Volume 6 Issue 1– February 2011 Shell’s Role in Nigeria: Blood and Oil Page 4
Irish Foreign Policy : Time for a rethink? Page 8
The Senate : Abolition or reform? Page 10
www.labouryouth.ie www.facebook.com/labouryouth www.twitter.com/labouryouth www.flickr.com/labouryouth
Also: Net Neutrality—What it’s all about Political Reform—The next steps
Table of Contents 2 -
Table of Contents & Editorial
Shell’s Role in Nigeria
Tea and Toast with Dan O’ Neill
Irish Foreign Policy—Time for a rethink?
The Senate—Abolition or reform?
Debunking Fianna Fail spin
Susan O’ Keefe on the upcoming election
The lowdown on Net Neutrality
An analysis of the Death Penalty
Political reform—The next steps
Book Review - ???
Palestine and the Israeli Boycott
Message FROM THE CHAIR
Comrades and Friends,
A chomhrádaithe, It is my great delight to welcome to you to the first edition of the Left Tribune for
Happy New Year! I am glad to be offered the opportunity to write an introduction for the first Left Tribune in my term as National Chair. The Left Tribune is one of the most important Labour Youth publications – it sets out a vibrant and radical agenda to counter the neo-liberal politics of the present government. Since I was elected, developments in Irish politics have been breath-taking to say the least. We have witnessed the stranglehold of the EU/IMF deal taking hold, coupled with the impending general election. Now, more than ever, Labour Youth needs to assert her voice in the debate for a progressive future. The recent budget has imposed a series of draconian cuts that will hit working people and students hardest. Many of these curtailments were unnecessary and avoidable. Instead of tackling the real criminals in society, the rogue bankers and developers, we are all faced with an incredible tax burden and a reduction in public services. Young people have a vital role to play in resisting governmental policy. It is not enough to merely stand by and pledge to work for a progressive future. We must all go out and canvass for Labour Party candidates and ensure that we are in the driving seat during the next Dáil.
2011. We have endeavored to ensure that this edition and those to come later on in the year can measure up with the excellent standard that has been maintained over many long years by Labour Youth. In publishing this edition I am indebted to the Editorial Board, the National Youth Executive, and in particular Deputy Communications Officer Audrey Walsh, without whom this task would have been infinitely more stressful and less enjoyable. It is of course a crucial time for the Labour Party. We stand on the cusp of probably the most important election in the history of the state, with the country reduced to economic penury and young people being one of the groups most hurt by the economic mismanagement of the country by the Fianna Fail led government. The ideas outlined in the following pages cover a vast range of topics but all share one thing in common; a uniqueness of thought and creativity that displays the value of original ideas in rebuilding a more equitable and fair society in Ireland and abroad. Anyone privileged enough to hear Michael D Higgins speak at the Tom Johnson Summer School in July last year will have heard his message of young people having a tremendous opportunity to use language, thought, and inspiration to debate in modern society. Let this issue carry on in that tradition.
Mick Reynolds, Communications Officer Labour Youth 2010/11
Col m Lawless, National Chairperson, Labour Youth
Chief Editor: Conor Ryan Editorial Board: Emer Sugrue, Kerrie Creedon, Kerri Ryan, Sam Ryan, Audrey Walsh, Ray Kelly Contributors: Lisa Connell, Luke Dineen, Osal Kelly, Andrew Halligan, Conor Quirke, Peter Kelleher, Dan O’ Neill, Thomas D’Alton, Orla Hubbard, Declan Meenagh, Adam Fulham, Susan O’Keefe, Liam Duffy Thanks to: Neil Ward Interested in writing an article? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shell’s Role in Nigeria : used the release of the cables “Undoubtedly, Shell has from the online whistleblower used these dire ongoing site to demonstrate the grip political, social and eco- that Shell have on the wealth nomic situations to estab- of the country. Recently their lish powerful connections Executive Director released a in various countries in an statement highlighting that attempt to exploit those „Shell is not only doing busiwith the weakest voice ness in Nigeria, it has become within society”. a pseudo-political organisation By Lisa Connell bent on taking political power and undermining our national With oil and gas being two of anything experienced in the interest, national security and our most important everyday West. sovereignty.‟ Furthermore, commodities, using them for For many, the discusSocial Action Nigeria, another heat, electricity and transport sion on Africa produces imcampaigning group working necessary thought of the vast ages of disease, hunger, mal- in the region, has claimed that exploitation of these materials nutrition and social unrest. Shell is „more powerful than are not usually considered. We These images reflect the dire the Nigerian government.‟ only need to look at Rossport reality in many, though not The degradation of the in Mayo to see how even in all, African countries. Unenvironment by processes of Ireland natural resources have doubtedly, Shell has used natural gas flaring and oil been bought by large multina- these dire ongoing political, spills is far from the biggest tionals for a small price at the social and economic situations threat which the people of Niexpense of the citizens of the to establish powerful connecstate. However, when it comes tions in various countries in an geria face at the expense of Shell. Nigeria potentially to the multinational oil comattempt to exploit those with could become one of the richpany Shell the experience felt the weakest voice within sociest countries in the world in Ireland is by no means an ety. A recently released ranking as eighth largest isolated occurrence. The atWikileaks cable depicts how world oil exporters, however tempted obliteration of the the oil tycoon has inserted this potential will never be Irish right to Irish natural restaff into key ministries within sources is standard for multina- the Nigerian government ulti- reached as long as the militant links associated with the oil tional oil companies such as mately gaining access to poligiant remain. Shell. However, as history ticians every move in the oil shows, it is generally underde- rich region of „Niger Delta.‟ Campaigns seeking the veloped countries who receive The campaign group „Friends nationalisation of Nigerian far more severe treatment than of the Earth Nigeria‟ have natural resources were entirely
Blood and Oil silenced whilst environmental and political activists who highlighted and campaigned against poverty, corrupt governing, environmental devastation and human rights abuses (despite an entirely non-violent movement) were severely repressed through extreme military campaigns resulting in the deaths of thousands of local peoples in Niger Delta. The entanglement of Shell staff in key ministries within the government means that there are indisputable links between Shell and the military dictatorship currently in place in the region. For many Nigerians this has simply marked the emergence of a neo-colonial regime which their government are actively engaging in in an attempt to dominate the revenue generated through the rich oil resources.
