Things People Stick on Lampposts (Part 1)
July 6, 2014

Last year, having completed my collection of eastern European egg cartons my better half suggested that I find a more “Sensible” hobby. I ask you!! Anyway, to keep her happy I took up photographing things that people stick or stencil onto lampposts, bins, postboxes, walls or whatever. Now I know you might find this hard to believe, but she is still not impressed.
Women are a complete mystery no doubt about it.

I’ve been posting photographs now for over a year on Politicalworld.org forum.  It has been suggested to me that the PW blog deserves its fair share of lamppost items, so there will be a “best of” series of posts here for readers to catch up with, or remember, the best of Irish political stickers, starting from spring 2013.

Anyway, if you see something interesting, funny or artistic on a lamppost where you are, post it here and share it with the world. Of course posting something does not mean you agree with it, so don’t be afraid to post far right sh*t. Forewarned is forearmed.
Stuff from anywhere in the world welcome, maybe with a translation if necessary.

I suggest not posting the all to frequent appeals for information about missing people. There is a missing persons thread and including them here among with some frivolous stuff may cause offence.

SOOOOOOO HERE IT IS! In Dublin, Spring 2013 these were the…….

Things people stick on lampposts.

Never Forget:

We have lots of Irish lampposts in Dublin

And we have the occasional foreign lamppost:

Éire Bocht= poor Ireland. But what has yer wan got to do with the price of chips?

Like wtf?

 

 

 

 

Eamo   5th July 2014

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Tom Gilmartin – the Man Who Brought Down Bertie Ahern
June 9, 2014

Tom Gilmartin’s story, told by Frank Connolly in his new book “Tom Gilmartin – the Man Who Brought Down a Taoiseach and Exposed the Greed and Corruption at the Heart of Irish Politics,” (Gill and MacMillan) is an Odyssean  journey through Irish business and political life of the second half of the 20th century.  Connolly goes through 5 decades of Gilmartin’s life – as a young emigrant going from Sligo to Luton in the 1950s, making a success in the U.K. in the 60s and 70s as an engineer and a developer, then, from the 1970s to the 1990s, going back to Dublin to invest millions,and running into a wall of corruption and insider dealing. This finally brought Gilmartin into the heart of the Irish political turmoil in the 2000s when he became one of the main evidence-givers to the Mahon (Flood) Tribunal into “Certain Planning Matters.”

GiImartin had come back to Ireland sensing a good business opportunity in the Dublin’s underdeveloped and outdated commercial infrastructure, but was also motivated by a wish to provide  jobs and go some way to help stem the bleed of emigration from Ireland’s stunted and moribund economy.   Gilmartin began to assemble lands for development, first on the North side of the city centre, then at Quarryvale, at the future Liffey Valley Shopping site, west of the city at the M50.  What he found was that “the place was totally corrupt.” As soon as he landed, vultures and jackals getting the scent of funds and potential profit descended on him, leeching off and incapacitating his plans.  It seems like the whole Golden Circle wanted a cut out of any development profit for doing nothing.  The next 20 years were years of effort, frustration and disillusion.

The book is a labyrinthine voyage  though a morass of self-seeking power holders, power brokers and bagmen.  Bankers and Gardai were there too, to fund and protect the connected. Gilmartin found that development planning and control powers were seen as assets by politicians and by some public servants, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder for personal gain.  “Party donations” from developers were quietly pocketed by politicians, with a blind eye turned by the party. Professional fixers and middlemen like Frank Dunlop expected a cut at every turn.

Ultimately, after resisting the pressures for years, Gilmartin’s Irish development company and the fruit of decades of his work was taken off him by the future beneficiaries of the west Dublin project: O’Callaghan, Cork Developer (and big donor to Fianna Fail), and the Allied Irish Bank, ably assisted by fulltime bagmen Liam Lawlor TD.and Frank Dunlop, who also got their cut.  A donation of £50,000, given to Fianna Fail, in the desperate hope that it would get the incessant demands off his back, he later found had been taken by Flynn and never reached the party.

