1 of indy - Fri Sep 20, 2019 01:43
A Strategy for Reducing Emissions, Pollution and Making Cities Liveable
The case is made for the provision of free public transport in every major town and city worldwide for a multitude of reasons. It has always been a good idea and should have been done a long time ago, but now with three major issues of our time; resource depletion, including oil, pollution and the climate crisis; they make it imperative that we move to such a system, both to conserve dwindling supplies of cheap energy, to reduce the use of vast mineral resources to make hundreds of millions of cars and to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions because climate change is happening faster than expected. The Earth's climate has turned out to be more sensitive and complex than anticipated as evidenced by the recent dramatic record breaking summer ice melts in the Arctic1 in 2007, 2008, 2012 and basically every year since then. With such a large change in the albedo or reflectivity over a huge area of the Arctic, this signifies the jump into positive feedback of the climate system, although it is not the only positive feedback. Combined with preliminary reports that frozen methane is beginning to be released from the Arctic sea floor and tundra and given that methane is 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas, it is clear we are probably at the point of things running out of control. Emissions need to be cut drastically, starting about 20 years ago.

An earlier version of this article was written but unpublished back in 2008 and it has now been revised and published to take account of various changes since then.

The case is made for the provision of free public transport in every major town and city worldwide for a multitude of reasons. It has always been a good idea and should have been done a long time ago, but now with three major issues of our time; resource depletion, including oil, pollution and the climate crisis; they make it imperative that we move to such a system, both to conserve dwindling supplies of cheap energy, to reduce the use of vast mineral resources to make hundreds of millions of cars and to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions because climate change is happening faster than expected.

featured image
Are buses the future instead of the electric car? Heresy?

The Earth's climate has turned out to be more sensitive and complex than anticipated as evidenced by the recent dramatic record breaking summer ice melts in the Arcticc1 in 2007, 2008, 2012 and basically every year since then. With such a large change in the albedo or reflectivity over a huge area of the Arctic, this signifies the jump into positive feedback of the climate system, although it is not the only positive feedback. Combined with preliminary reports that frozen methane is beginning to be released from the Arctic sea floor and tundra and given that methane is 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas, it is clear we are probably at the point of things running out of control. Emissions need to be cut drastically, starting about 20 years ago.

featured image
Maybe global warming is happening after all ....
Arctic sea ice, going going,..gone?

Moving to free and well-designed public transport allows society to deal with these problems in the least disruptive manner and to do so in the most equitable way and it would increase the shared sense of everyone working together to cope with what are essentially going to be permanent problems. Free public transport is not the full solution but is definitely an important first step. Switching to public transport has the potential to achieve large scale reductions in fuel use and it can be done immediately without further research or perfection of any technology. The current status quo plan to replace all the petrol and diesel fuelled cars with electric ones still leaves us with the problem of massive resource usage, a replacement of oil wars for lithium wars, traffic congestion, deaths from air pollution , high accident rates and actually high energy use. It does not matter if the heavily promoted so called solution of producing millions of electric cars is run on renewable energy because it would require vastly more wind farms, solar farms and whatever else compared to a transport solution based on highly efficient, globally deployed free public transport system which would only require a fraction of energy and resources of a car based one.


Hasselt, Belgium: A Case Study of a Free Public Transport System

It is not widely known but there were and are a number of small cities in the world that are already running free or partially free public transport systems. The most famous and popular and the one which others strive to as their ideal, is in the city of Hasselt2 (pop. 70k) in Belgium. This system ran from 1997 to 2013 and was extremely popular but was ended when there was a change of political power.

The free public transport system in Hasselt came about as a result of the city council trying to decide what to do about the chronic traffic and whether to build yet another ring road as the existing one was clogged with cars, even though the city was in debt. Indeed at one stage Hasselt had the highest level of car ownership in Belgium and the city itself had only two bus lines operating.

At approximately the same time in middle of 1996, the Flemish transport minister Eddy Baldewijns, had created an integrated transport policy framework in which public transport was allocated a primary role. The city of Hasselt was one of the first cities to adopt the plan. Mayor Steve Stevaert proposed to give absolute primacy on the city's Green Boulevard (ring road) to public transport. The mobility policy in Hasselt developed into an example of cooperation between the bus line, the Flemish government and the city of Hasselt, under the motto "the city guarantees the right of mobility for everyone".

In an example of the foresight that people possess but rarely get to use, the City Council and Mayor realized that just making it free was not enough and that the system needed to be significantly upgraded. And so the number of bus lines was increased from 2 to 9 reaching every part of the city, the frequency of service increased to every 30 minutes and 15 minutes at rush hour. This was done in the 3 months prior to the service being made free. Other changes were made too, such as creating park and ride facilities, moving large city centre carparks further out and adding traffic calming measures elsewhere and significantly increasing bicycle lanes and cycle ways.

Predictably the corporate media went mad and the officials clearly took the heat but stood their ground on the plan and so the system went live on 1st July 1997. For the city it was an immediate success. Life returned to it once again by allowing public spaces to open up and function properly, filled with people rather than cars.

The figures below from the official city records testify to the success of the scheme.

Year No of Passengers % Increase
1996 360,000 (100%)
1997 1,498,088 428%
1998 2,837,975 810%
1999 2,840,924 811%
2000 3,178,548 908%
2001 3,706,638 1,059%
2002 3,640,270 1,040%
2003 3,895,886 1,113%
2004 4,259,008 1,217%
2005 4,257,408 1,216%
2006 4,614,844 1,319%

Tallinn, Estonia: Case 2 of a Free Public Transport System

From Jan 1st 2013, the city of Tallinn made public transport free for residents and was used as an incentive to get people to move back into the city. The most interesting part is they probably have the best financial method because it is paid out of the city taxes. The more people move into the city and use it, the more tax they will get to fund it as costs go up since more people use it. It still requires the political commitment to make the funding available. Tallinn has since gained 11,000 people and an increase of ?11 million in revenue. That suggests each person is paying ?1000 in city taxes and it is highly unlikely all that money goes to transport which suggests they are getting free transport for much less.

Other Cities with Free Public Transport

There are a number of other small cities in the world which have or had limited free public transport. In some cases it is free only for those under 18 and the senior citizens. In other cases, only part of the transport network was or is free such as inner city hubs and some of these limited solutions are not very effective because they don?t illustrate the full potential. In addition many have suffered with the finance methods used to fund them.

Just recently the country of Luxemburg announced it would introduce free public transport throughout the whole country from next year and some cities in Germany and France are now considering free public transport. Hopefully it is designed well and useful enough that it becomes a permanent success.

Perception, Preparation and Service are very important

Making a proposal to introduce free public transport will go down differently in different cities and towns depending on how good or bad the transport system is in each place. A bad transport system can turn public opinion against it and for those who would oppose the scheme that is their aim. Should a free public transport system, especially in a high profile city, get close to fruition, the opponents would try to sabotage it through bureaucratic channels and politically, lobby against it, and negate it in the media and at the very least try to at least make it ineffective. It would be full spectrum opposition. Make no mistake this is serious business and it would challenge some very powerful players ?e.g. auto, oil industry & car insurance. It is well documented how at the start of the car age, when many US cities had very effective trams and trolley systems, that the growing car companies secretly bought up these entities through front companies and then set about neglecting maintenance, restricting finance and destroying them whilst at the same time heavily promoting the new 'better' alternative -the private motor car. In effect what they did and what the opponents today would do is to try and change the public perception of the concept of free travel and turn it into a negative. And once that idea is planted in people?s heads, it can be hard to dislodge it.

Therefore a free transport system has to been well designed so that people actually use it not because it is just free but because it is useable and effective and releases time previously wasted on the act of driving. The free part is more about making it equitable across all social classes and encouraging uptake.

Taking the case of Hasselt again, they did the smart thing and prepared the system well in advance of the launch date for free travel. When you look at public transport networks of any major city, you find that most of the routes form a radial pattern with all routes heading to the city centre and only a few traversing non central areas. Yet many people on their daily commutes do not follow this radial pattern, but travel to areas on the periphery of the city, e.g. to places of employment like business parks. It therefore makes sense to add and modify routes so that the network resembles more a spider?s web or mesh with multiple routes in concentric circles to allow these other directions of travel. This may not seem important but it is crucial, because if you travel by car to work to some part of the outer rim of a city, you will drive across rather than take the bus in and then back out of the city centre to your workplace which is going to take longer. And whether the bus is free or not, if a more direct route is not offered, then you won't have the time or inclination to make use of it. Practicalities matter

The other thing they did in Hasselt was increase the service to every half hour during the day and every 15 minutes during rush hour. This is just as important. To be useful, the service must be regular, predictable and timely. The service has to be made good enough so that you can depend on it, and gets you to your destination comfortably. Creating a public transport system that involves waiting for ages and then standing in a crowded bus will not work. This means bus shelters to protect from rain, signage, clear maps, timetables and real-time information & apps that are accurate.

Unfortunately the car has taught us to be impatient with the slightest imperfection with public transport but strangely not with cars and that mode of travelling itself. So while people complain a lot publically about waiting for buses for more than 10 minutes, they tend to be less vocal and more accepting of being stuck in traffic at near standstill for 30 minutes or more a day. This must be something to do with the constants adverts over the years showing cars driving along empty roads in beautiful countryside and trying to equate it with freedom. The adverts seem to have been a success in that regard.

Probably one of the most important reasons for the popularity of a car is that you can depart whenever you want and since it is your car, this is equivalent to a 24 hour service. Thus for public transport, reducing the wait time brings it closer to the idea of leaving when you are ready and having a good network that penetrates every area of the city means it brings it as close as possible. The car-centric rosy view of the world of course breaks down when the cars meet up in their thousands on the same busy main roads, namely chronic traffic, resulting in longer travel times, increased costs on fuel and of course stress. In cities, this is where buses can do better and move masses of people quickly so long as buses, trams and trains are given priority and kept clean and pleasant. It can be a lot less stressful to sit back and have a read or listen to music on a bus than to spend a hour gripping the steering wheel focused on the car in front, especially when you know that you could be doing better things with your precious free time. And all the better if Wi-Fi is available on all buses, trams and trains.

Do People Want This?

Most certainly yes. In Hasselt, people absolutely loved their free fare system. In Ireland where if you are over 66 years of age, public transport is free7 on bus and rail countrywide, the scheme is very popular. Polls everywhere consistently show that people are overwhelming in favour of free public transport. For example a nationwide survey8 of Australians revealed two-thirds want free travel on buses, trains and ferries, funded from Federal Government surpluses. There are other towns in the world with free public transport9 but none implemented as well or on the same scale of Hasselt (during the time it was running), but even in these places it is still very popular.

What is often not realized is that most people have incredible common sense but you would never know it from the media which tends to reinforce the false belief that we are too ignorant for thinking about how we should run society and instead we should leave it to the experts that have given us endless wars, waste, and exploitation of the land and oceans. For example polls consistently show that an overwhelming number of people (both on the right and left) are in support of clean water, clean air and protecting the environment. Given the awful state of these resources worldwide you would never suspect that is the case. Actually what it does prove is what an excellent job PR spin and disinformation by various vested interests have done to distort the public "debate".

The key point in all of this is that since the media is owned by vested interests they control what gets debated and the views aired and thereby can shape public opinion through distortions, misdirection and disinformation. In the last few years, it has got worse and most of the fake news is now coming from the same vested interests. Then on an individual basis all of us who are exposed to this daily, make the assumption that everyone has the same opinion as what is presented in the media through print, radio, TV and Internet/social media. This works because humans have an ingrained sense of the wisdom of the (diverse) crowd.10 This probably worked very well for the previous 50,000 years or so of human history, but today the crowd has now largely been substituted with the corporate media and we swim in that 24x7 hrs. And since it does not inform us with true facts, but instead the ones spun by them and an endless stream of distraction, then it becomes harder to make an informed decision. For the great span of time in which the last part of our intelligence evolved, people would have had diverse experiences and survival knowledge and so everyone?s view counted because it would have taken real intelligence to get through life and this is why our minds implicitly seek and go along with the opinions of others because those people opinions counted but today that innate mechanism is the leverage by which PR, propaganda and marketing completely distort our reality.

In general everyone will want something that is free. It?s hard to think of a reason you would want to pay given the choice of paying nothing. Those opposing it will always set out their argument on the basis that we can't make it free because it will harm us, whether it be through increased taxation, job losses, lower sales of cars or increased inconvenience, not that traffic congestion, road deaths, pollution and climate change are ever presented as any kind of problem. There is always talk about costs but the external negative costs just mentioned are never allowed to appear on any balance sheet. Really the argument needs to be viewed from a different perspective which is that transport, currently dominated by the private car is actually costing us all a lot and denying us of other choices. That does not get discussed in any meaningful way.

The core principle behind free transport is simply that by sharing resources (i.e. buses, trams) and costs (fuel, insurance, car tax), we lower the cost for everyone. In fact that is the principle behind any large economic organisation, which is about being able to do things through economies of scale. This is another reason why it is important to make public transport free at least at the point of use but being paid through taxation, because when you have to pay for these shared resources on an individual basis then they do not get shared equally.

What does it Cost and How to Pay for It

Obviously there are costs to running any public transport system and it is worth doing some analysis here to see what they are and what are the tax options since, if it is going to be free at end use then it has got to be paid through taxes of some sort or another.

For the case of Hasselt, figures4 for 2006 give a total cost of ?3.4 million to run the service per year. The city paid 25% of this and the Flemish government 75%. Taking this total and dividing by the population of Hasselt (70k) works out at just under ?50 per person for a year of free travel. Anyone would agree that is an outstanding bargain. Yet in the end the regional government didn?t want to pay it.

The problem with tax is that people don?t have a clear view of where the money is spent and it has been frequently cited for many a country (ref subsidy), how large direct and indirect subsidies are paid out to various vested industries such as the fossil fuel one. In the case of Ireland it was discovered that this amounts to ?4,000m in potentially environmentally damaging subsidies every year. Further on, it is shown that for the case of Dublin with over 1 million people, free public transport could be provided for less than a fraction of this value. This should be borne in mind when the media shouts out how awful free transport would be because it would raise our taxes. We are already spending enormous amount of our tax on truly harmful things. Let?s just divert the tax.

Throughout the world, countries use different schemes for funding public services. Prior to the Thatcher-Reagan right-wing revolution in the 1980s, they were mostly funded out of taxes and back then the rich paid much higher taxes. At the same time the rise of the use of tax havens by multi-national corporations has diverted trillions per year collectively away from national governments and which has resulted in increased taxes at point of use like sales and VAT taxes to partially make up the shortfall. Incidentally the billionaire class produced by this revolution now use their new found wealth through the mechanism of vulture funds to price the present generation out of buying a home and screw them continually for high rent.

From the 1980s to the present, the trend has been to privatise public services and get the public to pay directly. Generally the wealthier part of society has little need for public service, particularly public transport, but health and education too. However this sort of mechanism is one of the least equitable and ends up denying the people who need it, a decent service. Because of the lack of political will (or is it that private security firms and intelligence agency / one percenters nexus have the dirt on most key politicians and thereby own them and control what they legislate for) to fund public transport, it has largely got worse and less useful over the decades. This dynamic has contributed to the huge increase in car ownership since then and all the associated problems. Coincidently higher car sales enriches the already rich.

The types and amount of taxes levied vary considerably from country to country. In some, taxes are raised nationally and city councils are funded from the central exchequer. In others, the councils or cities have limited tax raising abilities ranging from a sales tax to perhaps just a commercial rates tax. Into this mix should be added the equally diverse politics for how the allocation is organised and where decision making and power lies. The balance of power and of finance can have a significant bearing on how easy or difficult it might be for a city or region to implement free public transport. The capitalist class has tried to lock down these choices by legalisation at EU level over running of services and how they should go out to tender and declaring illegal and anti-competitive ?government? subsidies. Essentially they are directives to permanently keep public services, including public transport, privatised. Other incentives waiting in the wings like investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms of free trade agreements would permanently transfer all control to corporations since most of these agreements are to do with not trade but services which include things like education, health and transport.

Therefore to bring in free transport, there are political obstacles, at local, regional, state and even EU level in the case of Europe and no doubt federal in the case of USA. Financial ones would parallel this to some degree.

Clearly the specifics of each city would mean the costs would vary to some degree and it would be very important that the plan on how to fund free public transport is made clear and transparent, otherwise it would be too easy for detractors to raise fears that it would cost everybody more and at the same time use criticism of existing public transport system as a means to demonstrate that it wouldn't work. This could easily cast doubt in people's mind and result in lack lustre public support. And in cities where public transport is worst and likely to have high car usage, it would be harder to make the argument just where it is needed most.

Without a clear example of a working free public transport system and all the benefits it brings, it is hard to imagine what a well-designed, useful free system would be like. As an analogy, imagine if the Internet was not free how that would stifle and kill so many of the positive aspects of it ?that is if they are any remaining left now that social media corporations have seized considerable control of it, through dominance. Would you want to use it then and would you explore it in the same carefree manner? If you had to pay 0.1 cent for every site you visited, wouldn't it dramatically change the whole feel of it? It is still not free since most of us pay an internet provider but after that it feels free and essentially is. One can of course make the argument, especially with regards social media, that it is not free, because we give away all our privacy since that is the product sold onwards.

