective struggle, the working class gradually raises itself to an understanding of the need to change society. It develops a sense of its own power and ability. One can see this in every strike. Marxists base themselves on this fact and strive to develop this tendency and bring it to the fullest expression.

The role of Marxists in the trade unions is to make conscious the unconscious will of the working class to change society. The working class has within its ranks a tremendous strength and resilience. Even when it suffers a terrible and crushing defeat, it recovers and again reasserts itself. It is like the Greek god Antaeus of ancient mythology, who when thrown to the ground, drew strength from his mother the earth.
Whatever obstacles lay in its path, the objective conditions of life force it to continually struggle against the system of capitalist exploitation. Those who argue that the class struggle is out of date are obviously out of touch with the reality of Ireland in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Trade unions must be organised to recognize that all the efforts of the working class must be directed to the goal of the conquest of political power. Their fight in the industrial field must be linked with the fight to obtain a Socialist Government which, backed by the might of the working class, would transfer the ownership of the means of production and distribution from private hands to social ownership.

(Peter Black)


Health Care Crisis

There is a health care crisis in the British Isles. Despite huge amounts of money being poured in conditions are gradually getting worse. In the North of Ireland the health Minister complains that his department is under-funded compared to the rest of the UK. In the Republic patients dread a recommendation from their doctors to go to hospitals dreading hospital trollies, disease, cancelled operations and appalling services. The same can be applied to many hospitals in the UK. Why?
Most of these problems stem from creeping privatisation and marketisation of the public services, most notably begun under MargretThatcher embraced by New Labour, Fianna Fail, Progressive Democrats and all the main stream parties in the north of Ireland. The Tories began the contracting-out of ancillary services like catering, laundry and cleaning thereby beginning the rise in hospital-acquired infections. More significantly, however, they began the process of turning the NHS from a cohesive, integrated body - in which service provision was planned to meet the health needs of local populations - into a loose assemblage of competing 'businesses', linked by market or quasi-market transactions.

They did this, in the first instance, by making hospitals and local doctors' surgeries independent of direct control by local health authorities, introducing an 'internal market', in which 'purchasers' (health authorities) had to 'commission' local services from 'providers' (usually, NHS trusts). To begin with, all the participants in this market were public sector bodies, but they were forced to behave like commercial businesses. Increasingly, the costs of all the transactions between different NHS bodies made up a significant proportion of expenditure within the service and the number of bureaucrats, accountants, lawyers, etc. mushroomed at the expense of the number of clinical staff. Also, part of the aim was that, in due course, private health companies would be able to compete with NHS trusts to sell services to commissioning bodies. That is why the health services are in crisis
(Source Marxism Digest, Vol 48, Issue 46)




Most of us when we hear the term poverty more often than not assume poverty as being basically a lack of money. This is in part true but for a better understanding of poverty it is we need to go further than this clear-cut, definition of poverty.

Poverty is much more than a lack of money; it is about a lack of wealth. During the 1950s if a person could not afford a television that was not considered poverty but today it is. Today a television set is large element of wealth produced. In the 1950s it was not. Poverty is about a share of the wealth.
By the same token one could argue that there was less poverty during the 1930s because less wealth was produced. If you were stranded on a desert island and you had several thousand pounds in cash, but no shops in which to spend it while those around you had things such as food, clothing and shelter that would be poverty.You could not eat your money.

We live in a society whereby elements of wealth also consist of Housing, education and Health. Therefore any cuts in these social needs must also contribute to the increasing levels of Poverty

Growing world poverty and conflict shows the barbarity of capitalism. The last ten years there has been a major expansion in poverty around the world. The day to day decisions of who lives and who dies on this planet are not taken by Governments but in the board rooms of multi-national corporations whose only reason for continued existence is the extraction of the maximum amount of sweat, blood and tears from the workers of this planet in order to swell their ever increasing coffers.

Under the system of capitalism crime, corruption, and underhandedness go hand in hand.The figures for those in poverty are disturbing:

54 countries saw the decline of average incomes during the whole of the 1990's

21 countries actually went backwards in terms of human development, which is measured by income, life expectancy and literacy.

On a daily basis 30,000 children die from illnesses which are totally preventable.

Annually, 500,000 women, that is one for every minute of every day die in pregnancy or childbirth.
In the 1990's alone 13 million children were killed by diarrhoea which equates to more than the entire number of people killed in all armed conflicts since World War II.

In Zimbabwe the average life expectancy has gone down from 56 in the early 1970's to 33.1 during the 1990's. In the UK life expectancy rose from 72 to 78.2 in the same period.

In Sierra Leone 363 children in every 1000 or over 1 third do not reach their fifth birthday. Just as a comparison in Norway only four children in 1000 do not survive or just 0.4%.

These facts come from the United Nations Annual Development report which saw more than 50 countries have a decline in living standards during the 1990's.


According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) report poverty levels in Ireland are still among the highest in the EU despite having the second highest GDP in the EU. The Minister for Social Affairs, Seamus Brennan T.D.said that while the eradication of poverty in Irish society remains of the highest priority for the Government, it is also important to state that in less than a decade at least 250,000 people have been lifted out of deprivation and hardship as a result of concentrated and targeted measures and supports. Seamus Brennan is either a fool or a liar. If he believes that he has lifted 250. 0000 people out of poverty, he has failed even to recognise his own Governments interpretation of poverty.

People are living in poverty if their income and resources (material, cultural and social) are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living, which is regarded as acceptable by Irish society generally. As a result of inadequate income and resources people may be excluded and marginalised from participating in activities, which are considered the norm for other people in society.

A greater part of those lifted out of poverty were removed from one area of deprivation to another. Forcing people off benefits on to other benefits not used in poverty measurements. There are more than 290,000 people living in consistent poverty, those who do not reach the more than the 50% baseline. Therefore those with incomes less than 50% of the national average income are not considered to be in poverty

IRSP research discovered that those on the Poverty line or just below it have incomes less than 50% of the national average.The worst affected are those not in a position to take up a job -- older people, carers, lone parents, children, the long-term unemployed and people who are sick or disabled. An EU Report on Income and Living Conditions, from last year found that "almost one in five people" in the 26 Counties remained "at risk of poverty"

The only cure is the eradication of the Capitalist system and it's replacement with a Workers Republic; a democratic socialist planned economy controlled by councils of workers, trade unions and governments, who are subjected to the immediate right of recall by the people at any time.


What we have we have to deal with is that economic power is now in the hands of the World Bank, the IMF and GATT, which are unrestricted by the processes of government. The making of environmental problems is a result of the capitalist mode of production. Consequently capitalism is unable to coexist with sustainable development. . The poor, therefore, are by and large ignored and not a concern to multi-national developers than the environment itself. The poor, after all, are a reserve resource of cheap labour.

We see on a worldwide scale greater instability, conflicts and misery for millions around the globe.

In terms of international co operation we could set in motion a global plan based on needs to eliminate poverty. We could introduce education, development, and an end to the destructive conflicts that have torn the world apart. Then we can begin to enrich the lives of our fellow human beings and put an end once and for all to the human suffering that currently plagues our race. We have the technology, the knowledge and the ability to truly build paradise on Earth for all, while at the same time living in harmony with nature, and putting an end to the environmental destruction of our planet,

(Peter Black)


Some key statistics on Inequality

97% of those studying ‘Home Economics’ are female compared to only 35% those studying ‘Economics

92% of the Traveller community have no GCSEs or equivalent (compared with 5% of all NI school leavers)

Almost two in five (39%) female employees work part-time compared with 6% of males.

The employment rate for those without disabilities (79%) is over twice that of people with disabilities (32%).

Some 70% of social housing tenants live in communities that are at least 90% Catholic or Protestant.

Only 17% of Northern Ireland’s MLAs (18 out of 108) are women, compared with 33% in the Scottish Parliament and 47% in the Welsh Assembly.

Although almost one in five persons (18%) of working-age are disabled in NI, in 2006 only 3% of appointees to government public appointments were disabled

The 2005 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey (NILT) found that 25% of respondents felt they were either very prejudiced or a little prejudiced compared to 11% when surveyed in 1994.
(Source speech byBob Collins head of Equality Commission (NI) 23/10/07)


In a Revolution You Win or you Die
Interview with Cuban writer Ulises Estrada

Questions by Gűnther Pohl, translation and introduction by Marion Baur

Ulises Estrada Lescaille (born 1934 in Santiago de Cuba) has Cuban and Haitian roots. Like many people from the eastern provinces of Cuba he was involved in the struggle against the dictatorship. After the victory of the revolution he became deputy-leader of the secret service which was then headed by Comandante Manuel Piñero, who was involved in the preparation of “Operation Fantasma” in Bolivia.
Ulises Estrada went to support several national liberation movements in Africa during later years. He was Cuba’s ambassador in Jamaica, Yemen, Algeria and Mauritania.
During the time of the Allende –government he worked for the Cuban embassy in Chile and became its military leader during the fascist Pinochet-coup in 1973.
He worked for “Granma Internacional” and was editor of the newspaper “Tricontinental”. Since his retirement from newspaper-journalism he has been writing books, his latest one “Tanja – undercover with Che in Bolivia” was first published in Australia (2005) and recently in Germany. The amazing piece of literature sparked off my writing-cooperation with Gűnther Pohl. The articles for the German “UZ” and “Unity” (see Unity, October 6th, 2007 the article is also on the CPI website) here in Ireland have since been reprinted by a number of publications.
Gűnther asked the following questions, I translated the interview into English.

Q. Ulises, there are several books about Tamara Bunke or “Tanja la guerillera”. Why did you write another one?
A. I wrote the book “Tanja la guerillera y la epopey suramericana del Che” as a tribute in defence of her political thinking. This thinking has lead her to give her life during the struggle for a just America, free of merciless exploitation. But it is also a book in honour of Nadja’s (Tamara’s mother, MB) struggle to defend a truthful memory of her daughter.
Q. It is being said over and again that Tamara and Che had a relationship, some even say there are children. Is there any truth in that?
A. Lies of this kind have been published in several books about Che. My book was written to tear these lies into pieces. They are being told about the heroic life of Tamara by the mercenaries of imperialism, the enemies of the revolution, the lovers of the dollar at all costs. Those people are not able to understand what the life and the example of Comandante Che Guevara meant for Tamara Bunke, his example shaped her into Tanja first, then into the guerillera. The same example inspires those who raise the flag with his picture today and at every corner of this planet where people scream against injustice.
I have written the book, aiming to honour the men and women who still fight in Latin- America today and who defend the legitimate interests of their peoples, no matter what the revolutionary way they have chosen looks like.
Q. You toured Germany with the book recently. Was that important for you?
A. Tamara was Argentine but also German, her father was a German Communist. That’s the reason why I introduced the book in 16 German cities right across the country. The Germans need to get to know the story of the wonderful struggle of one of their fellow citizens during the 20th century. The presence of people from all levels of German society at the events and talks made the effort well worth while.
Q. What message has Tanja la Guerillera for us today, 40 years after she has been murdered? Is there an up-to-date-relevance in a time when the armed struggle has been given up in most places?
A. The example Tanja set when fighting side by side with Che Guevara and his Bolivian, Cuban and Peruan comrades in the ELN, the army of national liberation, has left an inextinguishable trace within the political – revolutionary life of Latin-America.
These comrades have proved that whoever wants to end capitalist exploitation, the cause of alienating human beings and stripping them of their most basic rights, must be totally devoted to the cause. This struggle means unfavourable conditions, sacrifices, and the firm decision to go the path Che outlined to the very end. En una revoluciōn se triumfa o se muere – in a revolution you win or you die.
The armed struggle suffered many rebounds not just that of the ELN in Bolivia and in Peru, also in Argentina and other places. Let’s not forget that the rebound during the attack on the Moncada-barracks sowed the seeds which lead to the victory of the Cuban revolution during the following months.
And let’s not forget that revolutionary men and women in Columbia are still singing the songs of freedom with guns in their hands today, fighting a corrupt government which – side by side with the drugs-bosses – betrays the interests of the people and is a willing servant of US-imperialism.
It was the Guerrilla-struggle in Venezuela which developed the very patriotism of the parts of the troops around Hugo Chavez which made them take up the arms and rise. This attempt was defeated but just a few years later they used different means to achieve the same ideological and political goals. That established the Bolivarian Revolution in this country.
President Evo Morales is now reaping the fruits of the titanic struggle by Che, Tanja and the heroic fighters who gave their lives in Bolivia 40 years ago: For the first time in history an indigene person is in power. His steps are firm; he has chosen revolution as his path.
Let me tell you: In various ways and everywhere in Latin-America, the flame of revolutionary liberation is burning!
The political heritage of Che, Tanja, Turcios Limo, Fabricio Ojeda, Massetti and the many other Latin-American martyrs is alive – it is so alive that their revolutionary ideas will lead the peoples of Latin-America to victory; in a time not far away at all.

(Reprinted from Unity newspaper of the CPI)


From The Media

Although the Dublin bus strike has been called off the struggle of the workers is not yet over. All republicans and socialists should support the just cause of the workers

