Cork City Hall Occupied in Response to Criminalisation of Dissent

Cork City Hall Occupied in Response to Criminalisation of Dissent

The City Council meeting in Cork was suspended tonight as between 70- 100 activists occupied the city hall. The occupation is in response to the criminalisation of people taking part in demonstrations and actions against the imposition of a water tax.

Last week saw the imprisonment of 5 people for breaking a High Court injunction that in seeks to stop effective blockading of water meter installations. However across the country civil disobediences continues to slow down or stop Denis O Briens company, Seirra GMC, installing meters.

Those occupying city hall in Cork this evening read out a statement which can be seen in the video below.

Photo of occupation in Cork City Hall, proclamation on the wall  Thanks to Páidí Ó Madáin

Photo of occupation in Cork City Hall, proclamation on the wall Thanks to Páidí Ó Madáin

Thousands attend #IrishWater Mountjoy Prison demo.

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Upwards of 10,000 people turned out in an anti repression demonstration in Dublin today. The demonstration came after weeks of arrests in Tallaght and the imprisonment of 4 people last Thursday for breaking an injunction. The injunction is designed to criminalise effective protests in blockading water meters.

People marched from the Central Bank in Dublin’s city center to Mountjoy prison in the north inner city. The Golden Ball outside the Central Bank provided an ideal starting point as it is emblematic of the opulent cocaine fueled financial and economic ideology that has shattered the very communities that turned out today. The Central Bank are planning to spend €500,000 of tax payers money on moving the ball to it new HQ at a time that community project budgets have been slashed by €400,000.

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Bernie Hughes, Richie Larkin, Damien O’Neill, Mark Egan, Michael Batty, Derek Byrne and Paul Moore were all charged with contempt of court last Thursday for taking part in demonstrations against the installations of water meters. Their imprisonment follows weeks of arrests by police under pressure to construct a case of false imprisonment relating to a blockade of deputy prime minister Joan Burton.

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Last night Socialist Party and AAA TD Paul Murphy was a guest on the Late Late show and was questioned by Ryan Tubridy about Irish Water protests in an interview widely lambasted as both comical and biased. All this is in line with a constructed narrative which seems solely designed to frame ‘good protest’ as standing about in a street, and ‘bad protest’ as anything that isn’t that.

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No doubt the government has felt that the anti water tax movement will dissipate and that people will be turned off by media spin and misrepresentation of events on the ground. And it could well be the case that this strategy may way be seen by them to pay off if there isnt a large mobilisation on 21st March.

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However the repression, demonisation, arrests and imprisonment of people, mostly coming from working class communities with pre-existing tension with the Irish police force, is also having a effect of galvanisation and politicisation. This will play out not just in the coming elections, but more broadly in grassroots and community struggle. As Fine Gael drink themselves silly tonight at their annual shindig, they might ponder if further antagonising communities on the brink is a wise strategy or if doing away with Irish Water is the most pragmatic political choice for them.

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Because the numbers at todays demonstration, which was called a few days ago, saw far higher numbers than expected by myself and any one I had chatted to in advance

About 800 people had gathered at the Central Bank, but this swelled as the march weaved along College Green onto O Connell street, up Parnell Sq, along Dorset Street and up North Cirular Rd to Mountjoy Prison. By the time it the head of the march has reached the prison Id estimate there was about 8000, though I’m awaiting the numbers from a professional crowd counter A Flood.

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There were impassioned speeches from some of those brought before the courts and from Jessie Hughes, whose mother Bernie was in Mountjoy prison. The three others were transferred earlier today to Wheatfield prison. The was also contributions from Paul Murphy, and artist Robert Ballagh. Ballagh made the point, after opening his coat to show a white shirt and tie, that rarely did white collar criminals ever spend a night in Mountjoy Prison, whilst working class communities feel full state repression for not staying in their box.

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During one contribution a statement was read out from Derek Byrne stating he had started to refused both food and fluids in prison and will continue to do so until his release. Personally Im very much opposed to hunger strikes like this. I think they are politically dangerous and counter productive. Though it perhaps is a sign of genuine stress, intimidation and last stand to try to undertake this. So I feel and empathise for Derek Byrne, even though I disagree with his actions in this context. Its something to keep a close eye on for sure.

UPDATE: Derek Byrne is on hungerstrike until his return to Mountjoy.

