THE MAGAZINE OF LABOUR YOUTH IN IRELAND VOL 3 ISSUE II 2008
THE BEST HEALTH CARE IS
GIVEN TO THE RICH
Also in this issue>>>>
Eamon Gilmore, US elections, Asylum Seekers,
Democracy in Turkey, Homelessness, Lisbon Treaty
2 The Left Tribune
On the Campaign Trail: Labour Youth 4 months on
Since our last issue November Labour Youth have been involved in a
number of campaigns and demonstrations. At the end of November we
joined Labour LGBT candle lit vigil outside the Dail show our support for
Same-Sex Marriages and Civil Unions. Following the Cancer Care
scandal, Labour Youth were first to call on Mary Harney to publicly apol-
ogise and resign. The unjust two-tier health service has been created
and is being maintained by the current PD-Fianna Fail government. A
Left Tribune is the magazine of
worrying development in Ireland today is that not having private health
Labour Youth in Ireland. We operate insurance in a sign of poverty. Dermot Looney has written an excellent
on the basis of a sustainable and article for this issue on the current state of the Health Service.
democratic socialist ethos. Fortunately there are people who stand up to the neo-liberal moves by
various institutions, for example Dan O’Neill, UCD Branch Chair tells us
As such, Left Tribune is printed on
paper which is 50% recycled and on p.8 of the attempt by UCD to introduce student charges in the UCD
50% from sustainable forests. If you Health Centre, and how the student movement in UCD successfully
are finished reading, we would ask stopped the college from doing just that.
that you pass this issue on to some-
one else - or recycle it.
Another gain Labour Youth has made, is receiving a commitment by the
All articles are copyleft - this means government to reduce the VAT on condoms from 21% down to 13.5%
that we encourage the sharing of following their World Aids Day campaign in December 2007. Hopefully
these articles and anyone is free to the government will continue to listen to Labour Youth and make all
reproduce them. However we would form of contraception completely tax-free.
ask that in the interests of those
who took their time to write and edit
this publication, that you would con- The rotten FF/PD administration extends further than the Health
tact us at the details below to let us Service, even the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees UNCR
know if you are doing so. has warned the government that their new Immigration, Residence and
We welcome articles and comments
Protection Bill falls short of good international practice particularly in
from all readers to regard to the treatment of unaccompanied minors. Joanne Doherty on
firstname.lastname@example.org p.13 outlines the shameful treatment asylum seekers face in Ireland.
The opinions expressed in Left There are many great articles in this issue that cover local, national and
Tribune are those of its contributors
and are not necessarily the policies international topics and they are definatley worth a read!
or views of Labour Youth or the
Editor: Christina Mc Sorley Condom Victory!
Deputy Editor: Laura Buttigieg
Why Labour Youth say yes to the Lisbon Treaty
Remembering Charlie Donnelly
Copy Editor: Andrew Payne Health Hazard: Why our Healthcare is in Crisis
Contributors: Christine Bohan, Paul UCD Campaign for Free Health Care
Dillon, Enda Duffy, Joanne Doherty, Poolbeg Incinerator
Holly Kilroy Dermot Looney, David Ireland’s Housing Crisis
Murphy, Hazel Nolan, Patrick Nulty,
Maria Parodi, Dan O’Neill, Conor The Red Flag Festival
Tanam Democracy in Turkey: The Fight for a Kurdish Voice
With thanks to: Cian ‘the legend’
Asylum Seekers in Ireland under Fianna Fail
O'Callaghan US Election: Special Report
On The Shelf: Labour Youth Book Reviews
Printed by: Grehan Print, Brunswick
House, Dublin 2
Roisin Shorthall answers the questions in this issue’s
Page 19 Eamon Gilmore tells us his vision for the future of the
The Left Tribune 3
Labour Youth win a Rubbery Victory
Labour Youth has led the campaign to this issue. In 2006 the Labour Youth
reduce the VAT on condoms for sev- budget submission highlighted the
eral years and the governments case for removing tax on safer sex.
announcement to reduce VAT on con- As recently as today Labour Youth
doms from 21% to 13.5% is a step in members were distributing free con-
the right direction. doms in UCD as part of the cam-
In December 2007 to mark World Aids
Day Labour Youth distributed free Speaking on the Issue Labour Youth
condoms with Proinsias De Rossa National Chairperson Enda Duffy said
M.E.P. in Grafton Street to highlight "This is a welcome initiative from the Jan O’Sullivan hands out condoms
Government who have finally decid- infront of the Dail
ed to act to reduce tax on safer sex. young people and students."
However it does not go far enough.
Under EU regulations a VAT rate as Labour Youth call on condom ven-
low as 5% is permissible on contra- dors to pass on the cut in VAT direct-
ception. It is deplorable that the gov- ly onto consumers. Anything else will
ernment is still taxing safer sex at amount to gross and ruthless profi-
rate higher than required by the EU. teering at the expense of people's
The government also needs to sexual health. The government needs
increase the supply of free contra- to take firm action against any com-
ception to target groups including panies or vendors that fail to pass on
the VAT cut.
We are Irish Citizens, not $hell
On June 29th 2005, five farmers ‘cost-effective’ a gas refinery, that in
from a rural town in Mayo were jailed itself severly lacks high safety stan-
for getting in Shell's way of its con- dards on unstable bog land is dan-
struction of a high-pressure pipeline gerous in the extreme. Will it take a
that threatened the lives and liveli- disaster in Mayo costing the lives of
hoods of their families and neigh- ourable representatives regardless the local community for us to realise
bours. Thousands of people in towns of the health and safety repercus- that what Shell and the Irish govern-
across the country including active sions Irish citizens will face on a ment are doing is negligent?
contingents of Labour Youth rallied in day-to-day basis. Although the Shell2Sea campaign
support of the men. The government, The community in Rossport are has dealt with internal difficulties and
and other political parties have understandably afraid for their fami- criticism, we have opportunity to
ignored the issues being raised by lies' safety. In June 2001 a Shell show, not only the Labour Party but
the Rossport community chosing to pipeline burst in Nigeria and crude the government too, that Shell must
take the easy way out and continue oil flowed into the waterways of a go to Sea.
to let Shell place Irish lives in dan- local village for 18 days before being
ger. finally clamped. Over 150,000 resi- For more information go to:
Shell to Sea has suffered another dents relied on the local streams for www.corribsos.com
blow in March 2007 when Mayo drinking water, many fell sick and in
County Councillors voted against the extreme cases died from the con-
tamination. This wanton pollution Local residents showing their
wishes of a considerable number of
came less than a decade after nine opposition to Shell
residents and gave their permission
to allow the council to accept €3mil- anti-Shell activists were arrested, tor-
lion from Shell, Statoil and Marathon tured and killed by the military gov-
to widen and strengthen a road to be ernment having close ties to the
used exclusively by Shell. This is just multinational corporation.
another example of how multi-nation- Furthermore, Shell refused to pay a
al organisations can buy off our $1.5 billion fine levelled by the
national resources from un-hon- Nigerian Senate for the pollution
caused by the spill. Constructing a
4 The Left Tribune
Labour Youth say YES to Europe
Hazel Nolan, Labour Youth Equality Officer explains why we all should say YES to Europe
Europe has done much to benefit and within the EU Commission. It also
improve social and economic stan- addresses this deficit in strengthening
dards in Europe. It has also acted as national parliament. If half the 27
an aid in counter balancing the suc- member states are unsatisfied then a
cession of right wing government fail- majority of national governments may
ures through the decriminalisation of demand that a measure be discarded.
