Controversy over Government’s Plan for Direct Provision Centre in Moville

by James Quigley

Moville, Inishowen, Co Donegal with the Caiseal Mara Hotel, large central building

Moville, Inishowen, Co Donegal with the Caiseal Mara Hotel, large central building

Things are moving fast on this story that by the time I finish the article there will probably be more dramatic twists to it. The controversy surrounds a bombshell in the press earlier this month that the Department of Justice and Equality Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) was setting up a Direct Provision centre to cater for 100 asylum seekers in the 40 bedroom Caiseal Mara Hotel in Moville, County Donegal and it could open in few weeks time.

You can imagine how this announcement affected the small seaside town of 1300 people in this remote northern part of Ireland. This decision by the Government has resulted in dividing the community in Moville and there are some angry people on both sides. However, I can say that there is a lot of people with obvious and legitimate concerns and questions. Unfortunately these issues are either being ignored or cleverly managed. The plan to turn the former hotel in the town centre into a Direct Provision centre was so secret that even the local representatives said they were not aware of it even though it was in the pipeline for months overseen by Government and Donegal planning authority. This official deception seems to be a trait in the Government’s handling of the issue of Asylum Seekers. In fact what has happened in Moville has been happening all over the country where local people are informed at the last minute. Its as if this must be the official Government policy. If this is the case who and when was this decision, not to inform locals, taken?

This article is a personal view of how I see the issue on the ground and from what I see there’s more to it than meets the eye. The more I read into the whole issue of Ireland’s and the EU’s immigration policy the more I see grave concerns. However, it is the problem with the Moville plan that I see as immediate. Perhaps by highlighting this wrong we can highlight the overall corruption of technocratic fortress Europe.

I am aware that the matter is a minefield of sensitivities, prejudices, political manipulation, agendas, racism, populism, political correctness, religion and possibly a touch of fundamentalism and that there are groups right, left and center and even religious ready to exploit the situation. Sometimes we can sail pretty close to the wind of extremism but the funny things is that there are some grains of truth in the phenomenon of Populism. Unfortunately in the clamour of the right and left or the entrenchment of fundamentalism one little things is overlooked. People are disempowered. As for the Establishment it is a deliberate, calculated policy, misinformation leading to divide and conquer.

Alternative views must be allowed to be express even though they might offend some. Unfortunately, in this case, legitimate objections are being portrayed as extreme. No matter how sensitive a subject is, it is better for us all to be allowed to express ourselves in an impartial environment and to be informed without manipulation or force. It is disingenuous not to acknowledge and to blow it out of all proportions.

Public Meeting in Moville

People in the area and even the wider Inishowen peninsula have not got to grips with the news yet and it seems their many concerns and questions are not being addressed. It is said ignorance breeds contempt and for sure this is proving the case. This is evident from talking to people, from reading social media and the mainstream media. You can read quite a good article about the concerns local people have about the Direct Provision centre plans for Moville in this Irish Independent article We're being sold a pup and our good nature exploited .

It concerned a public meeting that was held in the town on November 24. I was at that meeting which was billed an information evening. It was held in the Presbyterian hall and apparently it was arranged by locals and not the Department. If that’s the case it kind of shows the commitment from the Government. At the top table were 3 RIA officials, a Presbyterian minister and local politicians. In my view the meeting seemed to be a bit choreographed. There was quite a bit of sermonising from the clergy present and from members of local wellcoming groups set up a few days beforehand, all of whom welcomed the plan. In the audience were clergy, professionals such as school teachers, doctor, local business people and other Inishowen welcoming groups. No doubt, those who supported the plan are well intentioned but I found their content patronising. Taking the moral high ground tends to stifle debate. It is not constructive. People shy away for fear of judgement and being labelled.

