Monday, April 20, 2009

Joint Statement CPI and CPB

The Communist Party of Ireland and the Communist Party of Britain held a bilateral meeting in Belfast on 18 April 2009.

At the top of the agenda for both parties was closer co-operation in relation to strengthening the peace process and our response to the growing and deepening crisis of state-monopoly capitalism globally.

In relation to the peace process, both parties reaffirm their support for the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements as the only basis from which progress could be advanced and secured. Both parties see the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement as the only basis at present available from which to advance the legitimate and democratic demand for a united Ireland.

Both parties recognise that the return to military methods of struggle is and can only be a retreat into a cul-de-sac, inevitably resulting in death, suffering and further division and hinders the necessary political struggles that are required to secure and advance the social, economic and national-democratic aspirations of the Irish people.

Both parties support the demand for the decommissioning of all Loyalist paramilitary weapons. The two parties share the belief that there is a need for further demilitarisation and for the removal from the north of Ireland of all British military personnel, including all British intelligence agencies.

Despite its weaknesses and shortcomings the Belfast Agreement represents the best framework and opportunity for developing and building cross-community reconciliation.

The two parties recognise the important role of the trade union movement in this process. Both parties support the demand for the maximum economic, social and political co-operation between the two parts of Ireland and for the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement. On the deepening crisis of monopoly capitalism, the two parties share a common understanding of the nature of the crisis.

As well as sharing experiences of successes and difficulties in the present conditions, it is agreed that mobilising working-class forces in the defence of their wages and conditions as well as advancing their own class political demands is essential.

The two parties have a common understanding of the imperialist nature of the European Union and call for support for candidates in the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament who oppose further EU integration with its neo-liberal and militarist agenda and who uphold the principles of democratic accountability and popular sovereignty. In Britain this means support for the “NO2EU - Yes to Democracy” platform.

In relation to the Lisbon Treaty, both parties condemn the decision of the Irish Government to abrogate the democratic decision of the Irish people in June 2008 to reject the treaty in a democratic vote. They call upon working people and other democratic forces to once again resoundingly reject this treaty and to rebuff the pressure from the EU Commission and other EU institutions to break their opposition to the ever-deepening EU integration promoted by those bodies.

The two parties share grave reservations about the approach of some communist parties in relation to the Party of the European Left as moving towards a political consensus for the acceptance of the European Union with its pro-big business, imperialist agenda. It is the feeling of both parties that this is not the best way forward for the working class of the EU member-states.

Both parties express their continuing solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and call for intensified action in support of Cuba, both material and political, for support for Cuba's continuing efforts to rebuild after the hurricanes, and for support in the campaign to break the US blockade. Both acknowledge that the Cuban people and their revolution are in the front line of the struggle against imperialism and reaffirm their demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the Miami Five from their US prisons.

As well as solidarity with Cuba, both parties express their solidarity with and support for the continuing radical national-democratic transformations with an underlying anti-imperialist thrust now under way in a number of countries of Latin America.

Both parties condemn the imposition by the state of Israel of a form of apartheid on the people of Palestine. They call for an end to the acquiescence in this criminal policy by the Irish and British governments and the European Union and fully support the campaign for a boycott of Israeli goods, disinvestment from Israel and an end to all Irish and British institutional links with the repressive apparatus of the Israeli state.. We reaffirm our support for full reproductive rights for women throughout Ireland as well as in Britain, including the right to contraception and abortion.

The Communist Party of Ireland and the Communist Party of Britain call for greater solidarity and enhanced co-operation between all communist and workers’ parties at this time in leading the struggle against imperialism.

Eugene Mc Cartan Communist Party of Ireland
Robert Griffith Communist Party of Britain

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oak Leaf Tradition

A Chara, Revive Oak Leaf Tradition

I am sure many readers, like me, remember from our more youthful years that on the feast day of St. Colmcille, June 9th, many people would display an oak leaf on their hat or coat to mark the occasion. Sadly, this age-old local custom seems to have completely disappeared, and in my opinion should be revived if for no other reason than to help people much worse off than ourselves.

Anyone who has studied the life of Colmcille soon becomes aware that he was much more than merely a religious figure. Although born into a Donegal family of the Gaelic nobility he was very much of the people, and for the people. He took many a stand for the underdogs of his day. Noteworthy is a claim by some historians that such contributed to his banishment from Derry to the island of Iona.

His active solidarity was shown to travelling groups of writers, poets, lobbyists and orators known as The Bards. They bravely and frequently upset what were then their ruling elites. The ‘politicians’ of those days were being exposed by satire and verse and therefore wished to deny them much more than their freedom of speech. Hanging was too good for them was the opinion of many of those with vested interests who feared such justified public exposure.

The very name Derry is an English-translation of Doire, meaning the Oak Grove, then an island, whereon Colmcille built his first church, monastery and long tower. From the underdogs’ point of view it therefore seemed highly appropriate in 1968 that the oak leaf was adopted as the symbol of the civil rights movement. It was designed by Mrs. Sheila McClean, whose husband was actively engaged in the struggles associated with the Derry Citizens’ Action Committee. In more recent days the Bogside Artists have interwoven the oak leak and the dove against a backcloth and patchwork of diverse colours representing the diversity that makes up humanity. This wall mural, part of The People’s Gallery, has appropriately become an international and iconic symbol for peace based on social justice.

I think that if Colmcille were amongst us to-day he would again be supporting the underdog and would be telling our local bards to be more vocal, regardless of the inherent dangers or whom it may offend within our supposedly caring ‘establishment’. No doubt he would be highly disgusted to learn that homeless people, not least young and older alcoholics, are exposed to the elements, apparently unseen and unheard, even in the depth of the winter darkness.

Hopefully, there is at least one local charity which shares this concern of many citizens. Therefore, may I suggest that we revive the wearing of the oak leaf to help these very unfortunate souls? A few stalls on Guildhall Square and boxes of plain pins, and trays wouldn’t require too much effort. Churches, supermarkets and other venues could be cordially requested to grant permission to raise funds to promote this worthy cause. Of course every effort should be made not to cause any damage to any oak tree, which unlike some of our reactionary politicians is environmentally friendly. Paper ‘oak leaves’ bearing the name of any one or more charities could be printed prior to their public sale. A collective cross-community strategy would be desirable. I am sure there are few people who wouldn’t donate 50 pence or even a pound or euro to purchase an oak leaf, even if they decided not to wear it. However, I am sure the majority would be proud to do so and display the fact that they too are deeply concerned at past and more recent sad deaths on our streets caused mainly by hypothermia. Many ‘veteran’ community workers like me, do firmly believe, that like Colmcille most Derry folk are caring people. But then, maybe, because the ‘forgotten’; homeless and alcoholics are involved, I and others similarly concerned will be proved wrong on that score?

If Derry were to give such a lead similar charities in other towns and cities might well follow our humane example. Thus the symbol of the oak leaf would not merely be confined to the realms of faith, but hope and charity as well.

Is Mise,
Le Meas,

Fionnbarra O’Dochartaigh,
Former secretary,
Derry Housing Action Committee

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not a word about the blockade

Reflections by comrade Fidel

Not A Word About The Blockade

The U.S. administration announced through CNN that Obama would be visiting Mexico this week, in the first part of a trip that will take him to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, where he will be within four days taking part in the Summit of the Americas. He has announced the relief of some hateful restrictions imposed by Bush to Cubans living in the United States regarding their visits to relatives in Cuba. When questions were raised on whether such prerogatives extended to other American citizens the response was that the latter were not authorized.

But not a word was said about the harshest of measures: the blockade. This is the way a truly genocidal measure is piously called, one whose damage cannot be calculated only on the basis of its economic effects, for it constantly takes human lives and brings painful suffering to our people.

Numerous diagnostic equipment and crucial medicines --made in Europe, Japan or any other country-- are not available to our patients if they carry U.S. components or software.

The U.S. companies producing goods or offering services anywhere in the world should apply these restrictions to Cuba, since they are extraterritorial measures.

An influential Republican Senator, Richard Lugar, and some others from his same party in Congress, as well as a significant number of his Democratic peers, favor the removal of the blockade. The conditions exist for Obama to use his talents in a constructive policy that could put an end to the one that has failed for almost half a century.

On the other hand, our country, which has resisted and is willing to resist whatever it takes, neither blames Obama for the atrocities of other U.S. administrations nor doubts his sincerity and his wishes to change the United States policy and image. We understand that he waged a very difficult battle to be elected, despite centuries-old prejudices.

Taking note of this reality, the President of the State Council of Cuba has expressed his willingness to have a dialogue with Obama and to normalize relations with the United States, on the basis of the strictest respect for the sovereignty of our country.

At 2:30 p.m., the head of the Interests Section of Cuba in Washington, Jorge Bolaños, was summoned to the State Department by Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Shannon. He did not say anything different from what had been indicated by the CNN.

At 3:15 p.m. a lengthy press conference started. The substance of what was said there is reflected in the words of Dan Restrepo, Presidential Adviser for Latin America.

