A Second Republic - A feasible objective or mere talk

seabhac siulach

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Fintan O’Toole recently presented in the pages of the Irish Times some prescriptions that he (or at least his sub-editor) tags as a ‘republican revolution’.

Enough of the gombeen politics: it's time for a republican revolution - The Irish Times - Sat, Oct 30, 2010

The measures he prescribes, thirty in all, such as restoring the right of the Oireachtas to inquire into all activities involving the use of public money, the handing of primary schools over to local and democratic ownership and control, a reduction in the size of the Dail to 100 members, would not appear revolutionary in any democratic country but Ireland. Only here could such obvious, indeed banal, things achieve the power of revolutionary thought.

And, yet, even these eminently sensible suggestions of Mr O’Toole are doomed to be ignored; ignored as all ideas and ideals have been in Ireland since the early 1920s when the ancestors (sometimes in fact) of those now in power put the present crony capitalist state on its course, subverting the ideals of the 1st Dail along the way. Those, such as Fintan O’Toole and those who advocate all manner of sensible solutions and ideas as to what ails Ireland, such as those in the ‘Claiming Our Future’ grouping, forget an important point in all these utopian discussions and brain-storming sessions. And that point is this: the forces of reaction, of the status quo, will not give in without a fight, they will not meekly roll over and hand over power. Does anyone seriously believe that with a finely worded article or a well constructed argument those in power will meekly step aside? And, by those in power, I refer to all those who are presently in positions of authority; in many cases, in positions of authority, due entirely to their links to Fianna Fail. Those who belong to the countless quangos, the councils, the state boards and all the other machinery of patronage built up of decades will not quietly hand over their positions or acquiesce in the dismantlement of the source of their privilege, to wit, the present Irish political/social system. And, does any one believe that the present parties that make up the official opposition will behave any differently to Fianna Fail once in office? Does anyone believe that they will dismantle the systems of patronage that will allow them in turn to reward their hangers-on and paymasters when their time comes? Why else do quangos exist, if not to reward those who the leaders of our political parties deem worthy of their largesse?
Of course, Fine Gael have made some noises about reducing the number of quangos but then talk before an election is always cheap.

It is noteworthy to consider that not one of the political parties has responded to the points of Fintan O’Toole, either in the article referenced above or in his recent book and subsequent articles. Indeed, there has been no in-depth discussion whatsoever on new ways forward coming from within the political fold, with any tepid thoughts on a new list system for electing candidates or other reform being quickly side-lined and ignored. One would think, from the inaction and listlessness of what passes for political debate in Ireland, that the political structures are perfect and need no reform. Of course, the political system wishes no real change, as change would interfere with the systems they have built up over the years, systems for maintaining their stranglehold on political power, on putting forward their chosen candidates, often literally keeping political power within the family (Witness the Labour party's shenanigans in Dublin South East where Ruairi Quinn is, allegedly, setting up his nephew Oisin Quinn to take his seat by manipulating selection procedures). No, these political parties are too obsessed at present with discussing and implementing the pre-determined neo-liberal diktats of Brussels than to engage with any radical political discourse. All in the hope, it is imagined, that the present crisis will eventually pass and that they can continue with the old ways as if nothing has changed. Are we to forget all those in the civil services, in its highest reaches, or those appointed to semi-state boards, who have developed close links with all the political parties, but especially Fianna Fail, will passively allow change to all they know? Will all those in business, all those who owe, in many cases, their vast wealth on connections to Irish political figures, passively allow the system that allowed their rise to silently pass away? Allow it to pass away because of some fine words and clever argument? This is naivety. The naivety of the broad left, including Republicans, that has condemned it to irrelevance for decades. The forces of reaction are well dug in, controlling the media, the political parties and essentially all the modes of political thought. Within these forces of reaction, we must include the major Trade Unions, who, by their close links with Irish political parties and the actions of their leaders (accepting highly paid positions on state boards), have placed themselves in the ranks of those who would resist real change. No, what is being offered by Mr. O’Toole is a mere verbiage, the tired refrain of the academic, the defeated song of the Left. The state is bankrupt, the banks destroyed, 100,000s unemployed and the best the leading left journalist can offer are placid observations on how the political system may be reformed in some perfect world, where, we must assume there is no resistance to change and infinite time in which to carry out the change. I would suggest that the time for fancy words is over. Mere words, mere discussion, as practised by O'Toole is, to my mind, irresponsible. It encourages hopes but does not put forward a plan on how these hopes might be realised in action. This leads to hopelessness and despair.

