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Ireland’s Sinn Fein has offered citizens a truly just and constructive Manifesto for Ireland’s 8th February 2020 Election


On the 14th of January last month Ireland’s Taoiseach (Leader) announced a snap election for 8th February 2020. On that day I wrote this Z.Net blog on how I thought about that. Now this new blog hopes you may have first read that, instead of me repeating it to much in this one.

(I’m not a member of Sinn Fein and so apologies for any unintentional mistakes in my interpretation of them. I encourage you to read their actual manifesto yourself. I’m just me, an Irish Citizen and Artist hopeful for a change of government for the better, looking at options. Also apologies of course to all the people who’s problems I haven’t understood or obviously had time to mention here.)

What used to be by far the two largest Irish political party’s of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, have been un romantically engaged for some years now in a ‘confidence and supply agreement‘ where Fianna Fail allows Fine Gael’s minority government to govern. As we approach this Irish election on 8th of February, opinion polls show both party’s way down and the Sinn Fein party is perhaps becoming the lead party or at least equal to each of these two in people’s support nationally, if the country votes both these old main party’s down to an historically low amount of seats, FG and FF may try to finally kiss and tie the knot in a proper coalition, though still even with both party’s seats together they may not muster the minimum 80 seats to form a majority, for that they’d then call in ex trysts like the Greens or Labour. This will all be for what they seem to believe is in their party’s best interests, as they see coalition with Sinn Fein as some type of black hole into which they will be consumed by all their worst nightmares. But we’ll be told by them and many of their media supporters that ‘its for the good of the country’ when obviously if there is a surged Sinn Fein mandate they should then be in a government coalition and why not?

Sinn Fein have finally unexpectedly surged, why? They are the most robust and complete party to offer people a real committed chance of socially progressive change. They have an excellent Manifesto, its responsive, sane and constructive, and its spending figures the department of Finance has verified add up. Unfortunately the surge was unexpected and Sinn Fein has only fielded 42 candidates for election. But, if a new government can not credibly agree to form after this election, ‘another election is possible later in year’. Then maybe Sinn Fein could field over 80 candidates so that all the people who are wanting to vote for them now would be able to see those votes result in elected candidates. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail might decide to finally join there two party’s interests into a coalition ‘for the good of the country’ but it will only be because ‘the country’, has so radically not agreed with them.

On the 14th January I wrote this about Sinn Fein and the coming Election:

Sinn Fein are a national party that is socially progressive, embracing of minorities, refugees and immigrant community, and has the strongest ambition I can see, in a large party, to get real progress actually begun soon on our countries largest failings and continuous shortcomings in health, homes, environment, education, and working opportunity’s for the variety of potential ideas people in Ireland might realise, and I hope they will support a more progressive welfare system that’s unconditionally there as a foundation for all. Also a real support for community workers, culture the arts and sport!

Sinn Fein who delivered the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace and progress to Northern Ireland, has said it wants to form a government and will embrace coalition. A coalition is actually well suited to being a more democratically vital and responsive form of government. A coalition of progressive left would be good, but Ireland’s Greens and Labour will seek to pitch themselves as more conservative left coalition partners separate from Sinn Fein on the left and willing to do a deal with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail (who are the two largest party’s, they represent perhaps a half of votes). All these party’s often disparage and insinuate dark things about Sinn Fein because of the ‘Troubles’ in the north that have mostly ended since the Good Friday Agreement all signed north & south in 1998. Its bizarre the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland work in government with Sinn Fein but the interests of established Southern party’s will not.

Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail could in fact form a strong coalition, if Fianna Fail’s present leadership can embrace this, it could be good and possible, it depends on, can Fianna Fail truly remember again their more progressive and ambitious origins that emerged out of Ireland’s revolutionary era?”

