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Direct Action For Kids!

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We Did It Together!Introducing a children’s book with a difference!

Their lives are turned upside down when a luxury golf course invades their headland. The worms try to negotiate but their efforts are met with insecticide. Our long, wriggly friends have had enough! They decide to take action… 

A story for children and (ssssssh) adults too.”

What The ‘Rich’ Dream Of …

 

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The Old Head of Kinsale – Privatised!

In 1979, a millionaire property developer purchased the Old Head of Kinsale in Cork, Ireland for the measly sum of just €300,000. His dream was to build a luxury golf course on the headland and in 1997 that dream came true. Soon after, access to the traditional walks and wild coastline at the Old Head was restricted to ‘club members’ only. A popular campaign – Free The Old Head – fought back but the developer had the courts and the gardaí on his side. In effect, the headland was annexed for the exclusive use of a small group of wealthy golfers. Today it costs €30,000 per year for membership at the Old Head Golf Links. Alternatively you can pay Green Fees of around €1000 for the dayThink that wrong? So do we! 

Rebellion!

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We live here too!

 

The Worms That Saved The World was inspired by the campaign to keep access to the Old Head free and open to all. The story is about a community of rebellious earthworms who fight to save their home when a luxury golf course takes over their headland. The worms are in for a tough fight but it turns out that they are made of tough stuff. Worms haven’t been around on this planet for as long as they have with knowing a thing or two!

Solidarity, Direct Action!

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Mutual Aid, Solidarity – It’s Our Best Chance!

Including thirty-five beautiful illustrations by artist Spark Deeley, The Worms That Saved The World celebrates solidarity, direct action and standing up for your rights. It’s a joyous book featuring ‘mutual aid’, collective struggle and guess what? In the end, the worms win! Here is a story for all the young people in your life and it can even be enjoyed by adults too!r

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Get A Copy!

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We did it together!

Now distributed in England, Scotland, Wales and across Europe by AK Press!

In Ireland a list of shops stocking The Worms That Saved The World here.

Normally retailing at €10/£10 

If you need more information, send up an email

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Written by Kevin Doyle

May 24, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Review: Mentioning The War by Kevin Higgins

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higginsKevin Higgins is a poet from Galway and a long-standing contributor to the independent left publication Red Banner Magazine. A former member of the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party), he has played no small part in making the world of writing a more accessible and pleasant place to be in this country – not least for those …

This review first published November 2012 in The Irish Anarchist Review 6 (Ireland).  Full version here and also on Kevin Doyle Blog here

Book details: Mentioning the War: Essays & Reviews 1999-2011  by Kevin Higgins
(ISBN: 978-1-908836-12-0)  Published by Salmon Poetry (April, 2012).

Cover Artwork: © Lisavan | Dreamstime.com

Written by Kevin Doyle

March 31, 2016 at 1:44 pm

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.

“NEIN”/ Cork

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Time to celebrate one of Cork’s best pieces of public art.  “NEIN” is located on battered hoarding on Brian Boru Street, off Patrick’s Quay.  Location is important, it seems to me, as this is a busy traffic junction in Cork City.  it is well used by people coming and going to work.

So?

NEIN is plain and clear.  Very emphatic.  But who is speaking?   The Cork public?  A German government minister?  An Irish Government Minister now speaking in her lingua franca.   Or is it the German people who have issued forth?

And to whom is it directed at?  Me, you?   The Cork public?  A German government minister?  Or is sarcasm directed at Austerity’s poster boy, Enda Kenny?

Anyway … It’s there for a while longer on Brian Boru Street.  When you’re in town have a look …

Written by Kevin Doyle

March 14, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Review of “Mentioning The War: Essays … ” by Kevin Higgins

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Mentioning The War: Essays and Reviews (1999-2011) by Kevin Higgins. (published by Salmon Poetry).

[This review first published in the Irish Anarchist Review No. 6 (Oct 2012).]

­­­Kevin Higgins is a poet from Galway and a long-standing contributor to the independent left publication Red Banner Magazine.  A former member of the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party), he has played no small part in making the world of writing a more accessible and pleasant place to be in this country – not least for those who don’t normally find themselves welcome in the hallowed, middle class halls of Literativille.   His approach is no accident.  Higgins knows that good writing can be found anywhere and is not the preserve of the privileged or the best educated.  But importantly too in terms of writing (and poetry in particular) he is committed to high standards.  ‘Political poetry’ with little poetry in it, and as well as doggerel in general are two of his bêtes noires.

His poetry should be treasured on the left (but it isn’t of course) in particular because we have so few poets who cherish the streets we wander along.   Dave Lordan or Diarmuid O Dalaigh in Cork might appear to fit that role too, but their concerns in the main are with the world outside the left.  Higgins in contrast often looks in at where we are and there is much that is valuable and sobering in what he sees.