Nevertheless there were some constructive questions and comments from the floor and generally people managed to convey their feelings. One thing that stood out though was the defiant answer from a RIA official which was that the plan was a ″done deal″. That and the emphatic way he delivered it seemed to have shocked people. A few other things that were found out was that the Centre will be run as a business by a ‘Contractor’ who is contracted under EU legislation for a year, after that it will go out to tender again but apparently at that time any business in the EU can apply. This means that potentially it can be moved to another county or even EU country. There will not be any extra resources provided by RIA and the existing the resources in the area will be provided by local agencies. It was pointed out that existing resources in the area was basic already. Anyone who knows the area will be aware how deprived it is. The centre will cater for approx 100 residents, 60% will be single males. Another concern brought up was the effect that that number of people in one area with varying traumas and needs would have on the small town. These concerns were explained by a doctor and teacher in the audience. I think it was a shock to hear that no multi disciplinary structure was planned and it seemed that the Government was working on a wing and a prayer, RIA emphasising the importance of the volunteer sector.

There was an interesting contribution from the top table at the end of the meeting. Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, SF, informed the meeting that they should not believe everything the officials tell them. He said that his involvement with the issue in the Oireachtas revealed a completely different story than what the Government is trying to convey and that in fact there are a number of calls for the existing Direct Provision system to be scrapped. It is not fit for purpose.

Indeed if you do a quick internet search on Ireland’s Direct Provision system, you do you will find a hornets nest of corruption. I suppose it can be argued that it all depend on who you believe, however, because of the importance of the subject itself and the humanitarian emphasise professed by the defenders of the Direct Provision scheme it is fitting to at least do it. Have a look at NASC: the Imigration Support Centre in Ireland website, an Irish voluntary group set up to help refugees and asylum seekers. Then there’s a good article about the business side of Direct Provision that can be found in Socialist Worers: Direct Provision A Lucrative Business, a short article on the financing and the profits being made. And here, the most damning indictment of all in Jacobine magazine: Europen Union Migration Border Criminalization Refugees, a damning report on EU migration policies. It accuses the EU of colluding with dictators, fuelling trafficking and criminalising refugees. It states;

″The EU mounts significant PR efforts to disguise and sell its border regime as humanitarianism. But an analysis of the limits it imposes on the free movement of people from the Global South, its treatment of refugees, its approach to border enforcement, its deals with Third World countries including dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, and its criminalization of migrants and refugees within its member states, reveals the true nature of the EU’s migration policies. They are founded on the dehumanization of black and brown people, with the objective of preserving a political and socioeconomic order designed to maintain the dominance of a small minority at the expense of the rest of the world.″

The main reservations that people had at the meeting and in general were nothing to do with refusing asylum seekers but were more to do with; the numbers in one place, the resources in the area, the remoteness of Moville, the business aspect of the enterprise, the conditions in the premises, safety, health and not least a lot of anger was directed at the government for the way they have handled the whole process.

The secretive planning by the Government in Moville appears to be nothing new. The following Kerry Today radio program in December 2017 New 55 Bed Direct Provision Centre For Killarney talks about a centre in Killarney but they could have been talking about Moville in 2018. It would indicate that the policy of keeping people ignorant is a deliberate one. If that is the case then it is pretty damning.

It is obvious to me that this issue would be a great opportunity to expose the hypocrisy of the EU and Ireland’s policy or their complicity in war. If exposing and doing something about the causes of the crisis is not part of the solution then I can only conclude that the policy of Direct Provision is only a cover up.

Sinister Twist

Unfortunately events took a sinister twist last Friday when there was a fire in the front foyer of the Caiseal Mara Hotel. Garda are treating it as arson. However, it has to be emphasised that the full facts about the fire are not known. This little fact has not stopped many people including community leaders jumping to conclusions. The incident and indeed the reaction to it has now clouded the issue. You can imagine no one wants to be associated with that. Accusations are flying around social media and some mainstream media are, in my view, laying it on a bit thick ‘Arson Outrage’. It is now being used as a kind of emotional battering ram to galvanise support for the centre. Government Ministers, RIA, local officials and clergy have all condemned it using emotive language like - acts like this won’t derail the project, defiantly stating that it will go ahead. Is this not irresponsible? What is wrong with innocent until proven guilty? What people should say is the fire is not the issue, the issue is Government’s undemocratic decisions and it’s wider complicity in EU’s immigration policies.