Ireland: Dublin Bus Workers’ Strike - their story
By P. Bowman in Dublin
Monday, 19 November 2007
Dublin Bus management triggered off a strike of 500 bus drivers last Monday, November 11th, at one of Dublin's biggest bus depots when the company suspended a bus worker who refused to drive a bus on a new route. The company was trying to unilaterally impose new work schedules on the workers in order to cut costs. The workers claim that this would lengthen their working day by two or three hours without compensation. The workers are located in Harristown depot, near Dublin Airport, 11 kilometres from the city centre. When the depot was inaugurated two years ago, the company agreed with the workers that all drivers would start, break and finish in the depot. The agreement, however, was verbal, and now the company denies there was such an agreement. The company is clearly lying. That agreement has actually been the normal work routine since the depot started to operate two years ago. The company, however, unilaterally decided to change that arrangement on two new routes they were planning to introduce last Monday, 11th November. Drivers would start and finish in the city centre, over an hour away from the depot, around which, the unions claim, workers have developed their lifestyle. They park their cars, start, break and finish. There, they have a restaurant, a credit union and a gym (Irish Times, 10 Nov 07). In order to minimize the labour conflict that this change could create between management and the workers, the company hired 70 new workers to manage the new routes. The idea was to create a two-tier system, distinguishing between new and old workers. The workers and their unions (SIPTU and National Bus and Railworkers Union - NBRU) understood rightly that this could be the beginning of a worsening of working conditions for all bus drivers and opposed the move. Last week, and after nearly one year of negotiation with the workers, the company announced that the new routes would start on Monday, November 10th. They argued that a labour Court recommendation issued on October 22nd had ruled in favour of the company's position. The unions replied to this ultimatum with a union ballot (Friday, November 9th). The majority of the workers in both unions opted for full strike action if the company suspended workers who refused to accept the new work schedules. Willie Noone, SIPTU branch organiser, said that, "Our members will be reporting to work normally and will do so, unless the company forces them to operate on the new routes... If disruption does occur it will be because the company tries to change rosters and working conditions for drivers unilaterally." (Irish Times, 11 Nov 07). But on Monday the company suspended a female junior worker who refused to accept the new working conditions. Immediately, the rest of the workers in the depot came out in solidarity with her. A veteran bus driver on strike reported: "Everyone turned up on Monday morning to work as normal. We only walked out when one of our junior colleagues was suspended. Had that not happened, the garage would still be working, and if the suspension is lifted and the disputed rosters put to one side for now, the buses can be back on the street within hours. FYI, the working week in Dublin Bus starts on Sunday, not Monday, however junior drivers do not work Sunday, so the company deliberately held back on starting these routes until Monday morning in order to try to press a junior into doing the work. When she stood her ground, the result was inevitable." ( The whole point of the workers is that they have being suggesting better arrangements, so the workers wouldn't have to increase their working day and the management of the routes could also improve. The following account, by the same worker, illustrates very well who is to blame for any disruption created in the Dublin public transport system and the complete lack of efficiency of Dublin Bus management. It illustrates very well too that bus workers are much better qualified to manage the company by themselves: "A year ago the company called in the union reps and informed them that these routes were going ahead and straight out asked how much money we wanted to work them. We told them to stick it because it wasn't about money, it was about working time. In order to be flexible, we offered them a skite of compromises. We offered to break in the city and asked only that we be allowed to finish where we start so as to avoid the extra hour on our working day. When that wasn't acceptable, we offered to redeploy staff to city centre garages to split the bases from which we worked in order to avoid the extra hour a day. When that wasn't acceptable we even drew up alternative schedules conceding 90% of what we were being asked to do, and that wasn't acceptable either. I don't know about you, but where I come from, a 90% compromise is pretty generous. "What's actually happening here is a turf war, but it's not between the unions and management, but between a dozen or so people at Dublin Bus HQ and everybody else, including, I suspect, the management of the individual depots. Dublin Bus has always been run from the depots, not O'Connell street. Management staff there have, by tradition, always been the kind of bright young things who spend their careers ritualistically progressing from one promotion and pay rise to the next and never really contributing anything of any substance to the day to day running of either the company or the city. That's fine, and generally they're let get on with it. The problem is that every five or six years they take a brain storm and actually try running the company. When that happens, chaos ensues. In this instance, somebody in O'Connell street looked at the union's proposed schedules, realized that they would actually work and then started worrying that if they were accepted, Minister Dempsey might scratch his head and wonder what the hell he was paying head office staff for. It's the kind of thing that happens in every business, public or private, and when it does, somebody always gets caught in the middle. The only question is, how do you react if you're the one who gets caught. "All that is required is that those drivers who start in town, finish in town, and that those who start in the depot, finish in the depot. That's it. Problem solved, and the unions have already presented schedules that do that. These buses could have been on the street months ago, but HQ staff vetoed the union proposals because they were union proposals. Privately, the scheduling officers in Dublin Bus (ie, the functionaries who actually draw up the timetables) have admitted the schedules proposed by the company are, in any event, unworkable. They require, for example, a driver starting in town to leave Harristown and travel to the city centre in 45 minutes on the number 27B (the bus which serves the garage), the official running time of which is actually one hour. This, of course, leaves the driver with two choices: either he can come in early and get an earlier 27B (for which trouble, of course, he will receive no pay, since he wasn't asked to do that) or he can leave the garage at the official time and be late picking up in town. Since he will be picking up on a cross city route, this means that the driver he is relieving will have been sitting in the city centre with a bus full of irate passengers waiting to continue their journey for at least fifteen minutes, and probably longer. In addition, since it will take at least an hour to get back to the garage after shift, then every shift will finish late and every driver will be claiming overtime, which will make a massive payroll bill anyway. "It's idiotic, but it's being forced through because a group of David Brent types in O'Connell Street figure it's necessary to justify their existence." ( The bus drivers also understand, rightly, that their best chance to win this struggle and stop the "bullying bosses" would be to spread the dispute to other garages. The company fears an extension of the strike and through a spokesperson has said that they would "seriously consider all its options" if unofficial pickets are placed in other depots (Irish Times, 13 Nov 07). It is unclear what "all its options" means. Since the beginning of the "lockout" the media and the company keep reporting on the 60,000 commuters affected by the strike and putting the blame on the workers' shoulders. They are trying to stop any show of solidarity with the strikers from other bus workers and from commuters. On the other hand, the chairman of the Labour Court, Kevin Duffy, had talks on Wednesday with Dublin Bus and trade union representatives. He warned the unions "strongly that any escalation of the dispute to involve other Dublin Bus garages would make an intervention by the Labour Court more difficult (Irish Times, 15 Nov 07)." All this pressure is affecting union leaders. Michael Faherty (general secretary of the union NBRU) has also warned several time in the media that the workers' strike could escalate to other garages through unofficial pickets in the event that workers could get frustrated unless the dispute is not resolved within a couple of days (Irish Times, 13 Nov 07). This warning was directed at Dublin Bus in order to reach a quick agreement. But it also expressed the real fear of Faherty that the workers might be ready to put up a real fight. Over 300 bus drivers, actually, organised a protest in Dublin city centre on Wednesday. They marched from Parnell Square to Dublin Bus headquarters in O'Connell St. The bus worker Owen McCormack, one of the organisers of the protest, said that the workers on strike are getting great support from colleagues from other depots. He added, "We are not going to be split and not going to be isolated." (Irish Times, 15 Nov 07) But the problem is that both unions have branded any escalation of the strike as unofficial. In the meantime, the right wing TD Paschal Donohoe, from Fine Gael, said on Wednesday on RTÉ that the bus routes, which are the centre of the industrial dispute, should be offered to private operators. He also demanded that the government intervene more actively in the dispute (14 Nov 07): "If these particular routes are not going to be used by CIÉ, we should be tendering those routes out to other operators who are going to use them, so that we can ensure that all of the passengers on the northside of Dublin are not being held hostage to the inability of Dublin Bus to make two routes work." This is where the real threat lies. The state is one of the partners in Dublin Bus, but its management is private. In the last years, according to one of the bus drivers on strike (, no fewer than 110 private bus routes have been authorised. However, he goes on: "There are not 110 private bus routes operating around Dublin, or anything like it. Indeed, many of those licences are gathering dust in desks somewhere because having secured them, the hackers are just sitting on them, much like the taxi drivers used to sit on their plates and sell them on later." Private bus routes only start to operate when the routes are profitable. Dublin Bus, with state funding, must cover the routes that are profitable and the ones that are not. But the long-term aim is to fully privatise the whole public transport system. To do it, however, Dublin Bus must break the resistance of the workers, and then worsen their working conditions and lower their wages.

