NO DEAL BREXIT- VARADKAR MUST DECLARE NOW

The British House of Commons looks like the jokers and the clowns as it keeps on voting NO to all options for leaving the EU.

Standing in the middle of this farce is the DUP who hold the balance of power. There are well used to shouting NO and so they have voted against every single option for leaving the EU. Despite being a minority voice in the North, they insist on stoking up fears about the erosion of partition in order to shore up their base. By linking up with the Tory right they have entrapped the whole of Britain in this charade.

All of this makes a No Deal crash out Brexit more likely – and it means that the Irish government must now declare its hand.

Up to now, they have refused to say what they will do when the EU puts pressure on them to erect a hard border. There have been hints that customs posts will have to be erected to ‘protect the integrity of the single market’. But as soon as they are spoken, they are hidden again.

This week, Varadkar meets Merkel and Macron – the two most powerful leaders of the EU. T hey will tell him that he must protect the single market and they want to know how he will do it.

Varadkar’s only response will be to ask for another extension for Britain to make up its mind.

It is just not good enough. He needs to come clean with the Irish people and issue a public declaration that his government will not erect any sort of border that will help to strengthen partition. He should tell the EU that the peace and security of this island is more important that their single market.

He put an end to the tactic of trying to often up the population to accept some sort of hard border on the Irish side.

The time has come from honesty and that means telling the EU that we shall not be ordered into any action that will strengthen partition.

Carbon tax, Well what else will we do? By PBP Sligo member Seamus O'Shea

Carbon tax? Well what else will we do? Actually there's quite a bit we could do. We can introduce and progress legislation to keep carbon in the ground.

We can introduce and progress legislation to tackle unnecessary packaging across the board, similar to how cigarette packaging was managed but with environmental rather than public health goals at the heart of it.

We can first of all, tax corporations at the flat, incredibly low rate of 12.5% they are meant to be taxed at but many don't pay.

We could secondly introduce legislation to gradually add a few percent extra tax onto companies who engage in environmentally damaging practices and possibly provide small tax breaks for companies who engage in practices which are environmentally beneficial/minimise environmental impact.

We could use that tax revenue and perhaps the local property tax to re-establish public waste disposal infrastructure and services. We could use it to expand public transport and retrofit our city centres to be more pedestrian/cyclist and public transport oriented.

We could use that tax to possibly even build state companies selling basic goods with the specific aim of being sustainable, affordable and fair to workers to provide a base line level of sustainability and affordability for the rest of the market to attempt to match. This would also go some way towards solving the poverty problem that also gets implicated in this carbon tax issue so often, and rightly so.

There are many options, our politicians just aren't very imaginative because they don't want to upset the private market at any cost, including the destruction of the only place in the known universe that we can survive.

It's not acceptable to put the burden onto the working class when much of the cause of pollution are corporations, governments and the VERY hungry free market which requires infinite growth on our finite planet.

BILLS ARE TOO MUCH – WE NEED WAGE INCREASES

Two thirds of people are struggling to pay household bills. And more than half of these say that financial worries has a detrimental effect on their health. The bill that causes most pressure is motor insurance. This is because Ireland is one of the most car dependent societies in the world – because of our lack of proper public transport. A further reason is that insurance companies have been allowed to jack up prices by this Fine Gael led government.

Here are three simple things that could be done to reduce stress over household bills.

·        Set up a publicly owned insurance company on the lines of a similar one in Manitoba province in Canada and provide cheap insurance.

·        Invest in public transport and cut the fares to get people out of cars.

·        Put in for a pay rise – and make sure your union fights properly for it.

THEY USED TO RULE THE WORLD –NOW THEY LOOK LIKE FOOLS

The latest twist in the Brexit endgame has seen Tory Eurosceptics warn Theresa May that a long delay in leaving the EU would see the end of the Conservative Party and could lead to a Jeremy Corbyn government that would turn Britain into a "barren land" with "gulags".

Theresa May obediently heeded their warnings and is seeking a short delay.

The British ruling class built up a huge resource of skills on how to manipulate and dominate their own population over centuries. They ran the world’s largest empire and used this to inculcate a sense of deference to upper class culture among large sections of the population.

But the Brexit crisis is tearing away the mask. The ‘natural ruling class’ of Britain look like drunken fools who are terrified of even the modest reforms that Jeremy Corbyn promises. The sooner they disintegrate the better.

The crisis that is eating at the heart of the British ruling class provides an opportunity to undo the legacy of empire.

Socialists, unashamedly, proclaim that we would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom.

The people of England and Wales have every right to leave the EU and no amount of sneering about their ‘ignorance’ or ‘foolishness in falling for lies’ should stop them.

But equally the people of Scotland have every right to a new referendum on independence. And the people of Ireland have every right to vote on whether or not to end partition.

This the only positive conclusion one can draw from the bizarre spectacle that the Westminister circus.

SLIGO TD's AGAINST A RIGHT TO HOUSING

Last week our local TD's; Tony McLoughlin T.D. Marc MacSharry & Eamon Scanlon voted down a People Before Profit - Solidarity bill to guarantee a Right to Housing in our constitution. This would have followed over eighty other countries that have accepted this legal right. By doing this they ignored the advice of Fr Peter McVerry and the Peter McVerry Trust, the Simon Community and the constitutional convention. 