Nigerian students. The considerable changes which Shell have made arenâ€&#x;t the means they use to dominate control of natural reserves but instead are becoming far more efficient in concealing their involvement in the volatile state by directly targeting the educated youth.
â€œSadly, the exploitation of underdeveloped countries by western economies through the means of multinational oil companies has become a reoccurring process which has established its place within history.â€?.
as Shell because the grip that they exercise over public life allows them to maintain control over the natural resources in the region. Sadly, the exploitation of underdeveloped There seems to be an countries by western econoactive discouragement of the mies through the means of Nigerian government to live up to its responsibility to pro- multinational oil companies vide many basic rights for the has become a reoccurring Although the military 70 per cent of the Nigerian process which has established leadership which once domiits place within history. As people who live below the nated Nigeria has ceased, Shell long as wealthy western poverty line. Simply put, still possesses a strong hold profit for a select few has been economies have continued over Nigerian decision making. placed ahead of the peoples' investment interests in oil reThey have made one of the serves in underdeveloped need. Nigeria is an underdelargest foreign direct investveloped, oil rich, country with countries, this cyclical procment proposals in Africa with corrupt governance, social un- ess is destined to continue and an eight billion proposal in the rest and unstable economic the poor will remain poor so investment of natural gas as the rich can stay rich. policies. Yet these factors well as the establishment of usually remain irrelevant to various scholarship schemes to multinational companies such
Political Reform: Luke Dineen puts forward his proposals for a reform the Irish political system.
By Luke Dineen
If the current crisis has revealed anything over the last two years, it has been the woeful inadequacy of our national parliament to hold the government to account for its horrendous mismanagement of our economy. Our entire political system is structured to ensure that the executive of the day remains unaccountable. Electoral reform will change nothing, nor will gender quotas. Although I am sympathetic to both, each are akin to using a broom to sweep away the stench of the Augean stables of Ancient Greek mythology. Much more fundamental change is needed. Reforming the relationship between government and parliament, and ultimately parliament and the people will substantially reduce the likelihood of us sleepwalking into another crisis in 10 years time.
The most insidious way in which the government is able to ensure its own unaccount-
“Sadly, the exploitation of underdeveloped countries by western economies through the means of multinational oil companies has become a reoccurring process which has established its place within history.”.
ability is through the party whip system. A constitutional amendment should be incorporated that prohibits any interference with the exercise by deputies of their conscientious, autonomous decision on any vote in parliament. This would destroy the deleterious influence of party oligarchs and give ordinary parliamentarians a real say in political proceedings. Another idea is the introduction of a device known as a „decisive minority‟. This would allow a minority in parliament (about a third) to insist on an inquiry and/or a debate on any matter, without guillotine. To those who claim that these measures would undermine a government‟s ability to legislate for its own agenda, my answer is that we live in a democracy, not an autocracy.
A genuinely reformed Seanad www.labouryouth.ie
The Next Steps can play an integral part of a functional Oireachtas. But this can only happen if the upper house is empowered, and given an identity distinct from the Dáil, to provide one of those „checks and balances‟ so missing from our current system. A reformed Seanad must be fully elected from a list system using the European parliamentary constituencies, and done so separately from a general election. More crucially, it should be given some form of veto (without which the Seanad will forever remain a redundant institution) over government legislation.
In no other democracy are the legislative and executive branches of government so fused as they are in Ireland. The notion that competent government ministers can be drawn from such a tiny pool of politicians is as absurd as it sounds. The Taoiseach should be able to appoint people from outside politics with genuine expertise in their field to become cabinet ministers, with the Dáil being able to accept or reject the nomination of anyone to ministerial office.
A transparent budgetary system
to replace the current archaic political theatre is now needed more than ever given the perilous state of the public finances. Never again should any future government be allowed to so criminally mismanage the peoples‟ money the way Fianna Fáil has done. The Dáil must be given a meaningful role into the allocation of the state‟s finances instead of the mere rubberstamp it possesses now. Thus quarterly exchequer reports and a draft budget in advance of the real thing should be presented to it by the government and debated thoroughly.
those of you who consider this to be a proposal so radical that only in Switzerland could it work, the Free State constitution of 1922 contained similar elements before the right wing Cumman na nGaedheal government abolished them.
If only some of the proposals I have outlined were implemented it would be significant, but if all of them were, then it would be a democratic revolution considering But most importantly, if the the painfully inert nature people are to have faith in future of Irish politics. The govIrish political discourse then ernment would truly be they must be consulted on a accountable to parliaregular basis. Direct democracy ment, and parliament is the only way to ensure that truly accountable to the sovereign authority ultimately people, whose authority rests with the people, not a po- would be unquestionable. litical elite. Deputies should be For the first time since subject to recall by their conthe foundation of the stituents for any wrongdoing state, the Irish people and citizens‟ initiatives should would have some sense be sacrosanct. With sufficient of ownership over our signatures, the public could be destiny. It is time we reable to force a plebiscite on any claim that sense of beissue it demands (constitutional longing, which was broor otherwise), and its outcome ken so long ago. must be legally binding. For
Irish Neutrality : sentiment rather than any high principles, and we must question whether or not it still has relevance. If we define neutrality in terms of total non-involvement in international affairs, it is hard to see what the point of being an independent country By Osal Kelly would be, as the ability to have a foreign policy defines a state as independent rather than autonomous. Even a reBy Osal Kelly laxed definition allowing for Osal Kelly considers the time a foreign policy but not war has come for a re-assessment is problematic: we can hardly reject violence on a of Ireland‟s neutrality. basis of principle as virtually In Ireland, especially at the everyone agrees that it can present time, we can have a be justified in self-defence; tendency to be insular, thinksurely were we ever in a ing about ourselves first and situation where we had to regarding relations with the defend ourselves, we would rest of the world as an afterhope that others would help thought. Whilst this attitude us, so it follows that we may have been understandshould be willing to help able in times past, there can others defend themselves, be no place for it in today‟s too. interdependent world, where An active foreign policy we cannot go it alone, and would be beneficial to us, in must rely on others for our that it would enhance our insurvival (as we‟ve discovered to our cost). Our foreign fluence in the world. It is abpolicy has long been defined surd to suggest we are too by neutrality. This really has small to be influential: England is barely larger than Ireits genesis in anti-British Page 8
land, and they were the most powerful country in the world for much of the 19th century. To be influential need not entail getting caught up in wars; on the contrary, a decision not to go to war would be influential. Currently, as a neutral nation, our non-involvement in wars is taken for granted and therefore has no influence; were we to abandon our neutrality, people would take note if we choose to stay out of a war - indeed, we would be more likely to influence other countries to stay out as well. As regards past wars, our participation in the Second World War would undoubtedly have benefited both Ireland‟s status in the world, and Ireland as an island. In 1940, Britain offered a re-united Ireland in exchange for Irish support in the war, and it is an offer which we should take very seriously: much of our scepticism is owed to the passage of time, and the fact that we have grown used to partition, but the situation was different back then: partition was relatively www.labouryouth.ie
Time for a Rethink?
