Renewal of Irelands Co-Operative Movement
Ireland’s economic revival will start with the people’s direct involvement in Ireland’s new economy. The peoples actively empowered participation in the economy at every level is imperative to a healthy, prosperous nation. The best way to achieve this is by harnessing the direct energy and resources of our people through mutual co-operation for their mutual benefit. This worked effectively before and can work again in the future even more effectively and in many more ways than before.
Today’s oppressive economic model in Ireland is one where the people have been reduced to the level of voiceless economic slaves and where even the self serving Trade Unions have abandoned them.
SME Government Destruction
The Covid upheavals and lockdowns have been used by the government on behalf of their globalist corporate feudal masters to undermine and oppressively destroy native small to medium sized businesses. Native small businesses were shut down while the large corporations were allowed to flourish without competition. The government have been playing this game or policy of burdening small businesses with ridiculous and punitive bureaucracy and intrusive time wasting paperwork for some considerable time.
The same ploys have virtually destroyed the farming community and enslaved it with the same punitive harassment to the point that young people are getting out of farming in droves. The destruction of farming and small business is the destruction of rural Ireland, the very heart of Ireland. That of course is naked government policy. If you are in a rural community and you vote at election time regardless of the party you vote for you are still like a turkey voting for Christmas. This will never change under the present centralised form of government. We need a complete overhaul that decentralises political and economic power back to the people.
The bottom line at present for companies and especially corporations is stock or share value and profit at all costs. That makes them nothing more than profit driven paper psychopaths that leads to the abuse of both the people and the environment.
Companies and corporations are having a free for all in this respect and that has led to terrible human cost and the destruction of what was Ireland’s pristine environment and rural communities. The present corporate model is no longer sustainable and can no longer remain hidden behind the excuses of useless and destructive ‘Green Policy’ sticking plaster solutions. The medium to long term government plan is to become part of a corporate global structure that will completely wipe out not just local or rural needs but national needs and indeed the nation itself. If you study Agenda 21 and Agenda 30 you can see that for yourself.
For true sustainability that puts people and the environment first, the legal and lawful corporate structure of all business entities must place people and the environment before profits every time. The present legal of incorporation of business structures of ‘profit first’ before all other considerations is no longer sustainable. Slogans such as ‘people before profit’ are meaningless rhetoric constantly shouted at us by people with a globalist agenda is nothing more than counterproductive misdirection. Without a completely new set of practical supporting structures free from divisive or globalist ideologies Ireland is like a rudderless ship heading for the rocks.
A People Centred Economy
A people centred economy rather than a corporate structure directed economy is the only sustainable future for Ireland as an independent people. People centred and people’s direct involvement in the new economy must be paramount to its implementation. The people must be actively empowered and encouraged participants in the economy at every level instead of today’s model where the people are voiceless economic slaves. Even the Trade Unions have abandoned them. This will require a complete restructuring of the legal and lawful framework for business structures such as co-ops and companies. What I am suggesting has been happening in reverse over the last 50 years or more where Co-Op’s are now supposed to be part of the present corporate legal structure which is an anathema to the very ethos of a Co-Op. A recent case in point of this was the incorporation of the Credit Unions and bringing them under the Central Bank control and regulations. They were thriving and healthy Co-Ops before the government interfered and changed both their ethos and their structure. All is not lost because the creation of a people centred economy can change all this. While there are many barriers in the way it can and must be done and we have excellent models of success in this area that we can emulate to recreate a people centred economy.
History with a Positive Lesson
In August 1895 Sir Horace Plunkett went about setting up the Irish Co-Operative Movement. By 1920 some 1,115 Co-Op’s were operating in Ireland and Co-Op membership had reached 150,000. During the same period turnover increased to £14.6 million, nearly £700 million today. That is a successful model that can be dusted off and emulated again.
The time is now not only ripe for a revival of the Co-Operative Movement and indeed the development of a whole series or network of Co-Operative Movements and a greatly expanded version which is an absolutely essential element for the very survival of rural Ireland.
Co-Ops for Today
Craft industries of every kind as well as Irish Whiskey Distilleries, Craft Breweries, craft industries, retail outlets, co-op energy production (already started) and Co-Op Community Banks to mention a few examples could reinvigorate neglected and dying rural communities with the success of such localized initiatives.
