Young people in Ireland played their part in the massive world-wide strike against Climate Change on 20 September 2019. The energy and determination as well as the frustration of the participants was evident in the chants and slogans on the placards.
Fair play to the anonymous students who posted on Reddit that they had to go against the principal to participate:
Obviously have to keep this anonymous so I wont say what school but today out school refused to let us out of school for a few hours to the protests for climate change I think this is a joke like seriously. It was only from 12-3 like its ridiculous. The school didn’t even mention it to us at all that this was happening or suggested we take part in it ourselves. Needless to say we weren’t taking this shit so we grouped together and about 80-100 students rushed out the doors and ran to protest anyways.
Here are some of the images and videos from the day.
View of the 20 September 2019 climate strike, from above, south side of Merrion Square, Dublin.
The Irish Times concentrated on very young protesters but nevertheless captured the sense of determination as well as anxiety among protesters in their coverage of the climate strike in Dublin 20 September.
Even if human society immediately managed a complete stop to the emission of carbon, we will fail to achieve the target of the Paris Accord of 2016, of keeping the increase in planetary temperatures to under 2% above pre-industrial levels. And of course, carbon emissions, far from coming to an end are increasing. There is no doubt that dramatic climate change is underway and it is not slowing down.
We are in very big trouble as a species unless we invent miracle solution to global warming. And as the crisis crows, so does momentum behind a project that has striking parallels with the Manhattan Project, the 1941 assembly of scientists at Los Alamos that eventually led to nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the danger (that remains with us) of nuclear winter for the planet.
The project I’m referring to is that of Geo-engineering the planet’s atmosphere and in particular, the plan to apply the stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) of chemical compounds. The idea is to pump sulphates (dust) into to the upper atmosphere so that solar radiation is back-scattered into space.
Behind the push for a Geo-engineered solution to global warming are backers such as the Bill Gates Foundation and the idea is gathering momentum. You can see the growing number of geo-engineering projects via map.geoengineeringmonitor.org, which shows that there were more than eight hundred projects in 2017 (compared to three hundred in 2012).
SAI is an idea that will work. We know it does because when, in the past, such as in 1815, massive volcanic eruptions blasted dust into the stratosphere, the next year or two saw global temperatures drop by as much as five per cent. SAI scientists are attempting to recreate the effect of these volcanoes artificially.
One of the parallels between the Geo-engineering drive and the Manhattan Project, is that several of the scientists involved in this research have claimed that the technology will never be used. They are developing the technology… ‘just in case’. But as the climate crisis unfolds, panic measures will be implemented and any new technology that we have available to address global warming will be considered in earnest, no matter now risky.
And there are massive risks with this apparent solution to global warming.
One important point to make about SAI is that it would not change the density of carbon in the atmosphere and therefore it would have no impact on effects such as the acidification of the seas. Secondly, SAI could allow companies and countries to avoid a fundamental solution to the burning of fossil fuels. In fact, petrochemical companies have expressed an interest in supplying the sulphates needed for the project, which would be paid-for by taxpayers. If implemented, SAI represents a huge win for them.
The most common objection to SAI geo-engineering is a strong one: how do we know what the consequence will be? Predictions of what will happen depend on computer models for the atmosphere and at the current time, these models are nowhere near accurate enough to be confident about the impact of SAI. Given that important global phenomena like the North Atlantic Oscillation and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation have yet to be successfully modeled, we just cannot predict what will happen on a global scale, let alone a regional scale. It is very likely that filling the stratosphere with sulphates will not only cool the planet but it will create major turbulence and extreme weather events. Particularly important here is the effect on rainfall: it is quite possible an overall cooling of the planet through SAI is accompanied by devastating floods and droughts at a regional level.
My own concern about SAI arises from my research into the societal consequences of major volcanic eruptions. Let’s suppose humanity starts on the SAI approach, we are then caught in a very dangerous situation, where every year we will have to keep up the practice filling the stratosphere with particles. And as soon as we stop, the underlying crisis of high planetary temperatures will reassert themselves. But what would happen if during this process a major volcano erupted? The dumping of tonnes of dust into the stratosphere on top of the human effort will have devastating consequences. There will be a year or two without summers, crop failure on a massive scale and enormous economic dislocation as planes are grounded for months.
