Angela Kerins, Frank Flannery and the Real Scandal of Disability Services

April 10, 2014 - Leave a Response

Disability Law 2005 was watered down to avoid giving rights and was heavily diluted by the NDA (National Disability Authority, of which Mrs Kerins was then Chair). Hence a huge problem as people with all types of disabilities had a very hard time getting their rights recognised and it saved FF/PD government of that time a lot of MILLIONS.

Also their refusal to approve the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities up to now which has made it doubly worse off. Ireland is one of the two EU countries who still consistently refused to sign the UN charter (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) cos it would force the government to put in place legislation based on disability rights & ability not charity nor pity nor resources.
The NDA was responsible to develop guidelines for the standards of services for people with disabilities. HIQA (Kerins was formerly a Board member) has a similar role but has not yet begun to inspect workshops and it seems that at the moment there is no inspection of Rehab sheltered training workshops by any body. Currently Rehab is closing training services in the UK after badly failing an Ofsted inspection due to poor quality training and losing UK government funding – so there are big questions about the quality of services provided by Rehab.

THE Rehab Group has lost more than £5.7m (€6.8m) in British government funding after TBG Learning, one of its subsidiaries, failed an inspection. In 2012, Frank Flannery, a former Rehab director and a former Fine Gael director of elections, charged TBG Learning consultancy fees of €79,869 for political lobbying. The company is closing three training centres in Essex, southeast England, this month following the termination of payments by the UK Department of Education. Nine other centres in England are set to close on a phased basis. The company is fully owned by Rehab, the Irish non-profit, disability services provider. (Sunday Times)

Frank Flannery is a Director of TBG Learning limited and Angela Kerins remains its Chair. Rehab UK did not submit its books to the Charities Commissioners in the UK in 2012 as it is ‘winding up.’  While huge salaries and fees have been extracted from disability services in Ireland the most important issue for people with disabilities is the quality of services provided.

Disability law 2005 is hugely based on resources instead of rights based which was a clever move by Kerins and FF minister for disabled at that time. So it’s a lip service as they can say we don’t have the resources to provide services. Severe cutbacks via the HSE and other government departments now have made it a lot worse, cutting right down to a bone. That said, they denied many services to people with severe disabilities, especially in the early years of their life which is critical to progress in later stages of their life.

Some, not all of them, haven’t got the foggiest idea of people with disabilities or of what they really need, as they usually make a decision for them without consulting their parents or the disabled themselves. It’s very common as people with disabilities have no say as they have no support (parents at home). It’s outrageous but all too common nowadays.    Third level disability staff were worse when I was there as they usually see a student with any disability as a ‘cash cow’. Think of that – imagine that in CRH or Rehab as it’s the same – a money making racket exercise for top brass cos rights for people for disability aren’t there at all.

In another words, exploitation of the workers with disabilities at their expense in order to generate profits and their inflated pay salaries/pensions, which was totally disgusting… taking advantage of the vulnerable & disabled people, which made it all the more appalling and total lack of respect towards workers with various types of disabilities.

Hence,- all Rehab directors should resign en masse which I would demand!!

Disability Student 9th April 2014

More discussion on this at Political World discussion forum

References and sources:

De Wispelaere, Jurgen and Walsh, Judy (2007) ‘Disability Rights in Ireland: Chronicle of a Missed Opportunity’, Irish Political Studies, 22:4, 517 – 543

DOI: 10.1080/07907180701699265 URL:


Ukraine Has No Legitimate Claim to Crimea

March 13, 2014 - Leave a Response

What is the basis of the “west” insisting that Crimea is an integral part of the Ukraine? The peninsula has no historical association with any country known as The Ukraine (which only came into existence in 1991) and ethnic Ukrainians have never compromised anything like a majority of it’s population. (About 24% today which is probably the highest it has ever been). On the other hand the Crimean connection with Russia dates back over two hundred years to the time of Catherine the Great and it has a majority ethnic Russian population.

The basis of Ukraine’s claim to Crimea seems to be that the Crimean Oblast was transferred from the Russian Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khruschev in 1954. There are, however, a number of problematic things regarding this “gift”:

1. The people living in Crimea were not consulted in any way, shape or form.
2. The people of Russia were not consulted.
3. The transfer was subsequently tested in the Soviet Supreme Court and found to be unconstitutional.
4. It was not a transfer from one state to another but between two Republics of the Soviet Union.
Was this a reasonable basis for it being made part of a new independent Ukraine?
5. Sevastopol was not part of the Crimean Oblast but was administered directly from Moscow. Accordingly, it was never transferred.

Unfortunately, for the people of Crimea the early 90′s saw the Soviet Union presided over by the drunken lackey of the west Boris Yeltsin who was primarily concerned with breaking up the Union and distributing it’s assets to private individuals. Crimea should not have been permitted to go to the Ukraine but Yeltsin was more interested in appeasing the “west” than looking after the interests of Russia or Russians. The people of Crimea were left hanging out to dry.

