Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Latest Result From Italy : Democracy 1 NeoLiberalism 0

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Cinzia Arruzza Reports :

“The main motivation behind the No vote was the opposition to the government. But regardless of the diverging motivations behind the No vote, the referendum outcome defended democracy and popular sovereignty, destabilized the political system in a phase in which stability only means further attacks on democratic liberties and social rights, and opened a political space for a possible rebirth of social movements. On November 26, 150,000 women marched in Rome against male violence and on a radical platform, and the next day, thousands gathering in an assembly and workshops called for a women’s strike on March 8, uniting the fight against violence with opposition to austerity, social and health services cuts, and the casualization of labor.”

Women’s assemblies are being created in the whole country in preparation for the March action. The struggle we have ahead of us will of course be hard, as the Right is already trying to capitalize on the referendum result, hiding the fact that even a large part of PD voters voted against the reform. But the answer to this cannot be fear or lesser evilism, for these responses only work to strengthen the Right. The answer must be a return to politics as confrontation, starting from a participation in the women’s strike of March 8, which is opening the path for social resistance.”

 

http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4793

 

 

 

Written by tomasoflatharta

December 7, 2016 at 12:09 am

A Very Disturbing Court Case in Dublin – Blaming A Woman Called Bernadette Scully

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A very disturbing court case that brings to the surface an Irish state system blindly pursuing a vendetta against a woman who could not beat insurmountable odds trying to care for her profoundly disabled daughter.
Quality of life matters more than Quantity, mere pointless existence; but a nasty morality mafia, incubated deep within the foundations of partitioned 26 County Ireland, is kept going by an ideology blaming women, and it thrives in the private nursing home industry where plenty of ugly profit can be harvested.
“She said ‘her little lips went blue’ when she gave her the final syringe.
“I’m not sure how long it took. It seemed like an eternity,” she said.
“My hands were shaking,” she said. “I took her up in my arms and she died in my arms.”
She was asked what her aim was in giving the final dose. “To stop the fit,” she said.
“Did you know deep down what the probable outcome was?” she was asked.
“I would say no, not at the time,” she replied, adding that she had been panicked.
Extreme pain
It was suggested she was as low as she had ever been that morning, that Emily was living in extreme pain, and that she had made a conscious decision to take them both out of this world.
The court has already heard that Ms Scully made two suicide attempts that day.
“I did not make any conscious decision to take Emily out of this world,” she replied.
“I did make a conscious decision after Emily died to take myself out of this world.”
The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five men.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by tomasoflatharta

December 6, 2016 at 11:18 pm

Drowning The Kevin Duffy Water Charges Report

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Brendan Young, an anti water charges member of Kildare County Council, examines the Kevin Duffy Report Commissioned by the Minority Fine Gael Government

A Right 2 Water steering meeting with a full discussion on all aspects of the Report would be the best way to tease all of these issues out. Hopefully that can be arranged before Christmas.

The arguments in the Report for charges to penalise or supposedly reduce wasteful use of water are both a trap and a sham.

Pay Restoration: ‘Where Would the Money Come from? Some places to look’ – Eddie Conlon

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From TUI Grassroots 28.11.2016

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1717839115137763/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED

The main issue the media are focusing on is where would the money come from to pay public servants. Here are some suggestions taken from various sources and going from the modest to the more radical. I have incorporated some of P. Healy’s suggestions below.

To start, some myths we should challenge.

  1. There is no money in the country! Not true. Ireland is one of the richest countries in the world (8th) but has high levels of income and wealth inequality.
  2. There is no scope for tax increases! In it pre-budget submission ICTU make the point clearly that tax revenues (as a percentage of GDP) are far below EU levels (31% v. 46% in 2016). As a result, social spending is also low (32% v. 48%). In an analysis of tax levels in 2012 Michael Taft of UNITE has shown that personal tax rates are on a par with the EU (23% v. 26% of GDP) as are household consumption taxes (10% v. 12%). But when it comes to things like taxes on employers we are way out of line.

So where would you start to look.

  1. The last budget. There are a few hundred million floating around here. The Vat relief to the hotels industry was continued despite a recovery in the sector and its record of low pay and bad conditions. The government could save itself €600m there.

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Written by tomasoflatharta

November 28, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Ireland

‘Trump victory: don’t mourn – organise!’ by Brendan Young

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Trump victory: don’t mourn – organise!