All this is in the context of the worst housing and homelessness crisis in the history of the state. People are literally dying on our streets. We lost another person to the crisis as they were in the process of blocking the bill. In Sligo there are over 1100 people on the housing waiting list with only a handful of properties available. Whilst not being a silver bullet, this would have been a significant move in the right direction towards opening the space to take the radical action that is needed to solve this crisis. 

What is clear is Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are completely wedded to market solutions which not only don't work - they have caused and worsened the crisis. Asking private builders to solve our housing crisis is like asking foxes to look after the chicken coup. The truth is this crisis suits some people. Those that are connected to the establishment parties by a thousand strings; bankers, developers, speculators and landlords charging extortionate rent. Their actions become even clearer when you realise that up to 30% of government TD's are landlords themselves.

In People Before Profit's latest budget submission we advocate a state building company tasked with building 20,000 new homes in 2018 and purchasing 30,000 more from the private sector. We need to get building quickly and to rebalance rights in Ireland so that people’s needs come before the right of speculators and vulture funds to profiteer.

Please contact your local TD's through Email, Twitter, Facebook and ask them why they want to let the crisis continue. All the while the people of Sligo and Ireland endure unsuitable accommodation, waiting lists, high rents and thousands of children suffer needlessly under the scourge of homelessness.

Nigel Gallagher
People Before Profit Sligo

Home Sweet Home, Right 2 Water, Lets Call it A Movement

Last week saw Political activists, housing activists, concerned citizens, musicians and union officials occupy an empty NAMA property and house homeless people. In effect they have done more for the homeless than Fine Gael, Fianna Fail have done in a decade. The Home Sweet Home group is a broad coalition of housing groups, trade unions, musicians, actors and artists and they should be commended for their act of civil disobedience.

This action has caught the right wing cosy consensus and their media allies on the back foot. The real significance is it exposes the political rights true priorities which certainly is not the homeless but is the divine right of property developers, professional landlords and vulture funds to profit on the misery of a housing crisis.

FF and FG cannot be seen to condemn this act of civil disobedience as it has huge public support and their lies the problem, if they do not act they will be seen to be giving a green light to people taking direct action and illegal occupations of private property and make no mistake there are thousands of political activist’s eyeing up NAMA buildings all over Ireland North and South to replicate Home Sweet Home in their towns.  If the government does act and kicks homeless people out of warm beds and back into the doorways where their sacred market believes they belong, well you can expect another 100 thousand Right 2 Water protestors on the streets.

This battle is an ideological one pure and simple, the right are on the side of private property and profits and the left are on the side of human need and people. Where this ends is up to all of us , if we keep the pressure on the government with radical action, they will be under huge pressure into building more social housing. After 10 years of austerity and huge inequality Ireland has an army of newly politicized activists who can see through media spin and Neo Liberalism. The right 2 water movement saw a broad movement that change the political landscape for ever, Home Sweet Home is just the latest and quite potentially the most significant chapter. The Irish have got used to protest and they like its effectiveness. Now we need to become familiar with an even more effective weapon and that is the power of a permanent grassroots movement with serious demands and expectations. We should keep in mind our vision for Ireland on its centenary year as James Connolly said “Our demands are most moderate  – We only want the earth!”

- Peadar Hopkins - People Before Profit Sligo

KURDISH MAN ENDS HUNGER STRIKE – LET'S END DIRECT PROVISION

People Before Profit were relieved by the news that Amjad, the Kurdish man who had been on hunger strike for a shocking 36 days in Globe House direct provision centre in Sligo has ended his hunger strike after getting assurances he will be allowed to apply for asylum in Ireland. The man had been issued with a deportation order to the UK from which he would be deported back to Iran. He said; he would prefer to die of starvation in Ireland than be deported back to Iran to face execution.

 

The fact that this man was forced to such lengths to access basic human rights is a terrible indictment of the Irish asylum process and the direct provision system. The un-transparent nature of the system allowed him to suffer for a grueling 28 days without food before news broke in the media thanks to the hard work of local activists and reporter Claire Ronan from Ocean FM. People Before Profit Sligo called a protest outside Globe House on Thursday last and a number of grassroots actions followed. As support for campaign grew locally and nationally it seemed to force the authorities to act.

 

Hopefully Amjad now has a swift recovery to full health and is successful in his fight to live a life of peace in Ireland. However, this ordeal has shone a light on the horrors and dangers of the direct provision system. It is a bureaucratic and politically non-transparent, commercially profit driven, inhumane and institutionally racist asylum system. The un-transparent nature of the system put a mans life in significant danger. It’s isolationist nature more broadly works to keep asylum seekers separate from society so they do not develop roots in communities as people with roots are much harder to deport. Their friends and, crucially, their workmates and their children’s schools etc. are likely to defend them.

 

Inhumane

 

The inhumanity of the system leaves many in limbo, often for 10 years or more waiting for their case to be resolved. Living in cramped conditions with 4-5 to a room. Residents of DPC are not allowed to cook their own food and are forced to live on an allowance of €19.10 per week. A figure that has not changed since DP was brought in as a temporary measure in 1999. Asylum seekers are not allowed access third level education and children – heartbreakingly - are not allowed bring their schoolmates and friends home to visit for play or parties etc. 

