Five years into an austerity program that is only working to make the rich richer, most of us are very unhappy about the lack of resistance from the unions. During the Croke Park campaign the SIPTU National Executive Council released a statement that included: "There is, of course, a wider issue of fairness in the Country as a whole because the wealthy are not contributing to the degree that they can or should. This is a consequence of the political choices made by the voters at election time.”
Mayday in Dublin was on the evening of May 1st while in Belfast it took place on Saturday May 4th. I managed to get to both events with a camera, I wanted to get to the Belfast one in particualr to build up my library of stock photos from the north, and getting a load of northern union banners in a single day made sense. Below is my write up of the Dublin Mayday march and photo slideshows of my better shots from Dublin & Belfast.
300,000 public service workers may shortly be forced to strike, something that may very well transform the potential for radical politics in Ireland. The purpose of this Open Letter is to provide information for activists who are not working in Public Services in order to explain the importance of the No vote to Croke Park. It is important in terms of the general struggle against austerity and we want to suggest some ways you can help make sure this fight is won, in particular by coming to a discussion of just that on Wednesday 8th May at 7.30 in the Teachers Club. (RSVP on Facebook)
Several hundred people took part in a demonstration in Dublin last night (Monday 4 March) demanding the government legislate for abortion access as laid down in the X-Case judgement over 21 years ago. Government after government have refused to introduce this legislation due to politicians own conservatism and their fear of the huge resources of the US funded anti-choice movement. But the massive mobilisations that followed news of the death of Savita Halappanavar after she was refused an abortion in a Galway hospital in the Autumn have forced the Labour Party & Fine Gael to finally begin the process of introducing legislation.
Saturday in Dublin saw another desperate attempt by the anti-choice coalition to prevent legislation coming to the Dail (Irish parliament) to allow abortion where a women's life is under threat. Despite months of preparation, a spend that must have ran close to a million euro, and the parish priest at every mass in the country telling catholics they should attend, less than 15,000 turned up. Compared to the 150,000 women who have had to travel to obtain abortions in the last decades this amounts to almost nothing, a handful of bigots bussed in from all over the country. [Italian translation]
Roughly 1,000 people protested at the Dail last night as yet another austerity budget was debated. As with previous budgets the new flat rate taxes, PRSI & excise hikes will mean workers & those on low income will be hit hard while the richest 1% will hardly notice any difference.
Something in the region of 2000 people who demand that women in Ireland should have to carry to term unwanted pregnancies in any situation organised a demonstration at the Dail this evening (4th Dec). They were trying to prevent the government legislating for abortion in the very limited circumstances of the X-Case - some 20 years after the Supreme court told them such legislation was required.
In what has to be one of its odder decisions Morning Ireland this morning decided that the best voice of opposition to the Property Tax was obviously someone from Finna Fail the political party who began the process of bringing the tax in. The property tax was part of the package of cuts Finna Fail agreed with the Trokia while in government. To most people the more obvious voice of opposition would certainly be the mass campaign of some 50% of households that has refused to pay the Household Charge, the fore runner of the property tax. That campaign also brought thousands of people to protest outside the Fine Gael ard fheis.
Last night saw hundreds of pro-choice activists blockade the gates of the Dail after TD's once more refused to pass X-case legislation. Twenty years after the X-case and one month after the death of Savita Halappanavar women in Ireland were told once more that the politicians had not had enough time. The political parties, in particular the Labour Party, were once more engaged in a cynical game of playing politics - a game that leaves pregnant women at continued risk in Irish hospitals.
There are some stories that are hard to cover - the death of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant women, from septicemia whose life might have been saved if an abortion was not delayed is a hard as they come. According to the Irish Times Praveen Halappanavar, the husband of Savita said she had asked for a termination several times over a three day period only to be told "this is a catholic country."
For years we were aware that the failure of successive governments to legislate could result in a tragedy but when the first reports started to circulate that this had happened we were horrified. How did we come to this point?