As the news of Trump’s victory sinks in, and is welcomed by the xenophobic right like LePen in France and presumably Farrage in Britain – who spoke at Trump rallies – the pattern of politics is becoming clearer. What has happened in the USA is an outcome of the failed promises of Obama; likewise in Britain where the betrayals of the Blairite-led Labour Party have created support for the xenophobic UKIP and Brexit; in France there is growing support for LePen due to the failures of Hollande and the French Socialist Party; in Germany, the racist AfD has growing support; and similar patterns can be seen in Austria, Belgium and Italy – not to mention support for the xenophobic right in Hungary and Poland.

To me the lesson is this: if those who claim to represent ordinary people don’t fight for a real alternative that will improve life for those suffering under austerity and marginalisation, a section of the working class and the poor will turn to the xenophobic right for a solution.

So far we in Ireland have escaped this. But the experience in the USA and across Europe is that only the fighting left can provide a real alternative. The failure of Ireland’s Labour Party to defend ordinary people has resulted in a collapse in support for Labour and growing support for the left. The AAA-PBPA alliance has gained support and there is continued support for for left Independents. And also for SF, which is seen as a left alternative but unfortunately appears willing to go into coalition with FF in the future.

To my mind, the Left in Ireland must now be much more politically ambitious. The AAA-PBPA groups should not sit on the laurels of increased support in opinion polls and carry on as at present – recruiting small numbers to their individual groups. It’s time to consider a broader initiative, based upon a commitment to mass action and a number of key demands – including repudiating the bank debt, taxing the rich and big business, breaking the EU rules and spending on housing and public services, legalising abortion and ending direct provision. This could draw together those who are willing to lead a fight for real change but who are not willing to join either the AAA or PBPA at present.

Likewise those who are involved in the discussions for a new initiative including Brendan Ogle, Joan Collins and others around the Independents for Change grouping – as recently reported in the Phoenix magazine. A political initiative for which the starting point is exclusion of and competition against the existing left groups – which are rightly criticised for competing against one another – does not bode well. At minimum there should begin a discussion on the possibility of a united left slate for the next general election, which is likely to be early in 2018.

In the USA, Bernie Sanders should now leave the Democrats. There is no solution to the crisis facing working class Americans in this party of big business and millionaires. It may be possible to launch a new party with Jill Stein of the Greens – although many who supported Sanders may now not trust him on account of his support for Clinton. But only a party that is independent of the politics of big business can lead a fight for a real alternative – either in the USA or in Europe.

Gregor Kerr: an enlightening Facebook discussion on Lansdowne Road

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4th November
Gregor Kerr post:
LRA is now officially in tatters. All trade union leaders should recognise that fact, full pay equalisation and restoration for all should be demanded NOW
Comments and debate:
Michael O’Reilly All well and good, personally I’d prefer to see the country stop borrowing for daily expenditure and a proper health service. It’s nonsense for unions to expect z return to Celtic tiger.
Gregor Kerr Maybe we should stop borrowing to pay off the debts of international financial gamblers and speculators – which thanks to decisions made by politicians and facilitated by a compliant trade union movement we will be doing for many many years
Michael O’Reilly Certainly I agree we should have burned them all, but that’s a separate issue!!
Michael O’Reilly You think you can win INTO election??

Gregor Kerr Burning or not burning the bondholders, tackling or not tackling the evasion and avoidance tax by corporations and Vulture Funds, controlling or not controlling the percentage of economy being sucked up by profits – – – these are not things that can be treated as separate issues.
Gregor Kerr In relation to the election, the objective of taking part is to encourage participation, to empower members to become more involved, to develop the thinking behind We Are The Union and to initiate a real discussion about how members are facilitated in or prevented from using the union structures to organise and campaign on the issues that affect them.
Can I win? Absolutely. Getting a very good response from branches and members that I have been engaging with. And that discussion about how members relate to the union and vice versa is certainly taking place.
As I see it, policies pursued by the current leadership have brought us to where we are. I think a change is needed and hopefully enough members will agree with me, vote for me but also step up their own involvement.
Glen Brennan Celtic Tiger?? LOL had no effect on my living… I have same house, same car. Could never afford second properties and will never. ASTI are not looking for increases but pay for work carried out and equalisation.
Larry Molloy  Exactly. If the government actually were free market capitalists the housing bubble wouldnt have happened. The government ,the bondholders, the high street banks (owned by the bondholders ) colluded to enslave the citizens of this state in a criminal ponzi scheme. The amalgamation of state and corporate power is called fascism. The only solution is citizen initiated referenda.

