Ireland and Elimination of Racism in 2015 & a year of failed opportunities by the Irish Government to make needed changes by Denise O’ Toole (R.O.I.A.R) & PBP Sligo

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is globally observed annually on 21 March with many events taking place worldwide. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the United Nation's General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. 48 years later  Ireland has certainly made a poor or some would say a downright shameful attempt to do so.

Fast forward to Ireland 2015 surely a country that has the means and laws to tackle racism? You may be surprised; sadly this is not true Ireland with decades of monetary focused governments who placed very little value on social justice has produced shameful and minimal legislation to protect victims of racism immigration & people trafficking.  Ireland in the past decade or so has found itself experiencing growing cultural diversity and change but is unable to protect people from racism and hate crimes .Integration into Irish society is made impossible by government policy such as direct provision and a vote we had which amended our constitution in 2011 which stops Irish born children of immigrants becoming Irish citizens.
 As austerity measures have been creating increasing poverty and social problems so the targeting of minority groups and immigrants grows and in some cases it would be said is used as a tactic by a failing government to take the focus from their unpopularity and is distracting the voters attention to their selling the countries national resources off to the highest bidders in line with their neo liberal agenda. After a lengthy recession which saw the rise of the far right and of fascism again in Europe this crisis is also being used as fuel to further fascist agendas with social media being used to spread the destructive message of far right groups . In Ireland this year we see the launch of political party Identity Ireland; we see groups on facebook like Irish voice. Those of us resisting this fascism will know they have unsuccessfully tried to organise demonstrations on Dublin and Waterford.


As a founder of a voluntary online anti racism group I seem to have embarked on an alice in wonderland type adventure of the most surreal order by trying to understand how racist crimes are dealt with in Ireland, nothing is what it seems and convictions are pitifully low. Unlike our neighbours in the UK Ireland has no race relation act .This was signed into law into the UK IN 1976. This act outlawed discrimination racial grounds and followed closely the C.E.R.D  Conventions definition of racial discrimination.

The C.E.R.D Convention on the elimination of all form of racial discrimination  was adopted and opened for signature by the United Nations General Assemblyon 21 December 1965,[8] and entered into force on 4 January 1969. As of April 2013, it had 87 signatories and 177 parties. The Convention covers the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures that need to be implemented to give effect to its provisions. 

Ireland and the ICERD

Ireland signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1968. Following the enactment of the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000, the Convention was ratified by Ireland in December 2000 and entered into force in Jan 2001 whereupon it became binding on Ireland in international law. At the time of ratification of the Convention, a reservation/interpretative declaration was entered in relation to Article 4 of the Convention.


Ireland's combined Fifth to Seventh periodic reports to the UNCERD Committee were due to be submitted in 2014 from the quote below from Department of Justice and Equality’s Office for the promotion of migrant integration:

’Tackling racism and promoting diversity is not just the responsibility of Government. Everybody in Irish society, including individuals, organisations, businesses, Governmental and non- Governmental Organisations have a responsibility to address racism and its impact on the people who experience it. 

Ireland has been severely criticised for not ratifying the cerd of 2009 because they will not recognise Irish travellers as an ethnic minority. Two famous cases in the U.K Mandlavs Dowelle & O leary and others vs. Allied Domeac and others ironically have lead to the UK recognising Irish travellers as en ethnic minority and affording them more human rights than in Ireland

Other main Irish legislation which directly or indirectly affects racism includes:

The Prohibition of Incitement of hatred act 1989    

The Criminal Justice Act 1994

The refugee act 1996

Non fatal offences against the person act 97

Criminal Damage act

In his report to the equality authority in Sept 2010 Seamus Taylor, Lecturer in Maynooth (Applied Social Studies) identifies and laid out clearly and objectively facts and changes which need to be made by the government.This is practically a blueprint on how to make real change why has it been so ignored??

  Members of Irish society  need become more aware of how little our politicians have done to help eliminate racism through legislation over the past 48 years and that this out of date legislation will remain ineffective and unhelpful to our society in Ireland now and in the future. As an unfunded voluntary group we have no agenda , no criteria to satisfy. We are a group of people who frequently use the media and recognise the educational value that new media and social media can be used for. We are using the internet to create awareness and inform people about racism & social issues in Ireland.



  Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald declared that' Ireland is taking its fair share of migrants’. The reality is that Ireland is opposed to taking refugees whilst our government scapegoats them in its media using them propaganda for all of our society’s ills.... Contrary to popular myth Ireland does not have a migrant crisis or an asylum seeker crisis. 2013 Euro stat confirmed that Ireland ranked last out all EU countries in granting Refugee status to be asylum seekers. But what we did do was setup and farm out 34 direct provision centres to greedy business people who have made over 17 million on profit from them. In these 34 direct provision centres   refugees can spend on average of 4 years getting their paperwork processed, they are not allowed work and receive 19.10 a week with 9.60 per child. a week to live on. Children make up 1/3 of Ireland Direct provision population with some knowing no other existence. They are also not allowed attend university whilst awaiting their status. There is no evidence that refugees have any desire to live on social welfare. This deeply inhumane system has seen lives destroyed and corruption continued and celebrated as good economics by the Irish Elite.



Since originally writing this we have gone on to witness the worst refugee crisis Europe has seen since the Second World War. Politicians and leaders through the media & social media have pushed a biased discourse and dangerous narrative. Language is being used which uses phrases like: mass migration, terrorists and swarms /floods of migrants. This narrative has taken hold due to the majority rightwing ownership of the press this diverts public attention to what the real problems are.

Even before the EUs current struggles to formulate a more harmonised response to the crisis record numbers of people began arriving at its sea and land borders and the Schengen/ Dublin system was under pressure.  Xenophobic governments in Eastern Europe are now overtly rejecting refugees, Western European states have been likewise reluctant to respond humanely to their needs .Unfortunately Ireland is no exception in this regard. Dara Murphy minister of State Ireland said on national radio’ he could not see Ireland having much appetite for a quota system. 


