Archive | Ireland

There is a Spectre Haunting Ireland: Emigration

by KERRON Ó LUAIN

Photograph Source: William Murphy from Dublin, Ireland – CC BY-SA 2.0

The bargaining now underway between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the traditional parties of the right, plus the centre-left/centrist/neoliberal Greens, in Ireland’s Twenty-Six Counties has provoked once more in the youth the urge to emigrate.

In particular, the announcement that Mícheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil, will lead the state as Taoiseach until 2022 incited a wave of dejection.

On social media platforms people in their teens and twenties recoiled at the thought of Martin becoming Taoiseach.

This cohort – struggling students, vulnerable tenants, unemployed, precariously employed, and low-paid workers – recall Martin as responsible in bringing the state to economic ruin in 2008.

They also recollect, in a frequently visceral way, the impact of the austerity his party conjured up and presided over in the wake of that crash.

One Twitter user noted how “since the news of new government, all I’ve seen is young people discuss emigrating as soon as they graduate with their degree”.

Another remarked that their “unwilling emigration from Ireland to the US been retroactively justified with events like this that make me delighted I escaped the shit hole Ireland has become”.

An Bád Bán

The image of an bád bán (the white boat) of emigration stretches back in the popular imagination to at least the nineteenth century.

As Conamara writer Mícheál Ó Conghaile elucidated in a 2018 Irish Times piece:

An bád bán refers to a certain white passenger ship which brought the Irish emigrants abroad to Britain or the US, perhaps the Nianda Dane which sailed from Cobh.

From this the phrase “thug sé an bád bán air féin” [he took the white boat on himself] came into the [Irish] language. Most of the currachs and small boats people used when fishing or working were black, but the big white boat was a symbol of emigration.

Thus, as it did at various points throughout Irish history, but most recently between 2008-2016 when around 400,000 emigrated, the bád bán looms in the collective mind once again.

Emigration from Ireland is primarily economic, but it is also cultural. This culture is woven into the fabric of Irish society and is given succour by networks of chain migration.

Family, friends, and distant relations, already established in communities throughout the globe, relate stories of success and a better life – frequently filtered through the often-distorted lens of social media – and offer vital support to the emigrant upon arrival in the host country.

Cultural nationalist organisations like the Gaelic Athletic Association are now global in scope. The Irish bars found in almost every city in Europe and North America offer familiar points of contact and solace for those in exile.

These institutions – though, in their own way, benevolent – facilitate the flight of the Irish from their homeland.

Present Day Economy

The political and ruling classes are completely aware of, and comfortable with, this culture of mass emigration.

At the height of the recession in 2012, then Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, brought upon himself the wrath of families scarred by emigration. He claimed young people left Ireland’s shore for “lifestyle reasons”.

Recent OECD research has shown the Irish state to have the highest proportion of its “native-born population” living abroad out of all 37 countries in the organisation, ranging from 17.5% to 20%.

The prevalence of this culture suits the Irish comprador class who play on what they term the “strength of the Irish diaspora”.

In tandem with this imagined ethnic bond with those of Irish extraction in different parts of the globe, but particularly in the US, runs the Irish state’s status as a tax haven.

The diaspora is utilised as an additional form of leverage in attracting multinationals, tourism, and other forms of external “investment” under the auspices of the Industrial Development Authority and the tourism body, Fáilte Ireland.

Safety Valve of Emigration

Yet, emigration suits the Irish élite in a much more malignant way. It is almost a cliché by now to refer to the “social safety-valve” engendered by emigration from Ireland.

The channelling away of discontented youth has insulated the ruling class from revolt for centuries. Historically, most rebellions in Ireland, as indeed globally, have been driven by the young.

Key figures in the United Irish Rebellions of 1798 and 1803 such as Wolfe Tone (35), Henry Joy McCracken (30), Robert Emmet (25) were quite, or very, young when they met their demise for their revolutionary activism. Likewise, the Young Ireland (the clue’s in the name!) Rising of 1848 and the Fenian movement of the 1860s.

Later on, the upheaval of the 1916-23 period was characterised as much by intergenerational conflict between younger, more radical republicans and older conservative nationalists, as it was by a discrepancy in the methods each deployed to end British rule in Ireland.

Arguably, the most successful rebellions coincided with periods of restricted emigration. The agrarian rebellion of Captain Rock between 1821-24, when emigration was curtailed by the British government, severely tested the ability of the state to control vast swathes of the country.

Several years later, in 1827, all restrictions on leaving Ireland were lifted. In the subsequent decade 400,000 emigrated to North America.

