Archive for Reports on Ireland

Apple taxes: rotten to the core

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
30 August 2016

The EU commissioner for competition has found that the Irish state gave preferential treatment to Apple over other companies, so that Apple must now pay €13 billion in back tax, plus interest from 2003 to 2014.
This windfall tax should be put immediately into the National Pension Fund to guarantee future workers’ pensions.
Apple, which made a profit of €16 billion in 2011, paid tax at the rate of 0.05 per cent: that is, for every million in profits it paid €500 in tax. In 2014 it paid only a tenth of this, 0.005 per cent, or €50 per million in profits.
Apple was declaring the profits at its head office in the Irish state, a head office with no employees. There is simply no head office.
The Irish state has in effect been turned into a vehicle for tax avoidance and is now little more than a tax haven. Its economic and social policy has been shaped to meet the needs of global monopoly capital. Ireland’s recorded GDP increased to 26 per cent, largely as an indirect result of various “tax-efficient” schemes. Recent research has shown that the real corporation tax paid by American transnational corporations based in the Irish state is between 2.2 and 6.9 per cent.
While the Irish people have been forced into debt servitude, the Irish state, at the behest of the European Union, willingly took responsibility for the massive speculative banking debt incurred by both Irish and European banks and finance houses, which resulted in savage austerity. At the same time the Irish state and the Irish ruling class were securing sweetheart deals with transnational corporations.
The European Union is no friend to either the Irish or the European working class. The Irish elite are committed to the creation of a very precarious economic base, totally dependent on transnational monopoly capital, resulting in widespread precarious employment.

What should the reaction of Irish democrats be to the Brexit vote?

The Peoples Movement

June 26, 2016

What should the reaction of Irish democrats be to the Brexit vote? Having campaigned for such an outcome, the People’s Movement is in no doubt that the vote is an important blow against what is a reactionary and anti-democratic project.

Democrats in the Republic should now seek to win back Ireland’s independence by following Britain out of the EU and the euro zone. Leaving the EU is the only way in which Ireland can disentangle itself from the disastrous euro zone. Ireland does two-thirds of its foreign trade outside the nineteen-member euro zone (two-thirds of its exports and three-quarters of its imports).

It is essential that Ireland have a special deal governing its UK trade; but while it stays in the EU it is the Brussels Commission, not an independent Irish government, that decides the Republic’s trade arrangements.

Although the Government and opposition intervened shamelessly in the referendum campaign, the Government should immediately open a structured dialogue with London to help facilitate a smooth British withdrawal from the EU, especially in matters relating to NorthSouth relations. This should start immediately, even before the British government invokes article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

The Government needs to decide whether it serves Brussels or the Irish people, north and south, unionist and nationalist. So it must not allow itself to be drawn into any EU plans to punish Britain in order to deter other EU members from following its example. Talk of the imposition of “hard borders” must be immediately rejected.

Dublin and Belfast must adopt an agreed joint approach. Up to now the Dublin political establishment has always preferred to act as Irish satraps for EU rule rather than stand up for the interests of the Irish people. Perhaps the lesson of the referendum—that at the end of the day the people will have their revenge for political arrogance and opportunism—may, just may, force them to rethink this stance.

Probably the first stage in the process will be an amendment to Britain’s European Communities Act to prevent any new EU laws or court decisions applying in the UK. There will then be a special act of Parliament to continue in being all existing EU laws, court decisions, and international agreements, pending a gradual working out of which ones are worth keeping in the interests of British citizens and which ones are best got rid of.

Then there will be notification of Britain’s intention under article 50, so setting in train the two-year or longer period for concluding an agreement that is referred to in that article.

Irish democrats will need to carefully scrutinise all aspects of these stages to ensure that the interests of people in this country, north and south, are protected. Probably this should be done by a joint working group of the Oireachtas, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the British Parliament.

The prospect that membership of a developing European Union would help to bring the people in both parts of Ireland closer together politically was a significant element in securing the assent of the Republic’s citizens to joining the then EEC in the first place. This formed the core of official Ireland’s all-Ireland thinking.