Ireland is suffering politically from a cognitive dissonance as on the one hand we have a pride in the Irish navy for heroically rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean and on the other a violent abusive rejectionist stance against people whom from in the past we have profited and whose countries our Government and its European political and USA corporate allies have succeeded in destroying.  This most obviously includes Britain Germany and France but also Ireland with its allowing the US military to use Shannon Airport. Even as this is written the Irish Government  is still breaching its neutrality by making Shannon airport available to US military aircraft for the purpose of transmitting arms, military personnel and military prisoners for torture in other courtiers, yes other countries . Through this action Ireland is complicit in the destabilisation and destruction of the Middle East and the other countries the USA profits from wars with. Ireland must immediately respond to this and the calls for #stopthewar and #stopbombingsyria must be heard by our politicians.

We need to make a start for humanity by actually accepting “our fair share” as opposed to brutalising people in direct provision.

Fundamentally neither refugees nor migrants are a threat at all. If they were allowed to work they would contribute to our societies and to help improve them. Irish people are in a position to understand this as through emigration we have made positive contributions to societies we have joined. We need to make a start for humanity by actually accepting “our fair share” as opposed to brutalising people in direct provision.

 If they were allowed to work they would contribute to our societies and to help improve them. We need to make a start for humanity by actually accepting “our fair share” as opposed to brutalising people in direct provision. 

As long as fears are stoked up about migrant / refugees establishment politicians right across Europe can blame them on our own problems. Refugees did not because the homeless crisis, this was caused by lack of social housing, high rents and bank repossessions caused by our own. Refugees could easily be drawn into being part of our solutions.

It does not have to be one or the other homeless people or refugees. We have more in common with them than the bankers, the corrupt government and rich elite1 % who will are being let off the hook .Ireland is the 16th richest country in the world with the wealthiest people enjoying a massive €35 billion increase in their fortunes.


All we want for Christmas is a government who will in 2016 end direct provision, for traveller ethnicity to be recognised and our outdated legislation to be reformed. 

The general election in early 2016 will be our version of a Christmas list to our government .Let them know that we demand change and will not accept a bag of ashes.

Budget 2016: 21st Century Thatcherism

If you were to only listen to mainstream media in the wake of Budget 2016 you would be forgiven for thinking that austerity was over and we were back to the so called ‘giveaway budgets’ of the Celtic tiger era. But instead of resembling the budgets of the Celtic tiger it resembles the budgets of the infamous Thatcher years. Whilst Thatcher was for many a deeply unpopular figure she still managed to successfully win three elections throughout the crisis ridden era of the 1980’s, making her the longest serving prime minister of the 20th century. This was done through a combination of two strategies, the first; consistently pushing the narrative of TINA. Claiming that There Is No Alternative to austerity, cuts, privatization, de-regulation and the repaying of odious debts etc. This is the narrative that the Irish public has been fed by Irish and European elites and their media since the crisis hit in 2008 and it will be something Fine Gael and Labour will be continuing to parrot throughout the election period. Insisting that they were the ones who had to make the “tough decisions” and they are the only safe pair of hands to lead the so-called recovery; that it is either a future of “stability” in their hands or “chaos” in the hands of the left and independents, failing to recognize that the chaos is already here for the thousands of people on hospital trolleys and those living in poverty and deprivation because of their devastating policies.  


The second strategy of Thatcherism was in delivering carefully aimed budgets that would shore up their support base close to election time. Such budgets were aimed at appeasing particular sections of society, the corporate sector and the middle to upper middle classes. If we peer behind the headlines of “giveaway” Budget 2016 we see that it is these sections that benefit most from the €1.5 Billion that is being returned to the Irish economy from a total of €30 Billion that was striped off the Irish people over the last 5 years, with Social Justice Ireland describing it as ‘the fifth regressive Budget in a row’.


Corporate Giveaway


Many of the key benefits from Budget 2016 will flow directly to the corporate sector. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the introduction of a Knowledge Development Box (KDB) to reduce corporate taxes even further.


Over the last 12 months, the Irish state has come under increasing pressure to close the various tax loopholes enjoyed by multinationals. To save the elites from this unwanted scrutiny, Noonan eventually relented on the so-called ‘double Irish’, but not before dreaming up the introduction of a research and development catch-all category.


The whole idea of a KDB is a scam. It allows corporations to declare profits relating to their research & development at 6.25%. This is half the current low rate of 12.5%, confirming that the Irish state is completely wedded to corporate welfare. The status of profits coming from R&D is extremely hard to identify and this is really the point of the exercise. People Before Profit have long since argued that the effective rate of corporate tax in Ireland was somewhere around 6%. Now we have the evidence.


Appealing to those with wealth


The government parties want to strengthen the support of the middle to high-income earners and those with capital. This is evident in their reduction of Capital Gains Tax from 33% to 20% and a big increase in the amount exempt from capital acquisitions taxes – from €225,000 – €280,000 (eventually rising to €500,000). This ensures that the children of the elite can inherit their parent’s wealth without paying as much towards our underfunded public services.


Another key move was the changes to income tax.  In a package that cost a total of €847m (€75m on income tax reductions and €772m on USC reductions) it benefits high-income earners disproportionately. A single person earning €20,000 gains €493 per annum, while a single person on €75,000 gains €902.  Appealing to this demographic not only fits neatly in with Fine Gael and Labour policy of protecting the wealthy but it also reaps rewards in terms of votes, as affluent areas like Sandymount and Donnybrook have voter turnout rates of 87%, which is more than double that of most working class areas.


All in all, this budget must be seen as an important part of Fine Gael and Labour’s broader electoral strategy. Mainstream Irish media has played its part in feeding the illusion that this budget was somehow a giveaway for the masses but it was not. This has been a giveaway to the wealthy that will further the gap between rich and poor and leave the door wide open for further tax avoidance of the corporate sector. This is something People Before Profit must expose during the build up to Election 2016 whilst clearly articulating an alternative that protects the most vulnerable and present a vision of society in which everyone can prosper and live with dignity. This can be done through taxing the super-rich and the stopping of corporate welfare, by ensuring multi-nationals - at least- pay the 12.5% tax-rate they are supposed to be paying in order to fund our public services. By ending the €8 billion euro giveaway to wealthy bondholders every year, which equates to building 37 children’s hospitals. Otherwise the vast majority of people will continue to suffer at the hands of 21st century Thatcherism.

