Joe Higgins column

The most open challenge yet to this government’s policies

The rejection by public sector workers of the proposals in the Croke Park 2 agreement that would further savage their incomes and conditions is hugely significant in that it demonstrates that people’s tolerance to austerity is running out fast and that has very serious political implications for the government.

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A plague on all their houses & a tax on ours

"In sooth I know not why I am so sad./ It wearies me, you say it wearies you;/ but how I caught it, found it or came by it / What stuff tis made of whereof it is born,/ I am to learn." So opens Shakespeare’s "Merchant of Venice" with the character Antonio experiencing what we might call today an attack of the blues.

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Past and present crimes

A strange paradox emerges in the posture struck by the political and media establishment in response to two major issues dominating the news over the past two weeks – the treatment of women in the Magdalen Laundries and the continuation of the saga of the former Anglo Irish Bank.

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Austerity 2013 must be met with mass organised resistance

As another year draws to an end and the next appears on the horizon, social and political activists will try to analyse the significance of what has passed and sketch the rough contours of what lies ahead. The truth is that, while 2013 will no doubt bring surprises, the main economic and political developments will trace their roots to what has been sown and society will reap accordingly. Unfortunately that means, not healthy new shoots signalling a significant renewal, but a continuation of the stunted features to which we have sadly become accustomed though not reconciled.

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Privatisation lies behind Minister for Health scandal

There is only one real scandal involved in the issues surrounding Health Minister James Reilly’s problems arising from his investment in a private nursing home in County Tipperary. It is not because his name is in Stubbs Gazette as a debtor nor is it being in a financial conflict with those who invested with him in this project in 2010. The scandal is that the care of our elderly people in this State should be seen as a commercial opportunity for profit making through speculative investments by private commercial companies and individuals. An that this should be supported by massive tax breaks for wealthy investors.

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No vote can be part of European anti-austerity movement

‘Take the gun out of Irish politics!.’ This was the refrain of the establishment political parties for the last third of the Twentieth Century, meaning that people should be free from any threats when it came to deciding structures governing the future of this island. These are the very same parties which are now holding an economic and political weapon to the heads of the Irish people to coerce them into voting ‘Yes’ to their austerity Treaty on May 31.

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Natural step from boycotting home taxes to opposing the Austerity Treaty

Ordinary people in this State can make a stunning statement that will reverberate throughout Europe by voting No to the Austerity Treaty on 31 May. A rejection of the treaty here would massively increase the pressure for a change to the disastrous austerity policies of slash and burn, that are destroying millions of  livelihoods and society itself in countries from Greece to Ireland.

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Mahon Report exposes endemic corruption in Irish politics

The massive opposition across the State to the Household Tax has featured prominently in the media in recent days. Over the next while, the Mahon Tribunal Report that will feature strongest. What should not be lost sight of is that there is a strong connection between the two issues.

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Criminal policies of privatisation

The decision by the government to sell off €3 billion worth of state assets is arguably the most economically and socially criminal of the many criminal policies implemented in this State over the past three years in the interest of salvaging the financial system in Europe from the consequences of the speculative activities of its big players. It is the wrong policy at any time but most especially at a time of major crisis in the Irish economy due to a collapse of demand and a related collapse in private investment in job creation.

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More cuts to education for children, yet more bailouts for bondholders

Last week thousands of parents, teachers and pupils staged a passionate demonstration at the Department of Education in Dublin. They were from schools benefiting from the programme known as ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools’ or DEIS which was designed to counter the many ill effects on children living in areas of high unemployment and poverty.

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