The same decade, not uncoincidentally, also witnessed the maintenance of a cosy alliance between Daniel O’Connell and the English Whigs. This had the effect of diverting the revolutionary potential of the peasantry into a blind faith in O’Connellite electoralism.

20th century

Though falling far short of the ambitions of the “revolutionary generation” of the 1890s, the period 1916-23 and the Black and Tan War can perhaps be counted among the most “successful” of Irish rebellions in that it achieved a form of autonomy for Twenty-Six Counties in Ireland.

The recently deceased authority on the history of Irish emigration, David Fitzpatrick, has postulated that the restrictions and difficulties in emigrating presented by World War One (1914-18), led to a building up of pressure in Ireland that erupted in its wake.

Emigration resumed once the war ended. But the usual release valve, created by the steady departure of Ireland’s young demographic, had not been open.

For this, and a myriad of other reasons, Ireland witnessed a series of seismic events: the Sinn Féin wins in the by-elections of 1917; the Anti-Conscription Campaign of 1918; the general election Sinn Féin victory, also of 1918, and the beginning of the Black and Tan War early in 1919.

However, the Civil War of 1922-23, described by some as a counter-revolution pushed through by church, state, and bourgeoisie, put paid to any dreams of far-reaching change. As Gavin Foster, author of The Irish Civil War and Society: Politics, Class and Conflict, has documented:

In July 1923, roughly two months after the IRA abandoned its armed campaign against the Free State, Éamon de Valera issued a defiant statement on behalf of the anti-treaty cause. ‘There will be no “Wild Geese”… this time’, he vowed.

‘The soldiers of the Republic have been ordered to live and die in Ireland, and they will obey. Living or dead, we mean to establish the right of Irish Republicans to live and work openly for the complete liberation of our country.’

Despite De Valera’s bold assertion, many found the climate in 1920s Ireland intolerable and were cast into exile like generations of revolutionaries before them. Ironically, and hypocritically, De Valera later oversaw the deportation in 1933 of communist Jimmy Gralton.

Covid-19 and emigration

Given the context of centuries of emigration it is understandable that the (un)natural reflex of Ireland’s youth is to emigrate. Who can blame them?

When faced with an ever-rising cost of living, pathetic public services and the apparently insurmountable inertia of the capitalist state, emigration allows them some agency in their lives.

But the situation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic will not allow for ease of emigration as in the past. Some states have suspended immigration programmes, while others have placed stringent measures in place at their borders.

Emigrating to traditional centres of Irish immigration like England, with the Tories in charge and the country about to crash out of the EU, may not seem as attractive as before.

With the lockdown in the Twenty-Six Counties of Ireland being lifted amid a mixture of relief, trepidation and euphoria, sight is being lost of the reality that a second wave of Covid-19 will most likely hit again at some point.

This week the R number (the rate at which the virus reproduces) increased considerably in Germany to 2.88, meaning it is quite a bit above the relatively safe level of 1. Germany had been far more efficient in dealing with the initial outbreak than either jurisdiction in Ireland.

Clearly, until a vaccine or anti-viral treatment is found for Covid-19, the ability previously enjoyed by emigrants of easily travelling home by air for Christmases and other occasions will be severely curtailed.

There is, of course, no guarantee the youth of Ireland, with the option of emigrating temporarily less feasible, will direct their frustrations at those deserving of it; the government and the capitalist class. Addiction, mental health issues, consumerism, and individualism may continue to dominate.

Vast swathes of society are far less politicised than they were during the abovementioned periods of upheaval.

Potential

Yet, there have also been massive social movements which culminated in success in the last five years alone: marriage equality (2015), anti-water privatisation (2016) and abortion rights (2018).

The election earlier this year also heralded a “vote for change”. Though ill-defined, this sentiment, if harnessed correctly by radical forces instead of being driven down parliamentary and clientelist paths, could prove decisive.

Unlike previous waves of recession/emigration which occurred once a generation (for example, the 1950s and 1980s), the last crisis and wave post-2008 is still fresh in the mind of many as we stare into yet another new phase.

It is worth mentioning here, as a final positive note, the last time the Irish collective memory recalled such injustice this vividly was the year 1879.

That year, the popular memory of the Great Famine of 1845-50 and the threat of famine once more ignited the Land War of 1879-82. That period of struggle signalled the beginning of the end of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and the feudal-type land system it upheld.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted how “life is flux” – a concept more commonly understood as “the only constant in life is change”. The despondent youth who took to social media last week, faced as they are with a seemingly immutable situation, might do well to ponder on his words.

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The IRA plan to kill Michael O’Dwyer

Irish national archives releases letter showing the close fraternal links between the Irish and Indian liberation movements.

