The union is dead, long live the union.

The sad reality surrounding the General Secretary election is that neither party is offering anything new.

Setting aside the ironic project fear red herring of sectarianism which, up until it was exposed as such, formed the back bone of Padraig / Patrick’s campaign, let’s look at the facts.

Padraig / Patrick and the bulk of the current General Council have had three years to deliver anything, yes anything, that constitutes an actual fight against the cuts. What have they done? Nothing, that’s what they appear to have done.  We hear daily this mantra about some strategy that Padraig / Patrick has yet, like Padraig / Patrick’s supposed ability to operate at the highest levels of negotiation, we have seen no evidence of it.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the apparent inaction of the predominantly Broad Left / Socialist Party controlled General Council during Padraig / Patrick’s term as President was an intentional ploy in order to turn this General Secretary election into a battle of personalities whereby blame for their inaction was, and is, apportioned to others / the status quo.

Deflection is the name of the game. Deflect from the fact that nothing beyond traditional tried and tested protesting and some lobbying has been done in real terms to fight the cuts in the public sector over the last three years. Nothing.

No meaningful measurable consultation has taken place with the membership and we have a situation where a political party and its foot soldiers are running the campaign for Padraig / Patrick. Their reward? In the event that Padraig / Patrick wins their reward will be the NIPSA union and it’s mandate to use as they see fit to further their own political agenda / ideals. There is, of course, nothing wrong with socialism or holding socialist views but the issue here is the covert acquisition of a union based not least on the instruction of the Socialist Party but also on election manifesto promises and rhetoric which the maker of same refuses to debate in public (Facebook / Twitter)  and which are not available for anyone to view or consider.

If anything Alison Millar offers more of the same, whether good or bad, as far as the current status quo is concerned. But she does so without the political instruction / interference of an outside political party, with no political affiliation or influence having a bearing on her choices and decisions and, of course, a far greater degree of experience than that of Padraig / Patrick.

Again she offers nothing in the way of a visible / debatable strategy to fight the cuts but there is one very important difference. If Alison Millar wins this election the union will still belong to the members and not a political party. Of course she will be attacked, frustrated and stymied at every turn by the current General Council in an attempt by them to portray anyone not subscribing to their political ideology as being inept and incapable of leading a union. But it is within the grasp of the ordinary membership to address that at the next General Council elections now that they are aware of how we have arrived at the position that we are now in, fighting not only for the political independence but also the very survival of NIPSA as an independent fighting union fighting for it’s members and not for the political interests of an outside political party which currently manages to hold so much sway.

Whatever the outcome NIPSA as we know it is over. Whoever is the victor in this General Secretary election will have very serious challenges facing them in trying to keep the union together, truly democratic and effective. That’s assuming they still have a “union” to save.


EDIT: 10:00am 01-November-2015.

Some may justifiably take issue with some of the content of his post, but even Padraig / Patrick agrees that NIPSA will never be the same again.

"NIPSA will never be the same".
“NIPSA will never be the same again”.

Stand up to bullying employers.

NIPSA staff forced to strike because of the undemocratic, bureaucratic, dictatorial behaviours of their employer.

In a move that will come as a shock to no one NIPSA staff will be taking industrial action against their employers tomorrow, Friday October 30th.

“Unite representative Kevin Kelly said it was a long-standing dispute and he accused Nipsa’s governing general council of a “failure to practice a standard of industrial relations that they would expect of their officials”. BBC site.

That’s the same Broad Left General Council who are supposed to be fighting for the democratic rights of employees. The same General Council who are asking people to vote for their fellow traveller in the current General Secretary elections to “build a stronger, democratic fighting union”.

It’d be funny were it not so tragic and serious.


It all seems very quiet…. far as the Alison Millar camp is concerned.

There hasn’t been much in the way of new campaign materials or sloganeering on their part in the past few weeks.

Of course there is also the fact that she doesn’t have the full weight and support of a political party driving her campaign in the way that Padraig / Patrick has.

What’s with this “we” and “our movement”?

The Socialist Party website has published an interview with Padraig / Patrick which gives perhaps the clearest indication yet of his / their intent with regard to their objective of ownership and control of NIPSA as a means to further their specific political agenda.

The interview can be read here.

Of particular interest is the phrasing of the following questions:


2015-10-16_19-53-11A very telling use of language.

The NIPSA union is not a plaything to be used to further the political ambitions of individuals or a certain political ideology. That message needs to be sent clearly and emphatically to those who think it is or that it ought to be.

