Archive for February, 2012

The five United Left Alliance TDs; Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Joe Higgins and Seamus Healy, today called for a NO vote in the referendum on the Fiscal Treaty – the austerity treaty.

The treaty will require unsustainable deficit and debt rules, greater powers for the EU Commission and the European Court of Justice and arrangements that will mean austerity budgets and impossible targets for the foreseeable future-an estimated €5 Billion in cuts every year on top of the cuts planned already. The FG/Labour government tried their hardest to deny the Irish people a say on this treaty. The Treaty states that these arrangements would be binding, permanent and preferably constitutional. The word preferably was inserted to enable the Irish Government try to avoid a referendum; despite the majority of people in Ireland (72%) wanting a referendum.

A NO vote in Ireland would strengthen democracy in Europe. Currently unelected ‘technocrats’ rule at the behest of the ECB and the bankers in two European parliaments – Greece and Italy.

A NO vote in Ireland would hasten the end of the rule of unelected bankers throughout Europe. We reject any blackmail by the government on this treaty.

A NO vote does not mean an immediate withdrawal from the euro or from the EU – it simply means that we reject a Europe where bankers and bondholders come first.

Previous governments and the current government parties blackmailed voters with threats that voting NO in the Lisbon Treaty would mean job losses when in fact it was the policies enshrined in that treaty and pushed by those parties that fuelled the crazy speculative boom. The experience of Greece shows that a policy of cuts, austerity and deepening neo-liberalism is a failure and makes the crisis worse. The ULA is confident that the Irish people will see through any government blackmail and vote NO in this referendum. Ireland has a proud record of standing up to the bullying of European bureaucrats, we will do so again.

In a statement this afternoon, People Before Profit/ULA TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, welcomed the announcement by the Taoiseach and Tanaiste that there will be a referendum on the Fiscal Treaty.

The constitution has forced the government to allow the people a vote on austerity.

Richard Boyd Barrett is the organiser of Enough, a group that has been campaigning for a referendum on the EU/IMF Deal for well over a year.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said: “It is certainly a step in the right direction for democracy that a referendum has been announced. This is the chance for peopl to vote on the whole austerity agenda. A major campaign for a no vote will start now and we will be announcing further details in the next few days.

Today (Feb 23rd 2012) Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett TD challenged the Minister of Education & Skills Ruairi Quinn on his recent DEIS cuts & on his decision to implement the proposed cuts elsewhere in the education Budget during Priority Questions in the Dail.

In a statement today, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, described the government’s new labour activation scheme, Pathways to Work, as just another stick to beat unemployed people with and a way of reducing the numbers on the live register while producing no real savings or real new employment.

This kind of Labour Activation rests on the premise that unemployed people do not want to work. In the Celtic Tiger Ireland had almost full employment, a fact that proves that people want to work, earn money and participate in society.

The stated aim of Pathways to Work is to reduce unemployment and shorten the length of time that people spend on the live register. The easiest way of doing this is to invest in serious job creation programmes that will carry out much needed public works like school building programmes and water infrastructure repair projects.

This would allow people to work and earn money which would then be spent in the economy to call a halt to the downward spiral we are in.

Instead, the government has come up with a plan that will see people who have lost their jobs hounded into work for at best €20 a week on top of their Jobseekers payment.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said: “The Pathways to Work initiative is a disgrace. All through the Celtic Tiger people in Ireland were working in one, two or even three jobs. Now the Government is trying to blame unemployed people for not working, when in reality it is their own policies of austerity that mean that nearly half a million are on the Live Register.”

“The new schemes to get people back to work are actually just about massaging the live register figures. If someone takes up a TUS placement or is on work experience or in training they will be deemed to not be on the live register even though they will be relying almost entirely on Social Welfare Payments.”

“The new document talks about a “tougher approach to activation”. The best way to “activate” people is to create real jobs rather than returning to the dark days of the 1980’s and AnCo where people were forced to do training courses for jobs that did not exist.”

“It’s also ironic that this new scheme is coming at the expense of 12,000 jobs in the community sector announced yesterday by SIPTU. Many of these jobs were done by Lone Parents who are now being pushed out of meaningful work to be replaced by TUS participants getting €20 a week.”

Greek ‘bailout’ will not avert Eurozone-wide depression

In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett, TD for the People Before Profit Alliance and Finance spokesperson for the United Left Alliance, said that it was now clear that the Taoiseach had lied about the design of the Fiscal Treaty when he denied that it had been worded in such a way so as to avoid a referendum. Mr. Boyd Barrett expressed shock that “the Taoiseach would lie to the people in such a blatant manner”. The ULA TD also commented on the latest figures which show the Eurozone economy contracting further despite the so-called ‘bailout’ of Greece. Deputy Boyd Barrett warned that what we are witnessing in Greece may soon visit Ireland if people do not organise and resist the austerity measures being imposed here.

He was commenting in light of the European Commission forecast of a recession in the Eurozone, and in the light of new surveys of purchasing managers published last week which showed unexpectedly weak activity in the Eurozone’s largest economies, Germany and France. The Markit Eurozone Composite Flash PMI fell to 49.7 in February – below the 50 line that divides growth from contraction. The eurozone services PMI fell to 49.4, missing even the lowest forecast given in a Reuters poll of 44 economists whose predictions averaged a rise to 50.6. Economists reckon the eurozone PMI suggests no growth in the current quarter, demonstrating that the EU economy is contracting.

Richard Boyd Barrett said: “The revelation by the German Minister for European Affairs that the Fiscal Compact Treaty was designed and worded in such a manner as to avoid giving the people a choice on the matter through a referendum does not come as a surprise since I, and others, had questioned the Taoiseach precisely on this point. The shocking aspect about the German Minister’s revelation is that our Taoiseach lied through his teeth when responding to that question.”

“It is outrageous that the leader of the government in whose hands the future of this country lies does not see fit to tell the truth to the people in his own country. It makes you wonder what else this government is lying about. It is even worse that the government is conspiring with EU leaders to subvert democracy and impose a treaty of permanent austerity when all the evidence indicates that austerity is a disastrous failure.” Continue reading

Today student teachers from the Colleges of Education joined with newly qualified teachers and took to the streets in protest at the threat to teacher allowances. Students Teachers and Newly Qualified Teachers marched to Dáil Eireann in a show of protest at threats to allowances to teachers. The Department of Education suspended payment of allowances to new teachers and others taking up additional posts from February 1st, pending a public service wide review of allowances being conducted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

A pay cut of 10% coupled with moving new entrants on to the first point of the pay-scale saw new teachers entering the classroom in 2011 receive a salary 14 per cent lower than those starting work before austerity measures were introduced across the public sector. This comes on top of the general public sector pay reduction and pension levy introduced in previous years.

In all, new entrants stand to earn up to 25 per cent less than those who began teaching two years ago. The education sector has been under constant attack right through from the Fianna Fail led government until now, exposing the myth that a Fine Gael-Labour government meant a move away from the old way. This government have continued to pursue the failed austerity politics of the previous government.

Speaking today Richard Boyd Barrett TD, United Left Alliance spokesperson on Education said: “It is an utter disgrace that having decimated the salaries of young teachers over the last 4 years that the government again threatens the pay of newly qualified teachers “The clear lesson from yesterday’s climb-down by the Minister of Education, Ruairi Quinn on disadvantaged school cuts is that people power works. Today will see many young teachers take to the streets in anger at these proposals.”

There is a growing anger against this government over the attacks in education. The student teacher protest marks another significant stand against the government’s austerity agenda, which seeks to punish ordinary workers to pay for the unsustainable gambling debts of the bankers and bondholders”.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD, United Left Alliance, education spokesperson today welcomed the government climb down on the proposed cuts to DEIS schools.

The Minister for Education has been forced into a total climb down over the so-called legacy posts in DEIS schools. It constitutes a massive victory for teachers and parents in areas served by DEIS schools. By mobilising in such great numbers to protect their children’s education, they exposed the incompetence of the Minister and the lack of forethought with which decisions are taken that can potentially devastate lives. Austerity and slashing Budgets takes precedent over justice and fairness. Yet again the interests of bondholder bailouts is a prioritised over the needs of our children and our education system as a whole. Rather than abandoning his intention to implement savage cuts on education completely, the Minister has just shifted the cuts elsewhere.