His state as posted on FB is

This is Siobhan Walsh releasing a statement on behalf of Mr Derek Byrne. We have been locked up/confined to a cell for the last 3 days on complete lock down in Wheatfield Prison. We were moved out of Mountjoy because of a political decision. We have taken the steps to go on hunger strike and have been on hunger strike since yesterday, If we are not moved back to Mountjoy Training Unit as we were told we would be then on Monday morning we will be taking it further and refusing fluids until we are moved back to Mountjoy. It is harder for our families to make the journey to Clondalkin to visit us. Every decision made from our court cases to our incarceration has been of a political nature. 2 young children are been kept from their Father and are now in an emotionally distraught state , their Mothers are now been denied financial aid by the Father as he is currently been incarcerated by the state as he refuses to back down from 1. a point of principle and 2. he believes there is a better way forward for the people of this country. We ask that there be daily protests at shopping centers connected to main roads and to keep our stories highlighted. We ask that the politicians (All TD’s FG LB FF) are made to pay for these decisions and for people to hold SILENT PEACEFUL CANDLE VIGILS outside their houses. David McGuiness of FF has said that the water meter protests have led to an increase of burglaries and other areas, NOT TRUE! Water meter protests have nothing to do with an increase in crime, lack of Garda resources and funding by the government have led to an increase in crime, Water meter protesters have committed No crime!. These are the people that are standing and fighting for a better future for everyone in this country. We again ask that Enda Kenny & his government resign. We’d like to thank everyone for their support and continued support. Derek Byrne.

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Court Report : 5 Jailed for #IrishWater demonstrations

Five People Jailed for Irish Water demonstration

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Five people where jailed today for taking part in demonstrations to stop the installation of Irish Water meters. Bernie Hughes, Richie Larkin, Damien O’Neill, Mark Egan, Michael Batty, Derek Byrne and Paul Moore were all charged with contempt of court. Bernie, Derek and Michael got 28 days. Paul and Damien got 56 days Mark and Richie were cleared. Those sentences to prison where found to have broken an injunction granted by Justice Paul Gilligan and none would promise that they wouldn’t do it again

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The injunction granted to Seirra GMC make it illegal for anyone to enter a 20 metre zone surrounding the installation of individual meters. Given the nature of housing in the north inner city of Stoneybatter and Phibsboro the injuction people makes it technically illegal for people to be in many of these small terraced streets at all.

Gilligan has handed more injunctions restriction political protest in the state than anyone else. He previously handing out quite draconian injunctions to people organising a demonstration around the eviction of people from their homes. He awarded it to Ktech, another private security firm who forcable evict people from their homes.

In that case the injunction barred people from open quotes organising assisting publicising are attending any of those public demonstrations. Buy any understanding these restrictions bars people from participating in legitimate public political protest.

The evidence presented by Denis O Briens, Seirra GMC in this case came from video taken by private security firms Guardex and First Pulse. Its was supplemented by oral testimony from Brendan Doyle, Michael O Neill and a Mr Corrigan all of whom have been filming residents of local communities and supporters attempting to stop the nstallation of Irish Water meters. Seirra GMC also tried to use photos they took from Facebook pages of communities groups, but this was eventually ruled inadmissible.

The footage that was provided as evidence came from the streets of Stoneybatter, where they helped the locals organise the blockades in December. Of the 13 specific incidents covered, not one video showed any violence or aggression. This was in direct contradiction with the oral evidence submitted where private security tried to say there was harrassment and violence against workers. Since there was no real evidence and nothing to corroborate it, this too was deemed inadmissible.

The actual ‘crimes’ that people will now be spending their first of many night is prison are

1 Being within a 20m restriction zone

2 Leaning on barriers erected by GMC

3 Standing inside the barrier.

Another thing of note is the fact that none of the defendants could be identified by the private who presented video that they filmed. They had no idea who it was they filmed and said they were only able to ascertain peoples identity by getting information from unnamed “third parties”. As we now know the Data Commissioner is currently investigating An Garda Siochana for handing over information police officers have gathered to Irish Water, GMC Seirra, Gardex and First Pulse.  This is just another manifestation the ever thinning barriers between repressive actions of the justice system, the police force and private corporations.

Bernie Hughes spoke outside the court at lunchtime, just before sentencing

Meanwhile water meter blockades continue across the country. In the south side of the city at Rialto, no water meters were installed as the community came out to stop the installations in direct contravention of Justice Gilligan, Denis O Brien and a government with little support.

Has resistance to water meter installations just won in Dublin? Not yet it seems.

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UPDATE 6.00pm  : Irish Water refutes Sinn Fein statement and say they arent pulling out. Though they do have a track u turns and vagueness.. Their statement said.

“There has been no withdrawal from any region, Dublin included. Irish Water contractors continue to install meters nationwide as evidenced by the numbers”  They also said “n order to guarantee the safety of metering crews and members of the public, metering works have, on occasion, been postponed on specific sites by the contractors due to the nature of protestor activity. Safety of the metering crews and the general public is a priority for Irish Water….Irish Water cannot comment on the specifics of its contracts with third parties for reasons of confidentiality except to say that it is for our contractors to deliver the metering program in accordance with our requirements; safely and meeting time and budget obligations.”

