Ireland: United Left Alliance's electoral challenge strengthens

Image removed.

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

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 13:32


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.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Wed, 01/26/2011 - 15:41



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.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 01/29/2011 - 20:48


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.”