Direct Provision – A business for profit

Currently there are 35 DPS accommodation centres in Ireland. The state contracts out the ‘business’ of running the DPS centres to private companies. All except seven of these centres are owned and run by private companies. The entire DPS is a multi-million euro industry. For instance, Mosney Holidays, has been paid more than €100 million by the state. Owned and registered by an Isle of Man parent company. Mosney made a €4,050 political donation to Fianna Fail in 2009. Aramark had a turnover of €223 million in 2013. So there are private and political interests keeping the system in place.

 

This is an inhumane system that profiteers of the misery of thousands of people. The people living in the system are seeing their own potential wasted and as a society we are collectively losing out on the positive contribution that their unique skills and ideas could bring. Asylum seekers should be allowed to work, cook their own food, access education and live in decent accommodation.

 

This campaign has shown us further evidence that direct action can make a difference. There is an open meeting in the ****VENUE CHANGE NOW: Sligo City Hotel, Thursday 24th Nov at 8pm to discuss organising a grassroots campaign calling for the end of direct provision. Memet Uludag from United Against Racism who are at the forefront of the national campaign to end direct provision will be a guest speaker on the night. All are welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

We need to talk about Marc.

In a speech on Monday resembling that of Richard Boyd Barrett TD, we witnessed Fianna Fail's Marc MacSharry make an -apparent- impassioned speech on the lack of finances, large debt and the fiscal constraints imposed on Sligo County Council.



He's quite right in pointing out that such austerity measures have led to the destruction of basic services in the Sligo region such as; The downgrading of Sligo General Hospital and the discontinuation of cancer services. The shortage of social housing and lack of funding to build social housing. Leaving 1100 people on the housing waiting list. The forced 42 per cent reduction in staff within the council (237 people since 2008), which has now forced the closure of our library. I could go on...



But shall we delve into why Sligo County Council have incurred such debts and been forced into these fiscal constraints? Well apart from the Lissadell legal debacle, much of the debt incurred by Sligo County Council is due to the buying up of land at hugely inflated prices during the boom. With some saying; if Sligo County Council was a property developer it would be in NAMA. In cooperation with the banks and property developers, Fianna Fail allowed a bubble to grow and burst. When it burst, those in Fianna Fail made sure they saved their own skins and that of their banker & property developer friends. Leaving the people of Sligo and the Irish people to foot the bill of the €64 Billion blanket guarantee and endure horrific austerity over the course of the last decade. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the history of Fianna Fail's attacks on working people. Did Marc MacSharry make impassioned speeches when this was going on? Did he leave Fianna Fail out of disgust? No. 



Some may say he wasn't a TD at the time so in some sense he is off the hook. But when we look at but a couple of his actions in Dáil since he was elected we see that Marc MacSharry is your typical Fianna Failer who seeks to protect his section of society - the rich. Surely a share of the €13 Billion in Apple Tax would have gone a long way in restoring and enhancing some of the services for the people of Sligo. But he voted to appeal the EC ruling. What about the people of Sligo who he stood with on protests calling for the abolition of unjust water charges. A promise both he and the Fianna Fail party ran on in the last election and performed another - of many- U-Turn's today by voting against a motion for abolition. Considering his anti-choice stance. What about the very many women (and men) of Sligo that travelled to Dublin last weekend fighting for basic human rights – the right for woman to have bodily autonomy?



The truth is the impassioned speech on Monday is just another disingenuous way of attempting to shore up votes cloaked in the nonsense of "fighting your corner". Fianna Fail work on the politics of claiming to be shrewd operators that can go out and get some of the crumbs from the table on behalf of "their corner". But as the Apple tax scandal illuminated further - there's a massive cake! That we made! And we want it back! And the only way we'll get that is through grassroots political action and people power both locally and nationally. That fights to protect our services, end austerity and inequality - creating a better future for all.



So, I'm not falling for it - and the people of Sligo won't either. So I'll ask Marc the question he asked in the Dáil yesterday;



"Do you think the people of Sligo are Stupid?"

NO POLTICS! NOT LEFT,NOT RIGHT MEANS MORE OF THE SAME.

At Water charges meetings up and down the country a familiar call from angry crowds was “we are not Left or Right, and we do not want any politics”. This is an understandable reaction from people who have experienced betrayal, lies and broken promises from politicians for decades. The term Right and left goes back to the French Revolution, where people who wanted revolution and a new society stood on the Left and people who supported the monarchy stood on the right in the first French Assembly.

Right wing values are clearly different to left wing values. Right wing politician’s believe in “personal responsibility” and if you were one of the 400 thousand people who lost there job after the banking crisis, that somehow is down to your own personal decisions. They often express similar viewpoints on single parents, immigrants, the environment, people who are obese or who have mental health problems. They ignore inequality and the cruel economic and political system that imposes itself on every aspect of our lives, from vulture fund evictions to the price of bread. None of us can claim to be non-political in a world that so clearly intrudes into all of our lives.

Left wing politics starts from a more holistic humane interpretation of the world. When someone steels a loaf of bread, we say why did he need to do that? When the police turn up in seconds and yet people wait years for an operation we say why is that? When the judge throws him in jail and no banker will ever see a jail we join the dots and come to the conclusion there is an obvious class system that protects private property and the privileged and puts the rest of us at the back of the queue every time. When people oppose the greed of the 1 percent we simply use the word class. This class system is engrained within a capitalist system and no one has ever found a way to manage it on the contrary it bluntly manages us.

