Monthly Archives: March 2016

This weeks news March 11

mountaintoseaDun Laoire Mountain to Sea festival

During Greece’s recent turbulent times te best source of unbiased news came from Channel 4 news and specifically Paul mason.  It is great to see Paul coming over to Ireland and being part of the Dun Laoire Mountian to Sea Festival – here’s what they have to say about it
“David Aaronovitch and Paul Mason are among the UK’s most incisive political journalists. They are also veteran leftist activists and in their new books they explore what socialism once was and what it may yet become in the new age of global markets and digital innovation.

In Party Animals, a memoir of early life among communists, Aaronovitch traces his memories of belief and action and the fate that lay in store for these ever hopeful, defiant and historically doomed people? He found himself studying the old secret service files, uncovering the unspoken shame and fears surrounding his own existence as a party animal and only then beginning to understand what had come before, both the obstinate heroism and the monstrous cowardice.

In Postcapitalism, Paul Mason asks whether today we are on the brink of a change so profound, that capitalism, the immensely complex system by which entire societies function, has reached its limits and is changing into something wholly new. At the heart of this change is information technology: a revolution that has the potential to destroy an economy based on markets and private ownership and to usher in a new kind socialism for our turbulent times.

Join Hugh Linehan, Culture Editor at The Irish Times for a wide ranging discussion with both authors.”

Upcoming Events
March 11 – IN Conversation with David Aaronovitch and Paul Mason, Pavillion Theatre – 6.30


March 11 – State Faces of March with Beach + Slow Motion + Heroes + Tuath, Whelans Late

March 12 – The Flex + Obstruct + Strong Boys + New Gods, Tenterhooks

March 12 – Wizards Of Firetop Mountain + the objectorZ + Slouch & Nervvs, Sweeneys Bar

March 13 – Cradle of Filth, The Academy

March 15 – Holy Wave + The Urges + This Other Kingdom, Grand Social

March 18 – The Mariannes, Workmans Club

March 19 – International Day Against Racism – Anti War Zone, an anti war cultural night – Joyce and the sonic gypsies + Evelyn Campbell + Sisterix, Workmans Club

March 22 – Battles, Button factory

March 23 – Benefir for Peter McVerry Trust – Grassroots project + Oisin Furlong + Joey Gavin, Whelans

March 24 – Skinny Living, Whelans

March 24 – Eileen Gogan and The Instructions, Grand Social

March 26 – At The Drive In +Le Butcherettes, Vicar Street

March 26 – Blood or Whiskey + trouble pilgrims, Workmans Club

March 27 – The Ramonas + The Craic, Fibber Magees

March 27 – Jeff Rosenstock + Great Cynics + Chewing on Tinfoli + Empty Lungs, Whelans


March 31 – Protomartyr, The Workmans Club

March 31 – Riot Tapes + Chris Haze, Whelans

April 1 – Freedom doesn’t fall from the sky, Theo Dorgan + Lynched + Liam Ó Maonlaí + Declan O’ Rourke + Niall & Caoimhín Vallely + Karan Casey + Aoife Ní Bhriain + Kate Ellis + Cora Venus Lunny + Lisa Dowdall + Louis De Paor + Mick O’ Brien + Aoife Scott , Liberty Hall

April 2 – Peter Hook and the Light perform New Order’s Low-Life and Brotherhood, with
opening Joy Division Set, The Academy

April 2 – The Meatboides, The Workmans Club

April 2 – The Winter Passing + Stairwells + Over being UNder + January, Tenterhooks

April 2 – Colonel Mustard + The Shades + Mannequin Sex Drive, Wehlans

April 5 – ExMagician, Whekans

April 8 – THE Defects + SFU +The Nils + Spaz Attack, One The Rox

April 8- Toby Kaar, The Workmans Club

April 8 – Reverberation Festival featuring The Cosmic Dead + Twinkranes + Woven Skull + Wild Rocket + I Heart The Monster Hero, Grand Social

April 9 – Reverberation Festival featuring The Cult Of Dom Keller + The Black Tambourines + Beach + Fabric + Sun Mahshene

April 9 – Overhead, The Albatross, Workmans Club

April 13 – Giant Sand + Jason Lytle, Whelans

April 14 – Lynched, Traditional Music Archive

April 15 – Rews, Whelans

April 15 – September Girls + Fierce Mild + Spines, Whelans

April 17 – Basia Bulat, The Workmans Club

April 18 – Mission of Burma + Opium Rooms, Whelans

April 19 – Flamin Groovies + Female Hercules, Whelans

April 19 – Kimya Dawson + Little Wings, Workmans Club

April 21 – King Khan and BBQ Show, Workmans Club

April 23 – Red Alert + Takers and Users, the Kluster fux + Suckin’ Diesel, On The Rox

