Vol 5-No 10
Wednesday 17TH September 2008
E-mail newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2) A Nationalist Distraction
3) The Structure of the Revolutionary Party
4) Trade Unionism in the North of Ireland.
This edition of the Plough carries two interesting discussion articles.
One by a young comrade deals with the nature of the revolutionary party. Too often in the past republican organisations have become so dominated by strong individuals that debate discussion and arguments became impossible leading to frustration. Or else weak leaderships would drift along leading to lack of direction strategy or ideas again leading to demoralisation and frustration. There is a real need for a centralised ideologically based leadership imbued with the revolutionary Marxist ideas that encourages the widest democracy and discussion but also the firmest discipline in action. There can be no place for windbags, bar room socialists/ republicans, egotists or Sunday activists in a revolutionary organisation. Commitment in time, finance, ideas, in activity, and at all times putting the long-term interests of the working class first are the marks of those comrades genuinely committed to change. Such attributes will ensure that the collective leadership that emerges does not resemble the kind of dictatorial centralised bureaucratic control exercise currently by the Adams faction of provisional Sinn Fein.
The other discussion article outlines some thoughts on the trade union movement in the North of Ireland and accurately points out the failure of the republican left to seriously develop any trade union strategy.
We also include a historical piece by a young Dublin comrades on the life and times of James Clarence Mangan a Dublin born republican almost written out of our history.
Incidentially it is important to claim our history and Ireland has along tradition of links with the international struggle of the working class. Two example
1/ Che Guevara had strong Irish roots His father Ernesto Guevara said in 1969: "The first thing to note is that in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels" Che's grandmother, Anna Isabel Lynch, was born in the west of Co. Galway and eventually she moved to South America. Once there she met a man called Guevara, and they had a child they named Ernesto who was Che's father.
2/ The Hearts of Steel, tillers of the soil, men of tenant farmer, artisan and labouring classes and descendants of the Presbyterian planters branded themselves together on the estates of Lord Donegall in County Antrim during the 1770’s to lower the rents cess and tithes. A graven sundial made in Templepatrick had a sickle and hammer crossed and above the words “Hearts of Steel” and below “Necessitas non habet legem” (Necessity knows no law)
“So the Bolsevik insignia, the hammer and sickle had a County Antrim prototype in the late 18th century” (Source Irish News Sept 17th 1939)
A nationalist distraction.
Recently a Provisional Sinn Fein MLA Barry McElduff said:
'Young people need to be encouraged when they make political statements in a peaceful and political manner.'As many as 50 post boxes have been painted in Tyrone in the past month.
'It is ironic that in Lifford post boxes are green but in Tyrone, only one mile away, they are red. 'This is about blurring the border.'(Newsletter 10 September 2008)
He was talking about some young Provo supporters going around the countryside and painting the post boxes Green. Now there is no doubt that this is an issue that the vast majority of working class people in Ireland have been worrying about and fretting badly about for years.
Never mind rising unemployment within the building trade particularly in County Tyrone, never mind huge increases in Gas prices for consumers never mind huge increases in electricity for consumers, never mind huge increases in home heating oils never mind huge increases in the cost of staple foods for household such as 60%increases in the cost of eggs, never mind huge increases in mortages, and never mind increases in poverty homelessness suicide anti-social behaviour and the credit crunch. Don’t pay attention to the collapse of two of the four largest banks in the USA and the subsequent ramifications world wide for working people loss of jobs, pensions etc., Never mind the failure of the power sharing executive to meet in three months and the inability of Stormont to do anything. Never mind that!!!.
They are all distractions to take away the minds of the Irish people from the supreme task of the moment, the achievement of the national ideal! Paint the post boxes green and unite Ireland.Whoa! Whoa! What a brilliant idea.
Readers when you have finished being sick, remember the words of James Connolly
“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic England would still rule you”
Colouring post boxes green does not a republic make nor liberates the working class. It is a total distraction by nationalists to avoid facing up to the links between the national and class question.
The Structure of the Revolutionary Party
“Structure is the very essence, because everything involves around, depends upon and springs from the very structural make up of the movement”-Ta power
These prophetic words from Thomas Power sum up how important the structure of the revolutionary party is; how it relates to everything the party ends up doing; how it influences the behaviour of the membership as well. Power was emphasising its importance in relation to the failures of the IRSM in the past. But was he correct in this analysis? Can we really blame a bad party structure for the bad politics and counter revolutionary behaviour of Republican movements in the past? While we may not allow ourselves to believe that party structure is the only cause of these mistakes, it is nevertheless historically proven to be a re-occurring phenomenon when we look at the failures of the republican movement in the past.