Irish Water are due to release a statement later today following comments from Sinn Fein’s environment spokesperson to the effect that Dennis O Briens company, Sierra GMC, is to stop installing meters in Dublin. Installations of water meters in Dublin have reduced to a trickle following community and street level mobilisations that have stopped work going ahead.

Seventy seven year old Ms. O'Neill joins her neighbours on the blockade of Irish Water at Montpelier Drive. H/T Stoneybatter Against the Water Tax

Seventy seven year old Ms. O’Neill joins her neighbours on the blockade of Irish Water at Montpelier Drive. H/T Stoneybatter Against the Water Tax

Whilst An Garda Siochana and private security firms like Gardex have worked hand in glove to facilitate water meter installation, including the police forces passing on details of people protesting in their own street, the ongoing consistent resistance seems to have have got results. The cost of continuing to push through water meter installations have been made too high for the company and for the government itself.

If the pull out is confirmed this is a massive boost to the anti water tax movement across the country as it shows the effectiveness of community based direct actions in stopping water meter installations in the capital of the country. Its hard to underestimate the importance of this victory.

That being said it is very unlikely that Denis O Brien will take this lying down. We should fully expect the framing of any decision to stop water meter installations to feed into the existing narratives of “thugish elements” of the anti water tax movements.  The mainstream media are very unlikely to portray this as a gallant win.

The Right 2 Water campaign have understandably sought to create a broad left platform for the coming election. Its common sense to do this. However it would be an a substantive failure of opportunity for radical progessive movement building in Ireland, if electoralism alone is the strategy going forward.  But hey those conversations can happen another day.

Because its clear that street level politics outside the ballot box, be that stopping meters going in, taking meters out or wide spread non payment is what will defeat this.

It looks like street politics in Ireland has had its biggest win in decades. And when people get involved with struggle in their communites and  become emboldened with a win?  Well that’s when things tend to get pretty interesting….

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#IrishWater Anti-Repression Demo (and some thoughts)


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UPDATE:  Arrests have now risen to twenty this week with a husband and wife arrested this morning by the police. 


We Wont Pay

Tonight about 700 people gathering outside the Department of Justice and Equality in an anti-repression demonstration. The demonstration was called in response to ongoing arrests of adults and children involved in the anti water tax movement.

Amongst those speaking at the event was Jason Lester a 16 year old boy arrested on Tuesday morning by ten detectives, nine in plain clothes. The police arrested him in his bedroom after he was woken up. “Next thing I new they where standing in my bedroom and arresting me under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.”

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Jason’s arrest was one of 17 so far this week which on Wednesday also included a 14 year old boy. The arrests follow a familiar pattern at this stage where large numbers of police arrive at the break of dawn at peoples houses in the working class community of Tallaght, usually minimum of six police officers per arrest. People are put into cells, stripped of shoes, belts and personal possessions, fingerprinted and interrogated for several hours and then released without charge.  

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The arrests focus on an incident in Jobstown last November when a car driving Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Tánaiste Joan Burton, was prevented from moving for up to three hours by people sitting in front of it. They were demonstrating against the introduction of a water tax, part of ongoing state policies resulting from the shifting of private speculation debt on to public accounts.

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A decision was made to build a case of false imprisonment of the Minister, by an investigation team resourced to a degree one would normally associate with high level criminality such as murders or drug trafficking. Its commonly understood within the wider public and the broad anti-water tax movement that the police operation is motivated not with a desire to convict anyone with false imprisonment of the government minister. That itself is a ludicrous proposition given that footage available on-line shows that her car was surrounded by police at pretty much the whole time.

An understanding of policing in Ireland suggests that the motivations are probably muddy. In part they probably do come from a desire to put manners on people involved in embarrassing and annoying a senior government minister. And if you can simultaneously sling enough hyperbolic mud at a movement you might create division and inoculate others from getting involved. And whilst the history of Irish policing ‘crisis’ show that the force is wide open to political interference, a more mundane reality is that police forces engage in political repression for the same reasons a dog licks its own balls. Because its coded into its DNA. For a substantive look at political policing in Ireland check out this report from the Garda Research Institute. But before looking at policing its worth looking at the movement from which those arrest come from.

The anti water tax movement itself is the largest and most sustained public reaction to years of cuts, job losses, growing poverty and inequality. A sense of the importance and social power of the movement is illustrated by the fact that the political party polling highest at present, Sinn Fein, changed its own position in relation to Irish Water and the proposed introduction of water charges. Other left organisations such as the Socialist Party/Austerity Alternative Alliance and Socialist Worker Party/People Before Profits and trade unions and activists are involved under a broad Right 2 Water banner.

