Ireland

Friday's election saw Labour gain the most votes and seats in its history. But Fine Gael came out as the largest party. Eamon Gilmore and Enda Kenny have established negotiating teams to prepare the way for a coalition government. While Labour's leaders have given the negotiations the go ahead any final decision must be made by the party conference which meets on Sunday. Fightback is wholly opposed to such a deal.

While the political arithmetic of the next Dáil won’t be clear until after February the 25th, the battle lines in the state have been drawn for some time. The Irish bourgeois are well aware that Fianna Fáil are a dead duck. Now Enda Kenny has decided to concentrate his fire on the Labour Party. There is one reason alone for this. The bourgeois want full control of the levers of power and to all intents and purposes they want a continuation of Cowen and Lenihan’s austerity programme, regardless of whoever leads the government.

The government had decided as far back  as December last year, when their latest drastic budget cuts were presented and passed, to turn student nurses into ‘free labour’, or, as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has rightly called it, ‘slave labour’.

As the General Election approaches, the Labour Party leadership continues getting rid of the most radical aspects of its election programme. And, Labour Party members only get to know about these changes through the media.

Ireland may go to the polls on March 11th, but the huge implosion in the Fianna Fáil Party might yet bring that date forward. The FF and Green Party coalition government has eventually reached the end of the line, the Greens have left the government and will “support the finance bill from the opposition benches” Three years of austerity measures and a protracted period of political and financial uncertainty have completely transformed the political landscape in the state and affected the consciousness of all classes within society also.

Who gains from the cut in the minimum wage proposed in the four year plan? Well, according to Brian Cowen it’s the very people who are on the minimum wage just now. As usual with Cowen, it is a question of denying what is abundantly clear to everyone else.

After weeks of dancing the seven veils, trying to hide what they were up to, the government, the EU and the IMF announced on prime time Television today (28 November) that they have signed up to an €85 billion bailout. The money which has 5.8% interest rate attached to it will go to recapitalise the banks( €10bn); fund the budget (€50bn) and deal with “banking contingencies” (€25bn). So in other words the whole lot is going to bail out the banks and keep the government finances going.

100,000 marched from Wood Quay to the GPO today in protest against the austerity measures outlined in the four year plan despite the cold wintery weather. A few even demonstrated in a curagh on the Liffey – the workers navy has arrived. Meanwhile the government are behind closed doors discussing the bailout package with the officials.

Despite some increasingly desperate and clumsy attempts to hide the fact that they were in discussions with the EU and the IMF over a bailout the Government was eventually forced to admit what everyone already knew; that they were desperate to secure a huge bailout to attempt to stabilise the Irish economy. The announcement was met with a huge wave of anger and the thin veneer of normality in Ireland has been ripped apart on prime time TV.

News that the Coalition reached a deal with the EU and IMF hasn’t come as a shock. Reports were circulating for days that the EU and the Finance Ministry were locked in discussions and some have even claimed that the IMF was been briefing the heavyweight financial bourgeois press internationally in an attempt to pressurise the coalition and the opposition parties into seeking a deal. This article was written prior to the announcement of the deal but its analysis has been confirmed by subsequent events.

We are reprinting this article because the arguments used by Connolly in answering the capitalists are as valid today as when they were written in 1901. Taken from the Workers’ Republic, May 1901.

Each measure to which capitalism is constrained in order to make a step forward in restoring equilibrium, each and all of this immediately acquires a decisive significance for the social equilibrium, tends more and more to undermine it, and ever more powerfully impels the working class to struggle.” (Leon Trotsky 1921)

Dr Jim McDaid’s decision to resign as a TD is just the latest symptom in the terminal crisis affecting the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition. While the government still holds a tenuous majority of three seats, there are four by-elections pending, the chances are that we will be propelled into a new general election sooner rather than later. Doubtless Cowen and Lenihan will try and hang on. But the opinion polls and the economic catastrophe mean that the coalition is likely to lurch from one crisis to another.

The cuts announced by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer represent around 6.9% in headline public spending cuts in the North over the next four years. This amounts to some £4 billion in revenue spending, but there is also a 40% reduction to come in capital spending on roads, hospitals and other public projects.