Unions must represent people bearing brunt of austerity

The exchequer deficit in Ireland was €1.6 billion at the beginning of 2008. The exchequer deficit at the start of 2013 was €15 billion. Over the corresponding five years from 2008-2012 inclusive, the total 'savings' by way of public sector pay cutbacks, public spending cutbacks and tax increases amounts to €24.4 billion. By Dr. Tom O'Connor of Cork Institute of Technology

There's never been a better time to be an internationalist

Reading the Observer recently (14/10/2012) brought my thinking back to the nature of political struggle and the party structures that we have in the nation state.

Lester Brown, an environmental analyst and president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington had an article in the paper. He has a new book out - Full Planet, Empty Plates – in which he predicts “…ever increasing food prices, leading to political instability, spreading hunger and, unless governments act, a catastrophic breakdown in food.”

Are Syrian lives less worthy?

While trying to understand what is happening in our modern history and how the world is handling revolutions and fights for liberty, I find myself in front of a big question mark and no common sense, wisdom or intellect can help me understand. Didn't our ancestors fight for human rights, to reach for a life in peace and freedom with equal rights for all? By Sumou Al Nassea, Syrian activist.

The danger of brushing extremism under the carpet

Last month the Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik was found guilty of killing 77 people and wounding 242 in a murderous rampage last year. Breivik’s actions were undeniably wicked and grotesque. However, Breivik was found to be sane – in other words, this was the work of a rational, intelligent human being. No sinister voices in his head; no obscure songs played backwards issuing subliminal murderous missives.

Where is Occupy now?

On 8 October 2011 the Occupy Dame Street camp was established. But the next five months made it clear that such a disorganised (or “non-hierarchical” to use their term) protest would not be effective. On 8 March 2012 An Garda Síochána dismantled the camp and any campers that had remained were gone for good. But the campers had certainly generated public debate around the issues they had raised.

Barwick's gaffe and our selective nationalism

Nothing gets the goat of the Irish quite like a sports-related injustice. In 2009 a Thierry Henry handball mobilised the nation into a marching, protesting, boycotting behemoth. The display of outraged solidarity truly was something to behold; the type of display sadly lacking when it came to the clearly more trivial matter of the Government of the day selling the country down the river in the 2008 bailout and thus condemning the country to decades of hardship. Fast forward to 2012, and it is clear that Ireland’s sporting skin is as thin as ever.

Do we really care for children?

As we digest the outcome of the Independent Child Death Review Group’s report into the death of children in care or known to the Health Service Executive, published yesterday by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Frances Fitzgerald, we hear calls increased investment to put in place the safeguards that are required to ensure that this never happens again.

A spectre is haunting Europe - The spectre of Syriza

“A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies”

-Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto