7 July 2005 Edition
An Phoblacht Editorial
The Ros Dumhach 5
The case of the five Mayo smallholders jailed for defying the might of a multinational giant on their doorstep has begun to attract widespread public attention.
The case has also raised more questions surrounding the issue of how the exploitation rights to the Corrib Gas Field, and other potential fields were given away by various Dublin Governments to unaccountable foreign multinationals.
While Sinn Féin has rallied behind the Ros Dumhach farmers, Gerry Adams was twice denied access to visit the Five in Cloverhill Prison by a Department of Justice directive — undoubtedly at the behest of Michael McDowell. This is quite clearly a breach in civil rights and sound democratic practice.
Meanwhile pickets have been mounted at Shell and Statoil service stations around the country in support of the Mayo people's stand and these have enjoyed good support from passing members of the public.
The original case in question relates to the farmers defying a High Court injunction allowing Shell-led consortium the right to build a pipeline through their land without having to comply with the stringent requirements for public safety. The jailing of the Ros Dumhach 5 clearly illustrates the preoccupation of the Irish political establishment with the concerns of big business and capital than with the rights, welfare, wellbeing and safety of their own citizens.
As the leaders of the world's eight most powerful and wealthy capitalist economies meet at Gleneagles in Scotland, increasing public attention has focused on the issue of global poverty, Third World debt, the effectiveness of aid, fair trade, climate change and the Kyoto Agreement. Attention has also focused on the role the G8 states play in all of this.
The recent Make Poverty History campaign and the series of Live 8 concerts have focused on the responsibilities of these wealthy and powerful states in bringing about a positive resolution to such international problems. What has not been challenged however is the very basis that such wealth and power is built upon — that is, inequality and the exploitation of poorer, under-developed countries.
Bob Geldof and Bono have emphasised the idea of eight men in one room making the right decisions in order to change the situation of Third World debt and poverty. Some commentators have complained that this betrays a naïvety and lack of serious analysis of the ideological system that underlies international poverty, inequality and exploitation. Others have argued that the campaign will at least bring the issues to the attention and consciousness of the wider public.
Either way the degree of poverty, inequality, injustice, exploitation and corruption in much of the Third World is enormous and poses a huge challenge for the rest of us.
There is also the issue of climate change and the effect that human behaviour is having in all of this. A proper approach to this issue is vitally important if the future of the humanity is not to be imperiled. This not is helped by President Bush's assertion that any measure that affects the US economy will not be accepted.
We cannot afford to allow the world's most powerful and wealthy to be left to their own devices to resolve the issues that threaten the future for all our children. All genuine efforts to overcome these problems are welcome but it also essential for success that the underlying causes are understood and tackled. It is no easy task.