What can we expect from National?

The Spark December 2008 – January 2009
- Philip Ferguson

With National back in power, albeit as a minority government, what can workers expect? Is this going to be a repeat of the first term of the last National government (1990-1993), the one that produced the “mother of all budgets” (cutting the dole, the DPB and other benefits by around 25%) and the notorious Employment Contracts Act?
According to much of the left, it is going to be just as bad – or even worse! They think this is especially so because of ACT, and often insist on referring to the government as the National-ACT coalition. A number of important points are missed by that analysis, however.

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Building an alternative movement in Ireland

The Spark December  2008 – January 2009

A new revolutionary political organisation has emerged in Ireland in the past two years to take on British occupation in the north and social inequality throughout the whole country. The organisation is called éirígí; its chairperson, Brian Leeson, was interviewed by Philip Ferguson late last year for The Spark.

Philip Ferguson: Could you tell us how you first got involved in political activity?

Brian Leeson: I suppose I first became politically active in the summer of 1989 when I attended a large protest in Dublin that was demanding a British withdrawal from occupied Ireland. It was called to mark the 20th anniversary of British troops being re-deployed onto Irish streets back in August 1969. For a few months before the demonstration I had been becoming more politically conscious, particularly with regard to the war that was then raging in the occupied Six Counties.
What struck me most about that day was the contrast between the sheer size of the protest and the tiny amount of media coverage it received. Despite the fact that more then 20,000 marched that day, it hardly registered on the political landscape at all. Of course, this was at a time when state censorship by both the London and Dublin governments excluded republican spokespeople from the airwaves.
Within a couple of weeks of that demonstration I had taken a decision to become politically active. I applied to join Sinn Féin, but at 15 years of age I was too young. Instead, I started to sell the An Phoblacht newspaper each Saturday morning outside of the General Post Office on Dublin’s O’Connell Street – a building which fittingly had served as the headquarters of the 1916 Rebellion.
From then on I became ever more involved in the republican struggle and the Provisional Movement, which I remained a part of until early 2006.

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