Nigel Gallagher - People Before Profit Election Candidate #SLSDWC

Why we need to repeal the 8th amendment

Abortion is possibly the most divisive issue regarding human rights and women’s rights in every country. Bearing this in mind we must try to hold an open mind to arguments and base our viewson Facts, an understanding of human nature, science and empathy. We all would agree the idea of terminating a life is hugely emotive; bearing this in mind we can probably all agree the vast majority of women do not end a pregnancy with a light heart. The reality is that women have had terminations for thousands of years and this will continue into the future. 4000 women every year in Ireland will be forced out of their own country to have a termination in Britain. The reasons for ending a pregnancy are so vast, so complex and ultimately every single case has its own unique set of factors that can include serious mental health issues, rape and incest, domestic violence, poverty, financial constraints, societal and cultural reasons (stigma of being a single parent), current responsibilities to the existing family, interference with education, underage pregnancies, women that have raised there family’s and simply feel they are too old to have more children, foetal abnormalities, and incompatibility with life outside the womb. Every single one of these issues is hugely complex and highly specialized experts with years of training are required to deal and understand each one, however ultimately the best expert is the women in every situation.

“You can always give the baby away”

Firstly to make a woman act as an incubator for a child against her wishes is a violation of her human rights, not to mention the long term damage and destruction this will cause to a woman’s mental health. The reality is that the state has a shameful history regarding children in care with one child dying in state care every 2 weeks. Children in care do not receive the basic nurture, love and stability that is fundamental to a child’s development and this guarantees a continuous cycle of poverty, depravation and ultimately another generation of unwanted children left to rot on the fringes of society.

Not on my doorstep!

Every year 4000 women are forced to leave Ireland to have a termination in Britain. A recent RTE documentary showed the horrific stories of women bleeding in a toilet on a Ryanair plane at 36 thousand feet. The minimum we can do is offer woman of Ireland is a safe humane environment where they can have a termination without risking their life’s. A recent U.N report stated that there currently is not a single woman of child bearing age in Ireland that has had a democratic say regarding the control of her own body. By voting to repeal the8 th amendment(the right of the unborn child being equal to that of the mother)You are not voting to end life ,you are giving your consent for other women to have the basic human right make a choice. As a man who is in a stable relationship with resources to bring up a child and space to give love to that child my partner and me would not want to seek a termination, however just because I’m fortunate enough to be living in a privileged position I have no entitlement to tell a 50 year old women in poverty who is a victim of domestic violence she must not have a termination.

Amnesty international recently pointed out Ireland is the only country in the democratic world that has abortion outlawed in its constitution and out of the 28 countries in the EU only Ireland and Malta have deemed abortion illegal with a max prison sentence of 14 years. One day when we have a society where there is adequate resources, universal access to childcare and education, no stigma, gender equality, no such thing as male privilege, maybe less people will need to have a termination but none the less all women should always have the ultimate control of their body withouta judgmental society adding to their ordeal.  REPEAL THE 8TH NOW!


Right 2 Change Meeting | Sligo

On Tuesday evening the six Trade Unions involved in Right 2 Water Ireland hosted a meeting presenting their new Right 2 Change initiative; principles for a progressive government in the Clarion Hotel. It was one of a large number of meetings that will be taking place all over the country. The purpose of the meeting was to have a debate about a vision for Ireland and to establish whether there is a way to deliver a fairer, more equal society based on the principles of equality, democracy and social justice. 


Chaired by Dave Gibney of Mandate trade union the evening began with a workshop on political economy from Trademark member Dr. Sean Byers. In a very informative presentation, those attending got a glimpse of the true level of inequality that exists in Ireland today and the choices our political classes are taking to exasperate such inequality. With some stark statistics such as 63% of lone parents experiencing depravation and 10% of the Irish population experiencing food poverty. All the while our leaders are choosing not to ensure multinationals pay the 12.5% corporation tax which would bring an extra €4 billion into the exchequer, what happens instead is that they choose to cut such essentials as the lone parent allowance. We learned that Ireland is now the most unequal country in the EU with the top 1% hoarding a wealth of €130 Billion all the while the bottom 20% own a mere 0.2% of Irelands total wealth. 


The policy principles document was then presented and debated by those attending. Nigel Gallagher, People Before Profit general election candidate was at the meeting. He said “it was great to see some key People Before Profit policies in the document such as Right2Housing, a tax on wealth and the abolition of Jobridge. I also made the suggestion that Right2Water and Right2Change call mass demonstration when the election is called to ensure water is a concrete election issue, to give people confidence to vote for progressive candidates in the election and to continue the pressure that the mass mobilisations of people power is having on the establishment parties. Which has been key to opening the political space for initiatives such as Right2Change.” Gallagher also commented that it was great to see a united left at the meeting with Declan Bree, independent and Chris Mac Manus, Sinn Fein in attendance at the meeting also.


By Peadar Hopkins

The world has gone mad. We have heard this as long as we can remember. Famine in a world where food is dumped into the sea to fix prices. Wars and destruction are accepted to secure oil and plunder natural resources. Racism homophobia, bigotry hatred and homelessness in  a world where there is empty houses and many who simply seek love, not to mention the destruction of the environment. It would seem that the world has lost its compassion, humanity and common sense.