But the fatal blind spot of that policy is that it never had the answer to the fundamental question as to why Northern nationalists or unionists should look favourably on a united Ireland when that would merely mean exchanging rule from London for rule from Berlin and Frankfurt. Official Ireland never had an answer to this question, nor perhaps did it ever really feel that it needed one.

On the other hand, the traditional aim of Irish democracy has not been a united Ireland but a united independent Ireland—or, to put it another way, an Ireland united in independence. After all, Ireland was united between 1801 and 1921 as part of the United Kingdom, but it had no independence. Uniting Ireland or encouraging a united Ireland through “evercloser union” would have had many similarities to that nineteenth-century Irish unity inside the United Kingdom.

The alternative that democrats offer Northern unionists and nationalists is a central role in running an independent Irish state—not subordination to a Franco-German economic fiefdom in which most laws and policies are decided in Brussels or Frankfurt.

Those who aspire to a united independent Ireland should be aware of the new terrain in the struggle for independence and national democracy that Brexit has opened up, and develop their policies and political struggles accordingly.

Another Europe is possible—another EU is not

The Communist Party of Ireland expresses its solidarity with and welcomes the decision of the British electorate, with working people having played a decisive factor to vote to leave the European Union. 
The decision of the people is a victory over Project Fear, unleashed by big business, global banks and financial institutions, with the EU and the ruling elite throughout the EU, including the Irish government, playing back-up. We congratulate those in the north-east of Ireland who had the opportunity to vote in the referendum and voted to leave. 
We call for a new referendum here in the Republic on continued membership, coupled with a halt to any further or deeper integration within the EU. We need to reassert national democracy and sovereignty. Also required is an end to the secret negotiations by the institutions of the EU and the United States regarding TTIP. 
The working people of Britain have sent a resounding message to London and Brussels, that they have had enough of the bullying, enough of permanent austerity, enough of putting the interests of big business above those of the people. This is also significant rejection of the straitjacket economics of the EU. The political and economic strategy of the EU is an affront to democracy and the ability of people to democratically decide their countries’ economic and social priorities and possible alternative direction. 
Throughout the EU, millions of workers will welcome this vote to leave, which may well mark the beginning of the end of the EU itself. Project Fear, masterminded by the EU, has been used to bully the Greek, Spanish, Italian, Cypriot and Irish people into accepting debt slavery, that there was no alternative but to bail out the banks and speculators over the rights of the people. But not only them: this strategy has been used against all working people right throughout the EU, using fear to impose the feeling that there is no alternative, using it to mask savage attacks on workers’ rights and conditions, and the further erosion of democracy and national sovereignty. 
The cycle of fear has now been broken. Working people need to take the opportunity now presented to assert their own demands throughout the EU, to assert themselves and build unity of action against these massive assaults. 
Now is the time for the mobilisation of working people to assert that there is a progressive left democratic alternative to the the plans and strategies being imposed big business through the institutions of the EU.