So here now is Sinn Fein’s 2020 Election Manifesto and having read it I am greatly encouraged by it. Clearly determined actions to solve the constantly worsening crises in Ireland of health and homes, also a comprehensive variety of cogent responses to many new and outstanding problems a variety of Ireland’s many people and communities face. Their environmental policy goes way beyond ‘ambitious’ distant platitudes through cynical exploitive diktats, it doesn’t put costs on citizens who have no options, it has a substantial plan to create options in expansion of public transport and more, it commits real funding and has in depth understanding of the necessary journey of steps and goals in order to build a green future, including a credible understanding of a ‘just transition‘. They present a manifesto that is inherently realised in the down to earth needs and participation of people’s lives, its obvious Sinn Fein resolves to cast off the shackled despair of our market led society, we are not referred to as merely ‘consumers’ and other branded masquerades that distance us from having a common sense understanding and participation with our state. Their foreign policy has a clear and heartening return to our Republic’s active conscience internationally, it has the wit to play our size to what has always been its best strength, as a trusted diplomatic state for justice, neutral of the interests of big powers, as the wisdom of Ireland’s struggle in history ingrained in us. Sinn Fein has committed its integrity to our return as an exemplary United Nations member willing to participate in the justice of international courts and law.

Jigsaw Street Prayer

Downing Street 1921, London Irish sing and pray for days in rain,

while Lloyd George & Dev talk inside.

from ‘Revolutionary Ghost’ series by Antonio Carty

‘Supporting The Arts’

Sinn Fein’s policy section for culture, heritage and arts has good ideas which are of particular interest to me being an artist. (Sorry if I devote a bit of extra time to this area, but it rarely gets discussed!) I like their idea of a local council administered state funded artist’s living wage, its manifesto is budgeting 4 million a year for that, so that would provide €10,000 a year to 400 artists or €5,000 to 800, there is more struggling artists than that, but its a good useful shift. I like their priorities, they’re understanding that underpaid or un paid but dedicated artists require real material support, not infantile advice hubs about how to communicate and not be so impractical and stupid making uneconomical art, which is all I find Fine Gael’s ‘Creative Ireland‘ flagship has been about doing.

As far as I see Fine Gael’s funding has been going not to artists but to the greater mass employment of an art administration and curator controlling class who vet and prescribe which artist’s art and vision they wish to help ever see an honest light of day in our actual public mind, through their control over state funded art centres, public exhibition spaces, bursary’s and grants. In Arts Council grant application forms, equal opportunity is now divided between artists and curators. Curators have been empowered to think that they are the creators, the brains of the operation, born to orchestrate the skilled but vision-less artists they select and curate, artists are the decorators to service the realisation of their vicarious vision, they get the higher credit, without creating a thing, but artists are been given no option but to seek to enter their enclosures, in our national farm’s version of ‘Supporting of the Arts’.

Personally I’ve wasted so much time and effort repeatedly applying to County Councils & Arts Councils and only ever received one grant, which felt cynically given as it was much smaller than the amount they could give and the amount I clearly needed. To gain this I’d spent well over a week diverting time and energy from working toward the reality of my actual exhibition, into tailoring a proposal to suit their narrow grant application’s prescriptive criteria, yet that done my perfectly eligible proposal received a grant of just €300, but my costs in the end where about €3000 what’s the point, I could of taken those couple of precious weeks to earn more money than that! I’ve rightly decided I’m on my own, there is no arts council, no county council to help me in my work, there never has been, and at least I don’t have to ever again distract my art into their narrow presumptive criteria of application demands.

But, I would love if their was accessible supports in Ireland that recognise that the state does not chose and own art, but it supports its creation and helps those that dedicate their working lives to an expression of our life and experience of existence here, by making their art out of their own vital free thought and vision. Irish culture can only be the better for hearing free voices reach the public mind, and the best of it, will naturally endure by its long term merits to us all. Fine Gael’s arts policies over last decade have brought in more unnecessary curators than Ireland’s amount of priests in the 1950’s! A good curator can be a great help to artists, but it is rare one comes along who can truly judge well enough to open the gates of the heart in heaven for art!