This may seem normal as it is widespread but it is not “normal “how could it be? If a close friend was homeless our nature would be to feed and house them. If you had a conflict with your neighbour we would not resort to violence to resolve the issue but politicians rationalise horrific violence with wars that kill millions of innocent to resolve there conflicts. Not forgetting the displacement of these innocent families who are now in desperation risking their lives to get to the safety of Europe. Our nature is to do good it is the current system can bring the worst out in us. The media is owned a handful of rich powerful men and it has historically been them that explain to us the reasons behind the complexities of the world we live in. Their needs, wants and values are opposite and in direct conflict with the needs of the working class. They demand big profits, where we hope for a job, they celebrate excess where we only wish for the modest necessities of life, a home, job and health. They want cheap labour and poor work conditions, we want a living wages and decent work conditions. They encourage war, as the arms industry is a huge source of profit for them, ($30 billion a year would eradicate world hunger, America spent $737 billion in 2012 on  weapons and war) they then use  fear to make us hate and blame the innocent victims of their violence, today it is Muslims, in the 60's it was the Russians. There’s not a nation or race people on earth they haven’t demonised in order to justify their actions. Racism and division is a natural by-product of their agenda


They ?

Who is “they”? They are the ruling class. THEY ARE NOT A SECRET SOCIETY THEY ARE CAPATLISTS! These people own the most vital assets of any country, the water supply, oil, steel, coal and copper mines, airlines, airports, railways, road infrastructure, ports, gas, telephone, health services, internet providers and distributors. The list is vast and we refer to it as “the means of production”. This was built and paid for with the taxes of our grandparents and was owned by the nation for the people (nationalised). For the last 30 years the Dennis O’Brien’s, Donald trumps and Richard Branson’s of the world have  slowly taken ownership of these means of production (privatisation) creating a world where it seems normal to us that these things are there for profit and not people’s needs. This system is what needs s to be challenged; they hold the real power not our governments, who merely manage the needs of theses capitalists, not society’s needs.


How ?

We need to encourage and give confidence to the working class (not call each other sheep). It is the working class who are victims and the only ones who can take back the world from these sociopaths, not any political party, us included. Remember the rich are utterly dependent on us we create there real wealth every day we go to work. If the working class had ownership of its resources and assets this would be a form of extreme democracy, not the sham democracy we have now. This action has to come from the working class themselves, just like a councillor would guide you to make positive changes yourself and not to expect change to come from others, the same applies when conceding to a powerbase like a political party or a religious institution it just does not work for society, they seek to change the world with vacuous words and not action. This would be a real revolutionary way of thinking, that private property does not trump human need. People Before Profit and the Socialist Workers Party have never sold out the working class or adjust our values just to gain populist votes. We seek to empower community’s not to seek power. While the powerful may seem indestructible, history has shown us people power has time and time again proven to be the only tool that serves the people’s needs. Join People Before Profit today.

No Recovery for Working People

By Brian O’ Boyle

Over the last few weeks the establishment spin machine has cranked into action. With a national election less than 12 months away, government lackeys are busy constructing a message to secure their re-election. With seven years of brutal austerity behind them, talk of recovery is hardly surprising. But where is the recovery for working people? Speaking on the Week in Politics, Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton boasted that the government had secured its promised 100,000 new jobs 21 months ahead of schedule. The context for his interview was the confirmed reduction in Irish unemployment figures below the magic 10% threshold. According to the minister, this proves that the government’s austerity drive is paying dividends, as growth and employment rates are amongst the highest in the OECD. Anxious to get in on the action, IBEC have also been talking up our economic fortunes. According to their latest forecasts, the Irish economy will grow by as much a 5.4% this year alone. Coming on the back of 4.8% growth last year this may seem like progress, but there are at least three reasons to be suspicious. 

Massaging the figures
First up, there is blatant massaging of the unemployment figures. During the worst phase of the Irish crisis a whopping 330,000 people lost their jobs. The government claims that it has secured employment for over 100,000 of these, yet nearly 89,000 people have merely been moved onto labour activation programmes. These schemes, which include JobsBridge, are designed to give workers a nominal increase in their social welfare payment in return for what used to be paid employment. Meanwhile, the labour force participation rate has also fallen thanks to the emigration of almost 10% of Ireland’s youth. According to figures published by the IMF, Ireland’s unemployment rate would be at least 19% if so-called ‘discouraged workers’, the involuntarily underemployed and those forced to emigrate are taken into consideration. When one considers that almost 300,000 have left the country, and that nearly one fifth of the workforce are underemployed, the government’s employment figures look decidedly less rosy. 

Recovery on workers backs
Next up, is the class dimension of the economic recovery. According to the National Competitiveness Council, Ireland’s recovery is being powered by an 18.5% increase in international competitiveness. What they fail to reveal however, is that this ‘newfound competitiveness’ has come on the backs of Irish workers. Speaking to an employer’s convention, IBEC director, Danny McCoy, admitted that Irish workers had increased their productivity by 12% in 2009 and 10% in 2010. Despite this, their pay had actually deteriorated, as unit wage costs fell by 7%. Meanwhile, in the public sector the combined effects of Croke Park and Haddington Road have seen wages eroded by between 15-25%. Cumulatively, the results of this process have been all too predictable. Research by Unite the trade union, indicates that Irish wages are now around 14 per cent below the EU average, and that in the last two years, wage increases have been minimal compared to other European countries. Yet how have employers achieve this wage repression? During the crisis, the Irish government worked hand in glove with the bosses to make Irish labour markets more precarious. This, in turn, helped employers to achieve their so-called ‘cost saving measures’ by making workers increasingly insecure. Boasting the success of this policy, IBEC currently advertise Ireland as “1st globally for flexibility and adaptability of the workforce”. But this is merely code to prospective investors that Irish workers have been squeezed so badly that they will accept precarious employment and lower wages just to get a job. Meanwhile, the ‘social wage’ has been obliterated as welfare payments and vital services have been slashed and burned by successive governments. After seven years of punishing austerity, the very least that Irish workers should expect is a share of any economic recovery. Yet this is already sending warning signals to the Irish establishment. Speaking in the Irish Examiner, neoliberal economist, Jim Power, argued that “any rush to pay increases could damage the long-term health of what is still a very fragile economy”. Richard Bruton made similar remarks in connection with the resumption of public sector pay talks, whilst IBEC are consistently pouring cold water on the pay demands of Irish workers. The implications of all of this should be patently obvious. Although any recovery will have been paid for by the sacrifices of working people they should not expect to share in the benefits. 

A class recovery that is shaky
Finally we look at the sustainability of the current upturn. One of the decisions made to achieve recovery for the Irish rich was to accept a disproportionate amount of the EU banking debt. By Eurostat estimates, Ireland makes up around 1% of the EU population but was made to shoulder 43% of the total bank debt. The decision to accept this burden was made by Irish elites anxious to protect their place within European capitalism. However the knock on effects will constitute a major drag on any nascent recovery. The Irish state collected around €42 billion in 2014, only to hand over €8.75 billion in interest payments. This is around 1/5 of the overall tax take, representing dead-money handed over to the richest Irish and European citizens. To put this in context, the Irish water network will only need around 20% of this to improve the infrastructure (€1.75 billion) over the next two years. The National Children’s Hospital will cost somewhere in the region of €500 million, meaning that we are being deprived of around 17 such hospitals every year. This level of state hand-outs is not only extremely unjust - it will mean that any fanfare around Irish growth rates could well prove short lived. With debts of €203 billion and a Debt to GDP ratio of 110%, interest payments of 4 or 5% annually will quickly wipe away all the gains associated with the supposed recovery. Once payments to foreign multinationals are brought into the picture the figures look even worse, as Ireland’s Debt to Gross National Product is 135%. This is the figure that economists track as the state cannot pay its debts with money owed to foreign companies. Behind all the talk of economic recovery, the Irish debt burden therefore remains unsustainable. Moreover, the fact that European capitalism is still struggling to escape its own difficulties means that any export led recovery is highly unlikely. The Irish establishment currently want to throw a few crumbs at workers to buy the election –but a shallow recovery on the backs of workers is not the same as a sustainable recovery in wage and conditions.

Vanessa Scanlon reports on the actions of GMC - SIERRA / Irish Water in Seaview Park last week

The behaviour of Sierra in the Sligo Area has so far been both inefficient and disrespectful to residents. Today a number of us visited the people of Seaview Park estate and what we walked in on could be likened to a warzone. Drilling, lorries, clouds of dust, gaudy orange plastic barriers inadequately covering holes where Sierra have ripped into the peoples’ footpaths at the entrances to their homes. 

We talked to the residents who seemed relieved to have someone to talk with about what was happening in their communities. There is anger present and people simply don’t know what their rights are or how to stop this and so as a result they feel they have no choice but to let the intimidating forces of Sierra invade their communitiesOne resident conveyed her irritations regarding her grandchildren having to stay inside due to bollards being shoddily left outside her house over the weekend. She rightly pointed out that these bollards surrounding the hole now inhabiting the entrance to her home were a health and safety risk and could cause a very serious accident. As a result children in many homes had to suspend their summer play time and stay indoors during heats of over 26 degrees during the weekend. One lady explained that she could not move her car for the entire weekend and while the hole that was occupying the entrance to her drive way is now covered up the soaring temperatures have meant that the tar is melting around her newly installed water meter and she still can’t move her car for fear of ruining her wheels and/or drive way. One of our group approached the employees of Sierra and got a cover for the residents water meter and finally she can move her car. Today is Tuesday the 17th of June and she has not moved her car since Friday the 13th of June. It is seems she felt that she didn’t feel comfortable to ask for this for herself and therefore she was denied the right to leave her home by Sierra.  

Concrete dust which was very present in Seaview Park today is a major health risk for pregnant women, children and those with pulmonary issues like bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Unfairly this has not been taken into consideration by Sierra on top of the damage they are causing to residents’ properties and possessions due to the wet tar that is being left unattended. While chatting with the residents they also told us about their worries with regards the dirt that has been left on the street. This dirt has is being carried into their houses, destroying cars, wooden floors, windows etc. One of our group asked when there would be street cleaners coming to return the street to its original clean state. They told her Friday. This was simply outrageous that the street would be left in this condition for over a week. Soon after one member of the Sierra staff told us the street would be cleaned by tomorrow the 18th of June. We will see if the peoples’ windows, cars, floors etc will be cleaned up also but we recommend not holding your breath 

There is also a deep confusion over the unclear literature that has arrived through residents letterboxes. Two different sets of leaflets have been distributed in the area rather than disturbing one clearly worded pamphlet that would outline to residents how when and where Sierra will be embarking on their property and communities. On top of that these information leaflets have not been distributed to every house. Surely it’s a basic right that as residents they are entitled to some information. A lady told us she woke up at 6:30am to get ready for work on Friday morning and she saw a man in her front garden spraying paint. She did not know what was happening as she had received no notice about it and was going to ring the Gardaí because she didn’t know why there was a stranger carrying out bizarre activities in her front garden. She then seen what was happening to all her neighbours and assumed it must be the water meter installation.  

While we were simply looking at what water meter installation consists of one of Sierra’s employees ascended into a huge truck and proceeded to remove us from the meter by slowing moving his truck towards us. This is extremely threatening and intimidating behaviour and after seeing this attitude, the residents of the estate have every right to be scared to approach the workers to ask for simple things like the right to move their cars from their driveways.  

Noise pollution has been a disturbance to residents. Work was carried during the entire weekend which is traditionally a time of rest for people. Work went on owing to the fact that Sierra could only obtain tar to carry out their work on Saturday 14th of June. Sierra are entitled to work from 7:30 am to 7:30pm daily.   

While in the estate some of us witnessed what can only be described as very nearly a collision which was a result of Sierra’s huge vehicles taking over the whole road and ordinary drivers’ vision being impaired. Thankfully there were no accidents. 

In summary the people of Seaview Park have expressed their anger at water meters for a variety of reasons and these include, environmental issues, inconvenience, health and safety, lack of communication, road traffic, melting tar and concrete dust clouds, the lack of courtesy, the intimidating nature of the ordeal, kids being housebound. Some members of the estate have continued to stay strong and are not allowing Sierra to invade their lives. This invasion can be overcome on a local and national level if everyone works together on it.  

