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United Left Alliance (Ireland)

Does Ireland need a new left party?

"We have a multiplicity of left parties [in Ireland] of the traditional types... All have maxed out their potential in their present form. Some are still vital, while others have been in decline for some time."

By Helena Sheehan

June 16, 2014 -- Irish Left Review,  posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Does Ireland need a new left party? Yes. Why? We are involved in a colossal class struggle and we are not winning.

We need to confront the very system that is demanding ever more drastic redistribution of wealth from below to above, accelerated accumulation by dispossession, continuing dismantling of the public sphere in favour of private property and commodified culture.

It is not enough to go issue to issue, to oppose cuts, to denounce austerity.

We need to win consent to a counter-narrative to the dominant view of the crisis. We need to break the grip of the belief that there is no alternative.

Ireland: What’s left after the ULA?

Happier days before the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party abandoned the ULA.

Click HERE for more on the United Left Alliance.

By Henry Silke, Dublin

April 29, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This brief report intends to outline the situation within the Irish left following the slow implosion of the United Left Alliance (ULA).

Ireland: Socialist Party leaves the United Left Alliance

[Click HERE to read more on the development of the United Left Alliance.]

By Henry Silke

January 30, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On January 26, the Socialist Party (affiliated to the Committee for a Workers International, CWI) posted an article on its website announcing the end its membership of the United Left Alliance. This was one of the least surprising political developments on the Irish left as the Socialist Party (SP) had been steadily moving away from the alliance for more than a year.

The SP has given two reasons for leaving the alliance.

To the crucible: an Irish engagement with the Greek crisis and the Greek left

Syriza poster, Synaspismos office in Athens, Helena Sheehan on the streets with Syriza in Athens.

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By Helena Sheehan

January 21, 2013 -- Irish Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal at the author's suggestion and with her permission -- A monumental drama is playing out before our eyes. It is a true Greek tragedy. The plot: A society is being pushed to its limits. The denouement is not yet determined, but survival is at stake and prospects are precarious. Greece is at the sharp end of a radical and risky experiment in how far accumulation by dispossession can go, how much expropriation can be endured, how far the state can be subordinated to the market. It is a global narrative, but the story is a few episodes ahead here.

Ireland: Capitalist press smear-campaign against United Left Alliance MPs

By Joe Higgins TD

July 7, 2012 -- United Left Alliance -- This week the tragedy that is mass unemployment in Ireland was intensified further with the official rate rising to 14.9%, a total of 440,600 people and the highest since 1994. This week, also, the Troika is in town to make sure that the Irish people continue to wear the suffocating straitjacket of austerity in the interests of salvaging the fortunes of the failed property gamblers from the European financial markets. Last week a further €1.2 billion was paid out to unsecured bondholders.

Against this unfolding national crisis, sections of the billionaire-owned press spent days manufacturing giant headlines and spilling buckets of ink in a frenzy of artificial outrage because three Dublin based, left wing members of the Dail (Ireland's pariament] said they used part of a travel allowance they are paid, to take up invitations to speak at mass meetings all over the country. They were invited by campaign groups mobilising against austerity and against the household and septic tank taxes in particular. This, screamed a few journalistic hacks, was an abuse of taxpayers’ funds because the fixed allowance which all Dublin TDs receive should only be used in Dublin.

Ireland: Shock, austerity, Sinn Féin and the United Left Alliance

(Left to right) Joe Higgins, Seamus Healy, Richard Boyd Barrett, Clare Daly and Joan Collins of the United Left Alliance hold a press conference calling for a "no" vote in the EU Fiscal Treaty referendum, outside the Labour Party headquarters.

For more reports and discussion about the United Left Alliance in Ireland, click HERE.

By Des Derwin, Dublin

June 26, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On May 31, the only country to get a vote on the European Fiscal Treaty – Ireland -- voted for it by 60% to 40%, with a turnout of 50% of eligible voters. Miriam Lord, political colour-writer for the Irish Times (June 2) had a front page article with a headline almost as big as the main news story headline. It proclaimed, “The nation gives one great big sigh of relief”. Certainly, the Irish elite was giving one great big sigh of relief after a hard-fought campaign.

Andy Storey of the broad based Campaign Against the Austerity Treaty (CAAT) summarised the end result:

Ireland: Former hunger striker: 'The IRA should have embraced socialism'

Updated April 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tommy McKearney was a senior member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA)  from the early 1970s until his arrest in 1977. Sentenced to life in jail, he served 16 years, during which he took part in the 1980 hunger strike in the Maze prison. Now a freelance journalist and an organiser with the Independent Workers Union, he has published a book, The Provisional IRA, From Insurrection to Parliament (Pluto Press 2011), that argues the Provisional IRA should have embraced socialism. Mat Ward spoke to him.

Can you sum up for our readers why the Provisional IRA should have embraced socialism?

I am assuming that [your] readers accept the value of socialism as a system. What we’re talking about here is why the Provisional IRA should have -- and could have -- adopted an explicitly socialist agenda. During the early years of the Provisional IRA’s development, the movement was “pro-socialist” in an unscientific sense. The membership was working class, empathised with the less well-off and had a “democratic socialist republic” as its headline demand. What it didn’t have was a tangible socialist program as distinct from socialistic aspirations.

Crisis, revolt and the left in Europe

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following presentation is a slightly edited and updated version of a talk given on January 20, 2012, to the eighth national conference of the Australian Socialist Alliance, held in Sydney. The slides mentioned refer to the PowerPoint presentation above, which accompanied the talk. Dick Nichols works in the European office of the Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly, based in Barcelona.

* * *

By Dick Nichols

Slide 1

Thank you, comrades, for the invitation to speak—what a pleasure it is to see old faces, and new ones, too! The class struggle may be more advanced in Europe, but I sorely miss what we have created in the Socialist Alliance, as should become clear later in this talk.

My aim is to sketch the present phase of the class struggle in Europe, assess the gains of our side along with the challenges it faces, and hopefully help us all think about what this might mean for Socialist Alliance and the socialist movement in Australia. But the opinions expressed are my own, of course, not the Socialist Alliance’s: so feel free to disagree vigorously!

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.

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: 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.

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 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:

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