Monthly Archives: August 2012

Flowers, sandblasting, Burma, Bahrain and Colombia – Day 2 Global Solidarity Summer School 2012

Day 2 started on a much more somber note than out introduction. I had heard about Bahrain in the context of the Arab sprin
last year but have been ignorant of its events since then. Tara o Grady from Bravo (Bahrain rehabilitation anti violence organisation ) gave a heartfelt appeal to our conscience.  Bahrain is a country not too dissimilar to Ireland, except of course for no freedom of expression or association.  The horror stories of what has happened to people protesting the Bahrain regime were sobering.  In the weeks after the much publicised pussy riot court case and their 2 year sentence in Russia for singing an anti state song in a cathedral it
was interesting to hear the story of Ayat Al Qurmuzi who received 1 year for reading a poem against the king. There are Irish businesses in Bahrain and people over here have a chance to let our opposition to brutality be known.

We then went to our respective workshops on Colombia, Burma, Palestine and the clean clothes campaign.  All worthy of their own stories and all appalling to hear about.  The depressing tale of children in Ethiopia who need to fill 18 boxes of flowers before being allowed home from a days work, the morbid story of the settlements and the displacement of people in Palestine, the trials of the Burmese people and the danger facing trade unionists in Colombia were all shared.

We didn’t end on such a negative note and we all set off uplifted in the knowledge that we can all play a small part, be that encouraging action in our unions (stories aplenty of solidarity committees and their achievements in PSEU, IMPACT, UNISON, NIPSA, INTO and SIPTU and the vast sums that have been passed on in solidarity) or even writing a damn letter.  If you feel that the world is perfect then maybe reflect on those well off, if you don,t feel it’s perfect let’s change it eh?


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Ireland’s Oddest Pop Stars Pt1

Michael Landers

I was delighted to see a mention of Michael Landers on the excellent BrandNewRetro site. They have some really great scans of early Irish pop music magazines like Heat and Spotlight. It is always well worth a visit.

In 1971 a new face appeared in the Irish pop charts. He took to the road to bring his youthful stage-presence to the people of Ireland. His first (and only) chat song climbed all the way to number 11. It spent five weeks on the charts. That was appropriate because he was five years old! Michael was the youngest of six children from Kilcullen, county Kildare and according to court records had been performing from the age of three.

His chart song “If I could be a sailor man” featured “Mr Taxman” on the B-side. What taxes young Michael must have had on his mind are anyone’s guess. Hopefully not taxes on the old age pension!

One of his career highlights was a gig at Dublin’s National Stadium in September 1971 where he appeared on the bill with Slim Whitman.

 Part of an ad for a Michael Landers gig in Ballinamore, county Leitrim in Feb 1972.(Note the name Christy Moore on the  bill as well as the fantastic news that the hall was specially heated. That makes me wonder how cold a lot of the ballrooms of Ireland were in the early seventies!

Landers released another two singles on the Ruby label, neither of which charted. Yet the reason his short career was cut short was because of laws preventing children from touring the ballrooms of Ireland. Enter Fine Gael TD Oliver J Flanagan who was well known for his very hostile attitude to certain groups in Irish society. Oliver J expressed outrage about young Michael.

In an extraordinary court case the boy’s father argued that parts of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act was inconsistent with the Irish Constitution.

The Irish Government kept quite a few of the laws they had inherited from the British. One of these was the pre-Independence Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act (1904). This was designed to protect the exploitation of children by making them work in unsuitable conditions. When young Michael went on tour tickets were sold and a few people raised objections. According to court statements in nine months his appearances had earned £2,000. £800 was put away from him, while his career cost £1,200.

The Irish Attorney General refused to rule the Cruelty Act as unconstitutional. He even told the young lad that he was free to perform…just not within the 9 pm – 6 am period outlawed by the act. He also told him that once he reached double digits, age 10, he could become a professional singer with minor restrictions!

He was never heard of again.

Here the question that we can think about arising from this case?

Should we have restrictions on how many hours children can work?

What should those hours be?

And at what age should children be able to work full time?




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Global Solidarity Summer School – day 1

“Knowledge is power and I’m looking forward to bathing in know,edge and spreading it after the weekend” is how ICTU President Eugene McGlone ended his welcome address today at the 4th annual Global solidarity summer school in Wexford.