He said that today President Obama had instructed to take certain measures, certain steps, to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their wishes to live with respect for human rights and to determine their own destiny and that of the country.

He added that the president had instructed the secretaries of State, Commerce and Treasury to undertake the necessary actions to remove all restrictions preventing persons to visit their relatives in the Island and sending remittances. He also said that the president had issued instructions for steps to be taken allowing the free flow of information in Cuba, and between those living in Cuba and the rest of the world, and to facilitate delivering humanitarian resources directly to the Cuban people.

He also said that with these measures, aimed at closing the gap between divided Cuban families and promoting the free flow of information and humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people, President Obama was making an effort to fulfill the objectives he set out during his campaign and after taking on his position.

Finally, he indicated that all those who believe in the basic democratic values hope for a Cuba where the human, political, economic and basic rights of the entire people are respected. And he added that President Obama feels that these measures will help to make this objective a reality. The president, he said, encourages everyone who shares these wishes to continue to decidedly support the Cuban people.

At the end of the press conference, the adviser candidly confessed that ‘all of this is for Cuba’s freedom.’

Cuba does not applaud the ill-named Summits of the Americas, where our nations do not debate on equal footing. If they were of any use, it would be to make critical analyses of policies that divide our peoples, plunder our resources and hinder our development.

Now, the only thing left is for Obama to try to persuade all of the Latin American presidents attending the conference that the blockade is harmless.

Cuba has resisted and it will continue to resist; it will never beg for alms. It will go on forward holding its head up high and cooperating with the fraternal peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean; with or without Summits of the Americas; whether or not the president of the United States is Obama, a man or a woman, a black or a white citizen.

Fidel Castro Ruz
April 13, 2009
6:12 p.m.

CYM call on two ministers to resign

Sammy Wilson and Iris Robinson must resign!

Following the end of the Troubles and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement progressive people in Northern Ireland and across the island had hoped that the space would be opened up for the development of a popular consciousness, that we might be able to use the end of sectarian violence and the re-establishment of devolved government to advance the interests of the working class and other progressive forces.

In recent months comments and decisions made by Iris Robinson and Sammy Wilson of the DUP have shown that partitioned Ireland remains, as James Connolly predicted, a “carnival of reaction”.

Iris Robinson’s remarks that reduce homosexuality to an illness are nothing more than crass bigotry founded on a religious fundamentalism that is totally alien to secular politics. Sammy Wilson’s decision, meanwhile, to prevent the broadcasting of an advertising campaign warning of the dangers of climate change and his insistence that there can be some doubt as to the link between climate change and human economic activity show not only the reactionary nature of the DUP but also display the ignorance of the people we are governed by. Both Iris Robinson and Sammy Wilson should be sacked for their behaviour, yet it is clear that there is not only insufficient will within the political establishment to make this happen, there is also a lack of inclination.

Since its beginning, the power sharing government here has been dominated by thereactionary agenda of the DUP whilst Sinn Fein has happily sat back content merely to be in office, without any clue what to do now that they have it. The Connolly Youth Movement still believes that the Good Friday Agreement is the best possible arrangement available under the current conditions, but we also feel that the progressive potential of the Agreement will not be realised until ordinary people intervene to stop any further reactionary measures being taken.

It is to this end that we are calling for a campaign to pressure the DUP to disavow the actions of these ministers and to call for their resignation.

Connolly Youth Movement
Belfast Branch
PO Box 85
Belfast BT1 1SR

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dracula budget sucks blood from workers

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
7 April 2009

The budget presented by the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, is a Dracula budget, designed to suck the blood from workers so as to give a transfusion to bankers, stockbrokers, tax-avoiders, and property speculators. These parasites will all sleep well and will be celebrating the fact that their interests have been well looked after by “their government.”

The budget has all the hallmarks of being constructed within the narrow neo-liberal mindset of the Department of Finance, the EU Commission, and the European Central Bank.

Those people and institutions that bear a heavy responsibility for the present financial crisis, as distinct from the general crisis of global capitalism, will be the net beneficiaries of this budget.

The establishment of the National Asset Management Agency to buy the bad debts of the banks is nothing more than a means of shifting the burden of debt from those individuals and institutions that created the crisis onto the backs of working people. The Government is sacrificing the future of the country and lumbering future generations of workers and their children with massive debts in order to maintain the political and economic status quo. This approach is to give a blank cheque to the financial backers of Fianna Fáil.

