What would a Sinn Féin led Government Do?
Would Withdrawal from the Fiscal Treaty be a Red Line Issue?
Sinn Féin regards the Fiscal Treaty as a fundamental renunciation of the Sovereignty of the Irish People.
In Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) during the debate on the EU Fiscal Compact ( Treaty) on April 20,2012, the Sinn Féin spokesperson, Caoimhín Ó Caoláin said : “ On Easter Sunday the Taoiseach and other Cabinet Ministers, as well as Oireachtas Members, myself included, stood outside the GPO and listened to the words of the Proclamation. As I speak on the austerity treaty today, I wonder did the Cabinet Ministers hear the same words that I heard: “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.” The Cabinet that stood to hear those words now asks us to put before the people for approval a treaty (The Fiscal Compact) that flies in the face of the 1916 Proclamation. It is a treaty that seeks to negate the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland. It is a treaty that would surrender control of Irish destinies and fetter this and future elected governments, tying them to the failed economics of austerity. The people would have expected such a surrender from the last Government.”
On RTE on July 18,2014, Pádraig Mac Lochlann TD (Sinn Féin, Donegal North East) said that his preference would be for a government of Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and Left wing TDS. He did not rule out a coalition government with traditional capitalist parties, a position which is in line with recent statements of the leader and deputy leader of Sinn Féin. However his emphasis was distinctly different.
Some weeks ago, Cllr Eoin Ó Broin, who has huge electoral support in the Dublin working class suburb of Clondalkin, opposed SF entering coalition government as a minority partner with Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael. Clearly, the question of entering a coalition government is now a burning issue in Sinn Féin. This is to be expected as there is a strong possibility that Sinn Féin will be the biggest single party in the Dublin parliament after the next election.
I have dealt with the general issue of coalition in an earlier document. (see below)
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of recent statements by Sinn Féin leaders is the common statement that the abolition of the local property tax would be a red line issue or precondition for participation in a coalition government. Attempts by media interviewers to get the leaders to set out other red line issues failed. For example, all refused to say whether the abolition of the new water charges would be a red line issue. The implication is that abolition of property tax is the only red line issue for the Sinn Féin leaders. Revenue from property tax can easily be replaced by an equally regressive austerity measure.
In fact the tasks to be faced by any government committed to act in the interests of the majority of the Irish people will be massive. I discuss these below. In that context, it may be useful to discuss what the programme of a Sinn Féin-Labour Party-Left government would or should be. It is important to recognise that the degree of economic and political sovereignty of the Irish people is now less than at any time since before the Land Acts of the late 1800s. The Dublin Government has borrowed massively abroad to bail out the large (but not the small) investors in Irish banks. It has also borrowed massively to pay for public services, however reduced, rather than tax the incomes and/or assets of the very rich.
One outcome of this is the payment of in excess of 8 billion per year in debt servicing charges to big international investors by the exchequer alone. The political representatives of these investors, the EU powers and the US Government, have effectively total control of the current Dublin government as it had of its predecessor. A heavily indebted capitalist government can only survive by borrowing and this gives the lenders total political control. Because loans to government mature regularly and must be repaid on time, governments must regularly “roll-over” or replace loans even if it does not need to increase total borrowing.
In addition, through sales of loan books by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), IBRC and other Irish banks to international vulture capitalists, many more homes, shopping centres, businesses and even farms are now owned abroad than was the case before the crash. When debt servicing costs by government, banks, householders, private businesses etc are added together, the magnitude of the outflow of value from Ireland is probably unprecedented since before the time of Michael Davitt and the land league. Total external debt, private and public, was over ten times the size of Irish GDP(over 1000% of GDP !!), one of the highest in the world even before the current fire-sales of assets began. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_external_debt
Successive governments have pursued a policy which has made the provision of extra jobs almost solely dependent on multi-national companies when there is not a construction bubble in existence. The recent successful demand by Bausch and Lomb in Waterford for pay cuts raises issues of national sovereignty as well as trade union issues. Now the Irish Government is coming under severe international pressure to change aspects of its low corporation tax regime which is central to its job creation policy.Ultimately the EU and the US will decide what corporate tax regime Ireland is allowed to have. In summary, successive governments have put the provision of existing and future Irish jobs in the hands of other countries.
The Fiscal Compact requires that the current deficit be reduced below 3% of GDP by end of 2015, that the “structural deficit” be eliminated by 2018 and that the public debt to GDP ratio be reduced to 60% over 20 years. Despite the physical exit of the Troika from Dublin , the government is treaty bound to further reduce the current budget deficit in 2015 to reduce the deficit from 4.8% to 3% of GDP. There has been no recovery of national sovereignty.
The current budget deficit of Germany has been below 3% for a number of years. ” But although the German public deficit stayed within the EU limit of 3 percent of GDP for the third year in a row in 2013, it came down from a budget surplus of 0.1 percent in 2012.” http://www.dw.de/german-economic-growth-flat-in-2013-but-deficit-under-control/a-17362284
The EU has now quantified the budgetary position which would be required to eliminate the Irish “structural deficit” in order to comply with the Fiscal Treaty. (EU Report on Ireland, March 2014) The over-all deficit needs to be converted from -4.8 % of GDP in 2014 to +4.9% in 2018. Based on a GDP of 148 billion Euro in 2012, this requires a further 14 billion in cuts and tax rises unless there is significant economic growth. Growth in GDP in 2013 was +0.2% , which means total stagnation as 0.2% is less than the probable error in the estimate.
Germany has no structural deficit. http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/pdf/nd/sp2013_germany_en.pdf
Under the Fiscal Treaty Irish government debt must be reduced (not rolled over) from 102% of GDP now to 60% of GDP over the next 20 years. This requires further significant expenditure cuts and tax rises into the distant future. German national debt to GDP ratio at 57% is already below the 60% figure in the Treaty as can be seen at this link . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_debt
Fire-sales of assets by the current government may provide it with some short term relief of pressure but only at the cost of increasing debt and austerity above what it otherwise would be in the longer term. In summary, a Sinn Féin –Left Government, would be faced with a very difficult situation, to put it mildly. The extraction of a few hundred million in wealth tax from millionaires, however welcome, would merely scratch the surface of the problem.
In summary, a government cannot act in the interests of the Irish people while implementing the Fiscal Treaty. This Treaty, while its provisions are formally the same for all countries covered, is grossly discriminatory against the programme countries in general and against Ireland in particular. Germany is a net creditor country while Ireland and other programme countries are large net debtors. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_international_investment_position
In summary Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil supported a grossly unequal Treaty which had no effect on the German budgetary or state debt position but which crucified the Irish people under every heading!!!
Would Sinn Féin in Government implement the Fiscal Treaty? To do so would be to continue the undermining of Irish Sovereignty and to continue austerity policies with inevitable failure to tackle unemployment. It would be to continue doing what Caoimhín Ó Caolaáin TD (SF) accused the current government of doing in his Dáil speech!!!! Refusal to implement the Fiscal Treaty should be the real red line issue for any left government!
What Would Fianna Fáil Do if Elected?
It may be useful to discuss what a Fianna Fáil government if elected would do in the context of these constraints. Fianna Fail, with the exception of Eamonn Ó Caoimh TD, supported the Fiscal Treaty and can be expected to implement it. But they will need a political cover. It is inevitable that Fianna Fáil would say that the current government left a complete mess. The “recovery” was a complete fake. Fine Gael and Labour are to blame. Further austerity is necessary to bring about a real recovery!
What Would Sinn Féin Do if Elected??? (To Be continued) (In the document below I say:For my part, I would ,of course, insist that socialists and republicans should not be in any government which includes Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael even as minority parties. They would veto any real change even from a minority position.) (To Be Continued)
Comment By Rory Hearne on article below on Facebook
|It highlights the need for a political alliance/organisation on the left that makes the case that significant change will only come when working unemployment & marginalised people engage in struggle – themselves & would only partake in a left led gov that would supprt radical transformation – A New Republic -Sinn Fein will come under massive pressure to be responsible & limit their radical policies. Where is the increse on taxes on multinationals or ending ppps & privatisation & expanding public & community & cooperative services. The left still has a way to go to build a popular base in struggle & electoral support – jumping into a market constrained gov would be a disaster|
Earlier article Sinn Féin and Participation in Coalition with Traditional Capitalist Parties Cllr Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Fein, has ignited a discussion on the attitude of the leadership of Sinn Féin to coalition with Irish traditional capitalist parties. He has enunciated a position of opposition to participation in any coalition government LED by these parties (Fianna Fail and Fine Gael). This is markedly different from the position of the leader and deputy leader of Sinn Féin who have not ruled out such participation. THE CONTEXT OF THE DISCUSSION I believe that WBS (administrator of the Left Wing Blog:Cedar Lounge Revolution) is correct when he says:” It(Fianna Fail-the main party of Government since 1932) is now in deep trouble because it is outflanked on its Republican side by Sinn Féin. And on its centre left side by… Sinn Féin. On its right side Fine Gael(current majority party in Government) offers an alternative, and an alternative that despite its not great poll position has at least the single great virtue of being in government and likely to remain there after the next election.” For my part,I believe that the European election outcome is the best estimate of the support for parties. European Election % May 23 FF 22.3 FG 22.3 SF 19.5 Lab 5.3 Others 30.6 FF benefitted from traditional loyalties to local FF families in the local elections and to some extent by the return of conservative voters who had defected to Fine Gael in the 2011 General Election. Indeed the FF figure in the European elections is inflated by the unusual personal vote of Brian Crowley in Ireland South. (Crowley has now defied the FF leadership and defected to the group which includes the British Tories in the EU Parliament-an indication of the deep crisis in Fianna Fáil) I would go further than WBS. FF cannot recover unless and until Sinn Féin is fatally damaged. FF previously recovered in the fifties after former IRA leader Seán McBride , leader of Clann na Poblachta, entered coalition with Fine Gael. Could it happen again by Sinn Féin entering coalition? The report of an interview with Mary Lou McDonald in the Sunday Times last Sunday (carried below) is deeply disturbing. Though Fine Gael support is diminishing, it is a much more stable political and social formation than Fianna Fáil being deeply rooted in the old Irish propertied and self-employed professional classes. I believe that the real Irish decision makers will prevent a coalition of FF and FG coming to power except as a very last resort. The separate options of governments anchored by FF and FG has been a key factor in maintaining the relative stability of the Free State for decades. A coalition of FF and FG would lead to the rapid disintegration of FF in the context of implementing the Fiscal Treaty. Additionally, the trade union leaders despite their best efforts to protect such a government would be unable to keep workers in check. I believe that the Irish elite will opt for a Fine Gael/Sinn Fein Government. When this becomes very unpopular, Fianna Fail would be available as the anchor of an alternative government. It is the task of socialists and genuine republicans to prevent this elite strategy achieving success. Sinn Féin Leaders on Coalition The position of Cllr Eoin Ó Broin (carried below) is a very different position to that put forward by Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams, and Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald (both carried below) and I welcome it as an important step. In the recent local elections, Eoin O Broin headed the poll in the heavily working class South Dublin ward of Clondalkin. The second person elected was also a Sinn Fein candidate. He is virtually certain to be elected to the Dáil in the next general election. For my part, I would ,of course, insist that socialists and republicans should not be in any government which includes Fianna Fail and/or Fine Gael even as minority parties. They would veto any real change even from a minority position. In this they would be supported by the entire ruling elite and its international allies (remember the Allende Government in Chile). Eoin only rules out Sinn Fein being in a Fine Gael or Fianna Fail LED government. However his position is, indeed, an important step. It ignites a real discussion on the way forward. Councillor Eoin Ó Broin on his Blog 02/07/14 After The Election http://eoinobroin.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/after-the-election/ Posted: July 1, 2014 in Elections, Sinn Féin Tags: Elections Sinn Féin had a good election. We consolidated our position in the North and significantly increased our strength in the South. We are now well placed to make significant gains in the next Dáil election. As we face into that electoral contest two questions will loom large. Voters and the media will want to know who we would enter government with and what economic policies will form the core of our campaign. In the 2007 election we fudged the first question and back-peddled on the second. The electorate punished us for both mistakes. In 2011 we set out a real alternative to the austerity consensus and pledged not to enter coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. The electorate rewarded us with an extra 10 seats. Of course there was a lot more to these elections than just that – but a central part of the outcome of both contests was our answer to those two key questions. The reason is simple. In Dáil elections most voters are thinking about who they want and who they don’t want in government. They make strategic calculations based on what they think is actually possible. Until recently a government led by any party other than Fianna Fail or Fine Gael was not available, no matter how much some of us may have wished for it. This is changing. The combined support for the two centre right parties is falling. A growing number of people –as indicated in the left of centre vote in 2011 and 2014- want something different. The electorate are realising that a better fairer southern Ireland requires an end to the dominance of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Whether there will be enough of us to end that dominance by the next general election is not yet clear. In large part that will be determined by how we fight the campaign and whether we can convince enough of those people yearning for real change that Sinn Féin is the party that can deliver. We need to come our early and set out our stall clearly. Sinn Féin should loudly declare that we will not participate in a Fianna Fail or Fine Gael led government after the next general election. We want to be in government – but not at any price. We want to be in power to deliver deep and long lasting social, economic and political change. That can-not be achieved in a government where the majority voice is either of the centre right parties. So we should tell the electorate that if they want real change they need a government led by Sinn Féin. If the post elections numbers don’t allow this people need to know that we won’t go back on our word, but will continue to build popular support for a real alternative from the opposition benches. We also need to set out our key political commitments – the red line issues that must form the basis of Sinn Féin participation in any government. We should produce a short pre-election manifesto outlining our key priorities on job creation, tax reform, public spending and political reform. It should be radical, credible and costed. We should print a million copies in pocket book format and go door to door from October. Our aim should be to convince as many people as possible of the merits of our left republican alternative before the election is even called. The next Dáil election has the potential to be a game changer. But that requires us to play a different type of game to 2007 and 2011. If we are serious about the kind of Ireland we want to help create then we need to rise to the challenge. People are hungry for change but they are distrustful of politicians. We have to convince them that Sinn Féin is different – that we mean what we say and will only take office if it means wielding real power to create a better and more equal Ireland
Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, Deputy Leader of Sinn Fein, in Sunday Times Sinn Fein: Tax Ideals Up For Negotiation McDonald says pledge could be sacrificed to form government, writes Stephen O’Brien Sunday Times 29/06/14 MARY LOU McDONALD has admitted Sinn Fein’s promises of a 1% wealth tax on assets over €lm and a48% tax rate for high earners – those paid over €100,000 -could be sacrificed in negotiations to agree a Programme for Government. The deputy leader of Sinn Fein has revealed her party’s commitment to abolish the property tax will be the only red line in any talks with other parties about formation of a government after the next general election. “We don’t believe it to be intrinsically a left-wing virtue to tax the family home. The notion is that you tax income, certainly, and that you tax wealth to create a fairer distribution,” she said. McDonald admitted the yield from the party’s proposed wealth tax would not be fully costed by the Department of Finance this year, because the Central Statistics Office would not have gathered all the data necessary to measure the likely yield until mid-2015. In 2012, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions estimated that a wealth tax of 1% on assets over €2m could yield €60-€80m a year. Sinn Fein is estimating that its wealth tax – 1% on assets over €lm – could bring in up to 0.5% of GDP or €800m in a full tax year. McDonald said the party would submit all of its budget proposals to the Department of Finance for costing “as a whole”, but it would propose setting aside the yield from a wealth tax for a job stimulus fund. This would mean if Sinn Fein’s estimate of revenue proved to be too high, this would not have an impact on its calculations of the budget deficit. Labour, the Socialist party and People Before Profit would be her preference as coalition partners for Sinn Fein in government. McDonald, the favourite to succeed Gerry Adams as party leader, said she would be more comfortable in government with “the party of Connolly” and other leftleaning groups and independents than with either Hanna Fail or Fine Gael. “The dynamic of Irish politics now is different than it was five or 10 years ago. We are in a state of flux, which makes it interesting,” said McDonald. “If the numbers stack up and if the people wish it to be so, of course you could have a leftleaning government. I would have a preference for that, for the simple reason it allows you a lot more political scope to deliver change. It is not that evry party or candidate of the left . . . shares every single policy and detail in common, there is a common dynamic and I think the dynamic is important alongside the policy position.” However, McDonald did not rule out the prospect of coalition with either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, though she agreed a Fine Gael/Sinn Fein alliance seemed “incompatible” and the least likely outcome “given their background, their past”. She said Sinn Fein would not rush into government just for the sake of being there. Asked if her preferred coalition option was a hint that she feels Labour will do better than expected at the next election, McDonald said: “No, I think the Labour party is in big, big trouble, worse than that suggested by opinion poll figures or election results. “It is almost an existential crisis for the Labour party. Who are they, what do they represent, why are they in government? “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I would like to think the party of James Connolly and that tradition in Irish political life would find its feet again, and I think the correct collaborators or allies for [that] party are people on the left and the likes of Sinn Fein. “I am always baffled at senior Labour party people going off on a bizarre tangent of feeling that their role in life is to, savage or to stop Sinn Fein … very, very odd. You hear it even from the two candidates for leadership, Alex White and Joan Burton.” In a RedC poll published today, the first since the local elections last May, the Labour party’s support was measured at 7%, down four points on the previous poll and tracking its performance in May. McDonald declined to state what number of seats Sinn Fein would need to win in order to consider entering government, but did say having 30 TDs would put it “in the mix” in terms of considering the options. Property tax removal a condition for coalition, says Adams Harry McGee Irish Times Last Updated: Monday, June 23, 2014, 10:46 Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has confirmed that reversing the property tax will be a bottom-line issue for the party to enter a coalition government. However, he refused to say if a 48 per cent rate of tax for those earning €100,000 or more would be a deal-breaker. Over the weekend Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin meeting the party needs to begin preparing for government and getting its policy priorities right. Outlining the party’s strategy, he told RTE this morning this will mean developing and working out where best it can stand in preparing candidates and also changing mindsets. “We want to be in government and we want to be ambitious for change,” he said. He said Sinn Féin would not go into government like Labour did and provide a cover for conservative parties. “Let’s get ready to be in government and let’s work out the terms.” When pressed on specific non-negotiable issues for Sinn Féin, Mr Adams agreed it would insist on property tax being scrapped. But in response to persistent questioning on Morning Ireland, Mr Adams would not give the same commitment for the top rate of tax for those earning over €100,000. “We are putting people on alert that we need to be ready for government. This will all be prepared in the upcoming period,” he said. Mr Adams emphasised the biggest difference between Sinn Féin and other parties was its emphasis on core republican values, and the entitlements of citizens to a job, a clean environment and other rights. “We want to see a strategy for Irish unity,” he said, saying Sinn Féin wanted a democratic way of bringing it about with unionists.Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has confirmed that reversing the property tax will be a bottom-line issue for the party to enter government. However, he refused to say if a 48 per cent rate of tax for those earning €100,000 or more would be a deal-breaker. Over the weekend Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin meeting the party needs to begin preparing for government, getting its policy priorities right. Outlining the party’s strategy, he told RTÉ radio this morning that it will mean getting policy priorities right, developing and working out where best it can stand in preparing candidates and also changing mindsets. “We want to be in government and we want to be ambitious for change,” he said. He said Sinn Féin would not go into government like Labour did and provide a cover for conservative parties. “Let’s get ready to be in government and let’s work out the terms.” When pressed on specific non-negotiable issues for Sinn Féin, Mr Adams agreed it would insist on property tax being scrapped. But in response to persistent questioning on Morning Ireland, Mr Adams would not give the same commitment for the top rate of tax for those earning over €100,000. “We are putting people on alert that we need to be ready for government. This will all be prepared in the upcoming period,” he said. Mr Adams emphasised the biggest difference between Sinn Féin and other parties was its emphasis on core republican values, and the entitlements of citizens to a job, a clean environment and other rights. “We want to see a strategy for Irish unity,” he said, saying Sinn Féin wanted a democratic way of bringing it about with unionists. © 2014 irishtimes.com
What is to be Done in Trade Unions?
ICTU CONFERENCE UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED EMERGENCY MOTION ON THE FISCAL EMERGENCY MEASURES IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST LEGISLATION at its meeting in Belfast in June 2013:The following motion, sponsored by the INMO, Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU), UNITE and the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) was unanimously adopted by the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference:
“ Conference, noting:
- that the Fiscal Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act undermines the principle of collective bargaining in the public sector and concerned that this may set a precedent for the private sector;
- that the legislation provides extraordinary powers to government Ministers to unilaterally vary terms and conditions of employment;
- that there is no specified end period for this “emergency” legislation; and
- that this anti trade union legislation has been introduced in the centenary of the 1913 lockout;
calls on the incoming Executive to mount a vigorous, and robust, campaign against this legislation with the goal of seeing it repealed.”
It should be noted that SIPTU, IMPACT, PSEU and the teachers unions voted for this resolution after they had used the Act to force members to accept the Haddington Rd Agreement under which conditions of employment and pensions were significantly worsened. Nothing whatever has been done to implement the resolution in the year since it was passed-surprise! surprise!
The unions proposing the motion were only too correct when they included in the motion the fact that they were “concerned that this may set a precedent for the private sector”. Indeed in its recommendation to members to reject Croke Park 2, the TEEU rightly gave as one of the reasons that the cuts would knock-on to the private sector.
Employers in the private sector, as expected, have now intensified their assault on pay and conditions. Bausch and Lomb, the Greyhound bin company and numerous employers about the country are imposing pay cuts and other worsening of conditions, often, after Labour Court/LRC intervention. For example Bulmers Cider-Showerings and a chemical company , both in Clonmel, have recently imposed pay reductions. The attempt by Iarnród Éireann to cut pay continues.
(The demands of Bausch and Lomb are extremely threatening for workers in multinational companies and for the Irish people generally. The powerlessness of workers and the Irish Government in the face of these threatshighlights the effect of undue reliance on multi-national investment which, itself, is related to the failure to solve the national question in the 1798 to 1923 period with all its implications for economic sovereignty. I will return to this in a further document)
And why wouldn’t employers go on the offensive? Public service unions, including SIPTU, have been telling members for months that they had to vote for cuts under the Haddington Rd Agreement lest worse befall them under the FEMPI Act. Indeed, after the vast majority of public servants had rejected Croke Park 2, ICTU Gen Sec David Begg “intervened” and went on Radio Eireann to say that unions who said that no cuts in the public service pay bill were acceptable were being “unrealistic”!!!! Private sector employers are now taking him at his word!!! The slogan; “an injury to one is the concern of all” is not solely or even mainly based on altruism.
What is happening at the top of the trade union movement is a degree of betrayal of Irish workers interests that is unprecedented.
Trade union activists of my age would have spent a lifetime criticising trade union leaders from my own general secretaries to Mickey Mullen, Fitan Kennedy, Denis Larkin, Tommy Heerey, John Mulhall, Harold O’Sullivan in the early years to more recent leaders such as Billy Atlee and many others for not being sufficiently militant. But none of these were ever involved in anything remotely like the level of compliance with government that has occurred since the banking crash. Engaging in talks in the context of statutory pay and pension cuts by Lenihan, failing to oppose FEMPI while Howlin was piloting it through the Dail and continuing negotiations in its shadow, allowing government to deduct Home Tax from pay, agreeing for the first time, under Croke Park 1, that permanent public servants could were liable for compulsory redundancy and therefore had to agree to cuts to avoid it. The level of compliance is also unsurpassed in any of the European bailout countries.
UNION LEADERS SUPPORTING LABOUR HUMILIATED IN EUROPEAN ELECTION!
The political earthquake in voting allegiance in recent elections presents huge problems for union leaders. The combined non-Labour Party Left (excluding Sinn Féin) is now bigger than the Labour Party in local government! Big unions affiliated to the Labour Party were unable to deliver votes to Labour. A large banner on the SIPTU building in central Dublin urged votes for Emer Costelloe (Labour Party). There are 11 other trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party including TSSA, UCATT and Municipal Employees Division of IMPACT. The Irish Region of UNITE had dissaffiliated from the Irish Labour Party before the election. The big retail union MANDATE has not been affiliated to the Labour Party for decades. Because of its pivotal place in the past and present of the Irish working class, in addition to its size, SIPTU (ITGWU) through its leadership has a special responsibility for the austerity being imposed by the Labour Party in government.
In addition to Sinn Féin heading the European election poll in the Dublin Constituency with over 88,000 votes we see the following in details of the first count:
|Socialist Party||Murphy, Paul||29953|
|Labour Party||Costello, Emer||25961|
|People before Profit (SWP)||Smith, Bríd||23875|
The leaders of SIPTU, the giant general union, were totally ignored by their members. It is clear that union leaders are totally out of step with the popular mood. Nevertheless, since the election, SIPTU leader Jack O’Connor has said: “Labour should remain in Government. It is vital there is a voice in Cabinet to challenge austerity” (Cork Echo June 5) UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!! National mobilisation of members could not even be mentioned as an alternative!
Stirrings Among Union Members
Already, union members are wearying of continued retreats before the offensive of employers in the private and public sectors. Is the unofficial stoppage at Greyhound a harbinger of the great waves of unofficial strikes of the sixties which culminated in the defeat of the employers in the Maintenance strike. Workers in Irish rail, Aer lingus, Bausch and Lomb and the Paris Bakery are either involved or have been recently involved in industrial conflict situations. The blows delivered to the government parties in the recent elections cannot but give impetus to the determination of workers to resist economic attacks in their employments. Collaboration with austerity governments has reached an all time intensity in recent pay reduction deals in the public service. The trade union leaderships are the praetorian guard of pro-austerity governments. But the worm may now be turning—–.
The Irish trade union leadership has been unusually compliant since 1969. That was the year in which an elected cross-union strike committee of maintenance craftsmen inflicted a historic defeat on Irish employers as a whole. The craftsmen won with massive support from general workers who respected their pickets. Only one of 23 craft union leaderships was supporting the strike when the employers collapsed and settled individually with the strikers. The then Leader of the ICTU had called on members of his own general union (Marine Port and General Workers Union) to place pickets on workplaces in protest against the craftsmen’s activities!! Following the strike the entire unionised Irish workforce through relativity systems and under threat of a strike wave secured bigger increases than the craftsmen who then caught up! All modern wages in Ireland are based on the gains of the strike of maintenance craftsmen in 1969. Far from celebrating the victory, the top ICTU leadership immediately changed picketing rules in an attempt to ensure that the solidarity shown could never happen again. ICTU then tolerated changes in industrial relations law by government, which inter alia, gave increased powers to general secretaries over members and elected executives!
Since the anti-conscription strike of 1917, the ITUC Congress and Labour Party, as it was then known, has not spoken politically on behalf of the majority of Irish workers. It failed to lead the national struggle and the social struggles of the 1918-1923 period to a successful conclusion. This failure ceded the allegiance of Irish workers to Unionist parties in the northern state and pro-capitalist nationalist parties in the souther state. Since then, social democracy in Ireland north and south has always been a stunted organism. Unlike the Irish case, in imperialist countries, such as Germany and the UK, its parties have been in government alone. There was a huge surge of workers into the trade unions in the 1918 to 1922 period, principally but not only into the ITGWU, now called SIPTU. In this sense, the self identity of the Irish working class as having a separate class interest is historically and practically centred on the trade unions rather than on the Labour Party as in the UK. The Irish trade union leadership was deeply involved in the false boom and subsequently in collaboration with the FF/Green Government and the FG/Lab government in implementing austerity programmes.
ICTU secretary General David Begg was a senior member of the board of the Central Bank for 14 years up to the year 2010. He reports to the executive council of ICTU. Before he became governor of the Central Bank, the current governor, Professor Honohan, in Economic and Social Review (Summer 2009) said:“Irish banking system had been, in effect, on a life-support system since September 2008.—-.Complacency resulted in the banks fuelling the late stage of an obvious construction bubble with massive foreign borrowing, leaving them exposed to solvency and liquidity risks which in past times would have been inconceivable–At the end of 2003, net indebtedness of Irish banks to the rest of the world was just 10 per cent of GDP. By early 2008 that had jumped to over 60 per cent” The borrowing of 50% of Gross Domestic Product over 5 years by the covered banks is precisely what the Central Bank is tasked to prevent-grossly irresponsible borrowing which threatens financial stability. Following the banking collapse, countless thousands have lost their jobs and savage austerity has been visited on the population including pay and pension cuts. There had been a formal system of social partnership in place from 1987 until the economic collapse in 2009. Subsequently collaboration with government by the trade union leadership intensified. After the FF/Green government legislated for pay and pension cuts in the public service (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2010) and implemented a moratorium on the filling of posts in the public service, union leaders negotiated further major reductions in the public service pay bill over 3 years(Public Service Agreement 2011-2014) with the same government! Though the new FG/Lab government reneged on the deal in 2013, and introduced draconian anti-union Legislation (FEMPI 2013), the union leaders negotiated a new 3 year deal implementing further cuts in the public pay bill with the FG/Labour government . The trade union leaders are completely complicit in implementing austerity policies. Currently, the collaboration takes place through Labour Party ministers in government. But I do not believe that the complicity with the present government is due to the presence of the Labour Party in the government. All the evidence is that the union leaders would be equally complicit with any government which maintained the cast of senior trade union officials as an integral part of the elite of Irish society. SEE http://wp.me/pKzXa-gw
What Is to Be Done?
When I say that it is essential that the left and the trade unions show a new way forward to the Irish people in the current ongoing economic and political crisis, I do not mean that the current trade union leaders can be expected to do this. Activists must, of course, continue and intensify efforts to bring the leaders under democratic control of members and to replace those not amenable to such control. However, if one depended solely on proceedings at annual congresses and branch/section meetings, workers would be long defeated before such processes were concluded. Irish workers have a particularly strong tradition of “unofficial” industrial action in addition to official action. But workers have been particularly quiet since the beginning of the economic crisis. There had been very significant improvements in workers living standards in the decade before the onset of recession. The recession came as quite a shock to all. Trade union leaders and politicians reinforced the same message. If short term or temporary pain were accepted, previous relative prosperity would be recovered. Many believed this or thought it might be true. But very few now hold this view and the number decreases as time goes by. After the overall exchequer deficit has been reduced below 3% of GDP in the budget 2015, the state is committed to removing the “structural deficit” by 2018 and paying down state debt from 120% of GDP to 60% over 20 years under the Fiscal Treaty. Resistance by workers in their employment is already increasing. Commercial companies which are partially or wholly owned by the state are now seeking to worsen conditions of employment. Workers in Aer Lingus and Irish rail are resisting. The largely immigrant workforce in a small Dublin centre bakery is sitting in to demand wages owed and redundancy payments. All this could become contagious! The current unofficial “downer” at Greyhound by lowly paid workers may be a straw in the wind! This possibility is enhanced by the outcome of recent elections. The blows delivered to the government parties in the recent European and Local elections shows to workers that the government can be shaken and that there is widespread opposition to government policies. The wipe-out of the Labour Party and the surge to Sinn Féin has rocked the political system and the irish elites including the trade union leaders.