new, and, therefore, more easily reversible. Furthermore, the fact the offer was made at all was a major departure for a man like Churchill who was anything but sympathetic to Irish nationalism, and so gives us reason to take it seriously. The real reason why it was spurned was not a fear that the British were insincere, as is shown by the fact that de Valera, according to the Dominions Secretary Malcolm MacDonald‟s recollection, refused to guarantee Irish support even if a United Ireland was delivered. Clinging to our neutrality during the war could well have cost us our hopes of Irish unity, leading to a legacy of division, violence and bloodshed which is still very much raw.
“If we define neutrality in terms of total non-involvement in international affairs, it is hard to see what the point of being an independent country would be, as the ability to have a foreign policy defines a state as independent rather than autonomous”.
An active Irish foreign policy would benefit not just us but also the world as a whole. Our neutrality is a major stumbling-block for the EU‟s common foreign and security policy; were we to set it aside, the EU might be able to develop a united security policy, and act as a counterbalance to the unhealthy power currently enjoyed by America. It would also prevent unilateral military action on the part of member states, such as when countries like Britain and Spain participated in the illegal invasion of Iraq. An active foreign policy would also enable us to participate in just, UNsponsored interventions. The
appalling genocides in countries like Rwanda and Cambodia, which spiralled out of control as the world stood by, show what the devastating cost of inaction can be. However, it is not just a question of war, but also of peace: Norway has played an exemplary role in mediation and conflict resolution in Sri Lanka and Israel-Palestine, and it could be argued this was because of not in spite of its NATO membership: as a NATO member it is listened to and taken more seriously, and the same would apply to us were to embrace an active foreign policy. The time has come to reassess our neutrality, and to consider the ways in which an active foreign policy would benefit both Ireland and the world as a whole.
By Andrew Halligan
Andrew Halligan offers an argument for reforming the Seanad rather than straightforward abolition.
through local and European elections half way through a Dรกil term has little effect on a national level. However, a Seanad with some power could make things a little tougher, and a lot more democratic. Such a power would most likely be a veto, if a bill is comprehensively voted down by Senators. This would be a vast improvement on the current Seanad, which has the potency of Bertie Ahern after ten pints of bass.
The current Seanad has been a disgrace for some There are some fundamental time, so that suggests that problems with the Seanad, money is one of the main but few are beyond repair. driving forces behind the For example, the introducrise in abolitionists. In that tion of mid-term elections, case, the actual slashing of while doing away with the wages, rather than the phoTaoiseach's picks and the ney tokenism, for TD's and NUI/Trinity-only elected Senators would save Senators, gives the elector- money. It won't get the IMF ate the chance to have their off our back, but neither say on the government of would the removal of all the day. If a week is a long money spent on the democtime in politics, then five ratic process. years must be an eternity, so Reforming Ireland's democa worthwhile upper house ratic practices musts surely can ensure the will of the include the loosening of the people is done. A backlash whip system. Ireland is a Page 10
very diverse country, and divisive bills can set the city boys against the country siders, like the stag hunting bill. When these contentious bills occur, the will of constituents must be respected, and punishing someone for listening to the wishes of their constituents by removing the party whip is wrong. The whip system is another reason the Seanad needs to be reformed for purpose, as it is a major contributing factor in the government being able to push through whatever it wishes. The issue of the Seanad is not as clear cut as the abolitionists would have you think. The option of reform is not only viable, but could play an important role in actually reforming politics in Ireland, as opposed to the slash and burn policy of Fine Gael. Everyone agrees that the current Seanad is not fit for any purpose, but abolishing it and cutting twenty-odd TD's does not constitute political reform.
Reform or Abolition?
By Conor Quirke
tion of power within the government gives Ireland two ineffectual Houses. It would be better to have one reformed house with a system more similar to those in mainland “Tradition is nothing but a colEurope than to try to reform lection of bad habits”, accordunnecessary second ing to Oscar Wilde, and when the house. Ireland gained its independIt is said by the Seence from Britain it took with it warts and all the Westmin- anad‟s apologists that there is ster Tradition. One of the main more debate in the Upper aspects of this is an Upper House. This is more because House, in Britain this was sup- of the problems that afflict the posed to represent the aristoc- Dáil than of any special fearacy and over the past ninety tures in the Seanad. In the years Ireland has struggled to find a purpose for our own up- “To try to reform the Seanad or to per house. get rid of it without major reform
Conor Quirke gives his reasons why he believes the Seanad should be scrapped.
It is this rather than the of the other institutions of Parliament and Government would be undemocratic nature of the Sethe equivalent of rearranging the anad that is the main problem furniture on the Titanic”. when it comes to reform. The Dáil is the main legislative power in the State and it itself Western European parliamentary system there is more emhas its own share of problems. phasis on consensus decisions The adversarial system of parliament and huge concentra-
and committees are more important than the plenary sessions of parliament. The State of Nebraska has a legislature that is both unicameral and non-partisan. There are no front benches, no whips and individual members vote not on the basis of party affiliation but on individual conscious. To try to reform the Seanad or to get rid of it without major reform of the other institutions of Parliament and Government would be the equivalent of rearranging the furniture on the Titanic. The Seanad is merely a symptom of the vast problems that afflict our political culture. Reform of the upper house will not bring about a democratic renewal; the reforms need to go much further and deeper than that. The Seanad should go, but it will only be a beginning.
