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The Scourge of Social Partnership

Rebel - Mer, 29/06/2022 - 6:05pm

As public sector pay talks re-start, Owen McCormack gives an account of the disastrous effects of Social Partnership on workers and explains why a return to these kinds of deals will provide no answer to the cost of living crisis.

Talks on a new national pay deal for public sector workers are set to begin again this week. With inflation hitting 8% and workers hammered by hikes in the cost of living, many will be hoping that any deal will see pay rises that, at the very least, match inflation. The Government and employers are keen to keep any wage rises low and ensure profits are not hit by the crisis. If experience is any guide, the likelihood is that many of the union officials at these talks will be obliging and willing to be “moderate”. 

Some union officials hint that a deal could be arrived at with below inflation wage rises if other, non-wage issues are addressed. They talk of the need for a wider, new social partnership type deal such as those from 1987 to 2009. Then, in return for low wage rises , unions agreed to the Fianna Fáil/PD agenda of cutting income taxes and various promises on wider social aims such as commitments to combat poverty. The tax cutting agenda as an alternative to wage rises ended up benefiting the wealthy and corporations disproportionately, while many other commitments ended up as vague aspirations that never materialised.

Moreover, this period had profound effects on the union movement. It effectively gutted trade union militancy and shop steward organisation in the workplace. Over a 22 year period, the process shored up the power of trade union bureaucrats and left the wider working-class movement poorly equipped to fight or resist the massive onslaught on working conditions that swept in after the 2009 crash. While many union officials, (often politically aligned to the Labour party), are nostalgic for a return to these deals, workers should resist them and learn the  real lessons of the 1987-2009 period: there is no partnership with Government and employers that is in the long term interests of the working class.

Most commentators will paint a picture of the first partnership deal in 1987 as a visionary move by an enlightened trade union movement and shrewd politicians, chiefly Charles Haughey and Bertie Ahern. In this retelling, 1987 saw massive unemployment, huge strike levels, rampant poverty and huge urban dereliction. By magic, social partnership ushered in the Celtic Tiger boom. The key was modest wage rises and social (i.e. workplace) stability. Strikes nearly disappeared, boom times came and the country became the best place in the world to do business. Riverdance and Italia 90 arrived and everyone was happy until the unfortunate events in 2009.

The reality was different. Fianna Fáil, under Haughey and Ahern, turned the state into a corporate tax haven based around the IFSC. This saw huge investment flow into the state from mostly US foreign direct investment. The country became the foremost neoliberal state in the EU. This meant an agenda of widespread contracting out and privatisation of many key services and an all-pervading ethos that competition and low business taxes were key to success. It paved the way for widespread deregulation or low regulation across many sectors, including banking which helped set the stage for the financial collapse and bankruptcy of the country in the 2009 crash.

The role of the country’s trade unions leadership was key. Haughey said himself of them; “Ireland had the good fortune to have probably the most enlightened trade union leadership we have ever had”. If by enlightened he meant “traitors to their class” he was correct. 

The 1990 Industrial Relations Act and a weakened movement.

FFs Bertie Ahern pushed through the 1990 Industrial Relations Act, a carbon copy of Thatcher’s anti-union legislation which aimed to limit solidarity strikes. However, as Ahern boasted, Irish union officials were heavily involved in the drafting of the new law. Officials wanted to outlaw solidarity and sympathy strikes more than some of the bosses. Its aim was to legally dismantle the idea of solidarity and the working classes ability to resist attacks both in the workplace and outside. It wanted, in the words of one activist, to “make scabbing respectable”.

The deals demobilised the organised working class by co-opting it into a wider project  to make the state the most neoliberal and pro-business one in the EU. It left a legacy of lower union density, falling membership and lethargic branches with low levels of activity.