homosexuality, equal pay, social wel- Regarding the militarization of the EU,
fare reform and free movement of this treaty ensures that Ireland retains
people. Europe has also held Ireland its triple lock system; this means that
to account on Environmental issues On the Lisbon Treaty it is our privilege Ireland will not send troops abroad
where weak government policy has to be in a position to vote. This is not nor join any foreign missions unless
time and again fallen short of the however an argument for voting YES, they have received a UN mandate to
international set standard. Where or indeed NO to the Lisbon Treaty, as do so. This means that the EU can
these governments have failed us some claim. We are not voting for all play a role in spreading and ensuring
Europe has delivered. the other EU members, and we can peace is maintained across the globe.
not presume to know what decision It will not mean an EU super army
Europe has also been one of the other nations would make, but it does with France, Britain and Germany
greatest purveyors of peace across imply that we should weigh up our joining together their military, which
the continent. In fact when you com- decision carefully. The argument that we could not prevent them from
pare the positive influence and role we should also vote NO to Europe on doing, now anyway if there was a will
Europe has played on pacifying and the basis that France and the for it in all three countries. The Lisbon
reforming its neighbour countries, and Netherlands returned a NO decision Treaty also mentions the need for
the positive effects this has had for on the European Constitution is improved environmental policies,
both newly joined member states and equally an irrelevant argument. which again is another progressive
those looking to join; in comparison Democracy means that everyone step towards bettering our society.
with the influence and effects the should be able to both make up their
United States has had on Central and own decision and have the freedom The treaty does not make provisions
Southern America it is clear that to arrive at their own decision. for allowing Europe to impose neo-lib-
Europe, its ideals and growth have eral policies on National Parliaments
come further then any National State So why should we vote to accept this regarding such issues as tax and the
could hope to achieve on its own. Treaty? The Treaty of Lisbon is need- health system etc. What we on the left
ed in order to accommodate the of the political spectrum do need to
This said Europe does not come with- expansion of the EU. The original work towards is ensuring that we
out its faults, namely the extent to documentation drawn up did not campaign for our policies at national
which there is a democratic deficit envisage the EU to grow t its current and European level, and co-operate
within the European Union. At present capacity and new documentation is on a broader level with our sister par-
the Commission, which is undemoc- needed to encompass this. The ties in other states. In the Dáil we are
ratic and supranational in nature Treaty of Lisbon paves the way for the the third party of the state, in the
exerts too much power over the dem- further development of the EU. For Parliament we are one of the most
ocratically decided Parliament and the first time the Charter of influential and largest groups. We
the Council f Ministers which is itself Fundamental Human Rights has should vote YES to the structures and
intergovernmental in nature. This is in been given legal status and provi- campaign in solidarity for our com-
need of reform, especially if the EU is sions. Also the treaty goes far in mon policies.
to continue its expansion. addressing the democratic deficit
Holly Kilroy chairing the public meeting on the
The well attended meeting decided Labour
Youth’s position the Lisbon Treaty
Even the Olives
The Left Tribune 5
Enda Duffy, Chairperson of Labour Youth remembers the life of
In 1931, he enrolled in University joined the front line in the Battle of
College Dublin to study, English, Jarama. On the evening of the 27th
History, Logic and Irish. Donnelly as a Donnelly's unit was caught by a fas-
student formed part of a group of cist counter attack. Joseph Donnelly
poets, writers and intellectuals, which recalls the last moments of Charlie in
included Donagh MacDonagh and his biography Charlie Donnelly, The
Nial Sherian. While not being very Life and Poems where he quotes
committed to his academic work, from the memoirs of a Canadian vol-
Donnelly was heavily involved in writ- unteer.
ing poetry and left wing politics, in "Charles Donnelly, Commander of
particular with the Republican the Irish Company, is crouched
Congress where he met Frank Ryan, behind an olive tree. He has picked a
Peadar O'Donnell, George Gilmore bunch of olives from the ground and
and Cora Hughes. is squeezing them. I hear him say
quietly during a lull of the machine
After dropping out of UCD, Donnelly gun fire 'even the olives are bleeding'.
began to write full time for the A bullet got him square in the temple
Congress newspaper and by 1935 he a few minutes later."
left for London to live with his brother
On the 27th of February 1937, the and work for the Congress's London
poet Charles Donnelly died during the Branch.
at UCD in
battle of Jarama in defence of the In 1936 the Spanish Civil War broke
Spanish Republic. 71 year later, on out and Donnelly began to encourage
the 26th of February 2008, the mem- Gilmore and Ryan to mobilise Irish
ory of this poet and political activist Volunteers to fight in Spain. At first,
was celebrated in UCD. A plaque was Gilmore and Ryan were hostile to the At the age of 22 Donnelly was dead,
unveiled to his memory and Trinity idea of an Irish mobilisation due to buried in an unmarked grave and
College Dublin's Dr. Gerard Dawe the conservative nature of Irish socie- publically remembered only by an
gave a lecture on his poetry to a ty, the control and influence of the account of his life and poems written
packed lecture theatre of over 150 Church and the continued attacks on by his brother Joseph, until now with
people. the Republican Congress by the right the erection of a plaque to his memo-
Donnelly was born on the wing media. In spite of this, Donnelly ry in UCD. The plaque was unveiled,
10th of July 1914 in Killybrackey, near convinced his comrades to begin appropriately, by his sister Christine
Dungannon, County Tyrone. The organising an Irish force. and facilitated by the UCD school of
family moved to Dundalk and then to English and several students. Sadly,
Dublin where they settled in 1928. Donnelly reached Spain in January Joseph Donnelly who has dedicated
From an early age, Donnelly 1937 where he me up with the Irish his life to the memory of his brother
immersed himself in reading and writ- James Connolly Centuira led by passed away on February 14th - only
ing poetry. It is clear from his poems Frank Ryan. They received some 12 days before the commemoration.
that he was extremely gifted writer. training and on the 23rd of February
Christy Moore has honoured the lives of the Irish that fought against Franco during the Spanish
Civil War in his song Viva la Quinta Brigada!
Viva la Quinta Brigada. "No Pasaran", the pledge that made them fight. "Adelante" is the cry around the hillside. Let
us all remember them tonight
This song is a tribute to Frank Ryan, Kit Conway and Dinny Coady too Peter Daly, Charlie Regan and Hugh Bonar
Though many died I can but name a few.
Danny Boyle, Blaser-Brown and Charlie Donnelly, Liam Tumilson and Jim Straney from the Falls, Jack Nalty, Tommy
Patton and Frank Conroy Jim Foley, Tony Fox and Dick O'Neill
Viva la Quinta Brigada. "No Pasaran", the pledge that made them fight. "Adelante" is the cry around the hillside Let
us all remember them tonight
6 The Left Tribune
INDECENT AND UNCIVILISED
The Dublin demonstration on March 29th in support of decent public healthcare brings yet another
outlet to a national anger felt at Ireland's crippled health system. Dermot Looney looks at the his-
tory of Irish healthcare and the political issues which place public opinion very firmly on the left.