- In line with the new mood, union activists must now redouble their efforts to secure support of fellow workers to resist attacks on pay ,pensions and conditions in the public and private sectors
- Union leaders must be called to account for their support for Austerity Measures and for the Labour Party in Government
- An alternative economic path for the country based on the interests of workers and the poor should be advocated (see x below)
- Dissaffiliation from the Labour Party should be advocated (see y below)
- Workers should be urged to seek and sign the official form form forbidding the union to give any part of union dues to the party.
- Full time officials who represent unions on Public Service Committee of ICTU and on the Executive Council of ICTU should be replaced by executive members subject to re-election. (This does not require a change of union rules in most cases)
- All officials must be subject to election and re-election
X several left wing organisations have put forward such programmes. At a minimum a steeply progressive taxation of the incomes and assets of the very rich should be advocated (the top 10,000 income earners have an average income of 595,000 Euro each and financial assets (bank deposits and shares) of households only (not companies) have increased by 70 billion since the onset of recession and are now above peak boom levels (Central Statistics Office, Institutional Sector Accounts 2013). Water charges, to be introduced in October should be resisted by trade unions)
y How can a union remain affiliated to the Labour Party after ICTU, itself, has passed the following resolution concerning the emergency legislation introduced by Labour Party Minister, Brendan Howlin: ICTU CONFERENCE UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTS EMERGENCY MOTION ON THE FISCAL EMERGENCY MEASURES IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST LEGISLATION The following motion, sponsored by the INMO, Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU), UNITE and the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA) was unanimously adopted by the ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference at its meeting in Belfast today (June 2013): Conference, noting:
- that the Fiscal Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act undermines the principle of collective bargaining in the public sector and concerned that this may set a precedent for the private sector;
- that the legislation provides extraordinary powers to government Ministers to unilaterally vary terms and conditions of employment;
- that there is no specified end period for this “emergency” legislation; and
- that this anti trade union legislation has been introduced in the centenary of the 1913 lockout;
calls on the incoming Executive to mount a vigorous, and robust, campaign against this legislation with the goal of seeing it repealed.
(Nothing has been done to implement the resolution in the last 12 months. there is no union affiliated to the Labour Party among the proposers!! P H)
Labour Leadership Race: Savour the Total cynicism of Labour and Trade Union Leaders Miriam Lord : http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/the-question-that-should-have-been-asked-at-the-labour-husting-was-why-are-we-all-here-1.1833442 …
Read More http://wp.me/pKzXa-kQ
UPDATE JULY 4
New Labour Leadership But No change
SIPTU LEADERSHIP NOW DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR LABOUR ACTIONS IN GOVERNMENT
The entire Labour party leadership affair is a low farce with little substance. The vote for the Labour candidate in the recent bye-election in Joan Burton’s constituency of Dublin West was 5.2% for Lorraine Mulligan. Joan Canvassed for the candidate. She delivered a derisory vote.
In the new All Tipperary Co Council, the Labour Party has one seat only. The candidate was elected to the ninth seat in the Nenagh ward without reaching the quota. This is the “turf” of Alan Kelly TD who has been elected as Deputy leader of the Labour Party.
If a general election were held to-morrow, there can be little doubt that the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Lasbour Party would lose their seats.
The Labour Party is terminally ill but is being kept alive by Jack O’Connor and the SIPTU leadership. Jack has referred to the “vile lie” that Labour broke its promises. He has also claimed that the Labour Party has “saved” the workers from 2 billion in additional cuts which otherwise would have been implemented by Fine GaeL.
If SIPTU withdrew support from the Labour Party leadership, the party would collapse. A convention of the Labour movement, political and industrial, could then be held to discuss a way forward.
It is clear that the leaderships of several trade unions are distinctly unhappy with the role of the Labour Party in government. UNITE has already dissaffiliated. The emergency resolution passed by ICTU Biennial Congress in June 2013 calling for a vigorous campaign against Labour Howlins anti-worker FEMPI wage cutting act were INMO, IBOA and MANDATE in addition to UNITE. O’Connor and Coady(IMPACT) poured cold water on the resolution but voted for it. But they have ensured that the resolution has not been implemented in any respect in the last twelve months.
The SIPTU leadership must be held to be directly responsible for everything Burton and Kelly do in government.
It should be recalled that the affiliated unions supported the return to coalitionism in 1970. Instead of celebrating the historic victory of the unofficialmaintenance workers strike over the employers, they were terrified by it.
Everybody should attend the Greyhound Workers Support meeting in Libert Hall on Monday. But as we do, we should ask ourselves how SIPTU allowed a situation to arise where an employer could dare to bring in “agency workers” to break an official strike a year after we celibrated the hundredth anniversary of 1913!!
Prior to the 1969 General election the Labour Party leadership adopted a policy of refusing to enter coalition with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael in the future. While the Labour Party vote improved in the 1969 General Election, Labour did not make the sweeping gains that some had expected. The leadership immediately used the outcome to reverse its “no coalition” policy. The reality was that the Labour and Trade Union leaders were frightened by the unofficial strike wave which culminated in the great national victory over the employers by the maintenance craftworkers in 1969. The mobilisation around civil rights in the north added to the dangers of destabilisation of the capitalist Treaty settlement of 1922. As always, Irish social democracy returned to its first principle: protect t capitalist stability. This required a return to coalition.
I resisted this reversal and I was elected to the National Executive (then called the Administrative Council at the1970 Party Conference on that basis . I was expelled at the first meeting.
Again in 2011, following the unprecedented economic crash and the linked damage to the main ruling party Fianna Fáil, capitalist stability was in danger. It was clear to all that any party representing workers would be fatally damaged by participation in a capitalist coalitrion government in the circumstances. Yet Labour entered with its eyes open to protect Irish capitalism once again.
This coalitionist policy has led to disaster after disaster for the Labour Party. Now it is on the brink of oblivion.
Written on the tombstone of Labour will be the legend: “It died protecting Irish capitalism. It turned on its own””
Because none of the leadership candidates are questioning the coalition policy, the outcome of the leadership election is immaterial.
The material below was contained in an edition of Comment,the UCD Labour Party Magazine published in 1967. It was edited by Ruairí Quinn who has just retired as Minister for Education. It gives a glimpse of the brief “no coalition” era in the Labour Party in the late sixties.
Ruairí Quinn writes an editorial against coalition with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
Paddy Healy(myself!) elaborates on the history and meaning of Connolly’s concept of the Workers Republic. This is carried below.
Full Magazine here http://irishelectionliterature.wordpress.com/2014/07/02
Pat Healy is a graduate of UCD and is currently a lecturer in Bolton ST1
At the coming Labour Party conference motions will be discussed calling for the reinsertion of the demand for a Workers Republic among the aims and objects of tine party. This development, which is a reflection of the growing leftward trend in Irish politics, will be welcomed by all workers who see the need for a radical reorganisation of the economy in the interest of the working class, This need will become all the more apparent in the coming months when Fianna Fáil, the executive committee of the exploiting class, will attempt to shackle the workers by enacting anti-trade union legislation.
The history of the demand for a Workers Republic in the Labour movement is most instructive, It was the goal of James Connolly co-founder with Larkin of the Labour Party. It was clear to him that independence alone would not alleviate the plight of the toiling man. Consequently, he instructed the Citizen Army to hold onto their arms in the coming fight lest those who were with them stop short of his objective. In the thirties, the demand for a Workers Republic split the Republican Congress2 ,its opponents holding that the national revolution must first be completed-shades of Devalera’s infamous dictum “Labour must wait”.
It was formally incorporatod as an objective of the Labour
Party in 1936. However, anti-progressive forces wore soon to show their hand. The executive of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who were then affiliated to the Labour Party, sent a letter to the Hierarchy asking their opinion as to whether the aims and objects of the Labour Party ware in any way in conflict with Catholic teaching. This was referred by the Hierarchy to a committee of experts, who replied that certain things were and gave as an example the fact that the Worker’s Republic was the ultimate objective of the party.
A series of amendments were placed on the agenda of the 1938 conference by the INTO, with the object of deleting the objectionable clauses from the constitution. It became apparent however, after a number of discussions between the executive of the I.N.T.O.and some members of the AC of the Party that the amendments would not be passed. They were accordingly withdrawn after an assurance by NORTON that he would use “other means” to have them adopted. The amendments again appeared on the agenda of the 1939 conference but were referred back. However, the A.C, sought and obtained permission from the conference to redraft the constitution. This wassupported by Tom 0’Connell, a former Chairman of the Party, who remarked “people might think we’re socialists”. A new draft-constitution was circulated in April 1940 and in this draft all reference to the Workers’ Republic had been omitted. This was flltina passed in the 1940’s and following this the INTO received the express commendation of the Bishops. Before this statement from the bishops no public mention had been made of the negotiations that had been going on between the executive of the INTO, certain members of the A.C. of the Labour Party and the Hierarchy. Even to-day it is not thought advisable to make public reference to the circumstances which led up to the alterations in the constitution. It is significant that no direct vote was ever taken on the deletion of the Worker’s Republic clause.
The Labour Party has recently declared itself to be a socialist party, but declarations alone are meaningless unless the Party adopts a socialist programme for workers power centred around the demand for a workers Republic.
There must be no ambiguity about the goal for which we are striving. WE can learn much from the experience of the British Labour Party. This so-called socialist party was elected without a socialist programme and with no perspective outside the capitalist system. Now, having no other perspective, they govern in the in the interest of the exploiters and when these exploiters encounter difficulties which spring from the inherent contradictions in capitalism they unload the problems onto the backs of the workers by deliberately creating unemployment. This human suffering, this gross waste of resources which should be used to better the lot of those who work could never take place in a planned economy. Anyone who has any illusions that the British Labour Party is governing in the interest of the workers should consult the growing dole queues.
This is not what we mean by a Worker’s Republic. The Worker’s Republic the rule of the majority, organizised through workers’ councils, without standing army or permanent bureaucracy, needing repression initially only against the formerly exploiting minority. The electorate will retain the right of immediate recall of its representatives at all levels. Therefore the character of this semi-state of the working class is radically different.Whereas present “democracy” is based on a state of exploitation of the vast majority, and is only an empty, legalistic formula masking an employers’ dictatorship, the Workers’ Republic means real democracy, the reality of the controlling will of the workers: it is democracy by and for tile working people against the exploiters.
In the Workers’Republic the means of life will be social property. The factories, banks, insurance companies and means of transport and communication will be common property of the working people,controlled democratically. All imperialist economic holdings will be expropriated. Large scale industry will be nationalised,(nationalisation being understood as the transfer of ownership to the workers state under the direct socialist management of the working class). The existing state-capitalist enterprises will also be transferred into social property by the Workers’ State. Large estates and capitalist agricultural undertakings will be nationalised. There will be state monopoly of the wholesale trade, :Nationalisaxion for use by the people of large houses in town and country. Small property in town and country will not be expropriated and non-exploiters will not be coerced. Only when the small farmers can see the advantages of amalgamation and large scale agriculture will there be any question of reorganisation here. Until that time, planning by the Workers State will, will at least, free the small farmer from the disastrous effects the present anarchic capitalist system.
At a local level workers management will be the rule; on a national level, economic functions will be centralised in the hands of the democratically controlled workers state. The central and local
will interact and mutually adjust to the other. For the first time a rational economy planned in the interests of the self-controlling working man will be possible
In relation to the Labour Party Conference a word of warning is necessary. Past experience has shown that the cleverest careerists often adopt left sounding phrases as a means to their own ends. When Hugh Gaitskell sought to delete Clause 1V from the British Labour Party constitution his vigorous opponent was Harold Wilson (Claus IV states that the aim of the Party is the control of the means of production by those who labour by hand or by brain). Now Wilson and his fellow traitors not alone ignore Clause IV but even their own election promises.
It will not be surprising, therefore, if the conference accepts the Workers’ Republic motion by a large majority with strong vocal support from all manner of oppartunists
and place-seekers.But let us not be deceived.Let us elect officers who will struggle for Connollys glorious goal and after conference let us wage a constant determined struggle within the Party lest any bureaucrat, blackleg or traitor should renege on the battle for socialism and place his owm selfish interest before those of the working class.
Onward to the Workers Republic!!
1 if the author had been consulted by Editor Ruairí Quinn he would have been told that my name is Paddy Healy and that I had joined the lecturing staff at Kevin St (PH 2014)
Huge Political Crisis Developing in Ireland
The reality is that political room for social democracy has been removed in EU “programme countries” .Classical social democracy is almost extinct in Greece and is now dying in Ireland
I rarely agree with John Bruton but he is correct in predicting (at least) 10 years more of austerity. The EU has quantified what is necessary to remove “the structural deficit” under the fiscal treaty- a change from -4.8% of GDP in 2014 to +4.9% in 2018. Then the requirement to PAY DOWN (not roll-over) the state debt from 120% of GDP to 60% of GDP over 20 years kicks in. No wonder, John Bruton is concerned about the government parties “raising expectations”.
THE REAL PROOF THAT THE LABOUR PARTY IS IN DIRE LONG TERM DIFFICULTY IS THAT NO LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE(even in the election for Deputy Leadership ) IS PROPOSING TO LEAVE THE COALITION GOVERNMENT EVEN ON AN OPPORTUNISTIC BASIS!
(Labour Leadership Contest: Neither of the two candidates propose to leave the austerity coalition of which Labour is a part. Under the Fiscal Treaty, which Labour supported, austerity is to continue for 20 years as government debt must be reduced (not rolled over) from 120% to 60% of GDP! Any Labour Party member, who wishes to oppose the trajectory supported by both candidates and call for a break with coalitionism, should write on the ballot paper: “none of these”
I was expelled from the National Executive of the Labour Party in 1970 for opposing the return to coalitionism after the 1969 general election. My stand has been only too trajically vindicated! )
Unless there is decisive intervention from the left, the following is likely to happen: Some combination of Sinn Fein and the traditional parties will come into government in the next general election. The government will “discover” that the economy is not “recovering” after all and that the outgoing government has concealed the extent of the problems. Blaming the outgoing government (It was ever thus), they will then launch a new round of austerity in line with the Fiscal Treaty.
Meanwhile extreme right wing forces will gather as the left and the trade union movement fail to show a way forward for the people
There will be a heavy price to be paid if the left cannot create a credible and principled alternative–
A pretend alternative, involving forces which are not opposed to coalition with FG and/or FF in principle, would create a worse scenario with a fraction of the “left alternative” joining the government (“a national government”), thereby further disorienting any left alternative which may have existed before the election ——
These matters must be addressed urgently on the left and in the trade unions. It is well to remember that in Irish circumstances, it is through the trade unions that the working class became “a class for itself”, as the political wing of the labour movement failed to play a progressive and leading role on the national question after 1916.
In the discussion a colleague has replied: sounds like “same old, same old” despite the “seismic shift”
The “seismic shift” is away from political allegiance to the traditional parties. That alone could not be expected to provide a way forward. But the circumstance in which the southern state can no longer depend solely on the traditional FF, FG, Lab parties is not a “same old, same old” situation.
The last big political crisis was “solved” for capitalism by MacBride entering government AND by the expansionist Keynesian policies of westen governments(including Marshall Aid) which created a relatively favourable international environment.