Our bus driver also understands what is the general tendency of privatisations that the Irish government has been implementing: "Forget the PD [Progressive Democrats] claptrap about the forces of the market... If you think we're bad, just wait for what follows." Another poster in added: "First they came for the bus drivers. You didn't give a shit, you don't drive a bus. Then they came for the airline workers. You didn't give a shit, you don't fly a plane... Wait 'til they come for you." The struggle of Dublin workers must become the struggle of all Irish workers against the wave of privatisations happening to this country. We cannot let them down. From Monday, 19 November 2007

Independent Workers’ Union:

Supporting the Dublin Bus Drivers

The Independent Workers’ Union extends its support and solidarity to the workers of Dublin Bus at Harristown depot, who find them selves standing on a picket line due to uncompromising bullying tactics of the management of Dublin Bus (Bus Ath Cliath). By this ‘1913 lock-out’ style approach; the bosses seek to break previous agreements reached between the Unions’ and the management. This is the latest in a substantial number of infringements on the rights of the workers right through Ireland. The concerns and the actions of the workers are just. Despite the selective and censored projections from the right-wing media.

The new rosters being forced by the bosses, force the workers to start, break and finish work in the centre of the city. This situation breaks previous agreements and furthermore it will add between 2-3 hours extra a day onto the work load of those drivers effected. These new roster have not been previous viewed or agreed by the workers effected. This situation must be seen for what it is, a hostile act against the workers in an attempt to break the power of worker solidarity and union.

The biggest concern for Unions though, is the fact that Dublin Bus bosses have openly stated that any previous agreements do not extend to new workers. This is a direct tactic of creating divisions between the workers and weakening the Union and the level of worker solidarity. Yet this is an all too familiar occurrence happening up and down the country.

We in the I.W.U. commend the actions of the drivers on the picket line. We must also warn the workers as a class, that days of disputes and strikes lay ahead as the Celtic Tiger implodes in on itself. Those that will be effected will be those who created the Celtic Tiger through their labour, those who did not see the benefits of the Celtic Tiger, those effected will be the workers. In the coming years, workers will be squeezed and enchained to get as much labour as possible for as little as possible by the boss-man. Let us unite; and end worker exploitation.

Independent Workers Union


32 County Sovereignty Movement.
Contact: Andy Martin, Director of Publicity
Phone 07512 748 176 or Email
Support the Raytheon 9
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement call for all republicans, socialists, anti imperialists and all other progressives to attend the trial of the Raytheon 9 in Derry. The trial is due to begin on Monday 19th November at 10am and we would urge as many as possible to come out not only in a show of solidarity with the 9 but to protest at Raytheon’s continued presence in Ireland also.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement fully support the actions of the Raytheon 9 in opposing this purveyor of weapons of mass destruction that have caused so much devastation to communities in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
In opposing this multinational killing machine we do so not alone from a moral and humanitarian position but also from a political one. These nations right to national sovereignty, free from external interference and aggression is being denied and Raytheon are complicit in this denial.
It would be hypocritical for any republican organisation to fail to condemn Raytheon’s presence in Derry considering the fact that Irish sovereignty is being denied by a foreign government who will use force of arms to protect their illegal occupation if necessary.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement send special solidarity greetings to the four members of our Liam Lynch/Patsy Duffy Cumann in Derry who are members of the Raytheon 9.


Wed 12th Dec 2007: Human Rights Day (10 Dec)

The Crying Sun (2007)

Addresses the impact of armed conflict in Chechnya through the stories of people disappeared/ displaced from the mountain village of Zumsoy, highlighting villager’s struggle to maintain cultural identity and traditions. (26 min.)

*Discussion to follow chaired by Dr. Stephen Ryan*

Full details on the INCORE Conflict Documentary Film Festival are available at



*Watch crafters working!

* Enjoy demonstrations of old techniques!

* Take a valuable piece of crafts home!

On Saturday, Nov.24th 2007
At The Flax Mill, Derrylane, Dungiven
From 10 am – running all day.

Local genuine crafts only, no dealers, no products from child-labour.
Tea and refreshments.
For details phone Flax mill textiles 02877742655

Note: A day around the loom is a private event. There is no entry-fee and the owner reserves the right to refuse admission


No Volverán is a 90-minute documentary made by members of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign when they visited Venezuela in December 2006. While there they witnessed Hugo Chavez's landslide election victory and they also spent time at Sanitarios Maracay, a factory under co-operative workers' control.

The JCDS have been able to snag the directors of No Volverán and convince them to talk about the documentary, so we will be organising a showing of the film followed by a Q&A session.

This event will be taking place at 7pm on Tuesday 27 November in the Felons' Club.

And for anyone who's wondering, the Debating Society will be organising a debate (shock horror!) in the next few weeks on how leftists can effect radical change in the 21st century. Obviously the ongoing revolution in Venezuela is relevant to that debate.

Saturday 3 November 2007

The Plough Vol 04 No 24

The Plough
(Web site
Vol. 4- No 24
Saturday 3rd November 2007
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party

1) Editorial

2) Health Service Limps From Crisis To Crisis

3) Report on Basque Meetings

4) Irish Labour Youth supports Venezuelan revolution and Hands Off Venezuela campaign

5) A Polemic

6) Media

7) What’s On?


Below we reprint a leaflet from NIPSA issued during their continuing industrial dispute with their employers the Educational and Library Boards and the Department of Education under Sinn Fein Minister Catrina Ruane. This dispute following the recent class action by the Post office workers shows a slow rise in class struggle. The appalling state of the health service in the 26 Counties highlighted by the article below “Health Service Limps From Crisis To Crisis” is an other example of how the economic policies driven by the IMF, the World Bank and the E.U. are stripping public assets and selling them off to private enterprise who then deliver poor quality service and appalling conditions all in the name of profit. In the North the new administration is not only delivering British political rule but also implementing economic policies that has the business classes of the north almost orgasmic with delight, So much for Provisional Sinn Fein’s much vaunted “socialism”. With the scent of power their radicalism disappeared like snow of the ditch in the sunshine!
Following a very successful tour of the North by a comrade from the Basque Country (see Report on Basque Meetings) we hope more and more Basque militants see the reality of the Irish Peace process for what it is –a capitulation to international capitalism..
Finally we reprint from a British left wing paper a series of letters on the IRSP. If the individual “Mark Kevson”
 from Dublin has genuine concerns about the IRSP and is not simply engaging in political sectarian baiting then we would be only too happy to met with and answer any questions he/she may have.


Classroom Assistants went on strike to preserve and have recognised three key points:

􀀗 Defend their right to pay rates based on the 32.5 hour school working week;

􀀗 Stop their special needs allowance of 65 pence per hour being taken away;

􀀗 Maintain recognition of their NVQ Level 3 qualifications.
What about the £15m payout?
Classroom Assistants are being asked to sell out all their rights and accept pay rate cuts for a one off

net payment of just £1,100 or £1,700 only. No Way! The 3 points above are key to a properly funded education system, where the community as a whole receives quality front line service in the classroom. Anything other than that is a cut in service, a cut in real quality terms, and an unacceptable attack on our childrens future.

Classroom workers have not given up nor gone into hiding, but are providing a window of opportunity to management who have consistently failed in 12 years to come to the table with what is rightly ours.

Classroom workers want the public and parents to understand that we have suspended this strike to demonstrate that patience and care is what we are about, but to know that we will return to the picket lines on 30th October if the boards do not resolve this properly.