April 23 – Slow Readers Club, Workmans Club

April 24 – Ought + Fierce Mils, Whelans

April 27 – The Gories, Whelans

April 28 – Lake Street Dive, Whelans

April 29 – Hookworms, Whelans

April 30 – Dublin Ska Festival , The Grand Social

April 30 – frau + Sissy, Tenterhooks

April 30 – Duncan Reid and the Big heads + the Lee harveys + The Divils + Steven VX

April 30 – Shonen Knife, Whelans

April 30 – Jeffrey Lews and Los Bolts, Whelans

May 1 – Grant Lee Phillips, Whelans

May 2 – Ryley Walker, Whelans

May 7 – frank and Walters, Whelans

May 8 – Long Ryders, Whelans

May 13 – Pretty Beast, Grand Social

May 13 – The Mighty Stef, Button Factory
May 16 – Day Wave, The Workmans Club

May 21 – God Is an Astronaut, Whelans

May 28 – Robert Forster, Whelans

May 29 – High Cornwell, Whelans

May 27 – Bollock Brothers + Hooligan – On the rox

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Chasing The Scream

Chasing The Scream

Johann Hari

Bloomsbury Press


As a starting point to this review I have one question.  According to the lancet, What is the most harmful drug?
Coincidentally shortly in the week where two people were shot and murdered in separate instances on Dublin’s streets I started reading ‘Chasing the scream’, courtesy of El presidente. Ironically enough this book was given to me as a present by one of the very few adults I know that doesn’t drink alcohol, smoke or take drugs. When I look in the mirror I see another one. I have never participated and found it ironic ( and still do to a certain extent) that I know people who wish to “smash the system” and will boycott nestle or other companies over dubious business practices but seem to think it’s ok to assist in the profits of alcohol companies or drug lords. Just because I don’t take them though doesn’t mean I can’t see the merit in decriminalisation and the case is made constantly throughout these pages. Just as people who drink alcohol have a 90% chance of becoming alcoholic the figures are similar for drug users. Imagine how different the world would look like if the money was taken from fighting drug crime to treatment centres and awareness
This weeks killings in Dublin were acted out in open spaces with many people acting as bystanders, dragged into events by virtue of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”. The perpetrators and victims, if media are to be believed, were involved or linked by blood relation to Dublins criminal underworld. Much of this underworld are involved in the sale and distribution of drugs.
And that’s where Chasing the scream comes in. It charts the beginning of the drug war and how just over a century ago department stores were selling heroin nets. We begin with three individuals born into a time when the war on drugs had not yet started but was about to play a huge part in their lives
Harry Anslinger was an FBI agent assigned to what was become the war on drugs. Whether it was a war on drugs or on minorities using them is up to question as much of Anslingers language would not be tolerated today
Billie holidays story is a real tale of wrong place wrong te. Orphaned and destitute
Of course every war has victims. Victims of circumstances and in some cases geography. Soldiers don’t always have a historical reason or a sense of belonging. Sometimes they just fall into it. Chino is one. Destined for a life of destitution, it seems that Chino was always going to end on the streets in a spiral of drug abuse and violence. The war on drugs creates many casualties and drug dealers in many instances are casualties “..exploded and discarded shells, left behind on a global battlefield”. People in their radar can be casualties but the majority of violence isn’t around the action of taking drugs, it’s around the fight for power. Hari explains that in great detail and looking at the recent killings in Dublin only copper fastens that. A fight over territory so that more money can be made. He also speaks to people on all sides, including  those responsible for enforcing the law, however it is noticeable that increasing arrests haven’t led to decreasing number of drug deals
There are other victims written about here. New York, Mexico, Texas. All places with people struggling through life and somehow with a vision for a better world, a world that if it arrives is only temporary. Take Mexico and its 70,000 dead (that’s SEVENTY THOUSAND PEOPLE murdered in a country). What hope is there?  We need hope but with the drug war continuing it is hard to find it.
There is a fascinating chapter on the people who fall into addiction. There is a a theory that says addiction is not about usage it’s more akin to easing pain. The 10% of drug users who become addicts do so for a reason and maybe it’s not down to repetitive use.  Why do addicts keep doing it? we are asked  “because it makes them feel good, and the rest of their life doesn’t make them feel good”. Hari asks why isn’t more time spent looking at the people and their environment rather than biochemistry and the brain. Of course it is a valid point even if you’re sceptical of the underlying reasons. The way we view addicts is another aspect for consideration if someone is being treated for alcohol addiction there is almost sympathy, how different is that viewpoint for a drug addict. Portugese authorities are starting to view their addicts with sympathy. As drug use is no longer criminalised on lisbons streets there is a feeling “we all want to protect our children from drugs, we all want to keep people dying as a result of drug use. We all want to reduce addiction. And the evidence suggests that when we move beyond the drug war, we will be able to achieve these goals with shared success.
Another interesting aspect and a potential solution to assisting addicts and society at large is the idea of a social recovery. We are all in a rush to be consumers. Working more and buying more. This is have devastating effects on our environment but yet we continue. Why not pursue this? Cities like Licerpool, Vancouver and Geneva have all, to varying effects, set up injection clinics where heroin is provided in a controlled environment. This has reduced drug crime and deaths. Why not spend money in this rather than in crime prevention and detention?
Former Swiss president, Ruth dreifuss, is asked what she would say to David Cameron and Barack Obama should they be stuck in a lift together. “You are responsible for all of your citizens, and being responsible means protecting them and giving them the means to protect themselves. There is no group that you can abandon”. Yet it seems those involved in drugs are being abandoned.
As someone who walked the streets to first stop animal experiments in March 1983 and whose feelings haven’t wavered since I’m disappointed to read of tests with rats around the use of opiates. These tests are given ink but I can’t point to their validity. It sidetracked the issue for me and would be far more comfortable if it wasn’t raised.
I finished this book as we entered our general election frenzy and smiled wryly as hari observes “in a true democracy, nobody gets written off. Nobody gets abandoned. The revolution lives”. Some day maybe. To a country near you.
Oh an the answer is alcohol

