Neue Veranstaltungshinweise

Ireland / Britain

Es wurden keine neuen Veranstaltungshinweise in der letzten Woche veröffentlicht

Kommende Veranstaltungen

Ireland / Britain | Economy

Keine kommenden Veranstaltungen veröffentlicht

The Irish Struggle Against Austerity

category ireland / britain | economy | interview author Freitag Dezember 10, 2010 05:31author by Mike Harris - Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA)author email wsany at hotmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Interview with an Irish Anarchist

Interview with Kevin D. of the Cork Branch of the Workers Solidarity Movement.
Kevin answers questions about the current Irish financial melt-down and the ppopular resistance. [Castellano]

The Irish Struggle Against Austerity

Q: Thank you, Kevin, for doing this interview with the Workers Solidarity Alliance’s on-line journal “ideas & action”. Before we begin the interview, I must say, it almost seems like yesterday you out-migrated to NYC for a bit, and we were sitting face-to-face discussing anarchist politics and the world around us. All this, of course, before the “Celtic Tiger” started to roar. Must seem a bit odd, having been back in Ireland all these years to now see the growth in the out-migration movement again.

A: It is strange. The crash has happened very quickly and taken many people by surprise; the scale of it has been beyond what anyone expected.
To put things in perspective though. As many of your readers will know, emigration out of Ireland to places like the States has been a feature of Irish life going back generations. I first met you in New York back in the early 80s when Ireland was last in a harsh recession. So I remember that period well and I know that it was hard for many of us – there was a lot of unemployment here and of course with that came poverty and displacement.

The boom here, the so-called Celtic Tiger era, came against that background. Short lived though it was, it was welcomed by many people. Some imagined that as a country we had turned a corner and that we had banished the ills of mass unemployment and emigration for good. That was not the case – as we now know.

Here we are now, in 2010 and we have been plunged into a new and desperate economic period, one where the costs will, in large measure, be borne by the Irish working class – once again I might add. Unemployment has shot up. And employers are using the new climate to attack wages and conditions. It is a period of high insecurity for people once more.

Q: The Irish financial crisis seems to have come to a head recently. But it was a while in the making – is that so?

A: Yes. The roots of the problem go way back. Of course there is a specific Irish context to what is happening here right now. But it is worth noting also that what is happening in Ireland right now is linked to the generalised crash that broke over the world’s economy in 2008. The old cycle of ‘boom and bust’ is at play here – classic capitalism, I suppose.

Q: Can you please tell us how Ireland came crashing down from being the “Celtic Tiger” to its current situation. It seems like all the “right” social and economic ingredients have been in place for a long while (for example, a very low tax rate and a docile trade union movement which long ago bought into the “social partnership” concept)

A: A lot has been written about this. There are a number of aspects to the situation but I will try to be brief and as accurate as possible. I would recommend a particularly good article in the current issue of the Irish Anarchist Review by Gregor Kerr called ‘Bubbles, Booms and Bust’.1 It gives a lot more detail than I can here.

First off the Irish economy is a peculiar entity. Indigenous industry here has been historically weak – the legacy of British imperialism. Ireland’s economic elite in an effort to get around this attempted to reposition Ireland as a tax haven for multinationals in the latter quarter of the last century. Ireland adopted a very low ‘corporate tax’ rate for those who ‘invested’ here. Similarly, other inducements were offered – educated English speaking workforce and so on; lax environmental oversight also.

Ireland became a very ‘competitive’ location for capitalism from the mid 90s onwards and investment flowed in. ‘Competitive’ here of course is neo-liberal speak for a ‘low-tax location with a compliant workforce’. That was what Ireland was offering to the multinationals.

With this foreign investment, unemployment here decreased and with that, for the first time in a generation, the indigenous construction industry revived. Irish property values were low relative to our European neighbours and our hosing stock was also old. In effect a construction boom took hold in this environment. A key aspect of this was land speculation: massive money was made by ‘developers’ linked to Flanna Fáil party and others. It was a heyday for some and the industry swelled out of all proportion to requirements. To give your readers one figure: 750,000 housing units were built between 1995 and 2007.

The banking sector is at the centre of the current crash. In truth it is this sector that has driven the Irish economy to the wall. To understand why we need to appreciate that a few factors were at play. First of all the banking sector grew disproportionately during the boom as a result of the boom in property values and the building spurge. Some of this growth was legitimate, but most wasn’t.

As the building/ property boom took hold wild speculation on land and valuations became the order of the day. It seemed at one point that Ireland would be covered in housing and buildings! I’m exaggerating of course but it is true to say that there was frenzy. Massive money was being made by the greediest of elements in society – many of whom had the ear of the Government and main political parties.

Secondly there had been deregulation in the banking sector – this was government policy and facilitated a lot of shady dealings at the Irish Financial Centre in Dublin. As a result there was no serious oversight and caution was thrown to the wind in terms of the lending criteria. A particular important ‘player’ in all of this was a bank called Anglo-Irish Bank. This bank is credited with over €60 billion in bad debts now – and we still don’t know if that is the full extent of the losses at that one bank.

During the boom the adage (among the bankers) was ‘Where Anglo goes others follow.’ Anglo had close links to Ireland’s economic elite. It lent recklessly – in Ireland and more importantly abroad. Its CEO, Fingleton, is now widely acknowledged to be a crook – and that is being kind to him. He appears to have lent vast sums of money to those who were his friends. As Anglo-Irish began to sink he even lent a fortune to the directors of the bank to buy shares in the bank to shore up the bank’s share price!

All this was big trouble – very big trouble. But the Irish government then got involved and they made it a lot, lot worse. Anarchists have little respect for governments – well here is an example of why we don’t. Clearly a big element of stupidity was involved but, of course, it would be naive to not point out also that the Irish government was also looking after its friends in the Golden Circle.

Q: What is this – the Golden Circle?

A: Here in Ireland we call the moneyed elite, the Golden Circle. This is because the elite in Ireland are confined to a relatively small number of identifiable people. They all know each other personally and have close connections to the key decision makers in government. If a lucrative situation is developing they tell one another about it. They are people who creamed off the big profits in what went on here over the years.

Q: So what was it the Irish Government did that was so stupid?

A: When the crash occurred in the international markets in 2008, the Irish government ‘guaranteed’ all bank debts. The problem was the Government had no idea when it issued the guarantee how large the debts were in the Irish banking sector. Crucially it guaranteed the debts in Anglo Irish Bank.
Now two years on from that time, we are finally getting to the bottom of a very deep hole. It has transpired that the debts in the banking sector were significantly larger than expected. The debts at Anglo Irish Bank were astronomical.

The current Government has nonetheless stood by its ‘word’ and as a result the Irish State has been sucked into the banking
And there you have it: now we are being asked to pay for all of that!

Q: How would you compare, if possible, the Irish situation to the Greek? Are the EU “bailout” plans the same?

A: I cannot admit to knowing enough to offer you a detailed view but in broad terms they are similar. At the root of the problem is the need for the Irish and Greek government to borrow to meet current needs. These debts have exceeded the budgetary limits set by the European Union.

There are different reasons though for why Ireland and Greece have ended up in this place with this particular problem. In other words we arrived at this place by different routes. And of course as we speak, both Portugal and Spain are also facing trouble. So there is a broader problem as well.
What is most significant and illuminating though is that the medicine that Ireland and Greece are now being asked to swallow is almost identical. Surprise, surprise! In both countries it is the ‘public sector bill’ that has been targeted. What this means is that cuts are targeted at social services – welfare, education and hospitals. Cuts are proposed for workers in those eras and pension entitlements and job numbers are also being reduced. As your readers will know this agenda is the agenda of neo-liberalism.

Q: How is the generalized fight-back coming along against the proposed austerity measures?

A: In the aftermath of the crash in 2008 the Irish government led the pack of wolves when it came to imposing cuts on the population. ‘Tough times require tough medicine’ and all that rubbish was the order of the day.
Ordinary people were in shock though. Unemployment grew rapidly; the scale of the unfolding building bubble fiasco was emerging. Building work, a huge employer, collapsed. Many people found themselves in immediate debt as houses they had paid excessive prices for were down valued overnight. There were mobilisations in the public sector – among teachers and there was one day public sector strike. But overall people were reeling and they accepted what they were told.

In the last year though the true scale of corruption among the elite has come to light. In particular the massive corruption and back-slapping in the banking sector has been exposed. The Anglo-Irish debts have got bigger with each passing week. Many of those responsible for outright thievery are still in their jobs! In the meantime, the Government has had one message: you, the ordinary worker, must bear more pain.

We have just had a march of 100,000 workers in Dublin. It was organised by the ICTU and was a very positive showing. I am not exaggerating to say that there is massive anger. The IMF and the ECB – the EU’s bank – have now signed the ‘bailout deal’ with the disgraced government. A budget outlining exactly what cuts will take place is imminent. The question is what is going to happen.

Q: What is your impression? Is there a “unified” trade union and left mobilization on-going?

A: There are signs of mobilisation and of some grassroots organising. I stress, some. But I think we need to be hopeful here because any sign of organising at a grass roots level is crucial and very healthy. As your readers will appreciate, the Irish trade unions are very top-down structures. Rank and file participation dwindled during the ‘partnership’ era which spanned from the late 80s until today. ‘Partnership’ gave a big role to union full-time officials – the union leadership I suppose you could call them – and in effect led to rank file involvement ending. But to take an example: at the march just mentioned in Dublin, the head of the largest union, Jack O’Connor was booed when he spoke. There is anger among workers that the unions are not doing enough. The old story, the union leaders talk the talk but that is all – they are sheep in wolves clothing.

So officially the trade union movement is opposed to what is happening. But the leadership is scared of any big mobilisation and not being able to control it. Also the leadership has no real plan. All they have called for so far is ‘a longer period’ of payback to the international banks. In other words: ‘we will take the pain if you deliver it over a longer period’. Lunacy!

So the key question is, will the rank and file rise? I do think there are positive signs. We have to remember that workers are taking the brunt of what is being done. And this is a scenario that is not going to go away soon. One group who resisted so far are the pensioners – and they won! So fighting back works and deep down people know that. But against that unemployment is high and people, naturally, are cautious. There are also big debt problems for many. Thirdly the Irish media has played a significant role in saying ‘there is no other way – you must accept the situation’. We’ll see.

Q: What role has your organization, the anarchist WSM, been playing in this fight-back?

A: We wish we were a lot larger and that we had much more influence at a time like this. But that said we are doing as much as we can to make ourselves heard. There are a number of different areas in which the crisis is being fought. Among the workers in their unions, among students and also in the various ways at a community level – where many of the cuts are already being felt first hand.

The main thing we are pushing of course is the idea that we must fight back and that we must resist; the sooner that we do this the better. This may seem like an obvious point to be making but the media and the Government really bang on and on that people should accept the situation that we are now in. So there is a role here for us as anarchists at a very basic level. Fight, resist!

Secondly in all areas, but particularly in the workplace where it is crucial, we argue for ‘taking back the unions’. As mentioned above rank and file involvement is very low now. But it is becoming clear to a minority of union members that the union leadership will do nothing – unless pushed. So at this moment putting ideas out there about self-organisation and about democracy in the unions is very important. In all areas there is a need to push for this.

Q: How does the WSM differ from, say, other leftists and the militant wing of the trade union movement during this crisis?

A: The clear and overwhelming direction of the left and even the militant left at the moment is towards electoralism. I haven’t mentioned this so far but it is a very important aspect of the current crisis. The current Government – a collation of Flanna Fáil and the Greens – will fall soon. It is becoming clear also that in pure electoral terms the voting public are moving left-ward. So the Irish Labour Party is set to do very well.

Political parties to the left of Labour are eyeing up this situation too. What’s new? A new electoral block linking the Trotskyist parties and some independents has just been formed. It is called the United Left Alliance. Their efforts are now directed at getting TDs elected to the next Dáil (parliament). It is the old story – they are playing the electoral card to the detriment of grass roots fight back. They will of course use any grassroots network for their own electoral ends – and damn the consequences.

Look, as anarchists, we know this story and it happens again and again. So we must counter this and we must do what we can to build an independent anti-electoral opposition. This is our aim.

Q: As anarchists, we agree that the final goal is workers and community self-management. In the meanwhile, are there any constructive immediate and medium solutions that the WSM may be posing to address the crisis and suffering?

A: The downside of all this is that there is a long way to go. As we do this interview, the IMF/ECB bailout has been in effect signed into a reality. This means a four to five year period of attacks lies ahead. The upside of this though is that we have time to make inroads and build resistance. I think this can be a period in which the anarchist movement makes a breakthrough. As they say, now or never. But it will not be easy and our numbers are small against the general forces that face us.

Q: In closing, on a personal note, let me hope that you and your family won’t be devastated by the crisis. On behalf of our organization, we wish our Irish sisters and brothers good luck and success in your fight-back.

A: Thank you and I will pass on your good words of solidarity to our comrades. I might add that we appreciate the interest that you take in what is happening here. The reality is we cannot make a real impact without international solidarity. And an important part of that process is that we get the information out that this is just more of the same old business of greed and capitalism. This is the second major recession I have now seen and it is worse than the last time. There is a better way to live and we need to build it for ourselves and our children and our brothers and sisters. Thanks and solidarity to the WSA.

BIO SKETCH: Kevin Doyle is a writer and political activist from Cork in Ireland. He is a founding member and activist with the Workers Solidarity Movement and he has written extensively on anarchist ideas and the libertarian tradition.


Verwandter Link:
author by Mike Harrispublication date So Dez 12, 2010 01:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

we've changed the title from "Interview With Irish Anarchist" to:

Interview: The Irish Struggle Against Austerity

Verwandter Link:
This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch
Neste 8 de Março, levantamos mais uma vez a nossa voz e os nossos punhos pela vida das mulheres!

Ireland / Britain | Economy | en

Fr 29 Mai, 08:00

browse text browse image

lochgarmenausteritybanner.jpg imageBudget 2013 & the dark times to come 22:42 Fr 07 Dez by Andrew 0 comments

Roughly 1,000 people protested at the Dail (parliament building) in Dublin Wednesday night as yet another austerity budget was debated. As with previous budgets the new flat rate taxes, PRSI & excise hikes will mean workers & those on low income will be hit hard while the richest 1% will hardly notice any difference.

atloendacover1015lr.jpg on my side! 04:54 Sa 06 Okt by Costas Avramidis 0 comments

That pat on the back to our "glorious leader Enda" in Time Magazine fails to come to terms BIG TIME with the reality on the ground here in Ireland.

tinycropmap.jpg image1,600 billion - Massive scale of oil giveaway revealed in Shell to Sea report 17:16 Di 11 Sep by Workers Solidarity 0 comments

€1,600 billion. That is the figure for Irish Oil & Gas reserves already licensed revealed this morning in a detailed report from Shell to Sea using the energy corporations own reports and estimates. People in Ireland will see almost no benefits from this incredible wealth because the Irish state gives these reserves to the corporations at the cheapest terms in the world.

cameron.jpg imageTories announce new plans to cut housing benefit from under 25s 17:03 Mi 27 Jun by Sean M. 0 comments

David Cameron plans to end housing benefit for claimants aged 16-24. The ‘proposal’ forms part of wider recommendations to begin being implemented next year as part of the new Welfare Act. Further plans being rolled out including linking regional play with regional benefits, breaking the link between benefits and inflation, and considering linking benefits to average earnings and cost of living amounting to a further attack on worker’s rights and conditions.

textECB gives banks 6,250 years worth of Household Tax 00:57 Sa 03 Mär by Paul 0 comments

Wednesday the European Central Bank (ECB) gave out 530 billion euros in 3-year term loans to the private banks of the Eurozone. Together with the 490 billion they doled out last December, that's over 1 trillion euros. If pigs could fly and politicians never lied and every household in the country was magically able to pay the hated Household Tax, the total receipt would be 160 million euro. At that rate, it would take 6,250 years to amount to 1 trillion. It would also take 20 years to amount to the 3.2 billion euros the state are handing over to the Anglo bondholders on the 31st March coming.

topcopvendetta.jpg imageDublin demonstrates against ACTA & SOPA but it is about more than just downloading 21:26 Mo 13 Feb by Andrew 0 comments

Dublin last weekend saw about 400 people take part in a demonstration against the intention of Seán Sherlock, the Labour Party Minister for Research and Innovation to bring into law a requirement for Irish internet service providers to block access to sites that allow the downloading of copy righted material. This is a similar law to the SOPA and ACTA laws that Hollywood & music industry lobbyists tried unsuccessfully to force through the US Congress. A second demonstration is to take place this Saturday.

south_londonmedium.jpg imageHalf a million take to the streets of London against cuts 22:25 Di 29 Mär by Steven 0 comments

