Peoples Dispatch talks to Jimmy Doran from the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI), about the various campaigns of the party and its intervention in the struggles of the Irish working class. Jimmy Doran is a member of the National Executive Committee of the CPI and a spokesperson on trade unions. In the first part of the interview we ask him about the People’s Dáil, the nurses agitation, reproductive rights in Ireland, rising homelessness, and the future of Ireland after Brexit.
Peoples Dispatch (PD): What is the significance of the People’s Dáil campaign in the context of the current political developments in Ireland? What are the major policy recommendations being proposed and discussed by the people in People’s Dáil?
Jimmy Doran (JD): In the context of the current political situation in Ireland, the Communist Party felt that it is very important to remember and commemorate the centenary of the convening of the First Dáil (Irish Parliament).
The democratic program of the First Dáil was a template to build a socialist republic in Ireland and bore no resemblance to the sham republic installed by the counter-revolutionary forces (armed by the British) after the defeat of the anti-treaty revolutionary republican forces. The democratic program of the First Dáil was reneged on, in every policy area by the counter revolutionaries.
The Peoples Dáil passed 6 motions setting out policy on the following area including, 1. for a democratic Ireland, 2. for a neutral Ireland, 3. the global environmental crisis, 4. Partition, 5.People’s ownership, and 6. cherishing all the children of the nation equally.
A new democratic program for the twenty first century was adopted based on the Irish people’s long struggle for freedom embracing the proclamation of the Irish Republic of 1916 and the strategic views of both James Connolly and Patrick Pearse. The program adopted contains two central and strategic approaches. In 1916, Pearse wrote that “the nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all the material possessions of the nation: the nation’s soil and all its resources, but also to all the wealth producing processes within the nation. In other words no private right to property is given as it is against the public right of the nation.”
In 1916, James Connolly stated that “the reconquest of Ireland involves taking possession of the entire country all its powers of wealth production and all its natural resources and organising (sic) these on a cooperative basis for the good of all”. In April 1916, he insisted to the Irish Citizen Army that “we are out for economic as well as political liberty.”
Planning is now underway to hold a number of regional People’s Dáil around the country and to involve a greater number of people’s organizations and activists in discussing the documents adopted in January and build grassroots campaigns as well as a forum for deeper political debate.
PD: Please explain the party’s position on the agitations by the nurses in the country? Why it has took more than hundred years for a country like Ireland to grant abortion rights to families?
The nurses’ dispute was caused by a number of factors. First and foremost; the wages of nurses are not at a high enough level to enable the Health Service to retain and recruit staff. As a result of this, the Health Service has been in complete disarray and hospital waiting lists are at an all-time high with one million people waiting for hospital procedures, often for years. This is 20% of the entire population of the country. Along with this there are record numbers of people waiting on trolleys in corridors for emergency treatment often at the very end of their lives stripped of their dignity and privacy in the final hours of their lives.
The nurses’ pay situation has been also exacerbated by the policy of austerity brought in to Ireland at the behest of the European Union (EU) in order to pay off European banking debt. This lead to slash and burn policies by the state which cut pay and conditions for workers in the state. It also cut services in education health transport and so on, all done to payoff private banking debt to stop a European banking collapse. If the EU was the sharing caring project that it is supposed to be it would not have put 42% of the entire European banking debt on the backs of 2% of the citizens of Europe. The banks in Ireland lent recklessly but in order for them to do this they had to borrow from European banks who recklessly lent to them in return.
The political establishment has failed the citizens in every area as a result of austerity which saw the largest transfer of wealth from the poorest in society to the wealthiest in the history of this state. Austerity worked very well for those that designed it, the ruling class .
As a result of this, for only the second time in 100 years, 40,000 nurses have gone out on strike to achieve a wage that will allow them to live with dignity and look after their families to a decent standard.
The second part of the question is dealing with abortion rights, the reason that it has taken so long for women to achieve full body autonomy rights is that the counter revolutionary forces, which took power after the 1916 Revolution, were inextricably linked to the Catholic Church as it was used as another weapon of control over the citizenry. In recent times due to education and a new found confidence leading to the end of religious domination, along with unending physical and sexual abuse scandals surrounding the Catholic Church, people in Ireland have woken up to the true nature of the Catholic Church and have rejected most of its backward medieval ideology. The state and the church fought tooth and nail to stop a citizens’ referendum on abortion, but eventually had to give in to massive public pressure which was reflected in the result of the recent referendum.
PD: What are interventions by the party in the ongoing protests against the rising number of homeless people in the country? What is the reason behind such a crisis and is there any solution that the party can offer to address this issue?
JD: The major reason for the housing crisis in roll in the country is government policy of the commodification of the provision of homes and of subsidizing private landlords to provide these homes for our people. Private landlords have one aim, that is maximum profits, while the provision of shelter is at the bottom of their list. There are billions of euros spent every year by the state, used to subsidize excessive rents demanded by private landlords. This money goes directly into the pockets of landlords. Instead it should be used to build homes. Low pay, precarious employment and the ending of public house building. has led to a situation where most workers are forced to rent privately for the first time in our history.
The Communist Party of Ireland is a founder member of the Campaign for Public Housing. As a solution to the housing crisis we urge the the state to create a new publicly owned housing service which is universally accessible to all citizens and make the right to housing a constitutional right for every body.
PD: What’s your take on the trending of the ‘Sea is the Border’ hashtags, in the social media, in the wake of the controversies that surround the debate of the Irish backstop in relation to the Brexit?
JD: The first thing we have to recognize is that the border between the six counties in the north and the twenty six counties, is not Ireland’s border. It is a result of the partitioning and occupation of that part of our country by the British. It is now being enforced by the European Union, due to Brexit it now becomes Europe’s border, a European “Union” that divides our land. Under the Good Friday Agreement it disappeared in its physical presence but the British still occupy and rule over the six North Easterly counties of Ireland and claim them as their own.
The European Union in order to force a deal on the British have introduced the backstop as a precondition to an agreement. This is unacceptable to the British as the border of Britain would become the Irish Sea isolating part of what they claim as their territory. This shows the undemocratic nature of the EU in exactly the same way as they forced Ireland to pay off European banking debt as a result of the global financial crash as a precondition to the bail out. The irony of the partitioning of Ireland coming back to haunt the British in their exiting of the EU, and the Irish establishment who wish to remain in a “union” that may reinforce partition on the island of Ireland is satisfying. When James Connolly was asked about the partitioning of Ireland he said “it would lead to a carnival of reaction” and how right he was.
The Communist Party of Ireland is an all Ireland party, and our allegiance is to the Irish Republic, declared in 1916, all of Ireland, all its people, and all of its resources, in the words of Connolly “everything from the plough to the stars”.