There are simply no issues in poli- Emergent from a history of bit-part hegemony of subsidiarity in Irish
tics that touch us as personally and residualism and dominated by social policy.
emotively as health. All of us have today's self-serving neoliberal agen-
been patients to varying degrees. da, it is no wonder that people in Halfway through the twentieth cen-
Many of us have been deeply Ireland are becoming increasingly tury, just a couple of years after Nye
involved as family members, profes- enraged at the failure to provide a Bevan could successfully launch a
sionals or others in the vast array of world class public health system. comprehensive National Health
services and institutions that com- Service across the Irish Sea that
prise Irish healthcare. Matters of Ireland's experience with healthcare was universal, paid for through gen-
death and life, pain and recovery in the modern age has been borne eral taxation and free at the point of
and suffering and wellness affect us out of traditions of poverty and access, a mild effort by a fellow
innately. The strings of conscience exclusion, along with the unseemly socialist towards a much narrower
and empathy are pulled for all as alliance of liberal economics with the universalist provision for mothers
shared experiences of illness and pre-eminence of the Catholic hierar- and their children in the Republic of
treatment strike universal chords. chy. An unconnected system of vol- Ireland was met with a vicious
untary religious-based institutions response from the hierarchy and
Therefore, it is not surprising to have dominated from the first semblance medical profession.
seen and heard the unprecedented of public healthcare for the 'deserv-
levels of personal testimony across ing poor' under the workhouse sys- Noel Browne's attempts to follow up
the airwaves and in print from those tems to recent times. his successful campaign against the
most affected by deficiencies in Irish scourge of tuberculosis with the
healthcare in recent times. Initial attempts to socialise medicine Mother and Child Scheme ended in
were mere pipe dreams against the defeat for his proposals. But his
exposé of the role of the Church and
Irish Medical Association in the
aftermath showed that, despite gov-
ernmental efforts to take onboard
public healthcare more seriously
with the formation of a Department
of Health in 1947, true power contin-
ued to lie in the hands of wealthy
doctors and powerful clerics.
Shamefully, the initial support for the
scheme from the Labour Party mem-
bers in government was soon with-
drawn in the face of pressure from
institutions and individuals of the
2006 Protest to stop the closure of our National Childrens deepest conservatism. The scandal
Hospital in Tallagh also played a part in the downfall of
The Left Tribune 7
Jan O’ Sullivan TD addresses a rally in Supporters show their opposition at the
protest o f Mary Harney’s negligence dur- November protest
ing the cancer tests controversery
the Clann na Poblachta party and of the focus of the widespread criti- the left; supportive of public health
instilled a fear factor for those pursu- cism has been on the scandalous and not the need for outsourcing our
ing progressive health policies for a levels of incompetence and repeat- sick people to private profiteers.
generation. ed 'systems failures' - a term
devised, no doubt, to make adminis- An already-unacceptable two-tier
Health reforms have come and trators and healthcare professionals system which forced those lucky
gone, with the 1980's being a key sound more like machines than enough to afford it to take out private
time for cuts in beds and care due to members of government-devised health insurance has been exacer-
a series of regressive budgets. The teams and struc- bated to the point
economic prosperity of the late tures. There has No society can that it could now
1990's should have brought about a
sea change in the provision of a
also been an enor-
legitimately call itself be argued that not
media, civilized if a sick person insurance is now a
healthcare policy that in secondary from
(hospital) care is ostensibly univer- patients groups and is denied medical aid sign of poverty in
sal and free. But instead of the professionals on itself. The cam-
extension and expansion of provi- hospital cleanli- because of lack of paign for a system
sion at both primary and secondary ness, an issue means that is both public
levels, and in mental health and which 10 years ago and decent recog-
other key sectors, the record of suc- would have seemed one truly at the nises the need for improvements in
cessive Fianna Fáil-led administra- micro-level. competence to be based on and
tions has been one of politically- accompanied by a commitment to
motivated sham. Support for their It is crucial for Labour and the left to public healthcare, not a system
private sector friends and an outright address issues such as these not which, fancy language and specious
refusal to extend medical card cover only in terms of competence, but as arguments notwithstanding, contin-
for the less well-off have been just a result of a series of political deci- ues to reward those who happen to
two of the moral outrages led by sions by the most avowedly right- be very rich. It seems the concentra-
these governments. wing Irish government in the last 50 tion of power has remained in the
years. Chronic underfunding in a hands of elites all along; be it the
Understandably and correctly, much number of key areas - not least Church hierarchy, conservative doc-
recruitment - as well as a political tors or, increasingly, the healthcare
decision to effectively outsource the capitalists.
administration of healthcare to the
HSE, a highly centralised body with Nye Bevan, the visionary socialist
no real public accountability, were a behind the British NHS, wrote in his
result of governmental policy. The book In Place of Fear that "no soci-
unapologetic neoliberalism of the ety can legitimately call itself civi-
Progressive Democrats made an lized if a sick person is denied med-
easy bedfellow for the conservative ical aid because of lack of means."
dodgery of Fianna Fáil. Such an appalling vista exists in one
of the supposed wealthiest countries
But, significantly for Labour and the in the world. If we are to rediscover
left, the economic thrust of health our civility and compassion as a
provision in terms of the privatisa- society, retaining the morality of
tion agenda has also been a source public and universal healthcare will
of enormous opposition across the be at the forefront of the campaign
country. For now, it certainly seems for change.
St. Vincent’s Private Hospital that public opinion is very firmly on
8 The Left Tribune
An Additional Fee on Student Health Care?
We Deserve Better
Dan O’Neill, Chairperson of UCD Labour and activist for UCD Students for Free Health Care tells
us how successful a student movement can be when united in the face of encroaching
Due to the shear size of UCD, many Campaigns involving students have
illnesses can be easily transmitted secured real reductions in Third
and for that reason it is highly impor- World debt, a global agreement limit-
tant that students are able to go to the ing trade in genetically modified
doctor without worrying about the organisms and an international treaty
cost. banning landmines. Student's fought
down in Carnsore point so that we
Everyone agrees that the current could live in a safe, nuclear free
health service in UCD is far from per- Ireland today and won! Students
fect due to the fact it is under ensured we don't pay fees to go to
resourced; however the solution to college!
the problem is not making students
pay twice. When one looks at the fact Student activism and campaigns are
that in the last five years, the amount important. We have the power to
of money spent by the UCD authori- make Ireland and the world a better
ties on consultancy firms has gone up place. It would be irresponsible not to
We all know how expensive it can be four fold to 4 and a half million a year, use it.
to see a doctor when we are ill. In it is easy to draw the conclusion that
fact, many of us have probably student money is being spent in the How can we do this?
skipped visiting the doctor in the past wrong way. What makes matters 1) Join campaigns that take direct
because of lack of money. Doctors worse is that in a recent student/staff action, not those that merely make
fees in this country are highly expen- survey, it was reported that moral was you feel good. Beware of all cam-
sive compared to other EU countries incredibly low; proof that student paigns and staged events led by rock
which often means that students and money being spent on consultants is stars or those in power. There are
other young adults don't feel they clearly not working. plenty of others, from the campaigns
have enough money to see the doctor of the World Development
when ill. In many European countries If UCD's President Hugh Brady Movement, the anti-war movement or
GP care is free at the point of use yet wants to put UCD on the map as an any of those organised by Labour
in Ireland, a country with a strong outstanding university, what better Youth.
economy; we are now being told that way than to provide students with
free health care can't even be sup- quality, free services that are unavail- 2)Write to your TD, but don't allow
plied to students. able in other campuses. Students yourself to be fobbed off with the
cannot accept the dogma that placing standard rubbish they come out with
Lucky for the students of Ireland's hidden costs on students will make on Questions and Answers. Better
biggest university UCD, they have an UCD a better place. This is simply not than writing, turn up at your TDs office
on campus doctor which students can true! and demand to know what he or she
visit if they cannot afford to go to their is doing about so-and-so.They call to
regular GP. Rather than paying for Health care is a right not a privilege our houses at election time when
this doctor every time you get and that is the motto under which the they're looking for a vote; give them a
checked out, students pay for the student movement should unite! The taste of their own medicine. But be
doctor's service through their annual victory won by UCDSU and UCD well armed with facts.
registration fee that's supposed to go Students for Free Health Care shows
towards student services. Recently, what students can achieve when they 3) The most important advice I've
however, the UCD authorities work together on an issue that they ever heard is "encourage people!"
attempted to introduce an additional feel passionately about. People today are always told that
cost to this service making students they are powerless and when people
pay around €20 per visit. Student activism should not, howev- don't use the power they have, peo-
er, stop at local issues. Throughout ple like Hitler appear and use it
This regressive measure was fought history, students have worked to cre- instead...If you get active, try your
by both UCD Student's Union and ate substantial political, environmen- best to encourage people to do the
many student activists in the form of tal, economic, and social change. same!!!