A major failure of the Republican movement has been the many splits from within the party. Most republican parties today can trace their history back to some sort of split with the main party bloc and a lot of the time these splits were aggressive. If we stay with the IRSM for a moment and look at how they came into fruition we can point to the structure of the party the people who formed the IRSP were in before its creation as a major reason for this. We will try to point out how a proper party structure would have prevented the fracturing of the Republican party/movement as a whole and how if this problem had been solved in the years before the major splits we would today be looking at a much larger, co-ordinated and defined republican voice in Ireland.
Historical mistakes of structure
The facts are clear here, the formation of the IRSP was a direct result of the lack of a democratic structure within the Officials. The political ideas of Costello were on their way to securing the shift of party principles within the Officials and because the leadership did not want this it used the backward structure of the party to make this impossible. If the party structure was correct then the Officials would possibly have never split but would have instead accepted the majority will of the membership and would have taken a less reformist position in regard to its activities.
Granted, some would have left, but the party would be intact because its ideas would have been achieved democratically. Any party which secures its ideas un-democratically stops being a party of the working class. This process just defined-of the democratic acceptance of the ideas of the majority and the inevitable result from those who don’t agree to walk away from the party-would be classified as a purge and not a split. This is because the minority idea was subordinated to the majority idea and those who would not accept this left. When the majority idea is suppressed and a walk out occurs this is then a split. A split in a party is a very bad thing, but it is something republicans take as normal nowadays.
A split is completely different from a purge. Every party must purge itself of reformist and counter revolutionary ideas once in a while but a split is different. When a section of the membership feel that the only path left for there ideas is to create a new party and break away from the main bloc then that informs us that freedom of expression of ideas or democratic debate is absent from that party.
If you want to grasp how catastrophic the decision to split the party is you could also look at Provisional Sinn Fein as an example. Imagine that there was no split from that movement. Those who believed in different ideas/tactics had stayed in the main party because there ideas were not suppressed by the leadership. Just imagine how important that section of the party would be today. That section could use the apparatus of the party to secure support for new ideas for the direction of the party and with a majority these ideas would be implemented. But sadly those from within PSF who had different ideas have split on two separate occasions because the democratic freedom of expression of ideas was curtailed, the party structure was wrong. And now any feeling of objection to the direction of PSF ends up in more splits.
This situation is a disaster for the working class struggle. The massive mandate that the PSF party has secured has been let rot by those who split. This mandate is still loyal to the PSF party and the possibility of shifting this mandate towards a more revolutionary position is never going to happen because those with different ideas have split from the party. As we have seen this was because of the lack of democratic expression of ideas within the party which is an effect of bad party structure.
The missing link
There is something lacking from the party. Its absence secures at the point of difference of opinion the fracturing of the Republican Party. This “something” is the party structure of the party which led the masses in Russia to social revolution, the Bolsheviks. It is a structure called “Democratic Centralism”. It might sound like an oxymoron but that’s the key. It’s a dialectical structure in that it contains contradictions. It is both “democratic”, and “centrally led”.
The party which has as its structure a democratic centralism is a party full with debate and freedom of ideas. The party members who disagree with a certain tactic of the movement are comfortable in the party because they are given freedom to express and articulate their ideas from within the apparatus of the party. If they secure a majority and they do not represent a bourgeois infiltration then the democratic structure of the party means that idea is implemented. We must remember that the party is not as important as the principle the party was created to agitate for (a workers republic). If we remember this then we would not have any issue with watching a party which was once revolutionary become a party of reform because we would just accept this majority decision and leave the party and join another organisation which still held the principles we adhere to.
Look at how the Labour party have changed completely in their principles, but the party is not as important as the principle so we just accept this and move on. We must have the same attitude when it comes to our own party. The fear of accepting majority ideas causes the structure of the party to turn into a bureaucracy and traditionalism runs rife. Bureaucracy and democratic expression of ideas can not co-exist in a revolutionary party. The fear of infiltration from Bourgeois ideas is a direct cause for the lack of democratic expression of ideas within the grass roots of the party. This is why centralism is vitally important when it comes to the implementation of this structure.