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ictu women’s conference – day 2

ictu womens conference
Day 2
march 4 2016
We start the second day with Motion 10 detailing changes to sick leave entitlement, seeking that any pregnancy related sick leave will not be counted against entitlements under current Public Service Sick Leave provisions, as austerity cuts were not just pay and pensions but also changes to terms and conditions.

Motion on Austerity and the impact of Women
Calling for a fight against Austerity and for equality. Organise women’s lobbies to highlight disproportionate impact of the cuts on women, develop a women led political campaign based around key industrial demands, provide political education courses including training on how government works

Motion on Child Poverty – set goals to end child poverty by 2025 by investing in education and working with relevant agencies, including food. 1 in 5 children go to school hungry, some startling figures for a modern “recovering economy:

Motion 15 on reproductive health and justice calling for support of repeal the eighth campaign, harrowing personal story was told. Hugely emotional hearing about how more than 10 people who travel daily to the uk for abortion. The motion called on ICTU to continue to support Trade union campaign to repeal the 8th amendment, lobby political parties to commit to a referendum and support a vote on the issue and encourage the mobilisation of trade union members on the issue.

Motion 16 calling on ICTU to lobby Government to address gender pensions gap of 39% leaving many women living in poverty. Gender Pay gap results in lower pensions for women, austerity has worsened this as pensions were postponed in return for putting food on the table.

Motion 17 – Violence against women and girls calling on ICTU to campaign to introduce legislation similar to Violence against women and girls act in Wales and to work with affiliates and employers to develop workplace policies on domestic violence. There was an all island survey over 10 years ago on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace where one third of people said they had experienced cases and this had an impact on their work. Legislation in Wales places a duty on Ministers and Public Bodies to introduce, monitor and evaluate strategies to tackle violence against women and girls, a more pressing requirement is to have active policies in the workplace, ensuring these places take a stand against this horror. Narrative needs to move from why does she stay with him to why doesn’t he stop

Motion 18 – Equal Marriage calling on ICTU to fully support Civil Marriage Equality campaign in Northern Ireland as it is the only part of the UK and Ireland where gay and lesbian couples can’t marry. After the success of the Marriage Equality referendum down south it has helped highlight the absence in this in Northern Ireland.

Motion 19 supporting the work of Women’s Committee endorsing the programme of work that was produced prior to conference. The programme has three parts – women Organising for decent work – women in society – Women in trade unions. as this co-ordinates with other congress campaigns. There is a notable absence of women negotiators

Motion 20 was about the new Workers College which is in the process of being set up. It called on ICTU to ensure that gender balance is part of teaching, participation and relevant training.

