Irish Labour Party crisis for joining austerity coalition government

This video is called Angry about EU austerity: Irish protesters in Dublin demand an end to EU austerity plans.

The Green Party in Ireland used to support grass-roots pro-environment campaigns. They said that they would never join the corrupt Right wing Fianna Fáil party in a coalition government.

However, the Green Party broke their promises to the Irish voters, and did join that coalition. Which proceeded with anti-environment policies, continuation of torture flights at Shannon airport, and economic disaster.

Irish voters “thanked” the Green Party for this by wiping out its representation in parliament.

Now, something similar seems to happen with the Irish Labour Party. That party was originally founded in the early twentieth century by the fighter for workers’ rights and national hero James Connolly.

After the electoral wipe out of the Fianna Fáil-Green coalition government came a new coalition, of the Right wing Fine Gael, with Labour as junior partner, like the Greens had been junior partner of Fianna Fáil.

It seems now that Labour leaders who have ceased to be Labour are destined for the same sad fate as Green politicians who ceased to be Green.

By Jordan Shilton:

Irish Labour Party in deep crisis

11 May 2013

Support for the Labour Party in Ireland has fallen to an historic low, as the party continues to play a leading role in the implementation of austerity measures in coalition with the right-wing Fine Gael.

The collapse in support has led to several high-profile resignations over recent months and growing concerns that Labour could be wiped out at the next elections in 2015.

The crisis escalated following a by-election held in Meath at the end of March, in which Labour finished fifth with just 5 percent of the vote. A series of newspaper polls have given the party similarly low numbers nationally.

Several parliamentarians expressed various tactical disagreements with the present leadership. On April 5, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nessa Childers announced her resignation from the parliamentary party, citing Labour’s role in government as having led to the sharp decline in its support. “I was one of the ones that knew what would happen to the party. I felt they should’ve stayed in opposition and formed an alliance on the left,” she told the Irish Times.

Childers is the seventh member to have left the parliamentary Labour Party since the coalition took office in February 2011.

Phil Prendergast, a fellow MEP, warned that Labour was in danger of “writing its own obituary.”

Local councilor Sian O’Callaghan commented that the party had been given a “sharp wake-up call…. If the Labour Party does not pursue a broad progressive social democratic agenda in Government its days are without doubt numbered.”

On April 20, at a charity event in Dublin, Labour’s social affairs minister, Joan Burton, noted in a speech that she felt the population had reached the “limit” of tolerance of austerity measures. She added that such policies could only be continued for so long without generating opposition.

… Since entering government with Fine Gael in 2011, after it had performed well in parliamentary elections with the promise to scale back on the previous government’s austerity measures, Labour has taken the lead in wielding the axe to public spending. The austerity measures initiated by the Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition were vastly expanded under Labour and Fine Gael.

Labour ministers have led the implementation of some of the most brutal attacks on working people in a number of areas. As minister of public expenditure and reform, Labour’s Brendan Howlin has made harsh cuts to social services and workers’ wages. Together with Finance Minister Michael Noonan (Fine Gael), he has presented two budgets containing €7 billion of spending cuts, and he will be closely involved with Noonan, Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny, and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore in planning next year’s budget due in October.

… Howlin has insisted that failure to agree on a renewal of the Croke Park deal will result in an across-the-board pay cut of 7 percent, on top of estimated pay reductions of 14 percent in the public sector since 2008.

Minister of Justice Alan Shatter recently introduced a reform bill on property ownership that removes a loophole in Irish law making repossessions of homes difficult.

This music video from Ireland is called Lough Sheelin Eviction, by the Wolfe Tones.

The song tells about one of many similar tragedies in nineteenth-century Ireland.

The Wikipedia article about the lake Lough Sheelin writes about it:

Lough Sheelin (from Irish: Loch Síodh Linn meaning “lake of the fairy pool”) is a limestone freshwater lough (lake) in Ireland located in County Westmeath, County Meath and County Cavan near the villages of Finnea (also spelled Finea) and Mountnugent and the town of Granard, (County Longford).

The lake is naturally populated by brown trouts whose native stocks had depleted in recent years, hence the Central Fisheries Board stocking with farm reared the lake for the pleasure of anglers.[1] Trout stocks are estimated to be over 100,000.

It is also the setting of the song “Lough Sheelin Eviction”, made popular by The Wolfe Tones. The lyrics tell the sad, but unfortunately, too typical story of a family being evicted from their home by an unforgiving & merciless landlord. Absentee landlords were common in Ireland and for many landlords the main interest was income rather than the conditions of their tenants. Many landlords realized that they could get a higher income by turning their properties to pasture than to continue with the old practice of collecting rents from tenant farmers. Evictions were the most common way of getting rid of unwanted tenants. In the song the woman, Eileen, dies in the cold and the man is forced to flee his native land in order to find a new home.

It seems that the International Monetary Fund of Ms Christine Lagarde now wants to bring back the horrors of nineteenth century Ireland to the twenty-first century.

The Jordan Shilton article continues:

The new law, which will give the banks expanded powers to seize the homes of thousands of families who have fallen behind with mortgage payments, was described by Shatter as “unpalatable but necessary.”

None of those raising concerns about Labour’s declining support have in any way repudiated the party’s role in imposing these policies. They have only meekly expressed doubts about the feasibility of continuing with harsh austerity policies when confronted with mounting public opposition that the unions are increasingly unable to control.

In response to these concerns, Gilmore warned against any attempt to slacken the pace of austerity, noting the deep crisis still facing Ireland. “What kind of conditions do people think would be attached (to a second bailout)? What kind of money do people think would be available? Do people want this period of austerity to continue for another 10 years, another 20?” he commented to the Irish Times.

In reality, Gilmore knows full well that the deals struck by the current government will ensure the continuation of austerity for decades to come. Dublin’s latest agreement with its lenders in the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund for the repayment of funds for just one of its bailed-out banks will see repayments stretch over the next 40 years. The extension of the timetable for the rest of the €85 billion bailout for an extra seven years will secure the full repayment of these funds with interest to the financial elite.

The collapse in support for Labour that has taken place is by no means a uniquely Irish phenomenon. Across Europe, support for nominally “left” social democratic parties has dropped as they have all implemented the dictates of the ruling elite without exception. In Greece, where the most brutal cuts to date have been imposed, support for PASOK has dropped to just 6 percent. In Portugal, Spain and Britain, backing for social democratic parties is declining.

Labour Senator must clarify position on assistant’s anti-union statements – Ellis | Sinn Féin: here.

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