His poetry I recommend highly but his essays, collected here by Salmon Poetry, are much more of a mixed bag.  One problem to be pointed out at the outset is that a fair number of his reviews (mostly attributed to The Galway Advertiser) are simply too short to be of much value.  I am all for brevity but with many of these, interesting points are raised only to be left hanging in their entirety at conclusion of said review.  A case in point being that of Lorna Siggins’ Once Upon A Time In The West which is strangely equivocal.  As I said, it would be interesting to know more about Kevin Higgins thinks about the significant yet tragically defeated protest centred on the Corrib gas fields.

When Kevin does have space to elaborate, he is invariably interesting and informative.  He is good at explaining and is always interesting and clear when writing about literature and poetry.  This is a real asset and rarer than you might imagine.  Not surprisingly his way with words is one of his strongest suits.  Generally he is even handed (see his review of Michael D’s last collection of poems) but he can be ruthless too as with his hilarious review of Ruairí Quinn’s Straight Left – A Journey Into Politics.  Such an opus was bound to provoke Kevin Higgin’s ire and it sure does.   Among many fitting observations about the Labour Party’s ultimate clown is the comment that Quinn “as a writer is dull beyond belief”.

Since this collection has been review elsewhere by general left commentators I will focus for the remainder on what anarchists and libertarian socialists might find interesting.  On the positive side Kevin is one of the few socialists who is prepared to face up to the authoritarianism (some call it the Leninist or Stalinist mindset) that is, even now, a significant feature of the serious left, both here and abroad.  This is a big plus for me.  The disaster that befell us all when the idea of socialism became inextricably linked to censorship, the Gulags, show trials, self-criticism sessions and so on and so forth (stand up Lenin, Trotsky and the others), is too easily glossed over by many within the marxist left.  Some don’t see the huge problem even now or imagine it to be some past aberration or some plot by the CIA to denigrate our ultimate goal.  Not Kevin Higgins, I feel.  He knows, as many of us do to our cost (I came across it myself only recently in the Anti-Household Tax Campaign) that the toxic world of authoritarian left politics is still very real and debilitating.

One the negative side, Kevin is just a bit too prone to lampooning the left, in contexts that are often not clear.  Some of this, I am guessing, is scar tissue from his Militant Tendency days, but often the swipes are too easy and undiscerning.  They are to be found here and there in this collection but an example is his observation about a speaker at a left meeting who was ‘earnest but dead-in-the-mouth’.   Of course this could well be true (and who hasn’t been at such meetings?) but the problem is that there’s loads of mundanity in trying to organise even the smallest of protests.  Our resources are almost pitiful when compared against those ranged against us, and I just wonder, in places, where the empathy is for the countless individuals who have been the foot-soldiers of important (and un-newsworthy) protests – against deportations, against the household tax, for choice around pregnancy termination?

Anarchists will find much of interest in this collection but there will be dissatisfaction too.  Like many from within the Marxist tradition, Kevin Higgins shows much insight into the problems of the authoritarian left.  But more searching scrutiny is not developed here.

Written by Kevin Doyle

November 27, 2012 at 9:46 pm

The “Drone Bomber” Arrives To A Warm Welcome From Our Glorious Leaders

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Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

Hamid Mir, Editor with Geo News in Islamabad (Pakistan) recorded that there were 34 drone attacks in the Pakistan region between 2004 -2008.  Between 2008 and March 2009 the  number rose dramatically and there were 46 drone attacks alone in that 15 month period.  [Note, as confirmed in reports below, the number of drone attacks has risen further and sharply under Obama’s first office term.  See in particular this Google Map of the attacks]

Mir points out that there 80 drone attacks during the entire period referred to above.  In all of these attacks 513 people were killed.  Having checked all the records Mir has ascertained that of all these casualties only 14 were actually of alleged terrorists (names confirmed by US Defense Dept Press Releases). The remainder, 499 people, were all civilians.

Hamid Mir investigated 11 individual incidents of drone bombings.  In two of these, he found that two ‘low-level’ Taliban activists had been killed.  In the remaining 9 attacks only civilians were killed.  As he states in the second of the two you tube clips below this is violation Article 3 of the UN Human Rights Charter – among many other violations contrary to the conduct of war.

Today, our glorious leaders, will warmly welcome the Commander In Chief of the US armed forced responsible for these atrocities.

And Hamid Mir on Drone attacks in Pakistan.

Victory for Liberty: Obama not coming to Cork

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Quick take: Obama’s proposed visit to Cork to honour the memory of Frederick Douglass, the former slave and abolitionist,  has been cancelled after it emerged that the conditions and abuse suffered by prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre (currently endorsed by Obama) were in many cases comparable to the horrendous conditions suffered by slaves in the United States.  Unconfirmed reports suggest that Douglass’s  statue – soon to be unveiled in Cork – refused to have anything to do with proceedings if Obama was to attend.

>>>> For those with time, read on >>>>>

It nearly happened and to think that the fine city of Cork actually had four US senators on its side too!  Imagine: four real millionaires were flying the flag for Cork, but Obama’s visit is not to happen afterall.  Heart breaking news, of course, for Cork’s La-Di-Da community and the Lord Mayor but a victory for truth and liberty nonetheless.