Motion 21 was similar but went a step further calling on a specific training and mentoring training programme for Women Trade Unionists. This will help empower women activists to be confident in pursuing a career through the trade union movement which should help achieve an acceptable gender balance which is missing

Guest speaker Montserrat Mir Roca, ETUC confederal Secretary spoke about Breaking the Glass Walls, paying tribute to the mothers and grandmothers have done to help with todays situation, though there’s a lot of work left to do. Austerity policies effect vulnerable people more. Not acceptable that companies are paying below minimum wage. Poverty and exclusion exists all throughout Europe, not just the poorer countries. There is a European Commissioner on gender and ETUC are looking for European Gender equality strategy. ETUC priorities include looking at gender pay gap is still a big problem, sometimes you can have good legislation but it doesn’t always get implemented. Also the representation of women at higher level positions in union and other organisations. There is still a need to advance work life balance arrangements, including implementation of parental leave directives. This year will see a push to highlight violence against women through a “safe at work, safe at home” programme. €370 million lost in gender pay gap throughout Europe per annum, this is not just a trade union demand it is economic.

And that was that – 21 motions and not one speaker against but a very inclusive conference. There was a strong feeling of solidarity for all speakers to motions, encouraging people to speak


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ICTU women’s conference 2016 – Day 1

ictu womens conference
Day 1 review
march 3 2016



Theresa Dwyer opened conference discussing how unequal the world still is. International Women’s Day is next Tuesday with a theme of achieving parity. IWD is a celebration but also a statement of how far society has to go.

Brian Campfield, President ICTU spoke of the daunting task but in this historic year it is good to focus on achievements by and for Women in the past 100 years.

James Connolly described the worker as a slave to capitalist society but the female worker as a slave to that slave, those words still ring true for the majority of trade union members in Ireland.

Sustainable development agenda was agreed in September last year but around the world gender inequality still exists. This represents super exploitation, providing equal access for all is the only thing which can ensure economies will be successful in the future. We were told that 4% of CEO’s are women.

Finally, Brian urged the delegates of a need to challenge a system that puts profits before people and profits before societies.

Patricia King is the first female General Secretary of ICTU and along with Alison Millar who is the first woman to be general secretary on NIPSA there are small signs that times are changing. Patricia spoke on the current state of inequality in Ireland
inequality is a persistent feature in Irish society. North and South women are severely underrepresented in our political system. The Irish Constitution has no reference to gender equality AND no reference to fathers. Lack of commitment in practice to improving gender inequality, National Women’s Council funding was slashed and combat poverty agency was disbanded in 2009, if you take away mirror of reflection on how bad poverty is/ then you take way the signal that shows people in poverty
65% of workers on minimum wage are women. Women are managers of poverty in low income households. Dunnes dispute highlighted worst behaviour in companies, don’t underestimate the value in the message that the Dunnes workers had.

There is a Lack of affordable and effective childcare system. Highest childcare costs in europe, legislative measures must be introduced. incoming southern government Invest in properly resourced childcare system. Women are less likely to have independent access to pensions. Gender pay gap is 8.5% in North and 14.4% down south. Ireland is out of line with representation on companies boards. 43% of irelands top 500 companies have no female representation, 9% in total have membership. Women are severly underrepresented in senior grades in Education and Public Service.
Over 50% female memberships and full-time officials and positions of leadership are predominately male
Patricia finished by reminding delegates not to be complacent because we have elected a female general secretary. We need to do better
Essential step to reducing inequality is t lift workers out of the poverty trap. Let us resolve to concentrate all our efforts to achieve fair work for all

Motions reached on Day 1

Motion 1 Campaign and lobby for decent work for women carried unanimously

Motion 2 Investigate best practice examples relating to paid carers leave and Campaign to establish Carers Statutory Paid Leave in such circumstances

Motion 3 Campaign for an effective solution to the Cost of childcare in Ireland carried unanimously,, Childcare is a barrier female participation in trade union issues

Motion 4 Support the development of a programme on mental health awareness, including needs and issues of women in the workplace. As amended to include current cuts in Social Welfare for under 25s to put pressure on Govt to put a fairer system in place, carried unanimously

Motion 5 Care Homes and Female Employees
Call on ICTU to put pressure on private sector providers to review their decision to close care homes. and for NI Assembly to take over the homes to provide security for occupants and staff. Do we want to treat elderly people as commodities in society Request to remit was accepted as it is left in hands of negotiators

Motion 6 Requesting DPER to review the content of Gender Equality Policy and policy on diversity published in 2001 and 2002 carried unanimously

Motion 7 Flexible Working – Calling on ICTU to research an expose the extent to which women are being denied access to flexible working and work with affiliates to continue the campaign for a legal right to flexible working

Motion 8 Bullying and harassment calling on ictu exec to publicly highlight bullying with a view to ensuring that affiliates and members along with employers and workers in general are fully aware of the rights and obligations in dealing with and preventing this kind of negative behaviour in the workplace.