Where will change come from? I can tell you that it cannot come from within the Irish political establishment, nor within the classes and structures of the status quo. What motivation would those in positions of privilege have in changing the very structures that provide for them and their families? None. In fact, they are likely to do all in their power to resist change, while all the while protesting their claim to be in favour of change, no doubt. Any change must battle these forces, the media, the elites, the upper reaches of the civil service and all others who owe their positions to the present political arrangements. I do not suggest that violence is required to effect change, but something more dramatic than quiet words is urgently needed. Who will give the lead to these acts? What group or groups have the strength to step forward and confront the assembled ranks of the status quo and the establishment? None appears to be present.Where are those groups on the Left, of radical Republicanism, who should have been preparing for this very moment? Where are the groups who didn’t buy in to the neo-liberal lies of endless growth and low taxes? These groups are either fractured or mindlessly echoing the failed politics of the twentieth century (i.e. The Socialist Party, SWP, etc). Where is the modern progressive alternative that ordinary people could support?

And, in the meantime the people suffer and the issues of the economy are played out in an echo chamber where only the voices of the neo-liberal are heard, amongst the grunts of the crony capitalists that got us all into this mess in the first place. But, fine words will sell books, I guess and even in a crisis some always gain.
 


TODevastated

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Fintan O’Toole recently presented in the pages of the Irish Times some prescriptions that he (or at least his sub-editor) tags as a ‘republican revolution’.

Enough of the gombeen politics: it's time for a republican revolution - The Irish Times - Sat, Oct 30, 2010

The measures he prescribes, thirty in all, such as restoring the right of the Oireachtas to inquire into all activities involving the use of public money, the handing of primary schools over to local and democratic ownership and control, a reduction in the size of the Dail to 100 members, would not appear revolutionary in any democratic country but Ireland. Only here could such obvious, indeed banal, things achieve the power of revolutionary thought.

And, yet, even these eminently sensible suggestions of Mr O’Toole are doomed to be ignored; ignored as all ideas and ideals have been in Ireland since the early 1920s when the ancestors (sometimes in fact) of those now in power put the present crony capitalist state on its course, subverting the ideals of the 1st Dail along the way. Those, such as Fintan O’Toole and those who advocate all manner of sensible solutions and ideas as to what ails Ireland, such as those in the ‘Claiming Our Future’ grouping, forget an important point in all these utopian discussions and brain-storming sessions. And that point is this: the forces of reaction, of the status quo, will not give in without a fight, they will not meekly roll over and hand over power. Does anyone seriously believe that with a finely worded article or a well constructed argument those in power will meekly step aside? And, by those in power, I refer to all those who are presently in positions of authority; in many cases, in positions of authority, due entirely to their links to Fianna Fail. Those who belong to the countless quangos, the councils, the state boards and all the other machinery of patronage built up of decades will not quietly hand over their positions or acquiesce in the dismantlement of the source of their privilege, to wit, the present Irish political/social system. And, does any one believe that the present parties that make up the official opposition will behave any differently to Fianna Fail once in office? Does anyone believe that they will dismantle the systems of patronage that will allow them in turn to reward their hangers-on and paymasters when their time comes? Why else do quangos exist, if not to reward those who the leaders of our political parties deem worthy of their largesse?
Of course, Fine Gael have made some noises about reducing the number of quangos but then talk before an election is always cheap.