Our own Co-Op model for achieving this has already been tried, tested and proven successful. All it needs is dusting off, legislative freeing up, education courses, expanding, modifying and being brought up to date. A new and vibrant rural economy and a great number of wealth creating job opportunities would and must be the outcome. The pressure would be taken off the cities.
The updated Co-Op model could revolutionize the future of Ireland in so many positive ways. What it needs to achieve this are the people, the direction, the vision, the structures, the goodwill, the incentive and the groundwork to make it happen.
There are limitless employment and wealth creating opportunities to be harnessed for the good of the people and the nation once we break out of the present repressive model of red tape, corporate protectionism, corporate banking, the total absence of vision and political complacency and corruption.
Despite the present focus on corporate structures as the only way to run a business, Co-Op’s are more vibrant today than ever before. If you examine every aspect of a business structure from a people point of view Co-Ops are the most successful people centred living structures. Co-operatives are proving to be one of the most successful and sustainable business models for most if not all new enterprise start-ups. Today Co-operatives quietly provide over 100 million jobs worldwide. That is 20% more than multinational enterprises provide without all the rhetoric and corporate publicity.
The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) is an excellent support organisation that provides all of the foundational requirements from the conceptualisation and creation all the way to the structural development of commercially viable co-operative, focused on proven successful models of economic drivers working through Co-Op principles.
The ICOS organisation is the driving force fronting co-operative development in Ireland today. They are the leading organisation for registering new co-operatives in Ireland. While that is not the most ideal form of creating a legal entity, it is by far the best one available under present legislation at the moment. It is also the most cost effective way of setting up a Co-Op.
The ICOS also:
- Provides a business plan template
- Provides excellent advice and ongoing guidance on Co-Op start-ups
- Promotes the Co-Op model as a strong and sustainable business model
- Lobbies and promotes best practice for the Irish Co-Op sector
- Encourages networking and cooperation between Co-Op’s focused on driving the sectors economic growth.
- Provides a unifying voice for the Co-Op movement.
- In its umbrella role the ICOS helps the movement to meet the needs of its members and the market place.
- Provides leadership and direction in a globally competitive marketplace.
- Educates members on the value of the Co-Op, and develops the next generations of leaders.
While it is not the role of “A New Ireland blueprint” to promote any organisation, the ICOS is like an oasis in a corporate desert.
An excellent Co-Op idea has turned into a thriving Co-Op energy providing in North Tipperary. They are a not for profit, excellent example of a community-owned cooperative. Their business is energy efficient Home Insulation, Power generation and provision to their members, all under the control of local rural communities. While reading this you can gather likeminded people in your community together and discuss and even brainstorm the possibilities of setting up a Co-Op in your community and what kind of business it could get involved in. Everything starts with an idea and that is where Co-Op’s start. The following ECTC is a wonderful example of this and a wonderful example of people and communities working successfully together.
ECTC National Housing Retrofit Scheme 2021
Energy Communities Tipperary Cooperative or ECTC for short are a cooperative of rural communities, carrying out home insulation, energy efficiency upgrades in Tipperary. Their aim is to save energy, save money, create warm homes and generate jobs locally. The side effect is the empowering and the revitalisation of rural communities. The board of Energy Communities Tipperary Cooperative (ECTC) is made up of unpaid, highly committed volunteer directors from 8 participating communities as well as one each from North Tipperary LEADER Partnership (NTLP) and the Tipperary Energy Agency (TEA).
Winning People and Places
Their board represents the current member communities of: Drombane, Upperchurch, Kilcommon/Rearcross, Birdhill, Lorrha/Rathcabbin, Burgess, Puckane and Terryglass. The following communities have previously worked closely with our team, Cloughjordan, Carrig/Riverstown, Loughmore, Borrisokane.
ECTC are always interested in cooperating with other communities with a desire to getting things done in a cost effectively and an efficient manner. A significant contributor to their success is their project co-ordinator, Marcella Maher Keogh. Since 2012, Marcella worked tirelessly to deliver their project on time and under budget. Claire Ryan of North Tipperary LEADER Partnership has provided financial oversight.