UCD Students For Free Health Care Since the 1880s students have been
and the plans to introduce a fee were involved in Student Councils/Unions UCD Students for Free Health Care is
taken off the table. A significant victo- and other activist movements, speak- an independent campaign group sup-
ry for the student movement! ing up for what they believe in. ported by UCD’s Student Union.
The Left Tribune 9
POOLBEG: A Waste of Time and Energy
Maria Parodi, resident of the Dublin inner-city ward and Equality Officer for the Labour Party's
Dublin South East constituency tells the Left Tribune why the proposed incinerator is a waste of
resources and raises questions over the decision made by the authorities to give it the all-clear.
In September 2007, Dublin City Quinn TD, Cllr. Kevin Humphreys,
Council entered into a contract, which Cllr. Dermot Lacey, Cllr. Oisin Quinn
granted Dublin Waste to Energy Ltd. and Cllr. Mary Freehill submitted a
permission to design, build, operate combined objection and made a
and finance an incinerator in Poolbeg. request for an oral hearing. The DSE
This incinerator will be the largest in Labour objection cited several con-
Ireland and will accept 600,000 cerns with the proposed incinerator.
tonnes of waste each year. Some of which, included the need for
Additionally, this contract included a a health impact assessment to be
'put and pay' clause which will greatly carried out, greater clarity on the
affect how this incinerator operates in transportation of waste through the
Dublin. The arrangement has guaran- Port Tunnel and the impact that the
teed that the local authority will have impending waste policy reform will
to supply a minimum amount of waste have on the need for incineration.
to the incinerator each year; in addi-
tion, if they fail to do so there will be In reaction to the decisions made by
financial penalties. Ultimately, any An Bord Pleanála and the EPA, sev- Maria Parodi and Cllr Kevin
penalty incurred will be at the eral public meetings were held which Humphries on the Campaign trail
expense of the taxpayer. Incinerators were well attended by Dublin South as, the need to promote a strong
demand continuous waste delivery; East Labour representatives Ruairi indigenous recycling industry in
therefore, 'put and pay' schemes Quinn TD, Cllr. Kevin Humphreys and Ireland. 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' is a
undermine any incentives to 'reduce, Cllr. Dermot Lacey. Their contribu- concept that primarily separates
reuse, and recycle.' tions from the floor confirmed waste at the source and is the foun-
Labour's ongoing commitment to dation for the minimisation of waste.
On the 19th November 2007, An Bord opposing this incinerator. As a resi- Secondly, we should encourage 'com-
Pleanála granted planning permission dent of the area, after attending these posting' since it has been recorded
for the proposed Incinerator on the public meetings, I felt that many resi- that almost 30 percent of household
Poolbeg Peninsula. Despite 2,000 dents are still avidly opposed to this waste and 20 percent of commercial
objections from residents and an incinerator and are eager to continue waste in Ireland is biodegradable.
ongoing local campaign against the campaigning. In light of this, I organ- Lastly, we should explore the use of
incinerator, one week later a second ised a table quiz to highlight the cur- Mechanical Biological Treatment
blow was dealt to the anti-incinerator rent issues surrounding the incinera- (MBT), which deals with residual
campaign when the EPA announced it tor. The event was mainly an aware- waste. MBT combines mechanical
intentions to grant a draft license to ness raising fundraiser with the pro- and biological processes that cleans-
Dublin City Council to operate the ceeds going in aid of CRAI es and stabilises residual waste.
plant. Along with this, the EPA set a (Combined Residents against the
deadline of a 28-day period to submit Incinerator). Local Labour Cllr. Kevin This process greatly reduces the
objections against the proposed incin- Humphreys attended on the night and quantity and toxicity of residual waste
erator. was able to demonstrate his continu- and the potential to produce methane.
ous support for the campaign. It is important to note, that MBT does
In response, Labour Party represen- not eliminate the need for a final dis-
tatives for Dublin South East Ruairi While incinerators have been promot- posal option. Although, it reduces the
ed as being "waste to energy" facili- overall waste sent to landfills and the
ties in fact, they generate very little in remainder is then treated; therefore,
energy in comparison to the amount eliminating the negative climate
of energy they use, which does not impacts and toxic emissions.
rationalise the large cost that goes
into constructing and maintaining In order for these three alternatives to
them. Incineration is an outdated waste management to be successful,
method of dealing with waste; and it is it must be a national priority for gov-
unfortunate that there have not been ernment. This would entail investing
any sufficient efforts made to explore in the appropriate resources, infra-
alternative ways of addressing waste structure and information that would
management. allow these concepts to take hold.
The Labour Party has highlighted
some alternatives to incineration such
A Right to Housing in Ireland
10 The Left Tribune
44 Beresford Avenue, Bertie
Ahern’s house at the centre of the
Patrick Nulty former Chair of Labour Youth explains why the Irish Government needs to address
the housing problem in Ireland
Despite a ten year boom in the do have an established housing poli- Number 4" adopted by the United
housing market there is still a signifi- cy to guide government housing pro- Nations Committee on Economic,
cant number of people facing vision but these minimal steps are still Social and Cultural Rights.
Homelessness and housing exclusion not being implemented by the pres-
in contemporary Ireland. The Irish ent government. How many people are in Housing
system is characterised by TCD need?
Professor P.J. Drudy as a "system of The Housing Act 1988, imposes a
winners and losers". From this per- clear responsibility on Housing Most recent data from the 2005
spective the winners are landlords, Authorities to provide accommodation National Housing Needs assessment
property speculators, developers and for people experiencing homeless- conducted by all local authorities for
homeowners. The losers in Irish ness however it created uncertainty the Department of Environment found
housing include the regarding which that 43,684 households were in need
homeless, people The demand for social agency should have of social housing. This figure incorpo-
on low income, ten- primary responsibility rates among others people living in
ants and people
and affordable housing for the provision of unfit or overcrowded accommodation,
with special needs. still far exceeds supply care, support, reset- people leaving institutional state care,
The reason for this tlement and outreach people in involuntary shared accom-
polarisation in housing outcomes for services to the homeless. While modation as well as those who fall
people is due to the market driven homeless people are entitled to be into the specific definition homeless
philosophy that has underpinned gov- considered for housing by local as defined by the 1988 Housing Act.
ernment policy for a decade now. authorities, there are few tenancies There are 35,924 children on the
Housing is seen as a commodity to be available; in particular to single peo- housing waiting list with their parents.