In the preceding 20 year period between 1960 and 1980 union membership had risen by 70% and density by a quarter to 62%. There were 132 strikes in 1980 alone, of which 81 were unofficial, reflecting strong independent workplace organisation. By contrast, the decade up to 2020 saw 86 strikes in total. Union density fell from nearly 62% in 1980 to just 28% today. As full-time officials removed from the shop floor grew in strength and control over the union, the role of shop stewards diminished.  As shop stewards could not influence pay demands or respond to the local circumstances in any sector, their ability to organise and lead workers or resist the bureaucratisation of their unions was reduced.

Boom For Some

While these deals limited strike action and saw profits soar for both foreign and Irish bosses, the returns to workers were not as healthy. If measured by the availability of permanent, secure, decently paid jobs, or the share of the country’s wealth going to working class people or even the so-called social wage benefits, the Celtic Tiger era was an utter disaster for workers and the labour movement from which it has not recovered. 

Looking at these three areas in turn;

  1. The period saw a surge in the prevalence of precarious and low pay work, especially in sectors such as hospitality, retail and services. One report notes Ireland has the highest rate of low pay, compared to other Small Open Economies (SOE), at 24%, Ireland…, and is 10 percentage points above the EU-15 average. Another study reported in 2018 that 46% of workers were not in full time or permanent work and while many would not be classed as precarious, these figures give some indication of the changes to workers’ lives and working conditions in the  years of supposed social partnership. The same report charts sharp falls in permanent full-time typical work contracts throughout the years of partnership. 
  1. The most telling statistic about the social partnership era is the decline in the share of the wealth that is generated in the economy going to workers as opposed to capital in profits or dividends etc. By every measure, and consistently since 1987, that share has declined. In 1966 that share was 66%, after 8 years of social partnership it had fallen to 55%, and by 2015 it was just 44%. In another measurement used in a recent CSO study, even from 2000 to the present, it has continued to slump to just 30%. Ireland is way behind the EU average and pales in comparison to states like Denmark where labour gets a near 60% share.
  2. Ireland today is bottom or close to the bottom on a wide range of workers’ entitlements compared to other EU states, known as the “social wage” and usually paid for out of their PRSI contributions. This is no accident and the foundations for this poor position were entrenched during the boom time of the partnership years.

From access to sick schemes,  maternity and paternity rights, holidays, or even wider rights such as the right to representation or the provision of decent defined benefit pension schemes, Ireland’s partnership era didn’t just fail to  deliver for workers; it entrenched their poor position relative to other EU states at a time when logically they should have been advancing. According to the SIPTU economist Michael Taft, we work an extra 2.7 weeks a year compared to many similar EU states.  We also get 2.3 weeks fewer paid public holidays, annual holiday leave, etc.

On top of all this, we are almost bottom of the league for EU countries when it comes to protection against dismissal and the regulation of temporary employment, according to an OECD report.

No alternative?

From 1987 on, the idea of social partnership was sold to workers as an alternative to militancy. Strikes couldn’t win, we were told; look at what happened to the miners in Britain; this was a smarter, cleverer way of protecting workers; “brain not brawn”, as one official put it. The unions would now be central to overall Government policy and have a huge say in the direction the country went, unlike Thatcher’s Britain, where unions were side-lined and ignored. This  influence was  akin to the old Henry Ford quip; you can have any colour you want for your car so long as its black; Union leaders  could be wined and dined in elaborate forums once they agreed on the basic rules; competitiveness, privatisation and low wage increases; and once they donned the Green Jersey and saw the main goal as the success of Enterprise Ireland Inc. 

Outside of the workplace, the baneful influence of the partnership model and how it was conjoined to the neoliberal agenda extended into other areas and services that the working class would need.

The foundation of today’s housing crisis was laid with an emphasis on private home ownership over publicly available homes. Privatisation of many semi-state companies and public services started off in earnest without a whimper from the trade union movement. The most egregious of these was Telecom Éireann, whose privatisation has directly resulted in the state’s woeful broadband coverage. Similarly, in health and care a wholesale reliance on private for-profit companies laid the ground for the dysfunctional two-tier health system and a nursing home and care provision sector dominated by low pay and profit seeking. 

