The global Refugee Crisis, responding to Climate Change, and eyewitness accounts from Palestine were among the key issues to feature and be debated in Letterkenny on September 2-3, as delegates gathered for the Eight Annual Global Solidarity Summer School, organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

For more visit ICTU Global Solidarity.

Channel 4 News recently ‘revealed’ that HMRC had so far paid Mapeley £2.7 billion for rent and maintenance of its properties, but that the company has yet to pay any Corporation Tax in the UK, because it has not yet declared a profit.

Corporation Tax is an important issue to Northern Ireland, because it is part of the UK Government’s General Revenue, which it sets against its Expenditure. When this is not in perfect equilibrium, the Government calls this situation a “Deficit”. The “deficit” to George Osborne, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, is a thing of terror. But it is a terror he doesn’t understand. And so he has committed to reducing it by means of further public expenditure cuts, so severe, that even the OECD has cautioned that he is in danger of running the productive economy into the ground. For Northern Ireland this will have a negative impact on the future allocation of the Block Grant to the Assembly under the Barnett Formula, which crudely balances out public expenditure allocation across the UK.

Motion 67, which was passed at this year’s NIPSA Annual Conference, called “on the incoming General Council to support the refugees in their plight through lobbying, highlighting and raising awareness through the Global Solidarity Committee.” In the debate, we noted the failure of the media to properly define and differentiate between people falling within the various legal categories and statuses, who seek to enter the country. People, regardless of circumstances, are too often simply referred to, generically - as “migrants”. Caught up in this definition, are ‘asylum seekers’, refugees’, ‘economic migrants’ and European citizens openly availing of the free movement of people, goods and services, guaranteed by the EU. Despite the negative public perceptions generated by certain right-wing newspapers and the assertion that “these people are a drain on the economy”, the reality of the latter group is outlined in a report titled “Challenging Racism: Ending Hate”, by Dr. Richard Montague and Prof. Peter Shirlow. In this they point out that “recent European immigrants in the UK have paid £8.8 billion more in tax than they have consumed in public services.”

by Joby Fox, Refugee Rescue Team

Some four months ago I went to Lesbos in reaction to the crisis that had been unfolding there. Many of you will have seen the distressing images of people in the water pleading for their lives and also of the young three year old boy found dead on the beach.

For those who may still be unsure of what TTIP is, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the largest trade deal in history. It is being negotiated in secret between the EU and the USA and its main aim is to remove what are perceived to be the last remaining ‘barriers’ to a free trade zone encompassing the EU and the USA. These ‘barriers’ are in fact hard won public policy legislation, environmental protection and employment rights. Under TTIP large corporations will have the right to sue governments if they believe that laws and regulations in either jurisdiction could potentially harm their profits. Corporations will also be given privileged early access to proposed public policy legislation potentially leading to what some have described as a ‘chilling effect’, in other words governments will be reluctant to put forward legislation that large corporations are likely to be hostile to. TTIP’s emphasis on ‘regulatory cooperation’ is designed to reduce the cost to businesses that operate in both the EU and the USA by allowing them to take advantage of large economies of scale, this can only happen if European and American regulations are equivalent. In reality this will mean a race to the bottom for everybody covered by the treaty.