I’m looking at the medieval world in particular, where life was far more precarious than our own. But we cannot be complacent about the potential for resilience today. Modern society in some ways is more vulnerable than that of our medieval predecessors. Just-in-time production and the inter-dependency of the world economy means that if international trade is grounded for several months, the consequences would be shocking.
After the 2010 Icelandic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, air traffic was affected in some regions for up to a month. This was a volcanic eruption of about one tenth the size of those I’ve been researching in the historical record.
My point is that as the geo-engineering option becomes more appealing in the face of increasingly damaging consequences arising from global warming we will lose track of the bigger historical picture in the hope of a short-term fix. But what this wider perspective demonstrates is that sooner or later a major eruption will happen that brings its own challenges. And if we have already saturated the atmosphere artificially with sulphates when it does, we are going to bring about a year or two of unforeseen, incredibly cold years of massive economic dislocation and crop failure.
There is no governing body that can stop a figure like Donald Trump from beginning this process. Geo-engineering on sufficient scale to cool the planet would cost about a billion dollars. That’s relatively cheap to implement. And this brings imperial considerations into play. There is nothing to stop a rich country, which also is relatively protected from unpredictable consequences from going ahead on their own. Nothing, that is, except the opposition of their own population. That’s why awareness of the dangers of geo-engineering needs to grow, especially among those protesting on 20 September.
Dublin City Council officials and councillors from a range a political parties (Fianna Fáil, Sinn Fein, Labour Soc Dems, Greens and some Independents) are set to hand over a hugely valuable piece of public land, owned by you through your local authority, to a private developer.
O’Devaney Gardens is a 14 hectare sight right next to the Phoenix Park, and if developed sensibly, could provide a huge number of social and affordable housing units on site.
Unfortunately, we have a set of city council officials wedded to a pro-market way of thinking, and a set of political parties unwilling to fight this neoliberal status quo.
Bartra Capital Property Group have been selected to develop the site: over 800 units will be built yet the developer will get to sell 50% of them on the open market at who knows what kind of outrageous prices; 30% will be social and 20% will be affordable purchase.
This is a outrageous give away of public land to a private developer.
We can and must do better.
Dublin City Councillors will be asked at next month’s city council meeting to vote in favor of a section 183 disposal of the land to the developer.
We must reject this and demand a better alternative which will involve Dublin City Council’s own architects design a plan for the site and a building contractor selected to build the units we want – high quality social and affordable units available to individuals, couples and families on middle and low incomes.
In Arundhati Roy’s 2011 Walking
with the Comrades there is a moment where she recaps the stories of Ajitha
and Laxmi, Maoist guerrillas in eastern India. They became fighters after the
Salwa Judum, a state-supported militia, attacked their villages.
The Judum came to Korseel, her village, and killed three people by drowning them in a stream. Ajitha … watched them rape six women and shoot a man in this throat.
Comrade Laxmi, who has a long, thick plait, tells me she watched the Judum burn thirty houses in her village, Jojor. “We had no weapons then,” she says, “we could do nothing but watch.”
Arundhati Roy is not an
advocate of a guerrilla strategy and therefore was torn when she heard about an
execution of a leading member of a district council carried out by the Maoists:
I feel I ought to say something at this point. About the futility of violence, about the unacceptability of summary executions. But what should I suggest they do? Go to court? Do a dharna in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi? A rally? A relay hunger strike? It sounds ridiculous. The promoters of the New Economic Policy—who find it so easy to say “There Is No Alternative”—should be asked to suggest an alternative Resistance Policy. A specific one, to these specific people, in this specific forest. Here. Now.
I was reminded of this passage
when reading the August 2019 edition of An
Phoblacht and its coverage of the fiftieth anniversary of the upsurge of loyalist
attacks on catholics in Belfast and the subsequent appearance of the
Provisional IRA. Between 14 and 18 August 1969, eight people were shot dead and
around 2,000 families, mostly catholic, turned into refugees. An Phoblacht carries the experiences of
some of these who suffered the loss of loved ones, not only from the loyalist
mobs but also the involvement of the RUC and B Specials in the attacks.