The effects of the partnership era have been profound for our class, for public services, workers’ rights and for the very idea of solidarity. Calls for a return to it today will ensure that the combativity of our movement remains blunted and unable to respond to the crisis and challenges ahead. Workers paid a huge price for the banking and financial collapse in 2009. The lack of any concerted fight by the union movement was, at least partially, the result of the hollowing out of the trade union movement by the partnership process. It is no accident that the most notable fights against the attacks came from outside the trade union or organised workers’ movement such as in the Water Charge campaign or the anti- property tax fight.

Today, warnings about wage inflation spirals should be seen for what they are; a fear that workers will fight and that they won’t willingly pay the price for another crisis not made by them. The issue today, as in the Celtic Tiger era, is who will profit and who will pay? 

“Wage restraint” will do nothing about inflation but it will hammer ordinary workers and again prioritise profitability and competitiveness over people’s lives and needs .

Social partnership is about tying the hands of workers as the world heads into an era of crisis and recessions. We should resist it and say that unlike the mantra in the 80s, this time there very much is an alternative: The spirit and class consciousness of the Debenhams or RMT strikers. Militancy will serve us much better in the coming storms than moderation.

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No 10 staff will be able to give evidence confidentially to inquiry into whether PM lied over Partygate – as it happened

The Guardian - Mer, 29/06/2022 - 6:02pm

This live blog is closed.

Britain is imposing sanctions on Russia’s second richest man and a cousin of the president, Vladimir Putin, in the latest round of measures targeting allies of the Russian leader, PA Media reports. PA says:

Among those sanctioned are Vladimir Potanin - Russia’s second richest man and owner of the Interross conglomerate - and Mr Putin’s cousin, Anna Tsivileva, who is president of the JSC Kolmar Group coal mining company, the government has announced.

The government is also sanctioning a group of Russian individuals and companies for their involvement in repressing civilians and supporting the Assad regime in Syria.

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Taking the train

The Irish World - Mer, 29/06/2022 - 12:54pm

Mark Smith, who runs travel website The Man in Seat 61, told David Hennessy why travelling by rail is a less stressful way to travel and better for the environment. Recent scenes at Dublin Airport- and airports around the world- have shown the chaos caused by the world returning to international travel after years of […]

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Banjo brothers in arms

The Irish World - Mer, 29/06/2022 - 12:17pm

Coleraine trad musician Damien O’Kane told David Hennessy about his new album, a collaboration with American bluegrass banjo player Ron Block, a winner of 14 Grammy Awards and member of Alison Krauss and Union Station. They formed a formidable transatlantic banjo partnership on their 2018 album Banjophony. This week Damien O’Kane and Ron Block return […]

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Driven individual

The Irish World - Mer, 29/06/2022 - 12:03pm

Dublin singer-songwriter Shobsy told David Hennessy about a poignant appearance on the Late Late that saw him singing for two men murdered in homophobic attacks, launching himself as a solo artist after the break-up of his band State Lights and why he is wary of social media. Formerly known for being lead singer of State […]

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Getting back on the horse

The Irish World - Mer, 29/06/2022 - 11:45am

Singer- songwriter Rosie Carney told David Hennessy about her new album, when Lisa Hannigan asked her if she wanted some backing vocals and why she’ll keep covering Radiohead albums until she hears from the band. Rosie Carney has survived an entire pandemic in between the release of her 2019 debut Bare and the recent release […]

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Like in the old Days

The Irish World - Mer, 29/06/2022 - 11:31am

Singer- songwriter Keelan X told David Hennessy about catching the bug for music again during lockdown and more than ten years after his band The Marigolds broke up and he shelved all musical ambitions. Keelan X says he caught the bug during lockdown but thankfully he is not talking about Covid-19, he is talking about […]

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Tory rebel seeks ‘meaningful vote’ over Northern Ireland protocol bill powers

The Guardian - Mar, 28/06/2022 - 8:12pm

Sir Bob Neill attempts to force Boris Johnson to require parliamentary approval before bringing provisions into force

A leading Conservative rebel has launched an attempt to force Boris Johnson to seek permission from parliament before using powers in the Northern Ireland protocol bill.