10 Reasons to #leave #brexit

1.   Northern Ireland  … Economy
The EU subsidies in the form of Regional Grants,  Structural Funds, Farm Payments and money for local ‘Peace Process’ activities  are, in fact, UK taxpayers’ money being recycled through Brussels.  The UK is a major net contributor to the EU Budget, so that local EU projects which people think Brussels is funding are really being paid for by UK taxpayers. Voting ‘Leave’ would in principle make possible increases, not reductions, in all such funding.
2.   Northern Ireland …The Peace Process
Claims that a ‘Leave’ vote would endanger the Northern Ireland peace process are wholly unfounded. This is part of ‘Project Fear’.  Remember 1999 and the threats of job losses and economic ruin if Britain did not abolish the pound sterling and adopt the euro?  Or 2011 when Germany’s Chancellor Merkel claimed that peace in Europe was under threat if the Banks were not bailed out to protect the euro-currency?
3.   The Anglo-Irish Common Travel Area
The long-established Anglo-Irish common travel area, which goes back to 1923, is  a matter exclusively for the British and Irish Governments and is not an EU matter.  Irish people will continue to move freely between the two islands and across the North-South border inside Ireland as they have always done.
4.   Social benefits and Wages
If people vote ‘Remain’ David Cameron’s recent EU agreement will be implemented, which means that new immigrants to the UK will have lower social benefits than those already there. It will be impossible under EU law to differentiate between Irish immigrants on the one hand and non-Irish ones on the other. So that new Irish immigrants to the UK must face cuts in social benefits too.
Under EU law  any of the 500 million people who are citizens of the EU can come and live and work in the UK if they wish. This leads to cheap labour, lower wages and reductions  in social standards. This is the main reason why so many employers, especially big ones, want to remain in the EU.
5.  National independence
Remaining in the EU means obeying EU laws made in Brussels by unelected bureaucrats without the ability of either Britain or Ireland to change a single one of them. These laws  and regulations serve the interest of EU-based Transnational Banks and Big Business and not the ordinary people of Britain or Ireland. Brussels can impose heavy fines on any State that disobeys. Is this “the unfettered control of Irish destinies” which the men and women of the 1916 Easter Rising aspired to in the Proclamation?  Is this democracy?  Irish people have a proud record of standing for the national independence of whatever country they are living in. That is why they should show solidarity with the British people by voting ‘Leave’ in the June referendum.
6.   Free Trade
Free trade does not require the supremacy of EU law. Free trade will continue between Ireland and the UK under all realistic ‘Leave’ scenarios, so there will be no customs posts on the North-South border within Ireland, no passport controls or anything like that. Such claims are simply scaremongering. If the ‘Remain’ side wins it means the job-destroying TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is inevitable. This was negotiated by the EU on behalf of its 28 Member States, with its dangerous Private Investor-State Dispute Settlement Tribunals –  instead of Britain independently negotiating its own trade treaties with the 170 States in the world that are outside the EU.
7. More money in one’s pocket
Over the past decade the UK paid over £150 billion to the EU budget – far more than it gets back. It sends £350 million to Brussels every week. This is about half the English schools budget and some ten times the Northern Ireland schools budget. If the vote is  ‘Remain’ it will make this payment permanent and people cannot change it. Why not put this money back in one’s pocket by voting ‘Leave’?
8. This is where the jobs are
Only 1/10th of the UK economy is involved in exports to the EIU. The other 9/10ths  are involved in domestic UK business and in exporting outside the EU.  This is where the jobs are – in the domestic economy, freed from job-destroying EU regulation, and in the export business, with Britain trading with the five continents and with the far-flung English-speaking world.  The EU is an inward-looking shrinking market mired in recession, with a disfunctional currency and hugh unemployment.  The EU is far more dependent on the UK economy than the UK is on it.  By taking back control from the EU Britain can become an economically booming Singapore of Europe.
9.  Hamstrung indefinitely or free?
Do you want to be part of a manifestly failing experiment in continent-wide federalization to be run by non-elected committees in Brussels?  Or to regain control over our fishing industry, tax, economic regulation, energy and food bills, migration, crime and civil liberties by voting ‘Leave’?   By voting ‘Remain’ you copperfasten control of your life and those of your children  for the indefinite future by an increasingly  German-dominated EU.  By voting ‘Leave’ you bring back control to the democratically-elected centuries-old British Parliament.  You regain the right to make your own laws, which Britain helped restore to the rest of Europe in two World Wars. In these circumstances voting ‘Leave’ is clearly the safer optiom.
10.  Human Rights Courts
Membership of the European Convention on Human Rights, which 55 European countries subscribe to, underpins various freedoms but has nothing to do with the European Union. The European Court of Human Rights is a separate body entirely from the EU’s Court of Justice, so that voting Leave will not affect the human rights protections of people in the UK and Ireland.

 

Anthony Coughlin

Why #Brexit?

The National Platform EU Research and Information Centre

24 Crawford Avenue
Dublin 9
Tel.: 01-8305792
Thursday 21 April 2016
 
Dear Sinn Fein Friends
                                    Lost Opportunities?
For Sinn Fein to embrace the European Union at its Ard Fheis on the very centenary weekend of the Easter Rising, behind a rhetoric of working to turn the EU into a ‘Social Europe’ – with Ireland’s 1% EU Council vote? –  and to commit itself to ‘campaigning vigorously against Brexit’ in the UK’s June referendum on the EU, is assuredly deeply ironical.
It would be so partly because Sinn Fein has opposed handing over Irish sovereignty to the EU in every EU referendum from that on the original EEC Accession Treaty in 1972, through those on the Single European Act 1987, the Maastricht Treaty 1992, the Amsterdam Treaty 1998, the Nice Treaty 2001 and 2002, the Lisbon Treaty 2008 and 2009, up to the Fiscal Stability Treaty of 2012 … And partly because the EU is in such a mess these days – and getting messier, with the euro-currency crisis, the migration crisis and the ‘Brexit’ crisis.