The entire history of the peninsula from the breakup of the Soviet Union to the present time has been one of its residents demonstrating time and time again that they are not a natural part of the Ukraine and do not feel at home there. And while they have managed to secure some level of autonomy through struggle this has always been under threat from the Ukrainian government if not simply revoked. In 1995, for example, the Ukrainian parliament passed The Law of Ukraine on the Status of Crimea which simply abolished the Constitution of 1992 adopted by the Crimean Parliament (and which had been operational for three years) and the Crimean Presidency. Accept this or face our guns were the options given the Crimeans.

This Sunday the people of Crimea are being given an opportunity to state their view on what they wish their future to be. One option is to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia. Another is for greater autonomy within the Ukraine by reinstating the 1992 Constitution. The Ukrainian government and it’s western backers have stated that they will not accept the result of this referendum. Why is this? Should Crimea rejoin Russia will the Ukraine be losing some integral part of it’s territory that it has enjoyed for hundreds of years? No. Crimea only became part of the Ukrainian State in living memory, with the breakup of the Soviet Union (against the stated wishes of it’s people) in 1992. There is no historic legitimate basis of a Ukrainian claim to Crimea. Should the people of Crimea choose greater autonomy under the 1992 Crimea Constitution which was torn from them why should they not have this?

The conflict in Crimea is not an outcome of Russian irredentism as some would have us believe. It is because the people of the peninsula have been forced into a country the majority do not feel part of. Neither the ruling circles in the Ukraine nor it’s western backers have been willing to recognise their legitimate aspirations. The hypocrisy in this is outstanding. We are constantly told that it would be wrong to force a million protestants into a united Ireland but the British government has never had a problem with a million ethnic Russians being forced into the Ukraine against their will. Unfortunately, what determines the position of imperialist powers is their geo-political interests not the rights or wrongs of any particular situation. The “west” wants strategically important Crimea in the Ukraine and the Ukraine in NATO in pursuit of its global hegemony. How the people of Crimea may feel is not important to it.

Sam Lord     11 March 2014

Discussion on this and other related issues at’s Ukraine forum



Ukraine and Russia – Past and Future

March 7, 2014 - One Response

If you want to understand Ukraine properly, an understanding of the Kievan Rus is necessary. Russia as an entity stems from the Kieven Rus which was an empire which stretched from the Black Sea and further to the Arctic. Kiev was a civilized city when Moscow was a backwater and St. Petersburg was a bog. Kiev is the birthplace of the modern Russian state. It is also the birthplace of the Orthodox Church and the three languages Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian. If you read only the history of the Lavra Percherska itself, you get an idea of why there is a strange relationship between Russians and Ukrainians. Russians have, believe it or not, an inferiority complex vis a vis Ukraine because of the whole “culture” thing stemming from the Kievan Rus.

Last Saturday, a friend was at home with her parents in Kharkov and she was shocked when 30 coachloads of Russian agitators were bussed into Kharkov from Belgorod in the neighbouring Russian Krasnodar province. They surrounded the Lenin statue in Kharkov’s Ploshody Svoboda (Freedom Square) and were drinking beer and vodka all day. Eventually they became very aggressive and hurled abuse and then bottles and bricks and so on at passing Ukrainians, men, women and children.

All Ukrainians in Kharkov speak Russian. ALL of them. And all of them are Ukrainian who do NOT want Russian in their country wearing uniforms. The Kremlin lie that these Russian speakers are in fear of their lives is bullshit. As my friend said to me, “you speak English but you certainly don’t feel English, do you?” And that is the point. Russian is spoken in a great many ex-Soviet republics by non-Russians. Sure, there are Russians in Ukraine, particularly in the east, but they are certainly not under threat from anyone. Even the Ukrainian nationalists in the west of Ukraine realize that many of their fellow Ukrainians are married to Russians in the east. The vast and overwhelming majority in mainland Ukraine (ex-Crimea) want to maintain Ukraine as a unitary state. This is true even in Donetsk. Even Rinat Atmekhov wants the Russians out and he used to “own” Yanukovich.

So it is against such a backdrop that Ukraine should be assessed in my opinion. The first thing the new government elected on May 25th should do is to veer away from any language legislation which downgrades Russian in any way. In fact, it should go the great lengths to stress all Ukrainians have equal rights and enshrine this inclusiveness in the constitution. The new foreign minister could help by visiting Russia first after his appointment and mending fences with Putin, Mededev, Lavrov etc. and assuring them that at this point in time, Ukraine will not join EU but will not be forced into any other “customs union” either. He/she must stress that unique nature of the bond with Russia and a willingness to strengthen that bond informally.

Ukraine must also sign an association agreement with the EU which gives it the same status as Switzerland and Norway, if it can. The foreign policy balancing act must be brought into a determination to pursue independence in its decision-making as a sovereign state.

Reforms are badly needed and reform of the police, the legal system and corruption laws are needed immediately. If it can hit the ground running in the summer, Ukraine could have a bright future. We are a long way away form the summer right now, though.

Slim Buddha   7th March 2014

More discussions on Ukraine politics and economy at





Welcome the new boss …. same as the old boss (with some fascist backbone added).