Sir Bob Neill, the chair of the justice committee, tabled an amendment on Tuesday that would require “parliamentary approval for bringing into force any provisions” of the legislation, which would unilaterally rip up Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland at the risk of a trade war with the EU.

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Scrapping the NI protocol is just the start. Johnson’s trade wars are Trumpism in action | Simon Jenkins

The Guardian - Mar, 28/06/2022 - 11:26am

Brexit has left Britain out on a limb. Yet the PM seems hellbent on alienating our trading partners to boost his own position

Britain’s foreign policy is now at the mercy of Boris Johnson’s reckless quest for survival. At home he grasps for votes with Irish border controls, protectionist tariffs and immigrant quotas. Abroad, he tours Europe demanding total victory in someone else’s war while promoting the most intense economic disruption in the continent’s peacetime history. Every visit is treated as a photo opportunity. An absurd “bromance” is even staged with the equally embattled French leader, Emmanuel Macron. Never was machismo so synthetic.

Yesterday’s Commons vote on a bill which would allow him to scrap the Northern Ireland protocol was a classic. It was motivated by a desire to appease the province’s fast-disintegrating Unionist majority. The price is to be a predictable standup row with the EU, but one that Johnson thinks will bolster him with his party’s Brexiter right wing. The government’s suggestions for a “soft” border with Ireland are actually quite sensible. But Downing Street’s three years of anti-EU rhetoric have exhausted any wish in Brussels to be co-operative.

Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist

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Government wins vote on second reading of Northern Ireland protocol bill – as it happened

The Guardian - Mar, 28/06/2022 - 12:47am

This live blog has now closed, you can find our latest political coverage here

Boris Johnson restated his commitment to levelling up this morning. (See 12.03pm.) But a new report from the Resolution Foundation underlines quite what a challenge this will be. Using data showing how average incomes at local authority level have changed since 1997, it says inequalities have been persistent and that over the last 25 years overall change has been limited. It says:

We begin by showing that income differences at the local authority level are substantial. In 2019, before housing costs income per person in the richest local authority – Kensington and Chelsea (£52,451) – was 4.5 times that of the poorest – Nottingham (£11,708). These outliers clearly paint an extreme picture, but even when we compare incomes at the 75th and the 25th percentiles the differences remain significant. In 2019, for example, Oxford had an average per person income that was more than 20 per cent higher than Torbay (£18,700, compared with £15,372). More critically, the income gaps between places are enduring: the differences we observe in 1997 explain 80 per cent of the variation in average local authority income per person 22 years on. This means, for example, that the average income per person in Hammersmith and Fulham has stubbornly been two-to-three times higher than in Burnley for more than two decades.

Britain is beset by huge economic gaps between different parts of the country, and has been for many decades. While progress has been made in reducing employment gaps, this been offset by a surge in investment income among better-off families in London and the south-east.

People care about these gaps and want them closed, as does the government via its ‘levelling up’ strategy. The key to closing these gaps is to boost the productivity of our major cities outside London, which will also lead to stronger growth overall.

Driving a massive, massive agenda for change is a huge, huge privilege to do. And nobody abandons a privilege like that.

The mandate that the electorate gave us in 2019, there hasn’t been a mandate like it for the Conservative party for 40 years, it’s a mandate to change the country, to unite and to level up, and that’s what we’re going to do.

I’ve got a new mandate from my party which I’m absolutely delighted with … it’s done.

I think the job of government is to get on with governing, and to resist the blandishments of the media, no matter how brilliant, to talk about politics, to talk about ourselves.

I think most fair minded people, looking at how the UK came through Covid, around the world most people would say, actually fair play to them. They got the first vaccine into people’s arms, and they had the fastest vaccine rollout. Actually, they’ve got pretty low unemployment. They’ve got investment flooding into their country, they have got a lot of things going for them.