I make these points in this ‘open letter’ to you and your Sinn Fein colleagues as a lifelong Left Republican who was involved in setting up the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1967 and who took part in the 1968/9 Northern civil rights marches before ever Provisional Sinn Fein was established, and as someone who has had no party political involvement since my student days and who has supported the ‘peace process’ over the years.

By taking such a course, with seemingly minimal discussion among the party’s members, the Sinn Fein leadership, behind a screen of leftist rhetoric, would be moving decisively down the same road as the erstwhile ‘Stickies’, using similar slogans and demands as they did in their time, and abandoning the possibility of offering a genuinely alternative course for the Irish people on the principal issue of the day in our part of the world – the issue of national independence and democracy vis-a-vis the EU.
Sinn Fein would be throwing away two political opportunities by this development.
The only way to bring about a United Ireland over time is to win over a section of current Unionist opininion to that position, however long that may take, so as to bring about eventually a majority in the North for ending Partition.  For if the Unionists are Irish – as they are – that should in principle be possible.
If Sinn Fein supported ‘Brexit’ it would enable Republicans to side with such Unionists as the DUP against the mainstream policy of the British Government and Prime Minister David Cameron. The latter is being supported by the most reactionary forces in Europe and the USA, from Goldman Sachs* and Wall Street to the German and other EU Governments, the American Government, the Brussels Commission, and EU-based High Finance and Transnational Capital against those people on the Left, Right and Centre of British politics who want to get back the right to decide their own laws and international policies.
If Sinn Fein had adopted such a course it would open other opportunities for influencing hard-line Unionist opinion in a more progressive direction over time.
Instead Sinn Fein seems set on siding with the Goldman Sachses and Prime Minister Camerons of this world – something which Bobby Sands and his H-Block comrades would surely never have credited could happen!
I am well aware that for Sinn Fein to advocate ‘Brexit’ would be politically tricky in presentational terms, but it could be done.   Of course it would not be so tricky if the Sinn Fein leadership had carried out a sustained campaign of education in the party’s own ranks and amongst the wider Irish public on the reactionary and anti-democratic character of the EU over the years: building on its record of referendum opposition to the successive EU Treaties.  But the Sinn Fein leadership has not been telling people that.
For anyone who looks objectively at the facts, Irish membership of the EU/Eurozone is the very opposite of ‘the unfettered control of Irish destinies’, the genuinely independent Irish Republic, which the men and women of 1916 set out to establish a hundred years ago.
The second opportunity being thrown away by this policy volte-face on the part of the Sinn Fein leadership is the maintenance of a significant policy distinction between Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail.  For once Sinn Fein embraces the EU there is no objective basis for Irish voters to prefer Fianna Fail ‘Lite’ as against Fianna Fail ‘Heavy’.  By removing the one significant distinction between real political Republicanism on the one hand and  bogus Fianna Fail Republicanism on the other, Sinn Fein is copper-fastening objectively the revival of Fianna Fail.
That great Socialist Republican Peadar O’Donnell used often say that Republicanism was the most ‘left-wing’ thing in Ireland until the country had attained real national independence and unity.  By that he meant that any ‘leftist’ or radical-sounding talk that does not give priority to establishing real national independence is just so much codology, meant to deceive the gullible.
At the present time the EU’s euro-currency and migration crises are making the ‘national question’,  the issue of national independence and democracy, the big issue of politics right across the EU – including for former imperial countries like Britain, Germany and France which for generations caused national problems for others.
This is happening as these different nations discover the drawbacks of having their laws made for them by people they do not elect, and as citizens everywhere begin to react against how their mainstream politicians have allowed their Nation States to be hollowed out by means of successive EU Treaties – all of which Sinn Fein opposed over the years.
This is not a time when Sinn Fein should effectively abandon Republicanism behind a rhetoric of advocating a so-called ‘Social Europe’ and ‘leading the Left’.  It is not a time when sensible Republicans should abandon the one significant feature that had hitherto differentiated them from Fianna Fail and all the other parties in the Dail – namely criticism of and opposition to the EU/Eurozone – that being the one policy feature which objectively justifies Sinn Fein’s claim to be offering the Irish people a genuinely alternative course of national policy.
Of course one can pretend that talk about ‘leading the Left’, standing for ‘a Republic of Equals’ and advocacy of more radically redistributive tax and spend policies, provide a real policy alternative to the Irish people; but they do not.  Labour in opposition, Fianna Fail in opposition, the Social Democrats, the Anti-Austerity Alliance and the rest will all be doing the same thing in the coming period, with minor variations between them, while at the same time they support Irish membership of the EU/Eurozone and all that necessarily goes with that.
I send you three items below in support of the points made in this letter. The document ‘Tackling the EU Empire’, which gives the basic facts about the EU/Eurozone and what it is all about, has already been sent to you by letter post.
The first item below is ten points on why Irish people in Britain and the North should vote ‘Leave’ in June.The second is an article, originally published in Village Magazine, which shows how the EU, by  eroding national independence and democracy, is the very opposite of the independent Republic that the men and women of 1916 whom we commemorate on this centenary weekend set out to achieve.  And the third  is an article on what the EU/Eurozone policy of a genuine political Left rather than a bogus one should be.
That would be a Left in the James Connolly tradition which gives political primacy to achieving real national independence and unity as against the national sell-out policy of the Social Democrat and neo-Trotskyite parties of one kind or another, all of which embrace the EU and submit to its laws and rules while using Left-sounding slogans and rhetoric to cover their accommodation to it.
Syriza’s former Finance Minister Janis Varoufakis is currently a prime example of this as he campaigns alongside David Cameron, Goldman Sachs, the City of London and the most reactionary economic and political forces in the Western world against those British democrats on the political Left and Right who who seek to regain their national democracy and independence by supporting ‘Brexit’.
And is Sinn Fein now set to join the anti-democratic side?
Yours faithfully
Anthony Coughlan
Director
 