Laura Seoighe As a teacher who started during the Celtic Tiger, Michael could you explain to me what the teachers gained during the Celtic Tiger compared to what they were getting pre Celtic Tiger please?

Michael O’Reilly About trice the salary that we had prior to it!

Michael O’Reilly Sorry, that should have said twice! If you don’t believe me check the public records…..or even a few into annual diaries!!!

Mairéad De Búrca I didn’t get twice my salary but my current salary is lower than about the year 2,000. Benchmarking that gave 1% here and 0.5% there has been well wiped out.

Michael O’Reilly salary levels…. These were unrealistic always and further you are intelligent enough to realise that increasing salaries all round simply leads to inflation!

Gregor Kerr Perhaps if they introduced rent controls, built public housing, did something to control the price of car insurance, made access to health services available, controlled the spiralling cost of third level (indeed all levels of) education…. Perhaps if all this was done then the necessity to increases wages/salaries would not be so great.
Another reason why we need a trade union movement that has a bigger vision of how society should be run.

 Michael O’Reilly Can’t disagree with those but realistically “they” won’t do them so I think the point I made stands?

Michael O’Reilly Anyway I shouldn’t be wasting your holiday time. Hope you’re having a good break.
Keith Burke Michael, so you think we should continue to “take one for the good of everyone”? Fine Gael are happy to let the rich get rich again and the poor return to being poor. They would be happy to pay teachers nothing if they could get away with it. They certainly will never put pay parity in place if they aren’t forced to.
Des Derwin They won’t curb their prices (leading to inflation), but we must (in case it leads to inflation!) 🙂

Written by tomasoflatharta

November 5, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Gregor Kerr: Lansdowne Road effectively torn up.

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27th October rally a missed opportunity Threat of Garda dispute won huge gains Strategy to achieve Pay Equalisation urgently needed

I wrote this article in the immediate aftermath of the INTO/TUI Pay Equalisation Rally.  Since then the gains won by the threat of strike action by gardaí have effectively torn up the Lansdowne Road Agreement.  The formulation of a strategy for gaining full Pay Equalisation and Restoration has just got more urgent.

Approximately 1,500 teachers – mostly members of INTO with a small number of TUI members – attended the Pay Equalisation rally outside the Dáil on 27th October.  It was great to see such support for LPTs, but how many people left that Rally feeling energised, empowered and with a feeling that our unions are ready for the next stage of the battle for Pay Equalisation??

The answer is very few indeed.  In fact most people left with the feeling that in holding the rally the union leadership were mainly just going through the motions, holding a rally so that they could say they held one, and treating the members of the union as extras to turn up, wave flags for half an hour and go home again,

Where were the plans for what is going to happen next?  Where was the outline of the next phase of the campaign?  Where was the ‘ask’ of union members – the tasks they should have been asked to do to step up the fight?  Other than asking attendees to turn towards the Dáil and chant a slogan or two, what did our union leadership ask us to do in the coming weeks and months??……

Dual Purpose

A rally such as that held outside the Dáil has a dual purpose.  By bringing large numbers of people together we demonstrate to the government that we are capable of mobilising large numbers against them and in support of our demands.  We give them the message that they will have to meet our demands or we are capable of stepping up our protests.  But also – and just as importantly – its purpose is to Educate, Agitate and Organise.  People should go home from it more informed, more ‘agitated’ (ie with more motivation/ fire in their belly) and more organised (ie with a plan as to how each of them will contribute to the campaign over the next few weeks and months).

On both of these fronts – warning the government and motivating the membership – the Rally failed miserably.  In relation to the first of these, the failure to even acknowledge the fact that our ASTI colleagues had just spent the day on the picketlines in pursuit of the same goal of Pay Equalisation was shocking.  We don’t have to agree with the ASTI tactics or strategy (which I do!) to realise that basic trade union solidarity should have ensured that we acknowledged their stance and gave them a shout-out of support!

Failure to acknowledge ASTI, however, demonstrated an even more fundamental flaw in our strategy.  Does anyone seriously believe that the progress (limited as it is) that has been made by INTO and TUI on the pay equalisation issue would have been achieved if ASTI was also inside the confines of the Lansdowne Road Agreement?  Without doubt the talks that have thus far taken place on pay equalisation had as one of their prime motivations attempts to isolate ASTI and force ASTI members into LRA…..