We are talking about parties which are fighting for the overthrow of capitalism and securing the workers republic. We are involved in a war, the class war, and we must implement structures within the vanguard of this war to keep the party safe from reformist or bourgeois infiltration. This is where centralism comes in. The bourgeois party has a central idea which runs through all of its different parties. Bourgeois parties the world over have a central idea which keeps them from becoming a party of the working class(ie supporting capitalism) and the party of the working class must also have a central idea which keeps it from becoming a party of the bourgeoisie.(ie building socialism)
This is why the revolutionary party needs a central leadership. The main job of this leadership is, among other things, to safe guard the revolutionary party from bourgeois ideas. If this is done properly then the fear of infiltration from Bourgeois ideas will be curtailed and democratic expression of ideas will be allowed flourish from within the grass roots. The oxymoron of Democratic centralism ceases to be when they are both implemented together fully. The democratic expression of ideas would not exist without the central leadership to safe guard against bourgeois ideas and the central principle of the party (working class struggle) would not exist without the free expression of ideas from within the party. The central idea needs healthy debate around it in order for the party to understand the importance of defending it against Bourgeois ideas. When they understand this they see the importance of a central leadership. Each element plays of the other and both are vital to the proper implementation of this structure.
A Republican party structured on the idea of Democratic Centralism would end the phenomenon of the split from within Irish republicanism. Once there is an avenue for the expression of an idea from within the party there would be no need to create that avenue outside the party. Democratic Centralism would also encourage healthy debate amongst the grass roots and as a consequence would heighten the calibre of the membership. The central leadership would need to continue to educate themselves in the politics of class struggle so the cadre of the party would also be raised.
The party we see now is a party which is growing in its knowledge and understanding of class politics, from top to bottom, and this knowledge will be of huge importance when it comes to deciding party policy and actions relating to the class struggle. A party which does not have these qualities will be a party which will make the wrong decisions when it comes to the class struggle. The lack of a good party structure inevitably results in poor quality of debate from within the membership which in turn results in a low calibre of class based knowledge. The leadership is also affected in that it becomes a bureaucratic clique and dictatorship.
It is of upmost importance that left republicans structure themselves along the lines of Democratic Centralism if they are to be relevant to the working class struggle. This must come before any attempt at activism because any activism that is not a result of direct party policy only serves to confuse the membership and the masses. The theory must be sorted first and then you can initiate activities and policies from this confident position. You wouldn’t face a snow storm without the proper protective clothing, without being prepared. The same logic must be applied to the class struggle. Without firm theoretical and structural foundations the party is at risk of collapse if faced with stormy conditions. This has been proven throughout history.
Now let us end with another inspirational quote
“If you do not correct your mistakes you will stumble from one mistake to another”-Lenin
Trade Unionism in the North of Ireland.
Trade union activities are heavily constrained by the economic nature of the Six counties. Economically, the Six Counties are dominated by a massive public sector comprising some two thirds of the economy (compared to less than 30 percent in the 26 counties). While the state is responsible for 68 percent of economic output, more than 95 percent of the Northern private sector is made up of small businesses. 90 percent of companies there employ fewer than ten people and only 0.5 percent of companies have a workforce of more than 200. In terms of employment, 41 per cent of the work force is employed in the public sector (compared to a UK average of 20 percent), while the rest of the labour force stands at 15 per cent in retail, 13 per cent in manufacturing, 11 per cent in finance and real estate and 10 per cent in construction. On top of that, more than 500,000 people, that is over 40 percent of the working age population, are economically inactive. This is the highest economic inactivity rate of the UK. An economy based on government jobs, corner shops, and state benefits severely limits the material basis for a progressive trade union movement.
In the North of Ireland, the partitionist division of the trade union movement creates an additional problem. Workers are divided between British and Irish unions. Total trade union membership in the Six Counties stood in 2007 at 250, 948 members. The public sector dominates with over 65 percent of membership. 75 percent of members are affiliated to UK unions, 20 percent to Northern Ireland ones and only 5 percent to Irish unions. The first problem facing activists in the unions is that of a divided clientele and an institutionally divided movement. This historically has always been the case. Not only do you have Orange and Green workers, you have Orange and Green unions. James Larkin for example had some successes, not least because he was an official of an English union, and therefore less open to attack by loyalists on grounds of national allegiance. Connolly in contrast was far less successful. For example, his organising of mineworkers in Larne was thwarted overnight once workers discovered that he represented a southern union; which resulted in the miners not only abandoning Connolly, but the strike as well. When Larkin criticised Connolly for not making as much headway as he had, Connolly’s reply was instructive:
“… he [Larkin] is for ever snarling at me and drawing comparisons between what he accomplished in Belfast in 1907 and what I have done, conveniently ignoring the fact that he was then the secretary of an English organisation, and that as soon as he started an Irish one his union fell to pieces, and he had to leave members to their fate” (S Levenson James Connolly: a biography London 1973, p221).
