In Ireland unemployment is rising at the fastest rate
since the records began in 1967. It’s
now standing at 295,000, having grown by120,987 in the last year. The only
thing growing faster than that is opposition to the Israeli onslaught against Gaza. The dole figure now
stands at 8.3%. Since December 2007 male unemployment has gone up by 83% and
female by 50% (although this is likely to be a big underestimate). Among young
people under 25 it’s gone up 24%. Estimates from the state training agency FÁS
indicate that unemployment will reach 12% this year.
Reports that Waterford Crystal and the Wedgwood China Company were to go into
administration will add yet more gloom to the outlook for the Irish economy.
Waterford Crystal is an internationally known company and helps bring some
300,000 visitors to the town each year. In the current climate people won’t be
racing out to the shops to buy smart glass or china, but it’s going to have a
big effect on the economy and it shows the depth of the mess that we are in.
Not that long ago, the Republic of Ireland was being
heralded as a Celtic Tiger, with a booming economy, a massive house price
bubble and a rising population as people returned home to Ireland to join the
boom. But all that seems a long time ago now as the government announces a bail-out
plan that will give the Allied Irish Bank and the Bank of Ireland 2 billion
Euros ($2.8 billion dollars) each in return for preference shares. In the case
of Allied Irish this amounts to nationalisation as the government will have 75%
of the voting rights.
Ireland, after a long period of economic boom, is
now feeling the effects of the worldwide slowdown. Some have made big money,
but at the other end of the social spectrum there are many who have lost out.
Now is the time to raise the banner of genuine socialism within the Republican
movement and the working class as a whole.
In spite of all the main parties, big business, the media
and even most of the trade union leaders campaigning for a "yes" vote in
yesterday's referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, the "No" won the day. This was a
slap in the face for the Irish government and the European Union bosses.