Eugene’s words came after Minister of State Joe Costello opened the summer school with words about his area of responsibility for trade and development at the department of foreign affairs.  The minister is putting the finishing touches to a white paper for Irish aid which is a result of extensive consultations with civil society in Ireland. Minister Costello spoke about how he intends there to be a summer school for Irish aid in the future. He also spoke on how the trade union movement has a role in bonding society together.  This was a common theme through the afternoon as delegates were poised with the question of how do we make the union movement relevant. One way is through participation in society as a whole and be active in campaigns, campaigns like the one that will replace the millennium development goals which are up in 2015. As Ireland takes on the eu presidency for the first half of 2013 this small country could have influence on what will replace these goals.
The global solidarity summer school had approx 80 people all trying to find ways that they can help make a difference. These people are a starting point, a chance to go back to the wider trade union movement in general and Force change upon it.  Discussions took place around Colombia where one of the Colombian delegation that travelled with an international group this year has been missing since April. There was also talk about Palestine where jack o conor from siptu is on the record as saying “what’s happening in Palestine is the greatest crime to humanity over the past hundred years”.
Roland Munck from dcu posed the question to delegates “what is global solidarity “. Is it just stopping the race to the bottom? is it about decent work for all? is it stopping forced child labour?  Or is it more?  He suggested we can’t look at one country in isolation and that globalisation is not only about capitalism spreading its wings it can be about organised labour too.  It made for a good debate and the question is there more to global solidarity or is it just good to have friends is one that will provoke reaction from all involved in trade union activism. Judith kirton-darling spoke of solidarity being a two way process, where workers in Latin America support their European colleagues in the battle against Austerity
The range of speakers was really impressive, visitors from the TUC in Britain and the wider trade union movement were in attendance.  Judith, as mentioned above, is a member of the ETUC and Jeffrey Vogt was over from the ITUC. There was talk of the Cuban 5 and how Irish trade unions could work with sister unions in the us to get these people freed and allowed to see their families. The diversity of opinion from the floor meant that we could have been talking al night about the inequalities of the world but one thing was for sure the people in attendance on this wet Friday afternoon want to try and engage with the wider trade union movement and society as a whole to see if we can really make this a better and fairer world for all.


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Bands that changed a life – New model army


New model army

It’s almost impossible when thinking or reminiscing about the modellers not to look back on their top of the pops appearance.  Lead singer slade the leveller appeared dressed fashionably in his “only stupid b#####ds use heroin” t-shirt. Confrontational anarcho punks conflict then amended this slogan to proclaim that “only stupid b#####ds sign to emi” and the war was on.

My introduction to nma was way before their emi days. They were on abstract records and had just released their debut 7″, the price.  I read the review in sounds and added them to my list of bands to check out when I next travelled across the water to probe records in Liverpool. A year later I got the never mind the jacksons here the Pollocks album of which they had a song, small town England. This prompted me to actively seek out their vengeance lp and I wasn’t disappointed. vengeance was a regular on my turntable in the mid 80’s. There was an intelligent anger about the band and a sound which was infectious  to me.  Heavy bass lines and incredible drumming led a rhythmic rabble that I couldn’t get enough of. Then I heard they were coming to ireland to play in the tv club, to say I was excited was an understatement.  In a way it became my introduction to putting on gigs yourself as I was felt the admission was expensive, £5 for a poor student was the bulk of my weekly spend. I wrote to the band, I interviewed them for my fanzine and asked directly why it was so dear to see them play. Of course the answer I got back was a reasonable one about costs associated with a gig and all that goes into it, promoters, agents, publicists, all those working on the gig need to get paid.  I felt it was too much and resolved to do my own thing – that eventually morphed into hope promotions and I stepped out of that world of the music industry. 


Nma continued with it and I did follow their progress with interest. Myself and the wild hearted outsider went to see them a few times, travelling to London, Liverpool and other places and meeting the loyal crew that made a modellers gig unique. Clogs, hands in the air at coordinated times and a camaraderie rarely equalled at a music event. This is a special band. 

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Not only boxing at the Stadium

When Rock n Roll came to Ireland! The National Stadium was there!
This is a great one. Front page of the Irish Press, November 19th 1956. It is one of the first, probably the first, rock n roll gig in Southern Ireland. I like the description of the crowd response: “The performances were punctuated by hand-clapping, cheering, whistling and a few boos. Occasionally enthusiasts rose to their feet to demonstrate physically the effects of the music on them.”
Irish Press Monday, November 19, 1956 Page: 1
It is funny to think how many outstanding artists performed at the National Stadium. It was built for boxing, yet from the start it was used as a music venue. Another early gig was by Louis Armstrong in May 1956. In fact he played two sets that day. A matinee gig was added although the reviews suggested it was only half full. Either way it is proof that by the late 1950s jazz had a fairly decent audience in Dublin. His film appearances certainly helped make him a recognisable figure in that era.
wild hearted outsider

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The Olympic Bounce

Lots of the acts featured on the wondrous Olympic opening ceremony have enjoyed huge sales increases this week.
Maybe that is the solution to the decline in music sales…hold the Olympics every week!
65 songs from the top 200 were featured in either the Olympics opening or closing ceremonies. It certainly proves that Mega Events can stimulate sales!
 wild hearted outsider

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Topping the charts is getting easier

Rihanna: Dismal sales take her to the top of the charts.
Quite a few stories this week about how few copies Rihanna shifted of her new album. Yes it got to number 1. The problem is that it sold the fewest copies any number 1 has sold in a single week since accurate records were kept. It sold fewer than 10,000 copies. I’m including a few links to news articles about this.
Interesting from an Irish point of view is that before Rihanna the lowest sales for a number one album were the Cranberries.
According to reports Rihanna plunged to number 8 this week.
This article goes into a deeper analysis of the current state of the industry. Very interesting reading.
the wildhearted outsider

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