The underlying principle in all of this is that sharing resources amongst people will always be cheaper than people individually trying to go it alone. As an example taking a conservative figure, lets assume that 20 people started taking the (free) bus for the work commute ?assuming the service is improved to make that possible. Then if each person was spending ?500 to ?1,000 a year on petrol just on driving to work and this is a realistic figure, then for 20 people, this ranges from 20 x ?500 = ?10,000 to 20 x ?1,000 = ?20,000. If say half of those people either got rid of the cars or did not purchase a replacement because they were satisfied with public transport and could function with it, doing short term car rental instead for those cases a few times a year when a car is needed, then the scheme would divert the capital cost of purchase to other more productive uses. For 10 cars this could easily amount to 10 x ?20,000 = ?200,000 available to the economy. And that is just for 10. Scaling this up to a city of a million people, with 1 car per 3 people or 300,000 cars, then whether you have a deferred purchase of 10%, 20% or 50% of cars, the savings of capital for other uses would be enormous besides the savings on fuel. And that money is available to each household. The savings are probably more than would be needed for each of those same households to retrofit them for energy savings or installation of solar panels because heating is one of the other really big users of energy and thereby emissions.

Scaling that up to city size and then to say all the cities in the UK and then to all the cities in Europe and from there to the rest of the world, the savings would be enormous. Collectively maybe the savings would even match or exceed the size of the USA military budget of ?7,000+ million! And maybe the USA and it?s vassals could reduce their military budget as the urge to fight oil wars would be less. Unlikely.

As we can see it would be wrong to focus on the tax cost per person, without also looking at the savings per person and the environmental savings in health, pollution, road traffic accidents and climate change because these are real costs too and not as abstract as we have been led to believe.

The Cost for Dublin Bus Serving 1 million+ People

The original version of this article used 2006 figures and a check of 2014 Dublin Bus accounts show costs and outlays have changed very little so they are still valid.

To help put some numbers on this, the case is taken for the city of Dublin with a population of 1 million approximately. The annual accounts from Dublin Bus for 200612 shows it cost ?260 million a year to run the fleet of 1,100 buses on 189 routes and it carried 146 million passengers (Note: They have since reduced the number of buses, leading to more cars on the road.) The total fuel costs were only ?17 million, whilst salaries made up the biggest fraction at roughly 60%. It is difficult to determine the cost of fare collection and associated administration but it could be anywhere from 1% to 10%. The existing operating budget already includes a government subsidy of ?69 million (27%), so to make the existing service free would require an additional ?191m to the subsidy for the running total of ?260 million. But let?s assume the number of buses is increased by 27% from 1,100 to 1,400, this would give a huge boost to the service in both its geographical coverage and frequency and allow new routes to be established. So taking the figure of ?260m and adding 27% extra costs for the extra buses gives a total of ?330m. Dividing by the greater Dublin population of 1 million, it gives ?330 per person. This does NOT mean everyone would need to be taxed extra by this amount. No one can really give a true and precise cost because there would be so many interacting effects. It would be like trying to predict the effects of widespread internet access 10 years before it happened.

To put this ?330m in perspective, the Irish health budget alone in 2018 was ?15,300m which means for 2.1% of that cost, we could have had free public transport for about 1 million plus people in Dublin. The health benefit cost savings from it probably would have been greater than 2% when you take into account less accidents and chronic health from air pollution.

Back in 2007, Ireland in its then budget put aside ?270m to pay for carbon emission penalities.13 By 2018 estimates for them had risen to ?600m for 2020. Surely introducing free public transport would go some way to reduce the country's carbon emissions and thereby penalty cost. In 2017, the total for all greenhouse gas emissions was 60m tonnes of which transport accounts for 20% for a total of 12m tonnes.

The Hasselt free transport experiment may have been too small because while it was successful and popular it did not put much of a dent on reducing the number of commute to work car journeys. In a large city like Dublin at present the radial network is useless for inter suburban work commute trips and reforming it into a grid like structure (more on this later) would have a chance of making it an attractive and viable alternative than driving to work.

Assuming this was accomplished then if we now take into account the cost to insure and tax a car and get a service done once a year, then for those households currently with 2 cars, the extra car would certainly become redundant under a free travel scheme and the savings that could be made by getting rid of these overhead costs would easily add up to more than ?1,000 a year. Until an useful and successful free transport system is running for a few years, people are unlikely to get rid of their cars altogether and will at least hold onto one. In other words the release of capital allocated to private car ownership would not be released over night but within a few years probably would. Again the savings would be enormous. Right wing politicians ?the same ones who favour large corporations like Apple paying basically no tax (which the EU ruled they should pay the Irish govt. ?13,000m in tax they were let off by it), like to talk about reducing tax to put money back in your pocket. Well introducing free transport could certainly do it. Most people have cars to solve their transport problems. If they can be solved in other ways then they won?t need them. Why else are there so many car adverts ?because they are trying to convince us we actually want these things. We don?t. We want solutions to transport.

The Direct Benefits and Savings

For Hasselt the result was it saved millions on not having to build extra road infrastructure and this has allowed it to reduce city taxes overall so when you start adding in these benefits and many others the cost just gets cheaper and cheaper.

The benefits and savings are many. There are all the obvious ones and then the not so obvious ones and again referring to the case of Hasselt, it seems that the return of city civic life with people back on the streets and squares was the most unexpected and the most rewarding. It brought back the sense of human scale and made it pleasant again to live, work and visit the city centre making it a place where people wanted to hangout and meet up. When you can just hop on a bus for free, it becomes so much easier to meet up with friends and do things. Suddenly the whole city is within your domain.

In some parts of the world, where there is huge opiate problem because people are depressed and live in non walkable cities where all sense of community has vanished, a return to real human interaction might well be part of the antidote.

On an operational level, one of the non-obvious benefits is the cost savings by not having to collect fares and all the associated administration, ticketing and sales. Even getting on the bus is easier because there is no fumbling with coins or tickets, making for faster loading time or put another way, time spent stopped. It?s also safer, because drivers can concentrate on driving and do not have to think about fares or carry out money transactions with passengers.

There are other indirect benefits such as; with people spending less on petrol they have more financial resources for other things. Expenditure on fuel represents a net flow of money out of the country, so it can only improve the balance of payments. As total mileage is reduced, so too does the total number of accidents. It is not widely recognised that accidents impose a significant drain on resources. Estimates for road accidents range from 2% to 3% of GDP due to costs through medical care, loss of work and productivity and various other knock on effects. In developing countries, a serious accident causing death or permanent incapacitation can result in the loss of the main earner for a family with the resultant effect of plunging them straight into abject poverty. In the West what tends to happen is that insurance pay outs are large in order to make it possible to continue existence in these expensive places. That leads to higher insurance premiums which results in the collective burden of cost on the population.

In the case of Hasselt, the experience was that the number of road accidents and consequently road deaths decreased about 80% following the introduction of free public transport. This resulted in significant savings to the health system and emergency services. The savings to the health budget alone more than offset the cost of providing free public transport. And as anyone who has lost someone in an accident knows, terrible grief and pain. For example, in 2013 there were 1.24 million traffic accidents deaths globally according to the World Health Organisation.

That is slightly more than the number killed by terrorist related attacks by a wide margin, but considerably less than the number killed in humanitarian bombing campaigns to bring democracy to far off countries led by the most car dependent countries in the world.

Another significant factor associated with mass automobile use that was realized through research and monitoring during the late 80s and 90s is the levels in the urban atmosphere of tiny dust particles called PM10 particles. In the UK alone, it was estimated by World Health Organisation (WHO) that these particles, mostly caused by combustion, were and still are responsible for at least 12,500 deaths a year due to the range of respiratory problems and other disorders they cause. However recent research for Ireland which has a population approximately 14 times smaller than the UK, gives a death count of around 2,500 per year in Ireland, which therefore suggests the real figure for the UK is probably closer to 30,000 than 12,500. These body counts can be reduced by less cars. Therefore the global number of deaths due to this type of cause is probably far higher than the number killed in road accidents, thereby increasing the total body count further. But hey they are not on the balance sheet so none of it gets counted or matters at least in official discussions about car policy.

A further saving is in the cost to the environment. There are over 1,000 million cars in existence and when you consider all the metal, plastic, oils, paints, fabrics, tyres, glass, rubber, used tyres and so on ?whether these cars are petrol/diesel or electric, the quantity is enormous. Now think that the life span of cars is getting shorter ?not longer and these are generally all replaced every 15 years, the impacts to environment, wildlife and people in the mining and processing of these materials is huge. On the disposal side, the toxic waste dumps are equally devastating. Some might argue or think that cars are recycled. Sadly much is not. If through free transport worldwide that car count was reduced to say 500 million, then that would at least halve the problem thereby reducing the pressure. This all goes to show it is not just about a climate problem, it can be a solution to multiple important issues.

Yet another positive consideration is on tourism and travel in general. Imagine that you are taking a holiday somewhere, anywhere and you have decided to go (by rail) to London, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Munich, Zurich, Rome, Barcelona, Sydney, Tokyo, Mumbai, Bangkok, Mexico, Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, or any other interesting place and when you get there you discover they have what you already have in your own home town ? free public transport. Suddenly the benefits multiply in ways you never think of. This is the stuff of dreams where humanity moves to the next level of maturity and gets its act together. What this actually represents is an increase in wealth for all of humanity. Its a bit like email or mobile phones; if you are the only one using it or owning it, its no use, but when everyone is using it, it increases its utility. Likewise being able to travel freely in any major town or city in the world would enormously increase the scope for sociability for everyone, and this would be so even under the circumstances where we begin to make the first serious efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions

Imagining Free Public Transport Globally

The motorcar is pretty much engrained in our wasteful way of life because it grew up, first in America with the expansion of the suburbs. It helped enable the structure of suburban which led to the development of big shopping malls and wasteful driving. Long ago when you went to the local store it might have been on foot, now that is replaced by hundreds of millions of people driving a few miles each at least once a week, often more, in addition to their daily work commute. On the flip side, compact inner parts of cities, like New York, London, Tokyo, Paris etc where living density is high, finding a place to park a car is problematic and it is quite easy to get by without a car. Free transport would be perfect in those sorts of locations.

So we can see the very physical structure of a public transport system depends on the urban environment. Traditionally many transport networks are radial with everything focused on passing through the centre and does not map well to work commutes. To deal with the outer suburban parts of cities, the transport network needs to be more grid like, so that you can get anywhere easily taking a much shorter route. For a grid, it is vital that the switch over to other bus lines as you cross the grid is seamless and without delay. This means frequent service is ultra important and delays needs to be kept to a minimum. It would also make sense to ensure it was easy to get to the places where people generally drive ?i.e. the big box stores, although maybe internet shopping is beginning to chip away at them.

The public transport network does not have to follow old patterns and styles and can introduce services like local feeder buses to high speed, high capacity backbone hubs. The whole point is to get you from A to B rather than the older model which tended to get you to somewhere in the city centre. As the system gets betters, then over time the restructuring of cities can occur and the public transport system should aim as much as it can, to give as much versatility as did the car for most of your journeys. The system could be constantly refined through the use of frequency mapping that tracks where people are going and makes small adjustments to the network over time to optimize for that.

Assuming for a moment, this was achieved in one large city, then there is no reason it could not be replicated with local modifications in cities all over the world. It would be transformative. Imagine no matter what major town or city that you travelled to in the world, you could either downloaded an App or check the network map at the nearest transport point and just hop on a bus or tram and go anywhere in the city with ease and efficiency, using it as often as you like. It would free up so much. Combine this with things like the now popular and widespread city bike schemes, these would help link up the final parts of journeys. With the reduced traffic, it would be possible to pedestrianize more parts of the cities and introduce much more cycling infrastructure. It is well known from experience especially in places like the Netherlands, as you introduce cycling infrastructure and make it safer, there is a huge increase in people cycling.

It is likely that widespread free public transport would encourage more people to take intercity trains and could reduce the need for short haul flights, since they effectively directly interconnect with transport systems in the heart of most cities. If flying is to be used, it makes more sense to use it when other options are not really viable and that would favour longer distances rather than short city hops.

In some ways there is no need to stop at making transport free in the cities and why not extend it to intercity (land based travel). That is debateable for the moment, but the bulk of the people and the journeys are actually within the cities so it makes sense to tackle them first and the objectives are not just about reducing emissions and associated pollution and health problems, but to reduce congestion and actually enable one to travel on average within the city quicker than people on average do today and also to make this transport facility available to all. Reducing total expenditure by a given country on fuel could also be added to the list of objectives. We hardly all want to collectively use more fuel just for the sake of it. Only the oil companies want that.

China?s Option

China?s doesn?t really do suburbs in the US/European sense and while once largely rural, in the last three decades hundreds of millions have moved to cities and live in densely populated tower blocks. The density in Chinese cities is perfect for public transport. However the number of cars has soared in China and it is probably because they are simply trying to emulate the West when in fact there is no need. With a stroke of the pen, the Communist Party could introduce free public transport and in one single go, change the entire trajectory of the country to a more sustainable footing which they simply have to do anyhow in the long run. They would greatly solve their emissions problems and the worry of energy dependency by reducing it and the famous chronic pollution could be tackled in a major way. China has very significant pollution problems. Staying on their current path can only make it worse.

City Structure: Now, in the Past and the Future

For centuries towns and cities were largely walkable and people centric places and their structure reflected that in terms of their layout with a maze of streets, alleyways creating shortcuts, market squares, public spaces all inter connecting the city core together in interesting non-linear ways which happened to give more character to a place.

If you look at any town or city today particularly in Europe they all have an old tightly woven inner core and are then surrounded by concentric urban circles with each later one being more car dependent than the previous. See for example the Google Earth image of Milan, Brno, Czech Republic, or even Hasselt itself. In some cities the car culture, over time has completely taken over and gutted the old city centres. In the US, the older cities on the East Coast have some residual element of this European model, but the bulk of growth and expansion in the US, took off at the same time the car took off and with the result that the structure of most US towns and cities reflect this influence of Car Utopia. Los Angeles and Houston are two very good examples. As a consequence most US towns and cities are awful and characterless places devoid of life, everywhere looks the same and it is quickly becoming evident that not only are they not very functional, but they are becoming a huge liability because of ongoing unsustainable energy and resource use. Indeed the sprawling relatively low density of cities in the US pose quite a challenge to any form of public transport system, precisely because they are spread out and any return on transport investment will be problematic. The current car centric transport system is largely bankrupt as we push up against the limits to growth. It certainly won?t be around in a 1,000 years whereas the great cities of the world are far older than that.

It is important to step back and consider the span of time of the last few hundred years or so. In that time most of the main capital cities of the world were already well established by then and managed to function for centuries without the car! It is only natural that we should look the same distance into the future for all our cities and towns and to question whether the current car centric, socially excluding form of living will continue, can continue or would even be desirable. The answer is probably no.

 
featured image
Is this the future -except with electric engines?
One hopes not!
featured image
The Dutch use bicycles a lot. And buses, trams and trains too!
Why? -because they are all integrated.

It?s a reasonable bet to say that most people's vision would hope for something a lot better and definitely more progressive especially since an underlying and widespread view is that somehow humanity's lot is one of general improvement and progress according to the narrative of progress. The actual progress will cease if we destroy the place and mentally destroy ourselves by living in soulless places and ceasing any form of community. Humans are deep down social creatures and need to be immersed in real communities for their own mental happiness. Online communities are not a viable substitute as most people have come to realize. The environment you live in has to foster communities and car centric ones do not. It is a simple as fish need to live in water. Humans need to live in places where they meet other people and not just see them distantly through car windows.

Therefore an actual desirable modern city of the future and this does not exclude the slow transformation of your own city over say the next 20 years, would have an overlay of free public transport reaching every corner ?that is used, so that traffic is considerably reduced overall so that more of the existing road infrastructure is switched over to obviously public transport whether bus, tram or rail but also to bicycle arteries and more pedestrianised streets around urban centres. Perhaps even some reasonable fraction of the excessive amount of space devoted to car parks is converted to real parks or housing or something else.

Consider how today we waste vast areas of land to car transport. Compare the width of a single track railway ?probably a few meters to the width of a standard motorway with 2 lanes and a hard shoulder for each direction which is at least 10 times wider and yet they both probably have similar capacity to move people and goods. One is highly efficient in land use and fuel use and the other is highly inefficient in the same categories. It is not exactly progress despite we been led to believe it is. Likewise regular streets in ?modern? cities are much wider because they are built to allow car travel in both directions and in many cases parking on both sides. So percentage wise it is a certainty that cities today devote a much higher percentage of their total area to ?transport? than cities prior to cars. That is just wasteful. Imagine if our oxygen transport system ?i.e. our blood system took up 5 times more space in us that it does. It wouldn?t be very elegant and would no doubt impose all sorts of constraints on our abilities. Well we are constrained by car centric cities and do not even realize it. Go to cities in Netherlands or Switzerland which have really good public transport or the inner part of some old medieval city and one will get some kind of inkling to it.