There are many differences to-day. Sinn Fein already has more seats than Clann Na Poblahta achieved and is about to gain far more. Sinn Fein is organised on a 32 county basis. It will be far more difficult for Sinn Fein to deliver its southern supporters to support austerity than it was to enter an administration with Unionism. Northern nationalists feel threatened by sectarian discrimination and many see SF participation in the Stormont administration as a protection.
How many southern workers would forgive SF for supporting austerity?
I would opine that the real movers and shakers of the southern state (eg. John Bruton) are very worried. Clearly they believe that the EU is determined to continue implementing austerity under the Fiscal Treaty. Has the EU any choice? What would “expectations” be like if Sinn féin entered government having promised to end austerity?
There are similarities with the past but there are also important and crucial differences.
There are serious opportunities for the left and the trade unions if they are grasped.
LABOUR SINKS FURTHER TO 4% BUT SUPPORT EXAGGERATED IN PROCESSING???
RED C Poll June 12
FG 22% Sinn Féin 22% FF 18% Lab 4% Others 34%
Remember all agree (including Adrian Kavanagh) that Red C exaggerates Labour Support
If RED C has processed the raw data in the normal way, I believe that the actual number of respondents to the poll who said they would vote Labour in a general election could be as low a 20 respondents or 2%
Remember that the 12% “don’t Knows” mentioned in media does not include those who say they are unlikely to vote, normally 10% approx
As Labour got almost 20% in the last General election, typically 20% of the 10% who won’t vote are added to the raw Labour vote if RED C is using the Last General Election!
This is hardly realistic in current circumstances.
Labour could have got as much from this as it got positive votes! !
The Public should be given the “raw” data not what RED C regards as the “core vote”
Political Earthquake Rumbles On!
Millward BrownPoll and Election Results Are Compared Below
It is to be expected that parties such as Sinn Féin which surged forward during the actual election would surge further forward in polls for a period thereafter. The Sinn Féin increase to 26% up over 10% on the local election performance in the poll is truly remarkable. Equally expected is a continued downward trend for parties such as Fine Gael and Labour who did badly in the election. Though the Labour drop is within the margin of error, the actual figure is at the boundary of complete marginalisation. The local election outcome has damaged the credibility of the Labour party and credibility is a huge factor in politics. As I pointed out earlier, the Labour Party in Local government is not only 100 seats behind Sinn Féin, but has a seat less than the combined labour movement left on local authorities. (Lab 51 seats, Combined Left 52 seats)
The drop in FF, FG, Lab could also be partially explained by traditional party supporters voting for individuals(neighbours etc) despite their party banner in the local elections. The European election results, where the vast majority were not voting for local figures, are much nearer the poll figures. But the increase for SF in the Poll is still remarkable in comparison to its higher the European election figure (19.5).
Sinn Fein voters were explicitly voting for the Sinn Fein Party in both elections and are assumed to be continuing to do so in poll. Transfers rates between Sinn féin candidates in the same local authority electoral area were much higher than transfers between candidates of the same traditional party.
Local elections% May 23 Actual
FF 25.3 Fg 24 SF 15.2 Lab 7.2 Others 28.3
Millward Brown Poll% June 7
FF 20 FG 20 SF 26 Lab 5 Others 29
European Election % May 23
FG 22.3 FG 22.3 SF 19.5 Lab 5.3 Others 30.6
“Dont Knows” have not yet become available in THE MILLWARD BROWN POLL
Wed June 4
Labour Party now in a Minority among Labour Movement Co Councillors
totals Labour Party 51 Non LP –Labour Movement 52
(there may be other independent councillors who regard themselves as part of Labour Movement)
Aligned Non-LP Left elected
Prople before Profit 14
Workers Party 1
Joan Collins TD 1
T Pringle TD 2
J Halligan TD 2
Catherine Murphy TD 3
Finian McGrath TD 1
Gannon “Gregory” IND 1
Non Aligned Left Elected
Kieran Perry Dublin 1
Eilish Ryan Dublin 1
Brendan Young(Kildare) 1
Joanne Pender(Kildare) 1
Lorna Nolan Ex SP Fingal 1
J Synnott Fingal 1
Paul Mulville Fingal 1
Declan Bree (Sligo) 1
John Gilligan (limerick) 1
Ml Kilcoyne Siptu Mayo 1
Paul Hand Dublin City 1
Catherine Connolly Galway 1
EX-Labour Party Independents Elected
Tom Fortune (Wicklow) 1
Cian O Callaghan Dublin City 1
Dermot Looney Dublin 1
Paddy Bourke Dublin city 1
Total Non-Labour Lefts 52
Explicitly Opposed to Coalition with FF/FG in principle 31+
Labour Losses 2014 Local elections—- New Geographical Distribution of Labour Seats
Labour Lost 81 County Council seats
Retained 51 County Council Seats
of which 23 in Dublin (Dl-Rathdown, Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin)
(Co louth)Drogheda 2 Co Kidare 5 Co Meath 0 Co Wicklow 0
Total in Dublin and Dublin Commuter Belt 30
Rest of Ireland 21
Co Council Elections leave Labour with 51 elected Representatives
NO labour Councillor elected : Cork City, Clare, Meath, Wicklow, Co Galway, Sligo, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, Offally, Roscommon,
One Labour Councillor Elected:
Tipperary, Waterford, Donegal, Laois.
Total Labour Co councillors in Munster 9
Total Labour TDs in Munster 9
Monday May 27
56% of Dublin electorate did not vote in Euro Election!
Sum of votes for traditional parties FG+FF+Lab is 35% of VOTERS!
But the earthquake in the actual election is greater than in polls! ! !
Only 15% of ELECTORATE voted for FF+ FG + Lab
The polls published before the election indicated that 30% of the ELECTORATE would vote for them.
There may well have been a significant abstention by voters for traditional parties in addition to the defections
Tuesday May 20
Earthquake Confirmed Nationwide-Tremor a little less outside of Dublin
Labour Wipe-out much Greater outside of Dublin
National Tremor a little less than in Dublin!!!
IPSOS/MRBI National Local Election Poll May 20 Irish Times
Base 1500 Error= +or – 2.6%
Including Dont Knows (30%)
FG FF SF Lab Others dont Know
16 16 13 5 20 30
FG+ FG+LAB= 37
Excluding Don’t Know
FG FF SF Lab Others
23 23 19 7 28
FF+ FG+ Lab = 53
The other big feature is confirmation of the Labour “wipe-out”
While regional figures are not yet available this often approximates to 10% in Dublin and 5% outside
The quota in a 9 or 10 seat ward is about 10%. Even in the bigger wards outside of Dublin, they will get very few seats.
SF should get two in the bigger wards and one in almost every other ward.
Many “others” will be elected despite their lack of political coherence
Monday May 19
Mainstream media is now taking up earthquake theme– — –
For the EU Election in the Dublin Region, I have now combined Millward Brown, Behaviour and Attitudes and IPSOS MRBI Poll in Irish Times to-day
The combination of three polls confirms the earthquake!
BASE 1500 Error +or- 2.6% 3 seats Quota 25%
Including Don’t Knows FF+FG+Lab =455= 30%
Excluding Don’t Knows FF+Fg+lab= 455= 40%
Excluding Don’t Knows
Voted 1125=75% Don’t Know 375= 25%
Boylan 22% Hayes 20% Fitzpatrick 12% Childers 11% Ryan 9%
Costelloe 9% Smith 8% Murphy 7% Others 2%
Boylan and Hayes are certainties.
Technically any of the others named could take the third seat. Despite the reduced error on the 1500 sample, they are very close together. If you subtract 2.6% from Fitzpatrick and add 2.6% to Murphy, the outcome is the same figure!
Second Preferences given by repondents are informative and indicative but very unreliable due to very small samples for each candidate. In practice the outcome is so finely balanced that factors such as location(eg Northside/Southside) and order of elimination could have a big influence..
The rates of actual transfer in the election between Smith and Murphy will be heavily dependent on how many, if any, Boylan needs to reach the quota. If Boylan is already elected it gives Smith/Murphy some chance.
My gut instinct is that Fitzpatrick and Costelloe will not make it because transferring to them requires a big political leap from the rest and from each other. Caution:I may be biassed!
I hope either Bríd or Paul makes it.
But if I were betting and in need of money, I would back Chlders. It is relatively easy for the rest to transfer to her.
The political earthquake is on track- – -
Sunday May 18, 2014
I have properly combined the B&A and Millword Brown Polls for the Dublin Region (not just by averaging the stated outcomes) which seek to predict the outcome of the election to be held next Friday.
The total offering a vote was 775 Dont Know 225
Probable Error is now down to +or- 3% as the combined sample is about 1000
REJECTION OF MAIN PARTIES
Including Don’t Know FF+Fg+Lab= 31%
Excluding Don’t Know FF+FG+Lab= 39%
Almost 70% of respondents when asked their voting intention DID NOT indicate for Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Labour!
This would have been inconceivable a short few years ago
Combined Outcome for Candidates excluding Dont Knows
Boylan 21% Hayes 19% Childers 12% Fitzpatrick 11% Costelloe 9% Ryan 9%
Smith 8% Murphy 8%
In Dublin (3 seats only) the quota is 25%
Clearly the socialist vote(Murphy,Smith) has improved due to campaigning(well done, keep it up!)
In one of the polls Costelloe (Labour) was down to 7% below both Brid Smith and Paul Murphy. At 9% in the Combined Polls Costelloe seems doomed. We can also take it that Labour has lost its seat in Dublin West and will do very badly in the local elections-even worse outside of Dublin where it depends on a more working class vote.
It will be difficult for Fianna Fáil to win a seat in Midlands Northwest. As Fianna Fail no longer constitutes a strong “cause” and the two candidates are widely seperated geographically, transfer rates will be very low. Failure of Fiann Fail to get a seat in the West of Ireland would surely herald an earthquake!!!
It is difficult to make sense of the Munster constituency as Brian Crowley is getting a very big non-Fianna Fáil vote. His surplus will scatter widely.
On the basis of all the polls it now seems probable that the outcome will be:
FG 4, SF 3,FF 1, Lab 0, Others 3
Note the tendency towards polarisation of political allegiances to the left and to the right which is common during prolonged economic and political crises.
Statement Seamus Healy TD 087-2802199
Seamus Healy TD—Leaders Questions Thursday April 10 Listen Live http://wp.me/p1Uvd5-B0
Minister Brendan Howlin , Labour, holds the second most senior economic ministry.
At leaders questions, Seamus Healy TD took the Labour Party to task for bringing in regressive Budgets which hit the poor harder than the rich (See ESRI Report on recent budgets http://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/QEC2013Win_SA_Callan.pdf)
The 2014 budget was more unfair to the poor than the FF/Green budgets. He sought the restoration of the respite grant for carers, cuts in home heating allowances and child benefit. He called for increased taxes on the 10,000 who earn on average 595,000 per year each (Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan in reply to a parliamentary question on Oct 3, 2012). Deputy Healy pointed out that the total gross financial assets of households (324 Billion) are now back above the peak 2006 level (Table 3 Institutional Sector Accounts Central Statistics Office 2013)
The bulk of these assets are held by the top 10% of the population (all those with mortgages and/or credit card debt have negative financial assets- houses, farms and business premises are not financial assets). Deputy Healy sought that a wealth tax be placed on very large financial assets of the super-rich.
The arrogant response of Minister Howlin (standing in for Eamonn Gilmore) was to describe the question as “drivel” and to accuse Deputy Healy of proposing “fantasy taxes” He suggested that an increase in income tax on those on 595,000 would not yield significant revenue (Conservative friends of the rich have been making this argument for centuries) . He claimed that the local property tax which leaves the financial assets of the wealthy untouched and applies to the unemployed was an adequate response.
Any reasonably numerate person can calculate that an extra tax on the total of 5.95 Billion earned each year by the top 10,000 income recipients and on the 324 billion in financial assets would bring significant extra revenue to the state. Howlin and the Labour Party do not want to listen. They attack the poor and those on middle incomes instead. That is why the Labour Party is heading for wipe-out and oblivion.
Seamus Healy TD
Irish Examiner Friday April 11 Juno McEnroe
Independent TD Seamus Healy yesterday called on the Government to introduce an asset or wealth tax in the next budget.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, Mr Healy pointed to ESRI findings that the last budget had the greatest impact on low-income groups.
Labour had reneged on election pledges in 2011 and cut payments for the vulnerable, including child benefit, he said.
“It made promises with full knowledge of the situation in 2011. The assets of the super rich are back above peak levels in 2006, according to the Central Statistics Office,” Mr Healy said.
He called on the Coalition to introduce a wealth tax on those who earn over €595,000 a year.
Brendan Howlin, the public expenditure minister, rejected his criticism and said the TD engaged in “fantasy” taxes.
All Mortgage Distress Cases Not “Solvable” Despite Assurance by Taoiseach At Leaders Questions
Thousands of people are in danger of losing their homes.
On Wednesday last, at Leaders Questions in The Dail, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that if people engaged with their lenders all mortgage distress cases were “solvable”. Seamus Healy Td, who raised the matter, was accused of scaremongering about people losing their homes.
But for the second day in a row, the Taoiseach has been shown to be completely wrong. The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) has to-day revealed that only a handful of mortgages have been restructured through the insolvency procedure over the 6 months since it came into effect. Seamus had pointed out to Enda Kenny several weeks ago that 30,000 householders would be unable to avail of the process because their incomes were below the minimum allowable expenses under the Insolvency Act. Now the advocacy groups for those in mortgage distress-Phoenix, New Beginnings, Flac and Irish Mortgage Holders Association- have confirmed that this is one of two major reasons that the system is failing. Many people have no money to give the bank. The second reason is that the bank has too much power under the act to veto settlements. So even if the householder has some money to pay the bank, most such householders cannot avail of it either. The system is not working.
Yesterday the Taoiseach told Seamus Healy that it was untrue to say that a house was being repossessed every day. Within two hours this was shown to be false at the sitting of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance. The Central Bank website showed that already almost two householders per day were losing their homes. This figure is to rise sharply as the number of repossession processes initiated in the second half of 2013 increased by a factor of six-from 565 to 33,000.
The government parties are trying to cover up the problem until after the local elections
Professor Ray Kinsella , Professor of Banking at UCD, has supported the view of Seamus Healy TD that the extent of repossessions of homes now in train constitutes a major crisis.
In his column in the Irish Examiner to-day Friday April 4, Professor Kinsella says:
“But there are also developments in the wider economy that impact on health, including mental health, that is left pushed to the outside of a policy calculus on UHI. A notable example is the exponential increase in housing repossession now under way and which will inevitably and inexorably impose the most severe levels of mental stress, and worse, on the health of tens of thousands of householders.
The Government knows this to be the case — the figures cited in the Dáil recently by Séamus Healy TD are truly shocking. TDs have repeatedly referred to the causes of this crisis and what needs to be done. Mainstream politics is in denial.”
A further raft of repossession cases will come before circuit court sittings in the coming week
The Economic and Social Research Institute infamously forecast a soft landing to the bubble! Now it is forecasting a growth rate of 3% for the Irish Economy next year. The Institute has many professors and highly qualified staff. When challenged, Professor John Fitzgerald replied: “I never claimed to be infallible”. That was, of course, the last thing of which he had been accused! How could this high powered Institute get it so wrong? It wasn’t just a few percentage points out in the growth rate.