The centre does sound like a wonderful practical place to be but we must remember the system that dictates every aspect of our lives is called “capitalism” not “peopleism” Capital is wealth and property we want a system that looks after people not money apeople system, a social system we call it Socialism .

 If we choose the same failed comfortable centre ground we have had for decades, by default we accept the interests of the 1 percent are equal to the needs of the 99 percent. The reality we have all seen that at every opportunity centrist and right wing politicians always put the wealthy’s interest ahead of the people. We have had a homeless crisis looming for years and nothing has or will be done to address it. When rich investors wealth looked like been hit during the famous night of the bank guarantee they acted in seconds and fixed the rich’s problems costing us 64 billion, another example of a well-oiled class system.

If we want our interests to be put first we must use our most powerful weapon our Labour. Our labour is what keeps them wealthy, if we withdraw it they quickly have a serious problem .We have seen what extraordinary lengths they go to too demonize and attack anything that looks Left wing, they know if our tactics gather momentum we will win like we did with water charges. Their media demonizes nurses, Tesco workers, luas workers or any workers that dares to challenge them and organize to demand decent wages to provide the basics for their families. If the left was no threat to changing the system they would ignore Paul murphy, Ruth Coppinger, Jermy Corbyn and Richard Boyde Barret but they know the left is familiar with their tricks and has the tools and will to take them on and win.

There is a growing number of independents in Ireland however the vast majority cannot be trusted. Most are ex Fine gael, Finna Fall, labour and there track record shows they are only interested in maintaining the status quo. There is a handful of genuine left politicians such as Claire Daily and Joan Collins who have an excellent track record and have consistently stood with the working class. As a strategy we believe in building huge movements around people power and not top down independents that make their own decisions without democratic consent from the grassroots. Not for a second do we question the integrity of people like Clare Daily but if we are to build a movements where people have participation in democracy, a logical starting point would be a coming together under one umbrella, be it PBP or the AAA. However without a coherent vehicle we are conceding all power and decision making to one independent,that is not what real democracy should be its about togetherness, solidarity and a union of likeminded progressive thinking. You will often hear Richard Boyde Barret saying he has no power and that real power is in the hands of people on the streets not a corrupt parliament.

 Strong unions are clearly a left concept that have delivered gains for workers all over the globe and our hated by right wingers sadly most have been hijacked by careerist union officials at the top, who are excellent at sounding radical but like the centrists politicians they too often capitulate to the needs of the bosses. We must take back our unions from right wing fakes and put genuine left wing shop stewards who understand the forces that act against the interests of the working class and won’t settle for crumbs. This needs people with left wing ideas and politics.

Some people suggest we appeal to their sense of morality maybe write a letter or a petition or like what we saw with the occupy movement by occupying public spaces. These are all valid and well intended tactics but they all have failed as they don’t actually affect the pockets of the ruling class, it would be wonderful if it was that simple. We have seen in Greece that European right wing and centrist politicians have allowed millions of families to resort to foraging the countryside for food, allowed fascists to beat up old age pensioners just because they are foreigners and not forgetting allowing thousands to drown in the sea fleeing the same wars they support. We can see how if it’s a choice between the rich been asked to pay their fair share or children to be washed up on beaches, the right and centrist politicians are as inhumane as any drug kingpin or any terrorist we read about. We cannot rely on their morality to do the right things.

Some activist’s fight on individual issues it could be the environment, women’s rights, water charges, Palestine. These issues are all valid and all activism is worthy and should be encouraged. However as a tactic it’s much easier for governments to fight off individual issues, vilify and frustrate them with endless reports and committees not to mention the same police brutality we witnessed at the Corrib gas protests .If we come together in a coherent vehicle that has principals and awareness on a broad range of issues it is logical to conclude that anti water charges activist’s combined with anti-fracking activist’s combined with anti-war activists would be a formidable opponent to any attack by government or big business. People Before Profit and the Anti Austerity Alliance were central in bringing together unions, communities and encouraging self-mobilization on the issue of water charges, saying this we also need to have positions on all issues.

 Only the wilfully blind would still believe western governments are working in our interests or we can rely on their systems to deliver real change. Billions have been handed over to the same people who caused the crisis and now they have handed the same people control of our budget. To challenge this we need hundreds and thousands to come together in a vehicle that is aware of this class system, we need to understand and learn from each other and build active branches all over Ireland, Europe and the world. We are living in a historic window to change the world, do we want it to be the same ruthless right wing /centrist world or a left wing world that seeks to put people before profit.