bought and sold on the market rather ple who comprise the vast majority of The Counted In survey assess the
than a social right. the homeless population. number out of home in Dublin. It takes
place every three years. The 2005
The alternative approach is to view I firmly believe that Irish public policy survey found that the number of
Housing as an enabling and empow- in relation to housing should move to homeless persons in Dublin were
ering social right. A rights based a rights based approach to housing. 2,015. Of these 463 were children. It
approach to housing is the philosophy The first step should be to legislate to is important to note that given the
that underpins Labour Party housing amend the 1988 Housing Act so that transient and constantly changing
policy and is also favoured by NGOs all citizens have a right to housing nature of homelessness and the
who work directly with people experi- and that ultimately such a position methodology employed this figure
encing acute housing need like Focus should be incorporated into the Irish represents a snapshot in time rather
Ireland and Threshold. Sadly Ireland Constitution by referendum. A legal than a definitive total. The vast major-
has no established right to housing. It right to housing would guarantee in ity of households (94%) on the 2005
is historically weak by way of compar- law Security of Tenure, Affordability, housing list had an income of below
ison to other neighbouring EU coun- Accessibility and cultural appropriate- €20,000 per anum. This confirms that
tries. This is in stark contrast to coun- ness. lower income households are on the
tries like Finland, Sweden and housing list. Thus, there is an estab-
Portugal in which all citizens have a The most authoritative interpretation lished empirically verifiable link
constitutional and legislative right to of the right to adequate housing between housing exclusion and
housing. Although Ireland does not under international human rights law poverty.
have either of these two measures we is provided by "General Comment
The Left Tribune 11
What other policy measures would selves independently in their own liv- likely be unable to sustain a tenancy.
help tackle housing exclusion? ing environment. This can be due to There is also a critical need to invest
mental health issues, addiction or a more in the inspection, registration
Apart from introducing a legal right to need to develop certain life skills. and regulation of properties in the pri-
housing there are a number of differ- Budget 2008 provided the govern- vate rented sector to ensure tenure
ent policy measures which would help ment with an opportunity to invest in security and high standards of
tackle housing need. The demand for Supported Housing to ensure more accommodation for tenants; particu-
social and affordable housing still far long-term supported homes are sup- larly those on low income.
exceeds supply. Homelessness and plied to vulnerable
unmet housing needs impact serious- groups. This would Everyone has a Any comprehensive hous-
ly on a person's health, educational have improve the lives right to a place they ing reform policy will
opportunities and capacity to secure of more people by sup- can call home. require changes in the tax
employment. It also places a huge porting them to live in code. In my view this
personal strain on individuals and their own homes. Without this sup- should involve increasing capital
families, particularly children. The port many of these vulnerable people gains tax to 40% and also taxing
most crucial element in any strategy can suffer repeat homelessness. property speculation and investment.
aimed at tackling housing needs must Homelessness represents a stage in There is also a need to place a resi-
be the provision of high quality, a person's life which they can move dential property tax back on the polit-
secure social housing for people who out of and into long-term sustainable ical agenda. I share the vision of
are homeless and thousands of oth- housing. NGOs like Focus Ireland who say that
ers in housing need. Between 2003 "everyone has a right to a place they
and 2006 Ireland's 34 local authorities There is a critical need for accelera- can call home". The free market is
collected over €60million in lieu of tion in the provision of social housing. functionally incapable of meeting the
social housing as part of Part V of the It is also vital for a proportion of this housing needs of everyone in society.
2000 Planning and Development Act. housing to be provided with a dedicat- What is urgently required is a reorien-
This revenue should now be invested ed funding stream for supported tation of public policy both in philo-
in social housing for those in need as housing. This would act to help tackle sophical and practical terms. Housing
a matter of urgency. and prevent homelessness by allow- is a right and should be available to all
ing social housing providers to meet based on need - such an approach is
Many people who are out of home are the needs of a range of vulnerable the only way to move towards an
not in a position to sustain them- groups who would otherwise most inclusive and egalitarian society.
The Red Flag Festival 2008
The Irish Workers Beer Company and the Jim Connell Memorial Committee are proud to present the 10th anniver-
sary of the unveiling of the monument to Jim Connell - the man who wrote the "Red Flag" - the song sung by
socialists all over the world.
Jim Connell was born in Kishyre, a couple of miles from Crossakiel; he made his last address in Ireland to a crowd of
600, at Crossakiel in 1918. In 1998, through the efforts of the Irish and English Labour movements, a monument was
unveiled in his memory. These organisations are again providing financial support and additional sponsorship is
being sought from businesses in the local area.
This momentous occasion will be celebrated by a free festival which will take place on Sunday 4th May 2008 at
Crossakiel, Kells, Co Meath.
The theme of the event is the celebration of International Solidarity, Community Inclusiveness, Workers rights,
Fairtrade, and Environmental Awareness.
Music will be across 2 stages, there will be an area for political debate, children are positively welcomed and a vari-
ety of activities will be available for them to participate and enjoy.
12 The Left Tribune
Call for a
Holly Kilroy, International Officer of Labour Youth writes about
the struggles faced by the Kurdish people in Turkey and their
campaign for democracy.
On 22nd July 2007, Sebahat Tuncel tion to open mindedness, status of elections however, members of
collected her belongings and made women, and distance from Islamic Deputy Tuncel's party, the
her way amongst throbbing crowds fundamentalism. Democratic Society Party (DTP), cir-
from her prison cell, straight to the cumnavigated this law by campaign-
Turkish Parliament. Having been About half of all Kurds reside in ing as independents and only once
falsely accused of association with Turkey and make up an estimated they were elected, grouping together.
the illegal Kurdistan Workers Party 20% of the Turkish population. Since
(PKK), she was finally released after 1915 they have struggled continually Twenty-one DTP MP's were elected
her election to Parliament with a to end Turkish repression. During the in this way, eight of whom are women.
record breaking 93,000 votes. 1980's Turkey began a program of This high percentage of female repre-
forced assimilation of its Kurdish pop- sentation is in part thanks to the
Last November Deputy Tuncel trav-
elled to Ireland to speak with Labour
representatives about the plight of her
people. Sebahat Tuncel is one of over
ulation. Use of the
“ 37,000 people have DTP's quota which
aims for 40% women,
was outlawed and died in the conflict and a starting with a male
Turks denied the further 380,000 Kurds and female joint chair.
35 million Kurds from an area known existence of a sepa- have been displaced (Unfortunately this
as Kurdistan that spans parts of
Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. For cen-
turies, across the board, Kurds have
rate Kurdish ethnic
” equality is not carried
group. This culminated in 1984 when into all walks of Kurdish society where
the PKK began a rebellion against women often reap the whirlwind of
been systematically repressed and Turkish rule attacking Turkish military poor economic circumstances.) With
denied many basic human rights. and civilian targets. The Turkish gov- such a successful election came
ernment responded by wiping out great hope for improved relations and
Fear of the Kurdish ethnic nationalism Kurdish villages. Due to these tactics, progress in negotiations between the
has led governments to do their best 37,000 people have died in the con- Kurds and the Turkish government.
to quash the Kurdish culture and flict and a further 380,000 Kurds have
assimilate them into various Middle been displaced. Yet Ms Tuncel as walks the halls of
Eastern societies. Yet the Kurds the parliament buildings, faces turn
retain their own distinctive culture The human rights of Kurds in Turkey and she is greeted only with silence.
derived from shared history, traditions hardly fare much better today. It was Why is this so? Is it because what the
and language. With largely Iranian in 1991, partially due to Turkish EU Kurds seek is so unreasonable?
origins, they are viewed with a accession talks, that Turkey legalised Today the majority of Kurds, the DTP
European nuance by most of their use of the Kurdish language. and even the PKK, are looking not for
Arab neighbours, particularly in rela- However it is heavily restricted in and independent state, but democra-
broadcasting and still banned in pub- cy. That was one message Deputy
lic schools and the political arena. In Tuncel was eager for us to under-
1994 Leyla Zana was sentenced to stand: "Real democracy and equality
15 years imprisonment for making her is more important than independ-
MP inauguration speech partly in ence." Ideally this would result in
Kurdish. Just last year, the Mayor of democratic autonomy and some sort
Diyarbakir, Osman Baydemir, was of Kurdish Federation, but that is not
dismissed for sending out Happy New their primary concern.