The consequence of this is that with a divided movement, taking political stances outside purely trade union issues would drive away one section or another of the divided clientele. In his book States of Ireland, Conor Cruise O Brien tells of a Communist Party shop steward in the North who was used to bringing politics into the work place and is now busy trying to keep it out because politics inevitably means conflict.
The trade union movement only exists on the basis of the lowest common denominator between workers. ‘Politics’ have to be avoided. So, for instance, the trade union movement has been reluctant to take up the issue of repression because it would alienate protestant workers. A few trade unionists did set up the Trade Unions Committees Against Repression (TUCAR). But when Brian Maguire, an AUEW and TUCAR activist, was found hanged while in police custody in 1978, the union movement was notorious for its self-castration on the issue, fearing to alienate Orange workers.
Throughout the conflict, trade unions have not only avoided politics but have actively OPPOSED the republican struggle (for example during the 1981 hunger strikes leading officials of the Northern Ireland Committee pointed out to police those trade unionists active in the H-Block struggle. )
Despite these structural limitations, the bulk of the left places great emphasis and hope on trade union work. They point to the example of the 1907 strike organised by James Larkin or the 1932 Outdoor Relief Riots when workers of the Falls and the Shankill united. These events have been mythologised by the trade union movement and most left groups as examples to emulate. However, these events –with their bloody aftermaths- in fact show how fragile working class unity was and how easily it could be broken by sectarianism. Though dramatic, these struggles were too short to have any lasting impact on Orange ideology (although a small number of Protestant workers were won to socialism) nor did they help pursue the long-term political interests of the working class movement. Protestant workers would only unite with Catholics when the economic situation was extremely severe and even then the seeds of discord were always present: while overriding political issues such as partition remained unsolved and the major structural determinants of working class disunity ignored, working class unity could only be a short lived, ephemeral occurrence.
The problem with that type of left analysis is that trade unions and sectarianism are viewed as opposites. Sectarianism is seen to exist outside trade unionism, or if inside a regrettable aberration. But sectarianism and trade unionism are not opposites, except in the realms of abstract analysis. Trade unions in a sectarian society cannot remain insulated from the society of which they are part. Workers coming from the Unionist community have a dual consciousness in which proletarianism and sectarianism co-exist. In 1971, for example, a militant engineers’ march against the British government’s Industrial Relations Act was led by Billy Hull. Just weeks later, the same shop steward led the same workers out on a march to demand internment and repression. There is a whole literature about the development of sectarian trade unionism and about the mutual acceptance between unionism and trade unions. In fact, as the example of the 1974 and 1977 loyalist general strikes demonstrate, the loyalists have had more of a trade union base than republicans. Trade union activities and militant loyalism are far from incompatible.
While individual republicans are members or active in trade unions, no republican organisation (including the IRSP) has a formal trade union strategy or programme. Some republican socialists believe that
“reclaiming the unions” should be a priority. They argue that the unions are sound working class organisations, the problem is that they are
“misled by bureaucrats “
What they propose is to mobilise the “rank and file” members of the unions against those “bureaucrats”. But this ignores the fact that the material, social and political conditions of existence of the trade union movement depend on partition.
This is why while it is at best possible to push individual trade union bureaucrats to the left ; it is not possible to do so for the official trade union movement as a whole. As the late Jimmy Brown put it,
“the trade union movement which began as a workers organisation inside the state, has now become a state organisation inside the class “
A radical movement can only be built OUTSIDE OF and in OPPOSITION TO the official trade union movement. Some republicans and socialists have begun this task – Tommy McKearney with the IWU for example. However the IWU remains very small and its impact limited.
