Category Archives: energy

Oil spill shows hazards of the profit system

It is still difficult to assess the scale of the disaster that followed the explosion on the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on 22 April, which killed eleven workers. BP claims that ‘only’ 210,000 gallons a day of crude oil have been released so far, but others calculate the figure could be as high as 4.2 million gallons a day.

By Pete Dickenson
Continue reading


Shell gets our gas for free – Protestors get Garda brutality!

By Danny Byrne

On 9 November, over 300 protestors gathered at Shell’s proposed refinery site at Bellanaboy, North Mayo.

The protest brought together the local community, whose health and livelihoods are under attack by the profit-maximising onshore gas pipeline and refinery planned for their area, with protestors from around the country. Many came to fight the government’s criminal giveaway of up to ?600 billion worth of natural resources for free, to satisfy the greed of multinational oil companies, with no benefit to ordinary people.

Protestors were greeted with the now familiar spectacle of at least 300 Gardai who as per usual displayed serious brutality: punching, kicking, choking and throwing protestors into ditches. One protestor narrowly escaped life-threatening injury when a lorry carrying huge boulders was forced through a crowd of protestors, running over his foot causing serious damage. The blatant disregard of Gardai for the well-being of protestors underlines the fact that to the state, Shell’s profits come before the health, safety and wellbeing of local residents, warranting the provision of a virtual army of Gardai as a private security force for Shell.

Protestors successfully slowed down work on the life-threatening refinery on numerous occasions, at one stage holding a lorry up for over an hour, showing the potential that mass action could have in the future. Further days of solidarity are likely to be called in the near future. All who wish to support a besieged community against a multi-national corporation and their hired goons, and who oppose the theft of Ireland’s natural resources should travel up and show their support. Only through mass action by ordinary people from across the country can Shell be stopped.

Rossport: Protest brutally suppressed. Again.

From The Socialist

More than 150 protesters from the Mayo area and around the country gathered at Shell’s gas refinery at Bellanaboy on Friday 12 October. They were met with a massive and brutal Garda presence, backed up by the Public Order Unit.

Some fencing that Shell has laid down in preparation for the building of the unsafe onshore pipeline was ripped up and given back to Shell, marked “return to sender”. However, unfortunately, the large presence of Gardai meant that there was an insufficient number of protestors to seriously impede Shell’s work for the day. They made a conscious policy of attempting to break people’s thumbs, pulling people’s hair and even throwing one protestor’s shoe in the river.

The Socialist spoke to Dominic Hewson, a member of UL Socialist Youth who was attending his first protest in Rossport about his experiences at the protest:

“I thought the protest was quite encouraging, especially the local participation, it was a lot more than I’d expected. I thought the excessive force used by the Gardai was far out of context with what was necessary. It didn’t seem that they were there to mediate or to enforce the law, instead they were there as a private Shell force.”

Meanwhile, with Eamon Ryan in position as Minister for Energy, the giveaway of gas and resources off the Irish coast continues. The Department of Energy’s own analysis suggests there could be $600 billion worth of crude oil or gas off the west coast. Yet despite this, Ryan is proposing to continue the giveaway to private companies like Shell and Statoil.

The next day of action at Bellanaboy is scheduled for Friday 9 November. Buses will be traveling from around the country. To book your place, contact Paul on 086 1688050.

Shell to Sea – Rossport Solidarity Camp evicted

by Paul Murphy

After over eighteen months as an important base for activists supporting the local community in opposing Shell, the Rossport Solidarity Camp has been ordered to dismantle by 1 January.

The bitter irony of their eviction is that the judge ruled that the camp should be dismantled because it didn’t have planning permission and had the potential to damage a special area of conservation. This while Shell builds a huge gas refinery that will pump pollution out of tall chimneys just down the road and a high pressure gas pipeline that has the potential to explode!