February 28, 2014 - One Response

The interim government of the Ukraine has been passed and after the “revolution” we seem to have gone back in time to the days of Tymoshenko. Her party (Homeland) is very well represented and has the Prime Minister and one of the First Deputy Prime Ministers as well as several other positions. It should be remembered that in addition to this Turchynov of the same party is still interim president.

The position of the far right has been significantly strengthened. Svoboda has one of the two First Deputy Prime Minister positions as well as two other cabinet positions. It should be remembered that the interim Attorney General is also one of theirs. As well a significant position has been found for
Andriy Parubi. (Secretary of National Security and Defence Council).

This is the government:

Arseniy Yatseniuk – Prime Minister. Fatherland Party (Tymoshenko)
Washingtons choice. (Yats as Victoria Nuland calls him)
Was Minister of Economy from 2005 to 2006, Foreign Minister in 2007 and Chairman of the Parliament from 2007 to 2008.
(Irish readers will be interested to know that he is apparently a rank homophobe as he has stated his opposition to same sex marriages.. )

Other Fatherland Ministers:
Vitaliy Yarema – First Deputy Prime Minister
Former General and Chief of the Kiev police.
Pavlo Petrenko – Justice
Ostap Semerak – Minister of Cabinet of Ministers.
Arsen Avakov – Minister of the Interior
Armenian. Avoided corruption charges a few years back by going to Italy. Was placed on Interpols wanted list.
Maksim Burbak - Infrastructure Minister
Lyudmyla Denisova – Social Policy
Served as a Minister under Tymoshenko. Has faced corruption charges in past.

Fatherland connected (?):
Yury Prodan – Minister of Energy
Not sure of Party but he was Energy minister under Tymoshenko. Very controversial.
Reputed to be close to the oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.

Oleksandr Sych – Deputy Prime Minister. Svoboda.
Andriy Mokhnyk – Ecology Minister. Svoboda – Deputy Chair.
Ihor Shvaika – Agriculture. Svoboda
Serhiy Kvit – Minister for Education
Academic. Rector of University
Putting him here as I read that he has been a member of several far right organisations in the past.

Unsure of politics (other than being pro-west or against Russia):
Andriy Deshchytsia – Minister of Foreign Affairs .
Career Diplomat
Pavlo Sheremeta - Minister of Economy
Professional Economist. Previous connection with the Open Society Foundation established by George Soros.
Volodymyr Hroisman – Deputy Prime Minister on Regional Development.
Mysteryman. Nothing really in English about him on the internet other than being Mayor of the city of Vinnytsia in Central Ukraine. I think he may have been associated with Conscience of Ukraine, a defunct political party. I did come across a photo of him with the head of USAID, for what that is worth. Why he is a Minister I can’t say but apparently close to the oligarch Petro Poroshenko.
Yevhen Nishchuk - Minister of Culture
An actor. His qualification for the position seems to be that he MC of the stage in the square for the occupation.
Oleh Musiy -Minister of Health
A doctor. His qualification for the position seems to be that he was in charge of treating protesters
Dmytro Bulatov – Minister of Sports and Youth
Absolutely nothing on the internet about his background or qualifications. He was an organiser of car protests against the government and seems to have an NGO connection. Claimed to have been kidnapped during the protests by government forces (with Russians I think he said) and was tortured by being crucified … i.e. nailed to a door (though there were no wounds on his hands that would support that). There was a bit of one ear missing, however, which allowed him to appear at the press conference with his face covered in blood.
Ihor Tenyukh – Defence
Former Admiral.
Oleksandr Shlapak – Minister of Finance
In previous cabinets under Kuchma and Yushchenko. Was a witness for the prosecution against Tymoshenko. Has been described as another representative of the oligarch Kolomoisky.

I have also seen these announcements but I’m not sure if they are Cabinet positions:
Andriy Parubi – Secretary of National Security and Defence Council
Elected as a Fatherland deputy but one to watch carefully. Far Right. He founded the Svoboda party with Oleh Tyahnybok. Very dangerous man.

Tetyana Chornovol – Anti- Corruption Bureau
Campaigning journalist but has ultra-right background. She joined the UNA-UNSO (very Nazi) organization at the age of 17, and later began her media work there as a press secretary.

(Apologies for any inaccuracies in this. There have been a number of different lists and what with different spellings for names etc. it has been a bit of a chore pinning it all down.)

Sam Lord  27 February 2014

Discussion on developments in the Ukraine can be joined at Political World discussion forum

Brian Ború, “A Singular Authority,” And the Battle of Clontarf

January 1, 2014 - Leave a Response

We’ve reached 2014, and as part of the many celebrations that will occur this year, we will be commemorating the Battle of Clontarf, where Brian Bóraimhe defeated an army of Vikings and Leinsterman trying to undermine his efforts to maintain a singular authority over all the men of Ireland.  Of course much has been made of this battle in Irish historiography and in the formation of Irish identity in the 19th century. Originally, perhaps as a result of the effective propagandising efforts of the author of Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, it was viewed as an Irish versus Viking affair, the struggle for national freedom against a foreign enemy.

