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Ireland 2040: Exposing Varadkar’s spin
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Varadkar’s “Let Them Eat Cake” Ireland
By manus lenihan
expensive... there are rents available at a fraction of the cost quoted on the headline figures.” a look at daft.ie shows that this is nonsense, but for D’arcy, the “issue” appears to be that we’re not looking hard enough.
Fine Gael’s michael noonan thinks that the phrase “vulture fund” is “a compliment.” not many people would like to be compared to a bird of prey that feasts on corpses. The ghoulish noonan would, though, “because vultures, you know, carry out a very good service in the ecology. They clean up dead animals that are littered across the landscape.”
Richie Boucher’s twisted logic
Mitt’s fund so in noonan’s imagination the residents of leeside apartments in Cork are nothing but “dead animals.” Bain Capital, the multi-billion dollar hedge fund owned by stinking rich us politician mitt Romney, is just “cleaning up the landscape” by evicting all the tenants.
Jobpath The unemployed, too, are served up as a feast for the carrion-birds. Jobpath is a scheme in which private companies get shovelfuls of public money for harassing and threatening unemployed people. seetec and Turas nua get €84 million in public money just to sit you down in front of a computer and take your dole away if you don’t play along with the charade. They only find full-time work for 18% of people – but don’t worry. The carrion-crows get paid their registration fee for everyone they harass. if they end up in full-time work, there’s a bonus!
We’ll finish with a rare treat: a wealthy middle-aged man generously sharing his thoughts on young people. Richie Boucher, former head of Bank of ireland, says that young people “have great choice in life and that is brilliant… and if you think about people's jobs, it's not a job for life… a lot of people are much more internationally flexible.” The rich can sleep at night with
Privatised harrassment paid by the tax-payer Government’s outsourcing of harrassing the unemployed
Some advisor The housing minister has hired a new advisor, developer michael O’Flynn. We can confidently say that this is a man who knows a thing or two about housing. he could give valuable advice on how to get into €1.8 billion of debt to nama. Or how to live on €200,000 per year of public money, while taking helicopter rides and attending Fine Gael fundraisers. But most likely he’s there to tell the government how to help developers and landlords make even more money from the housing crisis.
Aren’t you lucky? Conor skehan, head of the housing agency, has advice for homeless people: count
your blessings, because at least we don’t have trailer parks like in the usa. no, we just have emergency accommodation, prefabs and cold doorways. This is the same guy who warned that homeless families were “gaming the system” and wants everyone to accept that homelessness is “normal.”
easy consciences, because this is the way they talk about emigration, precarious work and being priced out of housing. Boucher advises young people to buy houses. Thanks, we never thought of that! he admits that “for a long time you might be a slave to your mortgage,” but “if you are renting, you will always be a slave to someone.” There’s your “choice”: mortgage or rent – both of which he straight-up describes as slavery! if you choose not to sleep on the street, then you get to choose what way Richie and his banker and developer mates will gouge you. you get to choose which predator to feed – that’s the “freedom” you enjoy in the landscape of irish capitalism today.
Housing: Look harder! let’s hear michael D’arcy TD’s take on housing in Dublin: “There is a rental issue, but…” let’s stop you right there, mike. There is not a “rental issue”. There is a housing emergency. But it gets worse: “… but there are also areas where renting isn’t as
Banker Richie Boucher cynically promotes insecurity as ‘opportu nity’
Welcome to the “Republic of Precarity” By Oisín Kelly
oung people are more and more faced with temporary contracts, unpaid internships, low and insecure hours, agency work and part time work. There has been an explosion in precarious work in recent years as employers seek to reduce the cost of labour. Growing precarity Since 2008 there has been a reduction of 110,000 workers in full time employment. In the same time we have seen an explosion in various forms of precarious work. 7% of workers in the State are in temporary employment. Half of those in temporary work are doing so as they are unable to secure full time work. This is a rise of 179% in involuntary temporary employment since 2008. In "recovery" Ireland nearly a quarter of all workers, 456,000 people, are working part-time. The rapid growth in precarious work is seen in particular sectors of the economy and among particular groups of the workforce. 60% of all precarious work is done by workers under 30 years of age. 2015 figures show that a majority of women workers are in non full-
time work. Forty four percent of women are part-time and 29% are in temporary work. The growth in precarious work practices is seen in particular in hospitality, care work and construction sectors. Impact on workers Precarious work has a major negative effect on workers. Young workers are unable to secure mortgages or move out of their parents' home due to a lack of secure income or a sufficient income to pay rent. There is a detrimental effect on physical and mental health. Workers with low hours or 'if and when' contracts are unable to plan a social life or family life due to changing work patterns. The inability to be certain about housing or other bills is a major ongoing worry for those in precarious work. Bogus self-employment is also a feature of precarious work. At present about 12% of workers are self-employed but with no employees. Many employers use bogus self-employment to avoid paying PRSI or paying a minimum wage. Bogus self-employment exists extensively in construction, but has spread into other sectors such as take away food delivery
and airline staff. The use of bogus self-employment has seen industrial action by Deliveroo staff in Britain and also in Ryanair among pilots. Solidarity and Socialist Party TDs and will be introducing the Prohibition of Bogus Self Employment Bill to outlaw this practice. Under this Bill there would be compensation for workers who report being subjected to bogus self-employment. The need to organise Capitalism sees workers as just another expense. Employers will use whatever methods they can to reduce pay and conditions of workers, including unpaid internships, two tier pay, bogus self employment, low hours contracts, temporary agency workers, and part time contracts. The growth in precarious work is very much linked with a neo-liberal ideology. The idea is that employers are completely free to hire and fire workers and workers are meant to value being so 'flexible'. When workers get organised they can win. Late last year we saw anti-union employer Ryanair forced into recognising unions and making some concessions. In the public sector thousands of special
needs assistants (SNAs) have unionised to take on low pay and insecurity in work. Precarious work is not a new phenomenon. Complete flexibility in the ability to hire someone was a practice that was opposed by trade unionists such as James Connolly
and James Larkin just over 100 years ago. It is crucial that the unions today fight to end precarious work. Women and young workers are particularly affected and can be central to building fighting trade unions that will end precarious work.