Right and Left Political Football

Placards read solidarity with Moville, Not sure who is being supported here.

Placards read solidarity with Moville, Not sure who is being supported here.

The fire has now become a political football and has gone national. Both the far left and far right are at at each other’s throats online. Have a read of the comments on Politicalisrish Hotel Extensively damaged . In the midst of all this anger everyone locally is hunkering down, not wanting to be seen to criticise for fear of being associated with all the labels thrown at them. Animosity and condescension was bad enough before the fire from the do-gooders but now anyone showing any kind of opposition is branded scum, fascist, racist, inhuman, degrading and it goes on. Mana readily falling off the tongues of the politically correct.

‘No Paseran’ used to be the cry in the hillsides nowadays it’s ‘Negativity’

It’s not a new buzzword but over the last couple of weeks I have been hearing platitudes like the Inishowen people are mostly not like this or that, that this is an idyllic spot where the majority of people are friendly, welcoming, kind and generous and there are calls for negative people need not apply. If I was, say, a sensitive soul I might be thinking, Jesus, am I one of this malcontent minority, the backwoods man?

What’s is the psychology anyway behind this drive for positivity? Is it a type of mantra or positive prayer where repeating it will enter the rebel’s subconscious? Maybe it’s a form of muzzle to silence criticism - no negativity allowed. This repeated reference to the positive side of Inishowen people seem to me like a tourist brochures or speel from civil servants or politicians, or an incantation from the pulpit. It’s like a two edge sword, on the one hand selling a particular image and on the other stamping out dissatisfaction.

Nobody wants to be on the loosing side. It’s a bit like the football team circle before a tournament. If the opposition is not getting the negativity treatment then the big guns are rolled out. Labels like racist, misogynist, fascist are flung willy nilly from the mouths of the politically correct. Once labelled, that’s you ostracised.

However, the thing is, I know it’s not true. There’s a lot more discontents like me around the hills of Donegal. I’m a 60 odd year old white male, probably stuck in my ways by this stage, brainwashed by religion, conditioned by a draconian education system and constantly at the mercy of white imperialist propaganda where third world Gooks and Niggers are portrayed as inhuman, lazy, heathens and Christ, it’s OK to kill them. Then on the other hand I have been cocooned in stories of baby Jesus, forgiveness, pity the poor and turn the other cheek. It’s like a good cop bad cop routine. It’s no wonder I’m a mixed up malcontent. There are many people like this up here that have lived most of their lives in the same environment, surviving in a very oppressive Irish political culture where we have seen sectarianism, inequality, people being slaughtered or depicted as inhuman. We have put up with quite a bit of crap it’s time not to turn the other cheek.

The establishment can turn this propaganda tap on and off to suit their agenda. It will keep dissent in line where the plebs don’t know what’s true or false, bad or good. One minute foreigners are coming to rape your children, next they are poor unfortunate human beings. Are we supposed to believe the PR that the majority of us are nice and kind and that the establishment is really interested in human beings? Not on your nelly. I think it’s more logical that there are more like me with a backlog of anomalies that demand answers. And I don’t think the type of conditioning is really age specific, younger people nowadays are bombarded with it today.

In my opinion it is not surprising that labels work and the good cop, bad cop routine keeps repeating itself. It’s a bit depressing, isn’t it? However, the positive side is I don’t buy it and I am glad to see there’s a lot more locals that aren’t too.

I don’t buy this Government’s or EU benevolence, I don’t buy that by criticising the Direct Provision plan for Moville that we are racist. I don’t buy that we are being negative by demanding a say in local affairs. I don’t buy that we are less humane. I don’t buy that we should support a bad system.

