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Ireland: United Left Alliance's electoral challenge strengthens

January 16, 2011 -- United Left Alliance -- The challenge of the United Left Alliance to the right-wing consensus in Irish politics is strengthening rapidly. As of today, a total of 17 constituencies will be contested by 18 ULA candidates in the looming general election. As well as Tipperary South and West Waterford, 11 constituencies in Dublin, two in Cork, as well as Wexford and Limerick city, candidates have been nominated for Carlow/Kilkenny and Laois/Offaly. This means that almost 50% of Dáil [parliamentary] constituencies will have a left alternative to the establishment political parties.

Joe Higgins MEP of the Socialist Party said:

It is entirely possible that this number will be extended in the coming weeks but even at the current number, it is the first time in Irish politics that there was such a wide representation of principled left candidates presented to the electorate in a general election.

The very positive response to the launch of the United Left Alliance throughout the country indicates a real thirst for a radical alternative to the establishment parties and particularly to Fine Gael and Labour, which although now in opposition, are pledged to essentially the same policy as Fianna Fail and the Green Party in implementing the diktats of the IMF/EU Commission on behalf of the bond marketers, speculators and European bankers.

With the opinion polls currently pointing to the possibility of a Fine Gael/Labour Coalition with a large majority and supported in the Dáil by the discredited remnants of Fianna Fail, a significant bloc of principled Left Dáil deputies is crucial, to mount an effective opposition and offer a fundamental alternative to the attacks on the living standards of ordinary people and public services.

Councillor Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance said:

The revelations about [Fine Gael's] Brian Cowen’s Golf outing with Sean Fitzpatrick and other figures in Anglo-Irish Bank graphically underline the urgent need to break-up the golden circle that has brought this country to edge of the economic abyss.

But if Fianna Fail have finally exposed themselves and now face wipe-out at the coming election, the big question is what an alternative government is going to do. This is what people on the door-steps are asking.

It is clear that Fine Gael and Labour have no intention of reversing the damage done by Fianna Fail and their golden circle friends. They are long on rhetoric and sound-bites but short on specific commitments to reverse the unjust attacks on ordinary people.

The United left Alliance is receiving a tremendous response across the country because it is being very clear and specific about what it stands for. We are for reversing unjust cuts on low and middle income families, investing directly in jobs programmes and making the bankers and super-wealthy pay for the crisis they created.

In the coming weeks we intend to set out clearly our alternative programme and in the process demonstrate the failure of other parties to do the same. If the response we have received so far is anything to go by the ULA is going to make a very serious break-through in this election and begin the process of re-shaping the Irish political landscape in a progressive direction.

Mass resignation from Laois/Offaly Labour Party – New Left Alternative organisation launched in constituency

Twenty members have resigned from the Labour Party in Laois/Offaly and formed an independent Left-wing organisation and nominated a candidate to stand in the general election as part of the ULA. This followed the crude imposition of a general election candidate by the Labour Party leadership at a selection convention in December where the democratic rights of ordinary members were trampled on. This was seen by the local members as an attempt to ensure that any candidates elected to the Dáil for the Labour Party would not oppose the intended policy of the leadership to join Fine Gael in government and continue the disastrous bailout policy of the present government.

The new left group pledged to "bring a left-wing political and economic analysis to issues in Laois/Offaly" and to "oppose the current right-wing political consensus both locally and nationally especially in relation to the IMF/EU deal, the banking crisis, cuts to public services and the levying of further taxes on the lower paid and those on social welfare".

Include United Left Alliance in opinion polls

The steering committee of the United Left Alliance has written to the polling organisations requesting them to include the ULA in any future opinion polls on political support. The letter points out that among ULA candidates are several poll-topping local councillors tipped to win Dáil seats and a member of the European parliament (MEP) who won 12% of the vote in Dublin in the European election. It further states: "We feel that the potential support for our coherent political alliance is being obscured from the public debate by our inclusion in the category ‘Others’ or ‘Independents’."

National Convention of the United Left Alliance

A national convention of the United Left Alliance will be held in Dublin in mid-February. Further details will be announced but we can say now that it will be an important gathering of activists and will provide an important opportunity to debate and discuss the key political and organisational tasks facing the ULA.