Join your local branch of People Before Profit today www.peoplebeforeprofit or call 087 657 4100

After Water Charges, Why We Need To Build A Permanent Movement

By Nigel Gallagher, 27th April 2016

From the moment we are born we arrive in a world of pre-existing systems, a healthcare system, an education system, a system of employment, a tax system, and a democratic system. Most people never questioned where these systems came from, how they were created and more importantly for whose benefit they were created. Like gravity we don’t question it we accept it as a universal norm. But if we objectively study history we can only come to the conclusion, all these systems were created in the interests of a once highly visible ruling class (nobility, kings and queens ) and now a less clear ruling class (investment bankers,  speculators,  multi-nationals etc. )

 

These structures were not created by the 99% who do the work and create the wealth; they were created by the ruling class of that time, to look after their own interests, and enshrine their rotten and rigged systems. Their system presents an illusion of normality, with the appearance of democracy and freedom. But people all over the world are confronting the reality that it will only ever deliver crumbs for the majority of humanity. Occasionally after much struggle, protest and organized mass movements, the working class have fought and gained some concessions and benefits. However, whether it is women’s rights, workers’ rights, gay rights, children’s rights or civil rights the gains had to be fought for. What we have gained is always only temporary and will always be under threat from the elites of this world - particularly in times of crisis. This is why we need to be permanently organised in our resistance. Child benefit, maternity leave, a 39 hour week, are all things that seem permanent but conservatives are constantly looking for ingenious ways to convince society these rights and natural resources are not sustainable however 65 people owning more than half the world’s wealth apparently is perfectly sustainable. “Competitiveness” is another buzz word they use to remove our gains and benefits. They want an environment for business to flourish where as we want an environment for people to flourish.

 

Water charges were abolished this week due to one thing only; people power, which put massive pressure on the government to bow to the democratic voice of the movement against water charges. People Before Profit and the Anti Austerity Alliance proposed Right 2 Water to the unions and were central in encouraging a grassroots movement and building structures of resistance. In Sligo we organized dozens of street meetings, public meetings, and protests and we prevented water meters being installed in 500 houses in Cranmore. None of this ever would of happened without people getting involved at community level.

 

Every other political party without exception encourages protest when they are seeking power, but once in power they do everything they can to stop communities from organizing and empowering themselves. This is why PBP is radically different. We encourage permanent grassroots structures and want confident working people organized and ready to mobilize against the next inevitable attack from the elites. Being organized is one thing, but we must have the principles to match. Anti-racism, women’s rights, Gender rights, workers’ rights, a right to a family home and an internationalist outlook must be central in our actions. We will never win unless we become politically aware and awaken movements to the class system that crates division and robs many of their dignity and the necessities of life. All over the 32 counties there are PBP groups organizing and creating solidarity between movements. We must be inclusive and support each town and county, from Wexford to Donegal, from Belfast to Dublin. Don’t just get angry get active and be that change. Join People Before Profit Today. Text JOIN to 087 283 9964

 

Traveller Discrimination | Why The Media Must lead The Way | By Peadar Hopkins

A 20-year-old Irish man was charged with assault today in Sligo. 

An Irish woman was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment for cruelty to animals.

An Irish banker has denied defrauding the taxpayer of billions leading to the collapse of the Irish economy and devastating society.

 

We seldom hear about the ethnicity of the perpetrator of a crime unless it’s a traveller and certainly never see the above examples citing the Irish as the boogey man.  Someone’s place of birth, colour of skin or ethnicity has no relevance or place in constructive impartial journalism.  However, in practice it is the overriding detail that dominates the headline whenever a traveller is involved in any crime.  It does not reveal any insight into a crime, it does not present an impartial perspective and I cannot think of a single genuine reason to splash anyone’s nationality all over the headline of a newspaper other than to capitalise on societal prejudices in order to profit.  Yes, some travellers do commit crime but so do every other nationality. This is not just an oversight but a poor and reckless choice by the majority of journalists who see the ethnicity of a traveller as a tool to embellish and give an edge to their story. This is lazy journalism and must be challenged.  It reinforces an often unconscious racist mindset and the end result is that the children of travellers are being exposed to expressions of hatred and hostility, often leading to a lifelong sense of alienation, smashing their confidence and adding to their already towering deficit of opportunity.  I am not suggesting we hide from using the word traveller or relegating it to a taboo subject but I am suggesting a simple bit of mindfulness of the consequences of this type of journalism. Most people never encounter any problems with travellers but many of us have a disproportionate negative view of travellers based on the only encounter we have which is mostly the sensational black and white print on a newspaper. 

We are at a crossroads. We can go backwards and have further and more extreme racism; we can go left and right and stagnate in the politics of nothingness or we can go forward and embrace our traveller brothers and sisters.  We must open our arms and hearts, support all minorities in the workplace, challenge casual racist remarks, and welcome travellers like any neighbour, friends or family.

We must be aware of the incredible creativity, culture and entrepreneurship that is engrained in many travellers by necessity. When nobody will give you employment you soon learn to be self-sufficient, how to plan, adapt, master negotiating and get stuff done.  I write this one month after the terrible fire that claimed the lives of 10 travellers, and there has been a small, positive pause for reflection from many Irish people and this is to be welcomed.  We now need the media to lead the way with a new mindset, as its words, print and actions amplify a message. Let that message be not one of hate, suspicion and division but one of love and the same equality we only a few months ago celebrated.

Fine Gael and Labour – Meet the Fiscal Spacers

“This time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires” – this was Del Boy’s famous catchphrase from Only Fools and Horses in the early 1980’s. It played on the fact that the two brothers always hoped for a better future despite the fact that their hair-brained schemes never seemed to quite come off. Usually, it is government spin-doctors accusing the Left of being economically illiterate, but with an election just around the corner, it is they who have dreamed up the bonkers concept of a fiscal space. Lost in space would be more appropriate.