So, I was most happy and relieved to read Sinn Fein clearly recognise in their manifesto that the state doesn’t own or produce the art, that it is the product of people, but it wants to better support its creators. They also want to support RTE, Local Councils and the Arts council and fund them more, but getting these bodies to actually help artists and creative industries better, will be a challenge, they haven’t helped me.

Take RTE, I believe in the merit and need of a public broadcaster, but if the public broadcaster we’ve actually got is not politically impartial, not truly representing the view of the powerless but more favours and presents the mindset of the powerful, and if its not committed to an open minded public broadcasting and dedicating its funding to supporting new dramas, documentary and the arts and culture that needs their support and opportunity, then blindly supporting them is not good, they must be held to live up to their merited ideal.

But Sinn Fein’s priorities are essentially good in their 100 page packed manifesto’s proposal of commitments, with them in government a meaningful public debate to push for better institutions and holding them to account for action, will be a real and worth while participation for artists and all of us to engage with.

Fine Gael’s doesn’t like debates, on the formation of their arts plan together with local councils around Ireland, I came listened and gave my thought out contribution to all in Carrick on Shannon’s Dock Arts Centre. But the ‘conversation’ led to no action on the provision of anything I needed. The Fine Gael minister tried to shoot, score and leave after his opening speech, unfortunately for him I was so eager and prepared he couldn’t get out before I gave my speech, he looked at me with imperious contempt the whole time I spoke and then left our ungrateful gathering, bloody artists, don’t they realise they’re basically worthless to the economy?!! Following that pretence of public input, the Fine Gael art policy I find has been a worthless condescending waste of time, called ‘Creative Ireland’ its the product of their spintopia’s wizz kid John Concannon who brought us expressions that turn life and thought into empty branded advertising like ‘The Government of Ireland’ the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ and ‘Creative Ireland’. He went on to head the Fine Gael’s disgraced and then disbanded ‘Strategic Communications Unit‘. Creative Ireland offers no help with the real costs of materials, facility’s and opportunities to exhibit, which is all I would like help with.

Okay back to other matters!

She Rose

Constance Markievicz & the Women of 1916.

from ‘Revolutionary Ghost’ series by Antonio Carty

A Responsive, Sane and Constructive Manifesto

I like all the sections of Sinn Fein’s 2020 manifesto. By listening to people’s difficulties and their conditions in Ireland’s variety of areas they’ve realised the underlying problems besetting each, and they’ve identified what needs to be taken on and counteracted. Like policing and possibly ending the problem of super trawlers destroying natural fish stocks and the ocean environment, and by removing this problem they will help smaller fishermen have the room within the necessary EU fishing stock quotas to return to sea with viable working lives. They don’t want to increase corporate tax at the moment, but do at least want to increase the diversity of nations that bring foreign direct investment to Ireland’s economy so we’re not just reliant on USA or British investments that may soon become more unstable for example. I encourage all to enjoy a good read of this manifesto. I have found it down to earth, far reaching and full of a brave and practical continuity of heartening ideas that puts the good of life as the true centre to be served and supported. Its a revelation of a manifesto that connects so many issues with good clear priorities, and with fair realistically costed commitments. That have been verified by the Department of Finance. I will be giving Sinn Fein my top votes.

The ‘Green Vote’

If your main concern is in voting ‘Green’ in response to the reality of a climate catastrophe rapidly accelerating in its manifestations around our world, read Sinn Fein’s environmental policy’s and priorities. Remember The Green Party and Labour Party are happy enough to just support Fine Gael or Fianna Fail even though both these large party’s actual voting records in support of good progressive environmental policy’s are the lowest. Sinn Fein’s green deal is more comprehensive and its fairly prioritised, they are a much bigger and complete party for government than the Greens, so give your green vote to them and you’re likely to actually see what’s in their manifesto reach the light of day, instead of seeing the ‘Green’ party as a minority again getting little done while their larger partner uses the environmental emergency to just tax the crisis, without funding the big growth in usable alternatives for public transport and all the rest. Sinn Fein has many integrated ideas here, the manifesto is well worth a read to more fully understand them. If the Greens would actually support a coalition with Sinn Fein for a truly progressive government that would be good to, but from their last term in government coalition voters may mistrust their commitment to the social justice that is at the necessary heart of a just environmental transition.

Stability and Taxing Wealth

Sinn Fein’s changes to the tax treatment of multinational corporation’s intellectual property assets being in Ireland will bring a boost of revenue while our corporate tax haven situation lasts. But Sinn Fein wants to diversify the amount of foreign investment so we become less dependant on our precarious foundations of being an international tax haven. Undercutting other nations revenue through being a tax haven is destructive, as it feeds and accelerates the bankrupt destructive competition now known as our international ‘race to the bottom’. International corporate power not paying fair tax has caused the missing tax that ends up been shifted into public austerity, only through our national democracies working together internationally to agree and universally commit to holding the line together, to raise the tax, wages and regulations on environment and worker rights that we must oblige big business to pay where ever they go on earth, under all our democracy’s. On such a universally level playing field, companies moving and shredding jobs won’t have incentive, they will instead fill out like trees in a forest , all the available areas of market and places to produce. Business can settle with us and continue to compete in a constructive positive way through product quality and usefulness. Small business ideas can grow with more public finance to give them support and better wages will help the markets of our real economies. This is essential to the reality of our long term stability, freedom and survival together internationally. But getting there I appreciate for now Sinn Fein can’t just pull the plug on our low corporate tax rate. That will need a new co-ordinated and progressive internationally agreed plan. I like that Sinn Fein restate that ‘Internationalism has always been a core part of Irish Republicanism

Realistic Manifestos?

Any manifesto that is not planning on a big increase in spending and getting the extra money from taxing wealth is not running for election with a realistic manifesto or budget plan, if you claim, as all the main hopefuls for this election are, that your party plans to start really solving the housing and health crises that have not been solved over last decade of Fine Gael and before. Or raising low minimum wages, better rewarding and relieving the longer harder hours for some or the lack of hours for others, providing the availability of material supports for business start ups and struggling artists, for rewarding child rearer’s and home carer’s for the sick, disabled and elderly, who work for little or nothing and all the other costs not accounted in boasts of our growing GDP.

The real costs and work at the heart of the nation is insufficiently funded, yet the GDP is grand, the economy is ‘humming’, people are just to stupid to understand how successful they should be!? We obviously need the realistic stable healing pair of hands of Fine Gael or & Fianna Fail to continue our treatment, to do more of nothing but educate us better on their success with yet more spins and photo opps.

But I hope people will disagree and instead vote for a more ‘realistic’ truth, that surviving and even thriving through Brexit and global economic crashes wont need an Ireland that hasn’t solved its housing and health crises and re adjusted its dependence on corporate tax haven use. It will need a government competent enough to tax the wealth and spend it ambitiously to quickly solve the nation’s weaknesses and create a much more robustly diverse economy and society able to grow through the greater participant opportunities of its people, with services and welfare needs made universally available and ensured, letting tax naturally return it from those who’s income does not need it, that is how you protect with universal dignity not humiliation, by fixing, not hunkering down and continuing to call crises and broken situations stability and success for the winners.

Sinn Fein’s Manifesto is the most realistic plan, to facilitate, grow and protect this country we share.

Birth of the Dail – 1.’

(Witnesses to the 1st Dails. Roundroom, Mansion House Dublin 1919-21)

from ‘Revolutionary Ghost’ series by Antonio Carty

Having A Border Poll Over Next 5 Years

The border poll, offering the option for the Northern Ireland UK state and the rest of the Republic Ireland to perhaps form a unified country would be great if a majority in all of northern Ireland’s communities first want it. A united Ireland would of course solve the Brexit border problem, when we where all in the European Union we didn’t need a border regime. I don’t see it as a vital priority to the growth of social justice. But as long as campaigning is sensitive and all communities must first consent as was signed in Good Friday Agreement then that’s fair. I disagree that its to soon to have a vote, now over next 5 years is a good time because Brexit makes it a relevant necessary issue of choice for all in the North. Even if a vote takes place but does not pass, it would mean that having one again is more normal and not such an unimaginable choice.

‘Facing the Future’

People’s lit faces at night as Eamon De Valera gives speech, county Clare 1922.

from ‘Revolutionary Ghost’ series by Antonio Carty

Fine Gael decisively boosted the election of Boris Johnson

It makes sense that Varadkar saw the possible election of Corbyn and UK Labour party, who would certainly have been better on Brexit for Ireland, as a threat to the viability of Fine Gael ideology in Ireland. Boris Johnson is a good fit for Fine Gael, Fine Gael have often met and adopted election strategies and obviously much sloganeering advice from the Tories in the past and have taken and implemented their cruel and failed schemes like ‘Job Path‘ and the whole Privatisation Ideology Fine Gael has wedded us to, is of course at the core of the British Tory party.

So, Varadkar in Fine Gael’s interest not Ireland’s, went over and gave Boris Johnson the big media spin handshake in October 2019, showing the British people, who had come rightly to see there been some problem with Brexit and the reality of the Irish border, that actually no its grand, sure Boris is great, he’s your man to get things done, go and enjoy your Brexit, how could that cruel curmudgeon Corbyn have been deceiving you there was some big problem with your good old Brexit and Ireland?! Shortly after Johnson, who had been at record lows in opinion polls, surged back in popularity over the next weeks and called a rush election before anyone could think to much, and he won a landslide as the stand-up comedian who ‘gets things done’. Now Varadkar, down in the Irish polls after he copied Johnson with trying his own rush election job over here, is been fetted by British media who mistrust Sinn Fein, and he’s spinning an act like he’s ‘tough on the Brits’, but spin doesn’t protect Ireland or mean anything real, its just a useful hype to bully people into acting the way you wish. Johnson won’t protect Ireland either, he has shown no integrity to anyone he shakes hands with. Varadkar says Fine Gael is the vital team to handle Brexit crisis, but they helped get Johnson’s Brexit elected because they didn’t want Corbyn’s Labour more than the best interests of Ireland. We need to get Fine Gael and their interests out from the vital position of representing Ireland.

Strong Foundations, Not Spin.

Good foundations weather storms. Sinn Fein is right to tax the wealthy in order to fix the main crises in our country’s foundations, in health and homes, in environment and investment in welfare and growing the real economy, that’s not ‘madness’, that’s not ‘destructive’, its a plan for sane constructive action, not spin.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail and all the party’s posters and slogans declare they want a new better Ireland. But when Sinn Fein actually budgets to tax and invest in that becoming a reality, their rivals happy rainbows spin dissolves into what an outrageous negative disaster it would be to actually invest properly and solve the crises. The most dangerous thing Sinn Fein propose is taxing the wealth of the much better off to help pay for it, why is that so dangerous to the other main party’s? Because it might turn out to be right, and popular enough that many more people will see sense and be brave enough to vote for it and give such change a chance.

Debates Farce

Its good that RTE eventually relented to popular pressure in the opinion polls and invited Sinn Fein’s leader Mary Lou McDonald to take part in their televised debate of what is now emerging to be the three main party’s leaders in the country.

In an other larger debate including smaller party’s, chaired by Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates, Yates was happy when this rare chance for the public to get a TV debate inflamed into farces and was not audible and civilised, because I think he hopes it helps create the sense that we where all better off before this rude and inappropriate Sinn Fein surge! Though perhaps its just the natural insincerity of his wanna be shock jock ego, many in Irish media chairing our politics, share this problem of putting their own ego before allowing guests to actually answer them at all, lest they ruin the hype of the chair’s loaded statement masquerading as a question! People believing Ivan Yates an ex Fine Gael minister is not supportive of Fine Gael, is like thinking Fine Gael actually roars at the British Tory’s on Brexit instead of curling up on their lap by the fire of their fellow ideologies. They spin a sense that they spar against each other, but its just distraction, they both work in each others interests, we should realise that and not believe they’re honestly independent.

Birth of the Dail – 2.’

(Witnesses to the 1st Dails. Roundroom, Mansion House Dublin 1919-21)

from ‘Revolutionary Ghost’ series by Antonio Carty

Fine Gael’s Cynical Neutrality on Israel’s Crimes

On the Irish Seanad(Senate) Bill passed to ban the sale of goods from Israel’s or any other nation’s illegally Occupied Territories, Fine Gael stands alone against its implementation. Its a conscientious bill that supports international law and some beginning of justice and respect for the terrible struggle of Palestine’s people. Nearly every other Senator has voted in favour and it now has the support of the majority it the Irish Seanad and awaits a faithful working implementation by the Irish Dail (Parliament). Fine Gael spin it that they don’t want to take sides in the ‘dispute’ to remain neutral so there can be ‘dialogue’. But in this situation inaction is not neutrality, because one side is basically powerless, Palestinians lives have been invaded, robbed of their homeland, murdered and imprisoned with out justice since 1948.

That’s why Irish people support them, as the passing of this Illegally Occupied Territories Trade Ban shows. Israel is the invader and thief of Palestine, the United Nation’s agrees but USA the most powerful nation corrupts this and supports and promotes the Israeli crime to keep going further, so Fine Gael who believes its a virtue to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted, pick a spin on Irish Neutrality by saying they seek a higher ground in remaining neutral. But that’s not neutral, when one sides people has all the power to murder the lives and rights of the other, then not boycotting them is taking the side of the oppressors, it is to silently consent to a screamingly obvious crime against humanity. We can all clearly see Israel’s military snipers calmly murdering distant unarmed Palestinian protesters in their brave and now desperate Great March of Return and then we see the snipers also killing the doctors who try give aid to these poor people dying under fire, its a worsening snuff movie. Our historic Irish neutrality is meant as an active conscience for justice that will not be bullied by the interests of the powerful, we must begin to boycott Israel and peacefully oblige its interest to seek a just peace with the Palestinian people’s elected leaders in the international criminal court and the facility of the United Nations. Neutrality only has integrity if it is actively pushed and worked by us through our universal conscience for justice in international situations. Otherwise our neutrality is just a convenient and a cowardly excuse to consent to the powerful.

Irish Neutrality is born of a courage and conscience we learned through our own experience in history, it means to seek justice for the powerless by avoiding been bullied and railroaded into supporting the actions of the powerful that be, then and now. I’m happy Sinn Fein support this view, they support working through the UN and not NATO and they actively support the recognition of the State of Palestine and the Dail’s proper implementation of the Ban on Trade with illegally Occupied Territories bill.

The conscientious integrity of our active Irish Neutrality earns us respect and trust in this world, to go along with and even help the crimes of the powerful does not bring long term rewards, the powerful will respect us less and worse we won’t respect ourselves.

We now commemorate the Irish Revolutionary period from last century, they struggled to win a world thru’ their conscience. When we act in conscience our world becomes more real and beautiful, we embrace each other and everything is possible in our empathy. When we trade and surrender our conscience for fear or convenience to please a private power, we become dumb and worthless. In the last years public austerity has moved our values even more off centre to protect private profit and wealth. In its central interest we have been bullied to believe our conscience is a luxury the economy can not afford. But in each and every struggle for conscience is found the proving of a person’s own intelligence and together in a society, it informs the true integrity of our democracy.

So what value is any profit worth, if we can no longer afford our conscience?

Dawn Tide

Pearse rises & Nelson falls, a new morning awakens in Dublin after 1916.

from ‘Revolutionary Ghost’ series by Antonio Carty

Here is Sinn Fein’s Manifesto 2020, I encourage you to read it and vote tomorrow. Though I would also love Clare Daly and some others to be in the coalition and have their well deserved chance also, to be a big part of an excellent new government of construction and progressive social justice through a responsive from us all for a real change for the better.

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