ULA candidates to date

  • Councillor Mick Barry (Cork North Central), Socialist Party (SP) – ULA
  • Councillor Richard Boyd-Barrett (Dun Laoghaire), People Before Profit Alliance (PBP) – ULA
  • Councillor Joan Collins (Dublin South Central), PBP – ULA
  • Joe Higgins MEP (Dublin West), SP – ULA
  • Councillor Clare Daly (Dublin North), SP – ULA
  • Councillor Seamus Healy (South Tipperary and West Waterford), Workers and Unemployed Action Group – ULA
  • Councillor Gino Kenny (Dublin Mid West), PBP – ULA
  • Seamus O’Brien(Wexford), PBP – ULA
  • Mick Murphy (Dublin South West), SP – ULA
  • Cian Prendiville (Limerick City), SP – ULA
  • John Lyons (Dublin North Central) PBP – ULA
  • Annette Mooney (Dublin South East), PBP – ULA
  • Conor MacLiam (Carlow/Kilkenny) SP -ULA
  • Brian Greene (Dublin North East) SP -ULA
  • Anne Foley (Cork North West) PBP – ULA
  • Rob Connolly (Dublin Mid West) SP – ULA
  • Nicola Curry (Dublin South) PBP – ULA
  • Liam Dumpleton (Laois/Offaly) ULA

Comments

Some ULA candidates from the People Before Profit Alliance

People Before Profit is part of the United Left Alliance

Cllr Pat Kavanagh, declares her intention to stand for Wicklow

Cllr Pat Kavanagh, declares her intention to stand in General Elections for Wicklow Constituency
by Cllr Pat Kavanagh on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 4:28am

Elected to Wicklow Town Council in 2009 as a Green Party candidate, Pat Kavanagh resigned from the Green Party in March 2010, having campaigned within the party to vote against NAMA and the bank bailouts. Since then, Pat has been involved in the setting up of a new federated political party, Fís Nua (New Vision) which will be Ireland's newest registered party before the 2011 General Elections.

"Fís Nua is different to all other parties as it is a federated union for individuals, groups and organisations with a social justice, ecology and anti-corruption agenda to come together under one umbrella to get their causes and concerns on the political table. Fís Nua has no centralised leadership, but will be selecting spokespeople in the relevant departments who have an indepth knowledge and experience of their own areas. Candidates will be selected by their own constituency groups and not by anybody else. We believe that real democracy starts at the bottom level, and all of our representatives are accountable to the membership." said Pat

Originally from High Street, Wicklow Town, Pat is the daughter of Tom and Phil Kavanagh, formerly of Kavanagh's Shoe Shop in Wicklow. Pat has lived all her life in Wicklow and married local man Francis Murphy. They have two children who attended local schools. Pat is best known for her work as owner/manager of The Cave Steiner Preschool and Afterschool on High Street, where hundreds of children have availed of her care and attention for the past 11 years. Previous to this, Pat qualified with a degree in Social Care and worked as a Care Worker at St Kyran's Residential Care Centre, Rathdrum for 10 years, and with children with disability at the School for the Blind, Merrion Road, Dublin. Pat also spent some time working in child protection with the HSE.

Pat has a firm committment to environmental causes, as demonstrated by her re-establishment 4 years ago of the Friends Of The Murrough organisation which has campaigned for an SAAO and management plan for The Murrough in Wicklow, and her support for Wicklow Head Preservation Group. Pat is also a long term member of the Wicklow Community Resource Centre Committee, which has worked tirelessly for the restoration of the former Parochial Hall for use as a badly needed community hall and Youth Cafe. "I am delighted that after so many years of fundraising, the builders are now working on the hall and hopefully we will see the fruits of our labour in 2011"

Like so many others, Pat was motivated to become politically active by the ever increasing corruption and dishonesty she has witnessed in the political arena. "I am sick of it. Public servants are just that - servants of the public, and are very honoured to be elected. They should repay their voters by being honest and truthful, however difficult that may sometimes be. We don't need any more croneyism or golden circles. When I joined Wicklow Town Council, I refused to join any voting pact. My opinion, and my vote will remain my own, it can never be bought or sold."

Pat will be standing as a General Election Candidate for the first time in 2011, for the newly established federated party, Fís Nua. To read their manifesto, go to www.fisnua.com

Ireland: Election called amid political chaos

Irish Republican News · January 20, 2011

Following a morning of chaos and farce in the Dublin parliament, 26-County Taoiseach Brian Cowen has finally announced the General Election for Friday, March 11.

An apparent ploy by Cowen to carry out a cabinet reshuffle through a series of Ministerial resignations failed spectacularly this morning after it was opposed by Fianna Fail’s coalition partners, the Green Party.

The resignation of Minister for Health Mary Harney was joined late last night by the resignations of Minister for Enterprise Batt O’Keeffe; Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern; Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey; and Minister for Defence Tony Killeen.

Minister for Education Micheal Martin stepped down on Tuesday night following his failed challenge to Cowen’s leadership of Fianna Fail.

Other than Mr Martin, all of the Ministers who resigned have announced that they do not intend to contest the forthcoming election.

It had been Cowen’s clear intention to promote six backbenchers in order to boost their profile ahead of the election and accord them ministerial pay and privileges for the final weeks of his regime.

The Dail was suspended in chaos this morning amid persistent protest and interventions by the Opposition.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the situation where so many Ministers had resigned “would not have happened even in the days of great dictatorship”.

He said the Government was showing contempt for the Green Party who needed to “stop tweeting” and “step up to the plate”.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the appointment of Ministers had to be approved by the Dail.

“We have a flu epidemic we have people lying on hospitals in trolleys and the Minister for Health has taken to the hills, we have flights being cancelled in Aer Lingus and the Minister for Transport has resigned, we have problems for crime in many parts of the country and the two Ministers responsible for Justice and Defence are gone,” he said.

“We have had quite serious commentary on this country by both President Sarkozy of France and by the President of the European Commission and the Minister for Foreign Affairs has gone.”

Mr Gilmore described the situation as a “cynical, grubby exercise in last minute jobbery”.

Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said the people of the country “couldn’t believe that further strokes could yet be played” by Fianna Fail.

“This is a a blatant Fianna Fail stroke that treats the electorate with contempt. A deluded Taoiseach thinks that the last-minute promotion of new faces to the Cabinet will save Fianna Fail from electoral disaster. It is like applying a new coat of paint to a sinking ship.

“Clearly the Ministerial resignations were orchestrated to facilitate this stroke which is one of the most cynical moves ever made by a departing Government.

“Having sold the sovereignty of the State to the IMF and the EU the Taoiseach is now using the Cabinet table as a Fianna Fail election platform.”

It emerged when the Dail resumed this afternoon that Cowen’s premature move to accept the resignations, without Green Party approval, had forced a humiliating climbdown.

Cowen had been left with no option but to reassign the Ministerial portfolios to a greatly diminished cabinet, amid further uproar and anger.

The Green Party were not present this afternoon in the Dail when Cowen reversed course, but this morning’s scenes has cast a heavy shadow over the final weeks of the Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition.

The 26-County state is now facing months of political uncertainty before the election and a new government is formed.

5 seats for ULA?

Recent polls indicate the ULA could win around 5 seats. The Greens of course won 6 in the last election and held the balance of power, entering the government (they are set for oblivion and will be lucky to hold 1 or 2 seats this time).

The polls are very imprecise on the ULA because a) the pollsters don’t ask about the ULA explicitly but lump them under “Others”, b) STV elections are not actually as ‘proportional’ as is sometimes made out because it is very difficult to predict the final seat in each constituency due to transfers, which sometimes have more to do with individual identity than party political label and programme.

If you can decode all the complex information, there’s a useful set of predictions here:
http://irishpollingreport.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/redcpaddy-power-const...
It predicts fairly comfortable victories based on a poll taken before this week’s crisis for ULA candidates Higgins, Boyd-Barrett, Collins, Daly for example.

Key areas of economic policy

With most key areas of economic policy already predetermined by our bailout commitments, and with such close agreement on political reform, once the two parties have agreed a compromise on the ratio of tax increases to spending cuts – which will be necessary to form their government – the argument about policy differences will have little substance.

Ireland: Establishment parties unite against Sinn Fein, ULA

IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS
http://republican-news.org

Saturday-Tuesday, 22-25 January, 2011

 The two largest opposition parties in the Dublin parliament, Fine Gael
and Labour, have stunned the Irish people after they backed a plan to
ensure the passage of Fianna Fail's financial programme through the
Dublin parliament.

The move follows the withdrawal of the Green Party from the coalition
with Fianna Fail in the wake of the resignation of Brian Cowen as Fianna
Fail leader. Cowen, however, remains as Taoiseach in charge of a
minority government in Dublin pending the announcement of a general
election, now expected to be held in late February.

With support from Labour, Fine Gael and the Greens, Fianna Fail's
Finance Bill is set to be accelerated through both houses of the Dublin
parliament by the weekend. It legislates for the 2011 austerity budget
as part of a four-year plan which places the costs of the state's
banking and fiscal collapse firmly on the lower and middle classes and
on future generations.

The bill, with its scores of amendments, is to be guillotined [cut
short] in order to terminate debate in the parliament and ensure its
rapid passage before the voters get their say in the election.

With an effective four-party coalition now exercising power, political
debate has polarised between these parties on the one hand, and Sinn
Fein and other left-wing groups on the other.

Incredibly, Sinn Fein's five TDs now represent the only opposition in
the Dublin parliament. Strongly opposing what they describe as a 'grubby
deal' by the 'consensus for cuts', the party has come under intense
political attack by all four establishment parties. Also opposing the
deal is the United Left Alliance, headed by Socialist MEP Joe Higgins.

The Labour Party's change of heart has created the greatest shock.
Labour's no-confidence motion in the government, due to be debated today
[Tuesday], would have led to the immediate collapse of Cowen's regime.
However, it has now been withdrawn the motion to allow the passage of
the Finance Bill.

After only an hour of talks yesterday, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan
revealed all parliamentary business would be cleared for the week to
fast-track the Finance Bill.

"I think it's a good day's work. I think it's important for the country
that we are seen to unite," he said. Sinn Fein said it had been invited to the talks but when it turned up, was quickly asked to leave.

"I went into today's meeting with the sole purpose of telling the other
parties that Sinn Fein will not be a party to the grubby little deal to
pass the Finance Bill in the dying days of this Dail," Sinn Fein's
Finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, said.

"There was an opportunity today for the opposition parties to bring down
this government once and for all and to bring about the general election
that the people are crying out for.

"Unfortunately, however, in what I can only describe as an act of
political fraud, both Fine Gael and the Labour Party buckled and agreed
to extend the life of the government for one more week to pass a Finance
Bill which they both claim to oppose."

Both Labour and Fine Gael have insisted they only decided to facilitate
the Finance Bill in order to advance the general election by two weeks,
a claim which has been widely ridiculed - not least because of Labour's
refusal to proceed with its 'no confidence' motion.

A hysterical and ranting attempt to defend the Labour Party's sudden
change of heart by its Finance spokesperson, Joan Burton on Vincent
Browne's Late Show on TV3 last night created an internet sensation and
became a global top-trending subject of debate on the Twitter website.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is expected to dissolve the Dail any time between
Saturday and Tuesday with a general election to be held within 18-25
days, excluding Sundays and holidays.

The unprecedented upheaval began with allegations over the Taoiseach's
golf and social outings with former Anglo-Irish Bank officials and the
'golden circles' which exist at the top of Irish society.

Accusations and innuendo quickly turned into a leadership heave, which
Cowen survived, only for six ministers to resign and his attempted
Cabinet reshuffle ended in tatters.

Cowen stepped down as Fianna Fail leader on Saturday afternoon but
insisted he would remain Taoiseach until an election. His departure
effectively forced the Greens to quit government the following day.

Labour's previously tabled no-confidence motion, which would have
brought about the government's collapse, ironically forced yesterday's
extraordinary u-turn by the main Opposition parties.

