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Archive for the ‘Irish Politics’ Category

Review: No Global by Robert Allen

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NoGNo Global is based on Robert Allen and Tara Jones’s Guests Of The Nation (1990). Essentially it is an account of the various environmental clashes that have taken place in Ireland since the mid-70s when the Irish Government’s policy of attracting multinational corporation into Ireland – in particular in the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector – moved into full swing.  In terms of being a record of these many struggles, No Global is a very useful compendium with a lot of first hand information as well as useful analysis. The author was involved in some of the events he addresses and this adds a particular validity to the account.

This review was published in Red and Black Revolution 8 (Ireland, 2008). The full version maybe read here:

Book details: No Global: The People Of Ireland Versus The Multinationals by By Robert Allen. [ISBN: 0-7453-2210-7] Pluto Press, 2004

Biographical: Captain Jack White (1879-1946)

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JWI saw red; and when I see red I have got to get into the fight. I offered to speak for the strikers in Beresford Place, the open space outside the Transport Union Headquarters, Liberty Hall, and my offer was welcomed. The sands of my gentility had run out. (Debut in Dublin, Misfit, 1930)

Full version here.  First published (July 2001)

Note: A biographical sketch of Captain Jack White.  Picture shows the gravestone of the White family in Broughshane, Co Antrim. Jack White was the son of Sir George Stuart White, the Hero of Ladysmith.  Unlike his father, Jack White was a revolutionary and was a founder member of the Irish Citizen Army along with James Connolly.

Related Links:

Heroes of 2014 – Do You Agree?

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Chomsky is famous for saying that a lot of people don’t know how the world really works and, more to the point, they don’t even know that they don’t know!

Direct action by Elmvale estate residents in Cork blocked Irish Water from installing water meters in their area.

There’s much truth to this claim, but with time other factors can come into play and these may alter the disturbing equation that he has set out.

This year, in Ireland, we saw the beginnings of a serious fight-back against austerity.  It seemed, at one level, to ‘appear’ from nowhere, but did it really?

Austerity, in case you are in any doubt, has been the occasion for a massive transfer in wealth from the bottom half of society to the top echelons.  Money aside, the so-called “1%” has also concentrated an even greater amount of power in its own hands – exemplified by a raft of discarded workplace agreements and unilaterally imposed pay cuts.  Austerity, make no mistake, has been a good to the (already) wealthy!

But it is in the nature of highway robbery that, inevitably, it goes too far… And this year in Ireland a point was reached when a significant number of people said ‘Enough’.  But the saying of ‘Enough’ didn’t just happen either.

Over the past year and more there have been people out there during long periods of endless protesting and agitating who did the work that made the saying of ‘enough’ possible.  Here in Cork I know some of these people from my involvement in the Anti-Household Tax protest.  Togher/ Ballyphenane are one notable group, for example, that were to the fore.  So also were the activists in Cobh, in lower Cork harbour.  In these areas, small groups of anti-austerity activists survived the defeat that was the Anti-Household Tax campaign and kept going.  They were stalwart in their opposition to austerity and it has paid off for us all – so far.

I could name some names and in times those names should be recorded for the sake of honesty and to acknowledge the vital role these activists played in this fight-back; but not just now.

For the moment I just want to point the finger at the people pictured in the photo above.  When Irish Water set about installing their meters in the estates on the edge of Cork city, it was the Togher and Ballyphane Anti-Water Tax group that stood their ground.  They talked to people in the estates like Elmvale (in the south Cork city area) and the result was the action you see pictured here.  Non-violent.  Determined.  Highly effective!

In the accompanying photo we see something captured that simply wasn’t visible for quite some time here in Ireland: it is austerity being held at bay.

The actions at Elmvale, in Lehenaghmore, in Rushbrook (to name just a few estates) produced a number of small but very highly significant victories that others around the country took hope and confidence from.  The real  heroes of Ireland 2014 are the people who stood up in these estates and said NO.

The Ballyphehane/ Togher activists showed that building the resistance takes effort, time and a lot of work.  But they also showed that it is possible to win against austerity. Organise locally, be determined and spread the word.

Eight Photos from Austerity Ireland

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Pensioners mobilise in Cork city against cuts in Medical Cards

[October 2008]


The severed head of Irish Taoiseach,  Brian Cowen.  Grand Parade, Cork City

[November 2009]

Not My Debt – Occupation of Anglo-Irish Bank offices in Cork city

[November 2010]

Gardaí protect the Dáil in Dublin

[November 2011]

IMF Orders – Occupy Protest March in Cork City

[December 2012]

Vita Cortex – Let Them Go Home

[Feb 2012]

Cill Eoin ‘Ghost Estate’ in Kenmare, Co. Kerry

[April 2012]

ICTU “Lift The Burden” March in Cork City

[February 2013]

Anti-Household Tax March in Cork 

[March 2013]

Anti-Water Meter Protest in Elmvale Estate, Cork

[April 2014]

Review of Ailliliú Fionnuala (Camden Palace, Cork)

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Donal O’Kelly after his performance in Ailliliú Fionnuala at Camden Palace, Cork.

I first saw Donal Kelly perform the one-man show Catalpa in the mid-90s. Catalpa is the epic story of six Irish Fenians rescued from prison in Fremantle Prison in Western Australia in the 19th century.  Given that the Catalpa rescue involved transportation across continents, Fenianism, Australia, a sea voyage and a prison break, it hardly seemed possible that it could be encapsulated in a one man show.  Yet Donal O’Kelly managed all of that.  It is no surprise that Catalpa has won many awards and has been performed to acclaim worldwide.

Bat the Father Rabbit The Son was another of O’Kelly’s plays and a character from this – Ambrose Keogh – has now returned as the main figure in Ailliliú Fionnuala.  In the years since Bat The Father… Keogh has prospered and is now working as a PR consultant for Shell Oil.  Employed in Erris (Co Mayo) he is  privy to the underhand activities that Shell is engaging in in its efforts to smother resistance to its grand-scale theft of Ireland’s natural gas resources – located off the Mayo coast.  But unfortunately for Ambrose things start to go wrong.  As Benbo Productions’ synopsis of the plot explains:

When the Tunnel Boring Machine he named Fionnuala sinks into the bog in Erris Co. Mayo, he is magically confronted by Fionnuala of the Children of Lir. Fionnuala puts a geas on him – he’s bound to tell the truth about Shell’s operations, such as the attack on Willie Corduff in the Shell site at Glengad. During his ordeal, Ambrose meets his primary school classmate, Malachy Downes, an anti-pipeline activist, and echoes from the past resound.

Keogh is forced to confess the details of the sordid and underhand work that is taking place at Erris.  The truth comes out but there is also the element of justice (finally!) being meted out to Keogh and (possibly) Shell Oil.  The repression of the locals and connivance of the Irish State with what is going on in Mayo is explored.  You and I are being robbed and the Irish establishment is in on the deal – sound familiar?

As a work of theatre Ailliliú Fionnuala is powerful and direct.  In part this is due to the personalised nature of the one-man show.  Donal O’Kelly has honed this form well and appears to be quite at home with the multiple characters and streams of dialogue.  His facial expressions, accents and delivery are excellent  and we are very easily drawn into this inventive and strange story of Ambrose Keogh’s reckoning with mythical Fionnuala.

Ailliliú Fionnuala is also a dark story about Ireland and where it is at even now.  Someone on the night I was present mentioned that this play should get the award for the best political play of the year.  Surely it must.  Mind, would there be a lot of competition?

Running at about an hour in length, Ailliliú Fionnuala can only do so much.  There is plenty more no doubt that could and will be said in time about Shell and its activities in Mayo.  Personally I was left wondering again how something like what is happening in Erris can so easily go on under our noses.  The heavy handed police work is one side of this but the other is the enourmous giveaway deal that has been cut for Shell’s enjoyment at all our expenses.

An important and poignant aspect (of this connundrum) that is broached in Ailliliú Fionnuala is quiescence in Irish society.  Keogh’s confrontation with his old school mate turned anti-Shell activist, Malachy Downes, is the occasion for this.  In the years that have passed since they last met Downes has travelled along a different route to Keogh.  He was sent to Letterfract for rebellious behavior at school.  At Letterfract Industrial School he was abused.  Through Downes, Donal O’Kelly acknowledges the mentality prevalent in Irish society that was and is all about ‘letting things be’ or ‘shur isn’t that’s the way things are’. To hear Downe’s story is to be disturbed and reminded of what Ireland was like not so long ago at all.  Ailliliú Fionnuala asks if the same sort of societal mentality is sill hard at work today, once again foiling our interests in favour of the powerful and wealthy?

This show performed at the Camden Place on Friday, May 24th.

Related Links

Next performance:  Thurs 6th June, Pavilion, Dún Laoghaire (with the film The Pipe and a post-show talk.)

Benbo Production

Listen to Donal O Kelly talk on RTE arts show Arena about his show Ailliliú Fionnuala

Letterfract Industrial Schools

Shell2Sea Campaign

March for Choice, Cork: 30 Secs Video and 5 Photos…

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The times are a changing – that much I have to report.  For not a few years I have wished for change to come and to come quickly, but it takes it own course that I’ll admit.

Nevertheless last Saturday’s March for Choice in Cork was proof that change has come in a small though discernible way.  By no mean a big march but nevertheless a march that simply wouldn’t have happened in Cork even a short number of years ago.

One of the outcomes of the Savita Halappanavar tragedy, no doubt. But also a reflection of the fact that many women do not accept the silence around abortion any longer.  Women are now prepared to speak up and speak out; they are also prepared to say that they have had a termination.

At Cork’s March for Choice, speakers such as Ailbhe Smyth and Mary Favier (Doctors For Choice) spoke about the need to move on and remove the 8th Amendment to the Irish constitution – the 8th Amendment in effect bans termination in Ireland in all but very limited and unique circumstances.   But another women also spoke graphically and bravely about her own plight as a victim of rape and about having to travel to the UK for a termination – just a few months ago.  A confession that brought home to those of us present (as ever) that desperate cirucmstances often attend to the matter of choice and abortion.

As I say, a march that just would not have happened on the streets of Cork before.  So 30 secs of video and five photos:

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