Joe Higgins Column: Socialist Voice January 03.
Irish Government Hypocrisy

THE LIKELY attack by the United States and Britain on Iraq will show up the Irish government as cringing supporters of the imperial powers whether or not the war has the fig leaf of approval from the United Nations Security Council.

Over the last five years in the Dáil, I have tried time and again to get the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, to condemn the flagrant hypocrisy of the major powers supporting corrupt and dictatorial regimes friendly to them, while pretending to stand for democracy in Iraq.

To date, I have had no success. The reality, of course, is that the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat government are enthusiastic supporters of US capitalism and the political administration that heads up the system.

In this State, economic policy over a few decades now has been to invite the US-based multinationals to use the island of Ireland as a virtual economic aircraft carrier to get to EU markets. The economy has been made very dependent on this for employment in some sectors. As a result, no section of the establishment will raise a question when these and other multinationals strip a massive €20 billion out of the State in repatriated profits this year alone.

Furthermore, the establishment is terrified that any criticism of US foreign policy might upset the boardrooms of these companies and cause them to look elsewhere. By contrast, the slaughter of innocent Iraqi children, women and men counts for little.

Ireland has just finished its two-year stint on the United Nations Security Council. It was a shameful episode. The Irish representative, backed up by Foreign Affairs Minister Cowen, backed up at all stages the cynical manoeuvrings of the Bush regime in getting the Security Council to send inspectors to Iraq in search of an excuse to go to war. Similarly, the government continues to allow the US Airforce to freely use Shannon Airport as a staging port for war preparations.

The government should be aware that in the event of an attack on Iraq, we will hold them accountable. The blood of the innocents who will be killed will be as much on the hands of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as on those of Bush, Rumsfeldt and co.

The Right to Protest

For the second time in a few years, the right of the farming community to hold a protest in Dublin City has been questioned by sections of the business establishment and right-wing politicians. They must be challenged head on in relation to this.

The same business establishment and some senior bureaucrats on Dublin City Council attempted to introduce bye-laws that would outlaw protest demonstrations in Dublin City Centre. Apparently, the only right that was to be respected was that of the big business sector in Dublin not to have the slightest inconvenience in the business of raking in profits. However, they were forced back by the massive opposition that was developing from the Left, from voluntary organisations and from ordinary people.

A senior Dublin Fianna Fáil T.D., Sean Ardagh, sank to a new low in cynicism when he attacked the current farmers' protest by pointing up the difficulties which poor people and single mothers faced in making ends meet in urban areas.

This was a crude attempt to stir up hostility among working class people against the farmers to divert attention from the bankruptcy of the government's policy towards rural areas. It was also flagrantly hypocritical in view of the huge difficulties inflicted on working class communities by government cutbacks and the plethora of extra taxes and charges announced toward the end of 2002.

The Socialist Party carries no spear for the wealthy ranchers who have creamed off the bulk of handouts from the E.U. But there is a real crisis in the small farming communities. Thousands have been driven off the land in recent decades. This has given rise to the grotesquely unbalanced development of Dublin and other major urban areas which is making life a nightmare in these areas in so many ways.

Democratic socialism would ensure economic security for small farmers based on organised co-operation. The emphasis would be on the production of fresh, wholesome food distributed in a planned way to end the madness of the globalised marketplace, which sees heavily polluting planes crossing each other in mid-air carrying the same produce.

The small farming community and rural workers are natural allies for the urban working class and we should not allow cynical right-wing politicians drive a wedge between us.

Other articles by Joe Higgins can be got at the sitemap