Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Legislation in Ireland to Legalise Abortion’ Category

Sharon Graham Wins UNITE General Secretary Election – What Happens Next?

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Here is an interesting initial analysis of Sharon Graham’s UNITE election victory – the union has a new General Secretary. This is the source : https://www.rs21.org.uk/2021/08/25/sharon-graham-wins-stunning-unite-victory/.

Sharon Graham is the new General Secretary of UNITE, a British Trade Union that has a significant membership on both sides of the border in Ireland.

UNITE has a significant membership on both sides of the border in Ireland, where it operates with a large degree of independence from the British mothership. For example, UNITE in Dublin is a significant participant in the activities of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, and it has been an active supporter of campaigns for Abortion rights in Ireland.

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Ireland‘s Banished Babies – Illegal Adoptions and Dr Éamon de Valera Junior

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According to an RTÉ Investigates documentary, broadcast on March 3 2021, Dr Éamon De Valera Jr – the oldest son of Éamon De Valera Sr, Taoiseach and President of Ireland between 1932 and 1973 – repeatedly facilitated illegal adoptions. This is not a new story. https://www.rte.ie/news/investigations-unit/2021/0302/1200520-who-am-i-the-story-of-irelands-illegal-adoptions/

Mike Milotte’s book “Banished Babies” was first published in 1997. A new and updated version appeared in 2012.

I picked the book from my shelves, and re-read the chapter about St. Rita’s Nursing Home, run by Mrs Mary Keating.

Milotte explores a 1965 cover-up prosecution of Mrs Mary Keating, who was supported by many powerful men : Declan Costello (son of ex Fine Gael Taoiseach John A Costello) was Mrs Keating’s lawyer. Declan Costello, a Fine Gael TD, was Attorney General in the 1973-77 Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government. https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/was-liam-cosgraves-1973-77-fine-gael-labour-coalition-the-worst-ever-dublin-government/?preview=true&preview_id=837&preview_nonce=2da4341dc4

In 1992 the High Court Judge Declan Costello ordered the internment in Ireland of a pregnant raped suicidal 14 year old girl, in that way preventing her from getting an abortion in England or some other country. This was the infamous “X Case”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attorney_General_v._X?wprov=sfti1

Joe Doyle was another strong supporter of Mary Keating – in 1965 Doyle was the sacristan at Donnybrook Church, where “Mrs Keating had her falsely registered babies baptised”. Doyle was in later years a Fine Gael Constituency TD colleague of Garret FitzGerald in Dublin South-East between 1982 and 1992. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Doyle?wprov=sfti1 Then Fianna Fáil Agriculture Minister Charles Haughey is reported saying “sure half the children born in St. Rita’s were fathered by members of the Dáil”. Haughey was Taoiseach of Ireland and the Fianna Fáil leader between 1979 and 1991. All these politicians – Doyle, Costello and Haughey – backed the 1983 constitutional Irish ban on abortion. Another supporter of Mrs Keating was the ex Rugby Star, the Consultant Karl Mullen – 30 years later he recalled, inaccurately, that the St Rita’s Nursing Home boss was prosecuted “for selling babies to America”. Mike Milotte accurately observes that although Mrs Keating was not charged with “selling babies to America”, many suspected “that was precisely what she was up to”.

An update after watching the RTÉ Investigates documentary, broadcast on Wednesday March 3 2021. I think everyone should zone in on the 1965 Mary Keating court case. A large cast of high-ranking politicians and Catholic Church bosses were terrified Keating would spill the beans and bring them all down. It would be a mistake to suggest Éamon De Valera Junior acted alone. I believe Éamonn Ó Cuív TD (FF Galway West) may have information which would assist up to 10,000 people in Ireland who have false birth certificates. In 1965 Mary Keating’s blackmail worked. Many politicians and bishops involved in the babies for sale “adoption” racket went on to infamously promote the 1983 Anti-Abortion amendment. The money trail is extremely important.