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Theresa May: Northern Ireland protocol bill will ‘diminish UK in eyes of the world’ – video

The Guardian - Lun, 27/06/2022 - 10:44pm

Speaking in the Commons, Theresa May told MPs that the government's proposals to modify the Northern Ireland protocol would 'diminish' the UK's standing in the world and she 'cannot support it'. The bill proposed by the government, she said, is not 'legal in international law'. 

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Laughter and forgetting with Liz as she prepares to break Brexit deal | John Crace

The Guardian - Lun, 27/06/2022 - 9:28pm

Introducing second reading of Northern Ireland protocol bill, Truss’s gullibility is almost endearing

It’s just over six years since the UK voted to leave the EU. Now, I’m not sure back then how you thought the country might look in 2022, but I’d put money on you not imagining a prime minister capable of interpreting two disastrous byelections as a mandate to carry on for two further terms. If only the Convict had lost a few more byelections, then he could have nominated himself as president for life.

But say you did make the right calls on Boris Johnson’s “World King” ambitions; surely no one would have dreamed that the UK would be busy trying to break the Brexit treaty it had signed just over two years previously. That was a level of incompetence and stupidity that was surely beyond even the derelicts who were left to make up the Rwanda Panda’s cabinet? Satire not just dead but completely incinerated.

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'Hypocrisy is corrosive to our foreign policy', David Lammy tells Liz Truss – video

The Guardian - Lun, 27/06/2022 - 9:00pm

The foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has described the government's attempt to modify the Northern Ireland protocol as 'both necessary and legal' during a debate in the Commons. However, Labour's shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, told MPs that the government's proposal would violate the UK's commitment to international law, and urged Truss to reach a negotiated solution

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Northern Ireland protocol bill passes Commons vote

The Guardian - Lun, 27/06/2022 - 12:46pm

Legislation allowing Brexit deal to be scrapped passes second reading stage, despite risk of trade war with EU

Proposed legislation to allow the UK to unilaterally rip up Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland at the risk of a trade war with the EU passed the second reading stage in the House of Commons on Monday night.

As expected the Northern Ireland protocol bill passed its first hurdle, with MPs voting 295 to 221 in favour despite heavy criticism from some Conservative backbenchers, including former prime minister Theresa May, who said the move is illegal and unnecessary.

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Stories of children killed in the Troubles to be told to MPs

The Guardian - Lun, 27/06/2022 - 11:36am

Relatives and friends of the six victims will narrate their stories in a committee room at Portcullis House

Relatives and friends of six children who died in Northern Ireland’s Troubles are to share their stories in a special presentation to MPs at Westminster.

They will relate testimonies in storytelling form about how the children were killed by the British army, the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries between 1971 and 1981.

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Borrowed British guns

An Phoblacht - Sab, 25/06/2022 - 1:01pm
The threat of renewed war made by the British government at the end of the Treaty negotiations was finally carried out on 28 June 1922 but it was the Provisional Government of the Free State that started the threatened war using borrowed British guns.
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Manufactured Debate Puts Trans Lives At Risk

Rebel - Ven, 24/06/2022 - 7:55pm

In recent weeks and months, parts of the Irish media have begun giving a platform to people who wish to stir up hatred towards transgender people. Mike Lovett cuts through the moral panic and the excuses of the media organisations who have allowed it to foment.

On Drivetime on the 15th of June, Sarah McInerney put questions to Peter Woods, head of Radio 1. He acknowledged the hurt caused to trans people on the back of the 3 days of Liveline discussions between the 9th to the 13th and apologised for it but said he would not want to see anything done differently were it to happen all over again. This is an extraordinarily strange statement, suggesting that the national broadcaster sees nothing wrong with giving a platform to organised bigots to spread misinformation and fear about a marginalised minority group. Any claim RTÉ makes about fairness, balance, impartiality and journalistic integrity is now totally undermined.