The man the bourgeois forgot
James Clarence Mangan
One would find it odd that a man who walked around Dublin City in the early 19th century ashen faced, dressed in a voluminous cloak, wearing green spectacles, a blond wig and a pointed hat with two umbrellas under each arm would be as inconspicuous to the public as this man is today. Eccentricity though is not what should have made James Clarence Mangan more popularly known. His poetry and essays are prepared with enough beauty and originality to break through the bourgeois face of literary Ireland but alas it isn’t so. Literary Ireland consults Britain and America before it declares which Irish poets are great. Mangan is not one of “the greats” because he was a true Dubliner. To juxtapose him with someone like James Joyce is to create a distinction between a Euro-American prose and a true Dublin prose. Joyce’s prose was on a Dublin theme, Mangan’s prose was Dublin to the core. This all relates to the fact that academic Ireland is national in form but British in content. We haven’t enough space to go into that here but those of you who wish to read up on it would be advised to read the book “The Dubliner-the life and times and writings of James Clarence Mangan” by Brendan Clifford, available from Athol books.
Mangan was born and raised in the south inner city of Dublin, Fishamble Street (now lord Edward Street) in a house opposite the Christ church cathedral. He was the son of a father who he described as a “human boa constrictor” and he blamed his parents for most of his life’s shortcomings. At the age of 15 he took a job in a scrivener’s office in York Street, his work involved the tedious task of copying legal documents by hand. He took up writing as a pastime during his time at the scrivener’s office and began writing poetry, puzzles, and other items in a variety of Dublin publications. During his life Mangan’s work was to appear in such publications as “The Comet”, “The Irish penny journal” and “The Nation”. Although his early work was apolitical his later work had a lot of political content. He had strong connections with the Young Ireland movement and wrote in the paper “The Nation” on a regular basis. Young Ireland was not like the national movement which secured national freedom in 1922. It stood squarely for religious freedom for a start. Young Ireland was destroyed by the bourgeois nationalists in the decade after 1900. In fact, if the Nationalist movement which secured national freedom in 1922 would have been an evolution from Young Ireland then it would have had enough non-catholic support to create a state which included the whole of the island. But national freedom was led by the Catholic bourgeoisie and this meant the partition of the state at the point of “independence”.
Mangan was unfortunately a victim of the cholera epidemic in Dublin in 1849. While he was in the Meath Hospital he sensed his death so he frantically wrote down all his last works on any piece of paper he could find. A nurse binned these pieces of paper after his death because she had previously been reprimanded for not being tidy enough, and so we will never see what was written during his last few days in Hospital. They have been binned. Just like Mangans poetry has been binned by the bourgeois Literary of Ireland. His essays, his influence in Irish political and cultural life, his life story of toil and hardship in an ugly and cultureless Dublin can only be found in obscure pamphlets written not by lovers of poetry but mostly by political activists who understand that culture can only be achieved by man if he is free from the toil of work. Mangan represents the cultural revolution of the working class that would take place after the emancipation of the workers. The bourgeoisie in Ireland are the class of people who have been free from the toil of work who were able to influence what we now call Irish culture. Culture and Art should not be solely in the hands of a minority class, it is for all. Along with the Socialist planned economy and the reduction of hours of work for the working class will come an amazing cultural revolution. The workers will finally be in a position to be involved in Culture and it will flourish.
Unfortunately we just don’t have the material for me to write more about Mangan’s life. A lot of his time is undocumented as he seems to “disappear” for large chunks of history. I could tell you that he had a drink and opium habit, I could tell you which pubs and dens he drank in. But I don’t think that’s important, either is the fact that as he got older he became more eccentric and the description of his attire given at the start of this essay can only really be contributed to this stage of his life. What I can do in this essay however is point out that there is more to Irish culture than what the bourgeois academics of Literary Ireland claim. Its our duty to seek out and reclaim this aspect of our history because nine times out of ten the majority of the population (workers) can not connect or relate to the culture of the rich. Mangan is a Dublin poet true and true, he lived his whole life as a worker in Dublin and his poems and essays were printed in Dublin journals. If your looking for literature that really represents Dublin and Ireland then Mangan is your man.
Mangan was the poet laureate for The Nation. In its first issue he wrote this. Mangan has poems that are more widely known and appreciated, but seen as we touched on his political persuasion in this short essay I think this would be the right poem to re-print.
The Nation’s First Number
Tis a great day, and glorious, o public, for you-
This October fifteenth, Eighteenth Forty and Two!