What I do believe,though, is that we have a right to our opinions and to demand consultation, to make informed decisions and to have a sense of empowerment by refusing downright bad policies. Maybe instead of right and left indoctrination, moralist lectures, denial and PR, we should acknowledge our faults and prejudices, discuss them openly, question more and not be so gullible. In this way, together, we might highlight the government’s corrupted policies.


Anger and protest votes across the West - Why the system will still win

Brexit, Trump’s win, Europe’s populist movements: the West is protesting, from the left and the right, against the neoliberal, globalist orthodoxies of the past 40 years.

by Perry Anderson

Scott Heppell · AFP · Getty

Scott Heppell · AFP · Getty

The term ‘anti-systemic movements’ was commonly used 25 years ago (1) to characterise forces on the left in revolt against capitalism. Today, it has not lost relevance in the West, but its meaning has changed. The movements of revolt that have multiplied over the past decade no longer rebel against capitalism, but neoliberalism — deregulated financial flows, privatised services and escalating social inequality, that specific variant of the reign of capital set in place in Europe and America since the 1980s. The resultant economic and political order has been accepted all but indistinguishably by governments of the centre-right and centre-left, in accordance with the central tenet of la pensée unique, Margaret Thatcher’s dictum that ‘there is no alternative’. Two kinds of movement are now arrayed against this system; the established order stigmatises them, whether from the right or left, as the menace of populism.

It is not by chance that these movements first arose in Europe rather than the US. Sixty years after the Treaty of Rome, the reason is clear. The common market of 1957, an outgrowth of the coal and steel community of the Schuman Plan — designed both to prevent any reversion to a century of Franco-German hostilities and to consolidate post-war economic growth in western Europe — was the product of a period of full employment and rising popular incomes, the entrenchment of representative democracy and development of welfare systems. Its commercial arrangements impinged very little on the sovereignty of the nation states composing it, which were strengthened rather than weakened. Budgets and exchange rates were determined domestically, by parliaments accountable to national electorates, in which politically contrasting policies were vigorously debated. Attempts by the Commission in Brussels to aggrandise itself were famously rebuffed by Paris. Not only France under Charles de Gaulle but, in its own more muted fashion, West Germany under Konrad Adenauer, pursued foreign policies independent of the US and capable of defying it.

The end of the trente glorieuses brought a major change in this construction. From the mid-1970s, the advanced capitalist world entered a long downturn as analysed by the American historian Robert Brenner (2): lower growth rates and slower increases in productivity, decade by decade, less employment and greater inequality, punctuated by sharp recessions. From the 1980s, starting in the UK and US, and gradually spreading to Europe, policy directions were reversed: welfare systems were cut back, public industries and services were privatised, and financial markets deregulated. Neoliberalism had arrived. In Europe, this came over time to take a uniquely rigid institutional form: the number of member states in what became the European Union multiplied more than fourfold, incorporating a vast low-wage zone in the east.

Draconian austerity

From monetary union (1990) to the Stability Pact (1997), then the Single Market Act (2011), the powers of national parliaments were voided in a supranational structure of bureaucratic authority shielded from popular will, just as the ultraliberal economist Friedrich Hayek had prophesied. With this machinery in place, draconian austerity could be imposed on helpless electorates, under the joint direction of the Commission and a reunified Germany, now the most powerful state in the union, where leading thinkers candidly announce its vocation as continental hegemon. Externally, over the same period, the EU and its members ceased to play any significant role in the world at variance with US directives, becoming the advance guard of neo-cold war policies towards Russia set by the US and paid for by Europe.

So it is no surprise that the ever more oligarchic cast of the EU, defying popular will in successive referendums and embedding budgetary diktats in constitutional law, should have generated so many movements of protest against it. What is the landscape of these forces? In the pre-enlargement core of the EU, the western Europe of the cold war era (the topography of eastern Europe is so different that it can be set aside for present purposes), movements of the right dominate opposition to the system in France (Front National), the Netherlands (Party for Freedom, PVV), Austria (Freedom Party of Austria), Sweden (Sweden Democrats), Denmark (Danish People’s Party), Finland (True Finns), Germany (Alternative for Germany, AfD) and Britain (UKIP).