According to Noel Whelan in the Irish Times, the fiscal space is a recently introduced economic concept best described as “a hoped-for increase in national disposable income”. ‘Hoped for’ are the operative words in the sentence, given the fact that the whole thing relies on revenue forecasts that will only come true if the economy continues to grow at 3.1% every year between now and 2021. The idea that anyone can predict this far ahead should be held in contempt, particularly when we remember that (1) very few mainstream commentators predicted the crisis of 2008 and, (2) the global economy is in a precarious state, with China slowing dragging the emerging markets into recession. If the global economy continues to falter, there is every chance that Ireland will soon follow suit.

It is true that a combination of extremely low oil prices, extremely cheap money and extremely favourable exchanges rates (against both the dollar and sterling) have helped the Irish economy to export its way to a paper recovery. However, being a small open economy also means that when the next global crisis hits, Ireland will be disproportionately affected. Any serious economist knows that making predictions like these is foolhardy in the extreme. But of course the whole idea of a fiscal space is nothing more than a blatant attempt to hoodwink the electorate into voting for the government. Having spent five years imposing austerity and pleading poverty, the government have suddenly found its way into the promise land of the fiscal space. Let’s look at some of the facts.

According to Fine Gael there could be as much as €12 billion in extra goodies waiting for us in the next Dail session. ‘Lie’bour’s Brendan Howlin has been busy proclaiming the very same figure, despite the fact that the Department of Finance have told them that they are double counting this fantasy money to the tune of €2 billion. Be-that-as-it-may, the real message in the fiscal space is not hard to decipher. The recovery is only just around the corner, but you need to stick with the government if you want your reward at the end of the rainbow.

When FG promise to abolish the Universal Social Charge it is done through the magic of the fiscal space. When Labour wants to stand over its affordable childcare programme the fiscal space is trotted out as the panacea. In the middle ages the Catholic Church infamously sold spaces in heaven in the form of indulgences and here we have government lackeys indulging in the same sort hocus-pocus.

At the same time as they declare the fact that they will have an extra €12 billion to give away, FG have been saying that they want American style taxes and (by extension) America style social services. This will mean that taxes are slashed for the richest in society, making it very unlikely that ordinary workers will get any space from the current austerity. Irish people should not be hoodwinked any longer. The establishment have made promises like these for nearly 100 years now and they never deliver. Each new election brings a whole series of new promises that are quickly broken as soon as the votes are cast and sealed.

People Before Profit rejects everything about this sham debate, particularly when the government could generate actual fiscal space by taking on the richest members of our society. Instead of spending make-believe money, PBP wants a radical redistribution of the wealth that already exists in our society. We want the fiscal space that would come from refusing to pay the roughly €9 billion to faceless bondholders. We also want the fiscal space associated with the €4 billion in unpaid taxes by the big corporations. This is the real way to give people some fiscal space, but the government never want to take any of the wealth that actually exists in Irish society.

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT MANIFESTO ON YOUTH AND EQUALITY

Ireland is 2016 is not a welcoming place for young people. Discrimination based on age is actively inscribed in state policy and the implied agenda is to encourage young people to emigrate in order to alleviate the jobs crisis.

Despite much talk of a new Ireland, conservative ideas still dominate the lives of the young. Irish women are forced to travel to Britain for an abortion and there is even a 14 year jail sentence for those who take an abortion pill. Religious education is compulsory for many.

Irish society often turns a blind eye to the issues affecting young people. There is inadequate support for those who are experiencing difficulties in mental health. Drug use is widespread among young people but the states views it as primarily a criminal issue rather than developing any real strategy to regulate and decrease drug dependency.

In this manifesto, People Before Profit outlines its steps to build an alternative Ireland that is fit for young people.

 

ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS: Increasingly young people are being forced to take zero hour contracts that give no security. Zero hour contracts should be outlawed. Employers should be legally obliged to provide contracts which specify regular hours. The Terms of Employment Information Acts 1994 to 2012 be be amended to require employers to provide a statement of working hours which are a true reflection of the hours required of an employee. Use of ‘on-call’ hours should be exceptional and require permission.

NO TO STUDENT LOANS: It is believed that the Cassells report on higher education will suggest that Ireland follow Britain, Australia and the US in introducing student loans. People Before Profit is totally opposed to this proposal because

a) Its leads to increased fees as Third Level institutions believe that a loan structure gives more flexibility to increase fees. Since loans were introduced in Britain, fees have risen from 1,000 maximum to the current €9,000 maximum.

b) It saddles young people with huge debts

c) It will involve extra s pay outs to private banks as usually there is a state guarantee to back these loans and there is often a high default ratio.

All parties need to come clean on their attitude to student loans before the end of General Election 2016.

GRANTS: The current student grant regime assumes that students can live on €83 a week but in reality young people need double that. People Before Profit believes that there should be a liveable maintenance grant and, as a first step, students on the maintenance grant should get access to the Free Travel scheme.

Post-graduate education should be open to those who have demonstrated the capacity for further study in their undergraduate years. We should not go backwards to the days when only the children of the elite could undertake such degrees. People Before Profit there advocate a return to the situation prior to 2011 when post-graduate maintenance grants were available.,

There also should be an end to the bar on part-time students accessing grants. The pro-rata Student Contribution for apprentices should be abolished.

