The eleventh issue of the Irish Anarchist Review goes to press in the middle of the biggest battle in the war against austerity in Ireland to date. Tens of thousands of people have taken part in mass demonstrations against the water charges, up and down the country thousands have taken part in acts of physical resistance against water meter installation and hundreds of thousands, at the very least, are getting ready to participate in a mass boycott of the charge. Furthermore, the level of political consciousness of the population has risen considerably over the last year, with a distinct anti-establishment atmosphere, and in some cases an anti-state atmosphere, developing.
Fridays shock closure of the iconic Clery’s department store in Dublin shows how the law is set up to favour capital and screw workers. Workers are being told there may be no additional redundancy or owed holiday payments as the company is in debt. But this is only the case because right before the closure the largest asset, the building itself, was separated off from the accumulated debts. This was almost certainly legal under our system but of such obvious dubious morality that the workers could expect massive popular support if they occupied the building on a permanent ongoing basis.
According to SIPTU unions organisers some of the workers are owned “four or five weeks’ wages” and the limited redundancy they will get will come not from the company but from the rest of us via the government’s insolvency and social insurance fund which pays out statutory redundancy when companies declare bankruptcy. In other words all those costs are to paid by us.
Government policy is creating a fresh property boom that is once more driving the most marginalised onto the streets and into insecure accommodation. The deliberate creation of housing scarcity has seen huge numbers being evicted by greedy landlords, normally making use of the rights stripping clause that allows them to claim they are intending to move a family member into the property. Right now in Dublin who doesn’t have friends being evicted under that clause?
The cause is rapidly increasing rents and a wish by some landlords to cash in on rising property prices by selling. Tenants have suddenly found themselves dumped into a market where housing if very scarce, further fuelling the bubble of rent rises. Many landlords are refusing to accept tenants dependent on rent allowance and this along with the rising prices have left many unable to find suitable affordable new accommodation.
A Judicial Review into the North's abortion law has begun today and is expected to last three days. The final decision of the case taken by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is not expected until the Autumn. Women's right to bodily autonomy must be vindicated without delay.
Currently in the North you can have an abortion if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, including risk of suicide, and if you are under 9 weeks gestation.
The next water charges march happens in Dublin June 20th. Here are 3 reasons why you should do your best to be on it.
1. Both the government and Irish Water are refusing to release figures about the number of people who have not paid the bills. The reason is clearly that so far this figure is very high - if it wasn’t they would be sure to have it plastered all over every newspaper front page. A large turnout for this demonstration is important so that isolated non-payers do not get a sense that non-payment is not flagging.
2. Meter installation blockades have continued all around the country but for four weeks one well known Dublin protester Steven Bennett has been held on remand in Cloverhill prison because he refused to accept stringent bail conditions that would have prevented him protesting. The government abandoned attempts to intimidate protesters with the court injunction after the jailing of the Edenmore 4 backfired and resulted in mass protests. It’s essential that they continue to understand that repression will lead to protest and that they can’t pick off people they view as uncontrollables.
Tomorrow on RTE at 9.30pm there will be a showing of a new documentary that will focus on British government collusion in the north. The documentary makers conducted interviews with many high profile members of British policing in the north from over the last three decades.
One such witness, a high ranking RUC officer, brought up the issue of paramilitary collusion personally with Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister at the time, but the RUC officers concerns were ignored.
The head of special branch at the time, Raymond White said he got message from the British Government on the use of agents in the dirty war, “carry on just don’t get caught”. There are also claims from a member of the loyalist gang that was responsible for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings that the intention of the bombings was to foment civil war in Ireland.
We might’ve voted for equality in large numbers when it came to the marriage referendum, but the likelihood that this will impact on the way the country is run or the lived realities for many appears unlikely. This week the Irish Government is once again having their knuckles wrapped by the UN in Geneva for failing to live up to the documents they sign around the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. The reality is that there has been the imposition of austerity measures on the sections of Irish society who can least afford it. The inevitable by-product is inequality, increasing poverty and deprivation. The message is simple, economy trumps all else and lip service is all that is all that is paid in terms of human rights or equality. Emily Logan – Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said as much, she said that ‘budgetary decisions had been made without any consideration of the State's human rights obligations.’ This is the reality that needs to be examined, especially in the aftermath of the sight of politicians kissing, smiling, hugging each other and slapping each other on the backs as champions of equality in Dublin Castle.
The vast sums of our money that the state gave to Denis O’Brien are hard to understand. None of us are ever likely to see one million, short of winning the lotto, never mind 336 million, the amount written-off when O’Brien acquired Siteserv Group, Topaz Group and Beacon Private Hospital.
But here is a comparison that helps put the real cost in context. It’s been reported this week that a number of rape crisis centres may have to close because of escalating cash difficulties. These are caused by the loss of €240,000 in core funding. The state funding body Tusla explicitly claimed that the cuts had to happen in order to to make the best use of limited resources.
The three debt write-offs the O’Brien companies got are the equivalent of 1,400 years worth of that core funding. If Catherine Murphy’s Dáil allegation about the preferential interest 1.25% rate he was given are correct then that cost us 30 millions a year, which is around 125 years core funding for every year the loan is not repaid in interest terms alone.
The Court of Appeal has reserved judgement on a legal challenge to the exclusion of women from N. Ireland from NHS abortion services.
Last May Mr Justice King ruled in the High Court that the residence-based exclusion was lawful, despite the fact that people living in the North pay the same amount of taxes as everyone else in the UK and should therefore be entitled to the same services. The case was brought forward by a woman known as A in order to protect her identity and her mother.
Three years ago, A, like many other women from the island of Ireland, had to raise the nearly £900 to avail of an abortion in England.
Today in the North of Ireland it will become illegal for people to pay for sex work.
In spite of protests by sex workers and their allies Stormont has ignored their voices.
Despite 98% of sex workers who were surveyed by the Department of Justice last year coming out against the bill, 81 MLAs (out of 108) voted in favour of it. This represents a complete contempt towards sex workers as they struggle for labour rights.
The new law is extremely irresponsible and it will do nothing to protect sex workers; it will only drive them further underground and put them in more danger. Banning the purchase of sex isn't going to stop it happening and it would be foolish to think so.