It is noteworthy to consider that not one of the political parties has responded to the points of Fintan O’Toole, either in the article referenced above or in his recent book and subsequent articles. Indeed, there has been no in-depth discussion whatsoever on new ways forward coming from within the political fold, with any tepid thoughts on a new list system for electing candidates or other reform being quickly side-lined and ignored. One would think, from the inaction and listlessness of what passes for political debate in Ireland, that the political structures are perfect and need no reform. Of course, the political system wishes no real change, as change would interfere with the systems they have built up over the years, systems for maintaining their stranglehold on political power, on putting forward their chosen candidates, often literally keeping political power within the family (Witness the Labour party's shenanigans in Dublin South East where Ruairi Quinn is, allegedly, setting up his nephew Oisin Quinn to take his seat by manipulating selection procedures). No, these political parties are too obsessed at present with discussing and implementing the pre-determined neo-liberal diktats of Brussels than to engage with any radical political discourse. All in the hope, it is imagined, that the present crisis will eventually pass and that they can continue with the old ways as if nothing has changed. Are we to forget all those in the civil services, in its highest reaches, or those appointed to semi-state boards, who have developed close links with all the political parties, but especially Fianna Fail, will passively allow change to all they know? Will all those in business, all those who owe, in many cases, their vast wealth on connections to Irish political figures, passively allow the system that allowed their rise to silently pass away? Allow it to pass away because of some fine words and clever argument? This is naivety. The naivety of the broad left, including Republicans, that has condemned it to irrelevance for decades. The forces of reaction are well dug in, controlling the media, the political parties and essentially all the modes of political thought. Within these forces of reaction, we must include the major Trade Unions, who, by their close links with Irish political parties and the actions of their leaders (accepting highly paid positions on state boards), have placed themselves in the ranks of those who would resist real change. No, what is being offered by Mr. O’Toole is a mere verbiage, the tired refrain of the academic, the defeated song of the Left. The state is bankrupt, the banks destroyed, 100,000s unemployed and the best the leading left journalist can offer are placid observations on how the political system may be reformed in some perfect world, where, we must assume there is no resistance to change and infinite time in which to carry out the change. I would suggest that the time for fancy words is over. Mere words, mere discussion, as practised by O'Toole is, to my mind, irresponsible. It encourages hopes but does not put forward a plan on how these hopes might be realised in action. This leads to hopelessness and despair.

Where will change come from? I can tell you that it cannot come from within the Irish political establishment, nor within the classes and structures of the status quo. What motivation would those in positions of privilege have in changing the very structures that provide for them and their families? None. In fact, they are likely to do all in their power to resist change, while all the while protesting their claim to be in favour of change, no doubt. Any change must battle these forces, the media, the elites, the upper reaches of the civil service and all others who owe their positions to the present political arrangements. I do not suggest that violence is required to effect change, but something more dramatic than quiet words is urgently needed. Who will give the lead to these acts? What group or groups have the strength to step forward and confront the assembled ranks of the status quo and the establishment? None appears to be present.Where are those groups on the Left, of radical Republicanism, who should have been preparing for this very moment? Where are the groups who didn’t buy in to the neo-liberal lies of endless growth and low taxes? These groups are either fractured or mindlessly echoing the failed politics of the twentieth century (i.e. The Socialist Party, SWP, etc). Where is the modern progressive alternative that ordinary people could support?

And, in the meantime the people suffer and the issues of the economy are played out in an echo chamber where only the voices of the neo-liberal are heard, amongst the grunts of the crony capitalists that got us all into this mess in the first place. But, fine words will sell books, I guess and even in a crisis some always gain.
"The state is bankrupt, the banks destroyed," YES
"100,000s unemployed" YES
"I would suggest that the time for fancy words is over." YES

so what is the answer then, over and above prayer and hope??
 
G

Gimpanzee

Mere talk. And talk is particularly cheap in Fintan's case, when it is offset by people shelling out for his annual christmas book and the IT paying him for it the rest of the year.
 

TODevastated

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we dont do
i) radical change, or
ii) even resignations

so a second republic who do you think we are the french or germans??
 

Mitsui2

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Brendan Behan used to say (with some justice) that the first item on the agenda of any new Irish political movement was "the Split".

Close observation over the better part of half a century has forced me to conclude that the second item on the same agenda is usually either "the Sellout" or "the Secret Deal".

I've no idea why this should be; but it sort of puts me off involvement.
 

Raketemensch

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Ah the predictable moping self-hatred and hopelessness of the forelock tugging Micks. 'Sure they are all the same', 'sure nothing ever changes','sure ye'd be the same if ye got the chance' etc. etc., the memes of hopelessness and despair that has kept the cute peasant gombeens running the show here for generations.

I tell you one thing, The Celtic Tiger is long gone and if something like FOT describe doesn't at least begin, then the Irish will be eating grass in 10 years, you heard it here first folks! Me and mine will be long gone by then but I'm sticking around for a while because a glimmer of hope remains in me. Stupid I know!
 

TODevastated

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Ah the predictable moping self-hatred and hopelessness of the forelock tugging Micks. 'Sure they are all the same', 'sure nothing ever changes','sure ye'd be the same if ye got the chance' etc. etc., the memes of hopelessness and despair that has kept the cute peasant gombeens running the show here for generations.