Rushed ballot

INTO members, by contrast to ASTI, were first to sign up to LRA following a rushed ballot in June 2015 – a ballot in which, in common with many recent ballots in INTO, information presented was one-sided and not always correct (For example, ‘gains’ presented for LPTs included gains already available in HRA).  There was huge pressure placed on members to vote Yes, with a barrage of leaflets, texts and emails coming from head office.

By remaining outside LRA and by being willing to take action for immediate Full Pay Equalisation, ASTI have done us a huge favour.  If all 3 unions were inside LRA, why would the government be making any concessions?  On the other hand, of course, if we were all outside it and were all taking the brave stance of ASTI wouldn’t the government have to concede even more??  So at the very least at the 27th October Rally we should have acknowledged the contribution of ASTI and should have warned the government that unless they want to see us leave the LRA and join with our colleagues on the picketlines an immediate timeline for full pay equalisation and restoration must be given.

Instead, a government member looking at our rally would have drawn the conclusion that we posed no threat.  And a union that poses no threat will receive very little in negotiations…

Educate, Agitate, Organise

This leads me to the second point.  The other reason for holding a Rally is to Educate, Agitate and Organise the membership.  If you see the union members as a group of people who have a contribution to make to building a campaign that is… But more and more it seems that our union leaders see the members as consumers, as people who should be looking to ‘the union’ to deliver a service.  They see us as people who can be called on to send emails to government before the budget, to turn up and wave flags at the odd rally…  They are content enough with a relatively passive membership who they can ‘represent’.

My vision of trade unionism, however, is one in which the members are the union, and the role of the leadership should be to motivate and organise us, to facilitate us in using the union structures to campaign on issues that affect us.  In relation to Pay Equalisation, and in particular in relation to the Rally, the very least that should have happened is that people who were there should have been encouraged to go home from it seeing themselves as Organisers of the next phase of the campaign – in their own schools and staffrooms, in their own branches and districts.

1,500 people at the Rally was impressive enough but we have a membership in the greater Dublin and Leinster area of over 14,000 (plus students) so there were clearly a lot of members not there.  We should have been asking everyone going away from the rally to see themselves as key organisers and motivators of fellow staff members, to talk about the issue in staffrooms, to engage in debate at their local branches……

Debate and Strategy

Because we do need a debate about how Pay Equalisation is going to be achieved, and a strategy to achieve it.  The union leadership are content enough with slow incremental progress, with moving towards Equalisation.  But they do not have any strategy for where we go next.  Others argue that given the changed circumstances, and in particular given the stance of the ASTI, we should be holding a ballot on whether to withdraw from LRA.

In a leaflet distributed at the Rally, I called for

  • “ Pay restoration promised in LRA should be brought forward and paid immediately
  • INTO should demand immediate talks with government for a new deal to replace the LRA with a deal that gives:

– full pay equalisation

– full pay restoration

– the payment of money owed to us such as the Principals’ benchmarking award

– return to the ONE 2010 pay scale

– back pay owed to post 2012 graduates due to their qualification allowance cuts”

I outlined what I thought union members should do –

“To achieve those demands we each need to

  • Contact CEC reps and the union leadership with this demand
  • Contact our branch secretaries and ask that this demand be discussed at the next branch committee meeting and be forwarded to CEC and head office
  • Start now to build momentum behind this demand for January AGMs and towards Congress 2017
  • Use social media and other fora to make the case for these demands”

And I pointed out that “In both of the last paydeals the government looked for early talks because they wanted to impose more cuts.  We don’t need to wait for end of LRA to demand talks.”

Options

So there are 3 options

Continue with the CEC strategy (although what plans they have to move things along are rather vague)

Look for a ballot to withdraw from LRA

Demand that pay restoration elements in LRA are fast-tracked and that new talks begin on a deal to replace it

What is clear is that a discussion on our strategy needs to happen immediately.   It should be led by the CEC and full-time officials, but it won’t be.  They went through the motions and held the rally, they’ve ticked the box and hope that the ticked box will be sufficient to keep us quiet for now.  So it is up to every one of us to initiate the discussion – In your staffroom ask your colleagues what they think.  If you’re on a branch committee raise it at the next meeting.  If you’re not, why not get your staff (or as many of them as will do so) to write to your branch secretary asking that the issue be discussed. Similarly write to your CEC rep and to the general secretary.

We, the members, have to take control of the discussion and of the campaign.  We have to assert that the INTO is our union and we have to use its structures to fight on our behalf and on behalf of our lesser paid colleagues.

Gregor Kerr

From ‘Gregor Kerr for INTO President’ blog

5th November 2016

Written by tomasoflatharta

November 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm