A WAR ON TEACHERS? The risk of Covid transmission is schools may be being downplayed, but not everyone is assured, and understandably. Forgotten Families Ireland have children among them that cannot attend school, because of concern for vulnerable parents or siblings at home. Very concerning is the attitude to teachers when they are pregnant, as are basic issues like properly equipping and ventilating schools. I raised these issues with Varadkar today. We have to keep up the pressure – would you bet on FFG promises?

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To seriously tackle domestic violence we have to understand its social roots It’s not just a question of individual bad men – it is a product of society that for many centuries has treated women as second or third class citizens, and worse has regarded them as the ‘property’ of men, in particular seeing wives as the property of their husbands. And in a society based on the idea that the rights of private property are sacred we all know that you can do what you want with your property. For decades the state, the courts and the police, have turned a blind eye to violence experienced by women and children under the cover of the well-known phrase “Its only a domestic dispute”. Those days are over now, while around the world women are saying not only “me too” but “no more”. So why don’t they leave? Is the reaction of many people when they hear of the abuse of a woman (mostly it is women, but sometimes men). Fear is one reason, the fear that if they don’t succeed in getting away from the abuser, it will be all the worse for them. And they are right – research shows that some of the most horrific cases of violence are against those who try to leave. But a huge factor is that THEY HAVE NOWHERE TO GO. Ireland has around a quarter of the recommended places of safety for women and children. The situation has become worse during the pandemic – around 2,000 women and 400 children each month since March, seeking refuge from a violent situation. The fact that support for vulnerable women and children is left to charities, is a disgrace. The State should, and could, adequately fund the essential services of providing refuge and support for such women. The fact that they don’t is reminiscent of the Magdalen institutions where the State also wiped it’s hands of responsibility. Shame on successive governments that allow this situation to continue.

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We had for a time, before the recession, useful programs and projects in our communities through what was called ‘Community Development’. And it worked, especially in poor working class communities – Senator Eileen Flynn is an example, having come up through that route in the Traveler community in Ballyfermot. But then came the cuts – so’s the banks could be bailed out – and our Community Development Programmes were cuts 35% to 41%, compared with 7% cuts to other areas. We now have 19 projects gone and remaining projects mostly look to ‘work activation’ not addressing deeper community needs. Shame on the successive governments who oversaw this disservice to the most needy communities– FF FG Greens and Labour

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Over the last 20 years, Irish workers lost out more than any other European workers, in our share of the ‘National Cake’. In 1995, 55% of the national output went on wages, by 2015 it was down to 44% (OECD figures). And you can see where it’s going with Covid – less for us, and again, more for them. Productivity up 13% for workers working from home. And still no statutory rights to UNION RECOGNITION or SICK PAY. Workers need serious regulatory protection, but we’re not going to get it from FFG’s are we? The change we voted for is SO needed..

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I put questions to Minister Coveney – again – about the appalling pay and conditions that our defence forces have to endure, and crucially, why PDFORRA are not permitted to be part of the ICTU where public sector pay is negotiated. I sense a change in attitude, hinted at, if not committed to, by Simon Coveney, with regard to #PDFORRA and the ICTU. His change of tone comes towards the end of this video, from today’s Dáil proceedings. Keep after him lads (and lasses!) !!

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I spoke last week in the Brexit debate in the Dáil, but felt I had to first address the ridiculous proposition being peddled by our establishment that somehow Biden and the EU hot shots are the friends of ordinary Irish people. They are not – they are simply champions of the capitalist class in their own countries, and will use the Brexit debate to further their interests, not ours. I also spoke about role of the border and how poorly served are ordinary Protestant workers by the vile bigotry and extreme right-wing politics of the DUP. James Connolly was so right – “..a carnival of reaction…” is what he predicted by the establishment of the border – how well we see that being played out in everything from responses to Covid, to the current Brexit debates.

 

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I raised concerns about the aviation industry in the Dáil today, in the context of an amendment to proposed policy changes concerning the industry. FOR SHEER BRASS NECK, AVIATION BOSSES TAKE THE CAKE! Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair workers have been treated disgracefully by management who have taken the opportunity the Covid crisis presented, to sack union activists, slash working conditions and generally put the boot into staff. And all the while, demanding increased state aid to the industry and challenging public health measures. They rail against policies that acknowledge the to tackle #ClimateChange, and in the midst of it all, the Irish Govt make a former Ryanair boss, CEO of the Irish Aviation Authority. Former poacher turned game-keeper? I don’t think so.

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