Year cards which included Kurdish What the Kurds want, and what
spelling. Ireland and the EU must push Turkey
for, is plain and simple, they want
A ban on the formation of parliamen- equality and representation. And they
tary parties on an ethnic basis makes need it now.
it difficult for Kurds to band together
Sebhat Tuncel and fight for their rights. In the 2007
The Left Tribune 13
Asylum Seekers in Ireland
Joanne Doherty, Labour Youth activist, writes about the reality
of Fianna Fail’s treatement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland
With the possible establishment of of the Rights of the Child and the
detention centres, the lack of trans- 1991 Child Care Act. The case of 19
parency and fairness within the appli- year old Adijat Okusanya who was
cation process, and the absence of deported to Nigeria last year despite
protection for separated child asylum fears for her safety, having spent the
seekers, the current government has previous 4 years in Ireland, points to
shown great disregard for internation- the lack of recognition of her age and
al law that aims to protect the right of particular circumstances on leaving
persons in seeking asylum. Nigeria.
The introduction of detention centres The interview stage has been widely
will not only create fear among those criticised due to the absence of prop-
who come to Ireland in the hope of erly trained translators and the intimi-
being granted asylum, but the whole dation experienced by applicants.
idea of detaining certain asylum seek- This is particularly problematic for
ers suggests that the act of seeking unaccompanied children, who may
asylum is illegal, when in reality and have little knowledge of their country Olivia and Great Agbonlahor in
in law it is a fundamental human right of origin and who may not have any Nigeria
for those fleeing fear of persecution. documents with them when entering Unaccompanied minors are being
into Ireland (a requirement within the held in centres which fail to reach the
Up until now only a small number Immigration, Residence and National Standards for Children's
people have been granted asylum in Protection Bill). The Irish Refugee Residential Centres. Likewise inspec-
Ireland, generally on appeal, and Council recommends for published tions of these centres appear to be
even less people have been granted guidelines to be put in place when minimal. However the Irish Refugee
leave to remain. Legal procedures interviewing children, taking into Council have commented that over
are accelerated in relation to appli- account the effect trauma has on 300 child asylum seekers have gone
cants who have come from "safe" memory and recall. The Refugee missing from care in Ireland since
countries of origin, most notably Appeals Tribunal has also come 2001, indicating that the HSE has
Nigeria. This strategy illustrates how under criticism by the Irish Refugee failed to protect these children. The
the system fails to take into account Council for its lack of transparency weekly payment of €9.60 (child asy-
the diverse backgrounds of asylum and differing outcomes. lum seekers are not entitled to child
seekers and the different reasons for benefit) has made integration more
leaving their country of origin. Last year, three asylum seekers went difficult for these young people and
to court and won the right to have judging by the Taoiseach's response
This can be seen in the case of Great their cases to be not heard by one to Eamon Gilmore, there will not be
Agbonlahor, a Nigerian boy with member of the Tribunal because of any increases made in direct provi-
autism, whose case failed on appeal his bias in granting asylum at appeal sion in the foreseeable future.
and was subsequently deported back stage. The special circumstances of
to Nigeria where there is little support unaccompanied aged out minors has The asylum system fails to take into
for children with autism and where not been recognised in the account the special circumstances of
stigma is attached to those with learn- Immigration, Residency and aged-out unaccompanied minors,
ing difficulties, the system failing to Protection Bill, where separated chil- where separated children who reach
take into account the UN Convention dren will still be subject to the same the age of 18 are faced with the
legal procedures as adults in the asy- prospect of deportation despite their
lum process. The treatment of sepa- reasons for coming to Ireland. The
rated children seeking asylum in current government has an opportuni-
Ireland shows how the State has ty to improve these areas of the asy-
been in breach of the UN Convention lum system by making amendments
on the Rights of the Child already rat- to the Immigration, Residency and
ified by Ireland. The Convention high- Protection Bill or any new Bill that
lights that all States are obliged to emerges in this area. We in the
treat all children in their jurisdiction Labour Party need to work with the
without any discrimination of any kind. Irish Refugee Council and other
The HSE in 2005 acknowledged that NGOs that advocate the rights of asy-
Former holiday camp, Mosney
separated child asylum seekers are lum seekers to ensure that the
now houses 1000’s of people
not being treated equally to Irish citi- Government makes these changes.
applying for Asylum Status in
zen children in the provision of care.
14 The Left Tribune
With the on going battle for the democratic nomination, Labour Youth hosted a lively discussing dur-
ing their annual Connelly Festival focusing on whether a democrat will bring peace to the
Whitehouse. Conor Tanam, Labour Youth activist looks at the democratic race for the golden nom-
On the 19/01/2009 the disaster that is defence, a smaller, more accountable being dramatically eroded by a young
George W Bush's presidency will government, economic growth and African American Senator. The rise
come to an end. The following day a opportunity, the dignity of life and tra- and massive popularity of Barack
new Commander In Chief will be ditional values. He has consistently Obama coupled with a strong grass-
sworn in. The race thus far has made supported the war in Iraq and recent- roots organisation has ensured that
for a fascinating drama which has had ly declared that US troops may need Mr Obama is now leading Hillary in
blanket media coverage since the first to stay for another hun- the number of states
primary in Iowa back in January. The dred years. Despite the won and pledged dele-
Republican race for the nomination massive civilian casualties Barack Obama is gates. There is very lit-
ticket has ended with former preacher and anarchy that is the eating into Hillary’s tle difference in terms
Mick Huckabee conceeding to reality in Iraq there is no once concrete of policy between both
Senator John Mc Cain. On the mention of the safety of support base of candidates. This is
Democratic side there are also Iraqi citizens or the atro- freely acknowledged by
remaining potential candidates, an cious actions of America women and blue both campaign teams.
African American and a woman. in Abu Gharib and beyond. collar workers. It is a choice that may
Despite the clichéd terminology this rest in the hands of
truly is an historic election and one On the domestic front he is more lib- super delegates when the Democrats
which will have major ramifications for eral than some stalwart conservatives hold their convention in August. The
the future of America and indeed the are comfortable with. He supported a intense battle that is now raging
wider world. . bill that would have given greater between Mrs Clinton and her strong
rights to immigrants. In addition he is challenger may not be settled before
Senator John Mc Cain looks set to be highly critical of the role that special the party meets a mere two months
the Republican candidate when the interests have played in Washington before the nation goes to the polls.
nation goes to the polls. He is a dec- politics. The Roe Vs Wade case
orated war veteran who fought in the which allowed for abortion nationwide The two candidates aim to put an end
Vietnam war and was imprisoned for should be overturned, he argues that to the war in Iraq. The easy option
over five years in a camp known as it is up to individual states to make a would be to criticise Mrs Clinton for
the Hanoi Hilton. This experience decision on the highly contentious voting to support the war without
has left him physically damaged and issue. Despite massive criticism from mentioning that Mr Obama, in his
the Republican party will be eager to the right Mc Cain fully accepts that 'opposition' to the war, voted to
stress his war record once both par- global warming is a real threat to the increase federal funds for the war
ties have selected their respective future of the planet and sees a strong effort when he had the chance. The
candidates. economy and environment as inextri- question we need to ask is if Obama
cably linked. were a senator in 2002 would he have
His website argues that Senator Mc voted against the war? Nevertheless
Cain is a common sense conservative The Democratic race has seen the Mr Obama has pledged to close
who believes in a strong national once mighty lead of Hillary Clinton Guantanamo Bay and to restore
The Left Tribune 15
habeas corpus. Mrs Clinton does not base of women and blue collar work- formidable Clinton machine.