Nine-year-old Patrick Rooney, for example, was shot in his bed when armoured
cars fired indiscriminately into Divis flats.
Ann McLarnon talks about
hearing an RUC officer call out to loyalist arsonists to, ‘leave the fenian bastards to us,’ shortly before
her husband Sammy was shot dead looking out from his window, having just
returned from trying to put out a fire in a neighbours house.
Richard McAuley, a former political prisoner,
Those organising aid for the increasing numbers of refugees in St Teresa’s needed cars and volunteers to go down to the Clonard and lower Falls to help evacuate streets. It was believed more attacks would occur. I couldn’t drive but I had willing hands. I joined up with Joe Savage who had a mini and we went to Waterville Street at the back of Clonard Monastery to take away belongings and children and elderly folks. An hour or so later, a few yards just around the corner in Bombay Street, Fifteen-year-old Gerard McAuley was shot and killed by loyalists. Bombay Street was totally destroyed in a firestorm of petrol bombs.
defining moment in the birth of the modern IRA was ‘the Battle of St Matthews’
which took place after dark on 27 June 1970 and lasted until about 3am.
Although loyalist paramilitaries, without any restraint from the British Army,
began an assault on the Short Strand from several directions, they were held up
by republican fighters who earned the admiration of many of the residents. And
reading about these events of fifty years ago, I was brought back to the
similarity of the account in Walking with the
Imagine the warm summer
night, made hotter by the flames of burning houses. Imagine the sectarian mob
at the end of your street, determined to get you out because of the community
you belong to, and imagine too the real danger that someone you love is about
to be killed. What course of action should you take? Go to court? Sit in
protest at the doors of Westminster, London? A rally? A relay hunger strike? It
sounds just as ridiculous as when Arundhati Roy posed these alternatives to
herself. A different policy is needed in the here and now.
Hopefully, I won’t ever face such a situation, but they have happened often enough in modern history to make it likely they will recur again. An answer has to be given to the question of what should be done. And my answer is that yes, under such circumstances the besieged community should throw up barricades and defend themselves in arms if necessary. Unlike the majority of political parties competing for power in Ireland and in India today, who howl with outrage at any expression of support for the CPI (Maoist) and the IRA, I therefore have sympathy for and a sense of solidarity with, those who took up guns against mobs that had been organised (in both cases) to intimidate and crush those wanting equality and civil rights.
Does that mean I support
violence as a political strategy? In short, no. There is an enormous difference
between recognising that in a particular moment, for a few hours, a community
might find it necessary to battle for survival and advocating that armed
struggle is a way forward for that community in the longer term. It clearly
isn’t. In the case of Ireland (which I’m more familiar with, but I think the
same arguments apply to India and, indeed, elsewhere), although the Battle of
St Matthews led to a rapid increase in recruits for the IRA, those who joined
that organisation on the basis that it was the right way to bring about change
in northern Ireland were making a mistake. Several mistakes in fact.
Firstly, it wasn’t ever
going to win. Or even bring about modest reform. The famous German
revolutionary socialist, Rosa Luxembourg, once made the point to her more
conservative labour colleagues that by choosing the path of reform rather than
revolution, they were in fact, turning away even from winning reforms. Why?
Because concentrating on parliamentary activity comes at the cost of belittling
the types of activity that does get results, namely mass popular protest:
strikes, occupations, boycotts, etc. With the advantage of hindsight it is
clear that the same argument applies to politics in Northern Ireland.
Tremendous energy and sacrifice by nationalists was poured into waging a
campaign of armed struggle, yet the local state could not be toppled that way
and insofar as concessions to the demands of the civil rights movement were
made, they came in response to the broader expressions of popular discontent.
There are parallels with the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1921), where
even in that much more favourable situation for an armed campaign against the
British Empire, it was popular militancy that undermined
Britain’s ability to rule Ireland.