Mortgage holders on the chopping block
By Linda Schuetz
ermanenT TSB is planning to sell €3.7 billion worth of residential mortgages in distress -- most likely to vulture funds. The people who will be affected are those unable to pay the massive mortgages they have on their own home and 14,000 out of the 18,000 properties are occupied by their owners. The families affected would join the long line of people waiting for social housing or decent emergency accommodation, and may end up sleeping in cars, with relatives, in tents or on the streets. If Permanent TSB, which is 75 % owned by the state, would evict people and repossess the homes there would be a public outcry. From PTSB’s point of view, the unsustainable mortgages need to be sold off to someone else who will do the dirty work of evicting people. Vulture funds step in The most likely buyers are vulture funds – unregulated international investment players, that are also in the news for mercilessly preying on developing countries in crisis. The funds have a massive interest in buying up distressed mortgages because after evicting current
occupiers they can sell property on at a massive profit – considering the current exorbitant property prices. The news of the planned sale has rightly caused a political earthquake which sent the spin doctors in overdrive – from the bank trying to smear the mortgages holders as irresponsible, to the Taoiseach pledges of support, and Fianna Fáil coming to their rescue. But after the bank bailout and the sale of NAMA properties to vulture funds at a knock down price, the allegiance of the entire political establishment to the developers and banks is clear. Following pressure from the European Central Bank, others like Ulster and AIB will also try to sell off mortgages in distress. The banks were bailed out with a considerable amount of our money, and very little was paid back; in the case of Permanent TSB only of €1.3 billion of the €4 billion bailout was returned. money Fundamentally banks were bailed out through a programme of vicious austerity. What kind of banking system? Banks are powerful institutions and their role in the economy is central – and regulating them to avoid new bubbles and crashes won’t work. In addition, the money
no sell off to Vulture funds
Solidarity TDs and councillors highlight the PTSB scandal
that banks use to speculate are mainly out of the savings and pensions of ordinary working people. For all these reasons we need to ask who owns the banks and who should make the decisions. We need a banking system that is permanently in democratic public ownership and taken fully out of private hands. Evictions should be banned. Mortgage rates for all loans should be reduced to reflect
Solidarity’s plan for investing in housing needs
the actual value of the homes, it is the bondholders, not working class taxpayers, who should take a hit on any losses that are made. A state-owned banking system would be transparent and accountable with elected representatives from workers in the banks, a left socialist government and the broader working class, instead of managers and board members with big bonuses and salaries. This
would end competition between banks and such a system would see an end to banks being run for profit. Its vast resources would be used to develop the infrastructure, social and affordable housing, public services and the wealth producing manufacturing base of the economy instead of being utilised to facilitate the speculation and profiteering of vulture funds and the 1%.
Skyrocketing rents, depressed wages
By Catherine Harty
he criSiS has been allowed to unfold because of the government’s refusal to acknowledge the capitalist market’s inability to deliver housing. This refusal comes from their support for the profit driven system and a disconnect from the lived everyday reality of working class people. Solidarity and the Socialist party has demanded investment in social and affordable housing to tackle this crisis. Throughout Ireland young people are unable to move out of their parents’ home or are forced to return there. Tenants live in fear of rent increase or the notice to leave, couch surfers move from friend to family in fear of exhausting goodwill. Others live in vans, tents, garages, hotels, hostels, B&Bs, hubs, anything but homes. Many can barely afford to pay mortgages on houses that were sold to them at vastly inflated prices. Social and affordable homes Solidarity’s fully costed Old Whitechurch Road plan is an effort to deal with this crisis in Cork City. The city council owns a 22.5hectare site, which is zoned for housing. They plan to sell the land to private developers; the money from the sale would be used to pay off the €30 million debt incurred by buying this land at peak price just before the crash. Instead Solidarity demands the government write off the debt and not Cork City council instead builds a 50/50 mix of social and affordable housing.
By Shane Finnan
Solidarity has spearheaded the calls for building public housing
This proposal is for 800 units – 600 houses and 200 apartments. The mortgages would be genuinely affordable, linked to people’s wages and managed by the local authority. Rental from the social housing would be used for upkeep and provision of amenities for all the community. The area would have crèches, community resources and sporting facilities managed by the council and local residents who would be fairly paid for their efforts. Need not profit This will encourage residents to socialise and feel a sense of belong-
ing. There would be no costs involved with added extra layers of bureaucracy and profit extraction. The Kilbarry railway station is proposed to be re-opened. The emphasis will be on public transport that is affordable and reliable. Provision for safe walking and cycling is an essential component, ensuring a healthy and safer community. Housing should be for people to live in, not a speculative asset. The market’s only drive is to maximise profit, it has no remit or desire to satisfy even the most basic of human needs, one of the most essential being a place to call home.
Leo Varadkar likes to speak of a “republic of opportunity”, but what exists in Ireland for many young people is a republic of Precarity. everyday life is becoming more and more of a struggle as social and economic inequality deepens. This is clearly illustrated by the contrast between wageincreases and rent-increases that result in diminishing living standards for many people today. Mandate, the union that represents low paid retail workers, recently reported that "The national median disposable, net or after-tax wage has increased by just under 8% since 2012 (now at €2,087 per month approx.) whilst the take home pay of a full-time minimum wage worker has
increased by about 10% (now at €1,490)." 60% rent rise Side by side with this in this period there has been an astronomical 60% rise in average rents across the country and 40% growth in asking prices for residential properties. This has especially, but not exclusively, hit Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Any talk of "opportunity" is devoid of truth for working class people today . What real opportunity do workers and the young have to enjoy their lives with increasing financial stress and real wages are depressed? Workers need to get organized politically and industrially to fight for higher wages and challenge the logic that housing is provided for profit.
The economy: Precarious, neo-liberal growth fuels inequality
By Paul Murphy TD
riSh houSeholdS have 'never been better off'” the irish blared independent headline on 8 January 2018, citing an iBec economic review. a major propaganda drive is underway to suggest that the ‘good times’ are back and that the crisis of capitalism in ireland over the past decade was nothing more than a blip away from the ‘celtic Tiger’ norm. Growing inequality Behind the bloated headline figures, a consequence of Ireland's role as a tax haven for multinational corporations, what is actually happening is limited and extremely unequal economic growth. The crisis was utilised by the Troika and Irish government to implement structural adjustment-type policies, which have seen a further embedding of neo-liberalism. Rather than economic growth serving to give deep political stability to Irish capitalism, the resulting deepening inequality can become a catalyst for workers and young people fighting back and drawing far-reaching conclusions about society. The good news story in Ireland contrasted sharply with the fourth fastest fall in the history of the Dow Jones when stock markets plummeted in February! The immediate cause of the crash appears to have been figures indicating moderate wage growth in the US together
12% of workers are now self-employed with no employees
with the looming end of extremely low interest rates. The fact that such a collapse could be precipated by workers' wages rising slightly is a damning indictment of a system built on exploitation. It also underlines the very weak nature of the recovery underway in the world economy. Benefits not to be seen Behind the headline figures of GDP growth of 4.8% in Ireland in 2017 lies a much smaller increase of personal consumption of 1.7%, showing that depressed wages are cut-
ting the market for goods and services. Even that growth is extremely uneven – primarily between the captialist class and working class, but also between small sectors of relatively well paid workers in the multinational finance, pharmaceutical and technology sectors, and the majority of workers in the indigenous and services sectors. The most striking illustration of the deepening of neo-liberalism is seen in relation to employment conditions, where precarity is becoming more widespread, with intensity of work also increasing
across the economy. This insecure, uncertain or unpredictable work takes multiple forms, from 'bogus self-employment' to the widespread existence of zero hour or 'if and when' contract workers. A recent ICTU report, Insecure and Uncertain: Precarity in the Republic of Ireland highlighted how 8% of workers' hours vary considerably from week to week or month to month, while 12% of workers are now self-employed with no employees. Almost a quarter of all employees are now part-time.
Young people in Ireland 2018 Potential & expectations drastically unfulfilled time for studying which in turn means higher dropout rates. This is compounded with only limited support from the state in the form of grants etc. Only 32% of students receive grants or benefits. Education is treated like a luxury and therefore not accessible for all.