Fact and Fiction: Debunking FF Spin
By Peter Kelleher Peter Kelleher counters some of the fiction that Fianna Fáil spinners relish to spread about the Labour Party. Since Labour has enjoyed consistent support around mid 20% and a poll rating of 35% over the summer, Fianna Fáil feel threatened and scared. Not for the country or for people like you and me but for their seats. In response, Fianna Fáil slandered Labour in a desperate attempt to save face with the voters. This article is will address some of the fiction that Fianna Fáil seems to enjoy so much to spread and to inform you about the facts of the Labour Party. FF Fiction #1: Labour has no policies. Fact: Labour has published 47 policy documents since 2007 and 26 Private Members Bills. These documents have been based on a wide range of issues such as the banks, climate change, tourism, rural affairs and education. Fianna Fáil‟s usual tactic of brushing Labour aside with lies has failed once again. FF Fiction #2: They (Labour) oppose any form of student contribution at third level, yet they refuse to say how our third level sector should be funded into the future. Fact: It is true that we oppose student contributions towards third
level education; however, Labour TD‟s have said consistently that third level education should be funded through progressive taxes, meaning those who can pay more, should pay more. This puts no one single taxpayer under a heavy burden and puts every student on an equal footing, regardless of their financial background.
FF Fiction #4: All of the Government‟s actions revolve around creating growth and generating jobs. Getting people back to work is the driving force of our entire economic strategy. For the Labour Party to suggest that we are not interested in tackling unemployment is simply ridiculous. It shows that Eamon Gilmore and his colleagues are more FF Fiction #3: The Labour Party has interested in scoring cheap political refused to say where it stands on the points than addressing the reality of (Croke Park) deal. Despite declaring the situation. that he is ready to be the next Taoiseach Eamon Gilmore has failed to Fact: Firstly, Labour has put forshow any leadership on this issue. ward a number of ideas on job creation. For example, the party has been Fact: This is more about the picture calling for increased infrastructure that Fianna Fáil is trying to paint than spending for the last two and a half the actual statement. Fianna Fáil is years. Secondly, any time 50 or 100 trying to make Labour appear indeci- jobs are created, Brian Cowen or sive but this stance was taken by Ea- some other Fianna Fáiler is there for mon Gilmore to allow the unions to the photo op. Sounds like they‟re decide if the Croke Park deal was the “more interested in scoring cheap best deal for their respective mem- political points than addressing the bers. Some have voted for it and reality of the situation” to me… some have voted against it. On the slur against Eamon Gilmore‟s leadership, I‟ll ask this: If he had Fianna Fáil have muddied the waters come out in favour of the deal, would too often. Labour has the policies nobody have said he was selling out and the leadership to lead governpublic sector workers? If he had ment and sort out the mess Fianna come out against it, would nobody Fáil got us into. have said he was taking advantage of the sour relationship this Government has with the public sector unions? I doubt it.
The Tea and Toast Revolution Dan explained that the aim of the site is quite straight forward. He claims „that Irish political discussion is lacking direction and a serious analysis of how democrats should work together in creating a good society. In opening up debate, the website hopes to influence people to engage with politics and stir things up.‟ „The nature of political publications has changed.‟ Dan says. „In the past it took a great deal of organisation and money to create a well known magazine or paper. Now all it takes is a minimal amount of capital, a bit of imagination and a network of interested people to launch a solid political project.‟
Jason Cullen interviews Dan O’ Neill, Editor and cofounder of the political website www.teaandtoast.ie Teaandtoast.ie was founded to spark and liven up political debate in Ireland. It features articles by people from all walks of life, all age groups and political traditions with an emphasis on building a fairer, more democratic and more sustainable country. The website is not affiliated to any political party or group and has no explicit political positions on individual issues. It encourages debate to allow people to have their voices heard and to help them to shape public opinion. Labour Party member Dan O‟ Neill is one of the cofounders and the editor of the new website.
Commenting on the nature of the project, Dan exclaims that, „They say that the beauty in the staple foods of bread and water is that they can so easily become tea and toast. Likewise a simple idea thought up in a cafe amongst friends can become an interesting adventure which is creating space for regular people to have a voice when it comes to politics. The beauty of the idea is in its simplicity and www.teaandtoast.ie is a simple project involving over 50 regular contributors and receiving over 3000 unique hits per week.‟ Dan notes that people in general are becoming disillusioned with being just spectators when it comes to politics. „People are fed up of listening to the same voices discuss issues in the same way again and again in the media. This kind of website creates a forum so badly needed in Ireland for political discussion because for too long we have had a political system
“This kind of website creates a forum so badly needed in Ireland for political discussion because for too long we have had a political system that is closed to many”. that is closed to many. In most cases, the only time people engage directly with politics is in the ballot box. People are tired of that.‟ The website uses social media to build up a readership for itself and is fully integrated with Facebook and Twitter. „The beauty of a collaborative website like Tea and Toast is that nowadays everybody is on Facebook.‟ „If someone writes an article, they might put it up on their Facebook wall. Then, their friends visit the site and word spreads.‟ The group want as many people as possible to contact them with ideas for contributions. Any subject with a political slant is likely to be taken and the site even has plans to publish a short, humorous play about politics in the near future. www.teaandtoast.ie has been online for the past 4 months and had its official launch party in the Corner Stone pub on the 4th of January. Anyone who would like to contribute to the website or find out more can visit the web address or email email@example.com
The migration muddle around 170 countries in the world
the UN day against racism on the 21st
each with there own unique system,
the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
some albeit only slightly, it is very
(MRCI) produced a leaflet on the facts
easy to fall victim of unforeseen ir-
about migrant workers in Ireland. In the
regularities between countries.
summary of their leaflet they say that “in the same way that Irish people have
From increased immigration into our
emigrated, migrant workers from differ-
country during the boom years to the
ent countries have come to Ireland to
increased emigration of young people
live, work and raise their families” and
from our shores today, migration of
that “migration will continue to be a
people and their rights when migrat-
feature of Irish life, now and into the
Thomas D‟Alton dissects the
ing is of key importance in the glob-
future.” The need for such a leaflet was
problem of migration in the context of
alisation of societies and economies.
defined in the context that “throughout
Ireland‟s current economic woes.