Readers will be wondering why the old liar was going to go to Cork in the first place?  Well, it’s an interesting story. Obama’s proposed stop off here had to do with a plan by University College Cork to honour the memory of Frederick Douglass, the  former black slave and abolitionist, who wrote the ground-breaking autobiography Narrative Of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave.  This book, published in 1846, was one of a number at that time to record in words the life and experiences of African slaves in the United States.  As such it played a seminal role in opening up knowledge and condemnation of slavery and what it entailed.  Later in his life, Douglass visited Ireland (and Cork itself) during our Famine and wrote warmly about his experiences and the welcome he received here.  [Not wanting to be ironic but us Irish know quite a lot about slavery and so we all got on famously.]

In remembrance of this connection (and fittingly too) UCC  will, in May, officially launch a human rights lecture series – part of which will entail the unveiling of a statue on campus in honour of Frederick Douglass.   Hence the Obama visit connection.  Apparently Obama credits Douglass as a inspirational figure in his own life – for his moral stand, courage and outspokenness [yes Barack you sure could learn a lot from Frederick alright].  But also, of course, Obama likes to place himself beside Douglass and his important position as an African American who escaped slavery and fought for liberty.

So Cork, Obama, Douglass – it was on the cards, it seems.

However then things started to go askew.  Good old fashioned nervousness entered the fray and following close scrutiny of the record books, distressing parallels between what Douglas fought against AND what Obama is standing up for, emerged.

If you read Douglass’s main work, the above named book, and you examine what he records, then one thing becomes very clear: Douglass had a huge and uncompromising committment to human liberty.  Douglass too, of course, knew what he was taking about.  He had been a slave and he had witnessed the lives of slaves.  Douglass saw the ugliness of servitude first hand.   Take this passage from Narrative …  (By the way Douglass’s account is scattered with accounts like this below.  In Narrative …. he paints a violent picture of the abuses and random violence that slaves were subjected to on a whim.)  Here is one:

“I used to be in Mrs Hamilton’s house nearly everyday.  Mrs Hamilton used to sit in a large chair in the middle of the room, with a heavy cowskin always by her side, and scarce an  hour passed during the day but was marked by the blood of one of these slaves.  The girls seldom passed by her without her saying ‘Move faster, you black gip’ at the same time giving them a blow with the cowskin over the head or shoulders, often drawing the blood.”  (p 80  Penguin Classic edition.)

Now take a look at something that Obama has recently stood over with his Administration’s defence of the prosecutions/ information gleaned from interrogations carried out at Guantanamo Bay.  I picked this at random: an account of the circumstance of Martin Mubanga incarceration there.

“Martin Mubanga‘s … hands were shackled in rigid, metal cuffs attached to a body belt; another set of chains ran to his ankles, severely restricting his ability to move his legs. Trussed in this fashion, he was lying on the interrogation booth floor. The seemingly interminable questioning had already lasted for hours. ‘I needed the toilet,’ Mubanga said, ‘and I asked the interrogator to let me go. But he just said, “you’ll go when I say so”. I told him he had five minutes to get me to the toilet or I was going to go on the floor. He left the room … I squirmed across the floor and did it in the corner, trying to minimise the mess. I suppose he was watching through a one-way mirror or the CCTV camera. He comes back with a mop and dips it in the pool of urine. Then he starts covering me with my own waste, like he’s using a big paintbrush, working methodically, beginning with my feet and ankles and working his way up my legs. All the while he’s racially abusing me, cussing me: “Oh, the poor little negro, the poor little nigger.” He seemed to think it was funny.’ (From How I entered the hellish world of Guantanamo Bay.  See more about Martin Mubanga’s story here.)

Parallels, right?  But the thing is – and initially this got lost in the heat – Douglass was against these abuses.  Against.   Whereas Obama, now he is for them.  He has defended and kept open the atrocious Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre despite his election promise and plenty of other guff about human rights and so on.

So something was wrong , right?  Actually it got worse.  Incredibly.  When I was looking into the Obama thingy and his coming to Cork, I also discovered: apparently, as a youth Frederick Douglass was enslaved on a plantation on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, called Mount Misery.  This aptly named place was then owned by Edward Covey, a notorious “slave breaker.”  It was, reports say, a place where brutality and beatings were very common.  Now guess who owns some of that the Mount Misery property today?  No, it’s not Obama.  It’s Donald Rumsfeld.  Yes, the former Secretary of Defense (key architect of the U.S. military’s program of torture carried forth at Gitmo) now actually owns part of the Mount Misery estate.

No wonder then that the statue/ memorial to Douglass (soon to be unveiled here in Cork) stared to behave strangely – making noises and shaking and so on, and so forth.  Sheer indignation and anger at the hypocrisy and downright slight to the great exponent of liberty was the cause.  So no Obama for Cork, afterall, but a small if not unimportant victory for truth and liberty all the same.

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