Is Galway’s Extinction Rebellion extinct?

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, climate change and the environment becomes less of an issue for the public and politicians

Members of Extinction Rebellion Galway at the 'die-in' protest which took place on Saturday July 27 2019 at Eyre Square.

Members of Extinction Rebellion Galway at the 'die-in' protest which took place on Saturday July 27 2019 at Eyre Square.

Is Galway’s Extinction Rebellion extinct? Has it fallen victim to Covid-19 or is its silence political due to the Greens going into Government?

Insider recalls the Greens had the ER franchise in Galway and Pauline O’Reilly – now a Green Senator – was the leading Extinction 'rebel'. However, in June she donned her green-tinted glasses and told The Irish Times: “On every page of the [Programme for Government, PfG] document you will see that it’s green”. In contrast, ER Ireland described the programme as "full of fluff" and "not good enough" to address the climate crisis. As when the party entered government in 2007, the Greens are abandoning political positions held previously.

Meanwhile, the Greens’ leader, Eamon Ryan, is ducking one of his responsibilities as Environment Minister: granting permits for US military flights en route to war via Shannon. Galway’s super junior minister, Hildegarde Naughton, now has that bloodied chalice.

Regarding the US military at Shannon, the PfG heroically noted: “The State retains its right to undertake spot checks…”. The State may retain that right, but no checks will take place and requests for checks regularly made by Shannonwatch to the gardaí will be studiously ignored. By permitting US military flights we are not only colluding in mass murder from Afghanistan to Yemen, but also willingly contributing to climate change.

Ignoring the link with militarism

One of the critical problems with the environmental movement is that it ignores the link between climate change and militarism. The International Peace Bureau stated in its 2019 study, War and militarism, and their associated ‘carbon boot-prints’, are severely accelerating climate change. It is not only the US army that has a severe impact on climate change, Europe’s military is also running its bases and its various operations and contributing to the rise in carbon emissions.”

It is also worth noting EU military spending figures which went from €65 million (2004 - 2006 ) to €6,585 million (2014 - 2020 ), and is projected to rise to €43,995 Million in the 2021 - 2027 period.

In 2018, more than $1.8 trillion was squandered on weaponry. Nevertheless, military emissions are disregarded in UN climate treaties. They were excluded from the Kyoto Treaty and countries were able to exempt their military emissions from the Paris agreement.

In December 2017, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail rushed a Bill through the Dáil signing us up to PESCO (Permanent European Security/Military Cooperation ). Our military spending could rocket from €960 million to as much as €6 billion yearly, so as to integrate our army with 24 EU states’ armies.

Paying the price of PESCO membership

Pilatus PC-12NG

The Green Party opposed PESCO when in Opposition. The Greens should have insisted on Ireland simply withdrawing from PESCO. It would have been a strong peace message to the EU and the world. Instead, the coalition is meekly “opting out” of certain aspects of PESCO.

Last weekend the People’s Movement’s blog linked PESCO to the government spending €40 million on four Pilatus PC-12NG ‘Spectre’ aircraft to be used for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR ) roles. The fit-out was carried out in Colorado, most likely to NATO standards, and cost in excess of €20 million – more than the aircraft themselves.

Could this €40 million not have been better spent? To help tackle hospital overcrowding or creating homes for some of the 1,142 homeless families? As the People’s Movement noted: “This is part of the price we pay for membership of PESCO and Mr Varadkar’s commitment to increase military spending, when he was Taoiseach and Minister for Defence.”

Russia - the enemy?

Vladimir PutinHowever, the Western media will have us believe this is the price we have to pay to protect us from Vladimir Putin. In truth, Chancellor Merkel has persecuted Ireland, not President Putin. It is she, with Obama’s backing, who insisted the Irish people pay the gambling losses of the German and French banks. A debt that crushed our country. No-one mentions that she has ruled the EU non-stop for the past 15 years.

'Greed is the driving force of capitalism/imperialism and is the determining threat to the planet'

It is the Russian people who should feel threatened. Thirty years ago the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev cleared the way for German reunification with the Two Plus Four Treaty. It had specific conditions: no NATO troops would be stationed in countries to the east of Germany and NATO would not extend eastwards. The West promised it, and broke it: today, German soldiers are again on the Russian border.

Western propaganda presents Putin as the archetypal bogeyman to justify the increase in military spending to bankroll the Military Industrial Complex. It was not Putin, nor his proxies, who invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, or Somalia; nor imposed war-like sanctions across the globe. He reclaimed the Crimea. Historically it was part of Russia and was only transferred to the Ukraine in 1954. Besides, the Crimean population wanted to be part of Russia rather than the Ukrainian basket case.

If we really want to focus on the maltreatment of opposition figures, then why does the media shamefully ignore the persecution of journalist Julian Assange? His “law-breaking” consists of exposing US war crimes. That is investigative journalism, not espionage, as the Trump administration claims in its bid to extradite him to the USA, where he would spend the rest of his life in gaol.

Ignoring atrocities

When it comes to militarism and war we are supposed to ignore the atrocities, the forced migration of peoples, the impact on the climate, the real reasons behind it all: greed and power. The weapon manufacturers make massive profits, as do large Western corporations plundering the natural resources of countries invaded.

As a direct result of NATO’s war on Libya, neighbouring Mali is convulsed in conflict. This is an impoverished nation rich in resources. Our defence forces are now involved in two supposedly benign UN and EU military missions there. Meanwhile, the West is filling its coffers in the region.

Greed is the driving force of capitalism/imperialism and is the determining threat to the planet: from Volkswagen manipulating the emissions of its diesel motors to governments waging war. Marx in Capital, his definitive study of capitalism, used the word profit to describe greed. In Vol 1 of Capital he includes the following quotation that sums up the task we face in saving the planet:

“With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cant certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent, positive audacity; 100 per cent will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent, and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged.”

One hundred and fifty years later, capital, in its lust for profit, is more likely to be incinerated and we, alas, will be incinerated too.


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