Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Red Plough

Vol. 1-No-5

Monday 8th March 2010

E-mail newsletter

1) Editorial

2) A Normal State!

3) The economic case for a united Ireland

4) Policing In the Six Counties-70 years ago
5) From internet discussions

6) From The Media

a. From Newry to Helmand, the lessons are the same
b. INTO Slams Government Policies


Right across the British isles public services are under attack. The
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have called two days of strikes a cuts in redundancy pay.The Britsh Government has put a cap on redundancy and hope to save over £500 million. The union fears it is the beginning of both massive redundancies in the public service and also creeping privitisation of those same public services.

The walkout is the biggest show of industrial unrest in the civil service since 1987.Courts, ports, job and tax centres and emergency police call centres are being affected by the walkout. In the North of Ireland 2,000 civil servants are taking part in the strike. PCS says members could lose a third of their entitlement over cuts under the civil service compensation scheme.
Meanwhile in the South of Ireland Union leaders have rushed to defend the public services from continuing government attacks. Sheila Nunan, General Secretary Designate, INTO, accused government of turning its back on its own workers in a vain attempt to find a solution to the ills of the Irish economy. She claimed a campaign of vilification had fueled a “falsehood of an over-staffed, under-worked, well-paid, afraid to reform, unwilling to transform public service.”
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions are meeting to discuss an escalation of industrial action in the public sector aimed at trying to force the Government to reverse its decision to cut pay announced in the recent budget.
The first phase involved a work-to-rule. Now both IMPACT and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will propose that Phase Two includes a series of rolling work stoppages.The Frontline Alliance, which represents nurses, gardaí and other emergency personnel, said it would support whatever decision is taken on further action by Congress.
As part of their campaign against pay cuts, the Garda Representative Association has said gardaí will refuse to use their own personal mobile phones, cameras, laptops and other equipment for work.
The rising tide of militancy transcends nationalities. Capitalism is no respecter of frontiers when it comes to making profits and workers have a shared interest in resisting attacks on their living standards. The current crisis in capitalism has spawned a militancy in the workers. It should now be clear in the South that the issue of “social partnership” is now dead
The ICTU bureaucracy far from seeking agreements and a cosy relationship with the government needs to be pressurized from below. That pressure should be working towards the escalation of workers actions

Other actions by the armed republicans do not advance either the struggle for a united Ireland or the establishment of any kind of socialism on the island of Ireland. Matters around this are dealt with in the article “A Normal State!”
The Red Plough also republishes a document presented at the recent Sinn Fein sponsored conference in London by Michael Burke arguing, albeit briefly, the economic case for a united Ireland. It is a useful beginning and a recognition that mere sloganising about ending partition cuts no ice with the thousands of workers of unionist/nationalist traditions struggling to survive the current crisis of capitalism.

This edition also has an item of more than historical importance, a letter written in the 1940’s by Bob Armstrong a leading Irish Trotskyist. Then the IRA was almost totally apolitical, was sympathetic to Nazi Germany and believed that armed struggle alone could end partition. Armstrong’s brief letter cuts away all that and points the way forward for the working class and is still relevant today.

A Normal State!

"But Northern Ireland sees a terrorist incident, a bombing or a shooting, twice week, double the rate of a year ago. Someone is charged with terrorism every six days. Each time, local leaders are summoned to plead for calm. Each outrage is dismissed as the work of criminal dissidents and described as "a matter for the police". Nothing must disrupt the narrative of normalcy." (The Guardian (24/02/10)

It is now clear that while most Republicans are now advocating only democratic means for pursuing their goal of some form of united Ireland and the ending of British interference in Irish affairs, other republicans have totally committed themselves to advancing their ideals through armed struggle. The Minister of Justice in the Republic, Dermot Ahern has claimed that the Real IRA and Continuity IRA have successfully pooled their resources and that the threat posed by their co-operation is now as serious as that from any group during the height of the “Troubles.”

Incidents of violence have increased in recent days.

• A former Republican prisoner was shot dead in Derry by the Real IRA.

• In Mid February Republicans abandoned a mortar close to Keady police station in South Armagh.

• A 250lb car bomb exploded outside Newry courthouse on Monday 22nd of February 2010 the first anywhere in the North since Omagh in 1998.

• A suspected mortar was fired at a PSNI station in Craigavon at the end of February

• Violent disturbances took place in the Craigavon area between some nationalist youth and the PSNI

• An under-car bomb by Óglaigh na hÉireann, severely injured a police officer Peadar Heffron.

