Friday, July 10, 2009


Irish taxpayers money is being spent on buying defence equipment from Israel, a country which has been condemned by the Irish Government in public for its inhuman assaults on the civilian populations of Lebanon in 2006 and more recently, Gaza, 2008/9.

Despite its public stance and assurances of support to the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples, this Government apparently sees nothing wrong in trading in arms with those it condemns for using the same arms in its vicious war policies in the Middle East.

The situation was revealed in an article in this month’s “Flying in Ireland” an aviation magazine which also covers military aviation here. Here is the direct quote from the magazine:

The Government has been making great play of its commitments to Irish neutrality in the context of the proposed second Lisbon Treaty referendum yet, here it is, arms trading with one of the belligerents in the chronic conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours. This disgraceful hypocrisy should be ended immediately. There are other sources for this equipment which do not involve us in supporting the war industry of an aggressive Zionist state which wreaks havoc on its neighbours in flagrant violation of the UN Charter which we are supposedly committed to and all standards of human rights agreed internationally.

It is no real surprise that this is happening as the Government has been allowing the US military to pass over a million troops for its agressions in Iraq and Afghanistan through Shannon Airport and refusing to inspect the transport of prisoners to the torture camp at Guantanamo for years now in complete violation of international laws. Shame on Cowen and his Green collaborators! Boycott Israel Now!

FearFeasa Mac Léinn
Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 10 IÚIL/JULY, 2009.

And here is what our money is being spent on: (Warning: these images are explicit)

Thursday, July 09, 2009


As 10,000 electricians began official strike on Monday, 06.07.09, the Employers and Government reacted in the usual manner. Rattled that their wage cuts and job cuts policies were being challenged on the streets they repeated the usual list of lies they churn out at times like this; the “greedy workers” holding the country “to ransom”; “selfish sectional interests”; “we are pricing ourselves out of the market” and other such shibboleths.

The fact is, the Government and the Employers, both cronies in the creation of the property bubble which has brought the Irish economy to its knees, are now pursuing an agenda of bullying, socially-regressive capitalism in a determined effort to cut wages and conditions and increase their own profits at the expense of workers and their families. They have, in effect, declared war on working people and their basic living standards.

As mentioned below by FPB, one of the leading figures in this war is Tom Parlon, Director General of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) which acts for the employers who employ most of the striking electricians. Parlon, a former minister in the corrupt Ahern government and leading figure in the Harney-led “Progressive Democrat Party” which was wiped out in the 2007 election when Parlon lost his Dáil seat, was one of the instigators of the de-regulated financial and property development sectors which went on the rampage in Ireland of the so-called “Celtic Tiger” years up to 2008 and produced the local economic collapse here, inevitable given the deliberate connections made between the Irish economy and the perpetrators of global financial fraud based in the USA by Parlon and his developer cronies. Scumbag Parlon, who arse-licked every cliché-ridden sloganiser of US fraudster Corporate Finance who came here, now has the brass neck to demand wage cuts from workers who have been denied wage increases already signed up to by his CIF and their associates.

The electricians are in the front-line of the war at the moment and deserve the support of every trade union member and progressive political forces in Ireland. The future welfare of all workers in this country depends, in great measure, on their success in this dispute.

FearFeasa Mac Léinn

Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 08 IÚIL/JULY, 2009.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Spending cuts recommended by An Bord Snip Nua reveal once again the class nature of the state: it is time to fight back:

The Spending cuts recommended by
An Bord Snip Nua ( colloquial tag for The Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes) will this time be extended to the unemployed and to child benefits. They reveal once more the class nature of the state and the FF/Green government. They will provoke a general reduction in living standards of workers. To reverse these attacks, unions must stop wasting precious time in useless negotiations with the government and start mobilising.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen keeps predicting further hardships to workers. He has said that the number of the unemployed will rise to over half a million (over 15 percent) before the year is over. That, however, won’t be the peak of it; unemployment will keep rising in 2010. At the moment it stands at 413,500, with an increase of nearly 200,000 in the last twelve months. According to the Labour Party, the loss of tax revenue due to that increase and the additional social welfare expenditure carries over an extra annual cost of €4bn for the state. That is close to the €5bn spending cuts that the report of An Bord Snip Nua is expected to recommend to the government next week. The recommendations will include €1.5bn cuts in welfare and child benefit payments. At the same time, the government bailout to the banks has increased the exchequer deficit to €14.7bn.

The class nature of the state is revealed in the allocation of both state funds and spending cuts. The Taoiseach has said, “there should be no sacred cows [ie. The welfare state] when it comes to cutting public expenditure” (Irish Examiner, 2 July). Clearly there are sacred cows – the banks and the corporations – but while some get a bailout the workers must pay for the crisis. Corporation taxes on profits, on the other hand, at 12.5 per cent remain as the lowest in the EU (around 40 percent in most countries). Capital gains are not to be touched.