Subsequent scholarship, however, has undermined its national significance, downplaying the threat that Vikings posed at the beginning of the 11th century, and that it was primarily about Brian asserting his overlordship, and a rebellion against those attempts, as opposed to a genuine attempt by Dublin Vikings and their Islander allies to reassert their position.

Seán Duffy’s new book, Brian Ború and the Battle of Clontarf, is in some respects a revision of the revisionism. Firstly, he reasserts the importance of Brian’s achievement. Not merely did he ride roughshod over the status quo, the first non-Eoghanacht king of Munster since the 5th century, the first non-Uí Néill (high-)King of Ireland ever. Before the rebellion that lead to Clontarf, Brian had the unprecedented distinction where every provincial king, as well as the kings of Bréifne, Ulaidh and Osraige, of Ireland had come into his house (i.e. had submitted to him). This seems to have involved Brian providing each with a tuarastal, literally a wage, but more akin to a movable fief, and receiving military service and tribute (mainly in the form of cattle, but silver, foodstuffs and billeting rights could also be included). There is evidence to suggest that Brian had officials in other provinces, maeir, in order to regularly collect his dues (although this was nothing peculiarly new).

Although Seán Duffy does characterise the actions of Maelmordha King of Leinster, and his nephew, Sitriuc Silkbeard king of Dublin which lead to Clontarf as a rebellion against Brian’s hitherto unchallengeable authority, he does recognise that even amongst contemporary annalists the battle of Clontarf was given national and international significance. The annalists describe Brian as leading the men of Ireland and Maelmordha and Sitriuc’s forces were frequently referred to as “Na Gaill” in brief. It seems too that the annalists, rather than say that Sitriuc supported his uncle, claim that the rebellion itself was at the instigation of the Dubliners.

Of course, on their own the Leinstermen and the Dubliners could not face down Brian’s forces, for which he could potentially draw on all corners of Ireland, however, the addition of Norse Islanders from the Western Isles and Orkney stiffened their resistance. This is quite similar to the situation in 1167 where Mac Murchadha, who could not challenge Ua Conchobhair in the field (the latter again could potentially drawn on all the polities of Ireland for his armies), looked abroad in order to maintain his independence.

The arrival of Norse mercenaries and allies of Sitriuc naturally evened out the playing field. Contemporary accounts suggest Sitriuc’s army, along with his Norse and Leinster allies, consisted of up 7,000 men, the majority of which being heavily armed Norse warriors. Of course, this may have initially been motivated by a desire to break Brian’s control over the country, however, a victory at Clontarf would have left them with a strong army with the only military force capable of challenging them decimated and in a shattered retreat. This is no small number, and Svein Forkbeard in England had demonstrated what a force of 10,000 Viking warriors could do even with a united, coherent and full armed enemy.  The situation in England also points to a potentially more disastrous outcome had a Norse victory at Clontarf occurred. The same year the Viking conquest of England had been undone with the death of Svein Forkbeard, leaving thousands of Viking warriors without an employer. These may have comprised a significant number of the Norse warriors at Clontarf anyway, but a Norse victory would have let the door open for such freebooters hoping to establish another Norse kingdom in the Isles, with less opposition. Indeed, one of the Norse sources for the battle, the Orkneyingasaga, suggest that Sigurd of Orkney, an former ally of Svein, had agreed to aid Sitriuc, king of Dublin with two conditions. The first, that he could marry Gormfhlaith, Maelmórdha’s sister, Sitriucc’s mother, and Brian and Maoilseachlainn of Midhe’s ex wife, and in some respects, an avatar for the sovereignty of Ireland, and secondly a kingdom in Ireland. Had Brian lost at Clontarf, it is possible a conquest along the same lines of Svein’s success in England, could have occurred.

It seems the probable that the battle of Clontarf could have been fought to prevent a partial Norse conquest of Ireland, but at the very least, victory, though pyrrhic, may have prevented a reassertion of Norse power in Ireland, something that seems to have been appreciated by contemporary accounts both at home and abroad.

We have quite an array of primary sources extent for the battle of Clontarf, for which we can include the Annals of Inisfallen, Chronicon Scottorum, and Annals of Ulster as native, near contemporary sources. The Chronicon Acquitainicum et FrancicumThe is the closest contemporary foreign source, from South-Western France, describing the events of the battle, in which it states, the King of Ireland died, but that the invading Norse armies were defeated. The Annals of Loch Cé, the Annals of Clonmacnoise, as well as the Welsh Brut, are later still, but describe interesting and complimentary elements of the battle, some elucidating earlier difficults or expanding or earlier allusions. Saga material, with which we must deal cautiously given its tendency to exaggerate and propagandise, is also extent and also seems to preserve a lot of traditions associated with the battle. The Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, which may have been composed within 50 years of the battle, may have used actual accounts of warriors who fought in the battle,, as well as annalistic material, in order to compile its narrative, but other sagas, such as Njals Sága and Orkneyingasaga, are unique in giving us the Norse angle, (though the former is very sympathetic to Brian) are thus very useful sources of information for how the battle was fought, and the fraught political circumstances which led to it.