Conclusion

It should be clear then that the only real obstacle to bringing in free public transport are the political will and the strength to face up to the opponents of such a scheme. On a straight monetary level the numbers look right, and for all the other reasons the justifications to do it are even more compelling. At the end of the day each town and city will only do it because it is of immediate benefit to them.

The total energy required for such a system will always be far less than one where every journey is done separately in a car. With the car, we are in a sense creating the overheads of the vehicle and the engine for every person. Since a bus or tram can be used by 40 to 100 people and then the same bus or tram used by a different set of people a little while later, we are therefore reducing the transport overheads by a factor well in excess of 100. Looked at this way the amount of mining for metals and other minerals is greatly reduced. If everyone had an electric car, would there be enough lithium in the world to build the batteries? And if they were powered by wind power, how many turbines would that be? Is there even time, resources or capital to do this? And would we want to despoil the landscape even more?

Clearly making public transport the central means of transport drastically reduces all these demands because it means the scale of the energy problem and simultaneously environmental problem is smaller the less energy and resources you need. Besides do people really think that they will be driving their kids to school in 200 years time and themselves to work? Not only will this car future not come to pass, but its a complete unimaginative and regressive vision and everyone knows it.

References and Links

1a. Arctic Sea Ice Shatters All Previous Record Lows http://www.nsidc.org/news/press/2007_seaiceminimum/20071001_pressrelease.html

1b. The Methane Time Bomb http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/exclusive-the-methane...

2. Hasselt Free Transport Zero-fare public transport http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-fare and See also podcast interview: Tyee Interview: Kathryn Gretsinger interviews Dave Olsen about the reasons for making transit free https://thetyee.ca/Views/2007/07/05/Dave_Olsen.mp3

3. Dublin Annual Reports: http://www.dublinbus.ie/About-Us/Reports/Annual-Reports/

4. PM10 particles are particular matter of 10 microns size or less. PM10's are readily inhalable and because of their small size are not filtered and penetrate deeply into the cardiovascular system where they cause damage. More at: www.smfrancis.demon.co.uk/airwolvs/23healthpm10.html which gives the estimate for 12,500 deaths in the UK a year due to PM10s. A similiar estimate can be found in this article: A Cleaner, Quieter Britain Will be a Healthier One | 10 Jan 2008

5. See New Era Hi-Tech Buses

6. See the book The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. For more info see www.randomhouse.com/features/wisdomofcrowds/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

7. ?4.1bn spent on environmentally damaging subsidies - Central Statistics Office https://www.rte.ie/news/environment/2019/0604/1053483-damaging-subsidies/

8. European cities consider making public transport free to tackle air pollution at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/25/paris-mayor-mulls-making-public-t...

9. Blog on Free Public Transit Success at https://fptsuccess.blogspot.com/

1 of indy - Thu May 23, 2019 23:18
Case Study: Dundrum - Sandyford Area.
These local elections on Fri 24th May are more important than ever. The reason is that up and down the country Fine Gael with help from Fianna Fail have allowed corporate vulture funds through various government breaks to them to buy up valuable tracts of land and to buy up thousands and thousands of apartments and homes. And the result is they are screwing people for rent.
featured image

These local elections on Fri 24th May are more important than ever. The reason is that up and down the country Fine Gael with help from Fianna Fail have allowed corporate vulture funds through various government breaks to them to buy up valuable tracts of land and to buy up thousands and thousands of apartments and homes. And the result is they are screwing people for rent. In this feature a case study for South Dublin of how they corporate takeover has occurred and driven prices sky high and priced out ordinary people from ever buying a house or apartment. Found out what is happening in your council area and how FG and FF councillors encourage this madness because it is happening in towns and cities all over the country.


On councils up and down the country, FG and FF councillors in coherts with FG government policy to hand over valuable assets to corporate vulture funds at knock down prices -have allowed this situation to occur all in the name of solving the housing problem. The result is the housing crisis is worse than ever, homelessness is at all time high and young people are being forced to buy houses in towns way beyond Dublin forcing them into long commutes, contributing to our greenhouse emissions, long hours and stressful lifestyles. Many young people now see no hope of ever affording a home and while they are paying huge rents it prevents them from saving any money for a deposit. And house prices themselves are sky high, driving up costs for employers and employess alike.

This is all thanks to FG and FF and it has to stop and must be reversed. If people have any sense they must not vote in any FF or FG candidates or any Independent candidates who are pseudo FF or FG candidates.

To illustrate this crisis the excellent work done by Brian Lesson, Eirigi in the Dundrum Sandyford area to highlight the corporate take-over in that area is described below. People Before Profit have also been active in the area too high-lighting the corporate takeover in the area including pointing out the reluctance of the council to give go-ahead for building social housing on public land in Cherrywood. This is because the councillors want to keep prices high for a private development nearby and having cheaper public housing built at the same time would take away the imperative for people to rent at absurd prices in corporate owned apartments.

1 of indy - Wed May 22, 2019 01:13
A Vote for FG / FF is a vote against your best interests
The European elections are this Friday on May 24th and there are good reasons to consider your vote very carefully because it does make a difference because practically every bit of law passed in the EU has to be adopted by Ireland at some point. It is a great way for politicans here to say the "EU forced us to..."
They said that one about the attempt to privatise water during that campaign.

It can be safely assumed that most people are for internet freedom, protection of the environment and in particular to live in places with unpolluted water, clean air and safe from exposure to toxic chemicals. These are all no brainers. In the area of military we have seen how years of bringing democracy to the Middle East by bombing them has resulted in devastation and huge waves of human refugees and immigration and time and time again the nefarious activities of the intellegence agencies of the big powers like USA, UK, France and NATO show them to be heavily linked to the various terrorist groups, via training, funding and weapons supply through third party countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar in order to disrupt and overthrown regimes they don't like. So do people really want Ireland to drop it's neutrality and get aboard these very costly military adventures and volunteer it's soldiers for basically ordained mass murder? At a guess, the answer is probably no.

So what have the present MEPs done in their last term in the European Parliament?

featured image

Well for one the Fine Gael MEPs are consistently backed the corporate, pro-military, anti environment and internet censorship agenda whilst all the Left leaning and Sinn Fein MEPs have consistently been against corporate control, anti-military, pro-environment and for internet freedom. The only FF MEP managed to be absent for most of the votes mentioned here and it would seem, has been playing the line of being non-committal until the party gains more strength and can then openly go back to supporting the status quo. And least anyone is in doubt, the status quo is anti democractic and pro corporate domination of society. The sections below will give some examples but it should be clear that it by voting for FG you are voting against your own interests. The only reason anyone has ever voted for them or will is because the election marketing machine is so effective and marketing works extremely well. Just think of all the junk people constantly buy that they do not actually need.


The Issues

In general the purpose of the mainstream media is to pretend to discuss the issues and they often do discuss what appear to be the issues but the main point is to prevent any mention of the ones that really affect your life, especially the overall economic sea that you swim in. Hence in the past few days the Irish media has focused heavily on corruption and expenses and there is no doubt that these are legit to a degree but what they do allow is then for each of the candidates especially from the pro-corporate parties (i.e. FG and FF) to come along with a series of platitudes how they plan to be more transparent -very vague indeed, or honest politics or to be responsible etc. The other one they all love to support is measures to prevent global warming. So how many of them back free public transport which requires no new research and could be implemented overnight and would lead to a rapid reduction in CO-2 ? The answer is none except the Left candidates!

Below the box here listing the current MEPs and the candidates for each reason, we go into some of the real issues that unfortunately are behind the scenes but should be center stage.

Box 1: Euro election 2019 basics

There were 11 MEPs seats last time around, but with UK leaving, this will increase to 13. The extra two MEPs will then take their seats if and when Brexit goes through.

The country is divided into three regions and the break down of seats is:

>
Year Dublin South Midlands-North-West Total Seats
2014 3 4 4 11
2019 4 5 4 13

Current MEPs

Current MEPs Party Affliated Political Grouping
Lynn Boylan Sinn Fein Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left
Matt Carthy Sinn Fein Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left
Liadh Ni Riada Sinn Fein Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left
Luke Ming Flanagan Ind Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left
Nessa Childers Ind Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
Marian Harkin Ind Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Mairead McGuinness FG Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats)
Deirdre Clune FG Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats)
Brian Hayes FG Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats)
Seán Kelly FG Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats)
Brian Crowley FF European Conservatives and Reformists Group

For the political groupings see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_groups_of_the_European_Parliament

Current MEP Candidates for all 3 regions


Ireland Dublin candidates (19)
=========================
Clare Daly (Independents for Change)
Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin)*
Gillen Brien (Solidarity-People Before Profit)
Rita Harrold (Solidarity-People Before Profit)

Eilis Ryan (The Workers Party)
Gary Gannon (Social Democrats)
Ciarán Cuffe (Green Party)
Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil)
Mark Durkan (Fine Gael)
Frances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael)
Ben Gilroy (Independent)
Alice Mary Higgins (Independent)
Hermann Kelly (Independent, but part of the Irexit movement)
Tony Bosco Lowth (Independent)
Aisling McNiffe (Independent)
Mark Mullan (Independent)
Eamonn Murphy (Independent)
Gemma O?Doherty (Independent)
Alex White (Labour)

Ireland South candidates (23)
========================
Sinn Féin: Liadh Ní Riada, Co Chorcaí, MEP
Independents 4 Change: Mick Wallace, Co Wexford, TD
Green Party: Grace O?Sullivan, Co Waterford, Senator
Solidarity - People Before Profit: Adrienne Wallace,Co Carlow, Office Administrator

Fianna Fáil: Billy Kelleher, Co Cork, TD
Fianna Fáil: Malcolm Byrne, Co Wexford, Head of Communications, HEA
Fine Gael: Deirdre Clune, Cork, MEP
Fine Gael: Seán Kelly,Co Kerry, MEP
Fine Gael: Andrew Doyle, Co Wicklow, TD
Labour: Sheila Nunan, Kilternan, Dublin 18, Teacher
Direct Democracy Ireland: Jan Van De Ven, Co Wexford, Entrepreneur
Non Party: Diarmuid Patrick O?Flynn, Co Cork, European Parliament Accredited Parliamentary Assistant
Non Party: Paddy Fitzgerald, Co Tipperary, Retired Farmer
Non Party: Walter Ryan-Purcell, Co Kerry, Tour Operator
Identity Ireland: Peter O?Loughlin, Cork,Teacher
Non Party: Liam Minehan, Co Tipperary, Farmer
Non Party: Theresa Heaney, Co Cork, Homemaker
Non Party: Dolores J Cahill, Co Tipperary, Professor
Non Party: Maurice Joseph Sexton, Cork City, Scientist
Non Party: Breda Patricia Gardner, Co Kilkenny, Complementary Health Therapist
Non Party: Allan J Brennan, Co Wicklow, Project Manager
Non Party: Colleen Worthington, Cork, Homemaker
Non Party: Peter Madden, Co Tipperary, Environmental Educator


Midlands North-West Candidates (17)
==============================
Cyril Brennan (Solidarity-People Before Profit)
Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin)*

Luke ?Ming? Flanagan (Independent)*
Saoirse McHugh (Green Party)
Patrick Greene (Direct Democracy Ireland)
Dominic Hannigan (Labour)
Peter Casey (Independent)
Fidelma Healy Eames (Independent)
Dilip Mahapatra (Independent)
James Miller (Independent)
Diarmaid Mulcahy (Independent)
Olive O?Connor (Independent)
Michael O?Dowd (Renua)
Anne Rabbitte (Fianna Fáil)
Brendan Smith (Fianna Fáil)
Mairéad McGuinness (Fine Gael)*
Maria Walsh (Fine Gael)

1. Our Neutrality and Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) -aka a Military pact that the Dail voted 75 to 42 to join in Dec 2017

While this is article is about MEPs, whereas the Dail voted us in, behind the scenes both were working together towards this goal.

In Dec 2017 during a Dail debate, Simon Coveney said PESCO has nothing to do with an EU army. It does!

One should take note that the FG MEPs, in particular Brian Hayes voted for "Establishing the European Defence Fund" on 12th Dec 2018 and then recently in April for the European Defense Fund with a planned budget of €13 billion.

In addition under PESCO and FG strongly support it, Ireland's defence spending would have to increase from €946m (2018) to € 3,000 milliion by 2020. That is over €2 billion increase! It is more money than collected by the Property Tax and the Water Tax if the latter had succeeded. Where is that money going to come from. Why of course from health and social services. And we will be told that under PESCO the EU made us do it. But make no mistake FG/FF are fully aware of this. And remember both FG and FF voted for PESCO.

BTW, this is what Jean Claude Juncker had to say about PESCO
?I want us to dedicate further efforts to defence matters. A new European Defence Fund is in the offing, as is a Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defence. By 2025 we need a fully-fledged European Defence Union. We need it. And NATO wants it.? Jean Claude Juncker, September 2017

And here is what the German Defence (or Offence??) Minister had to say:

?[With PESCO] We made a huge step forward because for the very first time since the European Union has existed we have a legal frame around the European Defence Union. The beginning of the European Defence Union is here.? - German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, February 2018

According to the analysis by People's News: "Ireland can get out of PESCO by simply informing the Commission of its desire to do so ? under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. And that is our demand!" For more on PESCO, People's News has produced a fine booklet and a pdf copy can be downloaded here. https://www.people.ie/peace/pesco.pdf

And if you want to keep track of it see: https://www.pesco.ie/ireland

2. The European Defense Fund (EDF) -€13 billion on War Making.

If you listen to those for this, they are generally patronising against those who oppose it and these very same people who would claim to abhor violence and righteous about huge sums of money that will be used for research to purchase and produce weapons that will ultimately be blowing people to bits in faraway-ish places.

The research community itself recognises as always happens when you fund defence research it actually takes money away from real useful civilian research. See for example the report: 1,000 researchers called on EU Parliament to vote against the European Defence Fund

So which way did Irish MEPs vote for the European Defence Fund on 18th Apr 2019

For:
Brian Hayes (FG)


Aganist:
Matt Carthy (Indep)
Luke Ming Flanagan (Indep)
Marian Harkin (Indep)


The rest were absent and Sean Kelly (FG) abstained.

But here is the real chilling effect. The dead hand of the military working their effective ways in the shadows and it is as People's News reported: Ominously, MEPs surrendered parliamentary scrutiny over the fund. Effectively, after the vote MEPs will have no veto right over projects funded by the EDF.

But just so one thinks FF has no role in this, they do. Again People's News:

Fianna Fail is fighting the 2019 EU Parliament elections as a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). This means that FF is in favour of the introduction of decision ? making by Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in military and foreign affairs matters in the EU. Whereas Ireland currently has a veto, with 0.8% of voting power in Council, FF (and FG ) would effectively hand over decision ? making to the larger belligerent countries.

Adherence to NATO/PESCO finally sees the Republican Party sign off on any pretence to support neutrality.

The decision of the FG / Independent Government supported by FF to actively support the integration of the Irish Army into the emerging EU Army via PESCO is a clear decision to restore the values of John Redmond. Except this time the Irish will be expected to kill and die for the Army of the European Union instead of the Army of the British Union. It will also mean massive cuts in expenditure in health, housing and social welfare as our military expenditure increases from ?946 million to something like ?3 billion. If you have not joined PANA by now, it is time you did.

3. Internet Freedom and The new EU Copyright Directive

If you missed this over the past few months, it is simply the most backward and regressive bit of legisalation ever to have passed as it puts the freedom on the Internet into a permanent strait jacket. Ever since the Internet rapidly came into existence the established media and power brokers -i.e mainly the 1% or even 0.01% have been caught off guard with people getting access to all sorts of information and they don't like it. This is what all the hooha is about regarding fake news. It is not about Trump and fake news. It is about you being an informed citizen and they don't like it one bit. So this recent EU Directive "corrects" that. It is an extremely effective means to shutdown all websites except the very largest and well funded and since these are usually owned by billionaries and fellow travellers of the 0.01% it means you won't be informed of much from them.

The most repressive parts are in Article 13 (renamed to Article 17) apparently and require all websites to automatically have "upload" filters that check everything loaded (pictures, video, text, audio) to have no copyright material in them. Fair use is gone. And it requires license arrangements to be put in place between all parties to allow it along with payment. So who has the resources to do this? Virtually no one. So goodbye to forums, alternative news sites and probably most of those sites you have read over the last 10+ years that actually informed you of anything and didn't just distract you.

Here is what one of the Internet's Found farthers has said of it:
Article 13 means the ?transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.? That?s a feature, not a bug. Keeping out small platforms that could challenge the monopolies that have shown they?re willing to work with governments certainly makes life easier for those governments. The internet once held the promise to liberate humanity. The European Parliament believes that?s too big a risk to take.

So how did Irish MEPS vote for this repressive Directive that basically handed back control of the Internet to large corporates. Why it was FG !

