Yanis Varoufakis speaks on betrayal in Belfast

In a recent visit to Belfast, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was asked how ‘betrayed’ he felt by Syriza, the party with whom he served in Government during fraught negotiations between the Greek government, the troika and other European governments in the summer of 2015.

The negotiations resulted in a proposal, with which Varoufakis disagreed, to inflict further austerity on Greece. The proposal was rejected by the Greek people in a referendum. Varoufakis was forced to resign as finance minister by the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, whose government went on to implement a program of massive austerity in Greece.

In response to the question “How betrayed do you feel by Syriza?” Varoufakis responded.

“We leftists have been very very good at creating gulags to which we sent each other, at pointing moralistic fingers at one another, at calling each other traitors, at turning against each other — and I have determined and committed myself to not do this ever, in my own political career, in my own personal life.

So I’m never going to say to Alexis Tsipras you’re a traitor, to say to my former colleagues, my comrades anything that can be construed as a denunciation — I’m not going to denounce my comrades and my friends.

I have stated my very serious disagreement with what they did.”

With the long history of splits and divisions among progressive, left and republican groups, here in Ireland and further afield, the response of Yanis Varoufakis to the invitation to speak of how ‘betrayed’ he felt, might contain lessons of relevance at a time when a united progressive response is needed to world-wide austerity.


Using Your Vote for Positive Change Could Make A Real Difference

In the 2016 Stormont Assembly elections 577,851 of those eligible to vote did not use their vote. In the new assembly with 90 seats and 18 constituencies, assuming the eligible electorate stays roughly the same, if everyone voted, the average quota to elect an MLA would be around 11,000 or 12,000 votes. This means that the 577,851 eligible votes not cast in the 2016 Assembly election, could elect around 50 MLAs at the 2nd March Assembly elections.

It requires 46 MLAs to form a simple majority in the Assembly. It takes 30 MLAs to trigger a petition of concern. If the 577,851 people who did not use their vote in the last Assembly election were to use their vote on 2nd March to elect candidates who support progressive policies based on respect and equality and who are committed to creating a fair, just and equitable society, if they were to use their votes to oppose policies based on bigotry, sectarianism, misogyny, homophobia and austerity, they could change the balance of power in the Assembly. They could replace around 50 existing MLAs who have supported bigotry, sectarianism, racism, homophobia and brutal austerity with MLAs who will defend equality, mutual respect and a fair and equitable society. By joining with thousands who already use their votes and their energy in support of progressive policies they could bring fundamental change to this society.

It’s time for change

In recent times we are being brought news reports about 1,000 plus children under 8 years old and their families are homeless and the numbers of homeless are rising in the southern Irish state, about overcrowding in hospitals with hundreds regularly waiting hours on trolleys. About more building cranes visible on the Dublin skyline but they are building offices rather than homes because offices are more profitable. The minister’s solution to the housing crisis is to allow for the building of smaller ‘shoebox’ apartments, which will increase even more the profit of the builders and speculators. Meanwhile the level of wealth of the super-rich elite in the state keeps rising as large sections of society sink into greater poverty and desperation. (An equivalent narrative could be written for the northern Irish state).

Faced with this brutal reality deliberately brought about by the austerity policies of parties peddling a right wing neoliberal agenda it is incredible that many people appear to be convinced that there is no alternative.  The level of indoctrination of the population by the media, the education system and the churches is astounding and depressing. It prevents the majority of the population from believing that society can be organised in a fairer and more equal manner. It promotes the belief that increasing private profit should be the main driving force behind how we organise society. It makes people blind to the fact that we should (and could) organise society so that there is sufficient affordable good quality housing available for all who need it, where an effective and efficient health service free at the point of access could be created, where education is free to all who wish to avail of it up to third level and where proper welfare services exist for those who need them. Such a civilised society can be created by economic policies based on progressive taxation, creating jobs the local economy which pay proper wages, where the essential services are under public ownership and not run for private profit and where we end our dependency on low wage ‘fly by night’ foreign investment.

As polls suggest that support for Fine Gael is rising it is essential that those who consider themselves progressive come together to organise a genuine alternative. The Right2Change initiative offers an opportunity to bring about such an alternative. Everyone may not agree with every sentence in the Right2Change document or with every word that has been spoken during the campaign. Some may think that the initiative does not go far enough. Some people will not be happy with the program of other parties involved – that’s the nature of such initiatives – if everyone agreed they would be in the same grouping. But with an election coming early in 2016 the opportunity must not be lost to end this cruel regime of austerity. Putting the needs of the majority of the Irish people ahead of party posturing and coming together to create a government which will end austerity and create a more fair and equal society is essential now. Right2Change. Is Féidir Linn

Ionsaí i bPáras

Ag amharc ar an tragóid i bPáras tá sé dodhéanta gan a bheith croíbhriste ar son na ndaoine a chaill cairde nó gaolta sna hionsaithe marfacha a tharla ansin ar na mallaibh. Daoine amuigh ag baint sult as an saol, básaithe. Scaoileadh marbh iad agus iad ag ól cupan caife.  Daoine caillte agus iad ag éisteacht le ceol.

Na scealtaí a chuala muid ó na daoine a d’éalaigh ón halla ina raibh an cheolchoirm, daoine a bhí ina luí ar an urlár agus na gunnadóirí ag scaoileadh orthu, daoine a bhí ag iarraidh iad féin agus a gcairde a chosaint. Deacair a chloisteáil. Deacair a chreidiúint.

Ach ní chluinimid na scealtí ó  daoine i Siria nó i dtiortha eile sna ceantair nuair a chailleadh a bpáistí, nó a dtuismitheoir, nó a gcara mar gheall ar ionsaithe ón SIIS nó ionsaithe ó ladrainn de chuid Mheiriceá, nó ionsaithe ó eitleáin de chuid na Fraince. Ní fheicimid na deora. Ní mhothaímid an brón.

Ach tá an brón chomh láidir i Siria agus atá sé i bPáras. Tá na deora chomh fhiuch i Siria agus atá siad i Páras. Agus beidh na mairbh marbh, chomh fada céanna i Siria agus a bheidh siad i bPáras.