By Monika Janas IreLaNd haS the youngest population of the eU, with people under the age of 25 making up a third of it. The lives of these young people have been shaped by the economic crisis and a recovery built on inequality that preceded it. aspirations that were once taken for granted have become unattainable; moving out from your parents’ homes, secure and regular working hours, not working through college and a job with decent pay and conditions. The expectations of young people are clashing with the reality of a ruthless and failing capitalist system that has created the housing crisis, more barriers to access to third level education and increasing work precariousness. They are part of the first generation in centuries whose living standards will be worse than that of the generation before. education as a luxury The truth is that working class young people are put at a disadvantage by the system from the very beginning and are not given
Only 32% of students receive grants or benefits
the same opportunities as their wealthier peers, leaving their potential unfulfilled. There is a huge class divide in the number of school leavers that progress to college in different areas. For example 90% of school leavers from Donnybrook attend third level compared to 16% from Darndale. This shows
enormous inequality that is propagated by the education system, as teachers in poorer schools are more likely to be overworked and have less time for each student. Working class college students are also more likely to have to work during term. This translates to significantly less
a precarious existence The jobs that young people have now tend to be more precarious and worse paid. Almost half of those aged 18-29 are working on “non-standard” contracts, meaning hours aren’t guaranteed and can be cut at a moment’s notice. This is on top of employers being able to pay their young employees less simply because of their age. This precarity affects one’s ability to plan one’s life and get a loan if needed, resulting in an economic insecurity that has serious consequences for the lives of young people. The number of adults living with their parents is also increasing, now as high as 1 in 4. The natural thirst for independence cannot be met. With the ever-rising prices of rent and property, the current housing crisis means that there are very few prospects
Threats to Irish capitalism The most immediate economic threat to Irish capitalism in an unstable world is Brexit. A recent study produced by Copenhagen Economics predicted a loss of GDP by 2030 of between 2.8% and 7%, depending on the nature of Brexit. It will be working-class people who will be made to price for such an economic fallout through job losses, cuts to wages and attacks on conditions. The fact that Ireland's tax haven status is increasingly under threat is another concern for the capitalist class. There is a growing global race to the bottom in corporation tax rates as shown recently by Trump’s tax cutting policies, as the capitalist system tries to further maximise profit at the expense of public services. The European Commission wants this resolved, as capitalist competition means it does not want to give an economic advantage to US companies like Apple who have engaged in sweetheart tax deals with successive Irish governments. The norm of capitalism in Ireland is one of deepening neoliberal policies that is accelerating the transfer of wealth from ordinary working-class people to big business, developers and the banks. This reality is not preparing a basis for economic and political stability, but for explosions that will put the question of the building an anti-capitalist and socialist movement of workers, women and young people on the agenda.
Born into austerity dressed up as prosperity Spare us your pity and penneys best
Spare us your 0 hour contracts and advised 8 hours of rest Spare us your cries of mollycoddled millennials and sheltered snowflakes
Spare us the guilt trip for the daily 12 and shaming “Heartbreak” -- Extract from "Murky Waters" by school student and spoken word artist Natalya O'Flaherty
for young people. The insatiable hunger for greed that pushes the neo-liberal agenda, means that the dreams and aspirations of young people can never be realised under the present system of capitalism. The only thing on the cards for young people is increasing wealth inequality, as the rich get richer. In fact, as the system continues to fail, the lives of young people will be put at more and more of a disadvantage to protect profits and drive down wages.
The campaign around the project is blatant propaganda for the Varadkar regime
By Kevin McLoughlin
roJecT ireland 2040, the latest in a series of national development plans signposted since the 1980s, was launched to a huge fanfare. headlines howled, radios echoed and television spread illusions of €116 billion to be spent and of how ireland is to be a better place to live. This plan is different than previous ones in that it extends over a longer period, which basically allows claims to be made that there will be more projects than previous ones. This government wants to claim credit and convert it into votes.
Spin machine The way this plan was announced smacked of the first shot in a long election campaign, with Varadkar attempting to steal the advantage, using the benefit of being in office. He wants to engage in auction politics extraordinaire, but to stop others from doing the same. He said if anyone wants other projects included they must say which of the proposed ones are dropped, which would be an act of political suicide. The launch immediately provoked a controversy over abuse of public funds for political purposes, that the government was making direct political capital from functions it should be undertaking in
any case. What would you expect? Though it’s clear that with his new Strategic Communications Unit, Varadkar is attempting to have a propaganda machine at the heart of the government and state. What capitalism won’t deliver Were the actual contents of the plan implemented, many of the proposals would improve things but making Ireland a fundamentally better place to live it will not. There are high profile “bells and whistles” projects but there is not a systematic or extensive development of affordable public housing or the type of modern transport, health or educational systems people urgently require.
There is a target to increase capital investment, but not dramatically. Varadkar's “put up or shut up” challenge mentioned earlier, indicates this plan will operate within strict fiscal spending limits. A modern infrastructure, with good public services can only be delivered by substantial public investment, and Ireland's low tax regime and neo-liberal capitalist policy make that impossible. Instead this plan will be a recipe for the private sector profiteering at the expense of the tax payer through over charging and publicprivate partnerships. The promises are also made on the baseless assumption that there will be no interruption of economic growth, no new crises. When capitalist crises do come, as they will, projects will be jettisoned or dropped quietly.
Project Ireland 2040: Why Varadkar’s spin won’t deliver
What kind of plan? We require a real national development plan that provides infrastructure and proper public services in all parts of the country in an environmentally sustainable way. That can only be developed and paid for if the wealth in society is not left in the hand of the few and wasted, but is used productively in an economic plan geared towards people's needs not profits. This requires public ownership, under the democratic control of working-class people, of the financial institutions and companies that dominate the economy. One critic of the spin said, “To suggest it was a Pravda takeover and the Government was dictating the news, that was carrying it a bit far.” We agree, Pravda means truth and there's little enough truth coming from Varadkar's Strategic Communications Unit.
Leo “Thatcher”: The fuel snatcher IN The context of plummeting temperatures at the end of February, Varadkar attacked any suggestion that the annual fuel allowance be increased saying: "No government can offer a blank cheque to anyone" and that it would "send out the wrong message", i.e. people may actually start demanding that their basic needs are provided for. It’s times like this where the class nature of society becomes glaringly obvious. Many working-class families around the country worry about keeping the heating on and food on the table while Varadkar and the capitalist establishment show nothing but cold (in every sense of the term) contempt towards them.
Drought, rising temperature, flooding...
The catastrophic impact of climate change people will be disrupted and devastated by extreme weather events. Another recent study predicts a 50 fold increase in the number of extreme weather related deaths from 3,000 a year to 150,000. Inaction on both climate change adaptation and prevention has ripple effects beyond the immediate tragic deaths and infrastructure destroyed. When hundreds of millions are needed for repair and rebuilding -- damages from Storm Ophelia alone were between €500800 million -- it costs our communities in starved public services.