I tell you one thing, The Celtic Tiger is long gone and if something like FOT describe doesn't at least begin, then the Irish will be eating grass in 10 years, you heard it here first folks! Me and mine will be long gone by then but I'm sticking around for a while because a glimmer of hope remains in me. Stupid I know!
tad harsh

we all have a vote if some float from party to party ignoring biffos crowd what else can one do??
 

Nemi_

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I think you have to base what's feasible on who we are. The problem I have with the blank sheet ideas is the way it implicitly assumes that what we see in politics is something forced on us by an elite, instead of an expression of the divisions in our society.

I'd suggest we need to start by listing who we are. I'd dig out the last census, but couldn't be arsed right now. (I don't see myself as a nationalist, the concept seems like a joke to me, so I haven't that much interest in preserving something called Oirishness, any more than I've an interest in preserving Catholicism, so penning this post will exhaust my motivation).

What I mean is listing things like:
We've a few percent of the population engaged in agriculture, producing feck all of value, but who are politically reasonably cohesive.
We've a few hundred thousand in a public sector, reasonably well organised through trade unions.
We've a few hundred thousand in the FDI sector, producing the overwhelming bulk of our exports, the strategic management of which is located outside the State and therefore, despite its crucial place in our economy, largely absent from the political process.
We've an indigenous business sector, largely focused on selling imported goods to other Irish people - I still can't get over Bill Cullen stoutly maintaining his commitment to Irish industry, as if he really couldn't get his head around the significance of making a living from selling French cars.
(Just thinking - does any other State have this wierd thing of its importing sector being domestic while its export sector is external?)

There's probably more to be said - proportion of people who own their homes, whatever. The point is to stop erecting these new republican structures on some kind of blue screen "Oirish nation". Who the feck are we, and what bothers us? Why do we need to co-operate at all? Because that's what any successful political structure has to cope with.
 

seabhac siulach

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"The state is bankrupt, the banks destroyed," YES
"100,000s unemployed" YES
"I would suggest that the time for fancy words is over." YES

so what is the answer then, over and above prayer and hope??
The answer would be something along the lines advocated by Fintan O'Toole. However, in the absence of a movement to put his fine words into action, what is the point of them (beyond selling newspapers and books)? My point is that even if a movement were in place, and the surprise is that there is none (no movement that advocates a sensible overhaul of political structures allied to a progressive outlook on economics), it is absurd to think that it will happen without rabid opposition from the forces of the status quo. There has been much talk of 'Was it for this' in the Irish Times but scarce little discussion from any party of how real change can be achieved.
The short answer to your question above is that a movement (pre-existing or to be formed) must be directed towards the aims of securing a new way forward. I am interested in other's ideas on how this movement may be created/directed.
 

myhonorisloyalty666

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The plain people of Ireland don't give a feck about a new republic.
They want jobs and economic growth or the young people are just going to flee.
All this academic talk is worth nothing if they are surviving on the dole and their children end up barefoot, the US Air Force have to parachute cans of beans down to the starving and people end up wiping their backsides with dead leaves.
 

wildmind

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The real political crisis in Ireland will now come when it is clear that , whatever their good intentions, (and they are mostly honourable people) the current opposition will not be able to repair the fracture in Irish society that has now been opened up.

The ONLY hope for Ireland is for a complete reform of the State, starting with an outdated and retrograde constitution, drafted with the help of the Vatican, whose main concern as ever, was to create structures to perpetrate its own power.

The key is to build a human rights based republic. That means that the right to health, the right to education and the right to housing are OBLIGATIONS of the State.

Labour are on record as saying that 2016 is the ideal moment to focus on this new republic. History will judge the current labour leadership on this and this alone: are they going to tinker with the reactionary 1937 framework or are they going to put Ireland first and seek to create an human rights based republic, pluralist, secular and egalitarian?
 

seabhac siulach

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Ah the predictable moping self-hatred and hopelessness of the forelock tugging Micks. 'Sure they are all the same', 'sure nothing ever changes','sure ye'd be the same if ye got the chance' etc. etc., the memes of hopelessness and despair that has kept the cute peasant gombeens running the show here for generations.

