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Irish Social ForumPress Conference: Irish Social Forum critical of new EU Constitution
irish social forum |
Tuesday October 14, 2003 10:19 by Barry Finnegan - ISF Communications Group john.finnegan3 at mail dot dcu dot ie 085-1223454
11.30am Wednesday October 15, 2003.Earl of Kildare Hotel, Kildare St, Dublin
The Irish Social Forum next weekend is part of a worldwide citizens' response to the social injustices, environmental degradation and erosion of human and democratic rights which come with the global neoliberalism. Many in the Forum see the EU as promoting the same neo-liberal agenda as the World Economic Forum. During the weekend up to forty citizens groups, organisations and NGOs will be participating in the Irish Social Forum.
Speaking at the Irish Social Forum press conference, Asha Amirali of the People's Rights Movement of Pakistan said: "The struggle of landless peasants resisting eviction by the state in Pakistan is an example of people demanding that they be the ones making decisions about their lives, not an invisible elite. We look forward to participating in the Irish Social Forum and meeting other people who are also engaged in such struggles. We hope that we can find ways of mutually strengthening each other and emerge with an expanded notion of community and co-operation."
Asha Amirali will be speaking at the Irish Social Forum conference about the struggle of one million Pakistani tenant farmers against eviction from state-owned land they have traditionally farmed.
Commenting on the proposed new EU Constitution, Barry Finnegan of the Irish Social Forum said: "The new EU Constitution, to be introduced upon during Ireland's Presidency next year, raises many of the same issues as would have been raised by the cancelled World Economic Forum summit. Both the EU and WEF are promoting neo-liberalism and corporate globalisation within the World Trade Organisation. Changes in the proposed new EU Constitution will allow decisions about education, health and cultural services to be made by Qualified Majority Vote. This will open the possibility for the EU to agree to make these services tradable within the General Agreement on Trade in Services - that is - to open them up to privatisation. We intend to highlight these anti-democratic changes and to work with others to challenge them."
Bill McCamley of Dublin Bus and SIPTU said: "Right-wing politicians in Ireland cite EU requirements in arguing for the privatisation of public transport. But the Transport Minister has gone much further than those requirements. The recent Altmark judgment in Germany undermines their case. This landmark judgment removes any doubt that state funding for socially desirable public transport objectives, provided by publicly owned bus and rail companies, is neither illegal nor anti-competitive."
Raising the issue of immigration control, Ivana Bacik said:"The EU seems more concerned with the free movement and interests of capital and business rather than with human beings. Fortress Europe is being reinforced to keep out those unlucky enough to live just across its borders. And now in Ireland we are moving to deny some children born here their full rights of citizenship - the Minister for Justice is continuing to deport the parents of these Irish citizens. We must continue to press for a Europe that treats all of its people equally - and which welcomes people rather than turning them away."
Referring to the campaign against refuse charges, Chekov Feeney of the Dublin City Anti Bin-tax Campaign said: "The bin tax, which the state is trying to impose through jailings, is the first step towards the privatisation of the service. Other services like water, health and education, which are currently run by the state, will surely follow. This is part of the neo-liberal agenda of the trans-national institutions such as the EU and WTO. The effect is to shift the burden of taxation further towards the poor while eliminating the concept of public services. The neo-liberal world view sees everything being run on a for-profit basis; services will be provided according to the ability to pay and those who can't pay will be excluded."
Commenting on the Irish Social Forum, Conall O'Caoimh of Comhlamh said: "The Irish economy has become globalised. The Social Forum has emerged as a way of creating a global society, and as a way to balance the excesses of the globalised economy. The Social Forum is about cross-fertilisation. Those working on issues related to trade or the environment can link up with others working on gender, anti-poverty, or militarisation. The Forum links these people in a single movement and shapes the emerging alternatives."
Asha Amirali 087 227 9704 (or contact Ian McDonald 086 605 9122)
Conall O'Caoimh 087 972 4271
Ivana Bacik 086 813 3751
Bill McCamley 087 906 6461
Chekov Feeney 087 793 9931
Barry Finnegan 085 142 3454
Brendan Young 085 713 1903 (for ISF Communications group)