* On 22 January the Financial Times reported that Goldman Sachs on Wall Street was donating £500,000 towards the anti-Brexit campaign in Britain. This is the same Goldman Sachs as is behind the threatened Tyrrelstown evictions in Dublin.

Capitalism is bad for your health

By David Hugh Hartery

Taken from http://www.communistpartyofireland.ie/sv/07-health.html

Going hand in hand with a reduction in the stigma attached to mental illness is a growth in diagnoses. Some of this can be attributed to better health education, leading to fewer sick people going untreated; but with unprecedented numbers now receiving treatment, we have to ask, What part of modern society is making us ill?

This article does not aim to critique the practice of mental health treatment under capitalism—though Peadar O’Grady’s excellent “Stop making sense: Alienation and mental health” in Irish Marxist Review (no. 11, 2014) provides that analysis (and some of it is relied on here); instead it tries to explain why the capitalist system necessarily causes stresses—leading to mental illnesses—and how the very response to that phenomenon has been weaponised by capital.

Firstly, part of the reason for an increase in diagnoses is a definitional one. Increasingly, normal aspects of life under late capitalism are medicalised. Stress, anxiety and uncertainty are often foundational (even laudatory) aspects of the capitalist system, with the precariousness of workers’ contracts seen as a boon to bosses and working yourself to your stress limits seen as dedication, which will be rewarded.

In this way, it could be argued that the anxious, medicated, CBT-practising precarious worker is in fact the ideal citizen of late capitalism.

Marx’s assumption is that humanity is defined by how it labours: there is a drive to create new surpluses, new needs, new value. Alienation from labour, however, is obviously a precondition of capitalism, necessary for the extraction of surplus value.

However, such alienation has takes a psychic toll, with a survey by the British government showing that workers at lower rungs of professions exhibit higher levels of stress than their bosses. Similarly, the report of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for 2006 shows that workers who were given more autonomy showed less signs of mental illness. Alienation, then, is a scale, and when the degree of alienation increases we see more mental illness or distress, and when it wanes, workers should see mental and physical benefits.

However, such forces have existed since the advent of capitalism. What has led to the surge in mental illnesses in late capitalism? The tendency of the rate of profit to fall—and its effect on the balance between work and life—has a lot to do with this. In the modern neo-liberal order, work is increasingly precarious and highly specific: this is necessary to get the maximum productive value from each worker, as capitalists try to arrest this fall in profit. The advent of zero-hour contracts and an app-based service economy has provided a new way to circumvent hard-won employment protections and introduce a culture of scientific management through the back door.

Even the liberal paragon of employment, the tech start-up, inculcates a culture of absolute devotion through the provision of sleeping areas, free food, and on-site leisure facilities. Tech companies exploit the passion of computer enthusiasts to create a culture of competition—and long working hours. The increasing use of productivity micro-targets in all work-places also adds another stress factor to employment.

When combined with long commuting times, poor nutrition from convenience food and a highly sedentary life-style, this mix of stress and poor self-care is toxic to mental health. Sleep, long established as one of the primary factors in preserving our mental resilience, is also affected by these long, stressful days—with Silicon Valley investigating pills that would defer the need for rest, allowing capital to further colonise sleep. Coffee, however, is our current substitute.

In the face of these factors, these stressors, there is an understandable outbreak of mental illness.

The culture of individuality, so prominent in the economic sphere since the 1980s, is also the predominant mode of combating mental illness. It’s impossible for health to be conceptualised within the wider socio-economic framework when the “blame” for mental illness is individualised. We are told to “Please talk” or to watch the “little things” that will foster better mental health, but there is no talk of the systemic factors that lead to illness. The closest that practice will come to understanding how capital divorces us from our human nature is to talk of the importance of “occupation,” a term that practitioners strive to keep “apolitical” and often a synonym for busywork.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is perhaps the most egregious example of this. It works through teaching patients to think about their life differently, positing that through thinking more “factually” about events and behaviour we can learn to stop “negative automatic thoughts” and improve the quality of life.

CBT is cheap, short, and scalable, so it has become the poster-child for the neo-liberal health model. It does work for a lot of people—though, as the excellent article “Therapy wars: the revenge of Freud” by Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian (7 January 2016) explains, the success rates are dropping continuously; but it is a sticking-plaster for a social ill. The increasing use of programmed CBT artificial intelligences in many health services, or drop-in centres dispensing CBT worksheets without access to a practitioner, shows how the CBT practice is becoming increasingly cold and inhuman.

We cannot “fix” mental illness by socialising more, arbitrarily choosing to think differently, or making token life-style changes. This amounts to mere commodity consumption, something that can superficially fill the gaps in our human needs, but does not fix the underlying problems of alienation. Our position within the socio-economic system dictates whether we can meet our needs through satisfying work or whether we are left to seek fleeting relief through rituals of consumption.

When we look at the incidence of mental health among homeless people, the incarceration of vast swathes of “undesirables” in mental health asylums throughout Irish history, the tragedy of addiction and the prevalence of mental health issues among the working class, we can see that mental health is undeniably a class issue, and one that is getting worse.

Instead of celebrities enriching themselves through bourgeois calls for “awareness” we need to form a comprehensive, politically aware response to this crisis.

Vote for withdrawing from the European Union

Starry Plough

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland

1 March 2016

The Communist Party of Ireland expresses its solidarity with all progressive forces in Britain, and in particular with the Communist Party of Britain, in the forthcoming campaign for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. In particular we call on working people in the north-east of our country to vote for leaving the EU.

A vote to leave can be a vote for a different way forward, a vote against the deepening global militarisation of which the EU is one of the driving forces—not alone within the wider European continent but around the world.

A vote to leave would also call into question the southern Irish state’s continuing membership of the EU and reopen opportunities for working-class struggle on the national level.

We should not be distracted by the fact that very reactionary and chauvinist forces, nostalgic for the days of the British Empire, are also opposed to the European Union. We support the demand for withdrawal not on some narrow nationalist grounds but rather from a working-class internationalist position. There is a need to break the unity of the European monopolies, to break the unity of the European employers’ network of control, by dividing them, which can only weaken the whole. A withdrawal by Britain could well trigger a response from working people in other member-states to campaign also for withdrawal. It would break the fear that the EU has so successfully propagated, that outside the EU lies economic disaster.