Lalkar writers

Letter addressed to IRA chief of staff written in 1923 by an IRA man named Darley seeking approval to take action against Michael O’Dwyer, the inspirer of the Amritsar massacre.

The anti-imperialist and revolutionary sentiments of the Irish people were on display in April when Ireland’s national archives published online a letter from an IRA man named Darley addressed to the IRA chief of staff in 1923.

The letter asks for approval to take action against Michael O’Dwyer, the inspirer of the Amritsar massacre (Jallianwala Bagh). The National Archives of the Irish republic released a photograph of the letter to mark the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, stating that the letter had recently been donated to the archives.

A notice on the archives’ website read: “Early in 1919 the Rowlatt Act extended emergency measures introduced in India during the first world war which included incarceration without trial. As a result tensions ran high in the Punjab and serious rioting had left several Europeans dead, banks and public buildings looted and burned and a female missionary seriously injured.

“On 13 April 1919, General Dyer, the acting military commander at Amritsar, ordered troops under his command to fire indiscriminately into a large crowd attending an illegal demonstration at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, killing hundreds and injuring over one thousand. Dyer claimed he was quashing a potential rebellion.

“Sir Michael achieved notoriety through supporting General Dyer’s actions. A subsequent enquiry into the events unanimously condemned Dyer. He was relieved of his command and he died in England in 1927.

“O’Dwyer, Dyer and the Punjab itself had close Irish associations. Michael O’Dwyer came from a large and moderately nationalist family at Barranstown in Tipperary. He joined the Indian civil service in 1885 and, through his own natural abilities, rose to the highest ranks of the British administration in India.

“He was a great supporter of the co-operative credit movement in India which helped free peasants from the yoke of moneylenders and he also supported peasant ownership of land. He was appointed lieutenant general of the Punjab in 1912.

“A man of many contradictions, Sir Michael was an unashamed imperialist but later published, in his retirement, a history of the O’Dwyer family extolling their resistance to British aggression in Ireland over many centuries.

“Reginald Dyer had been born in India in 1864 but was sent, at the age of 11, to Midleton College [a boarding school] in County Cork and later briefly studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.

“In 1913 emigrants from the Punjab to the United States were heavily involved in establishing the Ghadar Party, an Indian revolutionary organisation based in San Francisco which had, as its object, the overthrow of British colonial authority in India by armed revolution.

“It was quite similar to the Fenian movement established by Irish emigrants in the United States in the 1850s and it received the support of Irish republicans in America who assisted the Ghadars in an abortive attempt to send arms to India during the first world war, to precipitate an uprising there – part of the so called Hindu-German conspiracy.

“The IRA did not act on Darley’s recommendation. When the letter was written the organisation was in turmoil. It had been engaged in a bitter civil war with the Free State army for over a year and the chief of staff, Frank Aiken, declared a ceasefire in April 1923 and ordered the dumping of arms the following month.

“While Sir Michael O’Dwyer survived the Irish Republican Army, he was assassinated in London in 1940 by Udham Singh, a member of the Ghadar movement who reportedly had been present at Jallianwala Bagh on that fateful day in 1919.”

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The Irish electorate cry out against austerity and bring reunification closer

The future is bright; the future is green.

Lalkar writers

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald celebrates in Dublin after coming top of the polls. Sinn Féin won 37 of the 42 seats it contested, and gained the highest share of the overall vote.

On Saturday 8 February, a general election took place in Eire (the Irish republic) and brought forth a quite amazing result.

Sinn Féin, standing in just 42 of the 159 Dáil Éireann (Irish parliament) seats being openly contested (the 160th goes to the speaker automatically), won 37 of them. This put the party in second place to Fianna Fáil (FF), which got 38, and ahead of Fine Gael (FG), which only got 35.

The Irish Labour party sank almost without trace with six seats, and can no longer consider itself the third party in Irish politics.

Anger against austerity in the south

Sinn Féin campaigned to “give the people a break” from the austerity drive that is being thrust on them by their ruling class (this battle is being carried on in all corners of the globe) and attracted support from voters across the board because rents have soared, property ownership has plummeted and the scourge of homelessness has nearly quadrupled in the past five years.

A few months ago, there was a photograph of a little Irish boy eating his dinner off a piece of cardboard on a Dublin street that rightly caused widespread outrage. The Irish people are not impressed by figures telling them that the economy is fine when their own eyes show them such things.

As the Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole pointed out, it’s still “the economy stupid” that matters in politics, but “what people mean by ‘the economy’ has altered”.

Voters care less about unemployment figures or gross domestic product (GDP) than they do about having a place of their own to live in, a degree of job security and access to good healthcare for all.