It is understandable that forecasters linked to finance houses and even newspapers habitually paint a rosy picture. Their employers have a vested interest in rising share values and higher levels of business.
But why The ESRI? It has no direct financial interest in over-optimistic forecasting.
True, the right to academic freedom conferred by the Universities Act does not apply to ESRI Academic staff. But then with the exception of UCD Professor, Morgan Kelly, none of the business/economics faculties covered themselves in glory either!
The ESRI and the business faculties are committed to the survival of capitalism and to the notion that, if regulated properly, it can function in the interest of humanity. This predisposes these institutions to give favourable economic forecasts. To them it is unthinkable that the system itself is the cause of misery to billions and will inevitably collapse.
But there are special factors predisposing the ESRI to cheer-lead the capitalist government in power and to reinforce its message.
The governing board has the following composition according to the ESRI website: “ESRI Council members are elected at the Institute’s AGM for a three year term. They represent a cross-section of ESRI members: academia, civil services, state agencies, business and civil society. Council Members: Laurence Crowley, Chairman of ESRI, Chairman, Gaisce; Frances Ruane, Director of the Institute (ex officio);Vani Borooah, Professor of Applied Economics, University of Ulster; John Buckley, former Comptroller and Auditor General;Patrick Honohan, Governor, Central Bank of Ireland; Paul Johnson, Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies, London;Michael Kelly, former Chairman, Higher Education Authority;Philip Lane, Professor of International Macroeconomics, Trinity College Dublin;Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons;Padraig McManus, Chairman, Eircom; David Moloney, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform;Brid O’Brien, Head of Policy and Media, Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed ;Gerry O’Hanlon, former Director General, Central Statistics Office.
Is it possible to imagine a body more representative of the Irish elite or more linked to the government of the day?
Furthermore a practice has arisen under which any candidate for election to the council at the AGM of the Institute must be PRE-APPROVED by the existing council!!!!. In other words the council is self-perpetuating!!
Citizens are paying for this Institute through their taxes!
Clearly the Institute has no independence from the Irish establishment.
This arrangement must not continue.
There is an interesting discussion on the failure of economic forecasting generally on Michael Roberts Blog:
It is important to realise that the 9% attributed to Labour by RED C is not an increase on the 6% attributed to it on Oct 1 by Irish Times IPSOS/MRBI. This is because these polling companies process the raw data quite differently. Dr Adrian Kavanagh(NUI Maynooth) has pointed out that Labour is polling consistently higher in Red C polls. In previous messages, I have shown how Red C unduly elevates the Labour (and the FG) votes. This is basically because REd C allocates half the “DONT’T Knows” (after the c. 10% who are unlikely to vote are excluded) in the proportion achieved by the parties in the last general election as recalled by those polled! This cannot fail to advantage Labour and FG and to disadvantage FF , SF and Others. I believe that this process is unjustified in a rapidly changing and unprecedented political situation, The IPSOS/MRBI figure(6%) for Labour is the lowest since 1987. The RED C figure(9%) for Labour is the lowest for decades. According to Dr Kavanagh, based on essentially similar raw data in both polls, if IPSOS/MRBI forecast turns out to be correct in a general election, Labour will get between zero and four seats. If the REDC forecast turns out to be correct, Labour will get 9 seats In any event Labour will suffer huge losses in the local and European elections
RED C explains its treatment of raw data here:
Analysis by Dr Kavanagh, including allocation of seats by constituency in accordance with the poll, is available here: http://politicalreform.ie/2013/10/26/apres-la-guerre-constituency-level-analyses-of-post-budget-opinion-polls/
ESRI in Denial
The Irish Times (Jan 12) has given free rein to the ESRI to cover up its past. Above all, ESRI failed to give adequate warning of the danger to the Irish economy from the combination of excessive bank borrowing abroad and excessive lending both at home and abroad.
The level of denial by the ESRI itself and the extent of the protection from criticism it has enjoyed in the media has particular dangers for citizens. The dangers in the current austerity policy are sure to be understated by ESRI if radical change in the governance of the Institute does not take place.
ESRI director is given the facility of a personal opinion piece in the newspaper, to-day Jan 12. In addition, under the heading “Director says ESRI economy warnings ignored“ Paul Cullen of the Irish Times political staff wrote an article which contained no quotations from anybody other than the ESRI director. I had been interviewed for half an hour on telephone by Paul Cullen in advance of the publication of the article. The article begins: “SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS deliberately ignored warnings from the Economic and Social Research Institute about the dangers of an overheating economy, according to its director, Prof Frances Ruane. Prof Ruane yesterday defended the independence of the ESRI and the accuracy of its forecasting in the face of trenchant criticism last week by departing staff member Richard Tol.” In a third article, also by Paul Cullen, some criticism is carried including a criticism of the governance of the Institute by myself. This article says that the Institute circulated Morgan Kelly’s article (July 1997) predicting the “bust” without saying that the Institute had dissociated itself from it! As I explain below, the Institute was saying the opposite at the time.
What are the facts? The Irish economy was in mortal danger in Summer 2007. “Members of the Media should note that Professor Morgan Kelly is not a staff member of The ESRI. Whilst this Article has been accepted for publication by The ESRI, the views expressed are not the views of The ESRI”. This is the legend that accompanied the circulation by ESRI of the article by Morgan Kelly in July 2007 predicting the bursting of the property bubble and its consequences. There is no record in the article of the director being asked to explain this disclaimer.(The journalist had discussed this contention in my letter to all media with me)
But what was the ESRI itself saying at the same time in Summer 2007? In Spring 2006 the Institute had predicted a soft landing saying: “We add our voice to those expressing concern about the possibility of a bubble bursting. However, this does not imply that a sharp fall will occur. A soft landing is still the more likely outcome.” In its Quarterly Economic Commentary, Summer 2007, a “smooth transition” was predicted. “As the housing boom comes to an end, the economy must move resources to other areas of economic activity, such that the transition is as smooth as possible in terms of output and employment. We are optimistic that a smooth transition will occur and this is reflected in our forecasts for services and industry growth. However, if the current high rate of CPI inflation feeds into excessive wage demands, this could endanger a smooth transition. (Preamble to QEC, Summer 2007). And in its General Assessment, the same publication states : “With employment growth slowing, tax revenues growing more slowly than last year and early indicators of activity in house building pointing towards a slowdown, our task in producing forecasts has been to estimate whether the slowdown will be moderate or otherwise.For now, our belief is that the slowdown will indeed be moderate.”
The same publication pointed to dangers to their optimistic outcome. Was there any mention of excessive bank borrowing and lending? Not a word. The main danger was wage inflation according to ESRI. Government and employers cannot have been unhappy with that!
The contention in my letter to the media that the warnings were so understated as to be totally ineffective is more than justified. This is particularly so as the warnings were addenda to optimistic predictions at a time when the country was hurtling towards receivership.
Professor Richard Tol recently departed from the Economic and Social Reserch Institute. In an interview with Colm Keena (Irish Times Jan 2) he criticised the lack of academic freedom at the Institute. Read full article pasted below. As the role of the ESRI is to advise the government and the citizens on economic matters the statements made by Professor Tol should give rise to great concern. Yet ESRI had not seen fit to comment on these statements(Jan 2) until Sunday Jan 8. I believe that my letters to the media and my tweets played a role in eliciting the reply. The issue is covered in an article in Sunday Independent Jan 8 (Analysis, Daniel McConnell P8) and was discussed on Marian Finucane Show on Sunday Jan 8. Richard Toll, in the course of his interview with Daniel McConnell, stated “You work on the basis of professional integrity. In the ESRI you are not supposed to talk outside your area of expertise. That is perfectly acceptable. However, in the last two years or so there was quite strong pressure from the director to keep messages out of the media that are not politically acceptable or that might upset council members or funders.” A tweet by Richard Toll is also quoted:”It was funny to hear academics complain about distant threats to academic freedom. At the ESRI, we were muffled,” The ESRI has denied the allegations saying: “The allegations made by Richard Tol are wholly unsubstantiated.”The article from the Sunday Independent is pasted below.
In the course of the Marian Finucane Show distinguished Journalist, Sam Smyth said:”They say that if you live in Rome you shouldn’t fight with the Pope and there is a relationship between the state and the ESRI”. He seemed to be justifying the ESRI position. Of course, the lack of freedom for the ESRI and its researchers to criticise government policy is the core issue.
My letter(text below) to the editor on this matter was published in Irish Independent to-day, Jan 6
From Paddy Healy Convener of Campaign for Academic Freedom, 086-4183732
88 Griffith Court,
Academic Freedom and ESRI
“Members of the Media should note that Professor Morgan Kelly is not a staff member of The ESRI. Whilst this Article has been accepted for publication by The ESRI, the views expressed are not the views of The ESRI”. This is the legend that accompanied the circulation by ESRI of the article by Morgan Kelly in July 2007 predicting the bursting of the property bubble and its consequences. Professor Richard Tol ,who has recently left ESRI, is right when he says: “the institute did issue warnings about policy during the Ahern years, but did not do so loudly enough”.
In fact the warnings were so understated as to be totally ineffective.
The allegations of lack of independence and absence of academic freedom for researchers at ESRI by Richard Tol are a very serious matter for Irish citizens. The institute is largely funded by the state. Citizens are entitled to expect full and unbiased information in economic matters. The council of ESRI is a self-perpetuating establishment club. Candidates for election to the governing body must be pre-approved by a majority of the existing members of the council.
The remedy for this extremely unsatisfactory situation follows from the remark by Richard Tol “In a university you can say what you like if you behave responsibly. It’s not the same with the ESRI”. Clearly the ESRI should be subsumed into a university or other third level institute where academic freedom is either guaranteed by law or enshrined in contracts of employment.
Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Note from Paddy Healy
In 2005, as president of Teachers Union of Ireland, I was proposed for a vacancy on the Council of ESRI by Dublin Institute of Technology having been a member of the Governing Body and Academic Council of DIT for several years.
My nomination was declared invalid at the AGM as my candidacy was not “pre-approved” by the existing Council.
Economist criticises aspects of ESRI
Mon, Jan 02, 2012
ENERGY ECONOMIST Richard Tol, who has left the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) to take up the position of professor of economics with Sussex University, has criticised aspects of the public think-tank.
Prof Tol said the financial position of the institute affected the independence of the work it produced. He said people who worked there were discouraged from expressing personal opinions to journalists or on social media sites such as Twitter.
Efforts to contact representatives of the institute were unsuccessful.
Prof Tol spoke to The Irish Times yesterday after he had posted a number of comments on Twitter about his decision to leave the ESRI after five and a half years. “In a university you can say what you like if you behave responsibly. It’s not the same with the ESRI,” he said. “If you violate policy and upset people, you can get into trouble.”
He said the institute’s independence was compromised by the fact it got so much of its funding from government. He said this could manifest itself in the way the research it conducts is put into the public domain.
He was critical of the standard of information technology available at the institute.
In one of his tweets he said it was not a coincidence he was one of five senior research professors who had left over the past number of years. The institute has about 40 research assistants and about 10 research professors, he told The Irish Times. “So five in the last five years is significant.”
The ESRI was set up during the Lemass era to improve the quality of policy analysis available to the government.
Prof Tol said the institute did issue warnings about policy during the Ahern years, but did not do so loudly enough.
He said the institute did not have a banking expert even though during the bubble years banking was one of the economy’s largest sectors. “So the whole thing of the bank crisis caught the ESRI from left field.”
The international financial crisis, he said, was caused by factors that the whole of the international economics profession believed could not happen. “So you can’t blame the ESRI on that.”
When Ireland was joining the euro the institute had warned that fiscal policy would have to take account of the new situation, but Charlie McCreevy then became minister for finance “and went in the opposite direction to where we should be going”.
This was criticised by the institute but not loudly enough, he said. “The ESRI can make its voice heard, but it didn’t.”
Prof Tol said the view of many people in the institute now was on the financial threat to its survival – and personal relief that they had a job.
He said there were many positive aspects to working in the institute, not least the people he worked alongside and the fact he was able to engage in applied research.
A native of the Netherlands, he said he would be sad to leave Ireland, which he really loved. However, his wife was a civil engineer and they had two children.
“Ireland is facing 10 years of austerity. Leaving Ireland is the best thing you can do at the moment if you are responsible for a young family.”
© 2012 The Irish Times
Daniel McConnell: A fearless whistleblower or a disgruntled crank?
The ESRI and Richard Tol are at war since the economist’s bitter departure, writes Daniel McConnell
It was a most bizarre image. The lead story on the main evening news on RTE showed a scruffy, long-haired foreigner packing up his house to move to England.
This same man starkly warned that despite cuts of over €24bn in government spending since 2008 Ireland faces another decade of austerity.
But most controversially, Richard Tol, non-conformist voice and energy economist, also had some harsh words for his former employers and colleagues in the State’s economic think tank, the Economic Social and Research Institute (ESRI).
During that RTE interview, he called into question the organisation’s independence and condemned it for a lack of transparency.
However, online — his favoured medium — Tol went for the jugular.
Over a 48-hour period, the 42-year-old Dutch academic made a host of serious allegations into how the ESRI operates, about its transparency, its relationship with Government and how it is funded.
Today, the ESRI hits back very strongly at the various allegations made by Tol online and during an interview with this newspaper. It vehemently denies the failings alleged by Tol, rejecting his outlook almost entirely. “The allegations made by Richard Tol are wholly unsubstantiated.”
His criticisms of the ESRI on television were somewhat muted and restricted, no doubt by the station’s lawyers, and Tol himself is bemused that his departure was given so much prominence. “It is a slow news day if the lead story is the hairy guy packing a box,” he tweeted.
But it was on Twitter that Tol made the most serious allegations about the organisation.
He accused it of being a xenophobic and nepotistic body which is caught in a timewarp using antiquated technology. He also stated that he was the fifth senior person to leave the institute, implying cultural and endemic problems at the ESRI.
“It was funny to hear academics complain about distant threats to academic freedom. At the ESRI, we were muffled,” he tweeted.
“The wife said: The ESRI reflects all that is good and bad about Irish society. She is right,” he wrote a short time later.
For those left behind in the ESRI, Tol is a trouble-making crank who has sought to wash his dirty laundry in public.
For others, in a country which has a shameful record of treating whistleblowers poorly, Tol was a welcome dissenting voice holding up a mirror to reveal our flaws as well as our strengths.
In the wake of his outbursts online, the Sunday Independent spoke to Tol to try and see if he would elaborate on the serious allegations he made about the state’s economic think tank.
According to Tol, the ESRI has many faults and many positives. The faults, he says, are incredibly serious and strike to the core of its credibility. He calls into question its independence and its transparency.
“Transparency is most important and at the ESRI the models used for our analysis is not transparent at all. The way it is, you aren’t sure who contributed what to a particular paper; accessibility to information is not there. This is one of the most serious issues affecting the ESRI,” he said.
I ask him about independence and academic freedom.
Tol detailed his often fractious relationship with his superiors within the ESRI, and said that clear pressure was brought to bear on him and his fellow researchers by the director of the ESRI, Frances Ruane, to keep “politically unacceptable” messages suppressed.
“You work on the basis of professional integrity. In the ESRI you are not supposed to talk outside your area of expertise. That is perfectly acceptable. However, in the last two years or so there was quite strong pressure from the director to keep messages out of the media that are not politically acceptable or that might upset council members or funders.”
He said that he had fallen foul of Ruane’s instructions and was disciplined as a result.