In Spain, Greece and Ireland, movements of the left have predominated: Podemos, Syriza and Sinn Fein. Uniquely, Italy has both a strong anti-systemic movement of the right in the Lega, and a still larger one across the left/right divide in the Five Star Movement (M5S); its extra-parliamentary rhetoric on taxes and immigration puts it to the right, but it is put on the left by its parliamentary record of consistent opposition to the neoliberal measures of Matteo Renzi’s government (particularly on education and deregulation of the labour market), and its central role in defeating Renzi’s bid to weaken Italy’s democratic constitution (3). To this can be added Momentum, which emerged in Britain behind Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected election as Labour Party leader. All the movements of the right except the AfD predate the crash of 2008; some have histories going back to the 1970s or earlier. Syriza took off, and M5S, Podemos and Momentum were born, as direct results of the global financial crisis.

Matt Mcclain · The Washington Post · Getty

Matt Mcclain · The Washington Post · Getty

The central fact is the greater overall weight of movements of the right over those of the left, both in the number of countries where they have the upper hand and in voting strength. Both are reactions to the structure of the neoliberal system, which finds its starkest, most concentrated expression in today’s EU, with its order founded on the reduction and privatisation of public services; the abrogation of democratic control and representation; and deregulation of the factors of production. All three are present at national level in Europe, as elsewhere, but they are of a higher degree of intensity at EU level, as the torture of Greece, trampling of referendums and scale of human trafficking attest. In the political arena, they are the overriding issues of popular concern, driving protests against the system over austerity, sovereignty and immigration. Anti-systemic movements are differentiated by the weight they attach to each — to which colour in the neoliberal palette they direct most hostility.

Movements of the right predominate over those of the left because from early on they made the immigration issue their own, playing on xenophobic and racist reactions to gain widespread support among the most vulnerable sectors of the population. With the exception of the movements in the Netherlands and Germany, which believe in economic liberalism, this is typically linked (in France, Denmark, Sweden and Finland) not to denunciation but to defence of the welfare state; it is claimed the arrival of immigrants undermines this. But it would be wrong to attribute all their advantage to this card; in important examples — the Front National (FN) in France is the most significant — they have an edge on other fronts too.

Monetary union is the most obvious example. The single currency and central bank, designed at Maastricht, have made the imposition of austerity and denial of popular sovereignty into a single system. Movements of the left may attack these as vehemently as any movement of the right, if not more so. But the solutions they propose are less radical. On the right, the FN and the Lega have clear remedies to the strains of the single currency and immigration: exit the euro and stop the influx. On the left, with isolated exceptions, no such unambiguous demands have ever been made. At best, the substitutes are technical adjustments to the single currency, too complicated to have much popular purchase, and vague, embarrassed allusions to quotas; neither is as readily intelligible to voters as the straightforward propositions of the right.

Challenge of growing migration

Immigration and monetary union create special difficulties for the left for historical reasons. The Treaty of Rome was founded on the promise of free movement of capital, commodities and labour within a common European market. As long as the European Community was confined to the countries of western Europe, the factors of production where mobility mattered most were capital and commodities: migration across borders within the community was generally quite modest. But by the late 1960s, immigrant labour from former African, Asian and Caribbean colonies, and semi-colonial regions of the former Ottoman empire, was already significant in numbers. EU enlargement to eastern Europe then sharply increased intra-union migration. Finally, neo-imperial adventures in former Mediterranean colonies — the military blitz on Libya and proxy fanning of civil war in Syria — have driven large waves of refugees into Europe, along with retaliatory terror by militants from a region where the West remains camped as overlord, with its bases, bombers and special forces.