Secondly, and this is
related, there is an elitism in the practice of organising armed resistance to
a major state that eventually introduces authoritarianism and heirarchy into
the relationship between the movement and its base. The pattern of admired
fighters for freedom and liberation becoming a new set of rulers is not limited
to examples from Ireland. It’s a world-wide pattern and it stems from the
necessity of having a tight chain of command in a military organisation as well
as from having a political goal that is not explicitly socialist and
egalitarian. If someone is going to run the new state after it falls to a successful
armed rebellion, then who will the new politicians and officials be? Those who
see themselves as having carried the struggle forward on behalf of (rather than
in step with) the people hardly ever then give up the power they have obtained.
Thirdly, it was — and still
is — a mistake not to have a strategy for change that involves protestant
workers. Throughout the existence of the Northern Irish state there have always
been protestant workers opposed to loyalism. Often trade unionists, the ability
of these workers to stand up to the sectarian thugs in the community around
them has ebbed and flowed over time. Often the pattern is shaped by events in
the south. The more catholic and conservative the southern state, the more it
provides a warning to protestants not to demand any changes that might lead to
Northern Ireland leaving the UK.
Right now, there are some favourable circumstances that make it a little easier for non-sectarian protestant workers to push back against loyalism (e.g. the fact that abortion is available in Ireland as is same-sex marriage. Brexit, too, is an opportunity to hammer home the anti-working class agenda of the DUP, making it a shame that People Before Profit can’t make the most of this, because they put themselves in the pro-Brexit camp). But even throughout the worst of the troubles, that anti-sectarian protestant constituency was present. And it was a constituency that was completely neglected by the IRA. Worse, the more that the military campaign veered off from defending communities under threat to bombing campaigns, the more working class opposition from within unionism was silenced.
With a generation having
grown up after the cease fire in the north, it’s a lot easier today to
appreciate these points than it would have been in 1970. Even so, when I read
about the events of fifty years ago and ask myself the same questions that
Arundahti Roy asks about the Indian Maoists, I think the answer is clear. Yes,
there can be urgent situations where working class communities have to battle
with arms in hand to save themselves but no, that can not be then generalised
to being a strategy for socialism or even for more limited changes.
The Fine Gael pro-developer planning system in action: we on Dublin City Council rezoned the old Chivers’ factory site in Coolock from industrial to residential in October 2017 on the advice of the following assessment from DCC’s planners:
‘It is acknowledged that this unit has been vacant for a significant period of time and that the site may not have future potential as an industrial factory type unit. Give the location of the site, particular adjacent to the Santry River and conservation area, and current access off a residential street, a residential redevelopment of the site is considered appropriate in principle.’
Myself and all other North Central area councillors rezoned the land to allow for residential development but we were promised affordable housing and sensible density: 350 affordable units at reasonable heights.
The developer briefed local councillors and held meetings in the local community to inform people of their plans: 350 units at appropriate heights of no more than five storeys.
Fine Gael, however, made two significant changes to the planning system during this time, namely the fast-tracking Strategic Housing Development process which facilitates developers building more than 100 units by-passing the local authority as the planning authority and going straight to An Bord Plenala, which leaves no room for appeal once a planning decision has been reached.
The second change to the planning system was the issuing of new departmental guidelines on building heights, released in December 2018 which totally ripped up our City Development Plan regulations on heights and opened the door to developers to lodge planning applications involving outrageous new heights, like the one at the Chivers’ site.
When we were presented with the proposal, the idea was that the developer would build four apartment blocks, none of which would be more than five stories high. Now, the developers, Platinum, have announced that the maximum height of the apartment blocks will be ten stories high. This has come about as a result of the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, removing height restrictions on plans, rendering our efforts to ensure a sustainable and reasonable development meaningless.
It is a very poor planning decision, allowing blocks of apartments eight and nine storeys high in a low-rise residential area.
Yet the only recourse available to anyone not happy with the decision is a judicial review in the courts, which can only challenge how the decision was reached and can costs tens of thousands of euros.
Fine Gael is quite clearly allowing Dublin to be shaped by the interests of private capital, and to hell with the communities.