• The Real IRA in Derry shot dead one of its own members allegedly involved with a drugs' gang.

• The Real IRA were behind a pipe bomb attack on a British Army base in north Belfast.

• Bombs have been left near the homes of policemen and their relatives, and police stations have been fired on.

• For two weeks solid gangs of youths have met for “recreational” rioting at an interface on the Springfield road in Belfast.

• Rioting has taken place on the Stewartstown road In west Belfast

• In January a shopkeeper who sold “legal highs” was shot and wounded in Derry.

But the question must be asked what is normalcy? There have been long periods of relative peace on the isle of Ireland. Unfortunately none of those periods coincided with the past 100 years. Indeed it would be more true to say that the normalcy was always civil unrest, sectarian violence and armed resistance to British rule. Indeed those republicans now committed to the armed struggle can legitimately claim to be following in a tradition of resistance that ultimately forced Britian out of the 26 counties.

The Irish state pays homage to those who initiated that struggle and no doubt in 6 years on the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Uprising will salute the armed struggle of 100 years ago while heaping condemnation on those who today carry on that struggle. History and tradition run deep in the folk memory of both nationalists and unionists on the island. To put it bluntly Unionists have 1690, King Billy, Orange marches and sectarianism while nationalists have 1916, the IRA, the tricolour and the four green fields to dream about. Neither dreams nor marches fill stomachs or feed the kids.

Most states have major problems. Ireland/N. Ireland is not unique in the world. Unrest within states and between states occurs all over the world. Sectarian violence in a massive scale has occurred in recent years in India, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Israel /Palestine, and in parts of China.

Needless to say sectarianism is never in the interests of either the working classes or progressive movements. In the six counties some towns are bitterly divided. Lurgan has an almost visible line that divides catholic from protestant areas. Sectarian hatred has reached new heights in North Antrim and Coleraine where it is dangerous to be a young working class Catholic. Sectarian acts and attitudes breed sectarian responses and sectarianism is not confined to any one grouping.

West Belfast for example has a huge nationalist population with very few interfaces. It is comparatively easy to be non-sectarian there. It can be very different in areas like North Belfast or the Short Strand area of East Belfast where conditions are very different. Areas with many flash points are of course overwhelmingly working class and that is where sectarianism can build its strongest roots.

Let us face reality. Sectarianism is the norm in the North of Ireland. It permeates almost all strands of society. It is now institutionalised in the very structures of the administration based in Stormont. Claiming to be non –sectarian whilst doing nothing to undermine sectarianism has been the prerogative of the middle and upper classes. (Not that prevented the outpouring of sectarianism in the Golf clubs at the 19th hole!)

Also many republicans like to think of themselves as non- sectarian yet refuse to admit that republicans of all hues have in the past committed sectarian acts. It does not mean that Republicanism itself is sectarian but unless Republicans actively work to break down sectarian barriers then republicanism itself is tainted.

Those who make efforts to cross the sectarian divide and reach out to others of differing traditions are acting in the progressive traditions of Wolfe Tone Republicanism and are to be applauded no matter what tradition of republicanism they come from. People need to be judged on what they do not on what they were once. The jeering of republicans because they may once have been “stick” “provos” “erps” or “coca colas” is juvenile and indicative of a mind set stuck in the past.

Those republican committed to the political road (as opposed to the armed road) have made the correct choice. But the way ahead will not be easy. The power sharing administration at Stormont is still in process of bedding down and still has the support of the majority of people within the northern statelet. Persuading them of a different way will be immensely difficult and will be in the long term.

More urgently will be the task of reaching out now to the disaffected youth within the nationalist population who with no experience of the “troubles” may think it is a fine, noble and glorious thing to take up arms against the “British” presence. With rising unemployment, and decreased job opportunities for graduates the opportunity to channel that disaffect exists for those opposed to the status quo.

Northern Ireland is not nor ever will be a “normal” society. Consequently there will always be those who under the pressures of sectarianism and state oppression opt for the gun as the way forward. That is the wrong road. It is not only the road to prison, to death, to disillusionment and alienation, it is also the road to defeat.

It is imperative that the youth are channelled away from the dead end (in both the literal and figurative sense) of armed struggle and instead are directed towards the road of class struggle. Those republicans committed to that will have the full support of the Red Plough.