mention either. Both candidates right- ers. Hillary's latest advertising asks
ly argue that America needs to for more debates with her opponent The success of Obama has crossed
restore its standing in the world. as she argues that Obama would political and social divides. His mes-
Barack Obama seeks to engage with rather make speeches then debate sage resonates with Democrats,
those that America has traditionally the issues. It is a message that is Independents and Republicans. His
reviled as he believes that only falling on deaf ears as voters over- speeches speak of a new hope for
through dialogue that progress can be whelmingly flock to Barack Obama. America, one that can move beyond
made. In contrast Mrs Clinton would petty party politics in order to solve
prefer to continue a policy of splendid Despite the massive media hype sur- the many problems that the United
isolation towards these regimes. rounding Barack Obama this race is States faces. The claim that he has
far from over. Hillary has made some- no experience is an empty one; he
As Obama surged the Clinton cam- what of a comeback in winning the has been involved in politics for twen-
paign has become increasingly delegate rich states of Ohio and ty years. If he is selected as the
native. This was evident in South Texas. She was written off following Democratic candidate polls indicate
Carolina when Bill Clinton made her Iowa defeat, yet managed to he will beat John Mc Cain. It is of
some ill considered remarks where he regain momentum with her victory in utmost importance that a new style of
compared Barack to Jesse Jackson's New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton must politics comes to the fore in
unsuccessful run in 1984 and 1988. win over 50 percent of the remaining Washington. Obama can deliver that
Not surprisingly this did not translate primary and caucus delegates to change and for those of us who have
into a victory for the Clinton camp. close the tight gap between herself the audacity of hope to support him
Since Super Tuesday Barack Obama and Obama. Unless a massive turn in these are exciting times. Yes we can.
has won ten states in a row and is Barack's fortunes lies ahead her task
eating into the once concrete support may be beyond the reach of even the
16 The Left Tribune
On The Bookshelf
We give our verdict on some of the most popular books in the Labour Youth library.
More Time for Politics - 2001/2007 Labour leader-where Foot lashes Benn for allowing the
right wing daily mail to serialize the diaries and Benn
By Tony Benn reminds Foot of his relationship with Ruport Murdoch-is a
brief reminder of political divisions of yesterday.
Former cabinet Minister Tony Benn has kept a diary since
his late teens. Volumes of his diaries are available in print The diaries are often very funny. Benn’s battles with some
from 1940 and reflect Benn's political life over seven of the perils of old age, his encounters on buses and trains
decades. and his commentary on left wing groups are among the
many amusing aspects of the volume.
The latest volume picks up where Free at last-Diaries
1991-2001 left off. Benn left parliament in May 2001 in So More time for Politics is not just an interesting and
order to "devote more time to politics", and the latest vol- educative read from a political point of view, but a highly
ume of diaries detail his political endeavors since 2001. amusing and readable account of the life of one of the true
Benn's personal life is also well covered, and he details legends of modern left wing politics.
relationships with family and friends in more detail than in
the previous volumes of the diaries.
Reviewed by Paul Dillon
Benn's involvement in campaigns against the Iraq war are
well documented. He describes his visit to Iraq, his sec- To listen to Tony Benn’s visit to TCD last year visit
ond , his involvement in marches and his many speeches www.thehist.ie and follow the path outline: Home>
in support of peace. When I met Tony Benn in October Archives> Sessions> 2000-Present> 237th> Highlights
2005, he told me he had just done 30 meetings in 30 days.
The records of meetings, organised by left wing organisa- See also www.tonybenn.net for many of Tony Benn's
tions, pressure groups, churches and as part of his tour of speeches and articles.
public lectures, are among the highlights of the diary and
will be enjoyed by left wingers familiar with such political
The diaries continue to document Benn's involvement in
the Labour Party. He describe his work with the Socialist
Campaign Group of Labour MPs, the Labour
Representation committee, set up to "refound the Labour
Party", and his attendance at the annual Labour Party
conference. One of the interesting aspects of Benn's com-
mentary on the Labour Party is his ability to put events in
a historical context (Benn has been active in the party
since he was 18). Equally, his unwillingness to personal-
ize political shines through. The political analysis is
strengthened as a result.
The diaries remind the reader of Benn's political battles of Tony Benn, now enjoying his senior years
old. The record of a bad tempered phone call with former
The Left Tribune 17
The Irish Labour is the Achilles Heel of the A Long Way Gone
Labour Party. Habitually it rips
Party 1922-73 it's self to shreds over this
By Ishmael Beah
By Niamh Puirseil issue. Every time the party
enters government with Fine A Long Way Gone is the story of Ishmael Beah's
Gael, it loses seats at the next journey through war torn Sierra Leone. Now 26 he
election. The first and second writes of the horrors that he and a whole genera-
interparty governments were tion of children suffered.
so ineffective that they ensured
Fianna Fail would remain the Ishmael was 12 when the war began for him, his
dominant party in Ireland for village of mine workers was attacked by the RUF
many years. and he was separated from his parents. From that
point on the reader sees the brutality of war
through a child's eyes, it is uncensored and dis-
Pitifully, the only achievement turbing. While desperately trying to survive and
the second interparty govern- find a safe place Ishmael finds a country torn apart
ment could boast of was reduc- by violence.
ing the price of butter. After a
brief while on the left in the late Like thousands of children he roams from town to
sixties, but when the seventies town facing death from local militias, rebel's or
weren't socialist Labour moved government troops. In brutal living conditions he
to the right and entered govern- and a small group of boys travel, alienated as peo-
ment only to leave it with fewer ple fear children because of the atrocities being
Niamh Puirseil's The Irish seats than it entered. committed by child soldiers. Later taken into the
Labour Party 1922-73 is a com- government army at the age of 13 the reader sees
prehensive history of the first a fundamentally good and gentle child do terrible
fifty years of the Labour Party The fascinating thing about this things.
in Dail Eireann. book is that it reveals the active
and vibrant left that has always
occupied the conscience of the
Puirseil delves deep into the Labour Party. From the early
archives of the party and out- days of the Labour Youth
lines the many problematic and Movement to the anti-coalition-
tumultuous events that faced ist Liaison of the Left commit-
the organisation. From the red tee in the seventies, Puirseil
scare of the thirties and forties presents a narrative that
to socialism in the seventies, encapsulates the broad social-
this book documents and offers ist outlook of these groups and
insights into the reasons why their
the Labour Party never made a
significant breakthrough onto
the Irish political landscape. leaders, including young Jim
Larkin who Puirseil describes Hopped up on cocaine and brainwashed by his
as being a leader that the commander, Ishmael is sent into the killing fields to
The blame is directed at many Labour Party should have had. commit the same atrocities that destroyed his life.
individuals and institutions. Larkin, unlike his father, was Two years later he is rescued from the violence by
William Norton is often blamed respected in all quarters of pol- UNICEF to begin a tough and seemingly impossi-
for the dramatic shift to the right itics. However, it was not to be, ble rehabilitation. Through this book the reader
during his thirty year leadership and Larkin is often shadowed see's the chaos and destruction of war.
of the party - thirty years of his- by the respect his father
tory that are rarely discussed in receives in Irish history. Beah describes a country gripped by fear and pain
party circles today. Disputes in often too vividly, it is not fiction and the reader can
the trade union movement are distance themselves from it. However, though the
discussed, along with the All in all, The Irish Labour Party book is often harrowing and frequently heart
impact they had on the Labour 1922-73 is an enthralling read breaking it still shows redemption and hope. The
Party. She illustrates the role that deserves much academic reader can only be amazed how strength and
the church played in the sup- and literary credit. Unlike decency can persevere through such horrors as
pression of socialism and the Ferriter's Judging Dev, those witnessed by Ishmael Beah.