From a LEADER-supported pilot scheme in Drumbane/Upperchurch in rural Tipperary in 2012/2013, our nascent cooperative, ECTC, was formed in 2014, as 4 communities came together to carry out energy efficiency works on older houses and community buildings. Formally set up in 2015, we are a cooperative company limited by guarantee. Our directors are volunteers, who represent a number of Tipperary communities, from rural parishes to small towns. The board seeks new directors and volunteers to build on and develop our mission of leveraging investment into rural communities, tackling fuel poverty, creating more resilient, self-sustaining, energy efficient and energy independent communities. Current Board Members are a mix of community representatives who bring a high degree of commitment to the cooperative. We look forward to engaging positively with the skills, talents and proposals that prospective new candidates would bring to the table.
- Number of paid employees:0 employees
- Current board size: 10
- Annual turnover: €500,000 – €1,000,000
- Not-for-Profit focus: Environment Sustainability
- Not-for-Profit structure: Company Limited by Guarantee
ECTC’s Chronological History
ECTC was formally founded in 2015 and grew to include 8 communities. In 2015 and 2016, there were 261 houses and 8 community buildings upgraded, receiving a grant of €2m and generating 2.1GWh in energy savings. In 2017 ECTC maintained this level of work. ECTC uses local Limerick & Tipperary based contractors and suppliers where possible, to maintain and increase the number of new jobs in the local areas. All of our work is supported through SEAI under the Better Energy Communities scheme. That’s Irelands newest and most vibrant Co-OP and is an excellent model for likeminded innovations and ideas.
Co-Op’s are among the strongest community committed, and most viable, of all business models. ECTC is a wonderful model for anybody contemplating the setting up of a Co-Op.
The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) is a long established and an excellent support organisation that can guide you through the setting up of a Co-Op. They will help you to avoid all the pot holes and pitfalls you could encounter in your enterprise and give you all the guidelines for success.
Long Term Success
The longetivity of Co-Op’s is testament to the success of this business model. One of Irelands oldest Co-Op’s situated in Tipperary Town is Tipperary Cooperative Creamery which has remained a Co-Op while so many others have become PLC’s. It has been operating successfully in one of Europe’s best traditional milk production areas since 1908. It now has capacity to process one million litres of milk per day. The milk is processed into:
- Milk powders
- Other dairy products
Each year they manufacture 35,000 tonnes of these products. As a result of its innovative strategy, this co-op’s annual turnover has increased from €125m in 2009 to €230m in 2019. In recent years they have placed a strong emphasis on growing their export markets. They have established market presences in France, Germany, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Throughout 2020, they have focused on the Middle East and Asia as growth export markets.
The Old the New and the Diverse
The examples of the newest ECTC,s energy business to one of the oldest going back to 1908 Tipperary Cooperative Creamery processing and marketing products shows the diversity of the potential for Co-Op’s. Ireland’s co-ops have collectively over 150,000 individual members and employ 12,000 people in Ireland. Starting from its agricultural roots and the vision of Sir Horace Plunkett in 1894, ICOS today serves the co-operative sector in seven core categories, namely:
- Multipurpose dairy co-ops
- Livestock sector co-ops
- Store, trade and wholesale co-ops
- Service-related co-ops
- Community-oriented, culture and leisure co-ops
- Food, fishing and beverage co-ops
- Advisory and education-related co-ops
Tomorrows Best Business Model
The limited company and PLC business models are not people friendly models. They are more and more turning into ‘legal person’ paper monsters. They now have the legal status of a person with very little of the responsibility of a person. This has given them the opportunity to abuse power and they have taken every opportunity to do so. They have become destructive corporate – largely untouchable – legal paper monsters. That is not sustainable in a rapidly changing world where more and more people are waking up to the abusive system that has been largely enslaving them. That time is coming to an end are its structures including their business paper monsters. Tomorrow’s best business model is the people friendly and community centred Co-Op. Co-Op’s have the essential ingredient to rebuild devastated rural communities which are and have always been the backbone of the Irish nation. Co-Ops are the weapon that can revive communities and nations and defeat the cancer of creeping globalisation.
Community Banking and Prosperity
Whatever kind of currency we will have in the future we will need some kind of banking system. The current corporate banking system is probably the most abusive creation of man with its creator as its abused victim. That is because it has been cornered by the ruling elite for its own benefit and the enslavement of man. With strong Co-Op run people centred and community centred banking that could never have happened.