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Pat O’Connor 1948-2015, Limerick Socialist, Supporter of the Fourth International

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cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/left-archive-pat-oconnor-limerick-based-socialist-1948-2015-published-2015/

Recently, following prompts by Pádraig Malone, I forwarded material celebrating the life and political activities of the late Pat O’Connor to the Irish Left Archive site.

A 21 year old Pat O’Connor is holding the placard saying “PD [People’s Democracy] Opposes Racism”. 1970 demonstrations against the touring South African 
All-White Rugby Team.

Readers can find links to to that material in two PDF’s below. The pamphlet link includes the text of a speech I delivered at a 2015 memorial meeting for Pat. A second link is a copy of an obituary submitted to the Limerick Leader newspaper written by myself and Cian Prendiville.

John Meehan December 7 2020

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Nazi Rally Scheduled in Dublin – Don’t Go! Boycott!

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A correspondent highlights a tiny rally in Dublin next Saturday – Don’t Go!

“I see Justin Barrett’s National Party, who want a Catholic Fascist Dictatorship in Ireland, have organised a little protest for Saturday ‘against the lockdown’. Even if you don’t agree with public health measures, don’t be fooled by this shit. These people want young women and girls back in slave labour laundries, young men and boys back in industrial schools, an end to birth control and women’s bodily autonomy, all non-white-Irish people to be forcibly exiled, and executions of their political opponents. All under the jackboot of a paedophile-protecting Catholic dictatorship.”

Don’t Go!

Electoralism: a real and present danger for the radical left everywhere – in Ireland the Dáil SPBP bloc avoids the trap : unconditional opposition to coalition with the FFFG et al right

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A publication in India, the Radical Socialist, offers a timely warning to radical socialists in every part of the globe :

Unless the lessons of the repeated political collapses in Sri Lanka are learnt, not only Sri Lankan Marxists, but those elsewhere in South Asia, who have learned also from the achievements of the Sri Lankan Marxists, may suffer politically. There is a need to examine, not merely in terms of mid 20th century history, but in terms of today’s class struggle, why the politics of electoralism, and of alliances with bourgeois parties (under the disguise that they are petty bourgeois parties, or ‘democratic’ parties, etc) can only lead to damages for the Trotskyist forces. We urge the Fourth International leadership to take it up as a burning political and educational issue, and take firm action. Collaborating with bourgeois oppositions is hardly restricted to Sri Lanka, and serious political discussions will benefit revolutionaries in India, at least. http://www.radicalsocialist.in/articles/statement-radical-socialist/899-radical-socialist-statement-on-sri-lankan-elections

What is the story in Ireland?

Gaining significant electoral victories is a key achievement of the radical left in Ireland since 1997, when Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party won a Dublin West Dáil seat. This electoral victory significantly helped to defeat government water charges plans promoted by the then main capitalist parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, which were aided by their serial coalition partners, the Labour Party.

Ups and downs in Irish radical left electoral fortunes have occurred from 1997 to 2020. This was an open question in 1997 : could the Dublin West victory of Joe Higgins be a minor Trotskyist blip on a stable bourgeois election landscape dominated by FFFG? It turned out this was not a blip. Higgins was the first TD who openly promoted a “Women’s Right to Choose” Abortion policy. He himself and members of his party actively promoted various pro-choice campaigns. The election of numerous radical left pro-choice deputies in 2011 and 2016 eventually forced the main right wing parties to allow a referendum repealing the anti-abortion 8th constitutional amendment. The result : a landslide victory for the pro-choice movement in Ireland and abroad. Here is one report written by USA activist Sarah Jaffe : http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article5823

Today there is a 5 TD SPBP radical left bloc in Dáil Éireann. Three other deputies – Joan Collins, Catherine Connolly and Thomas Pringle – adopted the same anti-FFFGGG governmental policy as the SPBP bloc. This scenario was historic – it had never happened before, since the foundation of two partitioned states in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.