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However the wider movement itself is not under the control of any of these organisations. To be part of it you simply just have to not pay. It is made up of an increasingly networked affiliation of community groupings communicating with each other. In this way groups from across the country, and within the capital, are in regular contact with each other to organise solidarity actions such preventing meter installations or support events like the anti-repression demo.

It is within this context that the arrests this week is perhaps most usefully understood. The Irish government has failed spectacularly at each and every step of trying to create Irish Water as a legitimate social policy. It has bounced between an attitude of arrogance and disdain and open fear as deadlines for registration get pushed back and proposals changed so many times that most of us probably forget what the initial Irish Water proposal was. The entire process has only further fuelled disillusionment and general disconnect between ordinary people and a form of low-cunning politics that is clumsy, cruel, temperamental and when the shit the fan, fundamentally unjust.

Disillusionments with unjust policies, or indeed political systems, pose no threat or possibility of change when they are limited to small left wing meetings. Nor do individual bodies and families worn weary with the stress of bills and putting food on the table, and having to feed the relentless desires of a banking system to have its pound of flesh so that you have a roof over your head.

It is a profoundly different experience for everyone involved, for governments and participants, when that disillusionment is expressed on our streets. Be that hundreds of thousands of people collectively refusing to sign up, twenty thousand people walking together in the capital or twenty or thirty people on their own street stopping water meters going in in the first place.

Each one of these things is an active and living expression of solidarity and care. The very things most visibly absent in the logic of ‘austerity’.

From the perspective of people engaging in this movement, these are beautiful and empowering things. The reality of becoming engaged with our neighbours in trying to shape our world outside the ritual of voting is a transforming experience. We become political and social actors ourselves. And we do it again and again. Exploring that further is another piece of writing, but suffice to say that movements of this size are not just about changing policies or getting better governments in the future at the next election. For thousands of people involved it is a real change in the immediate way we understand what politics is and what it can be.


From the perspective of a government that sees their respective party support falling, and looking across Europe and seeing that peoples movements are a real game changer, public engagement in social solidarity is a terribly bad idea. And perhaps for a moment we can indulge and make evident the basis of this fear. A lot of TD’s in Labour and Fine Gael are going to lose their jobs. We can be generous enough to recognise that it is scary to look forward to the future with that fear. We know it all too well. So at an individual level there is perhaps a case to be made that our own humanity is served to recognise that with empathy. But equally their job losses will be a result of a loyalty to organisations that preside over growing poverty and inequality. So perhaps this is small justice in action.

Though the established order of things is not about individual TD’s. The established order of things is about the maintenance of a captured state. And the maintenance of the established order is primarily achieved by having the power to defined what gets talked about and what doesn’t.

click for full size

click for full size

Arresting Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy first thing on a Monday morning was clearly motivated by a desire sought to shape a media narrative of the week. The headline news at 7am on Monday Morning Ireland, an RTE radio show that sets the news agenda for the day, was about the €3,500,000,000 hidden away by rich Irish people in Swiss accounts of HBSC banks. By 8am the headline was the arrest of Paul Murphy and three others and all other media outlets pursued. Now the arrests most likely were not timed to knock out the Irish end of the global HBSC tax evasion story.

Nonetheless those folks with €3,500,000,000 stashed away enjoy very much the established order of things. Where we see social solidarity and positive actions to make justice and equality central to how our society works, they see a mob. When we challenge the legitimacy of certain policies or orthodoxies, small but powerful interests know that their ability to shape the state to suit themselves is under threat.

And it that sense the demonisation of the broad anti-water tax movement by Denis O Brien press is just part of the historical game played between owners and the owned. The fact that Michael Geoghegan, the former CEO of HBSC at the time, was appointed chair of the NAMA advisory board is a mere footnote in the weeks news. There has been no public debate around precisely who in Ireland defrauded millions from our public services.

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It remains to be seen if the wider public in Ireland will be swayed away from non payment by the recent police actions. And when Paul Murphy says he would love to see his day in court so would many of us. Its unlikely to happen. One can only imagine how damaging it would be for Labour and Fine Gael facing electoral meltdown to have the Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton cross examined in the courts. I doubt very much whether the established order of things will have an appetite for that.

I’ll leave the last words to Jason

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzZmZKb9wR4

Guest Post: Oisin Gilmore on Charlie Hebdo and “Freedom of Speech”.

Charlie Hebdo…

Hedo

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent etc. This is equally true when we just don’t know the facts we need to digest. I know a little about Charlie Hebdo. After Ireland and the UK, I know the media and intellectual and political climate in France better than anywhere else. But, still, I know very little.