By Jess Spear
roughT, heaT waves, and flooding will increase across all european cities over the coming century according to a new study examining the impact of climate change on cities. With over 75% of the population of the eu living in cities, these results reinforce a growing body of evidence pointing towards the necessity of comprehensive planning and adaptation. Considering the foot-dragging, fumbling capitalist politicians in charge, the study also underscores the vital importance of new mass movements and left parties that advance more far-reaching and radical policies to avert utter catastrophe. 'More than one hazard' Every single city the research team investigated is expected to get hotter over the next 50-100 years. In addition, there are significant regional changes shown by the data, with southern Europe projected the see most drought, central Europe the hottest average increase in temperature (upwards of 14°C higher), and northwest Europe, Ireland and Britain in particular, the most flooding. Dublin, Cork, Waterford, and Derry were among the cities expected to be
Ireland will experience more extreme floods due to climate change
worst hit by increased flood frequency and severity. One of the key findings of the study was the compounding effect on cities hit by multiple climate impacts. In fact, over 100 cities are vulnerable to two or more hazards,
and the authors conclude this “is likely to be beyond breaking point in many cases”. What kind of future? In reality the changes projected will mean the lives of millions of
extreme weather events From the destructive floods in Donegal and Cork to Storm Ophelia, extreme weather events are the bellwethers to the calamitous future we face if things are left as they are. This new study clearly illustrates how an unstable and destructive climate will overwhelm our communities. The empty rhetoric about commitments given at Paris in 2015 will not protect us. Action is needed now. The data are clear. Climate change is coming faster and with more intensity than we anticipated. We need to urgently invest in the necessary infrastructure to protect coastal communities and
ensure our cities are resilient. At minimum, 80% of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to give us the best chance of avoiding climate catastrophe. The remainder must be used to rapidly transform society to run on renewable energy and guarantee a just transition for all. Challenging capitalism In the last weeks, a bill to ban all new oil and gas exploration licenses introduced by Solidarity-People Before Profit put the issue squarely to the parties of the capitalist establishment. Under pressure, they were forced to allow the bill through second stage, but will likely seek to leave it languishing in committee, without ever becoming law. Collective action and the building of mass movements can rein in the fossil fuel giants and force the ban on new exploration to become law. United in our thousands and millions, we also have the power and interest to challenge and break with this for-profit capitalist system that breeds environmental destruction. A democratic socialist society, organised and democratically planned to meet the needs and desires of the great majority, not the profits of the few, would clear the way to finally attain ecological sustainability.
AS THE Dail is debating the legislation to provide for a referendum on the 25 May, an historic two months for those who want to see bodily autonomy is opening up, writes KATIA HANCKE. Not only do we have the opportunity to remove the odious article 40.3.3 from the constitution, we can win real abortion access for women and trans people in this state.
fTer YearS of building momentum towards this, the entire pro-choice movement should savour it as a huge opportunity to deliver real and tangible progressive change and to deliver another blow to the influence of conservative forces and the catholic church in this state. Grassroots movement won a referendum In the next few weeks, establishment politicians from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour will be clamouring over each other to claim the glory of finally “granting” us a referendum. Ironically, these are the same people who as recently as 18 months ago claimed that “there was no appetite for change” (Joan Burton speaking against Solidarity's Repeal Bill in Oct 2016). Let's make sure the real history of how we got to this point is not lost: this referendum was won because of the groundswell of public opinion against Ireland's outdated anti-abortion laws that are simply not fit for purpose. A new generation came out onto the streets after Savita's death five years ago to say “never again”. Since then, momentum has grown and grown to the point that a referendum became inevitable. We must draw a crucial lesson from this; it will be an active pro-choice campaign from below of women, young and LGBTQ people, community and workplace activist that will key to building a movement that can win this referendum and abortion rights.
Marriage equality Lessons Just three years ago, people in Ireland voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality. This was despite a vicious campaign by right wing homophobic, conservative forces and a weak argument by the official What won that referendum was a massive response, led by Yes votes as big as 90% in working class areas such as Coolock and Jobstown, to an active grassroots campaign of young people. A new generation went out to talk to their parents and grandparents, neighbours and workmates,and convinced them that it was time to throw off the shackles of a conservative establishment and their discrimination against LGBT people. They convinced a significant majority of the population of a vision of a more tolerant, progressive society and send a message to the conservative forces that their time is gone. It was this gumption of an uncompromising grassroots youth movement that led to victory. Is repeal alone enough? While “Repeal” has undoubtedly become the battle cry of this new movement, what it symbolises is much more than just taking one article out of the constitution. For a new generation at the heart of this movement it stands for abortion rights, for bodily autonomy, for a struggle for equality for all irrespective of gender and sexuality. Contrast with that the cynical use of Repeal by politicians like Coveney,
who say they support Repeal but are comfortable with little or no real change in terms of actual access to abortion after that. Already, some in FG and FF are mooting that 12 weeks may need to be reduced – to 10 weeks, or even less.The only way to stop that happening is by achieving the strongest possible Yes vote, not just for Repeal, but linked with that with support for access up to 12 weeks on request as a minimum. 12 weeks has to be an integral part of the repeal campaign Opinion polls have long indicated that a significant majority of people are in favour of not just Repeal, but of a much more liberal abortion regime, including up to 12 weeks on request. Abortion up to 12 weeks would cater for at least 92% of
Get active with ROSA’s YES campaign: In 2018, you can be part of making history. You can join a grassroots movement of women, LGBTQ and young people, community and workplace activists. So we can win repeal and abortion rights. The political establishment has finally given in to the pressure from the pro-choice movement. We have won a repeal referendum ROSA spearheaded civil disobedience with the abortion pills. In 2016 five pregnant people a day had safe medical abortion with pills. The reality of abortion happening in Ireland can no longer be ignored. Even by conservative politicians that still pander to the Catholic Church. The abortion pills were key to the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th amendment recommending abortion up to 12 weeks on request . Politicians like Simon Coveney have said they will not support 12 weeks on request. Opinion polls have shown that 60% support this proposal- the public are a way ahead of the political establishment A grassroots, Pro-Choice Yes Campaign can convince the majority to vote to endorse abortion rights. We need a successful Yes campaign that explains and advocates the need for 12 weeks on request. This will mean that politicians like
women in Ireland currently accessing abortion. This combined with abortion on health grounds and for fatal foetal abnormality would mean real change. The latest opinion polls show a narrowing of the figures. That is no surprise, in the context of an agressive anti-choice campaign abusing people's legimitate distrust of the establishment and a change in the nature of the questions asked – rather than asking people if they support the Citizens' Assembly recommendations, now words such as “abortion regime” are being bandied around. The anti-choice brigade will make the prospect of legislation for up to 12 weeks on request the key discussion in their arguments. That makes it all the more important that we explain upfront and clearly to
people why legislation that will make a tangible difference to the reality of abortion in Ireland is crucial. When we use the facts as outlined in the CA and the Oireachtas Committee, we can be confident we can win over a significant majority to the need for real abortion access that provides for the huge majority of women who make the decision to terminate a pregnancy. A youthful, grassroots movement that doesn't shy away from the issue at the heart of this referendum – prochoice arguments – can win a strong majority and can force the establishment politicians to deliver on their promise of progressive legislation. We need to be confident in the knowledge that this is our time when we get organised for choice, we can win!
Time4Choice Coveney and the conservative Dáil will have to support this proposal. Pressure from below won us a referendum, only an active movement will guarantee real abortion access From Repeal, to trans rights, to #MeToo,. Be part of a growing global revolt. ROSA – the socialist feminist movement, stands against all oppression, inequality and the rule of the 1%. The Ireland of the anti-choice brigade gave us the slavery of poor women in Magdlene Laundries, the mass graves of Mother and Baby Homes, the torturous practice of Symphysiotomy, and a contraception ban. That was their time it’s our time now. Be part of making history in 2018 – join ROSA’s YES campaign – #Time4Choice For repeal and 12 weeks on request– for abortion rights, for bodily autonomy, for freedom & equality!