The developments have now identified Sinn Fein as the only party in the
Dublin parliament to genuinely oppose the government's
financial policies.

They have also sharply exposed the underlying links between Labour, Fine
Gael and Fianna Fail and are certain to accelerate the process of
political change currently underway in the State.

Village magazine: Interview with Joe Higgins, MEP

http://www.villagemagazine.ie/index.php/2011/01/interview-with-joe-higgi...

Jan 25th, 2011
United Left Alliance

Michael Smith interviews Joe Higgins about a new electoral force on the left

I meet Joe Higgins over tea and a brownie, on a grim afternoon in December in Dublin City Centre. He doesn’t want to talk about his background – people are sick of it – he wants to talk about the United Left Alliance. When pushed he claims not to know what forged his politics: he just had a view – rather than any particular experience – of unfair structures and he saw socialism as a way of running society with justice and equality. I ask him what role he sees for the market in all this and he says none – at least for the international markets and the markets in commodities. He’d nationalise the commanding heights. He’d nationalise – and leave nationalised – the banks. And he’d nationalise other major infrastructure and major industries. He’d re-nationalise Eircom and Team Aer Lingus. I suggest that many people wouldn’t know what else he’d like to see nationalised and ask him to explain. He wouldn’t “prescribe that enterprises of a certain size would be nationalised. You’d start with the obvious candidates and then leave it up to democracy – workfloor democracy, participatory democracy, community democracy – to a proper debate as to how best to serve the needs of society”. He wouldn’t nationalise every “corner shop, bed and breakfast or chip shop”. The position is the same as he held in Militant Labour twenty years ago before he was expelled. “I’m a Trotskyist”. He’s always been a Trotskyist, though he draws also from Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg and James Connolly – and times change so thinking evolves. It’s different from the totalitarian approach in former Eastern Europe. Stalinists in the Soviet Union jailed democratic socialists of Higgins’ tradition. I ask him what he thinks of the agenda of equality, sustainability, transparency that Village generally promotes. He wouldn’t disagree with them but you can’t have those agendas in a capitalist society. So what’s his own agenda and that of his socialist party?

His agenda would be not to pay a penny to the speculators and gamblers. He’d say goodbye to the IMF as the expression of global capitalism with a history of wreaking social havoc across the world and of acting as shock troops to facilitate multinationals. He’d default, not pay the bond-holders and while he won’t directly say he’d leave the Euro he’d prefer an arrangement that was less of a straitjacket, that allowed devaluation He’d like to see democratic control of the banks, infrastructure and major industries. Then he’d extend that Europe-wide. He’d promote investment in major infrastructure, including health and education, to provide jobs and enhance quality of life. He’d nationalise natural resources along the lines of what the ESB and Bord na Móna did years ago. Alternative energy is a priority. He’d like to see more unity of the working class in a non-sectarian way in Northern Ireland. . As to a United Ireland, democratic socialism would see sectarianism dissipate and the border cease to be an issue. The environment and climate change figure as priorities. Much of his agenda is impossible while capitalist structures remain in place but he’s determined democratic socialism would achieve nearly all the progressive views we discuss. At a local government level he was a robust opponent of developer-led rezonings and for thirty years he’s been lobbying for the Kenny Report which would penally tax the fruits of taxation and allow local authorities to buy development land without paying a premium price. Again it’s down to the process: “as long ago as the 1960s, when the developers bought Fianna Fáil, the problem wasn’t so much corruption as the clout they wielded over the process” of local government and rezoning.

On the EU, he believes the European Commission is hypocritical about the European model which is dominated by corporate power including lobbyists. He’s particularly concerned with their trade agenda and is on the EU trade committee. Still he’s open to European solidarity on the basis of democratic socialism. The main thing is to work out a workers’ society where this agenda prevails.

He doesn’t see scope for taxation for environmental or quality-of -life enhancing purposes. Taxing petrol or waste or water is a crude mechanism. He prefers regulation rather than taxation to environmental ends. You provide public transport, you insist on recycling, you stop waste of water. Perhaps inevitably for someone whose agenda is so solidly social he has little interest in harnessing economic mechanisms to environmental ends. But he is passionate about the environment and has innovative ideas – dual-flush toilets, reuse of rainwater and the like.

