October 2011        


Referendum on the ESM

■ The following letter was sent to newspapers by twenty-seven members of the Dáil and Seanad.
The Government in the coming months will seek to push through the Oireachtas an amendment to one of the two Treaties on which the EU is based authorising the establishment of a permanent Eurozone fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and the ratification of the Treaty between the 17 States that are members of the Eurozone to actually establish the fund.
     The Treaty, which has already been signed but not yet ratified, commits the Irish State to “irrevocably and unconditionally” contribute €11 billion in various forms of capital to the ESM when it is established in 2013 and possibly further sums after that at the behest of Eurozone Finance Ministers when contributions come up for regular review. This will have to be borrowed on the international market.
     Weaker economies like Ireland would have to put up cash immediately to cover any shortfall of paid-in capital that might arise while triple-A-rated economies like Germany and France would be put under less financial pressure by being able to fulfil their obligations by way of guarantees.
     Assistance from the ESM will only be given on the basis of “strict conditionality”—these conditions being unspecified and potentially unlimited. If the Irish State were to receive loans or grants or favourable borrowing facilities from the ESM, these conditions could require the introduction of a balanced budget constitutional amendment or dropping the objection to the harmonisation of corporate taxes at EU level.
     The Treaty formally subordinates Ireland’s interests to those of “the stability of the euro area as a whole,” yet there has been an almost total media blackout on the implications and consequences of the ESM for the country.
     The support of Fianna Fail for the Government action has further contributed to the managed nature of the whole process.
     The ESM is part of a package of measures that can only lead to fiscal union in the EU, beginning with stricter controls on budgets and public spending starting with the so-called Euro Plus Pact and soon moving on to a harmonising of taxes.
     We believe that the legislation to enable the State to license its establishment and ratify the Treaty setting it up should be put to the Irish people in a constitutional referendum and we urge the Government to let the people decide on this matter of crucial importance for the future of our country.

Yours faithfully,

Gerry Adams TD
Michael Colreavy TD
Seán Crowe TD
Senator David Cullinane
Clare Daly TD
Pearse Doherty TD
Dessie Ellis TD
Martin Ferris TD
Luke Ming Flanagan TD
Joe Higgins TD
Mary Lou McDonald TD
Finian McGrath TD
Mattie McGrath TD
Sandra McLellan TD
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD
Catherine Murphy TD
Paul Murphy MEP
Jonathan O’Brien TD
Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD
Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Maureen O’Sullivan TD
Thomas Pringle TD
Senator Kathryn Reilly
Brian Stanley TD
Peadar Tóibín TD
Mick Wallace TD

The presidential election

The president of Ireland is head of a corrupt, quisling state, a state run for the benefit of a narrow elite within the country and their banking, corporate and political peers without.
     My political goal is to see this status quo overturned and a 32-county democratic entity emerge in its place. I desire a progressive state, run by the people of Ireland for the people of Ireland. I am sick to the hind teeth of ordinary people subsidising the privilege of the few, and enraged by the inequality perpetrated by generation upon generation of gombeen politicians.
     This brings me neatly to the presidential election. For years there has been blather around presidential candidates “making a difference.” Damned if I can see the difference. With yawn and resignation I prepared to endure another blather-fest resulting in some sub-X Factor chinless wonder treating themselves to seven years of Viceregal luxury, private jet, and cucumber sandwiches on the lawn. I even felt a twinge of pity for the apes and vultures next door in the zoo being gifted more new neighbours of dubious background.
     Then along came Martin Mc Guinness. His entry to the election seems to have blown a very chill wind up the skirts of the establishment commentariat. Every time I turn on the news they seem to be tripping over themselves in expressions of outrage. Excellent! Anyone who upsets Kevin Myers has my attention. Then I heard that McGuinness will draw the average industrial wage if elected.
     Proper order. This seems to have the potential to be a small step in the right direction. Finally, to put the tin hat on it, I’ve endured several days of Blueshirt bile flow into my house from TV and radio outlining why McGuinness is not suitable for the role of president. These are the same clowns who would elevate Michael Collins to sainthood! I cannot stomach their insidious, anti-Northern, narrow, conservative, Free State mindset.
     Moreover, I am convinced that their bile is rooted in the threat to their comfort and privilege that McGuinness’s candidacy represents. How credible will it appear for them to draw a king’s ransom every month when the head of state is on the average industrial wage? This idea might have legs.
     I have to kick against these people and what they represent. I’m voting for McGuinness. His candidacy offers a small step towards the type of state I seek. I think we should support the most progressive candidate whenever we can, even when the office they seek is suspect. In this instance that means McGuinness.
     It’s a bonus that, should he get elected, it will drive the ladies and gents of the established media, politics and various golf clubs nuts. Go, Martin! I hope you get elected.

Kerry reader

Abuses in private nursing homes

Dear editor,
     I read your article on private care for the elderly.
     Leas Cross was not the only home involved in scandal. In one notorious case in 2005 at the Avondale Nursing Home, Callan, Co. Kilkenny, an elderly man—Henry Pollard, of Rathvilly, Co. Carlow—who had Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, died weeks after he was strapped to a chair and sustained severe burns from a radiator.
     He was under sedation while being burned, his inquest was told. The inquest, held in Cork Coroner’s Court, was told that he had burnt so severely that a layer of his skin was left stuck to the radiator.
     And, in a warning to whistle-blowers, five members of the staff, all SIPTU members, who raised concerns about the continuing ill-treatment of patients at that home were constructively dismissed in 2009. This June the director of Avondale Nursing Home, Miriam Holmes, failed to appear to offer any defence to the claims of constructive dismissal. According to some press reports, there are allegations that she and her daughter have fled the county amid a Garda inquiry into stolen money, medication and PPS cards from several residents.
     Finally, on 21 July the Health Information and Quality Authority secured an interim order cancelling the registration of the nursing home. The reason for the state’s closure of the home was “serious concerns over the well being of its residents,” according to the Irish Times.
     Meanwhile Kathleen Lynch (Labour Party), minister of state with responsibility for older people, has said that whistle-blower legislation “would happen.” She didn’t say when.

Dick Walsh

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