The economic case for a united Ireland

By Michael Burke, Socialist Economic Bulletin
12 February 2010
The case for a united Ireland should not rest solely on arguments for democracy and against injustice, important as those are. The fact is there is a strong economic case for ending Partition, and one which would benefit almost the entire population of the North, across all communities.
Legacy of colonialism
The whole of Ireland was a colony of Britain. Colonies are usually characterised by a model of development which is aimed at the easiest extraction of goods and raw materials to be used by the imperial centre. Yet, long before Partition in 1922, the area around Belfast and on the North-East coast much more closely resembled an industrial area of mainland Britain. Shipping, linen and, latterly, aircraft appeared to place Belfast on the same footing as the industrial centres of Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool with which it traded. It was wholly unlike most of the rest of Ireland, even the nearby counties in the North, which mainly rested on agriculture. Most of Ireland, it was often said, had been cleared of its people to make way for England’s cattle. As a result the majority of Ireland, the oldest capitalist colony was also an archetypal one. The relative privileges afforded the producers around Belfast formed the economic basis of the relative privileges granted to Protestants in the North. These have been cemented by sectarianism and finds its political expression in Unionism.
At the time of Partition, per capita levels of output and income in what became Northern Ireland were on a par with Britain as a whole. By contrast, output and income in what has since become the Republic of Ireland were a fraction of those in the North. Neither of those two points is true any longer. The Northern economy has sunk below that of Britain (which has itself been experiencing relative decline on a global basis). And the economy of the Republic has experienced an era of superior growth which has seen per capita incomes catch up and then surpass both the North and Britain as a whole. In the latest data, average (median) weekly earnings in the North were £357, in Britain they were £397 and in the South (after adjusting for both currency and price differentials) they were £532.

The global economy
The recent economic boom in India, some decades after Independence is testimony to the fact that independence is a necessary but insufficient condition for economic prosperity. A deepening integration with the global economy is also required. At the time of Ireland’s Partition, 98% of the South’s foreign trade was with Britain, chiefly the export of live cattle. The entirety of Irish official economic policy was for decades aimed at maintaining the dominance of the big farmers who served the British market. However, diversification was forced on Ireland, not least by Britain’s relative decline. A steady economic outperformance from the late 1960s onwards gave way to a genuine economic boom of the early 1990s as the Irish economy became properly integrated with the European and the global economy.
That path is road-blocked for the NI economy. It is not integrated into the global economy, and is becoming less so, as its traditional industrial strongholds fade away. Its ‘external sales’ amounted to just £12.5bn in 2008/09. Excluding sales to Britain, actual merchandise exports were just £5.9bn. By contrast, the Republic’s exports amounted to €86.8bn over the same period. Only 14% of those were to Britain, compared to 53% for NI. This contrast is even starker in relation to imports.
The government of the Republic is currently engaged in a savage attack on public sector pay and provisions, drawing envious admiration from George Osborne and David Cameron in Britain. The economic gains post-independence and the prosperity that accompanied them owe nothing to the progressive or far-sighted policies of successive governments; there have been none. Economic success, with a handful of exceptions has arisen from foreign multinationals taking advantage from a well-educated workforce located in a prime conduit for trade between the two major blocs of the US and EU.
The interests represented by Fianna Fail in particular have shifted from the large farmers to their property speculating and banking successors, and indices of wealth and social inequality are unchanged since Partition. In fact income inequality both North and South are above the EU average, and on a par with Britain. The maintenance of this status quo is the economic platform of almost all the main political parties, with the notable exception of Sinn Féin. Representing a similar social base, the economic policies of Fianna Fail and the DUP are virtually identical. The viciousness of their economic policy arises from material weakness, not strength. The campaign for cuts in public sector pay and welfare payments, and now a reduction in the minimum wage is led by representatives of the fast food chains, the shopkeepers and the bookmakers.
Both economies are also leading examples of the unequal treatment of women, not only in employment and the workplace but in all aspects of social life. But the North also remains a bastion of sectarian discrimination. One of the many gains of the Good Friday Agreement was the establishment of the Equality Commission of NI. It has monitoring powers over all enterprises with more than 10 employees. The changing political climate that led to the establishment of the Commission has seen the rapid erosion of large areas of sectarian discrimination in public sector employment. Before the current economic crisis, a rising population and falling unemployment produced a situation where employment growth amongst Catholics outstripped that of Protestants. Nothing like that success has been registered in the private sector. However, the battle for equality is far from over. A Catholic is still more than twice as likely to be unemployed. Discrimination in other areas, such as housing, remains endemic.
These inequalities are part of the DNA of both societies. It is no accident that those struggling against those inequalities are confronted with the idea of transforming the political basis of both states North and South, as well as the social relations within them. That transformation would benefit the overwhelming bulk of the population, North and South.

Policing In the Six Counties-70 years ago.

Crumlin Road Jail

There are approximately 600 prisoners in Crumlin Road jail about 300 of whom are serving sentences – probably two-thirds of these sentenced prisoners being IRA men. The remaining 300 are interned, and there are more than 200 other internees in Derry Jail. It is estimated that tens of thousands have been detained since the war. All internments are made under a clause in the Special Powers Act stating that such and such a person has given grounds for reasonable suspicion that he or she has acted or is about to act in a manner prejudicial to the peace. This is the Stormont equivalent of the Japanese “dangerous thoughts” Act.
Not a few of the internees assert that they have never belonged to a political organisation in their lives.

It was during my sojourn in Crumlin that the Chief of Staff of the IRA and three of his associates staged their spectacular get-away from the most heavily guarded prison in the British Isles. The drama of this escape was heightened by a black-type RUC advertisement, in the press offering £3,000 reward to anyone supplying information leading to the arrest of any one of these men. The greatest man-hunt in Ulster history is under way. The relentless, unending war between the RUC and the IRA has provided all the highlights in Ulster politics during the past twenty years. The fearlessness of martyred republicans such as Tom Williams has almost legendary fame. The IRA is almost 100 percent proletarian in composition, its great reservoir of strength being the Belfast Falls Road area. The more petit-bourgeois Eire section is but a feeble reflection of the Northern movement. Yet it advocates no social policy whatsoever, for it considers itself to be not in any sense a political party, but purely and simply an army. Its sole aim is to expel foreign imperialism from Ireland. In 1939 it declared war on Britain. When the world war began it welcomed Germany as an ally in the common struggle.

The prevailing cult of national-socialist ideology within the IRA would vanish like a cloud of smoke at the first signs of a British-German concord. All nations and movements are judged in accordance with their attitude to Britain. Yet for all that not a single British soldier has suffered injury at the hands of the IRA since the war began. The reason is clear enough. Despite its pretentious claims the IRA, being incapable of invoking an appeal outside the nationalist areas, cannot rise beyond small-scale skirmishing tactics. To deal with this the RUC, one of the most highly trained police forces in the world, is adequate. Even if, by a miracle, it succeeded in overcoming its immediate enemy, it is madness to believe that the IRA could defeat the British army, and most certainly Britain would not passively surrender the right to garrison Ireland.

To refute this argument republicans cite the successful outcome for the South of the Black-and-Tan war. But this struggle succeeded only because the revolutionary ferment in the British working class prevented the Lloyd George Government from embarking upon a large-scale regular war against Ireland. The great Russian revolution had kindled a flaming love of liberty throughout the world, and not least in Britain. Without this the heroism of the Irish people in 1921 would have proved unavailing. Only the revolutionary movement of the British and Irish working class can finally free Ireland from imperialist rule. But the IRA as yet cannot understand this. Nor is this accidental. For the amazing virility of a historically outmoded form of struggle is due, not mainly to the dead weight of tradition, but to the shameless collaboration with imperialism of parties masquerading as socialist, the Stalinists and the labourites, who compromise working class methods at every step and engender a contempt for socialism.

Discriminated against at every step, the Catholic working class youth are forced into the struggle. More than a third of the Six-County population belong to the so-called “minority”. The Stormont Government sits on a powder magazine. But so long as it sits tight the weight of the RUC is adequate: and kept under control the IRA has great uses. For the Protestant workers, conscious though they be of their membership of the downtrodden class in the general capitalist set-up, they are keenly aware of their privileged position. They fear, and with good foundation, that a victory of the IRA would place them in the position of a persecuted minority. For, no matter how much the IRA declaims against sectarianism, the fact is that, basing itself on the degenerate capitalist system, it could not prevent the unleashing of anti-Protestant pogroms at the signs of mass unemployment.