It remains to be seen exactly what a new coalition government arising from this election will look like, but, whether inside it or as an opposition to it, Sinn Féin is expected to carry on fighting against austerity and for the raft of left-leaning/environmentally friendly policies on which it fought the election, while both the big parties (FF and FG) and the smaller Greens (who have previously played ‘little brother’ in austerity-led governments) are expected to see their support bases crumble.

Momentum towards unity in the north

Another consideration that cannot ever be left out of Irish politics is the six counties in the occupied north of Ireland.

The restoration of power sharing in Stormont shows that in London the British government recognises Sinn Féin as a major power in the north. This reveals quite clearly to the people of the south that a real possibility exists of a truly all-Irish political movement that could solve problems of national interest.

The British people’s vote for Brexit, which was reiterated in both the European election of 2019 and the general election of the same year, has left the unionist parties of northern Ireland in a terrible quandary.

Farmers, landowners and the northern Irish bourgeoisie very much wanted to stay in the European Union and to carry on collecting whatever subsidies and bonuses they could get from that body, and they had to a large extent convinced many working people that their best interests also lay in this direction.

Now that Brexit of some sort is a reality, future ‘independent’ trade with the EU will be possible only in line with an as-yet-unfinalised agreement between Britain and the EU. As the fluidity of the border between the republic and northern Ireland is threatened by UK-EU spats, there is a growing realisation that abandoning Britain and falling in line behind the campaign for the reunification of Ireland led by Sinn Féin on both sides of the border is a real option that will give the Irish what some of them think they need/want, ie, remaining in the EU.

It must be said, of course, that a united Ireland inside the EU would be far preferable to a disunited Ireland half in and half out. In any case, should the Irish people achieve a united Ireland then questions of affiliation to other bodies would be questions for them and them alone.

Reunification would give the Irish people so much more than the membership of the EU dreamed of by some northern bourgeois power players, including the chance to rebuild their whole nation in the form that the majority want and releasing them from the ancient yoke of British imperialism that has weighed so heavily on the majority of them throughout their history.

It is interesting that Jonathan Powell, who once served as Tony Blair’s chief of staff, and who helped with the drawing up the Good Friday peace agreement, is on record after the 2020 Irish general election telling the BBC that he believed a united Ireland was “getting more likely all the time”.

According to a poll last September, carried out by Lord Ashcroft, there is now a small majority north of the border in favour of leaving the United Kingdom and joining the republic. This may not yet be a consistent and unstoppable movement towards a united republican Ireland but there is definitely movement.

Even former northern Ireland secretary Lord Mandelson under Tony Blair’s government has recognised what he calls the “economic gravitational pull southwards”, which he admits is only likely to grow over time. “At the heart of all this is identity,” he said, adding: “The effect of the Brexit deal is to strengthen economic links to the south and loosen political ties to Britain.”

In short, as Brexit pushes the northern Irish towards unity and therefore towards Sinn Féin, so the excellent struggle against austerity led by Sinn Féin in the south brings the masses there towards the party, too.

To paraphrase an old advert: ‘The future is bright; the future is green.’

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The Unbreakable Bond of Ireland and Palestine

Among European nations, Ireland has been one of the most vocal in its support of the Palestinian national struggle

By Creede Newton

Global Research,

In December, a wave of support for the recognition of a Palestinian state swept over Europe, culminating in the European Parliament’s (EP) vote on a motion that expressed support for an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and a continuation of stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The motion, largely symbolic, passed with 498 EU parliamentarians voting in favour, 88 voting against, and 111 abstaining.

While it does not require any concrete action on the part of any European Union (EU) member state, certain EU member states, such as Sweden and Ireland, have taken steps towards formal recognition of Palestine.

Ireland in particular has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause. The origins of this solidarity come down to both the similarities and differences between the Irish and Palestinian national struggles.

‘Colonised people’

“The Irish people, as a colonised people living for centuries under British occupation, have instinctively identified with freedom struggles across the globe,” Gerry Adams, Irish republican and president of Sinn Féin, the largest Irish nationalist party in both the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland that still belong to the United Kingdom (UK), told Middle East Eye.

The entangled history of the UK and Ireland began in the 12th century, when Norman invaders reached the island. In 1541, the English parliament formally declared that English King Henry VIII was also the king of Ireland.

That was the beginning of several centuries of English and Scottish Protestants migrating to the majority Catholic island and taking power from the indigenous population. This set the stage for sectarian conflict that would flare up over the course of the following years.

In the second half of the 19th century, nationalist movements began picking up steam and by 1922, the Green Island was split into 26 counties that were to be ruled from Dublin as part of an independent Ireland, and six that would be ruled from Belfast, still part of the UK.