Although to be honest, I think what Charlie Hebdo did or didn’t do isn’t really that important. Regardless of what they said, yesterday was indefensible. Even if Charlie Hebdo were racist islamophobe fascists, it would be indefensible.

But, I think something can be said more broadly about liberal republicanism that might be pertinent here.

The fact that this happened in France seems somehow relevant. We hear repeated in commentary how France is the home of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, indeed it is the official motto of the French Republic. In a widely circulated blog on the events yesterday, Joan Cole states the French “invented” the rights of man and the values associated with it. And we hear both within and outside France continuous discourse on the centrality of laïcité (i.e. state secularism) for French politics.

But it is important to remind ourselves that the French revolution was not accomplished. And its promise remains unfulfilled. Indeed socialism emerged in the 19th century from the two coterminous developments: the increasing predominance of waged workers within the population and the intellectual realisation that ideals of “liberté, égalité, fraternité” were not achievable under existing property relations.

As Michael Ellman said, a major tragedy of the twentieth century is that socialism came to be seen as the rival to the “bourgeois revolution” rather than its ultimate heir.

For socialists it should be important to not only defend, but to pursue more vigorously, liberal republican ideals.

But we should not imagine that these ideals can simply be defended.

So Channel 4’s John Snow is extremely wrong when he writes “Paris: brutal clash of civilisations: Europe’s belief in freedom of expression vs those for whom death is a weapon in defending their beliefs.”https://twitter.com/jonsnowC4/status/552804891920711680

“Europe” does not “believe” in freedom of expression.

It has been noted that a number of the journalists killed yesterday started working together around the satirical libertarian socialist journal “L’Enragé” which was published in 1968. (The first issue and a lovely English translation is here: https://libcom.org/files/lenrage_journal_scans.pdf )

It is worth considering what happened to the other radicals then and in the subsequent years when the prevalent order in “Europe” was last threatened.

Perhaps the largest group coming out of 1968 in France was the ‘Jeunesse Communiste Revolutionaire’ who were organised around their newspaper ‘Rouge’. They were banned. Then their former members formed the ‘Ligue Communiste’. So, they were banned.

Or in Germany, not only was the Communist Party completely banned, but from 1972 all applicants for public sector employment (teachers, train drivers, gardeners etc.) were screened because “political extremists” were banned from public employment. Hundreds upon hundreds were denied or lost their employment. And later support for “crimes against the constitution” were banned. (This included advocating revolution). More recently, in 1991, one of the largest far left groups (Marxistische Gruppe) in Germany dissolved itself as a response to a fear of reprisals against its members.

Or in Ireland, we had “Section 31″ in 1971 which banned broadcast of “any matter that could be calculated to promote the aims or activities of any organisation which engages in, promotes, encourages or advocates the attaining of any particular objectives by violent means”.

Beyond that, more recently and more trivially, in the Netherlands, in 2011 two men were arrested and fined for wearing 1312 on their t-shirt, which stands for ACAB, which stands for All Cops Are Bastards. And two years prior to that a man was arrested and fined for wearing a t-shirt with “Corrupt” superimposed over the Dutch police logo.

And more tragically, the “Allies” in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq bombed Al Jazeera bureaus. And in 1999 NATO bombed the Serbian TV headquarters killing 16 on the basis that is was the “ministry of lies”.

This list is already too long. It is only a glimpse of “Europe’s belief in freedom of expression”. There are simply too many major infringements on freedom of expression in Europe by “Europe” to mention more than a few.

It might be objected: “So what? These infringements on liberty might be real, but this was still an attack on freedom of speech and we should stand against that.”

Perhaps.

The attack was certainly an attack on Charlie Hebdo because of what they said. But surely an attack on freedom of speech must either be (a) a call for a legal restriction on freedom of speech or (b) a form of intimidation that encourages self-censorship for fear of reprisal. This attack is clearly not the former. But it clearly is the latter. However, this is somewhat more nebulous. Indeed it is hard to imagine that the level of “self-censorship for fear of reprisal” in response to this attack will be larger than “self-censorship for fear of reprisal” caused by “Pantigate”. (This was where the Irish state broadcaster apologised and paid compensation to a Catholic advocacy group that opposes gay marriage on the basis that they had been ‘falsely’ accused of being homophobes.)

The atrociousness of the Charlie Hebdo atrocity lies in the violence involved and the motivation behind it, not because it poses any major threat to freedom of speech.

So if there is no threat, what is the point of defending it? When we are called to stand against the attacks and defend freedom of speech, who are we who would stand and what is it we would defend?

Here the answer is clearer. We would be the West defending the West.