Irish MEPs on the Final Vote (Apr 2019)
For:
Marian Harkin (Ind)
Brian Hayes (FG)
Sean Kelly (FG)
Mairead McGuinness (FG)

Against:
Luke Ming Flanagan (Ind)
Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein)
Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein)
Nessa Childers (Ind)

Absent:
Liadh Ni Riada (Sinn Fein)
Brian Crowley (FF)
Deirdre Clune (FG)

Source: https://saveyourinternet.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/EP-2019-Plenary-Vote-O...
There is some coverage of the Directive at: Stop the European Parliament from Destroying the Internet - The #SaveYourInternet fight against Article 13 continues

And on the previous vote in July 2018 that helped get the Directive along the process the votes were:

For: Brian Hayes (FG), Deirdre Clune (FG), Sean Kelly (FG)

Against: Luke Ming Flanagan (Ind), Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein), Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein), Liadh Ni Riada (Sinn Fein), Nessa Childers (Ind), Marian Harkin (Ind)

Absent: Brian Crowley (FF), Mairead McGuinness (FG)

Source: https://www.siliconrepublic.com/enterprise/eu-copyright-vote-meps

4. Corporate TakeOver and Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms

You never heard of ISDS? So what is it? Again from People's News

ISDS allows multinational companies access to an obscure, parallel justice system closed to the rest of us. Calling it a court system for the 1% would be generous. It is really a court system for the 0.01%.

ISDS has allowed corporate interests to trump those of the public time and time again. Countries have been threatened for passing pollution regulations, approving health and safety measures and for halting or banning fracking. It has been used to defend land grabs, environmental destruction and lock in privatisation of key public services.

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms ? like the investment court system in CETA (the so-called free trade agreement between the Canada and the EU) ? enable big corporations to sideline domestic and EU courts and directly sue governments whose environmental or social policies may affect their investment.

So in Canada where ISDS is already in effect and causing havoc, the corporate world has argued because it is part of the CETA agreement it should apply in the EU and they went to the European court where clearly they had pulled the right strings in advance because -

In a very disappointing judgement, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has ruled that the investment court system in the Canadian EU trade agreement (CETA) is compatible with EU law. Unfortunately for campaigners fighting hard against the corporate stitch-up that is CETA, the court decided that the ISDS part of the deal was in fact compatible with EU law.

The opinion is a surprising turn of events as only last year?s Achmea ruling wiped out investment arbitration between EU countries because it undermines the EU judicial system.

Source: https://thepeoplesnews.home.blog/2019/05/06/ecj-cjeu-fails-to-protect-democra...

Again how does this relate to our MEPs. Well back on Feb 15th 2017 there was the concluding vote to a motion put before the European Parliament (a few months earlier in Nov 2016) with several objections to the then recent (Oct 2016) signing of CETA because the more democratic MEPs realized it was a trojan horse for ISDS and this is a sense of it:

Motion of Resolution was: Conclusion of the EU-Canada CETA-Motions for resolutions

Part of the Motion was:

  • whereas the forced implementation of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) procedures remains a serious problem as it gives rise to a system of parallel justice, allowing powerful enterprises to attack one of the fundamental pillars of Member States? sovereignty: the rule of law;
  • Strongly emphasises the need for public debate prior to the opening of any further trade negotiations, together with a clear definition of undisputable standards, of which the precautionary principle is but one example;
  • Considers NOT to give its consent to CETA;
  • Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and the parliament and government of Canada.
Full details of the motion and voting on it at https://www.votewatch.eu/en/term8-conclusion-of-the-eu-canada-ceta-motions-fo...
So what way did the pro-corporate FG vote. Why they voted against the resolution as expected. Surprisenly Childers did too as it was a bit out of character for her. The vote is shown below and speaks for itself. It demonstrates quite clearly why they should not be trusted.

Against:
Brian Hayes (FG)
Sean Kelly (FG)
Mairead McGuinness (FG)
Deirdre Clune (FG)
Nessa Childers (Ind)
Marian Harkin (Ind)

For:
Luke Ming Flanagan (Ind)
Lynn Boylan (Sinn Fein)
Liadh Ni Riada (Sinn Fein)
Matt Carthy (Sinn Fein)

Absent:
Brian Crowley (FF)

5. The Corporate Genetically Modified (GM) Food Agenda and Your MEPs Role

Firstly we hear the constant line in the mainstream media that GM foods are harmless and are going to feed the planet. Both parts of that statement are untrue. They are harmful, indeed can be very harmful and the little testing that has been done, has been carried out by the companies themselves with generally revolving there swapping of officials in the relevant supposed over-sight agencies. The second point is that companies making, promoting and selling GM crops and foods are doing it for no other reason to save the world and prevent us all from starving. If they were so concerned then they would advise us to cut back on meat, because to grow each kilo of animal requires at least 10 kilos of plants -thus eating vegetarian even one or two days a week would reduce the amount of plant material diverted to farm animals and therefore greatly ease any shortages.

The key point to note though about GM crops is that they are genetically modified so that they can apply more weed-killier, pesticides and herbicides in general and the reason is simple. If you douse plants in these chemicals they are so overburden with trying to process them that it reduces their yield. By inserting a particular genetic modification, it can make the plants much more tolerant and so maintain the yield. This means you can apply more chemicals and farmers do and are encouraged to do so. Now these companies tell you this is safe. It isn't. Both common sense and the pre-cautionary principle would strongly suggest you should be using less not more weed-killers and herbicides.

And then there is the vested interest. One of the biggest companies in the world selling GM seeds is Monsanto and they are also one of the biggest companies selling weed-killer in particular their RoundUp Ready which is the highest selling one in the world.

Fine Gael and their fellow travellers and suprisently Maried McGuinness (FG) has consistently backed the GM lobby. The GM companes have fought long and hard to get GM crops into Europe and FG is behind them all the day. The other MEPs from Sinn Fein, and Luke MIng Flanagan and some independents have opposed this.

GM crops are a sinsiter monopoly, dangerous and highly polluting technology. The have resulted in ruin for many farmers around the world, they have resulted in much higher amounts of chemicals used, more pollution, water contamination, damage to wildlife and especially insects which play a vital role in the eco-system, and have given immense power to corporations.

What is really sinsiter is that GM crops are licensed and so the farmer is forced to license them every year. For the past 7,000+ years farming was a shared thing when seeds were freely exchanged and farmers could re-use, save and replant from them. Now they have been fined and brought to court for not paying licenses on their own seeds because the likes of Monsanto and other similar corporations own the patents on them.

In the so called free trade talks called TIPP between US and USA and that Trump subsequently cancelled, thankfully, EU officials have already caved into what is called GM 2.0 -this simply stated that if TIPP had gone through there would be no more testing of any GM plant, animal, bacteria or virus that these companies came up with and they would be allowed in Europe. And the reason is because their scientists had said GM technology is safe, even future stuff not yet carried out and NO further testing would be carried out. These are the sort of 'free trade' agreements which FG and FF are for because during the TIPP negoations FG were constantly promoting it as a good thing.

Box 2: Stopping ISDS

So if you are interested in doing something about ISDS then go to https://stopisds.org/

Here is their stated objectives from the website:

Stop ISDS

ISDS ? short for ?Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement? is an obscure parallel justice system only accessible to the super-rich.

Multinational companies have used this system to threaten governments that dare to stand up to them with claims of up to billions of euros.

Government policies that have been challenged using ISDS include:

  • Regulating pollution levels on a coal power station
  • Introducing health warnings on cigarettes
  • Declaring a moratorium on fracking
  • Halting a mine that would have destroyed whole communities
  • Raising the minimum wage
  • Freezing water tariffs to help the poor
  • Stopping health insurers from making huge profit

And they don?t always have to win a case to get their way. For many countries, the mere threat of a huge claim can be enough to persuade them to back down and let the corporate fatcats win.

When millions of people across Europe rejected the EU-US trade agreement TTIP, many people learned about ISDS (which was part of the deal) and were very angry.

Now there are plans to scale-up ISDS by creating a permanent global court where corporations can sue states. The EU and member state governments want to do this by inserting it into new trade agreements. Their support for such an unfair toxic system must be challenged.

In order to stop ISDS we need to oppose these new deals and get rid of existing ones. Corporations and the super-rich do not need a separate system to protect their rights.

Human beings need more rights, corporations do not.

End Corporate Impunity

They destroy the planet. They ruin lives. They can even get away with murder.

But instead of punishment, they get more power and impunity. Over the past decades, the extent of corporate power has become overwhelming.

If you were to steal so much as a loaf of bread, you could be held accountable in a court of law. But corporations hide behind complicated and opaque ownership structures to avoid legal responsibility. This means that they regularly get away with perpetrating serious human rights and environmental abuses including:

  • Land grabs
  • Murder
  • Ecocide and mass pollution
  • Climate change
  • Forced labour
  • Violence

This is why campaigners and social movements from across the world have united to push for a global system that punishes multinationals for human rights abuses.

A new system for holding corporations to account could be a real game changer in fighting the global power of corporations. It could mean:

  • Local communities from the global south winning the right to take corporations to court in places like France, Germany and the UK.
  • A UN Binding Treaty on multinational corporations and human rights. This will give people an international guarantee that corporations will be held to account.
  • More national and EU-level laws like the French Duty of Vigilance legislation. This forces corporations to take responsibility for ensuring that human rights are not being violated anywhere in their global supply chains.

But there is a big problem. Rich countries ? like the US, and most European governments ? are fighting tooth and nail to stop it. The very same governments who think that global corporations need special rights and a separate ISDS court system, don?t want to give ordinary people the right to hold multinationals to account.

This is why we need to fight hard to make sure our politicians wake up. They need to recognise: Rights are for people. What corporations need are rules.

1 of indy - Fri Apr 12, 2019 22:53
Wikileaks had revealed President Lenin Moreno involved in corruption scandal and now the revenge
Julian Assange who helped setup Wikileaks and in one of the first set of leaks revealed the murderous campaign of the US military against innocent civilians in Iraq amongst many other leaks showing the systematic criminality and inhumanity of the US government was betrayed this morning by the right wing corrupt president Lenin Moreno of Ecuador. Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa ? whose government granted Assange asylum in 2012 ? branded his more pro-US successor Lenin Moreno the ?greatest traitor in Ecuadorian history? for rescinding the asylum claim and allowing British officers to enter his country?s embassy.

At the moment in a damage limitation exercise to try and shutdown support for Assange the corporate press is saying if charged, he could face up to 5 years in prison. This is to make it not so bad, but we can be 100% sure if deported to the USA, they will have a long list of dubious charges and most likely will give him a prison sentence that will more than easily cover the rest of his lifespan for that is the way of such regimes.
featured image
Julian Assange being dragged out of Ecuadorian Embassy

Julian Assange who helped setup Wikileaks and in one of the first set of leaks revealed the murderous campaign of the US military against innocent civilians in Iraq amongst many other leaks showing the systematic criminality and inhumanity of the US government was betrayed this morning by the right wing corrupt president Lenin Moreno of Ecuador. Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa ? whose government granted Assange asylum in 2012 ? branded his more pro-US successor Lenin Moreno the ?greatest traitor in Ecuadorian history? for rescinding the asylum claim and allowing British officers to enter his country?s embassy.

At the moment in a damage limitation exercise to try and shutdown support for Assange the corporate press is saying if charged, he could face up to 5 years in prison. This is to make it not so bad, but we can be 100% sure if deported to the USA, they will have a long list of dubious charges and most likely will give him a prison sentence that will more than easily cover the rest of his lifespan for that is the way of such regimes.

Other Coverage Worldwide outrage over arrest of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange | Former UK ambassador Craig Murray denounces arrest and conviction of Julian Assange | Amid corruption scandals and deals with IMF and Washington, Ecuador?s government betrays Assange | Exposing ?collateral murder? and mass surveillance: Why the world should be grateful to Assange | Every charge against Julian Assange, explained | Ecuador SITREP: How Corrupt History Repeats Itself | 'Our property now': (Most) US lawmakers rejoice over Assange arrest | Roaming Charges: Tongue-Tied and Twisted | Hillary Clinton shows signature style as she chuckles over Assange?s arrest | Toe the line or go to jail: Tulsi Gabbard (2020 candidate) says Assange arrest is a message to Americans | The Martyrdom of Julian Assange | Daniel Ellsberg on the Importance of Julian Assange | Citing Assange's Work Exposing US 'Atrocities,' UK Labour Leaders Speak Out Against Extradition Effort | Why Julian Assange?s Extradition Must Be Opposed at All Costs | The Assange Arrest is a Warning From History
Some previous Indymedia coverage: OCCUPY MEDIA VID (14 mins) solidarity with Julian Assange at Supreme Court | LONDON - Julian Assange speaks from balcony of Ecuadoran embassy marking 6 months. | Julian Assange Has Been Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize of 2019 | We Will Not Be Gagged: Wikileaks |


To help put some background on this story, here is some reportage from the WSWS.org coverage:

On Thursday morning, the regime of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno illegally terminated Julian Assange?s political asylum, inviting British police into the country?s London embassy to arrest him.

Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy by a group of British police officers. Even as he was being brutally manhandled into a police van, Assange challenged his persecutors, ?The UK must resist this attempt by the Trump administration? The UK must resist!?

?Assange?s expulsion from the embassy and his arrest are unprecedented crimes,? said James Cogan, the national secretary of the SEP (Australia). ?A journalist and publisher, who has committed no crime, has had his asylum terminated and has been dragged off to prison in violation of repeated UN rulings upholding his status as a political refugee.?

?The attack on Assange is directed against the democratic rights of the working class. It is aimed at creating a precedent for the suppression of mass opposition to war, austerity and dictatorship,? Cogan added.

?The arrest of Julian Assange by a Metropolitan Police snatch squad is a political crime for which the Conservative government of Theresa May and the Ecuadorian government of Lenin Moreno are politically responsible,? said Chris Marsden, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in Britain.

?The arrest took place after police were invited into the Ecuadorian embassy by the ambassador and following what UK Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan said was ?extensive dialogue between our two countries.? Behind the scenes the Trump administration in the United States is orchestrating events.

?The Socialist Equality Party denounces this conspiracy. We will do everything in our power to mobilise the broadest protest movement by workers and youth against what are preparatory moves to extradite the Wikileaks founder to the US in clear violation of international law.?

At around 5:37 a.m. US Eastern time, WikiLeaks confirmed Assange?s arrest, tweeting: ?URGENT: Ecuador has illegally terminated Assange?s political asylum in violation of international law. He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.?

Several minutes later, WikiLeaks tweeted: ?URGENT: Julian Assange did not ?walk out of the embassy.? The Ecuadorian ambassador invited British police into the embassy and he was immediately arrested.?

British Home Secretary Sajid Javid immediately took to Twitter to declare: ?Nearly seven years after entering the Ecuadorian embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation & @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law.?

The bail charges against Assange are politically motivated and were resolved years ago.

The transparent purpose of the WikiLeaks founder?s detention by the British authorities is to facilitate his extradition to the US. This was confirmed by Assange?s lawyers, who stated that he was arrested not only for the bogus bail violations, but also after an extradition request from the US on fabricated conspiracy charges.

The Trump administration, with the support of the Democrats, is seeking to prosecute Assange for his role in WikiLeaks? exposure of war crimes, mass surveillance and illegal diplomatic intrigues
.

Full article at https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/04/11/arre-a11.html

Collateral Murder -Why the thugs in USA/UK wanted Assange. Crime for revealing shocking video of what these governments do -murder innocent people in faraway countries

Frame from the Collateral Murder video a moment before the US military blasts these un-armed civilians away. For the crime of revealing this, the thugs behind the levers of power want to put him away for the rest of his life and send out the message to us all that we should never dare to oppose but instead lap up their lies and spin.
featured image
Short version of Collateral Murder video
function loadvideoblock_x01_5rXPrfnU3G0(sVideoBlockDiv) { if (sVideoBlockDiv=="videoBlock_01_5rXPrfnU3G0") document.getElementById(sVideoBlockDiv).innerHTML='';}
Full length version of Collateral Murder video
function loadvideoblock_x01_is9sxRfU-ik(sVideoBlockDiv) { if (sVideoBlockDiv=="videoBlock_01_is9sxRfU-ik") document.getElementById(sVideoBlockDiv).innerHTML='';}

Here is a list of the leaked files from Wikileaks from just their War & Military section and it documents very well the systematic butchery of peoples in Iraq and Afghanistan by the US military and thereby government and their fellow travellers in power

  • Dealmaker: Al Yousef - 28 Sept 2018
  • Detainee Policies - 03 Dec 2012
  • Guantanamo Files -25 Apr 2011 And yes the White House knew very early 90+ % were completetly innocent
  • Iraq War Logs -22 Oct 2010
  • Afghan War Logs -25 July 2010
  • Collateral Murder -5 April 2010
  • US Military Equipment in Iraq -8 Nov 2007
  • Military Dictionary -17 Sept 2007
  • US Military Equipment in Afghanistan -9 Sept 2007

A short message from Julian Assange?s mother to the President of Ecuador

featured image

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray denounces arrest and conviction of Julian Assange

Source: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/04/12/murr-a12.html

Outside Westminster Magistrates court in central London supporters of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange rallied to his defence. Assange appeared at the court Thursday afternoon after he was arrested and dragged from his place of political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Judge Michael Snow found Assange guilty of bail charges that date back to 2012, ordering him to appear at Southwark Crown Court at an unknown date. He could face a sentence of 12 months.