For secondary sources on the battle I’d suggest Seán Duffy’s new work, “Brian Ború and the Battle of Clontarf” but Fr John Ryan S.J.’s essay “The Battle of Clontarf” found in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol 68 (1938) is also invaluable for establishing the historicity of the event, and confirming the events of the numerous accounts.

Riadach  1.1.2014

A page from the Book of Armagh, an important collection of religious texts compiled in the 9th and 10th century. In the bottom right corner of this folio, which describes the rights of the church of Armagh, there is an endorsement by one Mael Súthain, tutor and confessor of Brian Boraimhe – as he puts it, in sight of the latter (i.e. as his behest) who he describes as Imperator Scottorum, Emperor of the Irish, or even more cryptically, Emperor of the Irish and the Scots”.

Also being discussed at forum

What’s Going On in the Central African Republic ?

December 10, 2013 - Leave a Response

Once again France is involved in a major military intervention in Africa … this time in the Central African Republic (CAR) ostensibly to prevent growing growing muslim/christian violence amidst talk of genocide. But what exactly is going on in the CAR and will this intervention do any more to enhance stability and economic development than any of France’s numerous interventions in Africa over recent decades?

The CAR is a huge country with a very small population. It is about the size of France and has around 4.5 million inhabitants.

The population is comprised of some 80 different ethnic groups. The religious breakdown seems to be 50% christian, 35% adhering to traditional beliefs, and only about 15% Islam.

It is a former French colony. In fact, the most significant anti-colonial struggle in Africa between the two world wars, the Kongo-Wara rebellion (brutally crushed by the French and covered up) took place in this area.

The country is rich in natural resources: oil, uranium, gold, diamonds, lumber, etc.

CAR ostensibly gained independence in 1958 but the French never really left. They have involved themselves in it’s affairs ever since .. helping install and overthrow despots as it suited them. As far as I can make out they have maintained a permanent military presence. The “father of CAR independence”, Barthélemy Boganda, who was due to become the first prime minister after independence is believed to have been murdered by the French secret service.

So what exactly has happened recently? How is it that people of different religions who have coexisted for centuries have suddenly started killing each other? The answer to these questions is not easy to come by.

What we do know is that in 2003 General François Bozizé seized power in a coup. This was followed by many years of low intensity conflict with a disparate collection of rebel groups in the north. At this stage he was supported by the French who, amongst other things, carried out mirage jet attacks on rebel positions in 2006.

A peace agreement was signed between the government and rebel groups but this fell apart in December 2012 as the rebels (now united under the banner of Seleka) accused the government of breaking promises and immediately began to seize territory. Bozizé appealed for international support but France now stated that it would not assist him. French troops were dispatched however to seize and hold the airport. Several African countries (Chad, Gabon, Cameroon, Angola,South Africa and Republic of Congo) did decide to sent troops to stop the rebels advance on the capital. The South African commitment in particular was significant and some observers viewed this as an attempt to counter French influence in the CAR. By March 24, however, Seleka was able to seize the Capital and install Michel Djotodia as president.

How was it, I wondered, that rebel groups who had not been able to seize power in many years of low intensity conflict were able to sweep to the capital and seize it in a matter of months? Also, I furthered wondered, how was this possible when the rebels apparently represented the Islamic population of CAR which makes up at most 15%. The short answer to this is that Seleka seems to have been substantially stiffened with mercenaries from Chad and Sudan. Who has organised and funded this is an open question. Also, who exactly are these mercenaries?

One interesting thing in the Seleka march to the capital was that one night a substantial group of their fighters (several hundred if not more) came from the direction of the French held airport (where they had no problem with the French)to attack a contingent of South African troops. In the ensuing 19 hour firefight about 14 South Africans were killed. (The South Africans say they killed 500)

Another interesting thing is the the President installed by Seleka, Michel Djotodia, was resolutely pro west. The first thing he did on assuming power was to tear up all the mining and oil contracts the previous government had signed with China. Djotida stated that he would be seeking the help of France and the USA to retrain the CAR Army defeated by Seleka. ““We will rely on the European Union to help us develop this country,” he asserted. “When we have been sick, the European Union was at our bedside. It will not abandon us now.”

Now, while Djotida was tearing up contracts the Selekaa forces were running amuck. Widespread looting, pillaging, rape and murder of Christians commenced. What was this about one wondered? In response Christian communities began to form their own militias to fight the Seleka know as the “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) Unfortunately, they also began to take revenge on ordinary Muslims who had nothing to do with Seleka.

In September 2013, Michel Djotodia announced that Seleka had been dissolved but the militias comprising Seleka did not go along with this. So roaming the country since have been heavily armed bands of men, often speaking no CAR language and answerable to God knows who. On the anti-balaka side as well there are now numerous local militas under no centralised command.

It will be interesting to see who France puts into power to sort all this out. One cannot help but feel, however, that at the end of the day the people of the CAR will continue to be the losers.

And the BRICS countries have not done well while the EU is in the driving seat. China has been stripped of its oil and mineral concessions and South Africa has been given a bloody nose.