Support Classroom Assistants’ fight
􀀗 to defend their rights

􀀗 fair and just pay

􀀗 a better education for all children in the future.

Call on your MP, MLA, Local Councillor to demand fair pay and justice for Classroom Assistants.

If you would like additional information please talk to the strikers or
contact NIPSA by e-mail:


The situation in the twenty six county health service is staggering, like drunken man, from one problem to another. It would appear that the problems are deteriorating on a nearly daily basis. Perhaps if the Minister charged with responsibility for the health service, Mary Harney, did her job, that is of course if she knows how to do it, a step in the right direction may be achieved. Unfortunately this would appear not to be the case, certainly as far as the public sector is concerned. According to reports in The Socialist, September 2007, under the front page headline ‘€245 MILLION HEALTH CUTBACKS’ the paper could inform us “The crisis in the health service has deepened with the announcement by the HSE of cutbacks to deal with a €245 million “overspend”.

Hospitals around the country have been ordered to implement a recruitment ban, to lay off temporary and agency staff, and despite what Minister for Health, Mary Harney, has said patients will suffer‘. It should be common sense that patients will suffer because, like in any other job, if fifty workers carry out a hundred tasks in eight hours and this number of workers is reduced to thirty with the same output expected in the same, or less, hours the quality of what is produced will be inferior to that produced by the former.

The same principle applies to the health service, though we are not speaking of output per se, fifty nurses, for the sake of argument, can not be expected to provide the same level of care and cover to that once provided by say seventy five, basic mathematics should tell you that. The paper continues ’Senior management at Cork University Hospital (CUH) have outlined a series of proposals in an internal document seen by The Socialist entitled “Cost Containment Initiative”. A fancy phrase for health cutbacks’.

Bosses at CHU are to take whatever action they deem necessary to ’eliminate the budget deficit’ which means, whatever way it is dressed up, inferior conditions for patients in the hospital and others around the country which follow the same course of action. At South Tipperary General Hospital an operating theatre is to be reportedly closed. At Ennis Hospital a Cardiac Clinic, according to reports, is to close to say nothing of the withdrawal of cancer care at Mayo General Hospital. To add to all this because of government incompetence there is no doubt that the country’s A&E departments will once again hit the headlines, for the wrong reasons, this winter.

The government have done nothing to relieve the shortage of beds problem and are in fact travelling in the opposite direction to that which they should be going because they are reportedly cutting doctors hours, getting rid of essential nursing staff and reducing other areas of medical procedures. Hardly conducive with relieving the pressures on the A&Es, once again the previous simple mathematical equation applies.

Increasing expenditure in the health service will help alleviate the problems, providing the personnel presiding over knows what they are doing which would appear to rule out the present person and her team in the job. But a long term permanent answer needs far more drastic surgery and is part of a far larger problem, capitalism.

The problems faced by working class people requiring health care is only one, all be a it sizable one, aspect of the barriers faced on a daily basis under the capitalist system. This system no longer requires, if in Ireland it ever did, a large fit and healthy workforce therefore those who are entrusted to govern the affairs on behalf of this system do not see the necessity of prioritising these problems in the health service and putting them right.

Of course we are talking exclusively about problems in the public sector which are not generally faced by the privileged gang who use the private facility. The problems faced by the health service are just a few among many in a catalogue of difficulties faced by working class people on a daily basis. Such issues of job losses, often accompanied by home repossession, are a regular feature of modern working class existence, real wage reductions, while An Taoiseach and other so called Ministers receive huge pay increases disproportionate to their responsibilities compared with the German Chancellor, US President and British Prime Minister, and the constant threat of unemployment on a more general and long term basis than job losses alone.

All of these along with the crisis in the health service are symptomatic of a system which does not, can not, and frankly was never intended to provide goods and services for all on a regular basis. A system which quite frankly has to go. The question is how much longer are people going to walk round like ostriches with their heads in the sand pretending they can not see what is before their very eyes every day? The short term solution, certainly for health is to nationalise completely the whole service financed through higher taxation earmarked for specific areas of need with competent people at the helm.

The long term permanent answer is the destruction of the capitalist system and the evil of greed by the few at the expense of the many, which is inept within it, and the establishment of socialism based upon need before profit, equality, freedom and democracy minus the word liberal. This will only come about, in Ireland, by the establishment of a 32 county democratic socialist republic.

Kevin Morley IRSP, Dublin
Report on Basque Meetings

Recently three successful meeting were held on the Irish and Basque Peace Processes in Belfast Strabane and Derry The meetings were organised by the International Left Solidarity Committee, a group composed of republicans socialists and Marxists, dedicated to looking at issues of international significance for the working classes.

Ibon Artola, (Editor of Euskal Herria Sozialista) gave a detailed examination of the current state of the struggle for Basque independence from a Marxist perspective and his analysis of the so-called Basque Peace process. For his Irish audiences Ibon gave a brief history of the Basque struggle.

The Basque Country is made up of seven provinces, Labourd, Basse Navarre, and Soule all located in an area governed by the France, and Viscaya, Guipuzcoa, Alava and Navarre all under the control of Spain.
Following the overthrow of the Spanish Republic by a military coup led by Franco and supported by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany the ancient and unique Basque language was banned. The Spanish state refused funding for the Basque language and culture, workers were denied their right to use the language and even the graves of Basque martyrs were interfered with to replace the Basque language on tombstones with Spanish inscriptions. Also under the Franco dictatorship Communists, Socialists but also Basques, were executed for their resistance to the regime.

Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or ETA (Basque for "Basque Homeland and Freedom” ) was formed in 1959 originally as a cultural response to the dictatorship’s attempts to impose Spanish language and cultural values on the Basque people. From painting slogans on walls and buildings, ETA eventually became an armed Basque nationalist organisation.

Ibon pointed out that at the beginning of the 20th century there were those socialists who claimed that the rise of capitalism would solve the national question. The reality has been different. The Irish national question still has not been resolved. In Belgium national differences are once more coming to the fore. In essence capitalism is incapable of solving the national question. On the contrary Capitalism uses the national question and the existence of minorities to divide and thus weaken all sections of the working class regardless of their nationality. Imperialism wishes to impose itself on small countries and that the fight to overcome this was essential.

The fall of the Franco dictatorship did not solve the national question in Spain. After the death of Franco a new constitution gave limited autonomy to three of the Spanish controlled Basque provinces called the Basque Autonomous Community (BAC) while Navarre was not allowed to opt into the BAC but made into a separate autonomous region. By 1983 the BAC had limited autonomous powers including its own elected parliament its own police force its own school system and control over taxation. (It is worth noting that all of these except most notably the control over taxation have all been granted to the current Stormont administration.)

Theses changes while accepted and worked by the more conservative nationalists in the PNC Partido Nacionalista Vasco , a Christian-Democrat political party and which has been the dominant power in the BAC, was rejected by the Abertzale Left because it did not satisfy the national aspirations of many Basques, nor did they bring peace to the Basque Country.

Spain still exerts extensive influence over Basque life, some spheres of which, such as harbour authorities, customs, employment, the armed forces and foreign relations, remain entirely under jurisdiction of the central government. The central state apparatus, including politicians, police including the local Basque police, army and prisons, have continued to persecute members and sympathizers of the Abertzale movement and to obstruct Basques' attempts to construct their own political structures and to articulate and defend a national sovereignty project.