While DEIS legacy posts have been restored, many non-DEIS schools will lose badly needed resources. The changes to the General Allocation Model and EAL will mean loss of posts and teaching hours for many schools, there’s little in the Minister’s announcement for small schools who face savage cuts and the cuts announced in the capitation grant will have a major impact in schools across the country. Without increased investment in support roles in schools, the Minister cannot expect to build on improvements in literacy and numeracy in our schools. Schools themselves have initiated highly successful programmes like Power Hour and Reading Recovery and teachers have been very clear that all these programmes will be put in jeopardy by cutting staffing. The huge meetings by teachers and parents in small schools across the country are a clear indication that education will remain a huge issue for the foreseeable future.

Continue reading

SIPTU calls on the Government to suspend the Household Charge, calling it unfair and regressive. The decision was taken by the union’s National Executive Council.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD, United Left Alliance responds to SIPTU call on Household Charge on RTE News, Friday 17th February 2012

Richard Boyd Barrett TD this afternoon welcomes the statement from the National Executive Council of SIPTU, Ireland’s largest union, calling on the Government to drop the household charge.

The charge which begins at €100 a year will not remain a fixed charge. The aim – according to the Commission on Taxation – is to impose a charge of €563 on the average house. After 2014, the water tax will be added to this – giving a combined charge of around €1,000 a year. The is a flat tax being imposed on people already struggling to pay rent, pay mortgages and scrape money together for basics like utlilities and in many cases food.

The government propaganda would have us believe that the money will pay for services and public sector wages. The truth is that the Government is going to pay out 3.1 billion euros in March with the Anglo Promissory note and any money collected from this charge will not go into services. The opposite is true as the Government has slashed essential community, health and disability services.

The mood in the country is one of mass movement of opposition with hundreds of people attending meetings and protests around the country and only 6% of households have registered to pay. Richard Boyd Barrett TD said, “By not registering to pay people are sending a very strong message to the FG-Labour government that enough is enough. In meetings around the country from Killarney to Killliney the anger is growing against austerity policies”. “SIPTU’s call on the government today to drop this charge is further evidence of the growing discontent”

A cross section of TDs have issued a statement calling on Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore to issue a public statement in relation to Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan, calling for the prisoner’s release or, if there is any evidence against the prisoner, for the prisoner to be afforded a fair trial.

 Khader Adnan has been on hunger strike continuously for 61 days and is now in “immediate danger of death”, according to his doctor and according to Physicians for Human Rights Israel[i]. He is being held in a hospital with an opposing arm and leg shackled to the bed. Khader Adnan was arrested on December 17th and given a four month administrative detention sentence without an official charge against him.

 Palestinians are routinely arrested under so-called “administrative detention” by which Israel can hold them without trial for a six month period. At the end of that period the Israeli state can extend administrative detention without giving reasons for why it is doing so. According to international law, administrative detention can be used only in the most exceptional cases, as the last means available for preventing danger that cannot be thwarted otherwise. Israel’s use of administrative detention violates these restrictions and denies detainees the possibility of mounting a proper defense. Israel is currently holding 307 Palestinians in administrative detention in facilities run by the Israel Prison Service. 132 of these prisoners are minors under the age of 18[ii].

Khader Adnan’s internal organs have begun to fail. If he dies he will be leaving behind a pregnant wife and two small children.

 The undersigned TDs urge the Tánaiste to make a public statement calling for either the immediate release of Khader Adnan or for him to be allowed a trial with due process as is required under international law.


Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Joe Higgins TD, Clare Daly TD, Joan Collins TD, Luke Flanagan TD,Mick Wallace TD,Thomas Pringle TD,Gerry Adams TD,Mary Lou McDonald TD,Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD,Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD,Michael Colreavy TD,Seán Crowe TD,Pearse Doherty TD,Dessie Ellis TD,Martin Ferris TD,Sandra McLellan TD,Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD,Jonathan O’Brien TD,Brian Stanley TD,Peadar Tóibín TD,Patrick Nulty TD