Jack O’Connor to deliver the 2016 Cork Mother Jones Lecture.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is pleased to announce that the Cork Mother Jones Lecture 2016 will be delivered by Mr Jack O’Connor, General President of SIPTU.

Jack O'Connor

Jack O’Connor

The 5th annual lecture will take place at the Firkin Crane Theatre on Thursday 28th July at 8pm, following the 2016 festival and Summer School  opening ceremony at the Mother Jones plaque in Shandon.

Jack O’Connor is probably the most recognised and best known trade union leader in Ireland. A Dubliner, Jack was originally a trade union activist before working for the Federated Workers’ Union of Ireland. When the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union and the Federated Workers’ Union of Ireland (both founded by “Big” Jim Larkin) merged in 1990 to form SIPTU, he became regional organiser for SIPTU.

He was appointed General President of SIPTU in 2003. Jack was also President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) from July 2009 to July 2011.  His declared priorities are combating worker exploitation, promoting people’s rights to participate in collective bargaining. He promotes the principle of “Fairness at Work and Justice in Society. He refuses to serve on any State Board while in his present role in SIPTU. Jack is a member of the Labour Party.

The future of the organised labour and the trade union movement in Ireland and indeed across Europe is being faced with a concerted move by governments in the public sector and multinationals in the private sector to enforce changes in work patterns, forced self-employment, zero hours contracts, reduced pay and conditions and more productivity. Hostile opposition by employers to trade union organising in workplaces has grown. Many young people joining the workforces of multinationals and other enterprises are not allowed the opportunity to become union members.  The huge achievements of the trade union movement over the past century, achievements, which many people today take for granted, are under sustained threat.

Jack O'Connor

Jack O’Connor, General President of SIPTU

These issues require a serious and well thought out response from the organised labour movement. Jack O’Connor has a contribution to make.

He will discuss his views for the future responses of the labour movement to the changing organised labour environment at the Firkin Crane Theatre on Thursday evening 28th July at 8pm in a talk entitled “Organising to win – what is to be done!”

Greed is Good for Nothing

Justine McCarthy will address the above topic at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Monday August 1st August 2016.

Justine McCarthy

Justine McCarthy

Justine is from Bandon, Co Cork and was educated at the Ursuline convent in Blackrock.   Her father and grand-father were councillors and her immersion in a political family has stood to her as a commentator on contemporary politics and Irish life.

 

Justine McCarthy was chief features writer and columnist with the Irish Independent from 1984. She is now a columnist and reporter with The Sunday Times.

Ms McCarthy worked with Aspect and Village magazine and her articles have appeared in newspapers such as the Guardian, Observer and Washington Post.

Deep Deception (book cover)

Deep Deception (book cover)

She is the author of Mary McAleese: The Outsider and Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals.Justine has won more than a dozen journalism awards, including the Journalists’ Journalists features writer award. Kevin Myers once described one of her columns as “the very quintessence of the feminist narrative” which, she was surprised to read on Wikipedia, was intended as criticism.  She considered it a compliment!

 

She is a regular broadcaster and appears frequently on Tonight with Vincent Browne where her forthright comments usually ensure respectful silence from Mr Browne. Ms McCarthy is an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Limerick.

Justine McCarthy's biography of Mary McAleese

Justine McCarthy’s biography of Mary McAleese

 

Her commitment to the truth in her writing along with her absolute determination to expose cant, hypocrisy and injustice in the Irish political system stand out. She is a strong and committed defender of those seeking justice in Ireland and her opinions on issues which matter are expressed cogently and fearlessly.

 

Justine McCarthy will speak to the topic “Greed is Good for Nothing” at the Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Monday evening 1st August at 7.30 pm at the Maldron Hotel.

 

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2015……”Unforgettable”!

The 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and summer school was again a highly successful and uplifting event. Four days and nights of talks, debates, films, singing, poetry and music concluded at the Maldron Hotel on the Saturday night 1st August with a rousing and spectacular musical tribute to labour leader Joe Hill, who was executed one hundred years ago.
Earlier actress Kaiulani Lee had brought Mother Jones to the streets of her childhood when she performed her play Can’t Scare Me…The Story of Mother Jones at the Firkin Crane before an appreciative and amazed audience. It was a triumph for Kaiulani, a tribute to the professionalism of everyone at the Firkin Crane and the fulfilment of a long cherished dream of the Cork Mother Jones Committee to have Ms Lee come to Cork to perform. We acknowledge the support of Ms Becky Bartovics in bringing this about. We thank Ms Lee on an amazing performance and for her insightful contributions to several other elements of the festival.
According to Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

“We were delighted with the 2015 festival, the lectures and debates were outstanding with capacity attendances, morning, afternoon and evening. It was a real privilege to present Fr Peter McVerry with the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones award, no one deserves it more for his brave determination to question the causes of homelessness and do something about it”
It was memorable to hear Chris Mullin give a very personal, frank and objective account of his role in the campaign to free the Birmingham Six and later describe in amusing detail his affection for the late Tony Benn as well as his forthright views on the election of a new British Labour Party leader. Dave Hopper and the Durham Miners’ Association contributed so much to the ground breaking Mother Jones lecture and later their description of the injustice of what took place at Orgreave”

Historians and writers such as Luke Dineen, Ann Matthews, Leo Keohane, Scott Millar, Theo Dorgan and John Jefferies presented papers on the political and historical flux and lesser known personalities of the first decades of the 1900s, which had 1916 Rising at its core. The extraordinary life of Cork woman Ethel Boole was critically examined by author Alannah Hopkin while Margaret O’Keeffe presented a very wise and thoughtful paper on a current topic of water and democracy.
Music, singing, poetry, a garden party and everything in between was as usual an integral element of the event and under the direction of William Hammond and Richard T Cooke, the very best of Cork talent was well represented throughout. Johnny Nyhan organised the emotional tribute to Joe Hill. Films were also central to the festival and Frameworks Films ensured a professional presentation.The staff and management of the Maldron Hotel kept the show working at all times in spite of the crowds. The local Shandon community provided magnificent logistics support, a colourful backdrop and a wonderful historic setting to the 2015 Festival which again showed to all what an organised community in the very heart of Cork City can achieve.
Jim Nolan continued
“So many people contributed to the success of the festival, especially those in the trade union movement across Ireland, north and south. This support combined with that of the City Council, the local community, the media and the huge international support of the Mother Jones groupsand individuals in Britain and America, the festival provides a fitting and appropriate celebration of a famous and uniquely Cork rebel…….Mary Harris……known to the world as Mother Jones.  Long may it continue”

The dates for the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School will be announced shortly, all will be welcome to come along and experience the unique atmosphere which it generates.

 

Festival Time approaches!

2015 Festival Progamme - click image to view full size or download

2015 Festival Progamme – click on link in text or via the main menu.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to introduce the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school which begins on Wednesday 29th July and concludes on Saturday night, 1st August.

 

We feel very honoured to celebrate the memory of Mary Harris, known as Mother Jones, in the streets of her birthplace and we know that the speakers, musicians, poets, film makers, artists, singers, actors and the visitors will provide a festival and summer school that is interesting, relevant and challenging. The wonderful community of Shandon in Cork City will again provide a historic and colourful backdrop for the events. We also know that many others across the USA, the UK, Greece and elsewhere will be attending in spirit.

 

The full programme of almost 30 events over 4 days is available to download by clicking on this link: Spirit of Mother Jones programme 2015

The topics and subjects are varied and diverse, yet we are sure Mother Jones would have approved of the debates they will encourage among those attending. We will remember forgotten Cork heroes such as John Dowling and Lily Boole, and others such as Tony Benn, Joe Hill and Rachel Carson. We will hear of injustices perpetrated on the miners at Orgreave or on the Birmingham Six. We will wonder at the bravery of Irish Citizen Army and the labour struggles of the early 20th Century. We will hear of homelessness in our Republic in 2015 and the possible loss of our most precious natural resource.

 

We will listen to the very best of Cork and international music and song from Two Time Polka, Jimmy Crowley, Johnny Nyhan, Richard T. Cooke, William Hammond, the Cork Singers Club,  the Cork Rokk Choir and many, many more.

 

And we will experience Mother Jones herself when the superb Kaiulani Lee takes the stage to perform “Can’t Scare Me…the Story of Mother Jones”. 

 

Virtually all the events are free and open to everyone, (just be early!). For that we have to thank our sponsors, the Shandon community, all those participating and contributing on a voluntary basis and the ongoing work of the members of the Cork Mother Jones Committee to celebrate an inspirational woman. Come along!

 

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!      

 

 

Festival programme for 2015 released

2015 Festival Progamme - click image to view full size or download

2015 Festival Progamme (front) – click image to view or download

The full brochure for the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2015 is now available on this website.  The festival takes place from Wednesday 29th July to Saturday 1st August 2015 in the Shandon area of Cork city.  This year’s programme is jam-packed with an exciting range of lectures, performance, films and music.

You can view or download the brochure by clicking on the image at the top of this article or by navigating to the Festival Programme 2015 page and following the links.  The brochure is laid out in print format and appears as two pages on screen – scroll down the pdf for the 2nd page.

 

Fr. Peter McVerry to speak at Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Fr. Peter McVerry will speak at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School on Thursday afternoon 30th July at the Firkin Crane. He will address the topic “Homelessness – AFailure of Social Policy”.

Fr. Peter McVerry.  Photo:  Degreezero

Fr. Peter McVerry. Photo: Degreezero

Fr. McVerry is an advocate on behalf of the homeless and of people who suffer from social disadvantage. A tireless and fearless campaigner for those who have no roof over their heads, he has resisted the easy complacency of our times as he speaks out repeatedly on an issue which many in power might like to ignore.

Born in 1944 in Belfast, he is a Jesuit priest and is probably one of the best known and respected clergymen in Ireland. He continues to emphasise that homeless people are ordinary people like the rest of us and we as a society must confront and solve the problem.

He points out that there is an average of six new people becoming homeless every day and the ongoing failure to address the lack of provision of new social housing and the escalating rents in the private sector continues to increase the problem. The Irish courts are now full of bank repossession orders and this will exacerbate the situation, as people lose their homes.

Fr Peter studied philosophy and theology in Milltown Park, as a young priest he witnessed at first hand the homelessness and poverty in Summerhill in Dublin. He established the Peter McVerry Trust in 1983 to tackle homelessness, drug misuse and social disadvantage. The Trust’s vision is of an Ireland that supports all those on the margins and upholds peoples’ right to inclusion in society. (www.pmvtrust.ie)

During 2013, some 3,586 individuals were supported by the Peter McVerry Trust.

Fr. Peter McVerry at Áras an Uachtarán with President Higgins

Fr. Peter McVerry at Áras an Uachtarán with President Higgins

He has warned of a “tsunami of homelessness washing over Ireland”, and he wants radical action taken to resolve it.  He believes political decisions need to be taken to solve this issue and describes the inability to do so as a failure of political will by those in charge.

The reduction in the construction of social housing, the eviction of people from their homes, the failure of landlords to take rent supplement are all contributing to the growing problem.

Addressing the recent Annual Human Rights Conference, Fr. McVerry commented as follows; “ Over the past 40 years, I have spent most of my weekends in the various Dublin prisons and a disproportionate percentage of people in prison were homeless prior to imprisonment and will be homeless again on release”.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is honoured that Fr. McVerry has agreed to address the summer school at Shandon.  All are welcome to attend.

Anne Scargill & Betty Cook sing The Women’s Song

A number of people have asked if any video footage was available of Anne Scargill and Betty Cook of Women Against Pit Closures singing their anthem from the Miners Strike era – “The Women’s Song”.  The song was written by Mal Finch.  Our thanks to Frameworks Films for the video.  By popular demand here it is – performed during their session at the Firkin Crane on July 31st.

 

 

Anne Scargill and Betty Cook, Women Against Pit Closures at the Firkin Crane with Yorkshire Mother Jones banner.

Anne Scargill and Betty Cook, Women Against Pit Closures at the Firkin Crane with Yorkshire Mother Jones banner.