People Before Profit Sligo: #AskSeamie

Online Q&A

This Wednesday night we invite the public to ask Seamus questions regarding the upcoming election, any issues they feel strongly about, his policies or what People Before Profit is / stand for.

It is impossible to get around every house in Sligo during the election campaign and what we have found on doorsteps is people are interested People Before Profit & alternatives to mainstream politics. So hopefully this will give them a chance to ask some questions or inform themselves further.

We also feel it gives us a chance to reach a younger demographic who have been one of the hardest hit by austerity and quite a lot of the time ignored by the political class.

Join in through this Facebook event page and @ 9pm on Wednesday night and Seamus will be answering questions LIVE!

You can also ask questions through our Twitter page @PBPSligo and follow the action by searching #AskSeamie

Apologies if Seamus does not get around to answering every question.

A Poem by People Before Profit Sligo Member Sean Hickey looks at a possible Ireland in 10 years Time




Have you got a license to look

At those mountains, Sir?

Have you paid the

Requisite fee?

Were you looking up

With impunity,

Thinking mountains came for free?


You might be a visitor here, Sir

-They’re fine mountains I agree-

But have you paid the tariffs

For tree lines and summits,

The supplement for heather,

Have you paid the VAT on scree?


Have you a permit for those binoculars, Sir?

Are they metered the way they must be?

Ten euro for every two hours,

Extra for animal sightings,

A flat rate for flowers.

If you’ve broken the terms of your contract, Sir,

You’ll have to come with me.




-Sean Hickey

Register to Vote!

Check here to see if you are registered. 

If you are not registered, follow these steps:

Print this form and fill it out:

Form for Inclusion on the Supplementary Register

Take it to your local Garda Station with photo ID and proof of address and the Garda will stamp it.


Then post it (or personally deliver it) to the Franchise Section of your Local Authority. 


Deadline is before 5pm on Tuesday May 6th.

You should then receive a polling card. If you don't receive one before polling day you can still vote if you bring valid ID. Check where to vote by contacting your returning officer.

Focus on local refuse services

New waste management by-laws have recently come into effect in Sligo. From 1 February all waste must be separated into three different categories and disposed of with a registered provider. Here we ask People Before Profit Candidate, Seamus O’ Boyle to analyse the system from the point of view of people’s needs. 


Question – What is this new system and how will it operate?

Seamus – About 15 years ago, the Fianna Fail led government decided to privatise our waste disposal services. Previously, bins and refuse were collected by the council out of funds provided by taxation. Under the old system public trucks came around weekly, collecting refuse on the basis of people’s needs. Since then there have been a whole host of private companies providing this service on the basis of profit. This explains why most people had to originally register with a private provider. Now, however, this need is even greater as people must separate their rubbish into general, recyclable and food waste/organic. 


Question – Why will this make it more difficult to avoid registering with a private provider?

Seamus – The government have commanded people to separate their food waste in order to put it into compost. This is not a bad idea in itself. However they have not made it compulsory to provide compost services at the current Environmental Protection Agency approved private sites. Up until now people could take all their waste to EPA site and dump it for €6 euro. Now they will have to register for a brown bin at a cost of around €50 a year just to take away their food waste. Not only will this be more expensive. It is also an example of the government using its powers of legislation to force more private sector services onto the population.  


Question – Will it cost more to have your waste collected in this way?

Seamus – The companies state that it might not, but if you take into account of the new standing charges it is almost certain that it will cost more money. There is a number of provider’s offering different packages so it is difficult to say exactly what will happen. However a few key points should be borne in mind. The two key providers are Barna Waste and Greenstar. Both companies are introducing a standing fee (€50 for Greenstar and €80 for Barna). On top of this you will be charged each time you have a bin emptied as follows (averages or typical charges)





Black Bin – €10

Black Bin - €9

Brown Bin - €6 

Brown Bin - €2 

Green bin -€4

Green Bin - €2


Leaving aside the fact that the bin companies make more money on recyclable waste when they sell it on, and the fact that a genuine green strategy should incentivise recycling by making it free, it is almost certainly the case that the new system will result in higher costs. For example a family putting out the brown bin every two weeks (this is what is recommended) a black bin once a month and a recycling bin every six weeks will pay around €360 with Greenstar and €280 with Barna. Previously this would have cost in the region of €100. Quite clearly the companies are hiding behind the new laws to make more money.


Question – What would you say to people who argue that private companies are more efficient?

Seamus – This simply isn’t true. First off, there is the issue of collections. Previously everyone knew when to leave out their rubbish and one truck collected all of the waste in a given area. Now you can have as many as three or four different providers in an area, each one only stopping at the houses that have paid for their services. This is actually a very inefficient way to collect our rubbish .It costs the company almost as much to send a truck to collect one bag as the whole road and so this makes a mockery of the idea that it should cost us less. We have just argued that in fact the cost is skyrocketing as private operators squeeze as much as possible out of hard pressed families.  

Question – Are there any benefits for the environment in making people pay for their refuse? This is the point that is usually made when the benefits of the private sector are mentioned?

Seamus- We often hear this same logic in relation to water. The idea is that if people have to pay for something then they will watch how much they use a service. The first thing to point out here is that in the USA where water is expensive they use almost 3 times as much each day as we do in Ireland. Obviously this is just one statistic, but it highlights the way that facts and figures can often disprove the privatisation narrative. In relation to refuse services, our taxes never went down when they privatised the services and so in a sense you could say we are already paying. Will it make the environment cleaner if people really can’t afford to pay? In my experience people without the ability to pay are more likely to finds other ways to dispose of their waste. Dumping around the Sligo areas has become widespread and systematic over recent years and this will surely get worse with these new charges.