“The ESRI is supposed to be an academic institution,
where you can speak on the basis of evidenced-based analysis. Disciplinary measures have been taken. Pressure came in the form of conversations, emails and letters. Such measures have been taken against me. I have had many conversations with the director, so my comments would not have come as any surprise to her,” he said.
In response, the ESRI said: “ESRI researchers are free to participate in public debate. There are no restrictions on ESRI staff members discussing their research in whatever forum they deem appropriate. Indeed, research staff members have participated in wide-ranging discussions in many media outlets.”
The Sunday Independent has obtained a copy of the institute’s protocols for publishing material, and researchers are subject to a host of detailed instructions in how to “disseminate” information to the public.
Researchers must run press releases by the director or her nominee before release, and opinion pieces for national publication in a newspaper must be cleared by a colleague, head of division or the director before being submitted. Researchers are permitted to upload material to certain websites like the Irisheconomy.ie without clearance from superiors if it is in their field of expertise.
“Staff at the ESRI know there is a policy about the relaying of information and are expected to adhere to that policy. If they don’t, disciplinary measures are utilised, and were in the case of Richard Tol,” the ESRI spokeswoman said.
Tol was also critical that websites such as Twitter and Facebook were blocked for staff by the ESRI, reflecting an attitude toward technology more suited to the 1990s.
Tol’s statements about xenophobia and nepotism are the most controversial.
He alleges that within the ESRI, those from Ireland were in someway treated above those from foreign countries, which impacted on people’s career prospects.
He said: “There was a hierarchy within there. It was native Irish first, then English, then European, then others. This impacted on how fast you got promoted.”
The ESRI has strongly refuted any suggestion of favouritism, saying it has staff from many nationalities currently employed there. It stated it has fully developed human resources policies and such a scenario just simply couldn’t occur.
Tol went further, alleging that racist complaints made by staff toward colleagues were “ignored” by the director and by the council of the ESRI.
“Some people made racist remarks toward their colleagues. Complaints about racism and such racist remarks were ignored by management and even the council of the ESRI. It shouldn’t happen. It wasn’t racism, say white versus black, but it was racist comments directed at colleagues. It is totally unacceptable. Just because it is more common in Ireland doesn’t make it right,” he said.
“With regard to Professor Tol’s comments on xenophobia and racism, similar allegations were made in the recent past by Professor Tol when they were fully investigated and found to be groundless,” an ESRI spokeswoman said.
She said the ESRI had an employment equality policy and a code of business conduct for employees in numerous areas, including racism. These policies are brought to the attention of all members of staff. Complaints are dealt with under the grievance policy and procedure agreed between management and staff.
On his allegation of nepotism, Tol said this related to the hiring of “friends or allies” by powerful people within the organisation, irrespective of their abilities.
“Some of the more powerful people seem to have the right to appoint their friends to positions. It was easy to spot when you looked at the publication records, who the more productive ones are.”
In response, the ESRI said: “There is no basis for his comments on nepotism. All new appointments at the ESRI are made on the basis of public advertisement. The ESRI uses fully open and transparent procedures for appointments and promotion of research staff to ensure that these are made on merit. Interview boards always include an outside expert to ensure the independence and transparency of the process. The recommendations of the interview board must be approved by the ESRI council.”
Opinion within Irish academia about Richard Tol’s departure to the University of Sussex is mixed, with some, like Colm McCarthy of this newspaper and UCD, describing him as a “big loss to ESRI”.
He wrote: “Best of luck Richard”.
Others were less kind. Stephen Kinsella, an economist at the University of Limerick who moderated a discussion on the influential Irisheconomy.ie website, said the opinions expressed were “very polarised.”
“Richard Tol had the ability to be dismissive and condescending of other people’s work, especially in the area of environmental economics,” wrote a contributor named Mr Rudgelift.
“Richard seems to have annoyed some and said some extreme things and I had to delete some of the more personal attacks on him. But from my point of view, I always regret the loss of such a contrarian voice,” added Kinsella.
Below is an unedited version of my letter published in Irish Times to-day Dec 28
Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Minister Rabitte (Irish Times letters Dec 27) seeks to contradict the piece by Fintan O’Toole on fuel poverty (Irish Times December 20)
The Labour- Fine Gael government has introduced two cuts in fuel allowances since coming to power. From September, the smokeless fuel allowance was abolished and the annual allowance of free units was reduced from 2400 to 1800. In Budget 2012, the heating period was reduced by 6 weeks. Fuel allowance is a means tested payment. Only the poor are entitled to this benefit.
The piece of research to which Minister Rabitte and Fintan O’Toole refer is“Fuel Poverty, Older People and Cold Weather: An all-island analysis”, (at http://www.publichealth.ie). It found that the excess winter death rate in the Republic for the winter of 2006/7 was 1,281. Of these, 1,216 were aged over-65. The majority died of cardiovascular and respiratory illness – cold-related conditions. The fuel allowance in the year in question was only fractionally less than that now available and fuel prices are now much higher.
During the new year, 2012, the hundredth anniversary of the proposal by Connolly and Larkin to the Irish TUC meeting in Clonmel that a Labour Party should be founded will occur. It is scarcely credible that a party which claims Connolly as founder should be cutting fuel allowances to the poor. This is all the more so as the Labour Party, just over a year ago when in opposition, introduced a private members motion in Dáil Éireann (October 12, 2010) calling on the government to increase fuel allowances!
Fintan O’Toole was right to refer to refer to “the unacceptable reality that current policies are making Ireland a cold house for basic decency.”
How Low can they GO?
In the recent Budget the period for which the poor and the old receive free gas and electricity units was reduced by six weeks. During the warmer summer months, Minister for “Social Protection”, Joan Burton(LabourParty Deputy Leader) announced cuts to the home benefits package for pensioners and social welfare beneficiaries. The allocations of electricity units and gas units so important for home heating were reduced by between 20% and 25% and the smokeless fuel allowance payable in Dublin was abolished. These are means tested payments which means that they are only paid to people at risk. AGE ACTION IRELAND has stated “Research on fuel poverty and older people by the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Institute of Public Health shows that during the winter of 2006/7 there were 1,281 excess winter deaths*. Of these, the vast majority were older people (1,216 were aged over-65).
The piece of research referred to by Age Action was publicly launched last week by Minister Rabitte (Labour Party) In Irish Times 20/12/2011, columnist Fintan O’Toole analyses Minister Rabitte’s launching address-Paddy Healy
RABITTE OUT IN THE COLD ON ELDERLY FUEL CUTS
Irish Times Tue, Dec 20, 2011
Pat Rabbitte is wrong that the fuel crisis is not as bad as reported. In fact, it is likely to be much worse, writes FINTAN O’TOOLE
OSCAR WILDE said he could resist everything except temptation. We, his compatriots, can imagine everything except reality. Collectively, we find it hard to believe what we see around us.
One of the things that’s easiest to spot in public spaces is old people sheltering from the cold. You see them in Ikea, sitting in the restaurant half the day over cheap cups of tea. You see them in shopping centres, where benches are being removed, not to stop teenagers from congregating, but to prevent the clusters of elderly heat-seekers. You see them in public libraries. You even see them on trains, riding up and down the lines with their free travel passes. And these, of course, are the luckier ones, the ones who are mobile and healthy enough to be able to get out of the house. But seeing is not believing.
Last week, there was a strange vignette of official incredulity. Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte launched a report by the Institute of Public Health on fuel poverty among the elderly. It is a very serious, scholarly piece of work, conducted on an all-island basis by a team of researchers from the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain, led by Prof Patrick Goodman of Dublin Institute of Technology.
One of its findings is that 51.1 per cent of older people surveyed said they “went without necessities such as food and clothing in order to pay for heat over the winter period”.
This is not a comfortable finding for a Minister in the week after a budget that has cut the fuel allowance period by six weeks. How did Pat Rabbitte deal with it? By claiming it did not exist. According to The Irish Times report of the launch, “he said the claim that half of older people were forgoing essentials to heat their home had been published in a press release but was not in the report. He added that no politician or social worker would believe that it was true.”
In fact, the finding appears twice in the report: on page 12 and on page 60. When this was pointed out to the Minister, he stood by his position that it could not be so, pointing out that the survey was “not a representative sample of older people”.
This is true, but probably not in the sense that Rabbitte meant. No one claims the survey is representative, in the sense that, for example, an opinion poll using weighted demographical sampling might be. Its aim is somewhat different: not to tick boxes, but to get a good sense of the actual experience of older people during last winter.
The sampling method, using bodies such as Age Action, Energy Action, the Rural Transport Network and Dublin City Council’s sheltered housing liaison officers to distribute the surveys, probably does distort the results somewhat. But – and here’s the real point – it distorts them by understating the problem. People who are isolated from networks and services were excluded. People who have problems with literacy or blindness couldn’t complete the written survey. Such people are more, not less, likely to suffer from deprivation.
There is a further factor at work: the “mustn’t grumble” ethic of the elderly. Older people don’t like to complain. In the same survey, 90 per cent of the respondents listed their health status as fair to very good, even though 75 per cent had a long-term illness. They are an almost comically stoical bunch.
One respondent with both Parkinson’s disease and arthritis gave her health status as “good” and explained that “as long as I am mobile and above ground I tend not to panic or bitch”.
How probable is it that these same people are wildly exaggerating when they say they sacrifice food or clothing for heat?
And yet, the official view from the Minister is that it simply could not be true that anything like half of older people are doing without other necessities in order to heat their homes. “No politician or social worker would believe that it was true.”
That no politician, moving from heated offices to heated cars, would believe it is understandable. But I’m not sure the incredulity would extend to anyone who works with Age Action, Friends of the Elderly, St Vincent de Paul or social services. The only sense in which it is not “true” is that its reality is impermissibly awkward.
This vignette is eloquent in its own way as an example of the cognitive dissonance of officialdom. Cognitive dissonance is the condition that affects people when their belief system comes into conflict with reality. They close the gap, not by altering their belief systems, but by redefining reality.
In this case, Pat Rabbitte’s belief system (social justice) is in radical conflict with most of what he’s doing in Government. So he’s redefining reality: it is simply not possible that the Government is cutting fuel allowances for people who are already suffering deprivation in order to stay warm.
Otherwise, he would have to face the unacceptable reality that current policies are making Ireland a cold house for basic decency.
© 2011 The Irish Times
As the Richer get Richer 17 Billion Must be Taken from Super-Rich to Avoid Austerity!
A statement from the Central Statistics Office on Wednesday last showed that the wealthiest top 20% had 5.5 times more income than the poorest 20% in 2010 and this has grown from 4.3 times in 2009. Net Financial Assets(shares etc) which are mainly the preserve of the rich have increase by 45 billion since 2008 and are now above pre-crash (2007) levels. These are facts issued by the state. The rich are,in fact,getting richer as the poor get poorer! ULA is demanding that, in the Budget, 10 billion be taken from the Assets of the top 5% of wealth holders, 5 billion be taken from the incomes of the top 5% of income earners and that measures be introduced to take 2 billion off tax exiles.
This will avoid further cuts and extra taxes on low and middle income people and can be used to reverse the imposition of the Universal Social Charge and cuts in social welfare, health and education and to allow for an ambitious state job creation programme
Explanatory Document on Taxation
10 Billion in Wealth Tax on the Top 5% of Wealth Holders, 5 Billion in Income Tax from Top 5% of Incomes, 2 Billion from Tax Exiles
Personal Assets Tax
There is currently no annually recurring tax on wealth or assets in Ireland. Such a tax was imposed by Minister for Finance Ritchie Ryan during the 1973-1977 Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government. It was subsequently abolished by the succeeding Fianna Fail Government. Assets taxes still exist in a number of countries including France, Norway, Switzerland and in a number of states of the USA. Many were abolished in other countries under the influence of neo-liberal Thatcher-Reagan economic ideology which has brought the world to the current economic crisis.
Recent statistics from the CSO show that in 2010 the financial assets of Irish people (not businesses) were as follows:
CSO Nov 2011 Personal Financial Assets (millions)
(Financial wealth below is made up of cash, shares, pension and insurance funds (net equity) and business assets/liabilities of self-employed/sole traders. Land, housing and non-financial personal property (e.g. yachts, art, etc.) are not included. Gross financial wealth refers to total financial assets; Net financial wealth refers to gross financial wealth minus liabilities -almost all liabilities refer to loans-CSO). (loans include mortgage loans and credit card debt-PH)
Total Financial Assets Total Financial liabilities Net Financial Assets
2007 310,711 199,036 111,675
2008 281,650 209,774 71,876
2009 304,885 206,620 98,264
2010 311,372 194,219 117,153
These figures show that net personal financial assets of have increased by 45 billion since the low point of 2008. Total and net financial assets are now above 2007 level, that is before the crash. The rich are Getting Richer while the Poor are Getting Poorer http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/releasespublications/documents/economy/2010/isanonfinfin2010.pdf
The net figure underestimates the assets of the wealthy as a far higher proportion of the liabilities including mortgage and credit card debt are held by those with no asset other than the principal private residence which is not included in the gross figure.
Recently (Nov 2011) Credit Suisse, the Swiss finance house, has published an analysis of wealth distribution in Ireland.
It shows that the top 1% of the Irish population hold 28.1% of all wealth and the top 5% hold 46.85 of all wealth.
Credit Suisse estimates that financial assets make up 47 percent of total assets (Table 2-4 on page 71 in Credit Suisse Global Assets Report). This means that there is €311 billion in financial assets and €351 billion in non-financial assets for a total of €662 billion (using latest CSO data). After financial liabilities of €194 billion, total net wealth is €468 billion.
As 28.1% of net wealth is held by the top 1%, they hold 131.5 billion of total net wealth.
As 46.85% of net wealth is held by the top 5%, they hold 219.3 billion of total net wealth
These are a significant underestimations as total liabilities of households which have been deducted lean proportionally most heavily on the less wealthy households.
The Revenue Commissioners have no data on the assets of specific individuals as assets tax was abolished over 30 years ago. Such a register should be established by law immediately so that there is complete transparency in relation to the ownership of wealth. The overall data above was deduced by the Central Statistics Office from other data.
ULA has set a target of collecting 10 billion per year in assets tax from the top 5% until the fiscal deficit is removed and 5 billion annually thereafter.
As these assets are not contingent on receipt of income or income changes, ULA proposes that the deadline for payment be March 1, 2012. This would facilitate early implementation of our job creation programme
The 10 billion in revenue from assets tax is available for purposes such as job creation, elimination of USC, restoration of cuts in welfare etc
It is a matter for government which has Department of Finance , Revenue Commissioners, Central Statistics Office etc at its disposal to devise legislation to reach the target revenue of 10 billion from the top 5 % and that, in particular that the homes , farms and pension funds of those outside the top 5% be exempt.
The measure proposed is a tax on personal assets only not on the assets of businesses
If the target revenue of 10 Billion is not reached by March 1, further measures should be introduced.
There was an increase in income inequality between 2009 and 2010 as shown by the quintile share ratio. The ratio showed that the average income of those in the highest income quintile was 5.5 times that of those in the lowest income quintile. The ratio was 4.3 one year earlier. CSO Press Release Nov 30,2011
There can be little doubt that the imposition of an assets tax would increase the yield from income tax. The contrast between large assets and low declared incomes in the non-PAYE sector would become clear.
