Spirit of Mother Jones Festival Brochure published

The programme for the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School 2017 is now available with the publication of the official brochure today (23rd June).

The programme covers a comprehensive range of events which will take place during the Festival and Summer School.  These will include lectures, music, film showing and commemorative events over the five days of 2017 event which runs from 1st to 5th August in the Shandon area of Cork city.

You can download the 2017 brochure by clicking Mother Jones Cork Programme 2017.

 

The Environmental Battle in Cork Harbour

Anti-Incinerator demo

Anti-incinerator protest at Carrigaline, Co. Cork, 2016

As the wider community around Cork Harbour continues to await the decision of An Bord Pleanala (State planning board)  in relation to the planning application by Indaver Ireland to construct an incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Councillor Marcia Dalton of Cork County Council will address this issue on Thursday morning 3rd August at the Maldron Hotel at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School.

Cork Harbour is a beautiful place and home to tens of thousands of people. It is a large natural harbour extending from Cork city to the Atlantic Ocean at Roches Point. Dotted around it are towns and villages, the best known are historic Cobh, Crosshaven, Monkstown and Passage. In past centuries the British Navy long recognised its importance and its ability to provide protection and it created an impregnable series of forts around the entrance making it one of the most important naval bases and ports on the west of Europe. It has been a trading port for centuries and hundreds of thousands emigrated from Cobh (formerly named Queenstown) in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Almost 50 years ago, many questioned the Government decision to designate areas of Cork Harbour as a centre for heavy and polluting industry and sought answers as to why the quiet Ringaskiddy Village area was selected as the centre for a deep water port. Located near the south western entrance of the Harbour this small village and community was the furthest location on the harbour from existing road networks, infrastructure such as rail links and connections to the rest of Ireland. That road infrastructure is still not fully in place and Ringaskiddy village itself is now virtually cut off from the harbour.

Already then located on Haulbowline Island was Irish Steel and while it provided many hundreds of jobs, its legacy to the harbour has been a large toxic island comprised of 650,000 cubic metres of contaminated waste, which is only now being finally removed. This had given rise to fears for residents and workers health.

Ringaskiddy demo

One of many anti-incinerator rallies at Ringaskiddy

The simmering resentment over the creation of industrial dumps in the area came to national prominence at the Battle of Barnahealy in May 1978, when a forceful attempt to dump asbestos waste (from the Raybestos Manhattan factory in Ovens, near Ballincollig), in spite of a protest by 200 local people organised by the Ringaskiddy Residents Association resulted in violence. The asbestos loaded dump truck from the factory some 35 Kilometres away was driven through the permanent picket of local people including many children, resulting in nine people being treated in hospital. The asbestos factory closed in 1980.

The harbour became associated with the vociferous campaign against pungent odours and pollution from some pharmaceutical plants during the 80s, even as the Merrill Dow plans to establish a factory in Killeagh further east in County Cork were defeated by environmental groups in 1989. There followed a vigorous campaign against the Sandoz factory incinerators by the Cork Environmental Alliance (CEA) in the 90s.

The sustained efforts by local groups such as Responsible Industry in Cork Harbour (RICH) and the CEA and many other community organisations contributed to the then creation of a Department of Environmental Protection and the establishment by its Minister Mary Harney of the Irish Environmental Protection Agency in 1993 (EPA).

Cork Harbour

Cork Harbour (not to scale)- the Indaver incinerator site at Ringaskiddy is highlighted with a star.

Former RTE Today Tonight journalist, Jerry O’Callaghan in his 1992 book The Red Book…The Hanrahan Case against Merck, Sharp and Dohme” concluded

“Cork Environmental Alliance may have lost the battle to stop Sandoz but they probably won the war. In future it is difficult to imagine any chemical projects getting past the praetorian guard of environmentalists without the most thorough inquisition”

Just a year later, on the morning of 6th August 1993, the Harbour exploded back into public consciousness, and exposed the failures to enforce environmental regulations, when the huge explosion and fire at the Hickson Pharmaceutical Plant to the south of Ringaskiddy village created international publicity. It was a miracle that this accident did not result in a major damage escalation and disaster in the lower harbour as water to fight the flames ran dry. For a critical period that morning, the Cork County Council Report acknowledged that there was “a severe lack of water for firefighting”.

Stunned into action both the public authorities and a more progressive industry devoted resources to improving the situation under the watchful and wary eyes of local residents and local environmental groups. The situation gradually improved and tourism, leisure, business, environmental and educational based projects slowly brought about the realisation that this was the way to improve the local harbour economy and create sustainable jobs.

