Category Archives: government

Young people demand – FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL

Belfast SY Public Meeting on why you should fight for socialism

Thousands of secondary school students awaited A-level and GCSE results anxiously last month. Again it was another record-breaking year for Northern Ireland students who again improved on the previous years results. But even pupils who have achieved top grades will be forced to compete for the miniscule amount of university places on offer. This, and the fact that the education budget faces cuts of 25% this year, leaves tens of thousands of young people in the North without any access to education or a decent job.

By Patrick McGeown, Socialist Youth Lurgan

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SOLIDARITY NEEDED: UCD Students victimised for protesting against Shell and government ministers

 

By Paul Murphy

A member of the Socialist Party, Darren Cogavin, and one other student, Enda Duffy, are due to meet the Vice President for Students at University College Dublin (UCD), Dr. Martin Butler, in the next week. They face punishment for engaging in a peaceful protest against the giant corporation Shell and the Green Party Minister for Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan.

Two protests, organised by the campaign ‘Shell to Sea’, took place on 30 October in UCD, the biggest college in Dublin. They were opposing the giveaway of over 50 billion euro worth of gas for free by the Irish government to Shell, and the building of an unsafe onshore pipeline and refinery by Shell in Rossport, Co. Mayo, on Ireland’s west coast.

The first protest was outside a Shell recruitment fair, highlighting the role of Shell in Mayo and internationally. The second took place outside a lecture theatre where Eamon Ryan was due to speak at a debate. He was confronted by about 50 chanting protestors and he turned on his heels and left.

In the aftermath, the college authorities and some right-wing students tried to paint these as ‘violent protests’, which they were not. Three students have received letters from the college authorities, claiming that the protestors harassed students, intimidated staff and put the safety of others at risk.

One of the students has already met with the authorities and been given a fine of up to 100 euro. The Socialist Party says no student should face any disciplinary action, or have to pay any fine, for engaging in a peaceful protest.

The authorities’ action is clearly an attempt to criminalise protest on campus. Recently, general activity by students in the college has been at a relatively low level, and now the authorities are now attempting to set a precedent of punishing students for protest.

The college authorities can be made to step back, through pressure in the college (the Students’ Union President has supported the students) and from outside, with a campaign of emails and phone call protests.

Please send protest emails to:

Dr. Martin Butler: martin.butler@ucd.ie.
The protest emails should be also sent to

the UCD President president@ucd.ie

and cc’d to: paul@socialistparty.net

Phone calls will have a big impact

Please let the UCD authorities know about your protest by phoning Martin Butler on (01) 716 1280

UCD President, Hugh Brady, can be phoned on (01) 716 1618

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.

Student accommodation crisis

by Declan Brady

There has been an increase of around 20,000 students in full time education in the last seven years.

The problem is that the rhetoric of the education and the minister of Education of making education available to more people and those from low income backgrounds proves to a fallacy in reality. This is obvious at a fundamental level in the greatly inadequate provision of primary education which has headlined the news for the last few years.

The most important thing a student attending college needs is quality, affordable accommodation. The reality is that such accommodation is scarce and the provision of student specific accommodation far below the demand. This means students have to look in the private sector to rent accommodation. This year such accommodation is sparse and expensive as was predicted by the USI before the general election when they called on the government to set up a taskforce to investigate the matter.

The governments inaction cannot be excused as they were made aware of the problem and failed to act. Due to this many students are forced to rent expensive digs and in some cases substandard accommodation. The maximum higher education grant of €3,420 per annum fails to even cover the cost of accommodation for most students.

What is necessary is the provision of quality, affordable accommodation by the state for students that will ensure students are not at the mercy of greedy landlords. To resolve this problem it is necessary that students mobilise and act in a united way to force the government to act. Instead of simply calling on the government to establish task forces, the leadership of USI should be organising students to campaign for decent affordable student accommodation and a living grant.

Heartless and barbaric: The deportation of Great Agbonlohar

By Paul Murphy

Great Agbonlohar and his family’s deportation underlines the barbaric nature of this government’s immigration policy.

Great is a six year old autistic Nigerian child, who has lived with his mother Olivia and twin sister Melissa in Clonakilty, Co. Cork since March 2003. He and Melissa were born in Italy and have never been to Nigeria.

Great AgbonloharAutism is a condition which requires ongoing specialised care and Great will not receive this care in Nigeria and may be victimised and brutalised by some in society. Being sent back to Nigeria has been described as equivalent to a death sentence for him by his mother.

Yet despite this, and despite the appeals of the local community in their support, including 3,000 signatures on a petition, they have been deported. They were flown back to Nigeria on 14 August, where they stayed in a hostel for one night and then were left to their own devices.

The family had launched a series of failed legal challenges against the decision of the previous Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, when Great was diagnosed with autism, trying to get their case reviewed.

Many felt that with Brian Lenihan, former Minister of State for Children, becoming Minister for Justice, that he would be more open to the appeals of the family and the community. However, he clearly wanted to show that he was just as “tough” on immigration as his predecessor. As we have come to expect the Green Party despite its posturing on human rights did nothing to stop this deportation.

Climate change: Socialist international planning needed

From The Socialist (England & Wales)

Organised to raise awareness of climate change, Live Earth is a series of concerts with an estimated worldwide audience of 2 billion people, taking place over seven continents on 7 July.

Among the backers is the multi-millionaire businessman and environmental spokesperson, the former US vice-president, Al Gore. Gore appeared in the Academy Award winning 2006 documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, about the threat of rapid climate change on the environment.

However, this event is unlikely to get to grips with the real causes and solutions to rapid climate change. In particular, how can large corporate sponsors and rich businessmen like Gore seriously challenge the very capitalist system of production that is responsible for destroying the world’s environment?

Undoubtedly at these events the public will be asked to reduce their ‘carbon footprint’ while the big burners of fossil fuels – manufacturing, energy and transport industries will be asked to clean up their act in line with the weak and flawed Kyoto treaty to which the two biggest polluters – the US and China – are not obligated.

In February 2007 the UN-sponsored committee of scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report arguing that stabilising concentrations of greenhouse gases would ‘only’ cost between 0.2% and 3% of global GDP by 2030. US officials immediately claimed that such a target would lead to a global recession.

And there’s the rub. Capitalism means that the interests of the owners and shareholders in transport, energy and wider industry – who do not want any reduction in their profits – come first.

The market

Just two weeks after New Labour issued its draft Climate Change Bill in March, which talked about cutting greenhouse gases, new figures showed how big privately-owned power stations in the UK by switching fuel in 2006 from dearer gas to cheaper coal had contributed to a 1.15% rise in CO2 output.

Under capitalism it’s ‘the market’ which is expected to deliver cuts in emissions. Any capitalist party will only do so at the expense of workers’ jobs in ‘dirty industries’, or by bigger taxes on ordinary people’s energy and transport.

Socialists, on the other hand, will fight climate change with a programme of rational planning of resources, based on public ownership and public good – not private profit – and by the international action of millions of ordinary people seeking to build a planet with a sustainable, socialist future.