All of this has kindled xenophobia: anti-systemic movements of the right have fed on it, and movements of the left have fought it, loyal to the cause of a humane internationalism. The same underlying attachments have led most of the left to resist any thought of ending monetary union, as a regression to a nationalism responsible for Europe’s past catastrophes. The ideal of European unity remains for them a cardinal value. But the present Europe of neoliberal integration is more coherent than any of the hesitant alternatives they have so far proposed. Austerity, oligarchy and factor mobility form an interconnected system. Factor mobility cannot be separated from oligarchy: historically, no European electorate was ever consulted about the arrival or scale of foreign labour; this always occurred behind its back. The negation of democracy, which became the structure of the EU, excluded from the start any say in the composition of its population. The rejection of this Europe by movements of the right is politically more consistent than rejection by the left, another reason for the right’s advantage.

Record levels of voter discontent

The arrival of M5S, Syriza, Podemos and the AfD marked a jump in popular discontent in Europe. Polls now post record levels of voter disaffection with the EU. But, right or left, the electoral weight of anti-systemic movements remains limited. In the last European elections, the three most successful results for the right — UKIP, the FN and the Danish People’s Party — were around 25% of the vote. In national elections, the average figure across western Europe for all such right and left forces combined is about 15%. That percentage of the electorate poses little threat to the system; 25% can represent a headache, but the ‘populist danger’ of media alarm remains to date very modest. The only cases where an anti-systemic movement has come to power, or looked as if it could do so, are those where a deliberate mis-apportioning of seats, through an electoral premium designed to favour the establishment, backfired, or risked doing so, as in Greece or Italy.

In reality, there is a wide gap between the degree of popular disillusion with today’s neoliberal EU — by last summer, majorities in France and Spain expressed their aversion to it, and even in Germany, barely half of those polled had a positive opinion of it — and the extent of support for forces declaring against it. Indignation or disgust at what the EU has become is common, but for some time the fundamental determinant of European voting patterns has been, and remains, fear. The socio-economic status quo is widely detested. But it is regularly ratified at the polls with the re-election of parties responsible for it, because of fears that to upset the status, alarming markets, would bring worse misery. The single currency has not accelerated growth in Europe, and has inflicted acute hardship in the countries of the south worst affected. But the prospect of an exit terrifies even those who know by now how much they have suffered from it. Fear trumps anger. Hence the acquiescence of the Greek electorate in Syriza’s capitulation to Brussels, the setbacks of Podemos in Spain, the shuffling of feet by the Parti de Gauche in France. The underlying sense is everywhere the same. The system is bad. To affront it is to risk retribution.

Olaf Herschbach · Eyeem · Getty

Olaf Herschbach · Eyeem · Getty

What, then, explains Brexit? Mass immigration is another fear across the EU, and it was whipped up in the UK by the Leave campaign, in which Nigel Farage was a conspicuous speaker and organiser, alongside prominent Conservatives. But xenophobia on its own is by no means enough to outweigh fear of economic meltdown. In England, as elsewhere, it has been growing as one government after another has lied about the scale of immigration. But if the referendum on the EU had just been a contest between these fears, as the political establishment sought to make it, Remain would have no doubt won by a handsome margin, as it did in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence.

There were further factors. After Maastricht, the British political class declined the straitjacket of the euro, only to pursue a native neoliberalism more drastic than any on the continent: first, the financialised hubris of New Labour, plunging Britain into a banking crisis before any other European country, then a Conservative-Lib Dem government of an austerity more drastic than any generated without external constraint in Europe. Economically, the results of this combination are unique. No other European country has been so dramatically polarised by region, between a bubble-enclosed, high-income metropolis in London and the southeast, and an impoverished, deindustrialised north and northeast where voters felt they had little to lose in voting for Leave (crucially, a more abstract prospect than ditching the euro), whatever happened to the City and foreign investment. Fear counted for less than despair.