In recent times the Central Statistics
history, migration has been accompa-
Office (CSO) showed levels for the
nied by fears and negative myths and
year April 2009 to 2010 of emigra-
misinformation about newcomers” and
The movement of people has always
tion in Ireland show an increase in
since “many people do not have access
proved challenging, but sometimes
Irish nationals emigrating and a de-
to clear, accurate information about mi-
necessary due reduced economic op-
crease in non nationals and a net emi-
grant workers; when left unchallenged,
portunities, armed conflicts in volatile
gration increase from 7800 to 34,500.
misinformation leads to prejudice, ra-
regions, and political disputes and
One of the resulting factors from an
cism, discrimination and inequality.”
human rights violations in unstable
increase in emigration, especially of
Needless to say that we in Ireland could
and changing societies. The first ex-
younger people, is the potential lack
do better to inform ourselves and as we
plorers were free to come and go as
of economic capacity for the provi-
celebrate our own national saint's day
they pleased with the dangers biased
sion of the elderly in society which
on the 17th of March I hope we can do
towards the journey itself. In today's
the CSO gave as exceeding half a
so in the spirit of inclusion as a growing
modern age of transport getting to
million at the end of April 2010.
part of our national identity.
where you want to go is compara-
Though this may be offset by the
tively very easy. With this, however,
continued population increase that
While a nations people's treatment of
has come the restrictions and controls
may be mitigated by the extended life
migrants can be negative, so too can
that each country exercises on people
expectancy with advances in the
their government's attitude through its
going to and from there. These may
laws, procedures and policies. This can
By Thomas D’Alton
not seem as dangerous as the perils of
be done on a national and international
risking your life travelling long ago,
One particular aspect of migration is
basis. To this end the Global Progres-
but there are real dangers and risks
the treatment and attitude of nation-
sive Forum (GPF), in an article on mi-
present due to a lack of pertinent and
als toward migrants. On the 15th of
gration, set out their agenda in order to
clear information available to people.
March 2010 as part of the European
ensure a freer movement of people
When you consider that there are
Network Against Racism (ENAR)
around the world. They stated that their
Ireland's week of activities around
“ main challenge is to put people first on
their organisations to increase participation in problem solving and to use “gender analysis as a tool to develop pro-women development initiatives”. Continuing on from the global objectives to the national level the focus remains on female migrants. The national objectives involve informing and educating women intending to migrate as to their rights in the country they're going to, to give training to migrant communities to promote awareness the migration agenda, both in the coun-
be necessarily capable of provisioning
try of origin and of destination, through
for a population increase. The second
the recognition and strengthening of the
objective acknowledges the need for
rights of migrants” and in addition to
migration in ageing societies, Japan
this to undertake a process of “ integrat-
being a prime example, and that a full
ing the issue of migration fully into the
and active approach is needed to ad-
global and national development, eco-
dress “he root causes of migration
nomic, employment, social and security
(poverty, conflict, demographic and
agendas, as well as ensuring greater
economic factors), the connection with
policy coherence between these agendas
development, rights and employment,
and between the stakeholders involved:
as well as the justice and security di-
governments, the business, international
mensions.” The third objective is to
organisations, trade unions, NGOs, civil
specifically deal with the root causes of
society and the migrants themselves.”
migration splitting different factors into what 'pushes' people from a country and
The GPF's has five global objectives.
what 'pulls' people to a country.
The first envisages an international policy to fully coordinate the security and legal policies of different countries in order to manage a sustainable flow of migration that is in the best interests of the countries themselves. This is ambitious but needed to address the day to day realities of mass migration to countries due to globalisation that may not
Since the GPF puts a particular focus on women migrants due to them making up a large percentage of migrants the fourth and fifth global objectives are given this focus. The fourth looks to allocate resources in origin and destination countries for specific programmes focused on women. The fifth objective
of issues impacting on the lives of women in their community in the new country, and “treating formerly trafficked women as victims rather than illegal immigrants in countries of destination and granting them rights to asylum and legal protection.” In summary, we ought to treat migrant workers as we would like to be treated if we were the migrant workers. Being aware of our rights in other countries that we may wish or need to emigrate to is important and more so for female migrants. However equally important is the political and social responsibility that exists for us to ensure that we are aware of the rights of immigrants coming to our country, and that we strive as a nation to afford them a comprehensive and coherent set of rights, privileges and justice that upholds their dignity and assists their assimilation into society.
seeks to work with female migrant and
The Death Penalty port within pockets of society to remain in place as a disputed but practiced method of criminal punishment.
By Orla Hubbard
Orla Hubbard takes a look at the use of capital punishment worldwide and comments on the continuing trend of abolitionism versus a persistent core support.
Historically, capital punishment has been practiced in virtually every society. Today, it is actively practiced by 58 nations, with 95 countries abolishing it, and the remainder allowing it only in exceptional circumstances, such as wartime. Only five developed counties have retained the death penalty, but with the industrialisation of Asia this group is set to grow.
