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Ireland

Ireland: United Left Alliance confronts big challenges

[For more coverage of the United Left Alliance and its discussions at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, click HERE.]

By Dick Nichols, Dublin

July 16, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Ireland’s seven-month-old United Left Alliance is the “new kid on the block” of European anti-capitalist parties. Launched on November 27 last year, it emerged from the February Irish national elections—where its name didn’t even appear on the ballot paper—with five TDs (Teachta Dála, members of the Irish parliament, the Dail). To date the ULA has also won 20 positions in local councils and one seat in the European parliament.

New hope in Ireland

By Brendan Young

May 20, 2011 -- Scottish Left Review via the Irish Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Described as a sea change by commentators, the biggest shock of Ireland’s February 25, 2011, general election was the collapse of the vote of Fianna Fáil (FF), the state’s largest party; from 41.5 per cent in 2007 to just 17.4 per cent this time. FF has governed in Ireland for 61 out of the 79 years since it was formed in 1932 and has won 14 out of the 19 general elections. Yet it now has only one TD (member of parliament) in Dublin -- down from 13. Its first preference vote in Dublin was only 12.5 per cent, whereas the United Left Alliance (ULA), on its first outing, got 7.1 per cent. What stands out is the loss of support for FF among working-class voters -- confirming what has already been happening in local elections.

The European workers' movement: dangers and challenges

In Portugal, November 2010 general strike called by the Communist Party-led CGTP and the Socialist Party-led UGT was massively supported, with 3 million strikers out of a workforce of 4.7 million.

By Murray Smith

March 6, 2011 -- New Socialist -- With the onset of the world economic crisis, the European workers' movement finds itself in a new phase, one that is replete with dangers and challenges. It is important to underline that we are in fact in a new situation and not just a continuation of the previous period.

Ireland: Sinn Fein calls for a republic of freedom, sovereignty and the empowerment of citizens across all 32 counties

[Below is the transcript of Sinn Féin president and newly elected member of parliament Gerry Adam's first speech to Ireland's parliament (video above), on March 9, 2011.]

By Gerry Adams

March 9, 2011 -- I am very proud to stand here as an Ulsterman, as an Irish republican from County Antrim. It is a great honour to represent Sinn Féin in any capacity but it is especially gratifying to receive a mandate from one’s peers.

Ireland: United Left Alliance pledges to be radical opposition in the Dáil, and build a mass left alternative on the ground


The United Left Alliance's Joe Higgins' first speech in the Dáil on March 9, 2011. Transcript here.

March 9, 2011 -- United Left Alliance -- At the March 8 press conference convened by the United Left Alliance in response to the program for government agreed by Fine Gael and Labour Joe Higgins, Socialist Party/United Left Alliance TD [MP] for Dublin West said:

As we predicted, despite the media palaver about Fine Gael and [the] Labour [party] being incompatible they rapidly split the minute differences in their respective manifestos and have presented the public with essentially a continuation of the Fianna Fáíl/Green Party/IMF cuts program.

Tied in the straightjacket of cuts and austerity, the policies of this government mean more unemployment, more emigration, more stealth taxes and more transferring of wealth from taxpayers to failed banks and greedy bondholders. Scarcely any demands are being asked off the wealthy to pay for the crisis they created.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams: 'We can bring about a democratic revolution'

Follow Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD as he casts his vote for the first time in an Irish Dail election to topping the poll with 15,072 first preference votes and becoming a Sinn Fein TD for Louth/East Meath.

By Gerry Adams

March 1, 2011 -- The [Irish] election is now finally and positively and definitively over! The last counts in Wicklow and Laois Offaly and Galway West have been completed and the shape of the next Dáil is now known.

Acres of newsprint have been used to analyse the results and hours of television and radio, of tweets and blogs have reported on every twist and turn of what was a hugely important election.

Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have been punished for the bad decisions they took in government. Fine Gael and Labour benefited from the public anger. They did so despite having said they will implement Fianna Fail’s policy of adding private banking debt to the sovereign debt, and of implementing a succession of punitive austerity budgets over the next three years at least.

There are a plethora of independents from the left to the right and many in between.

Ireland: Electoral revolt against austerity, left makes big gains

Election night report of the count in Dun Laoghaire. United Left Alliance's Richard Boyd Barrett TD interviewed on RTE by Brian Dobson after being elected.