Indaver fire Antwerp 2016

Massive fire which followed an explosion at an Indaver incinerator near Antwerp, Belgium in February 2016

Then in 2001, Indaver Ireland, a Belgian owned incineration company, submitted plans for a waste incinerator just a kilometre from Ringaskiddy village, close by the Irish Naval Headquarters at Haulbowline, within Cork Harbour. The Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment (CHASE), an alliance of local groups was established to oppose this incinerator.

Described by Frank McDonald, a former Environment editor at the Irish Times in his 2005 book (with James Nix), Chaos at the Cross Roads as “the biggest battle in Ireland so far has been fought over Indaver’s hazardous waste incinerator at Ringaskiddy”, the drums of the battle still reverberate daily in Cork Harbour over 12 years later.

A further generation of local people, young and old, has now spent almost 17 years of their lives fighting this incinerator, through three permission applications, through An Bord Pleanála (the State Planning Board), through the Environmental Protection Agency, through the courts in Ireland and Europe. Hundreds of thousands of euro have been raised from voluntary efforts and spent and irreplaceable time lost to their families as ordinary people wade through thousands of complex documents as official deadlines for submissions come and go!

LÉ Niamh at Haulbowline

Irish Naval patrol ship LÉ Niamh at the Irish Naval base at Haulbowline less than a kilometre from the Indaver incinerator site

The third planning application for an incinerator to burn 240,000 tonnes of various waste streams was submitted by Indaver Ireland to An Bord Pleanála on 13th January 2016 and a further public planning enquiry Oral Hearing was held during April/May 2016 in the nearby town of Carrigaline. This was particularly noteworthy for the completely united front of Harbour residents, young and old, politicians of all political parties and a wide range of social, educational, tourism, trade union and cultural organisations and the Irish Department of Defence which expressed total opposition to the project.

During the 17 day Oral Hearing, very serious flaws in the Indaver planning application were exposed in spite of the behind closed doors consultation between Indaver (involving at least six pre-application consultation meetings since 2012) with An Bord Pleanala, permitted under the fast-track Strategic Infrastructure Act 2006.

Toxic legacy

Toxic Legacy – slag heap from former Irish Steel plant on Haulbowline seen from Spike Island. Photo: John Jefferies.

Tuesday evening April 26th 2016 (Day 6) of the Oral Hearing was described as “electric” by Caitriona Reid in her recent book “Our Third Fight” as dozens of local residents vividly and angrily described to the Planning Inspector how their community had suffered through bad planning over the decades.

Indaver demo

Protest outside Indaver site, Ringaskiddy

Residents have now spent 60 days at oral hearings into various Indaver incinerator applications and have repeatedly stated that they have no trust whatever in the Indaver Ireland company.

To date a fourth decision deferral has been made by An Bord Pleanala (August 10th 2017 is the latest decision day!)…… and so will continue a new round of the battle in what may already be the longest running environmental battle anywhere in Europe…..the battle for environmental justice in Cork Harbour.

 

Councillor Marcia D’Alton, is an independent Cork County Councillor based in the Passage/Monkstown area. Marcia is an environmental engineer and one of the opponents of this project. She will tell the story of this saga when she talks on Thursday 3rd August at 11am at the Maldron Hotel. Her presentation will form part of the “Environment Day” on that date at the Spirit of Mother Jones 2017 summer school.  

 

By Admin.

 

Karen Underwood sings the Blues in Cork

The Cork Mother Jones committee announces that singer Karen Underwood will appear for the first time at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday night 2nd August at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon, at 9.30 pm.

Karen Underwood

Karen Underwood concert at Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Karen was born in Chicago in the early 60s at a time when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. Her home was full of music and song and she absorbed many musical influences as a young girl from Nat King Cole to Church and Gospel music.

She arrived in Cork in her 30s around 1997 and settled in the city. Here she experimented with various musical genres however the music of her heroine Nina Simone was celebrated in her show “The Nina in Me” where she sings many of Nina Simone’s songs interspersed with commentary of life, her memories of America and the tragedy, joys and experiences of her life in Cork.

Karen’s version of “Mississippi Goddamn” is awesome while “Strange Fruit”, with its echoes of lynching in America resonate the growing fear in today’s Trump’s America. Her live performances are a tribute to her extraordinary versatility and her embracement of what life throws at one.