Text “JOIN” + your name & area to 087 299 54 84 @rosawomen ROSAwomen2014
By Grace Gageby
Why we need a socialist feminist movement
By Keishia Taylor
T ThiS critical moment in the fight for abortion rights in ireland, the importance of a prochoice socialist feminist struggle has never been greater. The energy, youthfulness and popularity of the fight for repeal has forced a referendum onto the agenda and has been effective in highlighting the vast gulf between the backward capitalist establishment and the majority of irish society, as proved by the citizens’ assembly and opinion polls which have shown 60% for 12 weeks on request. However, this must be coupled with the recognition that repeal should not be fought as a single issue. Instead, the power of this youthful mass movement should be harnessed by a socialist feminist organisation, such as ROSA, to bring about real change. The centrality of class in the issue of abortion (notoriously denied by
Varadkar) is crystal clear, as working-class and migrant women, whose options to travel for abortion are restricted, continue to suffer as a result of the Eighth Amendment and denial of abortion rights. Further, the oppression of women and LGBT people is inextricably connected with capitalism and its rendering of women as sexless mothers, caregivers and unpaid domestic labourers within a nuclear family unit, the 'ideal' family unit in capitalist society. Therefore, the liberation of women and bodily autonomy cannot be fully realised without a break from the current system. Global attacks on abortion rights This is painfully evident in the global attacks on women’s reproductive rights, healthcare and safety, from the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the Global Gag Rule in the USA, to the decriminalisation of domestic abuse in Russia, for example. Recent events have proved yet again that when
rights and freedoms are won through struggle, while capitalism remains, they will continue to be vulnerable to attack, and must be continuously defended against the elites who seek to dismantle them for the sake of profit and power. In the Irish context, the churchstate alliance of Irish capitalism is unlikely to deviate from its track record of perpetrating violence against the working class, and particularly women. A struggle of all of the oppressed and working classes united against the establishment is necessary to challenge these capitalist power structures, end oppression and build a socialist alternative. With the repeal referendum on the horizon, the role of a socialist feminist organisation such as ROSA is essential to secure a pro-choice alternative to the Eighth Amendment, mobilise repeal activists around socialist principles and progress towards a society where our rights and freedoms are realised.
The #MeToo movement has gained traction internationally against a backdrop of a growing revolt against sexual violence and macho culture. From the women’s marches against Trump, the Ni Una Menos movement throughout Latin america, and the ubiquitous nature of the ‘Times Up’ slogan, the issue of gender-based violence can no longer be ignored. In Ireland specifically, the recent court case where rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been accused of sexual assault in Belfast all highlight how deeply ingrained rape culture is in the State. This can be seen in the invasive media coverage, misogynistic text messages of the accused and outrageous line of questioning taken by the defence barrister Teaching consent To truly challenge rape culture, the issue of consent must be a widely taught topic from a young age, as part of an LGBT inclusive, secular sex education programme in all schools. Currently in Ireland, primary and secondary schools are required to allocate 30 minutes weekly to Social and Personal Health Education (SPHE), with sex education making up just one part of this. Research recently conducted in the University of Bristol (which concluded that sex education in Ireland and other European countries needed to be overhauled) reported young women in the classroom feared harassment if they participated in the class, the approach to sex was overly ‘scientific’, and the classes were not inclusive of LGBT students, with the assumption being that all the students were cis and straight. Church domination The focus on moralistic lectures and the dogma of the Catholic Church completely ignores the need to discuss consent as an essential part of any sexual activity. In a world where one in five women, and one in seven men who experience rape or intimate partner violence experience it first between the ages of 11 and
17, consent should be a core focus of SPHE education, beginning in primary school. It is vital that young people are taught about consent, so it is clear nobody has a right to their body, just as they do not have a right to anyone else’s body, sexual partners included. As well as this, young people should be fully informed about contraception and the various different merits and drawbacks to each method, to allow teenagers to make informed decisions about preventing crisis pregnancies. Currently in Ireland, 90% of primary schools are controlled by the Catholic Church, and sex education is required to reflect the Catholic ethos. Therefore, some schools opt for ‘abstinence only’ models, using scare tactics, and leaving young people at risk of crisis pregnancies or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). As well as this, groups such as Youth Defence still advertise that they will deliver anti-choice talks in schools, and Pure in Heart teaches heterosexual marriage as the only acceptable form of relationship. What is needed Even in multi denominational schools, Catholic marriage counselling service, Accord, is paid to teach sex education. This organisation point-blank refuses to answer questions about LGBT relationships. This alienation of, and discrimination against LGBT students emphasises the need to separate Church and State for real equality and an end to rigid heteronormativity. We need proper sex education, based on fact and science, not religious ethos. Ongoing discussions about consent are essential to tackling unhealthy or abusive relationships. We need to end a culture of machismo, victim blaming and misogyny. It is essential that a culture of mutual respect is fostered, in which everyone’s boundaries are respected. We need to equip young people with the knowledge to protect themselves from crisis pregnancies: something the antichoice brigade in the upcoming referendum on repeal have no interest in doing. We need a complete separation of Church and State and full equality for women and LGBT people.
how a yeS campaign can win repeal & abortion rights
Why sex education needs to be overhauled
Parkland massacre & gun violence in the us
By Conor Payne
n feBruarY 14, 17 people were murdered in a mass shooting in a high school in parkland, florida. incredibly this is the 17th school shooting so far in 2018. according to the gun Violence archive, a mass shooting takes place in the uS on average 9 out of every 10 days. Incidents like the Parkland shooting are always accompanied by calls for action on gun violence, usually ignored by a political establishment bought by the arms industry lobby. However, in this case, survivors themselves have spoken out, challenging the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the politicians they fund. Young people take action The stand of the students has sparked protests nationally, with a national school walkout called for 14 March, a protest in Washington D.C. on 24 March and a national day of action on 20 April. Their anger and the strength of their criticisms has had an important effect on the political debate. One poll shows support for stricter gun control measures at 69%, up from 52% last October.
Even Trump has accepted the need for some gun control measures (at least in words)! A movement of young people with concrete demands for action on gun violence could be a very positive development which puts the corporate politicians on the backfoot. The actions in March and April should be supported by unions representing teachers and others who work in schools. The inaction of the political establishment on guns is not primarily explained by public opinion. The NRA claims to represent ordinary working-class people who own guns, but in reality it represents the gun manufacturers who provide much of its funding. In turn they have funded more half of the current membership of the US congress. While undoubtedly fuelled in part by a reactionary, right wing ideology, it also functions as lobby for an important section of US big business with a mission to stop any policy which would disrupt their ability to make profit. Gun control The US obviously suffers from a far higher rate of gun deaths than other wealthy countries, and this is in significant measure a result of the widespread ownership of guns in
audience the fact that the police and other state forces are themselves deeply violent, with the bulk of this violence being directed against people of colour. Any attempt to remove guns already in use would necessarily mean an escalation of state repression. A movement for gun control should be linked to one for a demilitarised, unarmed police force that is democratically controlled by working-class communities.
School students across the US are demanding action on gun control
US society. Socialist Alternative, our sister party in the US, supports the core demands of the students in Parkland such as a ban on semiautomatic, military style weapons and large capacity magazines, and appropriate background checks for all gun sales. These are measures which have clear majority support,
Ahed Tamimi: Israeli State incarcerates symbol of resistance By Cillian Gillespie
eVenTeen Year old ahed Tamimi is from the palestinian village of nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank. its populace, like all palestinians in the occupied Territories, live under a regime of military rule and apartheid, being perennially subject to arrests, curfews, raids and restrictions being placed on their freedom of movement by israeli army checkpoints. The Israeli Jewish settlement, that lies adjacent to the village, plunders its land and only source of water. Attempts to resist the theft and colonisation of their land has been met with brutal repression. defying systemic injustice In December last year, the video of Ahed Tamimi slapping an Israeli soldier in the face went viral. The soldiers were preparing to raid her family home and earlier on that day her 15-year old cousin Muhammed was shot in the face when participating in protest against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and in doing recognising the latter’s annexation of occupied East Jerusalem). For this perfectly justifiable act of resistance she, alongside her mother, was arrested on 19 December and has been brought in front of an Israeli military court on 12 trumped charges. There is no justice administered in these courts; over 99% of those dragged in front of them are found guilty and imprisoned for lengthy periods. Ahed herself faces the possibility of ten years in prison. This case highlighted has not only exposed the generalised oppression meted out by the Israeli state, it has particularly drawn attention to the plight of Palestinian child prisoners. There are currently 483 Palestinian chil-
The courage of Ahed Tamimi has inspired many around the world
dren in Israeli prisons, many of whom are subject to routine torture on the part of their captors.
reminder of the aspiration of Palestinian working and young people to end Israeli colonialism.