Politically, too, no other European country has so blatantly rigged an electoral system: UKIP was the largest single British party at Strasbourg under proportional representation in 2014, yet a year later, with 13% of the vote, it gained just a single seat at Westminster, while the Scottish National Party, with under 5% of the vote, took 55 seats. Under the interchangeable Labour and Conservative regimes produced by this system, voters at the bottom of the income pyramid deserted the polls. But suddenly granted, for once, a real choice in a national referendum, they returned in force to deliver their verdict on the desolations of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Finally, and decisively, came the historical difference separating Britain from the continent. For centuries, the country was not only an empire dwarfing any European rival culturally, but unlike France, Germany, Italy or most the rest of the continent did not suffer defeat, invasion or occupation in either world war. So expropriation of local powers by a bureaucracy in Belgium was bound to grate more than elsewhere: why should a state that twice saw off the might of Berlin submit to petty meddling from Brussels or Luxembourg? Issues of identity could more readily trump issues of interest than in the rest of the EU. So the normal formula — fear of economic retribution outweighs fear of alien immigration — failed to function, bent out of shape by a combination of economic despair and national amour-propre.

US leap in the dark

These were also the conditions in which a US Republican presidential candidate of unprecedented background and temperament — abhorrent to mainstream bipartisan opinion, with no attempt to conform to accepted codes of civil or political conduct, and disliked by many of his actual voters — could appeal to enough disregarded white rust-belt workers to win the election. As in Britain, desperation outweighed apprehension in deindustrialised proletarian regions. There too, much more rawly and openly, in a country with a deeper history of native racism, immigrants were denounced and barriers, physical as well as procedural, demanded. Above all, empire was not a distant memory of the past but a vivid attribute of the present and natural claim on the future, yet it had been cast aside by those in power in the name of a globalisation that meant ruin for ordinary people and humiliation for their country. Donald Trump’s slogan was ‘Make America Great Again’ — prosperous in discarding the fetishes of free movement of goods and labour, and victorious in ignoring the trammels and pieties of multilateralism: he was not wrong to proclaim that his triumph was Brexit writ large. It was a much more spectacular revolt, since it was not confined to a single — for most people, symbolic — issue, and was devoid of any establishment respectability or editorial blessing.

Trump’s victory has thrown the European political class, centre-right and centre-left united, into outraged dismay. Breaking established conventions on immigration is bad enough. The EU may have had few scruples in penning refugees into Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey, with its tens of thousands of political prisoners, police torture and suspension of what passes for the rule of law; or in winking at barbed-wire barricades across Greece’s northern frontier to keep them locked up on Aegean islands. But the EU, respecting diplomatic decencies, has never openly gloried in its exclusions. Trump’s lack of inhibition in these matters does not directly affect the union. What does, and is cause for far more serious concern, is his rejection of the ideology of free movement of the factors of production, and, even more so, his apparently cavalier disregard for NATO and his comments about a less belligerent attitude to Russia. Whether either of these is more than a gesture soon to be forgotten, like many of his domestic promises, remains to be seen. But his election has crystallised a significant difference between a number of anti-systemic movements of the right or ambiguous centre, and parties of the established left, pink or green. In France and Italy, movements of the right have consistently opposed neo-cold war policies and military adventures applauded by the parties of the left, including the blitz on Libya and sanctions on Russia.

The British referendum and the US election were anti-systemic convulsions of the right, though flanked by anti-systemic upsurges of the left (the Bernie Sanders movement in the US and the Corbyn phenomenon in the UK), smaller in scale, if still less expected. What the consequences of Trump or Brexit will be remain indeterminate, though no doubt more limited than current predictions. The established order is far from beaten in either country, and, as Greece has shown, is capable of absorbing and neutralising revolts from whatever direction with impressive speed. Among the antibodies it has already generated are yuppie simulacra of populist breakthroughs (Albert Rivera in Spain, Emmanuel Macron in France), inveighing against the deadlocks and corruptions of the present, and promising a cleaner and more dynamic politics of the future, beyond the decaying parties.