But the west is not republicanism, it is not the legacy of the French revolution and it is not freedom. It only contains this legacy and this potential. But neither this legacy nor the hope of freedom are French. They are global and universal.

Those of us who do claim this legacy should reject these false ideas of ‘the west versus its opponents’. Republicanism, democracy and freedom are the opponents of ‘the West’ as it is today. Instead of defending what we do not have, we should continue to hold fast to our ideals and aspirations and should continue to work for their realisation and for a society in which they are realisable

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Oisin Gilmore is a mate. More pertinently he is an Irish economist, based in the Netherlands, whose been involved in the socialist movement for longer than he cares to remember.

6 Curious Things About #RebootIreland, Creighton and Eddie Hobbs.

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Some Things You Should Know About Creighton’s and Hobbs #RebootIreland.

1 The lamest party ever…..

Bad Party

Lucinda Creighton and Eddie Hobbs didn’t announce a political party. They launched a Twitter hashtag #RebootIreland and an empty dysfunctional website at a press conference about having another press conference at some point in the future. Launching a new political party requires announcing some sense of membership base, actual organisation founders, candidates for elections, an indication of how the organisation is funded and finally some – even minimally – fleshed out social vision upon which organisational policy is rooted. None of this exists after today.

Creighton alleges this right wing coagulation has over 100 people “professionally volunteering.” in policy, organisational development, IT/web design and research. (Obviously ‘professionally volunteering’ it a completely made up category, but Ill get to that.)

The most detailed part of the website is it copy/pasted cookie policy. When you click on social media icons, rather than being platforms for the party, the icons autogenerate tweets and facebook updates on your own profiles saying I’ve just signed up to #RebootIreland because I want to create a new Irish political party. Join me to Learn More. http://rebootireland.com/

Well at least the Twitter link does. When you clicked on the Facebook icon this afternoon you got a pop up saying

App Not Set Up: The developers of this app have not set it up properly for Facebook Login.”

Less #RebootIreland and more CTRL+Alt+Del……

ctrl-alt-del

2  WTF are they Talking about….

Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”  Roald Dahl – The BFG

The language used by Crieghton and #RebootIreland is mostly madey-upey-vaugey nonsense intended to disguise lack of originality and intellectual incoherence whilst also sounding like it has depth and meaning. But at its core its more ho hum neoliberalism for narcissists without a party.

Lets have a wee look at some of the terms used so far….

Professional Volunteering” – What does this even mean? Is unprofessional volunteering a thing too? Eh no it isnt. It is of course utter bollix, but its much better than saying either ‘unpaid workers’ or ‘interns’, or simply volunteers.

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Why? Well because giving recognition and value to the concept of unpaid labour plays havoc with right wing intellectualism. Not that the neoliberalism is against free or cheap labour. The entire rationale of right wing economics is the flow of wealth created by human labour into fewer and fewer hands. This isnt even a radical left idea anymore, but an accepted reality based upon empirical evidence. The problem for right wingers like Eddie Hobbs and Creighton is the need to create justifying myths for such inequality. And sure what way to create justifying myths and false explanations about how society works than using madey-uppey terminology and jargon.

The entire bedrock of society and hence any abstract economy is based in the first place upon the unpaid labour of caring for children, siblings, partners, parents, relations and friends. Which is something you dont want to talk about as it makes #RebootIreland over reliance on an un problematised ‘entrepreneurship’ seem non sense. Which of course is what it is.  Most probably there is a bit of ego stroking here.  These are REAL volunteers you know. Educated, respectable people, not like the common garden variety you see working in drug rehabilitation, mental health, hospices, charity shops and community education projects.  That kind of volunteering is for plebs….

Building An Economy for Entrepreneurs Across The Social, Private and Public Sectors -Building a new economy that supports entrepreneurs, employees and consumers of small businesses.”

Hard-working-guys

So #RebootIreland wants an economy run on craft beer pubs, but the beer will also be cheap. Right so Ted. But hold on. What is the social sector? Is that a new word for society itself? Is society a sector now, a category that sits along side private and public sectors rather than containing them. And is society made up of consumers now? So this is all about choice? All about giving people the ability to choose?    Heres some wise words on choice from George Carlin

“There’s a reason education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better. Don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got.. because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now.. the real owners. The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations.

They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.”

Make The Public Sector Public- Fostering a spirit of entrepreneurism in our public sector that will reward those who work the hardest and deliver the best results for our public services.”