Government Coalition with the Right? : Ghastly Results Revealed

The policy of the Irish radical left on coalition with right wing parties is clearly explained here by RISE Dublin South-West TD Paul Murphy :

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“John Charles McQuaid Made Me a Socialist” – Mary Muldowney

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youtu.be/khWX_lMEZEY

I first met Mary Muldowney in the early 1990’s in pro-choice radical left circles, discovering both of us attended Sandymount High School around the same time – we did not personally meet then – we moved in different circles and (school) classes! We attended the same Dublin marches against the Vietnam War and the Apartheid South Africa Rugby Tour of 1970. https://comeheretome.com/2015/02/03/45-years-ago-the-controversial-visit-of-the-springbok-team-to-dublin/

Mary, a Dublin City Council Historian, vividly describes the late 1960’s and 1970’s – events which also made me a socialist, feminist, and pro-choice activist.

Muldowney’s talk offers the unlikely suggestion that arch-bigot John Charles McQuaid, then boss of the Dublin Archdiocese and the Catholic Church in Ireland, turned a teenage Sandymount High School pupil into a socialist. Recommended listening

Dublin Archbishop, Catholic Primate of Ireland, 1940-1972 John Charles McQuaid

Dublin City Historian Mary Muldowney – Socialist and Feminist

Mary Muldowney’s talk is part of the Sarah Lundberg Summer School 2020, an online event.

http://eastwallforall.ie/?p=4712

Here’s a good description of Sandymount High School, which Read the rest of this entry »

Stormont Crackdown on Black Lives Matter Rallies in Derry and Belfast – Dáil greenIights Special Criminal Court

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In Dublin Sinn Féin is the largest Dáil opposition party up against the new right-wing FFFGGG Coalition. In Belfast the same party is part of a coalition headed by the far-right Democratic Unionist Party at Stormont.

The Northern Ireland State is almost a world-leader for practicising racism, bigotry, and discrimination. The “Protestant State for a Protestant People” spent decades discriminating against a nationalist minority. That still happens, but has been scaled down. Rebellions helped – and mass struggle caused progressive legal change – for example the lifting of legal bans on abortion and gay rights. But, in 2020, this state discriminates vigorously against other minorities, especially immigrants.

Derry People Before Profit highlights Sinn Féin moving in the wrong direction on these issues :

Despite Sinn Féin’s claim to be a party interested in fundamental change – they are headed in the opposite direction.

In the North, Sinn Féin support the PSNI crackdown on Black Lives Matter rallies in Derry and Belfast. In the Stormont Assembly Sinn Féin MLAs voted with the DUP and others for Amendment 5 of the Health Regulations to approve the PSNI’s political policing of the Black Lives Matter rally including prosecution threats and fines. By backing Amendment 5 Sinn Féin voted to give the PSNI more enforcement powers even though no other incidents or events – including mass rallies of loyalists and racists to ‘protect statues’ – have been targeted by the PSNI.

Sinn Féin President and Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill

In the South, by abstaining on the vote Sinn Féin gave the greenlight to legislation empowering the Special Criminal Court. Throughout its history Sinn Féin has voted against and called for the non-jury Special Criminal Court to be abolished. They’ve now turned their back on this position.

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Tarlach Mac Niallais Radio Broadcast from 1984 – Gay Liberation Politics, the Partition of Ireland, Fighting Against a Carnival of Reaction

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Previous Readers of this blog know about the New York Death of Belfast Gay Liberation and Socialist Activist Tarlach Mac Niallais. Thanks to an old friend and comrade of Tarlach, Cathal Ó Ciorragáin, we can listen to a New York Radio Interview with Tarlach dated October 9 1984

The interview concludes with a ballad sung by Tarlach.

https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/covid-19-has-taken-tarlach-mac-niallais-from-us-in-new-york-a-courageous-fighter-from-north-belfast-who-saved-sodomy-from-ulster/

Covid-19 restrictions Necessary – Irish Government’s Hesitation Showed Priority it Places in Profits over Lives

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No Border News (NBN) No Borders News is publishing a series of interviews about Covid 19 in many different parts of the world.