Such was the greed of the political class for more enrichment from property transactions that the Irish Government skewed the entire economy to promote construction, until the resulting property bubble exploded and left us with an unrepayable debt that has ruined the country and the aftermath is continuing to ruin hundreds of thousands of lives. By the time Bertie Ahern called the 2007 General Election to ‘get in’ before the big damage of the Tribunal struck home, civil servants and bankers were already using desperation measures to keep the banks afloat.  By the time of Bertie Ahern’s resignation as Taoiseach in May 2008 all of the Irish banks were facing imminent bankruptcy. By the time he resigned from Fianna Fail in 2012 his own party and the country was pretty well wrecked.

The systemic corruption, with cheques and cash lures for politicians handed out in bulk, led to public outcry and to investigation, initially focused on rezoning.  The Tribunal Into Certain Planning Matters (the Flood, or Mahon Tribunal) was established in 1997 with broad terms of reference and finally reported just over a year ago.

The Tribunal process gave moments of drama that punctuate the book.  Most people first heard Tom Gilmartin’s name in the early days of the Tribunal in Pee Flynn’s nauseating display of gombeen arrogance and clownish pantomime on the Late Late Show, in which he attempted to sully the reputation of Gilmartin and his family while boasting of the high life style afforded him as an EU Commissioner.  It was that shocking performance from Flynn with the gratuitous insult to himself and his wife, that brought Gilmartin back from England to give evidence at the Tribunal.

P. Flynn on the Late Late Show,  RTE, 1999

“He’s not well, his wife is not well , and he’s out of sorts.”

The next game changer was Mary O’Rourke’s evidence in the Tribunal, where in bravura style she made liars of most of the Cabinet and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, by telling how she met Gilmartin in the Daíl at a meeting which they had all sworn never took place.  From that moment, Ahern’s days in political power were numbered and Gilmartin’s many days of evidence, which had been repeatedly labelled as ‘fantasy’ was accepted as fact.

The third and final ‘moment of truth’ was when Bertie Ahern’s former secretary Grainne Carruth broke down giving evidence about funds she had banked for Aherne,  The evidence contradicted evidence given by Ahern. The personal torment she went through from trying to remain loyal to Ahern whilst giving evidence on oath brought a new level of public contempt and disgust on Ahern, for putting her through this.  It led to his resignation as Taoiseach.

The final report of the Mahon Tribunal was published on 22 March 2012.  Gilmartin’s allegations about an Irish mafia in politics, and in construction, were thoroughly vindicated.  Bertie Ahern resigned from Fianna Fail two days later.

(The Tribunal)  found that former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern failed to “truthfully” explain source of money and it rejected his evidence of “dig-outs”, and that former EU Commissioner Pádraig Flynn “wrongly and corruptly” sought donation from Tom Gilmartin.[6] 

On corruption in public life, Judge Mahon stated in the report that: “It continued because nobody was prepared to do enough to stop it. This is perhaps inevitable when corruption ceases to become an isolated event and becomes so entrenched that it is transformed into an acknowledged way of doing business. Specifically, because corruption affected every level of Irish political life, those with the power to stop it were frequently implicated in it.”[18]

There is an important sub-theme of the book which resonates as much as does the story of corruption.  The attitude in Ireland to returned emigrants can be hostile and suspicious.  Returned emigrants threaten the exclusive hold of the ‘stayers’ on their territory and resources.

Most people who came back to Ireland in the 1980s or early 90s would have experienced this in the context of business and work.  In the boom, with full employment and apparently limitless cash, the attitude softened.  A person respected and successful in much bigger circles abroad, can be treated dismissively ‘back home. ‘  The tight insider circles of power mistrust and are in fierce competition with returned migrants. The petty social snobbery thrown at Gilmartin by the noxious poltroon Flynn is like  a thread of dross running through this whole story. Gilmartin won respect from the wider public for his honest and fearless rebuttals.