Motion 9 – Women and the economy, calling on government ot carry out meaningful equality impact assessment before spending decisions are made, monitor the impact off decisions and revise policies when it is clear that there is a disproportionate impact, introduce a dedicated women’s employment strategy to address the dominance of women in low paid work and end public sector pay freezes and caps, introduce stronger legislation on equal pay audits, greater transparency and better quality part–time and flexible work opportunities

Motion 10 moved to tomorrow

Motion 11 around a pledge to end zero hours and casualisation, looking back on 100 years of struggle that continuing absence of women at the top of trade union leadership will not do anymore, outcomes of the conference must be core part of trade union movement. Seek to integrate policy on zero hours into our bargaining strategies and, industrial action and legal action, launch a solidarity pledge to make zero hour contracts history. This solidarity pledge will be brought to governments North and South and seek to commit a full review of these. Some strong words arose during this debate as it is obvious that workers under such precarious conditions are extremely vulnerable. trade union movement is here to better the conditions of workers in all workplaces, mandates dunnes stores campaign is being fought like a war and it is still very much a live issue.

Motion 12 was around childcare and the flexible economy seeking a strategy around childcare that provides affordable childcare that meets the needs of women working in vulnerable employment. It stated that employers have a duty to take caring commitments into account and measures need to be developed to support childcare providers and non profit organisation, including grandparents was unanimously passed

The afternoon session started with a presentation by Margaret Ward, Irish Women, Suffrage and war

Women’s fight for citizenship in Ireland is going on since 1871 when North of Ireland Women’s suffrage association were set up for the right to vote. In 1912 a feminist newspaper, the irish citizen, was set up – “For Men and Women equally, the rights of citizenship. From men and women equally the duties of Citizenship” With impending Home Rule on the horizon suffragettes across the island started a militant campaign, including destroying buildings and horsewhipping of people. Focus of Suffragettes changed when the First World War started. In 1915 there was a suffrage and peace conference in the hague which attracted 1136 delegates. Irish women couldn’t travel and held a protest in Dublin which Pearse sent a message to.

Cumann na mBan fought in the rising of which the proclamation called for equal rights for all, and in 1918 Constance Markievicz was elected – the first and sole woman successfully elected

Mary Muldowney also spoke about the brave women who not just fought in 1916 but were involved in other activities at that time, be it pacifist like Louie Bennett who became General Secretary of ICTU or other trade unionists like Delia Larkin and Cissy Cahalan

Relatively we have made a few strides forward but there are still many battles to be won. Countess Markievicz is spoken of as if she was the only woman involved in the 1916 rising, but that certainly was not the case. Winnie Carney was in the GPO during the rising and went on to be secretary of Irish textile workers union. Rosie Hackett was a trade union activist for 60 years. Hannah Sheehy Skeffington was nominated to be in the first provisional government.

Cumann na mBan and women in Irish Citizen Army were somewhat militarised. the Citizen Army recruited men and women equally. Kathleen Lynn gave first aid classes to all people. Irish women’s workers union was set up and many of these were in Irish Citizen army,

50,000 women got work in munitions factories with canteens serving lunch during the first world war, also separation allowances were given to women whose husbands were fighting for the British army which helped alleviate the horrendous poverty that existed

Mary’s excellent presentation ended with a nod of appreciation and recognition of Dunnes Stores workers in 1984 and how they stand for everything that was great about the trade union women in 1916. Remember the spirit of women who wished to bring fairness and equality to everybody

“Invisible Women” by Brian Moore

The singer sings a rebel song

and everybody sings along.

Just one thing I’ll never understand:

Every damn rebel seems to be a man.

For he sings of the Bold Fenian Men

And the Boys of the Old Brigade.

What about the women who stood there too

“When history was made” …?

Ireland, Mother Ireland, with your freedom loving sons,

Did your daughters run and hide at the sound of guns?

Or did they have some part in the fight

And why does everybody try to keep them out of sight?

For they sing of the Men of the West

And the Boys of Wexford too.

Were there no women living round those parts;

Tell me, what did they do … ?


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