Irish Odds and Ends

Writing in the Dublin Evening Press (19/8/57), Fr. Robert Nash, S.J., says that somebody showed him a leaflet recommending Catholics to pray for the Communists; the idea being that each Catholic should “adopt” a special Communist in order to convert him to the faith. He continues: “Who he or she is will be known to God. For this precise person we are invited to pray much, to do penance, to commend him or her constantly to Our Lady”

Many prominent Communists, like Douglas Hyde, he continues, have found their way into the Church; but for those converted, millions are still “blinded and hardened, goaded to an insane hatred of God and His Church.” But, says Fr. Nash, “Suppose you entered into a pact with Our Lord to devote your life to the conversion of one of these? ”

Yes, suppose every Communist was converted to the Catholic Church. What good would that do for humanity? How would it, for example, solve the terrible poverty of thousands of Irish workers? As we see it, it would only mean that the Communists were exchanging one set of wrong ideas and attitudes for another lot— those of the Catholic Church, an organisation equally dictatorial intolerant and dogmatic as the Communist Party.

The solution to the problems facing working people, in Ireland as elsewhere in this life—the only one we Socialists know of—will not be solved by joining or putting faith in either the Communist Party or the Catholic Church. Neither warrants working-class support.

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Nationalised Industries compete in England
Nationalised concerns, like private ones, are run to make a profit—and to make as large a one as possible, even if this means one State concern having to wage war on another. And this is now happening in England.

Under the heading: “Shock for the British Post Office,” an Irish Independent (20/8/57) editorial comments:—

“A novel revolt against the Post Office has broken out amongst the nationalised industries in Britain. Two of the regional electricity boards have decided that the cost, under the new increased postal rates, of sending out bills to customers would be so high that the bills will be delivered by the board’s own employees. The campaign is still in the experimental stage; but there is no doubt that it can effect substantial economies. The North Western Electricity Board will save £10,000 a year by having 250,000 quarterly bills delivered by the meter-readers. One can only guess at what the London Electricity Board, which has begun to deliver accounts by hand to 1,300,000 customers, will save.”
And later in the editorial the writer says:—
“Trade Unions will be quick to realise that their members (in Eire) would be the first to suffer if a campaign of the kind in Britain were to spread to this country.”
For our part, we hope that English meter-readers in the British Electrical Trades Union will have something to say about this move by the Electricity Board to save money by making them more work.

It is about time that workers everywhere—in Britain, Ireland, Russia and elsewhere—realised that Nationalisation is no use to them, whether they work for the nationalised concerns or not.

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Economic decline in Eire
According to the Irish Statistical Survey for 1956, issued by the Central Statistics Office on August 21, 1957, and published in The Irish Press, there was a decline in the national income last year. The drop was three per cent. on the 1955 figure.

The total national income in 1955 was £462 million—last year it was £449 million. Profits from agriculture, forestry and fishing fell by £11½ million in 1956; other domestic profits declined by £2½ million. Industry’s percentage of the national income, at 25.2 per cent., showed little change since 1954.

Personal expenditure on consumer goods and services dropped 3 per cent. on the 1955 figure. During the year the number of cattle on the farms dropped by 1.2 per cent.; poultry by 3.2 per cent.; sheep increased by 3 per cent., and pigs by 10.3 per cent But industrial production declined during the year by 4 per cent.—this decline in industrial production was most pronounced in construction and repair of vehicles, in distilling, boat building and repairing, furniture, sugar and mineral waters.

The Survey states that the total labour force was down by 13,000. The direct drop in the numbers working was 19,000, with an increase of 6,000 unemployed. The decline was made up of 10,000 in agriculture, 4,000 in the manufacturing industries, and 4,000 in construction. Compared with 1951 the total at work is down by 59,000. Of course, many of these workers are now abroad, in England and elsewhere; but the annual percentage unemployed was 7.7 last year compared to 6.8 per cent, in 1955.

From this statistical survey it can be seen that the Irish economy, which is predominantly agricultural, is a capitalist one, and is not in very good shape. Life for the Irish worker, whether he works in industry or on the land, is indeed an insecure one.

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Sinn Fein policy is futile
Speaking against the internment and the “jailing of Irishmen” by the authorities at Curragh, Mr. Seamus South “appealed to the people to join Sinn Fein, which, he said, was a lawfully constituted organisation . . . Their aim was the re-unification of Ireland as a thirty-two county republic and the re-establishment of an All-Ireland ‘Parliament. They had been accused of wanting to create a civil war, but they did not want that” (Mr. South was speaking at a Sinn Fein meeting at Listowel, and was reported in The Kerryman (24/8/57).

Whether Sinn Fein achieved their aim of re-uniting Ireland and re-establishing an All-Ireland Parliament, they would not solve the problems facing the Irish people—the problems of poverty and general insecurity.

The mass of the people suffer from these problems because they own little or no property in the means of life. They are either propertyless industrial or farm workers—when they are not unemployed—or their farms are too small to enable them to make sufficient money to live a comfortable life. (*)

Only when Irish workers and poverty-stricken small farmers unite together to make the land and the other means of life the common property of all, together with the workers of other lands, will they be able to solve their problems. Emigration is not the solution—only Socialism is!

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(*) Sixty per cent, of the farms are under thirty acres; and the recent survey, carried out by the Central Statistics Office, showed that the income level on the majority of these farms was too low to create incentives for young folk to stay on the land.
This factor is the main cause of our rural exodus.” —The Sunday Press, 25/8/57. Emphasis theirs.

Peter E. Newell,
Co. Kerry, Eire

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