There are, by the way, about 100 members of the US Special Forces in the CAR ostensibly seeking Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Sam Lord  10 December 2013

Ten young women and one young man, the Dunnes Stores strike and the disappearance of the man

December 8, 2013 - 2 Responses

Today’s Irish Times carries an article on page two by Kitty Holland, in it she states:

“The picket would be there, on the shops three entrances, manned by 11 young women from the inner city, for two years and nine months.”

And that is typical of what is being printed right now.

Well they were all young, but not all from the inner city, and definitely not all women. That only one young man joined the courageous women in the strike is bad enough, but that is no reason to revise him out of history.
It was a principled workers strike, supported and opposed by both men and women, many of whom traveled from all over Ireland and even abroad to support the strike, or sadly, to take joy in passing the picket and even abusing those on the picket line.
I have searched the web and very few references are made to the one man, but the fact that cross gender working class solidarity was shown is mentioned in two songs. This is by the late great Ewan MacColl.

Ten Young Women And One Young Man

A song by Ewan MacColl ©EwanMacColl 

Pause a while my friends and listen to what I’m going to tell to you
About the events in Dublin City and the girls of the IDATU
Dunne’s stores branch in Henry street was where the trouble first began
That led to the strike, the famous strike
Of ten young women and one young man

At the union conference that year they said we should not compromise
With apartheid, and they voted to boycott all South African merchandise
Karen Guerin, and the Dunne’s shop steward, told their mates about the ban
They said “We’ll stick by the resolution”
Ten young women and one young man

Mary Manning, from Kilmainham, a twenty one year old cashier
Was put to the test the very next morning and she spoke up loud and clear
“No, I’m afraid, I cannot serve you. That grapefruit’s South African
Some of us here are opposed to apartheid”
Ten young women and one young man

Well what a hell of a hullaballoo, the groans and threats and angry cries
The management foaming at the mouth and the suits running round like blue-arsed flies
“You’ll sell that fruit or be suspended, we’ll tolerate no union ban”
Little did they understand the will
Of ten young women and one young man

Mary Manning got the push, a lass of independent mind
And ten of her workmates came out and her and joined her there on the picket line
For days and weeks and months they stood there held their nerve and kept the ban
Showing the will and determination
Of ten young women and one young man

So here’s to the girls of Dublin City who stretched their hands across the sea
That action surely is a lesson in workers’ solidarity
Here’s to the folk who heed the boycott, won’t buy Cape and spurn Outspan
And to the lad who joined the lasses
Ten young women and one young man

From here

And from Christy Moore:

Close your eyes and come with me back to 1984
We’ll take a walk down Henry Street to Dunnes Department store.
The supermarket’s busy and the registers make a din’
The groceries go rolling out and the cash comes rolling in.

Mary Manning is at the checkout and she’s trying to keep warm,
When a customer comes up to her with a basket on her arm
The contents of the basket Mary’s future is to shape
But the label clearly stated “Produce Of The Cape”

I can’t check out your oranges Mrs, now won’t you bring them back.
For they come from South Africa, where White oppresses black
I’d have it on my conscience and I couldn’t sleep at night
If I helped support the system that denies Black People’s rights

Our union says “Don’t Handle Them. it’s the least that we can do.
We Fought oppression here for centuries, we’ll help them fight it too”
The managers descended in an avalanche of suits
And Mary was suspended cos she wouldn’t touch the fruits.

Dunnes Stores Dunnes Stores
Dunnes Stores with St Bernard Better Value Beats Them All

Well, her friends are all behind her and the union gave support
And they called a strike and the pickets brought all Dunnes’ Stores to a halt
No one was going to tell the Boss what he bought or sold
These women are only workers, they must do as they are told.

Isn’t it just typical of a partite screwball law?
It’s not just in South Africa, the Rich Temple and the poor.
He wouldn’t have a boycott, he couldnt give a tinker’s curse
Doesn’t matter how he fills the shelves as long as he
Lines his Purse


The messages came rollin’ in from all around the world
For such concern and sacrifice and for courage brave and bold.

When 14 months were over, 10 women and a man
Had helped to raise the consiousness all around the

Cleary’s in O’Connell street wouldn’t sell South African shoes.
Best Man sent all their clothes back, Roches Stores sent back their booze.
Until all South African goods were taken off the shelves in Dunnes.
And Mary Manning was down in Henry Street sticking to her guns.


And a rare non-song mention:

One thing I did that sticks in my memory is the trip to Dublin. This was a lovely experience – there were these (I think) five [sic] women and one man, a small group of workers at Dunnes Stores in Henry Street in Dublin who had refused to handle or take money for South African produce and they were sacked by their employer. The union IDATU backed their case and I went over there on our behalf. That was a very nice trip; and they came over to us. They were decent folk who had just taken a moral stand. (Interview with Andy Higginbottom, April 2012).

From here

So there you have it….when next you hear someone talk of the Dunnes Stores women remind them that there was a quiet young man who saved us men from total shame.

I have forgotten his name, and that may be the way he would want it, but if he reads this I just want to say…..thank you.

Eamo  8 December 2013

The 1% Difference Campaign – Neoliberal Front

November 18, 2013 - Leave a Response

How many one percents of your time or money does it cost to pay for blanket radio advertising?