The cuts in benefits, for example, would imply that unemployed workers on €11,000 a year would see their incomes cut by 7 percent (Irish Independent, 1 July). An Bord Snip Nua report also advocates for a reduction of 30,000 public sector workers jobs (Irish Examiner, 30 June).

Employers consider the Public sector and benefits as the main obstacle to the recovery of their former profits. The years of economic growth between the mid 1990s and 2007 saw a huge creation of material wealth that allowed for an increase in absolute wealth for the workers. Yet, the gap between the capitalists and the working class, an indicator of class power, increased considerably. During those years there was a huge transfer of wealth to the elites. The wage share of national income went down from 71.2 to 54 per cent between the periods 1980-1990 and 2001-2007[2].

Now the economic and political elites are trying to use this crisis as an excuse to further consolidate their class power and extend labour market flexibility, job insecurity, and non-unionised workplaces to the public sector. Article after article appears in the media on a daily basis about the “high wages” of public workers, their “low productivity”, their “job security”, etc. It is part of a coordinated offensive against all the gains that workers achieved in previous struggles, and aims at a further lowering down of wages and standards in the private sector too. But ,they need above all to appeal to the unions to help them restrain social and industrial unrest. Jim Power, Friends First Chief Economist, has put it in very clear words (Irish times, 29th June):

In the private sector there is no possibility of strikes ... In the public sector there is every possibility of strike because it’s a sheltered part of the economy ... But going on strike in the current environment would be economic and financial suicide.
Although it is true that strikes are more difficult to organise in the private sector, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be organised. The main obstacle to workers fighting back in the private sector, apart from the demoralisation of massive job losses, is the attitude of the leaders of the labour movement. As we pointed out in previous articles, the 30th March one-day national strike didn’t take place because of the opposition of the leaders of ICTU and the Labour Party.

What did the labour movement achieve by calling off the national strike and by engaging in negotiations with the government? Nothing. It has only benefited the strategy of the government of gaining time to prepare the introduction of major attacks to the workers. It was a big mistake to pull the bracket when workers were ready to go ahead. That has only added more demoralisation. ICTU is still engaged in partnership negotiations and asking for a “national solidarity pact”. David Begg, ICTU general secretary, has said recently that these ongoing negotiations will likely lead to a new, moderated deal compared with that which was hammered out in September: “Overall the increases would be fairly moderate and they won’t apply to all companies”, he said (Irish Examiner, 30th June).

One of the main points for ICTU was to get the government to implement its 10 points recovery plan, which has become another failure. To start with, the government is not going include ICTU in its taskforce for economic recovery. As ICTU's David Begg has said (Irish Examiner, 30th June):

"We are taken aback, surprised and not a little disappointed that after six months working with the Government on an economic recovery plan, the one major initiative emerging from that excludes us… By excluding unions, they are carrying on the old employer mindset of business above all else that got us into the economic state we face"
Even worse, Brian Cowen has appointed two university presidents and the chiefs of pharmaceutical companies and business leaders. Still, unions are likely to propose to their members to accept that the very small wages increases brought about by the last national wage agreement, September 2008, must be revised and reduced. Further, companies that say they cannot afford to pay will be exempted. That means that companies will be able to delay any wage increase indefinitely since those kinds of negotiations between unions and companies can drag on for years. In fact, there have been no increases since September, rather wages were frozen in both the private and the public sector[3]. On top of that the government imposed a pension levy on public sector workers last February.

The reduction of welfare benefits and the “equalization” between the private and the public sector, plus the high level of unemployment, will force workers to accept lower wages and labour standards unless they react to these attacks. This has been a constant in the history of capitalism. The strategy of the capitalist class is clear, but it can work only if they keep unions at bay.

Day in day out the elites keep repeating the same song, as the Friends First Chief Economist indicates above, “going on strike in the current environment would be economic and financial suicide.” Tom Parlon, former IFA president and PD leader and now director general of the Construction Industry Federation, has said about the strike action that TEEU electrician have announced for this Monday, “The threatened strike action on Monday by the TEEU, and the targeting of such sites as Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport, the new Intel development in Co Kildare and the Corrib Gas Project, is hugely damaging for our industry and for Ireland’s economic reputation. Strike action on Monday will do untold damage to our industry, our economy and the perception of Ireland’s attractiveness as a place in which to invest and work.” (Irish Examiner, 4th July).