For on this day of days, lo! The Nation comes forth,
To commence its career of wit, Wisdom and Worth-
To give genius its due – to do battle with wrong-
And achieve things undreamed of as yet save in song.
Then arise! Fling aside your dark mantle of slumber,
And welcome in chorus The Nation’s First Number.
Here we are, thanks to heaven, in an epoch when mind
Is unfettering our captives and couching our blind;
And the press with its thunders keeps marring the mirth
Of those tyrants and bigots that still curse the earth
Be it ours to stand forth and contend in the van
Of the truths legions for freedom, that birthright of man,
Shaking off the dull cobwebs that else might encumber
Our weapon-the pen-in The Nation’s First Number.
We announce a new era – be this our first news –
When the serf grinding landlords shall shake in their shoes;
While the ark of a bloodless yet mighty reform
Shall emerge from the flood of a popular storm!
Well we know how the lickspittle panders to power,
Feel and fear the approach of that death dealing hour;
But we toss these aside – such vile vagabond lumber
Are but just worth a groan in The Nation’s First Number.
Though we take not our motto, Nul n’a de l’esprit,
(As they once did in Paris) hors nos bons amis,
We may boast that for first-rate endowments, our band
Form a phalanx unmatched in – or out of – the land.
Poets, Patriots, Linguists, with reading like Parrs-
Critics keener than sabres – wits brighter than stars;
And reasoners as cool as the coolest cu-cumber
Form the host that shine out in The Nation’s First Number.
We shall sketch living manners – and men – in a style
That will scarcely be sneezed at, we guess, for a while;
Build up stories as fast as of yore Mother Bunch,
And for all twists take the shine out punch;
Thus our wisdom and Quizdom will finely agree
Very much, public dear, we conceive, as you see
Do the lights and the shades that illume and adumber
Each beautiful page of The Nation’s First Number.
A word more – to Old Ireland our first love is given;
Still, our friendship hath arms for all lands under heaven.
We are Irish – we vaunt it – all o’er and all out;
But we wish not that England shall “sneak up the spout”
Then, O’public! Here, there, and everywhere through the world,
Wheresoe’er Truths and Liberty’s flags are unfurled,
>From the Suir to the Tweed, from the Boyne to the Humber,
Raise one shout of applause for The Nation’s First Number.
For more information,
The Dubliner-the life and times and writings of James Clarence Mangan by Brendan Clifford Athol books
Poems-James Clarence Mangan- Gallery books.
Hidden Dublin-deadbeats,dossers and decent skins-Frank Hopkins (Mercier)
Grassroots Shop Stewards and Union Activists Conference on:
Re-Building Trade Union Activism
Saturday 20th September
Venue: UNITE Hall,
Middle Abbey St, Dublin
11.30 to 1pm: Pay claims, social partnership and re-building our unions
Speakers: Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary UNITE; Owen McCormack,
Busworkers Action Group; Dick Roche TEEU National Executive
2pm - 3.30pm: Public sector cuts and outsourcing: How do we resist
Speakers: Joe Tully, (Nurses Rep); Bernard Lynch ASTI; John Kidd SIPTU
Convenor, Dublin Fire Brigade
3.30pm - 5.pm: Recruiting to the unions: How we organise
Speakers: Paul Hansard, President SIPTU Construction Branch; speaker from
UNITE organising unit.
All speakers in a personal capacity
Entrance Fee ?5 (to cover running costs)
WHY THIS CONFERENCE:
The trade union movement needs a radical change of direction. For twenty one years it backed social partnership deals and this has led to the weakening of the grassroots of the movement. But at the first sign of recession, the employers' organisation, IBEC, told us that workers cannot get the wage increases we deserve. Wages had to be cut - and not profits!
Those who gained most from the boom now want us to pay for the recession.
There is a real danger that employers will try to destroy hard fought-for conditions. Outsourcing and agency working have become the new weapons that are used against workers.
We have to resist. But the present model of union organising will not serve us well for the battles head. Some of the union leaders have become too close to the government and do not know how to fight.
One result of the failed strategies of the past, is that union density has fallen. Ten years ago, more than one in two workers was a member of a union. Today it has fallen to one in three and, amongst young workers, only one in four.We need a return to grassroots trade union activism to tackle this.We would, therefore, would like to invite fellow shop stewards and union activists to a national gathering to discuss a new way forward for our unions.
