Reflecting on the power of the Labor Movement

A Letter from Ireland

a Chara,

We seldom take a step back, listen, and reflect. Yes, we think of the immediate challenges and the work at hand, but we don’t take enough time to reflect.

Terry O’Sullivan, General President Emeritus of LiUNA was in Ireland this week. He met with Sinn Féin leaders, attended an event to remember Rita O’Hare, and delivered the Annual James Connolly lecture as part of the West Belfast Festival. It was a busy week.

(Before heading to Belfast, we shared stories about Rita. Many are unrepeatable without this newsletter earning an explicit language warning.)

I sat in on a meeting between Terry and Louise O’Reilly, a former Trade Union organizer and current Sinn Féin TD. It was more a conversation than a meeting. They took the time to think about the big issues; to look at the woods and not the trees.

There are shared problems facing Ireland and the US. A housing crisis is making cities unaffordable. In Terry’s case his hometown of San Francisco and for Louise, Dublin. n

Work was once the route out of poverty and into home ownership. Houses were homes and not investments. Working families now struggle to meet the costs of groceries, rent, and fuel. God forbid a car breaks down or a child takes sick.

Many of these costs are not driven by consumer-led inflation but by corporate greed. It is no longer about making a profit but maximizing profit at all costs. Workers, the drivers of wealth, have been relegated to a cost on the profit and loss account. Privatization of public services we were told would lead to greater efficiencies. The market would provide houses. We now have increased costs, homelessness, and poorer services. Our families, communities, cities, and nations suffer.

Terry spoke of the work his union LiUNA was doing to invest in and build affordable housing. Creating both jobs and homes.

We live in wealthy nations where work should pay, where home ownership should be within reach, and where no one should go hungry. n

It wasn’t always like this. Somewhere along the line, a wrong turn was taken. Listening to Terry and Louise it is clear that we can get back on track. The wealth of the nation will accrue when we have livable cities, opportunities and investment in all our futures. In Ireland, we have the opportunity to build a better Ireland, a new and united Ireland.. The labor movement is central to making that possible. n

We need to take the time to reflect, listen and plan. Here’s to taking the time to think the big thoughts and appreciate all those around us.

Have a great weekend.

Is mise,

Ciarán

Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.n