Worldwide, the death penalty is far more prevalent than one may think. In fact, over 60% of the world's population live in Capital punishment is a countries where executions take place. The four most populous source of extreme controversy nations in the world, China, Inin today's world. Most liberal dia, United States and Indonesia, societies see it as being a barbaric, and ultimately futile, vio- all apply the death penalty. It is important to remember that in lation of human rights. Howmany developing countries, parever its supporters are equally strong in their conviction that it ticularly those under authoritarian provides closure for the families regimes, capital punishment is of victims and is a just punish- used as a tool of political oppresment for the crime committed. sion. As long as these governments condone it, it doesn't need There has been a worldwide trend towards its abolition over public support. several decades, and speculaDespite the relatively widetion about when it will be abol- spread use of the practice, it is ished completely. However it is true that during the last 40 years worth considering whether the there has been a trend towards death penalty is indeed on its the abolition of capital punishway out after a slow downward ment around the world. A good spiral, or if it has enough sup-
example of this was seen during the 1980s, when the democratisation of Latin America swelled the ranks of abolitionist countries. Continuing the trend of abolition, The European Union and Council of Europe have made the abolition of the death penalty during times of peace a requirement for membership. This encouraged Turkey in May 2004 to amend its constitution in order to remove capital punishment in all circumstances, so that it could move towards accession of the EU. On the whole this seems like it should leave opponents of the death penalty triumphant, and expectant of universal abolition which must surely be well on its way, albeit slowly. But do these small steps mean that we can realistically expect the practice to be discontinued worldwide? Abolition is normally adopted due to political change, or mass change of public opinion due to some external factor. Public opinion is moulded from both media coverage and the opinions voiced by influential figures. There are four main arguments which influence public opinion; The first is that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to would-be criminals. Ernest van den Haag, a Professor of Juriswww.labouryouth.ie
On its way out, or here to stay? prudence, wrote: â€œExecution of those who have committed heinous murders may deter only one murder per year. If it does, it seems quite warranted." On the other side of the argument are the statistics that most murders are committed in moments of passion and anger, or while intoxicated, when the accused is unlikely to be deterred by rationally exploring the possible consequences of their actions. The second argument is that the death penalty acts as the only fair method of retribution for the crime. The District Attorney for Oklahoma City believes that "For justice to prevail, some killers just need to die." Opponents of the death penalty counter this by arguing that it is impossible to teach that killing is wrong by killing. The third argument is that the death penalty carries the risk of executing an innocent person. Since 1973, for every seven people executed in America, they released one person on death row who never should have been convicted. If a car manufacturer operated with similar failure rates, it would be run out of business. The counter argument is that the need for reform is not a reason to abolish the death penalty. The Senate found the risk of executing an innocent person in the US
to be 'minimal'. According to Paul Cassell, a Professor of Law in Utah, "The mistaken release of guilty murderers should be of far greater concern than the ... mistaken execution of an innocent person."
the strength of the arguments and counter arguments from each side. It is clearly so controversial and so divisive because each side of the fence are equally strong in their convictions, and have the support of influential people and organisations to sway and hold public opinFourthly and finally, is the argument forwarded by the ion. This brings us back to the President of PUSH, a coalition question of whether or not capital punishment can realistically be said opposing the death penalty, claiming that it is discrimina- to be on its way out. tory in its application. He says It seems to be a practice that the lack of objective, measur- there will always be a degree of able standards as to when the support for, due to human emotions death penalty should be sought like grief and vengeance. But it is or applied, ensures that it will up to the leaders in society to probe discriminatory against cer- mote a higher level of conscience tain groups. On the retention- and an insurmountable respect for alist side is the repetition of human life if they hope to achieve the view that the existence of abolition. From the strength and some systemic problems is no conviction of the supporters' argureason to abandon the whole ments, it looks likely to be a long death penalty system. The US and mucky road ahead for aboliSupreme Court held that sta- tionists. tistical studies on race by themselves were an insufficient basis for overturning the death penalty. The most striking aspect of the debate on abolition is
By Declan Meenagh
The Internet (capital I) is the system which you pay to access, it‟s publicly available and things like the web and email run on it. Your Internet Service provider (ISP), like Eircom or Vodafone, is the smallest network you connect to. You pay them to connect to the Internet. In the same way, companies pay to upload things on the internet, things like YouTube, Flickr and Facebook. In turn, they pay a bigger ISP to connect all their users to the Internet. And so we have the Internet, a global network of networks.
I think it‟s clear that to build a knowledge economy we need an open Internet, one where you can freely choose which information source to use, and where you have the fastest possible connection to the Internet. The threat:
Let‟s make a theoretical example. Imagine if an electronics company Net Neutrality and the made a deal with your electricity Threat to an Open Internet provider to only let you use electricConference passed a motion in ity on their products. This would be support of net neutrality, but unfair. What if you had to pay extra The Internet is serious business what is it about? for electricity you could use on what The Internet provides access to in- ever product you want. What if the formation on government, educaproduct makers had to pay so their tion, communication, health, all of products would run on your electricBackground: which are basic human rights. The ity? This additional cost would be First of all, let‟s talk about the Irish government needs to improve passed onto the user. internet, this is the simplified broadband infrastructure in the version, there‟s loads of recountry. sources about the Internet on But in reality, you pay for electricity the Internet if you want more by unit, which is the amount of elecinformation. Originally, the Labour MEP Alan Kelly said that tricity you use, and you can use it to Internet was designed as a like Finland, Ireland should make power a toaster from company A, a computer system which could access to broadband a universal cooker from company B and a comwithstand nuclear attack. For right. This makes so much sense. puter from company C. This is how this reason the whole thing was You can‟t build a knowledge econthe internet works at the moment. decentralised. Not long after omy without proper broadband. You pay for access to the internet that, it was realised that this and can use Facebook, Twitter or could be used for academic research, and it was opened first Labour has a great tourism policy, even Bebo. You can watch the RTE player, or YouTube or Vimeo. You to all of America, then graduand this relies on broadband. It can read the Guardian, the Irish ally to the entire world. A suggests tourism smart phone apps, CERN scientist, Sir Tim Bern- activity specific portal websites like times, the Daily Mail or the Sun. This is why a guy in a garage can ers Lee, developed the World surf Ireland and helping hotels and start a small company to share vidWide Web, a set of hyperlinked attractions to go online. eos, and sell it for 2 Billion dollars, documents on the internet. The and give everyone on the internet the web is part of the Internet, and many internets make up the The internet will facilitate job crea- tools to make their own TV station. Internet. tion. Behind every website or ser- This is YouTube. vice are highly trained engineers, sales staff, managers and lots more. The internet has endless possibiliThe word internet was shortThese are all graduates and these ened from internetwork, which jobs are clearly part of a knowledge ties. You can find information about any topic, you can exchange ideas means a network of networks. economy. with people from all over the world,
and can express yourself in new ways. You can very easily have an idea, and put it online, either keeping it as a hobby, or turning it into a massive business, either way reaching millions of users. I don‟t exaggerate when I say that the Internet is one of humanities greatest achievements. ISPs argue that it‟s expensive to transfer videos from YouTube to your computer, but this is rubbish, you paid to access the full Internet, and YouTube, and all the other publishers, paid their ISP to serve videos on the Internet. It‟s just greedy, money grabbing companies who don‟t care about their customers and are double charging.
Google made earlier in the year. This is an issue on which the EU is developing policy, and it‟s something we need to watch carefully. Some ISPs offer services like video, music or news. We need to make sure they don‟t prioritise these services and slow down or block competing services.
What needs to happen: The Irish government needs to make it illegal for an ISP to accept money to prioritise web traffic, and we should work on it at an European level. Small businesses shouldn‟t have to pay this unjust tax to hundreds of ISPs around the world to serve content to their users. Our economic recovery requires a fast and open Internet, where companies can serve users all over the world without having to pay tolls.
The biggest issue with the proposed rules is that they don‟t apply to mobile internet at all. If such rules were implemented in Ireland then a lot of rural internet users would be denied access to a free and open For more information about internet. this, see the Lifehacker article “An Introduction to Net Neutrality: What It Is, What It Since the disastrous sale of eircom in Already, mobile companies are Means for You, and What the 90s, it was asset stripped and left plotting ways to charge customers extra for accessing services, look up You Can Do About It to rot. This means we can‟t build a Wired and the article “Mobile Car- [Explainer]”, and if you have proper broadband network, and we riers Dream of Charging per Page”. any questions, I‟m on twitter: can‟t force eircom to put users first. @dagda and my email is This sale put Irish broadband back 10 There‟s a leaked slideshow which firstname.lastname@example.org shows a chart where users have to years. Recently, the FCC in America published some rules for net neutrality, but they don‟t go far enough. They are based on a suggestion which
pay extra to access YouTube, Skype and Facebook on mobile internet.
Palestine : An activist’s experience
By Adam Fulham top site that was within view of Gaza. We were quickly moved Adam Fullham writes about his own experience in Israel in Pales- away from the area by soldiers who claimed that a military operation tine and why he feels internawas taking place; 3 civilians intional boycott is the only solution. cluding a 91 year old man were Last September, I was a member killed by an Israeli tank in Gaza of a political delegation sent by that night. Labour Youth to Israel and PalesIn Palestine, we spent most of our tine. The trip, which lasted 2 nights in the „Hebron Hostel Hotel‟ weeks, took us from the likes of in East Jerusalem. It was here that Sderot in Israel to the Jordan Valwe came across holy landmarks ley in Palestine. In Israel, we also like the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the visited Tel Aviv, the Negev Desert and West Jerusalem. Sderot is Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I an Israeli city which is less than a considered praying for my family at the Wailing Wall but, as an agmile from Gaza. It has been the nostic, I felt it would be like talking target of Palestinian Rocket Atto a wall. tacks which, between 2001 and 2008, killed 13 and wounded doz- We encountered the separation wall ens of Israelis. Despite their very and passed a checkpoint crossing inaccurate aim, the homemade for the first time when we went to projectiles have caused millions Nablus in the West Bank. On the of dollars in damage and many same day, we passed another buildings in Sderot are fortified. checkpoint guarded by Israeli solWhenever a rocket is seen being diers who were joking that our fired from Gaza an air-raid siren passports would end up being used is triggered. in a Dubai assassination. While in Sderot we met with an Israeli group who led us to a hill-
Well. We think they were joking.
In Ramallah we met with Fatah. While there we came across a 12 year old Arab American whose family had returned to Palestine from New Orleans after the disaster there in 2005. We also visited Deisha Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and got tear gassed during a peaceful demonstration in the village of Bil'in, where close to 60% of the land has been annexed by Israel for settlements and for the construction of the separation wall. However, Hebron was the most shocking experience of the tour. It's a Palestinian City where Israeli settlers (500 protected by 2,000 soldiers) walk around with machine guns. Shuhada Street, once home to a thriving marketplace, is the main road that connects the western part of Hebron to the eastern part. It is today a desolate and often empty settler-only street which is closed off to Palestinians, even though Palestinian houses line up along the street. These houses, which have had their doors welded shut, are home to residents who must www.labouryouth.ie
use the rooftops as a means of exiting and entering their homes. Every one of the welded doors has been painted over with the Star of David by fanatic settlers. There was a lane where settlers had taken over the second-floor buildings nets were put up between the first and second floors by Palestinians as the settlers kept throwing garbage onto people outside. While there we were stopped by Israeli soldiers every minute and weren't allowed to take any photos. All this in Hebron. A Palestinian city. Why boycott is the answer
Our get-togethers with nonreligious Jews in Israel made clear that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a 'Jewish-Muslim conflict'. It is an 'Arab-Israeli conflictâ€&#x; - a dispute over land and not religion. Israel's ridiculous demands of a future Palestinian state mean peace will not be coming to the region any time soon. At the Camp David Summit in 2000, Israel proposed dividing Palestinian territory into 4 separate cantons entirely surrounded by, and therefore controlled, by Israel. The Camp David Proposal also denied Palestinians control over their own borders, airspace and water resources while legitimising and expanding illegal Israeli settlements (colonies) in Palestinian territory.
It was great to see a world so different to Ireland and to talk with Israeli and Palestinian people. The cuisine was a particular delight... I ate hummus every day - I guess you could call me a humFurthermore, Israel's refusal to musexual. comply with international law and the failure of last year's peace neBut when it comes to politics, the trip was an eye-opening encounter; this was gotiations are big reasons why I think a Third Intifada is inevitable. rarely a happy experience. My visits to Indeed, the talks were always Bethlehem, Bil'in and, in particular, Hebron have convinced me that Israel is doomed when Palestine was being represented by a body that had no most definitely a racist, apartheid state. democratic mandate. The construcIts occupation of Palestine, refusal to comply with international law and con- tion of the apartheid wall and growing size of the settler populastant backing by the United States makes clear that boycott is the only an- tion (500,000 people) makes the swer. International boycotts work, they possibility of a viable two-state solution lessen with every passing were what helped end apartheid in day. Factors like this made me South Africa. wonder... The trip showed me how little a role religion plays in this conflict. We met with Christian and even Atheist Palestinian activists whose religious beliefs had no effect on their place in society.
What about a one-state solution?
Be the Government in Waiting of positively wanting an election and the anger is growing as the date gets pushed further back into early spring and now late spring – by the Greens as well as Fianna Fáil.
By Susan O’ Keefe
Labour candidate in Sligo North Leitrim shares her insights on the upcoming general election. I tell this tale from my experience on the doors in the last three months. Being totally new – one of the handful people with zero political baggage – I started in September. It was strange at first because people wondered why I was there as there was no talk of an election. As the weeks slipped by, people became more engaged with the idea of a new government especially when the Greens announced the end of the Government and the prospect of an election in early 2011. As we now know, the Greens were just throwing their toys out of the pram and have changed their minds since then. Unfortunately for them, the public has moved into a position
ple will give us a chance when we give them the evidence that we can ring some real changes, not just the faces and the names.
And for those starting out – It doesn‟t matter too much which like me – on your very first week it is; what matters is this. campaign – I have found the People – that‟s the voters – that following resources useful in I‟ve met - don‟t want to hear us building a positive confident complaining about how bad things message. Take the best bits are, about how rotten this Govern- of the party‟s Budget maniment is, how cowardly the Greens festo. Read up on Universal are, how corrupt the bankers are, Health Insurance and the Strahow disgraceful NAMA is or how tegic Investment Bank. Rethe bailout is the end of our indemember the Private Members pendence – or any of the myriad of Bill on reform of government other problems or complaints that and public administration, isare washing around the system. sued in November. Read the They are exhausted from listening National Recovery Plan so to them. you know where the holes are. Talk to LEADER, FAS, IDA, They don‟t want Utopian-style Enterprise Ireland, Failte Irepromises either. What they are land - whoever - about what keen to hear is sensible explanations of how this country might be is happening about jobs and inward investment where you rebuilt. They want to hear about our strengths. They like a couple of are. simple plans or ideas, particularly And that‟s just for starters. I know I have nothing to comif they have a local implication. They smile if you come up with a pare this election with; that fresh idea that is grounded in some has its advantages and disadreality, that connects with their life vantages but the voter in me feels keenly that the desire for or their place of work. change is real but the articulaAnd especially they want the Lation of that change – well bour Party to lead, to speak like the that‟s up to us – the party and „Government in waiting‟, to rethe candidates. Certainly, havspond to each new crisis with com- ing the gravitas of the petent suggestions and solutions. „government in waiting‟ will They are tired of criticism because be very powerful on the doorit‟s on the radio all day and it saps steps because it‟s real and it‟s energy and is unproductive. Peo- what people want. www.labouryouth.ie
Poetry: The Poisoning by Michael D. Higgins Alone with you
By Liam Duffy The inclusion of poetry in the Left-tribune, seeks to highlight the continuing legacy of The Left, Politics, Poetry and Ireland. All contributions are welcome and feedback appreciated; send to: Lmtduffy@gmail.com Michael D Higgins‟ poems have been published in several Poetry Journals, including the New Irish Writing, Céide, Salmon Poetry Journal, Poetry Ireland, and Aishling. He has also published 4 collections; Betrayal, The Season of Fire, An Arid Season and his most recent book is Causes for Concern.
The Poisoning by Michael D. Higgins
And it is no melancholy now
They ran past furze bushes,
In memory I impose, my father,
That in another time,
On your response.
You sought to clear
I respect your anger
And, in much later years
At an act of cruelty
Past my escape to lecture halls,
Born out of a neighbour‟s spite,
I saw you in Clym Yeobright,
Know the abuse of such proximity
Bent to the side of a hill,
As authored this act
Tearing roots to make a clearance,
That left two dogs
That would not last.
Sharers of your intimacy Writhing in an agony
And for a moment now in memory,
Before a death
I must become my father,
That sparked anew
Recall that on the day he returned
A great despair
There was no sign of tears,
At all that you had lost.
But anger on his face
And now for me at a distance
His dogs had died.
In a strange space
And why should the writhing and the turning,
Lectures on community ring hollow
Invocations to cooperation
In a slow death,
Make a dead echo
From a neighbour‟s poison,
Insufficient for the erasing
Is it the fate of sons
Such is the stuff of rural intimacies,
To become their father
Of this terrible act.
Never to be forgotten.
And in that fate
This stuff of rural intimacies
Should never be forgotten.
Now sinks the sun in burning red, And comes the night with shadows dark.
In moments lit by the senses
True grief requires that truth be told
The night is long and I afraid,
Making way who knows in time
Of grief and loss?
For such an amnesty among neighbours
And put a question now in fear,
As would make a truce in space and time
Is it the fate of sons
When now I look and gaze
Where proximity offers no choice
To be their father,
At black and brown and great white chest
Suggests instead a lying amnesia
And do old wounds reopen when
At amber dotted eyes and head
To hide a neighbourly violence.
Space and time make even
Of my great friend
The crippling ends of life
Who placed his total trust
For, if the truth be told,
In us who watched
I must recall
As memory tears the cover
His racing quest to catch
Of those wounds that will not heal.
A scent of stranger or elusive fox
That it was in the autumn years of your hopeless life,
And when time has robbed us
Across the fields you did not own
Of our time together I recall
But yet had made familiar
An older story that will not, should not die.
You walked in silence.
Your National Youth Executive National Chairperson — Colm Lawless
International Officer—Mike Spring
As National Chairperson, Colm is responsible for the smooth running of Labour Youth as a whole, along with acting as the public face of the organization. He is also a member of the Executive Board of the Labour Party.
As International Officer, Mike is responsible for representing the organization at European level and beyond.
Vice Chair/Campaigns— Conor Ryan
Communications Officer— Mick Reynolds
As National Vice Chair and Campaigns Officer, Conor is primarily responsible for the formation and execution of Labour Youth National Campaigns. She also acts as Chair of the organization in Colm’s absence.
As National Communications Officer, Mick is the Chief Editor of the Left Tribune, and Chairperson of the Left Tribune Editorial Board. He is also responsible for managing the overall design strategy, and online presence of the organization.
National Secretary — Martin O’ Prey
Ed & Policy — Dean Duke
As National Secretary, Martin is responsible for taking minutes at all Labour Youth events, and at NYE meetings. He is also responsible for correspondence, accounts and fundraising.
As Education and Policy Officer, Dean is responsible for drafting Labour Youth Policy Documents, researching prospective Policy Positions, LY Political Training and Chairing the Policy Working Group.
Recruitment Officer — Darren Bates
Youth & Development—Neil Ward
As National Recruitment Officer, Darren is responsible for the recruitment and retention of new members. He is also the primary coordinator for the National Recruitment Campaign. He is currently Labour Youth’s representative on the Central Council of the Labour Party.
As Youth & Development Officer, Neil is the Labour Party Staff Member responsible for the administration of Labour Youth. He is also a non-voting member of the NYE. Email: email@example.com
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