This gathering is inspired by a few simple ideas:
· That we need strong unions that can take on the employers and win real gains for workers.
· That union leaders must show leadership in this fight - and not be messengers for the government or the employers.
· That we need a strong shop steward organisation that is able to mobilise its members to take action.
· That we should be willing to use all weapons at our disposal, ranging from publicity battles to industrial action. We must do what it takes to win.
· That our unions need a strong political voice and that we cannot be
tied to one political party, which jettisons our interests.
This conference will be a practical, working conference that will bring together grassroots activists from a number of unions. Our aim is to spread the power of good examples, to learn from each other and to build solidarity.
We, the undersigned, support this Grassroots union conference and urge you to attend.
Kieran Allen (President, Education Branch SIPTU), Paul Hansard (President
Construction Branch SIPTU), Joe Moore (CWU National Executive), Des Derwin (President Engineering Branch SIPTU), Tommy Hogan (Regional Committee UNITE), Kevin McGaley (President Killarney Branch SIPTU), Doreen Fitzgerald (Shop Steward, Health Professional Branch SIPTU), Niall Smyth (Branch Secretary, Dublin City North Branch, INTO), John Kidd (SIPTU Convenor Dublin Fire Brigade), Mick Scanlon (Shop Steward Cork No 3 Branch SIPTU), Tony Greene (SIPTU area shop steward, Construction Branch), Brendan Begley (Shop Steward, SIPTU Education Branch) Eugene McDonagh (NRBU Executive) Rory
Coleman (shop steward Harristown Bus garage) Tony Kelly (Convenor Waterford Crystal) Mary Ryan (TUI Dublin County Branch Committee member) Alice Sheridan (PSEU Branch Committee member) Dick Roche (TEEU shop steward & President of Waterford Trades Council) Breege Scanlon (Nurses Rep)
(All signatories are in a personal capacity and the descriptions are not
used to indicate anything other than the signatories are union activists)
Please ciculatre details of the conference to any e mail list of trade
For further information on the conference contact: 087 2839964 or email:
18th Sept. DOCUMENTARY:
"HISTORIA DE ROSA" (the Story of Rose) By: Florence Jaugey (2205, 30 min.) Time:19:00 o'clock Where: Pearse Centre, 27 Pearse Street, Dublin 2 The documentary will be introduced by Victoria Díaz García
Organised by LASC and Choice Ireland
19th Sept. LASC STALL IN Culture Night
LASC is taking part in the Global Fair in Culture night with books and crafts from Latin America including fair traded coffee, handmade boots made from the Zapatista communities along with Kankuamo jewellery.
LATIN AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT ISSUES COURSE. Starting 23rd September.
This lively and participative course provides an overview of the causes and consequences of lack of development in Latin America. Rooted firmly in the experience of the people of the region, the course will cover historical, social, economic, political and cultural perspectives.
Where: Ballsbridge college of Further Education.
Further info: http://www.ballsbridgecollege.com/dev.html
DEVELOPMENT ISSUES THROUGH LATIN AMERICAN SPANISH
Fom 25th September to 27th November. Thursdays 6:00-7:30 pm
To enrol, fill in the booking form you find on
Please enrol ASAP as courses fill up very quickly!!!
LASC RESOURCE CENTRE AND SHOP - Books, organic produce from Latin
America, Latin American craft and much more!!
12th Sept SEVENTH NORTH SOUTH INTERCULTURAL FORUM
NATIONAL CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE ON RACISM AND INTERCULTURALISM (NCCRI)
Place: Tower Hotel, Derry, County Derry Time: 9.30 am
More info: www.nccri.ie and 042 935 2730
13 Sept. IPSC SPONSORED WALK THROUGH THE DUBLINMOUNTAINSTime: 11:00am in the car park of The Step Inn
15 Sep. SAMI MOUKADDEM: LAUNCH NIGHT OF NEW CD "THE FACTS OF LIFE FOR THE PALESTINIAN"
Time: 7:30PMVenue: The Button Factory, Temple Bar (aka Temple Bar Musisc Centre),
19 and 20 Sep. CONFERENCE 'HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE'.Place: St. Patrick's College
9th of Oct. "GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT - ISSUES AND CHALLENGES THAT FACE OUR WORLD. Time: All Thursdays at 7.pm.
Place: Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Further info: http://www.learn.ie/www/product.asp?pID=117&cID=3