Surprisingly affordable if ‘The 1% Difference Campaign’ is anything to go by.

Unless maybe you happen to be a front for the wealthy.

Regular adverts are encouraging us to give

The idea is simple. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, we all give the same – 1%. It’s one percent of you.

One percent of your time or one percent of your income, to a charity or cause you believe in.

Easy to give at a time of such taking

 The goal is to raise giving levels across the board in Ireland. It sounds like an impossible goal but it is actually very achievable. The campaign is jointly funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The ‘Corporate sponsors’ section is more interesting however

Vodaphone – pays no tax in Britain
Morgan McKinley – finance and consultancy
Publicis – PR, advertising
Drury – PR – Anglo, Fianna Fáil, golfing with Sean Fitzpatrick etc etc
Healy Group – food/pharma
Matheson – law – probably the biggest player in Ireland’s multinational tax avoidance industry
Byrne Wallace – Law – NAMA,  Anglo etc etc.

The adverts on Matt Cooper says ‘proudly supported by TodayFM’, maybe that means Communicorp is also involved though it doesn’t say it on the website. The TV advert is even more revealing

“giving is good for you”

Another one


100 of Ireland’s “brightest graduates” will raise €1000 each thus delivering 100k to Temple Street Children’s Hospital who they are “partnering”.

And just like that

Onboard here are KPMG, PWC, Deloitte, Google, Linkdin and others

The ‘about us’ section give no indication of who is behind it but I will take a leap on the next gogetter fancying themselves as a ‘social entrepreneur’, who will receive considerable plaudits for thinking outside the box, utilisation of social media etc etc before moving onto the next private endeavour. While every hospital in the country slides into the sea.

Interesting thing here is the “brightest”. The successful hundred would be selected from applicants. Strange limits when presumably aiming to collect the most amount of money poor sick children but the market decides you see…

The 1% difference campaign is “spearheaded” by the Forum on Philanthropy.

If you recall headed by Frank Flannery who before the budget proposed tax exiles be let longer in the country if they made a donations.

Before launching into several pages on tax avoidance opportunities, their 2012 report outlines


The Giving Campaign will form the context or overarching infrastructure for the recommendations of the Forum on Philanthropy and will form part of a wider national recovery strategy designed to restore both the economy and national self-belief.

The Campaign will increase awareness and understanding of the value of Philanthropy and Planned Giving amongst all sections of Irish society (high net worth, business, and the general public), through demonstrating their contribution to improving Irish society and the development of community in Ireland.


According to the latest report on fundraising in Ireland by consultants, 2into3, Irish charities reported an increase of 23% in fundraised income in 2010 over 2009, (or 6% if you exclude international development aid charities), despite the fact that Ireland is still in the grip of a serious recession. The report’s authors stress that if the quality of the ‘ask’ was improved Irish people would give even more.

The National Giving Campaign is an opportunity to get the ‘ask’ right, and elevate fundraising and philanthropy in Ireland to a new level. The Giving Campaign will operate for two years, at which time it will be reviewed and a decision taken to renew the campaign or to implement alternative strategies to grow giving in Ireland.

The steering Committee

will select a team of experts and ‘best of breed’ agencies to design build and run a major public awareness and call to action campaign run over a two to three year period. The design of the campaign (including key messages, tone, etc.) will be driven by empirical research. Possible campaign phasing for 2012/2013 includes:

• Set the Context for Giving  in Ireland,highlighting the benefits that giving delivers to Irish Society;

•Inspire our target audiences – tell them why they should get behind this campaign use role models (Henry Shefflin/Brian O’Driscoll/Bernard Brogan to legitimise effort;

Use partnerships to drive the message to key sectors e.g. IBEC/ Dublin Chamber to the business community, GAA/IRFU to the general public, Trade Unions for workers;

The campaign would begin with a high profile launch with the Taoiseach/ Minister at a suitable venue e.g. Croke Park/Dublin Castle, followed by TV/Radio/Billboard and Digital advertising campaigns. The campaign would then use partnerships with

a national sporting organisation/business organisation to drive a series of regional/county road shows on the good that giving is doing locally and how with a little more investment much more could be done. The impact of the initial media campaign would then be re-enforced by charities launching their own campaigns under the National Giving Brand. The campaign would be positioned as part of a movement for national renewal and restoration not only of the economy but of national self-belief. A key success factor would therefore be high profile political leadership.

Everybody giving the same regardless of means is also an echo of that other favourite, the flat tax.

Individually we can all give 1%, collectively we can do nothing, is the message.

Not least address all that deep deep structural inequality.

Dr. FIVE 18 November 2013

On the Greek “Vote of No Confidence” – Is the Parliament Relevant ?

November 18, 2013 - Leave a Response

Did the Greek No Confidence debate, much discussed last week, make any difference ? Is the Parliament at this stage relevant, or not ?

The relevance of any parliament depends on the democratic functioning (or non-functioning) of society. The figure out how healthy or sick our democracy is, we need to ask our politicians 5 questions:

1. What Power Have You Got?
2. Where Did You Get It From?
3. In Whose Interests Do You Exercise It?
4. To Whom Are You Accountable?
5. How Do We Get Rid Of You?