Allowing this misinformation to go unchallenged is dangerous because trans people are a very small minority whose lives and struggles the majority of the Irish public aren’t familiar with. The far-right are using this as a wedge issue. RTÉ has joined in with what the print media have been up to for the past 3 years or more: whipping up a mania about trans people to generate revenue while shutting out the very subject of the “debate” for fear some facts would be presented that would show that all “concern about the danger trans people pose to women and children” is completely manufactured – a false premise being used to attack trans people while disguising the fact we did nothing to deserve this vilification.

Transphobia is a danger to all queer people because encouraging a clampdown on gender non-conformity encourages more scrutiny of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. Far from “defending women and girls”, transphobic activists are opposing fundamental ideas about bodily autonomy that are central to women’s right to control their fertility because there is a slippery slope from claiming trans people can’t be trusted to know what’s best for them to claiming women can’t decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy.

While trans-exclusionary radical feminism has its roots in the 2nd wave feminism of the 1970’s, those who claim to be flying that flag now are building bridges with the far-right. Instead of engaging in a liberatory project seeking to tear down women’s oppression and the capitalist system that perpetuates it, trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) are engaged in a project of pessimism, of drawing clear borders around the category of womanhood and protecting those within from those without.  

The group calling themselves “The Countess” who rang into the Liveline program fit firmly into this category. As outlined by Izzy Kamikaze in The Beacon, their claims to have been innocently asking questions and standing up for the rights of “women and girls” are patently false. On Liveline, they claimed they wished to question the National Women’s Council about their support for the use of inclusive language in legislation that deals with pregnancy, childbirth and related leave from the workplace. In fact, they were refused access to the AGM because they had issued a press release stating their intent to “stage an action” opposing the election of a transgender woman, Sara Phillips to the board of the NWCI. This is a continuation of a long campaign of harassment that Sara Phillips has been subjected to, just for being openly trans and advocating for trans rights through her work with TENI.

If we want to get down to biological reality, sex is a strange category that describes (among other things) chromosomes, dominant sex hormone, genitals and secondary sex characteristics. All of those can be changed apart from chromosomes and not everyone fits neatly into male or female categories in all aspects. It is the transphobes who are denying biology.

When TERFs claim cisgender women and girls are at risk from trans women they tend not to explicitly outline the threat trans women pose, but imply that trans people are sexual deviants and therefore will sexually assault cis women. There is no evidence to suggest trans women pose a threat. In fact, trans women face far higher levels of assault than the general population. However, dancing around the issue functions like a psychological horror movie that never reveals the monster until the end. The reality of trans women being ordinary people who face disproportionate hurdles in life is too mundane to build a hate movement around.

On the subject of inclusive language, transphobes claim the use of inclusive language such as “person” in legislation and technical documents constitutes the erasure of women, and additionally that “woman” is a strictly defined biological category – only women get pregnant, and so on. In reality, the bill needs to say people rather than women to avoid creating loopholes which would allow discrimination against trans people who aren’t women but might get pregnant. In addition to that, I would hope it’s fairly uncontroversial to say that all women are also people. Nobody is proposing to ban calling women “mother” or anything like that, but legislation must use specific, impersonal language to avoid grey areas and to prevent people falling through the cracks in our public services.

Although trans-exclusionary radical feminism has its roots in the 2nd wave feminism of the 1970’s, those carrying the TERF banner these days are so fixated on the exclusion and marginalisation of transgender people that they have abandoned all commitment to any other ideas they may have previously had. This is demonstrated in their links to the far-right. There is evidence that The Countess have links to antisemitic conspiracy theorist Jennifer Bilek who fearmongers about “the Jewish aspect of the men involved” in advocating for trans rights. After the radio appearances, The Countess were praised by US far-right figure Andy Ngo and have asked him to broadcast their lies to his followers. Whether they themselves hold far-right views, they are advocating for less bodily autonomy and for demonising a minority group which puts them on the same side as the far-right. Though they may moderate their language for public consumption in order to seem reasonable and fool people who don’t know any better, they don’t moderate their views that trans people are either lying or deluded about who we are, and that this is some kind of plot against cisgender women. Even when presented in a calm tone of voice without slurs and swear words, these views are false and offensive.