The deal worked out between the British state and the EU institutions is a further attack on the rights of workers throughout Europe, especially migrant workers, the most vulnerable section of the working class.

The struggle against the European Union is essentially a struggle for democracy and sovereignty. It is an anti-imperialist struggle, one that some formerly anti-EU forces in the north-east of our country have walked away from, retreating into an idealised “critical engagement” with imperialism.

We reject the illusions being peddled in support of these arguments. They undermine the potential for bringing unity to our people on a progressive basis. It is wrong to present the idea that the EU is a potential bulwark against attacks on workers and environmental rights. These are false arguments. The EU and the treaties since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 have been for institutionalising austerity, consolidating the interests, influence and power of the big European monopolies specifically but also monopoly capitalism in general.

The attacks on workers in all Ireland will continue, inside or outside the European Union. Membership does not guarantee protection from attacks on workers’ rights and conditions—far from it: all the central institutions are above democratic control and are accountable to no-one, as designed by treaty.

The EU Central Bank, which is the central institution for imposing EU economic and monetary policy, is run by and for finance houses and big banks. The EU Commission is the guardian of conformity with the fiscal, political and military strategy of the EU. Attacks on workers, fiscal control and the primacy of the “market” above all else are hot-wired into the EU.

We do not accept that the EU is the source of, or has the potential for, progressive social and economic change, either at a transnational or the national level. EU laws, directives and institutions are designed to prevent and block change at the European and the national level. The Lisbon Treaty of 2009 consolidated the power and ideological influence of big business over the policies and the institutions of the EU. It enshrined the primacy of EU directives (i.e. laws) over national laws, in effect making illegal any progressive alternative economic or social policies. As far as the EU is concerned, there will be no way back to any serious democracy at the national level.

The anti-democratic nature of the EU and the absolute power of European big business over it will be further consolidated with the adoption of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The Communist Party of Ireland calls for the broadest coalition of progressive forces to campaign for British and also for Irish withdrawal from the European Union.

Time to step up the struggle for water

sv

The water movement, in all its manifestations and sometimes confusion, has been the biggest and most successful working class mobilisation in decades. This is in large part thanks to the thousands of activists all over Ireland. The movement is urban and rural. It has been an education process for everyone involved and opened many eyes to just how rotten the capitalist system and Irish State are. It is vital that momentum isnt lost just as the movement is on the very of victory. It is vital the movement remains on the street and the politics of the movement remains in the grassroots. If we allow, or pass to, elected representatives the political power this movement holds it will be a disaster for both the immediate goal but also the long term need to build on this great political class mobilisation.

Below is the editorial from the March issue of Socialist Voice available online at http://www.communistpartyofireland.ie/sv/index.html and is an important read for activists.

It is a matter of urgency for working people once again to mobilise, to get back on the streets to press home our demands for an end to water charges and, most importantly, for a constitutional amendment to enshrine the people’s ownership of water—not state ownership, because the state belongs to the rich and powerful.
Regardless of the negotiations now under way about the formation of a new government, which will only continue the policies of the previous two, we must not allow ourselves to bargain away all our hard work, the early-morning blocking of the installation of water meters, the local and national mass demonstrations.
Water activists urgently need to rally together to impose our agenda on the current political flux, and not allow them to impose their agenda on us. Fianna Fáil say they want to postpone charges for five years and to break up Irish Water; this is only a tactical matter for them in order to squeeze the momentum out of the mass mobilisation.
The establishment is mounting a counter-attack on those opposed to water charges. Its strategy is to play the long game and break the people’s resistance. Although the manner in which this valuable resource is managed is important, it is not the central question we face. What is central is the ownership of our water resources; our demand is therefore for a constitutional amendment. This is the only way to block privatisation. It becomes even more urgent when we realise that the TTIP and CETA, once enacted, could make this impossible.
We have to take advantage of the current political situation and use it to our advantage. Teachtaí Dála have been elected on the promise to end water charges and secure a constitutional amendment. They must be held to account. We cannot allow our struggle to be wasted on tactical manoeuvring for perceived political advantage, nor to be sidetracked by political sectarianism and petty point-scoring.
As the dust from the elections begins to settle, a number of things are becoming much clearer. Certainly the continued growth in the anti-establishment vote is to be welcomed, especially if we add to it the significant numbers of people who did not come out to vote at all because of their disillusionment with the politics presented to them.
All the main electoral parties and blocs, including those that stood on an anti-establishment platform, argued very much within the existing system. They allowed themselves to be corralled within the narrow ideological framework, some of them presenting their alternative economic and social policies with the boast that they had been fully costed by the Department of Finance! This implies that the Department of Finance and the state in general are neutral, above the cut and thrust of politics, above siding with any particular class interests. The reality is that the Department of Finance is the guardian of the interests of the economic system as a whole, that it takes direct orders from Brussels and Berlin.
A big effort now, especially before a new government emerges from the whisperings in Leinster House, can achieve not merely a moratorium on water charges but a major victory, consolidated with a constitutional amendment.