The most recently published official statistics are for 2009
The top 5% of earners had a total income of 18 billion Euro in 2009 (22.6% of all income) and paid only 4.9 billion in income tax. If tax reliefs and capital allowances claimed are taken into account, their Gross Income, which is their actual income, is 19.8 billion. (Revenue Commissioners, Statistical Report, Table ISD1)
Deductions from that table, show the top 5% of units have 24% of all income and pay 46% of all income tax. Notwithstanding right wing propaganda, this is to be expected as they have a totally disproportionate share of discretionary income. The imposition of the USC and increased taxation of the lower paid will have significantly reduced the 46% figure in 2010. They only paid 25% of their own total income in tax in 2009
Tax reliefs which proportionally favour the rich are very high in Ireland at 20.2% of total tax revenue as against 8.5% in Germany, 5.1% in the Netherlands (OECD, Commission on Taxation)
Official figures show that those individuals as opposed to couples in receipt of incomes over 100,000 Euro only paid 31.4% of all income tax in 2008 (Irish Times Com Keena 20/3/2009). Figures for 2009 indicate little change in this regard.
Due to heavy impositions on those in receipt of low incomes in more recent budgets this percentage has probably decreased and 10,677 units (0.5% of earners) earned 6.01billion in 2009 or 7.33%% of all income. They paid c (Revenue Commissioners Statistical Report 2010) These very rich earned on average 563,000 Euro each. There is no significant change expected to these figures expected in 2010. It can reasonably be assumed that such people avail of considerable tax breaks and have the advice of tax experts. This 0.5% of earners paid 1.783 billion in income tax in 2009 leaving them with an “after-tax” income of 4.27 billion or 400,000Euro each.
ULA proposes that the minimum effective tax rate on this group be adjusted to yield an additional 2.5 billion to the exchequer leaving them with after-tax income of 1.77 billion or 166,000 Euro each.
The next 0.5% of income recipients(9,933) just below the top group had a gross income of c. 2.3 billion and paid c. 608 million in tax. ULA proposes to take a further 0.5 billion off this group leaving them with 1.2 billion Euro or 121,000Euro each in after tax income
The ULA target is to generate 3 billion Euro from the top 1% of income earners.
Because of massive tax reliefs enjoyed by high earners the use of minimum effective tax rates is a sure means of extracting additional tax from high earners.
This would require a scale of minimum effective tax rates on all income ramping upwards from the current level of 30% as incomes exceed thresholds of 100,000, 150,000, 200,000,250,000 etc. The minimum effective rates may have to be as high as respectively 35%, 40%, 45% , 50% and 60% for those earning above 300,000. The current minimum effective tax rate only applies to those with income of over 125,000 Euro claiming tax relief in excess of 80,000 Euro! This restriction should be abolished.
There must be no increase in the effective tax rates of those with gross incomes below 100,000 Euro
The total increase in revenue due to the preceding measures is 13 billion
Increased Taxation of Very High Incomes
High incomes are very lightly taxed in Ireland and the burden of income taxation on low and middle incomes was hugely increased by the imposition of the Universal Social Charge and by reduction of personal tax credits and thresholds.
There are approximately 88,500 income recipients (4.1% of taxpayers) with incomes between 100,000 and 200,00 euro and these are outside the top 1% of income recipients discussed above. They have a total income of 11.6 billion and paid 2.57 billion in tax in 2009. ULA proposes to increase the income tax yield from this group by 2 billion, through a combination of minimum effective tax rates on all income and higher marginal tax rates on income above 100,000Euro, leaving them with 7 Billion Euro, an average 79,600 Euro each in after tax income . While retaining this revenue target, adjustments of taxation will be necessary within this group in order not to penalise tax payers with an adult dependent or couples who are jointly assessed for tax.
The deployment of minimum effective tax rates is designed to combat the loss of revenue due to tax reliefs enjoyed by the rich. Relief on pension contributions to provide pensions capped at 50,000 per annum per adult should be continued.
The cumulative revenue total raised by the above measures is now 15 billion Euro
The Domicile Levy introduced in Budget 2011 to address the problem of tax exiles has generated a paltry 1.5 million in revenue and is clearly totally inadequate.
It is reasonable to expect that citizens of Ireland who have income generated in Ireland and/or assets held in Ireland should pay tax to the Irish state. The United States expects its citizens resident abroad to pay US income tax when their earnings abroad exceed a certain threshold. Failure to do so attracts public disapproval. Irish tax exiles, on the other hand, are fawned on by politicians. Denis O’Brien was invited by Eamonn Gilmore to the Farmleigh conference at the behest of Fine Gael. Michael Smurfit was appointed honorary consul to Monaco by Charles Haughey and furnished with a diplomatic passport. The Labour Party leader is continuing Mr Smurfit in office.
The ULA proposes that the principles underlying US practice be applied to wealthy individuals living abroad.
We call on the Government to introduce measures in Budget 2012 to require by Law that Irish citizens resident abroad for tax purposes pay to the Irish exchequer annual amounts of tax as follows:
1 Assets Tax: An assets tax of 10% on net global personal assets in excess of 2 million Euro less the assets tax paid to the state in which the Irish citizen is resident.
2 Income Tax: A minimum effective income tax rate of 50% on annual global income in excess of 200,000 Euro, less the income tax paid to the state in which the Irish citizen is resident.
3Current Domicile Levy of €200,000 introduced in Budget 2010 to be increased to 500,000Euro per year. This levy should apply to all Irish-domiciled individuals who are Irish citizens to ensure that wealthy Irish domiciled individuals make a contribution to the State during these times of economic and fiscal difficulty. The Levy will apply to wealthy Irish-domiciled individuals with Irish located capital greater than €2 million, worldwide income in excess of €1million and an Irish income tax liability less than €500,000. Persons liable to the Levy will have to pay it regardless of where they live or where they are tax resident.
It is impossible to predict the revenue which would be generated by the above measures. However the deadline for paying the assets tax, domicile levy and preliminary income tax should be set at March 1, 2011. If the income generated falls below a projected 2 billion for the year as a whole, further changes should be made to remedy the short fall
Other measures are also open to the Minister in his budget such as drastically reducing the number of days the “exile” can stay in Ireland while retaining residence abroad for tax purposes.
ULA has set a minimum initial target of 2 billion Euro in revenue from the above 3 measures
“Now that the recession has bitten hard and deep we have a scale of expenditure that is completely out of step with our ability to fund it. We do not have the means or revenue as a country to support our level of spending.”Burton Seanad, Nov 17
This is completely wrong. The truth is that the government has decided that the poor and middle income earners will bear the brunt of the fiscal adjustment (3.8m) . Net Financial assets(shares etc) of irish households increased by 45 billion over the last two years as private sector investment fell by 30 billion. The government should take 10 billion of the 45 billion in a wealth tax instead of spending cuts. The spending cuts will continue to destroy jobs (315,000 since 2007 and 3000 net fulltime jobs in the first 3 months of this government)
Dr Nat O’Connor, Director of TASC, the progressive research group last Thursday told a conference that the “Troika” had informed him that if money could be raised in alternative ways, they would have no problem with that.
So cuts in welfare are purely a Labour/Fine Gael decision
Contrary to claims that welfare in Ireland is high and a ‘disincentive’ to work, welfare payments in Ireland are among the lowest in the original EU fifteen states. A report by the EAPN from Sept 2009, based on figures for 2006 comparing social protection spending in the EU 15, found that while there was an average spend of 27% of GDP, Ireland came 13t out of 15 with 18.2%.
The net replacement rate, welfare compared to previous income was only 34.5% in Ireland, again the lowest in the EU 15. Social protection in Ireland is even below the average of the EU 27 which contains many countries much poorer tan Ireland
It is appalling that social welfare should top the cuts league according to the leaked German draft.
“The (leaked) EU documents appear to suggest that the savings will be achieved by welfare fraud elimination, cuts to other entitlements and a reduction in the number of people eligible for benefit payments.” (Journal.ie)
Earlier this month the Government stated its intentions:
They(GOV) stress that instead of “pursuing across-the-board reductions in primary social welfare rates”, the Government will take a “selective approach” to “reforming entitlements”, and state:
“The Department of Social Protection will build on their recent studies on working age payments, child income support and disability allowance with a view to producing, after consultation with stakeholders, a comprehensive programme of reforms that can help better target social support to those on lower incomes, and ensure that work pays for welfare recipients.” (Jounal.ie)
Already people with perfectly legitimate welfare claims are being cut off like flies through use of new arbitrary criteria and in a savage Scrooge operation heating support has being reduced to the poor and the old this Christmas leading to more unnecessary deaths this winter.
Now Burton wants to cut Child Benefit even to the needy. Brnardos has described this measure as “crossing moral boundaries”
How Low can she Go?
It may not be widely known that the proposed transfer of illness benefit payment to employers includes public sector employers and state companies- This means that these cuts will end up in hospital wards, schools and local authority services and on bin charges, electricity and gas bills.
This reduction in demand by people who spend all their money every week will lead to further job destruction by government as shops and small businesses continue to close
I would be not as neutral or “agnostic” as David Begg on the transfer of the first four weeks of sickness benefit to employers. There are serious concerns arising from Burtons Seanad Speech on Thursday night.
Firstly, many businesses including small shops, cafes and hairdressers have less than ten employees. To trade they must replace sick employees. Now they must pay benefit to the sick employee as well. Many are hanging on by their finger nails and will close, adding to the dole queues.
In relation to large profit-making Irish and multinational companies, my concern is not for such companies but for their employees. Trade unions are not permitted in these companies. Burton said in the Seanad that the transfer of the first 4 weeks sick leave to employers would enable employers to “manage absenteeism”. Does this mean that a sick cert from an employee’s GP will no longer guarantee payment of sickness benefit.?
Will people who have not fully recovered be forced to go back to work too soon?
There are also predatory employers in some parts of the public sector with whom the health of employees would not be safe.
I have no confidence that a Minister who has cut winter fuel allowances to the old will give first priority to the health of employees in the new legislation she will introduce to implement the changes.
Paddy Healy 087-4183732 email@example.com
NOV 18 2011
How Low can they GO?
During the warmer summer months, Minister for “Social Protection”, Joan Burton(LabourParty Deputy Leader) announced cuts to the home benefits package for pensioners and social welfare beneficiaries. The allocations of electricity units and gas units so important for home heating were reduced by between 20% and 25%. AGE ACTION IRELAND has stated “Research on fuel poverty and older people by the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Institute of Public Health — funded by CARDI and due to be published in the coming weeks — shows that during the winter of 2006/7 there were 1,281 excess winter deaths*. Of these, the vast majority were older people (1,216 were aged over-65). How many preventable deaths will take place this winter?
The latest figures from CSO show that the nett financial assets of Irish households increased by 27 billion euro in 2009 and gross financial assets have increased by a further 7 billion in 2010. Not a penny in tax on these assets has been imposed by the Labour government.
Homeless charities say demand for their services has increased by up to 40% in the current year. Yet HSE has just announced cuts to services to the homeless. Kathleen Lynch (Labour) is Minister for State at the Department of Health and children.
Please sign the Age Action Petition here http://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/FOyR76aN2J6UCXnG2
Paddy Healy 086-4183732
FROM AGE ACTION IRELAND
Sign petition to help protect vulnerable older people this winter
Wed, 26/10/2011 – 15:23
Age Action is urging the Government to reverse cuts to the free gas and electricity units for pensioners, amid growing concern at the severe hardship which the cuts will have for the most vulnerable of older people this winter.
Read Full Statement http://www.ageaction.ie/sign-petition-help-protect-vulnerable-older-people-winter
How Low Can They Go?
Hundreds of older people die each winter in Ireland because they cannot afford to keep themselves warm. Lives could be saved if the Government reversed its decision to cut their electricity and gas units.
I call on the Government to reverse the cuts to the free gas/electricity units available under the Household Benefits Package, given the increased hardship it will cause for older people on low incomes.
Click on Link Below to sign the petition
Homeless services to be cut by 10%
Irish Times Thu, Oct 27, 2011
HEALTH AUTHORITIES are cutting funding for homeless services in parts of the capital by up to 10 per cent over the coming winter months, despite growing pressure on services.
Service providers say the cuts will impact heavily on their ability to provide shelter and support to homeless people at a time when they are under strain.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) – one of the main funders of homeless services – told providers last week it is cutting between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of grants which were due to be paid between October and December of this year.
However, homeless charities say they have recorded increases in demand for services of between 20 and 40 per cent over the past year. Services say they are continuing to give out sleeping bags at night-time due to ongoing shortages of emergency beds.
Dublin Simon’s chief executive Sam McGuinness said: “With the harsh winter already upon us and demand for homeless accommodation stretching all service providers to the limit, it is unacceptable for the most vulnerable and destitute to suffer further HSE year-end panic cuts because of their spending excesses.”
Focus Ireland’s chief executive Joyce Loughnan said if deeper cuts were to be made at this late stage in the year, it would hit its ability to provide “vital lifeline services” to homeless people.
The funding cuts were confirmed this week by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive – a partnership run by the city’s four local authorities – which is in charge of organising homeless services in the capital.
The two main areas affected are Dublin south-west – which includes Tallaght, Clondalkin and Kildare – and Dublin south-central, which includes much of the inner city.
These areas are due to receive cuts of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, on top of cuts of 5 per cent earlier this year.
In a letter to one service provider dated October 13th, the HSE said: “It is recognised that maintaining services will require significant levels of change, flexibility and creativity.
“Therefore, you will need to make the savings to remain within the budget through value-for-money initiatives and other administrative efficiencies in order to achieve a break-even financial position by year’s end.”
In a statement, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive said the overall implication and impact of the cuts had been “fully considered” by the HSE.
It added there had not been a reduction in funding from the Department of the Environment, the other main source of public funding for homeless organisations.
In the meantime, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive has been working to secure longer-term beds for dozens of people in emergency accommodation to help alleviate pressure on services.
© 2011 The Irish Times
From Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Mandate Trade Union and Unite the Union have roundly condemned the Government proposals to cut the low pay of over 200,000 employees.
The proposals will give rise to reduction of JLC rates generally, elimination of Sunday premium, and allow employers to claim inability to pay.
Thousands face pay cuts after JLC reforms are published
From Daily News Digest of Unite The Union
“The government published its proposed reforms of the JLC structure yesterday. In a move which the Minister admits will lead to a ‘lowering of hiring costs’, the number of JLC’s will be reduced from 13 to six and there will be only one rate with two additional discretionary ones. The premium for Sunday pay will be swept away to be replaced on paper with guidelines for employers, and bosses will now be able to seek derogation through a new inability to pay clause. This is terrible news for all low paid workers and those whose wages will be set with reference to them, as well as for the economy which will now have less money, less tax and little prospect of anything other than increased unemployment.—-
UIONS NOT AT ONE OVER JLC REFORMS
UNITE sees the reforms of the JLC structure as a dark day for those on low pay and for all working people. That view is broadly shared in the Irish Times analysis but not fully across the union movement.”
“The trade union Unite said last night it would not rule out industrial action in protest at the Government’s planned measures. The plan was also strongly criticised by Mandate, the union representing retail workers.” Martin Wall Irish Times, July 29
But following the surrender of the Labour Party in Cabinet, SIPTU has described the proposals as “relatively positive” on RTE Television News, July 28 and has given the government plan “a cautious welcome” (Martin Wall, Irish Times July 29).