Inspiring Ahed Tamimi’s case has gained international attention. The courageous act of a young woman defying the Israeli military machine is an inspiring one for working people, women and young people across the globe. Since her initial arrest more tragedy has been visited upon her family, her cousin 17year-old Mus’ab Firas al-Tamimi was the first Palestinian to be killed by the Israeli military in 2018 on 3 January. Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM), the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Israel/Palestine, is demanding the release of Ahed Tamimi and all Palestinian political prisoners held in the dungeons of the Israeli State. The latter is seeking to brutally crush any signs resistance to their ongoing occupation of Palestine and make an example of Ahed, whose courage has made her an international symbol of this resistance. She also is a
Break with capitalism The Israeli State’s occupation of Palestinian land can be successfully resisted. A mass uprising of the Palestinians, democratically controlled by the Palestinian masses themselves with the right to armed self-defence, can shake it to its foundations. It must be a struggle directed against the occupying forces, the settlements and the wretched collaborators in the form of the Palestinian Authority. Such a struggle can lay the basis for a region-wide revolutionary movement to defeat the oppressive capitalist regimes, including the Israeli ruling class, that dominate the region. It can appeal to the Israeli Jewish working class to join them in the struggle for a democratic socialist society, where as a result of the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism, a future of solidarity, equality and peace can be created and the national rights of all can be guaranteed.
including among many who own guns. However, we also need to recognise the limits of gun control measures. There are also dangers in demanding that the state effectively forcibly disarm people en masse. The Black Lives Matter movement has exposed to a wide
What fuels gun violence? Mass shootings are caused by multiple factors including the increasing isolation and alienation people are experiencing under neo-liberal capitalism and the effect of decades of underfunding of social services and education. Some are driven at least in part by racist, homophobic and far right ideas. A programme for tackling these killings should take all this into account in addition to demanding the necessary gun control measures. The response of the young survivors of the Parkland shooting reflects a very important change taking place in US society – a new generation of politicised young people who are unwilling to accept a rotten status quo of racism, inequality and capitalism.
international solidarity Ali Feruz freed from Russian prison
workers' movement internationally must raise awareness of this repression and demand its end.
Journalist, trade unionist and LGBT+ rights campaigner Ali Feruz has been released from prison in Russia after a sixmonth campaign of solidarity. After helping to expose brutality against gay men in Chechnya, which was tolerated by the Russian government, Ali was arrested on bogus grounds and threatened with deportation to Uzbekistan, the country of his birth where he had already suffered horrific torture at the hands of the state for highlighting government corruption. Socialist Alternative in Russia and the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) – to which the Socialist Party is affiliated – helped organise international protests to demand Ali's freedom. Finally, he has been released and he and his partner have been granted asylum in Germany.
Free Zahid Baloch Action needed!
Sudan: Mohamed Satti released Sudanese socialist Mohamed Satti was one of hundreds of activists arrested as part of a wave of government repression following protests sparked by food price hikes in the country. Initially, his family was denied the right to visit him or even to know where he was being held. Nonetheless, an international solidarity campaign spearheaded by socialists in the CWI put the regime under pressure and made it a liability to keep him imprisoned. After two weeks, Mohamed Satti was released. However, hundreds of political prisoners remain in custody. The
In Sweden, political refugee and torture survivor Zahid Baloch – a member of the Socialist Justice Party – has been arrested for breaking EU asylum regulations and is threatened with deportation. Zahid suffered horrific physical and sexual assault at the hands of the military in Pakistan, which has left him traumatised and physically ill. His case is well documented and has been discussed at the UN Human Rights Commission. Having been denied asylum in Norway, Zahid moved to Sweden where he has settled and made a life for himself, becoming active in community life. Arrested under a state clampdown on 'illegal' immigration, he is now threatened with deportation to Norway and then potentially to Pakistan, where he would face further violence or even death. Members of his family have been killed by the state and others continue to face harassment. Send messages demanding no deportation, Zahid's release and his right to asylum in Sweden to: Swedish Migration Board: migrationsverket @migrationsverket.se Swedish Minister of Migration: justitiedepartementet.registrator @regeringskansliet.se Socialist Justice Party: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Eljeer Hawkins
he TheaTrical release and tremendous hype of disney / marvel’s, Black panther, was a massive success in the united States as it broke records at the box office for a four-day opening weekend grossing $235 million and over $500 million worldwide in one week. In black communities across the US, grassroots initiatives to raise money to purchase tickets for underprivileged black and brown kids to see the film was a familiar story.
Black Panther and killmonger The film is set in a fictional subSaharan East African nation called Wakanda – unique because it was never colonised, despite the reality of African nations being exploited for resources, labour and land for decades. At the centre of Wakanda’s power is the massive wealth deposits of “vibranium ore” which fuel its technological, scientific, economic, and cultural advancements, all of which is hidden from the rest of Africa and world by the old king / Black Panther, T’Chaka. The plot revolves around the
directed by Ryan Coogler
conflict between the new king / Black Panther, T’Challa, and his estranged cousin from Oakland, KIllmonger. The introduction of Killmonger transforms Black Panther from your average Marvel entry to a conversation about birthright, ancestry, oppression, the legacy of racism and its effects on black Americans and Africans. Strategies The politics of Killmonger and T’Challa / Black Panther lead us to something of a proxy discussion about different methods to achieve black liberation.
Killmonger believes Wakanda should use its resources to lead the way in a global revolt and build its forces to be a modern-day empire. As T'Challa faces the failures of his father, the emergence of Killmonger and realities of Wakanda’s isolationist position, he must reevaluate Wakanda’s role in the world. Killmonger’s approach is to let the world burn, deploying a private army offering revolution to the masses, which is actually a form of neo-colonialism wrapped up in a radical black-nationalist veneer of freedom and justice for black people. T'Challa, outside of his Black Panther identity, will engage in philanthropic neoliberal capitalism – Oprah Winfrey-style charities that may help a few, but will not make a dent in the more profound structural problems of poverty and income inequality under capitalism – all while promoting the mythology of the benevolent monarch who will take care of his subjects as long as they know their place in life and never question or challenge power. Impact Black Panther has invoked a sense of racial and cultural pride during the dark days and nights of the Trump presidency and Wall Street domination. It has the potential to inspire many, particularly youth of colour, to learn about black and African history at home and abroad, but we must remind ourselves this is a Hollywood production that cannot answer our serious questions about how we get free.
