Article from the November 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Socialist Youth - reports on our campaigns
Mass action to save Omagh hospital
By Kevin Henry, Omagh Socialist Youth
ON 15 October, a 4,000 strong demonstration outside Omagh Hospital told Sean Woodward to get his "hands off our hospital." The protest was only supposed to last thirty minutes but local politicians' rhetoric filled speeches let the demonstration drag on.
Despite this Sinn Fein MP, Pat Doherty, was not in attendance. Only local sports representatives, Dr. Deeny and the local hospital shop steward received an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd.
Socialist Youth was the only organisation to intervene with independent material. We received a lot of support from the people in the crowd. One elderly man commented: "These speakers don't understand that 100 years ago it was the people of Omagh who raised the money for the hospital. Labourers like my grandfather volunteered to help build it. It is only the ordinary people of Omagh who can save it."
More people are now seeing the weakness of the leadership of the campaign. The need for a militant campaign is clear. Even the local press are reflecting the mood in the area with headlines like "unite and fight."
We have always pointed out that lobbying Sean Woodward and previous Blairite junior ministers was a bankrupt idea. People are also questioning the leadership's attack on the Fermanagh campaign. Socialist Youth have constantly supported the right of Fermanagh as well as Omagh to an acute hospital.
A conference made up of representatives of Fermanagh and Tyrone should be called to organise a united campaign. Union action is needed to save Omagh hospital and also protect the rights of hospital workers, particularly the fillipino nurses who are treated like slave labour and are now being told their contracts will not be renewed.
The next protest on 28 November needs to bring the town to a halt and efforts must be made to get the Fermanagh group to join. Socialist Youth will continue to play a role, especially in getting students to attend the protest.
We have also raised the need for a new party of the working class that will fight for the defence of public services.
UCD:- socialists raise Euro 570 for quake victims
By Oisin Kelly, UCDSU Council member
Socialist Party members of UCD Students' Union Council and other left-wing members successfully campaigned for a Euro 500 donation from the students' union for the Trade Union Rights Campaign (TURC) in Pakistan and Kashmir. We also held a table quiz that raised Euro72.
This money goes directly to assist workers and poor people affected by the earthquake. Unlike NGOs, charities and governments, the TURC will not spend money on administration or excessive salaries.
Although the SU Council passed our motion unanimously, the right-wing leaders of the students' union delayed agreeing to a donation. Yet the union executive is quick to waste money on training weekendsÔ and entertainment for themselves while they delay helping earthquake victims! This is just another example of why we need a left campaigning students' union in UCD.
Skateparks not hoodie-bans!
IN WHAT must be one of the most ridiculous pieces of political grandstanding seen yet in Ireland, Michael Noonan TD, former leader of Fine Gael, has called for the banning of hoodies in shopping centres!
Apparently, it's young people in hoodies who are responsible for shoplifting, and even if we're not shoplifting, according to Noonan, hoodies are just generally intimidating! To back up all of this rubbish, RTE on 9 November produced footage reminiscent of "Cops" of a few young people running away with hoodies on - apparently a clinching argument for banning them!
This is yet another attempt by the establishment to victimize young people, at one with Michael McDowell's proposals for Anti Social Behaviour Orders, which have already been used in Britain to ban some young people wearing hoodies. ASBOs and bans of hoodies will not deal with anti-social behaviour, they will only alienate young people further. What's needed instead is real investment in youth facilities. According to the government's own figures, over █2.5 million was needed for youth facilities in 2003, yet only █80,000 was provided!
Skateboarding facilities are top of the list of desired facilities for many young people. Disgracefully, for a country with the youngest population in the EU, Dublin, the capital city, has no public skateparks. That is not only behind other European countries, but even behind countries in the neo-colonial world like Thailand, Peru and Brazil. Campaigns of young people are underway to get parks built in Lucan, Maynooth, Bushypark, Navan, Newbridge, Westport, Cork and Limerick. These campaigns should aim to mobilise as many young people as possible in protest and action rather than just lobbying local councils.
Socialist Youth wants to assist skateboarders, inline skaters and BMXers in getting the public facilities they deserve. Contact 086 1688050 for assistance in setting up a campaign.
The "business" of education
By Paddy Meehan, Queens Socialist Society
FROM 1 August the Vice Chancellor at Queens, Professor Peter Gregson, has been implementing new restructuring measures with the supposed aim of making the university more "efficient".
The real effects of these changes will only be felt after 1 January when the newly created post of Commercial Services Directorate is due to start implementing job losses.
All this talk of "efficency" comes after a talk by Sir Digby-Jones, head of the Confederation of British Industry, to the University's Chief Executive Club at a dinner party. This voice box of capitalism gave the after dinner speech on "The universities business and the business of a university."
We face the major danger of privatisation of many parts of the university. The Vice Chancellor stated that many areas of the university "could and should run commercial identities to be able to play their part".
Opposition is already mounting through the Students' Union at Queen's which has already labelled the suspected job losses as "theft."
The Union President has opposed privatisation and the union are consulting the student body on the matter. The Socialist Society will be proposing direct action to oppose this creeping privatisation of our education.
Capitalism views everything as a commodity, including our education and university life. Students must link up with other unions on the campus in action to halt this attack.