Supporters of WikiLeaks demanded that the UK government reject US demands for Assange?s extradition.

The UK government has confirmed Assange was arrested on behalf of US law enforcement authorities. The US has charged Assange with computer crime over documents published by WikiLeaks. If Assange is extradited to the US, he will undoubtedly face more serious charges under the Espionage Act, threatening life in prison or the death penalty.

During a brief hearing Judge Snow gave voice to the state vendetta against Assange, attacking the award-winning journalist as a ?narcissist?, telling him to ?get over the US? and ?get on with your life? and describing as ?laughable? his claim he had not received a fair hearing.

Among the supporters of Assange outside the court was former British diplomat, whistle-blower and human rights activist Craig Murray. A long-time supporter and friend of Assange, Murray spoke to the World Socialist Web Site after witnessing proceedings inside the court.

featured image

***

What we have seen today is extraordinary. It?s amazing that you can be dragged out of somewhere by armed police and within three hours brought up before a judge and found guilty of a crime involving a serious jail sentence. There was no jury and no chance to mount a proper defence or have a proper hearing.

It is clear the judge was extremely prejudiced. It was very short hearing today and he cannot possibly have formed during that time his judgement that Julian Assange is a ?narcissistic personality?.

That plainly shows that he must have formed his judgement from what he had read in the media before he ever came into the court. That judgement could not possibly be formed in the few minutes in the court. There are serious reasons to question Judge Snow and about the quality of justice that has gone on here. It is a case of extreme prejudice. There is no way anyone could call what has happened a fair trial.

Julian Assange has provided an important service. There is no evidence of anybody?s life being in danger. If there had been, we would have told about it by now.

Then there is the truly appalling behaviour of Ecuador?s dreadful President Moreno. He has not only curried favour with the United States and UK but sold Julian out.

One good thing, if you wish, that has come out of this is that now we are talking about extradition. We can now see what all of this is really about. It is about freedom of the press, about Julian being charged with publishing the revelations made by Chelsea Manning. From day one this has been about the United States wishing to lock Julian up for the Chelsea Manning leak exposing serious American war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The whole Sweden case has been a charade. It has always been about whether a journalist should be punished for publishing leaked documents showing a government offending against international law.

I am hoping, maybe a long-shot, that the media pundits of a liberal disposition will realise that this is a fundamental threat to press freedom. If anyone who publishes a US leaked document wherever they are in the world can be dragged to the US and imprisoned, then the American government is going to have impunity for its crimes for ever more. All journalists must decide where they stand on this fundamental test of media freedom.

W - Thu Feb 14, 2019 20:57
Press Release - Workers Party Feb 7th 2019
The Workers? Party have accused Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney of prioritising Donald Trump?s foreign policy ahead of Irish neutrality. Cllr. Éilis Ryan, the Workers? Party candidate in May?s European Parliament elections, said:

?Simon Coveney has, for the first time in our history, given formal backing to United States overseas aggression. Successive governments under Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Green Party have facilitated US overseas aggression by allowing the use of Shannon Airport, but this move marks a new departure, leaving behind even the facade of neutrality.

?It flies in the face of the values of anti-colonialism and sovereignty which Irish people are so rightly proud of.?
Yet again the United States is brazenly pushing for the overthrow of an elected president -in an election which former US president Jimmy Carter said was extremely fair -to be replaced by an unaccountable, un-elected business man who is clearly the pawn of the 1% of Venezuela and the elite and intelligence apparatus of US capital. And regrettably most of the leaders of the EU and our own lackeys have no minds of their own, and acting as the true vassels they are, following the US line. So it is in this vein, that the press release from the workers party brings focus to this completely undemocratic move by the US and Irish government ostensibly for democratic motives!
featured image

The Workers? Party have accused Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney of prioritising Donald Trump?s foreign policy ahead of Irish neutrality. Cllr. Éilis Ryan, the Workers? Party candidate in May?s European Parliament elections, said:

?Simon Coveney has, for the first time in our history, given formal backing to United States overseas aggression. Successive governments under Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Green Party have facilitated US overseas aggression by allowing the use of Shannon Airport, but this move marks a new departure, leaving behind even the facade of neutrality.

?It flies in the face of the values of anti-colonialism and sovereignty which Irish people are so rightly proud of.?

Related Links: Can Venezuela and its neighbours survive the coming war? |
Former world bank employee Peter Koenig gives his perspective on Venezuela situation | Medialink analysis of biased Venezuela coverage by BBC, Guardian and others | the making of Guaido - Max Blumenthal interview | Why must Venezuela be destroyed? | What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela ? A Case of News-Suppression | The Saker interviews Jorge Valero, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela | Trump?s Venezuela gamble is turning out to be a beaten docket by Finian Cunningham


Cllr. Ryan said the move would endanger tens of thousands of lives and destabilise a region:

?There is nothing remotely democratic about this power grab. Guiadó comes from a party deeply embedded in the worst violent excesses of right-wing politics in Latin America, and his self-proclaimed ?transitional programme,? for Venezuela makes an explicit commitment to sell Venezuela?s national oil reserves to the highest bidder.

?Coveney has given his backing to a puppet of Donald Trump, who will ensure American oil companies make plenty money from Venezuela?s natural resources. This is a moment of great shame for our country.?

The candidate for the European elections concluded:

?Ireland has positioned itself within an unsavoury minority of countries. Only 25% of countries around the globe have recognised Guiadó, and these are led by the United States, Israel, right-wing governments in rich European countries, and the United States? unsavoury allies in Latin America ? led by Brazil?s Bolsonaro. Many of these have a shameful history of warmongering.

?Two Latin American governments, Uruguay and Mexico, have offered to act as mediator. This has the backing of the United Nations. It is astounding that any Irish government would ignore such a possibility, in favour of siding with Donald Trump.?

pbp - Sun Aug 12, 2018 00:39
The National Transport Agency (NTA) wants to redesign all Dublin Bus routes. They promise a faster, more efficient bus service with more buses and better frequency for Dubliners. They also promise a more environmentally friendly transport system for the capital. If this was delivered it would mark a major step forward for life in the city. But the reality is not that simple. The plan hinges on 16 new radial bus corridors on the busiest routes ? primarily linking outer suburbs with the city centre. At a future (non-defined) date, they also promise orbital routes to link the outer parts of the city together.
featured image

The National Transport Agency (NTA) wants to redesign all Dublin Bus routes. They promise a faster, more efficient bus service with more buses and better frequency for Dubliners. They also promise a more environmentally friendly transport system for the capital. If this was delivered it would mark a major step forward for life in the city. But the reality is not that simple. The plan hinges on 16 new radial bus corridors on the busiest routes ? primarily linking outer suburbs with the city centre. At a future (non-defined) date, they also promise orbital routes to link the outer parts of the city together.

Related Links: Government campaign to sabotage Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann bus services through privatisation has begun | The Privatisation Agenda of Bus Connects Will Lead To Bus Disconnects>/a> | Dublin Bus Area Network Redesign
Submission details to NTA to object to Bus Connects do not rely on the online survey. It will be ignored. Make a postal submission


There are positive aspects to the plan. Three stand out in particular.

The plan envisages 230 kilometres of continuous bus priority. This would make it easier to get into the city on public transport reducing congestion, travel times and the carbon footprint.
The plan promises 200 kilometres of cycle lanes to make it easier and safer to move by bicycle. Again this is a welcome development in a city that currently lacks proper cycle infrastructure.
The plan envisages a new low emissions fleet of buses to further reduce the environmental impact of travelling around the city.

Public Investment not Privatisation

All of this sounds extremely positive, but to implement it properly, there will need to be significant investment. Unfortunately the National Transport Authority and successive governments have severely reduced the funding that has gone to Dublin Bus. Here are some important facts.

Public investment is falling. In 2008, Dublin Bus got ?85 million to operate its services ? a figure which represented one of the lowest subsidies in Europe at the time. This was then cut every year until 2015, when ?57.7 million was invested. Last year, even as the traffic chaos increased and more people travelled by bus, the subsidy was reduced again to just ?47 million.
The number of buses has been reduced. In 2009, there were almost 1,200 buses in the Dublin Bus fleet. This fell to 914 in 2013, and has only recovered to 1,016 this year ?despite the fact that there are more people travelling on the system than ever before. Even if the promised increases in buses materialise under the Bus Connects plan, Dublin Bus will still have less buses than it had in 2009.
The NTA are privatising routes. This year over 10% of Dublin Bus routes have been given to a private company from England (Go Ahead) with an appalling record in providing train and bus services. More shocking still, is the fact that Dublin Bus made a cheaper offer to provide these service but the NTA took the more expensive option to increase competition, and, in the long run, reduce terms and conditions in the public service.
The NTA have increased traffic congestion. The NTA have increased traffic chaos with the Luas cross city. Figures released by Bus Connect confirm that Dublin Bus carries 67% of all Dublin passengers with only 18% taking the Luas. Despite this, some bus services have been diverted away from College Green to facilitate the Luas. The NTA knew the Luas line would have a dramatic effect on bus users but went ahead with the project anyway.

The Current Plan

There are also problems with the plan as it is envisaged. Below we outline some of the most important ones.

The plan will not benefit all passengers as is claimed. The new plan promises to replace infrequent bus services with local services which bring people to high frequency services into the city centre. But this is only partially true. In many cases an infrequent service to the city centre is simply replaced with an equally infrequent service that links to a route that continues onto the city centre. For example ? The plan replaces the 27a that travels into the city from Dublin?s Northside every 30 minutes with a new route, 279, that operates every 30 minutes. However, this will just link the area to the Malahide road where people will have to transfer to another bus to get into the city.
The plan will create hardship for vulnerable service users. Bus Connect promise a more efficient system, but in many cases the new plan will mean great hardship for people with mobility problems. Jarrett Walker, the consultant who devised this plan, admitted that many people, including older passengers might lose out.

[Box] He previously stated ? How will this affect older people and people with disabilities? There is an unavoidable tension between senior and disabled needs ? which are much more inconvenienced by interchange ? and everyone else, and a network designed solely around senior/disabled preferences for minimum walk and interchange is simply too slow to be useful for the rest of the population. Again, attention is being given to making interchanges as convenient as possible, including for people with limited mobility, but a balance must be struck.

The plan may not reduce journey times. Bus Connect claim that, overall, people will get to their destination quicker as they transfer to higher frequency routes. But again this is only true in some cases. In many others, the transfers may be to less frequent routes or to routes that don?t go the way the old network did. This means passengers will need to transfer to two or more routes to get to where they want, disadvantaging less mobile users. For example the current route 122 service from Drimnagh via the South Circular Road is scrapped completely. A lot of elderly people currently rely on this route. To access a bus service under the new plan, passengers will need to walk to the Crumlin Road and take a service to Dolphins Barn where they will need to transfer to another service to access the South Circular Road. If they wish to travel to Wexford St like the current route, they will need to transfer again.
The plan often just renames existing routes. Bus Connect have hyped seven new ?Spines? routes on which they claim buses will arrive every 5 minutes. But in most cases these ?Spines? are simply a renaming of existing high frequency bus corridors. So, for example, the new ?D? route simple renames the existing service that sees a number of high frequency routes such as the 27, 15, and other services using the Malahide road. Similarly the new ?A? route already has high frequency services on it like the 41, 16, and 13. In other cases the plan merely diverts existing services out of estates and keeps them on main roads. For example, the 79 route is renamed the ?G? route and is taken out of the lower end of Ballyfermot. People here will have to walk for 10/15 minutes to access the bus service that use to take them to the city centre.
Major working class areas will not have direct access to the city centre. Mass population areas like Tallaght and Clondalkin will not be included in the 16 radical routes meaning that the people who live there will not get the priority bus corridors or cycle lanes.
There is no planned reduction in fares. In order to make public transport attractive the new plan should cut fares dramatically. In our last pre-budget submission, People Before Profit advocated cutting fares by 50% in a bid to reduce the dependency on cars and the amount of traffic congestion. This is an important step, but one that will not be taken by the current plan.

Our Alternative

The government backed plan promises some important benefits, but insists that older people, people with disabilities and some communities may have to lose out for the city to get a modern, efficient bus service. This is nonsense. A clever redesign of the bus network is not going to solve problems caused by years of underinvestment and past cuts in services. Forcing old people to make multiple transfers will not mean a better service for others. The cause of existing delays and traffic chaos is too few buses on congested roads and fares that are too expensive. Much of this has been the result of the actions and inactions of the NTA and the Government.

We need and should campaign for;


The new orbital routes planned for in Bus Connects.
The new bus lanes and new bus priority measures planned for in Bus Connects
A massive increase in the Dublin Bus fleet to at least 1500 buses; this is well beyond any number planned for in Bus Connects , which only plans for a 10% increase in the existing bus numbers.
Reduced fares by 50% to encourage people to use buses.
The retention of all existing bus routes and services; No community should lose an existing service.
An end to the policy of privatising bus routes and competitive tendering. This only lowers wages and conditions of workers and does nothing to improve services.

1 of indy - Sat Apr 14, 2018 19:23
Lets be clear the chemical attack last week was not done by Syria. It would make absolutely no sense. They have already more or less beaten the US/Uk/France (via Saudi proxies) backed ISIS terrorist group with the great help of Russia. Besides Syria destroyed all their chemical weapons a few years back under the watchful eyes of international agencies. So why on Earth would they bring the wrath of the world upon themselves. They are not that stupid. No this chemical attack like the other ones, is done via the terrorist cells (-trained, financed and armed by Western powers through local proxies) - against the "moderate terrorists" and ultimately arranged by their sponsors which is as US, UK & France, the very same states crying crocodile tears about human rights when they regularly bomb countries and people for "human rights". Even now as they screech in unison about this staged attack by them blaming it on the Syrians they have absolutely zero interests in the lives of the people in question. Even the most unobservable person can see it is used merely as a pretext to their agenda. That agenda however is not just to take action and drop bombs as always but something bigger and it is brilliantly outlined in the article written back before this latest fiasco where intelligence had already revealed that the US/UK were planning this latest attack. In short the agenda is to link the clumsy chemical poisoning of Skripal with the Syria chemical attack. The plan was simple. Russia is a monster for using chemical poisoning (except they didn't) and so is Syria too (except they didn't) and they are friends. Therefore Russia should be expelled from the 5 member UN security council and if that could be pulled off then the US/UK & France could safely ignore China and the "Western Free World" would have a free hand to bomb and intimidate who they like. You see the problem is the USA is in debt and technically should be insolvent but because the dollar is the global reserve currency backed by threat of US military, special forces and colour revolutions no-one dares challenge it except of course the Russia-China axis. Nevertheless USA had it's day in the sun and their power is declining. The UK think they can re-establish their colonial relationship and presumably they would be the dominant partner and need to hang on the coat tails of the USA to achieve their aims. Even though the USA is clearly the bigger of the two, the UK are much better at this game than the US could ever hope to be, hence the confidence they can successfully use them.
featured image Although it has the fourth largest army in the world, the United Kindom is unable to defy Russia without the support of allies. It therefore has to invent a casus belli to make its partners react and lead them to stand beside it.

Lets be clear the chemical attack last week was not done by Syria. It would make absolutely no sense. They have already more or less beaten the US/Uk/France (via Saudi proxies) backed ISIS terrorist group with the great help of Russia. Besides Syria destroyed all their chemical weapons a few years back under the watchful eyes of international agencies. So why on Earth would they bring the wrath of the world upon themselves. They are not that stupid. No this chemical attack like the other ones, is done via the terrorist cells (-trained, financed and armed by Western powers through local proxies) - against the "moderate terrorists" and ultimately arranged by their sponsors which is as US, UK & France, the very same states crying crocodile tears about human rights when they regularly bomb countries and people for "human rights". Even now as they screech in unison about this staged attack by them blaming it on the Syrians they have absolutely zero interests in the lives of the people in question. Even the most unobservable person can see it is used merely as a pretext to their agenda. That agenda however is not just to take action and drop bombs as always but something bigger and it is brilliantly outlined in the article written back before this latest fiasco where intelligence had already revealed that the US/UK were planning this latest attack. In short the agenda is to link the clumsy chemical poisoning of Skripal with the Syria chemical attack. The plan was simple. Russia is a monster for using chemical poisoning (except they didn't) and so is Syria too (except they didn't) and they are friends. Therefore Russia should be expelled from the 5 member UN security council and if that could be pulled off then the US/UK & France could safely ignore China and the "Western Free World" would have a free hand to bomb and intimidate who they like. You see the problem is the USA is in debt and technically should be insolvent but because the dollar is the global reserve currency backed by threat of US military, special forces and colour revolutions no-one dares challenge it except of course the Russia-China axis. Nevertheless USA had it's day in the sun and their power is declining. The UK think they can re-establish their colonial relationship and presumably they would be the dominant partner and need to hang on the coat tails of the USA to achieve their aims. Even though the USA is clearly the bigger of the two, the UK are much better at this game than the US could ever hope to be, hence the confidence they can successfully use them.