 

 

Latest ESRI economic forecast expects continued growth in 2016 and 2017

Taken from https://www.esri.ie/news/latest-esri-economic-forecast-expects-continued-growth-in-2016-and-2017/

◾GDP expected to grow at approximately 4.8 per cent in 2016

◾Initial forecasts for 2017 indicate that GDP will grow by 4.1 per cent

◾Unemployment is expected to fall below 9 per cent by the end of 2016 and under 8 per cent by the end of 2017

Today, 16 March 2016, the ESRI published its latest Quarterly Economic Commentary, predicting continued economic growth and declining unemployment in 2016 and 2017. Following growth of 7.8 per cent in 2015, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is forecast to grow by approximately 4.8 per cent in 2016 and 4.1 per cent in 2017.

The headline rate of unemployment is expected to fall to 8.7 per cent by the end of 2016 and below 7.5 per cent by the end of 2017.

GNP, which grew by 5 per cent in 2015, is expected to increase by 4.7 per cent in 2016 and 4.3 per cent in 2017.

Commenting on the report, QEC author David Duffy (ESRI) stated, “Despite a growing level of uncertainty in global economic conditions, growth in productivity and employment in Ireland suggests robust economic growth. The last two years have seen domestic sources of growth increase in relevance, a trend that seems likely to continue throughout 2016 and 2017.”

Co-editor Kieran McQuinn (ESRI) added, “Given the expected increases in personal consumption and investment in 2016, we expect the Irish economy to be quite near to its potential level by the end of 2016. In 2017, we feel that the economy will grow marginally stronger than its potential growth rate at 4 per cent.”

Tyrrelstown: only the latest episode in a growing crisis

Statement by Dublin District Committee, Communist Party of Ireland

14 March 2016

Tyrrelstown is just the small tip of a massive crisis in housing now building up beneath the façade of a system that is politically, economically and morally bankrupt and deeply anti-human.

Tyrrelstown is only the latest episode in a growing crisis, with thousands now facing homelessness on top of the already record numbers of homeless people and families, as well as the tens of thousands on local government housing lists.

Twinlite, the construction company that built the estate in Tyrrelstown and is now managing the 100+ rental houses, sold the houses in 2008 to a company called European Property Fund, which then rented them out. Rents are increasingly going beyond the capacity of many families, never mind single individuals. EPF’s loans linked to the development were purchased by Beltany Property Finance,  a Goldman Sachs vulture fund, for a reported €89 million.

This is a direct result of turning the basic human right and need for shelter into a source of vast profits for both private landlords and corporate property companies. These people are only interested in making a profit, and as big a profit as possible.

The crisis is a reflection of the deep immorality of a system that is based on turning fundamental human needs, such as shelter, medical treatment, and education, into a source of vast profits, regardless of the consequences.

There is no solution to the housing crisis if we continue to use the same tools that created the crisis in the first place. Leaving the provision of shelter to capitalist methods and capitalist thinking will only accentuate and prolong the crisis.

Public housing should not be sold off. Housing is a human right, and we need an emergency programme of house-building by the state to build high-quality houses for people and to take shelter out of the hands of greedy landlords.

This could create thousands of jobs, both in the construction and the maintenance of quality houses.