Question –Clearly this new service is not designed to meet human needs, but finally Seamus how you would reform the system

Seamus- The first thing I would do is to argue for making the system public again. In the 1990’s Cllr Brid Smith and others from People Before Profit fought the bin companies and even went to jail. This was because we in PBP believe that hygiene and cleanliness are human rights that must not be subject to the ability to pay. Poorer people deserve to have their refuse collected whether or not they can afford to pay for it and middle class people should also expect a service that meets their need for hygiene rather than the bin companies needs for profiteering.   










A spotlight upon St. John’s Hospital Sligo reveals the shocking human cost of Irelands continued programme of economic austerity.

St. John’s Community Hospital provides a number of vital services for Sligo’s elderly, including; a Rehabilitation Unit, four Extended Care Units, a Day Hospital, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Departments.

Negative Impact of Cutbacks:

In recent years government cutbacks have had a devastating impact upon the provision of services within St. John’s.  Large staffing decreases, bed closures, overcrowding, restrictions on therapeutic services and a general lack of necessary refurbishments have all combined to make the situation within St. John’s intolerable for both patients and staff alike.  

Government Reports:

The impact of cutbacks upon St John’s elderly service users has been well documented in a series of very damming reports by the Irish State’s Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQUA).  Identified concerns include:

(1) Low staffing levels resulting in the diminished ability of St. John’s to meet the dependency needs of its residents.

(2) Staff workloads described as being unreasonable and unsafe.

(3) Residents insufficient access to GP and Health Care.

(4) Insufficient toilet and bathing facilities for residents.

(5) A lack of constructive meaningful activities resulting in a lack of stimulation for residents.

(6) Inadequate levels of staff management.   

The most recent HIQUA report, October 2013, states that as a result of cumulative findings in relation to risk management, medication management and staffing, “inspectors were not assured that all reasonable measures were in place to safeguard resident’s welfare and wellbeing”. 

HIQUA assessed the level of a number of identified risks within the hospital as being “extreme or catastrophic”.  

Concerns Raised by St. John’s Nursing Staff:

Staffing issues within St. John’s have been highlighted by nurses working at the hospital.  Breedge Scanlon, a senior nurse at St. John’s described to the Irish Nurses and Midwifes Organisation Annual Conference in 2011, how in her opinion there were not enough nurses on some hospital wards to “wash, feed and keep patients alive”.  Nurse Scanlon described staff stress levels as being at “breaking-point”.  She reported how nursing staff had made their management aware of the situation but nothing had been done.    

Local People’s Experience of St. John’s: 

Reports from local people who have had elderly relations resident in St. John’s have confirmed Nurse Scanlon’s concerns, describing how they have been necessitated to supplement the short fall in professional care within the hospital by providing their own voluntary efforts to ensure their loved ones needs were met.  One woman described how a group of relatives even organised a timetable amongst themselves to ensure that an elderly resident without any local family was not left out.

The Failure of Government Policy:

Clearly, State funded residential elderly care within Sligo has been severely impacted by underfunding and cutbacks.  Worryingly, a recent BDO report titled “Health’s Aging Crisis: Time for Action, A Future Strategy for Irelands Long-term Residential Care Sector” indicates that the situation is only likely to get worse under current government policy.  

Tadhg Daly, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) CEO argues that financial cutbacks in the elderly residential care sector run the risk of “real long-term damage to Ireland’s capacity to care for our growing ageing population”.  Mr Daly calls for urgent significant capital investment by the government to avert a looming crisis, as current sector capacity is not keeping pace with rapid increasing demand.

However, under current government policy this urgent necessary funding is unlikely to be forthcoming. Current government policy states that no extra funding will be provided for health services under the Government’s plans for universal health insurance cover, over and above that already being spent on public and private healthcare. 

In addition, current plans under the universal health insurance scheme provide a package of healthcare services including hospital and primary care services - but does not include cover for long-term nursing home care.  Nursing home care would entail an additional insurance payment to the projected annual 1672 Euros standard fee. 

The BDO Health’s Aging Crisis report is also critical of current government policy that seeks to divert funding away from elderly residential care settings into ‘other’ unregulated, underfunded, community based care settings such as the family home.

A significant inconsistency in present government policy that seeks to divert elderly care provision from central state funded care into community settings is the recent series of cutbacks in services and grants that make home care for the elderly possible i.e. home help services and local authority administered grants schemes such as Housing Aid for Older People and Mobility Grants. 

Labour Party Minister for Housing, Ms Jan O’Sulivan, recently imposed funding cuts of 80% for Housing Adaptation & Mobility Grants in Sligo, from €1,192,707 in 2011 to €221,587 in 2013.

The combined sum of Sligo’s grant funding to aid the elderly in 2014 remains diminished at €375,371, the second lowest grant allocation of any county in Ireland. 

Evidently, Sligo’s elderly persons and their families are between a rock and a hard place should long-term State funded residential care become necessary.  The present governments underfunding of State run elderly residential care services in Sligo - makes this an option of last resort, leaving home care as the poorly supported, unsatisfactory second worst option.

Commenting upon the ongoing concerns at St. John’s Hospital – Sligo’s People Before Profit, local election candidate, Seamus O’Boyle, stated:

“It’s simply not good enough that after their many years of contribution, Sligo’s elderly should be treated this way... In my opinion this is the unacceptable human cost of diverting Billions of State funds into bailing out banks and bondholders...We urgently need a more humane form of government, one that is prepared to put people before profit”.        




Interview with economist Brian O'Boyle on Irelands bank debts & bond holders.

In September 2008 members of the Irish government worked with senior Irish bankers and legal professionals to guarantee the debts of six key Irish banks. This decision has cost Irish taxpayers around €85,000 million. This number is hard to understand but it works out at roughly €20,000 for every person in the country or €40,000 for every person paying taxes. This money has to be found somewhere and here we look at the roots of the bailout, the political choices made by the Irish elites and the cost of the bailout for Irish people.

We constantly hear about the banking crisis but what was it and why should we care?