 The difference is clear – the state has consistently backed up Shell, giving it €51 billion of our gas for free, while ordering and defending Garda brutality against peaceful protestors. This eviction is undoubtedly encouraged by Shell who have been surveying the estuary that runs right alongside the camp in preparation for laying the controversial pipeline.

Although Shell and the state now seem to think that they can deal the final blows to the campaign, the mass sitdown protest at the gates of the refinery on 14 September offers an opportunity to prove them wrong. A good turnout locally and nationally would demonstrate the continuing support for the campaign. Achieving even a relatively minor success, like causing serious disruption to Shell’s work for the day, will be crucial in helping to re-energise the campaign.

The G8 means war, poverty and environmental destruction


Socialist Youth leaflet – Available as PDF here.

G8 Hypocrisy

G8AID: Of the $60 billion that was pledged for third world countries at the recent G8 summit only $3billion was new money pledged – These are the same leaders that spend $1 trillion annually on the arms trade.

ENVIRONMENT: Despite the continuing destruction of our environment, the G8 said that they would only ‘consider’ reducing carbon emissions.

FAIR TRADE: African goods still face enormous tariffs when they try to export goods to places like Europe and America.

WAR ON IRAQ: Bush and Blair have spent billions on the war in Iraq that has resulted in the death of over 650,000 Iraqis and has forced millions to flee their homes.

G8 and capitalism mean:

GLOBAL INEQUALITY: 1 billion people worldwide have no access to clean water while the super rich buy designer deodorants worth $30,000 a pop!

AIDS EPIDEMIC: In some parts of Africa one third of young adults will die of the aids epidemic, major pharmaceutical companies have blocked the production of cheap generic drugs to combat aids which would reduce their cost from $10,000 to $150.

“FREE TRADE”: In 2003 $4 billion was given to 28,000 big US cotton farmers – This is more than the GDP of the African country Burkino Faso which has 2 million cotton farmers

ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION: The G8 leaders have failed to achieve the limited targets for cuts in carbon emissions set out by the Kyoto Treaty. One scientist has claimed it would take the equivalent of 30 Kyotos to deal with global warming!

Kevin Carter, a white South African photographer, won a Pulitzer Prize for this photo of a vulture stalking a sudanese baby during the famine. No one knows what happened the child as Carter left the place as soon as the photo was taken. Three months later, Carter committed suicide. Is any more evidence needed as to the brutal reality of capitalism?

Kevin Carter, a white South African photographer, won a Pulitzer Prize for this photo of a vulture stalking a sudanese baby during the famine. No one knows what happened the child as Carter left the place as soon as the photo was taken. Three months later, Carter committed suicide. Is any more evidence needed as to the brutal reality of capitalism?

The G8 is a club made up of the most powerful capitalist countries worldwide. Under the pressure of ordinary working and young people its leaders were forced two years ago to give commitments to resolve the desperate poverty facing Africa. 250,000 marched in Edinburgh under the slogan ‘Make Poverty History’.

However, the above facts speak for themselves. Even Bob Geldof and Bono were forced to describe the recent G8 summit in Rostock in Germany as a ‘total farce’. They have no intention of resolving the desperate problems of poverty and environmental destruction faced by the majority of the world’s population. The 80,000 people who came to protest against the G8 this time did so to oppose not only their policies but their lies and broken promises as well.

Why won’t the G8 ‘make poverty history’?

Today the top 500 companies gloablly control 70-80% of world trade. These are privately owned and controlled by those who enrich themselves with vast profits at the expense of the needs workers and poor people internationally. This capitalist system leads to war, horrific poverty and is threatening the very existence of humanity itself. G8 leaders like Bush, Blair and Putin are only interested in helping these companies exploit the resources of the‘third world’ as opposed to helping the people who live there. It is this reason and not simply because of a lack of‘political will’(as Bono and Geldof would have us believe) that explains the inaction of the G8 on issues like third world debt, fair trade and aid.

What is the socialist alternative to the capitalist profit system?

Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party participated in the recent protests against the recent G8 summit in Rostock. We reject the that idea celebrities like Bono and Geldof have put forward in the past that the G8 can be used as a force for good.

Workers and young people should be organised internationally in a movement that can oppose the attacks on their living standards and fight for a democratic socialist society. Such a society would bring into democratic public ownership and control the 500 companies that control the world economy.

On this basis it would be possible to prioritise the needs of people and end global inequality through democratic socialist planning of the economy. If you agree with our ideas then join Socialist Youth today.

As the Green Party sell out, how can our environment be saved?

By Cillian Gillespie

US military to remain in Shannon warport, M3 motorway to go ahead, corporate donations to remain… it would appear that Green Party TDs would have sold their own grandmothers in order to get a seat at the Cabinet table! After the sell out of the Greens many workers and young people will wonder how can the destruction of our environment can be halted.

Whatever happens within the lifetime of this government we can be certain of one thing it won’t do – take decisive action to reduce carbon emissions and cut across global warming. In the past 15 years Ireland’s carbon emissions have grown by almost 25% while transport emissions have increased by a massive 140%. This increase will have enormous consequences for future generations living in Ireland. According to one report issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, global warming will result in Limerick being permanently flooded within our lifetime.

In the past the Greens have sought to imply that society as a whole is a collectively responsible for global warming. Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party reject this viewpoint and lay the blame for the destruction of our planet firmly at the door of big business. The bosses are the people whose short term drive for profit, regardless of the consequences, has led to a dramatic increase in carbon emissions. They are the ones who produce 85% of waste in this country. The waste that the rest of us produce comes from the lack of recycling facilities and the unnecessary packaging we receive through goods we buy.

Despite the massive resources at their disposal, their friends in successive governments have failed to invest in a properly funded public transport system as an alternative to the use of cars. Nor have they sought to put the money into renewable energy as a step towards phasing out the use of fossil fuels.

The business and political establishment in Ireland have failed to confront the potential catastrophe that will result from our environment’s destruction. Experience will show that this will not be done by making cosy deals with Fianna Fail to suit the careers of a few. This is why Socialist Youth will be posing the need for an alternative to the parties of big business. We will fight for a socialist society where the future of our planet is put before the profits of a small wealthy minority.

Real action needed to stop climate change

By Cian Prendiville

Over the last few weeks and months, a lot of politicians have come out and paid lip service to need to stop climate change, and with the election approaching it will probably continue. But will they act?

Just a glance at the government and opposition track records gives us a hint. Between 1990 and 2004 Fianna Fail, the PDs, Fine Gael and Labour have all been in government and pledged to limit C02 emissions. In fact, they increased by a whopping 23%.

Promises and action are two different things. Only immediate action will halt climate change, not hot air. This vital action will, however, cut into the profits of big business – the same companies which fund the main parties’ election campaigns.

For instance enforcing C02 cuts on the main polluters (factories and big business) would require them to accept lower profits for the sake of the world – something which makes no sense when profit maximisation is king.

Similarly massive investment in public transport and renewable energy that could have a huge impact in reducing emissions will not make sense to the establishment parties, which are all about reducing public spending. What is more likely is that they will continue to starve public transport and the ESB of the necessary funding.

What is needed is a genuine opposition, not just in the Dail, but on the streets. With a recent EPA report saying my home city of Limerick will be permanently flooded in my lifetime, along with other towns and cities around the country, this gets more vital every day.

How can climate change be stopped? Socialist Youth believes a global plan of action is needed to put the needs of people and the planet before the profits of the super rich elite. This will mean taking on the oil multinationals. Energy production and public transport must be rationally and democratically owned, controlled and planned by ordinary working class people not by the market and big business.

This obviously requires taking on capitalism and the rule of profit inherent in it. As James Connolly said: “We are moderate – we only want the earth!”, maybe “we only want the earth to survive” would be an appropriate add-on today.