Young doctor with boxing gloves

Finally. At last someone has seen the true value of competitiveness in the public sector. I cant wait to see the full impacts of ambulance staff and fire brigade units battling it out to be the first to cut children out of car wreckage or rescue your granny from her burning flat. Think of the improvements in public health when doctors and nurses are green lighted to find ways to get personal rewards for most efficient use of bandages and IV drips and least use of expensive drugs. Chronic underfunding and hiring freezes alone wont bring us a lean, quicker more responsive public service. Unshackled from common sense and embracing a spirit of entrepreneurism – another way of describing risk-taking profit-seeking – seems to be a brilliant strategy for dealing with salting freezing icy roads and cancer treatments alike.

But does this really describe making the public sector public? Surely what Creighton and Hobbs are describing is making the public sector private. That’s what they really mean. And this is the point. Its Dr Suess channeling Mrs Thatcher. The use of language that obfuscates and makes invisible that the opposite thing is being spoken about  was brought to the fore by Blairite politics in the late 90’s. This is about not just to the material dismantling of an already crumbling welfare state, but eroding more thoroughly even the idea of an consciously unselfish society as a whole. It’s been said before by many but needs to be said again. People would much prefer properly working health, education, welfare and infrastructures – available to all – rather than choose between broken public services and other private systems most of us have limited or zero access to.

Give Politics Back To The People- Creating a political system that supports freedom of thought, difference and independence.”

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Pitching, in 2015, for a political system that supports freedom of thought is perhaps the most flaccidly uninspiring idea I’ve ever heard from a politician and sidekick. Maybe we should have a political system that supports breathing and riding too, right?

This isnt about giving politics back to the people. We ‘do’ politics every day of our lives just living with the fucked up captured state this is thanks all the same Lucinda. This bit seems entirely about the venting of frustrated social conservatism wrapped up in the discourse of independent thinking.

If you want to enjoy the luxury of your repressed and repressing ideology – independently and unfettered – take a walk in the park. Or run a bath and ponder some. Hell sure even get drunk in the corner of a pub ranting like a mad yoke. But don’t come giving us some crap about it being about giving politics back to the people. That’s like shitting in my lunch-box and telling me you just increased my material assets. Which for a lot of people in Ireland who followed Eddie Hobbs advice pre-crash isn’t far off the mark.

A vibrant democratic sphere supports freedom of thought, difference and independence. Diverse media ownership supports freedom of thought difference and independence. An education system readily accessible to all at any point of their lives supports freedom of thought, difference and independence. Non-repressed human behaviour supports freedom of though, difference and independence.

On the otherhand organisations set up by people like Creighton and Hobbs support first and foremost people like Creighton and Hobbs. At best it is the social reproduction of dis-proven social, political and economic dumbfuckery.

Measuring Government With A Clear Social Target – Underpin Irish society through fiscal and social policy with a targeted Minimum Lifestyle Standard.”

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Minimum Lifestyle Standard? 

I did a quick search on Google for “Minimum Lifestyle Standard” and got 23 results. Most related to the #RebootIreland launch.

For a sense of scale I also Google “Enda Kenny ate my hamster” and got 5,220 results.

Others results for the term referred to, I shit you not, the upgrading of prison cells to ‘minimum lifestyle standards’. One other reference was a blog post on Mao, but when I clicked it was clear it was a malware site. So the only other reference to minimum lifestyle standards that seems to exist as a real term as is about reducing inhumane conditions in prisons.  And inspire analogy for a right wing neoliberal project? At this point I’m beginning to think some of these professional volunteers aren’t as professional as professional is meant to sound.

On the other hand perhaps prison makeovers is quite close to what #RebootIreland imagines how best to deal with those of us living in poverty. I mean, if prison cells attain a minimum lifestyle standard sure what do we have to complain about if we end up there.

Oddly it is the only pillar of #RebootIreland that addresses society as a society. But it even does that without mentioning society. Totally bonkers stuff when you think about it really.

To the right wing,  the collective politics of being alive and human means little more than a series of economics transactions, everything reduced to the amoral arithmetic of cold cash, individuals atomised in the workplace. Its how #RebootIreland even speaks about itself thus far. There is no society to speak of, merely technocratic policies resting upon a amoral logic that refuses to expose itself to interrogation.

wombs

Of course that doesn’t apply to wombs and women. Wombs and women are spaces for the most invasive specificity and pub(l)ic policy. People and places for the most intense scrutiny and application of scripture codified as laws. Wombs and women are the property of society, a society only constituted for that specific purpose. The Freudian unconscious at work here would be too publicly embarrassing to maintain were it not for the mostly emotionally illiterate craft of economic and political commentary in Irish mainstream media.  Most can’t even see this shit when its drafted into press releases and websites by professional volunteers. Luckily the population is a great deal smarter than your average political commentator.

