Iraq War

In the last week of the Dail before the plenary sessions adjourned for the summer, I thought it was appropriate to call the government to account regarding one of the major issues dealt with during the first half of the year - Iraq.

After all, the arguments advanced by those who opposed the imperialist invasion have been resoundingly vindicated, while the positions advocated by the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his government have been exposed. It should be clear to all now that the invasion was predicated on a blatant lie.

This exposes the real reason for the invasion - the securing of the Iraqi oil fields for western capitalism and the sending out of the message that the United States is to be the unchallenged arbiter of the world, politically and economically.

Could the Taoiseach then be obliged to explain why he had shamelessly parroted the lies of Bush and Rumsfeld again and again in the Dail? Could he be obliged to explain why he had used parliament to propagate those lies to the Irish people and, on foot of this, facilitate the invasion of Iraq by assisting up to 40,000 United States troops get there through Shannon Airport, These were the questions that I put directly to him across the floor of the Dail.

The answers however contained nothing but the usual dishonest evasions and diversions, which generally characterise Bertie Ahern's response to difficult questions. No explanation whatsoever was forthcoming about the evaporation of the US/ British claims over the weapons that were said to be capable of being mobilised in 45 minutes by Iraq to wreak havoc on the West. No explanation either for the thousands of innocent men, women and children slaughtered and mutilated by the barbaric weapons, including cluster bombs, deployed by the invading armies.

What was striking about this Dail exchange was the absolute silence afterwards in the press. Like the government, many sections of the media had also relayed as fact the claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. They also have many questions to answer but show no inclination to do so.

This contrasts with sections of the establishment media in Britain, which have put Prime Minister Blair on the spot over his lies. It seems incredible that the Irish media won't call on the Taoiseach and his government to own up. Of course to do so, they would have to own up themselves as well.

Bin charges

Another key issue for me in the final weeks of his Dail session was the government's plan to pass legislation designed to smash the Anti Bin Tax Campaigns, particularly in the greater Dublin area. Again the media has given relatively little attention to this, despite the fact that this issue will be hugely controversial in the months ahead.

One remembers that it was the same story in the early days of the battle against the water charges. Just like that campaign, it is the action of ordinary people themselves that will bring the struggle against the bin tax to the fore.

The working class communities in Dublin should take careful note of the absolute failure of backbench Fianna Fail TDs to represent their opposition to the bin tax in any way during the Dail debates. They are obviously either too cowardly to do so or keep quiet in the hope of being promoted down the line. Either way, their failure should be exposed by the Campaigns.

While the main fight ahead will concentrate on preventing the threat of non- collection of bins being used to break the Campaign, the right wing parties and their candidates must be punished heavily in the local and European elections next June.

This will also help to prevent the government from moving towards its goal to have a parallel tier of local taxation in place that will quickly reach 1,000 euro for each household.

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