Thomas Gilmartin jnr says about this

My take on the story is of a man let down throughout his life by the state for not being from the right family or having the right connections, a man able to flourish outside such a toxic environment, and a man brought down by that same culture because he refused to play their game.

The bigger picture is even more damning than the detail of what went on. The absence of consequences, the apparent contempt for the rule of law in Ireland if you’re on the inside, and the betrayal of the legacy of those, like Dad’s father, who fought for independence, are also an indictment of the state.

Following the report of the Mahon Tribunal, the Irish Government referred the 3,270-page report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners and to the Standards in Public Office Commission. Discussion of the outcome of that recommendation is welcome on Politicalworld.org discussion forum.

Tom Gilmartin died towards the end of last year.  His robust honesty, determination,  firm personal morality and his humour will all be missed.

His son Thomas jnr., who had ridden shotgun with his father throughout the Tribunal, while fighting the good fight online as Toxic Avenger, took part in the launch of Connolly’s book.  Fittingly, he talked about his father, and the book – and the state of Ireland – on the Late Late Show recently:

Tom Gilmartin jnr:  the Late Late Show, RTE, 2014

This book is a gripping read (enough so to displace John Grisham for this year’s summer holiday), and an essential work for anyone seriously interested in Irish politics.  It was written by Connolly over a ten year period, which adds to the feeling of a journey travelled. For a second edition, it would be helpful to provide a skeleton time line of the Tribunal process for readers of the generation for whom it is modern history.

The book is very well illustrated by contemporary photographs of the main players and has an appendix detailing the Tribunal process and findings.  Read, weep, rage and enjoy.

Cass Flower 7 June 2014

 

What’s Going On in the Central African Republic ?
December 10, 2013

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

The Pitfalls of Electoral Politics
November 12, 2013

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

The Suppression of Nationalist / Republican Councils in the Six Counties
October 8, 2013

In 1920 25 councils in the six counties were controlled by nationalists, some of which had voted allegiance to the Dáil. Needless to say the unionists were not pleased, especially with the prospect of the boundary commission, so they set about fixing things. Control over the councils was due to be passed to Stormont on 21st December 1921. When Tyrone CC informed Stormont that they would not recognise Stormont and that their allegiance was to the Dáil the RIC seized their offices and their documents.

Stormont then passed an act (Local Govt, Emergency Powers Bill) which permitted:

“the Ministry, in the event of any of the local authorities refusing to function or refusing to carry out the duties imposed on them under the Local Government Acts, can dissolve such authority and in its place appoint a Commission to carry on the duties of such authority” – Dawson Bates

Fermanagh CC passed the following motion on 21st December 1921;

“We, the County Council of Fermanagh, in view of the expressed desire of a large majority of people in this country, do not recognize the partition parliament in Belfast and do hereby direct our secretary to hold no further communications with either Belfast or British local governments, and we pledge our allegiance to Dáil Eireann”

The RIC seized their offices, sacked officials and the County Council was dissolved and replaced by Commissioners. Armagh, Keady and Newry Urban Councils, Downpatrick Town Commissioners, Cookstown, Downpatrick, Kilkeel, Lisnaskea, Strabane, Magherafelt, and Newry 1 & 2 Rural Councils as well as some Boards of Poor Law Guardians were all similarly dissolved and replaced by commissioners by April 1922. Derry remained.

To permanently deal with the problem, for the following local elections, PR was abolished, and all councilors were obliged to swear an oath to the crown. Our friend Dawson Bates then appointed Sir John Leech as the man to redraw boundaries, which he did at a rapid pace often giving locals only one week to make submissions – nationalists tended to boycott this absurdity. The plan worked excellently – after the 1924 local elections only 2 of the eighty councils were nationalist. Gerrymandering went on, Armagh Urban Council (Nationalist) was dissolved in 1934 and was only set back up again in 1946 with new wards and a unionist majority. Over these years Derry was re-jigged on a number of occasions.

