Elections in unequal Ireland

This 3 February 2020 video from Ireland says about itself:

Sinn Féin MLAs Caoimhe Archibald, Philip McGuigan and Declan McAleer are to put a motion to the Stormont Assembly calling on it to declare a Climate Emergency.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Sinn Fein surge into lead ahead of Saturday’s general election

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks at a press conference at Wynn's Hotel in Dublin, on Sunday

SINN FEIN’S dramatic upsurge in Ireland has continued, with polls putting the left-wing republican party ahead for the first time going into Saturday’s general election, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar faces the boot.

His Fine Gael party – which has its origins in Ireland’s fascist Blueshirts – trails in third place on 20 points, behind the opposition conservative Fianna Fail, standing at 23 per cent.

Sinn Fein is now in first place on 25 points, according to Monday night’s Irish Times poll.

Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have ruled out entering a coalition with the republicans, who entered the election campaigning for a border poll on a united Ireland. Statistics show support for reunification within both loyalist and nationalist communities. A Times of London survey published on Sunday suggested that 80 per cent of residents favour a united Ireland.

A chronic housing shortage and chaos in the health service have also been key issues in the election campaign.

While the strong showing may not translate into seats for Sinn Fein in Saturday’s vote, it will increase pressure for a referendum on a united Ireland as laid out in the Good Friday Agreement.

By Dermot Byrne:

Social inequality main issue in the Irish general election

6 February 2020

The general election in the Republic of Ireland takes place February 8. There are 531 candidates running to fill 159 seats across 39 constituencies. The election campaign takes place in conditions of immense anger felt by working people against Leo Varadkar’s outgoing right-wing Fine Gael Party.

Varadkar’s government has been kept in power over the past four years with the cooperation of Fianna Fáil, the main opposition bourgeois nationalist party. Under the leadership of Micheál Martin, Fianna Fáil signed on to a “confidence and supply” agreement with Fine Gael has fuelled resentment against the entire political establishment.

Growing social inequality, declining living standards culminating in the worst housing crisis in the country’s history, and a severe deterioration in the healthcare system and major aspects of social care stand alongside a concentration of extreme wealth in the hands of very few individuals.

A new study by the charity Oxfam has shown that the Republic of Ireland has the fifth largest number of billionaires relative to its population of any country in the world. Ireland is mirroring the global trend in wealth inequality with only Hong Kong, Cyprus, Switzerland, and Singapore having more billionaires per capita.

For the past three weeks, the central issues have been homelessness and the housing crisis along with the scandal of patients forced to wait on trolleys in overcrowded and understaffed hospitals.

There has been a public outcry at the introduction of measures to raise the state pension eligibility age from 66 to 68 years. It was already increased in 2014 from 65 to 66, but under the terms of the bank bailout conditions imposed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund in 2011, the then Fine Gael/Labour government legislated to raise the pension age in three stages by 2028 to 68. This has inflicted significant hardship. Workers contracted to retire at 65 now find themselves forced to sign onto unemployment benefits for a year after working all their lives. …

The working class, as well as bearing the consequences of crumbling public services, has seen a general deterioration in its quality of life. Figures published recently show that Irish workers have seen their living standards plummet by 14 percent since the banking and financial crash of 2008.

Workers often find they must travel in congested traffic conditions a hundred miles or more to get to work in the major cities and larger towns. Ireland has the highest childcare costs in Europe and a soaring crime rate that is the product of growing inequality and an oppressive class system.

While official figures put the number of homeless people at 10,000, this does not include young people, many with children, who have been forced into living with their parents because of spiralling rents. …

Indicating the level of disaffection with both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and a radicalisation amongst broad sections of workers, the latest opinion polls show Sinn Féin winning more support than any other party. Sinn Féin are now potentially the largest party with 25 percent support against Fianna Fáil on 23 percent and Fine Gael on 20 percent, although their low number of candidates, 42, means they are unlikely to be the largest grouping in the next Dáil Éireann. …

Liberal commentator Fintan O’Toole mused on the utility of this in the Irish Times in a piece titled, “It is time for Sinn Féin to come in from the cold.”

O’Toole noted that the decision of the Labour Party to enter government with Fine Gael in 2011, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, to assist imposing crushing austerity on the working class destroyed the Labour Party. It meant that “Sinn Féin would occupy the space where a traditional social democratic party should be.” …

Richard Boyd Barrett, the leader of the PBP/Solidarity Alliance with five TDs, has reassured those who vote for them that they “will not prop up a Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael dominated government,” but would seek “a broad left alliance to form a government” including Sinn Féin, the Greens and the Labour Party.

3 thoughts on “Elections in unequal Ireland

  1. Pingback: Irish election yesterday, votes counted tomorrow | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.