The reaction in the press to the outrage this provoked within the LGBTQ+ community was mischaracterised as unreasonable, denying that anything really objectionable was said on Liveline at all. Dublin Pride are not, as one journalist described, acting like the Catholic bishops of decades past by terminating their association with RTÉ. They are refusing to stand over irresponsible, inaccurate coverage which has the potential to sway public opinion against members of a group Dublin Pride is supposed to represent. Their response has been entirely reasonable. 

The Left has not yet won the majority of people to a solid understanding and support for trans rights, and this motivates the far-right to use trans rights as a wedge issue. This was demonstrated when far-right groups, The Irish Freedom Party and The National Party, held a protest in front of Dáil Éireann in July of 2020 targeting Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman, both on the basis that he is a gay man and as such cannot be trusted around children and also because he had promised to make it possible for trans people under 18 to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate – a document which would allow them to update their identity documents to reflect who they are. 

It is crucial for socialists to recognise that trans people are indeed oppressed – the dismal state of transition-related healthcare including the lack of any provision for under-18s for the last year and a half, the high unemployment rate and prevalence of poor mental health should be evidence enough – and that our rights are not in any conflict with women’s rights. As such we need to include demands that give dignity to trans people in our struggle for decent public services and against bigotry and division in society.

It is morally abhorrent to platform such hateful discourse on the national broadcaster, but we don’t have the luxury of ignoring it. Refusing to engage with hostile media outlets will not get us anywhere as there is currently no alternative outlet that reaches a large section of Irish society. This is, of course, deeply unpleasant and disturbing, not least for trans people.

But we have no option but to stridently oppose them, on the streets and in the media. We cannot afford to be put on the defensive against ludicrous conspiracy theories. We must instead cut through the manufactured “trans debate” about whether or not we deserve basic respect. 

The antidote to this is the building of real movements of solidarity to beat back the hatemongers, and fight for free healthcare based on informed consent through an All-Ireland NHS.

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Does David Frost’s claim that Brexit is working stack up?

The Guardian - Gio, 23/06/2022 - 5:05pm

Analysis: From economic impact to Northern Ireland protocol, former chief negotiator has given his verdict

On 23 June 2016, slightly more than half of the UK’s voters, 51.9%, backed leaving the European Union, sending shock waves around the world as the UK started the painful process of divorce from the bloc.

The result also sowed the seeds of one of the most divisive periods in British political history, with the resignation of two Conservative prime ministers, the sacking of 21 Tory rebels and a comprehensive victory for Boris Johnson on the back of his promise of an “oven-ready Brexit deal”.

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Rebel - Gio, 23/06/2022 - 3:19pm
Socialism 2022 | A Summer School of Radical Ideas

Friday 4th – Saturday 5th June, in The Teachers Club, Parnell Square, Dublin.

As the world stumbles into war and climate catastrophe, the often-quoted warning from revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg that society is at a crossroads, either Socialism or Barbarism, is incredibly relevant today.

Each week brings new reports and figures showing how capitalism and its addiction to profit is destroying our environment and killing the planet’s biodiversity. The war in Ukraine likewise has reopened the question of imperialism and how socialists must respond to it.

Socialism 2022 brings together a wide array of Irish & International speakers to discuss the causes behind the current crisis, and the ideas needed to find a way out.

Timetable for Socialism 2022

The post SOCIALISM 2022: BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW appeared first on REBEL.

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Brexit is working and naysayers have axes to grind, claims David Frost

The Guardian - Gio, 23/06/2022 - 1:52pm

UK’s former chief negotiator launches staunch defence of Brexit on sixth anniversary of EU referendum

Brexit is working and anyone who says it has hit the economy and trade has an axe to grind, the former Brexit negotiator David Frost has said on the sixth anniversary of the UK voting to leave the EU.

Lord Frost stopped short of painting a picture of “sunny uplands” but said official figures used to predict a 4% decline in output caused by Brexit were “zombie” numbers, based on academic studies of former communist countries, and not fact.

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