The Spanish and the Basque ruling class, in the form of the PNV, showed their reactionary nature by supporting the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. They also endorsed the electoral fraud perpetrated by the Mexican ruling class aided and abetted by USA Imperialism.

The rise of ETA and a broadening of its support base in the beginning was because of the failure of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) to do anything. It was not in their interests because the Basque bourgeoisie was and still is firmly bound with the Spanish bourgeoisie. This is similar to the way the Irish bourgeoisie despite its so-called formal freedom is intrinsically tied in with the British ruling class and also subservient to USA Imperialism.

Ibon pointed out that 65% of the population of Spain is in favour of a solution to the situation in the Basque country. In March 2006 ETA declared a ceasefire. Hopes were raised for a settlement and not only was there comparisons with the so-called Irish Peace Process but clergy involved in facilitating the IRA ceasefires became involved in delicate negotiations in the Basque Country. Sinn Fein leaders including Gerry Adams also visited the Basque Country encouraging militants to follow the Sinn Fein(P) example.

However the People's Party (PP) in Spain began arguing that the Spanish ruling class was granting too many concessions to ETA. Its leaders Rajoy called on the government to continue, "fighting terrorism" and reject negotiations. Zapatero, the Spanish prime Minister in fact stepped up repression. Despite the calls from left Nationalists for round table talks there was little movement from the Spanish Government. ETA militants were still been harassed and detained and there was no movement on the issue of the prisoners. It is the policy of the Spanish government to imprison political prisoners at least 600 kilometres from their homes and some as far as the Salto del Negro prison in the Canary Islands . So prisoners’ families often travel hundreds of kilometres to prisons to visit them, either in Spain or France. This has resulted in a great financial burden being placed on many families. Many have been killed in road accidents travelling the long distances.

Much to the astonishment of his Irish audiences Ibon pointed out that the oppression included political prisoners not been released as planned, with some having their sentences increased. Following the Barajas bombing when ETA attacked an airport the Spanish Government banned the Basque left nationalist youth organisation Segi, declaring it to be a terrorist organisation because both Segi and ETA have the same stated goals of independence and socialism. ETA had bombed the airport in an attempt to put pressure on the Spanish government. This had the adverse effect and resulted in a series of repressive measures by the Spanish ruling class including a widespread propaganda campaign aimed at undermining ETA. Batasuna leader Ortegi summed up the new departure of Batasuna when he said “How can we have a peace process with bombs going off?”

There are some on the left, as Ibon pointed out who argue that the problem in the Basque Country is “terrorism”. They do so from the safety of their well-paid parliamentary jobs without any understanding of national oppression. The Basque problem is the interference of the Spanish government in the affairs of the Basque Country.

Ibon pointed to the example of Russia prior to the 1917 October. There had existed a group called the Narodniks.The Narodniks believed the peasantry was the revolutionary class that would overthrow the monarchy and they regarded the village commune as the embryo of socialism. However, they believed that the peasantry would not achieve revolution on their own, but instead that history could only be made by heroes, outstanding personalities, who would lead an otherwise passive peasantry to revolution. They hoped that their acts of violence would lead to spontaneous uprisings and social upheaval. Despite their assassination of the Tsar for which Lenin’s brother was executed no such uprisings took place. Instead it was the building of a revolutionary party with mass support that eventually saw off feudal Russia

There are also some militant youth who have launched attacks against the offices of Spanish trade unions. Ibon pointed out the importance of winning over the Spanish and French working classes to support and solidarity with the Basque people and therefore it is wrong to antagonise them by attacks on the organisations that the workers regard as theirs. It is of the greatest importance that these young people are won over to genuine Marxist politics. Revolutionaries cannot turn our backs on the militant youth.

Ibon then went on to point out something that should be salutary lesson for Irish republicans Every September there is a demonstration in favour of the prisoners. This year it was banned with little explanation. Basque policemen were sent to deal with the demonstration and over 100 people were injured. Having Basques in the police force or catholics in the PSNI is no victory when these same forces are used to protect the status quo.

The PNV defend their own interests which are the interests of the ruling
Class. They may talk about independence but the bottom line is that PNV in the Basque Country, have no interest in independence for the Basque country. They share the same interests as the Spanish ruling classes have
Only the working class can solve the national questions, whether it’s in the Basque country, Ireland, the Balkans or anywhere else.

During the Russian revolution the Bolsheviks managed to overthrow the old order, despite Russia being a country with dozens of different nationalities.

When Ibon Artola had finished his presentation in all three venues there were discussions and questions and answer sessions. Naturally some of these questions focussed on the issue of prisoners, their actual conditions in jail and if they had any input into the Basque Peace Process. Other questions included if the prisoners or their organisations had tried to use the denial of human rights and torture used by the Spanish government to take Spain to European courts. It was pointed out that those who tried to see comparisons between the peace processes in Ireland and the Basque Country failed to see that the Republican struggle in Ireland had been defeated and that in accepting both the Good Friday Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement republicans settled for less than the Basque Country had achieved years ago.

A prominent feature of the meeting was that unlike many other meetings on international issues organised by other groups the audience at these meetings were overwhelming working class and had an instinctive grasp of the class issues thrown up by the struggle in the Basque Country.

Irish Labour Youth supports Venezuelan revolution and Hands Off Venezuela campaign
By Hands Off Venezuela - Ireland
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
The conference of Irish Labour Youth passed a motion (no. 37) in support of the Venezuelan Revolution last Saturday, 27th October. The motion also called on Labour Youth "to build links with the Irish branch of the ‘Hands Off Venezuela Campaign’." Resolution 37: Socialism in Venezuela "Conference recognizes: The work done by the people of Venezuela in bringing about a democratic socialist revolution in their country. "Conference resolutely believes: That this is an example of twenty first century socialism, and that it is a socio-economic model that is worth aspiring to. While not being faultless, its approach to redistributing wealth, democratising the workplace and the providing social services is evidence that socialism can be implemented democratically. "Conference condemns the former TV station RCTV and the Venezuelan oligarchy in Their attempts to organise a military coup against the democratically elected government in 2001. "Conference further condemns: The forces of U.S. imperialism which have continually sponsored and encouraged right wing terrorists in Latin America in their attempts to topple popular democratically elected government and replace them often with a military junta. "Conference welcomes: The attempts by President Hugo Chavez to initiate the economic transition from a Capitalist state to a Socialist state, which is to be brought about democratically through a ballot of the entire populace in the coming months. "Conference further welcomes: The nationalisation of the largest telecommunications company, the electrical power companies and the four largest oil companies in the Orinoco River basin, which had previously been controlled by foreign multinationals. This is in turn has significantly reduced the cost of electricity and fuel for the ordinary citizens of Venezuela. "Conference calls on: Labour Youth to build links with the Irish branch of the "Hands Off Venezuela Campaign" in the hope of creating awareness and solidarity for the Venezuelan nation and its people in Ireland. "Conference mandates: The international Officer to investigate the possibility of organising a delegation of Labour Youth activists to visit the country over the coming year."

