21 February 2008 Edition

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Mála Poist

Cuireann An Phoblacht fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, 200 focal ar a méid. Déantar giorrú ar litreachta más gá. Cuir do litir chuig [email protected]
An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected] No attachments please


Rights of Ireland’s hidden workforce

THE value of Ireland’s exports and imports passing through our seaports is now in excess of €150 billion per annum. Unfortunately, since Ireland owns only little more than a handful of merchant ships, over 90 per cent of these goods are handled by foreign-owned ships.
Almost half of these foreign ships and almost all container ships trading into our seaports operate under what is known as the ‘flag of convenience’ system. This is a system where the true owners of the vessels distance themselves from the responsibility of being the owners of the vessels and from their responsibilities as the employers of the crews. The result is that, all too often, the crews of these ships have pay and conditions that are greatly substandard and these unfortunate crews are often denied their most basic human and civil rights.
The social partners are again turning their attention to the subject of a new wage agreement and the question of workers’ rights and their enforcement is quite rightly on the agenda.  
I think it is time that the social partners also turned their attention to the question of the rights and entitlements of Ireland’s hidden workforce – the foreign seafarers who carry our vital exports to the marketplace and who bring in the vital imports without which our economy could not function.


MEP support for Trócaire campaign

I WOULD like to ask schools, community organisations and individuals to support Trócaire’s Lenten campaign, ADMIT, and help developing countries adapt to climate change.
The ‘AD’ of ADMIT stands for adaptation, helping poorer countries cope with climate change and how it affects them. The ‘MIT’ of ADMIT stands for mitigation, preventing further climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
As a member of the European Parliament Climate Change Committee, I believe that industrial countries bear a historic responsibility for emissions but the poorest countries will be hardest hit as they do not have the resources to adapt to the negative impacts of current and future climate change.
As well as urging schools, community organisations and individuals to support Trócaire’s Lenten campaign, ADMIT, I call on the British and Irish governments to support and strengthen the UN international adaptation fund in assisting developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, to ensure funding is additional to overseas aid, and to set an emissions reduction target of 80 per cent by 2050.
Agriculture and food security are under serious threat in Africa in particular and the added challenge and threat posed by climate change makes it virtually impossible for many countries to meet the Millenium Development Goals. They need our help now. By 2050, the former non-malaria zones of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi could experience enduring malaria. Around 350 million to 600 million Africans will be at risk of water stress (according to statistics from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
I urge everyone to join Trócaire’s ADMIT campaign and to lobby the British and Irish governments to help developing countries who are being hit so hard by the negative effects of climate change.
Further information on Trócaire’s Lenten campaign, ADMIT, can be found at www.trocaire.org or www.trocaire.ie

Nationalising banks

MAY I congratulate the British Government on the nationalisation of the Northern Rock bank.  It shows that a government can nationalise banks when it wants to.
It is now time that our own banks were brought under government control and that we, the people, share in their extortionate profits they make on the backs of the working person.
Dublin 22

The amazing Ahern

ON Questions & Answers on RTÉ this week I think I heard Fianna Fáil TD Barry Andrews say that Bertie Ahern “can see round corners”.
If that’s correct, then surely he could have seen what was coming with the Mahon Tribunal and got all his stories straight when he spoke in the Dáil instead of trying to stonewall it by daft claims about protecting parliamentary privilege.


THE United Nations’ top man in charge of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordination, Sir John Holmes, this week denounced the Israeli stranglehold on Gaza as “collective punishment”.
The Israeli Government has stopped building supplies intended for development projects and has cut fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza so it’s hardly surgical strikes by its much-vaunted military. Families – ordinary men, women and children, as well as Hamas fighters – are obviously suffering.
The UN envoy said: “Are they changing people’s attitudes? It doesn’t look like it in any significant way.”
But does Israel care? I don’t think so. Does the Irish Government care? I’m not sure.
Dublin 13

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1