Sadly enough, the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety by “competent” politicians in parliament) by menacing it with an endless litany of fears (the economy, public safety, health, wellbeing, education, immigration, emigration, etc) all of them at the same time imaginary and designed with an agenda in mind that is not in the interest of that very same populace.

Parliament, in a non-functioning democracy (which is unfortunately what we all have allowed ourselves to be bullied into) is merely an instrument for creating that endless litany of alarmist fears while it is simultaneously a measure of how successful the system is in keeping the populace alarmed.

Votes like the one the Greek parliament held over the weekend serve one purpose only. They provide the party leaders with a gauge to measure their own popularity and that of their party. They provide a platform for individual politicians to publicly brown-nose the party leader, and for the party leader to publicly admonish the individual politician in case he/she doesn’t brown-nose said party leader with sufficient enthusiasm.
Theodora Tzakri, the PASOK MP who voted with SYRIZA against the government is an example of this real functionality of parliament. After two years of helping the Greek government rubberstamp troika dictat, send to them by email, she suddenly developed a social conscience, claiming her voters put her in parliament to help make a difference. The cracks are getting wider in the Greek government coalition, and it is only a matter of time before Samaras joins the likes of Papandreou, Ahern and Blair on the international lecture circuit. I am convinced that this suddenly acquired social conscience by Tzakri has a lot more to do with trying to secure her re-election to the next parliament than it has to do with concern for the voters or Greece. I’ve always been weary of people wearing €500 worth of shoes or £700 worth of silk shirts claiming concern for the “impoverished” people…

Parliament has been reduced to a platform hijacked by society’s leading psychopaths to allow their public grand standing and help secure their personal wealth and power. It has become an instrument for the elite to force the populace in to paying the cost of keeping the elite in its self-proclaimed rightful position and maintain the wealth of the very same elite. Unless parliament is taken back by the people and returned to being an instrument for the people, it is and will indeed remain irrelevant in terms of democracy. In terms of being an elitist instrument of public oppression, parliaments everywhere are highly relevant.

Ephilant 18th November 2013

The Pitfalls of Electoral Politics

November 12, 2013 - Leave a Response

It seems to me that the Irish left in general has refused to face up to the reality that any and every attempt at social democracy or socialist participation in electoral politics has completely failed to achieve its goals. Much of the blame for this has been put on the characters involved (with some justification), they were not true Scotsmen, so it’s a case of ‘once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more’. But perhaps the problem lies with and stems from this particular form of political engagement?

I read an article yesterday which I found very interesting. While it comes from a perspective I mightn’t necessarily subscribe to, it makes some very good points and is definitely worth a read:

No Vote Counts: Avoiding the Trappings of Democratic Socialism

Here’s a bit of it which I think is particularly applicable to the Irish left as it stands today;

Electoral work is not the same as engaging in a social movement. While electoral campaigns through organizations like the Green Party (the “cool” democratic socialists) may raise issues, it leaves the people mobilized around those issues standing cold when the only form of action offered to them is voting. It is great to raise certain points of agitation during their campaign, but we know that they either will not get elected or, if they do, will not be able to actually enact the kind of sweeping changes they are discussing. This is simply not the way the state functions, no matter how many of them pack the chambers. Instead, that time and money would be better used on actual movement building. All the benefits you get from a liberal electoral campaign you could get in putting the same effort toward a social movement, except at the end you actually have functional on-the-ground organizing that can continue to push reforms with popular power.

This point is lost on the Irish left, there is very little, if any, effort to form some kind of movement. Events are held to discuss the need, or lack thereof, for new traditional political partys and discussions are also had about electoral alliances, but there is no effort to create a mass movement. Time and again squabbles are had over various seats, Paul Murphy’s seat in the EU parliament just the latest example.

If we look at the past we can see how time and time again “successful” participation in electoral politics has resulted in dismal failure – The Labour Party, Workers Party and now Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin’s move to the centre and abandonment of revolutionary politics(even if you didn’t agree with them they have certainly moved towards the centre) is directly attributable to engaging in and tasting some success in electoral politics. As is the large increase of careerists and opportunists within the party. Much of the working class does not vote (and who can blame them? It’s a waste of time) and are politically disengaged, so in search of further support party’s inevitably turn to the voting classes which inevitably results in a move towards the centre.

I’ve wandered off the point a bit, and it is thus, given the repeated failure (and I would say inevitable) of socialist participation in parliamentary democracy in Ireland, why does the Irish left have such an electoral fetish?

Why, instead of trying to build electoral support is there not an attempt to build a socialist movement independent of electoral politics? Why are they setting themselves up to fail? Should the unattached on the left look towards trying to agitate and build some kind of mass movement completely independent of the electoral system, rather than ponder setting up yet another electoral vehicle?

Worth pointing out in case it isn’t obvious; the foundation of my argument is the acceptance that our current electoral system, like all liberal/bourgeoisie systems is unrepresentative of the Irish people, the working class especially. (I’ve been reading a lot of Lenin!)

Saoirse go Deo    11th November 2013


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