Jessy Ní Cheallaigh answers NBN’s questions about the Coronavirus Epidemic in Ireland.

Please provide a brief biography for yourself and any links to resources or websites you would like included in your interview.

My name is Jessy Ní Cheallaigh. I’m a 22 year old woman living in Ireland. I’m a socialist activist and a final year student studying Communications through the language of Irish in NUIG, Galway City. I’m a member of RISE (Radical, Internationalist, Socialist, Environmentalist) a democratic socialist political group. https://www.letusrise.ie/

Above from left: Dave Murphy; Jessy Ní Cheallaigh, Paul Murphy TD, Kay Keane and Nicole McCarthy

1. Briefly describe the state of the pandemic in your country or city. How many people are infected? How many have died? What do experts expect in the coming weeks in terms of how fast the contagion will spread.

At the current date (14/04/2020) the total number of confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland is 10,647. Death toll has reached 365 as 31 more deaths were confirmed in the last 24 hours. In Northern Ireland, 76 new cases have been registered and 6 more people have died from the coronavirus. The tally in the North now stands at 118 deaths and 1,882 confirmed cases. 12,529 confirmed cases on the island with a death toll of 483. Overall Ireland has made a decent effort to flatten the curve as the spread is not as rapid as it is in other countries. The government announced that there has been a “very high level of compliance” with restrictions on non-essential travel over the bank holiday weekend. However there is still concern amongst experts over the “clusters” of the virus present in nursing homes around the country with very little healthy/qualified staff to help prevent spread. As of Saturday 11 April, there have been 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Ireland. These figures however are definitely not 100% accurate as there have been problems with testing in the lack of testing kits available/bought as well as the huge backlog in test results that have yet to be processed. When testing was first opened up it was under the understanding that anyone who suspected they had the virus could be tested, when large numbers of test were coming back negative they changed it so that the only people who were referred for testing were those who had two or more of the most common symptoms of the virus or those who were high at risk (immuno-compromised/underlying conditions etc.) This resulted in over 40,000 people being taken off the waiting list who then had to reapply. Lots of reports state that some of these people still haven’t received results and that was just under a month ago.

2. What practical measures has your national government taken to respond to the crisis? Have they acted responsibly or were they unprepared? Briefly describe measures your government is taking now to contain the virus and treat people infected with Covid-19. Is there a state of emergency, are schools closed, etc.?

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Words on Des Bonass (died 26th September 2019), commemorative evening, Teachers Club, 29th February 2020.

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Words on Des Bonass (died 26th September 2019), commemorative evening, Teachers Club, 29th February 2020.

Delivered by Des Derwin, on behalf of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions.

Des Bonass May 2019

Des Bonass, a constant campaigner in a long life of activity in the most stirring and also the most unproductive political times, is missing, just missing, the extraordinary outcome of this month’s general election. The upending of a century of duopoly by Tweedle Fail and Tweedle Gael, a surge for change at the ballot box, the development of a left-right configuration, however confused, and a crisis in mainstream, establishment politics. ‘Who would have thunk it’? An overflow crowd outside a political meeting in Liberty Hall [25th February 2020] addressed in the biting wind by one the speakers who has come out to speak to them too. In the 21st century.

Well, such is the lot of many a life-long political activist. Things happen just after you are gone. But that is not the way we think and its not the way Des would have thought. Because he worked and acted in the here and now; he did what could be done at the time. And because he helped set the present in motion, and a lot of other big steps too in the past. And because we are this evening giving Des his rightful place in whatever is happening now, because of his contribution, and because he would have been no less a part of the big things, and the small less-noticed things, than he ever was. And finally, what is happening this month is – if indeed it keeps up and develops – only a small proportion of the eventual historical events that will be needed, and that will follow, and will probably be missed by most of us here too, to bring about the really momentous social change that Des Bonass stood for, and worked for and carried a clear vision of in his head, throughout his long trade union, republican and socialist life. Read the rest of this entry »