By Harry Browne, Dublin

March 3, 2011 -- Something changed in Ireland on February 25 when we cast our votes in parliamentary (Dáil) elections to replace the government that has overseen the utter collapse of the economy and Ireland’s debt enslavement to fund bankrupt banks and their bondholders.
The traditional centre-right ruling party, Fianna Fáil, lost nearly three-quarters of its seats, and will be replaced as the main party of the next government by Fine Gael, the centre-right party that is accustomed to spending most of its time in opposition. This has its own drama, to be sure, albeit rather predictable in outcome.

But in opening up a new space for the left, putting Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams in the Dáil, along with community activists like Joan Collins and Seamus Healy, and old Trots like Joe Higgins, Richard Boyd Barrett and Clare Daly, this election has provided a new platform for a resistance movement that could extend far beyond the polite precincts of parliament.

Ireland: Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams -- `The people know the system doesn’t serve them'

Gerry Adams launches Sinn Fein's general election campaign.

February 7, 2011 -- Irish Republican News -- Sinn Fein opened its election campaign on February 6 with a strong attack by party president Gerry Adams on corruption in the political system in the 26 Counties. Adams pointed to deep-seated anger among voters about the outgoing government and the other establishment parties, who he said were part of a deeply corrupt ruling elite.

“The economy is in crisis because of political choices being made by a deeply corrupt political elite operating within a flawed political system. And the political choices that they made were bad political choices”, Adams said. “There is deep distress out there. The people know the system doesn’t serve them, and that makes it a corrupt system.”

Ireland: More left support for the United Left Alliance

This Irish Times reports on February 13, 2011, that a former Labour Party member of parliament, Declan Bree, has joined the United Left Alliance (ULA). Another Irish left organisation has also backed the newly formed ULA. The ULA presently consists of three political parties: the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance and the Workers and Unemployed Action Group. Socialist Democracy, the party aligned with the Fourth International has released the following statement.

* * *

Statement from Ireland’s Socialist Democracy on the February 25 general election.

Ireland: Radio debate on United Left Alliance and left unity

The future of the left in Irish politics

January 20, 2011 -- RTE, Today with Pat Kenny -- A new political alliance was born in Ireland just before Christmas. It is the United Left Alliance. It’s an umbrella group of left-wing parties and individuals who have joined forces to fight the March 11, 2011, general election.

The grouping consists of three existing political parties: the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance and the Workers and Unemployed Action Group. However the Labour Party and Sinn Fein are not members.

Irish crisis: A complete failure for neoliberalism

Protest against austerity outside Irish government buildings in Dublin.

By Eric Toussaint, translated by Christine Pagnoulle in collaboration with Judith Harris

January 3, 2011 -- CADTM -- For a decade, Ireland was heralded by the most ardent partisans of neoliberal capitalism as a model to be imitated. The "Celtic Tiger" had a higher growth rate than the European average. Tax rates on companies had been reduced to 12.5% |1| and the rate actually paid by the transnational corporations that had set up business there was between 3 and 4% -- a CEO’s dream!

The United Left Alliance in Ireland: Is this the left unity we were hoping for?

Richard Boyd Barrett from the People Before Profit Alliance and Joe Higgins MEP from the Socialist Party, during the launch of the new United Left Alliance, November 29, 2010.

By Des Derwin

December 13, 2010 – Irish Left Review – Jodie Ginsberg, Reuters’ woman in Dublin, said on TV3’s Vincent Browne Tonight program on November 25, when asked for her impression of the situation in Ireland, “people are shell shocked”.

They have been for some time, but in little more than two months a series of ever more powerful shells has burst among us:

Ireland: 100,000 march in Dublin against austerity measures


David Begg, general secretary Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and folk singer Christy Moore at the Dublin Post Office, November 27, 2010.

November 29, 2010 -- Irish Republican News and other sources -- Up to 100,000 people took part in a march and rally organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) in Dublin on November 27 in protest at the government's planned program of austerity. At the main rally at the GPO in O'Connell Street, the site of the 1916 Easter Rising, speakers strongly criticised the government's four-year plan for economic recovery and the loss of sovereignty as a result of the European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout.

(Updated Nov. 24) Ireland: Fianna Fail/Greens cave in to EU/IMF on `bailout'; Left vows to fight austerity

Photo by Christina Finn/Politico.

November 23, 2010 -- Irish Republican News -- The public finances of the 26-county state [Ireland] will, for the next three years at least, be subject to “regular reviews” by external monitors working on behalf of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU) and the British and Swedish governments.

On November 21, the Taoiseach [Prime Minister] Brian Cowen and minister for finance Brian Lenihan, after a week of shocking lies and deceit, said they were accepting the IMF/EU bailout. It later emerged that the G7, comprising the seven most powerful countries in the world, had met to give its approval to the deal.

Was Karl Marx `Eurocentric'?

Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity and Non-Western Societies
By Kevin B. Anderson
University of Chicago Press, 2010, 336  pages

Eurocentrism
By Samir Amin
Monthly Review Press, 1988 (second edition 2009), 288 pages

Reviews by Barry Healy

October 22, 2010 -- In the foundational text of the Marxist movement, the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels paint a vivid word picture of the awesome, world-shaking advance of capitalism.

The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

Ireland: The 1916 Easter Rising -- striking a blow against an insane system

The Dubliners' version of "The Foggy Dew" (featuring photos from the Easter Rising).

By Stuart Munckton

April 2, 2010 -- The Future on Fire -- Easter is here again -- the anniversay of the Irish rebellion against British rule in Easter 1916. Over Easter week, Irish rebels took control of key parts of Dublin and declared a republic. It took seven days for the British to put the rising down.

"The Foggy Dew", a much-covered Irish folk song about the uprising, details what happened and gives an indication of the issues surrounding it. There are two key lines that reveal something often sidelined about the rising. The first is: "'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky/Than at Suvla or Sud-el-Bar."

The second is: "'Twas Britannia bade our Wild Geese go/that small nations might be free/but their lonely graves are by Sulva's waves/or the shore of the Great North Sea."

Ireland: Political murals of West Belfast

By Lauren Carrol Harris

November 9, 2009 -- Belfast -- Though Northern Ireland has slipped from the nightly news, "the troubles", including ongoing deep sectarian divisions and low-level violence, are a daily reality for Irish republicans. Just one reminder of the struggle for a united Ireland, and example of the Irish people's creative resistance, is the multitude of political murals that smother the walls of West Belfast, a republican stronghold. Many commemorate the activists and civilians whose lives were taken in the struggle. But the murals don't just discuss Irish politics -- on these walls are messages of international solidarity for other peoples' movements for change and self-determination. Above are just a few.

The rise and fall of the Irish Greens

By Joseph Healy

August 8, 2009 -- Being Irish, one of the thousands who left the country during the 1980s economic crisis, I follow Irish politics closely. I joined the Green Party of England and Wales in 2002. In 2006, as part of a group of Irish Greens members in London, visited Dublin to make contact with the Irish Green Party. We went to raise the issue of support for the Irish diaspora in Britain.

These were the days of the Celtic Tiger — the apparent runaway success of the Irish economy, which tempted many Irish emigrants to return home.

We met one of the party’s TDs (members of the parliament, the Dail) John Gormley. However, it quickly became apparent that he was not very interested in the issue of Irish people abroad, probably because we have no votes to offer him.

The same year, I became the secretary of the Green Islands Network (GIN), which brings together representatives of the Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh parties. It was recently joined by the Cornish Greens.

The network aims to share political experiences and ideas. It played a central role in working out relations between the Northern Irish Green Party, in the six counties that make up the northern statelet, and those in the southern republic. We finally got agreement, leading to the Northern Ireland Greens becoming a full part of the Irish party.

Wave of workplace occupations aims to reverse tide of closures; August 5: Thomas Cook workers arrested

Avril Boyne, more than eight months' pregnant, who has nine years' service at Thomas Cook, protesting at the closure of the travel agency and the redundancy package offered to staff at the Thomas Cook office, Grafton Street, Dublin. Thomas Cook is offering five weeks' pay for each year of service but workers are holding out for eight weeks. Photograph by Matt Kavanagh/Irish Times.

* * *

STOP PRESS: Thomas Cook sit-in raided by police, workers arrested!

Send protest/solidarity emails to wendy@thomascook.ie and fennj@tssa.org.uk

Ireland: Socialist Workers Party calls for a `broad radical left party'

Joe Higgins.

By the Socialist Workers Party (Ireland)

June 11, 2009 -- The election of Joe Higgins as MEP and the defeat of Fianna Fail in Dublin indicates that the political landscape is changing. The recent elections represent a seismic shift in Irish politics. Ever since 1927, Fianna Fail has dominated the working-class vote but this has now changed -- most probably forever.

Even before the current economic crisis, the Fianna Fail vote had entered a long slow decline. At the height of the Celtic Tiger, for example, Bertie Ahern scored less votes than Charlie Haughey. When the crash hit, Fianna Fail dropped all pretence of populism and launched an aggressive attack on working-class conditions.They have now paid dearly for this.

The electoral base of the Greens has also been decimated. The Greens claimed that they are in government to help save the planet from environmental decay. But they have stood over decisions which have cut the public bus service. They have also voted for cuts in education spending, even while defending the absurd bail out of the banks. Their removal from local authority councils is therefore well deserved.

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