Working people will see their living standards reduced; they will be saddled with increased levies; and from 1 May the early child-care supplement will be halved and by the end of the year abolished. In addition, child benefit will be means-tested or even taxed in the budget for 2010, and the Christmas bonus will not be paid.

There were no original ideas for creating a single job or for stemming the avalanche of job losses. The natural resources of the country will remain in foreign corporate hands.

Instead of propping up bad banks we need to establish a state-owned and state-controlled National Development Bank and to concentrate capital to begin the necessary reorientation of national development towards an economy centred on the needs of our people.

Friday, April 3, 2009

60 years of NATO aggression

The month of April of 2009 brings the 60th anniversary of one of the most significant tools of imperialism: NATO.

Over the first fifty years of existence, NATO always played a very relevant role supporting the imperialist field, both at national and international level. The support to the colonialist wars of Portugal and France, as well as the sabotage of the Italian revolutionary forces, the support to the dictatorships imposed to the peoples of Latin America and the split of the Cyprus, are strong signs of the political line of NATO.

The bombing of Yugoslavia, in 1999, was, in a way, a dark celebration of the 50 years of NATO and a putting in practice the fresh new principles agreed by the imperialist forces gathered in NATO, in triumphalism and desire to destroy all those that would not submit to their imperialist intents. More than 2,000 civilians have been killed and more than 7,500 wounded. The bombing was indiscriminate, killing farmers, suburbanites, city dwellers, factory workers, reporters, diplomats, people in cars, busses and trains, hospital patients, the elderly and children.

In the present time, the goal is clear: to implement their interests and policies at any place in the world and at the same time to control or depress any country or other force that might be a danger to them. USA and NATO are increasing its military presence in the area of the Eastern Europe by building the “anti-missile shield” in the borders of Russia, inside the borders of the fresh new members of NATO, which reflect the intra-imperialist rivalries, that are evolving between NATO and up growing forces such as Russia, aiming at, above all, the control of the sources and pipelines of oil and natural gas. The Caucasus, Balkan and East Europe regions are becoming a hot zone of NATO/US-Russian competition, entailing new dangers of a more general conflagration in these regions. Under these conditions, the US and NATO are deploying new missiles in Europe; while the US fomented the Georgian offensive against South Ossetia in August 2008 that provoked the response by Russia.

Moreover, during last years it became more obvious that NATO and EU are unions serving the same interests. So it should not be any illusion that the militarisation of EU by building the EURO–army is a positive step for people that could stop NATO aggressiveness. Besides EU members are also NATO members. EU often undertakes the “dirty work” of NATO, as it was proved in the case of the dissolution of Yugoslavia and now in the case of the declaration of independence of Kosovo. The creation of the Euro-army, the next step of CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) of the EU, and its close collaboration with the NATO that is provided from the outset, confirms this point in our view.

WFDY calls upon all its member and friend organizations to struggle against NATO and its new expansion, the “anti-missile shield”, NATO bases and changes of borders, against the participation in the so-called “peacekeeping missions” (no matter how they will be called in the future) in Caucasus or elsewhere in the world, against all obligations deriving from the participation in NATO and the EU that engage each country militarily directly or indirectly, against the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan , Iraq , Balkan countries or elsewhere will continue and will be victorious.

We are sure that with our struggle we will win, building a world free of imperialism, where the welfare of Humanity is the center of all policies, where the access to education, employment and labour rights, culture, sports, health, enviromental protection, international solidarity, friendship and cooperation of the Earth will be the foundations of a world free of imperialism!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

WFDY Statement - Tunisia

Several activists of the General Union of the Tunisian Students were suspended from their studies earlier in February because of their struggles in the students unions for better condition of education and student democratic rights. Later on, after a general strike in the universities, many students were expelled out of their studies and 3 of them went into jail under convictions of disturbing the security and causing violence in the universities. Now, a total of 30 students are under threat of persecution. As an action of protest, many of the members entered in an open hunger strike till the release of their companions.

The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) salutes the student movement in Tunisia, especially those who sacrificed their personal studies and insisted on the rights of young people in proper education and under proper conditions.

WFDY also condemns the policies of fear spread by the Tunisian government in order to prevent students from organizing and prohibit the union movement of the students.

WFDY calls on all of its members to show solidarity with the student movement in Tunisia and try to organize activities and statements in solidarity with the persecuted and expelled students.

WFDY reasserts its position in the right of youth, including students to organize in union and organizations in order to struggle for the right of public education for all the young people, and with the democratic rights of organization and political freedoms of the youth in Tunisia and worldwide.

We will follow up with concrete solidarity actions in the upcoming weeks as one more moment of common struggle and international solidarity.