Karen has performed all over Ireland, including the National Concert Hall, the Olympia, the Gaiety and she has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes.

Karen Underwood Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard

Tickets for this festival fundraising show are €15 euro each (limited to 70) and are available from the Maldron Hotel, or from Nolan’s (Victuallers) 21/22 Shandon Street or phone 086 1651356. This show is highly recommended.

Feargus O’Connor – The Lion of Freedom

Cork born Chartist leader to be remembered at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Feargus O'Connor

Feargus O’Connor (1796-1855)

Born on 18th July 1796 at Connorville close to Ballineen in Co Cork, Feargus O’ Connor was the son of Roger O’Connor and Wilhelmina Bowen. Both his father and more famous uncle, Arthur (a Barrister, former MP and High Sheriff of Cork) were arrested in 1798 for activities connected to the United Irishmen. Arthur was exiled to France, where Bonaparte welcomed him as an official representative of the Irish people. Roger’s family were also dispersed for some time as a result of his ongoing brushes with the law.

After some teenage adventures in England and Ireland, Feargus acquired Fort Robert, Dromidiclogh near Ballineen in West Cork from his uncle Robert Connor in 1820 and worked the attached farm alongside over 100 of his tenants. At this time, rural areas of County Cork were hotbeds of Whiteboy actions led by the infamous and mysterious Captain Rock and O’Connor may have become mixed up in these activities. He had also addressed his first public meeting at the original Catholic Church in Enniskean but due to the treasonous nature of his comments, he disappeared to England in 1822, where he later qualified as a barrister.

Connorville

The ruins of Connorville, Ballineen, birthplace of Feargus O’Connor

Returning to Cork he defended many ordinary people in the courts at the time. However his experiences led him to become angry at the lack of civil rights, a critic of tithes (payments to the Protestant church) and more active in politics. He did not support Daniel O’Connell’s Catholic Emancipation campaign contending that it was limited emancipation and O’Connell was “the only Irishman to have benefitted”. In any event he was more interested in the Repeal of the Union movement and his brilliant oratory skills helped him to sway huge crowds at public meetings. He addressed a crowd of some 50,000 people in Dunmanway in 1832, while also holding a large campaign dinner for 500 in Enniskean village.

Kennington meeting

Chartist Meeting, Kennington Common, London 1848

Large in stature, fiery and red haired, self-confident, charming, defiant and passionate, he engaged huge crowds and was a natural leader. Occasionally these meetings could be rather robust affairs and O’Connor became involved in many altercations. He was described by his friend and neighbour William J O’Neill Daunt as being “indefatigable in agitation”. His increasingly radical views gained many supporters among disenfranchised tenants, labourers and working class people of no property.

He challenged openly the aristocratic Tory grip of politics across County Cork and in 1832 surprised all when he was elected MP for County Cork, breaking the political glass ceiling of the landlords, (although one himself!). His victory sparked mass evictions of hundreds of tenants along the Bandon Valley by Lord Bandon. The landlords never forgave him and those evicted never forgot either. Yet he continued to engineer electoral victories in a corrupt system by somewhat pragmatic methods in many Cork towns against a backdrop of increasing anti tithe violence. (In December 1834, 12 people were killed when troops opened fire in Rathcormac, Co Cork).

In the House of Commons, O’Connor was very isolated and gradually split from Daniel O’Connell accusing him of selling out the Irish people on Repeal, especially after the Liberator’s agreement to the Lichfield House Whig Compact. O’Connor and the working classes became alienated even further from O’Connell due to O’Connell’s regular attacks on the emerging trade union networks.

Re-elected in January 1835 as MP for Cork, he was soon disqualified from the House of Commons in June when a Select Committee found he had not enough property or income to qualify in the first place. Being unable to contest the Cork election again he then turned most of his attention to English politics.

Later in England in September 1835 O’Connor helped found the Great Radical Association, which united many radicals and agitators and which sought universal suffrage (for men), voting by ballot and the removal of property qualifications for MPs. He possessed ferocious energy and spoke at huge meetings in support of working peoples’ rights and is regarded by many as one of the founders of Chartism based on the later People’s Charter which also sought the earlier principles espoused by O’Connor. Feargus was becoming the “Lion of Freedom”, adored by countless thousands, yet remaining a very divisive figure to others.

Northern Star

The Northern Star

He founded the Northern Star newspaper in 1837 in Leeds, which was hugely popular and which promoted the ideas of Chartism throughout Britain and supported the People’s Charter announced by the London Working Men’s Association in June 1838. O’Connor was a vigorous campaigner, an accomplished orator, a smart agitator and he spoke at meetings attended by hundreds of thousands of people. Unfortunately he also became involved in the many irrelevant disputes which weakened the Chartist movement. Yet he always raised the Irish grievances whenever he could.

The authorities ensured he was charged and imprisoned for 18 months for seditious libel in May 1840 in York Castle. While weakening his direct control over the Chartist revolution, O’Connor became a martyr for the now huge movement. In spite of many setbacks, widespread violence arising from industrial strikes especially in 1842, the rejection of parliament petitions, an over ambitious land plan, O’Connor and others kept Chartism central to the political agenda throughout the 1840s. He was elected as an MP for Nottingham in 1847 and became an even bigger thorn in the side of the Establishment (both Whigs and Tories in Parliament).

Grave

Detail from Feargus O’Connor’s gravestone at Kensal Green Cemetery (via Findagrave.com)

Eventually worn out by years of campaigning, wounded by arguments within the movement, lack of finances and the ongoing efforts of the Establishment to be rid of him, O’Connor experienced poor health and mental difficulties, he was eventually sent for treatment to an asylum where he remained for several years. He died at his sister’s house in Notting Hill on 30th August 1855 and is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. Vast crowds attended his funeral in London and the gates of the cemetery were “unceremoniously broke open” by the throngs. A large monument was erected over his grave. Another monument was erected in Nottingham by his admirers.

Chartism, riven with disputes between reformers and militants receded in the 1850s and much of its vision in education, parliamentary and land reforms and universal suffrage came to nothing in the short term. However the awakening working classes proceeded to organise and consolidate trade unions, co-operatives and friendly societies and absorb new socialist and democratic ideas. Wage negotiations commenced. While political reform took longer…… for many on the ground, O’Connor had led the way across the revolutionary Rubicon!

Southern Star (Chartist)

The Southern Star – British Chartist newspaper (not related to the West Cork paper of the same name)

As early as February 1838, O’Connor as quoted in the Bolton Free Press (Dorothy Thompson The Chartists) had declared that society is divided into two classes….  “The rich oppressors and the poor oppressed. The whole question resolved itself into the battle between labour and capital”.  He emphasised the need to create independent working class organisation.

Feargus had introduced powerful ideas to the workers and he would not be silenced as he understood how to promulgate these ideas fearlessly through his newspaper, through vast meetings and through Chartism. Establishment attacks tried to destroy his character portraying him as a colourful and dangerous eccentric of this period yet the West Corkman remains the one innovative, questioning and radical voice in the complex tapestry and history of agitation for full political rights for all in Britain and Ireland.

Today, O’Connor appears to have been consigned to occupying a marginal role in Irish and British history, although he was a central and significant figure in the British Revolution. In his publication “Feargus O’Connor …a Political Life” by Paul A Pickering (published by Merlin Press 2008), Professor Pickering contends that O’Connor has not been “treated kindly by history” and his book is a plea for a place in Irish and British history for Feargus, as “he had earned it”.   

Carrickmore

Carrickmore House – extension of the original Connorville at Ballineen – both in ruins now.

Today, Connorville and the later Carrigmore House shamefully lie in ruins alongside the present day Carbery Milk Products factory at Ballineen. Cattle graze beneath the walls of Feargus’s old home Fort Robert (built in 1787) which is nearby. Very little remains of the old church at Derrigran, Enniskean where he made his first speech, and today a parochial house stands on the site.

Alongside the “Idle Bridge”, on the main Bandon/Dunmanway road (a bridge built by Roger to carry water from a never completed Blackwater river diversion on the O’Connor lands at Manch), a small plaque unveiled in 1999, commemorates Roger and Arthur O’Connor and their role in the United Irishmen.

For Feargus O’Connor…the Lion of Freedom… there is no monument in his native county!

 

Cllr Warren Davies, is a Labour Councillor, who represents Baird Ward in Hastings in East Sussex. For 27 years he has taught history, politics, Sociology and anthropology. Warren will speak of “Feargus O’Connor – The Corkman behind a British Revolution” on Saturday 5th August 2017 at 2.30pm at the Maldron Hotel.

 

Music at the Maldron 2017

 

Richard and Jimmy

Jimmy Crowley and Richard T. Cooke

Music at the Maldron

 

Among the liveliest events at the Spirit of Mother Jones festival are a lunch time series of concerts held at the Maldron Hotel each day (Wednesday to Friday 1 to 2pm) featuring some wonderful Cork singers and musicians. Organised and compered by the irrepressible Richard T Cooke, these “Music at the Maldron” sessions should not be missed. Come along and enjoy……see you there!

   

 Lunchtime Song & Music Concerts

 

Richard T. Cooke MC

 

 Wednesday, August 2nd 

 

Muddy Lee & Shandon Street Shawlies Choir

 Frances O’ Sullivan 

(Traditional Singer, Cork Rokk Choir)

The Vocalic 

 

  Clann Chorcai members: 

Aoife Delaney (Young Mother Jones, Singer, Actor)

Joan Goggin (Singer, Poet, Actor)

Eadaoin Delaney (Singer, Musician, Poet, Actor)

Joan Goggin

Singer, Actor and Poet, Joan Goggin dressed as “Mother Jones”. Picture: Andy Jay

 NICHE: Sing Your Heart Out Group members:

Rose Broderick, Nuala Panek, 

David McGrath (Singers)

 

 

Thursday, August 3rd

 Mother Jones Ceili Band Concert & Guests

 

Friday, August 4th

The Jimmy Crowley Concert

Cork born, international renowned recording artist and author 

 performs a selection of songs from his songbook in his own quintessential Cork style. 

 

  • Admission Free
Cork Shawlies

Richard T. Cooke (centre) with Lord Mayor Des Cahill and the Shandon Street Shawlies at last year’s festival. Photo (c) Martin Duggan.

 

Political and corporate corruption – have we learned the lessons from past?

 

Tom Gilmartin

Tom Gilmartin (Photo via the Irish Post)

On Friday 22nd November 2013, Tom Gilmartin passed away at the Cork University Hospital. He was 78 years old and died of kidney failure due to heart complications. Following his removal from the Wilton funeral home, his body was taken on its last journey, initially to his own place at Grange, Co Sligo and finally to Urris on the Inishowen Peninsula, where his wife Vera is from and where he was  laid to rest. Trevor McBride’s classic photo of Tom’s funeral in the cemetery at Urris, with the bleak November landscape as its backdrop remains an enduring image.

No political figures attended his funeral, Official Ireland was absent. Yet the story of Tom Gilmartin and his treatment by a corrupt planning and political system is literally a parable for modern Ireland. His experiences at the hands of some planners and some politicians is told with great humanity and forensic skill by investigative journalist Frank Connolly in his classic bestselling book “Tom Gilmartin – The Man who brought down a Taoiseach and exposed the greed and corruption at the heart of Irish politics” (Gill and Macmillan 2014).

While he co-operated with the author and read the final manuscript, Tom Gilmartin, the man who did the State some service, did not live to see this book published but he would surely have been proud of the telling of the story which lies within.

Fintan O’Toole has commented that “Tom Gilmartin did all Irish people an immense service by telling the truth about the corruption and cynicism he encountered at the very top of the political system”.

From the car crash Late Late Show of Friday night 15th January 1999 where E.U. Commissioner Padraig Flynn made derogatory comments about him and Vera… to his straightforward, candid and forthright honesty at the Mahon Tribunal, Tom Gilmartin told a story of a hidden Ireland and made a memorable mark on Irish politics. His revelations revealed a corrupt system of planning in Dublin and in the politics of planning which was at the very root of the property and banking crash of 2008 and which ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

The emigrant, the family man, the businessman, the patriot, he was many things and he told the truth. Tom Gilmartin deserved better from Ireland!

Gilmartin Book

Cover of Frank Connolly’s book on Tom Gilmartin

Frank Connolly first met Tom Gilmartin in 1998, began work on the book in 2004 and over almost the next decade talked to him and his family and then awaited the Mahon Tribunal findings which largely vindicated many of Gilmartin’s allegations.

Frank Connolly

15.7.08. Dublin. FRANK CONNOLLY Writer/Journalist. ©Photo by Derek Speirs

In a lecture entitled “Political and corporate corruption – have we learned the lessons from past?” Frank Connolly will discuss the Tom Gilmartin story, the Mahon tribunal findings and the subsequent Irish financial and banking collapse. He will go on to examine what has happened since in the light of the recent sell-off of Irish property assets to global vulture funds.

Frank Connolly will present his lecture at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon, Cork, on Saturday 5th August at 11am. All are welcome.