Votes were also limited to rate payers, which was worse on catholics. However in 1945 the new Labour government in Britain abolished this restricted franchise and granted universal suffrage – Stormont managed to be excluded from this and they actually went further with their own Representation of the People Bill 1946 and disenfranchised more people by taking votes away from lodgers, who again were disproportionately catholic given the shortage of housing and Unionist control of how houses were allocated. Companies were also given multiple votes, depending on their value – up to six votes to be cast by the company’s directors. The Unionist government were not even subtle about it, their Chief Whip Major L.E Curran stated it was ;

“to prevent Nationalists getting control of the three border counties and Derry City… The best way to prevent the overthrow of the government by the people who have no stake in the country and had not the welfare of the people of Ulster at heart was to disenfranchise them”

Gerrymandering continued right up until 1967 when the local councils in Fermanagh were all amalgamated into one which despite being a majority nationalist county, was dominated by Unionists to the tune of 36 seats to 17.

Councils were very powerful, as well as allocating houses they were major employers. Unionist control ensured jobs for the boys, school bus drivers, manual laborers etc.

Most of what I know is from Michael Farrell’s “Northern Ireland, The Orange State” but I would like to know more, in particular about what councils did in an attempt to prevent this and what they did during the war of independence and before they were all dissolved. A good topic for a thesis I reckon.

Saoirse go Deo  8 October 2013

Here is the CEO of AIB not knowing how much the Irish State is paying bank bondholders this year
September 4, 2013

  Dr. FIVE 4 September 2013

Watch and discuss this weeks Oireachtas hearings into the Banks and Finance at Politicalworld.org

How and Why Ming Flanagan Came a Cropper
March 17, 2013

This week the love him or loathe him Libertarian Lefty rural hero-villain Luke Ming Flanagan came a cropper. Seemingly hoist by his own petard, after being exposed as having committed the very same corrupt act that he himself had railed against. His excuses ringing hollow and naive at best. Serves him right is fair comment and he was quite rightly exposed for his hypocrisy. Off with his hypocritical little head, came the cry from the establishment and media. Of course what they really meant was, get that little mouthy git and get him good. Not for the crime of having his points wiped. For them, Luke’s biggest crime was telling on the system, naming names and breaking the conspiracy of silence.

There are 60,000 or so more cases of point wiping, all potentially as bad or worse than Ming’s offence. When these were brought up, the desire to shoot the messenger was palpable and there was ZERO official outrage at the implications of those 60,000 wipings. Comparing the muted establishment reaction that greeted the new Lowry revelations to the hysteria over Ming tells you all you need to know.

Ming has been taken out and shot with outrage by those who couldn’t have cared less about the other cases or about the identites of other not-named Oireachtas members. Ming’s fall from grace has proven that points can be improperly wiped and are wiped. The outrage is that Ming is a hypocrite and not that there are thousands of others in the same boat that everyone in authority wants to forget about. No calls for any other heads were issued, only sympathy that they’d been associated with the rat was forthcoming.

Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan commented:“This country should protect whistleblowers, it never has and it’s one of the reasons we’re in the hole we are in. We need to protect whistleblowers.”

http://www.thejournal.ie/joan-collins-clare-daly-penalty-points-701259-Dec2012/

So the flawed hypocritical whistleblower is to be reviled and to be cast out and all is to go back to normal. Exposed and disposed of, by a paper with an agenda of returning FF to power, the party whose leader they backed to the hilt when he was in the tribunals, rubbishing whistleblowers and witnesses, and pleading for understanding for human failings.

Their mission in taking out Ming was to say “ ah sure they’re all the same, FF are not so bad after all”. Their rehab mission on FF is working, as they are now up to 29% in today’s opinion poll. A party who has increased the National Debt to a figure approaching the cost of building 2m houses and handing them out for free, but of course there are no free houses, just enormous mortgages.

NAMA, secrecy, payoffs and pensions, a culture of impunity for the powerful combined with shooting the whistleblowers. We never stood a chance of finding out where the money went and we are left with the 2 ½ parties that run the country this way playing musical chairs in perpetuity.