The letters reprinted below first appeared in the Weekly Worker We leave it to the readers to make their own judgements
I am a long-time reader of the various websites of the left, including the Weekly Worker. One of the websites I read on a regular basis is the International Marxist Tendency’s In defence of Marxism (
As an Irishman, I am shocked and dismayed by the IMT’s affiliation with the Irish Republican Socialist Party. The Grant-Woods tendency has long been associated with the view that Marxists should operate within the “traditional organisations of the working class”, such as the Labour Party. Why is it then that they associate with this splinter of a splinter from the republican movement?
The IRSP has no standing within the Irish working class and is in fact a miniscule organisation, far smaller and more remote to the Irish worker than some that the IMT would classify as ‘sects’. Not only that, but the IRSP through its paramilitary arm, the Irish National Liberation Army, has a history of violence, terrorism, internal feuding and organised crime.
How do the IMT and particularly Alan Woods, who always comes across as an intelligent, articulate man, justify this association?
Mark Kevson

IRSP politics
Mark Kevson asks, why support the Irish Republican Socialist Party, given it is “minuscule” and has little support among the Irish working class (Letters, October 11)?
Well, it is not for communists in Britain to advise, let along tell, the Irish people to whom they should lend their political support. But surely it is politics which counts, rather than numbers? Otherwise, we should all of us just give up now! But, of course, we all know from history that those advocating liberation and emancipation always start off as small, sect-like minorities, before building and developing strength, before ultimately becoming irresistible and irreversible majorities.
My understanding is that the IRSP stands for national liberation and socialist revolution in Ireland, expressed as three fundamental objectives:
l The end of partition and the reunification of the island of Ireland, with the complete removal of the British political and military occupation in the north;
l The ending of British/European imperialist domination over the whole of existing divided Ireland;
l And the common ownership and control of the whole of the resources of Ireland by the working people of Ireland, for the benefit of the working people of Ireland.
That is, for the working people of Ireland to be united, sovereign, independent, self-determining, and to exist as equals and in peace with the peoples of Britain, Europe and the world.
Further, the IRSP argues that all three fundamental objectives are dialectically interconnected, interdependent and reinforcing: ie, all must be progressed together, as part of an integrated and coherent revolutionary political and military strategy.
As to the INLA, my understanding is that the organisation is currently on cessation, accepting that the votes in the referenda - on both sides of the partition border - on the Good Friday agreement meant there was currently no political basis for a military campaign. This does not, of course, equate to IRSP/INLA support for the GFA, which, on the contrary, represents a defeat for republicanism and socialism.
I struggle to think how any decent and principled socialist or communist could disagree with any of the above ...
Andrew Northall

Andrew Northall misses my point somewhat (Letters, October 18 ). It is not the general aims of the Irish Republican Socialist Party I have a problem with. It is their method and their record.
The Irish National Liberation Army, while currently inactive, has not disbanded and the IRSP do not renounce their past. This is a past rife with indiscriminate sectarian murders and internal feuding. Even if they had been straight-up anti-imperialists using the methods of what Trotsky and others called ‘individual terrorism’, Marxists must oppose them.
To quote Trotsky:
“The disarray introduced into the ranks of the working masses themselves by a terrorist attempt is much deeper. If it is enough to arm oneself with a pistol in order to achieve one’s goal, why the efforts of the class struggle? If a thimbleful of gunpowder and a little chunk of lead is enough to shoot the enemy through the neck, what need is there for a class organisation? If it makes sense to terrify highly placed personages with the roar of explosions, where is the need for the party? Why meetings, mass agitation and elections if one can so easily take aim at the ministerial bench from the gallery of parliament?”
Substituting self-appointed liberators with an Armalite for the hard slog of the class struggle is a false method and completely contrary to Marxism. At its best, it is Blanquism; at its worst, anarchic adventurism. The terrorist cell is not controlled democratically by the class it claims to represent; instead it places itself at the head of the movement and resists removal by force.
My other point is that in much of their literature the International Marxist Tendency reject what they call ‘sects’ as irrelevant. They clearly state that Marxists must work within the mass organisations of the working class. The IRSP is as far removed from the Irish working class, from the day-to-day struggles of the class, as can be imagined. Now I do not agree that it is correct today to try and work within the Labour Party. There are times when entryism is a valid method and there are times when it is counterproductive. However the IMT raise entryism to a principle. How do they explain the contradiction between their theory and their application of that theory to the class struggle in Ireland?
Mark Kevson

INLA’s past
Mark Kevson, in his original letter (October 11 ), makes the claim that “the Irish National Liberation Army has a history of violence, terrorism, internal feuding and organised crime.” Whilst I will refrain from an attempt to sanitise past actions of the INLA, I feel it necessary a few truths are laid bare.

The INLA does indeed have a history of violence, terrorism and internal feuding - this is not something that can be denied. It is a revolutionary organisation and a product of the conditions prevalent within society at that time. I find it strange that an avid reader of Marxist websites would neglect to mention that the Bolsheviks too were guilty of these three points.

The Irish Republican Socialist Movement collectively have challenged those who claim the INLA are involved in crime, whether drug dealing or otherwise, to provide the evidence. It is 10 years since Irish Republican Socialist Party spokesperson Kevin McQuillan challenged journalists at the burial of a volunteer in Dublin and not one piece of evidence has been forthcoming since from any quarter.

Mark continues: “The IRSP has no standing within the Irish working class and is in fact a minuscule organisation.” Of all leftwing organisations within Ireland of any hue, the IRSP is the only one that has a strong base within nationalist working class areas. It is safe to say the majority of the left in Belfast would be more accustomed to Stranmillis than the Short Strand.

In Mark’s second letter (October 25) he claims “the IRSP do not renounce their past”. This is correct. We do not deny or renounce our past. To do so is entirely dishonest and not based upon Marxist methods. Collectively we have painstakingly analysed our past and drawn strong lessons for the road ahead. I would recommend Mark gives the Ta Power document careful consideration.

If Mark is genuinely seeking answers as to the basis for the International Marxist Tendency’s relationship with the IRSP, then I am certain he could arrange to meet the relevant organisations and discuss the matter.

Sean McGowan

From The Media

No evidence' of collusion in NI murders

There is no evidence the security forces in Northern Ireland colluded with loyalist killers in the murder of two Catholic brothers 14 years ago, the Police Ombudsman said today.
However an investigation by Nuala O'Loan found the police investigation of the murders by the Ulster Volunteer Force, despite early effort, was unacceptably flawed and cut short after three months.She upheld a complaint by the father of the murdered men that the police failed to conduct a thorough investigation.
She also revealed that Special Branch had not passed on all relevant intelligence to the police investigating the murders.
Gerard Cairns (22) and brother Rory (18) were gunned down by two masked men at the family home at Bleary, near Lurgan, Co Armagh, on the evening of October 28th, 1993.
No one has ever been convicted over the murders which happened in one of the bloodiest weeks of the Troubles.
The Cairns family lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman claiming the police and army had prior knowledge of the attack on the brothers, and that they had allowed a clear path for the murderers through what they believed was an unusually high level of security activity in the area.
The family also alleged police did not carry out a proper investigation and failed to keep the family updated on its progress.
Investigators from the Ombudsman's office examined police documents spanning nine years, assessed intelligence about the murder and interviewed serving and retired police officers, retired soldiers from the Royal Irish regiment and 54 civilians.
Mrs O'Loan concluded: "There is nothing to suggest that the security forces colluded in the brutal murders of Gerard and Rory.
"There is no evidence that the police had any advance warning, that they knew Gerard and Rory would be targeted and no evidence that they could have prevented the attack. This was a purely sectarian attack."
However Mrs O'Loan said the Special Branch had failed to pass on all relevant intelligence to the police inquiry team, and she upheld the complaint the family had not been kept informed about the police investigation.
She said: "Although much good work was done in the initial stages of the investigation, within three months it had been stripped of resources and had effectively ground to a halt."
She expressed "grave concern" the RUC had begun to wind down the investigation within just two weeks of the killings.
Mrs O'Loan added: "I acknowledge the enormous pressure on police officers during this difficult time. Nevertheless, it is unacceptable that the investigation effectively ended after just a few months and has not since been properly reviewed for new lines of inquiry.
Mr Cairns had alleged two local loyalists had carried out the murders but had not been charged because they were security force agents.
Irish Times

What’s On?