profound impact this has on the Puirsel's book really belongs in
party. every history classroom in this My only recommendation to people interested in
state. reading this book is the one that the Washington
Post gives "everyone should read this book"
Coalition, as Puirseil alludes to, Reviewed by Enda Duffy Reviewed by David Murphy
18 The Left Tribune
The LT Files Useful Web
Under the spot light in this issue Dublin
South East Cllr Kevin Humphries bares all www.labouryouth.ie
to tell you what you really want to know
What's your favourite film? opportunity in Education and a
Citizen Kane decent health service, which will only
come about with Labour in govern- www.reformtreaty.ie
What's your favourite Book? ment
"Spring, Summer & Fall. The rise
and fall of the Labour Party 1986-99" What would you change about the www.focusireland.ie
by Ray Kavanagh. Not how I world?
remember it, but well worth a read. End Global Warming and World www.antiwarireland.org
Who inspires you the most?
My good friend Peter Fitzgerald. If you could take a TD from any www.residentsagainstracism.org
Who not only inspired me by his other party in the Dail and make
commitment to politics but also how them join Labour, who would it be
he dealt with his illness, always and why? www.inclusionireland.ie
remaining positive and helpful to Eamon Ryan, because his commit-
everyone around him. ment to the environment www.citizensinformation.ie
What is your 9-5? Why did you get active in poli-
Technician in the Pharmaceutical tics? www.amnesty.org
industry Cllr Robert Dowd got me active in
the early 80's out in Clondalkin were
What is your best political memo- unemployment was 50%, no com- www.hrw.org
ry? munities facilities and half built
Director of Elections for Ruairi Quinn estates. Robert showed me that
working on the ground can make a
in the Spring Tide election, The elec-
tion of Mary Robinson, Referendum real difference to local communities.
victory to legalise divorce and my www.ecosy.org
election to the City Council to name What has been your greatest
a few of my best memories. achievement to date?
Delivering tangible improvements to www.iusy.org
What would you change about quality of life for the people in the
Ireland? Inner City.
Everyone would have the equality of
Simply post this form to
Labour Youth, The Labour Paty, 17 Ely Place, Dublin 2.
or email your details to email@example.com
The Left Tribune 19
Will Gilmore Give Us More?
Standing in solidarity with Labour women, Labour Youth ask
Christine Bohan recently had the chance to talk to Labour Party Leader Eamon Gilmore about
his plans for the future of the Labour Party.
For party leader Eamon Gilmore, his first six months in I know that there has been - there is always a tendency
charge have been a crash course in the slings and arrows with political parties that youth wings and the leadership
of Irish politics.
He has won favour with both the public and the media for
his fresh and direct approach both in and outside of the
“ I think that young members of the party need
to look at the party as one that they’re going
to inherit very soon
Dáil, while his speech at the party conference was widely
praised for uniting and galvanising the party membership.
In the run-up to next year's local and European elections
he has focussed attention on improving the organisation-
can sometimes be at odds over things. But building the
future of the party is going to be a collaboration between
al structures of the Labour party and increasing activity on the leadership and the young members."
the ground at branch level. But even with the mood of Having made a point of encouraging younger party mem-
optimism in the party, the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll bers to run in next year's local elections, he acknowledges
showed that while public satisfaction with Mr. Gilmore has that it can be difficult for them to challenge older members
increased by six percentage points, Labour remained for seats. However he is adamant that it can be done.
poised at 12 per cent. "The people who have been there for years won't
be there forever. I think that young members of the party
New Labour leader, Eamon Gilmore need to look at the party as one that they're going to inher-
TD makes his inaugural speech at it very soon. And therefore I think that there is a common
Labour Party Conference as Leader cause between the leadership of the party, who want to
in November 2007 strengthen and build up the organisation, and the younger
members, who want to inherit a party that will be much
stronger than it is now."
Mr. Gilmore is aware of the challenges facing Labour.
"I'm very conscious of the fact that there won't Mr. Gilmore has plans for this year to be a year of organi-
always be positive press coverage and similarly there may sation for the Labour party, with a firm emphasis on work-
not either always be the level of good will either inside or ing from the ground up.
outside the party for what I'm doing", he says. "But that's "What I want to do is to develop the party as an
the nature of the job". active party. Right across the party, I want to see that
we're actually out there meeting with people, being
He is enthusiastic, albeit somewhat diplomatically, about involved with local campaigns, being close to the commu-
the role of Labour Youth in the party, describing it as "cru- nity, and in that way building up the organisation from the
cially important". "The young people joining the Labour ground up.
party today are going to be the people controlling it in ten "I'm not talking just about branch meetings, I mean activi-
years time. ty - members of the party getting out there and actually
doing things on the ground. Every Saturday for example, I
20 The Left Tribune
got out for 2 hours knocking on doors with party members debate would have been bad for my blood pressure", he
from my constituency and we listen to what people have says, laughing. "Debates like that have absolutely no
to say. That's the way that you do it." meaning to people. Our discussions as a political party
need to have resonance outside the party and something
Mr. Gilmore plans to visit constituencies around the coun- like that is absolutely meaningless and pointless".
try motivating members to get involved with the local com-
munity. Similarly he doesn't dwell on why he joined the Worker's
Party rather than Labour in the 1970s.
His focus is on back-to-basics politics, rather than navel- "For me, what's important is the pursuit of political
gazing discussions; he had to miss the motion at objectives. I joined the Workers Party because at the time
November's party conference on whether Labour should I felt that was a way to pursue those objectives. To be fair,
be described as democratic socialists or socialist demo- it's not like I was in Fianna Fáil…".
cratic but is clear about what he thought of it: However he is keenly analytical on issues such as
"Frankly I'm glad I wasn't there for it - that kind of whether it has become more difficult for Labour to attract
its traditional core working-class vote.
Eamon Gilmore addressing students at a USI “Students Against
"I think the working class has changed
Climate Change” Protest in 2007
and it is changing. I don't think that as a party we
should pigeon-hole ourselves in trying to seek a
particular type of vote; nor should be consider
that there are particular types of votes that we
don't go after. "There are pockets of very serious
disadvantage in this country and the only way
that we will win support in those areas is by work-
ing in them. And again, it goes back to what I said
- we have to be actually on the ground in the
community, working on issues that people are
His speech at the Labour party conference in
November, the first time he addressed the mem-
bership as a whole, was widely praised for its
clarity and direction.
"I consciously decided that it wasn't going
to be a speech about bashing the government",
he says. "Instead it was about 'Why are we all
here? Why are we members of the Labour Party?
What is it we want to achieve?'. I felt that there
was a need to re-state and re-define what the
purpose of Labour is in today's Ireland."
On lighter issues he says that he prefers Clinton
over Obama ("She's got a lot of progressive
ideas"), can't decide which non-Labour member
of the Dáil he'd like to poach into the party ("It
wouldn't be fair to them, it would make them
marked men and women") and reads but has yet
to post on the online message board on the
Labour website (www.labour.ie.forum).
With four years to go until the likely next general
election, Mr. Gilmore is laying the foundations for
a stronger Labour party, with the ultimate goal in
mind - seeing Labour in government for the first
time since 1997.
“ I think the working class has
changed. I don’t think that as a party
we should pigeon-hole ourselves in
trying to seek a particular type of