I was in the Glin Sports Centre in Coolock on 11 August to watch the fantastic young boxer from Kilmore, Ava Henry, fight in the final of a European Championship in Georgia.
Ava is an incredibly talented young person, hardworking and dedicated too. She won the silver medal although we all thought she had won the fight.
An amazing achievement for a twelve-year-old, who will only get better. An All Ireland champion boxer who today became a European silver medalist. Fantastic.
The tremendous success generally by Ireland’s young boxers and the enthusiasm and inspiration that brings to their peers is evidence that even modest amounts of state investment in sports goes a long way. What a shame though, that our ‘independents’ in government go along with the way that Fine Gael favour middle and upper-class kids when it comes to these investments.
Last year, not only did Shane Ross give Wesley, a fee-paying school in his constituency, €150,000, he did the same for Loreto Beaufort, another elitist school. This at a time when many state schools don’t even have a sports area. How often do we see schoolkids playing on the tarmac of car parks?
Wesley College, by the way, has two resurfaced hockey pitches, along with two cricket pitches, one for soccer, four for rugby, two more basketball courts and for indoor sports: a gymn and a major hall.
As I said at the time of an upsurge in local gangland killings in Coolock: “We need a task-force established that will be responsible for monitoring the work of the various government departments, state agencies and community groups that have a role to play in tackling the many problems faced by people in the area.” And part of that solution is to invest at least as heavily in the facilities for working class kids as the state does for the rich.
Across most of Europe, far-right parties have a strong presence, with parties like National Rally in France (formerly the Front National), Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the anti-Islam Freedom party in Holland and Golden Dawn in Greece. In Ireland, despite several attempts to get a racist project off the ground, the far-right have so far faltered. In part, this is because historically the racist agenda in Ireland has been linked to a very conservative Catholic agenda, which is in retreat from the spirit of our recent times.
It would be a mistake,
however, for the left to be complacent. It is clear that the fears of a fragile
middle class and the misplaced anger of marginalised working class communities could
potentially provide a constituency for an Irish far-right movement.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim
Community offer a version of Islam that rejects terrorism and advocates
the separation of mosque and state. They own a mosque on the Old Ballybrit
Road, Galway and this has been a focus for racist activity for some years. Early
on Monday 29 July, an incident took place that demonstrated the existence of people
who would organise a far-right party here and what that would mean for Muslims
and other minority groups in Ireland. The Iman’s office was broken into and
wrecked, with his family photographs and books scattered onto the street. The attackers
were careful to take the security equipment.
has, according to M.A. Malik, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of
Ireland, terrified the local Muslim community.
Two years ago, on 5
June 2017, Just after eleven p.m., while many of their members were inside for
prayer, the windows of the same mosque were smashed in by rocks. This attack followed
a spate of anti-Muslim graffiti in the city.
The link behind these
attacks was made explicit to the Iman, Ibrahim Noonan, who received an anonymous
call three months ago in which two far-right groups operating in Ireland were
mentioned (along with the name of Tommy Robinson).
Currently, such sinister
figures are relatively isolated and after both attacks, a broad swathe of the local
community rallied around the Ahmadiyya Community. Galway Anti-Racism Network is
an important force for organising the support that exists for Muslims and
asylum seekers. And for those wanting to donate to the mosque, there is
currently a charity 5k event that you
In response to the recent attack, on my Facebook page I said:
Last November a hotel earmarked for those seeking international protection was burnt out in Moville Donegal, another in Rooskey Roscommon last January and now an attack on a mosque in Galway. Hateful crimes each one of them, and the target in each instance were minorities – refugees and a Muslim community – often attacked by mainstream politicians and the far-right right across the world as the source of their particular society’s ills. Nothing could be further from the truth but hate never lets facts get in the way. We must condemn every attack, verbal and physical, we must stand with our sisters and brothers against the forces of division, hate and violence.
It was quite
incredible but yet somewhat inevitable how quickly my post yesterday in support
of those at the receiving end of anti-immigrant and anti-Islam attacks
degenerated into a thread of nonsensical, ‘Look After Our Own First’ crap.