Protection of Co-Op’s
Cork, Limerick and Dublin had community banks back in the 1960’s but without the protection of the Co-Op people run structure they were subsumed by the parasitic corporate banks. The Credit Unions have largely been neutralised by the government putting them under Central Bank regulatory control. Co-Op’s without a strong cooperative people based and community based ethos are vulnerable to predatory takeovers or destruction of one nature or another. A whole new legal or lawful structure must be created to ring fence Co-Op’s in their communities without any possibility of being taken over or transformed into PLC’s. That is vitally important work for the future.
Germany’s Community Banking Model
Germany has a 200 years old system of Community-Public Banks. Those community centred banks have a 70% market share of banking in Germany that never needed a cent of taxpayers’ money. All of its investments are ploughed into SME’s in the local economy. This is the heart and the backbone of the German economy and can be the heart and the backbone of the Irish economy. Despite all their corporate PR and bluster the corporate commercial banks in Germany have only 12% of the market.
Irelands Robber Banks
Ireland’s 5 ruthless robber banks, AIB, B of I, and PTSB control 99% of the Mortgage Market. UK’s Nat West Bank controlled Ulster Bank and Belgium’s KBC Bank have both fled the Irish market. Just 3 of those banks, AIB, B of I and PTSB who took over Ulster Bank’s share, control 95% of Small Business Lending. The governments Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) a State setup to fund businesses is doing nothing more than subsidising the robber Banks. Between them they have a negative stranglehold on the Irish economy and have done untold and incalculable damage to it and will continue to do so unless and until they are replaced by people controlled community banking.
The German model of Community Banks is a model that once developed and initiated would reinvigorate every aspect of Irish life and make the British and Brussels dimensions as well as the Commercial Banks financial stranglehold on Ireland and her people redundant.
Drink to Tomorrow’s Co-Op’s
Scotland is home to over 130 malt and grain distilleries, making it the world’s greatest concentration of whisky production. Ireland lagging far behind with a better product has only 38 distilleries with 33 located outside of Ireland’s cities, delivering local jobs, commerce and visitors to communities across the country.
If Ireland’s grain producers set up 100 more Co-Op distilleries with 3 to 4 in each county not only would they give themselves a better price for their grain but they would also reap rich dividends from the sale of the finished product. Ireland is currently only satisfying 4 to 5% of the worlds demand. It’s time for Ireland to start producing all the liquid gold the world wants in the form of its unique and already world famous whiskey.
A Model for 100 Irish Distilleries
Is there room for and a market for 100 more Irish Whiskey Distilleries? With exports growing by over 15% per annum and a hungry world for more, existing distilleries have been expanded and a number of new distilleries have recently come on the market. Let’s look at the French wine industry as a model to see the potential for Irish whiskey. After WW2 massive investments and a new generation of winemakers revived the French Vineyards and took wine making to new heights.
Today France has 25,000 wine-making communities with 3245 labelled wines. Quality control is a vitally important key to success for French Wine and for Irish Whiskey. The Institut National des Appellations d’Origines – National Institute of Appellations of Origin INAO was founded in 1936 to establish standards through a set of classifications and regulations to protect and guarantee the authenticity of France’s wines. AOC or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (controlled designation of origin) has become AOP or Appellation d’Origine Protegée (PDO -Protected Designation of Origin). This French label certifies the geographical origin of a wine. This labelling system was reformed in 2011. A quality control system for the Irish Whiskey Co-Op’s, whiskey liquors, and whiskey based cream liquors with an international marketing Co-OP owned by the Co-Op distilleries would be required to create an image of excellence to manage the market and communicate with its consumers.
Raw Material & Added Value
The beef market is exploited by a few very rich processers while the producers are being driven out of the market. The producers will never be the real beneficiaries of the finished product while they allow themselves to be exploited by corporate parasites. Unless they develop their own processing and marketing Co-Op’s most of them will go burst and be driven out of the market. It’s happening right now. The same applies to the producers of all raw materials. Either they unite and cooperate for therein is their potential strength and prosperity or they will remain powerless, poor and exploited. They do have a choice and its time they get off their collective asses and grasped their opportunity for prosperity.
Make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series entitles “A New Ireland Blueprint” and the additional episodes to be published in the coming weeks.