IRISH TEACHERS CALL TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL – and will fight property tax

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Teachers Union of Ireland delegation on the Dublin demonstration on February 9th
Teachers Union of Ireland delegation on the Dublin demonstration on February 9th

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) last Thursday agreed to oppose and campaign against the incoming property tax.

On the final day of their annual conference, TUI delegates overwhelmingly agreed to oppose the contentious property tax.

In recent weeks, homeowners across the country have received correspondence from revenue instructing them to pay property tax rates in accordance to the value of their property.

Addressing the conference in Galway, Kenneth Sloane of Dundalk IT said the tax was part of an austerity policy which has failed the country.

Sloane said teachers had ‘paid considerable amounts of stamp duty’ on homes including many bought at the peak of the construction boom.

He described the property tax as ‘another attack’ on trade union members such as the TUI.

The TUI represents over 14,000 second level teachers and third level lecturers.

The motion carried at the congress ‘condemned the sustained attack on workers’ take home pay, the loading of extra taxes and the cuts to benefits.’

The union will now campaign against the property tax.

The TUI became the first academic union in Europe to endorse the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel.

The annual conference motion, which refers to Israel as an ‘apartheid state’, and calls for ‘all members to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes’, was passed by a unanimous vote during last Wednesday’s morning session.

The motion further calls on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to ‘step up its campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the apartheid state of Israel until it lifts its illegal siege of Gaza and its illegal occupation of the West Bank, and agrees to abide by International Law and all UN Resolutions against it’. It also calls on the TUI to conduct an awareness campaign amongst members on the need for BDS.

The motion was a composite proposed by the TUI Executive Committee and TUI Dublin Colleges Branch.

It was presented by Jim Roche, a lecturer in the DIT School of Architecture and member of the TUI Dublin Colleges Union branch, and seconded by Gerry Quinn, Vice President of the TUI.

Speaking after the successful passage of the motion, Jim Roche said: ‘I am very pleased that this motion was passed with such support by TUI members, especially coming the day after Israeli occupation forces shot and killed two Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank.

‘BDS is a noble non-violent method of resisting Israeli militarism, occupation and apartheid, and there is no question that Israel is implementing apartheid policies against the Palestinians.

‘Indeed, many veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa have said that it’s worse than what was experienced there.’

Roche pointed to the desperate situation of Palestinian education under occupation saying that: ‘Palestinians are struggling for the right to education under extremely difficult conditions.

‘They are eager for it, as shown by the large numbers of students in third level education inside and outside the occupied Palestinian territories.

‘Education has always been a target of the Israeli occupation, seeing forced closures of universities, disruption under checkpoint, closure and curfew regimes, and arrests, beatings and killing of both students and teachers.

‘Sometimes, such as during the 2008-09 attack on Gaza, educational institutions have been militarily attacked.

‘In fact I have just returned from a solidarity visit to Gaza where I had the opportunity to hear first-hand from Palestinian educators and students about their difficulties.

‘The unanimous passage of this motion that shows that the Palestinian struggle for freedom, of which academic freedom is a key part, resonates with TUI members and sends a strong message of solidarity to their counterparts in Palestine.’

Roche concluded: ‘We proposed this motion as we believe that, as with South Africa, the trade union movement has a vital role to play in helping apply pressure to end Israeli apartheid and occupation.

‘I am proud that the TUI has taken a clear stand, and now support a full academic boycott of Israel in line with the Palestinian call for BDS.’

Dr David Landy, a member of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and founder member of Academics for Palestine, welcomed the motion saying: ‘This is an historic precedent, being the first such motion in Europe to explicitly call for an academic boycott of Israel.

‘We congratulate the TUI and call on all Irish, British and European academic unions to move similar motions.

‘Undoubtedly, apologists for Israeli apartheid will complain that such motions stifle academic freedom, but this is nonsense.

‘The Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel is an institutional boycott, not a boycott of individuals.

‘Ironically, those that will jump to complain about this motion will have no words of condemnation for the de facto boycott imposed on Palestinian education by Israel, nor for its continuing attacks on Palestinian education, students and educators.’

• Dozens of Irish addresses have been linked to accounts held in offshore secrecy jurisdictions, allowing their holders to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

A worldwide investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has found between 50 and 60 addresses in Ireland in documents, which include the identities of thousands of wealthy account holders who hold their wealth in offshore tax havens.

None of the names linked to Irish addresses have yet been released by the ICIJ or the Guardian newspaper and other media organisations which co-operated in the extensive search of offshore holdings.

It is estimated globally that wealthy individuals have 16 to 25 trillion euros hidden in offshore tax havens.

SIPTU Economist, Marie Sherlock, said: ‘That such vast sums of money have been removed from the global tax net means funding is being withheld for services and investment aimed at ensuring a better standard of living for the majority of people.’

All the Irish addresses may not be directly linked to individuals or businesses who own the secret funds and could be registered to financial intermediaries, including directors, shareholders, secretaries and nominees holding addresses within the State.

Complex offshore structures have been used to own mansions, yachts and other assets while giving account holders the benefits of anonymity and tax advantages.

Marie Sherlock added: ‘That Ireland has been linked to this global network does not assist the State in ensuring it is not marked with the tag of being a tax haven.

‘There is also the concern that, in a time of recession, the wealthy may be slipping into the practices of the past.

‘During the 1980s, vast amounts of private wealth was illegally held offshore by swathes of the Irish elite, a situation which deepened the impact of economic recession for the Irish people. These issues should be of concern to the government and require a swift response.’

An early release of some of the findings of the investigation by the Guardian last November traced British Virgin Island entities used in Russia by bankrupt property developer, Sean Quinn.

The former billionaire is linked to a number of properties in Russia and Ukraine.

The International Bank Resolution Company is currently seeking to recover as much as $500 million (385 euros) million in assets from Quinn’s investments in both countries.

The documents analysed in the investigation were passed to ICIJ director, Gerard Ryle, on a hard drive containing more than 260 gigabytes of data with over two million emails.

The ICIJ, along with dozens of journalists from a network of international media outlets including the Guardian, BBC and the Washington Post, worked on analysing the files for 15 months.