500,000 people marched last Saturday against the coalition government's austerity measures, with the support of the majority of the population.

clarion__low_wages.jpg imageClarion hotel in Cork and Davenport in Dublin: Fighting for solidarity the key 21:43 Do 24 Feb by Kevin Doyle 0 comments

The attack on workers at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin had highlighted the greed and bullying in the hotel business. A similar case to that at the Davenport has come to light here in Cork. But so far fear has ruled the day. The Clarion describes itself as one of “Cork’s premier 4 Star City Centre Hotels”. Although it’s well able to charge for its rooms it cannot find its way to granting its workers a 29 cents per hour pay rise.

video1% Walk in Dublin: Video Report 08:49 Sa 16 Okt by Dave Donnellan 0 comments

A political walking tour through the heartland of the Golden Circle in Dublin.

Cement truck blocks access to parliament imageProtests in Ireland as part of European action against crisis 23:40 Do 30 Sep by Alan, Shane, Andrew 0 comments

Despite the escalating costs for the working class of the crisis in Ireland resistance has fallen off ever since the pro partnership leadership of the unions succeeded in getting the Croke park deal passed by the membership. The deal makes vague promises not to impose further pay cuts on the public sector in return for large scale restructuring but was conditional on the economic situation not declining further. Yesterday saw the unions return to the streets with a press call that the left, including the anarchist movement, tried to push into a demonstration. That morning in a rather unusual individual action a man parked a slogan covered cement lorry in the gates of the Dail (parliament building) blocking access. These articles from the WSM site report on these events and include the speech delivered by a WSM member at the protest.

more >>

textIrish government are trying to stop Apple giving Ireland 19 billion in owed taxes - how's that for '... Sep 24 by andrew 0 comments

How many could we house, educate and care for with 19 billion? The Irish government is currently furiously fighting the European Union to prevent Apple paying us back taxes it owes us. There has been a lot of ‘concern’ about government plans to spend 48 million looking after 4000 people fleeing warfare in Syria and Iraq. The government and the media defend there ‘our own’ is first - the super rich in Ireland and elsewhere!

imageGovernment legislation an attempt to bully trade unionists into voting for paycuts Mai 27 by Gregor Kerr 0 comments

The "Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013", published by the government on Thursday last (23rd May), is a clear attempt to bully public sector workers into voting for the re-hashed terms of the Croke Park II deal emphatically rejected by them just a couple of weeks ago.

image650,000 Homes STILL Not Paying Unjust Tax Mai 24 by Dermot Freeman 0 comments

In spite of a long and consistent campaign which has been waged against people in relation to the imposition of this unjust and unfair tax on homes, over 650,000 households have not registered with revenue [22.05.2013]. Draconian legislation and the threats of fines has not resulted in people volunteering their information to the revenue.

imageThe Croke Park extension: What it is and how to fight it Feb 27 by Mark Hoskins 0 comments

Early yesterday morning, the leadership of the public sector committee of ICTU emerged from talks with the government claiming they had achieved the best possible outcome from the negotiations. The best possible outcome in question involves extra hours at work, cuts in overtime rates and allowances for unsociable hours, delayed increments and revisions to flexitime arrangements and work-sharing patterns.

imageSean Quinn - Cowboy turns desperado - A Western in four parts Aug 02 by Dermot Freeman 0 comments

We don’t know a lot about the personal life of this son of a small farmer. He was the richest man in Ireland in 2008 with an estimated wealth of €4.7billion and now he is only out of jail because the Judge wants him to help the Irish Resolution Banking Corporation (IRBC) recover some of the €2.8 billion that he owes them. You may never have heard of IRBC but you will know of it’s previous alias: Anglo Irish Bank,winner of the dodgiest bank award in a state where there is stiff competition for that prize. His son is in prison, (plush Training Unit in Mountjoy) serving a sentence for what the Judge called ‘outrageous’ contempt of court as he sought to put money/assets beyond the reach of the bank. His nephew Peter is supposed to be there for the same reason but has gone missing. All we know about Sean – the daddy of the empire is that he’s big into the GAA and he likes to play poker for a few quid with his friends. Along with his love of poker, I would guess that Sean senior fancies the odd western.

more >>
Sorry, no press releases matched your search, maybe try again with different settings.
© 2005-2020 Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]