ABOLISH JOBSBRIDGE/NATIONAL INTERNSHIP SCHEME This scheme is not working for young people. There is inadequate training. Job prospects are poor as only 27 percent of participants find full time employment afterwards. The €50 a week that is given on top of social welfare payments is totally inadequate. A poll conducted by the National Youth Council of Ireland found that 52 percent of young people feel exploited by the scheme.

ACCOMODATION: There are 80,000 students in Dublin but only 3,000 student accommodations places. Those in rental accommodation are facing large increases and often to not benefit from the recent 2 year only rent rise regime.

People Before Profit believe that NAMA property should not be sold off to the US vulture funds at cheap prices. Some of it could be used instead to create student appropriate accommodation. Outside term time, such accommodation could also be sued for the growing market of back-packer tourists.

We also favour proper rent controls that tie rent increases to the Consumer Price Index.

REPEAL THE 8th: The Irish constitution should not contain an article that equates the life of a women with a few day old embryo. Women should not be forced to travel to Britain – at a cost of between €800 and €1000 to have a an abortion to sustain Irish hypocrisy.

People Before Profit favour the repeal of article 8th of the constitution and the immediate removal of an article in the Protection of Life in Pregnancy act which criminalises women who take or assist others to take an abortion pill. The maximum sentence of 14 years is barbaric.

To reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancies, we will introduce legislation to impose a maximum price on emergency contraception to force price reductions.

We will introduce a new curriculum of sex education in schools which will be factual and not designed to impose a religious morality on pupils. The current Relationships and Sexuality programme is inadequate as it allows schools to discuss sexuality in the context of their religious ethos’.

VOLUNTARY RATHER THAN ENFORCED RELIGIOUS TEACHING; Young people should not be forced to say prayers or attend religious instruction in schools. It should be voluntary and

take place after other school hours. There should be no access to publicly funded schools on religious grounds – specifically, there should be no baptism barrier. Teachers should not be hired or fired on the basis of their views on religion.

MSM BLOOD BAN

End the outright blood donation ban on men who had sex with men. Use of blood donations should be judged on an individual basis.

MENTAL HEALTH: Mental Health funding should be increased to at least 12% of the health budget (versus current 6%). We should establish 24/7 community mental health supports. We should ensure funding of a proper counselling service sin third level institutions.

DECRIMINALISE DRUG USE: A study in one university showed that 75 percent of students had taken illegal drugs. Criminal conviction for drug use has implications for a young persons’ future career. The criminalisation of drugs has also led to unregulated consumption that can also cause serious health risks.

People Before Profit believe that drug dependency should be viewed as a medical problem, not a criminal one. We favour the decriminalisation of drugs on the Portuguese model and the non-commercial legalisation of cannabis similar to the Colorado example. 14 years ago Portugal decriminalised all drugs. Today in Portugal 3 out of every million people die from over dosing. This is compared to the EU average of 17.5 per million.

VOTING RIGHTS People Before Profit will propose the holding of a referendum on extending voting rights to 16 years as has occurred in Scotland, Austria and Brazil. We shall make voter registration easier by allowing for online registration with a PPS number.

STUDENT NURSES PAY: A survey by USI of student nurses found that 95 percent considered emigrating upon graduation. This would represent a huge loss for the Irish taxpayers who help fund training and a catastrophe for an already stretched health service. One of the main reasons for the young nurses’ discontent was pay. Currently students nurses are paid less than the minimum wage and their 36 weeks work period in hospitals is no longer reckoned for incremental purposes.

People Before Profit believe that student nurses and other young people should be paid the full minimum wage and the ‘training’ loophole should be removed.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Our planet is under threat because of global warming yet our government does not take reducing carbon emissions seriously. Enda Kenny’s speech at the Paris Climate Change conference, where he indicated that Ireland needed more time to meet ‘aggressive targets’, was a disgrace. The needs of big farmers and the agro-export industry must not be put ahead of the need to save our planet.

* We need to act now to achieve an agreed Paris target level of C02 mitigation to achieve 2 degrees centigrade in unison with other European countries. The Climate Change Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 showed Ireland is way off track and will have major challenges post 2020 in decarbonising its economy . We favour investment in not-for profit, publically owned renewable energy projects. Our aim is to achieve the decarbonisiation of our economy including agriculture..

* We need proper investment in affordable public transport.

* We need retrofitted buildings to comply with energy efficiency regulation.

* We need substantial investment in renewable energies and serious divestment in fossil fuels.

* We are for making Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) illegal. Fracking has been banned in the State of New York, after a report by the Department of Health because it was found that the environmental impact of fracking when it goes wrong is absolute detrimental to the natural eco-system, drinking water and human habitation.

STOP THE TAX FUGITIVES – MAKE THE MILLIONAIRES PAY UP

A recent Oxfam report has shown how the top 1 percent of billionaires are gaining more of the world’s resources as 62 billionaires now own more than 3.6 billion people.

Ireland is doing its very best to help this trend towards grater inequality by creating a tax haven for its own 1% billionaire class.

It looks after native Irish billionaires through a tax exile rule. If they state that they are outside the country for more than 183 days, they can claim that they are not domiciled in Ireland for tax purposes.

There are 3,393 such tax cases and one of the most prominent is Denis O Brien. Despite much talk of everyone sharing the pain after the economic crash, his wealth has increased dramatically from €2 billion to €6 billion between 2009 and 2015.

Despite sending his children to school in Ireland, he is able to claim a tax exile status.