Brian - During the Irish Celtic Tiger the main Irish banks had access to lots of money from big European banks like Lloyds of London or Deutsche Bank in Germany. In total the six Irish banks borrowed around €450 billion (450,000 million) over the decade from 1998-2008. Alot of this money was lent into the Irish construction industry pushing up prices and making vast profits for Irish developers, Irish bankers and European bankers. In the years leading up to the crash the big three Irish banks; Anglo, AIB and Bank of Ireland made profits of over 1,000 million a year. Even then the big losers  were the Irish people as they saw house prices and mortgages go up and up. Eventually Irish families could no longer pay and when this happened the Irish developers and bankers had a big problem. They could have lost everything but the Irish government stepped in to save them.

So the banking crisis is important because the banks got so big?

Brian - This is partly the reason but the real reason is that all of the debts of the banks were guaranteed by the Irish tax payer. When the profits were rolling in the people who owned the banks got to keep them and those that lent to the banks (called bond holders) also made vast profits. Under the rules of capitalism these people's put up the money and took the risk so it was supposedly fair that they would get bailed out. The flip side is that they should lose their money if the banks started to move from profit to loss, but instead of losing their money they got bailed out by the Irish tax payer. Each person paid back and continues to pay back thousands of euros. In total the bailout has cost €85 billion making it the most expensive bailout in history.

Who exactly are these bond holders?

Brian - Sometimes we are told that it is pensioners who have managed to save a little or families that have invested their nest eggs in the financial markets. Whilst there is some truth in this the vast bulk of the bond holders and either hedge funds attached to big global investment banks or these big banks themselves. A hedge fund is basically a vehicle designed by wealthy people to allow them to club their money together to bet on the stock markets. Many of them thought Ireland was a good bet and they were right because when the bet went bad they still got paid. You can find the full list of the big Anglo bond holders @ but for most of us it is enough to know that global super companies like Goldman Sachs, the Rotschilds and French giants like Axa investment group are getting our hard earned cash instead of it going to ordinary people.

It is absolutely outrageous that ordinary workers and the poor should be made to pay the debts of the rich, but what exactly has been the human cost? 

Brian - the short answer is devastation. This year alone around €8,000 million will go directly out of the country in payments to bond holders. Not all of this is directly bank bailout money but a lot of it is and the human costs are staggering. Currently around 1 million Irish people or 22% of the population are defined as living in consistent deprivation. This is up from 11% before the crisis. Children and the elderly are particularly affected with some figures suggesting that at least 20% 0f kids are going to school hungry on a regular basis and around 10% are spending the who day hungry. On top of this there have been savage cuts to our social and welfare services, meaning that poorer people and those hard pressed families on middle incomes are losing taxes and at the same time as their services get worse. The effects of this on peoples mental health have also been devastating. Numerous studies now show that around 400,000 people currently suffer from mental heath problems and as many as one in three will suffer a serious bout of depression within their life times. Not all of this is related to finance but a big part of it undoubtedly is.

Is there anything we can do to stop this?

Brian - The government always talk as if all of the money has been paid. In reality the money will continue to be paid for decades to come and so there is a chance to stop it. This means putting lots of anti austerity people into elected positions, but more than this it means getting involved in a popular political movement. The recent protest movement in the Ukraine had very little social motivation. It was mostly one group of rich people fighting to control the country against another group of rich people however it does show us the power of mass mobilissations on the streets. Seamus O' Boyle is running for people before profit in the upcoming local elections and I would urge everyone who wants a fairer more civilised republic where people's needs come first to vote for Seamus. Along side this we need people who want to get involved so if you think it is time for a more social Ireland get in touch.


If you would like some more information or would like to get involved click this link.


Water charges are likely to be one of the key concerns in the upcoming elections. Here we interview Seamus  O’ Boyle on why People Before Profit are so opposed to charging for water.  


(Q) Why are People Before Profit  opposed to water charges?


Seamus - The principal reason is that water is essential to healthy living and cleanliness. Water is one of the basic rights that humans should be entitled to and for this reason we favour a system that collects taxes from those that can pay in order to provide water for everyone in the community. Peoples needs rather than their ability to pay should be the basis on which water should be allocated. This is hardly radical stuff,  after all, no one would expect poor children to be excluded from schools, so how can we expect poor people to be excluded from using water if they cannot pay.


(Q) – Ok that makes sense but are there any other considerations?

Seamus  - Yes. We also oppose water taxes for two other reasons. First off, water has always been paid for by householders through taxation and businesses by their rates. This means that asking us to pay again is a form of double taxation. As if this wasn’t bad enough the extra money collected isn’t even going on better services for ordinary people. The idea to push water taxes, which will be around €300 a year, has come from the International Monetary Fund and the business union IBEC. In both cases the agenda is very simple – push taxes away from business and high earners onto ordinary people. The IMF have been doing this for years through their policies in poorer countries and now they want to apply the same model to Ireland.


(Q)  - Making the poor pay seems unfair but what about the conservation argument?

Seamus – Years ago people like Eamon Gilmore and many others in the Labour party went on record to argue that water was a human right and must be paid for out of taxation. In government they have now changed their tune, so they want an excuse that doesn’t make them look like hypocrites. The main excuse they have come up with is the conservation argument. This starts from the idea that water is scarce and needs to be protected. So far so good, but the problem with this argument is the fact that for decades Irish governments have allowed billions of litres of water to seep out of the system back into the ground water. As much as 40% of all Irish treated water never reaches the end uses. But instead of putting money into fixing the infrastructure, the government have used billions of euro installing metres to bill people. This shows that the real agenda is to make people pay. Irish Water have even admitted that if people use less water as a means of conservation there bills may well go up.


(Q) Any final comments?

Seamus – Water is essential for a normal life lived with dignity. This is as true today as it was in the 1990’s when Eamon Gilmore said it and I would appeal to everyone to get involved in the campaign to stop these unfair charges. People power is the only thing that can force the government to stop putting the costs of the economic crisis on to lower and middle income families the vulnerable and the poor. People power is what PBP is all about and voting for me is just another part of an overall strategy to prioritise people’s needs not bankers greed.