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Economics of Fianna Failure: Slashing Education Grants Undermines Smart Economy

7 Feb

Cut of 60% in Student Grants

Mary Fitzgibbon (Independent Candidate, Kerry North/West Limerick) has warned that cuts to higher education grants will severely disadvantage local students who wish to study at nearby colleges.

A cut of 4% in higher education grants was announced in the budget. More recently, the Fianna Fail government quietly amended the grant criteria in order to disqualify thousands of students who attend college in their home county.

At present, the full maintenance grant is €3,120, and students with a home address within 24 km of college receive a lower grant rate of €1,248.

However, the government recently increased the travel distance required in order to qualify for the full higher education grant. From September, college students whose parents live up to 45km of college will only receive the much lower grant of €1,248.

The Fianna Fail plan will hit over 18,000 students nationally and involves a total reduction in grants of €30 million per annum. Continue reading


Independent Candidate Condemns Use of “Forced Labour”, Supports Student Nurses.

6 Feb

Mary Fitzgibbon

Mary Fitzgibbon (Independent Candidate for Kerry North and Limerick West) has condemned the use of unpaid workers in the public service as a disgraceful development that is tantamount to “forced labour”.

“Fianna Fail has introduced a new level of exploitation into the workforce by forcing prospective public servants to work for free in order to obtain experience and training,” said Mary.

“We are seeing this for student nurses who are having their stipends reduced to zero and we’re seeing it in the forcing of unemployed teachers to work for nothing. We are even seeing it in the deployment of the unpaid Garda Reserves to run major policing operations, like crowd control at football matches.”

“These raw recruits are being coerced into replacing for free the thousands of experienced frontline workers hemorrhaging from the system.  The inevitable result is a dramatically worsening public service and a system rushing towards chaos.” Continue reading

Ministerial Pensions: Looting In The Last Days of Irish Junta

28 Jan

A band of government Ministers is on the rampage in a final grab during the last days of the FF-IMF junta.

The bonanza of filthy lucre for failed Ministers is truly shocking and is well summarised in the video below from the Tonight WithVincent Browne show (TV3 28/1/11).  The voice audio is by Mario Rosenstock of Gift Grub to the soundtrack of Endless Art by A House.



Missing in Inaction: ICTU Deserts Aer Lingus Crew

25 Jan

The Aer Lingus dispute is a key battleground that will determine how Irish workers will be treated in the decade ahead.

As part of the so-called ‘Greenfield Agreement’, the cabin crew previously agreed to huge pay cuts and massive concessions about their conditions of service.

Now Aer Lingus wants to drive a coach and 747 through those existing agreements and to mount a never ending assault on workers.

ICTU Twins in Hiding?

With so much at stake for workers, where is the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)? Not a dicky bird from David Begg (General Secretary) or Jack O’Connor (President). Complete radio silence and not even a three line statement on the ICTU website. Have the ICTU twins entered the witness protection programme along with Enda Kenny?

Amazingly, the lock out of the workers at Aer Lingus is of no consequence to a union leadership that is hell bent on a single ambition – the continuation of ‘partnership’ and the benefits that it bestows upon an elite of union insiders.

Begg Flies Business Class 

Strike Busters: Colm Barrington (Chairman), Christoph Mueller (CEO) and David Begg (Picture from Aer Lingus Annual Report)

Surprise, surprise – David Begg is a member of the board of Aer Lingus.

Bertie Ahern rewarded him with this appointment in January 2008 .

Begg sits comfortably alongside the stockbrokers, accountants and the other business barons on the Aer Lingus board. Begg must have even gotten to know Seanie Fitzpatrick until the bankster exited the Aer Lingus board at the end of 2008.

The plan for strike busting and locking out the workers was approved by the Aer Lingus board on which Begg sits. Planes with a scab crew have been hired in at a cost of €400,000 a day. The board has even enlisted the help of Ryanair who have provided aircraft and crews. Michael O’Leary says that Ryanair is always willing to assist ‘if we can help a union to lose’.

Three Questions

We have three questions for David Begg:

  1. Why are you on the board of Aer Lingus?
  2. As a member of the board, what have you done to help the workers from being locked out in this extraordinary fashion?
  3. Given what the management there are doing, why haven’t you resigned yet?

UPDATE: 28 January – Double Agent David is Outed

David Begg and his friends in IBEC have come together to have talks with both sides in the Aer Lingus dipsute. LRC Director of Conciliation Kevin Foley is also being briefed by IBEC Director of Industrial Relations Brendan McGinty and ICTU General Secretary David Begg.

Which side is Double Agent David working for now?

UPDATE: 31 January – Double Agent David is Back Inside, Again

And then things got even murkier – it turns out that Begg’s membership of the Aer Lingus board was as a representative of the employee share ownership trust. However, this trust has recently had its stake in Aer Lingus reduced and so poor David is no longer eligible to continue on the board.

Fear not, we have today’s announcement that, given his sterling work to date, Begg is to be reappointed to the board, but no longer as an employee representative.  Presumably David will be only too delighted with his new role. Although keeping track of which side he is supposed to be on at any given time must be getting  harder and harder. I suppose that’s why he gets such a hefty salary…

As nation burns – union leaders busy themselves writing letters to the Irish Times

1 Jan

It is now over a month since the ICTU march in Dublin on November 27th and the question arises, what have Irish union leaders done to build upon the support of the 50,000+ people who turned up on that bitterly cold day? The mood at the march was certainly very clear – enough talk, time for action. The booing of Jack O’Connor and David Begg said it all – “we’ve heard enough of the blather about fairness. You have hundreds of thousands of members, when are you going to do something about it?” Continue reading

IMPACT Bites Back – Against Its Own Members, That Is

16 Dec

Our exposé of IMPACT boss Shay Cody’s shameless boasting to TD’s about how much he had managed to shaft his own members has elicited a furious response from the union. Gone are the soothing, reassuring words to members, the hallmark of IMPACT’s line on the Croke Park Agreement to date.

Instead, in an email circulated to members, IMPACT’s Information Officer Bernard Harbour let slip that, aside from TD’s, the damning letter had in fact been circulated to all senators as well. The excuse – a craven effort to curry favour with those hostile to the deal, an effort backed by their executive committee. Continue reading

To those that have, from those that have not

8 Dec

Baroness Margaret Lenihan

While introducing his budget Minister for Finance Lenihan said in the Dail:

Everybody pays and those who can pay most will pay most.

While he now has the honor of being voted the worst EU Finance Minister for two years in a row, his mendacity knows no bounds. Continue reading