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A piece written for the WSM web site and quickly edited by our newsroom

Abortion: Anti-Choice Law Challenged in North of Ireland

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A Judicial Review into the North's abortion law has begun today and is expected to last three days. The final decision of the case taken by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is not expected until the Autumn. Women's right to bodily autonomy must be vindicated without delay.

Currently in the North you can have an abortion if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, including risk of suicide, and if you are under 9 weeks gestation.

Water Charges: 3 Reasons to March on June 20th

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The next water charges march happens in Dublin June 20th. Here are 3 reasons why you should do your best to be on it.

1. Both the government and Irish Water are refusing to release figures about the number of people who have not paid the bills. The reason is clearly that so far this figure is very high - if it wasn’t they would be sure to have it plastered all over every newspaper front page. A large turnout for this demonstration is important so that isolated non-payers do not get a sense that non-payment is not flagging.

2. Meter installation blockades have continued all around the country but for four weeks one well known Dublin protester Steven Bennett has been held on remand in Cloverhill prison because he refused to accept stringent bail conditions that would have prevented him protesting. The government abandoned attempts to intimidate protesters with the court injunction after the jailing of the Edenmore 4 backfired and resulted in mass protests. It’s essential that they continue to understand that repression will lead to protest and that they can’t pick off people they view as uncontrollables.

After the Referendum: How Equal Is Ireland?

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We might’ve voted for equality in large numbers when it came to the marriage referendum, but the likelihood that this will impact on the way the country is run or the lived realities for many appears unlikely. This week the Irish Government is once again having their knuckles wrapped by the UN in Geneva for failing to live up to the documents they sign around the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. The reality is that there has been the imposition of austerity measures on the sections of Irish society who can least afford it. The inevitable by-product is inequality, increasing poverty and deprivation. The message is simple, economy trumps all else and lip service is all that is all that is paid in terms of human rights or equality. Emily Logan – Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said as much, she said that ‘budgetary decisions had been made without any consideration of the State's human rights obligations.’ This is the reality that needs to be examined, especially in the aftermath of the sight of politicians kissing, smiling, hugging each other and slapping each other on the backs as champions of equality in Dublin Castle.

Abortion: Legal Challenge to Exclusion of N. Ireland Women from NHS

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The Court of Appeal has reserved judgement on a legal challenge to the exclusion of women from N. Ireland from NHS abortion services.

Last May Mr Justice King ruled in the High Court that the residence-based exclusion was lawful, despite the fact that people living in the North pay the same amount of taxes as everyone else in the UK and should therefore be entitled to the same services. The case was brought forward by a woman known as A in order to protect her identity and her mother.

Three years ago, A, like many other women from the island of Ireland, had to raise the nearly £900 to avail of an abortion in England.

Stormont Bans Paying for Sex Work

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Today in the North of Ireland it will become illegal for people to pay for sex work.

In spite of protests by sex workers and their allies Stormont has ignored their voices.

Despite 98% of sex workers who were surveyed by the Department of Justice last year coming out against the bill, 81 MLAs (out of 108) voted in favour of it. This represents a complete contempt towards sex workers as they struggle for labour rights.

The new law is extremely irresponsible and it will do nothing to protect sex workers; it will only drive them further underground and put them in more danger. Banning the purchase of sex isn't going to stop it happening and it would be foolish to think so.

Benetton Occupation: Corporation Still Hasn't Paid for Rana Plaza Collapse

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'Today 5 activists occupied United Colors of Benetton, St. Stephen's Green [Dublin] asking Benetton to honour their pledge of 5 million dollars to the victims of the Rana Plaza Collapse [deadliest garment factory incident in history] which claimed the lives of 1134 people and left over 2500 casualties.

Within 16 minutes of entering the shop 4 Gardaí arrived and asked the manager to tell us to leave.

The Gardaí then removed us one by one using unnecessary force. The result was the security saying we were now barred from the shopping centre.

Boycott Benetton!' - statement from one of those occupying the Benetton shop today.

This is yet another event which highlights the inhumane nature of our political system. A factory collapsed in Bangladesh due to appalling safety standards and carelessness, where there is huge pressure on unionised workers. Even after cracks appeared in the building and the building was deemed unsafe and evacuated, workers were ordered back the next day due to the drive to meet fast order deadlines and make profits.

National Union Of Journalists Concerned Over Denis O'Brien Silencing Media

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The National Union Of Journalists (NUJ) has expressed concern over Denis O'Brien silencing of media and the role his control over much of the  media plays in the lack of media opposition.

The NUJ are concerned that the media failure to defend Dáil privilege may shatter public trust. Then more cynical amongst us might think that would be a good thing, for too long media outlets in Ireland have been spoon feeding the population with one side of the news in the service of those with wealth and power. O'Brien is at least doing us the 'favour' of making the control those with power over what can and cannot be reported very obvious.

NUJ Irish secretary Séamus Dooley has warned that faith in the media would be shattered if proprietors and editors did not challenge threats to parliamentary democracy and freedom of expression.

Media Baron Denis O'Brien Silences Nation

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The last 24 hours have demonstrated the truth of 'If you want to know who really rules you find out who you are not allowed to criticise'. As the image shows billionaire media mogul Denis O'Brien has managed to almost completely suppress stories about him in the few outlets he does not control.

Those media outlets he has ownership of seem to have somehow missed TD Catherine Murphy's revelation that somehow O'Brien had managed to only pay 1.25% interest on the 500 million he owed to IBRC (in effect to us) rather than the expected market rate of around 7.5%. The difference costs us about 30 million a year.

This isn't the first story of O'Brien getting a good deal from the IBRC. Almost a year ago the Irish Times reported "in a deal that again involved the writing down of bank debt. O’Brien took a controlling interest after he bought about €304 million of the Topaz Energy Group’s] loans from the State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), in liquidation,for a reported €150 million."
 

Kildare Palestine Solidarity Action in Tesco - Boycott Israeli Goods

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Yesterday, members of the Kildare Palestine Solidarity Campaign carried out a boycott Israeli goods action in Tescos in Newbridge. This fairly straightforward action consists of a group entering the store with a trolley or two and filling them up with all the Israeli goods that they can find and then bringing these to the customer service desk and making a formal complaint to management.

Included in the haul were Israeli produced grapefruit, cosmetic products and baby potatoes which Tescos were asked by activists to cease purchasing and stocking due to the ongoing state of illegal occupation and apartheid in Palestine. This action follows on from the previous one in the same store that took place on Thursday 2nd April 2015.

Dunnes Stores Closes Store rather than Door in Gorey Co. Wexford

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Last Thursday the local branch of Dunnes stores in Gorey Co. Wexford, closed due to an injunction which was brought upon the store by banning the managing agent for the receiver of Gorey shopping center. The injunction was to close the door which leads directly to the car-park. The effect of the door was that customers bypassed the smaller shops in the shopping mall. Dunnes Stores never asked the management for permission to construct the door; it was a clear breach of the lease.
 

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