Dear Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton,

Joan Burton, Labour Party TD, Minister for Social Protection in Fine Gael/ Labour coalition Irish Government.
Joan Burton, Labour Party TD, Minister for Social Protection in Fine Gael/ Labour coalition Irish Government.

I thought I should write to you to express my appreciation of your standing up to that bully Joan Collins and that baying mob of reds and general hooligans that is always howling for the blood of those few, like yourself, who are willing to stand up and tell a few home truths.

You were quite right to point out that videos hostile to the Gardaí were being posted on the Internet by people who had access to expensive mobile phones and Ipads. Some of these are obviously professional red agitators (in the old days, we could be sure that they were receiving funding from Soviet Russia but it’s harder to say where they get their money from these days).

Other people filming and posting are bound to be ne’erdowells who’d rather spend their money on these Ipads and things rather than pay their water bills like good citizens. They probably have expensive television sets on which they’re watching the news too, not only RTÉ but “alternative” media, such as that muck-raking “Democracy Now!”. To be honest, I’ve wondered sometimes whether it was wise to educate the working classes but now, sure one doesn’t have to be able to read to watch videos and news reports, does one?

And attacking the poor Gardaí, who are only doing their job! Their critics say that they don’t deal effectively with crime in working class areas but turn out in big numbers to police protests.  That is clearly nonsense.  Why, I had a burglar alarm tripped in my Killiney Hill residence the other day and two squad cars were there within four minutes! It was a false alarm, but still ….. Some people say that if the Gardaí weren’t behaving badly, they wouldn’t be giving their critics anything to put on the Internet, but that’s not the point. Sure you can’t deal with the kind of people who live in places like Darndale or Clare Hall without being a little robust – it’s what they understand, what they practice among themselves. It’s only the Gardaí being culturally sensitive, if you like. But who likes doing his job while being videoed (well, film stars maybe … and celebrities … and politicians, maybe)?

Joan Collins TD
Joan Collins, TD (elected Member of Irish Parliament), many years a socialist community activist.

As for your one, that Joan Collins? A postal clerk, I ask you! What can a postal clerk know about what it takes to run a country? Not like yourself, now, having previously worked as a lecturer in accountancy. But getting back to that Collins …. sure looking at her history is like a career in far-left organisations – the Socialist Party, People Before Profit, the United Left Alliance, and now in the United Left, with that other red get, Clare Daly.

The Collins woman has no sense of propriety or occasion. Did she not give Bertie Ahern a tongue-lashing as he was being interviewed on TV on the day of his resignation outside the Dáil! “Shame on you!” she shouted at him; no, shame on her! I know you’ll agree with me here, although the Soldiers of Destiny party has never been one of our closest friends. Poor Bertie had put in years of service as a TD and Taoiseach and was entitled to his pension of €135,000 (and he hadn’t even been condemned by the Mahon Tribunal yet)! I hope he has opened a bank account since, as with rising crime, stuffing money under the mattress is no longer a safe option.

But forgive me, I’m drifting off the point. I just wanted to say “fair play” to you for speaking the truth and standing up to that red rabble-rouser Collins. And if you ever get around to banning the trouble-makers from carrying mobile phones or from putting such provocative videos up on the Internet, you’ll have my full support. Our democracy needs to be protected from people like them.


Shleevy N. Fawning

Video of exchange between the two Joans in the Dáil in which the Minister makes comments about protesters with “expensive Ipads”:



Diarmuid Breatnach

Over the years I have written articles and published them, usually under my own name, in alternative publications.  Some of those having been written in Castellano (Spanish) has meant that, with the help of others to check or edit them, I have been able to publish in a number of on-line publications from the Spanish state, including a number in the Basque Country.  These articles have been political commentary, analyses and news reports.  They come from a revolutionary socialist perspective and from one who has been politically active for many years in London and in Ireland, which is where I grew up.

I do not find it easy to categorise my politics in a short phrase.  I have been an active anarchist, from which I learned much, later a supporter of a marxist-leninist party and that too has taught me a lot; I am not an anarchist now nor perhaps even a marxist-leninist (certainly not the type I was).  I am opposed to the presence of British Imperialism and colonialism on Irish soil but I am not an Irish Republican (though many in my family have been).  I have not found a revolutionary organisation in Britain or in Ireland that comes close to being what I want to belong to now: an organisation that is effective, learns by mistakes instead of covering them up, is honest with itself and with the class it purports to lead, is disciplined yet tolerant of internal criticism ….

As a revolutionary, I am interested in the experiences of people the world round but most of my experience has been with the Irish at home and abroad, with Afro-Caribbeans in London, with solidarity work with Irish prisoners, the Kurds, Palestinians and Basques.  Of course, I have also been active in community resistance to cuts in services and grants, to fascists and racists, as well as active in trade unionism.

We live in a time when many anti-imperialist movements and organisations have grasped or are reaching out for something they call a “peace process”.  But these processes are not about peace but instead are about pacification.  They cannot bring peace since they do not resolve the basic issues: imperialist and capitalist exploitation.  They bring instead fragmentation, betrayal, apathy and, from a small section, collaboration with oppression.  Ireland and South Africa, often quoted as good examples of “peace processes”, are actually excellent examples of the real nature of these processes.

It is common these days for someone who expresses opposition to pacification processes to be accused of militarism without a political agenda, of favouring immediate resumption of armed struggle, or of being undemocratic.  Often these criticisms are made by people from the very same organisations whose militarist acts and lack of political strategy I have criticised over the years.  But no matter.  It is easier to condemn the critic than to carry out a real analysis of what has been won and what lost through these processes.

Currently the working class (as well as other sections of society) in Europe and elsewhere are under attack by capitalist governments determined to make them pay for the losses incurred by their financial speculator friends and to ensure that the big capitalists not only lose no profits but actually increase them.  In the course of that process they are plundering the public purse and stripping the states of their public assets.  Energetic and determined resistance is called for but the organisations to which we might look for that have been either completely useless or ineffective.    Never before have so many institutions of the capitalist class been so exposed and so reviled by the ordinary people, yet none of the European states seems to be near to revolution.  The necessary preparations were not made and we are not in a position, it seems, to lead those disenchanted and angry masses to effective resistance and then to the overthrow of this exploitative system.  Not yet anyway.  We need to learn from this and build the bases and organs so necessary for effective resistance.

Cultural Interests

My main cultural activity is singing, mostly traditional/ folk and I attend regularly a number of singing circles of sessions around the Dublin Bay area (of which there are a surprising number).  I did sometimes play percussion by hand on a dholak (type of Indian drum) in Irish traditional sessions but not since I misplaced the drum and have been unable to find it.  I also sometimes compose songs (lyrics and music), write poetry and short stories, along with humorous pieces.  Among my many interests is history, both recent and more ancient and I have been known to conduct walking history tours around Dublin on occasion.  Another strong interest is natural history, the world of plants and animals.
I am likely to write about all those things at one time or another.

I am primarily trilingual in Irish, Castellano and English.