Here is Socialist Worker’s sample of a few of the rogues who rule Irish society. It could easily have been much larger. Just think of who we left out – Bertie Aherne, Seanie Fitzpatrick, Michael O’Leary, James Reilly and lots more!
Ruthless boss of Greyhound Recycling who locked his workers out for nearly three months last year after they refused to sign new contracts demanding 35% pay cuts. Buckley failed to break the striking workers resolve with scab labour, starvation and threats of jail after getting an injunction against the basic democratic right to protest and picket. Bin privatisation enabled Buckley to ‘win’ the lucrative contract in 2012 to collect Dublin City’s household refuse and immediately hiked bin charges by 16.5% and cancelled 40,000 waivers to the poorest households. He escaped conviction after being found guilty of emissions and odour pollution at his Clondalkin plant and was fined instead.
Tierney became chief of Irish Water in 2013 after six years as County Manager of Dublin City Council. While demanding people pay hundreds a year for water, he defended his €200,000 salary, huge bonuses for IW staff (29 of whom are on €100,000 plus) and splashed out €85 million on consultants. As DCC chief, he wasted a staggering €108 million on the Poolbeg Incinerator fiasco and invoked a veto to overturn a 52-2 vote by City councillors so he could flog the bin service to Buckley and Greyhound. He recently proposed that criminal prosecutions should be brought against anyone who obstructed the installation of water meters.
The Two Bankers: Boucher & Duffy
Richie Boucher is boss of €4.5 billion bailed-out Bank of Ireland whose outrageous salary of €843,000 is backed by the government. Arrogant and dismissive of Oireachtas Finance Committees, he said debt forgiveness for 11,700 families in arrears was “not the policy of the bank.” Chairman of AIB, David Duffy, claimed there was “no credible risk of losing your home.” AIB, the €21 billion bailed-out bank, and now 99% government-owned, has threatened to repossess 5,700 homes by the end of last year, with Duffy saying struggling families could pay their mortgage but have “decided not to.”
Enda Kenny: is this guy worth €3,500 a week?
The Taoiseach hides away from serious TV interviews, debates and intelligent discussion. Confronted with serious questions of any kind, he often dismisses them with bizarre and arrogant remarks. Asked how poor people were expected to pay €500 euro water bills, Enda’s insulting advice was “turn off your tap.” Launching a commission on low pay, he claimed he was “very much worth” his €3,500 a week salary. Lately Kenny has claimed to “have no dealings with Denis O Brien at all” yet has appeared alongside the tax-shy tycoon at several high-profile public gatherings when not groveling at the feet of his EU/IMF masters.
Heffernan is boss of Dunnes Stores, one of the largest retail chains in the country with annual profits of €300 million. She has a personal fortune of €389 million, enjoys a reputation as a union-buster and has been aggressive in opposing basic demands from her workers for job security, decent hours and earnings and the right to trade union representation. Following the recent one-day strike by 6,000 staff, Dunnes management bullied and intimidated workers who’d participated in the action. Employers like Heffernan are encouraged by government policies that fuel a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions.
Michael Noonan: Bondholder and Speculator
Noonan is Minister for Finance in the FG/Labour government. He’s also a speculator and bondholder who makes millions gambling on domestic and international stock markets. He holds shares in AIB and Bank of Ireland, makes huge profits betting on US banks and sold Euro shares to invest in gold. He recently purchased Portuguese government debt to become a bondholder. Noonan contemptuously remarked in 2012 that the only things linking Ireland with Greece are ‘holidays’ and ‘feta cheese’. He’s now playing an aggressive role in helping the EU/IMF bully the Syriza government into imposing €8 billion more in austerity cuts on an already poverty-stricken Greek people.
Social Protection Minister and Labour Party leader, Burton capped the rent allowance to low-income families in 2012 leading to rampant homelessness with over 500 families and 1,000 children now in emergency accommodation. She’s responsible for reducing the dole of young people by half and forcing them to work 39 hours a week for €1.50 an hour for exploitative bosses under the ‘JobBridge’ scheme. Joan is now savagely cutting lone parent payments to the poorest families in the country without providing the affordable childcare she promised. She has complained that working class people had access to ‘expensive’ mobile phones on protests and compared anti-water charges demonstrators who trapped her in a car for one hour to ‘fascists’. At a Party Conference in March, Burton declared Labour had “nothing to apologise for and much to be proud of.”
Last but by no means least:tax exile billionaire O’ Brien has seen his fortune jump massively to €6 billion , helped by receiving 500 million in debt write-downs from the likes of IBRC to buy Topaz, the Beacon and Siteserv on the cheap. His enormous wealth allows him to buy up large sections of the media which is often used to attack the Left, promote a pro-austerity agenda and demonise water protesters. High court injunctions were used to silence RTE and try to suppress a Dail speech on O’Brien’s banking details by Independent TD Catherine Murphy. From his plush residence in Haiti, Denis recently wrote an article complaining of the “levels of hatred” directed at him, attacked his opponents and said, “I will always be proud to be Irish, optimistic and a Republican with a small ‘r’.” It’s not unusual for rogues to pull on the green jersey to conceal their robbery of the people.
Beating the Rogues
These rogues are not just individuals but part of a class, the 1%, who together are very powerful and control Ireland’s wealth, political system and media. But they can be beaten because in the end, as the great poet Shelley said, “We are many, they are few!” The revolt over water charges has given a glimpse of how that can be done: mass action on the streets and in the communities. Add to that the power of workers in their workplaces and we would really have an unstoppable force.
Wikipedia says A rogues gallery (or rogues’ gallery) is a police collection of pictures or photographs of criminals and suspects kept for identification purposes. The term is also used figuratively for any group of shady characters or the line-up of “mugshot” photographs that might be displayed in the halls of a dormitory or workplace.