For anti-systemic movements of the left in Europe, the lesson of recent years is clear. If they are not to go on being outpaced by movements of the right, they cannot afford to be less radical in attacking the system, and must be more coherent in their opposition to it. That means facing the probability the EU is now so path-dependent as a neoliberal construction that reform of it is no longer seriously conceivable. It would have to be undone before anything better could be built, either by breaking out of the current EU, or by reconstructing Europe on another foundation, committing Maastricht to the flames. Unless there is a further, deeper economic crisis, there is little likelihood of either.

Source:Le Monde diplomatique March 2017

(1) By Immanuel Wallerstein, Giovanni Arrighi and others.

(2) Robert Brenner, The Economics of Global Turbulence: the Advanced Capitalist Economies from Long Boom to Long Downturn 1945-2005, Verso, New York, 2006.

(3) Raffaele Laudani, ‘Renzi’s fall and Di Battista’s rise’, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, January 2017.

Eurostat finally receives request from Ireland - Irish Water Stress Test Begins


Buncrana Together received word from the European Statistical Data support (ESDS), Eurostat, that they have just received a request from Ireland re market test on Irish Water.  They informed us that " Eurostat is going to examine it in accordance with the procedure. No further comment will be made during this procedure."

For those who are technically minded Eurostat went on to say  "The criteria describing the classification of the unit either inside or outside of government sector is described in Manual on Government Deficit and Debt (MGDD) in the chapter I.2 Criteria for classifying units to the general government sector. The MGDD can be found in the website of Eurostat ( see MGDD ) . The criteria contains several steps and the quantitative market/non-market test is described in detail at part I.2.4.3 of the previously mentioned chapter. The main thing in this particular part of the process is to determine whether a producer is market, it must sell its products at an economically significant price which, in practice, would be assessed if the sales of the producer cover a majority of the production costs."

For the less technically minded what this means is that Eurostat is going to do a market test on Irish Water.  The Government  has to prove that more than 50% of Irish Water's running costs are form customers, both private and business,  in order for it to be taken off the State balance sheet.   If Irish Water fails the test this could have dire consequences for future budgets.  It could mean  €600 million will be added to the deficit this year.  It would affect Irish Water's long term investment programmes which are planned on the basis that it will be off the State balance sheet.  Any State investment in Irish Water would come on to  the State balance sheet.  One of the key issues here is the €100 conservation grant which the Government hopes will be separate form Irish Water.

There still remains controversy in the Irish public and opposition politicians surrounding the Central Statistics Office's (CSO) delay in supplying Eurostat with data and requesting a market test  (see Buncrana Together)  

It was widely known that the CSO was to request this since last year and that the results of the Eurostat test would be out mid March 2015.  This deadline was missed by a long shot. Now Eurostat's decision could take a couple of months yet,  however, there is no definite date.

Some suggest that the delay was intentional because Irish Water is behind schedule with their metering programme and developing their customer base.  Any lay person would think that showing a large customer base would be one of the most important elements in proving that a company is viable.   Irish Water and the Government insist that all users of the public water supply are customers of Irish Water even though households have not signed a contract with them.  Irish Water say that the Water Services Acts 2007 and 2013 gives it this right. 

It remains to be seen what way Eurostat will look at it  whether it will accept Irish Water's customer claim or whether it will take into consideration the sizeable opposition to Irish Water in Ireland, including politicians.  A layperson would find it hard to understand  how a company could be viable if a sizeable number of it's  potential customers are not going to pay.  Unless Eurostat accepts that the Government will recoup the money out of the public one way or another. 

There was an interesting line in an Irish Times article on the subject ( see Irish Times CSO provisionally puts Irish Water on State books)  where it states  "It appears likely the CSO has indicated to Eurostat its support for Irish Water to remain off balance sheet. " 

So the controversy continues.  Previous questions on CSO's delay by Sean Fleming FF in a Public Affairs Sub Committee meeting,  got stern reactions from both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton when they defended the impartiality of the CSO.  See Buncrana Together

If you have any requests to Eurostat you can go to           ( Eurostat ).