Derry Girls: Laughter and tears of working-class life during Troubles By Courtney Robinson
T’S fair to say that the channel 4 hit derry girls, which was commissioned for a second series after its first episode, had us all in laughter and tears by the end of it. The series is set in derry, a “troubled little corner of the world” as erin puts it, with the backdrop of the Troubles. it follows a group of teenage girls and a “wee english fella” as they grapple with teenage angst and all the fun that comes along with it in the context of sectarian conflict, and is steeped in nineties nostalgia. Whilst there are of course lots of exaggerations, everyone could relate to at least one of the characters. The no-nonsense Ma who just point-blank refuses to do a half load of washing because it’s against her beliefs, Clare who is revealed as the “wee lesbian” or Granda Joe who, after having his driving license revoked, proclaimed his only crime was being born a Catholic. There’s Aunt Sarah who complains about missing sunbed appointments thanks to bomb scares and “the wee English fella” who goes to their allgirls school as his family are afraid
Critically-acclaimed comedy the most popular show ever in NI
his accent will make him a target in the Christian Brothers. The series came to a poignant end with the gang getting up on stage in school to support their friend Orla whilst she makes an absolute eejit of herself performing step aerobics to Madonna whilst the rest of the family are at home looking at the TV in horror at yet another atrocity. Writer Lisa Magee said, “I have to at some point show that there were times when it
floored you”. Whilst everyday life did go on for the vast majority of people and things like bomb scares became normalised, there were events that acted like turning points when people just said this absolutely has to come to an end – events like the murder of five Catholics in a bookies on the Ormeau Road, when workingclass people responded with protests of several thousand
strong on the Ormeau Bridge and a lunchtime rally of 20,000 in the city centre. Or when trade unionists led strikes and demonstrations in the wake of the IRA's sectarian massacre at Kingsmill. When sectarian forces try to drag us back to the horrors of the past, working-class people, Protestant and Catholic, must stand united in their workplaces and communities and declare with one voice – No going back!
By Darragh O’Dwyer GrIMe arTIST Stormzy’s performance at the BrITs was an outburst of protest against the Tory establishment -- the moment he rapped: “Yo, Theresa May, where’s that money for Grenfell? What, you thought we just forgot about Grenfell?” went viral on social media. Most aptly described as ‘corporate manslaughter’ the Grenfell Tower tragedy of June last year claimed the lives of 71 residents. Grenfell threw into sharp relief the effects of austerity as well as the establishment’s utter disregard for the lives of working-class people in general and people of colour in particular. By targeting the Tories, Stormzy illustrates how this is a political issue, that Grenfell is a result of neoliberal policies that serve the 1% at the expense of everyone else. 8 months on, with victims’ families and survivors outraged by the lack of progress in investigations, Stormzy’s freestyle rap is a timely reminder to the Tories that the seething anger around Grenfell has not gone away. This, however, isn’t Stormzy’s first foray into leftwing politics. At last year’s Glastonbury he was similarly vocal on Grenfell and in a 2016 interview he voiced support and admiration for Jeremy Corbyn saying: “I feel like he gets what the ethnic minorities are going through and the homeless and the working class.” Stormzy endorsed Labour in the 2017 General election sparking the #Grime4Corbyn hashtag. These developments are cultural expressions of the growing politicisation of young people. Stormzy’s Brits performance that struck a chord with so many, highlights popular music’s potential to voice the discontent of the masses and lead many to ask further questions about the capitalist system in which we live.
Stormzy’s Tory take down
Victim blaming & entrenched misogyny in the legal system By Eleanor Crossey Malone
he World health organisation (Who) has described violence against women as a “global health problem of epidemic proportions.” research carried out by the european agency for fundamental rights found that 26% of women in ireland had experienced sexual or physical violence at the hands of a partner or non-partner, and 31% had experienced psychological abuse from a partner, including economic abuse and controlling or coercive behaviour. Only 21% of women who had experienced abuse reported it to Gardaí. Of those who reported sexual violence, 31% said they had been treated either neutrally or insensitively by Gardaí. In the UK, only 5.7% of reported rape cases result in a conviction for the perpetrator – far lower than the conviction rate for any other crime. The sexism of the system The trivialisation of gender violence by law enforcement feeds into the social stigma that discourages survivors from coming forward. It is estimated that the real statistics are likely to be higher than those contained in recent reports. Sexism exists, not only in backward social attitudes which must be challenged – one third of
people in the UK believe that a woman who flirts is partially responsible if she is raped – but at every level of the legal system, and is underpinned by an economic system with no genuine interest in ending oppression. Owing to the sexism of the capitalist system, women can be paid less for the same work, are more likely to be in low-wage jobs and on zero hour contracts, and therefore tend to depend more heavily on basic services whose funding is being slashed by pro-austerity governments: housing, education and healthcare. At the same time that demand for women’s refuges and rape crisis centres is rising, funding to those services is being cut. The economic precarity faced by many women experiencing abuse can be a huge factor in keeping them locked into abusive relationships.
Ulster Rugby rape trial showed again how courts keep blaming victims
Ulster rugby rape trial During the ongoing trial in which Ulster and Ireland rubgy players are accused of raping a young woman at a party, there has been fury at many of the comments made by the defence in court. When the young woman told the court she had consented to a kiss from Paddy Jackson, but had not given consent to anything else, the defence barrister accused her of “teasing” Jackson, and asked her, "if you didn't like him, why were you kissing him in his bedroom?"
The young woman was initially reluctant to report what had happened to the police, fearful that she would not be believed. The comments by the defence make it clear that the fear of not being believed has a firm basis in reality, and point to the prevalence of rape culture and victim-blaming in society: the idea that the victim must have done something to diminish the attacker’s responsibility for their own actions. At the same time, many are disgusted by the treatment that the young
woman has received, and completely reject the medieval and innately sexist ideas being espoused by the defence. #Metoo The trial is taking place in the context of people and particularly younger women becoming increasingly unwilling to accept sexism or oppression in any form. The #MeToo movement on social media exposed not only the scale of sexual violence, harassment and abuse in society, but also gave an
opportunity to many survivors to collectively break their silence. The movement for abortion rights makes clear that the status quo of backward laws and a legal system are completely unacceptable to women and young people, the misogyny inherent in the culture of victim blaming will not be tolerated either. We need a socialist feminist movement that link this aspiration for equality to the need to challenge a capitalist system that has oppression woven into its fabric.
Inequality, denial of bodily autonomy & sexism...
Where women stand in 2018 IN reCeNT years we have witnessed the emergence of a new radical feminist movement globally, from the struggle for abortion rights to #Metoo and #TimesUp. Valery Lawrence looks at the realities confronting women under capitalism today.
Economic Inequality l Recent figures from the World Economic Forum (WEF) show that in 2016, instead of getting better, the gender pay gap actually reverted to 2008 levels and that at current rates of progress, it would take 179 years to achieve income parity. l As it stands, the gender pay gap globally is at 23%, and worldwide 700 million fewer women are in paid employment compared to men.
l It was estimated that globally, women work on average four years more than men (the equivalent of one month per year) due to the unpaid work mostly done in the home.
while 40% of women who experience some form of violence seek help from relatives or friends however only 10% of these crimes are reported to the police.
l In the U.S. women represent 57% of those who earn less than $15 per hour, while in the U.K., women employees are the largest group of workers living in poverty with 62% of low paid employees being women.
n This reflects how the justice system is often putting barriers in the way of women. Thirty seven countries still exempt rapists from convictions if they are married or subsequently marry the victim. n As of 2016 in Ireland, since introducing laws in 1990 to criminalise rape within marriage, only four convictions have been made.
l Recent research has shown that even in countries where programmes are in place to lessen the gender pay-gap, they are being undermined by neo-liberal policies such as corporate tax cuts and free-trade zones.