The media advises against voting in radicals who might try and change things, preferring instead to trust a leaderless disinterested and frustrated public to just do what they’re told by the same actors again and again, and that somehow the great unwashed will have reformed themselves which will somehow reform the body politic by osmosis. They the powerful corrupt and their corrupting media set the agenda, they control the message and their message is things are fine the way they are, so they won’t set a reform agenda that threatens their backer’s interests and the status-quo.

Reform without change is impossible. People are led, by the media, by giants like Dev and Collins, by idealism. This country won’t willingly be reformed by those who benefit from it the way it is. To capture the public’s imagination will require new actors and new players.

I’m not naive enough to think that SF/Others would be radically different, but they are different, they’re a threat to the hegemony of the established parties and they’re quite brave about how they vote in Parliaments. Taking on the conservative block on abortion both north and south, while the cute-hoors prevaricate and wring their hands.

They are useful and expendable and crucially they are diluting the power of conservatism and cronyism in the South. To achieve their goal of reunification, they have to do more than get re-elected, they have to produce a country fit for reunification, something that requires the radical reform that the 2 1/2 parties and the Irish establishment and their media don’t want at all.

Shaadi  17.3.2013

Last Week in Europe… Some Deaths, A Song, and A Broken Promise to Ireland
March 4, 2013

In Greece,  (via Ephilant on Politicalworld.org)

Out of sheer desperation and in order to try and warm their house a little and cook a warm meal, 5 students in Patras made this make-shift heating device and put it in their living room.


It consists of an old rusted barrel, cut in two, and used as a make-shift barbecue by people in their gardens.

When a friend called to the house and got no answer, knowing the women were inside, the friend called over the land lord and they used the spare key to gain access.

Two of the female students were found dead inside the house, two are in a coma in Patras university hospital, and one is conscious but critical in the same hospital. Carbon monoxide poisening. They didn’t even have the money to burn clean fuel in the drum, but burned rubbish found on the streets…

Why does something like this happen in 2013? It’s one of the little inconvenient side effects of bailing out international lenders and banks. Austerity in all its glory. The students, aged between 21 and 23 had no money to buy fuel, they could not pay their electricity bill and were reduced to 1 warm meal a week in the university canteen…

In Portugal

Over 200,000 protesters in Lisbon packed the vast imperial Praca do Comercio square, home to the Finance Ministry, and surrounding streets, chanting: “It’s time for the government to go!”. Many carried banners with slogans such as “Austerity kills” and “Screw the troika, power to the people!”, aimed at the so-called troika of lenders from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.”Grandola” – the signal-song of the 1974 “Carnation revolution” that overthrew the fascist dictatorship of Antonio Salazar after the army rebelled, reverberated through the crowds in Lisbon, which has a population of about 3 million.

In the past weeks, Government Ministers have repeatedly been drowned out by people singing this song.

And at the end of the week, some very bad news for Ireland, via the Telegraph, from an interview of Klaus Regling in Wirtschafts Woche magazine –

…It emerged that the eurozone bail-out fund (ESM) may not be used after all to recapitalise banks, even once the banking super-regulator is in place. Klaus Regling, the fund’s chief, said opposition from the creditor states may kill the idea altogether.

If so, this will breaches a summit accord in June by EU leaders to deploy the ESM directly to break the “vicious circle” between banks and sovereign states.

Klaus Regling “Das Euro-Retter” – Head of the ESM

Failure to implement the deal would be a blow for Ireland and Italy, leaving them shouldering the full burden left from a bank crisis that was partly caused by northern creditors. The International Monetary Fund said it is imperative that the EU upholds the specific pledge made to Ireland in the summit text.

Germany, Austria, Finland, and Holland have all all said they would not let the ESM cover “legacy assets” left from the bubble. They now seem to be resiling from the accord altogether.

Is this another “game changer” ?

C. Flower  4 March 2013

Join our discussion on European politics and economy at Politicalworld.org 

Millward Brown Poll – FG 24% (-1%) FF 23% (-4) SF 21% (+1) LB 11% (-2%) Ind 22% (+6) (Sunday Independent)
March 2, 2013

Greengoddess:

Millward Brown Poll today – FG 24% (-1%) FF 23% (-4) SF 21% (+1) LB 11% (-2%) Ind 22% (+6)

The Fianna Fail drop ( of 4%) is significant – those who were considering them as leading an alternative Govt. to FG/Lab have woken up.

Already there are mutterings within Fine Gael for Enda to ‘retire gracefully’ – the plan is to have him gone by October this year. We’ll know for sure if any announcement is made about an early Budget this year.

Labour is shagged out – old and bedraggled. One hundred and one years is too long a time with little achievement. Forever a prop for Fine Gael to lean on, and as a result, muffle and silence the social democratic principles within. They made a huge tactical error in entering Government with Fine Gael – Fine Gael will ALWAYS look after their own, Labour will talk of ‘tough’ and ‘agonising’ decisions while they immiserate the vulnerable in society. I expect the electorate to do the decent thing and euthanise the Labour Party at the next election.

Sinn Fein holding steady and playing a great game – well there are 28% of undecideds in this poll. Looking forward to the next one as I expect Sinn Fein to overtake Fine Gael!! I can’t see Enda wooing Gerry Adams …. but there are plenty others in Fine Gael who wouldn’t have a problem with Mr. Adams.

The electorate is in flux – – – which could mean that we have a thinking electorate.

Andrew49   2 March 2013

One Last Chance for Enda to Provide Justice for the Women Who Were Shut Away in the Laundries
February 17, 2013

I’ve just read the Justice for Magdalene’s redacted submission to the McAleese committee.  It has been released to balance and correct some impressions conveyed by the McAleese report. None of the hundreds of pages of accounts of individual women was quoted by McAleese. I haven’t read McAleese’s report yet, and plan to give it a try today – although at 1,000 pages it will have to be a fast read.

The Press and some politicians and commentators are using the McAleese Report to say that the laundries were “not like the films.” McAleese interviewed 50 women, the rest of the Committee did not meet any. They had no remit to investigate the treatment of the women in the laundries or to make findings on this. The first thing to remember about the McAleese Report is that the brief was to investigate State links with the laundries, not to explore what went on inside them.   All of the Committee members bar McAleese were civil servant representatives of implicated State Departments. McAleese who has close associations with the Church, resigned his position as Senator and left Ireland without making himself available to the press to answer questions on his report.  

The Justice for Magdalene’s earlier reports show the State’s role, and were in part what forced the Government to act. The State was responsible by reason of its neglect of its duties to inspect and to protect citizens from illegal incarceration and brutality. It also paid capitation money in to the laundry system for some women, provided contracts to it, and directly sent women into the laundries, and returned them if they escaped, without investigating if they were held legally. It has taken 10 years of research and campaigning, and a number of women in the meantime have died waiting, with no redress, some in very poor circumstances. One of the women who spoke out last year has lung cancer, and did not expect to see the report come out. Now she is waiting still for an apology and some redress.

Some of the things that stick in my mind from the many accounts in the JFM report and that very much contradict the Enda Kenny/McAleese version of the laundries –

The laundries were locked jails, with barred windows, with no daylight in some cases, little or no access to out of doors. They were cold and often wet. The work was heavy and dangerous. Many women got burns and other injuries.

The girls and women had inadequate diets – porridge for breakfast and supper, a small lunch with little protein, an egg once a year at Easter, occasional pieces of fruit on “special days.” An account mentions that women rooted in bins for nuns leftovers. They were very thin. People talk about fainting from hunger.

Women were not told when or how they would get out, and many never did get out.

Their names were taken off them and a number or penance name given to them.

They were told they were “there for their sins” although some had no idea why they were there at all. Young children as young as 11 were put in the laundries and a lot of them were young women. They were verbally insulted and abused.

Some women were put there because of ill health – lameness, epilepsy, mental disability.