He has firm ideas about the current party-political line-up. A vibrant, left alternative in the next parliament will be opposed and dominated by FG and Labour, with a disillusioned FF in opposition. He notes in the context that Labour has certain progressive principles and yet will sacrifice them in the inevitable coalition, while carrying out the programme of the IMF.

I ask him about some of the forces on the left:

Labour, he says, like the Social Democratic and Labour parties all over Europe has bought into market capitalism. Blair is the prototype, “out-Thatchering Thatcher and going in to Iraq”. Their colleagues in Greece are carrying out the IMF agenda and in Portugal and Spain are implementing vicious cuts. When he first started out in the Labour Party it was very different

The Trade Unions are mostly in retreat. There’s no decisive leadership though he has some time for the Unite union. The rank and file needs to take back control. Too many of them do deals with government and are on wages like those of the top bankers.

The Greens were never on the left and he told John Gormley so a long time ago. This is because they could never say if they were left or right – leaving them exposed as opportunistic.

Sinn Féin takes a radical position on some issues. The Socialist Party differs with it on its past willingness to go into power with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. And in Northern Ireland Sinn Féin implements British government cuts and represents only a section of society, Catholics – objectively it will never become a force for the protestant working class.

He thinks ‘claiming the future’ should have clearer policies and say who they are supporting electorally.

He is promoting an alliance for the general election. It is an alliance of left-wing groups and individuals. The United Left Alliance includes the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance (consisting of the Socialist Workers Party – whose prominent members include Eamon McCann, Richard Boyd Barrett and Kieran Allen), the Community and Workers Action Group of south Dublin, as well as other individual members, the South Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group and the Independent Socialist group of Declan Bree in Sligo.

Higgins says, “there’s no one agenda but a fairly comprehensive founding statement of purpose and a pledge”. I ask if there are policy differences between the component members. “At the level of detail, there may be different analysis – for example on Northern Ireland”. He’s reluctant to define the differences of ideology between the component parties, especially when the capitalist media misrepresent. But in the current circumstances “it’s essential that there’s a basic unity on a principled and honest basis as a more significant force, especially in the context of the likely composition of the next Dáil with the obvious scope for a radical alternative, after years where people’s comfort was facilitated so leaving them with little reason to look elsewhere”. He does not accept we are a conservative society. “The alliance has been welcomed by a lot of people not previously associated with any of the component parties. But the alliance must stop the forces that are destroying our society”.

Is he concerned that the Soclalist Workers Party is ambivalent to violence? I mention .reports of concerted riotings at the end of some of the recent marches. He says he can’t speak for the Socialist Workers Party but he saw a few students brutally attacked by the Gardaí after a sit-in in the Department of Finance,as a rehearsed warning to the rest of society and the state. As to whether the Socialist party takes a different stance on violence, he can’t speak for the SWP but the Socialist Party is in favour of well-organised disciplined mobilisations and industrial action since the greatest power workers have is the power of their labour.

The United Left Alliance (ULA) in its own words:

The Alliance is opposed to the government’s bailouts and the slash and burn policies which are only making the crisis worse. In the general election they aim to provide a real alternative to the establishment parties as well as to Labour and Sinn Féin, who also accept the capitalist market and refuse to rule out coalition with right wing parties. The approach of a Fine Gael /Labour government in power would not be fundamentally different than this government’s.

The ULA will be standing candidates throughout the country and they are inviting all people, campaigns and groups that want to fight for real change and who agree with their demands to become part of the Alliance.

They reject the so-called solutions to the economic crises based on slashing public expenditure, welfare payments and workers’ pay. There can be no just or sustainable solution to the crisis based on the capitalist market. Instead they favour democratic and public control over resources so that social need is prioritised over profit.

Those elected as part of the alliance will not do any deals or support any coalition with any of the right-wing parties, particularly Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. They are committed to building a mass left alternative to unite working people, whether public or private sector, Irish or migrant, with the unemployed, welfare recipients, pensioners and students in the struggle to change society.