Related Links: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov: Swiss lab says ?BZ toxin? used in Salisbury, NOT produced in Russia, was in US & UK service | A Curious Incident Part IX: Preliminary findings of OPCW Report on poisoning | Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy holds briefing for mass media | War, lies and censorship | US massacre of Syrian troops threatens to unleash wider war | Turkey publishes the whereabouts of five secret military bases in Syria that belong to France | Double Life of White Helmets: Volunteers by Day, Terrorists by Night (Photos) | BBC Caught Staging FAKE News Chemical Attack (2016) To Drag Britain into Syrian War | Libya, seven years of misfortune Nato | US-backed Saudi war and blockade puts millions of lives at risk in Yemen | US massacring hundreds of Syrian civilians every week in Raqqa | The abandonment of the CIA?s Syrian ?rebels? and the pseudo-left accomplices of US imperialism | ISIS leader a confirmed CIA puppet
Jeremy Corbyn Diplomacy, and not bombing, is the way to end Syria?s agony


Here is the article by Thierry Meyssan originally published on 20th March titled: Four days to declare a Cold War
Source: http://www.voltairenet.org/article200232.html

Four days to declare a Cold War


by Thierry Meyssan

The week that has just ended was exceptionally rich in events. But no media were able to report it, because they had all deliberately masked certain of their number in order to protect the story that was being woven by their government. London had attempted to provoke a major conflict, but lost to Russia, President Trump and Syria.

The British government and certain of its allies, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have attempted to launch a Cold War against Russia.

Their plan was to fabricate an attack against an ex-double agent in Salisbury and at the same time a chemical attack against the « moderate rebels » in the Ghouta. The conspirators? intention was to profit from the efforts of Syria to liberate the suburbs of its capital city and the disorganisation of Russia on the occasion of its Presidential election. Had these manipulations worked, the United Kingdom would have pushed the USA to bomb Damascus, including the Presidential palace, and demand that the United Nations General Assembly exclude Russia from the Security Council.

However, the Syrian and Russian Intelligence Services got wind of what was being plotted. They realised that the US agents in the Ghouta who were preparing an attack against the Ghouta were not working for the Pentagon, but for another US agency.

In Damascus, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fayçal Miqdad, set up an emergency Press conference for 10 March, in order to alert his fellow citizens. From its own side, Moscow had first of all tried to contact Washington via the diplomatic channels. But aware that the US ambassador, Jon Huntsman Jr, is the director of Caterpillar, the company which had supplied tunneling materials to the jihadists so that they could build their fortifications, Moscow decided to bypass the usual diplomatic channels.

featured image
Here?s how things played out:

12 March 2018

The Syrian army seized two chemical weapons laboratories, the first on 12 March in Aftris, and the second on the following day in Chifonya. Meanwhile, Russian diplomats pushed the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to get involved in the criminal investigation in Salisbury.

In the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Theresa May violently accused Russia of having ordered the attack in Salisbury. According to her, the ex-double agent Sergueï Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military nerve gas of a type « developed by Russia » under the name of « Novitchok ». Since the Kremlin considers Russian citizens who have defected as legitimate targets, it is therefore highly likely that they ordered the crime.

« Novitchok » is known by what has been revealed by two Soviet personalities, Lev Fyodorov and Vil Mirzayanov. The scientist Fyodorov published an article in the Russian weekly Top Secret (?????????? ????????) in July 1992, warning about the extremely dangerous nature of this product, and warning against the use of old Soviet weaponry by the Western powers to destroy the environment in Russia and make it unlivable. In October 1992, he published a second article in the News of Moscow (?????????? ???????) with a counter-espionage executive, Mirzayanov, denouncing the corruption of certain generals and the traffic of « Novitchok » in which they were involved. However, they did not know to whom they may have sold the product. Mirzayanov was first of all arrested for high treason, then released. Fyodorov died in Russia last August, but Mirzayanov is living in exile in the United States, where he collaborates with the Department of Defense.

featured image
« Novitchok » was fabricated in a Soviet laboratory in Nurus, in what is now Uzbekistan. During the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was destroyed by a US team of specialists. Uzbekistan and the United States, by necessity, have therefore possessed and studied samples of this substance. They are both capable of producing it.

British Minister for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson summoned the Russian ambassador in London, Alexandre Iakovenko. He gave him an ultimatum of 36 hours to check if any « Novitchok » was missing from their stocks. The ambassador replied that none was missing, because Russia had destroyed all of the chemical weapons it had inherited from the Soviet Union, as witnessed by the OPCW, which had drawn up a certified report.

After a telephone discussion with Boris Johnson, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in turn condemned Russia for the attack in Salisbury.

Meanwhile, a debate was under way at the UN Security Council concerning the situation in the Ghouta. The permanent representative for the US, Nikki Haley, declared - « About one year ago, after the sarin gas attack perpetrated in Khan Cheïkhoun by the Syrian régime, the United States warned the Council. We said that faced with the systematic inaction of the international community, states are sometimes obliged to act on their own. The Security Council did not react, and the United States bombed the air base from which al Assad had launched his chemical attack. We are reiterating the same warning today ».

The Russian Intelligence Services handed out documents from the US staff. They showed that the Pentagon was ready to bomb the Presidential palace and the Syrian Ministries, on the model of what it had done during the taking of Baghdad (3 to 12 April 2003).

Commenting the declaration by Nikki Haley, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had always called the attack in Khan Cheïkhoun a « Western manipulation », revealed that the false information which had led the White House into error and triggered the bombing of the Al-Chaayrate air base, had in fact come from a British laboratory which had never revealed how it came to possess its samples.

13 March 2018

The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs published a Press release condemning a possible US military intervention, and announcing that if Russian citizens were harmed in Damascus, Moscow would riposte proportionally, since the Russian President is constitutionally responsible for the security of his fellow citizens.

Bypassing the official diplomatic channels, Russian Chief of Staff General Valeri Guerassimov contacted his US counterpart General Joseph Dunford to inform him of his fear of a false flag chemical attack in Ghouta. Dunford took this information vey seriously, and alerted US Defense Secretary General Jim Mattis, who referred the matter to President Donald Trump. In view of the Russian insistence that this piece of foul play was being prepared without the knowledge of the Pentagon, the White House asked the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, to identify those responsible for the conspiracy.

featured image
We do not know the result of this internal enquiry, but President Trump acquired the conviction that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was implicated. The Secretary of State was immediately asked to interrupt his official journey in Africa and return to Washington.

Theresa May wrote to the General Secretary of the United Nations accusing Russia of having ordered the attack in Salisbury, and convened an emergency meeting of the Security Council. Without waiting, she expelled 23 Russian diplomats.

At the request of President of the House of Commons Interior Committee Yvette Cooper, British Secretary for the Interior Amber Rudd announced that MI5 (Military Interior Secret Services ) is going to re-open 14 enquiries into deaths which, according to US sources, were ordered by the Kremlin.

By doing do, the British government adopted the theories of Professor Amy Knight. On 22 January 2018, this US Sovietologist published a very strange book - Orders to Kill - the Putin régime and political murder. The author, who is « the » specialist on the ex-KGB, attempts to demonstrate that Vladimir Putin is a serial killer responsible for dozens of political assassinations, from the terrorist attacks in Moscow in 1999 to the attack on the Boston Marathon in 2013, by way of the execution of Alexandre Litvinenko in London in 2006 or that of Boris Nemtsov in Moscow in 2015. However, she admits herself that there is absolutely no proof of her accusations.

The European Liberals then joined the fray. Ex-Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt, who presides their group in the European Parliament, called on the European Union to adopt sanctions against Russia. His counterpart at the head of their British party, Sir Vince Cable, proposed a European boycott of the World Football Cup. And already, Buckingham Palace announced that the royal family has canceled their trip to Russia.

The UK communications regulator, Ofcom, announced that it might ban the channel Russia Today as a retaliatory measure, even though RT has on no occasion violated British law.

featured image
The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs summoned the British ambassador in Moscow to inform him that reciprocal measures would soon be indicated in retaliation for the expulsion of Russian diplomats from London.

President Trump announced on Twitter that he had fired his Secretary of State, with whom he had not yet been in contact. He was replaced by Mike Pompeo, ex-Director of the CIA, who, the night before, had confirmed the authenticity of the Russian information transmitted by General Dunford. On his arrival in Washington, Tillerson obtained confirmation of his dismissal from White House General Secretary General John Kelly.

Ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a product of the Texan middle class. He and his family worked for the US Scouts, of whom he became the National President (2010-12). Culturally close to England, he did not hesitate, when he became President of the mega-multinational Exxon-Mobil (2006-16), not only to wage a politically correct campaign favouring the acceptance of young gays into the Scouts, but also to recruit mercenaries in British Guiana. He is said to be a member of the Pilgrims Society, the most prestigious of Anglo-US clubs, presided by Queen Elizabeth II, a number of whose members were part of the Obama administration.

During his functions as Secretary of State, the quality of his education provided a bond for Donald Trump, considered by US high society to be a buffoon. He was in disagreement with his President on three major subjects which allow us to define the ideology of the conspirators -
- Like London and the US deep state, he thought it would be useful to diabolise Russia in order to consolidate the power of the Anglo-Saxons in the Western camp ;
- Like London, he thought that in order to maintain Western colonialism in the Middle East, it was necessary to favour Iranian President Cheikh Rohani against the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei. He therefore supported the 5+1 agreement.
- Like the US deep state, he considered that the swing of North Korea towards the United States should remain secret, and be used to justify a military deployment which would be directed in reality against the People?s Repubic of China. He was therefore in favour of official talks with Pyongyang, but opposed to a meeting between the two heads of state.

14 March 2018

While Washington was still in shock, Theresa May spoke once again before the House of Commons to develop her accusation, while all around the world, British diplomats spoke to numerous inter-governmental organisations in order to broadcast the message. Responding to the Prime Minister, Blairist deputy Chris Leslie qualified Russia as a rogue state and demanded its suspension from the UN Security Council. Theresa May agreed to examine the question, but stressed that the outcome could only be decided by the General Assembly in order to avoid the Russian veto.

The North Atlantic Council (NATO) met in Brussels at the request of the United Kingdom. The 29 member states drew a link between the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the attack in Salisbury. They then decided that Russia was « probably » responsible for these two events.

In New York, the permanent representative of Russia, Vasily Nebenzya, proposed to the members of the Security Council that they adopt a declaration attesting to their common will to shed light on the attack in Salisbury and handing over the enquiry to the OPCW in the respect of international procedures. But the United Kingdom refused any text which did not contain the expression that Russia was « probably responsible » for the attack.

During the public debate which followed, UK chargé d?affaire Jonathan Allen represented his country. He is an agent of MI6 who created the British War Propaganda Service and gives active support to the jihadists in Syria. He declared - « Russia has already interfered in the affairs of other countries, Russia has already violated international law in Ukraine, Russia has comtempt for civilian life, as witnessed by the attack on a commercial aircraft over Ukraine by Russian mercenaries, Russia protects the use of chemical weapons by Assad (?) The Russian state is responsible for this attempted murder ». The permanent representative for France, François Delattre, who, by virtue of a derogation by President Sarkozy, was trained at the US State Department, noted that his country had launched an initiative to end the impunity of those who use chemical weapons. He implied that the initiative, originally directed at Syria, could also be turned against Russia.

Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya pointed out that the session had been convened at London?s request, but that it is public at Moscow?s request. He observed that the United Kingdom is violating international law by treating this subject at the Security Council while keeping the OPCW out of its enquiry. He noted that if London had been able to identify the « Novotchik », it?s because it has the formula and can therefore make its own. He noted Russia?s desire to collaborate with the OPCW in the respect for international procedures.

15 March 2018

The United Kingdom published a common declaration which had been cosigned the night before by France and Germany, as well as Rex Tillerson, who at that moment was still US Secretary of State. The text reiterated British suspicions. It denounced the use of « a neurotoxic agent of military quality, and of a type developed by Russia », and affirmed that it was « highly probable that Russia is responsible for the attack ».

The Washington Post published an op-ed piece by Boris Johnson, while the US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, established new sanctions against Russia. These are not connected to the current affair, but to allegations of interference in US public life. The decree nonetheless mentions the attack in Salisbury as proof of the underhand methods of Russia.

British Secretary for Defence, the young Gavin Williamson, declared that after the expulsion of its diplomats, Russia should « shut up and go away » (sic). This is the first time since the end of the Second World War that a representative of a permanent member state of the Security Council has employed such a vocabulary in the face of another member of the Council. Sergueï Lavrov commented - « He?s a charming young man. He must want to ensure his place in History, by making shock declarations [...] Perhaps he lacks education ».

Conclusion

In the space of four days, the United Kingdom and its allies have laid the premises of a new division of the world, a Cold War.

However, Syria is not Iraq and the UNO is not the G8 (from which Russia has been excluded because of its adhesion to Crimea and its support of Syria). The United States are not going to destroy Damascus, and Russia will not be excluded from the Security Council. After having resigned from the European Union, then having refused to sign the Chinese declaration about the Silk Road, the United Kingdom thought to improve its stature by eliminating a competitor. By this piece of dirty work, it imagined that it would acquire a new dimension and become the « Global Britain » announced by Madame May. But it is destroying its own credibility.
Thierry Meyssan

Translation
Pete Kimberley

Some follow up on things:

The Western corporate and state press regularly quoting the Syria Human Rights Observatory which is run by a PR company backed by British MI6 regularly put out reports that the situation is chaos due to all the "barrel bombs" dropped by Assad and the continual bombing of hospitals. At last count there must be at least a hundred hospitals in Aleppo. There is no hint that these bombings might be carried out by the ISIS terrorists backed by them via local proxies in the Middle East -ala that great country Saudi Arabia the one where they are always announcing billion dollar or euro sales of weapon systems too.

The reality while not pleasant is certainly not what they want you to believe. So here is a report by the official representative of Russian Defence Ministry Major General Igor Konashenkov and it is a transcript.

Source: http://eng.mil.ru/en/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12171238@egNews

he Russian Centre for Reconciliation jointly with the Syrian authorities is completing the large-scale humanitarian operation in the suburbs of Damascus ? the Eastern Ghouta. In total, 170,152 people have been evacuated during the operation, including 63,117 militants with their families.

All the settlements in the Eastern Ghouta are currently under the control of the Syrian government.

The Russian military police has been deployed in the Eastern Ghouta in order to monitor situation and maintain law enforcement.

As environment in the suburbs of Damscus stabilizing, people are making their way back home. In total, some 63,000 people have return to their homes now. It makes a half of those who had left the area.

The Syrian government working on rehabilitation of destroyed civilian infrastructure. Power and water supply systems have been recovered; reconstruction is underway in the area. People are provided with medical assistance.

Thus, the present-day Eastern Ghouta is far from a ?black hole? where no one could get to, but a capital suburb returning to peaceful life.

Situation is under control of the lawful authorities that is taking measures to recover trade, adjust prices, render services for civilians, and rehabilitate schools.

All conditions are being established to ensure swiftly normalize environment in the area.

Meanwhile, residents of the Eastern Ghouta that had suffered violation from terrorists for many years badly need humanitarian assistance.

Russia was the first to render this assistance.

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation has delivered 520 tons of food supplies, more than 50,000 liters of bottled water, 9,000 sets of bed linen, and provided with engineering equipment to remove rubbles.

Today, a convoy carrying construction equipment, trucks, steel tubes for water supply system, and required equipment for overhauling power systems have been sent to the city of Douma.

Another five such convoys are to depart to Douma next week.

It is to be stressed that all the construction equipment and materials delivered by the convoys to the Eastern Ghouta shall be handed over to the UN representatives in Syria for further distribution among civilians. It is Russia?s contribution to the UN humanitarian assistance for people in Syria.

One should pay attention that it is the real help that Russia is providing to real civilians in Syria, rather than hollow promises made by some western countries.

Russia urges world community to join Russia and provide Syrians with necessary humanitarian aid.

It is common knowledge that not everybody feels comfortable with such progress on the way to restoring peaceful life in Syria.

The Syrian legal government has been receiving from the USA and western countries baseless and flimsy accusations of alleged chemical attack against civilians in the Eastern Ghouta.

After about a week, the USA and some European countries provided no evidence on alleged using of poisonous agents by the Syrian troops on April 7 in the city of Douma.

The Russian Ministry of Defence has overwhelming evidence that in Douma on April 7 there was a planned provocation in order to deceive the world community. Its original purpose was to provoke missile strikes by the USA against Syria.

It is to be reminded that a video clip recorded at the Douma hospital where injured people were allegedly brought to is the key ?evidence? of all these accusations made by western countries.

However, we managed to find those who directly had taken part in this footage, and to ask them questions.

Today, Russian shows an interview with these people.

Citizens of Douma told how a staged clip had been recorded, in which episodes they had participated and what roles they had had.

Besides, they showed shots with them in the clip.

Both persons involved in the clip have medical degree and work in emergency department of the Douma Hospital.

According to them, those who had been brought to the hospital had no injuries caused by chemical agents.

When civilians were receiving first aid, some unidentified people rushed in the hospital.

Some of them had video cameras. These people started shouting, spreading panic, and dousing other people with water. They shouted that all people in the hospital were victims of chemical weapons use.

Patients and their relatives started dousing each other with water.

After the action was filmed, the unknown persons escaped immediately.

As it can be seen, these Syrians demonstrate themselves at the footage.

It is to be noted that these people do not hide their names. These are not some impersonal messages on social networks or statements of anonymous activists.

It is to be stressed once again that these are people who became direct participants in filming these footage.

These facts are the evidence in the civilized world, and are not unfounded and irresponsible accusations spread with the aim of hanging labels and denigrating the leadership of other countries.

Earlier, Russia had made numerous warns on all levels about provocations of chemical weapons use organized by insurgents in the Eastern Ghouta.

Today, there are other evidences at the disposal of the Russian military department, which testify to the direct participation of Great Britain in organizing this provocation in the Eastern Ghouta.

The Russian party knows for certain that from April 3 to 6, representatives of the so-called White Helmets were influenced by London for the speedy implementation of the provocation prepared in advance.

The White Helmets received information that Jaysh al-Islam militants were to conduct a series of powerful artillery shelling of Damascus on April 3 to 6.

This will promote a response from the government troops, which the White Helmets? representatives will have to use to carry out provocations with alleged chemical weapons.

Today, a group of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is arriving in Syria.

The Russian Reconciliation Centre is ready to provide security and necessary work conditions in the Eastern Ghouta to them.

The Russian party hopes that the OPCW group will be guided not by some third party?s requirements and anonymous pseudo-evidences from social networks, but will conduct an objective and independent investigation to ascertain the truth.

The Russian Defence Ministry is confident that the responsible position of the OPCW will reduce the degree of tensions in the region and thereby preserve the fragile peace that was established in Syria.

Taking into account that peaceful life is returning to the Eastern Ghouta, the attention is to be drawn to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Raqqa, which had been liberated five months ago by the United States and the countries of the so-called International Coalition.

On April 10, the World Health Organization (WHO) prepared a report.

The document indicates that civilians returning to the city of Raqqa are daily endangered by the huge amount of scattered ammunition and improvised explosive devices.

According to the WHO experts, from October 1, 2017 to February 28 2018, more than 660 Syrians received wounds and injuries of varying severity. More than 130 people were killed.

Every day, up to six explosions of civilians occur. In this case, most often the victims are children and adolescents.

According to the WHO, there are only two hospitals in Raqqa. They are overcrowded and fail to provide assistance to all injured.

The experts emphasize that residents of Raqqa are deprived of humanitarian aid because of the lack of representative offices of international profile organizations in the region and the inability of local authorities to remedy the situation.

Extremely severe and epidemiological situation is in Raqqa. Until now, thousands of corpses are decomposing under the ruins of the city.

The city is 70 percent wiped off the face of the earth as a result of the bombing by the US AF.

These are assessments made by representatives of international organizations.

In this regard, it is to be reminded that the work of schools, hospitals, and social institutions has been restored in all territories liberated from terrorists by the government troops. There are markets, businesses and housing are being restored.

1 of indy - Wed Dec 13, 2017 23:01
We are publishing this piece by PANA explaining what PESCO is about and how it means the loss of our neutrality. Unfortunately since then on Dec 7th the Dail voted by 75 to 42 to join PESCO.
Some key points are:
1) PESCO is a binding agreement because it says so. The government claims it is not. It is.
2) PESCO commits us to spending 2% of GDP on military spending by 2022. This is a figure of € 5.5 billion. We currently spend 1/10th of that on defense. This makes a mockery of "fiscal space"
3) PESCO in the event of crisis places under NATO's command. Therefore we are no longer neutral.
4) PESCO is the side door to Ireland joining a EU Army / NATO and would have us involved in "humanitarian" bombing and "peace making" -in other words imposing the demands of the corporate interests that rule above all else.
The Irish Government is considering joining PESCO. This will be one of the most important decisions this FG/Independeny Alliance will ever make. There needs at the very least a serious debate on the issue, and in any genuine debate form all sides in the corporate media. On the evidence so far this is highly improbable, as is their total lack of coverage of the use of Shannon Airport by US troops
featured image
Looks like we have blindly picked Empire

We are publishing this piece by PANA explaining what PESCO is about and how it means the loss of our neutrality. Unfortunately since then on Dec 7th the Dail voted by 75 to 42 to join PESCO. Some key points are:
:
1) PESCO is a binding agreement because it says so. The government claims it is not. It is.
2) PESCO commits us to spending 2% of GDP on military spending by 2022. This is a figure of € 5.5 billion. We currently spend 1/10th of that on defense. This makes a mockery of "fiscal space"
3) PESCO in the event of crisis places under NATO's command. Therefore we are no longer neutral.
4) PESCO is the side door to Ireland joining a EU Army / NATO and would have us involved in "humanitarian" bombing and "peace making" -in other words imposing the demands of the corporate interests that rule above all else.


The Irish Government is considering joining PESCO. This will be one of the most important decisions this FG/Independeny Alliance will ever make. There needs at the very least a serious debate on the issue, and in any genuine debate form all sides in the corporate media. On the evidence so far this is highly improbable, as is their total lack of coverage of the use of Shannon Airport by US troops

Related Links: Government Ramming Through PESCO To Drag Us Into EU Army | Public Meeting - No EU Army Oppose PESCO -Mon 18th Dec | Germany Foreign Policy wonks gush about building EU Army | RTE report with appropriate spin on Dáil votes to join European defence organisation | EU Democray or Empire PDF or here


What is PESCO

The Irish Government is considering joining PESCO. This will be one of the most important decisions this FG/Independeny Alliance will ever make. There needs at the very least a serious debate on the issue, and in any genuine debate form all sides in the corporate media. On the evidence so far this is highly improbable, as is their total lack of coverage of the use of Shannon Airport by US troops.

These are the key points.

An article about the recent signing up to Pesco: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/11/13/defence-coo...

1) the NATO dimension; 2) the necessity to increase defence spending ("regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms in order to reach agreed objectives",); and 3) that the Petersberg Tasks are not as innocent at portrayed. The underlying thread of supporting the arms industry is also a huge point.
2. Also this article from French TV (http://www.france24.com/en/20171113-eu-defence-defense-joint-military-develop...) which has the following:

"EU officials insist this is not just bureaucratic cooperation, but real investment that will help develop Europe's defense industry and spur research and development in military capabilities that the bloc needs most.

Mogherini said the move would complement NATO's security aims. The EU, she said, has tools to fight hybrid warfare - the use of conventional weapons mixed with things like propaganda and cyber-attacks - that the military alliance does not have at its disposal."

3. Also, this German news site: http://www.dw.com/en/pesco-eu-paves-way-to-defense-union/a-41360236 'EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the signing of PESCO as a "historic moment in European defense." The decision to launch PESCO indicates Europe's move towards self-sufficiency in defense matters instead of relying solely on NATO. The EU, however, also stressed that PESCO is complimentary to NATO, in which 22 of the EU's 28 countries are members.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the launch, saying that he saw it as an opportunity to "strengthen the European pillar within NATO." Stoltenberg had previously urged European nations to increase their defense budget.

"I'm a firm believer of stronger European defense, so I welcome PESCO because I believe that it can strengthen European defense, which is good for Europe but also good for NATO," Stoltenberg said.

4. Finally interesting document re EU/NATO Council Conclusions on the Implementation of the Joint Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-15283-2016-INIT/en/pdf

Dail Eireann Agrees to PESCO - Another Step Towards a European Army

A press conference hosted by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) was held on 7th December to highlight government plans to rush a motion through the Dail to agree the new PESCO agreement. Peace and human rights campaigners fear a more militarised EU linked to NATO, and as opponents of the Lisbon Treaty 2009 suggested then and now, it will lead to a European Army

Later on in a rushed debate on PESCO, opposition TDs highlighted their concerns about Irish neutrality, allying ourselves with the imperial military forces of France, Germany and the US. Mick Wallace TD condemned the use of Shannon Airport by US military as a base to invade and terrorise nations around the world.

Under PESCO we will agree to allocate billions of euro to the EU Defence Fund; in other words we will give away money for the European military industry. Fianna Fail spokesperson Lisa Chambers TD voiced her full support for the Fine Gael motion; it is about being good Europeans, she said. The government won the day with Fianna Fail support. 75 votes in favour, with opposition TDs mustering a credible 45 votes against.

The campaign against Irish complicity in militarization and war goes on.

Src: http://shannonwatch.org/blog/dail-eireann-agrees-pesco-another-step-towards-e...

For a comprehensive report on PESCO and the significance of it, see the attached PDF document EU_Democracy_Empire

Some hidden costs of Ireland joining the embryo EU army


From PEOPLE?S NEWS News Digest of the People?s Movement, No. 177 3rd December 2017

Today Ireland spends relatively less on defence than any other EU member-state, and is among the very lowest spenders on defence in the world. But that will change if Ireland joins the EU?s ?permanent structured co-operation? (PESCO) ? the embryo EU army.

The joint notification, which Ireland is likely to sign at the December EU summit, states that ?PESCO is an ambitious, binding and inclusive European legal framework for investments in the security and defence of the EU?s territory and its citizens.? It includes a list of ?ambitious and more binding common commitments? that the member-states have agreed to undertake, including ?regularly increasing defence budgets in real terms in order to reach agreed objectives.?

During the past year EU states that are members of NATO agreed to increase military spending to reach a target of 2 per cent of GDP by 2022. These are a majority in the EU; and given that the objective of the ?common security and defence policy? in the Lisbon Treaty (2009) was to create a European pillar of NATO, it is likely that there will be pressure to reach this target should Ireland join PESCO.

Military missions are expensive! It is not common knowledge that the Irish-led EU Force in Chad in 2008 has already cost Irish taxpayers ?59 million.

PESCO also includes an annual budget of ?500 million [Editor -initially only but will rise to ?5 billion or 2% of GDP] for joint security and defence projects ?an amount that might be increased in the future. The problem here is that all our contribution would go to providing jobs in other ? mostly big ? EU states, as (thankfully) we don?t have an armaments industry of our own. (This is notwithstanding the fact that there is significant dual-use production in American transnational corporations based here.)

Our contributions to PESCO would also facilitate the development of weapons in countries over whose exports we would have no control. For example, Germany has been criticised for massively increa sing arms sales to the Middle East dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The German government approved the export of nearly ?450 million worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the third quarter of 2017 ? more than five times the ?86 million it sold in the same quarter last year.

The military dictatorship in Egypt alone bought nearly ?300 million worth of weapons, making it the biggest export destination for German arms, while Saudi Arabia, at present conducting a blockade of Yemen, handed over nearly ?150 million. By comparison, the two countries imported ?45 million and ?41 million, respectively, in the third quarter of 2016.

The German government has not given details of the types of weapons exported, but a large proportion of the sales to Saudi Arabia probably consists of patrol boats.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are responsible for thousands of deaths from their dirty war in Yemen, where there is a continuing civil war between Houthi rebels and Yemen?s government. The military intervention by a Saudi led coalition has led to the death of nearly ten thousand people and has created the world?s biggest humanitarian crisis, in one of the Arab world?s poorest states. Human rights organisations have said the Saudi-led coalition may have committed war crimes, and the United Nations has warned that some 7 million people face possible famine.

It used to be completely ruled out for Germany to deliver weapons to countries that were participating in wars; but exports began a few years ago when Turkey was sold weapons, despite its war with the Kurds.

We will be hearing a lot of reassuring and soothing sounds regarding ?neutrality? during the next few weeks; but the increased costs of military involvement, probable complicity in weapons exports to repressive regimes, and who knows what sort of military adventures, will put paid to any remaining vestiges of neutrality.

And we will have to ask ourselves whether we want to become involved in future resource wars and geopolitical manoeuvrings orchestrated by the EU?s former colonial powers, which can easily dominate Ireland in all EU forums.

src: See attached PN-177.pdf or http://www.people.ie/news/PN-177.pdf

Save The Hellfire & Masseys - Tue Sep 19, 2017 00:25
Monday the 24th of September at 5pm is the deadline for making submissions to An Bord Pleanála on the South Dublin County Council & Coillte plans for what is known as the Dublin Mountains Project for the Hellfire Club & Masseys Wood nearby. The plan is one dreamed up by the council and will cost € 19 million of taxpayer money i.e. collected property tax etc for what is basically a bit of a white-elephant project that will damage the environment, limit public access and charge a fee for what is now free and is expected to run at a loss for at least first 3 years, but yet the private contractors running it will be "insulated" from losses. In essence the project will put an valuable amenity that is in public hands effectively into private hands and give them a license to milk the public forever on it. If this gets through, it will be replicated all over the country in that arrogant and greed driven way we are all familiar with from the Celtic Tiger days and again today.
featured image
Aerial view of Hellfire and remains of passage tombs in front

Monday the 24th of September at 5pm is the deadline for making submissions to An Bord Pleanála on the South Dublin County Council & Coillte plans for what is known as the Dublin Mountains Project for the Hellfire Club & Masseys Wood nearby. The plan is one dreamed up by the council and will cost € 19 million of taxpayer money i.e. collected property tax etc for what is basically a bit of a white-elephant project that will damage the environment, limit public access and charge a fee for what is now free and is expected to run at a loss for at least first 3 years, but yet the private contractors running it will be "insulated" from losses. In essence the project will put an valuable amenity that is in public hands effectively into private hands and give them a license to milk the public forever on it. If this gets through, it will be replicated all over the country in that arrogant and greed driven way we are all familiar with from the Celtic Tiger days and again today.

Related Links: Public Meeting: Save Hellfire Club and Massey's Wood in Dublin Mts | SaveTheHellfire.com | Friends of Massey's Wood Facebook


The Council as required under Planning law carried out via their consultants an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR). As expected it is a large document designed to intimidate by it size in the hope that nobody would read it and it is heavy on PR and spin. Instead it is supposed to be the definitive authoritative document on the impact to the environment,. From the start this project was all about privatising a public asset in all but name and creating a mechanism to fleece the public of money to pay for something they currently have for free. The EIAR is in two volumes and attached at the end in PDF form. One should check through the Planning Statement which is attached as a PDF too.

It has a few token buzzwords about sustainability and protecting wildlife but this project is nothing of the sort and those words were merely added to give it an air of acceptability and to try fool the public and hide the true motives.

Why You Need to Make a Submission

However these sentiments are all fine but this project won't be stopped unless you the concerned citizen do something about it and put something in writing and make a submission. With these sort of issues, what matters is not that a few organisations object but that large number of people do too. There are several ways you can do this. You can lodge your own submission, you can group together with friends or neighbours and combine your submission or if you are involved in an organisation that would be affected such as a hiking club, wildlife group, scouting or whatever then you can get them to lodge an appeal. Details on how to go about this are in the box below.

In making a submission of appeal you have to be reasonably objective and the points you make are supposed to address the reasons why you think this particular plan is a bad idea and why it should not go ahead.

The details of the plan are on the Council website and was sold in a slick presentation to all the councillors earlier this year. Unfortunately for them they were not in a position to look at it objectively but when you do, holes appear all over it. Here are just some of them and they tend to be highlighted in the EIAR, the Planning Statement and through various statements made by the council and their PR representatives.

Some Preliminary Deficiencies

For example on wildlife the EIAR only identifies one red squirrel drey (squirrel nest/den) when in fact those familiar with the area know of many more. The authors spent a very short time physicalyy on site and not enough to understand the wildlife and the habitat and the impact of a massive number of visitors and a large carpark and visitor centre located on the side of the mountain. They surveyed for various animals at the wrong time of the year when it was known they would not be about. The EIAR found far fewer bird species than known to be present. This is like counting cars in a supermarket carpark when it is closed.

There are several Natura 2000 Annex 1 and possibly Annex 4 species which must have full protection under the EU Natura 2000 directive and requires public consultation and under the Natura 2000 directive Annex I/4 species protection they cannot be disturbed. In addition if there is a Natura site within close to your development you are supposed to take that into account too.

To get around these "problems", in the feasibility study they "screen out" most of the Wildlife considerations in a legal slight of hand in an attempt to exempt them for any further consideration. But since there are two Natura 2000 Habitats within 2 km of the site they must be considered. They have applied for exemption to disturb the nesting location of some of the wildlife to make way for the "Sky Bridge". Instead these animals are supposed to be protected not moved. Again as part of the Annex I/4 species protection under Natura 2000

You can see in the Planning Statement how they expect to get away with this when they simply say in sec4.4.5 they imply minimal impact and even claim benefits because they are saying they will increase protections. This is simply not true because their entire wildlife survey and assessment and responsibilities are critically flawed. They indirectly suggest it is this plan or the place would be left to decay as if that was the only plan. There are plenty of plans that could be sustainable but not this one.

The council's plan seems primarily focused on the commercial aspect and how to increase the number of visitors for the purposes of ensuring the revenue stream is high enough to support the business plan. This seems to be the only real priority. This is despite stating in their South Dublin County Council Development Plan 2016-2022. Reading it, you would never think this was the same council planning this project.

The Dublin Mountains and associated uplands occupy the southern side of the County and extend into the adjoining counties of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Wicklow. The diverse topography and landcover of the Dublin Mountains includes areas of natural beauty and ecological importance (including 3 of the County?s Natura 2000 Sites) and is a key element of the County?s Green Infrastructure network. The mountains also offer significant recreational and amenity value, with popular orienteering courses, climbing areas and walking, running, hiking and mountain bike trails. The Landscape Character Assessment of South Dublin County (2015) highlights the high value and sensitivity of the Mountain Area. The protection of this landscape and its environment is a priority of this Plan.

It is the policy of the Council to protect and enhance the visual, recreational, environmental, ecological, geological, archaeological and amenity value of the Dublin Mountains, as a key element of the County?s Green Infrastructure network.

HCL9 Objective 1: To restrict development within areas designated with Zoning Objective ?HA ? DM? (To protect and enhance the outstanding natural character of the Dublin Mountains Area) and to ensure that new development is related to the area?s amenity potential or to its use for agriculture, mountain or hill farming and is designed and sited to minimise environmental and visual impacts.

HCL9 Objective 2: To ensure that development above the 350 metre contour in the Dublin Mountains will seek to protect the open natural character of mountain heath, gorselands and mountain bogs.

HCL9 Objective 3: To ensure that development within the Dublin Mountains will not prejudice the future expansion and development of a National Park, the County?s Green Infrastructure Network and local and regional networks of walking and cycling routes.

HCL9 Objective 4: To ensure that development proposals within the Dublin Mountains maximise the opportunities for enhancement of existing ecological and geological features and archaeological landscapes.
....

The Planning Statement in sec 5.1.2 under National Planning Framework says:
The proposed development represents an example of ?sustainable and adaptive reuse of historic assets?, and of maximising the value of natural heritage not only for biodiversity but for recreation, tourism and scientific purposes

There is no proof that it is either sustainable or going to maximise scientific purposes. The EIAR itself was quite unscientific. These are just stated as facts.

Section 5.2.2 of the Planning Statement is labelled 'Social Infrastructure and Sustainable Communities' talks about linking the urban areas to the rural -i.e. this site, through a pedestrian route. But why then more than triple parking spaces from 80 to 275. Surely that is encouraging car use? And how does any of this make it a sustainable community? It is not even defined what one is but it is in there as a section title anyhow.

The EIAR was required to look at the archaeological aspect of the site and it has been known for some time it was of high importance because the stones used centuries ago for building the actual Hellfire Club on the top of Montpelier were taken from a burial mound. The report even has to admit that it is an area of huge archaeological significance and identified six National Monuments within Coillte?s Massy?s Wood, and Hell Fire Club land holdings which are protected under the National Monuments Acts 1930-2004 and which are included in the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR). Quoting from the report it says: Recent excavations by the Hell Fire Club Archaeological Research Project suggest that the site is of high archaeological significance. Both this passage tomb and the adjoining one are part of a wider archaeological landscape namely a megalithic cemetery. There are strong similarities to Brú na Boinne which is a World Heritage Site, Tara and Lough Crew in Meath and Carrowmore, Carrowkeel and Knocknarea in Sligo. There are also similarities to the landscape around Stonehenge in the UK, which is also a World Heritage Site.

So now with this planning application we have a site of huge archaeological important and the plan is to more than triple the number of visitors and greatly increase intensification of the site. This is reminiscent of the disgraceful saga that befell the Wood Quay site in Dublin during the 1970s and which was probably one of the greatest losses of our heritage for had the right thing been done at the time it would have been of central historic and tourist importance to Dublin now instead of a faceless blob of concrete.

The EIAR does not consider that parts of the site are zoned differently. The views of Montpelier where the Hellfire Club is situated and can be seen from throughout Dublin are protected view. The proposed visitor centre would disrupt and break that view. It seems the council take the approach that everyone else has to follow the rules but they don't

Any lighting added for the new path to the top of the hill would be seen at night from all of Dublin and again contravenes this protected status.

The EIAR traffic figures for the road are simply wrong and do not make sense and seem inflated to justify the figures for the project. At the moment, it is estimated there are about 70,000+ visitors to site which would corresponds to about 80 cars a day with 3 people each for 6 days each week. The EIAR claimed it counted 112 cars in one hour although they picked the busiest day of the year. Then they suggest the road capacity there can take over 1000 cars per hour, yet it is known on busy days there are huge traffic problems. In other words they are claiming the roads have the capacity to take 300,000 visitors a year. This is not possible and would require a new road thus destroying the very rural and countryside feel of the place which is what attracts people to it in the first place.

You can see where they rely on their flawed traffic capacity assessment in sec 4.4.3 of the Planning Statement to say that access and traffic is not an issue. They are using a flawed analysis in one document, the EIAR, as a statement of proof in another.

The project proposes to make bring large numbers of tourists to Hellfire Club. These are most likely to be brought in the form of tours on coaches. It is extremely unlikely that any commercial tourist operation will agree to bring people by coach to Tallaght Stadium and transferring them on the proposed "shuttle" bus to Hellfire Club. Instead we are likely to see a large amount of traffic on the roads leading to Hellfire Club. The impact of this has not been accessed and it likely to be detrimental. There is no guarantee that private tour operators will bus their customers to Tallaght first and then transfer them . This is extremely unlikely and unworkable.

The current access to the site is 24 x 7 but once construction is complete we are likely to see erection of gates and or barricades that will restrict access outside "business" hours. The impact of this has not been accessed and it likely to be detrimental. In nearby Tibradden Wood access became limited after the commercially run ZipIt centre was opened.

The proposed new carpark further up the Montpelier hill represents a gross intensification of use and out of scale and this is contrary to the status of the site where the environment and wildlife is supposed to be protected. It will an eyesore and even though later when the surrounding trees are planted, the sun-glint from cars and buses will be seen for miles thereby obliterating its protected view status.

The carpark charge will result in people tending to stay longer than is typical now while the carpark is free. This will lead to a slower turnover of cars in the carpark putting pressure to increase the carpark size to allow more people. If the carpark which is already big does not get bigger, then it may mean there is not the turnover of people to make the proposed commercial operation in the management plan, profitable. The alternative is pressure to increase costs to the public elsewhere and ultimately results in a mechanism to restrict access and thereby charge for that access again. The carpark itself is proposed to be further up the mountain than the present one and will be an eyesore visible from all over Dublin.

The proposed footbridge or 'skybridge' over to Masey's Wood will for safety reasons need to be "caged" -i.e. roofed over and will as per management plan be charged a fee. If the public choose instead to walk directly to Massey's wood this will undercut the potential revenue from this and thereby put more commercial pressure on the whole operation to restrict all access to Massey's wood and thereby charge for it. Thus this project will take away public free access from Massey's wood in the longer term.

The skybridge is planned to go through the canopy of the deciduous trees in Masseys Wood at the very located where the protected Red Squirrels exist. This would be a gross disturbance of their habitat and they would flee the area. Again this is contrary to the protection of this site.

When this was initially "sold" to the councillors on SDCC it was claimed it would make money from day 1. Now the latest business plan shows it making a loss for the first three years.

The site selection was inadequate and the criteria for the removal of Orlagh's House is suspect and would have been more in line with protection of the Hellfire and Massey's Wood site by directing any development away from the site which should not been receiving increases in intensification and development considering the protections which apply to it.

High Risk of Luxury Housing 'Development'

The planning application proposes to run a sewage mains down the R115 road to link up with the existing watermain and public sewer network. The limiting factor for development in any rural area is the lack of a sewage mains. This will single piece of the plan is possibly the most destructive as it opens up the entire area to lucrative development of luxury homes. As we know from the history of the Planning Tribunals, the verbal and even legal "protections" and "zonings" are no barrier to development and no matter what anyone promises the presence of an installed sewage mains connected to the public network is the key that unlocks the stampede of developers and brown baggers.

There is little doubt once one part of the Dublin Mountains was opened up in this way, that the rest of the whole sweep of the mountains would follow. The potential huge money to be made in exclusive luxury homes with views of the city would create enough force to overcome any obstacle.

These are just some of the reasons as to why this plan should not go ahead. The two volumes of the EIAR are attached and so is the Planning statement and the "Business" plan.


Deadline 5pm on Monday 25th Sept 2017
Fee: €50
Ref: JA0040

How to make a submission of appeal to An Bord Pleanála against Hellfire & Masseys Wood Project.

Anyone can make a submission so long as it reaches the offices in Dublin by 5pm. If you deliver your submission by hand, be sure to get a receipt for it at the reception. It costs €50 which can be paid by cheque, postal order or debit card payable to An Bord Pleanála. This is why making a submission with a group of people is cheaper as it lowers the cost per person.

The address for submissions is:
An Bord Pleanála
64 Marlborough Street,
Dublin 1,
D01V902

For a submission you must include your name and address. For group submissions, you must also list all the names too. You can only make one submission.
You cannot make an individual one and be part of a group one at the same time.

You must give the planning application reference number. In this case it is: JA0040

Then all you have to do is state why you think the planning application should be refused and give reasons. Unfortunately you only get to challenge the elements of the plan and there is no mechanism to challenge for example the business plan.

A submission does not have to be of any particular length. A hand written single page in your own words is sufficient. In most cases the more individual submissions the better as it demonstrates to the inspector the concern of the public. Submissions by organisations would be typically typed and can run to several or many pages challenging the different aspects and deficiencies of the plan.

Request an Oral hearing
Any submission entitles you to attend an oral hearing and have your say if there is one. Once at the hearing, everything is public and you can ask further questions / queries. If submission is made by a group normally a spokesperson is nominated to attend Oral hearing will arrange a schedule with you for your attendance to accommodate you. Therefore it is a good idea to request that an oral hearing be heard because it is a more democratic and transparent way of conducting affairs and it also allows you to challenge any aspect of the plan at the hearing even if you did not originally do so in your submission. This is useful since you may become aware of new facts not known to you at the time.

Not all appeals result in an oral hearing but if enough people ask then there is a good chance. That is why it is good practice to request one in your submission.

It is known that oral hearings can continue for weeks but each person's part of the hearing may last for only a few hours. The long time duration of oral hearings can be due to the sheer number of submissions. For those who have time, they can attend as much as the oral hearing as they like.

A typical submission to might An Bord Pleanála run as follows:

Your Name and Address

Ref to planning application -JA0040 in this case

Dear Sir/Madame,
We wish to submit that the planned development is contrary to good principles of planning and contravenes --state regulations and or directives-- for the following reasons:

List each of your reasons.
*
*
*

We request that An Bord Pleanála holds an oral hearing.

There are many reasons, some of which have already been outlined as to why this development should not go through. Other examples can be that you think it will not protect the habitats as required under the EU Habitats Directive or protect the wildlife or it will disrupt and potentially destroy archaeological remains before any further work can be done, it will potentially restrict full public access by charging an access fee, it will destroy the protected views, it will open up the area to commercial development and so on.

Links:
South Dublin County Council Development Plan 2016-2022

iosaf mac diarmada - Sun Aug 20, 2017 22:56
These are my initial published thoughts on the terrorist attack I and my partner survived and endured 17th August 2017.
Fadó Fadó, long time ago, when many more readers came to this corner of the internet, I published a series of articles in reaction to a terrorist attack on Madrid, the 11th of March 2004. I promoted a simple design back then, to my surprise the idea found traction and was accepted by countless people. i had thought my suggestion was easy to reproduce and helped people express collective mourning, to show publicly their fellowship with a community in shock. My design was a black ribbon, one which was easy to knock up variations upon and print out. I admit the ribbon idea was based on my much younger years when I had worn a green ribbon in support of a complex idea back then : the inclusion of political prisoners in a tentative British Irish peace process. Am I turning some off the provenance? OH talk to me about my youth why not? The idea of a black ribbon took off the weekend of March 11th, 2004, whilst the then government of Spain falsely attributed an attack by Salafists in the ambit of Al Qaeda on Madrid by blaming the Basque armed seperatist group ETA. IT was a few days before a general election. An estimated 80,000 people took to the streets of Spain and the Spanish state and camped out in front of government offices and the offices of the ruling party demanding the truth... I was one... the ribbon was a moment in my life... I never wanted to see it used again In the last hours the city of my home where I have lived almost 20 years has been victim of a long anticipated terrorist attack. Even google now puts a black ribbon. I return to indymedia ireland to indulge POV reflections.
featured image
our collective grief's symbol was fresh then

These are my initial published thoughts on the terrorist attack I and my partner survived and endured 17th August 2017.
Fadó Fadó, long time ago, when many more readers came to this corner of the internet, I published a series of articles in reaction to a terrorist attack on Madrid, the 11th of March 2004. I promoted a simple design back then, to my surprise the idea found traction and was accepted by countless people. i had thought my suggestion was easy to reproduce and helped people express collective mourning, to show publicly their fellowship with a community in shock. My design was a black ribbon, one which was easy to knock up variations upon and print out. I admit the ribbon idea was based on my much younger years when I had worn a green ribbon in support of a complex idea back then : the inclusion of political prisoners in a tentative British Irish peace process. Am I turning some off the provenance? OH talk to me about my youth why not? The idea of a black ribbon took off the weekend of March 11th, 2004, whilst the then government of Spain falsely attributed an attack by Salafists in the ambit of Al Qaeda on Madrid by blaming the Basque armed seperatist group ETA. IT was a few days before a general election. An estimated 80,000 people took to the streets of Spain and the Spanish state and camped out in front of government offices and the offices of the ruling party demanding the truth... I was one... the ribbon was a moment in my life... I never wanted to see it used again In the last hours the city of my home where I have lived almost 20 years has been victim of a long anticipated terrorist attack. Even google now puts a black ribbon. I return to indymedia ireland to indulge POV reflections.

Related Links: Barcelona Attack : Black Ribbons (again) | Black Ribbons. (March 12th 2004)


Yesterday I received a phone call from my girlfriend, my wife, my partner. She shouted at me at first, "please this is important listen!". She told me that she had been caught up in a stampede of people running from the main artery street "las Ramblas" of Barcelona's old city. She told me she was safe in a Danish bar. She had remembered all the conversations that we had about what to do, should we, as we expected, be in the city when he suffered a typical terrorist attack associated with and claimed by so-called DAESH / ISIS.

She did not run with the crowd. She went to the wall of the street, she saw hundreds of others stampede and trip themselves up. She saw crying children seperated from the parents. A group of Italians were shouting that a van was being driven into people. She heard the Italian and walked sideways hugging the wall towards the nearest shop or bar which was open. This is what we had agreed to do. She was to stay in that bar for a further 7 hours within one of the police cordons placed within 15 minutes around the scene of a terrorist attack and the presumed escape route of the terrorist.

He is in a crack house in the Raval- At least that is the word on the street. Since he escaped into that neighbourhood, 5 people were shot dead as they attempted to carry out a second van driving assault in the Seaside resort town of Cambrils. In the early hours of this morning an explosion injured ten people, what was first attributed to a gas leak ifs now part of the terrorism investigation and is reported as being a bomb factory.

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain have suffered a concerted and organised attack. Low sophistication in terms of weaponry. Clearly they took advantage of the terrain. Many, myself included have long noted that 3 of our busiest pedestrianized or mostly pedestrianized streets lacked concrete bollards or any significant impediment to such an attack.

Today we begin our official days of mourning. Black Ribbons are ubiquitous, many businesses are closed, my wife/gf/partner was told not to go to work in the business zone of the city. Small mercy for her. She spent 7 hours in a Danish IPA bar, everyone there made friends, and they felt reassured that the Catalan police used their street as an operational base. I used all my charm and language skills and that quality I have ..the you recognise me, & you know I do alternative walking tours of this area and I am part of teh community. . The cops behaved with professionalism. They were obviously as shocked as anyone. I published on facebook the information I got from my partner. I tried to allay fears or panic in my post, I said it was "rumours". It took 25 minutes for the "rumours" to become international newswire headlines. Our phones began to ring..,

The hours that followed saw misinformation spread. I past through 3 police cordons trying to get to collect herself. The cops told me at the final cordon that if I tried to cross ramblas, I would be in a shoot to kill zone. I did not try to cross ramblas. At the point twitter told us as much as Sky News. There was a hostage situation in a restaurant. This of course later was denied on the Catalan police force´s oen twitter account.

There are so many lessons to learn..,

I would ask editors understanding and the privilege of returning to this text and expanding it.... or else I add to its information and write my analysis later on.... it is just that my phone is hopping again........... that is what happens when war comes to town and there is a mass murderer at loss less than a kilometer away, a young man who stole his own brother's driving licence to commit mass murder. He lived proximate enough to his big brother to feel unhappy. His family have been brought into protective custody. Terror has spread out like oozzed oil on foil.

But people have their mechanisms for collective response. They can photocopy black ribbons.

Indymedia Ireland >>

IMC network

Featured Stories from Federated Groups of Indymedia Centres
Featured Stories Selected by local IMCs around the world
© 2001-2019 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy