Reflections on R2W conference document.

In writing this I am representing only my views, not of the organizations I am affiliated with.

Original document:

Click to access 111930_12796_R2W-Unions_Policies_A5.pdf

I will break up each principle and pin-point things that I’m not entirely happy with – data that I’ve left out is largely premises that I agree with.  I can particularly applaud the commitment to free water and sanitation for all by need.

  1. Right2Water – the general outline of this is quite good actually but I must raise two points of interest: a) The creation of a new national board that will oversee water provision and sanitation and b) “This policy (referencing the R2W policy) for an investment between 6 and 7 billion to be provided through a progressive taxation model, details of which will be published on June 13th 2015”. What I believe Right2Water in these principles should be renamed to is “Right2Ireland” while the campaign name remains “Right2Water” – this principle would advocate that all natural resources of Ireland should have only one key beneficiary: the people of Ireland.

What these pieces seem to suggest is that there will be an abolition of ‘Irish Water’ as we know it and the recreation of another body that will largely fill the same hole. Furthermore it will be funded by ‘progressive taxation’ which implies to me that a charge for water will be added to everybody’s taxation thus the water charge is not really abolished but simply re-worded.

  1. Right2Jobs & Decent Work – It does not talk about the various rackets run by the State at the moment or the ones that are “coming soon”, such as: JobBridge, JobsPlus, Gateway, etc. All of which are worded in the same way and contain the same objective, the state providing “employment”. The piece does indeed sound like a partnership deal that would once more delegate the power of representation to large trade unions filled with bureaucrats rather than workers themselves. A far-reaching Decent Work Act would also need the agreement of large businesses – so what if a government cannot secure this agreement, there seems to be nothing that exists to back the initial principle up. Furthermore, capitalist society often circumvents increased wages by simply pushing up the prices for everything, example is rent.
  1. Right2Housing – One I largely agree with, it includes the introduction of rent control and the allotment of social housing. It should also include the nationalization of ghost estates / buildings that are standing still and the refusal to grant construction permits to construction tycoons on the basis that the property market is already flooded. Landlordism is something that has to actively be challenged and undermined, as the document itself states the right to housing is a basic right and therefore must be taken out of the sphere of profiteering.
  1. Right2Health – My biggest concern with these remains is that it is effectively a lot of progressive terminology but nothing concrete. Commitments must be made to stop sub-contracting and return all services to the HSE. Commitments must be made to protect GP’s in rural areas. The health services (like natural resources) should be enshrined in the Irish constitution.
  1. Right2Debt Justice – There should be no renegotiation of anything, repudiate a debt that is not ours and encourage other peripheral nations that have had the debt dumped on them to do the same. This should accompany the nationalization of all banks operating out of the 26 counties or registered in Ireland. Low income earners / those with one home would have their debt wiped out completely. Property tax would be abolished.
  1. Right2Education – In principle it’s acceptable but I think implementation of policy would be on a whole different level. It’s very broad and can be interpreted and re-interpreted. Schools should be made secular and the role of the Church taken out.
  1. Right2Democratic Reform – The abolition of the County Manager / Executive is integral to democratization and empowerment of local communities. There is no mention of the reformation of the Senate or the Presidency, both of which are huge burdens on the tax payer but offer not a lot in return. Strengthening the Senate and democratizing its selection process to the point where Senators are directly elected. I applaud the right of recall as well as what is called ‘Citizens Initiatives’ i.e x amount of signatures triggers either a referendum or a forced debate in the Dáil.
  1. I think an additional point should place a focus on the excesses of Irish society in the payment sector and how this can be addressed. By excesses I mean the extortionate rates of pay and pension that are being enjoyed across the board. Maximum pay across the public sector is something to look into immediately. Maximum pay ought to also include trade unions.
  1. The Church should have all “benefits” and “perks” removed from the purse of the tax payer and raise money for itself. Church and State are separate and should remain separate; the State cannot be seen funding a single religion in any format.
  1. Excessive pensions ought to be diminished dramatically and revised in cases of people that are complicit in the economic terrorism inflicted on Ireland.
  1. Any R2W document must place the blame squarely where it belongs so that the electorate does not forget nor can it be bribed. The undemocratic institutions of the EU, the parties Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party.

Concluding note

There are many progressive features here and are incredibly welcomed, don’t get me wrong. The fact that there’s discussion about progressive elements such as this is already a massively welcome development, but – as the saying goes you either go the inch or the mile and I think in this case for real far reaching and long lasting reform you need to go the mile. In order to do so reform must be wide and deep within the economic and political spheres, otherwise it will simply be re-reformed by another right-wing government.

 

 

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