They were not allowed to speak during the long work hours. They worked six days a week in the laundries: after hours they worked making small goods for sale by the nuns, and cleaning.Women were beaten with belts and hit with heavy bunches of keys for “faulty work” and for “cheek” and in some cases severely beaten for running away or for being found in bed with another woman. They were also punished by having their hair cut “to the bone” and by having to kneel and kiss the floor.   Solitary confinement was a punishment. Women were physically forced to work even when ill.    Enda Kenny however told the Dáil that physical abuse was not an issue.

Some girls and women who were resistant of this abuse and bullying or in other ways “difficult” were sent to mental institutions where they were incarcerated and in some cases died, unreleased.

There was an atmosphere of fear: women cried at night in bed. Women had nervous breakdowns and suffered from depression. Some became severely institutionalised. At least one is still living in an institution / care – would have liked her own room, but never had one. Reported problems of not getting dentures and associated weight loss. This seems to be current ?

They were not ever paid.

The young ones got no education. They had no books, newspapers, or radio and didn’t know what was happening in the outside world.

A horror that sticks in my mind – a account of a woman (likely not the only one) who was born in a laundry institution, grew up in it and who died in it.

Another account mentions a woman who sat at one end of the Church at High Park, while her daughter, elsewhere in the institution, sat at the other, without them ever knowing they were living in the same place.

A woman who got out for a day when she was 45 to meet her grown up child had never before tasted coffee, or handled money. She didn’t know her own age, but was told by her children. She died aged 51. (source: from the JFM FB page)

When the women died, there was no death certificate in many cases, and they were put in a mass grave with no name marker and no priest present, no funeral rites.

The State was very much aware of the laundries, was aware of issue of wages and its obligation to inspect and to safeguard basic rights of citizens. It failed catastrophically in relation to the laundries and in fact colluded in stripping women of their rights.

Women were in some cases sent for petty theft (an apple, stolen in an industrial school, is one example), for staying out late, or being rebellious generally.  Some had had children outside marriage.  Others had disabilities. Some had grown up in institutions. If they ran away, Gardai returned them.

The Secretary of Carlow County Council signed an order to incarcerate a married woman in a laundry and send her baby to a babies home, as the child was believed not to be her husband’s. This was in 1956 (As a side note, I know of a case in the 1990s,  in which Gardai in this area turned away a woman who went for help as she was repeatedly beaten at home: they informed the husband they she had complained).

The issue is not to me about who sent women to the laundries. Enda Kenny, McAleese and the press are busy trying to foist the blame for the laundries onto families. This is a particularly toxic and self serving argument. The State has obligations to citizens and residents irrespective of failures of families.

Abuse is an illustration of that.

Some girls /children who had been abused were locked into the laundries. One woman told of how as a young teenager she went to the Gardai and repeatedly asked them to act against her father who was raping her (her mother had died). They refused on a number occasions, but when they did act it was to incarcerate her in a laundry.

Women ended up in the laundries via state schools and institutions, via the courts, via parish priests and families. Families were under enormous social pressure from current “morals” and social stigma enforced by Church and State, and from poverty.  The Laundries were punitive institutions, part of a gulag of social control, that exerted fear and pressure on all girls and women to modify their behaviour and to comply with a rigid, brutal and hierarchical social norm.

The thinking that the State can avoid its responsibilities and push them off onto onto families, no matter how dysfunctional or disadvantaged, still goes on.

This matter will come up before the Dáil again on Tuesday.  Again, Enda Kenny has the opportunity to apologise, and make redress for the appalling acts of omission and commission by our State in relation to the Laundries.  

There will be a lobby/picket of the Dáil from Tuesday 1 p.m. 19.1.2013  until the debate is over.
Anyone who would like to go along would be welcome.   The women and support campaigners who have brought things to this stage and who have refused to be silenced deserve every support.

POST SCRIPT Justice for Magdalenes and supporters will be gathering at the Dail Tuesday 19th February for a candlelit vigil from 5 p.m. Please come, and bring a candle. 🙂 The debate starts on the Magdalene laundries starts at 6 p.m.

C. Flower  17.2.2013

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