The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign is pleased to announce that the European Première of the multi-award winning documentary film Occupation 101 will take place in Liberty Hall Theatre, Dublin at 7:30 PM on Tuesday 6th November 2007.

Tickets are €10 or €5 for unwaged/students. To book in advance - please call the IPSC office on 01-6770253 or email us on Tickets can also be bought on the door on the night.

Regional Screenings:

Weds 7th Nov 2007
Time: 7:30 PM
Venue: Castletroy Park Hotel, Wednesday 7th November

(First event of new IPSC Donegal branch!)
Thurs 8th Nov 2007
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Abbey Theatre, Ballyshannon Thursday 8th November

Friday 9th November
Time: 7:00pm sharp
Venue: An Culturlann Theatre, 216 Falls Road, Belfast.
The showing will cost £5 waged and £3 unwaged.

A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. government involvement, Occupation 101 provides a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the conflict and dispels many myths and misconceptions. The film also details life under Israeli military rule, the United States' role in the conflict, and the major obstacles which stand in the way of a lasting and viable peace. Rare footage and testimony never shown by most media outlets are presented. The roots of the conflict are explained with incisive commentaries from leading Middle East scholars, peace activists, journalists, religious leaders and humanitarian workers whose voices have too often been suppressed in Western media.

Anti-Racism Workplace Week, Dungannon and South Tyrone, event, Wednesday 7th November 2007

Dungannon and South Tyrone Council

"Anti-Racism Workplace Week" 5-12 November 2007

Wednesday 7 November 2007

East Tyrone College – Main Hall

6pm – 8pm

Free entrance – open to public

ICTU and Trade Unions will be giving employment rights information for migrant workers and ethnic minorities

Glór na Móna as part of their annual Féile Gaeilge le Bród festival present

The inaugural Harry Holland memorial Lecture
by a prominent Irish Language activist TBC on 'The revival of the Irish language: past, present and future'
Thursday 8th November @ 8pm
Gort na Móna CLG

Followed by live traditional music session
Glór na Móna will also be officially launching their festival also.

Shell To Sea Rossport f day-of-action on November 9th.

Shell are running a high pressure gas pipe close to the houses of local Mayo people. They have refused to move their operation offshore, claiming it would be too expensive. Shell makes a profit of €375million every week. The cost of moving the Rossport operation offshore would be €360million.

Under the deal that the oil & gas multinationals were given by Fianna Fail, the taxpayers of Ireland will receive:

1) No royalties from the oil and gas,

2) No share of the oil and gas,

3) No reduced price for the oil and gas.

4) Nothing, nada, zilch. AND

5) The companies can write off all their capital costs against tax for up to 25 years.

The locals have kept the struggle going. often against great odds. Far from being frightened off, whether by the power of their enemy or the role of the Gardai as Shell's cops, they have grown increasingly militant. There have been sit-downs and site occupations. To win requires large numbers of people being prepared to stand together and use their numbers to stop Shell's plan. A large turnout on November 9th will help to build a stronger campaign.

WSM Delegate Council, October 2007

For information about busses to Rossport call 0879935876


1a.4 Rights at Work Information Day, Belfast, Saturday 10 November

This event is an introduction to employment rights and trade unions. Participants will also have a chance to talk to trade union representatives and discuss specific employment issues. A social evening will follow in the John Hewitt bar with musicians playing Irish session, a Polish band and Motion Project.

Rights at Work Information Day,

Saturday 10 November,

Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre

45 – 47 Donegall Street

2 -5 p.m

· • Introduction to employment rights for migrant workers in Northern Ireland.

· • Information on trade unions, membership and assistance they offer.

· • Launch of ‘Your Rights at Work’ card published by Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Equality Commission.

· • Meeting with the representatives of:

- Irish Congress of Trade Unions

- Equality Commission

- Belfast Trades Union Council

- Trade unions

Information and materials available in variety of languages.

Light refreshments will be served.

Multicultural Music Experience

Saturday 10 November,

The John Hewitt bar, Donegall Street

5.30 until late at night

Celebration of ethnic diversity played by artists from all over the world, including:

· Irish traditional session

· Quatro Potrzebne – Polish band

· The Motion project – Northern Ireland’s multi-cultural music collective.

· Everybody welcome!

INCORE Conflict Documentary Film Festival, next film Wednesday 14th November

Wednesday 14th November 2007: International Day of Tolerance (16 Nov)

Iraq in Fragments (2006)

Iraq is pulled in different directions by religion and ethnicity but its disparate groups - Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds - share a common fate: living in a world ravaged by years of repression, occupation and violence. This film explores that through the lives of ordinary Iraqis. (94 min.)

*Discussion to follow chaired by Professor Tom Fraser*

Wed 12th Dec 2007: Human Rights Day (10 Dec)

The Crying Sun (2007)

Addresses the impact of armed conflict in Chechnya through the stories of people disappeared/ displaced from the mountain village of Zumsoy, highlighting villager’s struggle to maintain cultural identity and traditions. (26 min.)

*Discussion to follow chaired by Dr. Stephen Ryan*

Full details on the INCORE Conflict Documentary Film Festival are available at < INCORE Conflict Documentary Film Festival, next film Wednesday 14th November
Venue: Magee campus, MB127 Derry

Wednesday 14th November 2007: International Day of Tolerance (16 Nov)

Iraq in Fragments (2006)

Iraq is pulled in different directions by religion and ethnicity but its disparate groups - Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds - share a common fate: living in a world ravaged by years of repression, occupation and violence. This film explores that through the lives of ordinary Iraqis. (94 min.)

*Discussion to follow chaired by Professor Tom Fraser*

Wed 12th Dec 2007: Human Rights Day (10 Dec)

The Crying Sun (2007)

Addresses the impact of armed conflict in Chechnya through the stories of people disappeared/ displaced from the mountain village of Zumsoy, highlighting villager’s struggle to maintain cultural identity and traditions. (26 min.)

*Discussion to follow chaired by Dr. Stephen Ryan*

Full details on the INCORE Conflict Documentary Film Festival are available at


*Watch crafters working!

* Enjoy demonstrations of old techniques!

* Take a valuable piece of crafts home!

On Saturday, Nov.24th 2007
At The Flax Mill, Derrylane, Dungiven
From 10 am – running all day.

Local genuine crafts only, no dealers, no products from child-labour.
Tea and refreshments.
For details phone Flax mill textiles 02877742655

Note: A day around the loom is a private event. There is no entry-fee and the owner reserves the right to refuse admission