In Britain, there is a similar rule but the tax fugitives must pay a minimum fee of £90,000 for the privilege of not being taxed.

In Ireland they are supposed to pay a levy of €200,000 if they reach a certain earning. But there are so many loopholes that in 2013 only 13 individuals paid the levy.

If the tax exiles had to pay the equivalent of the British fee of £90,000, it would bring in €305 million ayear. That way there would be no need for water charges.

Better still, if we abolished the tax exile status altogether we would probably be able to eliminate both the property tax and water charges.

But this government will not do this because it prefers to look after Denis O'Brien and the millionaire class.

MAJORITY OF FINE GAEL TDs OPPOSE ABORTION EVEN IN CASES OF FOETAL ABNORMALITY

A survey by the Irish Independent of Fine Gael TDs has produced a shock result. Only one quarter say they favour abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormality

Nigel Gallagher, People Before Profit candidate for Sligo / Leitrim / South Donegal / West Cavan said, 

‘If only a quarter of Fine Gael TDs agree to terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, it shows that the medieval wing of the party is in the ascendant.

‘Only the most barbaric politician would demand that women go through with pregnancy when there is no chance that the foetus can live.

‘The total lack of compassion shows that this party will put dogma ahead of real human tragedy. The party prefers to maintain support from its conservative rural base than take the tiniest of steps to give women their rights.

‘There is sometimes a myth that FG is dominated by D4 liberals but this poll shows that these are only a minority. The party remains what it always was – a coalition between the representatives of the big farmers and a small layer, of what its former leader Richard Mulcahy once called, ‘the Donnybrook set’.

‘The liberalism of this latter grouping is skin deep. It was the so called liberal leader of Fine Gael, Garrett Fitzgerald, who gave his full backing to the eighth amendment. This equated the life of a women with that of a few day old embryo.

‘Fine Gael should not be allowed to hide behind Enda Kenny’s promise that the issue will be referred to a citizens’ assembly. Each Fine Gael candidate, who is running for elections should be asked to state clearly their view on this topic.

‘From this survey, it is clear that women will never achieve their full rights in Ireland while a conservative party like Fine Gael is in government. 

‘It is time for change – we need a real left government to legislate for a sharing of the wealth and real equality for women.'

People Before Profit call for home help cuts to be reversed to help stop the chaos in our hospitals

One million home help care hours cut by this government 

Penny pinching by Minister for Health has lead to a recruitment crisis in nursing

 
People Before Profit are calling on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to reverse the cuts to home help which would help to stop the chaos in the health service. The government have cut one million hours of home help care hours since coming into office. 

Leo Varadkar has claimed that even if he had an extra €100 million, he  would not be able to fix the hospital crisis over-night. Meanwhile Transport Minister, Paschal Donohoe, has gone further and even suggested that government intervention has helped reduce the crisis.

In a statement, People Before Profit spokesperson, Nigel Gallagher said:

"This government has cut one million hours from home help care packages while they have been in office. In 2010, there were 11.7 million home help hours available but by 2014 this had dropped to an estimated 10.4 million hours.

"These foolish cuts mean that elderly patients are more likely to stay in hospitals because they have no guarantee of after-care treatment otherwise. A cheque for an extra €100 million would help reverse these cuts.

"In February of this year, Minister Varadkar stated that ‘I acknowledge that a higher level of respite is required across the greater Dublin area’. He stated that an extra €8 million, that was allocated for 2015, would provide an extra 115 transition care beds. But if this puny sum was trebled, there would have been an extra 445 extra beds that could help alleviate the hospital crisis.

"Minister Varadkar’s penny pinching has also led to a recruitment crisis among nurses. He should guarantee to pay student nurses who undertake their 36 week hospital work experience the minimum wage; he should recognise this work period for incremental pay; he should reverse the cuts to the entrants pay scale. 

"If he took any of these measures he might help stop the flight of young Irish nurses to Britain and Australia.

"It is time to end the dogma that the public sector does not need extra money and start taxing the super-rich to pay for our public services". 

Fine Gael Lied About Ending Hospital Trolley Crisis

Fine Gael and the Labour Party are issuing a stream of promises about what they will do if re-elected. But the promises made in 2011 turned about to be a fiction.

People Before Profit spokesperson, Nigel Gallagher, said

‘In 2011, Fine Gael issued an advertisement with a picture of Enda Kenny saying that ‘I will end the scandal of patients on trolleys’. Yet on Monday, there were 516 patients on trolleys in Irish hospitals. Beaumont hospital, for example, had 30.

‘When Fine Gael was elected to government, a total of 8329 patients had suffered the indignity of being left on trolleys throughout 2011. By January 2015 that had risen to 8684 – an increase of 4 percent.

‘Health Minister Leo Varadkar is aware that the nurses union, INMO, maintains a daily trolley watch count and has attempted to cut the number by crisis management. HSE managers are cancelling scheduled hospital operations to increase resources for A&E departments. Last year, for example, a record number of 13,000 operations were cancelled.

‘But this strategy is not working because it does not tackle the root of the problem – the closure of hospital wards and the reduction of hospital staff by approximately 10,000.

‘We need to invest to create a high quality health service and pay for it through progressive taxation. In the longer term, this will save money as many people are now paying three times – through private health insurance, taxes and hospital charges – for a poor service where they may end up on a hospital trolley’.