I tell you one thing, The Celtic Tiger is long gone and if something like FOT describe doesn't at least begin, then the Irish will be eating grass in 10 years, you heard it here first folks! Me and mine will be long gone by then but I'm sticking around for a while because a glimmer of hope remains in me. Stupid I know!
There is no 'forelock' tugging in what I wrote. I am merely cynical of The Irish Times and its journalists piggy-backing on a sense of despair to come out with academic 'solutions' to our problems, with no prescription on where that will lead. To implement what Fintan O'Toole advocates will be difficult. It is doubly difficult if people think it can be achieved without a struggle. Fintan O'Toole, it will be noticed, does not explain how his ideas may be implemented. The form of the struggle to create a new Republic is unknown but, as the forces ranged against it are many and powerful (can The Irish Times be included in these forces?), it is unlikely to be easy or completely peaceful. Reactions to the social/economic upheavels we have seen in Ireland recently will occur over time. The results will likely not be seen for years. I would be interested to read how Mr O'Toole thinks his ideas may be implemented? I find it strange that this is not even discussed.
 

seabhac siulach

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The plain people of Ireland don't give a feck about a new republic.
They want jobs and economic growth or the young people are just going to flee.
All this academic talk is worth nothing if they are surviving on the dole and their children end up barefoot, the US Air Force have to parachute cans of beans down to the starving and people end up wiping their backsides with dead leaves.
Yes, and it is the fact that they don't and didn't give a feck that has allowed the country get into the state it is in today. Voting Ahern in to a 3rd term after it was known he was corrupt is a symptom of what is wrong with the political culture in Ireland. It may be academic to advocate ethics in politics, etc. However, the result of not engaging in such 'academic' activities, such as trying to improve our political structures, leads to the type of leadership we have in Ireland at present. Ideas and ideals are important. Jobs and economic growth will not occur and be permanently based unless there is created a culture that values all of the people and not a golden circle at the Galway races. These things matter.
 

seabhac siulach

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Nemi_

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Yes, and it is the fact that they don't and didn't give a feck that has allowed the country get into the state it is in today.
I agree with your statement of the problem. A solution, it seems to me, requires 'Irish' people deciding they have some common destiny, or shared outlook, or something that puts them on the one road, so to speak.

I don't see what that is, I'm afraid. I think we'd agree that 'jobs and economic growth' don't do it, because that brings us to exactly where we are. Because, once I have a job and personal 'economic growth', I don't especially care what's happening to you.

The interdependencies in Irish society aren't that strong. Your personal income could depend as much on the strategic decisions made by the top managers of US corporations, who are not even resident in the State, as on any domestic actor; or, alternatively, your income might depend on decisions in Brussels.

I know we can see potential ways things could improve if we worked together. But I don't see the immediate basis for a common commitment.
 

glunNAbuaidhe

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Mere talk. And talk is particularly cheap in Fintan's case, when it is offset by people shelling out for his annual christmas book and the IT paying him for it the rest of the year.
That'll be called cynical by some, but I can't think of a better way of looking at it. O'Toole's message is so bland that I can take it as no more than a safety valve for the IT, to show readers that they are capable of proposing something "radical".

While I do agree we need a Second Republic, there is nothing radical about what O'Toole says. The idea that we should impose quotas on the least number of women to sit in the Dáil is preposterous - typical socialist nonsense. He talks about quangos, but let's not forget that O'Toole's style of politically correct of Dublin 4 liberalism was the fodder on which many now irrelevant quangos were sustained during the "boom times"

A radical republican agenda would not only tweak a few laws here and there, but would turn the party political system upside down and shake it so hard that we will never, ever again see the likes of Ahern, Cowen, Kenny etc get next nor near the corridors of the power. It would, in fact, remove the need for parties. It would get us out of the EU, get our currency back, and adopt a 32-county approach to politics.
 

beamish2010

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A second republic needed.

Yes we need a second republic...We need a complete overhaul of the political,financial and justice systems...The Irish have to stop voting for the political parties that have caused Ireland's severe crisis the first place...i.e Zanu-FF,FG and Labour and vote for alternative parties instead.

Down with the first republic...Roll on the second republic.:D
 

glunNAbuaidhe

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Yes we need a second republic...We need a complete overhaul of the political,financial and justice systems...The Irish have to stop voting for the political parties that have caused Ireland's severe crisis the first place...i.e Zanu-FF,FG and Labour and vote for alternative parties instead.

Down with the first republic...Roll on the second republic.:D
The First Republic died in 1923... what we've had over the past 87 years is an interregnum of corruption, incompetence and treason!
 


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