This is a dark day for Irelands biggest union which was built by Larkin and Connolly
The trade union affiliation of the new government appointees to the board of Solas (replacing Fás) will be of considerable interest
The extent of the attack on the low-paid can be gauged from the remarks by John Douglas, General Secretary , MANDATE, on Morning Ireland, to-day, July 29
“This is devastating for 200,000 workers- following increases in gas prices, mortgages, food prices, thousands will be driven over the edge- majority are women earning no more than 9.50 an hour trying to put food on table-this is not to create jobs but to lower pay and conditions-it won’t create a single extra job. When Margaret Thatcher dismantled the wage councils in England ,it did not create one extra job-the research shows this despite the ministers claims”
The EU-IMF deal commits the Irish Government to a “review of wage setting mechanisms”. There may have been additional secret assurances given by the previous government but the EU-IMF Deal does not specify any particular measure.
Bruton had made his proposals before the JLC system was struck down by the courts on constitutional grounds. The changes to pay rates, conditions of service and terms of reference in the proposals have nothing to do with the decision of the court. The proposals for these changes pre-date the courts decision. There are changes in procedures which are genuinely required in the light of the courts decision. In the wake of the court decision there are no legally enforceable Employment Regulation Orders (ERO) in existence in the state. The process of establishing new constitutional EROs will have to commence from scratch. This will take several months during which no legally binding EROs will exist.
If the Fine Gael/Labour Government were interested in protecting the 200,000 employees covered by the original EROs at the earliest possible date, they would have introduced the procedural measures contained in the proposals published yesterday before the Dail was adjourned for the summer one week ago or alternatively, they could have kept the Dail in session to deal with the matter.
Government “spin” to the effect that the measures were announced yesterday to protect workers in the light of the court decision is entirely false and misleading.
The way that the matter has been handled ensures that workers will remain unprotected by EROs for several months and when new EROs are produced their provisions will be far inferior for workers to the ones that have been struck down by the courts.
The Minister and the employer body IBEC continually argue that pay and conditions under EROs must be reduced in order to create jobs. There is no evidence for this. Indeed, the Duffy/Walsh Report to the Minister for Enterprise, Employment and Innovation concludes inter alia : “We have concluded that lowering the basic JLC rates to the level of the minimum wage rate is unlikely to have a substantial effect on employment.” and “ we conclude that it is not accurate to suggest that the body of primary employment rights legislation currently in force adequately covers matters dealt with by EROs and REAs.” According to the OECD, Ireland suffers from some of the highest levels of low‐pay. Over 21% of full‐time employees are ‘low‐paid, compared to a Eurozone average of 14.7% and EU Commission data shows that labour costs (include wages and employers’ contributions) in the Food & Accommodation sector in Ireland are 6% below the EU-15 average.
Despite the fact that the above information has been contained in several statements by trade unions and ULA TDs , Minister Bruton was allowed to repeatedly assert that the measures would to create jobs in interviews on Drivetime and RTE News without the contrary evidence being put to him. IBEC spokespeople have also been allowed on all media to claim that 40% of restaurants do not open on Sunday “due to the Sunday premium”. Of course many restaurants have always remained closed on Sunday because their trade depends on demand from locally employed people who do not work on Sundays. Restaurant closures, limited opening hours and increased Sunday closing is due to the reduction in demand caused by increased unemployment and income reductions due to recent budgets. The IBEC claim is a gross abuse of dubious statistics based on surveys of restaurant owners. “They would say that, wouldn’t they?”
The Minister asserts that new JLC rates will be lower. This is because the terms of reference for the wage setting process have been changed to the disadvantage of the worker side. “These include competitiveness factors, average hourly rates set in comparable sectors in Ireland’s main trading partners as well as employment and unemployment rates” Martin Wall, Irish Times,July 29. For example, the employer side will now be able to argue that pay rates should be lowered due to the extent of unemployment. This is a classic use of unemployment by employers to drive down wages. It has no justification except capitalist greed. It will now be supported by statutory terms of reference agreed by the Labour Party.
The Minister claims that these new lower rates will not affect existing workers who are protected by the terms of their current employment contracts. The minister knows well that existing employees can be pressurised in many ways to agree to reductions in existing pay rates if these are not legally binding. That is a major reason why legally binding JLC rates exist. Employers have many ways of discriminating in favour of new cheaper workers (eg allocation of overtime, denial of promotion, assignment to easier or more pleasant job etc). In addition, a new businesses paying lower rates will be able to undermine existing businesses paying higher rates. This is also the case in relation to the new provision of allowing businesses to claim inability to pay. An employer being undermined by competitors can then pressurise employees to accept the lower legal rate or face closure and unemployment. The original JLC system was designed to prevent this “race to the bottom” in competing businesses dependent on finite demand.
The new JLCs will be precluded from setting a Sunday premium. The suggestion that the provisions of The Working Time Act is an adequate replacement to protect workers is completely false. Under that Act the employer can simply give another day off instead. This effectively means that staff can be made to work at the flat rate. Sunday premium has been simply abolished.
The article below from Irish Independent July 27 (below) indicates that the Labour Party has agreed to Government attacks on the low-paid at the cabinet meeting held yesterday.
In a time-honoured and cowardly manner, the deal was done and announced while the Dail was not sitting and just before the ministers went on holiday. This will form a precedent for further attacks on the incomes of all employees. The 100 Euro tax on homes was also agreed at the cabinet meeting. Though net financial assets (exclusive of houses and land) increased by 27 billion Euro in 2009 and are expected to have increased by a similar amount in 2010, no tax whatever has been placed on these assets
Paddy Healy 086-4183732 firstname.lastname@example.org
Member National Steering Committee United Left Alliance
A fuller report from Irish Independent July 28 (below) on the Labour capitulation on Low Pay is carried below.
Not alone has the Labour Party agreed to the scrapping of the Sunday premium for low paid workers, it has also agreed to allow employers to claim inability to pay and ,if successful, to pay a lesser rate for normal working days. In circumstances in which demand is being continuously removed from the economy by government, this can only lead to continuous reduction in the direction of the minimum wage and the effective collapse of the system. Compliant employers will be progressively undermined by those paying a lower rate.
The scrapping of the Sunday premium will simply add to the profits of highly successful multi-national retail chains at the expense of their employees.
The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Labour Party in Clonmel by Larkin and Connolly in 1912 which will be held next year will be a in the nature of a wake.
The actions of the Labour Party are an insult to the memory of Larkin and Connolly. Larkin is rightly celebrated for his heroic battles on behalf of the low-paid. In addition, Connolly is celebrated for his heroic stand for Irish Independence and sovereignty. But the Labour Party is allowing internatonal financiers to suck the lifeblood out of Ireland and even allowing them to dictate cuts in low pay under the EU-IMF Deal. When it is considered that cuts in low pay will actually worsen the national finances by lowering the tax take, the capitulation of Gilmore on the JLC issue must be the most abject surrender of Irish sovereignty conceivable.
Paddy Healy 086-4183732
Member of National Steering Committee, United Left Alliance
By Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand
Irish Independent Wednesday July 27 2011
Low paid workers will be entitled to slightly more than the minimum wage working on a Sunday under a new deal to replace the existing system of setting wages.
New rules governing the wages in the catering, hotels, retail, grocery, contract cleaning and some other sectors were agreed by the Government yesterday.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton is understood to have struck a deal with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore on the contentious issue of the Joint Labour Committees (JLCs).
The Government agreed yesterday to draw up new laws to reform the area after the High Court ruled the wage setting agreements were unconstitutional.
Coalition sources said the current rates of Sunday premium pay will be done away with, but employees working on a Sunday will still be entitled to slightly more than the minimum wage — just not as much as they are currently paid.
However, what has yet to be determined is how much more than the minimum wage will be paid.
After attacking Mr Bruton on his proposals to reform the area, the Labour Party was said to be keen to get the legislation in place to provide protection to workers following the High Court case. A spokesperson for the Labour Party said the legislation was agreed on by the Cabinet.
Last night Mr Bruton said: “It will be a system that will protect workers, it will be robust but will introduce the reforms so that we can exploit the opportunities for employment.”
– Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand
Employers can claim an ‘inability to pay’ under wage reforms
By Fionnan Sheahan and Anne-Marie Walshe
Irish Independent, Thursday July 28 2011
Employers will be allowed to claim an inability to pay the rates agreed under the wage-setting system for low-paid staff, the Irish Independent has learned.
Sunday premium pay for those covered by the Joint Labour Committees (JLCs) will also be scrapped.
The controversial new rules governing the wages in the catering, hotels, retail, grocery, contract cleaning and some other sectors will be announced today.
Ahead of the publication, the Labour Party was accused last night of capitulating in an attack on the low paid.
Under the reforms to the JLCs, low-paid staff will be entitled to the same protection as other employees for working on a Sunday.
The existing Organisation of Working Time Act allows for staff to be compensated for working on Sunday through the negotiation of extra pay, an increased average wage across the week or a day off in lieu.
In reality, though, the scrapping of the Sunday premium payments will mean a pay cut for staff in those sectors who work on that day.
The number of JLC agreements is also widely expected to be reduced substantially.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton is understood to have struck a deal with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, granting some concessions from his original proposals.
After coming under attack from the Labour Party, Mr Bruton is believed to have got through the bulk of his proposals.
The minister’s hand was strengthened substantially by a High Court ruling that JLCs were unconstitutional and pressure from the IMF and EU to reform the area.
The new deal will have to be cleared with the troika lending Ireland the €85bn bailout.
The Government is also believed to have accepted the recommendation on the introduction of an inability-to-pay clause for employers.
The expert report on the area said there should be a “derogation on economic grounds” introduced, where the employer can claim it would damage the viability of the firm and cause job losses if they had to pay the rates agreed.
The United Left Alliance said the deal was done “in a time-honoured and cowardly manner”, announced while the Dail wasn’t sitting and just before ministers took holidays.
– Fionnan Sheahan and Anne-Marie Walshe
David Begg, General Secretary of ICTU, was on the board of the Central Bank for 14 years up to mid-2010.
Before he became governor of the Central Bank, Professor Honohan in Economic and Social Review (Summer 2009) said:“Irish banking system had been, in effect, on a life-support system since September 2008.—-.Complacency resulted in the banks fuelling the late stage of an obvious construction bubble with massive foreign borrowing, leaving them exposed to solvency and liquidity risks which in past times would have been inconceivable–At the end of 2003, net indebtedness of Irish banks to the rest of the world was just 10 per cent of GDP. By early 2008 that had jumped to over 60 per cent”
The borrowing of 50% of Gross Domestic Product over 5 years by the covered banks is precisely what the Central Bank is tasked to prevent-grossly irresponsible borrowing which threatens financial stability.
As a result countless thousands have lost their jobs and savage austerity has been visited on the population including pay and pension cuts.
David Begg owes an explanation to Irish trade unionists who pay dues to their trade unions who contribute to ICTU which pays the general secretaries wages as general secretary of ICTU.
In 2007 the Central Bank stress tested the covered banks just months before the crash. The Banks passed the tests.
The Directors of the bank were representative of the elite of Irish Society:
David Begg, Secretary General, ICTU. He was chair of its Audit and Risk Management Committee, which was tasked to advise on “risk management policies”
John Dunne was formerly Director General of IBEC
Dr Brian Hillery, former chairman of Independent News & Media
Dermot O’Brien was the Chief Economist with NCB Stockbrokers, having worked with them from 1987 – 2007
Tony Grimes is Director General of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority having spent most of his career with the Bank. Prior to that he worked in the ESRI and Davy Stockbrokers.
Jim Farrell has extensive experience of international banking. He has held senior positions with the National Treasury Management Agency
Gerard Danaher is a barrister, closely linked to Fianna Fail.
David Doyle (Then secretary general of the Department of Finance),
Mr Alan Gray, the Managing Partner of the Indecon Economic Consulting Group,
Patrick Neary was appointed to the position of Prudential Director of the Financial Regulator in 2003. His responsibilities included the protection of consumers’ deposits, funds and policies. He was previously Head of Securities and Exchanges Supervision and Deputy Head of Banking Supervision in the Central Bank, where he began his career in 1971. He is a fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (FCCA).
Deirdre Purcell former journalist and Actor. In 2003, Charlie McCreevy appointed Purcell to the Central Bank’s board. She was on its Audit and Risk Management Committee, which was tasked to advise on “risk management policies”
The Governor was John Hurley, former Sec general of Department of Finance, and career civil servant
The Central Bank Report (2007) contained the following statements :
“The Irish financial sector was, of course, impacted like all others by these global developments. Medium- to long-term funding was not as readily available on wholesale markets as had been the case. However, Irish banks have negligible exposure to the sub-prime sector and they remain relatively healthy by the standard measures of capital , profitability and asset quality. This has been
confirmed by the stress testing exercises we have carried out with the banks.”
- - – – – -
“Turning to the Bank’s own activities, a strong focus on financial market issues was the dominant feature in the second half of the year. The institutional arrangements we have in place, where the Central Bank and Financial Regulator operate within the one single organisational structure, enabled us to meet the challenges we faced.
(Central Bank Report 2007 –Governor John Hurley)
Financial Stability Report 2007 Bank of Ireland http://www.centralbank.ie/publications/documents/1.%20financial%20stability%20report%202007%20-%20part%201.pdf
All those who were members of the governing board of the Central Bank should explain how this occurred.
Trade unionists have a particular interest in hearing an explanation from the General Secretary of ICTU, David Begg who was a member of the Board and Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee of the Central Bank at the time.
As a result of the activities of privately owned banks supervised by the Central Bank, countless thousands have become unemployed, have been forced to emigrate,and have pay and pensions cut.
POLITICAL CRISIS IN IRELAND
The call by Phil Prendergast MEP for Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore’s resignation in the middle of an election campaign highlights the depth of the political crisis which exists in Ireland.(Phil Prendergast is a defector from WUA- mea culpa, I directed the bye-election campaign which launched her career). Voters are deserting traditional parties in droves.The national poll published in the Independent to-day(April 28,2014) also reinforces the nature of the situation.
People do not spontaneously move towards a theory or analysis or an “ism”. Typically, they discard political instruments which they have learned to be useless for them or are oppressing them. They then attempt to use any instrument which they think might relieve their plight in the near future. Their choice is informed by a whole range of factors from the fact that a particular party has never been tried before and not worked to the fact that the political party with which they agree most is not a credible vehicle to immediately relieve their plight and there may be many other factors.
It is the task of the those on the left left who seek a transition to socialism to organise the oppressed politically in a credible way and on a principled basis.In Ireland, people are now faced with the situation where the social democracy is oppressing them, the “communists” are virtually non existent and the “trotskyists” are obsessed with competing with each other. Indeed, the left is not fit for purpose. The prerequisite for remedying this situation is TO ADMIT THAT THE PROBLEM EXISTS.
This is not an academic matter. The disaster on the British left, populated by the same actors as in Ireland, has given rise to the situation in which the semi-fascist UKIP are heading the polls this morning!!! It is no accident that the Lucinda Creightons and the Michael McDowells are now pushing themselves forward.
All history shows that if the left fails to show a way forward, the road is opened to fascism as political crisis continues.
The drift to the right of the European social democratic parties(eg British Labour, German SPD, the continued competition among Trotskyists in Europe and the reorganisation of the former communists (eg French CP) into a fast-disappearing social democratic dead end is fraught with danger for the working class. There is an urgent need to recognise that there is a serious problem on the left so that we can set about remedying it. Those denying that there is a problem are plying with fire.
History also shows that tahe strength of the working class gives the left significant time to show a way forward. Hitler eventually came to power after the social democrats and the communists had failed dismally to show a decisive way forward several times and over several years. Let us begin now.
We had Blueshirts in the 30′s, we may see them again unless we act now!!