l A recent report on the global economic situation of women shows that women carry out between 2 and 10 times more unpaid care work than men, worth an astronomical $10 trillion to the global economy annually which represents 1/8th of the global GDP.
n On top of economic inequalities, violence against women is endemic. An estimated 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner and/or sexual violence from a non-partner in their lifetime.
l Globally, 57 million (mostly women) unpaid workers fill in the gaps of inadequate healthcare provision.
n In the E.U., 43% of women have experienced psychological violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Femicide is a
Reproductive justice huge problem; in 2012, it was estimated that out of all women murdered, over half were killed at the hands of a partner or family member compared to only 6% of men murdered. n Women and girls account for 71% of all human trafficking victims, with nearly three out of four being trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. n Statistics are even higher for the LGBTQ community. In the U.S. rape and sexual
assault disproportionately affects transgender or gender non-conforming people (21% of transgender college students). Rates of sexual violence against women of colour is also higher than for the general population. This is exacerbated by a system based on division, which promotes gender stereotypes, objectification and rape culture. n While violence against women is so prevalent, these crimes often go unreported. According to the U.N., globally,
u 241 million women globally do not have access to modern contraception methods. u Added to that, it was estimated that between 8% and 18% of all maternal deaths worldwide occur due to lack of access to safe abortion. u As well as that, a 2012 figure shows that 6.9 million women worldwide were affected by complications following unsafe abortion. This is often the case in poorer neo-colonial countries where abortion is restricted.
By Kevin Henry
n 12 february, Theresa may and leo Varadkar arrived in Belfast hopeful for a deal in a political crisis that has last over a year. may said that agreement would be "up and running very soon" and Taoiseach said he was hopeful that the two parties could "come to an agreement this week". This quickly proved not be the case. The breakdown of these talks is a reflection and a product of sectarian polarisation. The two election campaigns of 2017 were best described by commentators as the “mother of all sectarian headcounts” with Sinn Féin and the DUP consolidating their positions as the largest political forces in the respective communities. Whipping up division Both parties have continued to beat the sectarian drum. The most naked reflection of this sectarianism can be seen in the comments of DUP’s Gregory Campbell defending the erection of Parachute Regiment flags outside Derry in the run up to the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre. It was also seen in the the sectarian buffoonery of Sinn Féin’s Barry McElduff, whose video on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre caused widespread anger. Arlene Foster is partly the victim of her own 'success'; for months
the DUP adopted an increasingly hardline approach on an Irish language act. In doing so, they stirred up sectarian tensions and fears with unfounded claims, including that Irish language classes would become compulsory in all schools. Although once the DUP had said yes, its previous mantra was its undoing – coming under pressure from grassroots unionism. Sinn Féin also hardened their position in recent months, making little effort to counter provocative proposals from some Irish language groups. These included statements in the press that street signs in predominantly Protestant areas such as the Shankill Road and East Belfast should be in Irish, and quotas for jobs in the public sector for Irish language speakers. Language rights Socialists support legal protection for the Irish language, Ulster Scots and other minority languages. State funding should be provided to facilitate those who wish to learn and use these languages, as well as funding for the development of the cultural aspects of these traditions. At the same time, we are opposed to the turning of these issues into sectarian footballs including the degrading of any language or culture which happens with both Irish and Ulster Scots. The leaked version of the document by journalist Eammon Maile is very revealing. It reflects significant compromise by both parties
What’s behind the stalemate in the Northern talks?
DUP's campaign against Irish language act undermined deal
Sinn Féin abandoned 'red lines', including marriage equality
including by Sinn Féin in relation to their demand that Arlene Foster could not be the First Minister whilst the RHI
Winning abortion rights in the North
20 years since the GFa This April, marking twenty years since the Good Friday Agreement, is likely to pass with Stormont in crisis and Northern Ireland under a form of “direct rule light.” The peace process is riddled with crises because rather than seeking to overcome sectarianism it has institutionalised it. There is a need for a new peace process of the working class – a process from below that can unite ordinary people on the issues in common struggle, and that can overcome the issues that divided ordinary people, in the spirit of real mutual respect. To do that requires a radical break with the dead end politics of unionism and nationalism – and rebuilding of labour and socialist traditions which have a proud history of uniting Catholics and Protestants.
NEW BOOK: Common History, Common Struggle
By Courtney Robinson
n The months leading up to the repeal referendum in the South, young people and women are thinking and planning ahead for the inspiring and transformative effect repeal of the 8th and 12 weeks on request can have on the north if there is a Yes vote. The idea that Northern Ireland would be the only place in Europe with such restrictive, draconian abortion laws that treat women as little more than vessels for reproduction is something that just will not wash with a new generation of young people. Building pressure They have been inspired by the struggle for abortion rights in the South and movements like #Metoo globally. It’s no more business as usual for church/state relations in the South and we want to put manners on the dinosaurs in Stormont too. After the Marriage referendum victory, tens of thousands took to the streets of Belfast to demand this right in the North. It proved that grassroots campaigns and mobilisation can ensure that even the most conservative, backward politicians are pushed into supporting our position - not from their own benevolence but because they feel they've no other choice.
(Renewable Heating Initiative) Inquiry continued, which was dropped. Despite a year of Sinn Féin claiming there would be no
return to the status quo or that rights would have to be respected, the document illustrates no progress when it comes to marriage equality. The document also illustrates that the DUP and Sinn Féin also agreed to continue the status quo when it comes to implementing cuts and privatisation. This can be seen with the leaked document that has spoken about “public sector reform” and agreeing to transformation projects like the Bengoa report, which is blueprint for further privatisation of the NHS in the North.
Lessons from the 1960s – When Workers’ Unity & Socialism Challenged Unionism & Nationalism By Peter Hadden More info: www.socialistpartyni.org email@example.com
We can win change There is an attitude from some that we live in such a sectarian backwater that nothing will ever change but this isn’t true. The same young people who're coming out to campaign for abortion rights are also repulsed by sectarianism and a movement that fights and organises across the divide is key. In recent years there's been a sharp and important shift in social attitudes and, much like the South, it is the sectarian politicians who are lagging way behind ordinary people. The repeal referendum is likely to be much more of a battleground
than the one for marriage equality and therefore people are more likely to learn lessons from it. Mass protests, the strike for repeal last year and ROSA and the Socialist Party popularisation of the use of the abortion pill all had an impact in forcing the political establishment in the south to concede a referendum and in some cases support (in words) 12 weeks on request. We need to build this kind of movement in the North. ROSA will be mobilising activists to assist the campaign in the South and discussing how we can win bodily autonomy in the North.
“It was the sectarian forces which came out on top after 1969 and it is their version of events which predominates today. there was nothing inevitable about the rise of sectarianism after 1968. Quite the reverse.” – Peter Hadden In Common History, Common Struggle Peter Hadden demonstrates that the Troubles were not inevitable. Fifty years of bloodshed and sectarian conflict could have been avoided. Internationally the sixties was a decade of revolution and struggle for social and economic change. In Northern Ireland the conditions existed for a united movement of Protestant and Catholic working class people to challenge capitalism and sectarianism. A socialist future free from sectarian division and poverty was within reach. Peter Hadden wrote this book for the new generation of young people who are preparing to challenge today’s Orange and Green sectarian politicians and to struggle for socialism. Herald Books is publishing Common History, Common Struggle as the fiftieth anniversary of the historic events of 1968 approaches to make his unique ideas available to as wide an audience as possible.
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Published on Mar 5, 2018