23 July 1998 Edition
Letter to Paisley
Here is a copy of an email letter that I have sent to the DUP.
You should, in every sense of the word be ashamed of yourselves. You, ``Dr'' Paisley, and your fellow bigots have cause enormous suffering.
Your motives are utterly transparent to the rest of the world and your days of power mongering are over. If you were indeed merely exercisingyour ``Ulster Protestant culture'' you would celebrate dates important to you among yourselves in a peaceful, joyful fashion. Instead you insist on taking your crude marches of hate and intimidation into the neighbourhoods of those you are avowedly against. No sane, principled, democratic government or society would permit you to do this.
As a concerned Canadian citizen I call upon you to go home, beg the people of your country and your god forgiveness and henceforth take your place in the community as human beings who have a right to religious and personal freedom and uphold the right of all others to enjoy the same. You could choose a positive expression of your culture, one that is not dependent on the subjugation of others. If your community has strength and humanity - show it. End the bloodshed. End powermongering. Have the courage to take a positive and equal role in your country.
Support for Egin
I am writing to express my indignation after the arbitrary closure of the Basque daily abertzale (or ``patriotic left'') newspaper Egin by the Spanish government.
This event shows, if needed, that the Spanish security forces have not changed much in twenty years. Egin has been presented by many Spanish (and European) media as being the ``official ETA newspaper'' or ``close to ETA''. Being an Egin subscriber for six months - and having no links with [the political party] Herri Batasuna, I can say that this paper is independent, serious, and certainly not linked to ETA (or even to Herri Batasuna) and that ``moderate'' nationalists from the PNV and EA regularly write in the paper.
This attitude of the media and the Spanish government (especially M. Mayor Oreja, the Interior Minister) who pretended they had ``proof'' Egin was linked to financial aid to ETA is not new. For two years ago the editor of the paper, Pepe Rei, was jailed for presumed collaboration with ETA, and then acquitted. This harassment shows that the government is determined to prevent freedom of expression in Euskal Herria in order to ease policial repression, which is the only ``solution'' found by M. Aznar's government to ``solve'' the Basque conflict.
An Phoblacht has been the victim of this type of arbitrary repression in the 70s and 80s, because it was the only newspaper to provide independent news from the Irish conflict, as Egin does. I can only hope independent newspapers such as yours will protest, as well as other papers and political parties, against this closure which shows the Spanish state is not yet a democracy, and that it only seeks war in Euskal Herria.
A Corsican reader
SF and multinationals
Tom Shelley and Aengus O Snodaigh wrote letters (An Phoblacht 9 July) regarding Sinn Féin's policy towards foreign investment and the supposed confusion and lack of debate that surrounds the issue. To make it crystal clear, I quote directly below from the SF policy document on community economic development, Putting People First, which was agreed by the 1997 Ard Fheis. The document that received wide discussion within the party at a major one-day conference and was also given extensive coverage by An Phoblacht. With regard to foreign investment and transnational corporations, the document states:
``Since the 1950s, the Irish economy, North and South, has become increasingly dependent on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and foreign investment for jobs and economic growth. Recent economic growth in the 26 Counties can be attributed to a large extent to the expansion of exports by US companies in computer goods and services and chemical products. This high growth gives the impression of an extremely healthy 26 County economy. However, this is partly an illusion created by corporate accounting techniques, transfer pricing and excessive profit repatriation.
In the Six Counties, there is a lower level of foreign investment, fewer jobs, poorer working conditions, and the investment that comes is more unstable.
Most foreign companies have only truncated operations in Ireland. They import parts, assemble them, and ship them to continental Europe or the US. To take full advantage of low tax rates in the 26 Counties, TNCs artificially inflate their profits, appearing to produce more in Ireland than they actually do. Thus, the 26 County economy appears to be growing much faster than it actually is.
Foreign companies create little demand for local suppliers, so their effect on broader economic development is limited.
Since foreign companies actually produce so little in Ireland, they do not hire as many people as might be expected and the jobs they create are increasingly part-time or temporary.
The concentrated nature of foreign companies in Ireland in a small number of industries - coke, chemicals and computers - means that they are highly vulnerable to global economic changes, with potentially disastrous consequences for the Irish economy.
Foreign companies have bad records of pollution and poor working conditions.
Foreign investment and the community: A Strategy for Change
Foreign companies in Ireland are too important to be ignored. However, Sinn Féin believes that there needs to be a fundamental rethink around the role of foreign investment and transnational corporations in the Irish economy.
TNCs need to be pressurised to be better citizens. Governments have a great deal more bargaining position over TNCs than they acknowledge, given the level of profits made in Ireland.
Foreign investment should not be accepted at any price. Polluting companies or companies with poor employment records should be made unwelcome. `People power' has recently been effective against polluting chemical companies and plans to set up incinerators in Cork and Derry.
The community, together with the trade union movement, has an important role to play as a watchdog against poor corporate activities.
Pressure needs to be imposed on governments to regulate foreign business more strictly and to toughen their regulations on foreign corporations with regard to local purchasing.
Democratic community bodies should negotiate with the IDB and IDA about incoming investment projects. Communities should be made aware of the nature of investments, their potential problems and benefits, and should be given a chance to negotiate conditions for entry for investment projects. Such local community bodies should be empowered to negotiate conditions especially on ecological/quality of life considerations, working conditions, and linkages (local purchasing requirements).
There should be an all-Ireland policy towards transnational corporations and all-Ireland bodies to attract and administer them to avoid destructive competition between agencies in the North and South.
Such co-operation should be supplemented by stronger cross-border and international links at the community level, where partnerships and other community bodies share information about and co-ordinate policies toward foreign investors.''
I hope this is found helpful and contributes to further debate.
Hunger strike thesis
I am currently researching a thesis, the topic being the role of hunger strikes in Irish political history, and it would make me immensely happy if your readers wrote to me at the address below, expressing any opinions they have with regard to the aforementioned topic.
For research purposes, I am using the strikes of `81 as my focus, the general aim of the study being to examine the build up to them, both in ideological and practical terms, the effect the strikes had upon observers at the time, and their consequent political legacy.
I am interested in anything and everything anyone has to say. My main hope is to hear observations from as many political persuations and walks of life as is possible; from Republicans, Unionists, constitutional Nationalists, Loyalists, Americans Republicans/Unionists, none of the above, all of the above, and so on. You get the gist.
What I'm interested in is thoughts and opinions - and you don't have to be a politician to have an opinion. So get writing.
Furthermore, I would like to assure those who correspond that their input will be treated confidentially; under no circumstances will names and adresses be discussed with, or passed on, to anyone.
For those who feel that they can communicate better in person than on paper, please let me know.
I look forward to hearing from you soon, and would like to thank you in advance.
T Jones c/o Jean Brennan (Administrator),
Department of Politics,