In the face of massive opposition to the water charges, the government have made several clumsy attempts to placate us, while their partners in the media seek to frighten us off the streets. The latest attempt, delivered by Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government in the Dáil on the 19th of November, is the plan to charge us €160 per year for our water and to give ‘eligible households’ a water conservation grant of €100.
Some International Students & Workers organised a solidarity gathering to stand up and speak out against the humiliating treatment of international students and workers required to register at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).
Many have seen the recent reports and photographs of students and workers queueing overnight at the GNIB in order to obtain required visa permissions to remain in the state. Under huge pressure from students, workers and allies the Department of Justice (DoJ) were forced to temporary alleviate the situation by placing more resources into processing claims, especially for re-entry visas.
The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) revealed yesterday that over the last 12 months alone they have seen 26 asylum seekers or women with travel restrictions who indicated they wanted an abortion but were unable to travel abroad. At least 5 of those women were forced to continue the pregnancy to term.
For too long people have allowed the state to continue to deny bodily autonomy because the trip to Britain for an abortion was a difficult and expensive option but one still available to many. What was ignored was that those unable to access such abortions were the most marginalised, those with little or no voice. As the IFPA revealed as well as Asylum Seekers this includes "women in poverty or on low income, young women, women with disabilities, women in State care, women experiencing domestic violence and women with travel restrictions”.
The revolt against the water charges is of a size and militancy that if we stay on the streets we will certainly win. But the revolt has also exposed in plain view the level of co-operation between media, politicians, big businessmen like Denis O’Brien and the gardaí. All have acted together to cajole, bully and suppress protest and then to lie and distort events.
Sometimes the media don't do a very good job of hiding their agenda. Wednesday's mass protest against water charges in Dublin city centre was a prime example. While anyone who was present could see that this was one of the biggest demonstrations in recent times, despite being on a workday afternoon in the middle of winter, the media tried to downplay the numbers.
While initially, the Garda press office said it wouldn't be releasing an estimate of the crowd numbers, within the hour, it backtracked, and said gave a number of 30,000 "plus". Of course, that is technically correct, the crowd did number over thirty thousand, but citing that figure insinuates that there might have been one or two thousand more, not the massive numbers that people who experienced the demo for themselves witnessed. It was as if they plucked a number out of the air.
DAF, an anarchist group in the Turkish state held a demonstration for the anarchist prisoner Nikos Romanos who is in hunger strike for 29 days in Greece and for our sisters and brothers who has been murdered while resisting in Greece, in Ferguson, in Mexico, in Kobanê.
Nikos is a 21-year-old who has been on hunger strike at a prison near Athens since Nov. 10 after authorities rejected his demand for educational leave. He had managed to win a place at Athens’ School of Business Administration. His father has told the Guardian “He is a fanatical lover of life. He wants to live But this is his 27th day without food and his condition is deteriorating. He is getting weaker.” On Saturday 6000 protesters clashed with police in Athens in the aftermath of occupations of municipal, university and union buildings
You'd think Enda Kenny had never seen a homeless person before. In the wake of the sad death of Jonathan Corrie, who was sleeping rough in the shadow of Dáil Éireann, Ireland's parliament, the Taoiseach went walk about in the city centre to meet Dublin's homeless. In an interview with the media, he said he was "taken aback" by what he saw.
Like Ebeneezer Scrooge, whisked around the capital by the ghost of Christmas present, he got a first hand view of the conditions that people without homes or hostel places have to endure. He saw the effects of addiction, the sleeping bags and the syringes, that dominate the lives of those who have been left at the margins. But, it's hard to believe that he didn't know this was happening; It's difficult to imagine, that after three and a half years in power, he has suddenly had a Scrooge like epiphany, and is going to pull out all the stops to transform the lives of the country's homeless people.
A few days ago the catholic bishops yet again dared to lecture people in Ireland with their statement against marriage equality. This morning Díobháil, a new Galway feminist group, has used Galway cathedral to speak out for and help the women trapped in unwanted pregnancies because of the bishops' role in another referendum, the 1983 anti choice referendum.
In the years since 1983 it emerged that the same bishops had conspired to hide priests who had raped children, not just on one or two but on many occasions. Despite that this same group of supposedly celibate men still continue to bother us with lectures opposing sexual freedom, bodily autonomy and even same sex relationships. The same bishops still have de facto control over most of our schools and many of our hospitals and community centres.