'Tim on Twitter_ _Removing red-tape from the workplace, And sticking it on wombs_ #rebootireland_' - twitter_com_TimForde_status_551033224592633856

4 After 12 months of running around and biggest ally mustered was Eddie Hobbs??

Jack and Jill Foundation Goldrush launch  with Eddie Hobbs and Rosanna Davison

Jack and Jill Foundation Goldrush launch  with Eddie Hobbs and Rosanna Davison

Jack and Jill Foundation Goldrush launch  with Eddie Hobbs and Rosanna Davison

Jack and Jill Foundation Goldrush launch  with Eddie Hobbs and Rosanna Davison

Hobbs is a celebrity *cough* economist and financial *cough cough* adviser who

likes to play himself as a champion of the consumer. He’s an odd sort of a character though. He never stops turning up on radio, in print or in TV giving out about the media, and about insiders. Though he is very much part of the establishment himself. And there is no nice way of saying this. Eddie Hobbs is from a class of people who are vampires on other peoples pain and misery. He played a public role justifying and validating financial speculation that drove Irelands property bubble. He is one more of the faces that gave vocal support to political and economic ideas that led directly to a 15% rise in suicides, and that has seen the number of children living in poverty rise by 130,000 in 5 years in Ireland.

But why would Eddie Hobbs be a fan of financial speculation that drove so many people to an early grave, that shreds public services and that sees a growing poverty on this island and across the globe. The answer here is quite simple. He makes money from it. Money based on other peoples misery.

Detroit in the US was home to thousands of missold mortgages by banks such as Bank of America. Bank Of America was fined $16 Billion for is dodgy dealing which have resulted in thousands of families being evicted and made homeless. Where Eddie Hobbs comes into the mix in Detroit is through the US arm of his investment company Brendan Investments. Hobbs – who makes so much of hating the media – took out half page adverts in Irish papers advertising his US arm, called Artesian Equities. 

You needed to front up at least €500,000 to be part of his scheme. Picking at the bones of a society ripped apart isn’t something ordinary Joe Bloggs can get in on very easily. This is a game for the rich, by the rich, sucking the marrow of the poor and impoverished. Like most of the squeamish end of capitalism in western society, all of this is of course perfectly legal and above board. 

Detroit is in Wayne County. The Wayne County Register of Deeds, which hold records of land transactions shows Artesian Equities as being the grantor in over 5000 separate land transactions to date.

https://www.waynecountylandrecords.com/recorder/eagleweb/docSearchResults.jsp?searchId=1

A community activist project called “Why Dont We Own This” mapped out current property ownership in Detroit post 2011 to track the Wayne County Foreclosure Auction, following large scale mortgage failures due to massive unemployment causes by financial speculation itself.

As families were evicted across Detroit, Wayne Country facilitated the auction of peoples former homes for next to nothing, in many cases handing them to vulture investors like Hobbs Artesian Equities for free. At present Artesian owns 482 properties in Detroit. As you can see from the list below this make it one of the largest private owners of property in Detroit, ownership built upon the the misery of hundreds of families and a bankrupt city. For me the type of person who makes money, and helps other people make money, off the backs of people caught up in the economic crisis is no different than someone who rifles the pockets of someone knocked down on the street instead of calling an ambulance.  

ARTESIAN EQUITIES LLC ownership

Eddie is quite upfront himself about making hay from this misery.

““The results are that for c.€500k or $660k an investor can acquire a portfolio of 16 newly refurbished middle class homes, fully tenanted at gross yields after costs and local property taxes of 15% to 16%. There is no intermediation, no fund, the investor, whether private or a pension fund, holds the assets directly. When you net out taxes under the DTA, the return is double the after tax return in Ireland and the scope for capital uplift higher and quicker because the market is not subject to artificial distortion. As the housing recovery gathers momentum this window will close in the US market which we can reasonably say has hit a genuine bottom and clear out unlike the artificial situation here because of extend and pretend policies.”

Hobbs company made €1,200,000 gains in 2014 from taking over home people were forced to leave. When people come to our shores ready to buy for nothing the homes our families, neighbours and workmates are evicted from, we generally have no problem considering them parasites on society. Why would we think this lad any different. 

5 The Twitter *ahem* Fightback.

The day #RebootIreland launched – or at least launched that there might be a lauch at some point, folks on Twitter immediately ripped a hole through the incoherences of what was announced.  People arent stupid. The inevitable right wing lash back began in earnest today with some hilariously daft comebacks. Here’s a selection for a LOL.  Its never cease to amuse me the lack of irony of people of the right on Twitter giving out about people using Twitter. Numbnuts of the highest order.


   Boop

declanganley_status_551441665765171200

_MichaelK

Gill

6. Do spare a thought though for John Leahy.

NiamhPitts_status_551506070238396417

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.