The problem is that union and labour leaders are buying into ideas and interests that are merely the ideas and interests of the capitalists and their political cronies. “Economic and financial suicide”? “Untold damage”? Rather, it is the market economy, the capitalists and their political allies who have been “committing suicide” and “untold damage” for quite a while, but it is workers that are paying instead of them. If union and labour leaders keep opposing strikes, what they are going to achieve is to disarm the labour movement and destroy any change of changing course, because the strike is what employers and government fear, and what can stop them and reverse cutbacks and unemployment. It is not “untold damage” to the “economy” that they fear but to their profits and interests. Enough is enough. The unions must break negotiations with the government and start mobilizing at a national level to oppose cutbacks.

[2] Kieran Allen, 2009, Ireland’s Economic Crash, The Liffey Press, p. 26

[3] Recently, the government has disclosed data that seems to reveal that wages for public sector workers have actually increased 3.5 percent since September in spite of being frozen! (Irish times, 29th June). No broken down figures have been given, nor information about the sectors and categories

Friday, July 03, 2009

Red Herrins for Dinner


......and every other day from now until October!


Biffo Cowen came back from Luxemburg last Friday week with a fish dinner for the Irish people: the greatest load of Red Herrings since his party’s election promises of 2007. The Summit of EU Government leaders agreed to provide cover for Cowen’s ignoring of the people’s rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 by concocting a pseudo-legal packet of “guarantees” and “assurances” allegedly in response to the Irish rejection and to provide political justification for a second referendum now to be held in early October 2009.

But, before Cowen had arrived back in Dublin with his fishbox, opponents of the Lisbon Treaty had set up a midday Press Conference in a hotel near Dáil Éireann which was attended by all the media, since the Government had failed to set up its own media event in advance of Cowen getting back to the city. Thus, the news value of Cowen’s announcements later in the day was severely reduced and the NO campaigners had already denounced the so-called “guarantees” as worthless spin.
People’s Movement reps Patricia McKenna and Frank Keoghan, Peace and Neutrality Alliance executive committee members, Pádraig Mannion and Séamas Ratigan and newly elected Socialist Party Euro-MEP, Joe Higgins (who had managed to return to Dublin from Brussels hours ahead of Cowen) tore into the list of so-called “guarantees” and “assurances” and denounced them as the utter tripe they are and worth no more than election promises from a discredited and failed Government on its uppers from the financial crisis of its own making.

The plain fact is that Cowen got nothing from the European Summit except statements from the other leaders that amount to no more than a hill of beans. Despite the spin that these statements will be registered as an agreement at the United Nations they have no affect on the Lisbon Treaty itself which remains unchanged and un-amended since its rejection by the Irish people at last year’s referendum. Even the grandiose declaration that Cowen’s fishbox would be turned into a protocol in the next accession Treaty for new membership, likely to be Croatia, amounts to zero as the Croatian accession is at least three years away and possibly more and if the people voted to accept Lisbon, it would have been EU law for those years and no protocol could be validly retrospective to that de-facto situation in law. Thus another deception is being put forward in an effort to get the people to accept this damnable Treaty.

Coinciding with Cowen’s announcements a new lobby groupIreland for Europe” was set up in Dublin as a propaganda front supposedly representing “civil society” and non-partisan figures “in favour of Europe”. This bland canard, which is endlessly repeated by the “Yes” side, arrogantly assumes that only those prepared to vote Yes are “in favour of Europe” thus negating the basic tenet of democratic decision making; the right to say NO!

Ireland for Europe”, an undefined fetish for a geographical concept without overt political content makes a nonsense of the “Yes” side’s claims to want a serious debate on the content of the Treaty this time. Apart from the fact that leading members of this lobby are retired and well-heeled politicians such as Garret Fitzgerald, former Fine Gael Taoiseach, and Pat Cox, former member of the, now defunct, Progressive Democrat Party, none of their leading spokespeople has made any attempt to discuss the actual content of the Treaty and what they claim are the advantages to Ireland of accepting it. They are off again with the same platitudes mixed with desperate scaremongering on the economic crisis that they were peddling last year, and they lost.

Even Bridget Laffan, UCD academic and one of the leaders of this group, fell foul of her own supporters in the audience of RTÉ’s “Questions & Answers” current affairs TV show where she was heavily criticised for failing to make a positive case for this Treaty after her waffling platitudes were demolished by panelist Joe Higgins, newly elected Socialist Party MEP. Laffan, a long time stooge for imperialist interests in Ireland, was shredded by Joe Higgins' forensic ripostes.
All-in-all, a good week for the NO campaign and an extremely weak and faltering start for the Yes side, which, if this is the best they can offer at this early stage, suggests they are on a hiding to nothing AGAIN!

FearFeasa Mac Léinn
Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 03 Iuil/July 2009.