Laois/Offaly Leftwing Initiative leaves Labour, joins ULA

This report chooses to focus on the fact that one participant got cold feet, rather the bigger story a section of the Labour Party joining the ULA

http://www.leinsterexpress.ie/news/Splits-on-the-left-continue.6703229.j...

Published Date: 26 January 2011
By Conor Ganly
A SPLIT within a split has emerged among left wing election candidates in Laois Offaly.

In the wake of a revolt over John Whelan's selection by the Labour Party, it emerged last week that Liam Dumpleton was due to run for the United Left Alliance. However less then seven days later this arranged marriage has already broken down.

Mr Dumpleton has refused to sign the ULA's pledge and will instead run as an 'Independent' Labour candidate. Rathdowney man Ray Fitzpatrick has will replace the Birr jounalist as the Alliance's candidate. The announcement was made last Friday at the so-called Laois/Offaly Leftwing Initiative (LOLwI) meeting.

Mr Dumpleton reportedly told the meeting that he had no problem with Labour Party policy. The group said the group was "somewhat taken aback" but the moved straight away to select Ray Fitzpatrick. who said he was standing to break the mould.

"It is a huge task that needs to be done now because the next Government will surely be despised every bit as much as the present one within a couple of years. We need to build a progressive force for the future, a movement that might only start to blossom long after this election is over. We have to break the mould of conservative politics, not just in Laois/Offaly but throughout the country," said Mr Fitpatrick.

Responding to the news the Labour's John Whelan said there was no such thing as Independent Labour. He also took a swipe at Mr Fitpatrick.

"Even Che Guevara himself would not be left wing or militant enough for Ray Fitzpatrick..,The last time I saw him was bolting through a door at the Labour Party convention stealing a ballot box. I would respectfully ask him to return the ballot box so that labour can restore democracy in this country," he said

There are also unconfirmed reports the Jim O'Brien is considering running. The former Labour 2007 candidate strongly opposed Mr Whelan's candidacy.

ULA should be included in debates

28 January 2010

Press Release: United Left Alliance

Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett call for United Left Alliance must feature in party leader debates

Agreement by TV3 that ULA will be included a welcome development

RTE, TG4, Sky, Today FM and Newstalk must follow suit

Responding to the discussion about the format of live debate between representatives of the parties Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett, People Before Profit/United Left Alliance candidate for Dun Laoghaire commented:

“The United Left Alliance’s inclusion in the debate format is essential if we are going to have a real clash of ideas on the alternative to the cutback consensus of the establishment parties.

“We believe that the United Left Alliance has earned it’s right to be heard on the basis of having an MEP who achieved 12% of the vote across the capital and a number of poll topping councillors who are widely recognised as Dáil seat contenders. We are contesting around half the Dáil constituencies and are therefore clearly a coherent national force not to be obscured in the amorphous category of ‘others’ and ‘independents’.

Joe Higgins MEP, the Socialist Party/United Left Alliance candidate for Dublin West added

“The promise by Vincent Browne last night that TV3 would feature the ULA in the debates it will be hosting on the basis of the amount of candidates we are running is welcome. We have written to RTE on this matter and await their response. We publicly call on all the national TV and radio stations to guarantee the rightful inclusion of ULA in the national debate.

“It is entirely conceivable that we will have more seats than the Greens and as many as Sinn Féin in the next Dáil. To exclude or marginalise the United Left Alliance would be completely anti democratic.”

ULA wins five seats in Irish Dáil (parliament)

The United Left Alliance has had 5 TD's (members of parliament) elected!!

Joe Higgins, Dublin West, Socialist Party (received 19% of constituency votes)
Clare Daly, Dublin North, Socialist Party (received 15.2% of constituency votes)
Joan Collins, Dublin South-Central, People Before Profit Alliance (received 12.9% of constituency votes)
Richard Boyd-Barrett, Dun Laoghaire, People Before Profit and Socialist Workers Party (received 10.9% of constituency votes)
Seamus Healy, Tipperary South, Unemployed and Workers' Action Group (received 21.3% of constituency votes)

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