Admittedly, it was only a handful of Facebook users but enough to distract from
the main message of my original post.
To diminish or dismiss the lived
realities of people facing attacks because of the colour of their skin, place
of origin or religious faith is a kind of violence that can slowly corrupt a
The problems people
face in the twenty-first century, in Ireland and elsewhere, in securing decent,
affordable housing, having a job that pays well and is secure, getting their
kids through school, accessing high quality health care when needed, are
problems created by a capitalist economic system that benefits a tiny elite and
leaves the rest of us fighting over the scraps.
Focusing your anger at
austerity and the gross global inequalities in wealth and income on immigrants
or Muslims lets the billionaires and millionaires, and their politician
flunkies, off the hook.
We need to unite and
fight for a better world for all.
On Monday 22 July 2019, about a thousand Israeli soldiers and border police entered the village of Sur Baher and set about demolishing buildings in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Wadi al-Hummus. Two families, totalling 17 people, of whom 11 are children, lost their homes.
Ir Amim, is an Israeli NGO that believes there has been an increase in this kind of destruction of homes. Their figures are that Israel demolished 63 Palestinian homes in the first half of 2019, while the same period in 2018 witnessed 37 demolitions.
The EU did make a statement on the matter, making the point that this policy undermined the prospects for a lasting peace.
As I responded on Facebook:
For decades the state of Israel has been violating the human rights of Palestinians and consistently breaching international law as it does yet it has never faced any serious consequences for its illegal actions so its latest act of brutality was never going to be stopped by the EU “urging” Israel to halt the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. They just went ahead and did what they do best, destroying the homes and lives of ordinary Palestinian families without fear of sanction.
These incidents help explain why Independent Left give wholehearted support to Senator Francis Black and her Occupied Territories Bill.
The bill seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories. Such settlements are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground. Despite this, Ireland and other EU Member States provide continued economic support through trade in settlement goods.
The legislation has been prepared with the support of Trócaire, Christian-Aid, Amnesty International and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), and applies to settlements in occupied territories where there is clear international legal consensus that they violate international law. The clearest current example is the Israeli occupation and expansion of settlements in the Palestinian ‘West Bank’, which have been repeatedly condemned as illegal by the UN, EU, the International Court of Justice and the Irish Government.
Frances Black speaking at the UN on behalf of her proposal to sanction goods, services and natural resources from the Occupied Territories in Palestine.
As Right2Water have recently posted, the announcement on 17 July 2019 by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities that excessive usage charges will be imposed on households that waste water is the beginning of a new battle which will see the government attempt to reintroduce the hated water charges in a new form.
Do they really want to go there again? The people have spoken, marched, boycotted, voted, marched and then marched and boycotted some more.
The Irish establishment, the supposed elite group of middle and upper class professionals and politicians, legal minds and media folk, despised the water movement because it was a great movement of the working class, middle and low income people fighting back and winning.
So they are sore, are coming back at it and are determined not to be dictated to on this issue ever again by the “ordinary people”.
They think the sting has gone out of the issue: yes, the political class paid a price in the local and European elections in 2014 and the general election in 2016, but they now feel that they have recovered and to a certain degree they have.
The Greens did well in the recent local and European elections and they favour water charges; the Labour Party did alright for themselves and they are in favour of water charges; Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had good local and European election results and are most certainly in favour of water charges.
Meanwhile the political parties of the Left and Sinn Fein, those that fought hard opposing the water charges, performed very poorly in the recent elections.
So the establishment think that the people have fallen into a slumber, are ripe for a little bit of “water wasting” propaganda, will accept the introduction of a charge for “excessive usage” and will ultimately see as inevitable the re-introduction of water charges.
They think this is their time, an opportune moment in which to begin a new battle to introduce water charges and ultimately privatise our water.
They are mistaken. Being out of touch with working class communities, they think we will be easily deceived as to the true nature of ‘excess usage charges’. Having underestimated the insight and determination of Irish workers, they will lose this battle. And Independent Left looks forward to playing our part in ensuring this.