How much is this costing the membership?

Many if not most NIPSA members will be unaware that earlier this year the (predominantly Broad Left) General Council and the then President (Padraig / Patrick Mulholland) decided, contrary to legal advice received from the NIPSA solicitors McCartan Turkington Breen, to expel & revoke the membership of two members.

Despite various questionable reasons having been put forward for the expulsions there are grounds to believe the reasons behind the expulsions were politically motivated. Both of the expelled members apparently hold political views which differ from those of the Socialist Party, the political party behind the planned takeover of NIPSA. They were identified as representing a threat to the planned takeover and were dealt with as such with the General Council and President using an allegation of a flawed membership admission process as the reason for their expulsion.

Apparently the two individuals have taken legal steps to have the decision on their memberships reversed. The General Council have sought further legal advice (using members subscription money) to try to bolster their position. Unfortunately for them the second set of legal advice is rumoured to confirm what the original legal advice stated.

This raises very serious issues and questions.

Why will the General Council not reply to letters from branches asking for a breakdown of the costs incurred so far?

Is this the future of NIPSA where if you disagree or show dissent or are perceived to think contrary to a certain political mindset you are expelled?

Where does this tie in with the supposed open, accountable “democratic union” we are being told we are to be afforded?

Will either Padraig / Patrick Mulholland or Alison Millar be up front and honest with the members and tell them what the legal advice was (both sets) and how much of the memberships monthly subscriptions have already been spent on what appears to be a futile exercise in political sectarianism and political bureaucracy and how much the solicitors anticipate the potential costs and reputational damage to be in the event that NIPSA is taken to task and loses?

Since Padraig / Patrick is making such a big issue out of financial accountability to members on what he might spend his additional salary on in the event that he wins the General Secretary election we can only but wonder why he and the General Council are so tight lipped on how they are spending our money in relation to this issue.

As for the sets of legal advice received, we’ve paid for them so we’d like to see them.

Let’s think about this.

Why are NIPSA, notably the Padraig / Patrick element, calling for protests today over the additional work that members will have to undertake when colleagues leave under the Voluntary Exit Scheme?

Cynical electioneering?

I mean what in real terms are they doing or have they done to address the problems facing the members now tasked with increased workloads? 

Nothing. That appears to be what.

Did you look at my bird?

It seems chivalry isn’t dead.

It seems Carmel got herself in a bit of a bind yesterday over the Nolan phone in when Jeff Peel outed her as “an active member of the Trotskyist Socialist party of Ireland” and questioned how she could be considered to be meeting her obligations of impartiality as required by her employer the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Padraig / Patrick Mulholland who is Carmel’s partner and, coincidentally, also a member of the Socialist Party, took offence at this and took to Twitter to challenge Mr Peel to a public debate.

A public debate on what? On the fact that both Padraig / Patrick and Carmel are members of the Socialist party and, as such, the main levers for that party to gain control of the NIPSA union? Probably not.

By the way, why is Padraig / Patrick appearing on Nolan and other mediums as a spokesperson for NIPSA? His term of office as President has ended and he is an ordinary member.

He has no mandate or right to be speaking or purporting to speak on behalf of the NIPSA membership so why is he being allowed to do so?

Oh, that’s right. Electioneering, facilitated by his partner Carmel, the current NIPSA President, and the Broad Left caucus / Socialist Party controlled General Council.

That explains a lot.

Beware of litterbugs.

As the election for NIPSA General Secretary approaches people will soon be inundated with various pieces of election campaign paraphernalia. Many people will also be receiving their voting papers to their place of work.

Members who decide not to vote are encouraged to be responsible when it comes to the disposal / recycling of their ballot papers. Do your bit for democracy and the environment and take steps to ensure that your unused ballot paper is properly prepared for disposal and recycling. Instead of leaving your ballot paper lying about your desk or office be a responsible citizen / democrat and take the time to tear up any ballot that you do not intend using rather than just tossing it in the bin.

This will not only help the environment but also the democratic process.

The real agenda.

Padraig / Patrick Mulholland is one of two candidates seeking election to the position of NIPSA General Secretary. Padraig / Patrick is a committed socialist and proud member of the Socialist Party, a fact he openly admits and a political ideology he openly champions. These are, quite rightly, decisions for him to make as an individual. There is, however, an objective of his particular brand of politics which he does not talk openly about. That objective is to take over the union to further the political agenda of the Socialist Party, and the Socialist Party only.

We know this how? Well, we know it because the Socialist Party tells us that this is their objective.

The following are extracts from the Socialist Party congress of 2006.

“Trade union activity, however, does not begin and end merely in the official structures. We have to combine it with work from below, as we have done in the defence of our comrade against the dictatorship of the bosses in the bus industry. The points of production – the fortresses of the revolution described by Lenin – are where the real, crucial battles will unfold. The rebuilding of the shop stewards and workplace representatives movement must be seen as a central task for our party. This involves re-pioneering work to forge a militant backbone which will come from the new generation of young workers who will move into action in the next period. We must do everything to facilitate the entry of this new generation. The work in the PCS, in creating a youth structure, of developing workplace representatives, is vital not just for the union but for the general struggles of the working class which will develop.

To facilitate this work, properly organised and disciplined caucuses in the different unions must meet on a regular basis. Their task is to formulate written programmes and pamphlets for their own union and industry. The national trade union school has increased in importance in the past years. There, battle-hardened veterans discuss with and help the new layer of comrades who have entered our party and are inexperienced in trade union work but are eager to learn and participate in this crucial field.

The attendance at the national conferences of the trade unions is still extremely important. Many of these conferences – although not all – are composed of the same people who have attended for years if not decades. The more bureaucratic conferences of bureaucratic unions can, moreover, be a very rough, weak barometer of the real moods developing from below. They are nevertheless important in gauging the mood of more developed workers, in seeking to get our point of view accepted and thereby carried to a broad layer of trade unionists. They are also an important source of influence and potential recruits to the left in general in the unions and to our party. This work up to now has been conducted by a relatively small, heroic ‘band of brothers and sisters’. We must widen the participation of comrades covering the trade union conferences, through the involvement of a new layer, as with the recent USDAW youth conference.

We have to also recognise that the culture of trade unionism has been completely lost, is not immediately present, in the consciousness of big layers of young people. This is a consequence of the attack on collectivism, on socialism, in the neo-liberal crusade of the last era. Events will heighten the collision between the classes and will help to change this. But we can play a role now in facilitating this process with a conscious policy of seeking out and educating the best young workers. We must go into the schools, colleges and universities on trade union issues as well, as preparation for future battles. This must start with the new generation who come into our party. They must be saturated in the spirit, the history and the current situation within the unions. If we carry this out successfully we will create a new generation who can speak to, learn from and convince older workers on the programme, tactics, etc, of our party. Even very young comrades can have a decisive effect on older workers so long as they are sufficiently educated and know how to speak to and above all listen to workers.

The twin pillars upon which our party will be built are amongst the young and in the workplaces and offices, as well as trade unionists. Up to now, we have quite correctly concentrated our efforts in the schools, colleges and universities to win young people to our programme and socialism. This must be continued and stepped up. At the same time we have systematically tried to develop our influence within the trade unions and the workplaces. Only occasionally, however, do both fields coincide, with new young recruits participating on picket lines in strikes, selling at trade union meetings, etc. However, as we grow and recruit a new generation, we must have a systematic and concentrated approach, where this is possible, in directing new young comrades to important workplaces and unions. On the foundations that we create now, in the next year or so, can be built a powerful party as a vital lever for the working class as it moves into action.

The trade unions in Britain have a long history going back even before the French Revolution. They have been the main factor in lifting the working class out of cultural and economic backwardness. To continue this role today, however, they must be renovated and renewed by a new fighting socialist leadership, thereby becoming an agency for change and the creation of a new society. In that new society, out of the ranks of the trade unions, as Trotsky pointed out, can come the personnel and the administration for a democratic, workers’ state, particularly in the organisation of the factories and the workplaces. But in union work, to paraphrase Marx, there is no ‘royal road’ to effective work and gaining influence. It requires systematic and often very unglamorous activity. It is nevertheless vital for the future.”

You are encouraged to read the full article here or alternatively here*/ should there be any difficulties in accessing it through the first link.

You can download the entire document from here and skip to the “Revolt of the low paid” section.

So, there you have it. The Socialist Party has instructed it’s members to form caucuses within unions and to use these caucuses to steer and ultimately take over the union to further the ideals and power base of the Socialist Party. Sound familiar?

Political sectarianism in the form of a one party controlled union to further the Socialist Party agenda, that is the real agenda.