Catholics who have been born and raised up in the North of Ireland will have had some experience of being on the receiving end of comments like the following: Having a child with ADHD is “punishment for sleeping with a Catholic” or “no longer hangs out her washing at home, the smell of Catholics being atrocious." These comments were made in a workplace, not in a factory, not among blue collar workers - as polite society would have us all believe is the only place where sectarianism lurks - but in a social work setting.

Just short of a year since the General Election and the Croke Park Agreement is in the news once more. This is no surprise, we explained in advance that because of the economic situation any deal that was struck would be short lived. On the one side the Government would come back for more and the commitment to no wage cuts for four years would be meaningless. On the other hand the agreement to “reform” public services under these conditions was a sign of serious weakness from the ICTU leadership, which could lead to a serious assault on the working class. Less than 11 months after the General election a number of Fine Gael TD’s have demanded that the deal is dumped. Here’s what the Sunday Independent reported on January 22nd:

There are many ways to judge the health of a society. The speculators in the European Bond Markets judge the health of nations by the state of their public finances; socialists and trade unionists point to the way that old people and children are treated and especially the position of women in society. Economists look at the volume of imports and exports and at the rate of economic growth.  One measure looks at the scale of inequality within society.