In the late 1960s, the conflict known as “The Troubles” began, with militants seeking the reunification of Ireland attacking military and civilian targets, and the British army and Protestant militants responding in kind. Adams himself recounted his own memories of political activism and protest for the reunification of Ireland, and against apartheid South Africa, in the 1960s.

Speaking critically of the current Israeli government, he said their “strategies and actions are aimed at imposing an apartheid system on Arab-Israeli citizens; extending the occupation through the building of settlements in the occupied territories, as well as the separation wall; and physically and politically dividing Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza and the refugee camps in other states.”

The current state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process also troubles him, he said. In December, Israel denied Adams entry to the besieged Gaza Strip, and upon his return to Ireland, he was “deeply worried”.

“I am particularly concerned at the approach of the international community,” he told MEE, “which fails to hold the Israeli government to account for its actions and its breaches of international law.”

The role of prisoners

In Ireland, prisoners jailed by the British played “an important role”, according to Adams, and Palestinian prisoners play an important role, too.

But Gavan Kelley, the advocacy unit coordinator of Ramallah-based Addameer, a non-governmental human rights group that focuses on political and civil rights issues in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially those of prisoners, thinks that those imprisoned in Israeli jails can play an even greater role.

“Overall [Addameer] is in a very difficult situation. We want to get to a stage where prisoners are playing a role in ending the conflict,” he told MEE. “That’s the exact opposite of what’s happening now.”

As of October 2014, there were approximately 6,500 Palestinian prisoners, including roughly 500 administrative detainees—those who are held in Israeli prisons without charge. Their six-month sentences can be renewed indefinitely by judges on the basis of “secret” evidence.

Other than prominent Palestinian leaders, such as Ahmad Saadat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, most prisoners serve their sentences in silence.

Kelley says that prisoners “are being completely excluded and used as political bargaining chips” in negotiations between Israel and Hamas, as well as the Palestinian Authority.

The human rights of prisoners in Israeli jails are routinely violated, Kelley said, much like those of Irish prisoners during the conflict with the UK.  “You have daily rights violations of the prisoners. Medical negligence, malnourishment, nightly raids by the Israeli forces,” he said.

Kelley echoed Sinn Féin’s leader in saying that prisoners were instrumental in ending the conflict.

“If you look at Ireland and South Africa,” Kelley said, “prisoners played a central role in ending those conflicts.”

But looking at the current situation in the Holy Land,

“the political conditions that brought an end to the conflicts in Ireland and South Africa are nowhere near existing here in Palestine,” Kelley concluded.

United Efforts

Meanwhile, many Palestinians are grateful for international solidarity, which some view as instrumental in their own struggle.

“International solidarity is vital for more than one reason,” Najwan Berekdar, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and activist, told MEE.

“Not only that gives hope for the Palestinians to continue their struggle knowing they have support, but it also brings our struggles closer together, as we have been learning new tactics which were used by colonised people everywhere.”

The popular techniques used by the Irish and South Africans serve to envigorate Palestinian efforts to resist Israeli occupation, have led to innovative and interesting protests, some of which, such as the “Love in the Time of Apartheid” campaign, Berekdar organised.

“This is what will affect the public opinion. And this is what will pressure Israel and its supporting governments to change their policies.”

Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege: Worldwide Solidarity this Weekend

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The EU should support Irish reunification, Mary Lou McDonald tells BBC

The Sinn Féin leader also said the British government needs to start preparing itself for this constitutional change.

Image: Niall Carson/PA

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said she will be asking the European Union to support Irish reunification if she is part of the next government.

Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight in Dublin, McDonald said, even before this election the country was heading towards a border poll.

“You have Brexit, you have changing demographics, you have the fact that the unionist majority has been lost in the North over the last number of elections, so that is the direction of travel,” she said. 

She said it was irresponsible for politicians not to “bury their heads in the sand” on this issue.Whoever now makes up the next government, those preparations need to start. And could I also say those on the island of Britain and in London in particular need to start preparing because constitutional change is coming.

McDonald said she would be making asks of the European system in terms of long-term Irish interests and on the issue of partition.

“I think the European Union needs to take a stand in respect of Ireland in the say way that it supported the reunification of Germany, in the same way that it has a position on Cyprus, for example, and a positive approach to the reunification of that country.I think Ireland is no different.

“I think it would be correct for our allies and our friends for anybody who cares about this country and our people, it is plain to see that partition and division has been a disaster, and that reunification, reconciliation and good relationships with our next door neighbours is the way forward.”

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Real and “Fake” Elections: US, Bolivia, Ireland

By: Global Research,

Bolivian Elections Will be an Opportunity to Legalize the Coup

By Lucas Leiroz de Almeida,

The next Bolivian presidential elections were scheduled for May 3. The scenario in the country remains troubled, marked by the unrest and tensions created by the coup that led to the overthrow of Evo Morales. On the one hand, candidates from the right stand up enthusiastically with the intention of neutralizing any possible resurrection of the left. On the other hand, Morales, although with undeniable popular support, currently does not seem to have enough strength to face the right forces.

Bolivia: An Election in the Midst of an Ongoing CoupBy Prof. Vijay Prashad, February 14, 2020Morales was prematurely removed from office; the term for his 2014 presidential election victory did not end until January. Yet, he was told by the military to leave office. An interim president – Jeanine Áñez – appointed herself.

Black Democrats Endorse Bloomberg after Release of Racist Boasts on “Stop-and-frisk”

By Niles Niemuth,

“Stop-and-frisk” empowers New York Police Department officers to stop anyone on the street without suspicion of a crime and search and interrogate the individual in public view. Under Bloomberg, the police on patrol operated as armed roving gangs, who assaulted millions of working-class New Yorkers, mostly targeting black and Hispanic men simply for walking down the street.

2020 US Elections: The Top Issue for Democratic Voters Is …

By Eric Zuesse,

In 2016, Democrats nominated the neoconservative Hillary Clinton in order to move the Party even farther to the right, only to find themselves winning California by the astronomical margin of 4,269,978 votes more than Trump received, and losing all other 49 states by the still-substantial margin of 1,405,002 votes to Hillary.

Irish Election Result Is a Victory for Nationalism

By Johanna Ross,

Once upon a time Gerry Adams, the leader of Ireland’s nationalist party, Sinn Fein, could not be heard speaking on the BBC. He was branded a terrorist and his voice was dubbed. How times have changed. Now his party, led by Mary Lou McDonald, has stormed to victory in the Irish elections. Having won the largest percentage of the vote at 24%, Sinn Fein has ended the decades long domination of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in what was effectively a two-party political system.

Iowa: Where The Democrats’ DNC Dreams Go to Die. Bernie, The “Trumpian Front Runner”

By Brett Redmayne-Titley,

After months of the DNC’s daily water boarding of the American public with their manufactured jurisprudence know as The Impeachment, these same political wizards of electioneering have in one day, Monday, galvanized the person they most detest. This week’s political disaster in Iowa rocketed Bernie Sanders into pronounced Trumpian front runner status and thus exposed the DNC – yet again- for what it really is:A cabal of status quo elitists no different than the RNC puppets they purport to oppose.

Democrats Seek to Suppress Sanders Victory in Iowa

By Patrick Martin,

The effort by the Democratic Party establishment to conceal or suppress reports of Senator Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Iowa caucuses reached a new stage Thursday with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to “immediately begin a recanvass” of the state.

The twitter statement by Perez came only hours after the final figures from the Iowa Democratic Party showed Sanders more than 6,000 votes ahead of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the February 3 caucuses, and behind by only two “state delegate equivalents,” out of 2,152, in the process that will lead to the awarding of Iowa’s delegates to the Democratic national convention.

Posted in USA, Bolivia, IrelandComments Off on Real and “Fake” Elections: US, Bolivia, Ireland

Ireland’s biggest parties vow to ban goods made in illegal ‘Israeli’ settlements

Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail, who are leading in the polls ahead of Saturday’s election, have said they will enact the Occupied Territories Bill

The bill seeks to ban the import or sale of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements (File photo/Reuters)

Two of Ireland’s biggest political parties have said that if they win Saturday’s general election they will implement a ban on the purchase of goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail have both indicated in their manifestos that they wish to see the Occupied Territories Bill enacted.

The legislation, first tabled in 2018, would prohibit imports from territories where there is a clear international legal consensus on the status of the occupation.

As it stands, only the occupied Palestinian territories have been confirmed as occupied by the International Court of Justice.

2020 BDS: The unstoppable spread of moral judgement threatens IsraelRead More »

According to its manifesto, Sinn Fein has said it will “ban goods from Israel’s illegal colonial settlements in Palestine from entering the Irish market by implementing the Occupied Territories Bill”.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail has said it would “progress the Occupied Territories Bill” in government.

If passed, the law would make Ireland the first European Union country to criminalise commercial activity in the settlements.

“We didn’t have to put it into our manifesto… but we insisted on doing so,” Niall Collins, a former foreign affairs spokesperson for Fianna Fail, told The Electronic Intifada.

The “next step in the process,” Collins said, would be the bill’s inclusion in a legislative programme that Fianna Fail agrees with another party – or parties – when forming a coalition.

“There are lots of issues relating to health, housing and homelessness here in Ireland. But our position on Palestine… is coming up on the doorsteps. People are showing a keen awareness of this issue.”

According to the latest opinion poll conducted ahead of the 8 February general election, Sinn Fein is leading with 24 percent, and Fianna Fail with 21 percent.

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Exit poll confirms Sinn Féin election breakthrough

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The three main parties in the 26 Counties have polled the same vote share of just over 22 per cent in today’s general election, according to an exit poll released as polling closed this evening.If borne out, the results will be a historic result for Sinn Féin, which will achieve by far its best outcome ever in a general election.

The results of the poll are as follows: Fine Gael 22.4 per cent, Sinn Féin 22.3 per cent, Fianna Fáil 22.2 per cent, Green Party 7.9 per cent, Labour 4.6 per cent, the Social Democrats 3.4 per cent, Solidarity/People Before Profit/Rise/Socialist 2.8 per cent and independents/others 14.5 per cent.

In another measure of the transformation, Sinn Féin won the votes of more than 30% of those aged under 24.

While seat projections in this new scenario are difficult, Sinn Féin could hope to win more than 30 seats out of 159. Moreover, their surpluses could help to elect other left-wing or republican candidates in some constituencies.

The three-way tie means that another hung parliament in Dublin is certain. While nothing will be definite until noon tomorrow, when the parties’ tallies from the vote counts start to come in, difficult coalition negotiations are now more than likely, and a second election this year cannot be ruled out.

The result is also a clear public rejection of the anti-Sinn Féin and anti-republican media agenda of the election campaign. It will have repercussions for the entire political establishment, but particularly the state-run media and the conservative press.

As the polls closed, former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams criticised Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and elements of the media for what he said was a “nasty, negative campaign”.

He also uploaded a video of himself singing along with rebel song ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans’, a comment on the outgoing right-wing government’s widely-criticised plans to commemorate forces who fought for British rule in Ireland a century ago. The furore last month helped set the stage for Sinn Féin’s successful election.

Remarking on the exit poll, he also wrote: “Well done everyone! Comgheardas [congratulations] Mary Lou and our leadership team. Martin McGuinness would be chuffed. Lean ar aghaigh. (Go ahead).”

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Ireland to expel Nazi ambassador over protest deaths

NOVANEWS

Gerry Adams calls for Ireland to expel Israel ambassador over protest deaths

Former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has called for Ireland to expel the Israeli ambassador over the killing and wounding of Palestinian protesters. (Brian Lawless/PA)Former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has called for Ireland to expel the Israeli ambassador over the killing and wounding of Palestinian protesters. (Brian Lawless/

Former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has called for Ireland to expel the Israeli ambassador over the killing and wounding of Palestinian protesters.

A least 15 Palestinians were killed on Friday as thousands protested the right of return for refugees.

Mr Adams said: “There can be no justification or excuse by Israel for the calculated slaughter by Israeli military snipers of unarmed Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border with Israel.

“I visited Gaza and the Israeli town of Sderot in 2009. The conditions for the almost two million Palestinians surviving in the Gaza strip were appalling. It is an open prison, under siege by Israel, with the people of Gaza being denied the basic requirements of a decent life,” he said.

“In the nine years since then the Israeli stranglehold on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has increased. More Palestinian land and water rights have been stolen and significant numbers of new Israeli settlements have been constructed on Palestinian land in flagrant breach of international law.”

Mr Adams said he was urging the EU and UN to take a stand against Israeli violence, and urged the Irish government to expel the Israeli ambassador “as a first step in formally and officially recognising the state of Palestine”.

“The time for excuses is long over,” he added.

Palestinian health officials said 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire and more than 750 hit by live rounds, making it the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 cross-border war between Israel and Hamas.

During Friday’s confrontations, large crowds gathered near the border fence, with smaller groups of protesters rushing forward, throwing stones and burning tyres.

Israeli troops responded with live fire and rubber-coated steel pellets, while drones dropped tear gas from above. The army released video showing soldiers with rifles perched on high embankments overlooking the scene.

Brig Gen Ronen Manelis, the chief army spokesman, denied allegations of excessive use of force, saying those killed by Israeli troops were men between the ages of 18 and 30 who were involved in violence and belonged to militant factions.

On Saturday demonstrations are being staged in Derry, Belfast and Dublin in protest at the killing of Palestinian protesters by Israel.



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Irish Senator Frances Black Makes the Case Against Nazi illegal Settlements

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By Dr. James J. Zogby

This past week, we hosted Irish Senator Frances Black in Washington. Black is the Chair of the Irish Seanad’s (Senate) Palestine Working Group and the lead sponsor of the legislation to ban the import of products from Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian lands into Ireland.

The “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territory) Bill of 2018” (CEA-OT) has passed the Seanad and successfully completed two rounds in the lower house (Dail) of the Irish parliament. In the Dail’s first vote the bill passed by a wide 78-45 margin. All of Ireland’s major parties, except for the minority governing party, have endorsed Black’s legislation and there is strong support for the bill and for Palestinian rights among the Irish public.

The CEA-OT has been carefully crafted and doesn’t over reach. By limiting its purview to products from settlements, it is clearly not an effort to impose BDS (Boycott Divestment & Sanctions) on Israel. When this legislation was first brought up for a vote in the Seanad, Senator Black’s remarks in support included the following poignant observations:

“Though these settlements are repeatedly condemned as illegal by the European Union, the United Nations, and the Irish government, they continue to extract valuable natural resources and agricultural produce.

“These goods are exported and sold on shelves around the world, including in Ireland…There is a clear hypocrisy here – how can we condemn the settlements as ‘unambiguously illegal,’ as theft of land and resources, but happily buy the proceeds of this crime?

“I saw the impact of settlement expansion when I visited the West Bank this year: the restrictions on movement, the shrinking space for housing and health care, the lack of electricity. I witnessed the crushing indignity of a Palestinian community cut off from their water supply so that it could be diverted to an Israeli chicken farm. That commercial settlement, built on stolen land beyond internationally recognized borders, is a war crime. Is the moral response to condemn this illegality, but then ask, ‘how much for the eggs?’

“Ultimately, trade in settlement goods sustains injustice. We can criticize all we want, but years of empty rhetoric simply have not worked. As long as we buy their produce and they stay profitable, nothing will change.”

At this critical juncture, with just a few more steps before the legislation comes to a final vote in the Dail, a group of pro-Israel US Members of Congress, led by Representatives Peter King (R-NY) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) have inserted themselves into the process with a letter to the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and Foreign Minister threatening Ireland with “severe implications were this bill to become law.” The Congressional letter falsely claims that the boycott of settlement products called for in the legislation would run counter to the US Export Administration Act (EAA) thereby making it difficult for US companies (like Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.) to continue to do business in Ireland. The King-Engel letter more than suggests that what is at stake for Ireland is the 67% of its foreign direct investment that comes from the US.

While it is disturbing that US Members of Congress would attempt to blatantly interfere in the democratic processes of another country on behalf of Israel, even more troubling is their brazen mischaracterization of the EAA. That law was passed in the 1970’s to prohibit US companies from submitting to pressures from the Arab League to boycott Israel. The Irish CEA-OT, however, has nothing to do with Ireland responding to the Arab League. It has everything to do with international law. And, in any case, the boycott does not apply to Israel. It only boycotts goods produced, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. (The Geneva Conventions specifically prohibit an occupying power from transferring its people into the territories it has occupied, displacing the indigenous population, and exploiting the resources from those territories for its own benefit. The United Nations and the International Court of Justice have repeatedly ruled that Israel’s behaviors in the occupied Palestinian territories are in violation of the Conventions.)

During her four day visit to Washington, Senator Black had one public event co-hosted by the Arab American Institute and the Foundation for Middle East Peace, a luncheon with a number of organizations working on issues related to Israeli-Palestinian peace, as well as meetings with a number of Members of Congress. There was broad support for her efforts and a determination to help correct the record on the mischaracterization of EAA.

As she repeatedly noted, should the CEA-OT become law, its economic impact on Israel will be minimal – the best estimates are that Irish imports from the settlements only amount to between €500,000 and €1,000,000 annually. The importance of the CEA-OT is, therefore, not in the economic impact it makes, but in the clear message it sends that Israel’s incessant drive to colonize the West Bank with continued settlement expansion will no longer be tolerated. Instead of wringing its hands in frustration with Israeli policy, the Irish government will send a clear message that “enough is enough.”

In this context, it is irritating that the King-Engel letter disingenuously claims to share “Ireland’s goal of a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and claims that the CEA-OT “undermines the prospect for a sustainable two-state solution.” In fact, it is the US Congress’ refusal to act in any way to help halt Israel’s aggressive expansion of settlements that have put the very possibility of a two-state solution at risk.

Ireland alone can’t change Israeli policy. But Ireland is determined to lead. The reason why the Israeli government and their US allies are responding so forcefully, with threats and more, is because they know that should Ireland lead, the EU may follow. And with more countries taking concrete measures to demonstrate their disapproval of Israel behavior, only then will a “sustainable” peace based on justice and respect for international law become possible.



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