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Irish Social ForumPress Conference: Irish Social Forum critical of new EU Constitution

category national | irish social forum | press release author Tuesday October 14, 2003 10:19author by Barry Finnegan - ISF Communications Groupauthor email john.finnegan3 at mail dot dcu dot ieauthor phone 085-1223454 Report this post to the editors

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."

Quotes end.

Further information:

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)

Related Link: http://www.IrishSocialForum.org
author by Joepublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 13:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For months we were told that the ISF couldn't oppose the bin charges because it didn't take positions. Now it appears that it has taken a position in opposition to the EU constitution! How does that work?

author by Barry Finnegan - ISF Communications Grouppublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 14:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors


indeed. A well raised point. BUT:
The ISF has NOT "taken a position in opposition to the EU constitution!"

I do belive, and thanks for bringing it up, that the top headline SHOULD read:

Irish Social Forum Press Conference: Irish Social Forum PARTICIPANTS critical of new EU Constitution

HOWEVER: - if you read the opening paragraph of the press release it explicitly says:

"Many in the Forum see the EU as promoting the same neo-liberal agenda as the World Economic Forum."

Meaning: It is not the ISF itself which believes in having a critical position on this proposed EU constitution. It is the people who are participating in the ISF who are critical of it.

The error was made becuase the ISF does not have an office with full-time staff (yet?!) and we are all volunteers and wee mistakes and typos get made in such an environment - please bare with us!

If any journalists ask, they will be told in no uncertain terms that the ISF does not hold positions on anything - that it is what it says it is: a Forum - i.e. a place. That the ISF is guided by the WSF Charter of Principles and that is explicitly aganist neoliberalism.

My quote expresses a series of factual information and in way reflects that the ISF has an opinion.

The ISF Communications Group are hosting this press conference tomorrow and it has also being discussed at the weekly ISF planning meetings. A group or groups whose members are speaking at and/or attending the ISF next weekend are more than welcome to organise their own press campaign highlighting their issue(s) and the fact that they are participating in the ISF and that they are critical of such and such.

Specifically on the bin tax issue:
you may have noticed that there is a Dublin City Anti Bin-tax Campaign person speaking at the press conference and there is also a Dublin Campaign Against the Bin Tax speaking at the Public Services related plenary on Saturday (Willy C. is organising a replacement speaker for Bríd Smith - who obviously cannot attend due to being jailed for opposing this regressive taxation (that last point was a personal opinion and in no way reflects that the ISF thinks this - because it doesn't think anything because it is only a place!)

Thank you for highlighting this issue, I do hope more people are not confused by the apparent lack of clarity in the headline of the press release and every effort will be made by the ISF Communications Group to be more explicit in its wording in future.

thanks again,
all the best Joe,
see you Saturday?,
- Barry Finnegan
- on behalf of the ISF Communicaitons Group.

author by Joepublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 15:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the clarification, given the day thats in it I'm sure I wasn't the only person grinding my teeth! I intend to be there, circumstances permitting.

author by Cianpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 16:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't mean to be pedantic, but been critical of the new EU constitution does not mean neccessarily opposing it.

Many people would be critical of the EU - not all would fully oppose the EU 100% (though of course some would).

In fact it is quite possible to give critical support for something like the EU constitution. So for participants in the ISF to be critical of the new constituion is really a very broad and potentially diverse view to take.

author by dunk - FUSPEYpublication date Tue Oct 14, 2003 20:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

hope the screening "globalisation and the media" acts as a nice warmer upper for the social forum. there will be a discussion after, it would be great if some of you could come along
bolton st 6.00 thursday

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=61637
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