Why the Trotskyists Are Under Fire
It is axiomatic to Marxists that the weaker a government’s mass basis, the stronger its apparatus of repression must be. The RUC is the real government of Northern Ireland and Dr Moffat, reputed by some to be the most astute police chief in Europe, occupies the unique position, outside the purely fascist countries and the USSR, of being better known, at least in the nationalist areas than the cabinet ministers. It is the tremendous material and legal powers enjoyed by the Ulster police that enables them to move with such swiftness and arrogance against legal working class parties.
Yet the Trotskyist movement has not been singled out for attack, on account of its smallness, but because its’ programme is feared. A move threatening to disturb the caste upon which the Stormont regime easily balances, is to be feared above everything else. The Stormont regime fears not an alliance between IRA and the Trotskyists, but the passing over of the glorious Falls Road proletariat from IRA utopianism to a revolutionary socialist program.
For that we will not require to pander to the illusions of the IRA or any other organisation which stands apart from and against the programme of the revolutionary working class. We need no catspaws. We turn to the dauntless working-class youth of the Falls Road and strive to win them, not by nursing outworn prejudices but by proclaiming the power of proletarian methods of struggle you and your class. The Irish section of Workers’ International League demands:
1. That the internees be released or brought to trial.
2. The repeal of the Special Powers Acts.
3. A united front of all working class organisations against the arbitrary rule of the police.

The above is part of a letter from Bob Armstrong who was detained without charge or trial for 18 days by the RUC and then released in the early 1940s.Bob was a member of the Workers International League and his letter reveals the conditions under the Stormont Regime in Northern Ireland and are a picture of the worst type of police dictatorship known only in the most backward countries of Europe at that time. His letter also points out the way forward for Marxists and socialist republicans by rejecting the weapons of militarism and embracing the struggles of the workers.



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From The Media

From Newry to Helmand, the lessons are the same

Had Monday's car bomb exploded in London it would have been inflated into a terrorist atrocity, fuel for the Afghan war

An explosion, then ¬silence. Next come the shouts and the sirens. It is another bomb. Oh God, people cry, is ¬anyone dead? On this occasion, no . But Northern Ireland sees a terrorist incident, a bombing or a shooting, twice week, double the rate of a year ago. Someone is charged with terrorism every six days. Each time, local leaders are summoned to plead for calm. Each outrage is dismissed as the work of criminal dissidents and described as "a matter for the police". Nothing must disrupt the narrative of normalcy.
Terrorism in Northern Ireland is nowadays hardly reported because it has rightly been redefined as a crime. The terrorist must be denied the oxygen of publicity. And it works. If Monday's court-house bombing in Newry had been perpetrated on a public building in London there would have been pandemonium. Security chiefs would have been summoned. Doors would have been kicked down in immigrant suburbs and "suspects" arrested.

Gordon Brown would have dived for his Cobra bunker, declaring "the nation is under threat" and the bomb was proof of the necessity of the Afghan war. That was how Washington reacted yesterday to news of a (failed) plot to put a bomb in the New York subway . It was nothing as commonplace as a crime but, said a spokesman, "an assault on our nation … a threat to our homeland security".
The war in Afghanistan has progressed since 2006, when the defence secretary, John Reid, and his local commander, now the head of the army, General Sir David Richards, confidently told the world that driving the Taliban out of southern Afghanistan would be easy. After ridiculing intelligence and advice – not least the Russians' experience of trying to do likewise – Nato troops found the Pashtun people reacted badly to being invaded, shot and blitzed. They found insurgents fought back ferociously. It made no difference how many schools and roads were built. It made no difference how often Nato apologised for bombing the wrong targets. The Kabul regime's hold on Afghanistan continued to slide and does so to this day.

This week the prolonged campaign to reassert central authority in the small town of Marjah in Helmand is drawing to a close. By adopting the surge tactic of blanketing an area with soldiers, the occupying power has forced the enemy into retreat. As in Falluja in 2004 , American troops are adept at "making a wilderness and calling it peace". But they must now contemplate the barely conceivable prospect of doing likewise in Afghanistan's second city of Kandahar. Fighting the Taliban there will make the slaughter of 60 Afghan civilians in the past week seem mild.

Despite publicity from embedded journalists about the brave Afghan army, there is no comfort to be had from any analyst that Afghan troops and police can ever hold southern Afghanistan against the Taliban's ruthless guerrillas. The reliance of the British government (and the Tories) on "training the Afghan army" as a precondition for a British withdrawal is not a strategy. It is a figleaf concealing the absence of a strategy. The weekend air strike against "escaping Taliban" – massacring some 27 civilians 150 miles from Marjah – shows how far attrition has degraded Nato discipline and left various special forces operating as private warlords.
The policy of trying to kill Taliban to the negotiating table is as barren as that of winning over peasants by rocketing their homes and destroying their poppy crops. One day some sort of treaty will have to be reached with various Taliban leaders, some of whom had by 2001 qualified as "moderates" and were hostile to al-Qaida. Yet it is Nato policy to assassinate these leaders, mostly by much-vaunted drones, replacing older negotiators likely to be more amenable to peace with younger successors furious for revenge. Yet again, policy is counter-productive. An undiminished concomitant of war down the ages is stupidity.
This week the British government received an answer to its oft-pleaded question, how can it possibly withdraw? The Dutch have shown that it is done quite simply by announcing a withdrawal, as most Nato countries have "withdrawn" de facto by staying in Kabul and refusing to fight in a conflict they feel cannot be won. There are clear limits to how long a democracy will subscribe to wars far from home where only the vaguest national interest is at stake.
The attempt of Gordon Brown, David Miliband and David Cameron to link the battle in Helmand, with safety on British streets is no longer just implausible, it is surreal. Their declared objective is to reduce the risk of Islamist attacks by stamping out distant "terrorist sponsors" and "training camps". Other motives – maintaining Nato unity, regional stabilisation and confronting jihadism – are mentioned but are subsidiary. War can only be about security.
Yet the paucity of domestic terrorist incidents suggests that this objective of "homeland security" is effectively achieved, in Britain and the US. There is no evidence that foreign wars have played any part in this. Indeed if motives cited by convicted terrorists are any guide, the war is counter-productive. With public spending tight, reallocating resources from war to domestic counter-terrorism must be value for money. But who has the courage to say or do it?

Northern Ireland has learned to live with low-level terrorism on a scale greater than anything being experienced from Islamists in mainland Britain. This violence will continue as long as sectarian segregation exists in housing and schools, subsidised by the British taxpayer. It will continue as long as Northern Ireland remains a living monument to Europe's long history of religious intolerance. But a sort of equilibrium has been realised. "War" is no longer being constantly declared on "the men of violence", conferring on them the mantle of military heroism. Terrorism loses its potency when relegated to the status of a crime.
Terrorism poses no threat to Britain's national security. Bombs explode but they do not undermine the state. ¬Terrorism rather reflects the community's handling of risk. Ever since 9/11, the Labour government's exploitation of the politics of fear has overwhelmed the public's ability to assess risk. This in turn has inconvenienced many, frightened some and sent hundreds of soldiers to an unnecessary death. It has shown that the greatest threat to modern democracy remains what it has always been – a vulnerability to the ¬populism of warmongering.
THE GUARDIAN 24 FEBRUARY 2010 Simon Jenkins

INTO Slams Government Policies

Sheila Nunan, General Secretary Designate, INTO, accused government of turning its back on its own workers in a vain attempt to find a solution to the ills of the Irish economy. She said a campaign of vilification had fueled a falsehood of an over-staffed, under-worked, well-paid, afraid to reform, unwilling to transform public service.
"Many people are prepared to believe this tissue of lies," said Ms Nunan. "Desperate for economic recovery they find it easy to believe competitiveness will be restored, the economy rebooted and prosperity regained if only we had a reformed, transformed, modernised public service."
Ms Nunan said far from being a brake on economic success Ireland's public services actually underpin our global competitiveness.
She said The Global Competitiveness Report 2009–2010 published by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland highlighted the competitive advantages and disadvantages of 133 countries worldwide.
"When it comes to Ireland, significant competitive advantages are the reliability of police services, the quality of primary, second and third level education and life expectancy due to the quality of our health services," said Ms Nunan. She contrasted this with Ireland's significant disadvantages outlined in the report including trust in politicians, the soundness of our banks and the lack of access to loans.
Ms Nunan said one of Ireland's biggest advantages is the quality of our education system. "In the world of education, the only disadvantage is inadequate education expenditure." "Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett is right," said Ms Nunan. "We need to invest more, not less in education." But she said she was not prepared to argue that there was no room for change, improvement or transformation particularly in an area such as education.
"Education," she said, "will be the engine of economic recovery." "If education is prioritised for investment, Ireland can get involved in a race to the top rather than the bottom”.
But she warned that cutting salaries, suppressing recruitment and promotions, threatening pensions would damage the morale of decent hardworking teachers and would not solve Ireland’s economic woes.
"Instead of ignoring its workers, government must enter into dialogue with the unions to find a real road to recovery,"

From Internet

A short film of a speech given by a US veteran of the war in Iraq.


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